Monthly Archives: March 2019

Matt Wagner Returns Home While on Tour with Diavolo

By Sue Moore

The scene in the Schoolcraft Middle School library was one of adulation as all the school’s 5th graders crowded around their hero, Matt Wagner. He talked about his experiences as a gymnast with the Diavolo dance troupe which performed at Miller Auditorium on Feb. 27 and 28. The students attended the daytime performance on the 28th as part of Kalamazoo County’s Education for the Arts program.

Wagner grew up on Barton Lake, attended school at Howardsville Christian school and was a neighbor of Kelli Mein, one of the fifth-grade teachers in Schoolcraft. She had invited Wagner to come and talk to the students while in Kalamazoo for the performances. He was gracious enough to oblige, she said.

The students’ hands were up repeatedly, asking questions about his work, his experiences and even his conditioning for the arduous dance routines the unit performs. The group is subtitled “architecture in motion. The routines resemble modern dance to some extent but also involve athletic techniques, gymnastics and endurance. The structures they perform on cost millions to construct, Wagner told the students.
Some of the questions they asked:

How much do you practice? “Sometimes many hours a day.”

Do you know how to play Fortnite (an online video game)? “Yes, but I don’t play it.”

Why is Jacques the leader? “It was his dream to have a dance troupe.” Jacques Heim is the troupe’s founder and artistic director.

How much does it cost for the entire troupe to travel? “A lot. The 16 to 18 people have to fly, stay in a hotel room, travel in buses to get to the performance venue, rent studios for practice, pay for food for each day, employ truck drivers for the rented semi-trailers, costumes and sets. It adds up fast.”

What’s the biggest theatre you have performed in? “One in Germany where we appeared on TV.”

How did you come up with the logo? “Jacques actually did and this is the second one we have that plays on the name Diavolo.”

Did you win on America’s Got Talent? “No, we placed second.”

Did you get to talk to the winners? “We spend a lot of time waiting around backstage and get to know the other contestants.”

Do you get paid for doing this? “Not a lot but getting paid for what you love to do is not a problem.”

Do people recognize you when walking down the street? “No.”

Can you do a back flip on the ground? “Yes.”

Can you do a side aerial? “Yes.”

Do you get injuries? “We don’t use safety nets or mats when flying. We do have bumps and bruises but that just goes with the territory.”

After the performance some students waited around to get Matt’s autograph and ask him a few more questions. It appeared that they felt a little star struck and desired to know more.

When asked if he had any advice for the 5th graders, he replied, “The more you do, the better life can be for you! Always be willing to try new things!”

Chili Cook Off Signals the End of a Long Winter – Maybe!

By Sue Moore

Over 20 vendors will have chili samples for a hungry noon lunch crowd at the Vicksburg Community pavilion on Saturday, March 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s the annual Chili Cookoff, sponsored by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with the 5K Chili Dash, sponsored by Vicksburg’s high school track team with coach Lucas Wolhuis in charge of the race. All ages are invited to register and run, no matter the weather conditions on that day.

The Chili Cookoff has been a winter event in Vicksburg for over 12 years, having begun as a fundraiser for the Chamber. Three years ago, it moved to the pavilion on N. Richardson Street as a way to avoid the cost of renting a huge tent to house the competitive cooks that participate. The Chamber purchased tarps to surround the west side of the pavilion from the cold winds coming off Sunset Lake the first year at the pavilion. Then catastrophe set in with the winds changing course and coming from the east and the temperature dipping below 10 degrees.

The Chamber purchased enough tarps the second year, 2018, to go around both sides, only to be blessed with a beautiful sunny day in March. “We are ready for anything this year,” said Mandy Miller, Chamber president and chief organizer. “It’s not so much of a fundraiser now. We just want the community to get to know the Chamber, to come and participate, have fun and get to see their neighbors and friends after a long hard winter.”

Tickets are 50 cents to taste individual chili samples. There will be a People’s Choice contest for the most popular chili and a secret Judge’s Choice with prizes for the winners presented between 2 and 3 p.m. Medals for the runners will be presented in the pavilion soon after the race finishes. The race will start at Vicksburg Auto Body Shop on Spruce Street and go along the east side of the village, then through downtown Vicksburg and back to the starting line.

Distant Whistle beer will be available for purchase to complement the many varieties of chili on sale.

Tournament of Writers Now Accepting Entries

Winners from the 2018 Tournament of Writers gather for their official picture after receiving their awards. Photo by Bill Christiansen.

