08-29-2019 Letters and Commentary

Rotary grateful for support of festival silent auction

Dear Editor,

The Coloma Glad-Peach Festival silent auction was a successful event this year thanks to the many gifts donated, including yours.

The funds raised will support our many community service projects within the three communities of Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet.

Daniel Schofield – President

Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club

Cases of mosquito-borne disease suspected in Michigan residents

Michigan residents are being reminded by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the confirmation of one case of a mosquito-borne disease in a resident and three other possible cases in the state.

Three cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are now suspected in residents from Kalamazoo and Berrien counties. In addition, a case of California encephalitis virus has been confirmed in a Genesee County resident.

As of Aug. 26, six cases of EEE have been confirmed in horses in Barry, Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. None of the horses were vaccinated against EEE and all animals have died. There is an EEE vaccine available for horses, but not for people. In addition, two deer in Barry and Cass counties have been diagnosed with EEE.

“Mosquito-borne diseases can cause long-term health effects in people and even death,” said Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski, MDHHS state public health veterinarian and manager of the Zoonotic and Emerging Infectious Diseases Section. “These cases, along with confirmed cases in horses and deer in the state, stress the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites.”

EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33 percent fatality rate in people who become ill and a 90 percent fatality rate in horses that become ill. People can be infected with EEE or California group encephalitis viruses from the bite of a mosquito carrying the viruses.

Residents can stay healthy by following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

Apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved product to exposed skin or clothing, and always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Apply insect repellent to clothing to help prevent bites.

Maintain window and door screening to help keep mosquitoes outside.

Empty water from mosquito breeding sites around the home such as buckets, unused kiddie pools, old tires or similar sites where mosquitoes may lay eggs.

Use nets and/or fans over outdoor eating areas.

Signs of EEE include the sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms of California encephalitis virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and lethargy. Both diseases can develop into severe encephalitis, resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

Additionally, West Nile Virus activity in Michigan has increased in wildlife and mosquito populations. Health officials have identified 18 positive mosquito pools and eight infected birds in the Lower Peninsula. No human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported. Mosquito-borne illness will continue to be a risk in Michigan until late fall when nighttime temperatures consistently fall below freezing.

For more information about mosquito-borne diseases, visit Michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

Keystone XL construction is long overdue

Dear Editor,

The decade-long fight over Keystone XL, a 1,179-mile underground oil pipeline that would carry crude from Canada to Nebraska, just took another surprising turn.

In June, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted an injunction and allowed the long-delayed construction project to move forward. But environmentalists quickly threw up new frivolous roadblocks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had previously approved the project — but lawyers from the Sierra Club and allied groups petitioned a federal judge to rescind those approvals, alleging that the Corps failed to conduct adequate environmental reviews.

These bad faith delaying tactics have gone on for too many years. As numerous analyses have shown, the pipeline would create jobs, boost the economy, and strengthen our national security – all without damaging the environment.

Once it’s completed, Keystone XL could transport 35 million gallons of Canadian crude oil to American refineries each day. The pipeline would traverse Montana and South Dakota before ending in Nebraska, where the oil would flow into an existing pipeline system that extends to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Green groups claim the pipeline would wreak havoc on the environment. Since the project was first proposed in 2008, these activists have demanded the pipeline undergo a variety of environmental reviews. The Obama and Trump administrations carried out six rigorous assessments. Each time, the pipeline passed with flying colors.

An analysis by the consulting firm IHS found Keystone XL would have “no material impact” on greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama State Department reached a similar conclusion in a 2014 study.

Keystone XL doesn’t just meet environmental standards – it exceeds them. In 2013, Keystone developer TC Energy agreed to bolster the pipeline with 57 safety features not required by law.

Even without these additions, Keystone XL would be safer than the status quo. Pipelines deliver oil safely 99.999 percent of the time, making them the best energy transportation method by far. Compared to pipelines, trains are 4.5 times more likely to experience an accident or incident while transporting oil.

Delaying Keystone doesn’t just put the environment at risk. It also compromises our national security. If U.S. refineries can’t import heavy grades of crude oil from friendly countries like Canada, they’ll have to rely on hostile, volatile nations. As one 2013 report noted, Venezuela “would be the number one beneficiary” of not building the pipeline.

