Category Archives: politics

Vote on Nov. 3, 2020 in a historic election

“People consider me an advocate even though I am not there, so why not be there.”

Lynn Mason

Lynn Mason

Lynn Mason, democratic candidate, is running for a seat on the Ionia County Board of Commissiners in the Nov. 3 election. She served four two-year terms on the Ionia County Board of Commissioners from 2006 to 2014.

In 2014, Lynn gave up the commissioner’s seat because she ran for the State House, she ran again for the State House in 2016.

“I came in second,” she laughed in a recent interview.

Lynn Mason, a retired educator from Belding Area Schools, was the president of the Belding Education Association (BEA) during her teaching career at BAS. She served on the negotiating team.

Lynn is running for the District 1 commissioner seat because she is tired of seeing what the current board is doing.

“There are no checks and balances,” she said. “They all have the same opinion.”

According to Lynn, due to the lack of check and balances, the Ionia County Board of Commissioners agreed to dissolve the Ionia County Road Commission last year.

“If I am elected, I have decided to build relationships first between the management and the employees,” Lynn said.

One of the purposes why Lynn is running is to protect the rights of the citizens.

Lynn cited as an example putting together a policy for expressing action on the county property.

She offers to the board her experience and advocacy.

“People know that I am a trustworthy source,” she said. “They consider me an advocate even though I am not there, so why not be there.”

Lynn said when she’s a commissioner, she’s always there. Based on her previous experience, she plans to use the following slogan in her campaign:

“What are we going to do with Lynn?’

Lynn supports both millages for seniors and for 911.

She is running against republican incumbent candidate Dave Hodges.

Copyright © 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Czech Independence Day

The Lowell Ledger article ” New memoir by Emma Palova about family’s escape from communism” hit the stands today in the greater Lowell area in Michigan.

The article captures the essence of our lives on the run from former Czechoslovakia to the U.S. The publication date coincided with the Czech Independence Day. Former Czechoslovakia was born on Oct. 28 1918, 102 years ago. The country founded its existence after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the aftermath of WWI.

The book “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” about our family immigration saga is slated for Nov. 12 publication on Amazon.

Follow me for a full post.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Prague Spring, 1968 Part II

Prague Spring, 1968

Note: Aug. 20 & 21 mark the 52nd anniversary of the invasion of former Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Army. The historic event prompted entire generations to defect the country in search of freedom. The “Greenwich Meridian Memoir” is our family immigration saga from former Czechoslovakia to the USA spanning two generations. Following is a chapter- Mom’s Diary from the memoir.

Excerpt from the “Greenwich Meridian Memoir”- Mom’s Diary: in her own words

By Ella Konecny

I’ve never dreamt of travelling for the simple reason. I didn’t have money. My life was tailored around everyday mundane problems, that I will write about later.

I was a pharmacist, and it wasn’t that the profession was narrow and had nothing to offer, but I didn’t want to nurture vain ideas of travelling. So, Sunday afternoon trips to the dam in Luhacovice or Bystricka were the only means of breaking up the gray of ordinary days. The first bigger trip was our honeymoon to the Krkonose mountains with the old Tatra and mother’s comments:

“I hope the poor car will make it.”

The Greenwich Meridian Memoir to publish on Oct. 16, 2020. The cover was designed by graphic artist Jeanne Boss of Rockford.

When we arrived in Harachov, we sent a message to my parents: “We’ve arrived under Mount Blanc.” At that moment, it never occurred to me that one day I would indeed be looking at the majestic highest mountain in the Alps.

I did an inventory of my life. After five years of marriage, we had two children: Emma and Vasek. I was working part-time in a pharmacy in my hometown Vizovice and my husband Vaclav was teaching physics in Brno. He would come for the weekend to Vizovice, because I couldn’t find a job in Brno and we had no place to stay there. We were on the waiting list for an apartment, that we got in 1965. We didn’t have a car or money to furnish the apartment. My husband found out that the president of the university in Khartoum, Sudan was hiring English-speaking professors to teach different subjects. Vaclav’s English was excellent and he got the job. However, I did not know about this.

At the beginning of November, Vaclav announced his decision that he will be leaving for Sudan on Nov. 20, 1964. I gave him my blessings and never thought for a moment that I would go with him. I continued to work in the pharmacy and my boss who loved to travel kept asking me when was I going to fly to Africa.

In the spring of 1965, when I finally applied for a passport and got my vaccinations, Vaclav wrote me a letter that he was coming home, because it was the end of the school year. The university paid once a year for round trip air tickets for the entire family, regardless that he had just started teaching in November. The school year in Sudan ran from the beginning of July to the end of March; it was followed by a summer break lasting three months.

Those three months were also the worse months in Africa weather-wise, filled with sandstorms “Habub,” rain and heat. Khartoum lies on the 15th parallel close to the equator; it is the second warmest place in the world. It’s a dry tropical country with very little rain. One road stretched 50 miles north of Khartoum and 50 miles south and dead ended in the Nubian Desert.

Three rivers ran through the city: Nile, Blue Nile and White Nile. We arrived in this city in July of 1965. When we got out of the plane at the airport in Khartoum, a hot wave like coming from an oven, hit me and I couldn’t catch my breath.

We rented an apartment from the university close to Blue Nile. The apartment was spacious with two built-in balconies that were not screened, so the kids played there together with lizards and salamanders. The apartment had running water, a refrigerator and basic furniture: beds, table, chairs and two armchairs in light green color. There was no TV or air conditioning. The stores were open in the morning and evening and closed in the afternoon due to heat. Khartoum was a dead town in the afternoon.

