Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

After nearly six months, our school children are returning to classrooms which are operating differently. Our communities continue to adjust our regular activities, and many of the events we look forward to have been cancelled or postponed. This current state is challenging our patience. Despite these disappointments, there are still many interesting things happening in South County.

Exciting Discovery at the Mill

Environmental researchers discovered a colony of snuffbox mussels in a section of the Portage Creek which runs along the Mill property. Native to eastern North America, this freshwater mussel is listed as endangered in both the United States and Canada. To read more about this exciting find, go to https://vicksburgmill.com/.

Pumpkin Decorating Contest

One of the joys of fall are the beautiful, bright-colored pumpkins that adorn our porches and yards. The Vicksburg Historical Society, together with the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, are hosting the ever-popular pumpkin-decorating contest. This sounds like fun! Check the organizations’ websites or Facebook pages for upcoming details. Entry forms will be available at http://vicksburghistory.org/pumpkins.

7th Annual Vicksburg Lions Club Golf Outing

The Vicksburg Lions Club supports our community with time and money. The summer festival, their big fundraiser was cancelled this year. Golfers can help fund their area projects by supporting the annual Golf Outing. This important club event will be held Saturday, September 19 at States Golf Club. Shotgun start at 11. For more information, contact Ryan Freeland (269) 290-4381 or Dawn Freeland (269) 910-2758.

Tractor Parade

Preschool-age farm kids, my great-nephew Grady and his sister Addy, were surprised and thrilled by the tractors parading down their street several weeks ago. The Kalamazoo Valley Antique Tractor & Machinery Club hosted this Tractor Ride in place of their cancelled annual show. Organized by Vicksburg resident Dale Sult, tractors arrived from as far away as Lansing, Charlotte, Three Oaks and Plymouth, Ind. The caravan of 53 tractors, which covered more than a half mile, slowly passed 12 of the quilt barns and historic buildings of the Vicksburg Quilt Trail and then drove up Main St., waving to kids (and the kids-at-heart) along the route who stopped to stare!

Fall Bike Celebration

This sounds like a perfect autumn activity! The second annual Fall Bike Celebration Weekend will highlight attractions in and around the village of Vicksburg and southwest Michigan from September 18-20. This weekend has been meticulously planned with countless activities for all ages. Registration and a complete list of details are available at www.fallbikecelebration.org.

Quilt Trail Presentation

A Vicksburg Quilt Trail presentation will be held Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. at the Vicksburg District Library. Learn how quilt trails began, how Vicksburg started a trail and how to paint a quilt. Attendees will also learn about each of the 24 quilts on barns in the surrounding countryside and on historic buildings in town.

On the Corner

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Summer

This summer was certainly unlike any summer we remember: the cancellation of the 4th of July parade and fireworks, the postponement and eventual cancellation of the Old Car Festival.

We are saddened by this loss of normalcy, but some things stay the same: the fireflies dancing during the July nights; the smiles of children as they hold their dripping ice cream cones; the produce proudly displayed at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. I hope we can all enjoy the seasonal bounty and beauty Michigan has to offer, despite the challenges we are currently facing.

Our Appreciation

Thank you, readers, for your response to our semi-annual fund drive and request for your continued financial support. We are grateful for your generous contributions which make possible this publication.

Thanks, also, for the emails we have received with story ideas or kind supporting words. The South County News team is navigating a new course without our Sue, and we all appreciate your patience as we lift some these new sails and gradually gain some speed and confidence.

Schoolcraft Visit

On a mid-July afternoon, I spent several lovely hours with “Sue’s Women” – formerly known as “The Wild Women of Schoolcraft.” I sat with this wonderful gift of new friends in the Bergland family’s gardens; the dappled shade and the light breeze was so kind, as was the conversation and fellowship. I continue to be thankful for the gracious people who occupy our part of the county.

Fire Truck Parade

On the 4th of July, the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority vehicle parade honored our communities. Starting in Schoolcraft at 2 p.m., the procession began, proceeded to Vicksburg, then Fulton. With lights and sirens going, drivers and passengers waved at many smiling, surprised residents. Thanks to all who made this possible!

Craig Rolfe’s Tribute

Craig Rolfe sent a lovely note about Sue. (The letter in its entirety appears on our South County News website.) His words continue the praise of this remarkable woman. Thank you, Craig.
Enjoy the beauty of late summer and the anticipation of fall.

