07-18-19 Letters and Commentary

Church youth group help at Randall Park much appreciated

Dear Editor,

The Coloma DDA wants to say a big THANK YOU to The River church youth group that came on Sunday, July 14 to Randall Park and applied sealer to the wooden structures. This ongoing project has from the beginning, been a community effort and this is another example of a group stepping out to volunteer their time and energy with nothing expected in return.

We appreciate the hard work on a hot day and please know your efforts were truly appreciated. Thank you again for doing something that benefits children, residents and visitors alike, we love your community spirit!

Marsha Hammond

Coloma Downtown Development Authority

4th of July car show raises $1,525.50 to benefit veterans

Dear Editor,

Thank you for donating a subscription to the Tri-City Record as a door prize at the 4th of July car show in Watervliet.

You helped us raise $1,525.50 this year that is donated to the Battle Creek VA Hospital that will be used for various programs that benefit our veterans.

Les Fairbanks

Vacation in Tennessee

Dear Editor,

It’s summertime! The kids are out of school. Mom and Dad have got their vacation week set. Friends and family loathe the idea of spending the whole summer at home doing nothing but work around the house. It’s totally uncool, especially in the hot days of summer.

Here’s a helpful and exhilarating suggestion. If you are looking for a place to go for a few days with your family and friends, pack your bags and head to Tennessee. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. When you get there, you’ll want to get a good view of the Smoky Mountains, especially if you come in to Tennessee from the north on 1-75. The mountain peaks are so high it looks like they are touching the clouds making the mountains look like they are spewing out smoke.

Go through some of the cities and towns and you’ll find that Tennessee is not a dull place. In Sevierville, there is never a dull block. There are stores to shop in and amusement rides as well as places for people to play miniature golf on every corner. You can go whitewater rafting at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Gatlinburg, TN considered to be “one of the best outfitters on earth,” according to National Geographic Adventure.

In Pigeon Forge, TN there is Dollywood where there are 139 different places to go to. Among the many attractions in Dollywood are the Dolly Parton Celebrity Theatre, Doggywood, Dolly Parton’s Tennessee Mountain Home, and the Smoky Mountain River Rampage.

As far as shopping is concerned, there are plenty of things to buy at the Dollywood Emporium, Gazebo Gifts, the Southern Pantry, Hillside General Store, and the Lucky 7 Mine. One can also find interesting things at Ashley’s Antique Tintype and Photo, Costner and Sons Magic Shop, Rivertown Garden and Gifts, and Dolly’s Closet.

For dining pleasures, try Showstreet Ice Cream, Spotlight Bakery, Lumber Jack’s Pizza, and Aunt Granny’s Restaurant as well as the Grandstand Cafe, Granny Ogle’s Ham and Beans, the Hickory House, Sit and Sip, and the Midway Market. “There’s always something to do and places to shop in Pigeon Forge,” said Debra Kroening, sister of this traveler who went with her and her husband Herb on a four day vacation trip to Tennessee from June 17 to June 21.

If you are looking for a place to stay for a few days, you can stay at the Hidden Valley Resort not far from Dollywood. Each log cabin is lavishly made with an upstairs living room accommodated with all the comforts of home. There is even a downstairs complete with a pool table. Every cabin has plenty of room for family and friends to enjoy each other’s company while sampling some Tennessee moonshine from some of the stores nearby.

If you’ve been to Tennessee once before, you’ll want to go again. There’s always something new going on, because it’s always changing, especially in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge.

Richard A. Weschgel, Watervliet

Deadline fast approaching for low-income Michigan students to apply for college tuition assistance

Time is running out for eligible individuals from the class of 2019 who have graduated with a high school diploma or equivalent to claim their Tuition Incentive Program benefits, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

The grant program – commonly referred to as TIP – encourages eligible Medicaid recipients to complete high school by providing college tuition assistance. Eligible TIP students have four years from high school graduation to begin using their TIP benefits.

The application deadline is Aug. 31 for eligible seniors to apply for TIP. To qualify, students must have been on Michigan Medicaid for 24 months within a 36-consecutive month period between 9 years old and high school graduation.