The main boulevard was lined with stores full of merchandise unlike in Czechoslovakia where we always had to stand in line for meat, vegetables and also for toilet paper. However, compared to the USA 40 years later, it doesn’t seem as much.

The round bread baked by Greek Papa Costa was excellent. In five years, we never went to a restaurant or swimming in a community pool. The Czech community was divided into three parts: the Czech embassy and its employees, professors from the university and the commerce department, whose employees oversaw the set up in factories.

We got together once a month at the embassy, where we watched Czech films, mainly socialist propaganda such as “Anna Proletarian” or “The Red Glow over Kladno” and Janosik. Kladno was home to the iron and smelting works–a major industry in Western Bohemia. Janosik is a folk legend about an outlaw who stole money and goods from the rich to help the poor.

We also celebrated at the embassy events like the International Women’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Saint Nicholas for kids. I think these gatherings were to control the Czech people working in Khartoum. We had our own friends and got together with them at our apartment such as the Fickers from Slovakia, Jarmila & Mirek Hladci and my friend from the university, Marie Hecklova. These were simple gatherings with refreshments such as peanuts, fruits and coca cola. During the afternoon siesta, I read Czech books from the embassy. After the siesta, we went to our neighbors who had a garden. It was 116.6 F in the shade, where we knitted sweaters with Mrs. Ficker.

We had an artificial Christmas tree that caught on fire on the fifth year of our stay in Khartoum. Only the catholic church was decorated for Christmas in this mainly Muslim country, due to a large Italian population.

The kids did not go to school; I homeschooled them Czech subjects, since I never thought about emigration, I thought they would not need to speak English.

My vision was simple; we were going to save enough money in Sudan to furnish the apartment in Brno. Then, to save enough money to buy a car so we could visit my parents in Vizovice to avoid the overcrowded buses. I never got a pharmacist job in Brno, so I don’t know what was I thinking I was going to do or where was I going to work upon arrival.

After Christmas, all the couples started planning their summer vacation because there were only three months left until the end of the school year. We usually flew to Rome, where we rented a car and continued through Europe. But sometimes we flew into Athens, Vienna or Zurich in Switzerland. I have attached an exact timetable of our travels. We visited Western Europe several times; some countries like Italy, Switzerland and Austria three times or more. Austria was the only country where I would have emigrated, but my husband Vaclav didn’t speak German. We travelled for quite some time, and we thought it would last longer than it did.

We lived a carefree life and we didn’t care about the politics in our homeland. When we crossed the border at Rozvadov with an Italian license plate, the custom officials asked us if we spoke Czech. When I answered that we were Czechs they responded happily that it was Prague Spring, 1968, that freed the press and that we won’t have to leave for Sudan anymore, because everything was going to be better. We were yet to find out the real situation in the country.

We saved some money over the three years in Sudan, so we decided to save more to buy a house in Brno. Currently, we were living in the apartment in Brno and in Vizovice with my parents. We explored the beauty of Moravian Walachia: Karolinka, Radhost, Bystricka and Luhacovice. It was the last peaceful summer in my life–the proverbial calm before the storm.

In July, Vaclav left for Sudan and I left for a spa treatment in Carlsbad for three weeks on August 8, 1968 due to my constant digestive health problems as a consequence to my childhood hepatitis A and a duodenum ulcer. I paid for my stay, because I’ve been unemployed since July of 1965 for the first time due to my travels to Sudan. I was staying at a home whose owner’s mother was German. It was a nice apartment with a view on the Main Boulevard. I had a colleague in Carlsbad–Mila Duskova, who was from Slusovice. Together, we went to the fancy bakeries, coffee shops and cinemas in Carlsbad. The daily regimen consisted of drinking water from the thermal springs in the morning, spa procedures and entertainment in the evening. Time flew by and I was looking forward to being back with the kids. I visited my childhood friend Zdena who married and lived in Nejdek.

I was supposed to fly back to Brno on August 21, 1968. I woke up at 6 a.m. and I could hear the landlord’s voice gasping:

“What? The Russians are here? That’s impossible!”

I ran out of the room and met her in the hallway, where she confirmed what I had overheard in my room, that the Russians came in tanks and occupied the western border with Germany and Austria. I remembered that last night as I was standing by the window that the road to Carlsbad above was all lit up and very busy. The city of Carlsbad nestles below the road in the valley of River Tepla. It never occurred to me that the noise came from the tanks. I went to the colonnade to the thermal spring to get my morning water. However, no one was drinking water; people were listening to small radios and everyone was crying. It was a complete chaos, all the public transportation stopped. I was still thinking that I would be able to fly back to Brno. I went to the airline office, where the clerk told me that no airplanes were flying out and she gave me back my money. I went back to the apartment and sat down next to my packed suitcase and started crying, not knowing what to do. I also ran out of money, so I called my friend Zdena, if she could lend me money, since I didn’t expect to stay in Carlsbad for more than three weeks.

In the afternoon I stood by the window watching the sun lit main boulevard. All of a sudden, I saw a huge stream of people yelling. Hundreds of people demonstrated against the Russian invasion. Anger and wrath with all the other emotions overflowed against the hated occupant. As the number of people increased, so did their courage. People started to topple statues that were connected to communism and the Soviet Union. It wasn’t just the communist leaders but also the works and the art of communism that were being toppled. Most often it was the Soviet Union national symbol of the sickle and the hammer. I stood by the window crying, but because I am a chicken by nature, I did not join the demonstrations. Somehow, I knew these were going to negatively influence my life.

