Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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On a Roll...benefit concert for the Benzie Bus System

Danielle Horvath - July 13th, 2006
A millage election will be held on August 8 in Benzie County for residents to decide whether to fund a new public bus service. A benefit concert by the popular local band Song Of The Lakes to help support the Benzie Bus Initiative is set for Saturday, July 15, 7:30 p.m. at the Elberta waterfront band shell. Admission is free and donations are welcome. A silent auction will also be held that includes a season ski pass from Crystal Mountain Resort.
Ingemar Johansson, a member of Song Of The Lakes, has been involved in the issue of public transportation – or the lack of – in the county for years. Here are his thoughts on the need for busing in Benzie.

NE: Why do you feel this is an important issue for the people in Benzie?
Johansson: A healthy and vibrant community needs to have transportation for everyone. A professional study we commissioned in April 2002 showed that public transportation needs are going largely unmet in Benzie County; with poorly funded service that today is limited only to seniors and people with disabilities.
In presenting the Benzie Bus plan to hundreds of Benzie County residents in the last two years, my fellow volunteers and I have heard time and time again that most people know someone who needs a ride to get to the doctor or the grocery store, that soaring gas prices are squeezing family budgets, and that some local residents simply cannot afford a reliable vehicle in order to get to work. Some cannot drive because of age or disability and need a hand.
Businesses, meanwhile, say they need employees who can make it to work reliably every day. The Benzie Bus system is designed to meet those needs and support dignity, economic security, and independence in the lives of Benzie County residents.

NE: How much will it cost?
Johansson: The ballot will seek a 0.5 mil property tax for five years. It would cost the owner of a $150,000 no more than $37.50 a year, or about a dime a day.

NE: How will it work?
Johansson: The Benzie Bus system would consist of five buses and one van, all accessible to the general public, seniors, and people with disabilities. It would operate countywide from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with daily express roundtrips to Traverse City and Manistee as well. With voter approval, buses would start running in early 2007.

NE: How much will it cost to ride?
Johansson: A dial-a-ride bus would pick you up at your curb and take you any place in Benzie County for $2 per one-way trip, $1 for seniors and people with disabilities. A daily express bus on U.S. 31 would cost more and take riders to Traverse City or Manistee and back.

NE: Who will run it?
Johansson: In April, the Benzie County Commissioners voted unanimously to form the new Benzie Transportation Authority and appointed 10 county residents to direct the independent public body. If funded by county voters, the transportation authority would combine local revenues with more than $400,000 a year in state and federal matching funds to develop and run the Benzie Bus system. The Benzie Transportation Authority and its board of directors are independent of the county board and will be insured to bear sole legal and financial liability for the bus system.

NE: Isn’t there some kind of bus service in the county already?
Johansson: The Benzie County Council on Aging operates a very limited dial-a-ride service for seniors and people with disabilities only. If the bus proposal passes, it would absorb the current service.

NE: What kind of response have you gotten from the community?
Johansson: In the last few months, the Benzie Bus campaign has gained dozens of new endorsements. Support is booming among businesses, civic groups, and local residents all across the county. We have presented plans for the bus system to several hundred Benzie County residents at meetings of civic, business, and non-profit groups and government. The feedback we received resulted in a revised and better plan, with expanded hours so that people can ride the bus to work, extracurricular activities, the doctor, local shops, or other destinations.

NE: Who is sponsoring the Benzie Bus initiative?
Johansson: The Benzie County Council on Aging, the Benzie County Human Services Collaborating Body, the Northern Michigan Alliance for Independent Living, Manistee-Benzie Community Mental Health, the Benzie Ministerial Association, and the Michigan Land Use Institute have spent the last several years evaluating the county’s need for public transportation and developing a plan to meet it. Crystal Mountain Resort, Graceland Fruit, Inc. and Honor State Bank are three of over forty businesses that have endorsed the plan.

NE: Where can someone find out more information?
Johansson: Local residents in early May formed a new group called Friends of the Benzie Bus to promote a “yes” vote, they are meeting every Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the First Congregational Church, 900 Barber Street, Benzonia. Or they can contact me at (231) 882-2150 or via email at HYPERLINK “mailto:ijohansson@mbcmh.org, or check out our website at HYPERLINK www.benziebus.org.

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