By Jake Munson

“Swords down, Pens up, Get clacking, Go!” It’s time for the Tournament of Writers, a local writing contest for writers of all ages, sponsored by the Schoolcraft Friends of the Library. Now in its fifth year, the Tournament of Writers will partner with the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center for the first time.

“We wanted to expand the tournament to include more area writers and judges,” Tournament Coordinator Deb Christiansen explained. She turned to the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. “We have admired the Tournament and are excited to help grow this fun local competition,” said Syd Bastos, board president and acting executive director of the Cultural Arts Center. The Tournament is also supported by the Friends of the Schoolcraft Library, the Schoolcraft Community Library and the Vicksburg District Library.

“This tournament is all about flexing the writing muscle and getting published. I’m encouraging those who may be on the fence about this to be bold and enter,” Christiansen said. The tournament is unique in that entries are judged by individuals who use their own criteria for judging. No meetings! There is a small entry fee, but entrants are encouraged to think of this as an investment in themselves and the community. Published authors are allowed to enter this tournament, but submissions must be unpublished. Entries may be submitted through Friday, March 29.

Last year there was a tie for Grand Prize winner: Sonya Sutherland of Vicksburg in Adult Fiction for her stunning piece titled, Living In The Moment and Amelia Brown of Schoolcraft for her beautiful graphic novel titled, Can You Hear Me?

“All the scoring was tight last year,” Christiansen pointed out. “Marilyn Jones of Schoolcraft and Barbara Vortman of Portage were neck and neck until the final point went to Vortman, and she garnered First Prize in Super Senior Fiction.” Marilyn Jones actually inspired the creation of the Super Senior Division, which is for those 70 and over. “I don’t have anything in common with a 50-year-old!” Jones exclaimed. Last year Christiansen created a “Director’s Award” that went to Jenna Pickern of Schoolcraft for her self-publishing endeavors.

There’s a new category this year—script/play, which will not have an age division, since new categories tend to not have many entries. Last year’s graphic novel took Grand Prize and was created by teen Amelia Brown. “Amelia was the only entry in the Graphic Novel category, but it was so good!”

Categories judged in age divisions are Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry. There are five divisions, Junior (up to 6th grade), Teen (7th through 12th grade), Adult (Out of High School to 49), Senior (50 to 69), and Super Senior (70 and above). “The Junior Non-Fiction category hasn’t had any entries yet,” she said, “so if there are any future journalists or humanitarians out there, we’d like to hear from you.”

Entries will be judged during the month of April. Winners will be notified in early May, and there will be an awards ceremony. Authors will be published in Small Town Anthology V and each will receive a copy of the book. A book signing will be held in September. “Last year’s books were delayed because of the hurricane, and we had to postpone the book signing for a week,” Christiansen said.

Further details about the Tournament and how to enter can be found at or at the Schoolcraft Community and Vicksburg District Library.

Arts Exploration Lab coming to Vicksburg

art camp 1Two years ago, Vicksburg High students Laynie Leach and Vic Simmons participated in a strategic planning committee for the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (VCAC). They told committee members that teens wanted more opportunities to learn, create and experience art in the Vicksburg area.

Participants of the Arts in the Burg Summer Day Camp that had “aged out” of a program for 8-12-year-old students also wanted an arts camp for teens. “They asked. We listened,” said Syd Bastos, board president and acting executive director of the Arts Center. The result is approaching quickly.

“We are starting with the creation of the Arts Exploration Lab for Teens,” Bastos said. “The one-day Arts Exploration Lab will be an opportunity for teens to get a taste of different types of art. We will use feedback from the Arts Exploration Lab to create year-long programming. It will cater to the needs and wants of teens in our community through afterschool classes, a summer-long arts camp for teens and intensive multi-week workshops.”

A handful of student volunteers who are passionately invested in the arts have begun planning the Arts Exploration Lab through a series of brainstorming sessions held at the Vicksburg Community Center. These students have been actively involved in the design of the Arts Exploration Lab, including prioritizing what art subjects to include, recommending instructors and determining the best way to collect feedback from participants. They are also identifying potential problems for the day-long lab along with solutions to ensure that participants and instructors have a great experience.

“Not only will students’ voices be represented by these student volunteers in creating this lab, they are developing and practicing their leadership and problem-solving skills,” explained Jake Munson, chair of the program committee and a VCAC board member. Jake is also actively involved at Vicksburg High School as a seminar teacher and super volunteer for the Vicksburg Band program.

