10-05-2017 Increase of Amish families is positive change to community; making neglected property pro

Increase of Amish families is positive change to community; making neglected property productive

By Angela Stair

The communities of Hartford, Lawrence and Bangor have some new neighbors in their area.  Amish families have been steadily increasing their presence in the area over the last couple years.  These very private, hardworking people are making a positive change in the communities by buying run down or neglected farms and cleaning them up and making them productive again.

Amish church groups seek to maintain a degree of separation from the non-Amish world, i.e. American and Canadian society.  The young couple that spoke with the Tri-City Record was willing to speak with us, but asked that the paper not use their names, exact location, or pictures of them to maintain their privacy.  The paper will honor their request.

HORSEPOWER…Hartford Harding’s is considering installing a hitching post to accommodate customer parking for those that travel by horse and buggy.

The young man said he, his wife and four children (most Amish families have 6-7 children), had been living approximately 100 miles north and wanted to move toward the south.  When reaching this area, they liked it so much that they decided to settle here.  When asked if all the new people were from the same area, he said no.  They were from all over, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and other places.

When researching the size of an Amish District, it was found that most districts consist of from 20 to 40 families that are looked after by a Bishop, several ministers and deacons.  There are between 12-18 families now in the area with a few more coming in soon.

ROAD SIGN… You will be seeing more of these caution signs depicting the horse and buggy soon as Hartford Township plans to put some up to protect our new residents and public alike as more horse and buggies are being used in the area. (TCR Photo by Angela Stair)

To accommodate the new residents and offer some protection to the families that use horse and buggy for transportation, signs have been put up in Lawrence and in Bangor Township.  The young Amish man said he wished the signs also said “Caution” as even a well-trained and well-handled horse can bolt if frightened by a speeding car or one passing too close.

This past month the Township of Hartford started the process of getting signs up.  Hartford Supervisor Ron Sefcik said it is not as easy as deciding to put up the signs, as they are not the ones to put them up.  The first step is to approach the Van Buren County Road Commission and make the request.  The road commission is the one that will pick out where they will go and put them up.

Supervisor Sefcik said that when the signs were put up in Bloomingdale, the Amish Bishop of the District rode with the commission to decide on sites.  The Supervisor intends to meet with the road commission this week to see what can be done, as the man that worked for the commission and put up the signs has just retired.  Sefcik said he plans to follow through to get signs up because it is the right thing to do.

Tim Hildebrand, the manager of Harding’s Friendly Market in Hartford said they are seriously thinking of putting up a hitching post to accommodate the Amish users of the store.  He said a final decision has yet to be made on it, but feels it is heading in that direction.

A brief history of Amish religion and way of life

In 1693 the Amish church began with a break in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists.  Those that followed Jakob Ammann became known as Amish.

In the early 18th century, many Amish and Mennonites immigrated to Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons.  Today the most traditional descendants of the Amish continue to speak Pennsylvania German, also known as “Pennsylvania Dutch.”

A BEAUTIFUL TEAM OF WORKING HORSES… to use while farming in the Amish tradition. (TCR photo by Angela Stair)

The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology.  They value rural life, manual labor and humility, all under the auspices of living what they interpret to be God’s word.  Amish church members practice nonresistance and will not perform any type of military service.

Amish church membership begins with baptism, usually between the ages of 16 and 25.  It is a requirement for marriage within the Amish church.  Once a person is baptized with the church, he or she may marry only within the faith.  Over 90 percent of Amish teenagers choose to be baptized and join the church.

The eight states with the largest Amish population in 2017 were: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, Missouri, and Kentucky.  Pennsylvania ranks 1st with 74,250 Amish people and Michigan ranks 6th with 15,040 Amish residents.

AMISH TRADITION… Known for their “barn raising,” this barn was started and a few days later was on its way to completion. (TCR photo by Angela Stair)

Palisades’s closure averted Entergy & Consumers continue Power Purchase Agreement

By Jon Bisnett

A recent press release was issued from Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) announcing that it now plans to continue to operate Palisades Power Plant in Covert, at least until the spring of 2022, under the existing Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Consumers Energy.

“In light of the Michigan Public Service Commission’s order issued September 22, which granted Consumers Energy recovery of only $136.6 million of the $172 million it requested for the buyout of the PPA, the parties have agreed to terminate the buyout transaction,” said Charlie Arnone, site vice president and Entergy’s top official at Palisades. “This announcement reverses Entergy’s December 2016 decision to close Palisades on October 1, 2018, but Entergy remains committed to its strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business.”

