09-21-2017 Letters and Commentary

Local government is narrow-minded, not pro-business

Dear Editor,

This is Tim and Willie at Clear Water Meats in Eau Claire.  Since you wrote an article about our butcher shop a year ago we thought we would give you an update for another article.

Business has been steadily increasing as our name and products are getting around.  We have gotten involved with Eau Claire High School’s Agri Science program by sponsoring fundraisers and having the class out for a field trip to learn a little about meat cutting.

We have recently doubled the square footage of our operation with an addition of a livestock holding barn and future retail area.

After an extremely successful deer season last year we entered some of our products in the Michigan Meat Association’s state-wide competition in Lansing.  We won state champion specialty game meats with our venison Jalapeno and Cheese Salami and also Grand Champion Smoked Fish with a Hot Smoked Brown Sugar Salmon.

After returning from the competition this spring we hit the road and talked with many area restaurants about how we could help them incorporate local Michigan meats onto their menu.  We now supply meat to a few great area restaurants such as Mason Jar, Tosi’s and Doggie Bag.

As our popularity is growing we realized that we need to incorporate a retail meat market into our business.  We approached Pipestone Township in April of this year with our plans and requested an ordinance amendment to include a retail meat farm market at our establishment.   The planning commission in our township 100% agreed with us that our retail meat market would be a great asset to our community.

We were met with extreme pushback from our township that we should not have a retail store on our property.  They continually suggested we pull our current location, and force us into a commercial building in the HUGE metropolis of downtown Eau Claire.  Month after month the board tabled our request without doing anything about it.

One board member brought up that we were destroying the country living in our area because we deal with livestock and that they moved to the country because they do not want to see, hear or smell farm animals.

Finally, after 4 months of getting treated like a criminal with all of the negative comments and pushback, we knew we were not getting anywhere.  We contacted the Michigan Department of Ag’s Right to Farm department.

In the Right to Farm act it protects farmers and allows them to have a “Farm Market.”  Well we just so happen to be grain and livestock farmers, combined we operate around 600 acres and raise around 100 head of cattle a few blocks north of the butcher shop.  After working with them the last few months we are now nearing the final stages of the State verifying our farm and farm market is in compliance with state regulations.

Wednesday September 13, 2017 the township board turned down our request for permission to open a retail meat market at our butcher shop.  Since we are relentless and determined to provide the community with a fresh meat market due to the fact there is no grocery store in Eau Claire we will keep working with the State.

Although discouraging that the local government is so narrow-minded and not pro-business, we will be moving forward with getting the State’s certification for a farm market and open to the public as soon as possible.  When our farm market opens we will be selling natural beef raised by us and processed by us! We will also be selling Michigan pork and work into selling goats, sheep, chicken and eggs grown on our farms.

As we wait for the State to come through we will continue to do custom processing as well as deer processing which starts very soon.  Future plans include another retail location so we are encouraging local townships and towns to contact us if they are searching for a boost in local business.  Watch our Facebook page for updates as to our progress with opening our farm market!

Tim Nimtz & Willie Hannan

Michigan men encouraged to discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctor

 Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men aside from skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death among Michigan men. Therefore this September, National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, is the best time for men to become aware of their personal risk for prostate cancer and talk to their doctor about screening.

In Michigan, it is estimated that there will be 5,350 new cases and 830 deaths due to prostate cancer in 2017. Older men, African-American men, and men with a family history of prostate cancer have a greater risk for developing prostate cancer. African-American men are more than twice as likely as white men to die of prostate cancer. The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging men to discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctor including its risks, potential benefits, and known limitations in order to make the screening decision that is right for them.

Men with average risk, such as white men with no family history of prostate cancer, should talk to their doctor about screening beginning at age 50. Men at high risk, including African-American men or those with a close family member who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65, should have the screening discussion with their doctor beginning at age 45. Men at highest risk are those with multiple close family members who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65. These men should have the screening discussion with their doctor beginning at age 40.

While there are not usually symptoms associated with early prostate cancer, men should call their doctor if they have any of the following symptoms: difficulties with urination, a need to urinate frequently especially at night, difficulties having an erection, pain or burning while urinating, and blood in the urine or semen.

For more information about prostate cancer, visit www.michigan.gov/cancer.

Are you finding what you need?

Sometimes, when that question is posed to a guest in a store, especially in a store with a large selection of products available for purchase, the response is, “I don’t know what I need.” The next question is designed to help the person focus. “Well, what’s the project you’re working on?” Then the discussion can continue.

We don’t usually find what we need to complete our projects by random shopping. When we random shop we should expect to end up with unwanted products that not only don’t help our project at all, but which actually hinder our project’s success!

Let’s consider life as a project. Are we finding what we need, or are we random shopping because we don’t know what we need? Our project won’t progress well until we identify our true need. It is said that we are created with a God-shaped hole in our soul, and until that hole is filled with God, nothing else can fill it. Many can identify with that statement. There is a sense that a deeper need exists than can be filled with entertainment, social networking, or with any other form of narcotic we try. We need the real thing.

