Category Archives: Government

Village Council Hears Plan to Improve Angels Crossing

tom ham 1
Tom Ham, president of Renaissance Golf Management, spoke to the Vicksburg Village Council about his business plan for Angel Crossing Golf Club.

By Sue Moore

A business plan for the municipally owned Angels Crossing Golf Club was presented to the Vicksburg Village Council at its July meeting. Tom Ham, the president of Renaissance Golf Management Group was hired in April 2018 to turn the golf course around. This report is his road map to future development.

Village Manager Jim Mallory said he has sought to have a business plan submitted for some time and this is what is needed for the course to be successful, he told the council. League play and memberships are up this year but there has been some confusion from golfers about new rules instituted by Ham’s company.

No golf carts are allowed in the parking lot this year as a safety precaution. That is a big change; they have been chugging along this way since the course opened. But insurance doesn’t cover the risk, Ham told the council. “It can be an inconvenience, so we are looking at other ways to accommodate the loading and unloading of golf bags by the front door. When you put up some boundaries you can make people unhappy.”

Also, too much alcohol is being brought onto the property against all the rules, Ham said. “Management needs to follow up and to say this is what we expect of you as a customer.”

Monthly financials are being sent to the financial committee of the council. A new point of service system has been installed to make things run smoother. “This is not an easy job or the village would have done it ourselves,” Mallery said.

Highlights of the plan’s measurable objectives for 2018-19 are on the village’s web site and include:

• Streamline operational efficiency.

• Develop a unique marketing strategy.

• Angels Crossing Golf Club, by all accounts, is one of the best layouts in the state of Michigan. Initial observations of course conditioning and aesthetics are below average as they relate to expectations, pricing, and comparative in competitive settings. Renaissance Golf Management believes that Angels Crossing Golf Club can be a “special” facility, but that success is dependent on improved maintenance practices and effort.

• As with any facility, the Angels Crossing golf shop operation is the nerve center of the facility. The focus is to optimize member and guest experiences while protecting the club’s interest and safety standards. The club must be for all to enjoy equally and it is the golf shop operation’s responsibility to ensure this for all guests.

• Angels Crossing Golf Club Food and Beverage operation is full service and has limited potential for events, wedding venues, and dining experiences based on kitchen and seating. The key to success is minimizing costs and limiting product selection while trying to come up with new and creative menu items.

• The Angels Crossing Golf Club clubhouse is functional but is lacking as far as storage, seating, kitchen area, and large golf outing hosting.

• Personnel is the backbone of any company. Angels Crossing will continue to strive to hire the most professional and dedicated employees in the industry, provide a positive work environment, and minimize the cost of payroll while maximizing productivity. In addition, we realize that we must be proactive in attracting outstanding employees and understand that great people come along when we may not be looking to fill a need. We will be open to make every adjustment in our workforce to accommodate an outstanding person that would better the future for Angels Crossing.

James Earl thanked Ham for his business plan, saying it will be measurable and will transform Angels Crossing if implemented. This accountability is what the council had requested over a year ago in his public statement.

Senior Millage Proposal on August 7 Ballot

By Sue Moore

“Seniors aren’t looking for a handout,” said Larry Forsyth as he told the Vicksburg Rotary club about his years of helping at South County Community Services (SCCS). He was talking about a special senior services millage on the Aug. 7 primary ballot, seeking .35 mills on Kalamazoo County properties – 35 cents per $1,000 taxable value.

Forsyth told the club about one of his food delivery runs to an older gentleman served by SCCS who had just become eligible for food stamps. “I want you to take the meal to someone who needs it more than I do,” he told Forsyth.

Nevertheless, there are 718 seniors living alone in the south county area, Jim Shaw said. There are 50,000 seniors in Kalamazoo County, with at least 3,000 living in south county. About one-third of these seniors live in poverty. On any given day up to 350 people are on the wait list for home aid and meals delivery in the whole county. “Many people just don’t know where to go for help if they have physical, emotional or financial needs,” Shaw said.

Diane Durian, the senior outreach coordinator for the agency, has been working with seniors over the last two years as part of her outreach. She makes home visits and tries to get those in need into the services that are available. “It takes time to build trust, to navigate the Medicaid process, coordinate with doctors, nurses, pastors and elected officials and governmental agencies,” she said. “There are lots of needy seniors living in one or two rooms of big old farm houses in this area.”

Her part-time work has been funded by two grants from the Vicksburg United Way in partnership with the South County Community Services agency. Should the millage pass, the funds would be managed by the Department of Health and Human Services under county government for use by the county’s Area Agency on Aging. This group works closely with two governing boards, the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners and the Older Adult Services Advisory Council. Each has responsibility to recommend and approve contracts that provide services to older adults and assure compliance with procedural standards for evidence-based programs.

The Area Agency on Aging would also be part of the service network, as would South County Community Services. According to Danna Downing, “their job is to connect seniors and their families to the services they need to remain in their homes longer before moving to more costly living environments. And, she adds, “above all to allow them to age with dignity and community support.”

“I am convinced this is the right thing to do,” Shaw said. “The campaign doesn’t have a lot of money behind it but it does have good people who want to support our seniors. Kalamazoo County is one of only 10 counties in the state of Michigan without a senior millage out of 83 total. It’s time to mark the ballot – it’s on the back of the printed ballot – with a yes vote for seniors.”

Senior Millage Could Keep Aging People in Their Homes

Evelyn Taylor is a senior citizen who needed some help with repairs. Dr. David Schriember and Diane Durian asked Mr. Fix-it Larry Forsyth to help with getting her mailbox repaired on Sprinkle Road.

