All posts by akpressclub

Rocket Football Starts New Heads Up Program This Fall

Rocket football
By Mari Smith

Vicksburg High School stadium came to life on a Saturday evening in August with the sights and sounds of football. While summer is winding down, football safety is gearing up.

Vicksburg Rocket football announced at its inaugural event that it has aligned itself with USA Football and the organization’s “Heads Up Football” program. Josh Baird, vice-president of Vicksburg’s Rocket Football, states that this USA program, which is funded by the National Football League (NFL), emphasizes safety first for its youngest players.

This safety goal will be made easier by the generosity of the United Way and Vicksburg Rotary Club, each donating $750 to Vicksburg Rocket football. Carol Lohman of the United Way and Mike Tichvon of the Rotary Club presented their checks to Kip Young, president of Vicksburg Rocket Football. Young gratefully stated that with these donations, the organization will be able to be equipment-compliant with USA’S Heads Up Football.

Hunter Van varsity quarterback shows Cody Roy how to throw.
Hunter Van varsity quarterback shows Cody Roy how to throw.
More than 580,000 players and 83,000 coaches nationwide have joined this program, which is also endorsed by organizations including the PAC 10 and Big 10. Through its training and certification, it teaches coaches their Heads Up Tackling method in a step-by-step directive that uses five basic skills to teach and reinforce the mechanics of tackling while reducing helmet contact.

It also teaches concussion awareness and what to do if one occurs. In support of this, players, parents and fans will notice the program’s banners reminding “When in doubt sit them out.”

This effort will be great early support of Vicksburg High School, who has, according to Coach Tom Marchese, been at the forefront of concussion monitoring. All high school players receive base-line impact testing before their freshman and junior years, as well as all new players. The motto to avoid head-on impact at the high school level is “Hit what you see. See what you hit.”

Young describes the USA Heads Up tackle method as staying low and coming up on the tackle, keeping the child’s head out of the impact. The five steps to accomplish this are identified as “Breakdown, Buzz, Hit, Shoot and Rip.” The anticipated three teams of 8/9 year olds and three teams of 10/11 year olds will be taught this new tackle method from the outset. Brenden Hoffman, a third grade student at Sunset Lake Elementary, knows that the helmets are worn to protect players’ heads and felt that a concussion was, “A really bad headache.” Indian Lake third graders Zeke Bombich and Luke Bainter are aware you can get a concussion “ . . . when you hit your head really hard.”

This knowledge by the young participants will help the coaches in implementing the new tackle method.

Among the different stations that the players participated in on Saturday was a station that demonstrated the USA’s tackle fundamentals.

Rick Holmes, Vicksburg Rocket Football’s Player Safety coach, summed it up by saying that Heads Up Tackle, “ . . . means these boys are going to walk off the field instead of being carried off.”

The United Way and Rotary Club donations will go a long way toward this goal of protecting young Vicksburg football players

2013 Vicksburg Rocket Football Schedule

Coach Klinger 8/9
Week 1 September 7 @Three Rivers A 12:00pm
Week 2 September 14 Mattawan B 10:30am
Week 3 September 21 @Kazoo Christian A 1:30pm
Week 4 September 28 @Allegan 11:00am
Week 5 October 5 Galesburg Augusta 2:00pm
Week 6 October 12 Three Rivers B 9:00am

Coach Minnis 8/9
Week 1 September 7 @Three Rivers C 3:00pm
Week 2 September 14 Mattawan D 1:30pm
Week 3 September 21 @Delton 12:00pm
Week 4 September 28 Paw Paw B 12:00pm
Week 5 October 5 @Plainwell B 1:30pm
Week 6 October 12 Three Rivers A 12:00pm

Coach Smith 8/9
Week 1 September 7 @Three Rivers B 1:30pm
Week 2 September 14 Mattawan C 12:00pm
Week 3 September 21 @Kazoo Christian B 3:00pm
Week 4 September 28 Paw Paw A 10:30am
Week 5 October 5 @Plainwell A 3:00pm
Week 6 October 12 Three Rivers C 10:30am

Coach Baird 10/11
Week 1 September 7 Three Rivers B 10:30am
Week 2 September 14 @Mattawan A 10:30am
Week 3 September 21 Plainwell A 9:00am
Week 4 September 28 Hackett B 9:00am
Week 5 October 5 Paw Paw B 6:30pm
Week 6 October 12 @Parchment B 3:00pm

