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HORIZONS

2013

Stories of our young and old, our businesses, our successes, our history, our beliefs, our daily lives ... our communities’ foundations

Elite cheerleading teams engage local spirit … page 14

Downtown areas don’t give up the fight … page 75

Church leader shares the path to a spiritual life …. page 96

Airports keep Southwest Michigan flying high … page 31


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Horizons 2013

NILES COMMUNITY SCHOOLS www.nilesschools.org

M

Building a Foundation for Our Future

aking a decision about where you send your child to school is about more than textbooks, bricks, and mortar. It is about providing the vital preparation necessary to ensure success as they take their place in the world. At Niles Community Schools your child is important to us. You are important to us. We will work together with you for the best education for your child.

We offer: • The option of all day/every day kindergarten or half day/every day kindergarten • Comprehensive preK- 12 education and college preparation • W-A-Y Niles and W-A-Y Forward Programs: W-A-Y Forward is our Middle School Program and W-A-Y Niles is our high school program. Students become researchers at home or at school with an iMac workstation and Internet connectivity provided by Niles Community Schools; educational support 24/7, 365 days a year. Students in the W-A-Y Niles Program earn high school credit. • Niles New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy offers one of the most exciting new concepts in secondary education with Project Based Learning and One- to- One Laptops • Niles High School offers Blended Classrooms which will combine face- to- face learning with instructors with an online learning experience that mirrors the college experience • Eastside Connections School is a magnet school grades K-6 focusing on high student achievement and a rich culture of high expectations. • Career Technical Education for school- to- work skills and employment preparation • Early College Academy where students can earn college credits while still in high school • Non-Traditional learning options. We partner with the Home School Community as well as continue to provide our award winning Alternative High School and Adult Education Programs Niles Community Schools offers the most innovative options in education. Please call us today at 269.683.0732. Stop in or arrange a visit to talk to us about what Niles Community Schools can offer you and your child and let us show you how we “inspire locally to excel globally.” Now, more than ever, Niles Community Schools is the right choice.

21st Century Learning....TODAY!


Horizons 2013

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4

Index

Horizons 2013

Table of contents

For Fun .... 7

From car enthusiasts to antique hunters, and from opportunities for self discovery to pushing the limits of endurance, SW Michigan offers activities to fill leisure time

Our Youth .... 17 From students who must decide where their futures are to others who work to overcome handicaps, each must reach beyond themselves to brighter horizons

Business .... 31 From local airports to founding a recycling industry to expansions in health care, businesses keep Southwest Michigan relevant

Our History .... 43 From stories of ghosts to history lessons from Chapin mansion, communities build on the work of past generations

Fur and Farm .... 55 From animal shelters to dairies and stables, Southwest Michigan depends on animals to make lives happier

On Stage .... 66 New homes for theatrical events allow new talent to rise and find their place on the world’s stage

Our Economy .... 76 While downtown districts are struggling for expansion, workers struggle to make sense of a frail economy

Our Faith .... 91 Leaders and followers of many religions provide a spiritual foundation that reaches out to the community when in need

Cover photo “Goodyear Blimp at the Niles Airport” by Dave Coulston Coulston took this photo at sunset when the Goodyear blimp was moored at Tyler Memorial Airport in Niles. It was an entry in Leader Publication’s 2012 Year in Review photo contest.


Horizons 2013

For Community Support!

By Giving Over... • $3.1 million to Advantages for Education program for local schools. • Nearly $2 million to child abuse prevention programs raised during Roofsit • Over $500,000 to churches, schools and other non-profit groups with our “Food Funds” fundraising program • College scholarships annually for employees and children of employees • Plus, ongoing support to area food pantries, little leagues, and many other community non-profit organizations!

Martin’s commitment to our communities began more  than 65 years ago with our founders, Martin & Jane Tarnow.  It continues today as our company’s main philosophy. Your locally-owned grocery store that has been investing in our communities for over 65 years!

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6

Antiques

Crooked Lakes Association 269-424-3419

Polk Properties, LLC Round Lake Chalets Round Lake Rentals Shady Shores Resort Sleepy Knoll Cabins Vorreyer’s Cottages

Auto Repairs

Farm Market

Cabin Antiques & Gifts 269-591-9185

Associations

Quality Marathon

Baked Goods

Myers Super Valu JoHo’s

Banking

Chemical Bank

269- 944-3228 269-424-5219 269-424-5053 269-944-1451

Boats/Sales/Repair/Storage/ Rentals

JD’s Marina 269-463-6511 Lake Effect Power Sports 269-944-5577 Midway Marine 269-424-5649 The Lakes Marine 269-424-3100

Cable/Internet

Sister Lakes Cable TV

Camping

Shady Shores Resort

269-424-5737 269-424-5251

Canoe Rental

Doe-Wah-Jack’s Canoe Rental 269-782-7410

Car Wash

Sister Lakes Car Wash

269-424-5219

Clubs

Dowagiac Conservation Club 269-782-5508 Sister Lakes Lions Club 269-424-9382

Construction

M4 Construction

Cottages/Homes

708-925-4362

Happy Landing Lake Rentals 919-544-4659 Magician Lake Vacation Homes 269-424-5436

305-282-9256 269-687-9227 269-325-7769 269-424-5251 847-867-6503 269-424-5562

Piggotts Farm Market 269-876-9269 Schilke’s Corner Market & Greenhouse 269-944-3324 Silverstone Farms 269-424-5300

Furniture

Imperial Furniture

269-782-5020

Gas Station/Convenience Store Quality Marathon TSB Marathon

269-944-3228 269-424-5129

Gift Shop

Cabin Antiques & Gifts 269-591-9185 Driftwood Summer Shop 269-424-3342 Sew Many Pleasures 269-424-3467

Golf

Indian Lake Hills Golf Course 269-782-2540 Spruce Ridge Golf Course 269-782-5827

Greenhouses

Silverstone Gardens 269-463-5245 Schilke’s Corner Market & Greenhouse 269-944-3324

Groceries

Myers Super Valu

269-424-5219

Hardware

Sister Lakes Servistar Hardware

Horizons 2013

Ice Cream

Driftwood Summer Shop 269-424-3342 JoHo’s 269-424-5053

Insurance

Kemner-Iott Agency

269-445-2425

Landscaping/Lawn Mowing

H&H Landscaping 269-484-4672 Mitchell’s Lawn Care & Ladnscape 269-876-0308 Scott’s Turf & Landscaping 269-591-5069 Tony’s Landscaping & Housekeeping Service 269-208-9645

License/Fishing/Hunting Quality Marathon Sister Lakes Servistar Hardware

269-944-3228 269-424-5775

Marine Service, Parts, Sales Moore’s Service

Oil Change Oil Can Alley

Ramona Recreation, Inc.

Salon/Nails

Mane Attraction

Septic & Port-A-Potties Haley’s Septic Service

Piers

Quality Marathon Scott’s Turf & Landscaping

269-463-6511 269-424-3400 269-424-7048 269-424-5430 269-424-5053 269-621-3101 269-424-3241

Baymount Inn & Suites 269-782-4270

House Cleaning

Rental Management Management Plus

269-782-6332

Small Fruits Nursery/ Fresh Produce

Mitchell Lawn Care & Landscape

BT’s JoHo’s Keeler Keg & Kitchen Lakeview Inn

269-782-2707

Snowplowing

J Miles & Son Painting Co. 269-424-6103

Pizza

269-424-5736

269-782-6860

Hotel

269-424-3056

Roller Skating

Painting

JD’s Marina The Dock Shop The Pier Guy

269-424-5430 269-424-7010 269-424-5053 269-621-3101 269-424-3241 269-944-1462 269-782-6362 269-782-5070

Daisy Farms 269-782-6321 Krohne Plant Farms, Inc. 269-424-5423

Cressy & Everett Real Estate 269-424-5500 Jerdon Real Estate 269-782-4000 Matthew’s Real Estate 269-782-2400

M&A Cleaning

BT’s Corner Café Joho’s Keeler Keg & Kitchen Lakeview Inn The Wright Place Timberline Inn Zeke’s

269-424-3699

Real Estate 269-424-5775

Restaurants

269-424-3056

Travel Trailer Park Shady Shores Resort

Used Car Sales Jake’s Enterprises

Vinyl Signs

Creative Vinyl Signs

269-876-0308 269-944-3228 269-591-5069 269-424-5251 269-208-6235 269-782-2833

Wakeboards/Lessons/ Skateboards The Boarder Line

Well Drilling

Dohm Well Drilling

269-424-6800

269-782-5818


Horizons 2013

FOR FUN By CRAIG HAUPERT

For Fun

7

Passions for the future: From car enthusiasts to antique hunters, from opportunities for self discovery to pushing the limits of endurance, Southwest Michigan offers activities to fill leisure time

craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

Car crazed

Southwestern Michigan loves its automobiles. You don’t have to look too far for proof as cruise-ins and car shows are popping up all over Berrien and Cass counties. The Bring It Cruise In and Car Show, held weekly in downtown Niles during the summer months, drew crowds by the hundreds — sometimes over a thousand — last year. Nearby cities of Buchanan, Cassopolis and Dowagiac hold their own summer car shows, although on a much smaller scale.

Auto enthusiasts share their passion on downtown streets

See CARS, page 8

A 2012 Kar Club evening was photographed from the entrance of Olfactory Hue in Niles. Leader photo/ LISA CROTEAU


8

For Fun

CARS

Continued from page 7 Dowagiac’s Rod & Roll Classic Auto Show and Buchanan’s Great Cruise In are both oneday events. Marc Milhander, coowner of The Kar Club Inc., in Niles, said he’s not surprised of the popularity of the car show scene. “ T h e re ’ s a ve r y large community — not only of people who own muscle cars and classic cars — but of people that enjoy the idea of a mainstreet event that is a bit of a spectacle,” he said. “When you have live music and other sorts of entertainment like we do (during Bring It Cruise In and Car Show), it appeals to a

wide variety of people.” The Kar Club Inc. started the Bring It Cruise In and Car Show on a trial basis in Niles in 2011. Based on the popularity of the early events, organizers obtained permission from city officials to offer the cruise in every Wednesday from June to August of 2012. Although he doesn’t keep an official track of attendance, Milhander estimates that hundreds of people attended each event last year. He said they had over 1,000 people and over 200 cars at the final event of the year. “It was amazing,” he said. The Bring It Cruise In and Car Show is returning this year for 13 Wednesday-night

Horizons 2013 Marc Milhander is co-founder of The Kar Club Inc. in Niles. Leader file photo

Get your ‘gearhead’ on

events from June 5 to Aug. 28. Organizers are in the middle of booking quality bands in anticipating increased attendance. For those who can’t wait until summer to get their car fix, the Bring It Kar Club holds a monthly “gearhead breakfast,” where like-

minded folks can talk shop. Milhander said there’s plenty of “gearheads” in Southwestern Michigan. “I think it’s always been popular,” Milhander said. “People who are gearhead oriented have always wanted to get their

hands dirty and enjoyed doing that sort of thing. “The idea of having an interesting vehicle starts out pretty early in life for many, many young men and women. That interest stays around for a lifetime for many of us, myself included.”

Niles What: Bring It Cruise In and Car Show When: Wednesday nights, June 5 to Aug. 28 Where: Downtown Niles Dowagiac What: Rod & Roll Classic Auto Show When: Aug. 17 Where: Downtown Dowagiac

Berrien County Sheriff’s Department CRIME PREVENTION UNIT 919 Port Street St. Joseph, Michigan 49085

(269) 983-7141 ext. 7221 Sheriff L. Paul Bailey

klaesch@berriencounty.org Crime Prevention Programs Enhance the Quality of Life for Berrien County Residents!

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Contact

Deputy Kelly Laesch Crime Prevention Coordinator

Deputy Kelly Laesch


Horizons 2013

For Fun

9

Antique hunters take aim in SW Michigan With the area’s rich history, it’s probably not surprising the antique business is alive and well in Southwest Michigan. While there’s an antique store to be found in nearly every community, the greatest concentration are in Niles with the Buchanan and Dowagiac communities also having shops specializing in some sort of antiques.

In Niles, the “granddaddy” of the antique stores is the Four Flags Antique Mall located in the old Montgomery Ward store on North Second Street. The antique mall opened 30 years ago and is home to 60 or so antique dealers from around the area. Mall manager Linda Kubiak said the first floor of the building is entirely antiques while the upstairs has a combination of antiques and year-round decorations, including home decor and seasonal items. Visitors may have a hard time getting past the country store setting at the front of the building. It’s there

Alley Katz is a popular stop in Niles. Leader file photo

where people can find not only antique items in the country style but also Amish jams, jellies, candies, salsas and saltwater taffy. Eve r y w h e re yo u look inside the mall, you’ll find an intriguing mix of vintage and antique items. What m i g h t l o o k l i ke a hodge-podge at first glance is actually a treasure trove of antique items in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. “We always have a diverse inventory,” Kubiak said. “We have dealers in everything from oak furniture to primitives to glassware. Almost anybody can find something, a n d t h e i nve n to r y

By DEBRA HAIGHT Special to Leader Publications

Linda Kubiak, left, manages the Four Flags Antique Mall, which is home to many collectables, above. Leader photos/ DEBRA HAIGHT

changes regularly.” She noted that the mall’s inventory is so well-known and popular that she has dealers

who come from all over the country to find merchandise. “I have dealers who come yearly from all over the country, as far away as Colorado, Florida, out East,” she said. “They come here to replenish their own stock.”

Centrally located

She thinks Niles become known as antique capital of area because of

has the the its

central location. “We have Indianapolis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Kalamazoo around us, and we’re in the middle of all of it,” she said. As for the Four Flags Antique Mall, she says the building has good vibes. “We have the original hardwood floors, and they still creak. People also still remember coming into the store as kids when

it was Montgomery Ward. It has a good family feeling.” Another of the Niles area antique stores is the Michiana Antique Mall owned by John Kirk. It’s located on South 11th Street in southern Niles Township as is Picker’s Paradise. Michiana Antique Mall is home to 85 dealers and has been in business for 25 years. Kirk says he thinks Niles has become the “go to” place for antiques because there are so many different antique stores and shops in the local area. “There are so many places to shop and

See ANTIQUES, page 10


10

For Fun

Horizons 2013

Candles and collectables can be found at Red Raven in Dowagiac. Leader file photo

ANTIQUES Continued from page 9 they’re so close together, it ends up being better business for everybody,” he said. While most of his customers are from a 100-mile radius, he does get buses once in a while bringing people in from a greater distance. “We have bus loads of people who come several times a year,” he said. “Niles has a reputation for being the place to go for antiques.” Other antique shops and stores in the greater Niles area include three newer stores: the Main Street Antique Mall on Main Street as well as Alley Katz and Cross the Street Antiques, both on North Second Street. Buchanan offers a different type of antiques with the opening of stores by former and current Chicago residents in the past five or so years. Alan Robandt started the “Chicago revolution” when he moved to town in 2006 and b e ga n re s to r i n g a downtown building. He opened it as an antique store in 2008.

The Tipsy Gypsy, above, offers many opportunities to discover antique finds while in Dowagiac.

Historic settings

Like Niles, a good part of the appeal in Buchanan is its history. Both the Niles and Buchanan downtowns have achieved recognition as National Historic Register districts, which, if nothing else, highlights the value each city places on history. Robandt certainly is in that category. His work to get his building recognized on the National Register of Historic Places was the catalyst for the city to pursue doing the same for the downtown district. He bought the Union Block building in 2006 and began restoring it to be the home of his antique business, which opened in 2008. His store concentrates on home furnishings, including furniture, mirrors and light fixtures and is replenished regularly with his trips back into Chicago as well as to s h ows a ro u n d t h e country. His clientele includes people who came to his store in Chicago, second-home owners who live in the area, South Bend-area residents as well as some local residents. His interest in antiques began years ago when he thought it

Leader file photo

Alan Robandt, left, has worked to put Buchanan’s historic status on the map. Leader photo /DEBRA HAIGHT

was a fun way to make a living and liked the thrill of the hunt , which has deepened over the years. Like many others, he also has a longtime interest

in history. Besides the places mentioned above, Buchanan offers Dean’s Antiques and Front, while Dowagiac has several stores that sell

antique, vintage and shabby chic items. They include Laurie Anne’s, Tipsy Gypsy, the Red Raven, the Hairitage, Glamour Plus and Oh My.

Niles has a reputation for being the place to go for antiques. — John Kirk, owner of Michiana Antique Mall


Horizons 2013 By CRAIG HAUPERT

For Fun craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

11

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FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT™ FOR HEALTHY LIVING FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Five Pines Ministries’ outdoor climbing tower rises to 50 feet If you build it, they will come. A few miles north of Niles, Five Pines Ministries is preparing to build one of the tallest climbing towers in Michigan — Goliath the Giant. The 50-foot outdoor climbing tower is to replace a retired 28-foot tower used in the Five Pines Ministries’ outdoor education adventure programs. It will be open to anyone interested, whether they come from Niles, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg or beyond. “The impact is not only on the state of Michigan — it’s much farther,” said Michael Holets, executive director of Five Pines Ministries in Berrien Center. “We’ve been looking at who would use this and I am thinking everything from ROTC, to Boy Scouts, to climbing clubs at colleges, to area schools — it’s limitless.”

To the MAX

In 1995, Five Pines developed a

program that uses experiential education to allow students to be challenged in character and team building, as well as problem solving. The MAX Program (Maximum Adventure eXperience) uses group cooperatives, including low ropes initiatives, a high ropes course and zip line, new “Tall Tree” climb and a climbing/ rappeling tower. Each year, 1,600 students from 42 surrounding schools, primarily from Southwest Michigan, participate in the program. “We use challenge-based learning techniques, perceived risk, group processing, group contract and, of course, elements such as the climbing tower to challenge students outside of their comfort zones,” Holets said. “This tower will be the centerpiece of our program that will impact thousands of kids. Our programs offer participants an exhilaSee TOWER, page 12

WE ARE HERE FOR OUR COMMUNITY At the Y we offer: • Adult Wellness Center • 2 Swimming Pools • Indoor Track • Fitness Equipment Orientations • Personal Training • Nutritional Counseling • Group Exercise Classes • Swim Lessons

• Dance • Gymnastics • Youth Sports • Licensed Pre-School • Babysitting • Seasonal Youth Camps • Summer Day Camps • Programming for Special Populations

NILES-BUCHANAN YMCA 905 N Front St Niles, MI 49120 269-683-1552 www.nb-ymca.com LIKE US

ON FACEBOOK


12

For Fun

TOWER

Continued from page 11 rating experience that truly will increase their knowledge, develop new skills and clarify values.”

Goliath the Giant

The tower will stand 65-feet tall, over six stories high. “It will be the tallest building in Berrien Center,” Holets said. A sloping cement slab will surround it to move water away from the structure. The durable tonguein-groove outer design allows climbing holds to be easily repositioned, creating many climbing options of various degrees of difficulty. Holets said this will

accommodate beginner climbers up to experts, with one climb featuring an 11-degree negative incline. “If you don’t have the right shoes and some chalk to climb that is going to be very difficult,” he said. “Because of that, I think we will see people coming from Indiana and Illinois, even Ohio.” The tower will also include two faces for rappeling. Also included is a covered top deck and lighting for night climbing. Surrounding the structure will be a covered observation stand, for debriefs after the climb. “We dreamed of everything that we wanted in a tower. This is a unique, one-of-a-kind tower. There is no other tower like this out there,” Holets said.

