Celebration of the Arts in Vicksburg

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Concert band members of the saxophone section perform during the 2015 Celebration of the Arts concert.

By Sue Moore

Imagine over 700 Vicksburg school kids massed on the bleachers and floor of the high school gym, playing and singing their hearts out for an audience of parents and friends.

Imagine it, then look for it at Vicksburg High School on April 20.

It’s part of a districtwide Celebration of the Arts, held just every two or three years; it takes a mountain of preparation time and logistics, said high school Band Director Ben Rosier.

If the music doesn’t get your heart thumping a little faster, then the sight of art work up and down the halls of the high school will make one stop in appreciation. There are some very talented artists growing up in the community as well as musicians.

The show will come together for the districtwide Celebration on the 20th, a Thursday, starting with a dance performance at 5 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, ending with a collage concert at 7 p.m. in the gym. The event is led by Rosier and Ravenna Kahler, Choir Director Dusty Morris, film and video teacher Troy Smith and art teachers Krista Ragotzy and Andy Lindeman in the high school. Teachers of music and art in the grade schools also contribute with their student work on exhibition. They include music teachers Patty Heintzelman, Patty Stoll and Betsy Craig and art teachers Jake Biernacki, Whitney Bast and Anna Lacey. A dance performance will be followed by a video presentation at 5:30, and a tour of the many art displays in the hallways at 6 p.m.

At the concert, every group will play or sing one piece, then combine for a massed band and vocal presentation. The whole show moves like clockwork with never a down moment, Rosier said. He will have musicians from the six, seventh, eighth grade bands, the Concert Band, wind ensemble, and both jazz bands, the Early Dogs and Top Dogs.

Morris will showcase the Chamber Singers, the Chorale, Simply Men and the Treble Choir. Many hours of practice go into each group’s music presentation, proving that the fine arts are alive and well in the Vicksburg school district. These musicians are required to maintain high academic standards. Some students double in band, choir and art. Many of them have gone on to earn a place in their college bands and choirs, Rosier said.

It’s truly a Celebration of the Arts, one the parents and friends will not want to miss.

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Vicksburg band and choir members from all grades perform at the 2015 Celebration of the Arts.

Swing into Spring for Vicksburg Band Boosters

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Ben Rosier, director of bands in Vicksburg Community Schools.

By Sue Moore

A fundraiser for the band program, planned by the Band Boosters organization, will take place on Friday, April 21 from 6-9 p.m. at the Vicksburg Family Life Center in the United Methodist Church. There will be music of course, a full dinner and lots of kid-friendly activities, according to event chairperson Ann Marie Earl.

The funds will go to help defray expenses for new equipment for the band, since all the large instruments that students play are purchased for them. This includes tympani at a cost of $15,000 to $16,000 apiece, tubas between $7,000 and $8,000 and annual maintenance of instruments that comes in at about $5,000 each year.

In the 2014-15 school year, the Boosters financed the $90,000 purchase of over 200 new uniforms to replace those that had been in service since the early ‘90s. This was paid off and another 40 uniforms were purchased in 2016, as the marching band by that time had swelled to nearly 220 musicians. The high school counts just under 800 students, so the band program itself represents one quarter of all those in grades nine through 12.

Families are encouraged to attend for a fun evening of dinner and entertainment, Earl said. Tickets are $25 per person, $45 for two, with a family of four (or more) topping out at $60. Purchase of tickets before April 15 will save $5 on each attendance level.

Every two or three years the band takes a trip, often to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to play in competition there and perform community service. Members go during spring break for four days in Disney Park, and travel two days there and back by bus. They will play concerts and march through Epcot, in competition with many other bands who have made the trip. Their community service project this year will be helping with maintenance and clean-up of a park in Orlando. When they performed community service two years ago, members voted it as the most memorable part of the trip, said band Director Ben Rosier.

Ladies Library Auxiliary Celebrates 125 Years

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The 16 founding members of the Isabella Club which became the Ladies Library Association and then the Ladies Library Auxiliary, gathered for a formal portrait at the Joy Koones photography studio in Vicksburg in 1891. Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, the lady in the second row, third from left is the editor’s grandmother Jenny Notley Clark. Her two sisters and my aunts are in the back row, fourth and seventh from left, of whom I am very proud.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg maintained a book study group as a going concern as far back as 1891. It was called the Isabella Club then, and became the Ladies Library Association in 1898. It wasn’t easy trying to start as a women’s only club in those heady days of changes for the fair sex, according to their written history. The effort will be recognized by its descendant, the Ladies Library Auxiliary (LLA) from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, April 15 as part of the Library Hop during the month of April at the Vicksburg District Library.

Newspaper articles and individual written histories described the formation and growth of the group:

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone, the wife of the president of Kalamazoo College at the time, reportedly came to Vicksburg to help form the Isabella Club. The idea was for women to unite and devote a year to study Spain in preparation for the World’s Fair in 1893 in Chicago. The organizing meeting took place at Fannie Bair’s home. Members took turns presenting programs. Some wrote poetry or gave recitations. After the first year, the study turned to the history and literature of the U.S., then various countries in Europe.

