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Archive | Voices and Views

Where are the volunteers?

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


 

What has happened to good old volunteerism? It is an opportunity to help and improve our community. Volunteering allows you to explore career choices, learn new skills, or get that positive boost that you might not be getting elsewhere. Some schools and employers urge their students and employees to volunteer in their community. Rewards for volunteering differ for each organization but it always involves a sense of pride in a job well done. And volunteerism looks great on your resume.

Volunteering can breathe new life into an organization. It is working as a team to pull off an event or complete a project. You meet interesting people and you never know which person might be the one who inspires you and gives you a new sense of your skills, talents, and self. You may discover skills or talents you never knew you had. You can practice time management, priority setting, increased creativity, improved interpersonal and leadership skills, and customer service. You have the opportunity for intergenerational interaction and fun!

Here is a short list of organizations and/or service groups in need of volunteers: The Kent Theatre; C.S. Library; Howard Christensen Nature Center; Red Flannel Committee; Lions Club; Rotary; Women’s Club; and the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. Please contact these groups to find out how you can help. I would like to thank all of you who have been volunteering in so many ways. You have made a difference and I appreciate all the hours you have donated to make our community a better place.

Mary K. Balon

Kent Theatre Volunteer Coordinator

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Praise for Chief Davis

 

This month Chief Mickey Davis of the Courtland Township Fire Department announced his retirement from a long and impressive career in fire service. For two decades Chief Davis served both Oakfield Township and Courtland Township as fire chief simultaneously. For the past six years he has dedicated his services to Courtland Township Fire Department full-time.

It has been nearly 20 years since Mickey asked me to consider becoming the first chaplain for the two departments he led.  Due to his own personal losses, Chief Davis understood that the harm done by fires and accidents goes beyond wounded bodies and damaged property.  Often times the greatest injury is to the human heart.  In beginning a chaplaincy program, Mickey demonstrated that his concern for the townships he served went beyond putting out fires and securing the emergency scene.

=During his tenure, Chief Davis also showed his care for the residents of Courtland Township by delivering toys to children from disadvantaged homes, visiting foster care homes, and directing social services to families in need. He cared deeply for the personal well-being of the people he served.

The residents of Courtland Township owe a debt of gratitude to Davis for his unselfish and professional service.  He provided leadership in expanding the quality and resources of the township fire service, faithfully protected lives and property, and made the township a better place to live and work.

Personally, I wish to express my thanks to the chief for inviting me into a world few know anything about.  I have seen the danger and the trauma that firefighters endure as they assist others in crisis.  It has been one of my life’s greatest honors to be able to assist Chief Davis and the other members of the fire department in their noble work.  I am a better man because of my association with Mickey Davis and the men and women of Courtland Township Fire Department.

Thank you, Chief, and congratulations on a meaningful career of faithful service!

Dr. David A. Oliver

Chaplain, Courtland Twp. Fire Dept. 

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Where the election stands 

 

V-Lee-Hamilton-colorBy Lee H. Hamilton

The next few weeks in politics are a little like the All-Star break in baseball. With the Republican and Democratic national conventions upon us, it’s a good time to step back and assess this year’s election. Which carries bad news for both parties.

The Republicans face a steep electoral challenge. If Hillary Clinton carries Florida (where polling shows a very close race) plus the District of Columbia and the 19 states that have voted Democratic in each of the last six presidential elections, she wins.

Yet victory for Donald Trump is hardly out of the question. He floated through the Republican primaries by tackling the anger and discontent that course through this year’s electorate. His talk about a broken system and his emphatic, brash style, appeals to a lot of people. His ability to dominate news coverage without spending much on advertising has been extraordinary. And even though he’s passed through a difficult period for his campaign, the polls have grown quite close.

On the other hand, the Republican Party is splintered and off its game. Its leaders are having a difficult time with a Trump candidacy. A sizable number of GOP stars are finding excuses not to attend the convention, which is remarkable.

Yet the Democrats should take no comfort from this state of affairs. For starters, below the presidential level the party is struggling. Since 2008, Democrats have lost 69 seats in the U.S. House, 13 Senate seats, 12 governorships, and over 900 seats in state legislatures.

And while Clinton’s path to the presidency may be wider than Trump’s, that doesn’t mean she’s a strong candidate — at least, not this year. At a moment when voters clearly want change, she appears to favor incrementalism as the way to get things done in Washington. And despite the FBI’s decision that it wouldn’t bring criminal charges on her handling of emails when she was Secretary of State, the issue is clearly dogging her.

The British vote on Brexit is a reminder that resentments and anger can fly under the radar. Washington, where there’s money everywhere you turn, is a ripe target for “take-our-country-back” populism. The anti-establishment, anti-Washington mood should make both parties uneasy.

