Monthly Archives: April 2016

Vision Campaign’s Scavenger Hunt is Fun for Families

By Sue Moore

The Vicksburg Vision campaign has been in full gear for the last few months. To get more recognition and participation, the organizing committee is putting on a series of fundraisers that are fun, have high visibility and offer a challenge to the participants.

A scavenger hunt has been set for Saturday, April 16 with a featured guest, David Zinn from Ann Arbor, drawing permanent art installations at several secret locations. It is for the participants to find his artwork and hustle around the village to win the prize for the fastest completion of the scavenger hunt.

Of course it is all in fun, with the hopes that individuals and families will compete for the prizes while making a contribution to the Vision campaign. Each donation has an incentive as the Vicksburg Foundation has set aside $170,000 for matching whatever is raised by the community. The funds will go toward construction of the proposed walking and biking trail that will extend from the current 1.6 miles that runs parallel to Sprinkle Road. Bringing the trail into the heart of the village has been Kathleen Hoyle’s focus since she came on board as executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.
The scavenger hunt has been planned by Donna Cratsenburg-Scott, a volunteer who loves to put her many talents toward helping her adopted community. It will begin and end at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, VCAC, 200 S. Main, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. and the starting gun going off at exactly 10 a.m. There are seven easily walkable and family friendly locations within the village on the hunt. There will be hints given out for each with an easily recognizable piece of art work by celebrated chalk artist David Zinn at the destination. His work is whimsical and so much fun, said Cratsenburg-Scott, that anyone in the community can enjoy it.

Music will be playing at the Art Center. A bake sale is also planned to keep up energy during the scavenger hunt, she said with a chuckle. All who compete will be entered for additional prize drawings. The event will go on rain or shine, as April weather can be finicky at times.

A suggested donation of $3 to $5 per person to participate in the hunt is all that’s needed to enter and win. Tickets can be pre-purchased at the VCAC or by contacting Cratsenburg-Scott by phone at 269-903-6514 or through email at doonaburg@gmail.com.

Docent Training Planned by the Historical Society

docent 3
The previous docent training for the Vicksburg Historical Society took place in 2010. Many of these people have continued to serve when the buildings are open to the public. Many more are needed to keep the Historic Village open from Wednesday through Sunday.

Who loves history more than the members of the Vicksburg Historical Society? The board of this passionate group of people is hoping that a lot of other members of the community also have an interest in their forebears. An immediate goal is to enlarge the displays and offerings housed in the eight buildings on the grounds of the Historic Village. To do this, more volunteer docents are needed, according to Ted Vliek, president of the board.

“We want to make history come alive for school kids and people in our community,” Vliek said. “To do that, we know we need to open wide the doors of the buildings and invite people in on a regular basis. Our new hours of operation when we open in May will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The collection of artifacts has expanded by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Now we want to share them with tourist groups, school students and the community at large.”

There is a catch in these plans, Vliek said. “We need people to help interpret the history contained within these walls.” Two training sessions have been scheduled for volunteers in April to prepare them to describe exhibits to visitors. The first one is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20 from 6-8 p.m. The second one will be held on Sunday, April 24 from noon-2 p.m. at the Depot Museum, including a walk around the Historic Village’s buildings, housing its displays.

“People are needed to recreate a working village in period dress, including a farmer, teacher, blacksmith, conductor, print shop operator, ticket master, store clerks, and even a mayor of the village,” Vliek said. “Many loyal volunteers have worked in the Depot Museum over the years. It is hoped they will attend the training and continue to offer their time to help the village come alive.”

Volunteers can choose to work as little as two hours at a time or half a day if they wish to, said Kathleen Hoyle, who is organizing this educational effort. It’s her belief that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will benefit by bringing tour buses in to spend some time walking through the Historic Village and then inspecting Vicksburg’s downtown as part of a day’s outing. The website of the DDA has several tours listed and she will be actively selling this idea as part of the effort to build the trail, improve the facades of the businesses and upgrade the parking lots.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the training can register by contacting Sue Moore at 649-2453, or email her at sue@suemoore.com or visit the web site at http://www.VicksburgHistory.org/volunteer-opportunities.

Dance Across the Decades

dance across decades
Sheri and Mark Louis love to dance and will be among the star performers.

