January 22, 2018

Letters and Commentary

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

cartoon August 11 TRC toon

Trent McKinney Memorial/Watervliet Wrestling golf outing

Dear Editor,

The 5th annual Trent McKinney Memorial/Watervliet Wrestling golf outing was held Saturday, July 30. What started out as a rainy Saturday morning ended up being a beautiful day spent with family and friends supporting the wrestling program, and honoring a fellow classmate, teammate, friend and family member. We all know what a special community we live in.  The support from the local businesses and community was proof of that again this year. To all the businesses, families, and community members that sponsored holes and donated items for the raffle/silent auction; your generosity is much appreciated. Each year you have supported this effort and have made it a continued success.   We cannot thank you enough. Thank you Pipestone Creek Golf Course for letting us come out and spend yet another beautiful day on your course. We appreciate all you do out there to help our outing run so smoothly. See you next August! Thank you to the Watervliet coaches, wrestlers (past and present) and their families that took time out of their Saturday to golf and volunteer their time.  It is exciting to have a coaching staff that is excited and ready to build on this program. We all have one goal, and that is to see the wrestling program grow and produce great wrestlers. We will continue to support you and be in the stands to cheer you all on.  Thank you to Brad, Emma, and Isaiah Yazel; Courtney Stantz; Klayton, Eli, Tekoa and Yaya Marshall; Matthew Melcher; and Anthony Wade for representing Watervliet Wrestling. How wonderful to hear about how respectful, polite and grateful you all were while working your stations.   You represented Watervliet with class, and it was certainly noticed.  Thank you to Rebecca Yazel, Joe and Michelle Marshall, and Coach Gallagher for helping with set up and take down. Scott, Nick and Tyler Humes, thank you for your help with check-in. Dana Humes and Tami Gage, thank you for all your help throughout the day.  Thank you to all of Trent’s classmates, friends and family.  I am sure we were not the only ones that felt Saturday was going to be a special day when the sun broke through the clouds. We truly appreciate each one of you. Thank you all, for coming back every year in support of this outing. To those of you that traveled in beyond the SW Michigan area, we wish you all safe travels back home. Trent is blessed to have such caring people gather in his memory. Every year this outing is more successful than the last. We certainly could not do it without each and every one of you. From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you. It is difficult to sit down and put in to words how grateful we really are. It seems that a simple thank you just does not seem enough. God bless you all, and we hope to see everyone again next August!

Thank you for voting

Dear Editor,

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote on August 2 and help select the people who will represent us in local and state government.  The voters picked me to run for State Representative this November, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I know I have to earn your trust and support every day as we transition to the next stage of this campaign and the general election.  My daily focus is to talk to the people who live and work in this area and really listen to what they believe and what they would like to see us improve. Hard work, preparation and experience will help me turn those thoughts into action and deliver real results. I will always put your needs first, because representing our community is my top priority.   As a mother, Navy wife, teacher, Lion, and county commissioner, I am a real problem-solver who will use every one of my experiences to serve this community and bring your values and opinions to the State Capitol. This is my commitment to you. We are all working together for a better Michigan, and we all want to make Michigan the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. I believe we can do this together.


Beth Griffin

Republican candidate  66th District State Representative Grateful for the support

Dear Editor,

I want to thank the voters of the 66th House District for the generous support they gave me to help win our primary last Tuesday. With your help, I successfully crossed the finish line of the first leg of the race to Lansing where I can work hard for our values. I am a life-long Michigander who has lived more than half my life in Van Buren County. You taught me what’s important — telling the truth, respecting our elders, working hard, and then working even harder. These are what I call “kitchen table values,” the values that we all learned from our parents while we had supper. Those are the values I hold dear and will carry in my heart when I go to Lansing to represent you. As I keep walking door to door and listening to your stories on the campaign trail, I always remember that I am beholden to you and your families, not to Super PAC’s, big money, or highfalutin lobbyists. So many of you opened your door when I knocked, opened your hearts, and shared your concerns with me; I am grateful to each and every one of you.

