Kalamazoo

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city of Kalamazoo wants federal regulators to consider a new option for an old landfill that's full of toxic material. The Allied Site served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry for decades. No mills have operated on the site since the early 1980s.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Grand Rapids, Flint and Kalamazoo approved changes to their city charters.

Kalamazoo voters approved proposals that will change the way their mayor and city commissioners are elected. The mayor will be elected separately from the rest of the city commission and commissioners will serve longer terms.

Flint voters split on six proposed changes to the way their city runs. Voters rejected proposals to eliminate the city’s ombudsman office, the city’s civil service commission and several departments.   

Jacob Enos / Creative Commons

Some residents and business owners in Kalamazoo want tighter restrictions on where people can panhandle. The city says the proposed changes come in response to just a few people who are “aggressive and intrusive” around the Kalamazoo Mall and Bronson Park.

Tonight, commissioners will consider an amendment that outlines the “right to be left alone” – making it illegal to ask for spare change from anyone sitting outside on a restaurant patio or on a bench at a public park.

ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin believes a judge would find the amendment unconstitutional.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

While all the attention on the November election has centered on statewide races for governor and Congress, there are other issues on the ballot.

Voters in several Michigan cities are being asked to make changes to their city charters in next month’s election.

For example, Kalamazoo voters are being asked if they want to make major changes to their roughly century-old city charter.

Kalamazoo voters elect their city commissioners every two years. The top vote-getter serves as mayor.

Coban

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Police in Kalamazoo are testing body cameras that attach to officer uniforms to record video and audio.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Saturday that Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley says cameras add a layer of transparency and he wants to make them standard equipment.

Hadley says that body cameras "make sense" and protect officers and the community.

MDCH

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Admissions to the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital are on hold while investigators examine allegations that patient rights were violated.

A spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health tells the Kalamazoo Gazette that 17 hospital staff members have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. She says her department will continue looking into the allegations and respond with appropriate action.

She says although the hospital isn't currently admitting more patients, it will still take information for potential admissions.

Anders Beck (left) and Paul Hoffman
User: Greensky Bluegrass / facebook

During the summertime, music festivals take over forests and fields all across the state. 

Greensky Bluegrass is very familiar on Michigan's music scene. But the Kalamazoo-based band is also gaining national attention. 

"If Sorrows Swim," the latest album from Greensky Bluegrass, is released today. Stateside's Emily Fox recently sat down with two members of the band, mandolin player Paul Hoffman and dobro player Anders Beck. 

The title of Greensky Bluegrass' newest album was inspired after their mandolin player spent a little too much time listening to This American Life while on the road touring.

"Somewhere in the interview, there was a discussion like, what if we can't drown our sorrows ... And if just occurred to me as a very prolific thing. Isolated as the album title, if sorrows swim, it leaves the answer unknown. What if sorrows swim, then it's for you to decide what the answer might be," says Hoffman.

* Listen to the full story above.

Derek Jeter in 2009.
Keith Allison / Flickr

The New York Yankees are in town, and the player who has been a Yankee longer than any other is being celebrated by opposing fans.

Derek Jeter plans to retire from the game at the end of this season, and during what could be his last visit to Comerica Park, Michigan has come out to celebrate the player who grew up in Kalamazoo.

With Jeter in town, there's a lot being written about Jeter.

But Jim Baumbach at Newsday wrote a piece in 2012 that gives us a look at Jeter's path from Kalamazoo to the New York Yankees.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Police chiefs in Michigan are concerned that changes coming to the way the U.S. manages its broadcast spectrum may negatively affect their radio systems.

The Federal Communications Commission hopes to auction off part of the broadcast spectrum next year to meet growing demand for personal electronic devices.

The auction is expected to generate more than $20 billion dollars. 

Enbridge Energy oil spill
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week marks four years since a pipeline operated by Enbridge Energy burst. It was a segment of Line 6B located just downstream from the pump station in Marshall.

The result? More than 1,000,000 gallons of oil have been recovered from Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith and The Environment Report’s Rebecca Williams joined Stateside to talk about the effects of the spill four years later.

