Sen. Jansen introduces retirement reforms for state employees

Legislation designed to save the state money by encouraging eligible state employees to retire was introduced in the Michigan Senate recently, said sponsor Sen. Mark C. Jansen, R-Gaines Township.

“This is a reform measure that we must consider during such challenging financial times,” said Jansen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The state is facing a $1.4 billion shortfall this year and we must control costs to help stretch taxpayer dollars.”

Senate Bill 1226 would reform the Michigan State Employment Retirement System (SERS) to provide incentives to retire for eligible state employees with 30 or more years of service.

To help ensure SERS remains financially sound, Jansen’s measure also would reinstate a three percent employee contribution. The Michigan Office of State Budget estimates that the three percent employee salary contribution for SERS participants would produce $23.6 million in gross savings during fiscal year 2010-2011 and a total of $289.6 million in gross savings from FY 2011 to FY 2020.

Measures to encourage state employees who are members of the defined benefit plan to retire include:

• Capping the earned service credit at 30 years. State employees continuing to serve beyond 30 years will be moved to a defined contribution plan for any additional years of service accrued after September 30 (excluding what is purchased by the employee).

• Eliminating state-subsidized retiree vision and dental coverage as part of the health plan for state employees retiring after September 30. Employees retiring after that will be able to purchase coverage for a monthly fee.

The administration has unveiled a retirement incentive plan to reduce the size of the public workforce by offering incentives to approximately 7,000 state employees and 39,000 public school employees eligible for retirement.

Jansen’s bill is modeled after of the governor’s proposed changes to the retirement system.

SB 1226 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee

for consideration.

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Rockford Register — March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 25

Rockford Lions Club Meeting—6 p.m. social, 6:30 dinner and 7 p.m. meeting at the Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe St., Rockford. Meetings held every second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Saturday, March 27

Blood Drive —9 am. to 1 p.m. at Hope Community Church, 7000 Myers Lake Avenue, Rockford.

Cannonsburg Elementary Family Fun Day —11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kids and adult games, silent auction, lunch, free babysitting for kids from 2 to 5 p.m. Free entrance, small cost for tickets. For more information call (616) 874-1293.

Pancake Breakfast —8 to 11 a.m. at Courtland Township Fire Department, 7480 14 Mile Rd. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits & gravy, coffee, orange juice or milk. $4 adults, $2 children 6 to 12, 5 and under free, $12 family special. Proceeds to benefit the Courtland Fire Department.

Monday, March 29

Grand Rapids Audubon Club Meeting—6:30 p.m. at Ladies Literary Club, 61 Sheldon SE, Grand Rapids. Dr. Douglas Tallamy, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, director or the Center for Managed Ecosystems at the University of Delaware, and author of “Bringing Nature Home; How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens,” will present “Bringing Nature Home.” For more information, including a map and details on parking, visit www.glsga.org/grac or call Bea at (616) 676-2446.

Tuesday, March 30

Country Music—9:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Rockford Ambulance Community Center, corner of 10 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue in Rockford. Music by the Rogue River Band. Enjoy free coffee, tea and snacks.

Wednesday, March 31

Blood Drive—noon to 6 p.m. at Rockford American Legion, 330 Rockford Park Drive.

Free Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms—5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the fire station at 7 S. Monroe St., Rockford, handed out by the Rockford Fire Department and Webelos Scouts of Cub Scout Pack 3282.

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A Message for You — March 25, 2010

Letting God be the God He is

by PASTOR MARK W. LOVE
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones,” Proverbs 3:5-8.

If my understanding is correct, of Luther’s understanding of God and man’s relationship to God, it is set down for us like this: Let God be the God that He is, and let me and all mankind be what we are, creatures and not Gods.

Sin is our attempt to be other than we are—God. We do this because we do not trust our creator and thus proceed to make decisions and take actions that are not ours, as creatures, to make or take.

In Jesus Christ we find a man without sin. Why? Because Jesus did not assume a role that was not His.

He was perfect in His manhood because He lived the life of a man, as man was to live it, and died the death of a man. Just like everyone else who was created in this flesh, Jesus lived by the rules of the flesh and lived them so closely that as all flesh must die, so Jesus also died.

In the cross of Christ we find God in man, living, suffering and dying like all men and women do, not to take it away, but to give and fill all suffering and death with purpose and blessing.

In baptism, God the Holy Spirit comes and by the grace of God, puts to death the power of our sinful nature, with all its desires to be other than what God created us to be, and created in us a new life that is pleased and rejoices to be the creature that God created in Jesus Christ. This new life rejoices to be a creature of God in Jesus Christ, but this life is lived by faith in God, faith that believes and knows not the outcome of each day, but faith that believes God is being God to the fullest in our lives. This faith assures us all of a good outcome, whether for life here or death.

The way of living this new life in Christ is found in the Word of God, the law of God. The law then becomes not rules and regulations, but they show us the way to be what God created us to be, both at the beginning of Creation, and in the new birth of faith in Jesus Christ.