The Arts Exploration Lab is Thursday, March 28 at the Community Center from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The event is free and students 13-19 from area schools and home-schooled are welcome to attend. “We ask that students come prepared to have lots of fun, try new things, be open-minded, and let their creativity loose,” said Munson.

For questions, contact Syd Bastos at, or call 269-501-1347.

Winners Announced for the Battle of the Books

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The Star Readers from Sunset Lake Elementary are presented with their first-place trophy by Schoolcraft Library director Faye VanRavenswaay. They include Matthew Peters, captain; Isaac Sandelin, captain; Oliver Hammond, Caiden Caswell, Quincy Schwartz, Ian Triemstra. Their coaches were Brenda Peters and Connie Sandelin.

By Sue Moore

A team of 4th graders from Sunset Elementary school walked away the winners at the Grand Battle of the Books, sponsored in late February by the Schoolcraft District Library. It’s a voluntary reading competition that requires remembering all sorts of arcane facts about each book they are assigned to read.

The Star Readers, a team of all boys, were leading the other three teams right from the beginning of the contest with an almost perfect score. They came up short on only two of 21 questions for the contest. Their total score of 99 points was 10 points better than the runner up team of Remembering Marvel from Schoolcraft.

A total of 29 teams with 179 children entered from Schoolcraft and Vicksburg elementary buildings. Students from 4th through 6th grade are eligible to form teams of five to seven kids, with six preferred. They appoint captains and have one or two coaches to help with suggestions on reading and remembering the details in the 12 required reading books.

In the competition, moderator Jenny Taylor asked detailed questions about the books from a predetermined reading list. Team members must provide the correct answer to the question and the book’s author to score points. They start reading in early November, then figure out the name of their team and the T-shirt designs they’ll wear for the contest.

The tension is palpable on the stage when the last four teams standing for the Grand Battle take the stage. There is a lot of energy coming from the team members every minute of the hour-long contest. Scores are flashed up on the big Schoolcraft Performing Arts Center screen for the large audience to watch during the Q&A session.

The winning Star Readers team was comprised of Matthew Peters, captain; Isaac Sandelin, captain; Oliver Hammond, Caiden Caswell, Quincy Schwartz and Ian Triemstra. Their two coaches were Brenda Peters and Connie Sandelin. The Book Einsteins from Vicksburg were third and the Roaring Readers from Schoolcraft came in fourth.

Faye VanRavenswaay the Schoolcraft library director is the coordinator for the Battle. She and Taylor a third grade teacher at Sunset School both serve as judges. The also work together to choose the books each year. Also, it was the 22nd year for Thom and Kris DeWolf volunteering at the scoring table.

South African Farm Workers in Local Fields

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This tractor is spraying fertilizer on an area farm property that H2A workers can operate.

By Linda Lane

As the agricultural season in the southwest Michigan area ramps up, farmers hope to welcome back skilled South African workers into the fields for a second season. The workers obtain H2A visas which allow them to work for up to 10 months here. This year the workers will earn $13.54 per hour plus housing and transportation.

The farm positions have been posted in the U.S. for Americans to apply for through government employment websites, as required by law. No one has applied for the positions.

“We just can’t find workers who are willing to do these jobs,” Jennifer Gottschalk said. “We can’t find dependable labor anymore; people who are willing to work hard. That’s our problem. People don’t want to do these jobs because of the long hours we work in the planting and harvesting seasons.” Gottschalk operates a local family farm and helps manage another larger operation with another owner.

Farm workers’ hours can range depending on what is happening on the farm. Workers are guaranteed a minimum of 35 hours per week, but during the “crazy busy season” hours can be as many as 100 hours a week. With no family distractions, the South Africans are simply here to work and don’t mind the long hours, she said.

Bringing in foreign workers to perform the jobs is no easy task. “If a U.S. citizen applies for the job, we are required to hire them over the foreigner. There are a whole lot of hurdles to jump and roadblocks to navigate to get the South Africans hired. There are lots of federal rules and regulations that we’ve got to meet,” Gottschalk said. “For instance, the federal government sets the pay rate with a minimum number of weekly hours, requires us to provide full-furnished housing and transportation to the job-site, and weekly trips to the grocery store, bank, and post office.”

The South Africans who worked for them last year came with some skills in how to operate large farm equipment, irrigation experience and some knowledge of the GPS software that is utilized. Although the workers had thick accents, all spoke English, minimizing the issue of a language barrier. For their part, the South Africans come over to work hard in order to send money home in an urgent effort to help their South African farms.

