Kalsee Credit Union prepares to open new location

Kalsee Credit Union’s drivethrough is nearly complete.

With much of the exterior work complete, Kalsee Credit Union is hoping to move into the building on North Main which housed a branch of PNC Bank – and housed several predecessor’s bank branches before that – by late September.

Carrie Boisonault, vice-president for marketing and business development, said the upgraded building “features an all-new drive-through canopy and state-of-the-art ATMs with a live, interactive video teller feature.” The lobby received a facelift, Boisonault said, with new flooring, equipment and teller line.

The branch manager will be a familiar face. Ryan Wagner was branch manager at the location when the last bank there closed. Wagner, the Kalsee executive added, was recruited “for his passion for the Vicksburg community.” Wagner, she said, is a village resident who serves on the board of directors of the Vicksburg Historical Society.

“Vicksburg exemplifies the Midwestern small town ideal,” said the credit union’s CEO, Matt Lahman of Schoolcraft. “The community is a great fit for the way we do business, where we get to know our members personally and invest ourselves in their financial well-being. It’s our privilege to contribute to the community’s growth and wellness.”

A previous Kalsee CEO who retired from that post is Rudy Callen, a Vicksburg resident and former Vicksburg school trustee.

The credit union’s Vicksburg branch lobby décor will include historical photographs of the building and a historical timeline.

Book sale returns to Vicksburg District Library

By Adrianne M. Schinkai, Head of Reference and Circulation Services, Vicksburg District Library

Patrons are enthusiastic with anticipation after the Vicksburg District Library announced the return of its annual book sale. The big event was canceled in 2020 and delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sale has traditionally been held in June to coincide with the annual car show downtown.

“COVID-19 cancelled our 2020 book sale and we were unsure it could happen during 2021,” said Eric Hansen, Vicksburg District Library director. “The whole situation has created numerous difficult questions. I have always assumed that occurring during the car show helped sales because of increased foot traffic in the village. However, this year we will see if the community will participate in the Book Sale even more when it occurs in October.”

One of the biggest concerns for the book sale is not just the safety and health of those who attend, but the volunteers who have worked hard to put everything together, Hansen said. This has been a main reason for the delay in the event’s return. “We have to consider how our volunteers could safely prepare for the sale. We also have to consider how many citizens will come to the sale. We are grateful to Gail Reisterer and her team of volunteers for coming to the library twice per month to sort books. They have had their work cut out for them.”

When the pandemic began, libraries across the state stopped taking donated items to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, when Vicksburg opened donations once more in mid-May, limits had to be set on the amounts that could be accepted at one time. “During 2020, we stored a large number of unsold books from the previous year. Then we had DVDs and CDs which had been weeded after not being checked out for years. The volunteers needed to sort all of this in preparation for the upcoming sale,” he adds.

Despite the hiccups, Hansen hopes for success with October’s event. “The book sale has always been a reliable source of income. The collected money helps ensure that our patron outreach programs are well funded!”

The Vicksburg District Library’s Annual Book Sale will be held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 8-9, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The sale will take place in its original location on the Library’s lower level. Only cash will be accepted for payment.

For interested patrons, there is still time to donate items. More information about donations and the sale can be found on the Library’s website at http://www.vicksburglibrary.org.

Getting to know the amazing green heron

By Jeanne Church

The first time I ever saw a green heron, I was vacationing in Florida. At the time, I thought all green herons must be Florida birds. I’d never seen one anywhere else before and I certainly never expected to see one in Michigan – until I did! 

Apparently, there are “resident” green herons and “migratory” green herons. Florida and a few other southern states have resident populations, but all the ones who aren’t residents start heading north in late winter and early spring to breed. The green herons here in Michigan will stay until October.