Churches missing that point try to imitate shallow cultural forms without depth of spiritual meaning, resulting in the “same-old-same-old” wrong product for an inadequately defined project. No wonder attendance wanes. The need is not being met. The God-shaped hole can’t be filled with the same old fluff.

Once, when filling in for a pastor of a large church, I asked what I should speak about. “Don’t be negative, just be encouraging,” was the response. Bad advice. Shallow; fluff-oriented.

When something other than God fills the spot made for only Him, the life project will fail. Are you finding what you need?

Get to know your Social Security

Social Security touches the lives of nearly every American. We’ve been with you from day one, when your parents applied for your Social Security number, and we are with you from your first job through your retirement party and beyond.

For more than 80 years, Social Security has stayed true to its mission of providing financial protection for the American people and has served as one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in our nation’s history. We encourage everyone to take steps toward their financial security. Regardless of your age or place in life, now is the right time to start planning for a financially secure future for you and your family.

Everyone can benefit from our first step: Get to know your Social Security. You can start your journey through all things Social Security by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov and navigating through our menu.

Along the way, you’ll see how your Social Security number opens many important doors throughout life, from making it easier to apply for student aid and open your first bank account to starting your first job and buying your first house. You’ll also discover how your contributions to the Social Security system through FICA payroll taxes can make you eligible for important future benefits when you reach retirement age or if you become severely injured or ill.

You’ll find how Social Security helps your family in the form of survivor benefits and how our Supplemental Security Income program assists disabled children and our most vulnerable adults.

We also encourage you to visit our website and set up your own my Social Security account today so you can begin taking steps toward financial security.

Through our website and your online account with us, you can: Verify your lifetime earnings record to ensure you’re getting credit for all your contributions toward Social Security and Medicare; estimate future benefits for you and your family; manage your Social Security benefits and personal information; and learn more about how we’re securing your today and tomorrow.

Now that you’ve started to get to know your Social Security, stay in touch by visiting our Social Security Matters blog at blog.ssa.gov/ and our website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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.

JUST HELP… September is Suicide Prevention Month.  We all know someone who has committed suicide. Just a year ago, my brother-in-law Steve took his own life. An early childhood memory is of the Uncle who “left” his family was actually a suicide and I recall my mother’s rage at him.

My daughter Gillian suffers with depression. She wrote a memoir “STILL LIFE A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression” (available on Amazon).

As a parent, I still struggle with the sad feelings I get reading Gillian’s book. But I am also very proud of her strength and her campaign to share her struggles and triumphs with those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.

She recently shared this except of STILL LIFE on Facebook and some telling comments about her own thoughts on suicide.

“I’m alone in the house and shuffle into the kitchen. Daylight shines through the windows, making crumbs and other dirt sparkle like jewels on the countertops. I look for coffee, but as I move toward the cupboard for a mug, I spot a large sharp knife next to the sink. It looks like someone used it this morning to cut bread for toast, the toaster is next to it and, of course, all those jewel crumbs everywhere. ‘I wonder what it would be like to plunge that knife into my stomach,’ I hear myself mumble. What? I stop. Glance around. My eyes go back to the knife. I could stab myself with that knife and make all this go away.

“I’m not considering the pain of stabbing myself. I’m not thinking about Sergei grieving his wife, or the girls, over time, forgetting the smoothness of my hands or the contours of my face. I’m not thinking of my parents wishing they had done more to help, or of people in my church blown away by their pastor’s wife’s death, unaware that things in their home were that bad. I’m thinking of that knife. I’m thinking of relief. I’m thinking that I don’t want to do this, as in life, anymore.” -Still Life, pages 34-35

September is suicide prevention month. I haven’t been able to figure out what to say about it. But, here goes…

Folks, I’ve been there. I’ve fought suicidal ideations. I’m a Christian. My husband is a pastor (doesn’t matter, but people think it does), I’m a mom, a wife, an author. Why do I note these things? I don’t know. I guess to show that I’m not the type of person who seems like she would think about suicide. But that’s the thing. There’s no type. Thank you, Lord, for keeping me safe.

This isn’t about weakness, or selfishness, or cowardice. This isn’t about a demographic, or a stereotype, or a socioeconomic status. This is about mental illness. This is about desperation. This is about a mind somehow bent to believe that it no longer matters. This about a person who wrongly decided that he or she is disposable. Suicide doesn’t just happen to ‘other people.’ We’re all other people.

If you are struggling. Get help. You matter. You are made in the image of God. You are valuable. People care. Jesus loves you. You are not alone.

If you know, suspect, assume, wonder if someone is struggling, help them. Step in. Stand there. Keep standing there. Don’t be afraid. Don’t decide they are looking for attention. Don’t brush them off. Far too often it has taken a death for people to believe that someone was sick. Don’t wait until something terrible happens to decide to help. Just help.

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