02-23-2017 Vanderlyn scholarships announced by Berrien Community Foundation honor Hartford philanthr


Vanderlyn scholarships announced by Berrien Community Foundation honor Hartford philanthropists Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn

By Jon Bisnett

The newly established Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Scholarships were created in 2016 by Bonna Vanderlyn to honor her beloved late husband Arthur and celebrate his love of the Hartford community. These scholarships add to a long list of philanthropy on the part of the Vanderlyns.

Berrien Community Foundation

 The new scholarships were officially announced only in the last week by the Berrien Community Foundation who serves as custodian of the funds. Executive Director Lisa Cripps-Downey applauds the effort commenting, “After speaking with Bonna, I truly understand her desire to preserve Art’s memory, but also to share his love for the community they called home. She spoke in earnest of Art’s desire to always bring out the best in his employees. The scholarship intended for later-life learners attest to Art’s belief that it is never too late to improve one’s self.”

Not to be confused with the local Hartford Public Schools Foundation for Quality Education, of which Bonna is a Life Member, this new scholarship opportunity is administrated by the Berrien Community Foundation.

All inquiries should be directed to www.berriencommunity.org/scholar.

The Berrien Community Foundation has been helping students achieve their college goals for more than two decades and provides more than $150,000 each year in scholarships to deserving students from all over Southwest Michigan.

All Berrien Foundation scholarships have a March 6 application deadline. However, since the inaugural release of the Vanderlyn scholarships came out a bit late, the staff at the Berrien Foundation has graciously extended the application deadline an extra two weeks to March 17.

Eligibility & Scholarship Criteria for current year graduates

 The first is a renewable scholarship of up to $3,000/year for four years, for current year Hartford High School graduates. The amount of the scholarship is dependent on the number of years the student attended Hartford High School.  (4-years: 100% eligibility, 3-years: 90% eligibility, 2-years: 80% eligibility, 1-year: 75% eligibility)

Eligible candidates will meet the following criteria: Must be graduating Hartford High School with at least a 2.5 Grade Point Average; must demonstrate unmet financial need by providing a FAFSA Determination; and show volunteer/community involvement.

This scholarship can be used at a U.S. college/university, or vocational/technical institute of choice (2-4 year program) anywhere for tuition, books, fees, and other costs related to attending.

To complete your application, provide the following in order: Signed application. Two letters of recommendation from two of the three choices listed: from a teacher, former teacher or school official; from a community member; or from a personal reference other than a relative. A one-page essay, typed, answering the question: How would this scholarship help you achieve your goals? High school transcript, and if not included on this transcript, ACT or SAT scores. Evidence of financial need: A copy of FAFSA Determination Letter with Estimated Expected Family Contribution.

Eligibility & Scholarship Criteria:

Non-traditional (Late-Learners) students

 The second scholarship is open to adults returning to school who are prior graduates of Hartford High School.

This is a renewable scholarship of up to $3,000/year for four years.  The amount of the scholarship is dependent on the number of years the student attended Hartford High School. (4-years: 100% eligibility, 3-years: 90% eligibility, 2-years: 80% eligibility, 1-year: 75% eligibility)

Eligible candidates will meet the following criteria: Must show proof of having graduated from Hartford High School; eligible students do not need to currently reside in Hartford, only to have graduated from Hartford High School; must demonstrate unmet financial need by providing a FAFSA Determination; must show volunteer/community involvement.

This scholarship can be used for enrollment at a U.S. college/university, or vocational/technical institute of choice (2-4 year program) anywhere for tuition, books, fees, and other costs related to attending.

To complete your application, provide the following in order: Signed application. Two letters of recommendation from two of the three choices listed: from a teacher, former teacher or school official, from a community member or from a personal reference other than a relative. A one page personal essay, typed, stating your goals, achievements, current financial need, or special circumstances and how a scholarship would assist you. Proof of graduation from Hartford High School and years attended. Evidence of financial need: A copy of FAFSA Determination Letter with Estimated Expected Family Contribution.

Email susanmatheny@berriencommunity.org or call (269) 983-3304 Extension 4 with any questions. Recipients will be notified in May.

MOVING TO THE FLYWHEELERS MUSEUM… The historic Bittner Service Station that has sat on the corner of Red Arrow Highway and Boyer Road in Coloma for almost 100 years has been moved to its new home at the Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven. Laraway and Sons House Moving pulled the landmark, which operated as a Standard Oil station for many years, to the museum which plans to restored it as close as possible to its original design.


Bittner gas station, historic landmark, moved to Michigan Flywheelers Museum

An historic landmark that has sat on the corner of Red Arrow Highway and Boyer Road for almost 100 years has been moved to a new home.    The Bittner gas station, which operated as a Standard Oil business from 1922 to 1966, has been relocated to the Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven which plans to restore the historic building.

At the museum, the station will be placed in the museum’s “Old Towne” – a 1920s village filled with businesses that would have operated during that time period. Once restored, it will join other educational displays like Over The Hill blacksmith shop, Farm History Building, Abbert and Sons Farm Machinery Repair and Old Tyme Jail.

“We hope to restore it as close to the original building as possible, but the office part of the station was in pretty bad shape,” said museum president Pat Ingalls. “As we were getting it ready for the move, the roof collapsed over the office portion. At this point, we’re going to discuss rebuilding that part of the station and use as much of the original wood like the siding that we can.”

Otto J. Bittner built the station in 1922. Family historians said that he built the station by buying lumber on credit, paying it off and then purchase more until it was finished. Otto also built a home nearby, and he and his wife, Florence moved into their home June 1923. When the full service station opened, it had one pump for kerosene that was used for lamps and stoves, and one for gasoline. Over the years, the station underwent several renovations. In 1930, the garage was moved back 53 feet from the center of Red Arrow Highway in preparation for widening the road. Red Arrow was later renamed U.S. 12. A new canopy was added to protect customers from sun and storms. Inside a complete line of auto accessories, pop, gum, candy, cigarettes and chewing tobacco were available for purchase.    In 1932, a fruit stand was added.

Otto took a short break from the service station business in March 1948 when he rented the station to Louis Thurston and Gene DeField. For some undocumented reason, the agreement didn’t work out, and within a year, Otto had bought out their inventory and resumed operation of the station.

The demise of the station came in 1966, one year after I-94 opened pulling a good portion of the traffic off of Red Arrow. Otto kept the station open part-time for a while, but closed its doors for the final time after 44 years of service.

Bittner was honored by Standard Oil Company as the longest operating Standard Oil dealer in southwest Michigan.    The station didn’t sit empty for long. In 1970, Bittner’s son Lyman opened it back up to repair small engines. As a youngster, he worked for many years at the station part-time alongside his father repairing Model Ts. When he opened it back up, there were still Model T spark plugs, fan belts and other parts on the shelves just like his father had left them.

At the age of 74, Lyman decided it was time to let go saying in a 1999 Tri-City Record article written by Lyman’s wife Ethel Bittner that it was with mixed emotions moving out of the building because after 76 years, the building would no longer be in the Bittner family. Not long after that, the building had new owners – David and Shelly Stankiewicz.

Since then, the building has pretty much served as a storage shed, and like many old things was deteriorating. Wanting to preserve its history, the Stankiewiczs, who are members of the Michigan Flywheelers Museum, made the decision to donate the building to the non-profit. There, the historic landmark will be restored; its history preserved, and, at the request of the Stankiewiczs, renamed “Stank’s Station.”

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