11-19-2020 Letters and Commentary

Find new hope

I sometimes lose my keys. Maybe “lose” is the wrong term – I actually misplace them. I put them down somewhere and forget the location. They seem lost, but they are just misplaced. The feeling is the same, and sometimes they stay “lost’ for a while. But when I find them it’s, “Oh yeah, that’s where I put them”, and I go on.

We can lose hope that way too. We actually haven’t “lost” it. It’s been misplaced. Misplaced hope, while sometimes not easy to find, can be rediscovered in new places. We have to understand ourselves to understand where this misplacement actually happened. Have we placed our hopes on our financial stability? Are we relying on government authorities to solve our problems, and keep us secure and happy? And how about that word “happy”? Does “happy” depend on specific entertainment, socializing in specific contexts, or working specific ways, or schooling specific ways? When we place our hopes in these things alone for our happiness, our hope is too easily eroded when any of these are lost, changed, or removed – even temporarily.

We need to place our hope in new things by new understanding that goes beyond the “old” things.

One of the “silver linings” of the COVID-19 challenge, is the newly revealed need to find new hope. Questions like, “What are other ways to do this?” “Where must our priorities change in this or that particular area of life?” “How would XXX approach this?” where XXX is someone respected from our past. And in all of it remembering that our true hope resides outside of ourselves, in a God who loves us and is intimately familiar with all of our struggles. Readings in Psalms in the Bible could help in this hope crisis. Don’t have a Bible? Maybe it’s time to get one. Find new hope, asking the Author of hope for help along the way.


Delivering on promises

While it may have been lost in the tsunami of political noise we all heard over the last several months, one of the major issues I won my re-election on was expanding access to childcare services. Given the governor’s most recent shutdown, this service is desperately needed now more than ever. As schools are closed, and there has yet to be a stimulus agreement reached in Washington, I’m getting this issue across the finish line because parents shouldn’t have to choose between caring for their child and their career. Studies have shown that working moms are disproportionally impacted and are more likely to make career sacrifices for their children. I said I would stand up for working families, and I’m doing that right out of the gate. On the last legislative session, my bills passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and advanced to the full House for consideration. Knowing how important and pressing this issue is, my colleagues are set to pass this legislation on our next session day.

There is so much more work we have to do in Lansing to make life better for the people we serve. COVID cases are spiking, children are losing precious time in the classroom, and small business owners continue to crumble. When passed, my legislation will be another package of bills that passes with bipartisan support. The election is over, and it’s time politics is set aside so we can govern on behalf of the people we serve. We’ve proven when we actually talk to one another we deliver for the people of our state. My line is always open, and I stand ready to work with anybody who is serious about delivering for our state.

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.

We must remain vigilant in fight against COVID-19, whether we get it or don’t get it

Last week I was informed I had tested positive for COVID-19. The test was administered Wednesday during a scheduled, unrelated medical appointment. Prior to receiving the test, I had not experienced any symptoms of the coronavirus and I have not experienced any since. After I announced my positive test result last Friday, I got tested again. The second test came back negative for COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there are currently two types of COVID-19 diagnostic tests being used — molecular tests that detect the virus’s genetic material and antigen tests that detect specific proteins from the virus. According to the FDA: Antigen tests usually provide results diagnosing an active coronavirus infection faster than molecular tests, but antigen tests have a higher chance of missing an active infection. If an antigen test shows a negative result indicating that you do not have an active coronavirus infection, your health care provider may order a molecular test to confirm the result. Both of the tests I received were molecular RT-PCR tests. I am not a medical professional, but it is possible that my initial test was a false positive or the second was a false negative. It is possible that I currently have the virus, had the virus and recovered, or never had it all.

