Category Archives: Schoolcraft

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Set to Open in March at Schoolcraft Performing Arts Center

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Schoolcraft students act out their parts for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” From left: Tim VanOrman, Merinda Edwards, Chance Evans.

By Sue Moore

The musical “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” was chosen by Director Leigh Fryling for Schoolcraft’s annual spring production. Curtain is at 7 p.m. on March 16 and 17 and 2 p.m. on March 18.

Fryling is succeeding a longtime Schoolcraft community institution: Christine Sargeant coached the school’s teenagers through many years on the stage of the Performing Arts Center at the high school.

Since Fryling was appointed to the job in November, she wanted to keep her first big play offering to the community simple, but fun and collaborative. “We are building all new rapport together with the students while keeping the tradition of great productions in Schoolcraft that Sargeant was known for. The Charlie Brown script is like flipping through the Sunday funnies. It’s full of vignettes of the comic strip. The music is upbeat consisting of jazz, classical, swing and even tango,” she said.

Playing the leading role of Charlie Brown is Tim VanOrman, who will sing and reluctantly dance, according to Fryling. “He can be a goofy kid but underneath is shy. He has a background in the Kalamazoo Civic along with his family’s participation in the theater.

Lucy is Merinda Edwards, a senior with her first lead role. She has been on the tech crew and been a stage manager in the past. “She is blossoming in the role, becoming the perfect Lucy in the process,” Fryling said.

Hayden Long plays Snoopy and has been in previous Schoolcraft productions but not in a leading role. “This was a surprise casting as he tends to be reserved. But when he auditioned with a song from ‘Into the Woods,’ he nailed it. He is eager to please and learn his craft,” Fryling said.

Others in the cast include Chance Evans as Linus, Isabelle Parker as Sally, Colin Evans as Schroeder, Beth Pavlak as Peppermint Patti and Hope Spencer as Marcie. Amelia Brown, Chloe Scott and Bridget Crofoot perform as Woodstock and company.

Fryling is well known in the area as an accomplished director and performer. She has sung for concerts at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center and was the founder of the Revelry Theater that has staged two plays in the Vicksburg Community Center. “I’ve turned over the reins of Revelry to Cassidy Haines and Ethan Waldron as I prepare for the Schoolcraft play and also have a baby in mid-August,” Fryling said. She is a substitute teacher looking to complete her master’s degree in English to take a full-time position.

Oak Wilt Disease is Encroaching on South County

A tree trimmer hard at work in an oak tree in the spring.

By Hailey Black

Editor’s note: Oak Wilt disease can be controlled somewhat by timing pruning of oaks. Michigan DNR suggests no pruning from early April through June 15. The “safe to prune” time is November through March. The following story explains the situation with the disease.

When the first white settlers came upon what is now called Schoolcraft in the early 1800s, they noted a vast prairie with surrounding dense oak forests, inhabited by the native Potowatomi. The south Kalamazoo area we know and love today may look quite different, but evidence of those ancient oak forests still surrounds our communities.

Today, the most notorious threat to our beloved oak trees lies in oak wilt disease.

Oak wilt disease is caused by a fungus which is almost always fatal to oak trees. Once infected, the tree dies within months or even weeks. It first appeared in the U.S. around the 1970s, and the source is still unclear. Possibly, the fungus was introduced from Mexico, Central or South America. It has since spread throughout the Midwest and Texas. Despite the spread, “the number of confirmed cases is declining,” according to Linda Whitlock of the Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Program at the Kalamazoo County Michigan State University Extension Office. She attributes much of this to education and outreach efforts.

Part of the outreach is teaching how the disease spreads. This can happen one of two ways: When an oak tree is wounded, either via pruning or storm damage, the wound releases a pheromone. Whitlock notes that the pheromone “smells like rotting fruit” that attracts “picnic beetles”, which can carry the fungus from one tree to another. The disease can also be spread from an infected tree’s complex underground root grafts, 50 to 100 feet apart.

