11-05-2020 Letters & Commentary

Subscriber renews Dear Editor, We love our local newspaper – thanks so much! Sandy Kraemer, Coloma

Attention Marines Dear Editor, The Coloma Marine Corps birthday party for 2020 has been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. In the past, funds from the annual party went to the local Toys for Tots program. This year, please provide a new unwrapped toy at local establishments that have Toys for Tots drop boxes to offset this loss. Hope to see you all next year. Semper fi. Leigh Shultz

Community forum on Racism, Justice & Law Enforcement in SW MI Dear Editor Bayer, The Berrien County ALPACT and Interfaith Action Group of SW MI are cosponsoring a community forum on Racism, Justice and Law Enforcement. This is one in a series of forums designed after the death of George Floyd to examine the impact of racism and justice in Southwest Michigan. Captain Randy Miller and Charmae Sanders will moderate and representatives from the Sheriff’s office, MSP and area law enforcement agencies will be on the panel to be held via Zoom. The event takes place on Tuesday, 11/10/2020 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. To register interested individuals can send an email to: alpactsouthwest@gmail.com. Audrey Lester/Secretary Berrien County ALPACT

Watervliet Public Schools Foundation For Excellence virtual meeting Dear Editor, On Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. the Watervliet Public Schools Foundation for Excellence is holding a virtual meeting open to the public. For all of those interested, email the Foundation at: wps-foundation@watervlietps.org, to let us know you will be attending the virtual meeting. You will then be sent a link to the virtual meeting site. The meeting will take place via Zoom. The agenda items covered will be, but not limited to the following: Meeting Code of Conduct; Introduction of Foundation Board Members and others; History and Purpose of the Foundation; and the “I’m In For Twenty” Campaign. Also, Watervliet Public Schools Superintendent Ric Seager will cover “Hot Spots” – what they are, where they are, and why they are needed; followed by a question and answer period prior to the conclusion of the meeting. The Watervliet Public Schools Foundation For Excellence is an independent non-profit organization working to raise, steward, and distribute resources to enrich the education of students in the Watervliet Public Schools. We look forward to your participation in this informative virtual meeting. Greg Krell

Coffee mug storms This day starts like many others. I brew my coffee and pour a cup into my favorite mug, the clear one. I like the clear one because as I add cream I can watch the billowing clouds erupt across the bottom of the cup. Then, following rules of thermodynamics too complicated for me to ever understand, the creamy clouds roll back and forth as I watch. It is a complicated, chaotic churning. It’s a coffee mug storm full of ever-changing currents. Sometimes that describes life. There’s no peace in a coffee mug storm and peace is hard to find in life’s real storms as well. The ingredients of life’s mixtures are, like the cream, not removable once added. They are there making their presence known, becoming a part of our experience until we find ways to stir them in. The flavor of life is never the same. If that sounds hopeless, it’s not. I like cream in my coffee, and maybe new discoveries of peace can result from new challenges to faith. Chaos is an enemy of peace; chaos creates fear, and fear is an enemy of faith. So how do we deal with it? Turning our eyes upward for help in the midst of chaos, there are some pretty neat promises in the Scriptures for those belonging to Christ. Colossians 3:15-17 reads, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (NASB) Go ahead and stir some of that into the mix. The flavor will improve.

Veterans and active duty military members can count on Social Security Every year on Veterans Day, we honor the people who risk their lives to protect our country. Our disability program is an important part of our obligation to wounded warriors and their families. Social Security is an important resource for military members who return home with injuries. If you know a wounded veteran, please let them know about our Wounded Warriors webpage. You can find it at www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors. The Wounded Warriors webpage answers many commonly asked questions and shares other useful information about disability benefits, including how veterans can receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. Benefits available through Social Security are different from those from the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. We apply our expedited process for military service members who become disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, regardless of where the disability occurs. Even active duty military who continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if they’re unable to work due to a disabling condition. Active duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of Social Security disability benefits. Although a person can’t receive Social Security disability benefits while engaging in substantial work for pay or profit, receipt of military payments should never stop someone from applying for disability benefits. We honor veterans and active duty members of the military every day by giving them the respect they deserve. Let these heroes know they can count on us when they need us most. They earned these benefits. Our web pages are easy to share on social media and by email with your friends and family. Please consider passing this information along to someone who may need it. 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.

