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11-12-2020 Letters and Commentary

A different patriotic perspective Many know how the Bible begins its narrative: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). But how does it end? “He who testifies of these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:20,21 NASB) Earth’s history moves towards a climax. Many of the prophecies of the last times throughout the Bible specifically address Israel as a nation. Prophecies like those in Daniel and Ezekiel and many other areas. But some passages are broader in their application, giving guidance to all nations. David’s last words, recorded in 2 Samuel 23, include some of that guidance: ‘When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth… But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns, which are not gathered with the hand. Whoever touches thorns uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; they are burned up where they lie.” (vv. 3b, 4, 6, 7, NIV) Then there is the guidance that explains that a nation that changes its ways for the good or for the evil can change the way they are treated by God (Jeremiah 18). Ultimately history progresses towards the Revelation conclusion – the new heavens and the new earth. It’s not God’s green solution, it is God’s total makeover of creation with Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God’s Word is true. In Acts 17 we read how God has set up nations in terms of duration, power, and physical extent – totally according to His will. True patriotism seeks to understand our place in history, and acknowledges the Master of it all.

COVID-19 contact tracing With COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing across Berrien County and surrounding regions, the Berrien County Health Department is making shifts in case investigation and contact tracing processes to meet the increased demand and make the best use of existing resources. Because of the continuing increases in number of COVID-19 cases, there have been delays in the amount of time it takes to contact all persons who test positive for the virus as well as all those who have been in close contact to someone who has COVID-19. Residents are urged not to wait for the Health Department to call, but to take personal responsibility and action if someone becomes aware of a positive test result or potential exposure to COVID-19. In order to maximize staffing resources and prevent outbreaks amongst vulnerable individuals, the Berrien County Health Department will begin prioritizing case investigation to notify those who are: Age 65 and older, especially those with chronic underlying conditions; children who are 18 years old and younger, especially those attending school in-person; individuals residing in congregate living environments, such as long-term care facilities; all other individuals who test positive will be contacted as capacity allows. If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of your symptoms or your positive test date if you didn’t have symptoms. Notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed to you 48 hours prior to when symptoms started and encourage them to quarantine and consider getting tested. If someone is awaiting test results, they must stay home until the results are in. A close contact is someone who has been within six feet (about two arms’ length) of an infected person for at least 15 minutes in 24 hours including brief encounters (it does not need to be consecutive minutes) with or without a face covering. Close contacts should quarantine—generally 14 days from the last exposure—since a person can be infectious up to 48 hours before showing any symptoms. Isolation and quarantine mean staying home from work, school, social gatherings, extracurricular activities and any other public place other than when seeking medical care. The Health Department will continue to conduct case investigation and contact tracing in nursing homes, schools, priority clusters identified in high-risk congregate settings and assist businesses with COVID-19 related issues and positive employees. More information about isolation, quarantine, testing for COVID-19 and more can be found at www.bchdmi.org.

Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids a success despite challenges October has come and gone, and the second annual Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids is in the books. Like everything else in 2020, this year’s coat drive was different and not without its challenges. But, thanks to the determination and generosity of Southwest Michigan residents, we collected over 50 coats for area youth in need. As before, I have partnered with area school leaders to help distribute the coats. This year my staff and I worked with Niles Community Schools, and I appreciate the support of Superintendent Dan Applegate, Ph.D., who joined in our efforts. As winter quickly approaches it is heartening to know that, because of the caring individuals who participated in the coat drive, these children will be better off when the temperature drops. This is important since cold weather exposure forces our bodies to work harder to stay warm, and the added physical stress and inability to regulate body temperature makes us susceptible to illness, especially for the vulnerable, like children. I have said it many times before but will say it again here: Southwest Michigan is a great place to live, and it’s made even greater because of its generous residents who help make it home. My sincerest thanks to all who not only donated to Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids this year, but also opened their hearts to children in need — your generosity will not soon be forgotten. I look forward to hosting Kim’s Coat Drive for Kids again next year and hopefully under more normal circumstances. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by emailing senklasata@senate. michigan.gov or calling (517) 373-6960.

A major breakthrough on the COVID vaccine front For the past several months, I’ve been in contact with Kalamazoo’s very own Pfizer about their efforts to develop a safe coronavirus vaccine, and on Monday, I was glad to see that their vaccine was reported to be 90% effective. This is not only great news for public health amid spiking COVID cases, but also our economy as hundreds of millions of doses will be produced at their facility in Kalamazoo. Back in March, we knew an effective vaccine would be critical to ending this nightmare and returning to some sense of normalcy come 2021. Thankfully, due to unprecedented collaboration between government and private innovation, we’re on track to truly defeat COVID once and for all. I’m also proud that my bipartisan 21st Century Cures legislation also played a hand in expediting the development of a viable vaccine. While Pfizer’s exciting announcement is promising, we must all continue to do our part to stop the spread of this vicious virus and protect our loved ones. Simple steps like wearing a mask and keeping your distance from others will help us more quickly restore our way of life. We’re not out of the woods yet and only together, can we really close this dark chapter and turn to the next page of our nation’s future. 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).

Thank you Southwest Michigan Last week I was re-elected to serve as your voice in Lansing for two more years. I am looking forward to fighting for Southwest Michigan families in my third term as our community reopens safely and sensibly. In addition to COVID-19 recovery, I plan to continue working on legislative priorities such as expanding rural broadband coverage, increasing skilled trades programs for local students and protecting our vulnerable seniors in nursing homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a true test of our community’s strength. It is an honor to have once again earned the trust of my neighbors, especially during this time of great uncertainty. Serving as your voice in Lansing has been a great honor and I am excited to continue advocating for the hardworking people of Southwest Michigan. The final two months of this term followed by my final two years will have many challenges as we continue to recover and rebuild amid COVID-19. That said, over the past four years I have gotten the chance to see just how tough our community is and I look forward to working closely with local leaders to get our state back on track, together. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me toll free at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ RepBethGriffin.

