Antiques Walk in Schoolcraft Continues Traditional Event

The Schoolcraft Antique Mall.

By Sue Moore

Winter weather swooped into the villages to herald the Christmas season and the many activities planned for residents of the Vicksburg and Schoolcraft area.

They include a Schoolcraft tradition – this year, the 28th annual Antiques Walk. It’s scheduled for Friday, December 2, from 6-9 p.m. in the village center. Saturday will continue the festivities with the antique shops open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The two churches will provide hearty food for walkers up and down Grand Street (U.S. 131). And the Ladies Library will hold a food and crafts sale in its building on Hayward Street.

The Christmas Walk idea and making it a reality were a gift to the village by Norma Tackett and her husband Carl. They moved to Schoolcraft in 1987 and opened an antiques store that appealed to shoppers for miles around. The Walk continued 25 years under her direction until her death in 2014. It’s being led this year by Beth Pulsipher of the Schoolcraft Antiques Mall.

The schedule of shops, churches and the library:

Schoolcraft Antiques Mall, 209 N. Grand, will have 10-50 percent off on all store items.

Kalamazoo County State Bank, 223 N. Grand, will challenge visitors to guess the amount of money in its Christmas Present Jar. They will have donuts and hot cider to those who stop by.

Grand Antique Gallery, 231 N. Grand. This new antiques store in Schoolcraft is owned by Susan Cooley. She will be opening in the former location of Norma’s Antiques.

Loving Ewe, 235 N. Grand, has antiques, rugs and lots more specialty items on display.

Abby’s Antiques, 232 N. Grand, features estate jewelry, shabby chic items and other furnishings for the home.

Nana D’s Attic, 403 N. Grand, will showcase a variety of fun collectibles.

First Presbyterian Church, at DeVries Law office, 132 N. Grand, will showcase craft items, baked goods, face painting, raffle tickets on Friday night. Saturday, it will feature pasties and chicken’n’ biscuits in the church’s Westminster Hall on Cass Street from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Schoolcraft United Methodist Church at 342 N. Grand will have homemade sloppy joes and pie for supper on Friday evening from 6-9 p.m. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, church workers will offer a soup luncheon. On both days they will have a bake sale, white elephant sale, crafts and a silent auction.

The Ladies Library, 163 N. Hayward Street next to the post office, will have crafts and refreshments plus a tour of the historic building during the Friday and Saturday event hours.

The Vendor Event during the Christmas Walk is planned for the Ken Krum Center at 505 E. Clay Street on Saturday, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be over 30 local vendors and crafters together in one location.

Christmas in the Village Features Floats and Fire Engines

At least eleven beautifully decorated fire engines from neighboring communities will be on display for the 5:30 Christmas parade on Saturday, December 3 in Vicksburg.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will sponsor Christmas in the Village for a third year on Saturday, December 3 as a way to showcase the many stores, restaurants and event activities available to the community during the Christmas season. The event will be complete with strolling carolers from area churches.For many years the Vicksburg Community Association (VCA) had been sponsoring a parade and Santa visit for youngsters. Gradually, the Authority has picked this up and now takes responsibility for organizing the event. Last year the Authority changed the annual parade to early evening to highlight the beautiful lighting features on Main and Prairie Streets. It was such a success, with thousands crowding into the narrow streets to view the night parade, that the DDA decided to keep it as an evening event.

In order to top last year, the parade has been extended for two more village blocks and the Big Red Machine band will lead the parade and march back up Prairie Street to signal the tail end of the parade. The parade route will extend from the school’s Administration building on Kalamazoo Avenue, west on Prairie Street and south on Michigan Avenue, bypassing Main Street. Parking will not be allowed on Prairie Street during the parade. In between will be even more lighted floats and at least 11 fire engines with clever lighting designs required by the parade contest rules. The decorated fire engines will be on display for the public to inspect on S. Main Street following the parade.

Leading off the activities will be the annual Christmas Bake Sale at the Depot Museum at 300 N. Richardson Street, beginning at 10 a.m. Also on the grounds of the Historic Village, the miniature train will toot its way around the track in the old Township Hall for kids and adults alike to enjoy, and you can board the Holiday Express Boxcar and Caboose for a trip into the past. A horse-drawn wagon will be leaving from the Community Center to travel to the Historic Village so guests don’t have to walk the three blocks to get to all the activities.

All other events will be in downtown Vicksburg starting at 2 p.m. with the opening of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market winter sale at 101 E. Prairie Street. The shops will all be open for visitors with either a craft or treat if marked with a Santa Workshop sign, as will the Community Center with activities for children from 2-5 p.m. Entertainment will be offered by Benjammin from 2 to 2:45, a holiday story time by Vicksburg Library staff is set from 2-3:45, followed by a magic show at 4 p.m. Kids can also make their letters to Santa by depositing them in a special mailbox all day.

