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Archive | Voices and Views

Crashes on 17 Mile and White Creek

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.

 

 

Once again, on the corner of White Creek and 17 Mile Road, there is a wreck—one truck with the front end destroyed and the other upside down. Quite a few crashes in the center turn lane and the other lanes on 17 Mile Road. Two people taken to the hospital from the two-truck incident. Cars are turning this way and that way into the stores. People run the light at White Creek and 17 Mile Road often. Does anyone else wish the speed limit on both roads was 35 mph enforced? Forty-five to 50 mph is way too fast.

David Viau, Cedar Springs

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Wife upset Post reported husband arrested

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.

 

 

I am writing regarding the defamatory article that was published on September 15, 2016, about my esteemed husband of 20 years Richard Webb. I stand in support of my husband’s character and our business regardless of the charges mentioned. Since we were not given an opportunity to comment I will list some details that were not reported:

When my husband was a young man he voluntarily assisted The Cedar Springs Post specifically, Lois Allen and her mother, when they had computer issues. In addition he also voluntarily assisted with preparing the papers for delivery.

Zylatech has supported the City of Cedar Springs for 12 years. In recognition of our home town we waived our standard travel charge for them. We have always gone above and beyond to make sure they were taken care of. When there were no technicians immediately available I myself went onsite and installed memory in a PC for a previous City Manager so he could get back to work.

The current City Manager, Mike Womack, has only been with the City for a very short time and has never met Rich. I do not consider his comments to be an accurate representation of our company.

My husband and I have run our business with integrity for 16 years. Our goal has always been “To honor God while providing a timely response and quality service.” That is what we do and will continue to do.

I am disheartened by the fact that our own hometown newspaper has treated us and our local small business with such disrespect. Rich and his family have been members of this community most, if not all, of their lives. I personally have lived in Cedar Springs for 19 years and am proud to have our 12-year-old son, Ian, attending Cedar Springs Middle School. It’s unfortunate that no one at The Cedar Springs Post took in account the damage that this article would do to our son, family, friends, church, employees, and livelihood.

In closing I would like to remind the Post and it’s readers that one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. I also want The Cedar Springs Post and it’s readers to understand that God is with us no matter what the situation or trial we face in life. I recommend everyone watch and see what our Almighty God is going to do!

Sherrie E. Webb

Director of Operations, Zylatech, LLC

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No longer a welcoming community?

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.

I am truly saddened and disheartened by the actions of some of our community members. The way that some behave and tear others down is just wrong.  I remember when my kiddos were at Cedar Trails they use to sing a song about welcoming people to Cedar Springs and how people with all different backgrounds were welcome here. I wish our community would follow in the footsteps of that song.

How horrible it is that someone comes to our town looking to put down roots, but before they’re even able to get a toe in the water there are people trying to push them out. Constantly being criticized for doing the job they were hired to do. The way our superintendent has been treated makes me sick. How would you feel if you put your all into something you believed in, working tirelessly and accomplished amazing things, bringing our district many, many positive changes and programs that it had been in desperate need of, but yet, you constantly had to be on guard and defend yourself because some people want you gone? The same people who were upset you got the job in the first place. Now they’re not only attacking you, they’re attacking your husband; a man who spends countless hours volunteering for the school and Red Flannel. I’ve heard it said that people don’t know how it is possible that he’s now the Red Flannel President. I can only imagine it’s because of the countless volunteer hours he’s put in for the festival and he’s earned his place.

It really makes me sad that we live in a place that does not give people a chance and does not accept everyone as equals. I can’t even begin to list all the positive things that have happened in our district in the past two years, things that directly affect our kids. I pray people take a step back and think of how they’re treating others and the message it’s sending to all of our kids. It is high time we let the past be the past and move forward together in the positive direction the district is now heading.

Jennifer Skelonc, Nelson Township

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Development causing problems

 

Nelson Township has not yet granted Allen Edwin Homes its request for the rezoning of the property located at 6500 18 Mile Road for the building of an OSPUD development. However, building of the first unit has begun.

