As 2020 closes, the year will be remembered as one of many challenges and difficulties. But sometimes, crisis brings out the best in people and communities. Repeatedly, this is the case in South County. Acts of kindness and gestures designed to encourage and lift others continue, often surfacing on social media, highlighting area individuals and groups.
In December, a couple who asked to remain anonymous approached the Village of Vicksburg’s leadership, desiring to help individuals and businesses in the community. South County Community Services assisted in identifying those in need. Using the couple’s generous financial gift, Rise N Dine and Main Street Pub provided meals for 200 people, both seniors and younger people, who might have gone without during the holiday season. This couple’s kindness supported the two restaurants and brightened the season for so many.
Local police officers who look forward each year to “Shop With a Cop” adjusted their protocols and continued their annual tradition of Christmas shopping with selected children, building important bridges to community families and children.
December nights were illuminated in both communities as residents decorated homes, businesses and streets for the season. Schoolcraft continued its luminaries along Grand, and homes around the village seemed in cheerful competition, providing enjoyment for all ages and a sense of connectedness.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram buzzed with night-time images of the two villages.
Area residents continue to support local agencies and check in with neighbors. Churches are learning to provide worship and connections in creative ways. Local governmental bodies continue to look for ways to support community businesses through grants and innovative funding.
After years of vacancy, beautiful holiday displays glowed in several storefronts in Vicksburg, and Santa and Mrs. Claus waved to children from the old Dancer’s building on Main Street.
And good news for the new year: Health providers and nursing home residents are receiving vaccines, delivering a dose of optimism about recovery from the pandemic.
The spirit of hope, kindness and compassion is alive and well in South County.
Nona Mattheis lived every moment of her 109 years. “She never let much grass grow under her feet,” said her youngest daughter, Margaret Miller of Schoolcraft.
The activity may have been a habit built from a young age, since she started working as a teenager to help support her father. She worked at Elam’s Stationery for a time, and then worked raising their family and tending to the animals on their 40-acre farm just south of Vicksburg. She sold the eggs from their chickens to make extra money while her husband, Vern, worked at the Lee Paper Company.
When Vern passed in 1965, she went to work at Arco in Schoolcraft. “She didn’t give up easily,” said Margaret.
She loved physical activity, starting with her teen years when she played basketball for Vicksburg and continuing until she was 100, when she finally stopped teaching line dancing. “She loved to dance,” said Margaret. “Every Saturday, she would drive the girls to the Helen Cover Center in Kalamazoo to dance. She enjoyed the heck out of it.”
Nona traveled frequently, taking trips that often included family. She took a train to Texas, and she took a camper to Alaska. She camped up and down the West Coast and watched whales off the East Coast. “She really loved to travel,” said her eldest daughter, Phyllis Barrett of Schoolcraft.
Her travels usually centered around her family, like her visits to her son while he served in the military or the annual family reunion at Round Lake.
One of her first trips, appropriately enough for someone so focused on her family, was to elope with Vern Mattheis to LaGrange in 1932, not long after they were set up on a blind date. They raised four children in Vicksburg and remained together until Vern passed away.
Her active life also included many acts of service, first to her family and then to her community. Much of that service involved food. “She was an excellent cook,” said Margaret. “She could cook just about anything. I loved her potatoes and dumpling soup that she would make on Saturdays.”
She brought enough food to the annual family reunion to feed everyone there, and she would feed the men who came to thresh wheat on their farm every year. She spent 21 years delivering food for Meals on Wheels, making a record number of deliveries. “She enjoyed being around people and doing things to help them,” said Margaret.
Her community service also included her involvement at Vicksburg United Methodist Church, the Vicksburg Community Center, the Eagles Lodge and the Rebekah Lodge, where she served as the Noble Grand.
She kept friends and family close her entire life. “I don’t think I ever saw her get mad or lose her patience,” said Phyllis.
Thanks to her active lifestyle, her independent nature, and her large support network, she was able to stay in her Vicksburg apartment until she was 104 years old. “Everyone kept an eye on her,” said Margaret, “but she was never under their thumb.”
