Monthly Archives: March 2017

Schoolcraft Girls are Regional Champs

With the fourth quarter of the Regional Finals beginning, the Schoolcraft girls basketball team found itself down by 10 points to Bronson at Homer High School.  The Eagles were behind from the first minute of the game, but had a simple game plan.  “Coach told us we needed to win the first 3 minutes,” explained senior Amber Overley.  Not only did the Eagles win the first 3 minutes, they outscored Bronson 20-3 over the next 8 minutes to earn Schoolcraft’s first Regional Championship, 39-32.

Lydia Goble and Gabi Saxman finished the game with 12 points each.  Kennedy Leighton was the star of the game.  It was her defense – along with Sophie Woodhams and Goble – that enabled Schoolcraft to make the dramatic comeback.  As Bronson fought to stay ahead, then to retake the lead it was Wynn Stitt, Madison Saxman, and Overley that took over the paint.  The victory sets up a quarterfinal matchup with Pewamo-Westphalia at Portage Northern on March 14th at 6:30.

Eagle Scouts Excel in Leadership Roles


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These six became Eagle Scouts in Troop 251 in 2016. The troop is sponsored by the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Their scoutmaster is Kevin Borden. They are holding their Eagle Scout commendations. Front row, left to right: Tanner White and Brady Copeland. Second row, left to right: Josh White (holding his resolution from the Governor) and Cole VanderMeulen. Back row, left to right: Caleb Conklin and Charles Brunett.

By Sue Moore

Six young men attaining Eagle Scout rank in one year from Vicksburg’s Troop 251 is an amazing feat, according to Kevin Borden, Scoutmaster for the last four years. Out of a troop of 50 members, that’s a pretty great number to hit, with several more Scouts in the pipeline for 2017, he said.

In the U.S., more than 100 million boys have participated in scouting since its founding; less than 3 percent have made it to the exalted rank of Eagle Scout according to the records, Borden said. “The requirements have gotten more stringent over the years to earn the necessary 21 merit badges needed to become an Eagle Scout. They also need to plan and complete a big service project that shows their leadership capabilities before they can take part in the Court of Honor ceremony.”

Those receiving their Eagle Scout rank in 2016 include Brady Copeland, Charles Brunett, Josh White, Cole VanderMeulen, Tanner White and Caleb Conklin. All are attending Vicksburg High School except for Copeland, who graduated in 2016 from Vicksburg.

Borden started with many of these boys in Cub Scouts and watched them grow into mature leaders, he said. They have engaged in community service with idea of giving back firmly embedded in their activities, he enthused. “Their leadership abilities have made them better individuals. They often go into Scouting with no idea or vision of where life will take them. For example, the boys run the troop, taking guidance from the leaders, which can be very empowering.”

Brady Copeland, oldest of the six, just made it under the wire with his project at Hogsett Lake to clean up metal guard rails, tangled with an invasive plant species, before he turned 18 last year.

All candidates for Eagle rank must complete their merit badges and leadership project by the magic date of their 18th birthday. Brady is working at Houghton Manufacturing until he leaves for Air Force basic training in Texas on April 4. Because of his Eagle Scout status, he can enter the Air Force with an Airman rank rather than Airman Basic, the entry level for most recruits.

Josh White built four benches that he had installed at Tobey Elementary School this fall along with clearing the site for the benches and enhancing Captain Drew Russell’s memorial garden on the grounds of Tobey. The lumber for his project was donated by Big C Lumber in Schoolcraft. He is a senior, playing alto saxophone in the marching band and tenor sax in the jazz band. He has enlisted in the Marines and will report to basic training at Parris Island on July 10th.

Cole VanderMeulen built a small retaining wall and benches at the disc golf course for his project. He is a senior and totally involved in the VHS music program, playing trumpet. He has offered his services to play Taps for the VFW in Portage when they need him for ceremonies. He plays in the jazz band and pep band. He has attended Blue Lake music camp for four years. He auditioned for the Western Michigan University trumpet studio and is thinking about majoring in music there.

Charles Brunett has already decided to enlist in the Marines upon graduation this year. “I’ve wanted to be a soldier all my life. Those are real guys,” he says. His project was to beautify the Fulton cemetery in time for the Memorial Day parade as that is his home town. He lives on the family farm and has relatives buried in the cemetery. The work involved cleaning up the grounds and a trash area that was overflowing with debris and repainting the perimeter fence. His Scout helpers in the project repainted the flag pole.

