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03-12-2020 Columns; W-A-Y Students of the Month; N.B. Historical Museum to feature presentation on t

Students of the Month W-A-Y Watervliet High School – February

Kayla Spears

Watervliet High School W-A-Y program is proud to announce their first student of the month for February is Kayla Spears. Kayla has been in the program since her freshman year. She is now a senior and looking forward to graduation.

In the past month she earned 1.5 credits, working hard from home on some very difficult subjects! Kayla does a great job of finding solutions to problems on her own, but reaching out when she does have a question. Kayla’s parents are Chrissy Merritt and Daniel Pruitt. Currently, she doesn’t have a job, but devotes her time to doing school work.

After she graduates, she would like to take some college courses and learn all she can about photography. Her goal is to also have an internship so she can build a portfolio. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and family and finding time to relax. Keep up the hard work, Kayla! The staff and students at W-A-Y look forward to watching her walk across the stage and collect her diploma soon!

Ariel Collins

Ariel Collins is the second W-A-Y student of the month for February. Ariel has been in the program for about a year and a half and is presently a senior well on her way to graduating! Ariel has also been working very hard from home. She does an amazing job of asking questions for help on her projects. Ariel’s dad is Michael Collins.

In her spare time, she enjoys watching TV or cleaning! When she isn’t working hard to graduate, she also works at Culvers. After high school, Ariel would like to take a gap year before attending college. She is still deciding between being a labor and delivery nurse or a labor midwife.

Ariel is a very good example of a self motivated student. She has a lot on her plate, yet still finds time for school work every week. They look forward to seeing Ariel graduate very soon, also!

Ronnie Nelson

Ronnie Nelson is the third W-A-Y student of the month for February. He joined the W-A-Y program at the beginning of the month, but took off quickly. In that time, he earned over a credit by coming to the lab often and turning in projects each time he was in the lab. He is currently in his junior year. Ronnie’s mom is Chasity Oehler.

In his spare time he likes to play video games, make music and hang out with his friends. After he graduates, he would like to either go to college or find a job that allows him to use his love of music. Currently he doesn’t have a job outside of school but is working on getting one.

Ronnie is a hard worker. He uses his time in the lab to make sure he gets things done. He asks good questions and is willing to help others when there is a need. The staff of WHS W-A-Y looks forward to seeing Ronnie work through his junior year and hopefully graduate next spring!

N.B. Historical Museum to feature presentation on the Morton House, March 17

 One of the oldest houses in Southwest Michigan, the Morton House has had a front-row seat to over 170 years of local history. On Tuesday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the North Berrien Historical Museum in Coloma, historian Chuck Jager will present “The Tragedy and Triumph of the Morton House.”

This program will be a fascinating look at the Morton family, the house they built, and the resulting meeting place and museum. The story includes debilitating illness, bankruptcy, and tragic deaths, as well as personal achievements, a business that defined Southwest Michigan, and the establishment of important institutions. Jager will also reveal newly uncovered information about a strange and mysterious death on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Presenter Chuck Jager is a local high school history teacher and has authored two recent books on local history. He serves on the board of the Morton House Museum, “The Home of Benton Harbor History.” No RSVP is required for this free program. The North Berrien Historical Museum is located at 300 Coloma Avenue. Please contact with any questions, or call the Museum at (269) 468-3330.

LOOK OUT AMERICAN IDOL! Even though he barely stands as tall as Coach Johnson’s elbow, 8-year-old Hunter Conklin gives a big voice to the National Anthem at Hartford home basketball games. Son of JV Coach Corey Conklin and his wife Tonya, this pint-sized crooner who attends 2nd grade at Lawrence Elementary has both impressed and delighted fans several times this season.

National Nutrition Month

Each piece of food you select to eat throughout the day has an impact on your overall health. Trying to pick the right foods and making sure they are nutritious can be hard. However working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, or RDN, and/or creating goals that work best for you will help. March is National Nutrition Month, and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to “Eat right, bite by bite.”

Each week they encourage you to try and accomplish one goal, like practice portion control or planning your meals for the week.

