Excellence in Education recognizes local students


Excellence in Education recognizes top-achieving high school seniors from Kalamazoo County’s public and non-public high schools. This year, 43 seniors were selected for the honor, which comes with a $1,200 scholarship. Each student recognized an educator who had a significant impact on their education.

Elijah Bombich
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Matthew & Myriah Bombich
College: Michigan Technological University
Major: Engineering
Significant Educator: Amanda Szczesny

Allie Goldschmeding
Schoolcraft High School, KVCC
Parents: Amie & Jon Goldschmeding
College: Undecided
Major: Accounting
Significant Educator: Melissa French

Noah Green
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Amy and David Green
College: Kalamazoo College
Major: Pre-Med
Significant Educator: Rachel King

Joseph Loriso
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Joanne & Anthony Loriso
College: Illinois Institute of Technology
Major: Computer Science
Significant Educator: Lucas Wolthuis

Maeve Stitt
Schoolcraft High School, KVCC
Parents: Marna Godby & Rusty Stitt
College: Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Major: Nursing
Significant Educator: Douglas Martin

Levi Thomas
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Steve & Theresa Thomas
College: Undecided
Major: Business
Significant Educator: Amanda Sczcesny

The Dome takes it to the next level

Pete Jarred practices his swing at the Dome. He says it’s convenient and affordable.

By Kathy DeMott

The Dome Sports Center is a 30-acre campus in Schoolcraft with indoor and outdoor athletic facilities and fields, able to provide everything a training athlete needs on one campus. The site on US-131 is also the home of Next Level Performance, which provides training for sports – and life.

That was Josh Baird’s vision when he and his wife in 2016 purchased the former Year Round Golf site, an inflatable dome with indoor-outdoor driving range and golf simulators.

At the facility, coaches build relationships with their clients and help identify and develop their potential. One of the goals is to teach how to apply the life lessons learned through playing sports to the rest of their lives. Their custom plans provide the tools to achieve goals while building confidence and endurance. “We are not just developing athletes, we are developing leaders,” Baird said.

The heritage of the Dome is helping people improve their golf game with lessons, indoor and outdoor driving ranges and golf simulators. The Golf Development Center is designed to help golfers focus on different skills. The short course has five holes to help new golfers learn the game before venturing onto a larger course. There is a putting green, a practice bunker and targets. A new natural grass tee box is in progress as well. The Dome also has golf lessons available from Golf Pro’s Sharon King and Abby Pearson.

Baird’s vision is a multi-purpose, multi-functional, and multi-sports training center that supports athletes participating in fitness, weights, baseball, softball, football, soccer, and volleyball. There are nine new indoor batting cages, three outdoor grass volleyball courts and a soccer field.

Part of that vision is the Miracle Field baseball diamond equipped with special surfaces to accommodate athletes with disabilities. It’s slated to open this summer. The generous support of the community helped make this a reality for many families.

“We are creating a community around health and wellness. We want a campus that will provide everything an athlete needs, including rehabilitation,” Baird said.

The Dome purchased the adjacent Sir Home Improvements building and converted that space into suites with a goal of offering different facets of health care. One of the tenants already in this building is Armor Physical Therapy, which specializes in outpatient orthopedics and sports rehabilitation. This location is led by Vicksburg native Scott Millers, a physical therapist and group director for Armor Physical Therapy, with seven locations in the southwest Michigan area.

The Dome in Schoolcraft provides options for athletes and families looking to live a healthy lifestyle, share an outing, or train to be better athletes and leaders. More information is available at http://www.domesportscenter.com.

Local golf courses in full swing

By Kathy DeMott

South County is home to four golf courses open to the public, sharing similarities but each unique. All provide an escape, 18 holes to master a skill and an invitation to experience the outdoors alone or with friends.

In 2020, with COVID-19 in full swing, golf was one of the few sporting activities people could still enjoy with mandated regulations. Golf season is open, the courses and clubhouses have updates and are ready for patrons.

The States Golf Course at 20 East W. Avenue in Vicksburg is the oldest public golf course in Kalamazoo County still in operation. It opened in 1927 but has been privately owned by the Jasiak family for 39 years. It is a family-friendly course with its easy-to-medium course and large greens which are easy to walk with minimal hills. It has added additional outdoor seating and a new pergola to provide shade.

Co-owner Eric Jasiak said it is geared toward the local community and offers open play – no scheduled tee times. It is a first-come first-serve course, except for scheduled league play. States Golf also hosts the Schoolcraft and Vicksburg JV men’s and women’s golf teams. It is hoping to have more golf outings as permitted. Those will be posted on its Facebook page.

