Oakland Press: Follow basic safety tips to help ensure a fun and safe Halloween

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Next weekend, our streets will be filled with goblins, ghouls, ghosts and all manner of other characters both scary and delightful, as young people of all ages celebrate Halloween. Halloween is a fun and exciting way for children to dress up, use their imaginations and receive some sweet treats in return.

However, with our streets filled with costumed children, it is important to use caution to keep our kids safe. With that in mind, I offer some tips to help ensure that your family has a safe and Happy Halloween.

First, small children should never go trick-or-treating by themselves. Make sure a responsible older sibling or adult is with young children at all times.

If older children go trick-or-treating without an adult, make sure they stick together as a group and only go to familiar neighborhoods. Tell children both young and old to stay in populated, well-lit areas and use a sidewalk if available.

Attach a glow stick or reflective tape to your children’s costumes to make them more visible to drivers, and always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

Trick-or-treaters should never enter a stranger’s home, and they should never consume unwrapped food items or open beverages if offered.

Consider serving your kids a filling meal before trick-or-treating so they won’t be tempted to eat candy before they bring it home for you to check. Once your children arrive home, have an adult thoroughly inspect all candy. (If the kids bring home an excessive amount of candy, consider donating the excess to one of several Oakland County locations — some even offer cash or prizes! Halloween Candy Buyback Metro Detroit 2015 offers more information.)

Because many store-bought masks restrict vision, cut large eye-holes in masks when necessary. Make sure costumes do not restrict movement.

Carving pumpkins can cause mild to serious injuries, so make sure you closely supervise your children when they partake in this fun activity. Likewise, if your child is carrying a prop (such as a toy pitchfork) make sure that the tips are smooth and flexible enough not to cause injury.

Finally, teach your kids basic everyday safety, such as not getting into cars or talking to strangers, and to look both ways before crossing streets.

Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Halloween Safety page online for more safety tips, and view the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents.

By following these safety precautions, we can help ensure a fun and safe holiday for our children.

Happy Halloween!

This op-ed first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Kowall celebrates Apple Crunch Day

LANSING, Mich. — State Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and his colleagues on Thursday stand at the Senate rostrum with Crimson Crisp Michigan apples as part of Michigan’s third annual Apple Crunch Day.

Apple Crunch Day, put on by Cherry Capital Foods in Traverse City, is part of a statewide celebration of Michigan’s apple industry, an important part of the state’s agriculture and economy.

Pictured, from left, are: Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake; Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City; Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive; and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

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Spinal Column: Kowall to introduce legislation allowing for digital driver’s licenses

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

One of my goals as a legislator is to do what I can to help make life a little easier for the hardworking men and women of the 15th Senate District and for Michiganders all across the state. One way to do this is to update the law to reflect the way modern technology has changed the way we live.

In some cases, my fellow lawmakers and I need to take action to help protect against threats from criminals who want to abuse technology for their benefit. I wrote about this in last month’s column, “Kowall measure to help protect against car-hacking.”

In other cases, we need to modernize the law to make way for new technology.

That is what I plan to do as I introduce legislation allowing for the possibility of digital driver’s licenses in Michigan.

A digital driver’s license would be just like a regular, plastic license — except it would reside on your mobile phone. Ultimately, digital licenses might replace plastic licenses altogether.

A digital driver’s license would include the same information as on a standard license, including the driver’s name; address and date of birth; and photo. The digital version also would include a barcode for machines to scan that information.

In addition, a digital license would include benefits that a standard license doesn’t have. In many ways, a digital license would be like another robust app on your phone. This type of technology isn’t new, of course. Already we have apps on our phones such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet that can replace our physical credit cards. This would be part of that larger trend.

These licenses would include special security features as well, including an additional layer of security. This might be a special PIN or fingerprint or facial recognition.

And a digital license could be updated more easily than a standard license, via a website or downloads directly from the secretary of state.

All of this makes for increased convenience and ease of use for Michigan drivers.

Of course, with any change in the application of a technology, concerns arise. What if a phone’s battery dies — and access to the license dies along with it? What if a mobile phone containing an unsecure license is stolen? What about bad mobile connections?

These are certainly issues to consider as we implement digital licenses. We will address these concerns. They won’t stop us from providing the best solutions for a better consumer experience.

This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Oakland Press: ‘Michigan Says Thanks’ event to honor Vietnam War era veterans and families

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Michigan’s Vietnam veterans, whether drafted or enlisted, served our country with honor. Tragically, too many returned home with little thanks for their service and not much help transitioning to civilian life. In October, we will spend some time thanking and honoring veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States.

The event, titled Michigan Says Thanks, will be held at noon on Thursday, October 8, on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. I encourage all interested Michiganders to attend.

Michigan Says Thanks will highlight the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and Vietnam War era families, and it will pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war.

A variety of vendor stations related to the Vietnam War era will be located on the north and south lawns of the Capitol. The following are some of the groups scheduled to attend:
•    The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA). An MVAA service officer will answer questions and make follow-up appointments regarding benefits such as disability compensation, pension, dependent indemnity compensation, and others.
•    The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Congress authorized the Commemoration to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families, highlight their service, and pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by ordinary U.S citizens during the war.
The Commemorative Team will be on hand with posters, a wartime map of Vietnam and other giveaways. Volunteers will pin Lapel Pins on veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, between November 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.
•    The Michigan War Dog Memorial (MWDM). The MWDM is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization operated and managed by a band of military veterans and K-9 supporters. The organization has come together to restore an abandoned pet cemetery in Lyon Township and convert it into a final resting place, with honors, for military dogs, police dogs and service dogs.
•    Kelly Marie Trudell. Kelly is a professional singer-songwriter who has been performing for more than 35 years. Her Father and eight of his 12 siblings have served our nation, including three who served tours in Vietnam. Kelly travels throughout the U.S. singing for wounded veterans. Kelly was awarded the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Service Award for her work with veterans, soldiers and their families.

