Category Archives: On the Corner

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

In a bizarre Valentine’s Day accident on Silver Street, south of Vicksburg, a car jumped off the road and crashed into the DeDie/Richardson cemetery. The driver took out a row of headstones in the old section in the front of the cemetery, according to Brady Township Supervisor Randy Smith.

It was a beautiful day so he concluded that there was no weather-related reason for the accident and the driver blew zero on a blood-alcohol breath test, but did seem to be in a happy mood, Smith said. The driver was proceeding south at a pretty fast rate of speed. The car flipped over; he had to be extracted by the South Kalamazoo County Fire Department and transported to a hospital. Smith was called to the scene of the crash because the cemetery is maintained by the township. “The headstones were so old that the writing on them could not be easily deciphered. We have submitted an insurance report to mitigate the cost of repairs,” he said.

Cindy Kole Returns to Banking

Rawson Lake resident, Cindy Kole retired from PNC Bank in December, 2015 after 38 years, beginning when the bank was known as First of America. “I guess I wasn’t cut out for retirement and wanted to stay involved in a business I love. When three of the men I started with in banking called and asked me to return, it didn’t take long to decide,” she said.

She is now the chief operating officer at First National Bank of Michigan, overseeing marketing, public relations, human resources, treasury management, deposit operations and community reinvestment. It is a local bank, based in Kalamazoo and specializing in commercial banking, mortgages and some retail lending.

Dance Across the Decades

A fun-filled evening of dancing the night away will be held by South County Community Services once again as a fundraiser for the operation. It will be held on Saturday, April 22 at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church with 75 percent of the proceeds going to support the very important services of South County, according to Executive Director Danna Downing. Tickets are on sale with a call to 649-2901 at $65 per couple, $35 for an individual, provided they are ordered by April 15. The price goes up after that. The décor will celebrate the “Year of the Rooster,” providing some interesting ideas for costumes and dancing to DJ Jimmy Lawless of DeBiak Entertainment.

Security Changes at Vicksburg
Elementary Schools

All the Vicksburg school buildings will be getting a buzzer system for greater security of the buildings, according to Steve Goss, assistant superintendent. The three elementary schools have them installed and operational right now. It involves locked doors at the entrances and a call-in system for visitors to identify themselves. The secretaries are able to see a visual of the person requesting entry. The staff in each office then must buzz the visitor in so they have a good idea of who is in the building.

To a person, all felt this was a much needed safety system for the schools and feel very comfortable with the responsibility of handling this extra duty. Previously, visitors were required to check in at the office for a name tag but not much more was required.

Schoolcraft has had such a system for over three years. Staff members there feel it gives parents and children a much needed safety check.

Seattle Chef to Challenge Bobby Flay

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Vuong Loc.

Vuong Loc, a graduate of Vicksburg High School, was an immigrant who came here from Vietnam as a child. His family settled on Long Lake; he still has relatives in this area. After graduation, he attended the Culinary Institute of America and has owned several high-quality restaurants in the Seattle area for the past 10 years. He was invited to challenge Bobby Flay on his famous TV show as a guest chef. The contest was filmed last April and is being aired on Thursday, March 23 on the Food Network. It’s a must-watch show with plenty of drama to see who has the winning hand against the incorrigible Bobby Flay, at least for folks who knew Vuong around Portage and Vicksburg, before he was famous.

Schoolcraft & March Madness

Schoolcraft boys’ basketball team is looking like a valid entry into the state basketball tournament contest which begins the first week of March. This writer has always been glued to the TV screen for college basketball each year, but high school basketball is likely to be even more enticing. This newspaper will follow all of our local teams as they progress through the final days of play. Look for the latest postings on southcountynews.org or our Facebook page.

Vicksburg Sports Hall of Fame

Three new inductees have been voted into the Vicksburg Sports Hall of Fame by a selection committee for their excellence in athletics and their school records. The public is invited to participate in a gathering on April 15 at Angels Crossing beginning at 7:30 p.m. They are Larry Peck, a 1962 Vicksburg graduate who went on to run cross country at WMU on its national championship team; Molly Waterhouse, a 2008 graduate who excelled in track and cross county, setting many school records that are still unbroken; and Jon Kachneiwicz, being honored for his coaching expertise. He served as head football coach, assistant football coach and track coach for 41 years. He taught English at VHS for 36 years and is still with the track team.

