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10-08-2020 Letters and Commentary

Write-in candidacy for Watervliet Twp. Supervisor declared

To Watervliet Township residents: I am declaring myself as a write-in candidate for the Watervliet Township supervisor position for the Nov. 3, 2020 election. There are two main questions that the citizens are asking: 1. Cost of south drain. 2. Our fire department issues. In which I hope to assist in finding solutions and give recommendations for changes. I wish I could meet everyone face to face but, due to COVID-19, at this time it is difficult. Please consider voting for me as a write-in candidate. Thank you, Richard Quinn

Likes small town pharmacy service Editor, I grew up in a small town in western New York State, with 59 in my high school graduating class in 1959. When shopping downtown, all business owners called you by your first name and were very friendly and helpful. Watervliet Pharmacy reminds me of my hometown, as Rama the owner always calls me by my first name. Also, a close friend of mine has been sick with COVID-19 and Rama called her by phone to check on her health. Don Oderkirk, Watervliet

Help restore Deer Forest! Dear Reader, My name is Blair Struble and I’m a 36-year-old who grew up about a mile from Deer Forest. I have fond memories as a child going there on field trips with Washington Elementary School, or just on a day trip with my family. Santa’s Summer House was my favorite part of the park! My Mother recently sent me a link that read ‘Deer Forest Closes’ and immediately my heart sank! This can’t be! Deer Forest is what put Coloma on the map. It brought thousands of visitors to the area every summer and I can’t imagine it no longer being there. After all, the sign going into Coloma used to read ‘Welcome to Coloma, Home of Deer Forest’! I would love the opportunity to turn Deer Forest back into the magical park that it once was; saving as much as the original structures, decorations and character pieces as possible. I have no doubt that the community and my family would help to bring Deer Forest back to its glory days. Having the fallow deer at the park is what a lot of the people came to see, and I would love to see a new herd on the property! My vision for the park is to keep the front area as original as possible. With a small ‘museum’ like area where photos from the original Deer Forest would be displayed and people could share their stories of visiting as a child. Restoring Story Book Lane and making Santa’s Summer House a magical Christmas wonderland! Possibly even installing another train to take visitors on a ride around the park! The rear of the property would make a beautiful setting for destination weddings and private events such as corporate parties / family reunions. Adding a couple pavilions and picnic tables would be ideal. Maybe even a mock chapel for wedding photo shoots! I would restore the Deer Forest sign to its original design that was displayed in the early 1950s keeping the nostalgic feel that so many of us remember! During the Holidays, the park would be turned into The Christmas Village at Deer Forest with thousands of lights, Harold Gale Santa displays, Nativity scenes and so much more! I understand that this is going to take a lot of work. A lot! However, given the opportunity, I would happily tackle it and do what it takes to bring this vision to life. Your support would mean the world to me! Sincerely, Blair M. Struble www.deerforest.org

We’re on the cusp of a COVID-19 relief bill Back in April, we all hoped that the COVID-19 pandemic would be over and done with by Easter, but sadly, we know that has not been the case. Now, it’s critical that Republicans and Democrats work together to deliver real relief for American families before Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s why I’ve worked day and night with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus on our March to Common Ground proposal that would actually help workers, families, schools, and small businesses weather this storm and get back on their feet. Unfortunately, purely partisan proposals like the HEROES Act 2.0 we voted on last week stand no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law by the president. If Congress is really serious about supporting folks through this difficult time, we cannot play politics and point fingers. Rather, we must be willing to reach across the aisle and get the job done for the millions of folks who are still hurting. I’m ready to head back to Washington at a moment’s notice to find the bipartisan sweet spot on a COVID relief bill. As a life-long Cubs fan, I’ve always been an optimist and I truly believe that – if we work together – we can get a deal across the finish line. 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).

Celebrating Three Oaks American Legion Post 204 Centennial I recently had the honor of speaking at the Three Oaks American Legion Post 204 Centennial Celebration alongside featured keynote speaker, recent Medal of Honor recipient and former Army combat medic James C. McCloughan of South Haven. It was truly a privilege to join in recognizing the post’s wonderful contributions to our veterans and to the community. The American Legion, and Post 204, are committed to serving as a voice and a resource for veterans across our state and nation, because a soldier’s duty doesn’t end when they come home. For too many veterans, transitioning back to civilian life can be tougher than life serving in uniform. That is why the legion is so important and why Southwest Michiganders should be proud of Post 204’s century of service. Post 204 serves the community in many ways, including providing clothing, food and financial support to the Battle Creek VA Medical Center and local homeless veterans. It also offers information and support to local veterans to help them receive the benefits they have earned through their service to the country. Additionally, the post participates in the annual American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Sale to help veterans, hosts a Memorial Day service each year at Forest Lawn Cemetery to honor fallen veterans, and hosts a Veterans Day dinner for all veterans and their spouses to honor them for their service. Beyond serving our veterans, Post 204 is also active in our community, engaging with residents to raise awareness and support for veterans. This is a small, but important list of the immeasurable contributions of Post 204, and on behalf of everyone in the 21st Senate District, I thank them for all that they do to help improve the lives of our veterans and their families. America is an exceptional place, not just for the freedoms we enjoy, but because of the brave souls who served, fought and died in defense of our liberty and to preserve our way of life. Not even a global pandemic can stop us from honoring and remembering their service and sacrifice. It is that tireless spirit of service that the American Legion embodies and that has driven Post 204 to serve Southwest Michigan for over 100 years.

