Category Archives: Community

Tammy Bryan Opens Massage Therapy Service

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Tammy Bryan.

By Sue Moore

“To know you are helping people feel better is just awesome,” said Tammy Bryan, a new massage therapist located in Vicksburg. “I can feel people’s pain. It’s just a gift,” she said, referring to areas of pain a person coming in for a massage is experiencing.

“Maybe the person is not quite ready for surgery. I can help with the pain that is in the muscle tissue and fascia. Fascia is a strong connective tissue, that can create tight knots or trigger points which can cause pain. Therapeutic massage can assist in helping a client find relief of pain and help with everyday stress,” she said.

Her services at the Village Therapeutic Massage include massage with hot towels and essential oils such as lavender for relaxation. She said her clients love the use of hot towels incorporated with the actual massage.

Bryan herself has had plenty of stress and has found relief in her work of helping people. Her first husband, Tomi Tibbetts, was diagnosed with a rare condition of the central nervous system. “We lived in Las Vegas, although I’m a Vicksburg High School graduate. I was a cocktail waitress and we had so much going for us. We were avid mountain bikers. Then I got hurt, landing on the left side of my body. Physical therapy wasn’t helping so I turned to massage although I thought it was only for rich people.”

After four massages she was better, so she went back to school to become a massage therapist while still working full time until finishing her degree and obtaining her license. “I was learning anatomy and physiology at a medical-based massage school where we learned about the systems of the body. Then I got my job at the MGM. When I worked at the MGM I did seven hours of massage five days a week and my hands hurt for the first three months so I had to ice them every day. It was good pay and regular hours,” she said.

When her husband got very sick, she decided to bring him to the Cleveland Clinic after many hospitalizations and non-diagnoses in California. Cleveland was much closer to Vicksburg so they moved here in 2006. He passed away in 2010 while she was helping as his full-time caregiver and still working 32 hours as a massage therapist at the Radisson’s Idun Spa and Salon in Kalamazoo.

Things changed dramatically for Bryan when she attended a 1981 class reunion in 2011 upon visiting with classmate Greg Bryan. They were married in 2013. She is the stepmother to his three children and two grandchildren. She had always worked for someone else but heard in November, 2018 that there was a place to rent in the Village Works building owned by Veronica Levin and Ron and Lupe Smith at 102 S. Main Street in Vicksburg. Her hours are Tuesday through Friday by appointment from 10 to 6 p.m. and some hours on Saturday. Her phone number is 269-330-2991.

Patrick and Marlene White Celebrate 60th Anniversary

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Patrick and Marlene White.

After their marriage in Shelby, Mich., on August 29, 1959, Patrick and Marlene White moved to Portage for the next 13 years. While living in Portage, they had two children: Tammy (White) Clubb and Timothy White. In 1973 they moved to Pavilion Township and have resided there since. They are very close to and proud of their children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

They celebrated 60 years of marriage at a family dinner party in August.

Marlene worked as a server at Bill Knapp’s restaurant for 20 years and spent 13 years as a salesperson at J C Penney. Before retiring in December of 2002, she was top salesperson for three years.

Pat entered the life insurance business at age 21 and has spent 59 years as an Independent Agent. He also served as Supervisor of Pavilion Township for 36 years. He was President of the Michigan Township Association in 2001, representing over 6,500 township officials throughout the state. Pat retired as supervisor in December 2017 but retains his insurance license.

Over the years the couple have enjoyed traveling, boating on Lake Michigan and snowmobiling. Now they’re happy to spend time with their growing family.

Bicycle Celebration Comes to Vicksburg in September

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Gail DeWolf and Paul Selden, both bicycle enthusiasts pose with her ‘fat-tire’ bike on the grounds of the Historic Village.

By Sue Moore

An inaugural bike ride celebration is coming to Vicksburg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 20-22, organized by a local committee sponsored by Bike Friendly Kalamazoo (BFK). “The idea is to put Vicksburg in the spotlight,” said Paul Selden, chair of the event.

“We want to grow this into a regional thing. For now, it might attract as few as 50, 150 or 500 riders with 100 unexpected walk-ins on September 21; we just don’t know,” Selden said. “The area is ideal riding territory with an added sense of adventure. It wouldn’t have happened without Vicksburg people’s ‘can-do’ spirit. The schools, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the Mill, all have pitched in to help the cause, which is to increase bicycle ridership and safety for riders.”

One person in the Vicksburg area, Gail Stafinski DeWolf, has been riding since she was five and hasn’t stopped even now, at 70. “I just love to be outside. I leave my home on 29th street each day and ride at least eight miles in rain or shine, even in the winter.”

