Vicksburg Vision Capital Campaign Plans Golf Outing

188_4272x2848_all-free-download.com_16685584The Village of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg DDA will host its third public fundraising event for the Vicksburg Vision Capital Campaign on May 21: a golf outing at Angels Crossing Golf Club.

A complimentary continental breakfast will be provided to participants during a team check-in at 8 a.m. Mulligans will also be for sale during this time. At 9 a.m.., the registered teams will begin the golf scramble event with a shotgun start. A lunch will be provided to participants after golf or at 2:30 p.m. A beverage cart will also be running throughout the course of the scramble.

The Vicksburg Vision Capital Campaign will be hosting several contests with opportunities to win prizes for golfers. Contests include closest to pin and longest drive. There will be several prizes, including Angel’s Crossings golf passes, gift baskets. Golf scrambles are a great way to learn how to play golf, have fun, and bond with teammates. It doesn’t matter if the player is well-seasoned or just a beginner; all players are guaranteed to have a good time.

The registration fee is $100 per player or $400 per four-person team. Corporate sponsorships are also available. Those wishing to register a team for the event or purchase a corporate sponsorship may call (269) 993-2764 by May 10. Golfers can also register at or mail a registration form to the Vicksburg Cultural Art Center, 200 South Main Street, Vicksburg, by May 10. Mary Ruple, the coordinator for the golf outing fundraiser, is hopeful that this event and others will continue to help the Vicksburg Vision Capital Campaign raise the money needed for proposed village-wide improvements.

Fire Authority Board Hit with Concerns about the Chief

By Sue Moore

A move by the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority to seek applicants for the fire chief’s post now held by Tracy McMillan has angered those who say McMillan is capable in the job and should be retained.

But Bill Adams, a member of the authority board’s human resources committee as well as Vicksburg’s village president, indicated that McMillan is reluctant to take on increased administrative duties as recommended by a consultant’s report. And board Chairman Randy Smith said that McMillan’s decision to run for Schoolcraft Township supervisor could create a potential conflict of interest.

More than 40 people crowded into the authority’s meeting room, most to complain about the decision to post the job opening.

Two of the people speaking on Chief Tracy McMillan’s behalf were his son and daughter, who serve with the department. Several others decried the actions they see aimed at removing the chief from his job.

A paramedic spoke about the nurturing she received from Chief McMillan when she started at the age of 15. “He welcomed me, taught me the rules and how to perform to the best of my abilities. He is a dedicated public servant, always helping people in the community. He’s not ready to retire.”

McMillan did not comment on the matter.

Adams tried to set the record straight: “People take what’s going on and it gets amplified so the facts become unrecognizable. We want the fire department to be the best of the best. To help identify the best practices, we brought in a consultant to look at our entire operation. We met with the chief regarding the conclusions, which focused on the need for administrative duties as a big part of the chief’s job description. Tracy indicated he wanted to be out in the field and didn’t want the administrative duties the consultant was recommending.”

Jim Deming, also a member of the board’s human resources committee and a firefighter in Pavilion Township, told the audience, “We want the administrator chief to make decisions and not the board. We won’t have people in between. We are putting the administration back into the chief’s hands. This is not to take anything away from Chief McMillan. He is more than welcome to apply.”

The board then voted to post the job with a timeline of interviewing candidates in June and hiring by July.

“This doesn’t reflect on the chief’s performance,” Randy Smith, chair of the board said. He referred to McMillan’s filing for the township post. “It’s not clear whether you could be chief and also sit on this board if elected. The supervisor is the usual appointee from the township. That might weigh the voting rights too heavily on one particular governmental entity. We need to consult with our attorney to sort all of the ramifications of this out before we get to election day in November and all of a sudden need a new fire chief.”

Trailhead Construction to Begin in May

trail 2
Ron Smith, Bill Deming and Julie Merrill consider the trail head construction at a Parks and Recreation committee meeting.

By Sue Moore

The former car wash at the corner of N. Richardson Street and North Street will be gone in a twinkling of an eye when H&K Excavating brings in its heavy equipment to level the building in mid-May, according to Kathleen Hoyle, Downtown Development Authority Director (DDA).

A delay in construction, originally expected to begin in March, followed discovery of soil contamination on the site. That has been remedied so that trail expansion can begin to become a reality soon, Hoyle said. The purchase, clean-up and rebuilding is being financed by a crowdfunding effort spearheaded by the DDA. Thirty one residents and businesses gave generously to the tune of $32,770. The crowdfunding site was sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) which matched what was raised locally with $32,500.

