Spinal Column: May we count our many blessings this Thanksgiving

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

On Sept. 6, 1620, a group of more than 130 hardy souls departed in the ship the Mayflower from Plymouth, England, headed across the Atlantic for the mouth of the Hudson River in New York, seeking a home where they could worship freely.

After a harrowing two months at sea, the Pilgrims landed on Nov. 9 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, more than 250 miles northeast of their original destination.

About half of the Pilgrims survived the first brutal winter in Massachusetts. After being befriended in the spring by Native Americans who taught them to survive in their new land, the Pilgrims enjoyed a successful harvest in the fall.

In November of 1621, the Pilgrims and their Native American friends gave thanks for their good fortune and celebrated with a three-day feast, now considered American’s first Thanksgiving.

Nearly 400 years later, although our circumstances as Americans are drastically different from those of the Pilgrims, we enjoy our own abundant blessings for which we give thanks.

We live in the greatest and freest nation in the history of the world. The Pilgrims pursued religious freedom; today Americans enjoy the fruit of that pursuit, along with the freedoms of speech and the press and other rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Closer to home, we are enjoying a substantial economic boon and remarkable recovery from Michigan’s Lost Decade.

While we should be grateful for our material blessings, it is most important to remember what is of the greatest worth: our creator, our family, and our friends.

As the Pilgrims knew, without the blessings of God, we are without hope. It is right and good to give thanks to him at Thanksgiving.

It is also good to thank God for our friends and family. I hope that you, like me, have many wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past spent around the dinner table with those closest to you.

Thanksgiving when I was a boy included days of cooking and baking and other holiday preparations. My aunt was famous for her pumpkin pies; Mom was famous for her homemade whipped cream.

On Thanksgiving morning, the family would be up early and head to the Detroit Parade. On the way home, we would stop for hot Vernors or hot chocolate.

I am grateful for such memories.

This Thanksgiving, make your own memories. Spend some extra time in meaningful conversation with those who mean the most to you. Let them know that you care about them, and that you are thankful for having them in your life.

I am thankful for my own wonderful family and friends, and I am thankful for the constituents of the 15th Senate District.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

This column 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: May we count our many blessings this Thanksgiving

On Sept. 6, 1620, a group of more than 130 hardy souls departed in the ship the Mayflower from Plymouth, England, headed across the Atlantic for the mouth of the Hudson River in New York, seeking a home where they could worship freely.

After a harrowing two months at sea, the Pilgrims landed on Nov. 9 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, more than 250 miles northeast of their original destination.

About half of the Pilgrims survived the first brutal winter in Massachusetts. After being befriended in the spring by Native Americans who taught them to survive in their new land, the Pilgrims enjoyed a successful harvest in the fall.

In November of 1621, the Pilgrims and their Native American friends gave thanks for their good fortune and celebrated with a three-day feast, now considered American’s first Thanksgiving.

Nearly 400 years later, although our circumstances as Americans are drastically different from those of the Pilgrims, we enjoy our own abundant blessings for which we give thanks.

We live in the greatest and freest nation in the history of the world. The Pilgrims pursued religious freedom; today Americans enjoy the fruit of that pursuit, along with the freedoms of speech and the press and other rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Closer to home, we are enjoying a substantial economic boon and remarkable recovery from Michigan’s Lost Decade.

While we should be grateful for our material blessings, it is most important to remember what is of the greatest worth: our creator, our family, and our friends.

As the Pilgrims knew, without the blessings of God, we are without hope. It is right and good to give thanks to him at Thanksgiving.

It is also good to thank God for our friends and family. I hope that you, like me, have many wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past spent around the dinner table with those closest to you.

Thanksgiving when I was a boy included days of cooking and baking and other holiday preparations. My aunt was famous for her pumpkin pies; Mom was famous for her homemade whipped cream.

On Thanksgiving morning, the family would be up early and head to the Detroit Parade. On the way home, we would stop for hot Vernors or hot chocolate.

I am grateful for such memories.

This Thanksgiving, make your own memories. Spend some extra time in meaningful conversation with those who mean the most to you. Let them know that you care about them, and that you are thankful for having them in your life.