On the Corner

Kateri Trelles.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

And so it starts…

Composing this column, started by Meredith Clark, continued by his daughter, Sue Moore, and now passed to me, is a humbling task. I remember Meredith, but I knew Sue well; she was an important part of my growing up and was a vibrant member of “The Martini Club,” the subject of “It’s a Fine Life” this month.

The South County News team has committed to the continued producing and publishing of this paper. Sue worked to improve our community and to document life here in Southwest Michigan. We will do our best to do the same.

Here is what the team at South County News needs from its readership:

Patience and grace during this time of transition.

Continued financial support. The paper will not survive without it.

SCN is Visible in the Classrooms

I am a teacher at Vicksburg High School. At the front of my classroom is a bulletin board titled “Bulldogs in the News.” Throughout the year, I staple pictures and articles from the South County News. My high school students love it. They enjoy seeing their own images and their friends’ faces in the many shots included in the paper. This visual presence helps my students feel a part of our community and remember that there are many people who care about them. By the end of the school year, I have layers and layers of photos.

VHS Graduate Returns to Vicksburg

I am continually pleased and amazed by former area graduates who return to our area for retirement. Carole McCallum, 1976 VHS grad, is another former classmate returning to her roots. Carole is a professional bassoonist, retiring after a professional career in Los Angeles. We spent a wonderful afternoon with Carole, her husband Leon, and several other friends, catching up and concluding that southwest Michigan is a great place to live. Welcome, Carole and Leon!

Kayak Engagement on Sunset Lake

Bronson primary care doctor Evan Fitzgerald borrowed Dave and Paula Schriemer’s kayaks one warm Saturday in May and proposed to his fiancé, Kateri Trelles. Evan shares that he and Kat met in Washington D.C. and moved to the area a year ago. COVID-19 put a halt to any “fancy” plans Evan could make, so he took Dave up on his polite offer of borrowing the kayaks for an adventure. Dave is happy to report that the kayaks remained upright and the ring ended up on Kat’s finger, not at the bottom of the Sunset Lake! Congratulations, Evan and Kat!

Showcase Memory of Sue

Dani Carpenter-Littel expressed her grief about Sue’s passing and her own special Sue story. Last January, Sue stopped and knocked on Dani’s door right before The Vicksburg Rotary Showcase practices began, inviting Dani to be a part of the chorus. Sue had heard Dani was a singer, and she invited Dani to join. Even though Dani has a strong music and theater background, she wasn’t sure about it. But Sue persisted, stressing that for the first time, women would be part of the chorus. That did it. Dani joined the cast, and she loved being a part of the show. “Sue just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It was a small thing to her but a huge thing to me. I will always appreciate that gesture.”

Awards Continue for Local Author

Hadley Moore’s book Not Dead Yet and Other Stories, which came out in September 2019, after winning Autumn House Press’s 2018 Fiction Prize, was longlisted in December for the 2020 Pen/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection. This spring, Moore, a Vicksburg resident, also learned it had won the 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award’s short story/anthology category, as well as a First Horizon Award for debut books; and was recently shortlisted for the short story category of the Rubery Book Award, out of the UK.

On Sue’s Corner

Note: This column was typically the last thing Sue Moore composed prior to going to print with the South County News. She didn’t have a chance to write her column. It was drafted by Linda Lane, with input from Board Members Bob Ball, Wes Schmitt, Steve Ellis and Sheri Freeland.

Sue Moore, editor, publisher, writer, photographer, co-founder of the South County News and president of its board of trustees, passed away during the production of this issue.

The changes to life in the world with coronavirus were inconceivable for everyone. As the South County News illustrated in April and May, we’ve been contending with debilitating social and economic changes. It has turned our world upside down.

The virus isn’t the only thing that’s turned things upside down around this newspaper.

The editor and publisher of the South County News, Sue Moore, passed away on Thursday, May 28, 2020; she did not die from complications or as a result of the Coronavirus. This devastating loss will be endured by many in our South County communities, including Sue Moore’s family, friends, neighbors, and community leaders and organizers. We can’t believe she is gone.

The South County News Board of Directors discussed repeatedly – with Sue, of course – who would fill the shoes as editor and publisher should anything happened to Sue, the editor, heart, and soul of the South County News. Although one can logically discuss the subject as a possibility, it was not entirely believable that a woman so spry, radiant, engaged, intelligent, funny and vivacious could suddenly leave us the way she has. The loss of our leader has left us numb and worried for the viability of the newspaper.

