05-25-2017 Letters and Commentary

LETTERS

Top Pop Contest… Deadline is noon Friday, June 16

Looking for the area’s

“Top Pop” for 2017

 Father’s Day is Sunday, June 18, and some lucky Tri-City Area dad will be the happy recipient of dozens of great gifts, compliments of the Tri-City Record and its advertisers.

The winner of this year’s “Top Pop” contest will be selected by the staff of the Record from letters written to the paper during the contest period.

Letters to the paper, nominating your “Top Pop,” should tell why he is the greatest. List some of the things he does to deserve the award; and be sure to include his name, your name, and your telephone number.

Send your letter to: Tri-City Record, P.O. Box 7, Watervliet, MI 49098 or by email to record@tricityrecord.com. All letters will be published in the Record as close to Father’s Day as possible.

The “Top Pop” will be selected from those letters after the 12:00 noon contest deadline on Friday, June 16. The writer of the winning letter will be notified that afternoon.

Keep an eye out for prizes and complete contest rules in future issues of the Tri-City Record; and start working on that letter today!

BCYF annual dinner/dance fund-raiser a success

Dear Editor,

The Berrien County Youth Fair Fundraising Committee extends a gracious thank you for making the 6th annual fundraiser dinner/dance held on March 18, 2017 at the St. Joe Kicker’s Club a great success.  The committee reported that attendance of fair supporters and volunteers increased as well as donations to help the bottom line.  The event brought in over $17,000 which will be used exclusively to pay exhibitor premiums for the Berrien County Youth Fair held this year August 14-19, 2017.  Plans are underway for the 2018 dinner and dance event as well as additional fund-raisers to raise money for exhibitor premiums! Follow the BCYF on Facebook or online at www.bcyf.org.

Donors to be recognized are:

Amanda Dienes, Ashley White, B.C. Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin, Baroda Area Business Association, BCYF Equine Committee, Belle Tire, Berrien County 4-H Leaders Council, Berrien Dental, BH/SJ YMCA, Bill and Sue Baber, Bob Mischke Family, Bruce & Suellen Foster, C&C Ranch, Cathy Reifschneider, Catie Holt, Celebration Cinema, Christine Prillwitz-Huber, Cindy Hall, County Commissioner Teri Freehling, Dablon Vineyards, Dargus Ag, LLC, Dave & Susan Coulston, Dennis & Gail Holmes, Dr. Holly Shafer, Edible Arrangements, Fairmount Santrol, Fernwood Botanical Gardens, Fluff N’ Suds, Four Winds Casino, Frank & Pat Criniti, Fred Canfield, Grand Rapids Griffins, Grand Rapids Public Museum, GreenMark Equipment, Guys & Dolls Styling, Hillview Farms, Home City Ice, Impressive Lettering, James & Amy Hemphill Family, Jeanine Larson, Jerry & Karen Cuthbert, Jessica Balsis, Jessica Sutherland, Jim & Sheri Kesterke, Joe Rydwelski, Jonathon Richards, Kara Sloniker, Kelly Northup, Ken & Karen Klug, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Kristin Albers, Kyle Stahl Treecare, Lafayette Tent & Awning, Lake Michigan Hills, Lemon Creek Winery, McKenzie Renee Photography, Megan Papoi, Michigan Awesome, Oronoko Ironworks, Our Tribe of Five Photography, Outlast Metal Concepts, Paul Ranft of The Outfitters, Potawatomi Zoo, Rachel Scholten,

Rebecca Russell, Romszewicz Concept Designs, Samantha Rydwelski, Sandy’s Floral Boutique, Shannon Kruschel, Shawn & Matt Wolske, Shedd Aquarium, Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, Shine-A-Blind, Sill Laser, Silver Beach Pizza, Silverstone Gardens, Smoke Vision, Soft Touch Car Wash, South Bend Cubs, St. Joe Kicker’s Club, Steve & Jill Hein, Suisse Chalet Bakery, SW MI Symphony Orchestra, The Henry Ford Museum, The Mark III, The Winning Edge, Tidy Car, Tom Gear & Mary Spaulding, Ty-Kat Sugar Shack, Walmart, Weldy Sales and Service, and to anyone else we may have missed!

Fentanyl danger

Dear Editor,

Those with loved ones who are using opiates or heroin have a new risk. Drug dealers across the United States have begun to mix drugs with an extremely powerful and dangerous drug known as Fentanyl.

The drug Fentanyl can be from 50 to 100 times more powerful then heroin, making the risk of a fatal overdose much higher. Drug dealers have been using this drug to increase the potency of their heroin at a lower cost.

Now more than ever it is essential to get those you know who are addicted into treatment. Having a relationship with a person who has an addiction to opiates is often stressful. Although you just want to help the addicted person, they many times fight against you as if you were the enemy.

Addicts can be very difficult to get into treatment and it is important to ask for help when you need it. There are professionals who can help you handle your loved one before it is too late.

Do not be surprised if your loved one accuses you of contributing to their addiction. Hear them out and take their words into consideration but at the end of the day realize getting them sober and continuing to live is the most important thing.