“This site is the gateway to downtown Vicksburg,” Hoyle exclaimed. “It will provide 20 parking spaces and interpretive graphics about the trail. It will have benches for people to rest on, coming off the current trail which starts just north of the old Bobby’s restaurant. The trail, when it is built, will proceed on the north side of the railroad tracks, cross N. Main Street and wind its way around the Sunset Lake pond near Family Fare. There will be some stenciled concrete and an overhead archway with a sign announcing the trailhead.”

What the trail won’t have for now is a rest room facility. Plans are being formulated to build a rest room on Historic Village property by the community garden. Funding is being sought from grants. Applications are still being fine-tuned.

DDA Façade Grants Leverage $78,000 in Improvements

Downtown Vicksburg scheduled for a facelift.

By Sue Moore

The Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) received 11 applications for the $23,475 the board will provide in facade improvement grants for stores on Main and Prairie Streets. A total of 10 projects qualified.

The projects include awnings, window replacements, signs, porch and balcony, brick restoration, and complete front facade upgrades.

Combined with other sources, including amounts from building owners, improvements are expected to cost approximately $78,000.

The authority’s contribution includes $10,000 from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) with no strings attached to the DDA for this project. The Authority added $13,475 to jump start the facial upgrade in hopes that customers and visitors to the village will see a marked improvement to the businesses, Kathleen Hoyle, DDA director said. “The objective of the Facade Improvement Grant Program is to assist businesses and commercial property owners with improving building appearance, while adhering to the Vicksburg DDA Downtown Design Guidelines and historic color selections.”

The grant will be provided in the form of a reimbursement of eligible costs incurred and paid, utilizing a construction draw process, once the improvements have been completed, inspected, and approved. The approved applicant must submit all paid invoices to the Authority before any reimbursement can be provided. Approved reimbursements will only be made to the building owner or lessee. Applicants must complete the façade improvement project within a four-month period following grant approval and date of the notification letter on May 17.

Besides the outright facade grant, the DDA also has a low-interest façade loan program for up to $10,000 over three years.  The Vicksburg Foundation long ago gave the DDA the original $30,000 it currently had in the Façade Loan Fund. LISC is adding $50,000 to it now, so the fund now has a lending pool of $80,000.

Food Distribution Spearheaded by Sally Kohler

Larry and Sally Kohler
Sally and Larry Kohler. Photo by David Westman.

By David Westman

It’s early morning on the third Saturday of the month. There’s a flurry of activity in the quiet confines of the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Volunteers are working to get ready for arrival of a truck carrying food from Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes.

The volunteers will unload and set up for the morning’s distribution provided by the Mobile Food Initiative (MFI), a year-round program that distributes food at six different county sites each month and is one of Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes most recent programs.

The goal of the program is to get additional supplies of groceries into the hands of people who need it in Kalamazoo County. As a partnership with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, the Initiative distributes perishable and non-perishable food items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, wherever they can easily be distributed. At VUMC, about 70 people will be coming to the church where food is given out on a first-come, first-served basis from 8:30-10 a.m.

The activities of the morning are overseen by Sally Kohler. She is the volunteer coordinator of the Mobile Food Initiative program at Vicksburg United Methodist church. In February, 2013, South County Community Services was going through some changes and needed to move the MFI program management from its control. A new coordinator was needed and Kohler stepped in to take over the program. She has helped hundreds of food-insecure people since that time just because she feels it is the right thing to do. “There are those that are less fortunate and why shouldn’t we help them?” she said.

Kohler is passionate about helping those in need both through the church and through her regular job. During the day, Kohler said, she is “just a cashier” in the pharmacy department at Walmart in Portage. But behind the scenes, Kohler works with her store manager GeriLynn Olson, to provide additional resources to those in need. According to Olson, her store gets credits from the parent corporation for employees volunteering. Walmart participates in the Feeding America program and donations from Walmart assist those who are food insecure, which describes about one in eight Americans who aren’t always sure where their next meal is coming from.

The in-store claims department at Walmart realized how much food was being turned into them and being thrown away. Often times grocery packaging is damaged and cannot be sold due to the defect.However it is only a cosmetic defect and the contents are perfectly fine. Kohler took on the responsibility to distribute these food items to local organizations with one stipulation. “I told them that I wanted the discretion to distribute where the need is greatest and they agreed.”

Generous Hands in Vicksburg has been a recipient of these donations.This agency supplies Friday Food Packs primarily to children in the Vicksburg community who qualify for free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs. Kohler works with the claims department collecting the donations and about once a month Larry Kohler, Sally’s husband, will deliver several cases of grocery items to the Generous Hands warehouse for future distribution.

