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11-28-2019 Letters and Commentary

Good to give thanks

If you were to wander the halls of Philadelphia’s Hopkinson Elementary School at morning assembly time during Thanksgiving season in 1957, you would hear us singing “Come, Ye Thankful People Come”, a familiar Thanksgiving song. That’s where I learned it. And then, in 1962 when I graduated from sixth grade at Fitzpatrick Elementary, our class recited an extended passage from Proverbs about wisdom and how to get understanding. We had practiced it repeatedly and there are portions that I still remember today. When Thanksgiving was established in 1789 by George Washington, the “Father” of our nation, it was by request of Congress. We didn’t have any problem acknowledging God’s blessings on our nation until more recently. And now it’s become illegal to do so. What a turnaround – to the point that our young son was stopped from privately praying in thanks before his lunchtime meal at a Fulton, NY public school where he was enrolled. It had become illegal. The foundations of our nation are clear to those who have the courage to report history instead of having the audacity to invent it. God’s “Providential” guidance and protection of our nation was clear to Washington. But that reality has become foggy with the rise of the religion of secular humanism, which, at best, sees God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, only “deistically”. The idea of “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” however, cannot be surrendered. When Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed, God was willing to spare those valley cities and others around them for the sake of just a few that did not surrender to their culture’s debauchery. For the good of our nation and because it’s the right thing to do, we need to remember the Psalm 92 passage: “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, oh Most High.” (NASB)

Free up your time by using “my Social Security”

Time is one of our most valuable commodities. That’s why at Social Security, we are constantly improving our online resources to make doing business with us easier and faster. With a “my Social Security” account, those receiving benefits can change their address and direct deposit information; get proof of their benefits; and request replacement documents, like a Medicare card. For those that aren’t currently getting benefits, they can check their earnings record, get estimates of future benefits, and view their Social Security Statement. In Michigan, they can even request a replacement Social Security card online. To see everything that can be done with a “my Social Security” account and to open an account, go to The following actions can be done without a “my Social Security” account. Select or change the way information is received from Social Security if blind or visually impaired at Block electronic and automated telephone access to personal information at Apply for extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs at Be sure to share “my Social Security” with friends and family. By freeing up their time, they may plan on spending more of their valuable time with the people they love. Vonda VanTil 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

RIP GORDON… We, here at the Record, were saddened by the news that former Watervliet Record Publisher Gordon Banasik passed away Saturday last. Gordon and his wife Joan were printing pioneers. Joan had a journalism degree and Gordon studied printing prior to enlisting in the U.S. Army where he worked on the Stars & Stripes military newspaper. On their return from Germany at the end of his enlistment, they took a detour on the way home to North Dakota to stop off in Watervliet. They had read in a newspaper trade association that the Watervliet Record was for sale. The passing of Leon Case in 1959 ended the 65-year run of the Case family as owners and operators of the Watervliet Record newspaper and printing. When Gordon and Joan Banasik bought the business, it began a 25-year tenure of publishing the Record. They sold the business to Anne and me in February 1984. By the way, they never returned to North Dakota. From day one, of our ownership, they treated us like family. Gordon took me around town and invited me to the Lions Club meetings held at the Board of Trade. See his obituary on Page 8.

FOR THE BIRDS… not really. Many thanks to all the sponsors of the annual Tri-City Record Turkey Drawing. Also, many thanks to all those that entered the drawing. As a visitor to the Record said the morning of the drawings… “This is so nice for you to do. And it is fun.” I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings.

COLOMA AND WATERVLIET DDAs share sponsorship of Small Town Saturday ads. This is the first time, that I recall, that the two Downtown Development authorities have joined to promote a community event. The DDAs bought two full pages in the Record and then provided them as free advertising space to all their local businesses. Those are on pages 4 & 5. So please shop at home and visit Coloma and Watervliet for Small Town Saturday.