My husband Vaclav already had a difficult position at the university because we were Catholics and we went to church on a regular basis. According to the official communist party philosophy of Marxism, going to church was not allowed; let alone if someone was a teacher like Vaclav. It did not matter that he taught math, that had nothing to do with Marxism.

The next morning, I went to the colonnade again, the situation was the same; people were crying while listening to the small radios and there was no public transportation. We felt isolated from the rest of the country, and from the rest of the world. The Soviet tanks were moving across the entire country, the public transportation was either difficult or completely halted. The third day on the colonnade, someone told me the bus transportation may resume on that day. I immediately returned to the apartment to say goodbye to the landlord, I took my suitcase and went back to the colonnade, where the buses arrived. Even though there was no bus line going to Brno, I took one to Ceske Budejovice. From Ceske Budejovice to Moravian Budejovice and to Brno. From the bus, I could see the convoy of tanks and trucks along the road.

I arrived at our apartment in Brno approximately at 2 p.m. I finally felt safe and opened the windows to let the fresh air in. I heard the tolling of the bells from all the churches like at a funeral, that was to symbolize the burying of the little freedom we’ve had since spring, not quite half a year.

The next day, I took a bus to Vizovice to see my parents and the kids in Moravian Wallachia. My mother told me that two Czech women with husbands in Sudan, called me that they were leaving the country to Austria and flying to Khartoum and that I should join them. For the first time in 20 years, the border was open for three brief days. They were afraid if we don’t grab this opportunity, the borders will close soon and we will never get out of the occupied country.

My mother was afraid too and wanted me to call these Czech women. At that moment I felt very patriotic for the first time in my life. I said that if 15 million people can live in Czechoslovakia, so could I, regardless the politics. Our men were afraid that the Soviet Union would annex our country as their 17th republic. Many young people fled the country even from Vizovice, whom I later met in Austria and the U.S.

September 1968 came and there was still no air transportation. I called the Czechoslovak Airlines to let me know when the flights will resume. That happened in three weeks and I flew to Sudan on Sept. 28 to join Vaclav. I was one of the last spouses to leave the country; the last one after me was Mrs. Janousek. We did not want to leave our homeland.

After a happy reunion with my husband and the exhaustion from the trip, the hard reality hit home. Wherever we ran into other Czechs, the same question always arose:

“Where are you going to emigrate?”

“Nowhere,” I answered.

But, discussions at home had already started; my husband did not want to return back to Czechoslovakia and I did not want to go anywhere else, but home. Tears and heated discussions followed about what’s better for the family; no one asked what’s better for me.

In this situation, we planned another trip across Europe. This time we flew into Southern Italy and onto France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was a long trip that lasted six weeks. My sister Anna with her husband brought us our car, and they stayed with us for a week in Austria. From there, we continued to French Riviera, Lourdes, Grenoble, Paris and to LaHavre. From LaHavre we crossed the English (LaManche) Channel to England.

We visited London, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester and crossed the channel from Dover to Zeebrugge in Belgium and continued onto the Netherlands, Germany and Czechoslovakia.

As much as I was looking forward to coming home, it wasn’t an easy homecoming. Even though we haven’t seen any Russian tanks or troops, because they were hiding in the woods and they were closer to big cities, we could feel the tension in the air and among the people. No one knew what was going to happen next. General Ludvik Svoboda replaced Prague Spring reform leader Alexander Dubcek, and it looked like the reform movement never existed with the freedom of press gone too. Our entire family and friends were surprised that we returned from Sudan back to Czechoslovakia under the given the circumstances.

Why not? We had important business to conduct in Brno. The year before we decided we were going to buy a house in Brno. Now, that wasn’t easy business in Czechoslovakia to buy or sell a house; no one was selling because people built their houses in great hardship. Unlike in the U.S., people did not move around the country because they did not need to; everyone had a job with the same salary no matter where you went. However, people exchanged apartments for houses or apartments between different cities for example between Prague and Brno and paid the difference in price. We found a family, originally from Vizovice, who had a house in Cerna Pole in Brno, and they wanted a four-bedroom apartment with a garage. We had a three-bedroom apartment without a garage, so we wanted to pay for the additional bedroom and the garage. The owner of the house, who was a doctor at the regional department of health in Brno, kept looking for the right apartment, but couldn’t find what he wanted.

My husband and I decided that I would not go to Sudan that year, and stay home with the kids to save money for the house. I was still hoping that Vaclav would change his mind about immigration. Vaclav left for Sudan at the beginning of July, and I stayed with the kids at my parents’ house in Vizovice.

The first anniversary of the Soviet invasion in August of 1969 was approaching fast. The people panicked and were scared what was in store for us for the infamous anniversary. The most common fear was that the Russians would annex Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union as the 17th republic. I lost my patriotism, and I got scared. I caved into the mass psychosis of fear; I packed my suitcases and kids and I left for the Austrian border in Mikulov, two days before the Aug. 21, 1969 invasion anniversary. I cried on the way there, saying goodbye to the country, because I knew I was not coming back. I did not have any problems at the border; I had a valid passport with visa to Sudan and air tickets. I let my husband know from Austria that I was coming to Sudan and that I would stay for one year.

