Category Archives: Schoolcraft

Gurjot Nanhra Art Exhibit at Schoolcraft Library

nanha artist
Gurjot Nanhra showcases her art work at the Schoolcraft Library.

Gurjot “Jo” Nanhra will be sharing her fluid art pieces with the Library during the month of January. The exhibit opened January 6 and closes on February 7.  Fluid art refers to an abstract art that uses thinned paints to create art without the use of a brush. Everyone is welcome to a reception for Jo Nanhra in the Community Room.

Nanhra said she discovered this style a few years back on Youtube and became very intrigued by the unique process. “I love making these paintings because it is relaxing and the flow of the paint is so intriguing. There are many different tools and techniques you can use to make the paintings even more diverse.”

Nanhra is 20 years old. She was born in Patiala, Punjab, India to Ram Singh and Anjit Kaur. Growing up in India, she remembers hearing her mom tell stories about painting scenes from post cards and portraits of other Indian women. “These stories really intrigued me as a child and sparked my passion for art. However, it wasn’t until we moved to the United States in 2008 when I realized my artistic talent. In 2012 Theresa Boyer convinced me to join the school art club,” Nanhra said.

“This even further developed my love for art. In spring of that year, we painted birds on the office windows of the school. I got so many compliments on my bird that year and to this day, it is one of my favorite moments. Fast forward to high school: During my senior year, I got to experiment will all different types of media and I quickly fell in love with oil paints,” Nanhra explained.

“When I graduated from Schoolcraft high school, right before my mom’s 50th birthday I decided I would paint a picture of my grandmother for her. It took me two months to complete the painting and to this day it is the piece I am most proud of. I continued to develop my artistic skills in college by studying fine arts at Kalamazoo Valley and now, switching into product design at Western Michigan University.”

Mark’s Towing Making Changes

Mark's Towing
Mark and Kim Parker greet fans as they are acknowledged as 4th of July parade grand marshals in 2018.

Kim Parker tells us that Mark’s Sales & Service in Schoolcraft will be out of the towing and auto repair business on January 1. “Because of health problems, we realized it was time for Mark to step back and let our son take the reins. Sean Sutherland and his wife, Amanda, will be renaming the repair shop ‘131 Auto Care’. They are excited to be purchasing that part of the business and have fresh ideas,” Parker said. “Mark and I will remain at the 429 S. Grand address. The office building out front will be for used car sales only. Our name will stay the same. We hope to build up our inventory and still serve the great customers we have met during the last 26 years in Schoolcraft.”


James Knepp Bell, 78, Schoolcraft, passed away Nov. 30. James was the son of Ramsay and Virginia (Knepp) Bell. He was born on November 3, 1941 in Washington, D.C. James graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 1959. After high school, he attended Michigan State University for a short time, before coming home to work. His family described him as independent, a creative thinker, unconventional, having a business mind, and a naturalist. In the 80’s, his family owned Bell’s Family Restaurant in Schoolcraft. He also owned Bell Real Estate and worked in his later years at Harding’s in Schoolcraft. Jim was a proud lifetime member of the Schoolcraft Lions Club. His hobbies included bow hunting and bowling. He enjoyed a good poker game. James is survived by his four children, James (Maureen) Bell, of Portage; Shane (Donna) Bell, of Florida; Tim (Sonja) Bell, of Louisiana; and Tamara (Don) Trudeau, of Nevada; 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Jeff (Vicki) Bell, of Schoolcraft. Visit James’ page at Donations may go to the Schoolcraft Lions Club.

