Category Archives: Schoolcraft

‘Miracle’ accessible baseball field due in spring

Local nonprofit Southwest Michigan Miracle League (SMML) hosted an event to celebrate the special baseball field that will help area kids with disabilities enjoy America’s favorite pastime. SMML has been working to raise funds to build a custom-designed baseball field in southwest Michigan for kids with physical, visual and other disabilities. The Miracle Field is located near The Dome Sports Center at 12733 US-131 in Schoolcraft. A Miracle Field is a custom-designed baseball field with a cushioned, rubberized surface to help prevent injuries, wheelchair-accessible dugouts, and a flat playing surface to eliminate barriers to wheelchairs or visually impaired players. Community volunteers called “buddies” work with each Miracle League player, helping them enjoy the game, allowing players’ families to watch and cheer from the stands as their child plays. Jud Hoff, president of SMML, thanks donors and the community for making it possible to bring the dream of the Miracle League to southwest Michigan. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, we have to delay our official opening until the spring. But we didn’t want this major milestone to go by without thanking and acknowledging the many people and organizations who helped us get here.” The organization continues to raise funds to complete the field.

My First Job

By Marilyn Jones,
Schoolcraft’s Poet Laureate

Back in February, 1942
I was an inexperienced fifteen,
Naïve, slender, lithe and strong
And thought I could do anything
Know what I mean?

I saw an ad for “Help Wanted”
A chance to earn a little money,
At 60 an hour, I was enthused
(I got 10 an hour for baby-sitting)
The boss said, “You’re hired, honey!”

I showed up promptly at 5 o’clock
After wading through slush and snow,
We walked everywhere in those days
Life wasn’t easy, I want you to know.

I wore slacks, a sweater and saddle shoes
A narrow board, was where I could sit,
Very soon, I learned to pull my legs up
Still…once in a while I got hit.

The noise was like a freight train
Rumble, rumble, rumble, CRASH!
Then I jumped down, and set ‘em up
And threw that heavy ball down the chute
Darned hard work for a little cash.

Over and over, up and down
This wasn’t any fun at all,
Bending, stooping, squatting, lifting
I trudged home at eleven, wanting to bawl.

I managed to stick it out for three weeks
There was never a moment to dally,
Yes, before electronics took over
I was a pin-setter at the bowling alley!

Schoolcraft board addresses parent concerns on instruction in pandemic

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft Board of Education fielded comments from several residents concerned about the district’s educational plans during the pandemic.

Kory Bienz said he was asked to speak for approximately 40-50 families in the community who want to go back to a fully face-to-face education model. “They want to know what the plan is,” he said at the meeting, once again held virtually via Zoom.

He said that other districts like Mendon, Colon and Constantine went back to a fully face-to-face instruction model on day one of the school year. While Bienz said he recognizes the teachers and administration have been putting in countless work hours, he also believes the hybrid model currently in place is not going to work for students in the long run. Bienz also expressed concerns about long term consequences of Schoolcraft remaining in this model.

“If all these other schools are face-to-face and Schoolcraft isn’t, there’s going to be families that leave the school district and that’s concerning, obviously, because that’s where we get most of our funding,” Bienz said.

Jen Rykse’s words echoed Bienz’s. She also expressed concerns about sending children back to school wearing masks.

“We are kind of all in agreement that our children learn best face-to-face. We want to get them back in the schools,” Rykse said. “Obviously we want to do it as safe as possible, but I know we’re one of the last districts to do it.”

Superintendent Rusty Stitt directly addressed the parent concerns during his report to the board, noting that they will be looking into it and will have a recommendation to the board by Nov. 9 about how to proceed.

“These are trying times for us all,” Stitt said. “It seems like every minute the rules change. Again, this is from Rusty Stitt’s perspective; we don’t know what executive order, if there’s an executive order, what’s local, what’s state and ongoing. So, it’s very challenging. Please note, and I know that you do, that the safety and well-being of our kids is of the utmost importance.”

Stitt said he does support getting back to face-to-face instruction as soon as possible. He also said that they are now required to report on their website the number of cases in the district. The district has had one case of the virus in a student at the middle school.

Trustee Jill Hunt also addressed some of the parental concerns at the meeting. She called for the community to be patient as the situation develops.

