Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Scary Stuff

The outbreak of EEE or Eastern Equine Encephalitis in this area has many people on the alert for protecting themselves from mosquito bites. Recently it hit close to home with Savannah DeHart afflicted with EEE. She would have been a freshman at Vicksburg High School in September and instead is lying in a hospital bed trying to fight off the effects of the disease.

The schools and the Kalamazoo County Health Departments have done the right thing to warn people of the dangers and taking steps to reschedule all the outdoor activities to an earlier hour. It’s an inconvenience but one that we can accept as being for our own good.
A Savannah Strong Facebook page has been set up and her mom, Kerri Dooley, posts regular updates on how her 14-year-old girl is doing. Apparently, there are both good and bad days as she is getting rehab help at Mary Free Bed Hospital in Grand Rapids but doesn’t always feel up to it.

More Scary Stuff

There was an attempted break-in/robbery in one of the homes in Centennial plat on the north side of Vicksburg on Sunday, September 22. One of the suspects was apprehended and taken to the county jail while the other one, a woman, was able to get a ride to downtown Vicksburg. She slipped away from the canine tracking effort mounted by the county sheriff department and the State Police. It is an active investigation of the two suspects who are apparently from Kalamazoo, according to Vicksburg Police Chief Scott Sanderson. Rumor has it that they were armed but Sanderson said that is not the case.
Residents are cautioned to keep their doors locked, especially their garage doors which are easier entry points for potential thievery, according to Sanderson.

Some Good News

The Bike Weekend that was heavily promoted in the Vicksburg area turned out to be highly successful with 110 riders showing up on a beautiful Saturday morning in September. A dinner on Saturday night honored some of the village and city people who helped to make the event possible. An art prize contest on Sunday completed the activities. Thanks to Paul Selden, who worked unceasingly to make it all happen.

Some More Good News

Volleyball in Schoolcraft under the tutelage of Coach Erin Onken has been a hugely successful program. One of her graduates, Jayci Suseland, is playing her senior year of college ball at Millersburg University in Pennsylvania. For the second week in a row she was selected as Athlete of the Week in her conference. She is now a four-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Southeast Athlete of the Week, having won the award twice as a junior.

Back in Schoolcraft High School volleyball, Andelyn Simkins, the 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter, was named one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Miss Volleyball award. It will be presented at the end of the season by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association. The award recognizes the state’s top senior player who also represents the characteristics of scholarship, sportsmanship and citizenship.

Tournament of Writers Book Signing

A book signing and reading of the authors’ work was held at Vicksburg’s R & R event center to honor Schoolcraft’s Friends of the Library annual Tournament of Writers winners. Although entries are submitted and judged during the winter and early spring, they were congregating this September to do a book signing. The work of the winning authors is published in a beautiful paperback book that is put together by Deb Christiansen and given to each person at this event. It signifies that they have arrived by having their work published in the Small Town Anthology, Volume 5.

On the Corner

snow in julyBy Sue Moore

Hail Hits Vicksburg

On the exact time and day, August 14 when powerful hail hit the village, I was at the community pavilion. Our team was preparing to power wash the concrete in preparation for the Farm to Table dinner that took place the following Saturday. All of a sudden the sky shot out balls of hail that drove through the pavilion in a rage.

Apparently, it only hit the village area and nowhere else because the insurance companies report a large number of claims for damaged car tops, roofs and field crops in a very small area. As evidence, just drive up Portage Road from the intersection of V Avenue and look across the field to the west. You will see thousands of watermelons completely destroyed by the hail just as they were ready for market on Howard Bailey’s farm.

Kaye Bennett, whose home was directly in the path of the storm, lost all of her beautiful flowers that she lovingly cares for all summer long. The most striking photo of the cataclysmic downpour was taken in the yard of St. Martin’s Catholic Church east of Vicksburg by an unknown photographer.

Although my camera is almost always with me, I failed to rush to my car to snap a picture because cars driving along Sprinkle Road took cover in the pavilion. We were directing traffic there rather than power washing the concrete. I wasn’t smart enough to follow their lead and had to put in an insurance claim for hail damage to the hood of my new car.

