In Schoolcraft, fall weather and Chili in the Park have gone together for nine years. The 10th annual chili tasting event will take place from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 in Burch Park, according to Scott Hines, CEO of Kalamazoo County State Bank (KCSB) which sponsors the event.
The public is invited to attend and taste some locally made chili and support the nonprofits that participate in the day by making the chili and selling it in the park. There will also be vendors in the park selling fall goods.
“We started this signature event for our bank in 2008 when we celebrated our 100-year anniversary. We now hold the event annually the first Saturday of October. We invite everyone to come, taste and enjoy.”
To support the participating nonprofit agencies at Chili in the Park, the public is asked to donate a canned good for local food pantries. “This makes the day more about the donations and our community than the chili. It is about the unique and valuable support each of the agencies brings to the community,” Hines said.
The bank figures about $2,000 has been raised over the last 10 years of the event, all of which has been used to purchase supplies for the local pantries.
Founded in 1908, Kalamazoo County State Bank is the oldest independently owned and operated community bank in Kalamazoo County. KCSB has offices in Schoolcraft, Mattawan and Vicksburg.
Walking the dog in Schoolcraft just got a little more pleasant. The Lions Club has purchased two dog waste receptacles at Leo Burch Park near the community library. They were installed by the village’s public works department at north and south ends of the park. The park is one of the club’s ongoing service projects which also includes support for the Cub Scouts, the food pantry, Easter Egg hunt and the Lions Club’s Sitemobile.
Shown in the photo are left to right: Kirk Bergland with his dog Jordie, Kelly Bergland, Cindy Miller, Eric Kent and Mollie Hartlieb. The duty of emptying both waste containers has fallen upon Kirk Bergland since he and Kelly live across from the park.
Leo Burch, for whom the park is named, was a founding member of the Schoolcraft Lions Club. Members of the club helped to raise funds in the 1960s to create the memorial. They asked the village to name the park after Burch because of his devotion and fine service to Schoolcraft.
Debra Christiansen thought she needed to practice her upcoming guided tours of the township cemetery. So she invited a few knowledgeable Schoolcraft historians on a preview of the tour she’ll offer as a fundraiser the first three Saturdays of October.
An extensive amount of research has gone into her presentation centered around Schoolcraft notables who are buried in the cemetery that fronts on U.S. 131. She isn’t revealing in advance the identities of the famous or infamous people in her presentation. But she includes some stories about the Spiritualist movement in Schoolcraft at the turn of the century, especially as they relate to activities at the Troxel House Hotel, now Bud’s Bar.
Part of her research dealt with the discovery of “seen forces” such as bacteria, and “unseen forces” such as electricity combined with the “new thought” that the dead don’t die, indicating that Victorians were forced to deal with death in a different way.
This excerpt from her dialogue speaks to the use of the color black.
“For women, the customs involved wearing heavy, concealing, black clothing, and the use of heavy veils of black crêpe. Special caps and bonnets, usually in black or other dark colors, went with these ensembles. There was mourning jewelry, often made of jet. Jewelry was also occasionally made from the hair of the deceased.
“It was thought that after a person died and before they reached the other side, they could possibly snatch the soul of their loved ones and take them with them. It was also thought that these souls in transition could not see the color black. So if you haven’t chosen to wear black today in our cemetery… Pity.
“Widows were expected to wear special clothes to indicate that they were in mourning for up to four years after the death, although a widow could choose to wear such attire for the rest of her life, as in the case of Queen Victoria. To change the costume earlier was considered disrespectful to the deceased and, if the widow was still young and attractive, suggestive of potential sexual promiscuity.
“Those subject to the rules were slowly allowed to re-introduce conventional clothing at specific times; such stages were known by such terms as ‘full mourning’, ‘half mourning’, and similar descriptions. For half mourning, muted colors. One color called heliotrope was named for a flower that is purple-ish. It could be introduced selectively.”
Tickets are for sale at pureschoolcraft.org for $20 each. There is a limit of 16 people per tour and 39 tickets have been sold thus far, Christiansen reported. The dates are October 7, 14 and 21, all at 1 and 4 p.m.
Proceeds will benefit the Schoolcraft Community Library, Schoolcraft Ladies Library, Schoolcraft Historical Society.
“We normally support living folks, not dead ones,” jokes Cindy Miller, president of the Schoolcraft Lions Club. Their newest project however is to clean all the veterans’ headstones in the Schoolcraft cemetery.
