05-14-2020 Letters and Commentary

ALONG THE PAW PAW RIVER… Longtime friend and Paw Paw River Journal columnist Bud (Roy) Davis passed away last week. (His obituary is on Page 6.) Bud became a fixture on these pages resulting from a phone call to the Record. He had called the office to renew his subscription. In the course of the ensuing conversation with Anne, he mentioned he wrote a weekly journal. Anne said he should talk to me about running some of his journal entries in the Record. Sure enough he replied, and within a few days he showed up with a stack of journals chronicling growing up in Harford, flying the hump as a bomber pilot in WWII, college, marriage, kids, teaching, and adventures traveling with the Goldie Girls. Just a couple weeks ago, he called… “Karl, you know I’m not getting any younger. I just can’t see myself writing many more columns. I’ve got a few that I’d like to wrap up, and then run my final one.” There has been at least two such phone calls over the past five years and by the end of the call, we both agreed he could continue as long as he wanted and he was able. This time the call was different, his “Chief Accountant” Marion had passed away not too long ago, and his voice was much weaker. I agreed with him it was time to wrap up the Paw Paw River Journal in newspaper jargon -30- (the end). As he closed most columns, now it’s time… “to weave a few more golden threads into The Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River!” We’ve had many contributors to the Record over the 36 years Anne and I have owned the paper, each one sharing something special with our readers. Roy surpassed all with his weekly columns of humor, adventure, and history. So, the final seven columns will appear at the top of the History Page as it has for more than 1,800 issues. Each column was an original, except for the handful of reruns of the past weeks. There were a few I called the “retreads”. Bud would call me, “Karl, I’m running out of ideas for the Journal.” I’d reply, “How about rerunning those mystery/murder stories. And don’t forget the Viking’s tomb column, everyone really enjoyed those.” “I suppose so,” he’d say. And a few weeks would go by and there’d be a phone call, “Karl, I’m sending over my columns for next month, and I got some more ideas I want to write about. “You know, there’s a few stories that I can’t write, there’s too many next of kin still around town.” OK Bud.

Social Security supports teachers

This year, we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week from May 4 through May 8 and honor all educators who prepare our students for the future. We know that well-informed instructors can have a powerful influence on their students. That’s why we have easy to access, shareable online resources for teachers to engage students and educate them on Social Security.

Don’t miss out on our Educator Toolkit! The toolkit includes: Lesson plans with objectives; infographics and handouts for each lesson plan; links to Social Security web pages; talking points; and quiz questions and answers.

You can access the toolkit at www.ssa.gov/thirdparty/educators.html.

We value and welcome the efforts all teachers make to educate America’s young people, and we want to help spark discussion with students about Social Security. Please share our toolkit with your favorite educators today.

Vonda Van Til 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.

Faith overcomes fear

Many have heard that encouraging Bible verse found in Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.” (KJV) But how do you do that, especially when there is so much going on around you that is confusing and scary? Let’s look at a few other translations that might help us get our arms around this: “Thou wilt keep in perfect peace the mind stayed [on thee], for he confideth in thee.” – (Darby), or “Perfect, absolute peace surrounds those whose imaginations are consumed with you; they confidently trust in you.” – (TPT), or, “You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” – (GNT).

Key words and phrases surface and appear to be, “confides”, “imaginations”, “surrounds”, “consumed”, “confidently”, and “keep their purpose firm”. Evidently it’s a matter of focused thoughts directing faith towards God’s faithfulness, acknowledging His purposes, and trusting in His promises. His presence is a vital part of this peace as well.

We might say that is more easily said than done, but when we focus our thoughts, the “doing” of faith is totally under our control (unlike many other things in our lives). What helps focus? Well, one thing that encourages me is good music that expresses faith – sometimes the “old hymns” I’ve known for years. They remind us of our foundations in faith. Also, reading the Bible. If we can’t remember any favorite sections, we can read in Psalms. And if we find a particularly encouraging verse or two, commit some effort to memorizing it so it’s always available.

This may seem simplistic, but God has not changed, nor has He abandoned His love for His children. Faith overcomes fear even when our world is changing. God’s faithfulness does not end. His truth and His promises always win out in the end.

Start getting back to normal – gradually

Last week we learned that we’ll be under the governor’s stay at home order until May 28. While the length is unlikely to be reduced, it would be wise for the governor to gradually lift certain restrictions over the next few weeks. She has done this to an extent, with professions such as realtors and manufacturers. The legislature understands the necessity for additional safety measures to be put in place. That said, there are many more jobs and functions of society that could reopen if allowed to.

Though we are still pushing for greater transparency on the data that is driving the executive branch’s decision making, publicly available information shows new cases and deaths related to COVID-19 are trending downward in Michigan.

We are beginning to see cases of individuals in our state who are in life threatening situations that otherwise could have been avoided through “elective” surgeries and procedures. At the same time, many businesses and employees that already had to endure temporary lay-offs and financial setbacks are beginning to permanently close with greater regularity. If we do not enact common sense changes to these restrictions soon, we are opening ourselves up to a myriad of proxy crises that could further jeopardize the long-term health of our state.

If you are an employer or have lost your job during this pandemic, you have probably spent a substantial and frustrating amount of time online or on the phone with unemployment. If you need help getting your benefits, my office has already resolved around 100 UIA and we are eager to help you as well. Once you send us your Full Name, Address, Phone Number, and if possible, case number, my office will submit it to UIA who will typically contact you directly in 4-10 business days.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me toll free at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RepBethGriffin.