I am thankful for my own wonderful family and friends, and I am thankful for the constituents of the 15th Senate District.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

This column 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 calls for restoration and preservation of Michigan War Veterans Memorial

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall said on Friday that due to rapid deterioration and the sale of historic State Fairgrounds property, the Michigan War Veterans Memorial in Detroit must be relocated and restored as soon as possible to save the monument.

Kowall said a group of concerned citizens has joined together and is in ongoing discussions with a variety of nonprofit organizations interested in assisting with the relocation and funding of the memorial.

“The Michigan War Veterans Memorial is a noble tribute honoring Michigan’s military veterans,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “We want to restore this important monument to honor the history of the veterans who built it and preserve it for years to come”

The memorial represents more than 300 veteran service organizations from Michigan and Canada. The vast majority of veterans represented served in World War I, with others serving in wars through the Vietnam War era. The memorial has resided on the corner of Woodward Avenue and East State Fair Avenue since its unveiling on Veterans Day in 1939. Decades of exposure to the elements, coupled with more recent vandalism, have brought decay.

The restoration will include landscaping the new location for the memorial, restoration of the existing monument, maintenance of the monument once it is erected, and ongoing improvements.

“Discussions have been ongoing with the state to determine an appropriate location for the monument to be relocated,” Kowall said. “The Department of Natural Resources is currently developing a master plan for Milliken State Park that will include a proposed location for the memorial.”

Kowall said a booth is planned for Vets Fest at the Detroit Veterans Day Parade and will include renderings of the potential restored monument site.

“The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs as well as the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency are proud to assist this effort and want to thank Senator Kowall for his leadership with this project and thank all of the partners that are committing their own time and resources to preserve this important monument,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Stone, Michigan Army National Guard assistant adjutant general.

Donations for the project can be made through Heritage Michigan at www.heritagemichigan.org. Any donations should be marked “vets.” Heritage Michigan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that partners with state agencies, organizations and individual donors to protect, preserve and promote Michigan’s rich and diverse history.

The Veterans Memorial currently resides on the Michigan State Fairgrounds property. The site hosted the Michigan State Fair from 1905 until 2009. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing the transfer of the site to the Michigan Land Bank to return the site to productive use. The Michigan Land Bank has executed purchase agreements with the city of Detroit and Magic Plus, LLC to redevelop the historic 157-acre property in Detroit. The Michigan State Fairgrounds site is one of the largest developable parcels of land in the city and represents an opportunity to create economic growth and continued community development.

The more than 300 veteran service organizations from Michigan and Canada represented in the monument include (but are not limited to) the American Legion, American Veterans, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Polish League of American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

For questions, inquiries or referrals, please contact Kowall’s Director of District & Veteran Affairs Lynn O’Brien at 248-245-9755.

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Kowall congratulates area districts receiving Competitive School Safety grants

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Thursday congratulated three school districts on being awarded funds from the state’s Competitive School Safety Grant Program.

“The safety of our schoolchildren must be at the top of our concerns,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “These grants will help these schools provide a safe learning environment for their students.”

The districts awarded grants are:
• FlexTech High School, Novi — $14,984
• Jean and Samuel Frankel Jewish Academy, West Bloomfield — $21,784
• South Lyon Community Schools — $195,975

The Legislature dedicated $25 million within the state budget to provide grants to improve the safety and security of school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment and through school building safety assessments.

For more information, visit the Michigan State Police’s Grants and Community Service Division website at www.michigan.gov/cjgrants and click the School Safety link.

Oakland Press: October campaign brings breast cancer awareness, education

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

For women in Michigan, breast cancer is the most common newly diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

In the United States, about one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lives, and this year, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed, along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

As these numbers indicate, this dreadful disease is too common; nearly all of us in our lifetime will know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

That is why here in the state and across the nation, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness and educate women regarding the disease.

An important tool in the fight is medical screening. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, breast cancer risk increases with age, and studies have shown that older women tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer more than younger women. When it comes to when to start screening and how often to screen, however, many experts say there is no one answer that suits all women, and national organizations have different recommendations.

Women over the age of 40 need to discuss screening with their health provider, including a discussion of their personal and family history. This will help providers assess the risk for developing breast cancer and to make screening recommendations based on the woman’s individual risk.