By Sue Moore

Dance Across the Decades is in its third year now as a fundraiser for the South County Community Services (SCCS). It’s a fun time to hear new and old music and dance steps that do in fact cross all the genres from the 20s to the 21st century, says Danna Downing, SCCS executive director.

“We needed to find a source of new funding for the agency,” Downing said. “Promoting a fun way to raise important dollars for the services offered, seemed like a win, win, for everyone.” The event will be held at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Vicksburg, on Saturday, April 23 from 7 to 10 p.m. The music will be by DJ Jimmy Lawless of Debiak Entertainment. There will be heavy hors d’oeuvres, complimentary beverages and a cash bar.

A silent auction has become an important part of the event, even though it’s not closely connected to dancing she noted. That’s because so many interesting and valuable items have been donated to the auction. They are listed in the next story on this page.
The cost of the dance is $65 per couple or $35 for individuals before April 15. Reservations can be made by calling SCCS at 649-2901. Tickets at the door are $75 per couple and $40 for individuals. The important thing is that 75 percent of all proceeds go to support the agency’s programs.

Dance Across the Decades Features an Amazing Auction

One of the most alluring things about Dance Across the Decades (aka DAD) is the silent auction to be held on Saturday, April 23 from 7 to 10 p.m. Last year the auction netted over $2,000 toward support of South County Community Services (SCCS) programming. And there was an extra cachet in the amazing stories that emanated from the effort. That is why the auction portion of the fundraiser is now called the Amazing Auction, according to Danna Downing, SCCS executive director.

The event planners want to share just a few stories that illustrate what can happen when folks who donate auction items to support SCCS hook up with inspired shoppers who also support the agency.

John Thomas with Appell Gibson Bowl
John Thomas with the Lloyd Appell Gibson guitar bowl from the 2015 auction.

STORY #1: The Gibson Bowl

At the 2015 DAD Auction, a hot item was a bowl crafted from scrap wood secured from the Gibson Guitar Company. It was crafted and donated by Lloyd Appell. After promoting it on the Lori Moore Show, a former Gibson employee and Kalamazoo gal, Irene Stearns, contacted him and arranged to meet him at the dance so she could bid on the bowl. She desperately wanted to buy that bowl to give to her dear friend John Thomas, who recently authored the book Kalamazoo Gals, which honored the women who made guitars during World War II. Thomas had recently spoken at the Schoolcraft Community Library and his books were on sale locally. That led to adding a copy of Kalamazoo Gals to the auction package, along with background information provided by Appell. Lloyd and Irene got to chatting at the dance and as a result Lloyd was invited to meet the author at an informal gathering hosted at Irene’s home. It was a memorable day for all who attended to hear John playing his own Gibson guitar before being royally surprised and delighted with the presentation of the Gibson bowl.

STORY #2: The $400 Bottle of Wine

Kristina Powers Aubry, a well-known wine lover, suggested to her friends Margaret and Karl Kerchief they might like to donate a bottle of fine wine they didn’t quite know what to do with. They received the wine from their daughter, who received it from a couple (one of whom is a cardiologist) who wanted to show their appreciation for her fine work as their au pair. A special license was required to include alcohol in the auction and there were some doubts about who would bid on such an expensive item. All doubts were amazingly dispelled when Mark and Sheri Louis began bidding on the item. It turns out Mark is a wine maker and his son-in-law, Drew, is a wine collector. The Chateau Margeaux Grand was a rare find for the collector and was bottled in 1982, the year Drew’s wife and Mark and Sheri’s daughter, Shelly, was born. To top it off, Shelly was scheduled for cardiac surgery in the month following the dance. As Sheri expressed it: “That wine needed to be in their lives.” So they got serious about the bidding for the “perfect” thing for Shelly and Drew. That made for a perfect ending for all concerned. Shelly is doing well. Both givers and recipients were happy with the gift. The money to good use helping South County families.

Gold Star baby quilt in progress, not pinned
Jonatha Johnson’s hand-made gold star baby quilt will be auctioned off at the Dance Across the Decades.

STORY #3: Gold Star Baby Quilt

The Gold Star Baby Quilt was donated by Jonatha Johnson who lives in Vicksburg. She is a key player in the development of Vicksburg’s community gardens. When asked why she donated the baby quilt, she replied, “Because it is my way of giving.”