Horizons 2013

Design plans have been drawn for “Goliath the Giant.” Securing funding

The tower is expected to cost around $94,000. Holets said they’ve secured most of the funding. The tower has already been

designed by Exquisite Homes Design Services. Holets said the structure would take about two months to build. He anticipates construction to begin sometime this spring.

Five Pines Ministries is located at 6597 Smith Road in Berrien Center. For more information on Goliath the Giant, visit www.fivepines.org.

Looking for Something To Do Rain or Shine? curious kids’ museum 415 Lake Blvd. • St. Joseph • (269) 983-CKID (2543)

curious kids’ Discovery Zone 333 Broad St. • St. Joseph Located below the Bluff at Silver Beach Center with the Silver Beach Carousel

Visit website for summer camp info, seasonal hours and admission rates!

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Horizons 2013

50

For Fun

13

Hales True Value Serving the Dowagiac Area for over 50 Years!

56216 M-51 S Dowagiac, MI • Phone: 782-3426 Open daily 8:30 to 8 P.M., Sunday til 5 P.M.


14

For Fun

Scream for the Elite

By SCOTT NOVAK

Cheerleading goes to the extreme A p r o g ra m t h a t started out 50 years ago in baton twirling has developed into a successful competitive cheerleading program in Niles. Niles Elite Cheerleading, a subsidiary of Young Champions, was founded in Grand Rapids 50 years ago, according to director Jami Mason. “That spread throughout the state,” Mason said of the Young Champions. “As

Horizons 2013 scott.novak@leaderpub.com

Nearly 200 girls and boys participate in the program and range in ages from 4 to 18. The eight teams are known as the Twinkles, Starlights, Shining Stars, Shooting Stars, Lime, Red, Silver and Black.

that kind of fell out of favor, cheerleading kind of became the new ‘in’ thing. So probably about 20 years ago, they started doing cheerleading classes throughout the state.” Mason started coaching the Niles program about 15 years ago. “We started in the schools, pretty much like all the other programs do,” she said. “It kind of evolved from there. We started out

Photo provided

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Horizons 2013

For Fun

Niles Elite has captured 20 national championships and has had the Lime, Red, Silver and Black teams invited to this year’s nationals in Virginia Beach.

15

Cass District Library http://cass.lib.mi.us

Day Camp • Hayrides • Challenge Ropes Course Featured Services all of these services Retreat Lodging Low Ropes InitiativesAccess Activity Center through our website Youth Program Pines Live” Cass District“Five Library Cass Library with yourDistrict library card! Winter Activities: Tubing and Cross-Country Skiing http://cass.lib.mi.us http://cass.lib.mi.us 6597 Smith Road Featured Services

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with two teams in a school for an hour and a half for one night, a n d n ow we have evolved into eight teams in our own facility. It’s been fantastic.” Niles Elite, on South 11th Street next to the former Furniture Find location in Niles, has had three facilities of its own since moving out of the school gymnasiums. Niles Elite draws participants from the Niles-Buchanan area as well as Dowagiac and Edwardsburg in Michigan and South Bend-Elkhart areas in Indiana. Practice times vary by age groups, but none practice more than two hours once a week. The younger cheerleaders practice once a week for 45 minutes, while the older cheerleaders practice for two hours once a week.

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“Nobody practices for more than two hours a week,” Mason said. “We are very big on get here, get your stuff done and maximize the amount of stuff you can get done in a short period of time.” Te a m s i z e s a l s o vary. There are teams as big as 45 cheerleaders and teams of only 16 cheerleaders. “They are split up by age and level,” Mason said. There are also two head coaches and six

Accolades

n It is the only program in the entire Young Champions community to have won a national title every year. n It is the first team to ever get national bids in every division. n It has been represented by more teams at one nationals than any other program (five in 2009, 2010 and 2011). n It is the first program to be invited to send athletes to Beijing, China, to train with the Chinese Acrobats and Olympic gymnasts (2005). n Every single team at Niles Elite has won a regional, state or national title in the past year. n Niles Elite is the first Young Champions team to win a national championship outside the Young Champions program (2008).

coaches overall. She not only is a director, but one of the two head coaches. The other head coach is Bridgette Stone. Both are former members of the program. “We kind of team coach pretty much everything,” Mason said. “The two head coaches are pretty much in charge of the teams, but we have a team approach to everything. “We feel that’s how we can best be effective. “We have a lot of different coaches who can explain things in a lot of different ways.” Each team is guaranteed to take part in two regionals per year. Teams then can advance to the state level where they have an opportunity to be invited to the nationals. Teams can participate in anywhere from two to five competitions per year. “Most teams advance out of the regionals,” Mason said.

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Tina Holloway, Associate Broker, ABR, GRI 603 E. Main St., Niles, MI 49120 • Cell: (269) 845-0708 E-mail: tinaholloway@remax.net • Website: www.tinaholloway.com

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Horizons 2013

Your community-owned electric utility is at your service.

Go Green with the City of Niles Use PSN (Payment Service Network) to make utility and tax payments by phone or online. Click on the link at www.ci.niles.mi.us. Taxes and Utility bills can be paid using the drive through service at the new location. The Utilities Department will be distributing CFL bulbs this spring to electric customers to encourage energy savings. Your utility bills have a new look as the result of a more cost efficient method of processing bills. The Utilities Department offers rebates on the purchase of energy efficient appliances, air conditioning and commercial applications. For more information, contact Franklin Energy at 877-674-7218. City Hall and the Utilities Dept. are located in a new facility at 333 N. 2nd Street, Niles, MI. 269-683-4700 Visit us on Facebook at City of Niles

www.ci.niles.mi.us


Horizons 2013

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OUR YOUTH By CRAIG HAUPERT

17

Looking to the future: From students who must decide where their futures are to others who work to overcome handicaps, each must reach beyond themselves to brighter horizons

craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

Stay or go? Students talk about their futures

I just want to get out to a bigger area and experience life. — Celia Ash

Do high school graduates want to s t i c k a ro u n d Southwestern Michigan to go to school or find a job? Or do they want to travel far away from home? If they do leave, might they come back? These are some questions posed to senior student council presidents from several area schools. So where are they headed? Get the answer straight from the source. See STAY, page 18

2012 Niles High School graduates celebrate. Leader photo/ CRAIG HAUPERT


18

Youth a job or to live, but I will always come back and visit and keep in touch with everybody. I just want to get out to a bigger area and experience life because it’s different than a little small rural town. I love meeting new people so with Cassopolis we all know everybody and everybody is kind of related. I want to be able to go to all the states before I die — that’s a goal of mine.

Celia Ash

STAY

Continued from page 17 Celia Ash

Who are you? Student Senate President, Ross Beatty High School (Cassopolis)

What are you doing after high school? R i gh t n ow I a m planning on going to Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant. I want to major in sports management, then get into a physical therapy graduate program. Did distance influence your decision?

I didn’t want to be too far away, but I wanted to have some separation.

Do you want to live/ work close to home? Why? I think it is important to keep in touch

with the community, not necessarily staying around. It is such a small town so you want to get out there and enjoy the world and see what it’s like in the big city. I don’t think I will necessarily come back here to get

Will you ever come home to live or work? There might be a chance to return to Cassopolis area once I’ve done what I want to do with my life and if I want to settle down. Then I think it could be a possibility, maybe. What about your

Horizons 2013 classmates? I feel like most people will stick around because most of the other graduating classes you still see them around here at basketball games and see them around town. I think most of them will stay close by, but I still feel there are some of them that will go out and go very far and some I may never see again because they are off in bigger cities so far away across the country. So I think some will venture out, but most will stick around.

MacKenzie Shelton

Who are you? Brandywine Student Senate President What are you doing after high school?

I plan on going to Calvin College and playing basketball in Grand Rapids about an hour and 40 minutes away. Did distance play a role in your decision? Some. I don’t think it’s too far away. I’m going to try and visit here as much as possible.

Do you want to live/ work close to home? Why? Yes. I am going to major in education and hopefully become a teacher — maybe here if I can — and coach. I want to work in this area. I have a lot of family members here and my nieces and nephew and I can’t imagine being far away See STAY, page 22


Horizons 2013

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Edwardsburg Public Schools

INVEstING IN Your chIld’s FuturE We take pride in the fact that Edwardsburg Public Schools offers a variety of instructional strategies for all students. Options that parents may choose include: multi-age, looping, all-day every day kindergarten, single grade, and gender specific instruction. Students have access to excellent academic and fine arts instructors provided in one of the finest facilities in southwest Michigan.

sherman ostrander, Ed. s. Superintendent since 1995

New instructional offerings for high school students include Edwardsburg Early College. This program offers students a diverse curriculum that is integrated with technology and knowledge in a rigorous, yet supportive, academic environment. As Edwardsburg Public Schools moves forward in the new decade, we will continue to integrate technology and instruction that will prepare students to be globally competitive. Edwardsburg Public Schools has earned a reputation of providing students with an outstanding education. We are constantly seeking ways to invest in your child’s future and are committed to maintaining our Tradition of Excellence.

Fast Facts • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

A Tradition of Excellence Highly Qualified and compassionate staff District of Choice and a district of choices Focusing on every student – every day Edwardsburg/SMC Middle College beginning in fall 2013 AdvancED Accredited / NCA iPads and Netbooks are utilized to support learning 86% of graduates apply to post-secondary education 8 National Merit Scholarship Qualifiers Edwardsburg Early College has 100+ students participating in over 60 different advanced online courses 55 seniors qualified for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship 167 juniors/seniors participate in off-campus programs High School Science Olympiad team Regional winner past five years and state competitor for 13 years 78% of high school students participate in extracurricular activities

• Academic Talented Youth Program through Western Michigan University • Intermediate and Middle School Spelling Bee teams reigning Cass County champions • Advanced learning opportunities in Math & English at Middle School • Expanded Alternative Education coursework • Middle School Science Olympiad team competed at regional and state level • Edwardsburg Middle School recognized as a “Beating the Odds” school • EPS Foundation offers over $17,000 per year in scholarships • 83% Middle School students involved in extracurricular clubs and athletic teams • Eagle Lake recognized as a “High Progress and Beating the Odds“ school

Kindergarten

Round-Up March 12, 2013 at the Primary School

6:00 p.m.

PRIDE • PASSION • PURPOSE www.edwardsburgpublicschools.org • 269-663-3055


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DOWAGIAC

Horizons 2013

UNION SCHOOLS “Every Student Matters in Dowagiac” Dowagiac Schools embraces the concept that every student matters! The starfish story exemplifies our philosophy.

We believe we can make a difference with each student. To support this belief Dowagiac Union Schools offers: • Reading Recovery: 1st grade students learn to read at grade level with highly trained reading specialists in all elementary schools. All students will read at grade level. • Five Star Life Program: Middle school students participate in an after school mentoring program challenging students to live by five core vaues: respect, responsibility, integrity, sacrifice, and courage. • Freshman Academic Coaches/Mentors: Mentors meet with freshman weekly providing additional support in the core classrooms. All students succeed—failing is not an option! • S.A.T. (Student Assistance Teams): Kindergarten through 12th grade students improve their academic success using a proven team approach. • SMC Dual Enrollment: Students may enroll in at least one course at Southwestern Michigan College or receive Direct Credit from faculty at Dowagiac Union High School. Students excel with rigorous courses during their high school years. • Home School: Home-schooled students enroll for courses like Band, Choir, or foreign languages, or take advantage of our online curriculum opportunities that can be completed at home. • Pathfinders-Alternative Education: Opportunities for students who want a flexible schedule, including online curriculum supported by certified teachers. • G.E.D. & Adult Education: Students prepare to pass the G.E.D. test at our Pathfinders school, or to complete high school credits for a high school diploma. • Wolverine Conference Champions: All-conference and all-state student athletes compete in outstanding athletic programs resulting in district, regional, semi-final, and state championships and college scholarships. • Band, Choir, and Drama: Students perform in the beautiful Performing Arts Center as part of our award-winning performing arts program, resulting in exceptional musicians, vocalists, and theater performers who earn college scholarships.

The Starfish Story (adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley, 1907-1977) While walking down the beach, a man saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it in the ocean. As he came closer he saw thousands of starfish the tide had thrown onto the beach. Unable to return to the ocean during low tide, the starfish were dying. He observed a young boy picking up the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. After watching the seemingly futile effort, the observer said, ”There must be thousands of starfish on this beach. It would be impossible to save all of them. There are simply too many. You can’t save enough to make a difference.” The young boy smiled as he picked up another starfish and tossed it back into the ocean. ”It made a difference to that one,” he replied.

243 S. Front St • Dowagiac, MI 269.782.4400 www.dowagiacschools.org


Horizons 2013

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Call 574.239.8400 to set up a campus visit.

Look for Shadow Days and Apply online at: www.hcc-nd.edu

Facebook.com/ HolyCrossCollege Saints Twitter.com/HolyCrossND

1.

The Core: Four life-changing experiences- global experience, professional internship, service learning project and Senior Capstone presentation. We prepare you to be a leader in a global economy!

2.

Affordable: The lowest tuition rate of private four-year colleges in Indiana and a Tuition Lock that guarantees not to raise individual tuition during enrollment. 90% of our students receive financial aid.

3.

Strong Relationships: 13-to-1 student/faculty ratio means you’ll never get lost in the crowd. Know your professors and classmates! We are here to help you succeed!

4.

Community: The best of both worlds-- a small college in a big university setting-Notre Dame, Indiana. Get involved and live your life! Want tickets to ND football games, our students can buy them. Want to play in the ND marching band, our students can do that. Want to join a club at St. Mary’s, you can!

5.

Highly Rated: A Top 10% School in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Our students are happy and engaged with the community!

6.

Distinctly Catholic: We are affiliated with the Brothers of Holy Cross who run schools across the world with strong traditions of faith and academic excellence.

We want photographs that best represent each month of 2013. Photographs of life and community events are encouraged. Submit up to 12 entries. 2012 Photo Contest Winners

Go to www.leaderpub.com and click on Contests

1st Place “I Do” by Izzy Cherrone of Granger

2nd Place “Hunter Ice Fest - Horse” by Joanna Reichert of Niles

3rd Place “Strawberry Summer” by Jackie Appleman of Granger


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Horizons 2013

MacKenzie Shelton

Sarah Cramer

STAY

little kids.

Did distance play a role in your decision? I know I wanted to get away from Niles a little bit. I know the same people because I’ve been here all my life, but I didn’t want to go so far where I couldn’t come back to the people that I do have here.

Continued from page 18 from them. My main goal is to become a college coach when I get as much exposure in this area around here and try to build a program up and try to get looked at by a college. It makes sense for me to stick around here and build that reputation.

If you had a good job opportunity elsewhere, would you take it? It depends. I would really try to stick around here. I would try not to go far away.

done with school.

Will you ever come back home to live and work? I don’t think so. I think I’d try to live in another city if I could. I’ve always liked to travel and go to new places. I think it would be a neat experience to be somewhere I’m not familiar with.

Samantha Smous

Samantha Smous

Who are you? Student Council President Edwardsburg High

What are you doing after high school? I plan on going to Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant to study business or education. It’s about three and a half to four hours away.

Did distance play a role in your decision? I tried to stay in state for in-state tuition.

Did you try to stay close to home? Not really. I wanted to go somewhere outside of the Edwardsburg area.

Do you want to live/ work close to home? Why? I will probably look for a job somewhere in Michigan, but not too far away — although it would be neat to travel if I could. I’ve always wanted to do elementary teaching and there isn’t a strong need for that here right now, but who knows where it will be when I am

What about your classmates? It is somewhere in between. Some are staying here for SMC right by Edwardsburg, but I know quite a few who want to leave and

go somewhere upstate or somewhere else. It would be about half and half.

Sarah Cramer

Who are you? Student Council President, Niles High School What are you doing after high school? I’m deciding between two places right now — Calvin College, to play softball in Grand Rapids, or Ball State University in Muncie (Indiana). I want to go into speech pathology to be a speech therapist for

Do you want to live/ work close to home? Why? If an opportunity were to stay close to Niles or in Niles, I would stay here because it’s what I know. My family is here; my friends are here. I am very family oriented so I would like to stay close. My friends are very important to me too. Who knows what the school system (job situation) will be like down the road — hopefully it will be a little better. If so, I think I can get a job around here.

What about your classmates? It depends. I think it will be half and half. I hear some people talking about going away and some people wanting to stay here because this is what we know and all we have is here.

2012 students prepare to graduate in Cassopolis. Leader photo/ ALLY GIBSON


Horizons 2013

Raising a child with Down syndrome can be a difficult task. But there is an organization in the Michiana area that can aid families dealing with this unique challenge. The Down Syndrome Family Support and Advocacy Group (DSFSAG), also known as Michi a n a D ow n Sy n drome, is a nonprofit organization that serves St. Joseph, Marshall, LaPorte, Starke and Elkhart counties in Indiana and Cass, St. Joseph and Berrien counties in Michigan.

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Learning enabled Down Syndrome Family Support and Advocacy Group offers help to those searching for answers to a unique challenge By WILLIAM CRANDELL 

Special to Leader Publications

Network of support

The goal of the group is to form a network to bring families together to assist and provide them with resources. But more importantly, it aims to let families know they are not alone and help is available in a communal atmosphere. The group began in the 1980s with a handful of families getting together at parties to share their experiences. Since then, the Michiana D o w n s y n d ro m e group has grown to more than 200 families and has become central to the special needs community. Members work with about 100 families

Kathy Ratkiewicz is president of the Down Syndrome Family Support and Advocacy Group.

tance that promotes the best opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and help them to achieve their greatest potential and realize their dreams.” Down syndrome is a genetic condition where a person is born with three c o p i e s o f chromosome 21 instead of two. In the United States, there are about 6,000 children diagnosed with the condition every year. That equals about one in every 600 to 800 births, according to the Global D o w n Sy n d ro m e Foundation.

Longevity increases

Leader photos/WILLIAM CRANDELL

From left, Kate Manor, her daughter, Keelin, Rob Kelly’s daughter, Sophia, Rob Kelly, and Daniel, son of Kathy Ratkiewicz, play a board game.

We try to help families early on if they are ready, and, if not, we make sure that they know that we are available. — Kathy Ratklewicz, president of DSFSAG every month helping them gain access to information and services. According to Kathy Ratkiewicz, the group’s president, everyone volunteers their time and many of them are

family members of children with Down syndrome and have a grasp of the issues that the families are facing. The vision of the group is “to foster a community of accep-

As recently as the 1980s, children who were diagnosed with the condition were not expected to live past the age of 25, but  with new advances in medical treatments their life expectancy has risen to about 65. Other recent advances in the understanding of how Down syndrome works has also helped to improve memory and cognitive abilities and has helped to unlock individual potential. For instance, many are learning to read or use more advanced sign language instead of simple signs, and are being trained for jobs, and a growing number are living independently or semi-independently. “Years ago, they See SUPPORT, page 24


24

SUPPORT Continued from page 23 didn’t think children with Down syndrome could learn, but recently they have discovered differently,” Ratkiewicz said. “There is a lot more information to help families than there was 14 years ago when my son, Daniel, was born or even 10 years ago. They’re beginning to discover a lot about these disabilities. Right now, there is a lot of research going on especially in the area of cognitive development. We should see a lot of advancements in the next 10 years.”