As reported in the last week’s edition of the Tri-City Record, Michigan’s Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved just over $142 million, significantly short of the $172 million Consumers requested for its buyout payment to Entergy.

In light of the MPSC decision, Entergy made the following statement regarding finance: “The impact of the decision on free cash flow is expected to be positive $100 million to $150 million compared to the PPA amendment with Consumers Energy. In addition, due to the change in operating assumptions, under applicable accounting rules we no longer expect fuel, refueling outage costs and capital expenditures to be expensed as incurred. Instead, these expenditures will be amortized or depreciated over their useful lives and the expense will be included in operational results.”

Consumers Energy followed with their own press release stating: “After careful review, Consumers Energy and Entergy have mutually agreed that moving ahead under the terms of our current Palisades’ Power Purchase Agreement through 2022 is the best path forward. We appreciate the thoughtful, deliberate approach by all parties during the process, and remain committed to delivering affordable, reliable, safe and clean energy to our customers across Michigan.”

Prior concern for the site’s 600 employees and the fate Van Buren County’s largest property tax payer now bring praise from most, including several local businesses and Southwest Michigan politicians.

6th District Representative Fred Upton also released a statement saying,                “As Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, I am delighted to hear the news. This is a welcomed announcement for the workers and the community. As a long-time supporter of safe, reliable, and secure nuclear energy, my goal all along was to make certain there was never any political interference with the operations of our nuclear facilities. I will continue to support an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that includes the safe operation of our nuclear facilities.”

Former 66th District State Representative Aric Nesbit tweeted last Thursday, “Today’s news that #Palisades will continue operations is a BIG win for SW MI! 600 jobs and Michigan energy production preserved!”

Calling on the MPSC to prevent the early closure of Palisades was the final resolution Nesbit introduced and passed in the Michigan House just prior to his exit due to term limits.

Senator John Proos echoed the positive thoughts posting the following via social media, “The exciting news that Palisades will now stay open till 2022 ensures job security for hundreds of Southwest Michigan families who work at the plant, is good news for our local schools and communities who will continue to have a productive relationship with Entergy, and helps guarantee that Michigan will have the reliable power that countless local employers have come to count on.”

Amid the audible sighs of relief over the Palisades closure plans, are those who criticize the decision. Nuclear Energy opponents from across the nation had often appeared at prior hearings regarding Palisades citing concerns of the closure, storage of spent fuel and security concerns.

Perhaps the most outspoken, the following statement was issued by Bruce Brown, Sierra Club leader in Southwest Michigan: “The high cost of nuclear-powered electricity makes Entergy’s decision confounding. Entergy’s news release reiterated that it ‘remains committed to its strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business.’ Nuclear power can no longer compete in the wholesale electricity market. In recent years, the Louisiana-based company has closed, or announced plans to close, and sold off several of its nuclear plants. The cost of maintaining Palisades’ 46-year-old buildings and equipment while meeting Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety standards can go nowhere but up.

“Meanwhile, the cost of wind- and solar-powered electricity is going nowhere but down—and fast. Moreover, Consumers and MPSC agreed that, with more and more lower-priced electricity coming online from renewable sources, Consumers doesn’t even need the overpriced electricity that the PPA will force it to keep buying from Palisades.

“Of the hundred or so public comments that MPSC received in its three public forums and through submissions to its online docket, almost all comments spoke of the plant’s threat to its neighbors, apprehension about the environmental effects of radioactive releases, and deep concern over high-level nuclear waste stockpiles that continue to build up at the site. The MPSC case could not address plant safety and proper handling of nuclear waste. Michiganders must not construe MPSC’s ruling as saying that the Commission believes Palisades to be safe and that its neighbors and the environment are in no danger.

“The Sierra Club remains unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy. All nuclear plants are dangerous. We are disappointed that the Palisades threat will continue beyond next October, and consumers will continue to overpay.”

Kevin Kamps, a spokesperson with Beyond Nuclear warns the entire region is in danger as long as the aging Palisades reactor is in operation.

Palisades site VP Charlie Arnone once again has emphatically stated, “There will be no shortcuts taken when it comes to matters of safety and reliability.”

The Palisades plant was originally built for the Consumers Power Company, first went on line in 1971, at which time it was only the second such nuclear facility on the Lake Michigan Shoreline, following the opening of the D.C. Cook facility in Bridgman. At peak capacity the Covert plant generates 811 megawatts of virtually carbon-free electricity, enough to power more than 800,000 homes.


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