Monthly Archives: November 2016

Schoolcraft Alumni Association Meet and Greet

By Sue Hendriksma

The Schoolcraft Alumni Association’s first “Meet and Greet” for alumni at Bud’s Bar after the Homecoming football game on September 16 was a success, the group agreed. Over 40 alumni of Schoolcraft schools attended, many with guests. They seemed to have a great time seeing old friends. Many in the crowd were graduates from the 80s and 90s, but there were a few folks from the 60s and 70s and others from 2000+. Former Principal Richard Moon was there as were retired teachers Bob Crissman and Mike Stiles. They seemed to enjoy catching up with former students as much as alums enjoyed catching up with them.

As a result of this event, nearly $800 was raised toward scholarships that will be awarded to Schoolcraft graduates in spring 2017. The president of the group, Judy Oliphant, pointed out that the Alumni Association is now an official organization of Schoolcraft Schools. She encouraged alumni to stay in contact with the Association through its link on the Schoolcraft Schools website, its Facebook group, or by email at Major objectives of the Alumni Association are to continue to provide ways for alumni to stay in contact with each other and the schools and to support current graduates with scholarships for further study.

Bus Trip to Chicago

Kathy Forsythe and her friend Annette Smitley on the bus trip to Chicago in 2015.

A bus trip to Chicago is being offered by the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation as a fundraiser, but it is also a “fun raising” trip according to Kathy Forsythe, a trustee of the Foundation. “I look forward to this event every year. The Schools Foundation provides the bus, which makes travel into downtown Chicago stress free. Over the years my family and friends have enjoyed some unique shops, wonderful food, and the beautiful architecture of downtown Chicago.”

The trip is scheduled for Saturday, November 12, leaving at 7 a.m. from Sunset Lake Elementary and returning there around 10:30 p.m. The 66 riders get dropped off by Water Tower Place and picked up at the corner of State and Superior at 7 p.m. Central Standard time. It is $50 per person with snacks and beverages provided on the bus. Contact Amy Manchester at 269-321-1006, or for further information and tickets.

Historical Homes Tour Set in Schoolcraft in December

Tickets are now on sale for the Historical Homes for the Holidays tour in Schoolcraft on December 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. for a trip into Schoolcraft’s past. Four owners of Schoolcraft’s historic homes and the Schoolcraft Ladies Library will open their doors for ticketed guests aged 16 and up for the tour.

Tickets are $25 per person, are limited to 200 attendees and are available at the Schoolcraft Library or online at: The big event is sponsored by Friends of the Library.

Deb Christiansen will be creating a booklet for the tour that will include a little of the history of the homes and ads from the historic Schoolcraft Express. Included on the tour are four homes, two churches, and the Ladies Library building.

The Berglund home at 328 W Clay St., is an 1831 Greek revival built by young attorney Lyman Daniels and is said to be one of the oldest homes in Kalamazoo County. The Flinton home at 228 W Cass St., is the former residence of Dr. Nathan Thomas, the first doctor in Kalamazoo County and whose first home was the historical Underground Railway House. The Truesdell house at 158 S. Grand St., was built in 1884 by gentleman farmer Thomas Nesbitt. This home has been restored using decorative techniques appropriate to 1884. The Dehart home at 14025 S. 14th St., was built around 1872 when Louisa Cobb bought the 120-acre lot. Her father-in-law was an attorney and one of the most well-known people in Kalamazoo County.

The Schoolcraft United Methodist Church has been on the corner of Grand and Clay Streets since the early 1850s started by the Reverend Clements. The congregation was originally organized in Prairie Ronde Township in 1832. The Presbyterian Church is actually the new building replacing the original one that was built in 1851. This brick building at the corner of Cedar and Cass was built in 1892 and cost $4,278. The Ladies Library at 163 N. Hayward St., was built in 1896, and is a registered Michigan Historical Site. The Ladies Library Association was founded in 1879 to provide educational opportunities to local women and is still active today.

Bowmans BBQ & Meat Market Opens in Climax

From left to right: Frank Bowman, Ron Miller (standing in back) Erma Hoskin, Lori Johnson, Brent Foltz.

By Sheryl Oswalt

It was a sunny and seventy-degree October morning that I headed out for this month’s food interview. Much like the rarity of the weather we’ve been experiencing; so is Bowmans BBQ & Meat Market. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with this unique eating establishment nestled inside what used to be the Spartan grocery store just outside Climax on ON Avenue.

Along with owning and operating a custom butchering operation for the past 20 years, Frank Bowman and his wife, Susan, have been doing catering. As the business grew to its limits at the butcher facility, Frank decided to take his craft to the next level. Along with cooking in competitions and catering, he found himself smoking and preparing meats in a restaurant setting in Battle Creek.

After getting his feet wet in the restaurant business and liking it, it didn’t take long for the couple to decide to take the leap and return to Climax when the town’s only grocery store closed. Rather than leave the locals with little option but to drive to Battle Creek or Galesburg to get groceries and incidentals, Frank decided to see if Climax was ready for a restaurant-store combination.