Raising money

Fundraising is a top priority for the group. The biggest event is the annual Walk for Down

Youth Syndrome. Usually held in the fall, the walk celebrated its 11th year in September and received a great deal of support from the community and area businesses, such as The Logan Center, Outback Steakhouse, Panera Bread and the Potawatami Zoo. The group was able to raise $45,000, all of which is used to keep the organization going and to provide families with resources. “It’s a great event and unique because we have a lot of fun and we keep it family centric,” said Rob Kelly, one of the group’s most active volunteers. Kelly joined the group after his daughter, Sophia, was born with Down syndrome four years ago. Many children born with Down syndrome have additional health

issues, and, to help families offset the medical costs, the group gives away annual mini grants. U p to $ 2 0 0 , t h e grants are designed to help families pay for eyeglasses, hearing aids, medicines, dental care and other medical needs. They also offer recreational scholarships for summer camps and for organizations, such as Reins of Life and the Foundation for Music and Healing. Furthermore, they offer the Marilyn Casper Academic Scholarship for individuals with Down syndrome, which gives $1,000 to any individual who attends a post-secondary educational program or training. The group also makes an annual donation to help with Down syndrome cognitive research.

Horizons 2013

Some people think that they can’t handle this, but they soon discover that they can. — Kathy RatKiewicz, DSFSAG president

Early outreach

Early outreach to parents is another top priority of the group. Early intervention is critical in helping Down syndrome children reach developmental milestones. An early program offers a great deal to new parents in terms of support, encouragement and information and teaches parents how to interact with their Down syndrome child and meet their needs to enhance their development. One of the goals of the group

is to help families gain access to these early services, such as prenatal education, physical therapies, speech and occupational therapies. “We try to help the families early on if they are ready, and, if not, we make sure that they know that we are available,” Ratkiewicz said. “We give people plenty of time, and they can contact us whenever they are ready, right away or a year down the road we will be here to assist them whenever they need our help.” One of the resources

Come and see for yourself an education that makes a difference. Enrolling Infancy through 8th grade.

the group offers to help new families is a gift bag packed full of information. It also offers additional gift packets to aid families as their children transition into school. “Parents continue to need help as their children grow and that is also our job,” Ratkiewicz said. Kelly agrees with her. “One of our goals is to not only help these kids transition through the public school system but also into adulthood.” The DSFSAG also maintains a lending li-


Horizons 2013 brary at its office that includes an array of books, DVDs and educational support material and individuals can access current information and recent reports on its website. The site is also great for teachers to aid them with a better understanding of Down syndrome students and to assist them with such issues as managing behaviors, sign language and helping Down syndrome students succeed in a general education setting. Every year, the group also helps to coordinate an Annual Disability Resource and Transition Fair. Last year, about 65 agencies participated and between 400 to 500 people attended. The principal goal of the fair is to educate as many people as possible about Down syndrome and has included speakers such as Susan Peoples and Nancy Kaufman.

Support groups

The group also hosts support groups for parents that meet once a month and quite often feature guest speakers on a variety of topics, such as health and safety issues, setting up trusts and med-

For additional information about Michiana Down Syndrome, go to the group’s website at www.michianadownsyndrome.org or call (574) 234-0590. Dukechildrens.org photo

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This was a brand new path for us, but it was a well-worn path and we never felt alone. — Kate Manor, parent

ical waivers. They also sponsor events that feature recreational supports, such as therapeutic horseback riding, music therapy, Kindermusik and an annual talent show. There is also a monthly Mom’s Night Out, which provides a few hours of needed respite for Mom and gives them the opportunity to share experiences. “The recreational supports are one of the greatest things that we do, bringing families together with activities. It helps us to form a network and touch base with each other, but, more importantly, it helps to form a sense of community,” Kelly said.  “Talking to other parents, sharing experiences and letting each other know that there are other families out there experiencing

many of the same issues is very helpful and therapeutic,” Ratkiewicz said. “I think the biggest fear that some parents face is the unfamiliarity with Down syndrome. Some people think that they can’t handle this, but they soon discover that they can. “We’re there to help them every step of the way. We are not saints; we’re just ordinary people who have learned to adapt to an extraordinary situation.”  Kate Manor, another active parent whose 5-year-old daughter, Keelin, has Down syndrome, said she was very thankful for the support the group was able to give her. “This was a brand new path for us, but it was a well-worn path and we never felt alone.”

25

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Come see us and find out what happens beside our still waters.


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Life is full of choices. Make yours today.

Horizons 2013  By William Crandell

Special to Leader Publications

Citizeneffect.org photo

The number of homeless children in Michigan is rising.

More than Our students choose Ferris for different reasons, but the desire for a quality education at an affordable price is something they all share. Ferris conveniently offers classes at Southwestern Michigan College making it possible for you to complete your degree locally and affordably. You’ll learn relevant concepts from faculty with real world experience and enjoy a friendly staff that is available to seamlessly guide you through the transfer process. See why Ferris is one of the top choices for adult and transfer students in Michigan.

Apply online at ferris.edu/statewide. Ferris Programs Offered at SMC: Bachelor’s Degrees Accountancy/Public Accounting Business Administration Business Administration - Professional Track Computer Information Systems Computer Information Technology Criminal Justice Human Resource Management Technical and Professional Communication

Find out more about these programs at ferris.edu/statewide. Call our office at (269) 782-1214 to make an appointment with an academic advisor.

Certificates Human Resource Management International Business Leadership and Supervision

FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY DOWAGIAC

Choose now. Your tomorrow starts today.

street smarts McKinney-Vento Project supports homeless students In recent years, there has been an upward trend in the number of homeless children in Michigan. According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, in 2012, there were 37,532 homeless children in Michigan, and, since 2010, the number of homeless children has risen by 15,000. Since 1993, The McKinney-Vento Project has been providing services to homeless families in Southwest Michigan a n d en su ri n g t ha t homeless children have access to a quality public education. Originally passed as the Urgent Relief for the Homeless Act in 1987, the legislation was later renamed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act by President Clinton after the two leading supporters of the law, U.S. Rep. Stewart B. McKinney and U.S. Rep. Bruce

Vento had both passed away. McKinney-Vento originally consisted of 15 programs designed to aid the homeless and provide services that included emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, job training, primary health care and educational services. Since its passage, the Act has been amended four times to provide better services for those in need. In 1990 and in 1994, the Act was amended to provide more funding to states for the education of homeless children and created the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program that required states to provide grants with the McKinney funding for local educational agencies to implement the new law. Children are considered homeless under the guidelines of the

McKinney-Vento Project if they are living in a shelter, motel, vehicle, campground or on the street. Children also are considered homeless if they are residing in an abandoned building, trailer or any other inadequate accommodations.   They are also considered in need if the child is doubled up with family or friends because they cannot find affordable housing or if they are separated from a parent or guardian and on their own: for example, sleeping on a friend’s couch or wherever they can. The McKinney Education Assistance Act also protects and guarantees certain rights for homeless children, such as the right to have access to the same public education as any other child and continue to attend the same school they attended before they became homeless if that choice is feasible. They must also be provided with


Horizons 2013 transportation to and from that school and be allowed to participate in school programs and receive the same services as any other child in that district. They must also be allowed to enroll in a school without giving a permanent address and attend without hindrance until their situation can be resolved. To manage the McKinney Project, Michigan is divided into five consortiums: The Southwest Michigan consortium consists of Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties and is managed by Berrien RESA. In Berrien County, the McKinney Project serviced 692 children last year, an increase from the 597 helped in 2011. Joyce Miller, who oversees the project for Berrien RESA, says

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27 School districts are required to have a homeless liaison to participate in the McKinneyVento Project. Activistnews.org photo

their primary role is to ensure services are being provided for homeless students that include housing, enroll-

ment, transportation and school supplies, s u c h a s u n i fo r m s , books, flash drives or possibly even toiletries;

Constant Sadness Irritability Hopelessness Feeling Worthless or Guilty Trouble Sleeping Low Energy or Fatigue Significant Weight Change Thoughts of Suicide or Dying Loss of Interest in Favorite Activities Difficulty Concentrating

homeless liaison to participate in the project. Miller says homeless liaisons receive extensive training in how

See HOMELESS, page 29

Brandywine

Community Schools

“Committed to Every Student’s Success” Excellence: We believe in inspiring individuals to achieve their personal best by providing a strong academic foundation.

depression ...we’re here to help. Let’s talk,

everyone has moments when they need support. Call today to schedule an appointment at one of our 2 convenient locations 24 Hour Emergency & Contact Line: 1-800-336-0341 •Main Office & Administration 269-925-0585 1485 M-139, Benton Harbor, MI •Niles Outpatient Clinic 269-684-4270 115 S St. Joseph Avenue, Niles, MI

...so you control your quality of life.

whatever it takes to get that child into school and learning. Each school district is required to have a

to identify the needs of homeless students in their districts. “We help the homeless liaisons with professional development, resource development and offer them the materials that will help them better support their communities,” Miller said. One of the ways Berrien RESA provides support is by putting on events, such as Project Connect in different

www.RiverwoodCenter.org

Opportunities:

• Technology embedded in curriculum K-12 • 7 period day allows students to fit electives into their schedule

Communication: We believe in listening as well as speaking-engaging in true, open dialogue.

• Award winning CAD Drafting and Machine Tool program

Fair: We believe in developing pride in, and concern for equitable treatment of all people in the district. Leadership: We believe in motivated teaching and giving direction and guidance to our students to encourage them to exceed grade level expectations.

• Alternative/Adult Education • Athletics-updated and renovated sports complex • Schools of Choice and out-of-state enrollment

Celebrating 50 years of tradition!

Contact us at: Brandywine Community Schools 1830 S. 3rd St. • Niles, MI 49120 • 269-684-7150 www.brandywinebobcats.org

Scan to visit our website

 


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Horizons 2013

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Horizons 2013

Youth

HOMELESS Continued from page 27

locations throughout the four counties. “Project Connect is an event where we bring together up to 40 agencies that include emergency needs, health assistance, legal assistance, health screenings, transportation and even complimentary haircuts. Our goal is to bring all these agencies under one roof so that families and individuals can access the help that is out there,” she said. The McKinney-Vento Project in Southwest Michigan also provides direct services for students, such as maintaining The Learning Center at the Outreach Site located at the Safe Shelter in Benton Harbor. At The Learning

Center, children have access to computers, tutoring, materials and a foster grandparent program that provides an experienced nurturing adult to give the children a little extra help. Reshella Hawkins, who manages the Learning Center, says they attempt to help the entire family and provide them with as many services as they can but the main focus is on the children. “We provide for their transportation to and from school and make sure that they have school materials and even clothing. I help to set up everything so that these kids can remain in school and keep learning no matter what their situation is.”

Optimism prevails

Even though there are always issues with funding and resources, Hawkins said she remains optimistic about the program. “I love this program, and the work that we are doing,” she said. “These families need help, and we are there for them. Some people say to me that this job must be hard, but, when you have a passion for what you do, it’s easy. I love working with these kids, and I love what I do.” Funding for McKin-

ney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants has varied through the years. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the federal government has allotted $2.146 billion to states to provide for grants, but the Alliance says that number is $226 billion short of the amount needed to provide adequate services to homeless families. With more than 1 million school-aged children now homeless, school districts are in need of more funding to keep up with the demand. Sara Park, the homeless liaison for the Cassopolis school district, agrees with the alliance. “There are a lot of families in our district that are continuing to struggle.  I have been in education for 20 years,

29

There are a lot of families in our district that are continuing to struggle.

— Sara Park, homeless liaison for Cassopolis schools and I have never witnessed such a transient population of students. They are constantly moving, and many share their reasons for being homeless with us. “These families are facing evictions, loss of jobs or just plain have nowhere to go. I see an overwhelming sense of sadness in them, which impacts their performance in the classroom on a daily basis.  As for resources, there is not enough. “We are limited as to

what we can provide for them and what we can do to help.”

State of the economy

In Niles, there also has been an increase in students needing aid over the past five years. The district provides services for 58 children and, according to the district’s homeless liaison, Linda Libbs, part of the reason for that increase has been the See HOMELESS, page 30

Dr. Richard Beckermeyer, DDS, P.C. 16 15 Years of Beautiful Smiles for Children in Need.

has exhibited his passion for giving children healthy smiles on his many missions to dental clinics all over the world. Here in our community, Dr. Beckermeyer annually participates in the ADA Foundation’s National “GIVE KIDS A SMILE!” program. Each year, on the first Friday in February FREE dental cleanings for children 18 and under are offered as a service to the community.

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Youth

HOMELESS Continued from page 29

state of the economy, but they have also become more skilled at identifying children who are in need. “Our teachers, counselors, principals and secretaries have all become more aware of what to look for, often without asking or making students and their parents feel uncomforta b l e ,” L i b b s s a i d . “Watching for these signs has also become a part of our registration process; we make sure that new students and their parents understand what services are available, such as free or reduced meals and transportation.”   When asked if funding for his district was

enough to pay for services, Niles Supt. Richard Weigel said, “The biggest problem is that the project is basically an unfunded mandate.  There just isn’t enough funding to provide all that is needed.  Even so, we continue to serve our homeless students to the best of our ability and always keep the needs of the children as our first priority instead of rules and regulations.  “As far as improving, we will always strive to identify those students who qualify for the McKinney Vento services and aid them the best that we can. That will always be our district’s primary goal.”

Horizons 2013

Surgical battles Eight days after doctors removed two tumors from his spine, 12-year-old Tanner Davis still had the strength and courage to surprise his classmates on Valentine’s Day. Tanner’s mother and father placed Tanner on a chair and wheeled him into the Oak Manor Sixth Grade Center gymnasium as his classmates cheered.. “This is the reason we are here today,” said Tanner’s teacher, Cherie Schaller, to the packed gym. Tanner stayed about 30 minutes, just long enough to say hello and show off his new present — an 11-week-old Siberian Husky puppy. Tanner named it Mar, after Dr. Cormac Oliver Maher, who performed surgery on Tanner Feb. 6. Tanner has a form of neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow in the nervous system. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT


Horizons 2013

Business

BUSINESS

31

Investing in the Future From local airports to founding a recycling industry to expansions in health care, businesses keep Southwest Michigan relevant

By JOHN EBY john.eby@leaderpub.com

On the radar Local airports keep economy relevant

Small general

av i a t i o n a i r ports, such as Jerry Tyler Memorial and Municipal in Dowagiac “are huge tools for economic growth,” according to Joe Ray, Niles public services director.

Within the previous halfhour, two businessmen disembarked at the Niles airport , named for an industrialist who perished in a Chicago hotel fire. See RADAR, page 32

It’s an economic asset to the city, if you have an airport. — Dave Swift, local pilot

The Goodyear blimp moored at Tyler Memorial Airport in Niles in November. Leader photo/ JOHN EBY


32

Business

RADAR

Continued from page 31

A taxi pulls in to pick up a couple carrying a bouquet of flowers. “It’s an economic asset to the city if you have an airport,” Dave Swift, a local

pilot, agrees. “Once you lose an airport, you’ll never get it back. We almost lost it, and we fought hard to keep it.”

Horizons 2013

“We’re not seeing a lot of use by business, but it’s good to have,” Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson said. “It’s hard to measure the economic im-

pact.” Municipal Airport, which is used by The Timbers of Cass County nursing facility, receives $15,000 to $20,000 from the general

See RADAR, page 34

Leader photo/JOHN EBY

A plane lands at the Niles airport in December.

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Business

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Fulfilling Your

Funeral Wishes “A strong point for us is that we’re with the family from beginning to end.” Our dedication to service and detail speaks for itself.

Brown Funeral Home A funeral home is not often associated as a place of comfort while friends and families gather to mourn the loss of a loved one. But Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Services, in Niles, strives to do things a little differently when a family crosses their threshold for the first time. Throughout the process of planning and conducting a funeral, families often are unsure of where to begin or how to proceed with plans. Brown Funeral Home recognized the need for in-depth and customized care during the funeral process, as well as after, and decided to start providing those services to their families. “A strong point for us is that we’re with the family from beginning to end,” Timothy Brown, owner, said. “We say their journey begins after the funeral, it doesn’t end there.” While the approach may be new within the last decade, Brown Funeral Home’s location has a detailed history in Niles. The historical information comes in bits and pieces, with rarely any information dating before 1925. Brown Funeral Home was once known as Pifer Funeral Home in 1938, of the same location, for many years. William Pifer was also known in Niles for his air ambulance service, which boasted a nurse in attendance for patients, according to old photographs. The building, which was once regarded as a two-story home outside of town, grew in 1964 to be what many passersby see today. In 1973, the funeral home was bought by Leroy and Barb (Swem) Smith, with the help of Barb’s father, Lowell. The name changed from Swem-Smith to Pifer-Smith Funeral Home and eventually, Smith and his son, Tom, sold the home to Prime Succession, Inc. After the corporation filed bankruptcy in 2004, Brown bought the funeral home. The idea to provide a different level of care and service came with him. “We stay in contact after the burial or cremation,” Brown said. “We offer grief support and sometimes we’ll be there to help with teaching small tasks, like how to do a load of laundry or when to service your vehicle.” A major part of the funeral home’s place in the community is attributed to their Facebook and professional website, which is one of the only in southwest Michigan to list their pricing. Beyond boards with pictures of the deceased, the employees at Brown Funeral Home also assist in three-dimensional displays for some families, recorded services, online obituaries and a comment feature that allows out-of-town family and friends to leave kind words. The funeral home also offers live streams of their funeral services for those who are unable to attend. “We had a veteran come in who had died in Afghanistan,” Brown said. “We were able to webcast his service live for the group of men he served with while they were still overseas. They were able to be there, in a way, for him.” Brown and his staff also strive to be part of the Niles community by serving with the sheriffs department, in the victim’s service unit or area Chamber of Commerce. Brown said that he and his staff understand what it takes to truly be there for those in mourning. “We have a great group of people who listen when they’re (families) talking,” Brown said. “We hear a person’s life story and mold our services to that person and their loved ones.” To learn more about us, scan to visit our website.

521 East Main Street • Niles, MI • 269-683-1155 www.brownfuneralhomeniles.com

 

Owner and Funeral Director Timothy Brown sorts through options available to families with Funeral Director Heather Heath in the home’s kitchen and family lounge, a unique room that offers a different level of comfort for families and friends. Photos provided by ALY GIBSON


34

RADAR

Continued from page 32 fund. “It’s not fully selfsupporting,” Anderson said. Aviation hobbyists mostly use the field, which is home to about 25 planes. Occasional commuter jets land, their passengers destined for Sister Lakes resorts. Retired city grounds director Gary Carlile has managed Municipal Airport since the late ’90s. He is not a pilot, but he was around in the 1970s when the airport grew. Sid Tremble and Sundstrand needed longer runways to accommodate corporate aircraft. “We could not justify what we have now, but

Business we’ve got it, so we don’t let it go. It has value,” said Carlile, who retired in 2003. Dowagiac is allotted $150,000 a year to do Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)approved projects, which have included runway improvements, a plow truck and building, paving taxiways and installing an automated fuel dispenser. Carlile joined the city in June 1973 as parks and recreation director. The Elkhart, Ind., native was Dowagiac’s Citizen of the Year in February 1996. He has consulted on parks and Riverside Cemetery since 2005.

