09-17-2020 Letters & Commentary

ROCKS OF FAMILY FUN… It is not unusual to spy a painted rock hidden on broad daylight in downtown Watervliet and other places.

Thanks to Beth Wagner (B&B Grocery Discount Outlet) … many folks enjoy finding painted rocks and hiding them in new places. More are painting rocks and leaving them about the area.

On Facebook is a group “Watervliet Rocks” with conversations from other “rock hounds”. Beth has a posting explaining the growing circle of folks enjoying finding and painting rocks.

“Hello everyone I would like to take a moment and introduce myself my name is Beth and I am the originator and one of the admins of Watervliet Rocks. I would first like to state that there was never an initial intention to have rules associated with this as an activity. I started this with my children so I could spend more time with them painting. Hiding them and finding them was just an extreme bonus and I’m amazed at the community support that has allowed this to take off as well as it has. I am on multiple other sites for rock painting and I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with the participation that we get from Watervliet. The amount of rocks that are hidden and also the amount of rocks that are found far exceeds any other place that I’m part of, so for that I have to say thank you to each and every one of you. Just know that with every single rock that is hidden there’s a smile on a child’s face when they find it whether it’s posted to Facebook or not. This is something that we can take the opportunity to show extreme love and kindness and prove that we have a community that is willing to work together. I know that it is impossible to control how this activity happens and we may not always be happy with the outcome but I would like to say that I am extremely proud to be part of this Watervliet Rocks Community. Thank you everyone for everything you do to keep this going.”

OTHER FOUND THINGS… While fishing on a small pond a few years ago I happened to look down at the ground and spied an arrowhead there.

I had never found an arrowhead before, even when as a youngster scouring known places where they had been discovered.

Admittedly, I might have been more excited to make the discovery 60 years ago, but at least I can say I found one.

It is amazing that things like that are still to be found. I’ve read that the tilling of farmland and the dynamics of freeze and thaw keeps bringing buried and lost things to the surface. That’s why rocks continually appear on farm fields, year after year, coming to the surface and then turned over by a plow.

That’s where the arrowhead was, barely exposed on a field that was tilled sometime this spring.

One late summer when the water levels were low, I was wading in the Paw Paw River when I spied something nearly exposed on a gravel bank that looked like an army helmet.

While it was the size of a helmet, it was a kettle with an inch or so of river gravel and rust embedded on its surface.

With a little research on the internet, what I found was it was an antique Dutch oven. Dutch ovens, even today, are a popular and convenient cooking utensil; usually made of cast iron or steel, the oven has a heavy tight lid and can be used for just about any cooking application or recipe.

The Dutch oven was invented in Holland and got its name when its use spread throughout Europe. The oven was very popular with American traders and pioneers. Up to the mid 19th century when stoves became readily available, the Dutch oven had a round bottom with three short legs. The design was for cooking in open fires… the oven with its round bottom and short legs was placed right into the coals.

The design made the oven very popular as trade goods with Native Americans.

The one I found has the round bottom and legs; I surmise it might have been a possession of a pioneer or Native American camping upstream of Watervliet and over the decades tumbled downriver in the current to where I found it.

Right now, I’m enjoying owning it and have planted flowers in it. Then one day I’ll probably take it to the museum (if they’re interested).

I’ve come into possession of a couple other “historic” items and after some years of happy possession and investigation, I’ve donated them to museums where they had some connection.

My Civil War Bible, carried into battle by Union soldier James Byers, is now an artifact on display at the Manistique/Schoolcraft County Museum. Byers was born near Bangor, joined the Army in 1862 at South Haven, fought at Chickamauga, and mustered out in Washington D.C. On his return to Michigan he settled near Manistique where he is buried. I visited his grave and read a bit of his Bible, then delivered it to the museum.

My Western Union telegraph typewriter that typed out a message of the Armistice of November 11, 1918 is on display at the museum in Capac, Michigan. It had been owned by a teenage telegraph operator who decades later ended up as editor of the Capac Journal. When I hired in at the Journal in 1975, Editor Emeritus Elmer Warren gave the typewriter to me.

It was only fitting that I returned it to his hometown museum.

While I hold no hopes of finding any more information on the Dutch oven, who knows what I may find before I pass it on.

As for the arrowhead, I suspect it is not a real Indian artifact. Nonetheless it is a real arrowhead, and I gave it to my granddaughter Zoya who exclaimed it would make a great necklace.

Perhaps one day she’ll pass it along as something her Grandpa gave to her on a Memorial Day weekend in Michigan.