Red oaks (with the pointed leaves) are most susceptible to oak wilt disease and can die within weeks of symptoms being noted. White oaks (with rounded leaves) tend to be more resistant to the fungus and can take months to die. Phillip Kurzeja, forest health technician with the Oak Wilt Mapping and Community Outreach Forest Resource Division of the Michigan DNR notes that occasionally, if caught early enough, white oak trees infected with wilt can be treated, but often the disease is fatal. Treatment itself occurs to prevent the spread of disease to other nearby oaks.

This is what makes oak wilt one of the more unique tree diseases. Treatment options don’t necessarily save a property owner’s tree, but proper management can prevent the fungus from spreading throughout the owner’s and neighboring properties. Whitlock states that proper management may include “trenching” an infected tree to prevent spread through root grafts. Another form of management may include carefully and tightly covering infected oak wood with a tarp to prevent spread via a dead tree. Kurzeja said that not moving firewood is important, because “If it is moved by a person – in infected firewood – it can start a new epicenter anywhere there is host and suitable conditions.”

Kurzeja added that the Michigan DNR has confirmed cases of oak wilt near the south county area (in Ramona Park and the Gourdneck State Game area), though he did not confirm cases within Schoolcraft or Vicksburg. He noted that sometimes potential cases go unreported by property owners, and the Michigan DNR cannot directly manage private property.

Both Whitlock and Kurzeja agreed that oak wilt can be mistaken for other oak diseases, so early and correct identification is important. Kurzeja said, “A healthy tree’s foliage can begin to brown from the tips of the leaves toward the stem, usually starting at the top of the tree and in a matter of a few weeks to a month, can go from fully leafed out to almost completely bare. These symptoms can begin as early as May extending through the summer into September and October is some parts of the state.” Two other oak pests, the two lined chestnut borer (TLCB) and Armillaria root rot, are sometimes mistaken for oak wilt disease.

Although Kurzeja wasn’t aware of any impact studies done by the state to analyze oak wilt’s effect, MSU’s tree experts acknowledge the impact of oak wilt on property values, and estimates that each tree lost may represent thousands of dollars. He also estimates that “trenching” two trees could cost about $300, and tree removal could range from $2,000-$7,000.

With those numbers, it’s easy to see why experts say that prevention is key. For folks in South County, keeping a watchful eye on their own oaks can preserve their properties and their neighbors’, as well as a bit of the heritage of these well-loved communities.


Mary Evelyn Bell, 79, Vicksburg, passed February 19. She is survived by her sons, Thomas (Lisa) Bell of Yardley, Pa., Matthew (Jackie) Bell of Vicksburg, and James Bell of Armada, Mich.; and grandchildren Anthony, Dmitry, Joanna, Katie, Marlena and Zbigniew. She is also survived by siblings Farmer (Linda) Harris, of Canada and Marilyn (Roy) Puckrin, of Canada. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Frank Bell, in 2012; and a brother, Bill Harris. A memorial service was held on Saturday, February 24 at Life Story Funeral Home, Vicksburg. Please visit Mary Evelyn’s webpage at where you can read her life story, sign the guestbook, and share a memory. Those who wish may make a contribution to the Vicksburg Library and Great Lakes Caring Hospice.

John L. Frakes
, 62, Vicksburg, passed away February 13. He was born to John C. and Marjorie (Baldwin) Frakes on November 4, 1955. John graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1973 and received a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University. Right out of college, he began working for the City of Marshall. From there, John worked for the City of Battle Creek and then for the City of Allentown, Pa. He and his wife, Cyndi, spent seven years living there before moving back to the Vicksburg area in 1988. He was employed as treasurer and assessor for the City of Parchment from 1990 until retirement after 25 years. John’s family includes his wife, Cynthia; children Jonathan (Michele) Frakes, of Portage and Heather Frakes, of New York; grandchildren Gianna, Brighton, Everett, Aneli and Maverick; siblings Barb (Ted) Sanger, of Jackson; Randy (Rick King) Frakes, of Florida; and Karen (Steve) Marshall, of Georgia. The family received friends on February 23. A memorial service was held Saturday, February 24 at Wakeshma Community Church, Fulton. Please visit John’s webpage at where you can sign the guestbook and share a memory. Those who wish may make contributions to the Wakeshma Community Church and Hospice care of Southwest Michigan.