The board never managed to achieve any succession plan or hire an assistant editor. Developing a plan to pull the paper through this devastating loss seems like an enormous task; finding a replacement for this competent, skilled editor will be an enormous challenge. There aren’t many people who are willing to invest the time, energy and dedication to publish the South County News the way Sue Moore did. We just need to push on, because it’s what Sue Moore would insist we do.

Sue was the guts of the South County News. The vast majority of those who knew Sue admired and adored her for all she contributed, as they watched her dedicate her life and work for the community’s good.

Working with her parents, Meredith and Bernice Clark and their newspaper, The Vicksburg Commer-cial Newspaper, Sue grew up in the newspaper business and earned her stripes working for their paper. She knew the business inside and out.

Sue knew nearly everyone, not just in Vicksburg but Schoolcraft as well, as she attended township and village board meetings, school board meetings, historical meetings, farmer’s market meetings, rotary meetings, community events – the list goes on and on. Many people, many groups, will feel the loss of Sue Moore for years to come.

Our hearts go out deeply to Sue’s family, who shared their mom and grandmother with the rest of us. She was an inspiration to those who had the pleasure of working with her. We know how much she believed in the good in our communities and people. It was what inspired her to pour the last years of her life into generating the stories of the fine people who live here and contribute to bettering our communities. Sue was the heart of every good story in the South County News. She made things happen. She embodied the goodness of our area in the great state of Michigan.

We don’t know where we will go from here with this loss. We don’t know how Sue can possibly be replaced, because she really can’t be. But the South County News, just like the opening of the Farmers’ Market, the Rotary Showcase and much more, should forge on. It’s what Sue would want all of us to do.

When Sue celebrated her 80th birthday in 2018, many community leaders came together, surprising her with a “Farm to Table Dinner” celebration in her honor. She was shocked by it but she deserved it. She’s made an impact on many lives. Kudos to all of those who made that happen, so Sue could feel the ap-preciation from everyone present and how much she has meant. To all of us. For all she’s done.

In spite of multiple restrictions imposed on all of us due to coronavirus, we hope these communities will somehow find a way to celebrate her inspiring life and immense contributions to our communities. She certainly deserves it.

The July issue of the South County News will feature a tribute to Sue Moore. The Board of Trustees would like to receive your comments and tributes in memory of Sue. Please email them to Linda Lane, 829lane@gmail.com, or by US Mail to:

Wes Schmitt
South County News
PO Box 723
Schoolcraft, MI 49087

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Recently, I put on my best bib and tucker, some makeup that I haven’t used in many weeks, combed my hair and got ready for my first Zoom meeting. The camera on my computer that sees all and reports all means I can no longer laze around in the morning in my pj’s until noon.

To Zoom with the best of them, one needs to sit up straight, stop drinking out of the water mug, pay attention, no scratching of any body part, don’t let the dog in, no waving of hands in front of the camera – so distracting to others and draws way too much attention my way. Maybe I need to practice getting the background of my office just right, so folks will think the housekeeping is in good order around here.

If you haven’t had to Zoom, it’s your good fortune. This is what public and even private meetings have come down to these long days of the coronavirus malaise. I prefer to attend governmental meetings in person, just to get the tenor of the participants as they speak their parts. But, I must admit, it’s been a blessing to stay home in front of the computer while attending the many meetings that I usually have on my calendar.

It’s hard to even remember what day it is, given that they all seem to blend in together, even with the Zoom meetings being scheduled that I’m trying to remember.

Accolades to the South County News Staff

The May issue of the South County News marks a full seven years that we have been publishing the newspaper. The years have gone by so fast, it’s pretty much a blur. What I know is that the team that is responsible for bringing the print and electronic version to you each month is dedicated to the cause.

The unsung hero behind the scenes, keeping track of the finances, is Wes Schmitt. He has been on board since the very beginning. It just wouldn’t happen without him making sure we had enough money in the bank to pay our printer and the post office each month.

Sheri Freeland is our advertising sales guru that we lured into service when it appeared we needed a better system to contact advertisers, who along with individual donors are the backbone of this local newspaper. Through her work, our readers can find services that would never be able to get the word out any other way to the general public. She is a delight to work with and a good communicator in a business that is all about communications.

