07-13-2017 Letters and Commentary


Great Lakes Drone Company proud to give back to the community during the Watervliet Independence Day Weekend Celebration

Dear Editor,

Great Lakes Drone Company (GLDC) and staff wanted to thank the community of Watervliet for allowing us to participate with this year’s 2017 Independence Day Celebration.  GLDC was proud to be able to give back to the community by donating their time and services to this year’s Independence Day celebration.  As a local community business we wanted to show the positives of drones as we showcased our newest technology in entertainment by offering The Drone Light Show services and by doing aerial coverage of some of the weekend events such as the parade and Mudd Run.

We are excited to share that The Drone Light Show held on Saturday night is technology that can only be used at this level by two companies in the United States, Intel and Great Lakes Drone Company.  Since this is fairly new technology we were aware that there would be some “bugs” along the way.

Thanks to the crowd for working through our three drones that had developed slight flight control issues, in which we terminated their flight profiles as soon as we noticed them.   We would like to emphasize safety is always paramount during our productions in which none of our staff, or public are ever at risk.

Highlighting the community of Watervliet, as far as we know, by being the first ever documented public drone light show in conjunction with a community fireworks display in the country was exciting.  The show ending with the U.S. Flag being flown in coordination with fireworks and tune of “Proud to be an American” in the background was awesome to hear the crowd’s pride and cheers of excitement.

We are glad the community was there to show its support and we look forward to working with community organizations in the future!  A recap video was posted with local photos and aerial video of the events to help stimulate future growth of our local hometown festivities on our Facebook page.

Thank you

Matt Quinn

Great Lakes Drone Company

Charlie Gard case is not that unique

Dear Editor,

The ongoing Charlie Gard case in Britain has garnered great attention and even drawn President Donald Trump and Pope Francis into the fray. Charlie’s parents are currently in court fighting to take their son to America for a last-ditch experimental treatment.

Despite this attention the issue at the center of Charlie’s case-futile care theory-has not been sufficiently explored.

There are legitimate end-of-life situations when medical care is truly futile and could actually harm a patient. Futile care theory goes beyond medical judgments, however. It subverts the definition of “futile” by using “quality of life” as the important standard. It doesn’t just mean a patient’s personal desires, but allows others to determine a patient’s quality of life for them. A medical treatment can be wanted and working yet deemed “futile” if doctors or insurance companies decide the patient isn’t worth their effort.

Let’s explore futile care theory in action through the example of one of our own staff members.

Genevieve Marnon works in our Lansing office on legislative issues. Genevieve’s father, Bob Tank, suffered from a terminal chronic condition. Bob wasn’t ready to die and was enjoying the twilight of his life with his family.

One day severe pains brought him to the hospital with a dangerous blood clot. Genevieve said once the hospital staff learned of his chronic condition their zeal to treat him disappeared. Bob was conscious and expressing a will to live while in the hospital, but that didn’t prevent a secret do-not-resuscitate order being placed in his file and other serious problems.

The only thing Bob wanted was treatment for his acute condition so he could go home and prepare for his death at some point in the future. The hospital decided for him that his life was “futile” and not worth it.

Genevieve and her family fought for simple care for her father, but they lost. The hospital threatened to take them to court, forcing them to surrender to the hospital’s wishes so they could at least be present when Bob passed.

Bob’s story is not that unique to Michigan. We’ve heard many similar stories.

People have a right to refuse unwanted treatments, but futile care theory has created the idea of unwanted people who can be refused wanted medical care. The follow-up to futile care theory is doctor-prescribed suicide, which offers a cheaper and more immediate solution to patients whose lives are deemed futile.

Chris Gast

Director of Communication/Education

Right to Life

More citizen support is needed for our Veterans!

Dear Editor,

The Senate Republican “Health Care Plan,” like the House Republican plan, would be very damaging to many groups, including Veterans.

There are 1.8 million Veterans that rely on Medicaid for their health insurance. A recent Fact Sheet (‘Cutting Medicaid Would Hurt Veterans’, Families USA, May 2017) demonstrates that under the Senate Plan an estimated 340,000 Vets would lose their Medicaid healthcare, including 8,500 Veterans in Michigan.

