10-05-2017 Letters and Commentary

Shop local

Dear Editor,

I have lived in the Coloma and Watervliet area my entire life. I love my home town. I have the honor of being the current President of the Coloma-Watervliet Chamber of Commerce and like every chamber we promote shopping local. A term that comes to mind is “If you don’t use it you will lose it.” Our local merchants not only provide needed items but they make it convenient vs. driving out of town to save a few bucks. Do you REALLY save a few bucks by driving past local stores when you consider time and gas?

For years I have heard people complain about prices at our local Harding’s Market. I admit there are a few items that are higher in price. However, what is the price tag on service? I recently moved and find myself closer to a big box chain store in a neighboring town. Every trip I made there ended with poor service and frustration. The next week I thought I will try this store’s newer location a few miles down the road. It was even worse. When you walk in they have everything a person could possibly need; in the grocery section endless varieties of foods and options. The sales seem decent; however, you have to buy this and that to get another free or a certain dollar off and if you don’t choose the exact combination, NO DEAL, literally. Along with the frustration of jumping through their hoops there is no effort to accommodate the customer, bag your own groceries, load them, and don’t get behind.

My husband will not shop anywhere except Harding’s Market in Coloma. He loves Fred’s Meat Market and their Deli. The employees go above and beyond to provide over the top service, it might have something to do with the foundation of their service, the decades of mentoring from Tony Forestieri. Tony knew the meaning of customer service and he instilled it in the employees. If you worked under Tony at some point in your life you learned a valuable set of skills, diligence and passion for serving customers. They still ask, paper or plastic? They bag your groceries, take them to your car, and load them. They check your egg carton and if an egg is cracked the bagger runs back to grab a replacement. If you forget something while in line the bagger will run back and grab it for you. A few weeks ago there was a sale, buy a watermelon and get a carton of strawberries free, I didn’t notice and while in line the cashier asked the bagger to grab the free strawberries for me.

We also have B&B Outlet in Watervliet, a locally owned and operated grocery store offering discounted items and essentials like milk, bread, etc. Great service, friendly employees, and you can’t beat their prices. The owners Ben and Beth Wagner support their community through many sponsorships and by volunteering on committees that make a difference in the community that they live and work in.

Those big box stores might have 1’000s of options to choose from but there is one thing you can’t find there and that is service.


Karla D. Smothers

Athletes don’t kneel

Dear Editor,

You commented last week that the debate of athletes not kneeling for the National Anthem and the U.S. Flag was a stupid debate, that these athletes were showing free speech.

Let’s look at this from some slightly different angles.  First off to me not standing for our anthem or our flag is demonstrating against our entire country and the “freedom” it stands for, this person kneeling is in essence demonstrating against the very ideas and laws that give him free speech in the first place.  Our country and our flag deserve our respect at all times because they represent the freedom that allows us to speak up for or against a cause.

Spending my money and attending a pro ball game, I came to see athletes play a respectful professional game of ball, not to see a protest.  It would seem that these athletes standing for our anthem would be as much a part of their “job” as throwing a ball.

We could debate even if America is still a free country.  Get a piece of land and a back hoe and start digging a basement for a house and see how fast someone shows up demanding your permits to build this house.

When we talk free country some of what some think is or should be free is not.  While considered a free country do we have to make a law for professional athletes to behave in a professional manner and stand to show respect for the country as a whole.  Considering they are making a whole lot more money here playing ball than they would in any other country and if the U.S. does not deserve their respect let them go to Canada with all the actors that went during the last election.

To address your comments regarding President Trump’s comments on these athletes, does he not have the same freedom of speech some proclaim for these un-professional athletes and speak his thoughts on their actions?

Karl, you and I stand together on your thoughts in what the media considers important news to inform us about and what is not important, oh and they have to be sure to give their opinions right along with what they call news.


Dennis Bachman, Coloma

Republican tax scheme is a give-away to the rich

Dear Editor,

Congressman Fred Upton has once again betrayed the people of Southwest Michigan by enthusiastically endorsing the Trump-Ryan-McConnell “tax reform” framework unveiled on September 27.

The Republican framework is a boon to the wealthy. It would reduce the top individual income tax rate from 39.6% to 35%; eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, which aims to insure that the wealthiest individuals pay at least some federal income tax; and eliminate the Estate Tax, which is paid only by the wealthiest individuals.

