08-10-2017 Letters and Commentary


A Grand Marshall of Glad-Peach Festival Parade will cherish honor forever

Dear Editor,

This past week I had the HUGE honor of being a Grand Marshall in the 50th Anniversary of the Coloma Glad-Peach Festival Parade.   I will truly cherish this honor forever.   After leaving the Festival Board 27 years ago, I had not been back to enjoy the best family festival in the state of Michigan.

During my years on the Board, I was surrounded with the best possible fellow board members one could ask for who spent 18-hour days during the festival each year to bring a quality, family style event to the greater Coloma area.   Over the years, the volunteers and sponsors who have kept the dream alive are to get a huge pat on the back for their efforts.

Your paper has also been key to getting the word out about the festival.   Current President Jody Davis and her board should be very, very proud of the 50th party they put on this past weekend.  The huge crowd that lined the streets during the Grand Parade was a sight for sore eyes as a parade participant.   Again, hats off to all involved this year.

Best Regards,

Dale L. Stover

Past President 1986-1990

Coloma Glad-Peach Festival

Thanks for buying market animals

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Red Arrow Dairy in Hartford, Wilbur-Ellis Watervliet, Klett Recycling in Hartford and Keith and Tammy Dykstra for purchasing my 2017 Market animals! Thank you so much for your support!


Gracie Eagle

Farmers markets increase access to fresh food

Dear Editor,

There is nothing better than slicing up a ripe garden tomato fresh off the vine. However, some may not have the means to grow fresh vegetables in their backyards.

At the Center for Rural Affairs, we work with rural communities to build healthy, sustainable, local food systems. That includes supporting farmers markets.

Farmers markets expand access to fresh, healthy food in communities that need it most. They provide affordable, competitive prices for low-income families, and many accept food vouchers.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 5,000 farmers markets across the country accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, with the number of new locations increasing at an average 40 percent per year.

Vendors are reaping the benefits. In 2014, 362,477 SNAP households made at least one purchase at a farmers market, according to the National Farmers Market Coalition. That means more families are eating healthy and fresh local fruits and vegetables.

Farmers markets also provide beginning farmers a low-cost way to enter the marketplace and grow their businesses. Small and medium existing farms can supplement their revenue by selling at markets, supporting the sustainability of family farms.

The USDA reported 8,675 markets in the country in 2016, up from 2,863 in 2000. Many consumers now have the opportunity to eat food grown within a few miles of their homes. And, that money stays in their small towns, helping local economies.

Find your farmers market in USDA’s national directory at www.ams.usda.gov and join us in celebrating National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 6 to 12.

Rhea Landholm

Center for Rural Affairs

Blood donations urgently needed in the final weeks of summer

 The American Red Cross urges blood donors to give in the final weeks of summer to help overcome a chronic summer blood shortage.

In August, regular donors may delay giving as final summer vacations are planned and back-to-school activities ramp up. To fully meet the needs of hospital patients in the coming days and weeks, donations are urgently needed from new and current donors. Those who donated blood earlier this summer may be eligible to donate again. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days, and Power Red cells can be donated every 112 days.

As a special thank you, those who come out to give blood or platelets with the Red Cross now through August 31 will be emailed a $5 Target eGiftCard.

Appointments can be scheduled by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To help reduce wait times, donors are encouraged to make appointments and complete the RapidPass online health history questionnaire at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Aug. 15-31

In St. Joseph on Wednesday, Aug. 16 from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at American Red Cross, 3838 Niles Road; Monday, Aug. 28 from noon to 5:45 p.m., Grace Lutheran Church, 404 East Glenlord Road; and Thursday, Aug. 31 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., again at American Red Cross, 3838 Niles Road.

Community partners play vital role in maintaining the blood supply

The Red Cross relies on community partners to help ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients. About 80 percent of blood donations made to the Red Cross are through blood drives set up by community organizations, groups and businesses.

To become a community partner by hosting a Red Cross blood drive, visit redcrossblood.org for more information.

How to help

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

ANOTHER INVASION… There’s a great brouhaha about Asian Carp invading the Great Lakes. Supposedly, one has been found just a few miles from Lake Michigan.

Fisheries experts predict the carp will get into Lake Michigan and soon spread to the other Great Lakes; destroying other fish eggs and nests as they go along. It also has the alarming habit of leaping out of the water and landing on boats and hitting the passengers.

All of that may be. I recall dire predictions but onslaught of Zebra Mussels, and Gobis that spread into the Great Lakes from other waters (oceans I think) actually benefited the lakes.

The Zebra Mussels cleaned the water. Lake Erie (a Great Lake) was nearly a polluted pond when the mussels “invaded.” The anticipated invasion of Zebra Mussels cleared the lake water in a matter of a couple years, where the experts predicted a decade long campaign of billions of dollars (mostly in consulting and engineering fees) to clean the lake. The slowly suffocating walleye population rebounded phenomenally.

