06-04-2020 Letters and Commentary

Memorial Day stirred emotions

Dear Editor,

It was a mixture of disappointment, disgust and dismay that I felt while visiting two local cemeteries on Memorial Day.

My emotions were stirred by the near total lack of attendance at the cemeteries on that day.

Folks, is it too much to ask that you spend one hour, once per year, to honor those who gave their all to protect your rights of freedoms?

And, please, do not “blame the COVID-19 pandemic” for your lack of attendance. It was/is a hoax! (A “lockdown” was never about your “health” anyway.)

If you are a pastor, coach, public official, etc., get the word out. Let’s show some citizenship and pride in America!

Let’s see a much better turn-out on Memorial Day 2021!

Thank you,

Tom Nimtz, Benton Harbor

COVID-19 Facts

Dear Editor,

The following appeared on social media and sums up why so many of us are fed up with these “rules” mostly passed by our Slow to Learn Governor. (I say slow to learn, because after 3 or 4 protests you think she would know what the people want.)

You know we could open our state and the ones that the fake media has scared to death could stay home. Not sure how the government can legally make me stay home unless they prove I am ill and a risk to others.

The author of the following is Ryan Silverthorn.

I will add one more thought; if these worthless masks really work, then why are we kept home?

“Covid19 Facts: The virus can travel 6’ it can not travel 6’1 or greater, it can live on all surfaces except anything that comes in the mail from Amazon, it does not live in Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes or any grocery store, it is only deadly in bars, restaurants, small businesses, hair salons and especially churches, and it can not live on your food as long as you get it to go.”

Dennis Bachman, Benton Harbor

Diocese releases statement on George Floyd

The Diocese of Kalamazoo released the following statement on the current situation on Mr. George Floyd:

“It is deeply troubling to watch the growing protests and onset of violence spreading across the country in the wake of the tragic and brutal death of Mr. George Floyd. I join with my brother Bishops in their Statement yesterday which in part states: ‘Racism is not a thing of the past or simply a throwaway political issue to be bandied about when convenient. It is a real and present danger that must be met head on. As members of the Church, we must stand for the more difficult right and just actions instead of the easy wrongs of indifference. We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life. We serve a God of love, mercy, and justice.’

“I am grateful for the work of our diocesan Ad Hoc Committee on Racism,” said Bishop Paul J. Bradley, “and I look forward to their continued efforts to help us all find ways to encourage dialogue and understanding, and to see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. On this great Feast of Pentecost, let us beg the Holy Spirit to free us from the scourge of racism and to keep it from spreading like another dangerous epidemic; may the Holy Spirit give us the courage to turn away from any sin that disrespects the dignity of the human person; may the Holy Spirit fill us with the Gift of Insight to see one another as God sees us all—-precious and beloved sons and daughters. I urge all our Parish communities to pray fervently this weekend for God’s graces to strengthen our resolve to live together as His children, made in His image and likeness, with profound respect for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and with a strong commitment to live together in peace.”

Upton, U.S. House pass Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

(Press Release) U.S. Rep. Fred Upton voted May 28, 2020 for and the U.S. House passed the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, of which Upton was an original co-sponsor. The bill passed 417-1.

This bipartisan legislation extends loan forgiveness beyond the original 8-week timeline, eliminates restrictions limiting non-payroll expenses to 25% of loan proceeds, extends the 2-year limit on loan repayment, ensures full access to payroll tax deferment, and expands the rehiring deadline to offset the effect of increased unemployment benefits. These five modifications will help simplify the loan process and grant more flexibility to businesses in states that have not yet lifted some restrictions.

Upton delivered remarks on the House floor prior to voting to urge his colleagues to support the bill’s passage.

“When the President signed the paycheck protection program nearly two months ago, it provided a real lifeline to our small businesses. And as much as we all wanted this crisis to be over by Easter, the Paycheck Protection Program small business lifeline must be extended to account for the continued uncertainty that otherwise would absolutely drown our small businesses as they attempt to get back on their feet. We need to provide real relief to our small businesses and the millions of employees that it impacts,” Upton said.

“Restaurants have suffered more job and revenue losses than any other sector of the economy because of mandated closures and restrictions on operating. Enacting changes to PPP, like those in H.R. 7010, help restaurants receive the relief they need to get employees back to work. We are grateful to Congressman Upton for his leadership in helping get restaurants and employees on the path to recovery,” Dan Roehl, Vice President of

Government Affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said.

The PPP Flexibility Act received the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsement after more than 75 percent of the 50-member bipartisan caucus agreed to support the bill.

