12-10-2020 Letters & Commentary

PLEASE – PLEASE – SHOP AT HOME… when it is all said and done, one of the largest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic will be Main Street America. Sure MSA has weathered weather, stock market crashes, blight, epidemics (small pox, measles, scarlet fever, polio and flu), war (Revolutionary to domestic terrorism), and (fill in the blank) _.

Nothing of the above has systemically and relentlessly closed MSA and all the communities it serves; retail stores, services, government, schools, churches, sports, entertainment venues, family gatherings (including weddings and funerals) and etc.

Coming up is the most widely celebrated family and community holiday of all, Christmas, as a holyday and a holiday. Most of us have been shopping and planning for Christmas since the 4th of July, which is when Christmas marketing begins.

Now as we are nearing the most precious of days, and last-minute shopping is well underway. From prime rib to LEGOS, hot items are being checked off the lists. Just about that time is when last minute changes create consternations of where to and what to buy.

We’ll be dashing to the half-closed mall in hopes of filling the final gaps of our shopping list. Then a “dim” light will flash. “Wait a minute, isn’t that hardware still open? They did have an end of summer tool sale. I thought they closed!”

Drive slowly along MSA (Main Street America); notice the hometown stores still open. Make a “U” turn (try that in front of a mall) and pull in. If you can’t remember the owners’ name, he/she will welcome you, and perhaps knows you from church or the PTO. Go ahead mention you have some last-minute shopping to do, they’ll offer to help you out. If you’re stumped, ask about gift certificates. They’ll have one, or will create one with a store receipt.

If they look a little bit harried, smile and wish them well… they may be thinking if they can be open after the holidays… they have families too; kids’ presents to wrap and bills to pay.

SPECIAL OFFER… if you’re still stumped, call us here at the Record and we’ll try to help you shop in the Tri-City Record area. Call the record at 463-6397. If the number is busy call Amy at 876-1326 or me, Karl at 876-1327.

LAST MINUTE… Tri-City Record GIFT SUBSCRIPTION order form in this week’s paper on Page 3. Stop in or call 463-NEWS.

At the right time

When the prophet, Micah, predicted the birth of a Jewish ruler long before it happened in a Bethlehem manger, he probably had no idea about the Magi (“Wise Men”), the Star of Bethlehem, or about Herod, or about the shepherds watching sheep that night seven-hundred years later. He just knew the promise of the coming timeless one.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2, NIV) This was a promise that took 700 years to fulfill at the right time. But God didn’t forget, and the Messiah did come and begin to fulfill this and many other prophecies. We can say “begin to fulfill” because He is not finished yet. There’s much more to come. For example, the promises of Isaiah 9:6, 7: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (NIV)

All this hasn’t happened yet – but it will, at the right time. Meanwhile Jesus has come for us. What a promise He has given! “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. Discovering His light, His love, His forgiveness gives dark days new dawning. He always keeps His promises, and He will be right on time. Discover Him for yourself; 1-800-NEED-HIM.

Mandatory reporting package

Last year, a bipartisan group of state legislators reintroduced a package of bills that seeks to better protect minors from abuse. Some of these bills include improvements in areas such as informed consent for sensitive services, sexual misconduct education for students, campus sexual assault resource officers, modernizes and clarifies the crime of sexual misconduct under the guise of medical treatment, and more.

My bill would expand the list of mandatory reporters to include physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and athletic trainers. These would be added to the list of professions required to make an immediate report if they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or child neglect. After the initial report, they would be required to submit an official written report within 72 hours.

The legislation, House Bill (HB) 4376, received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 2, and was then passed by the committee on December 8.

As a legislator, I understand the importance of sponsoring sound legislation that protects Southwest Michigan. More importantly, as an educator and a parent of two high schoolers, I understand how imperative it is to protect the children in our community. Expanding the list of mandatory reporters will fulfill both objectives and I am proud to be a part of the larger bipartisan package aimed at curbing and preventing sexual assault and violence against children in Michigan. We are hopeful that the package as a whole will be signed into law this term and help to prevent these crimes in the future.

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.

Home heating assistance available for those in need

This has been a difficult year for Southwest Michigan residents. Many have directly or indirectly been affected by the coronavirus, either contracting it themselves or knowing loved ones or friends who have gotten it. Many more still have been affected by the response to the virus, having lost their jobs or businesses or otherwise having their livelihoods disrupted. The financial consequences of these situations are very real, and now that we are approaching winter’s coldest days, it may be difficult for a lot of families to be able to afford to heat their homes.

