04-09-2020 School as it is known, over for year; Governor orders learning in whatever way possible;

THIS KUTE KID IS… Joseph Hag-gard. His parents are Olivia Val-entine of Hartford and Joseph Haggard of Simmesport, Louisiana. Joseph was born on New Year’s Day! Lisa and Willie Valentine of Co-loma along with Shelly Haggard of Hartford, and also Simmesport, are his loving grandparents.


School as it is known, over for year; Governor orders learning in whatever way possible

By Annette Christie On Thursday, April 2, 2020 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she was ordering the suspension of “in person” schooling for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-35 states that “the COVID-19 pandemic has already required, among other things, the closure of elementary and secondary schools throughout the state. Given the virus’s aggressively persistent spread and potentially fatal consequences, in-person instruction in our schools is too dangerous to resume in the near future, and very likely for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.” She did, however, state that in the face of this pandemic, the education of K-12 students must continue as fully and effectively as possible. Whitmer ordered that schools must continue to provide, and students must continue to receive, the highest level of educational opportunities possible under the difficult circumstances now before us. To do so, schools and students alike must be enabled to innovate and adapt, and those efforts must not be unduly inhibited by requirements or restrictions that are misplaced in this unprecedented time. As school districts all over the state were forced to come to grips with what exactly that means, Coloma and Watervliet schools were quick to communicate to parents of students that they would be implementing a plan to provide for that educational opportunity. Coloma Schools Coloma Community Schools Superintendent David Ehlers sent home a letter to parents on the coattails of Governor Whitmer’s announcement. The cease school order included all activities, events, and other in-person activities scheduled before the end of the year, were to be suspended. Ehler told parents in the letter that they would work to examine the order and do their best to provide answers to questions that will arise as the plan is developed for submission to Berrien RESA. Ehler asked for patience from parents as they worked through that process. Ehler did state that food service and distance learning would continue. “Coloma Community Schools is committed to continuing its efforts to mitigate the impact of lost instructional time through remote learning by assuring that all students will continue to have access to materials and support,” Ehlers said. Ehlers was confident that the preparations being made prior to this historical end of attending school, would keep them on track. “In our conversations with superintendents from other local districts, we have noted upon review, with the guidelines presented today that we believe that the work we have done in preparing for a possible school closure and our early implementation of remote learning puts us right on track to meet the requirements spelled out in the executive order,” Ehlers said. In addition, Ehlers provided comfort for seniors. “For our seniors and their parents, I would like to reiterate that seniors who were on track to graduate prior to the closure and who make progress in their remote learning will graduate from Coloma High School,” Ehlers said. Seniors who might have been not quite on track will be provided an opportunity to earn the required credits with support through the summer before receiving their Coloma High School diploma. Ehlers said that it is his intention to provide a graduation ceremony of some kind, and some point. Meal deliveries were scheduled to continue in the same manner as they had been providing them, even though this would have been spring break. Parents are being asked to complete a survey to establish which parents/students have access to the internet. Principles and staff continue to post on YouTube and Facebook with storybook readings, messages, etc. Storytime with Mr. Klein, Elementary School Principle can be found on YouTube and on Facebook. There are several opportunities to have story time with Mr. Coloma Ian Ishmael. Ehlers said that he expects a full plan layout to parents at the end of this week. Watervliet Schools Watervliet Public Schools Superintendent Ric Seager provided a press release as well as a message to parents and students on Facebook. Seager explained that with the Governor’s Executive Order, school districts would have to rise to the challenge of finishing the school year in an alternative way. “The teachers, staff and administration of Watervliet Public Schools have anticipated this closure and have begun the process of developing our Continuity of Learning plan,” Seager said. Though students have not been attending school in their buildings since March 13, members of the district’s food service team, bus drivers, teachers, and counselors have still been providing for the students. He announced in his letter that over the next week, the district will be rolling out plans and guidance for students, teachers, parents and others regarding how they will continue and improve their services to the students and the community during the closure. Announcements will be made via the district website, school messenger, the district Facebook page and through the press. As with everything connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, all is rapidly changing across the board. However, Seager would like to encourage all to check daily for updates. Seager spoke directly to the seniors who are experiencing the end of their high school years in a way that could never have been guessed, in a message posted on their Facebook page. He stated this unprecedented event has changed their senior year. He wanted to assure the seniors that it will all be alright. Seager said if a senior was ready to graduate and met requirements, they’re done and they will be graduating. If they were on track to graduate and if they were passing those classes, they will graduate. If they were on track but not passing a class for each of those the teacher will reach out to the student to offer options. If a student wasn’t on track to graduate, school administration will reach out to each and every one of them to work out a plan for their future.