Woes and hazards for motorists driving on Shaner and 18 Mile Roads came on the first day (August 24) with the arrival of the developer’s construction equipment and hauling rigs. The area where the construction was taking place was a field with soft ground and no driveway to get to the actual building site. One semi driver chose to park his rig behind the stop sign on Shaner’s southeast corner, blocking all clear vision for drivers needing to get on or off either of the roads. Other smaller vehicles parked on the narrow road shoulder in front of the stop sign. One accident took place in the intersection, while the vehicles parked were in the clear vision area. On September 8, a more hazardous situation came about when double tandem rigs hauled in tons of dirt up Shaner to the building site. This time the haulers used the eastbound lane of 18 Mile to back up their rigs, in order to turn around to get southbound on Shaner. The northbound lane of Shaner was used for parking the loads while the dirt was being unloaded. This activity lasted from early in the morning that day until around 2:30 p.m. This is only a sample of what is to come if the developer gets the request for rezoning and the rest of the building starts.

On September 21, Allen Edwin Homes will present yet another new plan for its condominium site to the Nelson Planning Commission. This proposed development has already raised several legitimate concerns with residents living nearby, and others not so close. Some of these concerns seem to have fallen by the wayside where the Township Board and Planning Commission are concerned. For instance: increased traffic, well water contamination, well water supply, and the other impacts that a development of such density will have on current property owners/taxpayers. The amount of time that the Township has spent on it should be a strong indication that what Homes wants to do on the property isn’t compatible to the location.

Mary L. Stidham, Nelson Township

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Why this Democrat wants a strong Republican Party 

 

By Lee H. Hamilton

I’ve been a Democrat all my life. I believe in the party’s values, I’m pleased when its candidates win elections, and I’m persuaded the country is better off when Democratic ideas get a fair shake in the public arena. But none of this means that I favor a weak Republican Party. Indeed, just the opposite.

Before my Democratic friends drum me out of the party’s ranks, let me explain why.

The short answer is, our nation is stronger and our representative democracy healthier when we have two strong parties. A single political party that’s able to dominate public policy-making undermines the give-and-take that’s crucial to effective policy and leaves us weaker as a country.

Why is this? Let’s start with the big picture. If you think about the issues we confront—from the impact of climate change to the fight against terrorism to rebuilding an economy that serves poor and working families as well as it does the wealthy—it’s hard to argue that a single perspective or ideology really has all the answers. None of us, and neither political party, has a monopoly on wisdom.

Moreover, this country is huge and varied, and the legitimacy of the political system rests on its ability to give voice to the multitude of concerns and attitudes held by the American people. Some prefer the GOP’s approach, others the Democrats’, but it’s important they all have a political party to turn to. The more people feel that no one represents them or their views, the more alienated they become from the democratic process.

So the country benefits when two robust parties face off — in elections, in Congress, and in the 50 legislatures. When they can present their views, defend them, adjust them, and negotiate, compromise, and move forward, we’re being well served.

Which brings me to the Republican Party of today. I don’t want to get into the split between backers of Donald Trump and the traditional Republican leadership—that’s for the GOP to sort out, and they certainly don’t want the advice of an old Democrat. But there’s no doubt that the Republican Party has reached a crossroads.

If Trump wins the presidency, he’ll be the chief actor in determining the future of his party and what it stands for. If he loses, the GOP will more than likely move back toward its more traditional views as a party that embraces the free market, advocates for a muscular approach to national security, believes in American exceptionalism and our role in leading the world away from chaos, is filled with fiscal hawks who think that we have to curb entitlement programs, and pays attention to a business community that believes trade wars—especially with Mexico or China—would be catastrophic.

I suppose I’m showing my biases here, but I believe that a robust Republican Party will strengthen its willingness to improve and broaden the policy debate and move it away from steps to impede it. This would be a GOP that advocates for limited government, wants to reform our unwieldy tax code, and is determined to remain fiscally responsible so that deficits don’t explode. I want to see Republicans tackle our healthcare system by reforming it using market mechanisms. I want Republicans to confront regulations that hamper the formation and growth of businesses, especially small businesses. And I want them to remain inclined toward devolving power away from Washington, giving states more control over such basic responsibilities as highways, welfare, and education.

