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10-10-2019 Letters and Commentary

RULE IS STILL THE SAME… some things never change. That includes requiring a signature on Letters to the Editor. That doesn’t mean the policy won’t be updated to adjust to a situation that is new and the policy needs changing for fairness and clarity. This past year I’ve published a letter without a name that I probably shouldn’t have. I published it without much thought as someone else vouched for the writer. Months later I received a hand typed letter that was “just plain distasteful” and the name on it was something I was pretty sure was not the writer’s. I got another unsigned letter a couple weeks ago. As I usually do, I left it in my “to do” box for a couple weeks to give the writer an opportunity to stop by or call and ask why the letter was not published. Then I shredded it. Written six years ago this week, here’s that policy: UNSIGNED LETTER WON’T BE PUBLISHED…. I have a Letter to the Editor on my desk with some points about coaching behavior that I would like to print. But I won’t. The letter writer left out a name and contact information without which I cannot publish it. As it reads on the masthead at the bottom of this page under the header Letters to the editor… The Tri-City Record welcomes all letters to the editor. Letters should be typed. Letters are subject to editing for length and content, and will be published at the discretion of the editor. All letters must be signed and include a phone number and address so that authorship may be verified. Letter authorship identity may be withheld by request, at the discretion of the editor. The publication deadline for letters is 5 p.m., on Monday for that week’s issue. Over the years I’ve received many unsigned letters to the editor; most have been personal attacks on individuals without any public merit. Others have been illegible or so nonsensical that no amount of editing would make them suitable for publication. Without benefit of a name and contact information the decision not to publish is easy to make. It is the select few (perhaps two or 3) that have been published unsigned after I was able to talk with the writer and determined the validity of the issue and the identity of the writer. As it stands now for the unsigned letter here on my desk, it will be consigned to the shredder once this Kolumn goes to press. It has some valid points about the necessity of coaches giving a good example of fair play to the team and the dangers of “winning at any cost” to the same. Printing it unsigned would be no example of fair play either.

Our lifetime commitment

Social Security is here with information, tools, and benefits to help you secure today and tomorrow. Our journey together begins when you’re born and get your Social Security card. It continues when you get your first job and follows you through your entire career, marriage, and retirement. Our commitment is to be with you throughout life’s journey. Our promise extends to surviving family members when a worker dies. Some of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward survivors benefits for your family. In the event of your death, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors benefits; these include widows and widowers, divorced widows and widowers, children, and dependent parents. The amount of benefits your survivors receive depends on your lifetime earnings. The higher your earnings are, the higher their benefits will be. The value of your survivors benefit may be more than the value of your individual life insurance. By making sure your earnings are posting correctly, you are passing down protections to your survivors, just as your parents did before you. You can do this by: Creating a personal “my Social Security” account at – Your personal my Social Security account is secure and gives you immediate access to your earnings records, Social Security benefit estimates, and a printable Social Security Statement. Visiting our Benefits Planner for Survivors to help you better understand you and your family’s Social Security protection as you plan for your financial future at Checking your Social Security Statement to see an estimate of survivors benefits we could pay your family at myaccount. It also shows an estimate of your retirement and disability benefits and provides other important information. For more information, please visit or read our publication Survivors Benefits at You can also help us spread the word by sharing this information with your family and friends. 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

Hopeful grief

As we get older, we unfortunately have more opportunity to attend wakes, visiting hours and funerals. What to say at a funeral to try to be an encouragement to those left behind? It’s hard to find right words. We may hear, “Well, he’s in a better place now.” or, “God wanted another angel in heaven.” Well, we certainly hope he is in a better place, but we can be pretty sure that the deceased do not morph into angels. Even medieval art doesn’t support that urban myth. Even statements like, “She looks so peaceful now,” seem a little pointless. Yet we need to remember that those pained statements are honest efforts to encourage, and we should accept them as such at face value. Funerals are not easy. There are funerals where the music drones on in low tones hanging in the air like floating black curtains, and there are funerals where there is an upbeat sense of hope and promise. Funerals filled with bright memories and lively conversations. What makes the difference? A solid confidence in God’s promises, especially those related to redemption and resurrection of believers in Jesus Christ – that makes all the difference in the world. Death is either about the unknown or it’s about the hope. When there is no foundation in God’s Word, no assurance of His forgiveness, there is no solid hope of eternal life. We grab for straws and feel lost. When it’s about hope, we can confidently remember promises like those found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 about the future resurrection, reunions and eternal life, and apply it right here, right now in this sad time! There is grieving yes, but not without hope, not without solid expectation of good to come! God’s faithfulness is better than a better place, higher than the angels, and the foundation for peace in the midst of loss.

