November 19, 2017

Columns

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Residents can show their appreciation for area farmers

 news from lansing  col head 2-2-06Our farmers are the heart and soul of a food and agriculture industry that contributes $101.2 billion annually to Michigan’s economy and employs about 22 percent of the state’s workforce. I have launched a “Thank a Farmer” initiative to give residents an easy way to thank our farmers for all they do to help feed our families. Residents can visit my website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/thank-a-farmer to join me in contributing letters of appreciation to area farmers and also describe their favorite thing about local produce. My office will then forward the comments to farmers throughout the region. I encourage residents to send in their thoughts about the abundant and wonderful fresh foods produced by area farmers. I am sure that our hardworking farmers would love to hear about how the blueberry pie you picked up was the best ever or how you appreciate the healthy fruits and vegetables your kids crave. Michigan is the nation’s leading producer of several foods, including cultivated blueberries, and July is National Blueberry Month. According to MSU Extension, Michigan blueberry growers typically produce more than 100 million pounds of 30 different blueberry varieties each year across more than 21,000 acres of farmland — contributing more than $122 million to the state’s economy. My family and I love blueberries, and it makes sense to launch this initiative at the start of the blueberry harvest season. However, this initiative is about highlighting and saying thanks to all our farmers — who grow one of the nation’s most diverse set of crops.

 

Call for Civilityal pscholka column header 05-10-2012

In 1982, I got my first opportunity to interview then Senator Harry Gast. I was a young reporter at WMUK-FM in Kalamazoo and I recall how gracious, yet blunt and to the point the good Senator was. Little did I know that decades later, I would hold a seat on the same township board and hold the same seat as Harry in the Michigan House of Representatives.At a meeting in St. Joseph about 15 years later, I remember watching Harry take questions from the audience. The questions were tough, but the tone respectful. Harry took his time to explain issues and his position, and even if folks didn’t agree with everything he said, you didn’t see any yelling, cursing, verbal threats, or emotional outbursts. Our politics were different back then. The best part about it was that you learned something. I remember thinking how cool it was to be listening to one of the most important people in state government.Fast forward to today—we see fights at political events; absolute garbage and personal attacks on social media, and violence break out at gatherings around the country. People want to run for office because they are mad as hell, not because they want to serve the public. We have more technology and ways to communicate than ever, yet our ability to communicate has never been worse. Everything appears to be a zero sum game—if you disagree on one thing, well, you are forever an enemy. And guess what? That attitude solves absolutely nothing.Problems don’t get solved by anger and hate. They fuel more divisiveness and tear at the fabric of our great country. I was at a meeting recently where we opened with prayer and the pledge, and then people proceeded to tear into each other for two hours.We don’t have to agree on every issue, that’s part of democracy. But let’s start a conversation again on civility and respect. We owe it to our predecessors to do just that.

 

 

 

upton col headerTragedy in Berrien County

 What occurred this week in my hometown of St. Joseph at the Berrien County Courthouse breaks my heart. I was sitting in a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan preparing for votes on the House Floor when I heard the news. I was shocked beyond words and immediately called the cell phone of Judge Charlie LaSata who as it turned out, was in the middle of the lockdown. It was truly scary as I recognized that tremble in his voice immediately as we all thought about the safety of the courthouse employees, deputies, bailiffs, and judges – everyone. Obviously, my thoughts went immediately to our entire community – our friends and neighbors. I had just ridden my bike by the Courthouse over the weekend. I had just chatted with Sheriff Paul Bailey on Saturday. This tragic event reminds us all too well that our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every single day, not knowing what that day will bring. We have lost two very able public servants and we all grieve for them and their families and the community of those who are all impacted. As we learn more about this horrific situation, one thing is clear: we must do better to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring. We also must remember to keep our brave men and women in uniform in our thoughts as they perform hard jobs in hard circumstances day in and day out.

Beach and Water Safety

By BCHD Staff

As summer is in full swing, families will be enjoying outdoor recreation activities, which often include swimming in pools, inland lakes, and Lake Michigan.  While swimming is a fun activity for all ages (and good exercise!), it is important to know about water safety before getting wet. BCHD staff inspects beaches and samples bathing water each week from Memorial Day to Labor Day at several public beaches in Berrien County to make sure that the water is safe to enjoy.Thousands of people in the United States die each year from drowning.  In fact, it is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children under five. These tragedies can be prevented by using safe practices around the water.

General Water Safety Tips

Set depth restrictions for all family members based on swimming abilities. Inexperienced swimmers should stay in shallower water. Never dive headfirst unless an area is clearly marked as safe for diving, and there are no obstructions. Always wear a life jacket when on any boat.Children should wear coast-guard approved life jackets called Personal Floatation Devices when around deep water.  “Swim wings,” “water noodles” and other inflatable toys are NOT to be used as life-saving floatation devices. Use the “buddy system.”  Never swim alone or allow your child to.  Don’t drink alcohol while swimming or boating.  It will slow your reaction time and diminish your swimming ability. Pay attention to local weather forecasts, and leave the water at the first sign of bad weather.