Category Archives: Community

Destination Rural America Celebration

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A Music Fence will be constructed of farm materials for kids of all ages to play on and make music during the Destination Rural America event at the Vicksburg Historic Village.

By Sue Moore

A farm theme, with music, art, very large farm machinery and food will come to Vicksburg Aug. 25 when Destination Rural America – Daylight/Twilight takes over the Historic Village.

The event will be presented by three village organizations: the Cultural Arts Center, Farmers Market and Historical Society. The afternoon events are scheduled from 1-4 p.m.

Music? At Farm Yard Percussion Combustion, kids will learn to make music using items found on farms said Syd Bastos, executive director of the Cultural Arts Center (VCAC).

Art? Located in the red barn at the village will be a display of barn art photography by Sam Zomer, pastels by Helen Kleczynski and pencil by Kevin Pederson.

Besides the drumming, children and adults can inspect huge farm equipment, part of the way farming is done today. The Ben Fritz farm in Fulton along with other large-scale farmers in the area will be bringing, oversized corn planting machines, harvesting equipment, and big tractors for display at the Historic Village.

Kalamazoo Aerial Media will be demonstrating a drone, one of the tools used in larger farming operations today. Storytelling and musical performances will take place at the Gazebo. The Historical Society will have the buildings open in the Historic Village with docents on hand to show what rural America was like in the 1900s. Popcorn and lemonade will be available during this free event.

John Kern, board member of the Vicksburg Farmers Market, said that a greater divide stands between our rural and urban lifestyles than was there decades ago. At the same time, an energized local food economy has placed a new value on the vital role farmers play in all our lives.

Destination Rural America – Daylight/Twilight will celebrate our local farmers with a Farm-to-Table small plate dining experience at the Community Pavilion from 7 to 9 p.m.

Tickets for that event are priced at $40 each and will include a selection of wines from Lawton Ridge Winery in Oshtemo and beers from Distant Whistle Brewhouse in Vicksburg. The vendors at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market will be supplying many of the ingredients for small plate items to pair with the beverages. Items in season at the end of August will likely be peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, salad fixings, homemade bread and pie fillings.

Michael Moore, chef and co-owner of Main Street Pub will be preparing the food. With many wonderful fresh options and Michael’s talents, this dining experience should be a very special treat. To add to the twilight event, Darcy Wilkin, co-host of Grass Roots on WMUK and a member of Corn Fed Girls, will be performing.

Tickets for the dinner will be available at the Farmers’ Market on Fridays, at Distant Whistle Brewhouse, the Depot Museum on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. or at vicksburgarts.com.

Detasseling Corn is a Big Summer Job for Teenagers

By Tanner White, student intern for the South County News

Many local Vicksburg and Schoolcraft teens in search of summer work often turn to corn detasseling. The job of detasseling entire fields over long days can be daunting and monotonous. Most workers are middle school and high school students from the ages of 12 to 18. Detasselers often work up to eight hours a day in nearly any weather conditions. Corn rash, blisters, sunburns, and soreness are just a few of the unpleasant results of such hard work.

Regardless, many teens take on corn detasseling as their first job.

Corn is the most prevalent crop in Michigan, with over 300 million bushels produced annually. Fields in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties are exceptionally fit to grow corn due to the fertility of soil and to the high water tables providing easy irrigation.

What is corn detasseling? What makes hiring of local teens so crucial, and why do so many kids choose corn detasseling over other summer jobs?

Detasseling is the process of removing the tassel, a pollen-producing flower, from the tops of maize plants and placing them on the ground. This serves as a manner of controlling pollination, ensuring that pollen from one stalk doesn’t fertilize an ear of corn on a different stalk. The hybrid plants that result are more genetically similar, show stronger resistance to weather and disease and give a higher yield of corn overall. The corn produced from hybrid plants is specifically grown as seed corn, meaning it produces a desirable seed that will be replanted the following year.

The length of the detasseling season varies each year. A short season may last only two weeks, while a long season may last nearly an entire month. A season that starts very early may open around the 4th of July, and detasseling season rarely lasts long into August. The variation from season to season depends on weather, irrigation, insect activity, and a host of other factors. The longer the season, the more money a detasseler can make!

Detasselers are held to high standards to ensure a healthy corn yield each year. Most companies seek well over 99 percent of tassels removed per row. Despite these pressures, children across the state are willing to detassel for several years. Although it may be too late to find a spot on a local crew this year, those wishing to detassel should check back around April of next year. Nearly all local companies offer a per-year wage increase to encourage workers to return. The ability to earn an extra dollar per hour or more with experience keeps many coming back. Anyone seeking a contractor for employment is recommended to contact Nemire’s Detasseling (nemiresdetasseling@gmail.com) or a local detasseling crew.

