Community corner: Checking in on aging neighbors

By Sarah Cagney, South County Community Services

It is easy to get so caught up in our work, errands, and family life that we might not think about how our neighbors are doing. But now, more than ever, it is important to take a moment out of our day and check in on those who are vulnerable in our community.

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, and we have had to sustain a high level of stress for longer than anyone imagined. However, the toll on older adults has been the greatest. With roughly 800 older adults living alone in the South County area, and as the population continues to grow older, we are seeing more and more neighbors trying to find help for older adults who are struggling financially, who can’t get out of the house for food or medication, whose homes are in disrepair, or whose utilities are cut off for nonpayment.

Together, we can help our aging neighbors – a simple gesture of stopping by to say hello or making a quick phone call can make a big difference! A quick visit or call does more than providing an opportunity for you to say “hi.” It shows people that they are not alone, that they are part of a community that cares for them. It also gives you a chance to notice if there are needs that are not being met – like food, medication, or issues with unsafe housing. Most of all, it adds one more social connection to everyone’s life, that same “social connection” that studies again and again show is important for health, longevity, and happiness.

Making a friendly call or visit does not mean you are responsible or liable for your neighbor’s health or well-being, but our observations and compassion add a layer of safety, and usually are welcomed opportunities for social interaction.

Fred Rogers once said “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connect us as neighbors—in our way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” It is my hope that we can all look back and remember coming together as a community and helping our aging neighbors.

Ways to Help Our Aging Neighbors:

Introduce yourself and let them know who you are, where you live, and that you are happy to help if they ever need it.

Ask for their phone number, so you can check-in and say hello and if you are comfortable with the responsibility, provide your contact information in case of an emergency.

Offer to help with errands – deliver groceries; grab the mail; shovel snow; mow the lawn; make friendly visits just to talk.

If you find individuals need more support than you can offer, provide them with appropriate resources or refer them to community organizations like South County Community Services.

If you have imminent concerns about someone’s well-being, contact the police department and request a wellness check. Our police department is responsive and compassionate when they make wellness checks throughout the community.

Always call 911 in an emergency.

Sarah Cagney is the Senior Outreach Coordinator at South County Community Services. She has worked in the aging field for nearly 20 years and is a wife and mother of two children. She enjoys reading, being outside, watching hockey and spending time with family and friends. For more information on South County Community Services, please check out our Facebook at or follow the QR code to our website.

Marching bands converge on Vicksburg Oct. 12, 16

The sounds of marching bands – multiple marching bands – will return to Vicksburg Tuesday, Oct. 12, and again on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Vicksburg High School has again been asked by the Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association to serve as a host site for the District XI Marching Band Festival on Oct. 12. Between five and 11 marching bands are expected to participate. The public is invited to attend and concessions will be available. The schedule is on

That’s a prelude to the 6th Annual Vicksburg Bulldog Marching Band Invitational the afternoon and evening of Oct. 16, the first to be held in the renovated high school stadium.

Bands from 16 Class A-D schools are scheduled to perform in the competition, with more than 1,000 students expected to perform. Marching bands from area schools scheduled to attend include Schoolcraft, Portage Central, Three Rivers, Climax-Scotts, Mattawan, Otsego, Parchment, Kalamazoo Central and Comstock. Other schools registered for the event include Bronson, Springport, River Valley, Camden-Frontier, Hartford, Charlotte and Berrien Springs.

Following the competition portion of the event, the Vicksburg High School marching band, the Big Red Machine, will present its 2021 competition show as an exhibition. The host band does not compete with the invited bands for a rating.

Following the Vicksburg exhibition, drumlines of Vicksburg and another school will take center field for this year’s Drumline Face-Off feature, when it debuted in 2018.

The bands will be scored by a panel of judges on various criteria, such as music performance, marching accuracy, music effectiveness and visual effect. Music-themed trophies will be awarded to the bands placing first, second, and third in each class, and additional “hardware” will be going home with bands receiving the “caption award” in each class for Best Marching, Best Music, Best Percussion and Best Color Guard. The band with the top rating across all four classes will win a Grand Champion trophy.