If you’ve never seen a green heron, it is comparable in size to a large crow and weighs about six ounces. Green herons have been described as small stocky birds with a deep green back, a reddish-brown neck and chest, orange or yellow eyes, and yellow to yellowish-orange legs that change to glossy orange during the breeding season. Personally, I’ve never really understood why they are even called green herons. They aren’t really green in the way that frogs are green or grass is green, so how did they get that name? 

The answer to my question came when I ran across an article that said the green on this heron’s back was an iridescence. Bingo!! An iridescent color would require sunlight to be apparent, and green herons spend most of their time in the shadowy recesses along riverbanks, streams and ponds where there is dense vegetation – and very little direct light. In that type of environment, it would be almost impossible to see any green iridescence! That said, even on the sunniest of summer days, I would not call a green heron green!

One of the most fascinating things I’ve learned about green herons is their unique ability to use tools! They are one of only a very few birds known to do this! A green heron will use tools such as crumbs, insects, earthworms, twigs or feathers as bait to lure a fish to the water’s surface. When a fish comes up to explore or nibble the heron’s bait, the green heron will plunge its head into the water and hopefully make a catch! If the bait floats away, the heron will retrieve it, reposition it, and wait until another fish comes along! One researcher observed a green heron reposition its bait 28 times before it finally caught a fish!

If a green heron happens to be having a very bad day of fishing, though, he will not go hungry. Instead, he will go looking for crayfish, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, frogs, rodents, and snakes to fill his belly. This is a very patient, adaptable and intelligent bird!

If you’ve never seen a green heron here in Michigan, there’s still time! You will need to tread softly, however, and carry a good pair of binoculars. Green herons are very secretive birds and once discovered will be easily spooked!

You can follow Jeanne on her blog: picturewalks.org

Franklin has ‘Monopoly’ on board games

Ken Franklin and some of his collection.

By Jef Rietsma

Collector? Ken Franklin

Collection? Board games

How did your collection begin? I’d have to preface my answer by saying I always loved TV game shows and I learned to read at an early age, so I became enamored with games from the time I was pretty young. The first game I remember was something my parents bought me, it was a 52-game chest. It was a little box game with lots of little pieces and rules to 52 different games. Most weren’t very fun but it included checkers, chess and so on. I loved to make up new games with those pieces. That’s what set me off, and I started collecting games, making games, writing them on notebook paper when I was bored in school. And I’ve done that all my life.

Did your ideas lead to development of any actual games? I designed a few computer games when the Apple II computer came out in 1980. I sold some shareware games when they came out in the early ‘90s. Calliope Games, a family game company, eventually signed me to a contract. Through research and development, “The Mansky Caper” became the first published game that I designed. The game “Imagineers” followed, then “Tsuro: Phoenix Rising.” “Back to the Future – Dice Through Time” was next.

How big is the game industry? The table-top board game industry is a $5 billion-a-year industry and there are 3,000 new games being published (put on store shelves) every year. For every one of those 3,000 that make it to a store shelf, there are 20 being pitched to designers.

How many games do you own? About 325.

Why do board games appeal to you? I enjoy the interaction with people. It’s a way to exhibit friendship, it’s a way to make new friends and interact with each other.

What games did you enjoy as a youngster? I didn’t have one in particular. I enjoyed a great variety. When I was 11, I learned about a guy named Sid Sackson, who was a game designer. He developed what are called bookshelf games and I started collecting them once I discovered them.

With a few exceptions, a lot of the games you own aren’t games most people would recognize. One of the things I enjoy about bringing people here for game night is I open their eyes to the fact that there are a lot of games that you don’t know about that are a lot of fun.

What’s an example? Double Double Dominoes. It’s a cross between Dominoes and Scrabble.

Footnotes: Franklin, 65, lives on South 27th Street. He retired after a 25-year career in the Army. He would go on to be affiliated with Dr. David Schriemer at Family Doctors of Vicksburg. For many years until COVID-19, Franklin hosted an every-other-week game night. He has issued a standing invitation for anyone to attend once it is safe to resume. For more information, check out “Franklin Farms Game Nights” on Facebook. “We want people to feel that they are at a place where they are welcome, where they are included, where they are valued and where their joy is important to everybody else,” Franklin said.

