Monthly Archives: January 2016

Schoolcraft Resident is Skydiving Champion

Schoolcraft native Chloe Hurst, seated second from the right, was part of the team that won a gold medal at the 2015 U.S. Parachute Association National Skydiving Championships. The competition took place at Skydive Arizona, outside of Phoenix. Hurst’s team, Air Force Rendezvous, took the gold in the intermediate 8-way formation skydiving event.

The National Skydiving Championships is the country’s biggest, most prestigious skydiving competition, drawing more than 500 competitors from across the country for 10 days of breathtaking skydiving in multiple events, including formation skydiving, vertical formation skydiving, and artistic freestyle and freeflying.

In formation skydiving, teams of 8 exit the airplane more than two miles above the ground and race against the clock to form prescribed geometric formations in freefall before opening their parachutes. A videographer jumps with the team to capture the maneuvers for the judges on the ground.

Hurst, 21, is a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She has completed nearly 500 skydives.

Shop with a Hero Event

By Sue Moore

Ten youngsters from the Vicksburg area were treated to a Shop with a Hero day, getting help selecting Christmas presents for their families. The heroes were from the South Kalamazoo Fire Authority, the South County EMS, and the Vicksburg and Schoolcraft Police Departments. The location was Meijer’s store on Shaver Road.

Each child received a $200 gift card to shop for their families for Christmas and also received a holiday food basket from LIFE EMS. The 10 heroes volunteered their time to escort the children through the shopping experience.

South County Community Services chooses the youngsters and their families to receive this fun and rewarding experience, according to Danna Downing who heads the service agency. “It is a thrill of a lifetime for the children and their families,” she said.

The officers pictured volunteer their time each year and love to do it, according to Eric West, Vicksburg police chief. Those participating included Loretta Brundige and Dan Elliott from SKCFA; Ally West and Chris Koeneke from South County EMS; Mary Secondi and Jamie Edwards from the Schoolcraft Police Department; Mark Petersen and Henry Kite from the Vicksburg Police Department.

Scotts Family Earns Governor’s Citation

Award and family pics 007
The Russell Bartholomew family in front of their office building. From left to right: J.J. Piper, Thad, Ruth, Russ, Jr., Brad Bartholomew.

Utility customers who want to write smaller checks have a clear goal: Reduce energy usage. A Kalamazoo heating company that began its business in Scotts has gained statewide recognition for helping people achieve those reductions.

The owners of Bartholomew Heating and Cooling, siblings, were named “Contractor of the Year” at the first annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, according to co-owner J.J. (Bartholomew) Piper.

“My brother Brad has a passion for helping people achieve more energy efficiency,” she said. “We were selected for the company’s work in helping more than 1,240 customers submit applications for energy-efficiency programs sponsored by Consumers Energy. Since 2011, projects the company has worked on have reduced residential natural gas by more than 121 million cubic feet and residential electricity usage by more than 10,000 megawatt-hours,” she said.

“In Michigan we are way behind in utility rebates. We are not solving the issue. We need to get to the root cause and use less energy.

“To do this, we need to take care of the whole envelope in a building by venting it properly, sealing pipes, and finding other ways to educate the building owner,” Piper said.

Consumers Energy offers rebates for a large number of energy-saving improvement projects. They include $200 or more for efficient furnaces and air-conditioning systems and various amounts for insulation, replacement windows, new thermostats and appliances.

Brad Bartholomew has been involved with two trade associations. Together they seek to increase the awareness of legislators and policy makers on how important the energy efficiency industry is for Michigan’s economy. That includes the health of its citizens, its environment, and the sustainability of its businesses. He is past president of the Michigan Air Conditioning Contractors Association, and currently serves as president of the Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association.

This three-generation company was founded by Russell Bartholomew Sr. Ruth and Russell Bartholomew Jr owned it in Scotts, where they had a home office. A move to Emerald Drive in Kalamazoo came as the company expanded. The first two generations are unofficially retired but still keep a hand in things. J.J. and Brad have been joined in the business by Thad Bartholomew. Another brother, Rod, works for Consumers Energy. Which means it’s all in the family.

Little Lambs Learning Center to Close on January 8

lamb 11By Sue Moore

Parents of children enrolled in the Little Lambs Learning Center were notified on December 28 by the pre-school nursery that it would be closing effective January 8. “This came as a shock to the eight families that have children enrolled as they will need to quickly make plans for a new day care location for their children,” according to Jeremy Burton, one of the parents.

“For our children, they now must make new friends. With this school being in the village these kids were likely going to go through much of their schooling together. Now the sense of community they would have learned is demolished,” Burton said.

The Schoolcraft Methodist Church, which has sponsored the center, had little choice according to Tom Oliphant, board president since October. “Our enrollments were down and we were not going to be financially stable if we continued on this course. We had to stop the bleeding.

“We tried to keep it going, but the state requirements were beyond our ability to make it financially viable. Without sufficient funding it is impossible to provide the quality of care all children deserve and have come to expect from Little Lambs Day Care. As a nonprofit arm of the church, the hope would be to re-establish the day care center if enough demand is there in the future.”