Stadium gates will open for spectators at 2:30 p.m. The first competing band will perform at 3:15 p.m., and be followed by the other bands performing at approximately 15-minute intervals, with a short dinner break for judges built into the schedule. Awards ceremonies for the Class D and B bands will be held about 5:30 p.m., with the Class C and A bands awards to be presented following the Drumline Face-Off. When the complete schedule is finished it will be available on the internet at

The admission charge remains at $6; pre-school age children are admitted free. A keepsake print program will also be available at the admission gates for a nominal charge. A variety of food and beverages will be available throughout the event. On-site parking is available at the High School and the nearby Administration Building (Old El); and also at the adjacent Middle School accessed by the drive between the Administration Building and the Bus Garage. Overflow parking will be available on nearby neighborhood streets.

The Bulldog Invitational is a fundraiser for the Vicksburg Band Boosters, which sponsors the event. A strong showing of support for this event by fans of the participating bands, and by the Vicksburg area community sustain the Bulldog Invitational as a premiere annual scholastic marching band competition in this area.

Voting sites change for some

Schoolcraft Township Clerk Virginia Mongreig is reminding township residents that voting locations will change for some residents beginning with a county-wide ballot question on Nov. 2.

All township residents in the Schoolcraft school district will vote at the Township Hall, 50 East VW Avenue at 18th St. All township residents in the Vicksburg school district will vote at Vicksburg United Methodist Church, 127 S. Main St in downtown Vicksburg.

Kalamazoo County residents in the Nov. 2 election will decide on renewal of a tax of .3124 mills, 31.24 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation, for the Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority. The agency provides transit services including Metro Connect and Metro Share vans. Voters first approved the tax in 2016. It expires this year.

Although voters in three other Kalamazoo County communities will vote Nov. 2 on local ballot issues, there are no elections for local, state or federal offices.

Vicksburg volleyball having rough start to season

Vicksburg’s Lauren Lahrke, Avery Baker, and Chloe Phillips.

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity volleyball team is still bringing the energy like it usually does, but the only wins have come in non-conference tournament games against teams like Manchester and Kalamazoo Central. The team has yet to win a Wolverine Conference game. It’s safe to say it’s experiencing a few growing pains.

“We’re actually not that young, but we don’t have a lot of previous varsity players,” Head Coach Katrina Miller said after the Bulldogs lost in three straight sets to Niles. “We have girls that were on varsity last year but didn’t get a lot of playing time.”

The Bulldogs had a few points runs thanks to some great serving by Brooke Flintrop and Karyna Lewis. Unfortunately, the runs were short-lived as Vicksburg struggled to keep the Vikings off the scoreboard up front.

“We have a lot of energy and we’re working hard, but we just don’t quite have the size this year,” Miller said.

While the team scrambles – and they dig the ball well – that lack of size is making things problematic for blocking kill attempts from the other team up front, a growing pain they will have to learn to live with as the season goes on. Miller says they will continue working on it as the season progresses. She credited her team for not giving up.

“I’m proud of the girls. We lost to Edwardsburg last week, we lost to Niles tonight, but they just keep working hard. They just give me everything they can, even if they lose.”

Bulldog tennis improves

By Travis Smola

The Bulldog varsity tennis team had something of a rough start to the season. But it’s getting better.

The opening matches of the year were against Edwardsburg and Gull Lake in a tri-meet. Vicksburg lost to Gull Lake 7-1, with the lone victory coming for Jackson Bowles in the number one singles, 7-4 and 6-4. Edwardsburg shut out the Bulldogs despite a battle from number two single Nathaniel Klimek and the three doubles team of Jordan Diekman and Gabe Ryder.

The Bulldogs picked up their first team win of the year over Niles. Bowles won the number one singles 6-3, 6-0. Klimek took the number two singles 6-1, 6-1. Logan Schwenk dominated the number three singles 6-0, 6-0. And Harrison Barton took the number four singles 6-0, 6-0.