Jonatha learned to make patchwork as a child from her mother and aunts. It gets its name from the stars built into the sashing that connects the blue 9-patch blocks. Gold and blue are a classic combination and for many reflect the team colors of the University of Michigan. Jonatha believes that, “Every child born should be welcomed into this world, and handmade items carry something of the goodwill of the creator, as well as the love and care of the giver,” she said. To Jonatha, a patchwork quilt is a statement of economy and frugality, where even small scraps are made useful, reflecting the jingle popularized during the Great Depression, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

“At the heart of the art of patchwork quilting are the core values of a people, and that is my gift to SCCS,” she emphasizes. She trusted that the coverlet would serve a dual purpose, as a fundraising item at the SCCS auction and a snuggly blanket for someone’s baby. David and Jackie Sirotti must have agreed with Jonatha’s assessment because they bid on the beautiful “blankie” to help them welcome a new arrival in their dear nephew’s family. As volunteers at SCCS, Jackie and Dave also agree that it was a generous and lovely addition to last year’s auction.

Sneak Preview for 2016 Auction:

Italian Dinner for 10, Pandora Bracelet, Handmade Quilt created by Jennifer Appell (Burleson, Tex.) entitled Cactus Wreath Quilt (6’ x 6’). Hand-crafted recipe boxes, coasters and items from the Kindling Maker-aka Larry Forsyth.

A very popular Smoked Dinner for six from David Aubry, floral painting by Vicki Bell, a quart of Charlie Kendall’s home-made maple syrup, an autographed limited-edition Children’s Literary Collection, gift baskets, gift certificates, garden specials, and much more.

Do You Have Concerns About Falling?

balance class
Aileen Greanya and Lynn Timko, are the Matter of Balance instructors for the upcoming spring session. Lynn is a retired chemist from Pfizer and Aileen is a retired teacher and reading specialist. Jean Shutes, seated, has been successful in taking the class by learning the exercises and practicing them every day, she says.

If so, there is a class that can help anyone learn the tenets of staying on your feet without falling. It is called Matter of Balance and is offered under the auspices of the South County Community Services (SCCS) in Vicksburg.

The class is meant for individuals or someone they care about, who has concerns about falling. Do these concerns keep people from enjoying life to the fullest? Are people physically active enough to keep their mind and body in shape? If so, Matter of Balance is an award-winning, evidence-based program that will help anyone manage concerns about falls, and help them improve balance and strength, says Danna Downing, executive director of SCCS.

Matter of Balance is led by two trained community volunteers passionate about helping people age well and enjoy life. With the help of instructors Aileen Greanya and Lynn Pruit-Timko, you will learn to view falls as controllable and make changes to reduce fall risks at home and out in the community. You will learn easy-to-do exercises to improve strength and balance. Class members will set goals for increasing activity. And, they will be a part of a group that will inspire and support anyone while improving their quality of life.

The instructors give tips on keeping one’s house safe from falls. This includes bannisters, throw rugs that can trip a person, and exercises for better balance. The classes have been popular and well attended in the past. “We learn from each other and have fun in the process,” says Greanya.

Matter of Balance is part of the Healthy Living Series provided by the Area Agency on Aging IIIA. Although donations are greatly appreciated there is no charge for the class. Classes are held twice a week for four weeks. The next session of Matter of Balance is scheduled Tuesdays and Fridays from May 3 – May 27. It will be held at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Call South County Community Services at 269-649-2901 to register. Pre-registration is necessary to assure adequate class materials and refreshments.

Vicksburg United Way Wins $1,000 for STEAM Program

United Way
United Way committee members are pictured from left to right: Laura Howard, Danna Downing, Tonya Nash, Cindy Kole, Mike Larsen, Travis Cree in back of Superintendent Charlie Glaes and Jake Biernacki.

By Sue Moore

A prize of $1,000 was presented to the Vicksburg schools by Mike Larson, executive director of United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and Cindy Cole, Vicksburg resident and former United Way board chair, at the February school board meeting.

The United Way Community Challenge responsible for the $1,000 bonus check came from a contest between Vicksburg and Gull Lake competition to see who could increase their giving the most in 2015. The $1,000 was to come from restricted funds not included in the actual campaign, according to Larson, who championed the competitive challenge.

Each local United Way board agreed to participate, based upon its ability to increase donations. The criteria was based on percentage of new businesses contributing, increase of new individual donors, and increase in dollars raised year-over-year. “The best part of the challenge was the increased participation we had from members of the Vicksburg Community Schools staff through the efforts of Tonya Nash and many others,” Laura Howard told the board. She was chairperson of the local effort.