Don Gilmer Served Community Well

Governor Whitmer ordered flags to be lowered to half mast on August 29 in honor of former state representative Don Gilmer. He served for 22 years as this area’s legislator. He often attended school board meetings and village council sessions of the communities in his district. He was an advocate for schools and community education in particular. He chaired the powerful appropriations committee with wit and wisdom. During the early 1980s when executive order spending cuts were mandated by Governor Milliken, he even came to contentious school board meetings chaired by Lloyd Appell to explain what was happening in Lansing which so affected our school district. He was only 73 when he passed away on August 12 after a long career in local government and in Lansing as the Lottery chief.

Prairie Ronde Artists in Residence

This program has brought lots of talented people to Vicksburg through the efforts of John Kern at The Mill. Three of the most current artists will be displaying their work September 14 from 6-10 p.m. at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, 105 S. Main. The public is invited to the Block Party that includes four buildings at the intersection of Main and Prairie.

The talent sharing aspect of the Block Party is associated with Anna Roeder’s installation in the old Doris Lee store. There will be a small stage set up for several planned acts and an invitation will be extended to anyone who would like to share a song, story, poem, dance, or other form of performance.

Sam Margevicius’ photographic installation will consist of roughly 30 pictures installed on the wall in such a way as to create an abstracted narrative structure. The pictures describe the Vicksburg landscape through its various surfaces and visual patterns that have presented themselves to this artist who is from Brooklyn, New York. Paintings by Eric Vasilauskas from Kalamazoo will also be on display.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Steve Fryling shared this information with me: “From time to time I have parents of former WAY program and Alternative High School students contact me and talk about how their sons or daughters are now doing in life. This one really blew me away!”

“Alysia Zimmerman graduated from what was then the WAY program several years ago and went on to Western Michigan University. Her mother (Sue Zimmerman Craft) shared that she is now a senior and CAPTAIN of the “Sun Seeker” solar-powered car team which is part of the engineering department at WMU. No one at the time had any doubt that Alysia had the academic chops to do whatever she wanted; we just hoped she would put them to use. Looks like she has. It looks as she has certainly done as well as most any Vicksburg student from either high school in terms of her work. I could not be more thrilled. This is a great story!”

B.J. Snow has Success at the Women’s World Cup

Women’s World Cup Soccer has come home to Vicksburg in an unusual way. B.J. Snow, an assistant coach for the team that won the championship, grew up kicking a soccer ball around the extensive lawn of his parents’ home each summer at their cottage on East Indian Lake Drive. His mom and dad, Jeanne and David Snow, lived in Portage and summered here from the time he was a baby. He played his high school soccer at Portage Central, then Indiana University, where the team took two national championships.

Snow came back to Portage as a volunteer coach for his alma mater – his future wife, Lindsay Tarpley played on the team. He took it a step higher when he volunteered as an assistant coach at UCLA with head coach Jill Ellis, the current World Cup head coach. Snow became head coach of the UCLA program, following Ellis in 2011, and then became her assistant in 2015 for the World Cup. Between that championship and the one in July of this year, he became the Under 17 and then Under 23 national coach and now is head of future player identification for our national teams, literally the head scout for future talent.

He and Tarpley have two children, ages 7 and 4, and live in Madison, Wisconsin. His mom, Jeanne, still resides at Indian Lake in the summer. She started coaching B.J. in soccer when he was five years old and is justifiably proud of his accomplishments.

Jeanne has her own parents to thank for her interest in sports. Evy and Moyle Ferris opened the doors of what later became the Beacon Club in 1947 as Char-Co-Chick-Inn near the airport. Jeanne waited tables and learned the business from the ground up. She became a nurse and taught at KVCC with Mary Scott from Vicksburg at the time. Jeanne played softball on Bob Harper’s city league team that was appropriately called the Mother Breeders because Harper Farms, south of Vicksburg, raised pigs.

Camera on Top of Community Center

Channel 3 morning weather broadcast uses what it calls live eye cameras which seem to alternate between Bangor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peC1JD9gEKc and South Haven https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi8CRvcXAos.  Andy DeVries mounted a Vicksburg camera at the corner of Main and Prairie streets in July. The hope was to get Channel 3 to add Vicksburg to the list of rotating weather shots so they mention the village and show a live weather shot, perhaps during an event like the Car Show or Taste of Vicksburg, attracting more interest to the Vicksburg events downtown. The Vicksburg Live camera can be found on YouTube by searching “Vicksburg Michigan Live”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_M1rEjTls4

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.