The Paycheck Protection Program was implemented as part of the CARES Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020.

To date, the Paycheck Protection Program has provided more than 4 million loans totaling more than $511 billion in federal funding to small businesses and their employees across the country.

MPA urges support for protection of a free press

Michigan Press Association Public Affairs Manager Lisa McGraw has written the following op-ed for MPA members highlighting the importance of the freedom of the press during this trying time.

Newspaper columnist Rod Dreher wrote: “There are three kinds of people who run toward disaster not away: cops, firemen and reporters.”

Watching the coverage of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the importance of journalism could not be more evident. The photography, videography and written accounts of journalists continue to shine a light on matters of public concern. Reporters in Michigan have run toward the chaos in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit. They have done an outstanding job of informing citizens what is happening during the protests in those cities.

Unfortunately, several incidents in Detroit over the weekend have caused concern in our profession. Journalists covering the protest and civil unrest over the last few days have faced tear gas, rubber bullets and in the case of one reporter arrest.

The Michigan Press Association feels it is incumbent upon the leadership in the City of Detroit to send a message to those officers who are disregarding press credentials and shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at members of the media that they are acting in a way that is not condoned by the administration.

“Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of the press” this is an important tenant of the First Amendment. We would ask that those in charge of the City of Detroit support this amendment to our nations Constitution. Please understand that journalists are there as neutral observers to report on the actions of all.

We understand that law enforcement around the country is under extreme pressure. We appreciate their efforts to maintain calm during this storm. We do however insist that they allow members of the media to do their jobs without fear of injury or arrest.

Men’s Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month and a good time to remind men to take steps to be healthier, and that they don’t have to do it alone! Whether it’s your husband, partner, dad, brother, son, or friend you can help support the health and safety of the men in your life. You can support the men in your life by having healthy habits yourself and by making healthy choices. Eat healthy and include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve your mental health and mood. Set an example by choosing not to smoke and encourage the men in your life to quit smoking. Help the men in your life recognize and reduce stress. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Encourage men to see a doctor or health professional for regular checkups and to learn about their family health history. The Berrien County Health Department can provide men with the preventative screening and wellness assessments that they need to stay healthy. At the Berrien County Health Department Men’s Health Clinic, men can get an overall health assessment, blood pressure check, testicular exam, reproductive counseling, HIV/STD checks, immunizations, and referrals or linkages to further care if needed. Call the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 to schedule an appointment.

Class of 2020 finishes strong

One of the underreported stories of the COVID-19 pandemic is this generation of high school seniors who are graduating. Many classes were to have had their commencement ceremonies in recent days. It is truly unfortunate that thousands of seniors from our Southwest Michigan communities had this unique part of their lives ripped out from under them. No prom. No class night. No awards banquet. No baccalaureate. No graduation ceremony. And yet, what could have been a moment met with despair, instead has been turned into one of the most remarkable senior years in history. Parents, teachers, students and communities throughout our state and nation have banded together in support of the senior class of 2020 to ensure that they get the recognition they deserve. I read of one high school principal in Texas, whose district spans great distances, who traveled many hours over many days to personally visit every member of his class of 2020 at their homes. Locally, we have seen graduation parades organized, a senior bus celebration tour, and lawns of homes throughout our neighborhoods dotted with yard signs letting all who see know that a 2020 senior lives there. These are just a few of the many ways people have rallied around graduating seniors this year, and it has been a beautiful thing. But I am hopeful that every postponed commencement ceremony eventually takes place. Sometimes life lessons are learned at an early age. For this year’s seniors, overcoming the fear and uncertainty of the unknown and facing adversity with grace and strength will pay dividends for years to come. In the moment, this may seem like an unfair, tough time, because it is. But life has no shortage of hard times, and they will be able to draw from the strength they have exhibited during the last months of their K-12 education. If you can get through this, you can get through anything. On behalf of my staff and the residents of the 21st state Senate District, to the class of 2020, I say congratulations on achieving this milestone and finishing strong. Thank you for setting an example for younger generations in demonstrating how to overcome adversity with class. I wish you all the best and hope you find success in whatever you pursue. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