Keystone XL would also strengthen our economy. The State Department predicts the construction phase alone would create 42,000 jobs and generate well over $100 million in state, local, and property taxes.

Plus, the pipeline will boost activity at refineries in Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, and North Dakota, which employ thousands of American workers. All told, Keystone XL is set to expand the U.S. economy by $3.4 billion.

Green groups have obstructed progress long enough – it’s time for them to stop their endless protesting and accept that the scientific studies they demanded are complete, even if they don’t like the results.

Michael James Barton

(Michael James Barton is the founder of Hyatt Solutions and speaks around the country on energy and energy security matters. He previously served as the deputy director of Middle East policy at the Pentagon.)

Hundreds share insights on elder abuse with MI AG, Supreme Court Justices during Listening Tour

Traveling more than 2,600 miles around the state and hearing from more than 200 seniors and advocates about ways to address elder abuse, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Megan Cavanagh recently wrapped up their 12-stop Elder Abuse Listening Tour in Marquette.

Nessel along with Supreme Court Justices Cavanagh and Richard Bernstein embarked on the tour in June to better focus and guide the efforts of the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force on the issues and concerns that impact Michigan seniors. The tour started in Grand Rapids in June and ended Aug. 12 at Northern Michigan University.

“This listening tour was about providing a voice to those who don’t often have a chance to speak up and speak out,” Nessel said. “We appreciate all those who attended and provided valuable input and feedback, the insights and personal experiences were humbling, at times heartbreaking, and always enlightening. We fully intend to incorporate these comments as we prepare to properly address the troubling issue of elder abuse.”

The Task Force, which launched in March, identified nine initiatives to tackle immediately as part of a statewide crackdown on elder abuse. The listening tour was developed to ensure the Task Force was on the right track with the first nine initiatives and to identify any additional issues that should be addressed.

In total, nearly 1,000 seniors and advocates attended at least one tour stop and more than 10,000 residents tuned in online via Facebook Live. The tour included stops to Bay, Berrien, Genesee, Grand Traverse, Isabella, Kalamazoo, Kent, Marquette, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties.

Of all the testimony provided, the three top concerns shared by seniors and advocates alike included: Full-time and court-appointed guardianships; selling the personal property of a senior who has been declared a ward of the court; and isolation from their families.

“The key thing that I have learned from these listening sessions is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Michigan

Supreme Court Justice Megan K. Cavanagh. “Elder abuse is a complicated problem that takes a comprehensive solution with involvement of judges, prosecutors, protective service workers, neighbors, and family members. Together, we’ll tackle each challenge and won’t stop until the job is done.”

“Everything that we as public servants do centers on the people of Michigan, and we genuinely participated in the Task Force listening sessions to try to make a difference and try to help,” said Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein. “I appreciate the courage of each and every person who spoke and shared their stories of pain and loss. Your strength in speaking out is the inspiration for the next step – turning words into action.”

“I sincerely believe that when we are done with these initiatives, we will have made more progress in protecting our seniors than we have in the last 30 years,” Nessel added.

The Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Task Force is made up of more than 80 individuals representing more than 50 different organizations including law enforcement, state agencies, probate judges, the Michigan House, Senate and Congressional delegation, and advocacy groups.

For more information on Michigan’s Elder Abuse Task Force, visit Michigan.gov/ElderAbuse.

AAA: Labor Day gas prices likely to be lowest in years

Labor Day is quickly approaching and gas prices for the holiday weekend are lining up to be the lowest in 2-3 years. However, there are still a number of factors that could push prices higher before the holiday.

On Monday, the average price for gasoline in the U.S. was $2.59 per gallon. Drivers are currently paying 25 cents less than they did on Labor Day 2018 ($2.84), and 5 cents less than on Labor Day 2017 ($2.64).

“Labor Day travelers will benefit from lower oil prices this year as they fill up for their holiday road trip,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Strong U.S. oil production rates are holding oil prices about 15% below last year’s levels, effectively reducing the price of producing gasoline. Gas prices should remain low heading into the holiday, unless something unexpected threatens fuel supplies, like geopolitical tensions or a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Labor Day marks the end of the busy summer travel season, and the last big surge in gasoline demand before the fall. The expectation of strong demand can promote a slight and temporary bump at the pump before the holiday.