What’s next Last week the Supreme Court issued a ruling that Governor Whitmer did not possess the authority under the Emergency Management Act of 1976 to declare states of emergency and disasters as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic without the approval of the Legislature. The Supreme Court ruled that no one person, regardless of party, should have unilateral and unchecked authority indefinitely. This ruling was a huge win for our normal democratic process and will allow the people of our state to have much needed voice in the decisions we make to combat this virus. As we move forward, it’s important to remember that this virus is still real, serious, and there is a lot of work left to help our state recover from this pandemic. Over the past seven months, I’ve listened to thousands of people in our community whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by the state’s response to this crisis. They expect and deserve better results, more transparency, and decisions based on science, not politics. As we move forward, I remain committed to working with the governor, my colleagues, medical experts, and local health departments to get this right and deliver a well-thought-out response. We’ve proven with auto no-fault reform, the return to learn plan, our recent budget agreement, and our bipartisan criminal justice reforms that we can work together to benefit the lives of the people we serve. As the Legislature is set to return to Lansing this week, I remain committed to working with all of my colleagues to deliver on a real and meaningful response to this pandemic. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.

Choices It was 1747. Robert and Elizabeth Wood came to this side of the Atlantic from England to settle in what is now Prince Edward Island. The reason for the couple’s decision to brave the wide ocean journey has been lost to unwritten history. That decision, however, impacted many generations to come, and created a legacy of adventure that has stuck with the Woods through the years. It’s the decisions that were made in the dusty archives of family histories that make the study of genealogy so interesting. And when we realize that single decisions do create whole new life pathways and even impact generational pathways, we start looking to better understand how our predecessors thought and how they made those choices. We can see how single decisions can change history in an example from the Exodus. When the people of Israel were scouting out the lands that they were to ultimately inherit, they sent ahead a number of recon spies. All but two came back with a report that discouraged the people from going forward. The current residents were huge and mean, and the spies felt like grasshoppers compared to them. The two that brought an encouraging report, appealing to faith in God’s ability to help them conquer and claim God’s promises, were shouted down. The choice was made to retreat. History tells the rest. That one choice cost the people 40 years of wandering in the Sinai desert. God took care of them, true, but their decision had consequences. The account is found in Numbers 13:1-33 and in Deuteronomy 1:22-40. Our choices make huge differences too. The choice of career, job, spouse or no spouse, friends, vacation spot, place we live, what we believe. Everything has interrelated consequences that impact us and many unborn future generations. We can take seriously the warning to “choose wisely”. Be careful. It’s not just about you.

Social Security can help with your Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) If you rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits and want to start working or return to work, we can help. A Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) is a rule under SSI to help people with disabilities return to work. If you receive SSI or could qualify for SSI after setting aside income or resources so you can pursue—or achieve—a work goal, you could benefit from a PASS. How does a PASS help someone return to work? We base SSI eligibility and payment amounts on income and resources (things of value that the individual owns). PASS lets a disabled individual set aside money and things he or she owns to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal. The objective of the PASS is to help disabled individuals find employment that reduces or eliminates SSI or SSDI benefits. You can read all about the PASS program at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-11017.pdf. The plan must be in writing, and Social Security must approve it beforehand. To start, contact your local Social Security office for an application (Form SSA-545-BK) or you can access the form at www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-545.html. There are many people who can help you write a PASS, including a Ticket to Work service provider, a vocational counselor, or a relative. Social Security’s Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients who want to work and progress toward financial independence. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. Please call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to learn more about the Ticket program. Your job isn’t just a source of income — it can be a vehicle to independence or a beginning to fulfilling your dreams. Let Social Security’s PASS help you achieve your goals. Vonda Van Til 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.

MORE FAKE NEWS… Are you kidding me? Man, oh man… what can be said that would replace the 4-day Trump saga that we were recently offered to watch (fake news?). Friday’s news was President Trump was tested positive for COVID-19. The news could have been a day old, as the President made a campaign stop in Wisconsin Thursday evening. What we missed was replayed ad nauseam by all the TV and radio outlets.

He left the White House Friday for the Walter Reed Military Hospital, just minutes away by helicopter.

Saturday was bulletin after bulletin of “news” on the President’s medical condition. Which was not much. Staff Doctors gave the basic non-news news; the President had some tests taken, but we cannot comment on the results if any. I can’t comment on the non-news from earlier as well.

Sunday news talk shows were a dither as usual. The talking heads tossed out conjecture, mixed with opinions, as to what the non-results would mean to the upcoming presidential election. And who – Trump or Biden – would benefit.

President Trump escaped the hospital grounds via a motorcade that slowly paraded him around the neighborhood. It could be conjectured that it wasn’t a spur of the moment, unplanned trip, as the press corps and cameramen where on hand to capture the historic moment.

By dusk’s waning light, there was more conjecture around that suggested that the President’s symptoms might be more severe than they seemed if he had to stay for anytime in the hospital. Those prognostications quickly lost steam as on Monday it was announced that the President was returning to the White House Monday evening, via the same helicopter.

Sure enough the President boarded the helicopter at 6:30 p.m. and 14 minutes or so later he was mounting the steps to the White House. He stood on the porch for a few minutes, saluted the departing helicopter and took off his mask and put it into his pocket.

Any hope of any instant change in his blasé attitude on the pandemic was dashed by that gesture. Top government officials and aides, staffers, family, security and anyone else had already exposed to the same virus the President has.

He tweeted earlier Monday to his followers to not be afraid of the virus. If there could be any hope of leadership from the Trump presidency to deliver the country from the coronavirus, it was dashed then. Dashed by that remarkable action of taking off his mask and entering the White House risking exposure to all therein, and by extension risking us all.

Tuesday morning dawned as if anything had not happened, except some 4,000 Americans had died of the coronavirus as the press was hot on the tail of the President who got a packaged weekend off from scrutiny by hiding out at the nation’s top military hospital.

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