At times, other subjects were offered. Some of them: The Making of Good Bread (and Pies), The Art of Dressing Well on Nothing a Year; The Scientific Spanking of Children; and How to be Happy Though Married.

In 1892 the ladies purchased a building from a Mr. Jenkinson for $100. It needed to be moved to behind the McElvain House, the present-day Community Center, where there was some vacant land.

Many local males were pessimistic and loudly expressed their opinions. According to reports, they included: “You’ll never move that building where you want it.” “It will break in two before you get it there.” “What did you buy that old building for?” “I wouldn’t give you $10 for it.”

The women triumphed. It was never considered an architectural beauty on the outside, but inside the women had plastered, painted, and papered until it was a pleasant clubhouse and a library for the 462 books they owned.

It wasn’t all study for the women. Teas and banquets were a big part of their lives as well, especially in June when there was a profusion of roses in bloom for livening up the décor. The inevitable need for money raising projects arose. The secretary reported a successful card party during which a “neat little sum of $10 was added to our treasury.”

In 1902, the Association received a marvelous gift from Fannie Bair. She built a library on Maple Street and turned it over to the members to run. The newspaper of the time described it as “practically three stories high with a 40-foot octagon tower and has electricity.” The chandeliers were brass. There were curtains at the windows and a tiled fireplace. The newspaper also said that Mrs. Bair had planned to spend between $3,500 and $4,000 on the building. It cost $5,500. The large room in the library served as the banquet room and the octagon tower was considered the music room. In 1926, an organ was donated from the Congregational Church for that area. It stayed there until 1939 when it was sold for $450 to a church in Indiana.

On the east side of the building were two rooms with books separated into two groups, those of Schoolcraft and those of Vicksburg. Residents were allowed to check out books only from their community’s shelves.

In 1922, the Association had difficulty in becoming incorporated because of its all-female membership. Local lawyers refused to believe that such a group could manage its financial responsibilities, so Kalamazoo attorneys handled the club’s legal matters.

By 1937, the members were meeting every two weeks. In 1943 they switched to monthly meetings. That continues to this day with meetings at 1 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. New members are encouraged to join and the public is often invited.

In 1944, the club offered the building, books and all equipment to the village as a gift so funding could be increased by the state and from other sources. At this point, the Ladies Library Association became the Ladies Library Auxiliary. It continues to supply books and other needed items for the library, including a $5,000 patron’s gift for the library expansion in 1986.

Bronson Purchases Family Doctors of Vicksburg Practice

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Doctors David Schriemer and Karl Kerchief, of Family Doctors of Vicksburg, will join the Bronson Hospital Health Care group on June 1.

By Sue Moore

The announcement that Bronson Health Care unit would be taking over the Family Doctors of Vicksburg medical practice has come as a surprise to the many patients they serve and perhaps the staff of the 106 year-old family practice.

It probably shouldn’t have been since so many small-town doctors are retiring and even closing the doors of their stand-alone practices. However, the search for young doctors to buy in to such a practice can be intimidating to them, said Laurel Barber, vice president of operations for Bronson Health Care. “Newly minted primary care physicians are looking for some sense of security when they graduate from medical school and often prefer a larger health system with greater resources – which potentially can pay better salaries than a private practice.”

Doctors David Schriemer and Karl Kerchief have been in the recruitment mode for some time now with Dr. Katie Grossman leaving for a Humanist position at Borgess and Dr. Ken Franklin retiring. Bronson offers a greater reach overall for recruitment and that was one of the needs they were looking to fulfill. Barber said that the primary care physician is in even greater demand these days with visits going up nationally. People are finding a medical home instead of going to the emergency room for instant care, Barber said.

“We know the Family Doctors practice well. It is very high-quality practice. We believe in it and want to help it grow over time,” Barber said. “We are leasing the space with a fairly long-term commitment to the community. We can’t change the trust issue generated by the closing of the hospital out-patient clinic, but we believe the trust can be built through a transparent relationship in the future and the doctors also feel that way.”

June 1 is the effective date for the transfer of operations to Bronson. There will be employee orientation, an electronic patient records change to the Bronson system, and some insurance provider changes that the staff and patients will recognize, Barber said.

Big Changes to Take Place at Local Medical Practice

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A few of the staff of Family Doctors of Vicksburg in front of the office on Boulevard Street. From left to right: Pam Rhodes, Sherry Robbins and Karen Ray.

Family Doctors of Vicksburg will become part of the Bronson Healthcare system June 1, 2017.

David Schriemer, MD, president of Family Doctors of Vicksburg, explains “The economics of the family practice have changed dramatically over the past decade. We can no longer compete to attract new physicians. We are pleased to become part of the Bronson Healthcare system. This will enhance our ability to attract new physicians to the practice and ensure care for local residents for years to come.”

“This was not an easy decision for us. Lloyd Appell, MD, (partner of FDV 1957-1999) reminded us that the most important thing was to continue to care for patients in Vicksburg. Bronson has made a commitment to stay in Vicksburg and grow the practice.”

