Dr. Evan Fitzgerald Joins Bronson Family Medicine

Dr. Fitz 2By Sue Moore

Two new doctors at one time for Bronson Family Medicine-Vicksburg will be a big help to the community in serving its medical care needs, said Linda Hutchinson, director of practice operations from Bronson Medical Group. Dr. Evan Fitzgerald and Dr. Matt Miller are the most recent recruits to the family practice.

Dr. Karl Kerchief plans to retire at the end of December after 30 years of serving patients, leaving Dr. David Schriemer as the senior physician on staff.

This family practice has a rich history in Vicksburg, having been formed 108 years ago by Dr. Z.L. Gilding. He was succeeded by his son, Dr. Joe Gilding then Drs. Paul Chapman, Rodney Rodgers and Lloyd Appell. These doctors were dedicated to community service during their many years in the practice.. Besides joining service clubs and participating in many events, nearly every family practice doctor became a member of the School Board, guiding the growth and development of education in Vicksburg as a primary objective. Bronson Healthcare purchased the practice in 2018 and has been a big help in recruiting new physicians to Vicksburg.

Fitzgerald said he was looking for a position in southwestern Michigan after finishing his residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Va. “I interviewed with Bronson and really liked the opportunity. It fit with what I wanted in a small-town practice, having grown up in Dexter, Mich. until going away to college at Miami University of Ohio.”

Majoring in engineering and applied physics, his first job out of college was with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Washington D.C. He stayed there for seven years helping people run experiments, while wanting something different in his life. Thus, the pull to go to medical school at Ohio State University because he was looking for something more out of his career. He does acknowledge the need to show loyalty to the University of Michigan while in Ohio because his hometown of Dexter was so close to Ann Arbor.

Upon graduation he did his internship in Virginia and residency at a large family practice in Fairfax, all the while knowing he would like to work in a smaller setting where he could feel like he was making a difference. “I wanted a family practice where I could become a part of the community, take care of everybody with lots of different things [illnesses] to see in a more rural setting,” he said. “The challenge is to stay up to date in medicine and do as much as we can before moving patients on to specialists if it does become necessary.”

He and Dr. Miller are both accepting new patients while dividing up the patient load from the soon to be retired Dr. Kerchief. A letter has been sent to his patients to give them an opportunity to decide which new doctor they want to be taking over their health care needs.

New Doctor at Bronson Comes Back to Hometown

Dr. Miller
Dr. Matt Miller in the reception area of Bronson Family Medicine – Vicksburg.

By Sue Moore

“Everyone should have the same access to quality health care,” says Dr. Matt Miller, the new recruit at Bronson Family Medicine – Vicksburg.

“I love to care for families from joy to sorrow. It’s great to be a partner, to build rapport. It’s not always about medicine. I like to listen so my patients feel validated,” Miller emphasizes. “I always want to be advocating for a better quality of life for whatever the patient needs.”

“I see myself as the quarterback for the patient, looking at the big picture, making sure the medications work together well. If there is a problem within the system, I’ll fight for my patient. It’s important to also learn to work within the bureaucracy.”

Dr. Miller has been in practice in VanWert, Ohio in recent years. The decision to move to Vicksburg’s primary care practice was easier for him because he is a native of this area and a Vicksburg High School graduate.

His mother and dad are still living in Scotts on the family homestead. Howard and Gayle Miller have four children, with Matt being the youngest. He says he has wanted to be a doctor since he was in sixth grade. It just might be that he was a bit influenced by his mother who worked for 20 or more years as an LPN at what was then Bronson Vicksburg Hospital. He has a sister, Laura, who is a retired nurse, another sister, Karen, who doesn’t like the sight of blood, and a brother, Tim, who excelled in football while in Vicksburg High School and at Olivet College. He now teaches industrial arts in Williamston.

Miller said his oldest son, Daniel, 16, told him, “Dad, it’s not something I want to do [move], but if it’s for the family, I’ll do it,” when he was factoring in all the aspects of leaving his friends behind in Ohio. Daniel’s oldest sister, Erin, is out of the nest and Luke (14) and Emma (13) have all started school this fall at Heritage Christian. Their mom, Martha, was teaching school at a private Christian school right after college and is now teaching Bible school in their new church in Portage. Her mother, Gertie or Gertrude, 91, moved with the family to come to this area – as long as she could stay close to the grandchildren she is happy. She is originally from Detroit and has made friends at church and is deeply involved in a Bible study group.

Coach Ed Knapp at VHS had an abiding influence on Miller, he says. He played football for him and was on the wrestling team. “He inspired me to always be better and not let down; just follow your dreams. Mine were to go to med school, so I found a good pre-med offering at Indiana Wesleyan University, then Wayne State for medical training and St. Francis Hospital in Indiana for my residency in family practice.” He also had a fellowship in Ob/Gyn practice at the University of Tennessee. He started at Forest City, a small town in Arkansas, where he delivered babies as a mainstay of his practice.

“My parents did a lot for me growing up. Now its my turn to help them out,” Miller explains. “Besides, Dr. Schriemer has been a mentor to me. I owe him a lot too and I’ll be closer to my family.”