Lyle G. Brockway, 95, Grand Rapids, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away January 1. Lyle was born in Brady Township on April 15, 1924 to Omar and Ines (Stevens) Brockway. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1942 and attended Michigan State University until enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters for flying thirty-five missions in B-17s over Europe during WWII. After the war, he married Maria Marian Dalman on July 5, 1947 in Vicksburg. Lyle was employed at Consumers Power Company for 37 years, rising to district superintendent in the Cadillac area before his retirement. Lyle and Maria had four children. He enjoyed many activities over the years, playing bridge, gardening, doing crosswords, caning chairs, square dancing, while always being an active member of the Vicksburg EUB and United Methodist Churches wherever he lived. He loved his time with his grandchildren and taught them all how to play cribbage. He served on the Brady Township Board as a trustee, United Way board in Manistee, taught Sunday school, and was a member and director of the American Contract Bridge Club. Lyle was preceded in death by his first wife, Maria in 1991; his parents; sisters Donna Kunselman, Margaret Harriger, Mary Brown; a brother, Donald Brockway; and a son, Michael Brockway. He is survived by his second wife, Roberta DeRoos; a sister, Bea Ross; children Ken (Barb) Brockway, Robert (MaryAnn) Brockway, Ann (Scott) Robare; a daughter-in-law, Fran Brockway; 10 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. A funeral service for Lyle will be held on Saturday, January 11, at 11 a.m. at the McCowen-Secord Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, Vicksburg. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m. Visit Lyle’s page at Donations may go to the Red Bird Mission.

Jerrold “Jerry” L. Dailey, 80, Scotts, passed away Dec. 16. Jerry was born on March 21, 1939 in Vicksburg. He was the son of George and Imogene (Randall) Dailey. He graduated from the Vicksburg High School Class of 1957. On March 25, 1978, he married Marilee. He is survived by his wife; son Chad (Brooke) Dailey, of Schoolcraft; stepson Scott (fiancé Tomi Jo) Shrauger, of Jenison; grandchildren Jordan, Hunter, Paige, Brenna, Joey, and Carli. He is also survived by his sister-in-law: Louanne (Bob) Heemstra, of Kalamazoo and daughter-in-law Dawn Dailey, of Schoolcraft. He was preceded in death by his son, Scot Dailey. Visit Jerry’s page at Donations may go to Lord of Life Lutheran Church and the Vicksburg Lions Club.

Bradley Jacob Dow, 22, Kalamazoo, passed away December 10. He was born January 31, 1997 in Norwich, Conn., the son of Bruce and Rachel (Smith) Dow. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2015, where he was a member of the Big Red Machine marching band. He was an avid musician, playing the trombone and drums. Bradley is survived by his parents, Bruce and Rachel of Scotts; brother Bruce (Donielle) Dow and their children, Jessica and Isaac of Comstock, and sister Meagan (Joseph) Stiver and their daughter, Addison, of Vicksburg. He also leaves his paternal grandparents Ronald and Bette Dow of Las Vegas. He is also survived by his girlfriend, Taylor Freemire, and dog, Remington Prince. Donations may go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or to his GoFundMe to help offset expenses.

James S. Huntington, 67, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully December 6. James was born on July 20, 1952 in Kalamazoo. He was the son of Paul and Margaret (Hartman) Huntington. He graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1970. On December 18, 1976 he married Sheran Skipper in Missouri. James worked at Simpson Paper mill until it closed. James is survived by his children, Elizabeth Huntington of Vicksburg, Marcia Skipper of Vicksburg; Pamela (Dale) Mentor of Portage and Ronald Skipper of Comstock; 19 grandchildren; great grandchildren and his siblings, Robert (Jodi) Huntington of Scotts and Steven (Brenda) Huntington. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings Pat and Larry. Visit James’ page at Donations may go to Generous Hands.

Philip B. Maneikis, Schoolcraft, passed away December 25. He was born on November 14, 1944 to Victor and Margaret (Hammond) Maneikis. He married Cynthia M. Hull on July 30, 1966. They were married 38 terrific years and raised four wonderful Christian daughters. Phil retired from KVCC after teaching engineering manufacturing for 33 years. He also farmed 350 acres in Schoolcraft for over 40 years. He was a member of Lawton Evangelical (Mennonite) Church. Phil was passionate about helping those in need in devastated areas through Mennonite Disaster Service. He rebuilt and repaired homes for 2-3 months every year for 20 years. After Cyndi passed in 2003, he married Kathleen (DeForest) Schelb. Their combined family included daughters Tiffany Priest, Michelle (Jeff) Stahl, Jennifer (Scott) VanZanten, Melissa Chandler, and Jennifer Schelb. They also had 12 grandchildren and 2 great grandsons. Phil was predeceased by his brother, Dennis. In addition to the above family members, he is survived by his brother, Stanley. Visit Phil’s page at Donations may go to Leukemia And Lymphoma Society or Lawton Evangelical Church to be used for missions.

