Out and About – Week of April 14th

April 15, 2014 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

Today, April 15th, is tax day. You have until midnight tonight to get your tax return to the post office. Congratulations to those who filed early, and have already deposited their returns in the bank.

For Christians, this is a very special week. Next Friday is Good Friday, and next Sunday we celebrate Easter. In celebration of this special season, the First United Methodist Church of Three Rivers will once again host their Annual Lenten Breakfast this Thursday, April 17, at 10 AM. Special music will be provided by Ms. Carolyn Cook, and the speaker will be Ken Nelson. To make your reservations, please phone 269-244-0755 or 269-279-5515.

In last week’s column, I gave a hint about the upcoming “Save The Frogs!” activities that are coming up starting this month. Last year was the first year we were made aware of the importance of preserving these cute little creatures. Because of the way this activity and cause was received, it looks as though this will continue to be an annual event.

I’m all for the preservation of all living things. Well, maybe not mosquitoes or flies, as they can really live up to their reputation of being pests. Frogs help to curtail the population of these little annoyances, so I’m all for frogs, toads, and bats. Maybe not so much the bats.

Anyway, “Two hundred species of frogs have become extinct in the wild in the past thirty years,”my buddy Vic reports, “and this is a very unnatural occurrence that demands our attention.”

Coming up in May, the “Save The Frogs!” committee will have a booth at Lawless Park, over in Cass County. The park is located on Monkey Run Street, in Vandalia. The event, which takes place on Mother’s Day, is a concert and tribute to Mother Earth. Everyone is invited to stop by for information and activities for the kids. This all begins at 2 PM. For more information, visit their website at

This month, I am happy to celebrate eight years of doing this column. It doesn’t seem that long at all. The column has changed a little over the years, but my love of doing it hasn’t changed. It seems that there is always something happening and worth writing about right here in Three Rivers.

I’d like to thank Elena and her staff at the Commercial-News for publishing my thoughts and happenings, my editing wife, who makes sure that the commas are in the proper places, and most of all, I’d like to thank you readers. Your words of encouragement help keep my imagination and love of writing active. I appreciate each and every one of you.

The summer travel season will soon be upon us. If you’re planning to leave “Pure Michigan” for destinations unknown, and are thinking of flying, you should be aware of the fact that Consolidators buy tickets from airlines in bulk and resell them at prices generally way below published fares. These tickets are for regular flights on major airlines. It might be advisable to check a Sunday newspaper’s travel section. You might be surprised as to what you’ll find.

Another thing worth thinking about would be group airfares. If you put together at least ten travelers, you may save on the bigger airlines. You’d want to check with tour operators and various cruise lines about group deals. If you have too much money, just forget about this idea.

I’d like to end this week’s column on a lighter note. Here are three things you might not know:

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs but, not downstairs.

Pearls dissolve in vinegar. (I wonder if Glenn Miller knew this)

Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of April 7th

April 8, 2014 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

It’s getting down to “Crunch Time”. A week from today is April 15, and the tax man is saddling up and getting ready to ride. Hopefully, most of you have already filed your returns and can sleep easy, knowing that the big refund check will soon be in your savings or checking account. As my accounting professor used to say, “Prepare for a rendezvous with destiny.” This is what the rest of you must do, and you only have a week to do so.

Time sure does pass quickly. It seems as if it were only a month or two ago, that we were concentrating on the preservation of frogs, but it has been almost a year since we last heard the proclamation to “Save the Frogs!”

Last year, the “Save the Frogs!” day event brought an estimated 350 people to Scidmore Park, here in Three Rivers, for games and education about what needs to be done to aid the situation. This year the events will be spread over several months. Another opportunity and more time to become educated on a very important topic, and we can all help with this worthy cause.

Beginning early this month, the popular “Find the Frog” contest will again be hosted by some of the Three Rivers merchants. These merchants will hide a small foam board picture of a frog among their merchandise. Customers who find the frog picture, may then register in that store for a later drawing for a prize offered by that store. The great thing about this is that visitors of all ages may register for a prize at all participating stores. Next week, I’ll let you know the plans for May, June and July.

The Three Rivers Lions Club will solicit donations for their annual White Cane Days on Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3. Plans for this campaign are still not firm, but they are likely to be at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Hardings Market. Lions will be onsite from 9 AM until 5 PM on both days. Donations received from this fundraiser go toward providing eyeglasses for those local individuals in need.

About a year ago, my wife had neck surgery. It was during her time of recovery that I started accompanying her to the grocery store. We really enjoyed this weekly event, and I became aware of her skills as a shopper. She carries a clipboard with a list of needed items and where they are located at each store She is very organized, and I have the highest respect for her shopping skills.

