03-01-2018 Letters and Commentary

GUN CONTROL… Happily (if there can be such a thing) in the wake of the slaughter of 17 innocents at the school in Florida on Valentine’s Day, there appears to be a sustained national debate on the need for gun control. Just days ago Florida legislators proposed a bill to raise the legal age limit to buy an automatic rifle from 18 to 21. President trump is talking about national legislation to increase the required checks for the purchase of guns, and is talking about the need for increased mental health care on the state and federal level. He is also suggesting that legislators take a stronger stand for gun control despite intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association to the contrary. As a fan of the second amendment and gun rights (we can keep our freedom and regulate the ownership of automatic weapons), I would dearly love to the see the NRA take the lead in the debate instead of continuing to deny any connection gun accessibly might have to gun ownership and use. If the NRA continues to ignore the issue, it may find more unwelcome restraints sought by the groundswell of public opinion against any type of gun ownership. Ultimately, the NRA might become irrelevant and inconsequential through loss of public support and membership.

RIP DALE… I was saddened to see the obituary for Dale Pallas in the paper this past week. Dale was a printer here at the Record in our early years. He had worked with Gordon Banasik on and off for a while. When Gordon sold the Record and moved on, Dale took over for several years, running the presses downstairs and taking care of Record customers. He was also a friendly guy and introduced me to many folks in the local community and in that special band of printers. There is a dwindling number left and in a little time, there will be none that took care of all the hometown printing needs of invitations, business cards, letterheads, and such. As in many things, the printers of yesteryear, with ink in their veins and more smudged on their fingers and faces, will be but a memory. Replaced as so much has, by robotic machines and thoughtless computers. Another of those hometown printers has left us. Rest in peace, Dale Pallas.

A SURE SIGN OF SPRING… Grandson Benny said recently that spring was definitely coming because the Coloma Dairy Queen was opening soon. Not that I was looking forward to it too much! DQ owner Amber Kelly must have been reading Ben’s mind. She sent a note to the Record… “It’s always a sign of spring when the DQ opens. We will open Thursday, March 1.” So if your get your Record Thursday, trot on over and be first in line! For those that choose to wait a bit, Watervliet’s Frosty Boy will be open on St. Pat’s Day, March 17.

COPY EDITOR… I’m pleased to announce Laurie Kibler has been promoted to the title Copy Editor. Laurie, a lifetime Watervliet native, joined the Record nearly two years ago as our proof reader. Since that time, she has surpassed her proof reader status repeatedly by accepting new responsibilities and readily aiding Amy, Maryann and myself in preparing a new issue each week and serving our readers. Her main “job” continues as “proofing” these pages for errors of spelling and grammar. At the same time, she has performed ably at working with us journalists (writers) in editing our copy for errors of fact, context, and structure.

Women’s history and Social Security March is Women’s History Month. This is a time to focus not just on women’s achievements, but on the challenges women continue to face. In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Knowing this, you can take control of your own rich and independent history, with knowledge you can get from Social Security. Social Security has served a vital role in the lives of women for over 80 years. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women may have decades to enjoy retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a female born today can expect to live more than 80 years. As a result, experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, they need to plan early and wisely. A great place to start is with Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. It gives you a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits. Plug in different retirement ages and projected earnings to get an idea of how such things might change your future benefit amounts. You can use this valuable tool at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. You should also visit Social Security’s financial planning website at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners. It provides detailed information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other life or career events can affect your Social Security. Your benefits are based on your earnings, so create your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings were reported correctly. Your account also provides estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. If you want more information about how Social Security supports women through life’s journey, Social Security has a booklet that you may find useful. It’s called Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know. You can find it online at www.socialsecurity.gov/ pubs/10127.html. 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.

Even Billy Graham needed a new beginning William Franklin Graham Jr., known has Rev. Billy Graham, was born Nov. 7, 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He died at the age of 99 on Nov. 21, 2018. The name Billy Graham has stood for a spiritual presence in our nation for decades. Advisor to presidents from both sides of the isle, preacher at massive Gospel crusades that filled arenas all over the world, even speaking to over a million at a coordinated Korean outreach in 1973, Billy Graham became a household name for many years as he presented the simple gospel of repentance from sin and acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Today, as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continues sharing God’s love and redemption, his son, Franklin Graham, heads Samaritan’s Purse (www.samaritanspurse.org), a world-wide relief organization that has accomplished much in relieving suffering in the midst of disasters: “After sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said ‘Go and do likewise.’ That is the mission of Samaritan’s Purse—to follow the example of Christ by helping those in need and proclaiming the hope of the Gospel.” Touring his boyhood home and the Billy Graham Library and Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, I came upon a little open book on display. It was a young Billy Graham’s New Testament. At the age of 15 he recorded his decision to personally accept Jesus Christ: “Being convinced that I am a sinner, and believing that Christ died for me, I now receive Him as my personal Savior, and with His help I purpose confessing Him before men.” It is signed “Billy Graham, November 1, 1934”. That was just six days before his 16th birthday. He has lived up to his commitment. So, just like each of us, even Billy Graham needed a new beginning. And just like for each of us, it is a new beginning of forgiveness, purpose, and solid hope for the future. Have you had your new beginning? If not or if you’re not sure, or if your path needs renewal, visit peacewithgod.net. Find out about God’s great love for you, and no matter what your age; choose the path of life!

