MacKenzie’s Bakery coming to Vicksburg

MacKenzie’s Bakery, which closed in Kalamazoo at the end of 2020, will open later this year in downtown Vicksburg under the ownership of Vicksburg native Chris Moore.

Moore acquired the bakery’s assets, including the brand, recipes and equipment, from Water Street Coffee Joint owner Mark Smutek in a deal completed April 19 on undisclosed terms. The new company will produce wholesale bread to area retailers and restaurants.

Mackenzies Vicksburg – the business will drop the upper-case K and the apostrophe – will open at a Moore-owned property 103 E. Prairie Street. The 1,700-square-foot location will primarily serve as a kitchen and distribution facility, but the bakery may eventually offer retail products via a small storefront space. The building is attached to 101 E. Prairie, also owned by Moore. The facades of the adjoining two-story buildings have been restored as part of Moore’s stated mission to revitalize downtown Vicksburg and restore many of its original buildings into historic centerpieces.

Moore, owner of The Mill at Vicksburg, an $80-million mixed-use project in development on the west end of the village, said he grew up enjoying MacKenzie’s baked goods and jumped at the chance to revitalize the brand and help bring more business to the village. Moore has said his vision is to create a “thriving Vicksburg.”

“Downtown Vicksburg is going to smell great with the aroma of Mackenzies bread,” Moore said. He resides in Seattle where he operates Concord Technologies and Old Stove Brewing, but frequently visits Vicksburg for extended periods.

After MacKenzie’s closed, the brand, web domain name and equipment were purchased by Smutek. Moore’s Vicksburg leadership team, led by Chief Operating Officer Jackie Koney, was approached by a mutual acquaintance who connected them to Smutek, leading to the acquisition.

The MacKenzie’s equipment has been transferred to Vicksburg, where Koney’s team will work to complete renovation plans.

Former owner John MacKenzie has signed on to help consult the new owners during startup. Additional full- and part-time staff will be hired to manage daily operations. The focus at first is on wholesale bread.

“We are looking to bring Mackenzies bread into store and dining establishments across Southwest Michigan, so our immediate focus is to gear up for large-scale bread production,” Koney said. “Once we get settled, we’ll evaluate expanding product offerings and delivery channels.”

The move into downtown Vicksburg was welcomed by Village leadership. “We look forward to welcoming a new iteration of MacKenzie’s into downtown Vicksburg,” said Village Manager Jim Mallery. “There is a lot of potential for growth with Mackenzies Vicksburg’s products and sales channels, so we are excited to have them up and running and adding to our downtown charm.”

Mackenzies Vicksburg expects to share more information on opening dates and product offerings later this summer.

Eagle wrestlers: District champions

By Mark Blentlinger

Coach Rob Ling took his Eagle grapplers into district championships on March 20. The Eagles didn’t disappoint, beating White Pigeon 63-11 to emerge as district champions.

The team also crowned six individual district champions: Ryan Ling, Jett Gott, Tagg Gott, Jimmy Downs, Hunter Martens and Gary Cramer, and the Eagles sent 10 individual wrestlers to regional championships on March 27.

First the team had to wrestle at the regional team championships in Cassopolis on the 25th. The Eagles faced off against Lawton, the high school Eagles’ Coach Lings had attended. The Eagles came out on top, winning the regional championship, 36-31, with wins from wrestlers Calib Lipscomb, Gary Cramer, Riley Cochran, Jett Gott, Tagg Gott, Jimmy Downs and Connar Webb.

This win sent the Eagles to another team state championship on March 30th at the Wings Event Center. There, the wrestling season ended for both the Hudson Tigers and the Schoolcraft Eagles. Both teams had wrestled with an ineligible wrestler. Hudson had won the match 61-15.

On the 27th, it was the individual wrestlers’ turn, either to win a regional championship or head to state as an individual. Although no Eagles would be crowned regional champions, five punched their ticket to the state championships on April 2-3 at VanAndel Arena – Carsten Svoboda 103, Layne DeLoof 119, Gary Cramer 135, Tagg Gott 189 and Jimmy Downs 215.