The “Thank-yous” that everyone expresses to our Service Personnel and our Veterans are greatly appreciated.  But do we really understand what’s happening to our Active Duty Military as the wars wind down and the Veterans move to the sidelines?

Between 2001 and 2010, during times of heavy conflict, Congress worked to keep our all-volunteer military force in uniform by offering improved benefits such as reenlistment bonus programs, improved retirement programs, and expanded GI Bill Benefits. Starting in 2010, however, Congress began cutting tens of thousands of individuals from the military and making harmful changes to retirement benefits and GI Bill benefits. Congress also started forgetting how to help Veterans who now find themselves out of a job with no healthcare.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) provided an expansion of Medicaid for 340,000 Veterans.  However, per the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the new Senate Health Care Bill would drop an estimated 23 million Americans from health care coverage.  The specific cuts to Medicaid would affect seniors in nursing homes, low income working adults, 75% of all children below the poverty line, and yes it will affect Veterans.

Next time you say to a Veteran: “Thank you for your service,” please also think about whether we as a society have lost our connection to Veterans.  Do we really know what happens to them once the war is over and they come home searching for a job and are in need of medical care?  Do we really want to cut $780 billion from Medicaid to give tax cuts to the wealthy?

I’m a Veteran and would very much appreciate your efforts to help ensure Veterans keep their health care coverage.

Please contact our Senators and urge them to vote “No” on the Senate Health Care Bill.

Kenneth R. Peterson

MAJ USA (Ret.)

Veteran farmers’ service continues through agriculture

Dear Editor,

When I think of farmers, veteran farmers in particular, I think of hard working and innovative men and women. I see their work in rows of fields covering the rural landscape, in rolling green pastures dotted with livestock, and on shelves in grocery stores.

Farming is a livelihood, not an occupation. Family and community are at the center of its culture. These qualities help make farming an especially meaningful pursuit for many of our nation’s veterans. The Center for Rural Affairs provides resources and education to help veteran farmers succeed.

The Center recently hosted a beginning veteran farmer conference, an experience where, as a member of the Air Force, I could connect with those whom I consider my brothers and sisters. We were in a setting that felt central to my being – both as a veteran and as a sixth generation Iowa farmer.

The day began with a great example of what it means to serve your country. Matt and Emely Hendl told us about their transition from a U.S. Navy career to living their dream as beginning farmers in Nebraska.

Their story is one of hard work, goal setting, partnership, mentorship, dedication, and innovation. It is an example of what it means to be a contributing member of society, which directly correlates to the skills, values, and ethics that Matt demonstrated in his military career.

Veteran farmers like Matt are keeping rural America vibrant, providing a safe place to raise our children, and securing the American dream. Their service isn’t over – it continues on through their work in agriculture.

If you are a veteran farmer and would like more information, please contact me at 402.687.2100 x 1012 or coraf@cfra.org. For online resources, visit www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project (http://www.cfra.org/node/3739).

Cora Fox

Center for Rural Affairs

Ark Encounter

Dear Editor,

What an exciting trip it was! Me, my sister Debra, and her husband Herb, embarked on a once in a lifetime adventure. Our destination was to see a replica of Noah’s ark displayed in Williamstown, Kentucky, a little over 40 miles south of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a four-day trip that started on Thursday, June 15, 2017 and ended Sunday, June 18, 2017.

When my sister told me about this trip over a year ago, I wanted to go no matter what. However, I almost chickened out. A fear came over me about other people taking me somewhere. But, it sunk into my head that whatever problems I had were indeed in my head. I had nothing to worry about whatsoever.

On the first day of our trip, all of us talked about various subjects. When we got to the subject about the ark, Debra, Herb, and myself had three questions: Where did Noah and his family live when the ark was built? Where did he go to get the gopher wood? What were the living quarters like for Noah and his family?

