Celebration of the Arts in Vicksburg

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Concert band members of the saxophone section perform during the 2015 Celebration of the Arts concert.

By Sue Moore

Imagine over 700 Vicksburg school kids massed on the bleachers and floor of the high school gym, playing and singing their hearts out for an audience of parents and friends.

Imagine it, then look for it at Vicksburg High School on April 20.

It’s part of a districtwide Celebration of the Arts, held just every two or three years; it takes a mountain of preparation time and logistics, said high school Band Director Ben Rosier.

If the music doesn’t get your heart thumping a little faster, then the sight of art work up and down the halls of the high school will make one stop in appreciation. There are some very talented artists growing up in the community as well as musicians.

The show will come together for the districtwide Celebration on the 20th, a Thursday, starting with a dance performance at 5 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, ending with a collage concert at 7 p.m. in the gym. The event is led by Rosier and Ravenna Kahler, Choir Director Dusty Morris, film and video teacher Troy Smith and art teachers Krista Ragotzy and Andy Lindeman in the high school. Teachers of music and art in the grade schools also contribute with their student work on exhibition. They include music teachers Patty Heintzelman, Patty Stoll and Betsy Craig and art teachers Jake Biernacki, Whitney Bast and Anna Lacey. A dance performance will be followed by a video presentation at 5:30, and a tour of the many art displays in the hallways at 6 p.m.

At the concert, every group will play or sing one piece, then combine for a massed band and vocal presentation. The whole show moves like clockwork with never a down moment, Rosier said. He will have musicians from the six, seventh, eighth grade bands, the Concert Band, wind ensemble, and both jazz bands, the Early Dogs and Top Dogs.

Morris will showcase the Chamber Singers, the Chorale, Simply Men and the Treble Choir. Many hours of practice go into each group’s music presentation, proving that the fine arts are alive and well in the Vicksburg school district. These musicians are required to maintain high academic standards. Some students double in band, choir and art. Many of them have gone on to earn a place in their college bands and choirs, Rosier said.

It’s truly a Celebration of the Arts, one the parents and friends will not want to miss.

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Vicksburg band and choir members from all grades perform at the 2015 Celebration of the Arts.

Swing into Spring for Vicksburg Band Boosters

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Ben Rosier, director of bands in Vicksburg Community Schools.

By Sue Moore

A fundraiser for the band program, planned by the Band Boosters organization, will take place on Friday, April 21 from 6-9 p.m. at the Vicksburg Family Life Center in the United Methodist Church. There will be music of course, a full dinner and lots of kid-friendly activities, according to event chairperson Ann Marie Earl.

The funds will go to help defray expenses for new equipment for the band, since all the large instruments that students play are purchased for them. This includes tympani at a cost of $15,000 to $16,000 apiece, tubas between $7,000 and $8,000 and annual maintenance of instruments that comes in at about $5,000 each year.

In the 2014-15 school year, the Boosters financed the $90,000 purchase of over 200 new uniforms to replace those that had been in service since the early ‘90s. This was paid off and another 40 uniforms were purchased in 2016, as the marching band by that time had swelled to nearly 220 musicians. The high school counts just under 800 students, so the band program itself represents one quarter of all those in grades nine through 12.

Families are encouraged to attend for a fun evening of dinner and entertainment, Earl said. Tickets are $25 per person, $45 for two, with a family of four (or more) topping out at $60. Purchase of tickets before April 15 will save $5 on each attendance level.

Every two or three years the band takes a trip, often to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to play in competition there and perform community service. Members go during spring break for four days in Disney Park, and travel two days there and back by bus. They will play concerts and march through Epcot, in competition with many other bands who have made the trip. Their community service project this year will be helping with maintenance and clean-up of a park in Orlando. When they performed community service two years ago, members voted it as the most memorable part of the trip, said band Director Ben Rosier.