William “Jim” Miller II, 68, passed away at his home December 22. Jim was born in Kalamazoo, on February 8, 1951 to the late William J. Miller “Bill” and Irene (Kramer) Miller. He was raised in Portage with his brother, Robert Jay Miller. After graduating from Portage Northern High School, Jim went on to Ferris State University. He later moved on to a career at the Upjohn Company (Pfizer) that spanned more than 37 years. Jim loved the people he worked with and enjoyed reminiscing with old friends and co-workers at the monthly retirement breakfasts. Jim loved sports! He enjoyed bowling and playing adult hockey as a goalie. One of his greatest passions was coaching and playing for the Upjohn slow pitch softball team, “Freak Bros.” He was proud of his friendship with the late Galesburg-Augusta Hall of Fame High School Football coach, Bill Maskill, and loved sharing stories of their friendship over the years. They enjoyed sharing breakfast three days a week for the last 10 years. Jim is survived by his son, William “Willie” Miller, of Schoolcraft, a brother; Robert (Tammy) Miller; grandchildren William “Jimmy” Miller IV and Mackenzie Fay Miller, a nephew, Bobby Miller, and niece, Andrea Miller. Visit his page at

Josie Taylor-B Neel, 1, Vicksburg, passed away from complications with her heart December 7. She was born to JT Neel and Megan Oswalt on November 27, 2018. Within forty-eight hours of her birth, Josie underwent surgery to repair her congenital heart defect, truncus arteriosus. Josie enjoyed playing with her cousins, having her mom read and sing to her, and playing with her special baby dolls. She often loved to stare out the window looking for deer with her dad. There is no doubt that Josie Neel was a bright light in the lives of many. Her infectious smile could light up any room. Born slightly premature, she made up for her small stature in her larger-than-life personality. Josie is survived by her parents, JT Neel and Megan Oswalt, of Vicksburg; grandparents Shane and Heidi Neel of Vicksburg and Dan and Kelly Oswalt of Vicksburg; great grandparents Bonnie Oswalt, of Vicksburg; Kathy Lange, of Vicksburg; and Gary Neel, of Alabama; great-great-grandmother Darlene Cain, of South Haven. She is also survived by her aunts and uncles, Emily and Andy Foster, of Vicksburg; Derek and Katie Debiak, of Vicksburg; Justin and Morgan, of Otsego; and Wyatt Neel, of Vicksburg; special cousins Grady, Addy, Braelyn, Brynlee, and Easton. She was preceded in death by her great grandparents, Gordon Oswalt, Edwin and Ruth Martin, and Vivian Schroeder. Visit Josie’s page at Donation checks be made payable in one of the parent’s names for a future memorial fund that will be set up in Josie’s name.

Phillip M. Stewart, 83, formerly of Vicksburg, passed away Nov. 29 in Bradenton, Florida. He was born to John and Ruth Stewart in Kalamazoo on November 26, 1936, the oldest of five children. Phillip attended WMU, where he obtained bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics. Phill co-founded Triple S Plastics in Kalamazoo, then moved it to Vicksburg. In addition, he founded Beacon Tool and Engineering. He was an inventor and held seven U.S. patents. In 1987, he moved to Sarasota, Florida. In 1988 Phill cofounded Stewart Industrial Supply in Bradenton with his brother, Dave Stewart, formerly of Vicksburg. He entered the teaching field by substituting at Sarasota Military Academy and IMG Academy. Phillip was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Jack Stewart, and his daughter, Sandra Baus. He is survived by his wife, Esther, his children Tammy Stewart, Teresa Vaal, Phillip Andrew Stewart and Diana Schau. He is also survived by his brothers, Dave Stewart and Bill Stewart, and his sister, Jeanne Qualls. Phillip had eight grandchildren, three great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Donations may go to the Melanoma Research Fund at U of M. Checks may be made payable to U of M and sent to the Michigan Medicine Office of Development. You may also call 734-764-6777 or visit the website to make your gift. You may also donate to Tidewell Hospice.