The Republican framework would greatly increase the federal deficit and debt. An analysis by the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Budget reports that if the Republican plan were adopted the federal deficit would increase by more than $2 trillion dollars.

Trump and his Congressional Republican accomplices falsely suggest that their scheme would offset the gigantic increase in the deficit by increasing economic growth. A recent survey by Bloomberg News found that a large majority of surveyed economists (21 out of 26) stated that the Republican plan would widen the deficit over the next ten years and that the deficit increase would not be offset by increased economic growth. Michael Peterson, President and CEO of the fiscally conservative Peterson Foundation, stated that Congress “should not rely on overly optimistic economic assessments to pay for tax cuts. Banking on rosy projections of hypothetically higher growth is setting voters, and the economy, up for disappointment.”

The Republicans’ tax framework is a giveaway to the wealthy. It will not benefit the middle class and it will balloon the federal deficit. It is one more example of the debunked theory of “trickle-down economics” that George H.W. Bush correctly characterized as “voodoo economics.”

Trump and his allies have repeatedly lied about who would benefit from their devious “tax framework.” Trump has made the demonstrably false claim that the wealthy would not benefit from his plan. His Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has made the false claim that this scheme would “decrease the federal deficit.” Fred Upton has made the false claim that the tax framework would “deliver tax relief for middle-class families.”

We the people need to stop this disastrous tax scheme from becoming law.

Please contact Fred Upton and demand that he withdraw his support from Trump’s “tax cuts for the rich” plan.

Sandy Feldman, Lakeside

Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14

 Knowing that today’s homes burn faster than ever, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” as the official theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, October 8-14, 2017. Experts say you may have as little as two minutes (or even less) to safely escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

“Modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, all contribute to an increased rate at which home fires burn,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “These factors make home escape planning and practice critical.”

Meanwhile, a national survey recently conducted by NFPA shows that Americans continue to have many misperceptions around home escape planning and practice:

Less than half of Americans (48 percent) know that the correct components of a home fire escape plan include working smoke alarms, two ways out of each room and an outside meeting place.

Nearly one quarter of Americans (23 percent) do not know that each room in the home should have at least two exits.

Close to three in five Americans (57 percent) think that in a typical single-family home fire situation, once the smoke alarm sounds, the average person would have more than two minutes to escape safely.

“Home is the place people are at greatest risk of fire, but ironically it’s the place they feel safest from it,” said Carli. “That over-confidence may contribute to the public’s continued lack of awareness around home escape planning and practice.”

“Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” works to teach people about the true speed at which today’s home fires can spread, and the vital importance of home escape planning and practice in the event of one. A home escape plan includes: working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas; two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window; and a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

Home escape plans should be practiced by all members of the household twice a year.

“In a fire situation, a practiced home escape plan ensures that everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm sounds and how to use that time wisely,” Carli said.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and this year’s campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out,” visit firepreventionweek.org.

Michigan Farm Bureau encouraged by TAX REFORM Framework, but refinement needed

 Farm families working to pass the farm onto the next generation need certainty within a permanent tax-reform framework that includes continuation of cash accounting, lower capital gains taxes and full repeal of the Estate Tax.

Congressional efforts to write major tax reform legislation for the first time in 30 years was unveiled September 27, 2017 with the release of the TAX REFORM “Unified Framework for Fixing our Broken Tax Code.”

Calling it an important first-step, Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB) President Carl Bednarski, a Tuscola County farmer, said comprehensive tax reform is essential to addressing current financial challenges plaguing many Michigan farmers across almost all commodity sectors.

“With the high-risk nature of agriculture being so dependent upon unpredictable weather, fluctuating trade policies, volatile commodity prices and large upfront input costs, anything we can do to provide farmers long-term certainty, from a tax-reform standpoint is significant,” Bednarski said.

“A tax-reform framework that ultimately results in a fair and equitable tax system that encourages savings, investment and entrepreneurship are all vital ingredients to a successful and sustainable farm operation.”

Bednarski said Michigan Farm Bureau looks forward to working with Michigan’s Congressional delegation to refine the proposal to ensure that tax reform efforts ultimately results in lower effective tax rates. “We’re encouraged to see that this framework includes important principles such as lower tax rates for individuals who own businesses, elimination of the death tax and interest deductibility,” he said.

