Schoolcraft Community Library Fall programs

For Kids

Preschool Story Hour – Tuesday Oct. 26, Nov. 23 and Dec. 14, 11-11:30 a.m., ages 3-6 years – Join us for a fun-filled morning of stories, finger plays, movement and a take-home craft. Must be potty trained. Masks will be required for this program. Please register at 679-5959 or

Beaded Indian Corn – Grades 3-5 Take Home Craft. Registration begins Nov. 1 and pick-up is the week of Nov. 17. Register on Wandoo:

Snowman Yarn Craft – Grades 3-5 Take Home Craft. Registration begins Dec. 1 and pick up is Dec. 15. Register on Wandoo:

For the Family

Pumpkin Decorating Contest – All Ages. The library is providing pumpkins to the first 10 decorators beginning Monday Oct. 4 through Sat. Oct. 23 – or you may use your own. Paint it, dress it or carve it! Bring back your free decorated pumpkin to the Library by Monday Oct. 25 for our outdoor display. All others are welcome to bring in their masterpiece or submit a photo to Winners will receive a prize! One free pumpkin per family please. Register Oct. 4 at


Prairie Page Turners – Oct. 6, Nov. 3, Dec. 1, 2-3 p.m. Book club will meet outside in the Reading Garden in October and in the Robert Crissman Community Room in November and December. Look at our online calendar for book titles. Masking is recommended.

Watch our website for upcoming 3D print and teen programs!! Don’t forget about 3D printing, discovery kits and Hot Spots available for check out!

Schoolcraft Community Library: 330 N. Centre Street Schoolcraft, MI 49087, (269) 679-595 and

A senior moment

By Danna Downing

October is an important month for older adults and others who receive state and federal health benefits. This is the time to both initiate and make changes to current medical plans. You can do this between October 15 and December 7, 2021; any changes will take effect on January 1, 2022. If the idea of doing this is unnerving, it will be a big relief to know that there is expertise available to help close to home in Kalamazoo County.

The Kalamazoo County Area Agency on Aging IIIa (AAA) is home to the Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP—pronounced like the map in your glove compartment). It is a free service that educates, counsels and empowers Michigan’s older adults, persons living with disabilities, and their caregivers so they make informed health benefit decisions. With the passage of the Kalamazoo County Senior Millage in August of 2020, the program is poised to serve more older adults than ever. State and federal monies and resources also support the program.

At the core of the program is a team of 21 highly trained MMAP volunteers certified in Medicare and Medicaid benefits and fraud counseling. These volunteers attend monthly meetings with AAA MMAP coordinator, Miranda Pearson, LLMSW, to keep their skills up to date and to stay aligned with changes in benefit services. Counselors are not only well versed in health benefits, but are also unbiased and not connected with any insurance company or licensed to sell insurance products of any kind. Many are retired persons who usually have had experience in their careers that is of great benefit to those they serve. They are dedicated to helping others navigate benefit systems effectively.

These individuals are invaluable resource persons during the enrollment period to help older adults and their caregivers compare plans and understand current benefits to ensure they are picking a plan that meets their needs and budget. And even better, MMAP counselors can assist anytime during the year to help older adults review the Medicare summary notices they receive and understand how they interface with doctors’ and hospital bills that are received. If necessary, the MMAP counselor can assist with claims and appeals as well.

Many older adults are plagued with confusing calls about health benefits and can be targets for fraud and scams. If you have a concern like this, your MMAP counselor can be of service in helping you find peace of mind and confidence about how to handle such irritations. In addition, a MMAP counselor is very familiar with all the critical services that are offered at AAA. The agency offers many more resources to help older adults and others who need assistance with aging in place.

“Many older adults give us a call on an annual basis during open enrollment to update their health and prescriptions in the event that they need a different health benefit to meet their needs,” says Pearson, “and it is a great thing to do each fall.“ She adds that newly retired persons will want to start out working with their employer’s human resource department representatives and the follow up with MMAP if they have further questions.

South County residents are encouraged to call 269-649-2901 if they would like to work with someone who lives in South County and who is familiar with South County Community Services resources. A call to 269-373-5158 will help access any available counselor. MMAP counselors work across the county as needed. The MMAP website is located at

This October is an especially key time to communicate with legislators about your needs for home and community-based services to support aging in place. Big decisions are currently being made about budgets that affect the quality of life for older adults and their caregivers in the state and in our nation.
Stay informed on the issues and contact your local senators and representatives if necessary.


Having the right resources makes life much easier and more rewarding.