Each of these issues has been at the center of the national agenda for many years, suggesting their difficulty. We need proposals from both sides that are realistic, coherent, and based on numbers that add up. We need parties that are at the top of their game, generating solutions to the issues we confront that can get vetted in Congress, and be amended and reshaped to reflect the realities of a divided country. And we need parties that are prepared to negotiate to move us beyond our current gridlock.

This can best happen when a healthy Republican Party is competing with a healthy Democratic Party. And at the moment, that’s not what we’re seeing.

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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Withdrawing from school board race

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.

Dear Readers,

First, I would like to thank my neighbors and friends for their encouragement and support as I sought to pursue a position on the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board. My mother taught me the value of education. A rural farm girl who sought a degree in Chemistry during World War 2, she was one of few moms with a college degree, in chemistry no less.

It is my firm belief that public education is for all students, not just those with connections. I have, in my career as an educator, become known as an advocate for those students who don’t come with one.

Having five candidates for two positions seems like a great opportunity for voters, however, it can also make it difficult to make an informed choice. After much consideration, I am withdrawing from this race. It was never my intention to run against Joseph Marckini who has done a remarkable job for Cedar Springs’ students. I misunderstood Joe’s intentions when I submitted my petition. Joe is respected widely for his board work. He has spoken at state and federal levels as an advocate for kids. He is in it for the kids, refusing to allow adult controversy to distract from this focus. This is what schools need today in the hostile finance and compliance environment created by legislation. My name will remain on the ballot, but I ask that you choose between the other candidates.

The Michigan Association of School Boards provides information for local school boards that may also guide in the selection of local board members. Their document, “Essential Attributes of Effective School Board Member,” states that every deliberation, decision and action must reflect the best interests of every student. Board members represent the entire community, not a single constituency or special interest. Listening to understand divergent opinions is important and board members must focus on how the district impacts students to influence the larger world.

Please consider these essential attributes in your selection of School Board candidates. Most importantly, be sure to vote November 8.

Sincerely, 

Rita M. Reimbold 

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Social Media’s Challenge to Democracy

By Lee Hamilton

By Lee Hamilton

I’ve been involved in politics for the better part of a lifetime, and have spoken at a lot of public meetings over the years. There’s one question, I think, that I’ve heard more than any other: “If I want to be an informed citizen, which sources of information should I consult?”

For many years, I had a set answer for this. Read one or more of the respected national news sources, I’d respond. I’m not sure how good that answer was at the time, but I know for certain it would be inadequate now.

The internet and social media have upended our expectations of what it means to be well informed. Platforms and websites that take advantage of online and mobile connectivity are like a firehose, providing enormous quantities of information, opinion, news, statements, videos, images, analysis, charts, graphs—all of it instantly available.

The question is what impact does this have on the public dialogue, and on representative democracy?

Clearly, these are powerful tools. As the rise of the Tea Party and the alarm over price increases for the EpiPen demonstrate, they can galvanize large, energetic groups of people who oppose a specific target. They make more information quickly available from more sources. They give citizens multiple ways to engage the attention and interest of policy makers—and give policy makers multiple ways to gauge public opinion and seek to understand the interests and needs of constituents.

But if information has become more ubiquitous and powerful, so has misinformation. It spreads rapidly, passed along from user to user with no check. Posts tend to have no room for nuance; arguments can be explosive and arguers aggressive; drama and hysteria fuel polarization; special interests can’t help but take advantage of the context-free nature of social media.

The key question is: Does the ubiquity of information really help citizens understand complex issues, weigh competing arguments, and reach discriminating judgments about politics?

The answer, of course, is that it’s a mixed bag. Certainly, the information world we live in today is putting more stress on individual voters to make discriminating choices and on our representative democracy, which rests on institutions that were designed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our political process has proved resilient over centuries, but social media poses a powerful challenge. They’ve brought great gifts and equally great risks, and we’d be prudent to be cautious.

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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Tips from Social Security when applying for disability

 

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Becoming disabled and unable to work is a very stressful time in one’s life. There are so many questions and unknowns when you have to transition out of the workforce due to medical issues. While an employer may offer short or long-term disability, most people faced with a disability will file for benefits with Social Security.

