By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Miniature Custom Manufacturing broke ground May 17 on a 30,000 square foot addition to its Leja Business Park site.
Co-owners Kevin Murphy and Steve Shoemaker called it a clear sign of the company’s success and their belief in investing in the future, adding that they’ve worked to build a culture based on their values of “people first, quality second and production third.” They attribute the company’s growth and success to a team whose members work tirelessly and support one another.
The addition, to be built by Kalamazoo-based Delta Design, is being financed in collaboration with the Village of Vicksburg, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Michigan First and First National Bank of Michigan.
In 2007, the two were looking for a facility that was affordable and would accommodate their machinery; Murphy says they looked for two or three months before they discovered an available space in the business park on Vicksburg’s west side. Village leaders Jim Mallery, Tim Frisbie and Ken Schippers made them feel welcome and helped connect them to resources. “We feel so lucky to be here. The village has been amazing to work with,” said Shoemaker.
Over the years, their automated injection molding company has grown. They have gradually added and accommodated new machinery. Business has gone from 49 employees in 2019 to 80 employees today, with 21 positions open and 10 to 15 more to be added by the year’s end. Murphy stressed, “We need people, and we train and compensate our employees well.” miniaturecustommfg.com.
By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
This issue marks one year without Sue Moore, and we at the South County News still feel the loss of our beloved editor and publisher. During the year, it’s been common for us to grapple with the answer to a question about our communities, businesses and organizations.
Sue would have known the answer in an instant.
We at the paper aren’t alone in missing Sue. Her family and close friends still expect to see her enter an event with her smile and trusty Canon camera. And the boards of several organizations are still learning to function without her. The Vicksburg Historical Society, the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, the Vicksburg Rotary Club, the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market – all these groups have experienced the hole left by Sue’s death. Her public-relations experience, her advertising expertise, her contagious positivity and energy, her countless connections throughout the state are all a memory and part of the legacy she leaves behind.
She made a difference and worked to make life better in south county. Our recognition of Sue’s many projects challenges us to honor her legacy through following her example and contributing to the success of our communities.
By John Kern
A joyful noise filled the air on the village’s northeast side in late May as an estimated 300-plus shoppers celebrated the start of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market’s 12th season at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion.
Market-goers were treated to a wide array of high-quality meat, cheese and poultry options, and a variety of fresh produce, prepared baked goods, soaps and personal care items and crafts.
Looking for a return to normalcy after last year’s COVID shortened season, the market’s board continues to explore how to best build on the legacy of community building, fun, and the celebration of local food producers that has developed over the years.
“The difference between shopping at the Farmers’ Market and any other grocery outlet is night and day,” said Board President Stella Shearer. “This is a unique opportunity for shoppers to get to know the people who are producing their food. The quality is higher, fresh items last longer and taste better. It’s a unique experience and certainly one that is not available to every community the size of Vicksburg.”
She went on to point out that the current board is charged with the task of perpetuating the work begun by a small group of like-minded individuals nearly 15 years ago who had a vision of creating a place for community members to gather and enjoy the bounty of the local area.
In honor of the one-year anniversary of market co-founder Sue Moore’s passing, green and white ribbons denoting her alma mater were displayed at entrances to the Pavilion.
The Pavilion is located at 300 Richardson Street, next to the Brady Township Hall.
As the area continues on the road back to normalcy, there are some considerations that shoppers need to bear in mind as they venture out to the market.
In keeping with the latest guidelines offered by the Center for Disease Control and County Health Department, masks for vendors and patrons are now optional. Picnic tables, however, will remain outside the pavilion on the adjacent lawn.
Construction along Spruce Street will continue to impact traffic flow to the parking area, but the board and village government have worked together to ensure that shoppers can get into the lot just as they have in the past, entering on Spruce and exiting onto Richardson Street.
There are a number of returning and new elements added to the Market for the 2021 season as well.
Music will be returning later in the season as will a version of the very popular Kids’ Plate program. The Vicksburg Schools’ Big Read Machine will also make regular appearances, as will weekly food trucks.
The Vicksburg Farmers’ Market is open every Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., mid-May through September.
The Market is also a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. Anyone interested in donating to the Market can contact the board through the market’s website at vicksburgfarmersmarket.com
Organizers of Vicksburg’s Old Car Festival are looking for volunteers to help out on Saturday, June 12
Volunteers are needed to direct cars to parking spots, working in teams of two. More will be asked to judge entries. Judging will replace people’s choice voting due to COVID requirements. And still more are needed to for a 30-minute teardown, involving folding chairs and tables, taking down pop-up canopies and moving sound equipment.