Fewer hassles

“Everybody talks about how close South Bend is, but the small-

er airports, a businessman can get in and out without having to go through a lot of hassles and puts them in the area they want to go, without having to get in a car and drive miles and miles. Time is money,” Swift said. The airport’s economic growth included a new fall business, Team MiniMax, which sells ultralight kits from the back of the old Niles maintenance h a n ga r. Two s a l e s went to China. Another income stream comes from farmers who rent 140 acres. “The airport is an enterprise fund,” Ray said. “It doesn’t receive any local tax dollars. It operates on a block grant we get through the federal and state governments and on

Horizons 2013 Miss Dowagaiac 2010 Katie Haneberg and her court, Alyse Pellow and Taylor Gross, attend a Municipal airport fly-in. Leader file photo

revenues created out here, just like the cemetery and golf course.” While there are fewer industries of a size to warrant a corporate jet, Swift said Niles Chemical Paint “flies all over the place for the company” in a Mitsubishi MU-2, a highwing, twin-engine turboprop with a pressurized cabin. “Tyler’s is gone, Sim-

plicity’s gone, but a big company isn’t going to come if that airport’s not here,” said Jon Harner, who keeps his plane at the Niles airport. “Rural King comes in here once or twice a month with their helicopter to get fuel,” Swift said. “You make money on fuel.” “The state police does a lot of its mari-

juana observation out of here,” Ray said. Crop dusters oftenstage from the airport as do aircraft pulling banners at Notre Dame games. Available runways include a NW/SE, 4,100-foot paved runway and a NE/SW, 3,300-foot paved runway. Fifty-three aircraft, including a helicopter,


Horizons 2013 are based at the Niles airport. The Niles airport consists of 10 individual buildings, including T-hangars. “The city owns everything out here,” Ray said, “with the exception of a few private hangars. “People build them, then have a ground lease with the city and pay for the actual square footage of the footprint. “Probably 90 percent of the buildings out here are leased to our FBO, Fixed Base Operator, who turns around and leases those back out. “Now, they’re pretty hard to find in a small, general aviation airport like this.” Where Dowagiac’s city-owned airport across from Union

Business High School lacks an FBO, Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport on the northeast side at 2018 Lake St., Astro Star Aviation rents facilities to provide general aviation fuel, jet fuel, aircraft repairs, air taxi and flight instruction. “Service is available upon request, but a lot of it has gone away in favor of a self-serve airport. There’s a credit card machine,” said Ray Ray, the state-licensed airport manager. “You enter your tail number and it will let you start pulling fuel. I have a couple of parttime people who mow grass and plow snow. I did it myself for three or four years.” said Ray.

Self-serve at night

Self-service “makes

it nice at night when this place is closed,” said Swift , a pilot who’s been around the Niles airport for more than 30 years. Now that he’s semiretired, Swift sold his plane and is now building one. “I got into it in the ’70s. It was enjoyable to get up and get away from people. I’m just out here enjoying the airport.” A seven-member airport advisory board assists with Niles airport operations issues. It meets on the second T h u r s d ay o f e a c h month at 4:30 p.m. at the airport administration building named for Fred Litty, a World War II pilot who flew for Tyler Refrigeration. Ray said the airport was fortunate to get some big-ticket items

Estab

lishe

35 Dowagiac airport revenues come from a combination of ground leases, fuel sales and leasing 204 acres for agricultural production. Leader photo/JOHN EBY

accomplished, such as a $600,000 sequence lighting upgrade, fuel tanks and snow removal equipment building before the Federal Bureau of Aviation changed the formula, from 90 percent Uncle Sam, 2.5 percent state and 2.5 percent local. “If we did a $100,000 project, it cost us $2,500. Now, it’s 90, five and five.”

Dowagiac airport revenues come from a combination of ground leases, fuel sales and leasing 204 acres for agricultural production. Municipal Airport, established in 1947, also benefited from a 2004 timber sale.

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Business

Horizons 2013

Recyclables show return O ne

man’s trash is another man’s treasure. No one knows this better than Henry Valkema, owner of Michiana Recycling and Disposal Services. Over the past 10 years, the Nilesbased company has doubled its customer base to more than 10,000 served in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties in Michigan and Laporte and Elkhart counties in Indiana.

“Business has been going good for us. We’ve added jobs every year since 2008,”

Valkema said. A big key to their growth, Valkema said, is the implementation

By CRAIG HAUPERT

of a one-stop, one-container, one-truck recycling and waste service. Valkema got the

craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

Henry Valkema stands near a conveyor belt where workers separate recyclables from waste. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

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idea in the early ‘90s from an equipment salesman who said a hauler was doing it in Ann Arbor. Instead of placing recyclables in a separate container, recyclables and trash are placed in the same container. This allows Michiana to pick everything up with one truck, saving the company time and money. “It’s convenient to customers,” Valkema said. “They only have one day to remember and that’s garbage day. They also don’t have another bin to carry to the curb. They just bring the bag out.


Horizons 2013

Business

37

The trash and recyclables are then dropped off at the company’s material r e c o v e r y f a c i l i t y, where everything is fed into a conveyor system. Recyclables m ove t h ro u gh t h e sorting station where workers pull out target items and drop them into a recycling storage area below. Once enough recyclable material is collected, it is baled, processed and sold as recyclables. The leftover

See RETURN, page 38

Kelly Narovich, residential driver for Michiana Recyling & Disposal, picks up a yellow bag full of recyclables. Leader file photo

The Niles Daily Star • The Dowagiac Daily News • The Edwardsburg Argus • The Cassopolis Vigilant • Off The Water

Share your stories, pictures, videos and story ideas with us As much as we would like, we don’t know of everything that is going on in our community. We count on you to be our eyes and ears to assist us in bringing the best local coverage possible. Neighborly is our place in the paper to display your major life events including births, birthdays, anniversaries, events and other activities. It’s free. Just send us your pictures and information. If you have an event be sure to get us the information for our print and online calendars. Sports pictures, stories and stats for everything from bowling to t-ball to softball or local high school games are welcomed. If you have good local community videos we would like to post them on our website.

Call us, e-mail us or submit your information on Leaderpub.com Based on your location or topic here are your contacts: Kimberly Wynn News Editor, Arts & Entertainment and Calender 269-687-7713 kim.wynn@leaderpub.com

Scott Novak Cassopolis & Edwardsburg Area Community Editor and Sports Editor 269-687-7702 scott.novak@leaderpub.com

Craig Haupert Niles Area Community Editor 269-687-7720 craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

I WANT TO... SUBMIT A BIRTH SUBMIT A BIRTHDAY SUBMIT AN ENGAGEMENT SUBMIT A WEDDING SUBMIT AN ANNIVERSARY SUBMIT A NEWS TIP SUBMIT A PHOTO SUBMIT AN EVENT SUBMIT A CLASSIFIED AD SUBMIT A BASEBALL/SOFTBALL SCORE SUBMIT A FOOTBALL SCORE

John Eby Dowagiac Area Community Editor 269-687-7706 john.eby@leaderpub.com

217 North 4th St., Niles, MI 49120 Leader Publications


38

RETURN Continued from page 37

waste is then loaded into large transfer trailers and hauled to the landfill. Michiana is able to offer recycling service free to customers because of the efficiency of the one-stop, onecontainer, one-truck system, Valkema said.

Business Although Michiana makes money from selling the recyclables, the process isn’t paying for itself just yet. “Eventually, it will begin paying for itself and making some,” he said. “Markets for recyclables goes up and down, and they ’ve been a little down over the past two years.” The one-stop, one

-container, one-truck program also creates jobs. Michiana Recycling employs nearly 30 people responsible for picking the recyclables from the trash on the conveyor belt. The company employs about 100 people. So what’s next for the company? Valkema said he is looking to expand the

Horizons 2013

material recovery facility. “Part of the problem with recycling is you have to have enough of one thing to afford to s h i p i t ,” h e s a i d . “There’s a lot of stuff in our waste room that could be recycled, but we don’t have the space to store it until we get enough of it. When we expand it

will afford us greater opportunities to recycle more products.” Michiana is also offering yard waste pickup in the same onestop, one-container, one-truck service. Michiana Recycling is located at 33541 Reum Road, Niles. To find out more, contact the company by phone at (269) 684-0900.

Recycling by the ton Michiana Recycling and Disposal Services continues to recycle more and more each year. Below is the amount the Niles company recycled in tons per year. n 2008 — 5,512 n 2009 — 7,104 n 2010 — 7,553 n 2011 — 7,850

At almost any time of the day, you can find up to 15 people sorting recyclables form trash at Michiana Recycling in Niles.

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Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

City of Real People, Real Community, Real Opportunity As you get to know Dowagiac, you’ll be impressed with its Victorian charm, embodied by our vibrant downtown and our many fine and stately older homes as well as our commitment to the exciting promises of the 21st Century.

college, a quality full service hospital, a healthy industrial and commercial base and a community wide commitment to the arts, Dowagiac has all the amenities of a city many times its size while retaining and enjoying its small town warmth and charm.

The citizens of Dowagiac are dedicated to saving and building on our historical heritage, while at the same time embracing and encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit that creates opportunities for all of her citizens.

Whether you’re a first time visitor or someone who knows us well, we invite you to take a little extra time to get to know us better. We are confident you’ll be impressed with Dowagiac’s commitment to building a better future on the solid foundation of our remarkable heritage.

With excellent schools, an outstanding community

www.cityofdowagiac.com


Horizons 2013

Business

39


40

Business

Horizons 2013

Hyperbaric chamber offers options Half of Travis Jarman’s left foot

was crushed when a scissor table holding 5,000 pounds of lumber collapsed on top of it while he was working at a Niles pallet supply company in June. The Niles resident said his injury was so bad, doctors initially considered amputation of the foot. “That’s not something you want to hear,” he said.

Jarman didn’t lose his foot and credits his treatment at the hy-

perbaric chamber at Lakeland Hospital in Niles for saving it.

By CRAIG HAUPERT

“I probably wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for them,” he said.

See CHAMBER, page 42

craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

This is one of two hyperbaric chambers found at Lakeland-Niles’ Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine. Submitted photo

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Power of oxygen

Hyperbaric chambers — like the one Jarman used at Lakeland-Niles — are used as a vehicle for delivering to the body 100 percent oxygen in a pressurized environment. Patients lay in the large, enclosed and see-through tube structure for an avera g e o f a b o u t t wo hours, while oxygen is pumped in. They receive several treatments. Julian Lewiecki, clinic manager, said hyperbaric medicine is used to treat many things, including bone infections, diabetes, severe bacterial infections, thermal burns and more. In the case of a crush injury — like Jarman’s — blood flow is restricted to the damaged part of the body and, typically, amputation is the only option, Lewiecki said. That’s where hyperbaric medicine comes in. “What we do is treat that part of the body by saturating it with oxygen while surgeons try to rebuild the area. In that case, we were able to save that young man’s foot,” he said. “Basically, what we are doing is providing oxygen to places that can’t get oxygen and oxygen promotes healing.”

Jarman said he could tell the treatment was working right away. “Before I went in, it looked like a severe case of frostbite, black and blue and purple — and then it changed,” he said. Doctors couldn’t completely save Jarm a n’ s fo o t a s h i s fourth toe was beyond repair and had to be amputated. Jarman has enough foot left to continue doing the activities he enjoys. “I have a lot of hobbies, like hunting and fishing and coaching basketball. I hate sitting around,” he said. “Now that I have my foot, I am always on the go.”

Oxygen vs. flesheating bacteria

P hy s i c i a n s h ave been using hyperbaric medicine since the 1800s to treat a variety of conditions. One indication is necrotizing soft-tissue infection, better known as flesh-eating bacteria. “Because the bacteria that causes that is called an anaerobe — which can’t live in an environment of oxygen very well — so oxygen under pressure actually destroys that organism,” Lewiecki said.

Hyperbaric at Lakeland

Lakeland-Niles has two hyperbaric chambers, but has the capacity to add two more if there is the demand

for it. Lewicki said they do about 100 treatments in a typical month. The treatments are painless, he said, with the most common side effect being pressure build up in the ears similar to the feeling of going up and down in a plane. The treatment is covered by most medical insurance, he said, as long as it is used for the dozen or so approved indications. L e we i c k i s e e s a bright future for hyperbaric medicine. “It is a fascinating field. There are so many things that involve a lack of oxygen, like, for example, with a heart attack your heart is suffering an acute injury where oxygen is being deprived to your heart,” he said. “There are studies being done looking at providing this therapy right after a heart attack to get oxygen to those areas that are being deprived. So many studies are being done on this that aren’t approved yet, but are very promising.” For more information on hyperbaric medicine at LakelandNiles, contact the center at (269) 683-8070 or visit the website lakelandhealth.org/ woundcare. The Lakeland Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine is located at Lakeland Medical Suites, 42 N. St. Joseph Ave., Niles.

What we are doing is providing oxygen to places that can’t get oxygen, and oxygen promotes healing. — Juilian Lewiecki


Horizons 2013

History

OUR HISTORY

43

Laying the foundation to the future: From stories of ghosts to history lessons from Chapin mansion, communities build on the work of past generations

By JOHN EBY john.eby@leaderpub.com

Visions of prosperity Community moves to update Niles icon

The Chapin Mansion has stood as testament to the promise of prosperity to the Niles community. Henry Austin Chapin was born Oct. 15, 1813, in Leyden, Mass., the son of farmers Lorenzo and M a r i a ( Ke n t ) Chapin. Their l i n e a g e we n t back to Deacon Samuel Chapin, a 1642 Massachusetts settler. See CHAPIN, page 44

The Chapin Mansion served as a city building in downtown Niles for almost 80 years. Leader photo/JOHN EBY


44

CHAPIN Continued from page 43

In 1814, Chapin’s family relocated to Mantua Centre, Ohio. After schooling, he clerked in a store in Middlebury, now part of Akron, Ohio. On March 22, 1836, he married Ruby Nooney. The newlyweds moved to Niles, but left for 10 years to Edwardsburg to own and operate a general merchandise store. T h e C h a p i n s re turned to Niles in 1846. They built a large home for their fa m i ly i n t h e l a te 1850s at the southwest corner of St. Joseph Avenue and West Main Street. They moved from there to a house in the area of Main and Cedar streets built and occupied by Jacob Beeson, a prominent early settler. The Chapins had four children, Sarah M.; Carrie E.; Charles A.; and Henry E. Sarah married J.A. Banfield and lived in Dowagiac. Carrie married the Rev. Thomas Bracken of Port Huron and had one son, Henry C., who died in infancy. Charles married Emily Coolidge and was the only child who produced grandchildren for the Chapins. Henry Chapin ran Niles’ first general store in partnership with S.S. Griffin at 219 Main St. Later, Chapin bought out his partner and went to 401 Main St. He moved back to 217 Main St. in 1860. Chapin was a victim of the financial crisis of 1861, as many were because of the Civil War. “But being a man of strict integrity and

History honesty, he at once set to work in produce, wool-buying and insurance to pay his debts.” He was enabled at the end of three years to settle with his creditors, according to his 1898 memorial booklet.

Chapin’s mine

Three stories are told about how Chapin came to own a mine. The simplest is that in May 1865, he purchased land in upper Michigan. A m o re c o l o r f u l claim is that as a merchant, Chapin was in the habit of extending credit to customers. A Niles lumberjack who worked summers in the Upper Peninsula ran up a sizable debt for needed supplies. Unable to pay cash, Chapin accepted 40 acres of what he assumed was worthless timberland in the Iron Mountain area. The third version involves Chapin’s daughter, Carrie, and her h u s b a n d , t h e Rev. Bracken, minister for a small UP church. When the lumber industry collapsed, the congregation had no money and gave him the only thing they had — a deed to a parcel of land. Chapin purchased the parcel from the Brackens so they would get some money, too, believing it worthless. At any rate, the largest deposit of iron ore in the United States at that time was discovered on this land about 1878. The property was leased to a company, which at once began to mine and ship ore. Four years later, one of the local papers See CHAPIN, page 46

By JOHN EBY

Horizons 2013 john.eby@leaderpub.com

House museum could open in May While the ballroom is on the backburner, the third floor of Chapin Mansion should be worth the wait as Niles’ former city hall metamorphoses into a house museum. “They actually had an elevator which went up to the ballroom,” Fort St. Joseph Museum Director Carol Bainbridge said. “It’s in rough

shape, but it can be restored. It could take $1 million, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating.” The ballroom boasted a grand piano, black horsehair furniture and deep rose-red carpet around the dance floor. The Chapins gave two or three balls a year, each for a different age group. See OPENING, page 45

Carol Bainbridge set furniture for the mansion is beRuby Chapin is before the city ac- high school student, said to have draped quired the home, the had a New Year’s ing gathered,Eve live flowers in the family let Niles High party in 1928. chandeliers. They had School hold its prom I n including 1 9 7 6 , san ome original bed-still to be shipped from there. Niles residents Chicago in winter. The housekeeper’s remembered room set.attendFor several years

grandson, Leo, as a

ing the party and rid-


Horizons 2013

History

OPENING Continued from page 44

ing the elevator. No one, except for the servants, can remember there being any stairs from the second to third floor. “Copshaholm in South Bend has a third-floor ballroom, but with a nice, wide stairway,” Bainbridge said. That 38-room house, one of the first in South Bend with electricity, was home to industrialist J.D. Oliver’s family. Chapin Mansion has three bedrooms — his (with the balcony), her boudoir with a separate room for sleeping and a guest room — because by the time they built it, their four children were married and living on their own. The housekeeper occupied two rooms. “They certainly had the money that they could have built bigger,” Bainbridge said. “The ballroom is elegant.” The ballroom walls were palerose painted plaster with 3 1/2-foot oak wainscoting made of narrow diagonal tongue-and-groove boards.

Part of the paneling on the north wall was removed for use downstairs, revealing brick partition walls that extend from the foundation for support. A sketch of the corner detail shows dark brown bands of color used to define areas. Hand-stenciled white medallion patterns cover almost half of the wall above the wainscoting. Two large multibranched brass chandeliers lit the ballroom, plus three gas wall lamps, each with several gas jets. There were only two windows, both at ceiling height, on opposite ends of the ballroom. They are Diocletian — arched, with two thick dividing posts. Window panes are leaded glass with different geometric patterns. Elaborate moldings frame the windows. The eye-popping arched ceiling is 20 feet high in the center and hand-stenciled using combinations of classical designs and paintings by an unknown artist. Colors used were pink, rose, cream, brown, blue and gold leaf. Bands of color separate areas of paintings.

45

Parlor photo courtesy of Fort St. Joseph Museum

This view of Chapin’s parlor is one of only two interior shots in the Fort St. Joseph Museum collection. Director Carol Bainbridge guesses it was taken in the 1920s because of the radio. The museum has a piece of wicker furniture in storage that will become part of the planned house museum since city hall relocated to the former Bank of America. Note the stenciling. This space housed the offices of City Administrator Ric Huff and his executive assistant, Diane Bass. The chandelier belongs in the dining room.

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46

History

CHAPIN Continued from page 44

s t a te d t h e C h a p i n mine employed nearly 900 men, with nearly 220,000 tons of ore sold annually at $615 a ton. Chapin mine at Iron Mountain was the second-largest producer of iron ore in the UP. A royalty was paid for every ton of ore removed. It was said Chapin’s revenue from that source amounted to $100,000 to $300,000 a year. The mine produced c o n t i n u o u s ly f ro m 1880 to 1934, so truly, Chapin could afford a magnificent home. In 1882, when he was 69, he began construction of the Chapin home, which served as Niles City Hall until the renovation of Bank of America on Second Street. It was said he climbed scaffolding of the structure to place the last brick in place on the chimney. The 1976 valuation o f t h e h o m e wa s $392,680, and $190,554 for the carriage house containing Fort St. Joseph Museum.