My friends from Vizovice, who had left the country in 1968, were waiting for me at the Austrian border. I spent three days with them, left them the car and took off for Sudan. In Khartoum, I met with all our friends from the previous year; everyone was saving up more money needed for emigration. By that time, everyone knew where they were going to emigrate. It was my turn to say where I wanted to live. I wanted to live in Austria because it is the neighboring country to Czech Republic. However, that was not possible because we didn’t speak German which was necessary for my husband to continue to teach math. And the chances of getting a teaching job at an Austrian university were small, because it’s a small country with population of seven million people, smaller than Czech Republic.

What next? I was afraid that I would be considered an outlander- a foreigner wherever I went. So, the only country under consideration was America, where with the exception of the Indians, everyone is an immigrant. We decided for the USA. To this day, I still don’t know why my husband first applied for a teaching job in Australia. I would have never lived there because it is too far from Czech Republic. He also applied to Zambia in Africa to get out of Khartoum that was becoming increasingly dangerous with coups to gain power.

In the meantime, my husband got a letter from Mr. Rosenberg, who emigrated to Canada in 1968; Vaclav could go to Canada for a post doctorate fellowship in Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan, for six months. He immediately accepted. I knew the return to homeland was impossible. We received a letter from the Czech Embassy stating that we have to return to Czechoslovakia by March 31, 1970; the visa was extended to Dec. 31, 1970. Whoever did not return by that date, was considered staying outside the country illegally.

We had arranged for a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea but cancelled it and instead flew for a few days to Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

I wrote a letter to the homeowner in Brno, that we were no longer interested in the apartment-house exchange transaction. My parents transferred the ownership of the apartment in Brno to them, otherwise the apartment would have been confiscated by the state since we left the country illegally. My sister Anna transferred the ownership of the car Skoda to herself, but she had to pay some fees to the state. Later, we found out from my parents, that we had a trial without our presence in Brno, where we were indicted with illegal stay outside Czechoslovakia. My husband was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail and I was sentenced to 1.5 years. We could not return to Czechoslovakia or we would go to jail.

Vacation in the Middle East was nice–the Muslim world of minarets and mosques. We flew from Khartoum to Cairo in Egypt with our friends. In Cairo, we visited the vast Egyptian Museum with royal mummies and King Tutankhamun artifacts and other pharaohs. After that we continued onto the nearby Giza, the site of the iconic pyramids and Great Sphinx, dating back to the 26th century BC. It was fabulous. From Cairo we flew to Beirut in Lebanon. We saw large camps with Palestinians, who were expulsed from their own country, where a new Israel state was created in 1948.

It was 1970, three years after the Arab-Israel War. We wanted to visit Israel, but it wasn’t possible, because we were crossing Arabic countries and considered as enemies of Israel. We were only 10 kilometers from the Israeli border with the beautiful biblical country laying at our feet. So, we took a taxi and traveled to the mountains with cedars and snow. Beautiful villas built in Arabic style laid at the foothills of the mountains. There was snow in the mountains, while people were swimming in the sea. The next day, we took a taxi to Damascus, the capital of Syria known as the “City of Jasmine.” We visited the famous Umayyad Mosque built in the eight century A.D. with the tomb of John the Baptist; his head is said to be buried in a shrine there. As women, we had to be covered from head to toe in black garb. We also visited the famous bazaar, Al-Hamidiyah Souq, in the old walled city of Damascus next to the Citadel. The souq is 2,000 feet long and 49 feet wide and is covered by a 33 feet tall metal arch. The souq starts at Al-Thawra Street and ends at the Umayyad Mosque plaza, and the ancient Roman Temple of Jupiter stands 40 feet tall in its entrance. The souq offered everything from gold, food, clothing to souvenirs.

Byblos

On our way back we stopped in Byblos, one of the longest inhabited cities in the world since 5000 BC in Lebanon. During an evening walk through Beirut, we met Czechs who told us that there was a revolution in Khartoum with tanks in the streets. Sudan gained independence from Britain in 1956 and ever since there have been coups to overthrow the government; the altercations were led by small groups or sects. In essence it wasn’t a revolution, but a crisis in the government to gain or regain control and power. It had no effect on the university. The Soviet Union provided aid in the form of 200 technical advisors and the Libyan government sent their troops. Colonel Gaafar Muhamed Nimeiry seized power until 1986.

From Beirut we flew to Vienna. My husband was worried that in case of bad weather we would have to land in Bratislava and be back home, which he was avoiding.  We invited both of our parents to Vienna to bid farewell to them. We were waiting for them at the border and I was happy to see them, even though I feared this because I did not know if I would ever see them again. Our farewell looked like a funeral, since we were all crying. The housemaid at the hotel asked us who died in the family. We sent off our parents with our car Skoda that was at our friends’ house in Vienna. Our friends were already in the U.S.A. It was a hard farewell, saying goodbye to Europe and to our families.

Copyright (c) 2020. Emma Palova. All rights reserved.

Husband and Wife vying for political seats

Frank and Lynn Mason run for political seats in Ionia County on different party tickets

By Emma Palova

Belding, MI – Frank and Lynn Mason not only share the same apples at Mason Orchards, but also the same passion for people and the place where they live. They’ve been married for 40 years and they have two adult children and three grandchildren. Both worked for the Belding Area Schools. But Frank & Lynn also share their differences in politics.

They are both vying for political seats in Ionia County on different party tickets. Frank Mason is running as a Republican for the Otisco Township supervisor, Lynn Mason is running on the Democratic ticket for the Ionia County Commission, District 1. They are both running in the contested Aug. 4th primary; Frank Mason is running against newcomer Republican Desmond Pike (R) and Lynn against incumbent board chair, Dave Hodges (R).

