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Letters to the editor

Satisfied subscriber

To all staff,

I enjoy the [Tri-City Record] paper. Thank you for all the work put into it.

Roberta Woodruff, Dowagiac

Thank you TCR staff

Dear Editor,

I am sure this will come as no surprise to you. Your TCR staff is awesome.

I have been interested in local history ever since I was young. I read the likes of Stark, Rasmussen, Cunningham and many others. I was enjoying the reprinted articles from Dorothy Stark Cannell about the book, “My Queen of the Woods.” I enjoyed them so much it sparked my curiosity to see if this book was available to read or even if it was still in print.

I then realized I had forgotten the author’s name. I would need that to find the book. I figured since the articles were printed in the Tri-City Record you folks could help me. I marched right down to the office.

When I got there I realized it was Tuesday, deadline day for the paper. I told the staff what I was looking for and that they can get back with me some other time as they were busy trying to get out the paper. I was told to just hang on for a minute.

Soon a staffer appeared with a copy of the article with the author’s name, C. H. Engle clearly printed on the page. I thanked them profusely for their help and headed home.

After a few clicks on my magic computer I found that the book was still in print. I now have my own coy of “My Queen of the Woods” on its way.

Thank you again TCR staff.

Pete Petruk, Watervliet

Underage vaping and tobacco campaign

Dear Van Buren County residents,

Every year the Van Buren County Substance Abuse Task Force (VBSATF) creates campaigns aimed to reduce substance abuse in the community. Currently, we are working on the underage vaping and tobacco campaign which is designed to provide an understanding of the consequences of underage tobacco and vapor product use.

Several negative health effects have been reported due to the use of vapor products. According to the CDC, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that can harm the areas of the brain that regulate attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. In addition, the risk for addiction of other drugs may increase when an adolescent uses nicotine.

Nicotine is not the only harmful substance that has been found in vape products. The “smoke” that the user inhales and exhales from the vapor product has commonly been mistaken for water vapor. The “water vapor” is an aerosol that contains harmful chemicals. Several substances have been found in the e-cigarette aerosol, such as nickel, tin, lead, diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), and cancer-causing chemicals.

The flavors, colors, and trendy products all appeal to teens and young adults, making them at risk to the marketing tactics of tobacco companies. According to the CDC, “Among youth who currently used e-cigarettes, 84.9% used flavored e-cigarettes, i.e., with flavors other than tobacco, including 85.5% of high school and 81.5% of middle school students reporting use. Overall, the most used flavors were fruit (69.1%); candy, desserts, or other sweets (38.3%); mint (29.4%); and menthol (26.6%),” (2022).

Additionally, the CDC reports, “In 2020, most youth who reported using e-cigarettes used flavored varieties (84.9%). Among high school students who currently use any type of flavored cigarettes in 2020, the most commonly used flavors are fruit (73.1%), mint (55.8%), menthol (37.0%) and candy, desserts, or other sweets (36.4%).”

Though the use of traditional tobacco products has been on the decline in schools throughout our county, there has been a steady increase of vapor product use. Students in 7th, 9th and 11th grade, who participated in the 2021-2022 Michigan Profile for Healthy in Van Buren County reported:

15.9% of high school students used vapor products in the past 30 days

2.2% of high school students smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days

5.5% of middle school students used vapor products in the past 30 days

0.4% of middle school students smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days

There are several different ways underage youth obtain vapor and other tobacco products: friends, family, stores, online, etc. By providing educational materials, presentations, and educating the community, the Van Buren Substance Abuse Task Force works to combat underage vaping and tobacco use in Van Buren County.

Vapor products are not a FDA approved quit tobacco device and cannot be marketed as such, according to the CDC. If you know a teen who would like to quit vaping or using traditional tobacco products, please direct them to, a teen-specific tobacco/vape quit website. This resource provides free and confidential support via online, over the phone, or through texting. Teens can also text “Start My Quit: to 36072 to begin.

For more information on the CDC data above visit


Van Buren Substance Abuse Task Force

We need much more than thoughts and prayers


Mass shootings at Michigan State University (MSU) is another wake-up call about the urgent need for laws reducing gun violence - in Michigan/ our country.

“Red Flag” laws allow state courts temporary removal of firearms from persons dangerous to others or themselves. A woman is five-times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has a gun. The U.S. had 49,979 suicides in 2022, which accounts for 54% of all firearm deaths. “Red Flag” laws would help protect women’s lives and save those who pose a risk to themselves.

We need universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and mental health restrictions. A U.S. survey shows 88% of the participants including 85% of gun owners, favor background checks. Federal law requires background checks when purchasing from licensed dealers. However, only 40% of guns are sold by dealers. In most states, gun show sales and private sales aren’t regulated. States that require private sale background checks have 48% fewer firearm suicides.

Let’s stop children’s gun deaths by requiring owners to store guns unloaded, locked away and separated from ammunition.

Assault, rapid fire weapons with high-capacity magazines are deadly and account for 85% of U.S. mass shooting fatalities. During the 1994-2004 federal ban on assault weapons, mass shootings were 70% less likely to occur than 13 years before and after the ban. I’m qualified with assault weapons. But do we really need weapons of war in our civilian society?

Urge your legislators to pass laws that save the lives of adults and children. Michigan should pass “Red Flag,” universal background check, and safe weapon storage laws. Ideally, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would also once again become the law of the land.

Stricter gun safety laws will protect our students’ lives and help alleviate their growing fear of just going to school.

Ken Peterson

MAJ USA (Ret.)


Teach the whole truth


Many Republican politicians, along with a number of extreme right-wing organizations, are waging persistent attacks on public school teachers, administrators, and school board members for daring to teach the truth about racial injustice in America.