Ladies Library Auxiliary Celebrates 125 Years

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The 16 founding members of the Isabella Club which became the Ladies Library Association and then the Ladies Library Auxiliary, gathered for a formal portrait at the Joy Koones photography studio in Vicksburg in 1891. Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, the lady in the second row, third from left is the editor’s grandmother Jenny Notley Clark. Her two sisters and my aunts are in the back row, fourth and seventh from left, of whom I am very proud.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg maintained a book study group as a going concern as far back as 1891. It was called the Isabella Club then, and became the Ladies Library Association in 1898. It wasn’t easy trying to start as a women’s only club in those heady days of changes for the fair sex, according to their written history. The effort will be recognized by its descendant, the Ladies Library Auxiliary (LLA) from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, April 15 as part of the Library Hop during the month of April at the Vicksburg District Library.

Newspaper articles and individual written histories described the formation and growth of the group:

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone, the wife of the president of Kalamazoo College at the time, reportedly came to Vicksburg to help form the Isabella Club. The idea was for women to unite and devote a year to study Spain in preparation for the World’s Fair in 1893 in Chicago. The organizing meeting took place at Fannie Bair’s home. Members took turns presenting programs. Some wrote poetry or gave recitations. After the first year, the study turned to the history and literature of the U.S., then various countries in Europe.

At times, other subjects were offered. Some of them: The Making of Good Bread (and Pies), The Art of Dressing Well on Nothing a Year; The Scientific Spanking of Children; and How to be Happy Though Married.

In 1892 the ladies purchased a building from a Mr. Jenkinson for $100. It needed to be moved to behind the McElvain House, the present-day Community Center, where there was some vacant land.

Many local males were pessimistic and loudly expressed their opinions. According to reports, they included: “You’ll never move that building where you want it.” “It will break in two before you get it there.” “What did you buy that old building for?” “I wouldn’t give you $10 for it.”

The women triumphed. It was never considered an architectural beauty on the outside, but inside the women had plastered, painted, and papered until it was a pleasant clubhouse and a library for the 462 books they owned.

It wasn’t all study for the women. Teas and banquets were a big part of their lives as well, especially in June when there was a profusion of roses in bloom for livening up the décor. The inevitable need for money raising projects arose. The secretary reported a successful card party during which a “neat little sum of $10 was added to our treasury.”

In 1902, the Association received a marvelous gift from Fannie Bair. She built a library on Maple Street and turned it over to the members to run. The newspaper of the time described it as “practically three stories high with a 40-foot octagon tower and has electricity.” The chandeliers were brass. There were curtains at the windows and a tiled fireplace. The newspaper also said that Mrs. Bair had planned to spend between $3,500 and $4,000 on the building. It cost $5,500. The large room in the library served as the banquet room and the octagon tower was considered the music room. In 1926, an organ was donated from the Congregational Church for that area. It stayed there until 1939 when it was sold for $450 to a church in Indiana.

On the east side of the building were two rooms with books separated into two groups, those of Schoolcraft and those of Vicksburg. Residents were allowed to check out books only from their community’s shelves.

In 1922, the Association had difficulty in becoming incorporated because of its all-female membership. Local lawyers refused to believe that such a group could manage its financial responsibilities, so Kalamazoo attorneys handled the club’s legal matters.

By 1937, the members were meeting every two weeks. In 1943 they switched to monthly meetings. That continues to this day with meetings at 1 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. New members are encouraged to join and the public is often invited.

In 1944, the club offered the building, books and all equipment to the village as a gift so funding could be increased by the state and from other sources. At this point, the Ladies Library Association became the Ladies Library Auxiliary. It continues to supply books and other needed items for the library, including a $5,000 patron’s gift for the library expansion in 1986.

Bronson Purchases Family Doctors of Vicksburg Practice

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Doctors David Schriemer and Karl Kerchief, of Family Doctors of Vicksburg, will join the Bronson Hospital Health Care group on June 1.

By Sue Moore

The announcement that Bronson Health Care unit would be taking over the Family Doctors of Vicksburg medical practice has come as a surprise to the many patients they serve and perhaps the staff of the 106 year-old family practice.