“Even if eligible high school graduates don’t plan to attend college this fall, we urge them to complete their application as soon as possible,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said.  “Once eligibility is confirmed, students have four years to begin using TIP. The window to claim this benefit is rapidly closing. Please do not wait and submit your application today.”

Students may complete the TIP application online at www.michigan.gov/tipsenior or by calling 888-447-2687.

TIP Phase I covers 24 credit hours of tuition per academic year for a total of 80 overall credits at participating Michigan community colleges. TIP covers the in-district tuition rate for students enrolled in a certificate or associate degree program at four-year public colleges and universities and students attending four-year degree-granting non-profits are eligible for $113 per credit hour in 2019-20.  In addition to tuition assistance, TIP also covers up to $250 per semester or term in mandatory fees.

TIP Phase II can also assist students who go on to a four-year college or university. After they earn at least a one-year certificate, associate degree or 56 transferrable credits, students are eligible to receive up to $500 per semester or $400 per term at participating four-year Michigan colleges and universities.

TIP is just one service offered by the state Treasury Department’s Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning, which encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing equality of access to student financial resources and information.

To learn more about TIP or to complete the TIP application, go to www.michigan.gov/tipsenior or contact MI Student Aid at mistudentaid@michigan.gov or 1-888-447-2687.

Midwife profession to require licensure on August 1, 2019

In conjunction with the promulgation of administrative rules for the midwife profession, a license to practice midwifery in the state of Michigan will be required beginning on August 1, 2019. The Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) began accepting applications for midwife licensure on May 6, 2019.

The practice of midwifery – defined as providing maternity care that is consistent with a midwife’s training, education, and experience, to women and neonates during the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum periods – was required to be licensed under Public Act 417, which established Part 171 in the Public Health Code. The Department in partnership with the Board of Midwifery has been actively communicating with the midwifery associations to keep them apprised of the rule promulgation process.

After the administrative rules take effect on August 1, 2019, an individual may not engage in the practice of midwifery unless licensed under Part 171 or otherwise authorized by article 15 of the Public Health Code. Those who are not licensed on the date when the rules take effect may be in violation of the public health code. There are statutory exemptions from licensure, which can be found in MCL 333.17105(3).

LARA’s Midwifery website contains information on obtaining a midwife license, and a link to apply online, as well as instructional videos on how to register for an account through the Michigan Professional Licensing User System (MiPLUS). Individuals looking to hire a midwife will be able to verify the license status of the professional through LARA’s website to ensure the midwife meets the training and educational requirements for the profession established by the Michigan Board of Midwifery.

Keep fire safety in mind this summer

July 4th is the midpoint of summer fun in Michigan but not exclusive to people planning campfires, cookouts, fireworks and all kinds of other outdoor activities. While many parts of the state have gotten enough rain to reduce the risk of wildfires, it’s important to put safety first when enjoying the outdoors.

Check out the DNR’s new fire safety page, available at Michigan.gov/DNREducation in the Safety Information section, for tips on:

Campfire safety – Always thoroughly douse your fire with water before leaving it for the night.

Debris burning – You need to get a permit at Michigan.gov/BurnPermit or from your local municipality before you burn debris. Call 866-922-2876 for a permit in northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Keep your fire at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or other debris and make sure no branches are hanging overhead.

Firewise landscaping – This type of landscaping protects your home or cabin by minimizing the number of shrubs, leaves and trees that are close to the house. You can also learn more about it from the National Fire Protection Association.

Fireworks – There are new laws and restrictions for fireworks and when they can be used. “Nationally, fireworks cause 18,500 fires per year and have injured/or caused the death of 40 people on average,” said Lt. Jason Wicklund, DNR conservation officer. “If you are using fireworks to celebrate, remember that you are responsible for where that firework ends up and the damage it may cause. Also, please take into consideration pets, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders and local ordinances that have a time frame on noises (including fireworks).”

So far in 2019, the DNR has fought more than 168 wildfires on over 818 acres around the state.

Hospice at Home benefit, Wine and Beer Tasting Saturday, August 3

Community members are invited to attend and support the annual Hospice at Home Benefit, Wine and Beer Tasting for Caring Circle. The event will take place on Saturday, August 3, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the property of Dan and Mary Nulty’s South Beach Bluff, located at 456 Monroe Boulevard in South Haven. This will be the ninth year hosting the event for the Nulty family. All proceeds from this benefit will support charitable hospice care for patients in the greater South Haven area.

