08-24-2017 Letters and Commentary

MAYBE THIS TIME IT WILL BE DIFFERENT… We’ve seen it before. A youth dies from a drug overdose, or alcohol abuse, or texting and driving, or another tragic accident. The public is outraged and bands together to seek change. The public packs city hall, the media covers the event and then is a short while the outcry dies away and new issues come to the forefront.

Meanwhile the family is left to grieve alone. The public is distracted until another tragedy captures the headlines.

Occasionally something is done. The tragic death of a Watervliet youth from an overdose, because his friends were afraid of reprisal for calling for help, resulted in some change. Now the Good Samaritan law protects minors from reprisal when calling for help for a friend overdosing on drugs or alcohol.

This Monday, Hartford citizens packed city hall following the heroin overdose of a local youngster just a couple weeks ago.

Interestingly they were not pointing fingers at a lack of law enforcement, or rehab programs or education; they were there to offer assistance to the community to “do something” to stop the epidemic of drug use in their community.

Perhaps, like in the case of the Samaritan law, citizens offering to help and then helping will bring about some changes.

Call it what you will, heroin, or opioid or drug overdose, there is an overdosing epidemic in our country, from the big city to the small town. While it won’t go away anytime soon, small steps like in Hartford, is a beginning to save our children and our community.

PRESIDENTIAL PRESIDENT…. I watched President Trump’s address to the nation Monday night regarding our Afghanistan policy. I agreed with him.

Our country needs to demand the participation and support of countries that we are supporting with troops and money. Most times the USA bears the burden of supporting countries beleaguered by insurgents seeking to overthrow the lawful government.

We’ve been in Afghanistan for 17 years attempting to protect a government that at many times seems unwilling and unable to take advantage of the support.

I like the President serving notice to all nations that the USA will no longer be handing out cash without getting something in return. I also liked the President serving notice to terrorists the world over that the USA will seek their defeat and destruction.

I was impressed by President Trump’s message and demeanor. It was presidential.

CELESTIAL CURIOSITY… where were you during the great eclipse of 2017. Working? Napping?  Shopping? Weeding the garden? Tracking the moon’s shadow creeping up to shroud the sun?

Despite the hype and hoopla by the science whizzers on T.V., I’m guessing more of us were doing something else besides waiting for the sky to go dark this past Monday afternoon. Around here the sky darkens more for a midday thunderstorm than an eclipse that misses the area by 300 miles or so. To be fair, had the shadow passed directly overhead there might have been more interested. In those areas, marketers sold out football stadiums to those who never witnessed the sky going dark.

Those that did, saw the sky darken much the same way it does when a storm rolls through or the sun sets (nightly).

Even so, it was a bit exciting thinking that just a couple hundred years ago humans clanged pots and pans to drive away the demon shadowing the sun. Perhaps even a medicine man claimed to darken the sun and then banished the shade a few minutes later.

I’m wondering how many special eclipse viewing glasses were sold and is there a place to sell them back. I didn’t get caught in the stampede to save my eyesight ruined by staring at the sun, but I did manufacture a cereal box (Cheerios) viewer just in case the skies cleared and the sun darkened on cue. When it did, I found I was watching others watching the eclipse.

The folks across the street at B&B Outlet were outside with their cereal box viewers. They all watched a “sliver” of the sun go dark for a few moments. And the sky darkened and the air cooled a bit. Even the streetlights came on. They were entranced by the show in the heavens as the traffic continued on Main Street, and even a train rumbled by.

As the world turned the shadow on the earth blazed across the continent at 2,000 miles an hour (a news commentator said) so there were just a couple minutes of “darkness” bathing our spot on the planet before the sun regained its full glory.  So those who caught the show have seen something that won’t be seeing again for some time. The youngsters viewing it may someday in the future recall this celestial moment to their own kids and grandkids.

Unwanted quiet times

When someone spends their life working, at a business or in a career, or on a farm, they are used to producing some product or service on a regular basis. We discipline ourselves to get up on time, and to do what needs to be done. Then things change. Sickness, downsizing, retirement… forced quiet time.

We didn’t think it would be this way. Or maybe we didn’t think about it at all. But here we are. Now what? “Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” doesn’t often work in these situations. We need intervention, and we may need to rethink a few things – like maybe we need to reevaluate what really has enduring value. This is no time for mourning loss, but rather for looking ahead. But how?