Thanks to Zebra Mussels, the Great Lakes, all of them are cleaner than they have been since being polluted by the inventions and sport of man.

The tiny Gobi, predicted to be a predator of perch and other fish is flourishing. The perch population is flourishing. Artificial bait manufacturers now offer “Gobi” baits to fishermen to tempt perch and walleye to bite.

My point is, Mother Nature will balance itself, oftentimes at the expense of other species, but one will always dominate.

As a lad, my siblings and I raked piles of shad washed on the beaches of Lake Huron and burned the dried husks along with clumps of tar and coal washed ashore by freighters traversing the Great Lakes.

Biologists introduced salmon to eat the shad. They did and flourished. They kept on eating and soon ruined the perch fishing industry. When the perch fleets along the Great Lakes disappeared, the shoreline piers were replaced with condominiums.

The DNR biologists no longer stock the Great Lakes with so many salmon because many of the fish are now successfully spawning in rivers like the St. Joe and the Paw Paw.

Those same biologists spent billions fighting the sea lamprey. Evidently, they are no longer a threat to the salmon fishery. Even so, those ugly, toothy eels with jagged teeth are still around. My grandson grabbed one off a spawning bed in Watervliet’s Mill Creek this May.

At one time, I accompanied a group of fisheries biologists from two states and Canada along the Paw Paw River scouting sites to install lamprey dams to keep them from spawning in smaller streams like Mill Creek.

Ironically the spawning in Mill Creek, the Paw Paw River and other streams was blocked upstream of the paper mill spray field because the discharge into the river was too clean and cold; and kept the lampreys from spawning there.

It may be that the Asian Carp, a warm water spawner may find the Great Lakes water too cold and perhaps too clean from the voracious filtering of Zebra Mussels and the appetites of the Gobi.

Here’s another irony, in my mind at least. When Paw Paw Lake was tangled by the tendrils of the Eurasian Milfoil, one of the solutions was to introduce grass carp. The grass carp was said to be fond of eating the milfoil and other aquatic plants. Planting the grass carp was nixed in favor of spending thousands of dollars on chemicals to kill the weeds.

While the milfoil has been reduced, it certainly hasn’t been foiled. It crops up in spaces where the chemical treatment is missed.

Meanwhile the banned grass carp has found its way into Paw Paw Lake; several have been shot this spring by bow hunters, including a fifty pound monster.

Perhaps the grass carp missed the memo that banned them from the lake.

THANKS KIDS… many, many thanks to our children, for hosting a dinner last week to honor Anne’s and my 50th wedding anniversary (June 24).

We were so pleased to be among all our children, their spouses, grandchildren and special friends.

Why it pays to keep a careful eye on your earnings record

Whether you’re ready to retire, just joining the workforce, or somewhere in between, regularly reviewing your Social Security earnings record could make a big difference when it’s time to collect your retirement benefits.

Just think, in some situations, 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.

Social Security prevents many mistakes from ever appearing on your earnings record. On average, we process about 236 million W-2 wage reports from employers, representing more than $5 trillion in earnings. More than 98 percent of these wages are successfully posted with little problem.

But 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. We rely on you to 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, click on “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; and keep in mind that earnings from this year and last year may not be listed yet.

If you notice that you need to correct your earnings record, check out our one-page fact sheet at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10081.pdf.

Sooner is definitely better when it comes to identifying and reporting problems with your earnings record. As time passes, you may no longer have past tax documents and some employers may no longer be in business or able to provide past payroll information.

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.

What if, or what is?

Anticipating problems and addressing them before they happen is the goal of industrial procedure writers. Figure out what can go wrong and create a pathway to make sure it never happens, is the idea. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. We do that in our private lives too. We do preventative maintenance on our vehicles and home appliances, like hot water heaters and riding lawnmowers. Life insurance won’t keep us alive, but it responsibly helps others when the inevitable happens. That’s not an “if,” but a “when.”

It’s when we live our whole lives looking for problems that the “what-if” can keep us from dealing well with the “what-is” of life. Worry is a form of crippling “what-if.” We’re told that good worriers can go through all the physical and emotional trauma of an event that has not happened just as if it had actually taken place! That takes practice! And most of us who what-if too much have practiced it for a long time. It takes its toll. What-ifers can never rest assured about anything, because nothing is sure. They can’t be peaceful because Doom Island is not a happy place to live. Meanwhile, positive opportunities in life and relationships elude what-ifers. There is little energy left for enjoying the what-is of life and relationships.

Jesus saw this trait even back in His day when He encouraged people not to worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, “each day has enough cares of its own.” It can be found in Matthew 6:34. Be satisfied to deal with today – with its troubles, yes, but also with its joys. Patiently allow God to unfold your life one day at a time. Maybe you won’t need to use your life insurance quite so soon that way.


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