Lions Club in Schoolcraft Cleans Up After Dogs

sch lions 4Walking the dog in Schoolcraft just got a little more pleasant. The Lions Club has purchased two dog waste receptacles at Leo Burch Park near the community library. They were installed by the village’s public works department at north and south ends of the park. The park is one of the club’s ongoing service projects which also includes support for the Cub Scouts, the food pantry, Easter Egg hunt and the Lions Club’s Sitemobile.

Shown in the photo are left to right: Kirk Bergland with his dog Jordie, Kelly Bergland, Cindy Miller, Eric Kent and Mollie Hartlieb. The duty of emptying both waste containers has fallen upon Kirk Bergland since he and Kelly live across from the park.

Leo Burch, for whom the park is named, was a founding member of the Schoolcraft Lions Club. Members of the club helped to raise funds in the 1960s to create the memorial. They asked the village to name the park after Burch because of his devotion and fine service to Schoolcraft.

Hauntingly Historic Schoolcraft Fundraiser

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Debra Christiansen reads from her manuscript on her walkthrough of the Schoolcraft cemetery.

Debra Christiansen thought she needed to practice her upcoming guided tours of the township cemetery. So she invited a few knowledgeable Schoolcraft historians on a preview of the tour she’ll offer as a fundraiser the first three Saturdays of October.

An extensive amount of research has gone into her presentation centered around Schoolcraft notables who are buried in the cemetery that fronts on U.S. 131. She isn’t revealing in advance the identities of the famous or infamous people in her presentation. But she includes some stories about the Spiritualist movement in Schoolcraft at the turn of the century, especially as they relate to activities at the Troxel House Hotel, now Bud’s Bar.

Part of her research dealt with the discovery of “seen forces” such as bacteria, and “unseen forces” such as electricity combined with the “new thought” that the dead don’t die, indicating that Victorians were forced to deal with death in a different way.

This excerpt from her dialogue speaks to the use of the color black.

“For women, the customs involved wearing heavy, concealing, black clothing, and the use of heavy veils of black crêpe. Special caps and bonnets, usually in black or other dark colors, went with these ensembles. There was mourning jewelry, often made of jet. Jewelry was also occasionally made from the hair of the deceased.

“It was thought that after a person died and before they reached the other side, they could possibly snatch the soul of their loved ones and take them with them. It was also thought that these souls in transition could not see the color black. So if you haven’t chosen to wear black today in our cemetery… Pity.

“Widows were expected to wear special clothes to indicate that they were in mourning for up to four years after the death, although a widow could choose to wear such attire for the rest of her life, as in the case of Queen Victoria. To change the costume earlier was considered disrespectful to the deceased and, if the widow was still young and attractive, suggestive of potential sexual promiscuity.

“Those subject to the rules were slowly allowed to re-introduce conventional clothing at specific times; such stages were known by such terms as ‘full mourning’, ‘half mourning’, and similar descriptions. For half mourning, muted colors. One color called heliotrope was named for a flower that is purple-ish. It could be introduced selectively.”

Tickets are for sale at pureschoolcraft.org for $20 each. There is a limit of 16 people per tour and 39 tickets have been sold thus far, Christiansen reported. The dates are October 7, 14 and 21, all at 1 and 4 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the Schoolcraft Community Library, Schoolcraft Ladies Library, Schoolcraft Historical Society.

Lions Polishing Headstones

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Lion’s Club member, Dick Pryor shows the headstone before mold, mildew and grime has been removed.

“We normally support living folks, not dead ones,” jokes Cindy Miller, president of the Schoolcraft Lions Club. Their newest project however is to clean all the veterans’ headstones in the Schoolcraft cemetery.

“It may take us up to a year,” Miller said. “We have organized two cleaning bees in September and will see how much we can get done this fall before the snow flies.”

Each club member who is helping has been asked to bring their own bucket with dish soap and a little bit of bleach in the water, a putty knife to chip away at the mold, a wire brush and protective gloves. They will be able to utilize a power sprayer when they get toward the newer area of the cemetery where there is water available.

Vicksburg Boil Water Edict

By Sue Moore

A boil-water alert for Vicksburg village residents went out on Friday, September 8 at 11:48 a.m. Residents and businesses were cleared to drink village water on Tuesday, Sept. 13, according to Village Manager Jim Mallery.

This type of notice has only gone out once before during the 25 years that Ken Schippers has been employed by the village as head of the Department of Public Works, village manager and in semi-retirement as the person responsible testing water quality. He routinely takes samples at five locations and sends them to a lab for sampling and reports the results to the state’s Department of Environment Quality (DEQ). A sample taken on Sept. 6 came back with a positive presence of coliform, a bacteria associated with animals’ intestinal tracts. Schippers took more samples on Thursday and Friday. They tested positive even though the village had started adding chlorine to the system at noon on Friday. Vicksburg does not chlorinate its water unless an emergency like this occurs.

Notification went out to schools, day care facilities, Kalamazoo Emergency Management and local businesses. A press release went out at 1:33 p.m. Sept. 8 to radio stations, TV and MLive. A notice was placed on the village’s Facebook page. Village officials were present at the high school Tailgate community celebration that Friday to answer questions. “Every tool in the bag was utilized,” Mallery told the Village Council at its Monday, Sept. 11 meeting.

Still there were some village residents who were unaware of the edict and unhappy about how they found out. “We are exploring additional ways to contact and reach out to our citizens,” Mallery said.

Schippers is investigating where the contamination might have occurred. In the meantime, the water will be treated for 30 days until Schippers and the DEQ are positive the coliform is completely abated.

