07-20-2017 Letters and Commentary

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Donation helps raise money for veterans

Dear Editor,

Thanks for donating the annual subscriptions for door prizes for the Watervliet 4th of July Car Show.

With your help we raised $671 this year for the V.A. hospital that will directly help our veterans.

Les Fairbanks

Vick Kinzler

News coverage helps to make 5K Geno Race a success

Dear Editor,

Thank you for supporting the 2017 Gene Bednarowski Cherry 5K Run/Walk. It was a great day with participation from past and new to the race runners and walkers.

Your coverage of our race has helped to make it the success it is today.

Thank you,

Tim & Carla Lynch

Geno Race Directors

Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign and Russia continues to mount

Dear Editor,

Donald Trump Jr. recently revealed that in June of 2016 he accepted an emailed invitation to meet with a person described to him as a “Russian government attorney” who wanted to share “official documents and information” provided by the “Crown Prosecutor of Russia.” The email invitation stated that: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. accepted this invitation to meet with the “Russian government attorney,” and was joined by two other members of the Trump campaign: Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close advisor; and Paul Manafort, who at that time was the Chairman of the Trump Campaign.

Subsequent reporting revealed that at least two other people attended that meeting: a Russian translator and a Russian-American lobbyist for Russian interests, including the lifting of U.S. sanctions. This individual had formerly served as a Russian counterintelligence officer and is reportedly still in close contact with Russian intelligence.

Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort have both been involved in other very disturbing meetings with Russian officials.

Kushner, after initially denying any contacts with Russians during the campaign, admitted that he met with then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. In that meeting, Kushner reportedly sought to establish a covert backchannel with Moscow, employing Russian communication equipment in an apparent effort to evade U.S. surveillance. Kushner also met with the head of a Russian bank under U.S. sanctions, a discussion that went unreported for months. The banker, Sergei Gorkov, has close ties to Russian intelligence services.

Paul Manafort was Trump’s Campaign Chairman from March to August of 2016. He resigned after an Associated Press (AP) report revealed that he had coordinated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling pro-Russia political party until 2014. The AP also reported that in 2005 Manafort submitted a plan to a Russian oligarch and close Putin ally aimed at influencing “politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government.” In 2006 Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract with that influential Russian oligarch.

These facts and many more, are of very great concern. Our Democracy was attacked by Russia in 2016, and there is a growing mountain of evidence that suggests the Trump campaign was deeply involved in this attack.

Where is the patriotic indignation from Congressional Republicans? Where is the support for removing Jared Kushner’s security clearance? Where is the condemnation of Donald Trump’s ridiculous claims that the investigations into collaboration between Russia and the Trump campaign constitute a “witch hunt?”

It is time for Fred Upton and his fellow Congressional Republicans to put country above party and provide strong support for thorough investigations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian attacks on our Democracy.

Larry Feldman, Lakeside


It was against the rules to play the sanctuary piano after hours. Yet I found myself sitting on the stone steps of Philadelphia College of Bible listening to another late night story of Tim’s life. I was Assistant Dean and it was my responsibility to enforce the rules, but this was not the time for that. I chose instead that evening to just listen again to Tim. He was brilliant. Playing without sheet music, the dissonant chords followed impromptu, tortuous tunes that begged for melody.

A younger student came by, passing on the stairs. “Aren’t you going to stop him?” he demanded. “He’s not supposed to be playing that piano.” I replied, “Sit down and listen.” So we sat. And Tim played; sometimes wildly, as if he were attacking the piano in anger and grief. It went on and on. Then, almost imperceptibly at first, melody began to emerge. First hidden in the dissonant sequences; then becoming dominant as the confusion of chords gave way to beautifully peaceful tones.

Tim had worked through his faith again. And as he finished, quietly closed the piano and left, I turned to the younger student and asked, “Did you hear it?” He nodded and went on his way to the dorm.

Tim didn’t know we were listening and that I refused to interrupt his journey.

We are not expected to immediately find the melody, but if we continue playing, the melody has time to emerge as it did with Tim. We can learn from others’ journeys, and we should listen closely to their struggles and learn how they learned the patience of trust. God keeps His promises. He has promised to see us through our difficult times and help us obtain an eternal perspective, helping us see past the trouble to the heart melody that only God Himself can supply.

Ticket to Work puts people back in the driver’s seat

Social Security encourages people to rejoin the workforce when they are able. Ticket to Work is our free and voluntary program that helps people get vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment support services.

This program is for people ages 18 to 64, who are receiving disability benefits, and need support re-entering the workforce or working for the first time. While many disabled individuals are unable to work and may never be able to return to work, we know that some are eager to try working again. Work incentives make it easier to work and still receive health care and cash benefits from Social Security while providing protections if people have to stop working due to a disability.

Social Security works with employment networks to offer beneficiaries access to meaningful employment. Employment networks are organizations and agencies, including state vocational rehabilitation agencies that provide various employment support services. Some services they may help with include resume writing, interviewing skills, and job leads.