The good news is that winter heating assistance may be available through programs offered by the state, utility companies and community organizations.

The State Emergency Relief Program offers assistance for low-income residents who may need help due to an emergency. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/bewinterwise. The site also includes details on the Home Heating Credit, which you can read more about in the Michigan Taxpayer’s Guide. The site also features the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides free services to help reduce energy use and energy bills.

The Winter Protection Plan offers safeguards for senior citizens and low-income gas and electric customers from service shut-offs and high utility bills from Nov. 1 to March 31. The program allows eligible customers to defer payment to ease the burden of high winter utility bills during the protection period. To apply, please contact your natural gas or utility company.

Families of veterans and active duty military can receive emergency financial assistance to pay electric, oil, gas, and other heating fuels. For more information, contact the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Additionally, the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency offers emergency aid. Residents may learn more about the agency’s programs by visiting www.smcaa.com. The Heat And Warmth Fund (THAW) provides utility assistance for Michigan residents in need. For more information, visit www.thawfund.org.

It is important to be proactive to help avoid unnecessary utility shut-offs so you and your loved ones can keep your homes warm this winter. If you need help dealing with a state government issue, please contact my office by email at SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov or 517-373-6960.

Serious COVID-19 proposal with bipartisan consensus

Just last week, we received the good news that both Pfizer and Moderna requested emergency approval from the FDA to produce millions of doses of their COVID-19 vaccines and distribute them nationwide in the coming days.

While we know that a safe and effective vaccine is truly the key to protecting countless lives and recharging our economy, it’s no secret that millions of Americans are still struggling. Small businesses have been shuttered, hospitals are overwhelmed, and so many folks have not only lost jobs, but more tragically, loved ones.

That’s why I joined my colleagues in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and the U.S. Senate to roll out a $908 billion COVID relief package that can actually be signed into law by the president. This bill represents a serious proposal that will provide more funds for the job-saving Paycheck Protection Program, unemployment insurance, vaccine distribution, schools, hospitals, and state and local units of government.

With less than three weeks until Christmas, we simply cannot leave Washington without reaching a deal and passing a bill that will truly be a lifeline for the American people. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the job done for Southwest Michigan and the country.

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).

Watervliet Twp. write-in candidate thanks voters

Editor, Thank you to the Watervliet Township residents that voted for me as a write-in. Things have been hectic for everybody for the past few weeks with this COVID-19. I wish for everybody to be safe and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Respectfully, Richard Quinn

During the season of giving, Red Cross urges blood donation

December may be the season of giving – but it’s typically a challenging time to collect enough blood donations. Add in a pandemic, and this year could be even tougher than usual. That’s why the American Red Cross is urging those who are feeling well to give the gift of life by donating blood this holiday season.

The need for blood doesn’t stop for holidays. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more than 1 million blood transfusions will be given in the United States. Donations of all blood types are needed to ensure hospital shelves remain stocked to meet patient blood needs.

Make your 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.

To encourage donations this holiday season, those who come to donate blood, platelets or plasma with the Red Cross Dec. 18 – Jan. 4 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Important COVID-19 information for donors

As COVID-19 hospitalizations increase, hospital demand for convalescent plasma has also grown. COVID-19 convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation given by those who have recovered from this coronavirus. Their plasma contains antibodies that may help patients actively fighting the virus. Learn more about convalescent plasma and sign up to give at RedCrossBlood.org/ Plasma4COVID.

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.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Dec. 16-Jan. 4

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 11 a.m. – 4:45 p.m., Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, 4071 Naomi Rd., Sodus Thursday, Dec. 17, 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Knights of Columbus, 7454 Paw Paw Ave., Watervliet Tuesday, Dec. 29, 12 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., St Basil Catholic Church, 513 Monroe Blvd., South Haven Thursday, Dec. 31, 11 a.m. – 2:45 p.m., Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 06321 Blue Star Memorial Hwy., South Haven

Attorney General Dana Nessel issues urgent consumer alert on COVID-19 scams

In coordination with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Attorney General Dana Nessel again issued an urgent consumer alert to Michigan residents warning them of COVID-19-related scams.