In doubles action, number ones Luke Wilson and Kyle Szdlowski picked up the win 6-4, 6-0. Number two team Jackson Aguillon and Travis Newton went 6-4, 6-3 over their Viking opponents. Diekman and Ryder took the number three doubles in the toughest matchup of the night at 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Freshmen Sawyer Kite and Caden Town won the number four doubles 6-4, 6-4.

At the Shamrock Tournament the boys had a strong showing with the team defeating Buchanan 7-1, and Three Rivers 5-3. They came up against a tough Berrien Springs team there and Bowles was the only Bulldog to come out with a win.

Vicksburg defeated Paw Paw and Plainwell 5-3 in their next two head-to-head matchups before dropping their most recent matchup to Hackett 6-2. In that matchup, Diekman and Ryder and Kite and Town were the only Bulldogs to come away victorious.

The team only has a few more matchups left in the season before Conference play.

Vicksburg Sports Teams


Coralee Pearl Behr, 67, Vicksburg, passed away September 14, 2021. She was born on July 24, 1954 in Lansing, the daughter of Robert and Lois (Evert) Fulton. Coralee married Daniel Behr; together they raised sons Aaron, Andrew and Adam. Daughters Lydia, Danae, and Stacey were added to her family, followed by grandchildren Lillianna, Autumn, Willow, Olivery, Gabby and Jeremiah, continually influenced and guided by Coralee and her faith. Above all else, Coralee’s faith and relationship with God was the guiding influence in her life. Those who knew her well could be confident she taught the lesson to love one another with no expectation for return. Visit her page at

William F. Brumleve, 78, Vicksburg, passed away on September 27, 2021. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Frank and Leona Brumleve. He attended Trinity High School and Bellarmine College (now University) in Louisville and served in the U.S. Air Force for four years. While stationed at Empire Air Force Station in Empire, Mich., he met the love of his life, Patricia “Patt” Hittle. They were married at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Traverse City in June of 1964. In 1966, they moved to Portage, where he worked for General Motors as a steel system analyst for 38 years. Bill served on the Vicksburg Village Council and Planning Commission. He did volunteer ground work for the Vicksburg District Library. He was an active member of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church. Bill is survived by his wife of 57 years, Patt; children Douglas (Aimee) Brumleve, of Manistee; and Theresa (Jon) Sabo, of Virginia; grandchildren Sean (Abbey) Sabo and Allison Sabo; sisters Carol (Jimmy) Neece and Margaret (Jim Ed) England, both of Kentucky; brothers-in-law Dick Hittle, of Detroit and John Hittle, of Lake Orion; and his beloved dog, Sophie. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Jeannie Brumleve. Visit his page at Donations may go to Kairos Dwelling and St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church.

Eric L. Crawford, 41, Vicksburg, passed away at home surrounded by his family following a battle with colon cancer. Eric was born February 9, 1980, the son of Michelle “Missy” Crawford and Timothy Laboch. Eric was a 1999 Vicksburg High School graduate and grew up at Lemon Park, Indian Lake. Eric enjoyed all the typical water activities, trick skiing, and riding his wave runner. Eric played hockey and was an avid hockey fan. Eric was a member of the Low Down Custom Car Club and was proud of his 1996 Jimmy. Eric was employed at Hertz Rent-a-Car at the Kalamazoo Airport and then at JRS Rettenmaier as a material handler. Eric enjoyed restoring cars, fire trucks and military equipment with his Papa. He also enjoyed flying in his Papa’s seaplane off Indian Lake, a nightly tradition for them. He and Cindy Sherburn were married on October 1, 2005. Eric’s family includes his wife, Cindy Crawford; daughter Hayden; mother Michelle “Missy” Crawford (Armando Blanco); uncle Dean (Vivian) Crawford; his parents-in-law Vada and Dale Sherburn; grandmother-in-law Laurel Sherburn; sisters-in-law and their families Shelli (Mark) Candey and their kids Griffin (Susan), Taylor, Nicolas, Lindsey (Jim) and Tracy (Dan) Abbott and their kids Kayla, Kyle (Megan), and Nik; his special friends Dick VanLinder and Maurice and Judy Hovious. He was preceded in death by his grandparents Richard “Dick” and Shirley Crawford. Donations may go to the Colon Cancer Coalition. Visit his page at