Derek Shelburne Golf Pro at Highland in the Desert

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Derek Shelburne at his Professional Golfers Association event in California.

By Sue Moore

Derek Shelburne grew up on Indian Run Golf course where he lived from age five to when he graduated from Vicksburg High School (VHS). He was a championship golfer on a team that won three Wolverine Conference titles, proving that there is a future in golf if one is good enough. Now he has made a name for himself as a golf pro while working at a big-time club in Arizona.

It started when he picked up his dad’s clubs one day and began swinging them. He found he was pretty good at the game. He hung out at the Indian Run club house, spending his days there with enough money for lunch and the range until he was 16, and was then offered a job. In 2003 and 2004, he led the VHS golf team under the coaching of Rob Johnson and Jim Douglas. Johnson said Derek was “the very best of a lot of great players!” Upon graduation he went to Ferris State University to play golf and enroll in a program to get into the golf business as a professional.

Today at age 31, he just competed in an exclusive tournament in Seaside, Calif. for Professional Golf Association (PGA) golfers only. There were over 4,000 golf professionals that tried to qualify. He was one of 312 who qualified from all over the country to play in the championship.  At the tournament, Shelburne made it through the first cut after two days of play. It was down to 90 players but Shelburne unfortunately missed the second cut to 70 players after three rounds by 1 stroke. His score was par plus 8 for three rounds but he needed a par plus 7 to get past the second cut. He tied for 75th in the event out of the 312 golfers who qualified.

Angels Crossing called Shelburne to work there when the course was first opened in 2004, the year he graduated from high school. The course was based in the paper mill. Staff members would drive people over to the course to show them the first hole until the offices were built.

Shelburne’s first job out of college was at the Toledo Country Club, a top teaching club as recognized by Golf Digest. But it was only good for six months of the year, so he would drive the 2,000 miles to Arizona to work in the winter until the year-round job opened up at Highlands.

Now he is the assistant pro at Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, Arizona, hoping someday to become a head pro where he can run his own operation and still play in PGA sanctioned events.

His time at Highlands is devoted to customer service, planning golfing events and overseeing operations. Desert Highlands is a Jack Nicklaus-designed venue with highly manicured fairways and greens. The rough is transitional area with desert on all sides. Then the course reaches out to true desert with critters and cactus, he said. It looks tight but it is very playable, Shelburne said. It’s a challenging course and plays differently every day. It’s a members’ only course for those with a house or piece of land adjoining it. The one-time fee is $75,000 tacked on to the home sale, with an annual charge of $26,000 and monthly dues assessed for fees and security.

Shelburne and his wife Juanita live in north Phoenix with their two children, Devereaux, 3, and Deklan, 3 months. His grandfather lives there in the winter and his parents Rusty and Laurie Shelburne may be looking to settle nearby once they retire, he said.

Jim Halladay, Lead Singer in HairMania

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Lloyd Wallace on the left and Jim Halladay on the right, entertain the several thousand people who attended the Taste of Vicksburg in July.

By Sue Moore

A crowd of faithful admirers surrounded Jim Halladay and the band HairMania as they headlined the Taste of Vicksburg in July. He announced that he was a “Vicksburg kid and there’s my mother in the front row. I wouldn’t be here without her.” He grew up here near Indian Lake, graduating in 1988 from Vicksburg High School and Western Michigan University a decade later.

The band is well-known for its 80s “hair metal” sound throughout southwest Michigan. It plays big gigs at the Leelanau Sands Casino, Rib Fest in Kalamazoo and the South Haven Blueberry Festival, to name just a few. The four-piece band has been together since 2012, gaining lots of street cred with its flamboyant style, easy listening music and showmanship.

It wasn’t always that way. Halladay, who sings lead in the band, has a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry from WMU. He didn’t take music courses in high school but did receive a set of drums from his dad, Lee, when he was about 13. His older brother, Doug, played the guitar, so they jammed from time to time in his parents’ basement. For the last 11 years, Halladay has been working for AT&T as a telecom specialist. He drives to Lansing each weekday to work in the company’s central office across from the State Capitol.

On weekends, he dons leather apparel and joins with his fellow band members, often with his wife, Chris, and his mother, Susan, in the admiring audience. To characterize the band’s followers as groupies might be a bit much, but they do evidence the “mania” in the name with promo T-shirts, their own photographer/publicist and plenty of good songs.

