Battle Creek

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A decade from now, Battle Creek could be a key component of the nation’s missile defense program. 

Fort Custer is one of several sites in the eastern U.S. being reviewed for an expansion of a missile interceptor system.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Battle Creek is the latest Michigan city to welcome food trucks to its downtown.

The city commission voted last night to lift a longtime ban on food trucks.  Starting later this month, the city will start handing out permits to up to seven food truck vendors to set up shop in a specific zone in downtown Battle Creek.  

Supporters say food trucks will add much-needed vitality and variety to Battle Creek’s downtown.

Downtown business owners are not happy. They fear the food trucks will hurt struggling downtown restaurants.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Peace activists plan to rally against the nation’s military drone program outside the gates of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Saturday.

Just this week, a pair of U.S. drone attacks killed sixteen people in Pakistan.  It’s the first attacks this year.     

Brian Terrell is with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.   He says the drone program is being abused.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A drive to allow food trucks in downtown Battle Creek is running into stiff opposition from downtown business owners.

The proposal calls for allowing up to seven food trucks into the downtown business district.

Supporters say food trucks would add vitality to downtown.

But business owners say there are already too many empty storefronts downtown.

“Just common sense tells me that our first priority should be to fill those store fronts,” says businesswoman Marianne Angelo.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is helping provide lower interest rates to first-time homebuyers in eight cities.

About 300 individual or families in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, and Jackson can take advantage of a program announced Friday.

First-time homebuyers who meet eligibility requirements can get a 3.125% mortgage interest rate without down payment assistance. If they need help with their down payment, the interest rate is 3.625%.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants to increase home sales in five cities hit hard by blight and three other cities needing a boost.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley says most of Michigan's real estate market has bounced back, but some areas are still experiencing significant sales declines.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Improving cyber security across Michigan is the goal of a new training center that opened today in Battle Creek.

The Michigan Cyber Range will mainly train National Guardsmen to identify cyberattacks.

But it will also provide training for civilians.

Joe Adams is the director of the Michigan Cyber Range. He says the training will help military and civilian IT professionals prepare for the growing threat from other countries and cyber criminals.

Staff Sgt. David Carbajal / U.S. Air Force

Michigan may stand to gain and lose in the proposed U.S. Department of Defense budget plans.

The budget plan Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out yesterday cuts spending on what’s seen as old Cold War hardware and spends more money on "21st century weapons".

www.thehavenbc.org

The people who run a homeless shelter in Battle Creek are giving thanks for the way the community has responded to their need this Thanksgiving.

The Haven of Rest shelter was among the hundreds of thousands of utility customers that lost power for several days earlier this month, after a severe windstorm blew through the state.

Without electricity, days-worth of meat and produce spoiled in the shelter’s refrigerators.

Ben Alman

Update 10:11 a.m.

A Kellogg Co. spokesperson said it's too early to tell how these cuts will affect the workforce in Michigan.

The cuts are coming as part of a "global efficiency and effectiveness program" called "Project K."

Kris Charles of Kellogg sent us this statement:

"Project K is a significant, four-year, global program that will reshape our cost structure and serve as a catalyst for our growth strategy.  The likely outcome of this global initiative is that by the end of 2017, we estimate that Kellogg will have approximately 7 percent fewer employees worldwide than we do today.  We aren’t disclosing further specifics about Project K, however, this isn’t a one-size-fits all initiative.  Each of Kellogg Company’s geographic regions and functions will implement the initiatives that make the most sense to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. It’s too early to estimate potential impacts in Michigan or the Battle Creek area at this time."

9:19 a.m.

Kellogg says it will trim its global workforce by 7 percent as part of a cost-cutting plan, with the cereal maker citing weaker-than-expected sales for the year.

The company called the changes "a global four-year efficiency and effectiveness program" in their press release.

The maker of Frosted Flakes and Eggo waffles said it expects earnings per share for the year to be toward the lower end of its previous forecast.