Other enterprises

Other enterprises of the Chapin family included many post-Civil War booms of which Chapin was able to take advantage. One was the insurance and loan business. In 1871, Henry Chapin and son, Charles A., opened an insurance office at 46 Main St. They were insurance agents for Homes Insurance Co. of New York until 1878, when iron ore was discovered on the

Horizons 2013

Cold case murder lacks motive By CRAIG HAUPERT This year, police arrested a person for the February 2010 killing of John and Carolyn Tarwacki, a Niles couple found dead in their home on Carberry Road. While that case currently plays out in the court system, Cass County officers are pursuing another cold case that is several years old. On June 25, 2007, 34-year-old Kendrick Chapman was found dead on the floor of his workshop at 66783 Kessington Road in Calvin Township, a few miles southeast of Cassopolis. An autopsy found Chapman died from a gunshot wound to the head. The last anyone heard from Chapman was on the evening of June 24 when he left a phone message for a female friend. The next morning, a delivery truck arrived with a load of steel and the driver found Chapman lying in a pool of blood. Cass County Undersheriff Lyndon Parrish said it’s a difficult case. “The murder scene was in a remote location and the victim was a solitary man

UP land. Royalties from this enabled H.A. and Charles to incorporate investments and loans into their existing business. Thus, they became H.A. Chapin and Son

craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

Kendrick Chapman was murdered in his workshop in 2007.

who kept to himself and had limited contact with other persons,” he said. “One of the first things we look for is a motive, and, at this time, there is no one clear motive that has been uncovered.” In 2009-10 a team of investigators from the FBI, Michigan State Police and Berrien County Sheriff ’s

Insurance and Loan Agents. Transactions with the “landed gentry of Niles began appearing in newspapers.” During 1882 they purchased two brick buildings on Second

Office worked on the case and attempted to uncover new leads. “Recently, we had an independent consultant review the case and assigned him a detective to work with,” Parrish said. “Unfortunately, neither of these attempts were successful in solving this case.” Parrish said there is no suspect or per-

Street, a farm of 120 acres for $6,000, two more brick buildings on Second Street for $2,300, as well as two lots on Front Street, south of Main and fronting on the river, to name a few.

son of interest at this time, and the case remains open. “We (CCSO) are still investigating the case as leads surface, however, they are few and far between at this point,” he said. “We have worked with the media to generate information, including Crime Stoppers at every anniversary, the murder being fea-

That July, the Chapin firm moved into a new office at Main and Second streets over Larimore and Dean’s Dry Goods and Grocery. Newspapers of the day state that the offices were the neatest,

tured on “America’s Most Wanted” and by going door to door in t h e n e i gh b o rh o o d quite a few times.” Anyone with information regarding this crime should contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Department website, ccso.info, and can leave an anonymous email or call the tipline at (800) 4629328. People can also contact Crime Stoppers and possibly be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $1,000. Submit an anonymous tip at MichianaCrimeStoppers.com, or through a link on their Facebook page. Smart phone users can send an anonymous tip using the free Tip Submit Mobile app. Either way, tips cannot be traced to the tipster. Crime Stoppers can be reached by phone at (800) 342-STOP, or ( 5 7 4 ) 2 8 8 - S T O P. Crime Stoppers does not have caller ID, and won’t ask for a caller’s name.

b e s t - a r ra n g e d a n d most comfortable in Niles. Rooms were richly and elegantly furnished by Mr. Drake, described as one of the best painters in the city.


Horizons 2013

History

47

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Paranormal society finds evidence of ghosts GALIEN — Kim Wieczorek is a believer. There was a time, however, when the Galien resident didn’t believe in ghosts, poltergeists, apparitions or ghouls. She said she founded The Michiana Paranormal Society in March 2010 with the goal of proving ghosts do not exist. She was a believer three months later. “After hearing the voices and seeing the video, I couldn’t deny it any longer,” Wieczorek said. “In my mind, ghosts do exist.”

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Wieczorek is approaching the three-year anniversary of her maiden voyage with The Michiana Paranormal Society. She remembers the first time her ghosthunters went on their first hunt. It was at the nowclosed Galien High School. “If you go there for three months, you’ll be a believer, too,” she said. “That’s where we hear the most unexplained loud noises — it was nothing to go down there and catch 300 voices (on recording) in one night. “It’s probably the most haunted location we’ve every gone to. It’s a ghost hunters’ paradise.” Wieczorek said they’ve since been barred from entering the school, meaning she can no longer train her ghosthunters there. Now, she trains them at Sammy’s Antiques in downtown Galien on Cleveland Street. She has eight team members. They all work for free. “Our goal is to help people, not to make money,” Wieczorek said. “I feel like I’m not helping them if we make

them pay.”

Grab a K2 meter

The Michiana Paranormal Society averages about two ghost hunts a month in the summer, but activity slows in the winter, Wieczorek said. The process works like this: People who think they have a ghost at their home or business give the paranormal society a call. Wieczorek grabs her equipment — infrared cameras, voice recorders and devices used to measure energy, such as K2 meters and EMF detectors — and performs a preliminary reading. From there, they unleash a full-blow investigation. If they find something, the team works with the tenant to help get rid of the unwanted guest. “We try to get them to cross over to the other side if we can,” she said.

Unexplainable

Wieczorek keeps her client list classified much like a doctor keeps a patient’s information private. Her scariest moment — or at least the one she has been given permission to talk about — took place at Independent Copier Service in Stevensville. She was investigating a room by herself when she felt a nudge on her arm. She turned around to find no one near her. Then she felt a strong painful poke in her stomach. “That freaked me out more than anything because I’d never had anything cause me pain before,” she said. “Once I left the room, I was fine, the pain went away instantly.” Those are the moments she lives for.


Horizons 2013

History

49

Legends never die Debunked stories continue to resurface now and again By JOHN EBY Niles’ most enduring urban legend amounts to a “total falsehood,” according to Daundra J. Baker, who opened Beeson Mausoleum on Bond Street Oct. 20, 2012, to curious history buffs. “Supposedly, Harriet Beeson came over every night after her son died and rocked him, fed him, diapered him and bathed him until his eyes fell out and she died insane in South Carolina,” Baker said. “That’s not true. Total falsehood! I don’t know who made that up, but even the family debunked it several years ago. Urban legends are hard to get rid of, but she died of consumption,” an archaic name for pulmonary tuberculosis. Sixteen vaults run l e n g t hw i s e i n t h e tomb. Five are empty. Each burial vault is secured at the end opening with engraved marble slabs. The private crypt sits in the center of a park-like setting that was beautifully landscaped at one time. A stone wall surrounds it. The mausoleum per the will was “situated on what is known as the home farm, a fine and costly family tomb erected by Strother M. Beeson in memory of his mother, Judith Ann (Broughton) Lewis.” Her name is inscribed over the door. The matriarch of the Beeson family in Niles wa s b o r n S e p t . 8 , 1784, in what is now

john.eby@leaderpub.com

Time only adds to the chronicle, according to Daundra J. Baker, who has opened the mausoleum to area history buffs. Leader photo/JOHN EBY

West Virginia, and died March 26, 1869. She moved to Niles about 1830. She had a daughter, Phoebe, and four sons, Jacob M., Job J., William B. and Strother M. William B. had a home built for her at the west end of the Main Street bridge which the VFW used for many years before it was torn down to make way for the old YMCA.

‘Bonfire stories’

Born and raised in Niles, Baker is familiar with “bonfire stories” older kids tell to scare younger children: Mr. B a l l a rd ’ s o r c h a r d , where dead Indians roamed, waiting to take a scalp; Island Park and a murder that never really took place; the French Paper Mill foot bridge beneath which a green,

There are no tunnels, no ghosts, no child walking around here crying. — Daundra J. Baker

warty troll lived; a man who lived in the culvert under Bond Street, where Silverbrook Creek entered the St. Joseph River, and ate naughty children; an alligator in the river; and the Allouez grave and fort site, both haunted. But topping the list is the Beeson home and mausoleum and the baby who died. The mother “was Strother Beeson’s first wife,” Baker said. “She was not an Indian, either, which was another legend. She was from their hometown in Uniontown, Pa., and

did not lose her mind or have to be hauled away to die in an institution. Can you imagine a grieving woman removing the heavy marble slab from the vault anyway? I was almost an adult before I discovered the baby was Job Withrow Beeson, Strother’s grandson — not his son — who died in 1870. He was the first child of William Withrow and Harriet Sophia (Bacon) Beeson.” “The carbide gas line (to keep a light burning day and night) is true,” Baker said. “I’ll show you why there

was a light in here. I think the light started the story.” She closes the door and pitch darkness envelops the vestibule.

Dramatic fiction

“There are no tunnels, no ghosts, no child walking around here crying,” Baker said. “I have never been able to verify the fact that any little girl died at Beeson Mansion — only the boy.” Harriet was pregnant with Anne Lewis Beeson when Job Withrow (May 11, 1869-April 25, 1870) died. She was born

Sept. 24, 1870. Still a child when her parents died, she was left in the care of her grandfather, Strother, who died a couple of years later, leaving her the bulk of his estate. Anne married Thomas Lyon Purdy (1854-1923) of New York at Trinity Episcopal Church in Niles on June 18, 1902. She died in New York on Oct. 11, 1956. “Daytime or night time, in my youth and later years, never have I seen, nor heard, any of the reported apparitions,” Baker says. “I have never had nor felt fear of the mausoleum. I took my daughters there and even related the old tales to them. I know stories like those told about the Beesons take on a life of their own and time only adds to the chronicle.”


50

History

Horizons 2013

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Horizons 2013

History

Seen better days

Iconic hardware store becomes casualty of econmic downturn Williams Lumber and Hardware is closing its doors this spring after operating in Niles for more than 130 years. The Williams family leaves behind an indelible mark on the city, not only with their hardware business, but also with their work on several Niles landmark buildings. Here are some of the many ways the Williams family helped build Niles. The majority of information in this article comes from the collections of local his-

torian, Donna Ochenryder.

Elks Club

Located at 102 N. 3rd St., the Elks Club was built by Williams Brothers Builders in 1929 at a cost of approximately $140,000 fully furnished. The basement area included six bowling alleys and a billiard room. In addition, a unique “refreshment” room, a gymnasium and a l a rg e l o d g e ro o m . Large sliding doors connected the tow rooms, which are on the upper floor so they could be opened for

balls and large gatherings. The “refreshment” room was actually a bar, which operated during Prohibition. The project used all Niles labor and as many as 50 men were employed on the job by the Williams Brothers.

Montgomery Ward

The Williams family remodeled the structure that became Montgomery Ward in about 1925 and again in 1933. It now houses the Four Flags Antique Mall. See STORE, page 52

51 By CRAIG HAUPERT craig.haupert@leaderpub.com

Williams family facts n James C. Williams immigrated from Wales to Michigan before there was a city named Niles where he founded a brick plant at Bertrand, which was a trading post on the old Chicago Trail. n James’ son, John, brought the first concrete mixer to Niles in 1904 and had previously installed

on e of the earliest types of handtamp cement block machines. n John’s sons, David and Henry, embarked in the builders supply line in 1916 and started their lumber yard in 1939. David’s sons, Richard and Pete Williams, continued directing business growth followed by Richard’s sons, Chris, Pierce (Skeeter) and Larry.

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52

History

STORE

Continued from page 51 Southside School

U.S. Post Office on the corner of 3rd and Main Streets, a barber shop in the basement and

the Masonic Lodge on the second and third floors.

Horizons 2013

Hess & Hainstock Shoes

In 1939, the Williams family built Hess

& Hainstock shoes on 2nd Street. It was a popular hangout for kids, who used the

store’s x-ray machine to see the bones in their feet.

In 1937/38, the Williams family moved a wooden school building from its original location at 315 N. 14 t h S t . (E a st side School) to 1450 Silverbrook where the building became Southside School. How did they do it? “We used rollers and a team of horses to make the move, including placing lumber on yards to prevent damage during the move,” said Dick Williams.

Masonic Temple

In 1880, the Williams family built the Masonic Temple building, which housed the

Donna Ochenryder collection

Carlotta Williams sits on a delivery truck in 1925.

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Horizons 2013

History

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Horizons 2013

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Horizons 2013

Fur & Farm

55

FUR AND FARM By DEBRA HAIGHT

Future grows from past: From animal shelters to dairies and stables, SW Michigan depends on animals to make lives happier

Special to Leader Publications

Paws of Hope New organization supports pets and their owners

Visit a Paws

of Hope event and you’re sure to see a lot of t a i l wa g g i n g with all the cats and dogs on hand waiting to find a new home. The new organization began last April and has already made a name for itself in the area as a group that will do everything it can for both pets and their owners. Robyn Fedor helped found Paws of Hope in April 2012. See PAWS, page 57

Michele Stein, of South Bend, Ind., spends some quality time with a cat. Leader photo/ DEBRA HAIGHT


56

Fur & Farm

Horizons 2013

Please visit our website at www.ExpoArena.org

Be a part of the dream as it turns into a reality. The Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair will be a 6.1 acre complex that will serve as a venue for horse shows, big-name concerts, livestock shows, trade shows, conventions and assemblies, wedding receptions, proms, house and garden shows, circuses, farm implement shows, tractor pulls, and much more! Your tax deductible contribution to the Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair will bring this facility to life by:

• Providing funds for the construction of the Expo Arena that will include a 500 stall stable, a 4,000 seat year-round arena, and a hospitality center that will feature a 14,000 square foot ballroom, a 1,200 seat cafeteria, and 18 classrooms/skyboxes. Plus, a 7,000 seat concert venue!

• Aiding in creating 500 new jobs across Berrien and Cass counties.

• Helping to generate $32,000,000 annually in new revenue within a 25-mile radius of the Berrien County Youth Fair grounds.

The Expo Arena is going GREEN with the addition of Solar Power!

Donations from $25 to $1,000,000+ Name _________________________________________________ Address ________________________________________________

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City _____________________ State _________ Zip ___________ Phone # _______________________________________________ Yes! I want to invest in the future of our children, our regional economy, and our communities by supporting the Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair! $ ______________________________ Please make checks payable to: BCYF Expo Arena I understand that the Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization and that my contribution is tax deductible.

For more information, please contact Jack Strayer, Director of Development & Marketing

Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair 9122 Old U.S. 31, P.O. Box 7, Berrien Springs, MI 49103 (269) 473-1662 • Fax (269) 473-4203


Horizons 2013

PAWS

Continued from page 55 “It came about from a group of like-minded people getting together and wanting to do things to help pets that we couldn’t do with other animal rescue groups,” she said. “We wanted also to be able to provide other services to the community besides rescue.” So far, the group has found homes for more than 70 cats and nearly two dozen dogs. She said the adoption process includes having the animal seen by a veterinarian, checking the prospective home and making sure the fit is right between the pet and the new family before making the match. “It’s not first come, first serve with our adoption process,” she said. “We make home visits and see which animal will be the best fit for them. That’s one of the good things about fostering pets, we can learn more about their personalities so we can match them better.” Fedor noted the goal is not to compete with other animal aid groups but to work with them to make sure cats, dogs and other pets get the care they deserve. For example, the organizat i o n i nv i te s o t h e r groups to share space with them when they have their regular animal adoption events around the area. Another example of cooperation with other organizations is Paws of Hope’s involvement with Hospice at Home’s Pet Peace of Mind program. “It lets people keep their pets when

Fur & Farm they’re sick,” she said. “The program pays for veterinary care and we might be called on to take a patient’s dog or cat to a vet or clean a litter box.” Paws of Hope also steps in when a Hospice patient dies and there’s no one to take care of their pet, she said. They take in the pet and work to find it a new home. Fedor said Paws of Hope is primarily a Berrien County-based organization, although members do go to festivals and community events in other areas to spread the word about what they do and to recruit people willing to foster pets until permanent homes can be found for them. “We’ve made a lot of great connections,” she said. “We went to the wine festival in Paw Paw and did five cat adoptions. When it’s warm weather, we have a pop-up tent and offer games for kids. I also show a slide show of all the animals we h ave ava i l a b l e fo r adoption.” Getting the animals out in the public, such as at the regular adoption events at Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor and Tractor Supply in Niles, serves a couple of purposes, she said. It’s a good way for people to see the animals available for adoption and it’s a good way for the dogs and cats to socialize. “We’re some place every weekend of the year except Labor Day, Christmas and New Year’s,” she said. The group’s calendar of events can be found at the www. paws-of-hope.org website. Getting the word out about Paws of Hope as

57 Robyn Fedor holds Buffee, a Bichon whose owner died. Leader photo/ DEBRA HAIGHT

Tracy Agostino, of South Bend, Ind., holds a pitbull. Leader photo/ DEBRA HAIGHT

well as other organizations and services dedicated to helping animals is a big part of what Fedor does. She and others go to farm-

ers markets and community events during the summer months to talk to people and she’s also arranged for an area radio station,

98.3 The Coast, to have a weekly feature about pets needing homes. For Fedor, belonging to Paws of Hope is a natural extension of her interest in dogs and cats. “For me, I’ve always had dogs and cats,” she said. “After my last dog passed away, I didn’t want to adopt another dog so I volunteered at the Humane Society. “Then I got involved in foster groups like this,” she said. “We have supporters who may buy pet supplies o r fo s te r a n i m a l s . Some do both. People do whatever they can do. People may not

have the time or situation where they can foster a pet but they can donate money or talk to others at our events.” She said the problem of abandoned pets has become worse with the downturn in the economy. “We get calls about pets that have been abandoned or left beh i n d wh e n p e o p l e move out or are foreclosed on,” she said. “We do what we can. If we don’t have a foster home, we will list the information so maybe someone else will see and can help.” Group members sometimes also end up adopting pets themselves. Leigh Anne Stanton, of Niles, is in that category. She calls herself a “foster failure” since she’s adopted two of the dogs she’s fostered. “I’ve always had dogs, I love dogs,” she said. “All my dogs are rescued dogs. I always tell my husband that they’re just visiting.” Fedor said education is a big part of what Paws of Hope is about, including the importance of spaying and neutering pets. Members of her group have taken part in a project funded by the Kalamazoo Humane Society that received a grant to trap feral cats and have them spayed or neutered to keep the cat population down. Call (269) 340-2072 to learn more about the organization.


58

Fur & Farm

Horizons 2013

Mooooo-d is right When Battle Creek College moved to Berrien Springs in 1901 — when it became Emmanuel Missionary College and later Andrews University, the name it still holds — it bought an active farm. Having a farm fit into the school’s idea of education as being a mental, physical and spiritual endeavor that involved academics and vocation. And, it fosters selfsufficiency. See DAIRY, page 60

Andrews University Dairy has been a working program for 105 years. Leader photo/TERRI GORDON

By TERRI GORDON

Special to Leader Publications

Dairy has staying-power


Horizons 2013

Fur & Farm

59

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Fur & Farm

Horizons 2013

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DAIRY

Continued from page 58

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The world is a much different place today, and much of that old farm is gone. However, its dairy is still going strong and makes for an interesting field trip for those wanting to jog old memories or reconnect with the agrarian world. “The site was selected because it was such a good place for agric u l t u r e ,” s a i d t h e dairy’s co-manager Kathy Koudele. “In fact, the farm that they bought, Garland Farms, was one of the

nicest ones in the county. “So, it started out with a lot of fruit and vegetable production, for the students to grow their own food. Also, they sold a lot to the Chicago market. Then, in 1907, they started the dairy. The milk was used locally — for the students, of course, then they sold the surplus to the community.” In the 1960s, dairies across the country were consolidating their operations. The Andrews Dairy followed suit. It closed the bottling plant and began sending the milk to larger facilities for

The dairy is a much different place from when it is was acquired by Andrews University in the early 1900s. Leader photo/ TERRI GORDON

processing. By then, the school population had changed, too. In the beginning, many of the students came from farms and were used to the work. As food production fell more and more to fewer and fewer, that changed. But the tides seem to be turning again.