However, after Labor Day, refineries begin their seasonal switch to winter-blend gasoline. Summer-blend gasoline is more expensive to produce than winter-blend, because the EPA requires more additives in the hotter months of the year. The combination of lower demand and fuel production costs typically restores downward pressure on pump prices through the end of the year.

In comparison, gas prices in Michigan are up slightly. Michigan drivers are now paying an average price of $2.72 per gallon for regular unleaded, which is about 2 cents more than last week. Still, drivers are paying 11 cents less than this time last month and 23 cents less than this time last year.

AAA’s state and metro gas averages show the most expensive gas price averages to be: Ann Arbor ($2.80), Metro Detroit ($2.76), Jackson ($2.71); least expensive gas price averages: Traverse City ($2.56), Benton Harbor ($2.62), Saginaw ($2.67).

Daily national, state, and metro gas price averages can be found at Gasprices.aaa.com. Motorists can find the lowest gas prices on their smartphone or tablet with the free AAA Mobile app.

Rethinking menopause: Turning the change of life into your best life

Menopause can be a physically challenging and emotionally trying time for a woman.

But with the right information and outlook, the so-called “change of life” phase can also become the bridge to the best time of a woman’s life, says Dr. Arianna Sholes-Douglas (www.tulawellnessmd.com), author of “The Menopause Myth: What Your Mother, Doctor, And Friends Haven’t Told You About Life After 35”, and the founder of Tula Wellness Center in Tucson, Ariz.

“It’s a myth that menopause is the beginning of the end,” says Sholes-Douglas. “Menopause is a journey toward your best, authentic self. Menopause is not a dirty word. It’s time we use it, reform it, and own it.”

A long-time OBG-YN, Sholes-Douglas says she missed her own perimenopause diagnosis, thus she dedicated her career to helping women through a difficult stage that she thinks is largely neglected by most of the medical community.

“Women are blindly struggling, and often, no viable solutions are offered by their medical providers,” Sholes-Douglas says.

Sholes-Douglas offers advice on how women can empower themselves to better cope with menopause and not let it diminish their quality of life:

Separate the myths from reality. “A common myth is that menopause doesn’t affect women until after menstrual cessation,” Sholes-Douglas says. “The reality is that perimenopause — one of the most emotionally and hormonally tumultuous times of a woman’s life — precedes menopause and starts as early as age 35. This journey is not only heralded by the fluctuations of hormones, but also by a ‘personal awakening’ that starts to occur. No wonder women have traditionally avoided the ‘M’ word like the plague. But this avoidance of information, resources, and conversations does a disservice to women and their families.”

Embrace the change. Feelings of dread and confusion often accompany the onset of menopause. “So many women start to focus on the signs of aging that we all experience,” Sholes-Douglas says. “But there is technology available to push back the hands of time. The real work, however, starts with the mental and spiritual. At midlife, we are forced to take inventory of our lives. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to do you; the best part of your life is waiting for you to show up, which takes courage.”

Have a real menopause conversation with your doctor. “Forty years ago, nobody really recognized perimenopause as a significant issue worthy of understanding, much less of research and conversation,” Sholes-Douglas says. “Women just dealt with it and suffered in silence. Unfortunately, the current healthcare model still doesn’t allow time for doctors to truly assess a woman’s physical and emotional symptoms. Fortunately, there is a new generation of women who demand understanding and validation of their bodies and their sexuality after midlife. We need to start the real menopause conversation and open it up so that it is destigmatized, demystified, and accessible to all women. It’s an exciting time because there are new therapies and options available so women can continue to lead vital, pleasurable, fulfilled lives.”

“The journey is ultimately about balancing the emotional, physical, and spiritual components of coming into your own,” Sholes-Douglas says. “Embracing and understanding it can have truly transformative effects on women’s lives.”

