Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Behind the Scenes 

Both Schoolcraft and Vicksburg have a new group of volunteers helping to inspire the early Christmas celebrations in each community. This has sparked new life into each event, making them a “must see and do” for the residents of South County.

The Christmas Walk in Schoolcraft was the brainchild of Norma Tackett nearly 30 years ago. As it grew, it brought many visitors to the community. Upon her passing, it was hard to find someone to step into her shoes but now they have. Thanks to Deb Christiansen and Kelly Bergland with some encouragement from their husbands, there is renewed purpose and plenty of great ideas.

Christmas in the Village was initiated three years ago by Kathleen Hoyle in Vicksburg to showcase what the Downtown Development Authority could do to attract visitors. Previously, the Vicksburg Community Association had been organizing Santa’s visit and a parade. Upon Hoyle leaving to head up parks and recreation for the city of Portage, Mary Ruple, Stella Shearer and John DeBault have stepped in with new ideas and plenty of energy.

There is something for everyone between the two villages with only a few overlaps in timing, so folks will be able to experience both village’s celebrations with kids and family for this most hallowed of holidays.

Boy Scouts Newspaper Collection 

Remember that Troop 251 will be collecting newspapers for the last time on Saturday, December 2, along with all the other activities going on in the village. It’s sad to see this fundraiser for the scouts go away but it does represent a sign of the times with the cutback in newspaper circulation. The South County News is doing its best to help out with its 10,500 circulation each month but there was not enough newsprint coming in to pay for their upfront expenses, according to Kevin Borden, the head scoutmaster.

Sprinkle Road Tree Slaughter

Most folks know I’m a tree hugger. It makes me very upset to see the Sprinkle Road harvest of the beautiful trees that once lined the roadway but are no more. According to Aileen Greanya who had two silver maples cut down in her front yard, it was at the behest of the Indiana Michigan power company. They claimed the trees were dangerous in a wind storm because they were too close to the power lines. “We practically had a wood war over the felled trees as the contracting tree cutting company didn’t want the wood. Somebody had scooped up the wood from my yard the very day the trees were cut down.”

Schoolcraft’s Undefeated JV Football Team

Coach Terry Haas’ varsity football team in Schoolcraft suffered one of its down years (5-5), largely due to injuries to many starters. It looks like he will be able to reload for the 2018 season because the junior varsity team went undefeated in the SAC conference. Ted Manning was the head coach of the JV team with assists from Tracey Branch, Joe Thole and Brian DeVries. Even with four of their JV players suiting up on the varsity, the team posted this impressive record. “They were a hard working group with some games being tight but with their backs against the wall, they managed to find a way to win,” according to Jeff Clark the Schoolcraft athletic director.

Vicksburg Had an Undefeated Freshman Squad

The freshmen football team went 9-0 for the year with head coach Sean Mulhearn ably assisted by George Thompson, Sawyer Duncan and Kyle Owen. The sophomore squad had some exciting moments but didn’t fare as well. The varsity will lose some stellar seniors on a team that went 7-4 on the season and qualified for the District playoffs once again. Edwardsburg the top team in the Wolverine conference represented the league in the finals of the state playoffs.

On the Corner

on the corner 1
On 103 E. Prairie Street, the paint is coming off the galvanized steel cornice, the cement trim above the windows, and the cast iron columns beautifully. The workers are using corn husk, walnut and soda blasting to be more effective, said project manager Jackie Koney.

By Sue Moore

It would be hard to top last month’s column with any kind of follow up personal story. For the last four and a half years of writing this column, I’ve assiduously avoided writing anything personal. My parents, who owned the Vicksburg Commercial-Express when I was growing up, insisted that we would never write stories about our family or any of its accomplishments or failings.

I breached that admonition by writing my personal experience about the trauma of an injury and its accompanying fault lines. It was very hard for me to do that, but I felt it could serve as a good way to bring the issue of the fear of falling to the attention of the public.

What I didn’t realize was how much compassion and concern people had for this editor and all of her foibles. So many people have expressed their concern and offered to help in any way. It was so heartwarming and I thank you all for sharing and caring. The recovery has been complete and I’m back to normal, whatever that may be.

