07-26-2018 Letters and Commentary

Heather Metz Memorial Garden Dear Editor, What started over a year ago as a fun idea of Mrs. Heather Metz, longtime teacher at Watervliet Public Schools, has finally been completed, but as a beautiful love-filled memorial to her. After Mrs. Metz lost her battle with cancer, the staff and students of Watervliet North decided to bring her idea to completion as a way to honor this amazing teacher, who made a difference in so many lives. She spent countless hours decorating North School hallways, the extended learning center, and teacher’s lounge so the students and staff would not spend their days in an institutional environment. Mrs. Metz was an inspiration to so many people. After many months, North School now has the Heather Metz Memorial Garden to add lasting beauty for everyone to enjoy. Students and staff of North School, Watervliet Public Schools, and community members came together to paint a rock in Mrs. Metz’s memory. Many rocks have a story behind them and all were painted with an abundance of care and love. This project is a reality because of a great many people. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this a reality: Jessica Moyes, the person behind the idea, for all her help in the details of such an undertaking; North School staff for help in so many ways; the Watervliet Public School District for all the support throughout the project; the Berrien Community Foundation, Watervliet South School Student Council, and some of Mrs. Metz’s closest friends for financial support; Adent’s Landscaping for donating the rocks and Mrs. Laws’ class for choosing the rocks; Chris Frank for all the artistic expertise and special rocks; Jesse Arend for her artistic contribution; Jason for the masonry assistance; Tom from Bos concrete. Also, thanks to Marge and John Yetzke, Heather’s parents. Melissa Stibal Watervliet/Coloma

Republicans are a national security threat Dear Editor, On July 13, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, issued a strong warning about new cyber attacks on our nation. Focusing on the “growing cyber threat to our nation’s security,” he said that “the warning lights are blinking red.” Coats referred to Russia as “the most aggressive foreign actor” and said that the country is continuing their efforts to undermine our democracy; stating, “It’s their intent to undermine our basic values… and create wedges between us and our allies.” In his shameful press conference in Finland following his meeting with Putin, Trump strongly sided with Putin’s denials over the conclusion of our own intelligence agencies that the Russian government launched cyber attacks against our country in 2016 and is gearing up to attack us again in the midterm elections. So here we sit, watching our president being played like a puppet, calling the Russian interference investigation a “witch hunt,” all the while dismissing sound national security intelligence while palling around with a dictatorial puppet master. Why does our president insist on being friends with a criminal who arrests and kill his political opponents and bans media sources he doesn’t like? What’s in it for the U.S. to be friendly with Russia? It’s not like Russia has any exports we need. It’s far more likely that there’s a simple personal motive. After U.S. banks stopped giving loans to Trump (prior 2016), he went to Russia for money. If only he released his tax-returns, maybe we could understand his outrageously dangerous foreign diplomatic strategies better. The majority of Congressional Republicans are afraid to criticize Trump’s feckless governance and take action against his authoritarian behavior. Their fearful and selfish struggle to remain in power is reckless, dangerous and appalling – where is their patriotism, where is their belief in “country over party”? Sadly, such power hungry politicians, especially our very own Mr. Upton, clearly cater to the elite and are far removed from their own constituents. Wake up people, the lights are blinking red; please join the giant blue wave to come and put them out. Damon Wolf, Benton Harbor

Kim LaSata is a leader to be trusted; Pagel’s endorsement pulled because he lied Dear Editor, When we send our state representatives to “represent” our interests and beliefs in Lansing, we do so expecting to get honesty and transparency back. Those two qualities are what make someone a good leader and a good public official. A good politician, on the other hand, is an expert at spinning things and making excuses. Unfortunately for them, their voting record never lies. Last week the Michigan Council of Carpenters and Millwrights pulled their endorsement of Rep Pagel. Why? He lied. Rep Pagel made a back room deal with the Union to vote to block the repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage law. He took their money, their endorsement and then he lied. Sure sounds like a creature of the swamp to me. No wonder Pagel was a “Never Trumper” in 2016. If he had his way Hillary would have nominated our new Supreme Court Justice Monday night. “To be told lies by our so-called friends is beyond the pale,” said Mike Jackson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights. Pagel was one of four legislators who had their endorsements pulled. “The working men and women of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights and working people in the districts represented by these men deserve to know about the lies told by these four,” Jackson continued, “I believe that trust and respect must be earned and not given. Inman, Pagel, Lucido and Bellino have sold their trustworthiness and respectability to the highest donor.” This matter was widely reported in Lansing but did not receive the attention it deserves in our local papers. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pagel made a deal with a democrat union though. After all, he has the most liberal voting record of any Republican State Rep in the entire state of Michigan according to the conservative economic group, Americans for Prosperity. We need a State Senator who will always be honest. One who won’t make back room deals with unions and then lie. That is why I am voting for Representative Kim LaSata, a leader we can trust! Björn Krebs, St. Joseph

Disability Pride Workshop Disability Network Southwest Michigan is hosting a free Disability Pride workshop. The workshop will explore and celebrate disability as an important part of identity. This workshop is for people with disabilities and presented by people with disabilities. The workshop will be held on August 10 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Disability Network Southwest Michigan located at 2900 Lakeview Avenue in St. Joseph. The workshop is free; however, pre-registration is required by contacting Miranda Grunwell at grunwellm@dnswm.org or (269) 345-1516 x 120. This is a fragrance-free environment. Please do not wear perfume, cologne or other scented products to this event.

