08-01-2018 Letters and Commentary

Students benefit from the support of the Gene Bednarowski 5K Cherry Run-Walk

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your generous support of our event and the scholarship that it funds. Many deserving students have benefited from it, and, thanks to the efforts of those like you, many will continue to.

Aaron Weber, Chairman

God bless you for your kindness

Dear Editor,

Thank you for supporting Real Heroes USA and Real Heroes Initiative Project. Your generous contribution will serve America’s veterans and their families, with dignity and honor.

Your articles sure do help us to make people aware of what we do.

Lori Olejniczak

Roddy Glenn, Chairman

Heather Metz Memorial Garden

Dear Editor,

I would like to publically thank North Elementary School staff members, Melissa Valenti-Stibal, principal Joe Allen, artist Christopher Frank and all the wonderful students, teachers, family and friends who helped create the beautiful painted rock pathway in memory of our daughter, Heather Yetzke Metz.

Our amazing daughter left her earthly home on December 17, 2017 after three and a half years battling ovarian cancer. She taught fifth grade at North since 1998.  She loved her students and teaching in general. She attended Watervliet schools from kindergarten until her 1992 graduation.  She was influenced by many of her teachers to become a teacher just like them, to make a difference in her student’s lives.

After seeing the outpouring of love through this beautiful rock display I feel that she did make a mark on this school.

She saw the idea for a rock path a couple years ago and wanted to make one, but she was too sick. We were thrilled to hear from Melissa that she wanted to fulfill Heather’s dream. Christopher, who is our former neighbor, was perfect for laying out the design and he painted the beautiful center stones (plus many others).

Joe Allen and Kurt VonKoenig did a fabulous job prepping the area under Heather’s classroom windows and lining up the masons. We were overwhelmed with all her coworkers who helped set the rocks.

It is truly a heartwarming treasure our family and friends will enjoy for years to come. Her twin sons love it and loved pointing out pictures that “Mommy” liked.

Thank you again to our local community.

Marge Yetzke

(John and Chad Yetzke,

John, Xander, and Jack Metz)

40th Annual Hartford Strawberry Run

Dear Lions Club Supporter,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the contribution you made to the 40th Annual Hartford Strawberry Run. Whether you sponsored a marker, the official t-shirt or volunteered the day of the run you made this event possible!

We hosted just under 300 runners and walkers Saturday, June 9th. We were leg one again in the Michigan Fruit Belt Series, which gives us exposure in other run markets as well as supports our agricultural roots. Participants came from all parts of Michigan and from Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.

This year was another great year for our 1-Mile Fun Run. We worked with the local elementary school to offer a reduced entry fee of $5 for all kids 11 and under to enter the 1-Mile Fun Run. We gave out a commemorative dog tag style award for all the kids that participated. There were about 30 kids that ran, starting and finishing in front of approximately 300 folks waiting for the main event to start. What a great way to encourage physical activity!

Despite the weather we had a great run this year. Every year we get lots of positive feedback about how folks love our event, commenting that this is one of the best races they have attended. This praise belongs to you as well. We would not be able to do it without your support! We hope you are as proud of this event as we are! Community support is crucial for an event such as the Strawberry Run. Thanks to gracious supporters like you, we are able to provide Hartford with this unique event every year. We truly appreciate you and all you do.

Thank you again,

The Hartford Lions Club

P.S. See you next year on June 8, 2019!

WWW = Win With Wendzel

Dear Editor,

It is with great enthusiasm that I support Pauline Wendzel for State Representative of the 79th District of the State of Michigan. I have known Pauline since she was born and observed her growing up on a fourth generation farm where she developed a work ethic that will serve her well for representing the constituents of Berrien County. I have been impressed so many times by her poise and ability to inspire others.

I am most impressed with Pauline’s list of diversified endorsements which include the following: Police Officers Association of Michigan; Friend of Small Business stamp of approval from Small Business Association of Michigan; Michigan Right to Life PAC; Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors and Michigan Realtors; Michigan Farm Bureau Agri Pac Committee; Police Officers Association of Michigan; Right to Life of Michigan; received an “A” Grade from the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners.

Pauline’s work background is well rounded. She worked on the family farms, was a counselor for children at a Christian camp, became programs director for the North Berrien Historical Museum and served as assistant deputy clerk in Bainbridge Township. She is now the product brand development manager at Coloma Frozen Foods. I know for a fact how she has put her heart and soul into each of these jobs and that she will put the same effort into being your State Representative for the 79th District. Her positive attitude, intellect, being a fast learner and a wonderful “Go Getter” are qualities that will serve her well.

Most of all, I am proud of the way Pauline has conducted herself during this campaign. She has worked hard, stuck to the issues and been gracious to all. I am proud of her for that.

I am casting my vote for Pauline and I hope you will join me into doing the same. WWW = WIN WITH WENDZEL!!!