Angel’s Crossing Golf Club is set on 350 acres of rolling greens and is owned by the Village of Vicksburg. General manager and golf pro Dave Mocini said there have been improvements on the course, including some of the bunkers. The course offers some of the largest greens in the area and offers a challenge to average golfers and pros alike. He hopes that people will say that for the price Angel’s Crossing is a good value and will draw golfers locally and outside the Kalamazoo area.

A new fleet of electric golf carts with GPS and instant read on distances on the greens will enhance the golfer experience. The technology can show a picture of the hole, post the number of yards to the green and update the break points. There is a driving range and the Pro Shop is stocked with golf essentials. Golf lessons are available as well. The restaurant will open once there is adequate staffing.

The Olde Mill Golf Course at 6101 W. XY Avenue in Schoolcraft was built in 1958 by the Stiver family. The course’s new owner, Dean Marks, has invested in improving the course over the past year. According to Bob Bales, general manager, golf pro and president of the Michigan PGA, “Our goal is to make Olde Mill Golf a premier local golf course.”

The clubhouse has had some recent renovations to accommodate three new state-of-the-art golf simulators with settings such as a driving range and putting, and able to provide a report of progress while using them. They also feature other games for family fun. They can be scheduled in one-hour blocks. The old dance floor was repurposed as walls and part of the bar which is now open seven days a week. The Grille @ Olde Mill is known for its pizza which is the recipe from the Old Crooked Lake Market in Texas Corners. “The Grille offers one of the only options in Schoolcraft for a sit-down meal with an adult beverage,” Bales said. “We are open year-round to serve the community.” The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Olde Mill supports Kalamazoo Junior Golf Association and the PGA Jr. Leagues as well as hosting Schoolcraft’s varsity golf teams.

Indian Run Golf Club, located five minutes off Sprinkle Road in Scotts was established in 1967 near Indian Lake. Managing Partner Matt Van Acker said the course is fun for golfers of all abilities. “Our goal is to provide quality conditions while keeping prices affordable for our customers.” The recently upgraded practice facility includes a driving range with 10 targets, practice sand trap, a short game area and practice green.

The golf course blends well with the vibe of the community and complements the camaraderie of the clubhouse as a whole. General Manager Mark Bush, Bar Manager Gina Kusz along with Chef Michael Hill have created a menu and special atmosphere in the bar and restaurant. Diners enjoy scratch soups, homemade bread, tortillas, pizza dough, and chef specials Monday through Saturday, with a limited menu on Sundays. Wednesdays With Reza and Gina is a tribute to The Beacon Club with signature cocktails and Sinatra music.

Recent renovations in the clubhouse bar, restaurant and banquet hall make it a great spot for outings and dining both inside and out.

With golf season in full swing, there are plenty of local options for courses, dining, recreation, and family fun. Each course has a website but the Facebook pages list regular updates and activities.

Scott Phillips and his Indy car collection

Some of Scott Phillips’ memorabilia.

By Jef Rietsma

Collector: Scott Phillips.

Collection? Indy car memorabilia. I have about 1,000 items and more than half are autographed. I don’t like to sell stuff but I’ll occasionally trade.

How did your collection begin? I went to my first Indy 500 in 1986. My mom and sister moved to Indianapolis after my parents divorced, and they would take me out to the track even though there was nothing going on. That ’86 race, it was beautiful Friday, it was beautiful Saturday, and Sunday it rained. The weather was pretty miserable on race day but it was an unforgettable experience for me.

What is your best source for acquiring/trading/selling? It’s hard to collect much around here. I’ve acquired a lot of autographs by mail. You’d be surprised how responsive most people are. You can send something to Richard Petty, for example, and 10 days later, you’ll get it back signed.

Your most-prized item? A 40-by-17-inch 2006 event poster and it is autographed of every living Indy 500 winner – 31 in all – who was alive in 2016. A few of the people who signed it are gone now, so it’s irreplaceable. Also, I didn’t know about the Bronze Badge (annual collectible issued by the Indy 500) until 2006. That’s when the collecting for me really got started in earnest. I also have an original brick from the track, and that was at the top of my want list for years. I found it at an antique store somewhere in Mishawaka. Another event poster I own has more than 40 autographs that I’ve secured, but they’re from anyone who has raced, not just the winners.

What joy do you get from collecting Indy? With very few exceptions – A.J. Foyt being one – they are all very accommodating. Johnny Rutherford is the best. They really appreciate the fans and I just love the Indy 500 and its traditions. I’ve been to every one but maybe five races since my first in 1986. More than that, though, I love that my daughter has been with me at so many of the races and we’ve met so many drivers. It started when she was a kid with buck teeth, there’s some pictures of her when she got older and had braces, and now she’s 20 and has a tattoo.

