11-21-2018 Letters and Commentary

B&B Grocery move improves stock and parking Dear Editor, A few years ago a young couple from the area opened a different kind of business in Watervliet on Main Street called B&B Outlet (now called B&B Grocery). A few weeks ago, they moved the business to the former site of Rookie’s Sports Bar east of the stoplight on Red Arrow Highway. This move gave them more room and a larger parking lot. If you haven’t visited them, stop in. You’ll be surprised by the larger store and the many items they can offer customers. They also have a couple of coupons that can help. You’ll be surprised at the assortment they now offer. Their new quarters allow them to offer more frozen items and more grocery items than before the move. Stop in and see for yourself you’ll be pleased! Frances Wooley, Coloma

Gov. Rick Snyder signs legislation expanding Michigan’s ‘Move Over Law’ to protect more people Drivers will now be required to slow down and move over when passing emergency, maintenance, and utility vehicles on the road under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on November 15, 2018. “This legislation will better protect those responding to emergencies as well as workers on busy roadways,” Snyder said. “My hope by signing this bill is that more Michiganders will slow down and give a lane.” Senate Bill 477, sponsored by state Sen. Dale Zorn, will require drivers to slow to 10 mph below the posted speed limit as well as yield their lane, if possible, when passing police or emergency vehicles on the side of the road. The bill also includes roadside tow trucks, garbage trucks, maintenance, and utility vehicles that have amber lights flashing. Violations would be a civil offense subject to a $400 fine. The bill is now Public Act 349 of 2018. Snyder also signed six additional measures: SBs 425-429, sponsored by state Sens. Judy Emmons, Mike Nofs, Jim Stamas, Goeff Hansen, and Dave Hildenbrand, respectively, amend the Michigan Election Law to require the Secretary of State to develop and maintain an electronic voter registration interface to allow an applicant to submit a voter registration application electronically through the SOS website. The bills are now PAs 350-354 of 2018. SB 901, sponsored by state Sen. Jim Stamas, revises the definition of podiatric medicine and podiatric surgery to better reflect the nature of how podiatric physicians currently practice. The bill is now PA 355 of 2018. For more information on this and other legislation, visit www.legislature.mi.gov.

Senator Stabenow, colleagues call for increased transparency and action at VA to process delayed veterans benefits U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow urged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to provide additional details about its efforts to expedite processing of living stipend payments for veterans receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Stabenow sent a letter with senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). According to recent media reports, on-going problems with VA’s IT system have resulted in many veterans not receiving the living stipend payments they use to pay for education and housing expenses in a timely manner, causing significant financial strain and hardship for veterans attempting to use the benefits they earned from their military service. Additionally, the senators requested that the Department confirm it will not retroactively collect overpayments to students resulting from other IT issues. Earlier this year, Stabenow introduced the Student Veterans Housing Act to ensure student veterans do not lose VA housing benefits in between academic semesters. “For many of our nation’s veterans, the living stipend payments were expected by September 1, 2018, and the multi-month delays create a real crisis to not only their long-term education and career goals, but also their daily needs. Regardless of what caused or is causing the delay, we believe it is imperative for VA to address this issue with the urgency it deserves,” wrote the senators in the letter. “We will not stop pressing for information and action until every veteran receives the benefits they earned in their service to our country. “As a nation we have a responsibility to be there for our veterans, and part of that duty involves fulfilling our promise to ensure they have access to education after they leave the service. These errors and delays undermine the intent of the GI Bill and put unnecessary and avoidable strain on veterans and their families during a critical time of transition,” the senators added. It is believed hundreds of thousands of veterans receiving GI Bill benefits have been impacted by VA’s processing delays, including more than 82,000 veterans who were still waiting to receive their housing payment as of November 8 according to VA data.

Schools, local police and fire departments benefit from use tax payments Michiganders purchasing holiday gifts from online retailers can conveniently pay their outstanding use tax when filing their annual Michigan Individual Income Tax Return, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Michigan’s use tax generally applies to purchases made when a retailer does not collect sales tax. This often happens when individuals purchase items through online or mail-order retailers or television shopping networks without physical locations inside the state of Michigan. “With the kick-off of the holiday shopping season happening after Thanksgiving Day, be sure to check if you are being charged sales tax when you purchase items online,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, who oversees Treasury’s Tax Administration programs. “If the online retailer doesn’t charge sales tax, state law requires you to keep a running total and pay your outstanding use tax when you file your annual state income tax return.” Taxpayers paid millions of dollars in use tax through their state income tax return this filing year, helping fund schools and local police and fire departments. Most of the dollars collected from taxpayers through the use tax go to the School Aid Fund, General Fund and to the Local Community Stabilization Authority. The use tax is calculated at the rate of 6 percent of the total purchase. Items subject to use tax include appliances, books, clothing, computers, DVDs, CDs, electronics, furniture, pre-written computer software and tobacco products. Taxpayers can report their total outstanding use tax annually when filing their Michigan Individual Income Tax Return between January and April. To learn more about the state of Michigan’s use tax and other taxes, go to www.michigan.gov/taxes.

Michigan searches for permanent homes for more than 320 children More than 320 children who are in foster care in Michigan need loving, permanent homes as the state marks Adoption Month… Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed November to be Adoption Month; Nov. 20 is Adoption Day in Michigan. Anyone interested in adopting from foster care can contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange at 800-589-6273 or learn more about children available for adoption at www.mare.org.

