By Sue Moore
Vicksburg’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has more than a full year under its belt and now has plans to make its annual report to the public on July 14 at 5:30 p.m. Although there isn’t a lot of physical evidence to show for its operations, a lot has been going on to prepare for a burst of activity toward the fall of 2015.
Tanya DeLong has served as president of the DDA for the last year and will yield the gavel to Steve McCowen for 2015-16. She will shift into the treasurer’s spot, which is important to keep this work in the public eye for transparency sake.
It may seem to residents in Vicksburg as they drive over the village’s newly paved roads, as if Michigan’s Proposal 1 for road building actually passed in Vicksburg. What really happened was that the village refinanced its debt in order to take care of some of the most needy streets, got MDOT money for some other areas, and Federal money for even more. New surfacing has taken place all around the village and makes for easy travel without potholes for the first time in years. Ken Schippers, village manager is to be congratulated for getting this job done for making the dollars stretch much further and with a minimum of interruption to drivers and residents. There is one more road to be attacked on east Highway Street in front of the high school. That is scheduled for July or early August.
Speaking of roads, roofs and parking lots at several of the Vicksburg Community Schools are getting a face lift too. Assistant Superintendent Steve Goss is not having a summer respite. His office is in charge of overseeing bids for these projects and their successful completion. The initiative for this work was approved by school district voters in May of 2014. The planning for much of the infrastructure work has come to fruition with a flurry of activity at each building. This type of repair work isn’t very sexy to the public, but it shows a commitment to maintenance and upkeep of the physical plant that is so important to staying ahead of the game. Voters in approving this $15.48 million bond issue have taken the high road for the future, just as the village has with its road construction bonding.
Senior Services at the Farmers’ Market
On July 17, Project Fresh will be distributing coupons to seniors over 60 who qualify to use their coupons at any Michigan farmers’ market. There will be a representative at the Vicksburg market for local distribution, so South County recipients do not have to travel to Kalamazoo. The coupons are worth $2 each and will buy fresh fruit and vegetables from any of the participating vendors.
The Vicksburg Farmers’ Market has been experiencing steady growth since its opening on May 22 at the pavilion. The week of June 19 saw 701 customers come to the market from 2:30-6:30 p.m. to purchase fresh food, see their friends and neighbors, and participate in Kids’ Plate. Carol LaFrance has been the leader in organizing this event for the last three years. She and her bevy of volunteers work with children who might not want to eat their fruits and vegetables without a large dollop of sugar coating. She has designed a hands on program where kids can cut up their own fruit, see it become a treat by eating the results, right there on site. They made strawberry smoothies at the first session. The next one will take place on July 17, with most of the ingredients donated by the vendors at the Farmers’ Market. On July 17th Carol will be hosting the Food Fairy. She rides her “blender-bike” to whip up smoothies. Free samples to all.
Schoolcraft 4th of July Celebration
It’s been fun trying to track down the history of this 90-year-old institution in Schoolcraft. To do so, after asking numerous residents about what it was like in the 40s and 50s, this reporter was directed to Bill Brown, who is 90 and sharp as a tack. He has lived in Schoolcraft all of his life but has only vague memories of attending the parade or activities that were centered on the old football field. There used to be an amusement company that brought in rides, he remembers. The clearest memory of those consulted brought stories of chasing a greased pig. That seemed to be a highlight of the festivities—at least for the young folks.
There have been many people in Schoolcraft who worked this event in the past, helping to keep it alive and well. Bob and Jim Robertson’s names popped up a lot. Thanks to Jeff Bell and Rod Dekema for the pictures they took and preserved from the 60s and 70s. These are gems that the Schoolcraft Historical Society will want to embrace.