The Winds of Change

Redevelopment is taking place at an accelerated clip in both Schoolcraft and Vicksburg. It is very exciting to see the vision of Windy and Jamie Clark for the school building on Cass Street that they will repurpose into residences, condominiums and event space. We will have a more in-depth story about this in a later issue. The village officials have also stepped up to look at future development and enact plans to help make it happen.

The Bad News in Vicksburg

In Vicksburg, the downtown merchants were shaken by the forfeiture of the Hill’s Pharmacy buildings, leaving a big hole for retailing on the west side of S. Main Street. The assumption is that Bob Dornbos’ building next door would be for sale once Dr. Ford moved into his new building on E. Prairie Street. Plus, the empty building that Skip Knowles owns next to Dornbos leaves the whole block in jeopardy. It will take a lot to revitalize this block.

The Good News in Vicksburg

At the same time, the façade of the former Doris Lee Sweet Shop at 103 E. Prairie is being gently sandblasted and repainted as will the adjacent building at 101 E. Prairie.

Progress is being made on the sale of the derelict Krum-Hallam car dealership at W. Prairie at Boulevard with the hope that this brownfield property can be redeveloped.

Rumor has it that The Dek, formerly The Vault, has been sold to a restaurateur from Portage with plans to reopen in the spring.

On Highway Street, the old flower shop at 108 has been sold and soon the mill at 300 W. Highway Street will be getting a facelift starting in the spring of 2018.

AVB has started building its second condo at Bridgeview next to Angels Crossing golf course. Its first one didn’t sell for several years but the company has come through with a promise to keep building upscale condos in that neighborhood.

Over at Centennial on 22nd Street, the houses are going up in the blink of an eye. It’s amazing to drive by one week to see new houses where vacant lots stood and the next week see several more frames being erected next door. These starter houses are bringing young children and families to the community that could be the key to revitalizing the downtown – but only if the marketing gurus can figure out how to attract them to Main and Prairie street stores, rather than going north to Portage or Kalamazoo.

That’s where the Downtown Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce can play a much bigger role, should they choose to do so.

On the Corner

sue injury cropBy Sue Moore

In the last week of July I finished writing a story about “Fear of Falling” for the August edition of the South County News, thinking it certainly doesn’t apply to me, being 79, in good health and still doing daily exercise routines.

Then, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon on August 6, it all came crashing down. I’m outside surveying my flower gardens, not watching out for rock steps on the hillside when I trip and go face down on the stone steps, hitting my forehead with a crash. I’m a wuss, I see blood streaming out of somewhere and run for a towel to stop the bleeding. OK, just lie down and it will go away, I think. Some ice would be nice. I go for the fridge and bleed all over it. But I achieve my objective.

A half hour goes by, I’m bored, I listen to the radio as I’m trying to decide what to do. Calling for the ambulance is not an option. I’m a wuss. Another half hour and I think the bleeding from my forehead has stopped. I go to the bathroom sink for a fresh washcloth and suddenly blood is spurting all over the mirror, the walls, the sink and I’m mopping it up with one towel after another.

I go back, lie down, and can’t get it stopped. I fear the ER, the ambulance service, the attention. These are people I know because I’ve been writing stories about the ambulance service for the past three months. I grab the phone, no, it will stop, no it won’t, I will call 911.

A calm voice at the sheriff’s department asks me to stay on the line while she contacts the Vicksburg EMS service. I hear Jesse answer while instructing the car to leave the station. No lights, no sirens, I want to say. That’s not an option.

In walks Amber in full triage mode. I know her well and now am grateful for her calm voice as there is so much blood in my eyes, I can’t see who has come to assist. I hear Tracy McMillan too. Who could miss his voice, urging me to go to the ER. I decline. Not an option they tell me. Well, I just wanted them to stop the bleeding and I’ll be ok. They look at the bathroom and decide it won’t be ok until I get treatment. They carefully bundle me on a stretcher (they are so kind and attentive, my fears have somewhat subsided).