MFB National Legislative Counsel, John Kran said the tax reform framework is the result of negotiations between House and Senate leadership and the White House.

“While that is potentially good news, the House Ways and Means Committee has indicated that additional details will not be available until after passage of the FY-18 budget resolution,” he said.

According to Kran, the reconciliation instructions contained in the FY-2018 budget will set budget targets for tax reform and will ultimately determine if, and to what extent, tax reform will be revenue neutral. He said MFB will be working with Congress to ensure that meaningful reforms for agriculture are included in any comprehensive tax package.

“Farmers need permanent tax provisions like the continuation of cash accounting and lower capital gains taxes,” Kran said. “Agriculture is a high-risk, high-input, capital-intensive business and these provisions are essential for a successful agriculture.”

A calculated retirement

Calculating when you should retire requires evaluating all sources of your retirement income. There are many factors to consider, including your personal retirement goals. With multiple factors affecting your decision, sometimes it’s difficult to see the big retirement picture.

Social Security secures your today and tomorrow by offering a webpage of calculators to help you plan your Social Security retirement benefits. You can access our online calculators at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.html to get started planning.

Visit our calculator page and fine-tune your benefit estimate by using the Retirement Estimator if you have the required 40 work credits. Changes in your personal circumstances may cause changes in the number of years you work before you retire. Suppose you had planned to work an additional ten years before retiring, but now you are considering moving that up to the end of this year. How can you determine how much the difference in dollars in the monthly benefits will be? You can create one estimate with your projected earnings through this year and another including the next ten years. These are estimates, but they will give you an approximation for each retirement age to help you make your decision.

You can also use our Online Calculator if you don’t have 40 work credits. You need to enter all of your earnings manually, but you can project future earnings through your potential retirement date. Again, this is an estimate based on your future estimated earnings, but it provides you with planning numbers.

These three calculators will meet almost everyone’s pre-retirement planning needs. But, wait, there’s more. Use the Life Expectancy Calculator for a rough estimate of how long you might live. The Retirement Age Calculator determines your full retirement age and shows the differences when benefits are taken early. The Early or Late Retirement Calculator can show the differences in benefit amount if you file early or wait until later to start benefits. You can use the Benefits for Spouse Calculator to find out how your spouse’s benefit changes if taken early. You can access all of these at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.html.

Another great planning tool is the Social Security Statement.  Get yours today with a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

With our calculators doing all the number crunching, we make the big picture easier to see. The road to retirement is in the viewfinder and you have your resources ready. Now that you know which calculator to use, you can start figuring your best retirement option for a calculated retirement.

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.

Grumble, grumble, grumble

I sometimes struggle with complaining. “Negative rolls” coming all too easy – usually without any reasonable ideas for resolution – are general grumbling about the way things are. They don’t help the situation. They cast a dark cloud of discouragement, are contagious, defocus from thankfulness for the many things that aren’t going wrong, and they erode hope.

When Israel left Egypt they were singing “Bound for the Promised Land,” but when they got to the desert they were not singing “Home on the Range.” They were hungry and thirsty. There were no “deer and antelope playing” anywhere close to camp, “Discouraging words” were heard from their own mouths, and if there were any clouds in the skies there wasn’t any rain. They didn’t recognize it, but the main issue was not food and water, but their grumbling attitude that forgot all that God had already done for them.

Do we also demand of God, “What have You done for me recently?” They did. They thereby “put God to the test.” Part of the account can be found in Exodus 14.

Yet God mercifully stayed true to His promise to see them through their difficult times in spite of their hard hearts. At one point He even used the opportunity to give them an object lesson of His grace when Moses was told to strike the rock to produce water for the people. God stood as judge in that scene, and the rock was struck instead of the people, who deserved striking. That rock was a “type” or “pre-event picture” of Jesus Christ who bore our judgment when God struck Him for our sins – sins for which we deserved striking. (See 1 Corinthians 10:4)

Life here is not meant to be perfect; remember, with Christ as your Savior, you’re still “Bound for the Promised Land.” Meanwhile, stop grumbling.

BAN THE GUNS… There was another wake up call for America earlier this week when a man killed more than 50 people with an automatic weapon.

Mental health and motives not withstanding; it is a simple fact that the ready accessibility of automatic weapons to most anybody adds to the risk that more people will die from bullets sprayed on our streets than we slaughter on the highways.