Dr. Miller won’t be the only new doctor in the Vicksburg practice. Dr. Evan Fitzgerald also started in October. Both are accepting new patients and picking up those of Dr. Karl Kerchief, who is retiring in December.

Frank Woodhams Celebrates 100 Years

frank woodhamsBy Sue Moore

Frank Woodhams turned 100 on November 2 with family coming to Vicksburg from the far reaches of the country for a luncheon in his honor. His son, Terry Woodhams, of Blackhawk, Calif. says his father has proven many things throughout his life. He is “the best example of that proven adage that age is only a number. He has good looks, health, wealth and a stellar reputation.”

He was raised on the family farm of 180 acres at the south end of Austin Lake by parents Alfred and Ada Woodhams. His brothers were Russ and Max and a sister, Martha. His uncle was Irv Woodhams, who taught Frank how to fly when he was 21. Soon after, he joined the Army Air Corps and flew military gliders and C-47’s. He accomplished 58 combat missions in World War II and returned home as a 1st lieutenant. Over the past 40 years, Frank has been a private pilot and has flown his Piper Cherokee to countless locations. He continued to fly at 99 years old and soon after decided to sell his plane.

Frank married Geraleen Shirah on June 17, 1944 and they were married for 60 years according to son Terry. His brothers are Larry who lives in South Pasadena, Florida and William Woodhams of Whitehall, Mich. Unfortunately, Geraleen passed away in 2004.

Frank started Prairie Feed & Grain in 1962 and sold it in 1980.  The company was located on W Avenue between Schoolcraft and Vicksburg.  Frank lives in the home he and Geraleen purchased after he returned from WWII.

There are two granddaughters, a grandson and six great grandchildren.

Veterans Day Observance in Vicksburg

The bugler from VFW Post 5189 played Taps at the 2018 Veteran’s Day observance.

Captain Jon Pridgeon will be the guest speaker for the Veterans Day Program on November 11 at 11 a.m. The program will be held at Oswalt Park in Vicksburg, sponsored by the Village of Vicksburg and VFW Post 5189. Previously Capt. Pridgeon flew Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers in the 74th Air Refueling Squadron at Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. He has flown sorties supporting Operation Enduring Freedom; Operation Iraqi Freedom; and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Currently Capt. Pridgeon is assigned to the 110th Air Wing in Battle Creek. His civilian status is flying Boeing 737 passenger planes with Delta Airlines. He resides in Schoolcraft with his wife and son. His wife Kenzi was the guest speaker on Memorial Day in 2016 for the VFW. She is the daughter of Jan and Denny McNally of Schoolcraft.

Each year the 4th graders at Sunset Lake Elementary walk to Oswalt Park and when the Star Spangled Banner is played they sign it instead of sing the national anthem as they have learned how to do this in class.

Boy Scouts of Troop 251 present the colors of each armed forces unit to the strains of each unit’s fight song. The morning observance ends with Taps, played by a student from the high school band. Then the members of VFW Post 5189 fire three volleys in honor of the fallen soldiers.

Vicksburg Cultural Art Center Opens Studios Revealed

By Brian Berheide, VCAC Director

How do you know when something is art? How do you know when something is science? Can something be both? The Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center’s new exhibit, Studios Revealed, will answer these questions and more.

Studios Revealed takes a deep look into a medium of fine art and examines the how science and art intersect during the creative process. For this first year of the project, the VCAC’s exhibit will feature the medium of glass – specifically glassblowing and lampworking.

The VCAC is extremely fortunate to feature the work of Judith Konesni and Michael Fortin of Avolio GlassWerks in Kalamazoo. Their work has been internationally featured at museums and galleries as well as in other private and public installations.

The artists have been developing the exhibit with a local production team featuring Helen Kleczynski as curative director, Bonnie Moser as film director-producer, Tracy Klinesteker as graphic designer, and Zachary Perry and Zoie Moser as filmmakers, photograpers and editors.

The exhibit will feature the process of glassblowing and lampworking, and visitors will have a chance to see how an art piece begins as raw material and through the interplay of art and science, arrives as a finished piece of fine art. Exhibit-goers will get a chance to examine the raw materials and the tools used in creating pieces as well as enjoy an in-depth, behind-the-scenes documentary shot at the artists’ studio, to learn from the artists and witness the entire process.

There will be a large exhibit-opening event on Sunday, November 24th from 2-6 p.m. at the VCAC gallery on 105 S. Main. Guests will have a chance to meet the artists, view live demonstrations, have some refreshments, and purchase some of the beautiful glass art pieces on display. Judith and Michael will also return to the exhibit on Saturday, December 14th during Christmas in the Village from 2-6 p.m. to meet and provide an opportunity to purchase additional pieces.

The exhibit will be up through the middle of March, 2020. In the meantime, after the opening, the next phase of Studios Revealed will be getting underway. With a focus on the marriage of art and science, the Studios Revealed project aligns with the educational curriculums of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.). This gives the VCAC a wonderful opportunity for educational outreach. The Center has developed a mobile version of the exhibit that it will be taking to local area classrooms in the spring of 2020. Students will be able to interact with glass art as they examine the glass art process from the perspectives of artists and scientists.