This year’s event will once again feature the “human iPod,” musician John Rush, wine and beer tastings from 16 local wineries and breweries, and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Guests who fund a day of care will have the opportunity to add their name to a watercolor mural created by illustrator Sabine Krummel.

“We are grateful to all our volunteers and community members for being part of such a meaningful cause,” said Dan Nulty. “It’s incredible to have raised 443 days of charitable hospice care for the greater South Haven area last year. This year, together with community stakeholders, friends, and neighbors, we hope to achieve 500 charitable days of hospice care.”

Tickets are $75 in advance or $85 the day of the benefit. A VIP experience for $100 per ticket includes a champagne social prior to the benefit and an exclusive after party. Tickets can be purchased at Caring Circle offices, ACE Wolverine Hardware, South Haven Visitors Bureau, or online at www.caring-circle.org. For more information, call (269) 637-3825.

New Emergency Department parking lot slated for completion in August

A new parking lot, located near the Emergency Department (ED) at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, is slated for completion in August 2019. The lot is part of the Pavilion renovation plans and will add 32 additional parking spaces for patients and visitors.

Currently, parking near the ED is limited and patients and families are encouraged to drive their vehicle to the circle drive at the main ED entrance, check-in at the registration desk, and then have a family member or Lakeland Security team member move the vehicle to the current ED parking lot or the main hospital parking garage.

“Timely and accessible patient care is always our number one priority and we appreciate our community’s patience and understanding as we work hard to enhance way finding and patient experience throughout the coming months,” said Rich Matthews, Director of Safety and Security, Spectrum Health Lakeland.

In an emergency, dialing 9-1-1 is always the fastest and most effective way to receive care. First responders and ambulance personal can notify ED staff on their way to the hospital and begin treatment prior to arrival.

For continued updates on the Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion project, including closures and parking updates, visit www.spectrumhealthlakeland.org/pavilion.

State income tax refunds issued for 2018 Tax Year; average taxpayer refund was $571

More than 3.3 million state income tax refunds were processed for the 2018 tax year that provided taxpayers with over $1.9 billion, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

As of mid-June, the average taxpayer refund was $571, up from last year’s $552 average. To date, more than 4.8 million returns have been processed by the state Treasury Department, with 91% reviewed and finalized within two weeks of receipt. The remaining 9% required additional review and were processed within two to six weeks.

“Refunds are important to Michigan taxpayers,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “Our team worked diligently during peak filing times to ensure refunds were issued promptly and calls for assistance were answered. I am proud of our team and look forward to continuing to identify ways to serve taxpayers better for next year.”

A decrease in filed tax returns over the past five years is due to the state Treasury Department processing returns in the year they are received. Few tax returns are being carried over into the following year.

Taxpayer calls to the Individual Income Tax Information Line were answered within 2 minutes 15 seconds, down from 5 minutes 6 seconds in 2015.

The state Treasury Department estimates more than 500,000 taxpayers (10%) have still not filed state income tax returns for the 2018 tax year. Taxpayers have four years to file a return and claim an outstanding refund.

Those who have not filed and owe taxes should file immediately to avoid further penalties and interest. The state Treasury Department can work with individuals to design a payment plan if needed.

To learn more about Michigan’s Individual Income Tax, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax or follow the state Treasury Department on Twitter at @MITreasury.