She will be missed, but “We were blessed to have her for so long,” said Margaret.
An uptick in south county burglaries and larcenies? Posts on a social media site in recent weeks appeared to indicate one.
Police chiefs Scott Boling in Schoolcraft and Scott Sanderson in Vicksburg aren’t seeing it in their villages. But Capt. Jeff Christiansen of the Kalamazoo County sheriff’s Operations Division acknowledged an increase in stolen vehicles and thefts from vehicles in rural areas, calling them crimes of opportunity.
And he added many can be prevented by ending the opportunities.
In all of Kalamazoo County, “We’ve had a lot of larcenies in cars left running or with the keys in them,” said Christiansen. “You’re certainly prone to having your car stolen if you leave the keys in it. At this time of year, people run into the store, leaving the car unlocked and running.
“The biggest thing is to protect yourself. Put a lock on your trailer. Don’t leave keys in your car. Don’t leave valuables in the vehicle. If you leave computers, phones, tablets, it’s an invitation for someone.”
And more might be prevented with the use of video surveillance camera, which Christiansen noted have become affordable.
Christiansen said home theft “is down significantly. It may be because a lot of people are working from home. But in the middle of the night, larcenies from vehicles are up significantly.”
He acknowledged that rural areas ordinarily are “more susceptible to home break-ins. Homes are unattended during the day.” But recently, he said, “We’re having very few of those.”
“Crimes of opportunity are the easiest to commit,” Sanderson said. “They see a laptop in an unlocked car, take the laptop and walk off. That’s what a lot of these are. “Someone walks into an open garage, sees a set of golf clubs and leaves with it.”
“For prevention, I think there are a couple of things to do,” Boling said. “First of all, have contact with neighbors and establish relations with the neighborhood and the people around you. You look out for them they look out for you…. If you’re getting packages delivered, have a neighbor grab them. Make sure you lock your car up at night. Leave a light on during nighttime hours. Those can stop a lot of theft.”
In Vicksburg, Sanderson said, “We do a lot of neighborhood canvassing. Officers walk around, knock on doors, talk to folks, ask if there are any issues. Hey, if you see something, give us a call! If there’s an issue, call. Sometimes people don’t know if they should call or not. We say call.”
Christiansen noted that video surveillance cameras “are an emerging tool. They’re no longer cost-prohibitive. A lot of those systems are based on some kind of wi-fi service,” he said, capable not only of notifying the owner if there’s a break-in, but reaching out to a monitoring service which can notify a law enforcement agency.
Some of the systems, he added, can notify their customers near the site of an incident, asking them to check their own surveillance systems to see if they recorded anything that might be useful to police. “That’s a new feature that came up recently,” Christiansen said.
Schoolcraft Coach Erin Onken proudly shared recent Eagles varsity volleyball stats, marveling at the focus her team displayed despite the challenges from COVID-19. The team maintained a 35-3 record on the season and a No. 2 in Division 3 ranking all-season. The Eagles are SAC Champions, District and Regional Champs and won the Niles Quad. The team will compete in the state quarter finals in January. It earned Academic Team All-State honors for the 9th straight year. In addition, six seniors were awarded Academic Individual All-State honors. Five players received SAC 1st Team All-Conference and one player received Honorable Mention All-Conference.
Five players earned All-Region honors and received recognition at the state level: Kayla Onken and Maggie Morris were recognized as 1st Team All State; Anna Schuppel earned 2nd team; Kelby Goldschmeding earned 3rd team; and Allie Goldschmeding earned honorable mention.
The girls worked hard all season long, maintaining their positivity and high expectations for training and competitions. Coach Onken said the uncertainty of the season has been difficult, but added, “Their love and support for one another is inspiring and is what makes this group truly unique.” Practice resumes Monday, Jan. 4, with quarter finals scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12. “It will be nice to get some closure on our season!” Onken said.