Frank Mason, Republican candidate for Otisco Township supervisor

“I am not going to make any promises that I cannot keep, or say anything that I can’t back up.”

Frank Mason

Frank Mason

While no rookie to the Otisco Township politics, Frank Mason is running for an elected position on the board for the first time. Since the incumbent supervisor Joseph Daller is not running again, Frank Mason decided to throw his hat in the ring in April.

“People asked me to run for supervisor,” Frank said in a recent interview. “We have a good situation here, and I want to it keep that way.”

Frank Mason has 24 years of training experience for the top post in the township; he has served on the Board of Review, Zoning Board of Appeals and on the planning commission.

“It’s taught me how a township needs to be run,” he said. “Since, I’ve retired I have time to put into the supervisor position.”

Otisco Township with the city of Belding in its center and the newly rebuilt Whites Bridge as its focal point, is a rural township with amber waves of grain, apple orchards, soybeans and cornfields.

“I want to make sure we keep the rural integrity of the township,” Frank said.

With potentially three to four new members on the township board, this may take some leadership and cohesiveness to work on the same page, according to Frank.

Some of the township issues include the maintenance of roads. However, there is a dedicated millage for the roads.

Frank considers the following among the top priorities for the township:

Improving coordination between all staff and elected officials, following the township Master Plan, promoting and preserving the rural character of the township.

He will also make himself available to the citizens by having regular hours at the township hall.

“I think it’s important to keep our township a place where people are proud to live,” he said.

COVID-19 has made campaigning tougher. For a month, Frank knocked door to door keeping social distance, but when Gov. Whitmer issued the executive order to “Mask Up, Michigan,” on July 10, he stopped.

“I have covered most of the township and answered questions on the questionnaires for the papers,” he said.

The team also put up signs around the township in Belding schools’ colors.

Frank is familiar with most of the people in the township due to his involvement with the Belding schools. He worked as a bus driver for 15 years, and a game manager for 30 years.

“I am not going to make any promises I cannot keep, or say anything that I can’t back up.”

Lynn Mason, Democratic candidate for the Ionia County Board of Commissioners, District 1

“People consider me an advocate even though I am not there, so why not be there.”

Lynn Mason

Lynn Mason

Unlike her husband Frank, Lynn Mason is a veteran politician. She was surprised when Frank announced his candidacy for the Otisco Township supervisor two weeks prior to her own filing.

She served four two-year terms on the Ionia County Board of Commissioners from 2006 to 2014.

In 2014, Lynn gave up the commissioner’s seat because she ran for the State House, she ran again for the State House in 2016.

“I came in second,” she laughed in a recent interview.

Lynn Mason, a retired educator from Belding Area Schools, was the president of the Belding Education Association (BEA) during her teaching career at BAS. She served on the negotiating team.

Lynn is running for the District 1 commissioner seat because she is tired of seeing what the current board is doing.

“There are no checks and balances,” she said. “They all have the same opinion.”

According to Lynn, due to the lack of check and balances, the Ionia County Board of Commissioners agreed to dissolve the Ionia County Road Commission last year.

“If I am elected, I have decided to build relationships first between the management and the employees,” Lynn said.

One of the purposes why Lynn is running is to protect the rights of the citizens.

Lynn cited as an example putting together a policy for expressing action on the county property.

She offers to the board her experience and advocacy.

“People know that I am a trustworthy source,” she said. “They consider me an advocate even though I am not there, so why not be there.”

Lynn said when she’s a commissioner, she’s always there. Based on her previous experience, she plans to use the following slogan in her campaign:

“What are we going to do with Lynn?’

Lynn supports both millages for seniors and for 911.

For a complete list of candidates go to:

Copyright © 2020. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Stay-at-home order issued by Michigan Governor Whitmer

Governor Whitmer Signs “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 

Governor directs all non-critical businesses to temporarily close, all Michiganders to stay home or six feet away from others during COVID-19 crisis .

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

LANSING, Mich. —  Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.  

Effective at 12:01 am on March 24, 2020, for at least the next three weeks, individuals may only leave their home or place of residence under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when they do so, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances. 

“In just 13 days, we’ve gone from 0 to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” said Governor Whitmer. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.” 

“Taking aggressive action to protect our communities is the most important thing we can do to mitigate further spread of COVID-19,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “If we do this now, we can make sure our hospitals and healthcare workers are prepared to take care of the sickest people. It is crucial that people do the right thing by staying home and staying safe.” 

Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers that meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that necessary in-person work. 

Workers that are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. For a full list of these critical infrastructure workers, click the link to Executive Order 2020-21 at the bottom of this page. 

Additionally, under Executive Order 2020-21, all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons outside a single household are temporarily prohibited. People may leave the house to perform for limited, necessary purposes, and may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders. 

Michigan is currently in the top five states in the nation in number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Several governors across the country have taken similar steps to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19, including governors Mike DeWine (R-OH), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Tom Wolf (D-PA), Gavin Newsom (D-CA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Phil Murphy (D-NJ), and Ned Lamont (D-CT). 

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:    

  • Fever       
  • Cough       
  • Shortness of breath       

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is:  

  • If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.       
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.         
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.         
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.         
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.         
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.        
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.       

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus   

For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8AM – 5PM daily.   

