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Election News

     

Incumbents Win in Village Race

by Tom Serino

Newcomer gets top vote in school race

The village of Vanderbilt election held Nov. 4 resulted in a win for the village president Ed Posgate and the three trustees, Christina Boone, Tom Heintz and Ray Musall. Posgate garnered 72 votes followed closely by challenger Jack Deming with 68 votes. In the trustee race; Musall took a whopping 90 votes, with Boone garnering 84 and Heintz 69, followed closely by challenger Sandra Boyd who received 66 votes. Challenger Tom Serino got 34 votes while write-in candidate Ernie Schuster got 7. In the school race, newcomer to the school Amber Musall garnered the most votes with 366 votes for a two year seat, with incumbents Kim Snyder 312, and Tom O’Rourke 303 votes apiece for their four year positions. Other winners were Bernie Matelski for a four-year seat and Pat Holborn for a 2-year seat. Among the write-in candidates for the school board, Matelski led with 79 votes, while Pat Holborn took 63 votes. Write-in candidate Dustin Robinson had only 4 votes for a 2-year seat.

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Retired Firefighter earns award of appreciaton and pin

Above, Tom Serino (on right) receives award of appreciation for 26 years of service from Fire Chief Dave Cadaret (left) with Vanderbilt Fire Board Treasurer Pat Coultes (center) at a meeting of the Vanderbilt-Corwith Fire Board.

Vanderbilt Woman Meets With Women’s Council

by Bev Cherwinski

Jane Kozlowski, secretary of the CCW (Council of Catholic Women) St Michaels Church in Roscommon for their Janurary gathering, ask Bev Cherwinski founder/coordinator of the Organ Transplant Support Group of Northern Michigan to speak on Organ and Tissue donation. Bev told of her experience as a person waiting and eventually receiving a single lung transplant on 5/5/99 and told the CCW group members what an organ transplant means to a person receiving the transplant along with their family and friends that surround them. At this time there are over 3,000 persons on the Michigan transplant waiting list, as many as 17 patients per day will pass on because the organ they are waiting for was not available, this happens mostly because of the severe shortage of organ donors. Bev asks, “Won't you consider being an organ and tissue donor?” You can join up to be an organ and tissue donor by email at giftoflifemichigan.org or by phone 1-800-482-4881 or go to your local Secretary of State office any time and they will sign you up and you will receive the red heart to be placed on your drivers' liscense. Remember, one donor person can enhance the life of as many as 50 persons. What an ultimate gift just think, your final ultimate gift. A part of you living on and helping others.

Didion on Woodward in 1996:

Courtesy Kenichi Serino

Quote of the week “The genuflection toward “fairness” is a familiar newsroom piety, the excuse in practice for a good deal of autopilot reporting and lazy thinking but a benign ideal. In Washington, however, a community in which the management of news has become the single overriding preoccupation of the core industry, what “fairness” has too often come to mean is a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.”

On the Other Side of the Street...

by John Crinnion

THE DEMOCRATS CLAIM TO BE FOR THE POOR

Then why are they trying to raise the cost of electricity?? Electricity is a basic cost to preserve food; to supply heat and air conditioners. This affects the low-income the most because their income does not leave much money to cover the increased cost for food, both at the local store, who needs to run freezers to keep food or the poor in the house, who needs to preserve the more expensive food. With the government planning to place taxes on power plants that use coal and coal is the main item used to produce electricity, it will drive the cost of electricity up for the majority of us. This will drive some manufacturers to move out of the country or raise prices, because it raises costs or raising costs will raise prices and reduce sales, which reduces the need for employees and increases the number who are unemployed. The Obama Administration has been approving new regulations on industry and businesses, which are costly to study and find out what is needed to obey. The Democrats claim they are for the poor, but the poor are most affected by inflation, but what feeds inflation is the devaluation of the dollars. What helps the rich get richer a growing stock market through inflation? Why the rich are getting richer is inflation through the stock market. Thanks to the Obama Federal Reserve for printing $1,000,000,000,000 that does nothing to add value to the dollar. But the intention is to keep printing millions each month by the actions of the Federal Reserve Bank that the average uninformed voter will not understand why the wealthy keep buying those $36,000 breakfast or lunch tickets to fund the President’s Party’s campaign funds, who then prints the new dollars. It seems to me that the Democrats depend on the uninformed voter to get reelected since they have the old media who will not report the true outcome of the Democratic Party’s true actions as they pay off the rich with the poor taxpayers funds. While the Republicans were the ones that freed the slaves, it was President Johnson who helped give the Blacks their freedom, but only with the Republicans in Congress. Then it was a Republican President that opened the schools up on an equal basis for Blacks. Now it is a Democratic President who is preventing better schools for Blacks by allowing the Teacher’s Unions to keep control of most public schools. This is a case when Republicans have a strong case, but do not seem to have the will or smarts to use it. Perhaps a change of Republican Congressional Leadership will help the Party. It seems with the help of the old line media, the Republican Party will try and pass losers as Presidential candidates for 2016, two time loser Romney and the brother of two previous winners who caused loses for their party, Jeb Bush. If the media is allowed to win again with loser Republicans, the Democrats will continue to take the country down the wrong road.