Concluding rounds of Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournaments in football, girls’ volleyball and girls’ swimming and diving will be completed during January, the association said in the following press release issued Dec. 26:
The MHSAA continues to follow all emergency orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
Football teams may begin two days of outdoor, non-contact conditioning and drills, wearing helmets and shoulder pads with physical distancing, on Monday, Dec. 28, in advance of the first round of testing Dec. 30 as part of an MDHHS rapid testing pilot program. Schools will test players, coaches and other team personnel, with full-contact practice then allowed after a first round of negative results. The testing program will utilize BinaxNOW antigen tests that produce results within 15 minutes.
For football, 11-player regional finals and 8-player semifinals will be played Saturday, Jan. 9. the 8-player finals and 11-player semifinals will be played Saturday, Jan. 16; and 11-player finals will be played during the weekend of Jan. 22-23.
The MDHHS’s current epidemic order – which paused activity beginning Nov. 18 – is set to expire Jan. 15, and if restrictions on non-contact sports are lifted, then volleyball and swimming and diving could practice and compete at that time outside of the required rapid testing program. If the [state’s] epidemic order continues, volleyball and swimming and diving could begin practice, but those teams and individuals will have to follow all requirements of the MDHHS rapid testing pilot program to be eligible to participate. Specific plans and dates for volleyball and girls’ swimming and diving practice resumption and MHSAA tournaments will be finalized and shared with competing schools in early January.
Volleyball competition will restart with Quarterfinals, and Lower Peninsula girls’ swimming and diving has advanced to its Finals. The championship events in both sports would be completed no later than Jan. 30.
The Schoolcraft Board of Education at a December meeting proposed a timetable for hiring a new superintendent and discussed results of surveys of staff and residents about the qualities they want in the new hire.
Supt. Rusty Stitt during the summer told board members he’ll resign at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
Vice President Jason Walther described a timeline of events to replace Stitt during a Zoom meeting. The entire plan is currently on the SCS website for school district residents to review.
The board is hoping to involve the community as much as possible in the search. It approved posting the job listing and will soon start contacting possible candidates. The plan calls for the search to be closed by Jan. 15 and a review of candidates to start Jan. 22. The hope is to conduct final board interviews by March 12, make an offer by March 19 with final board approval by April 9, 2021.
The plan includes district team and community interviews around February 19, although board members didn’t describe what those interviews would entail.
The board has already done some homework with the survey of district staff members, parents and students about what they’d like to see from the next superintendent. Out of 385 responses, the majority, 71 percent, were from parents.
The survey asked for the most important leadership qualities: “Strong communicator and listener” was the top choice, closely followed by “trustworthy,” “not afraid to address problems,” “team and culture builder” and “collaborative.”
“Reading through a lot of the comments, I think we’ve been able to get to a point here where I’m really excited that we have a tremendous amount of consistency in what was said in the various formats,” Walther said.
Trustee Jill Hunt approved of the proposal, especially including the involvement of staff and community members’ input in the decision-making process.
“I just want to say thank you for pulling this all together. I think it was very thoughtfully done and you’ve tried to include as many stakeholders as we could get to partake in this,” Hunt said. “I appreciate your hard work.”
Secretary Ryan Ledlow also acknowledged that this plan was unique compared to the usual way districts hire a new superintendent. He also expressed great enthusiasm with the idea.
“This is a little bit different way to go about finding a leader, but I like it, a lot,” Ledlow said.
Walther said the enthusiasm of the community and the belief in the work they are doing has showed through this process. He didn’t hear from anyone who felt the district had to change anything drastic in their search for the next superintendent. The board should find someone to work with the groundwork that’s already in place.
“We’ve got the gears in place. We’ve got to get someone who will oil them a little bit,” Walther said. “Just to make it get that much better.”