On the Corner

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Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema and State Representative Dave Maturen stand in the food line to be served by the Boy Scouts of Troop 251 at their spaghetti dinner in 2016.

By Sue Moore

Carl Tackett and Dorothy Clark served on the Schoolcraft Village Council for many years until both passed away in 2016. The Council is getting ready to appoint two residents to take their seats on the podium. Five residents of the village have stepped up to be interviewed for the positions.

This newspaper will have gone to press before Monday night when the Council will make its decision. Council members will not have an easy time of it as all five have the capability to contribute to this governing body immediately. They are Kathy Mastenbrook, John Stabola, Joe Beck, Don Hunt and Kirk Bergland.

VCAC Sponsors a Presentation on Ukraine

Sponsoring a talk about the war in the Ukraine is a bit unusual for the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, but Syd Bastos recognized a good thing when she met it face to face, so to speak. John Kern and Jackie Koney, newcomers to Vicksburg a year or so ago, had spent four years in the Republic of Georgia and then another year in the Ukraine just as war broke out on the streets of Kiev. Since coming here, the couple has jumped into offerings at the Arts Center by attending many performances and contributing art work. John, as it turns out, is a chef of some repute as well, so Syd came up with an idea. Have John tell what it was like to witness a revolution and couple that with a dinner featuring Ukrainian food. On Saturday, February 11, he will showcase his photography taken on the streets during and after the shooting, along with telling the audience of their experiences. Tickets need to be purchased in advance at $40 each from the VCAC office. The event is being held at Angels Crossing Golf Clubhouse.

Revolutionary War of Our Own Making

None of us were around in 1776 when America’s own revolutionary war broke out, still we celebrate it with re-enactments and reading plenty of history books. Last year, re-enactors from the North West Territory Alliance, came to Vicksburg under the auspices of the Historical Society to show us how this history can come alive. It takes us back to the days that indelibly shaped the New World and left its imprint on our society even today.

The re-enactors will be back on June 24 and 25, camping on the Prudential Nursery property across the street from the Historic Village, thanks to Charlie and Cindy Krill. They have agreed to allow the re-enactors to do faux battle, pitch their tents as was customary in the 1770s, and live as civilians and the army did in 1776-83. The public will be invited to come watch the festivities and learn from the living history that will be offered.

Winter Activities to Get Us Out of the Doldrums

March activity kicks off on Saturday the 4th with a big day of activities in Vicksburg. For those who keep fit, a 5K race called the Chili Dash begins at 10:30 at the community pavilion. The Chamber of Commerce will offer its usual Chili Cookoff immediately following the race at the same venue. If you like spaghetti too, you can move right over to Vicksburg High School and enjoy Boy Scout Troop 251’s specialty spaghetti dinner, served from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s part of the enticement to attend the Rotary Club’s annual Showboat performance at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. If you also feel like kicking up your heels and want to dance, the Boosters’ Bounce Dance from 7:30 to midnight will round out your day. It’s at Indian Run Golf Clubhouse and benefits the Vicksburg Athletic Boosters organization.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

There are so few activities listed on the community calendar for January, it’s like the population of South County has dug in to a cave and doesn’t have plans to move out until spring. What we know to be true is that the many nonprofit organizations that typically sponsor events spend this time of year in planning for a break-out season soon to come.

The Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce is working on its annual chili cook-off to be held in March the community pavilion. That provides a fun time to see the neighbors and judge the best chili from local purveyors.

The Vicksburg Rotary Club on January 8 began rehearsals for Showboat, which will run in the first week of March. The director and head writer, Ken Franklin, was given the Golden Trowel Award by the Rotary District conference last fall, so now he once again will prove his magic touch with a bigger and better show than ever.
Boy Scouts Troop 251 is having big success in seeing six of its scouts earn their Eagle Scout honors in 2016-17 and have plans for their Court of Honor in January. This is huge to see so many earn this honor in one troop.