“It may take us up to a year,” Miller said. “We have organized two cleaning bees in September and will see how much we can get done this fall before the snow flies.”
Each club member who is helping has been asked to bring their own bucket with dish soap and a little bit of bleach in the water, a putty knife to chip away at the mold, a wire brush and protective gloves. They will be able to utilize a power sprayer when they get toward the newer area of the cemetery where there is water available.
It was the end of an era in Schoolcraft as the school board accepted a proposal to sell the early elementary school building at its September board meeting. It was held in the former school on Cass Street.
Buyers Jamie and Windy Clark of Clark Logic are planning to use the building and property as a residential development. The couple displayed artist’s renderings of improvements they hope to make to modernize the building’s exterior slightly, but stressed how they wanted to re-use the existing buildings.
Stitt said the price of the sale was $75,000. The board and buyers hope to close the sale by October 31.
“We want to honor the history of Schoolcraft,” Jamie Clark said. “That’s the first and foremost priority of this project.”
He said they plan to have a yet undecided number of condos and they are hoping parts of the building such as the gym can be used in conjunction with their Wind and James event center. The event center is a brownfield renovation of the former Arco property on Eliza Street.
While residential is a new venture for the Three Rivers-based business, they are excited by the opportunity. “We really see it as a complimentary opportunity to expand our vision in the arts,” Windy Clark said.
“You can see just from the drawings, it’s a very professional approach to everything they do,” Village President Keith Gunnett said. “I think everyone in town will enjoy that it is not coming down.”
Trustee Jason Walther felt it was the perfect solution for the school and community. “It feels like you guys were part of our strategic planning session a few months ago,” Walther said. “One of our big challenges that we have in the community is just in housing.”
Former board trustee Skip Fox had many memories from the building and his children and grandchildren attending classes there. “If walls could talk, we’d probably all be a little shaken,” Fox said. He recalled watching basketball games in the tiny gym before the bleachers were walled off.
Former Principal Nancy Haas also felt the board was making the right decision in letting go of the building that has served as elementary, middle and high schools over the years. “A building is just a building, but it’s the memories that will be in your hearts,” she said.
At its Annual Banquet on June 24, the Schoolcraft Alumni Association announced scholarships totaling $5,500.00 to six 2017 graduates:
Taylor Bell and Jason Feddema both received scholarships from the Alumni Association Scholarship fund. Taylor’s goal is to pursue art therapy at Prescott College in Arizona and make an impact on the lives of children she treats. Jason plans to attend KVCC to begin work toward his goal to become an elementary school teacher.
Megan West was awarded a specialized scholarship given by Bill and Sheila Nichols in honor of Harold B Nichols’ graduation from SHS 100 years ago in 1917. Mr. Nichols served in the US Navy during WWI, then went on to study engineering, work as an engineer, and travel the world with his wife Lillian. Megan will use her scholarship as she starts her educational journey at Grand Valley University with the goal of going to medical school to become a radiologist.
Three specialized scholarships were awarded in memory of a very special woman, Linda Pincumbe, who passed away early in 2017. Linda and her husband John Pincumbe came to Schoolcraft in 1978 and immersed themselves in the community and in supporting Schoolcraft Athletics. Linda ran a daycare and many Schoolcraft kids felt her immeasurable love. The Alumni Association was honored to present scholarship funds given in memory of Linda Pincumbe to Erin Seager, Madison Hybels, and Sophia Woodhams. Erin’s great love for animals has inspired her to study to become a veterinary technician at Baker College, Madison plans to attend Western Michigan University to study Health Informatics, and Sophia plans to study to become a neonatal nurse practitioner at the University of Michigan.
The Alumni Association banquet and annual meeting was attended by approximately 115 alumni and guests. President Judy Shelley Oliphant announced that the Alumni Association started a Specialized Scholarship program this year that funded four of the six scholarships awarded that evening. Judy encouraged alumni to stay in contact with the organization through its web pages on the Schoolcraft Schools website and/or its Facebook group.
Schoolcraft Homecoming royalty from left to right: Skyler Thompson freshman class rep; Grace Tremblay freshman class rep and princess; Brice Walther, junior class rep and prince; Payton Campbell, junior class rep; Lydia Goble, senior class rep; Zach Stokes, senior class rep and king; Paxton Green, senior class rep and queen; Collin Hampton, senior class rep; Zach Scott, senior class rep; Brooke Crissman, senior class rep; Levi Balcom sophomore class rep and Katie Parker, sophomore class rep. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.