Happy 100th birthday A surprise birthday party was given for Ada Wetzel by her friends at the Knight of Columbus Bingo Hall in Watervliet. Ada resides at Woodland Terrace of Paw Paw Lake in Coloma and she turns 100 years young on Friday, March 2, 2018.

Thank you Dear Editor, Thank you for all of your support! I’m looking forward to a great year representing our community. Zoe Smith Miss Watervliet 2018 2nd Runner-up

United Way of Southwest Michigan & Berrien Community Foundation set up Disaster Relief Fund for local families To help address the problems of the widespread flooding throughout Berrien and Cass counties, United Way of Southwest Michigan and the Berrien Community Foundation have partnered to establish a Disaster Relief Fund to help with the recovery needs of families impacted. Through the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan, 100 percent of all funds will go directly to disaster relief assistance. “All dollars raised by this Relief Fund will be used to help with both immediate, basic needs and long-term recovery of families affected by the flooding,” states Anna Murphy, President of United Way of Southwest Michigan.

To give to the Disaster Relief Fund, visit www.uwsm.org/relief or text UWSMRELIEF to 51555. “We are extremely appreciative of the effort being made by United Way and the Berrien Community Foundation,” adds Breeze Ettl, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan. “The Disaster Relief Fund will go a long way in providing the support so many families will need in Southwest Michigan.” If you’d like to make a donation via cash or check, please send to the following address (checks can be made payable to BCF/Disaster Relief Fund): Disaster Relief Fund c/o Berrien Community Foundation, 2900 South State Street, Suite 2E, St. Joseph, MI 49085.

United Way and BCF are working closely with the Red Cross for any emergent volunteer needs. The Red Cross volunteers on the ground and in shelters have many hours of specialized training to prepare them for disaster response. Please understand that untrained volunteer opportunities might be limited until new needs are identified. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Julee Laurent, Volunteer Engagement Manager at United Way, at julee.laurent@uwsm.org or 269-932-3566. United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. They do this by LIVING UNITED, by forging unlikely partnerships, by finding new solutions to old problems, and by mobilizing the best resources. To join the fight, visit www.uwsm.org. Rep. Griffin sponsors bill to better protect children from abuse State Rep. Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, unveiled her latest legislation to better protect Michigan children from child abuse, neglect and sexual conduct or abuse. The bill, part of a 10-bill legislative package to protect Michigan’s children and survivors of childhood sexual abuse, increases the number of authority figures who must report evidence of abuse. Griffin helped unveil the bill at a Capitol news conference on Monday, Feb. 26. Her legislation mandates coaches, assistant coaches and athletic trainers working with youth leagues, K-12 school sports, and college athletic activities to report suspected abuse to the proper authorities, including law enforcement. “As someone who has coached youth sports and was required to be a mandatory reporter as a teacher, I believe that increasing the number of adults who must report abuse or neglect will help keep our children and student athletes safer,” Griffin said. “Coaches and trainers are sometimes in the best position to identify abuse. It is important we require them to report it to provide better protection for children.” The legislative package: Expands the criminal statute of limitations to enable prosecutors to hold offenders accountable; increases criminal penalties and expands definitions related to the possession of child sexually abusive material; ends immunity for abusers and enablers of abuse; preserves anonymity for survivors in civil lawsuits; expands the civil statute of limitations for survivors; increases criminal penalties for mandatory reporters, such as coaches and athletic trainers, who fail to report child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse. The legislation is inspired by the recent sexual assault allegations against former physician Larry Nassar, who has been sentenced to up 175 years in federal and state prison for his crimes against more than 200 victims.

LifeBridge Church of South Haven to host XO Marriage Conference XO is the largest marriage conference of its kind, designed to enhance intimacy, renew passion, and refresh your relationship. Anyone, no matter where they are on the journey of marriage, is invited for great teaching and inspiration to refuel their marriage. Everyone 18 years or older, married or hoping to be married some day, are welcome to attend this conference at LifeBridge Church, 10420 M-140 Hwy in South Haven beginning on Friday, March 16 at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17. Cost is $30 per person. LifeBridge is one of hundreds of sites around the world hosting the conference as a video venue featuring speakers like Jimmy Evans, Max Lucado, Craig Groeschel, Jefferson Bethke, and Miles McPherson. For more information on times and event details, or to register, visit webuildbridges.org/x02018. For questions, call the church office at 269-872-3464 or e-mail Nicole atrnarrLgges@webuildbridges.org.

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