Halladay has been playing in bands since early 2000. He met up with Paxton Olney, a bass guitarist at a Detroit concert and soon found out he lived at Long Lake in Portage and works at the Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek by day. The band needed a lead guitar player. It found Lloyd Wallace, a welder by trade. Their drummer, Terry Lewis, is new to the group as of 2018 and from Grand Rapids where he drives a delivery truck.

The hair is the thing. Halladay’s hair has always been shoulder length or even longer. When he worked at Felpausch in Vicksburg while going to WMU, his hair was long even then. His dad stopped in one day and informed him, “You need to get a haircut.” “I just got one!” Jim exclaimed. “I just don’t like getting a haircut. Maybe once every six months is all I can tolerate.”

“Our music from the 80s has seen a big resurgence.” Halladay said. “Young folks like it too and start singing right along with us. It’s just fun music and somewhat timeless. The 90s music turned to grunge and was depressing. Paxton started the band in 2010 and I joined in 2012 as he needed a front man. We have an authentic look; our costuming is largely from thrift shops. I found a leather vest that is real durable but can be hot in summer weather. Fortunately, we only play our set for an hour and a half.”

The band’s future includes playing at bigger shows and festivals where the crowds are more fun than playing in bars on a Saturday night, Halladay said. They open for Lita Ford at the Rib Fest in Kalamazoo on August 3 with relatives from all over coming to watch – including his mom, Susan Halladay, his greatest admirer.

Mike Lude is 96 Years Old and Still Going Strong!

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Steve Holton on the left brought Mike Lude to Vicksburg to meet old friends and tell tales about their years as athletic directors in major universities across the United States.

By Sue Moore

Milo (Mike) Lude left Vicksburg after graduation from high school in 1940 for Hillsdale College to play football and maybe amount to something, he said. The person who urged him to try for college was his high school coach and mentor, Clayton (Whitey) Linton. He leveled with Lude: You are not big enough, not fast enough and you are not good enough.

Lude had spent his growing up years on a farm near Fulton with no running water, no central heat, no plumbing and kerosene lanterns for light until 1935 when rural electrification came along. Now at age 96, he has lived all over the nation as an assistant football coach, a head coach, an athletic director and consultant.

He didn’t start out with those kinds of goals. He attended a one-room school near Fulton until high school. He moved into Vicksburg to live with his grandparents five days of the week and then home on weekends to help milk cows and plow 260 acres of hills and stones, all with horses, on the weekends. He thought every boy wore bib overalls, he recalled. His dad wanted him to play football and it turns out, he was pretty good at it as a 179 lb. lineman. Whitey had just graduated from Hillsdale College and advised Lude to go there. “I owe my career and my life to Linton,” Lude said.

The Marine Corps came calling before Lude could finish college. Upon his return after the war, Lude went back to Hillsdale. He was getting marginal grades in his early years at Hillsdale when his history prof interceded: “you are in trouble academically,” he told Lude. “I’m going to help by tutoring you.”

He majored in biology because it was an easy class for him his freshman year. “At Vicksburg, I just got by with a good attitude and my smile. I was in Mabel Hawkins’ drama classes for four years because she liked me,” Lude said with a chuckle as he acknowledged that “other people can do a lot more for you than you can for yourself all along the way.”

Lude’s greatest accomplishment, he believes, was hiring Don James to coach football at Kent State and then at the University of Washington (UW) – he served as athletic director at each school. With James at UW as head coach, they went to the Rose Bowl in 1978 and beat the University of Michigan 27-20. Lude was named National Athletic Director of the Year in 1988. “My strong suit was probably selling my ideas with enthusiasm. After that first big win it was like the launching pad that rocketed UW into outer space. We were able to put an upper deck on the north side of the football stadium. Without that, the stands looked like a one-winged seagull,” Lude said.

Three more Rose Bowl appearances and 13 total bowl appearances ensued under the James and Lude era from 1977 to 1990. Lude was forced to retire by University’s president. James lasted one more year and quit when one of his athletes was accused of getting paid for summer work.

Lude soon was hired as the athletic director at Auburn University for two years where he hired Terry Bowden as the head coach. He retired from there to take private consulting jobs and settle in Tucson, Arizona where he played a lot of golf and found time for his wife Rena and daughters Cynthia, Janann and Jill.