“Some of us are ready to have our kids back in school full-time and some of us aren’t comfortable with that, so we have to be mindful of everyone’s opinion on this virus and the fear that they have,” Hunt said. “This includes the staff and especially the teachers. Some are onboard with being in school and some are still really fearful of that, so as our community pushes our teachers, just please don’t push too hard. Because they have families too, they have situations and they feel a particular way as far as the coronavirus goes. So there’s no one size fits all on this, we’re going to try our best to do what we can to make everybody happy. But we will never make everybody happy. So, please bear with us as we go through these unprecedented times.”

Middle school Principal Dave Powers echoed Hunt’s comments about patience. He said the situation is hitting close to home at the middle school and because he has a friend whose son has contracted COVID-19 for a second time this year. Powers said previous experiences visiting with students or parents of students in hospitals and funeral homes was humbling.

“They don’t teach you about or prepare you for those kinds of scenarios as you head into leadership and into education,” Powers said. “To have to face that and what could be the potential outcome of those situations is beyond words.”

While he is hopeful for a return to normal, he said he also wants to err on the side of caution for safety of both students and staff.

“I don’t want to visit one more student in a hospital or one more funeral home in my career – which I don’t have a ton of it left, but I don’t want any more of that for anybody and their families,” Powers said.

Board President Jennifer Gottschalk also called for parents to be patient as they work through the process. She said she does not want to rush things as they follow the data and work with the health department.

“We’re going to follow the rules all the way along and we’re not going to skip steps in the process,” Gottschalk said. “Stick with us and we will get there. We’re not going to speed through this. Let’s take our time and get it right.”

With few losses, Eagle volleyball on a roll

By Mark Blentlinger

With a record of 28-2, the Schoolcraft Volleyball Team is spiking its way through opponent after opponent. The team has lost only to Portage Central and Lakewood (Lake Odessa), ranked No. 1 in division 2. Coach Erin Onken said, “We are having fun and improving daily. Consistency in our play continues to rise and we are looking forward to postseason action starting soon”

The Eagles have hosted Delton, Kalamazoo Hackett, Galesburg and Coloma. They also held a Quad tournament that included No. 1 ranked Mendon in Division 4, No. 2 Ranked Lakewood in Division 2 and Mattawan, which is not ranked this season.

The home match vs Delton resulted in the Eagles winning 25-10, 25-8, 25-11. Kalamazoo Hackett, hoping to be competitive, was next, but Schoolcraft did not allow the Irish to flex too much muscle, shutting them down with scores of 25-13, 25-12, 25-11. The Rams of Galesburg also fell in three, 25-8, 25-8, 25-6. The Coloma Comets came into the gym to face the mighty Eagles. They fell 25-10, 25-9, 25-8.

With a win over Constantine 25-21, 25-22, 25-15, the Eagles secured the SAC Conference Valley Championship, but the games didn’t stop. The Eagles next headed to Battle Creek Lakeview for another quad tournament where they came out victors, beating Portage Northern, Cass Tech and Lakeview.

While the Eagles’ defense stands out, the team is playing very aggressively on both sides of the net. The team leaders are the ever cool and collected. Libro Kelby Goldschmeding has 419 digs this season, followed by her sister Allie Goldschmeding with 301. Onken says, “Allie is a primary passer and a dominant right-side defender.” Kayla Onken rounds out the top three in digs with 284. Offensely, Anna Schuppel leads with .558 hitting efficiency, boasting 241 kills. Leading the team in kills is Maggie Morris with 299.

The Eagles are Ranked No. 2 in Division 3, right behind No. 1 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central. These 2 teams could end up seeing each other for the third time and second straight year in the Division 3 state championships.

Schoolcraft Eagles soar into playoffs

By Mark Blentlinger

With the MHSAA cutting team play to six games in the 2020 football season, every team will compete in the district championships. The regular season allowed teams to stretch their legs, but the Eagles stretched their wings. The Eagle offense has picked apart opposing defenses with pin-point passes from senior signal caller Alex Thole, allowing his receivers many yards, all supported by a powerful running game.

The Eagles have won the SAC Conference Valley Championship. Offensively, the team has scored 250 points, allowing opponents only 85, with 42 of those points coming from the trip to Chelsea which gave the Eagles their only loss of this season. The Eagles have accumulated 2,271 total yards of offense, while allowing the defense just 1,190 total yards.

