Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

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The Boy Scout cabin on Barton Lake.

By Sue Moore

Boy Scouts Troop 251

Not many people know of the Boy Scout cabin that sits on a bluff, high above Barton Lake on the west side. It was built by volunteers from the Rotary Club in Vicksburg and many others back in 1948, expressly for the scouts’ use.

Over the years it has been a great place for kids to learn about nature, camp out and conduct troop meetings. Although the scouting program nationwide has changed dramatically, the cabin itself has not. Troop 251 leaders have done the best they can with limited resources to plug holes in the walls, re-roof the cabin and provide working toilet facilities.

Some really big projects need to be undertaken in the near future, the leaders say. But how to raise the funds has been something of a mystery. In 2017 they formed a 501c3 nonprofit called Friends of Vicksburg Youth that can accept tax-deductible donations. Now they are asking for big money to fix the siding, the septic system, insulate the structure, construct ADA- and gender-compliant bathrooms as just a few of the many upgrades needed, while wondering how to raise the money.

If any grown up scouts or friends of scouting might want to join ranks with the board to work with them to plan and raise the funds, they would be overjoyed. Key board members include Kip Young, Kevin Borden, Jim Jastifer, Gary Miller and Matt VanderMeulen. They can be contacted at FOVY1948@gmail.com.

Kalamazoo Airport

Runway construction at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek regional airport will get underway on June 10 and be completed by June 26, as scheduled currently. Anyone booking flights for those days will need to try Grand Rapids, South Bend or Lansing as alternates according to John Gisler, Kalamazoo County Commissioner from South County.

An Embarrassment of Bakery Riches

Two cupcake shops are scheduled to open in Vicksburg this summer. The first one, Cakes and More, posts that it will be open in May at the previous Apple Knockers location. The second one owned by Rebecca Tinklenberg called Butters Bakehouse looks to be ready to open in the summer next door to China One. In the meantime, Butters can be found at the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market on Fridays this season.

Apple Knockers is hoisting its flag in early May at its new location on the Sunset Lake pond. That will be greeted with a giant cheer when folks can look out over the water from the prow of its new vessel on warm summer days.

Another new shop that sells antiques and other treasures has just opened at 200 S. Main in Julie Merrill’s Rawlinson Appliance store.

A Serious Typo

Last month the South County News ran a picture of Todd Glenn and Jaspare Scavone accepting an award from Chamber of Commerce President Mandy Miller. I inadvertently listed the well-known Jaspare with the wrong last name. My humble apologies to the guy who started Jaspare’s pizza parlor many years ago. I should have known better!

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

It’s good to leave town to take a week’s vacation and get a different perspective on this little corner of the world I call home. I had an opportunity to visit Kauai’i in Hawaii this month to meet there with friends and family over plenty of good food and camaraderie. I find that people are interesting and good the world over but especially in the friendly state of Hawaii. Although nothing seemed to have changed upon my return home, I have changed appreciably. I feel closer to my family members for having spent quality time together. I loved the scenery and the people who are of all races and creeds as we are all Americans. We face the future with hope for the better in whatever small pockets we exist.

In the meantime, the staff of the South County News carried on in splendid fashion. I looked at newspapers from the island and the mainland in my travels, finding most of them a shadow of their former selves in page count, advertising and local news. We are blessed to have so many people in our circulation area of Vicksburg and Schoolcraft who donate their hard-earned dollars to support a newspaper such as the one you are reading. The people who stepped in to make sure this issue is complete include Travis Smola, our hard-working reporter; Linda Lane, our volunteer board member and reporter; Bob Ball, our copy editor and board member; Sheri Freeland, our advertising representative, and Justin Gibson, our graphic designer.

The first day I was on the island, I received a text from Superintendent Keevin O’Neill about a press conference that very afternoon and could I attend. I told him I would send a reporter since I was 3,000 miles away in Hawaii. He replied that his dad was there too and if I saw him I should say hello. Travis covered the press conference and wrote the story upon a moment’s notice.