I believe we are given a hint in Psalm 147:10, 11. What we have valued may not include all that is valuable. This could be a good discovery time. “He (God) does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness.” (NASB)

Now this is true during our “productive” times as well. But it is evident that God puts our relationship with Him on a higher level of importance than our abilities or our work. Our production does not impress Him, our participation in life with Him does. With our attention forced off production during quiet times, we have more opportunity to seek His face – face time with God. That’s not bad.

What does God look for in us? Production or faith? He is able to change our circumstances, and what He does He does in lovingkindness. We can still choose to trust Him, even in unwanted quiet times.

It’s more convenient than ever to apply for Social Security benefits

You’ve worked hard your whole life, and receiving your Social Security benefits should be the icing on the cake at your retirement party. We’re working hard to make it as quick and seamless as possible for you to apply for benefits from Social Security.

Simply visit www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefits to get started. Through our safe and secure website, you can apply for: Retirement benefits; Spousal benefits; Medicare; Disability benefits; Extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs; and, in some cases, Supplemental Security Income.

You don’t have to be internet savvy to finish most of our online applications in one sitting with your computer. Or, if you prefer, we offer you the options to apply in person at your Social Security office or by telephone with one of our application representatives. Please call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment.

You should also call us to schedule an appointment if you wish to apply for certain family benefits, including those for surviving spouses and children, divorced spouses and dependent children, and parents of beneficiaries.

After you’ve applied for benefits — whether online, by phone, or in person — you can securely and quickly check the status of a pending claim through your online my Social Security account. If you haven’t created your account yet, you can do so today by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

You can also use my Social Security to view estimates of how much you would receive in retirement benefits and potential disability benefits and how much your loved ones could receive in family or survivor benefits.

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.

A special Thank You

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Pastor Manning and members of the First Missionary Baptist Church, Shannon Rogers, Mary & Jody Champion, Brenda Bickers, Valarie Hampton and all who sent flowers, brought food, shared memories and expressed condolences in the loss of my wife Anita Oglesby.

Thank You

Gerald Oglesby

Van Buren County Historical Society Heritage Day

Dear Readers,

Please join us on Sunday, August 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for our annual Heritage Day at the County Historical Museum, 58471 Red Arrow Highway, Hartford.  The grounds  and museum will be a-buzz with demonstrations of traditional crafts such as butter and cheese making, candle making, weaving and spinning just to name a few.

Members of local brew clubs, Hop To It from Decatur and Keepers of Craft from Kalamazoo will demonstrate brewing from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Carl Wickett from MIPro will have his equipment set up so we can hear the “voices” from several of his ghost tours at the museum.

More modern crafters will be on hand showing their wares, great bake sale items to eat on site and to take home, lunch on site by Motor Mouth Food Truck.  Also there will be a yard sale like your mothers, with items from many museum board members and volunteers.

Parking is free, and admission is 13 years and older, $5; 5 to 12 years old is $2 and under 5 is free. Bring your friends and neighbors for a fun and informational day, learn about Van Buren history.

Roylinda Rumbaugh

Heading Back to School with OK2SAY

Schuette encourages schools to schedule OK2SAY and Cyber Safety Programs and update OK2SAY contact information

With the start of a new school year quickly approaching Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is reminding students, parents, and teachers to continue using OK2SAY. The student safety program has been a great success — even in the summer months. In June and July, OK2SAY technicians received almost 400 tips.

“OK2SAY works because students across the state are stepping up and speaking out. It is as simple as that,” said Schuette. “Even when school is out for the summer, kids know they can turn to OK2SAY.  We are helping to knock down barriers so a student who is struggling can get needed help before a situation turns into a tragedy.  OK2SAY helps ensure students have a safe and confidential tool at their fingertips.”

“Children need to know they have the power to protect themselves and their peers,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police. “We will continue to work to educate as many students as we can and remind them that we are here to help them. Nothing is too insignificant to report.”

OK2SAY and Cyber Safety Initiative fall school visits

OK2SAY and the Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative presentations are led by experienced, dedicated presenters who travel to schools throughout the state to give free customized presentations for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.  To date, nearly two million students have attended a presentation.