Linda Sue (Bartos) (Clark) Harvey, 73, passed away February 8, in the loving care of her sons in Canton, OH, while she was visiting. She was born on April 2, 1944 to the late Elton J. (Al) and June L. (Adams) Bartos. She grew up in the Vicksburg area, graduating from Vicksburg High School in 1963. In 1968 Linda married Richard Lee Clark, with whom she had two sons. Later, she and her sons joined the family of Wilbur Duane Harvey and his three children when they were married in 1979. They enjoyed many happy years together until Wilbur’s death in 2008. Linda was a kind and loving person, willing to help her friends from the Hearthside II apartments. She always enjoyed playing bingo, cards and walking dogs for her friends. She is survived by her sons, Douglas Alan Clark and Michael Lee Clark, both of Canton, Ohio, step-children Gary (Joanie) Harvey, Danny and Dawn Harvey, all of Kalamazoo, grandchildren Douglas Jr. (Bubba) Clark, Jacob Clark and Kala Clark all of Ohio, great-grandchildren Noah and Amelia Clark of Ohio, sisters Margie (Robert) Goertler and Shirley (Gary) Meyle, nieces Carmon (Bill) Kammerer of South Bend, Ind., Shelly (Shannon) Burnett, Erin (Scott) Brown, and Lahni (Francisco) Tapia all of Kalamazoo, and several step-grandchildren and step great-grandchildren as well as cousins and friends. Donations may go to American Cancer Society or Aultman Hospice.

Dorothy Hastings, 87, Vicksburg, passed away February 8, surrounded by family. Dorothy was born on September 27, 1930 to Levi and Fanny (Johnson) Cox. Dorothy’s family includes her husband of 65 years, Tom; children Tom (Sharon) Hastings Jr., Maggie (Tim) Corbin and Ann (Tom) Hahn; grandchildren Molly and Hannah Blatt and brother Bill Cox of Miami, Fla. She was preceded in death by her parents; son Timothy, who passed away at birth; her sister, Jeannie Ladd, and her nephew, Jerry Lee Annis. Visit Dorothy’s page at Dorothy was a loving, sweet woman. She was devoted to her family who will deeply miss her. A celebration of her life is being planned for this summer.

Charles D. Hord, 92, Schoolcraft and Punta Gorda, Fla., passed away January 26. Chuck was born in Three Rivers, on November 20, 1925, the son of Clyde and Letha Hord. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Phyllis Hord; sister Arlene Hord Wells and brother-in-law Jan, son Charles D. Hord, Jr. and wife Frenchie, step-children Sue and Rod Eliason, Martha and Patrick Phelps, Bruce and Mickie Sweet, and Craig and Theresa Sweet, several grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a great great grandchild. He was predeceased by his first wife, Ethyl Hord; brother Bill Hord, son Robert Hord and grandson Charles D. Hord III. Chuck served in the United States Army during WWII in the European Theater. He had a 40-year career as a railroad engineer on the New York Central, Pennsylvania Central and finally Conrail lines. He was a member of the Retired Railroaders. Chuck was an active member of the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church and Cleveland United Methodist Church in Florida and an avid golfer and member of the Deep Creek Golf Club. A memorial service will be held in Michigan in the spring. Contributions in his memory may be made to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) program or a charity of your choosing. We remember Chuck’s famous advice to “keep your head down”, and his work ethic, devotion and love of his family and friends. Visit his page at

