Blossomtime is a Celebration of Southwest Michigan

The Blossomtime Festival and its Grand Floral Parade are the oldest and largest multi-community events in the state, celebrating all that Southwest Michigan has to offer.
My fellow area legislators and I were proud to recently welcome the 2012 Blossomtime pageant finalists to the state Capitol. It was a special honor to host such an outstanding group of young people, which included Miss Baroda Casey Merrill, Miss Berrien Springs Cassondra Rudlaff, Miss Buchanan Kelsie Patrick, Miss Eau-Claire/Sodus Kate Nimtz, Miss Edwardsburg Meghan Monaghan, Miss Heart of Blossomtime Demi Overley of Marcellus, Miss New Buffalo Lede Stevens, Miss Niles Maureen Craig and Miss Three Oaks Heather Rowlison.

I am looking forward to participating in the Grand Floral Parade on Saturday. The parade will start at 1 p.m. in St. Joseph and continue its way through the city, across the Bicentennial Bridge and into Benton Harbor.

Miss Blossomtime Dillan Smith of St. Joseph, Mr. Blossomtime Agape Mpamira of Buchanan and their court will be among 120 entries featured in the parade.

The Grand Floral Parade will also include bands, floats, clowns, antique cars and tractors and the famed Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Motorcycle Drill Team, which is celebrating its 49th consecutive appearance leading the parade.

In addition to the parade, the 33rd annual Run for the Buds 5K Run/Walk will begin at 10:30a.m. on Saturday. It starts in Downtown St. Joseph and follows the parade route through Benton
Harbor and ends back in St. Joseph.

Winners in 15 different age groups, from ages 8 and under to 65 and older, will ride in the parade. All proceeds from the event help fund scholarships for outstanding young men and women. For more information please visit

The 106-year-old festival is a wonderful family-fun event that helps attract thousands of visitors to our community in celebration of the beauty and rich agricultural traditions of Southwest Michigan.

I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy a great Southwest Michigan tradition.

Federal Disaster Declaration Would Help Local Farmers

A frost in early April destroyed an estimated 10,000 acres of Southwest Michigan grapes, approximately 95-percent of the region’s total grape crop. As a result, it is projected that grape farmers will lose more than $20 million for the 2012 season.

I sponsored a Senate resolution urging President Obama to help these farmers financially recover from this devastation by declaring the Southwest Michigan fruit-growing region a disaster area.

The declaration would allow our hard-hit fruit and vegetable growers access to low-interest loans and other federal assistance.

In 2010, Michigan produced 36,000 tons of grapes with a net value of $15.4 million. Southwest Michigan grapes are used for juice and wine production around the country.

Welch’s Foods relies on Michigan growers for 17 percent of its grape supplies for its juice production. The company said the frost was the most devastating in Michigan history, and a Welch’s surveyor called it a “complete wipeout.”

Warm temperatures in 2012 wreaked havoc on the state’s grape, apple and other crops. The early warmth caused plants to sprout prematurely, putting them at risk of damage when devastating frost occurred.

This disaster has negatively impacted the approximately one million residents who work in Michigan’s agriculture industry, which brings in about $64 billion a year.

These crops represent a livelihood for the many families who rely on the state’s 50,000 farms. The declaration would be a way of stepping up and helping our local farmers survive a natural disaster as well as the thousands of Michigan families and workers who depend on them.

Explore Michigan Outdoors with Free DNR Mobile App

Southwest Michigan families have an additional tool to use when planning their outdoor activities this year: the “MI Camping and Recreation Locator” mobile application.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) app makes it easier for residents and out-of-state visitors to get out and enjoy our state’s wonderful natural resources.

I encourage outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of this app to locate information about our state parks, forest campgrounds, boat launches and other state outdoor activities. It is easy to use and free of charge.

The app allows users to search for state parks, forest campgrounds and boat launches by region, city or proximity. Features include camping, lodging and boating information; maps showing the location of each state park, forest campground and boat launch; distance between you and each recreational opportunity; and touch-to-call phone numbers to easily contact the facilities.

State park and forest information like the size and description of the park, park rules and activities you can find there; and information about boat launches like name and size of a lake, river or pond; facts about the ramp; and number of parking spaces, are all available through the app.

This convenient resource will help residents and tourists to find the best place for them and their families to camp, hike, boat and swim—many of which are right here in Southwest Michigan.

Michigan’s great outdoors offers a variety of activities, and this app will help ensure that everyone has a fun and enjoyable time.

To learn more about the app, go to:

The site includes links for downloading the app.

Proos, Tyler Welcome 2012 Blossomtime Royalty to Michigan Capitol


Sen. John Proos and Rep. Sharon Tyler welcomed the 2012 Blossomtime Festival pageant finalists to the state Capitol on Wednesday.

“The Blossomtime Festival is a great tradition in Southwest Michigan, celebrating our rich agricultural heritage and everything the region has to offer,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I am proud and honored to host this great group of young people at the Capitol. They are excellent community representatives and volunteer throughout the region in their leadership roles.”

The 106-year-old Blossomtime Festival and parade are the oldest and largest multi-community events in Michigan.

“I look forward to hosting the Blossomtime royalty each year because their enthusiasm for and dedication to the great Southwest is evident to everyone they encounter,” said Tyler, R-Niles. “I am always impressed by the poise and grace of these fine young men and women, and it is an honor to have this group of young people representing our communities.”