Mary Tatter, Watervliet

LaSata for State Senate; hardworking, dedicated & driven

Dear Editor,

When I was nine years old, my parents, Charlie and Kim LaSata moved my three siblings and me from the City of St. Joe to our farm in Bainbridge. They had a simple goal of raising their children to be hardworking, dedicated, and driven individuals. Before I knew it, my younger siblings and I spent our summers turning down invitations for beach days with friends to plant grape vines alongside our parents. Their goal had been achieved not just because we grew up on a small family farm, but because of the example my parents set. Particularly my mom, Kim LaSata.

As her daughter, I have been so proud to watch my mom in her role as the first female Representative for the 79th District. I have watched as she attended endless coffee hours and city, township, and public meetings. I have watched as she made countless phone calls regarding legislation, carefully weighing which vote would best represent our area’s interests. I hope young women throughout Southwest Michigan will look up to her as I do when she becomes the first female to ever serve our area in the State Senate.

It is often said that hard work wins elections. I hope this to be true. My mom has worked hard to get where she is, and is working equally hard to get where she wants to go. Once again she leads by example, personally going door-to-door with her team of volunteers everyday but Sunday.

Whether as a mother, a farmer, a State Representative, or a State Senate candidate, my mom continues to be an example of what hardworking, dedicated, and driven individuals can achieve. Those are the qualities we need in our State Senator, and it’s why I humbly ask that you join me in voting for my working mom this August 7th.

Sarah LaSata, Bainbridge Township

Vote YES for Public Safety Millage renewal in Van Buren County

Dear Editor,

Vote YES for the Public Safety Millage renewal and support our sheriff’s department. I am a tax payer and it gives me a great deal of pride to know we have a full-time sheriff for Van Buren County. He is there dealing with the business of our county, leading his employees, and is everywhere in our county being a part of all our communities. Thank you, Sheriff Abbott, for a job done above my expectations.

Sidney Shank, Paw Paw

Vote NO on Van Buren road millage

Dear Editor,

Van Buren County voters will decide next week whether to tax themselves extra to fix only primary county roadways when gas taxes and registration fees are already designated that way. County voters will have their say on a proposed 12-year, 3.0 mill levy intended to raise $12,000,000 per year for 12 years.

If approved, the owner in the County with a home market value of $200,000 would pay $300 annually. This is too much! While I appreciate allowing my voice to be heard since County Board of Commissioners approved this millage language to be on the ballot, I don’t understand what Road Commission was thinking.

Vote NO!

Marvin G. Flick, Paw Paw

Pauline Wendzel is clear choice for Lansing

Dear Editor,

One of the biggest challenges facing the Southwest Michigan economy is the ability to attract young people to our area and retain them.  Only one candidate in the race for 79th District State Representative is talking about this important issue.  That candidate is Pauline Wendzel.

Pauline grew up as part of a farm family in Bainbridge Township, graduated from Michigan State University and came back home to serve her community.  She worked as a manager for the North Berrien Historical Museum, educating future generations about the heritage of Southwest Michigan.  She served in the Bainbridge Township Clerk’s office, and she is now part of a successful family business that has employed hundreds of people in northern Berrien County.

While Pauline Wendzel understands our history, she is an accomplished young woman who is focused on the future.  She is running for State Representative to make our area the best place in Michigan to raise a family and build a business.  Even more importantly, Pauline Wendzel will work to put policies in place that will help create jobs and businesses that will allow future generations to work and live right here in Southwest Michigan.  Creating an environment for more jobs and better paychecks will mean our children and grandchildren can be part of the place we call home.

During my 33 years as an employee of Whirlpool Corporation, and having worked in multiple leadership roles, I have had the opportunity to observe and mentor smart young people starting out early in their careers.  I have seen what it takes to succeed.  Pauline has the traits of a successful leader.  She has won over many supporters and gained significant endorsements by demonstrating her ability to listen well, having a well thought out platform, and being able to think clearly on the spot.  Pauline is a hardworking and determined individual who will be ready for action on day one!

I have known Pauline for nearly 29 years.  She is intelligent, is a great listener, and has shown that she has the energy to work tirelessly for her constituents in Southwest Michigan.  Pauline Wendzel is the clear choice to serve us in Lansing.  Please join me, my friends and family and Win With Wendzel in the Republican primary on August 7th.

John Kroonblawd, St. Joseph

Emergency need remains; critical call for type O blood donors to donate now

Thousands of people have responded to the emergency call for blood and platelet donations issued by the American Red Cross in early July. Still, there continues to be an emergency need for donors of all blood types, especially type O, to give now to address a severe blood shortage.

Red Cross blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in, and right now there is less than a five-day blood supply on hand. The Red Cross strives to keep a five-day supply of blood to meet the needs of patients and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood products.