The goal then for life here is not first and foremost a moral code, but it becomes for us a goal of being the creatures God originally intended us to be at the creation of the world. By the grace of God we are given new life and enabled to be the creatures of God’s creation. It is by faith in God being God, and being God in us through Jesus Christ, that we live out our new life in the day-to-day activities.

Our sins occur when we stop being creatures, created to serve God and all of creation, and start attempting to be God. This begins in the heart that is not satisfied with being a mere creature, in the heart that isn’t satisfied with others doing more, the heart that isn’t satisfied with how others do things, the heart that isn’t satisfied to let God be God and accomplish His will through other creatures. Such a heart proceeds to seek its own satisfaction. How does this work itself out in the life of a person?

Let’s take worship for example. The heart, and thus the person who isn’t satisfied with God being God, seeks things that will satisfy themselves rather than God. Summer is coming and it’s “going up north” season. Such a heart will justify their absence in worship by their desire to get away to the lake or the cabin. Going to the lake or the cabin isn’t a problem as long as, while there, the believer takes the time to worship the Lord. In letting God be God, we let ourselves be the creatures who need Him to feed and nourish us in worship. When you and I let God be God, He and His will fill everything we are and thus everything we see and do. We understand ourselves to be the instruments, the means through which He carries out His divine acts of love and mercy.

By the grace of God, a believer is brought into a faith relationship to Jesus Christ. In this relationship, our Lord Jesus brings us God as He really is and makes us as we are to really be through baptism. In this relationship, we live by letting Jesus be Jesus who daily saves and leads, and we, by faith, live by following, so that together we may follow Him who is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life.

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Plenty of freebies, but no car giveaway at Community Expo

Four people left $500 richer, but no one was able to claim the big prize of the day, the Chevy Malibu offered by drawing by John Decker Chevrolet. No one left empty handed, unless by choice however.

Ric’s Food Center Store Director Dave Brickner helps pass out samples during Expo. A variety of treats were given out.

The sixth annual Community Expo held March 20 was as well-attended as in past years. Booths of all types offered coupons, information, free gifts and goodies.

Mike and Vanessa Carroll, along with daughter Jade, said the event has become like a reunion, a chance to interact with friends and talk with business owners they know.

A day-long cold snap may have helped attendance by making an indoor event sound more appealing. Next year will be the seventh for the Community Expo, sponsored by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.

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Food, Family, Fun — March 25, 2010

Hush Puppies kicks off shoe design contest 

Hush Puppies, the originator of the first suede casual shoe, is sponsoring a shoe design contest on their website at www.hushpuppies.com in partnership with www.runwayonmonroe.com.

Official rules of the contest and information about entries are outlined on the Hush Puppies website. Contest entries can be by drawn by hand or digitally illustrated and will be accepted through April 18, 2010. All entries will then be narrowed to five finalists, which will be posted online at www.runwayonmonroe.com for public voting through May 13, 2010.

The top five finalists will be showcased at the fashion event “Runway on Monroe,” to be held in downtown Grand Rapids on May 15. Attendees of the “Runway on Monroe” fashion finale will be able to vote that evening, and these votes will be added to the tally of the online votes. Following the event’s runway show, the contest winner will be announced live on stage.

“It’s exciting to be a global brand, based in Michigan, that is able to host an event with mass appeal, while bringing a focus to the state of Michigan. It is an opportunity to highlight all the great talent and amazing businesses that are located here,” said Dani Zizak, VP Global Marketing. “If you live in the United States, have an imagination and can put it on paper, you can enter this contest. If you attend the finale in May, you will have a fantastic time while enjoying our beautiful state.”

Hush Puppies is the title sponsor of “Runway on Monroe ” and the sole footwear supplier of the event. The winning shoe design will be produced and will then be sold online at HushPuppies.com in spring 2011. The winning designer will also receive a $1,000 cash prize, free Hush Puppies shoes for a year, and a one-on-one design summit with Hush Puppies footwear designers.

In addition to Hush Puppies, all other event sponsors are Michigan-based companies, highlighting the breadth of what Grand Rapids and the state of Michigan has to offer.

Since creating America ’s first casual shoe in 1958, Hush Puppies has always defined cool, casual style and unprecedented comfort. Today, Hush Puppies is one of the largest casual footwear brands globally, with over 19 million pairs sold last year in 140 countries.

Fun with Easter bunny benefits Equest Center

The Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding will be hosting its ninth annual Breakfast with the Bunny on Saturday, April 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come enjoy breakfast in the barn provided by Applause Catering. The event also includes horse-drawn wagon rides, a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, visiting with the Easter Bunny, and an egg hunt at 11:30, rain or shine! Breakfast and activities are included in ticket purchase, which may be reserved in advance pricing of $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for kids aged 10 and under. Tickets at the door are $11 for adults and $8 for kids aged 10 and under.

The Equest Center is a nonprofit therapeutic riding center entering its 20th year of serving those with physical and mental challenges. Over 150 individuals are served weekly on a year-round basis. All proceeds from Breakfast with the Bunny go toward scholarships for riders.

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