In-person library programs return to Vicksburg

Youth Librarian Stephanie Willoughby leads young patrons during her in-person Family Story Time program in late September.

Vicksburg District Library has begun adding in-person programs to its schedules. The Library has been slow to start as it watched the progress of the COVID-19 while more Kalamazoo county residents continued to get vaccinated. While keeping attendees’ health and safety in mind, especially for children who aren’t approved for vaccination, Vicksburg has gradually started advertising for traditional programming.

The first program held in-person was the Writers’ Roundtable, headed by Library Director Eric Hansen at the end of August. It was well-attended and given its success, it was left up on the Library’s Calendar of Events to begin its regular rotation every fourth Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.

“I was exceedingly glad to host the Creative Writing group again,” said Hansen. “Hosting events and meeting the community is a core part of being a librarian, and it makes our work fun and exciting.”

Stephanie Willoughby, youth services librarian, began holding in-person family story time sessions in mid-September. She worked to keep families spaced out for social distancing and highly recommended masking although it was not mandatory. In addition, she started holding another session of the popular program on Wednesdays, in addition to the traditional Mondays. Her hope is that this will offer another option for families to attend, as well as keep attendance spread out for the safety of all attendees.

“Story time lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and there is a take-home craft or activity every week,” Willoughby said. “Each family has their own designated spot with the book that is being read. Caregivers and kids can then cuddle together while I read the stories. Plus, there are shakers and scarves that are cleaned thoroughly after each program.”

Willoughby experimented with in-person programming during the summer reading program in June and July. Story times were held outside at the Pavilion in the Historical Village, allowing for open air and easy social distancing for families. The programs proved successful.

The head of reference and circulation services, Adrianne Schinkai, held her first session of the Book Club for Adults on Sept. 2. Schinkai decided to move along with the scheduling of programs, but has taken a page from Willoughby’s book by holding the sessions at different times each week. Book Club for Adults is currently being held the first Thursday of each month at 9 a.m., while a spin-off program, the Everything Book Club, is being held the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

In addition, Schinkai is heading Yarn Arts Circle, a crafting program that was gaining popularity before cancellation due to COVID-19. A morning session is being held the second Thursday of the month at 9:00 a.m. while the traditional evening session will be held the fourth Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. This allows patrons to attend without overcrowding. Schinkai hopes the new schedules will open attendance opportunities for new patrons.

“One of the biggest things our patrons are looking for right now is programming. However, we want to do this as safely as possible,” said Schinkai. “Not only is there the health and safety of our patrons, of course, but the health and safety of our library’s staff as well. We haven’t escaped unscratched by COVID. We hope patrons will keep this in mind when they return to the Library.”

The regular lineup of in-person programming starts in October. The Library advises that events will be socially distanced as much as possible and any mask mandates that are in place by the Michigan Health and Human Services are expected to be followed by all attendees. To find out more about these events, visit the Vicksburg District Library’s Calendar of Events page at

Almond torte recipe

Submitted by Flo Friender

This is a recipe for almond torte that has become my go-to for potlucks and for at home too. It was shared with me by the owner of a bed and breakfast in the Upper Peninsula where we stayed several years ago. It was served for breakfast and got instant reviews and requests for the recipe from the guests.

Stir together: ¾ c butter, melted and cooled (This is important. The butter doesn’t mix right with the sugar if you don’t do this.), 1 ½ c sugar

Add: 2 tsp almond, ½ t vanilla

Beat in: 2 eggs, one at a time

Add slowly: Pinch of salt (optional), 1 ½ c flour

Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes in aluminum-lined cast iron skillet.

When cool, peel off aluminum and serve.

Community corner: Checking in on aging neighbors

By Sarah Cagney, South County Community Services

It is easy to get so caught up in our work, errands, and family life that we might not think about how our neighbors are doing. But now, more than ever, it is important to take a moment out of our day and check in on those who are vulnerable in our community.

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, and we have had to sustain a high level of stress for longer than anyone imagined. However, the toll on older adults has been the greatest. With roughly 800 older adults living alone in the South County area, and as the population continues to grow older, we are seeing more and more neighbors trying to find help for older adults who are struggling financially, who can’t get out of the house for food or medication, whose homes are in disrepair, or whose utilities are cut off for nonpayment.

