12-27-18 Letters and Commentary

Christmas Police Report Dear Editor, Local law enforcement officials have expressed concern over the recent rash of break-ins reported late night on December 24 into the early morning hours of the 25th. Watervliet, Coloma and Hartford police departments describe similar, if not identical, home invasions where there are no visible sign of tracks around the dwellings and no signs of forced entry. What really has officials scratching their heads is the perpetrator is said to leave many wrapped packages heaped around the victims’ Christmas trees. Homeowners claim the packages where not there prior to retiring to bed. An area hunter whose wife gifted him a trail cam realized it had been activated and captured an image that the police say is their main person of interest. State, county and local departments ask residents for help to find an elderly overweight male, with white hair and full beard, wearing a red flannel suit with white trim, black belt and boots. In other news, South Haven has been asked to change its name to Grinch, Michigan following the recent disappearance of Watervliet’s beloved superintendent, Kevin Schooley. Bruce Kibler WHS alumnus

Christmas boxes for U.S. service members assistance is  appreciated Dear Editor, With your help 187 service members are each receiving a box filled with love, support, a little bit of home and lots of Holiday Cheer! Additionally, 26 boxes have been sent to a Marine unit in Iraq. Thank you for your very generous donation of advertising for our 16th 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 3, 2018 was an amazing day at Stevensville American Legion Post 568! The Blue Star Mothers along with several volunteers packed each box containing at least two gallon size zip lock bags of toiletries as well as two gallon size zip lock bags with food items. Every box also contained Christmas stockings and larger bulk goodies; Oreo cookies, peanut butter and jelly, magazines, books, wipes and very special handmade cards and letters written by students from local area schools. The total cost of mailing was $2,786.95. To date we have sent over 5,800 boxes at a cost of over $100,000. 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!!! Blue Star Mothers Chapter 177

First Michigan waterways designated as state water trails Eight waterways totaling 540-plus miles that flow through more than a dozen counties have been selected as the first state-designated water trails in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources announced today. The DNR and the Office of the Great Lakes partnered on the effort to finalize this first round of designations, which includes: Central River Raisin Water Trail, 11 miles in Monroe County; Chain of Lakes Water Trail, more than 80 miles in Antrim and Kalkaska counties; Huron River Water Trail, 104 miles in Livingston, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties; Island Loop Route, 10 miles in St. Clair County; Flint River Trail, 72 miles in Genesee and Lapeer counties; Middle Grand River Water Trail, 87 miles in Clinton, Eaton, Ingham and Ionia counties; Shiawassee River Trail, 88 miles in Genesee, Oakland, Saginaw and Shiawassee counties; Upper Grand River Water Trail, 91 miles in Eaton, Ingham and Jackson counties. A water trail is a designated route on a navigable waterway such as a lake, river, canal or bay that is designed and managed to create a positive outdoor recreation experience for the user. Water trails feature well-developed access points; often are near significant historical, environmental or cultural points of interest and often have nearby amenities like restaurants, hotels and campgrounds. “Water trails naturally are an increasing trend in Michigan and throughout the country, as interest in paddle sports and other water-based recreation continues to grow,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson. “We are pleased to help advance these opportunities by recognizing model public water trails that set the standard for future of Michigan’s water trails program.” Paul Yauk, the DNR’s state trails coordinator, said that Michigan is in a great position to work with partners to create a statewide water trails program that complements Michigan’s broader trails system. “Outdoor recreation-based tourism is experiencing major growth right now,” Yauk said. “Designating these rivers as official water trails shines an even brighter light on some incredible natural resources. We fully expect that offering – and expanding – water trail opportunities in Michigan will encourage more outdoor recreation and healthier lifestyles, and also serve as regional destinations that will give a boost to local economies.” Michigan has more miles of Great Lakes coastline than any other state and thousands of miles of rivers and streams. The use of waterways for transportation in Michigan is not new. Native Americans first used them for sustenance and trade; early European settlers used them to transport goods and timber; and, water resources were the foundation of Michigan’s earliest manufacturing and shipping industries. “Today’s announcement celebrates our state’s connections to the Great Lakes coast and Michigan’s inland waters,” said Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon Allan. “We have made significant investments with community partners to build, market and maintain water trails. This program is the culmination of a commitment to public access and opportunities for recreation on Great Lakes waters – especially important as we see paddle sports gain tremendously in popularity.” Bob Wilson, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, supported the department’s announcement designating these important water corridors as Michigan water trails. “With Michigan leading the nation in land-based trail mileage and the unmatched water resources we are blessed with, it is another important step we can take to provide our citizens with a world-class trail system,” Wilson said. Ribbon cuttings for the newly designated water trails will take place during the 2019 paddling season. Watch michigan.gov/dnrtrails for more information, which will be provided early in 2019, on the application process for next year’s designations.