Politicians have to get off the fence and write some laws that remove all semi-automatic weapons from the hands of all but the military and law enforcement. There is just no argument to allow the ownership of guns that can be simply converted into automatic weapons. That’s because there is no reason for a private citizen to own an automatic weapon except to kill people.

TRI-CITY RECORD HISTORY PENNED… Local historian Wade Lynch wrote the following history of the Tri-City Record and put it on his blog “You know you’re from Watervliet…”  According to Wade, the Record has been in this building since 121 years ago this week and has sported the name Tri-City Record for the past 33 years this month.


Mr. D. Pompey of Covert brought to town a seasoned newsman who was looking for a site to start a newspaper. That man was James Madison Hall known to his friends and family as Matt. He had by that time attained the ripe old age of twenty-three. J.M. Hall was born on February 7, 1859 in Lawrence, Michigan. His father passed away when he was 14 leaving him the responsibility of being the oldest of seven siblings. Picking up that task, he went to work for the Bangor Journal in Bangor, Michigan; later for a newspaper in South Haven and one in Nashville, Michigan. By 1875, he moved on to work at various papers in Texas returning to the Bangor Journal in 1879. Deciding to step out on his own he launched the Advance, a small paper in Bangor; eventually taking in a Professor Burket as a partner who bought him out and left Matt on to his next adventure.

That adventure would come in the form of setting up shop in a small wooden frame building located on lot 23 of Watervliet’s Main Street, and the first publications of the Weekly Record March 9, 1882. It’s doubtful anyone of the day would have imagined that paper still being published over 132 years later. Lot 23 sets on the northeast corner of the business section along Main Street. It has the distinction of being the home of the first building, a rooming house and store combination, built by the men of Smith & Merrick Company back in 1836 that would later lead in the business section of town. In 2014, the lot became the location of the Arclight Brewery.

This was not the first paper to be published in Watervliet. From the summer of 1876 to the late summer of 1877, Mr. J.M. Sheffield and Mr. J.F. Sheffield published the Watervliet Journal. Little to no information was ever recorded of them. They were lured to town from Indiana with the promise of 500 subscribers. That actual number was never reached and they left town after the first year. However, reprints of their columns show up in the “Remember When” section of the Watervliet Record during 1922-1923 giving some record of the 1876-1877 time periods.

In 1886, J.M. Hall purchased the vacant lot 28, constructed a building, and moved his business five lots south on Main Street. That building remained in use by a variety of different businessmen and women until the fall of 1972 when the owner at the time, Martha Styers, replaced it with a modern structure for Martha’s Beauty Salon & Yarn Shop. In 2006, it became home to wHAIRhouse Beauty Salon. Currently, Some Things Different gift shop operates from that site.

By 1889, J.M. Hall got restless and decided to move on. He sold the business to J. Theodore Johnson and his son, Leroy B. Johnson. The building and lot 28 where it rested he traded to Henry J. Ray for a parcel of farmland. A few years later, after disposing of the farm, Matt would joke over losing $250 in the transaction. Mr. Ray had received that much more of Mrs. E.P. Mather for her millinery shop in the sale of lot 28 than Matt had received from the sale of the farm. Mr. Hall’s move took him on to Gobleville in Van Buren County, Michigan, now called Gobles, where he started another paper called the News. It was there he would die of Bright’s disease on May 22, 1905 at the age of 47.

J.T. Johnson and his son Leroy moved the paper south and across to the west side of the street, to the second floor of R.E. Wigent’s store on lot 9. Many living will remember this building as the home of the Gambles store. It became the home to Back on the Rack in November 2012. The father son team only had the paper about a year. In 1890, J.T. Johnson sold his interest in the paper to Albert Newton Woodruff, a real estate and insurance man, ex-state legislator, and who would go on a few years later to be the first president of the Village of Watervliet when it was incorporated. Son Leroy followed suit within a month or two selling his interest in the paper to A.M. Hulson in April 1890. When A.N. Woodruff came into the picture, the name was shortened to The Record and publishing fell under the name A.N. Woodruff and Co. from March 7 to July 18, 1890. He also brought with him his real estate and insurance business. Mr. Hulson brought with him his jewelry business locating that in the front room. With the loss of his wife J