A factsheet outlining statistics on farm attacks and murders in South Africa, published and updated regularly by, clearly illustrates the alarming numbers of violent attacks and murders of those living and working on farms and smallholdings for more than the past 20 years. Between 2001-2018, annual violent attacks on farm workers and owners range from 446 to 1,069 and annual murders range from 49 to 140 as reported by the South African police.

Last year Gottschalk obtained a total of six H2A visas to employ the South Africans and they’ve applied for six visas again this year. “The painstaking process to get workers here is crazy. The federal system is flawed for both the farm owners and the foreign workers. The amount of paperwork on both sides is mind-boggling. There needs to be a better process for people to come in through the borders and work,” Gottschalk said.

Due to the U.S. government shut down, the visa process has been greatly delayed this year. Although the H2A contract was supposed to begin March 1, workers won’t likely arrive until late March or early April.

Farm workers will drive large farm equipment, spray chemicals, help with irrigation, haul grain, work on equipment, plant and harvest around 10,000 acres this upcoming season.

“We have found that they’re really good people. Once we got them here, the six South African guys who came were so grateful to be here to work, they were willing to do anything and everything we asked of them. They are incredibly hard workers. They have become part of our extended families here, celebrating Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with us,” Gottschalk said. “People’s impression of immigrants coming here to work can be a little skewed. They really are good people coming to work in our country. If we all want to keep eating cheap food, farmers need the labor to help produce it.”

Gottschalk is very aware of the controversy about migrant workers. “These young men come through a legal process set up by the United States Government to work here and send money home to their family farms in most cases.”

DutchBoys Take Vicksburg by Storm

By Sue Moore

The name DutchBoys doesn’t come close to describing what this new business in Vicksburg sells. Add the words body work, paint, muscle car restorations, pro-touring, street rods, engine bay detailing and it’s possible to get the flavor of what they are producing.

DutchBoys Hotrods, the father-son team of Joe and Paul Van Nus, moved into the old Eimo manufacturing building on W. Prairie in May and June of 2018. Jamie Clark of Clark Logic had purchased it earlier from Eimo after that company built a new plant next door in the Leja Industrial Park. Clark Logic utilized the building for storage at first until the DutchBoys looked for space to move out of a garage in Comstock, although Joe VanNus was from Vicksburg and son Paul was living in Schoolcraft.

“We have quadrupled our space with this move,” said Paul VanNus. “It’s been a huge time saver as I spent too much of my day just moving cars around to get to where we could work on them. Jamie Clark has gone above and beyond for us. He has given us this opportunity to succeed. Not just us, but lots of other people too.”

Besides leasing the space to the DutchBoys, Clark extended the footprint of the building with a huge glassed-in showroom that displays the beautiful finished cars that have already been purchased. Most of the DutchBoys business comes not from retail., but from wealthy people who can afford the cost of a renovation job that could run between $100,000 to $250,000.

Their work is strictly hourly, with time and materials included. “The sky is the limit for some people but If someone has a budget in mind we can build a car around it. We can make an old car ride and handle like a new car with all of the amenities,” VanNus explained. “For instance, Clark’s dad’s car sits in the forefront of our new showroom with hot rod flames painted on the engine encasement. It was one of his favorite cars but not reliable. We will put a fuel injection motor in so it will run like a charm.”

They have done restorations for Dan DeVos, who is a car collector out of Grand Rapids. Another car in the showroom is owned by Brian Thure of Taylor Farms in Tennessee. “We are making some new modifications to fit his personal needs,” VanNus explained.

VanNus gets most of his business through word of mouth. He travels to shows all over the country, trailering his specialty cars to Tennessee, North Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Texas. At car shows he gets lots of newspaper coverage along with social media. The cars are a work of art, say the people who interview him.

It didn’t start out quite this way. Paul and his wife Tori, are 2009 graduates of Vicksburg High School. His dad Joe worked in the collision industry painting cars and is very good at what he turns out, according to his son. He was with Dunshee for many years. Paul knew in high school that he wanted to work on cars. “I found my niche, first as a hobby and then as a job,” he explained. His dad worked with him in the garage in Comstock as the paint guy, which he loves to do. They had one other employee. With their move here, they now have nine and counting.

