04-13-2017 Letters and Commentary

Help needed for this

worthy event on April 29

Dear Editor,

While there are a lot of worthy causes and events that come into our presence every day, one is quickly approaching that is in need of financial support.

On Saturday, April 29, the Watervliet High School juniors and seniors will be invited to attend the prom. Following the prom, they are also invited to an all-night after prom event that provides a safe, secure environment filled with entertainment that they can enjoy with their classmates and guests. This event is sponsored 100% by donations and hard working parents that give of their time and efforts to make sure that it happens.

Please consider a donation to this worthy cause that helps to keep our Watervliet kids SAFE! In light of all the wrong things going on in our world presently, you have the opportunity to participate in doing something right. If you would like to contribute, please send a check made out to Watervliet High School and send it to the school at 450 E. St. Joseph Street, Watervliet, MI 49098, ATTN: WHS POST PROM.

Thank you in advance for helping out this worthy cause.

Annette Christie

Environmental regulations are job creators

Dear Editor,

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans, including Rep. Fred Upton, are waging a highly destructive and misguided war on the environment.

The major argument that the Republicans make is that environmental regulations are “job killers.” Multiple studies have demonstrated that this claim is false (for a comprehensive review of these studies, see the Environmental Integrity Project, January 16, 2017). The truth is that environmental regulations are not only good for the environment; they are also good for the economy.

Based on a careful examination of the data, studies conducted over many years have reached the following conclusions: 1) Environmental regulations have resulted in a net increase in jobs, not a net loss; 2) For every dollar invested, wind and solar projects have created twice as many jobs as fossil fuel projects; 3) The economic benefits of environmental regulations have exceeded costs by a ratio of ten to one; 4) Increased environmental regulations often lead to an increase in productivity; 5) When federal environmental regulations are weakened, states with strong regulations experience greater economic growth and create more jobs, while states with weaker regulations suffer economic decline; and 6) Compared to other developed countries, the United States has relatively weak environmental regulations; weakening them further would do great harm, not only to the environment, but to our economic well-being.

Congressman Fred Upton has been on the wrong side of the environmental debate for a long time. At one point he was labeled “the number one enemy of the earth” by the Los Angeles Times because of his opposition to sensible and productive environmental regulations. Now is the time for Upton to recognize the dangers of the Trump administration’s destructive environmental policies and vigorously oppose them. If he does not, we need to vigorously oppose him in 2018.

Larry Feldman, Lakeside

Gorsuch and the alleged super-precedent of Roe v. Wade

Dear Editor,

Neil Gorsuch is just settling in as the newest U.S. Supreme Court justice, yet questions are already swirling about his future coworkers.

With judicial filibusters no longer U.S. Senate procedure and many incumbent Democratic Senators up for reelection in 2018, President Donald Trump will likely be pushing on an open door for court nominations. Three current justices are 78 or older, and all three are the critical fifth vote in favor of Roe v. Wade.

It’s with several of those facts in mind that U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein grilled Justice Gorsuch during his hearings about his views on what she called the “super-precedent” status of Roe v. Wade. There’s no such thing as a “super-precedent,” and even if there was it certainly doesn’t apply to the most controversial Supreme Court case in history. Roe v. Wade is so controversial it has changed the judicial nomination process and is the direct source of our current rancor, from the “borking” of Robert Bork to the unprecedented filibuster of Neil Gorsuch.

The controversy over Roe v. Wade has overshadowed the case itself, leaving most Americans in the dark about it and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. Most Americans have a vague understanding that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the first trimester. Few understand that the two cases legalized abortion for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy, superseding the laws and voters in all 50 states.

Fewer still understand that even Roe v. Wade’s supporters believe the case is pure legal mumbo jumbo. The well-known pro-abortion law professor Laurence Tribe put it more eloquently, “One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”

A majority of Americans tell pollsters they are afraid to overturn Roe v. Wade. At the same time they say they oppose late-term abortions and oppose abortions done for economic or social reasons (which account for more than 90 percent of abortions performed). That’s a great disconnect. Americans are afraid to overturn a decision they don’t understand whose results they fundamentally reject.

Americans are in dire need of clarity about Roe and Doe given the likelihood of the cases being revisited very soon. What Americans don’t need is more disinformation. Roe and Doe are not “super-precedents” but cases that have disenfranchised voters from their beliefs and our democratic process.

Chris Gast

Director of Communication/Education

Right to Life of Michigan

EASTER WISHES FOR PEACE… May the peace and rejuvenation of the Easter message be with you always.

What could be (and should be) hope for all mankind this Easter is for peace and harmony among all peoples. We need to halt the religious and tribal warfare that is killing so many people.