(Gerald) Jerry M. Kott, 82, Vicksburg, passed away February 19 at Borgess Hospital. Jerry was born on November 8, 1935 to Harlow and Grace (McNally) Kott. While growing up, Jerry was active in the Boy Scouts, and achieved the highest and most prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1954. From there, Jerry went on to Western Michigan University. With hard work, he also went on to get his certified life insurance underwriter’s license, which isn’t a license that is easy to get. Jerry was very successful in his career, and after many years he became vice president of Burnham and Flower Insurance Agency. He served as the Vicksburg Rotary Club president in 1976-77. Someone who lived life to the fullest, Jerry was truly one of a kind. He was a jokester with a great sense of humor and a fun-loving personality. Jerry had the amazing ability to get others to believe any story he told, and then in the end he almost always told them it was a joke. A funeral service was held on Monday, February 26 at Life Story Funeral Home in Vicksburg. Jerry is survived by his daughters, Diana (Hal) Blanchard and Ann (Rick) Hughey; a brother, James Kott; grandchildren Erin Courtney, Tiffany (André) Bouvrette, Allen (Dannette) Hughey and Kati (Matthew) Roberts; great grandchildren Rylie, Kamie, Lincoln, Kendall, Marshall and baby Delilah born on Feb. 21. He was preceded in death by his parents and his loving wife of 50 years, Carol. Please visit Jerry’s memory page at where you can read his life story, archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to the Vicksburg Historical Society.

Glen Phillips, 91, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully at home Feb. 14. He is survived by his wife, Connie (Kuivenhoven-Kreider) Phillips; a brother, Max (Stella) Ball; children Sheri (Jerry) VanAvery, Gale (Cindy) Phillips and Sue (Frank) Roberts; stepchildren Terry Kreider, Karen (Bill) Kreider-Sorensen and Kay (Mark Bissot) Kreider. He is also survived by nine grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and six step great grandchildren, plus many extended families. He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Clarissa (Schmitt) Phillips, a brother and four sisters. A funeral service was held on Monday, Feb. 19 at Life Story Funeral Home, Vicksburg with burial at Mount Ever-Rest. Please visit Glen’s page Donations may go to Hospice Care of SW Michigan, Loaves and Fishes, Boy Scouts of America and Juvenile Diabetes.

Linda Schuring, Vicksburg, passed away at home February 15. She was born to Daniel and Ramona (Murray) Moyle on July 20, 1942. She graduated from Mattawan High School in 1960. On Jan. 22, 1972, she married Jerry Schuring, who adopted her three children. She and Jerry were blessed with one son, J.J. In 1990, they established J.L. Milling Inc. together. She was an amazing cook who specialized in making olie cookins, which are a Dutch treat. Linda’s family includes her husband, Jerry; children Tim (Karen Furlong), Mike (Tracey), J. J. (Tracey DeVaney); grandchildren Sarah (Andy), Samantha (Adam), Timmy (Jessica), Shannon, Megan (Phil), Cassondra, Mikey, Shianne, Kody Bishop and Kaley Bishop; great grandchildren Tatum, Cohen, Peyton, Brooke, Alaina, Bentley, Emma S., Emma H., Ella, Delaney, Tensleey, Kimber, Jayce; brothers Danny (Barb) Moyle, David Moyle, Dicky (Sharon) Moyle; and her brother in law, Don Boven, as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by parents, step-father Giles Wright; son Johnny; sister Mary Kay Boven. Visit Linda’s page at Donations may go to Mattawan Area Pantry or Animal Rescue Project.

Alasdair Matthew Shaw, Vicksburg, passed away at 4:38 in the morning of February 3. At 7 pounds 11.8 ounces, 20 ½ inches, Alasdair came into this world as a stillbirth. “Though we may never know why or what wrong, we will love you forever. This very short time is precious. Maybe something could’ve been avoided? Maybe it was just meant to be. Your mother and I may never get to see you grow, drop you off at school, watch your high school baseball games, but that will never change how much either of us love you. I wish we had answers, I wish we knew why. Watch over your mother, watch over your brothers. Your daddy loves you.” Alasdair means defender of mankind, a suitable name for God’s newest angel. Alasdair is survived by his two brothers, Aiden and Asher, as well as his parents, Grace and Alex. Visit Alasdair’s page at

Carolyn Lee Wise, 69, Scotts, passed away on February 21 at the Laurels in Galesburg. Carolyn was born March 4, 1948 to George and Caroll (Keller) Wise. Carolyn is survived by her mother, Caroll; her brother Richard (Carolyn Sue) Wise; one nephew Scott (Jill) Wise; nieces Shellie (Bill) Gibson and Alisha Wise; great nieces Grace Gibson, Emma Gibson and Allison Wise and great nephew Gavin Wise. Carolyn was preceded in death by her father, George. Carolyn worked many years for Dairy Herd Improvement Association. She grew up active in 4H and was involved in the Kalamazoo County Fair. Carolyn lived for her family that will deeply miss her. Visit Carolyn’s page at

Winter Homecoming Court

The winter homecoming courts were recently selected at Schoolcraft and Vicksburg high schools.