But then, so should the course of this election, which has put a premium on sound and fury at the cost of true engagement with the issues confronting the country. On that score, we all lose.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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What they’re fighting over 

V-Lee-Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton

Barring a surprise at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland later this month, the race for the presidency is set. So this seems a good time to step back and consider just what it is that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are fighting about.

I don’t mean where they stand on the issues, or whose vision is more compelling. I mean the office itself. The modern presidency is unique — and pretty far removed from what our Founders envisioned. It’s worth understanding what’s at stake as you watch these two people campaign for it.

As Americans we have an odd attitude toward the presidency. On the one hand, we’re leery of executive power, and often of the government the President symbolizes. Yet we’re also fascinated by the person who holds the office. When I was in Congress, if I had contact with the President, swarms of reporters would want to know every word he’d said. And people back home had an insatiable curiosity—about the President, his family, what they wore, where they traveled, how they treated people. Americans invest a lot of energy and attention in the President, whether they like or abhor him.

And it’s not just Americans. The President is not just the central player in our own government, but also in world affairs. Anywhere you travel, you’ll find people who are curious about the most visible American on the planet.

All of this is with good reason. Presidents control the political agenda in this country. They formulate the budget, set defense and foreign policy, develop the initiatives that drive domestic affairs, and create the contours of public debate. Congress, by contrast, reacts. In recent decades, it’s been rare to find Congress seizing the initiative on much of anything. So the President stands at the center of the government, not just in moments of crisis—when you’d expect it to be the case—but when it comes to the everyday running of the country.

Presidents have been opportunistic about this, doing what they must to succeed in the system they’ve been given. If they’ve been unable to get congressional approval, they’ve tried to work around it with executive orders; Democrat or Republican, they’ve worked hard to expand their power.

The job has always carried with it great responsibility, but the weight of the modern presidency is overwhelming. There is no job training for the position, and no President emerges unscathed from the office. Harry Truman’s comment about where the buck stops was absolutely correct. In a representative democracy, the ultimate power may lie with the voters, but every tough problem this nation faces percolates up to the President; if it were easily solvable, someone else would have taken care of it. I’ve found almost all the presidents I’ve met to be serious, intelligent, anxious to do the right thing, likeable—and always over-burdened.

The story used to be told about Franklin Roosevelt that when he gave a fireside chat, you could walk down a street and never miss a word, because every house would have the radio on. The presidency today is less of a bully pulpit, yet in policy, the President’s remains the strongest single voice in this country and the world.

Which is worth pondering. No President ever lives up to the expectations people have for him—presidents make mistakes both large and small, and their power is not limitless. But the balance of it in this country is unquestionably tilted in the direction of the White House, and that is not going to change.

So the question about the presidency that concerns me is how to hold the President accountable. He or she needs to be scrutinized, challenged, and held answerable to Congress and the public for his or her policies. There are today only rare opportunities for the vigorous give and take and close examination of a President that our system once provided. But how long can that continue before we cease to be a true representative democracy?

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years

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For those eligible, voting should be easy

 

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By Lee H. Hamilton

The elections process is not usually grist for inflammatory rhetoric. But this year has been different. Republican Donald Trump labeled the GOP primary process “crooked.” Democrat Bernie Sanders suggested his party’s use of super-delegates made its nominating process a “rigged system.” For many voters, the intricacies of voting rules quickly became a topic of overriding interest.

Now that the primaries are over, I hope Americans remain just as intrigued by the laws governing general-election voting in their states. Because at the moment, this country is engaged in an experiment with the democratic process that should rivet everyone who cares about representative government.

We’ve seen two diverging trends in the states in recent years. One approach has sought to make voting more difficult. Since the 2010 elections, 22 states have put laws in place narrowing voters’ ability to go to the polls. They have decreased the time allotted for voting; added tough ID requirements; reduced options for voting prior to Election Day; added proof-of-citizenship requirements; and made it necessary for voters to register well before election day. These steps, their backers contend, are necessary to guard against voter fraud and assure the integrity of the ballot.

Other states have moved in the opposite direction. They’ve made it easier to register to vote; have added longer hours for voting on election day; have moved to mail-in ballots; and encourage early voting. They’ve done all they can to make the process of voting simple and convenient.

On the whole, Republicans at the state level have favored greater restrictiveness and Democrats greater ease, but you don’t have to be a partisan of one side or the other to recognize that politicians believe a great deal is at stake. Whatever they give as their reasons for pushing a particular approach, you can be sure they are also calculating the effect of rules changes on the outcome of elections, and they’ll do all they can to tilt the rules in their favor.