Benishek Votes for Payroll Tax Cut

Editorial: Same Bill Defunds Social Security

by Tom Serino

Congressman Dan Benishek (MI-01) has come out in favor of the recently passed two month extension of the Payroll Tax Cut for two months. Benishek even commented in a news release as follows: “I plan to support the legislation being considered in the House of Representatives today because it makes needed federal government reforms and contains job creating components to bolster private sector hiring. Though there is plenty for both sides to dislike in this bill, I believe it represents a sensible compromise by extending the current 2% reduction in payroll taxes for 170 million American workers without adding a dime to the national debt and without raising taxes when this country’s economy can least afford it. Additionally, I am pleased the legislation supports the Keystone Pipeline project, a bipartisan job-creating measure that will further improve America’s relationship with Canada.” What Benishek didn’t say, was where the money to pay for the 2% tax cut was coming from. The wording in Benishek’s statements doesn’t say where the money is going to come from. Instead, it just says it won’t add “a dime to the national debt.” O.K., so where’s the money coming from? The devil is in the details, and it comes in the form of a victory for President Obama and Democrats. The Social Security Trust Fund is going to be taking a hit... again. And, if your read Benishek’s latest statement, it shows he has no interest in Social Security for those under age 62. His comment was, "there should not be any reduction, freeze, or changes in the benefits provided existing retirees. This is a promise made to those over the age of 62 by their government, and it must be honored 100 percent. No ifs, ands, or buts." It sounds great, if you are older than 62. Reading between the lines, it looks like an attack on the Social Security system for those under 62. And this is coming from a Republican Congressman? Benishek is also pushing for a full year extension of this payroll tax cut. Again, where’s the money coming from? As for bolstering private sector hiring, his wish to bolster private sector hiring is in line with his lack of support for bills which could save115,000 US postal workers (public sector) jobs.

Benishek Still Undecided on H.R. 1351

by Tom Serino

Dan Benishek, Congressman for northern Michigan District 1, can be contacted at 989.448.8811 in Gaylord or (231) 348-0657 Petoskey. Please ask him to support HR 1351 to save 120,000 jobs. At a time when nationwide unemployment is record highs, and the Michigan unemployment rate is among the worst, Benishek has commented, “I have not decided whether I will cosponsor H.R. 1351 or H.R. 2309, separate legislation aimed at reforming the U.S. Postal System. I have concerns with both reform bills introduced in Congress as I believe any legislation being considered should simultaneously address the sustainability of the post office and its retirement obligations. However, I do support the short-term relief in next week’s Continuing Resolution budget that postpones the due date for the Postal Service’s $5.5 billion payment. It gives us time to address the problem.” The $5.5 billion that Benishek refers to is a pre-payment on retirement benefits for the next 75 years, and has been a yearly requirement by Congress since 2006. (See http://www.nalc.org/news/bulletin/pdf2011/bulletin1112.pdf or http://labornotes.org/2011/09/postal-unions-492-rallies-tell-congress-dont-kill-post-office) Senator Debbie Stabenow responded as to her position on the rally saying, “While the Postal Service needs to cut costs, eliminating massive overhead and administrative costs should be the first steps the USPS takes, not eliminating the jobs, health care and pensions that families across Michigan rely on.” In fact, both politicians suggest a U.S. Postal Service financial crisis and Stabenow suggests a need to cut costs due to dwindling volumes of mail. What most people don’t know is that a recent national mail count was held, and the pay of USPS delivery personnel is based on that count, so that if the volume of mail is down, carrier wages will also go down. There are no official totals available.