Following is the letter that was sent to the parents of children currently in the program:

“It is with great sadness that we must inform you that Little Lambs Learning Center will be closing on January 8, 2016. We have attempted to reestablish enrollment but have been unsuccessful. The center is not financially stable and is failing to bring in the revenue needed to adequately support the staff and needs of a child care center. We have exhausted all our resources and knowledge to prohibit the center from closure. This decision was not made lightly as many factors have greatly influenced our decision. Thank you for your support and we are hopeful that you are able to find quality care for your child(ren).”

Teresa Payne, director
Tom Oliphant, board president”

Schoolcraft Library Displays Cindy Krill’s Pottery

cindykrillAn art open house and exhibit at the Schoolcraft Community Library will present the work of Vicksburg artist Cindy Krill from 5:30-7 p.m. January 13.

She is well-known locally for her nature-inspired pottery, which is showcased each November with a sale at Prudential Nursery. She organizes this yearly sale and invites other well-known area potters and artists to show their wares.

Now people will be able to see her work displayed at the library in a special environment. Refreshments will be served and the artist will be available to answer questions. Her art will be on display through the end of February.

United Way Update

united wayThe Vicksburg United Way campaign got a big bump up with contributions from Vicksburg Community Schools’ employee contributions, according to campaign chairperson Laura Howard.

The total raised for 2015 stands at $35,116.90 as of the December reporting period she said. The individual campaign is $760 higher than in 2014 and the business campaign is $4,518 higher, due to the school employees’ greater participation.

Last year the committee raised $31,715, so it’s already way ahead with an anticipated goal of $40,000. The contest to beat what is being raised in Gull Lake, came to an end on January 1, and it is hoped that Vicksburg’s increase in donations will bring home the $1,000 award. The schools will benefit; the prize money is to be directed toward the STEAM program at Indian Lake being crafted by art teacher Jake Biernacki for grades K-5.

Scotts Corner Café Serves Up Plentiful Food

By Sheryl Oswalt

Next time you’re traveling through Scotts and happen to drop your cell phone call; take a break and stop at the Scotts Corner Café. Fuel up with a specialty latte or smoothie and if necessary use the Wi-Fi while you’re there. If time permits, grab some breakfast or lunch. It’s a great little place where the people are friendly, the food is good and plentiful and the building is rich with history.

I met with owners Mark and Bonnie Hanson and their good friend June Bailey. They are all locals; Mark lived in Scotts until 7th grade when the family home burned and they moved to 29th Street. That put him in the Comstock School District where he met his high school sweetheart, Bonnie.

They eventually married. Bonnie went on to work in an accounting office; Mark worked for United Wholesale Grocery (UWG). In 1986 they purchased the building at 11011 Norscott Street where they operated a convenience store out of the building until 1991. That’s when they sold the business and kept the building. The convenience store moved across the street where it remains today.

It wasn’t until 2006 when Mark retired from UWG that they decided to renovate the building and make something out of a then-deteriorating building. Changing from a convenience store to a food establishment turned out to be quite a project. They all the work themselves. After removing four layers of ceiling materials, they found the original steel paneled ceiling that you see today. During this process they found the original delivery slip from Bradley Steel Company in Illinois – dated 1914. Long before it housed a string of stores, the building was the home of the Grange Hall where bands played and dances were held in the 1940s.
Fast forward to March 3, 2009 – when they opened with the intent of being a coffee house where they would have specialty coffees and pastries. Their vision was of a place where people would come in and stay to enjoy their beverage, use the Internet and maybe even read a book. Word of their opening traveled fast thanks to their self-appointed marketing person and life-long local and family friend; June Bailey. It didn’t take long and patrons were requesting breakfast; the locals were looking for somewhere to eat a meal as well as grab a coffee. The menu just grew from there as more people realized it was more than just a corner coffee shop. Even today Mark indicates that if it’s not on the menu but they have the ingredients, they will make it for you!

Today’s menu consists of breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches, salads and a children’s menu. A unique item I’ve enjoyed is their “build your own breakfast pizza.” Made on an Indian flat bread, naan, it’s topped with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, cheese and a multitude of optional toppings. Some of their most popular items include that sausage gravy, southern omelets, Reuben sandwiches and quesadillas.

They do local deliveries and have hosted small functions such as wedding and baby showers, wedding rehearsal dinners and Christmas parties. The local Historical Society meets there on the third Tuesday of the month and has compiled a lot of history on the area. For those interested, there are several volumes of scrapbooks documenting local people and events that are on record for your viewing pleasure.

The couple’s commitment to their business and the community is evidenced by the fact that they sold their home and now live above the café. Their goal is to provide “a good bang for your buck.” If you finish your meal and aren’t full – they will bring you more at no charge. They have a great group of cooks and servers on staff. Both Mark and Bonnie pitch in where necessary. After retirement, “Miss June” also found herself at the café greeting patrons and doing odd jobs such as wrapping silverware. At 96 years young, she loves to stay busy and enjoys seeing the local people and they love having her there. From what I could see, the Hanson’s have all the makings of a successful retirement venture that is much appreciated by the local residents. Stop in and see for yourself.