Coach Conklin 10/11
Week 1 September 7 Three Rivers C 12:00pm
Week 2 September 14 @Mattawan B 12:00pm
Week 3 September 21 Plainwell B 10:30am
Week 4 September 28 @Gull Lake B 12:00pm
Week 5 October 5 Allegan B 8:00pm
Week 6 October 12 Kazoo Christian A 1:30pm

Coach Thomas 10/11
Week 1 September 7 @Galesburg C 1:30pm
Week 2 September 14 @Mattawan C 1:30pm
Week 3 September 21 Paw Paw* 12:00pm
Week 4 September 28 @Gull Lake C 1:30pm
Week 5 October 5 Hackett A 3:30pm
Week 6 October 12 Kazoo Christian B 3:00pm
*Possible Waldo Stadium Game

Coach Verner 10/11
Week 1 September 7 Three Rivers A 9:00am

High school mascot history: Why a Bulldog? Why an Eagle?

By Mary Ruple

In ancient times, many organizations, tribes, and communities selected a mascot in order to bring them luck and serve as a symbol of who they were and what they stood for.

During the 1800s when many schools and universities were founded, the administrators carried on this tradition. Today, mascots are most commonly associated with high school and college sports teams.

However, in many cases, mascots also serve as a symbol of an entire school district or academic institution. Vicksburg High School and Schoolcraft High School are no exception to this rule. So why exactly did these schools select their respective mascots. Why did Vicksburg High School choose a bulldog as their mascot? Why did Schoolcraft High School choose and eagle as their mascot?

Upon researching these questions, it was concluded that there is no clear answer. This is mostly because the answer to these questions predates anyone’s recollection in the communities.

When the schools were founded decades ago, one of the first tasks assigned to the school boards were to select a school mascot. Like all high schools, colleges, and universities that have been founded, it can be assumed that Vicksburg High School and Schoolcraft High School selected a mascot for three reasons: to bring the academic institution and sports teams good luck, to serve as a symbol of what their academic institutions that sports teams represent, and to fit into mainstream society. Simply, these school districts chose a mascot because every other school district in the area, state, and country were doing it.

This brings us back to the two questions originally posed. Why a bulldog? Why an eagle?

It can be argued that both of these schools boards wanted to select a mascot that was unique to the qualities, personalities, and goals of their academic institution and sports teams.

It is very possible that Vicksburg High School selected the bulldog as a mascot because it represented loyalty, strength, intelligence, stability, and power.

It is very possible that Schoolcraft High School selected the eagle as a mascot because it represents strength, courage, wisdom, agility, and spirituality.

Although we can never be sure exactly why these mascots were selected, it is safe to say that they were selected with care and good reason when both of the school districts were founded.

Bulldogs Take Their Lumps in First Game of the Season

By Sue Moore

“The score looks worse than the actual game,” Coach Tom Marchese said after a Vicksburg Bulldog football loss to Dowagiac, 32-14 Thursday night. He told the team afterwards that “It’s never as bad as it is and never as good as it is. We missed some opportunities and we have work to do before facing Edwardsburg on Sept. 6 at home.

“The first game of the season is always important to get the kinks worked out. The most improvement comes from game one to game two, when players get up to speed. Most if not all the breakdowns are correctable,” Marchese said.

There were six turnovers by the Bulldogs, three picks and three fumbles that gave the Chieftains twenty points that worked against Vicksburg which Marchese focused on in reviewing the game. “Our defense played well, stopping Dowagiac twice in the red zone. On offense, we were able to create some holes as running back Nick Wallace picked up 150 yards for the night,” he noted.

“You always fear too many penalties, special team breakdowns and missqueues in an opening game and we had plenty of them. We held them until the end of the third quarter when the score was 20-14 but the mistakes were telling in the fourth,” he said.

“Our goal for the team is to continually get to the playoffs and not have it be an aberration,” Marchese said. In his five seasons in Vicksburg as coach, the team has been in the playoffs twice. “We will benefit from a new video system that the conference has initiated this year. We will download game film on computer, be able to analyze and breakdown by plays, all the action of our next opponent. Previously coaches had to meet somewhere and exchange video of the previous game. Now we have it the next day and can watch, even on a smart phone,” he explained.

