__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1

HORIZONS

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE A LEADER PUBLICATIONS PRODUCT

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

1


2

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


PACE of Southwest Michigan helps seniors live safely at home! PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a unique alternative to nursing home care. PACE provides medical care and coordination, physical and occupational therapy, socialization, and transportation services to enrolled seniors, enabling them to live safely at home with a better quality of life. Call (269) 408-4322 option 3 to speak with an Intake Coordinator today.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

2900 Lakeview Ave, St. Joseph MI 49085 l www.paceswmi.org

HORIZONS 2020

|

3


join us 4

|

UNITED WE FIGHT UNITED WE WIN

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

uwsm.org


g

ROUGH DRAFT OF HISTORY

F

the future

ormer Washington Post publisher Philip Graham famously said, “journalism is the first rough draft of history.” This postulation has guided my career, a reminder that we are the flies on the wall documenting pivotal events in our communities’ history. The phrase has remained present in my mind as I have flipped through old newspapers to find background for articles, looking back at what came before us and hoping that decades from now, our work will serve the same purpose for our descendants. As we set to work on this year’s Horizons edition, we reflected on all the positive change happening throughout Niles, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac and Edwardsburg and wondered, “what comes next?” The year 2020 seemed the perfect year to shake things up, changing our focus from looking back, to looking for the future. Absent a crystal ball, our staff questioned, “how do we know what happens next? It hasn’t happened yet.” Philip Graham’s words echoed in my head — “journalism is the rough draft of history” — only now, we would shift our focus from chronicling history, to considering the rough draft of the next chapter. Like any other story, we relied on expert sources. We thought of people, businesses, organizations and trends experiencing transformations. What does the future hold for those individuals? What does the future of these entities mean for our communities? For many years, Niles residents have been apt to say the city has been “on the brink of a comeback.” A year ago, managing editor Sarah Culton’s column alleging “we are no longer on the brink of a comeback. We are right smack in the middle of one,” was quoted on social media and at ribbon cuttings, perfectly summing up the city’s progress. At the turn of 2020, Niles Mayor Nick Shelton said we are no longer in the middle of a comeback — we are past the middle and at the tipping point. The question is, what now? Our editorial staff spent four months asking just that of people throughout southwest Michigan. Our advertising staff met with owners of countless new and established business to find out what is next for their business and develop a way to share that message. The result is 25 new stories that share the dreams of more than 100 people, and the hard work they are putting in now to make them happen tomorrow. More than 120 businesses are represented through advertising of all shapes and sizes, creating a tool for readers as they seek businesses and services of all kinds in the coming year. While the magazine you hold in your hands is certainly not our first draft, it epitomizes Philip Graham’s words, chronicling how far we have come to predict our region’s future, truly serving as a rough draft to southwest Michigan’s history.

GENERAL MANAGER

Contents 27

38

51

65

76

88

7 It takes a village City leaders, business owners look to build on downtown resurgence

55 A heartbeat of belief Relevant Church keeps focus on Jesus in a time of changing worship

14 Generational change Buchanan Promise has time to fulfill goals, but impact is already seen

57 Girl power Buchanan teen hopes to be among first female Eagle Scouts

18 On this porch Dowagiac Neighborhood Enhancement grant gives homes new life

60 Budding industry Marijuana business brace for changes, a bright future

22 Imagining a new vision Cassopolis, Edwardsburg work with MSU to piece together the future

65 Funding the future Cass Kickstart to Careers helps students start saving

27 Shining Stars Next generation of leaders look to future after high school

69 New beginning Cass County treatment courts committed to treating the "whole person"

33 When I grow up... Merritt Elementary kindergarten students illustrate dream jobs 34 Talking the talk Pokagon Band finds healing through language revitalization efforts 38 The next chapter Southwest Michigan libraries adapt to changing needs of patrons 45 Knowledge for all New SMC president looks to future of community college 48 Taking the wheel County efforts to streamline transportation lurch forward 51 Centennial state of mind Local service organization makes plans for next 100 years

73 A healthy community New Cass Family Clinic facility promises a brighter future for healthcare in Niles 76 Girl online Niles resident uses social media to connect, create community 81 Meals on wheels Edwardsburg food wagon among growing trend of mobile businesses 84 Do it yourself Dowagiac native finds her own path in new age of self-publishing 88 Strength in numbers Michiana manufacturing businesses cite growing workforce as key to growth

ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com • www.leaderpub.com • 217 N. 4th St., Niles, MI 49120 2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

5


THE FUTURE IS NOW

S

outhwest Michigan is a region steeped in history. On any given day, one could easily run into a dozen people who will casually drop stories of businesses and eras gone by into conversation — from Cass County’s involvement in the abolitionist movement to Niles’ Simplicity Pattern to Dowagiac’s Round Oak Stove Company to Buchanan’s Clark Equipment and more. It is easy to see why — our area’s history is deep and rich and something to be proud of. It tells the story of how we became the people we are today. While history is something worth sharing, this Horizons edition, we instead wanted to look past where we’ve been and look to where we are going — how we are going to become the people and communities of the future. When I first moved to Niles and became Leader Publications’ Cass County reporter in 2017, people tried to warn me that this area was one lost to progress. Some said that while the area’s leadership held tightly to its history, little preparation was being done for its future. Now that I have spent the last few years reporting on city and village council meetings and sharing the stories of residents daily, I have found that this could not be

further from the truth. You only need to look at the stories inside this Horizons edition to see evidence that the communities of Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg and Niles — and their residents — are committed to the future, which means doing whatever it takes to make southwest Michigan a great place to live, work and play. Inside these pages, you will find stories of local libraries working to shake off their dusty reputations to connect residents with the resources they need. You will read about the villages of Cassopolis and Edwardsburg working with Michigan State University to revitalize their downtowns. You will hear testimonies from business leaders who see a viable future within Niles’ city limits. Despite years of naysayers, there have always been people in our communities who have been dedicated to bringing a brighter tomorrow to southwest Michigan. Now, the fruits of their labor are showing. With the stories shared in this edition, Leader Publications is making a statement: The future is not coming for southwest Michigan. The future is now.

HORIZONS Horizons publishes annually in February, serving as the community yearbook for Niles, Dowagiac, Cassopolis, Edwardsburg and Buchanan.

GENERAL MANAGER Ambrosia Neldon

MANAGING EDITOR Sarah Culton

EDITORIAL

Jen Bounds Beau Brockett Jr. Hannah Holliday Scott Novak Emily Sobecki

ADVERTISING Phil Langer Lisa Oxender

Horizons is published by Leader Publications, LLC. To find out about future advertising opportunities or to share story ideas, or to subscribe, call (269) 683-2100, or email publisher@leaderpub.com

MANAGING EDITOR Michiana Life

sarah.culton@leaderpub.com • www.leaderpub.com • 217 N. 4th St., Niles, MI 49120

MANAGING EDITOR


S E K A IT T

A VILLAGE Southwest Michigan towns work together to develop next chapters for their communities

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

7


8

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


I

DOWNTOWN REVOLUTION

City leaders, business owners look to build on resurgence of Main Street STORY AMBROSIA NELDON PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI HISTORIC PHOTOS PROVIDED BY NILES HISTORY CENTER

n a brick building at 3 N. Third St. in Niles, cocktails and gourmet burgers are served where customers once waited to have their brakes aligned. The sound of clanking wrenches has been replaced by clinking glasses, the churn of engines by the hum of conversation. When Iron Shoe Distillery owners Howard and Laura Tuthill announced in 2018 they would be transforming a former muffler shop into a distillery, many were skeptical, unable to see the vision the Tuthills had for not only the space, but the city of Niles. Less than two blocks away, another young couple, Melanie and Donny Kennedy had not long before welcomed the community to experience their own transformation. The pair had converted a dilapidated, historic Elks Lodge into an elegant event center called the Fifty5 at the Grand LV. Today, the smell of fresh-baked Italian pastries, homemade soup and cappuccinos emanates from a corner of the building’s main floor. The world-class Italian bakery is one of the latest in a long line of entrepreneurs to buy into the vision for the next chapter of downtown Niles. Around the corner and down the hill, fitness classes fill a three-story building inhabited for half a century by a travel agency, which recently downsized and relocated. Niles native Stephanie Reno saw potential in the large building, converting the office space to an award-winning Pilates studio that keeps hundreds of people active with a variety of fitness classes. Downtown Niles is also home to three pizza shops, a tea shop, a coffee shop, a cocktail lounge and ramen bar, four family restaurants, a smoothie shop and a frozen yogurt bar. People have their pick between two 24-hour gyms and a YMCA, several hair salons and spas, and a handful of antique and retail shops. Multiple office buildings bring foot traffic to downtown during the day, and Wonderland Cinema, which sold more than 750,000 movie tickets in 2019, draws traffic at night. Butcher paper covers the windows of the few buildings that remain uninhabited. Big, bold letters announce that the structures will not be empty for long. When Bridgman native Justin Flagel joined Niles Main Street, the city’s downtown development authority several years ago, the city was still working to fill storefronts. “There wasn’t a lot happening at that point, but you could sort of sense the embers underneath the surface,” he said. “You look at things now, and you can see how they’ve caught fire.” The flames spread quickly, each new business igniting a spark in other entrepreneurs. Hardly a month goes by without the announcement of a new business in downtown Niles. Although this change happened quickly, leaders invested in the transformation know downtown Niles did not grow overnight. Niles Main Street director Lisa Croteau remembers a time not so long ago when more businesses were closed than open and, save for the occasional festival, Main Street had very little foot traffic. Today, the challenge is finding a parking spot. “When I started [20 years ago], Niles was in a low place. It had had its hay day. The corporate rightsizing had taken the corporate America that used to support this downtown away,” she said. “It rebuilt itself with wonderful, independent business owners, and we’ve been blessed to be a part of it.”

BUILDING A CITY In the nooks and crannies of many buildings that make up downtown Niles, an astute eye can find traces of history through architecture. Aluminum ceilings decorated with fleur-de-lis, exposed brick walls and ornate crown molding have withstood the test of time, serving as the backdrop for countless entrepreneurs — some as far back as the mid1800s. Like most cities, Niles was built because of its proximity to the river, which served as the main channel for transporting goods and people before the railroad was built.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

9


Niles Main Street has seen a surge of growth over the last two years, bouncing back from a recent recession and decades of hard feelings over a town that once was. “Downtowns used to be where you’d go and get everything,” said Christina Arseneau, director of the Niles History Center. “When you needed a dress for a formal occasion, you’d go downtown. You need a suit, kids need new shoes, you go downtown and buy them, and then you have lunch at the lunch counter.” In 1848, the Michigan Central Railroad was built throughout Niles, drawing more residents to town to work on the railroad, and enabling more to travel to the city. For more than a century, downtown Niles evolved to adapt to societal changes, such as the invention of the automobile. Downtown streets were filled with department stores like JC Penney, Sears and Roebuck, Woolworth’s and Montgomery Ward, whose namesake was born and raised in Niles. “Then they started building malls,” Arseneau said. “There was a movement away from downtown, and that caused trouble for downtown businesses.” A SHIFT AWAY FROM DOWNTOWN In the late 1950s, Eastgate Shopping Center was built outside downtown on E. Main Street, following a national trend in erecting strip malls. A large parking lot offered plenty of places to park and walk to a centralized area of businesses in the brand-new shopping center. Around the same time, the city of Niles began to tear down abandoned buildings once used for industry that had either closed or relocated as technology evolved and became less dependent on the river. “[Urban renewal] was a national trend where communities were looking to renew spaces that were no longer being used by industry,” Arseneau said. Though a sore point in Niles’ history for many longtime Niles residents, the impact of the city’s urban renewal efforts can still be found today in places like Riverfront Park, which was built as mills and other buildings were demolished.

10

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

Today, the park hosts runners and cyclists on its trail, families on its playground and community members of all ages for festivals and concerts. In 1979, University Park Mall was built in present-day Mishawaka, causing even more department stores to close up downtown storefronts and shift to malls. “That’s kind of the story of Main Street America, really,” said Mollie Kruck-Watson, who also works with the Niles History Center. Niles Community Development Director Sanya Vitale agrees that urban renewal has had a continued impact on older residents in the city but attributes the negative feelings that have surrounded downtown Niles the last several decades more to the loss of industry. “We kind of lost our feel for community [when factories left Niles],” Vitale said. “We were so close knit. We worked together. We recreated together. We went to church together, and then we had picnics together.” When department stores and industry left downtown Niles, so too did much of the foot traffic and community pride, Vitale said. “We lost our sense of community, but it’s back!” Vitale said. “We all hang out together again and act like we like each other again.” CHANGING THE OUTLOOK In 2012, Sarah Brittin relocated her father’s 25-year-old business from its S. 11th Street location on the outskirts of downtown, to right smack dab in the middle of Main Street. “Downtown has grown so much that it’s hard to find parking spots right now, but that’s OK, because when you have to park and walk to a restaurant or business, you walk past other businesses and peek in there to see what’s going on,” Brittin said. “There’s so much good happening in Niles that there’s nothing to back up the naysayers anymore.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Brittin said she is among the first to speak up against negativity found in social media groups, unhappy with the changes that downtown has experienced. Arseneau and Kruck-Watson hear softer versions of the feedback about the town’s transformation — “less complaining, and more missing what used to be,” KruckWatson said. “The past is safe for people,” Arseneau said. “For a lot of people, it’s a safe place to really believe that things were better, and change is scary because it’s uncertain.” Bryan Williams, owner of the Brass Eye on Second Street, is the longest serving member and current president of Niles Main Street. Before owning The Brass Eye, Williams owned Trailhead Mercantile, which he sold to the current owners of Rusty Hook Bait & Tackle on Main Street. “I remember just barely the end of the hay day of Niles. I remember going to Montgomery Ward’s with my mom as a little kid,” he said. “I also remember in high school, my entire class was like, ‘we’ve got to get the hell out of here. There’s nothing to do. There’s nothing for us.’” Williams moved to Asheville, North Carolina in the late 2000s, and saw how the city was able to thrive in spite of the recession because of its focus on shopping local. “I thought, ‘Why can’t [Niles] be an Asheville?’ … The number one reason, in my opinion, was a lot of residents just have a really negative outlook,” he said. “I guess I understand the birth of it when we lost all the manufacturing, but I don’t understand why, instead of dwelling on what we don’t have, why not put our best foot forward and try to bring the city up?” Slowly but surely, Brittin and Williams feel the perception has changed. “It’s not cool to call Niles uncool anymore,” Brittin said. Williams said the battle starts small. “It just takes everybody involved to start talking positively


about it,” he said. “If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. If you see a weed in the garden, weed it.” Croteau feels the key to downtown’s success has been remembering its roots. “Change is always hard, but it’s also good, and it has to happen,” she said. “This community recognized that and has done a really good job of morphing into something new. I’m sure the people that were here in 1780 did not like what happened in 1840. … It’s not going to be what it was, but it’s going to be wonderful.” GET DOWN TO BUSINESS At the turn of the new decade, contractors are working through winter weather to transform a historic post office into apartments and commercial space. The apartments will offer workforce housing and underground parking for tenants, which city leaders said will ideally increase foot traffic to downtown. “Starting really in 2015, we started working on our place plans,” Vitale said of the city’s efforts to refocus community’s development. “We did a target market analysis to find out what the gap was in our housing.” The result was to begin developing the Third Street corridor, now home to the new Berkshire Niles Apartments, which offers income-based housing for senior citizens. The development happened as businesses like Iron Shoe Distillery, The Grand LV, Gabrizio Italian Cafe and Bakery and Casperson’s Books and Art opened on Third Street. “The long-term plan is to do some development down Third Street as far as Bond to continue to spur the growth and redevelopment of downtown,” Vitale said. “It’s a magic time right now in Niles. It’s just really remarkable the type of economic upturn.” Howard Tuthill, co-owner of Iron Shoe Distillery, said the city’s willingness to work with business owners is why so many

businesses are choosing Niles over nearby communities. “I think the city is very business positive,” he said. “They’re literally an open door for anyone and anything that wants to come into downtown Niles and will do anything they can to help the potential businesses out and be a resource for them.” Niles mayor Nick Shelton agrees. “We are here because of people who believe in Niles. Citizens and business owners are willing to take a chance on Niles,” he said. “I think our city council is working hard to make it easier to start a business in our city. We need to continue to limit red tape and make it easier to start up.” Business owners across downtown agreed that more businesses lead to more business for everyone. “I think their success is our success, and our success is their success,” Tuthill said. His wife, Laura, echoed the sentiment. “I think outside communities are really watching what’s happening in Niles, and they’re seeing all these new businesses come here, and they’re flourishing, and they’re doing well,” she said. ”It’s attracting people from all over Mishawaka and South Bend and some of the lake towns to drive all the way out to Niles, and I think when business owners or potential business owners see that, then they kind of want to jump on that train and get into an area that’s really growing and be part of that.” WHAT’S NEXT As of February 2020, Niles residents were anxiously awaiting the opening of Niles Brewing Co., a microbrewery set to open on Main Street. Michael Reed, owner of longtime business Custom Computer Company, has announced plans to revamp the Bell Building, an event hall on Sycamore Street. Williams shared on social media that he would be selling The Brass Eye and moving onto

his next business venture; though specific details were not revealed, he promised it would be in downtown Niles. Frank Ciao’s Waffles will also open shop in spring 2020, serving waffles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On Front Street, The Rage intends to begin serving alcohol, and a new Edward Jones office is opening. A business with ties to the music industry is rumored to be opening in the former Atomic Bean/Top Heavy Coffee next to Pizza Transit. Croteau said one of her favorite parts of her job is that downtowns will never stop changing. “That’s the cool part about any downtown, is because it’s that kind of living, breathing entity,” she said. As city leadership looks to the next phase for downtown Niles, Vitale said some projects under consideration include a splash pad, drawing more art to downtown, and finding a way to tap into the marijuana business. “While the downtown is precluded from the marijuana business from a dispensary standpoint [due to proximity to the downtown daycare and district library], there’s a real opportunity for the Airbnbs or a hotel to be cannabis friendly,” Vitale said. “Certainly, I’ve met with a number of developers to try to encourage them to look into it.” Croteau said the DDA will continue to follow the board’s strategy to attract food-based businesses, building on the entertainment district that is forming on and off Main Street. As growing business continues to spark new growth, Croteau knows one thing for certain: the city will continue to build on a solid foundation of more than 200 years of entrepreneurial spirit. “I’ve always hoped that if you could time travel from the 1800s, that they would hop off the time machine and onto Main Street, and they would be happy with what they saw,” Croteau said. “For all the change we have seen, Niles has remained Niles.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

11


DOWNTOWN

Niles

MICHIGAN

| HORIZONS This does not include downtown Niles. 12 map 2020 |every 2020business VISIONinFOR THE FUTURE Participating businesses are featured based on paid advertising.


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

13


Outside Buchanan High School are the Adkersons: mother, Becky; son, Chad; daughter, Megan; and father, JT. Chad and Megan have benefited from the Buchanan Promise, a scholarship for students in the Buchanan school district.