Schoolcraft’s only loss during the regular season, 42-21, came at the hands of Divison 3 Chelsea, a much larger school compared to the Division 7 Eagles.

Thole and the offensive attack still had 337 yards with 301 coming through the air. It took until the second quarter before the visitor side of the scoreboard added points with a 32-yard interception by Jimmy Downs. Alex Thole went 19/38 on passes, with three interceptions and two touchdowns. Sophomore Tagg Gott led the Eagle rushing attack with seven attempts for 28 yards.

Regular season ended with the Eagles winning the last three games. First was at Saginaw High School where the Eagles blanked the Trojans 55-0, keeping Saginaw to 18 yards of offense. Lawton then visited Roy Davis field with the hopes that the Blue Devils could end a three-game losing streak to the Eagles; however, Coach Ferency and the team kept Lawton to 14 points while scoring 45 for the home team with 452 total yards of offense. Thole went 11/22 for 189 yards, the first game since his sophomore year in which he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Tagg Gott lead the ground attack with 19 carries for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Jimmy Downs had four catches for 105 yards, with Harmon DeVries snagging three for 44 yards.

For the last game before districts, the Eagles visited the Panthers of Delton Kellogg for a drizzly, cold game on the Panther’s new turf. The Eagles had 351 total yards, with 151 in the air and 200 on the ground. Leading the attack was Tagg Gott again with nine rushes for 85 yards. Thole had 10 rushes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Jimmy Downs followed up with five touches for 24 yards, hitting paydirt three times. Senior Jett Gott led the defense with five tackles and four assists. Fellow senior Carl Taylor added five tackles and six assists.

Post season has started throughout the state. The Schoolcraft team trounced Galesburg’s Rams, 53-6, on Oct. 30.

Athletic director talks limited event attendance

By Travis Smola

Schoolcraft Athletic Director Jeff Clark briefly spoke about attendance at sporting events in response to the coronavirus pandemic at the Schoolcraft board of education meeting.

Clark noted that he has spoken with the MHSAA and the health department on the issue. The MHSAA put out guidelines allowing for up to 1,000 people at events, but only if facilities allow that – and Schoolcraft’s do not. The district will allow 30% capacity at outdoor venues and 20% capacity at indoor ones.

Tickets will be prioritized to each parent of a student athlete. If a family is separated with divorced parents, they will be able to get four tickets if they need them. After parents, priority shifts to student spectators starting with seniors first, juniors second.

Clark noted that capacity at Roy Davis Stadium is 480 fans under the rules and that attendance must be split between home and visiting teams – 240 for each team. For volleyball, the limit will be 280 fans and for the upcoming basketball seasons only 180 will be allowed in. Clark said this is due to the configuration of the bleachers and the court.

He said they will continue to stream sporting events live via YouTube for anyone who can’t attend in person.

Schoolcraft’s equestrian team improves

Senior Annabelle Ledlow and her horse.

Over the past three years, the Schoolcraft High Equestrian Team has improved, increasing placings and points in its division. This year, the Class B team, coached by Christine Rosey since May 2018, produced enough points to challenge the second-place qualifying team, missing qualifying for regionals by just three points. This may be the best performance Schoolcraft’s team has had.

Three seniors have completed their high school equestrian career: Katelynn Delaney, Annabelle Ledlow and Alana Reed. Delaney, a determined showmanship competitor and rider, faced challenges with her horse’s health, limiting her competitions in the past two years. Ledlow has won high point district awards multiple times and has been the team’s high point award winner for the past two years, all the while competing on two of the most challenging horses on the team. Reed attends many horse shows and fairs, excelling at jumping. All three contributed to the success of this year’s team.

Looking to next year, Rosey states that she has talented riders coming up from the middle school, as well as returning underclassmen Mariah Flynn, Brooklyn Hamelink, Clara Ledlow, Ridley Reed and Faith Westfall.

Rosey is proud of her team and optimistic for the team’s future. She also discusses the bigger picture, stressing that being part of an equestrian team teaches important life lessons like “responsibility, emotional control, self-discipline and time management.” She teaches her young competitors, “You can do whatever you set your mind to if you don’t give up.”