Along with the typical small grocery offerings, this store carries a wide variety of spices, rubs, and seasonings for barbequing and smoking meats. Frank doesn’t shy away from competition; he hopes to become a go-to place for meat-smoking supplies for those of us learning the craft.

There are so many wonderful things in the meat case that I can’t even cover them all. Smoked Louisiana style sausages are a specialty; andouille and Boudin (pronounced boo-dahn) crawfish sausages, just to name a couple. Blueberry maple breakfast sausage, apple brats (seasonally), tasso ham, sugar-cured hickory smoked bacon – regular, pepper and Cajun. Home-made jerky and snack sticks, chorizo, corned beef, home-made hot dogs and bologna fill the shelves too.

Whether you shop before or after is up to you, but don’t make the drive without planning time to eat. The meats are amazing and so are the sides. Like most popular barbeque specialty places, you purchase your meat option and the sides are separate; add as many or as few as you like. They are also made from scratch at the market. Right now you can try their sweet heat salsa – made of pepper relish, no tomatoes. It was awesome but it is something you only want to try if you like hot stuff; the heat sneaks up on you. The peppers were grown at special request at Avalon Farms in Climax.

In addition to the popular smoked and barbeque entrees, they have found their wings and pizza very popular as well. If you choose to eat in the newly remodeled eating area, you can take in all the beautiful photographs on display and for sale. Be sure to try one or two of the 80 beers including many local micro-brews or one of the six beers on tap. He has plans to add six more taps soon.

While Frank has gotten out of the slaughter and butchering business, Bowmans is still processing your venison and other meats into specialty game meat products. You can purchase whole hog roasting pigs from them and they still offer full-service catering. Stop in and talk to Ron Miller, the meat department manager, and see what they can do for you.

Winter hours for Bowmans are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. They are closed on Sundays. A great night to see the place for yourself is Thursday where from 7-10 p.m. you can participate in karaoke. Check out their Facebook page for entertainment on the weekends.

Frank would like to see Michigan gain notoriety for their great barbeque. After tasting a few of his dishes, I think he is well on his way. Take your taste buds on a road trip this fall and check out this very unique establishment. Where else can you enjoy fantastic barbeque with a beer, shop for custom meats, grab your meat smoking and barbequing supplies, pick up a few groceries and, finally, grab an ice cream cone on the way out, all in the same building!

Geek Genius Opens Service Store in Vicksburg

Chad Ely is proud of his family which visits him often at the Vicksburg office. Evan is the baby. Iahn is 5, Ivy is 4 and Sarah, Chad’s wife is bending over to be closer.

By Sue Moore

Who is the geek and who is the genius in this new business recently located on 103 W. Prairie in Vicksburg? “Most people associate our business of repairing computers and phones with geeks, thus the name we chose,” said Chad Ely, one of the co-owners of Geek Genius which also has an office in Three Rivers. Knute Judsen, a computer jockey since high school, is the other owner, Ely said.

“You can’t go to school for this job. Every day is a learning experience, but it’s all stuff we are interested in so it’s fun for us,” Ely explained. “We started as a web design and hosting company in 2003 in the corner of a basement in a manufacturing facility in Three Rivers,” where both currently reside. “People started to stop by to have us fix their computers. Word got around. We hired a few guys and moved up above a coffee shop. Our first employee was 6’5” tall and in a space that was a glorified closet.”

It doesn’t take long to figure out the business model had to constantly adjust to accommodate the latest technology for phones, tablets and computers. “When it was slow in the beginning we would work a few hours and then just hang out with Knute’s dog who has become our mascot. Things started picking up and we moved into web site design as well as fixing computers and cell phones.”

Knute’s specialties are server maintenance and salesman extraordinaire. He’s always got his laptop with him so he can take care of clients from any place on the planet. “I couldn’t ask for a better business partner. We are like brothers now,” Ely said.

After they graduated from Three Rivers high school in 1993, both went into military service. Knute went into the Marines as a missile systems operator. Ely trained as a Army tank and ground vehicle refueler. He had always wanted to be a designer so after the service, he went to Chicago to the Illinois Institute of Art.

They eventually opened an office in a Texas Corners strip mall which they closed upon the move to Vicksburg. “We don’t sell computers or phones. We try to build relationships, even before people become our customers. The iPhone was a game changer for the business,” Ely said. He pointed to cracked screens, phones that had been dropped into water that were in the Vicksburg office for repair by Corey or David, who are great trouble shooters.

Security is a huge deal today. “We excel in keeping up with security on the sites we host so they don’t get hacked.” Viruses can be prevented, he warns. “Don’t click on sites you are not sure about or links that look fishy. There are lots of scams on Craig’s list that can cause virus problems. No one will know you have a virus but you. Just don’t give access to your computer to anyone on the phone.

They are open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The phone number is 269-350-3491.

Home Care Business Opens in Vicksburg

Terry and Sara Barnes Home Care business welcomed Barbara Eberstein of Schoolcraft to their list of satisfied clients.