Don’t miss your chance to see this beautiful and fascinating exhibit opening and be a part of the vibrant Vicksburg arts and culture scene. Additional gallery hours will be announced after the opening on the website and social media. To learn more about this new and biggest exhibit yet, the VCAC organization, or to become a member, please contact check out their website at vicksburgarts.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Taylor VanSchoick’s Positive Outlook Battles Cancer

By Linda Lane

When Taylor VanSchoick rises in the morning, he makes his bed and pushes himself to get moving, knowing he’ll feel better if he does. This young man who turned 29 in mid-October never complains, never feels sorry for himself. He sees himself as “a really lucky guy.”

That’s remarkable for a young man who has battled cancer three times over the past 15 years.

“Oh, what I love most about Tay,” mused his mom, Patsy VanSchoick, “is his amazing outlook and joy for life. It doesn’t matter what you go through in life, it’s about finding the joy in every day. He’s here with us, and today’s a good day,” Patsy said.

Lovingly dubbed “Tay” by his family, his cancer started in middle school with a malignant brain tumor. Before 8th grade, Taylor had two brain surgeries, underwent six months of daily chemotherapy and radiation for six weeks. Taylor lives with numerous side effects from surgeries and chemotherapy but would rather make the most of everything he still has instead of complaining over anything he’s lost.

“He just never complains. Even when he was young, I didn’t know Tay lived with constant ringing in his ears, because he simply would not complain,” Patsy said. “You’d never know some of the deficits he has lived with, like hearing loss, double vision, even learning to walk again.”

Taylor graduated from Vicksburg High School in 2009 and became an EMT with Pride Care in Kalamazoo and a fire fighter with the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority. But Taylor found another goal: to become a diesel mechanic. He quit his two jobs and moved to Naperville, Ill. to become a certified diesel mechanic. Halfway into the program, Taylor had a sinus infection which wouldn’t go away. An MRI revealed a tumor behind his left eye in the ethmoid sinus. Taylor was referred to the University of Michigan Hospital where doctors told him if they had to remove the tumor surgically, they would also have to remove his eye. Instead he took a “radiation vacation,” consisting of eight weeks of radiation and three weeks of chemo. The rigorous treatment worked and the cancer was gone without surgery.

“We’ve had so much fun—not in spite of, but because of cancer,” Patsy said. Tay’s family made trips to Ann Arbor fun adventures, going to a local brewery, enjoying Michigan basketball games, and other local events.

Taylor became a diesel mechanic and started his new job with FreightLiner of Kalamazoo. The difficult cancer treatments caused double vision. A neuro-ophthalmologist performed surgery on his eyes and corrected the problem.

In January of this year, Taylor bought a house. But in April, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and later discovered the cancer was back. It had metastasized to his lungs. It was a rare cancer; the tumors were too big to operate. Taylor again did three more rounds of a new chemotherapy over the course of nine weeks. The cancer still grew.

U of M Hospital didn’t have any treatment options left to help Taylor, so the VanSchoicks traveled to other cancer specialists at The University of San Diego, MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, and Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University searching for different options and potential treatments.
Costs for Taylor’s cancer treatments have mounted, with travel expenses adding to the high health care costs. The cancer treatments have left Taylor unable to work, forcing him to pick up COBRA expenses to maintain his health care coverage. To support the VanSchoicks and Taylor financially, friends and family organized a golf outing fundraiser at the end of summer, with 128 people participating and 30 volunteers.

The VanSchoicks remain positive about the future. While Tay is still getting chemo every three weeks at Wayne State, they’re hopeful he may start new treatment with an inhibitor drug to stop the growth of cancer cells, and possibly immunotherapy. They’ll travel back out to San Diego in December to learn the results of some immune and genetic testing. For now, Tay is finding a way to live with cancer. But the VanSchoick family believes the future may pose hope with new treatments or drugs to help with his rare cancer.

“He’s really amazing. He’s had brain cancer, cancer behind his eye, and now lung cancer, but he tells me, ‘Mom, I’m pretty lucky! It’s not if I beat it. It’s WHEN I beat it!’ He’s still got stuff he wants to do!” Patsy said.

People can follow Taylor’s journey on Facebook “Team Taylor VanSchoick.” They’ll find Taylor’s positive attitude pervading updates, such as “p.s. no sad faces, no ‘I’m sorry’s’, no downers allowed. We have EVERYTHING to be grateful for and nothing to be sad about!”

Donations may be made to Taylor to assist him with medical and travel expenses at:

Winner of Hobby Horse

rocking horse raffleAlthough the Vicksburg Historical Society’s 10th annual Harvest Festival was rained out, it went ahead with the drawing for the hobby horse. Ryan Wagner won the decorated cards that were handmade by Sue Ploski and donated to the raffle. Dana Schmitt Wagner won the Main Street Pub’s gift certificate with the big prize going to Brandie Bulock. She is shown here with her son Povlock helping to unload the creation made by Glen Blinn who donated it to the Historical Society. Over $3,000 was raised to go toward renovating the interior of the Model T that is owned by the Society.