Category Archives: Vicksburg

Swimming is All in a Day’s Workout

shelly schafer swimmer crop
Shelly Schafer, 52 was the top female finisher at the 92nd annual Goguac Lake Swim in July. She resides at Indian Lake. Photo courtesy of Jason McMillan/for the Battle Creek Enquirer.

By Sue Moore

Ullrey Drive on Indian Lake is the home of a championship swimmer that few know about, according to Jon Kachniewiecz, Vicksburg High School’s long-time track and field coach. Shelly Schafer, his next-door neighbor, can be seen each day in the summer, no matter the kind of weather, setting out on her two- to three-mile swim through the waters of Indian Lake from the dock right next to his house.

She is usually accompanied by her husband, Jim in a kayak to insure her safety as she swims toward the cove at the south end of the lake. If boaters see Jim first, the fishermen or skiers will give both a little more space. She avoids the ski jump on the east side and doubles back to the west after the workout. “If I don’t get my swim in each day, I can get a little crabby,” she jokes as she explains how getting in the water makes her feel better and keeps her 50-something body in good shape.

Schafer happens to be an NCAA swim champ as a competitor at Hope College in distance swimming and even in high school at Battle Creek Lakeview High School. At 18, she beat the boys in the Goguac YMCA open water swim meet. This summer, she again won the race over 162 other competitors with a time of 26 minutes, 4 seconds for the 1.15 miles. “I was the first girl out of the water this year,” as she has been six other times in her race at Goguac Lake. She holds lots of records and many trophies but has them stashed away somewhere in her home on Indian Lake.

In real life she is a nurse practitioner in Bronson Hospital’s Neo-Natal unit full time. She also drives to the University of Michigan Hospital part time to work in their Neo-Natal unit each week. She manages about 50 babies on each shift along with a partner. They oversee all the care plans for babies in the unit. It is stressful but she feels being a part of saving these babies lives also makes her feel a little bit better. It’s a huge responsibility and she’s been doing it for 30 years now with no end in sight.

The move to the Indian Lake residence took place over five years ago when she and Jim were looking for a large lake where she could swim each day. They brought their two girls up in Portage where Jim is the swim coach for Portage Central and the head of the physical education department. She has been swimming since she was eight years old, competing with her older brothers who were swimmers. “I’m not so good at sprints as my muscles are more tuned to distances,” she admits. She swims all winter long inside at Bronson’s Athletic Club in between her hectic hospital schedule.

Schafer is adept at the repetitive nature of distance swimming. “It’s pace work. Each 100 yards is the same as before.“ She competes all over the state in the summer and even in a big race in Chicago in late August. The water temperature has to be around 71 degrees to be outside from Memorial Day to Labor Day. “The people on Indian Lake were not sure what to make of me when I first moved here. Now they are friendly and give me wide berth out on the water,” she says.

“I love the peace and quiet of the lake any time of the year. Even the nearby trains don’t bother me. We have great neighbors, respectful of each other with little get-togethers. They know when to be private and when to be social,” she says. “We like the small town feel of Vicksburg and the little things that we have been exposed to, such as Stubby’s and even the flooding on this part of the lake this summer. We had lots of turtles and fish in our yard but it’s all part of living on a lake.”

Veterinarian Book Written by Vicksburg’s Dr. Ron Smith

ron smithBy Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Dr. Ron Smith will see the fourth edition of his book, “Veterinary Clinical Epidemiology, From Patient to Population,” published on November 5. It’s expected to sell several thousand copies and be a big success in the veterinary medicine field, according to his publisher in London.

CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group describes it as the most beautiful book it has ever published. That may be directly related to the cover art that Smith obtained depicting a collage of more than 60 domestic and wild animal species. The content describes how epidemiologic methods apply to questions directly relevant to the practice of medicine at the individual or herd or flock level.

Smith explains that the term epidemiology derives from three Greek words, defined more broadly as the study of disease in its natural habitat, away from the controlled environment of the laboratory. Epidemiologists ask questions such as how common a disease is, what are the risk factors, how accurate are diagnostic tests, what is the prognosis with and without treatment, and how can a disease be prevented in the first place. Outbreak investigations are much like a detective novel where the epidemiologist plays the role of a medical detective. Epidemiologic studies rely heavily on statistical methodology.