The marquee event is the parade as darkness envelops the streets. It will begin at 5:30 p.m., with Santa and Mrs. Claus alighting from their coach to enter the Community Center after the parade. They will be on tap so all the little kiddies who want to get their Christmas wishes known to Santa will have an opportunity. At least 1,000 glow necklaces will be handed out to parade viewers to set the stage for the lighted parade to follow. In addition, 500 small teddy bears from the South County Fire Authority will be handed out.Across the way in Oswalt Park at 6:15, a tree lighting will take place, announced by host Rudy Callen with a lighting countdown. The parade float contest awards will be announced for winners of $300, $200, $100 respectively, and $300 for the best fire truck. Judges again this year will be State Senator Margaret O’Brien, County Treasurer Mary Balkema, and State Representative Brandt Iden. The local restaurants will all be open for dinner during the day and night with special holiday dishes offered on the menu.

Not to be outdone, the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (VCAC) will offer holiday music at 7 p.m. by the Livingroom Musicians. The Holiday Hop takes place from 7-10 p.m. with a card to be stamped by the participating shops for a gift from the Dek, Distant Whistle, Main St. Pub and the Village Hide-A-Way.

Historic Homes Tour Features Dr. Nathan Thomas House

tour-1By Sue Moore

Colleen and Jody Flinton have made life a great adventure in Schoolcraft, living in a house that is 149 years old. It’s the former Dr. Nathan Thomas home at the corner of Cass and Centre streets that fascinates passersby when they view the brick construction and the cupola on top that surveys the entire village.

“We meet all kinds of people who just want to see the house or even bring metal detectors to search for treasures in the yard,” said Colleen Flinton. They have owned the house for just a year and now will open their doors to the community with the Schoolcraft Library’s Historical Homes Tour for the Holidays on December 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. It is a self-guided tour, sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased at the library.

“This house felt like home the day we walked in,” Colleen said. They had just purchased a home on Z Avenue on Portage Creek. They fell in love with the Thomas home so made the purchase contingent upon selling that home which was closer to Jody’s job at IAC in Mendon. “We are working on projects all the time, not being able to sit still. We’ve moved 11 times during our marriage and owned six homes. This one is it at least until graduation.” Their children are Aidan, 12, and 10-year-old twins Connor and Ella.

At right, the Flinton family gathers in the sitting room of the former Nathan Thomas House. They are from left to right: Kinter the family dog, Jody, Aidan, Ella, Colleen, and Connor.

“Schoolcraft is the most welcoming community we have lived in, so we are happy to have people see what a special home this is. We are right next to the library. That makes it special if we can help them raise some funds,” Colleen said. The kids frequent the library and are beloved by staff, according to Director Faye VanRavenswaay.

The house has 2,000 square feet on each of its three floors with the cupola sitting proudly on top of the unfinished third floor. The 13-foot high ceilings and ten-foot tall doors and windows let in lots of light, making it seem cozy even as it is spacious. It has allowed the Flintons to use lots of deep colors in the library, billiard room, sitting room and bedrooms. The main dining room, hallway and staircase are a beautiful off white which spreads the cheerfulness into the adjoining rooms.

The plank floors are finished in natural wood downstairs and painted upstairs in a bright white. The kitchen is rather small but Jody has remodeled it completely with new cupboards made to look as old as the house. It has a pantry where there is plenty of storage. The Flintons were told that having lots of closets meant that the owners were wealthy and could afford to have the extra space built in.

Jody and Colleen like to remodel the houses they have lived in, finding treasures wherever they move. This is reflected in the work they have done on this house in every room except their own bedroom. This one has a huge walk-in closet that would be the envy of anyone. Their daughter Ella has a huge bedroom that they found out was also where Ella Thomas slept as she grew up in the home.

Ella Flinton sits in her bedroom that also belonged to Ella Thomas in the 1800s.

Connor and Aidan room together and say they like it that way, even though they could have had separate bedrooms; the house features a guest room and an office on the second floor. The kids love to play in the home and have their friends over to show them the secret door from the front room to the butler’s pantry. While Jody and Colleen were moving in, the kids were found to be roller skating in the rooms because there was so much space to roll around in.

Dr. Nathan M. Thomas, the first doctor in Kalamazoo County, arrived in Schoolcraft in 1830. Since the county was sparsely settled, his calls were made on horseback, taking him many miles from home. In 1840 at the age of 37 he married Miss Pamela Brown, sister of E. Lakin Brown. They began housekeeping in the frame house he had constructed five years earlier. At the close of the Civil War he built for her on the same corner a spacious three story brick home topped with an observatory and a small balcony over the front door. The frame house that had been their home on this site for more than a quarter century, often referred to as the Underground Railway House, was retired to the end of Cass Street, according to the book, So We See: Historic Schoolcraft.