One example of this donation was cookies that were sold around Christmas time with snowflakes stamped on them. After the holidays the seasonal items were removed from the shelves at Walmart and Generous Hands received so many cases of cookies that they were able to put a full package into over 400 backpacks of food.

In addition, Olson and Kohler were excited to share that they will be able to provide additional resources and foods such as dairy and frozen foods when the Portage Walmart becomes a SuperCenter later this year.

The needs of the many and their communities are often met by the dedication and actions of a few, said Sheri Louis, executive director of Generous Hands, expressing gratitude for the contributions of food and help.

Spring Sports Teams in Schoolcraft are Winning Big

By Sean Budlong

Schoolcraft’s sports teams have played limited dates this spring, but are already experiencing success. The Eagles field teams in baseball, softball, track and field, girls’ soccer, girls’ tennis and boys golf.

The tennis team has started 4-0, and is getting stronger. “We are really developing as a team,” junior Jenna Barter said. “Our doubles teams are working well together and are helping to carry the team early in the season. This season should be great, and we have a great shot to make it to State as a team.”

The Eagles softball team has only one senior in the starting lineup, but the skill of the younger players has made up for the inexperience. Behind Alyssa Proper’s pitching (as well as playing multiple defensive positions), Lydia Goble’s and Brooke Crissman’s hitting, and solid defense, the Eagles have a 3-1 record. Nicole Abel, Kennedy Leighton, Marissa Sootsman and Mikayla Mead have started the season strong in the field and at the plate. The Eagles’ lone loss came in the first game of the season when Kalamazoo Hackett scored in the final inning to earn a 4-3 victory. Schoolcraft followed that loss with a 15-7 victory over Hackett, and outscored Decatur 24-7 in a double-header sweep. The Eagles hope their fourth victory of the season is a harbinger of things to come. Down 2-0 to Decatur after one inning, Schoolcraft stormed back with seven runs on hits by Leighton, Sootsman, Goble, and Crissman. Already, Goble and Crissman have double-digit runs batted in, and each hit a home run.

Like the softball team, Schoolcraft’s baseball team dropped its first game to Kalamazoo Hackett. The Eagles–ranked sixth in Division 3–have also roared back to post a 4-1 record thus far. Early in the season, Blake Bales, Ricky Clark, Caleb Anspaugh, Nolan Anspaugh, Darren Kehoe, and Carlos Andino have found success at the plate. Bales and Clark have also been strong on the pitching mound. In the second game against Decatur, the Eagles had to fight back from a 3-1 deficit in the fifth inning. Clark pitched a solid game, allowing his team to chip away at the Raider’s lead. In the eighth inning, Nolan Anspaugh drove in Bales (pinch running for Cody Tone) for the game winner.

The boys’ golf went to State last year, and are looking to Nick Jasick, Blake Bales, and Andrew Julien to lead them back again. Early in the season, Bales and Julien have played well even as the team has struggled to find momentum. Last season’s experience should allow the Eagles to improve their scores as the weather improves.

In its second season of existence, the girls’ soccer team is getting contributions from returning and new players. Hannah Huysken has given the Eagles a shot of energy on offense, scoring three goals in three games. Janis Thiede, Emma Woodhams, Breanna Varker, and Chrissy Winkle have carried the team as it develops chemistry. Sam Spears has played well in net, as the Eagles have started the season 1-2.

Varsity Bulldog Teams Start Strong in Spring Sports

bulldogBy Travis Smola

Vicksburg’s varsity athletics teams have had a very strong start to the packed spring sports schedule.

Baseball is playing very well; the team had an excellent double header against Three Rivers on April 14. The Bulldogs won a tight first game against the Wildcats 2-0, with runs scored by Michael Scoffin and Garrett Ketelaar. In the second game, Ketelaar, Ryan Morgan, Adam Henderson, Matthew Holman, Danny Johnston and Drew Hamilton all stole bases.

A big double by Ketelaar in the 5th inning drove in Morgan and Henderson for runs. The final score was 9-1.

The lacrosse team played an absolute nail biter of a game against DeWitt April 16. After going up 8-0 early, the Panthers cut the lead to two late in the second. Good defense helped the Bulldogs hold on in the last 40 seconds for a 12-11 win.

Senior Justin Gearig led the scoring with five goals. Sophomore Gavin Leach was right behind him with three. Sophomore Tim Gearig had two. Juniors Blake Rankin and Cole Flintrop had one goal each. The team is currently undefeated.

Out on the links, the Bulldogs have had an up and down season. They had their best finish yet at a jamboree event at Angels Crossing. The boys used a home course advantage on a cold and windy day to earn a second place finish.

