05-02-2019 Letters and Commentary

Don’t forget the old songs “Oldies”, a word describing radio stations that specialize in songs from years ago. Don’t want to hear oldies? Tune to something else – something that will someday become your own “oldies”. Why do we like oldies so much? Is it because our lives seemed more rich and meaningful “back then” in memory’s mists? Or do we see value in the words and styles that spoke specifically to our personal needs and culture at the time? Or are we stuck? Just stuck on nostalgia? Most of us who have grown into the age when oldies have become relevant can remember where we heard that song for the first time, and who we were with. They are often good memories and sometimes from not that long ago. We have church oldies too. I like “Be Thou My Vision” an anonymous Irish oldie from the eighth century, but also the “afters”, “You Light Up My Sky” from just a few years back (in the contemporary Christian Music context already an oldie). Is it just a matter of preference, or could our perspective towards our personal music history reflect desires to return to a more vibrant relationship with God, one like we used to have? Listening to the songs then, whether oldies or not, and singing the songs, whatever the style, may reflect a heartfelt need for revival, to be closer to God. That lifts music above mere entertainment, and if we are paying attention, puts it a level of self-awareness. Music then could lead to repentance, a turning from our own priorities to seeking God’s heart. Did I once pray more to God? Read His Word more? Love God more? Praise Him more? Maybe those are old lifestyles I need to get back to again. We read, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” (James 4:8) May our music help us do that.

Educating students about Social Security In May, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week and honor all of the educators who are preparing students for the future. Social Security knows that a well-informed instructor is usually the best one suited to educate others. That’s why we have online resources that are easy to access and share. Social Security’s Educator Toolkit is a rich resource for teachers and advocates. Our Information for Educators page contains information and resources to engage students and to educate them on Social Security. It includes: Infographics and handouts for each lesson plan; links to Social Security webpages; talking points; quiz questions and answers. Here’s a brief sample appropriate for high school students: Start the discussion by asking the students what they think they know about Social Security and if they think Social Security is important to them as high school students. Capture key words/ phrases on the board/ screen to keep for future discussion. You can access the toolkit at www.socialsecurity.gov/thirdparty/educators.html. It’s important for students to understand why Social Security was created, and why it is essential to their lives today and in the future. This knowledge and understanding will provide students a strong base on which to build their financial future. Young workers can also see how Social Security directly relates to them at our students website at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/students. At Social Security, we appreciate informed people speaking about our programs and benefits in a thoughtful and informed way. We value and welcome the efforts all teachers make to educate America’s young people. 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.

CALLING ALL FUR BABIES… going on 35 years ago Anne and I began the Kute Kids feature, a weekly feature for parents and grandparents to showcase their loved ones (Kute Kids). There have been a couple times over those years that readers have sent pix of their “Fur Babies”. I vaguely recall a time that I ran a Kute Kitty picture; but mostly I declined running pet pics. Which didn’t go down to well since my sisters don’t take “no” for an answer when it involves their pretty puppies. Now thanks to sponsor Wil-O-Paw Animal Hospital, Paw Prints debuted last week on the back page. Each week there will be a color picture of readers’ cutest and most favorite pets. Thanks to the good folks at Wil-O-Paw Animal Hospital for sponsoring the Paw Prints. Thanks as well to State Farm Insurance Agent Karla Smothers for sponsoring the weekly Kute Kids feature on Page three. As long as I am handing out kudos, thanks to Big C Lumber for sponsoring the weekly weather forecast on the front page.

