Boys Face Stiff Competition in Wolverine Conference

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg boys’ basketball team dropped its first two games back from Christmas break, but are still sitting in a good position with a 5-3 record. Their latest was a 64-49 win against Edwardsburg.

Their first game off the break was a tough test against Portage Northern that the Bulldogs eventually lost 61-55. The following game, the Bulldogs scored their fewest points all year in a 50-37 loss against Sturgis. The Trojans had a clear size advantage over Vicksburg.

This year’s squad is the embodiment of the word team. No one player has stood out as the go-to guy and Johnson noted they’ve had five different leading scorers in seven games. “We’ve got eight or nine guys that can play,” he said.

After two consecutive losses to start back from winter break, Vicksburg bounced back with a big win. By a score of 55-47, they won against a previously unbeaten Dowagiac squad that had knocked out Sturgis just before the winter break.

For Johnson, the win just goes to show how chaotic the southern part of the Wolverine Conference is this year. “You better be prepared every night,” Johnson said. The Wolverine is especially competitive for both boys and girls basketball this year and should make for some exciting matchups going forward.

Vicksburg Wrestling Still Experiencing Growing Pains

By Travis Smola

Vicksburg wrestling has had a bit of a rough year. With injury issues and a thin roster, the Bulldogs have had trouble competing against schools with bigger teams.

The Bulldogs lost to Paw Paw 42-12 and South Haven 45-6 in their most recent Wolverine Quad event at home. The squad hasn’t had anyone medal yet this year. But the coaches still see a bright side in a rough season. “We’re still hanging in there,” head coach Doug Fuller said.

The team has had some exciting moments this year. At the recent quad event, senior Brady Copeland had an especially exciting back-and-forth matchup against a South Haven wrestler.

While he fell just short of the win, the match definitely got his teammates, the coaches and the fans pumped up. Copeland is one of just two seniors on Vicksburg’s team. Mitchell Cantrell is the other. Fuller is thankful for their loyalty. “I appreciate the two seniors sticking with us,” Fuller said.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg is blessed with volunteers who give time and energy to special events throughout the year. The Rotary Club Showboat is in its 63rd year and going strong. The Boy Scouts just celebrated their 75th anniversary, The Lions Club Summer Festival (better known as the B&B) is in its 43rd season in July, and the Old Car Festival is 36 years old in June.

These events bring outsiders to the community and some dollars into the till. But more importantly, they coalesce the volunteers who work together for the greater good. Sure, there is some teeth-gnashing in order to get the job done. Volunteers have lots of other responsibilities to attend to, but together they triumph, almost miraculously. It’s what makes Vicksburg special. You might personify it as the greatest little volunteer town in America as people join together and have fun doing it.

Another aspect of the volunteerism is what is happening with the Vision Campaign. New volunteers to the village are planning the Speakeasy event in February to raise awareness and some money for the capital campaign. It’s rewarding to see a new set of recruits follow the folks who have been spearheading the well-known offerings. To put it even more in perspective, the mothers of Cub Scouts from Troop 251 are getting in the act with their annual “Cake Bake” in March that is meant to build the coffers a little bit more to send the kids to camp.

It’s a point of pride that a small town, off the beaten path, is willing to invite the outside world to savor its qualities and should someone just want to settle here, the welcome mat is out.

I-94 Pile-Up

The first weekend in January brought dangerous driving conditions along I-94, causing car and truck crashes in the Van Buren County area. Loren Tarner, a sheriff’s deputy in our neighboring county, and a Vicksburg resident, was injured while on duty, helping to clear the roadway. He suffered a broken leg and is home recovering. He is a vendor at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market each summer, selling his special brand of “Angry Mustard” that he makes himself.


Vicksburg Optometry, owned by Maria Shoop-Davenport, has moved her practice from the Village Market Place on Kalamazoo Avenue, to 124 E. Prairie in the Frederick Construction building. She has been very generous over the years in working with the Lions Club’s to provide free glasses to needy families.