Smith’s professional career began as a veterinary medical student at Michigan State University (MSU) in the mid 1960s. He was especially interested in exotic animals, so he joined the Peace Corps soon after graduation and was sent to Ecuador, hoping to work with animals in the wild and gain credentials for an eventual job as a zoo veterinarian. Instead, he wound up working with livestock on local farms and chose to specialize in preventive medicine. After serving three years there he came back to the U.S., looking to study infectious blood diseases of animals. After receiving MS and PhD degrees, he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana/Champaign. His research focused on a number of tick- and mosquito-borne blood diseases of domestic animals such as heartworm, Lyme disease, Texas cattle fever, and canine ehrlichiosis.

While lecturing in the classroom, Smith kept updating his class notes and as the years went by, his class notes became progressively more comprehensive. The representative of a publishing house suggested that he turn his lecture notes into a book. “I believed him but found it was a long way from being a good idea to a real book,” Smith said. That was in 1991 when the first edition of Veterinary Clinical Epidemiology appeared.

His fourth edition will be available as hard copy, paperback, and in Amazon Kindle format. Smith will be attending a meeting in Chicago November 2-5 where he will promote the book at the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases, of which he is a member. Approximately 500 research scientists from around the world will be attending.

Smith’s wife, Lupe, and their daughter, Veronica, have opened a store front called the Village Works at 102 S Main Street in Vicksburg. His wife is from Ecuador and is a practicing artist, specializing in pottery and paintings that are sold in the shop and online. Their daughter makes and sells jewelry and graphic artwork. Both offer classes as well. Smith, a Vicksburg native, retired from the University of Illinois in 2005 after 32 years, serving as department head the last 3 years. He served six years on the village council and also gave four years of his time as treasurer of the Vicksburg Historical Society.

Book Deal for Hadley Moore’s Prize-Winning Writing

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Hadley Moore holds up her new book, Not Dead Yet.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Hadley Moore rises at 3 a.m. each weekday to write for four hours. “It’s a bit of a compulsion. I’m happier if I’m writing than if I’m not,” she said. She then leaves for her day job, which she said helps to “keep the lights on.” For another eight hours, she is editing other people’s work.

For 10 years, off and on while working on other projects, she wrote a book called “Not Dead Yet and Other Stories,” which won Autumn House Press’s 2018 Fiction Prize. Out now, and available wherever books are sold, “Not Dead Yet” is a collection of nine short stories, all previously published in literary journals, about the vagaries of personal loss – undergone and anticipated. With humor and honesty about the more ignoble aspects of coping, it ranges in form and point of view to explore our existential reality.

The judge for the writing contest, Dana Johnson, praised Moore’s writing in her assessment: “What an astounding collection. The emotional depth and beauty of these stories is a wonder and puts this writer in a category all of her own. In “Not Dead Yet,” Moore takes readers on an emotional journey, insisting on illuminating our profound human connections and the mysteries of life. Her characters stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page and are penetrating reminders that life is full of endless chances, missed opportunities, and grace. Moore’s insight and compassion are the triumphs of this collection, signaling the arrival of a brilliant writer.”

“It’s hard to pick a favorite out of this group of short stories. Each could stand proudly on their own, ripe for conversation. I have no problem calling “Not Dead Yet” a must-read, as I finished it wanting to hug everyone I’ve ever met. And I think that’s a pretty good thing,” wrote Jaylynn Korrell for Independent Book Review.

Moore began her writing journey when she enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College near Asheville, North Carolina. She was 29 and had graduated years earlier from Kalamazoo College with a degree in psychology. The Warren Wilson MFA is a low-residency program in which students travel to the campus twice a year for 10 days and then work closely with a master writer and teacher during the intervening semester, in an apprenticeship-like setup.

Moore’s husband, Dusty Morris, is the middle and high school choir teacher at Vicksburg Community Schools and the first reader of her writing. “He gives me honest feedback. We met at Kalamazoo College when we both sang in the choir. My mom was an English teacher in Grand Rapids and Manistee, where I grew up. I don’t have hobbies but I read a lot, mostly literary fiction.”

Moore recently visited the Vicksburg Middle School Writers’ Club to read from her work and answer questions from Chris Laaksonen’s students. “The kids were in awe of the time she had invested in compiling the story collection – nearly 10 years,” Laaksonen said. “They were also intrigued by the whole publishing process, especially how she picked a cover from the mock-ups the publishing company had sent. Of course, the kids were especially tickled that Mr. Morris had been a big help in picking the cover that did end up on the published book. In addition to questions about her writing, the kids loved asking Hadley about her cats. And, of course, telling their own cat stories.”

“Before the meeting ended, students jumped at the chance to read their writing to a ‘real’ writer,” Laaksonen said. “She gave encouraging feedback and listened with genuine interest. Hadley was approachable and inspired students during our time together. She also shared her process as a writer and offered feedback to our middle school writers as they read their own creative writing.”

