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06-27-2019 Letters and Commentary

Little Miss Firecracker 2018 says thanks Dear Editor, I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be Little Miss Firecracker 2018. It has been a year full of memorable events. I was able to walk on stage at the Miss Blossomtime Showcase of Queens night, ride in parades, help at the Easter Egg Hunt, and help throw out the first pitch at Hays Park. This experience is something I am very thankful for and therefore would like to thank the following people: Little Mr. & Miss Firecracker chairpersons Elizabeth Eggert and Kassie Thomas, Miss Watervliet 2018 Ellie Troyer and her court – 1st Runner-up Livia Boughner, Miss Congeniality Courtney Little and 2nd Runner-up Zoe Smith; Miss Watervliet 2019 Hannah Yerrington and her court – 1st Runner-up Emma Yazel, 2nd Runner-up Emma Kraklau, Miss Congeniality Natalie Wesaw; 2019 Co-Mr. Watervliet Allen Chapin and Derrick Burkhardt; Watervliet Pageant Organization, Troyer family, Rebecca Yazel, and Yerrington family. Also, I would like to thank Little Mr. Firecracker 2018 Brayden Fuller for being a great prince during all the events. This truly has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am thankful to everyone that has made this possible and supported me along the way. To the next Little Miss Firecracker remember to leave a little sparkle wherever you go. Thank you, Charlotte Weber Little Miss Firecracker 2018

Honored and appreciative of garden sculpture in Library Park Dear Editor, I am sending this letter to the area so the public is aware of the great facility that is here in town. The park area has taken a very long time to bring the Library Garden Park to perfection. The Watervliet District Library board wanted everything in perfect order to work this project. This past month the board honored me with a beautiful award which is a Kinetic Garden Sculpture by Peter Griz. I want to give a thank you to the board members of The Watervliet District Library. Thanks also to all who had a hand in this effort. Thanks so much, Anne Bayer

Berrien Community Foundation announces mini-grants for a complete census count The Berrien Community Foundation is pleased to announce an opportunity for mini-grants to help Berrien County achieve a complete count in the 2020 Census. Berrien County has an anticipated $44 million in federal funding per year for the next 10 years at risk if there is an undercount in the 2020 Census. Because of this risk, the Berrien Community Foundation is acting as the Census Hub to help mobilize communities to ensure an accurate count. Census count day is April 1, 2020. “Our local nonprofit organizations are key to the grassroots efforts to count every resident in the 2020 Census,” said Berrien Community President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “Nonprofits, including churches and schools, are key contact points to residents who may not fill out the census form. These grants will help support nonprofit efforts to educate residents about the importance of the census and plans to get out the count.” Census-based federal funding is used for roads, bridges, schools, social services, housing, transportation and much more. Census data also determines our federal and state legislative representation. “Counting every resident of Berrien County is vital to Berrien County getting our fair share of federal funding and representation,” added Kathy Stady, Berrien County Census Hub Coordinator. Nonprofit organizations who serve “hard-to-count populations” are encouraged to attend one of the information sessions to learn more. Hard-to-count populations include: Low-income persons, persons with mental or physical disabilities, persons experiencing homelessness, persons who do not live in traditional housing, physically isolated persons, young children, people of color, highly mobile persons such as college students, non-English speakers, immigrants, and LGBTQ persons. Census mini-grants will be available to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, school or government agencies, and religious organizations that have active programs with hard-to-count populations. These organizations must be serving in Berrien County. Application due date is August 31. Locally an information session is being held on Wednesday, July 10 from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at Coloma Public Library, 151 W. Center Street.

