Category Archives: Vicksburg

Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center Reaches a Milestone

vcac officers
Members of the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center work on new budgets for 2019. Previously, they were working under the aegis of the Downtown Development Authority. They are seated, from left: Syd Bastos and Rex Cummings. Standing, from left: Lisa Beams and Jake Munson.

By Sue Moore

The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center (VCAC) has been delivering artistic and cultural experiences for the greater Vicksburg residents and its visitors for over three years as a project of the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The Center just received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation from the IRS in December and is now an independent entity able to receive tax-deductible donations.

“This nonprofit designation will make a big difference in the future operations of the Arts Center,” said Syd Bastos, its acting board president and executive director. “There are more grants that we can apply for with the nonprofit designation that will allow us to try new concepts and reach out to the greater South Kalamazoo County community.”

The Arts Center was organized in 2015 under the direction of Kathleen Hoyle, then the director of the DDA. The fledgling group went through several changes in staffing and purpose until Bastos and Lisa Beams came along as part-time staff three years ago.

They developed a wide variety of arts and culture programs and events including the Coffeehouse Concerts, Art Exhibits, the summer Arts Stroll and the Destination Dinner Series, a celebration of arts, culture food and music from Ireland, Ukraine, Scandinavia and Italy. Beams was charged with recruiting artists to display and sell their art works at the gallery space, first at 200 S Main Street and then at 101 E Prairie.

When the construction of their space at 101 E Prairie began, the VCAC relocated its office to the lower level of the Community Center. Artworks were returned to artists for safekeeping. Despite the absence of a storefront, “the community made it clear to us that this experiment in support of the arts world had staying power,” Bastos explained.

“2019 will be a transitional time for the organization,” Bastos reported. “We were focused on events and we still will be, but we want to provide more educational opportunities with the arts. First, we will be adding a summer arts camp for teens. This camp will be developed with input from high school students and ultimately run by ‘graduates’ of the teen camp, giving them a taste for event and curriculum planning and arts administration.

“Second, visitors of the VCAC told us they want more experiential learning, so we will be adding more classes and workshops this year. Finally, an exciting interactive gallery exhibit is under development now that will provide hands-on, guided learning experiences for visitors.”

The next three months will be critical as the board takes full control of the operation of the Arts Center. The board will be adding new members and setting its short and mid-range strategy, Bastos explained. Board members include Treasurer Rex Cummings, Secretary Amy Snow, Jodi Noble, Jake Munson, and Bastos as president.

Canadian National Train Car Derails in Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

“Sparks began to fly as we were waiting for the train to pass on the tracks at West Prairie Street,” said Bill Adams. He and his wife had been waiting at the grade crossing on Sunday evening, Dec. 23. “The train was slowing down and a boxcar was leaning right over. It appeared to be close to the end of the train. We later found out it was filled with plywood and nothing hazardous.”

“The bearings on one boxcar seized up and separated from the hub on the 89-car train,” said Vicksburg Department of Public Works Director Randy Schippers. “The train couldn’t move. The crew had to walk along each car with a flashlight to see what happened. They handled it real well. The Canadian National railroad police were here on Monday to inspect the tracks. They said it was the 10th derailment in the last week on the tracks going from here to Chicago.”

Fire Chief Tracy McMillan was called into action by the sheriff’s department. He immediately moved to place equipment at locations in Schoolcraft and Vicksburg. It was clear that fire trucks would have to go way around to answer any kind of call since five crossings were closed on Portage Road, W Ave., Boulevard, W. Prairie and N. Main Street. The train had successfully passed V Avenue and Richardson Street before the sparks began to fly, he noted.

“I was on edge,” said McMillan. “A delay like that is not good. We have a plan to get by the crossings on alternate routes if a call comes in, but it didn’t. If it had been a spill we have to be concerned with HazMat and the environmental possibilities if it is a leaky tank car. We have a refresher drill once a year on how to assist on a derailment. If a boxcar is burning, we have to determine the type of chemical involved. The smoke can be no good and our water sources can be affected with contamination.”

Teams from Canadian National were on the scene all night, McMillan said. They were able to uncouple the front part of the train and send it on its way to Chicago. They brought in another locomotive from Battle Creek to remove the latter part of the train to a freight yard near Scotts. Special equipment was needed to get the boxcar upright and moved. “All the crossings were cleared by 8 a.m. on Monday morning,” McMillan said.
The media representative for Canadian National said he was unable to comment when contacted. He said, “the incident is still under investigation” and would not have anything further to add.