“Through Dusty’s Facebook posts, I learned that Hadley’s collection of short stories was being published. It was just released at the end of August, and Hadley has made a couple book tour appearances, including a talk at This Is A Bookstore [in Kalamazoo]. I texted Dusty and asked him if he thought Hadley would be willing to stop by after school to visit our Writing Club,” Laaksonen explained.

“The book is for an adult audience, but she was easily able to find an excerpt to read aloud to the students that held their interest. The small group of about 10 budding writers then asked her questions about the writing process. They were amazed to learn that the collection of stories had taken almost 10 years to complete and compile. They asked her about her most productive time to write, about how she chose the cover for her book, and what inspired her stories,” according to Laaksonen.

Moore is at work on a novel and another collection of stories. Visit her website: for more information on her writing and events.

Dr. Evan Fitzgerald Joins Bronson Family Medicine

Dr. Fitz 2By Sue Moore

Two new doctors at one time for Bronson Family Medicine-Vicksburg will be a big help to the community in serving its medical care needs, said Linda Hutchinson, director of practice operations from Bronson Medical Group. Dr. Evan Fitzgerald and Dr. Matt Miller are the most recent recruits to the family practice.

Dr. Karl Kerchief plans to retire at the end of December after 30 years of serving patients, leaving Dr. David Schriemer as the senior physician on staff.

This family practice has a rich history in Vicksburg, having been formed 108 years ago by Dr. Z.L. Gilding. He was succeeded by his son, Dr. Joe Gilding then Drs. Paul Chapman, Rodney Rodgers and Lloyd Appell. These doctors were dedicated to community service during their many years in the practice.. Besides joining service clubs and participating in many events, nearly every family practice doctor became a member of the School Board, guiding the growth and development of education in Vicksburg as a primary objective. Bronson Healthcare purchased the practice in 2018 and has been a big help in recruiting new physicians to Vicksburg.

Fitzgerald said he was looking for a position in southwestern Michigan after finishing his residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Va. “I interviewed with Bronson and really liked the opportunity. It fit with what I wanted in a small-town practice, having grown up in Dexter, Mich. until going away to college at Miami University of Ohio.”

Majoring in engineering and applied physics, his first job out of college was with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington D.C. He stayed there for seven years helping people run experiments, while wanting something different in his life. Thus, the pull to go to medical school at Ohio State University because he was looking for something more out of his career. He does acknowledge the need to show loyalty to the University of Michigan while in Ohio because his hometown of Dexter was so close to Ann Arbor.

Upon graduation he did his internship in Virginia and residency at a large family practice in Fairfax, all the while knowing he would like to work in a smaller setting where he could feel like he was making a difference. “I wanted a family practice where I could become a part of the community, take care of everybody with lots of different things [illnesses] to see in a more rural setting,” he said. “The challenge is to stay up to date in medicine and do as much as we can before moving patients on to specialists if it does become necessary.”

He and Dr. Miller are both accepting new patients while dividing up the patient load from the soon to be retired Dr. Kerchief. A letter has been sent to his patients to give them an opportunity to decide which new doctor they want to be taking over their health care needs.

New Doctor at Bronson Comes Back to Hometown

Dr. Miller
Dr. Matt Miller in the reception area of Bronson Family Medicine – Vicksburg.

By Sue Moore

“Everyone should have the same access to quality health care,” says Dr. Matt Miller, the new recruit at Bronson Family Medicine – Vicksburg.

“I love to care for families from joy to sorrow. It’s great to be a partner, to build rapport. It’s not always about medicine. I like to listen so my patients feel validated,” Miller emphasizes. “I always want to be advocating for a better quality of life for whatever the patient needs.”

“I see myself as the quarterback for the patient, looking at the big picture, making sure the medications work together well. If there is a problem within the system, I’ll fight for my patient. It’s important to also learn to work within the bureaucracy.”

Dr. Miller has been in practice in VanWert, Ohio in recent years. The decision to move to Vicksburg’s primary care practice was easier for him because he is a native of this area and a Vicksburg High School graduate.

His mother and dad are still living in Scotts on the family homestead. Howard and Gayle Miller have four children, with Matt being the youngest. He says he has wanted to be a doctor since he was in sixth grade. It just might be that he was a bit influenced by his mother who worked for 20 or more years as an LPN at what was then Bronson Vicksburg Hospital. He has a sister, Laura, who is a retired nurse, another sister, Karen, who doesn’t like the sight of blood, and a brother, Tim, who excelled in football while in Vicksburg High School and at Olivet College. He now teaches industrial arts in Williamston.

