WUOMFM

Kalamazoo

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters went to the polls yesterday in several cities across the state, including Jackson, Kalamazoo and Kalkaska.

Michigan Radio’s senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Doug Tribou discuss the results.

Man in bike gear standing with bike
Photo by Chris Fry Gobble/Courtesy of Paul Gobble

In June 2016, a group of cyclists known as the Chain Gang went out for their weekly ride in Kalamazoo County. About 20 minutes later in Cooper Township, a pickup truck plowed into the group, killing five riders. In Kalamazoo County Court on Tuesday, a jury convicted the driver, Charles Pickett, Jr., of second-degree murder. Pickett was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.

Charles Pickett Jr.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office

A jury in Kalamazoo found Charles Pickett Jr. guilty of second-degree murder today. 

The Battle Creek man was under the influence of depressants when he crashed his pickup truck into nine cyclists in June 2016. Five died and four were injured a result of the crash. 

Pickett, who knowingly consumed a handful of pills hours before the crash, could spend the rest of his life in prison, but he has yet to be sentenced. 

Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr

The trial for the Battle Creek man who allegedly hit and killed five cyclists with his pickup truck continued today. One witness says he was struggling mentally on the day of the incident.

Charles Pickett Jr. currently faces five counts of second degree murder for the June 2016 accident which left five dead and four injured. Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of muscle relaxers at the time of the crash.

cyclists on road
pxhere

In June 2016, a group of cyclists known as the Chain Gang headed out for a ride in Kalamazoo County. About 20 minutes later in Cooper Township, a pickup truck plowed into the group, killing five of the riders.

Yesterday, the criminal trial for the driver of that truck, Charles Pickett, Jr. began.

Michigan Radio’s Bryce Huffman is covering the trial. He spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou.

The city of Kalamazoo
Mxobe

The city of Kalamazoo has made headlines with its unique Kalamazoo Promise: anonymous donors pledging to pay up to 100 percent of college tuition for the kids who graduate from the city's public schools.

Here comes another effort: Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo. The vision? Turn Kalamazoo into a community where no adult or child is left behind because of poverty or inequality of opportunity.

The Fountain of the Pioneers in 1940
Mamie L. Austin / Kalamazoo Public Library

Kalamazoo's Fountain of the Pioneers will be removed later this year.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the Kalamazoo City Commission voted 5-1 early Tuesday following a city commission meeting that began Monday night on the future of the Bronson Park fountain.  

SCREENGRAB - NEWS4JAX / WWW.NEWS4JAX.COM

After 17 students were killed in a Florida school last week, some high school students in Kalamazoo decided they needed to do something.

Under the banner of “Students Fighting Guns Since Adults Won’t,” eight students drafted a petition and put it up on Change.org, a popular petition website.

user: jdurham / morguefile

The Kalamazoo Public Schools are closed until Monday.

The district is calling off school today and Friday because of widespread illness among students and staff.

A message on the district website says that people are experiencing "flu, flu-like, or gastrointestinal symptoms" and the schools will be cleaned before they re-open next week.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Some West Michigan residents are being advised to keep their water running this winter.

Kalamazoo and Muskegon Heights issued frozen water advisories this week.

There are lead service lines in older communities across Michigan. Because of their age and population size, it’s fair to say the bulk of Michigan’s lead service lines are in cities in Southeast Michigan.

I spent a lot of time trying to determine which Detroit suburbs have lead service lines and how many. I wanted to see how far out into the suburbs lead was found in underground water pipes.

It was relatively easy (albeit an expensive FOIA bill near $2000 for these "public documents") to track down which communities were testing lead lines. But figuring out how many lead pipes were in each community is nearly impossible.

Jim Roberts / National Register of Historic Places

Officials in Kalamazoo have agreed to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, but the city hasn't decided what to do with a statue that some say celebrates the forced removal of Native Americans.

Charles Pickett Jr.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office

The Michigan Court of Appeals will not hear an appeal of second-degree murder charges against a man involved in a fatal bicycle crash last year.

Chief Clerk Jerome Zimmer wrote July 28 that Charles Pickett Jr.'s leave to appeal was denied "for failure to persuade the Court of the need for immediate appellate review."

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Kalamazoo is the latest Michigan city to look to expand medical marijuana offerings.

The city will have two public meetings next week to discuss proposed ordinance changes that would allow commercial medical marijuana shops in some parts of town. The changes are allowed under a set of state laws passed last year

Clyde Robinson is the city attorney.

"None of this has been adopted yet by the city commission," he says. "So we’re looking for input into what we’re going to be recommending to the city commission."

Kalamazoo
Public domain

Kalamazoo County plans to issue its own local ID cards starting next year. County commissioners narrowly approved the plan Wednesday.

The county estimates 27,000 residents currently don't have photo IDs. Many business and community leaders back the plan to create new local ID cards for county residents. But others opposed the plan because the cards could be available to some undocumented immigrants.  

County Commissioner John Gisler was one of those opposed. He says he doesn’t agree with current immigration law.

Bicylists
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost a year since one of the nation’s worst bicycling accidents. A pickup truck driver struck nine people riding just north of Kalamazoo on June 7. Five of the friends in the “chain gang” were killed.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the board passed a resolution Tuesday in opposition to Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 pipeline. The resolution passed on a 7-3 vote.