Schoolcraft in state wrestling championship

By Mark Blentlinger

Following Schoolcraft’s victories in March district contests, in April it entered five wrestlers in individual state championships at Van Andel Arena: Carsten Svoboda at 103 pounds, Layne DeLoof at 119, Gary Cramer at 135, Tagg Gott at 189 and Jimmy Downs at 215.

Downs scratched his chance at a championship when contact tracing indicated he might have contracted COVID-19, leaving him unable to compete for his final event.

Tagg Gott was the first Schoolcraft wrestler on the mat, facing Justice Onstott of St. Louis. The match went all three periods and Gott squeaked out the win with an 8-7 score, sending him to quarterfinals.

Svoboda was pinned by Trennen Smith of Mio, sending him into the loser bracket. He won his first match by receiving a bye.

DeLoof faced Ayden Sturtevant-Roes from Hesperia. That match went all three periods, but DeLoof was unable to put any points on the board and lost 9-0. He then entered the consolation round where it’s win or go home. He was pinned by Memphis’ Troy Trombley.

Cramer wrestled Aden Baynes of Lainsburg. After the first period, the score was 0-0. Cramer pinned his opponent with 40 seconds to go in the 2nd period, sending him onto the next round.

DeLoof faced Troy Trombley of Memphis in the consolation round. He held his own but was eventually pinned to end his run at state.

Svoboda faced an opponent he had already seen this season: Caleb Mallory from Lawton. Down 0-5 at the end of the first period, Svoboda never gave up. His season ended with Mallory pinning him with a minute left in the 2nd period.

At 135 pounds, Cramer was up against the number 1 seed, Harris Raab from Bark River. Raab had a 30-1 record while Cramer was at 24-3. With 51 seconds left in period 2, Rabb got Cramer on his back, continuing to the semi-finals.

Gott wrestled Russel Wilson from Whittemore Prescott. At the start of the third period, Gott was down 0-1, but he turned it around and ended up winning 6-3, advancing to the semi-finals.

Cramer won his next 2 matches. With 1 more win, Cramer wrestled for 3rd place. His opponent was Landis Gillman of Clinton High School. With the score 4-4 with a minute left, Gillman achieved the takedown and advanced onto the 3rd place match, sending Cramer to the 5th or 6th place match. There, he fell just shy of 5th place, losing 3-5 and finishing in 6th.

In semi-final competition, Gott was matched with Logan Badge. Gott was pinned by the eventual State Champion, sending him to the 3rd place match where he faced Kody Krupp of New Lothrop. Gott ended his sophomore season in 4th place, losing the match 6-12.

Simplicity

Last summer in our ever-expanding garden.

There are many popular movements today, encouraging us to restructure, reduce and live uncluttered lives. Subscribers claim that the result of living a life of excess is time spent worrying and taking care of what we have; if we can clear our space and minds of the extras, we have more time for joy, and we experience more happiness.

I certainly have more than I need, and sometimes my belongings, and yes, my schedule, can cause me some stress.

Even little Zippy, our one-year-old Boston, has a box overflowing with toys and a regular supply of chews and small treats. He has more than enough, and I’ve been surprised by his reaction.

Here’s what happens: I give Zippy a special chew when I return from the grocery store. He sniffs it, takes it gently in his mouth and then hides it. He becomes obsessed with keeping it safe. He searches for just the right spot: behind a curtain, under a pillow, beside his bed. He fusses with it and scoots away, only to quickly change his mind. He then picks it up and begins the process again. While this does keep him occupied and distracted, and he avoids the occasional puppy-chewing-destruction, it seems hard for him to relax. He is continually worried about arranging it and keeping it safe.

According to my Google search, this behavior is common in dogs, and can be a result of several things, including instincts and stress. But here is a reason listed again and again: this behavior can occur when a dog has more than he needs. Bingo!

The more we have, the more we must take care of. Certainly, our families have needs: shelter, food, clothing, and a household budget that runs regularly in the black. These things are necessary for quality of life and security for our loved ones. The challenge is to achieve a balance between preparing for a rainy day and enjoying the moment. But most of us would agree that too many belongings and commitments can keep us stressed and obsessed.

