Spring is just around the corner

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

February draws to a close, and while we do enjoy the variety of our state’s seasons, we sure are ready for the warmth and sunshine of a Michigan spring! This morning, the sun is shining, the robins are at our feeders and the sandhill cranes are calling. Warm weather is nearly here!

Many thanks to our area’s snow removal crews. Winter’s snows were slow to arrive this year, but when the snows hit, it seems like our neighborhoods and villages were plowed in record time.

During January and February, local children enjoyed sledding down the hill near the Vicksburg Cemetery on W Avenue. Many children enjoyed sledding for years on a similar hill that used to stand between Vicksburg High School and Middle School which was leveled as Vicksburg Community Schools developed and expanded their sports complex. We spent a few hours at the new hill with our grandchildren in mid-February, and I am thankful that Caleb and Chloe could enjoy this free, timeless fun.

Schoolcraft and Vicksburg winter sports team pictures appear in this month’s issue. COVID restrictions and illnesses have offered many challenges for our schools and athletic programs. The South County News Team appreciates both districts’ athletic departments and Lisa Harbor for providing photographs to feature in the paper, a tradition our athletes and their families have appreciated for years.

Congratulations Taylor Dent of Vicksburg. Taylor is on the Deans’ List at Saginaw State University.

Area school staff members are receiving their second dose of the Coronavirus vaccine. This is encouraging and cause for celebration, as evidenced by science teacher Kim Armitage’s attire on February 25, the day of the second dose for Vicksburg Community School’s staff. Kim is known for her enthusiasm, creativity, and fun-loving nature. Students and staff enjoyed her “Vaccination Queen” outfit.

Thank you for your continued support of the South County News. If you have an idea for a story, please let us know. Wonderful people and opportunities exist in our area, and with your help, we can share events that otherwise might go unreported.

Thanks also for your financial support. If you are able, please consider contributing. Your donations make this publication possible.

Finding the joys of winter in our community

Cindy Paro, the “Tin Man Lady.”

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

With the snow this last week, it finally feels like winter. The ice shanties now stand on Sunset Lake, and area snow removal business owners are feeling some financial relief. A few snowmen stand around the villages, and our schoolchildren are hoping for a long-awaited snow day.

On my way to work during those early January mornings, the beautiful display at the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency at 101 E. Prairie Street was a light in the cold darkness. Thank you for that lovely winter window; it filled me with such peace each morning.

In our little corner of the neighborhood, we have resurrected a meal exchange we participated in twenty years ago. It involves three households, each providing a dinner to the other families once a week. It is delightful! My family receives a meal on Monday and Friday; we prepare and deliver meals on Wednesday. It brings me such happiness to see my sweet neighbors—yes, masked and socially distanced—during this challenging time. If you enjoy cooking and sharing food, I encourage you to try creating something similar with your own neighbors. The chocolate cherry cake recipe on page 13 is an exchange group favorite.

Many thanks to Cindy Paro, “the Tin Man Lady.” She made me one of her custom creations which I picked up several weeks ago. I toured her little workshop where many of these little fellows are waiting for completion or pickup. I enjoyed our visit and appreciate her thoughtfulness.

Thank you for your continued support of the South County News. We read your comments and discuss your suggestions during our monthly meetings. We also thank you for your continued financial support; it makes this publication possible.

We are always looking for “good news,” so be sure to send your ideas to kforsythesouthcountynews@gmail.com

Welcome to winter in South County

Makayla Cardosa lends her voice to a holiday video.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Winter has arrived in South County. We have located our car’s ice scrapers and brushes, and our snow shovels stand ready. The ushering in of our Michigan seasons is one of the best parts of living here. While many of us feel winter can drag on a bit too long, the beauty of the flocked snow on the pines or the cardinals feeding in the snow regularly lifts our spirits during winter’s darkness.

People on the move

Cindy Kole, longtime Vicksburg resident, was promoted to executive vice president of First National Bank of Michigan, following her accomplishments as senior vice president and chief operating officer. Cindy has more than 30 years of experience in banking, including wealth management, private banking, human resources, and retail banking.