Hisko Timmermans, 72, Vicksburg, passed away November 30. On February 17, 1947, Hisko was born to Gerrit and Zwaantje (Hulsing) Timmermans in Groningen, Netherlands. His family immigrated to the United States in 1956. He graduated with the class of 1965 from Portage High. Hisko received his bachelor’s degree in education from WMU. He enlisted in the United States Army and served stateside. He remained in the reserves until 1976. Hisko worked for his father at Timmermans Plumbing and Heating, a family business. Following in his father’s footsteps, he later started his own business, Hisko Timmermans Plumbing Company and finished his plumbing career at Mall City Mechanical. Hisko was also actively involved in the Vicksburg community. Hisko enjoyed playing the guitar and singing in a local beach band. Hisko enjoyed a wide variety of sports. He was known to officiate the AYSO soccer games in Paw Paw as well as play on an adult league at the SoccerZone in Portage. He also played golf, ran in local races, and was a regular member of a spinning class at the Bronson Athletic Club. Hisko was married in 1969 to his first wife Diane (Karen) and together they raised three wonderful children; Kristi, Josh, and Matt. Later, he met and married his second wife, Barbara, on April 21, 1989, joining her two children, Lisa and Matt, with his three and forming their extended family. Hisko is survived by loving his wife of 30 years, Barbara; the children, Kristi (Matt) Hausler, of Petoskey; Josh (Maureen) Timmermans, of Ohio; Matt (Christina) Timmermans, of Ohio; stepchildren Lisa (Chris) Newman, of Vicksburg; Matt (Marcy) Leonard, of Arizona; 11 grandchildren; siblings Roelie (Doug) Caldwell, of Ludington and Garret (Sandra) Timmermans, of Kalamazoo; several nieces and nephews. Visit Hisko’s page at Donations may go to West Michigan Cancer Center, AYSO, or Generous Hands.

Carol Woodburn, Schoolcraft, passed away peacefully December 4. Carol was born to Herbert and Marie Beischl on July 2, 1936. She is survived by her children, William (Sue Vanlaten) Woodburn, Chris Asher, Ross Woodburn, Robert (Michelle) Woodburn Jr. and Keith (Jackie) Woodburn; 11 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; a sister, Loleta Farrow; and many nieces and nephews. Carol was also known as “grandma” to many. She was preceded in death by her husband of 45 years, Robert Woodburn Sr., parents, Herbert and Marie Beischl; siblings George, LeRoy, Alice, Mildred, Ruby and Judy. Cremation has taken place and burial will be March 13, 2020 at Schoolcraft Cemetery with a luncheon to follow at First Presbyterian Church in Schoolcraft. Visit Carol’s page at

Schoolcraft Renews Superintendent’s Contract

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft Board of Education gave Superintendent Rusty Stitt his annual evaluation in a closed session at the December meeting. Board President Jennifer Gottschalk said the board gave him a highly effective rating. She also said Stitt’s contract rolled over for another year and that he had already signed it.

Also in this short meeting the board voted to send ballot language for the March 10 bond issue to the county clerk’s office.

The board decided last month to ask voters to approve the bond issue as it was first proposed after it failed by a slim margin during the November election.

Schoolcraft Robotics Teacher Ready for a New Contest

Team robotics schoolcraft
Donya Dobbin, second from left in the front row, works with her robotics team from last year.

By Sue Moore

Schoolcraft’s high school robotics team is coached by Donya Dobbin, the school’s 9th grade physics teacher who also teaches algebra and courses in the Middle School. The robotics club finished 10th out of 35 in a fall event at Constantine. It also won a control award, had a great time and learned a lot, she said. The initial robot is built with Lego-like objects and the students program it, then perform with it in competition.

Dobbin is gearing up for the high school robotics competition which begins on January 10 with a kickoff “reveal” to be viewed by all robotics club members across the US. It is a totally different design from 2019, with six weeks to build it out before the round of competitions begin.