Describe your most memorable acquisition. Gordon Johncock lived in Hastings and I’ve been to his house three times in the last 10 years. I got his number out of the phone book and I just called him up and he said to stop by. He autographed a few things for me but the first time I went over there, it cost me about $100 because I took him and his wife out to dinner. The first thing he did was order a martini. It was worth it, though, having dinner and spending a few hours with him.

What’s the most you ever paid for an item? A Rick Mears 1:18-scale die-cast car set me back $178. Carousel is the name of the company that makes them and they’re expensive cars to begin with. The only reason I bought the car was because I knew he was going to be there to sign it.

Are you on the Web? I spend a lot of time on Facebook … there are three or four serious collectors on there and I always love looking at their stuff. I use eBay as a reference just to get an idea of the value of what I have.

Footnotes: Phillips, 52, has 33 poster-sized pictures of his daughter, Jazmin, posing with 32 different Indy 500 winners. His collection includes a mind-boggling assortment of autographed pictures, die-cast cars, books, flags, hats, pennants, pint glasses and mugs, and an impressive assortment of oddball items, including three Tyco 450 slot-car tracks from the mid-1980s. He said his most valuable item is a die-cast car made by the company Green Light featuring the late Danny Wheldon. Phillips pre-ordered the car after Wheldon won the 2011 Indy 500. Wheldon died five months later, before the cars were released. Phillips has the first-edition car, which features a scaled Wheldon at the wheel. The second edition was issued without a driver at the wheel. “I paid $79 for it and I saw it go on eBay for $550. But, really, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.” Phillips has maintained records of every item in his collection, primarily so his grandchildren have a firm idea of the collection’s inventory.

Enjoy this day!

By Marilyn Jones, Schoolcraft’s Poet Laureate

A statement hit me in the eye
While reading a book the other day,
It was put there, just for me
And this is what it had to say…

“Don’t fall in love with SPRING”
It extolled virtues of the rest of the year,
Football season, colorful leaves in the fall,
Summer days at the beach we hold so dear.

Or sledding in winter on a snowy hill
Then watching a basketball game,
Time to sit by the fire and read a book
Blame holiday meals for a little weight gain.

But I’m guilty as charged
Happily infatuated with spring,
I love to meander outside and smell the air
And enjoy all the changes this season will bring.

To see daffodils and tulips spreading cheer
Watching from my porch, squirrels at play,
To go outdoors without a coat and gloves
And hear the bird’s musical notes in my ear.

Folks are riding bikes and swing at the park
The scent of dinner on a grill is pure bliss,
I wish spring lasted a bit longer
How could the climate be better than this?

Obituaries

Lora Jane “Polly” Boodt, 97, Schoolcraft, passed away April 20, 2021 at White Oaks Assisted Living. She was born September 24, 1923 in Schoolcraft at the family homestead on West W Ave. in Prairie Ronde Township, the daughter of Leon and Elizabeth (Hoverman) Wood. She graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 1942 and married Robert L. Boodt, June 18, 1942 in Abilene, Texas. Polly retired from WL Molding. She joined Schoolcraft Chapter #262, Order of the Eastern Star, became an OES Life Member on June 6, 1994 and was a member of Corinthian Chapter #123, Schoolcraft. She enjoyed gardening, baking pies, making caramel corn, camping with the RV club, playing cards, fishing, crocheting and collecting “Polly” frogs. She is survived by her son, Robert L. (Kitty) Boodt of Owosso; son-in-law Kenneth Maxam of Kalamazoo; grandchildren Kim Maxam of Schoolcraft, Keith (Sarah) Maxam of Parchment, Laurie (McDowell) Maxam of Plainwell, Kevin (Stacy) Maxam of Paw Paw, Brian (Melissa) Boodt of Schoolcraft, Troy (Becky) Boodt of Baldwin, and Stormy Greenwalt of Owosso; sister-in-law Velura (Boodt) Wood of Vicksburg; special nieces, Kay (Glessner) Bivens of Virginia and Robbie (Kniss) Glessner of Lapeer; 12 great grandchildren, 10 great-great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband of 46 years, Robert; daughter, Elizabeth C. Maxam; brothers Walter Wood of Vicksburg and William G. Wood of California; sisters and their husbands Erna and Ray Glessner of Lapeer (formerly of Schoolcraft) and Birdie and Charles Shapard of California and Texas; nephews Marshall L. Glessner of Lapeer and Rodger Bivens of Virginia. Donations may go to First Presbyterian Church of Schoolcraft.