The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ (CDMRP) Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) named a former Vicksburg resident, Commander Fred R. Cohrs USNR (Ret.), to participate in evaluation of research applications to the program. Commander Cohrs, a 1966 VHS graduate, was nominated by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Chapter of UsTOO, an international prostate cancer advocacy group. When commenting on serving as a consumer reviewer, Fred said, “It was a privilege to represent prostate cancer patients on this panel and make recommendations for directing taxpayers’ money for important research.”

YouTube video features local singer

A lovely music video featuring Makayla Cardosa walking through Vicksburg’s downtown in a light evening snowfall has been posted on YouTube by Connections Community Church in Schoolcraft. Makayla, a Vicksburg High School graduate, sings the Christmas song “Hush” on the Main Street sidewalks and the gazebo in the Historic Village. The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YgcOL3hUYg

Concrete block mystery solved!

In Leeanne Seaver’s November article, she shared architectural historian Cheri Szcodronski’s discovery of an unusual block used in foundations and structures around the village. Ever-helpful local historian, Maggie Snyder, cracked the case, finding a reference to the source in Dr. Arle Schneider’s 2004 book, “A Tale of One Village.”:

“The Clapp Brothers business began in 1884 with a small planing mill, on the East side of Portage creek across from the end of South Street. The brothers used the Portage Creek to bring lumber up from Barton Lake. The stream was narrowed with timbers to power the mill. It ran at first with an undershot wheel and was soon replaced with a steam engine….soon after a sawmill was added. The Clapps also operated a hardware store stocked with a complete line of building materials, pumps, paint, glass harnesses, dishes, silverware and windmills.”

Thanks, Maggie!

The Carhartt jacket and chainsaw wish fulfilled!

We never know what might happen when making wishes public. Dr. David Schriemer’s patients and friends will be happy to know he received both a Carhartt jacket and a chainsaw for Christmas. He is a happy fellow!

Many thanks

Thank you for your continued support of this monthly paper as we strive to provide the “good news” from our area. We also publish important information that connects our readers to local school districts and governmental bodies. Please consider supporting our efforts financially if you are able.

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.

On the Corner

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

After nearly six months, our school children are returning to classrooms which are operating differently. Our communities continue to adjust our regular activities, and many of the events we look forward to have been cancelled or postponed. This current state is challenging our patience. Despite these disappointments, there are still many interesting things happening in South County.

Exciting Discovery at the Mill

Environmental researchers discovered a colony of snuffbox mussels in a section of the Portage Creek which runs along the Mill property. Native to eastern North America, this freshwater mussel is listed as endangered in both the United States and Canada. To read more about this exciting find, go to https://vicksburgmill.com/.

Pumpkin Decorating Contest

One of the joys of fall are the beautiful, bright-colored pumpkins that adorn our porches and yards. The Vicksburg Historical Society, together with the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, are hosting the ever-popular pumpkin-decorating contest. This sounds like fun! Check the organizations’ websites or Facebook pages for upcoming details. Entry forms will be available at http://vicksburghistory.org/pumpkins.

7th Annual Vicksburg Lions Club Golf Outing

The Vicksburg Lions Club supports our community with time and money. The summer festival, their big fundraiser was cancelled this year. Golfers can help fund their area projects by supporting the annual Golf Outing. This important club event will be held Saturday, September 19 at States Golf Club. Shotgun start at 11. For more information, contact Ryan Freeland (269) 290-4381 or Dawn Freeland (269) 910-2758.

Tractor Parade

Preschool-age farm kids, my great-nephew Grady and his sister Addy, were surprised and thrilled by the tractors parading down their street several weeks ago. The Kalamazoo Valley Antique Tractor & Machinery Club hosted this Tractor Ride in place of their cancelled annual show. Organized by Vicksburg resident Dale Sult, tractors arrived from as far away as Lansing, Charlotte, Three Oaks and Plymouth, Ind. The caravan of 53 tractors, which covered more than a half mile, slowly passed 12 of the quilt barns and historic buildings of the Vicksburg Quilt Trail and then drove up Main St., waving to kids (and the kids-at-heart) along the route who stopped to stare!