Quarterback Dalton Ketelaar
Quarterback Dalton Ketelaar
There were no injuries except some bumps and bruises that Doctor Willmeng will see too when he makes his usual Monday rounds, checking on the players before he goes off to his real job as a specialist in sports medicine at Bronson Orthopedics, the coach reported. He is grateful for the care that Doc Willmeng gives the boys and also for the trainers that are grad students in Western Michigan University’s medical program.

The second game of the season pits Vicksburg against Edwardsburg, another tough team from the West Division of the Wolverine Conference.

The annual community Tailgate celebration will take place before this home game from 4:30 to 6:30 pm on the area just north of the stadium. The entire community is encouraged to attend. There will be free hot dogs and the chance to visit with vendors who support the school system, according to Tonya Nash, coordinator for the event for the Community Education Department and then of course, take in the football game and the band’s special performance

Council Names Acting Village Manager for Vicksburg

Ken Schippers
Ken Schippers

Council Names Acting Village Manager for Vicksburg Ken Schippers was named “acting village manager” for Vicksburg at the August Council meeting. “I won’t let you down,” he commented after the 7-0 vote was taken. He began his duties immediately with the full faith of the members behind him.

Council member Ron Smith walked the listeners through a slide show on the current designated duties of the village manager and the perceived need to change them to fit the Council’s wish to tighten the responsibilities and reporting procedures. He found that the ordinance as currently written, gives the village manager “insular authority” over village affairs and in the absence of a clerk or treasurer, the manager assumes all of their responsibilities.

The village now has an appointed clerk, Tracy Locey and Richard Dykstra, acting treasurer. Smith’s recommendations for change included the following items:

1. Make unisex references to the village staff in the ordinances to his/her, he/she. etc.

2. Amend village manager authority section to provide more direct oversight

3. Define mechanism by which the village manager is responsible to the council for efficient administration of all departments of the village

4. Give the clerk and treasurer a greater voice in reporting village finances to the council

5. Allow for department heads to manage their budgets

6. Allow for department heads to continue reporting at village council meetings

7. Appoint an acting village manager with limited authority until we sort out the above issues

Thus the appointment of Schippers, the long-time head of the Department of Public Works was affirmed.

accro-sealAlso, a 12-year tax abatement for Kal-Plas, an Accro-Seal company in Vicksburg was given on their addition costing $250,000 to their manufacturing plant. A six-year exemption on personal property was approved with an expectation of eight new jobs being added.

South County Community Services was given the go-ahead to create a parking space on Prairie Street for the Metro van to load and unload between the weekday hours of 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm on Wednesdays. A noise complaint was received from a citizen about the Chamber of Commerce Block party in August.

This was refuted by Tanya DeLong, owner of Tanya’s Totes. She said that decibel levels were measured and thought to be acceptable from up close to one block away. The Council didn’t take any action but felt they could work with the Chamber to come up with some unique solutions.

You Can Trust the Mechanics at Lovell Auto Service in Schoolcraft

Margaret Landrum, Tim Landrum, Dan Leering and Randy Smith in the Lovell Auto shop
Margaret Landrum, Tim Landrum, Dan Leering and Randy Smith in the Lovell Auto shop

By Sue Moore

Trust is what Lovell Auto Service has built over the years, according to Tim Landrum, brother of Tom who had previously owned and operated the business with his wife, Margaret. Tom died of cancer in 2012, and now Tim has committed to joining the family business.

Margaret Landrum, Tom’s wife, remains the owner and says her role is to see that the bills get paid. “I don’t work on cars, I balance the books”, the CPA and accounting software consultant explains.

“There is a lot of loyalty to the family business from our customers,” Tim says as he reflects on his first few weeks on the job. He retired from being a mechanic for the Kalamazoo County Road Commission in July, and is now serving the public rather than a private fleet. “It’s been a good transition; my nephew, Dan Levering, the general manager, and mechanic, Randy Smith, are helping me learn the business.”

It all started in founder John Landrum’s garage on Lovell Street in Schoolcraft in 1978. John was a truck driver by trade and did his own truck repairs. Shortly thereafter, sons Charlie and Tom joined the business. Tom and Margaret moved the business to 118 South 14th Street in 2004, due to growth and the need to expand.