Horizons 2013 People have begun to question the industries in charge of their food. They want their kids to know where food comes from. And Andrews is experiencing growth in its agriculture programs, including its intensive dairy herd management program. “We take about four students a year,” Koudele said. “It’s very one-on-one. They work side-by-side with the herdsman.” The herd at Andrews consists of more than 700 cows. It has received many awards for its milk, utilizing a nutritionist to adjust the 120 pounds of food each cow eats each day to produce roughly 10 gallons of high-quality, high-fat and high-protein milk. Much of this good milk stays local, going to Old Europe Cheese in Benton Harbor. “It’s just another confirmation that we’re doing a good job with our cows,” Koudele said. Some years ago, Andrews received a substantial donation, which allowed it to update the dairy. Automation has made life easier for workers and the cows. Pens clean themselves, and the milk machines drop from the cow when it “senses” the cow is out of milk. This saves labor for humans and is better for the cow, preventing “overmilking.” The remodeling added an observation room for visitors. Windows allow people to watch milk parlor activities and placards explain the process and offer cow facts. Milking takes place at 3 and 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.; each session lasts four hours. The dairy is found on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs. Visitors are welcome, but they should remember people are there working. And, while it is OK to walk around the grounds, the “look, but don’t touch” rule applies. Animals are animals. They are unpredictable. And these animals are large. Calves are cute and cuddly, but their immune systems aren’t developed and touching them can spread germs.

Fur & Farm

Animal alphabet

61 By JOHN EBY

john.eby@leaderpub.com

A medley of animals stays at the Berrien County Animal Shelter as expansion is considered  Berrien County is a zebra away from an animal alphabet. The pound at 9204 Huckleberry Rd., Berrien Center, began 2013 caring for 62 dogs, but also seems to double as a wildlife refuge: an alpaca in February of 2012, 435 raccoons, 104 opossums, eight woodchucks, 33 deer, two geese, two ducks, 23 rabbits, 12 bats, seven snakes, three seagulls with broken wings, two coyotes, two foxes and two turtles. Animal Control processed two swans, two chickens, 18 gerbils, a turkey in April, five finches, three potbelly pigs, a parrot, six goats, 36 skunks, 12 squirrels, a mole and a pigeon in July, a hawk in December and a dove, a woodpecker and a hummingbird in August. And don’t foget September’s sora, a

Animal shelter looks at expansion ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County has been discussing improvements to its animal control facility for 15 years. Recently, the focus has turned to expanding its existing Berrien Center location. “The room is there,” said Valarie Grimes, facility manager. “Truth be known, the people who use our shelter are in the south. Up here (in St. Joseph), they have Animal Aid and the Humane Society.”

small water bird, plus six uncategorized birds. Calls grew from 5,541 in 2010 to 6,162 in 2011 and 6,475 last year. “We’re growing every year,” said Valarie Grimes, the manager who came from Cass County Animal Control 15

Leader photo/JANELLE COLLINS

Melissa Jillson is an office worker at the Berrien County Animal Shelter.

See SHELTER, page 63

Dog census - May through October 2012 Calls on census — 9,568 Census calls returned — 3,006 New licenses sold from census — 578 Delinquent licenses sold from census — 255 Dog license sales — $48,068 Cats Males — 608 Females — 1,209 Redeemed — 44 Adopted — 303 Destroyed — 1,442

Miles — 165,859 Calls — 6,475 Dogs Male dogs impounded — 852 Female dogs impounded — 708 Total — 1,560 Redeemed by owners — 343 Adopted — 354 Destroyed — 841 Dead dogs picked up at vets — 218 Dead dogs picked up off streets — 34 License fees at shelter — $113,573 Dog bites — 228 Total disposed — 1,093

Animal Control euthanizes animals in 13 seconds in a carbon monoxide chamber.


62

Fur & Farm

Horizons 2013

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Horizons 2013

Fur & Farm

By TERRI GORDON

Special to Leader Publications

63

Horsin’ around Maintaining a stable is a serious business The horsey set is thriving in Southwest Michigan. From Western pleasure to jumping, the opportunities are endless. Stables are tucked into every nook and cranny, and they are not hurting for business. Egan Stables

One of the area’s older, more established stables is Egan Stables in Buchanan. Egan no longer owns the farm he founded, but the stables are in good hands with owner and manager Karen Lukkarila. “I have been here since ’82,” she said. “I started working here at a very young age and learned the business from the ground up from Robert C. Egan.” Egan showed hunters and jumpers from childhood, but pol-

ished his craft in the U.S. Cavalry. After World War II, he built a career and a reputation, eventually making it into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame and the Show Jumper Hall of Fame. Lukkarila purchased the farm two years ago and carries on Egan’s tradition in hunting and jumping. The stables offers riding lessons, conducts summer horse camps, puts on and participates in horse shows, and boards and leases horses. Egan Stables partic-

Ten-year-old Penny Lane makes the jump.

SHELTER Continued from page 61

years ago. “It’s horrendous” with three employees besides herself and two 2004 trucks. “The phone rings off the hook.” Differenent fates await various critters. The state requires, for example, that raccoons, opossums and skunks

picked up must be destroyed to contain any diseases. The hummingbird got into someone’s house. Some creatures, such as snakes and turtles, can be released to the parks department. Except for wildlife, most could be rehabilitated and placed.

Animals are available for adoption. Leader photo/JANELLE COLLINS

moved to Washington state. “This has been quite a year,” Grimes said. “We increased income by $25,000 and brought $289,000 into the shelter. Dogs have become more dangerous. With

Bittersweet Pet Resort & Stables

In Niles, Bittersweet Pet Resort & Stables, owned by Sandra and Andrew Stern, provides much the same thing. Alyssa Carl is the barn manager, responsible for lessons and training. She conducts camps in the summer (though she admits, for the safety of the horses as well as the riders, more time was spent in the property’s swimming pool than in the arena this past summer). Carl had also created some classes for home-schooled children. “We have three difSee HORSE, page 64

Photo provided by Egan Stables

“We have lots of cougar reports, too,” Grimes said. Her department works closely with Andrews University in Berrien Springs. A student project produced a book of color pictures before she

ipates in the Berrien County Youth Fair and rents the fairgrounds each year to hold the Twin Cities Classic, a two-day horse show. Lukkarila also supports the 4-H program, though she does not have a club herself.

pitbulls, they breed them with mastiffs. They’re getting bigger and tougher.” The dog census meant logging more miles, an increase from 127,467 in 2010 and 155,879 in 2011.

License fees climbed from $133,818 in 2010 and $198.554 in 2011 to $212,810, which Grimes attributes to offering three-year licenses. Private contributions furnished the department with $14,770.


64

Fur & Farm

HORSE

Continued from page 63

sweet. Party-goers get to ride and engage in general “horseplay.”

ferent classes,” Carl said. “This semester, I’m teaching about different breeds and how you can tell them apart.” Students also get to ride. Bittersweet Stables can school in jumping, but most lessons are pleasure riding — both English and Western. “Most people coming to me are just looking to ride,” Carl said. “Advanced courses get more technical and look at how to show. Beginner courses are more about how to handle a horse and how to control it.” Birthday parties are popular at Bitter-

Spring Creek Equestrian Center on Pardee Road in Three Oaks is the “new kid on the block” — and also an old one. Owner Alison Grosse grew up on her parents’ farm nearby. She doesn’t remember when horses were not a part of her life. She spent her youth showing them, and, when she graduated college, she began to train them. She gradually built her parents’ farm into a bona fide equestrian facility. But her operation finally outgrew the farm. She made the difficult decision to relocate. She bought the Pardee

Spring Creek Equestrian Center

Horizons 2013

Road property and erected a bigger and better barn. “We opened Dec. 1,” Grosse said. “This facility is a little bigger, a little more user-friendly.” Grosse runs horse camps, boards and leases, trains and gives lessons. Like Bittersweet Stables, Spring Creek is popular for pleasure riding. In fact, Grosse often organizes group trail rides for the tightly knit group who makes use of her stables. “We do trail riding w i t h o u r h o r s e s ,” Grosse said. “We take them to state campgrounds.” Southwest Michigan has many more stables than these. Most offer lessons and boarding. Some are English-lean-

Robert C. Egan was a premiere horseman in Southwest Michigan. He founded Egan Stables in Buchanan.

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Fur & Farm

65 ing, others are Western. Some, such as Egan Stables, focus on hunting and jumping and showing. Others p ra c t i c e d re s s a g e . Lukkarila advises people looking for a stable to ask around. “Word-of-mouth is the best way,” she said. “I suggest parents sit in on someone else’s lesson. You can see what the instructors do with the horses and how the horses behave. If a stable will not let you do that, it’s a red flag.”

The benefits of “horsing” around are myriad. There are lessons in responsibility. There is getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. There is physical exercise. “It gets people outside, dealing with nature, and dealing with something they don’t know,” Carl said. “It puts people out there to learn something new and maybe get into something that’s really good exercise, and you can do it for a lifetime.”

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On Stage

ON STAGE

Horizons 2013

Playing out the future: New homes for theatrical events allow local talent to rise and find their place on the world’s stage

Renewed character

Barn Swallow Theatre rises as a phoenix By JOHN EBY

john.eby@leaderpub.com

Barn Swallow Theatre, organized 30 years ago in August 1983 in Edwardsburg, might better be named for another winged creature — the phoenix, in Greek mythology, a long-lived bird that is cyclically reborn. Fire left the original theater in ashes and led to years of nomadic wandering, See PHOENIX, page 67

Cassopolis artist Ruth Andrews painted this mural which greets patrons of Barn Swallow Theatre.


Horizons 2013

On Stage

Heeter takes theater experience to national spotlight

By JOHN EBY

67 john.eby@leaderpub.com

Aaron Heeter served as a central hub to facilitate SMC’s growing performing arts department, during his four years as technical director, 19992003.

Aaron Heeter cut his theatrical teeth at Dowagiac Central Middle School, Beckwith Theatre and Southwestern Michigan College, bu,t when we spoke to the former Oprah Winfrey employee, filming had just wrapped on Martin Scorcese’s Christmas 2013 project. See HEETER, page 68

PHOENIX Continued from page 66

Barn Swallow persevered and found a permanent home in 2011 in the brick Adamsville Evangelical United Brethren Church built in 1966 at 22334 U.S. 12. Barn Swallow first performed Edgar Lee Master’s “Spoon River Anthology” in the summer of 1985. The theater performed three plays each summer for 19 years on a stage in the center of the barn on Hospital Street near Cassopolis. The season usually consisted of a drama, a children’s play and a musical, produced and directed by devoted volunteers. After the 2004 season, group members cleaned the barn, took down the lights and covered the seats on the first Saturday in October, as they did each year. The following Monday night, a fire of unknown origin broke out in the other barn on the premises and

spread to the theater. Although firefighters from Cassopolis, Penn Township, Edwardsburg and Dowagiac came, flames consumed both barns. Barn Swallow’s spirit endured, with the 2005 season performed at the Cassopolis high school auditorium. Seasons since have seen performances at Cass County Council on Aging, Edwardsburg Public Schools and Southwestern Michigan College.

Barn Swallow Theatre Board of Governors had dinner theater productions, car washes and individual donations to raise m on ey i n hop e of erecting its own permanent home. In 2011, an opportunity presented itself in the form of the church being sold. With donations from many friends of Barn Swallow Theatre, the church was acquired. “Our first performance was ‘Godspell’

in August 2011,” according to Vice President Lois Owen, who works at SMC. “In 2012, we presented ‘Honk Jr.’ for our children’s play in August, ‘Quilters the Musical’ in September and ‘A Pebble Among the Rocks’ in October. We ended the season (Nov. 17) with a variety show and pie auction for our fundraiser.” Church classrooms became Americans with Disabilities Actcompliant restrooms. There is also a conces-

sion area, board room and a full basement. “We still have a lot of plans for the theater in the future,” Owen said. “These include air conditioning, sound system, light board, renovating rooms in the basement for dressing rooms for actors, new carpeting for the lobby and general maintenance. We will continue to do different fundraisers to be able to implement our future plans. We hope to have many years of

music, drama, laughs and tears with the wonderful actors who will grace our stage in the future. “We hope to continue to receive support for community thea t e r,” O w e n s a i d , “whether it is seeing a performance, participating in one of our fundraisers or just sending us a donation. All will be appreciated.” The 2013 schedule will be determined after meetings resume in February.

Inside, the former sanctuary is reminiscent of Dowagiac’s Beckwith Theatre, adapted from the former First United Methodist Church. Moore Theatres, which owns Wonderland Cinema in Niles, donated seating for 100. Leader photo/JOHN EBY


68

On Stage

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HEETER Continued from page 67

The $100 million film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” will be the director’s fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. It also stars Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey and tells Jordan Belfort’s story about a New York stockbroker, played by DiCaprio, who refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving Wall Street corruption, the corporate banking world and mob infiltration. Heeter, 35, served as set decorating assistant and clearance coordinator. After his years in Chicago, New York City is his home base for the time being, “where I keep all of my stuff.” “ I l i ke t o l e ave things open,” the 1996 Union High School graduate said. “If I have an opportunity in London or Paris, I don’t want to rule that o u t . I d o n’ t k n ow what’s next. I don’t want to limit myself.” “I feel rooted in Dowagiac regardless of where I go,” he said. “’The Wolf of Wall Street’ began filming just before Labor Day. His specialized position focused on obtaining releases for art, sculptures, logos and books which appear in the film. He attended the wrap party, but “I don’t g e t e xc i t e d a b o u t meeting celebrities.”

Rooting for Beckwith

He is not only aware of Beckwith Theatre’s survival struggle, he donated online. “I would be really deeply saddened if it closed,” Heeter said. “From people I talk to,

Horizons 2013 I feel the interest is there for it to succeed.” It’s been more than 20 years since the spring of 1992 when his eighth grade English teacher, Ester Stanley, introduced him to the late Keith Cooper, DUHS Drama Club adviser. In high school, Heeter, whose mom, Debbie, is administrative assistant to Supt. Dr. Mark Daniel, saw himself going into nursing. “I didn’t think of it as a career until Maryanne Arena at the college,” Heeter said. “Lincoln Clark had stepped away and needed a fillin.” Heeter served as a central hub to facilitate SMC’s growing performing arts department, during his four years as technical director, 1999-2003. He assisted with the transition of the new dance and movement department, remodeling the 350-plus theater space, upgraded the dimmer-per-circuit lighting system, laid the groundwork for a dedicated scene shop, black box performance space and infrastructure upgrades to fly house and audio/lighting control. “Technical interested me,” he said, “but I kind of got stuck and hit the glass ceiling for lack of a better term.” He then set his sights on Chicago and Steppenwolf Theatre Company (two years, 2003-2005) through contacts he had in Cassopolis. Another contact who recognized his name led him to Drury Lane, where he gave DUHS Fine Arts Club a tour. Did he ever want to act? He tried a fall play in high school, but “botched” his scenes.

“In high school,” form e r t e a c h e r Te r i Frantz recalls, “Aaron had to fill-in as a minister in one of Keith Cooper’s plays. He came out, started his lines, messed up, stopped and said, ‘Let me start over again.’ Then he nearly knocked down a wall trying to exit stage right.” Frantz said Heeter did a spot-on Will Ferrell as the cheerleader for Senior Night. Frantz also remembers him playing Jack in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” at SMC and “Three Tall Women” at the Beckwith. He did “Music Man” in college, but, ultimately, it involved “too much work” trying to juggle lines with the technical stuff that interested him more. Heeter, who also studied theater design and lighting at Columbia College in Chicago during 2003-2005, was asked by a Steppenwolf co-worker if he would be interested in helping at Harpo in removing the grid at the top of the studio to install a new set. “They needed a ton of labor,” said Heeter, who turned the opening into six years, July 2005-July 2011.

Working for Oprah

“My interactions with Oprah in the last two to three seasons were on stage,” he said. “She would come on stage before a segment. She’s great, an incomparable boss, terribly generous. I definitely feel her personality puts electricity in the room when y o u ’ r e w i t h h e r. T h e re ’ s s o m e t h i n g special about her. I don’t know what it is, but I feel blessed.” They knew the


Horizons 2013 show was ending a year and a half before the countdown shows to May 25, 2011, finale at the United Center his mother attended. “I miss my co-workers,” he said. “Lifelong friendships develop working 16-hour days. You develop trust and this really fluid relation of knowing what co-workers are going to do before they do.” Working Harpo’s (Oprah backward) production design department meant working with props and implementing designs. For a cooking segment, that meant obtaining everything on the counter. To recreate Mary Tyler Moore’s Minneapolis apartment set, Heeter borrowed a Round Oak stove from The Museum at Southwestern Michigan College. Or, they replicated “The Cosby Show “set, Yosemite National Forest or turned the studio into a parking garage, usually “in a short, crazy amount of time” — 48 hours or less. Theme shows took hundreds of hours of planning and building, such as hand-sewn fabric boxes. His department fluctuated from 26 to 32 employees on the Emmy-winning talk show. When “The Oprah Winfrey Show” wrapped, Heeter spent six months working on a haunted house in Chicago with a friend, then drove to New York. “I had zero leads,” he said. “I knew I needed to be here and settle for six weeks after working so long for so many months.” He started 2012 with the 900-seat SkirSee HEETER, page 72

On Stage By JOHN EBY

69 john.eby@leaderpub.com

This was how the Ready interior appeared in August 2012 with a large movable screen frame that extends 40 feet in the air. Cleaning and painting restored some opulence.

Ready aims for festival opening The Ready still isn’t ready, but it could be this fall when Wonderland Cinema brings April’s Myrtle Beach, S.C., International Film Festival back to Niles and South Haven for a second year.

Photo courtesy CAROL MOORE

The 25-foot strip of property between the theater and the Four Flags Hotel building will be partially filled by new restrooms that are under construction. Carol A. Moore, president of Ready Theatre Inc., is working towards a downtown venue for movies and live entertainment. See READY, page 72

New restrooms have been framed in the 25-foot strip of property between the Ready and the Four Flags Hotel building. An elevator is also envisioned on that side of the theater, which is evolving into a downtown venue for movies and live entertainment. The entrance was temporarily boarded over to keep heat inside. Leader photo/JOHN EBY


70

On Stage

Horizons 2013

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Horizons 2013

On Stage

71

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On Stage

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READY

Continued from page 69 Her response to everyone seeking information about last summer’s flurry of activity at the dormant 1920s movie house has been, “The Ready is not ready.” “There is no schedule for opening the Ready,” she said in September. “While I truly appreciate the overwhelming interest and the Niles community support for the Ready since I reopened it in 1983, I am unwilling to now speculate as to when it will open again. “When the Ready wa s re m o d e l e d i n 1983, those renovations were made to

HEETER Continued from page 69

ball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University in lower Manhattan. In June, he added stage manager for agency EA.