Winter Farmers’ Market

vix-farm-mkt-2Vicksburg will have a Winter Farmers’ Market during Christmas in the Village on Saturday, December 3. It won’t be as large as the usual number of vendors who offer their goods under the roof of the pavilion on Richardson Street, said Carol Meyer-Neidzwiecki, co-market manager.

During the activities for the afternoon of Christmas in the Village, the market will be right in the heart of downtown Vicksburg at 101 E. Prairie Street in the former Unique Furnishings location. There won’t be as many actual vegetable vendors, since most of what is available in the winter consists mostly of root vegetables, she said. It will be open from 2 to 5 p.m. Over 16 vendors have agreed to set up shop including bakery products, soap vendors, Green’s beefalo, Aubry’s smoked nuts and Eberstein’s eggs, to name a few.

The parking on the downtown streets will begin to be cleared at 4 p.m. but there will be parking available all day in the lots behind the buildings and by PNC Bank.

Candy Forest at the Library

A young patron learns how to make edible Christmas trees.

By Eric Hansen, Reference Librarian

Merry Christmas! The holiday season is upon us and there are a number of programs occurring at the Vicksburg District Library that your family may find enjoyable.

First among these is Stephanie Willoughby’s Candy Forest program on Sunday, December 4 from 2-3 p.m. This program is open to children from age five to fifth grade. This is a chance for children and their parents to meet other kids and complete an edible craft project—Christmas trees made from green frosting, sugar cones, spearmint, gumdrops, M&M’s, marshmallows, candy cane bits, and snow caps.

Registration is required and is open until Saturday, December 3. Families may register online through the link on the library’s website or by visiting the Circulation Desk at the library. Because this is a family event, an adult must accompany children during the program.

“Last holiday season was the first time the Vicksburg District Library had the Candy Forest program. The idea was that many kids enjoy making gingerbread houses but don’t get a chance to snack on them. This is a program that kids can get as detailed as they want with their tree, take a few extra licks of frosting, and enjoy their work when they are done,” Willoughby said.

“It was entertaining last year watching the children and their grown-ups have fun making their tree; so much fun that the teen volunteers afterwards wanted in on it too. Because the program is low-key, families can stop in, decorate, and leave at their leisure. This year we will be viewing Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas to provide an extra layer of entertainment.”

The Vicksburg District Library is providing free hot chocolate on Tuesday, December 13, in recognition of National Cocoa Day. This is a great opportunity to get a free cup of hot chocolate, meet people in the community, update your library card and wander the library learning about the resources that are available there. It’s a great time to check out the new books and movies that the library purchases each month.

For a complete list of all the exciting programs at Vicksburg District Library, please check the website at

Tree of Life Returns

Lloyd Appell and Larry Forsyth spruce up the Tree of Lights in Forsyth’s workshop.

Larry Forsyth and Lloyd Appell were busy dolling up the wooden Christmas trees and ornaments used by South County Community Services (SCCS). The display honors the names of people who are remembered by a donation given to the agency. The two handy men have worked to mend, brighten and assemble the symbolic trees for installation at Market Place right after Thanksgiving.

The South County staff once again invited donors in the community to help those in need while honoring a loved one during the holiday season. The ornament purchase will be used to help South County families with food stability, medication, home heating, utilities, transportation, and eviction prevention during the holidays and throughout the months ahead.

Thanks to the support through the tree of lights, SCCS is able to help their families with:

• Holiday food boxes and basic household supplies
• Family friendly parties with Santa
• Family adoptions in partnership with individuals and faith groups who work hard to add a little joy and grace to the holiday season

The tree of life for the agency was once a real Christmas tree at the Vicksburg Community Center. When the agency moved its offices, there wasn’t room for a giant tree to hold the many ornaments which included the names of people being honored. That’s when Lloyd Appell stepped in to make the three wooden trees and specially designed ornaments. Two of the trees are set up at the corner of Kalamazoo and E. Prairie Streets. The third tree is close to the entrance of the agency’s front door on the Marketplace side.

Family Fare Gives Back

Todd Boughton, left, presents an inscribed gift check to Drew Johnson for the family emergency assistance program at SCCS.

Todd Boughton, the new store manager at Family Fare in Vicksburg, is shown presenting a check for $2,200 from the SpartanNash Foundation to Drew Johnson, the emergency assistance coordinator for families in need served by South County Community Services.

The money was raised from donations by customers who visit the Vicksburg supermarket. They have the opportunity to donate $1, $5 or $10 at any check-out lane. All of the of the proceeds benefit the South County Community Services Pantry which is open Monday through Thursday.