Tim, who says he was born a mechanic, was married and had a baby on the way, so he chose the steady job at the Road Commission, where he worked 36 years. He did most of the service calls for road breakdowns of equipment because he is a jack of all trades and can fix just about anything, he says. He has certification as a master automotive mechanic and master heavy truck mechanic.

“Our goal is to diversify. If you can break it, we can fix it!” Landrum declares. “Before, we were all automotive; now it is our desire to fix whatever we can fit in the door, including anything from yard & garden equipment to big trucks.”

Landrum states, “I have a love/hate relationship with computers in cars- they are so temperamental. Today’s automobiles are to a great degree, computers on wheels. We have hightech diagnostic equipment and a combined 98 years of mechanical experience to help us determine the problem(s) and get people back on the road as quickly as possible.

Building trust and good relationships with our customers and community is the most important thing to the staff here at Lovell Auto Service. When you leave here satisfied, we have done our job,” Landrum believes.

Otto Kaak Founder and Guiding Light for the Lions Club Summer Festival

By Sue Moore

The Vicksburg Lions Club was looking around for a better fundraiser, something like a community picnic in 1973 when one of its members, Otto Kaak, suggested what he knew so well in his native Germany, a Biergarten.

That seemed to hit a cord with the club and oh, so incidentally, son Howard was in the club to help get the event, soon to be called Otto’s B&B, organized. “We started out in the old Helms building (where Frederick Construction is now located) by opening up the big garage overhead doors, setting up tables outside and cooking brats prepared by the Vicksburg Locker Plant,” the young Kaak recalled.

“We found a beer distributor that was in awe of how much beer we sold,” remembered Lions club member Roland Peach, and “the party was on!” It was certainly a community event and it got bigger and bigger each year, finally we needed to move it to a bigger place so we bought a former slaughter house out on W Ave., Peach said. In fact, Howard Kaak was the president that year and remembered signing the paperwork to buy the building to use for the B & B in 1975.

A parade became a part of the festivities in the ‘70s, so that people would come downtown and then move on out to the new location. The building tended to eat into the profits, for which the club donated back to the community so they started thinking about moving back into the village to be more visible. A location on the north side of what is now the Family Fare market was rebuilt expressly for the B & B with Jack Fryling and his crew donating a lot of their labor to get it in working order.

Sometime in the ‘90s the club again sought a better location and found what is now the Historic Village to be just right. A cement floor was soon necessitated for dancing, so an investment of $7,000, was made to build a 40’ x 80’ base for the large tents that were rented each year.

In 2007, the event was required to move again when the village installed a new lift station adjacent to the site and land was found to pitch the tents at the new recreation park off of Sprinkle Road that the village owned. It was a great expansive area but as the years went by, people forgot we were there, claimed Doug Stafinski, who by that time had become chairman of the event. Others who have served as chair to the B & B include Wayne Smith, Greg Russell and Roland Peach.

A new pavilion was suggested by then Village President Dan Pryson for the Historic Village. He saw that the Farmers’ Market also needed a permanent home and thought the two could work together with the Historical Society to build a structure to suit all three entities. Thus, the club moved back to 300 N. Richardson Street in 2012 as an experiment to see if the site would be more attractive to the community. Finally, in 2013 it appears that the pavilion will be built and the Lions B & B, or Summer Festival as it has come to be called, will once more have a permanent home.

Piano Concert Launches Local Artist

By Sue Moore 

Matt Weddon, a 2013 graduate of Vicksburg High School, played a piano concert for 100-200 of his closest friends on Saturday, June 29 at the Performing Arts Center as a payback to the community for its support of his musical endeavors over the years.

This summer he is planning to study in Poland to enhance his experiences before he heads to Western Michigan University in the fall to study music performance.

He’s been performing at various community events for many years and studying with WMU professors Sylvia Roederer and Lori Sims who are world renown teachers and piano performers. “There is always more to improve upon,” according to Weddon who has always loved music. He is proficient on the saxophone, flute and upright bass and can even sing, according to his childhood buddy, Michael Pierluissi. “This concert showed how much he grew musically throughout the year.”

“He started with classical pieces and ended with jazz, covering the whole range, moving around the stage showed the whole crowd his love and passion for performing,” Pierluissi stated. For several numbers he partnered with his teaching professor, Roederer which were a real treat. “He will go far in the musical world. I’m just proud to call him my friend.”