Miller said his oldest son, Daniel, 16, told him, “Dad, it’s not something I want to do [move], but if it’s for the family, I’ll do it,” when he was factoring in all the aspects of leaving his friends behind in Ohio. Daniel’s oldest sister, Erin, is out of the nest and Luke (14) and Emma (13) have all started school this fall at Heritage Christian. Their mom, Martha, was teaching school at a private Christian school right after college and is now teaching Bible school in their new church in Portage. Her mother, Gertie or Gertrude, 91, moved with the family to come to this area – as long as she could stay close to the grandchildren she is happy. She is originally from Detroit and has made friends at church and is deeply involved in a Bible study group.

Coach Ed Knapp at VHS had an abiding influence on Miller, he says. He played football for him and was on the wrestling team. “He inspired me to always be better and not let down; just follow your dreams. Mine were to go to med school, so I found a good pre-med offering at Indiana Wesleyan University, then Wayne State for medical training and St. Francis Hospital in Indiana for my residency in family practice.” He also had a fellowship in Ob/Gyn practice at the University of Tennessee. He started at Forest City, a small town in Arkansas, where he delivered babies as a mainstay of his practice.

“My parents did a lot for me growing up. Now its my turn to help them out,” Miller explains. “Besides, Dr. Schriemer has been a mentor to me. I owe him a lot too and I’ll be closer to my family.”

Dr. Miller won’t be the only new doctor in the Vicksburg practice. Dr. Evan Fitzgerald also started in October. Both are accepting new patients and picking up those of Dr. Karl Kerchief, who is retiring in December.

Frank Woodhams Celebrates 100 Years

frank woodhamsBy Sue Moore

Frank Woodhams turned 100 on November 2 with family coming to Vicksburg from the far reaches of the country for a luncheon in his honor. His son, Terry Woodhams, of Blackhawk, Calif. says his father has proven many things throughout his life. He is “the best example of that proven adage that age is only a number. He has good looks, health, wealth and a stellar reputation.”

He was raised on the family farm of 180 acres at the south end of Austin Lake by parents Alfred and Ada Woodhams. His brothers were Russ and Max and a sister, Martha. His uncle was Irv Woodhams, who taught Frank how to fly when he was 21. Soon after, he joined the Army Air Corps and flew military gliders and C-47’s. He accomplished 58 combat missions in World War II and returned home as a 1st lieutenant. Over the past 40 years, Frank has been a private pilot and has flown his Piper Cherokee to countless locations. He continued to fly at 99 years old and soon after decided to sell his plane.

Frank married Geraleen Shirah on June 17, 1944 and they were married for 60 years according to son Terry. His brothers are Larry who lives in South Pasadena, Florida and William Woodhams of Whitehall, Mich. Unfortunately, Geraleen passed away in 2004.

Frank started Prairie Feed & Grain in 1962 and sold it in 1980.  The company was located on W Avenue between Schoolcraft and Vicksburg.  Frank lives in the home he and Geraleen purchased after he returned from WWII.

There are two granddaughters, a grandson and six great grandchildren.

Veterans Day Observance in Vicksburg

The bugler from VFW Post 5189 played Taps at the 2018 Veteran’s Day observance.

Captain Jon Pridgeon will be the guest speaker for the Veterans Day Program on November 11 at 11 a.m. The program will be held at Oswalt Park in Vicksburg, sponsored by the Village of Vicksburg and VFW Post 5189. Previously Capt. Pridgeon flew Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers in the 74th Air Refueling Squadron at Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. He has flown sorties supporting Operation Enduring Freedom; Operation Iraqi Freedom; and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Currently Capt. Pridgeon is assigned to the 110th Air Wing in Battle Creek. His civilian status is flying Boeing 737 passenger planes with Delta Airlines. He resides in Schoolcraft with his wife and son. His wife Kenzi was the guest speaker on Memorial Day in 2016 for the VFW. She is the daughter of Jan and Denny McNally of Schoolcraft.

Each year the 4th graders at Sunset Lake Elementary walk to Oswalt Park and when the Star Spangled Banner is played they sign it instead of sing the national anthem as they have learned how to do this in class.

Boy Scouts of Troop 251 present the colors of each armed forces unit to the strains of each unit’s fight song. The morning observance ends with Taps, played by a student from the high school band. Then the members of VFW Post 5189 fire three volleys in honor of the fallen soldiers.