03-16-2017 Letters and Commentary

Planning will help you see green in retirement

Social Security has been a cornerstone of financial security for over 80 years. As you might already know, a lifetime of measured discipline can ensure a comfortable retirement. Social Security can help you plan, save, and see plenty of green in your golden years.

Social Security is part of the retirement plan of almost every American worker. If you’re among the 96 percent of workers in the United States covered under Social Security, it is helpful to know what benefits you are entitled to. Social Security bases your benefit payment on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years you didn’t work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you worked steadily. How do you know what your retirement benefits might be so you can plan?  Create a safe and secure my Social Security account to view estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and create your account today.

Social Security benefits help secure your today and tomorrow, but many people will need more retirement income. Saving for retirement is key. You might also have a pension or 401k. Combining as many savings resources will mean more income once you retire.

Your personal my Social Security account continues to benefit you once you file for benefits and beyond.  Use your account to check the status of your application and, once you are receiving benefits, use your account to manage them.  For example, you can start or change your direct deposit, change your address and phone number, get proof of benefits, and much more – online and at your convenience.  Learn about all the great advantages of having your own my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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.

BAD NEWS AND GOOD NEWS… Many folks commented this week when hearing the bank branch of G.W. Jones Exchange Bank was closing in Watervliet, “I’m not surprised, they had no business.”

My reply, they had business just not enough to make it worthwhile (profitable). It seems whenever a business closes, many folks blame the owners or managers. Sure poor management can ruin a business but more often it is the business climate (especially in a small town) that hurts a business most. We all saw it when the freeways bypassed Main Street USA. We saw it when the big box stores undercut prices offered on Main Street. We saw the malls fail when stores moved out to better and cheaper locations. We saw small discount chains move back to Main Street USA to fill the void created when the hometown owned and operated stores closed.

Kay and Cordell Jones are to be complimented and thanked for coming to Watervliet when other banks closed up for better locations. They brought their G.W. Jones Exchange Bank to Main St. Watervliet at the urging of local government and business leaders with the expectation that local businesses, local government, and local citizens would become customers.

While many did open accounts and take out loans (that’s how local banks survive) many more did not; even in the face of lower service charges and better interest rates.

The Jones’ did all they could to support the community of Watervliet. The community did not do enough to keep the G.W. Jones Exchange Bank open.

The City Commission and the Downtown Development Authority while welcoming the Bank to Watervliet took its own sweet time to actually open business accounts there. My own opinion is some city officials, elected and otherwise, deliberately blocked efforts to open public accounts there.

The soon to be vacant bank building in Watervliet is not the Jones’ fault.

NOW THE GOOD NEWS… On the heels of a recent announcement on Facebook that the wHarehouse Salon on Main Street Watervliet is closing, I’ve heard the buyer of the building intends to locate an antique shop there.

That is good news for the downtown as antique shops have located downtown, then so have other new businesses that blossom off the increased traffic.

When there were a handful of antique shops on Watervliet’s Main Street a decade or so ago, open all weekend, all Main Street thrived. They closed or moved away because of lifestyle changes and other opportunities.

I also heard that a CASEY’S truck stop and convenience store will be built across from the Burger King on Arndt Drive.

Word is that another brewery is planned for the long closed Rookies’ Bar and Grill on Red Arrow Highway between the Watervliet High School and Main Street.

Also, downtown, in the former Main Street Pharmacy, plans are moving ahead to locate a coffee shop and a retail business there.

Good news for Watervliet indeed. With so much growth and new business, perhaps the other vacant buildings will soon have tenants.

WE FOUND THE MISSING MONTH… Wow we sure had a warm (and sunny) February, at least here in SW Michigan. Folks were raking yards and getting the garden grounds ready for planting. I got my boat out of storage and began putting it back together. Better-prepared fishermen were catching trophy bass on Paw Paw Lake.

Then the month ended. Mother Nature this past weekend reminded us who is in charge. Bitter cold froze the shamrocks at the St. Patrick’s Lighted Parade Saturday. A couple inches of snow fell Monday and Tuesday. The weatherman predicted “normal” cold for the rest of the week (and beyond).

The cold winter days we avoided in February showed up this March.

Frankly, I’d just as soon have the February weather where it belongs and the March winds in March, sans winds.