Ticket to Work gives individuals the opportunity to choose from several employment networks. Participants are free to talk with as many employment networks as they want before choosing one. If someone signs an agreement with an employment network, they’ll help the individual develop an employment plan. Social Security reviews their progress toward achieving the goals of their employment plan every 12 months. If they are making timely progress in their return to work plan, they will not have a medical review of their disability during the time they’re in the program.

Many people have successfully completed the Ticket to Work program. Anyone interested in the Ticket to Work program should call the Ticket to Work Helpline toll-free at 1-866-968-7842 (TTY 1-866-833-2967). More information on the program is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

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.

BEAUTIFUL has to be the word to describe this past weekend’s weather in our little corner of paradise. While much of the country was wracked with storms and flooding or burned to a crisp by heat and wild fires, SW Michigan continues to enjoy moderate temperatures ideal for summer fun and cool nights ideal for late night bonfires and great sleeping.

PADDLE THE PAW PAW… Speaking of ideal, paddling the Paw Paw River continues to grow in popularity with canoeists and kayakers. The recent cleanup of the stretch between Watervliet and Coloma and continued efforts upstream and downstream by volunteers and riverfront owners has made the meandering river a great family fun spot.

Sunday morning I spied a large group of paddlers getting ready to head upstream at the Paw Paw River Campground just north of Watervliet. Paddlers and tubers can enjoy a leisurely midday float from the bridge on County Line just north of Red Arrow back to the campground.

Mike Gilliam and his crew at the campground will be glad to rent all you need for a family adventure on the river and will drive the whole gang upstream for as far as you want to go.

There are many folks who have a go on their own and put in at the Paw Paw River Campground and take a couple hours to paddle/float to Hays Park.  Others put in at Hays Park and venture downstream to several take-outs in the Coloma area, including downtown at the Public Works Garage behind WESCO, at the former AEP substation across from Rite Aid and further yet to the wastewater treatment plant on DeField Road. There are several other take-out locations that, I think, need prior planning and permission of the landowner.

I’ve paddled all the stretches at one time or other prior to any of the recent cleanup efforts and always found the trips to be a relaxing adventure with always the unexpected looming just around the next bend.

Always keep in mind the river current never quits, the water is always deeper on the outside of the bends, there are always spots made tricky by low hanging tree limbs and logs that are submerged and unseen on the surface. Always wear your life jacket, be prepared to get wet and muddy, keep all the valuables you must take in sealable plastic bags.

If you dare, take a camera. Quiet paddlers will startle wildlife at anytime. Does and fawns will be spotted at the water’s edge. I’ve seen coyotes in the Watervliet City limits near the river. Just last week I saw one crossing the road at the river’s bridge near Mattson’s. Beavers, muskrat, and the occasional mink can be spied in the water and on the bank. There are big fish in the river, including salmon, pike, bass, and carp. Eagles, hawks, and vultures soar on the thermals overhead; herons can be seen fishing in the backwaters and shallows.

If you’re lucky and get that great picture, share it with me and your friends reading the Record.

It’s not only the fauna that will make your trip memorable… you will note the flora can be stupendous… Wildflowers grow to the water’s edge; there is always something in bloom. You might paddle out of a dark wooded area and drift through a meadowland with tall grass all the way to a bluff.

Oaks, elm, birches, beeches, chestnut, and sycamore plus a wide variety of evergreens populate the woods and wetlands that make up most of the riverbank. There’s a giant oak on the island near Hays Park that a DNR fisheries biologist estimated at more than 300 years old.

Other flora can be troublesome and leave a mark; poison ivy hangs from the branches overhead… you’ll pay dearly if you grab one to make a landing. Stinging plants, fireweed, and nettles instantly pierce your skin and make it burn or blister.

My son-in-law, when touched with fireweed jumped onto the bank and scoured his legs and arms with river mud and then washed it off to put out the burning and itching.

The late Del Sipes carried a bar of medicated soap. When we went back to the canoe from a rest stop, he’d get out the soap. We’d lather up and rinse off between the bank and the canoe.

And when you least expect it, you might discover something. There was an Indian Village just upstream of Watervliet, so I’ve always been on the lookout for ‘artifacts.’ Just a couple years ago, I found a “Dutch Oven” nearly buried in the mud just below the mouth of Mill Creek. In fact, I first thought it was an army helmet. With a little research, I found the heavy kettle was a Dutch oven that was used by the French and English as trade goods. It was dated as pre-1850s by its three short legs. The legs enabled the kettle to sit in the fire coals for baking or heating water.  When wood stoves were developed for cooking, the kettles were made with a flat bottom.

On a paddle with Del, we noticed the outline of a long narrow boat, perhaps a canoe. We noted its location for a later expedition to explore it, but alas, the river level changed and we couldn’t find it. I was to the remembered site a couple more times to no avail.

Go see Mike at Ma and Pa’s. He’ll be glad to help you outfit and plan a trip, with canoes, kayaks, or tubes. Then grab your family and friends and explore the Paw Paw River. Let me know if you find the sunken canoe (or the lid to the Dutch oven).

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