14

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


W

GENERATIONAL

CHANGE Buchanan Promise has time to fulfill goals, but impact is already seen STORY BEAU BROCKETT JR. | PHOTOGRAPHY JEN BOUNDS

hen Becky and JT Adkerson prepared to build a new home for their family three years ago, they had no intentions of moving out of the Buchanan area. Becky, a lifelong resident, had worked at Buchanan Community Schools for nearly two decades. JT had worked for the city of Buchanan for about 25 years. They also had two $10,000 scholarships available for their children if they stayed. That award was the Buchanan Promise, a post-secondary education scholarship program started in 2016. It is offered to any Buchanan Community Schools student that resides in the district — from Buchanan to Galien — and has qualified for an approved postsecondary program. The Promise will provide upwards of $2,500 a year for a maximum of $10,000 to a student’s educational institution, dependent on how long they have lived in the district. There are no GPA requirements, no minimum SAT scores, no clean slates in school discipline. Enroll in an approved college, beauty school, trade school or something in between, and money will be sent to the institution. Students have six years to spend the four years’ worth of money. The Adkerson’s son, Chad, has used part of his $10,000 for an associate’s degree at Lake Michigan College and a Class A commercial driver’s license. Now, he will work for American Electric Power and is expected to make close to $100,000 each year in the coming years. His daughter, Megan, will soon make use of the Promise as she pursues a college degree. She hopes the scholarship will cut into the costs of a master’s program. The Buchanan Promise is centered on the funds of Buchanan resident Walt “Wally” Schirmer, Jr., who gave the money to the Michigan Community Gateway Foundation, of Buchanan, 111 Days Ave. “It’s not just a scholarship,” said Rob Habicht, outgoing president and CEO of the foundation. “It is a culture. It’s a thought. It’s an expectation that students are going to go on after high school. And if we can create that culture, universally, in this community, I think that’s a strong thing. Everybody expects to succeed and achieve after high school.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

15


Becky said from the time Chad and Megan were young, she and JT instilled a sense of work ethic in them that would translate into a post-secondary education route paved by good grades and academic scholarships. Chad and Megan both received near 4.0 GPAs in high school, spent time volunteering in the community and participated in a variety of school-related groups. They received numerous college acceptances and academic scholarships. Their skills in baseball and softball garnered them sports scholarships, too. The mix of scholarships allowed most of Chad’s tuition and all of Megan’s tuition, both at Lake Michigan College, to be covered. Still, the Buchanan Promise made a big impact on their lives, they said. It has allowed them to maximize their college experience, gain independence and, in the case of Chad, pursue a costly certification. It allowed Chad and Megan to live in LMC’s dorms, and it will allow Megan to cover some of the future costs of a continued degree. “It helps both my kids, as far as not having to pay for college,” JT said. “It helps Mom and Dad for not having to supplement some of those things, some of those financial burdens.” The Buchanan Promise lifted mental burdens, too. “There is not much pressure on my shoulders in looking for a four-year university, for me to worry about the cost of it,” Megan said. “Of course, I still do worry.” That is because four-year programs cost much more than $10,000 for most students. The Buchanan Promise, however, can take a serious chunk out of costs and debt accumulated through two-year college, trade school and specialty school programs. Paired with academic or athletic scholarships, debt can be near nonexistent. That is not to say students will not struggle financially or academically. “We always say [that] 90 percent of our days, we see 10 percent of the population,” Becky said on behalf of JT, who is currently Buchanan’s director of safety and services. The Adkersons were grateful that the Buchanan

16

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

Promise paid for educational opportunities outside of a four-year degree. Other Promise school districts, such as Kalamazoo and Detroit, do not. Becky said she hopes the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation will work to better promote the Buchanan Promise’s ability to pay for education outside of a bachelor’s degree. Not everybody is interested in or suited for college. “If they can learn a trade or a skill that’s going to earn them money beyond minimum wage, then in the long run, that’s going to trickle down into the community,” she said. “They’ll spend their money right here, buy a better life for themselves and their kids.” Better promotion is on Habicht’s radar. He said since the Buchanan Promise had its first graduating class in 2017, Chad among them, a number of realizations have come to be that he is now addressing — working the Buchanan Promise is a bit like “flying a plane as they’re still building it,” he said. Among Habicht’s work is addressing is encouraging all sorts of schooling, trade school in particular. “Those are underserved. Those are under-sought,” he said. “So, lots of positions are available right now with nobody to fill them because [people] are not trained. We like to see students who are looking at that as an option.” To do so, he launched Kickstart to Careers, which gives incoming kindergarteners a child savings account with an initial $25 deposit in a school district where over half of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Students and families can make deposits in it that will in turn be used for post-secondary and career plans. That makes a big difference to those who might otherwise flunk out of college or not pursue an education, he said. Giving money to graduates only works if ambition and ability are there. Kickstart to Careers encourages that ambition. “Kickstart to Careers builds that expectation on their very first day of school,” he said. “They are going to go to college, or they are going to go onto some kind of post-secondary activity.” To give students the ability to pursue education,

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Buchanan Community Schools is creating a new strategic plan, a series of commitments to its community and implementing a new teaching model. Uplifting all students, not just the brightest, is a focal point. It is Habicht’s goal for the Buchanan Promise and its partner programs to give students expectations, support and habit-building skills all through the schools. His goal? Have 100 percent of Buchanan students ready for post-secondary experiences. “It’s pretty powerful when you think about it,” he said. To supplement the goal, Habicht is considering tracking students who use the Buchanan Promise. Do they achieve their post-secondary education? How quickly do they use it? The Buchanan Promise’s full effect is meant to be generational. The Adkersons expected the Promise has lead to more families moving into the school district. Cathie Countess Waggoner, realtor for Berrien Property in Buchanan, said this could be the case. Many times, homebuyers do not cite all the reasons why they are moving, but last year, she sold a house because of the Buchanan Promise. Since the inception of the program, the number of houses sold has hardly fluctuated, but Waggoner said that could be because there are not many houses on the market. Becky, JT and Habicht said they can feel a change in the community. Families are staying in the school district. Graduates are pursuing careers. Young people are becoming less burdened by debt. It all goes back to Schirmer’s original donation, Becky said. “For [Schirmer] to value education enough to really build a legacy around education, I was really in awe of that,” Becky said. Habicht expressed similar sentiments. “The fact that he had ties to Clark Equipment Company through his family kind of brings it full circle,” Habicht said. “The impact that Clark Equipment had on this community was, of course, very steep, and it’s no longer here. It’s having an impact today.” So, too, is one big promise.


BUCHANAN

Hometown values, big town charm

ALL PRO SERVICES (269) 695-2402

MCCARTY WELL DRILLING Proudly Serving SW Michigan Since 1950

BERRIEN PROPERTY

Experience Agents with Outstanding Results (269) 695-9595

MICHIGAN GATEWAY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION (269) 695-3000

COUNTRY HERITAGE SERVING OUR MEMBERS SINCE 1932

edwardjones.com/justin-nurenbergw

ORCHARD HILLS

REDBUD INSURANCE

#1 Golf Course | Public Event Venue | Social + Pool Memberships

TIN SHOP THEATRE

UNION COFFEE HOUSE

tinshoptheatre.org

Coffee, Food & Happiness Since 2010

EDWARD JONES

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

(269) 695-3000

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

17


Rita Holloway, of Dowagiac, was presented with a grant administered through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the city of Dowagiac for neighborhood enhancement.

18

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


ON THIS

PORCH

Dowagiac’s Neighborhood Enhancement grant gives homes new life STORY HANNAH HOLLIDAY PHOTOGRAPHY JEN BOUNDS & EMILY SOBECKI

R

ita Holloway grew up in Chicago surrounded by dirt, glass and weeds. Despite that landscape, as a child, she loved flowers. Now at 74, she still has an eye for beautifying her surroundings by watching her flowers grow. Only this time, with a goal to beautify her home on Grove Street, she was granted assistance for several projects through the city of Dowagiac. The city of Dowagiac received a $50,000 grant from Michigan State Housing Development Authority on June 19. The grant money was used for home improvement projects to enhance curb appeal and neighborhood appeal. The city of Dowagiac earned the grant because of its conformity to income limits and chose to divide the grant into $5,000 increments to be used on 10 separate homes, including Holloway’s home, according to Assistant City Manager Natalie Dean. To qualify for the projects, residents had to own their own home, live within the city limits and be caught up on taxes. The NEP grant coincides with the city’s master plan and housing initiative both aimed at improving housing in the area. “We want to talk about how the quality of life in Dowagiac here is great, but it’s also tied into the places that we live,” Dean said. When the Neighborhood enhancement grant was first announced, Dean was told she would probably have to go out and find people seeking visual improvements. However, that was not the case. “People came knocking on the door,” she said. “There’s no reason why a person who has invested their lives here shouldn’t have a little hand up to get things the way they want.” Holloway has lived in her home on Grove Street since 1978. The home was first owned by Holloway’s sister-in-law, who eventually moved to California, leaving Holloway and her husband to take over ownership of the property. “After I moved here, I started to think about how I could make this house a little bit better by starting to do some gardening and trying to keep the grass up,” she said. “My husband took care of the grass. I just took care of the planting bushes and flowers. Most of my work was in the backyard.” In 2010, after 19 years of working as a teacher’s aide with Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, Holloway retired to take care of her husband who had grown sick. The following year, he died, leaving Holloway with the responsibility of keeping the house going.

Angelica Hatch, of Dowagiac, a mother of four, received a new porch with grant money awarded by the city.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

19


The years have been hard on certain areas of Holloway’s home. Her driveway had weeds growing through the cracks. In the winters, the potholes and a specific dent posed challenges after Holloway’s two knee surgeries. Her back patio had boards deteriorating, and her front porch had railings breaking off. It barely stood steady when Holloway would make her way down the steps. “I don’t care how nice I would have my landscaping, but the driveway didn’t bring it out,” Holloway said from the foot of her front porch. During the summer of 2019, a neighbor passing Holloway’s house approached her with a newspaper article discussing the Neighborhood Enhancement Grant. She recommended Holloway as the perfect person for the grant as she could always be seen working outside in her front yard. Holloway took the plunge and applied for the grant. After being notified as a selected resident, Holloway was ecstatic.

20

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

“It was just unbelievable when I got the call,” she said. “Of all of the years I’ve lived here, all I’ve ever wanted was to be surrounded by a nice area where I can say, ‘This is what it’s all about.’” The enhancements, including new porch railings, a paved driveway and five new wooden boards on her back patio might sound small on paper, but they brought impactful changes to Holloway’s home. Before the repairs, when it would rain, water would run down the cracked and pothole covered driveway into Holloway’s basement. City workers slanted her new driveway so when it does rain, water rolls into her backyard. Receiving the grant meant someone recognized Holloway’s efforts to make everything at her home on Grove Street presentable. The home holds much of Holloway’s family history and is the reason she has chosen to stay in Dowagiac and not move closer to her grown children. “What’s kept me here is the fact that the people that I lived around, I’ve known them almost as long as I’ve lived here,” Holloway said. “Even though

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

some of the parents have passed away, their children still live here. We kind of look out for each other.” Holloway’s home is rooted in family memories. She got married to her husband in 1983 and they lived together in her home for the entirety of their marriage. In 1982, Holloway also had two daughters die in a car accident, and the home keeps their memory alive. “The fact that I’ve lived here, my girls are buried here. I just like being here,” she said. From her home on Grove Street, Holloway can visit the cemetery, put flowers out, and feel a sense of familiarity in Dowagiac. The Chicago girl who once grew up around dirt, weeds and glass, spends her life now surrounded by hostas, a redbud tree gifted from a coworker and other plants in her backyard sanctuary. “I used to spend all day out here until my husband would call me in,” Holloway recalled as she stood on the new boards safely holding her back patio in tack. “My outside area is just my therapy.”


YOU BELONG IN

Dowagiac District Library 211 Commercial St., Dowagiac

Thank you for investing in our

vision for the future

You belong in a community with deep roots and progressive creativity. You deserve safe neighborhoods, affordable homes, strong schools, and higher education. You need a full service hospital and growing industrial and commercial opportunities.

We are doubling in size! Coming soon to your local library: • New community room • Meeting and study rooms • Expanded book collections

• New teen section • New children’s area • Local history section

You crave an environment that encourages an entrepreneurial spirit. You want a quality of life, access to family entertainment, community events, neighborhood parks, outdoor markets and concerts, rousing sports, public art, and captivating museums.

BE WHERE

www.cityofdowagiac.com 2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

21


IMAGINING A

NEW VISION Cassopolis, Edwardsburg work with MSU to piece together a picture of the future STORY SARAH CULTON | PHOTOGRAPHY JEN BOUNDS

STORY SARAH CULTON | PHOTOGRAPHY JEN BOUNDS 22 | HORIZONS 2020 | 2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


In 2019, Cassopolis received more than $4 million in grants toward Imagine Cass projects.

S

eparated by a little less than 10 miles of road along M-62, Cassopolis and Edwardsburg are two villages that have more in common than meets the eye. Not only do both have population sizes fewer than 2,000 residents, according to the most recently available census estimates, but both are also located on picturesque lakes and are considered popular summer-home destinations for city-dwellers and weekend warriors. In addition to their superficial similarities, they share a similar history. Once thriving towns, changes in the American landscape have led to years of stagnant economic growth. Now, leaders from both communities have both taken steps to course correct and make a new picture for their respective communities. In 2018, the village of Cassopolis teamed up with the Cass County Board of Commissioners to Imagine Cass by partnering with Michigan State University’s Sustainable Built Environment Initiative Team. The program, formed by the university in 2013, is designed to

help Michigan municipalities address physical planning, design and land use concerns. The SBEI program, which has worked with more than 100 municipalities in Michigan, including Allegan, Marquette and Cadillac, hosts community input sessions and incorporates that input and other data into plans, digital renderings and suggestions to help communities revitalize themselves. In 2019, the Edwardsburg followed suit, also working with MSU to create the Edwardsburg Vision Project. “We knew this was the right time for Cass County,” said Roseann Marchetti, a Cass County Commissioner who was instrumental in bringing the MSU program to the area. She represents Ontwa Township, Edwardsburg and Mason Township. “We knew this was the right time to create a better future for the community.” IMAGINING A NEW DOWNTOWN CASSOPOLIS Dirty. Quiet. Stagnant. Vacant. These words, written out on yellow sticky notes,

covered a wall inside of the Cass County Council on Aging during a February 2018 session with the MSU team. The words were used by current residents to describe the village of Cassopolis as they currently saw it. On a different wall, a separate set of sticky notes, featuring words like booming, clean and bustling, painted a different picture. Those words described the future residents would like to see for Cassopolis. “This is a visioning process. We want you to envision the future,” said Wayne Beyea, a senior specialist with MSU’s program. “This isn’t the time to be shy. If there is something you have always wanted, say it. We want to gather as many ideas as possible.” That meeting was the first of several hosted during the Imagine Cass project, which worked to reimagine the downtown corridor of Cassopolis. Each session with MSU saw between 100 and 200 attendees, who provided ideas such as adding green spaces, a beach and a coffee shop.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

23


Edwardsburg completed its Edwardsburg Vision Project in late 2019.

Now, two years after the Imagine Cass project concluded, Village Manager Emilie Sarratore said she has seen Imagine Cass create a ripple effect in the community. She said it had brought life to previously lifeless public spaces, broke down resistance to change and restored faith in community members, improved quality of life by officering outdoor spaces, generated interest in potential investors, rebranded Cassopolis as a place of creativity, growth and prosperity, and fostered a community sense of pride. “This past year, the village was truly united for the first time in decades throughout the Imagine Cass initiative under the core principles of community vision, costeffectiveness, collaboration and citizen-led change,” Sarratore said. “The implementation of these projects will have a significant impact in the village.” The village of Cassopolis wasted little time before working to make the downtown it imagined with MSU a reality. In 2019, the village collected $4,382,616 in grants for projects related to the MSU partnership. The first visible project completed was a new mural and the rehabilitation of the alleyway behind the Cassopolis Veterans of Foreign Wars building. More changes will be coming throughout 2020 with construction set to either begin or complete several projects, including a Parkshore Drive project, a North O’Keefe Street reconstruction project, a boardwalk connecting Lakeshore Drive to downtown, a new municipal complex on Disbrow Street, and a streetscape project that will calm traffic, add bike lanes, replace water mains and sewer lines, add outdoor seating, add lighting, and repave roads and sidewalks. Also set to begin construction this year is a new beach, pier and promenade on Disbrow behind The Twirl. This project is the one Sarratore is most excited for. “By late spring, early summer, we will have construction going on all over the community,” she said. “We have some really exciting, fun stuff we have been working on.

24

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

It is exciting to see some of it coming together.” CREATING A NEW VISION FOR EDWARDSBURG Throughout the Imagine Cass project, several Edwardsburg residents attended input sessions and followed its progress. The sessions lit a fire within those people, who knew they needed to find a way to bring MSU’s team to Edwardsburg. “We knew this was too good of a deal to pass up,” Marchetti said. “If Cassopolis can do it, we can,” added Roy Smothermon, director of the Edwardsburg Chamber of Commerce. “I fell in love with Edwardsburg years ago, and I want to see those good things happen here.” Once it was decided to bring MSU’s team to the village, Marchetti said things moved quickly and successfully, with the project — which garnered overwhelming community support — concluding in September 2019. Despite the challenge posed by Edwardsburg’s lack of a traditional downtown strip, MSU offered several recommendations such as adding a boardwalk, redesigning the vacant Lunker’s building, making Edwardsburg more walkable by adding sidewalks and greenspaces on major roads, and making the downtown more visually pleasing through landscaping and building design. Already, Edwardsburg and Ontwa Township officials are seeking grants and forming committees to bring their new vision to life. In January, the village received its first grant, a $25,000 matching grant from America in Bloom to add landscaping to a 1,700-foot stretch of railroad tracks on M-62 from US-12 to Elkhart Road. The village has also taken steps to apply for a Michigan Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School Grant, which, if awarded, would offer Edwardsburg up to $200,000 to create safe walking and biking paths for children to use to get to school. The village is also working on organizing community

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

events such as an art show as part of its first phase of implementing the changes outlined during the MSU project. “[The Edwardsburg Vision Project] was a jumping-off point for us,” Marchetti said. “We think we will be able to attract some restaurants and retail, some commercial business. … We think we will be able to make the village very attractive and make these changes.” MAKING THE FUTURE A REALITY With the futures of Cassopolis and Edwardsburg taking shape, both Marchetti and Sarratore said the visioning process with MSU was a vital step toward change. “We were already on the path to change, but this really gave us the shot in the arm that we needed and gave us some really great exposure,” Sarratore said. “I think anytime you can work with the younger generation, and this was a student-based project, they can give you some ideas that you maybe didn’t think about. They gave us little pieces of things that helped us form a full picture.” Though the excitement and energy generated by the visioning sessions are still running hot through Cass County, it could take years or even decades to see some of the proposed changes take shape. Despite this, community leaders said they do not plan to lose sight of the vision, saying that they plan to keep the priorities residents laid out during the process and to see the idea through to make Cassopolis and Edwardsburg thriving examples of what small, rural towns can achieve. “I’ve lived lots of places, and Edwardsburg has been where we felt the most at home and the most comfortable,” Marchetti said. “This is a wonderful place to live, and we want to see more people move here and see how wonderful it is and the potential here.” “No one will invest in us unless we invest in ourselves,” Sarratore added. “It is time for us to invest in ourselves.”


Visit

EDWARDSBURG COLDWELL BANKER Jerry & Dawn Bollock

EAGLE LAKE MARINE

CIRCLE CREDIT UNION

Christine Griggs Service Center Manager (574) 277-9342 ext. 5761

NORTH AMERICAN FOREST PRODUCTS

JAYSON'S AUTO/TRUCK SERVICE CENTER

TEACHER'S CREDIT UNION

EDWARDSBURG HISTORY MUSEUM Free admission

HONOR CREDIT UNION

ONTWA TOWNSHIP

CASS DISTRICT LIBRARY

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

25


Owens Lawn Care

Voted Best Landscaping Service in Michiana two years in a row! 574-265-3380 • WWW.OWENSLAWNCAREOLC.COM

26

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Michiana’s leader in lawn care & landscape design — residential & commercial


The future is bright with these

SHINING STARS STORY BEAU BROCKETT JR. | PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED

W

hile no quantitative studies can prove it, perhaps the question high school seniors are asked the most is, “What are your plans after graduation?� These students are not seers of the future, but six students from six school districts appear to have 20/20 vision for what is ahead in their lives. Each year, Leader Publications asks the high school principals from Brandywine, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg and Niles to nominate one high school senior whose character shines bright in the present and whose work ethic gives them a glowing future. As the following six students prepared to write their next chapter in life, they shared their own triumphant stories that brought them to where they are and who they are today.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

27


Kadin Mills, Buchanan

Connor Janowiak, Brandywine Connor Janowiak saw the career mecca that was computer science not from a lab or the Silicon Valley, but the St. Joseph River Valley — specifically, his family farm. Using GPS technology, the layout of crops could be better visualized, and their yield could be better maximized in turn. “When I first started using it, I came to the realization that this sort of technology is what gives the ability of a few million farmers to efficiently harvest crops for hundreds of millions around the country,” he said. The Brandywine High School senior plans to take his passion and use it to change the world, just as the geographic information systems and other technology have changed agriculture. He considered finding ways to cut down the needs of farmers to soothe a rapidly aging job field through computer science, but in the end, he wants to use technology to solve any sort of national problem. To do so, Janowiak is taking courses from Lake Michigan College and Andrews University, including courses in computer science. The college courses, meant to give him a jump start on his college career, turned out to be easier than he expected, but he said he sometimes feels distanced from his friends and the school district he grew up in. He spends most of each school day off Brandywine’s campus. Service organizations, and his role as a defensive lineman in Bobcat football, have provided Janowiak the link. He is the treasurer of National Honor Society and Key Club, a chapter he helped found at Brandywine three years ago. Its membership is at about 35 and growing. “We noticed [Key Club] through other high schools, and we felt like we needed to be part of this,” he said. “We needed to get back and help our community.” This year, Janowiak and his fellow Key Clubbers have made blankets for the homeless and assembled Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need, among other initiatives. Janowiak said he plans to take the principles of service he has developed from Key Club and NHS and apply them to his work. He thinks his developing skills in computer science could help others in ways not even thought of now. He is particularly excited to explore machine learning and artificial intelligence. Their implications on human and worldly welfare are predicted to be massive, if a bit controversial. He thinks finding a balance between creative liberty and caution in the AI community is critical. Through college classes by day, volunteering in the afternoon and free-writing code by night, Janowiak is working his way toward that community of potential and career change.