Patricia Rene Aldrich, 92, Schoolcraft, passed away peacefully Dec. 4, 2020 at White Oaks Assisted Living Center. Patricia was born Sept. 13, 1928 to Emerson and Bernice Houts. She was married to Neal C. Aldrich Sept. 24, 1948. Pat grew up and lived in Schoolcraft her whole life. She loved her little town and being active in her community. She retired from Kalamazoo County State Bank after 30 years, and worked at Norma’s Antiques for 25 years. For many years, she enjoyed volunteering at the Schoolcraft Community Library and was also a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. Pat loved music and ballroom dancing with her husband. Her family includes her children, Timothy Aldrich and Larry (Patsy) Aldrich; grandchildren Amy (Jeff) Triplett, Gabriel (Kari) Aldrich, Benjamin (Lisa) Aldrich and Jeremy (Kelly) Aldrich; great grandchildren Zackary Triplett, Henry Aldrich, Mason Aldrich, and Maylee Aldrich; sister Norma Whybrew; sister-in-law Jeanette Houts and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Emerson and Bernice Houts; her husband of 55 years, Neal Aldrich; her daughter-in-law, Elisabeth Aldrich; and her brother, Errol Houts, Sr. Donations may go to Schoolcraft Community Library or to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Visit Patricia’s page at mccowensecord.com.
Julia (Julie) Susan Beran, 77, Schoolcraft, passed away Dec. 14, 2020. She was born Sept. 1, 1943 in Kalamazoo to Louis C. and Camilla A. (Hatley) Berky. Julie met John Beran, the love of her life, before her senior year in high school. They were voted “Couple Most Likely to Stay Together” and they did for over 60 years. She was a loving wife, mother and grandma and enjoyed preparing holiday meals at her house and surprising everyone with a handmade felt ornament each Christmas. She also enjoyed sewing, embroidery, word searches, gardening, bird feeding and her grandchildren’s school functions. Julie was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers. She is survived by her husband, John; daughters Diana Beran, Kathy (Kevin) Richards, and Cindy Beran; and grandchildren Emily (Cody) Marshall, Alysia Stozicki, Ethan Richards and Nicholas Richards. Visit Julie’s page at avinkcremation.com.
Steven L. DeHaan, 70, Schoolcraft, passed away at home on Dec. 27, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer. Steve was born in Kalamazoo, a son of Steven and Laura (Kannegeiter) DeHaan. He graduated from Parchment High School, served in the US Army and was a deputy with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department for 37 years. On July 1, 1988, he married Debbie (Adams) DeHaan, who survives. Also surviving are his children, Zach (Robin) DeHaan, Stephanie (Jeff) Blaskiewicz, Megan (Josh) Knight and Alan Cherette; grandchildren Lauren, Morgan, Gracie, Tyler, Adelih, Sophia; great-granddaughter Alaïa; brother and sisters Kathy Hoeksema, Pat (Ed) Doorlag, Larry (Ruth) DeHaan and sister-in-law Cheryl DeHaan; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Dave and Dawn Llewellyn and sister-in-law DeAnn Adams; as well as several nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family members and friends. Steve was preceded in death by his parents, Steven and Laura DeHaan, brother Jack DeHaan, brother-in-law Edwin Hoeksema and mother-in-law Helen (Wylie) Adams. Visit his page at avinkcremation.com.
Cheryl Ann Derrick, 72, passed away Nov. 14, 2020. She was born in Kalamazoo July 30, 1948, the daughter of Loyd and Loyola Wilson, and was a lifelong resident of the Kalamazoo area. She married the love of her life, Donald Derrick, Jan. 20, 1968. They raised two wonderful sons that she was immensely proud of, David (Kim) and Matthew (Shelly) Derrick. She leaves behind grandchildren Dillon Smith, Jenna Derrick, Bailey Ann Derrick, Nathan and Morgan Jackson,and Kelsey and Max Meyers; and four great grandchildren. Cheryl was an advanced antique collector and dealer; she always enjoyed the thrill of the hunt for the next prize. If you ever met Cheryl, she would never forget your face or your name and you were friends for life. Due to COVID concerns, a memorial service to celebrate Cheryl’s life will be held on a later date. The family asks that when you are having a cocktail on the back porch, patio, deck, fire pit, dock or the pontoon boat to raise your glass in remembrance of Cheryl. Visit her page at avinkcremation.com.