Fall Bike Celebration

This sounds like a perfect autumn activity! The second annual Fall Bike Celebration Weekend will highlight attractions in and around the village of Vicksburg and southwest Michigan from September 18-20. This weekend has been meticulously planned with countless activities for all ages. Registration and a complete list of details are available at www.fallbikecelebration.org.

Quilt Trail Presentation

A Vicksburg Quilt Trail presentation will be held Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. at the Vicksburg District Library. Learn how quilt trails began, how Vicksburg started a trail and how to paint a quilt. Attendees will also learn about each of the 24 quilts on barns in the surrounding countryside and on historic buildings in town.

On the Corner

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Summer

This summer was certainly unlike any summer we remember: the cancellation of the 4th of July parade and fireworks, the postponement and eventual cancellation of the Old Car Festival.

We are saddened by this loss of normalcy, but some things stay the same: the fireflies dancing during the July nights; the smiles of children as they hold their dripping ice cream cones; the produce proudly displayed at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. I hope we can all enjoy the seasonal bounty and beauty Michigan has to offer, despite the challenges we are currently facing.

Our Appreciation

Thank you, readers, for your response to our semi-annual fund drive and request for your continued financial support. We are grateful for your generous contributions which make possible this publication.

Thanks, also, for the emails we have received with story ideas or kind supporting words. The South County News team is navigating a new course without our Sue, and we all appreciate your patience as we lift some these new sails and gradually gain some speed and confidence.

Schoolcraft Visit

On a mid-July afternoon, I spent several lovely hours with “Sue’s Women” – formerly known as “The Wild Women of Schoolcraft.” I sat with this wonderful gift of new friends in the Bergland family’s gardens; the dappled shade and the light breeze was so kind, as was the conversation and fellowship. I continue to be thankful for the gracious people who occupy our part of the county.

Fire Truck Parade

On the 4th of July, the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority vehicle parade honored our communities. Starting in Schoolcraft at 2 p.m., the procession began, proceeded to Vicksburg, then Fulton. With lights and sirens going, drivers and passengers waved at many smiling, surprised residents. Thanks to all who made this possible!

Craig Rolfe’s Tribute

Craig Rolfe sent a lovely note about Sue. (The letter in its entirety appears on our South County News website.) His words continue the praise of this remarkable woman. Thank you, Craig.
Enjoy the beauty of late summer and the anticipation of fall.

On the Corner

Kateri Trelles.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

And so it starts…

Composing this column, started by Meredith Clark, continued by his daughter, Sue Moore, and now passed to me, is a humbling task. I remember Meredith, but I knew Sue well; she was an important part of my growing up and was a vibrant member of “The Martini Club,” the subject of “It’s a Fine Life” this month.

The South County News team has committed to the continued producing and publishing of this paper. Sue worked to improve our community and to document life here in Southwest Michigan. We will do our best to do the same.

Here is what the team at South County News needs from its readership:

Patience and grace during this time of transition.

Continued financial support. The paper will not survive without it.

SCN is Visible in the Classrooms

I am a teacher at Vicksburg High School. At the front of my classroom is a bulletin board titled “Bulldogs in the News.” Throughout the year, I staple pictures and articles from the South County News. My high school students love it. They enjoy seeing their own images and their friends’ faces in the many shots included in the paper. This visual presence helps my students feel a part of our community and remember that there are many people who care about them. By the end of the school year, I have layers and layers of photos.

VHS Graduate Returns to Vicksburg

I am continually pleased and amazed by former area graduates who return to our area for retirement. Carole McCallum, 1976 VHS grad, is another former classmate returning to her roots. Carole is a professional bassoonist, retiring after a professional career in Los Angeles. We spent a wonderful afternoon with Carole, her husband Leon, and several other friends, catching up and concluding that southwest Michigan is a great place to live. Welcome, Carole and Leon!

Kayak Engagement on Sunset Lake

Bronson primary care doctor Evan Fitzgerald borrowed Dave and Paula Schriemer’s kayaks one warm Saturday in May and proposed to his fiancé, Kateri Trelles. Evan shares that he and Kat met in Washington D.C. and moved to the area a year ago. COVID-19 put a halt to any “fancy” plans Evan could make, so he took Dave up on his polite offer of borrowing the kayaks for an adventure. Dave is happy to report that the kayaks remained upright and the ring ended up on Kat’s finger, not at the bottom of the Sunset Lake! Congratulations, Evan and Kat!