THE BIG MEAL… A couple of weeks ago while talking to my son Justin the topic of Thanksgiving dinner came up. He asked what was the biggest Thanksgiving dinner I have cooked. I laughed and said oh about 2,000 people. That was when I was cooking in the Air Force. Then this past weekend I got a post on Facebook from a fellow cook who served with me. “Hey Sarge,” he wrote. “I was just thinking about our days at Alconbury, we sure had some good times. Happy Thanksgiving.” That’s what got me reminiscing… the mess hall we worked in served four meals a day seven days a week, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight chow. We usually served 1,200 to 1,500 enlisted men at the main meals, and 200-300 more at midnight chow. And on holidays too, most notably Thanksgiving and Christmas when they would serve the traditional meals of turkey on Thanksgiving and turkey and ham for Christmas. The Thanksgiving dinner was the largest and instead of the usual two hours for dining time I think it was three hours because it was the only day of the year the families of the enlisted men and officers could eat there as well. Actually, the mess hall had two wings one of which was used daily and the other one was basically covered up. It was there where the families of officers and enlisted men were invited to dine with us on Thanksgiving. I think we cooked two batches of turkeys one the day before and the other the night before. And it was a lot of turkeys. We had four ovens, each of which held four deep roasting pans which held six birds. My math and recollections are both a bit shaky but the numbers come out to 96 birds a batch. While the second batch of turkeys were cooking the first batch were being carved up. And the meat was placed in deep dish trays and covered up. The whole Thanksgiving Day meal preparation was a maximum effort for all the people on the mess hall staff from the Mess Sergeant to the KPs. Everybody was working to prepare a traditional meal for the troops and their families far away from home. The Thanksgiving dinner had all the trimmings, there were candy dishes and cranberries, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and gravy. We had four bakers (in their own bake shop) that baked cakes and pies, rolls and biscuits, and bread. Keep in mind that while all of this was going on the regular shift was preparing and serving the regularly scheduled meals breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight chow. The mess crew really did a great job. The families were fed family style. The sergeants would seat the families and serve them dinner. The KPs would clear off the dishes after the meal and then sergeants would serve desserts. The enlisted men went through the usual chow line, but it was all decorated up for Thanksgiving. The food they got was the same as the families eating in the other dining hall. Anne and I married a year after I was assigned to RAF Alconbury and she came back with me for the final two years of my hitch. So, she got to participate in some of the events at the base and ate in the mess hall with some of the other young families stationed there. Her report at the time was the food was pretty good, but she got a little queasy and skipped dessert. Happily it wasn’t the food; Justin was born in the spring.

Successful One Warm Coat distribution with over 150 served

To the Editor:

Riverside/ Coloma United Methodist Churches distributed over 150 coats to residents of seven different communities in October. The churches along with members of the Coloma Lioness Lions Club and Paw Paw Lake Rotary worked with me and One Warm Coat to collect coats this fall.

I am so glad to work with One Warm Coat. There is a real need for coats in our local communities and One Warm Coat’s program made it easy to help us make a difference and spread much needed warmth. Along with the coats everyone also received a hat, gloves and scarf.

A “huge thank you” to all those who helped make this a success: to those who donated items, knitted or crocheted, collected coats, etc., and all the volunteers who helped in organizing and setting up and those who helped the day of the coat distribution. I am so grateful for the hard work and support of everyone as it could not have been done without all of you. If I have missed anyone, I apologize, but know that you are all appreciated.

Last year, more than 500,000 warm coats were distributed across North America to children, women and men in need through One Warm Coat’s Coat Drive program. They hope to surpass that total this year.

Thank you and Blessings to All,

Beth Kraiger

“One Warm Coat” Coordinator

Big band memories preserved

Dear Editor,

I just want to express a big “Thank You” to Tri-City Record for publishing the very nice article about my father, Frank Reris, and the album of signed photographs my sisters (Linda Henke and Pat Brower) and I donated to the North Berrien Historical Society. The photographs are of famous “big band” leaders and singers who appeared at Paw Paw Lake’s famous Crystal Palace in the 1950s and early 60s. The pictures are autographed to my father, who was a bouncer at Crystal Palace. They are a treasure to be shared with others in the community, so our family donated them to the historical society to be included in their display about beautiful Crystal Palace.

And another big thank you to the North Berrien Historical Society for taking the time to take pictures and write up the article for the Record. Preserving these memories helps us, our children, and grandchildren remember and learn about the era of romantic orchestras and ballroom dancing. It’s so nice to know there are people who want to treasure and preserve the memories of a past that will never be again.

Rosanne Bittner

The sound of a heartbeat can save lives

To Michigan registered voters:

We all know a heartbeat is an indicator of life, a sound heard and felt with expectation. So why not use that indicator to protect every citizen equally?