Paul “Champ” Eisenhardt, 80, formerly of Scotts, died Nov. 21, 2020. Champ was born in Kalamazoo and raised in Comstock, where he graduated in 1958, receiving awards in track, football, basketball, and baseball. In adulthood, Champ played fast pitch softball, bowled, and fished with his buddy, Jimmy Vanloo. Champ retired from General Motors after 30-plus years. Champ loved spending time with his family in Bradenton, Fla. Champ will be dearly missed by Sharon, his wife of 38 years; children Catherine (Ed) Nyberg, James Dekker Jr. and Julie Dekker, all of Michigan, Scott Eisenhardt of Florida; grandchildren Amber (Ben) Hammon, Shalyn (Jordan) Bourdo, Rachel Nyberg, Kyle Nyberg, Emilee (Devon) Jones, Chelsea (Jesse) James, Mareea Dekker, and James Dekker III; great grandchildren Nolan, Madysen (Payton), Holland, Everly, Julianah, Carson, Brecken, Wyatt, Dakota Rose, Matthew and Baby Jones, due in 2021; sister-in-law Pat DeBoer and brother-in-law David Leedy, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Virginia and Paul; siblings David, Bob and Ruthann; nephews David and Jeff; niece Rhonda; daughter-in-law Tracy Dekker and brother-in-law John DeBoer. Visit Paul’s page at mccowensecord.com.
James Edward Fess, Jr., Scotts, passed away Dec. 19, 2020. Jim was born on Nov. 21, 1955 in Vicksburg, the son of James Sr. and Kathryn Jean (Jennings) Fess. Jim graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1974 and participated in football, shot put, and choir. After high school he joined the U.S. Navy. He married Sharon Darling in 1980 at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. Together, they raised two sons, Robert and Matthew. Jim retired in 2012 after working over 30 years at Upjohn/Pfizer. Jim had the natural ability for building things “correctly” and was always there for his sons to help them with projects. He enjoyed ice fishing, softball and bowling. He loved the Detroit Lions, car shows, going to the races with his friend, Virgil Hopwood, and traveling with Sharon. Jim was preceded in death by his mother, a sister, a brother and his special dog, Rufus. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Sharon, and their sons, Robert Fess of Scotts and Matthew (Brittney) Fess of Vicksburg; granddaughter Clara Marie Fess; and his cat, Fluffs. Also surviving are his father James Sr. (Diana) Fess of Vicksburg; sisters Pat, Nancy, and Melanie; and several nieces and nephews. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com. Donations may go to the American Cancer Society.
H. Arlene Forsythe, 83, Vicksburg, was called home to join her Lord and Savior Dec. 19, 2020 at The Laurels of Coldwater. She was born May 6, 1937 in Bancroft, Michigan, the daughter of William E. and Estella May (Morgan) Self. Her early life was spent in Corunna, where she was a 1955 graduate of Corunna High School. On Aug. 17, 1957 she married Richard Forsythe. She worked at Redmond Motors in Owosso, managed the Hallmark House in Midland, was the librarian at John Wesley College in Owosso, and was a pastor’s wife. Arlene resided in Vicksburg for the past 26 years, retiring from the Michigan District office of the Church of the Nazarene in Vicksburg following many years as office manager. She enjoyed cooking, sewing and playing the organ. Arlene found the most joy when she was surrounded by her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Richard; daughters Sheryllynn (Roger) McBride of Brighton and Teresa (Rod) McBride of Rockford; son Richard Forsythe of St. Augustine, Florida; grandchildren Mark, Jeff, Amanda, Brooke, Joshua, Clorissa and Elizabeth; six great grandchildren and expecting her seventh; sister Lila Wright of Owosso and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, three sisters and one brother. Donations may go to Sturgis Church of the Nazarene. Visit her page at hackmanfamilyfuneralhomes.com.