The announcement that there will be an artist domicile and event center in Schoolcraft opening in April is a big deal for Jamie and Windy Clark of Vicksburg. This should work in combination with the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center very nicely to draw even more artists to our communities and make the cultural aspects of living here even richer.

Plans are in the works for the Vicksburg Ladies Library Auxiliary to celebrate its 125th anniversary this spring. That is the literary side of the good life here along with the Schoolcraft Ladies Library Association that twice monthly puts on interesting, varied programs in their beautiful building.

The Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority is finalizing grants for façade improvements that will serve to spruce up the storefronts even more than what was done in 2016.

The Vicksburg Historical Society is gearing up for its second Battle of Sunset Lake as part of the exploration of the history of the Revolutionary War. A new location for the encampment will be announced in February.

If you are thinking fresh veggies and fruit, so is the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market board as it works on a strategic planning process that they hope will bring with it some new and innovative ideas for the market.

WMU’s Fans

It was heartwarming to see the successful season the WMU Bronco football team had in 2016. Their many fans from this area showed their affection by the thousands by traveling to the Cotton Bowl game in Arlington, TX. Too bad that P.J. Fleck is now history for WMU. There were also ten local members of the Bronco’s marching band who accompanied the team and had a terrific experience according to Raegan Soekarmoen who is a senior from Vicksburg playing trombone and leading his section. They had the experience of a lifetime, he said. “Words just could not describe it.”

Injuries

Last spring senior Blake Bales, suffering from a broken thumb, had to suspend his baseball play for part of the season, but discovered varsity golf was something he could do with the broken thumb. He went on to join the golf team at the state finals in Lansing. Then, after a successful 2016 football season (Bales caught 4/5 and scored 4 times), he learned he has a stress fracture of his right leg, and will be sitting the bench until mid-January. He has, however, discovered he can bowl on the varsity bowling team and maintain a 185 average.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

The parade route in downtown Vicksburg for Christmas in the Village has been lengthened. This is to accommodate the floats and fire engines that are expected to take part in the evening parade which was a first-time success in 2015. People were sometimes standing ten deep at the corner of Prairie and Main Streets. The congestion was deemed a safety issue as the big fire trucks had a hard time navigating the corner to turn south on Main Street. Once the parade is over, the fire trucks will park on S. Main so kids and families can inspect the decorated equipment.

June Morley a Vicksburg Icon

The passing of June Morley in October marked the close of a chapter of this remarkable lady’s almost century of giving back to her community. She was musically gifted and gave generously of her time as a pianist. There are so many musicians whom she has made better. She spent years accompanying students in school contests at the local and state competition levels. Jim Shaw, Vicksburg’s band director for many years, remembers when the planners for competitions had to schedule around her because she was accompanying so many students all on one day.

One of her greatest gifts was playing for the Rotary Club Showboat for 30 years. This meant rehearsals and performances where she might be playing along and the singer would forget the words or go off key in the middle of a song. She would just transition to the key they were in and go right on playing just like nothing ever happened.

She had other interests too, especially in antiques. She knew the value of most everything coming into her store that she opened where Home Again is now located. She got interested in line dancing and was often seen at area hot spots, kicking up her heels. She had a great influence on the lives of young and old alike.

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Sue Cooley will move her antiques business from the Schoolcraft Antique Mall to the buildings formerly occupied by Norma and Carl Tackett on Grand Street in Schoolcraft.

Schoolcraft Antique Business Growing Again

Sue Merrill Cooley has purchased the buildings where Norma and Carl Tackett lived and worked on Schoolcraft’s Grand Street. She plans to live in one side of the building and open her own shop in the area that Norma developed into one of the premier antique stores in all of Michigan. Cooley had previously had her collection of antiques showcased in the Antique Mall and before that at her sister’s Rawlinson’s Appliances store in Vicksburg.

Other Businesses Opening in Schoolcraft

A medical doctor’s office has been approved by the Planning Commission to occupy what was the Crown Pharmacy in Schoolcraft on Grand Street in January.

