12-12-2019 Letters and Commentary

Sidewalk spectators were treated to the Live Mannequins Saturday evening in the store windows from 7-8:30. With no bias, TCR Managing Editor Amy organized the event, and then made the Record building a gathering place with a chiminea wood fire and hot chocolate. Thanks, as well to Wyatt and Madison Wagner for posing as a newspaper editor and a newsboy in our window display. By 7:30 and the lights in the store window winked out, Big Ben and the Burly Boys were rocking at Arclight Brewery. Adding to the pleasure of hearing our music favorites played locally was seeing Grandson Benny sitting in with the band. Sunday truly kicked off the Christmas season with Santa Claus paraded into town, the lighting of the community tree, the crowning of the snow prince and princess and culminating with all the youngsters meeting with Santa.

DON’T CALL ME HONEY… I got Anne a Pomeranian puppy for Christmas. As that is something that can’t be precisely scheduled, I gave her the gift a week ago. We have had dogs, on and off throughout our marriage. They have all been great pets. The last two, Katie and Rosie were with us a long time. Since Rosie left us, the debate has always been for and against getting a new dog. Anne wanting a puppy for daytime companionship. Me wisecracking that I was all the pet she needed. Daughter Amy Loshbough had been scouting for a likely puppy for awhile and reported to me (confidentially) four weeks ago that a litter of Pomeranians had been born and would be ready for adoption in a couple weeks. I gave the green light and all was set as a surprise. Then when all the stars lined up and the sun was shining, Amy and Granddaughter Elaina Marchenko brought the tiny, 6-week-old puppy to our home. It was a great and happy surprise to Anne. As the puppy had not been named, Amy and Elaina had called it Honey Bear on the ride home. It fit the puppy’s coloring and demeanor. Anne liked it and so did I. Two weeks are almost passed and Anne and I are nearly trained by “Honey”. We let her out when she wants to, feed her three times a day, hand out treats when she’s good, and we place toys, shoes, and towels within her reach to pull and chew on. Anne is a bit more advanced than I, probably because she has all day to work on training. The puppy and I are at loggerheads regarding her name. Up to now, I was the only critter in the house called “Honey”. The four-legged Honey responds to the name well and seems to know when treats, food, and walks are offered. That “Honey” disregards the name when suggestions are addressed to me as in “Honey, can you take Honey outside”. I have gotten my “Honeys” confused at the call for meals, treats and take out the trash duties. Those that know such things suggest that it may be too early for a name change and to give the situation a little more time. That’s all right with me. There are a few sobriquets that I still answer too, including Sugar Pie and Mr. Wonderful.

Do you think your Medicare income-related premium is wrong?

Social Security cares about accuracy and we want you to get the exact benefit amount you deserve. Changes in the law affect how we calculate monthly Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and Medicare prescription drug coverage premiums. Medicare Part B provides coverage for physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items. Most beneficiaries will pay a standard premium for Part B coverage. Some beneficiaries may also pay a late enrollment surcharge. A small number of beneficiaries with higher incomes will pay a higher Part B premium based on their income. Medicare prescription drug coverage helps pay for prescription drugs. Plan costs vary depending on the plan, and on whether you get Extra Help with your portion of the Medicare prescription drug costs. A small number of beneficiaries with higher incomes will pay a higher prescription drug premium based on their income. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary who must pay more for your Medicare Part B or Medicare prescription drug coverage premium because of your income, and you disagree with the decision, you may request an appeal. The fastest and easiest way to file an appeal is by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal. You can also read more at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10125.pdf. If your income has gone down due to certain specific circumstances, or if you filed an amended tax return, you can ask for a new decision without having to file an appeal. See our fact sheet, Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries (SSA Publication No. 05-10536) at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10536.pdf. You don’t have to file an appeal to get a new decision. 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.

Making living memories

I have a black and white photograph of a back street in Boston that I took in 1971. The image contains a parked VW, some warehouse sliding doors, a dead-end “T” where there is a two-story brick residence with a wooden double door entry. There are also some branches from a tree that is just out of view. I have a perfect idea of what I am describing, but I can’t expect you to “see” it like I do. You would have to experience the moment of the interactions among me, the camera, the presences within the image, the light, the dark, the reflections, the stone street. But you can’t do that because you weren’t there. Every holiday season has pictures taken years ago in living black and white; images that are clearly printed on the paper of our memories. They are the people that have made us who we are today. And for us, their influence remains present. We experience the moments again and again because we were there. And they were there. We can sometimes experience a sudden sadness at the loss. A sadness awakened by the lights, or by the darks, or by the reflections, or by a stone street. They are unexpected surprises, and they find us unprepared as we interact again with the presences that we can still “see”. We wish we could be there again, but we can’t. We can just remember the images and cry in our hearts. We could be full of self-pity over this, or we could go on with the confidence that the Jesus who came that first Christmas will keep His promise to come again. As we wait for reunions, we need to be busy focusing on others. We can do that if we choose to. The choice is ours. Remember the images, but live in hope and focus on the reality of the present.