Tanner White is a junior at VHS, playing football and travel baseball. He is junior class president and president of the National Honor Society while carrying a 4.11 grade point average. He has joined the Bulldog Clay Target Team that was recently organized as a club sport by some of the Scout leaders. His project involved building benches, backstops for kickball and soccer goals at Sunset Elementary school, carried out at the age of 15. He hopes to become a sports analyst or broadcaster and is beginning the hunt for the right college to pursue this opportunity.

Caleb Conklin, a junior at VHS has been active in many sports, including soccer, football, basketball, baseball and travel baseball. He pitches and plays outfield. He is a member of the National Honor Society. His project was to build a recreational site for his church’s playground in Centreville. It required 200+ man hours to organize, build and raise the money. He sought donations from friends, family, and church members and as well as receiving donations from multiple home improvement stores.

“There have been lots of good times with this group of boys,” Borden says. “We have taken them camping in Canada, Ohio and West Virginia, and right here in Vicksburg at the scout cabin on Barton Lake. It’s been a terrific learning experience.”


Cake Bake is a Fundraiser for the Cub Scouts

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Pack 251 cub scouts learn to work in the kitchen each year so they can proudly present their specialty cakes to be sold at their annual Cake Bake auction. This year it will be held on Friday, March 24, at the Scotts Community Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and lasting about an hour and a half. The public is invited to what is being billed as an “art show with exhibits you can eat.”

Jessica Hawkins, one of the committee members for the Cub pack, tells about her son Tyler’s first cake bake experience. “Tyler mixed the cake pretty much by himself, adding all the ingredients and claiming he followed the instructions. When we took the cake out of the oven we found out differently.  It was completely flat and very hard!  We had to make a store run for a cake mix and through making the second one we discovered that he used about a cup too much of oil.” This experience helped Tyler win last year. He was voted the best cake for his lemon jelly bean-filled cake.

The boys are allowed to have any family member helping them to make and decorate the cake. They willingly donate it to the sale and usually come home with their own cake or another one their parent bid on. Cub Scouts start at the age of six and go to 10 so every year they can progress from stirring, to cracking eggs, to putting the frosting on and getting handy with decorating, Hawkins said. This in turn helps to get the best price for each cake auctioned off. Last year the 33 donated cakes sold at an average of $40 each.

Funds from the event help to defray expenses to keep the organization going. They also provide scholarships for some boys who need financial help in order to become a member. Besides learning how to work in the kitchen, the scouts get a lesson in selling tickets to family and friends. The moms who are helping with organizing the cake bake include Valerie Tassell, Christy Trepanier, Janelle Weesner, Myriah Bombich and Jessica Hawkins.

Writers Win Big in the Schoolcraft Library’s Tournament

The many winners receiving prizes for their work in the Tournament of Writers at the Schoolcraft Library. Photo by Bill Christiansen.

By Sue Moore

The Friends of the Schoolcraft Community Library sponsored its third annual Tournament of Writers this past fall. Altogether, 36 writers ages 10 to over 90 submitted entries in three categories: poetry, fiction and nonfiction.

A diverse group of 11 judges read the entries during the month of November and in December, the winners were announced during a special ceremony held at the Schoolcraft Library. Kathleen Forsythe’s memoir “My Father’s Blessing” took Grand Prize. She is from Vicksburg and teaches English in the high school. Her remembrances of a loving father and picking up rocks to clear a field were heartwarming, the judges said.

“We’re living in an unprecedented time where publishing is in the reach of everyone. That alone changes the dynamic for writers who may have felt stymied to develop their skills outside of journaling just because the publishing aspect was so steep an obstacle,” said Debra Christiansen, the tournament organizer.

The number of writers has grown since the first year when there were 19 entries in all. In the second year, there were considerably more entries, 71, probably because of an article in Encore magazine. “This presented more of a hardship on the judges than anything else, but it did serve to broaden our exposure,” she said.