With gratitude,

Annie Brown

Candidate for State Representative House District 66


Kinzler enjoyed role on Watervliet Township board

Dear Editor,

As the end of my term on the board of the Watervliet Township approaches, I want to thank all of the supporters for the past 18-plus years.  I have enjoyed my role on the township board, along with serving on the fire, planning, and airport boards at various points during that time. I am encouraged that a new younger participant will be taking over to carry on.  It will be exciting to have new ideas and new directions implemented to improve our thriving community. Again, I appreciate your support over the past years.

Thank you,

Vick Kinzler


Thank You voters for your support in Van Buren County

Letter to the Editor,

On behalf of both myself, and the Board of County Road Commissioners, I wish to thank all of those voters in Van Buren County who came out to support the County-Wide Road Millage Proposal on August 2, 2016.  These funds have, and will continue to be a very important part of the road improvement program in Van Buren County.  Because the Road Commission, Townships, Cities and Villages have these millage funds available they are able to provide a more efficient turn-round for projects across the County.  In addition, the millage funds allow the Road Commission to leverage Federal and State Aid so as to accomplish some of the larger projects in the County.  As taxpayers and voters in Van Buren County, we urge you to continue to maintain a level of interest in the roads you travel every day.  Be it County, Township, City or Village, all of the roads in the County form an integral network that serves our agricultural community, industry, tourism, and all of us.  That being the case, the Van Buren County Road Commission wishes to express its gratitude to those of you who supported the County-Wide Road Millage.  The Road Commission will continue to strive to make improvements upon the many things that have been accomplished in the past.



            Lawrence B. Hummel, P.E.



GLAD-PEACH…. Hats off to the Glad Peach Festival committee, volunteers, and sponsors for providing another excellent community festival.  For those that couldn’t make the festival and those that need a keepsake of a wonderful weekend, I hope the photos of this stupendous family fun weekend fit the bill.  Thanks Christina Gelder for the great photos and extensive reporting of all the events from start to finish, see Page 9.  Now that one of the region’s finest community festival has closed, it’s time to make plans to visit the Berrien County Youth Fair, opening Monday. See Page 8 for information on special attractions and the schedule. ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES… I’ve had a few comments from readers on last week’s column about my poor effort on the election issue the week before (I inadvertently left out copy and photos).   Most comments were “why didn’t you just let it go.” Another was “you didn’t lose 32 years of trust.”   Maybe I didn’t with most readers, but there are those that will find fault and expect an explanation, and deserve one. I don’t want to lose any respect without attempting to keep it.   Just letting it go was never an option. I have always tried to rectify any error or omission as soon as possible.   I’ve always followed my own advice to others in the same situation. When facing an issue of error or stupidity or (in my case) publishing something not very popular, I have always advised, “Own up, take the hit and move on.”   Most folks will note the blunder and move on as well.   I always been amazed at most politicians who are caught in a situation of embarrassment or questionable behavior and they lie to cover it up. Inevitably the peccadillo is proven and the politician can add liar to his/hers character resume. Most would be better off, and the issue soon forgotten when the truth is told up front, when the web of lies and deceit grows forever and is subject to conjecture, rumor and ridicule.   I have never lied or knowingly misled readers in my 41-year newspaper career. That doesn’t mean I never accidently printed the wrong information, or a story that was hurtful or unpopular.    What I have always done is face the music, accept the consequences, and do my best to make the situation right.   I learned that very early on in my newspaper career. I wrote a story about a fledgling, all volunteer private fire department that after successfully putting out a barn fire returned to their fire hall and began celebrating.  The barn fire rekindled and soon spread to the nearby farmhouse. The firemen raced back to the scene and soon discovered they had not refilled the tanker. Some of the celebrating firemen went to the fire in their personal vehicles, accompanied by friends and family. I saw beer cans fall out of some of the vehicles.   The barn and house were lost and the firemen returned to the fire hall, leaving smoking ashes and empty beer cans.   I wrote the story, headlined, “Plenty of beer, no water.”   Needless to say, the story caused quite a stir. It was also my job to cover the local township board meeting scheduled the next week.   My publisher asked if I was going to it, as it could be ugly for me.   I was unsure, thinking it might be advisable to let things cool down awhile. On the other hand, I said, my inclination was to go as it was my job and folks might think I was a coward for not going.   I went and I could tell the meeting was packed by the full parking lot and the loud murmur of voices I could hear through the doors.   When I went through the doors, the voices in the town hall fell silent as in church. The front bench where I usually sat was entirely vacant. The board members on the stage silently stared at me for several minutes until the supervisor called the meeting to order.   He then walked to the edge of the stage, pointed down to me and yelled, “How could you do that you son of a xxxxx.”   With that the place erupted in pandemonium with many folks (former readers all) shouting insults, threatening lawsuits and questioning my parentage. Eventually the roast died down and the board commenced its regular business. No one left the meeting until I did. I must admit I briefly thought a bucket of tar and a sack of feathers might await me in the parking lot.    I was left alone, and but for a handful of letters to the editor the first week or so, my perceived transgression was soon replaced by another issue.   The issue was better training and equipment for the fire department. Within a few months a millage to support a publicly owned fire department was passed.   About that time, I got a letter to the editor from the Supervisor thanking me for helping to bring the issue of the all-volunteer private fire department to the public and getting the millage passed!   Admittedly, I don’t think I’ve been in a more volatile situation brought on by publishing the news since then. I’m glad I immediately faced the issue up front and let the uproar break over me and eventually subside.   Luckily, the story was accurate and although hurtful at first to folks who genuinely thought they were doing the right thing, the outcome was ultimately for the good of the community.   Who knows, had I gone out the wrong door that night maybe there was a bucket of tar and feathers waiting for me!

