Category Archives: On the Corner

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 This represents the first step in putting Vicksburg on the map as part of the Michigan water trail system (see:

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.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

In a bizarre Valentine’s Day accident on Silver Street, south of Vicksburg, a car jumped off the road and crashed into the DeDie/Richardson cemetery. The driver took out a row of headstones in the old section in the front of the cemetery, according to Brady Township Supervisor Randy Smith.

It was a beautiful day so he concluded that there was no weather-related reason for the accident and the driver blew zero on a blood-alcohol breath test, but did seem to be in a happy mood, Smith said. The driver was proceeding south at a pretty fast rate of speed. The car flipped over; he had to be extracted by the South Kalamazoo County Fire Department and transported to a hospital. Smith was called to the scene of the crash because the cemetery is maintained by the township. “The headstones were so old that the writing on them could not be easily deciphered. We have submitted an insurance report to mitigate the cost of repairs,” he said.

Cindy Kole Returns to Banking

Rawson Lake resident, Cindy Kole retired from PNC Bank in December, 2015 after 38 years, beginning when the bank was known as First of America. “I guess I wasn’t cut out for retirement and wanted to stay involved in a business I love. When three of the men I started with in banking called and asked me to return, it didn’t take long to decide,” she said.

She is now the chief operating officer at First National Bank of Michigan, overseeing marketing, public relations, human resources, treasury management, deposit operations and community reinvestment. It is a local bank, based in Kalamazoo and specializing in commercial banking, mortgages and some retail lending.

Dance Across the Decades

A fun-filled evening of dancing the night away will be held by South County Community Services once again as a fundraiser for the operation. It will be held on Saturday, April 22 at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church with 75 percent of the proceeds going to support the very important services of South County, according to Executive Director Danna Downing. Tickets are on sale with a call to 649-2901 at $65 per couple, $35 for an individual, provided they are ordered by April 15. The price goes up after that. The décor will celebrate the “Year of the Rooster,” providing some interesting ideas for costumes and dancing to DJ Jimmy Lawless of DeBiak Entertainment.

Security Changes at Vicksburg
Elementary Schools

All the Vicksburg school buildings will be getting a buzzer system for greater security of the buildings, according to Steve Goss, assistant superintendent. The three elementary schools have them installed and operational right now. It involves locked doors at the entrances and a call-in system for visitors to identify themselves. The secretaries are able to see a visual of the person requesting entry. The staff in each office then must buzz the visitor in so they have a good idea of who is in the building.

To a person, all felt this was a much needed safety system for the schools and feel very comfortable with the responsibility of handling this extra duty. Previously, visitors were required to check in at the office for a name tag but not much more was required.

Schoolcraft has had such a system for over three years. Staff members there feel it gives parents and children a much needed safety check.

Seattle Chef to Challenge Bobby Flay

Vuong Loc.

Vuong Loc, a graduate of Vicksburg High School, was an immigrant who came here from Vietnam as a child. His family settled on Long Lake; he still has relatives in this area. After graduation, he attended the Culinary Institute of America and has owned several high-quality restaurants in the Seattle area for the past 10 years. He was invited to challenge Bobby Flay on his famous TV show as a guest chef. The contest was filmed last April and is being aired on Thursday, March 23 on the Food Network. It’s a must-watch show with plenty of drama to see who has the winning hand against the incorrigible Bobby Flay, at least for folks who knew Vuong around Portage and Vicksburg, before he was famous.

Schoolcraft & March Madness

Schoolcraft boys’ basketball team is looking like a valid entry into the state basketball tournament contest which begins the first week of March. This writer has always been glued to the TV screen for college basketball each year, but high school basketball is likely to be even more enticing. This newspaper will follow all of our local teams as they progress through the final days of play. Look for the latest postings on or our Facebook page.

Vicksburg Sports Hall of Fame

Three new inductees have been voted into the Vicksburg Sports Hall of Fame by a selection committee for their excellence in athletics and their school records. The public is invited to participate in a gathering on April 15 at Angels Crossing beginning at 7:30 p.m. They are Larry Peck, a 1962 Vicksburg graduate who went on to run cross country at WMU on its national championship team; Molly Waterhouse, a 2008 graduate who excelled in track and cross county, setting many school records that are still unbroken; and Jon Kachneiwicz, being honored for his coaching expertise. He served as head football coach, assistant football coach and track coach for 41 years. He taught English at VHS for 36 years and is still with the track team.

On the Corner

Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema and State Representative Dave Maturen stand in the food line to be served by the Boy Scouts of Troop 251 at their spaghetti dinner in 2016.

By Sue Moore

Carl Tackett and Dorothy Clark served on the Schoolcraft Village Council for many years until both passed away in 2016. The Council is getting ready to appoint two residents to take their seats on the podium. Five residents of the village have stepped up to be interviewed for the positions.

This newspaper will have gone to press before Monday night when the Council will make its decision. Council members will not have an easy time of it as all five have the capability to contribute to this governing body immediately. They are Kathy Mastenbrook, John Stabola, Joe Beck, Don Hunt and Kirk Bergland.