On these trips, she allows me to be in charge of the shopping cart, and she allows me to reach for those items on the higher shelves. I am also the one who places the items on the conveyor belt at the checkout lane. We rarely use the self-checkout, because by doing so, we feel that we are taking the work away from a human who needs the job. Anyway, I always place the items on the belt, so that the cashier can place the items in our canvas shopping bags as s/he scans each item. This way, all the heavy items don’t end up in the same bag. Lately, I’ve had to monitor this more closely, because the cashier has been bagging the items differently than the order placed on the belt. I thought that I was helping out, but evidently I was wrong. I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this same problem. It is my task to carry our groceries into the house and, since my block and tackle is out of service, I prefer to have the bags of groceries weigh less than thirty pounds each. I won’t even mention the cost of groceries these days. My mom used to buy for a family of four for around $50.

Keeping in time with this religious holiday season, the Three Rivers Church of the Nazarene invites everyone to their “Living Last Supper”. This event takes place Palm Sunday evening, April 13, at 6 PM. The church is located at 1221 Coon Hollow Road, on the west side of Three Rivers, just off US-131. The presentation is FREE.

We are in Spring Break this week. It’s a great time to celebrate family and do things together. Students, enjoy the time off and get your batteries recharged. Parents, relax; Spring Break only lasts a week, so make time to give your children a hug or two and let them know that they are loved.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of March 31st

April 2, 2014 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

If you haven’t already heard, the Three Rivers Lions Club has selected Jerry Wright as this year’s recipient of their annual Citizen of the Year. In honor of long-time Three Rivers advocate and Lions Club member Bruce Snook, the name of the award has been changed to “The Three Rivers Lions Club Bruce C. Snook Award”. The banquet to honor Jerry Wright will be held Tuesday, April 22, at Belle Epoque, located on Railroad Drive, in Three Rivers. The festivities will begin at 6 PM with a social time and dinner will be served at 6:30. Tickets are now on sale for $20. per person, and may be purchased at Ridgeway Floral, on West Michigan Avenue, in Three Rivers. There are a limited amount of tickets available, so you’ll want to purchase your tickets as soon as you can. They will be available through April 15. Tickets will NOT be available at the door.

I was sad to hear of the upcoming resignation of Three Rivers Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson. I first met the Chief over five years ago. I asked him if there were any way that I could volunteer with the fire department without actually being a firefighter. The result turned out to be a two-or three-year period when I worked as an auxiliary, non-emergency, van driver for Station Two. On occasion, I would transport wheelchair-bound patients to doctor’s appointments, etc. I was issued a uniform and was made to feel a real part of the TR Fire Department. I participated in parades, helped out at their annual pancake breakfast, and was accepted as one of the guys. The wheelchair van is gone now, as is the need for me to help out that much. I stop by the station from time to time to see the firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics, and the Chief. I have always been made to feel welcome. Everyone at the station is always glad to see me. I’m sure the spirit that exists there is partially due to Chief Dan’s spirit. He is not only liked by the firefighters, but he is loved and respected by every one of them.

I’m not sure what brought him to make this decision to resign, but, along with everyone else, I will respect that decision. Three Rivers will be losing a dedicated and loyal employee, and that is too bad. I thank him for everything he did for me and for everything that he did for the Three Rivers Fire Department. Above all, I thank him for his friendship. I feel confident that this will never end.

This past Friday evening, we attended the Three Rivers High School production of Avenue Q, the High School Edition. We were totally impressed with the performance. The puppeteering was out of this world, and the energy displayed by the students could not be contained. Kudos to the cast, crew, band, and everyone else that had anything to do with this production. A special hug goes out to director Marcy Bennett. Once again your talents as a director became evident. Hopefully, this will not be the last production that TRHS allows to be displayed. There’s too much talent out there, and it would be a shame if it weren’t allowed to be displayed. Not just my opinion.

Being retired and on a fixed income, I’m always looking for a way to save as much money as possible. I can’t remember when I haven’t been paying for some form of insurance. Life insurance is something that I’ll never benefit from, because my family will get those benefits. I have enough to probably pay for my cremation. Car insurance is mandatory, except for those people who don’t want to have it. These are the same individuals who drive on a suspended license, or no driver’s license at all. Insurance is pretty much like taxes, in that we will pay for it. In order to stay insured, while at the same time save some money, here are a couple of things you might consider doing:

Raise your deductible.

Buy all of your insurance from the same company.

For your home, install an alarm system, dead bolt locks, or other security devices.

Remind your agent that you haven’t had a claim in quite a few years.