Good Samaritan in Schoolcraft

Wayne York experienced this act of kindness while plowing the parking area this winter for the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft. He was doing the work with his John Deere lawn tractor. “On two different occasions out of nowhere came a pick-up truck with a front-end plow and plowed the parking lot in no time at all. I don’t know either of the drivers, however, I do want them to know that I greatly appreciate their random act of kindness,” York said.

Schoolcraft School Superintendent Rusty Stitt Posting on Facebook

“I write this with a heavy heart as today I lost one of my students to suicide. As a society we must bring mental illness forward and have more resources to help those in need. We need to teach our children social-emotional learning skills by teaching them how to deal with emotions, relationships and proper decision-making. We have limited resources in our schools. Educators try their best to teach these skills but aren’t often equipped and feel pressured to get through the standards for accountability reasons. We must wake up and deal with this epidemic. We need more resources in our schools to help with this growing issue,” Stitt said to his friends and neighbors.

Ag Artifacts Needed

Kalamazoo County Farm Bureau is in the process of planning this year’s Annual Meeting to celebrate their 100th year as an organization sometime in August. They are looking for knowledge and/or historical items or pieces related to Farm Bureau or agriculture in Kalamazoo County over the past 100 years. If anyone has information to share, please email Lisa Robb at kalamazoocounty@ctyfb.com or call 269-342-0212.

Looking for Long Lost Classmates

The Vicksburg High School class is 1969 will be celebrating its 50-year anniversary at the Summer Festival on Saturday, July 27. Larry Forsyth is heading up the search for missing classmates. He can be -reached at 269-649-2437 or kindlingmaker@gmail.com. They expect to have a party in the evening after the alumni breakfast that is held annually in the community pavilion in the morning.

Tom Hoy Honored by Colon High School

The athletic Hall of Fame at Colon High School was started by Vicksburg’s Tom Hoy when he was athletic director and assistant principal at Colon in 1998. He retired from education in 2008, knowing that those who would follow in his footsteps would keep up the effort. Much to his surprise, they nominated Hoy for membership this spring with a ceremony, a plaque and a reminder of the many championships the high school teams received under his tutelage. There were 20 SJV conference titles earned from 1996 to 2009 by Colon athletes. He and wife DeeDee have moved to Austin Lake but still call Vicksburg home.

On the Corner

stadium on the corner
Eric Hackman was the chief architect of the Vicksburg athletic field and stadium in 2003.

By Sue Moore

The sudden closing of Bud’s Bar in Schoolcraft on the day of the Super Bowl was a major shock to those who consider this establishment an institution. Owner Nate McNeal promises to speak publicly about the decision in a month or more after details of the situation get ironed out.

Comments posted on Facebook speak of it being the “end of an era while many good times were had by all.”

Erika Fojtik and Drew Mallery Correction

“We’ve seen the article (about their engagement in Iceland) in the paper and have heard from a lot of others who’ve read it! It looks great and we are grateful you wanted to share our story. One thing that would be nice to put as a correction either online or for the next issue is that the photograph that is in the story was taken by Steph Murray photography, not Shelby Monnette. I would like to give Steph credit,” Erika Fojtik said.

50 Years in Business

Congratulations to EIMO for fifty years in the plastic molding business in Vicksburg. It has been a worthy employer and contributor to the greater Vicksburg community. It is planning a company picnic at Prairie View Park on July 13. Other than that, it’s just business as usual, according to General Manager Gary Hallam. The company started as Triple S Plastics and was bought out by a EIMO, a Finnish company, then by Nissha, a Japanese conglomerate which kept the name. One of my first jobs as a photographer was with Dave Stewart at Triple S when it was making testers for electrical equipment.

