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04-11-2019 Letters and Commentary

CAROONIST NEEDED… I’m still looking for some local talent who likes to draw cartoons to do the same for the TCR. Please contact me at 463-6397 if you think you are that person.

IT’S GREAT TO BE A TIGERS FAN… when they are winning. That’s what the opening week had; Detroit Tigers won more games than losing. Which is certainly not the case for them the past few years. I think the last time they won a world series was in 1984 back in the 20th century, when the Bayers moved to Watervliet. At any rate the best way to enjoy the game, except for going, is to listen to it on the radio. When I was growing up, I would listen to the game with my mom and grandpa. When the team did poorly, mom would wander away. Grandpa held on through thick and thin, and would react the same no matter what it was. He’d take his pipe out his mouth and slap it down on the arm of the chair at the same time stomping his foot down. When the spittle and smoke abated, he’d reach for his tobacco pouch and a match to light up. In seconds, things would settle down. He’d sink back in his chair and lean over to the speaker. Mom would settle in on her favorite easy chair, holding the latest Reader’s Digest in one hand and a recently emptied ash tray in the other. Unless it was time to fix dinner, she would seldom move out of the chair except for an aforementioned bad play by the Tigers. She’d root and holler along with Grandpa for a great play or a win. Man, those were the years… all of the nineteen fifties, summer at the cottage ever year from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Day after day of adventure in the woods north of Oscoda, swimming by the hour in Lake Huron and listening, everyday it seemed, to the radio, “This is WJR, voice of the Great Lakes and the Detroit Tigers.” Of course, there was spring training and fall ball, of which we’d watch the games on television. At the cottage we had no TV, but even when there was finally a broadcast signal that could reach Oscoda, I’m pretty sure my mom and dad, and grandpa enjoyed the radio more. Besides, it’s hard to picture the 16 Bayers squeezed in the cottage trying to watch a 10-inch black and white screen. There was a time that all the immediate family converge on the cottage, and by all reports, there were 29 of us sleeping over a weekend. There’s a great photo of all us kids (I was 9 or so) in a variety of cots, from the much sought-after roll-a-way to the ubiquitous U.S. Army cot of hard canvas and hard wood. I think the moms doubled the cots’ capacity of one standard soldier per unit by sleeping the toddlers and youngsters one from each end. That was because age rank… the older you were the better bed you got. At age nine I was in the nether world… not a youngster but not a teenager. I always got the clanking, squeaking, pinching chain link fold out cot. Mom had at least a dozen cots, of all varieties. But there was only one chain link folding cot. One would think such rarity would make it much in demand. Anyone blessed with a night on the chain link folding cot would always graciously decline the offer of another night of clinking, squeaking, and pinching… except for me. It seemed whenever there were a crowd looking for a place to bed down, I was always assigned the aforementioned “cot”. The only benefit, I can recall, was the “cot” was too dangerous to be used around the little ones… who subsequently were banished to the front porch where it was a little quieter and darker. So, I was always ensconced in the middle of the living room, which made me privy to all the news of the day, plans for tomorrow and what was to be for breakfast. If I got too nosey or noisy, I’d be banished to my parent’s bedroom to “get to sleep” and then woke up when the adults and lucky occupants of a bedroom came for a good night’s sleep. My solution was to feign sleep when any one would look my way before adding a funny story or juicy gossip to the sometime raucous crowd. One night I pushed it to the limit, pretending to be sleeping, but wanting a better view of the gaiety, I rolled over. In doing so and supporting my torso on an elbow to complete the maneuver, the elbow pierced the two-inch mattress and I got caught in the noisy chains underneath. Oh yeah, baseball on the radio… one fall day we were watching the Tigers on the TV, Mom and Dad, Grandpa and me… maybe others. My hero was outfielder/slugger Al Kaline, another was pitcher Hank Aguirre and Norm Cash, catcher “Storming Norman”. Grandpa, in his German accent, poor hearing and age, often made a hash of names. Baseball was no different, Al Kaline was “alkaline”, and Hank Aguirre was “hunggarry”. On occasions it was more fun to watch Grandpa, than the game on TV. Where the Tigers were concerned, he was exuberant when winning and merciless when loosing. There was a time when instant replay was just new; Norm Cash got called out at second base to lose the game. Grandpa went ballistic… “Look, look, that SOB Cash got caught trying to steal second base.” Then the replay came on… “Look that stupid hardhead did it again.” I listened to many baseball games, mostly on the radio… few, if any are remembered as vividly and warmly as those with Grandpa and my mom listening to the Tigers on the radio.

