04-20-2017 Letters and Commentary

Secure your future with National Social Security Month

 For more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with information, tools, and resources to meet our customers’ changing needs and lifestyles.

In April, we celebrate National Social Security Month and encourage you to know your Social Security by exploring what you can do online at www.socialsecurity.gov. Social Security is collaborating with groups and organizations around the country to host numerous events and activities to raise awareness about our many valuable benefits, services, and programs.

What Social Security Offers

Easy accessibility: www.socialsecurity.gov is available 24/7 with detailed information, publications, Frequently Asked Questions, and other resources for any circumstance. Whether you want to estimate the amount of your future Social Security benefits, replace a lost Social Security card, or apply for benefits, www.socialsecurity.gov is your reliable source for information to help you and your loved ones.

Convenient services: Our convenient and secure online services at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices put you in control. You can check the status of your application or appeal, get an instant benefit verification letter, verify your lifetime earnings, block electronic access to your information, and so much more — all without having to visit a local office or calling to speak to a representative.

Secure interaction: One of our most important responsibilities is protecting your personal information and your financial contributions. We use state-of-the-art systems for this, conduct continuous reviews to help us ensure proper payments, and much more. We’re committed to safeguarding the information and resources entrusted to us. Are you looking for secure access to your Social Security information? Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and create your personal my Social Security account.

Join our efforts to promote National Social Security Month. Share our message: “Get to know your Social Security and see what you can do online” by sharing our social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can create your own message expressing the success you’ve had with our many services and programs. We’re here for you, through life’s journey, at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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.

The hub

 I remember when I first learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. There was a field next to the three-story, stucco-covered apartment building where we lived in Nuremberg, Germany. It was where we would fly kites, running through the tall weeds, where we’d pitch army pup tents for fun, and it was where rutted pathways offered routes where Dad could run alongside holding on to the back of the bicycle seat as we learned to keep our balance.

One morning it all came together and Dad let go. Leaving him behind to cheer me on, I kept on going, exhilarated in my new accomplishment! I had learned how to go, but I hadn’t learned how to stop. Finally, I just had to slow down and fall over. That worked.

It’s been a long time since that happy sunny Saturday morning, and though the memory remains fresh, the bicycle has, with its 16-inch wheels, long rusted away to dust. Learning to go on wheels was a big deal for a five-year-old! Dad knew that too.

We never really think about the details though – the reasons why we can go on wheels. In reality, it’s all about the hub, and how that hub relates to the spokes.

By analogy, Easter is like that. The Gospel’s hub is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the reason we can live the Christian life is because the strength of the hub reaches to the spokes, and ultimately to where the rubber meets the road. Without the solid hub the 16-inch wheel doesn’t work well and neither does Christianity.

Learning to live the Christian life, like learning to ride a bike, takes encouragement, willingness, effort, and forward motion. Sooner or later the training wheels come off, and the strength of the hub reaches to where the rubber meets the road.

WHAT RESERVATION… last week’s news that a passenger on an airline was forcibly removed from the plane to make room for an airline employee got lots of play. The man, a doctor, with a paid ticket, refused to leave the plane and was injured when security agents literally dragged him off the plane.

What’s the point of making a plane ticket reservation if the airlines can force you off the plane to make room for one of their own employees? For that matter, how can airlines make you get off a plane for any reason, other than for security?

I’ve often felt the airlines takes advantage of this heightened security for air travel by treating their passengers more like cattle than customers. Passengers are herded from one checkpoint to another, restricted to certain areas, personal baggage is pawed through. Then when you finally make it on board, you are squeezed into a tiny seat. If you make a comment or protest, you risk being taken off the aircraft. Then, you can be dragged off the plane to make room for one of their own.

DISTRACTED DRIVERS ARE LUCKY… they must be. From my vantage in the front window of the Record office, I’ve seen many examples of distracted drivers. It’s a wonder that more of them aren’t involved in accidents.

Just when I think I’ve seen it all, I see a topper. Last week it was a young woman driver with one hand on the wheel, and putting lipstick on with the other and talking on a phone stuck in the crook of her neck. I can’t imagine what would have happened had she sneezed… she would have lipstick from her jaw to her eyebrow.

Goodness knows what would have happened if the car in front of her stopped suddenly. She was just lucky I guess.

GREAT SCHOOLS… It is nice to see our local schools are finally getting the state recognition for something we already knew. We have great local schools, with dedicated teachers and administrators, staff and certainly the best students.

Recently the state released data that showed our local schools have some of the highest graduation rates in the state with Watervliet ranked fourth overall and Coloma and Hartford in the top 10 percent.

Congratulations to all the students and their schools for achieving such a goal.  Hopefully the coming years graduating classes will continue the trend.

EASTER WEEKEND… didn’t we have a nice Easter weekend. Saturday dawned gloomy and wet, but that soon gave way to a wonderful day. Sunday was more of the same.

Anne and I were blessed with the Billy Loshbough family coming by Saturday and tackling some home chores that had piled up. Then Sunday, Amy and Billy et al returned for Easter brunch and a great afternoon visit.

BACK AT 4:30… I had a great visit Monday afternoon with Bud and Marion Davis in Hartford. Bud (Roy) has been writing his Paw Paw River column here at the Record for nearly as long as I’ve been publisher. Marion, whom he calls the Chief Accountant, still operates as his fact checker. Together they carry on a lively conversation with many laughs.

Marion reports that the winter had been a long one for them and they didn’t get out as much they used to.

Bud says he’s been doing much of the cooking lately. I retort that’s why they are so thin. We all laugh.