The workforce reductions will take place by 2017.

For the quarter, Kellogg Co. says it earned $326 million, or 90 cents per share. Not including one-time items, it earned 95 cents per share, which was above the 89 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, the company earned $318 million, or 89 cents per share.

Revenue slipped to $3.72 billion and was short of the $3.73 billion analysts expected.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody will have more on how the cuts could affect workers here in Michigan. The company is headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Common Core hearings

A state House panel began a series of hearings about the Common Core State Standards yesterday. Republican Representative Tom McMillin says the standards take away local control and were developed and adopted without public input. Committee Chair Tim Kelly says the panel should make its recommendation on Common Core in September, Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Legislation to limit public employee benefits

There’s legislation in Lansing that would allow local ballot drives to cap public employee benefits. Leon Drolet, head of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, says the ballot campaigns would act as a safeguard against cozy relationships between public employee unions and local elected officials who bargain with them. Unions say the bill is not necessary because local officials are already accountable to voters, Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Reviving Battle Creek's Heritage Tower

Battle Creek city commissioners voted last night to create a special tax district in hopes of reviving an iconic downtown building. The Heritage Tower is an 82-year-old art deco building and the upper floors of the former bank building have been condemned. Ken Tsuchiyama, Battle Creek’s city manager, fears the building may have to be demolished unless the new owner can revitalize it.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An historic landmark in downtown Battle Creek may be rehabilitated. The art deco Heritage Tower was built between 1930 and 1931 to house Battle Creek’s oldest bank.

Over the decades, the building has changed owners and names. In recent years, the building has fallen into disrepair. Its upper floors have been condemned, and it no longer has tenants.

A Grand Rapids company bought the tower earlier this year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An alternative school for at-risk kids in Battle Creek has found a new school district to oversee its academic program. .

Marshall Schools was the only district to apply to take over the academic program at the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy.

The alternative school program has operated for 14 years at the National Guard base in Battle Creek. The academy serves about 250 at-risk young people from across Michigan annually.

Field of Flight facebook page

The effect of the federal budget sequestration can be seen this week at a popular air show in Battle Creek.

Or more accurately, won’t be seen.

Since the late 1980’s, the Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon festival in Battle Creek has featured high performance military aircraft.  Not this year.

The federal budget sequestration has grounded a lot of the aircraft the U-S military routinely sends to airshows.

Flickr

If you can’t get enough of the soaring sounds of pipe organs, you’re in for a treat.

Starting Sunday and lasting through July 3, organists from five states will be attending and playing in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek for the Great Lakes regional convention of the American guild of organists called the Great Lakes Swell Organs.

Brooks Grantier, secretary of the program committee for the group, joined us today to tell us all about the festival.

For more information, visit http://agokalamazoo.org/

Listen to the full interview above.

DETROIT (AP) - The closings of three air traffic control towers in Michigan are among 149 nationwide that will be delayed.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it needs more time to deal with legal challenges to the closures announced because of government-wide spending cuts.

The planned tower shutdowns include those at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Coleman A. Young in Detroit and Sawyer International in Marquette County's Sands Township.

Japanese auto supplier set to invest $150 million in Michigan

Jan 15, 2013
DENSO International America / flickr

Japanese auto supplier Denso has announced a four-year, $1 billion expansion in North America, including a $150 million investment in Michigan.

According to plans revealed at the North American International Auto Show on Tuesday, the auto supplier could hire a combined 400 new workers at its technical center in Southfield and manufacturing plant in Battle Creek.

Nathan Borney of the Detroit Free Press has more:

Battle Creek-based cereal maker Kellogg has agreed to pay a big fine for violating the federal Clean Air act.

The violations occurred at Kellogg plants in Battle Creek and Grand Rapids.   The government cited the cereal maker for operating without necessary permits and exceeding federal emission levels.

Some of the violations date back to 1993.  The most recent violation took place in 2007.