Robotics Champion

Eric Hackman, the Vicksburg Middle School co-coach for the robotics club, is a super volunteer in the program even though his own teenagers are not particularly interested in robotics. Hackman has an important connection to the school that is little known. He is an architect for TowerPinkster. In that position he designed the football stadium in 2003-2004 that we enjoy today. “There was 16 feet of peat moss under the old football field on the site, which at one time was a swamp and before that a lake. That’s the reason the previous track kept failing. We had to dig it all up and transport it to village property next to the cemetery on W Avenue where the sledding hill is now,” he related. “Mike Roy, the athletic director, wanted the field sized so soccer could also be played on it. That meant the track became a broken oval track. It is supposed to have 100 meters on each curve but we had to stretch them out to make room for the standard size soccer field. Thus, the straight-a-ways are shorter while still making it a quarter mile long.

Tidbits

Max Reicherts, senior, and Caleb Kosak, junior, at Vicksburg High were selected to the Michigan All-State Jazz Ensemble.

Ward Lawrence spent his last day as a Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s deputy on Friday, Feb. 22. He ran for sheriff but didn’t win in 2012. He stayed on staff anyway and was cited for his bravery and handling of a man who had serious destruction on his mind in 2018.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

This crazy weather brings lots of challenges for each of us. A special one was brought to my attention by Nancy Glass. She is a resident of Cedar Park in Schoolcraft which is a group of apartments for seniors, based upon income or disability factors.

There are 22 apartments and no garages, so residents’ cars sit out all winter exposed to the vicissitudes of the weather. Not many of the residents are able to clean the heavy snow off their cars when it gets like what we are going through this winter. She is hoping that some goodhearted volunteers might find their way to Cedar Street and take a few minutes to brush off snow, perhaps shovel a little bit and get residents who can drive out on the road.

To do this good deed, it would be advisable to call Shelley Clark, the apartment manager at 269-679-5469. They do have someone who plows the parking lot. The need is to clean between the cars and the sidewalks.

History Day Sponsored by the Historical Society

In a partnership with the Vicksburg School system, the Historical Society is sponsoring History Day for elementary students up through the middle school. Kids in social studies classes will be given the opportunity to pick a historical subject about Michigan’s Role in the Civil War and Pioneer Living, research it, write a paper and make a presentation for judges from the Historical Society. There will be two age groups, kindergarten through fifth grade and sixth through eighth grade with prizes awarded to the top three in each group. It will culminate with the annual Civil War day that the eighth graders experience at the Historic Village grounds on May 17.

There is a state and national History Day that has been celebrated for many years in conjunction with the Michigan Historical Society and National History Day. The planners of this local exercise from the Historical Society board are Brendan McCaw and Dana Wagner along with teachers in the elementary and middle schools.

Schoolcraft Masonic Lodge #118 Sponsors Cabin Fever Blow Out

Jeff Landtroop of Vicksburg has been a Lodge member in Schoolcraft for many years. He has taken a more active role in its fundraiser this year as it seeks to raise money for scholarships for Schoolcraft’s graduating seniors. A band out of South Bend will entertain the 500 people Landtroop expects to attract to the event. It takes place at the Lawton Community Center on Saturday, March 2.

United Way Applications

Fawn Callen has announced that applications are available for organizations that have a project suitable for funding by United Way. They can be obtained by emailing her at: fawncallen@gmail.com.

Jack Moss, Kalamazoo Gazette Sports Editor, Dies of Parkinson’s Disease

Jack was a walking encyclopedia of athletes’ names, numbers and their accomplishments in high school and college in this area. I read his sports column every day just to see if I agreed with his pronouncements. He was the heart and soul of the Kalamazoo Gazette in an era where newspapers were still respected fountains of wisdom. Kaye Bennett and Mike Hardy (of Vicksburg), who worked there with him, jokingly accuse this writer of being just like Jack in one way only: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Syd Bastos is calling on anyone in the community who loves to perform onstage to audition for the Showcase (see story on page 3) and to contact her at 269-501-1347 or bastos@vicksburgarts.com. Auditions will be held at the Vicksburg Performing Arts Center on Jan. 13 so it would be important to get on her schedule.