More than nine million Americans served our country during the Vietnam War era. Michigan Says Thanks is focusing on the more than 237,000 Vietnam era Michiganders who reside here today. We can never fully repay those who served us, but we can say thank you at this event.

Visit www.MichiganSaysThanks.com for more information and to RSVP for the event.

This op-ed first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Kowall sponsors Capitol event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Thursday sponsored an event on the Capitol lawn honoring veterans of the Vietnam War era.

“Today’s ceremony was more than I hoped for,” Kowall, R-White Lake, said at the event. “Giving Vietnam veterans and their families due honor and respect was long overdue. The turnout was fantastic. May we continue to remember the sacrifice veterans and their families have made for us.”

The “Michigan Says Thanks” event highlighted the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of federal agencies and Vietnam War era families, and it paid tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war.

Twenty-five historical stations were displayed on the north and south lawns for event attendees to visit. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) hosted one of the historical stations. An MVAA service officer answered questions and made follow-up appointments regarding benefits such as disability compensation, pension, aid and attendance, and dependent indemnity compensation.

The major sponsors of the event were Vietnam Veterans of America Detroit Chapter 9, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Domino’s Pizza, and Breitung Township Traveling Memorial.

A lapel-pinning ceremony was held throughout the event. Volunteers from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration fastened lapel pins on veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

“The symbolism attached to the Vietnam veteran lapel pins is significant,” Kowall said. “The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

Kowall hosted a formal ceremony presentation from 12:30 to 1 p.m. to thank and honor Vietnam veterans. The presentation included:
•    Color guard and bagpipe procession;
•    National Anthem sung by Joanna Lauren;
•    Invocation by Larry Vollink, Veterans Affairs chaplain, Ann Arbor;
•    Guest Speaker: retired U.S. Army Capt. Jim Dunn, deputy director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency;
•    Vocal performance by Kelly Trudell;
•    Recognition of spouses of Vietnam veterans;
•    Wreath presentation by Daughters of the American Revolution;
•    Recognition of legislators who are veterans; and
•    Closing prayer honoring those we’ve lost since their return from Vietnam.

Many attendees were moved by the event.

“I joined Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 to make sure that what happened to the Vietnam veterans when they came home will never happen again,” said Vietnam Era Veteran Pablo Guzman. “As long as I’m around I will be doing this from my heart.”

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Kowall to attend check presentation to outreach center

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Friday announced that he will attend a check presentation on Friday, Oct. 16 for the Open Door Outreach Center in Waterford.

Open Door distributes emergency services to families experiencing personal or financial difficulties. AT&T Michigan is giving $4,500 to the organization.

Kowall congratulated both organizations for their efforts to ensure crisis funding, outreach programs and food resources to local residents.

“While Michigan has come back from its darkest economic days, we know there are still people that have yet to be touched by our state’s turnaround,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “Thanks to the AT&T/Open Door partnership, we know these individuals and families can access the services and support they need.”

When:
Friday, Oct. 16, 2015
11 a.m.

Where:
Open Door Outreach Services
7170 Cooley Lake Road
Waterford, MI 48327

Who:
Lori Doughty, AT&T regional director of external affairs
Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall
Karen L. Myers, executive director, Open Door
Program staff

Media Reminder: Kowall sponsoring Capitol event honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall reminded residents Thursday that he is sponsoring an event honoring veterans of the Vietnam War era on the Capitol lawn on Thursday, Oct. 8. Kowall encouraged his constituents and all interested Michiganders to attend.

“On behalf of the great state of Michigan, we are doing what should have been done decades ago: thanking and honoring our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “May it be a public ‘thank you’ and ‘welcome home’ for many who have waited too long to hear it.”

Kowall said the “Michigan Says Thanks” event will run from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8, on the lawn of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. Twenty-five historical stations will be displayed on the north and south lawns for event attendees to visit.

The major sponsors of the event are Vietnam Veterans of America Detroit Chapter 9, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Domino’s Pizza, and Breitung Township Traveling Memorial.

Michigan Says Thanks will highlight the service of the armed forces during the Vietnam War and the contributions of Vietnam War era families, and it will pay tribute to the contributions made on the home front by the people of the United States during the war.

A lapel-pinning ceremony will be held throughout the event. Volunteers from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration will fasten lapel pins on veterans who served during the Vietnam War era, between Nov. 1, 1955 and May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

“The symbolism attached to the Vietnam veteran lapel pins is significant,” Kowall said. “The Commemoration honors all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

Kowall will host a formal ceremony presentation from 12:30 to 1 p.m. to thank and honor Vietnam veterans. The presentation will include:
•    Color guard and bagpipe procession;
•    National Anthem sung by Joanna Lauren;
•    Invocation by Larry Vollink, Veterans Affairs chaplain, Ann Arbor;
•    Guest Speaker: retired U.S. Army Capt. Jim Dunn, deputy director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency;
•    Vocal performance by Kelly Trudell;
•    Recognition of spouses of Vietnam veterans;
•    Wreath presentation by Daughters of the American Revolution;
•    Recognition of legislators who are veterans; and
•    Closing prayer honoring those we’ve lost since their return from Vietnam.

Visit www.MichiganSaysThanks.com for more information and to RSVP for the event.

Note: Click the image for a print-quality version. This photo and others are also available by clicking the Photowire link under the Media Center tab, above.