Postal Employees Host Rally

by Tom Serino

Yesterday, Tuesday, September 27, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. members of the four employee unions of the United States Postal Service hosted an informational rally in front of the office of Michigan Representative Dan Benishek at 810 S. Otsego Ave. in Gaylord, to request his support of H.R. 1351, to save the Postal Service. Working together in this effort are members of the American Postal Workers Union representing the clerks who sort the mail at the post offices; members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, made up of your city mail carriers who walk miles every day to deliver your mail; members of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, who sort the mail to the carriers and post offices from the processing center in Gaylord and members of the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association. They will join forces with members of our community to send a message to the nation and its Congress. Joining these mail carriers are their supervisors, members of the National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS) in the effort to Save America’s Postal Service. These informational rallies are being held across the country, and local postal employees are visiting the home offices of each member of the House of Representatives. The union membership is asking members of Congress to sign on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1351, a bill that addresses the financial crisis facing the Postal Service. According to an information sheet which is available at www.saveamericaspostalservice.org “Despite what is being passed onto the media, the Postal Service isn’t broke. Nor is it losing billions of dollars a year delivering the mail. And a taxpayer bailout isn’t imminent. Reduced services are being presented as a foregone conclusion, but they’re not. The massive cuts in service to residents and businesses being proposed —allegedly to address these problems—are not inevitable, necessary or constructive. That’s because the financial problems facing the Postal Service aren’t caused by the cost of delivering mail; they’re caused largely by Congress, and Congress can solve them.” According to the documentation at the website, some of the facts that are not being reported include: “The Postal Service isn’t funded by taxpayers. All its revenue is earned from the sale of its products and services, meaning that the dire warnings of a taxpayer bailout are completely unfounded. The Postal Service hasn’t used a dime of taxpayer money in 30 years. -The Postal Service made a net profit of more than $600 million sorting and delivering the mail the past four fiscal years. You read that correctly. Despite the worst recession in 80 years, despite competition from the Internet, despite everything you’ve heard, postal operating revenues exceeded costs by $611 million in the four fiscal years since 2007. -Customer satisfaction and on-time deliveries are at record levels, labor costs are declining, worker productivity has doubled, and for six years running the American people have named postal employees the most-trusted federal workers. U.S. citizens and businesses benefit from the most inexpensive and most efficient mail system in the industrialized world. -So why the headlines about multibillion losses and a Postal Service in financial free fall? There is indeed a financial problem, but it’s not what you’ve been told. It doesn’t result from mail delivery or lack of mail volume. The $20 billion in postal losses you’ve heard about stems from a 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree benefits for the next 75 years and do so within a decade — a burden no other public agency or private firm faces. The Postal Service is actually paying, out of its operating budget, for the future retiree benefits of people who haven’t been born yet. That cost, $21 billion since 2007—accounts for 100 percent of the agency’s red ink over that period. House Bill 1351, which has bipartisan support and over 200 co-sponsors, would address the pre-funding issue.” The website continues with the strengths of the postal service adding: “Even if the current financial snafus are fixed, why would the Postal Service have a future, given the Internet? This isn’t the first time the Postal Service has had to adapt to an evolving society or to technological change. It did so with the telephone, the telegraph, the fax machine and more, each time emerging stronger, offering new and improved services to meet society’s changing needs. Today, the Internet offers both challenges and opportunities. More people are paying bills online, but they’re also ordering goods online that need to be delivered. One of the fastest growing profit centers within the Postal Service is doing “last-mile” residential deliveries for UPS and FedEx, which it can do inexpensively because of its universal network—helping reduce costs for the private carriers and for their customers.” The “last-mile” represents the rural carrier who delivers packages to the distant parts of the communities in its daily deliveries. The article at the website explains: “Why is it important to save the Postal Service? Because it’s the centerpiece of a $1.3 trillion mailing industry that supports 9 million jobs. Because it is indispensable in the overall economy. Because its role is included in the Constitution. Because it binds to -gether this vast land nation, offering inexpensive service to every resident no matter how remote, and it also unifies individual communities.” The website article explains the need to save the post office, adding, “In a time of rapid societal and technological change, we need to strengthen our universal communications and delivery network, not weaken it. It would be a national travesty to begin to dismantle this unique network, jettison its numerous capabilities and jeopardize all its contributions, when the financial challenges, properly understood—can be addressed in ways that are more effective and cause no damage.” OUR HOME TOWN has presented portions of the website article in an effort to add to the public understanding of all the issues related to the current Postal Debate, in an effort to elevate the public dialogue and get the message to our Congressional representatives who read OUR HOME TOWN as a service to our community. In full disclosure, this writer, Tom Serino, is a rural letter carrier since 1983, and is President of the Top o’ Michigan Rural Letter Carriers’ Association.