Financial Literacy Month – A perfect time to plan for your future With April being Financial Literacy Month, there’s no time like the present to begin saving for your financial future. The earlier you start saving, the more you can accrue in a 401k individual retirement account and other types of IRAs. Social Security helps secure your future, but Social Security is only one part of a more complete retirement plan. Financial literacy includes having access to not just the correct general information, but also to your personal financial information. You can open your own personal my Social Security account at myaccount/ and quickly have access to your information from anywhere. There, you can do many things, but the most important thing is to view your Social Security Statement. Your Social Security Statement is an easy-to-read personal record of the earnings on which you have paid Social Security taxes and a summary of the estimated benefits you and your family could receive, including potential retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. Once you have an account, you can view your statement at any time. You’ll want to verify that your recorded earnings are correct, because your future benefits are based on your recorded earnings. We also offer the online Retirement Estimator at benefits/retirement/estimator.html that provides immediate and personalized benefit estimates based on your earnings record. The Retirement Estimator is an interactive tool that allows you to compare different retirement scenarios like future earnings and different retirement ages. One sure way to stay on top of your financial future is to join the more than 38 million people who have opened their own my Social Security account at myaccount/. The sooner you start planning for retirement the better off you will be. 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

Four cups of wine With all of the other gentile students at George Washington High School in Philly back in the 60s, we were happy when Jewish holidays rolled around. That’s because about 40 percent of the student body was missing, making it hard to follow the regular curriculum schedule. Life was easy on Jewish holidays! With so many Jewish friends I got to learn more about Judaism. One good friend, Mark Hyman, kindly invited me to join his family for their Passover meal celebration one year. It was very interesting, and there was lots of good food! His mom was a great cook. Without Passover we wouldn’t have Easter. The “Last Supper” was actually a Passover meal, and when Jesus spoke of the wine being the “new covenant” in His blood, He was giving Passover a whole new significance that probably surprised His disciples. Every place setting in a Jewish Passover meal has a small cup for wine. That cup will be filled four times during the ceremonies. Once for each of the parts of God’s redemption described in Exodus 6:6-7. God spoke to Israel that first Passover that: 1. “I will bring you out,” 2. “I will deliver you,” 3. “I will also redeem you,” and 4. “I will take you for My people.” Each is commemorated by successive cups of wine at designated times during the meal – four cups in all. The third cup specifically commemorates the lamb whose blood was required to mark the doorposts and the lintel of each Hebrew family dwelling so that the “destroyer”, or “death angel”, would “pass over” that house. The account is in Exodus 11 and 12. When Jesus raised the third cup and spoke of the new covenant in His blood, He identified Himself as the sacrificial lamb! He was the redeemer, the Lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Trump renews his assault on health care Dear Editor, Donald Trump is once again trying to deprive millions of Americans of affordable health care. Instead of taking steps to strengthen and expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he is attempting to destroy it. Trump recently ordered the Justice department to support the ruling of a judge in Texas who decided that the entire ACA is unconstitutional because in 2017 the Republican-controlled Congress reduced the individual mandate payment requirement to zero. The judge’s ruling has been widely criticized and is currently under appeal. Elimination of the Affordable Care Act would lead to the loss of health insurance for 20 million people, eliminate guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, increase prescription drug costs for seniors, weaken health care coverage for women, allow insurance companies to charge women higher premiums than men for the same coverage, deprive parents of the right to keep their children on their health insurance plans until age 26, and eliminate many other health care protections and benefits. In stark contrast to Trump’s actions, Congressional Democrats have proposed a variety of plans to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health care. Some Democratic proposals support a “public option”, in which government-run health care plans would compete with private insurance plans. Other proposals call for extending the Medicare program to all Americans (“Medicare for All”). Each of the Democratic proposals would greatly reduce the number of uninsured individuals. In so doing, these plans would increase the overall health of the U.S. population. Many studies have demonstrated that when people have health insurance, their health improves. Congressional Democrats want to provide quality affordable health care for all Americans. Donald Trump and his Congressional Republican allies want to take away health care from millions of Americans. The contrast could not be clearer. Larry Feldman, M.D. Lakeside

