Monthly Archives: December 2015

Boy Scouts Honor Veterans

vest 3.jpgFor the past two years the Vicksburg Boy Scouts of Troop 251 have been honoring local veterans. This year they convinced The Vault to feed over 20 veterans. The scouts and their scoutmasters did all the planning, cooking, and serving to express their appreciation to the men and women in attendance.

They entertained the veterans and their families with a slide show about the activities surrounding the Vicksburg scouts’ 75th anniversary. They have much to brag about as did the veterans, according to Scoutmaster Kevin Borden.

Christmas in the Village to Brighten Downtown Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

Everyone loves a parade. Vicksburg’s reconstituted evening Christmas parade should be a great change from the past years. It has been planned for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, to highlight the beautiful lighting in the downtown, according to Ken Schippers, village manager. He expects over 10 floats and seven or eight fire engines from visiting towns. There will be cash prizes for the best floats with State Senator Margaret O’Brien, State Rep. Brandt Iden, and County Treasurer Mary Balkema as the judges.

Fortunately, the Big Red Machine, a.k.a. the Vicksburg High School marching band, will still be available to lead the parade down Kalamazoo Avenue to Prairie Street and south on Main Street, according to Band Director Ben Rosier. The promise to participate comes with a bit of a sacrifice: Most of the band members want to be getting ready for the high school Christmas formal once they lead the procession; it’s a good bet that many of the band members will beat a fast retreat to their own festivities.

But that shouldn’t deter the youngsters as they will want to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the big tent in Oswalt Park on the corner of Main and Prairie Streets. It will be heated and those waiting in line with be treated to hot chocolate and cookies, compliments of Chapman Memorial Church of the Nazarene.

The Vicksburg Historical Society will be open for business with its annual bake sale at the Depot Museum from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The model train layout in the Historic Village will be open for train enthusiasts during the same hours as the bake sale, on December 5, plus the two Saturdays following in December.

All of the “Christmas in the Village” activities this year have been the responsibility of the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) under the leadership of Executive Director Kathleen Hoyle. Her committee of elves includes Stella Shearer, Ken Schippers, Julie Merrill, Mandy Kokalas, Carol LaFrance, Sue Moore, Chris Newman, and Ellie Folkers.

Lots of new and old activities have been planned for the day with vendors from the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market kicking off the events with a winter opening of the market. It will be held inside the community center from 2 to 5 p.m. Regular customers to the market will be able to refill their larders from some of their favorite vendors, including the soap maker, the root vegetable purveyors, and the apple and doughnut maker. There will be live greens for sale just outside the center.

Horse carriage rides around the downtown will launch from the north door of the community center every half hour. To keep the children entertained before the parade, BenJammin and Analisa will be performing from 3-3:45 p.m. in the center. There will be a magician, and most importantly, a mailbox for letters to Santa. Mrs. Claus’ Cookie Kitchen for children will be at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center at 200 S. Main, the library will have a children’s hour inside. Carolers from three Vicksburg area churches will be traveling the downtown during the afternoon with their special brand of Christmas music.

To top off the evening, the huge spruce tree in Oswalt Park will have a special lighting ceremony at about 6:15, with Rudy Callen doing the master of ceremony honors. Brian Pitts, Chamber of Commerce president, has organized a Pub Crawl after the tree lighting. Destinations will include the Hide-a-Way, Main Street Pub, and The Vault.

None of this would be possible without the tremendous outpouring of support from the event sponsors, Hoyle said. They include Frederick Construction, Ronningen Research, Bronson Hospital, Right Way Rental, Grossman Law, the Village of Vicksburg and the Chamber of Commerce.

Schoolcraft Christmas Walk

school x mas 4.jpgCome out and celebrate the Christmas Spirit in Historic Schoolcraft is the traditional theme of Schoolcraft’s Annual Christmas Walk. Local merchants welcome the community to this annual event which will be held Friday, December 4, from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 5 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Arts and crafts sales at local churches, special snacks at local antique dealers, and teas and treats offered by other community members such as the Schoolcraft Ladies Library will be scattered throughout the town. Two of the local churches, the United Methodist and First Presbyterian, will have baked goods and lots of homemade crafts offered for sale including knitted items, quilted goods and other handcrafted items.