Come play with fiber arts!

Jodie Gerard, Sheril Jager Moore, Julie Renzema, Susan Chapman and Holly Jensen attending a monthly meeting.

At Harvest Fest a few years ago, a young girl saw Lisa Beams spinning and asked her, ‘Can I play that game?’ Lisa feels that playfulness captures the essence of their group.

Alisha Siebers, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

Jodie Gerard read about a drop spindle in a mystery novel. She was intrigued by the idea of spinning her own yarn. Her husband gave her a spindle for her birthday, but she didn’t know how to use it.

Enter the friendly folks at South County Fiber Arts, a part of the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. Jodie called them and they told her, “Come over – we can get you started.” Jodie was hooked; a month later she owned a spinning wheel, and today, five years later, she’s experimented with a wide range of fiber arts – preparing fleece to spin, spinning to make yarn, knitting with the yarn, weaving to create fabric and felting. Jodie explains that there are “endless possibilities of fibers, colors, and textures – and that’s just in making the yarn and felt. There are so many possibilities to being creative.”

The fiber arts are some of the most accessible, with something new to explore for people at all different levels. South County Fiber Arts members range from beginners to some who have been spinning for decades, all learning and solving creative challenges together. Sewing, knitting, and spinning circles have always had a social aspect, and the same tradition continues in our back yard. There’s a generosity and kindness in this group. They chat, bounce ideas off each other, and share their joys and sorrows, brainstorming together – about both their art and their lives.

The group experiments with reviving old-world crafts. Members have re-created ancient processes for creating hand-made decorative and functional objects. They’ve cleaned fleece by soaking it in a fermenting bath, have spun with drop spindles and with spinning wheels, and have recently been experimenting with a type of Scandinavian needle binding that pre-dates knitting called nälbinding. They are up for anything, including teaching kids how to make felt by beating the fiber with pool noodles and how to dye fabric with Kool-Aid. Lisa Beams, one of the organizers of the group, believes that there is something about fiber arts that is incredibly meditative. She explains, “You don’t need a fidget spinner when you can knit.” She finds that knitting helps her concentrate during meetings, and she even can knit and read at the same time!

At Harvest Fest a few years ago, a young girl saw Lisa spinning and asked her “Can I play that game?” Lisa feels that playfulness captures the essence of their group. You don’t need to be an expert to try fiber arts – just dive in and have fun. You’re welcome to come find out for yourself! When the weather is good, you can join them under the Pavilion at 300 N. Richardson, Vicksburg, on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. If you have questions, contact me at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center: Alisha@vicksburgarts.com.

Harvest Festival makes comeback in 2021

The Harvest Festival will return after a two-year hiatus for the 11th annual celebration.

Fantastic fun for the whole family, the Harvest Festival organized by the Vicksburg Historical Society, will be held on Sunday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Historic Village on N. Richardson Street. As always, it is a free event.

There will be free hay wagon rides pulled by a team of horses as well as tons of animals to pet and appreciate. The Depot Museum’s Ford Model A car will also be available for quick rides. There will be antique tractors on display from Dale Sult and the Kalamazoo Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Club.

A pumpkin decorating contest, and a secret word and secret picture search are available for the children. The secret word and picture search will take place on the day. There will be a pumpkin weight-guessing game and a 50/50 drawing which is a fundraiser for the Historical Society.

At the pavilion, visitors will find vendors from the Farmers’ Market, food trucks, and the local Rotary Club selling pumpkins and the Lions Club selling bratwursts. At the township hall, you can catch the latest speaker in the Speaker Series giving a presentation from 2-3 p.m.

The pumpkin decorating contest for children 5 to 12 years old requires entries to be delivered to the Depot Museum on Saturday, Sept. 25 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Applications for the pumpkin decorating contest will be available online at vicksburghistory.org and at the Depot Museum on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in September.