Veterans Day: An opportunity to honor those who served The freedoms we enjoy as Americans that are enshrined in our Constitution and laws are preserved, protected and defended by the men and women in the military. Our rights to free speech, assembly and our recently held election may very well not be afforded to us if it were not for the service and sacrifice of the fewer than 1% of Americans who swear the oath and wear our nation’s colors in uniform. It is perhaps fitting, therefore, that we honor our military veterans on Nov. 11, so soon after our election. Veterans Day — as opposed to Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day, which respectively honor the fallen and those currently serving — honors those living among us who formerly served. Michigan is currently home to nearly 600,000 military veterans whose eras of service extend back from before World War II through to the current post-Global War on Terror era. Like many Southwest Michigan residents who have family that served, I am very proud of my father who dedicated his career to the Army and my brother who served in the Navy. We honor our veterans each year not only because they served, but also because of the sacrifices they made so that we might remain free. These men and women, in many cases, put their lives on hold, delaying their futures, to serve and fight. Dedicating only one day to them is not nearly enough to repay them for what most volunteered to do. Indeed, we can never fully repay them or their families for the time they gave. But Michigan has made significant strides over the past decade to help connect veterans with the benefits they have earned through their service and to take better care of those living in our state’s veterans homes. Founded in 2013 by former Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is the central coordinating agency, providing support, care, advocacy and service to veterans and their families. It can be reached at 800-MICH-VET or MichiganVeterans.com. I also provide a free guide on veterans benefits and services through my office and my website. The booklet provides information about obtaining veterans benefits and services available through federal, state and local agencies. Topics range from acquiring a home mortgage, education, employment and insurance to medical treatment and death benefits, as well as contact information for VA medical facilities in Michigan and veterans service organizations. You can download the guide for free at StateSenatorKimLaSata.com/publications/ and look for the Veterans Benefits & Services – For Michigan Veterans Who Served in the Military link. Our veterans have given much in service to our country and to defend liberty. Please join me on Nov. 11 to honor them and to let them know how much they mean to us. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan. gov.

Back to work I want to start my column by thanking every resident of our community, Republican, Democrat, and Independent, for participating in our democracy and ensuring their voices were heard. As of the time this was written, voter turnout in Michigan was set to surpass our 2008 turnout record. Vibrant democracies thrive when its citizens participate, and Berrien County’s citizens participated in a big way! When this term started in 2019, I don’t think anybody could have predicted how it would go. Unprecedented challenges have been met with unparalleled successes, but there is still so much more work to do to recover from this pandemic and build a healthy community and a healthy economy.

As the 100th Legislature concludes and as the 101st Legislature is set to begin, our work is cut out for us. Our friends and neighbors are still having trouble collecting their unemployment benefits, and small businesses are on the ropes.

The challenges we’ve faced in 2020 have been very real and very daunting, but our community is strong, and we will get through this crisis as we have done so many times before. Working together, we’re building a better Berrien County for every member of our community. 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.

The latest on the fight to end COVID-19 COVID-19 cases are once again surging. As of press time, the latest stats showed the six counties here in southwest Michigan with a 7-day positivity rate that ranged from 8 to 12.4%. We want to see that number below 5%. According to the state, seven of Michigan’s eight regions have moved up the scale the state uses to assess COVID-19 risk, including southwest Michigan. I continue to check in with our local hospitals, public health experts, and local leaders and they confirm that the number of hospitalizations rose almost everywhere. It’s no secret folks still need help. And I’ve been pushing for months for a bipartisan deal. Unfortunately, politics have gotten in the way. Last week, I cosponsored H.R. 14, the Commitment to Defeat the Virus and Keep America Healthy Act. The legislation would provide billions of dollars to go to vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, surge capacity, telehealth, additional testing, and tracing. The legislation includes more than 50 bipartisan bills strengthening the Strategic National Stockpile, ensuring access to mental health/telehealth services, domestic supply chains, and doubles down on our efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. Please, continue to remain vigilant. Use common sense. Wear your masks. We can beat this virus and restore a sense of hope and normalcy if we stick together. 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 Washing

SOME TURKEY… I was vaguely listening to COSY Radio, when I heard a “gobbler” and Paul Layendecker reminding listeners to enter the Record’s turkey contest.