Justin Gibson, our graphic designer, has put up with my dubious deadlines for almost six years. He is a saint. Never complains, always steady, extremely talented, gets it done every month, just as the bell rings for our 8 a.m. press date. He makes our ads beautiful and the pages pop so artistically, you would think he was an art major in college. Instead he teaches writing at WMU (Graphic designer’s note: I double majored in art and writing).

Our intrepid copy editor, Bob Ball, keeps me in particular along with all of our writers, more professional than we really are, due to his sharp pencil and great knowledge of the English language. He also has a gift for ferreting out the details in a story that we may have missed or just assumed everyone would know. I’m very proud of how the written word in the South County News is received by our readers. It’s due in large part to Bob’s efforts to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

The “stringers” who keep reporting each month are the editor’s eyes and ears. They get paid a pittance but are loyal and hard working beyond belief. They all answered the call this month as I couldn’t leave the house to go collect information or interview anyone, other than by phone. I am deeply grateful to the following writers: Rob Peterson, Jef Rietsma, Travis Smola, Bob Ball, Syd Bastos, Kathy Forsythe, Betsy Connolly, Linda Lane (who, like Wes, Sheri and Bob, also serves on the SCN nonprofit board), Deb Christiansen and John Fulton. Mark Blentlinger and his wife, Stephanie, are usually present to cover sports in Schoolcraft, there wasn’t much for them to do this month.
Your support means everything to keep this newspaper alive and well.

Tidbits

P.J. Callahan, Vicksburg High School graduate and recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad, took a job with the Seattle Mariners last fall as their environmental and sustainability coach. I’m happy to report that he still has a job, even though the team isn’t on the field and the fans are not in their seats. He came back to Michigan to ride this out and is working remotely for the Mariners these days.

“My role has included managing $4 million in capital upgrades to the stadium in building systems. I am leading sustainability efforts at T-Mobile Park with the installation of LED lighting and more efficient HVAC systems. I lead the team’s Earth Day initiatives. In the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the state of our season, I am working to ensure the health and safety of our office members while trying to explore new ways to engage in sustainability in a newly shaped economy,” Callahan said. He once was a pitcher on his high school and college teams, never dreaming he would end up with the Mariners.

“I am looking forward to getting back to Seattle and back to the ballpark, although I don’t expect to see any baseball in Seattle in 2020,” Callahan said.

Bob Hayward Takes a Lawnmower Ride to the Doctor

When MaryAnn and Bob Hayward returned from their winter stay in Florida in early April, the Vicksburg couple learned the battery in their Prius was dead. Their motorhome didn’t have insurance on it, and Bob couldn’t activate it quickly – he had retired from his Vicksburg insurance business.

Next day he had an early morning appointment with Doctor Dave, only a few blocks away from his home. It was cold and he didn’t want to walk. What to do in order to get there on time? Hop on the riding lawnmower seemed to be the best solution. Its battery was working, so off he went and parked it in a regular car space, since he’s not handicapped. He said he did think about parking it on the lawn, but he thought the lawn care guys might come by and claim it.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” so said Charles Dickens in the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities.

People are dying because of the novel coronavirus pandemic all over the world. Yet kindness and empathy are being displayed everywhere.

Right here in our small towns of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg, we experience school being called off, athletic contests cancelled, yet teachers are doing great work with assignments and communicating wherever it is needed. Breakfast and lunch programs have begun at each school with pickups taking place once a week for any family that wants it.

So many in the service industry are out of a job, many thousands in the state of Michigan applying for unemployment insurance this week. Yet people are trying to help, purchasing gift cards from stores and using take-out from our restaurants to keep them at least treading water.

Our health care workers are bearing the brunt of the disease and risking their lives to keep us all alive. By observing the quarantine edict from the Governor, we can help them all.

Is There a Silver Lining?

There seems to be a lot of respect shown to the “elderly”. Although I’ve resisted being put in that category, I really had to face up to it when Vicksburg’s village manager politely requested that I not attend the village council meeting, as he didn’t want me to be exposed to any possible virus. Fortunately, I was able to cover the meeting via the new streaming service the village started in January.

It actually worked very well and I would recommend that anyone interested in how our village government functions plan to watch on the first and third Monday night of each month at 7 p.m. The April meeting will only take place on the 20th. There were 10 people watching it including me and probably Bill Adams, village president, whose wife Carolyn, insisted that he stay home too.