Lude had a five-year run as athletic director at Kent State just after the National Guard shooting on campus from 1970 to 1775 before the 18 years at UW. This is where he first recruited Don James to head the football program. It was James who then recommended his old boss for the AD position at Washington. Their friendship lasted for their 20 years together and after that until James passed away in 2013. During that time, James would tell his staff “not to mess around with the guy in the corner office because he and I will take care of things.” When Lude went to UW, the athletic program was $400,000 in debt. When he left the program, it had an $18 million surplus. “The secret is I tried to get everything I could for my coaches to be successful. The job of an AD today is asset acquisitions,” Lude said. “The salaries coaches and ADs are getting today are immoral.”

Not everything Lude touched turned out perfectly. His stint at Colorado State University as the head football coach from 1962-1969 only saw one winning season. Previous to that he had been the assistant football coach at the University of Delaware and before that at the University of Maine.

During Lude’s many years of moving around the country, he met Steve Holton, now living in Vicksburg, who was with the University of Houston. Steve along with Perk Weisenburger marketed the moniker “Phi Slama Jama” for the school’s basketball team. Houston went to the NCAA Final Four tournament in 1982/83/84. Holton’s wife is the former Judi Pacukewicz of Vicksburg. They too moved about, from Houston, to Cal State Long Beach to the University of Northern Arizona where Holton was the athletic director and brought in Lude as a consultant. Upon Holton’s retirement from the University of California at Berkeley he and Judi moved to Barton Lake where her parents lived. Keeping in touch with Lude throughout the years, Steve engineered a reunion for Lude. Several of Lude’s athletic director friends, including Perk Weisenburger, who is now AD at Ferris State, gathered over the 4th of July week in Vicksburg.

Lude co-authored a book, “Walking the Line” about his life in sports. It has 85 testimonials in it from guys and gals who helped him or whom he helped along the way. The introduction was written by sports broadcaster Keith Jackson 10 years ago.

Vicksburg Girl Scouts Tour Ireland

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Standing from left to right: Aubrey Richardson, Mindy Reno (behind); Kalin Goodwin; Leeanna Wagner, Ady Reno (behind); Windee Wagner; Kristin Woosley (behind); Katelyn Woosley (behind); Kimberly Richardson.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Girl Scout Troop just returned from a nine-day trip to Ireland. The scouts saved and planned for five years and worked hard to make this trip happen, said Windee Wagner, the troop’s co-leader with Penny Gettle, who was unable to go along. Five scouts and four moms went. The girls will be seniors this fall at Vicksburg High School.

They were amazed at how young our country is when they visited pre-historic sites, Wagner commented. They did the typical tourist things but saw how much history there is in the bigger world they traveled in. Their research included the money exchange and conversion fees. It was the first airplane flight for most of them and going through customs was a new experience as well.

They are all working to achieve their Gold Award, the equivalent of an Eagle Scout award for boys. The girls have until they turn 18 to finish a special project that is tied to the award. Their fundraising experience is a big part of the learning curve for the troop members. “We tried whatever we thought could earn money. Some were successful and some were not,” Wagner said.

Most of the girls earned enough money to pay for half of the trip costs through the fundraising experience. The rest they had to contribute from their own finances. They are all heavily involved in extra-curricular activities in school as well, Wagner pointed out. One girl plays soccer, three are in choir and three are in band. Two of the troop members were unable to go on the trip.

They researched the country they wanted to visit, narrowing down the choices to France or Ireland with the parents getting one vote apiece. Ireland won on a split vote. As it turned out, Ireland was having a heat wave and it was very dry in the cities and countryside. “It turned out that the girls didn’t use their phones as much as when they are home, using them mostly to take pictures,” Wagner said.

Charlie Glaes Recognized by Vicksburg Rotary Club

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Charlie and Janet Glaes.

By Sue Moore

Charlie Glaes was recognized by the Vicksburg Rotary Club for his long dedication and work with the Rotary Showboat. He started years ago, singing in the chorus, being part of great skits and a very popular featured soloist. Also, he was touted for his activities working with the club in many roles dealing with kids.

He was also recognized for his longtime commitment to the community as an education leader, dedicating his career to Vicksburg Schools from suspension room supervisor, elementary principal, middle school principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum to the last 14 years as superintendent. “It wasn’t a matter of performing his job, he gave it 120% and never lost sight of what was good for kids,” said Skip Knowles as he presented the award to Glaes. “He was involved in many venues supporting our schools and the education of our kids.”

The Paul Harris award is highest a Rotarian can receive. It is given annually to a member who best exemplifies the ideas of Rotary, “Service Above Self,” who has given outstanding service to Rotary and the community at large. Harris was the founder of Rotary in Chicago in 1905. The service organization has a membership of 1.2 million in 33,000 clubs in 200 countries worldwide.