Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Water Rescue on Sunset Lake

The bridge over the two ponds on Sunset Lake is very tempting to kids who like to dive off either side. On Friday, June 21, the inevitable happened when one young boy got caught in the current. His companion feared he was drowning and called out for help. It came in the form of Ben Gauthier, aka Benjammin, who lives on the pond next to the mill. He reacted quickly and dove in after the boy to pull him out to safety as the ambulance was arriving.

My dad, who grew up near the lake, used to say with pride that he learned to swim when his buddies would push him off the railroad bridge. It was pretty much do or die in 1914 when he was a young kid. This is not the way I envisioned my boys learning how to swim as I don’t condone the practice. They attended Tony Marfia’s swimming school for many years on Gourdneck Lake. To pass his test for intermediate swimmers, he required them to swim across the lake and back, with him alongside in a rowboat in case of emergency.

Miracle Field Leader

David Olson, founder of the Miracle Field building effort at the Dome in Schoolcraft, has been beset with illness recently. He suffered a TIA, a transient ischemic attack, in March that didn’t set him back for very long. Then had a full-blown heart attack and perhaps another stroke in May and early June. He is out of the hospital and taking it easy but still plans to be the inspiration behind the building of this baseball field for children with disabilities.

Sewer Situation in Schoolcraft

Recent meetings in a public forum have shed some light on the possibility of sewers being built in Schoolcraft according to Kathy Mastenbrook, a village and school board trustee. “We are getting more of our questions answered now than before when the sewer was proposed in 2015. We meet all of the state’s criteria for getting a loan and possibly some grants. The council expects to have one more public forum and then draw the discussion to a conclusion in September. It appears that the majority of the village council is now in favor of moving ahead as we have nothing to lose if we back out later, if the costs come in way higher than the current estimates,” she said.

Flooding at Indian Lake

The high-water mark was witnessed at Indian Lake again this year for homes and cottages in the low area on the east and south sides. It was only three years ago when water spilled over the banks to engulf the same areas and the sewer pumps malfunctioned. Again, Richards Septic Service was called in to pump out the lift station at the corner of 24th Street and S. Indian Lake Drive for 24 hours straight.

According to Randy Smith who lives on East Indian Lake Dr., this is the fourth worst flood on record. The lake crested at 5.7 feet on Tuesday, June 25 and is now receding ever so slightly. In years past it has taken a couple of months for lawns to dry out after a flood such as this.

Thank You to Our Readers of the South County News

We can receive mail most anytime but particularly in June when a donation envelope is included in the newspaper. Here’s the breakdown of the 103 written responses and 249 total donations that we received: 28 replies from Vicksburg; 22 replies from Schoolcraft; 25 replies from the Scotts area; 8 replies from the Portage area; two replies from Fulton; two from Three Rivers; one reply from Mendon; three with no address; 16 replies from out of town.

The staff, who work from their home offices to save overhead costs, are so grateful for your words of encouragement in beginning our seventh year of operations.

On the Corner

clean up 4By Sue Moore

I write this while I am dog tired from pumping out lots of news items about great people in Vicksburg and Schoolcraft. By tomorrow when the deadlines have passed, it will feel good, having given birth one more time to the monthly South County News. It will all be worth it.

This small-town newspaper marks the end of its sixth year of publication and is launching into year seven with the June edition. Most prognosticators would have predicted an early demise for a hard-copy local paper that focuses only on local news. But here we are, planning to keep it sustained through many more years.

The recipients of this free newspaper have donated generously to keep it going over the six years and for that the staff is totally grateful. What is really important to us is the ability to document the activities of our communities with people stories, government reporting and a business roundup. This will live on long after I’ve given up the job and we are able to recruit new writers and editors.

Until then, we appreciate your confidence in the staff who all work from their homes to lower the overhead costs while bringing the news to you with each monthly publication.

More New Businesses in Vicksburg

It’s been a banner year for start-ups in the village with three new stores featured in this June edition. Next month we will report on the new restaurant, Michelle’s, which opened in May in the R&R Weddings and Events center building, and Apple Knockers’ new digs on Sunset Lake.

Clay Target Team Records

This is the season for honoring student achievements in many different avenues. One such is the Michigan HS Clay Target League All State team members from Vicksburg. They are Jeffrey Hoagg*, Owen Moberley*, Andrew Pratt, Glen Rhyner, Trevor Young*, Eliot Pierce, Jackson Bowles, Lucas Cannizzaro and Caleb Kosak. These athletes are in the top 100 out of 1,520 athletes on 72 teams competing in the state of Michigan. Athletes had to compete in all five competition weeks and average 21.7 targets hit or higher during those weeks. The asterisks mark returning All State athletes from 2018. Congratulations!

Village Clean-up Efforts

When it finally stops raining, it will be easier to notice all the work done by volunteers to do clean-up work around the villages in April and May. In Vicksburg, the Lions Club spearheads the clean-up of the Sunset Lake park and the Historic Village grounds. They get help from Rotary Club volunteers, Boy Scouts and Victorian Garden Club members with weeding, leaf raking, downed branches and other eyesores that can easily be removed. ChapNaz Church members held a day of service to clean up around the village. Suellen Lane and Julie Merrill planted flowers in Oswalt Park. The two villages’ trash pick-up is also a blessing for residents to get rid of the winter’s pile of detritus.

Traditions

The making of traditions in small towns is important for pride in ourselves and our community. Such are the Memorial Day observances in Fulton, Schoolcraft and Vicksburg. These brought a tear to my eye for what can only be looked at as the true meaning of remembrance. The Old Car Festival, the 4th of July festivities in Schoolcraft, the Lions Club B & B, the Rotary Club Showcase and the Christmas celebrations in both communities give meaning to living in a small town. It takes loads of volunteers to pull these off successfully, but somehow it gets done every year. Thanks to all who make this happen. It’s all about our quality of life in what Mercer Munn used say was the “Center of the Universe.”

On the Corner

scout cabin 4
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.