Monthly Archives: November 2016

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.”

James and the Giant Peach at Vicksburg Middle School

vix-ms-playA huge cast of fourth through eighth graders from Vicksburg’s Middle School displayed their musical talents in James and the Giant Peach, Jr. recently. The story was based upon one of Roald Dahl’s most poignantly quirky stories. It was led by Director Melissa Sparks. Some of the crew is featured here in costume from left to right: Zoey Roberton-DeGraaff (Ladahlord), Skylar Rolfe (Centipede), Kenneth Dark (Grasshopper), Leslie Baird (Earthworm), Lily Wolf (James), Sawyer Barton (Spider), Cheyenne Lehmkuhl (Lady Bug), Faith Smith (Glowworm), Autumn Rose (Aunt Spiker), and Megan Burke (Aunt Sponge).

MeL a Great Resource for Students and Teachers

Audrey Bowen, age 9, who is home schooled at her home in Vicksburg, learns what’s available to help her with her studies using MeL at the Vicksburg District Library.

By Eric Hansen, Vicksburg District Library

The Vicksburg District Library is gearing up for students and teachers looking for books and ready to research through MeL a guide to resources on line and within the library.

One of the best and under-used resources is MeL, Michigan’s eLibrary system. Library staff are ready and happy to assist patrons in discovering its capabilities. Most who are aware of MeL connect it with the interlibrary loan system that provides books from other libraries.

It’s much more than that. It’s intended to provide dozens of websites and other resources in one place to Michiganders with different goals, students and teachers included. The website, located at, includes pages for “Kids,” “Teens,” and “Teachers.”
The “Kids” page links children to homework assistance with more than a dozen sites created by organizations such as Britannica, Scholastic, and World Book. Those resources help with subject areas such as literature, current events, math, economics and history – in particular, Michigan History. MeL Kids also links to online story-times, games and activities websites and facts about Michigan’s urban and rural areas.

For special assistance with book searches for homework and school projects, the circulation staff and the Youth Services Librarian, Stephanie Willoughby, are the best points of contact at the Vicksburg library.

The “Teens” section also provides homework help. Several resources are provided by companies that will become familiar to teenagers who continue into college coursework, such as Gale and InfoTrac. There are links to suggested reading categorized by demographics such as books for “Guys,” books with female African-American protagonists and reviews of graphic novels, anime, and manga.

A particularly important section includes college preparation information, such as budget planning and financial aid for college, SAT preparation, and college ratings provided by US News and World Reports. For college preparation assistance and research projects, the library advises patrons to contact Eric Hansen, the head of circulation and reference. He can assist with using MeL, but he has also taught college English composition and literature in several Michigan colleges, and provided library reference at the University of Michigan. For help with personal decisions, the “Teens” section also provides career and social advice in a “Life Happens” section. This section is intended to help young people with anonymous advice related to vocational or jobs problems, and healthcare and private questions.

The “Teachers” section provides classroom resources, training videos, slides, handouts for elementary- and secondary school-aged youth in K-12th grade. It links to staff resources meant for school media specialists, administrators, technology instructors. MeL provides links to other specialty sites for Michigan educators, a handy “Tips & Tricks” section, test preparation and technology resources, and a “K-12 Spotlight” with articles about the wonderful work that individual educators are doing statewide. In these ways the information there is a great tool for teachers’ who are lesson-planning, or who wish to connect with educators who are doing innovative work throughout the state.

Join The Vicksburg Ladies’ Library Auxiliary!

Sue Opalewski on the left and Mary Ann Kudary on the right, are researching the Vicksburg Ladies Library Auxiliary history.

By Sue Opalewski

If you have a few dollars and a little time to spare, you may want to take advantage of a very special opportunity. For a small investment, local women may join the Ladies’ Library Auxiliary. Founded in 1891 as the Ladies’ Library Association, the group has a strong tradition of providing library services to the Vicksburg community.

Until 1944 when the group deeded the library property and the collection to the Village of Vicksburg, these ladies administered the facility and the collection which evolved into what we know today as the Vicksburg District Library. More importantly, they have nurtured a quest for knowledge and awareness in a community some distance away from metropolitan library services.

The history of the auxiliary is rich and full. Today, a little more than a century after its inception, the spirit lives on. The group’s members continue to contribute their time, energy and enthusiasm to the library and the community. Through dues and donations, they also support World Relief Mission, Lending Hands, YWCA Domestic Assault, Generous Hands, South County Holiday Baskets, Books for Babies and the Vicksburg Library Summer Reading Program.

This group meets the first Friday of the month, September through December and March through June, at 1 p.m. The location of the meeting place changes from time to time. Interested persons are encouraged to check with library staff for a schedule of their meetings and membership information.

If your schedule does not allow full participation, an associate membership is available. All interested ladies are invited to join the Vicksburg Ladies’ Library Auxiliary. The members look forward to meeting you.

Project Graduation Craft Show

Lisa Beams pottery items will be on sale at the Project Graduation Craft Show.