One way to improve your nutritional health is by setting small goals, like eating 3 fruits per day. This makes achieving your goal a little easier and gives you a sense of accomplishment when completed.  Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help create a healthy diet. Preparing grab and go snacks, drinking water, and encouraging a variety of foods in the diet can also help. Every little step you take towards your nutrition is a step in the right direction.

At the Berrien County Health Department, low-income women, infants, and children can find nutrition counseling and food assistance benefits as well as access to many health services through the Women, Infants, and Children program, or WIC. For over 40 years, the WIC Program has been providing nutrition education and counseling. Registered dietitians help families develop lifelong healthy eating habits through one-on-one counseling where they learn: What to eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding; how to feed infants and growing kids healthy foods; how to successfully breastfeed; shopping for healthy foods on a budget; how to cook healthy, delicious meals.

To learn more about the WIC program or healthy eating through National Nutrition Month, contact the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 or

Social Security and household workers

Do you plan to pay a cleaning person, cook, gardener, babysitter, or other household worker at least $2,200 in 2020? This amount includes any cash you pay for your household employee’s transportation, meals, and housing. If you will pay at least $2,200 to one person, you have some additional financial responsibilities.

When you pay at least $2,200 in wages to a household worker, you must do all of the following: Deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes from those wages; pay these taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and report the wages to Social Security.

For every $2,200 in wages, most household employees earn credits toward Social Security benefits and Medicare coverage. To learn more about credits, see the following “How your household worker earns credits for Social Security”. Generally, people need 10 years of work to qualify for: Retirement benefits (as early as age 62); disability benefits for the worker and the worker’s dependents; survivors benefits for the worker’s family; and Medicare benefits.

You can learn more about reporting household worker income at

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

How much will market volatility really affect you?

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: If you’re an investor, you haven’t liked what you’ve seen in the financial markets recently. The effects of the coronavirus triggered a market “correction” – a decline of 10 percent or more – and more volatility is almost certainly on the way. But instead of fretting over your investment statements, you could consider some more positive approaches to this situation.

For one thing, ask yourself this: When do you really need the money from your investment accounts, such as your IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan? These are retirement accounts, so, depending on your age, you may not need to tap into them for 20, 30 or even 40 years. If so, your losses may be “paper” ones only for now and aren’t subjecting you to imminent financial jeopardy. This isn’t to minimize the effect this downturn will have on you, of course – it always takes time to recover lost ground, and there are no guarantees with investing. However, although past performance does not guarantee future results, it is useful to note that, over its long history, the U.S. stock market has typically trended in one direction – up – despite serious and sometimes lengthy declines such as we saw in the Great Depression and, to a lesser extent, the bursting of the “” bubble of the early 2000s and the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Nonetheless, you may have shorter-term goals – a wedding, down payment on a home, overseas trip, etc. – for which you need to save. For these goals, though, you wouldn’t want to touch your IRA or 401(k), anyway, as you’d likely face taxes and penalties. Instead, you’ll want your money invested in liquid, low-risk accounts that will be minimally affected, if at all, by declines in the financial markets. These vehicles might include Certificates of Deposit (CDs), money market accounts and even good old-fashioned U.S. Savings Bonds, all of which offer the protection of principal and can pay higher rates than traditional bank savings accounts.

But you might also have longer-term goals that can be addressed through investments that may be somewhat or largely free of the effects of market volatility. For example, to supplement your retirement income, you might consider a fixed annuity, which can provide you with a guaranteed interest rate and, depending on how it’s structured, an income stream you can’t outlive.

Apart from the issue of when you might need money from your investment accounts, you might want to ask yourself another question: Just how much of my net worth is tied up in my portfolio? If you’re like many people, you have other assets apart from your investments. If you’re a homeowner, consider your house: Has it dropped in value at all during the recent market decline? Probably not. Do you still have just as much equity in it as you did a month ago? You might have even more. In other words, the value of your investments may have dropped a certain percentage, but the decline in your overall net worth may well be significantly smaller.

So, here’s the bottom line: Large drops in the financial markets aren’t much fun for investors – but that doesn’t mean the bottom has dropped out on your financial future. Keeping things in perspective is a good move in all of life’s endeavors – including investing.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Edward Jones, Member SIPC



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