Factors that put women at a higher-than-average risk for breast cancer include:
• Increasing age;
• Personal history of breast cancer;
• Family history of breast cancer;
• Specific genetic mutations;
• Dense breast tissue;
• Never giving birth or having first pregnancy after age 30; and
• Starting menstruation at a young age.

With these factors in mind, it is vital for all women to know that early detection of breast cancer increases the effectiveness of available treatments.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides a free guide and checklist to detect breast cancer symptoms. Visit www.NationalBreastCancer.org/Breast-Cancer-Awareness-Month to download the guide and to learn more about the disease.

Also check out the Donate link at the site. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your donation will help provide a mammogram to a woman in need.

Despite the sobering statistics, there is some good news. Death rates from the disease have decreased over time because of heightened awareness that’s led to increased screening and improved treatment options. And the number of breast cancer deaths and new diagnoses of breast cancer in Michigan are in decline.

This should encourage us all. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, may we continue to educate ourselves and others, support family and friends in the fight, and take the necessary steps as we work to eradicate this terrible disease.

This column 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.

Spinal Column: October campaign brings breast cancer awareness, education

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

For women in Michigan, breast cancer is the most common newly diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

In the United States, about one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lives, and this year, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed, along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

As these numbers indicate, this dreadful disease is too common; nearly all of us in our lifetime will know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

That is why here in the state and across the nation, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness and educate women regarding the disease.

An important tool in the fight is medical screening. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, breast cancer risk increases with age, and studies have shown that older women tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer more than younger women. When it comes to when to start screening and how often to screen, however, many experts say there is no one answer that suits all women, and national organizations have different recommendations.

Women over the age of 40 need to discuss screening with their health provider, including a discussion of their personal and family history. This will help providers assess the risk for developing breast cancer and to make screening recommendations based on the woman’s individual risk.

Factors that put women at a higher-than-average risk for breast cancer include:
• Increasing age;
• Personal history of breast cancer;
• Family history of breast cancer;
• Specific genetic mutations;
• Dense breast tissue;
• Never giving birth or having first pregnancy after age 30; and
• Starting menstruation at a young age.

With these factors in mind, it is vital for all women to know that early detection of breast cancer increases the effectiveness of available treatments.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides a free guide and checklist to detect breast cancer symptoms. Visit www.NationalBreastCancer.org/Breast-Cancer-Awareness-Month to download the guide and to learn more about the disease.

Also check out the Donate link at the site. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your donation will help provide a mammogram to a woman in need.

Despite the sobering statistics, there is some good news. Death rates from the disease have decreased over time because of heightened awareness that’s led to increased screening and improved treatment options. And the number of breast cancer deaths and new diagnoses of breast cancer in Michigan are in decline.

This should encourage us all. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, may we continue to educate ourselves and others, support family and friends in the fight, and take the necessary steps as we work to eradicate this terrible disease.

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.

Reminder: Holly event on Saturday to honor Vietnam era veterans

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, in conjunction with the Holly Moose Lodge 1168, the Agent Orange Justice Association, and special guest Congressman Mike Bishop, reminded residents on Wednesday that a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony will be held this Saturday, Oct. 20 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, said the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Holly will give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. He encourages all interested residents and veterans to join his representative at the event, Director of District and Veteran Affairs Lynn O’Brien, in paying tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

The senator said the event, made possible by the Holly Moose Lodge 1168, the Agent Orange Justice Association and the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Holly Moose Lodge 1168, 210 S. Broad St., Holly.

Contact Gregory Nealis at waynewn6@gmail.com or 248-904-3500 with any questions.

O’Brien will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.

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

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall and the Holly Moose Lodge 1168, in conjunction with the Agent Orange Justice Association, on Tuesday announced that a formal Vietnam veteran lapel pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the war.

Kowall, R-White Lake, said the “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Event to Thank and Honor Vietnam Veterans and Their Families” in Holly will give long-overdue recognition to Vietnam War era veterans and their families. He encourages all interested residents and veterans to join his representative at the event, Director of District and Veteran Affairs Lynn O’Brien, in paying tribute to the men and women who were too often forgotten when they returned home.

