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.”