“This past year was much more manageable, and the competition will probably continue to develop with a core group of authors, as well as grow with new author entries. We added a cover art contest in the second year, and in this our third year, we added a Super Senior division for those over 70. Since we have five age divisions and three literary categories, a writer has a chance to win simply by entering because we’re still in the process of getting enough entries in certain age divisions and literary categories,” she said. “That’s OK. That may inspire a writer to say, ‘Hey, I want to do this,’ and be rewarded for their effort.”

A few years ago, Christiansen took the opportunity to turn her 90-year-old mother-in-law from a scrap paper poet to a published author. The time they spent together, editing and arranging her book gave her new purpose. She was literally (and figuratively) reborn. “This joy and elation over being a published author is what I wanted to share with the community to encourage others to present their works and develop their skills. The writers’ tournament and judging serves to provide deadlines and challenge the writers to finish and perfect their pieces, not to mention create the excitement of winning.”

“I’m not one of the judges, so I don’t really get to go through the entries until I’m putting the book together. I set up the judging the way I did because that’s the way the public would judge the work – did they like it? Was it interesting? And sometimes – was it legible? We’re an area of small towns. We have local flavor. We know each other. This competition reflects that. In fact, when I first pitched the idea, no one wanted to judge (or even felt qualified) because they felt they would be able to recognize their neighbor’s work,” she said.

Some of the writers have taken part since the beginning. She said she is grateful that they took that leap of faith. One of the teen writers, Rachel Hostetler, is an example. Her family rescues animals, but beyond rescuing them, these animals are transformed. This competition has allowed Rachel to be a voice for them. Her entry this year in fiction displayed a mature writing technique of switching points of view from paragraph to paragraph, and it works. Poet Mark Lego is Christiansen’s Kalamazoo Gazette carrier. He has placed in the senior poetry category and won the cover contest two years in a row.

“Christine Webb came aboard our second year with a group of her students and took Grand Prize. This year, she convinced her mom and dad to enter. That’s really what this competition is all about – writing, being brave enough to submit your words, and generous enough to encourage others to do the same,” Christiansen said.

Entries from the tournament are now available on Amazon in “Small Town Anthology III.” Winners received cash prizes and a gift certificate to Kazoo Books. They will also receive a copy of the published book. Schoolcraft Library recently hosted a book signing for all the winners.

The Beauty Bar Opens in Schoolcraft

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The Beauty Bar staff left to right: Carmen Kline, owner Stacey Peck, Tesia Rhoad.

By Sue Moore

“We work hard at being good stylists, so our clients leave the shop with great looking hair,” said Stacey Peck who has recently opened the Beauty Bar at 224 North Grand Street in Schoolcraft. “I believe the beauty industry is not cookie cutter, as everybody is different and should be treated as such.”

Thus, the services she offers at the Beauty Bar are very different. They range from the standard haircut, perm, coloring, updo, nails and pedicure, to microblading. She has assembled a staff of friends who include Tesia Rhoad, specializing in vibrant color, and Carmen Kline, the nail technician.

Rhoad and Peck are both Schoolcraft High School graduates, while Kline is a Vicksburg native. All bring their own clientele into the business with the latter two renting their chair or space from Peck.

The most spectacular of the offerings is microblading, a trendy new tattoo related service. Peck learned the technique while training in Salt Lake City and living in Wyoming. This is a new beauty area that she says is spreading rapidly through the Midwest. It involves eyebrow enhancements that are semi-permanent and requires Peck to have a tattoo-licensed facility.

Because the Beauty Bar is located right next to Bud’s Bar in Schoolcraft, it’s easy to come in for a haircut and also stop in for a beverage next door, Peck said with a chuckle. Kline cited the good location as a reason for her deciding to locate in Peck’s building. She also works part-time in Kalamazoo doing message and nails at Relaxology. “I appreciate the flexible hours Stacey allows so I can keep busy at both locations. She’s a good businesswoman.”

Rhoad says Stacey is a good non-boss. “She cares about the industry, is laid back, yet wants to do a good job and excel at her business. I was excited to come here and join her.”

Their hours vary but generally the Beauty Bar is open from Monday through Saturday, some weekends and evenings and accepts walk-ins where possible. To make an appointment, call 269-762-0238.