What DeWolf does that many other bicyclists don’t: She picks up whatever trash she sees at the side of the road. She takes a bag with her on each ride to pick up cans and bottles, finding on average 5,500 per year. She said she likes paying it forward so as not to trash nature.

“My treasures include stolen wallets, women’s purses, even beer tabs I give to a collector. I never know what I’m going to find,” DeWolf said. One day she spotted a bike that had been thrown into a cornfield. It was well hidden but would have been real bad for a harvester hitting it. She pulled it out of the way. She has two bikes, an old Huffy brand fat tire and a backup, both outfitted with a basket and cupholder.

Her ears are always listening for traffic as she rides without a helmet. She finds there is a lot of courtesy in Vicksburg and is more irritated with bike riders who come up behind her quietly. “They should say something before passing me,” she said.

Bike safety is a big part of the upcoming event, Selden pointed out. He lives on a busy Portage road that has just had an application of bike lane striping. Since many people don’t have a trail right next to their driveway, the law allows riding on a sidewalk if there are no signs posted to the contrary. “I always ride with the traffic as I want to behave just like the other vehicles. Most crashes occur at intersections where not everyone has an unobstructed view,” he said.

“People are demanding more bike amenities to accommodate their healthy life style,” Selden pointed out. Running was hard on his knees so he adopted bike riding many years ago. He helped launch Bike Friendly Kalamazoo in 2011. The organization is now a nonprofit and since Selden’s retirement three years ago, the organization decided to organize the Fall Bike Celebration, inspired by the support of local civic leaders, riding clubs and volunteers.

The event will include a Bike Art Prize. The winning art work will be copied onto street banners with $1,750 in juried prizes awarded to the artists submitting their work. Winners will be announced on Sunday afternoon by John Kern, director of the Prairie Ronde Artist in Residence program.

On Friday, September 20, participants will be treated to an ice cream social and event registration at Apple Knockers at 6 p.m., after they have visited the Mill project, Historic Village and possibly the Farmers’ Market or played disc golf. There are rides of various distances planned for Saturday September 21, beginning at the Vicksburg Middle School at scheduled times in the morning. The longest one is to Shipshewana and back. The shortest is a Kids ‘n’ Cruisers parade after lunch. The main attraction is the Quilt Trail featuring two loops, each of about 16 miles in length. An Awards and Recognition Dinner at 6 p.m. that Saturday will honor those who have helped cycling just by having dinner with them, including guests Village President Bill Adams and Manager Jim Mallery. For further details, go to: fallbikecelebration.org.

Event Calendar

Vicksburg

9/5 – Thurs. Turning Leaf Open House at 13322 N. Boulevard, Vicksburg 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m..

9/10 – Tues. OLLI class at Vicksburg Historical Society, 300 N. Richardson, Vicksburg, 1 p.m.

9/12 – Thurs. Turning Leaf Open House at 13322 N. Boulevard, Vicksburg 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.

9/18 – Wed. Vicksburg Library Party in the Park for pre-school children, 10-11 a.m. Vicksburg Historic Village.

9/14 – Sat. Prairie Ronde Artists Block Party and Musical Performance, 100, 105 & 107 S. Main St. 6-10 p.m.

9/14 — Sat. Big Red Machine Glow Run 5k on the Vicksburg Trail. All proceeds go to the Vicksburg Bands program. $25 registration fee, $30 the day of the race. Race starts at 7 p.m.

9/17 – Small Town Anthology V Book Signing and Launch, hosted by the Schoolcraft Library Tournament of Writers, R & R Event Center, 343 W. Prairie, 6-8 p.m.

9/20 – Fri. Fall Bike Celebration, Vicksburg Historic Village and Apple Knockers for registration, 6 p.m.

9/21 – Sat. Vicksburg Lions Club Golf Outing, 1:30 p.m. States Golf Course.

9/21 – Sat. Fall Bike Celebration, Vicksburg Middle School all day sponsored by Bike Friendly Kalamazoo.

9/25 & 9/26 – Wed. (9 a.m.-6 pm), Thurs. (9 a.m.-2 p.m.) Rummage Sale at Vicksburg United Methodist Church, 217 S. Main St.

9/26 – Thurs. The Art of Memoir, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 10:30 a.m.

9/28 – Vicksburg Oktoberfest 2019, Distant Whistle Brewhouse, 2 p.m.

9/29 — Sun. Vicksburg Harvest Festival at the Historic Village in Vicksburg. Includes many activities for the whole family. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

10/5 — Sat. Marching Band Invitational at Vicksburg High School. 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

10/6 – Sun. 1st Annual Beastro Open Golf at Angels Crossing Golf club, 10 a.m.

