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Letters to the Editor

Thank you

Tri-City Record,

Thank you so much for your generous donation of a one-year subscription to the paper! I am so very grateful, and I cannot wait to see the articles.

Natalie Hart

Miss Watervliet 2023


Our poor and expensive health care system

Dear Editor,

The USA needs to replace our outrageous health care system; possibly by adapting Canada’s “Universal Health Care System”

Life expectancy in the USA is 78.2 years and costs $12,000 per person annually. Life expectancy in Canada is 82.8 years and costs $6,000 per person annually!

The USA is the only country out of the top 30 developed countries in the world without “Universal Health Care.” The USA is ranked number 40 in the world for life expectancy!

Don Oderkirk, Watervliet


Local DeMolay chapter in need to community help

Greetings,

Parents seek activities for their children that are fun, wholesome, patriotic, and value oriented. These are not readily found or promoted in social media or society. DeMolay is a program that does. After an absence of over 45 years, DeMolay is returning to Coloma and Southwest Michigan.

For over 100 years, DeMolay has been enriching the lives of young men by providing a fun-filled platform that develops key life skills such as public speaking, leadership, and event planning. DeMolay bolsters a young man’s character by emphasizing the virtues of comradeship, reverence, love of parents, patriotism, courtesy, cleanness, and fidelity.

DeMolay does not attempt to take the place of home, parental values and guidance, religion or place of worship, or school but supplement all of them with a supporting program of teaching good citizenship in a fun-filled environment. Teenage men will be offered both fun and serious activities to grow to be better citizens by having a wholesome occupation for their spare time, making worthwhile friends with like goals, receiving adult mentoring, and learning and helping to plan a fun-filled, exciting and complete program of all-around development.

DeMolays are essentially in charge of their own programs. Young men take ownership of their own DeMolay experience - generating ideas, planning events, coordinating the logistics and budgets, and executing their plans. Each DeMolay Chapter is responsible for defining its success, with organization and fun activities chosen by the young men themselves. All this is accomplished under the mentorship of trained Advisors, selected from the local community. Our Chapter will be tailored to support their interests, while ensuring the safety of members and developing core values and skills to enrich their lives.

DeMolay International stresses high moral values and safety. Every DeMolay Advisor must complete a Mandatory Youth Protection Training program and pass a criminal background check by DeMolay International. Further information can be found on the DeMolay International website www.demolay.org or DeMolay Michigan website www.michigandemolay.com.

DeMolay welcomes all young men between the ages of 12-21 years of age. As our Southwest Gold Coast Chapter grows, it may expand to include younger men between 9 and 12 years with another program specifically designed for them. DeMolay is an inclusive organization. A high level of involvement and enthusiasm is far more important for success in DeMolay than any particular skill or ability.

The newly chartered Southwest Gold Coast Chapter needs help! To make our chapter successful we need help in identifying young men who might benefit.

To start getting the word out that DeMolay is a fun organization that young men may wish to join, we are hosting a SUPER BRAWL SUNDAY on February 12 at 1:00 p.m. in the second-floor common room of the Coloma Masonic Lodge, 262 N. Paw Paw Street in Coloma. Entry is via the back door near the railroad tracks. Not all young men are football fans. They might be bored by the Super Bowl! Here is an opportunity to game with other young men with our Super Smash Bros. Tournament, retro console gaming, BYOBG-bring your own board game, and other fun events. This is a FREE youth event and drinks and snacks will be provided. Gamers must be between the ages of 9-18 to enter. But parents, older brothers and sisters are welcome to attend to learn more about DeMolay and us!

Please help us reach out to them. We can provide brochures and other materials to hopefully pique their interest. Refer them to www.demolay.org or www.beademolay.org/join/ where they can find out more about the history, values and benefits of DeMolay. When we know their names and contact information we will follow up.

At some point in the future, we will be having Open Houses to provide more information to prospects and their parents. Parents are a key part to success. We require their permission for their sons to join as members. As our chapter grows, we will also need more Advisors. Many parents may wish to become involved this way.

The Southwest Gold Coast Chapter is based in Coloma and sponsored by Coloma Masonic Lodge #162.

DeMolay does NOT groom young men to become future Masons. Any involvement after they age out at 21 is strictly up to them. The program is offered to ALL young men to help them become tomorrow’s leaders. If they grow up to become leaders in YOUR eyes then we have succeeded! That is the whole point!

The fee for becoming a SWGC DeMolay will be covered by interested people who will be matched with a young man and sponsor his entry into the Chapter. There are no annual dues. A DeMolay is a member for his lifetime. The young man who takes advantage of this program will never regret it. DeMolay also offers many scholarships to graduates.

Many leaders and sports figures in our country have been in DeMolay. I bet you didn’t know that the first man to be recognized as flying into space was a DeMolay - Iven C. Kincheloe from Cassopolis, Michigan. We have developed a short video that will be available on YouTube in the near future that tells the unknown story of his DeMolay adventure and life. This was an undiscovered story that we are proud to have the proof of.