How Area Legislative Representatives Voted in 2018

The Kalamazoo south county area has been represented by Republicans Margaret O’Brien in the Senate and Brandt Iden and Dave Maturen in the House the last two years. O’Brien and Iden had perfect records for attendance at all roll call votes. Maturen had a perfect record for four years, but missed 61 votes after he was in an auto accident on his way to a session in Lansing. Many of their contemporaries missed some or many roll call votes, according to Michiganvotes.org.

Joe Timko’s Train Exhibit at the Historic Village

For 10 years or more, Joe Timko has been involved in setting up the toy train exhibit at the Historic Village at Christmas time. It was usually open on Saturdays in December with an average of 50 or more dropping by to replay their childhood memories of the small O-gauge trains. He had grown a bit despondent over the lack of interest due to the amount of time that goes into the setup. Much to his surprise, this winter he was deluged with onlookers in the Township Hall, largely because the reindeer display was standing right next door. Kids and parents flocked to both. It was nice to see the smile on Joe’s face as the little folks’ eyes widened with excitement upon their discovery.

Donations to the South County News

In November the management of the South County News ran a full-page ad on the back page asking for donations from anyone who hadn’t previously stepped forward to give in 2018, sensing, as many other nonprofits do, that people are more inclined to give at Christmas time. That you did, and generously. The money raised with this one-time request will carry the newspaper into 2019 for several months. Our expenses are usually greater than the amount raised through advertising so it’s the donors who sustain this publication now and in the past. This is an unusual model in the print newspaper world, but it seems to work on a local level, where the everyday activities of the population would only see the light of day on Facebook, Instagram or some other online medium.

Thank you just isn’t enough, but we hope that our continuing effort to highlight our schools, government, events and people will be all the thanks you need.

Looking Up in Downtown Vicksburg

Plans are underway to rehabilitate buildings and construct a new streetscape in downtown Vicksburg in 2020. Until then, some terrific art work can be seen in the upstairs windows of the Hill’s Pharmacy building. Nine of the panels are the combined art work of students in Jake Biernacki’s third grades at Indian Lake, Tobey and Sunset Lake elementary classes. Three of the panels were done by art students in the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center’s summer art classes. Frederick Construction rented a scissor lift to get their workers up 20 feet to install them.

Arts Center Director Syd Bastos said the paintings were focused on the way kids see the world through their own community. They certainly brighten up the space and will hopefully retain their luster until the time comes to remodel the front of the buildings and get new businesses inside to add more vibrancy to the downtown.

Another Transformation

Driving over the railroad grade crossing on West Prairie Street in Vicksburg is a lot like taking a ride on a spring-loaded jumping machine. Village President Bill Adams recently announced that a grant from the state of Michigan has been obtained to repair this and two others of the five railroad crossings in the village.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Karla Piper, owner of Siesta Silver Jewelry in Vicksburg, has long supported one of her best friends from Vicksburg High School’s class of 1987, Penny Toornman Major, in her battle with a brain tumor. Penny has had multiple surgeries but keeps a cheerful outlook, according to Piper.

She has a fundraiser for Penny on her web site. But more than that, she has been organizing events to raise money for her friend’s health care. In November and December there have been five such events with a mug club raffle at Distant Whistle, a Jaspare’s 10 percent off all sales, a Hideaway funder, a Windfall and Rise & Dine collaboration. Dawn Waldron has also set up a Facebook page to raise funds for Penny.

All of this so that Penny can afford to have 24/7 in-home health care. She struggles to keep her balance while just moving around her home on Scott Street in Vicksburg. The tumor is on the left side of her body, but the right side of her body is not working. She is in a wheelchair most of the time and tires easily. She has a twin sister, Laurie, who is her main care-giver while still holding down a full-time job.

People have been so supportive, Piper said. “This is why we love our community. The folks here are so supportive of our own. That’s just what we do.”