Your roots go deep

The popularity of ancestry web sites and services reveals our desire for knowing our roots. In an age when social media keeps us connected to one another in new ways we could never have imagined before the advent of the internet and cell phones, finding our roots has never been easier. It’s fascinating to discover what our ancestors did, what they were known for, and how our experience is possibly affected by our roots. Sometimes, on a popular TV program “Finding Your Roots”, discoveries are made that reveal shady characters on our family tree, or surprise connections that we would never have guessed or desired. Oh well, DNA doesn’t lie. Sometimes knowing our roots helps us better cope with our own lives in the here and now. As we remember the trials and tribulations of our past generations, we can be thankful that they persisted in spite of obstacles. Sometimes looking back helps us look forward. When Peter wrote his first century letter to a group of Christian refugees living in what are now parts of Turkey, he reminded them of their roots. He helped them look past their present difficulty by looking forward to the reward that was promised for their enduring faith. That promise could not be ruined or lost like our earthly possessions can (1 Peter 1:3-9). By remembering their roots, which went back to God’s good intentions for them even as far back as creation and beyond, they could view their present more clearly and have new hope for living in the present. Finding their deep spiritual roots would help them towards the outcome of their faith – the salvation of their souls. In the busyness of daily life, our ancestral roots may understandably be far from our minds. But as we go, and as we encounter problems, with Jesus as our Savior, remembering our spiritual roots can help us through.

Changing your direct deposit information with Social Security

With our busy lives, it’s easy to fall into that cycle of postponing some tasks because of other priorities. This may be true for you when it comes to changing your payment method for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, forgetting to change your payment method can lead to delayed payments. The most convenient way to change your direct deposit information with Social Security is by creating a “my Social Security” account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Once you create your account, you can update your bank information without leaving the comfort of your home. Another way to change your direct deposit is by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to make the change over the phone. If you prefer to speak to someone in-person, you can visit your local Social Security office with the necessary information. Because we are committed to protecting your personal information, we need some form of identification to verify who you are. If you are online, we verified your identity when you initially created your “my Social Security” account. All you need to do is log in at www.socialsecurity.gov/ myaccount with your secure username and password to gain access to your information. If you call Social Security, we will ask identifying questions to ensure we are speaking to the right person. If you visit the office, you will need to bring a driver’s license or some form of ID with you. Once we have identified that you are the correct person and are authorized to make changes on the Social Security record, all we need is the routing number, account number, and type of account established. We don’t ask for a voided check, nor do we obtain verification from the bank. Therefore, you should be sure you are providing accurate information to us. Because you may be unsure if your direct deposit change will affect your next payment, we highly recommend that you do not close the old bank account until you have seen your first Social Security deposit in the new bank account. That way, you can feel secure you will receive your benefits on time, regardless of when the change was reported to Social Security. When you have to report changes to your direct deposit, be sure to visit us online at www.socialsecurity.gov/ myaccount. Social Security always strives to put you in control by providing the best experience and service no matter where, when, or how you decide to do business with us. 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.

LABOR DAY… shouldn’t be labeled the last day of summer vacation, but the first day of fabulous fall. But for a few days of extreme heat, this summer was just gorgeous, bright warm mornings led to warm sunny days followed by cool evenings. While many folks are heading south for the cooler days ahead, much more of us will be enjoying spectacular days ahead. When winter does slam the door, we can hunker down and wait out the coming of spring in front of a roaring fire. Meanwhile to all you snowbirds packing up, please call Amy and give her your winter address so you don’t miss any copies of the Tri-City Record.

READING THE RECORD… I called Tri-County Computer earlier this week and suggested to Teresa that new ad copy might be in order. The ad warned readers that users of Windows 7 on their PC will no longer be supported as of January 14, 2020. “Oh no Karl,” she said, “We’ve had many customers come in for the upgrade since the ad started running this spring. Many of them have brought in the ad from the Record.” In our story on Brian Kibler’s quest to hike the entire Appalachian Trail but was sidetracked by a broken ankle, we included his mailing address if some readers wanted to mail him a “get well soon” card while he is in rehab. Brian reports he got a lot of get well cards from Tri-City Record readers and that he appreciated them all.

BACK TO SCHOOL… By now you must have realized your school district is ramping up for a new school year. If not the yellow school busses on each road come Tuesday will bring reality to the fore. No matter the town, the drill is always the same, band practices for the first football game can be heard nearly daily. Packs of kids can be seen running along roadways as the boys and girls ready for the rigors of competition on the fields and in the gym. You can hear the shouts, chants and clashes of shoulder pads echo over empty stands most of which will be filled with fans this weekend. Where most street corners are quiet now, that will not be the case next week as kids will populate most crossings as they head to and from school. Remember to stop for all flashing lights on school buses. Enforcement and fines have been increased the past couple years as many driver ignored the lights, endangering the youngsters getting on and off the school buses.

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