Together, we can help our aging neighbors – a simple gesture of stopping by to say hello or making a quick phone call can make a big difference! A quick visit or call does more than providing an opportunity for you to say “hi.” It shows people that they are not alone, that they are part of a community that cares for them. It also gives you a chance to notice if there are needs that are not being met – like food, medication, or issues with unsafe housing. Most of all, it adds one more social connection to everyone’s life, that same “social connection” that studies again and again show is important for health, longevity, and happiness.

Making a friendly call or visit does not mean you are responsible or liable for your neighbor’s health or well-being, but our observations and compassion add a layer of safety, and usually are welcomed opportunities for social interaction.

Fred Rogers once said “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connect us as neighbors—in our way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” It is my hope that we can all look back and remember coming together as a community and helping our aging neighbors.

Ways to Help Our Aging Neighbors:

Introduce yourself and let them know who you are, where you live, and that you are happy to help if they ever need it.

Ask for their phone number, so you can check-in and say hello and if you are comfortable with the responsibility, provide your contact information in case of an emergency.

Offer to help with errands – deliver groceries; grab the mail; shovel snow; mow the lawn; make friendly visits just to talk.

If you find individuals need more support than you can offer, provide them with appropriate resources or refer them to community organizations like South County Community Services.

If you have imminent concerns about someone’s well-being, contact the police department and request a wellness check. Our police department is responsive and compassionate when they make wellness checks throughout the community.

Always call 911 in an emergency.

Sarah Cagney is the Senior Outreach Coordinator at South County Community Services. She has worked in the aging field for nearly 20 years and is a wife and mother of two children. She enjoys reading, being outside, watching hockey and spending time with family and friends. For more information on South County Community Services, please check out our Facebook at or follow the QR code to our website.

Marching bands converge on Vicksburg Oct. 12, 16

The sounds of marching bands – multiple marching bands – will return to Vicksburg Tuesday, Oct. 12, and again on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Vicksburg High School has again been asked by the Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association to serve as a host site for the District XI Marching Band Festival on Oct. 12. Between five and 11 marching bands are expected to participate. The public is invited to attend and concessions will be available. The schedule is on

That’s a prelude to the 6th Annual Vicksburg Bulldog Marching Band Invitational the afternoon and evening of Oct. 16, the first to be held in the renovated high school stadium.

Bands from 16 Class A-D schools are scheduled to perform in the competition, with more than 1,000 students expected to perform. Marching bands from area schools scheduled to attend include Schoolcraft, Portage Central, Three Rivers, Climax-Scotts, Mattawan, Otsego, Parchment, Kalamazoo Central and Comstock. Other schools registered for the event include Bronson, Springport, River Valley, Camden-Frontier, Hartford, Charlotte and Berrien Springs.

Following the competition portion of the event, the Vicksburg High School marching band, the Big Red Machine, will present its 2021 competition show as an exhibition. The host band does not compete with the invited bands for a rating.

Following the Vicksburg exhibition, drumlines of Vicksburg and another school will take center field for this year’s Drumline Face-Off feature, when it debuted in 2018.

The bands will be scored by a panel of judges on various criteria, such as music performance, marching accuracy, music effectiveness and visual effect. Music-themed trophies will be awarded to the bands placing first, second, and third in each class, and additional “hardware” will be going home with bands receiving the “caption award” in each class for Best Marching, Best Music, Best Percussion and Best Color Guard. The band with the top rating across all four classes will win a Grand Champion trophy.

Stadium gates will open for spectators at 2:30 p.m. The first competing band will perform at 3:15 p.m., and be followed by the other bands performing at approximately 15-minute intervals, with a short dinner break for judges built into the schedule. Awards ceremonies for the Class D and B bands will be held about 5:30 p.m., with the Class C and A bands awards to be presented following the Drumline Face-Off. When the complete schedule is finished it will be available on the internet at

The admission charge remains at $6; pre-school age children are admitted free. A keepsake print program will also be available at the admission gates for a nominal charge. A variety of food and beverages will be available throughout the event. On-site parking is available at the High School and the nearby Administration Building (Old El); and also at the adjacent Middle School accessed by the drive between the Administration Building and the Bus Garage. Overflow parking will be available on nearby neighborhood streets.

The Bulldog Invitational is a fundraiser for the Vicksburg Band Boosters, which sponsors the event. A strong showing of support for this event by fans of the participating bands, and by the Vicksburg area community sustain the Bulldog Invitational as a premiere annual scholastic marching band competition in this area.

Voting sites change for some

Schoolcraft Township Clerk Virginia Mongreig is reminding township residents that voting locations will change for some residents beginning with a county-wide ballot question on Nov. 2.