Such a travesty last week of the gassing of men, women, and children in Syria, most of us found the news pictures of babies dying of suffocation horrific. Sadly, any horror soon gave way to apathy, as it does.

Hats off to President Trump for acting swiftly and decisively by bombing the Syrian airbase where the gas attack originated.

TREE FIGHT… I hear there were some disparaging and derogatory comments about the tree “trimming” in downtown Watervliet a couple weekends ago. Surprisingly I only got second hand information.

Most of the objections, I was told, were from “arborists” who said the severe trimming would harm the trees.

Other than the shock of what they looked like that Monday morning, the next affect was opening up and brightening the downtown building fronts. It certainly makes Main Street look wider.

For those that are concerned the trimming was too severe, I suggest they look at the tree in front of G.W. Jones Exchange Bank. That tree was cut back just as severely in the past three years and you can see there is already 3-4 foot of new growth on it.

The DDA has contracted several times over the 30-year span of the trees to have them trimmed. At least on two occasions that I recall, the trees were cut back just as severely as this time. We never lost a tree to trimming.

In fact, of the “new” trees planted in 1987-88, only two have died. Those were actually killed by MDOT and city public workers when the road was resurfaced about five years ago.  Their roots were damaged when replacing a water line and the MDOT engineer ordered them removed. MDOT also promised to replace the trees, but that never happened. I only know how they were killed because they were near the Record building and I saw the damage and talked to the workers involved.

The bigger issue for the Watervliet Downtown Development authority is when to remove these aging trees and replace them with something “better.”

The trees are hybrid honey locusts, genetically designed to thrive in a municipal highway setting; meaning they can withstand carbon monoxide fumes, gas and oil spills, road salt, drought, and neglect.

They are expected to live 25 years and grow to a height of 30 feet. The trees leaf out at the top creating a canopy of green over the street. In the fall, the leaves turn a golden brown color and dry up on the tree before falling, to make for easy clean up.

The trees on Main Street did exactly what they were intended to do, but their time is at an end. It could be that this trimming may be the last.  The DDA Beautification Committee is discussing whether to replace the trees with another variety (something the DDA discussed at length 30 years ago) or put in giant planters on the sidewalks for decoration.

Frankly, I’m partial to the trees, but I also like the openness of the view of the storefronts along Main Street. I also like the planters along the sidewalks filled with annual flowers, although they are higher maintenance.

Time will tell.

See all types of green this spring – financial literacy month

April is Financial Literacy Month, and there’s no better time than right now to save for your future. The earlier you start saving, the more you can take advantage of compound interest — that’s like “free money” to power up your 401(k)s and other types of IRAs. Social Security helps secure your future, but it should only be a foundation for a more complete retirement plan.

Part of financial literacy is having access to not just correct information, but your own personal financial information. Social Security has that. You can open your own personal my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and within a matter of minutes have access to your information from the comfort of your home or office. There, you can do many things, but the most important thing is to view your Social Security Statement.

Your Social Security Statement is a concise, 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 www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator that provides immediate and personalized benefit estimates based on your earnings record. And, best of all, the Retirement Estimator is an interactive tool that allows you to compare different retirement options like future earnings and different retirement ages.

One sure way to stay on top of your financial future is to join the more than 28 million people who have opened their own my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/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 vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

Reclaimed wood

The garden area needs a new fence. It also needs weeding and rototilling, but a new fence to enclose the area would be a good idea. After careful consideration we decided that a reclaimed wood fence would be a good idea. I will have to locate the wood slats, cut them to appropriate size and coat them with some sort of urethane material to ensure more durability and longer life. That way I won’t have to do it again next year.

Reclaimed wood products are gaining in popularity. Whether the interior design is modern or traditional, for example, a well-made reclaimed wood picture frame can be a very tasteful addition to the decor. There are evidently ways to “stress” wood to make it appear reclaimed even if it is a newer piece. If done properly, it looks very authentic. Barn wood, pallet wood, or old fence wood, “repurposing” can create beautiful results.

When Jesus Christ “repurposes” our lives it can be a beautiful thing too. Our weathering experiences and stressful environments endured for decades can become a significant part of recreated and repurposed lives. That can be true for those who have not yet acknowledged Jesus as Savior and for those who have.

Spiritually sanded-out forgiveness can become beautiful. Removed dead paint of enslaving sins can leave a mark confessing previous experiences left behind and revealing cleansed wood underneath. Again the true, clean grain can be seen. Urethaned, it will now be preserved from further decay. And don’t try to plane out the sawmill scars. They show what has been accomplished in the long path to the new purpose.

Easter is all about reclaimed life. And Jesus’ sacrifice and reclaiming of his own life provides our path to repurposing – and new life eternally. Embrace His forgiveness and reclamation.

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