Matt Weddon Wins Piano Contest

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Matt Weddon in concert. Photo by Liz Weddon.

By Sue Moore

From a boy who was sometimes hired to play background music at local events, Matt Weddon of Vicksburg has come a long way– a recent first place in the Michigan State University Piano Honors Competition. A $1,000 scholarship and an appearance with the MSU Symphony Orchestra on March 25, were part of his prize.

Weddon, now a junior in MSU’s music school, started taking piano lessons at age 8.

For the competition, he played Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto in B Minor on the stage of MSU’s Fairchild Theatre, competing with a number of graduate level students.

mattweddonWhile at Vicksburg High School before his 2013 graduation, Weddon played concerts, gave lessons, and was involved in many of the high school musicals. He traveled to Europe the summer of 2014 with a group of musicians from the university under the direction of his teacher Deborah Moriarty, who is professor of music and chair of MSU’s piano area.

Flying fixed-wing aircraft is Weddon’s other passion. He has passed his requirements for daylight navigation and is working on his instrument flying requirements. While home this summer, he helped as a groundskeeper at Kline’s Resort.

The Gilmore Keyboard Festival Comes to Vicksburg

terrence wilson
Terrence Wilson.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Performing Arts Center will again host Gilmore Keyboard Festival pianists in performance this spring.

Kalamazoo is world-renowned for the festival, which started in 1991. It has received acclamation because it choses its Gilmore Artist Award for pianists every four years. That person doesn’t audition but is chosen by a jury of peers, a process unique in the piano world. As the festival has grown and expanded through the legacy of Irving S. Gilmore’s financial trust, performances have been assigned venues all over southwest Michigan.

Pianists coming to the Performing Arts Center include Terrence Wilson at 7 p.m. March 21 and Daniel Hsu, a Gilmore Young Artist Award winner, in recital at 4 p.m. May 8.

Wilson will take the stage March 21 as part of the Gilmore Family Concert series. This 50-minute concert of world class piano music, accompanied by engaging visuals, is open to the public free of charge, according to Tim Fuller, manager of the PAC.

Wilson has established a reputation as one of today’s most gifted pianists. He has appeared as soloist with many prestigious ensembles and is an active recitalist in his own right. Wilson will guide audiences through the world of dance and movement through the sounds of the grand piano. The repertoire is still in development, but selections will be pulled from Stravinsky’s Petrushka, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, Bernstein’s West Side Story and other piano works that are ballet or dance-influenced.
The Gilmore Young Artist Award is presented every two years to single out the most promising of the new generation of U.S. pianists, age 22 and younger. Nominations are made by music professionals from around the world, and an anonymous selection committee evaluates the nominees over a period of time. Candidates for the Award are unaware that they are under consideration.

Each Gilmore Young Artist receives a $15,000 stipend to further a musical career and educational development, as well as a commission towards a new piano composition for which the artist will have exclusive performance rights for one year. The award is strictly monetary and advisory, and does not involve managerial assistance from the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

Since 1990, 32 pianists have been recognized as Gilmore Young Artists. Hsu and Micah McLaurin were named for 2016.

Tournament of Writers in Schoolcraft Celebrates Winners

tourney winners
2015 Tournament of Writers Winners: (standing from L to R) Marilyn Jones, Linda Gage, Autumn Rose, AJ Hartman, Rachel Hostetler, Sarah Erdos, Deb Christiansen, C. Gerfen, Andrea Devries, Ruthanne Rose, Christine Webb, Josiah Stuart, Mark Lego (partially hidden), Lois Helland, Diane D. McGiffin, BenJammin Gauthier, Marena White, Mark D. Stucky, Rachel DuMouchel. Missing are James K. Willette, Allison Mechling, Jacob Dehart, Anton J. Tomas, and Shirley Swift. Photo by Bill Christiansen.

By Sue Moore

The second annual Tournament of Writers sponsored by the Friends of the Schoolcraft Library held an announcement party before Christmas to name winners and pass out prizes–pens that write at any angle, upside down included.

The grand prize winner was Christine Webb for her adult poem, “The Mirror,” for which she received a gold fountain pen. She also took first place in adult non-fiction and adult fiction categories, according to Debra Christiansen, mastermind of the tournament.

Interest in writing for the tourney has grown fast since its first year, with 71 entries as opposed to 19 in 2014. Most of the entries were from Schoolcraft. There were a couple from Portage and Kalamazoo.
The large number of entries required ten judges who worked independently. Christiansen added up judges’ scores to determine winners.

Besides the prizes, a book of the writings will be published via print on demand and sold on Amazon.com. A Tournament of Writers book signing has been scheduled for February 3, at the library from 5:30-7 p.m.

First place winners are as follows:
Junior non-fiction – Josiah Stuart
Junior fiction – C. Gerfen
Teen poetry – Andres DeVries
Teen non-fiction – Rachel Hostetler
Teen fiction – Marena White
Adult poetry – Allison Mechling
Adult non-fiction – Christine Webb
Adult fiction – Christine Webb
Senior poetry – Linda Gage
Senior non-fiction – AJ Hartman
Senior fiction – AJ Hartman
Cover winner – Mark Lego