11-05-2020 Salary increases and stipends approved for some Hartford Schools personnel; board continu

THESE KUTE KIDS ARE… Jack Metz (left) and his twin, Xander Metz; both 7 years old. They are the sons of John Metz & the late Heather Yetzke-Metz, St. Joseph. Their proud grandparents are John & Marge Yetzke, Bainbridge Twp. and Donna & the late Bob Metz from Baroda. Their mother taught 5th grade at Watervliet North School; they are in 1st grade.

Salary increases and stipends approved for some Hartford Schools personnel; board continues to meet in-person with COVID-19 protocol

By Jon Bisnett The Hartford School Board continues to meet in person with masks and social distancing, while live-streaming to the general public for the October business meeting of Oct. 19, 2020. Finance Normal monthly bills were paid. Business Manager Rebecca Drake noted untypical disbursements, as final billing from Maner Costerisan for the annual financial audit and Brown Locksmith bill for the rekeying of several Middle School exterior doors were included. Personnel Fred Smyser, 5th Grade teacher at Redwood Elementary, has given his resignation. The Board also heard and approved a request for an unpaid leave of absence by Angie Sumners through the end of March 2021, during which time Sumners will be completing her student teaching to become certified as an elementary teacher. Destini Mireles has been hired and will act as a Middle School Special Education Paraprofessional. Business The Board was presented with attendance data from each building and reconfirmed the district’s extended learning plan. Recent legislation requires review and approval on a monthly basis. Acting on the recommendation of the finance committee and Superintendent Andrew Hubbard, the board approved salary increases for non-HEA professional staff that had their salaries/contracts frozen at the start of the contract year. Additionally, the board announced a 1.5% pay increase for all Edustaff employee’s that are working in the district including custodians and secretaries. The board also approved a 1-year contract extension with the HEA (teachers union). Standard level increases apply. Again, acting on the recommendation of the finance committee, the board voted unanimously to approve a one-time stipend in a amount equivalent to regular 2-week pay as acknowledgement for additional work performed outside of normal contractual obligations due to COVID-19, loss of annual vacation leave, and additional work hours in evenings and weekends planning and implementing the district’s Virtual Academy for each building. The stipends are to be paid with federal COVID-19 funds as suggested by the school auditing firm since the work was directly due to COVID-19 pandemic, thus having no effect on the general fund budget. Business Manager Drake, Technology Director Rob Sheffey, Curriculum Director Bradley Geesaman, and Superintendent Hubbard all received stipends. Bond interest payments were approved for the 2014 Refunding Bonds and 2015 Construction Bonds. The 1st reading of recommended policy updates from Neola was read into record. Operating under a recommendation by Thrun Law, the District’s law firm, due to the recent Michigan Supreme Court decision limiting the Governor’s authority, approved a motion to ratify all board decisions made at all meetings held from May 1, 2020 until today’s date. The board also approved a resolution to utilize electronic participation at school board meetings, as necessary and in approved circumstances, in compliance with the current exceptions to the Open Meetings Act. Board report Trustee Ginny Rice expressed her appreciation for the new football coach, Tom Matthews, helping supply workers for the rocket football home games. Rice remarked that it was good to see our varsity players in their jerseys working the chains and scoreboard. It means a lot to the younger players seeing the high school players support their games. Superintendent Report Superintendent Andy Hubbard reported that although he was initially disappointed with the lack of media coverage at the Book Vending Machine unveiling, Public Relations Director Ally Sinclair was able to persuade WSBT 22, the CBS affiliate in South Bend, to come do a video segment about the new machines. The spot has been picked up by dozens of CBS affiliates across the country, including the CBS Sunday Morning Show. Redwood Principal Chris Quist has received multiple calls from school districts across the country inquiring about Hartford’s machines. Hubbard concluded with a sincere thank you to all district employees for their continued efforts to make this a safe and productive start to the school year.

Food Drive in Coloma Nov. 14

New Hope Community Church of Watervliet is holding a Food Drive on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020 at Harding’s Friendly Market in Coloma. New Hope will be collecting non-perishable food items from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to benefit HOPE Resources Food Pantry.

Spectrum Health Lakeland earns Chest Pain Ctr. accreditation

All three hospitals at Spectrum Health Lakeland were granted accreditation to the Chest Pain Center by Corazon, Inc., a national leader in services for the cardiovascular specialty. Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph was granted accreditation with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) services, formerly known as angioplasty with stent. Lakeland hospitals in Niles and Watervliet were granted accreditation without PCI services. Through a rigorous process, the accreditation proves that the programs at Spectrum Health Lakeland, have met the Corazon Accreditation Standards for Chest Pain Accreditation as well as maintained compliance with national and societal guidelines for the management of the chest pain patient population. “Receiving accreditation to the Chest Pain Center at all three of our hospitals is a significant achievement and serves as a direct reflection of the collaboration between emergency medical services, the emergency departments, community health education programs, and more than 60 cardiac clinicians,” said Dennis Disch, MD, medical director of cardiovascular services, Spectrum Health Lakeland. “Patients can feel confident knowing that no matter where they choose to seek care within the Lakeland system, they will be receiving the highest quality cardiac diagnoses and treatment.”

Protect your family from long-term care costs Like everyone, you want to remain physically and financially independent throughout your life. But if you lose some of this freedom, the last thing you’d want is to become a burden on your family. How can you keep this from happening? First of all, you need to be aware of the risk. Someone turning 65 today has almost a 70 percent chance of eventually needing some type of long-term care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you face that 70 percent likelihood. In reality, you have either a zero percent chance of requiring long-term care (you’ll never need it) or a 100 percent chance (you’ll definitely need it). Nonetheless, if you think you’ve got that zero percent chance, you’re taking a gamble – and it could be a big one, because long-term care is expensive. The median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is over $102,000, according to Genworth, an insurance company. Other long-term care services, such as those provided by a home health care aide, also don’t come cheaply. Furthermore, you can’t count on Medicare paying all these costs – in fact, it would probably only cover a small portion of a nursing home stay and provide limited assistance for home health care. So, if you were financially unprepared for the expense of long-term care, the burden might fall on your loved ones. This could be a big financial challenge, in two ways. First, if a family member had to become your caregiver, this individual might have to abandon a career, or at least substantially reduce their working hours. Not only would this result in a loss of income, but it could also lower the amounts that could be contributed to a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Second, if your family members couldn’t leave their jobs or cut back on their hours, or they were simply unable to provide the type of long-term care you need, they might be forced to pay for a nursing home stay or home health care worker out of pocket. To avoid these outcomes, you have a couple of options: Self-insure – You could conceivably “self-insure” against the costs of long-term care by devoting a portion of your investment portfolio specifically to this purpose. However, if at some point you require admission to a nursing home, it may require a significant commitment of your resources. Purchase protection – Over the past decade or so, there’s been an increase in the types of long-term care protection vehicles available. These instruments vary widely in cost and in what they cover, but by choosing a protection option, you may greatly lower the financial risk you might face. By consulting with a financial professional, you should be able to find an arrangement that’s appropriate for your situation. Preserving your financial independence and helping protect that of your family should be a key financial goal. And you can make progress toward accomplishing this by recognizing the potential cost of long-term care and taking steps to deal with it. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones is a licensed insurance producer in all states and Washington, D.C., through Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. and in California, New Mexico and Massachusetts through Edward Jones Insurance Agency of California, L.L.C.; Edward Jones Insurance Agency of New Mexico, L.L.C.; and Edward Jones Insurance Agency of Massachusetts, L.L.C. Edward Jones, Member SIPC