Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Snapshots of recovery
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Snapshots of recovery

Anne Stanton - March 22nd, 2010
Snapshots of RECOVERY
By Anne Stanton
Last week, Northern Express reported on those who found comfort and
refuge in methadone and other drugs, but were ultimately killed or
nearly destroyed by them. As the reporting went along, the Express
also came across stories of recovery and hope for drug addicts and
alcoholics. Here they are.

Kyle Oleson, 33,
Traverse City

When Kyle Oleson was 26, back in 2003, he was living in a storage unit
with winter coming on. He was cold, hungry, broke, and addicted to
methadone. His 24-year-old younger brother, Eric, had died earlier
that year from a heroin overdose he had taken with two people he’d met
at a T-house* in Traverse City. When Eric stopped breathing, they
panicked and drove to Munson Medical Center, and they dumped him off.
Eric’s death weighed heavily on Kyle. He blamed himself for setting a
bad example for his little brother. He had cut himself off from his
family and felt utterly alone. One morning, he called his mom, who
agreed to meet him at Mabel’s Restaurant. Over breakfast and coffee,
he told her he wanted help. Oleson soon entered treatment at Teen
Challenge, a spiritually based worldwide recovery program for all
ages, which accepts anyone, no matter what their means.
“It took me twelve months to complete the program. When I went there
it was my last stop before the grave. I had tried New Age, I had
tried prescription drugs, I had tried counseling. This was it. When I
went in there, I opened my mind up—I’m going to listen to these guys,
I’m going to give it a shot. It had to be real to me. I didn’t want
another lie, another act I had to follow. They helped me understand
what the Scriptures teach, but mostly they helped me work out things
with my Creator. It was Jesus that was the difference. I’d been
through every other program; my mom and dad took out three mortgages
to send me to the best places across the country. None of it worked.
There was a hole inside of me until I got saved. It’s the only truth
I’ve found in this world. I’m not perfect. I didn’t see a big bright
light. But over a period of time, my heart softened. The hole I tried
to fill with women and drugs and friends, it was like, there was love
that was inside of me I was always looking for.”
Now Oleson, who works as a waiter, is close to completing his seminary
degree. He has also worked for several years to open a recovery center
in Traverse City called Treehouse Ministries. Modeled after the Teen
Challenge program, it will open this year. “We are going to graft
their DNA, but we won’t take the same name because it’s too confusing;
the program is for all ages.
If I can help someone feel the joy I live everyday when I wake up, I’d
consider it an honor.”

Scott Pagel, 25, Traverse City

Pagel’s brother, Dan Pagel, died last month at the age of 21, from an
overdose of Methadone and Xanex, an anti-anxiety drug. Scott also
spent years addicted to illegal drugs.
“From my personal experiences, the incarceration system, being in
jail, and the T-houses around town, I think they are a 100% failed
effort and a waste of money. … When I was in a T-house,* my roommate
was selling drugs. He’d sneak out and go to the bar. He was in a T-
house, but he wasn’t doing shit. That same time, a block down the
road, a guy in a T-house got busted for selling heroin and one of the
guys in his house overdosed and died shortly after that. [Editor’s
note: It could have been Kyle Oleson’s brother, Eric, since it was
the same year.]
“The best result for me was when the judge had ordered me to go to the
SAI boot camp for 90 days, a prison boot camp in Chelsea. It was
absolutely my last chance. He told me, if you screw this up, you’ll go
to prison for a long time. The boot camp is the last ditch effort the
state has of saving people. I was under intense physical education,
which being a drug addict, your body will push it out of your system
in a matter of weeks. The programs they’ve got are great.
I got my GED, completed two substance abuse programs, and learned a
lot about myself. The biggest thing from SAI is the discipline they
taught; you cannot get that from jail or T-houses—the self-respect
and self-value. You don’t get anything like that in jail. When you’re
in jail, you hate yourself; life is horrible. At SAI, they might be
calling you ‘mommy’ or all kinds of silly things, but they build you
back up. The last I heard, they were thinking of shutting it down. Do
I believe in a higher power thing? I believe in a higher power, but at
the same time, I think it’s a crock of shit. If there’s a higher
power, then why are such horrible things happening all over the
Scott now provides medical marijuana to certified patients. He regards
it as a safer alternative to pain relief medication.

