The 2019 Schoolcraft Winter Sports Teams are pictured below.
Every fall, J. Rettenmaier USA on US 131 in Schoolcraft, gathers non-perishable food items and monetary donations for the Schoolcraft Friday Pack Program. For the second consecutive year, the company invited other local Schoolcraft businesses, On Purpose Branding, Edward Jones and Dave Rice Group, to join it.
The goal is to donate more than the previous year, and the goal was met. The JRS USA team donated $3,450 and along with the other three groups donated box after box of food items.
For 10 years the Schoolcraft Friday Pack program has been providing students in need with food items placed in their lockers before school starts on Friday mornings, ensuring that they have food to eat over the weekend. Currently the program fills 45 packs, but previous years have seen as many as 70-80 packs. If you are interested in learning more about this program, call the Schoolcraft Eagle’s Nest at 269-488-5847 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All monetary and non-perishable food donations are welcome.
By Sue Moore
Some of the blessings of Christmas can last all year long, according to Vicksburg’s Virginia Shaw. She leads a group of volunteers who mentor 18 developmentally disabled people. Each year they take their charges, the Wednesday Winners, to shop for presents at the Dollar General in Vicksburg. In addition ladies from the Fulton Christian Church each contribute $30 to buy a present for the Winners who come from local families and group homes in the south county area.
They can select any items in the store that adds up to $10 total in their shopping basket. The outing is highly anticipated by the group which usually meets once a week at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church. The 10 volunteers make and serve lunch, take the Winners on field trips, have programs from local people, plan exercises for every meeting, dance, play games, do adult coloring and socialize. “It doesn’t take much work because we all contribute and work with members. A very enjoyable time is usually had by all,” said Shaw.
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.
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.
By 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.