Showcase Memory of Sue

Dani Carpenter-Littel expressed her grief about Sue’s passing and her own special Sue story. Last January, Sue stopped and knocked on Dani’s door right before The Vicksburg Rotary Showcase practices began, inviting Dani to be a part of the chorus. Sue had heard Dani was a singer, and she invited Dani to join. Even though Dani has a strong music and theater background, she wasn’t sure about it. But Sue persisted, stressing that for the first time, women would be part of the chorus. That did it. Dani joined the cast, and she loved being a part of the show. “Sue just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It was a small thing to her but a huge thing to me. I will always appreciate that gesture.”

Awards Continue for Local Author

Hadley Moore’s book Not Dead Yet and Other Stories, which came out in September 2019, after winning Autumn House Press’s 2018 Fiction Prize, was longlisted in December for the 2020 Pen/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection. This spring, Moore, a Vicksburg resident, also learned it had won the 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award’s short story/anthology category, as well as a First Horizon Award for debut books; and was recently shortlisted for the short story category of the Rubery Book Award, out of the UK.

On Sue’s Corner

Note: This column was typically the last thing Sue Moore composed prior to going to print with the South County News. She didn’t have a chance to write her column. It was drafted by Linda Lane, with input from Board Members Bob Ball, Wes Schmitt, Steve Ellis and Sheri Freeland.

Sue Moore, editor, publisher, writer, photographer, co-founder of the South County News and president of its board of trustees, passed away during the production of this issue.

The changes to life in the world with coronavirus were inconceivable for everyone. As the South County News illustrated in April and May, we’ve been contending with debilitating social and economic changes. It has turned our world upside down.

The virus isn’t the only thing that’s turned things upside down around this newspaper.

The editor and publisher of the South County News, Sue Moore, passed away on Thursday, May 28, 2020; she did not die from complications or as a result of the Coronavirus. This devastating loss will be endured by many in our South County communities, including Sue Moore’s family, friends, neighbors, and community leaders and organizers. We can’t believe she is gone.

The South County News Board of Directors discussed repeatedly – with Sue, of course – who would fill the shoes as editor and publisher should anything happened to Sue, the editor, heart, and soul of the South County News. Although one can logically discuss the subject as a possibility, it was not entirely believable that a woman so spry, radiant, engaged, intelligent, funny and vivacious could suddenly leave us the way she has. The loss of our leader has left us numb and worried for the viability of the newspaper.

The board never managed to achieve any succession plan or hire an assistant editor. Developing a plan to pull the paper through this devastating loss seems like an enormous task; finding a replacement for this competent, skilled editor will be an enormous challenge. There aren’t many people who are willing to invest the time, energy and dedication to publish the South County News the way Sue Moore did. We just need to push on, because it’s what Sue Moore would insist we do.

Sue was the guts of the South County News. The vast majority of those who knew Sue admired and adored her for all she contributed, as they watched her dedicate her life and work for the community’s good.

Working with her parents, Meredith and Bernice Clark and their newspaper, The Vicksburg Commer-cial Newspaper, Sue grew up in the newspaper business and earned her stripes working for their paper. She knew the business inside and out.

Sue knew nearly everyone, not just in Vicksburg but Schoolcraft as well, as she attended township and village board meetings, school board meetings, historical meetings, farmer’s market meetings, rotary meetings, community events – the list goes on and on. Many people, many groups, will feel the loss of Sue Moore for years to come.

Our hearts go out deeply to Sue’s family, who shared their mom and grandmother with the rest of us. She was an inspiration to those who had the pleasure of working with her. We know how much she believed in the good in our communities and people. It was what inspired her to pour the last years of her life into generating the stories of the fine people who live here and contribute to bettering our communities. Sue was the heart of every good story in the South County News. She made things happen. She embodied the goodness of our area in the great state of Michigan.

We don’t know where we will go from here with this loss. We don’t know how Sue can possibly be replaced, because she really can’t be. But the South County News, just like the opening of the Farmers’ Market, the Rotary Showcase and much more, should forge on. It’s what Sue would want all of us to do.

