05-03-2018 Letters and Commentary

VOTE TUESDAY… Make sure to vote Tuesday in your local school election. Voters in the Coloma and Watervliet school districts, as well as Dowagiac, will vote on important millage issues that will impact the children attending those schools. See the story in this week’s Record that explains the millage issues up for a vote in those districts. It is up to all the citizens in those districts to decide the future and direction of education in our schools by voting on funding issues as presented by the School Boards.

BEST MOM… Mother’s Day is just a couple weeks away, so there is plenty of time to plan something special for your mom. If you are inclined, you may enter your mother in the Record’s Best Mom letter contest. The rules are on Page 8 as are a myriad of great gift ideas for that great lady. Remember your mother this Mother’s Day, May 13.

BONUS ISSUE… later this month is the Record’s annual Bonus Issue. A copy of the Record will be mailed to all postal patrons in the Tri-City Area on May 24, just in time for the Memorial Holiday weekend. The Bonus Issue, which has evolved into a welcome to summer theme, will have stories which feature the best of the Tri-City Area, including the Hartford Strawberry Festival, the Watervliet Independence Weekend Celebration and the Coloma Glad-Peach Festival. Also on tap will be stories on the local farm stands, recreation areas, summer sports, and special attractions. If you have a business, special event, or organization you would like to promote to the readers of the Tri-City Record, the Bonus Issue is the ideal opportunity. Contact me here at the Record at 463-6397 or email to record@tricityrecord.com. I will be happy to help you be included in this special issue. Deadline for inclusion is Friday, May 18.

Checklist for your Social Security annual checkup

Say “annual checkup” and most people imagine waiting at the doctor’s office. There’s another type of checkup that can give you a sense of wellness without even leaving home. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov and follow these five steps to conduct your own Social Security annual checkup. Your Social Security Statement is available online anytime to everyone who has a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Creating your account gives you 24/7 access to your personal information and make it impossible for someone else to set up an account in your name. We still send paper statements to those who are 60 and older who don’t have an account and aren’t receiving Social Security benefits. Your statement provides information about work credits (you need 40 credits to be entitled to a Social Security retirement benefit), estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, plus a history of your earnings. Work Credits count: If you have earned 40 work credits, your statement will show estimates for retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. If you don’t have 40 work credits, the statement shows how many you have and how many you still need to qualify for benefits. Review Earnings Record: Review your history of earnings year by year to make sure each year is correct. This is important because Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings. If any years are incorrect or missing, you may not receive all the benefits you are entitled to in the future. If you need to correct your earnings, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please have your W-2 or paystubs when you call. Study benefit estimates: Review the section titled “Your Estimated Benefits.” Be sure to review not only your retirement estimate, but your disability and survivors estimates. No one likes to think about disability, but a 20-year-old worker has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age, underscoring the importance of disability benefits. Since the value of the survivors insurance you have under Social Security may be more than your individual life insurance, be sure to check your survivors estimates also. Calculate additional estimate: You can use our Retirement Estimator to compute future Social Security benefits by changing variables such as retirement dates and future earnings. If you want to project what future earnings could add to your benefit, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. Schedule your annual check-up: Each year, make a date with yourself to review the most recently posted year of earnings on your Statement. By checking your record every year, you can be certain when you retire that Social Security will have a correct record of earnings to use when computing benefits for you or your family members. 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.

Be still, and know… Have you ever noticed how hard it is to do nothing? Maybe you discovered with me that you have a hard time with inactivity. We are so used to being busy, always doing something. And there seems to be no end to our scurrying about, trying to meet some schedule or to accomplish some task. It’s very hard to sit quietly, to be still and allow ourselves to think, to observe, or to contemplate our life experiences. Recently I was working on a home landscaping project when I decided to take a break. I made a cup of coffee, sat down on a chair at the wrought iron table on our deck to enjoy the afternoon for a few minutes. I made an amazing rediscovery – the wind in the pines. I had long ago decided that the wind blowing through the branches of a long-needled pine was one of my favorite sounds. It’s like a whisper. I had heard it many times before, but I hadn’t noticed it for many months. Yet it was still there. I also noticed that the clouds were at distinct levels in the sky above. There were abundant cirrus forms up high in the deep blue clear sky and white puffy cumulus clouds were lower. The cumulus puffs seemed to move much faster than the higher clouds. Sometimes, when we stop and are still for a little while we notice things we’d been missing, or things we’d forgotten, like the wind in the trees or the clouds against the blue sky. We also then have time to remember God’s blessings, His promises, and His presence – past, present and future. God tells us through David in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…” We can find much more than just physical rest in being still, but spiritual reconnection and refreshment as well.

Board of Education asks residents to vote “yes”

Dear Editor, In 2013 Watervliet residents overwhelmingly approved renewal of an 18 mill non-homestead property tax levy for ten years. Due to the Headlee Amendment, Watervliet’s non-homestead millage has been rolled back to 17.9498 mills and will most likely continue to erode. The State of Michigan penalizes school systems from collecting the full state-mandated foundation allowance if the school does not levy 18 non-homestead mills. Adding one mill to the non-homestead property taxes will restore the millage rate above the 18 mill threshold ensuring the district is collecting what is allowed by law. If approved, this would place 18.9498 mills on the record books even though only 18 mills may be levied by law. Passage of this issue does not affect personal property taxes. It will stop the loss of $5,200 to the Watervliet Public Schools this year which will continue to escalate in future years. The Board of Education strongly supports this issue and hopes you will join us by voting yes. Sincerely, Bill Spaulding, President Matt Clay, Secretary Marilyn Barchett, Treasurer Ted Tees, Trustee Troy Boone, Trustee Eric Laws, Trustee