ALL SORTS OF RECORDS SET… Already the 2020 Presidential Election is in the record books. Not since Adlai Stevenson, has a presidential candidate run more than three times by my count. Candidate Joe Biden could be the only VP to run three times, winning on his final effort. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is the first woman elected as VP, the first Asian/Indian to be elected as well. President Trump is the first term president since Jimmy Carter. He may also add a record in four years as the first defeat president to run again in the next term. The election also set an all-rime record, with Biden the winner with more than 74 million ballots cast, Trump had more than 70 million voters cast in his losing campaign. President Biden will have his work cut out for him to bring the country together in the first two years of his office. And if President Trump gets to work with President Biden over the next four years, he may be a viable candidate to run for president in 2024. The usual method, unique to the USA, makes for interesting times where the top vote getter can lose the election to the winner of the electoral college. Interesting times indeed.

CONGRATULATIONS to all the candidates for their campaigns to serve the citizens of the United States in public offices, from the presidency to village officials, and all in between. Being an elected official in any public office has its own challenges, and those who are willing to serve deserve to be thanked for their service by us all. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been elected to the Watervliet Charter Township Board of Trustees. I’m looking forward to aiding the Township in that capacity.

Thanks for your support

To the voters of Watervliet Charter Twp.:

Thank you for choosing me to be the next Supervisor of Watervliet Charter Township. I will do my best to continue the commitment and dedication that Dan Hutchins had to serving the township residents, and I will do my best to urge and support what I believe is in the best interests of the township. I’ll need your input and support as we go forward.

Again, thank you.

Joe Stepich

Alternative facts

Dear Editor,

There has been an election and to a plurality of voters it seems Mr. Biden has become President Elect of our country. One of the obstacles seems to be the President’s obsession with not losing and to be deemed a “loser”. In all the elections from the birth of our nation there has been a winner and obviously there has been a loser in every election until now. There have been reports that some of the presidential staff is advising the President to concede, seemingly to be a hard task to bear.

I alone (being facetious here) have a solution. Someone, Mark Meadows perhaps (after his quarantine for COVID-19) or perhaps Ivanka or Jared (Javanka) should tell him he did not “lose”, but instead he came in second and Joe Biden came in next to last. Maybe that will soothe his ego.

As the President Elect might say, “Look, it’s worth a shot.”

Robert A. Becker

Genealogy Society honors veterans

The Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society located at the Hartford Public Library gives thanks and remembers veterans for their unselfish dedication to the United States of America and for keeping its citizens safe and protecting their freedoms. The society pays tribute and honors all who have served and are currently serving through their Southwest Michigan Military Collection. The collection contains the names and service documentation of over 3,000 people who served in the military who in any part of their lives lived called southwest Michigan home. The collection honors military personnel from all wars and during peace time.

Joyce Beedie, President of the VBRGS, explains that “the information contained in the collection came from many sources and through the extensive research of our society volunteers. Individuals from the community also provided their own military service information as well as family members of deceased veterans.”

Anyone wishing to see the collection or donate information may do so at any time that the Hartford Public Library is open.

The Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society is honored to have become a part of the Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library. The society was organized in 1987 by a group of like-minded people who loved their heritage and their communities and wished to give them honor. Thirty-three years later the VBRGS still stays true to the mission of those original founders “To preserve and protect the family and local history of the people and places of southwest Michigan”.

The VBRGS welcomes everyone to visit the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Genealogy Room. Volunteers can assist in person or interested persons may call the library at 269-588-5103.

Blood donations urged amid COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming holidays

The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors of all blood types to band together to give blood or platelets and help ensure a stable blood supply for patients this holiday season.

The traditional slump in blood donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s comes as the blood supply already faces challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic. Required medical treatments and emergencies don’t pause for the holidays or a widespread coronavirus outbreak.

Make an appointment to give blood, platelets or plasma with the Red Cross by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

In thanks for making time to donate around Thanksgiving, those who come to give blood Nov. 25-28 will receive an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, courtesy of Suburban Propane, while supplies last

Important COVID-19 information for donors

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Donation information

Upcoming blood donation opportunities are on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, 4071 Naomi Road in Sodus and Friday, Nov. 27, 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. at Hartford Bible Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Additional food assistance for 350,000 Michigan families in response to COVID-19 emergency extended through November

(Press Release) Approximately 350,000 Michigan families will continue to have access to additional food assistance benefits during the month of November as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have announced.

Michigan previously approved the additional food assistance for March through June – and now that is being extended for the month of November with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

“MDHHS remains committed to helping families who continue to struggle to put food on the table as a result of the pandemic,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Providing nutritious food is vitally important during these difficult times just as protecting residents from the virus is.”

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card by Nov. 30, with payments beginning for some households on Nov. 21. Additional benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.

Nearly 1.5 million people in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program. Households eligible for Food Assistance Program benefits will receive additional benefits in November to bring all current SNAP cases to the maximum monthly allowance for that group size.

This change only applies to customers not currently receiving the maximum benefit amount. The 350,000 households that receive increased benefits represent more than 50 percent of the more than 682,000 Michigan households that received food assistance in September. The remaining households already receive the maximum benefit.

The following table shows the maximum allowable benefit for SNAP customers based on their respective household size: One person, $204; two persons, $374; three persons, $535; four persons, $680; five persons, $807; six persons, $969; seven persons, $1,071; eight persons, $1,224.

The federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under House Resolution 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing or speech-impaired call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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