I’ve never had to be the patient in an ambulance, so it was a new experience. Christian the paramedic hooks me up to all the vitals. I say no, not necessary. She insists. Which ER do you want to be taken to? Eh, I don’t know. Then I remember that Bronson advertises in the newspaper, so off we go up Sprinkle Road because of the construction. They want to start IVs and I say no, I’m still a wuss.

They deliver me to the ER door with care and concern, I’m whisked into a private cubicle with nurses, PA’s and others looking after me. The bleeding has subsided and I want out, right then and there. Too bad, I’m admitted. Kind doctors check in and out, there are others in greater need for sure. The decision is made. I’ll need some stiches. Now I really want out. I wait for what seems an eternity but it’s only about a half hour when the doc comes back with a long needle and some thread. He is from North Dakota State’s Medical School, serving his residency in the WMU Medical School program. He has a calming, voice and good bedside manner. Seven stitches later, I’m demanding to have them let me go.

I didn’t remember to bring my purse with me, so no phone, no glasses, no ability to remember local phone numbers because they are all locked up in my phone at home. I want out. I call back to SCEMS. Can you give me phone number for Wes Schmitt, the president of the ambulance service and my friend?

Yes. Wes had another commitment so he provides me with Steve Ellis’ phone number who serves on the board of this newspaper with Wes. Fortunately, the phone the ER has let me use has large digits on it or I never would have gotten a ride home as my family is all in the backwoods of Canada.

Steve is there and arrives just 30 minutes later to spring me. But alas, they need a CAT scan for concussion possibilities. We wait for the results. Negative. I’m on my way. It’s not a pretty sight, my forehead, that is. I’m thinking of all the possible stories to be told to explain why we should all have a healthy fear of falling. I’ve learned my lesson. Take precautions for exactly that and possibly enroll in the balance class offered by South County Community Services and the Area Agency on Aging.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

There are lots of moving parts in our two villages’ downtowns to report on this month.

Schoolcraft Vision Plan Nears Completion

Schoolcraft is wrapping up its Vision plan for downtown with a final public session scheduled for August 29 during the school’s open house from 5-8 p.m. at the Roy Davis football field.

It’s a hugely ambitious plan for Schoolcraft that is being presented to the public by Jordan Parker of Wightman & Associates. The company has been the guiding light behind what has been called “Reroute”. The next step will be in the hands of the Planning Commission as it takes the next five to six months to update the Master Plan and the ordinances which accompany it. Revision of the ordinances are the keys to implementation of the Vision plan, Parker said.

Changes in Downtown Vicksburg

It isn’t exactly musical chairs but several buildings have been bought and sold over the last few months. Brian Pitts is moving his insurance office from E. Prairie Street to 123 S. Main in a building he purchased from Evie Hall, owner of Home Again Consignments.

Across the street at 120 S. Main, Matt Bolton’s Edward Jones Investments has leased and remodeled a large space from Rudy and Fawn Callen. The building on 328 W. Prairie Street that had been the home of Bolton’s business has been purchased by Attorney Craig Rolfe with plans to move his practice from Kalamazoo.

The sad announcement that Hill’s Pharmacy at 110 S. Main closed at the end of June has left the first block of Main Street on the west side with a gaping hole. For the time being, Dr. Aaron Ford is occupying Dr. Bob Dornbos’s dental office at 102 S. Main for six months and then it will become available for lease or purchase. Next door to that is Ruthie’s art shop which closed last year. The owner, Skip Knowles, has a rental sign out and expects to possibly open it as a resale furniture store.

The Dek, formerly The Vault on W. Prairie looks forlorn this summer as owner Bonnie Granado closed it up in January. The liquor license has been sold and the building itself has a big for sale sign tacked out front.

Some good news is that the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (VCAC) will be moving to 101 E. Prairie for a short time and thence to 103 E. Prairie in the former Doris Lee Sweet Shop.

Julie Oswalt Makes a Move to WMU Medical Center

Brett Grossman of Grossman Law said goodbye to his long-time assistant Julie Oswalt recently as she has accepted a position in Kalamazoo as the Pediatric Residency Coordinator of Western Michigan University’s Medical School. She will fit very well into this new and exciting challenge for her, now that her two daughters are off to college.