Evelyn Taylor, in her sixties, has the same name as her mother. This was sometimes confusing for the staff at Dr. David Shriemer’s office in Vicksburg; the younger Evelyn was her mother’s caretaker until her mother’s death. Schriemer has worked with the family for many years.

Now, after years of living in a close-knit family within a close-knit and caring community, Evelyn is living pretty much alone. She stays busy with hobbies and keeping a tidy, organized home. She is very involved in her church and is a kind and caring person to those who know her.

But her world is smaller now and Dr. Schriemer, her primary care giver, called South County Community Services (SCCS) to ask about services the agency could provide to keep her safe and connected to her community. Within a few days, Senior Outreach Coordinator Diane Durian called Evelyn and set up a home visit. Evelyn was invited to go along to the Senior Expo and to the holiday party for seniors. Diane is now on Evelyn’s contact list when she has questions or needs assistance.

Immediately following their first visit, Diane arranged to have an SCCS volunteer come to her home and fix her mailbox so that if emergency help or transportation services were needed, the helpers could easily find Evelyn’s home on the ever-busy Sprinkle Road. Evelyn is pictured with her doctor, David Schriemer, Durian and volunteer Larry Forsyth, who set things right and attached high-visibility house numbers. These are the types of services that help South County seniors stay in their homes safely. The Say Yes to Seniors millage proposal on the August 7 ballot is intended to assure that more seniors in Kalamazoo County can be served this way.

Gisler Statement on Candidacy for the County Board

gisler2I am completing my third term as a County Commissioner and am eager to continue representing the citizens of South County.

I am a strong voice for common-sense, fiscally-responsible government. Three principles guide my decisions: (1) limited government, (2) personal responsibility and (3) individual liberty.

I serve on the following county boards: Aeronautics, Older Adult Services, Public Works, Planning Commission, Community Action and Transit. I’m the Liaison to the Road Commission.

I attend township and village meetings. This lets me know the issues that are important to South County residents. I bring updates of recent county decisions.

The budget for Kalamazoo County is $90 million. If additional funding is needed for senior services, it should come from that existing budget. That’s why I recommend a “NO” vote on the senior millage. We all have a stake in the county’s prosperity.

South County resident 42 years. Married to Gail 52 years. 2 kids, 4 grandkids and 2 great-grandkids.

Forty years in pharmaceutical business. Degrees: Biology (Wabash College) and Finance (Syracuse University).

I enjoy assisting South County. Reach me at or 269-323-0259.

Kraig Lee Running for County Commission

Kraig LeeSeniors, veterans, and taxpayers deserve better from the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.  Having served on the County Building Authority, I have a front row seat to see how the county operates. We need change to get our county government back on track.

As a lifelong resident of South Kalamazoo County and a graduate of Schoolcraft High School, I share our strong commitment to small-town values. I believe in hard work and will move the county forward on common sense issues, save your tax dollars and serve the needs of the people.

Not all candidates are alike. Unlike my opponent, I do support the senior millage so no senior starves while on a waiting list for meals on wheels. Unlike my opponent, I will vote yes when it comes to veterans and to rebuilding the Veterans Service Committee. I will take the time to listen and act upon the needs of working families and small business owners. I will have an open-door policy to bring more transparency to our county government.

I want to earn your vote in the August 7 primary. Together we can put seniors, veterans, and residents first while making Kalamazoo the model for counties that work.

National Night Out Celebration in Clark Park

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg is joining the National Night Out program this year, 34 years after the program to connect communities with law enforcement was organized.

The program will be held in Clark Park from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7.

The idea was conceived to bring public safety units to the people they are serving in hopes of connecting with residents throughout America, Police Chief Scott Sanderson said. He saw the good that was accomplished in his years with Kalamazoo Public Safety and decided to bring it to Vicksburg.

“National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live,” according to their website.

“It’s a night out against crime,” Sanderson said. “The good news is that Vicksburg has very minimal crime. This is a very safe community and through our outreach, we plan to keep it that way.”

Other first responders have joined with Sanderson for the event. That includes the Village Department of Public Works, South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority and South County Emergency Medical Services staff. They will have their vehicles on display in the park.

Hot dogs will be prepared by the Fire Department staff and drinks will be available, all donated by Family Fare. It will take place rain or shine.

Besides the one-time showcase event, police have been meeting with kids to play kickball or whiffle ball once a month. They will be outside at the Centennial development again to play with kids in the neighborhood on Thursday, Aug. 9 from 5-6 p.m.

The first National Night Out in 1984 was joined by 400 communities with a total population of 2.5 million. In a recent year, 16,000 communities with a population of 38 million participated.

Village Council Approves Land Use Plan

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft village council unanimously approved a long-term comprehensive land use and recreation plan under consideration for the last six months.

The plan’s goals are to develop accessible trails to Three Rivers and Portage, make additions or improvements to existing ones and possibly develop an all-new park.

The plan was developed in cooperation with Wightman & Associates, a Benton Harbor-based engineering firm. Jorden Parker from the firm was in attendance. Village President Keith Gunnett said many villages make similar plans that sit on a shelf and never get done. But he’s confident that won’t happen in this case.

“Your company has really made this so much easier,” Gunnett told Parker. He further credited Wightman for getting the community involved in the process. “It really did get responses out of folks and that’s hard to do,” Gunnett said.

The council also recognized the village’s two Citizens of the Year and presented them with plaques. The two winners were Debra Reynolds and Marilyn Jones. Reynolds was recognized for her contributions to the village’s annual 4th of July parade and Jones for her support of the library and spreading a love of reading and writing in the community.

The trustees thanked the two for their contributions to the community. Trustee Michael Rochholz said they would be a tough act to follow. “Unfortunately, you probably set the bar a little too high for the rest of us,” he joked.