Average tax credit was $533 for 2017 tax year Individuals with a household income of $60,000 or less a year may be eligible for a Homestead Property Tax Credit, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Michigan’s Homestead Property Tax Credit can help taxpayers if they are a qualified homeowner or renter and meet certain requirements. For most people, the tax credit is based on a comparison between property taxes and total household resources, with homeowners paying property taxes directly and renters paying them indirectly with their rent. Changes to the Homestead Property Tax Credit for 2018 mean more taxpayers will be eligible for the credit and the credit calculation is more generous. Taxpayers should check to see if they are eligible even if they have not claimed a credit in recent years. “We want Michigan taxpayers to be aware of tax credits they’re entitled to receive,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “Homestead Property Tax Credits provide tax relief for eligible Michigan families and individuals. These tax credits can reduce tax owed and may provide a refund.” During the 2017 tax year, almost one million taxpayers claimed the Homestead Property Tax credit, totaling about $530 million with an average credit at $533. Taxpayers may claim a Homestead Property Tax Credit if all the following apply: Your homestead is in Michigan; you were a resident of Michigan for at least six months during the year; you own or are contracted to pay rent and occupy a Michigan homestead on which property taxes were levied; if you own your home, your taxable value is $135,000 or less (unless unoccupied farmland); your total household resources are $60,000 or less. Taxpayers who are required to file a state income tax return should claim the Homestead Property Tax Credit with their return. Taxpayers may file a Homestead Property Tax Credit claim by itself. To learn more about the Homestead Property Tax Credit, the forms required to obtain the credit or state income taxes, go to and click on “Credits and Exemptions” at the bottom of the page.

The road to no more victims – impaired driving month April is Alcohol Awareness Month and this year it comes at a time when impaired driving fatalities are on the rise. Prior to her service as National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (2015-2018), Colleen Sheehy-Church lost a son in an impaired driving crash. In an effort to help ensure no other parent endures the same tragedy, she has written the following OpEd telling her story. The road to no more victims By Colleen Sheehey-Church My son Dustin had unforgettable, fiery red hair and a huge, goofy grin. He loved to make people laugh. One summer night shortly after graduating high school, Dustin got a ride with a 19-year-old driver who had alcohol and drugs in her system. Seat-belted and sober, Dustin was riding in the back seat when the driver lost control of the car, ran into an embankment and launched the car into a river. The driver and front seat passenger escaped. Dustin could not, and he drowned. As the immediate past president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), I represent hundreds of thousands of people like me whose lives have been tragically, irreversibly changed by someone else’s decision to drive while impaired. To end impaired driving, we need to talk about it, and since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, there’s no better time to have this discussion. Impaired driving is a complex issue that grows more urgent by the day with the increasing prevalence of drug-impaired driving. Drugged driving is finding its way into the evening news and morning headlines across the country as a growing number of Americans get high and sometimes even overdose behind the wheel. Even more troubling, these drivers often combine substances like alcohol, marijuana and opioids which exponentially increase their impairment and the likelihood of causing a fatal crash. Our response to this issue must be comprehensive. The United States has been successful over the past three decades in drastically reducing the number of impaired-driving fatalities through effective legislation, increased enforcement, stepped-up education campaigns, changing societal norms and a greater recognition of the need for addiction treatment. Impaired-driving fatalities dropped for years but have recently begun to tick back up. Far too many Americans—10,874 in 2017—lose their lives each year to completely preventable crimes. DWI courts are uniquely positioned to have one of the greatest impacts on impaired driving in our communities because they specialize in targeting and treating the population that poses the greatest threat to our safety: repeat impaired drivers with a substance use disorder. We know that the first arrest is rarely the first time someone has driven impaired. In fact, studies estimate that an impaired driver has done so more than 80 times before getting caught. We also know that for many of these high-risk, high-need individuals, punishment alone simply will not change their behavior. DWI courts combine evidence-based treatment to address their substance use disorder with structure and strict accountability to change the behavior that attends it, including close supervision and tools like ignition interlock. Research confirms that this approach significantly reduces impaired driving: participants in DWI courts are up to 60 percent less likely to reoffend than those sentenced to jail or standard probation. Unfortunately, there are just over 700 of these programs in the entire country, far too few to serve every eligible offender. The National Center for DWI Courts is committed to expanding DWI courts to make our roads and communities safer, and I’m honored to partner with them in this work. As a nation, we must have a greater sense of urgency. We must wage an unrelenting battle on the devastating, 100-percent preventable crime of impaired driving on our roadways. Clearly, our work is far from finished. But together, with your help, we can create a world with no more victims.


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