It probably shouldn’t have been since so many small-town doctors are retiring and even closing the doors of their stand-alone practices. However, the search for young doctors to buy in to such a practice can be intimidating to them, said Laurel Barber, vice president of operations for Bronson Health Care. “Newly minted primary care physicians are looking for some sense of security when they graduate from medical school and often prefer a larger health system with greater resources – which potentially can pay better salaries than a private practice.”

Doctors David Schriemer and Karl Kerchief have been in the recruitment mode for some time now with Dr. Katie Grossman leaving for a Humanist position at Borgess and Dr. Ken Franklin retiring. Bronson offers a greater reach overall for recruitment and that was one of the needs they were looking to fulfill. Barber said that the primary care physician is in even greater demand these days with visits going up nationally. People are finding a medical home instead of going to the emergency room for instant care, Barber said.

“We know the Family Doctors practice well. It is very high-quality practice. We believe in it and want to help it grow over time,” Barber said. “We are leasing the space with a fairly long-term commitment to the community. We can’t change the trust issue generated by the closing of the hospital out-patient clinic, but we believe the trust can be built through a transparent relationship in the future and the doctors also feel that way.”

June 1 is the effective date for the transfer of operations to Bronson. There will be employee orientation, an electronic patient records change to the Bronson system, and some insurance provider changes that the staff and patients will recognize, Barber said.

Big Changes to Take Place at Local Medical Practice

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A few of the staff of Family Doctors of Vicksburg in front of the office on Boulevard Street. From left to right: Pam Rhodes, Sherry Robbins and Karen Ray.

Family Doctors of Vicksburg will become part of the Bronson Healthcare system June 1, 2017.

David Schriemer, MD, president of Family Doctors of Vicksburg, explains “The economics of the family practice have changed dramatically over the past decade. We can no longer compete to attract new physicians. We are pleased to become part of the Bronson Healthcare system. This will enhance our ability to attract new physicians to the practice and ensure care for local residents for years to come.”

“This was not an easy decision for us. Lloyd Appell, MD, (partner of FDV 1957-1999) reminded us that the most important thing was to continue to care for patients in Vicksburg. Bronson has made a commitment to stay in Vicksburg and grow the practice.”

Dean Kindler, MD, chief medical officer of Bronson Medical Groups came to Vicksburg to tell the staff, “We are excited for you to become part of Bronson. You have an excellent reputation in the area”.

There will be changes. The practice name becomes Bronson Family Practice Vicksburg. The computer software programs change. Job responsibilities may change.

Laser Skin Care will continue. Dr. Kerchief, Dr. Schriemer, Kathy Fenton-Miller, FNP, Debra Klinger, FNP, will continue to care for patients right where they are. “Most importantly,” says Dr. Schriemer, “the soul of the practice, our commitment to care for the community and treat patients as persons and not illnesses, will not change. I’m excited for the future. The potential to grow is very real.”

Vicksburg District Library Participates in ‘Library Hop’

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Linda Adams, Stephanie Willoughby, Eric Hansen, and John Sheridan out in front of the Vicksburg District Library offer a Passport for visitors to pick up at the library for admittance to all the other libraries participating in the Library Hop in April.

By Eric Hansen

Linda Adams, office and community engagement manager of the Vicksburg District Library, is coordinating the first annual Library Hop among 11 libraries in the South County area and even further afield. The Hop is scheduled April 1-30.

The idea came from a conversation between Linda and a friend who had attended Quilt Shop Hops. Linda’s acquaintance suggested that a Library Hop would be a wonderful opportunity for patrons to take a road trip with family and friends. A passport will be issued for the hop by participating libraries, providing information about the facilities and programs during the month.

The Vicksburg District Library hopes to gain hundreds of additional visitors to the library; Linda hopes this will become a yearly staple to create tourism and socialization among residents of participating area towns. Linda also wants the program to encourage people to think about visiting local libraries while they are on vacation.

Welcome packets are available to visitors who come to Vicksburg District Library to obtain a passport. These include brochures from local businesses and flyers detailing services at participating libraries. Each of the libraries will provide programs to encourage travelers to schedule visits. The Vicksburg District Library is providing adult and children’s programs for visitors and local patrons.