Schoolcraft studies existing septic systems

An aerial view of a large sewage treatment plant.

By Rob Peterson

Just 61% of septic systems in the Village of Schoolcraft are known to meet requirements of a new septic system, village council members were told by two county representatives at an October meeting.

Vern Johnson and Lucas Pols from the county Health and Community Services joined the virtual meeting to present the information they have at the county level.

They said they do not have current records for over 100 properties in the village, partly because the microfiche created in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s did not capture the most relevant information. Address changes over time can complicate the records as well.

More recent records may also be inaccurate because homeowners are not required to report when a system is pumped, nor are they required to use the county’s services when a home inspection is completed.

A well-built and properly maintained system, according to Johnson, could last 30 years or more, though 20 years would be more typical.

But the primary concern, according to Johnson, is that 61%. Many homes are serviced by drywells, which do not treat the wastewater as completely as a drain field or trench. “We are learning more every day about how to improve sewage treatment systems for homes and businesses,” said Johnson.

When a drywell fails, the mess that it creates is not as alarming as the potential for contamination of the drinking water supply. Much of the village is in a Wellhead Protection Area, which protects the groundwater that serves the local municipal water system.

“Drywells and septic systems must be designed so that waste is fully treated in order to protect our drinking water supply,” said Johnson. He stated that this can become difficult when working on smaller lots in the village.

When an existing system fails, Johnson and Pols stated that they work with homeowners to create a solution in locations where an appropriate septic system cannot be installed. The worst-case scenario is an in-ground holding tank that requires routine pumping by a licensed hauler. But that is only a short-term solution.

The Village will continue to research the issue as it considers whether to install sewer lines. The South County Sewer Authority, who could provide sewage treatment for the Village, continues to meet virtually.

In other news, the Village Council reviewed a draft audit from the South County Fire Authority. The only material deficiency was caused by the fact that auditors created the financial statements rather than having an independent accountant create them. This is something council members felt could be remedied easily by hiring another firm to complete this task.

Village Manager Cheri Lutz indicated that she will be meeting with the village manager from Vicksburg to learn more about the Mill at Vicksburg project. This $80 million project will encompass over 400,000 square feet of commercial space and will impact the entire region. Lutz’s goal is to be proactive so that Schoolcraft can benefit from the development.

Lutz received approval from the council to implement a program to assist local merchants during the COVID quarantine. Her proposal is to sell gift cards that would be redeemable at local businesses. When a customer purchases a $25 gift card, the Village will match that with an additional $25 gift card to the same business.

Funds for the program will come from a $1,000 allocation in the promotions budget. The Village will promote the program via social media.


Marilyn E. Baird, 83, Fulton, passed away Oct. 4. Marilyn was born Sept. 30, 1937, in Vicksburg, the daughter of Pete and Bernice (Weimer) Holt. Marilyn enjoyed music, graduating from Vicksburg High School where she met David Baird. Married April 22, 1955, the couple created a home and raised four children. Marilyn’s sewing and crafting interests complemented David’s skills in woodworking, leading to their participation in many craft shows. She was a longtime member of the Prairie Baptist Church. Marilyn is survived by her husband of 65 years, David; children Stephen (Mary) Baird of Coopersville, Joan (Bob) Huffman of New Mexico, Thomas Baird of Florida, Ellen (Mike) Ashbee of Missouri; eight grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; two great great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Ted Holt, Don Holt and Tom Holt; and sister Elizabeth Ann. Visit her page at Donations may go to Rural Bible Missions or mail directly to RBM Ministries c/o Amy & Paul P.O. Box 128 Plainwell, MI 49080.