Dogwood generation

Heeter entered DUHS during the first wave of Dogwood Fine Arts Festival bringing

Horizons 2013 make it easy to reopen the Ready as one large auditorium. “My goal is to open the Ready as a venue for movies and live entertainment. I want to emphasize how the support of the people of Niles has motivated me. I feel future patrons will appreciate the benefits of the much lower costs that are resulting from going slowly.” The Ready seated more than 1,000 before its subdivision into four screens. Paramount Pictures operated the Ready in the 1940s through a subsidiary, Butterfield Michigan Theatres Inc. The Ready will complement Moore’s Wonderland Cinema, where weekend showings typically sell out. The six-screen the-

ater, with spaces seating 100 to 299 patrons, moved into the renovated Wonderland Discount Store on North Front Street at the end of 2004. Charles Nelson of Moore Theatres, which owns Wonderland, 402 N. Front St., said Feb. 6 they have also been reviewing options for a suitable marquee. The film festival brought independent releases from Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, showing more than 35 titles from the seventh annual festival in South Carolina. Films were divided into 10 blocks over four days in early November. Each two-hour block offered an assortment, from fourminute shorts to fulllength features.

world-class authors, artists and performers to town and into the schools. “I instantly think of Shirley Laylin, Thelda Mathews and Rich F r a n t z ,” h e s a i d . “Those people are saints to me. I would move mountains for them. They’re tireless bringing arts to Dowagiac. “When I tell friends of mine now in New York I met Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer, it really makes me wish I could go back to Gwendolyn Brooks and

start over. At 15, you’re too squirrelly to take advantage of the moment and pay more attention.” Between paying dues at SMC and Beckwith Theatre, combined with his parents’ work ethic, “The work I did there gave me a d i s t i n c t a dva n t a g e over people coming right out of college,” Heeter said. “I’ve always been kind of successful at setting a goal, even if I didn’t know the direct path to get there. It takes luck, too.”

I’ve always been kind of successful at setting a goal. — Aaron Heeter


Horizons 2013

On Stage

73


74

On Stage

Horizons 2013

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Horizons 2013

Economy

OUR ECONOMY By DEBRA HAIGHT

75

Forecasting the future: While downtown districts are struggling for expansion, workers struggle to make sense of a frail economy

Special to Leader Publications

Downtown regeneration

Shop owners keep the vision

The shops might be different along with the state of their economic progress, but the Buchanan, Dowagiac and Niles downtowns do have something in common. Leaders and shop owners in each community have a determination to succeed no matter the odds. The Dowagiac downtown has been the one other towns in the area look to over the past two decades. See SHOPS, page 76

School children fish off the Main Street bridge with a view of downtown Niles. Leader photo/ KIMBERLY WYNN


76

Economy

Continued from page 75 While other towns have struggled to keep shops open and storefronts filled, they’ve looked to Dowagiac as an example of what could be done and tried to follow in its footsteps. Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Develoment Authority Director Vickie Phillipson said the Dowagiac renaissance began when city leaders embarked on a streetscape project in the early 1990s that made Front Street a place where people wanted to open businesses and where others wanted to come. “Dowagiac, which was one of the first communities in Southwestern Michigan to

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redevelop its central business district, continues to set the pace for small town redevelopment,” Phillipson said. “Recognizing the heart of any community is the central business district, the city and the DDA launched an extensive multistreetscape redevelopm e n t i n t h e e a rly 1990s.” “Like a domino effect, one storefront after another was renovated,” she said. “As a result of this public and private investment, Dowagiac was able to create a downtown environment that was, and continues to be, attractive to both new and growing business owners and private investors.” She said she thinks Dowagiac has been helped by the mix of multigenerational

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business owners sticking it out through the rough times along with new people coming into the downtown to make their mark in the community. Sue Kazlauskas owns The Marshall Shoppe and is one of those multigenerational owners Phillipson mentioned. She bought the shop from her

mother in 1991 at about the same time as the streetscape project was starting. “I bought it in March of that year, and, by May, there was nothing but dirt outside the front door,” she said. “Now, a lot of surrounding towns look at Dowagiac as a happening town.” She thinks Dowagi-

ac has been successful because of the mix of longtime stores such as hers, Caruso’s Candy & Soda Shop, Judd Lumber, as well as the newer ones like the Wood Fire Italian Trattoria, the Wounded Minnow Saloon, Vincent J Jewelers and Saylor’s Pizzeria. “You can find the next new thing here

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Economy

77

Downtown Dowagiac is picturesque in any kind of weather. Leader photo/JOHN EBY

than big box stores and malls. In Niles and Buchanan, the revitalization efforts came later t h a n i n D owa g i a c . While Dowagiac was getting down and dirty with redoing streetscapes in the early 1990s, Niles and Buchanan didn’t do it until the past decade. The “Niles Revolution” began with the “Big Brown Takedown” of the Kawneer storefronts on Main Street in 2003 and 2004 along with the accompanying streetscape i m p rove m e n t s d e signed to make the downtown a more inviting place to stop and shop. As DDA and Main Street Manager Lisa Croteau noted, it also helped when Niles became a Michigan Main Street community in 2005 and had its first successful Hunter Ice Festival that year. People were beginning to see Niles as a viable

place to do business and many of the empty storefronts started filling. Croteau said the new streetscape and taking down the Kawneer storefronts gave the city a needed impetus to reinvent itself. “Taking down the Kawneer storefronts gave the city back its charm and character,” she said. “It made people look at Niles again as a place to invest, open a business and live.” She sees turning a downtown around as a 20-year process and thinks Niles is about half way through it. “It’s worth the fight,” she said as she noted the efforts made over the years to do everything from the Big Brown Takedown to starting annual c o m m u n i t y eve n t s such as the Hunter Ice Festival and Arts in Motion. She thinks the Niles downtown has a pretty

good mix of businesses, whether it’s antiques and other specialty shops or candy shops, restaurants and clothing stores. Linda Skwarcan and her husband bought Veni’s Sweet Shop a few years ago and symbolize what the new Niles downtown is all about with the combination of the new and the old. In buying the shop, they kept a longtime tradition alive and, at the same time, brought it into the 21st century with a new online business. “When we moved to Niles from South Bend, we knew about Veni’s and when Al (Marazita) passed away, my husband told the family that we were interested in buying it,” she said. “We bought it in April 2008. The store has been an anchor in the downtown for a long time.” Although she and her husband hadn’t

been in the candy business before, they decided to give it a try. “ We t h o u g h t i t would be a good business,” she said. “We also liked the small town feel we found in Niles. We like that it’s a close community with a lot of community support.” Skwarcan said it’s nice to continue the

Veni’s tradition whether it’s people coming in and reminiscing about their childhood experience of stopping by the shop to pick up a treat or it’s a new generation of kids stopping by with just enough money to buy a piece of candy. She’s also glad the store is gaining a reputation outside of Niles

as the place to go for good candy and treats. “The state of Michigan put out a list of the top 10 sweet things to do, and we were No. 2,” she said. “We didn’t know anything about it until it was published. We’re also getting people coming from Chicago to find us.” She credits commuSee TOWNS, page 80

Brittanie Ritchey and Linda Skwarcan work in Veni’s Sweet Shop in Niles. Leader photo/ DEBRA HAIGHT


78

Economy

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Economy

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nity leaders and downtown business owners working together for the downtown’s success. “The busier the downtown is, the nicer it is for all of us,” she said. The Buchanan downtown is more of a “work in progress” as one downtown merchant puts it. Like Niles, the downtown got a facelift with a new streetscape in the early 2000s and also like Niles is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Both communities took advantage of state grants in the early part of the 2000s to not only physically change the look of their downtowns but also provide funding to encourage people to live downtown in renovated apartments on the sec-

ond and third floors of downtown buildings. W h i l e t h e streetscape and upperfloor apartment renovations were both p re t t y m u c h d o n e when he came, Alan Robandt’s arrival in Buchanan was in many ways a catalyst for the d o w n t o w n re n a i s sance. Robandt had family ties to Berrien County but was an established Chicago antique dealer when he decided to make the move to this area. He chose to relocate to Buchanan partially for pragmatic reasons as real estate prices weren’t as high in Buchanan as they were closer to Lake Michigan in Harbor Country but also because he saw the potential and was impressed with the community’s respect for history and the arts. “It felt like an unspoiled small town with tremendous potential,” he said. “I was

influenced by the fact that Buchanan had an art center, a garden club and a preservation society. I thought ‘how cool’ when I saw all these smart and bright people who were great volunteers.” In his view, the Niles and Buchanan downtowns face bigger challenges than Dowagiac because Dowagiac is farther away from the malls and shopping strips in the South Bend area. “They can support a different kind of local store because the alternative is 45 minutes away rather than 10 minutes,” he said. Robandt sees the Buchanan downtown as having a lot of the key ingredients to be successful, such as having business owners such as himself living downtown and already having a focus on art and historical preservation with only a few items missing, such as a destination restaurant or two.


Horizons 2013

Economy

Business in action

81 By DEBRA HAIGHT

Special to Leader Publications

Pizza Transit moved to a dinein location at 215 E. Main St. in Niles in April.

Shops open, close doors in 2012

Niles 2012 openings

n Alley Katz (antiques) n 2C Construction n Holiday Inn Suites n Olfactory Hue restaurant n Bussero Bottoms Ta x i d e r my ( i n s i d e Trailhead Mercantile) n Ravitron Equipment — opened in March, closed in October n Express Auto n Back to Basics n Extreme Discounts warehouse n MCM Discounts

Niles 2012 closings

n Second Time Around n Lightning Automotive n The Shoppe Hair Salon n Kelly Real Estate n Michiana Landscapes n Francesca’s Salon

Niles moves/new locations n Studio 224 n M-51 Auto Sales n Subway n Hob Nob n Pizza Transit

Buchanan 2012 openings

Leader file photo

n All-Clean Cleaning Service n Hilltop Marathon n Automotion Complete Car Care n Bruno’s Pizza n Bucktown Studio n Sandy’s Floral Boutique

Cass County 2012 closings

n Hess Industries n Sindelar Woodworking

Cass County expansions/ relocations:

Buchanan 2012 moves/relocations

n Vickers Engineering n Family Dollar n Frame Products

Cass County 2012 openings

n B & W Enterprise n Painter

n E-Scrap n Adam Christie nDowagiac E’cycling

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Economy

83

Photography business grows up The taking of images has been transformed by technology, but it still pays to have a good eye By JANELLE COLLINS

Special to Leader Publications

The conception of photography can be traced back as far as 1725, before it was a business or a hobby or a form of self-expression. It was a revolutionizing concept: to be able to capture life in real time, as it happened. It was unheard of, and, therefore, excitedly developed and explored. The first photograph appeared around 1826 by French doctor Nicéphore Niépce. It took eight hours to expose that single image. Now in an eight-hour time period, you can take thousands of images.

From the 1800s to present day, the idea and business of photography has continued to expand and develop. Derrick Peters, a 27-year-old photographer based in Berrien Springs, recalls how much photography has changed just in the short time he’s worked in the business. “Four megapixels in 2003 was a lot. The next summer, I worked really hard and I paid $1,200 for a five megapixel camera, which is what iPhones have now.” The technology in cameras has seen a tremendous change within the past decade, as has the idea of photography as a business. Kim Ortiz, a professional photographer who has worked with Lifetouch for the past 20 years, has seen the demand in photography change drastically. “When I first started

… photography was almost something only rich people did. “They might have a family portrait taken once, and they wouldn’t have another one taken for quite a few years,” Ortiz said. Now, Ortiz sees a g re a t d e m a n d h a s grown for niche markets, specifically senior p o r t ra i t s fo r h i g h school students. “The high school senior pictures has just become its own niche in the world … it’s gotten really big. And with the advent of digital photography, I mean, you take pictures on your phone that look really good. [But] a picture taker and a photographer are two different things.” Having access to a digital camera is easier than ever. With this ease of accessibility, many have ventured in starting their own

Hayley Moore, of Cassopolis, opened a photography business, Amour Memories.

businesses. Hayley Moore, 18, of Cassopolis, recently began her business, Amour Memories. “I’ve been interested in it since I was 7. I’d use my mom’s camera,” Moore said, commenting on her youth

as a factor in her success. “I wanted to start young because usually people are successful when they do things young,” she said. While it is an exciting journey to take at her age, she says there

were things she underestimated starting out. “I didn’t think it’d be so hard to get clients and setting up appointments. There’s so much business stuff to it.” Along with growth in the business side of

photography and the accessibility of digital cameras, editing software has played a large role in the development of this field. With retouching tools, such as Photoshop, photos can be significantly manipulated from how they were originally captured. Ortiz says, that despite this, there are still good photographers who see their business as an art form. “The value of a really good photographer who knows their equipment, knows their technology, who can bring out the best in people, is not as valued as it used to be, but I think that it’s starting to come around,” she said.


84

Economy

Horizons 2013

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Cassopolis may be one of the smallest towns in Cass County, but it is the hub when it comes to government. Despite having just 1,771 residents, according to 2011 census figures, it is the county seat, site of the courthouse, sheriff ’s department and animal control facilities along with other county services. T h e v i l l a g e wa s named after promi-

nent U.S. Senator Lewis Cass. Cass was the Michigan territorial governor when the Village of Cassopolis was organized in 1829 with a population of about 900. It became the county seat in 1834. The historic Cass County Courthouse was finished in October 1900. It remained the center of county government until 2003 when the new Law and Courts Building opened. Despite the recent economic downturn, the village continues to

plan for its future. One of the more recent events the community has put in place to promote unity is Christmas in Cassopolis. In its second year, hundreds of village residents turned out to celebrate the season with hot chocolate and doughnuts, a holiday bazaar, caroling on a truck-drawn wagon, placing of ornaments on the Christmas tree and the lighting of the tree. One of the organizers of the event, VilSee HUB, page 87


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Continued from page 84 lage Council member Cynthia Ash said one of her goals when she joined the council was to promote community pride. “I wanted people to be happy that they were from Cassopolis,” she said. “Last year was our first year, and I thought it went great. We had tons of people o u t t h e re . We d i d Christmas caroling and the wagon was full. Then we lit the tree, and people didn’t want to go home. They stood around and talked. “I received wonderful comments from residents that saw and heard the carolers, led by Carmen Peake, as they went through

Economy town. “Santa and Mrs. Claus were an added treat to the caroling wagon this year. There were many that contributed to the success of the day’s events. I think it is a good sign of wonderful things to come in the village.” Christmas isn’t the only reason to visit Cassopolis. There is plenty of local history to take in. Here is a brief look at some of the things that make Cassopolis a place worth visiting:

Stone Lake — Shoestring Park

The wooden boardwalk takes visitors to Stone Lake, one of the main reasons why residents settled in the village. There is a pavilion made by a local black-

smith and artist, Haro l d N e l s o n , wh i c h gives residents an area to hold picnics. At the north end of the park is a 1916 Krupp 15 CM Howitzer, which was a standard German-issued weapon used during World War I.

Pioneer Log Cabin Museum

Located along the shore of Stone Lake and next to Shoestring Park, the Pioneer Log Cabin Museum holds an array of artifacts from Cass County’s past. It is an authentic cabin built with logs that were donated by farmers in 1923.

Diamond Lake

Another reason why settlers found Cassopolis a desirable place to live — Diamond

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Dussel’s Farm market

In addition to their fresh seasonal and local produce Dussel’s carries a variety of homemade jams, jellies, coffees, candy, gourmet mixes, specialty coffees and other grocery items supplied by local bakeries.

Dussel’s Greenhouses

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Lake. It sits southeast of the village and has become the permanent home of many former Chicago summer residents and their luxury homes, which dot its shoreline.

Red Brick Museum

Located two miles south of Cassopolis on M-62, the Red Brick Museum is open by appointment (445-2907). The one-room schoolhouse allows visitors to step back in time when these buildings were found throughout the county. The inside of the Red Brick School was built in 1848, and it reflects the style and equipment used by schools from the mid1800s to the mid1960s.

Cass County

87 Council on Aging

The Council on Aging is located outside of Cassopolis to the east on the corner of M-60 and Decatur Road. The facility, built on property which was a gift from the Edward Lowe Foundation, provides programs and services for Cass County’s elderly. There are adult day services, a fitness facility, food services and a place where seniors can gather and participate in events, such as computer assistance, movies for grown-ups and a variety of classes.

K&M

The reknowned fabricating facility sits across M-60 from the Council on Aging and is Cass County’s largest employer.

K&M Manufacturing was founded in 1951 and is a leader in fabricating and machining of major component parts for heavy equipment, diesel locomotives, as well as mining, energy and agriculture industries.

Iven Kincheloe Memorial

Sitting kitty-corner from the Council on Aging, the Iven Kincheloe Memorial comm e m o ra te s o n e o f America’s aviation pioneers — Capt. Iven Kincheloe Jr. Kincheloe was a test pilot who took the X-2 rocket plane to an altitude of 126,200 feet on Sept. 7, 1956. He was killed two years later while performing another test flight.


88

Economy

Set up to fail? Retired teachers fear the worst for the economy’s impact on public education   Last year, Gov. Snyder signed Public Act 300 into law. This new legislation will increase the retirement contribution of Michigan’s education employees and was designed to make up for $45 billion in unfunded liabilities that the Michigan Public School Retirement System or MPSRS will be facing in coming years. Currently, $28 billion of that liability is in health care costs and that number continues to rise. Presently, there are 237,000 members paying into the MPSRS system, but there are 192,000 retired employees drawing benefits with the number of educators retiring increasing each year.

Fred Summerfeldt, a special education teacher who recently retired from Berrien RESA after 30 years of service, said he worries about the future of his pension. “I had been hearing rumors that they intended to change the retirement system so I felt that it was time to leave,” said Summerfeldt. “But one of the frustrating things is that my pension is now being taxed. Thankfully, my wife is still working so we are able to get by, but things would be a lot different if she wasn’t.” With the enactment of the new law, 450,000 current education employees and retirees found the financial plans they had been working toward for

years are in jeopardy. Educators that have been paying into the system throughout their careers are now worried about their retirement future. Retirees under age 65 will be paying 20 percent of their health care premium, which is double what they had been expected to pay, and now m a ny a re wo r r i e d health care costs will become unaffordable for them. Many retirees say this legislation is not fair and the state is not honoring its commitments to them after years of paying into the system and for their professional dedication. Nearly 7,000 educators retired last year, and many of them did so out of fear they would lose their pension altogether.

Many of these new retirees also decided to leave the classroom because they were unwilling to participate in a public education system that they feel is being set up to fail. New education policies that have been passed in Lansing in recent years have made radical changes to the old system and the role of educators was beginning to change and, in the opinion of many teachers, not necessarily for the better. Summerfeldt said he would be wary of advising someone to go into education right now. “With the K-12 funding cuts to school budgets, districts are left with no choice but to cut salaries and benefits, making it hard for new teachers to recoup the investment they’ve made into becoming an educator. “Teachers are expected to pay for a lot out of their pocket now; many are paying for a lot of their own classroom materials,” he said. “They are also expected to maintain their certification through continuing to take classes that they are also expected to pay for. And with the level of education that is now required, new teachers would do better working in the private sector.” According to the Michigan Education Association of the approx-

imately 7,500 new teacher graduates in 2011, 5,000 left the state to find better paying jobs.

