Vicksburg Planning Commission Gives Unanimous Approval to Mill PUD

By Jef Rietsma

A vote labeled the most important within a 100-year period in Vicksburg will await its village council decision on Oct. 29.

Council members are expected to decide the fate of a proposed $60 million renovation of the former Simpson Paper Company, as the village’s planning commission unanimously endorsed the potential development at its Oct. 17 special meeting.

Village Manager Jim Mallery took any suspense out of the commission’s likely position, when he concluded a 15-minute statement at the onset of the meeting by declaring his and staff’s full support of the application for the planned-unit development (PUD)  agreement.

“What I termed on Oct. 3 is arguably, the most important decision this village has had in front of it 50 years in either direction. The potential positive impact to our village will be long-lasting and around for generations,” Mallery said. “It is our recommendation, based on the advice of our experts and our staff, that this commission support and recommend approval of the document that’s in front of you.”

Eighteen citizen comments and nearly two hours later, the seven-member commission paid heed to Mallery’s support and cleared the way for the matter to appear before the village council.

The tipping point that ultimately generated the commission’s and Mallery’s support could fairly be pegged to a series of critical concessions yielded by the project’s backer, Chris Moore, late the night before and only hours ahead of the planning commission’s meeting.

Tim Frisbie, a planning commission member and also a part of the seven-person village council, said the last-minute negotiating yielded a result that he could live with.

“There was language in (the original document), regarding sound that we had an issue with … that was a sticking point,” Frisbie said, following the meeting. “Negotiations late on Oct. 16 ended in disagreement, but we reconvened our conversations today. Chris called me personally and we discussed it, my issue with it impacting the (adjacent areas), and they ended up removing the language completely.”

Frisbie said everyone involved on both sides of the proposal clearly wanted to see some form of a plan garner approval. Still, he had comments written and ready to share at the meeting, where he was prepared to oppose the plan.

Frisbie said he discarded those notes at 2:15 p.m., not long after the various sticking points with Moore appeared to have been resolved.

Paper City’s proposal includes a conversion of the existing historical structure and grounds to a multi-use facility to include apartments, office space, event space, multiple food- and beverage-production facilities, a craft brewery and beer gardens.

It also plans to include outdoor venues for live performances where the majority of concerts will be one-night shows, not multiple days.  “We’ve asked for up to two weekends a year of multiple day festivals,” Koney said.

More than any other issue, the live-music component received the most attention – and criticism. Project Manager Jackie Koney said original plans called for amplified sound to cease at midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 p.m. any other days of the week.

Difficult as it was to accept, Koney said, Paper City agreed to a 10 p.m. conclusion Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. In the agreement, the Mill operation is allowed to go to midnight six days a year for the large (usually multiple-day) events/festivals.

“We definitely made concessions … in a big way, actually,” Koney said afterward. “We still feel this is a very good product and a business model that will work.”

With just a few exceptions, the 18 people who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting were adamantly in support of the redevelopment proposal. Many echoed the need for such a destination, while others noted the plan would help preserve a building and property that impacted thousands of local families over its 90-year life before closing in 2001.

Koney during the meeting told commission members she appreciated hearing the concerns as much as she did support from others.

“We have listened to, I think, about 500 of you over Q-and-A sessions and we’ll keep listening; that’s not going to change,” Koney said, also acknowledging the hundreds of hours Mallery and village staff have spent dedicated to the proposal. “We do agree with you, Jim, that we feel like we’ve come to a good compromise on a lot of things.”

Mallery has said if the project is approved, issues related to traffic volume, flow and parking would be addressed in greater detail in 2019.

“The developer needs an opportunity to continue to develop their strategy in determining what size events are best for that property,” Mallery said during an Oct. 3 planning commission work session. “Those discussions will take place similar to the discussions that have taken place on this development agreement. Staff will work with the developer to come to a fair and reasonable agreement that’s legally binding and that represent the core values of this village.”

Moore, meanwhile, is a Vicksburg native who now calls the Seattle area home. He stepped in after plans were presented to demolish the mill.

He told commission members earlier this month that he wanted to do something to honor the village by bringing back to life a community icon, albeit in a different capacity from its original purpose.

More than 70 people were in attendance at the Oct. 17 meeting. Village officials plan to conduct the Oct. 29 meeting at Vicksburg High School Performing Arts Center (PAC), which can accommodate what they expect will be another well-attended gathering.

Vicksburg Planning Commission Reviews Details of The Mill PUD

By Jef Rietsma

Members of the Vicksburg Planning Commission appear poised to make a recommendation on whether to endorse a proposed $60 million renovation of the former Simpson Paper Company mill.

Known as the Paper City Mill Project, the ambitious plan – backed by former Vicksburg resident Chris Moore – was scrutinized by commission members during their work session Oct. 3 at Vicksburg High School. An estimated 100 people attended.

The balance of the 2 1/2-hour session was limited to discussion by the seven-member planning commission, whose members directed many of their questions to Village Manager Jim Mallery, Moore, Project Manager Jackie Koney and Paper City attorney Steve Sielatycki. The evening concluded with six public comments.

Because of the work-session format of the meeting, no votes were cast. The commission’s Oct. 17 meeting, however, could feature a recommendation for or against the proposal, which would then be fielded by the Vicksburg Village Council for a final vote Oct. 29.

Both meetings are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the high school’s Performing Arts Center.

Questions related to live-music events comprised the bulk of dialogue at the Oct. 3 assembly. Koney said Paper City is seeking in its approval, a stipulation allowing it to stage at least two major music-related events annually and additional, smaller performances regularly.

Though the majority of the audience appeared to be in favor of the plan, members of the recently formed Concerned Citizens of Vicksburg have indicated their concerns center heavily on the potential volume of music and the possible length of time into the night it would be allowed. Other issues its members have cited include the development’s impact on the area’s quality of life as well as the availability of parking.

Mallery said if the project is approved, issues related to traffic volume, flow and parking would likely be addressed in greater detail in 2019 with a separate planning commission application.

“The developer needs an opportunity to continue to develop their strategy in determining what size events are best for that property,” Mallery said. “Those discussions will take place similar to the discussions that have taken place on this development agreement. Staff will work with the developer to come to a fair and reasonable agreement that’s legally binding and that represent the core values of this village.”

He went on to note that decibel levels are included within terms of the agreement, and they vary depending on the size of crowd and day of the week. For example, a maximum decibel level of 85 is set for an event at which 20,000 or more people are present.

Also, the agreement in its current state calls for amplified sound to cease at midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 p.m. any other days of the week.

Regarding infrastructure, Mallery said the fee for Paper City to connect to the village’s water infrastructure is in excess of $2.6 million. Meanwhile, Mallery said the cost to improve the wastewater infrastructure and flow rate as a direct result of Paper City’s proposed development is $2 million.

“I want the commission to be assured that we will represent the village’s interest and impact on our infrastructure system,” he said. “Wholeheartedly, we’ll be fair and reasonable, but Paper City realizes there are going to be substantial costs to the water/sewer hook-up.”

The Paper City project is being presented as a Planned-Unit Development. Attorney Lance Zoehof of Warner Norcross, explained that a PUD doesn’t fit into a specific zoning classification within a municipality’s normal ordinances.

He said Paper City’s plan is a perfect application for a PUD considering the extent of its uniqueness and extent of its mixed-use plan.

“As long as they hit minimum requirements that don’t have negative impacts on the surrounding community … the property itself gets rezoned and reclassified, and as long as they stay within their parameters, they are compliant with the zoning,” he said.

Paper City’s proposal includes a conversion of the existing historical structure and grounds to a multi-use facility to include apartments, office space, event space, multiple food- and beverage-production facilities, a craft brewery and beer gardens.

Koney addressed the commission and said Paper City has worked hard to make the process transparent, informative, responsive and responsible. She said Paper City has opened an office in the village’s downtown and staff members have been available to answer questions and address questions in person or online.

“We have given television and print interviews, provided frequently-asked questions on our website, and shared information at local community group meetings such as the Lions and Rotary,” Koney said. “Through all these points of contact, we have heard overwhelming support from the people of this community. We want to be good citizens while retaining the rights and responsibilities to build and run our business.”

Moore will be responsible for at least a quarter of the redevelopment’s cost. A Vicksburg native who now calls Seattle his home, Moore stepped in after plans were presented to demolish the mill, which closed in 2001.

He told commission members he wanted to do something to honor the village by bringing back to life a community icon, albeit in a different capacity from its original purpose.

Still, Moore acknowledged the challenges involved with the planning and zoning for such a project.

The majority of the six people who spoke at the conclusion of the meeting indicated their support for the project. The opponents who spoke reiterated that noise generated as a result of the live music, potential parking issues and traffic volumes were their main concerns.

Former village manager Ken Schippers received a round of applause after concluding his brief statement. He said anyone willing to take on a task as mammoth as renovating the long-abandoned mill should have the community’s support.

Schippers acknowledged Moore, Koney and Mallery for their collective commitment to the process.

“I’d just like you to know that I do put my support behind (the proposal) 100 percent … I hope it all goes well for you,” he said.

Vicksburg School Enrollment Up Over Estimate

By Sue Moore

Opening day of the 2018-2019 school year saw an enrollment of 2,645 students in Vicksburg Community Schools according to Superintendent Keevin O’Neill at the monthly school board meeting. “For budget purposes we had estimated 2,625 students, so this is a nice addition, but we won’t know for sure until we take the official count,” he said.

Much of the meeting was taken up with reports from various department administrators, with Mike Roy, athletic director pointing out the turf surface at the stadium is in good shape. The life expectancy was estimated to be 8-12 years; it is in its 12th year and getting a huge amount of use. “Lots of effort has gone into repairing it each year, making sure that the turf was within the acceptable limits for impact,” said Steve Goss, assistant superintendent.

“It’s paid off and we’re using it for free now,” said Board President Skip Knowles.

Citing student sport participation, Roy said that 53 percent of the high school student body played one sport during the last school year. Of the senior class, 88 played one sport and 33 participated in two sports with seven out for three sports. “We are trying to de-emphasize kids playing just one sport,” Roy told the board. “We believe that valuable lessons are learned in not specializing in one sport.”

Karen McKinstry, transportation director congratulated bus driver Jerri Gorsline who is now on her 47th year of driving for Vicksburg. She is now realizing that she is picking up some of the grandkids of children she started with many years ago.

Altogether the Vicksburg buses traveled 287,292 miles in 2017-18 with a total of 422,046 riders delivered safely during the school year. The buses have consumed 55,800 gallons of diesel fuel and 789 gallons of regular gas, using the smaller mini-vans largely for athletic contests with 48,378 students on board throughout the year. Special needs transportation totaled 86,376 miles.


William “Billy” Michael Bolton, 28, Vicksburg, passed away August 25. He was born to Stanley and Kathy (Giem) Bolton on May 31, 1990. Billy attended Vicksburg schools as well as Sulphur Rock and Viola High School in Arkansas. He loved animals and had a witty sense of humor. Billy’s family includes his mother, Kathy Bolton, of Portage; his father, Stanley (Dawn) Bolton, of Climax; sisters Nickole “Nicki” (Scott) Berger, of Portage; Renee (Adam Clark) Storm, of Tennessee; and Gloria (Adam) Wicks, of Florida; paternal grandmother Violet (Stan) Skrzypek, of Three Rivers; maternal grandmother Peg Giem, of Portage; cherished uncle Donny Bolton, of Three Rivers; and nephews Steven Giem and Luke Clark; brother-in-law Jake Kellogg, of Three Rivers; best friend Thomas “Will” Wyatt, of Vicksburg; and many great aunts and uncles. Billy was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Don Bolton and Seth Giem; great uncle Robert Noel and great-grandmother Beverly Waldron. Visit his page at Donations may go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Dennis “Denny” Boyle, 87, Scotts, died Sept. 11. He was born October 22, 1930 to Edwin and Eleanor Boyle. Denny graduated from Milford High School in 1948. Denny earned a master’s degree at EMU. He taught at Milford High, coached basketball and led his team to the state finals. He married Yvonne Engel in 1951 and moved to Vicksburg to work as registrar at WMU for almost 30 years. Denny served as a member and president of the Vicksburg School Board. He was also president of Vicksburg Rotary and the Vicksburg Village Council. He was the longest-serving general chairperson of the Rotary Showboat. Denny is survived by his children: Katherine (Jay) Crouch, of Niles; Colleen Boyle, of Vicksburg; Audrey Boyle, of Minnesota; Patricia (Scott) Cline, of Schoolcraft; Dennis (Georgia) Boyle, of Portage; Trina (Gary) Boyle-Holmes, of Vicksburg; Tobias (Robyn) Boyle, of Portage; Timothy (Pierina) Boyle, of Missouri; Kevin Boyle, of Vicksburg; Kelly (Didik) Soekarmoen, of Vicksburg; Mary (Jack) Paulsen, of Battle Creek; Maureen (Rob) Brown, of Portage; 31 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings: Patricia Wilbur, of South Carolina; Eleanor “Tommy” Doonan, of Texas; and Milly Webb, of Colorado; a sister-in-law, Audrey McKeon, of Troy; a brother-in-law, Don Butler, of Arizona and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Yvonne, in 2013; his sister, Joan Butler; and his grandson, Dennis Boyle-Holmes. Visit his page at Donations may go to Vicksburg Foundation, Vicksburg Rotary and St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church.

Edith May Bradshaw, Schoolcraft, passed away Sept. 7. She was born September 1, 1921. Edith May grew up on the Clark Farm outside Schoolcraft. She was raised by Helen and Alvin Forsyth. She attended the one-room grade school nearby and graduated from Mattawan High School in 1939. She moved to Kalamazoo and married Robert A. Bradshaw on March 1st, 1944. In 1958, she and Bob moved back to Schoolcraft where they lived until 2002. Bob preceded her in death on March 31, 2003. Edith May was a wife, mother, grandmother, homemaker, and bookkeeper. She is survived by her daughter Esther (Jerry) Wiles of Galesburg and son Oliver D. Bradshaw of Richmond, VA, grandsons Christopher A. Bradshaw of Jackson Heights, NY and W. Gregory Bradshaw of Richmond, VA, and many nieces and nephews. Visit her page at

Joseph A. Caporossi, 35, Schoolcraft, passed away unexpectedly at home Sept. 6. Joseph was born in Kalamazoo on December 25, 1982, the son of Patrick A. and Cathy R. (Rhoades) Caporossi. He graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 2001 and attended KVCC. Joe worked at Tile Mart for seven years and then at PNC Bank for ten. In addition to his parents, he is survived by his siblings, Michael (Annie) Waterman, Lisa (Billy) Lynch and Tony (Katherine) Caporossi; nieces and nephews Riley and Spencer Waterman, Arrianna Ring, Vinny Caporossi, Mose Lynch and Kami Caporossi; grandmothers, Lenore Stair and Donna Rhoades; as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins and his dog, Petunia. Joseph was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Raymond Rhoades and Dino Caporossi and step-grandfather, Edward Koperdak. Visit his page at Donations may go to SPCA of SW Mich.

Robert L. Cook, 81, Scotts, died July 30 at Rose Arbor Hospice, where his wife Helen had died six days before. Robert was born and raised in Allegan. He served in the Marines from 1957-60. Afterward, he mentored Marines in Kalamazoo. Robert helped create the Rose Park Veteran’s Memorial. He worked in the packaging industry for 58 years. He was co-founder of Arvco Container Corporation, retiring in 2003. He then formed Speciality Packaging. He was past president of Jaycees, charter president of Kalamazoo Sunrise Rotary, longtime member of Kalamazoo Rotary Club. He is survived by daughters Sally (Carl) Barber of Plainwell; Carrie (John) Hine of Wayland; Rhonda (Steve) Broekema of Schoolcraft; Patti (Scott) Sampley of Kalamazoo; and Robin (Brian) Wicker of St. Michael, Minn.; 12 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren and several beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert B. Cook and Donna (Pierce) Cook; sisters Barbara Jean Gilpin and Patricia Whitney; brothers-in-law, Dick Gilpin and George Whitney; and son-in-law Mike Irwin. Donations may go to Young Marines of Kalamazoo or VA Medical Hospital Palliative Care Unit. Visit his page at

Fredericka “Freddi” Coppes, 90, Vicksburg, passed away on Sept. 3. Freddi was preceded in death by her husband, Richard “Dick” Coppes. She was born at home on Patterson Street in Kalamazoo, on May 10, 1928. She was the daughter of Edward and Theresa (Holtman) Mastenbrook. Freddi attended Woodward Elementary School and Kalamazoo Central High School, graduating in 1946. She was a varsity softball player. Freddi retired from Michigan Bell around 1966 to become a farmer. She and Dick bought an 80-90 acre farm in Vicksburg to raise cattle. They bought bull calves at auction, named them, and kept a book on each one, buying 50 new calves per year. She was a founding member of the Ladies Stock Club studying stocks and investing successfully. For years she designed and created special costumes for the featured performers of the Rotary Showboat and helped organize and cook the Thursday night pre-show dinner. She was awarded the distinguished “Red Rose Award” for outstanding support of Rotary projects by a non-member. She was also known for her landscape paintings. She designed the quilt square, representing love of land and country, hanging on the old red barn at the farm. She enjoyed sewing, oil painting, bowling and volunteering for the Vicksburg Ambulance Service. She was a strong supporter of FFA and 4H. Sadly, dementia stole much of the “real” Freddi for the past five years. Visit her page at Donations may go to the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (c/o Vicksburg DDA/VCAC) or the South County Community Services.

Jean A. Fleck, 80, Coralville, IA, formerly of Vicksburg, died peacefully Sept. 6. She was born on March 9, 1938 to Chester and Alice (Johnson) Dalman. Jean was a talented musician. By her early teens, Jean provided the organ music at two local churches. She was awarded an organ scholarship to WMU. Jean played trombone in the Vicksburg High School marching band. Music continued throughout her life with dancing, piano and guitar playing, and organized singing (Sweet Adelines). Jean is survived by her husband, Arthur, of Coralville and their three daughters, Elizabeth DeLuca of Matamoras, PA, Julie (Byron) Tabor of Cedar Rapids, IA, and Nicole (Marcus) Fleck-Tooze of Lincoln, Neb.; her grandson, Arthur DeLuca and her sister, Jacqueline Wetmore. Jean was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Gary. Visit her page at

Herbert Mallory Goodwin, 84, Vicksburg, passed away Sept. 22. He was born on February 16, 1934, a son of the late Herbert and Sara (Dustin) Goodwin and was a lifelong area resident. Herbert joined the US Navy in 1955 and was honorably discharged in 1957. He worked for the Kalamazoo County Parks Department as a foreman for 32 years and was honored with a resolution upon his retirement in 1995. Herbert was a member of the Kal-Val Saddle Club and earned numerous awards over his 64 years there. He was an extremely enthusiastic barrel racer and had a passion for his horses. Herbert also took great pride in taking care of the grounds at Kal-Val. He was also a proud member of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Mounted Division. Herbert is survived by his loving wife, Beverly Goodwin; a daughter, Brenda Goodwin of Vicksburg; three stepsons, Curt (Shelly) Pryor of North Carolina, Eric (Amy) Pryor of Kalamazoo and Dave (Gwen) Pryor of Kalamazoo; eight grandchildren; a sister, Georgia Piper of South Carolina; and many nieces and nephews. Donations may go to Country Christian Evangelical Free Church. Visit his page at

Louise Heller, Vicksburg, passed away August 23. She was born Oct 7, 1933 in Kalamazoo to Helen and Lewis Crawford. As a loving mother, wife and friend, she loved cooking, baking and everything outdoors. She loved teaching her children the many secrets of nature and if you ever needed to know how to spell a word, she was like a walking dictionary. She is survived by her son, Jim, and his wife Renée, five grandchildren, four great grandchildren and the extended family of Bob and Jane Hedges. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Susan, husband, Jess, and brother, David.

Dale “Nikki” Kuhn, 65, Schoolcraft, died suddenly Sept. 14. She was the daughter of Arthur W. Fowler, Jr. and Beverly (Weber), who preceded her in death. Nikki graduated from Bishop Foley High School and Glen Oaks Community College. She worked as an R.N. for Three Rivers Manor, Bronson Hospital and was currently at Renal Care, Fresenius Health Care. On October 8, 1978, Nikki married Terry Kuhn in Sturgis and they shared many beautiful years together serving the Lord. They were ordained together in 2015 with the Christian International Apostolic Network. Together they raised and showed Shetland sheepdogs, and cared for them like children. Under her guidance, many of them became champions and grand champions. Nikki was also preceded in death by her sister, Christine, and her brother, Arthur Fowler III. She is survived by her husband, Terrance Kuhn, of Schoolcraft; her sister, Eileen (Keith) Swanson of Romeo; her nephews, Keith Swanson, Jr. of Memphis, Kyle (Rachel) Curtiss of Howell, and Kevin Curtiss of Delton; and her sister-in-law, Carol Satterly of Hastings. Donations may go to the Kalamazoo Alzheimer’s Association or the Gospel Mission. Visit her page at

Gloria L. Manuszak, 78, Portage, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away Sept. 20. She was born to Stephen and Elizabeth Esther (Vliek) Bella August 20, 1940. She waitressed at area restaurants including Greco’s and the Beacon Club. With the kids grown, Gloria’s 30-year marriage ended. She began her own home-flipping business, Restorations by Gloria. Gloria is survived by her children, Barb Manuszak, of Mendon; Bill (Tiffiny) Manuszak, of Vicksburg; Greg (Kelly) Manuszak, of Grandville; Steve (Stacy) Manuszak, of Arizona; and Whit (Tara) Manuszak, of Arizona; 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her two siblings: Georgia Bella, of Indiana and David (Connie) Bella, of Paw Paw. She was preceded in death by her parents and her grandson, Alec Manuszak. Visit her page at Donations may go to Habitat for Humanity.

Ronald Addison Martens, Fulton and Gun Lake, died Sept. 16. He was born December 14, 1929 to Harold and Cora DeYoung Martens. He was valedictorian at Athens Agricultural Schools in 1948. Ron won a Regents Alumni Scholarship to U of M, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1952 and a master’s in 1954. In 1956 he joined the US Civil Service Commission. Ron moved to Defense Property Disposal Service in 1980, retiring in 1986. He was an initial donor and board member of Cedar Park Senior Housing and a board member of South County Community Services. A botanist, his passion was growing fruits, vegetables and flowers. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lois, in 2010; his parents; his brother, Richard in 2016. Survivors include his children, Alan (Cheryl) Martens of Holland; Camille (Martin) Subject of Leslie; Nathan (Wendy Rice) Martens of Galesburg; grandchildren Jasen (Christine) Rademacher; Sarah and Matthew Subject; Emma, Samuel, Elizabeth “Betsy” and Nicholas Martens; great grandchildren Gracelyn, Luke and Beckett Rademacher; a sister, Shirley Martens of Carlton, OR; an aunt, Lucille Marusek of Bradenton, FL.; his in-laws, many cousins, nieces and nephews. Memorial services will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Richland on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. A reception will follow in the Gull Prairie Room. Donations may go to the Caregivers Conference at the Transformations Spirituality Center or the First Presbyterian Church of Richland. Visit his page at

Iris T. McGahan, 88, Vicksburg, passed away Sept. 28. Iris was born August 12, 1930 in Newberry. She was the daughter of Elmer and Nellie (Hetric) Fritz. She graduated from Newberry High School in 1948. She married the love of her life, Edwin McGahan, on June 18, 1948. Iris McGahan worked as the Director of Food Service for Vicksburg Community Schools for over 23 years. She is survived by her four children: Dennis (Sandy Robinson) McGahan, of Vicksburg; Keith (Jacki) McGahan, of Richland; Kathy (Gary) Bragg, of Three Rivers; and Darlene (Duane VanderPloeg) Wiborn, of Martin; nine grandchildren, and 21 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Edwin; a daughter-in-law, Christine McGahan; a grandson, Michael Edwin McGahan; and six siblings. A funeral will be held Oct. 3 at Vicksburg United Methodist Church. Visit her page at Donations may go to Great Lakes Caring Hospice.

Harriet Lavonne (Groen) Pruitt, Vicksburg, passed away Sept. 8. Born May 18, 1941, she was the oldest daughter of Cornelius and Gertrude Groen. She married Bill D. Pruitt on Dec. 26, 1959. Her children are Linda Mickel, Bill Pruitt Jr and Chad Pruitt. Her seven grandchildren include Danielle Reynolds, Matthew Reynolds, Michael Reynolds, Bill Pruitt III, Drake Pruitt, Allison Pruitt and Casen Pruitt and great grandchildren Caleb Nettles, Evan Nettles and Gavin Reynolds. She and Bill shared 50 years of marriage before Bill passed suddenly. Harriet came from a very large, loving family. Her brother and sisters include Gerrit Groen, Betty Achterhoff (deceased), Joyce Smeenk, Glenda Miller and John Groen.

Michael Redmann, 42, Schoolcraft, died Sept. 14. Michael was born Sept. 4, 1976 in Grand Rapids to Mark and Marcia (Jensen) Redmann. Michael loved spending time with his friends and family as well as fishing in all seasons. He also loved Notre Dame football, Detroit Tigers baseball and had the musical interest and talent to hear, enjoy and play a wide variety of music. His sense of humor, compassion and love for others, and his intelligence made Michael the son, brother and friend that we will all miss forever. Survivors include his mother, Marcia Redmann; brother, Matthew Redmann; and nephew, Ayden.

LaVon Mae Rolfe, 93, passed away Sept. 20. LaVon was born in Iowa, June 22, 1925 to Ralph and Irene Miller (Dunham). She graduated from Benjamin Bosse High School in Evansville, IN. LaVon was a medical professional in the office of Dr. August Fath after her marriage to Clarence “Larry” Rolfe in 1946, but her path veered to raising children and the bookkeeping of Larry’s music store. LaVon was also an Avon sales representative for over 30 years. LaVon lived at home until recently, thanks to occasional assistance from her friend and caregiver, June French. A fall on Sept. 7 led to emergency back surgery and a stay at the Bronson Commons rehabilitation facility, where she peacefully passed away. LaVon was preceded in death by her husband, Larry, and by her big brother Ralph Jr., and brother-in-law Stanley, several years ago. Her first-born child, Kevin, died several days after birth, but was never forgotten. LaVon is survived by her other children: Craig Rolfe, Kirk Rolfe, Tamra (Randy) Stafford, and Bruce (Crystal) Rolfe; and by grandsons Nicholas (Lisa) Stafford, and Jaron Rolfe and Alexander Rolfe, as well as their respective soon-to-be spouses, Abbie Pressley and Michelle Walters. Donations may go to Residential Opportunities, Inc. of Kalamazoo. This organization has assured Kirk a safe and contented life for decades.

Fred Simkins, 79, Vicksburg, died Sept. 6. He was born April 25, 1939 to Marcus and Alice Simkins. Fred served in the Army for three years, mostly stationed in France. He always appreciated the beauty of the land and dreamed of going back to visit. Fred worked as a tool and die maker as well as a supervisor at Checker Motors. Fred’s family includes his wife of 14 years, Joyce; his children, Dwight (Donna) Blodgett, John (Liubov) Blodgett, Andrew (Joni) Simkins, Tina (Chris) Hondzinski, Melanie (John) Kelly, Rebecca (Randall) Hoogstraton; siblings Jean, Mike, Tom, Jerry, Rose, Cheryl, Carol, Reva; grandchildren Cassandra, Jessica, Max, Allison, Megan, Andelyn, Alex, Connor, Somber and Tannen; a great grandchild, Escher, as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, Pat, and his second wife, Linda. Visit his page at Donations may go to the National Kidney Foundation or Glenn Arbor Hospice.

Harriett Jeanne Swartz, 81, Schoolcraft, died Sept. 4. The daughter of Donald and Mary Jane Swartz, Harriett was born on December 29, 1936 in Chicago. Upon graduation from Schoolcraft High School then WMU, she taught at Milwood Elementary School in Kalamazoo for 41 years – all but one year in the same room. An educator, historian, author and gardener, she was immersed in her community. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Schoolcraft Historical Society, and the Ladies Library of Schoolcraft. Still, her greatest joy was her large family and many friends. She is survived by brothers Donald, Michael (Sandra) Swartz, sister Nancy (Richard) Rafferty; nephews Richard (Mary) Rafferty, Donald (Janice) Rafferty, James (Toni) Rafferty, Scott (Andrea) Swartz; nieces Kathleen Dixon, Michelle (Mark) Romstadt, Jennifer (Dan) Sielaff, Jennifer (John) Kalleward, Cindy (Chris) Ballosh, Jacque (Scott) Wilcox; great nieces and nephews Dianna (Chad) Coley, Samuel (Angela) Kalleward, Cullen and Cormac Dixon, Andrew and Bradley Romstadt, Jack and Ian Rafferty, Nathan and Samuel Sielaff, Bryson and Caleb Swartz, Jozie and Drew Rafferty, Jackson and Lucas Kalleward, Henry Wilcox, Hayden Ballosh, Kylie and Kinsley Dixon. Donations may go to First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft, Ladies Library Association of Schoolcraft, Schoolcraft Historical Society or a charity of one’s choice.

Ellen Palmer Uithoven, 89, Vicksburg, passed away surrounded by family Sept. 9. Ellen was born on Dec. 27, 1928 to Earl and Helen Hitchcock. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central and KVCC. She enjoyed theater, acting in high school plays and later in the first Barn Theatre production. She was in many Civic productions and also directed plays at KVCC. She worked as a telephone operator, a mail carrier, and did food service at Upjohn and KVCC. She was a worthy matron of the Eastern Star, Lotus Lily chapter. Ellen raised Labrador retrievers and had several show dogs. Ellen’s family includes her children, Rod Palmer, Rick (Wendy) Palmer, Randey (Karen) Palmer; grandchildren Ann (Stephen) Jacobs, Sean (Jennifer Priest) Palmer, Emily (Doug) Lovell, Jesse (Jennifer) Palmer, Stacy (Andrew) Wood and Maddie Eves; 17 great grandchildren as well as three nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Alfred Burton Palmer, her second husband, Robert Uithoven and siblings William and Delores. Visit her page at

Bryan Wines, 70, Kalamazoo, passed away at home on August 24. Bryan was born September 26, 1947 in Mount Clemens, attended Dearborn High School and was a 1969 WMU graduate. He taught high school math in the Vicksburg and Kalamazoo Public School districts. He retired in 2014 after teaching at the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. In 2002, Bryan was named the Michigan Alternative Education Teacher of the Year. Bryan was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Fern Wines and is survived by his sister, Kari Bricker, Westland, Mich. and a brother, Roger Wines, Canton, MI. Donations may go to Hospice of SW Michigan or the West Michigan Cancer Center. Visit his page at

Jack L. Wiley, passed away Sept. 27. He was born February 5, 1952 in Kalamazoo. He was the son of Artemus and Bettie (Rockelein) Wiley. Jack was a graduate of Vicksburg High School. He was a two-time state champion wrestler in 1969 and 1970. Jack retired as a self-employed excavating contractor. He married Julie Batten on August 14, 1971. Jack is survived by his wife Julie, children Jack Jr (Joanne) Wiley and Kris (Jamie) Barga all of Vicksburg. He loved his five grandchildren: Michael, John, Dustin, Ally and Torie. Visit his page at

Summer Camp Brings Inner City Kids to Schoolcraft

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Shannon Myers’ family members helped with the Kindness Acts camp. They are from left to right: Linda Gless (mom), Julie Gless (sister-in-law), Brittney Moldovan (daughter), and Shannon Myers.

By John Fulton

Kindness Acts 20:35 is a Christian-based organization founded by Shannon Myers of Vicksburg and her friends and family. The vision for a Christian organization doing random acts of kindness began for Meyers in 2013 after being inspired by a friend who started the Pittsburgh kindness initiative.

Last year Kindness Acts received two generous donations that allowed it to offer a kids’ camp and a fall carnival for children who live or have resided at the Gospel Mission. The owners of the Dome in Schoolcraft, Josh and Amber Baird, are very generous and allowed them to use their facilities for the camp and carnival. Next Level Performance also provided elite sports training and leadership development for some of the campers. Myers said, “We could not have hosted the camp without the partnership of the Dome and Next Level Performance.” Local restaurants including Jaspare’s, Wendy’s and Little Caesar’s have donated meals for the camp. Big Air Bouncers have donated bounce houses several times.

Kids attended the camp Monday through Friday. Random Acts rented buses to pick up and return the them to the Mission at the end of each day. This year about 40 kids attended. They gather for worship, a message and of lots of games and fun, Shannon said, “The volunteers are exhausted at the end of the day but feeling very rewarded.” Another major focus is the fall carnival coming up in October. Last year 80 kids came to the carnival.

Before the camp could get off the ground, Myers needed to find people willing to invest time, energy and finances to support the fledging organization. Myers developed a PowerPoint presentation and invited family and friends to her home to share her vision. About 70 attended that first meeting.

The organization’s name is based on a scripture, Acts 20:35. The scripture in part reads, “And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Some of its projects have included feeding people at the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, providing 2,500 survival packs, and donating large household items to help families needing to reestablish a home after being homeless with items such as fridges, stoves, beds, tables. They also host Bible studies for men and women at the KGM. “We aspire to connect families in need with mentors that pray, encourage, and support them with basic life skills, Myers said.

Myers has partnered with the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission in this endeavor for five years. Myers’ family and friends have been involved from the beginning. In 2015 she had a new, supportive and enthusiastic partner join in the efforts, Eric Meyers, her husband of nearly three years.

While talking about growing up, Shannon and Eric discussed how kid’s camp was so very important and fun for them. They wanted to offer that experience to other kids.

Myers said, “We could use 300 volunteers tomorrow. The need is that great.”

If this sounds like a project that you, your church or service club would like to help with there are many opportunities. Email her at “We need delivery drivers, mentors, prayer warriors, volunteers for the camp and carnival, donations of household items, creatives, technology and financial support.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @KINDNESS ACTS 2035. Their website can be viewed at There you can find out more about the organization and see photos of the projects they are involved in.

Record Setting Night for Schoolcraft Football

Kobe Clark sets off on one of his six touchdowns against Constantine. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

The Constantine Falcons came into the game sitting at 5-0 and ranked 5th in the state. A win would guarantee them a place in the MHSAA playoffs. It was not going to come from the Eagles though.

The rain kept falling, as the score kept climbing, in what would end up as a record setting night for one player. Kobe Clark did something that had never been done before in the state of Michigan. He scored nine rushing touchdowns in ONE game.

The scoring started quickly in the when Clark took the ball eight yards into the rival, Constantine Falcon, end zone. With the dreaded wing-T offense, the Falcons were poised to get into the end zone themselves. Unfortunately for them, the Eagle defense had other plans and forced a fumble that was recovered by Cameron Blalock. The Eagles took advantage of the Falcon’s mistake, resulting with Clark being congratulated in the end zone again, with a 25-yard run, for touchdown number two.

With a four and out, the Falcons had to punt and the ball was blocked giving the Eagles a short field to play with. Still in the first quarter, Clark carried in from nine yards out. The scoreboard was then reading 21-0. The Falcons were finally able to score in the 2nd quarter on two runs from Josh Lawson. The extra point on the second score was no good, making the score 21-13 at half time.

The Eagles had a total of 553 yds of offense for the night. Clark was able to score six more touchdowns, finishing his record setting night with 26 carries, for a total of 380 yds and 9 touchdowns. Alex Thole went three for four on passing, for 58 yards. Mark Fox carried the ball five times, for 27 yards. The Eagles recovered two fumbles by the offense of the Falcons, one by Cameron Blalock and the other by Chris Cooper.

Head Coach Nathan Ferency, got his first win against rival Constantine. He knew how much this game means to the players and the community.

However, the night belonged to Kobe Clark and the Eagles. (The previous rushing touchdown record of eight, was set in 2005, by Mike Golden of Frankenmuth).

Two Overtime Thriller in Schoolcraft in Mid-September

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Ethan McIntyre, number 51, and Parker Lawrence, number 8, react to an official’s call.

By Mark Blentlinger

If you were in Schoolcraft on Friday, September 14th, and you were hoping to see a good Football game, you didn’t see a good game, you saw a great football game! Saugatuck came in with a 3-0 record, looking to make it 4-0. The Eagles, however, were looking to come back from a loss to Berrien Springs the week prior and make their record 3-1.