Meanwhile Daylight Saving Time scooted in before church on Sunday. I forgot to set the clocks ahead at bedtime the night before and begrudged moving the clock hands ahead before I had my coffee. I don’t mind missing an hour of sleep time; I do mind losing an hour first thing in the morning.

Home missions

My cheek pressed hard against the window as we approached Manila Airport; I peered down at the mass of boats extending far from the shore. Flying low over the watery homes that were the Manila Bay boat people, one thought came to mind: “A lot of people call this place ‘home.’”

On a short-term summer mission assignment to the Philippines with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade, this was to become a great learning experience for me. That initial thought as we passed over the mass of intertwined fishing boats, sampans and rafts – “A lot of people call this place home,” could have been the theme of the whole Philippine adventure. All over the world, wherever there are people, wherever they live, they call it home, and God meets them right there. He speaks their language and He speaks to their hearts right where they are. To me that is amazing.

It is because of God’s profound love for all peoples that this is true. He desires that all would hear and come to discover His love, new life, new hope and forgiveness. It’s not through denominationalism, not through good works or good intentions. It’s through His undeserved, transforming grace alone.

You and I are tasked with sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who haven’t heard – wherever they are. He has promised that ultimately the whole world will hear that gospel. He has specifically told us to go, and has promised to be with us all along the way.

We are included in His plan to take the gospel message from our home to theirs. There is a creative way to help. Visit World Mission at www.worldmission.cc, or call 616-534-5689. Maybe we can’t go personally, but we can send the good news to wherever people call it “home.”

Watervliet High School Post Prom event needs more sponsors

Dear Editor,

We are stilling looking for sponsorship to make this a fun and safe night for our young adults. If you would like to help, contact either one of us listed below or send in your donation to the address listed.

As in the past, all Watervliet juniors and seniors are invited to attend this safe, chaperoned event regardless of their prom attendance. Last year we entertained approximately 175 students. Again this year we are holding the event at the YMCA in St. Joseph, the weekend of April 29 – 30. The event will include many activities like swimming, basketball, bean bags, a D.J., a bounce house, the popular hypnotist show and new this year a caricaturist. In addition, all juniors and seniors have an opportunity to take home a nice prize.

First and foremost, we would like to thank you again for your support of this event last year and for your continued support of our community and the surrounding communities. While the cost to put on an event of this nature is high, it is worth it to keep our students safe and we can do that with your help. We depend on businesses both large and small, and anything you can do is appreciated.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, it may be done in the form of a check made out to Watervliet High School. Other items are gift cards or items for our drawing which make it possible for every junior and senior to receive a prize. Donations can be mailed to Watervliet High School Attn: Post Prom Event, 450 E. Red Arrow Hwy., Watervliet, MI 49098 or can be picked up by calling 269-506-3692.

If you decide to donate and need our tax exempt number, it is E 38-6000690. If we need to fill out a specific form and apply for a donation another way, please let us know. Thank you for your time and consideration in assisting our efforts with this event.

Karla Liles

WHS Parent/Post Prom Chairperson

Phone: (269) 506-3692 cell

                Phone: (269)208-9654

Email: kliles@watervlietps.org

Deanna Shafer

WHS Parent/Post Prom Chairperson

Email: dshafer1989@yahoo.com

Letter of appreciation from the Coloma St. Patrick’s Day Committee

Dear Editor,

Thank you to all that participated in the St. Patrick’s Day evening lighted parade that was held on Saturday, March 11 in downtown Coloma and all the other fun events during the day.  The weather was cold but that didn’t stop the 28 lighted entries that paraded through the downtown or the spectators that lined the streets.  Prizes were awarded in categories of Float, Costumed Individual, Marching Unit, Municipal and Decorated Vehicle adult and youth, as well as an “Over All” winner. We distributed $1,200 in coins between all the winners, as well as generous gift certificates and other prizes donated by area merchants.

The winner of our window display contest this year was Four Seasons Spa and Pool and they received $150.00 of advertising courtesy of the Tri-City Record.

The St. Pat Run/Walk held that morning was a success and we appreciate the Lion’s Club hard work in organizing the event. The proceeds will go toward Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Thank you to the Coloma Public Library that did an Irish Story Time, craft and cookies for the children on Saturday and also held their popular Book Sale.

The North Berrien Historical Museum had a very well attended Irish Scavenger Hunt with interesting historical facts and delicious refreshments and treats.