What I do know is that COVID-19 is real, is spreading rapidly, and we as individuals must take personal responsibility and do our best to mitigate our risk of exposure. If we receive a positive diagnosis, we must be that much more vigilant, follow medical guidelines, and seek the advice of our physician if we have questions. The fact of the matter is no law, executive order or bureaucratic rule is going to stop the spread of COVID-19. Shutting down the state, closing businesses and taking kids out of school will not stop people from getting the coronavirus. The virus is indifferent to government mandates. The first and most effective defense against COVID-19, the seasonal flu or the common cold is the individual. The person who takes it upon him or herself to follow the necessary precautions that lessen the likelihood of getting infected or infecting others is the one who will make the difference. As a reminder, these precautions include: Washing your hands with soap and water; avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing; avoiding contact with people who are sick; staying home if you are sick and contacting your health care provider; keeping at least six feet away from one another to the maximum extent possible; wearing a mask or face covering; frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.

If you have questions about the coronavirus or need help finding a testing site, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 or visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by emailing senklasata@senate. michigan.gov or calling (517) 373-6960.

We can’t let our guard down yet

Amid promising news that both Pfizer and Moderna have reported their coronavirus vaccines to be more than 90% effective, COVID-19 cases continue to spike here in west Michigan and nationwide. In Michigan

alone, we’ve tragically lost more than 8,000 lives to this menacing virus with thousands more contracting COVID-19 daily.

As a result our hospitals and health care facilities are rapidly filling with COVID patients, placing immense pressure on our frontline workers who are fighting day and night to save countless lives. These folks have been the real heroes throughout this crisis, and we can show them our deep appreciation for all they do by taking simple steps to stop the spread of this relentless virus. The science is clear here – common sense precautions like wearing our masks, washing our hands, and keeping our distance from others can help us save lives and recharge our econ omy at the same time.

While we all hoped to see COVID come and go by Easter, we need all hands on deck now so that we can truly defeat it in the coming months. I’ll continue to share updates on my social media channels and in my kitchen Table reports about what we can all do to protect ourselves and our loved ones during these most difficult times.

To learn more about important leg islative 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).

GET YOUR TURKEY in this year’s Free Thanksgiving Turkey Drawing. The deadline is noon, Monday, Nov. 23. The winners will be listed in the Thanksgiving issue, Nov. 26. In these days of COVID uncertainty, it is heartening there are so many merchants willing to share the Thanksgiving spirit with our readers. Speaking of the Record, if and when you could find the front door locked there is always the mail slot next to the door. Put your Turkey coupon in there. Many folks over the past 138 years have used the mail slot to leave subscription renewals, news items, photos and such. As the great wheel of time rolls forward, there are some things that are timeless. That goes for the mail chute next to the front door. When we remodeled the front office, the topic came up, I opined we could modernize or seal off the mail slot. It was Bill Loshbough who suggested the mail slot and chute of hammered copper was rare and as such, we should keep it intact. So, we did, and folks still use it to communicate.

SPECIAL THANKSGIVING… As a youngster, I recall our family always said “grace” before our supper. “Bless us, O’ Lord, for these, thy gifts, from thy bounty through Christ, our Lord, amen.” Rain or shine, good times and bad. A couple Thanksgivings I recall. We were gathering on such a Thanksgiving, when my mother had a call. I wasn’t paying much attention, as family members would call to wish Mom and Dad a happy Thanksgiving. I heard a niece ask her mother, did Grandma hurt her nose, she’s holding her hankie to it? I saw my mom sobbing into her handkerchief. Granddaughter Marion was hitching a plane ride home from California to Colorado as a Thanksgiving surprise for her parents. The small Navy plane crashed in the Rockies, with all aboard killed. Never a Thanksgiving passes without a tug at my heart thinking of my niece Marion and that Thanksgiving. Another Thanksgiving imprint was shortly after the JFK assassination. We were all gathered in the basement family room for Thanksgiving dinner, some twenty or so. The clatter and chatter soon quieted as dad raised his hand for grace. “And let us remember our dear President Kennedy and his grieving family.” Once done with grace, the din took up where the quiet had let off.

Happy Birthday Great-Grandson William Loshbough V!!

Social Security is important for women

In November, we show gratitude for the many things we are thankful for throughout the year. Family usually tops the list. The strong women in our lives are one of the central figures we appreciate.

More women in the 21st century work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Yet, on average, women face greater economic challenges in retirement than men.

The majority of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women. Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings. In addition, women may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men. These are three key reasons why Social Security is vitally important to women.

If you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years, and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you may be eligible for your own benefits. Once you reach age 62, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not. If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount.