David Brownell, 63, Vicksburg, passed away April 11, 2021. David was born on December 13, 1957 in Kalamazoo, the son of Peter and Joyce (Bradley) Brownell. David lived on Austin Lake for 30 years. He followed a life-long dream and opened and operated the Mercantile Kitchen Store for 10 years in Kalamazoo. He was employed by Allied Mechanical Services for the majority of his life. He loved the lake life, spending time laughing with friends and family, cooking large meals and working around the house. David is survived by his wife of 32 years, Nancy (Stinson) Brownell; children Mary Brownell and Mitch Brownell; brother Doug (Judy) Brownell; stepbrother Steve (Barb) Balinski; and stepsister Suzanne (Matt) Charlier. David was preceded in death by his parents, Peter and Joyce Brownell; brother Scott Brownell; and stepmother Marilyn. Visit his page at avinkcremation.com and pour a vodka tonic in his honor.

Lois Bernice Evert Fulton, 98, passed away April 7, 2021. Lois was born April 20, 1922 at home in East Lansing to Paul and Cora (Mallory) Evert. Lois graduated from James Couzens Agricultural School, now Bath High School, in 1941, and she attended Lansing Business University. She married Robert James Fulton July 25, 1947. Lois worked for the Board of Water and Light and then the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. When Bob and Lois retired in 1986, they built their home at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp. Lois was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; daughter Penny Jean; son-in­ law Thomas Adams; and brothers and sisters-in-law Ray (Nina) Evert, Stan (Annabelle) Evert, Barbara Warner Fulton, Audrey Bishop Fulton and Dorothy (Bernard) West. She is survived by daughters Paula Fulton, Linda Adams, and Coralee (Dan) Behr, all of Vicksburg; grandchildren Kendra (Brian) Lee, Krista (Kelly) Kraemer, Aaron Behr, Andrew (Lydia) Behr, Adam (Danae) Behr and Michael Adams; great-grandchildren Alyse Kraemer, Lillianna, Autumn, Willow, Oliver, and Gabrielle Behr; and several nieces and nephews. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com.

Robert “Rob” James Garcia Jr., 42, passed away surrounded by his loving family on April 13, 2021. He was born on September 14, 1978 in Hollywood, Fla., the son of Robert J. Garcia Sr. and Molly A. Garcia. On August 27, 2011 he married Sara Franklin, and together they raised two wonderful children. Rob enjoyed playing video games, playing guitar and drawing. He earned an associate’s degree in art, created a comic book of his own and partnered to create a graphic novel. He loved having adventures with his family. Rob was preceded in death by his grandmother, Mildred Garcia; uncles John Garcia and James Garcia; aunt Mildred Pierce; and brother Jonathan Bradley. He is survived by his wife of 10 years, Sara (Franklin) Garcia; children Jaxon and Mackenzie Garcia; parents Robert (Patricia) Garcia and Molly Garcia; siblings Amanda Garcia, Jessica Vergauwen, and Elizabeth Eshuis; aunts Sharon Morgan and Donna Focht; uncle Michael Garcia; nieces, nephews, and many cousins. Donations may go to the family c/o Sara Garcia.

Richard Jay Henderson, 83, passed away surrounded by his loving family on April 9, 2021. He was born on June 13, 1937 in Wakeshma Township, the son of William and Dorothy (Spealman) Henderson Sr. He attended Vicksburg High School, worked at Fulton Service Station and eventually worked for CBS Hightron. After leaving CBS he worked for Kellogg’s for 36 years before retiring in 1993. He also farmed 300 acres in the Vicksburg area with his sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Ron Skippers. In retirement, he enjoyed golfing, going to Canada for fishing trips, cutting wood with his sons and brother, hanging out around a campfire, spending time with his grandchildren, and his yearly pilgrimage to Florida to escape the winter months. Richard was preceded in his passing by his loving wife of 62 years, Carol (Fish) Henderson; siblings Kenneth and Donna; and his parents. He is survived by his children, Rebecca (Jerry) Dunklee, Bradley (Vonda) Henderson, and Brent (Joan) Henderson; siblings Mary (Jim) Cousins, Bill Henderson, and Pat Smith; several grandchildren and great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Visit his page at mccowensecord.com.