Christmas in the Village Brings Big Crowds to Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

Hundreds of children and their parents line up to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Vicksburg’s annual Christmas in the Village celebration each year, usually in the cold outside the Community Center. Plans have changed dramatically for 2018. Santa will greet the youngsters inside the empty Hill’s Pharmacy building at 110 S. Main from 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

Visits with Santa will follow the 6 p.m. parade through downtown streets with the Big Red Machine, Vicksburg High School’s marching band, leading off. Floats lit with Christmas lights will be the featured attraction along with fire trucks from all over the area in their Christmas finery.

Activities begin with the bake sale fundraiser at the Historical Society’s Depot Museum from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Vendors from the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market will set up in the Hill’s Pharmacy building until 5 p.m. Featured dance acts from the Vicksburg Schools Community Education department will perform on the stage in Oswalt Park during the afternoon. Magician Brian Penney, who held kids captivated last year, begins the fun at 2 p.m. on the stage. A special reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will be given by Terri Girardi. Caroling and other entertainment will be featured in the tent furnished by the village of Vicksburg to keep people somewhat warm. Festive window decorations by local businesses will add to the atmosphere throughout downtown.

Lots of children’s activities are scheduled during the afternoon at the Community Center where the Vicksburg District Library, the Southwest Michigan Button Club, Revelry Theatre and Project Graduation will be sponsoring kids’ events and food for sale. If that isn’t enough excitement for the little ones, the event organizing committee headed by Mary Ruple and John DeBault of the Downtown Development Authority have secured a live reindeer exhibit at the Vicksburg Historic Village from 4-7 p.m.

While petting the reindeer, folks who love model trains can take a nostalgia trip next door to see the O gauge train display in the Historic Village. To get there, a wagon ride from downtown is available to transport entire families to the site and bring them back again. Crafts and other activities will take place within the business locations downtown. There will be bake sale items available for sale at 101 E. Prairie in the afternoon.

To cap off the evening after the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony in Oswalt Park along with the Vicksburg High School choir members leading a community caroling session.

“Visitors to the event will be able to warm their tummies with specialty foods created for the occasion at the downtown restaurants,” according to DeBault. The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a Pub Crawl to wrap up the evening for adults.

Ruple credits the sponsors of the event for making it noteworthy. ”Without their financial help we just couldn’t offer all these festivities,” she said. They include Frederick Construction, The Mill at Vicksburg, Imerys, Main St. Pub, the Village of Vicksburg, the Area Chamber of Commerce, Grossman Law, Hungry Howies and Fred’s Community Pharmacy. All have chipped in at various funding levels.

Christmas in the Village Activities

Pictured below are several Christmas in the Village activity photos with descriptions.

Home Brewing Store Opens in Vicksburg

ribbon cutting
Andy Clouse and Dane Bosel do the honors in a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of their new store on Main Street. The event was sponsored by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The president Mandy Miller is in the orange jacket. Beside her is Brain Pitts a trustee of the Chamber and Lindsey Bosel with their three boys from left to right: Brody Bosel, Maycee Miller with the pink sleeves, Harry and Charlie Bosel.

By Sue Moore

The South County Homebrew Supply store has almost 450 items in stock and is adding to the inventory all the time. It aims to be a one-stop shop for home brewers to get whatever they need, said Dane Bosel, co-owner of the store along with Andy Clouse. They are also the owners of the next-door Distant Whistle Brewhouse.

“We love beer and we love talking about beer. We can spend hours just talking about the craft, and this store is a great way to pass on the things we have learned,” Bosel said. “Having started out as home brewers, we felt like we needed to encourage and grow the ability for others to brew at home and make good beer.”

It appears that they do make good beer; the Distant Whistle has a loyal following, having just celebrated its second anniversary this summer. Nov. 24 saw the grand opening of the homebrew store at 116 S Main Street with a ribbon cutting sponsored by the South County Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are catering to homebrewers and home winemakers,” Bosel said. “The store contains supplies, ingredients, and books to help home brewers create their best crafts and creations. “The store stocks 60 varieties of hops, 20 strains of Omega liquid yeast and several dry yeast strains, over 50 different grains, as well as several different varieties of dry and liquid malt extracts and kits.”