Village Council Supports Bay Mills Against Rivals’ Lawsuit

by Kenichi Serino

The Vanderbilt Village council voted unanimously to support the Bay Mills Indian Community in their court battle to keep their casino open. A letter of support will be written council president Ed Posgate and will be submitted by the BMIC in the western federal court in Kalamazoo. The BMIC are responding to a lawsuit brought against them by the Little Traverse Bay Indians (LTTB). BMIC attorney Kathryn ‘Candy’ Tierney requested the letter and said the tribe had until January 12 to give the court their response. The LTTB contend that the BMIC casino, which was launched Nov. 3 of last year on Old 27 north of Vanderbilt, is illegal because it violates their compact and should be closed immediately while the court case proceeds. Posgate asked how Vanderbilt could be considered part of the Little Traverse Bay Indians compact since the village had not received any revenue from their casinos. He joked that council members visit their casino and ask for money. “I’m here for my check since I’m in your compact. Did you forget about me?” said Posgate. “They don’t want to split the pot. Are they greedy?” asked council member Ron Bush. Also present at the meeting was BMIC president Jeff Parker who updated the council on the casino’s progress, court case and revenue. The casino has offered to provide the village with two percent of its revenue. Parker said the first payment of $8,000 was already coming due. The council welcomed news of the payment. However, council member Karen Matelski criticized what she called a “dismissive attitude” of the council toward Vanderbilt schools. Earlier in the meeting, her proposal that representatives from the school participate in the meeting to discuss the usage of the casino’s payment was met with silence. “It’s annoying me a bit,” she said. “The schools are in serious decline. You need to consider with the casino coming in and giving [the school] some money.” Matelski said that while the payment of $8,000 was not large, it was expected to increase as the casino grows. That is pending, of course, the outcome of the lawsuit.

My Vacation 2005

by Tom Serino

Well, here I am back from my vacation to Japan. The first trip back there in 18 years. It was a fun trip, with lots of things to do, great food to eat, and lots of my wife’s family to meet and spend some time. The trip was eventful with a lot of new experiences. Things have advanced greatly in the past 20 years. For example, the new trains are faster, very roomy, with very nice bathrooms. I say that since on the last leg of my journey there, after landing in Sapporo, I took the express train to Wakkanai, about a 5 hour trip. I had to use the bathroom and there is one conveniently located every second car, so that passengers don’t have to travel too far to get to one. The doors open easily at the push of a button. They also close easily, but you have to remember to push the button. As I left the bathroom, I touched the door to enter the passenger car and the door opened, but then I noticed that the bathroom door was still open, so I stepped with one foot and pushed the button, so the door closed. That left me with my legs spread wide apart, as well as my arms, so that when the train shifted around a fast corner my body went crashing into the wall, giving me my first view of stars during daylight hours and a black eye. At age 58, it was painful, but I can take it. I went and sat down. The next day, my son and I ventured to Rebun. Rebun Island is the most northern island of Japan and south of Sakhalin, Russia. The weather there is bitterly cold in winter time. However, it does contain many beautiful scenery for one to see. It is also called the Island of Flowers because there is a great variety of flowers over the island in summer time. Anyway, there are two courses, an 8 hour trek and a 3 hour trek. My son agreed to the 3 hour trek with his Dad. The 3 hours meant 3 hours up, and it took us about 2 hours to come down the mountain, and another hour to walk back to the main town Kafuka, to eat and then catch the ferry back to Wakkanai. I suggested taking the bus, but Kenichi thought it was a great weather for a walk, which it was. It would have only cost us a dollar each for the bus ride to the ferry. And I figured it would be a buck well-spent. But we walked. It took my legs 3 days to recover. At my age it takes longer, I guess. Lastly, the trip to the main family farm, owned by brother in law Haruo Watanabe. It is a dairy farm with 84 cows, and since we stayed there, I felt compelled to help, along with my wife Fumiko and son Kenichi, in the barn. My wife and son had been there off an on during their two month stay in Japan, and I was only there 4 days, and it was nice to help out and learn about the dairy farm business. Helping out meant twice a day, once at 6 a.m. and later at 5 p.m. cleaning out the barn, the stalls with the cows in them, and then feeding them hay. I became good friends with the cows, as they became intimate with me, licking every part of me as I tried to clean manure from under their feet and inside the stalls. One cow especially gave me a rough time. I struggled three days, thats six times, with this one cow who seemed to like me a lot. On the third day, she pushed me so hard I lost my footing and I don’t know what I hit, but found myself holding on to a post in the stall, so I wouldn’t be on the floor, and the cow was right up against me. I was dazed and suffered a large scratch and bruise to the top of my forehead. I did manage to stay off the floor, and also learned how to use the other cow in the stall to keep the seemingly agressive cow away from myself. On the last day, I dreaded going into that one stall, but I figured I had to meet my fear head on, so I did, keeping the tamer cow between myself and the agressive cow. About a minute or two before I completed cleaning the task, and after what seemed a lot of maneuvering of the two cows, my wife came over and cautioned me, saying, “You need to watch out for that one cow, she’s in heat.” At my age, I’m still learning.