28

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Two years ago, Kadin Mills raised his hands at a Buchanan home football game. At their fall, the Buchanan High School Marching Band would set into motion, sound and spectacle. Mills was a sophomore then, leading peers older than him, some of whom he had looked up to, for the first time. Last fall, Mills raised his hands one last time for the Buchanan marching band, peers his age and younger awaiting his direction. “You had the people that you looked up to, and when it comes time, you don’t even realize the people looking up to you,” he said. Mills has and is working to make a lasting legacy at Buchanan, even if high school students a decade from now may not realize it. As the co-founder of Student Coalition Seeking Reform, Mills hopes to show Buchanan Schools administration and board members that students are being negatively impacted by what he believes is a lack of support for teachers. For his Eagle Scout project, Mills is planting 10 heritage American chestnut trees in the Buchanan area. The trees are functionally extinct in the U.S. due to a fungus, but he hopes the seeds he has planted will be able to survive long into adulthood thanks to a potential fungus resistance being bred in. In the coming years, people will be able to view the trees and sit on benches along a chestnut tree trail between Buchanan Township’s hall and fire department. Mills holds leadership roles in tennis, track and National Honor Society, too, but his years with the band — ­ three as a drum major — are what he speaks most fondly of. The senior has seen the program grow from about 30 students to 70, and he has led the program through a directorial change, complex band formations and challenging musical arrangements. Mills considers the band a family, complete with its occasional annoyances and rifts. He said he loves it all, although he feels “melancholy” about leaving it and being forgotten. “You’re taken into this family with open arms, so there’s already this culture established that you’re welcomed into,” he said. “You see there’s the seniors who you look up to, and then they leave you. It’s just that slow progression of welcoming more people in until, eventually, you’re the one that’s leaving.” Mills will leave his leadership role for a college degree, tentatively, in journalism. If he chooses that route, he said it would be a bit fateful. He used to type out articles on a typewriter and take pictures with his great-grandmother's camera when he was about 10. Mills has every intention to keep in touch with the Buchanan band, however. He might even join a drum corps while taking classes. Meanwhile, in Buchanan, Mills’ chestnut trees will continue to grow, students will continue to seek reform and the band will play on under new leadership who looked up to him.


Jossalyn Rogalski, Dowagiac

Katelyn Waldschmidt, Cassopolis Katelyn Waldschmidt, a Ross Beatty High School senior, had the weight of tradition on her shoulders, but she followed through with a clean lift. Cassopolis’ National FFA Organization chapter has a history of performing well at state competitions, powered by a coach who was on the last Michigan team to receive a national gold medal. Waldschmidt was part of the 2019 team that won the Michigan 2019 State Leadership Conference in FFA’s parliamentary procedure competition. The team moved on to the national competition that fall in Indianapolis, where it placed in the top 12. The team took 30 tests, then took on the roles of members of a parliament in front of a panel of judges twice, once for the qualifying round, one for the semifinals. Waldschmidt said her “family” of fellow FFA members have kept her coming back to the organization, this year as president. The personal impacts FFA has had on her growth and confidence keep her engaged, too. Soccer has had a personal impact as well. What started as American Youth Soccer Organization play when she was young became joining Ross Beatty’s varsity soccer team as a ninth grader and being named a captain in the 10th and 11th grades. She said the team is on a bit of a rebound streak. Each season, its record has improved more and more. This year, with her friends by her side, the midfielder hopes to move the team into a positive scoring record. “Both teams and my leadership roles have really brought me out of my shell and helped me become a team player and a more outgoing person in general,” Waldschmidt said. “I definitely think I’ll take that out to the world with me: being able to communicate, and being a team player and a leader, while also being able to listen to others.” Waldschmidt said she will take her confidence and team skills into college, where she hopes to study either English, a favorite high school subject, or chiropractic health, something she thinks she could excel at. Either way, graduate school is likely in her future, as is a study abroad. A sign language minor could be a possibility, too. For now, however, Waldschmidt will gear up for soccer, finish up her yearly studies and take part in the Penn 4-H Club, Yearbook and Students Against Destructive Decisions. If she finds the time, she might read a John Green or Rainbow Rowell novel, too.

In 2018, Jossalyn Rogalski looked at lions square in the face and squirted milk in their open mouths. She said it was the happiest moment of her life. “It was the most exhilarating feeling when the lions came into the back [of the exhibit],” the Dowagiac Union High School senior said. “They were right there. They just started roaring, and you can feel it through your whole body.” The act, made possible by connection her principal, Kelly Millin, had fed into a passion for animals that has been growing. ... Now, she is dual-enrolled at Southwestern Michigan College, working to get a leg up on a four-year degree that will strengthen her ability to care for and rehabilitate creatures. “I could work literally anywhere caring for animals, and I would be happy in life — literally,” she said. Rogalski said her animal appreciation honed in to endangered species when she chose to create a brochure about them for a library project a few years back. Since then, she has worked in a Michigan Nature Association preserve to find, take samples of and note the threatened eastern massasauga rattlesnake, Michigan’s only venomous variety. She has also recently taken part in controlled burns at MNA sanctuaries, volunteered at an Athens, Michigan, alligator sanctuary and started an individual effort to raise funds for endangered animals, using her drawing skills to market the cause. She also will use her position in Rotary International to host an animal shelter fundraising drive. The efforts come as Rogalski maintains her grades and serves in student senate, Chieftain Heart and National Honor Society. The amount of work has made life difficult at times — she had to drop basketball this season despite playing since seventh grade — but it paid off in a SAT score that will give her a full ride to Western Michigan University. She will apply to the university as she finishes her last semester at Southwestern Michigan College. Rogaliski said her commitment to bettering herself came as she entered high school. At the time, she was hanging with a crowd that did not prioritize self-betterment. “I realized that I needed to be focused on education, and this and that, for myself,” she said. “Ninth grade was when I figured out who I needed to become throughout high school to be the best me I can be.” It is advice she wants to pass along to other incoming firstyears and use when she enters Western as a first-year herself.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

29


James "Trey" Knight, Niles

Tyler Dahms Edwardsburg Tyler Dahms woke up for his last first day at Edwardsburg Public Schools in an unfamiliar bed in a somewhat-unfamiliar house. His parents were about 1,000 miles away in Colorado. It has been that way since, but it was a decision Dahms made himself. His father received a job offer in Colorado, and Dahms chose to stay in Edwardsburg with a friend’s family. He could not leave the people who grew close to and the organizations he was invested in at the school district in rural Michigan. In fact, in his run for Mr. Edwardsburg last October, which he won, Dahms was asked by a moderator, “What is the greatest thing?” His response was the Edwardsburg community. “I’ve had the privilege of being able to get involved in so much that Edwardsburg has to offer,” he said days later. Dahms reflected with appreciation of the groups he is part of: varsity soccer, student council, Leos Club and theater. He also remarked on the people in each group with him who made the programs as strong as they were and, personally, his life situation comfortable. “I’ve got a lot of great friends I can rely on and who can support me,” Dahms said. “That’s another reason why I’ve stayed. I so do feel very connected and supported here.” By staying, Dahms can continue performing, competing and volunteering with the groups he has seen grow. If he had moved to Colorado, he would not have landed the lead role in a thriving theater program; led student council as its president on a number of service missions; felt the rush of an Edwardsburg soccer match as he sprinted down the field; or told people’s stories through photos while on yearbook staff. The work Dahms put in garnered him two post-season awards from his soccer coach. Two years ago, it was the “I’ve Got Bad News Award” for sometimes having to halve or no-show practice to attend theater and other events. Last year’s was the “Balanced Award,” a recognition of his dedicated devotions. Dahms said he is nervous to leave the high school he is invested in to attend Grand Valley State University. The unknowns of college and leaving friends are among his concerns. Despite numerous interests, he is going in undecided to obtain the best breadth of career options. He said he knows, however, that he will work to stay in touch with those who have supported him and those he has supported back.

30

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Last school year, James “Trey” Knight entered the Niles High School halls somewhat unrecognizable. He looked a bit sickly. His skin was puffy, and acne had broken out due to steroid treatments. Peers had hardly seen him that spring. He had more than 100 absences. Now, Knight radiates happiness, healthiness, generosity and kindness, and he is dead set on helping those struggling with similar situations come out the other side in the best ways they can. “Live every day like it’s the best day ever. No reason not to,” he said. “Take things one thing at a time.” Knight was forced to take life one painful day at a time starting his sophomore year when he unknowingly developed Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune and gastrointestinal disorder. He began vomiting and suffering terrible aches and pains. At times he cried, he said. He was taken from doctor to doctor. He said he was continuously sent home, given risky treatments and could only eat animal crackers and jelly for a month. Through it all, he maintained his GPA, having his teachers send him his work once a week. Then, Knight met Dr. Russell Cameron, of Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo. “He pretty much told me we were going to figure it out and work our way up to where I am now, and that’s exactly what we’ve done, and here I am,” the student council member and National Honor Society member said. Knight thought his mental strength, courage and relationships with others were strong before. Now, they are stronger and coupled with a new passion. Knight wants to embody the principles of care Cameron showed him by becoming a pediatric gastroenterologist. “I want to help kids my age that have the same problem or worse … and I want to help them as much as my doctor has helped me,” he said. “I don’t want them to go through the same experience that I did.” Few people in college and beyond will know what he went through, Knight said, but that is fine with him. The people who need to know are those he works with and, more importantly, those he helps. He will use his experience to become a caring expert physician. Knight is defined by more than his disease and his goals to help those with it, however. He is an active member of school service organizations, helping, for instance, first-year students navigate the halls during their first days of school. The senior loves the “inconsistent consistency” of baseball, too. Through his passion for the sport and while on Niles’ team, he said he has learned that talent and natural prowess take the bench when it comes to the best players. Rather, the best are those with the most drive, and the largest hearts. While Knight preps to become a gastroenterologist in college, he said he just might bring his other passion with him, donning a new team name.


FRESH TRADITIONS

SINCE 1947 THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO MAKE OUR FIRST 73 YEARS A SUCCESS!

SHELTON’S FARM MARKET

1832 S. 11TH ST. NILES, MI 49120 RETAIL: (269) 684-0190 WHOLESALE: (269) 684-3230 SHELTONFARMS.COM

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

31


32

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


When I

GROW UP... Students in Sara Gleason’s kindergarten class at Merritt Elementary were asked to draw a picture of where they see their future selves. PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTT NOVAK

“I want to be a doctor when I grow up, because I want to help people.”

“I want to be a doctor, because I want to help people. I help them not get sick.”

CAMERON RENKIEWICZ

GRACE CROUCH

“I want to be an astronaut because I love astronauts.”

“I want to be a cat when I grow up, because I love cats.”

“I want to be a police officer, because they eat donuts.”

“I want to be a doctor to help them be better — their hearts, their backs.”

“I am a police officer. They drive fast to take men to jail.”

“I want to be a police officer, because I love them, and I’ve seen what they do.”

“I want to be a police officer, because I like them.”

“I want to be a police officer when I grow up, because they help.”

“I am Batman. I am a superhero. I like to climb. I get bad guys. I fight them and take them to the police.”

“I am a police officer with a car. I catch bad guys when they steal money.”

“I was going to be a police man to arrest someone who is being bad. I will take them to jail.”

“I want to be a doctor to help people. They help people feel better. A doctor gave me a flu shot.”

MACEE WESTFALL

AYDIN ANDERSON

ZION BRADSHAWN

LANDEN ERICKSON

ABRAHAM HOLY

BRAXTON EARLES

DERRICK WHITE

LAVETTE WALKER

XZAVIER MILLER

ISABELLA KYLES

SAVANNAH WILLIAMS

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

ELLA HALBY

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

33


Talking

talk

THE

Pokagon Band finds healing through language revitalization efforts STORY SARAH CULTON | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

A

decade ago, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Language Specialist Carla Collins, 44, could not string together a full sentence in her native language. Aside from a few words — such as bozho (hello) or migwėtth (thank you) — the Potawatomi language last spoken by her grandmother was largely lost to her, something she said left a void in her heart. “I think just about every native person wishes they knew their language, wishes they could speak their language,” Collins said, her hands nervously curled around a coffee cup. “It’s something that is attached to us that we don’t have anymore.” Collins was not alone. The language was lost to all but a handful of citizens, and the Pokagon Band had little in the way of programming to keep the language alive. However, that is changing. In recent years, the Pokagon Band has made investments into language revitalization efforts through its language program. Dozens of language classes are being offered at Pokagon offices across Michiana. Children are being taught from a young age through Zagbëgon Academy, a preschool the Band opened in 2018. The department’s newest effort came in November of last year when it launched a smart-phone app with Mango Languages that teaches the Potawatomi language. It progresses from simple phrases to more complex sentence structures and vocabulary. Now, Collins is a member of a small team leading those language efforts. “We’ve come a long way,” Collins said, writing out a list of native words on a whiteboard inside of the Band’s Dowagiac Language and Culture building. One of the words is Bodéwadmi — the one who keeps fire — the native name for her people, Potawatomi. HEALING THROUGH LANGUAGE Today, the Potawatomi language is considered critically endangered, with fewer than 10 fluent speakers still alive, most of whom are spread out across the Midwest. Continent-wide, Native American languages are on the decline. Of the more than 150 North American indigenous languages, 135 are on the brink of extinction, according to the Bilingual Research Journal. According to the Census data from 2006 to 2010, more than half of Native American languages are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. Things were not always this way. The Columbia Encyclopedia

34

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

estimates there were more than 15 million speakers of more than 2,000 indigenous languages in the Western Hemisphere in the 1400s. Just two generations ago, native languages were spoken in the home by a majority of speakers, passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. Experts with the Pokagon Band have pointed to government policies and boarding schools beginning in the 1800s designed to assimilate Native Americans and remove Native American culture as one of the primary causes of native language decline. “They had to choose: do we be Indian, or do we keep our children safe? A lot of them chose to keep their kids safe and not even speak the language in their own homes,” said Pokagon Band Language Coordinator Rhonda Purcell. “[Those policies] have had a lasting, generational impact of trauma.” It was not until the Native American Languages Act of 1990 was passed that it became a matter of policy for Native Americans to be able to use and promote their languages in public settings. Now, Purcell, Collins and fellow language specialist Kyle Malott believe that the Pokagon Band’s language revitalization efforts can help bring healing to those who had their language stripped from them. “We are in a time when we know we can reclaim our Bodéwadmi identity and our sound without consequences,” Purcell, 34, said. “People fought for us to have these rights — to practice our spirituality, to maintain our own constitutional government, to speak our language. The people who fought for that, it is our responsibility to show that we care. That’s why we were called to do this work. It is our way of giving back to the community to ensure that all of that was not for nothing.” The Band’s efforts to revitalize the Potawatomi language for its citizens began in earnest in 2013 after Collins and Malott, 29, were chosen to study the language. After attending classes hosted by the Band and a summer camp dedicated to Potawatomi language, Collins realized she took to the language well, unlike many others she saw who struggled to learn the language. The Potawatomi language is notoriously difficult to learn, with some verbs having up to 70 variants depending on the subject and tense. “I figured, ‘oh, I want to do this,’” Collins recalled as she sat inside the building where she now works to preserve the Potawatomi language as a full-time job. “I realized I could do it if I worked hard at it.”


Kyle Malott, of Niles, demonstrates Potawatomi language on a dry erase board inside the Pokagon Band’s Language and Culture Building, 59291 Indian Lake Road, Dowagiac.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

35


Collins and Malott were eventually the recipients of a language apprenticeship program that sent them to Wisconsin for four years to learn the language from fluent speaker Jim Thunder. After completing their Wisconsin apprenticeship, Collins and Malott returned to serve as Pokagon Band language specialists, working on a revitalization program with Purcell. “There is a void. Everybody wants to know their language,” Collins said. “They want to feel like a full, whole person, and I think a lot of our native people feel like there is a little piece missing. If they could relearn their language, they would have that tie back to their family members that had passed away. It would fill that void.” “Without our language, we can’t call ourselves Potawatomi. Language and culture — you can’t have one without the other,” Malott added. Malott, Collins and Purcell all described their work as rewarding but draining. As language revitalizers, they have to wear many hats — teacher, tech programmer, even sometimes psychologist — and there are few roadmaps of success for them to follow. All three admitted to sometimes getting in a “doom and gloom” mindset about the realities of bringing back the Potawatomi language. When that happens, Collins said they have to come up with ways to motivate themselves. “Sometimes, you feel hopeless, but then you see a success somewhere, and that’s enough to keep you going six months,” she said. “You see one successful thing, and that’s enough for you to go, ‘yeah, we can do this.’” CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE One of the most recent successes that gave Purcell hope took place at Zagbëgon, the Band’s alternative preschool facility for tribal children that is focused on Potawatomi culture, language and lifeways. Last Halloween, Purcell sat in the back of a heavily decorated classroom, cobwebs and other spooky decorations covering the walls around her. Though she was keeping to herself, performing a routine classroom observation, it did not take long for a 3-yearold, briery-haired blond student to approach her. “What is that?” the boy asked, his finger pointed in the air toward a small, plastic spider dangling from the ceiling. “Espiké,” Purcell answered, “spider” in the Potawatomi language. “Ki Wigés,” the student responded, meaning “you did good.” Months later, recalling the exchange brought a smile to Purcell’s face. “He said that to me!” she exclaimed, seemingly still in disbelief. “For him to congratulate me as an adult, and for him to know that, something is being done right here. I was so touched that he praised me in our language. I thought that was monumental.”

36

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

From left, Rhonda Purcell, Carla Collins, Margaret Long and Kyle Malott are dedicated to preserving the Potawatomi language. The four are pictured outside the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Language and Culture Building in Dowagiac. That student is one of more than 30 students who learn basic Potawatomi language as part of their daily curriculum at Zagbëgon. Purcell said in the time since its founding, Zagbëgon has proven successful in teaching young children the language and kickstarting interest in Pokagon culture. “We can’t guarantee what learning happens once they leave that classroom, but we can be sure we are giving them a good foundation while they are young,” Purcell said. “We’ve seen that it’s really the young children that soak up [language] like a sponge.” The preschool is not just inspiring children. Margaret Long, 30, is one of two new language apprentices added to the Band’s staff, learning under Collins and Malott. Having been with the language revitalization program since July 2019, she first became interested in the topic after working at the preschool and using Potawatomi words daily with the students. “The more words I learned, the more words I wanted to learn,” she said. “I know that it is important. My great-grandma was the last fluent speaker in my family. My grandma didn’t know anything. My mom didn’t know anything. I want to be able to give it to my kids.” Already, Long said, she has begun to share that love of her ancestral language with her children. Her 11-year-old son, who previously wanted to be a U.S. Marshal when

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

he was older, now wants to work in language preservation. Her 3-year-old daughter, who often struggles to be understood in English, has little problem getting her point across when speaking Potawatomi. Stories like Long and her children’s give those involved with the Pokagon language program hope that their strategy of teaching native children the language young will help preserve it. Eventually, Collins, Purcell and Malott want to see the Pokagon Band extend its education efforts past the preschool level to offer a K through 12 immersion school to provide supports to continue children’s learning throughout their entire education. Though Purcell could not say when the Pokagon Band might see an immersion school added to its Dowagiac campus, she hopes it will occur within the next 10 years. “It’s cliché to say, but children really are the future here,” Purcell said. THE FUTURE OF THE POTAWATOMI LANGUAGE For the time being, Purcell said the language program will continue to do what it has been doing to increase awareness of Potawatomi revitalization while still seeking out opportunities to grow its programming through Pokagon Band funding and grants. Until more programs are established, she said the number one thing an average

Pokagon citizen can do to help bring back the language from the brink of extinction is to make a dedicated effort to learn it. “Learn outside the classroom,” Purcell said. “Stop closing your notebooks and leaving them until the next week. You have to continue that learning when it is most successful, which is outside of the classroom, so that you can then apply it to your everyday life.” No matter what happens next, those involved in the Pokagon Band’s language program know that bringing back Potawatomi will be a generations-long process. “It took the government 50 years to eradicate our language through force and abuse, so we can’t do a whole lot in a year,” Collins said. “It’s going to take us the rest of our lives to create speakers.” Despite this, they have hope that there will be a day when, just like a few generations ago, Pokagon citizens will be sitting around the dinner table, sharing stories and asking to pass the meal — all while speaking Potawatomi. “I have hope, because the generation before us, there was no language program,” Purcell said. “I was the first employee in the language program, and now it has grown to five people, so there is support. I think we are creating as good a foundation as we can with the resources we have, and we have opportunities and possibilities to really do something. Then, it will be the next generation’s responsibility.”


WE CRAFT MORE THAN SPIRITS.

WE CRAFT COMMUNITY. BEST COCKTAIL

BEST BURGER

3 N. THIRD ST. NILES, MI 49120 3-10 PM WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY 11:30 AM-11 PM FRIDAY AND SATURDAY 11:30 AM-9 P.M. SUNDAY

BEST VEGETARIAN

VOTED BEST RESTAURANT IN ALL OF MICHIANA

Your Traditions, Our Funeral Home. At our Funeral Home, we are proud to say that we are experienced in the funeral traditions of many faiths and cultures. Our staff knows how to work with you to make sure your loved one’s funeral is complete with the rituals they would expect.

