Category Archives: On the Corner

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.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

South County Community Services and Generous Hands, Inc. have been gaining in strength by working closely to provide services for their clients. To further that effort the two nonprofits are moving to a new location on Spruce Street in a building that housed the Long Branch restaurant. The move is scheduled for late June and early July. When completed it will mean that clients will have easy access to both groups services with one intake person to serve them rather than having to visit both places and repeat the request for service. It’s a good move for everyone and will ultimately benefit the community by this alliance.

United Way Applications

The greater Vicksburg community stepped up in 2017 and donated over $22,000 to United Way. The local committee that decides who should receive these monies is asking nonprofits who are serving the youth, seniors or special needs people to get their application in right away as they will be deciding on the allocation of dollars in June. Contact Fawn Callen via email at fawncallen@gmail.com for further information.

Brennan Hamilton

The sudden death of Brennan Hamilton, a high school senior in Vicksburg, was a reminder of how fragile life is, especially when we get behind the wheel. His buddies on the lacrosse team showed their respect during their tournament game on May 29 by inscribing “Ham” on their helmets as they were defeated by one of the best lacrosse teams in the state.

Growth

The estimated census for Michigan in 2017 is out and shows that again, Vicksburg is the fastest growing village in the state and Texas Township one of the fastest growing in the county. This bodes well for the many new businesses that have started up in the village. It’s been fun to watch the heavy-duty work taking place at the old Krum-Hallam building at 343 W. Prairie in Vicksburg. It is getting a major facelift and when completed, will be a much more attractive entrance to people driving into the village.

Downtown Picnic in the Village

Already newcomers are making an impact in downtown Vicksburg. Veronica Levin wasted little time in demonstrating her desire to make things happen, once she and her family purchased a building on S. Main Street. She was the sparkplug to organize a Picnic in the Village on Friday, June 1. Her goal was to have an open house at her new store and at the same time, get the various businesses to pull together to put on a fun time for customers who could come to each store and have a bite to eat. She has brought new energy and spark to downtown.

Movie Night

At the same time, Vicksburg Land Development was planning a movie night for June 1 behind the former Hill’s Pharmacy in the parking lot. It made for lots of positive activity all day long in Vicksburg.

On the Corner

Memorial Day
Each May, Boy Scouts from Troop 251 place flags on the tombstones of all the veterans in the Vicksburg Cemetery. They are from left to right: Left to right: Jakob Schmidt, Sam Breuer, Caleb Bombich (blue), Tyler Richardson (partially hidden), Josiah Stewart, Josh White.

By Sue Moore

I realize the passing of time when it comes to Superintendent Charlie Glaes announcing his retirement. There have only been seven individuals holding that title in Vicksburg since WWII, beginning with Bill Taylor. He initiated a seismic shift in the school district by consolidating the outlying country schools. Old timers might remember what a collision of values that created with the townies vs. the country kids taking up seats right beside each other in the classroom for the first time in 1948.

Those were not the good old days in my memory bank. We were crowded into classrooms at what is now the Administration building, the most fun being a secret ride down the fire escape on the south side of the building. There were so many students that some grades had to be outsourced to other buildings in the village.

Each succeeding superintendent, Ken Otis, Larry Cole, Denny McMahon, Pete Wharton, Pat Reeves, and Charlie, has left his legacy on the school district. What has distinguished their time in charge has been the cooperation between administration and the school board members. The people who have been willing to give of their time and intellect have been the glue that make receiving a quality education in the Vicksburg school district happen. I remember in my era with great fondness the ones who set the standard: Dr. Arle Schneider, Denny Boyle, Dr. Lloyd Appell and Skip Knowles. They led as presidents when money was tight and the will to tax ourselves was not always apparent.

Fortunately, the citizens of the school district have seen fit to keep the buildings in good order with funding for repairs, while the state suffered through some hard times. Local control has been the mantra since consolidation, but when we choose to accept the money from the state of Michigan, much of that goes by the wayside. The seven superintendents I’ve mentioned have been great keepers of the flame. Now it’s time to pass it forward to a new leader who will benefit greatly from all that has been accomplished over the last 70 plus years.

Gazette Connections

Jack Moss, another old timer for those of you who read his sports columns in the Kalamazoo Gazette, has been retired for many years and now lives in Savannah, Georgia with his daughter’s family. Del Newell, a home-grown sports reporter at the Gazette keeps in contact and reports that at 91 Jack can still remember the many sports stats he reported over the years. He suffers from Parkinson’s but will still quote them verbatim, even the ones he was accused of making up.

Village Clean Up and Pick Up Days

Both Schoolcraft and Vicksburg villages will collect the detritus that residents have collected over the winter on Saturday, May 19. They urge people to have materials set out on the curbside by Thursday or Friday evening at the latest. Just don’t let it set there for more than a week in advance, especially in Vicksburg when the Hearty Hustle takes place on Saturday, May 12. The runners are routed through the heart of the village so it’s nice for them to see beautiful flowers and trees in bloom all along the way, not old sofas and refrigerators.

On the Corner

fire
Fire leveled the newly built storage shed on the grounds of the Historic Village in Vicksburg on Thursday, March 22. The exterior had been completed and rebuilt doors and windows were stored inside the very day of the fire according to Jim Bird. His Thursday crew of volunteers had spent considerable time building the shed over the winter. An investigation is underway.

