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Archive | Voices and Views

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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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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It’s getting harder to govern, and it’s not just politicians’ fault

Lee Hamilton

Lee Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton

We may not know who our next President is going to be, but here’s one thing that’s almost certain: he or she will take office with roughly half of the electorate unhappy and mistrustful. The notion that the President speaks for a broad coalition of Americans who are willing to set aside their differences on behalf of a compelling new vision for the country? It’s vanished.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering where it went, and though I still haven’t found an answer, I do know this: it’s not only Washington’s—or even the political class’s—fault.

Let’s start with a lament I hear frequently about this year’s crop of presidential candidates: “Is this the best we can do?” I used to believe that the popular argument that the best among us do not seek political office was wrong—that there were plenty of standout Americans who went into politics. And there are. But there are also a lot of talented people—the kind who could lead us beyond our tired political discourse—who take a look at politics and turn the other way these days.

I’ve known a lot of very good people in politics, who were motivated by a true interest in improving the country and saw politics as a competition of ideas, not a mean-spirited clash of ideologies. I see less of this today. Many politicians seem genuinely not to like one another. They see a victory by the other party as a threat to the well-being of the nation.

This is a departure from the past, and it’s not a healthy one. There was a time when the parties and other organizations that brought disparate voters together—charitable institutions, unions—helped build a unity of effort in the government. But groups like that are weaker now.

Which is a shame in a year like this, when voters are angry and distrustful and worried by economic insecurity. They don’t have much appetite for the substance and complexity of policy, seem to relish the clashes that this year’s campaigning has produced, and are uninterested in talk of finding common ground.

It’s a campaign year, of course, so a certain amount of this is to be expected. But if the voters’ surly mood and mistrust carry over after November, it’s going to be very hard for the next President—and politicians in general—to govern effectively.

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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New study: No correlation between school spending and student outcomes

Study finds spending more on Michigan schools doesn’t increase achievement

MIDLAND—There is no statistically significant correlation between how much money Michigan’s public schools spend and how well students perform academically, according to a new empirical study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and an assistant professor of economics at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

The study’s findings align with the bulk of academic research on the subject, but does so with a unique and detailed data set of Michigan’s public school spending and academic achievement. The data comes from more than 4,000 individual public schools in Michigan and covers seven years’ worth of detailed expenditures and test scores for elementary, middle and high school students. The test scores were from the years 2007 through 2013. Using school-level data, as opposed to district-level data, enabled a more precise examination of the relationship between spending and performance.

“Of the 28 measurements of academic achievement studied, we find only one category showed a statistically significant correlation between spending and achievement, and the gains were nominal at best,” said Mackinac Center Education Policy Director Ben DeGrow, who authored the study along with Edward C. Hoang, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “Spending may matter in some cases, but given the way public schools currently spend their resources, it is highly unlikely that merely increasing funding will generate any meaningful boost to student achievement.”

The study comes as the state awaits the completion of a now-overdue school funding “adequacy” study it paid a Denver-based firm $399,000 to complete by March 31, 2016; that study is now due by May 13, 2016. School funding adequacy studies are common across the country and nearly all of them (38 of the 39 performed between 2003 and 2014) recommend funding increases.

“The state’s school spending adequacy study is sure to conclude additional tax dollars are necessary to improve student performance to adequate levels, but lawmakers, parents and the Michigan Department of Education owe it to students to examine how education dollars are spent, rather than simply throwing more money to areas that do not directly impact the classroom,” DeGrow said. “As our findings suggest, it could be that public schools generally fail to spend additional resources effectively.”

The only area that showed a statistically significant correlation between additional spending and student achievement was seventh-grade math, and the impact was small: a school would need to spend on average 10 percent more to improve the average state test score by just .0574 points.

“This study suggests that simply spending more of Michigan taxpayers’ dollars on the public school system alone is not enough to improve student achievement,” said Hoang.

Read the full study on “School Spending and Student Achievement in Michigan: What’s the Relationship?” at www.mackinac.org.

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Days of fear and intimidation are over

Dear CSPS Board of Education and Community,

Be Nice.

We embrace this anti-bullying initiative in our district. It’s on t-shirts, posters, and banners throughout our schools. The Mental Health Foundation website states that this campaign was designed to spread awareness surrounding the issue of bullying. The ‘Be Nice’ campaign strives to educate students and community members about how simply being nice is an effective way to promote a safe and civil environment within the school and community.