Beverly Anne (Jones) Goldsmith passed away in Portage on September 27, 2021. Bev was born on September 16, 1933 in Boonville, Ind. to Homer (Jack) and Margaret (Davis) Jones. The small family lived in Indiana during Bev’s early years and then moved to Portage. Bev excelled in school, graduating from Portage High School in 1951, receiving her varsity letters in basketball, volleyball and tennis. Bev attended Western Michigan College (WMU), where she met John Alton Goldsmith of Vicksburg, and they were soon married. They eventually settled in Portage and started a family. John and Bev divorced a few years later, and Bev raised both her sons alone. Bev worked for many years as a paralegal for the Legal Aid Bureau of Kalamazoo County. Bev enjoyed a long life of social activities, family time and working in her gardens, and she loved spending time with her granddaughter, Jessica. Bev had many health problems the last several years of her life, but her fierce determination, fortitude and resilience never left her. Bev is survived by her granddaughter, Jessica Eleanor Goldsmith; daughter-in-law Carol (Resseguie) Goldsmith-Moore; as well as her cousins’ children. She was preceded in death by her parents; sons Chip and Kevin; cousins Robert and Gary; and other aunts and uncles. Donations in Bev’s memory may be made to Kindred Hospice. Visit her page at

Mel E. Payne, 70, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully on September 18, 2021. Mel was born on November 7, 1950, in Kalamazoo, the son of Marie (Kinser) and Clifton Payne. He was married to Coleen Payne (Campbell) on August 7, 1976. Mel joined the Salvation Army and served in the U.S. Army. He enjoyed singing and playing the guitar, was an avid bowler and fisherman, and played cribbage. Left to cherish his loving memory is his spouse of 45 years, Coleen; children Kevin (Teresa) Payne and Colette (Andy) Axe; brother Terry Payne; very special cousin Larry Warner; grandsons Josh Axe, Bryton Payne, and Kaeden Payne; in-laws Kat Campbell, Barb (John) Krueger, Jim (Terri) Campbell, and Kevin Campbell; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins as well as his canine companion, Honey. Mel was preceded in passing by parents Marie and Clifton Payne. Donations may go to Glenn Arbor Hospice of Battle Creek. Visit Mel’s page at

Ronald Roger Rhoades, 65, Schoolcraft, passed away July 30, 2021. Ronald was born in Dowagiac on February 9, 1956, the son of Clarence Nelson Rhoades and Dorothy Marie (Reish) Rhoades. On July 23, 1977, in Marcellus, he married the love of his life, Pamela Joyce Stuck, who survives him. Ronald was a foundry worker for many years, although his true passion was farming. Ronald loved spending time with his family and anything to do with the outdoors. Ronald is survived by his wife, Pamela Joyce Rhoades; daughter Amanda (Michael) Grunwell of Schoolcraft; Jason (Janice) Rhoades of Marcellus; granddaughters Kerstin and Keiauna Rhoades; siblings Sandy (Dale) Davidhizar of Jones, Don (Cindy) Rhoades of Lawton, Jeff (Lisa) Rhoades of Marcellus, Bruce Rhoades of Schoolcraft; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Ronald was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Dorothy Rhoades; father-in-law Pete Stuck; and uncles Ken and Maynard Reish. Donations may go to CurePSP for the awareness, education, care and cure for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Visit his page at