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VAS Gets Help for Music Program

by Tom Serino

The Vanderbilt Area Schools received a total of $800 in help for a new program being offered at the school. That news came out of a school board meeting held Wednesday, March 12, 2014, held in the school library. Mrs. Billye Thatcher, a volunteer music teacher at the school offered to teach ukelele in addition to her regular duties at the school. The new program is part of a new two-year upgrade to the music program which Mrs. Thatcher is offering - at no charge to the school. Helping out with the new ukelele program was the Gaylord Rotary Club, with member Jack Deming facilitating the donation for the school Commented Deming, “When I presented the idea to the Gaylord Rotary, they were excited about helping out with the music program in this way.” Mrs. Thatcher announced at the school board meeting that the Rotary Club had purchased the ukeleles for the class, but it would be nice to have stands for the sheet music and straps for the students to hold the ukeleles up, to prevent accidental dropping of the ukeleles. Both Mark Mathews and Jim Ormsbee immediately offered to pick up the cost of the stands and straps for the program. This great show of community spirit was all that was needed to get the program off the ground, and Mrs. Thatcher began teaching the students in afternoon sessions, beginning at 3:15 p.m. Permission slips were sent home with students to parents to allow the students to participate. Any parent wishing to have their child enrolled in the program should call Mrs. Thatcher at 983-4185.

Missing

Since Saturday, Oct. 55 a beautiful horse named Rico. He is a Paso Fino Horse breed, lost in the woods in the Pigeon River Country State Forest after bolting from his trailer. He was only wearing a saddle, no bridle. If you can help search or if you see rico, please contact Wendy at 906-298-2165 or Carol at 906-440-0829 or Brenda at 906 203-8095..

Registering your Phone Number on Do Not Call

by Tom Serino

To register your phone number to stop unwanted phone calls, consumers should call 1-888-382-1222. You must call from the phone you wish to register on the Do Not Call List. Residents who wish to register their number on the national Do Not Call Registry via the internet should go to donotcall.gov and follow instructions. This site allows residents to place up to three numbers at a time on the registry.

Planning Commission to allow ‘progressively permissive’ use of land?

by Tom Serino

The Village of Vanderbilt is hosting a Public Hearing on Wednesday, October 30 to hear public comment regarding proposed zoning changes to the Village of Vanderbilt’s zoning ordinance. At the end of this public hearing, there will be a vote which may affect zoning for every property in the entire village. The ordinance changes will allow for ‘storage units’ which are undefined in the ordinance notice, in R-1, R-2 and B-1 districts. A ‘storage unit’ could be a 8’x12’ open bin, or a closed, locked unit for public storage. A copy of the entire text of the proposed zoning ordinance amendment will be available for public review after Monday, October 21, until the time of the public hearing. The gist of the public hearings will center around making the zoning in the village more ‘progressively permissive’ allowing more relaxed use of village properties. The village currently has only 1.1 square miles of land which is covered under a Master Plan. Commented planner Tom Kellogg, “That (Master) plan needs to go through the public input process (with periodic updates), to make sure everybody has a say in it. Potential zoning changes must go through a public notification process- and the proposed changes must follow what is intended in the Master Plan. That way, development will take place the way people said they wanted it in the Master Plan.”

Emergency Notification System For Otsego County

by Tom Serino

Otsego County has initiated an emergency notification system for residents to access and to recieve information from, when natural or man-made disasters occur in the county. That was reported out at both the village of Vanderbilt and Corwith Township meetings by Otsego County Commissioner Paul Liss. Liss told the board members and people attending the meetings that they could sign up to receive e-mail alerts, text messages, phone calls on their home (landline) phones or cell phones on any emergencies in the county. Liss explained that once a person signs up to receive alerts, whenever severe weather, or traffic accident, or other emergency occurs, an automatic emergency notification alert will be broadcast to anyone who signs up to receive them. That alert may arrive in the form of voice mail, text message, facebook msg, or e-mail. To sign up, residents should go to the new 911/Emergency Management Facebook page at https://facebook.com/pages/Otsego-County-911Emergency-Management/318117674964418 to receive updates on issues as they happen as well as other safety-related information. Liss asked that residents share this information with friends and other residents.

