04-27-2017 Letters and Commentary


Thank you

Dear Community of Watervliet,

 Words cannot express how incredibly grateful I am for the opportunity to represent my hometown as not only Miss Watervliet 2017, but also as Miss Blossomtime 2017. This experience is like a fairytale. I cannot wait to fulfill my duties as your queen, and I am so honored to have a bigger impact on this community. However, without the support from caring individuals I would not be blessed with this opportunity.

Therefore, I would like to especially thank the Watervliet Pageant Organization for not only supporting me, but also for preparing me for the role of being a queen. In addition, I would like to thank my chairperson Angela Widdis, the Loshboughs, the Richcreeks, the Yazels, Karlee Liles along with her family, and my own family for all their support. Also thank you to the Morlocks for the gifts you sent me before the Blossomtime pageant. Thank you to all my court members and their families. I am looking forward to the year I will get to spend with you all. Again, I am so blessed that I was chosen to represent the community that I love. Thank you all for the support. I hope my reign makes you all proud.


Kaylee Chapin

Miss Watervliet &

Miss Blossomtime 2017

Van Buren County bond issue

Dear Editor,

Having been a Van Buren County Commissioner for 18 years representing Bangor, Hartford and Keeler townships and the City of Hartford, I’ve become aware of some problems with our departments physical locations. We have three departments that are operating in basements, the courthouse, the annex office building and the administration building. As most people that have a basement know, humidity is a problem and is present in our basements. Also these departments are extremely short of space for their workstations. There are also safety issues of getting out of a basement in an emergency.

Along with the previously mentioned location issues it has become obvious with society’s aggressiveness, that we have safety issues that need to be addressed. This became tragically apparent after the shooting and killing of deputies in Berrien County. Our courtrooms have some serious safety issues that will be solved with the proposed building plan. The county employees and the general public that frequent our county building deserve a safe environment to carry out their business.

Another part of the bond issue is an intake addition to the jail. We need continuous visual coverage for prisoners in order to protect them from self-harm. The new addition will assure the deputies have the necessary coverage for the prisoners.

With these facts in mind I would ask for your support in the bond election May 2 with a YES vote.

Thank you for your attention.

Richard Freestone, Bangor

Thank you

Dear Editor,

To our family, friends, and members of the community who came out to support the Coloma High School Band and Choir programs at our annual Dinner & Jazz fundraiser, thank you and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Coloma Band & Choir

Red Cross urges blood donation during Trauma Awareness Month

 During Trauma Awareness Month in May, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients with traumatic injuries and other serious medical needs by donating blood.

According to the National Trauma Institute, trauma accounts for approximately 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions in the U.S. annually.

“A single car accident victim can need as many as 100 units of blood,” said Todd Kulman, external communications manager for the Great Lakes Region. “In trauma situations, when there’s no time to check a patient’s blood type, emergency personnel reach for type O negative red blood cells and type AB plasma.”

O negative red blood cells and AB plasma can be transfused into any patient, regardless of blood type, making donors with these universal blood types an important part of the Red Cross trauma team. Less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent of the population has type AB blood.

Platelets may also be needed to help with clotting in cases of massive bleeding. Because platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, there is a constant – often critical – need to keep up with hospital demand.

“As a trauma surgeon, I know that a readily available blood supply can mean the difference between life and death for patients in the most serious situations,” said Dr. Gregory J. Jurkovich, board chair, National Trauma Institute; fellow, American College of Surgeons; and professor and vice chairman, Department of Surgery, University of California Davis Health. “Blood products can only be provided by generous donors, so I urge you to roll up a sleeve and help save lives.”

In 2014, donated blood helped save Ethan Moser’s life after his personal watercraft collided with the boat carrying his family. He suffered massive blood loss due to a severed femoral artery and other serious injuries. Moser received 160 transfusions of blood and blood products.

While his recovery continues, Moser remains grateful to the generous donors who provided the blood he received. “I’m here simply because there was enough blood available to replenish what I lost,” he said. “You never know when an accident’s going to happen, so please donate today to be sure blood is available for those who will need it.”

Blood donors of all types are currently needed. Those who come out to donate blood or platelets by May 14 will have a chance to win one of three $1,000 gift card shopping sprees from GiftCertificates.com. Donation appointments can be scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

An upcoming blood donation opportunity in Berrien County is Friday, May 12, noon to 5:45 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 619 Main Street in St. Joseph.

Representative payee: help a loved one with Social Security

According to the Census Bureau, there are nearly 57 million people living with disabilities in the United States. Thirty percent of American adults help provide care for a sick or disabled family member. Caregivers provide physical and emotional support for the people in their care. It’s a demanding job with its stresses and rewards, but it can also be a labor of love.

Social Security is committed to you throughout life’s journey, helping secure today and tomorrow for every American. This is especially true for people who need help managing their benefits. We work closely with caregivers through our representative payee program. A representative payee is someone who receives and oversees the Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for anyone who cannot manage their benefits. This can be a child or an adult incapable of managing their funds. You can learn more about our representative payee program at www.socialsecurity.gov/payee.