Kellogg's

Three days ago, Battle Creek cereal maker Kellogg's announced a voluntary recall of Frosted and Unfrosted Mini-Wheats.

From Kellogg's:

We have initiated a voluntary recall due to the possible presence of fragments of flexible metal mesh from a faulty manufacturing part. Recalled products include only Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size Original and Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size with the letters KB, AP or FK before or after the Best If Used Before date.

You can see a list of UPC codes on the Kellogg's website.

The Wall Street Journal reports on how much the recall will cost the company:

Kellogg Co. K +0.54% said Wednesday it would take a charge of up to $30 million to cover the recall of Mini-Wheats cereal in the U.S. due to possible contamination by pieces of metal mesh.

Retailers have been contacted about the recall of 2.8 million packages of Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite-Size Original and Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size, which are being pulled from store shelves. Kellogg blamed the contamination on "a faulty manufacturing part," and said no injuries had been reported.

The WSJ reports the metal mesh problem comes after the company went through another recall in 2010 for a variety of cereals.

The paper reports the company is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fix its supply chain, "which suffered deep cost cuts, leaving several manufacturing facilities overworked and too few people overseeing operations."

Students took to the streets of Battle Creek this morning to protest recent depictions of violence surrounding Battle Creek Central.
battlecreekcvb / flickr

A student-led march in downtown Battle Creek this morning protested recent violence and attempts to blame the violence on Battle Creek Central High School.

Over 2,000 marchers from across Calhoun County took to the streets in support of Battle Creek Central.

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

citygirlgc.blogspot.com

Michigan cities continue to see their populations shrink.Where’s everyone going?  Texas, it seems.

The U.S. Census is out with new numbers today that show population shifts in the nation’s 715 largest cities. And the data is not good for Michigan.

Seven Michigan cities ranked at the bottom of the list of the nation’s cities with more than 50,000 residents.

According to the report, Dearborn, Detroit, Livonia, Westland and Taylor all saw their populations drop 1 percent from 2010 to 2011.

Flint, Battle Creek and Saginaw also posted sharp population declines.

These latest population losses come after Michigan posted a slight population decline between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.  

Meanwhile, Texas had eight of the top 15 fastest-growing cities during the past year, according to the U.S. Census.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Life is slowly returning to normal along the Kalamazoo River nearly two years after a broken pipeline dumped more than 800 thousand gallons of crude oil into the river.

Today,  a Calhoun County park that has been closed since the oil spill officially reopened to the public.

(Courtesy of Skyscraperpage.com)

Update 4:15pm

The power is back on at Battle Creek's Heritage Tower. 

Consumer Energy shut off electricity to the building due to a dispute with the 80 year old building's owner. 

The power outage affected wireless and 911 service in part of Battle Creek.   

The utility issued a statement after restoring power to the tower:

"Consumers Energy understands how important it is to the city of Battle Creek to have a fully functioning 911 system and cellular telephone service. Finding a solution to this issue was a priority for us, and we worked closely with the local officials and many others to find this temporary solution."

 

Original Post   4:48pm

A power outage this week could force the last tenants out of Battle Creek’s Heritage Tower. The owner apparently failed to pay the building’s utility bill.  

The 80 -year-old Heritage Tower is acknowledged as an Art Deco gem. But in recent years, various problems have left the 19-story building largely vacant.

Cheryl Beard is with Battle Creek Unlimited. She says the economic development group is willing to work with the owner to help bring the city’s iconic downtown tower back to life.

“If the owner is interested in selling…maybe we look for parties that are interested in acquiring it. If that’s what they desire,” says Beard, “Or with coming up with a plan for redevelopment and searching for tenants.”

Efforts to contact the Florida business that owns the Heritage Tower have been unsuccessful.

A Pentagon report says planned Air National Guard cuts would eliminate about 850 jobs at Michigan's Selfridge and Kellogg bases, drawing criticism from Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin and others from the state's congressional delegation.