Which is why the question of how to approach the right to vote isn’t going to be settled any time soon. There are a lot of court cases pending in the various states, and it’s likely there will be conflicting judicial opinions.

If we’re going to debate the electoral process as a nation, let’s keep in mind the core issue: it should be easy to vote—and hard to cheat. Casting your ballot is a fundamental constitutional right, and ensuring that every eligible voter can do so is basic to our system. Every American should be able to exercise his or her right to vote without feeling cowed—which is why I worry that efforts to limit voting will have a pernicious effect on our system of representative government.

The evidence on this is mixed. A recent paper by political scientists at UC San Diego analyzing turnout between 2008 and 2012 in states with strict voter ID laws found that they depressed voting overall—more among Democratic constituencies, but among Republicans, too. Yet recent research also suggests that the opposite is not true: easing voting rules in states that never tightened them does not necessarily boost turnout.

One certainty in all this is that a lot of people who are eligible to vote for various reasons do not choose to do so. Of the 219 million Americans eligible to vote in 2014, the Census Bureau reported last year, roughly 41 million were not registered; and turnout in actual elections is even lower. Voting behavior may be more related to motivation than it is to statutory activity.

A more pressing certainty is that our entire voting system needs attention. All too many jurisdictions try to run elections on the cheap, with machinery and processes that are inadequate to the task. Even now, 16 years after the 2000 presidential election revealed deep flaws in the patchwork of ways we record and tally votes, the system remains rickety.

“The vigor of American democracy rests on the vote of each citizen,” a national commission on voting once wrote. Keep that in mind this election year — and pay attention to how your state approaches its obligation to safeguard that vigor.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. For information about our educational resources and programs, visit our website at www.centeroncongress.org. “Like” us on Facebook at “Indiana University Center on Representative Government.”

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Social Security questions and answers

Question: Will my son be eligible to receive benefits on his retired father’s record while going to college?

Answer: No. At one time, Social Security did pay benefits to eligible college students. But the law changed in 1981. We now pay benefits only to students taking courses at grade 12 or below. Normally, benefits stop when children reach age 18 unless they are disabled. However, if children are still full-time students at a secondary (or elementary) school at age 18, benefits generally can continue until they graduate or until two months after they reach age 19, whichever is first. If your child is still going to be in school at age 19, you’ll want to visit www.socialsecurity.gov/schools.

Question: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record?
Answer: Social Security survivor’s benefits can be paid to:

• A widow or widower — unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60;

• A disabled widow or widower — as early as age 50;

• A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits;

• Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children;

• Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled; and

• Dependent parents age 62 or older.

Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivor’s benefits. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov.

Question: I want to make sure I have enough credits to receive Social Security retirement benefits when I need them. How can I get a record of my Social Security earnings?

Answer: The best way for you to check whether you have earned enough credits (40 total, equaling 10 years of work) is to open a free my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to review your Social Security Statement.

Once you create an account, you can:Keep track of your earnings to make sure your benefit is calculated correctly. The amount of your payment is based on your lifetime earnings;

*Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working;

*Get a replacement 1099 or 1042S.

*Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and

*Manage your benefits:

*Change your address; and

*Start or change your direct deposit.

Accessing my Social Security is quick, convenient, and secure, and you can do it from the comfort of your home.

In some states, you can even request a replacement Social Security card online using my Social Security. Currently available in some areas in the United States, it’s an easy, convenient, and secure way to request a replacement card online. To find out where we offer this service, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

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Dealing with unexpected grief and loss

 

By Bob Cahill, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hospice of Michigan

The evening news has recently been dominated by stories of unexpected loss and these tragedies continue to make headlines every day. The tragedy in Orlando is the most recent national event that has thrust our communities into grieving. For those of us who work with patients and families facing death every day, adding the national grief of an unanticipated tragedy is all the more unsettling. We all share a common thread with the victims in Orlando and their loved ones; when someone loses a life unexpectedly, their family and friends are left to cope with the loss of someone whom they loved dearly.

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is always challenging, but a sudden loss can be shocking and even unimaginable. In the back of our minds, we understand that no one lives forever. When someone we love has a terminal illness or has reached the end-stages of their life, we have time to make preparations and say our goodbyes. However, an untimely death can leave us feeling lost, out-of-control and overwhelmed with pain.

Those who experience unexpected loss may feel angry by the sudden death, cheated of a last goodbye, or sad that they didn’t perform some final act of kindness before their loved one died. Missing out on saying goodbye can leave us feeling distressed, adrift and angry, which only adds to our grief, pain and sadness during an already difficult time.