Each year none of the activities could be done without the support of the merchants and businesses in the community and the help of volunteers.  Thank you to the following businesses, committee members and individual sponsors: Back on the Rack, Best Way Disposal, Bob Howell, Centsible Heating and Air, Chemical Bank, Coloma City, Coloma Glad-Peach Committee, Coloma Lionesses Club, Coloma Lions, Coloma Public Works, Coloma Charter Township, Coloma McDonalds, Coloma Township Police Department and Chief Roe, Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce, Denise Barowicz of Edward Jones Investments, DiMaggio’s Pizza, Downtown Digits, Easy Street Inn, Edgewater Bank, Four Season’s Spa and Pool, Getz Dentistry, Grapevine Nursery, H & R Block, Honor Credit Union, JnK Gift Shop,  Jim and Sherry Polashak, Kandy Hays, Karla Smothers, Lane Automotive, Lazy Ballerina Winery, Lifestyle Chiropractic, Linda and Sieg Freitag, Lisa Streu, Marsha Hammond,  M & M Polishing, Midwest Civil Engineers, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Moss Chiropractic, North Berrien Community Development, Orchard Hill Landfill, Randy’s BP station, R & B Stelter Farms LLC, Rory Bell, Ross Streu, Sandy Kraemer, Sharon Yoder State Farm Insurance, Susie Moser, Tony Bertuca, Vincent J. Jewelers, Watervliet Fruit Exchange and Woodland Terrace of Paw Paw Lake.  A special thank you to the North Berrien Fire and Rescue for hosting the parade line-up and awards ceremony, and the Ladies Auxiliary for coordinating refreshments after the parade.  Thank you to the volunteers that judged the parade and the window decorating contest.

If you would like to be a part of the committee, please contact the Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce office at 468-4430 for more information. We look forward to the 2018 parade on Saturday, March 17.

Sincerely,

Chana Kniebes

Coloma St. Patrick’s Day Committee

Thank you to the Tri-City Record from the 2017 Hartford royalty

Dear Editor,

Thank you for covering the 2017 Miss and Mr. Hartford pageants, along with the year’s events! Everyone at Tri-City Record does so much for the communities of Hartford, Watervliet and Coloma. It is greatly appreciated!

Hunter Ackerman, Mr. Hartford

Mariel Hallgren, Miss Hartford

Jessica Rosales, 2nd Runner-up &

Miss Congeniality

Jake Griffith, Mr. Hartford

1st Runner-up

Garrett Brandt, Mr. Hartford

2nd Runner-up

Ricky Austin, Mr. Nice Guy

Congressional Republicans are supporting a cover up

Dear Editor,

House Republicans, including Congressman Fred Upton, recently blocked an attempt by Democrats to force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns to Congress.

Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said that Congress has a responsibility to hold the executive branch “to the highest standard of transparency to ensure the public interest is placed first.”  Pascrell and other Democrats also said the tax returns would help lawmakers and the public determine whether Trump has any investments in Russia, or owes money to Russian oligarchs, and what connections these may have to his perplexing support for Vladimir Putin, Russia’s aggressive, authoritarian leader.

This move is one that places Republicans in peril for two reasons.  Number one, sentiment in the country is already in favor of the release of Trump’s tax returns, and that sentiment grows in direct proportion to the concern about Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

Secondly, with the expanding issue of interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian officials having touched Jeff Sessions, it would appear that an independent investigation of this situation is required.

Once such a probe is launched, one subpoena will enable release of the information. The result of this vote positions the House Republicans as supporting a cover up of any unethical or illegal activity that might be found in the investigation. The vote, along with the current position of the Oversight Committee not to hold any hearings on the matter, looks like nothing short of an act of self-immolation by the GOP.

Shari Del Mariani, Stevensville

Health care should leave no American behind

Dear Editor,

A very powerful opinion piece was published in the March 8 edition of USA Today by Mr. Taylor J. Newman, a former Army field artillery officer who is now a second-year medical student at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  In his op-ed, he discusses the Army creed of never leaving a fallen comrade behind.  It is a shared understanding that Army personnel have each other’s backs.

Mr. Newman then goes on to discuss the Affordable Care Act in the following words: “The Affordable Care Act has made progress in many areas, chiefly in decreasing the number of uninsured from about 43 million to 28 million.  However, many Americans still lack basic insurance.  These uninsured and underinsured are being left behind.”

