By Sue Moore
It’s been a year since the Vicksburg Village Council appointed Ken Schippers the interim village manager. When he accepted, he said, “I won’t let you down.” That was a big claim, given the difficulties he had to face.
First was the realization that the spending in past years, had pushed the village into an unsatisfactory financial picture, with the state of Michigan even stepping in to require them to come up with a balanced budget and a specific plan to get out of the red.
Next was the sewer overflow in the Hughey neighborhood. Then there are all the insistent phone calls, to fix this or that, while he is doing two jobs, head of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and village manager.
The staff changed dramatically in the office with all new faces and talents that he was charged with melding together. It’s a happy place now and the service residents receive is the best ever, according to most anybody who has business with the village.
Schippers has made a point of visiting all the businesses downtown, not just to shake their hands, but to actually ask their opinion. He has forged new relationships with other governmental entities that will smooth things in the future when they need to work together.
He has made himself available on a 24/7 basis, showing up for activities in the village, far beyond the what one might expect.
So what is holding the council back from taking the “interim” off of his title and giving him the job permanently. Why go on an expensive search when the council knows what kind of person they have right here. Oh, and you might want to reward him a bit more with an increase in salary, which he refused to take upon the initial appointment. He has earned every penny of it.
Streets Resurfaced in the Village of Vicksburg
The years have been hard on most of the village streets, but finding the money to repair them has been dicey at best in any municipality. This week, a company from Schoolcraft was busy scraping and resurfacing Park Street in two sections, Elm Street, and part of Spruce Street. In 2015, the big one gets attention and that’s Prairie Street from the stoplight at the corner of Boulevard to the village limits. It’s a $360,000 improvement that will be most welcome by the folks who enter the village from the west side.
Kristina Powers Aubry did her usual brilliant job as MC of the pavilion dedication program, as did the various speakers who talked about the imposing structure. Margaret Kerchief should take a bow in particular, as she steered the precious dollars to build it, over the two years that she was in charge of the project. Karen Hammond came into the picture when food was needed to
feed the “lumberjacks” as she liked to call the work crew, and Chris Newman was praised for his design work. The unsung hero of the whole project was Mike Frederick of Frederick Construction, who gave generously of his talents to oversee the bidding and the subcontractors as part of his personal contribution to the community. Richard Barnes and Tim Moore worked extremely well
together to source the wood and get it sawed and ready for the Timber Framers Guild to put into place.
They can be proud of what they have accomplished. A nice decorative touch for the ceremony was a large U.S. flag, hanging from the rafters. It was donated by Polly Youngs. It belonged to her late husband, Jim and now it will be hanging on the flag pole in Oswalt Park, thanks to her thoughtfulness.
Photographers for the South County News
In this issue, you will find a whole series of food pictures taken at the various restaurants participating in the Taste of Vicksburg. They showcase the special dish that each eatery will be offering at the Taste. Thanks to Linda Hoard for taking the time to skillfully photograph the food, schedule the time to take the pictures and then follow up with a description of each restaurant. The whole thing is exceptionally well done, and much appreciated.
There will also be an Art Hop as part of the Taste, but it has been something of a struggle, but Tanya DeLong has at least 15 local artists who will be featured on South Main Street. There will also be children’s games to play that have been devised by the owners of Bulldog Learning Center.
The two Vicksburg service clubs along with Chamber of Commerce members will be pouring beer outside of the Hide-A-Way. The food will be available next to the beer stand, which should make for a smoother flow of people, up and down Prairie Street.
Fifth Anniversary Observance for Tanya’s Girl Garage
We failed to mention this five year anniversary in reporting on activities during the May Sidewalk Sales Day in Vicksburg. We want to say that Tanya DeLong has added a lot of pizzazz to the retail scene, along with her sunny disposition and willingness to get involved in growing business in the village center. For her store to survive and thrive over the last five years is a testimony to her willingness to adapt and find the sweet spot in her customer base. Congratulations, Tanya.
Schoolcraft Community Forum Meetings Scheduled
It’s impressive to watch the administration and Citizens Advisory Committee leaders in Schoolcraft. They have gone out into the community to inform those who live in the school district about the bond issue proposal on the August 5 ballot. If this passes, it will bring big changes to the configuration of the buildings in the village. The need to keep the voters informed has been the driving force for all involved. Their efforts are very impressive and will culminate in two community forums scheduled in June, on the 4th and the 19th at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.