Caring Circle recognized for veterans program Caring Circle, a Lakeland Healthcare affiliate, recently achieved Level 4 Partner status though We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Level 4 distinction is awarded to hospice providers throughout the country who have proven their ability to provide consistent, quality care for the unique needs of veterans receiving hospice services. “At Caring Circle, we are committed to recognizing the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families as they approach the end of life,” said Stephanie Kostizen, We Honor Veterans Program Coordinator. “Through ongoing staff education, ceremonies thanking veterans for their service, collaboration with the local veteran’s affairs facilities, and ongoing evaluation to reduce barriers, Caring Circle has exceeded the requirements of a Level 4 Partner. As we move forward, we will remain committed to keeping veteran-centric care a priority for our organization.” For more information about how you can help meet and advocate for the unique needs of veteran patients and pay tribute to those who have served, call (269) 429-7100.

House approves Rep. Griffin plan to better protect student athletes from abuse State Rep. Beth Griffin’s plan to better protect student athletes in Michigan from child abuse and sexual assault was approved Wednesday, June 19 by the Michigan House with overwhelming support. Griffin, of Mattawan, said the measure is part of a comprehensive bipartisan plan to fix problems brought to light by the House’s inquiry into the handling of the Larry Nassar sexual assault investigation. Griffin’s legislation, House Bill 4376, includes athletic trainers in a list of professionals required to report evidence of child abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. “Trainers work very closely with young athletes, putting them in a position where they’re likely to pick up on signs of abuse or neglect,” said Griffin, who was a competitive gymnast as a child and has also coached youth sports, including gymnastics. “Increasing the number of adults who are proactive in identifying and reporting abuse will better protect Michigan children.” Current law requires a number of licensed professionals – including teachers, doctors, social workers and dentists – to report signs of abuse to the proper authorities. A separate measure approved by the House on June 19, House Bill 4108, would add physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to the list. As a former teacher, Griffin herself was a mandatory reporter. “The experiences relayed by the young girls involved in the Nassar case hit home for all of us, especially those of us with children,” Griffin said. “I’m proud to be a part of a solution that will help protect young athletes in the future.”

The bills now advance to the Senate for consideration.

Frank DeLaTorre honored for EMT service State Rep. Brad Paquette, of Berrien Springs, was joined at the state Capitol recently by Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Specialist Frank DeLaTorre, a native of Coloma. DeLaTorre, of Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service (SMCAS), is a committed mobile healthcare leader whose service in EMS spans three decades, twenty-seven of which were spent working for SMCAS. On top of his EMS credentials, Frank also holds Michigan Firefighter 1 and 2 certifications, along with Fire Officer 1, 2, and 3 certifications. In addition to working full time for SMCAS, Frank has been employed by Van Buren County Emergency Medical Service (VBEMS) for 23 years, North Berrien Fire Rescue for 18 years, and Niles City Fire Department for 6 years. Due to his incredible career of service to the community, SMCAS nominated DeLaTorre to the American Ambulance Association’s Stars of Life program. The Stars of Life program celebrates the contributions of ambulance professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to their communities or the EMS profession. Once nominated, stars and their guests are celebrated in a series of events in our nation’s capital. Prior to these events, DeLaTorre joined Rep. Paquette at the state capital to be honored with a special tribute. “EMTs and other EMS professionals are often the unsung heroes of our healthcare system and Frank is certainly a hero in my eyes,” Rep. Paquette said. “His dedication, service, and commitment to prehospital care are truly deserving of this recognition and it was my privilege to thank him on behalf of our community.” DeLaTorre will now travel to Washington D.C. to be honored at the 2019 Stars of Life Banquet and Awards Ceremony. While there, he will take part in meetings on Capitol Hill aimed at helping lawmakers in Washington understand the needs of the ambulance community and ensuring they will protect the interests of the entire EMS industry.