When Sue celebrated her 80th birthday in 2018, many community leaders came together, surprising her with a “Farm to Table Dinner” celebration in her honor. She was shocked by it but she deserved it. She’s made an impact on many lives. Kudos to all of those who made that happen, so Sue could feel the ap-preciation from everyone present and how much she has meant. To all of us. For all she’s done.

In spite of multiple restrictions imposed on all of us due to coronavirus, we hope these communities will somehow find a way to celebrate her inspiring life and immense contributions to our communities. She certainly deserves it.

The July issue of the South County News will feature a tribute to Sue Moore. The Board of Trustees would like to receive your comments and tributes in memory of Sue. Please email them to Linda Lane, 829lane@gmail.com, or by US Mail to:

Wes Schmitt
South County News
PO Box 723
Schoolcraft, MI 49087

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

Recently, I put on my best bib and tucker, some makeup that I haven’t used in many weeks, combed my hair and got ready for my first Zoom meeting. The camera on my computer that sees all and reports all means I can no longer laze around in the morning in my pj’s until noon.

To Zoom with the best of them, one needs to sit up straight, stop drinking out of the water mug, pay attention, no scratching of any body part, don’t let the dog in, no waving of hands in front of the camera – so distracting to others and draws way too much attention my way. Maybe I need to practice getting the background of my office just right, so folks will think the housekeeping is in good order around here.

If you haven’t had to Zoom, it’s your good fortune. This is what public and even private meetings have come down to these long days of the coronavirus malaise. I prefer to attend governmental meetings in person, just to get the tenor of the participants as they speak their parts. But, I must admit, it’s been a blessing to stay home in front of the computer while attending the many meetings that I usually have on my calendar.

It’s hard to even remember what day it is, given that they all seem to blend in together, even with the Zoom meetings being scheduled that I’m trying to remember.

Accolades to the South County News Staff

The May issue of the South County News marks a full seven years that we have been publishing the newspaper. The years have gone by so fast, it’s pretty much a blur. What I know is that the team that is responsible for bringing the print and electronic version to you each month is dedicated to the cause.

The unsung hero behind the scenes, keeping track of the finances, is Wes Schmitt. He has been on board since the very beginning. It just wouldn’t happen without him making sure we had enough money in the bank to pay our printer and the post office each month.

Sheri Freeland is our advertising sales guru that we lured into service when it appeared we needed a better system to contact advertisers, who along with individual donors are the backbone of this local newspaper. Through her work, our readers can find services that would never be able to get the word out any other way to the general public. She is a delight to work with and a good communicator in a business that is all about communications.

Justin Gibson, our graphic designer, has put up with my dubious deadlines for almost six years. He is a saint. Never complains, always steady, extremely talented, gets it done every month, just as the bell rings for our 8 a.m. press date. He makes our ads beautiful and the pages pop so artistically, you would think he was an art major in college. Instead he teaches writing at WMU (Graphic designer’s note: I double majored in art and writing).

Our intrepid copy editor, Bob Ball, keeps me in particular along with all of our writers, more professional than we really are, due to his sharp pencil and great knowledge of the English language. He also has a gift for ferreting out the details in a story that we may have missed or just assumed everyone would know. I’m very proud of how the written word in the South County News is received by our readers. It’s due in large part to Bob’s efforts to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

The “stringers” who keep reporting each month are the editor’s eyes and ears. They get paid a pittance but are loyal and hard working beyond belief. They all answered the call this month as I couldn’t leave the house to go collect information or interview anyone, other than by phone. I am deeply grateful to the following writers: Rob Peterson, Jef Rietsma, Travis Smola, Bob Ball, Syd Bastos, Kathy Forsythe, Betsy Connolly, Linda Lane (who, like Wes, Sheri and Bob, also serves on the SCN nonprofit board), Deb Christiansen and John Fulton. Mark Blentlinger and his wife, Stephanie, are usually present to cover sports in Schoolcraft, there wasn’t much for them to do this month.
Your support means everything to keep this newspaper alive and well.