For me, excessiveness is best demonstrated by our gardens. What started as an 8-by-4-feet perennial bed twenty-five years ago, is now a yard filled gardens that follow our fencing, grow under our trees, and occupy the ever-developing island beds. Each year, it seems, we divide plants, move plants, add plants, increasing and intensifying the work required. Yes, the lush foliage and beautiful blossoms are lovely, and we do enjoy them, but the gardens are hours of work, especially in the spring. While I don’t worry about our gardens like Zippy seems to fret about his bones, it does consume lots of our energy and time.

Simplicity. We are gradually adjusting to the idea of downsizing. Now that we are nearing retirement (and our knees and backs ache after an afternoon of pulling weeds or mulching) simplifying our outdoor space seems wise. This is an adjustment for me, and it is wrapped in the need to acknowledge and accept this human experience of aging.

We will divide perennials and give away some plants this year, and we will remove high maintenance plants. Perhaps some of the space in the existing gardens will be reseeded and rejoin the grassy yard. Maybe I won’t bring home as many new plants from the nurseries and greenhouses – but I fall for those colorful beauties’ siren songs every time.

Simplicity. I’m going to do my best to streamline our gardening life and relax a bit more.

I hope Zippy can relax a bit, too!

It’s a Fine Life.

Sunny days in South County

Some of the artists behind the “Mind of Mine 2021” art exhibit pose in front of Prairie Ronde Gallery in Downtown Vicksburg, where the event will kick off May 14.

We hope you enjoy our May edition. It is filled with news of local organizations and some new features, including a monthly column about collections and our fourth recipe offering.

Thanks to our advertisers and readers for your support of our little paper. It allows us to continue to bring you the good news!

May Meander in the Historic Village

The Vicksburg Historical Society will be celebrating its 2021 opening season with the organization’s May Meander. The event will be held at the Historic Village on May 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. It is free to the public, all the buildings will be open and COVID-safe refreshments will be served. Local service groups and businesses are invited to register for booth space. The Historical Society will also kick off the 2021 Speaker Series at 2 p.m. in the Township Hall building. Organizations and individuals looking to find out more can visit vicksburghistory.org/meander.

Vicksburg Farmers Market

The board of the Vicksburg Farmers Market is busy preparing for its 12th season. President Stella Shearer says everything will be ready for the market opening day on May 21. The Vicksburg Farmers Market is held Fridays from 2-6 p.m.

Johnson Performs at Concordia University, Nebraska

Concordia music students performed in the annual Spring Honor Recital on March 30 that was livestreamed on the music department’s Facebook page. Nathan Johnson, junior, from Vicksburg, played “Polonaise in C minor, Op. 40, no. 2” by Frederic Chopin during the annual Spring Honor Recital on March 30, livestreamed on the music department’s Facebook page.

Preston Earns All-Conference Honors at Angelo State University

In San Angelo, Texas, seven members of the Angelo State University Belles volleyball team, including Morgan Preston of Vicksburg, have earned Lone Star Conference postseason awards for their performances during the 2021 spring season that saw the Belles win their second straight LSC Championship.

Rosey Named MIAA Athlete of the Week

Trine University freshman Adrienne Rosey, from Schoolcraft, has been named this week’s Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) softball pitcher of the week. Rosey came up with three key appearances during the week as the team finished 5-1. In total, she finished the week with 16 strikeouts in 10 innings, while allowing just four hits and two runs for an ERA of 0.70.

Old Car Festival is Back

The 40th Vicksburg Old Car Festival June 11 and 12. More details to follow in the June edition of the South County News.

“Mind of Mine 2021” Art Exhibit

This year’s AP Drawing Art students enrolled at Vicksburg High School have the opportunity to share their original pieces in the Prairie Ronde Gallery in Vicksburg. The students titled their collective work “Mind of Mine 2021.” This exhibit will allow each student to reveal his or her personality to the public in a different light.

This event will be held in person with mask and social distancing requirements. The opening reception will be on Friday, May 14th from 6-8pm, with showings on Saturday, May 15th 2-5pm and Sunday, May 16th from 2-5pm. Digital galleries and more information on the event can be found at vicksburgarts.com.

Generous Hands launches Blessing Box program

By Paula Schriemer

Larry Forsyth and Sheri Louis present a Blessing Box.