Volunteers are asked to call 269 649 0562 or 269 720 4144.
The volunteer schedule:
7:30-10 a.m. – Old Car parking directors
1 p.m. – Judging volunteers
3:30 p.m. – Tear down
The Annual Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation Duck Derby will be held in Clark Park on June 12 during the 40th Vicksburg Old Car Festival. The kids’ race will start at noon with the adult race to start at 1 p.m.
The kids’ race is a challenge among the district’s elementary classrooms; students from the classroom selling the most tickets will receive an ice cream token from Apple Knockers. That classroom will also host the coveted Duck Derby Trophy.
In the final race, the top 10 student ducks will receive prizes. First prize is a $100 gift card from Target. In the adult race, the top three adult ducks win $100, $75, and $50. Raffle tickets for both races are on sale now and may also be purchased before the race. Contact the Foundation office at 321-1006 for more information. Proceeds from this event help the Foundation and its financial support for the Vicksburg Community Schools for needs beyond traditional educational funding.
By Skip Knowles
When the Old Car Festival debuted 40 years ago, it was met with rain and thunder by Mother Nature, but 76 brave souls showed up in the rain and enjoyed the day. Since then, the Festival has grown to host as many as 1,300 cars. Since that first rainy day, we have only had one rain that caused us to close the show early with the threat of lightning and hail.
The Vicksburg Community Association has hosted the Festival since that very first year. It came about when people such as Knowles, Sue Moore, Mike Wunderlin, Dick Masse and others came together to help the village which was struggling, hosting an event to bring people to discover us. Community activities and volunteerism was down and the town needed a reason to give it a little spit and polish.
Historic-vintage vehicles like the Model T, hot rods and special-interest cars will one once again find their way to Vicksburg on Friday night and Saturday, June 11 and 12. The message from the Knowles family and their merry band of volunteers remains the same. The Old Car Festival is meant to be a very special day of fun in the Village. From its inception, there has been one main goal and that is to have a show where people interested in cars can gather their hobby and interest. For a long time, Chevy had this great slogan: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. That’s really what the Festival is all about – life in a small town! You might see a brass-era car built in 1910 all the way up to 2021 C-8 mid-engines Corvette.
The outside activities will be much the same as in years past. However, because of COVID and indoor requirements, we will not be having the Library book sale or the pancake breakfast at the Fire Station. We expect both to be back next year. The Historic Village will not be open this year because of COVID protocols but will be back next year for the Tin Can Tourists and Gas and Steam Engine Show.
Come join us for a fun day and a return to seeing friends in the Village!
Friday Night June 11
6-10 p.m.: The Cruise In as in years past
Saturday June 12
8am: Car Registration on Main Street
9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Vicksburg Old Car Festival, Downtown Vicksburg with Live Entertainment
9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Clark Park Arts and Craft Show, Prairie Street
9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Flea Market Swap Meet
1 p.m.: Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation Annual Duck Derby
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.
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Matthew & Myriah Bombich
College: Michigan Technological University
Significant Educator: Amanda Szczesny
Schoolcraft High School, KVCC
Parents: Amie & Jon Goldschmeding
Significant Educator: Melissa French
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Amy and David Green
College: Kalamazoo College
Significant Educator: Rachel King
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Joanne & Anthony Loriso
College: Illinois Institute of Technology
Major: Computer Science
Significant Educator: Lucas Wolthuis
Schoolcraft High School, KVCC
Parents: Marna Godby & Rusty Stitt
College: Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Significant Educator: Douglas Martin
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Steve & Theresa Thomas
Significant Educator: Amanda Sczcesny
By Maggie Snyder for the Vicksburg Historical Society
Maybe you do but didn’t know it.
When the Village of Vicksburg was platted in the 1840s, names had to be assigned to the streets. They were Water Street, Main Street, Pond Street and Townline Road running north and south; and Prairie Street, Washington Street, Brady Street, Park Street and Section Line Road running east and west.
Brady Street was probably named for General Hugh Brady – see last month’s article – but it was re-named Maple Street in 1902 at resident’s request. Why?
Maple Street school, Vicksburg’s second school, was located on the southeast corner of present-day Maple St. and Michigan Ave. A letter written by a pioneer family member and dated 1876 states, “…Last Saturday (a) week ago the School Board procured Maple and Elm Trees for all the Schollars and each one that was disposed set out a Centennial Tree on the School Ground upwards to 150 trees was set making our School Grounds when the trees get to growing one of the Finest in the Co.” No doubt those trees DID “get to growing”, so that by 1902 they were a fine sight and provided appreciated shade for those living on the street.
