02-23-2017 Letters and Commentary

LETTERS

Gratitude from the family of Maurice “Skip” Schinck

Dear Editor,

I just wanted to thank the community for showing such respect when our father passed away.

He and his father Ace started the Hagar Township Fire Department (known as the North Berrien Fire Department). My father dedicated his life to his community through his work for Hagar Township, Coloma Schools, Skip’s Ace Garage Towing and Service Station, the fire department and ambulance.

We want to especially thank the North Berrien Fire Association, Watervliet Fire Department, Bridgman Fire Department and Benton Township Fire Department for their assistance with his memorial service. Our father will be truly missed.

The Maurice “Skip” Schinck Family Cindy LaGrow, Kim Derrick,

Carrie Littlefield and Cheryl Schinck

“Night to Shine” a success due to the help of so many caring individuals

Dear Editor,

I would like to say thank you to the Tri-City Record for sharing an article informing others and inviting them to a “Night to Shine”, a special needs prom that we recently held, sponsored by The Shore Church and The Tim Tebow Foundation. You helped get the word out to draw many to our event.

We were able to celebrate special needs individuals, by showing them the love of God, and treating them as the Kings and Queens that they all are.

I also would like to say thank you to the planners who helped with the prom, the wonderful volunteers, the parents and caregivers who brought their loved one to the event, and Coloma Mayor James Polashak and State Representative Kim LaSata for your heart felt presentations. To all the individuals who were cheering the prom attendees on as they came down the red carpet, from sports mascots, to Sheriff Paul Bailey, Mrs. Michigan, Elvis and others, your time investment made memories of a lifetime.

I was truly humbled to be a part of this event and I pray that we will all show special needs individuals how loved and awesome they are everyday and not just one time a year.

Kevin Hester, Pastor

The Shore Church, St. Joseph

Change to full retirement age in 2017

“Full retirement age” refers to the age when a person can claim their Social Security benefits without any reduction, even if they are still working part or full time.  In other words, you don’t actually need to retire from your work to claim your full benefits. Also note that waiting until you’re 70, if you can, will bring you a higher monthly benefit. The choices you make will affect any benefit your spouse or children can receive on your record, too. If you claim benefits early, it will reduce their potential benefit as well as yours.

As the bells rang in a new year, they also rang in changes in 2017 for people considering claiming Social Security retirement benefits. For people who attain age 62 in 2017 (i.e., those born between January 2, 1955 and January 1, 1956), full retirement age is 66 and two months.

Full retirement age was age 65 for many years. However, due to a law passed by Congress in 1983, it has been gradually increasing, beginning with people born in 1938 or later, until it reaches 67 for people born after 1959.

You may start receiving Social Security benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the higher your monthly benefit will be. Your monthly benefits will be reduced permanently if you start them any time before full retirement age. For example, if you start receiving benefits in 2017 at age 62, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced permanently by about 26 percent.

On the other hand, if you wait to start receiving your benefits until after your full retirement age, then your monthly benefits will be permanently increased. The amount of this increase is two-thirds of one percent for each month –– or eight percent for each year –– that you delay receiving them until you reach age 70.

If you pass away, your retirement date can affect the benefit amount your surviving loved ones receive. If you started receiving retirement benefits before full retirement age, we cannot pay the full amount to your survivors. Their benefit amount will be based on your reduced benefits.

You can learn more by visiting our Retirement Planner at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

Passing the baton

The drive across Pennsylvania was always grueling. The first three hundred miles of the 1700-mile ride from Philadelphia to Colorado Springs followed the winding, up-and-down “Pennsylvania Green Stamp” aka Pennsylvania Turnpike. What a relief when signs for Wheeling, West Virginia finally appeared on the other side of Pittsburg!

From there the drive got better. The first milestone had again been successfully passed, now on to Ohio and points west. “Colorado or bust!”

Journeys are like that – some smooth roads, some winding, some tunnels, construction zones and detours – all part of the adventure. Then, finally, the front range of the Rockies and Pikes Peak come into view! Another good cup of coffee and a second wind would get me home again.

Plymouth Congregational Church has been a journey for me. And now it is time to hand over the keys. God has kindly blessed PCC these 11-1/2 years that my wife, Janie, and I have been there, and He has blessed us as well. It’s been a good journey. We’ve met some great people along the way, and there have been helpers when I needed them to assist me on to my destination. God has been good.

So now I “pass the baton” on to another Pastor, Larry Easton, who will take my place as of March 1, 2017. Larry is committed to teaching the truth of the Word of God; he will continue the race strongly.

I will continue writing “Spiritual Compass Points” and publishing an internet blog by that same name. I have no new pastoral ambitions. I am not leaving for another church, and I am not leaving because of any “issues”, “problems”, or “offenses”. I am leaving because I believe this leg of the journey is done.

May God bless us all as He directs our future steps.

WE NEED FEDERAL PROTECTION FROM SCAM ARTISTS… There is a great TV commercial out there, a guy in a security guard uniform in a bank being robbed advised bank customers he’s not a security guard but is a security advisor. He then says, “There is a bank robbery.”

There are a huge number of scams being run against American consumers, mostly on credit and debit card customers and others through phone fraud.

While most companies that have products being scammed do a good job of notifying their customers they could be victims of fraud, they do little else.

Most consumers (customers) are on their own. Even credit card companies that offer some transaction protection, leave it up to the customer to recover their losses and to seek legal protection.

Perhaps there needs to be federal protection from such fraud, like there is for using the mail to illegally solicit funds.

It could be our enemies could do more damage supporting financial scams than tinkering with our elections (and make lots of money at the same time).

I have included a press release from I&M warning our readers about  a scam but offers no actual protection or action even though it is people misrepresenting themselves as I&M collection employees.

Under the section that offers some action, there is none, just the promise of things I&M will not do. Somewhat like the “security warn guard” in the commercial that does not offer any protection or action.

“Indiana Michigan Power (I&M), an operating unit of American Electric Power, is warning customers of scam artists posing as I&M personnel and threatening to disconnect service unless an immediate payment is made.

While utility frauds have been an ongoing issue, this week I&M has seen an uptick in scam reports from customers. I&M customers are receiving phone calls and the number showing up on the caller ID is I&M’s customer service phone number (1-800-311-4634).

Customers are told they are behind on their electric bill and are facing immediate disconnection. They are instructed to purchase a debit card, load the card with money, and then call an 800 number and provide the number from the card.

I&M customers who receive such calls should hang up immediately and contact their local police department and then I&M’s Customer Operations Center at 800-311-4634 to report the scam.

Any customer whose electric bill is past due will receive a written notice of a possible disconnection and how to prevent it. I&M will not demand immediate payment over the phone.

While the specific scam being reported this week involves stealing money by phone, customers should always be on guard and on the lookout for falsified mail and email as well.

What are the scammers doing? Threatening to shut off power unless an immediate payment is made; Instructing customers to go to a certain store and purchase a prepaid card then call for further instructions; Telling customers they need a new electric meter but must make a payment before the new meter is installed; Offering a discount on their I&M bill if they sign up for auto-pay; Negotiating total bill amounts if an immediate payment is made; Demanding a deposit is paid immediately.

How can I&M customers protect themselves?  Know I&M will never: Disconnect service without prior warning; Accept payments in person or call and ask for credit/debit card information over the phone; Insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card; Ask a customer to meet us in a parking lot, at a store or other location to make a payment.

For more information visit IndianaMichiganPower.com/StopScams.”

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