Newell Burson Dean, 84, Schoolcraft, passed away Oct. 1 at Bronson Methodist Hospital. He was born at the Burson family homestead north of Schoolcraft Feb. 28, 1936, the son of Leslie Newell Dean and Alice Mae (Burson Dean) Schug. Newell was raised in Portage, graduated from Portage schools, and received his degree in agriculture from MSU in 1956. Newell married Ruth Ellen Garlic March 23, 1956. They moved to the Carl Abel farm in Cedar Springs. He accepted an offer to manage the Allan Milham farm in Portage in 1957. In 1964, he purchased the Maynard Jeffries farm in Schoolcraft, where he and Ruth raised their family. He was a member of the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church for 52 years, and active in leadership of Farm Bureau, Prairie Ronde Township, Kalamazoo County, Lawton Board of Education, Lawton Athletic Boosters and the Van Buren County Youth Fair-Junior Livestock Producers. Newell was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Ronald Zentz; sister-in-law Diana Dean; granddaughter Kendra Dean; and great grandson Paul Dean Rozeboom. He is survived by his wife; children Julia (Paul) Rozeboom, David Dean, Bruce (Therese) Dean and Gary (Wendy) Dean; sister Millicent Zentz; brothers James Dean and Duane (Sharon) Dean; 13 grandchildren; 20 great grandchildren; and numerous brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. Visit Newell’s page at Share memories with the family at Donations may go to Schoolcraft United Methodist Church Memorial Fund.

David Marion Huntington, 71, passed away Sept. 26. He was born to Marion and Theresa Huntington April 24, 1949, in Vicksburg. He was a Vietnam veteran. He was joined in marriage to Linda Louise Loosier April 28, 1973, and later welcomed one son, David. David loved camping at Leidy Lake Campground with his wife, Linda and son, Davie. They had many great years there and made many friends. Throughout his career, David worked at Gibson Guitars and Mead Paper. He was a hard worker and always did whatever he could to take care of his family and help his friends. David was preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Linda, his parents and brothers-in-law John Overton and Jarry Loosier. He survived by his son, David (Brandi) Huntington; brother, Leslie Huntington of Vicksburg; sisters Marilyn (Ed Sr.) Miller of Coldwater, Rosemary (Raymond) Weller of Coldwater, Alice (Mike) Bockstanz of Portage, Lori Overton of Three Rivers, and Brenda (Bob) Piper of Vicksburg; grandchildren KJ, Alyssa, Noah and Eveah. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews that he loved very much. Services will be announced at a later date.

Thomas L. Karns, 58, Vicksburg passed away Sept. 25. Tom was born March 18, 1962, in Marshall, the son of Thomas and Eleanor (Napientek) Karns. Tom graduated in 1980 from Marshall High School. He proudly served in the United States Army 101st Airborne from 1980 until 1989. It was during his time in the service that he became a nurse. When he returned home, he worked at the State Hospital for over 10 years. On July 2, 2004, he married Theora Edwards. He was preceded in death by his wife and parents. He is survived by children Tyson (Melanie) Souza of Oregon and Trina (Carlos) Sanchez of California; their mother, L.J. Souza of California; step-children Tonya (Andy) Taylor of Scotts, Lyndie (Brian Tassell) Wall of Fulton, Conor (Jenny) Schaub of Schoolcraft; father and mother-in-law Linden and Lois Edwards; grandchildren Lea, Neil, Vincent, Kasey, Morgan, Gracie Lue, Eric Thomas, Wyatt, Isla and Oliver. He is also survived by brothers Larry (Julia) Karns, of Battle Creek and Michael Karns, of Texas; sisters Donna (Dennis) Wintersteen of Marshall and Becky (Rich) Simpkins of Mississippi; sisters-in-law Pam (Jeff) Foy of Climax and Jenny (Chan) Edwards of Vicksburg; many nieces and nephews; and his beloved dog, Geno. Tom will be cremated and his ashes will be interred in a private ceremony at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit his page at

James (Jim) Mendocha, 68, passed away peacefully on Oct. 18. The youngest of five children, Jim was born Dec. 4, 1951 to Frank and Wanda (Zoilkowski) Mendocha. He was a graduate of WMU with a bachelor’s degree in art. On Oct. 1, 1994, he married his soulmate and the love of his life, Janet Prosser. Their family quickly grew with the addition of their two wonderful sons, Matthew and Michael, whom he adored. Jim lived an adventurous early life. He lived all over the country. His mother often said he was born with a gypsy heel. His travels frequently coincided with various occupations, from being a stenographer at the Pentagon while in the army to owning his own candle making store in Estes Park, Colorado, to finally helping his wife run The Fulton Little Store. Jim enjoyed playing and listening to all kinds of music. He was known for his sense of humor, story-telling, and spending time with lifelong friends, Mark Weeks and Eric Matthies. Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Wanda Nash. He is survived by his loving wife, Janet Mendocha; sons Matthew and Michael; brother Jack Mendocha; sisters Carol (Arthur) Pollari, lovingly referred to as Spud and French Fry, and Sally Mendocha; and several nieces and nephews. A gathering of friends and family will be scheduled for a later date. Donations may go to Rose Arbor Hospice or West Michigan Cancer Center.