Treasure hunting 2019 You never know what you might find when you treasure hunt with a metal detector. Years ago I bought a “Sharp Shooter” metal detector. I’ve had a lot of fun with it. Although I’ve never found anything of great value, it has provided many hours of healthy outdoor recreation. A list of my discoveries would include quarters found on Lake Michigan beaches, dimes found on North Carolina beaches, a tin cup found entangled in tree roots along the edge of Lake Michigan, and lots of “trash” items, like bottle caps and pull tabs. Oh well. Persisting in treasure hunting may someday be rewarded with valuable finds, maybe not. There are no guarantees. But without persistence the results are totally guaranteed – no treasure. Sometimes, buried in our experiences we can discover treasures as well. Not monetary treasures. Not gold rings or silver pendants. But treasures of learning that have value different from gold and silver. The new year approaches with new opportunity for success. We need to make wise choices going forward. We have no guarantees about the future, but at least “digging up and dusting off” what gave good results this last year could help us persist in right directions. I’m always reading about metal detecting. I want to learn. Reading the Bible can give good input towards practical learning for treasure hunting life. Here’s a creative suggestion. Proverbs, all about wisdom, has 31 chapters. Reading one chapter a day will complete Proverbs in one month. Doing it throughout the year allows us to “learn from the Master” 12 times this next year. We will be surprised at the treasures we dig up. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” No pull tabs here. That’s guaranteed. So get out there, enjoy the hunt and discover your own life treasures in Proverbs this year!

Retire online with Social Security quickly and easily The idea of applying for Social Security retirement benefits might seem daunting, but it’s not. There’s no need to visit an office. You don’t have to use the phone. We have an online retirement application that you can complete in as little as 15 minutes and from the comfort of your home or office. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if any further information is needed. It’s as simple as that. You can start your application now at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/ retirement. You can apply online for retirement benefits or benefits as a spouse if you: Are at least 61 years and 9 months old; are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record; have not already applied for retirement benefits; and want your benefits to start no more than 4 months in the future. (We cannot process your application if you apply for benefits more than 4 months in advance.) You’ll have to create or sign into your “my Social Security” account as part of your application. If you don’t have an account yet, this is a perfect time to create one. Just as important, this is where you will be able to check your application for benefits. Like our other online services, “my Social Security” is available on your time and there’s no waiting in line or on the phone. You can see your entire work history going back to your first job to make sure we have all of your wages correctly tallied. Create or sign into your account at www.socialsecurity.gov/ myaccount. Are you curious about how much your retirement benefits will be? You can get an idea of what your benefits will be using our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecu-rity.gov/estimator. Social Security provides services for millions of people, but we also want to make your experience with us as simple and easy as possible. Our many online services, including retiring online, are part of that mission. You can access more at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. 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 vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

HOMETOWN HERO SAYS FAREWELL… Departing Watervliet Schools Superintendent Kevin Schooley stopped by the office last week to say goodbye and thank us for our friendship and support for the past 20 years or so. “Us” was Copy Editor Laurie, Managing Editor Amy and her husband Bill and myself. Laurie, Amy and I were working on the paper, Bill had just stopped in. By the time we had said our thank yous and goodbyes, there wasn’t a dry eye in the office. Why the tears? “Mr. Schooley” came to Watervliet as an elementary school teacher and soon captivated all the youngsters at North School as a wonderful leader, friend and educator. It was not long that he moved into the principal’s chair and continued to lead his pupils by example and kind words. And when the time came, he moved to the Superintendent’s office. The youngsters he came to know in North School were now graduating, those coming along behind, claimed “Mr. Schooley” as their own special friend. Graduates were now coming up to him to introduce him to their kids and thanking him for his friendship at school. It is no cliché to say he will be missed. It is a rite of passage that teachers come and go in a student’s life. But that is no guarantee that the teacher will make such an impact as one like Mr. Schooley. Our community and school district have benefited greatly with the likes of Kevin Schooley. Thank you, Mr. Schooley and good luck in your new school adventure.

CHRISTMAS PAST… It is hard to believe Christmas is already over. As in all things good, the anticipation of the Christmas Holiday seems to slow the clock down up to the moment of arrival and then the day whizzes by. At least that was the case with the Bayers. Then with the arrival of the Justin Bayer family on Christmas Eve, followed closely by the appearance of Santa Claus, the holiday was all that is was expected to be. Justin and Kris with kids Eli and Kendall rounded out the crowd at Amy and Billy’s house on Christmas Day. As great-grandparents, Anne and I had front row seats whenever we wanted to watch 2-year-old William and his little brother Jaxon play with their toys and wrapping paper. Being blessed with youngsters about on such a day is a bonus. Having grandkids and great-grandkids is even better. We are grateful to have Amy and Billy next door to share these special days with, all the more so when so many kids are there. Our family always had a solid tradition of celebrating together. As kids our family home was the site of the party. Mom and Dad made everyone welcome… my earliest memories always included future brother and sister in-laws, Doug, Germain, Marianne, and Janice. Happily, my parents’ 13 kids were doubled by marriage as they followed suit and immediately started families! Mom’s youngest, Richard, was born one day before the birth of her 4th grandchild, Chris. Adding to the hoopla, mom and daughter-in-law were in the same hospital… two baby Bayers and two mom Bayers! By the time the number of grandkids more than doubled the original 13, the Christmas celebration spilled over to brother John’s house around the corner from Mom and Dad’s… parents seemed to congregate at one place and kids at the other; with a lot of running back and forth so there was a path worn across the neighbor’s place in-between. Such were the days. Now we are doing the same with our house next door to Amy’s and Billy’s. Baby William, visiting one day last week, took off for his Grandma Amy’s when getting out the back door. There is already a path and I’ll bet it will have lights and a bench along the way someday. Then these kids will be talking about going back and forth between the houses for treats and presents.

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