Have a Fun, Safe Time on the Water this Independence Day Weekend

If you head out to the water this Independence Day weekend, please take necessary precautions to make it a safe trip.  Michigan’s lakes are some of our greatest treasures, but they also pose one of our greatest dangers. 

Although the Great Lakes are not known for deadly rip currents, 30 people drowned in their undertow last year. Lake Michigan’s currents claimed 17 lives in 2010 and have been identified as one of the most dangerous rip current zones.

Rip currents are hazardous to all beachgoers and can sweep away even   the strongest swimmer.

I recently testified before the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee about the need for uniformity in beach safety warnings, especially concerning rip currents.

Currently, there are many different warning systems in use by different municipalities; which can be confusing and even dangerous for people who visit multiple beaches.

Shortly, I will be introducing legislation which would have  Michigan join states like Florida that utilize a statewide, flag-based warning system that is consistent and easy for swimmers to understand.  I would also like our state to provide a website where individuals can check the condition of the beaches from home.

As a former lifeguard, I know that our lakefront is not to be feared, but respected. Everyone should enjoy Michigan’s lakes, pools and streams, but also remember that taking swimming lessons and always using proper precautions can help ensure a fun, safe time.

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Photo Contest Winners Announced

To make the 21st Senate District office feel more like home, this spring, I invited residents to enter their favorite photographs of southwest Michigan into a photo contest.

The response was overwhelming, with 165 photos submitted. The nine pictures with the most ‘Likes’ or votes were selected as the winners and will be hung in the 21st district senate office.

“American Beauty over Paw Paw Lake,” submitted by Kim Siglow, took first place. As the top vote getter, her photo of a bald eagle soaring over Paw Paw Lake will be hung in the office as well as remain my Facebook profile picture for all of June.

It wasn’t until the contest ended and I contacted Kim, that I learned of the interesting story behind the photo.   Siglow told me that her husband took the photo by hanging out of an open, second-story window while she held onto him so he didn’t fall.

The other contest winners, which will all be displayed in the 21st District office, include “Farm Pond South of Berrien Springs” by Dave Coulston; “North Pier Sunset” by Lea Brookes; “Frozen Beauty,” “I Say Apple?”   and “Rambo’s Blueberries” by Kathy Allen; “A Morning Swim in Lake Michigan” by Jane Simon Ammeson; and “Huge Waves on Lake Michigan” and “Grapes at Karma Vista” by Cheryl Aldrich Lane Walberg.

All 165 photos can be seen by visiting my Facebook page and clicking on “Southwest Michigan Photo Contest” in the Photos section.

This was an opportunity to allow residents to showcase what makes Michigan’s great southwest such an incredible place to live. Each photo captured the beauty of our region, and I want to thank all those who submitted pictures.

‘Pink Ribbon’ Would Raise Funds to Fight Breast Cancer

Breast and cervical cancers have devastated millions of Americans, touching many Michigan families. If your family has not had to deal with these terrible diseases, chances are that you know someone who has.

It is for this reason that I and many others wear a pink ribbon to raise awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection.

That is why I was proud to co-sponsor legislation in the Michigan Senate to create a “Pink Ribbon” license plate, which would raise funds for screening and treatment of breast and cervical cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society, a woman’s chance of survival with early detection of a localized cancer is 98 percent.  Unfortunately, current screening only catches slightly more than 60 percent of cases at that early stage.  Survival rates decrease among low-income individuals, who are unable to afford regular medical examinations.

The funds raised by this license plate will help improve access for women to life-saving cancer screening and treatment. All revenues would go to help increase the number of screenings provided each year and all startup costs for the plate would be covered by privately-raised funds, so that this comes at no cost to taxpayers.

The fact that this measure received unanimous support upon introduction in the Senate is a testament to the unified effort to win the battle against these deadly cancers.