On a personal note, there was once DeMolay in Coloma from 1927 to 1976. To my great regret, I never heard about it, so I did not benefit. Upon graduating high school, joining the Army Reserves, and farming with my father I discovered that I lacked the leadership skills which I wish I had. These skills can be taught and learned, they don’t come naturally. I eventually sought out other programs which helped me when I was in my 30s, but they came late in life and cost lots of money. When I recently learned of DeMolay, I felt compelled to re-establish it here. All young men should be able to receive this kind of support. The young man who takes advantage of this program will never regret it.

If you have any questions please reach out to me. I will be happy to answer questions.

Sincerely,

Matt Moser

Chapter Chairman


Reducing anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination

Editor,

Prejudice, discrimination, and violence toward Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals are major social problems. Many studies have demonstrated that members of these groups are at increased risk of being excluded, insulted, bullied, assaulted, and murdered. They are also at significantly increased risk of suicide.

Adolescent and young adult LGBT individuals are especially vulnerable. Schools need to be aware of this and to provide a learning environment in which every student can feel safe.

What can be done to reduce, and eventually eliminate, prejudice, discrimination, and violence toward LGBT individuals? Research studies have identified a number of effective interventions:

Gay-Straight alliances (or Gender and Sexuality Alliances) in high schools; these are after-school clubs in which LGBT and non-LGBT students join together for discussions and collaborative activities. GSA clubs have been shown to be beneficial for both groups of participants. Schools that have established these clubs have seen a significant reduction in anti-LGBT prejudice and bullying.

Educational workshops for teachers and administrators; these activities provide important information about LGBT students’ vulnerabilities, and suggest effective methods for providing needed supports and preventing or countering anti-LGBT bullying.

Reading books and watching videos about the experiences of LGBT individuals; these activities increase awareness and empathy and reduce anti-LGBT prejudice.

In Southwest Michigan we are blessed to have an institution, the OutCenter, which provides expert consultation to teachers and administrators, helps schools organize and maintain GSA clubs, consults with parents about the best ways to support their LGBT child and themselves, and provides a safe space for LGBT individuals and non-LGBT allies to meet for discussions and collaborative activities. To learn more about the OutCenter’s programs, please contact Program Director Gerik Nasstrom at gerik@outcenter.org.

Dr. Larry Feldman, Lakeside


SWM Regional Chamber applauds Court of Appeals ruling on paid sick leave, minimum wage laws

(Press release) Last September, the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber, as part of the Small Business for a Better Michigan coalition, filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Court of Appeals urging them to reverse a lower court decision that found the 2018 enactment of Michigan’s paid sick leave and minimum wage laws unconstitutional. Today, the Chamber and their coalition partners are celebrating a unanimous ruling that upheld their argument and overturned the previous decision.

The decision in question was a July Court Of Claims ruling (Mothering Justice v Attorney General) that found the Michigan Legislature’s 2018 “adopt and amend” strategy to address two previous ballot initiatives increasing the minimum wage and enacting a paid sick leave law was unconstitutional. In his ruling, the Court of Claims judge voided the Legislature’s amended version of the laws, which have been in effect since March 29, 2019, and ordered that the language contained within the original ballot proposals be enacted instead.

Recognizing the significant impact this would have on Michigan’s business climate, the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber along with several other business associations in the state filed an Amicus brief arguing the Legislature’s actions were supported by the plain language of the Michigan Constitution and asked for a reversal of the lower court’s decision.

“We took this extraordinary step because of how much there was at stake in this case,” said Chamber President and CEO, Arthur Havlicek. “As the “Voice for Business” in the region, we felt it was necessary to defend the welfare of our state’s business community as well as the integrity of the legislative process.”

In the 3-0 decision issued Thursday morning [Jan. 26, 2023], the Michigan Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the lower court’s ruling, saying, in part, “[b]ecause the trial court’s conclusions are not supported by either the text or intent of [the constitution], we reverse the Court of Claims’ order.”

“Now that the lower court’s decision was reversed and given immediate effect, Michigan businesses will not be forced to make significant changes to their paid time off policies (PTO) and procedures and wage schedules come Feb. 19, 2023,” said Havlicek. “Unless the Michigan Supreme Court subsequently decides to reverse the Court of Appeal’s decision or the Legislature takes action, these laws will remain unchanged.”

Havlicek said this effectively means that the state’s minimum wage, which is already indexed to inflation, will not increase further and that Michigan’s tipped wage system will remain intact. It also means businesses with fewer than 50 employees remain exempt from the minimum paid sick leave requirements and that paid sick leave requirements would not be increased and extended to contractors as the overturned court decision would have required.

“We support and encourage our members to offer competitive pay and benefits as a means to both retain and recruit talent to our area,” said Havlicek. “With a recent study finding Berrien County’s per capita personal income has grown faster than any other county in the state, we remain convinced these decisions can and should be made free of adverse government interference.”

Havlicek noted that while he fully expects the decision to be appealed to the Supreme Court, it remains unclear whether or not the court will take it up. He said his Chamber will closely monitor the status of that appeal as well as any action by the current Legislature to alter today’s decision without first gathering input from the business community.

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