John Fulton Has Surgery for Cancer

John Fulton, this newspaper’s religion writer for the last four years was diagnosed with his fourth form of cancer, this time in the lung, on his annual visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The doctors took out a portion of his lung and he is back in Vicksburg, riding his motorcycle and promising to beat this enemy, yet another time.

On the Corner

2017-06-25 01.02.16By Sue Moore

Once again, members of the greater Vicksburg community members stepped in to volunteer their time and talents to make a big event succeed.

The Vicksburg Historical Society was the official sponsor of the Battle of Sunset Lake, the Revolutionary War re-enactment. It took place on the grounds of the Prudential Nursery, the Historic Village and the community pavilion, but that hardly tells the complete story.

It could not have happened without the many volunteers who put in countless hours before, during and after the event. Hopefully, you will know the efforts were much appreciated by the organizers.

The Vicksburg Department of Public Works, the police department, Stella Shearer, Renee Hawkins (Boy Scouts) and Stefan Sekula did much of the initial planning. Robin Maple, Marian Steffens, Pam Garrett, the ladies of St. Martin’s Catholic Church, the Chapman Memorial Nazarene Church, the Vicksburg United Methodist Church, all helped to prepare the food for the 200 plus re-enactors. It is said that an army needs to march on a full stomach and this certainly was the case for the re-enactors as they loved the home cooked meal more than anything.

A dedicated group of volunteers called the “Gophers” worked tirelessly to help setup, take down and fetch needed items. They were headed by Donna Cratsenburg-Scott, Kevin Scott, Kathleen Greaver, Jennifer Grace, Allison Ring, Mary Ruple, Brian Freiberger, Steve, Kim and Jonathon Warner, Mike Hill, Chad Brady, John Polasek, and April Bryan.
Ron and Carol Wilson handled the parking duties as they have done for several years with the Harvest Festival so Ron brings tremendous experience to the job. Jason Gatlin and Skip Knowles for volunteering the use of their sound systems and the Vicksburg schools for the chairs that made the visitors much more comfortable than sitting on the ground.

The whole event would not have happened without Cindy and Charlie Krill allowing the use of their property as a campsite and the ice cream gift from Apple Knockers.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Already, the sale of Vicksburg Family Doctors medical practice to Bronson Health Care is reaping benefits. A new doctor, Zachary Koehn, has been recruited by Bronson to become part of the practice in Vicksburg, according to Dr. David Schriemer. Dr. Koehn has been a resident in the Western Michigan University Family Medicine practice in Kalamazoo for the past three years.

Clean-up Days in the Villages

Vicksburg has its annual spring trash pick-up on Saturday, May 6. Schoolcraft’s is on Saturday, May 20. It is one of the services of local government that is little noticed and costly, but if the village doesn’t do it, citizens will complain. It does help residents to clean out their garages and tidy up their property in the early spring.

Lots of other clean-up efforts have been underway too, with the Lions Club making a serious dent in the weeds that come up along the Sunset Lake beach. The Little League fields in both communities have been spiffed up for the start of play. The Rotary Club and then the Victorian Garden Club volunteers literally dug into the grounds at the Historic Village to get them ready for the historic buildings to be opened to the public. They had help from a few Cub Scouts and the Boy Scout team of Todd White and his Eagle Scout son Tanner White.

In Fulton, Jason Gatlin, the township supervisor, organized a work crew to clear the Fulton cemetery of weeds, trash and twigs to get ready for their big Memorial Day parade.

The Vicksburg cemetery, owned by Schoolcraft Township, had a big tree cutting operation in the old part of the cemetery. Four ash trees had suffered from the emerald ash borer, leaving them an unsightly mess until this last weekend. Todd Pryor and his work crew from Climax contracted the job at a cost of $6,600 and managed to successfully work around all the gravestones that complicated their work but survived unscathed.