A Christmas Miracle Part 2

linda lane 1By Linda Lane

Editor’s note: Last month, Linda Lane described learning that her husband, driving home alone from Kentucky, experienced an “aorta dissection”, a tear in the major artery. He was airlifted from Elizabethtown to Louisville, and underwent repair surgery. An early report of successful surgery changed as Lane was told that a new tear had been discovered.

Now I was terrified. Phone calls to my friends were met with hesitations, deep breaths. They told me this news wasn’t great, but that the surgeon was working like crazy and was going to do everything possible he could to save him. I kept feeling like I was going to throw up. I paced around a path in the open waiting area, texting for something to do, and going back to stand before the door leading to the operating room. I stared at the door and willed it to open with a nurse coming out to give me good news. I was mentally sending my husband the strength to come through this, telling him not to give up. To come through this. That I needed him.
Hours later, still no news. My nursing friends asked questions that I didn’t know the answers to: How many liters of blood has he lost? They used eight liters on him (there are only five liters in most people). How much “product” have they given him (meaning blood products such as red blood cells, blood platelets, blood plasma and other blood clotting agents)? He had had over 20 units. Not good. Have they taken him “off pump” (meaning the heart by-pass pump)? At 3:30 a.m. I called and asked the circulating nurse to come out for me and had her talk to one of my nursing friends. On speaker phone, my dear friend, a heart-team RN, asked all the questions she’d been asking me. Both nurses hesitated frequently, eyes darting as the answers weren’t indicative of positive things happening in the operating room. I could hear the bad news and concern in my friend’s quivering voice when she spoke to me privately.

Grueling hours passed. A different nurse came out to inform us that they had repaired all the tears, and redone the previous repairs. They had tried to take him “off pump” again but it wasn’t working and they had to put him back on. They’d give it more time and try again. I paced for two more hours with no news, still scared to death.

Finally, at 6 a.m. the surgeon came out, clearly exhausted. He had performed two previous heart surgeries during the day and had just finished the second one when my husband arrived. He thought he was going to operate for 6-10 hours, but it was 12 hours before he was done.

“Let’s go in this room so we can have a little privacy,” the surgeon said. That cannot be good, I thought. He could barely keep his eyes open as he heaved into a chair, pausing to think about where to start with me. He draws a picture that takes forever to draw and I cannot breathe. He goes through a lengthy description of what happened with the aorta dissection, what pieces he repaired, undid, fixed and repaired again. I still cannot breathe. I’m waiting for him to tell me, “This is where it all went wrong.” “Here’s the spot we couldn’t fix.” “We did our best, but he’s gone.”

It takes him forever to tell me, “Well, we finally got him off the heart by-pass pump and he’s been taken to recovery. He’s still a really, really sick man, but he’s made it through the surgery. There can be lots of complications yet, but we’ll see how he does in the next few days.”

I finally breathe. I think, “He could have started with that!!!”

I can’t get in to see him for a few hours. They needed time to get him settled (“cleaned up after surgery”) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I wait two more hours, unable to sleep. I finally buzz the intercom and ask to see my husband. “I’m sorry. It’s 10 more minutes before visiting time. Try back then.” I was furious. I’d been ill with worry and waited for 14 hours. I needed to lay eyes on him. My friend tells me, “You can wait 10 more minutes. You’ve waited this long! They’ve got to get him cleaned up for you. When you go in to see him, he’s going to look really, really rough. There’s going to be tubes coming out from all over on him. I don’t want you to be frightened when you see him, but he’s gonna look pretty bad.” I wait the 10 minutes and they finally buzz me back.

His face is the color of the light gray-green wall. His tongue is half sticking out with the endotracheal tube down his throat, and he truly looks near death. He has tubes going out his neck, another near his clavicle, two chest tube drains below his ribs, and an arterial IV in his hand. With all the wires and tubes and electronics blinking, he looks sort of like a robot. The surgeon had sawed his sternum (chest bone) open to perform this surgery, so there is a 14-inch incision from his throat to above his belly button. His arms had been strapped down straight out to the sides as if he were crucified for the surgery. His arms, hands, shoulders, chest, and legs bear the bruises of the brutal nature of the 12-hour surgery.

But his heart is beating. I see it register on the monitor with flashing red lights.

My prayers came true. He survived the surgery. Christmas in Louisville, Ky. was going to be OK. I had my Christmas miracle.