Etta Josephine Gould, 100, Vicksburg, passed away surrounded by her loving family Dec. 21, 2020. She was born in Kalamazoo on July 21, 1920, the daughter of Charles Gleason and Gertrude May Truax. She married the love of her life, Bramwell Kenneth Gould, on November 15, 1940. Together they raised six children in the Vicksburg area. She devoted her entire life to the care of others and spent 20 years working as a home health aide before embarking on her nursing career at Bronson Methodist Hospital as an LPN, retiring in 1995 after 35 years of service. During her retirement, she spent time traveling with her son, James, and her daughter, Wanda, until James passed away in 2010. She was preceded in passing by her husband; children James, John and Bonnie; siblings Perry, Harold and Dora; and her parents. Left to cherish her loving memory are her children, Wanda, Marvin and Betty (Lee) Hambright; four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, two great great-grandchildren and several nieces, nephews and cousins. Donations may go to Elara Caring Hospice, Senior Services or the American Cancer Society. The family would like to thank both Elara and Senior Services for the care and support they provided. Visit Etta’s page at mccowensecord.com.
Joyce D. Hoeksema, 83, Portage, passed away Dec. 6, 2020. Joyce was born May 19, 1937 to Raymond and Lettie (Canavan) Snook. She graduated in 1955 from Vicksburg High School. She married Jim Hoeksema on June 29, 1956, and they became partners in the family business, Jim Hoeksema Greenhouses. As hard as the family worked, they always made time to travel as a family. In retirement, Joyce and Jim enjoyed traveling, especially to golf destinations. She also followed baseball and was engaged in politics. She is survived by three daughters, Kathy Hoeksema-Aivars of Schoolcraft, Cindy (Andy) Medema of Mattawan and Lori Hoeksema of Schoolcraft; grandchildren Andrea Medema, Nathan (Jamie) Medema, and Bailey (Jeffrey) Witt; great grandchildren Andrew and Lily Medema, Peyton and Gage Witt. She is also survived by sisters Rayletta Boone and Jeanne Watson; brother John Snook; brothers-in-law Don (Nancy) Hoeksema, Dale (Marilyn) Hoeksema, and Harold Vlietstra; sisters-in-law Sue Snook, Nancy Snook, Kathy Hoeksema, and Carol Hoeksema. Joyce was preceded in death by her husband; parents; brothers Emanuel, James and Eugene Snook; sister Marveta Calhoun; sister-in-law Doris Vlietstra; brothers-in-law Gerald Hoeksema, Carl Hoeksema, Ed Hoeksema, Orville Boone and Paul Calhoun. Services have been held. Visit her page at avinkcremation.com. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.
Barbara Jean (Dorey) Kissinger, Kalamazoo, passed away Dec. 11, 2020 at home. The daughter of Marvin and Betty (Weinberg) Dorey, she was born April 21, 1958 and grew up in Vicksburg, graduating in 1977. When Barbara was in high school, her 7-year-old nephew Peter Leja passed away from cancer, influencing her decision to go into the medical field. She became a certified nurse’s aide and devoted 42 years of working in nursing homes, adult foster homes, and for the last 15 years in the homes of patients with brain injuries. On Sept. 18, 1982, Barbara was married to Timothy L. Kissinger, who preceded her in death. She was also preceded in passing by her parents. Barbara was a past member of Mid-Lakes Chorus of Sweet Adelines International. and a member of St. Monica Catholic Church. Barb loved to travel. She is survived by her siblings Walter (Patricia) Dorey, Darlene Leja, LouAnn Laurence, Maxine Haywood; sister-in-law Christina Dorey; in-laws Sharon (Greg) Kilburn and Susan VandenBerg; and many nieces and nephews. She was also preceded in death by a brother, Robert Dorey; brothers-in-law Henry Leja, James Laurence and David Haywood; nephew Peter Leja and great niece Alexis Peterson. Donations may go to West Michigan Cancer Center, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan or St. Monica Catholic Church.