Jennifer Rowe, 35, passed calmly in her loving family home on September 9, 2021. Jennifer was born December 26, 1985, the daughter of Scott Andrew and Mary Lynn Rowe, and grew up with her two sisters, Amanda Stone and Karrie Johnson. Jennifer graduated in 2005 from Vicksburg High School. She was a Special Olympics gold medalist and became a well-known local Michigan artist. She was a hard worker, loved music and was full of joy. She was preceded in death by her Grandma Delila, C.B. and Bertha Smith, and her great-grandmother, Mable Rowe. Jennifer is survived by her parents, her Grandma Faith, her sisters, aunts, and loving family member Amanda Conklin. Donations may go to Special Olympics – Kalamazoo County Area 16. Visit her page at

Deborah I. Shannon, 66, Schoolcraft, passed away September 9, 2021. Deb was born on June 11, 1955 to Duane and Evelyn (Yonokvitz) Soderquist. Deb is survived by her husband of 47 years, Rick; children Sarah (Mike) Zavoral, Joseph (Jolene) Shannon and Mary (Richard) Ditson; grandchildren Emily (Travis), Avery, Kaelen, Addison, Evelyn, Griffen, Gage, Garret, Grey, Aislyn and Olivia, Sophia, Evangeline and Daniel; father Duane; brothers David Soderquist and Richard Soderquist as well as several nieces and nephews. Deb was preceded in death by her mother, Evelyn, her brother, Wayne Soderquist and son Daniel. Deb was a faithful follower of Jesus. She was a loving mother and a devoted grandmother and enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren. She has bookcases full of books and would use books to minister to people. She was a charitable, humble woman who gave without expecting anything in return. Donations may go to Catholic Charities of Kalamazoo. Visit her page at

John H. Skinner II, 79, Schoolcraft, passed away August 31, 2021, with his wife and daughters by his side. John was born February 17, 1942 in Sault Saint Marie to Jean (Palmer) and John Skinner. John graduated from Newberry High School in 1960 and proudly served in the US Army from 1967 to 1969. On December 20, 1967, he married the love of his life, Jacklyn (Maile) Skinner. John is survived by his wife of 53 years, Jackie; children Amy Kweton of Libertyville, Ill., Beth (Carl) Vause of Concord, Mass., Gary and Tim Brundige, both of Three Rivers; grandchildren Maya and Emmett Kweton, Catherine and Max Vause, Erika (Randy) Gose, Staci (Bryant) Haas, and Leah (Keith) Salzman; great grandchildren Lucas and Hayden Salzman, Miles, Deakon, Areanna Gose, and Connor, Landon, Bayleigh and Brayden Haas; sister Jean (Ed) Brondyke of Newberry Mich.; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. John was preceded in death by his parents and an infant brother. Donations may go to Hospice of Southwest Michigan. Visit his page at

David Weyenberg, 74, Vicksburg, passed away on September 8, 2021. He was born April 17, 1947 in Kalamazoo, the son of Theodore and Maxine (Derhammer) Weyenberg. He graduated from Portage Northern High School. He was an amazing mechanic, and his love of cars lasted his whole life. He enjoyed traveling and was happiest when surrounded by his family. David is survived by his wife of 53 years, Edie (Gasaway) Weyenberg; children Amy (Rick) Manchester and Melinda (Steve) St. Clair; grandchildren Ethan (Gabby), Alex (Shannon), Merrick (Falco), Hannah, and Parker; bonus grandchildren Erika from Finland, Kathi from Germany, Rebecca from Germany, Simone from Germany, and Jeremy from Germany; great grandchildren Nora and twins on the way; siblings Ronald (Alice) Weyenberg, and Mary Lou (Don) Oman; sister-in-law Irma Fox ; brother-in-law Ed (Pat) Gasaway; sister-in-law Terri Gasaway; and several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. David was preceded in death by his parents; brother Paul Weyenberg; brothers-in-law Dale Fox and Bert Gasaway. Visit his page at