2016 marks the 23rd year for Vicksburg Project Graduation’s annual craft show. It was organized to raise funds to provide an excursion to an unknown destination for graduating seniors after their ceremonies. For a number of years, Michelle Morgan has been the person in charge of the craft show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on November 19 at Sunset Lake Elementary school.

Morgan has a real knack for scheduling and managing big events. She has enlarged the craft show to include a bake sale and concession stand, with every square foot of space in the school taken up with crafters. This year she does not have a young person graduating but she volunteered to manage the event anyway.

The costs of Project Graduation are huge for the parents or students who are paying the bills. It takes many other fundraising projects that have been planned during the school year with Marian Steffens in charge of fundraising for the class of 2017.

Schoolcraft UMC Welcomes Author Glenys Nellist

glenysWhen Glenys Nellist and her husband, David, flew 4,000 miles from England to Schoolcraft 16 years ago to pastor the United Methodist Church, little did she know that this small Schoolcraft village church would be instrumental in launching her career as a children’s author.

But it was.

In her role as Christian Education Director at the church, Nellist began writing curriculum to be used in Sunday school. It wasn’t long before she branched out in an effort to write a children’s storybook Bible. Starting in 2008, it would take six long years to finally realize her dream. Love Letters from God was published by Zondervan in 2014. To date, this book has sold over 25,000 copies. Since leaving Schoolcraft she has been serving as Coordinator of Children’s Ministry for the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church.

On Saturday November 19, Schoolcraft UMC will welcome its home-grown author back as Nellist comes to talk about and sign her newest title, Christmas Love Letters from God, the third book in a series of five. Also available will be her board books: Little Love Letters from God, Snuggle Time Prayers and Snuggle Time Psalms. Brunch will be offered at 9 a.m., followed by a short author talk and book signing. She will be there until noon. It’s a chance for patrons to get an early start on their Christmas shopping, buy a unique, personalized gift and support a good cause: Whenever Nillist attends book signing events at churches, she always tithes any profit to their Children’s Ministries.

Glenys now lives in Rockford where she continues to write. The couple now serves at Trinity UMC in Grand Rapids. Find out more about Glenys at her website: For questions, contact SUMC: 679-4845 or Peggy Manrose: 377-9067

Schoolcraft Delivers Big Playoff Win Against Constantine

Spencer Fox picks up big yardage against Constantine. He played well on both sides of the ball to help Schoolcraft record a big win. Photo by Sue Moore.

By Sean Budlong

For most of the night, Schoolcraft’s Ricky Clark and Nolan Anspaugh seemed to stay one step ahead of Constantine’s Anthony Evilsizor. However, it was the play of Collin Tone and Ben Crofoot that made the difference in Schoolcraft’s 40-28 victory in the first round of the state playoffs. “It was heart and pride,” explained senior Thomas Meadows. It was also two touchdown runs by Clark and three touchdown receptions for Anspaugh – from Clark). And Tone and Crofoot’s defensive gems to stop back-to-back Constantine drives in the fourth quarter.

Constantine scored the game’s first touchdown on an Evilsizor run with 3:36 left in the first quarter. Forty seconds later, after a great catch and run by the Eagles’ Blake Bales, Spencer Fox took a Clark pass 39 yards for the score. A botched extra point left the Eagles down 7-6. Three minutes into the second quarter, Schoolcraft struck again on a Clark one-yard touchdown run set up by a 52-yard run by Jack Hunt. A missed two-point conversion left the Eagles up 12-7.

The first time Anspaugh touched the ball on offense was with 7:11 left in the first half – and he took a Clark pass 43 yards to the end zone. The Clark to Anspaugh connection also secured the two-point conversion. Evilsizor scored again with 29 seconds left in the half to cut the Schoolcraft lead to 20-14.

A five-minute scoring drive to open the second half gave the Falcons a 21-20 lead. Forty seconds later, Anspaugh had his second catch, and second touchdown. Bales caught a Clark pass for the two-point conversion and it was back to an Eagle lead, 28-21. Constantine held the ball for eight minutes before Michael Reese scored to tie the game.

“We knew when they tied the game that we had to play with more intensity and physicality,” Crofoot said. Schoolcraft did just that for the remaining ten minutes of the game. Hunt and Clark fought for yards on the ground, while Crofoot, Fox, and Anspaugh found open spots for short passes. Clark’s five-yard touchdown run gave the Eagles the lead for good, and Anspaugh’s third touchdown reception capped the scoring.

While both teams seemed to move the ball at will all night, it was Schoolcraft’s defense that made the plays in the fourth quarter. Tone made the biggest stop of the night when he threw Evilsizor for a three-yard loss on fourth and two with five minutes left. With one last chance to pull within a touchdown, Crofoot closed on a Falcon receiver to knock a pass down to end Constantine’s last offensive series.

“I’ll remember this game for the rest of my life,” Fox said. “We played together and just did our jobs.” Fox, Meadows, Tone, Payton Hoskins and Scott Macfarlane were outstanding when the Eagles needed them on defense. After winning the toughest game of the season to advance to 10-0 and the second round of the playoffs, Schoolcraft will need to show even more toughness to continue their season against Jackson Lumen Christy next Friday.