Proudly serving the Niles Community 521 East Main St. Niles BrownFuneralHomeNiles.com 269-683-1155 | HORIZONS 2020 | 2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

37


Cass District Library

38

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Director: Barbara Gordon Locations: Main Branch: 319 M-62, Cassopolis Edwardsburg Branch: 26745 Church St., Edwardsburg Howard Branch: 2341 Yankee St., Niles Local History Branch: 145 N. Broadway St., Cassopolis Mason/Union Branch: 17049 US-12, Edwardsburg Website: cassdistrictlibrary.org Service Area: Residents of Calvin, Howard, Jefferson, LaGrange, Mason, Milton, Newberg, Ontwa, Penn, Porter, Pokagon and Volinia townships. The Cass District Library has borrowing agreements with Wood MemorialMarcellus Township Library, Dowagiac District Library and Van Buren District Library, so members of these libraries may also borrow from Cass District Libraries.


chapter The next

Southwest Michigan libraries adapt to changing needs of patrons STORY AMBROSIA NELDON | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

R

ows upon rows of musty smelling, hardcover books line sterile, Pine Sol-scented bookshelves. Green lamps with pull strings sit on top of solid, wooden desks. Long rows of drawers are filled with cards cataloging every book in the building. A grumpy older woman with a perpetual scowl keeps an index finger pressed to her lips, ready to shush noisemakers. For decades, these images have been used to describe the American library. They are also everything that library directors across southwest Michigan aspire not to be. As the way people consume media has evolved, so too has the way libraries operate. Upon his promotion to library director last fall, Niles District Library Director Stevyn Compoe said in order to thrive, library leaders must constantly evaluate what needs to happen to remain relevant and fulfill the needs of their communities. “If we stay the way we always were with just being the quiet place with a ton of books, we’re going to stagnate and eventually die off,” he said. In this way, Compoe and library administrators throughout the country have become not only the resources for information from the past, but catalysts for change in the present and future. In recent years, southwest Michigan libraries have undergone changes in leadership, building renovations, community programming and even the structure of the long-standing idea of late fees.

A patron participates in a craft session at the Cass District Library's Main Branch. The library offers a variety of community programs, and often has a waitlist for its crafting classes.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

39


NEW VISION Cass County and southeast Berrien County are served by four library networks: the Niles District Library, the Buchanan District Library and the Dowagiac District Library, each with one main location, and the Cass District Library, which has locations in the villages of Cassopolis and Edwardsburg, and Howard, Mason and LaGrange townships. Of the four districts, Compoe is the newest director, though he has worked in many roles at the library for almost a decade. Meg Paulette took the reins at the Buchanan District Library in July 2019, succeeding Barbara Gordon, who left to lead the Cass District Library in fall 2018. Matt Weston recently celebrated five years as the director of the Dowagiac District Library. Weston first began regularly frequenting libraries in his 20s as a way to become acquainted with new towns as he moved across the U.S. At that point, libraries still primarily functioned as resource centers. “Now, libraries are less about answering questions about general information; we don’t have many reference books left,” the Dowagiac library director said. “It’s become more like a community building — a place to gather to accomplish various things … everything from job hunting to meeting others and coming to programs.” Gordon said the Cass District Library remains a print-driven library serving the rest of rural Cass County, but, like libraries across the U.S., has shifted focus to accommodate the growing needs of its patrons.

40

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

“I personally think libraries are really poised to serve as places where people can come to improve their quality of life,” she said. “People can enter without expectations, and they can come to the library, yes, for books, but also to learn skills and to bridge the community divide.” Library directors across the four districts said creating a cultural center where people of all walks of life can learn, grow and collaborate has been a priority in restructuring. NEW PROGRAMS On a typical day at the Niles District Library, a group of patrons can be found chatting with one another as their hands work needles through yarn, crocheting or knitting in the company of fellow crafters. Meanwhile, just a few yards away, another group of individuals can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons. Another group still may be studying for their general education degrees, while even more attend lectures given by experts in various fields. “People are always surprised to hear the amount of programming and the types of programs we offer,” Compoe said. Gordon and Paulette echoed Compoe, saying their respective libraries are working to get the word out about all the programs the libraries provide. Programs throughout the four districts include everything from girls’ night out craft classes — which are at capacity regularly in both the Cass and Buchanan districts — to social work sessions and community meetings.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Buchanan District Library Director: Meg Paulette Location: 128 E. Front St., Buchanan Website: buchananlibrary.org Service Area: Residents of the city of Buchanan, Buchanan Township, Bertrand Township and Buchanan School District.

Patrons participate in a popular program at the Buchanan District Library called Little Bits.


Local libraries are on trend with national statistics, as the American Library Association reported in its most recent report that the number of programs offered at American libraries grew by half a million in 2016. Paulette said in addition to activities and assistance they can take advantage of in person, people are often unaware of libraries’ digital resources. “You can have a library card, and while you can’t get into the library to check out that book you want to read, you can get up at 3 a.m. and check something out and read it on your phone,” she said. Libraries are also reviving traditional services in new ways to better serve customers. Paulette said the Buchanan District Library hopes to introduce a Library of Things, a service the Niles District Library introduced in 2018. At the Niles library, library card holders can borrow household tools, games, kitchen utensils, technology and craft materials, using the same sharing economy people use to check out books and DVDs. NEW LOOK As libraries have reshaped the functions and services offered, the look and feel of library buildings have also changed. In summer 2019, the Buchanan District Library made a drastic, but fundamental change to its building. “We opened the front door,” Paulette said with a laugh. “We are in downtown Buchanan where there’s a lot of foot traffic, but for many years, we just had this entrance in the back of our building.” Now, a modernly designed entryway welcomes patrons from the street. Renovations also included adding a functioning elevator, which has extended access to the library’s local history room. “We feel like part of the neighborhood now,” Paulette said. In 2018, Dowagiac voters passed a millage of 1 mill,

meaning that $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value in the library district will be used to fund a $7.4 million library renovation project over 20 years. “We are doubling our size with an expansion off of the original Carnegie building from 1904,” Weston said. “We’ll add about 10,000 square feet in space on the first and second floor — 5,000 feet on each floor.” The added space makes room for a community room, small meeting and study rooms, expanded book collections and space for seating, among other amenities. The same year Dowagiac voters approved this millage, Niles district voters approved a five-year millage for 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, which is expected to garner about $132,000 per year. The funds are set aside for roof repairs and major renovations to the library bathrooms, which have not been upgraded since the 1960s. Less than a decade ago, the library shut down for a short period to renovate the newer portion of the library, painting the walls brighter colors and adding more furniture for collaborative space. “We also secured funding to install a glass wall and doorway that will allow us to close off our rotunda for larger events,” Compoe said. “We also expect to be able to replace the remaining areas needing carpeting (including the rotunda) in the fall/winter of 2020.” In 2016, the Cass District Library’s Main Branch in Cassopolis was renovated to improve the children’s area with new carpet, paint and furniture, and the public restrooms were brought up to ADA compliance. “For the past few years, the [Cass District] library’s focus has been on a total restoration of the Local History Branch, which is a historic Carnegie Library built in 1909,” Gordon said. “As we talk about visioning for the future, we’re also starting to talk about what our libraries look like moving forward, to continue to meet needs where they are.”

Dowagiac District Library Director: Matt Weston Location: 211 Commercial St., Dowagiac Website: dowagiacdl.org Service Area: Residents of the city of Dowagiac and Silver Creek, Keeler, Wayne and Bainbridge townships.

Children and parents participate in a story time at the Dowagiac District Library.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

41


Niles District Library patrons work together on a knitting project.

NEW APPROACH In October 2019, the Buchanan District Library abandoned a tradition as ingrained in the stereotypical library as noise-averse librarians: they eliminated their fines. “[Fines] are a financial barrier for some people,” Paulette said. “These are exactly the folks we want to serve, to sort of level the playing field, regardless of your financial situation.” The change was made possible in part through a grant from the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation and has so far not had a negative impact on the library’s budget. “We had $400 in materials that had been gone for a long time show back up,” Paulette said. “We had stories of people coming in and saying they wanted to come to the library, but didn’t because they owed past due fines.” In February, Cass District Library followed suit, forgiving past fines and eliminating future overdue charges. The trend is one that has spread across the country, with big cities like Chicago and Kalamazoo following close behind Buchanan’s fine-free program. Paulette and Gordon said the amount of money paid in fines is so minimal at their libraries that it is unnecessary. However, the approach is not one-size-fits-all. “Overdue fines for this current fiscal year is budgeted at $16,500,” Compoe said of the Niles library’s fines. “While that is a smaller number in our

42

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

“I personally think libraries are really poised to serve as places where people can come to improve their quality of life.” BARBARA GORDON, CASS DISTRICT LIBRARY

budget, every penny counts when we are attempting to maintain our level of service and the beautiful library building.” Both Niles and Dowagiac libraries offer periods in which they forgive fines if patrons bring in nonperishable food items, which are donated to area food pantries. In spite of their differing opinions on overdue library fines, all library directors share a common vision to make a space where all feel welcome, no matter their socioeconomic status, age, ethnicity or political beliefs. In Niles, the library hopes to shift its focus from

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

the outside in. “I am excited to be able to lead our wonderful and vital community asset into the future, continuing to build on the achievements and direction of previous directors,” Compoe said. “We have shifted our focus outward into the community over the past several years to help fill gaps in service and become a central hub to the community we serve. I would say our next step is to look more into patron satisfaction and specifically library non-users to see if we can do anything to draw more users into our facility.” Weston has the same priority for Dowagiac. “We’ll definitely be focusing on more programming for all ages,” he said. With the expansion, the library will have areas specifically for children, teens and young adults, as well as a community room for local groups to reserve and meet, and more space for lectures and other community meetings. Like Niles and Dowagiac, Cass and Buchanan libraries hope to spark dialogue about key issues, sharing the community’s story in the same way as the books on their shelves. “Libraries are a place to be a citizen and not a consumer,” Paulette said. “My vision would be to get more conversations started with people who don’t necessarily agree with each other. … I feel very patriotic about it. This is what it means to be an American. At the end of the day, the most important things — those same things are important to us.”


Niles District Library Director: Stevyn Compoe Location: 620 E. Main St., Niles Website: nileslibrary.com Service Area: Residents of the city of Niles and Niles Charter Township receive free cards. Out-of-district residents can purchase a Niles District Library card for $25 per year. 2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE | HORIZONS 2020 | 43


44

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


Knowledge

for all

New SMC president looks to future of community college STORY AMBROSIA NELDON | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

ne year ago, a soon-to-be dad was a bundle of nerves as his wife prepared to give birth to their first son 1,000 miles from where he grew up. “Far more anxious than [his wife,] Laura,” the man eased his anxiety by striking up conversations with the hospital staff. Where were they from? How long had they been a nurse? Where did they go to school? “I became calm when two or three or four of the folks that I met were our graduates,” said Dr. Joseph Odenwald, better known to most on Southwestern Michigan College’s campus as “Dr. Joe.” “I felt better.” Since moving to Dowagiac from Louisiana in 2017, Odenwald has repeatedly found comfort in meeting fellow SMC Roadrunners in the community: when he took out a mortgage on his new home, when he has worked with law enforcement, or when he has met residents at municipal meetings throughout Cass County. This comfort comes from the Michigan newcomer’s confidence in the work accomplished at SMC, which Odenwald said continues to make southwest Michigan prosper. “Think about it. So many people who get their start at SMC remain in the community, and it regenerates future leadership,” he said, excitement emphasizing the twang of his southern accent. “The critical people that it takes to operate a community — you gotta have nurses. You have to have teachers. You have to have law enforcement. … And they start here.” After serving two years as vice president of student affairs, Odenwald was selected as the eighth president of the community college in late 2019, succeeding Dr. David Mathews, who retired after 18 years as the college’s president. As Odenwald shifts into his new role, he said he sees a bright future built on a solid foundation. “Our story is a beautiful story. We’re born out of the Era of Access in the mid-‘60s, when you had the Baby Boom sort of generation,” he said. “You think about it, for 55 years, we’ve been supplying the community with teachers, nurses, law enforcement.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

45


A NEW STORYTELLER On a winter day in January, Odenwald walked through the snow, offering a tour of the remote college campus. Still adjusting to the colder climate, his teeth chattered as he indicated points of pride for the community college. Residence halls filled almost to capacity offer an on-campus atmosphere not far from home. Students and community members alike enter the college’s student activity center, duffel bags slung over shoulders on the way to a workout. The college’s nursing building brims with students in teal scrubs gaining hands-on experience. Every so often, the college president was interrupted by a “hey, Dr. Joe!” from a passing student, or a handshake from a faculty member. Odenwald said this sense of community is what makes him so passionate about SMC. He loves to share the work happening through the college. “I said two things in my interview that I believe are the two roles of the president,” he said. “Number one is to be the chief storyteller of the college. It’s not to be out telling all the good I’m doing. No, I’m not doing the good here. I’m the one that’s out telling the community within our college district and beyond even that, the good things that are being done here by our students, by our faculty, by our staff.” Odenwald said the second role of the president is to facilitate an environment in which everyone can be successful. Odenwald, 38, previously served as assistant dean for academic and student services at Louisiana State University College of Engineering, and associate dean of students and director of student life at Mississippi College, among other teaching and adjunct faculty positions. With experience at both the private college and state school level, Odenwald said SMC’s mission — “knowledge for all” — is what led him to the rural community college. “I can feel that from the top of my head to the end of my toes. I believe that,” he said. “I believe that education should not be about how much you have or who your parents are or where you’re from. If you’re a human, you ought to have access to education.”

FALL 2019 ENROLLMENT

CHALLENGES TO CONQUER In fall 2019, 2,154 students were enrolled at SMC. Of those, 567 were high school students taking college classes via dual-enrollment programs at public schools in Berrien and Cass counties. The remaining 1,230 students were traditional students, defined as high school graduates under the age of 24. Another 357 students were non-traditional students — adult learners 25 and older. “I want to see us get back to 2,500 students by fiscal year 2025,” Odenwald said. “That’s a nice sharp goal, isn’t it?” In a good economy, fewer students attend community college nationwide, opting instead for four-year universities and private colleges. “If you go back and look where we were in the 2000s — 2009 to 2010 — when the economy was just so tough, and we had double digit unemployment in the state of Michigan, we had 3,200 students and we were crowded,” Odenwald said. “It was tough. We don’t want any kind of thing like that to happen. We want to be able to serve students well.” Nonetheless, the president said he would never wish for a bad economy. “That’s immoral. What I’d like to do is try to find ways we can support a good economy,” he said. “What you want to do is find ways to support a workforce that’s changing and frankly, being disruptive in lots of ways.” From these “disruptions” come opportunities: changes in healthcare records means new training is necessary. Changes in industry require new certifications and different kinds of learners. “To survive, we’ve got to be pretty creative,” Odenwald said. Regardless of where the economy stands, however, Odenwald

46

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

57% Traditional Students

(High school graduates age 24 and under)

26% High School Students

(Students dual-enrolled from area schools)

17% Non-Traditional Students (High school graduates 25 and older)

‘Knowledge for all.’ I can feel that from the top of my head to the end of my toes. I believe that. I believe that education should not be about how much you have or who your parents are or where you’re from. If you’re a human, you ought to have access to education.” DR. JOE ODENWALD


predicts challenges due to the region’s changing demography. “We’re going to have a declining graduation rate of high school students in the Midwest, and particularly in Michigan, until about 2034,” he said. High schools have handed out fewer and fewer diplomas for the last decade, and experts expect the trend to continue. In the state of Michigan, SMC competes with 15 state universities and 28 community colleges, including nearby Lake Michigan College. Odenwald describes this as “a lot of competition for a shrinking pie,” but expects the college to fare well with a strong plan for recruitment and programming. A ROADMAP FOR THE FUTURE Odenwald and other college leadership work with the community to identify these needs and develop programs to match, enticing learners of all ages to study at SMC. The college is currently working on a strategic plan to address challenges and opportunities and develop a roadmap for the next chapter. “It’ll be a blueprint for us moving forward,” he said. “We’re going to know exactly what we’re going to do as a community college, and we’re going to pursue that with all our hearts the next three years.” Keys to the college’s success, Odenwald said, will be a responsive approach to educational partnerships for transfer students, a continued focus on early college, keeping a watchful eye on disruptions in TOP 5 PROGRAMS industry, and continued FALL 2019 marketing and networking General Studies (those interested throughout the region. in transfer or receiving their associate’s degree): 240 students “Next year, we will have Health Sciences (those interested our reaffirmation visit in careers in Pre-dental Hygiene, from the Higher Learning Pre-radiography, Pre-nursing and related areas): 169 students Commission, which is Business Administration (those just essential for us,” he interested in careers in Accounting, said. “That will, I believe, Business Administration and related areas): 152 students validate all the work that Nursing (those students who have has been done the last 10 been accepted into the nursing years.” program): 139 students A few years down the Criminal Justice: 77 students road, SMC has its sights set on renovating the Lyons Building. “It’s been there a little over 40 years, but that’s another critical program here — the arts,” he said. “We have such a dynamic music and theater and band and choir groups, and we’re going to be looking at ways to fund a renovation of that in the next five years.” Despite the obstacles and hard work ahead, Odenwald said he feels fortunate to be surrounded by a talented staff and promising students. “We’ve talked about our challenges,” he said. “We’ve got them, but one thing I really want to point out is, in addition to being set up really well with facilities, the more important advantage that we’ve got is we’ve just got such good people here. We’ve got such good faculty. We’ve got such caring staff that I think we can get there.” As Odenwald and his family continue to settle into their new home in Dowagiac, Odenwald is on a quest to meet as many current, former and prospective Roadrunners as possible. In early 2020, he began a tour of the college district’s municipal governments and continues to feel at ease by the innumerable amount of people who share their connections to the community college, underlining the college’s mission: Knowledge for All. “I’ve worked at a four-year flagship with a big football team. I worked at a private college that charged a lot. It was a great place. I loved the people,” he said. “But I’ve never felt a greater connection to a place I’ve worked than this. This is the last place I want to work. This is it. I hope this is the one they put on my tombstone.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

47


Kelly Getman-Dissette is the Niles Dial-A-Ride transportation director.

Taking the

wheel Nonprofits, city services offer transportation solutions as county efforts lurch forward STORY BEAU BROCKETT JR. | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI


Pat Winans is a volunteer with New Heights Auto Services.

Nicholas Adamczyk drives a bus for Niles Dial-A-Ride Transportation.

T

he bright blue garage of New Heights Auto Services on M-139, oddly, is easy to miss. Hundreds of drivers likely do so each day on the main thoroughfare between southeast and northwest Berrien County, intent on going to work, a doctor’s appointment, a store, attractions or home. So, too, is a small brick schoolhouse converted into a resource center in a neighborhood outside of downtown Niles. Rather than knowing what happens inside, drivers may associate the structure with a place where people walk, bike or push shopping carts up to. Even a bus center in Niles is easy to miss. Eyes going by at 25 miles an hour may instead latch onto public artwork or a public housing complex nearby rather than the service that transports people to important destinations. Each service is part of a larger piece of public transportation in Berrien County, and each offers its own approach to providing the means to bring people to resources. Leaders of Berrien County’s major public transportation providers — Niles Dial-A-Ride, Buchanan Dial-A-Ride, Berrien Bus and Twin Cities Transportation Authority — realized the need for transportation alternatives a decade ago, said Evan Smith, the county transportation and planning coordinator. He acknowledged that slow, incremental change was occurring to expand services to meet needs. This January, a two-year cross-county transportation pilot program, the Connect Berrien Plan, was launched. The regional public transit entities offer coordinated fixed routes and demandresponse services to users. Fixed route stops, Smith said, are at places where employment is high, such as Whirlpool Corporation or Andrews University, or where resources can be provided, such as grocery stores and government buildings. Demand-response services, where transportation is scheduled with users, are in more rural areas. The plan is 10 years in the making. In that time, the county and public transit leaders conducted public studies to find where transportation is needed most and why it is needed. The research showed employment was the greatest need, and transportation was its biggest barrier. Chris Britton, New Heights Auto Services director, said jobs are open and there are people to fill them, but connecting the two is where the difficulty lies. Britton was in Berrien County a decade ago, when the county began taking a holistic approach to public transportation. He said there has not been much progress since, and that is affecting people.

Ben Handlag is a staff mechanic for New Heights Auto Services.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

49


Chris Britton is the director for New Heights Auto Services.