Christmas festivities around town will include music, lights, and even wreaths offered by one vendor.

“Please come out and have a good time with us,” said Beth Pulsipher, organizer of the Annual Christmas Walk.

The Gathering of Greens

trees 5The Schoolcraft Friends of the Library and the Schoolcraft Community Library welcome the public to view the Gathering of Greens/Jubilee of Trees entries at their Tuesday, December 8 Punch and Cookie Celebration. While viewing the beautifully decorated trees and wreathes, visitors can enjoy some tasty cookies and punch while voting for a favorite entry! Votes are 25 cents each.

Entertainment for the evening includes the 6th grade Schoolcraft choir singing carols and a barbershop quartet performance by “Four Got to Shave” — all starting at 6 and going to 7:30 p.m. Visitors are urged to arrive early to enjoy these special performances.

Awards will be announced on December 9 for the top 3 entries that received the most votes including a special “children’s vote.” All proceeds from this event will go towards children’s programming. New this year, select entries may be purchased at the circulation desk. Tournament of Writers awards will also be presented. It’s an evening of fun not to missed!

SCCS Celebrates the Season of Giving

pat oswalt tree ornament
This angel ornament honoring the dearly departed Pat Oswalt (and her beloved MSU Spartans) will be installed on the Tree of Life.

Staff members at South County Community Services (SCCS) are fond of saying it’s Christmas all year around at their agency. That’s because they believe that whenever there is someone to listen and help a family in need, it is a lot like Christmas. Whenever SCCS staff, volunteers and donors remember others with a gift of time and resources, it ensures the spirit of Christmas is there when it is most needed.

A third of the people who live in the South County are either living in poverty or near it in so-called “ALICE” households–asset limited, income constrained, and employed. For these households, an car repairs, going back to school, illness, and holiday costs create hard-to-manage challenges.

SCCS is a United Way agency with a mission to help families manage these times and support them as they work to move their families forward. It takes an investment of about $20,000 to serve approximately 500 people each year during the holidays. With the generosity of the community in full throttle, the agency usually raises another $10,000 to add to its emergency assistance funding. This money can be matched with family resources and funds from other agencies to keep homes heated and lighted during the winter months. It can cover other expenses that hit hard during the rest of the year.

Community donations help to underwrite holiday food boxes, household bags, gifting and family-friendly parties with Santa. Family adoptions, in partnership with individuals and groups, make holidays a little brighter for over 100 families. Area faith groups do the bulk of the adoptions, but there are always opportunities for individual families and groups to adopt a needy family. Volunteers to help assemble Santa bags and household bags are critical to the holiday operations at SCCS. And volunteers also are needed to help make the two holiday celebrations festive.

In addition, anyone who wishes to honor a loved one during the holidays may participate in the annual Tree of Life project. All the donations from Tree of Life are used to support the year-long emergency assistance program. Anyone interested in supporting these efforts may call 269-649-2901 for more information.

Celebrating Our Veterans

vets depot
David Aubry, Rotary president; Richard Coppes, Rotary Club’s World War II veteran; Bob Merrill, Lions Club World War II veteran, Dave Reno, Lions Club president.

Retired Brigadier General Warren Lawrence never lets an opportunity to be respectful to our nation, according to Kristina Powers Aubry who worked with him at KRESA and on many projects for the Vicksburg Historical Society. When he discovered the need for a new flag pole at the Depot Museum, he sprang into action, she said.

“The old one was rusted and useless, so he devised a way to pay for a new one. He went to the two Vicksburg service clubs and requested $250 each to buy a collapsible one that would be easy to maintain. Right-Way-Rental was willing to sell the village a new flag pole at cost,” she said.