Cindy Jo (Decker) Wilson, 63, Vicksburg, passed away peacefully September 2, 2021. She was born August 10, 1958, in Vicksburg, the daughter of Carl and Elizabeth Decker. Cindy began her career as a math tutor in the 80’s at KVCC. She earned an MBA and master’s in education and retired in 2016 as a tenured professor teaching statistics and finite math. She loved her family, friends, and dachshunds. Matt and Cindy regularly went to Eldora to watch NASCAR races. She owned and operated a NASCAR store, the Checker Flag, in Vicksburg. She was preceded in death by her parents, mother-in-law Jean Wilson, and older sister Carol Plantier. She is survived by her husband of 29 years, Matthew Wilson of Vicksburg; son Joe (Heather) Glidden; grandchildren Liam and Grace Glidden of Portage; mother and father-in-law John and Linda Wilson of Vicksburg; siblings Cheri (Mike) Rogers of Tennessee, Carla (Jim) Cox of Portage, Caryn (Dan) Zonyk of Vicksburg, and brother-in-law Loyd Plantier of Vicksburg; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Details regarding a celebration of life will be coming. Visit her page at

Joyce E. Wolthuis, 89, Schoolcraft, passed away September 12, 2021. Joyce was born in Kalamazoo on May 11, 1932, the daughter of John and Wilhelmina (Wiessner) Kroll. On May 23, 1952, she married John Wolthuis, who survives her. She worked for many years at the Upjohn Company. Joyce was an avid reader who especially liked Christian fiction. She was a devoted follower of Jesus and looked forward to worship every week at Texas Corners Bible Church, where she was a member. She was a collector of dolls and Holly Hobby figurines. Besides her husband, Joyce is survived by sons Steven (Deborah), Mark (Michele) and Timothy (Lynette) Wolthuis, all of Vicksburg; seven grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and countless friends. Joyce was preceded in death by her parents and an infant granddaughter. Donations may go to Kalamazoo Gospel Mission or Kindred Hospice, c/o Joldersma & Klein. Visit her page at

Methodist church makes gift to Vicksburg schools

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg United Methodist Church was recognized by Vicksburg Community Schools Board of Education for a significant financial gift to the district.

Superintendent Keevin O’Neill made the acknowledgment at the onset of the Sept. 13 board meeting. The announcement was met with a round of applause from audience and board members.

“I want to send a big thank you to the Vicksburg United Methodist Church, (as) the congregation, their foundation, donated $16,000 to our VCS elementary schools for teacher classroom supplies,” he said. “Thank you, VUMC, for this incredible gift that is so appreciated.”

VUMC Pastor Greg Culver said the church had the good fortune of being in a sound financial state. He said the $16,000 came from interest in the church’s endowment.

“Even during the pandemic, the stock market has done very well and our investments, which are through the United Methodist Foundation, have given a good return,” he said. “It’s been a hard year for teachers and we thought that with the stress teachers are under – we all know they pay out of their own pocket for school supplies – we just thought it would be a good boost for their morale.”

Culver said the church has had a longstanding relationship through the “Kids Hope” program with Tobey Elementary, so the opportunity to help all three of the district’s elementary school teachers was a logical next step.

He called the gift “a way to partner with the community and a way to maximize the opportunity” to positively impact students and their families.

“The companies that we’re invested in, that we got such strong results from, are ethical companies; that’s something to feel good about.”

He said there were no strings attached to the donation, which were earmarked to teachers at the Tobey, Indian Lake and Sunset Lake elementaries.

In a separate matter during the district’s September meeting, O’Neill said the district has upped the stakes in its effort to secure substitute teachers. He said daily, full-day and half-day rates have been raised from $75 to $85, and $45 to $55, respectively.

Long-term subs are paid $100 a day and $50 per half day, also a $10 increase.

There’s also an incentive for retired teachers. O’Neill said those rates are $85 full day and $55 half day. Retired teachers, however, are not eligible for long-term pay.

A newly created program pays substitutes a $100 bonus for 10 subbing jobs within the district in a month, $225 for 15 different jobs within a month and $400 for 20 or more different sub jobs in a month. Long-term subs do not qualify for the bonus pay, O’Neill said.