Schoolcraft Girls Basketball Undefeated in Regular Season

By Sue Moore

The elephant in the room for Schoolcraft’s girls’ basketball team is its undefeated season: 19-0. “We don’t look past the next game but we did have to talk about it recently,” Coach Steve Kulczyk said. “We try to discuss everything and talk it out so we can have a drama-free gym. Ours is a family environment.”

The team stepped up to the challenge and defeated Constantine 67 to 31 in its last regular season game. It was senior night and Homecoming all in one big event; that can be a distraction. Fortunately, the team came through with a big effort. Lydia Goble had 16 points, Kennedy Leighton 9 points to lead the way.

“In the beginning of the year, seniors Goble, Leighton and Gabi Saxman were key to our success as they had the most varsity experience,” Kulczyk said. “But they realized early on they needed the youngsters to step up and play a bigger part to take us all the way to an undefeated season. The seniors gave us great leadership while Rosey and Schuppel and the others were coming along.”

The Eagles begin District play on their home court with a bye in the opening round and will play the winner of the Marcellus-Decatur match on Wednesday, February 28. District tournament play is always hazardous because some of the teams with modest records have nothing to lose and will play all out to get a win, Kulczyk said.

“Our team has a lot of heart. They defend the perimeter really well and play hard all 32 minutes, usually wearing our opponent down,” Kulczyk said. He has been coaching in Schoolcraft since the 1991-92 season, six of those years with the varsity girls team. He teaches physical education in the Schoolcraft elementary and middle school.

Schoolcraft Wrestling Sends Five to State Competition

By Sue Moore

Schoolcraft’s wrestling team is sending five members to state competition in March. The team won the district championship but lost a tough match in the regionals to Lakewood Odessa. “I’m pleased with the progress the team has made through this year. They are young and inexperienced, but we’ve played a tough schedule to better prepare them for tournament competition,” Coach Rob Ling said.

The five who will compete at the highest level are Caden Sukich, sophomore at 103 lbs.; Gary Cramer, freshman at 125; Brady Gillaspie, junior at 130; Devin O’Bryant, senior at 215 and River Fox, junior at 285. “They all have a good shot at placing. Fox has been to state before and is a veteran at tournament competition, as are the others because of our tournament schedule this year.”

Ling said he can look forward to next year with the freshmen on the team that have blossomed and the eighth graders who are coming up from having a good year on the mats at their level.

Schoolcraft Boys Basketball Builds Momentum

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Jakob Huyskens goes up for a rebound in their game with Constantine in February.

By Sue Moore

Consistency has been the watchword for the Schoolcraft boys’ basketball team during its 2017-18 season according to Coach Randy Small. “We need it offensively in shooting the ball better and then on defense we don’t get a stop when we really need it.”

The team is 12-5 for the year and 7-4 in the conference having lost to arch rivals Kalamazoo Christian and Hackett. They gained the much-needed consistency with a big win over Constantine in the next to last game of the regular season by a score of 68 to 41.

“We had intensity and consistency tonight,” said Coach Small. “I was really pleased with our effort. Now we head into district play feeling better.”

“We showed lots of good signs of consistency against Watervliet with a 41-17 first quarter but got outscored in the second period way too much.” Schoolcraft hosts the district playoffs beginning the last week of February.

Kobe Clark, the sophomore point guard, has a 13-point scoring average for the season and plays hard. “He’s learning to be the floor general and has a good work ethic while still working on his consistency,” Small said.

Trent Lomason has been averaging 10 points per game, Jakob Huysken eight, Bryce VanderWiere nine points and eight rebounds per game. Riley Piper has been solid each outing. Lomason hit huge threes against Constantine as he was zeroed in from beyond the arc.