Paint and body work is 70 percent of their business. The move represents a tremendous investment for a growing business. “It cost $25,000 just to move the paint booth,” he said. Paul pays attention to the front office payroll and overhead along with his wife, Tori, who is an accountant. They have lots of money invested in parts that get shipped from all over the country. “We’ve created a monster,” Paul exclaimed. “It takes a lot of money to make money. Thankfully, we are riding the waves of success. Not bad for a couple of DutchBoys.”

Maple Sugar Time is Near

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Maple syrup made in Terry Moyer’s Sugar Shack will be on sale at his open house in March.

By Sue Moore

The thought that spring is near means maple trees will start disgorging their beautiful sap for sugaring time.

What starts out as a thin stream of greyish liquid has to be boiled down for hours to convert it into maple syrup, said Terry Moyers. He makes about 250 gallons per year and demonstrates the process at his annual sugar shack gathering March 23 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 24890 Flach Road near Mendon.

His family of helpers roll out free pancakes, eggs and sausage, with last year’s maple syrup to smother them in. It’s a two-day celebration of what nature gives back in various quantities each year. “Last year we had lots of rain, so we might not have as much sugar in the crop, making the syrup a little darker. Nobody made any light syrup last year because it was such a wet summer.”

Moyers takes his guests for a walk in the woods in small groups to explain how he taps the trees all around his house during the two days. His 2018 crop is on sale but the real reason for the open house is to educate the public about Michigan maple syrup on a weekend designated by the state.

A similar event, Backyard Sugarin’, will be held at the Schoolcraft library on Saturday, March 23 with Tom Long doing the honors by tapping the maple tree in front of the library. He works as a librarian year-round and in the spring gathers sap from trees on his farm to boil down for syrup. The plan is to demonstrate the entire process, including boiling it down and providing samples to try, said Library Director Faye VanRavenswaay. Long will be demonstrating to all who want to stop by from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to experience the maple sugaring process up close while sampling freshly made syrup.

Eagle Scout Project Benefits Creative Beginnings

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Brett Manski at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor is surrounded by his parents Shari and John Manski. Photo by Kyle Heather.

By Sue Moore

Brett Manski, in the last stage of achieving his Eagle Scout status, needed to have things running smoothly. He was making sure everyone understood what needed to be done while avoiding hiccups. He wanted everyone to be happy, have a great time, but still get the job done.

He had to deal with the stress of wanting everything to be perfect while building elevated garden containers for the Lakeland church’s Creative Beginnings pre-school and day care students while trying to predict what could possibly go wrong.

Not much did go wrong on the two weeks it took to build the eight-box set of planters. His task was to oversee their planning and construction for his final Eagle Scout project. He led his team of scouts to construct the beds on wheels that can be moved to meet the needs of the students and the church.

He accomplished the project as his final project to become an Eagle Scout just a couple of months before his 18th birthday while still a junior at Vicksburg High School. It wasn’t easy to get this project complete when carrying a 3.8 GPA, playing on the varsity golf team, playing saxophone in the marching band as section leader, participating in the two high school jazz bands, the Kalamazoo Youth Jazz Orchestra, musical talent with the Kalamazoo Youth Jazz Lab Band and Jazz Sax Ensemble sponsored by the Jazz & Creative Institute in Kalamazoo.

He has participated in the Solo and Ensemble festivals representing Vicksburg High School for five years in which he has received several first-place ribbons. Brett participates in an organization at school called Aim Higher that focuses on taking the initiative to meet the needs of the community.

Besides all that, he is a lover of the outdoors, participating in rock climbing, camping, swimming and mountain biking. In addition, Manski has participated in many high adventure trips with his troop including backpacking at Pictured Rocks and the North Manitou in northern Michigan. His love of the outdoors has been passed on to younger scouts in his troop who are currently planning an adventure to Isle Royale, which Brett hopes to attend as an adult leader this summer.

“Matt Bombich, my troop leader and Duane Monroe have been a big help in finishing my requirements to become an Eagle Scout,” Manski acknowledged. “My mom also helped me along with the paperwork as I’m a bit of a procrastinator. “My dad helped me to focus on not being stressed out with the endless possibilities of what could go wrong on the construction project.”

“We did fundraising to gather the $800 that the materials cost to build the garden beds,” Manski said. “We had car washes and went door to door in the Tobey school neighborhood where I live to collect pop cans.” He got great discounts from Home Depot and Menards.