Fentanyl has made the risks of being a heroin addict even higher than it already was. Get yourself educated. If one of your loved ones is struggling with addiction, get them into treatment. Don’t wait until it is too late.

There are many different approaches to the challenge of how to help addicts. For free information, visit http://www.narcononnewliferetreat.org/blog/fentanyl-laced-heroin-worsening-overdose-crisis.html or call 1 800-431-1754 to get help for your loved ones.

Ray Clauson

Denham Springs, LA

An independent investigation of Russia and the Trump Campaign is urgently needed

Dear Editor,

With the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel for the investigation of the Russian connection to President Trump and his campaign, the possibility of a politically independent process has increased.

When Trump fired James Comey, Director of the FBI, he left the door open to the investigation being conducted solely by Trump allies. I wonder how that would have turned out?

In an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, Trump admitted that he fired Comey because the FBI Director continued to pursue the “Russia-Trump” investigation. A recent article in the New York Times reported that after meeting with Trump in February, Director Comey wrote a memo indicating that Trump had asked him to “let go” of the investigation of Michael Flynn, who had just been fired from his position as National Security Adviser for lying about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

The Republican leadership in Congress is either silent or is willing to sit on their hands rather than express anything close to the appropriate outrage that these acts call for.  Why?

Those backing Trump obviously see benefit in governance that reaches out to and praises dictators and authoritarian leaders that have a history of eliminating a free press, killing off opponents and undermining democracy: Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in Philippines, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, and Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.

It also seems abundantly clear that (most but not all) congressional Republicans are more committed to their party than they are to their country.  They are more concerned with getting their legislative agenda through congress than ensuring we protect our American Democracy.

It is clear that Putin and his cronies used cyber-attacks on U.S. citizens and put out fake news to influence the U.S. election.  It is unclear yet whether there was collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. That is why a thorough, impartial investigation is needed.

If we allow a cover up to occur and we don’t get a full accounting of the Russia connection, we will see even more drastic consequences to our Democracy once truth sees the light of day.  Our members of Congress must be “Guardians of our Democracy” rather than use this situation for political gains or accept this situation as business as usual.  Let’s be reminded that a previous president (Richard Nixon) tried to avoid the truth, and many helping him paid a heavy toll.

Kenneth R. Peterson

MAJ USA (Ret.)

Buchanan, MI

Michigan House committee OKs plan to close tax loophole for out-of-state homeowners

 Legislation to prevent out-of-state residents from unfairly taking advantage of property tax exemptions when they buy second homes in Michigan was unanimously approved by the House Tax Policy Committee.

The bills are sponsored by state Reps. Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs and Kim LaSata of Bainbridge Township. The issue is key in the southwest part of the state near Lake Michigan, where many out-of-state residents buy second homes.

Some property owners intentionally declare a homestead property tax exemption on their second home in Michigan, while at the same time claiming a similar exemption on their primary residence in another state. This practice, which improperly reduces the amount of taxes collected for schools and local governments, should not be allowed for any amount of time under Michigan law.

“When out-of-state residents improperly claim this second exemption, it takes money away from our schools and community services,” LaSata said. “This practice must stop.”

The new legislation would clarify and close loopholes in Michigan law. If a property owner has claimed a principal residence exemption in Michigan while claiming a similar exemption in another state, the Michigan exemption would be rescinded.

A claim for a Michigan homestead tax exemption could be denied and enforced retroactively if it is discovered the property owner had claimed a similar exemption in another state.

Intentional violators could face a misdemeanor criminal charge.

LaSata and Pagel said they welcome out-of-state property owners who want to buy homes in Michigan, but emphasized tax laws should be followed fairly and consistently.

“This legislation is needed to end an unfair practice that hurts our communities financially,” Pagel said. “Too many homeowners are using this loophole and not facing any consequences, even after they are caught.”

American Red Cross blood donation opportunities

 Before busy summer schedules set in, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to roll up a sleeve to help ensure a sufficient supply for patients in need.

Donors of all blood types are needed now to help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and people receiving cancer treatment.

Giving blood is an easy and thoughtful way to honor a loved one who has relied on blood products, to follow in the example of a family member who gives regularly, or to simply help others.

As a thank you, those who come out to donate May 26-30 will receive a Red Cross-branded visor, while supplies last.

Make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can then also visit redcrossblood.org/cedarfair to enter to win one of three grand prize packages for four to Knott’s Berry Farm in California or Cedar Point in Ohio.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities locally are on Friday, May 26 in Hartford from 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. at the Federated Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy and on Tuesday, May 30 in St. Joseph from 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. at American Red Cross, 3838 Niles Road.

KARL’S KOLUMN

WELCOME TO SUMMER… I hope you enjoy this special edition of the Tri-City Record “Welcome to the Summer in the Tri-Cities.” This special issue, published annually on Memorial Day Weekend has numerous features highlighting all the great events in our community throughout the summer months.

Starting with the wonderful Hartford Strawberry Festival in June, the fantastic Watervliet Independence weekend festival in July, and the huge and historical Glad-Peach Festival in August, the summer months are each anchored by quality, family fun events in our own hometowns. Add in great local lakes with loads of public boating, swimming and fishing; plus the mighty Paw Paw River running through it with great opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and tubing there’s water recreation everywhere.