Robert “Bob” Peck, 83, passed away peacefully Sept. 29, 2020, in his hometown of Campton, Kentucky. The son of the late Henry and Ellen Banks Peck, he was born in Campton Jan. 22, 1937. Bob moved to Kalamazoo in the 1950s, finding his niche as a drywall hanger and finisher for his former brother-in-law Jim, owner of Burns Drywall in Portage. Bob did countless jobs for Martz Home Builders, Louis Roberts Home Builders and other side jobs for folks who requested his work. He was a regular in the “drywallers’ corner” at Derk’s Restaurant in Portage, before retiring to Kentucky. Bob was a talented guitarist and enjoyed riding his motorcycle. He is survived by his wife, Mary Burrow Peck of Campton; son Bill (Melissa) of Warren, Michigan; daughters Cathy Conner of Winchester, Kentucky, Missy (Lee) Noel of Portage, Colleen (George) Ogan of Kalamazoo, and Christine (Gary) Allen of Vicksburg; 17 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; brother Woodrow “Sam” Peck of Campton; sister Dixie Peck of Campton; and special friend Anna Tate whom he called “his bingo wife.” He was preceded in death by daughter Geri Docsa; a grandchild; and sister, Berneda Swim. Bob was laid to rest in Campton.

K. Mark Pedler, 60, of Three Rivers, formerly of Elkhart, Indiana, passed away Oct. 11. He was born Dec. 30, 1959, in Elkhart. He graduated from Concord High School in Elkhart and was a journeyman tool and die maker for 25 years. Mark was preceded in death by his wife of 26 years, Diane. He is survived by daughters Kristine Smithers of Three Rivers and Kelly Pedler of Galesburg; grandchildren Kaleb, Kadin, Emileigh, Ethan, Adleigh and Kensley; brother Kim J. Pedler of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; niece Chelsea Pedler; nephew Jordan Pedler; and mother Karen Lemon of Elkhart. Condolences can be sent to Avink Funeral Home. Donations may go to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. Visit his page at

Bonnie Lynne (Wedel) Russell, of Kalamazoo, passed away Oct. 18, with family at her side. Bonnie was born to George and Joyce (Christensen) Wedel May 29, 1969, in Kalamazoo. When she was a year old, the family moved to Scotts, where she grew up enjoying animals and the outdoors. Bonnie loved music, eventually sharing her talents with the praise band at Country Christian Evangelical Free Church. Bonnie was also a talented designer, managing the flower shop at Wedel’s Garden Center. Bonnie was a loyal member of the Republican Party for 20 years and attended the 2016 National Republican Convention. She and Rich were engaged at Little Sable Lighthouse near Silver Lake Oct. 26, 2018, and traveled extensively. She enjoyed being mom to Rich’s kids Bryan, Matt and Nicole and grandma to their children. Bonnie leaves behind her beloved husband, Rich Russell; his parents Bill and Ruth Russell and Bill and Kathy Runkle; siblings Terrie (Dana) Schwartz and Andrew (Danielle) Wedel; her special niece Andrea (Gary) Truax; nephews Nathan (Lindsey) Schwartz, Nicholas Schwartz, Zachariah Wedel, Caleb Wedel and Eli Wedel; and grand nieces and nephews Dylan, Jackson, Alaina and Callen Truax and Stella Schwartz. Services will be held at a later date. Visit Bonnie’s page at Donations may go to Kalamazoo Gospel Mission and Country Christian Evangelical Free Church.