In New Heights’ auto shop — 4367 M-139, St. Joseph — two mechanics work under two lifts, one holding a small car, the other an SUV. An occasional laugh rises between above the whirls and taps. The shop is part ministry, part retail store. The small car is receiving general maintenance, and its owner is paying for it. The SUV was donated and is being repaired at the shop. Once completed, it will be sold to an individual in need who has passed financial coaching sessions in payments totaling $500. Britton expanded the auto service into its current 7,000-foot space to impact more people, some of whom he said may work, but may not make enough to have reliable transportation to get there. “It is absolutely insane to think there are people with a job that are on the verge of losing that job and sliding backwards,” he said. “That’s what keeps me up at night.” Earlier that morning, Denise Carter took the Niles Dial-a-Ride bus into work. Hours later, she took it home. Without it, she said she would have a long walk ahead of her each day. She said the service was reliable and staffed with “amazing” bus drivers. All she could ask for is extended hours so she could work later into the evening. Carter’s insights are common responses from Niles DART riders, from those who use it for school trips to

50

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

those who use it to visit relatives, said Kelly GetmanDissette, the fleet’s manager. Getman-Dissette worked with Smith in developing the pilot program’s studies. “I think it really highlighted the need for public transit services in this county, and it highlighted some of the areas where we can do more to better connections with the other agencies or just to different destinations,” she said. One of those areas, largely specific to Niles, was connecting a Berrien County transportation route to a South Bend area route. That, Getman-Dissette said, would open up more employment, shopping and medical services to Niles area residents. When the Niles DART bus driver picks up Carter from her home, it takes her to Ferry Street Resource Center, 610 Ferry St., Niles. The former brick schoolhouse is now where people from groups such as Jobs for Life, Emergency Assistance Services, Friend of the Court and Department of Health and Human Services will appear and provide their services for free. If Niles DART moves people to a resource, and New Heights provides the vehicle to reach a resource, Ferry Street Resource Center transports the resources to the people. Director Ric Pawloski said transportation is a barrier for almost everyone he works with. Some walk from

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Niles to Buchanan to work. Others have vehicles but cannot afford tune-ups and are left to the whims of their cars working properly any given day. Ferry Street’s mission is to create sustainable futures for its clients, but Pawloski said transportation needs impede on its mission. Neither Pawloski, Britton or Smith said their solutions, nor the others, were a cure-all. Rather, Pawloski and Britton said that their services would fill some gaps in Berrien County while its government sought to bring public transit entities together and expand services. Planned coordination between entities like theirs is meant to provide more services to more people. Smith said public transit was not going to help everyone, either — Berrien County is vehicle-oriented, with its dotting of cities and villages interspersed with rural farms and urban sprawl. Rather, collaboration is key, all three men said. “The need for transportation is certainly there,” Smith said. “I think everyone understands that.” No one with a vehicle perhaps can understand that need more than those without them. “They’ve got places to go and things to do,” said “seasoned veteran” Niles DART bus driver Kathy Johnson as she pulled into a driveway, preparing to take someone to work.


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

1


2

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


YOUR FUTURE IS A Whether your vision for the future includes saving lives in an emergency room, developing sustainable farming methods, teaching children or anything else, SMC is the place to make your dreams a go. SMC is focused on setting your future up for success, with low tuition, vibrant student life, on-campus housing and ever-expanding, hands-on educational opportunities.

Apply for free now to start next fall.

GO

Visit swmich.edu to get going today. Southwestern Michigan College is an equal opportunity institution. For the full statement visit swmich.edu/campus-services/safety. Southwestern Michigan College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission. org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Voted Best College in Michiana


Melody Wallace, Rotarian

CENTENNIAL state of mind Approaching milestone, local service organization makes plan for next 100 years STORY HANNAH HOLLIDAY | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

A

t its peak, the Dowagiac Rotary club attracted more than 100 members. Teachers, lawyers and business professionals would congregate once a week to share a meal, handle some occasional business and revel in the common goal of “service above self.” Throughout the years, meeting locations may have changed, officers switched in and out, and community service events have shifted. What has remained despite the change is the club itself. This year, the Dowagiac Rotary Club, which chartered in 1920 through Rotary International, celebrates its centennial anniversary. Richard Judd Jr., who is the club’s longest sitting Rotarian, said at one point in the 1970s when he joined, membership was steady at 90. Today, membership sits at about 35 members. “My dad was a Rotarian, and my

grandfather was a Rotarian,” Judd said. “It was expected. Rotary was a good service club. My dad always said, ‘Son, you make a living in your community, and you give back to your community.’” Though Rotarians celebrate the milestone, not every service organization can be so lucky. Declines in other service organizations like the Lions and Optimists, both with active organizations in both Berrien and Cass counties, have also faced declining membership. As Dowagiac’s Rotary looks to the future, one Rotarian is spearheading a proposal to reignite membership participation in the club. A ONE-TIME OPPORTUNITY Victor Fitz tends to be obsessive about numbers. In what little time he has outside

of his job as the Cass County prosecutor, he enjoys looking at statistics and is active at Cassopolis United Methodist Church. Fitz is the guy sitting in the back counting how many people filled the pews instead of listening to the pastor’s sermon. He worries about losing a few more members of the congregation and how that would affect the church’s organizational structure. So, it is unsurprising he counts how many Rotarians attend Dowagiac’s weekly meetings at noon on Thursdays and has similar fears. “There have been a number of Rotary organizations that have gone by the wayside in the last couple of decades for similar reasons,” he said. “I remember back a decade ago, I would count to see how many people we have. We would always flirt with about 30 people.” Fitz also remembers when he first joined in 2003, 77 members filled the club. He

was pushed into it after just moving to the county. “I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it, but I knew it was important to do,” he said. “Now, I love it. I see the important stuff this organization does.” That is why Fitz proposed the club focus on getting its membership back up to 100 members throughout the centennial year. By using parts of the club’s past, Fitz wants to help its future. He previously served as club president and is both proud and ashamed of membership’s ups and downs during his reign. He helped the organization get its membership up to 60. “The part I am embarrassed about is that we didn’t keep our membership at that level,” he said. “Some of it was natural arbitration. But I think part of the reason we did that was because we didn’t have an infrastructure to keep them there.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

51


Matt Cripe and DeVante McCullom, Rotarians

AN ‘OPTIMISTIC’ OUTLOOK On a Tuesday, the smell of egg rolls and fried rice filled the room as a small group of friendly faces talked amongst themselves in a back room at Ho Ping Garden in Niles. In the corner of the room stood a flag pole with the Optimist Creed proudly on display. As civic organizations decline in membership, members of the Niles Noon Optimist Club, chartered in 1970, naturally remain optimistic and are working to get the word out to a younger crowd. In October 2019, the club found new leadership in Optimist Sammee Schaller, who is the Niles-Buchanan YMCA aquatics director. She stepped up to the role after previously serving as vice president. Schaller, who joined the organization through the encouragement of her supervisor, said the club has been largely known in the area for its youth soccer league, which begins in March. Since 2016, the Niles Optimists have been in a partnership with the Niles’ Buchanan YMCA. Currently, the volunteer organization’s number one goal is to grow its membership. “With soccer, we pour everything into it, on top of

52

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

Larry Crandall, Rotarian

full-time jobs,” Schaller said of members in the group. “We need more Optimists in the club to help find balance and help volunteer at our fundraisers.” While attracting new members, the group is hesitant to give up its traditions — like hosting its meeting at noon on a weekly basis. “With us targeting more working people, we wonder if we should continue meeting once a week,” Schaller said. “It’s sensitive to our members that have been here since the beginning.” The group plans to host focus groups to figure out what they can do to get the word out. They brainstormed happy hour events or hosting coffee and bagel meetings. Despite the uncertainty of the future, the mission of optimists stays consistent — to provide hope and a positive vision. Members of the group added how Optimists bring out the best in youth, communities and themselves. Dr. Jim Listenberger, now a retired eye doctor, joined the club later in life. He still saw the benefits of being surrounded by like-minded individuals. “I was going along at age 40, working with other

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

people and thinking, ‘there is more to life than this,’” he said sitting next to his fellow Optimists. “Becoming an Optimist helped give me that spirit I was searching for.” BRING TWO Fitz’s vision for the future of Rotary is to need to move into a bigger meeting space than the one the group currently occupies at Front Street Crossing. To attract new members, Fitz has decided to get creative by bringing back a past initiative. Over the 100-year anniversary, he wants every Rotarian to bring two people to join. Fitz pictures a membership of 105, leaving a fiveperson margin of error. Once new members are brought in, the club agreed it needs a more established new member orientation to address transparency about costs, and an induction ceremony where members can be officially pinned and presented. Fitz also wants to establish two centennial awards, one for recruiting to award the member who brings in new blood to Rotary with a $100 gift certificate. Fitz wants to call it the Fred Mathews Recruiting Award


SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS Kiwanis International Kiwanis is an international organization dedicated to serving children worldwide. Local clubs include: Niles-Southwest Michigan Kiwanis Meetings are at noon Wednesdays at Hob Nob in Niles. The Niles Kiwanis Club sponsors two Key Clubs — one at Niles High School and one at Brandywine High School. ABOVE: Barbara Groner, BELOW: Richard Judd Jr.

Lions Clubs International Lions clubs are focused on community service locally, nationally and internationally. Each Lions Club determines its own service projects based on its community’s needs and membership interests. Local clubs include: Buchanan-Galien Lions Meets at 6:15 p.m. every second and fourth Thursday of each month at the Buchanan American Legion. Dowagiac Lions Meets at 6:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Dowagiac Lions Club House. Edwardsburg Lions Meets at 6:30 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month at American Legion Post 365 in Edwardsburg. Niles Lions Meets at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at Hob Nob in Niles. Sister Lakes Lions Meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Thursday at Lions Park Club House in Dowagiac.

after Mathews, who was instrumental in keeping Dowagiac Rotary running. A second attendance award would be the Graham Woodhouse Award. Fitz spoke with Rotarian Don Woodhouse, who agreed to have the award be in his father’s honor. MORE THAN A CLUB At a meeting in January, Rotarian and Sheriff Richard Behnke talked about how a pipe burst at his house. He texted a past Rotarian member, who works at Servpro, a water cleanup franchise. The past Rotarian answered swiftly and was able to fix the issue. “The amazing thing was his company was very busy floating in Kalamazoo,” Behnke said. “He said, ‘Give me a couple hours, and I’ll get to you.’ I know it’s that relationship we’ve built from Rotary.” Rotarian and Cass County Circuit Court Judge Mark Herman stayed with a Rotarian in Brazil. “On a Sunday morning, they took us to an art institute,” Herman said. “It was huge. It was like going to the art institute in Chicago.”

Despite the place being closed, Herman’s group was allowed in. The man he was staying with asked Herman if he liked the paintings in the exhibit. Herman responded with ‘yes,’ and the fellow Rotarian took one of the paintings off the wall and handed it to him. “He purchased one of those paintings for me,” Herman said. “I still have the painting, and it hangs in my house.” In another story, after a Rotary dinner, Herman’s crown fell off his tooth, he called up fellow Rotarian, Dr. Matthew Cripe, and at 10:30 p.m., was getting it replaced. A while ago, the night before Herman went on vacation, he hurt his eye and he called Dr. Katie Marshall, an eye doctor at Southwest Vision Center and fellow Dowagiac Rotarian who was able to take a look at it before he left. The relationships of Rotary go well beyond the walls of its meeting space, according to its members. “Things like that just happen when you are a member of Rotary,” Herman said.

Optimist International The purpose of the Optimist Club is to develop optimism as a philosophy of life and to aid and encourage the youth of their communities. Local groups include: Dowagiac Optimists Meetings are at noon on the third Thursday of each month at Lindy’s in Dowagiac. Niles Noon Optimists Meetings are at noon every Tuesday at Ho Ping Garden. Niles Riverfront Optimists Meetings are the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Niles District Library.

Rotary International The Rotary Club’s mission is to “provide service to others, promote integrity and enhance world understanding, goodwill and peace through fellowship of business, professional and community leaders.” Local groups include: Dowagiac Rotary | HORIZONS | 53 are atTHE noonFUTURE each Thursday at the Cass 2020 County Council 2020 Meetings VISION FOR on Aging Front Street Crossing in Dowagiac.


DOWAGIAC UNION SCHOOLS

DOWAGIAC CHIEFTAINS

Building on a Tradition of Excellence as we Develop Today’s Learners to be Tomorrow’s Leaders

Nationally Recognized in the Top 19%

Opportunities for All

Dual Enrollment & Early College Program College & Career Readiness Classes. Renovated Facilities and Grounds throughout the district. We offer a large number of extracurricular events in the fine arts and athletics.

Medicare, Managed Care and Medicaid Accepted 55432 Colby Street • Dowagiac, MI 49047 54

|

HORIZONS 2020

269.782.7828 |

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter! 243 S. Front St. Dowagiac, MI 269.782.4400 www.dowagiacschools.org


A heartbeat of

BELIEF STORY HANNAH HOLLIDAY | PHOTOGRAPHY JEN BOUNDS

A

clear, compelling vision to start a life-giving church is what brought Muta and Christine Mwenya to Niles in 2014. Both left the corporate world behind and, with free-agent status, scouted the area in June of that year. By July, the couple had planted roots in the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph areas, with a clear vision of the type of church they would start. At 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday, gathered in a large room with bright neon lights, Relevant Church’s band performs on stage. Christine and Sarah Shirk act as vocalists, while Danae Rossman is the keyboardist. A drummer and electric guitarist round out the group as a congregation of about 100 people joins in with the upbeat tempo. Hands raised, swaying in unison, Relevant Church is a modern Christian church. “I think religion has muddled up faith quite a bit,” said Muta, pastor and founder of the church. “When you boil it down, Christianity, it has to do with one person: Jesus. We wanted a church that just pointed people to Jesus and didn’t point people to religion.” On a Sunday morning, people passing by Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist Church, 33332 US-12, Niles, might notice Relevant Church members standing next to the road holding up red signs decorated with “Relevant Church.” Greeters wait in the parking lot welcoming visitors with a

smile and “welcome home.” “We also envisioned a church where people from all different backgrounds could gather together,” Muta said. “It didn’t matter if you were black or white; whether you are Republican, Democratic, Independent or other; whether you are wealthy or down and out.” Muta wanted Relevant Church to be a space where people who walked through the doors never felt judged for who they were, what they looked like or what they had done. The community was also a focal point for the church. Drawing ideas from Christianity in late antiquity, Muta said the religion was rooted in community service, serving people and building people up. “We wanted to go back to the roots of what an early Christian church looked like,” he said. “One that looked outward and not inward.” CREATING A DREAM TEAM From the greeters who open the church’s door to visitors to the audio tech serving behind the scenes, Relevant Church purposely invites parishioners to serve and volunteer in their gifted areas. “If I am passionate about the area that I am working in, then my interactions with people are going to be very genuine and whole and not contrived,” Muta said. “The

Relevant Church keeps focus on Jesus in a time of changing worship experience we want people to feel when they walk through the door is to see people who have joy.” The church has six “dream teams,” which help parishioners get involved in the service of the church. Ranging from guest services to marketing and communications roles, Relevant Church leaders want to intersect opportunity with individuals’ gifts and passions. Members of the church can help take photos and videos. Even a lighting operator and production operator assist with the worship group’s band and vocals. “When you are working in your calling and serving in those areas, you can truly honor God with what you do,” Muta said. “It’s no longer work, it’s worship.” Currently, Relevant Church also has five directors to handle various areas of the church. Christine, the creative director at Relevant Church, also leads the worship program in vocals. “I want people to experience Jesus the way I experience him throughout the week,” she said. “I feel good up there. I enjoy my time. I enjoy worshiping with the other bodies of Christ.” Lewis Boyden, the church’s marketing and communications director and Next Generation director, met Muta five or six years ago when the former Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce was establishing a young professionals network.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

55


Jade Ellison, Jose Velez, and Sarah Shirk

Christine Mwenya

Muta Mwenya

Muta shared with Boyden the vision for Relevant Church and asked him to dedicate six months to help launch it. After six months, Boyden would return to his home church. The six months came and passed, and Boyden remained rooted at Relevant Church. “We are in this five or six years now,” he said. “I am still here and still loving it. I am constantly in prayer and talking to God about these things. I listen to God and do what he says.” A “WELCOME HOME” During a Sunday service, Angie Griggs, the connections director at Relevant, took the stage before Boyden delivered a sermon. “Whether this is your 100th time coming or your first time,” she said, “welcome home.” The church’s welcome home service model aligns with the principles taught in the parable of the prodigal son, in Luke 15:11-32. In the story, a young man leaves his father’s farm to seek a riches in his city. He ends up spending all his fortune and eventually returns to his father, who accepts him with open arms. Muta calls this scripture the heartbeat of the church. Growing up in a Christian household, at the age of 14, Muta wanted nothing to do with church or faith. He walked through the doors of a church again in his late

56

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

20s. His fears were typical. He feared being judged and the congregation knowing what he had done. “Many of us who have come to faith have recognized a piece of our lives where we have not lived in honor to God,” he said. “We’ve done our own things. We’ve gone our own way. We’ve acted in ways that are unbecoming to who God wants us to be. When we walk through those doors, many of us are scared.” Relevant Church works to welcome people home. “We don’t know what you’ve been through, but we want to let you know this is a safe place. You are home,” Muta said. ESTABLISHING A TEACHING-CHURCH From the church’s inception, Relevant Church aimed to equip its people with skills for both the ministry and the marketplace. Three years ago, Muta designed a pilot program with about 10 individuals to be trained, coached and equipped to pursue full-time vocational ministry or to enter the workforce. The program spanned three sessions and focused on personal development, as well as faith development. Four people ended up successfully graduating. In fall 2019, Relevant Leadership College officially launched. Students will go through four semesters and

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

an internship program to receive a diploma at the end. Muta is working to flip the script on how people view churches and roles of ministry. “For so long, church has been seen as a place where hate and bigotry and just ill-will stems from,” he said. “We want people who say if they are going into ministry, I need to know that I need to have the father’s heart, the welcome home spirit, in front of me.” FAITHFUL IN THE FUTURE The church celebrated its fourth anniversary in January 2020 and hoped to make a more significant impact on the Niles community, as well as raise up people who want to make a difference no matter where they are in life. The Relevant Church community is also excited to walk into the new possibilities ahead by partnering with other churches in the area, Muta said. “We see the network of churches as one, with all different flavors,” he said. As Sunday service came to an end, Relevant Church’s congregation filed into the outside room to visit and chatter. Though they came from different backgrounds, different pasts, there was a common theme uniting all of them. “If we can let people know that Jesus is relevant, then we feel like we did our job,” Muta said.


GIRL POWER Buchanan teen hopes to be among first female Eagle Scouts STORY SARAH CULTON | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

G

rowing up, Buchanan resident Emily Long had one dream that she wanted more than anything: to be an Eagle Scout. The dream was an impossible one. Eagle Scout is the highest rank a Boy Scout could achieve, and, as a girl, Long was not permitted to join the organization. Still, Long never gave up on her dream. Now, at 18 years old, the Buchanan High School student is seeing her dream come true, and — if all goes as planned — she will be among the first women to be inducted as an Eagle Scout later this year. On Feb. 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America began allowing girls ages 11 to 17 to join all activities, changing the name of its Boy Scouts program to Scouts BSA. The change, which BSA officials said was spurred by parent requests, allows girls to enroll in the BSA program in separate troops than boys. Younger girls were able to join the Cub Scouts in 2018. Though BSA officials have not released official enrollment numbers, radio broadcasting network Voice of America reported that, as of April 2019, approximately 15,000 girls had joined more than 2,000 new troops nationwide. Long remembers the day BSA announced it would allow girls to join its ranks clearly. She was home sick from school, curled up in bed when she caught a clip on the news announcing the change. “I hopped right up out of bed, rushed over to my mom, and said, ‘look what is on the news!’” Long recalled, smiling. “We went to watch the big TV in the living room, and they said it wouldn’t happen until 2019, and my heart sank because I wouldn’t have enough time to [achieve Eagle Scout before turning 18]. It killed the excitement just a little bit because I was still happy for all the other girls who would be able to do it. But selfishly, I was disappointed for me.” It was not until later that she learned BSA was offering an extension period for girls newly entering the program. Then, she knew she was on the road to achieving her dream.


THE ROAD TO EAGLE SCOUT Long’s love for BSA started young. “I’ve always been into the outdoors. I grew up in the country, with the woods, playing outside,” she said. “Eventually, your own acres become small, and you need to explore more.” Long got her chance to explore more when her brother, Xander, joined Boy Scouts. Long accompanied him to every meeting and made fond memories even though she was not able to earn badges or move up in the ranks. Even when her brother dropped out of the program, Long’s desire to join a Boy Scout troop never waned. She tried other programs, such as the Girl Scouts of the USA, but found that they were not the right fit. To stay with BSA, Long joined the organization’s co-ed Venturing program when she was 14 years old. Now, as an official BSA scout, Long’s khaki uniform contains more than a dozen colorful patches featuring the activities she was not allowed to earn badges for in her younger years. “I just found more “I’ve always passion in [BSA] mostly because I spent so much been into the time here,” she said. outdoors. I grew “The program has been up in the country, around so long, and they are going to make such with the woods, great changes.” playing outside. To achieve her ultimate goal of becoming an Eventually, your Eagle Scout, Long own acres become must complete all small, and you requirements — which include earning at need to explore least 21 merit badges, more.” leading a service project, serving in a position of EMILY LONG responsibility and living by “Scout Spirit” — by Feb. 1, 2021. However, Long is hoping to complete her requirements much sooner than that. If she finishes her requirements by Oct. 1, she will be able to be a member of the first class of female Eagle Scouts in history. “That is definitely the goal, and so far, the timeline says that I can,” Long said, a slightly nervous laugh sneaking into her usually confident voice. Since the first day she was able to become a member of BSA, Long has been working to achieve her goal of becoming one of the first female Eagle Scouts. Initially, she served as the patrol leader for a girls’ troop in Valparaiso, Indiana, driving hours each week to meet with her troop, spending time before and after school working on merit badges and camping most weekends — all to ensure that she stayed on track to make her timeline. Now, she is a “lone scout,” a scout that operates without a troop, and keeps busy by brainstorming different ideas for her Eagle Scout service project. So far, she has floated several ideas from extending a boardwalk in Buchanan to organizing a community cleanup. “Obviously, it would mean a lot to me to be in that first group,” Long said. “I think, to younger me, it would mean a lot. Back then, I didn’t know if this was even possible. Physically, I knew it was possible, but it was not [possible] to go through the program all the way and get recognized and actually earn everything.”