By Sue Moore

When you really need home care, for yourself or someone in the family, the need or the realization is often sudden, followed by a scramble for information.

It happens when a member of the family is disabled, has surgery, suffers from dementia or some other lingering illnesses.

Vicksburg Family Home Care is a new service started in Vicksburg by Terry and Sara Barnes. The couple have lived there for eight years while raising two young sons. The home care business is especially designed for the south Kalamazoo County area residents, Terry said. While there are plenty of services in Kalamazoo, the couple perceived a need in the more rural areas. And they should know; Terry has worked with United Nursing Services in Kalamazoo for many years as a scheduler and community liaison. Sara is a registered nurse and works at Reverence, Borgess Hospital’s Home Health Care service and Hospice. They met when she was an emergency room nurse at Bronson and Terry was with environmental services, cleaning up the trauma rooms.

Home care is somewhat different from home health care. The specialty doesn’t involve medical assistance but is oriented to patients who need help with everyday living essentials. This might include light housekeeping, companionship, personal care, meal assistance, laundry, grocery shopping/errands, along with respite and dementia care. It might include walking a treasured pet.

They currently have 13 part-time employees that they have known through their many connections in the health care field. “We take pride in our staff and pay them more than the other services as we believe they are the best in the business. We want to reward them for being on time, good attendance, reliability and especially their willingness to do extra work above and beyond the job description,” Terry said. “We are fully bonded and insured and do thorough background checks and periodic drug testing on our employees.”

Sara is responsible for establishing a “care plan” and health screening. Although their employees do not work with medications, Sara as a registered nurse can give meds or medical set up if needed. “It’s my job to assist the patients to make sure they are satisfied with the service plan. If not, we will adjust it a different way if it needs to be changed. I update the plan every month with either a phone call or personal visit,” Sara indicated.

Barb Eberstein in Schoolcraft had a stroke two years ago and is in a wheelchair. She has been using the service for a month and praises it unabashedly. “My caregiver, Rosie, jumps right in to help. She’s willing to try anything, just like the nurses have taught me to do. She could go to the store for me, fix food, and even looks for more to do around the house.”

Sara is a native of Ceresco, southeast of Battle Creek, receiving her degree in nursing from Kellogg Community College. “I’ve wanted to help people feel better since I was six. It gives me great comfort to take care of people. We both get involved personally in the business and we are both caregivers. There’s not a lot we don’t do,” Sara emphasized.

Terry graduated from Baker College in his home town of Port Huron, where he took business courses. He also attended Ross Medical Education Center in Portage, where he completed the dental assisting program. “I’m involved in the nitty gritty of the everyday business and we both have started to volunteer with Sunset School and other Vicksburg nonprofit organizations such as South County Community Services.”

Vicksburg’s Equestrian Team Wins Fourth at State Finals

From left to right: Dawne Steele, Anna Freund, Hannah Flickinger, Paige Truckey, Bailey Miracle, Ally Barga, Keagan Kelley, Taylor Dent, and NaMe’ Greymountain.

By Sue Moore

Ten girls from Vicksburg High School were so proficient in their horsemanship that they won their district and regional competition to advance to the state finals in Midland October 13-16. They finished in fourth place at state out of 10 teams that were competing in Class A.

Equestrian has been a varsity sport in Vicksburg for a year and has been a club sport since the early ‘90s. Coach Dawne Steele took over the program from Ruth DeBoer in 2009. She is assisted by Mike and Karin Fleetwood and Kaiti Fink, all volunteers. The team has won its district contest seven years in a row, then competed in regional competition. This is the second time going to state, placing 7th previously. It competed at the highest level with teams from 10 other Michigan high schools.

The girls participatef with teams who qualified fielding 10 riders or more including Rockford, Ludington, Goodrich and Lakeland. The scoring is rigorous with up to 100 points for each event and 70 points being average. The rules for each type of ride are lengthy, requiring horse and rider to exhibit showmanship and teamwork and focusing on the abilities of the rider.

The riders compete under the auspices of the Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association that began this program for high school riders in the 70’s. It began to blossom in the 1990s, when more schools begin to sponsor teams, primarily on the east side of the state.

It can be an expensive proposition, said Steele. The members of the team generally own their own horse or have access to one. They have spent years of training the mount and taking lessons themselves. They pay for housing, feed, private lessons, apparel, saddles, travel and now the expense of competing at the state competition over four days in Midland. This year they have been grateful for a donation from Frederick Construction and others to help with these expenses.

“The entire team worked hard, stayed focused, gave their all, and always kept the goal ‘to do our best’. For four long days, they showed superb sportsmanship and helped define the word ‘team’. Ally Barga was our top point earner at state,” Steele said. Barga won both classes in flag race, first in barrels, and first in two-man relay with partner Taylor Dent. Bailey Miracle earned first place in western showmanship. Hannah Flickinger earned first place in both Hunt Seat Showmanship and Hunt Seat Equitation. They had numerous seconds and thirds, along with all our other placings, that when combined earned our fourth place overall.”