2020 Miss Teen Coloma Pageant

Anyone interested in running for the title of 2020 Miss Teen Coloma will need to attend the meeting being held on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Coloma FOP Lodge, 3470 Angling Rd. in Coloma at 2:00 p.m. Applicants must be a female, 13 years of age but not more than 15 years of age by the date of the pageant, a resident of Coloma, and currently enrolled in school or being home schooled. There is a $20 non-refundable deposit, which is due at the meeting, to cover the cost for a t-shirt and any pageant props (if applicable). A parent or legal guardian must be present for this meeting. The pageant will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 3:00 p.m. in the Coloma High School Auditorium which is located at 300 W. St. Joseph Street, Coloma. Questions can be directed to Rayleen Hart-Wilson via Facebook Messenger or by email to

Free milk! Holy Cow 4-H

October 6-12 is National 4-H Week. The theme of this year’s National 4-H Week is Inspire Kids to Do, which highlights how 4-H encourages kids to take part in hands-on learning experiences in areas such as health, science, agriculture and civic engagement. The positive environment provided by 4-H mentors ensures that kids in every county and parish in the country from urban neighborhoods to suburban schoolyards to rural farming communities are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles and are empowered with the skills to lead in life and career. To promote agricultural and civic engagement Van Buren County 4-H is partnering with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Hood Farms Family Dairy, Wal-Mart (Paw Paw and South Haven) and Tractor Supply Company (Paw Paw and South Haven) to distribute 1,200 gallons of milk on Saturday, October 12. Holy cow!! Stop by TSC in Paw Paw (9 a.m.–noon) or TSC in South Haven (10 a.m.–noon) to get a FREE gallon of milk. Milk will be distributed on a first come first serve basis, limit one gallon per household. Many people think 4-H is just for kids who live on farms or those interested in raising and selling animals – but that’s not true! Offering a diverse range of topics and interest areas, 4-H is the largest youth development organization in Michigan. Van Buren County 4-H still offers the traditional 4-H projects such as livestock; however, one of the largest draws is outdoor activities – shooting sports, backpacking, camping and so much more. 4-H provides fun, educational opportunities that empower young people with skills to lead for a lifetime and become the foundation for future success. After all, true leaders aren’t born: they’re grown! For more information on Van Buren County 4-H contact Janice Zerbe, Extension Educator with Michigan State University Extension, 269-657-8213 or

Girl Scouts to celebrate Day of the Girl

The premier leadership organization for girls is proud to celebrate International Day of the Girl, a day designated by the United Nations as a day to highlight and address the needs girls have and the challenges they face, while promoting the empowerment of girls. Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan (GSHOM) received a grant from Girl Scouts of the USA to celebrate Global Action Days throughout 2019, with the main focus being International Day of the Girl. A girl-led committee in each of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan’s five regions has spent the last eight months planning how they would like to commemorate this day. Throughout Saturday, Oct. 12, and Sunday, Oct. 13, girls will gather in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Adrian, and Ypsilanti to celebrate together in unique ways. In Kalamazoo, girls will celebrate with the theme, “What does it mean to be a girl today?” Participants will have the opportunity to explore a Hall of Fame of influential women, participate in community hands-on art projects, and make SWAPS. Participants are asked to bring a donation of feminine hygiene products to be donated to the YWCA in Kalamazoo. The event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 13 from 2–4 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Regional Center, 601 W. Maple Street in Kalamazoo. Registration is required, and is available at “The opportunity to celebrate International Day of the Girl in such a unique way is empowering for our girls,” said Brenna Smith, Communications Manager for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. “The girls in each region chose how girls in their region might want to celebrate a day all about girls and the intrinsic power within each of them. What a special opportunity for girls to plan their own experiences.” To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, visit