I’ve worn my Be Nice shirt to board meetings and the superintendent interviews. While we’ve expected our students to adopt this philosophy, some of our staff and administrators have not. Since we’ve had a change of superintendent, I have not felt the need to wear this shirt to board meetings.

Dr. Van Duyn IS nice. She is an example of what we should see in a person living out this philosophy. I feel safe, respected and valued. I do not fear unfair and unwarranted attacks any more. Any questions I have are quickly and completely answered. The days of fear, intimidation, disrespect, lies and corruption are over. That’s how it USED to be, especially at Cedar Trails.

I’ve been reading letters in the Post about a lack of leadership by the current administration, and I am confused. You could have said those things two years ago, but not any more.

The changes we’ve been experiencing are all for good. I feel listened to and supported. We have counseling back. Our professional development is relevant and helping us to better understand and meet the needs of the children that we serve in this community.

Now I am confident that this district is headed in the right direction. Our current leadership is skilled, competent and highly qualified.

Great things are happening here. Please keep up the good work!

Sincerely,

Karen Gebhardt

First Grade Teacher

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Beyond transparency, we need accountability

Lee Hamilton

Lee Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton

Over more than three decades in Congress, I had the chance to question a lot of federal officials. Most of the time I wasn’t after anything dramatic; I just wanted to understand who was responsible for certain decisions. How often did I get a straight answer? Almost never.

It was easily one of the most frustrating aspects of trying to ensure robust oversight of the government. Our representatives’ job, after all, is to help make government work better. And you can’t do that if you don’t know whom to hold accountable for important decisions.

Accountability is essential to good governance. I’m not just talking about transparency—that is, citizens’ ability to know what’s being done in our name. That’s important, but equally important is holding accountable those who made the decision to do it: ensuring that they are accountable to policy-makers, adhere to their obligations, follow the law, and that their actions are appropriate and responsive to the needs of the country.

This is elusive. Accountability requires that officials step up and take responsibility for their decisions, and not try to shift that responsibility to others or to some ill-defined group. It requires unambiguous performance standards, clear codes of ethics, timely reporting, and acceptance of responsibility, especially with regard to budget or spending decisions.

So how do we get there?

Without clarity on who’s in charge of what and who’s responsible for which decisions, it becomes too easy for officials to remain unanswerable for their actions. Yet clear lines of authority mean nothing unless the deciding officials are identified and measured against what actually takes place. Officials need to give a full account of what they do and the decisions they make.

As a nation, we face a growing issue on this front when it comes to federal contractors—that is, the private workforce doing jobs for federal agencies. There are very few mechanisms for holding contractors responsible for their errors, abuses and missteps.

Accountability also requires a robust media to tell us what’s going on in the entire system: within the bureaucracy, in the behavior of contractors, and among legislators who ought to be overseeing both but often don’t.

Accountability is key to good government. All I wanted to know in those congressional hearings was who made the decision about the public’s business. Is that too much to ask?

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,” and share our postings with your friends.

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What is FICA?

By Stephanie Holland, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Receiving your first paycheck is an empowering milestone. Do you remember being a little shocked by the taxes that Uncle Sam takes out of each paycheck? Understanding how important your contribution is takes some of the sting away because your taxes are helping millions of Americans—and financially securing your today and tomorrow.

By law, employers must withhold Social Security taxes from workers’ paychecks. While usually referred to as “Social Security taxes” on an employee’s pay statement, sometimes the deduction is labeled as “FICA.” This stands for Federal Insurance Contributions Act, a reference to the original Social Security Act. In some cases, you will see “OASDI,” which stands for Old Age Survivors Disability Insurance, the official name for the Social Security Insurance program.

The taxes you pay now mean a lifetime of protection—for retirement in old age or in the event of disability. And when you die, your family (or future family) may be able to receive survivors benefits based on your work as well.

Right now you probably have family members—grandparents, for example—who already are enjoying Social Security benefits that your Social Security taxes help provide. Social Security is solvent now and will be through 2033. At that point, we’ll be able to fund retirement benefits at 75 percent unless changes are made to the law. In the past, Social Security has evolved to meet the needs of a changing population—and you can count on Social security in the future.

Don’t carry your Social Security card around with you. It’s an important document you should safeguard and protect. If it’s lost or stolen, it could fall into the hands of an identity thief.

Check out our webinar, “Social Security 101: What’s in it for me?” The webinar explains what you need to know about Social Security. You can find it at http://go.usa.gov/cdNeY.

You can also learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Stephanie Holland is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 455 Bond St Benton Harbor MI 49022 or via email at stephanie.holland@ssa.gov

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