Clinton “Skidge” Hill, 54, passed away on April 21, 2021. He was born on April 22, 1966 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the son of Earl and Roxanne (Sayers) Hill. The family moved from Garden River, Ont. to the Kalamazoo area in 1998. Skidge was a die-hard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Denver Broncos. He and his wife, Cora, enjoyed adventuring around the world, visiting casinos and deep belly laughs with their besties Rich and Donna. Skidge is survived by his wife of 22 years Cora; children Randi and Bryce; grandchildren Jordan and Tyler; siblings Karen (Jeff), Chad (Lora), Brent and Angel; special friend Clayton “Booker” Boissoneau; in-law’s Glenda (Ben), Wes (Maureen), Trixie (James), his late brother-in-law’s wife, Vanessa, and his mother and father-in-law, Glen and Alice Jones, as well as several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Skidge was preceded in his passing by his parents, his brother Shawn, Baby Hill and a brother-in-law, Manny. Pay it forward with an act of kindness in Skidge’s memory.

Kenneth Alan Jones, 63, died unexpectedly in his Kalamazoo home on April 26, 2021. He was a well-known musician, performing with the Grand Rapids and Battle Creek symphony orchestras. He was a percussionist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for 45 years. Ken was born in Sturgis in 1957. His family moved to Schoolcraft in 1967. At the age of 13 he auditioned for Julius Stulberg and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony. He remained with it for several years, taking tours throughout Canada and Europe. He graduated from Schoolcraft High School in 1975. After receiving a Board of Regents Scholarship, he attended Western Michigan University where he graduated cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in music. For many years he taught instrumental music to elementary and middle school students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Ken was a talented and well-liked person by all who knew him. Preceding him in death were his father, Marion Jones, and his, brother Robert Jones. Left to grieve his passing are his son, Maxwell; his mother, Marilyn Jones, of Schoolcraft; sisters Kathleen Kelly and Laurie Bittle; brothers Larry Jones and Steven Jones; as well as four nieces and three nephews. An outdoor graveside memorial service will be held at the Schoolcraft Cemetery on May 7 at 11:30 am. Attendees are asked to bring a lawn chair.

Ila Rhe Kinder, 75, Vicksburg, passed away on April 21, 2021. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, Ila was raised in nearby Hunter, the second of six children in the Sieber household. The daughter of cotton farmers, Ila and her family were not strangers to hard work. Ila graduated from Brinkley High School in Brinkley, Arkansas with the class of 1964. After high school, Ila began working for a shirt factory. In the early 1960s, she met and married Leland “Buddy” Kinder and raising their family became her focus. She was known for her sense of style and love of family. She treasured her girlfriends and the many adventures they had. She is survived by her daughter, Mischelle (Jim) Korelich of Vicksburg; grandchildren Logan (Joe) Schuiteboer of Kalamazoo, Ally Stafinski of Mendon, Olivia Kinder of Portage, and Audrey Koewers; siblings Thomas Sieber, Peggy Sullivan and Nadine (Bob) Freeland, all of Arkansas, and Carl Sieber of Vicksburg. She is also survived by her special friend, Walter “Buck” Buckallew. Ila was preceded in death by her husband, Leland “Buddy”; a son, Mark Kinder; and sister, Karen. Ila has been cremated. The family will have a memorial service at 11 a.m. July 21 at McCowen & Secord Funeral Home, 409 S. Main Street, Vicksburg. The family will greet friends one hour prior, beginning at 10 a.m. Visit her page at mccowensecord.com.

Walter DeWitt Layne, 90, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully at his home on April 10, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. Walter was born on April 22, 1930 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the son of Walter Scott Layne and Lois (Cooley) Layne. Walt’s family eventually settled on Long Lake in Portage. He attended University High School and transferred to Vicksburg High School where he played football and drove his 1930-era Ford. He served in the US Navy from 1947 to 1950. On the carrier USS Princeton, he saw post-war Japan and China. He performed duties aboard ship and flew missions for the torpedo bomber squad. Walt married Nancy Van Laar on September 28, 1951. The couple raised their family in the Vicksburg area. Walt worked for Upjohn as a chemical operator for 30 years. Retiring in 1985, he and Nancy wintered in LaBelle, Florida for another 30 years. Walt loved golf and fishing for crappie in Lake Okeechobee. He was a member of Amazing Grace Baptist Fellowship, the Gideons International, and Masonic Lodge #240. Walt is survived by his wife of 69 years, Nancy (Van Laar) Layne; children Steven (Sue) Layne, Lorrie (John) VerSteeg and Cyndee (Paul) Van Sweden; grandchildren Scott (Chandra) Kellogg, Leighann (Doug) Harris, Travis (Courtney) Van Sweden and Katie (Dan Ramsdell) Layne; sisters Mary Bullard and Barb Witherow; and great-grandchildren Hank, Clara, Rowen, Zayden and Griffin. Donations may go to Gideons International or the American Kidney Fund. Visit his page at langelands.com.

