Avoid Holiday Scams

November 25, 2010

It’s the most wonderful time of year for scam artists and identity thieves. With the holiday shopping season starting, people should be on the look-out for fraud and scams. Protect yourself from credit card and ID theft this Christmas season.

Steps consumers should take to protect against identity theft include:

-Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before discarding them.

-Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on a check.  Give it out only if absolutely necessary.

-Never give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with. Potential thieves will claim to be associated with your bank or credit card company in order to steal your identity.

-Be aware of links sent in unsolicited E-mails, instead type in a web address you know or use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your computer.

The Michigan Attorney General’s website provides consumer alerts or information about the most recent or widespread frauds and scams.  You can also file a complaint or report identity theft this holiday season with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 877-765-8388 or visit www.michigan.gov/ag.

Best wishes this holiday season and happy shopping!

A Lot to Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings filled with feasting on turkey, watching parades, cheering on football games, and many more of our own personal traditions. Most importantly, Thanksgiving is a time to express our gratitude to friends and family for their friendship and support throughout the year and to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

Two hundred and twenty-one years ago, President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation. Washington’s proclamation followed Congress’ request “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God….”

In this way, Thanksgiving was created to celebrate our new-found freedom and liberties; and the peace and tranquility enjoyed by the citizens of our nation following the Revolutionary War.

America’s first settlers held feasts for the purpose of giving thanks as early as 1621.  These feasts were usually held in celebration of a successful harvest and often in the company of Native Americans who had taught the settlers new hunting and farming skills.

This November, I hope you celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends and reflect on everything we have to be grateful for and to cherish.

O. Henry once said that “There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” Please join me in appreciating the many blessings of our great nation this year.

May your hearts and homes be filled with blessings, happy Thanksgiving.

Deer Populations High in Michigan’s Great Southwest

November 18, 2010

With the firearm deer hunting season upon us, a great Michigan tradition is underway.  The following are some things to keep in mind this fall.

This year, the Michigan DNRE is reporting that deer populations in the Upper Peninsula are below goal, at or below goal in the northern Lower Peninsula, but above goal all throughout the southern Lower Peninsula-including Michigan’s Great Southwest.

Another consideration for the 2010 hunting season is the Kalamazoo River area oil spill.  The Michigan DNRE urges hunters to avoid the portion of the Kalamazoo River affected by the spill, which is the area from Interstate 69 west to the west end of Morrow Lake in Kalamazoo County.  This is due to the large amount of workers in the area.

As the deer population starts to move over the next couple of weeks, here are a few tips for drivers to remember.  According to recent reports from Michigan auto insurers, Michigan is one of the top 10 states for car-deer collisions, with a 1:78 ratio of deer accidents to registered vehicles.

To help avoid collisions, here is what the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition recommends:

Watch for deer, especially at dawn and dusk, when they are most active;

If you see one deer, approach cautiously, as there may be more out of sight;

Be alert all year long, especially on two-lane roads;

Watch for deer warning signs; and

Slow down when traveling through heavily deer-populated areas.

Thank you to all the hunters, and happy hunting this season!

New Law Helps Local Cupcake Company Get Started


Andrew Green

November 12, 2010

A pair of sisters from Saint Joseph have launched a new cupcake business, and say that a recently passed state law on cottage kitchens has helped them to do so. The state law — introduced by State Representative John Proos — lets makers of baked goods produced in the home sell their items, as long as they’re labeled properly. Previously, such products had to be made in commercial kitchens. Liz Algyre, co-owner of Mimi’s Cupcakes, tells WSJM that made it much easier for her and her sister to get the company running.

Liz told us that the idea for the company all started with their mother’s baking, and things have been going well for them so far.

Mimi’s makes specialized cupcakes that can be bought for parties or other events. They’ve got several original varieties. To name a few — there’s the Willie Wonka, which is a chocolate cupcake covered with chocolate buttercream frosting…and the Cookies and Cream, which is an Oreo chocolate cupcake covered with crushed Oreo buttercream frosting and topped off with an Oreo. You can find out more at mimis-cupcakes.com.

State Parks Recreation Passport Now Available

November 1, 2010

Michigan’s new recreation passport is a wonderful and affordable way to enjoy the great outdoors. The family passport is a license plate sticker which grants access to 98 state parks and 1,000 boat launches across the state.  The State Parks Recreation Passport is available for $10 for registered vehicles and $5 for registered motorcycles and can be obtained when you renew your license plate online, by mail, at Self-Service Stations or at a Secretary of State office.  The sticker is also available for purchase at the DNRE E-Store, or Michigan residents can call 517-373-9900 to receive the passport license sticker by mail.

Proceeds from the passes will go toward the preservation of Michigan’s state parks and trails.  This is a great way to support our state’s natural splendor while enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, camping and hunting.

In the past, our state parks have been funded by grants from the Natural Resources Trust Fund and expensive camp entry fees. The passport replaces the Motor Vehicle Permit system previously used at state parks, boat launches and recreation areas.

The $10 recreational passport will encourage the use of Michigan State Parks, ultimately benefiting local communities across the state and right here in Michigan’s great Southwest.  For more information about the new State Parks Recreation Passport, visit: www.michigan.gov/dnr.