Homeowners Get Hardest Hit Funds® Help

by Tom Serino

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is offering help for homeowners who are receiving unemployment benefits from Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). That was reported out at the regular meeting of the Corwith Townshp Board at their Feb. 6 meeting. There are several sub-programs under the Hardest-Hit Homeowners program. There is an Unemployment Mortgage Subsidy Program; a Loan Rescue Program; A Modification Plan Program and a Principal Curtailment Program. For detailed information, visit their website at: www.stepforwardmichigan.org. A brief overview of the programs available are as follows: Under the Unemployment program MSHDA will provide monthly mortgage payment assistance directly to the mortgage lender. This program provides up to the lesser of $1,000 or 50 percent of homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment each month, for a maximum of 12 months. The Loan Rescue Program helps homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage and/or property taxes and need help catching up. These funds can be used to help 1) to fully reinstate a 1st lien mortgage delinquency; 2) to reinstate the 1st lien mortgage delinquency AND make a contribution toward past due property taxes; 3) to reinstate a 2nd mortgage lien delinquency only OR contribute toward past-due property taxes only, if the first lien mortgage is current. The Modification Plan Program helps homeowners that may have fallen behind on their mortgage, and homeowners with negative equity. Funds can be used to, among other things, to make a contribution toward the unpaid balance to reduce the negative equity, if the lender agrees to modify the existing mortgage terms aimed at providing the homeowner with a more affordable, sustainable payment plan. Finally, the Principal Curtailment Program also helps homeowners in a negative equity situation when their combined loan balance is higher than the value of their home. The difference here is that the maximum program reservation is only $10,000 and requires a one-to-one match from the lender to equal a total amount of assistance of $20,000. These funds can be used toward the unpaid principal balance to reduce the negative equity, if the lender also agrees to modify the existing mortgage terms. For all programs, homeowners must sign a lien document and a note. The loan note is zero percent and is forgivable over a five year period at 20 percent per year, as long as the homeowner occupies the property. For more detailed information see: www. stepforwardmichigan.org.

Editorial:

Possession is Nine Tenths

by Tom Serino

The recent rally by postal workers at Rep. Dan Benishek’s office to ‘Save our Post Offices’ and to support H.R. 1351 were basically thwarted with rhetoric suggesting postal employees retirements were at issue. In fact, postal employees are employed under the Civil Service Retirement System (CRSS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Postal workers and the postal service pay into both. Postal employees like other government employees may also subsribe to the Thrift Savings Program to bank extra money for retirement. What is at stake is the $70 billion that the government is holding ‘to protect employees retirement benefits.’ And the billion dollar question is, “Does anyone think that the government is going to give that money back to the CRSS and FRSS systems?” To add insult to injury, Congress wants to continue taking $5 billion a year for the next 9 years to ‘to protect employees retirement benefits.’ for the next 75 years. That suggests the government is trying to protect retirement for postal employees who haven’t even been born yet. Give me a break! Possession is nine tenths of the law, and to his credit, the Postmaster General (PMG) has refused to pay the $5.5 billion this year, but unfortunately will, if Congress lets him have his way.. i.e. force a five day work week. (see ad, Page 7) The PMG, whose pay is almost 1/2 a million dollars, says the postal service needs to cut costs. How about starting at the top? That being said, unless the general voting public contact their congressmen asking for co-sponsorship of H.R. 1351 only the lower levels of the post office will suffer. Benishek’s Gaylord office is 989.448.8811. The public may contact Benishek’s office to ask about the PMG’s idea of service standards. Benishek, while still undecided on H.R. 1351, probably knows less about the PMG’s plan to reduce service standards.