Mel Hagelberg, 42, Texas

When Traverse City teen Kyle Hagelberg died from an overdose of
methadone and cocaine, it spun his father, Mel Hagelberg, into an
alcoholic despair. Kyle died at the age of 17 a few weeks before
Christmas in 2005.
“I lived with much self blame for not looking in on him before I left
that day. I could hear him snoring. But in reality, he was trying to
breathe from his lungs collapsing.”
Mel believed his own alcoholism had led Kyle down the path of drugs.
He drowned his grief and guilt in dozens of beer a day, chased by
Vicodin pills. One day in the Spring of 2007, he got on a bus to
Texas to get away from his two sons and end his life far away.
“After about two months, I drank so much, I would just cry
uncontrollably. My nephew asked me, ‘Have you ever thought about not
drinking? Well, my best friend’s, dad, he’s in AA, and I’d like to
introduce you to him.’ So I went.
“I have been clean, and sober since July 16, 2007, which is my true
birthday. God did for me what I could not do for myself. I submerged
myself in the recovery program and worked the steps, as well as using
the sponsorship offered.”
By Thanksgiving, he was living in a hotel with no car, and $20 in his
pocket. But Mel said that God gave him a sense of peace, and he felt
no worries. He met a couple at church, who told him they’d been
praying for him. “The man said he didn’t know how or why I weighed so
heavy on him and his wife’s minds, but he doesn’t ignore it when God
speaks and directs him to do something.”
The man hired Mel to work as an IT coordinator for his company, but
before he began work, he flew him home to Traverse City to make amends
with his family.
“All I can say, is that today I make more money than I ever did my
whole life. And I have true friendships with too many to even count!
But the best gift I received? God is my best friend.”
Hagelberg has a dream of building a youth center and ministry in Texas
in Kyle’s memory. He has a lot to say about the pressures on kids, and
hopes his youth center will change lives.
“There are kids who pretty much raise themselves on TV. They see
people driving nice cars, winning millions of dollars, living in nice
houses. TV sculpts kids. They don’t feel good about themselves; they
can’t love themselves as they are. When you can’t love yourself, you
can’t give love to everyone else and you lose hope. It’s hard to get
it back.”

Thomas Gilbert, 52,
Traverse City

On October 12, 2002, Thomas Gilbert, who was then a judge for the 86th
District Court, went to a Rolling Stones concert.
About midway through, he furtively looked around and removed a
marijuana joint from his pocket and took a puff. He took another puff
when it came back his way.
Although that single action cost him what he calls “1 1/2 years of
public humiliation,” including a mention on the Jay Leno show, it also
transformed his life immeasurably for the better.
As it turns out, Gilbert’s true drug of choice wasn’t marijuana, but
alcohol. He entered a 30-day treatment program at Hazelden Drug and
Alcohol Treatment Center in Minnesota. At his first group session, he
cracked: “’I’ve been told I’m an alcoholic.’ They all thought it was
hilarious. That denial only lasted one day.”
Gilbert’s awakening came midway into the program. As part of the
therapy, his peers wrote to him about the blocks they saw to his
spirituality. He also wrote a letter to himself. After the session,
while swimming laps, he experienced his first “aha” moment.
“Alcoholism really is a disease, and I really do have it.”
Gilbert served out his term as judge after a six-month suspension
despite pressure to quit—from the Traverse City Record- Eagle, from
drug abusers whom he had sentenced, even an eighth grader who sat down
to write a letter about his hypocrisy teaching a DARE class.
Gilbert has since made his apologies to many, including the Elk Rapids
couple who reported him, to Bill Thomas, the Traverse City
Record-Eagle editor who called for his resignation, and to his wife,
Marsha Smith, who loyally stood by his side.
With his recovery came a new life’s purpose: “I am called to be a face
and voice of recovery. To go anywhere at any time and tell my story
and to be an example of the solution,” he said.
Gilbert has earned a master’s degree in addiction counseling and
opened Touchstone Recovery, located near the YMCA. He flies around the
country to help families and businesses with interventions—a
respectful confrontation of a person’s alcoholic or drug addicted
behavior by friends, families and co-workers.
Typically, the person immediately enters into treatment. It’s a myth,
Gilbert said, that people must “hit bottom” before they can be
Spirituality was critical to Gilbert’s recovery; he believes people
need to rely on something bigger than the substances that ruined their
lives. Gilbert acknowledges that the “higher power” aspect is a
stumbling block for some. “There are a lot of different paths to
recovery. As many different paths as there are human beings. We
should honor them all.”
Gilbert’s dream is to help create a culture of recovery in Traverse
City, and to open an affordable residential recovery center that
would cost a fraction of the normal fee, modeled upon a Sioux Falls
recovery center where he worked. (Gilbert’s own treatment at Hazelden
cost $24,000 and wasn’t covered by insurance.)
He believes the community has dwelled on the problem; now it’s time
to focus on solutions.
“Three things you must know. Addiction is a disease. Treatment works.
Recovery is possible for everyone. We know the biochemistry of this
disease, where it lives in the brain. And if we can make progress in
recognizing that these are not bad people trying to get good, but
sick people trying to get well, then it really should carry no more
stigma than being a diabetic.”

*T-house is short for transition house, which, ideally, is a drug-
free setting for people to practice newfound sobriety skills with
like-minded people.


Broken by William Cope Moyers. The son of journalist Bill Moyers,
Moyers tells a compelling story of recovery through Alcoholics
Anonymous (AA).

To learn about AA meetings in your area, google Alcoholics Anonymous
and the name of your town.

If you want to help an addict with an intervention, call a
professional such as Tom Gilbert for help (933-8845) or read Love
First by Jeff and Debra Jay, a $15 paperback, which explains how to go
about it.

For information about secular recovery groups, check out
smartrecovery.org or LifeRing Secular Recovery. There are sometimes AA
groups for agnostics and atheists.

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