Quilt Trail Event

Kitch and Hugh Rinehart have scored another coup for the quilt trail they have masterminded over the last four years. Their friend and author of the definitive quilt trail book, Suzi Perrin, will be visiting Vicksburg on Tuesday, May 17. She will be the first program on the Historical Society’s calendar of speakers. On the following Tuesday, May 24, she will conduct an evening seminar on “How to paint a barn quilt” at 7 p.m., possibly in the pavilion on N. Richardson Street. For those who love to quilt and those who have enjoyed the barn quilts, this is a must, so put it on your calendar.

Blast from the Past!

blast from pastThe Many Faces of the “Vicksburg Hotel”

In the mid-1800’s, Hugh Finley turned his general store on the southeast corner of Main and Prairie into the Union Hotel, offering overnight accommodations and office space on the 2nd floor. Joseph McElvain bought the hotel in 1864 and replaced the frame structure with the large brick building in 1872. It was called the McElvain House Hotel.

McElvain eventually sold his beautiful hotel, but it continued to operate successfully under various owners for many years, being known as the Vicksburg Hotel. As the years passed, the hotel stopped renting rooms to overnight guests, preferring instead to rent to “permanent” boarders by the month. By the 1960’s the restaurant had ceased to operate, the barbershop was gone, and only the tavern portion of the original business continued to thrive.

In 1974 the building was purchased, with the support of the Vicksburg Foundation, for use as a Community Center. Refurbished with grants, gifts and much volunteer labor, renovations were completed in 1980.

Thanks to Maggie Snyder for her research and photos.

Tobey Peanut Butter Drive

Peanut Butter Drive at TobeyThe Tobey Elementary Student Council sponsored a Peanut Butter Drive to support Twelve Baskets Food Pantry.  The student council got word that the pantry was short on peanut butter and sprang into action.  The Tobey Tigers celebrated by having Crazy Day on Friday January 22nd.  You could dress as crazy as you would like as long as you brought in a jar of peanut butter.  The teachers even got into it by bringing a jar of peanut butter to wear jeans.  The Tobey Tigers collected 325 jars of peanut butter.  They calculated it was 625 pounds of peanut butter.  The Tobey Tigers continue to find ways to “Offer a Helping Hand”.  Way to go!

The Twelve Baskets Food Pantry, serving the communities of Portage, Schoolcraft, Three Rivers and Vicksburg, is open the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.  It is located at 10332 Portage Road.  For more information contact Twelve Baskets at

Vicksburg & Schoolcraft Event Calendar February & March 2016


2/5 – Fri. Up and Coming Photography Artists from Vicksburg High School at the Vicksburg District Library, 6 p.m.

2/6 – Sat. Vicksburg Chili Cook Off and Frostbite Run, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. 11 a.m. at Clark Park.

2/13 – Sat. Nellie Pierson Chocolate Fest for the American Cancer Society at the United Methodist Church, 217 S. Main St., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For information, 269-349-8710.

2/20 – Sat. Speakeasy fundraiser for the Vision capital campaign. 6-10 p.m. Vicksburg Community Center.

2/26, 27, 28 – Fri., Sat., Sun., Vicksburg Rotary Club 63rd Annual Showboat, at the PAC.

2/26, 27 – Fri., Sat., Boy Scout Troop 251 Spaghetti Dinner in conjunction with the Rotary Club Showboat, 5-7 p.m. at the High School cafeteria.

3/3 – Thurs. The open house at Heart and Hands Preschool in Vicksburg United Methodist Church from 5 – 7 p.m. for families of preschoolers.

3/5 – Sat. – Car wash for the Vision campaign at the corner of N. Richardson and North Main, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

3/11, 3/12, 3/19, 3/20 – Little Shop of Horrors, high school play at the Performing Arts Center, 7:30 on weeknight, 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center will be open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Wednesday from 1-6 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the gallery at 200 S. Main St.