I am happy with my insurance program, but I still check in with my agent to see if they might provide me with a better rate. If you have a great agent, they will never forget that you are the one providing them with a living.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of March 24th

March 25, 2014 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

I spent about twenty-five years working and living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I was very familiar with the area near O’Hare Airport, and, at that time, had no plans of ever returning to Three Rivers to live. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I spent a weekend in the O’Hare area. She was attending a Lions Leadership Seminar, and I spent the weekend relaxing at the hotel. The reason I mention this, is because I had some difficulty recognizing the landmarks around O’Hare Airport. There had been considerable construction over the past twenty or thirty years, so finding our way around was a bit difficult. The same thing happened when I used to return to Three Rivers, while still living in the Chicago area. Things were constantly changing here, yet those living here wouldn’t notice the change that much. There isn’t much we can do about change, except to try our best to adapt to it. Hopefully, the changes are for the better. It would be difficult parking downtown, if we had to worry about the hitching posts for the horses and buggies being in the way. We just need to make sure we’ve made the right decisions, when it comes to making changes.

There’s a new barber in town. Actually, this barber has been here for more than several months, and she has been made to feel quite welcome. That’s correct, I said “she” has been made to feel quite welcome. She is not a beautician or hair stylist. She is a barber and proud of it. At one time, Three Rivers had more than its share of barbers. Now there are only about two or three including Carrie.

A year or two ago, I was concerned about what I was going to do when my barber, Doug, retired. I hope that Doug sticks around for a long time, but when he finally does hang up his clippers, I’ll feel confident knowing that Carrie will still be there. I strongly suggest that the “Good Old Boys”, who at one time proclaimed that they’d never let a woman cut their hair, give Carrie a chance to make them look presentable. They might be surprised. Welcome, Carrie, to the Three Rivers business world.

During the winter months, it’s difficult to find a garage or yard sale in the Three Rivers area. Now that the weather is warming up, there will be plenty of outdoor sales every weekend. Truly a “Sale Shoppers” dream. This Saturday, March 29, from 9 AM until 1 PM, you’ll be able to find some terrific deals at a “Mom to Mom” sale. Located on Water Street, in Three Rivers, the Corey Lake Christian Children Center will host the event. I’m not sure if there will be any items of interest for the guys, but it might not be a bad idea to stop in and check it out. If you have items that you think others might be interested in, the doors will open at 7:30 AM for those moms wishing to sell their goods. There is a $10 table charge, plus a $1 entrance fee. Remember, “One person’s junk, is another person’s treasure.”

Next month is when we must deal with the tax person. If we’ve watched our debits and credits, we shouldn’t have any problems. Here is a tax trap that you might want to be made aware of. IRS-required annual distributions from a 401-K plan usually start the year you turn 70 ½. You can defer that first payout until April 1 of the next year, but watch out. The next distribution is due by December 31, and the double payout could put you in a higher tax bracket.

One final word about 401-Ks. If you take money out of your 401-K, IRA, or other tax-deferred retirement account before you’re 59 ½, you may be hit with a triple whammy: income tax, a 10 percent penalty, and reduced growth in your account. I received the information mentioned in these last two paragraphs from an AARP publication. I’m in no way a tax consultant, but I do not enjoy wasting my hard-earned money.

To end this week’s column on a happy note, here are several more of Life’s Little Instructions:

Over tip your breakfast waitress.

Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards.

Wear polished shoes often.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of March 17th

March 18, 2014 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

A classmate of mine recently sent me a quote that really set me to thinking. It’s really sad that the quote has come to be a reality, and we should all give it some serious thought. Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” It seems that, wherever you go, there are people who just can’t put down their cell phones, or whatever other high-tech device they might have. They can’t even walk down the street without having their phones up to their ears. Children don’t participate in family conversations while dining out, because they are preoccupied with video games or texting their BFFs. It’s against the law to text while you drive, but there are drivers who still do it. Unfortunately, sometimes people die because a driver was too busy texting to pay attention to their driving. I wish I were smart enough to come up with a cure for rudeness and stupidity.

I wonder how many of you are aware that schools no longer are required to teach “Cursive”. Knowing how to sign your name, or the use of penmanship, apparently is no longer important. We have computers to do that for us. Most of our younger generation has no idea on how to make change. They usually have a computer to do that for them, and they forget about counting your change back to you. As a matter of fact, this column is prepared using a computer. I have a very nice electric typewriter, but the computer is faster and it is easier to correct my mistakes. I guess I really don’t have a right to complain, but I can think of several of my teachers who would be quite upset with the education system, if they were still living.