Gazette’s Dream Team for Basketball

Sportswriters at the Kalamazoo Gazette named Caleb Eustice of Schoolcraft to its 2016 Dream Team. Deondre Lovell of Vicksburg was named to the honorable mention team. For its Girls Basketball Dream Team honorable mention, they picked Gabi Saxman and Lydia Goble of Schoolcraft and Layna Steele of Vicksburg.

Post Office Delivery Quirks for this Newspaper

While interviewing the new postmaster in Vicksburg the question was asked what people should do if they don’t receive the South County News each month in their mail. It shouldn’t happen, Travis Graham said, but if it does, the resident should call him personally (649-0148) and he will try to find out why. That shouldn’t happen because the South County News is paying .18 cents per copy so it can be delivered to every mailbox in the 49087, 49097, and the Scotts half of the 49088 zip codes, for a total of 8,891 deliveries. You can see how those costs mount up.

Correction to the Heart & Hands Story in Last Month’s Issue

The pre-school at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church will be accepting registrations for classes three days a week in the morning for four-year-old children and two days a week for three-year-olds. The morning sessions are based upon Christian teachings, including Bible lessons. The afternoon classes are not co-op and do not include religious teachings.

On the Corner

books winners
The team “Readers, Readers, Everywhere” won the Battle of the Books that the Schoolcraft Library sponsors each year. The members of the team are front row: Grant VanWoert, Brady Young. Back row: Tyler Fenwick, Morgan Zagar, Sunset Lake teacher and Battle coordinator Jenny Taylor, Clara Centofanti, Molly Young. Coaches of the team were Tamara Young and Alicia Zagar.

By Sue Moore

A kayak water trail is in the development stage for the chain of lakes and rivers in the Vicksburg area.

It started with Ron Smith, a village council member and resident living on Sunset Lake. He noticed how many people were using the boat launch near his house to put their kayaks into the water and paddle up stream. He reasoned that this waterway is navigable, especially in the spring, and as far south to the St. Joseph River if someone really wanted a workout. Smith also serves on the village’s Parks and Recreation Committee. He proposed to members the idea of marking a water trail and putting it on the state register of trails.

The committee agreed. Members mentioned the proposal to the Angels Crossing committee. Golf Pro Jeff Rohrstaff saw the potential and is now planning a small dock for kayakers to pull up and stop into the clubhouse for food and beverages.

Smith just launched a “Sunset Lake Water Trail” page on Facebook to help promote the lake, park and Vicksburg as a tourist destination.The URL is facebook.com/sunsetlakewatertrail/ This represents the first step in putting Vicksburg on the map as part of the Michigan water trail system (see: michiganwatertrails.org).

Power Line Decision

Vicksburg and Schoolcraft villages were recently notified that the upgrade and route of the new transmission power line connecting the two villages by Indiana Michigan Power company has been determined. Due to citizens coming forth to protest the preferred pathway along W Avenue into the transformer in Vicksburg on Draper Street, it will now traverse the railroad bed as it parallels W Avenue from Portage Road into the village. That is good news for the residents of Greensborough who were objecting to the unsightliness of the line going across the entry to their residential area.

Classes Scheduled Again for Seniors Who Fear Falling

A Matter of Balance class will begin again this month at the Vicksburg United Methodist church on April 21 and go through May 16, from 1-3 p.m. Two-hour classes are held twice a week for four weeks and cost $15 for materials. Contact Marilyn Reed at the Area Agency on Aging, 373-5224 to enroll or for further information. The classes help seniors who have concerns about falling. It is designed to manage falls and increase activity levels.

Vicksburg Family Home Care has Moved

Terry and Sara Barnes have moved their family home care business from their home to an office at 111 W. Prairie Street in Vicksburg across the alley from Apple Knockers. The office number is 269-762-2092, cell phone is 269-472-5211. Terry says he is still providing the same great service; it’s just more visible now.

Pancake Breakfast at Schoolcraft United Methodist church

The Men’s group at the Schoolcraft United Methodist church is having its annual pancake breakfast on Saturday, April 15 at the church from 7:30 to 10 a.m. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children. Those five and under get to eat for free. The funds go to benefit local nonprofit agencies.