BECOMING A ROLE MODEL When Long tells people she is a female member of BSA, she tends to get one of two reactions. Either she is met with admiration and congratulations or she is met with anger and

58

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

ridicule. For the most part, Long said she lets the feedback roll off her back, but she does enjoy the more positive comments as they help keep her spirits up when she receives a negative reaction. “It’s different because not many [girls] are doing it and not that many people understand it,” Long said. One person who is proud of Long for following her dream, no matter how impossible it seemed for so many years, is her mother, Kate Long, of Buchanan. “I am very proud of her progress in the last year. She is right on track to be in the very first group of women Eagle Scouts, which is a very exciting accomplishment and something she can keep on her resume forever,” Kate said. While Long said she finds it strange to call herself a role model, her mother sees the title as deserved, saying she hopes that other young girls will see the payoff Long earned after

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

pursuing her “impossible dream.” “I hope that girls learn about what Emily is doing and know that there is more out there for them than the stereotypical things,” Kate said. “They can do these types of activities and succeed and be just as good as the boys.” As she continues her quest to become one of the first-ever female Eagle Scouts, Long knows that eyes will be on her. Some might be approving. Some might be disapproving, but some might just be girls like her younger self, who see joining a traditionally male-oriented group as an impossible task. Long said she hopes seeing her and other girls go through the BSA program might encourage others also to pursue it if it is a program that fits their personality, interests and goals. “You just have to keep at it. It’s not going to happen if you don’t try,” she said. “Sometimes, things might get slower for a while, but it doesn’t go away.”


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

59


BUDDING INDUSTRY Marijuana businesses brace for changes, a bright future STORY BEAU BROCKETT JR. PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI & BEAU BROCKETT JR.

O

n a chilly November morning, George Lynch sits on a camping chair in the bones of an auto care center. Behind him are wooden beams, which will become the foundation for future rooms. Sometime in 2020, they will house a compliance office, a secure transport station and a display case of marijuana paraphernalia. A remnant vehicle lift station will soon become a basement stairway leading to more marijuana products. On the other side of town sits another former business, Simplicity Pattern Company, in a defunct industrial neighborhood. Soon, Lynch will stand inside the building, overseeing not textile equipment, but marijuana plants. Lynch is the co-owner of Green Stem, LLC, a medical marijuana growing, processing and provisioning business. The places his business inhabits are the remains of Niles’ former industry. Green Stem, Lynch said, is in the business sector in the herald of the new. That is, as long as the budding industry can adjust to plant growth concerns and unwavering opinions on the drug.

60

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Denise and George Lynch are the owners of Green Stem, LLC, which is soon to open on S. 11th Street in Niles.


INVESTMENTS INTO BURGEONING FUTURE In 2008, Michigan became the 11th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. In 2018, it became the eighth state to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older without needing a doctor’s approval. Niles was one of the first municipalities in Michigan to embrace adult-use ­— or recreational — marijuana, opting in to allow related businesses in October 2019. The decision came as medical marijuana businesses were taking steps to open in town, many hoping to eventually take advantage of the city’s new laws. Some city council shared their excitement marijuana businesses provided Niles during numerous council meetings. They cited more tax revenue, more local employment and economic development on formerly defunct industrial space as perks. “I believe we have more to benefit by opting in and making it more commercially available, more affordable, and hopefully discouraging the home growers and that material, which I think would be more likely to get out on the street in the black market,” said councilmember John DiCostanzo the night he cast his vote. “If they really want it, they’re going to get it, legal or illegal,” councilmember Charlie McAfee said about adult-use users. “I would feel better to have it legally … rather than the back doorway.” On Jan. 23, The ReLeaf Center became the first Niles business to grow, process and sell marijuana after months of licensure approval, plan approval and building renovations. Lynch, a former Pandora Music executive, said he has invested millions of dollars and many months in his own project to eventually grow, process, provision and transport marijuana with his wife, Jane, an

About 50 people wait in line outside of The ReLeaf Center in Niles’ industrial park Jan. 23 for adult-use marijuana sales to begin. The ReLeaf Center became the first business in Niles to sell recreational marijuana products.

Carly Ghezzi, marketing director, and Michael Galetka, co-owner of the ReLeaf Center, high five the business' mascot, Herbie Hash.

interior designer, and his children. They have all relocated to Niles, bringing more employees from other states with them. They are hoping to employ many locals into what Lynch said will be well-paying jobs, too. The Lynches said they spent hours poring over the viability of their venture, the specifics of marijuana laws locally and statewide, and the municipalities most willing to listen to a marijuana entrepreneur’s proposition. On Jane’s work desk, where her self-designed layout of Green Stem is

sprawled, sits an open code compliance book lit up by highlighter lines. Lynch said Niles, with its helpful city staff, ideal industrial space and proximity to major Midwest cities, could be a hub of the Michigan marijuana industry. Green Stem could be at its core. That is if all goes according to plan. “We’re very anxious to get this thing going and get up and running because we think we [have] got a lot to offer,” he said, hands in his Pandora varsity jacket pockets.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

61


WITH ANTICIPATION COMES ISSUES Lynch’s anxiety is both nervous excitement and worry. He is excited to provide a safe, tested product to people, whether for medicinal or recreational use. He is worried, however, that current realities across Michigan could pose challenges not only to his business, but the industry in general. He thinks the adult-use recreational market is coming too quickly. In summer 2019, the state of Michigan surprised many by announcing it would open up adult-use marijuana licenses and sales in December. When sales began, few businesses had proper licensing. If anything, that helped the larger marijuana industry. There were not enough plants being grown to supply non-medical buyers, Lynch said. The industry’s growers were used to about 300,000 medical patients. Many did not yet have the approval to grow for non-medicinal use. Yet, the first week of sales Dec. 1 to 8 totaled $1.63 million, according to the Detroit Free Press. The five shops open tended to run low on their limited supply of goods quickly. According to the Michigan House Fiscal Agency, once the adult-use market is fully established after 2020, annual sales could near $950 million. While not official, Lynch shared his insights on the potential the market has from being in the market itself. “The word on the street is that it’s going to be more like 3 million, 3 million regular adult-use customers, and that doesn’t include the 25 million that come up here between Memorial Day and Labor Day for vacations,” Lynch said. “The volume of sales for recreational adult-use is going to be astronomical.” In November 2019, though, Lynch was not too worried about this prospect for his own business. Instead, he was worried about banking. Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association in Lansing, said banks have to comply by federal laws, which still prohibit the sale of marijuana products. That, along with the still-taboo nature of marijuana as a detrimental drug, has made it difficult for many marijuana businesses to find someone to create an account or take out a loan with. Without a bank, businesses would have to resort to a cashonly enterprise, storing their money in their own personal safes. “When we first launched, most of our members didn’t even have a bank to house their money,” Schneider said. “We’ve been very successful at working with banks and carrying them with our members geographically around the state.” Schneider said her association has been working hard to provide resources to its members, including human resource assistance, best manufacturing practices, regulatory compliance and insurance information. Good banks and resources will be important for entrepreneurs in business types introduced with adult-use rules in summer

62

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

Nick Modica is the General Manager of Zen Leaf, a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Buchanan.

2019. These include microbusinesses, event organizers and designated consumption centers. These business types will need less capital and thus be more accessible to less wealthy entrepreneurs. Niles was also one of 19 cities in the state whose state license applicants can receive discounts for minimum fiveyear residents, especially those who have prior marijuana convictions. It remains to be seen whether Niles will approve any lowercapital entrepreneurs. As of now, many of those approved through the medical marijuana process have large amounts of capital, some in the millions. “What I always say to our members is, ‘You absolutely cannot enter into this industry without paying homage to the social justice industry that got us here,”’ Schneider said. “So, our members are very conscientious of supporting reforms such as expungement, and we’re happy that our members are helping to fund some of that work.” PRODUCING THE BEST PRODUCT Despite tough business realities to work through — product levels, banking, inclusivity — Lynch and Schneider both said the state and city has done a great job at regulating marijuana businesses to ensure safety, quality and care. Lynch said Green Stem prides itself on its level of safety and security. At Niles City Council meetings, the Lynches often spoke about the dangers of chemicals from self-growers, unregulated business and gas station vape products. A 15-minute drive northwest from Green Stem is another

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

medical marijuana company that values safety and security: Zen Leaf. The Buchanan medical marijuana provisioner opened its doors in May 2019 at 259 W. Front St., the first in the area to do so. Like Green Stem, Zen Leaf found an accommodating community and a great opportunity in a southwest Michigan city, said marketing and public relations employee David Spreckman. The business values safety and security because Zen Leaf runs as a branch of healthcare, Spreckman said. Its employees work as collaborative consultants to ensure their patients receive the best-suited product for their ailments. “We don’t push products,” he said. “We try to push solutions to people’s problems.” Spreckman said that business is strong. People come from nearly 50 miles away. While the Zen Leaf employee could not say whether his business would seek an adult-use license like Green Stem plans to, the business may be unable to anyways. Buchanan has not made operating adult-use businesses legal. Lynch estimates that about 25 percent of his revenue will come from medical card holders if Green Stem receives an adult-use license. It cannot survive without it, he said. As for Zen Leaf? Spreckman did not seem concerned. “It doesn’t change our approach,” he said. “We’ll always treat every person with the same level of care, whether they’re a patient or an adult.” Like all other marijuana businesses, Zen Leaf will have to wait to find out its future.


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

63


64

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


future FUNDING THE

Cass Kickstart to Careers helps students start saving STORY HANNAH HOLLIDAY | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

W

ith three piggy banks already filled up at home, and more than $150 in savings, Vin Borsa, a Sam Adams Elementary student, is no stranger to saving. Now, he has a fourth piggy bank made of green plastic with the Cass Kickstart to Careers logo on the side. This piggy bank sits safely locked away in his teacher, Morgan First’s, cabinet, ready to be filled with money. The money in his school-specific piggy bank will not be spent on Borsa’s routine candy purchases, but instead will be used for his future education. In a technology centered world where online banking and fewer face-to-face interactions with bank tellers are becoming the norm, Cass Kickstart to Careers is reinvigorating the tried and true piggy bank method. Cass Kickstart to Careers, a children’s savings account program, is in its first year at Cassopolis Public Schools. All kindergarten students attending Sam Adams Elementary were gifted a child savings account with $25 already deposited. The interestbearing accounts were opened at Circle Credit Union, which also gifted students their own personal green

piggy bank with each child’s name on the front. As Borsa held his piggy bank in his hands, he talked of trips to the bank with his mother and doing chores for money. He hopes to have $150 saved in his green piggy bank when he graduates. WHERE IT ALL BEGAN Ruth Andrews, a Cassopolis resident, artist and activist, had been researching CSAs in 2019. She reached out to Becky Moore, a trustee at Southwestern Michigan College. Moore found that the problems Andrews was trying to solve already had available solutions at the college. Andrews continued looking for areas of need and suggested the CSAs be started for Cassopolis’ future. Eight Cassopolis residents formed the Cass Kickstart committee. These residents, including Andrews, were involved in numerous organizations that support the community. The members sought help from Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, which recently set up similar CSAs at Buchanan Community Schools.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

65


By working closely with Rob Habicht, the president and CEO of the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, the Cass Kickstart committee was able to bring its vision to life. “We care about this community, and we want it to thrive,” said committee member Margie Yarger. “This is our hometown. We are trying to build up our hometown and help the kids by giving them opportunities that maybe they didn’t have before.” Committee member Jim Ward reflected on his own childhood experiences and how it impacted him to get involved. He remembers his mother taking him to the bank and opening up an account. He received a contraption similar to a piggy bank, that was locked and contained a chute for pennies and quarters and another for dollars. He could open it up and take it to the bank every once in a while. “Maybe it's because we had these experiences as kids that we are trying to help kids who have not,” Ward said. GETTING EVERYBODY ON BOARD To get the CSA program rolling, it was a priority for the Kickstart committee to develop relationships with the Cassopolis Public Schools superintendent, school board and teachers. Kelly Gustafson, who is in her second year of teaching kindergarten at Sam Adams Elementary, described the excitement on her students’ faces as they put their coins and dollars into their piggy banks. When the program was first implemented, Gustafson had students bringing in a few pennies daily. It became a ritual of sorts — she would walk to a locked cupboard, get out a child’s piggy bank and watch them deposit their coins. The teachers have unanimously decided to make the first Friday of every month a day dedicated to making deposits into the piggy banks. Earlier this year, they sent home red envelopes with their students asking parents to send back change. They received quite the response.

66

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

“The parents are definitely buying into it,” Gustafson said. “I already have kids bringing in money just designated for that. The parents are supporting the kids by telling them, ‘You are going to go to college or you are going to go to trade school, and that’s why you need this money put away.’” Gustafson, who is still paying off her own student loans, is excited for her son to start kindergarten next year and to start saving. “That takes a load off,” she said. “True, most of the money is going to be coming from me, but it’s in such small amounts that I won’t be missing it anyway. In the end, it’s going to be, ‘Woohoo!’ He has this money sitting in the bank waiting for him, ready to go.” By working in collaboration with the school board, teachers are also brainstorming ways to implement a rewards program. On a monthly basis, a golden ticket winner is selected, which could be an opportunity for a financial reward, said Corey Sheet, another kindergarten teacher at Sam Adams Elementary. While kindergartners may not understand the concept of five pennies being worth less than a quarter, students are grasping the concept of saving. Already, First has witnessed her students putting extra money in their piggy banks instead of spending it on trinkets in the Ranger Shop, which is similar to a school store. The committee hopes as the program grows, the next set of teachers will meet the program with similar enthusiasm. The kindergarten teachers hope the children will remain excited as they get older. “I hope it continues, and it’s something that continually gets community support, just to show the kids that there is interest in them outside of the school and value in them,” Sheet said. MINDSET OVER THE MONEY For the Cass Kickstart Committee, the initial balance of $25 is helpful but not the sole purpose of the program.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

Instead, the program is about the thought process behind it. “You are training the families and children that there is opportunity beyond high school,” Yarger said. “It’s about the mindset more than the actual dollar amount.” It is teaching an “I can do it” philosophy that some Cassopolis students and families may not have, Ward said. While the program does offer opt-out options, the committee has not received requests from anyone to do so. Any student who comes to Cassopolis Public Schools as a kindergartener will also receive a children’s savings account. If a child’s family decides to move away from the school district, the account will stay open. While the program will discontinue adding to the account, it will remain open for families and students to continue to contribute. BUILDING THE FUTURE As the Cass Kickstart Committee continues in its infancy of the program, it is making a 13-year commitment to grow and stabilize its funding needs. The committee is looking for endowments to help support its cause. As students age, incentives and rewards will need to change to remain appropriate. For example, a fourthgrade student may get rewarded for good grades and being involved in extracurricular activities, Ward said. The committee also wants to bring in guest speakers to broaden career exploration and present a long list of careers students could one day choose. “When you are a child in grade school, you either want to be a teacher, a nurse or a fireman, because those are the only other people you ever relate to or see,” Moore said. With ther plastic piggy bank in her hands, Morgan Stoops, a kindergartner at Sam Adams Elementary, said she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up because she liked to hold animals. At that moment, in her hands, she held her Cass Kickstart to careers piggy bank, but in the future, who knows what animal it could be?


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

67


YMCA OF GREATER MICHIANA 3 facilities Your Y family has grown to include Rivers, MI and beautiful Camp Eberhart in Three

THE Y IS HERE FOR FAMILIES Fitness Classes Child Care Swim Lessons Summer Camps

Sport Leagues Family Events Preschool Volunteering

Learn more at www.ymcagm.org

68

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


NEW

beginnings

Chelsea Schoetzow, peer recovery coach, chats with Chief Judge Sue Dobrich at the Cass County Courthouse.

Cass County treatment courts committed to treating the ‘whole person’ STORY SARAH CULTON PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

W

ith a swipe of a key card, Dowagiac resident Preston Collett, 47, can access almost any room inside the Cass County Law and Courts Building. “This still feels strange,” he said as a courtroom unlocked with a click. “I have access now. Isn’t that crazy?” Several years ago, Collett stood on the opposite side of the judge’s stand in that same courtroom as a criminal. As a former meth user, he has spent time in both Cass County Jail and state prison during times he was in active addiction. However, today, Collett walks the halls of the courthouse, 60296 M-62, Cassopolis, on the other side of the law. As a case manager for Cass County’s treatment courts, he works to help those who have been in his past shoes get sober and put their lives back on track. “Basically, I went through the program, went back to school, and now I’m the case manager,” Collett said proudly. “I never would have thought in those years that I would be here today. But here I am. It’s just been amazing.”

Cass County treatment courts serve as an intervention to the traditional justice system that works with clients in specialized programs aimed toward recovery and, in the case of family treatment court, the reunification of families. These courts are specially designed to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent offenders and to increase the offenders’ likelihood of successful habilitation through early, continuous and intensely supervised treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing and the use of appropriate sanctions, according to the state of Michigan. To those who run them, Cass County’s treatment courts serve a vital role in the community by focusing on rehabilitation instead of punishment to save lives and reunite families. “The purpose of treatment courts is to work with participants in a way that is treatment driven to meet their needs and the needs of the community,” said Chief Judge Susan Dobrich. “We make sure we have a full continuum of care.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

69


Bob Weber, Director of Substance Abuse Disorder Services for Woodlands Behavioral Health LOOKING AT THE WHOLE PERSON Cass County’s treatment court system — which includes drug court; family treatment court, aimed toward family reunification by working with both parent and child; swift and sure probation; and mental health court — got its start in the early 2000s. The project was led by Dobrich and adult treatment coordinator Barbara Howes, both of whom see the need for treatment courts in the community. “The regular system doesn’t do as well because they think they can punish people to get them to change,” Dobrich said. “If you don’t address the reasons they were there in the first place, they can come back.” Before entering into treatment court, an individual must complete a risk assessment and an assessment of the level of treatment needed. Though it may seem strange, treatment courts seek participants who have a high risk of reoffending, as studies show those are the people who benefit from the program the most. “You are looking for people who have been through the system, had regular probation or had regular treatment, but they are still struggling,” Howes said. “We are looking for people who are high risk, high need.” Unlike regular courts, treatment courts rely on a high level of supervision and programming to help give individuals the tools they need to turn their

70

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

Preston Collett, Case manager

lives around. Someone going through treatment court might encounter programs related to housing, education, money management, trauma counseling, parenting and more. “We look at the whole person,” Dobrich said. “When people come to us, addiction is just one presenting issue, but after a period of time, we find out they don’t have a job or the education to get the type of job they should have. They have trauma in their background that has gone untreated, and they use substances to self-medicate, and they don’t have transportation or a home. Those are all things we are looking at.” To help meet all the needs of a patient, every Wednesday morning, a group of representatives from across Cass County meets inside of a small conference room located in the back of the courthouse. The meetings include individuals ranging from prosecutors, children’s attorneys, community corrections, mental health and addiction specialists, defense attorneys and representatives with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, to name a few. Leading the weekly meetings is Clarence James, coordinator of family treatment court. “We all have a common goal, which is to provide the best services to the people we work with,” James said. “Sometimes, we have to put things aside, and we are willing to do that for the good of our participants. We

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

do everything by a team approach.” Calling his work his passion, James said he believes in the power of treatment courts to help individuals and families, adding he personally has seen the process save lives. “Family treatment court really allows parents to build a rapport with the judge,” James said. “It gives them the support they need to really succeed.” PEER TO PEER SUPPORT Nine years ago, in December, Chelsea Schoetzow, 43, of Jones, came home to an empty nursery. She had just given birth to her second child, and she had prepared her home in anticipation of her new son the way any mother would, with a crib and toys laid out. However, as Schoetzow was a 20-year drug user, both of her children had been removed from her care and placed into a foster home almost immediately after she had given birth. Though Schoetzow describes the moment as her lowest — a moment when everything felt lost to her — it was also the moment that caused her to turn her life around. “I went outside, and it was snowing, and it was cold, and everything was hopeless,” she said. “I just cried out to God, somebody I didn’t know. After that, like the next day, I was led to a church.”