Bob’s Hobby Shop moving back into Watervliet building

Dear Editor, After one year of trouble with my building, gasoline under it and trouble with the city I have been trying to get Chemical Bank to give me notice when they will be taking the building back. The city has me going to court on May 21 because I have an empty building. All I need from Chemical Bank is a letter showing me when they will be taking the building back. I talked to Jeffrey Sallee, Managing Director of Chemical Bank and told him again I need a letter stating when they will be taking over. There was a little pause and he said they are not taking the building back, “You can move back in anytime and if you are ever able to sell it we want our share.” Immediately we started planning an auction in the basement for July 14 and right after the auction we will try to get the upstairs open as quickly as possible. If everything goes right, and I’m not hassled we will start sending care packages to the soldiers again. We stopped sending boxes a few years ago after we got robbed by a charge card company. We left off at 760 care packages. Some people have told me I just do this to get my name in the paper. Helping the soldiers can be a big battle with a lot of people. For example, I tried to put the flyers up at Sam’s Club in Kalamazoo; no way would they allow this! I put them up at the Kalamazoo fairgrounds and they immediately took them all down. This was not allowed. I did ask one official which flag he flew over their building and he did not like that. I’ve done a few shows at Pheasant Run Illinois and the Wheaton Fairgrounds in Illinois and I can hang up all the flyers I want. At rest stops in Illinois and Ohio I hung up flyers, York Pennsylvania I put them up in April and when I came back in October they were still up. I’ve had customers come in my store and give me things to send to the soldiers. I have one neighbor so mad at me for helping the soldiers he took down his American flag. I did get a few awards from the military and with all my problems and aggravation I have a book that weighs about 10 pounds with thank you notes from the military. That always brightens my day. Robert Taylor, Bob’s Hobby Shop

Trump is a corrupted menace and Upton is an enabler

Dear Editor, On Sunday, April 15, U.N. Ambassador Nicki Haley went on national T.V. and announced that there would soon be additional sanctions against Russia (for their part in supporting Syria’s 11th chemical weapons attack since the beginning of 2017). The next day, Donald Trump vetoed those sanctions, saying, “We’ll do sanctions as soon as they very much deserve it.” Trump’s national security team was in favor of the sanctions, along with a majority of Congress (and Americans according to all polls). Trump vetoed them anyway. Why is it so difficult for him to admonish Putin or Russia? Why does he blatantly protect a dictator who shuts down media outlets, arrests (or kills) his critics, and profits from his corrupted abuse of power? Apparently, Trump has no problem throwing 59 Tomahawk missiles around (at $1.4 million a pop) at Syria (most likely to detract from his Stormy Daniels affair), but can’t even bring himself to condemn Russia, the biggest supporter of Assad’s murderous regime. Haley handled it well though, making it clear where the real confusion lies, which is with our president! The cost of each of those missiles could have completely renovated every single school in our county and had plenty left over to pay our teachers fairly; but Upton and the Republicans prefer to use public money on distractions and corporate welfare. One must wonder what Putin and his oligarchs have on our president that causes him to reframe from ever criticizing Russia. The amount of collusion found between the Russians and his campaign is extensive and his refusal to release his tax returns is extremely suspicious. Trump is a corrupted and incompetent menace; and Congressional Republicans, including Fred Upton, are his spineless enablers. Why has Fred Upton voted for 99% of Trump’s extremely skewed policies? This November, we the people need to elect representatives with a moral compass, not more corporate owned TrUptons. Damon Wolf, Benton Harbor

State and local organizations collaborating to help Southwest Michigan residents recover from flood disaster

A Long-Term Recovery Group has been formed to provide recovery services to residents and families affected by the flooding in Southwest Michigan. United Way of Southwest Michigan is hosting bi-monthly meetings with many state and local organizations focused on uniting resources with community needs in order to ensure that everyone impacted recovers from this disaster. “There are many families still displaced from their homes. Some have homes that can’t be repaired. These families have to live with other family members or stay in hotels. The organizations from this recovery group are fighting for those people who need our help. We want to see everyone recover from this disaster,” states Anna Murphy, United Way of Southwest Michigan President. This collaborative effort includes the following organizations: Berrien Community Foundation, United Way of Southwest Michigan, The American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan, The Salvation Army, Niles Corps, City of Niles, Michigan State Police Office of Emergency Management, Berrien County Office of Emergency Management, Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency, Emergency Shelter Services, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), 1st Presbyterian Church (Niles), Neighbor to Neighbor, Berrien County Community Development and Andrews University. These organizations represent various functions of the recovery effort from funding, case management, volunteer coordination, construction coordination, and community communications to emotional and spiritual care. A big first step for this group is bringing on a Disaster Case Manager that can coordinate necessary services and resources to address the needs of those still impacted. “On behalf of the Long-Term Recovery Group, we’d like to express our thanks to all of the volunteers and donors who have helped out so much this spring. The money raised, items collected, and the volunteers mobilized have made a big impact in Southwest Michigan,” added Murphy. If you are someone still in need of recovery assistance, please contact Jan Radde, Project Coordinator of Impact at United Way of Southwest Michigan: janet.radde@uwsm.org or 269982-4029. United Way and the Berrien Community Foundation are still encouraging people to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund, which was setup in February. To give to the Fund, visit www.uwsm.org/relief or text UWSMRELIEF to 51555. If you’d like to make a donation via cash or check, please send to the following address (checks can be made payable to BCF/Disaster Relief Fund): Disaster Relief Fund c/o Berrien Community Foundation 2900 South State Street, Suite 2E St. Joseph, MI 49085. United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. They do this by LIVING UNITED, by forging unlikely partnerships, by finding new solutions to old problems, and by mobilizing the best resources. To join the fight, visit www.uwsm.org.

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