Trustee Ron Smith encouraged the village to consider better signage downtown. He showed concern about the walkability and bicycling at three corners where it isn’t clear who has the right of way. The speed limit throughout the village is 25 mph, Mallery said. “My car goes 25 mph without even putting my foot on the gas,” Trustee Gail Reisterer said. Mallery agreed to look at options that might make intersections at Washington and S. Main, Kalamazoo and E. Prairie and Michigan and W. Prairie safer.

A community policing forum was announced for Monday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. at the District Library where citizens can attend and discuss concerns with the new police chief, Scott Sanderson.

Semipostal Stamp for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

USPS98STA003October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. To raise awareness the United States Postal Service has issued a semipostal stamp costing 60 cents, of which 11 cents will be donated to breast cancer programs. A booklet of 20 stamps will cost $12 instead of $9.80 for a booklet of 49-cent Forever stamps.

Beginning Sunday October 1 through Tuesday, October 31, the Vicksburg post office will be promoting the sale of the Breast Cancer semipostal stamp. The Vicksburg post office is one of several hundred in the Greater Michigan District participating in this event.

Postmaster Travis Graham said, “Our retail associates will wear breast cancer T-shirts in support of this important subject. Few things reach as many Americans each day as the U.S. mail. The Breast Cancer semipostal postage stamp provides an opportunity to raise money and awareness in support of important issues,” Graham said.

The pink Breast Cancer Research stamp was the first semipostal stamp in U.S. history when it was issued on July 29, 1998 at the White House.

Over a billion of these stamps have been sold. As of May 2017, the stamp has raised over $84.4 million for breast cancer research. The money funds research to detect and treat the disease, the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Legislation to extend the stamp through 2019 was signed by former President Barack Obama.

“Visit the Vicksburg post office and purchase pink to become a part of the continued fight for a worthy cause,” Graham said.

United Way Sponsors Fabulous Flapjack Breakfast

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David Sirotti cooks up pancakes at the 2016 Fabulous Flapjack breakfast.

By Sue Moore

Members of the Vicksburg United Way committee will re-organize for the 2017 campaign due to the departure of long-time chairperson Laura Howard. She served in that capacity for at least 15 years and sought to retire from the allocations and campaign committee. “We will keep things going but will miss Laura’s leadership,” said Carol Lohman, who has been a volunteer during most of Howard’s tenure.

New people are stepping up to help with the campaign, which kicks off on October 18. The committee is recruiting new members as well as launching the third annual Fabulous Flapjack Breakfast at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church from 7-10 a.m. on that day.

Vicksburg’s committee is a member of the United Way of the Kalamazoo Battle Creek Region campaign and contributes to the overall success of the bigger organization. The money raised by Vicksburg area volunteers is returned to the community for allocation to local nonprofit organizations.

In 2016, $12,650 was allocated from the Vicksburg campaign, with $11,000 going to South County Community Services for its senior outreach program. Another $1,750 went to Generous Hands Inc., for a new back-to-school effort to provide shoes for children enrolled in the backpack program at the beginning of the year. New shoes were provided to 85 children from 70 families. 154 students received school supplies from Generous Hands, according to Sheri Louis, executive director. The two nonprofits shared the expense of the event, including the shoes. They have also received monetary donations and school supplies from many businesses, organizations and churches in Vicksburg, Portage and Fulton, Louis said.

United Way Benefits South County Community Services

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Danna Downing, executive director of South County Community Services, receives a check from Laura Howard, Vicksburg’s United Way campaign chairperson in 2016. With her is Mike Larson, former head of the areawide Kalamazoo Battle Creek United Way, Alisha Siebers, an associate for corporate relations of the areawide agency; Diane Durian, Senior advocate for SCCS.

By Sue Moore

Mike and Gail Aitken are two people who have called on South County Community Services (SCCS) in the past. With support from a grant from the Vicksburg United Way Allocations Committee in 2016, the agency was able to hire Diane Durian as the senior outreach person who advocates for the Aitkens and many others who may need help with food, transportation, crisis intervention and financial assistance.

“I always have a listening ear” when working with seniors Durian said. “I’m looking out for their best interests with hands-on intervention when it is necessary. I feel that I can really make a difference through this program.”

In 2017 SCCS conducted interviews with area seniors, analyzed current and past emergency assistance records and has taken the information gathered by Durian to identify and prioritize senior needs for future programs. The SCCS Board will be using that information to create a guiding document for future services for seniors as it prepares the 2018 budget. “Diane has completed a monthly average of 40 sessions as senior outreach coordinator and her efforts have been invaluable for future planning,” said Downing.

SCCS receives about 50 percent of its funding from United Way. With United Way’s basic need support, SCCS increased Metro community service van rides by 48 percent, increased veteran assistance sessions by 44 percent as well as providing crisis intervention and financial assistance.

The local campaign for United Way has set its sights on a month-long effort to raise funds for the nonprofit agencies in the Vicksburg school district area. The campaign begins with the Fabulous Flapjack Breakfast on Wednesday, October 18 at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church from 7-10 am. The event is open to the public. It is a fun and festive affair that includes a great breakfast and flapjack flipping contests for entertainment. United Way pledges and donations of any amount are welcome that day. The official campaign in slated to end on Monday, November 20. “Every dollar counts” is this year’s rallying call.

United Way has changed its process to help residents understand how United Way works in the local community. All monies raised locally will be used locally except for overhead costs that support the local campaign. A 13 percent portion for professional staff time, print and social media support and administrative assistance provided by the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo’s regional campaign will be deducted from local monies raised. The Vicksburg Foundation, which contributed about 25 percent of the local monies in 2016 and the current members of the Vicksburg United Way committee are on record stating they are very pleased with the new arrangement.