Chelsea Schoetzow, peer recovery coach

Looking back at that moment, Schoetzow said she believes it was God and her newfound faith that led her to Cass County’s family treatment court program and allowed her to trust the process. Today, she is nine years clean, married, has full custody of her children and has served for five years as a full-time peer recovery coach for family treatment court. She said the program changed her life. “[Treatment court] was the only way I made it,” she said. “They surround you. They support you. They do everything for you. They love you until you can love yourself. I think if I hadn’t done family treatment court, I probably wouldn’t have my kids back, and I probably would have still used.” As a peer recovery coach, Schoetzow facilitates groups and meets with clients one on one, working with them to discuss how they are feeling and offer support. “I’m a person who is in long-term recovery, and that is what causes me to be a peer support. It gives me that unique, special look into the lives of the people we work with,” she said. “I have a really good perspective. I know exactly what they are going through at this moment. I know that it is difficult. I know it is hard to listen to the rules, but I also understand that they can do it, even when they think they can’t.”

Clarence James, Family Treatment Court coordinator

Dobrich said employing peer recovery coaches like Schoetzow is a crucial component to the program’s success, as it allows participants to work with someone they can relate to. “There is a huge distrust in the very beginning,” she said. “It takes a while to build that trust, and a peer support bridges that right away. They are more likely to talk to someone like Chelsea or Preston because they have been in their shoes.” Before becoming a case manager, Collett also served as a peer recovery coach for the program. In that role, he was able to relate to clients by sharing his story of relapsing in 2012, which led him to family treatment court with his then partner. He said his journey through treatment court allowed him to be a better person and father to his son, which is what he wants for every client that he now sees come through the program. “[Family treatment court] made me a totally different person,” he said. “They give you the tools back again to take back your life. It allowed me to blossom into who I was meant to be.” BEYOND THE COURTROOM Once someone graduates from treatment court, their journey does not end. Overcoming addiction is a life-long process, and the need for supports does

not end when someone leaves the program, which is why the overall goal is to teach individuals coping strategies and give them the resources to continue with their recovery beyond the courtroom. “We stress that this is a lifelong commitment,” Howes said. “Addiction is a chronic disease. So, if they don’t manage the disease of addiction, it will manage you. It’s like diabetes. If you don’t manage it, there are consequences. … We teach people to connect, and the ones that connect, they don’t come back [into the system]. Even if they had an issue, they know where to find the resources.” While some who go through the program do stumble, the program has many success stories, which is what Howes, Dobrich and James all said pushes them to continue their work. In the future, both Dobrich and Howes said they would like to see the treatment court program do even more than it has to serve more populations of people within the county. Until then, they hope to see more success stories like Collett’s and Schoetzow’s. In fact, Dobrich said the day she gave Collett a key to the courthouse was one of the proudest of her time working in the treatment court program. “It’s hard work. It’s a lot of above and beyond,” she said. “But it is meaningful.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

71


72

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


A healthy

community New Cassopolis Family Clinic Network facility promises a brighter future for healthcare STORY SARAH CULTON | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

T

he weeks leading up to November 2019, a buzz of busy energy pushed the staff and administrators at the Cassopolis Family Clinic Network, headquartered in Cassopolis. However, with the snip of a bright red ribbon on Nov. 15, 2019, CFCN’s staff could breathe a sigh of relief. After more than 14 months of planning, CFCN opened its new Niles Community Health Center and ushered in a new era of healthcare in Cass and southeast Berrien counties. With the potential to double the number of CFCN’s Niles-area patients, the $9.2 million, 31,500-square-foot facility includes 26 exam rooms, a drive-through pharmacy for patients, gynecology and obstetrics services. Behavioral health services are also available and include psychiatry and

substance abuse treatment. “We’ve been planning this for so long, and now, we see it come to fruition,” said Chief Executive Officer Mary Geegan Middleton. CFCN is an independent, Federally Qualified Health Center. In addition to the new Niles Community Health Center, CFCN operates the Cassopolis Family Clinic in Cassopolis, a dental facility in Niles and a Ranger Wellness Center at Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School. In 2018 alone, CFCN served 12,769 patients during 49,917 different patient visits. Of those patients, 84 percent were low income, 17.8 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority, 3.4 percent were homeless and 3 percent were veterans, according to data provided by Capital Link.

Over the course of the year, 2,895 of CFCN’s patients were children or adolescents. According to Middleton, the majority of CFCN’s patients are considered vulnerable populations, meaning that they are hard to reach and, in many cases, do not have access to healthcare. “We are a safety-net provider in the community,” Middleton said. “With our programs, people are able to access healthcare at a price they can afford.” With the opening of the new Niles Community Health Center, CFCN can serve more vulnerable patients than ever before, which Middleton said will make for a brighter future — not only for CFCN but for the greater Cass County and Berrien County community.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

73


Mary Middleton is the CEO for the Cass Family Clinic Network.

LOOKING BACK To understand the future of CFCN, Middleton said one must look at its past. CFCN got its start in 1958 when a group of Cassopolis business leaders came together to make their vision of having a community medical practice a reality. In 1964, a full-time medical practice was established by doctors Aaron Warren and Lowell Smith. Due to the large number of patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid and poor reimbursement, the clinic became a certified rural health clinic in 1992. One year later, Lakeland Healthcare purchased the clinic, and under Lakeland’s stewardship, the Cassopolis Family Clinic became a federally qualified health center look-alike in 2005. In 2007, under then-president George Bush’s initiative to establish a community health center in every high poverty county in the U.S., CFCN applied for and was granted a community health center designation. In 2008, CFCN became autonomous from Lakeland Healthcare. CFCN expanded its care out of Cassopolis and into Niles in 2007, providing obstetrical and gynecological services for under-served women in Cass and southeast Berrien counties at a new location at 60 N. St. Joseph Ave., Niles. In 2014, CFCN opened the original Niles Community Health Center, located at 24 N. St. Joseph Ave., Suite G., after receiving a grant to provide $650,000 in federal funds annually to support primary care for medically underserved patients in southeast Berrien County. It would add dental services to Niles in 2015 at a location on Grant Street. “We’ve been in steady growth mode for the last 10 years,” Middleton said. “We started when the Affordable Care Act was passed, and there was talk of Medicaid expansion and affordable insurances. We knew that

74

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

the little office we used to have in Cassopolis, even in this community, wouldn’t allow us to serve enough. More people were going to have access [to healthcare], but you only have access if you have somewhere to go. … We knew when we opened the Niles Community Health Center that we would eventually have to move to support the need.” Until the opening of the new Niles Community Health Center, the most significant moment in CFCN history was likely the opening of its $7 million, 30,000-squarefoot Cassopolis medical facility, 261 M-51 N. “That was a major move for healthcare in Cass County,” Middleton recalled. “The old facility was old; it was not well designed; it had been added on to several times. People thought of it as the poor people’s clinic. When we moved here, and it was a very nice facility with many different services, it became acceptable to everyone.” LOOKING AHEAD Now, Middleton is hoping to see the same thing that happened in Cassopolis happen in Niles. “We are hoping that instead of the clinic we [had], the little, tiny clinic that hardly anyone knew about, people will see this big, beautiful facility on Oak Street, and they will say, ‘What is that?’” Middleton said. “We hope that people who don’t have healthcare, the people who go to the emergency room when they are sick, will be able to come there and get healthcare on a routine basis. Just as we were accepted in [the Cassopolis] community, we hope we will be a beacon of hope to people who are looking for medical care.” In the past four years, CFCN has seen 39.6 percent patient growth, and administrators believe that number is only set to increase with the opening of the new Niles Community Health Center.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

“We will blossom as we open this new facility in Niles, and it will allow us to care for another 3,000 or 4,000 people,” Middleton said. “By having this new facility, we are able to increase the size of our medical staff and then have more appointments to offer to more people. We can improve healthcare in this area.” Middleton is not the only one who believes CFCN’s expansion will benefit the greater Niles community and better serve vulnerable populations. Two leaders in areas impacted by the facility, Cass County Administrator Jeff Carmen and Niles Township Supervisor Jim Stover, said they believe in the work CFCN is doing and have faith that the new facility will benefit the areas they serve. “The Cass Family Clinic is a great community partner that serves a vital role in the community,” Carmen said. “I think the new facility is fantastic, and [I] can’t wait to see the good that I know it will do.” “The facility is very large, very attractive,” Stover added. “Needless to say, we are very excited about it in the township.” After 10 years of constant growth, Middleton said CFCN is taking a breather after the opening of the new Niles Community Health Center, taking the time to see it grow before planning any other big projects. However, she knows that the nature of health care is always changing. She said that no matter what happens in the future with healthcare or the Affordable Care Act, CFCN would remain dedicated to its mission — to provide compassionate healthcare to those in the communities that it serves. “Who knows what’s next? We just have to see, because, unfortunately, my crystal ball doesn’t work too well,” Middleton said with a laugh. “We just have to be open to the needs of the community and see if that fits with your mission and what you are able to accomplish.”


Where Compassionate Care and Community Meet THE EDWARDSBURG AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The Cass County Medical Care Facility will provide to our community of care the highest possible quality of life through compassionate care, exceptional skilled nursing and rehabilitation services regardless of ability to pay.

Unite. Engage. Grow. Thrive. Advocating for Edwardsburg’s business community since 2005 We unite business and individuals towards the common goal of having a happy, healthy, and economically prosperous place to live, work, and play. We engage business leaders as community leaders, mentors, and role models. We help grow local businesses by providing resources and opportunities for networking and learning. We know that by working together, we all can thrive. edwardsburgchamber.org • (574) 343-3721

26225 US Hwy 12, PO Box 575, Edwardsburg, MI 49112

Nursing Care

Since its inception nearly 90 years ago, the Cass County Medical Care Facility has enjoyed a reputation of excellence in care and is the facility of choice in Southwestern Michigan. Come out to CCMCF and experience our loving and caring family.

Rehab Services

We have Physical and Occupational Therapists available seven days a week, including home visits in preparation for discharge. Residents may benefit from attending physical, occupational, or speech therapy to improve their quality of life.

Different is better

As a not-for-profit government health care facility, we view our mission differently than a private nursing facility. Our mission is quite simple. Our “profits” are invested in our resident’s care…day by day, week by week, month by month. As a result, our staffing levels of nurses, aides and support staff are higher than most nursing homes in the country. This allows us to provide more personalized time with each resident.

23770 Hospital Street Cassopolis, MI 49031 • 269-445-3801 casscountymedicalcarefacility.org

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

75


76

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


GIRL ONLINE

Niles resident uses social media to connect, create community STORY SARAH CULTON | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI/PROVIDED

O

n Jan. 24, Niles-based fitness coach Frances Shavers did something she had never done before. She sat in her bathroom, took off her wig and snapped a photo. Roughly six weeks before, she had received a stem cell treatment, and ever since, she said she was working to “get up and make the most out of whatever the day brings.” That day, making the most out of things meant hitting the post button on her phone and sharing a photo of her wigless with thousands of people across the world. “I wanted people to know I was growing my hair out, and it was funny to me,” Shavers, 52, said with a laugh. “It was kind of a way for me to offer something more real to social media and something important to me.” With nearly 8,000 Instagram followers and more than 2,500 Facebook friends, social media is a regular part of Shavers’ life. She uses her online platform to both grow her fitness coach business and to share her journey as a woman living with multiple sclerosis and trigeminal neuralgia, both of which leave her with chronic, debilitating pain. As of 2019, Facebook alone had 2.4 billion users worldwide. While many have criticized the rise of social media usage, for Shavers, it has been a blessing, allowing her to create a community surrounding health and to raise awareness surrounding her rare conditions. “When I was first diagnosed, I felt so alone, and for a long time, I was trying to hide my condition,” Shavers recalled as she sat at her dining room table, her service dog, Hannah, never straying far from her side. “Eventually, I decided this is who I am. This is it, and I don’t want other people who may be going through this to feel the same way that I felt. I decided to tell my story to help someone else live their story.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

77


FINDING A MARKET Shavers has always been described as determined. It was determination that got her through her undergrad at the University of Notre Dame and master’s and doctorate programs at Harvard University. She met her husband of six years, George, after determining she was ready for a life partner and asking a friend to set her up on a blind date. So, when she had to leave her job at Notre Dame due to her TN and MS, she was still determined to work, which is how she ended up in the fitness coach field. “When I got sick, I had to leave my job, and I can’t drive. I had to figure out what I could do from home,” she recalled. “I might not have been able to do X, Y, Z anymore, but I needed to figure out something I could do in my new life, my new reality. That’s how I came to fitness coaching because I can do it largely at home, and it speaks clearly to something that I love and believe in.” As a fitness coach, Shavers meets with clients and discusses their fitness goals before preparing a workout regimen for them geared to their fitness level and aspirations. As her clients begin their fitness journey, Shavers will check in with them to see how they are doing, offer encouragement and make adjustments where needed. Though she worked in higher education for more than 20 years, Shavers always considered fitness to be her “side hustle.” So when she needed to make a change due to her health, fitness seemed like the right fit for her. “With a fitness coach, you are not alone. There is someone there with you for the express purpose of supporting you,” Shavers said, explaining the benefits of using a fitness coach. “It’s also a lot more fun this way and, hopefully, helps you get to your goals faster and easier.” It was because of her business that she was drawn to social media, as she used Instagram and Facebook to promote and advertise her business. “Social media empowers the business owner to do something on there that seems accessible,” she said. “You can just go online and share your product with the world.” It would not be until later that her social media presence would grow and evolve into what it is today — a community where she shares her struggles and triumphs, primarily surrounding her health, and helps others feel less alone. “I deliberately set out to grow my business, and then it just sort of happened,” Shavers said. “Now, I post a lot of things that have nothing to do with my business. I share my joys and my struggles and my life.” CREATING A COMMUNITY In 2010, Shavers was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of the nerves, and trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition affecting the trigeminal nerve in the face. The symptoms of her TN come in the form of sharp, stabbing pains that shoot through her head and last up to 30 seconds. Once a TN attack begins, the shocks come in two-minute intervals and can last for hours. TN has been nicknamed “the suicide disease” as patients sometimes kill themselves to end their suffering, according to the Duke University School of Medicine. Since her diagnosis, Shavers has undergone six brain surgeries and traveled the world seeking treatments for her TN. However, so far, no treatment has had a significant, lasting effect, and with fewer than 20,000 cases per year, Shavers began to feel alone in her condition.

“It’s not a headache; it’s not a migraine. It’s more like an electric shock,” Shavers said, as she held her head to the side, hoping to ward off an oncoming attack. “It’s affected every area of my life in some way or another. They can come just out of the blue. We don’t know when they will happen.” When Shavers makes a post on Facebook or Instagram, she tries not to shy away from her painful reality. While Shavers considers herself a positive person and her feed is filled with cute anniversary posts with her husband and smiling pictures of her enjoying herself post-workout, she believes it is essential to be fully genuine online, which to her, means sharing her vulnerabilities and rough days. Saying she likes to leave all her emotions on the table, there is no topic that she will not discuss on social media. Shavers said it was her willingness to be vulnerable online that helped her to create the community of positive users on her profiles. Ever since she began sharing her health story on social media, she has received an outpouring of support from people across the world. “It’s very touching to have that support,” Shaver said, holding back tears. “I don’t get to respond to all the comments, but I read each one of them, and I’m very grateful.” As both a social media follower and personal friend of Shavers’, Charmelle Greene said the person Shavers is online is identical to the person she is in real life. “She is such a genuine person, and I believe her situation allows her to open up in a way she hasn’t in the past,” Greene, who previously worked at Notre Dame with Shavers, said. “What I see [online] is exactly who Frances is. I just think that she developed her voice in a way that connects with so many people on a deeper level.” Even if she was not close, personal friends with Shavers, Greene said she would be inspired by her story and the way she shares it online. In fact, Greene believes Shavers could encourage anyone. Her belief was borne out when she organized a Go Fund Me to raise $35,000 to get Shavers stem cell treatments. The goal was exceeded by more than $6,000 coming from more than 150 donors across the U.S. and beyond. “She is an inspiration, highly intelligent, and she can get you to do anything,” Greene said. “Her influence is so strong; you feel this connection and desire to do more. You feel you can accomplish so much. She motivates people to strive for greatness.” THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA In 2020, Shavers has two goals: to get healthy and to grow the social media community that has been so supportive of her. While she has to leave her neurological health in the hands of doctors, Shavers is currently brainstorming ways to make her second goal a reality. She hopes that through social media, she can encourage others to share their stories of personal struggles. “Anyone who says I inspire them, they inspire me as much if not more,” Shavers said. “I want to create a space where people can come out of the dark and share and not have to feel like they are alone. That’s just something I would really like to do — create a community of support, encouragement, love, compassion, empathy.” Until she can come up with a fully-formed plan of how to implement that, Shavers said she would continue to share her journey on Facebook and Instagram — and eventually, whatever social media platform overtakes those. “Social media is a tool I figure I’ll keep using for a lifetime,” she said.


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

79


We work together to find a

solution

Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network works in partnership with individuals, families and the community to inspire hope, promote resiliency and achieve recovery by providing effective behavioral health services.

960 M-60 East, Cassopolis, Michigan 49031

24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 269-445-2451 or 800-323-0335

www.woodlandsbhn.org | |

80

HORIZONS 2020

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


MEALS ON WHEELS Edwardsburg food wagon among growing trend of mobile businesses STORY SCOTT NOVAK | PHOTOGRAPHY JEN BOUNDS

Lisa Hines is the owner of Keenan's With a Kick.

N

o matter where Edwardsburg resident Lisa Hines has called home, there has been one thing that has been a constant in her life. The love of cooking. That love of cooking has led her to a career in the food truck industry with Keenan’s With A Kick, where she provides authentic Cajun cuisine for her growing number of customers, who are willing to travel wherever she may have the truck set up. Hines is originally from Elkhart, Indiana, but moved Louisiana for a job. She had to come home when her father became ill. He would eventually die of lung cancer, leaving Hines jobless and homeless. She took the only thing she had, a sailboat, to Lake Monroe and lived on it 12 months out of the year. So, where did she get the idea to get into the food industry? It came from a friend of hers, who was her father’s neighbor. She would go there to regroup, and they began talking about opening up a hot dog stand. “We talked about selling hot dogs out of a food truck,” she said. “Dad passed away, and we went our separate ways. I read a book about food concessions to see if it was something I could do. The rest is history.” Hines said she chose a truck over a brick and mortar store for several reasons, the biggest of which was cost. Creating a mobile business also enabled her to start serving food faster than she would have been allowed to if she had bought a storefront.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

81


That choice also follows a national trend. According to “Food Trucker,” a website dedicated to the industry, while restaurants continue to open at a yearly rate of 2 percent, the food truck industry is blowing up to the tune of 7.9 percent over the past five years. There are certainly hurdles that must be cleared just like any other business. Making wise decisions early on can pay big dividends down the road, like what type of food truck an owner wants and can afford. “The reason why I chose a wagon over a truck was if the engine breaks down on your truck, you are not going anywhere,” Hines said. “If my truck breaks down, I can get another one, hook it up to the wagon, and I am back in business.” Keenan’s With A Kick was established in 2003. Hines would later purchase the wagon from a retired neurologist who now lives in Dublin, Ireland. “He probably loved me more than I loved myself,” Hines said. “He is also probably one of the reasons I am still alive. I told him about my little idea and wrote up a proposal and went to him. He helped me start this business.” Once the wagon was secured, Hines shifted focus to perfecting a menu that would offer a different kind of food than most people are accustomed to finding on wheels. “Food trucks that are like mine, because I am more about the flavor and I enjoy coming in and cooking every day, provide people with good food that is fresh,” she said. “Like at fairs, those people do it for the money. There is a lot of preservative stuff there, so that is why I stay away from fairs. I have good food, and I get to cook for people.” Hines believes that television and cooking shows have contributed to the rise of food trucks, and will continue to do so. “For people with the passion, it is low overhead,” she said. “The reason I did it is because my husband and I raised our grandson. He traveled all over the state of Indiana in his playpen while we served up food.” Hines also believes that food trucks have a real future for a couple of reasons. One is that customers get to know the people serving them their food and can interact with them. Then there is the fresh-food element. “People love going to the fairs because they love the food,” she said. “So, it is like having a fair all year long. More and more people are looking to eat healthy. They want to eat more farm to table.” Another key to a successful food truck is adding a twist to dishes. “I am doing my take on a po’ boy,” Hines said. “It is my take on jambalaya. We add all that love into the food. The corporations and fast-food places cannot do that.” Hines said she will continue to take her food on the road. “I love people eating my food,” she said. “For me, being able to do this is a dream come true.”

82

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


We design cabinetry for kitchens, baths, laundry and mud rooms, home entertainment areas, and more! May we design a space for you? We provide in-home measuring, estimates, and delivery - all at no charge to you Call or visit us soon.