Junior Adam Grabowski is the team’s top player, getting better every time out on the course and currently holding onto 9th place in the league. Senior Zach Rzepka is making the most of his senior year by showcasing some excellent shot-making ability. And senior Daniel Gwin has been the team’s most consistent player, shooting 42-44 on average.

Really hitting its stride this year is the track team, which piled up successes during April. The team picked up wins over Otsego and Edwardsburg, but the highlight of the season so far is a huge win for the boys at the Paw Paw Lions Club Invitational April 16. They are now ranked eighth in the state.

The team excelled in many areas. Senior Jude Wisser turned in strong performances in hurdles including a first place finish in the 110m finals. Seniors John Hughes and Tyler Lewis turned in strong finishes in the 1600m finals.

The 100m finals had seniors Jacob Root, Mark Batican and Matthew Klingele taking 2nd, 4th and 5th places respectively. Similarly, Austin Hallam, Andrew Hall and Gary Corsaut all had a strong showing in the 400m finals. Juniors Noah Burton and Morgan Scott also did well in high jump and pole vault.

In relay competition, the team of Hallam, Huges, Lewis and Strong took first in the 4×800 relay finals.

The varsity softball team is off to an excellent start this season. The girls swept Three Rivers in a double-header by scores of 14-0 and 12-2.

In the first game, the girls played perfect defense and batted in runners and stole bases at will. Sophomore pitcher Avery Slanick threw an excellent first game. Many Lady Bulldogs rounded the bases but the biggest scoring highlights were senior Alicia Cagney and junior Raquel Rice’s huge solo home runs in the third inning.

Despite losing some key senior athletes last season, the track team is having a solid year so far. The girls have had some close finishes and a second place finish at the Paw Paw Lions Club Invitational. At home against Allegan on April 19, the Lady Bulldogs defeated the Tigers 72-64.

Junior Layna Steele has picked up right where she left off last year. She took first in both the 400 and 800 meter finals while junior Kasmyn VanMaanen took first the 1600 and 3200 meters. In the 4×100 relay it was the team of Skylar Rogenski, Oliva Lewis, Desiree Gonzalez and Alyssa Kirby taking first.

Vicksburg dominated the relays. They took first in the 4×400 relay with the team of Savannah McDowell, Gonzalez, Kendal Hall and Steele. The 4×800 team consisting of Kendal Hall, Hannah Flickinger, Angie Loriso and VanMaanen also outpaced the Tigers for first. Junior Grace Welch took first in shot put and Rogenski took first in the long jump.

In tennis, the Lady Bulldogs are also having a good year. They tied with Coldwater and tied Edwardsburg. But in perhaps the biggest win of the year, they easily defeated Three Rivers 7-1 on April 20 on the Wildcats’ home courts.

Sophomore Makenna Leach and seniors Kaitlyn Reed and Megan Wolf all defeated their opponents in individual completion. In doubles it was a clean sweep for the Lady Bulldogs. The teams of junior Anna Costanzo and sophomore Maria Guerra won both their games 6-0, as did the senior team of Kaylynn Ruger and Amanda Swope.

Seniors Brooke Bittenbender and Ashley Taylor also easily defeated their opponents. The team of freshman Nicola Hosner and Amanda Munn played the closest doubles action of the night, defeating their opponents by scores of 6-2 and 6-1.

The soccer team had a rough start to the season with some big losses, but the girls put on an absolute clinic during an 8-0 shutout victory on home turf against Dowagiac on April 20.

Seniors Maddison Prebenda and Makenzie Olson each had a goal. Junior Carrie Cornett and sophomore Hailey Burr each had a couple of goals. Cornett’s second goal was probably the best of the night, coming off an excellent long-range cross assist from junior Amy Kosiba.

Vicksburg & Schoolcraft Event Calendar May 2016


5/5 – Thurs. Gallery Gal’s Night Out! 6-9 p.m., Suggested donation of $5, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 200 S. Main St.

5/6 – Fri. Art Show and Open House Reception with Lisa Beam 6:30-8 p.m. at the Vicksburg District Library.

5/7 – Sat. SPRING BAKE & GARAGE SALE 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Scotts United Methodist Church located behind Scotts Community Center on 36th St.

5/7 – Sat. Klines Resort Open House, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sweetwater doughnuts, golf cart tours, visit homes for sale, lunch with keyboard music by Matt Weddon.

5/7 – Sat. Vicksburg Community Education dance recital 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

5/8 – Sun. Gilmore piano concert, 4 p.m. Vicksburg Performing Arts Center.

5/12 – Thurs. Cambri’s benefit concert 7 p.m. Vicksburg Performing Arts Center.

5/12 – Thurs. Board Game Night! Free! 4-7 p.m., Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 200 S. Main St.

5/13 – Fri. Vicksburg High School Art Show Reception, 6-8 p.m. Free! Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 200 S. Main St.

5/13 & 5/14 – Fri. & Sat. 4th annual garage sale at Greensborough Angels Crossing off W Ave. in Vicksburg, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

5/14 – Sat. Hearty Hustle, Vicksburg High School stadium, 9 a.m.

5/17 – Tues. 7 p.m. The Historical Society is sponsoring national author, Suzi Parron, and book signing following her slide presentation of barn quilt trails across the country at the Vicksburg District Library.

5/20 – Fri. Vicksburg Farmers’ Market opening day, 2-6:30 p.m.

5/20 Fri. – Red Cross Blood Drive at the Vicksburg District Library, 10:15 a.m.-4:15 p.m.

5/20 – Fri. Meet the Wood Turners – Free! Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 200 S. Main St.

5/21 – Sat. 1st Annual VCAC Euchre Tournament! $10 for single player/$15 for a partner pair. 6-9 p.m., Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 200 S. Main St.

5/21 – Sat. Craft and Vendor Show to benefit Generous Hands. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Lakeland Reformed Church, 10442 Sprinkle Road. Admission is free, requesting monetary or food donations for the backpack program in exchange for raffle tickets.

5/21 – Sat. The Historical Society is sponsoring a Barn Quilt Painting Workshop from 12:30-4:30 p.m. at the Vicksburg District Library. Limited to 20 students, $40 fee, reserve your spot by calling 269-329-0481.

5/21 – Vision Campaign golf scramble, 8 a.m. breakfast, 9 a.m. shotgun start, Angels Crossing.

5/21 – Victorian Garden Club clean up at the Historic Village 9 a.m.-noon followed by a sloppy-Joe lunch in the pavilion. Everyone welcome.

5/22 – Sun. Vicksburg Historical Society Open House and dedication of the general store and Doris-Lee Sweet Shop, 2-4 p.m.

5/27 – Fri. May 27th. Free Live Music! The Living Room Musicians, 7-9 p.m., Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 200 S. Main St.

5/29 – Gospel concert at Klines Resort, 6:30 p.m., Soul’s Harbor. Bring chair for lawn seating.

5/30 – Pancake breakfast, 8-10 a.m. at Kline’s Resort clubhouse, sponsored by Carers & Sharers of Portage Lake.

5/30 – Memorial Day, Vicksburg parade 10 a.m. and ceremony at cemetery.
5/31 – Vicksburg High School band concert, 7-9 p.m. PAC.

6/3 & 6/4 – Fri. & Sat. Community Yard Sales in the Centennial development off 22nd between U and V.

6/4 – Eighth annual Bubs 73 Golf Outing at Pineview Golf Club, 8-9 a.m., registration, 10 a.m. shotgun start, $55/person, $220/team.

6/4 – Victorian Garden Club plant sale, 9-1 p.m., community pavilion, N. Richardson Street.

6/5 – Vicksburg High School graduation 2 p.m.


5/10 – Fri. Ladies Library Association tea honoring the young women of Schoolcraft High School’s class of 2016, 1 p.m. at the Ladies Library Building.

5/11 – Sat. Open House to honor those listed on a plaque to honor former Schoolcraft library board members and directors, 6:30 p.m., refreshments will be served.

5/13 & 5/14 – Friday and Saturday, Village-wide garage sales. All day.

5/13 & 14 – Fri. & Sat., The Friends of the Library annual book and bake sale, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri., and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat.

5/16 – Mon. Schoolcraft PTO, 6:30 p.m. elementary school library.

5/21 – Sat. Village-wide clean up in the morning.

5/21 – Sat. 2 p.m. Barbara Gulley from Barb’s Tea Shop is serving up a delightful presentation on Downton Abbey people, places, manners, dress and tea fashion. Two Michigan Tea Room books will be raffled. This adult program has limited space; registration required.

6/5 – Sun. Schoolcraft High School graduation, 3 p.m.

In May, the Spring Brick Sale begins at the library. Celebrate grads, moms and dads by purchasing a brick to have specially engraved for the library brick walk. Cost is $75 for a 4” x 8” brick. Order forms are available at the circulation desk. Sale price is available the entire month of May.

The library has six brand new Kindle Fire tablets ready to lend out to patrons. The devices will circulate as a “try it before you buy it” type of program. Patrons can read ebooks, check email, download apps, etc. It’s an exciting new addition and Faye VanRavenswaay, the library director, is eager to get some feedback from the patrons.