Hué Thi Loc, 70, Vicksburg, passed away March 30, 2021. Hue was born May 12th, 1941 in Ha Noi, Vietnam, to Nguyen Van Bon and Tran Thi Nghi. When Hué’s father and brother died and her mother fell ill, Hué was adopted. Her adoptive parents moved the family to South Vietnam. Her birth family found her later, but Hué stayed to care for her ill adoptive parents. Hué and Loc Minh Dau (Loc A. Loc) were married in 1964. Loc served in the South Vietnamese army while Hué sold street food to feed her growing family. After the war, Loc was held captive. Hué and Loc left South Vietnam on a boat with their seven children as refugees, her adoptive mother stayed behind due to her physical disability. They lived in a Malaysian refugee camp for two years, sponsored by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Portage. In 1979, the Loc family settled into a farmhouse in Vicksburg where they raised their eight children. Hué is survived by children Mui, Cau (Anh), Tom (Christine), Phuong (Stephen), Hoang (Karmina), Vuong, Anh (Luke); daughter-in-law Tracy; grandchildren Kiaya, Kliricia, Koehl, Joseph, Ava, Jackson, Lillian, Evelyn, Caitlin, Cobey, Madison, Cy, Jada, Mason, Mya, Maddox, Miles, Amelia, Nicholas, Cullen, Brandon, and another baby girl on her way; great grandchildren Sebastian and Montgomery. She was preceded in death by her husband, Loc A. Loc, and son Nic. Visit her page at avinkcremation.com. Donations may go to the family, which will be forwarded to Tam Quang Temple, Wayland, for its generous services for Hué.

Jack E. Marks: Please join Diane, Tracy, Jami and Bill Marks and Brent Dingman as they celebrate the life of Jack E. Marks on May 23, 2021 from 1-5 p.m. at his home, 6080 East T Avenue, Vicksburg. Luncheon will be served. Jack, an electrician, died Nov. 7, 2020 at the age of 77.

Joseph A. Medema, Schoolcraft, died April 6, 2021. Joe was born April 1, 1980 in Kalamazoo, the son of John W. and Barbara (Warner) Medema. He graduated from Western Michigan University and was a supervisor at Parker-Hannifin. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and boating. On September 14, 2002 he married Valerie (Wendel), who survives. Also surviving are daughters Brooke, Allyson, and Isabelle Medema; his parents; father-in-law Donald Wendel; grandparents John Medema and Karen Delp; brothers John E. Medema and Joshua Medema; and several nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. Joe was preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Michele Wendel, and grandparents Dorothy Medema, Richard Delp and Geraldine Wendel. Donations may go to First Reformed Church of Portage. Visit his page at langelands.com.

Edward Allen Murphy, 80, Mesa, Ariz., formerly of Vicksburg, passed March 26, 2021, surrounded by his children, Rex and Vicki, and grandson, Rex Esq. He was a generous, kind-hearted man who would help anybody. He worked as a farm hand, heating and cooling technician, gutter installer, construction supervisor, truck driver, and small business owner. He enjoyed traveling all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. On February 25, 1964, he married Gloria Ruth Gunnett in Kalamazoo. They lived in Vicksburg until 1984, when they moved to Arizona, settling in Mesa until her death in 2000. He met and fell in love with Gloria Jobe, initially introduced to her by his wife a couple of years earlier. They enjoyed their time together until her death in 2019. He is survived by three children, Victoria (Bob) Yoder, Vicksburg; Rex (Sun) Murphy, Mesa, Ariz.; Ed Murphy II, Mesa, Ariz; grandchildren Rex Esq., Ryan, and Baily; sisters Betsy Vandelaare of Mendon; Mary (Gary) Vermuelen of Scotts, and Pam (Rich) Aby of Queen’s Creek, Ariz.; sister-in-law Linda Gunnett, Palm Springs, Calif.; brother-in-law Larry (Sue) Gunnett, Three Rivers; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Lillian Murphy, his wife, girlfriend Gloria Jobe, sister-in-law Mary Williams and brother-in-law Don Vandelaare. His ashes will be spread over Roosevelt Lake in Arizona with those of his wife. Donations may go to a veterans’ organization or St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Patricia Ann Neidlinger, 86, Vicksburg and Schoolcraft, died April 7, 2021. She was born November 10, 1934 in Kalamazoo to Francis and Helen (Kinsey) Knerr. She went to Portage Central High School and worked for WL Molding and Westside Medical. On June 27, 1959, she married Gordon L. Neidlinger. She is survived by her children, Judy Wilcox, Jerry Neidlinger, and Gene Neidlinger; grandchildren William, Rachel, and Ryan; great-grandchildren Jeffrey, Alexia and Izack; and sister Angela Knerr. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her sister, Barbara, and her brother, Frank. Donations may go to Alzheimer’s Association, Hospice of SW Michigan or American Diabetes Association.

