Category Archives: On the Corner

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.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Real estate is moving well in these parts. Cheri Lutz reported to the Schoolcraft village council that a Mexican restaurant is coming in to replace Kenny’s Chop Suey at 321 N. Grand Street and a State Farm agent has purchased the former Big Island quilt shop at 423 N. Grand.

Distant Whistle in Vicksburg has opened Kalamazoo County Home Brew Supplies at 116 S. Main, next door to its taproom. Apple Knockers has purchased the Ralph Hayward Agency on the west side of the Sunset Lake pond, right across from Vickers’ Tavern. It plans a deck that will face Vickers’ deck but there probably won’t be live music coming from Apple Knockers in the evening right away as it won’t open until spring. Meanwhile, the insurance agency is moving to where Bobby’s Restaurant was on N. Richardson Street. Some remodeling will be completed by January before the musical chairs can take place.

Singing Sensations at UM Glee Club

Two Vicksburg graduates from 2018 have auditioned and were chosen to sing with the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club. They are Mike Halstead (tenor) and Jess Schmidt (baritone). Vicksburg choral instructor Dusty Morris said both “are skilled readers of music with solid singing voices. They both are really smart dudes, too.”

Suellen Lane Dedicated to Cleaning Up Liberty Lane East

For years, members of the Victorian Garden Club have weeded and maintained Liberty Lane West. The East portion which was planted two years ago has two new champions to keep it beautiful: Suellen Lane and Julie Merrill. They have extended their work to many of the other flower beds on S. Main and Prairie Street as well. Lane just completed her Master Gardener course work this spring and has a passion for seeing the village look beautiful. She convinced Merrill to help out since she has pretty much closed down her appliance business and says she is retired. They even purchased mums to plant and further beautify Liberty Lane.

Rudy Callen Donates His Hair to Wigs for Kids

8-11-17 was the last time Rudy Callen’s hair was cut at Nick’s. It has been growing out for 13 months. “I was originally just letting it grow before it turns all gray! Then I got to talking with Dayton Sterns, a guy I knew in the Monday night golf league at States,” said Callen. “I decided donating it would be appropriate. Dayton said Wigs for Kids with Cancer would help some people out.”

“My long hair was definitely not approved by all. I had many offers by people to pay for a haircut…even had one grab my elbow and try to walk me over to Nick’s place. I am now clean cut. I’m pretty sure the long hair bothered some folks. The lady who cut it said they would have preferred longer hair to work with but I was pretty much done with it! I measured 10 inches from the scalp to the end of the hair Dayton said 10 inches was the minimum for them to make good wigs out of the hair.” Sterns donates the hair to the organization and then orders and fits wigs to people who need them at his Gemini Salon on Milham Road in Portage.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Michigan, the Water Wonderland! Who would have dreamed that we would first be dealing with the Flint water crisis, then PFAS in Rockford and much closer to home in Parchment? We drink the village water whether as a resident or while frequenting a restaurant. We all want to be sure it is free of contaminants.

The village managers of Vicksburg and Schoolcraft have given assurances that our water is good to drink with no PFAS detected. Both villages have been tested as recently as early this summer and the results were negative as to the 70 parts per trillion (PPT) that the state says is an acceptable standard. There are some who say the standard should be much lower, to only 5 PPT. Legislation has been introduced to that effect.

Crayfish in the Water

Speaking of water containments, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has found crayfish in Sunset Lake again this year. Seth Herbst, the head of the Fisheries Division has been testing the lakes around us for the little gems and thus far they seem to be contained in Sunset Lake. “The red swamp crayfish survived the winter (not a surprise) and are being captured again at Sunset Lake,” Herbst said. “We haven’t documented any significant spread of this species to our local water bodies, so that is encouraging. We have had issues with people stealing some of the crayfish traps that we have been setting in Clark Park, which has hindered our efforts.”

Distant Whistle Celebrates Second Anniversary

Dane Bosel and Andy Clouse have made it through the hardest part of starting a new business. They celebrated their second anniversary of making craft beer at the Distant Whistle in downtown Vicksburg. They are even expanding into the building next door on 116 S. Main Street to increase capacity. Their brewery is attracting folks who love good beer in a homey environment. Congratulations on your success.

Another Trail Possibility

Don Ulsh, Schoolcraft Township supervisor, announced the possibility of using the right of way that Indiana Michigan Power Company has developed on W Avenue between Vicksburg and Schoolcraft. The utility has cut a swath of land for a high voltage transmission line which could be used as a walking trail to connect the two villages. He has had conversations with the power company and is hoping they will be amenable to this idea.

Hornet Collection

A local entrepreneur, Toby Rochafellow, has an unusual business as a sideline to his banking v.p. job at PNC. He captures hornet nests. He does this for free to the homeowner or business that is harboring them. He turns around and sells them to a company in Pennsylvania that extracts the venom to use for immune therapy purposes. They are shipped in dry ice. People in HazMat suits then deal with the insects to remove one small drop of the venom. His father started the business in Lansing where he resides. Toby’s brother, a teacher, also does this in his off-time. Contact him at 517-712-8273.

Meet the Candidates Night in Schoolcraft

Four candidates have filed for two positions on the Schoolcraft School Board. The election for these seats will be on the Nov. 7 ballot along with elections for governor, state and federal legislators and other state officials. Local elections are just as important according to Katie Redmond, president of the Schoolcraft PTO. Their group is looking forward to hosting a Meet the Candidate Night on Wednesday, September 19th at 6 p.m. in the High School Cafeteria. The public is urged to attend.

Those filing for the six-year terms are incumbents Darby Fetzer, current board chair; Mike Rochholz, former board chair; Wade Rutkowski, president of the Boosters Association and Rachel Phelps, formerly an assistant to administrators at the high school and now administrative assistant in the Community Education department in Vicksburg schools.

