Category Archives: On the Corner

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.

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

on the corner 1
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.