“Rock on!”

Mosquito bite prevention With an increase in cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis reported in horses throughout the state of Michigan, officials at the Berrien County Health Department continue to emphasize that residents take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a rare virus that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Michigan has had outbreaks of EEE about every decade since 1980 when the first human case was reported in the state. In 2019, the number of human cases of EEE in Michigan – 10 cases – were equal to the total number of cases in the previous 10 years combined. It is unknown exactly why some years are more severe than others, although weather, including temperature and rainfall, is thought to play a role. So far in 2020, there have been no diagnosed human cases in Michigan. However, humans can get EEE the same way horses do (from the bite of an infected mosquito), so a case in a horse means people in that area are also at risk. There have been identified human cases so far in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Although there have been elevated numbers of EEE cases in horses in Michigan this year, the illness remains extremely rare. Not all mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the virus, and not all cases of EEE result in severe symptoms. Mosquitoes that can carry the EEE virus tend to favor woodland and/or swampy habitats. The Berrien County Health Department recommends taking the following actions: When outdoors, apply insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET, or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered 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. More information regarding EEE can be found at www.bchdmi.org or www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

The governor must reopen unemployment offices now After six months of failures with the UIA, I am demanding that the governor open the offices of the Unemployment Insurance Agency so that Michigan workers can speak directly with UIA representatives about the payments they have been promised. Dozens of displaced workers in my communities, and hundreds across Michigan, have gone without their unemployment insurance payments for more than seven months. This is simply inexcusable. Governor Whitmer’s administration has had months to make necessary improvements to the UIA’s operations to ensure Michigan’s displaced workers receive the payments they need and deserve. It’s safe for local UIA offices to open and the governor should instruct them to do so immediately to expedite the many open claims that need attention. The failures at the UIA are also impacting people who never even filed for unemployment. In one instance, a member of our community had a fraudulent claim filed in her name. The single mom of five reported the fraud attempt three times to the UIA but has still received letters saying she owes money back. As an essential worker, she has never once filed for unemployment and never received any unemployment payments. Dodi has now been sent a repayment plan from the UIA to pay back the money and they will soon start garnishing her wages. This is a nightmare for her and her family. She has called and called UIA repeatedly and can’t reach anyone. She has reported the fraud but no one from UIA does anything or offers to help her. It’s time for the UIA offices to open and expedite claims and investigate these instances of fraud. UIA offices closed indefinitely in March and have yet to be fully reopened, despite other government offices resuming operations across the state. Enough is Enough Governor Whitmer – it is time to safely and quickly reopen unemployment offices statewide. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me toll free at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ RepBethGriffin.

Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids starts Oct. 1 Each year as colder temperatures approach, many kids throughout Southwest Michigan find themselves without a warm jacket that fits. That’s why last year I launched Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids and, thanks to the support of caring Southwest Michigan residents, we collected and distributed hundreds of new or gently used coats and jackets to area youth in need. I am excited to announce that Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids is back for 2020 and is accepting donations from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. This year’s coat drive will look a little different because of the coronavirus. Instead of drop-off locations, this year we are asking people who are interested in donating to call or email my office, and my staff and I will arrange to have your new or gently used coats or jackets picked up. Southwest Michigan winters are notoriously harsh, and not having a warm coat can have negative health effects on our kids. With cold weather exposure forcing the body to work harder to stay warm, the added physical stress and inability to regulate body temperature predisposes people — and especially the vulnerable, like children — to illness.

I encourage everyone who is able to rummage your closets and consider donating your gently used coats and jackets and, if you feel compelled and have the means, please also consider donating new or never worn coats. Southwest Michigan is a great place to live, and it’s made even greater because of its generous residents who help make it home. I hope Southwest Michiganders will again join Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids next month to donate new and gently used coats and jackets for area youth. For more information or to schedule a donated coat pickup, call 517-373-6960 or email SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.