A representative payee is usually a trusted family member or friend of the beneficiary, but when friends or family are not able to serve as representative payees, Social Security looks for qualified individuals or organizations to represent the beneficiary. You can learn about becoming a representative payee by watching our new series of videos on the duties of a representative payee at www.socialsecurity.gov/payee. It’s our hope that these videos will not only educate individuals about the roles and responsibilities of being a representative payee, but also provide further insight, broaden community awareness, and provide key resources to deal with the growing incidents of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Caregivers are valuable and irreplaceable assets to our great nation. Please join us in celebrating them for all they do for those who cannot do for themselves.

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.

Adult expectations

The statement, “I don’t know yet what I want to be when I grow up,” coming from someone who already appears to be an adult, could be more than just amusing. While usually meant in jest, it could also mean that the person is either unwilling to take on adult responsibility, or is clueless about their current life direction or purpose. As one who has made that statement myself in the past, I would have to admit to both, depending on the when and where.

So, wherever we’re going, how do we get there from here? Sometimes we need a life GPS to assist. There’s nothing wrong with being confused, but staying confused is not necessary.

Moses led a group of people out of slavery who “displeased” God so much that all the adults in the crowd, 20 years old and older, were condemned to miss out on their ”promised land.” They would never meet their potential. We can learn from them. They lacked three qualities that we all need to proceed and succeed – faith, faithfulness, and teachable.

Faith – being able to recognize God’s past presence and blessings, and not forget them for the present and future.

Faithfulness – the expected result of faith, living up to our faith by being who we are supposed to be.

Teachable – being willing to see circumstances in the light of faith and faithfulness.

God’s consistent loving kindness and faithfulness to us is great reason for faith and obedience (faithfulness). Resting in His goodness, we can decide to be willing to learn and to remain open for His timely guidance. Then, keeping our eyes on the Son, shadows will fall behind as our pathway is revealed. Faith in God’s Son, faithfulness to God’s Son, God’s Son who is our Teacher, we need all three. It’s expected.

POLLY UPDATE… Anne and I were in St. Louis last week to lend support to granddaughter Polly and her family as she underwent a cranial angiogram.

Polly, who just turned 11 a couple weeks ago, was born with Down syndrome. The situation of being born with an extra chromosome should be enough for any child. Polly also had a couple strokes by her third birthday and any progress that she had made walking and talking was wiped clean.

The diagnosis was Polly had Moya Moya (Japanese for puffs of smoke).  Her cranial arteries were undeveloped and caused the strokes. As the Hand of God intervened, one of the two doctors in the U.S. that had performed the surgery needed was at a Chicago hospital. He connected Polly’s blood starved brain to arteries feeding her scalp outside the skull. Soon her brain began making connections for the blood flow. While she continued annual checkups, she relearned to walk and talk, started school, and is now in the 4th grade.

Because she was seen by a brain surgeon this winter that was unfamiliar with her history of tests and scans for the past 10 years, more detailed tests were ordered. Happily, the test showed continual growth of blood flow in her brain.

Polly is an extraordinarily determined young lady. She wants to be a dentist when she grows up. Her mom thinks she could be president.

Her unstoppable spirit showed immediately after the hours-long test. She was scheduled to be in recovery overnight just in case there were any complications. After six hours of laying flat on her back and not moving, she began to get restless. The doctor asked her if she wanted to go home. She responded “sure.”

The next night she was in the audience watching her sisters perform in the musical play “Hairspray” and dancing in the seats for the finale.

GOOD MORNING BALTIMORE the opening words and song for the musical Hairspray is still running through my head after watching the play three times this past weekend in St. Louis.

Had you suggested such a thing, I would have said “no way.” Not even for my lovely granddaughters Elaina and Zoya.

It was quite an experience for a high school play. Elaina played “Amber” the protagonist. She was the outrageous blond who expected to be crowned Miss Baltimore. She was so convincing (and conniving) that some folks actually booed her! Her sister Zoya played a member of “in crowd” that ruled the televised dance club that prevented Negroes from performing with whites.

The gist of the play, set in the early 1960s, was the white and black kids lead the way to integrate the dance club on television.

While I had seen the musical in Chicago a couple years ago, I guess I missed much of the racial overtones and tension that were written in the script. Watching three nights of the play, I didn’t miss much.

While I was nervous, and perhaps a bit dismayed, that high school kids were performing a play with racial discrimination before an audience of 300 folks that were nearly equally distributed as black and white just a few miles from a town that had race riots just two years ago.

I was pleased the audience was universally delighted with the play and the scripted resolution. The cast, made up of black and white students, showed none of the trepidations that I felt. Indeed, the hugs and high fives after each performance were sincere with no racial overtones.

I guess the minority was the 1960 veterans burdened with the racial stereotypes that their grandchildren have overcome. A very good thing and I am proud to have seen it up close and personal.

But I won’t sit through three performances of a play any time soon (maybe).


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