BEWARE… Herb Taylor stopped in last week to warn us that scammers (criminals) are working the phones again. He said he got a call from someone claiming to be calling from Social Security saying they had some information for him critical to his benefits. Next the caller said he needed Herb’s Social Security number to access his account. That rang Herb’s bell. He knew it was time to hang up. These criminals hit all the soft spots to get your money. Herb has gotten calls supposedly from a relative stuck overseas without any money. I’ve gotten similar calls from family members needing money, or friends and neighbor. A more ingenious scam is the letter from overseas from an attorney who represents a person with the same last name. The attorney says his client has passed away leaving a large sum of money without a will or relatives. He proposes that he will represent you to claim the money and the two of you would share it. The one I got here a couple weeks ago is from an attorney in Ontario. He wrote that his client Robert Bayer died in an accident and left an unclaimed death benefit worth seven million, eight hundred thousand dollars. He proposes he represent me to the insurance company to claim the money. He writes, “You are the perfect match for this transaction in view of the fact you share the same last name and nationality with the deceased. As the deceased attorney I will complete the necessary paperwork that will assist in claiming the money legally without any risk.” Here’s the capper, I suppose in case I start to feel guilty. “I propose we will donate 10% of the money to charity organizations while the remaining amount will be shared 45% to you and 45% to me.” How wonderful! I guess I’m a fool for not calling him back immediately. I’m not sure which adage applies here… “if it looks too good to be true it probably is” or “if it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk, it is a skunk”.

Invitation to Patrice Culver’s Retirement Open House Dear Editor, Patrice Culver’s (affectionately known as “Miss Pat”) retirement is upon us. The date that many have feared, yet anticipated. To honor her service there will be a retirement open house on Saturday, May 11, from 1-4 p.m. at the South Elementary School in Watervliet. Cake and punch refreshments will be served. Patrice has been an esteemed dance teacher for this area for 60 years, and she will be greatly missed by students, both past and present. Many have benefited from her dedication to the art of dance, and her by teachings that extended well past the stage. She will be sorely missed and impossible to replace. On behalf of the Culver family, I would like to invite everyone in the surrounding area to her “Final Bow” Retirement Open House on Saturday, May 11. We hope you can attend to share your memories of our very own Miss Pat. Angela McVay-Widdis

Coloma Post Office asks community to Stamp Out Hunger on May 11 With the help of sponsors, volunteer organizations and U.S. Postal Service employees in 10,000 communities nationwide, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 27th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive – the nation’s largest single-day food drive – on Saturday, May 11. “We’re proud to continue this community tradition as we prepare for the 27th annual food drive,” said Postmaster Marilyn Wassell. “We’re asking residents for their support to help make this another successful year. It’s easy to make a donation: simply leave a bag of nonperishable food items by the mailbox to help your neighbors in need.” Last year’s drive resulted in carriers collecting 71.6 million pounds of food from local communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the drive began in 1993, total donations have surpassed 1.6 billion pounds of food. The food drive has become the nation’s largest one-day campaign to collect food for distribution to needy families. Making a donation is easy. Customers should leave their non-perishable food donations in a bag near their mailbox on Saturday, May 11, before their letter carrier arrives. In the days leading up to the food drive, letter carriers will be delivering special bags along with your mail that may be used to make donations. Food collected during Saturday’s drive will be delivered to local community churches, food banks and food pantries for distribution. While all non-perishable donations are welcome, foods that are high in protein such as canned tuna, salmon, beans and peanut butter are most needed. Canned fruits and vegetables, whole grain, low sugar cereals, macaroni and cheese dinners and 100% fruit juice also top the list of most needed items. For additional information about this year’s Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, visit nalc.org/community-service/food-drive. Food Drive tips What to give: Most-wanted foods include canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon); canned and boxed meals (soup, chili, stew, macaroni and cheese); canned or dried beans and peas (black, pinto, lentils); pasta, rice cereal; canned fruits; 100 percent fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed); canned vegetables; cooking oil; boxed cooking mixes (pancake, breads). What not to give: Rusty or unlabeled cans; glass containers; perishable items; homemade items; no expired items; noncommercial canned or packaged items; alcoholic beverages or mixes or soda; open or used items. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