Michiganders can apply for unemployment benefits if they have left work or taken a leave of absence because of self-isolation or self-quarantine in response to elevated risk from COVID-19 due to being immunocompromised, displaying the symptoms of COVID-19, having contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, the need to care for someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or a family care responsibility as a result of a government directive. Those temporarily laid off from work should apply for unemployment benefits online at www.michigan.gov/UIA or 1-866-500-0017.  

Governor Whitmer is working to ensure that children who rely on the food provided by schools will have the resources they need. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has developed an online map for families to find meals. Families can access the map at: https://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/schoolnutrition/

On March 19, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved the governor’s request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration, opening the opportunity to small businesses to access low-interest loans from the SBA. The application for disaster loan assistance is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. For businesses looking for more information on how to apply for an SBA EIDL loan or whether it is something they should consider, visit michiganbusiness.org/covid19. 

To view executive order 2020-21, click the link below:   

Executive Order 2020-21This press release will be translated and made available in Arabic and Spanish at www.michigan.gov/whitmer 

Source: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s press release on March 23, 2020

May Day 2019

This is one of my most popular posts; back by demand

Happy May Day

May 1st traditions in Czech Republic & around the world

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – Every year, I observe May 1st as May Day in the renaissance Czech tradition with warm memories of the socialist past. If I close my eyes, I can still see the parades, the tribunes and the socialist propaganda with the slogans and the banners on the backdrop of the blossoming lilacs. The socialist patriotic anthems were blasting from the loudspeakers including the Soviet anthem “Coyuz Nerusimij.”

We all had to Partake in the May Day parade.  Those who didn’t participate got later into trouble at work or in school.

Today, Czech Republic still celebrates May 1, as an official holiday with a day off to commemorate the union manifestations in Chicago in 1884. Only this time around, without the parades or the slogans.

But most of all, May Day, was a great day off known for its official opening of the beer gardens, and the infamous “march of the thieves.”

The organized labor from the factories marched in the parades, while some individuals used the opportunity to steal from the gated factories because of less supervision. Therein the name “march of the thieves.”

First and foremost, May is the month of love, not just labor.

And I write about all this in the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” with a light heart and a smile on my face with a touch of nostalgia.

I admire the old Czech country for being able to keep both the old socialist holidays, take on new ones, and tamper with the most important holiday of all that is the liberation of the country from the Nazi occupation in 1945.

New politicians with new agendas changed the date of the liberation of former Czechoslovakia from May 9th to May 8th based on the controversy who really liberated the country, whether it was the Soviets or the Americans. The question at hand; who was the first and where?

Having lived in many countries around the world, our family always honored the holidays of that particular country, otherwise we would have time off all the time.

Looking at my calendar last week for a summary, I found amusing that Canada also has Easter Monday off as an official holiday, just like Czech Republic.

However, any holiday can take root in any country as I have witnessed in my hometown of Vizovice.

I remember our neighbor bus driver Mr. Hlavenka in Vizovice, used to celebrate Fourth of July by taking the day off in the old socialist era.

I’ve always wondered, how did he know about Independence Day with all the propaganda against American capitalism.

But, May 1st has deep agricultural connotations as well. People gather wildflowers and crown a May king and queen, weave floral garlands, and set up a maypole.

Majove slavnosti

They also have bonfires to encourage the fertility of the land and animals in the coming year.

It is fascinating how different traditions and believes take roots in different countries, and how they continue to evolve.

Watch for more upcoming May posts.

Copyright (c) 2013-2019. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Loyal public servant

Note: This article is part of a new series “Inspiring Communities.” This is the second installment following the article about Arctic Heating & Cooling owner Evert Bek “Installing water filters in Haiti.”

Nominate a person who has inspired you.

Former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges retires

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – After 23 years of public service, former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges has decided it is time to move on. He officially retired from the Lowell City Council on Nov. 6, 2017.

EW Jim Hodges retires
Former mayor Jim Hodges retires from the Lowell City Council after 23 years.

He started his successful career in public service in 1982 as the director of YMCA, which at the time functioned as the city recreational department.

“A connection with the city was established,” he said, “I attended meetings.”

In 1991, Hodges became the chairperson for the Lowell Area Schools millage campaign. He helped pass two millage proposals.

He applied for the city council seat in 1988, and he was elected to two four-year terms. In 1997, he was defeated in an election by 20 votes. Hodges took a break from the Lowell City Council for six years.

In 2004, he became a city council member all over again after being asked to run by Jeanne Shores, who became the mayor twice through 2009. Shores was the only female mayor the city of Lowell has ever had.

“Because of my loyalty and friendship, I encouraged Jeanne to run,” Hodges said.

“I have always encouraged women to run. It’s crazy not to. Everybody needs to be involved in politics to get a better balance and diversity in the society. Otherwise you’re cutting your assets in half.”

Due to Shores’ sickness, Hodges became the acting mayor in 2008.

All throughout his public service, Hodges believed in respecting others opinions and diversity.

“I have three big takeaways from my public service,” he said.

The first takeaway was to pay tribute to Shores; Hodges arranged for her to run her last meeting on Dec. 21 in 2009 from a wheelchair and named her mayor emeritus.

The second takeaway was negotiating for Dave Pasquale, manager of 23 years, to take retirement.

The third takeaway was putting a traffic light at the intersection of Bowes Road and Alden Nash.

“As the mayor, you have to be less bold and more proper than as a council member,” he said.

In an era of corrupt politics and improper behavior of various officials, Hodges was one of a kind. He was always diplomatic and smiling his impeccable smile.