15 locations to serve you - Visit our website at BigCLumber.com

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

83


Do it yourself Dowagiac native finds her own path in the new age of publishing

STORY HANNAH HOLLIDAY | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

A

reality hit Sylvia Holloman hard. It was 2005, and she had just finished writing her first romance novel, “Opening Jerred’s Eyes: For to Open His Eyes Would Be to Capture His Heart,” centered around 29-year-old Jerred Turner finally growing up and taking on responsibilities as a father. During his shift into fatherhood, Turner meets Evette Sullivan, but a secret lies behind Sullivan. Holloman had the hard part done — writing the actual novel — or so she thought. Soon enough, she discovered a book publishing deal was not going to be delivered to her on a silver platter. Though she spent countless hours researching agents and sending messages, she received no responses. “Apparently, I was too small,” Holloman said, now sitting next a growing stack of her published works. “I hadn’t written anything before. Nobody knew my name. That’s my take on it. They didn’t really want to be bothered.” If she was going to become a published author and bring her characters to life, she would have to find another way. THROWING TRADITION OUT Modern publishing has shifted, and Holloman is just one of many authors nationwide who have turned to self-publishing. The number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017, according to Bowker’s annual report on the number of international standard book numbers that were issued to self-published authors. Traditionally, authors sought out publishing deals from the “Big 5” trade publishers like HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. Today, sites people use on a regular basis are offering self-publishing services. Amazon has a self-publishing service called Kindle Direct Publishing, which someone can use to create a book in a day if they desired. Barnes and Noble Press and Lulu Press also offer similar e-book self-publishing services.

In 2007, Holloman, 56, of Dowagiac, was still researching her publishing options. KDP had not yet been created, and her spiraling ideas for two new romance novels, “Definition of Pleasure” and “Heart of Stone,” expedited her search process. Both plots in her respective novels included characters from contrasting backgrounds falling in love by fate. Holloman turned to self-publishing firms online and eventually found Publish America. Publishing her first novel is something Holloman considered to be an easy process. It also proved to be extremely personal, as her brother died unexpectedly a few months before her book was published. Holloman dedicated her first novel to her brother, and the publishing company included a photo and write-up. Three of Holloman’s four novels were published through Publish America, which later changed its name to America Star Books. LEARNING THE HARD WAY It was not until 15 years ago that Holloman had intentions of becoming an author. A badly written book is what opened her gateway into authorship. “I loved reading, and I love romance novels,” she said. “I was reading this novel one night, and I finished it. I looked at the back of it and looked at the front of it and thought, ‘That really was not good at all.’ I’m thinking, ‘I paid for that.’” Holloman thought she could do better. Years later, she found herself navigating the misleading information self-publishing companies handed out, including price. “They say this is free, but it really isn’t,” Holloman said, holding up one of her novels. “I had to learn that the hard way.” In 2008, Holloman published her third novel, “Heart of Stone,” through Asta Publications, which offers self-publishing services. Through Asta Publications, Holloman was able to set the price of her own novel, which is not the case at every self-publishing agency.


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

85


Author Sylvia Holloman (center) sits next to Wolverine Mutual coworkers Samantha LaVanway and Nickolas Barnes. LaVanway encouraged Holloman to continue writing and Barnes' signature walk inspired one of Holloman's characters.

“I look at how many pages it is going to be,” Holloman said. “I know Amazon is probably going to take their cut. I have to price it a little higher than normal books that have people with agents who get paid to do it.” By having a comfortable working relationship with her current publisher, Holloman was able to set the price point of her newly published novel, “Open Book,” at the industry’s standard. “I want people to read my books, but I don’t want them to have to think, ‘can I afford to get the book?’” Holloman said. Certain publishers made the publishing process feel like what Holloman calls “a money game.” She suggested authors err on the side of caution when looking at options. “Look into whoever you are dealing with,” she advised. “A lot of them just want your money. They don’t care.” After completing her fourth novel, self-doubt consumed the author. She questioned readers’ opinions and her own abilities. TURNING THE PAGE After publishing her fourth novel, Holloman stayed away from writing, succumbing to self doubt and questioning her talent. “I started saying, ‘well, you are too old to do it anyway,’” Holloman said. “I beat myself up constantly about it. I just stopped.” Holloman owes her writing revival to Samantha LaVanway, her desk neighbor at Wolverine Mutual

86

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

SYLVIA HOLLOMAN’S NOVELS • “Opening Jerred’s Eyes: For to Open His Eyes Would Be to Capture His Heart,” published on Jan. 22, 2007 • “Heart of Stone,” published on March 1, 2008 • “Definition of Pleasjure,” published on March 24, 2008. • “Our Love,” published on Sept. 11, 2012 • “Open Book,” published on Oct. 15, 2019 Insurance Company in Dowagiac. LaVanway, an avid reader, discovered Holloman’s passion for writing and pressured the author to pick the pen back up. Holloman called the pair’s meeting fate. “I think a big reason of why I pushed her so much was because she was always like, ‘nah, I can’t do it,’” LaVanway said. “I hate, ‘I can’t.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, you can.’” In 2019, Holloman finished her most recent novel, “Open Book.” While, she played around with KDP, she resorted back to Asta Publications. Holloman recalls thinking during her selfpublishing process, ‘I should be able to do this. I wrote a book.’ I kept trying to talk myself into it, but at the end of the day, I thought, ‘that’s not how I want to do it,’” Holloman said. “The stress level is down

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

with Asta Publications. A lot of people do use Kindle, and it looks awesome.” MAKING IT REAL Holloman never would have picked up that badly written romance novel if she had not received two books by authors in the mail from a friend in the military. That was more than 22 years ago. She read those books in a day and was hooked. Slowly, she formed a habit of always looking at the back of a book for the author. Now, Holloman holds her own novels, with her photo and a message to her readers on the back, hoping they live through her characters. “I love to write because I want my characters to come to life while you are reading about them,” Holloman said. “I want you to see them in your mind, whatever you think. If you see Clifton, I want you to take the brief description that I give you and build Clifton in your mind. Then I want you to feel what they feel. If they are hurting, I want you to hurt. If they are laughing, I want you to laugh. I want you to feel like they are real to you, because they are real to me. That’s why I do it.” Publishing paths aside, Holloman’s five novels proudly displayed in front of her serve as a testament to her belief that the true payment of any writer lies behind people’s reactions to their work. “I had a man walk into the place I work one day, and he said, ‘Oh my god. I read that book, and you made me cry,’” Holloman said. “That was worth more than a paycheck. Just that statement from that man.”


MEET YOUR WHOLE FAMILY’S VISION NEEDS AT

NILES VISION CLINIC

A MEMBER OF

Experience the very best life has to offer with: • Personalized eye care • Latest eye wear • Advanced vision care technology

9 S. Saint Joseph Ave • Niles, MI

269-683-4040

www.nilesvisionclinic.com

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

87


STRENGTH in NUMBERS Michiana manufacturing businesses cite growing workforce as key to growth

STORY BEAU BROCKETT JR. | PHOTOGRAPHY EMILY SOBECKI

T

hink of the word “manufacturing.” What are its associations? Dirty floors, oily equipment, dingy warehouses, poor conditions and poor pay. That, said Brooke Kostielney, is what people typically associate with manufacturing. The director of marketing and company culture of C&S Machine said so in a spacious climate-controlled parts plant with ample sunlight, clean floors and a souped-up break room. Cars, companies in critical condition, job layoffs and blighted buildings. That, said Jeff Rea, is what people typically associate with the Michigan manufacturing industry. The Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce president and CEO said so from his office overlooking businesses that have helped make a Michiana economy strong. To Rea, Michiana manufacturing is a community of successful small, mid-size, even large companies

that are growing in local and global markets, so long as workforce needs are met. APPLES FALL CLOSE TO THE TREE To Kostielney, Michiana manufacturing is at its best at C&S, 2929 Saratore Dr., Niles. On a drab November morning, the stark gray plant building is contrasted by a rising sun that radiates inside the climate-controlled plant, lighting up the clean floors, well-maintained machines and employees that carefully go about their skilled work. The company has come a long way since its inception in 1966, said President Dominick Saratore. His father, Joseph, opened shop in Buchanan as a tools supplier for area businesses Bendix Corporation and the Studebaker Corporation. Joseph later expanded his company, adding on two additional buildings and finding a successful niche in the aerospace industry, creating ultra-precision

Brooke Kostielney, the director of marketing and company culture, and Dominick Saratore, president of C&S Machine, stand in the middle of the factory.

88

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

parts with ultra-delicate tools for Fortune 1,000 companies. Joseph can now often be found on the floor, working alongside employees. Since taking over in 2010, Saratore has implemented lean manufacturing practices, cutting down on waste without cutting productivity in the process. The practice led to the creation of a new plant in Bertrand Township in an industrial park about two years ago. Now, C&S is only growing, Saratore said, sporting an ugly Christmas sweater for a staff-wide contest later that day. “We’re in a very nice spot for our location, for our business,” Saratore said. “We continually say we’re in the sweet spot of the country.” Saratore cited proximity to major metropolitan areas, a large manufacturing business base, inexpensive cost of living and a well-trained workforce as reasons why Michiana is great for industry.


Rea, in a separate interview, agreed with Saratore’s statement. As the leader of not only the Niles area’s chamber but neighboring South Bend’s, he said economic development has been successful in the area. He likened good economic development happening in Michiana to a quote from the baseball movie, “Moneyball.” “You can actually win a lot of games hitting, getting on base, walks, singles and doubles,” he said. “You don’t need to hit a homerun.” The home run Rea alludes to is an old-school mentality on economic development: placing most of one’s resources in hopes of a big company coming into town. Only about 200 of such investments happen nationally each year, Rea said. Usually, they occur in the southeast or southwest, not what has been historically known as flyover country. While one investment was made — the estimated $1 billion Indeck Niles Energy Center natural gas plant — Michiana finds year-to-year and day-to-day success in retaining and strengthening the strong

business base and entrepreneurial spirit already present. What the manufacturing community needs now is to look past its profits and growth, Rea said. “When people think of economic development, they think of business attraction and development and expansion,” Rea said. “Yeah, but you got to have good community planning. You have to have a nice zoning ordinance. You have to have a good K-12 system, and you have to have good training opportunities.” In essence, for businesses to stay strong and become stronger, they must work to not only provide good wages, benefits and perks to employees, they must help create a larger community that supports the workforce and trains its future members properly. FINDING A WORK-LIFE BALANCE “We’re quoting. We’re winning. We’re adding $1 million equipment, so the future looks strong,” said Peter Carpenter. Carpenter is the plant manager of Pilkington NSG, 2121 W. Chicago Road, Niles, across US-

12 from C&S Machine. He spoke from his desk, occasionally breaking away to say farewells to fellow employees who were en route to a holiday break. During his 22 years at NSG, eight as a manager, Carpenter said he has come to pride himself on providing safe jobs and great opportunities for pay, benefits and upward mobility. At the end of 2019, the vehicle window manufacturer employed upwards of 350 people. Carpenter said he is looking for more. Outside his office window is a sign encouraging passersby to apply for jobs. Finding the right candidate can be difficult in the manufacturing industry, NSG included, he said. Kostielney, like Carpenter, said that soft skills are important, such as leadership, respect, kindness and timeliness. So, too, are hard skills. Area school districts offer skilled trades classes, from the culinary arts to vehicle repair, and work to promote jobs in the manufacturing sector as a viable career pathway, such as through weeklong summer camps and job fairs.

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

89


Both C&S and NSG develop hard skills by training their employees on-site. At C&S, using delicate equipment to make even more delicate parts requires lots of hard skill, so the company has continued its long-time, multi-year apprenticeship program, prepping the workers of tomorrow today for wellpaying jobs. But Kostielney said C&S knows that maintaining good workers requires more than wages and benefits. “There’s a lot of investments made in this facility good for a working environment,” she said. The natural lighting, a clean workspace and maintained machines are all meant to show how valued employers are. So, too, are additional amenities. At both ends of the main floor are bathrooms for quick access. At one end of the floor is the break room. Inside is a chic space with natural light, modern furniture and an assortment of seating spaces. In one corner are rows of vending machines, providing not only sodas and snacks, but healthy wraps and sandwiches. Rea said efforts to support a strong workforce are needed outside of company doors, too. There is still a stigma of manufacturing jobs being unviable to support an individual or a family, so many parents and school districts have emphasized attending a four-year university over a two-year degree or a

90

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

skilled trades certification, he said. The challenge is marketing businesses and jobs to students. As a Niles careertechnical education camp proved in July 2019, bringing students to the business, or vice-versa, can be more informative of the types of work available than internet descriptions and estimated wages. The trend to disavow skilled trades jobs is fading, Rea said, but manufacturing companies must be present in the push to promote skilled trades jobs. Whether it be a career summer camp, a Manufacturing Day event or a regular school day, companies can connect with school districts to show students the jobs that are available in their hometowns. Erasing past perceptions of what it means to work a manufacturing job are especially pertinent in the context of increasing automation, Rea said. Lean manufacturing principles Saratore spoke of may make it so more products can be made with less people thanks to machines. The majority of jobs that exist in this potential future may require skilled and semi-skilled labor, rather than the assembly line perceptions of manufacturing past. Carpenter said meeting potential employees in the middle may be best for business. Rather than just waiting for the workforce to adapt to the jobs available, employers must adapt their job structure to workers, too. “You have to adapt to the workforce coming in,” he said. “Otherwise, we’ll fail.”

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


MILESTONE BUSINESSES New Patients Welcome! A pAthwAy to Healthy SMILES richard L. beckermeyer, d.d.S., Pc www.drbeckermeyer.com

123 marmont Street • niLeS, mi 269.683.6461 • FaX: 269.683.7618

BEST OF THE BEST

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

91


AUTO SALES & SERVICE The Friendly Car Center

“We Service GM, Chryslers, Ford & Most Foreign Cars”

269-683-7220 ADDISON TIRE SERVICE, INC. Established Business since 1987

We do tires plus automotive repairs That’s how we roll! 26041 US Highway 12 Edwardsburg, MI (269) 663-7435

ANTIQUES & AUCTIONS

92

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

TOTAL

FARM & FUEL

SOLUTIONS

Your local co-op - open to everyone

Buchanan (269) 695-6823 Schoolcraft (269) 679-5226 www.co-alliance.com www.co-alliancepropane.com

HOME IMPROVEMENT Skinner ConStruCtion Co. RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL • New Construction • Home Improvement • Home Repair & Alteration • Insurance Claims Welcome James Skinner, Owner State License #21010857

(269) 684-5004

2220 Yankee, Niles, MI

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

93


REAL ESTATE & APARTMENTS

94

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


FOOD & FUN Celebrating

25 YEARS of great service, great food, and great times

236 S Front St, Dowagiac, MI 49047 • (269) 782-9690 • Find us on Facebook!

LIFESTYLE & BEAUTY

RETAIL

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

95


SENIOR LIVING

CHURCHES & COMMUNITY 2019

96

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE


2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

97


HORIZONS index APARTMENTS & REAL ESTATE Berkshire Niles ...................................................................................59 Integrity Real Estate Debbie + Brian Floor ………....................…….……54 Loux + Hayden Realty …………………..................………………….…….……32 Nest Realty……………………………………………………..……………………......26 Pawating Village + Tanglewood Apartments………………………………....37

AUTOMOTIVE Hartman Auto ...........……………………………...................……………..….…83 Jim D’s Body Shop…………………………....................……………………..…..21 Tyler Automotive ...…………………………...................……………………...…87 Division Tire………………………...................…………………………………..…..6 BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS & SERVICES Brown Funeral Home + Cremation Services………...................……..... 37 Dowagiac Heating + Air Conditioning…...........…...........…...................31 Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home…...........…...........…...........…...........63 Lyons Industries…...........…...........…...........…...........…...........…..........32 North American Forest Products…...........…...........…...........….............31 Owens Lawn Care…...........…...........…...........…...........…...........….......26 Pacheco Fabrics…...........…...........…...........…...........…...........…..........37 COMMUNITY BUSINESS Berrien County Sheriff’s Department…...........…...........….............…....63 Berrien County Youth Fair…...........…...........…...........…...........…..........72 Buchanan Farm Market…...........…...........…...........…...........................63 City of Dowagiac...........….............….............….............…..............…...21 Dowagiac District Library...….........….........….........….........…..........…..21 Edwardsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.........….............…..............75 Fernwood Botanical Garden.........….............….............…..............…...32 Four Flags Area Apple Festival.........….............….............…................87 Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce.................................................64 Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service..........................44 United Way of Southwest Michigan.......................................................3 Western Michigan University Fort St. Joseph......................................68 YMCA of Southwest Michigan.............................................................68 EDUCATION Brandywine Community Schools.........................................................26 Cassopolis Public Schools...................................................................72 Dowagiac Union Schools....................................................................54 Edwardsburg Public Schools..............................................................C-1 Indiana University South Bend............................................................59 Lake Michigan College........................................................................99 Niles Community Schools......................................................................1 Southwestern Michigan College........................................................C-4 FINANCIAL SERVICES Dowagiac Area Federal Credit Union……………………..............….……...68

98

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

FOOD & ENTERTAINMENT Edwardsburg Sports Complex…………..…………..…………..……..............…….……87 High’s Marine…………..…………..…………..…………..…………................……….…....80 Pizza Transit…………..…………..…………..…………..…………..………..............…..……31 Wings, Etc.…………..…………..…………..…………..…………..…………..................…...54

HOME IMPROVEMENT & AGRICULTURE Big C Lumber……..…………..…………..…………..…………..………….................……...83 Cass Outdoor Power……..…………..…………..…………..…………..…...............………72 Cut Above Wood Design……..…………..…………..…………..………….................……72 Greenmark Equipment……..…………..…………..…………..………….................……..67 Hale’s Hardware……..………..………..………..………..………..………..................…...C-2 Hannapel Home Center……..………..………..………..………..………..................….....75 Midwest Roofing……..………..………..………..………..………..……….................…….59 Williams A-1 Tree Service……..………..………..………..………..……...............…..……80 INSURANCE Cindy McCall AAA Insurance Agency……..………..………..………................…….….67 Insurance Management Services……..………..………....……..…...............……..……80 Kemner-Iott Benz Agency……..………..………..………..………..…..............……..……44 MEDICAL Cass County Medical Care Facility..……..……..……...……..……..…...............…....…75 Cass Family Clinic..……..……..……..……..……..……..……..……..……..................…...32 Great Lakes Eye Care..……..……..……..……..……..……..……..…….................…….C-3 Niles Vision Clinic……..……..…….……..……..…….……..……..…….……................……87 Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network……..……..…….…….......................…80 Green Stem Provisioning…..……..…..……..…..……..…..……..…..…….................…..67 RETAIL & ANTIQUES Deck the Halls…..……..…..……..…..……..…..……..…..……..…..…….................…...…75 East Main Gardens Florist + Greenhouses…..……..…..……..…..……......................44 Olympia Books..…..……..…...…..……..…...…..……..…...…..……..…............................6 Shelton’s Farm Market..…..……..…...…..……..…...…..……..…...…..…..….................31 Vite Greenhouses...…..……....…..……....…..……....…..……....…..…...............…........44 Who kNew? Consignment...…..……....…..……....…..……....…..……...................…..59 Yarn on Front...…..……....…..……....…..……....…..……....…..……..................…....…..21 Zick’s Specialty Meats...…..……....…..……....…..……....…..……...................…....…..68 SENIOR LIVING Cass County Council on Aging...…..…...…..…...…..…...….......................…..….......63 PACE...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…...................…...2 The Timbers of Cass County...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..….................…..…54 West Woods of Niles...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…...…..…..................…..…83 UTILITIES Niles Utilities…..…...….…..…...….…..…...….…..…...….…..…...….…....................…....97 J&H Oil Company…..…...….…..…...….…..…...….…..…...….…..…....................….…..26


YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS AT

THE LAKE LESS DEBT MORE FREEDOM

Save thousands and DEBT LESS LESS DEBT for one goLESS toDEBT college third of the cost. MORE FREEDOM MORE MORE FREEDOM FREEDOM

LESS CONFUSION MORE INCLUSION

Attending classes at a LESS CONFUSION LESS LESS CONFUSION CONFUSION small college means you’ll get the support MORE INCLUSION MORE MORE INCLUSION INCLUSION you need.

LESS SURVIVING MORE THRIVING

Studies show you’ll LESS SURVIVING LESS LESS SURVIVING SURVIVING earn more with a college education. MORE THRIVING MORE MORE THRIVING THRIVING

Go to lakemichigancollege.edu/apply to learn more about what path is right for you, and to apply for free today! BENTON HARBOR CAMPUS 2755 E. Napier Avenue Benton Harbor, MI 49022 (269) 927-1000

NILES CAMPUS

SOUTH HAVEN CAMPUS

1905 Foundation Drive2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE 125 Veterans Boulevard | HORIZONS 2020 | 99 Niles, MI 49120 South Haven, MI 49090 (269) 695-1391 (269) 637-7500


CREATING VIBRANT · RELEVANT · SUSTAINABLE RURAL COMMUNITIES

teammidwest.com

800.492.5989

100

|

HORIZONS 2020

|

TOGETHER

OUR 2020 VISION FOR THE FUTURE

FUTURE IS BRIGHT

Profile for Leader Publications

Horizons 2020  

Horizons: 2020 Vision for the Future takes a look back at the progress made in southwest Michigan, and a look ahead at all the good to come.

Horizons 2020  

Horizons: 2020 Vision for the Future takes a look back at the progress made in southwest Michigan, and a look ahead at all the good to come.

Profile for leaderpub
Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded