Monthly Archives: January 2019

Vicksburg Sports Teams

The 2019 Vicksburg Winter Sports Teams are pictured below.

Area Resident Honored by Beekeepers Association

By Sue Moore

“Charlotte Hubbard of Schoolcraft is a treasure and a gift to the beekeepers in our state,” said Meghan Milbrath, head of communications for the Michigan Bee Keepers Association.

The association selected Hubbard as beekeeper of the year for 2018.

“She has absolutely earned the recognition for her hard work supporting Michigan bees and beekeepers,” Vicksburg beekeeper Greg Willis said. “Charlotte has been a great ambassador for beekeeping and is one of the speakers who can reach new bees and old bees alike. Her talks bring back the wonder and joy of being a beekeeper, and her enthusiasm when she presents brings beekeeping on a joyful trip with her. From her keynote presentation at the Upper Peninsula Beekeepers meeting to her rousing game of Bee-ingo, beekeepers benefit when Charlotte presents.”

Charlotte is the author or multiple bee books, which can be found on her website. All of the proceeds from her books go to charities. She helps push out more beekeeping education by acting as a strict and efficient editor for other authors. She once even wrote a weekly column for the Vicksburg Commercial-Express. She headed a business in Schoolcraft that published manuals for Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.

She served as the editor of the Kelley Bee Newsletter and is now the editor of the MBA Newsletter. “We didn’t have a great newsletter until Charlotte stepped in and put in the time to compile great news and info, and more importantly, nag the district reps to contact the beekeepers in their region, and let us know what is going on around the state,” Willis elaborated. He is the southwest regional board member for the association and a vendor at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market.

The award document cited how generous she is with her time and knowledge mentoring new beekeepers. She has mentored many, whatever their level of beekeeping knowledge (or anxiety). She has provided much support to young beekeepers, helping them get to meetings and travel for education. Charlotte is a gracious host to travelling beekeepers and speakers, opening her home – and pontoon boat. She is the coordinator of the Kalamazoo bee school, is active in her local bee club, and helps teach beekeeping and maintains the apiaries at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Farmers Keep Busy During the Winter Months

farmers keep busy 4 by samuel woodhams (pictured_ ricardo meneses & enrique martinez)
Walther Farms mechanics clean their potato harvesting equipment.

By Hannah Thompson, Allie Walther, Mackenzie Miller, Madison Ingle, and Samuel Woodhams, members of the 9th grade English Language Arts Class in Schoolcraft

A multiple-choice quiz: How much work do farmers do during the winter months?

A) No work.
B) A little work.
C) A lot of work.

One hundred and three people of different age groups were surveyed; 78, three-fourths, chose C): Farmers do a lot of work in the winter.

What exactly keeps farmers busy during the winter months? Jennifer Gottschalk from J & J Acres grows corn and soybeans in Schoolcraft. She stated, “I am a full-time farmer, and winter can be busier than spring planting sometimes.”

Other area farmers were interviewed, and they all had similar responses. During the winter months, farmers work on all of the machinery and equipment, on finances, and they take business trips that will help for the next farming season.

Taking care of the machinery and equipment is a big part of what farmers do in the winter. They work hard to fix, repair, and touch up the paint to make the equipment to not only look new but to also ensure it is ready for the next planting season. As Cole Lehman from Walther Farms, stated, “My winter focus is making sure the equipment gets through and gets serviced for the planting season.” Overall, the process of taking care of the machinery and equipment is an important part of the winter season for farmers.

During the summer, fall and spring, it might be hard for farmers to work on their farming finances because they are so busy working outside in the tractors with crops, so the winter is a great time to work on a lot of the finances. Josh Reeves, CFO of Walther Farms, stated, “The winter is our busy season. We get everything ready for taxes, and put things on the calendar for next year.”

Farmers do not just stay in their barns or houses all winter. Many of them spend time taking business trips. It is important for them to go to other states and see what other good ideas different farmers have. They also might get some new equipment during those trips and gather and learn new techniques. Gottschalk stated, “We are constantly going to precision farming classes and learning more and more.” Farmers succeed in growing their businesses because they can keep up on all of the new industry ideas.

It may come as a surprise to many people, but it is proven that area farmers stay just as busy during the winter months as they do during their growing seasons.

Showcase – The Show Formerly Known as Showboat

show 2By Sue Moore

Change is a-comin’ to the 66th staging of Vicksburg Rotary Club’s annual fundraiser. The past presentation featured great male choral music, corny jokes and slam-bang skits that have been part of the Showboat since its inception in 1953.

The new name is Showcase. It will still have some corny jokes, great chorus songs and a plot line according to the show’s script writers. The big difference will be the solo acts that are usually salted throughout the performance, according to Larry Forsyth, the show’s director.

All soloists are being asked to audition, said Syd Bastos, who heads the recruitment committee. “We want to showcase (thus the new name) the best talent in the area,” she said. “For most of the 65 years of its existence, the solo performers have come from within the chorus. We are reaching out to the greater community with an invitation to take a bigger part in the show. This should provide more diversity in the acts and different kinds of singers performing.”

The boat itself will also be history, said Mike Tichvon, general chairman for the last four years. “We have always incorporated a boat whether it was in a stage set or a backdrop. The theme is different, so we won’t need the boat as our primary mode of travel. We are going to the moon instead.”

The genesis of the Showboat was a minstrel show; Rotarians did song and dance routines and even performed in blackface in 1953. It was conceived as a fundraiser with over $650,000 now raised for Rotary to put back into the greater Vicksburg community. Some things did change. The blackface went out in 1984 and green men took the stage. Soon the all-male chorus and headliners grew more comfortable with being themselves on stage for the gags and songs.

With many talented choral directors, the singing parts became the headliner even when the boiler exploded almost on cue every year. It wasn’t just Rotarians who sang in the show. Anyone who could sing was invited to attend rehearsals. The four-part harmony of strictly men’s voices was stirring to the audience, Forsyth said. “We aren’t eliminating this from the show, we are just adding to it.”

“As new people moved into Vicksburg it became harder to communicate what a Showboat was,” Tichvon said. “Not as many folks were familiar with the minstrel show concept and the show gradually changed to reflect a different type of script. We kept the Showboat theme all these years. We knew we needed to change to attract a wider audience. The concept of Showcase became the motivation to upgrade all aspects of the performance.”

The new show will take the stage at the Vicksburg Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2. A matinee will be held on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. One thing that hasn’t changed is the price of general admission tickets: $10 each. They will be available at Church’s Insurance Agency, 125 E. Prairie Street, Vicksburg from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each weekday. They will be sold at the high school box office on the days of the three performances. All the money raised from ticket sales and the Showcase program will again be allocated to community charities.

Pride Care Becomes Sole Operator of Ambulance Service

ems 1
The South County EMS shown in the photo, ceased to exist on Jan. 1. It was replaced by Pride Care EMS ambulance service on that date. Shown from left are Wes Schmitt, former board president of South County EMS; Vicki White, administrator; Lea Bailey, paramedic; Chris Koeneke, emergency medical technician.

By Sue Moore

Pride Care Ambulance service made it official on New Years Day: It replaced South County Emergency Medical Service for the Vicksburg, Schoolcraft and Fulton areas, ending a decades-long tradition of local ambulance service in the area.

South Kalamazoo County residents were notified of the coming change in postcards sent in December.

The home-grown service had seen many ups and downs in its existence over the last 30-plus years. In the early years, volunteers were trained in first aid life-saving techniques.
The state tightened the licensing procedures for volunteers and eventually insisted that ambulance services must have licensed emergency medical technicians aboard. That made operations more costly. The South County EMS was formed in answer to the need to upgrade in the 1990s. It invested in staffing and equipment and operated as a nonprofit organization run by a volunteer board.

An issue has been the cost of operating within a population base that didn’t have enough demand for services to meet the overhead costs, according to Wes Schmitt the former board president. Also, Medicare and Medicaid gradually stopped reimbursing for services at their actual costs. Two entities were formed to meet the need: South County EMS contracted with the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority for service and when it appeared the ambulance service might have to file for bankruptcy two years ago, the authority put out feelers to established, for-profit ambulance services in the area.

The Fire Authority had the task of choosing a helpmate to the local service. The authority received four bids and chose Pride Care in early 2017. Pride immediately used its purchasing power to help reduce costs and took other measures to get the service on a sounder financial basis.

