Oakland Press: Safety guidelines and life jackets can prevent some tragedies

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Michiganders know how to make the most of our state’s long winters. Despite the sometimes bone-chilling temperatures, we love to get outside and enjoy our state’s incredible beauty.

Some of us like to take hikes through the woods. Some are a little more adventurous and take to snowmobiling, downhill skiing, or cross-country skiing. Some of us get out on the ice and skate or fish.

Our recent harsh winters have extended the winter recreation season. This has been especially true for ice activities, as more lakes and greater portions of the Great Lakes have frozen over, and for longer periods.

This past winter has been an exception. It was a milder winter with less freezing. Recent warmer temps have brought relief for many of us looking forward to spring.

But warmer temperatures can also bring danger to those enjoying the great outdoors in the winter.

We were reminded of this sobering reality yet again when an Oakland County father and his four-year-old son died in early February after falling through ice while fishing on a small lake northwest of Detroit.

Tragedies like these deaths should never happen. We should enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty during all seasons, but we must do so with caution.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds us that ice strength can’t be determined by its look, thickness, the temperature or whether the ice is covered with snow. And when the temperatures start to rise, ice also can thaw during the day and refreeze at night, making the ice weak and unsafe.

The DNR has provided ice safety tips for our excursions onto frozen waters. These include:

•    Ice conditions vary from lake to lake. Find a good local source — a bait shop or fishing guide — that is knowledgeable about ice conditions on the lake you want to fish on.
•    Purchase a pair of ice picks or ice claws, which are available at most sporting goods stores.
•    Tell a responsible adult where you are going and what time to expect you back. Relaying your plan can help save your life if something does happen to you on the ice.
•    Clear ice that has a bluish tint is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, and is very porous and weak.
•    Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice.
•    If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom.
•    Wear a life jacket and bright colored clothing.

These are just some of the many tips the DNR offers. For more ice safety tips, visit their website. Since the next several weeks could bring sub-freezing temperatures and refreezing waters, it is important to keep this information in mind.

The final tip listed above is of particular importance to me. It should go without saying that when venturing out on the ice, one should wear a life jacket.

In Michigan, we require children under the age of six to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when riding in the open area of a boat. In addition, anyone being towed in the water behind a boat must wear a PFD, and everyone is required to wear one when riding, driving or being towed behind a personal watercraft.

But there are no similar requirements for those venturing out on the ice. Legislation will be introduced in the Michigan Senate that will correct this oversight. The bill will be similar to PDF requirements for boating.

The four-year-old Oakland County boy and his father were not wearing PFDs when they broke through the ice in February. Requiring the wearing of PFDs on ice could help prevent similar tragedies.

This column 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 announces $1.4 million business development grant

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall announced that $1.4 million in grant money from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has been awarded to Stoneridge, Inc., which plans to relocate from Warren, Ohio to the city of Novi.

The money will support the creation of at least 70 highly paid jobs and provide flexibility for up to 70 additional new jobs to support the company’s future growth needs and total capital investment of more than $5.1 million.

“This is wonderful news not only for Stoneridge, Inc., but for the city of Novi as well,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “The company is moving here to further bolster its access to customers, decision makers and development activities in the automotive technology market segment. I welcome Stoneridge to Oakland County.”

Kowall said Michigan was chosen over competing sites due to its distinct advantage of being the automotive center with access to customers, engineering capabilities and talent.

Stoneridge, Inc. is a global designer and manufacturer of highly engineered electrical and electronic components, modules and systems for the commercial vehicle, automotive, off-highway and agriculture vehicle markets. The company has experienced significant growth and continues to expand into more diverse product lines and geographic markets.

For more information on Stoneridge, Inc., including career opportunities, visit www.Stoneridge.com.

Sens. Kowall and Zorn announce April events honoring Vietnam era veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday announced that they are sponsoring two Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremonies on Monday, April 11 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the Vietnam War.

The senators are encouraging their constituents and all interested Michiganders to attend.

“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,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “This lapel-pinning ceremony is a way to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

The events, made possible by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at the following times and locations:

Monday, April 11
11 a.m.
VFW Post 9656
4120 Piehl Road
Lambertville, MI 48144

Monday, April 11
2 p.m.
VFW Post 1138
400 Jones Ave.
Monroe, MI 48161

The symbolism attached to the Commemoration’s 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,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

In addition to the lapel pin, Vietnam era veterans will be provided with a poster for their branch of service and “A Grateful Nation Thanks You” bumper sticker.

Kowall and other senators have held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are often held in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall or American Legion post. Kowall partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

“I want to thank Senator Kowall for leading this effort,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “It has been an honor throughout my career to work and participate with our vets, especially on the Vietnam Veterans Museum and the Memorial Park projects. I look forward to celebrating the service of our Vietnam veterans.”