New self-talk Most of us are familiar with Piglet of the Winnie-the-Pooh children’s story books. Poor Piglet has such a low opinion of himself that he often cripples himself with his “I’m-so-small” perspective. On the opposite side of the self-talk spectrum is Tigger with his endless enthusiasm for life. “Tiggers are great!” is what he exudes. Most of us fall somewhere in between those two characters. A healthy self-image is important. It can determine whether we are generally happy or not. Self-talk reflects our self-opinion. When it’s verbalized it becomes more internalized and more habituated. Children should always be encouraged to think in terms of possibilities instead of perceived weaknesses or failures. There is an example of a different, and perhaps more healthy approach to self-talk demonstrated in the Bible. It’s a self-talk that focuses on an outward look rather than an inward look. It might be called “selfless-talk”. It can be found in David’s Psalms; for example in Psalm 103 and 146. It goes like this “Praise the LORD oh my soul, and all that is within me praise His holy name”. And, “Praise the LORD; Praise the LORD oh my soul. I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” The “oh my soul” part identifies it as “self-talk”. David is saying, “Hey me! Let’s remember the bigger picture here. It’s not, after all, all about me!” Now David was not perfect, and he had plenty of reason for negative self-talk. He was however king and that might give him reason for positive self-talk. Yet the most encouraging and personally self-uplifting times for David and for us are those times when we forget self completely and refocus on God Himself and on His goodness to us. We define ourselves best by having an outward and upward look as well as an inward look.

Social Security is here for people like you All kinds of people make up this great nation. Seniors, soldiers, individuals with disabilities, and newlyweds — they are the workers, civic leaders, social workers, and artistic creators of countless things and ideas that help us have better lives every day. All of our collective talents and passions create one of the most unique societies in the history of the world. Social Security understands your individual needs. From early career to retirement, we’re here, securing today and tomorrow. Our People Like Me webpages give you information tailored to your specific needs. Here are a few: Early Career – The earlier you start saving, the better off you will be — during your working years and in retirement. Learn how Social Security is here for you when you start working at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/earlycareer. Mid-Career – Did you relocate for a better job? Are you starting a family? Buying your first home? There’s a lot to consider when planning your future and we can help. www.socialsecurity.gov/people/midcareer. Veterans and Wounded Warriors – Providing services to those who served us is how we honor the people who put their lives on the line for our freedom. Learn more about how we help service members at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/veterans. Pre-Retirement – For those of you who are about to retire, we not only congratulate you, we offer many resources for your golden years. See how we can help at www.socialsecurity.gov/people/preretirement. Women – Statistically, women live longer and earn less over their lifetimes. This creates unique challenges for a long and happy retirement. Learn how you can get ahead by knowing the facts at www.socialsecurity.gov/ people/women. Creating resources for people like you helps us provide you with information about programs that can create lasting, positive change in your life. Share these People Like Me pages with friends and family at www.socialsecurity.gov/people. 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.

ELECTION ISSUE… don’t miss next week’s issue of the TCR. The Tri-City Record will highlight the August 7 primary election candidates and ballot issues for the area.

POLLY’S PRAYER… seldom a week passes that someone asks, “How’s Polly doing?” Polly is our granddaughter born in the Ukraine with Down syndrome. Despite a precarious birth and medical issues she is a happy 12-year-old enjoying the third grade in St. Louis, Missouri, surrounded with a loving family and many friends. When she was an infant she survived a couple strokes caused by undeveloped arteries in her brain. A pediatric surgeon in Chicago solved the condition called Moyamoya by connecting arteries under her scalp to her brain. Sadly a recent brain scan disclosed the Moyamoya condition has returned on one side of her brain necessitating more surgery. If that’s not enough, the checkup also showed some arteries in her neck area are being pinched off from blood flow when she bends her head downward, so some surgery in that area is warranted. Family and friends are alarmed that our precious Polly is in any sort of distress and we’ve all been pestering Gillian and Sergei for more information on her health and demeanor. The following is Gill’s recent reply that raises our hopes that Polly is taking the news in stride and in typical Polly fashion, assuring us that everything is all right and that she is in God’s hands. “I haven’t figured out what to share because there are a lot of unknowns still, but Polly needs prayer. Her angiogram results showed two major health issues; one connected to her Atlo Axil Instability and possible need for surgery (basically unstable vertebrae compressing arteries in her spine, might need spinal fusion), and the progression of her Moyamoya that is now restricting blood flow in a part of her brain (honestly, more concerning of the two). Please join us in prayer for P. We’re waiting to see what we are up against. Should know something by the end of next week. These are two completely unrelated issues. Attempting to trust God, knowing full well that he loves Polly more than we do, and that he is a good, good Father with a perfect plan for her life. She caught me crying in my bedroom the other day. ‘Don’t worry, Mom. God will protect me,’ she said. The faith of a child. What a lesson.” Amen. God bless them all.

BETTER THAN FAIR… Anne and I visited the Van Buren County Youth Fair last week. With absolutely gorgeous weather, the fairground was a busy place with happy families all over. We were tagging along with the Loshboughs and excited to watch great-grandson William’s first fair ride. He seemed more interested in the kids around him than the tiny tractor he was on but did raise a howl when Willy took him off. All in all, it was a great time; the fair is a great experience for all. Keep an eye out for news of the Berrien County Youth Fair coming up soon.

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