Bainbridge Supervisor will not seek re-election

By Angela Stair Bainbridge Township Supervisor William “Bill” Hodge notified his board of trustees, on April 6, 2020 of his decision. Supervisor Hodge stated: “I have decided to not seek re-election for Supervisor of Bainbridge Township. I feel it necessary to focus on my personal businesses and to begin to implement my retirement plan. I would like to thank the citizens of Bainbridge Township for letting me serve as your supervisor.” Supervisor Hodge was sworn into the position on November 28, 2017. The position had been vacated by retiring Supervisor Jerry Jollay. Supervisor Hodge and his wife Della have been residents of the Bainbridge Community since they moved here in 1992. He has been active in the community for many years. Besides being a local business man he served as a Berrien County Road Commissioner and was Chairman of the Berrien County Planning Commission. He also served as interim Watervliet City Manager for a twelve-week period.

Avoid touching retirement savings early You contribute to an IRA and 401(k) to help build the financial resources you’ll need to enjoy a comfortable retirement. But despite these funds being set aside for retirement, many investors use them before they retire. More than half of Americans tap into their retirement savings early, according to a survey from Magnify Money, a website focusing on financial topics. How can you avoid this problem? It’s obviously important to leave your retirement savings untouched, as much as possible, until retirement. You could spend two or three decades as a retiree, so you’ll need a lot of financial resources. Of course, it’s understandable why some people touch their retirement accounts early: According to the Magnify Money survey, about 23% did so to pay off debts, 17% to make down payments on a home, 11% to pay for college, and the rest for other reasons. While you also might consider these needs for taking an early withdrawal or loan from your retirement account, you’ve got good reasons for not touching your IRA or 401(k) before you retire. First, you may face tax penalties if you withdraw money from your IRA and 401(k) before 59-1/2, though there are exceptions. Also, if your withdrawals from your retirement accounts are large enough, they could push you into a higher tax bracket. Plus, the longer you leave your money intact, the more you’ll probably have when you need it in retirement. Let’s use the survey results to look at some additional points you might evaluate before using funds from your retirement accounts for other purposes: Paying off debts – You could consider using a 401(k) loan to pay down some high-interest rate debt, but this move assumes two things – one, you don’t plan on taking on additional high interest rate debt, and two, you plan on repaying the loan from your 401(k) within five years. If you don’t, you could face penalties. Making a down payment on a home – The IRS allows first-time home buyers to make a penalty-free withdrawal of $10,000 from an IRA to make a down payment on a home; however, taxes could still be owed. You might be better off by delaying the purchase of a home, giving you time to build up additional savings, held outside your retirement accounts, that could be used for the down payment. Paying for college – If you haven’t saved enough for a child approaching college, you might consider withdrawing from your retirement accounts to do so. If the funds are used for qualified education expenses, you may be able to withdraw from your IRA without paying a penalty, but again, taxes could be owed on the withdrawn funds. Alternatively, if you have more time, you could consider opening tax-advantaged 529 accounts for younger children to help pay for their education. As the name suggests, a retirement account is designed for retirement, so do whatever you can to protect it. You may want to consult with a financial professional for guidance on meeting the other needs people cite in tapping into their retirement accounts early. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to make the best decisions you can for your situation. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC

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