The numerous parks, playgrounds, hiking and biking trails, ball fields, disc golf, and golf courses offer a myriad of activities within a couple miles of each other, make the Tri-Cities a Mecca of outdoor recreation, supported by lively Main Streets that is second to none in this part of Michigan.

Thanks to the efforts of all the Tri-City Record reporters and the advertising that make it all possible, this special edition is our best yet.

Enjoy it. Keep your copy around all summer for those days when the kids and company (or you) run out of ideas for “something to do.” The adventure and excitement right here in your hometown is yours for the asking. Enjoy it every day.

Start that adventure this week by enjoying the Lane Automotive Car Show… their open header parade is early Friday evening and the car show is Saturday. See their ad in this week’s issue for all the details.

REMEMBER… our war dead this Memorial Day. No matter where you are or what you are doing this Memorial Day, take a few moments to remember the men and women of our armed forces that gave their lives to keep our country free.

Nearly every community will host some sort of ceremony of respect and remembrance; the very least you can do is stop by and pay your respects. Sadly, too many of these short and poignant ceremonies are sparsely attended; the opposite should be the rule, not the exception.

Given that we are a country at war, our sons and daughters are in harm’s way as you read this and as the prayers are said, come Monday, we should all be there.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GRADUATES… this is the time of the year that our high school seniors graduate. We are so proud of your accomplishments in the classroom and in the arts and on the sports fields. Many times those achievements are overshadowed by the antics of a few classmates but your good work will not be forgotten and will stand the test of time and reward you for a lifetime.

I’m proud the Record lists all the personal achievements and awards amassed by our graduates. Those achievements will be published in their entirety (along with the senior class picture) when that information becomes available over the next couple of weeks.

Seniors, as you mark this momentous occasion with family and friends, please celebrate safely and responsibly. Make sure you celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in your life, not the end of it.

BILL WON’T WIN TOP POP CONTEST… As preparations were underway last week for Bill’s surprise birthday party, I commented to Anne (my wife) earlier in the week. I said Billy is without a doubt the best man I have ever met. He lives his morality continually without reservation or interruption.

Anne replied, you’re right, you should tell him on his birthday. He would like to hear you say that.

No, I said.   Billy’s 50th birthday came and went and I didn’t say a thing.

In the interest of full-disclosure, Billy is my son-in-law Bill Loshbough, married to our daughter Amy. His familial relationship means I have had many opportunities to see him in action.  It also means he won’t win our top pop contest here at the Record; but he should.

We all know people that are good and kind, that strive to do the right thing. We know few people that are really good at being good and kind and do the right thing. We know a very few that are always good and kind.

I know one that I unreservedly believe is the best man I’ve ever known.

Billy does the right thing and if perchance he doesn’t, he will go back to do it.  Billy visits the sick and the frail without any hesitation as soon as he hears of the person’s distress. He will stop on a road and cross it to give comfort and aid to someone he sees in need.

When a family is in mourning, he visits them, talks to them, and prays with them.  I have seen him comfort folks, unasked and with words that come from the heart.

I’m talking about a man that stands up in church to speak his mind, has stepped in to help out whenever asked, who by example teaches his employees to maintain the same morality and ethics on and off the job.

To my mind, that’s Billy Loshbough; certainly a Top Pop and a very good man.  I hope you know him.

Life-long learning

Seeing current pictures of friends that I have not seen for many years, I am often surprised at how much they have aged. Statements like “Wow, he has white hair!” or “He looks old!” are not uncommon.

So what do I think? Haven’t I aged as well? I didn’t always have white hair did I? And so little of it! Pictures of me at 25 have little resemblance to how I look now – if I’m being honest. And that’s the issue – honesty about reality. I don’t know what age we will look like in heaven, but while on earth we definitely change with time; not dealing with it honestly won’t make it go away. An older uncle once quipped, “Birthday’s aren’t so bad when you consider the alternative.”  His wife, who survived him by many years, saw it differently. She would say, “Growing old is for the birds!” Finally she also didn’t have to deal with it any longer. Both of them, however, were life-long learners in their spiritual lives as well as in their physical lives. God’s faithfulness in their earlier experiences had taught them that they could trust Him in their later experiences as well.

At a recent Bible study it was noted that Moses was curious about the burning bush from which God would speak to him, commissioning him for a new task (Exodus 3).

Did God need Moses or could God have freed the Israelites Himself? Perhaps God involved Moses so Moses would learn more about God even at age 80 and beyond! His journey was not done, and while our journey continues – for however long – we too can apply what we’ve learned in the past to learning new things about God’s faithfulness and enablement, whatever our age. That’s being honest about who we really are.

Honoring our heroes on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, we honor the soldiers and service members who have given their lives for our nation. Part of how we honor service members is the way we provide Social Security benefits.

The unexpected loss of a family member is a difficult experience for anyone. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents.  Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.  You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to assist veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty.

Wounded military service members can receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/veterans.html.

Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the V.A. or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

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.

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