Happy dancing

Her parents were shopping for a new refrigerator. With her headphones on and obviously listening to some sort of happy music, the young girl was not in the shopping mood. She was in the dancing mood. And dance she did. A child’s happy dance. Children often accompany parents shopping. Groceries, appliances, clothing, whatever. And the kids are not usually engaged as far as their parents’ interests go. Often this annoys the parents and you can hear a sharp “Stop that!” or some unbelievable threat like, “If you don’t stop that I’ll leave you here!” The threats usually have short-term success at best. I’ve gotten so I enjoy the kids. Kids are fun. And to observe them in their simplicity and enjoyment of life, whether it be a boy weaving a path around displays like he’s a race plane in competition, or a child playfully peaking around a corner to surprise their sister, or a girl dancing in the isle, they exhibit an exuberance that we adults, if we are honest, wish we still had. Granted, kids don’t realize the dangers of running in a store, and that needs to be controlled responsibly. But we sometimes miss the opportunity of entering into their happiness and joy for life. God sees us at all of our ages and maturity levels. Since birth He has known all about our thoughts and reasonings (see Psalm 139). And when speaking of children, Jesus said, “Allow the little ones to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” God evidently likes kids too. And heaven must be a happy place with so many children there. The parents were window shopping, checking things out. They did not tell their daughter to stop dancing. I answered some questions about a couple of products and then, with their smiling daughter dancing close behind them, they proceeded to the Wallcoverings Department.

Social Security’s definition of disability

This month marks the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. Disability affects millions of Americans. It can inhibit peoples’ quality of life and their ability to earn a living. Social Security is here to help you and your family, but there are strict criteria for meeting the definition of disability. The definition of disability under Social Security is also different than it is for other programs. We do not pay benefits for partial or short-term disability. Social Security has a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, and investments. Social Security is also required by law to review the current medical condition of people receiving disability benefits to make sure they continue to have a qualifying disability. Generally, if someone’s health hasn’t improved, or if their disability still keeps them from working, they will continue to receive benefits. Social Security is a support system for people who cannot work because of a disability. You can learn more about Social Security’s disability program at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability and also by accessing our starter kits and checklists at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/disability/. 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.

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN! There was a note taped to our newspaper vending machine outside the Family Dollar store in Coloma last week “get your machine off our property or we will put it in our dumpster”. Last week someone from the new Dollar Tree in Watervliet asked that we remove our news vending from their property. In both cases I removed the newspaper machine immediately. Our loyal readers will find us down the street and perhaps they will just drive on by the Dollar Tree and Family Dollar to get other essentials. Doing things the right way (Dollar Tree) and doing things the wrong way (Coloma Family Dollar) should be easy to figure out. The stores are owned by the same corporation, which obviously doesn’t give a hoot about Coloma or Watervliet or someone in upper management could have made contact with the local newspaper. But we have already seen the corporate view of small-town America… let’s run all the local businesses out of town with our big stores and low prices, and when the local stores are all closed, we can raise our box store prices. Here’s what I wrote two years ago this month… Just watched a news story on TV about supermarkets struggling with competition from online providers. I wonder where all the smart shoppers will get their community services such as police and fire protection and hospitals and schools when there is no longer a local commercial tax base to support those services. We have seen what the shopping malls and giant box stores did to Main Street, America shopping. Now the corporate mall stores are going under because the suppliers have jumped over the retail stores and sell directly to the consumer. And in many cases, besides not paying rent, those direct sale internet transactions pay no sales tax as well. Speaking of local sales, I’m welcoming B&B Grocery Discount Outlet as a newspaper vendor of the Tri-City Record. Beth and Ben had their store on Main Street, Watervliet for several years. They simply ran out of store space and had to find a larger building with plentiful parking space. The former Rookie’s Bar and Grill on Red Arrow fit the bill. The additional plus of still remaining near downtown Watervliet closed the deal. B&B joins a long list of local businesses providing floor and sidewalk space to sell the Tri-City Record. Here are our other newspaper sale locations… In the Watervliet area, Jot Liquor Store, Wesco, Dollar General, Sidetrack Café, Marathon, Chicken Coop, Shell Convenience Store, Subway, Mill Creek Charlies, Q-Mart, Moo’s Place, Tri-City Record office, and Lakeland Hospital. In the Hartford area, Citgo, Rite Aid, City Hall, Marathon, Earl’s (gas), Harding’s, and the Panel Room. In the Coloma area, Dollar General, Hot Spot, Roy’s BP Food Mart, Cutting Corners, Wesco, Rite Aid, Wash n Dry Laundromat, Harding’s (indoor & outdoor), and the Handy Spot. & Mike’s Pit Stop. Plus, there’s Sister Lakes Marathon, Spinks Corners Countryside, Riverside PO, and the Millburg Trading Post. I count 34 locations, many thanks to all these businesses for providing a location to sell the Tri-City Record.