Generous Hands provides food, grocery vouchers, school supplies and menstrual products for families in Vicksburg. The pandemic has increased the need for food and presented obstacles to food distribution. In order to overcome these barriers, we have adapted the way we operate and are launching a new program called “The Blessing Box”.

The Blessing Box concept (also termed Little Free Pantry) is a take-off on the “Little Free Library” idea in which volunteers place and tend a “library” to encourage the sharing of books among neighborhood friends. Several of these libraries operate in Vicksburg already.

As explained on their website littlefreepantry.org, “Jessica McClard launched the grassroots mini-pantry movement in May 2016 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, when she planted the Little Free Pantry Pilot, a wooden box on a post containing food, personal care, and paper items accessible to everyone all the time, no questions asked. She hoped her spin on the Little Free Library concept would pique local awareness of food insecurity while creating a space for neighbors to help meet neighborhood food needs. A little over a month later, Crystal Rock Cathedral Women’s Ministries planted a Blessing Box in Ardmore, Oklahoma. By August 2016, the movement was global. Throughout the US and internationally, the grassroots mini-pantry movement continues growing and moving. Whether a need for food or a need to give, mini pantries help feed neighbors, nourishing neighborhoods.”

Currently, littlefreepantry.org provides a listing for the location of over 1800 Little Free Pantries in the U.S., allowing easy access for people in need.

In that same spirit, Generous Hands has begun providing non-perishable food as well as hygiene items (including shampoo, soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste and toilet paper) in our first Blessing Box. Local volunteer and woodworker, Larry Forsyth, assembled this sturdy box and installed it in front of Generous Hands and South County Community Services’ location at 606 Spruce St in early March. It is labeled with the Little Free Pantry motto: “Take what you need, give what you can.” Supplies are replenished daily.

A second Blessing Box will be opening soon at Portage Terrace off Portage Road. Sheri Louis, executive director of Generous Hands, notes, “We are so excited to launch the Blessing Box program. We hope this will be a way for our neighbors in Vicksburg to access nutritious food when they need it.” Additional locations are being considered as the program expands.

If you would like to help with the Blessing Box program, or have ideas for new locations for Blessing Boxes, please contact Sheri Louis at 269-370-7965 or slouis916@aol.com.

Calling all collectors!


We are adding a monthly column, “South County Collectors,” by Jef Rietsma, featuring area residents and their collections. Do you have something you collect? Bottle caps? Beer cans? Fossils? African violets? We will feature a different collection each month.

Send your feature idea to kforsythesouthcountynews@gmail.com.

Harbingers of spring

By Jeanne Church

When I first started thinking about this month’s nature article, we were still in the waning days of February. It was unseasonably warm and easy enough to imagine a day in the not-too-distant future where migrant birds and other fair-weather creatures would return.

For many of us in Michigan, the American robin is considered the quintessential “harbinger of spring.” I grew up believing this as well; that once the robins arrived, spring would officially be here. It wasn’t until I started taking pictures that I discovered some robins never leave! Other spring enthusiasts consider the eastern bluebird to be a harbinger of spring, but they too are in this area throughout the year.

Both robins and bluebirds can survive the cold winter days of Michigan by eating wild fruits and berries that have been left on various shrubs, trees and vines. It came as quite a surprise, though, to learn just how many different plants we have that provide this critical food source for robins and bluebirds as well as others who overwinter here. Some of those fruit-bearing plants include red cedars, dogwood, hackberry, sumac, wild grape, holly, juniper, mistletoe and poison ivy!

My spring harbinger happens to be the male red-winged blackbird. It shows up in late February or early March when temperatures sometimes creep into the 50s and 60s and we are lulled into believing that winter is finally over.

What first grabs my attention, before I even see the first red-winged blackbird, is its song; an unmistakable sound that’s familiar to many, but one that is difficult for me to explain. The Cornell website, allaboutbirds.org, describes it this way: “The male red-winged blackbird’s conk-la-ree! is a classic sound of wetlands across the continent. The 1-second song starts with an abrupt note that turns into a musical trill.”

It is that musical trill that first alerts me to the coming of spring.

Not long after the red-winged blackbird makes an appearance, you’ll undoubtedly hear the “singing” of the spring peepers, an extremely small chorus frog that lives in moist, wooded areas and grassy lowlands near ponds and wetlands. It is about the size of your thumbnail and weighs only slightly more than a tenth of an ounce. Compare this to the American bullfrog at eight inches in length and a whopping two or more pounds!