The Creative Beginnings pre-school and early childhood participants will be able to plant the garden beds and see how vegetables grow from day to day. When there is a crop to harvest, it is expected that church members will be able to help themselves on a Sunday morning. The garden beds can be moved to sunlight or shade as growing conditions demand, Manski said. There are about 30 children in the summer school classes who will benefit from this learning experience according to Cindy Palmer, who is the director at Lakeland Reformed Church’s Creative Beginnings program.

The project has extra meaning for this school. Manski is one of their alumni, having attended there since he was four years old.

Village Council Receives Angels Crossing Report

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Tom Ham, owner of the management company running Angels Crossing Golf Course awaits his turn to speak at the Vicksburg Village Council meeting. In back of him are Jim Mallery and Tracy Locey, village officials.

By Sue Moore

A thorough review of operations at Angels Crossing Golf Course was presented to the Vicksburg Village Council by Tom Ham, owner of the management company that now runs the day-to-day functions of the golf course.

He listed the challenges he has experienced during the year he has been in charge: Accounting practices were not detailed enough to gain specific information from past years. His projections are based on his one year of experience. Budgeting for 2019 revenue forecast for golf is dependent upon weather and other factors beyond his control, he said. He explained the restaurant costs and the pro shop potential revenue and the costs of maintaining the course and making structural improvements.

Some early complaints were real and largely based on conditioning of the course. They died down after changes were made, he said. Ability to take credit card payments for the beverage cart out on the course was helpful. The clubhouse has a power issue for the golf carts that has only been partially solved. A new phone system has lowered costs and made for better efficiency, he said.

The restaurant ran out of ice every day because the small refrigerator kept breaking down. “We brought in another one that was twice the size and so it’s a non-issue now. The buffet didn’t have chafing dishes so we bought some new ones because when the food looks nice it even tastes better too. Lighting in the dining room was harsh. We’ve installed decorative lights to soften the whole atmosphere.”

Capital improvements are needed, Ham said. The maintenance people have a small sprayer adequate for the greens but is used for the entire course, costing a lot more in labor to apply fertilizer. The bunkers need repair and the quality of the turf needs to be consistent, he explained.

He shared his vision for the future. “The view from the practice green is breathtaking but we are not taking advantage of it. I see having that space used for weddings on the green. Remove some of the trees and brush to achieve a view of the clubhouse from the road (W Avenue) so people know we are here. Utilize the assets we have. The nine-hole area that was never fully developed could be turned into a nice short-hole game area for practice or for golfers who don’t have time to play a full 18 holes.”

“We want to position Angels Crossing as a premier destination facility,” Village Manager Jim Mallery said. “It’s the primary asset the village has. We have the structural part in place now with employee policies defined. My pride is in making the golf course fiscally positive. The course is now profitable.

“We’ve paid the bills and can now look at options under our ownership,” Mallery added. “Our focus as a staff is 95 percent on the governmental activities of the village. We are going to rely upon Tom to make the golf course work over the next few years. It can’t be sold until 2023-24 due to the bond issue that can’t be paid off early. I’m excited about the course and cautiously optimistic about the golf business to let the numbers shake out. We do not use any tax money for operation of the golf course.”

In Other Business

Appointments were announced to seats on the Planning Commission, the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Historic Village Committee by President Bill Adams.

Kyle Mucha was named to replace Carl Keller on the Planning Commission in a key appointment: The next round of review for the Mill development is expected to take place in 2019. Jennie Holmes and Veronica Levin will round out the parks board. Julie Merrill accepted a seat on the Historic Village Committee.

Mucha, a Western Michigan University graduate, works for the City of Portage in Community Development. In his interview he hoped the village leadership had a plan to give as time and attention to smaller development projects. Other projects that might come before the Planning Commission while working on the bigger Mill project also need careful consideration.

Council members were also going to be busy serving on sub-committees for the 2019-2020 fiscal year with assignments to the Fire Authority, the Downtown Development Authority, the Library board, Sewer and Water Authority and the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study board.

Discussion centered around the new interview process that has been set in place for these appointments. Trustee Tim Frisbie asked staff to put together a chart with all the appointments and determine if the committee members were required to live in the village or could they be drawn from outside the boundaries.

The Brownfield committee which consists of the entire village council met and approved modifications to the brownfield plan to cover work at the former Bronson/Vicksburg Hospital on N. Boulevard for asbestos removal costing up to $174,875.

Budget amendments were offered as part of mid-year corrections by Mallery. This included an increase in estimated participation costs with the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority amounting to $122,000 out of a total budget of $682,000 for all participating entities.