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

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 on Saturday, May 21 — Armed Forces Day — in Pontiac 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 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at the Lafayette Grande in Pontiac.

In addition to the lapel-pinning ceremony conducted by Kowall, certificates of recognition will be presented by state Rep. Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills. Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, will also attend. The theme of the event will be to pay tribute and recognition for our Vietnam veterans.

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.

Kowall welcomes Troy minister to Capitol to give Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, welcomed the Rev. Lori Wagner of the Faith Apostolic Church of Troy to the Michigan Capitol on Thursday. Wagner gave the invocation before the start of the Senate session.

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

Kowall announces $4.99 million in collateral support for Novi business

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall announced that $4.99 million in loan collateral from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has been awarded to Michigan Custom Machines (MCM) of Novi.

The money will support $10 million in bank financing that will enable the company to complete work on large-scale machinery manufacturing for vehicles featuring nine- and 10-speed transmissions.

“Michigan Custom Machines is a leader in the design and build of custom test machines for automotive and industrial component manufacturers,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “This money is a boost for their continuing manufacturing efforts and for the city of Novi as well.”

MCM also offers customers expertise in turnkey component testing equipment for in-line and end-of-line production requirements as well as laboratory and research and development.

For more information about Michigan Custom Machines, visit www.michigancustommachines.com.

For more information about the Michigan Strategic Fund, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/michigan-strategic-fund-msf.

Oakland Press: No excuse not to get out and enjoy our great outdoors

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Warm weather has returned to Michigan, and with it comes renewed appreciation for all the ways we as Michiganders are fortunate to live in our great state.

Michigan is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. From the Great Lakes and our inland lakes; to our rivers and streams and thousands of miles of shoreline; to our sand dunes, forests, and wetlands — our great outdoors offer a spectacular array of opportunities for adventure.

Here are some amazing facts about our natural resources:

The Great Lakes are the largest surface freshwater system in the world, representing 90 percent of the United States surface freshwater supply. The five Great Lakes and their connecting waters hold six quadrillion gallons of water, enough to cover the entire United States with water over seven feet deep.

Michigan has 35,000 inland lakes and ponds, more than 49,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes coastline. Lake Michigan houses the largest concentration of freshwater sand dunes in the world. Michigan’s largest dunes reach 250 feet in height and up to one mile in width.

Our state contains more than 19.3 million acres of forests, made up of more than 75 different types of trees. The forests cover more than half the land area of the state and contain the fifth largest amount of timberland in the United States. Michigan’s forests are home to an abundance of plants and animals, including moose, bear, wolves, deer, and one of the rarest birds in the world, the Kirtland’s warbler.

Michigan’s numerous, beautiful wetlands serve important purposes, such as flood control and water purification. They also protect shorelines and lakeshore homes and businesses from erosion caused by storms and waves, and they help prevent flash flooding by acting like sponges and temporarily absorbing water during rainstorms before it reaches lakes and rivers.

Several popular destinations offer numerous ways to enjoy these resources. These include Traverse City, Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula up north, as well as Holland, Grand Haven and Saugatuck to the west.

But you don’t have to travel that far to get outside and enjoy Pure Michigan. Plenty of outdoor activities are in our backyard right here in Oakland County.

Popular (and some less well known) activities include:

•    Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting game in which participants use GPS-enabled devices to find a hidden object following GPS coordinates posted on a website. In Oakland County, Geocaching hunters are exploring beautiful woodlands and downtown areas alike. A caching adventure can last from an hour to a full day.
•    Mushroom hunting. Oakland County Park offers wonderful opportunities to hunt mushrooms. Certain guidelines are to be followed, and you must always be careful not to pick poisonous mushrooms. Guidelines are posted at the website shown below.
•    Horseback riding. Equestrian trails are available at Addison Oaks, Highland Oaks and Rose Oaks county parks.
•    Nature education. Red Oaks Nature Center in Madison Heights and Wint Nature Center in Clarkston offer nature exhibits and programs year-round. Oakland County Parks and Recreation works cooperatively with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Huron-Clinton Metroparks in the area of nature education.