Choose Thanksgiving While Thanksgiving typically means gatherings of family and friends, a happy Thanksgiving is a personal matter involving more than football games, turkey, and pumpkin pie. Holiday season 2007 started a little different than previous ones had. Of course no two Thanksgivings are exactly alike in any family, but that year there was a faint cloud over the celebration. Only my wife and I knew, but there was a possible diagnosis of prostate cancer for me. Christmas Eve day arrived and I had the follow-up urology appointment with biopsy results. The news wasn’t good. I had cancer. Sometimes it’s harder for those observing than for the actual victim. It was very hard for my dear wife. We had to hurry from the doctor’s appointment because as pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church at the time, I had a funeral to do that afternoon for a friend, Tom – who had died of prostate cancer. I did Tom’s funeral as planned. Surgery would reveal stage 4, Gleason 9 cancer (Gleason 10 is the worst in terms of total involvement). Then, followed radiation and hormone treatments. My doctors were excellent! I tell you that to tell you this. I learned that there is nothing impossible for God and it’s our choice to trust Him. Whether we trust Him or not, He is trustworthy. I have not missed a Thanksgiving since then, and I continue to praise Him for his mercy. Realize, that does not make me great, it makes God great. Thanksgiving is a choice. A happy Thanksgiving comes from a threefold choice – first to remember the past, then to endure the present, and finally to hope for the future. It’s an easy choice to make when we consider God’s blessings, His presence, and His promises. A good Thanksgiving reading would be Psalm 103:1-5. Praise the LORD, oh my soul! He is very good, and He is very kind.

In this season of giving, help a loved one with Social Security During the holiday season, we surround ourselves with family and friends, some of whom may rely on us for a number of reasons. An aging parent might need help clearing snow. A sibling may require help after a surgery. And as we get older, our family members may need help managing their finances. In fact, more than eight million people who get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits need help managing their money. If you have a loved one who cannot manage their finances, you may be able to become a representative payee. We thoroughly investigate people who apply to be representative payees to protect the interests of Social Security beneficiaries, because a representative payee receives the beneficiary’s payments and is given the authority to use them on the beneficiary’s behalf. Social Security appoints a representative payee to manage Social Security and SSI funds only. A payee has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters. As a representative payee, you must know what the beneficiary’s needs are so you can decide the best use of benefits for their care and well-being. This is especially important if the beneficiary doesn’t live with you. Each year, Social Security may ask you to complete a form to account for the benefits you’ve received. You can either fill out the form and return it to Social Security or go online at www.socialsecurity.gov/payee to file the report. Due to a recent change in the law, we no longer require the following payees to complete an annual Representative Payee Report: Natural or adoptive parents of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the child; legal guardians of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the child; natural or adoptive parents of a disabled adult beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household with the beneficiary; and spouse of a beneficiary. Taking care of family is something we do all year long, not just during this holiday season. Becoming a representative payee is a selfless act of kindness. You can read more about becoming a representative payee at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING… I hope this Thanksgiving holiday find you` among family and friends and that you are able to count your blessings. Once the holiday is history, we will turn our attention to that other uniquely American tradition Christmas shopping! While Friday gets all the attention as Black Friday, Saturday has a place as Shop Small Saturday. Small businesses across America are asking shoppers to remember them that day for their Christmas shopping needs. Watervliet has joined in the national program to include their business in that campaign. Come to Watervliet and shop this Saturday. See the special ad on Page 6 for more information on Watervliet’s Small Town Saturday. Anne and I traveled last Sunday to St. Louis Missouri to witness the baptism of an amazing young lady. Of course, I’m talking about Polly Marchenko our 12-year-old granddaughter. She stood in front of the entire congregation of Chatham Bible Church and proclaimed her love for Jesus. Many thanks to our daughter Gillian and son-in-law Sergei, for making us so welcome. This week we are able to return the favor as they are here with us for Thanksgiving.

ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES… A couple weeks ago President Trump got some flak for his comment that the California wildfires were the result of poor forest management. At the time, I recall, I agreed with him. Simply put, I thought people living in forested areas that chronically burn are not doing enough to stop the fires from spreading in the first place. This past weekend I caught a discussion on an NPR station in St. Louis. One of the guests was a scientist that has studied forest fires for the past thirty years. His take was California officials need to campaign more to prevent forest fires than increasing the effort to fight them. He noted urban areas regularly had catastrophic fires until local ordinances required building and zoning codes to fireproof buildings and property. He added that while many property owners regularly practice fire prevention management, it doesn’t work without everyone participating. Something to think about… states spend billions of dollars putting out fires in residential enclaves in isolated areas that provide no fire protection of their own. There are no local fire department, no fire hydrants, and no building codes to require fire prevention materials and infrastructure.

DISTRACTED DRIVING… Just when I thought I had seen everything traveling on the freeway I saw something new. There was a young lady texting while driving right on my rear bumper. We were both traveling at 75 miles per hour. Without slowing down, I slid over to the right-hand lane to let her go by. I swear she never took her eyes off her cell phone which she had resting on the steering wheel. She never glanced my way as she passed by. I started noting the number of drivers who had their phones in hand; I figure nearly 1 in 4 drivers had a hand on the phone instead of the steering wheel. Easily half of those had their eyes down, looking at the phone instead of out the windshield. It is amazing there aren’t more accidents. I nearly had one whilst sending a note to myself to remind me of my survey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY WILLIAM… Great-grandson William Harold Loshbough V turned 2 years old this past weekend and celebrated in the “party” room at the Watervliet District Library. While we couldn’t attend, Anne and I were there in spirit.

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