dave helms 2-2-06 col header


Restorative kindness

Jesus’“Sermon on the Mount” raised the bar on human relations. Whenever He began a statement with, ”You’ve heard it said…”, there would follow a new, higher standard of behavior. The new performance expectations got to the core of inner motivations, and effectively revealed our own hidden agendas.  One instruction began, “You’ve heard it said, ‘Love your friends, and hate your enemies’.” Another started with, “You’ve heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’.” Then Jesus went on to explain new approaches with, “…but I say to you…”     The “Golden Rule” has found its place among many cultures in multiple forms, but Jesus took it past just doing to others like you want them to do to you. “Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you.” Now that’s counter-intuitive! And, “If you are compelled to carry someone’s load a mile, offer to carry it two miles.” That’s counter-intuitive too! Bold steps beyond the “golden rule” principle. Jesus points out that God is kind to everyone, to both the good and the evil, so we should be too. He uses the illustration that God provides rain for good and evil alike. A good reminder.     Later Paul, in the Romans letter, developed this teaching further, concluding with the familiar statement, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.(Romans 12:21)     Our agenda may be revenge in response to evil, our own “justice”,but God’s agenda is reconciliation. This is also well-represented in the Old Testament: 2 Samuel 14:14, “…Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him.”– His loving kindness towards each of us – totally undeserved, available to even those we may consider “enemies”.That’s reconciliation, not revenge.

social security header holland 07-23-2015

                      Focus on retirement planning – it is your future

When most people begin their career, retirement is the farthest thing from their mind. Instead, they focus on trying to purchase a home, start a family, or perhaps save money for travel. Retirement seems so far away for many younger people that they delay putting aside money. However, it is very important to save for the future — if you want to enjoy it.  An employer-sponsored retirement plan or 401(k) can be a useful way to set aside funds for retirement, especially if your employer offers matching funds on what you invest. If you do not work for an employer that offers this type of plan, there are many other plans designed to help you save for retirement.  From solo 401(k)s to traditional and Roth IRAs, there are programs designed to fit a multitude of budgets. The earlier you start to save, the more funds you will have ready for retirement.  In addition to traditional programs, the U.S. Department of the Treasury now offers a retirement savings option called myRA. There is no minimum to open the account, you can contribute what you can afford, and you can withdraw funds with ease. To learn more about myRA, visit www.myra.gov.  And, as always, there is Social Security, which is funded by taxes you pay while you work. To get estimates of future benefits and check your earnings record for accuracy, you can create a “my Social Security” account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.  Prepare for your future and start saving — and planning — today!