“The energy is huge at these events although it makes for long days,” Dobbin said. “We build in Greg Sampley’s barn, where he helps with the fabrication. Some students just want to do that part. Others do an animation video while other kids do the programming. I can’t program at all, so a volunteer from Western Michigan University has been helping with that.”

Dobbin loves physics and has her degree from WMU in science education, a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate in math. She began her teaching career in Lakeview schools and was recruited by Superintendent Rusty Stitt to teach in Schoolcraft for the last six years while a resident of Scotts. Her favorite sport is playing pool and she admits she is pretty good at it, because it involves physics. She even joined a league to keep her game going strong.

One of her middle school students wrote, “Robotics is so much fun. It’s nice to have a club at school that involves coding and building.” Dobbin is grateful for all of the support volunteers have provided these children, “especially for people who want to do that stuff for their career.”

John Chapin is one of those who helped to put the $10,000 budget over the top and save the program, she said. He works at Bosch, which donated $5,000 because of his outreach. Denso also donated $1,000 to the middle school robotics program, which had a budget of $2,000 last year.

Samsung National STEM Award for Schoolcraft Students

Schoolcraft girls EEE concoction
Schoolcraft STEM students with their mosquito remedy from left to right: Alayna Meade, Heidi Sheen, Jaden Jager.

By Sue Moore

Alayna Meade, Heidi Sheen and Jaden Jager, all Schoolcraft ninth graders in Donya Dobbin’s freshmen engineering class, are among 300 finalists in Samsung’s “Solve for Tomorrow” contest. Their project was chosen as part of an effort by Samsung to encourage students across the nation to solve real-world issues in their community using classroom skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The classroom was divided into teams and asked to choose one everyday community problem, Dobbin said. This team choose mosquito-borne eastern equine encephalitis, triple E, which was a huge concern for residents of Schoolcraft in the fall of 2019. They came up with an innovative idea to make an insect repellent out of deodorant, lotion, perfume and a little mosquito repellent as their concoction to ward off the mosquito bites that cause EEE. They would then spray it on their bodies to prevent mosquitos from coming near.

The students submitted a paper to the Samsung judges and it was selected as a finalist. As their teacher, Dobbins had to write a lesson plan outlining how students will tackle the local issue using STEM skills to ultimately improve the greater community.

Four other schools’ students beside Schoolcraft were also selected as state finalists: Comstock STEM Academy, Troy High School, Holt Senior High School and Washtenaw International Middle Academy, Ypsilanti.

Schoolcraft Scores Big Win Over Battle Creek Central

Seniors on Schoolcraft’s basketball team from left: Aiden Hursey, Terry Smith, Steven Schultz, Trevor De Groote, Kobe Clark.

By Mark Blentlinger

The Eagles boys’ basketball team under the leadership of Randy Small worked its way through the early part of the 2019-20 campaign by beating Hopkins, Delton Kellogg, Saugatuck and Lawton. On the weekend following Christmas, the team made the trek to Battle Creek to play in the Chuck Turner Holiday Classic. On Dec. 27, they faced off against the Bearcats of Battle Creek Central. The Bearcats would remember when they lost to the Eagles in the same tournament a year earlier by the score of 41-38.

The score was even more lopsided this time: 65-43.

Schoolcraft was not intimidated by facing a much larger school’s team, jumping out ahead in the first few minutes. The Bearcats were able to erase the hole they were in to take the lead 22-21 midway into the second period. The Bearcats would see that lead disappear when the Eagles took a 30-25 lead at halftime. In period three, the Eagles began to open up the lead and play very strong defense. The Bearcats were only able to put four points on the board the entire period. It appeared the Eagles worked hard on free throws in the off season as they went 21 for 30 tries from the line.

Leading the Eagles in scoring were Kobe Clark, 16, Tyler DeGroote, 15, and Bryce Vanderwiere, with 12. The Eagles had eight three pointers. Leading scorer for the Bearcats was Tyree Young with 20. The Bearcats struggled from the line, making only 6 of 10 and 5 three pointers. While Schoolcraft will enter 2020 unbeaten, that record will be challenged early on when the team visits Kalamazoo Hackett on January 7, and three days later when Kalamazoo Christian plays the Eagles in Schoolcraft.