Other ways to enjoy outdoor Oakland include boating, canoeing and kayaking, camping, fishing, golfing, and hiking.

For more information on all of these activities and more, visit www.destinationoakland.com and click on “Things to Do.”

There really is no excuse: The state of Michigan and Oakland County in particular offer a bounty of outdoor activities to make everyone happy. Now that spring has returned, let’s get out and enjoy Pure Michigan.

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.

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

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 sponsored by the Detroit VA Healthcare System on Saturday, May 21 — Armed Forces Day — in Detroit 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 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, at Cass Park in Detroit. The formal lapel-pinning ceremony will be held across the street on the steps of the historic Masonic Temple.

Kowall will speak at the event, and Veteran Service Officers will be on hand to answer questions and conduct on-site registration. In addition, Kelly Trudell will perform a special tribute song, the “Sound of Hope.”

The event will include the American Legion Riders and Rolling Thunder Motorcycle procession. Kowall said that all veteran motorcycles are welcome.

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.

“We appreciate the commitment by Senator Kowall as he joins us to honor our heroes,” said Bill Browning, chief, Volunteer and Community Relations at the Detroit VA Healthcare System and lead coordinator for the event. “This is another way we say ‘thank you’ to those men and women for their service to our country.”

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.

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 caption: Members of the Vietnam Era Veteran Planning Committee at Cass Park in Detroit. Pictured, from left: Steve Genther, Masonic Temple manager; Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake; Bob McDonald, Foundation for American Veterans; Dick Chatman, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 9; Tyrone Chatman, Veterans Foundation of Michigan; Paul Palazzolo, VVA Chapter 9; Phil Smith, Marine Corps League (kneeling); Mike Sand, VVA Chapter 9; Lynn O’Brien, district director, Office of Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall; Ed Tuggle, VVA Chapter 9; Detroit VA Healthcare System Volunteer and Community Relations Chief William R. Browning; Don Gore, GM Veterans Affinity Group; Ray Williams, Veterans Foundation of Michigan. Not pictured: George Adams, VVA Chapter 9.

Spinal Column: Warmer weather, orange barrels signal road construction season

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

We are now several weeks into spring, the ground is beginning to thaw, and the spring and summer construction season is gearing up. You may have already begun to notice the accumulation of orange barrels lining Michigan’s roadways.

There are several construction projects scheduled in and around the 15th Senate District. For a map and description of projects in the area, please visit www.michigan.gov/mdot, select the “Travel” tab and click “Major Road Projects.” From there, you will find a PDF document of the 2016 road construction projects about halfway down the page.

Mi Drive, an interactive map put out by the Michigan Department of Transportation, displays current projects, accidents, and driving conditions in real time. Before scheduling any trips this spring or summer, you may want to use this tool to avoid any unwanted holdups. Mi Drive can be found at www.michigan.gov/drive.

It is important to remember during this time of year to drive safely through construction zones. Driving cautiously and carefully paying attention are critically important to individuals on both sides of the barrels.

Your risk of becoming involved in an accident when driving in a construction zone is increased due to many factors — the lanes often are narrower, traffic patterns may be different than usual, and construction vehicles and workers are continuously entering and exiting the roadway. All this activity can be a distraction.

Thousands of people across the United States die each year from traffic accidents in construction zones, and hundreds of thousands more are injured. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, rear-end accidents are the most common type of accidents in construction zones. This is largely due to the fluctuating speeds, or lower-than-usual speeds in the area.

Remember to remain vigilant and watch for warning signs to alert you as to what may lie ahead. This is not only for your safety but for the safety of others as well. Equally important is to remain distraction free while driving, specifically in areas where road work is underway.

I think we are all ready to see our roads improve. For this to happen, those who build and maintain the roads must be allowed to safely do their jobs. Next time you’re traveling on a highway or city street under construction, remember: Maintain awareness, drive slowly and get yourself and your family home safely. People working on the roads are our neighbors and friends, so please drive carefully when approaching construction areas.

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.