Category Archives: Schoolcraft

Schoolcraft Spring Sports Teams

Spring sports team photos for Schoolcraft High School:

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

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

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

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

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

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

Toy Train Display at the Historic Village

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

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

Brownfield Presentation in L.A.

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

Prairie View Park Update

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

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

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

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

Beekeepers Meet on Feb. 5

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

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

Event Calendar


1/13 – Sun. Vicksburg Rotary Club Showcase rehearsal begins at the high school choir room, 2 p.m. Contact Danna Downing, 269-779-5453.

1/20 – Mon. Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce Mixer, Distant Whistle, public welcome, 5 p.m.
2/8 – Fri. Strive Beef Raffle at the VHS basketball game.

2/9 – Sun. Vicksburg Lions Club 9th Annual Bowling “Fun-Raiser”, 11 a.m. 3 p.m. at the Continental Lanes.


1/8 – Open house for art display by Gurjot Nanhra from 6-7 p.m. at the Schoolcraft library. Her work will be shown through February 7.

Kalamazoo County Area

2/4 – Kalamazoo County Citizen Science Panel will meet on February 4. The public is invited to join with the Kalamazoo Conservation District and partners to learn about opportunities to contribute to the knowledge about the environment. Meet representatives from local organizations who will share information about their projects and how you can get involved. Oshtemo Community Center, 6407 Parkview Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. 7-8:30 p.m. FREE. For more information: (269) 775-3368.

Something for Everyone at Christmas Walk in Schoolcraft

By Deb Christianson

In Historic Schoolcraft, the first weekend of December is set aside for the downtown Christmas Walk. It was the brainchild of Norma Taggert of Norma’s Antiques & Collectibles on Grand Street, as a way for people to discover the charm of a small-town Christmas – and sell antiques.

This tradition continues after 31 years.

Fourteen businesses along Schoolcraft’s downtown corridor or close by will be open on Friday, December 6 from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 from 9-ish to 3-ish for holiday fun. Antique and collectible shoppers can begin their journey north of town at Nana D’s Attic, a consignment shop with 40-plus vendors and something for everyone. The Grand Antique Gallery, LLC, resides in the location where Norma’s Antiques & Collectibles was and features a nice selection of antiques, glassware & artwork. Myles Cooley will provide music and there will be live caricatures by Bryce Cooley. Having a caricature done by Bryce is a new Schoolcraft tradition. The Schoolcraft Antique Mall will have hors d’oeuvres and lots of freshly selected antiques.

Both of Schoolcraft’s historic churches participate joyously in this Walk. The United Methodist Church, dedicated in 1852, will have a sloppy joe and pie supper from 5-7 p.m. on Friday and a homemade soup lunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday. There will be a bake sale, craft sale, silent auction, white elephant sale, and more. Church secretary Kimm Carlin says, “We always have a packed house.”

Friday night, the festivities for the historic First Presbyterian Church, dedicated in 1892, will be at the DeVries Law offices in downtown Schoolcraft with craft items, baked goods and a raffle. Saturday, Westminster Hall will be open while serving pasties and chicken ‘n’ biscuits from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thecraft sale, bake sale and raffle continue there with Attic Treasures.

Founded in 1908, Kalamazoo County State Bank boasts that it is the oldest independently owned and operated community bank in Kalamazoo County. It will be on hand with donuts and cider on Friday night and invite guests to stop by and guess the amount of money in the “Christmas Present Jar.”

On Hayward Street next to the Schoolcraft Post Office, the Ladies Library Building, which was dedicated in 1896, will be open both days with a craft and cookie sale. Elizabeth Hamilton at the Ladies Library Building will sign her eagerly anticipated new book titled, “Have Camera Will Travel in the Historic Village of Schoolcraft, Michigan.” $25.

Santa Claus will be visiting several places in Schoolcraft during the Walk, so there are no excuses to miss the jolly fellow. He will be stopping at Lake Michigan Credit Union on Friday night. Warm up with coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, and a few ho-ho-hos. The credit union will have Lazy Man BBQ in its parking lot both Friday and Saturday. On Friday, at the American Legion on Clay Street, Santa will appear with the Mrs. The American Legion is serving cocktails, beer, wine and sloppy joes. There will also be cookie decorating. For professional photos with Santa, look no further than Reflections Modern Photography at the Beauty Bar on Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Cost: $15 per child or group.