Scotts

9/7 – Sat. Scotts United Methodist Church, Garage and Bake sale, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at 845 Walline St., Scotts. 269-649-0659.

Schoolcraft

9/6 – Fri. Harry’s Famous Meatloaf at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, 5-7 p.m.

9/7 – Fri. Enjoy a great homemade meal before each Schoolcraft home football game. Chicken n’ biscuits at Schoolcraft United Methodist Church.

9/17 – Small Town Anthology V Book Signing and Launch, hosted by the Schoolcraft Library Tournament of Writers, R & R Event Center, 343 W. Prairie, 6-8 p.m.

9/21 – Sat. The Red Brick Tea Room at the Schoolcraft Ladies Library building will have two Cream Tea Party seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50.

9/27 – Fri. Chicken N’ Biscuits, Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, 5-7 p.m.

9/27 – Fri. Meet and Greet for Schoolcraft Alumni, after the Homecoming football game, Schoolcraft American Legion Post #475, lower level, socialize with alums, support Association to raise scholarship money.

The Mill at Vicksburg: Details Emerge

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The landscape architect’s plan for The Mill looks from the east in the foreground along Portage Creek to the north on the right where the Bridge Organics company building is located.

By Rob Peterson

The Mill at Vicksburg overcame a significant hurdle this month with state approval of Michigan’s new Transformational Brownfield Plan incentives (see accompanying story on page 3). With that approval came new details of the project.

All of the 120-acre Mill property will be open to the public. The west end will offer 80 acres of open space and wetlands with interpretive trails and room for potential larger cultural events, all of which will make Vicksburg a regional destination when the project is complete.

Other outdoor eventspaces will include a beer garden, located at the north end of the complex where a portion of the building caught fire several years ago; and the courtyard, a secondary space for cultural events and large gatherings, created by the three wings of the Mill.

The east side of the property is bounded by a creek that runs from Sunset Lake to Barton Lake. In the 1960s, it ran milky white from by-products of the paper making process. Contamination and debris in the creek will be removed as part of the project. New walkways with overlooks will meander along the creek’s edge.

“We want the project to talk a lot about water,” said Paper City Development Chief Operating Officer Jackie Koney. “Paper making required a lot of water, and the process was hard on the environment. We’re going to restore the waterways around the Mill and keep them clean.”

The outdoor space will include water features along the walkways and terraces and architects are exploring using some of the accessory structures in the final design: The foundation of the former screw-press building may become a fountain, and the site of the former wastewater treatment clarifier could become a creek overlook.

The plans for the interior of the mill are also ambitious, with a number of uses planned. The 100-plus-year-old mill building is actually several buildings constructed over many generations totaling 419,000 square feet under roof, making this the largest commercial project in Kalamazoo County in decades.

“An historic manufacturing building is unique because of the wide-open spaces,” says Gene Hopkins of HopkinsBurns Design Studio, the architect for the Mill. “You can put many different uses into space like this, but you must set up the building so that it can naturally evolve over the next 100 years.”

The west wing of the mill, the tallest structure at five stories, will house a 40-room boutique hotel and 40 one- and two-bedroom apartments. In the northern portion of the mill is the former machine room, where concerts will be performed under a massive crane that will be preserved as an architectural feature.

The east wing will house a massive indoor event space which will total over 150,000 square feet – for comparison, Wings Stadium is roughly one third the size. “We will be competing with Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis for events,” says owner Chris Moore. Vicksburg is within a day’s drive of one-third of the country’s population, and “We have the space and we can bring these events here with the right team in place.”

Part of that team is Brian Bastien, the general manager of Brewery Operations, who has extensive experience in restaurant and brewery management. The first element of the Mill to emerge will be the brewery, so having him in place early is essential to the project’s success.

“Our first job is to hire an awesome brewer and distiller, who we hope to have in place within six months,” says Bastien. “We’ve already found our executive chef, Vuong Loc. He’s the executive chef at Starbucks and he’s won “Beat Bobby Flay”, a popular TV cooking contest. He is a Vicksburg native working in Seattle.”

How Chef Vuong Loc became involved with the Mill is an interesting story. Moore noticed a restaurant opening up in his Seattle neighborhood called “Portage.” Intrigued, he asked a server about the name, and she answered that the chef grew up near Portage, Michigan. When Moore met Loc, he discovered that “near Portage” meant Vicksburg.