The event, made possible in part by the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Holly Moose Lodge 1168, 210 S. Broad St., Holly.

Kowall said to contact Gregory Nealis at waynewn6@gmail.com or 248-904-3500 with any questions.

O’Brien will provide a Vietnam War Commemorative Lapel Pin to U.S. veterans who served on active duty at any time from Nov. 1, 1955 – May 15, 1975, regardless of location.

Kowall encourages members of all wars/conflicts to attend in support of the Vietnam Veterans receiving a lapel pin. The symbolism attached to the lapel pin 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.”

U.S. Army and Vietnam veteran Joe Mishler will be the master of ceremonies and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5587 Color Guard will post the colors. The guest speaker will be Lori Weber, member of the Children of Vietnam Veteran Health Alliance.

In addition, Joanna Lauren, daughter of a Vietnam era veteran, will perform the national anthem and lead attendees in a God Bless America singalong; entertainment will be provided by Michibillys Band; and the Holly Moose Lodge will provide a light lunch for attendees.

The Commemoration was authorized by Congress and established under the secretary of defense, and then formally launched in 2012. It was designed to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families in hometown America, in light of the 50th anniversary of the war. Recognition is given to these heroes when commemorative partners, such as Kowall, hold events for the veterans and their families.

“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,” Kowall said. “This ceremony is a way to recognize 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 has held numerous events, in both Lansing and throughout the state. The ceremonies are held in a variety of locations, including VFW/American Legion posts, veteran memorial parks and banquet halls. Kowall often partners with the senator of the district where the event is being held.

Information regarding the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration can be found at www.vietnamwar50th.com.

Oakland Press: Autumn in Michigan showcases state’s stunning natural beauty

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

There’s a crispness in the air, the leaves are starting to turn brilliant colors, and you’ve retrieved your sweaters from storage.

Yes, autumn has arrived in Michigan.

The end of summer and the beginning of fall bring unique delights to Michiganders.

These include fall color tours along one of the state’s scenic byways, biking or hiking through the great outdoors, and plenty more.

Fortunately, for those looking for ways to enjoy the spectacular Michigan autumn, there are many resources to guide you.

You can visit www.michigan.org for help planning a trip to several locations in the state, from Copper Harbor at the tip of the Upper Peninsula; down to 200 miles of beach towns along Lake Michigan, starting at St. Joseph and Benton Harbor in Southwest Michigan; and plenty of locations in between.

The site includes details on places to stay, restaurants, and upcoming events, as well as a link to the 2018 Pure Michigan Fall Travel Guide, a superb travel publication highlighting spectacular sights to see and exciting places to go. The guide features articles on fall color drives, hiking adventures, family getaways, golfing, top-rated mountain bike trails and the state’s apple season.

The guide also features comprehensive information on our state parks, including details on amenities, campsites and available activities at each location.

Residents can download a free, universally accessible digital version of the guide or order a printed copy at www.michigan.org/travel-guide.

Travelers can access the interactive guide from their desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets.

Michiganders are 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.

In the fall, our state’s stunning natural beauty is magnified. This season, get out and enjoy Pure Michigan at its best!

This column 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 presents certificates to State Fair scholarship winners

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, (center, red tie) and Rep. Jim Runestad R-White Lake (center, red-and-white tie) on Thursday presented certificates of appreciation to Michigan State Fair Urban and Rural Youth Scholarship winners.

Judging for the scholarships ran during the Michigan State Fair throughout Labor Day week. The certificates of appreciation were signed by Kowall, state Rep. Kathy Crawford, Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

The Michigan State Fair Urban and Rural Scholarship recognizes young people who are making a difference in cities, towns and villages by clearing, planting and harvesting garden space for their families and neighborhoods. More than 60 participants received scholarships this year.

The original Michigan State Fair debuted in Detroit in 1849 and was one of the first statewide fair events to take place in the country. It moved to its permanent home at the fairgrounds on Woodward Avenue in 1905 and was staged there until 2009, when it was discontinued due to ongoing budget issues.

In 2012, Blair Bowman brought back the Michigan State Fair, this time to Novi. Ram Truck is the major sponsor.

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