10-26-2017 Letters and Commentary


Harding’s accomplishes mission

Dear Editor,

I don’t have a soft part in my heart for Harding’s as some do. Their service is good for sure as long as they stay in town.

When I came home from the Navy in Feb. of 1963, Harding’s was breaking ground in Watervliet. At that time there were four grocery stores on Main Street, two small ones and two larger ones, Levertons and Wiesers. All the stores had their own personalities. Catholics would go to one, Protestants to the others mostly.

I thought to myself, there goes Main Street. And sure enough one by one the other stores dropped like flies. The two larger ones held out for a while but soon they closed.

It’s almost like Harding’s said “mission accomplished,” we’ve closed all the small stores now we can leave town. Like in Watervliet and Eau Claire.

I hope the one across the street from you stays. I love that place.

Vince Pratt

Trump tax plan is a scam

Dear Editor,

Donald Trump and his Congressional Republican accomplices are attempting to deceive the American people with a series of lies about their disastrous “tax reform” plan.

Trump has claimed that his plan would not benefit the wealthy. This is clearly a lie. Many analyses by non-partisan tax policy experts, including the Tax Policy Center, the Economic Policy Institute, and Americans for Tax Fairness, have thoroughly debunked this claim. The reports by each of these organizations clearly demonstrate that Trump’s plan would primarily benefit very wealthy people.

Trump has also claimed that his plan would primarily benefit the middle class. This is clearly not true. The Tax Policy Center found that households in the middle of the income distribution would receive an average tax cut of around $260, or 0.5 percent of after-tax income. Many lower middle-class taxpayers would actually see their taxes increase rather than decrease.

A cornerstone of the Trump tax plan is a drastic reduction of the corporate tax rate, from 35% to 20%. A recent report from Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers claimed that this corporate tax cut would increase the average worker’s pay by $4,000 to $9,000 a year. Many economists have demonstrated that this is a totally bogus claim. The non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated that: “The evidence indicates that the bulk of the benefits from a corporate rate cut will go to those at the top, with only a small share flowing to low-and-moderate income working families.” The report also demonstrates that a corporate tax cut that increases the federal deficit, as the Trump plan surely would, is very likely to harm middle class families.

Trump’s tax plan is a giveaway to the rich. It will not benefit middle class individuals or families, and may very well cause them harm.

Please contact Congressman Fred Upton and demand that he stop supporting this destructive, discriminatory, deceitful scam.

Larry Feldman, Lakeside

Help save the Sidetrack Cafe

The Sidetrack Café was established in March of 1988 by Marianne and Lynn Parker. This business has been an icon on Main Street in the Watervliet community for as a long as most can remember. It has been the conversation and gathering spot for the Watervliet community for decades and remains so today. This business is unique in that it has had the same family operating it since day one.

Now it needs help to continue to stay a community landmark!

In the early 1990’s, under the ownership of Mr. and Mrs. Parker, the establishment was remodeled with a new interior design, as well as a new façade adding small town charm with its iconic train motif, personalized customer cups, as well as personalized customer service.

A rich history and lasting impact

The establishment itself is recalled as a restaurant in the community dating as far back as the 1940’s when it was known as the Midget.

The Sidetrack Café has been a significant influence in molding the character of the downtown, drawing people in with its warm and homey appeal. Character shaped through hard work and dedication and molded from its familiarity and dependability within the community that it will always be there. The Sidetrack Café draws people from all over the region to downtown Watervliet with the unique train logo design and the motto of get sidetracked at the Sidetrack Café in Watervliet Michigan.

The recession of 2007 caused many small businesses around the country to close their doors due to various factors such as economic hardships. The Café carried on. It too had its share of struggles with less and less business. The business continued at the expense of foregoing routine maintenance and upkeep.

More than 200,000 small businesses struggled and some vanished entirely between early 2008 and 2010, the period covering the Great Recession, according to Census figures which illustrate the depth of the country’s economic plight.

Sadly, the Sidetrack Café was closed recently due to financial hardships. The closing had a tremendous impact on the entire community sending shock waves throughout the region. With the support of family and the Watervliet community rallying behind her, Michelle Edmonds, one of the daughters of the original owners stepped up to take on the resurrection.

Today, the Sidetrack Café is under the new ownership of Michelle and Dave Edmonds. Michelle has worked at the business for nearly thirty years first under her mother Mrs. Parker, then her sisters Diana and Mindy. Michelle’s dedication to this venture clearly displays how much the little Café is near and dear to her heart, the family, the community and the hearts of many.

How to help preserve and improve this community icon

Unbeknownst to Michelle the building requires much more than just a paint job, new carpet and equipment. The building itself faces major electrical, roofing and mechanical issues which must be addressed immediately. They are asking for help in solving major issues that threaten the life of the business.

If left unrepaired, the Sidetrack will be forced to close its doors. As they approach a thirty-year mark of operations, this business which has been referred to as an icon by many, is seeking help with the goal of restoring the building.

They are partnering with the City of Watervliet on this campaign who is already stepping up to support the Sidetrack in a major way. Anyone interested can help support the Sidetrack by donating and sharing the campaign with family and friends. All donations are tax deductible.

To give by check please send your donation to: City of Watervliet, PO Box 86, Watervliet, MI 49098. Write “Save the Sidetrack” on the check memo line.

Diana Householder

Red Cross calls for blood donors before the holiday season

 With the busy holiday season approaching, the American Red Cross encourages donors to give blood now to help ensure a sufficient supply for patients this winter.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, many regular donors delay giving due to holiday activities and travel. This often decreases the amount of donated blood available for patients. More donations are needed in the weeks leading up to the holidays to help stock the shelves for patients.