All the buildings in the Historic Village will be open for tours. Docents will explain the history of the print shop, general store, Doris Lee Sweet shop, schoolhouse, township hall, garage and farmhouse. The Vicksburg Historical Society and Historic Village are open during the fall on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. for researching and viewing the collection of artifacts at the Depot Museum and on the grounds.

Glenns celebrate 50 years of marriage

Ronald and Nancy (Herron) Glenn of Vicksburg will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Sept 25. Married in Kalamazoo at Trinity Lutheran Church in 1971, they were accompanied by Frank Phillips as best man and Nancy Thayer as maid of honor.

They have two sons, Ron and Todd Glenn, who live in Vicksburg with their families, including seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Ronald retired from Graphic Packaging in 2012 after working there for 34 ½ years. Nancy retired from Bronson Methodist Hospital in 2015.

They will celebrate the golden anniversary in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“God blessed you together these 50 years,
Full of laughter and tears.
Children and (great) grandchldren, family and friends,
A love for each other, a love without end.
Through commitment and love, God answered your prayers,
You help those in need, and always care.
May your blessings be bountiful and friendships grow,
You are loved by many, more than you know.”

Schoolcraft ag dealer honored for customer service

Farm Depot of Schoolcraft, an agricultural equipment sales and service center, recently achieved a five-star rating from AGCO Corporation’s Dealer Excellence Program, an annual dealer evaluation review.

Farm Depot was one of 19 dealers to receive the rating. Bill Hurley of AGCO presented Farm Depot with a plaque and financial award as recognition of its high marks in the program.

“We’re honored to receive this recognition and designation from AGCO,” Mike Laethem, manager of Farm Depot said. “I’m proud of the work our entire staff has done to earn it. We’ve worked hard to provide the highest-quality customer service, and we’re proud to stand among the best dealers in the U.S. and Canada.”

Farm Depot, a family owned and operated business, has been in business for over 77 years as an agricultural dealership. It maintains locations in Caro, Ionia and Schoolcraft.

Farm Depot has come a long way from the day Dick Laethem opened the doors in 1944 as the Laethem Farm Service Co., in Fairgrove, Michigan. Times were different: The phone number was 17 and the John Deere and Caterpillar tractors sat on the dirt floor of the store. Today, the showrooms are large and equipment includes Fendt, Challenger, RoGator, TerraGator, Massey Ferguson, Krone, Kubota and Kioti. Brothers Mark and Mike Laethem, Dick’s grandsons, carry on the tradition of running the family owned business today. Mike’s son, Blake, is now the fourth generation of Laethems in the family business.

Paula Schriemer winner of the 2021 Munn Award

Left to right: Paula Schriemer and Danna Downing.

Each year the Vicksburg Rotary Club identifies a resident from greater Vicksburg, a non-Rotarian who has made a major commitment to improving life in the Vicksburg area, to become a Rotary Mercer Munn Fellow.

This year’s recipient is Dr. Paula Schriemer. Her commitment includes a major role in creating Generous Hands, a Vicksburg non-profit agency which provides food packs for families with children on free and reduced school-lunch plans to help them get through the weekends.

In 2004, Dr. Schriemer was part of a 10-women Bible study group in search of a service project. The group was concerned about food scarcity issues members saw in the community and committed to trying to do something about the problem. Taking the name Generous Hands, it focused on providing and distributing the food packs. Under Paula’s leadership, members started small, distributing Friday Packs from a closet at Sunset Elementary.

Fast-forward to 2021 and Generous Hands is feeding 246 students each week across the Vicksburg Community Schools District. Ultimately Generous Hands won an award for Best New Non-Profit from Western Michigan University’s Non-profit Student Association and a Star Award from United Way.