If you’re facing life with a disability and don’t know where to start, we encourage you to visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi. After reading about Social Security disability, if you’re ready to file, you can do that online as well.

When applying, be prepared to answer a number of questions including:

  •  When your conditions became disabling:
  •  Dates you last worked;
  •  The names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of visits to your doctors;
  •  The names of medications that you take and medical tests you’ve had; and
  •  Marital information.

In addition, if you plan on applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payments, for people with low income who haven’t paid enough in Social Security taxes to be covered, you will answer questions about:

  •  Your current living arrangement, including who lives there and household expenses;
  •  All sources of income for you and your spouse, if applicable; and
  •  The amount of your resources, including bank account balances, vehicles, and other investments.

You can view our disability starter kit at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm.

Remember, we are there when you might be faced with one of the hardest obstacles of your life. Social Security helps secure today and tomorrow with critical benefits for people with severe disabilities, not just during retirement. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov  

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The media’s responsibility to our democracy 

 

By Lee Hamilton

Lee Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton

Politicians spend a good bit of their time complaining about the media. But why should they have all the fun?

I’m going to join in, though I tend to get upset about different things than most sitting politicians do. You see, I don’t actually mind when journalists—whether in print, on television or online—treat what politicians say with skepticism. That means they’re doing their jobs.

But this doesn’t happen nearly as much these days as it should. The media today is less objective, more ideological, and much showier than it once was. What you see can be eye-catching—both the graphics and the personalities—but it is also brash and relentlessly self-promoting. A lot of journalists don’t just want to report the news, they want to be players and affect policy. They see politics as a blood sport, often exaggerating the differences among players.

As one observer said, the media is drawn to “superficiality, sensationalism, scandal, and sleaze.” They’re all too happy to seize on small points of contention and fan them into major points of discord. They make building a consensus—the key task of the democratic process—much harder.

The field has been moving in this direction over decades, and there’s a reason for it: all these changes have been well received by the public. They draw viewers, readers and clicks. And they’ve encouraged consumers to pay attention only to the sources that reflect and broadcast their own viewpoint.

I don’t want to be a fogey here. Yes, I grew up in the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and I still think they were solid journalists, but what I miss is not the voice-of-authority-from-on-high that’s so often associated with them. Instead, what I too often find lacking now is the spirit that drove the profession in those days. I think the news media had a sense of responsibility to make representative democracy function. Journalists imbued their work with a palpable sense that they were involved in a public service.

There are still really excellent journalists out there who are doing their best to serve both their profession and the country. Every day they struggle to make sense of enormously complex events. What they understand, and what I wish more of their colleagues believed, is that democracy demands journalism that improves its workings. Properly done, journalism can bridge differences, help consensus emerge, improve the knowledge and judgment of voters, and sharpen the performance of public officials and government as a whole.

In the end, the democratic process is about overcoming disagreement. This is virtually impossible without a solid base of information and analysis.

Governing well is immensely difficult, and good journalism can keep government open and honest, which serves not just the voters, but politicians who are trying to resolve the problems facing the country. Journalists can and should be watchdogs, keeping a watchful eye on politicians, what they do, what they say…and what they don’t do or say. They should serve not just the elites, but the underdogs and have-nots in society.

The independence of our press was hard to win, and it’s vital that we sustain it. People must have sources they can rely on in order to make our system work. Our democracy needs well-informed citizens making decisions based on facts about both policies and politicians.

This means that the model of the journalist that seems to be going out of fashion—reporters who were reasonably objective, independent of outside groups, and even independent of their company’s owners—is actually crucial to representative government. Curious, skeptical journalists who point out inconsistencies, draw attention to mistakes, call out misleading statements, and identify outright lies serve a larger purpose: they provide citizens what they need to know in order to be a good citizen, and public officials what they need in order to do their work well.

This is quite an ideal, especially in this age of economic turmoil within the media universe. But I don’t think it’s too much to hope that as the profession sorts out its future, it takes seriously its leadership role in advancing the public good, and doesn’t sacrifice its part in making representative democracy work properly.

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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Focus on retirement planning–it’s your future

 

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

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’s 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 don’t 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’ll 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’s 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!

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov  

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