Personalizing the News

It’s been a long two weeks while trying to get the paper out without ever meeting anyone face to face. It’s been a challenge to say the least. I never recognized how much news I gathered just by going to meetings. People often ask me where I get the news and my answer is always there is so much going on, it’s easy. This week, it hasn’t been so easy because I haven’t been out of the house for 17 days. I’ve had to email and call (I don’t like being on the phone a lot) and because you can’t look people in the eye, it’s hard to gauge the tenor of their responses. With lots of help from Sheri Freeland, our advertising sales representative and our reporters, we’re getting the job done.

An Apology to Kalamazoo County State Bank (KCSB)

In my column last month, I thought I chastised PNC Bank for closing up shop in Vicksburg. Instead the board members of KCSB felt that I was throwing their bank under the bus with my comments. That was certainly not my intention as they have proven their durability over the years, having been in business in Schoolcraft for 112 years and in Vicksburg for 24 years. “We have given back to our communities in so many ways,” said Scott Hines, bank president. My comments made it look like they hadn’t done much in the villages over these years, which is not what I meant at all. They are a community bank and as such, have given back ten-fold to our population, in personal ways and public contributions, especially with the 4th of July celebration in Schoolcraft.

On the Corner

IMG_6520
Vicksburg’s branch of the PNC Bank on N. Main Street.

By Sue Moore

A few weeks ago, rumors were swirling at the coffee clutch that PNC Bank was closing its Vicksburg branch. Turns out they were true, according to the bank’s spokesperson, Marcey Zwiebel. This action leaves a gaping hole in downtown Vicksburg with the building going up for sale as soon as the official closing takes place on May 15.

Zwiebel claims there are plenty of other PNC branches nearby to serve the area with the Vicksburg business being transferred to the Lake Center branch at Portage Road and Centre Street. “The evolution of branch banking was an important part of this decision,” Zwiebel said. “We are undergoing branch consolidation in these changing times and they involve tough decisions. The usage in Vicksburg was down, with many of our Vicksburg customers already banking at our other branches. The impact on the community is part of the consideration, but it isn’t the only part of the equation. We have a network of ATMs at 300 Speedway locations across the state and in 7-Elevens to serve customers.”

She indicated that all customers were notified via letters mailed on Friday, Feb. 14. This writer still hasn’t received any notification even though I have a checking account there and a safe deposit box. In fact, I have been a bank customer with whatever the title was on the front door in the building since I was a teenager, long ago.

Having a strong bank presence in any community is important to its strength and quality of life. It’s important to have a good financial institution as a stand-up member of the community. Let’s hope that Kalamazoo County State Bank will move to fill this gap.

In the meantime, Lynette Wolthuis, who has worked as a teller and jack of all trades, will be retiring after 38 years as a teller and lead teller who knew the customers by name. The other personnel were promised new opportunities at PNC locations.

Memories

Banking isn’t what it used to be when the likes of Jim Oswalt in Vicksburg and Merle Highland in Schoolcraft were running the show. You could count on personal attention to your financial needs. I remember Highland telling me he couldn’t in all good conscience give me a loan to buy a business in 1982 because the interest rates were so usurious at 15 to 16 percent at that time. He did me a favor. With these two at the helm, it was all about serving the community. They would counsel their customers so they wouldn’t get in too deep and yet loan the money needed to keep businesses going in both good and bad times.

When the Farmers State Bank failed in Vicksburg during the Depression, shareholders were on the block to make good on all of the savings and checking accounts to see that they got their money back. It wasn’t easy, but that was the nature of banking back then.

Even More On the Corner

IMG_6499By Sue Moore

I don’t ordinarily write in this column about myself or my family because I was taught by my parents not to do that. When you run a newspaper, it’s all about the people you cover in the community, not yourself. That was their mantra as owners of the Vicksburg Commercial-Express.

Now I digress, because I was gifted with a puppy, part German shepherd and part collie, for Christmas by my kids. It was a total but welcome surprise as I had been suggesting it quietly for many moons.

This gift turned out to be a rescue dog from Kentucky and we brought him home in the middle of a snowstorm. That’s pretty much what he has been experiencing ever since he got here, with a few melt- downs in between.

Trooper has had two weeks of puppy training from an acclaimed trainer that Tina and Larry Forsyth put me in touch with. He pretty much flunked the first week because all he wanted to do was socialize and I guess that is forbidden. The second one he understood that he needed to shape up, but more importantly, I needed to too.

What I really want to do is teach the Trooper how to hunt for golf balls, like they teach dogs and pigs in France to look for truffles. But all he wants to do is visit the neighbor’s two dogs and cavort in the snow that has fallen most recently.