Winter Team Sports Pictures

This issue of the South County News was scheduled to run pictures of Vicksburg’s and Schoolcraft’s winter sports teams. Due to the snowfall on Monday, November 26, with school being called off, we were unable to take the Schoolcraft team pictures. We are choosing to run both schools’ pictures in January even though the seasons are already underway.

McCauley Connection to Vicksburg

Jack McCauley coached high school football in Vicksburg for 25 years and was inducted into Vicksburg’s Hall of Fame in 2015. His son Kent McCauley was a football star for Vicksburg in the late 1970s. Both have been outplayed by their grandson and nephew, Josh McCauley, who is the starting center for the University of Arizona Wildcats football team. At a strapping 292 lbs., he is the starting center on the Division 1 football team. His parents are Kraig and Anne McCauley, both Vicksburg High School graduates; class of ‘83 for Kraig and ‘84 for Anne, whose mom is Terri Clark of Fulton.

Village Lights

Vicksburg’s downtown store front windows look fantastic. They have largely been decorated by Justin Cook who works at Rise & Dine and Natasha Hanichen who is employed by Paper City. The village Department of Public Works guys have done a masterful job with Christmas lights on the streets. All together it makes for a charming winter wonderland in the village.

On the Corner

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Village Managers Jim Mallery and Cheri Lutz combine to flip pancakes for the sake of raising money for United Way. Janine Brandt stands between the two.

By Sue Moore

A Vicksburg High School 1998 graduate, David Olson, has been accorded a singular honor by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. It named him one of “40 young business professionals under the age of 40” from a group of 294 nominees. He and his family were feted at a banquet in October to celebrate his accomplishments.

Olson, the son of David Olson in Vicksburg, owner of the Postman on Sprinkle Road, serves as executive manager of the Principal Financial Group in Grand Rapids. He is also a chef and works closely with the Peter Secchia Culinary Institute of Grand Rapids. He recently entered three recipes for beer in the Art Prize contest. The three were granted first, second and third place. His dad said there were plenty of other entries. He has helped to raise $350,000 for scholarships for young chefs at the Institute.

In high school, Olson was a pitcher, having been coached by his father through his many years in Little League in Vicksburg. He attended West Virginia University on a baseball scholarship, got hurt and transferred to Grand Valley State University where he pitched and was captain on its Division II championship team. Now young Dave has coached his son in Little League, keeping the family tradition alive.

Pine View Golf Course Pays Out $10,000 for a Hole in One

A hole in one is not all that unusual these days, said Steve Scott, general manager of Pine View Golf course near Schoolcraft. But it isn’t often that a hole in one earns the golfer $10,000 because he put $5 in the kitty for a chance to win the big prize. Larry Doorn of Dowagiac did just that on Monday, October 15 on #18 on Hemlock with the wind in his face using a 7 iron from 120 yards away. It was the fourth hole in one during this retiree’s lifetime, but never with a $10,000 reward at the end of the day. Usually, it’s just for bragging rights.

United Way Flapjack Fundraiser

Several luminaries were paired in a flapjack flinging contest to benefit United Way recently at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church family center. Village managers from Vicksburg and Schoolcraft squared off as did Vicksburg School Board President Skip Knowles vs. Superintendent Keevin O’Neill. Many of the flapjacks landed outside the goal, but it didn’t matter because United Way was the beneficiary of donations amounting to $3,635 that will benefit the community. The drive for pledges will continue through the fall with a goal of $35,000.

Car Accident at the Dam on Washington Street

A visitor from Three Rivers, in Vicksburg on a rainy evening, drove headlong into the dam on Washington Street. He was fortunate that the rail guards stopped his momentum sufficiently. Rescuers found his front wheels perched dangerously above the water below.

Quilt Trail Publicity

Michigan Blue Magazine did a four-page color feature on Vicksburg’s Quilt Trail. It interviewed Kitch Rhinehart, founder of the quilt trail, and took glorious photographs of many of the barn quilts. The magazine is circulated throughout west Michigan and can be purchased at Costco, CVS, Meijer, Target, Walgreen and Spartan stores.