Pond Street was the original name of present-day Kalamazoo Avenue because it ran along the western edge of a body of water named Lake Vicksburg.
This lake, or pond, was located to the north and east of the present-day school Administration Building. Once the pond dried up into a swamp, its name hardly made sense, and it was renamed Kalamazoo Avenue – a choice requiring no particular thought or imagination.
Water Street was the original name for present-day South Michigan Avenue because its northern terminus was the mill pond occupied by John Vickers’ grist mill. However, after the mill burned down around 1900, the residents of the street petitioned the Village to change the name to Michigan Avenue. Why? Like Kalamazoo Avenue, it was an easily accepted alternative.
Townline Road, running along the line dividing Schoolcraft and Brady Townships, became Richardson Street in honor of one of the earliest pioneers in the area.
Gould Richardson came to Kalamazoo County in 1838 and by 1842 had accumulated enough money to build a frame house on Townline in Vicksburg.
According to a Vicksburg Commercial article, Richardson often worked on the interior of his house at night by candlelight. One evening he accidentally overturned a candle, setting his new house on fire. Despite his best efforts, the house was a total loss. And, to top it all off, he fell while carrying water to fight the fire and broke several ribs. Hearing of his troubles, merchants in Kalamazoo raised money to help him rebuild.
Richardson, his brother Solomon, his son John, and grandson Jerry were all involved in business in early Vicksburg and lived at one time or another on Townline Road. They planted and cared for the maple trees that still line the street today. In October of 1920, the close association of the Richardson family with that street led to the suggestion it be re-named to honor its part in Vicksburg’s history.
Did houses in the Village always have house numbers? No. House numbers weren’t needed until house-to-house mail delivery began in 1917. Previously, getting your mail meant a walk to the post office. Finally, residents got tired of the trek and asked the Village to petition the federal government for home delivery. The Village adopted the popular Philadelphia System that assigned a specific group of numbers to each consecutive residential block, starting from a central point. Street names were formalized, signs were ordered by the council and erected, house numbers were put up by homeowners, and house-to-house mail delivery began in the Village in May of 1917.
So what’s in a name – or number? Like everything else around us, the names of our streets and roads and the numbers on our houses all reflect our collective history, changing and growing over time.
Want to know more? Ask us at email@example.com.
The Vicksburg Historical Society (VHS) has won two grants totaling $1,000 from the Allstate Foundation to support this year’s programs.
The grants were made possible through volunteer efforts of Charlie Church, owner of the Allstate agency in Vicksburg. “The Historical Society is very grateful to Charlie for the volunteer hours he provides and his leadership as our society president. We thank The Allstate Foundation for these grants. They will be put to good use,” said Don Wiertella, a trustee of the society.
The Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grants must be used by the Historical Society as operating support or program funding, he said.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and to promote the safety of volunteers and visitors to the Historic Village, all programs in 2020 were greatly reduced or canceled. Two major fundraisers, the Harvest Festival and Winter Fund Raiser (Bake Sale), were canceled.
“The Vicksburg Historical Society depends on these fundraisers to meet financial needs and to provide programs free of charge to the folks in the greater Vicksburg Community. The Allstate Foundation Helping Hands Grants will allow the VHS to meet these needs,” said Wiertella.
The Allstate Foundation supports causes that agency owners, financial specialists and employees care about most by providing Helping Hands Grants to nonprofits where they volunteer their time to help communities thrive.
By Jim Hamrick
Vicksburg Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5189 was recently recognized for 75 years of service. The post’s emphasis has always been for service to veterans and community. Post membership has been too small to establish a canteen or club, so meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of each month in the Vicksburg Community Center.
Chartered in 1946, the post was named for Captain Charles Osborne, a medical doctor who served in the South Pacific during World War ll.
For the past 15 years, Commander Edward (Butch) Wesloski and Senior Vice Commander Robert Rainwater have led the post. Commander Wesloski oversees business and organizes meetings and funerals. Senior Vice Commander Rainwater organizes Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities. He also commands the Honor Guard that provides military honors (gun salutes) for deceased veterans.
Many activities had to be cancelled during 2020, so 2021 will be a busy catchup time. Significant dates for veterans and activities this year include: May 13-15, Buddy Poppy Sales; May 31, Memorial Day; June 14, Flag Day; July 4, Independence Day; November 11, Veterans Day.
The post’s biggest challenge today is an aging and declining membership. The group is seeking any eligible veterans who would like to serve veterans or the community. The post will pay an individual’s first year dues and will share the cost of a VFW Jacket.
If interested, call Jim Hamrick at 269-270-6579.