Meanwhile, the decimation from the puppy chewing has been notable. My purse was the first target for him to chew because I left it right where he could grab it. The furniture probably was the second. He has added to his collection of chewables all the water bottles in the house that somehow are at his eye level (he’s already grown a foot taller; it seems). He first devoured the leather leash that was loaned to me by biting it clean through before he experienced any long lovely walks with his new owner.

He eats a prodigious amount of dog food which will probably mean I’ll need to go on short rations myself, just to feed this Christmas gift. That’s ok, because the local vet has made sure he doesn’t have any worms, fleas, ticks, heartworm, and gosh knows what else.

With all of this, Trooper is a joy every day, even when he proudly brings home the neighbor’s best snow boots to chew upon. He makes me laugh, and cry, but more importantly, he is turning out to be a great companion. I’m afraid of the coyotes that lurk in my yard, but he doesn’t seem to be, which is a problem. The deer are a challenge that he sees but doesn’t chase and then there are the geese that just arrived last week. That was fun for him. I think the golf course people will appreciate his giving chase to the geese and maybe even find a few golf balls in exchange.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Has anyone ever seen John Gisler, the Kalamazoo County Commissioner who represents the south county area, in any item of apparel other than the shirt with the red, white and blue stars and stripes emblazoned on it? This reporter got to wondering if he ever takes it off long enough to launder it since he appears at almost every meeting I attend.

The mystery is solved, upon my asking him a most personal question at the Schoolcraft Township board meeting in January. Turns out he has 11 identical shirts like this, all given to him periodically for gifts by his family members. I’m thinking he must not be too hard to shop for at Christmas and birthdays.

Thieves Break into Vicksburg Businesses

Four stores were broken into in downtown Vicksburg in one night in January, including Shear Beauty, Geek Genius, McCallum Accounting and Brian Pitts Insurance at 123 S. Main. Cameras appear to track one person at about 4 a.m. walking from Pitts’ office north to McCallum’s building on the corner of Main and E. Prairie, but the figure has not been identified as yet. Police Chief Scott Sanderson says the case is open with several leads being worked diligently. The thief got away with a Chromebook computer from Pitts and iPad tablet from the beauty shop. Geek Genius was hit the hardest with some of their gear and petty cash taken in the break-in.

Academy of Rock Musicians

Schoolcraft High School band members are also students at the Kalamazoo Academy of Rock (KAR). They have been selected to participate in a show with Matt Giraud, an artist from Kalamazoo who finished 5th in the 8th season of American Idol. The students are John Chapin, Elsa Petersen and Chance Evans.

The spring KAR show is March 21 at the State Theater in Kalamazoo. Giraud will be headlining that show and working with many of the KAR students, having them perform on stage with him.

Leeanne Seaver Edits Just Released Book

Leeanne Seaver, a 1977 Vicksburg High School graduate, moved back to Vicksburg about seven years ago and immediately became involved in volunteering in her hometown. She is a professional writer who has contributed several articles for this newspaper. She is a close friend of Kathy Forsythe, who writes a monthly column for us. Both belong to a local writers’ club.

Seaver is celebrating the recent book launch of Slings & Arrows, a book by David Bland. It is about how toxic narratives perpetuate poverty in Indian country. She did a lot of rewriting and contributing to the book as a developmental edit/editor. Read: literary midwife she exclaimed! “I’m so proud of it . . . it feels like “part of the solution, not just more of the problems in Indian Country,” she said.

Two more of her books she is working on are launching this spring—one a full write/full credit and another co-authored. Both are business-genre type books, Seaver said.

Census Takers

The 2020 census that will be taken of every person in the United States, is having troubles hiring enough people as census takers, even at the rate of $20.50 per hour in this area. Getting counted is important for our local governments in several ways. Federal dollars flow down through the states and municipalities based in part on the head counts of everyone living here. The numbers also determine how many members of Congress each state is given. If our population has declined, we stand to lose a seat at the table in Congress.

The first round of counting will be online, which is a huge change from the old days of someone actually coming to the door and asking how many people live in a house. The census takers will actually fan out to find those haven’t supplied their information online. They will try to find more people that might be hiding from fear of being counted. They promise that everyone’s data is secret and will not be shared with any other federal agency.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

The Christmas parade winners in Vicksburg’s Christmas in the Village event found Frederick Construction staff outdoing itself to take first place with a lighted float. It’s really great to see such imagination and participation in the parade as all of the entries displayed. Second place went to the Vicksburg village Department of Public Works for its lighted decoration of its plow truck. Third place went to the Special Olympics float.