At 93 & 92, Bud notes they are probably the oldest married couple in Hartford.

I reply they would make a great Valentine Couple for our annual feature next year. They both scoff; but the smiles say they’d be pleased to share their story. Both have been busy people, sharing their lives with others. Bud is a WWII pilot who went on to teach at Watervliet and then was a college professor. Marion dedicated her life to nursing others and raising the family.

By the fourth or fifth chime of the cell phone, I’m reminded it’s time to get back to the office.

Bud walks me to the door, explaining it is time to put his sign on it. “Every afternoon I put this sign on the door. Now is soon enough,” he smiles slipping the sign on the door’s woodwork. It reads: Back at 4:30.

Thank you

Dear Editor,

I want to take this time to thank the general public, the St. Joseph Catholic parishioners and our legion members for making our first Lenten Fish Fry’s a big success. I also want to thank the Tri-City Record, the Herald-Palladium and the South Haven Walmart for their support.

Above all a big thank you to our fantastic fish fry crew, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Sincerely,

Pete Petruk

Coloma American Legion Post 362

Michigan families want a later school start; Polls consistently support post Labor Day school start

Dear Editor,

As the weather turns warmer, Michigan families begin looking forward to their long-awaited summer vacations. School is out, cottages are open and children start getting excited about summer break. This is life in Pure Michigan.

Voters have consistently and overwhelmingly supported the start of school after Labor Day. Yet, legislation in the state senate, SB 271, turns its back on the wishes of families by discarding current law and beginning the school year during one of the two most popular vacation months of the summer.

It comes as no surprise that voters feel so strongly about the current law to begin school after the Labor Day holiday. As a parent, I know how quickly our children grow up. We all want more time to create family vacation memories that last a lifetime.

This time together, as families, cannot be replaced and should be protected by all of our state leaders. That is one of the most important aspects of this current debate.

Understandably, these popular vacation months, especially July and August, also are the top two revenue-producing months for Michigan’s tourism industry. We are appalled at this legislative proposal that would cause the loss of two to three weeks of peak season revenues that benefit the state’s coffers.

SB 271 does not only go against the wishes of voters and families, the other devastating consequences of this legislation are layoffs across the tourism industry, higher unemployment levels and reduced tax receipts to the state.

There are ways to make the current law work better for everyone involved in the discussion. School administrators point out that the U.S. lags behind other countries that require more than our state’s mandated 180 days of instruction. MLTA agrees and supports allowing schools that offer 195 days or more of instruction to waive the requirement to open after Labor Day.

Other school administrators claim they cannot meet the requirement to open after Labor Day because Michigan recently increased the mandate for instruction from 175 to 180 days. MLTA supports returning to the standard that was in place when the law was first passed in 2005, which required 180 day or the equivalent of 1,098 hours of instruction.

We can accomplish this by increasing the length of the school day by 20 minutes. This helps schools easily meet the requirement to open after Labor Day and saves taxpayers money by reducing the length of the school year by up to two weeks.

The fact is most schools that are opening in mid-August are ending their year in late May or early June. Again, schools can easily meet the requirement to start school after Labor Day simply by concluding the school year later in June. The other upside of this scenario is that June days are typically cooler than in late August, which means a more comfortable learning environment in classrooms without air conditioning.

Let’s do what is obviously the best for Michigan families, student learning outcomes and our state’s economy. Keep the current law to start school after Labor Day and tell your state legislator to reject SB 271.

Deanna Richeson, President & CEO

Michigan Lodging and

Tourism Association

Time to enter the “Best Mom” contest!

 For the 31st year, the Tri-City Record is sponsoring its “Best Mom” contest for Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017.

On that day, a mother, grandmother, stepmother or best friend will receive a dozen red roses and many gifts from area merchants as the “Best Mom” of 2017.

Selection of “Best Mom” is made by the staff of the Tri-City Record, based on the contents of a nominating letter submitted on behalf of the candidate.

To enter that special lady in your life in the “Best Mom” competition, simply write a letter to the Editor of the Record. In 150 words or less, tell why she deserves to win the “Best Mom” title. Sign the letter and give your address and telephone number (don’t forget Mom’s name).

Deadline for the letter entry is Friday, May 12, at 12 noon.

The “Best Mom” letter writer will be notified that day and the “Best Mom” will receive her red roses on Sunday, Mother’s Day. Her picture and the nominating letter will appear in the May 18 edition of the Record.

All letters submitted for consideration will appear in the Record, as space allows, up to and after Mother’s Day. Previous letter writers may enter new letters!

Stonegate to host Spring Open House

 Community members are invited to visit Stonegate Plastic Surgery and Stonegate Dermatology during their Spring Open House on Thursday, April 27 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Stonegate Medical Center, located at 3901 Stonegate Park, Suite 300, in St. Joseph.

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to meet the doctors, take a tour, and learn more about aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgical care, as well as dermatology and medical spa services. Guests will also enjoy free samples, drawings for door prizes, and discounts on products. Live demonstrations of Botox, fillers, Kybella, and Microneedling procedures will take place. Representatives from product manufacturers will be present to answer questions. Light refreshments will be served.

Stonegate Plastic Surgery provides aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgical care and a medical spa for non-invasive procedures. The practice includes a fully-accredited surgical facility on site, which enhances safety, efficiency, and privacy for patients. The care team at Stonegate Dermatology diagnoses and treats conditions involving acne and rosacea, bumps and growths, eczema/dermatitis, itchy skin, rashes, skin cancer, and diseases of the skin, among others.

For more information about this event or to RSVP, call (269) 556-6000.

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