I love nothing better than falling asleep on a warm spring evening to the joyful noise of all the spring peepers down by our creek.

Whatever your particular “harbinger of spring” happens to be, warmer days are definitely ahead! You can shed your
winter coat for good and breathe in all the wonderful sights, sounds and smells that the perfect spring day has to offer! Enjoy!

https://picturewalks.org

Tournament of Writers competition now open

A collection of Small Town Anthologies containing the work of winning Tournament of Writers contestants.

By Jake Munson

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center is now accepting submissions for the Seventh Annual Tournament of Writers. The tournament is a local writing competition for writers in the genres of fiction, nonfiction and poetry and is open to eligible authors in the four age groups: Youth – through 7th grade, Young adult – 8th grade through 25 years old, Adult – ages 26 through 50, and Senior – ages 51 and above.

Each writer may submit one piece per category for a maximum of three entries. All entries must be received by midnight on Friday, June 4. 

Prior to the submission deadline, the VCAC will host writing clinics for participants to receive both creative and critical feedback on their work. Guest authors are also being scheduled for live Zoom events in order to share insights into their own creative processes. Watch the VCAC social media accounts and website for dates and times of these clinics and guest speakers. 

Once the entries are received, local authors, educators and book lovers will evaluate all submissions using an established rubric. Winners will be announced on Friday, July 2 with prizes awarded for first, second and third place in each category and division. The location for this announcement has yet to be determined, but the VCAC has made provisions to make the announcement virtually if pandemic restrictions persist.

One special feature the tournament offers is the publication of the “Small Town Anthology,” a compilation of all works accepted into the competition. A celebration and book signing event is scheduled for September 16. The Judges’ Choice winner, selected from the first and second place entries, will be announced at this time. The VCAC is prepared to hold the event virtually if pandemic restrictions persist.

Writers can access the new, improved submission form online at the VCAC’s website, vicksburgarts.com. Those who wish to enter the competition but prefer an alternative to the online process may call the VCAC for instructions. There is an entry fee of $10 per writer this year. This provides writers with access to the writing clinics, submission of up to three entries, scores and feedback from the judges and a copy of “Small Town Anthology, vol VII.” Scholarships are available.

The Tournament of Writers isn’t the only program the VCAC has planned. A student-led art exhibit, “Mind of Mine: 2021, A Collective Exhibition of Vicksburg High School AP Art Students,” will be opening Saturday May 14. For the younger set, another exciting “Arts in the Burg” day camp returns this summer. The camp for 8 to 12-year-olds is a unique multi-disciplinary art experience and can’t be missed. Until then, happy writing!

Information for the Seventh Annual Tournament of Writers can be found on the VCAC website at vicksburgarts.com/tournament-of-writers or by calling (269) 200-2223.

South County vaccine clinic a success

Nearly 500 people were vaccinated at Vicksburg High School gym.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

The Kalamazoo County Health Department vaccinated nearly 500 South County residents in a March 30 clinic at the Vicksburg High School gym. Recipients received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine free of charge.

Executive Director Drew Johnson of South County Community Services (SCCS), said 487 vaccines were administered. The agency made the vaccine available to 18-and-older residents of Vicksburg and Schoolcraft villages and townships of Pavilion, Climax, Wakeshma, Brady, Schoolcraft and Prairie Ronde townships. The clinic used the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because the targeted recipients were those who might be unable to travel to the bigger clinics in Kalamazoo. The one-shot vaccine has been shown to be extremely effective at keeping people safe.

Johnson, whose agency was actively involved in the scheduling and outreach, was pleased. “We were very happy that we didn’t fill up until the day before the clinic, which to us meant that we had the correct number of vaccines available for the area.”

Johnson indicated the agency had adequate time to reach out to clients, many of whom are “older or living with conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19.” SCCS personnel contacted over 350 seniors and provided transportation as needed.

“This was a true partnership,” Johnson said. “The County of Kalamazoo was great to work with throughout the process and very well-organized.” Johnson also expressed appreciation for the Vicksburg Community Schools who made available a space with plenty of room for social distancing.