Donate blood with the Red Cross to help those fighting cancer

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to give blood or platelets to provide hope and healing to patients fighting cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, and more than 268,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Cancer patients undergoing surgery and chemotherapy may require red blood cell or platelet transfusions. In fact, more than half of all platelets collected by the Red Cross are used by patients with cancer. Donors of all blood types especially platelet donors and those with type O blood are needed to ensure a stable supply for cancer patients and others this fall. Appointments can be made by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. As a thank-you, those who give blood or platelets during the month of October will automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five $500 gift cards redeemable at hundreds of merchants, courtesy of Tango Card. Terms apply; see Upcoming blood donation opportunities Oct. 16-31: Wednesday, 10/16/2019: 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Caretel Inns of Lakeland, 3905 Lorraine Path, St. Joseph Thursday, 10/31/2019: 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Celebration Cinema, 1468 Cinema Way, Benton Harbor

LaSata applauds MEDC grants

State Sen. Kim LaSata applauded two Niles businesses for being awarded Match on Main program grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC). Traphouse 24, a new gym in downtown Niles, and Niles Brewing Company were each awarded a $25,000 grant through the program. Niles was one of only nine communities in the state that were awarded more than $260,000 in program grants. “This is an exciting announcement that will help make Niles that much more of an attractive place for business, residents and visitors alike,” said LaSata, “I appreciate the MEDC’s continued support of Southwest Michigan.” According to the MEDC, Match on Main is a new pilot program launched last March aimed at supporting small businesses looking to expand or establish themselves in a Michigan Main Street community. Niles was one of two communities chosen at the time to participate in the pilot program. For more information on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit

Homeless youth face unique risks, require unique solutions

Over 34,000 kids in Michigan’s K-12 schools are homeless. Of those, over 4,800 are “unaccompanied youth,” meaning they are not in physical custody of a parent or guardian. According to a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy, these youth are even more vulnerable to serious threats facing the total homeless population including sexual exploitation, untreated mental health disorders and physical victimization. To help people who work with youth, the League has built a new tool that allows users to examine the demographics of the homeless population and determine the number of unaccompanied youth in their Intermediate School District. The report recommends strengthening the network of resources tailored to the unique needs of people between the ages of 12 and 24—most homeless programs cater either to families or single adults. “Drop-in centers are more informal settings where youth can access food, showers, laundry and personal hygiene supplies in a place that understands the challenges facing people age 12-24,” said Parker James, Kids Count Policy Analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “These places are able to help youth meet basic needs, complete school work and talk to service providers about challenges they’re facing. But centers like this aren’t available in most communities. We want to encourage community leaders to create spaces where youth feel prioritized—and existing structures like hospitals, libraries and community centers could all be used for programming like this.” Because 44 percent of youth facing homelessness reported having stayed in jail, prison or a juvenile detention center at some point, the report also recommends specific reentry programming for justice-involved youth. “Youth who’ve been in the child welfare or juvenile justice system are among the most likely to experience homelessness,” James said. “They’re often unprepared to live independently and they don’t have social supports. We’re seeing some great programs around the state that are helping kids transition out of the justice system. The Michigan Youth Reentry Model is a really effective program being used at the Department of Health and Human Services and in Oakland County. We’d love to see county courts across the state use this model to help justice-involved youth get the support they need.” The report also points to the state’s current affordable housing crisis and its impact on youth age 24 and under, who average a monthly income of $168. “Affordable housing really is at the core of all homelessness issues in Michigan, and we need to create a dedicated funding source for the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund,” James added. “And based on what we’re seeing in this report, we need to make sure to prioritize housing projects that support youth age 24 and under, particularly programming that helps support sustained independence.” Over half of unaccompanied youth under age 24 accessing homeless services identify as Black or African American. Transgender and gender-nonconforming youth and youth who identify as American Indian or Alaska Native are also overrepresented.


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