A special part of the lapel-pinning ceremonies is when the veterans gather for a group photo and indicate their name, branch of service, and dates served.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

Sen. Kowall celebrates March is Reading Month with children in the district

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall has been celebrating March is Reading Month by reading to elementary school children throughout the 15th Senate District, including stops in Farmington Hills, Keego Harbor and Novi. Here he reads to Mrs. Janice Canady’s class at Novi Woods Elementary.

In recognition of March is Reading Month, schools, libraries and families across the nation are encouraging children to pick up a book and read.

“Reading has been shown to be vital to success in early schooling and later education. It lays the foundation for a rewarding future,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “It has been great fun reading to kids in the district and helping them develop habits that will reap rewards throughout their lives.”

Note: For a print-quality version of this and other photos of Kowall reading to children in the district, click the image or click Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Save the Date: Kowall announces May event honoring Vietnam era veterans

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Thursday asked interested parties to save the date for a Vietnam veteran lapel-pinning ceremony he is sponsoring on Monday, May 23 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Kowall is encouraging his constituents and all interested Michiganders to attend.

“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,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “This lapel-pinning ceremony is a way to thank and honor veterans of the Vietnam War era and their families for their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation and the Michigan Legislature.”

Kowall said the event, made possible by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 23, at the Salem-South Lyon District Library, 9800 Pontiac Trail in South Lyon.

The symbolism attached to the Commemoration’s 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,” he said. “All were called to serve and the overwhelming majority of these veterans served honorably and admirably.”

In addition to the lapel pin, Vietnam era veterans will be provided with a poster for their branch of service and “A Grateful Nation Thanks You” bumper sticker.

Kowall has held numerous lapel-pinning ceremonies, both in Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are often held in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall or American Legion post. Kowall partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

A special part of the lapel-pinning ceremonies is when the veterans gather for a group photo and indicate their name, branch of service, and dates served.

“It is always a moving time for me when I am able to present the lapel pins and personally thank each veteran for their service,” Kowall said.

Spinal Column: March is the time to instill strong reading habits, love of learning

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

March is Reading Month, here in Michigan and across the nation. That means parents, children, teachers and students will celebrate reading and work together to develop strong reading habits in our children.

Reading has been shown to be vital to success in early schooling and later education. It lays the foundation for a rewarding future. Learning to read at a young age increases a student’s ability to remember facts, comprehend information and be successful in both school and a career.

Unfortunately, about one in six children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers. Encouraging students to read and teaching the basics of language is a vital step on the path to a brighter Michigan future.

In addition, reading expands the imaginations of both children and adults. It teaches us to question the status quo and envision a better life. A lifelong love of reading is essential for a balanced and successful life, and fostering this love in students at a young age leads to greater achievements at all levels of their education.

In recognition of March is Reading Month, schools, libraries and families are encouraging children to pick up a book and read.

I extend a heartfelt thank you to teachers, parents and young readers throughout Michigan for their work this month to develop better reading skills. May we all become more consistent and active readers.

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.

Photo Advisory: Kowall honors Novi High School champions

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, (front left) and Rep. Kathy Crawford, R-Novi, (center) welcomed the Novi High School 2015 Michigan state champion girls volleyball and boys tennis teams to the Senate floor on Wednesday.

“It was a pleasure to join with the families of these young champions, the entire school, and all of Novi in celebrating the achievements of the Novi High School girls volleyball team and boys tennis team on their wonderful success over the season,” Kowall said.

“With the fine records these squads have attained, culminating in state championships, this group of disciplined student-athletes has generated great pride throughout this part of our state.”

Joining Kowall, Crawford and the two teams were Volleyball Coach Jen Cottrill, Tennis Coach Dan Lowes, Superintendent Steve Mathews, Athletic Director Brian Gordon, Novi School Board President George Kortlandt, School Board Treasurer Dennis O’Connor, and Novi High School Principal Nicole Carter.

Note: For a print-quality version of this and other Kowall photos, click the image or click Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Photo Advisory: Kowall presents lapel pins to Vietnam veterans

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, (right) and Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, (left) welcomed to Kowall’s Capitol office Vietnam veteran Jerry Sabulej of the United States Marine Corps. Kowall presented a Vietnam veteran lapel pin to Sabulej and other veterans on Tuesday.

The symbolism attached to the Vietnam veteran lapel pins is significant. The pins honor all Vietnam veterans, whether they served in-country, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period.

Note: For a print-quality version of this and other Kowall photos of Tuesday’s ceremony, click the image or click Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.