Dean Kindler, MD, chief medical officer of Bronson Medical Groups came to Vicksburg to tell the staff, “We are excited for you to become part of Bronson. You have an excellent reputation in the area”.

There will be changes. The practice name becomes Bronson Family Practice Vicksburg. The computer software programs change. Job responsibilities may change.

Laser Skin Care will continue. Dr. Kerchief, Dr. Schriemer, Kathy Fenton-Miller, FNP, Debra Klinger, FNP, will continue to care for patients right where they are. “Most importantly,” says Dr. Schriemer, “the soul of the practice, our commitment to care for the community and treat patients as persons and not illnesses, will not change. I’m excited for the future. The potential to grow is very real.”

Vicksburg District Library Participates in ‘Library Hop’

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Linda Adams, Stephanie Willoughby, Eric Hansen, and John Sheridan out in front of the Vicksburg District Library offer a Passport for visitors to pick up at the library for admittance to all the other libraries participating in the Library Hop in April.

By Eric Hansen

Linda Adams, office and community engagement manager of the Vicksburg District Library, is coordinating the first annual Library Hop among 11 libraries in the South County area and even further afield. The Hop is scheduled April 1-30.

The idea came from a conversation between Linda and a friend who had attended Quilt Shop Hops. Linda’s acquaintance suggested that a Library Hop would be a wonderful opportunity for patrons to take a road trip with family and friends. A passport will be issued for the hop by participating libraries, providing information about the facilities and programs during the month.

The Vicksburg District Library hopes to gain hundreds of additional visitors to the library; Linda hopes this will become a yearly staple to create tourism and socialization among residents of participating area towns. Linda also wants the program to encourage people to think about visiting local libraries while they are on vacation.

Welcome packets are available to visitors who come to Vicksburg District Library to obtain a passport. These include brochures from local businesses and flyers detailing services at participating libraries. Each of the libraries will provide programs to encourage travelers to schedule visits. The Vicksburg District Library is providing adult and children’s programs for visitors and local patrons.

Patrons can obtain a Library Hop Passport at any participating libraries and are encouraged to plan a road trip according to the hours of their destination library since they each have different hours.

At each library a patron will receive a stamp in the passport. At the end of the Library Hop program patrons may redeem their individual passports at Vicksburg District Library. Patrons who have at least eight stamps in their passports will receive a prize and become eligible for a drawing for a gift basket. Passports obtained at other libraries must be redeemed at those libraries. Patrons in neighboring districts are encouraged to contact their home libraries to learn what incentives are available.

By developing a regional Library Hop, Vicksburg District Library expects to showcase the charm of local communities and teach people about the range of services that libraries offer. Some of these services are not limited to in-District patrons, but are available to visiting patrons as well.

In Vicksburg, some of the services available to non-residents include free Wi-Fi access, access to desktop computers, drop-in Tai Chi classes for $5 each Thursday, Bridge Club meetings every Tuesday, Quilters Club meetings, Family Storytimes on Monday mornings, Family Movie showings, Button Collectors Club meetings and Knitting Club gatherings.

Library Hop programs at Vicksburg District Library include:

Egg Carving Art Show and Demonstration with Symon Olenezuk and Nancy Peterson on April 8th, 10 A.M. to Noon. Carved egg art will remain on display from April 8-30.

Destination Vicksburg Day on April 15, including a Birthday Celebration Open House hosted by the Ladies Library Auxiliary, from 2-4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to visit local shops and restaurants, the Vicksburg Historical Village and the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, and to drive the Vicksburg Quilt Trail. Information about each of these is available at the library.

Participating libraries and their phone numbers are:

Burr Oak Township Library:
269-489-2906

Colon Township Library:
269-432-3958

Constantine Township Library:
269-435-7957

Lawrence Memorial Library:
269-746-4125

Mendon Township Library:
269-496-4865

Nottawa Township Library:
269-467-6289

Schoolcraft Community Library:
269-679-5959

Sturgis District Library:
269-659-7224

Three Rivers Public Library:
269-273-8666

Vicksburg District Library:
269-649-1648

White Pigeon Township Library:
269-483-7409

‘Reroute’ Meeting in Schoolcraft Scheduled

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Schoolcraft residents meet during last fall’s Reroute, public participation gathering.

By Sue Moore

The public is invited to attend a meeting of Schoolcraft’s “Reroute” project, part of a process toward a new vision and identity for the village. It is a continuation of last fall’s initial workshop which saw about 70 people participating. The meeting will be held in the Schoolcraft High School cafeteria from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11.

Two planning meetings have been held since last fall’s workshop: A steering committee and a stakeholders’ session explored ideas to describe the spirit of the village, said Jordan Parker, the Wightman & Associates planner contracted to facilitate the visioning process.

His goal is to build consensus for a plan to be presented at the April meeting. “We will review documents from the first planning phase, depict representative projects that the two smaller groups have discussed and present them to the village residents for consideration,” Parker said.

How residents would like Schoolcraft to grow will be the defining theme, Parker said. He will also be conducting a preference survey with a series of images to be ranked and then used to complete the planning work. This will help form future projects, he pointed out. The workshop is sponsored by the Village of Schoolcraft.