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Kalamazoo

Charles Picket 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.

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

One year ago today, nine bicyclists headed out for a 28-mile ride in Kalamazoo County. They were part of the Chain Gang – a group that has been organizing weekly rides since 1999. 

Person on bicycle riding in an urban area.
Thomas Hawk / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the crash in Kalamazoo County that left five bicyclists dead and four others seriously injured. The riders were all members of the Chain Gang, a group that organizes weekly rides in and around Kalamazoo. 

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.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines run under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
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 Picket 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.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Lance Armstrong plans to be in Kalamazoo for a "Finishing the Ride" event in honor of the five cyclists killed when they were hit by a pickup truck.

Armstrong told the Detroit Free Press  the collision on June 7 in Kalamazoo County's Cooper Township, 160 miles from Chicago, is the worst he's seen and he's not sure he's emotionally ready for the ride. Armstrong says a fear of being struck by a vehicle is shared by all cyclists.

Armstrong plans to join Kalamazoo-area cyclists in a 28.5-mile ride Tuesday from Kalamazoo to Plainwell and back.

A bike painted white in memory of a cyclist
Matthew Peoples / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan prosecutor has charged 50-year-old Charles Edward Pickett Jr. with five counts of second degree murder after a pickup truck crashed into a group of bicyclists and killed five people.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting also charged him Thursday with four counts of reckless driving resulting in serious injury to four others near Kalamazoo.

The bicyclists were part of a group that called themselves "The Chain Gang," who ranged in age from 40 to 74.

A road sign says "Share the road."
Flicker user Richard Drdul / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The biking community of Kalamazoo turned out last evening for a five mile silent ride, honoring the cyclists hit by an alleged drunk driver. Five people were killed and four were injured.

 

“The ride was part of what will be…a gradual healing process,” said Paul Selden, director of road safety for the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club.

Dustin Dwyer

Just before noon, a woman rode past with multicolored carnations pinned to her handlebars. She kneeled briefly at the site on N. Westnedge Ave. north of Kalamazoo where on Tuesday nine people were struck, five of them struck dead, four still recovering from injuries. The woman left her flowers and a note, then moved on without speaking.

Many came to the site to pay their respects Wednesday. Many struggled to find the words to describe what had happened here. But they came anyway. The tributes and memorials grew among the lush grass as the day wore on. 

Meg Zapalowski was one of a group of bicyclists who prepared "ghost bikes" -- stripped down cycles, painted white, one for each of those who died in Tuesday's tragedy. 

"The cycling community in Kalamazoo is not just a community, it's a family," she said. "And that's just how we roll." 

Authorities say they were searching for the driver of a blue pickup truck in the minutes before he plowed into a group of adults bicycling near a western Michigan Park.

  Kalamazoo Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said at a news conference Tuesday night that five of the nine bicyclists struck were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash in Cooper Township.

Flickr user C.J. Richey / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Within 48 hours of the tragic shootings this February, the Kalamazoo area community responded. Individuals and business within the community began to give money to help. But how could they make sure their money was being used most effectively?

 

Women guitar makers scratched from Gibson history

May 25, 2016
John Thomas

In the summer of 2013, we spoke with law professor and music journalist John Thomas about the Kalamazoo Gals on Stateside.

Thomas had uncovered the story of women who built some 9,000 guitars at the Gibson Guitar headquarters in Kalamazoo during World War II.

This discovery clashed with Gibson’s official assertion that they built no instruments during the war.

He tells the story in his book, Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII.

In the three years since we last spoke, the story has taken some interesting turns. Today Thomas and Kalamazoo Gal Irene Stearns joined us again on Stateside to talk about it.

After criss-crossing the country for more than three decades, and spending 15 years as part of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Paula Poundstone has gone from Greyhound bus terminal cafeterias in the 1980s to the Comedy Hall of Fame. Now, she’s back in Michigan.

The American Goldfinch
Rodney Campbell

You might be aware that the Great Lakes region is a major migratory bird flyway.

What you might not know is that hundreds of millions of those birds will crash into windows and die.

Sarah Reding is part of a movement that’s trying to help reduce that problem. Reding is the vice president of conservation at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

Screenshot from GoFundMe

Just a few weeks after the Kalamazoo shooting, Gene Kopf, the father of a survivor of the tragedy, asked the Democratic presidential candidates in their debate in Flint on March 6 how they would make decrease gun violence in the country.

His daughter, Abigail Kopf, was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Kalamazoo on Feb. 20. Though the four women she was with died that day, she is alive and recovering in the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.

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