“Scammers are lurking under every rock and behind every corner waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting people,” said Nessel. “It is my job as Michigan’s Attorney General to make sure our residents know what to watch out for so they don’t fall for the clever scams and ploys these bad actors come up with.”

Nessel’s consumer alert is an urgent reminder to avoid false claims, products and services that promise to cure, treat or prevent COVID-19. Vaccines, treatments, test kits and clinical trials are all examples of what scammers may be offering.

“We are working with our state, federal and local partners in preparing for distribution of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health. “However, Michigan residents should keep in mind that a vaccine has not yet been approved, so they should be extremely wary of anyone who offers them a vaccine now. When the COVID-19 vaccine does become available it will be in limited quantities, and people should look to trusted resources for information such as their local health department or their doctor. MDHHS will share this information widely and will provide regularly updated information on our website.”

The Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Homeland Security and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have all issued similar warnings. No vaccine has been approved for distribution by the FDA yet, reminded Nessel.

“We all want this devastating virus to go away,” said Nessel, “but until a vaccine is approved for distribution by the FDA, if someone offers you a COVID-19 vaccine, DO NOT TAKE IT!”

To report fraud or make a consumer complaint in Michigan, please contact the Attorney General’s connection to consumer protection online or at 517-335-7599.

Senate approves LaSata bill renaming portion of I-94 for fallen MDOT worker

The state Senate on December 3, 2020 approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata that would designate the portion of I-94 in Benton Township beginning at the interchange of highway I-94 and highway I-196 extending south to the Napier Avenue exit as the Kevin D. White Memorial Highway. White, a maintenance worker in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Coloma garage, died last October from injuries sustained when a tire from a passing truck struck him while he was clearing debris from the shoulder of I-94 in Berrien County.

“Despite the inherent risks that came with his job, Kevin White dedicated nine years of his life as an MDOT maintenance worker helping improve Southwest Michigan communities,” said LaSata. “He worked to improve our safety while sacrificing his own. His tragic loss is a sobering reminder of the dangers of his profession — and of our responsibilities as drivers. We as drivers must do better to focus while behind the wheel and limit distracted driving, especially in work zones.

“I thank my colleagues for approving this bill to honor Kevin’s memory and I am hopeful it will soon become law.”

White, 48, was a nine-year MDOT employee and the Benton Township supervisor. He left behind a wife, daughter and many family members, friends and colleagues who loved him.

Senate Bill 1119 now advances to the state House for consideration.

Eligible small businesses able to apply for grants starting on Dec. 15

(Press Release) The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $10 million grant program to help meet the urgent needs of small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced. The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative will utilize federal CARES Act funding to award grants of up to $15,000 to more than 650 small businesses across Michigan. The application period for small businesses seeking grants will begin on Tuesday, December 15.

The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative is intended to meet the urgent need of Michigan businesses including restaurants and bars, lodging providers, live event venues and movie theaters, conference and meeting facilities, indoor recreation facilities, and gyms and fitness centers. The grants under the program will support those businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce and may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, or utility expenses.

The program will provide a total of $10 million to one or more qualified grant administrators, who will administer and allocate grants of up to $15,000 each to eligible businesses around the state. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and the application window for small businesses will close once the targeted allocations within each of the state’s 10 prosperity regions are reasonably expected to be met.

To qualify for grant support, businesses must meet a number of criteria, including but not limited to: Being a business in one of the targeted industries; identifying a need for payroll, rent, or mortgage payments, and/or utility expenses necessary to continue or restart business operations; having at least two employees (including the owner) but fewer than 50; additional eligibility requirements can be found on Michiganbusiness.org/relief.

In addition, applicants will be required to self-certify that they are following all state and local orders related to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, those issued by DHHS and county health departments. In total, the MEDC has now launched 20 COVID-19 relief and recovery programs that have supported more than 18,500 businesses in the state and helped to retain nearly 147,000 jobs across all 83 counties. The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative is expected to benefit at least 670 small businesses and their employees. To learn more about MEDC’s COVID-19 response programs and the impact they are having on economic recovery efforts, visit michiganbusiness.org/covid19response.

Other resources for economic reopening efforts as well as businesses across Michigan struggling with economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at michiganbusiness.org/covid19.

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