Secret Santa

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank the Secret Santa who paid for our meal after dining out at Gala-T-Inn in Hartford last Saturday. When the waitress presented us with the check she told us the table near us paid for our meal! With all the negative news on the media it was refreshing to know there are still good people in this world “paying it forward”. We will do the same.

Whoever you are we are truly grateful and blessed.

Dawn Consolino, Coloma

Live mannequins in Watervliet a great addition to Hometown Christmas Celebration

Dear Editor,

Hats off to Watervliet City for all they did during their Hometown Christmas weekend. The Live Mannequins on Main Street event was wonderful. All the storefronts looked beautiful and the volunteers who were in the store windows did a great job. It makes me so happy when business owners are up for the challenge of participating in a community event and being a part of a great weekend. What an amazing start for a new addition to the festivities. The committee and volunteers should be commended for their awesome hard work and dedication to make it a success!

Chana Kniebes

North Berrien Community Development

Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce

Supporting America’s military

Dear Editor,

With your help 170 service members are each receiving a box filled with love, support, a little bit of home and lots of Holiday Cheer!

Thank you for your very generous donation for our 17th annual “Christmas Open House” event. There are no words that can express our deep appreciation of your support to our mission of supporting the troops. We are committed to projects which help raise the morale of our troops and bring more support to America’s service members, veterans, and their families.

Saturday, November 2, 2019 was an amazing day at Stevensville American Legion Post 568! The Blue Star Mothers, along with many volunteers, packed each box containing at least two one-gallon size ziplock bags of toiletries as well as two one-gallon size ziplock bags with food items. Every box also contained Christmas stockings and larger bulk goodies; various cookies, crackers, tuna, peanut butter and jelly, magazines, books, wipes, and very special hand-made cards and letters written by students from local area schools. The total cost of mailing was $2,753.05. To date we have sent over 6,540 boxes at a postage cost of over $130,240.00. You enabled us to accomplish this, and we are so very appreciative!

Thank you for being part of a community that is so supportive of America’s military, and for your contribution that made this project successful. We could never have done this without your help!

With sincere gratitude,

Blue Star Mothers Chapter 177

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter was sent to the Blue Star Mothers Chapter 177 and shared with Tri-City Record)

Blue Star Mothers Chapter 177,

Greetings from Bahrain! I thank you for the bottom of my heart for the care packages. They were well received by the command. Since I do not need anything, I immediately share care packages with my chiefs and junior enlisted that may not receive packages from home.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa

Please pass on our thanks to your members and your donators.



Command Master Chief


Rep. Griffin joins House in reversing governor’s harmful budget cuts

Wednesday, Dec. 4, state Rep. Beth Griffin and the Michigan House approved a budget plan to reverse many of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s misguided budget vetoes – a key step in the effort to restore funding for school safety grants, veterans services, education and other vital programs.

Whitmer vetoed nearly $1 billion in Legislature-approved funding when she signed the budget plan for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The House’s passage of a supplemental budget restores much of this critical funding and fends off the governor’s numerous attempts to force her proposed 45-cent per gallon gas tax hike.

A measure sponsored by Griffin – restoring $10 million in safety school grant funding – was incorporated into the House-approved measure. The initiative secures grants awarded to the Van Buren ISD and Mattawan Schools, and will increase school safety through panic alert systems, intercom systems, secure doorways and locks, security cameras, shatter-resistant windows, two-way radios and more. Griffin said the plan she spearheaded also allocates money to give school districts the option to utilize a statewide panic button app.

“As an educator, I understand the need for improved safety measures in our schools,” said Griffin, of Mattawan. “Students and faculty should feel safe when going to school each day, and parents also should know their children are safe in the classroom. The governor’s decision to cut school safety grants was a severe misstep and it’s why I have actively fought to ensure any new budget plan restores funding to enhance security within our schools.”

The House-approved budget plan Griffin cast her vote in support for also restores funding for:

Clean drinking water – the measures restore $15 million for grants to 15 airports for PFAS and other emerging contaminants remediation, which was appropriated as part of the $120 million for a new drinking water protection and innovation program.

Veterans – the plan reinstates $4 million to the County Veteran Service Fund to help connect veterans with the benefits they have earned through their military service. Local county veteran service departments and accredited service officers play an important role, especially in rural parts of Michigan, in assisting veterans and their families navigate the VA system when filing claims for certain benefits.

Public safety – the budget plan reverses the governor’s $13 million in cuts to the program allowing sheriffs to hire patrols for secondary roads.

County jails – the House restored funding to reimburse county jails for housing inmates that would otherwise be housed at state correctional facilities.