Tidbits

P.J. Callahan, Vicksburg High School graduate and recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad, took a job with the Seattle Mariners last fall as their environmental and sustainability coach. I’m happy to report that he still has a job, even though the team isn’t on the field and the fans are not in their seats. He came back to Michigan to ride this out and is working remotely for the Mariners these days.

“My role has included managing $4 million in capital upgrades to the stadium in building systems. I am leading sustainability efforts at T-Mobile Park with the installation of LED lighting and more efficient HVAC systems. I lead the team’s Earth Day initiatives. In the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the state of our season, I am working to ensure the health and safety of our office members while trying to explore new ways to engage in sustainability in a newly shaped economy,” Callahan said. He once was a pitcher on his high school and college teams, never dreaming he would end up with the Mariners.

“I am looking forward to getting back to Seattle and back to the ballpark, although I don’t expect to see any baseball in Seattle in 2020,” Callahan said.

Bob Hayward Takes a Lawnmower Ride to the Doctor

When MaryAnn and Bob Hayward returned from their winter stay in Florida in early April, the Vicksburg couple learned the battery in their Prius was dead. Their motorhome didn’t have insurance on it, and Bob couldn’t activate it quickly – he had retired from his Vicksburg insurance business.

Next day he had an early morning appointment with Doctor Dave, only a few blocks away from his home. It was cold and he didn’t want to walk. What to do in order to get there on time? Hop on the riding lawnmower seemed to be the best solution. Its battery was working, so off he went and parked it in a regular car space, since he’s not handicapped. He said he did think about parking it on the lawn, but he thought the lawn care guys might come by and claim it.

On the Corner

By Sue Moore

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” so said Charles Dickens in the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities.

People are dying because of the novel coronavirus pandemic all over the world. Yet kindness and empathy are being displayed everywhere.

Right here in our small towns of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg, we experience school being called off, athletic contests cancelled, yet teachers are doing great work with assignments and communicating wherever it is needed. Breakfast and lunch programs have begun at each school with pickups taking place once a week for any family that wants it.

So many in the service industry are out of a job, many thousands in the state of Michigan applying for unemployment insurance this week. Yet people are trying to help, purchasing gift cards from stores and using take-out from our restaurants to keep them at least treading water.

Our health care workers are bearing the brunt of the disease and risking their lives to keep us all alive. By observing the quarantine edict from the Governor, we can help them all.

Is There a Silver Lining?

There seems to be a lot of respect shown to the “elderly”. Although I’ve resisted being put in that category, I really had to face up to it when Vicksburg’s village manager politely requested that I not attend the village council meeting, as he didn’t want me to be exposed to any possible virus. Fortunately, I was able to cover the meeting via the new streaming service the village started in January.

It actually worked very well and I would recommend that anyone interested in how our village government functions plan to watch on the first and third Monday night of each month at 7 p.m. The April meeting will only take place on the 20th. There were 10 people watching it including me and probably Bill Adams, village president, whose wife Carolyn, insisted that he stay home too.

Personalizing the News

It’s been a long two weeks while trying to get the paper out without ever meeting anyone face to face. It’s been a challenge to say the least. I never recognized how much news I gathered just by going to meetings. People often ask me where I get the news and my answer is always there is so much going on, it’s easy. This week, it hasn’t been so easy because I haven’t been out of the house for 17 days. I’ve had to email and call (I don’t like being on the phone a lot) and because you can’t look people in the eye, it’s hard to gauge the tenor of their responses. With lots of help from Sheri Freeland, our advertising sales representative and our reporters, we’re getting the job done.

An Apology to Kalamazoo County State Bank (KCSB)

In my column last month, I thought I chastised PNC Bank for closing up shop in Vicksburg. Instead the board members of KCSB felt that I was throwing their bank under the bus with my comments. That was certainly not my intention as they have proven their durability over the years, having been in business in Schoolcraft for 112 years and in Vicksburg for 24 years. “We have given back to our communities in so many ways,” said Scott Hines, bank president. My comments made it look like they hadn’t done much in the villages over these years, which is not what I meant at all. They are a community bank and as such, have given back ten-fold to our population, in personal ways and public contributions, especially with the 4th of July celebration in Schoolcraft.