A COVID-19 Relief Package is still possible; Bipartisanship is the answer For more than six months now, the COVID-19 pandemic has truly altered our way of life. Thousands of Americans have tragically lost their lives, countless folks have lost their jobs, small businesses face closing for good, and families are adapting to virtual school and work. While we all hope to see a vaccine safely approved and distributed nationwide soon, American workers, families, and small businesses still need our support to weather this storm. Despite stalled negotiations on Capitol Hill, I believe that, if we work together, we can get a bipartisan deal across the finish line – and so do my colleagues in the Problem Solvers Caucus. We have been working day in and day out on a bipartisan package that we released this week that would help those in the most need. Many in Washington have already thrown in the towel on any hope of a COVID relief package being passed before November, but quite frankly, that’s not acceptable. The American people can’t wait any longer for Congress to do its job, and I certainly won’t stop fighting to find a solution. To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

What if… Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions. Wrongly assume the stove is off and you could get burned. Mistakenly assume that something can be both true and false at the same time, and you might also be able to mistakenly conclude that wrong is right, or that right is wrong. What if we assume that science is the only source of what is true? And then we discover that science is wrong? Conclusions drawn based on wrong science could be wrong as well. For example, the Hittites were a huge culture that was discovered by archeologists long after the Bible accurately described them. Assuming the scientists to be right, that undiscovered Hittites couldn’t exist, we came to a wrong conclusion – that the Bible was historically wrong. Here’s the problem. When we assume that our present state of knowledge is the limit of knowledge, we arrogantly set ourselves up for failure. No true “scientist”, committed to discovering truth, rather than committed to defining truth, would claim complete or exhaustive knowledge about anything! There is always new to be discovered. Recent research in quantum physics demonstrates the widening vista of understanding that we could never before have imagined. Archeology and geology also continue to grow, as do other disciplines. So, what if science is wrong about the impossibility of creation out of nothing – “ex nihilo”? How would that change conclusions? Maybe we haven’t discovered the math. What if the resurrection of Jesus really happened, or the Tribulation is really coming, or the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth is future historic fact? What if Jesus is right about our need for being “born again” and it’s true that without Christ, eternity has no hope? On the basis of what science would we assume that the Author of science is not telling us the truth? Faith sees beyond the scope of science. Trust God’s Word. That’s a better assump

Time to renew Dear Amy, Fall is in the air, as I once again renew my subscription to your awesome local newspaper. Your staff reports articles in a timely manner, for us local to enjoy. I am very thankful you are continuing to publish Roy (Bud) Davis’ articles, since his passing. My husband and I always enjoy his trips back to yesteryear and sometimes they bring a tear to our eyes. Yes, Bud will be missed – he will live on as your paper continues to reprint his wonderful words, as we continue our journey weaving golden threads into the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River. I love these endings to his articles. Jerrie Williams, Paw Paw

Online forum to discuss human trafficking Community members are invited to register for a free, online forum to discuss human trafficking on Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. The event, coordinated by the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, will provide tools and action steps to help participants recognize and engage with human trafficking victims. Participants will hear from keynote speakers Andy Soper, director of education at Measurable Change, and Kelly Carter, assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Michigan Department of the Attorney General. Breakout sessions will be held following the opening speakers focused on information for parents, educators, community members, law enforcement, and child protective service professionals. For more information, or to register, visit spectrumhealthlakeland.org/ human-trafficking. A valid email address is required to register, and participants will be emailed a link to access the online forum.

Conservation officers urge proper etiquette on and off the river The abundant amount of Chinook and coho salmon produced in the Betsie and Platte rivers every September – known as “fall fish runs” – draws anglers eager for this unique fishing opportunity in northwest Michigan. Unfortunately, the season also attracts illegal fishing activity and community disruption, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are working with local property and business owners to correct the situation. Conservation officers are conducting enhanced patrols to reduce the illegal fishing, camping and parking, trespassing, littering and loud and abusive behavior. “Local businesses and communities open their doors and welcome anglers every fall,” said Lt. Joe Molnar, the DNR’s district law supervisor who oversees officers in northwest Michigan. “Many people treat the area and fishing resources with care and respect, but those who live and work in these communities are tired of those who continue to snag fish, litter and exhibit poor behavior.” Snagging is an illegal method of catching a fish using hooks, without the fish having taken the bait with its mouth. Last September, conservation officers worked more than 900 hours and made 3,875 contacts in 14 days patrolling the fall fish runs in northwest Michigan. “Snagging, littering and trespassing are the common violations we see during the fish runs,” Molnar said. “Landowners have gone above and beyond to clearly post their private property but continue to experience trespassers wandering their land to get to the next fishing spot – often leaving a trail of litter.” Molnar encourages anglers to walk through state-managed public land to avoid trespassing. Anyone found guilty of illegally taking fish may be charged with a misdemeanor, lose their fishing license, serve jail time and face fines and costs. Anyone who witnesses a natural resources crime or has information about such a crime is encouraged to call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Tipsters can remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.

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