15 other counties, 24 cities and 26 townships throughout the state have also voted in favor of shutting down Line 5.

The more than 60-year-old pipeline travels through Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It was created to be a safer and more efficient way to transport crude oil.

Lead pipes
Mitch Barrie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - More than 200 lead water pipes will be removed from a southwest Michigan city this summer. MLive (http://bit.ly/2oU9UII ) reports the Kalamazoo City Commission approved a nearly $850,000 construction contract on Monday with Rieth-Riley Construction Co. to replace the lines.

The city's 2017 Water Capital Improvement Budget will fund the service line replacement project. Public Services Director James Baker says Kalamazoo plans to replace almost 500 lead service lines during the 2017 construction season. Baker says on average the city has removed 100 lead pipes per year. 

Downtown Kalamazoo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kalamazoo will present design concepts and a strategy for the future of its downtown at a community open house tonight. The city is setting aside $10 million to spend on community-building projects over the next ten years.

The plan, called Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, started last year. The Kalamazoo City Council held a planning session Monday night to hear ideas for how to spend the money, which will be funded through a non-profit foundation.

A storm
Flickr/mdprovost

Flooding in southwestern Michigan has closed several roadways and swamped the home of the Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team ,while severe thunderstorms caused damage in the Upper Peninsula.

The Kalamazoo River is one of several across Michigan's Lower Peninsula where flood warnings or advisories are in effect.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

New test results show lead levels in Kalamazoo’s water system have dropped.

The federal limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Last time the city tested, in 2014, Kalamazoo’s lead level was 13 parts per billion. Now it's down to 4 ppb.

13 ppb was close enough to worry Shannan Deater, Kalamazoo’s Environmental Services Programs Manager. She says some of the higher lead results in 2014 weren’t really a good, representative sample. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo City Commissioners voted Monday night in support of a public-private partnership they hope will stabilize the budget, lower property taxes and fund “aspirational projects” as early as next year.

The donation comes from two local businessmen and philanthropists. Both have ties to the Kalamazoo-based medical device manufacturing giant Stryker Corporation. One is heir to the Upjohn Company.

They’re offering the major donation to help stabilize Kalamazoo’s budget. The city was considering an income tax to help close a deficit.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell
Kalamazoo Public Library

Kalamazoo has struggled with balancing its budget, and finding enough money to invest in new programs.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell wants to accept a private donation of $70 million to help balance the city’s budget, and partner with those donors to set up a foundation where other philanthropists can donate even more money.

Then, the city would be able to lean on those donated funds to pay for city services in the future.

Courtesy Photo / Hoekstra True Value Hardware

People are flocking to a family owned hardware store that’s become a staple in Kalamazoo.

Hoekstra’s True Value Hardware is closing after nearly 150 years in business.

Co-owner Phil Ippel says he’s looking forward to more golfing, traveling and volunteering in the community. He’s even got a river cruise booked for next year.

“It’ll be a few months here, some hard work to get it down where we can do that,” he chuckled.  

Downtown Kalamazoo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Last week, City Commissioner Matt Milcarek joined Stateside to talk about his reservations about a $70 million gift and future private money that the city of Kalamazoo received to help fund city services. It’s called the Foundation for Excellence.

Milcarek expressed his concern about whether city government should be so reliant on private donations, and whether city employees would feel answerable to the people and their elected representatives or to the wealthy donors on whom the city might depend.

Other commission members support accepting the gift and the additional hundreds of millions of dollars to follow. David Anderson is one of them and he joined Stateside to explain his view.

Downtown Kalamazoo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

As soon as next week, the details of the Foundation for Excellence's $70 million gift will be presented to the Kalamazoo City Commission

The city manager and the mayor have been working with the donors to determine how it will work. 

Some city commissioners have been expressing reservations about the gift since it was announced this summer. Matt Milcarek​ is one of them.

Courtesy Photo / Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

Raymond Harvey has become a familiar face in Kalamazoo. He’s been conducting the state’s third largest professional orchestra for 18 years.

For the past two years, Harvey has taught music at an opera center at the University of Houston. In a letter to the orchestra board this week, Harvey said teaching has always been his calling.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Bicyclists in Kalamazoo are asking city leaders to adopt local laws to help safeguard them against drivers.

The push came after a man struck nine people riding bikes just north of Kalamazoo back in June. 

Charles Pickett Jr. allegedly took prescription drugs before the crash, killing five and injuring four other bicyclists.

Kalamazoo
Public domain

Kalamazoo is getting $70 million from philanthropists and others that will be used to create a foundation to help solve the city's budget woes, and cut property taxes.

The Kalamazoo City Commission decided Thursday to move forward with the idea of creating the Foundation for Excellence.

Officials expect the foundation would be fully funded by 2020, so revenue from investments would be available long-term.

Charles Pickett Jr.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office

A prosecutor says a man accused of plowing his pickup truck into a group of Kalamazoo-area bicyclists, killing five, was under the influence of drugs.

The disclosure was made Wednesday as new charges were filed against Charles Pickett Jr., who already faces second-degree murder charges in the June 7 crash in Kalamazoo County.

Authorities say the bicyclists were riding in a group on a rural road in Cooper Township when Pickett struck them.

Pages