All township residents in the Schoolcraft school district will vote at the Township Hall, 50 East VW Avenue at 18th St. All township residents in the Vicksburg school district will vote at Vicksburg United Methodist Church, 127 S. Main St in downtown Vicksburg.

Kalamazoo County residents in the Nov. 2 election will decide on renewal of a tax of .3124 mills, 31.24 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation, for the Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority. The agency provides transit services including Metro Connect and Metro Share vans. Voters first approved the tax in 2016. It expires this year.

Although voters in three other Kalamazoo County communities will vote Nov. 2 on local ballot issues, there are no elections for local, state or federal offices.

11-year-old collects all things World War Two

By Jef Rietsma

Sawyer Sutherland

Collection? World War II memorabilia

How did your collection begin? Around second grade, I found books in our (Indian Lake Elementary) school library about different battles from WWI, WWII and Vietnam, but my favorite one was WWII. I found the weapons, the tanks and aircraft very interesting at first but now I enjoy learning more about the battles and the geography of where they took place.

What are some items in your collection? I have a 7-by-10-foot map of the world that takes up almost an entire wall in my bedroom. I’ve used about 150 little flags to mark locations where WWII battles took place. I have some badges, a lot of pewter airplanes and my parents let me get a military knife from the Korean War, but we keep that put away. I also own a lot of books and DVDs about WWII.

(Sutherland recently finished reading the book “Unbroken,” which was made into a movie in 2014.)

What is your most-treasured item? My grandpa took me out for my birthday and we went to a military surplus store in Kalamazoo. He bought me an actual Army combat helmet. It’s made of metal and it is pretty heavy.

What don’t you own now that you hope you’ll own someday? I’d really like an actual WWII gun or rifle. I would also someday like to go to Honolulu to see the U.S.S. Arizona and especially to New York City, where there’s an aircraft carrier museum. (Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.)

Where do you find items to add to your collection? Antique stores.

Footnotes: Sutherland, 11, is a Vicksburg Middle School student. In fifth grade, he helped a team of classmates earn a perfect winning score on a 20-question class geography quiz. Sutherland said he was in disbelief when the opposing team was asked to locate South Africa on a map and it selected Germany instead. Sutherland is especially well versed in the Battle of Midway. He also can easily identify WWII planes and ships. Sutherland, who is also a fan of Star Wars, said when he grows up he would like to work as an engineer for the Navy.

South County News publishes its 100th edition

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe, Editor

This newspaper marks the 100th issue of the South County News, a point of pride for the many individuals involved in the grass-roots effort to publish a local newspaper.

When it was first published in 2013, the communities of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg had been without a hometown newspaper for nearly a year.

The Kalamazoo Gazette had published a predecessor, the Commercial-Express, from 2007 to 2012.

Vicksburg’s village president at the time, Bill Adams, sensed the communities’ desire to revive a paper. He contacted Sue Moore, a lifelong Vicksburg resident who had newspaper experience, energy and contacts: Moore’s parents, Bernice and Meredith Clark, had owned The Commercial-Express for 40 years before selling it in 1972. Moore had been involved with the paper in the 1960s and 70s.

Starting in November, 2012, a group including Moore, Wes Schmitt, Steve Ellis, Norm Hinga, Bob Smith and Kim Marston began meeting and planning. The first issue was published in June, 2013. It wasn’t easy.

The team gathered enough advertising to pay the cost of printing that June edition: $2,500. Then the group and more volunteers hand-delivered 11,000 copies to homes in south Kalamazoo County. The experience was challenging, prompting inclusion of a donation envelope in the next edition to pay for postal delivery.

Since that time, advertising revenue and community donations have enabled the sustainability of the paper. The IRS also approved nonprofit status. That reduced mailing costs by a third. In addition, staff now earn a modest amount for time and effort.

The paper’s focus is south county local news: village and township government and happenings, school board meetings, student achievements, sports, human interest stories and obituaries. Throughout the years, many writers and individuals have contributed to the paper’s success. Of the original group, Schmitt and Ellis continue their involvement and share their expertise.

Today, more than 11,000 papers are printed and delivered to homes and businesses in the area. Sue Moore wrote many of the features, but after her death in 2020, regular columnists, reporters and community members are writing and contributing to the monthly publication.

The South County News’ success continues to depend on the contributions from readers and loyal advertisers’ dollars. The future is bright for continuing to showcase the good news in south county.