By Sue Moore

Time to Start Training for the Hearty Hustle

The Vicksburg Hearty Hustle is in its 31st year. It has a new wrinkle for the race this year, one that will directly benefit one of the five school buildings in the district. The School Challenge Incentive provides a $500 prize to the building with the highest proportion of runners to student population, fair considering that the High School and Sunset Lake elementary have the most students in their buildings. Parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers can get in the act when they register for the race that will be held on Saturday, May 12 at 9 a.m. at the high school stadium.

The race was first staged by Bronson Vicksburg Hospital to show the health benefits of running and walking. Three years ago, the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation board agreed to keep it going by accepting the responsibility of organizing the race on the second Saturday of May. Thus, the idea was to keep the run as a family event, emphasize the health benefits and perhaps make a little extra money for the Foundation.

The challenge is to shake off the winter’s blahs, get out and start training and turn the day into a family affair.

Schoolcraft Teachers Also on a Healthy Kick

Keeping with that same healthy eating line, the Schoolcraft teaching staff is having its second annual “Rehabbing a favorite recipe day” on Wednesday, April 11 in the elementary school library. The challenge is for a cook to make a favorite recipe but change the ingredients to something healthier. For examples: potato salad made with yogurt vs. mayonnaise, spaghetti sauce over spaghetti squash as opposed to pasta, cake made with apple sauce instead of oil, brownies made with black beans in place of some of the wet ingredients, frosting made with simply cocoa and dates vs. sugar, and the list could go on and on.

They are inviting taste testers from the staff to cast votes costing $1 each. The winner will collect $50 and the gratitude of the taste testers. Recipes will be collected and made into an electronic cookbook available at a later date according to Darby Fetzer, school board president.

Bridge Organics Fire

Nobody was hurt in a fire at Bridge Organics but it had to be a little scary for the five people who were still in the building. They heard a loud noise as a small explosion occurred in one of the labs. About two gallons of a flammable solvent were involved in the accident, when the solvent was vaporized under a ventilation hood and ignited after 5 p.m. on March 26. The South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority (SKCFA) was on the job but the staff had quelled the fire almost before they got there. Chief Tracy McMillan said their tests didn’t reveal any air quality problems and thus no threat to the general public.

Fire Authority Meeting

At the board’s monthly meeting, Chief McMillan told the SKCFA board that a car had rammed the fire station doors in Schoolcraft. It damaged a jeep inside and the front end of the tanker to put them both out of service until repairs could be made. Why someone would want to do this is anybody’s guess but the person was apprehended and taken to the hospital for a psychological evaluation, McMillan said.

They also heard from a citizen in Brady Township who was concerned that the fire department was pumping standing water out of a person’s front yard on 29th Street, across the road, causing traffic to be stopped while this was taking place. The chief explained that this was a service the department sometimes offers if a basement is flooding due to the conditions experienced in February around the district. The board is looking at writing a policy that would cover this in the future when flooding occurs.

On the Corner

sue col 4By Sue Moore

Senior Millage Proposition Gets a Hearing

“A senior millage to augment services for Kalamazoo County’s aging residents, batted around for some time, has been placed on the county’s Aug. 6 ballot. That was approved by the county Board of Commissioners in a 6-5 vote, with this area’s commissioner, John Gisler, opposed. The board discussed several options: approving letting voters decide the millage – .35 mills for six years – looking for other funds or taking no action.” South County Community Services (SCCS) sent a large delegation to the board meeting, all of whom were in support of giving voters the choice.”

The issue was whether to place the decision on the August ballot and let the greater community decide if it wanted to be taxed .35 for six years or try to find the funds from some other pocket or not fund services to seniors at all. South County Community Services (SCCS) sent a large delegation to the board meeting, all of whom were in support of giving voters the choice.

Danna Downing and her associate, Diane Durian, work to help seniors in every way possible with the limited funds they have available at SCCS. They see the need up close and personal. It was clear that the support split down party lines with the six Democrats in the yes column and the five Republicans voting no after an honest and thought-provoking debate on the issue.

Now the real work begins for the supporters of the senior citizen millage. Kalamazoo County is one of only 10 counties in the state of Michigan without some sort of millage for seniors. The campaign will need to begin with leadership from Downing and her team at SCCS. Stay tuned to one of the biggest challenges of Downing’s life in public service.

I would lay odds that with Downing and the many she will muster to the cause, it will be successful. When Downing’s two boys were in grade school in Vicksburg, she walked into the Vicksburg Commercial-Express office in 1979 with a gleam in her eye. She wanted to get a plug in the paper for the school millage campaign that she was in charge of. This effort along with many others, yielded the first big successful millage campaign in many years. All millage requests since then have passed, allowing the schools to grow and prosper.

The dedication to this community has been Downing’s greatest contribution and I for one would not want to let her down, nor will any of the others that she has helped in this way down through the years.

Reaching the Century Mark

A good example for seniors is Ann (Matz) Linton who turned 107 in February. She graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1930 and is known to be the oldest living graduate of the school. Her parents owned a homemade candy and ice cream shop in downtown Vicksburg in the 30s, 40s and 50s. It must have been good for her health, consuming all that chocolate. Her daughter Mary Ann Hayward does a lot to take care of her but acknowledges that she has been failing a little more with each passing year.

Simmons Ford Has New Owners

Gene Simmons announced that he has sold the family dealership to DeNooyer in Kalamazoo in February. His father, Rovelle, began to sell cars in Vicksburg after World War II where the Dollar General store is today on E. Prairie Street. He moved to a new building at the corner of Boulevard and W. Prairie Street in the early 1950s. The community will really miss this local ownership but with the full knowledge that DeNooyer’s has been a standup dealership in Kalamazoo equally as long.