He continues: “By refusing to embrace some form of universal health care, we have effectively said we do not have each other’s backs.  That is not in line with the values of the military, and it should not be in line with the values we share as Americans…We should start by agreeing that no matter how the system is organized, everyone should be able to easily afford quality health care.  The way to win this battle is to first unify around one basic principle:  that we will leave no fallen American behind.”

Given the rancor and politics that surround health care and the ACA, the perspective presented by Mr. Taylor is a welcome change. The spectrum of solutions now being discussed in Congress run from absolute repeal to alternatives that will increase cost and increase the number of uninsured.  And rather than focusing on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for those Americans without proper health care, the main concern of the Republican Party seems to be protecting the profits of the insurance industry and sticking to an ideology that any form of universal health care is un-American. This perspective flies in the face of our military and civilian traditions.

Kenneth R. Peterson

MAJ USA (Ret.)

Republican ACA “replacement” plan is a disaster

Dear Editor,

Congressional Republicans, including Rep. Fred Upton, have submitted a health care “replacement” plan that will result in the loss of health insurance for millions of low and moderate income Americans. The Republicans know this, but don’t seem to care.

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), a member of the Republican “doctors’ caucus”, told Stat News, a website focused on health-care coverage: “Morally, spiritually, socially,” the poor, including the homeless, “just don’t want health care.” He then brought religion into the fray. In response to a question about Medicaid, which expanded under Obamacare to more than 30 states, Rep. Marshall replied: “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us’”. What hypocrisy! Jesus did not abandon the poor and unfortunate, he treated them!

It is hard to believe this guy is a licensed physician. I quote from the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath: “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.” No warmth, sympathy or understanding here!

Dr. Marshall’s statements exemplify much of what is wrong with the Republican “replacement” plan. It is harsh and uncaring and would cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance. It would also drive up health insurance costs, especially for older Americans, and would greatly increase the federal deficit and debt.

The Republican plan is a disaster. Please contact Rep. Upton’s office and urge him to drop his support for this terrible bill.

Sandy Feldman, Lakeside

Parents, older adults, and caregivers encouraged to prevent traumatic brain injuries

 More than 28 people are hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every day in Michigan; more than one each hour. As March is Traumatic Brain Injury Prevention Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI) are encouraging residents to take steps to keep themselves and their families safe.

On average, there were more than 10,300 hospitalizations and 1,500 deaths a year between 2010 and 2014 due to a TBI in Michigan, and the majority of these injuries are from falls. Other preventable causes of TBI include being struck by or against an object or person, motor vehicle crashes, and assaults, including abusive head trauma.

In many cases, traumatic brain injuries and deaths are preventable, said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. Specifically, parents, older adults, and caregivers are encouraged to take steps to eliminate the risk for these types of injuries and keep their loved ones safe.

Parents are encouraged to be involved in their teens driving education to help foster safe driving practices. Additionally, parents and caregivers are strongly encouraged to make sure infants have a safe sleep environment, and take steps to make sure TVs and heavy furniture are anchored. Older adults are encouraged to speak with their doctors for a falls risk assessment to prevent falls at home and improve mobility. All residents are encouraged to wear helmets when riding bikes or motorcycles, and everyone engaged in youth sports is encouraged to learn about sports concussions.

Michigan law requires that a youth athlete be immediately removed from physical participation in an athletic activity if a concussion is suspected. Signs and symptoms of a concussion include (but are not limited to) a headache or feeling of pressure in the head, nausea or vomiting, balance problems or dizziness, double or blurry vision, sensitivity to light and/or noise, feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy, having confusion or concentration or memory problems, not feeling right or feeling down.

An estimated 58,000 Michigan residents sustain a TBI every year, said Tom Constand, President of the BIAMI. Whatever stage of recovery they may be in, we can help survivors, families, caregivers and the public access Michigan’s extensive network of resources to help support TBI survivors.

More information is available from the BIAMI at 1-800-444-6443 or www.biami.org. Additionally, there are a number of informative resources about TBI at www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury.

For more tips to keep your home safe visit www.cpsc.gov, and www.safekids; more information about sports concussions is available at www.michigan.gov/spotsconcussion.

Additional resources for seniors for classes to prevent falls and improve mobility and independence may be found at www.greatatanyagemi.com.

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