For the modern and local, Salon Harlow invites you to shop-sip-snack on Friday with Pop Up-Shop Boutique Oz. Close by on Grand Street, a new shop, Craft & Grand, will be open both Friday and Saturday with locally made goods, cookies, and cocoa. Biggby’s will be serving its specialty coffee on Friday night. On Saturday, there will be $1.99 hot/iced specialty beverages up to 20 ounces with upgrades available. Popular local Nonla Taqueria will be serving Mexican cuisine at its finest on both Friday and Saturday.

For the little ones, in addition to visiting with Santa, there’s a Princesses and Pirates sing-along with Disney classics. The little ones are invited to appear in their sparkliest tiara or blackest pirate hat and sing like no one is listening. Signing her new book, “Meant for Her,” will be Joy Avery Melville on Saturday at the Library. $12.65. Historical walking caroling tours through town are planned.

Visit the Village of Schoolcraft for a map of Walk festivities and a free postcard of the Underground Railroad by Wm Christiansen Photography. The map is printed on Starwhite Vicksburg Tiara from the former Simpson Paper Company. More information and updates will be updated at or call 679-5795 for further information.

Boutique Gift Shop Opens on Grand Street in Schoolcraft

Craft + Grand Gift Boutique is newly opened at 222 N. Grand Street in downtown Schoolcraft. Stacey Sherman, owner of The Beauty Bar and a Schoolcraft native, recently expanded into the space next to the salon and has opened a new retail option for area residents. Craft + Grand features items made in the U.S., with the majority being made right here in Michigan.

There’s a wide variety of offerings, including home décor, bath and body products, jewelry, hats, scarves, clothing, pet goods and handmade greeting cards. You can find photos of many of these items featured on the Craft + Grand Facebook page and on Instagram @craftandgrand.

While giving the space a makeover, a section of shared wall between the Beauty Bar salon and store was removed, making it possible for salon guests to shop while hair color is processing, or before and after their hair appointment. There is also a door on Grand Street.

The main goal for Craft + Grand was to create somewhere that people could shop locally, and truly feel like they’re supporting local business. A lot of time was spent searching for local vendors and finding items to be for sale in the store, Sherman said.

“There are a lot of other great boutiques in the area, and it was time for Schoolcraft to have its own modern retail option,” he said. “With the Beauty Bar having opened three years ago, many conversations have been had within its walls about people not wanting to drive to Kalamazoo for a unique wedding shower, baby shower or whatever gift.”

Statements like that made wheels start turning in Sherman’s head. A couple of years were spent growing an idea. Once the space became available, a decision was made, and the Craft + Grand was launched.

Fall and winter hours are Wednesday-Friday 3-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday 12-4 p.m. Since The Beauty Bar and Craft + Grand have a pass-through, patrons might want to check Facebook or Instagram to see if there are expanded hours throughout the week during which one can enter through the salon.

Craft + Grand will also be participating in the annual Christmas Walk, December 6 and 7, and will be helping The Beauty Bar and Reflections Modern Photography carry on the new tradition of sales, snacks, and Santa photos, Sherman said.

Elizabeth Hamilton Debuts New Book at Christmas Walk

Elizabeth Hamilton
Elizabeth Hamilton shows off the proof pages of her book that was printed at Portage Printing Company.

By Deb Christianson

A book more than 33 years in the making is hot off the press and will now be available during the upcoming Schoolcraft Christmas Walk. Elizabeth Hamilton has been photographing Schoolcraft since she took her first darkroom film photography class at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in 1988. She has been a Schoolcraft resident since she moved here with her husband and son in 1976.

Her latest book, “Have Camera Will Travel in the Historic Village of Schoolcraft, Michigan,” features a cavalcade of photographs, from Schoolcraft residents and Schoolcraft historical places to recent Schoolcraft events. It is a chronicle of her personal journey as well as a chronicle of life in Schoolcraft. Elizabeth has donated her time and photos to the community for charity and other projects for the past 33 years.

