Sen. Kowall welcomes Rabbi Kaluzny to Senate session

LANSING—State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, welcomed Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday. Rabbi Kaluzny serves at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield and gave the invocation before the start of the Senate session.

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Milford authors donate books to schools

From the Observer and Eccentric

There's a pirate in the woods – and in elementary schools across Michigan. Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, publishers of the In the Woods book series, are donating 2,000 copies of A Pirate's Quest to Michigan schools.
 
"We feel that blending gentle lessons of nature with a pirate is a fun way to celebrate the Michigan tradition March is Reading Month," Sams said in a release.
 
State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, and his staff helped distribute the books, he stated.
 
A Pirate's Quest, written by Laura Sams and Robert Sams and illustrated by Heiner Hertling, uses wildlife paintings to tell the tale of a one-legged pirate and his quest to find a peg leg – a family heirloom passed down from his grandpappy to his pappy to him. He loses the peg leg on a tiny lake far from the sea. To find it, he must follow the moving water, from the lakes to the rivers and eventually out to the ocean.
 
"Teaching kids about nature and an appreciation of books is important to us," Carl Sams said. "Our pirate travels through many different ecosystems along his way to find his peg. Our goal was to show children how water connects life around the world."
 
Hertling, an award-winning painter and host of the PBS television show, Your Brush With Nature, painted more than 50 original oil paintings for the book. "Adding a pirate to my usual nature-based scenes was a great challenge," Heiner said. "I wanted this book to be something that children will love for the story, nature lovers will love for the nature, and artists will love for the art."
 
Laura and Robert Sams are sister/brother wildlife filmmakers, who directed Sams II and Stoick's Lost in the Woods: The Movie, First Snow in the Woods: The Movie and Stranger in the Woods: The Movie.
 
A Pirate's Quest is available at www.strangerinthewoods.com.

Spinal Column: Comprehensive legislation will combat aquatic invasive species

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
 
Aquatic invasive species present a significant risk to the ecosystem and overall health of the Great Lakes. As more and more invasions have been tracked in the region, it has become apparent that unless sweeping measures are taken, the health of the basin, its habitat and the fishery will continue to decline.
 
I am the lead sponsor of an eight-bill package that addresses continued threats posed by the illegal introduction, possession, use, transfer or sale of prohibited aquatic invasive species.
 
An invasive species is one that is not native to an area and whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
 
Senate Bills 795 – 802 would increase the fines for the illegal possession of aquatic invasive species; allow for the seizure of all equipment used in the introduction, possession and sale of these species; allow for the suspension of related commercial licenses; and suspend the responsible party’s right to fish and hunt in Michigan.
 
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has reported that the invasive species bighead and silver carp are spreading to lakes, rivers and streams in the Mississippi River and Great Lakes region. They are not yet established here but are well-suited to the climate of the region.
 
Biologists expect that if these carp establish themselves, they will significantly disrupt the food chain that supports the native fish of the Great Lakes, diminish fishing opportunities and reduce the desire for recreational boating activities in areas inhabited by these fish.
 
Michigan law currently bans the possession of a select list of aquatic invasive species and expressly prohibits the possession, sale, transport or transfer of those prohibited species. However, there recently has been an increase in the trafficking of these species. 
 
Increasing the fines and enacting other penalties will help to serve as a serious deterrent for the recent increase in this activity.
 
My bill, SB 795:
  • Increases jail time from two to three years and maximum dollar fines from $20,000 to $100,000 for the possession of a prohibited aquatic invasive species;
  • Provides for the seizure and forfeiture of a vehicle, equipment or other property used in a criminal violation involving an aquatic species; and
  • Requires the court to order any commercial fishing license to be suspended for one year for a person who commits a criminal violation involving an aquatic species. For a second and subsequent violation, the licenses would be revoked.
SBs 795 – 802 have been referred to the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee for consideration.
 
I hope the committee takes up this package soon. The health and economy of the region may just depend on it.
 

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column.  Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is a member of the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee and the chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.
 

Sen. Kowall and colleagues honor Olympic gold medalists and Michigan natives Davis and White

LANSING—Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, (far right) on Tuesday welcomed Olympic gold medalists Charlie White (third from left) and Meryl Davis (right of White) to the state Senate, where the Michigan natives were honored with Senate tributes for being the first Americans to win gold medals in Olympic ice dancing.

White, who is from Bloomfield Hills, and Davis, from West Bloomfield, won the gold at the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. Also standing with the pair are Sens. John Pappageorge, R-Troy (left), Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton (second from left) and Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawson.

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Kowall: Michigan illustrators/publishers celebrate March is Reading Month by donating books to schools

LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Mike Kowall announced Wednesday that he is helping coordinate the distribution of a beloved children’s book to schools across the state for March is Reading Month.

Kowall said that Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, publishers of the New York Times best-selling In the Woods book series, are donating 2,000 copies of A Pirate’s Quest (for his family heirloom peg leg) to Michigan schools.

“I am delighted to hear such a widely known and successful book series has been donated to the children of Michigan for our annual March is Reading Month event,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “The children around the state are going to be very excited to get their hands on the In the Woods series.”

A Pirate’s Quest, written by Laura Sams and Robert Sams and illustrated by Heiner Hertling, uses wildlife paintings to tell the tale of a one-legged pirate and his quest to find a peg leg—a family heirloom passed down from his grandpappy to his pappy to him. He loses the peg leg on a tiny lake far from the sea. To find it, he must follow the moving water, from the lakes to the rivers and eventually out to the ocean.

“We feel that blending gentle lessons of nature with a pirate is a fun way to celebrate the Michigan tradition March is Reading Month,” Carl Sams said. “We are thankful for Senator Mike Kowall and his staff for orchestrating the distribution of the books to the schools.

“Teaching kids about nature and an appreciation of books is important to us. Our pirate travels through many different ecosystems along his way to find his peg. Our goal was to show children how water connects life around the world.”

Hertling, an award-winning painter and host of the PBS television show, Your Brush With Nature, painted more than fifty original oil paintings for the book.

“Adding a pirate to my usual nature-based scenes was a great challenge,” Heiner said. “I want this book to be something that children will love for the story, nature lovers will love for the nature, and artists will love for the art.”

The book is based on a song that authors Laura and Robert Sams wrote for a new educational movie about moving water called The Riddle in a Bottle.

“We recorded The Peg Leg Song first,” Laura Sams said, “and later realized that it would make a great story for a children’s book.”

Laura and Robert Sams are sister/brother wildlife filmmakers who directed Carl Sams’ and Stoick’s Lost in the Woods: The Movie, First Snow in the Woods: The Movie and Stranger in the Woods: The Movie. They have won dozens of awards, including the coveted Wild Screen Panda Award for Lost in the Woods: The Movie for best children’s wildlife film worldwide.

Publishers Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick are a husband/wife team known for their beautiful photography of North American animals, especially the white-tailed deer. Their photography was the inspiration to write and self-publish three award-winning children’s books: Stranger in the Woods, Lost in the Woods and First Snow in the Woods. All three books share gentle lessons about nature and intimate photographs of animals throughout the seasons.

A Pirate’s Quest is available for $19.95 at www.strangerinthewoods.com.

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