“Patients don’t get a summer break from the need for lifesaving treatments, so it is critical that hospitals have access to blood products each and every day,” said Todd Kulman, external communications manager of the Great Lakes Michigan Blood Services Region. “We sincerely appreciate those who have responded to the call to help save lives, but the emergency need remains. Those who haven’t rolled up a sleeve to give are urged to do so today.”

There is a particular need for type O blood, which plays an important role in ongoing patient care and emergencies. Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be given to patients with any Rh-positive blood type. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be given to any patient. It’s what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.

In thanks, all those who come to donate blood or platelets July 30 through Aug. 30, 2018, will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email. (Restrictions apply; see amazon.com/gc-legal. More information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)

Donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment to give now using the free American Red Cross Blood Donor App, by visiting RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

United Way announces volunteer awards winners

United Way of Southwest Michigan announced Jerry Flenar, of Buchanan, as the winner of the 2018 Margaret B. Upton Volunteer Leadership Award. The winners for United Way’s Live United youth scholarships, and Emerging and Sustaining Awards were also announced.

The Margaret B. Upton Volunteer Leadership Award is presented to one volunteer in Berrien County who demonstrates a long-standing history of volunteer contributions, diversity of volunteer experience with multiple organizations, and teamwork and leadership experience. Flenar will receive $3,500 from the Upton Foundation to donate to the non-profit organization of his choice.    Flenar has a lifelong history of dedicating his time and services, as well as his personal assets and finances, to our community through many organizations. Flenar’s been recognized as Buchanan’s Volunteer of the Year Award Winner twice since 1968. Additionally, he has received the prestigious “Buchanan’s Lifetime Achievement Award” two times.

The Emerging and Sustaining Volunteer Awards recognize volunteers from Berrien or Cass County who show a commitment to United Way’s goals in the areas of Education, Income, Health or Basic Needs. These volunteers elevate organizations to new levels.

The Emerging Volunteer winner will have the opportunity to direct $300 to the non-profit organization of their choice while the Sustaining Volunteer receives $500.

The Emerging Volunteer Award winner is Pat Winans. Nominated by New Heights Christian Community Development Association, Pat, as a “lead mechanic” with the Cars Ministry program, has been instrumental in providing critical repairs and vehicles to low-income individuals in need of transportation.

The Sustaining Volunteer Award winner is Margaret O’Neill nominated by Meals on Wheels/Senior Nutrition Services. Margaret volunteers with her church, the D.A.N.K., Lake Michigan College Mendel Center Mainstage as well as Meals on Wheels. Her energy and passion help ensure that the seniors are healthy, active, engaged and nourished.

The Live United Youth Scholarship winners are, for Berrien County, Kailey Skarbek of Niles High School, and for Cass County, Nick Bradley of Edwardsburg High School. The winning youth volunteers demonstrated a commitment to volunteerism through: Innovation, Dedication, and Advocacy for Community Improvement.  The winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship made out to the college on their behalf.  Only current high school seniors were eligible to apply.

Michigan families living in public housing now protected from secondhand smoke exposure

Secondhand smoke is a serious health threat, and can linger in rooms and even travel between homes in multi-unit housing. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and Michigan residents in public housing should be protected by a new smoke-free housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that recently went into effect.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life, and ensuring homes are free from the risks of secondhand smoke is a critical step for the health of residents,” said American Lung Association Senior Manager of Health Promotions Patty Inman. “This is especially true for children and those who are more vulnerable to the impact of second smoke, such as those living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Today we’re making a healthier future for Michigan and our nation.”

In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a rule requiring all federally-owned public housing to become smoke free by July 30, 2018. This rule should protect close to two million Americans nationwide from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, including 690,000 children.

The American Lung Association celebrates this long-awaited health protection, following more than a decade of advocacy for the passage of the rule as well as support for the implementation of smoke-free housing policies in local public housing authorities. In Michigan, it means protections for residents in local public housing agencies.

Locally, the American Lung Association has worked for smoke-free housing initiatives through educational initiatives, including programs on the dangers of secondhand smoke, training facilitators to help with tobacco cessation through the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program, and the distribution of a variety of publications on the topic.

“Today we celebrate this important step to protect the health of residents in Michigan and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Inman.

Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to both children and adults. Damaging health effects in children and adults include lung cancer, respiratory infections, worsened asthma symptoms, heart attacks and stroke. For residents of multi-unit housing (e.g., apartment buildings and condominiums), secondhand smoke can be a major concern to non-smokers, as smoke can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.