The Detroit News quotes an Air Force report saying Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County's Harrison Township would lose 724 jobs with the relocation A-10 fighters.

It says Kellogg Air Guard Station in Battle Creek would lose a net 122 jobs.

Democrat Levin says he's asked the military to give him "the methodology and justification for these plans." He says he'll question the Air Force secretary and chief of staff in committee March 20.

Harrison Township Republican Rep. Candice Miller calls the cuts "a step in the wrong direction."

user thedeliciouslife / Flickr

The Battle Creek based Kellogg Co. is moving to make more inroads into the snack world.

The company plans to purchase the Pringles brand, according to the Associated Press:

Kellogg has popped up to buy the Pringles chip brand from Procter & Gamble for $2.7 billion after a similar deal with Diamond Foods was derailed by accounting problems and an executive shakeup at Diamond.

The addition will help Kellogg with its goal of becoming as big globally in snacks as it is in cereal. The Pringles business will add to Kellogg’s stable of snack brands that include Keebler, Cheez-It and Special K Cracker Chips.

In a statement, Kellogg President and CEO John Bryant said:

"We are excited to announce this strategic acquisition. Pringles has an extensive global footprint that catapults Kellogg to the number two position in the worldwide savory snacks category, helping us achieve our objective of becoming a truly global cereal and snacks company. We are delighted to welcome the employees of the Pringles organization to Kellogg. Their collective passion and commitment has resulted in Pringles' well-deserved acclaim as one of the most recognized brands in the world."

Kellogg says it expects to complete the Pringles acquisition during the summer.

The budget President Obama delivers to Congress this week will spend about 8 billion dollars less on the Defense Department.  That's going to directly affect two Michigan Air National Guard Bases.

Battle Creek is opting out of a new state law that requires local government employees pay more for their health insurance. And it’s not alone. The Michigan Municipal League says about a third of the cities it surveyed plan to exempt themselves from the law requiring an 80/20 split on health insurance costs.   

The law allows a temporary opt out. And there are many reasons.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Nearly 15 months after an oil spill fouled miles of the Kalamazoo River, the pipeline’s owner is submitting an updated cleanup plan to the federal Environmental Protection Agency today.  

The July 2010 pipeline break spewed more than 840 thousand gallons of Canadian tar sands crude oil into the Kalamazoo River.   Hundreds of workers have spent the past year removing contaminated soil, sucking up submerged oil and rehabbing endangered wildlife. But the work is far from over.  

A company spokesman says senior Enbridge officials spent Thursday reviewing and revising the new cleanup plan, that the EPA demanded after the company missed an August deadline.  

The new plan will detail how Enbridge plans to complete the removal of submerged oil in the Kalamazoo River,  remove oil and contaminated soil beyond the river bank and how they’ll reassess their cleanup plans in 2012.  

Enbridge officials estimate the cleanup will eventually cost the pipeline company $700 million.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The new estimate was part of paperwork Enbridge Energy filed today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.   The company says it’s revising its estimated cleanup costs, from $585 million to $700 million.  That's about a 20 percent increase.   

 “The cleanup cost to date includes some additional work around submerged oil….and those recovery operations….and just some more active remediation of the impacted environment." says Terri Larson,  an Enbridge spokeswoman,  "So there are a few factors that are at play within that expected increase.” 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Dozens of people who turned out for a public hearing in Marshall on the cleanup of last Summer’ s oil spill in the Kalamazoo River left without hearing the news they wanted to hear….that the river will soon reopen.  

More than 766 thousand gallons of crude oil have been recovered during  the past twelve months.   But there are still large deposits of  submerged oil in three different parts of the river.

This week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency plans to hold a public meeting to discuss what’s happening with the Kalamazoo River oil spill.  More than year ago, a ruptured oil pipeline spewed more than 800 thousand gallons of crude oil that eventually made its way into the Kalamazoo River. 

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