The spill affected about 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River, from Marshall downstream close to Kalamazoo. The bulk of the oil has been cleaned up. Smith said the river is still useable; you can swim, fish, and do other things that you could do before the spill. 

However, cleanup is still going on. The EPA is dredging Morrow Lake this summer and there are still areas of the river that are closed. Williams said there might always be some oil left in the area.

“What agencies here in Michigan have said is that you often don’t want to take all the oil out of sensitive habitats because you could end up doing more damage,” Williams said.

Smith said the dredging process can be very invasive and hurt a lot of habitats. After the ordered dredging is over, there will be more passive collection, that won’t be as harsh on the environment.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed House Speaker Jase Bolger's father to serve on the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees.

James Bolger is a retired Michigan State Police official who lives in Whitehall. The Kalamazoo Gazette says he'll fill the seat vacated when Trustee Michelle Crumm resigned.

Bolger will complete Crumm's eight-year term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2020.

Bolger earned a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan.

Ryan Basilio / Creative Commons

Leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo are warning parishioners not to take part in an ordination ceremony this weekend, because the person being ordained is a woman.

In a weekly newsletter, Bishop Paul Bradley reminded parishioners who take part that they will be kicked out of the church. Those who witness what he called the “simulation” ceremony must confess before receiving sacraments of the church. The Diocese did not return requests for comment on this story.

Today on Artpod, we're talking with writers: how they stop being terrible and start being good.

How they start with their own weirdness and turn it into talent.

And how Midwest writers can take anything - learning how to make fudge or throwing tomatoes at their sister's butt - and turn it into a great story.  

First, we'll hear from Garrison Keillor, who's celebrating 40 years of "A Prairie Home Companion" and the release of his new book of essays, poetry and memoir.

user: Kevin Martini / Flickr

What city would get your vote as one of Michigan's literary hot spots? 

Writer Anna Clark would give her vote to Kalamazoo. Her recent story in the Detroit Free Press is titled Kalamazoo quietly emerging as a literary hot spot.

She joined us today to tell us why. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Gilmore Festival posters.
Gilmore Festival / Facebook

Even though life took him in a somewhat different direction, Irving S. Gilmore has turned Kalamazoo into a place that truly celebrates piano music.

The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival is in full swing and runs till May 10.

Dan Gustin, the director of the Gilmore, joined us today.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposed $100 billion merger of two giant drug companies may have an impact on thousands of people in Michigan.

Pfizer confirmed it’s talking with Britain's AstraZeneca about merging or combining their operations.

Pfizer employs about 2,300 people in Michigan, most of them in Kalamazoo County.

Inventorchris / Creative Commons

Kalamazoo Public Safety officers are making dramatically fewer traffic stops. Chief Jeff Hadley says the data reflect a change in the department’s strategies.

Back in September, the Kalamazoo police department released a study that showed, among other things, that African-American drivers were almost twice as likely as Caucasian drivers to get pulled over in the city.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency hopes to select a cleanup plan by this summer for an old landfill site in Kalamazoo that's full of toxic material.

The Allied site served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry for decades. There are 1.5 million cubic yards of material at the site laced with polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs. Some neighbors have dubbed it Mount PCB.

CDC / wikimedia commons

Health officials in Kalamazoo are trying to ease parents’ concerns over a recent case of tuberculosis. A high school student tested positive for the bacterial infection last week.

“It sounds scary, but it’s not that scary,” said Linda Vail, director of the Kalamazoo County Health Department.

user blwphotography / Flickr

What can a parent do to reach an autistic child, to forge some path through the barrier of autism spectrum disorder – a path that might somehow lead to greater understanding of that child’s mind, heart and soul?

That challenge is facing more and more families in America.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control found that one in 150 school-age children had been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. By 2008, that figure was one in 88 – an increase of 78%.

Consider more recent figures from a different government agency: the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that today, one out of every 50 school-age kids has the condition.

The experts tell us these higher numbers may not be so much a matter of more kids having ASD, but rather that health officials are getting better at counting those who do.

But behind all the statistics are the day-to-day stories of families coping with the often crushing challenge of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Monday, the Kalamazoo City Commission is scheduled to vote on its city budget.

The budget plan commissioners will vote on reflects Kalamazoo’s basic problem: rising legacy costs.

Much of the more than $2 million budget gap is due to the increasing costs of retiree health care.

The budget covers much of the gap with one-time funding. That means a longer term solution will have to be found.

Facebook

(Editor's note: This interview was first broadcast on October 28th, 2013)

Take poetry and the spoken word.

Mix in two stories of redemption.

Stir in a meeting at a Poetry Slam.

And top it with a poem about Michigan.

Do all of that, and you have Kinetic Affect. They are a spoken-word performing duo from Kalamazoo. And maybe you've seen their performance of "The Michigan Poem" making its way around the web: their straight from the heart poem about what it means to be from Michigan.

The Kinetic Affect duo Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron joined us today from Kalamazoo.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan air travelers could see some changes with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The merger creating the world's largest airline became official today.  But the new American Airlines has relatively few flights flying into and out of six Michigan airports.   

Michael Conway is a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.  He says the newly merged airline carries only about 6.6% of passengers flying out of Detroit.

Paul Ruesch / Environmental Protection Agency

People in Kalamazoo won’t have to wait much longer for a federal decision about what to do with an old landfill site that's full of toxic material.

The Allied site is where a paper mill dumped waste for decades. The pile is laced with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They can cause cancer and other health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The city government in Kalamazoo is working through the final stages of a major transition.

Kalamazoo is wrapping up an early retirement incentive it first offered city workers a couple years ago.

“I think we will be affected by this early retirement initiative for a long time to come,” Mayor Bobby Hopewell said.

Paul Ruesch / Environmental Protection Agency

For decades, paper mills dumped waste into the Kalamazoo River. Some of it had polychlorinated biphenyls; or PCBs. People can be exposed to PCBs by eating fish from the Kalamazoo River. PCBs can cause cancer, and other health problems.

Workers are wrapping up a project to remove toxic chemicals from Portage Creek near downtown Kalamazoo.

Bell's Brewery coming to Grand Rapids airport

Sep 15, 2013
bellsbeer.com

A popular Kalamazoo craft beer brewer will open a location soon in the Grand Rapids area.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State of Michigan will re-count Detroit ballots
A state election panel will be tasked with certifying the results from the Detroit mayoral primary.  This comes after the Wayne County election board refused to certify the votes.  Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta reports that the county will have to pay the costs of having the state re-tabulate the ballots. 

FBI may continue to use demographic information
A federal appeals court has sided with the FBI in a case about racial and ethnic mapping.  The Detroit chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit against the FBI because it refuses to share information about its use of demographic data in investigations.  Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller reports that “a federal appeals court says the FBI is allowed to withhold some information so that criminals and terrorists don't know what the bureau is looking into.”

Occupy comes to Kalamazoo
The Occupy movement is back in Michigan this week.  Activists from around the country will take over a park in downtown Kalamazoo to bring attention to issues ranging from the economy to racism.  Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports that “unlike other Occupy events, the activists say no one will be sleeping overnight in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park.”

Dr. John Thomas

The “Banner” Gibson guitar is considered one of the finest acoustic guitars ever made.

Over 9,000 of these Banners were carefully built during World War II.

But Gibson company records show the company had shifted to producing goods for the war effort and not instruments, and most of the men who made those Gibsons at the headquarters in Kalamazoo were off fighting the war.

So who made these guitars that are still prized 70 years later?

That question and his love of guitars drove Connecticut law professor Dr. John Thomas to discover the remarkable answer, which he turned into a book called “Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women and Gibson’s Banner Guitars of World War Two.”

A community agency that serves thousands of low-income residents in Kalamazoo is in danger of closing.

The Douglass Community Association formed almost a hundred years ago to serve African American soldiers returning from World War I.

Interim Director Sherry Thomas-Cloud says now they provide literacy programs, a recovery center, free summer meals for kids and much more. She worries what would happen if people no longer have a central location for so many services.

“At best the services would be piecemealed and at worse you’re looking at an underserved population that would go from being underserved to not having any services at all,” Thomas-Cloud said.

“Plus, the pride, the sustainability of this agency for 90-some years… it’s just been an icon in the community and it would leave a gap that I think would be felt for many years,” Thomas-Cloud said.

Pages