WATERVLIET ROCKS… Opening up the office one morning last week I noticed a small rock on the newspaper machine at the front door. I barely glanced at it before tossing it over the fence. The next day (I think) there was another small rock on the machine. This time I noticed it was painted red with white spots, and then I tossed it over the fence. Later I heard Managing Editor Amy telling Copy Editor Laurie that kids were painting small rocks and hiding them along Main Street in Watervliet. I confessed I had found a couple rocks hidden in plain sight and had tossed them over the fence. Since last week I’ve noticed many youngsters, most accompanied by adults, scouring the sidewalks and store fronts, looking for rocks and perhaps hiding others. I noticed Beth and Ben Wagner “hiding” rocks last Friday. Beth (of B&B Outlet discount grocery fame) told me the rock hunt is a national craze of sorts where folks hide and find rocks. She says Buchanan Rocks has been going on for a couple years. “At least it brings folks downtown” she said with a smile. Beth says her and Ben had hidden more than 250 rocks, some with a special gift redemption at B&B. When I am finished with this week’s paper, I’ll be out in the vacant lot next door looking for the rocks I tossed out.

MAKE SURE TO VISIT COLOMA for the annual Glad-Peach Festival this weekend. See Page 17 for an official schedule of events beginning Thursday and running through Sunday. Congratulations to the members of the Lady Comets Softball Team and Coach Wendy Goodline on being selected as the G-P Parade Grand Marshals. This year’s team brought home the first ever Comet State Championship.

VOTING IS TUESDAY… Once all the celebrating is done in Coloma it is time to get serious about voting in the Primary Elections on Tuesday, August 8. Tri-City Record Reporter Annette Christie has compiled an extensive feature on all the Primary Races in our neck of the woods from Governor to public safety millage proposals. Take a look at our coverage to help you decide the important issues and to select the top party candidates for the general election in November.

PRESS BOX CHANGES… Press Box sportswriter Kristy Noack is passing on her Press Box assignment to Ben Loshbough. See the Press Box in this week’s issue for the details. Suffice to say I’m sorry to see Kristy leave the “sports desk” and at the same time excited to welcome Ben. Kristy has done a phenomenal job covering the sports beat of the Tri-City Area for the past four years. Happily, she is continuing as our sports photographer and feature reporter. Ben is the co-host of morning sports report on WSJM with Phil McDonald and is also afternoon host on WIRX Rock 107. Benny is my grandson and is Amy’s youngest, so you could say he has some reporter ink in his blood. I’m confident the changes will continue to be the better for the Record and all of us here. Thanks again Kristy and welcome Ben!

Monitoring your earnings record can really pay off You work hard for your money. You’re saving and planning for a secure retirement. Now you need to make sure you’re going to get all the money you deserve. Regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record can really pay off, especially when every dollar counts in retirement. If an employer did not properly report just one year of your work earnings to us, your future benefit payments from Social Security could be close to $100 per month less than they should be. Over the course of a lifetime, that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in retirement or other benefits to which you are entitled. Sooner is definitely better when it comes to identifying and reporting problems with your earnings record. As time passes, you may no longer have easy access to past tax documents, and some employers may no longer be in business or able to provide past payroll information. It’s ultimately the responsibility of your employers — past and present — to provide accurate earnings information to Social Security so you get credit for the contributions you’ve made through payroll taxes. But you can inform us of any errors or omissions. You’re the only person who can look at your lifetime earnings record and verify that it’s complete and correct. So, what’s the easiest and most efficient way to validate your earnings record? Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ myaccount to set up or sign in to your own my Social Security account. Under the “My Home” tab, select “Earnings Record” to view your online Social Security Statement and taxed Social Security earnings; carefully review each year of listed earnings and use your own records, such as W-2s and tax returns, to confirm them; keep in mind that earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet; and notify us right away if you spot errors by calling 1-800-772-1213.

“Going straight up!” A friend recently passed away. He was known by many in the community. He had a very good reputation for kindness and honesty. At his funeral many had great things to say about him and many shared how he had been an encouragement to them in their lives. He was obviously very admired and appreciated. We felt honored when Rex and his wife, Sophia, chose to attend Plymouth Congregational Church for some years, with him becoming a member in order to help serve. My wife and I once enjoyed their hospitality at Clementine’s in South Haven. It was an enjoyable time. It was always a pleasure to visit with them at their home as well. Sophia passed away not too long ago. She was ready. And when Rex’s time came, he was ready too. Why do I tell you this? partly in honor of them, and partly to give us “something to think about” as the pastor said at his funeral. Rex was a good man and Sophia was a good woman, but they would be the first to tell us that was not why Rex was sure that, “When He comes for me, I’m going straight up!” It wasn’t his good works that gave him that confidence, but rather the good work that Jesus Christ did for him on the cross of Calvary so long ago. “…whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” So says God’s word in John 3:15. Rex wisely put his faith in Jesus Christ, not in his ability to earn a place in heaven. He relied on Jesus’ gift; his life was a gift back honoring the One who was his Savior. Rex was ready to be done. He had run his race and he had pressed on for the prize of that upward call in Christ Jesus – and he went straight up!

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