She is married to Dr. David Schriemer; together they have three adult children: Daniel, Clara, and Anna. Paula grew up in suburban Detroit with her parents and two younger sisters. Upon graduation from high school, Paula was one of 50 persons selected for a six-year Integrated Premedical/Medical program at the University of Michigan.

She met her husband in her fourth year of the program. She was focused on anesthesiology; he was aiming to practice family medicine. Over three weeks in May and June of 1985, she and David got married, honeymooned, graduated from medical school and relocated to Charlottesville, Va. to start their residency programs.

The couple moved to Vicksburg in 1989. She worked full-time at Kalamazoo Anesthesiology for two years until their first child, Daniel, was born. Ever since, she has worked some formulation of part-time work and time raising their children. “Working made me a nicer mommy,” she said.

“Living in Vicksburg has been a joy,” Paula added. She and her family have loved living on the lake and has appreciated the “top-notch” school district. She believes residents value quality community life and Vicksburg is a place where “we take good care of our own.”

“Paula is a savvy woman,” according to Jan Modderman-Hui, current president of Generous Hands. “There is a fire burning inside her and it is great to work beside her fighting for justice and fairness to those who have a hardscrabble life,” she adds.

Sheri Louis, executive director at Generous Hands, said that like Mercer Munn, “Service Above Self” is also a way of life for Paula Schriemer. “Whether it is in her professional life showing empathy and compassion to her patients, serving in her church, or staying attentive to the needs of children in our community who face food insecurity, Paula goes above and beyond in her dedication to making things better.”

Since Paula has passed the gavel to Jan Modderman-Hui she has been instrumental in every new project, including The Period Project, which provides personal hygiene supplies for young women and their families, and The Blessing Boxes, which have been installed at Generous Hands and at a local housing location. Blessing Boxes provide healthy food on an as-needed basis. Paula also leads board education activities at the agency and is an accessible and supportive mentor wherever she is in the community.

The mission of Generous Hands is an easy sell,” Paula said. “Who could say NO to “can you help feed hungry kids in Vicksburg?” The organization’s stunning outcomes prove that virtually no one can say no.

When asked why she was prompted to work on Generous Hands, Paula ticked off five reasons:

• “It was an obvious need in the community.

• “It was a group project with people I loved.

• “I am very goal-directed. All through my life I have worked for long-term goals and pushed through the hard parts, trusting help would be given when needed.

• “As a mom, the issue of children’s health has been laid on my heart, no matter whose kids they are.

• “Early in my medical training ‘the patient comes first’ was instilled in me. That means no matter how you feel – tired, hungry, whatever – you still do your best to care for the person in front of you. That has spilled over into other facets of my life.”

The club will invest $500 in her honor into its endowment fund held with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

In the 62 years that Mercer Munn spent in the Vicksburg club, he exemplified all that is best in Rotary. To him “Service above Self” was not a slogan; it was simply a way of life. It was impossible to separate Mercer’s Christian humility and compassion from his Rotary determination. If there was something in our community to be fixed, helped, or healed, you would usually find that Mercer Munn was part of the solution. Munn was a special person, respected and treasured by all who knew him. He continues to set the bar for community involvement long past his time with us. The Mercer Munn Fellow award continues to honor his leadership and inspire all who live in the Vicksburg community.

Danna Downing awarded Rotary Hero Award

The Vicksburg Rotary Club recognized member Danna Downing as this year’s Hero, one who lives the Rotary concept of “Service Above Self.” Every Rotary event, activity, and meeting benefits from the contributions offered by Danna Downing. Her actions in the Rotary and the community at large have exemplified the Rotary concept of Service Above Self. When serving as the club treasurer, Danna perceived a need to continue raising revenue for the Club’s Polio Fund. During the last year of social distancing and electronic meetings, she assembled a can and bottle drive which has raised $1,515 to date. For years before that, Danna worked to contribute to the community as the director of South County Community Services. Outgoing Vicksburg Rotary President Mary Marshall describes Danna in two words: “gracious dynamo.”