Certified Veterans Service Officer Robert Barton, helping with navigating the VA healthcare system at SCCS every Thursday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Contact 649-2901 for further information.

Boy Scouts newspaper drop off on Richardson Street, between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month.

Vicksburg Village Council meets the first and third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at Vicksburg District Library.

Vicksburg School Board meets the second Monday of the month, usually at the administration building at 7 p.m.

For Seniors from both communities

2/15, KCASI will host Mike Hoss, Veterans Service office coordinator, to discuss accessing veterans benefits from 1:15-2:45 p.m. at Senior Services, 918 Jasper St., Kalamazoo. Free and open to the public. 269-373-5147.


2/4, 2/11, 2/18, 2/25 – Dinners served at the Schoolcraft American Legion Hall from 5 – 7 p.m.

2/20 – Sat. Battle of the Books finals, sponsored by Schoolcraft Library at the High School.

2/25 – Thurs. Grand Battle of the Books, 7 p.m. Schoolcraft High School.

2/29 – Schoolcraft Community Co-op Preschool open house for families looking for the right preschool for 2016-17 school year, from 6-7 p.m. at 224 E. Cass Street.

Recurring events

Regular meetings of the Village Council on the first and third Monday of the month in the council chambers at 7 p.m.

Regular meeting of the Schoolcraft School Board on the second Monday at 7 p.m., usually at the high school.

Schoolcraft PTO meets on the third Monday every other month at the elementary school library, 6:30 p.m., beginning Sept. 21, Nov. 16, Jan. 18, March 21, and May 16.

Schoolcraft Ladies Library meets regularly on the first and third Tuesday of the month, usually at the LLA building.

Schoolcraft Historical Society meets regularly on the first Wednesday of the month at the Museum at 7 p.m.

Schoolcraft Vision Discussed at Public Meeting

By Sue Moore

“This is a wonderful little town,” Schoolcraft village resident Keith Gunnett told the audience at a public session to discuss the future of the village. “We have lots of tradition. The crime rate is low. Our biggest problem is U.S. 131! How do you slow the one million cars a year that drive through? It would be an even greater little town if they would slow down.”

The possibility of creating an identity for the village drew 12 village residents to the meeting, along with three village council members. They were told that identity is a big thing these days in creating a place where people want to live and work.

Presenters from Wightman & Associates, Bill La Ditka and Alan Smaka, advised the village Council to start talking to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to set up a dialog. It might take years but the Department’s views are changing ever so slightly about how highways affect small towns.

Smaka told the group residents need to understand how MDOT works. The emphasis is on capacity, mostly coming from the federal government. Dowagiac was able to reroute their state highway to the outside of town. “Not every road needs to be a highway, it could be a street. The idea is that the local community should have more control. It’s a shift in thinking. You need to get in their ear and be a squeaky wheel. They plan five to 10 years out. You need a comprehensive plan to get their attention. You have a good insider at MDOT with your former village manager, who works there now,” the group was told.
“We are a strip community,” Margaret Beck said. “The residential butts right up to the highway. We need a place in the center for people to come to events.”

LaDitka asked the residents why they live in Schoolcraft. The answers ranged from “close to Kalamazoo,” to good schools, small town, unique and sentimentality for what Schoolcraft used to be 25 years ago and hasn’t changed. Ashley Willis commented that there was no clarity in what people want for the future. She asked who the members of the DDA were and why they weren’t at the meeting.

Sue Hendricksen noted that there is a strong silent contingent in the community who want a better place to live. “We can’t keep having the current contentions.”

Carl Tackett, a long-time village council member, noted that the village couldn’t expand as it is bounded on all sides by the township. La Ditka countered that it was important to start communicating with all the governmental units.

“Involve them, partner with them, get together collectively to go forward with a vision. It take good communication. Sometimes it takes a champion to get things rolling. Without vision you just have bits and pieces. You need to take the long view,” Smaka told the audience.