Christopher Alan Pelton (Chris), 59, Schoolcraft, died April 9, 2021 from pancreatic cancer. Chris was born Dec. 18, 1961 in Bay City to Philip and Mary Ann Pelton. He wed Lori Heideman in August 1989. He was an IRS agent and loved the outdoors. Chris is survived by his wife; son Philip (Aubrey Hooker); daughter Olivia; parents Phil and Mary Ann Pelton; brother Perry (Rose) Pelton; sisters Linda (Terry) Benchley, Diane (Kenny) Senske, and Kelly (Dan) Meschke; in-laws Fred and Nancy Heideman; sister-in-law Amy (Chris) Desmond; brothers-in-law Jim (Diane) Heideman, Mike (Rosalind) Heideman, Mark Heideman, and Fred Heideman; and many nieces and nephews. Donations may go to Hospice of SW Michigan. Many thanks to Kristi M., RN, who was an angel.

Elizabeth Anne Sehy, 32, died April 18, 2021. She was born May 9, 1988 at Borgess Hospital, Kalamazoo to Henry and Anne (Shekleton) Sehy, the youngest of four kids. Elizabeth loved the outdoors and soccer. While attending Vicksburg High School, she played varsity soccer, and as an adult, Elizabeth continued to play soccer and served as captain of an intramural soccer team at Kingdom Sports Indoor Center in Kalamazoo. She could often be seen at her niece’s and nephew’s soccer games in Vicksburg on her days off. After graduating in 2006, she received her certificate in dental hygienics from Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek. Elizabeth worked at TJ Maxx for 14 years. Elizabeth was preceded in death by her sister, Sarah Sehy, and nephew, Lane Sehy. She is survived by her parents, Henry and Anne (Shekleton) Sehy; siblings Monica (Scott) Triemstra and Nathan Sehy; nieces and nephews Reagan, Ian, Calvin, and Ava Triemstra and Colton Sehy; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Donations may go to St. Martin of Tours Parish.

Schoolcraft eyes hosting KRESA ‘Early On’ program

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft school district is looking into adding Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s “Early On” education program to the district. Elementary Principal Matt Webster gave a presentation on the service to the school board at its April meeting.

It’s intended as an early intervention system that helps with learning and development in children up to three years old. Early childhood teacher consultants, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists are on hand to coach parents in ways to support growth and school readiness through the children’s daily routines. As an example of the work they do, Webster said, a speech pathologist might teach games to parents that will help them grow the child’s vocabulary without the child even realizing it.

Webster said after diving into the data on incoming kindergarten students, he saw areas needing improvement that the Early On program could help with.

“That in my opinion is where this Early On opportunity comes in because we see young fives, kindergarten students, coming into the district who have this social, emotional, academic need, and until they come to us, that need hasn’t necessarily been addressed,” Webster said.

Partnering with the program would costs the district nothing. It would need only to provide space for sessions twice a week, lasting approximately an hour each. The benefit is not just in early child development; Webster sees it as an opportunity to connect with families earlier and possibly keep more in the district.

“If we can get to know this family early, there’s an earlier opportunity to intervene, an earlier opportunity to start providing some supports. I’m pretty excited about this,” Webster said.

If the district decides to support the program, it would be the southernmost participant in the county, providing a more convenient location for families from Schoolcraft, Vicksburg and Portage who currently must travel to West Main in Kalamazoo.

Webster noted that KRESA is also offering to help write up some grants to get some appropriate toys and equipment for the program.

Board President Jennifer Gottschalk and Treasurer Wade Rutkoskie both expressed support for the idea. Gottschalk encouraged Webster to look at the next steps in adopting the idea and come back to the board with more information when needed.

“I think it’s a good opportunity,” Gottschalk said. “I like that it is another chance to get younger kids in our school district because once again, bring them in young, they’re going to stay, and they’re going to go through our school district.”

Schoolcraft increases ordinance enforcement

By Rob Peterson

Schoolcraft village police will begin enforcing right of way regulations and some parts of the zoning ordinance on residential streets, taking over the role from village hall staff.

The changes mean that infractions will be enforceable immediately.

The right-of-way on residential streets extends 33 feet on either side of the centerline of the road and can include sidewalks and buried utilities requiring access. At times, accessing the utilities is an emergency situation.

Some property owners park their cars in the right-of-way, which can be a safety hazard, according to Village Manager Cheri Lutz. Some owners pave the land along the street, which can cause drainage issues for neighboring property, she said. And if a utility crew needs to dig where a car is parked, towing the vehicle is sometimes required if the owner isn’t available to move it.