Throughout the year, SpartanNash, Family Fare’s parent company, underwrites company-wide scan campaigns in partnership with the SpartanNash Foundation. The scan supports the goal of ending hunger in their communities. Each of SpartanNash’s more than 160 corporate-owned stores is partnering with a nearby food pantry serving communities in nine states.

“South County is excited to again work with Vicksburg Family Fare to help families provide adequate and nutritious food to their families as they strive to meet other basic needs,” Johnson said. South County families are fortunate to receive this support from SpartanNash. With the community’s generous support at these affordable donation levels, approximately a third of Vicksburg neighbors who are at risk for being food-insecure can benefit.

Boughton has been with the grocery store chain for 36 years and a store director for 16 years. His goal is to build rapport and good relationships with the communities that SpartanNash serves. His grandmother owned a grocery store and his mother worked for Felpausch. At the age of 17, he was asked to set up a store in Pennfield for Felpausch; he has been with the corporation ever since.

Community Christmas Caroling in Burch Park

vix-xmas-carolersAt a recent “Reroute” meeting at Schoolcraft’s Village Hall, people talked about ways to build a sense of community. Debbie Dehart mentioned to her small group that singing Christmas Carols in Burch Park in Schoolcraft would be one way. The idea took off.

Darby Fetzer called her the next day and after several conversations with the Schoolcraft Community Library staff and the Schoolcraft Village, they have put together a novel program of singing Christmas Carols in the Park.

Tuesday, December 20th at 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. anybody who likes to sing will meet at the gazebo in Burch Park to sing Christmas Carols in the Park. In case of inclement weather, the meeting will be on Thursday, December 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Everyone is invited, even if you’re not a resident of Schoolcraft. Please dress for the weather and bring a flashlight to read the printed carols. To bring the gift of the season full circle, a donation to Schoolcraft’s Food Pantry of an unexpired canned good is suggested.  A collection box will be at the park, Fetzer said.

After singing, everyone is invited for hot chocolate and coffee until 8:30 p.m. at the Schoolcraft Community Library across from the Burch Park. If you have questions, please call Debbie Dehart 269-679-2723 or Darby Fetzer 269-569-5557.

Liberty Lane East Opens

vix-ll-ribbon-4A ribbon cutting to inaugurate the newly constructed walkway between Jaspare’s Pizza and Aaron’s Music Store was attended by community members in November, just before cold weather blew in to town. Shown in the ribbon cutting ceremony are from left to right: Bill Adams, village president; Brian Pitts, chamber president; Bill Oswalt, Vicksburg Foundation president; Jim Mallery, village manager; Ted Vliek, Visions Campaign co-chair; Dave Reno, Lions Club president; John DeBault, DDA president; and Kristina Powers Aubry, Vision Campaign co-chair.

The $100,000 renovation of the alley that faces across the street to Liberty Lane West, was borne by donors through a crowd-funding effort. It was sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority and the State of Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation. Local donors gave $50,000 and MEDC matched that amount.

The pedestrian pathway connects the downtown district from Michigan Street to Kalamazoo Avenue as a walking corridor in the heart of the central business district. “The project has turned a dark, rundown alley into a vibrant pedestrian only garden pathway with outdoor seating to compliment the downtown 1880s Italianate architecture,” said Kathleen Hoyle , DDA director. “Liberty Lane East will unify our two shopping and dining areas into one cohesive district and provide a gateway connecting our parking areas.”

Fire Signal Housed on Schoolcraft Water Tower

sheriff-2By Sue Moore

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority (SKCFA) and the Village of Schoolcraft administration held a ribbon cutting ceremony in late October at the site of the newly installed Fire Signal Tower antenna on the Schoolcraft water tower.

Pictured above in the front row are Randy Smith, chair of the authority; Cheri Lutz, Schoolcraft village manager; Keith Gunnett, Schoolcraft village president; Richard Fuller, sheriff; Bryan Campbell, Schoolcraft police chief. The new fire tower was placed on top of the highest structure in the village, the water tower located on Lee Street, just south of E. Eliza Street.

This project began in the spring of 2016, when it was discovered that the signal to alert firefighters of an emergency call had very poor reception in the Schoolcraft area. The signal from the nearest existing signal tower, in Adams Park near Indian Lake, was degrading; its signal was too weak to reach the south County firefighters who lived and responded from the Schoolcraft area. Sheriff Richard Fuller obtained funding to add a fire signal tower in the area. With the cooperation and approval of the Schoolcraft Village Council, the antenna was erected on top of the Schoolcraft Village water tower.

When construction started, it was determined that the signal quality could be upgraded for greater reliance at which time the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority contributed funding. This project represents a significant improvement in emergency and fire notification to first responders in the South County area, Sheriff Fuller said.