Current Members of The South County News Board

Rob Ball

Sue Moore snagged Rob for copy-reading when he moved to Vicksburg to marry Rachel Freeman in 2014. He had spent 30 years reporting and copy reading on a daily newspaper in Royal Oak between 1963 and retirement in 1998, wrote editorials for the newspaper for 20 years before and after retirement and reported for a daily paper in Hillsdale in the 2000’s. He considers himself fortunate; the career has rewarded him for everything he ever learned. Rob sings with an a cappella Christmas gig group back in Ferndale, sings and serves on committees at Vicksburg United Methodist, holds an amateur radio license and does some occasional woodworking.

Wes Schmitt

Wes, along with Sue Moore, Steve Ellis, and a few other volunteers founded the South County News in 2013. Wes has been the secretary/treasurer since the paper began. Wes is retired from accounting at Pharmacia and Upjohn.  He has outside interests including golf, gardening, reading, and prior to the pandemic, dining out with his wife, Sharon. He has been active in Schoolcraft politics including the Schoolcraft Village Council, serving as village president, member of Schoolcraft’s Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Well Head Protection Committee. He has also been active with South County Community Services Board, serving as treasurer, and the South County EMS Board as president. He looks forward to continuing his involvement with paper, health permitting.

Sheri Freeland

Sue Moore and Bob Smith reeled Sheri into helping the South County News in advertising towards the end of 2013. Bob’s famous line: He didn’t know the difference between a perm and a pedicure and needed her help. Sheri has lived on the outskirts of Vicksburg all her life, growing up on the north side of Indian Lake, and still resides nearby. She volunteered many years in the Vicksburg school system while her children attended. She worked as a hair stylist and in sales for many years, and at the Air Zoo. She enjoys the lake in all seasons, downhill skiing, bonfires, family and friends. Sheri appreciates everyone’s support and wants to do all she can for local businesses.

Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Kathy began writing a column for the South County News in 2019 and assumed the role of editor and publisher after Sue Moore’s death in 2020. She is a full-time English teacher at Vicksburg High School and a lifelong area resident who enjoys gardening, reading, and entertaining friends and family. She writes and blogs about growing up on a family farm and living in a small town. She appreciates the community’s support and believes in the importance of a community newspaper.

Steve Ellis

Steve grew up in Pontiac, reading the Pontiac Press. After graduating from WMU, he sold computers and shopper ads before spending 23 years at the Kalamazoo Gazette in advertising. In 2012, he started Southwest Michigan Spark, a publication targeting baby boomers. At that same time, he joined a handful of local residents in looking into the idea of starting a newspaper targeting the greater Vicksburg and Schoolcraft areas. They felt there was a need, and were able to pull it off. Steve loves local history, sports and just about everything else small towns have to offer.

Justin Gibson

Our graphic designer, Justin Gibson, was brought onto the team by Sue Moore in June 2014 and has done the layout for each issue since. Gibson studied art and creative writing in college and earned an Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting from WMU. Before he joined the crew of this paper, he worked as a cartoonist for his high school and college newspapers.

Abby Chapin awarded global health fellowship

Abby Chapin on graduation day.

On May 1, 2020 Abby Chapin graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering magna cum laude, earning a place on the Dean’s List every semester it was compiled. Abby graduated from the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center and Schoolcraft High School in 2015. During her college years she created and implemented the original Science Friday summer reading program at the Schoolcraft Library; worked at the Air Zoo for a summer; was a STEM camp counselor at a University of Michigan camp for young girls interested in science; spent four years on a student sub-team promoting wind energy including a year as president; spent parts of two summers in Malawi, Africa, teaching math, science and English to secondary students preparing for university entrance exams, volunteered on a coffee plantation in Guatemala learning sustainable farming practices there. She spent her spring breaks volunteering with a group that did hurricane clean up in Texas and North Carolina; worked as a tutor in the U-M honors office and as a private tutor in thermodynamics and completed an internship at Whirlpool Corp. On May 1, 2021, Abby graduated with a master of science degree with distinction in design science. This 2020-2021 school year she worked as a graduate student instructor teaching freshmen engineering students while doing her own coursework on a screen from her small apartment. Both of her in-person graduations were cancelled so she had a “front yard” graduation with family attending a private, personalized graduation for the first graduation and a family walk through the U of M campus for the second graduation. She is one of five scholars awarded a global health fellowship at Rice University in Houston, where she will work with a team on global health solutions for low-income countries that have low health resource solutions. She left Schoolcraft the morning of August 12th with her parents, John and Cyndie Chapin, to begin a new adventure.