Downtown Vicksburg work to finish this season

By Jef Rietsma

Asphalt paving of Prairie between Richardson and Main in Vicksburg is scheduled to begin during the week ending Oct. 9, Village Manager Jim Mallery said.

“Everything is underground on Prairie and the restoration between Kalamazoo and Main streets will be “full-throttle ahead that week,” he said, adding he is anticipating curb construction on Prairie in the week of Oct. 11 or the beginning of the following week.

Mallery said Prairie should have completed curbs and a base layer of asphalt by the end of October, with similar work on Main Street 7-10 days behind that on Prairie.

“We’re still on schedule to be out of downtown this construction season. We’ll also be putting in the sewer and water lines on Washington Street between Main and Michigan,” he said.

Earlier, the manager had provided an update for other streets east of Main. Work related to the pavement base and leveling asphalt has been completed on Prairie from Davis to Wilson and on Wilson Street.

“Work is on schedule and we anticipate the downtown work to be completed, including the new streetscape, this construction season,” Mallery said.

Mallery described work on several portions of the project, starting with Spruce, Division and Pearl. Workers have paved Pearl and Division, and disability ramps on Pearl have been poured.

On Prairie from Davis to Wilson and on Wilson, work related to the pavement base and leveling asphalt has been completed. Workers have also finished asphalt pads and prepped driveway concrete pads. Construction crews have fixed two pads incorrectly prepped for asphalt when they should have been concrete, Mallery said.

Vicksburg Foundation offers businesses a boost

Neighbors complained of feral cats in an abandoned property but none have been found.

By Jef Rietsma

The Vicksburg Foundation has stepped up to provide a financial boost to downtown businesses impacted by the village’s months-long infrastructure project.

Village Manager Jim Mallery said the agenda for the village council’s Oct. 4 meeting included a matter related to a $56,000 gift to be shared with 20 businesses as partial compensation for depressed revenue during the seven-months-and-counting project.

He said the foundation put the village in charge of administering the funds, which was expected to happen following council approval. Mallery said he developed criteria to determine compensation based on the severity of impact.

“Out of 40 businesses, 20 filled out the grant application. The grants are anywhere from $1,000 to $4,500 apiece, depending on the length of time that their business was impacted,” he said. “The businesses near Kalamazoo and Prairie streets, for example, were most impacted because that intersection has been torn up the past six months and their access to parking is so limited already.”

Mallery further elaborated: “Walk-in, retail-type stores had a higher priority than places that operate based on appointments … the hair salon and massage, all of them had their financial impact minimized due to the fact the majority of their customers are by appointment,” he added, noting there were four levels of compensation. “The foundation is an incredible blessing for the community; they’ve kicked in matching grants with the athletic boosters in the past and the foundation just continues to show its all-in support for the village.”

The village Council approved the grant process at its Sept. 20 meeting, a day before grant applications were distributed, Mallery said. The deadline was Sept. 30. Mallery said he expects the funds to be distributed shortly after council approval.

Mallery said some businesses that received funds dedicated their allowance to other businesses that had a greater need for the aid. Mallery said the “pay it forward” concept was also witnessed when COVID-19 funds were distributed to downtown businesses late last year.

In an unrelated matter centering on an abandoned residence in the 400 block of East Prairie Street, Mallery said a follow-up to an initial investigation took place in late September.

Mallery said there hasn’t been water service to the house in at least 10 years and possibly as many as 15 years. Mallery said its taxes are up to date.

The matter was brought to the attention of village officials during their August meeting, as neighbors complained about the presence of feral cats and other wild animals on the property.

“It’s been referred to as ‘the cat house’ but both times we’ve been there, it’s been during the day and there’ve been no cats there,” Mallery said. “There is a hole in the foundation that, I think, they’ve treated with some type of foam product, but that house, in its current state, remains uninhabitable.”

Mallery said an improvement-action plan has been created and, based on what he has been told, steps are being taken to remedy the situation. A status check took place in late September and Mallery said he was not advised of any issues toward progress in compliance with the improvement-action plan.