The three of us checked into our rooms at the Wildwood Inn in Florence, Kentucky, just 25 miles from the ark exhibit in Williamstown. Each of us picked up a brochure that said, “Ark Encounter, Bigger than Imagination.” It stated that this replica of Noah’s Ark was 510 ft. long, 85 ft. high and 45 ft. wide. In examining the brochure, two more questions that I had not considered popped into my mind: How did Noah fit all the animals on board? How did Noah feed and care for the animals?

On the second day of our trip, the three of us went to the ark exhibit. We parked our car in the parking lot and rode a shuttle bus to this enormous replica of Noah’s Ark. Once we got inside this replica, we were as much awestruck with the exhibits shown inside the ark as we were with the ark itself. The ground floor had places where people could shop for gifts and souvenirs as well as eat. Many pictures were taken by the three of us. The whole exhibit took the whole day and half the afternoon to go through.

The replica itself was made into three decks. On the first deck, we saw various types of animal exhibits. At the same time, we learned which types of creatures entered into the ark and how many of them went aboard.

On the second deck, Debra, Herb, and I learned what technology was used to build and maintain the ark. Furthermore, we learned how Noah and his family took care of the many animals on the ark during the flood.

The third deck consisted of the living quarters Noah and his family endured during their stay on the ark. We even witnessed the devastating impact the flood had on the world. We also learned the authentic trustworthiness of the Bible to go along with its history and how it was brought forth around the world to the whosoever.

On the third day of our trip, Debra, Herb, and I treated ourselves to an extraordinary excursion to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, only eleven miles from Williamstown. The museum, which is open seven days a week, was packed with many people. We saw many exhibits dealing with the Creation Story to the Fall of Adam.

Like many others, the three of us walked through the botanical garden at the museum where there were various types of plant life. There were five bridges that a person could cross over to explore and enjoy the unforgettable beauty of God’s creation surrounding them. While some enjoyed soaring down thousands of feet in the air on zip lines, others adored viewing wallabies, coatis, a zorse (a combination of zebra and horse), and a zonkey (a combination of zebra and donkey).

There are many things that people can learn going to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, and at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. To do both in just one day is impossible to accomplish. It was for me and my family. It will take at least four days. But once you get to both of these places, you’ll get to discover what you thought you already knew, but really don’t.

When you leave both places, you’ll be glad that you went to the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. You just might end up saying to yourself what me and my family said to ourselves, “I didn’t know that! I’m glad I went!”

Richard John Ackermann

Social Security delivers the most popular baby names in Michigan for 2016

Social Security has announced the most popular baby names in Michigan for 2016. Noah and Ava topped the list.

The top five boys and girls names for 2016 in Michigan were: boys – 1. Noah 2. Mason 3. Benjamin 4. Liam 5. Carter. For girls – 1. Ava 2. Olivia 3. Emma 4. Charlotte 5. Sophia.

How does Michigan compare to the rest of the country?  Check out Social Security’s website www.socialsecurity.gov to see the top national baby names for 2016.

Acting Commissioner Berryhill encourages everyone to visit the agency’s website, enjoy the baby names list, and create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.  my Social Security is a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing through to the time they receive Social Security benefits.

The agency began compiling the baby name list in 1997, with names dating back to 1880.  At the time of a child’s birth, parents supply the name to the agency when applying for a child’s Social Security card, thus making Social Security America’s source for the most popular baby names.

In addition to each state’s top baby names (and names for U.S. territories), Social Security’s website has a list of the 1,000 most popular boys and girls names for 2016.

To read about the winners for the biggest jump in popularity and to see how pop culture affects baby names, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/news/press/releases/.

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.

Don’t be fooled

There is a huge difference between the reality of faith and the validity of faith. A faith can be real, but it can be invalid. Faith in an unfaithful person is like that. Such faith will likely ultimately be disappointed. Why do we understand this in human relationships, but ignore it when examining our spiritual relationships? “Spirituality” can be misplaced. Just because we “choose to believe” something does not make it true.

If I chose to sincerely believe that I am the King of Ireland that would be real faith. But it would not be valid faith, because being King of Ireland takes being crowned King of Ireland, not just faith.

If someone chooses to believe that there is no eternal punishment in a place called Hell, that may be real faith, but it is not valid faith because it goes against Jesus Christ’s teaching. Being angry about that statement because it denies real faith won’t make the truth of that statement go away.