Public service came with the good and the bad: the deaths of mayor emeritus Shores and council member Jim Hall, as well as the clash between the personalities on the city council.

There were some controversies during the more than two decades of service in a relatively quiet community on the banks of the Flat and Grand rivers.

Some pertained to the firing of the previous city manager Mark Howe. Other controversies involved the police chiefs; one had resigned, the other chief Steve Bukala was put on first paid administrative leave in April, and on unpaid leave in June as investigation into misusing police database and subsequent charges took place.

Since, then Bukala has been reinstated.

“It will make him a better police chief,” said Hodges. “It adds another dimension of being a better professional. We have a solid team of people working together. Steve brings leadership to them as we move forward.”

Hodges had the vision to locate the chamber building on the current Riverwalk in downtown Lowell.

And would Mr. Hodges do it all over again?

“Absolutely,” he said smiling. “I would like to think that I have helped. I like a variety of people and this has given me the chance to meet many different people.”

Hodges also takes pride in being able to balance his third shift work at Amway with his public service which included meetings in the evening or in the morning.

“You have to be disciplined,” he said.

He plans on traveling with his wife Chris and enjoying their grandson.

“I hope I have added some humor and entertainment,” he said.

Following are some moments in time from Hodges’ tenure with the city of Lowell. Hodges participated in countless city parades and in the Riverwalk flushing of the city manager.

A Loyal public servant.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

No ordinary Friday

Not just another Friday

This post is also in response to the Daily Post prompt “Ordinary” at
Ordinary

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI -Today is definitely not an ordinary day. It’s not an ordinary Friday in the year 2017. It hasn’t been an ordinary week in mid-March.

Even though it’s a gray day in West Michigan, we have moved forward in time since we hit the Spring Equinox on Monday, March 20. Our energies and vibrations have been shifting with everything new, including new beginnings. To our great enjoyment, we’ve seen new life coming out of the hard ground after the long winter months.

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Sadly, we’ve witnessed the tragedy with the London attacks on Wednesday.

And the House is still expected to vote later in the afternoon on a bill to repeal Obamacare, a vote postponed from yesterday. The vote will affect most people living in the USA. So far, the reports of the repeal are not good for President Donald Trump, according to major news media.

As such, this Friday has been the culmination of many precipitating events, both internationally, locally and personally. Mr. Trump much like the majority of the Republican Party have been using the repeal of Obamacare as their staple agenda that secured the victory in the presidential election.

If I quickly look at the social media buzz, I see an overwhelming relief that we’ve made it to Friday with a quote from Goodreads for March 24, 2017 from Tennessee Williams:

“I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?”

The quote is from Williams’ play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Currently, we could say the entire GOP is sitting on its own “hot tin roof.”

But, that could also be true for any of us, because whatever we are sitting or standing on changes from day to day. This change makes every day special.

The greater Lowell community has been working toward its annual Lowell Community Expo that takes place tomorrow, March 25th, for the entire year. So, have the individual participating organizations and vendors.

Don’t forget to stop by at the Fallasburg Historical Society booth 129 in the Cafe of the Lowell High School tomorrow.

I have resolved some of my not-so-ordinary issues this week, as well.

A flaky relationship that has been running on burnt fuel of the past came to an end also on Wednesday to my great relief after days of struggling, aka “sitting on a hot tin roof.”

On a very positive note, I observed the five months anniversary of my new life this week. I continue my work on the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir © 2017 copyright Emma Palova. I have given an extraordinary push to the new app in the works.

There is no such thing as an ordinary day in the life of any of us.

Make every day a special day.

For more info about the Lowell Expo go to http://www.lowellexpo.org

Check out daily quotes on Goodreads at goodreads.com

For Fallasburg info go to http://fallasburgtoday.org or http://www.fallasburg.org

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved

Graceful

In search of grace

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I write this not only in response to the Daily Post @graceful photo prompt, but also to find solace and reprieve in grace.

Graceful

Contrary to my better judgment, I’ve been writing a lot about politics lately. I don’t know if I’ve been doing that to make myself feel better or more responsive to what has been going on in North America, UK and the Middle East.

And I still don’t know if it was the journalist bursting out of me, or the Czech ex-patriot living currently in America. I guess, I’ll never know.

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Graceful orchids in full bloom at the end of January.

Somebody once said that the worst thing of all is “indifference.” No matter, how hard I try to be immune to it all, the current affairs just bug me.

I am trying to find the grace in me, to accept the future of democracy.

Along with writing about religion, writing about politics, no matter how unbiased, usually gets me into trouble. I really don’t need any distraction at a time when I’ve picked up the momentum to finish the “Greenwich Meridian” memoir about the Konecny family immigration saga.

After coming back from Aunt Marta’s funeral in mid January in Czech Republic, I was so re-energized to finish the memoir, and to pursue the greater Konecny Saga picture. I made space for it in my mind, in my studio and in my work day.

I’ve gathered the necessary research, started the Ancestry Konecny Facebook page, caught up with the Alumni ZDS Stipa page to set the stage for everything to finally wrap up. I have built up the following on social media and most platforms that I know of. I hooked up with a dear director friend whom we seem to have similar goals, at times.

Thanks to my never-ending insomnia, I am caught up with client projects into 2017 as they constantly evolve. I did all the little bureaucracy that I needed to do, put things in fancy five-star folders, and such. I straightened my affairs both here and there, and in between.