Local ambulance service has now come full-circle, with Pride Care taking over completely and South County EMS ceasing operations. There are advantages to these changes, said Pride Care CEO Bill Mears. “We feel that response time can improve even further, especially on second calls when one vehicle is already out,” Mears said. “Staff will not change. We have plans to purchase the building that houses the vehicles in the near future. That is being worked out with the bank and our attorney. In the meantime, we are renting the building behind the hospital in Vicksburg.”

Reading Into the New Year

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Faye VanRavenswaay, Schoolcraft library director poses with Jenny Taylor, Vicksburg third grade teacher who oversees selection of books to be read by teams in the upcoming Battle of the Books.

By Hayden Long

Special speakers, language learning courses, and new insights to local and personal history are just a few examples of what the Schoolcraft Community Library holds in store for patrons entering into a new year of literary and intellectual discovery.

Annual Events

The first meeting of the year for the adult book club will be on Jan. 9, led by librarians Pam Ballet and Cindy Chapin. Later into winter, the Battle of the Books will be waged in the Schoolcraft High School Performing Arts Center on February 16 and 21. Along with the indecisive weather of early spring, will come the annual book and bake sale fundraiser for, and in, the library. Another constant that will be returning with the new year is the popular preschool Story Hour and Tot Time directed by Ballet and Roxanne Wilkins. Later in the year, various summer reading programs will be led by Ballet, Wilkins, and Library Director Faye VanRavenswaay.

New Courses and Resources

On this year’s calendar come new opportunities for personal growth and development for any library patron who wishes to learn just a little more about the outside world, and maybe something about past ones as well. Digitally, a language program, Mango, will enable users to become comfortable with a plethora of languages, including but not limited to French, German, and Spanish. A real-time human-led course in Japanese language and culture, while not yet a certainty, is under consideration by the library.

Aside from learning languages and discovering other cultures, library patrons will also have the chance to discover their own links to the past and long-deceased relatives through the Ancestry Library Edition. In fact, through this program, the director herself, VanRavenswaay, found an intriguing story about her childhood home’s former occupant. A Captain Donahue, a hardy civil war amputee famed for his legendary service to the town of South Haven and those braving the waters of Lake Michigan, originally lived in her home. The information even includes the date of the head librarian’s own birthday. For those interested in finding other such potentially interesting stories about their own pasts, or about the pasts of their community and homes, a class introducing users to the new program, taught by Allison Ring, will be held on January 29, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Policy Goals for the New Year

Concerning the policies and rules in direct correlation to the running of the library, the majority of these decisions will be approved and cemented in the Library board’s strategic planning meeting this January. VanRavenswaay said that three prominent goals for this year’s administration are the updating of the library’s vision statement, its mission statement, and the updating of the library’s policy manual. The library wants to continue to work with local organizations, such as the Schoolcraft Ladies Library and the Schoolcraft Middle School. She also hopes to welcome future additional speakers into the library for interesting and educational talks.

Village Council Delays Authorizing Retail Marijuana Sales

oath vix vc
Carl Keller, Julie Merrill and Rick Holmes are sworn in at the December Vicksburg Village Council meeting.

By Sue Moore

Marijuana Resolution Decision

The Vicksburg Village Council voted what amounts to a wait-and-see approach on whether it should license companies to grow and sell marijuana. Retail sales of pot were approved by the voters in November in the state of Michigan.

The ordinance the council passed lets the village government make a more informed decision. It would do this by listening and surveying residents, conducting public meetings and keeping people informed via their website. A decision could be made in January 2020 on an ordinance, Village Manager Jim Mallery told the trustees.

“There are too many unknowns right now,” Mallery said. “The safest way right now is to opt out. We can always come back in. The state doesn’t have its guardrails – rules and regulations – out yet.”

Air Scrubber to Reduce Odor

Complaints have been received about the odor emanating from the Van Elderen manufacturing plant in the Leja Industrial Park. Mallery said he had met with the owners who have committed to implementing an air scrubber that they purchased from a plant in South Carolina. It arrived in Vicksburg with some parts damage which has slowed the installation. A crane will be brought on site to install the scrubber in the facility. It promises to reduce the odor. The owners from Martin, Mich. want to be good citizens, Mallery said. Trustee Reisterer said the odor was so strong near her property on Michigan Avenue that it sometimes makes her sick.

Hears Brownfield Information

Three presenters laid out plans for a Transformational Brownfield plan for the Mill property on W Avenue. Rachel Grover, resource coordinator for Kalamazoo County’s planning and development department, explained the next steps necessary for the village to take with the brownfield application.