MI families urged to get children vaccinated in recognition of National Infant Immunization Week A recent measles outbreak illustrates the importance of vaccination. Routine childhood immunizations protect children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases by the age of two. During National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is urging Michiganders to ensure their children are fully vaccinated on time for the best possible protection from these serious diseases. This year marks the 25th anniversary of NIIW, an annual observance highlighting the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health achievements. Globally, vaccinations prevent 2 to 3 million deaths each year. NIIW is April 27 – May 4, and is celebrated as part of World Immunization Week, an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO included vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Pockets of low vaccination coverage have allowed diseases like measles to make a resurgence in countries where it had previously been eliminated. The U.S. has been experiencing multiple measles outbreaks in 2019, including one in Michigan. As of April 17, Michigan has had 43 cases of measles confirmed, the most cases in a year since 1991. “Now more than ever, it is important to make sure Michiganders, especially children, are up-to-date on all recommended immunizations,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “Vaccines are safe and effective, and the best way to protect yourself against diseases like measles, hepatitis A, whooping cough and influenza.” Parents should talk to their child’s healthcare provider about what vaccines their child needs to stay protected. In an effort to help parents protect their children from serious vaccine-preventable diseases, MDHHS participates in the I Vaccinate campaign. I Vaccinate provides the facts parents need to make informed decisions about vaccinations. For more information about immunizations and the I Vaccinate campaign, visit IVaccinate.org.

Berrien County has several board vacancies The Community Corrections Advisory Board has a vacancy for a Business Community member. The purpose of the Community Corrections Advisory Board is to develop and implement the Berrien County Community Corrections Comprehensive Plan. Membership is outlined in Public Act 511. The board meets on the third Wednesday of the month quarterly. Location varies. The Public Works Board has a vacancy. The primary purpose of the Board of Public Works is to provide assistance in financing the municipal water, sewer, and storm systems within the County. Membership consists of the Drain Commissioner in addition to six other members. The term for the Public Works Board is three years. Meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 9:30 a.m. at the Berrien County Administration Center, 701 Main St., St. Joseph. The 9-1-1 Advisory Board has a vacancy. The purpose of the 9-1-1 Advisory Board is to promote the continued operation of the 911 emergency system, to promote public awareness, to assist County Public Service Access Points (PSAPs) in providing service to their recipients, and to assist the Berrien County Board of Commissioners by giving advice and making suggestions with respect to the operation of the 911 emergency system. The membership includes four citizens. Meetings are held bi-monthly on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. at the 2100 Complex, 2100 E. Empire Ave., Benton Harbor. The term of the appointment would be for three years. The Land Bank Authority has one vacancy. The Land Bank Authority through the Land Bank Fast Track Act, 2003, strives to strengthen and revitalize the economy of Berrien County by assembling or disposing of public property, including tax reverted property, in a coordinated manner to foster the development of the property and to promote economic growth. The Authority is made up of Berrien County Commissioners, the Berrien County Treasurer, and three persons appointed by the Board of Commissioners. The Land Bank Authority meetings are on the fourth Thursday of each month at 2:00 p.m. at the Berrien County Administration Center, BOC Room, 701 Main St., St. Joseph. The term of the appointment is for four years. Anyone interested in serving on any of these boards may contact the Berrien County Administration office for an application at 269-983-7111, ext. 8095 or email akrieger@berriencounty.org. The application is also available on the Berrien County website at www.berriencounty.org (under the Board of Commissioners page and board openings). Applications will be accepted until Friday, May 10, 2019.

Berrien Conservation District Native Plant Presentation and Sale Native plants are adapted to this region’s soils and climate, and require little maintenance once established. They are a valuable food source for many insects and birds that many ornamental plants cannot provide. Native plants have strong, extensive root systems that help rain water infiltrate deep into the soil and protect the soil from erosion. Wildflowers and grasses can also enhance the beauty of any landscape. The Berrien Conservation District in conjunction with the Bridgman Public Library will be hosting a Native Plant Presentation and Sale on Wednesday, May 29. The presentation will be from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Vern Stephens from Designs by Nature Nursery will discuss native plant characteristics and care, picking the right plant, and more. Questions are welcome. Immediately following the presentation at 3:00 p.m. the Berrien Conservation District will be selling Native Wildflowers and Grasses until 5:30 p.m. Pre-orders can also be picked up at this time. The location of the presentation and sale is the Bridgman Public Library at 4460 Lake Street. Pre-ordering is encouraged; the deadline for ordering is Monday, May 13. Order forms are available at the Bridgman Public Library, or at the Berrien Conservation District at 3334 Edgewood Road, Berrien Springs, 269-471-9111 x3. Print an order form or order online at www.berriencd.org.

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