The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be. We have specific information for women at www.ssa.gov/people/women. You can also read the publication What Every Woman Should Know at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf.

Please share these links with friends and family you love. 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.

Letters to the Editor

The season of gratitude

To the Coloma Community Schools community:

The month of November is a time for gratitude, reflection and joy. While this year has seen many challenges, at Coloma Community Schools there is still much to be thankful for as we begin the holiday season. First and foremost is the continued commitment of our community to our students and families. We are all in this together and our success as a district and community is dependent on your continued support.

As our high school students shift to remote learning after the recent Pause to Save Lives directive from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, I am grateful for the patience and understanding our families have demonstrated throughout the school year. Your grace during the transition back to school in August and with the sudden return to remote learning for our oldest students is greatly appreciated.

Everyone across the district would prefer to continue with in-person learning, but the health and safety of our children and the entire school community must remain our top priority. For that reason, while we keep our buildings open to provide in-person instruction for our K-8 students, we will work with the Berrien County Health Department to closely monitor the situation. Thanks to the diligence of our students, families, teachers and staff to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, Coloma Community Schools has seen less than a 1% positive case rate among its K-8 population.

Fortunately, our high school students have the devices they need to access their lessons and our teachers are prepared to provide a high-quality learning experience to ensure continued academic, social and emotional growth. Additionally, our educational and support staff, including counselors, is available to provide supplemental services as needed. I have been impressed, but not surprised, by the dedication our team has demonstrated to our students, our families and our community since the pandemic began in March. To say I am proud of their efforts would be an understatement.

As family and friends gather together to celebrate the holidays I would ask that we all do our part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, this includes wearing a cloth face covering or mask when in proximity to others, maintaining social distancing, frequent hand washing, and staying home when sick.

Thank you again to all for helping Coloma Community Schools and, more importantly, the students we are privileged to serve through these challenging times. On behalf of the Board of Education and my fellow educators, I wish you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Superintendent Dave Ehlers

Library board thankful for continued support with passage of millage

To the voters of Watervliet:

The Library Board thanks you for your continued support of the Watervliet District Library. The chief source of our operating funds is the millage you voted to renew in both the City and Township on November 3. Because of the public’s ongoing support, the Library has been able to add and improve our collection and services over recent years.

During this pandemic the director and staff are striving to offer excellent service to patrons, with safety protocols in place, whether the Library is open or must be closed. Services include: Safe, curbside service for any items in the collection; phone reference service at 463-6382; safe curbside service for faxing, copying documents or printing; WiFi extension into the library’s parking lot; weekly packet projects for every age; Story Hour in a Bag kits; Children’s Book Bundles, packets of books and activity sheets on a given subject; online book clubs for adults; special events shared virtually; and increased funding for Overdrive, e-books, and audio books.

Thank you again, and we hope you will continue to take advantage of your Library’s services.

Patricia Geisler

Watervliet District Library Board of Directors

Reasons for honoring our flag

Dear Editor,

I would like to share this article with as many as I can so others can learn new reasons for honoring our flag. It was copied from the internet with no author listed.

“It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of press.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, who salutes the Flag.

It is the SOLDIER OR VETERAN, who serves under the Flag.”

Frances Wooley

Daughter of a veteran

Wife of a veteran

Mother of a veteran

Permanent injunction granted in litigation over CARES Act funding for public schools

(Press Release) The lawsuit co-led by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her attempt to divert millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funding from public schools is officially over.

Judge James Donato – of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California – on Nov. 9 approved a permanent injunction, formally closing the case on DeVos’ efforts to rewrite a section of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that would have diverted more than $16 million in funding away from public schools in Michigan. Following his order to grant the permanent injunction, Judge Donato entered a judgment in favor of all plaintiffs.

“This pandemic has greatly impacted students across the country. The CARES Act is imperative as it provides critical funding for our public schools and the resources teachers need to continue safely teaching our youth,” Nessel said. “This permanent injunction sends a clear message that the publicly funded CARES Act dollars should be used as Congress intended – to educate our public students, and not to serve the political agendas of a select few.”