I’ve communicated and answered messages both domestic and foreign; on messenger, on text, on Skype, and on phone.

I said hi to an old friend of Irish origin at church last Sunday. I  asked about the immigrant family from Africa that the church had sponsored in 2016. I was supposed to teach them English as a Second Language (ESL), but other projects came up.

“Oh, I’ve been neglecting them since it’s so cold outside,” he said. “I really feel bad.”

“Me too,” I thought, without any particular reference to anything.

So what happened? The world happened. I am burnt out like a candle, like the fire in our wood stove.

Even host Alfonso Ribeiro on AFV last Sunday said, “I am out like acid-washed jeans or mullets.”

It’s a cold early afternoon in January. The day is grayish, and so are my heart and soul.

“So, what are you going to do for yourself, today,” Facebook friend Fiosa posted this Monday morning.

Somebody out there on that vast Internet sea responded:

“I am going to look for a job.”

Just before reading that, I arranged my beautiful collection of blooming orchids for a photo shoot for the @graceful photo prompt.

If I really love anything and need anything when I feel whipped, it’s these enigmatic flowers. They literally speak to me in their own language with their beautiful shapes and colors and their bold structure.

They come into full bloom during the deepest frosts Up North in Michigan. They engage in nothing but themselves, in their own grace.

Where do you find grace?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/graceful/#respond

Thank you for being.

Love always,

Emma

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

10 Actions in 100 Days

IW Inspiring Women Sharon Ellison

Note: This IW winter series features inspiring women from all walks of life who strive to make a difference in other people’s lives.

orchids-log

The difference in the society these women make is not measured by money or accolades they receive. It is measured by the progress in the society, because we as a nation cannot go backwards.

The IW series which leads up to the International Women’s Day on March 8th was also inspired by a dedication note on “365 ways to Relax mind, body & soul” from my son Jake:

“I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” -Kuba

Nominate a woman who has made a difference in your life for this series.

Lowell woman shows passion for human rights, marches in Washington

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Sharon Ellison

Name: Sharon Ellison

Residence: Lowell, MI

Occupation: retired from Lowell Area Schools

Family: husband Tony, sons Steve and Tony

Interests: travelling, art

Education: bachelor’s from Central Michigan University

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – It was a solid wall to wall crowd between the main route on Independence Avenue and 14th Street, where Lowell resident Sharon Ellison and team ended up last Saturday during the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

“We could not reach the main parade on Independence and Third Street, because it was a solid wall of people,” Ellison said. “There was no break in the crowd.”

So, instead the team made their way to 14th Street were the parade was headed.

“I felt fenced in,” she said. “There were solid walls of people all around us.”

However, in spite of the crowds, the march was peaceful, according to Ellison.

“Everyone was respectful and polite,” she said. “There were only three police cars. We were looking out for each other. I did not feel vulnerable.”

There was a woman who went into labor and an ambulance had to make its way through the crowds.

But there were also some embarrassing moments like when someone questioned why women from Michigan were at the march.

“I felt sad for Michigan, whose electoral votes were for Trump,” Ellison said.

The crowds in Washington D.C. were estimated at 250,000, while worldwide around three million protestors gathered in major cities.

Ellison and other women carried signs bearing the name of those who couldn’t come: whether live or in memory of. Ellison gathered 74 signatures including memorial signatures of late family members.

“I felt those women were with me that day,” she said. “The atmosphere was peaceful, everyone wanted to be present.”

Ellison is no stranger to the Lowell community located at the confluence of Flat and Grand Rivers in northeast Kent County known as “The next place to be.”

Ellison, who is now retired, worked for the Lowell Middle School for 16 years, and she served on the Lowell City Council for eight years.

In the 1990s, Ellison with husband Tony had a video store in different locations around town.

Ellison enjoys travelling around the world and getting to know other cultures.

However, due to the events of the previous 19 months of the presidential campaign, Ellison felt she needed to do more than just complain.

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“I went to D.C. for the Women’s March out of fear of what might happen,” she said.

Fountain Street Church of Grand Rapids organized last Saturday’s trip to Washington D.C. However, the charter buses were sold out early on, so the church also organized a local Women’s March in Grand Rapids.

“By sharing our experiences, writing to our representatives and making phone calls, we’re going to keep the movement going,” said Ellison on the future of the movement.

Ellison said there is no way of going back in protecting human rights.

“If any group is marginalized, we all lose,” she said. “We can’t go back.”

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Unlike at the inauguration on Jan. 20, the metro trains were packed, according to Ellison.

“We rode the metro, but we had trouble getting in,” she said. “We were met by walls of people. The best we could do was to march on 14th Street to Constitution Avenue. It was amazing, you could hear the wave of people moving.”

Ellison said she went to the Women’s March in Washington for the same reason, she ran for a seat on the Lowell city council in 2015.

“I did stand up to make a difference,” she said. “I don’t want to be just politically correct. You get tired of banging your head against the wall.”

Ellison’s biggest pet peeve are bullies in any environment.

“I couldn’t tolerate it at work, as a child, or as a politician,” she said. “We wanted to send a definite message that this is not okay.”

And it’s time for action.

“We’ve gone past words,” she said. “We have to do something. This is the upside of the downside.”

Other women present in D.C. from the Grand Rapids area along with Ellison were: Nancy Misner, Alice Harwood, Kathy Sainz, Maria Lara, Nancy Misner, Shelli Otten.

Join 10 actions for the first 100 Days.

For more info go to http://www.womensmarch.com

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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