Kathy Sanden

K a t hy S a n d e n , a Bridgman special education teacher for 37 years, also became worried when the Republican majority that was voted into office in 2010 started making major changes to the public education system. “I loved my job and enjoyed working with my students, but using standardized testing was never going to work for special education,” Sanden said. “You just can’t measure their progress that way; every student must be measured on an individual basis. Standardized testing just demonstrates how much our politicians don’t understand about how education works.” According to Sanden, many teachers were hurt by the disrespectful attitude towards educators from Lansing and how they were being portrayed. “For the first 30 or so years that I taught, teachers were treated with respect and as professionals, now they are being called greedy and demonized by politicians so they can turn the public education system over to for-profit corporations. I no longer wished to work in that environment,”

Horizons 2013 By WILLIAM CRANDELL Special to Leader Publications

Is teaching a viable career? Kathy Sanden When asked if she would advise someone to go into education, she said, “I worry about young kids graduating from college, burdened with student loan debt and not being able to make it. “I used to keep an eye out for bright young kids that I knew would make great teachers and recommend that they go into teaching, but not now. I’m worried about their future and whether it will be a career that’s worthwhile.” Melissa Clapper When asked if she would recommend young people to go into education she acknowledged she would tell them to think long and hard about that decision. “I think there will always be people certified to teach, but how long will they stay? Pretty soon, it won’t be considered a lifelong career anymore. Teaching will just be a job for someone until they find something better.” Fred Summerfeldt “With the way they are acting in Lansing these days, I expect things to get worse before they get better. It just doesn’t pay to become an educator right now,” Summerfeldt said.

said Sanden, explaining that she feels turning education over to corporations will destroy the public education system as we know it. “Education is not a business; it can’t be run like a factory. Our children are not parts in a machine and making a profit cannot be the No. 1 priority and still give

students the education they deserve. These new policies are setting schools up to fail, and they’ve been designed by politicians who’ve never set foot in a classroom. I just don’t see things getting any better, so it was time for me to leave.” Sanden has always been an active member


Horizons 2013

Economy

of the Michigan Education Association and, even though she has retired, she is still a champion of the rights of educators. “As a retired teacher, I felt obligated to attend the recent Right to Work demonstration in Lansing. Most of the young teachers here in Southwestern Michigan were worried about losing their jobs if they took a day off to go. Someone has to stand up for them, so I went in their place. We need to continue to fight for the future of our children.”

Barb Keech

Barb Keech retired in 2012 after 25 years as a paraprofessional at Berrien RESA. “One of the main reasons I retired was because of the new increases in health care

costs. When they passed the 80/20 insurance law, I knew that I was going to be broke either way. My deductibles were going up and my insurance premium was almost going to triple. I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to pay that extra expense. By retiring, my daily expenses are down, and, if we are careful, we can get by. Another reason was that I wanted to escape whatever ugly legislation that would be coming out of Lansing next. For two years, it felt like they were constantly punishing and kicking us for being in education and being part of a union. I just didn’t think that I could take it anymore. I took a loss on my retirement by leaving early, but I’m much happier now. I

wanted to get out while I still could with the pension that I had paid into and might be enough to live off.” When asked if she would advise new people to get into education she said she would not. “It’s all about money now for both the politicians and the administrators running the school, and I don’t see things getting any better at least for awhile. They’re trying to weed out the older higher paid people, so they can get in younger people and not pay them as much. “With their efforts toward privatization, it’s only a matter of time before all support staff will be making minimum wage with no benefits, and they’re not going to be able to keep people for that. I

don’t see it as a career anymore.” She said she also worries about the new trends towards cyber schools and feels students will miss out on much of the school experience, such as group socialization and being involved with school activities. “How will these kids learn to work with groups of people, such as in the workplace?” she questions. “Isolating our children will not be good for our society as a whole.” Even though she is enjoying her retirement, Keech said she wishes she didn’t have to leave under these circumstances. “It makes me sad that I had to leave in the middle of such turmoil,” she said. “We were like a family for a long time, and,

89 now that it’s all about money, it’s become impersonal. It’s the kids who are going to lose in the end.”

Melissa Clapper

Melissa Clapper taught first grade in Berrien Springs for 26 years and has no regrets about retiring. “I felt that it was time, teaching has become about politics now, and politicians don’t understand teaching and what we do or how important our role is in society,” Clapper said. “We mold future generations, we feed and care for our kids and we watch over them and prepare them to become citizens. Now it’s all about preparation for testing so that the district can maintain funding. One of the things that I’ve always loved about

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teaching first grade was watching that light come on in their head, when a child finally understood something and would become excited about learning. We are going to lose that if we spend all our time teaching them about what’s going to be on the state tests and don’t have time to expand on a subject or give the kids the extra time they need to learn something.” Clapper said she also understands things have to change. That education has to evolve but believes that we don’t have to throw everything out. “We should hold onto methods that have proven to work and not just make changes for the sake of change. Too often, students get lost in the battle of partisan politics,” she said.

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Faith

OUR FAITH By DEBRA HAIGHT

91

Believing in the future Leaders and followers of many religions provide a spiritual foundation to Southwest Michigan that reaches out to the community when in need

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Believing in both Father God and Mother Earth comes naturally to members of the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi. Many tribal members don’t find it hard to follow the tenets of both their Christian and native beliefs. The roots of the Pokagon Band’s Christian faith run deep i n S o u t hwe s t Michigan to the days of Leopold Pokagon. See SPIRITUAL, page 92

Rooted beliefs expand Elements of different worlds incorporated into faith

Youngsters take part in a ceremonial procession at a pow wow in Southwest Michigan. Leader file photo


92

Faith

SPIRITUAL Continued from page 91 Pokagon negotiated successfully with the United States government to let members of his tribe stay here instead of being removed to Oklahoma and Kansas in the first half of the 19th century. Pokagon told the U.S. government that members of his tribe were Catholic and had only peaceful intentions. “He’s the reason why we’re still here,” tribal member Art Morsaw said. “He wouldn’t sign the treaties. “He said tribal members were all baptized Catholics and that they weren’t violent so we were allowed to stay.” The band’s ties to

this area and to Catholicism have remained strong over the centuries, from their connection to the founders of the University of Notre Dame to the re-establishment of the Pokagon headquarters near Dowagiac in the past few decades.

New pathways

Today, while many Pokagon tribal members continue to follow the Catholic faith, others are forging different paths including belonging to Protestant churches, going back to more traditional ways or a combination of both. Morsaw, of Hartford, is among those in the tribe who still are strong in their Catholic faith. He is a deacon at the Immaculate Con-

ception parish in Hartford and traveled to the Vatican last fall for the canonization of Kateri Takawitha, a Native-American woman who lived in the 1600s in what is now New York state. “I served mass with Pope Benedict at the Vatican before 200,000 people,” he said. “It was something for a lowly deacon to be able to serve with the pope. I had to keep pinching myself, he was so close by.” M o r s aw s a i d h e thinks the Catholic faith has always resonated with tribal members for several reasons, including how the first priests treated the Native Americans. “When the black robes (Catholics) came, they said how we should live and also showed

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Shandiin Church lives within the convergence of three worlds. Leader photo


Horizons 2013

Faith

93

us how they lived,” he said. “They also treated us like equals.”

Many, such as tribal member Art Morsaw, practice the Catholic faith. Morsaw is a deacon at the Immaculate Conception parish in Hartford.

Parallels discovered

Pokagon band members could also find other parallels between their own native beliefs and Catholicism. “They smudge with incense; we smudge w i t h s a g e . Pe o p l e could see the parallels,” he said. “When we think about the Bible and imagery about cedar and tents, those a re t h i n g s N a t ive Americans knew.” H e t h i n ks m a ny tribal members still have a foot in both worlds. They may say they are Catholic but they are also still true to their native traditions. He can well understand it himself,

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Horizons 2013

Faith

SPIRITUAL Continued from page 93 tion said why can’t we have both. He learned the traditional ways and, when he raised me and my siblings, we learned to do both. “I know my role as a native woman and also as a young lady in the church, and I’ve been able to keep them in balance,” she said. “As a student, I walk in three worlds: mainstream Western society, my Christian faith and my Native American side.” Church said that while it’s second nature for her and her family members to observe both traditions, it’s still something new and different for a lot of people.

“We’ve gone to a family camp for eight years and other people ask us how we do this,” she said. “Growing up I was taught to have respect for all other faiths and religions,” she said. “My father also started a ministry that incorporated incense, songs and Native-American drums.” South Bend resident Clarence White, one of the Pokagon elders, is often called on to give traditional blessings at ceremonial gatherings. He considers himself both native and Christian, and he thinks there are a lot of tribal members who have similar beliefs to him. “For native people, our ceremonies, dances and songs have religious meanings as we connect to Mother

Earth and give blessings to the different directions,” he said. “We show honor and respect to nature.” Like Morsaw and C h u rc h , h e t h i n k s more and more people are honoring the traditional ways even if they also belong to a Christian denomination. “ We h ave a fa i r amount of people who stick with the traditional ways,” he said. “We all believe in the same Creator.” In many ways, he thinks the change is due to the passage of time. Members of his generation were the last to be sent to boarding schools, where students were discouraged from observing their native traditions and beliefs. A gradual shift has oc-

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curred since then with people going back to their roots.

“It’s all in how we grow up,” he said. “A lot of our people grew

up in the Catholic way but now may step out and go back to the native traditions. There are a lot of people who do both. Everyone has their own particular way to honor the Great Spirit, and we don’t have to give up our beliefs anymore.”

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Faith By JANELLE COLLINS

Horizons 2013 Special to Leader Publications

Father David Otto knew what he wanted to do with his life from an early age.

A few aches, lots of dedication Father David Otto cannot imagine life any other way Father David Otto has lived a life wholly committed in service to his church and God, but anyone who knows him understands it hasn’t been a life of ease. However, no physical or emotional burdens have deterred this man of God from living his life in service to his community. Born in Minnesota but relocating with his family to Niles at the age of 2, Father Otto is the oldest of eight children: three girls and five boys. From the beginning, he’s been surrounded by strong, spiritual influences. “My parents were b o t h ve r y fa i t h f u l Catholics, and their faith was such a big part of their lives, and

I have an uncle that was a priest and a cousin that’s a priest,” he said. He attended St. Mary of The Immaculate Conception Church in Niles — where he has been pastoring for the past six years — and St. Mary’s School, and remembers from a young age knowing exactly what he wanted

to do with his life. “I can remember from fou rt h g ra de wanting to be a priest,” he recalled. Years of seminary training led him to achieving his dream, but none of his 35 years of ministry have been easy. “I’ve had my arthritis for 40 years, so I’ve been dealing with that all through the end of the seminary years and through my priesthood,” he said. Despite the physical pain, Father Otto continues to count his blessings. “It’s the attitude of gratitude [and] realizing the good things that God has given me. [When you] get down

to the bad things like the few aches and pains and you can say, ‘well, what are those compared to all the blessings that God has given me.’” Father Otto says he finds that helping others through their tragedies has been another way to find strength and connect with members of his congregation. “I really think it’s taking care of people when they’re in their dying process and helping families through funerals ... Cause I could hold it together when I’m supposed to be talking and preaching and praying, but then you get that moment, that

intimate moment when you’re sharing the communion with them and they’re crying their hearts out.” Father Otto’s patience and faith were again tested when, about five years ago, a car struck him while h e wa s r i d i n g h i s bike. The accident fractured vertebrae in his spine and prevented him from ever bicycling again, which was one of his favorite hobbies. “I was in the hospital for two weeks, [and then] I was at my parents’ house for two weeks … it was probably another month before they let me do a mass again,” he said. His parents, who

died in 2010, were part of his reason for returning to Niles after a time away pastoring at several churches. “My parents were growing older …. so just to be here through that obviously gives you a lot more compassion for people who are going through the same thing, caring for elderly parents,” he said. These challenges have never caused Father Otto to doubt his faith in God or his commitment to ministry. What would he do if he weren’t a pastor? David Otto can’t imagine himself anywhere else. “This is it.”


Horizons 2013

Faith By DEBRA HAIGHT

Special to Leader Publications

It’s a ‘God thing’ Church and pastor have come a long way

Mike Smith says he could not deny the call to God.

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Between being a carpenter like Jesus and growing up as a preacher’s kid, some people might think it would be a foregone conclusion that Mike Smith would go into the ministry. In fact, Smith says it was the farthest thing from his mind until he felt the call of God to come back to Christ.

Smith is the head pastor at Hope Comm u n i t y C h u rc h o n Lake Street east of Niles, a church he helped establish in 1999 and continues to lead. The church has been in its current location since 2003 and is embarking on its second building expansion. As he readily admits, being a minister wasn’t something on his radar, especially when using drugs and alcohol when he was younger. “My dad was in the ministry, and I didn’t want anything to do with it,” he said. “I left the church completely for seven years, but it kept pursuing me. “I was raised Baptist,” he said. “My father is a retired Bapt i s t p re a c h e r, a n d that’s how I ended up in Niles because he was the pastor at Huntly Baptist Church. I graduated from Niles High School in 1982 and came back here after spending time in the Navy.” “All the time I was in the Navy, I told my wife that I was not going to go to church although I knew I was being called,” he said. “Like Jonah, I went the opposite direction ... I finally realized I had to go, God was removing all my options. God was drawing me in, and I didn’t

want to go.” When he returned to the area, he joined the Carpenters Union but a back injury from his time in the Navy kept him from working very long.

Good advice

That’s when a neighbor gave him advice that eventually led him to where he is today. “A neighbor woman said I would make a good youth pastor, and I took a job at the First Church of God on U.S. 12,” he said. In all, he spent seven years working as a youth pastor both there and at the Missionary Church, also on U.S. 12. “Then a group of nine people started what became Hope Community,” he said. “I wasn’t even looking, but they asked me to come and do a Bible study for them.” That was 1999, and the group members were meeting in the basement of a home. Then they met a few weeks at the Howard Township Community Hall before they ended up at Ring Lardner Middle School. They met for three and a half years at Ring Lardner until they bought land on Lake Street and broke ground on their first See SMITH, page 99


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Faith

Horizons 2013

Faith www.reallifechurchniles.com

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Faith

SMITH

Continued from page 97 church building in November 2002. Church membership by that time had grown to 180 people, and they built a sanctuary to hold 400 people. As Smith noted, attendance has risen since then to the point where they reach 700 people in three services each weekend. The addition will give the church a new 1,000seat sanctuary and more space for the children’s ministry. He acknowledges the church has come a long way, just as he has. “It’s amazing to look back on where I came from in the church; it’s b e e n a wo n d e r f u l

ride,” he said. “We went from nine to 12 to 22 and then 42 people in a few weeks,” he said, looking back at the days meeting in people’s homes. “We decided we had something going beyond a Bible study. It was a God thing.” He especially considers it a “God thing” that the church has accepted him despite his past as well as ongoing hobbies, such as riding a motorcycle. “This church hired me even though they knew my past,” he said. “A woman came to church one Sunday and said there had to be a God if I was a minister.” He said he sometimes feels a little bit like the Prodigal Son and said that story is

one of his favorite in the Bible. “The scripture says that, as he was slopping pigs, he came to his senses and realized that he had it much better off before he had left home,” he said. “I tried everything the world had to offer, and I realized I had had it better off.”

Greater understanding

It’s not only been his past but also his recent health setbacks that have helped him to relate to others in the congregation and in the community. He has had back surgery, a stroke and pneumonia that went septic since 2008. “You never know why you go through what you go through, but it helps me con-

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nect with people,” he said. He said it’s been one blessing after another at Hope. “It’s been growing since day one,” he said. “We keep waiting for a downturn, but it’s one blessing after another; it keeps growing. I even have other pastors in the state ask me what our secret is, and I say it’s God.” Smith said he enjoys being a minister. Although Hope Community is nondenominational, he’s licensed through the Church of God-Anderson, Indiana denomination. “I just love preaching, and I enjoy being part of anything that helps the church grow and prosper,” he said. “We’re not really doing anything different,” he added. “I always use

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We keep waiting for a downturn, but it’s one blessing after another. — Mike Smith

the Bible to preach, and we have a wonderful worship team of very gifted musicians.” He said his interest is not in presenting theatrics or entertainment in the church service. “There’s a fine line between worship and theatrics,” he said. “Someone said that a lot of churches have become showboats instead of lifeboats. You have to have something to keep people coming and connect

people to God and to each other.” He said he thinks the key to Hope Community’s success is simple: People feel like they’re part of a family no matter their background. “We want people to be here because they want to be here,” he said. “People have to find where they feel comfortable to worship. Our mission is to give people simple truth for their complicated lives.”

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Faith By DEBRA HAIGHT

Horizons 2013

Special to Leader Publications

Ranks floweth over Salvation Army takes lead in feeding kids

Most of us know about the Salvation Army from seeing the red kettles and bell ringers at Christmastime or hearing about its members helping in disasters, but there’s much more to the organization’s activities.

In Niles, Majors Bill and Tracey Walters have been in charge of the local Salvation Army for the past eight years. The history of the church in Niles goes

back to the 1880s, when people held tent meetings and then had a building near the riverfront. The corps has been in its current building on North 15th Street for at least 50 to

60 years. Currently, the Niles church and social serv i c e s o rga n i z a t i o n serves the Niles and Buchanan area as well as all of Cass County. Major Bill Walters acknowledged the current building is for sale but would not confirm where the Army might be moving. “We’re looking and working toward a new building,” he said. “We have identified the location, but we still haven’t closed on it.” As for what the Salva t i o n A r my d o e s throughout the year, Walters said the Army does provide meals,

food baskets and gifts to people at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They also work with people during the rest of the year as well. He noted that mottos associated with the corps in the past, such as “soup, soap and salvation” and “heart to God and hand to man” are no longer used much but do give people a glimpse into the church’s mission. Locally, the Salvation Army’s efforts to reach into the community have included stocking a food pantry and starting the “Feeding My Sheep” program, which provides weekend meals for elementary students in

the Brandywine, Buchanan and Niles school districts. “One of our biggest and brightest programs is ‘Feeding My Sheep,’” he said. “We sent food home with kids for the weekends. It helps give food to families that need it, but it mainly helps with education. Statistics show the importance of good nutrition to education.” Walters said the program, funded by an a n o ny m o u s d o n o r, serves 220 kids each week in the three school districts and has attracted the attention of others in the Salvation Army. “We were the first to create a program like this within the Salva-

tion Army, and it’s been taken on by others around the Midwest,” he said. He said he and o t h e r s f ro m t h e Niles Salvation Army have been asked to present information about the local program in June at a

Major Bill Walters works at the Niles Wal-Mart before Christmas, for the Salvation Army’s food pantry.


Horizons 2013 Midwest conference of Salvation Army officers. “We have been able to measure the outcomes in terms of educational achievement,” he said. Elementary students get a rolling backpack filled with fo o d fo r w e e ke n d meals each Friday and must return it the following Monday to continue to be in the program. “We teach responsibility; they have to bring it back every Monday,” he said. “The kids are proud to be part of the program and get a backpack and other kids want to join.” Another ongoing program is the “Lunch Bunch,” which provides lunch and fellowship for people three days a week. He said

Faith the number of people who come for a meal has grown from about 20 to between 50 and 60 people. The Salvation Army also provides utility and rent program assistance to keep people from being evicted from their homes. The corps helps in other ways as well, with members traveling to other parts of the region and the country to provide disaster relief and helping emergency services workers in situations as varied as train derailments, fires and even crime scenes. Walters went to New York City to help after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. While people might not always remember it, he noted the Salvation Army is first and foremost a church.

They host church services every Sunday, hold Bible study every Wednesday and have music, youth and summer camp programs. Walters said the name “Salvation Army” goes back to the church’s founding in England in the 1800s. “A newspaper reporter reported once that the group of believers was like an army and our founder said it was the Salvation Army,” he said. “Our officer ranks also mirror the ranks found in the English military.” Salvation Army officers rise through the ranks from lieutenant to captain to major to colonel to commissioner to general. He and his wife are majors because they’ve been with the corps for 15 or more years.

He joined the church after growing up saying he never would. “I grew up attending with my older sisters bringing me to services,” he said. “I said then that I would nev-

101 er be an officer and then God was calling me. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but when God says to do something, you do it.” “It’s a lot of hard work, but God blesses

us,” he said. He and his wife have two children. Their daughter is an intern training to be a Salvation Army officer and their son is a student at Ballard Elementary.

Major Tracey Walters works with Salvation Army social services director Jan Nowak at the corps’ Christmas toy shop.

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