Donato in August issued a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit that joined two similar orders by courts in the District of Columbia and Washington State, which also challenged DeVos’ effort. In response, Secretary DeVos penned a letter in late September in which she acknowledged defeat, stating her Department would not appeal the court’s rulings.

Under the order, the district court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the injunction, and the Department of Education waives any right to request reconsideration or to appeal the permanent injunction.

The injunction prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from: Requiring states and local education agencies (LEAs) to calculate the share of CARES Act funds for private schools in a manner inconsistent with Title I’s calculation for equitable services to private schools;

requiring that CARES Act funds supplement, rather than supplant, other fund sources; restricting the distribution of CARES Act funds to only those public schools that participate in or are eligible for Title I; and taking any adverse action against districts or schools that relied on the original guidance or interim final rule before the preliminary injunction entered.

Nessel and Becerra led a coalition of states that filed suit on July 7 against DeVos and her Department for issuing the rule that would have unfairly limited the ability of public schools to use federal funds provided under the CARES Act.

In their litigation, Nessel and Becerra were joined by the attorneys general of Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, as well as the City School District for the City of New York, Chicago Board of Education, Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District.

DIFS urges consumers to be vigilant against fraud

(Press Release) This week is International Fraud Awareness Week and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is reminding consumers to protect themselves against fraud and to report suspected fraud to the recently established Fraud Investigation Unit (FIU).

“Consumers must be vigilant to avoid falling victim to fraud, especially in the insurance and financial services industries,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “DIFS Fraud Investigation Unit is committed to bringing criminals to justice in order to protect consumers and ensure safe access to the industries we regulate.”

Codified into state law as part of Michigan’s historic, bipartisan auto insurance law in 2019, the FIU investigates criminal and fraudulent activity related to the insurance and financial industries. Its investigators work with the Attorney General and other law enforcement agencies to prosecute these crimes.

“DIFS is first and foremost a consumer protection agency and we are here to help protect people from bad actors in the insurance and financial services industries,” said Fox. “Consumers can arm themselves against fraud with resources available from DIFS, including our website and publications, our call center, and the fraud reporting tool on our website.”

Insurance and financial fraud can include a wide range of acts such as selling fake auto insurance certificates, staging fake claims, loan fraud, and taking advantage of cash apps to take money from unwary people. Suspected fraud in the insurance and financial sectors can be reported to DIFS safely, easily and, in most cases, anonymously by calling 877-999-6442 or by visiting Michigan.gov/ReportFraud2DIFS.

Coalition argues Trump administration’s limits on fetal tissue research restrict discovery of COVID-19 treatments

(Press Release) Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and its National Institutes of Health (NIH) urging them to reject recent recommendations made by the Trump administration’s NIH Human Fetal Tissue Ethics Advisory Board (Board).

The Board’s recommendation would withhold federal funding for fetal tissue research grant proposals, putting limits on research into possible treatments and therapies for various health conditions, including COVID-19. The recommendation comes after a two-year campaign by the Trump administration to block federally funded research using fetal tissue as well as an executive order to ban the research.

“While leading scientists are encouraging the use of fetal tissue research to develop treatments for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration is attempting to withhold critical funding for this important work,” Nessel said. “Our country has been hard hit by this pandemic – this recommendation by the Board would effectively hinder advances in finding a treatment for this devastating virus. President Trump himself was treated for COVID with Remdesivir, a drug developed through fetal tissue research – why shouldn’t every American have that opportunity?”

Fetal tissue has been an essential part of scientific and medical advances that have saved millions of lives in the United States and across the globe. Fetal tissue was used in the research that led to the vaccines for poliovirus, rubella, measles and rabies. It remains a crucial part of vital biomedical research.

In its letter, the coalition argues the Board was not fairly balanced in terms of viewpoint, as two-thirds of its members are on record opposing abortion, fetal tissue or both. The Board’s proceedings also lacked transparency. All of its meetings were in closed session except for one virtual meeting held for less than an hour. The attorneys general urge NIH Director Francis S. Collins and HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II to use their authority to reject the Board’s recommendations and maintain federal funding for research projects using fetal tissue that have already been recommended for funding.

In sending the letter, Attorney General Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

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