“We are asking all candidates to submit a short blurb about who they are, including name, family, ties to Schoolcraft, why they are running for the board, something that can be shared to the public before the Candidate Night,” Redmond said.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

We have two local athletes, Adam Henderson of Vicksburg and Connor Nutt of Schoolcraft, who were selected by joeinsider.com for the Kalamazoo County Baseball Elite team player of the year on June 27. They were selected as top players for spring after speaking to local coaches and evaluating their postseason success.

Lydia Goble and Katie Parker of Schoolcraft and Rylie Richter of Vicksburg were also selected as top players for softball.

These athletes are also outstanding students who give it their all. Connor and Adam have a 4.0 GPA. They should be very proud of their hard work both on and off the field.

Joeinsider is a web based sports column/news organization led by Wes Morgan, a former Kalamazoo Gazette sports writer. He focuses on teams in St. Joe County but ventures over into Kalamazoo County to cover Schoolcraft and Vicksburg when they compete against the likes of Constantine or Three Rivers.

Absentee Ballots in Schoolcraft Township

Over 200 absentee ballots had already been received as of Monday, July 23 in Schoolcraft Township’s office said Clerk Virginia Mongreig. Unfortunately, all of them will need to be discarded and reissued. This is due to a mistake in programming made by the Secretary of State’s office in Lansing. The ballots had the candidates for state representative listed for the 63rd State Legislative District on the Schoolcraft Township ballot when in fact, the township is in the 61st District.

A voter pointed out the discrepancy to Mongreig who then had to work with the state and county to resolve the issue. The new ballots will be ready before this newspaper goes to press, but those who have already voted will need to have their ballots spoiled first. Then they will be replaced with the correct ballot. These kinds of gaffes only used to happen in Chicago and are not likely to be the fault of the Russians either.

VCAC Closing for Building Reconstruction

Façade renovations on downtown Vicksburg buildings at 101 and 103 E. Prairie Street will cause the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center to suspend gallery operations unofficially for a short while. The dust kicked up by the reconstruction of the inside and outside window area could be harmful to the many beautiful gallery items for sale by local artists, Syd Bastos said.

They are rethinking the space for future use with the possibility of more classes being offered and more interactive events. They have planned two more offerings in their Destination series with the first one on August 25 called Destination Rural America and the follow-up to that, Destination Sweden, on September 22.

Winners

Apple Knockers won first prize for its float in the Schoolcraft 4th of July parade. Jaspare’s Pizza was voted the best in class for the Taste of Vicksburg in July. The Chamber of Commerce event led by Mandy Miller and helped by a host of others, estimated the attendance at over 2,000 for the Taste. Schoolcraft annually bring in over 10,000 for the parade.

Village and County Road Resurfacing

A few miles of reconstructed roads in the village of Vicksburg are a tremendous improvement. South Street which was among one of the worst surfaces, got a good makeover, as did N. Main, Wilson, Wellhouse Dr. and several others. Sprinkle Road was resurfaced by the county from S. Ave. to V. Avenue and is a great improvement.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

There are many activities for all ages taking place in Schoolcraft and Vicksburg in July, all of them run by volunteers. It’s amazing that these two small towns can have so many people giving their time and talent. I should not be surprised by that but when I see what it takes to put on the 4th of July parade, the Taste of Vicksburg, the Thespian show at the Pavilion, the Art Stroll, the Lions Club B & B, I get a little puffed up with pride about the community I live in. Let’s get out and support all these fine people who make South County such a great place to live and play.

Charlie Glaes Shows His Playful Side

It seems that facing imminent retirement, Vicksburg’s Superintendent of Schools, Charlie Glaes decided to kick it up a notch and participate in the “Hamster Race” at Sunset Lake elementary school just two weeks before collecting Social Security. He got into a very big plastic ball and ran it toward a goal line in competition with Principal Amie McCaw, who won the race easily. Of course, she had practiced, he claimed and he could only guess at the strength it would take him to power that wheel over the finish.

The Rain Came and Fell on the Car Show

For the first time in 38 years rain fell in buckets for Vicksburg’s Old Car Festival (it also rained the first year). Most of the activities were cancelled even though some fearless car lovers did show up with umbrellas in hand. The beneficiary of the rain turned out to be the District Library book sale where people hid from the downpour and then browsed the thousands of book titles available. Gail Reisterer reported that this was the best year financially in the last five years.

April Bryan Leaving the Vicksburg Historical Society for the Air Zoo

The curator of dusty old things for the Depot Museum, April Bryan, has decided to take a full-time job with the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. She was paid part-time by the Historical Society but gave it her all every day. A cutback in hours for the museum and Historic Village will be necessary until the board can find the perfect person to replace Bryan. In the meantime, Judy Glover, one of the museum’s long-time volunteers will work to keep the facilities open on Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Vicksburg United Way Allocates Precious Dollars

The greater Vicksburg area community was very generous with its giving in 2017, to the tune of $22,049, especially the staff at the school. The allocations committee met in June and heard three requests for grants. The Vicksburg Middle School health education classroom teacher asked for money to bring in a speaker about social media’s hidden dangers as part of her curriculum for a safer digital environment. The Generous Hands Inc. requested money so each child in its Backpack Bonanza outing could have a book of their very own as part of their preparation for school. The agency also requested money for AV equipment to use for educational presentations to classes and the public. It would be housed in their lobby. South County Community Services requested funding to continue its outreach to senior citizens. In total, $19,600 was awarded. The remainder is set aside if some unforeseen needs come up before the next round of funding can be considered, according to Fawn Callen. She has taken on the leadership role for the Vicksburg United Way.