Cool, clear water As a kid I used to listen to a 45 RPM recording of The Sons of the Pioneers’ song “Cool Water”. It was about a cowboy and his horse, Dan, wandering on a Western hot “barren waste” in search of “cool, clear water”. They yearned for the relief that could only be found in a clean water source. They weren’t so much concerned about global warming as they were about dying of thirst. The song ends without their finding water. By now the land they were wandering on could be a mega-ranch with huge irrigation pipes for thousands of acres of wheat. Who knows. We are blessed with abundant water in our country. The Great Lakes have about 21% of the total fresh surface water in the world, and 84% of the fresh surface water in the USA. We are told that the sixth largest city in India, Chennai, just ran out of water. Not good. With a population of over 4 million, that would be like Los Angeles running out of water! Water is taken for granted – until we run out. Then it gets serious fast. During the Exodus from Egypt the Hebrews ran out of water. Actually, the account in Exodus 17 explains that God led them to the place of no water. They failed the test of faith and instead tested God in the whole matter. He graciously supplied the water they needed from the rock struck by Moses with the “rod of God”. This illustrated the future Messiah Who would be struck for our iniquities and Who would thereby supply living water for eternal life, not just for our immediate thirst, but for forever. John 7:37-39 refers to that living water as the Holy Spirit, Who would become a source of eternal satisfaction to those indwelt by Him. May we drink deeply, finding our deepest thirst satisfied with Him.

Understanding Social Security Benefits Social Security touches the lives of nearly every American, whether at the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, the onset of a disability, or the transition from work to retirement. For more than 80 years, our programs have contributed to the financial security of the elderly and the disabled. Social Security replaces a percentage of a worker’s pre-retirement income based on their lifetime earnings. The amount of your average wages that Social Security retirement benefits replaces varies depending on your earnings and when you choose to start benefits. If you start benefits after full retirement age, these percentages are higher. If you start benefits earlier, these percentages are lower. Most financial advisers say you will need about 70 percent of pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement, including your Social Security benefits, investments, and personal savings. You can learn more about retirement benefits at benefits/retirement. Our resources and publications are easy to share with people you think might need the information. Many people think of Social Security as just a retirement program. And it’s true that most of the people receiving benefits are retired, but others receive benefits because they’re: Individuals with disabilities; a spouse or child of someone who receives benefits; a divorced spouse of someone getting or eligible for Social Security; the spouse or child of a worker who died; a divorced spouse of a worker who died; or the dependent parent of a worker who died. If you can’t work because of a physical or mental condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Our disability rules are different from private or other government agency programs. Qualifying for disability from another agency or program doesn’t mean you will be eligible for disability benefits from us. Having a statement from your doctor saying you’re disabled doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. We’ve made learning about our disability programs very easy at Please share these resources with friends and family who might need them. 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

WEATHER PERMITTING… This weekend is the Watervliet Independence Weekend Celebration. The three-day event is chock full of fun and excitement, with parades, mudd-runs, kids activities and such. Please take a look at the schedule of events and the front-page story in this issue, highlighting new events and those that have had their location changes due to the persistent and heavy rains of late. Most notably is the relocating of the ping-pong ball drop that has been relocated to the old paper mill site across from Hays Park on M-140. While the Watervliet airport has been the ideal spot in many years past, the soggy runways and parking areas make it too wet for the planes and the kids.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA… The next Tri-City Record issue date is July 4 which is a national holiday commemorating our independence from England. Due to the National Holiday which is celebrated by the Post Office by being closed, the Record will go to press early next week, on Tuesday afternoon instead of Wednesday. Most local addresses will get their Record on Wednesday instead of Thursday. Those subscribers that regularly get their paper delivered with Friday’s mail, should get the 4th of July issue on Friday as usual. Please celebrate our nation’s birthday in a safe manner.

DUCK RACE TICKETS… I have a handful of tickets for the Duck Race in Flaherty Park Sunday. I’m not saying my ducks are any faster or smarter than others competing, but I’ve sold many winners over the past 39 some years, including a couple of $1,000 winners. Just saying, look me up!

ANNIVERSARY… Anne and I celebrated our 52nd Wedding Anniversary Monday with a quiet supper after a full day of house cleaning by Anne, and a full day at the office for me. As with most happily married couples, we are happiest in our own home with lots of family visits, especially the grandkids and great-grandkids.


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