Give patients in need another reason to be thankful – make an appointment to give blood. Download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

On Wednesday, November 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., American Red Cross is holding a blood donation opportunity at their location in Saint Joseph, 3838 Niles Road.

Picturing history

During a recent visit to an area hospital, I noticed some pictures displaying the hospital’s “roots.” The original building had been a hotel. It became a hospital that grew to what it is today. At each step it was possible to look back at the historic context. Old cars in some of the images gave hints as to their time periods.

Historic images help us appreciate origins and processes of growth. Looking back helps us look forward to new possibilities.

We each also contribute to personal picturing history. Our experiences and how we respond to them picture our history to those around us and to those who we influence for years to come. Just as the hospital images prompt us to “remember when…”, so our lives do the same. It’s unavoidable.

Sometimes we are tempted to ask why certain things happen. We seldom get an answer, and maybe we don’t really expect an explanation. But what happens to us may not be just for us. It may be for someone else, and as they “picture” our history they can be encouraged to press on their own path.

A section in the Bible describes this imaging process: In Paul’s second letter to the believers in Corinth he says: “…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:2-4, NASB)

When God pictures our history, He doesn’t see just us. He also sees those who will benefit from our growing experience of His grace in our lives.

How did they do it without computers?

More than 85 percent of American homes have some sort of computer. Millions of people rely on computers daily to access, formulate, and store information. People use computers for everything from sharing family pictures to shopping to banking and paying bills. But, we haven’t always been able to count on the convenience of the computer to make our lives easier.

How did Social Security, one of the world’s largest “bookkeeping operations,” manage to keep records of our nation’s workers before we had computers? How did we match workers with their earnings?

We used a process called the “Visible Index” that used tiny, bamboo strips wrapped in paper that were inserted into metal panels. The panels could be flipped back and forth to view the information on each side. Clerks had to look at each strip to find the exact Social Security number for a specific person. In 1959, when Social Security began converting information to microfilm, there were 163 million individual strips in the Visible Index.

The workers’ names were filed alphabetically by surname using a phonetic pronunciation code to ensure consistent filing. How did the staff meet the challenge? By knowing the system. Clerks familiar with the Index could locate a specific record within 60 seconds.

Back in 1937, there were only about 26 million American workers; but today, Social Security processes 260 million worker’s annual wage reports. We have changed over time to meet the challenges of recording worker’s earnings correctly. Today, you don’t need a clerk or a visit to a local Social Security office to check your own information. That’s right. You can check yours now by using your existing my Social Security account or by setting one up at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Changing to meet challenges is just one of the ways we secure your today and tomorrow. You can read more about the history of Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/history/index.html.

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.

GREAT SEASON… Wow what a great season our Tri-City football teams had. The Panthers and the Hartford Indians both made it to the playoffs and the Comets just missed it.

The Coloma Comets actually had several games that could’ve gone either way. Then they had to beat the undefeated Panthers at their last game of the season and that was not to be.

All our teams should be proud. Good luck Indians and Panthers in the playoffs this weekend.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN… This coming Tuesday is Halloween. Drivers please are careful out there, as all the little goblins and other critters are running around in the dark in costume trick or treating.

While this is the only holiday where children are encouraged to go up to strangers and ask for candy we all have to be on our guard to keep them safe.

Even so, it is a happy and fun time; please don’t let it become a tragedy. Look out for all the youngsters having a great time.

There are events going on in many places where kids can trick-or-treat safely including downtown Watervliet from 3 to 5 on Halloween, this Saturday at Halloween in the Park in Coloma and also on Halloween there’s a Woodland Terrace senior living home on Red Arrow in Coloma where there are treats for the visiting children.

MONDAY SURGERY… Well I didn’t make that hernia class at Lakeland Hospital last week, because I was already scheduled for surgery this Monday.

With some of the other health issues I’ve been dealing with the past couple years, including heart valve replacement and diabetes, the bulge in my tummy had to wait.

But with the encouragement and confidence of Lakeland surgeon Dr. Clancy, I got it taken care of this week. Many thanks to Dr. Clancy and the Lakeland staff for the great care.

I will admit that taking the class would have been the better option but as Dr. Clancy explained hernias do not get better on their own and need to be addressed in a timely manner. I suspect that would’ve been the bottom line of the class that was recently offered.

FALL BACK… Don’t forget daylight saving time ends at 3 a.m. next Sunday, November 5, 2017.  Turn your clocks back an hour at bedtime Saturday night and you should be fine Sunday morning having gotten an extra hour of sleep.

If you’re one of those that want to spend the extra hour (lost when daylight saving time engaged back in March), go ahead. Have I confused you yet?

More folks I talk to would just as soon not have the daylight saving time at all. They figure there’s no advantage that outweighs the confusion of changing the time of day, or sunrise, or sunset. While it may have benefitted the farmers in some way, I doubt the dairy cows or draft horses ever noticed the difference.

I’ve heard the ancient Greeks (and Romans) had some semblance of daylight saving time. This makes some sense since they didn’t have electric lights for streetlights, and olive oil lamps were expensive. Folks went to bed when the sun set and got up when the sun rose. Without late night TV and the cell phone there was nothing to do but hit the sack.

Now we all live with a 24-hour clock… There’s hardly any town that doesn’t have a business open round the clock (besides hospitals and police stations). Some places, like Las Vegas, New York and LA don’t ever close.

It might be that daylight saving time may be a thing of the past.


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