Alan Paul Stanton, 66, of Constantine Township, passed away Oct. 14, 2020. Alan was born July 21, 1954, in Battle Creek to Gerald and Ruth (Wing) Stanton. He grew up in Fulton on the family farm, attending and graduating from Athens Area Schools. On April 24, 1993, he married the former Theresa Stark. They relocated to Constantine Township in 1994 and have resided there since. Alan was employed as a forklift operator by White Pigeon Paper Mill. He was a hard worker, a storyteller and an outdoorsman. He attended Factoryville Bible Church and Bethany Chapel. Alan is survived by his wife of 27 years, Theresa; children Sandy McCausland and Bill (Teri) Bambrick, both of Constantine; grandchildren Joe McCausland, Brittany Bambrick and Katelyn McCausland; great-grandchildren Grady, Piper and Stefan Criddle and Rose Carr; siblings Bethel (Joe) Halladay of Belgrade, Montana, Leta Gould Stanton of Yoakum, Texas, Carlena Hacker of Mendon, Joel (Marlene) Stanton of Liberal, Kansas, and Lois Stanton of LaGrange; many nieces and nephews, numerous friends and his best furry buddy “Mike.” He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Ardis Hall. Services have been held. Memorial contributions are suggested to the family to establish the Gerald and Ruth Stanton Memorial Scholarship to be awarded to an academically average college-bound student who shows financial need. Please visit to share memories, pictures and videos with the family.

Pamela J. VanWeelden, 63, of Portage, passed away Sept. 28 from heart complications at Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids. Pam was born Feb. 1, 1957 in Kalamazoo, the middle child of Fred and Ester Drenth. She spent 43 wonderful years married to her husband, Dennis VanWeelden. The couple was later blessed with their son, Jeremy VanWeelden. Family and friends were especially important to her, and she always made time to help care for them when needed. Pam is survived by her loving husband, Dennis; son Jeremy; brothers Douglas and Randy Drenth; sisters Terri Veildman and Jennie Drenth; and sisters-in-law Cindy Boven and Linda Moed. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Celebration of Life service will be postponed until spring 2021. The celebration will take place at her home on Austin Lake. For those who wish to attend the celebration, please send a note to Dennis VanWeelden at 2363 Woody Noll Drive, Portage, Michigan 49002 for date and time confirmation. Visit her page at

On the Corner

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Weren’t the colors this fall beautiful? It was perhaps the most beautiful and long-lasting display in my memory. The maple outside my classroom window glowed every morning. Each day my students and I paused to appreciate another day of its loveliness. Today, I am watching it gradually release its grip on the rosy leaves; they ride the wind, finally resting in the grass. In another day, the branches will be bare.

Yes, November brings some cold, gray days, but it also ushers in the holidays. Soon we will be thawing turkeys, setting the table and enjoying some hearty foods. And in this season of gratitude, we remember and appreciate the people, organizations, and agencies who provide support in our communities, and the donations and support which make business operations possible.

Boy Scout Troop resets headstones

On Saturday, Oct. 17, Boy Scout Troop 211 and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Kalamazoo’s Benjamin Pritchard Camp 20 cleaned and reset veterans’ headstones in the Vicksburg Cemetery. The Boy Scout Troop is affiliated with St. Monica Catholic Church, and the service activity is John Burhan’s Eagle Scout project. The group cleaned and preserved 54 headstones and reset another 10 stones that were sunken or had tipped or fallen. The Sons of Union Veterans sponsored the activity and provided the training and materials.

Ladies Library of Schoolcraft Adjusts Holiday Activity

In lieu of their regular holiday bazaar, Ladies Library of Schoolcraft is collecting for the food pantry, as well as hosting a Tree of Lights for South County Community Services. With so many in need, the group felt its focus should be on giving rather than receiving this holiday season.

Village of Schoolcraft Christmas Walk

The 32nd annual Christmas Walk will be held throughout the Village of Schoolcraft Friday, December 4th, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday December 5th 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Masks will be required in public areas, and businesses will be following social distancing protocols. Santa will be available for photos, and other events will be announced. Please follow the Facebook event for updates and announcements.

An unusual reader

Thanks, Rhonda Smith-Crowder, for sharing the picture of the window display at the Schoolcraft Antique Mall on Grand in Schoolcraft: Mr. Skeleton and his dog Bones reading October’s South County News. Smith-Crowder has one of several dealer booths at this business. I imagine the spooky vignette turned many motorists’ heads! It sure gave all of us at the SCN a good laugh!

Continued Gratitude

We at the South County News are thankful for so many things: the love of friends and families, the warmth of our little hometowns and the continued support of our readers. Your financial contribution makes this publication possible. Thank you.