The entire Mill at Vicksburg project is an interesting story, and it is one that continues to evolve. The first elements, including the brewery, will likely open by late 2021, with the remainder of the project coming to fruition by 2024. “It all has to be completed within five years to make it right with the National Historic Preservation designation,” says Moore.

The Mill Receives Major State Support

By Rob Peterson

Many have known that Vicksburg is exceptional. A state agency provided a new reason.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved up to $30 million to support development at the Mill at Vicksburg through its new Transformational Brownfield Plan (TBP). The funds will help offset the extraordinary costs associated with developing an obsolete, environmentally contaminated property.

The Mill at Vicksburg is only the second project in the state to receive this level of support. The other was in Detroit.

“The redevelopment of the Vicksburg paper mill into a dynamic, exciting multi-use development will bring the village of Vicksburg and the surrounding area to life and represents exactly the type of development the Transformational Brownfield Plan program was intended for,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The agency’s website defines a Transformational Brownfield Plan as one that, “will have a transformational impact on local economic development and community revitalization while also having an overall positive fiscal impact on the state.”

The MEDC reviewed the impact of the reimbursements and found that the investment of tax dollars will be returned 2.3 to 1 in new tax revenue over 30 years. This estimate was corroborated by a team from the University of Michigan and the Upjohn Institute, an internationally known economic think-tank.

How the Incentives Work

When a blighted and contaminated property is being developed, municipalities are able to reimburse the owner for costs associated with cleanup and public spaces (see main story) through tax increment financing, meaning only new tax revenue generated by the project is used to repay the owner.

The assumption is that the project would not have occurred without these incentives, so the municipality isn’t giving up tax revenue; it is gaining a functional property, jobs, and public space for the community’s benefit. The incentives will be paid to his development company over 30 years. Once the incentives are paid back to the developer, the tax revenue, presumably much higher than what it was pre-development, resumes to the municipalities.

The exception that the State of Michigan’s Transformational Brownfield program makes is significant: not only will the developer be reimbursed through local property taxes, it will be reimbursed through state income and sales tax generated by the project. This additional benefit accounts for one-third of the $30 million in incentives provided to the developer.

The vast majority of the $80 million needed to redevelop the Mill will be fronted by Chris Moore, the Vicksburg native who is backing the Mill.

“The money doesn’t come out of our (taxpayer) pockets,” said Rachael Grover of the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. “It is revenue that wouldn’t exist without the project, and the project wouldn’t exist without the incentives.”

Farm to Table Celebration in Its Second Year

farm 19By Sue Moore

The Farm to Table dinner planned by the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market looks to be a magical evening for those who love great food, stirring entertainment and a meal with friends and neighbors prepared by Chef Michael Moore of the Main Street Pub in Vicksburg.

He will be preparing in-season ingredients gleaned from vendors at the Farmers’ Market on Friday and turning them into dinner on Saturday, August 17 at the community pavilion from 6 to 10 p.m. Service will be family style with volunteers from the Vicksburg Rotary Club doing the serving honors. This is the second year for the Farm to Table dinner. It sold out quickly last year.

The evening is planned as a fundraiser for the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market, which is celebrating its tenth year. It is a nonprofit organization that exists to serve the greater Vicksburg community, according to Stella Shearer, president of the board of directors. “Our mission for the market each week and for the fundraiser is to bring friends and family together to enjoy fresh, locally grown food, listen to great music and feel the warmth and charm of our farmers’ market community.”

The feast will begin with a bounty of locally harvested foods, creatively prepared and served family style. It will feature red checkered tablecloths, freshly cut flowers, an eclectic collection of dishware, craft beers from Distant Whistle and award-winning wines from Lawton Ridge winery.

Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Kim Richey, who performed in 2017 for the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, creating an avid following. She is a nationally known singer-songwriter both Grammy nominated and awarded, first for Trisha Yearwood’s groove-country “Baby, I Lied,” then as part of the album Amazing Grace 2, a Country Salute to Gospel.

“Part of what draws fans to the dusky honey of her crystalline alto voice is the way she writes: to and from the soul, never flinching from the conflicts and crushing moments, yet always finding dignity and resilience,” say reviews on her website.

The fundraiser will help ensure that the independent farmers’ market continues well into the future, Shearer explains. “The market has had a strong economic impact on the community each year with an average of over 500 customers each week and some 25 local vendors offering their produce. Our mission is to promote and provide the community with fresh, locally produced food during our 20 weeks of operations.”

Tickets are $50 each with a cash bar offered. They can be obtained at the market each Friday from 2-6 p.m., at the Distant Whistle Brewpub or online at: http://www.vicksburgfarmersmarket.com; http://www.EventBrite.com.