Wait for it

The weather report changes pretty frequently. Yesterday’s prediction for today may not seem to have anything to do with reality when today actually arrives. Expecting cloudy and rain, instead we have sunny and warmer. Actually, I’ll take whatever we’re given, and I know that meteorology, while a legitimate science, is not an “exact” science. There are so many variables, choosing the correct predictive weather model can be tricky. Prophetic models are like that too. While some things are clearer than others, the correct model for understanding the Bible’s predictions varies in their assumptions. There are a lot of variables. For example, there is a New Testament passage that states a thousand years is like a day with the Lord and a day like a thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8). Some people use that phrase to dismiss the seven literal days of Creation. That doesn’t work very well in reality. Looking at the variables of the passage, we see that the correct “model” for understanding it is in the context of the system. It says that God is patient towards us humans and that is why it may seem that judgment is too delayed. Then it gives a reason for His patience – opportunity for repentance on our part. For a precedent for application of this model we discover that God gave Habakkuk a similar message in that Old Testament prophet’s “oracle”. In Habakkuk 2:3 we hear the message about justice and setting things right – “wait for it”. It will come. And when the storm comes it will come suddenly. For those that think they hear the distant thunder of the return of the resurrected Jesus Christ, remember that God controls the timing. He owns the model. He does everything right on time. It will all come together. Wait for it. Meanwhile, make sure about where you stand with God.

Social Security’s online services are ready for business

During this time when our physical offices are closed to the public, you may wonder, “How can I get help from Social Security without visiting an office?” You can find the answer at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices, which links you to some of our most popular online services. You can apply for retirement and disability benefits, appeal a decision, and do much more. Our newest my Social Security feature, Advance Designation, enables you to identify up to three people, in priority order, who you would like to serve as your potential representative payee in the event you ever need help managing your benefits. We have updated our Frequently Asked Questions at faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-10039 to answer questions you may have about Advance Designation. You can also apply for Medicare online in less than 10 minutes with no forms to sign and often no required documentation. We’ll process your application and contact you if we need more information. Visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare to apply for Medicare and find other important information. If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after that birthday. We’ve organized our Online Services webpage into four popular categories for easy navigation: Review Your Information. You can access your secure, personal information and earnings history to make sure everything is correct. You can even print statements with ease. Apply for Benefits. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits without having to visit a field office. Manage Your Account. You can change your direct deposit information and your address online. Find Help and Answers. We’ve answered your most frequently asked questions, and provided links to publications and other informational websites. Let your family and friends know they can do much of their business with us online at www.ssa.gov. 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.

Working together for positive changes

In the face of a global pandemic, another murdered African American man and peaceful protests from a majority of people and riots and looting from a vocal few, it seems like the very fabric of our Republic is being stretched to the point of tearing. Yet, for a brief time on Saturday afternoon, our nation’s eyes looked to the sky as two American heroes boldly raced into the stars. At 3:22 p.m., Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley in the Dragon capsule Endeavor atop the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. For the first time since 2011, American astronauts were on their way to the International Space Station from American soil on an American-made spacecraft. With everything happening in our country and around the world, this may seem trivial. Yet throughout our history, events like the historic SpaceX launch have traditionally inspired our people and drawn us together as a nation. The teams at NASA, SpaceX, and so many other organizations tirelessly worked together to pull off this launch, ensuring that the mission was a success. There was no divisiveness or bickering, just Americans from all walks of life working together to achieve a common goal. When we pause and remember that we’re all one nation under God, we realize that nothing is outside our grasp. There is no question we have made great progress as a country, but we still have much more work to do to ensure “liberty and justice for all” is more than just words. As your state representative, I will continue using the office to which you’ve entrusted me to serve every resident of our community to the best of my ability. I will always make sure that your voices are heard and that you have a seat at the table. As we move forward, let’s bring about the positive changes we wish to see in our community. When we work together, we can achieve anything. Let’s get to work. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.

We can’t leave rural America behind in our digital revolution

In America, our rural communities are the beating heart of our country, but unfortunately, they have lagged behind their urban counterparts in terms of access to broadband service. In fact, roughly one in four rural households cannot connect to the internet, and it is often too slow and expensive for those who do. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, this major divide has been exposed as folks adjust to working remotely and students transition to online learning. With so much uncertainty in today’s world, Americans should be certain about one thing: dependable, reliable internet. That’s why I joined House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) in introducing the bipartisan Rural Broadband Acceleration Act that directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fund shovel-ready, high-speed internet projects so that consumers can access broadband within one year. Over the last month, more than 70 electric cooperatives have committed to deploy broadband service to rural communities, and just 100 projects would create 240,000 construction jobs and provide internet service to 5 million rural residents. It’s past time that Congress address the urban-rural broadband divide, and I’m glad to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to deploy internet service to our rural communities here in Southwest Michigan and across the country. 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).