The best part of his genius was to get two World War II veterans from the Rotary and Lions clubs to be part of the dedication on Veteran’s Day this November. It turns out that Bob Merrill from the Lions Club and Richard Coppes from the Rotary Club both served in the Navy, so he recruited the two “old salts” to cut the ribbon.”

In the meantime, General Lawrence, a member of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors and the Historic Village committee, invited the presidents of the service clubs to research the names of their members who served in World War II to honor their devotion to the country. David Aubry from Rotary and Dave Reno from the Lions, went through the impressive list, only to discover that all of them were deceased except for the two standing with them to cut the ribbon.

Bronson Hospital to Close Emergency Room Services

Bronson Methodist Hospital will be closing its satellite emergency department at Bronson Vicksburg Outpatient Center (BVOC) at the end of the year. All other services at the site will remain open, according to the System Director, Laura Howard.

The location has been experiencing a steady decline in the number of emergency patients it sees each year, as well as in the severity of illnesses and injuries it treats, Howard said.

For some time, ambulance traffic from south Kalamazoo County has been directed to Bronson Methodist Hospital’s Trauma and Emergency Center in Kalamazoo. Effective 4 PM on December 31, walk-in patients will also be directed there.

Bronson’s board of directors and executive team have been monitoring the slowdown in use of emergency services at BVOC for over a decade. They delayed closing the department until it was clear the trend was not reversing and south county residents could easily access emergency care in Kalamazoo.

Bronson will continue to provide outpatient services Monday through Friday at BVOC that are still actively being used by local physicians and patients. These include lab blood-draw and specimen collection service from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. and radiology services from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
A total of 29 employees will be affected by this change. Bronson’s human resources team is working to inform them of other open positions in the system that they are qualified for and how to apply, Howard said.

The public relations department provided the following helpful answers.
Why can’t Bronson sustain emergency services at Vicksburg?

Each year, Bronson evaluates consumer demand for services against the resources it takes to provide those services.  In recent years, fewer people have been coming to the Vicksburg location for care and most of the visits have been for minor illness and injury which can be taken care of by primary care doctors, urgent care and walk-in clinics. It was no longer feasible for Bronson to continue to maintain the overhead costs of providing emergency services at a location that wasn’t being fully utilized when doctors, nurses and staff could be deployed to other Bronson sites that need them.

Did you consider making it urgent care?

We evaluated the idea and determined that the Vicksburg location would not be able to attract enough patients to cover the cost of providing the service. Bronson does provide walk-in immediate care service nearby in Portage. Bronson FastCare is located in the Meijer store at 5121 South Westnedge.

Lab Draws/Radiology services will now be sent to Kalamazoo. Will there be a delay in results getting to Vicksburg doctors?

Radiology continues to be available at Bronson Vicksburg with no service changes. The labs draw station currently utilizes a courier to transport lab specimens from Bronson Vicksburg to the main lab at Bronson Methodist Hospital twice daily, so most routine test results will continue to be provided electronically to Vicksburg doctors same day, just as they are now.

Describe the services that will still be at Bronson Vicksburg after 12/31/15.
These services will remain open and fully staffed:

Bronson Anticoagulation Center, open Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call (269) 341-6156.

Bronson Outpatient Nutrition Services, open Wednesday by appointment only. Call (269) 341-6860 or visit

Bronson Outpatient Rehabilitation, open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call (269) 544-3230 or visit

Bronson ProHealth, open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Call (269) 341-8938 or visit
Bronson Outpatient Testing, open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Radiology services are available 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. No appointments are necessary.

Does Bronson have other plans for the space being vacated by the emergency department?

We are exploring other uses for the space and will keep the community informed as potential uses are identified.

Because Bronson Vicksburg is not an inpatient facility, ambulance traffic and patients with life threatening conditions have been directed to Bronson Methodist Hospital for many years. If someone is experiencing a serious medical emergency, the recommendation is always to call 911.