Gas Savings Tips for the Thrifty

by Tom Serino

At $3.22 per gallon gas prices are causing stress in these economic times, but there are some ways to save gas that are well worth consideration. According to energy tips at Yahoo, MSN-Money you can get up to 50 m.p.g. if you drive your car with a goal to save gas. Some of the tips found at Yahoo, and MSN-Money include: 1. Jack rabbit starts burn gas. When leaving a stop sign or green light, press lightly on the gas.. you will still move forward, albeit slower, but the you might be surprised at how little it takes to get the car up to the speed limit in town. 2. Racing up to red lights While driving you see a red light up ahead. Take your foot off the gas. If you’re still doing 45 m.p.h. when you reach the light, you’ll be burning up your disc brakes to stop. It’s a lot cheaper to let your car coast to the stop while braking gently. As an added benefit, your brake pads will last longer, too. These two tips alone can improve your fuel economy around town by as much as 35 percent, according to tests conducted by automotive information on the Web site Edmunds.com. 3. Highway driving. On a recent trip to Grand Rapids, I drove my Honda CRV, a small S.U.V at or below 62 m.p.h on the expressway, and on M-55 and other places where it was 55 m.p.h. I drove only 52 mph. You would be surprised at how many cars passed me. And as they passed me, they dragged my S.U.V.. I actually attained 34.9 miles per gallon on that trip. According to the Yahoo site, in tests by Consumer Reports, driving at 75 miles per hour instead of 65 miles per hour reduced fuel economy by between 3 and 5 miles per gallon, depending on the vehicle. 4. Tailgaiting People tailgate, thinking they can stay inside the vacuum zone, to be dragged by the car in front of them, as in Item 3 above. Actually, tailgaiting is dangerous and wastes gas. Every time the driver ahead taps his brakes, you need to slow down considerably, and faster. The biggest problem is that you can’t see what is happening in front of the other driver when you’re that close to him. Take a lay back attitude, put a couple of car lengths between you and the other driver. You’ll be able to drive more smoothly and use less fuel. A good rule of thumb is to allow two seconds of space between your car and the one ahead. You can figure that out by counting off two seconds after the car in front of you passes an obvious landmark like an overpass. 5. Saving gas at stop lights With modern fuel-injection engines, it takes very little extra gas to restart a car once it’s warmed up. So, if you are stopped for more than 14 seconds, according to MSN - Money, shut it off. At a long line of cars, at a traffic light in downtown Gaylord - by the way, if you travel at the correct speed, you will be stopped by at least one of the lights since they aren’t synchronized yet... Maybe in another 20 years. In the meantime, once you are in a long line waiting for a left turn, or at one of those fast-food restaurants, shut off the engine. Idling burns about a half-mile worth of gas every minute, according to the California Energy Commission. By the way, you will get more exercise walking into Burger King for your meal. If you want to know where gasoline prices are headed, watch the Dow Jones Transportation Index ($DJT). That's the theory of some market watchers, at least. The transportation sector uses more than 70% of U.S. petroleum production and imports, according to Rigzone. When the transportation index drops, it's usually followed by a drop in crude oil prices. "We suggest keeping a close eye on the transports as the proverbial 'canary in the coal mine' in preparation of rotating out of the energy sector ahead of what historically has signaled grief for the industry," Rigzone writes. And that could be the case now. The Dow Transportation Index has dropped 12.3% since July 7. (Source: http://money.msn.com)

Letter to the Editor

by Phil Williams

This past week I received a schedule of fees from my propane gas company (at bottom). As I read through it, I could not believe that in a time when gas prices are skyrocketing that they would have the nerve to add additional fees or better yet to send me a notice at Christmas. And heaven forbid—You run out of gas——Because you are low income and don’t have regular refills—It will cost you $150.00 if you call after 4:30 or before 8 am or $250.00 if it is on the week end. Then add $85.00 for the leak check fee (because you ran out of the gas that you can’t afford anyway) then another $100.00 if you can’t afford the 200 gal minimum! So now for running out of gas on a Holiday weekend you will need $435.00 to make the call to get any gas…Gas fee not added in yet. The more I read the angrier I got. But after some reflection I realized that this is just a great marketing plan and I began to think of ways that I could also benefit.. Here are some of the concepts I came up with: Driveway usage, every time they deliver… $100.00. If unable to back in with one try additional $50.00 per attempt. Per minute fee for using our property $5.00 per minute or $100.00 whichever is greater. $100.00 fee for arriving before 9am and disturbing my morning coffee. $100.00 a month advertising fee for having their company name on the tank in MY yard. Obviously the days when Customer Service mattered are gone. When a Company was just darn happy to have you as a Customer… Now it is about the money. Needless to say, I will be shopping for a friendlier Gas Company, one that wants my business, not my Soul. Maybe you should too. But first I will have to save up the $100.00 fee for the tank removal! Phil Williams