In addition, Stacy Peck has plans to open a hair salon in the building that previously housed the Cupcake shop on S. Grand. She will offer nail services and cosmetics and have a potential for massages in this 100-year-old building.

Jamie Clark’s company has plans for a Planned Unit Development for the former Arco building on Eliza Street were approved by the planning commission and the village council. There will be an art gallery inside the building, an event center, as well as storage for manufacturers in this 100,000 square foot building. The planning commission was concerned about paving of the dirt parking lots and asked that all of it be done by November 1 of 2017.

In addition, Clark Logic, owned by Jamie Clark with headquarters in Three Rivers, has just purchased the former Eimo building on VW Avenue in Vicksburg’s Leja Industrial Park.

Students Help Rake Leaves

Schoolcraft Middle School students, called “SMS Squads,” fanned out across the street from their school to help neighbors rake leaves in November. People were amazed to find help for a task that some of them couldn’t do for themselves, said Jim Lockwood, a Clay Street resident.

“I’m disabled and unable to get outside. Then here comes a group of youngsters who didn’t ask for anything, just went to work raking the leaves. I am so grateful and want others to know of this kindness,” Lockwood said.

Dave Michaelson, who lives across the street, has a broken bone in his foot; he watched the kids rake up what looked like a ton of leaves. He is the son of the former Schoolcraft band director and found out that the Mr. Mike award was still given out each year, keeping his father’s memory alive; he was doubly grateful. “They just came and did my lawn. Kudos to the Schoolcraft School system for teaching kids home town values,” Michaelson exclaimed.

Middle School Principal Dave Powers said the leaf raking was an effort on behalf of the school to give back to the community, particularly those neighbors who are shut-in or seniors in need of assistance. “So much of the news and contemporary thought focuses on the negative of teenagers, so we wanted to demonstrate that Schoolcraft Middle School students make the choice to live beyond their own world to serve others.”

“Another reason we wanted to do this activity is also centered around the effort we’ve made this year to build 5th through 8th grade families, or SMS Squads as we call them, comprised of approximately 15 students. Our goal is to sponsor some fun and celebratory type activities, like the dodgeball tournament we had on Halloween, and then do some community service projects together like the ‘Rake and Run’.”

“These Squads will stay together for their entire middle school career. We ask the 8th graders to step up and lead, to show us the way and set the tone for the year. At the end of the year we celebrate their graduation to high school, recognize our rising 8th grade group of leaders and make a special welcome to the incoming 5th graders.  So far this school year the Squads have been a beautiful thing to behold,” Powers said.

On the Corner

liberty-laneBy Sue Moore

VCAC at Risk

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center has come to a crossroads at the end of its first year in existence. It needs to be self-supporting even though it is under the auspices of the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The vision for the Arts Center was to fill a void in the community. It was thought if the arts flourished it would bring new people to town along with providing a way for the resident artists to sell their exceptional work. It was determined that they needed a showplace for their product and possibly a work area to be creative.

There have been hiccups along the way but with the hiring of two dedicated people, Syd Bastos and Lisa Beams, the center has flourished. They have put on lots of musical events, art shows, poetry readings, and spent hundreds of hours on honing the displays in the gallery at 201 S. Main, so the best pieces would sell. It costs $133 dollars per day to keep the center open six days a week, according to Bastos. The revenue, though significant, just has not caught up to the expenses.

The auction that Bastos and Beams have planned for Nov. 11, may provide enough dollars to keep going. But if it falls short, a whole new game plan will be needed. They hope the community will get behind this big event and be the turning point for the Arts Center.

Christmas in the Villages

This is the third year for the Vicksburg DDA to sponsor Christmas in the Village and the 28th year for Schoolcraft businesses to open the doors for their Christmas Walk. Some new wrinkles have been added in both communities for the weekend of December 2 and 3.

Vicksburg will have all of its activities occur from 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 and going late into the evening, with a Holiday Hop wrapping up the activities. The highlight again this year will be the parade at 5:30 which features the holiday lights theme so popular in 2015 and the Big Red Machine high school marching band.