The school personnel had a huge increase in donations, as did the entire community, Howard said. “That’s why we were able to secure the extra $1,000 for equipment to start the Project Lead the Way/Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) offering at Indian Lake Elementary School, led by art teacher Jake Biernacki.”

This is a pilot program at Indian Lake. Biernacki took special training in STEAM over the summer to be able to lead this innovative program for students in his art classroom. As part of STEAM, the third graders are testing gliders by studying wings, the fourth grade is completing an egg drop experiment, and the fifth grade is learning more about robotics and automation, he told the board.

“The schools are our greatest partner,” Larson said. “This United Way investment in education is a pivotal part of United Way’s strategic plan in the greater Kalamazoo and Battle Creek communities.”

Cultural Arts Center Has Many Events Set for April

vcac

By Sue Moore

The new Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (VCAV) is launching a blockbuster list of activities for April as a way to get the community interested in what the VCAC has to offer, said Syd Bastos, VCAC Manager.

She has completely retooled the offerings along with help from Leigh Fryling, events coordinator and Lisa Beams, artist coordinator. The arts world has flourished in the Vicksburg area for many years, but only recently has it had a place to showcase the work of some really competent artists, Bastos explained.

With a lot of volunteer effort and some grants to pay small salary stipends, the staff has transformed the building at 200 S. Main Street in Vicksburg from what had been a storage area for Rawlinson’s Appliances to a cozy gallery and performance venue. Thirteen local artists currently display their work at the gallery.

In addition to the gallery, the VCAC plans seven to ten public events each month, ranging from musical presentations, guest artist exhibits, and special activities, she pointed out. The signature event for April is The Art of Elegance, a Victorian Tea on Saturday, April 16. It will have a presentation on fine handcrafts from the Victorian Era by local business owner, Tanya DeLong. Classically trained violinist Julio Sepulveda and pianist Nancy Mansberger will be performing live during the tea. The cost is $15 at the door. Reservations are strongly recommended by calling Bastos at 269-501-1347.

Another featured event happens on Saturday, April 30. Mac Hultmark, composer and pianist will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. He plays classical and contemporary pieces. He studied at Western Michigan University and has performed at Bridgewater Place in Grand Rapids and locally at the Epic Center and Henderson Castle in Kalamazoo.

The Center is also planning some recurring events each month. One in particular that is catching on is Board Game Night for all ages. Families are encouraged to check their phones and tablets at the door and pick out one of the games on hand, or bring a favorite from home. This event will be held every 2nd Thursday from 4-7 p.m. This month, that’s April 14.

If you want to show your work at the gallery, rent the gallery for a private event or be considered for a performance event, you can email the them at info@vicksburgarts.com or call Bastos. You can also follow the VCAC on Facebook at facebook.com/vicksburgculturalartscenter.

Following is a roster of scheduled events for April and early May:

4/1 – Fri. April Fools Silly Song Sing Along at the VCAC, 4- 5:30 p.m., free.

4/7 – Thurs. DIY Papered Pots Party at the VCAC, 4-6 pm, $10 donation at the door to cover supplies.

4/14 – Thurs. Board Game Night at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. Games available or bring your own. All ages welcome! 4 – 7 p.m., free.

4/16 – Sat. Victorian Tea at the VCAC 2 -5 p.m. Presentation by Tanya Delong, music by violinist Julio Sepulveda and pianist Nancy Mansberger, $15 at door, reservations important.

4/22 – Fri. New Artist Reception at the VCAC 6-8 p.m. Meet the Gallery’s newest artists, Nancy Smith, Pam Davidson and Aerick Burton, free.

4/23 – Sat. Spring Clean Clothing and Prom Dress Swap, DIY Fashion Upcycle and Bleach Printing at the VCAC 2-6 p.m., free. No prom dress to swap? Limited supply of prom dresses available for donations.

4/27 – Wed. Mighty Pen Open Mic at the VCAC. Read your poetry, monologue or excerpt 6:30-8:30 p.m., free.

4/30 – Sat. Live Music at the VCAC, Mac Hultmark, composer and pianist, performs 7-9 p.m., free.

5/5 – Thurs. Gallery Gals Night at the VCAC 6-9 p.m. Jewelry making, Jamberry nails, makeup demonstrations, chair massage, essential oils in creams and soaps and more! $10 donation at the door.