Patrons can obtain a Library Hop Passport at any participating libraries and are encouraged to plan a road trip according to the hours of their destination library since they each have different hours.

At each library a patron will receive a stamp in the passport. At the end of the Library Hop program patrons may redeem their individual passports at Vicksburg District Library. Patrons who have at least eight stamps in their passports will receive a prize and become eligible for a drawing for a gift basket. Passports obtained at other libraries must be redeemed at those libraries. Patrons in neighboring districts are encouraged to contact their home libraries to learn what incentives are available.

By developing a regional Library Hop, Vicksburg District Library expects to showcase the charm of local communities and teach people about the range of services that libraries offer. Some of these services are not limited to in-District patrons, but are available to visiting patrons as well.

In Vicksburg, some of the services available to non-residents include free Wi-Fi access, access to desktop computers, drop-in Tai Chi classes for $5 each Thursday, Bridge Club meetings every Tuesday, Quilters Club meetings, Family Storytimes on Monday mornings, Family Movie showings, Button Collectors Club meetings and Knitting Club gatherings.

Library Hop programs at Vicksburg District Library include:

Egg Carving Art Show and Demonstration with Symon Olenezuk and Nancy Peterson on April 8th, 10 A.M. to Noon. Carved egg art will remain on display from April 8-30.

Destination Vicksburg Day on April 15, including a Birthday Celebration Open House hosted by the Ladies Library Auxiliary, from 2-4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to visit local shops and restaurants, the Vicksburg Historical Village and the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, and to drive the Vicksburg Quilt Trail. Information about each of these is available at the library.

Participating libraries and their phone numbers are:

Burr Oak Township Library:

Colon Township Library:

Constantine Township Library:

Lawrence Memorial Library:

Mendon Township Library:

Nottawa Township Library:

Schoolcraft Community Library:

Sturgis District Library:

Three Rivers Public Library:

Vicksburg District Library:

White Pigeon Township Library:

‘Reroute’ Meeting in Schoolcraft Scheduled

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Schoolcraft residents meet during last fall’s Reroute, public participation gathering.

By Sue Moore

The public is invited to attend a meeting of Schoolcraft’s “Reroute” project, part of a process toward a new vision and identity for the village. It is a continuation of last fall’s initial workshop which saw about 70 people participating. The meeting will be held in the Schoolcraft High School cafeteria from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11.

Two planning meetings have been held since last fall’s workshop: A steering committee and a stakeholders’ session explored ideas to describe the spirit of the village, said Jordan Parker, the Wightman & Associates planner contracted to facilitate the visioning process.

His goal is to build consensus for a plan to be presented at the April meeting. “We will review documents from the first planning phase, depict representative projects that the two smaller groups have discussed and present them to the village residents for consideration,” Parker said.

How residents would like Schoolcraft to grow will be the defining theme, Parker said. He will also be conducting a preference survey with a series of images to be ranked and then used to complete the planning work. This will help form future projects, he pointed out. The workshop is sponsored by the Village of Schoolcraft.

Vuong Loc Beats Bobby Flay on His TV Show

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Jael Aumack and Sue Moore with Vuong Loc at the Old Stove Brewery in Seattle.

By Sue Moore

It’s true. Vicksburg native Vuong Loc, now a famous chef in Seattle, went up against the famous Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s TV program, “Beat Bobby Flay,” and came up with a very big win on March 23.

He first had to beat another contestant in the qualifying first round where he prepared a roasted red snapper in 23 minutes. The judges liked what they tasted, so it was on to face the kingpin of the show.

Loc was able to choose the challenge dish and picked Chicken Pho, the national dish of Vietnam, his early home. The Loc family escaped as the country was being overrun by the Viet Cong in the early 1970s. They resettled on Austin Lake and the children went to school in Vicksburg. All seven of his brothers and sisters live in this area as does his mother, Hue Loc, who Vuong said was very influential in his cooking prowess. “She is an amazing cook. I even took her mortar and pestle with me to use on the show,” Vuong said. His father is deceased.