Presently there is a petition drive in Michigan to obtain 340,000 signatures to stand for the unborn. “A heartbeat detected is a baby protected.” The MI Heartbeat Bill petition has been circulating around our state, with signatures collected in 82 out of 83 counties. Would you be a voice to stand for the sanctity of life? Would you consider going to to obtain a petition to sign, as well as encourage others in your church, family or friends who are registered Michigan voters to sign? From the website you can contact your county captain to be a supporter and help.

May we be a voice for the voiceless! Last year 27,000 babies were aborted in Michigan. Even though we are 10th in population, Michigan is fourth in the number of abortions performed in our nation. If Michigan would have had a Heartbeat Bill in place last year that number would have gone from 27,000 to around 500! Our petition can save children now and still protect our laws with protective clauses when Roe is overturned.

We must stand now against current assaults on life. The Michigan Heartbeat Bill was drafted by six Michigan legislative attorneys, signed off by the prestigious ACLJ and was co-sponsored by over 30 Michigan legislators who know Michigan law and want to end abortion now. May we stand together in unity to save the lives of the unborn in our generation and the next.

In Van Buren County, the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition captain can be reached by email at or by phone (269) 332-1027. Captains can also serve in nearby counties.

Thank you for your consideration and time.

Chris S.

21st Century Cures looks to modernize coverage & access to life-saving cures

U.S. Representatives Fred Upton and Diana DeGette (D-CO) recently released their initial vision for their landmark Cures 2.0 legislation and issued a call to action for ideas and other feedback.

The first installment of 21st Century Cures was signed into law nearly three years ago, and already, there are better ways to prevent and screen cancer, an improved understanding of the human brain, and improvements in the field of regenerative medicine. A record number of new drugs have been approved – including new generics – which have helped lower health care costs for millions of Americans.

Cures 2.0 will aim to improve care delivery and look at how it is possible to modernize coverage and access to life-saving cures.

“We are so proud of what the first effort of 21st Century Cures has been able to achieve in such a short amount of time, but one thing we have heard from listening to folks across the nation is that we need to do more to promote access to these life-saving cures,” Upton and DeGette said. “There are still too many patients without a treatment, and we need to do everything we can to help them now.”

Mirroring a similar process as their previous effort, Upton and DeGette have been working in a truly bipartisan, transparent, and collaborative manner, putting patients and their needs at the center of all discussions. They have begun meeting with and gathering input from stakeholders and other experts.

Veteran homelessness declines in Michigan by nearly 14 percent

Veteran homelessness in the U.S. continues to decline according to a new national estimate announced by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson. HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report finds the total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2019 decreased 2.1 percent since last year. View local estimates of veteran homelessness.

“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and now it’s our duty to make certain they have a home to call their own,” said Secretary Carson. “We’ve made great progress in our efforts to end veteran homelessness, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure our heroes have access to affordable housing.”

“In Michigan, the reduction in veterans experiencing homelessness indicates that our collaborative efforts to help them gain housing stability are working,” said HUD Midwest Regional Administrator Joseph P. Galvan. “This is great news particularly for those who put their lives on the line so we could remain the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Each year, thousands of local communities around the country conduct one-night “Point-in-Time” estimates of the number of persons experiencing homelessness—in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and in unsheltered locations. This year’s estimate finds 37,085 veterans experienced homelessness in January 2019, compared to 37,878 reported in January 2018.

HUD estimates among the total number of reported veterans experiencing homelessness in 2019, 22,740 veterans were found in sheltered settings while volunteers counted 14,345 veterans living in places not meant for human habitation.

These declines are the result of intense planning and targeted interventions, including the close collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Both agencies jointly administer the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines permanent HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services provided by the VA.

HUD-VASH is complemented by a continuum of VA programs that use modern tools and technology to identify the most vulnerable veterans and rapidly connect them to the appropriate interventions to become and remain stably housed. This year to date, more than 11,000 veterans, many experiencing chronic forms of homelessness, found permanent housing and critically needed support services through the HUD-VASH program.

HUD and VA have a wide range of programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including health care, housing solutions, job training and education. More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at

Veterans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact their local VA Medical Center and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator or call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET.


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