Clare Gene Seaburg, 93, Schoolcraft, passed away on Dec. 15, 2020. Clare was born on March 16, 1927 in Cassopolis, the son of Frank and Aletha (Sutherland) Seaburg. He graduated from Hartford High School and served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He married Yvonne “Tee” Avery on Sept. 15, 1950, together raising three children, Cherie, Cindee and Ty. Clare owned and operated Hydraulic Concrete Corp and enjoyed fishing, bowling, playing cards and helping others. Clare was a member of the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church, Shriners, the Kalamazoo County Masonic Lodge and the West Street Poker Club. Clare and Tee spent 24 summers at Gravel Lake and traveled to Arizona for the winters. Clare was preceded in death by his wife; siblings Harry Seaburg and Ruth Klein. He is survived by his children Cherie (John) Thorp and Cindee (Garry) Moore of Gobles and Ty (Missy) Seaburg of Schoolcraft; 11 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren with one more on the way. He is also survived by his sister, Linda Miling of Comstock Park, and numerous nieces and nephews. Visit his page at avinkcremation.com. Donations may go to Schoolcraft United Methodist Church and/or Elara Caring Hospice.
Jack Charles Smith, 69, died Oct. 26, 2020 after an eight-month battle with cancer. He was born Jan. 18, 1951 to Jack and Betty Smith of Portage. On Oct. 28, 1972 he married Gretchen Klauss. Jack was employed Upjohn/Pfizer for 32 years as a journeyman pipefitter. After retirement, he worked at Vicksburg Hardware as the Stihl mechanic. Jack was an avid sportsman looking forward to hunting season each fall. He took much pleasure in retelling his hunting escapades. He also enjoyed fishing and time spent with his hunting and fishing buddies. He was admired by many and passed on his knowledge to all who showed interest. His biggest delight was his family. Jack and Gretchen were married 48 years and were devoted to each other. He was proud of daughters Regan (Pete) and Lauren (Jesse) and delighted in his grandchildren, Claire, Willem, Charlie and Alora, and step grandchildren Tucker and Annabelle. His greatest heartache was that he would not be here for them as they grow up. He is also survived by his sister, Diane. Visit Jack’s page at langelands.com.
Ruth Anna Smith, 78, Vicksburg, went home to be with her Lord unexpectedly yet peacefully Nov. 13, 2020. She was born to Harville and Leona (Kuenke) Campbell Oct. 29, 1942, in St. Louis, Mo. She was united in marriage to Carl Joseph Smith June 18, 1960, and soon began a family of seven children. Ruth and Carl were married for 54 years. She was a grandmother to 21 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and an aunt to several nieces and nephews. Ruth’s biggest joy was spending time with her family. She is survived by her children, Angela (David) Wilson of Scotts, Deborah Smith of Galesburg, Carl “Sonny” (Jamie) Smith II of Jackson, Karla (Bill) Vroman of Vicksburg, Darla (Jack) Smith-McNett of Vicksburg, Merton Smith of Vicksburg and Wendy (Terry) Smith-Walker of Galesburg; siblings Tom (Diane) Campbell, Marge Lamb, Francis Pennington and Martha “Marty” Thompson, 20 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, beloved husband, a brother, four sisters and a granddaughter. Visit her page at whitleymemorialfuneralhome.com.
Major reconstruction of US-131 through Schoolcraft is planned during 2022, if state finances permit. Village staff described the project to council members at a December meeting.
The project will begin at M219/Marcellus Road and run through town and up to the U Avenue/Shaver Road intersection north of the village limits. The project is intended to improve traffic flow and safety. Key elements include left turn signals at Lyon Street and a redesign of the way traffic enters 131 from Shaver Road.
The signal at 131 and U Avenue has already been updated as part of the project.
Other planned safety improvements include an extension of sidewalks and a reconstruction of the railroad intersection near South Street; a narrowing of some driveways leading on to the highway; and elimination of the southbound merge lane near U Avenue.