Teachers need to teach all aspects of our nation’s history – the just and the unjust, the admirable and the deplorable. Students need to learn the whole truth, not an incomplete version of the truth. If they are taught a one-sided picture, in which only admirable behavior is examined, they are not receiving the education they deserve. Learning about past injustices is essential in order to undo current injustices and prevent future ones. By learning the whole truth, students will be prepared to create a more just and positive future.

The politicians and organizations that are attacking public schools are doing so under the false and misleading banner of “parents’ rights”. Parents certainly have the right to express their views about what they believe should and should not be taught to their child or children. However, parents’ views are not all the same. What one parent urgently wants excluded in their child’s education, another parent may just as urgently want included. Teachers and administrators need to listen carefully and respectfully to the views of all parents and take them into account as they organize their curriculum and make their teaching plans.

At the same time, parents need to listen carefully and respectfully to the views of teachers and administrators, who are professional educators whose training and experience provide them with specific knowledge and skills about what to teach and how to teach. They are the experts on education – their knowledge and skills should be recognized and respected.

Ideally, parents and teachers will form a collaborative partnership that focuses on the educational well-being of all students.

Larry Feldman, Lakeside

Hotline for seasonal farmworkers to get bilingual information about COVID vaccines, other health matters

(Press release) A new bilingual hotline makes it easier for Michigan’s migrant workers and their families to get information about the COVID-19 vaccine and other health-related matters.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Migrant Affairs is launching the toll-free number, 1-833-SIAYUDA (1-833-742-9832). Si ayuda means “yes help” or “yes assistance” in Spanish.

“We aim to make health care in Michigan client-centered, which includes providing information in the person’s primary language when available to ensure timely health services,” said Dwayne Haywood, senior deputy director of the MDHHS Economic Stability Administration. “The Farmworker Hotline is a translation tool to help keep farmworkers healthy and reduce health-related work absences that could result in loss of earnings needed to support their families.”

The MDHHS Farmworker Hotline – which is funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – will be answered by MDHHS Migrant Affairs’ staff who are fluent in both Spanish and English. Migrant Affairs staff will answer vaccine questions and connect farmworkers to vaccination clinics and resources, make appropriate referrals to local offices, and provide other MDHHS program information based upon farmworker inquiries.

Ultimately, the goal of the MDHHS Farmworker Hotline is to help Michigan provide bilingual residents with tools to prevent disease, improve health outcomes and increase well-being. Hotline information distribution is being provided to all Michigan local offices serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers, partner agencies, and through social media.

Find more details at or

Nonprofits encouraged to apply for $35M fund to help more Michiganders make ends meet

(Press release) Michigan’s nonprofits who are struggling with the negative impacts and hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic can now take the first step to receive much needed funding from the $35 million MI Nonprofit Relief Fund for serving their hard-hit communities.

The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) have announced the launch of the “intent to apply” phase for the relief fund, which is focused on assisting small charitable nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits can fill out the intent to apply at MNA membership is not required to apply.

The bipartisan relief program was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as part of FY23 budget and program funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Relief Funds awarded to the State of Michigan as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The relief fund, designed for small nonprofits, is part of a two-part grant program. An additional $15 million in grants will be available to larger nonprofits later this year.

MNA and LEO have partnered to design the grant program and select grantees as well as manage the application portal and award payments. To be eligible for this funding, organizations must be a Michigan-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit or a fiscally sponsored project by a 501(c)(3).

The $35 million MI Nonprofit Relief Fund, which is being administered by MNA, is designed to provide aid and recovery to nonprofits with annual revenues of less than $1 million that can demonstrate necessary expenditures and/or losses incurred after March 3, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Small nonprofits could receive one-time grant funds from $5,000 to $25,000 in Spring/Summer 2023 to continue or expand their services to areas hit the hardest by COVID-19 and to populations that are underserved and underrepresented. The impact of the ongoing pandemic has been particularly hard on nonprofits located in rural areas and those led by, and serving, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The initial “intent to apply” short online form is estimated to take no more than 10 minutes to complete and includes basic yes-or-no questions to assess the nonprofit’s needs. The second phase of the application process for small nonprofits, estimated to launch March 22, will be a more detailed application.

For further information, go to or email

Starting March 1, residents pay $13 for Recreation Passport; first increase in three years

(Press release) The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ valued-packed Recreation Passport gives year-round vehicle access to 100-plus state parks and recreation areas, more than 1,000 state-managed boating access sites, 140-plus state forest campgrounds, and parking at thousands of miles of trails and other outdoor spaces. Effective March 1, the Recreation Passport resident vehicle fee increased from $12 to $13 (and from $6 to $7 for motorcycles) – the first such increase since 2020.

The moderate fee change is a result of a statutory provision that ensures Recreation Passport funding keeps pace with the economy. Basically, the law says that the DNR does not determine the cost of the Recreation Passport; instead, fee adjustments are based on the Consumer Price Index, as determined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The notice of change was provided by the Michigan Department of Treasury in November.

There’s a $5 convenience fee (except for Belle Isle Park) when the Recreation Passport is not purchased at the time of your license plate registration renewal through the Secretary of State, and is instead purchased at a state park or recreation area.

New nonresident Recreation Passport fees, including the nonresident annual pass that went from $36 to $39, went into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

All revenue generated by Recreation Passport sales goes into a restricted fund that supports state park infrastructure and operations, a local grant program for community recreation agencies, state forest campgrounds and nonmotorized pathways and trails, cultural and historic resource restoration, and marketing and promotion.

Learn more about the Recreation Passport – how to get it, where it can take you, what it supports – at


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