Among the photographs in “Have Camera” is Elizabeth’s first prizewinning entry in the WKZO calendar contest. This photo features the interior of Mike’s Barber Shop with Cliff Niskala in the chair, barber Mike Eberstein, and two dogs, Ollie and Ellie. There’s a photo from the 2014 Schoolcraft Christmas Walk taken in the Opera Room on the second floor of what was then Norma’s Antique Shop. Deadwood bluegrass music was entertaining customers. Elizabeth photographed the book signing of “So, I’m Told” by author Mary Jane Swartz in 1989 at the Underground Railroad Museum. Mary Jane’s daughters, Harriet and Nancy, were there. It’s Edna Smith’s book that Mary Jane is signing. Edna Smith owned the oldest house with siding in Schoolcraft.

Elizabeth was great friends with the Swartz family, and her photography of Schoolcraft homes began with a phone call from Harriet Swartz. Harriet wanted to photograph Schoolcraft herself. “I have a camera, and I want to take pictures,” Harriet told Elizabeth, “but my camera isn’t good enough. Can you help?” Their collaboration resulted in two books, “The Porches of Schoolcraft” and “The Kitchens of Schoolcraft.” “The ‘Kitchens’ book took longer to put together,” Elizabeth said, “because Harriet and I actually went inside the house.” This necessitated a neighborly visit rather than a quick pic and run. “Harriet visited with the hostess while I took the photographs,” Elizabeth said. Both books are greatly loved by the Schoolcraft public and are available to view at the Schoolcraft Community Library.

In August of 2000, Elizabeth was granted a press pass by the Secret Service and FBI to take pictures of George W. Bush’s visit to Schoolcraft alongside ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. There were about 7,000 people there that day at the Schoolcraft train depot. That same year, Elizabeth’s photography was in a KVCC End of Year Budget Performance publication that won an award for depicting information graphically rather than solely numerically.

Many Schoolcraft residents will find themselves among the pages of Elizabeth’s book. She will be signing it during the Schoolcraft Christmas Walk, December 6 and 7, at the Ladies Library Building on Hayward Street next door to the Schoolcraft Post Office. The book costs $25.

The Dome in Schoolcraft to Host “The Night of Miracles”

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Miracle Field in Schoolcraft.

By Sue Moore

“The Night of Miracles,” an evening of baseball for kids with disabilities, will take place at the Dome on US-131 in Schoolcraft from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. It will feature the first-ever Southwest Michigan Miracle League baseball team playing against a team from the West Michigan Miracle League in Rockford. It is also a stop on the Christmas Walk taking place in downtown Schoolcraft.

Stryker Corp. executive Jim Heath and his wife, Marsha, will be hosting the exhibition event. David Olson of Vicksburg has been instrumental in getting the League rolling but has been slowed by health issues. Jud Hoff, a former Stryker executive living in Portage, is chairman of the 501c3 Miracle League board, with Josh Baird from Vicksburg as vice president. Bill Deming, former parks and recreation director from Portage, has been closely involved in designing the facility. Board member Wade Rutkowski of Schoolcraft is doing a lot of the outreach to the area communities.

“It’s a great opportunity to watch kids with disabilities experience the joy of playing baseball and the camaraderie of being on a team and making new friends,” said Hoff. In addition to the game, they hope to provide information about the Miracle League and how fans can help the organization raise the $1.1 million needed to build a Miracle Field in Schoolcraft. It is intended to serve the children and families in the southwest Michigan area.

Heath was raised in Detroit, graduated from Kalamazoo College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and taught history and economics at Notre Dame High School in Detroit. While pursuing his master’s degree in Sports Administration from Ohio State University, he served as a member of the Ohio State University football coaching staff during his two years on campus. He later accepted a position as assistant football coach at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.

While head coach in football and baseball at Kalamazoo College in 1985, he was assistant professor of Physical Education during his three-year tenure. He then joined the Stryker Corporation in May of 1988 as Manager of Training for the Surgical Division. He has held numerous positions of increasing responsibility over the past 24 years. He has been in his current position of President, Stryker Instruments, for the past two years. Jim and Marsha live in Richland and want to show their support for the Miracle League by hosting the first-ever event of this kind at the Dome.

The event is free but organizers would like to get a count of those planning to attend. Registration can be done on