There was a total of 871 yards in offense between both teams. The Indians of Saugatuck having 505 yards, the Eagles with 366. The first TD of the game came at the 9:28 mark on the clock, with a 37 yards pass from Alex Thole to Kobe Clark. Kobe had a highlight reel run of dodging, weaving and breaking tackle after tackle to find himself in the end zone. With a good extra point kick, from Chandler Guiter, the score sat at 7-0. It didn’t take long for Saugatuck to be celebrating themselves, in the Eagle end zone, with a 49 yard run by Brad Dunn. A good extra point kick put the score at 7-7, with the clock reading 8:15 in the 1st quarter. Shortly thereafter, Dunn, of Saugatuck, scored again at the 3:33 mark, with a 24 yard TD run. The extra point was good, giving Saugatuck the 14-7 lead going into the 2nd quarter.

The 2nd quarter was a battle back and forth until Eagle, Trevor DeGroote, stepped in front of a pass from Dunn, to intercept and stop Saugatuck’s drive down field. At that point, Coach Ferency, was sending in play after play. The biggest one coming off of a pass from Thole to Jimmy Downs, going 41 yards. Clark capped off the drive by going the last 2 yards into the end zone. The kick from Guiter was once again right on, sending both teams into halftime, tied at 14.

The 3rd quarter saw both teams swapping off. Scoring first, a run from Nick Baumbach of Saugatuck, that went 73 yards. Next, Eagle Chris Cooper, snagged a 10 yards pass from Thole, knotting it up again at 21 each. Again, the teams swapped TD’s, bringing it up to 28 all. Brad Dunn of Saugatuck, showed his speed yet again, going 44 yards downfield. The Eagles answered with a great pass, right into the number on the chest of Jett Gott and the race was off! Thirty-nine yards later, the high fives and jump bumps started!

The fourth quarter started with the scoreboard reading 35 on each side. Both teams worked hard to add to the points, until time ran out, forcing OT #1. The Indians, with first possession, were able to drive Dunn around the defense of Schoolcraft for the score. The Eagles then got their shot from the 10 yard line. After a first attempt only gaining 3 yards, Clark, capped it off from 7 yards out, bringing the score to 42-42.

OT #2, the Eagles struck first with a nice 6 yard run up the middle from, Mark Fox, plus the extra point kick from Guiter, made the score 49-42 Eagles. Dunn then answered again, scoring from 5 yards out. The Indians decided to go for the 2 point conversion and the win. The Eagles built a stone wall and said, sorry, not today, and were able to hold off the conversion to win the game, 49-48!

The Eagles won convincingly on the 21st at Delton Kellogg.

Eagles Volleyball Team Sweeps Quad Match

Andelyn Simkins powers the ball over the net in a recent quad match. Kayla Onken, number 10, looks on along with Alisa Ertman in the lower right. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

The Eagle Volleyball team was in action Sept. 18 at Schoolcraft High School for a quad match and home opener. The Eagles hosted Hackett Catholic Prep, Coloma and Martin. They started their opener with Hackett. The Eagles beat the Irish in three straight sets, 25-10, 25-8, and 25-11.

Court 2 had Coloma and Martin in action, going into a fifth set tiebreaker. Coloma took set one, 26-15. Martin came back, taking the next two sets 25-21 and 25-18. Coloma, however, won the fourth set 27-25 to force the tiebreaker. The fifth set belonged to Martin, 14-9, for the win.

It had been predetermined which teams would be playing one another for the night. The Eagles of Schoolcraft next faced off against the Comets of Coloma, while the Irish of Hackett played the Clippers of Martin. The long wait between matches didn’t have an effect on the Eagles. They played like they did in the first match – wherever the ball was, an Eagle was there. You did not want to be on the receiving end of Morris, Simkins or Feddema when their kill shots went into action!

The Eagles didn’t let up on the Comets at all, taking best out of three in just two sets, 25-8 and 25-10.

Maggie Morris and Andeelyn Simkins tied with 16 kills each, while Kelsey Feddema had 10. Kenzie Chrissman led the Eagles on digs with 33, Andelyn Simkins had 20 and Kayla Onken came in with 13. Aces were led by Simkins with 11 and Onken had eight.

Coach Onken said the girls played with enthusiasm. They controlled the first contact extremely well, allowing them to run their quick offense quite efficiently. Onken said all the players on the roster helped contribute to the two conference wins.

The team is at 17-3-1 this season.

Bulldog Soccer Building from Ground Up

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity boys’ soccer team is going through some growing pains again. But this year’s team has more youth than ever before.

There are just two seniors in Joe Brady and Jay Snyder. The rest of the team is made up mostly of sophomore and freshman players.

“I’m preparing this team for the next two or three years,” Head Coach Lahou Boulnemour said after a 4-0 loss to Delton Kellogg. After the game, Boulnemour encouraged his players to put extra work in on their ball-handling skills. The Bulldogs let a few too many passes get away from them once they got the ball into scoring contention. Another concern is getting the young squad to better work on their conditioning. Some of the boys simply ran out of gas in the hot conditions later in the game.

“If you’re not conditioned in the first half of the year, you’re done, you’re going to get beat,” Boulnemour said.

The rough start to the season aside, there have been flashes of what could be with this team. Their second match of the year they beat Parchment 5-3. “This team is much more disciplined than last year,” Boulnemour said.

In fact, he has very high hopes for the future if he can get everyone on the same page. “In the next two or three years I think this team will be unbeatable.”