The Carnegie Center for the Arts hosted a reception this past Sunday, March 16, for the art students attending high schools in St. Joseph County. Sponsored by Bippus National Auctions and Real Estate, the reception was held from 2 until 4 PM. The students’ art exhibits will be on display at the Carnegie through Saturday, April 12. If you have the opportunity, stop by the Carnegie, located at 107 North Main Street, in Three Rivers, and witness just how much talent exists here in your own community. You’ll be amazed at how good these young artists are. For information on hours of operation at the Carnegie, you may visit their website at, or give them a call at 269-273-8882.

I am still on a weight-loss campaign. I think I’m doing a good job watching my carb intake, and my consumption of sweets. Fortunately, I really enjoy salads, and that is usually my evening meal at least once a week. This leads me up to mentioning the “Spring Salad Supper….and More!” fundraiser put on by the Ninth Street United Methodist Church. If you missed their Swiss Steak Dinner fundraiser several weeks ago, you have another opportunity to experience some great down-home dining. This must-attend fundraiser is scheduled for this next Saturday, March 22, from 5 to 6:30PM. The menu consists of salad, of course, casseroles, dessert, and a beverage. All of this can be had for the low price of $8. for adults and $4. for children. Oh yes, this is one of those “All-You-Can-Eat” events, so please go with a hearty appetite and plan to eat healthy. The church is located at 700 Ninth Street, right here in Three Rivers.

Water is still the best thing to drink, whether you’re thirsty or not. Here are four helpful hints:

Two glasses of water after waking up helps activate internal organs.

One glass of water thirty minutes before a meal helps digestion.

One glass of water before taking a bath/shower helps lower blood pressure.

One glass of water before going to bed helps avoid a stroke or heart attack.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of March 10th

March 11, 2014 by Administrator · Leave a Comment 

It seems to me that, as we get older, our stress level becomes more evident. Perhaps I’m getting this confused with the lack of patience. I remember that, as my father aged, his patience decreased. At times he had a very short fuse, which caused me to move more quietly while in his presence. I’d hate to think that I’m taking after my dad, as I age.

One of the things that causes my blood pressure to surge and my patience to dwindle is seeing that the price of gasoline has jumped twenty cents per gallon. Getting Out and About via a vehicle is difficult without gasoline. There was a time when I would fill my vehicle’s gas tank on Thursday, because the price of gas always jumped on Friday. This is not the case anymore. It can be $3.37 on a Monday afternoon, and when you drive by the station Tuesday morning, the price has jumped to $3.57. I worked part-time as a cashier back in the day, but that was when gasoline sold for a dollar per gallon. People complained back then, also, but I never feared for my life because of that.

Please be aware of the fact that the gas station cashier does not control the price of the product. She or he merely changes the price on the pump and on the sign. The price of the product is determined by someone who doesn’t have to face the customer, so please be gentle the next time you speak with the person behind the counter. That job used to be fun. I don’t think it is anymore. I can’t think of anyone who enjoys being verbally abused for something they have no control over.

One of my favorite causes is the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF). These volunteers do so much for the cats and dogs that have been abandoned and/or mistreated here in St. Joe County. I commend them for their efforts, because this is another group that does what they do for the love of the cause. Every year about this time, they hold their annual dinner/auction. The proceeds from this fundraiser go to help those animals whose owners just don’t care enough to properly care for them anymore.

This year’s fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, beginning with the mostaccioli dinner at 5:30 PM, followed by the auction soon after. Once again, the venue is Belle Epoque, located on Railroad Drive, here in Three Rivers. Advance tickets are now available at Beam Sound and Video, West Michigan Avenue, in Three Rivers. Tickets not sold in advance, will be available at the door. Please be aware that tickets are limited in number, so advance purchase is highly recommended.

The reason I’m mentioning this event so early, is because, in order to have an auction, ARF needs donated items to auction. This is where everyone can help make this dinner/auction a huge success. If you can donate items, please contact Rodney at Beam Sound and Video. Rodney’s number is 269-279-6251; for more information, contact the event chair, Marty Davenport at 269-718-3331. Auction items need to be turned in at Beam Sound and Video by Saturday, March 15.

I have difficulty with some of the advertising we see on television. An example is seeing a lady distraught about how she is going to make it financially. In the past, she has borrowed money from her children, and now she has no idea how she will be able to continue living without any money. Her dilemma stems from the fact that her husband has a gambling addiction and has wasted away their funds. A few minutes later, there is an ad for one of the many casinos located right here in Pure Michigan. It depicts people who have won “Big Money” at gambling. Perhaps the money winners should talk with the money losers. If you don’t have money to lose, you shouldn’t take a chance on losing it. Las Vegas didn’t become the city it is today by giving away money. The same could be said about the Michigan casinos. They might let you win sometimes, but they’ll never go broke. The odds are too much in their favor. You can bet on it. If you have some extra money, get Out and About and take the family out for dinner and a movie. In my mind, that’s quality time.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

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