Someone can choose to believe that there are many ways to God. That too may be real faith, but it is not valid faith because it goes against Jesus Christ’s teaching. And being angry about that statement because it denies real faith won’t make the truth of that statement go away either.

Whenever we choose real faith that denies what Jesus Christ taught we are no longer dealing with valid faith. There is a place of eternal punishment; there is no other way to a healed relationship with God but through God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Real faith may be strongly held, but only valid faith deals with reality. Don’t fall into the trap of Jesus Christ plus anything else. Valid faith is built upon Jesus Christ and nothing else! He alone saves; He alone is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

CORN CAPER CEASED…  The strewing of corn kernels on the lobby floor overnight at the Watervliet Post Office has ceased. For the past three months or so, almost daily, dried corn had been tossed onto the floor. Postal officials put up signage that warn vandalism of a postal facility could be a federal offense and that a person could slip on the corn and be injured.  Workers there were also fed up with having to sweep up the lobby area each morning.

Tammy, the clerk there, told me the “vandalism” had ceased a few days after I wrote about it in a recent Karl’s Kolumn.

75 MPH & NOT SPEEDING? I had the occasion to travel on one of the 75 mph freeway stretches this past Sunday. It’s on I-69 just west of Flint.

I just glimpsed the speed limit sign 75 for cars, 65 for trucks. I really didn’t think much of it; I had the cruise control set on 75. When everyone began passing me, I pushed my Jimmie up to 80. Folks were still passing, so I squeezed out another 5 mph and was running with the pack.

This is great, I thought. I was in a pack of about 8-10 cars, we were all in the left lane, passing a string of 18-wheelers doing a sedate 65 mph.

Up ahead a little compact, probably maxed out at 85, swung into the truck lane in a feeble attempt to break free of the high-speed lane.

At that split second we arrived at a slight curve over a small bridge. The small car overshot the truck lane, caught some stones on the shoulder and fishtailed, nearly banding into the bridge abutment.

The driver got his skidding car under control and avoided being run over by the 18-wheeler looming in his rear view mirror. In an instant the dust settled and the little car was safely ensconced in the “cradle” between the big trucks. In less than a mile or so the speed limit dropped back to 70 and the line of speeding cars idled back to a sedate 75 mph.

I can’t speak for the other drivers, but I was relieved to ease back on the gas pedal; so I bet was the driver of the little car by now way back in my mirror.

UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED is most of Michigan’s roads. Local, state, and freeways are in shocking disrepair. There are more dips and sways on the highway than could be seen at any burlesque stage.

When the roads are “fixed,” it’s a cheap repair that bridges the gaps between other bad stretches. Low bid concrete and thin patches of asphalt are the norm. Contractors pray for arctic winters so they can blame the spring potholes on the weather. Nowadays potholes are a year round problem.

The seal-coat on local roads is a shell game between the asphalt companies and the auto parts stores. The asphalt company spreads tar on the road and then dumps stones on top.  After a couple passes with a roller, the road is opened to traffic. It’s the vehicles that grind and smash the stone into the cracks of the broken roadway. In the process the windshields and headlights are shattered and hoods and grills that are pitted and gouged.

Stones that miss their destiny are blown onto the shoulder to await the snowplow that finishes the job by shoving them back to the earth from whence they came.

Those that reach nirvana are those that crack and break windshields and headlights and stimulate a boon to the parts stores for replacements.

I’m astounded the bigwigs in Lansing agreed to any speed limit increases. That bit of 75 mph I-69 near Flint is not very smooth; its only saving grace is it is not as bad as the rest of it through the city.

What is really scary is a 55 mph rural road that sports a sign “Rough Road Ahead.” One would think a road that bad needs to be detoured until a 25 mph sign can be painted.

I was on one such road last week; it is so bad folks use the imaginary line down the middle as a guide. I was bouncing from dip to dip at a manageable 40 mph when the driver behind me blew his horn and passed me by… straddling the centerline! I really did expect to see him in the ditch around the next curve or as a hood ornament on an oncoming manure spreader.