Jobs for Michigan Graduates – the plan restores funding for JMG, a program that connects Michigan students to careers in their community.

Autism services – the supplemental budget restores the over $1 million in funding for vital programs such as the Autism Navigator and Train the Trainer.

“The governor used children, seniors, veterans and all Michigan residents as political pawns in her quest to raise the gas tax by 45 cents per gallon,” Griffin said. “I’m not going to stand for it. Our plan provides another chance to restore important funding the people of Michigan rely on and deserve.”

The budget plan approved by the House now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

U.S. Representatives press PM Trudeau to reconsider permanent national repository near Great Lakes shores

U.S. Representatives Fred Upton, Debbie Dingell, Paul Mitchell, and Dan Kildee all of Michigan pressed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in opposition to the placement of a national repository for nuclear waste storage anywhere near the Great Lakes, which is currently being considered by the Canadian government.

“We stand in strong opposition to any decision by the Canadian government to select or consider a permanent national repository for nuclear waste storage anywhere near the Great Lakes,” wrote the lawmakers. “This is a treasured natural resource each of our countries share and we urge you to stand with us to protect these waters for future generations.”

In November, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bipartisan amendment introduced by Dingell and Upton expressing the sense of Congress that the governments of the United States and Canada should not allow permanent or long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel or other radioactive waste near the Great Lakes.

Stabenow and Peters raise concerns over potential Canadian nuclear waste sites

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters released the following statements raising concerns after the Nuclear Waste Management Organization in Canada announced potential sites to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron:

“This makes no sense. Canada has as much at stake as we do in protecting our Great Lakes. There is no justification for a nuclear waste site so close to Lake Huron to even be under consideration. I will reach out to the Canadian government as I have in the past when I led efforts to stop the last nuclear waste storage proposal. I am hopeful they will be willing to recognize and respect the deep concerns of the people of Michigan,” said Senator Stabenow.

“The Great Lakes provide drinking water to over 40 million people and are part of who we are as Michiganders. That’s why we need to do everything we can to protect the Great Lakes for future generations. I am extremely concerned about the possibility of hazardous nuclear waste being stored near the Great Lakes. Any accident could have catastrophic and long-term consequences to the health and well-being of Michigan and the country. I urge the Nuclear Waste Management Organization in Canada to reconsider naming a finalist location so close to the Great Lakes,” said Senator Peters.

U.S. House votes to send legislation to stop illegal robocalls to the President’s desk

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton voted recently for and the House passed the bipartisan TRACED Act, an effort to put an end to illegal robocalls in southwest Michigan and across the country. The legislation – S. 151 – now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

“I have been part of the effort to stop illegal, pesky, and annoying robocalls all year because enough is enough,” Upton said. “It’s an issue that impacts families, hospitals, seniors, and Americans across the country. Robocalls fill up hospital lines, try to steal our personal information and security, and threaten our well-being and sanity. Already 54 billion robocalls have been placed in 2019, averaging 164 calls per person – including more than 203 million robocalls in our district alone. I’m glad to see this bipartisan effort advance through the House and Senate and hope to see President Trump sign it quickly.”

Specifically, the TRACED Act will: Implement a nationwide caller authentication system so consumers can again trust that the number they see on their caller ID is actually the person calling them; allow consumers to block unlawful calls in a consistent and transparent way, at no extra charge; ensures that law enforcement and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have the tools, information, and incentives to go after robocallers that break the law.

The House had previously passed H.R. 3375, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, in July by a vote of 429-3. Upton was a cosponsor of that bill and was a vocal leader for the bill’s passage.

The TRACED Act is a bipartisan compromise between the House and Senate, and it passed the House unanimously.

Nessel urges FTC to strengthen online protections for children

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a bipartisan group of 24 other Attorneys General has urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to strengthen its rules prohibiting websites, mobile applications, and other digital marketing companies from collecting and using the personal information of children under the age of 13.

“My colleagues and I have come together to provide meaningful suggestions to strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rule which would benefit Michigan’s children through enhanced privacy measures,” said Nessel. “To ensure that we’re keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of technology, fortifying the walls between young children and those looking to prey on them is crucial.”

While numerous websites and mobile applications collect personal information from users – including geolocation information, browser histories, search histories, and voice recordings – since 1996, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has prohibited collecting this data from children under 13.

In their letter, the Attorneys General ask the FTC to expand its definition of personal information to include items such as faceprints used to unlock cellphones, health data from internet-connected smart watches, and kids’ genetic information.

The Attorneys General also recommend that the FTC crack down on companies who embed code in children’s mobile applications and collect data to target children with behavioral advertising; and to examine how the rules apply to school-issued laptops that are “free” so long as companies get to collect information from the students using them.

Furthermore, the Attorneys General assert that the FTC should not create exceptions to the rule such as allowing platforms that host both child-directed and general audience content to work around COPPA’s requirements.


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