The only other store in this area with home brewing stock is at Bell’s in Kalamazoo, Bosel noted.

Being a well-stocked supply store, South County Homebrew Supply is suited to offer competitive products at competitive prices comparable to other local home brew shops, Bosel said. South County Homebrew Supply plans to encourage networking and socialization between brewing enthusiasts by offering brewing competitions. The store can be reached on Facebook at or by phone: 269-475-5447.

Grossman Law to Become Grossman, Horne & Cannizzaro

Brett Grossman, Annelore Cannizzaro and Andrew Horne in their office that displays an aerial photo of the village of Vicksburg on the wall.

By Sue Moore

“Families will continue to be well-served by our growing law practice,” said Brett Grossman in announcing his new partners, Andrew Horne and Annelore Cannizzaro. “Our practice areas complement each other as we look out for our clients’ best interests.”

“The practice of law has changed since I graduated from Wayne State University law school,” Grossman said. “People want quick responses from their attorneys. It’s more of a nuts and bolts situation now with less formality. We have found that members of this community are loyal clients as they’ve gotten to know us both personally and professionally.”

The three attorneys were from other cities before they settled into Vicksburg. They joined service clubs, took responsibility for helping others less fortunate and placed their children in the local school system. “We kind of married into Vicksburg,” said Grossman. He met his wife, Katie, at Wayne State when she was in medical school and decided to settle in her home town. Similarly, Horne’s wife, Tiffany, is from Three Rivers. She wanted to return from Florida where they were both teachers. Cannizzaro went to Michigan State University for undergraduate study and then veterinary school before settling down with husband Charlie in Vicksburg.

All three of the partners have ties to MSU although Horne doesn’t wear it on his sleeve quite like the other two. He graduated from Michigan State’s law school but did his undergrad work at Saginaw Valley State University. Grossman is a Lansing area native with a bachelor’s degree from MSU. What each acknowledges is their love of this small-town community and not having to practice in a large law firm in a big city.

“Our practice is growing,” Grossman said. After large firm life, he hung out his shingle on N. Main Street in downtown Vicksburg in 2008, then moved to a remodeled building at 610 Spruce Street for much larger quarters, anticipating the eventual need to take on partners.

The support from the two other attorneys she is joining was a big factor in Cannizzaro’s decision to leave her solo practice in Kalamazoo. “I can bounce around ideas with someone close by,” she said. “I actually started my professional career as a veterinarian, first at Denney Veterinary Service in Vicksburg, then at the Sprinkle Road Veterinary Clinic in Kalamazoo, and then I decided to do something different.

“I like variety so I went back to school at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, which is now part of Western Michigan University.” Her practice centers on probate law, with a focus on estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, and assisting clients with mental illness or developmental disabilities. “I look out for people’s best interests,” she said.

Horne loves researching a project and has jumped headlong into municipal government issues and real estate law. He works closely with the village of Vicksburg’s planning commission on ordinance writing and researching. A big challenge recently was the work he did for the village on The Mill Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Grossman’s work now concentrates in real estate and agricultural law in conjunction with estate and trust planning and administration for area residents.

“We’re looking forward to continued growth in Vicksburg,” they all say in one way or another, about working together.

Concert Pianist Originally from Vicksburg to Play at Carnegie Hall

john carpenter
Pianist John C. Carpenter.

Vicksburg native John C. Carpenter, a virtuoso pianist living in the Cincinnati suburb of Colerain, has won first prize in the Artist/Pro Division of the BMTG Intercontinental Piano Competition 2018. He will perform in a winners’ concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Auditorium in New York.

He will perform on his 65th birthday.

Carpenter grew up on Barton Lake and graduated from Vicksburg High. He was deeply involved in the music program while growing up and also wrote for the Vicksburg Commercial.

The winners were selected in two video rounds from among 140 competitors living in 15 countries and six continents. Carpenter recorded his videos at Mother of God Church in Covington, KY where he is an organist.

Music in the first round was from the standard piano repertoire. The second round included pieces by living composers. Carpenter teaches privately in his home studio, the True Virtuoso Piano Studio, and also at Arts Connect, and an arts center in Springfield along with his wife, Suzanne. He has a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music.

In the past three years he has played with the Dayton Philharmonic, in concerts in Los Angeles and on WAIF Radio, where he discusses empowerment and community development.

Carpenter returned to competitive playing after a long hiatus in which he worked in retail.