“The cooking competition is very real,” Loc said. “There is a lot of planning and communication with the show [producers] before you arrive to do the shoot, which actually took place in April of 2016. I was sweating. The lights were very hot and things moved very fast. The judges were appreciative as they definitely know what good food in general tastes like.”

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of New York, Loc apprenticed in many different restaurants in Florida and Los Angeles. Loc began his career in Seattle 10 years ago when he opened a small store-front restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood – and called it Portage. He was named a rising star chef in 2009 and now has two restaurants in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, where the reviews have been great in the Seattle news magazines.

How to beat Bobby Flay? There are hints on his website that come from his colleagues who have been with Flay the longest and know his style.

“He brings really bold flavors to the table, so it’s really important to think about that, so that your dish actually stands up to his dish. Otherwise, his dish will overpower yours,” cautioned Giada De Laurentiis.

According to Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby’s competitors need “a real sense of self, a real sense of culinary identity – the courage to kind of put aside the 700 ingredients in the pantry and just make something that›s really true to who [you are].”

“Keep it simple. Cook what you know. Aggressively season,” a contestant named Jeff advises.

According to the show’s host, Ted Allen, “Competitors should be really afraid….This is a very specific skill. You’re going up against one of the most fierce, talented, competitive cooks on the planet. Know what you can accomplish that is exciting and excellent fast. What’s the key to beating Bobby Flay? Probably being able to control your panic, and being able to focus and concentrate and be aware of what you can do with this ingredient in a short period of time.”

“We have at least 200 items in our pantry daily for both contestants and Bobby to have access to,” the show’s producer said. “Some of these 200 items include 30 kinds of spices (plus more as the season has gone on), 80 items in the dry pantry (including breads, vinegars, dried fruit, etc.), [and] 45 different kinds of fruits and vegetables. On set we would have about 100 pieces of equipment including food processors, blenders, knife blocks, cutting boards, pots and pans of all sizes, etc.,” she said.

Flay is good, Loc said. “You don’t get that far by chance. He was fast, had good ideas. You could tell he had cooked a lot.”

“Vuong is true to his Michigan roots – still quiet and unassuming but, man, is he talented! It’s always a special treat to have a meal at one of his places,” said Jackie Koney and John Kern, transplants from Seattle now living in Vicksburg.

Golf Courses Open

golf 1By Sue Moore

It must surely be spring when local golfers find a reason to break out the sticks and start taking practice swings even when the temperature is below 40. They are hoping the sight of that first robin means golf courses are open and ready for play.

Most courses are allowing play but leagues won’t start until mid-April, depending on the weather. The south county area is fortunate to have a plethora of good golf courses to choose from that are challenging, fun, in excellent condition and locally owned.

A survey of five courses within a 10-mile radius comes up with the following information:

Angels Crossing Golf Club, on W Ave., owned by the village of Vicksburg with Jeff Rohrstaff as the resident pro, is opening this first week of April. Its popular Creekside Restaurant, which has been open from Wednesday through Saturday, will now be available seven days a week when golf is being played.

It will be a busy year for Angels with 16 leagues signed up for the 2017 season, Rohrstaff said. This will mean 290 players a week and a couples league every other Friday. A new rough mower has been purchased. The improvement plan calls for surfacing with crushed asphalt on the cart paths on holes 8 and 13. New irrigation will be installed between the green on 14 and the tee boxes on 15. “We hope to put more emphasis on bunker maintenance with more rakes and a clean-up of the embankments.” The biggest change with be a kayak landing at the foot of the club house on Portage Creek, which flows past the course.

States Golf Club, on W Ave. between Schoolcraft and Vicksburg, opened the last week of March with leagues tentatively scheduled for April 10. That signals the opening of the dining room, Eric Jasiak said. His family has owned the course for 35 years, with his mother, Rosalie, given a green light to take a little time off and retire in 2017, Eric said. He and his wife will be taking over completely. Eric’s sister Anne is going back to school and will no longer be involved in the day to day operation. Prices did change slightly with 18 holes and a cart at $29 individually and $28 for seniors.

