The many contributors to South County News

Meet the South County News reporters and photographers. Our writers cover meetings, conduct research, arrange interviews and write it all up by our monthly deadlines. They work hard to keep our communities informed. Many thanks to this talented team!

Mark Blentlinger is a Schoolcraft resident and regular contributor. Mark covers Schoolcraft sports and has been involved in Schoolcraft sports and the community since 2001. He has held various positions over the years, including president of the Schoolcraft Little League, 8th grade football coach, and firefighter for South Kalamazoo Fire Authority. He currently coaches the Schoolcraft bowling team.

Stephanie Blentlinger, who graduated from Schoolcraft High School, is a professional photographer ( and frequently contributes her work to the South County News. When she was five, she started photography with her first Polaroid camera, and she’s been hooked ever since. After the loss of her eighteen-year-old daughter in 2010, Stephanie’s hobby turned into therapy. At the encouragement of family and friends, she turned her photography skills into a business. She has been photographing high school sports for nine years, primarily for Schoolcraft Community Schools.  

Jordon Buell was born in Kalamazoo and went to Portage Northern High-School. He graduated from Western Michigan University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in film, video and media studies and a minor in Journalism. Jordon, who goes by the professional name Jazz Prince, began rapping in 2017 with his best friends, Joey Schermerhorn and Vince Cortellessa. He has a younger sister and younger brother, Jacey, 20, and Jake, 13. Jordon’s biggest goal is to be the best musician he can be, taking care of his friends and family through music. Jordon helps cover Schoolcraft sports.

Jeanne Church, a featured columnist, is a retired special education teacher whose photography hobby began in earnest five years ago with the gift of a decent camera. Several camera upgrades later, Jeanne regularly shoots the nature preserves, sanctuaries and trails in the area with a Nikon D500 camera and a Sigma 150-600 zoom lens. Follow Jeanne on her blog:

Kathy DeMott, a regular feature writer, is a certified Flourishing Life coach, writer, speaker, and part of Women’s Global Speaker Collective. After 18 years in corporate sales, she retired early to pursue her passion to encourage others to find their voice and purpose. With a diverse background working with teens, prison ministry and the homeless, she wishes to inspire others by sharing her own journey as a single mother on welfare. Now married to Yancy and residing in Vicksburg, the couple enjoy their nine grandchildren, kayaking and fishing.

Danna Downing, a regular columnist and resident of South County since 1975, is the mother of two adult sons, Matt Downing of Golden, Colo. and Jason (Kristi) Downing of Fairbanks, and the grandmother of Lily and Reilly Downing. She worked as a teacher, health educator, and director of South County Community Services. She served as a commissioner at the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, worked on the 1979 Keep Good Schools for Kids committee and was a member of the Vicksburg Foundation board. She represents South County on the Older Adults Advisory Board and the Michigan State Advisory Council on Aging.

Steve Ellis grew up in Pontiac. He moved to Kalamazoo to attend WMU, graduated and never left the area. He spent 23 years, working for the Kalamazoo Gazette, leaving 2012 to start the local Spark Magazine. While growing up, his family loved to travel and camp. Steve carried on this tradition with his two children. While still working, Steve continues to spend much of his spare time traveling all over Michigan and its surrounding states, searching for interesting and out of the ordinary destinations. Many of these adventures will be chronicled in upcoming editions of the South County News.

Marilyn Jones contributes a poem for publication each month. She is a graduate of Sturgis High School, attended Western Michigan College (now known as WMU) and is a longtime Schoolcraft resident. She retired after 31 years of service to Kalamazoo County State Bank and remains active in community organizations.

Rob Peterson is a Kalamazoo native who graduated from WMU before starting a career in real estate. He moved to Vicksburg when he married Christine, a teacher at Vicksburg Schools. Together they have three grown children. Rob covers the Village of Schoolcraft and special interest features.

Leeanne Seaver, a regular photo and feature contributor, is a published author, writer/ghostwriter, and developmental editor. After 20-plus years in broadcasting, she now writes full-time ( Leeanne’s photos are featured on numerous websites, a couple book covers, and the Nature Conservancy Calendar (2014). Currently, Seaver is writing a book for the Vicksburg Foundation that focuses on its history in the community. It will be published in spring, 2022.

Jef Rietsma has been a contributor to South County News since a happenstance meeting with Sue Moore in 2013. More recently, he has been assigned the Vicksburg village and school beats. Rietsma, a Jackson County native, lives in Vicksburg and is a teacher at Centreville Elementary School. He also covers St. Joseph County government as a freelance writer for the Sturgis Journal. Rietsma is the father of Jessie, a junior at Hope College.

Travis Smola is originally from Decatur and is a graduate of Western Michigan University. After a brief stint at a bi-weekly newspaper founded by Buffalo Bill in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, he returned to Michigan and has worked mostly as a freelance writer in the outdoor industry. He is currently a full-time staff writer for where he covers hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor adventure travel. Travis covers Schoolcraft school board meetings and Vicksburg sports for the South County News.

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