Alex Lee, assistant to the village manager, was charged with obtaining judges for the parade. They included Congressman Fred Upton, Portage City Mayor Patricia Randall, County Treasurer Mary Balkema and Stephanie Mallery.

Mike Frederick described his company’s entry: “Our float was designed by Chad Kandow, our estimator, and Brandy Wisz, our comptroller. The costumes were designed and created by Brandy Wisz, Julie Stoll and Rachael Dedes. The basic idea came from the movie “How to Train your Dragon”.

“The lead builders were Greg Dedes, Chad Kandow, Ryan Collins, supported by the Frederick Construction employees. The float deck and dragon jail were constructed out of wood framing material, metal conduit, and concrete reinforcement fabric. It had approximately 9,000 individual LED lights, 18 special-effect motion lights, 180 feet of LED rope lights, a lighted fog machine and a sound machine. The dragon was constructed out of metal tubing, wire mesh , and 55 cans of spray foam. The wings were constructed out of metal tubing and sheets of pipe insulation.

“We intend to repurpose all of the material, some of which will be used for next year’s float. Who knows where the dragon will end up? The Frederick team really enjoyed walking the parade route watching the reaction of the kids and their parents.”
“All of the floats were outstanding,” Frederick said. “The competition was tough and knowing the competitors that will be part of the 2020 parade the Frederick Team has already started the planning for next year! Stay tuned!”

Toy Train Display at the Historic Village

A total of 339 visitors caught the excitement of the toy train setup in the Historic Village over three weekends in December, according to Joe Timko, who sets up the display each year. “The attendance on the afternoon of the parade is always plus or minus since so many people come in a relatively short period of time. A better estimate would be “a whole bunch” he said.

He collected $117.37 in donations. “Our operation was greatly aided by two very generous toy train donations in 2019. The first was a postwar group of trains which were not suited for our layout. But I sold it and then purchased a badly needed replacement set of Grand Trunk Western diesels for $400, at no cost to the Society. On the day of the parade we also received a Grand Trunk Western collection of very nicely custom decorated engines and cars, some of which we immediately incorporated into our running layout, much to the delight of the donor,” Timko said. “Most importantly, we couldn’t have done it without the help of Ben Maxey (set-up), Rick Davison, Phil Timko, and Justin Plankenhorn (running the trains) and the Historical Society members supplying us with cookies to keep the guys who run the trains running.”

Brownfield Presentation in L.A.

The Mill at Vicksburg was featured in a talk by Jackie Koney at the 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference in Los Angeles. Entitled “All Roads Lead to Vicksburg”, Koney told about the public-private partnership that is saving the former Lee Paper company mill from the wrecking ball. Cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National Brownfields Training Conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties.

Prairie View Park Update

The attorney for the Johnson family that was litigating to keep control of their property inside of Prairie View Park in Schoolcraft Township reported on a small success in their effort against Kalamazoo County. The issue was first mentioned in the South County News’ November edition.

Attorney Randell Levine had sued the county for the Johnson family, alleging a violation of the state open meetings act in 2019. In his plea, he said the County Board of Commissioners had decided in a closed meeting to “take” the property which had been in the family since the 1930’s.

Circuit Court Judge Curtis Bell’s opinion in December ruled that the county commissioners violated the Open Meetings Act and “jumped the gun” in an attempt to condemn a family-owned lakefront property inside the park. He said the county board had made the decision without public input following a series of meetings conducted behind closed doors. He threw out the board’s decision and ruled the issue must be revisited in open session at a future meeting.

Judge Bell also said the land-owners had a right to talk with their county commissioner, John Gisler and ask him to hear them out but they were denied that by the county attorney, Beth White. She was subsequently fired from her job, likely not about this issue alone.

Beekeepers Meet on Feb. 5

While bees are the furthest thing from most people’s minds right now, the Kalamazoo Bee School is attempting to beat winter blues with its annual bee school. It’s February 15, at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and offers classes for new-bees, experienced beekeepers and nature lovers. More information may be found at http://www.kalamazoobeeclub.com.

Schoolcraft’s own Charlotte Hubbard is president of the club and will be teaching bee keeping classes. Dr. James Tew is the keynote speaker.