In 2001, the Blossomtime Scholarship Fund began awarding more than $10,000 in scholarships each year. For more information, including dates for this year’s festival, visit:

Pictured are Rep. Tyler and Sen. Proos (back row), Miss Blossomtime Dillan Smith of St. Joseph (center right), Mr. Blossomtime Agape Mpamira of Buchanan (center left) and the 2012 Blossomtime Court.

Proos Urges Southwest Michigan Residents to Vacation Close to Home

WSJM – Radio

By Andrew Green

April 17, 2012

Summer is almost here, and State Senator John proos has some advice for those about to take a vacation — why not make it a staycation? Proos this week urged everyone to look at the recreation opportunities that Michigan has to offer, noting that you’re helping the state’s economy by doing so.

Proos says that there’s plenty to do right in your own backyard, pointing out that those things are easier on the wallet than some trip to another state. Go to for information on recreational opportunities and places of lodging.

Proos Touts Progress Made

Dowagiac Daily News

By John Eby

April 15, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — “While the numbers are few today, the believers are many,” state Sen. John Proos told a dozen people Sunday afternoon at Cass County Tea Party’s third annual Tax Day rally beside the 1899 courthouse. “They couldn’t practice religion or live in a free society,” Proos, who was accompanied by his daughter, Elena, said.

“Our nation became what it is today because it was founded on Christian principles of freedom and a government of, by and for the people. Founders left us with our Constitution, which has withstood the test of time. People you send to represent you need to remember that. The believers need to be reminded. That’s the key today.”

The St. Joseph Republican said Michigan ist on a better track that benefits the futures of children such as his own Elena, Jack and Nora.

“What we do today we leave for them tomorrow, and I don’t want to leave them something worse. When jobs were the question, it was clear we weren’t competitive to keep the ones we already had and weren’t doing enough to attract jobs.

“We were picking winners and losers as a government because we were desperate for jobs to come to Michigan. That’s what it was during eight years of the Granholm administration. We saw the loss of a million jobs.

“When I started as your senator, Cass County was at 11.2 percent unemployment. Today, it’s at 8 percent. We can be better, but it’s improving.” because we looked at the equation and value competitiveness and the employer-employee relationship that is going to make Michigan strong again.”

We’re getting out of the way and letting businesses compete. Those who work hard of their own interest and effort are given the best chance to succeed without impediments by the government. Things are in a much better position than before. Without question, your tax dollars need to be held accountable in Lansing,” such as $2 billion the Department of Corrections consumes, which “cannot stand” because it could otherwise be spent on infrastructure or education. We’re not Doubting Thomases — we’re hopeful for our future and remember our country was founded on freedom from tyranny.”

Pure Michigan Campaign Produced Results

Niles Daily Star

April 13, 2012

New studies show that last summer’s Pure Michigan campaign helped bring in a record number of out-of-state visitors in 2011, said Sen. John Proos.

“Pure Michigan is a successful, award-winning tourism promotion program that has had a direct, measurable effect on boosting tourism in Southwest Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “In addition to supporting our state’s tourism industry and the thousands of Michigan job providers and families who depend on it, the program is helping the state budget. For every dollar we invested in Pure Michigan last summer, the state got back almost five dollars in revenue.”

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the state tourism group Travel Michigan, the summer promotion generated 3.2 million trips to Michigan and visitors spent $1 billion at Michigan businesses, paying $70 million in taxes

“The Pure Michigan campaign has helped get the word out to people all over Michigan and beyond that there is much to do and see in Southwest Michigan,” said John Marple, owner of the Old Harbor Inn in South Haven. “The ads have given my business a boost and have done the same for many hotel owners across the state. Right now, we are gearing up for another season of growth at the inn.”

The 2011 summer campaign cost $14.3 million and brought back $4.90 in taxes for each dollar spent. The state also recently announced a new advertising partnership with Coca-Cola. Under the partnership, idyllic Michigan scenery will cover Coca-Cola trucks and vending machines at no cost to the state.

“The Pure Michigan promotion is a productive investment, and I hope its success continues in Southwest Michigan,” Proos said. “I strongly support this campaign because it accomplishes three goals at once: helping keep and create jobs, generating more state revenues and improving Michigan’s national image to entrepreneurs considering locating in our state.”

Mentored Youth Hunting Licenses are Now Available

Hunting and fishing are great Michigan pastimes that help families bond while also fostering a passion for the outdoors in our children and teaching them the importance of preserving and respecting our natural resources.

The Mentored Youth Hunting program is designed to introduce youth under the age of 10 to hunting and fishing, and licenses are now available for the 2012 season.

Under the program, a package license for hunters less than 10 years old cost $7.50 and allow the youth to hunt turkey (spring and fall), deer and small game; trap furbearers; and fish for all species.

I supported creating this program because introducing youths to outdoor activities under the guidance of a mentor offers a unique learning experience. It will help children learn proper safety and ethics and also develop teamwork skills and self-confidence.

Youths must be accompanied by a mentor who must be at least 21 years old, have previous hunting experience and possess a current Michigan hunting license.

There is no limit on the number of children a mentor can have with him or her, but the mentor is responsible for the actions of the youth hunter in the field at all times.

For more information on the Mentored Youth Hunting program, visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s website at:

I encourage local hunters and families to take advantage of this youth mentorship opportunity and safely share Michigan’s great traditions with the next generation of Southwest Michigan outdoor enthusiasts.