Indian Run Golf Course, on R Ave. near Scotts, has a familiar face in the management arena with Mark Bush as general manager and chef. He grew up living on the course in the residential area and wants to bring it back to what the course was like when he played it and all the neighborhood kids hung out. He is in charge of the restaurant and banquet and event planning. One of the owners, Matt Van Acker, serves as the greens superintendent. The greens have improved because of his turf management training at Michigan State University, Bush said. There is a renewed emphasis on the bunkers with a complete renovation planned. Bush worked for Jaspare’s and when he took over at Indian Run, the first thing he did was to update the draft beer lines. He also fine-tuned much of the other equipment. Bush said it is the most affordable golf course in the area.

Pine View Golf Club on 5265 Pulver Road, between Schoolcraft and Three Rivers, opened for play the last week of March. With 36 holes, it is the largest of the area courses and is owned by the Tom Scott family with Steve Scott as the general manager. Lots of emphasis has been placed on maintaining the course over the last few years with Tom Scott, the chief mechanic, keeping the equipment in tip-top shape. Not only can a player or foursome book online, they can also spend some time at the bar, dine in the club house or schedule a banquet by working with Betty, the chef and bookkeeper who has served the course for over 25 years.

Olde Mill Golf Course at 6101 West XY Ave. was sold by Bert and Cheryl Hovenkamp in early 2016. The new owners come from illustrious backgrounds in golf and related fields. Al Lefere is the pro at Hankerd Hills near Jackson. Mark Frever is the director of landscape services at Western Michigan University, and Steve Anderson is retired from Inverness, Ohio golf course as its superintendent of grounds. All three are involved in a product called Driject which aerates the greens with a machine that goes over the top and has them ready to putt within 30 minutes in even better condition. Tina Sagers oversees the clubhouse, the banquet rooms, and manages the food and beverages. Spencer Galan is the head groundskeeper. The course opened for play on Saturday, April 1.

Community Garden Plots Ready For YOU

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The Heritage Garden plots in between the Historic Village and the pavilion on N. Richardson Street in Vicksburg.

By Kristina Powers Aubry

It’s finally spring. Time to stop dreaming over the seed catalogs and get out to dig in the dirt. That means the Community Garden Network is about to start another season of making garden plots available to local residents to grow their own flowers and vegetables.

The two sites are the Pantry Garden at the Henry Leja farm across from Summit Polymers on West Prairie Street and the Heritage Garden at the north end of the Vicksburg Historic Village on N. Richardson Street near the Community Pavilion. They are waiting to be turned, weeded, fertilized, mulched and fixed up to be ready for planting this spring. Traditionally, potatoes and peas go in the ground on Easter weekend for good luck, so the time is growing close. There are several plots available in either garden.

There is no fee to plant in the gardens. Both gardens are divided into small plots within the larger garden. Individuals may plant flowers, vegetables, and plants of their choice and are responsible for maintaining their plot and helping to keep the public areas of the gardens tidy for the season. The gardens are maintained with natural pesticides and weed control measures when possible. Free manure, wood chips and basic tools in the garden sheds are available for all gardeners to use. Straw, secured by the garden managers, is available for mulching plots at a low cost for each bale.

During the season, the gardeners come together for social events and schedule a “work night” each week for those who are available to work on the common areas, such as the paths and walkways, giving planters a chance to compare notes. They have a good time learning from one another and sharing planting tips and recipes.
Not a gardener but like to be outside in the fresh air? Volunteers for mowing, special projects and weeding are always welcomed by the group. They never turn away volunteers or anyone needing service hours or community service. Often the payoff is fresh produce. If you have manure or straw to donate or sell and can deliver, the gardeners would like to talk to you.

For information on a garden plot in either garden, offers for manure or straw, or any general information, please call Kristina Powers Aubry at 269-649-1445; kpaubry@aol.com; or Wendy French at frenchwr@att.net. There will be a general meeting of the Garden Network on April 19 at the Brady Township Hall at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome.