08-01-2019 Gala-T’s chef is back home in Hartford; Coloma Library welcomes Harrison as new directo

Gala-T’s chef is back home in Hartford

By Jon Bisnett After age 50 it’s safe to say most of us can use a little patching up around the seams and the iconic Pizza Chef in Hartford is certainly no different. Gala-T-Inn owner Ken Jones, with the help of his crew and a U-Haul trailer, loaded up the chef back in mid-April for the trip to his birthplace in Sparta, Wisconsin; home of the Fast Corporation for a total makeover & refurbishment. Ken inherited the chef in 2004, when following a successful career in the beer business with OK Distributing he purchased the business from Dave Galati.

Standing some 9-feet tall and weighing around 300 pounds, the fiberglass chef had been largely untouched for many years. He did suffer a cracked arm a few years back, thanks to a piece of construction equipment. That repair was handled by a local fiberglass shop. This time around Ken sought out the original vendor who created the chef. Fast Corporation is a fascinating business that specializes in the creation and refurbishment of a multitude of advertising figures including some very recognizable names like Big Boy, the Hard Rock Café Guitar and the Bud Man. From water park structures, to fiberglass cows, just about anything one can imagine seems to be in their warehouse. Odds are any similar figure you might find in your vacation travels probably came from them. See www.fastkorp.com for a fascinating look at the work they do. While some locals had feared the chef may have been stolen after a 4-month absence, Jones says he’s heard nothing but praise for the new look which includes a new pair of pants and a “pencil-thin” mustache. Countless folks have been stopping by to get a photo op with the chef. Ken invites everyone to stop by and see the chef themselves. Gala-T-Inn is open 7 days a week offering up those classic Italian dishes and of course pizza!


Bones in Balance classes

helps those with osteoporosis

Lakeland Orthopedic Physical Therapy is now enrolling participants for Bones in Balance, a four-week program designed to teach those diagnosed with osteoporosis and osteopenia how to successfully live with these conditions through self-management. Bones in Balance incorporates education and exercise and is led by specially trained physical therapists. The program includes valuable self-management tips from a pharmacist, registered dietitian, and nurse educator. Classes meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a four-week period at the Center for Outpatient Services, located at 3900 Hollywood Road in St. Joseph. Registration is now open for the next set of classes which will run from August 6 to 29 and be held at 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. or 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that affects over 44 million Americans, and although both men and women can develop the disease, over 80 percent of sufferers are women over the age of 45. Osteoporosis is commonly referred to as “the silent disease,” because bone loss occurs without any visible symptoms at first. A physician’s order is required to participate. There is a $25 registration fee to cover the cost of materials; the remaining amount is billable to your insurance. For more information or to register, call (269) 556-7150.


Coloma Library welcomes Harrison as new director

By Teresa Smithers There’s been a changing of the guard at Coloma Public Library. On June 30 of this year, after 42 years of dedicated service, Charles Dickinson retired as director of the Coloma Public Library. Mary Harrison became the new director, along with Alicia Ford as Assistant Director.

MADAM LIBRARIANS… Deputy Librarian Alicia Ford (left) and Librarian Mary Harrison. (TCR photo by Teresa Smithers)


Mary Harrison, a graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School, has worked in libraries since she was shelving books as a fourteen-year-old at Kalamazoo Public Library. “I never thought, when I was shelving books,” recalled Harrison, “that I would always work in libraries. But here I am!” After school, Harrison moved to Georgia where she worked as an assistant director, leading several branch libraries. But after years in the south, she felt that the winters of Michigan were worth dealing with to be near her family. It is good that she thought so for on her way from Kalamazoo to an interview for assistant director at Coloma Public Library she slid on the icy roads and landed in the grassy median on I-94. She had to walk to a phone to call and tell Dickinson that she had wrecked her car and could not make the interview.

But Harrison’s experience and expertise looked so good that the Coloma Library Board did not want to lose an opportunity to talk to her. Dickerson actually drove out and picked her up so she could still be interviewed. “As soon as I walked into the library,” Harrison recalled, “it felt like I was coming home. It just felt so right to be here!” The position of Director was not open at that time, but Harrison was offered the position after her interview, to be mentored by Dickinson for three months before taking over the reins. At the same time, Alicia Ford was hired as Assistant Director. Alicia is a Coloma High School graduate who worked at St. Joseph Public Library for years before leaving to raise her children. Once her children were older, she was anxious to get back into the library world. The two women are working together to use the resources of Coloma Public Library to best meet the needs of today’s society. “Our main goals,” Harrison said, “are outreach and programming. We want to go to schools, have more bi-lingual services and open up more programs for adults and different cultures, all focusing on STEAM (i.e., Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math).” “With STEAM in mind, we’ve had our first bi-lingual book reading,” Harrison said, “as well as cultural dancing and a NASA program. And we have many more programs planned.” One of those programs is a reading program for adults. “There are always programs for kids,” Mary explained, “but not adults. Now adults can have a list of summer reading and have fun with it.” An Open House was held in June to honor Dickinson’s many years as Library Director. One of the best stories Mary heard at that Open House was the moving of books from the old library to the new one. “It was done like an old fire brigade,” she enthused. “Rows of people passing the books along, hand to hand.” To Harrison, that coordination and cooperation personifies the spirit of Coloma, a town whose community, though small, built such a well-resourced library. As with all public libraries, the use of Coloma Public Library is free to all. Everyone living within the City of Coloma, Coloma Township, Hagar Township or Bainbridge Township with a photo ID are eligible for a library card (under 18 must have a parent/guardian). Visit their website for information on upcoming events: colomapubliclibrary.net.

Women’s Giving Circle announces website for women and families

The Berrien Community Foundation Women’s Giving Circle has launched a new resource website for women and families in Berrien County. Help4Her.org helps Berrien County women and families find the programs and services they need. “As the Women’s Giving Circle worked to identify how we could impact women in our community, we recognized that one of the things we relied on most in our own lives was the ability to network throughout a system,” said Women’s Giving Circle member Sarah Jollay. “Help4Her creates that opportunity for another set of women while also supporting the resource providers.” The resource website helps people quickly and easily search for programs and services that are available in Berrien County. Searches can be done by both location and topic. In addition, there are quick links for services a family may need if they are in crisis – food, housing and mental health. As part of the Women’s Giving Circle research, the group found that women tend to feel more comfortable with resources that are identified specifically for them. Help4Her.org recognizes that women are often the people seeking outside resources for their families, whether it is emergency assistance or long-term childcare. The site is meant for anyone seeking services or to help people who mentor others and need to refer someone for additional help. Before becoming public, the site was reviewed by agencies that often refer women and families to other services – Department of Health and Human Services, libraries and other community service agencies. The Berrien Community Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle is a group of dynamic female leaders from all over Berrien County who pooled their resources and began identifying and tackling issues facing women and girls in Berrien County. The Berrien Community Foundation was established in 1952 to help concerned individuals put charitable dollars to work for the benefit of Berrien County and beyond. For information about BCF call 983-3304 or visit www.berriencommunity.org.

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