She walked the council through the need for approval as part of the local units of government involvement in accepting and submitting the plan to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Lisa Philips, the environmental consultant who has worked on the project since its inception, described the amount of pollution on the site.

Significant amounts of fly ash have been found as the residue from burning coal to generate electricity. There are heavy metals in the components and volatile compounds in the soil, she said. There are vapor intrusion concerns along with a caustic pit that includes dioxins. Some of this was discharged into the creek on the east side of the building. Tax increment financing (TIF) money can be used to help clean this up. The soil can be taken off the site and moved to an all-care location.

“If nothing is done to the property than there will never be any taxes from the property,” Mallery said as he explained to the council what the money in the Transformational Brownfield plan would pay for.

Water Tower Fixes

It will cost $148,000 to do interior coating treatment to the village’s water tower in 2019, Malley told the Council. It has been six years since the interior has been worked on. There is a plan in place to serve the public so there will be no disruption of water service during the work, he said.

Redevelopment Ready Community

By authorizing a village application to become a Redevelopment Ready Community, the council set in motion a process that will take up to three years to complete. The cost connected to applying is negligible, said Village Manager Jim Mallery. He did cite some expenses that would need to be made such as an upgrade to the village’s web site, while noting his promise that the village would operate with complete transparency. It is designed to promote effective redevelopment strategies through a set of best practices. Other participating communities include Boyne City, Grayling, Grand Haven and Ferndale. These are examples of communities with a clear vision for their future and the fundamental practices in place to get there, according to the Pure Michigan website.

There are six main best practices set out by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation which oversees the application process. They include community planning, public outreach, zoning regulations, a review process, recruitment and education. Some of the village’s sub-governmental boards will be included in this best practice model; the members will need to make an application to serve on the DDA, Historic Village Committee, Parks and Recreation and the Municipal Building Authority.

There are many benefits to the community as the village goes through the process, said Trustee Tim Frisbie. “I hope we can even have the meetings live on Facebook, so the public can see that their money is being used in the best way possible.”

How the Library Adds Books to Its Collection

By Adrianne M. Schinkai
Head of Circulation and Reference Services, Vicksburg District Library

According to Google, there are nearly 130 million book titles in the world. With such a large number to choose from, how does a library go about selecting what books to buy for its collections?

One of the more favored tasks for a librarian is collection development and buying items for the library. But a librarian cannot be biased in what they buy. They cannot sit down and just decide to buy all their favorites or what they personally want to read. Nor does a librarian simply go out shopping at the local Barnes & Noble to pick up supplies.

Based on practices established by the American Library Association, a librarian must buy items that cover a wide range of topics and views. Whether liberal or conservative, opinion-based or fact-based, young or old, every patron must be served. A librarian must also be ready to supply items that are most pertinent to their library and their library’s patrons. For example, many patrons of the Vicksburg District Library are lovers of historical fiction and Amish romances. Popular authors in Vicksburg tend to include Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, and Colleen Coble.

Librarians use many types of media when it comes to choosing items for their library. “A lot of times, vendors come to us with new materials,” says Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Willoughby. “We tend to get advertisements that list the latest releases and new up-and-coming writers. We also receive catalogs like Publishers Weekly every week or so.” Every librarian has their own favorite resources, says Willoughby. “I like to use School Library Journal and Voices of Youth Advocates. The listed items have been reviewed by other librarians.” Items are then ordered online through hubs such as Baker & Taylor, where stakeholders such as libraries tend to get a discount.

Patrons also play a big part when it comes to collection development. Patrons are always welcome to fill out a materials request slip at the circulation desk or to fill out the request form on the library’s website. However, Willoughby warns it’s not a given. “A patron can certainly always suggest an item for purchase, but it’s not a guarantee that the library will actually purchase the book.” Factors that can result in a requested item not being purchased include the availability of the item, whether the item will circulate beyond the one requesting patron, and, at times, price and budget.

If this is the case, how should a patron go about getting their hands on an item they want? “Make use of the other items and services the library has to offer,” suggests Willoughby. “If an item isn’t in print, check to see if we have the audio book or ebook through OverDrive. Otherwise, we can always try borrowing the item from another library through MeL.” MeL is better known as the Michigan Electronic Library and is used by the library for interlibrary loan items.