Knowing the signs, symptoms of stroke can save lives

May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time to highlight the signs and symptoms of a stroke and the preventive measures that can be taken to help avoid one of the leading causes of death. A stroke can happen to anyone at any time — about one in four people will have a stroke in their lifetime.

Stroke is called a silent killer because, even though someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, few people know the signs of a stroke or understand the risks for having one. The good news is that strokes are treatable, beatable and preventable.

Time is an important factor in responding to a stroke, and that’s why the American Stroke Association encourages people to know how to act F.A.S.T. — an acronym for knowing the common stroke warning signs and what we should do if we or someone we know is having a stroke emergency.

Face drooping: A person’s face is drooping to the side or is numb, or they have an uneven smile.

Arm weakness: One arm is weak or numb and the person may have difficulty raising it.

Speech difficulty: Speech may be slurred, hard to understand or inaudible.

Time to call 911: If someone experiences any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 and record the time the symptoms were observed.

Other warning signs and symptoms of a stroke may include sudden numbness or weakness of the face or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion; difficulty understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; nausea or vomiting; trouble walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination; and severe headache with no known cause.

Beyond just knowing the symptoms of a stroke, important as those indicators are, it is also important that people know how they can reduce their chances of having a stroke in the first place.

By focusing on “Life’s Simple 7” key health factors and behaviors, including managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, staying active, eating well, losing weight and avoiding tobacco, people can lower their risk of stroke and heart disease.

Understanding the signs and symptoms and working to improve one’s overall health can be a lifesaving combination for you or someone you know or love. During this Stroke Awareness Month, consider joining me in spreading the word.

As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

Congressional relief packages must include support for autos

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every sector of the economy, and the auto industry here in Michigan and across the nation has been hit hard. Factories have closed, workers have been laid off, and sales projections have plummeted.

Here’s the reality. Nearly 10 million jobs are driven by this sector. Fourteen automakers build cars and light trucks in America. The motor vehicle industry depends on a complex network of thousands of companies supplying parts, components and materials, to giant production platforms, employing thousands of workers, as well as a vast retail and vehicle maintenance network of dealers. In many communities, production plants are the spine of the local economy.

On Tuesday, I joined with a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership, urging them to support the auto industry in future coronavirus relief packages.

We made it clear that Congress must act swiftly to protect jobs, strengthen local supply chains, and support domestic auto manufacturing, especially now as we rethink our reliance on foreign production and global supply chains.

Moving forward, I will continue to work with both my colleagues in Congress and the private sector to stimulate a robust recovery of this historic and critical industry in any future relief bills Congress introduces.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph / Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

My very good reason for running for State Representative

Hello Friend,

I am running for State Representative in the 79th District.

As we test the water to relax ‘stay-home, stay-safe’ measures, COVID-19 remains the elephant in the room. The economic reverberations of this virus are changing our social, educational, medical, environmental, agricultural and political landscape before our eyes. 2021 will be a pivotal moment for rewriting public and social policy.

During this health crisis, this campaign does not point fingers that this organization didn’t-do-this, or this political party did-that. Coronavirus itself is asking us to come together as Community for long-term, sustainable solutions. I want to bring my innate ‘new perspective’ attitude and ability to collaborate, to the table. I would like to close political gaps and work for the best, and highest interest of all.

I work as a nurse’s assistant at Spectrum Health Lakeland psychiatric department. The health community promotes responsible quarantine for not only weeks, but months. Experts are projecting a surge of cases in July. We have been rightly informed that the virus will take us well into 2021; and our spiraling systems will continue to be at the throes of major change.

And that is why I am challenging the Republican incumbent.

I know that you and I can see good coming out of these days that may seem so bleak. Let’s continue to hold Michigan in the light of leadership that the rest of the country looks up to. We do not want party-pettiness to stand in our way.

And for that I will be pleased to represent us in Lansing in January.

There is power in the primary.

I look forward to your support on August 4.

Thank you. Keep well.

Jacquie Gnodtke Blackwell

Litany of a feckless leader


Oh, the incompetence, arrogance and irresponsibility of a “war” president. From January through early March, Trump repeatedly downplayed the possibility of a COVID-19 pandemic. He ignored multiple intelligence briefings and advice from science experts, he called this a democrat hoax, that it’s just the flu, and that it’d be gone by spring.

When it was clear that the nation was in trouble, Trump “declared war” on the virus and assumed the mantra of a “wartime president”; however, he made it clear that he assumed no responsibility for the situation in which we found ourselves.

As deaths climbed, Trump declared war against Science and took to the media with daily, delusory briefings. His diatribes usually degenerated into misleading self-promotion, often contradicting his medical experts on progress and the status of key components such as testing.

The low point was his random suggestion that maybe injecting or ingesting disinfectants could cure coronavirus infections (something one might hypothesize while inebriated at a bar to some friends, not a national press conference).

The final phase of the “war” was his surrender. He published some guidelines for reopening the country, drawn up by medical experts, and then declared that the governors of the 50 states would be responsible for pulling the country out of the morass he helped create. As he washed his hands of his two-month, incompetence laden “war”, he began pushing the states to open their economies, even though none were meeting the guidelines that the medical experts had created.

Trump’s most recent act of incompetence was to become an obstacle to those on whom he dumped his bungled operation. He cheered on the protesters who stormed Michigan’s capitol building, some armed and some carrying Nazi and Confederate signs and flags, calling them “very good people”. Most of these “very good people” were endangering everyone they subsequently encountered by violating the social distancing mitigations in place to reduce infection rates.

Never in the history of our country has a president demonstrated such feckless leadership against such a formidable foe.

Damon Wolf, Benton Harbor


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