VCAC Sponsors a Presentation on Ukraine

Sponsoring a talk about the war in the Ukraine is a bit unusual for the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, but Syd Bastos recognized a good thing when she met it face to face, so to speak. John Kern and Jackie Koney, newcomers to Vicksburg a year or so ago, had spent four years in the Republic of Georgia and then another year in the Ukraine just as war broke out on the streets of Kiev. Since coming here, the couple has jumped into offerings at the Arts Center by attending many performances and contributing art work. John, as it turns out, is a chef of some repute as well, so Syd came up with an idea. Have John tell what it was like to witness a revolution and couple that with a dinner featuring Ukrainian food. On Saturday, February 11, he will showcase his photography taken on the streets during and after the shooting, along with telling the audience of their experiences. Tickets need to be purchased in advance at $40 each from the VCAC office. The event is being held at Angels Crossing Golf Clubhouse.

Revolutionary War of Our Own Making

None of us were around in 1776 when America’s own revolutionary war broke out, still we celebrate it with re-enactments and reading plenty of history books. Last year, re-enactors from the North West Territory Alliance, came to Vicksburg under the auspices of the Historical Society to show us how this history can come alive. It takes us back to the days that indelibly shaped the New World and left its imprint on our society even today.

The re-enactors will be back on June 24 and 25, camping on the Prudential Nursery property across the street from the Historic Village, thanks to Charlie and Cindy Krill. They have agreed to allow the re-enactors to do faux battle, pitch their tents as was customary in the 1770s, and live as civilians and the army did in 1776-83. The public will be invited to come watch the festivities and learn from the living history that will be offered.

Winter Activities to Get Us Out of the Doldrums

March activity kicks off on Saturday the 4th with a big day of activities in Vicksburg. For those who keep fit, a 5K race called the Chili Dash begins at 10:30 at the community pavilion. The Chamber of Commerce will offer its usual Chili Cookoff immediately following the race at the same venue. If you like spaghetti too, you can move right over to Vicksburg High School and enjoy Boy Scout Troop 251’s specialty spaghetti dinner, served from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s part of the enticement to attend the Rotary Club’s annual Showboat performance at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. If you also feel like kicking up your heels and want to dance, the Boosters’ Bounce Dance from 7:30 to midnight will round out your day. It’s at Indian Run Golf Clubhouse and benefits the Vicksburg Athletic Boosters organization.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

There are so few activities listed on the community calendar for January, it’s like the population of South County has dug in to a cave and doesn’t have plans to move out until spring. What we know to be true is that the many nonprofit organizations that typically sponsor events spend this time of year in planning for a break-out season soon to come.

The Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce is working on its annual chili cook-off to be held in March the community pavilion. That provides a fun time to see the neighbors and judge the best chili from local purveyors.

The Vicksburg Rotary Club on January 8 began rehearsals for Showboat, which will run in the first week of March. The director and head writer, Ken Franklin, was given the Golden Trowel Award by the Rotary District conference last fall, so now he once again will prove his magic touch with a bigger and better show than ever.
Boy Scouts Troop 251 is having big success in seeing six of its scouts earn their Eagle Scout honors in 2016-17 and have plans for their Court of Honor in January. This is huge to see so many earn this honor in one troop.

The announcement that there will be an artist domicile and event center in Schoolcraft opening in April is a big deal for Jamie and Windy Clark of Vicksburg. This should work in combination with the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center very nicely to draw even more artists to our communities and make the cultural aspects of living here even richer.

Plans are in the works for the Vicksburg Ladies Library Auxiliary to celebrate its 125th anniversary this spring. That is the literary side of the good life here along with the Schoolcraft Ladies Library Association that twice monthly puts on interesting, varied programs in their beautiful building.

The Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority is finalizing grants for façade improvements that will serve to spruce up the storefronts even more than what was done in 2016.

The Vicksburg Historical Society is gearing up for its second Battle of Sunset Lake as part of the exploration of the history of the Revolutionary War. A new location for the encampment will be announced in February.

If you are thinking fresh veggies and fruit, so is the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market board as it works on a strategic planning process that they hope will bring with it some new and innovative ideas for the market.

WMU’s Fans

It was heartwarming to see the successful season the WMU Bronco football team had in 2016. Their many fans from this area showed their affection by the thousands by traveling to the Cotton Bowl game in Arlington, TX. Too bad that P.J. Fleck is now history for WMU. There were also ten local members of the Bronco’s marching band who accompanied the team and had a terrific experience according to Raegan Soekarmoen who is a senior from Vicksburg playing trombone and leading his section. They had the experience of a lifetime, he said. “Words just could not describe it.”


Last spring senior Blake Bales, suffering from a broken thumb, had to suspend his baseball play for part of the season, but discovered varsity golf was something he could do with the broken thumb. He went on to join the golf team at the state finals in Lansing. Then, after a successful 2016 football season (Bales caught 4/5 and scored 4 times), he learned he has a stress fracture of his right leg, and will be sitting the bench until mid-January. He has, however, discovered he can bowl on the varsity bowling team and maintain a 185 average.