08.30.16

Day 2 #RideMI Motorcycle Tour: Peters Visits Camp Grayling, Clare & Reed City

REED CITY, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters began Day Two of his #RideMI Motorcycle Tour with a tour at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, the largest National Guard training facility in the United States. Camp Grayling provides year-round training and coordination exercises among multiple branches of the military. Peters toured the simulation center that includes a virtual firing range and Humvee and MRAP simulator, as well as Grayling Army Airfield, which will house the future cyber training center currently under construction. Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, introduced bipartisan legislation to extend a tax credit for businesses that provide differential pay to National Guardsmen and Reservists called to serve on active duty. This tax credit was permanently extended last year as part of a year-end tax bill. 

“As a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, I am so proud of our state’s strong military tradition, and Camp Grayling is a prime example of the great work happening in Michigan to keep America safe and secure,” said Senator Peters. “Our Reservists and National Guardsmen stand ready to defend our nation at a moment’s notice, and I will continue to advocate for Michigan’s servicemembers, military installations and defense manufacturing sector in the U.S. Senate.”

After his visit to Camp Grayling, Peters traveled to Clare, where he presented five military medals and honors to the family of a World War II veteran, U.S. Army Sergeant Norman Walter Ott. A Michigan native who passed away in 2015, Sgt. Ott served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater from 1943-1945. In the midst of an attack, Sgt. Ott endangered his own life to save that of his fellow servicemember who was seriously injured. Peters’ office helped secure the commendations after being contacted by Mr. Ott’s family to ensure his contributions to our nation were properly honored. The awards presented included the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, U.S. Army’s Good Conduct Medal, World War II Honorable Service Lapel Button and American Campaign Medal.

 “I am honored to present these commendations to Mr. Ott’s family in recognition of his service and sacrifice during World War II. Sergeant Ott is a true American hero, who was willing to lay his own life on the line to save his fellow servicemembers,” said Senator Peters. “The bravery, courage, and selflessness of servicemembers like Sergeant Ott is why our nation stands as a beacon of democracy and freedom for the world.”

Peters’ final stop was Reed City, where he met with community leaders and officials from Connect Michigan to learn more about their collaborative effort to expand broadband in Osceola County. Reed City is now a “Gigabit Community” with over 98% of census blocks in Osceola County having access to broadband.

“Every Michigander deserves equal access to the internet in order to live, work and learn in today’s connected world. Yet 87% of rural Americans lack access to broadband, leaving them at a significant disadvantage,” said Senator Peters. “I applaud leaders in Osceola County for their work to address the challenges faced by businesses, employees, students, and all those without reliable coverage in Northern Michigan. I will continue working in the Senate to close the digital divide and ensure everyone in our state has the opportunity to use dependable internet service.”

“I see broadband as a quality of life issue”, said Dan Massy, Osceola County Community Development Coordinator.  “It is more than just an economic development issue.  Whether education, healthcare, government, or business it touches almost every aspect of a community.  I applaud Senator Peters’ efforts to expand reliable broadband access so that we can improve the lives of citizens across all of Michigan.” 

Earlier this year, the Senate Commerce Committee passed Peters’ amendment to require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to report to Congress on existing data collection practices for fixed and mobile broadband coverage and offer recommendations on improvements in order to help update the National Broadband Map. Broadband coverage is often overstated, and as a result, there is not an accurate picture of where coverage is actually available and where it needs to be improved. He also recently joined 26 of his colleagues in urging the FCC to update the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Mobility Fund to prioritize new mobile broadband deployment in rural and underserved areas.

According to Connect Michigan, nearly one-half of working-age Michigan adults (44%) rely on the Internet to seek or apply for jobs, while nearly one-quarter (22%) go online to further their education by taking online classes. According to the FCC, 52.2 million rural Americans (87%) lack access to mobile broadband with minimum advertised speeds of 10 Mbps/1 Mbps, compared to 45 percent of those living in urban areas.

Tomorrow, Senator Peters’ #RideMI Motorcycle Tour continues in Mecosta, Newaygo, and Allegan counties.