Schoolcraft businesses and the Ladies Library will be open on Friday night for their usual patron visits. On Saturday, December 10, the Schoolcraft Library has planned a beautiful homes tour that opens the doors to four of the quintessential homes in the village to fortunate ticket holders.

This newspaper will feature both villages’ activities in its December issue. This is just a reminder to keep your calendars open to attend these events.

Karla Piper’s Jewelry

Karla has been designing and selling her beautiful silver jewelry at local stores for the past few years. Just recently, she was invited to display and sell her Fordite jewelry at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Shop. Fordite is a material made from layers of paint buildup sprayed on cars in the manufacturing process according to Piper.

This represents a big step up for the Siesta Silver Jewelry Co. that she operates out of her home in Vicksburg. Her focus has been on designing jewelry for quilters and thus she travels the country going to quilt shows. This represents a big breakthrough and provides another avenue of business for her.

Kent McCauley

Vicksburg’s Kent McCauley and his wife Shelley moved to North Dakota where he accepted a job as manager of Butler Machinery in Grand Forks, North Dakota, just in time to catch the boom in the oil industry exploration in that state. His company sells Caterpillar machinery and is now at least holding its own he reports, even though the oil boom has soured. While serving on the Vicksburg Village Council, he proposed putting the Bulldog emblem on the water tower. At first the idea met with a good deal of skepticism but he kept plugging away at it and now the Bulldog even shines at night with a well-placed spotlight shining on it.

Liberty Lane Construction

Kathleen Hoyle, the Vicksburg DDA director reports progress on the Liberty Lane East construction. Over the next two weeks, the landscaping will be in place, as well as the sign arches for both Liberty Lane East and Liberty Lane West and if the weather holds the wall along Jaspare’s will get a new coat of paint.  The lamp posts are on back order and will hopefully be in place by the Christmas events.

On the Corner

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Cole VanderMeulen holds a drawing of the benches for his Eagle Scout project at the Vicksburg Recreation Park.

By Sue Moore

Boy Scouts Eagle Ceremony

Josh White and Tanner White (no relation) are the first two Boy Scouts from Troop #251 to complete their work to become Eagle Scouts this year. When attending Tanner’s ceremony, it provided a time to reflect on the basic goodness of the people in this community and elsewhere. The adult leadership in scouting provides the role models for these young men to emulate. Those leading Troop #251 are exemplary.

If ever there was a ceremony that typifies the basic values of this country and even the free world, I believe it is the Boy Scout honor court. Probably right up there with the folks who take the pledge to become American citizens.

Disc Golf Course Repair

Another good example of the scouts helping out is Cole VanderMeulen’s Eagle Scout project at Vicksburg’s Recreation Park where disc golfing has become very popular. Hole #15 had a bad case of erosion with water lapping up to the side and the tee pad likely to decline into the water. Cole consulted with Mike Gary who is the volunteer operator at the park about how to assemble and build a retaining wall. The materials were donated by the professional disc golf association, three benches were pre-constructed and the whole thing came together with scouts recruited by Cole. They got the job done in just one day.

Trail Maintenance Crew

Bob Prater has had a crew of volunteers cutting brush and tree limbs along the existing portion of the Vicksburg walking trail. They are picking and plugging away at it when they have time waiting for the mosquitoes to subside, Prater said.

Harvest Festival Rewards

The Historical Society’s Harvest Festival was again a huge success for those who attended and those who helped to make it happen. John Polasek and Don Wiertella served as co-chairs this year with help from over 60 volunteers during this last Sunday of September event. It provides a chance for kids and adults alike to learn a little bit about this community’s agricultural heritage and its history. All the buildings are open with activities going on in each one. The grounds and pavilion were populated with folks selling antiques, food and produce. The most popular display each year is the Animal Zone that is organized by Sue Harper-Grieger. The best estimate is over 2,000 were in attendance at this free event.