Although it may be hard to imagine during the months and even years after a sudden death, it’s important to remember that surviving through grief and loss is possible. While everyone grieves differently, ultimately we each work through the pain to begin the healing process.

As we go through a grief journey, it’s important to also focus on our health and emotions. After a loss, we may find ourselves eating or sleeping less; but both are key to healing. We should also be honest with ourselves and deal with our emotions; repressing feelings only delays the grieving process. Crying doesn’t mean we are weak or that we’re being selfish, it means that we are human.

Support groups and counselors are a valuable resource for those who have experienced a loss. They can be found through faith-based organizations such as churches or synagogues; community centers; or non-profit community-based support and grief programs. Many programs are tailored to specific needs such as dealing with an unexpected loss, and are often low-cost or free. The comprehensive grief support services provided through Hospice of Michigan across the state of Michigan are always provided to the community at no cost, whether or not the person has had a loved one use its hospice or palliative care services for adults or children.

Ultimately, it’s important to keep that loved one close to your heart and honor them by living a fulfilling life. During the difficult times following an unexpected loss, we can find comfort by trusting that the person we loved would want us to live our lives to the fullest. 

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Thief stole flowers from Vet’s grave

Post Scripts NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


 

Thief stole flowers from Vet’s grave

To the person who took the planter from my husband’s grave at the Elmwood Cemetery, I hope you enjoy them. If you liked the flowers, all you had to do is leave me a note, I would’ve told you where I got them. Didn’t you see the flag? You took flowers from a Vet’s grave. Enjoy them!

Linda Gardell

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Old trophies

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 


 

To (former) Athletic Director Mattson and School Superintendent VanDuyn,

I remember as a freshman seeing all the old trophies on display at the trophy case at the south end of Mr. Welch’s classroom, plus also the trophy case at the front entranceway. Looking at all the old trophies told me Cedar had a past of accomplishments. It was a thrill to look at these trophies, even if the team photos were faded.

I wrote you and talked to you about the whereabouts of the 1970 and 1971 men’s tennis team trophies so a new team photo could be put in to replace the faded photos. Today’s young people should know that Cedar Springs sports had a past of accomplishments. You had 14 years to find trophies and display them so the young people may know.

Passing along the two 8×10 color team photos (to replace the ones in 1970 and 1971) and not having them replace the faded ones was a disappointment for me. But also to: Mr. Harold Maxson (tennis coach), John Venman, Randy Maxson (three-time state champ), Steve Maxson, Randy Swanson, Mike Clouse, Tim Welch, Brad Slaight, Todd Denton, Mark Clark, Tom Venman, Steve Pike, Dan Laszlo, Mike Welch, Scott French, the Class of 1970 and 1971, plus the young people who want to know about Cedar Springs sports and its accomplishments.

A good Captain of a Navy ship knows what is under his command and what he is responsible for. Same goes for an Athletic Director and Superintendent.

You let a lot of people down. I rest my case. Have a good day.

Sincerely,

Mr. Lenn Perry, Cedar Springs

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The Case for limited government 

 

By Lee H. Hamilton

It has been 35 years since Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural speech as President — the one in which he said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Over that time, hostility toward government seems only to have grown, led by politicians and embraced by millions of Americans.

I find this troubling. Not because those agencies—or the government as a whole—are faultless, but because I don’t see how a democratic society and market economy can function without an effective government.

In fact, I’d argue that limited government is more often part of the solution than it is a problem. It funds core functions—such as infrastructure, the court system, and national security—that allow the private sector to flourish. It sustains national parks, interstate highways, the air traffic control system and other services that make this a vibrant society. It strives to protect Americans from hazardous food and drugs, unsafe workplaces, and toxic polluters. It has played a key role in asserting fairness for minorities, women and the most vulnerable people in our society.

This is not to say that government does not overreach, or that it always performs as it should. On occasion, its leaders make poor and misguided decisions; its legislators, however well intentioned, create wasteful and unneeded programs.

But we’re not going to do away with government. Instead, we have to make the sometimes comfortable, sometimes uneasy co-existence of the market and the government work.

So it’s crucial for our political leaders to find the right balance. To establish in clear terms where government should and should not be active. To test what works and what does not and then pursue the former and shut down the latter. To wring duplication out of the bureaucracy and rigorously pursue efficient, effective, and accountable government. To ensure tough, fair enforcement of the law. And to recognize that their focus on policy needs to be balanced by a focus on effective management and implementation of programs.

As a politician, you can always get applause for quoting the old line, “That government is best which governs least.” But list what government does that affects people’s everyday lives, and you’ll see members of that same audience nod their heads in agreement. It’s the balance between limited government and the private sector that it’s our job constantly to assess, debate, and get right.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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