My Vacation 2009

by Tom Serino

From time to time, your editor takes a vacation... I can usually find something to bore our readers with.. So here is a summation of one of my vacation days in South Africa. Easter Sunday was special in South Africa. I did want to go to a Catholic church, but my son, a journalist for the South African Press Association (SAPA) had been given an assignment to do a story on a political rally for the President of the African National Conference (ANC) so we went there instead. While my son was able to take some time off work, it was great tagging along to see him do his work. Actually, it was fantastic! As we approached the main church, we were met and challenged by one of the church’s deacons, who turned out to be the media spokesperson for the church. My son presented his credentials with the media. Then the PR person for the church asked me for mine. I had to say, “I don’t have any credentials, I’m here just visiting my son.” The man asked where I came from. I responded, “The United States.” That resulted in a broad smile and a “Come on in!” That gave me a great feeling of welcome, and pride of my home country. And that happened on other occasions, as well. But I digress. It was a great event. besides seeing the President of the ANC up close.. he even smiled for me a couple of times as I took some pictures of him, as my son did his work.. taking notes for the story.  The President of the ANC, Jacob Zuma, age 67, is the most likely winner of the Presidential Election for S.A. which was held April 22, so this was a huge story. Interesting that he showed up at the International Pentacostal Holiness Church IPHC, for a campaign stop... He was there from Noon to about 3, because there was also scheduled for that same religious service 400 weddings of 150 men... you ask how do 150 marry 250? easy.... some men married 2 or 3 wives on the same day... I was shocked... and in the procession of the couples to be, the wives would lead and the husband would walk behind the wife.... Sometimes the wife-to-be would have at her side, the current wife or wives of the man she is marrying... I took pictures because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.. One guy, a young man, married three women the same day... Can you imagine what was going through his head? And the decisions he had to make later in the day?  I was impressed. In all cases, the wife’s bouquet of flowers contained a color matching the man’s suit, or vest, or tie at least. The reason so many got married this day, was because Easter is a special day for this religion, and it is considered an auspicious day for weddings, in particular. After the procession of the wedding parties to the music of a great choirs and large band (with some great sax.. even got me dancing) Yes, most of the newlywed couples ‘danced’ down the aisle.. not just walked... The President to be, J Z as he is called, has four wives... and his fourth wife MaNtuli, while the youngest of the others, age 33, may take the front seat as the FIRST LADY, when he becomes President of S.A. Anyway, what is especially interesting is the fact that the Leader of the Church, welcomed J.Z, the politician, into the church.... i.e. they have no separation of Church and State here... After the rally at the IPHC, which featured about 30,000 church members attending, J Z went to a Muslim celebration, and spoke there as well... We followed him there as well.... all very interesting... As my son interviewed and I listened to people’s response, it was mixed.. some liked J Z, some did not... their most important concern was crime against their people... Africa has a 40% unemployment rate, and 70% of blacks are unemployed... so it makes for a lot of crime, thievery, muggings and the like... As such residents live in compounds, homes with 6’ cement or steel bar walls. By the way, the car of the day was the Rolls Royce which the leader of the church showed up in... the President of the ANC rolled up in a BMW... It turned out to be a nice Easter. Tom Serino

H&H Earns Industry Award

by Tom Serino

H&H Tube of Vanderbilt has been honored with the 2010 TPJ Industry Award presented by the Tube and Pipe Association (TPA). TPA is a technology affiliate of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International ® (FMA) which honors industry success stories. H&H Tube meets the criterion of an industry success story. With its high regard to customer service, quality, on-time delivery and short lead times, H&H Tube not only encompasses the essence of the TPJ Industry Award, but is a great example of a quality American manufacturing facility. In addition, H&H Tube has taken incredible steps over the past several years in reducing inventory levels, minimizing scrap and achieving safety goals while never losing focus on their customers. “Our editors meet many fabricators every year, and every one of them is unique,” said Ed Youdell, group publisher for FMA Communications Inc., the company that publishes of TPJ-The Tube & Pipe Journal. “Some are in specific niches, and some are very diverse; some have just a handful of employees and some have dozens; some use all the latest technologies and others use tried-and-true machinery; but despite these differences, every fabricator makes a contribution to this industry. As this years’ top award winner, H & H is a fabricator we believe everyone can learn from. We selected H & H because the company exemplifies what metal fabrication is all about.” “Every application goes through several reviews,” said Eric Lundin, editor of TPJ-The Tube & Pipe Journal®. “What really stood out for H & H Tube was what the company does for people. Not just its customers, but its employees and the people in its community, too. Its safety record speaks for itself,” Lundin continued. “Three years without a lost day says a lot about its commitment to a safe workplace. When customers call, they talk to a receptionist because the company doesn’t want them to have to deal with a frustrating and impersonal automated phone system. And to top it off, H & H supports nearly a dozen local charities and causes.” “It is truly an honor to be recognized with this award.” comments Dan Dreyer, General Manager. “It is the result of the hard work of every employee; without their dedication and support, this award wouldn’t be possible.” The award will be presented at the Metal Matters 2010 conference hosted by FMA. H&H Tube will also be featured on the cover of the January / February 2010 issue of TPJ – Tube & Pipe Journal ® with an editorial covering how its culture was recognized for the Industry Award. H&H Tube is one of the largest tube fabricators supported by its own customer redraw mill. Established in 1930, H&H Tube was built on the philosophy of always recognizing the needs of its customers and understanding that quality, on-time delivery and customer service are paramount to success.  Today, H&H Tube still conducts it business with the same philosophy. H&H Tube is ISO 9001:2008 certified and owned by Sunspring America, Inc. with locations in Kentucky and North Carolina.

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