Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

The Christmas parade winners in Vicksburg’s Christmas in the Village event found Frederick Construction staff outdoing itself to take first place with a lighted float. It’s really great to see such imagination and participation in the parade as all of the entries displayed. Second place went to the Vicksburg village Department of Public Works for its lighted decoration of its plow truck. Third place went to the Special Olympics float.

Alex Lee, assistant to the village manager, was charged with obtaining judges for the parade. They included Congressman Fred Upton, Portage City Mayor Patricia Randall, County Treasurer Mary Balkema and Stephanie Mallery.

Mike Frederick described his company’s entry: “Our float was designed by Chad Kandow, our estimator, and Brandy Wisz, our comptroller. The costumes were designed and created by Brandy Wisz, Julie Stoll and Rachael Dedes. The basic idea came from the movie “How to Train your Dragon”.

“The lead builders were Greg Dedes, Chad Kandow, Ryan Collins, supported by the Frederick Construction employees. The float deck and dragon jail were constructed out of wood framing material, metal conduit, and concrete reinforcement fabric. It had approximately 9,000 individual LED lights, 18 special-effect motion lights, 180 feet of LED rope lights, a lighted fog machine and a sound machine. The dragon was constructed out of metal tubing, wire mesh , and 55 cans of spray foam. The wings were constructed out of metal tubing and sheets of pipe insulation.

“We intend to repurpose all of the material, some of which will be used for next year’s float. Who knows where the dragon will end up? The Frederick team really enjoyed walking the parade route watching the reaction of the kids and their parents.”
“All of the floats were outstanding,” Frederick said. “The competition was tough and knowing the competitors that will be part of the 2020 parade the Frederick Team has already started the planning for next year! Stay tuned!”

Toy Train Display at the Historic Village

A total of 339 visitors caught the excitement of the toy train setup in the Historic Village over three weekends in December, according to Joe Timko, who sets up the display each year. “The attendance on the afternoon of the parade is always plus or minus since so many people come in a relatively short period of time. A better estimate would be “a whole bunch” he said.

He collected $117.37 in donations. “Our operation was greatly aided by two very generous toy train donations in 2019. The first was a postwar group of trains which were not suited for our layout. But I sold it and then purchased a badly needed replacement set of Grand Trunk Western diesels for $400, at no cost to the Society. On the day of the parade we also received a Grand Trunk Western collection of very nicely custom decorated engines and cars, some of which we immediately incorporated into our running layout, much to the delight of the donor,” Timko said. “Most importantly, we couldn’t have done it without the help of Ben Maxey (set-up), Rick Davison, Phil Timko, and Justin Plankenhorn (running the trains) and the Historical Society members supplying us with cookies to keep the guys who run the trains running.”

Brownfield Presentation in L.A.

The Mill at Vicksburg was featured in a talk by Jackie Koney at the 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference in Los Angeles. Entitled “All Roads Lead to Vicksburg”, Koney told about the public-private partnership that is saving the former Lee Paper company mill from the wrecking ball. Cosponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National Brownfields Training Conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties.

Prairie View Park Update

The attorney for the Johnson family that was litigating to keep control of their property inside of Prairie View Park in Schoolcraft Township reported on a small success in their effort against Kalamazoo County. The issue was first mentioned in the South County News’ November edition.

Attorney Randell Levine had sued the county for the Johnson family, alleging a violation of the state open meetings act in 2019. In his plea, he said the County Board of Commissioners had decided in a closed meeting to “take” the property which had been in the family since the 1930’s.

Circuit Court Judge Curtis Bell’s opinion in December ruled that the county commissioners violated the Open Meetings Act and “jumped the gun” in an attempt to condemn a family-owned lakefront property inside the park. He said the county board had made the decision without public input following a series of meetings conducted behind closed doors. He threw out the board’s decision and ruled the issue must be revisited in open session at a future meeting.

Judge Bell also said the land-owners had a right to talk with their county commissioner, John Gisler and ask him to hear them out but they were denied that by the county attorney, Beth White. She was subsequently fired from her job, likely not about this issue alone.

Beekeepers Meet on Feb. 5

While bees are the furthest thing from most people’s minds right now, the Kalamazoo Bee School is attempting to beat winter blues with its annual bee school. It’s February 15, at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and offers classes for new-bees, experienced beekeepers and nature lovers. More information may be found at http://www.kalamazoobeeclub.com.

Schoolcraft’s own Charlotte Hubbard is president of the club and will be teaching bee keeping classes. Dr. James Tew is the keynote speaker.

On the Corner

taylor's family for on the corner
Taylor VanSchoick is surrounded by his parents Patsy and Jerry and brother Mitchell.

By Sue Moore

Taylor VanSchoick Honored

To celebrate this season of giving, lots of friends of Taylor VanSchoick, a 2009 Vicksburg High School graduate, combined to give him the gift of love by feting him at a recent gathering at Indian Run Golf Course. Taylor is suffering from his third bout of cancer, this time with very expensive COBRA health insurance. He has the most positive attitude imaginable, given what he has been through with this latest round of chemotherapy, primarily administered to keep the cancer from growing instead of attempting to wipe it out.

His parents, Jerry and Patsy VanSchoick, are just as positive and were grateful that so many of their friends showed up at the event to support Taylor. Their close friends and family organized the fundraiser along with many of Patsy’s classmates from the Vicksburg High School 1983 graduating class. It took everyone pulling together to make the evening successful, co-organizer Sheri Freeland said. Many donations of food and items for raffle went to raise money for Taylor’s travel expenses and housing as he is receiving treatments in Detroit. He has had to go as far as California and Texas in hopes of finding a cure.

Members of the Jag Band combined with others for the entertainment and Indian Run Golf Course closed down to regular guests for the Saturday evening in November. They did so much to make the evening a success, said Freeland. A.J. LaPort, Taylor’s cousin, and Paul Bush joined Toby Hardy and Dave Reno and played for over seven hours.
Taylor’s family and friends filled the dining room during the five-hour open house.

Drew Forsyth Battles Cancer

Another young person from Vicksburg, Drew Forsyth, was diagnosed with colon cancer early in October and he too did not have health insurance. His parents, Tina and Larry Forsyth, have spent years volunteering for others less fortunate in the greater Vicksburg community. This time it was natural for their friends to give back to Drew, especially members of the Vicksburg Rotary Club who took up a collection to help cover some of his expenses. The good news is that Drew is recuperating well and is back at the job at KCSB he started just before the cancer diagnoses was made.

Jason Myers Treated for a Brain Aneurysm

A benefit dinner for Jason Myers, a 1989 Vicksburg High School graduate is being held on Saturday, December 7 in downtown Three Rivers. He suffered a brain aneurysm burst in September. He had to be airlifted to the University of Michigan Medical Center for major brain surgery. Jason and his medical team have worked hard to restore him to good health and believe he has turned a corner. Tickets for the catered dinner are $25 each and can be obtained by calling the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce office, the Village Auto Wash in Schoolcraft or Vetter McGill Chevrolet in Three Rivers. For more information, folks may call 269-207-5212.

The Tradition Continues

The 2019 Tree of Lights, sponsored by South County Community Services since 2013, is a fundraiser to provide direct assistance and support to families in need in this area. The SCCS can identify those in need without publicly stating their case for assistance.

There are so many ways to give. The people of this area have come to the aid of less fortunate many times over. At this time of year, we who are able to do so gladly share by setting such great examples of love and kindness to each other. By opening our pocketbooks or just doing good deeds that no one but the recipient knows about, we benefit just as much.

We live in a special community.

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.”