Under prior council direction, staff was not as aggressive in enforcing these infractions, according to Lutz. “Schoolcraft is an attractive community, and having cars parked in front yards is negatively impacting the appearance.”

The current village council has asked staff to make the changes and increase enforcement. “We need to back the staff who are tasked with enforcing these ordinances,” said Council Member Michael Rochholz. “If we’re not going to enforce what we have, we should throw it all out.”

“Everyone is trying to be diplomatic,” said council President Keith Gunnett, “but it’s something we need to do.”

The Village will communicate the increased enforcement efforts through a newsletter and social media posts. Staff members will also work to be user-friendly and give residents time to make corrections.

Because the village includes many historic homes, some properties don’t have enough land for a driveway. For some, the location of a septic system makes a driveway impractical. Lutz indicated that the village will work with residents in situations like these to find alternatives or provide a waiver, if that’s appropriate.

“This will be fair and respectful,” said Lutz. “At the end of the day, it will make a positive difference.”

Residents can expect to see changes in the way these laws are enforced within the next few months. Those wishing to give their opinion on the matter may attend council meetings or write a letter to the Village.

In district four bowling, boys place third, girls tenth

By Mark Blentlinger

Schoolcraft’s boys began the Division 4 regional bowling championships in Jackson on a high note: On the first of four games, the team had a combined score of 819 with a high score of 192 from Kyle Fleck. On the second, they rolled an 823 with Max Desmond leading with 208. On the third, the Eagles rolled 820 with Fleck again leading with 179. In game four, the score was 866 with Desmond rolling 212, Fleck 206 for a team total of 3,328.

That left the Eagles 34 pins shy, finishing in third place behind Hackett Catholic Prep in second and Homer winning the regional.

Desmond and Fleck placed among the top 10 individuals; with Desmond in third, Fleck in fifth, sending them to individual state championships in Canton on March 27.

In that contest, Fleck ended up in 30th position against 60 other bowlers, rolling 1,019 with a high game of 199. Desmond ended up in 18th with a total pinball of 1,075 and a high game of 213. He was just 14 pins shy of moving on.

The Eagle girls’ team struggled on the lanes on their day, not really getting anything rolling. At this level, strikes are preferred but spares are a must, and with the oil pattern being pretty unforgiving, the Eagles struggled getting both. In game one, the Eagles rolled a 610 with senior Maya Pearce having a 149. Game two was 628 with Pearce leading again with a 151. The third game ended with 585; sophomore Catie Wright led the Eagles with 157. Game four, the best of the day, ended with 669; again, Maya Pearce rolled the high game with 181.

Hanover Horton walked out with the trophy, topping second place Bronson by 28 total pins, 3,172 to 3,144. The Eagles finished in 10th place with 2,492.

Boys’ and girls’ teams in past years competed on the same Friday in regionals, with the two three teams in both genders competing for a state championship on the following weekend. On Saturday, individuals competed for the Top 10 and competition for a state championship.

This year, Division 4 boys competed on Friday at the Jax 60 lanes in Jackson, while the girls competed Saturday. The MHSAA made other changes to the tournament format.

Eagle wrestlers: District champions

By Mark Blentlinger

Coach Rob Ling took his Eagle grapplers into district championships on March 20. The Eagles didn’t disappoint, beating White Pigeon 63-11 to emerge as district champions.

The team also crowned six individual district champions: Ryan Ling, Jett Gott, Tagg Gott, Jimmy Downs, Hunter Martens and Gary Cramer, and the Eagles sent 10 individual wrestlers to regional championships on March 27.

First the team had to wrestle at the regional team championships in Cassopolis on the 25th. The Eagles faced off against Lawton, the high school Eagles’ Coach Lings had attended. The Eagles came out on top, winning the regional championship, 36-31, with wins from wrestlers Calib Lipscomb, Gary Cramer, Riley Cochran, Jett Gott, Tagg Gott, Jimmy Downs and Connar Webb.

This win sent the Eagles to another team state championship on March 30th at the Wings Event Center. There, the wrestling season ended for both the Hudson Tigers and the Schoolcraft Eagles. Both teams had wrestled with an ineligible wrestler. Hudson had won the match 61-15.

On the 27th, it was the individual wrestlers’ turn, either to win a regional championship or head to state as an individual. Although no Eagles would be crowned regional champions, five punched their ticket to the state championships on April 2-3 at VanAndel Arena – Carsten Svoboda 103, Layne DeLoof 119, Gary Cramer 135, Tagg Gott 189 and Jimmy Downs 215.