Students in kindergarten through 5th grade receive age-appropriate instruction from the Michigan Cyber Safety Initiative (CSI), a national award-winning program, and feeder program for OK2SAY.

Students in 6th through 12th grade receive dynamic, award-winning OK2SAY student safety programs. The department also provides programming for parents, guardians, and community leaders.

OK2SAY/CSI presentations are scheduled in 154 schools in 23 counties for the 2017-2018 school year.  But it’s not too late; there is room for more presentations, if your school is interested in hosting an OK2SAY/CSI presentation, sign up today on the OK2SAY website.

Updating school contact information

Designating a few specific individuals with whom OK2SAY technicians can follow up with regarding tip information is crucial: OK2SAY points of contact help save time, and even lives. That’s why Attorney General Schuette and Michigan State Police Colonel Kristy Kibbey Etue are urging Michigan principals to fill out or update the online OK2SAY School Contact Form.

In the majority of violent incidents that occur in our schools, someone other than the perpetrator of violence knows of a threat before it’s carried out but fails to report it.  Often, students chose to keep quiet because they fear retaliation, rejection, or stigmatization by their peers. The result is a culture of silence in which students suffer harm that could have been prevented if another had felt comfortable to speak out. OK2SAY empowers students to break the code of silence.

The total number of tips since OK2SAY launched in September 2014 has reached almost 9,000.  Tips are submitted across 30 categories, with most tips reporting bullying, suicide threats, “other” (e.g., anxiety, depression, harassment, and stress), self-harm, and drugs.

“We are encouraged by this summer’s continued success and are looking forward to continuing that momentum through the 2017-2018 school year,” said Schuette.

How to submit a tip

Students, teachers, parents, school officials, friends, and neighbors can submit tips if they are aware of a threat in school.  Tips can be submitted through any of the following ways: Call   8-555-OK2SAY (855-565-2729), text   652729 (OK2SAY), email OK2SAY@mi.gov, on the website at ok2say.com, or by Mobile Apps Google Play and    iTunes.

1st Source Bank donates $100,000 to Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion

1st Source Bank recently donated $100,000 in support of two, private glass-enclosed meeting rooms that will be located within the newly designed and expanded Courtyard Café and an adjacent business lounge to be located on the second floor of the new Lakeland Medical Center Pavilion.

“With the increased demand for healthcare in our community, 1st Source Bank is pleased to make this contribution,” said Scott Geik, Vice President, Business Banking. “Not only will the new space allow individuals and families to meet with their healthcare team in a private setting, but this donation demonstrates our commitment to the community.”

“Being in the hospital can be a stressful time for families who have a loved one staying with us. We also know how important it is for families to have space for self-care while they’re visiting the hospital,” said Brandi Smith-Gordon, President of Lakeland Health Foundations. “We’re so grateful for this gift from the 1st Source Bank because it will provide private meeting spaces and a nearby business lounge where people can work, eat, meet with physicians, or comfort other family members at a critical time.”

To date, community members have donated more than $4.9 million in support of the Pavilion which is slated for completion in 2020. For continued updates on the project, including architectural animations, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/pavilion. To learn more about how you can support the project, contact the Lakeland Health Foundations at (269) 927-5143 or visit www.lakelandhealthfoundations.org.

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s raise over $45,000 in St. Joseph

Over 400 St. Joseph area residents raise awareness, funds, for Alzheimer’s care, support and research

More than 400 residents from St. Joseph joined the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease on August 12 at Riverview Park in St. Joseph. Participants raised more than $45,000 to fund Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs.

“This year’s event was incredible,” says Kristin Burt, Walk Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter. “We often say that the Walk is like the world’s biggest support group. To see so many people in the St. Joseph community coming together to support one another and raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s is truly inspiring.”

Special thanks to LECO Corporation, The Willows Assisted Living and WSJM for their support of this year’s event.

In Michigan alone, there are more than 180,000 people living with the disease and over half a million caregivers.  In the United States, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in and the only disease among the top 10 causes that cannot be cured, prevented or even slowed. Additionally, more than 15 million family and friends provide care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

For more information or to make a donation visit alz.org/walk.

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.  Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  Together, we can end Alzheimer’s – the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death.

Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support.  Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

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