Council members asked Village Manager Cheri Lutz about providing windbreaks to prevent snow drifting across the highway. Lutz indicated that she would discuss the matter at her next meeting with Michigan Department of Transportation officials.
Since the center of 131 will be torn up, council member Kirk Bergland suggested it would be good timing to install a sewer main, if that project is approved.
Another report to the council came from Mike Presta from the engineering firm of Prein & Newhoff. He presented information about funds from the State of Michigan under a new Drinking Water Asset Management Grant program.
The grant will provide money for the Village to assess its water supply lines to determine where lead pipes exist, and to put together a plan for replacing them. The maximum grant for a community the size of Schoolcraft is $1 million, and it does not require a local match. The council authorized the staff to apply for the grant.
In other action, the council approved a “bonus” to staff amounting to 1.5% of each staff member’s salary. It also set the village garage sale dates for May 21 and 22, 2021.
The council also set aside approximately $2,000 to support Eagles Nest, an organization that provides food for families in need. In 2020, the organization provided food for 70 children in the Schoolcraft area, according to a report from Jill Strake. Village support comes in the form of quarterly payments that cover utilities.
Staff reported on the matching gift card program. The council purchased gift cards to area businesses and sold them to the public for half price. The purpose was to drive sales at local businesses at the end of a difficult year.
The Village sold 47 of the 66 available gift cards on the first day, selling out their inventory of cards from seven local businesses. Staff was grateful to the support that residents provided to local merchants.
Lutz reported that there is an opening on the Planning Commission. This is a vital position to fill, as the Village is in the final phase of a rezoning process. She asked any resident interested to contact her.
Winter has arrived in South County. We have located our car’s ice scrapers and brushes, and our snow shovels stand ready. The ushering in of our Michigan seasons is one of the best parts of living here. While many of us feel winter can drag on a bit too long, the beauty of the flocked snow on the pines or the cardinals feeding in the snow regularly lifts our spirits during winter’s darkness.
People on the move
Cindy Kole, longtime Vicksburg resident, was promoted to executive vice president of First National Bank of Michigan, following her accomplishments as senior vice president and chief operating officer. Cindy has more than 30 years of experience in banking, including wealth management, private banking, human resources, and retail banking.
The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ (CDMRP) Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) named a former Vicksburg resident, Commander Fred R. Cohrs USNR (Ret.), to participate in evaluation of research applications to the program. Commander Cohrs, a 1966 VHS graduate, was nominated by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Chapter of UsTOO, an international prostate cancer advocacy group. When commenting on serving as a consumer reviewer, Fred said, “It was a privilege to represent prostate cancer patients on this panel and make recommendations for directing taxpayers’ money for important research.”
YouTube video features local singer
A lovely music video featuring Makayla Cardosa walking through Vicksburg’s downtown in a light evening snowfall has been posted on YouTube by Connections Community Church in Schoolcraft. Makayla, a Vicksburg High School graduate, sings the Christmas song “Hush” on the Main Street sidewalks and the gazebo in the Historic Village. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YgcOL3hUYg
Concrete block mystery solved!
In Leeanne Seaver’s November article, she shared architectural historian Cheri Szcodronski’s discovery of an unusual block used in foundations and structures around the village. Ever-helpful local historian, Maggie Snyder, cracked the case, finding a reference to the source in Dr. Arle Schneider’s 2004 book, “A Tale of One Village.”:
“The Clapp Brothers business began in 1884 with a small planing mill, on the East side of Portage creek across from the end of South Street. The brothers used the Portage Creek to bring lumber up from Barton Lake. The stream was narrowed with timbers to power the mill. It ran at first with an undershot wheel and was soon replaced with a steam engine….soon after a sawmill was added. The Clapps also operated a hardware store stocked with a complete line of building materials, pumps, paint, glass harnesses, dishes, silverware and windmills.”
The Carhartt jacket and chainsaw wish fulfilled!
We never know what might happen when making wishes public. Dr. David Schriemer’s patients and friends will be happy to know he received both a Carhartt jacket and a chainsaw for Christmas. He is a happy fellow!
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