Jim Mallery Honored at WMU Homecoming

It’s really nice that Western Michigan University has recognized Vicksburg’s new village manager. He has been selected by his alma mater to receive an outstanding alumni achievement award from the School of Public Affair and Administration. He will be honored for his years in public service on Friday, October 7 at a ceremony as part of the university’s Homecoming events. He achieved a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration during his years at WMU. For 25 years he served with the Kalamazoo City Police Department, rising to Captain before retiring and stepping into the shoes of Ken Schippers, Vicksburg’s previous village manager. During 18 of those years he and his wife Stephanie have been Vicksburg residents and raised their three sons, Drew, Luke and Cole, in this community.

Apple Knockers Owners to Open Drive-Through Coffee Shop

The plan right now is to open a coffee shop and drive through in property at 625 W. Prairie Street in Vicksburg. The three ladies who own Apple Knockers, Paula Hochstetler, Angela Palomaki, and Rita Sertic, are expanding the business with an eye toward opening around the first of the year. The Bulldog Fitness Center and hair styling business will remain in the building that was once owned by Jack Fryling and his family.

The Girl Garage Has Closed

It’s sad to see that Tanya DeLong has left Vicksburg’s Main Street business sector. She got involved in many good events going on in the village and her store had a special vibe. She plans to work out of her home for the time being and still hold court with many of her sewing and knitting buddies. Her enthusiasm and caring for the village will not cease, she said.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

art stroll
Art Stroll Wows People

The Vicksburg Art Stroll was a great success with many people coming from out of town to visit the 18 shops along Main and Prairie Streets that participated. They showed terrific art and plenty of good music. The event was especially enhanced because the first craft brewery to come to town, Distant Whistle, was open for the very first time. Kudos to organizers Syd Bastos, Lisa Beam and Leigh Fryling from the Cultural Arts Center for a fine show.

June Morley is at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

The much loved and venerated June Morley had a stroke several weeks ago. It was an aneurism at the top of her brain so it’s a pretty serious illness for a lady of 94 who just went dancing a few weeks ago. She was everybody’s music teacher, who passed through the portals of Vicksburg schools for 40 or more years. She still plays a mean piano while rehabilitating at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids. The staff has brought in a piano for her to practice on and it turns out she is entertaining the many others who are in the hospital, uplifting all of their spirits.

Ed Knapp Returns to Wrestling

Another Vicksburg teacher and coach, Ed Knapp, is returning to coach the wrestling team this winter, according to Mike Roy, Vicksburg’s athletic director. Knapp had many championship wrestlers and teams during his tenure in the 1970s and 80s. It’s great to have him back as he is a tremendous motivator in most any sport, though he made his mark primarily in wrestling. His work with the softball team, along with head Coach Paul Gephart, took the girls to the state finals this spring.

Proof That One Vote Does Count

The race for Schoolcraft Township clerk turned out to be a close one. Incumbent Virginia Mongrieg received 407 votes and challenger Deb Vliek received 406. Vliek has asked for a recount which will take place the first week of September, according to Tim Snow, Kalamazoo County Clerk/Register. There were two tie votes in the primary in Texas Township, where the winners were chosen by the luck of a draw.

Trail Grant Held Over for Possible Funding Next Year

Kathleen Hoyle found out that the trail grant she applied for with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was turned down for this year, just before the Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) annual meeting in August. The officials at MDOT have encouraged Hoyle to re-submit the grant again in 2017. They tell her they like the plans but want to come to Vicksburg for a site evaluation in September. In the meantime, the DDA is looking at all options. It might be possible to build a small portion of the trail with the money raised thus far, but then more dollars would be needed for matching if the grant is actually awarded for 2018.

Mark Louis Wins Pallet Contest

A year or so ago, this newspaper featured Mark Louis and the barn he largely constructed out of wood pallets. He entered the little red barn, which he called coop de ville, or chicken coop, in Kalamazoo Goodwill’s Pallet Palooza and won the top overall prize and the top functional prize. It meant he took home $750 in prize money, only to turn around two days later to total his Jeep on the way home from work. He hit a tree that laid across the road during one of the many recent rainstorms. It was close enough to his house on 27th street that he could walk home. When he and his wife Sheri drove back to get the Jeep, there were people out in the nearby cornfield looking for someone who might have been thrown out of the vehicle, not knowing he could walk home unscathed.