Kalamazoo

Culture
5:20 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Nearly century-old community agency in Kalamazoo fights to stay open

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.

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Law
4:35 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Michigan communities marking National Night Out this week

A clown makes balloon animals and flowers for two children at Flint's National Night Out event
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Communities across Michigan will be marking National Night Out this week.

National Night Out is intended to encourage people to get out of their homes and meet their neighbors.

Flint is holding a community party downtown today. 

Flint community leaders hope this week’s National Night Out will help them battle the city’s crime problem.   Flint has recorded three dozen homicides this year.  

Mayor Dayne Walling hopes events like National Night Out will help local police and neighborhood watch groups work more closely together.

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Environment & Science
12:21 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Bell's Brewery files suit against Enbridge and Comstock Commerce Park developer

Bell's Amber Ale
edwin.bautista Flickr

Bell’s Brewery has filed a lawsuit against Enbridge and the developer of Comstock Commerce Park.

The suit concerns the dredging plans for the Kalamazoo River. Dredging the river is a part of an ongoing effort to clean up the oil spill that happened three years ago.

Residents and business owners – such as Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery – have expressed concern about the potential pollution that will be caused by the dredging effort.

Ursula Zerilli of MLive had the following report on the dredging operation:

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue July 16, 2013

EPA delays decision on 'Mount PCB,' cleanup continues at another site

The EPA's Paul Ruesch describing where current work is underway in Portage Creek. Sarah Reding (right) is VP of Conservation Stewardship at Kalamazoo Nature Center.

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

For decades, paper mills dumped waste into the Kalamazoo River. The waste contains polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.  

People can be exposed to PCBs by eating fish from the river. The chemicals can cause cancer, and other health effects.

The biggest concentration of the waste is a 1.5-million-cubic-yard pile in a residential area in Kalamazoo, nicknamed Mount PCB.

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency says it will release a feasibility study of the options for the pile by September. For a little perspective, this study was supposed to come out as far back as April 2011.

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Offbeat
2:38 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

These are the coolest cell phone towers you will ever see

This is not just a really, really tall tree.
Robert Voit

A new cell phone tower was erected near a busy intersection in Portage, Michigan, but passersby probably won't recognize it. 

That's because the 150-foot tower has been disguised as a pine tree. The pole has brown "bark" and covered with fake bark, and the antennae have been concealed to look like pine branches. 

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Politics & Government
11:24 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Proposed ordinance would ban various kinds of discrimination in Kalamazoo Township

LGBT rainbow flag flapping in the sun
user Marlith Flickr

Tonight Kalamazoo Township’s board of trustees will consider an ordinance that would protect people from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, among a number of other factors, including:

“..The actual or perceived race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, height, weight, marital status, familial status, citizenship, physical or mental ability, gender identity, sexual orientation or genetic information of another person."

State law already protects from discrimination based on factors like a person’s sex, age, race or religion.

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Arts & Culture
1:42 pm
Sat July 6, 2013

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts leader set to retire

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts executive director has announced his retirement after 23 years, but will remain on the job until a successor is hired.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that it could take up to a year to replace Jim Bridenstine. He is an art historian who earned his bachelor's degree from The College of Holy Cross in 1967 and a master's in the History of Art from George Washington University in 1975. He completed Harvard University's Institute of Arts Administration program in 1978.

Stateside
5:12 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Pipe organ festival hits Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

A pipe organ.
Flickr

An interview with Brooks Grantier, secretary of the program committee for Great Lakes Swell Organs.

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.

Law
12:00 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Supreme Court to hear case which directly affects Panera Bread workers in Michigan

Last Friday, union picketers walked the line outside a Panera Bread outlet in Kalamazoo
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a dispute between President Obama and congressional Republicans which is directly affecting the lives of Michigan workers.

At issue is the president’s authority to make "recess" appointments.

Recess appointments are made when the president fills a governmental position while the Congress is in recess.

In this case, President Obama filled three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board without getting his appointees confirmed by Congress.

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Environment & Science
9:33 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Kalamazoo rallies to pressure EPA to remove hazardous paper mill waste

More than a hundred people meet up for the rally at a Goodwill building in Kalamazoo. 1.5 million cubic yards of waste sits behind a barbed wire fence in the background.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

More than a hundred people, a dozen strollers and a few dogs lined up and marched about halfway around the Allied landfill site in Kalamazoo Wednesday night chanting – “What do we want? Cleanup! When do we want it? Now!”

It isn’t a typical landfill. It’s where a paper mill dumped decades-worth of waste that’s laced with cancer-causing chemicals.

Everyone here wants the pile gone. They don’t care if it’s the most expensive option and the company that owned the site went bankrupt.

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The Environment Report
8:11 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Kalamazoo residents struggle with EPA over "Mount PCB"

Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition Executive Director Gary Wager points to the 1.5 million cubic yards of paper mill waste neighbors have dubbed Mount PCB.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

People in Kalamazoo are rallying to get rid of a major dump site that contains cancer causing waste.

Imagine decades’ worth of wood pulp and grey clay waste from the paper mill industry. There are 1.5 million cubic yards of it and it’s laced with polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs.

Now, plop it in the middle of a neighborhood.

Sarah Hill lives a little more than a mile away from what neighbors have dubbed "Mount PCB."

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Education
8:31 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Kalamazoo Promise executive director stepping down

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

One of the founders of the Kalamazoo Promise is stepping down after five years with the education scholarship program.

Janice Brown has served as the Kalamazoo Promise’s executive director since 2008. Before that, she was the superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Politics & Government
3:09 pm
Sun May 5, 2013

Michigan voters will be casting ballots on Tuesday

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

School bond issues dominate the ballot in most of Michigan.

For example, Kalamazoo voters are being asked to decide on a $62 million bond request. If voters give their OK, the district would spend most of the money on maintaining city school buildings.

There are a few elected offices on the ballot of note.

In Genesee County, voters are picking a new state senator. Former senator John Gleason stepped down after winning the Genesee County clerk’s election last fall.

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Environment & Science
11:49 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Kalamazoo mayor blasts EPA's Superfund cleanup plan

The location of the Allied Paper Superfund site in Kalamazoo.
EPA Google

Kalamazoo officials say they're not happy about a federal plan for dealing with contaminated soil in the city's Edison neighborhood.

The site is part of an 80-mile-long area included in the Superfund cleanup program. Paper mills that occupied the site for a century left behind 1.5 million yards of soil tainted with toxic PCBs, some of which are already in a local landfill.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed spending $36 million to dig up more soil, add it to the landfill and cover it.

MLive.com's Emily Monacelli covered a public meeting held on the cleanup plan last night. Kalamazoo's Mayor, Bobby Hopewell, says the EPA's plan isn't enough:

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell told the crowd the Kalamazoo City Commission would stand behind them and protect them. The waste doesn't belong in a neighborhood, he said.

"The bottom line is we stopped them once and we're going to stop them again," Hopewell said of the EPA, referencing a past plan to dump PCB-laden soil from Plainwell on the Allied site. 

"This is unacceptable," Hopewell said. "It's poison in the middle of the neighborhood. It's unacceptable."

Public Services Director Bruce Merchant says more should be done to protect an aquifer beneath the site that supplies 40 percent of the city's drinking water.

The EPA says removing all contaminated soil and taking it to another landfill would cost $336 million.

Environment & Science
1:40 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Kalamazoo leaders unhappy with EPA plan to clean toxic chemicals from old paper mills

Allied Landfill near Alcott and Cork Streets.
David Kinsey Creative Commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to clean up toxic chemicals along an 80 mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River. But Kalamazoo city leaders aren’t happy with the federal agency's proposed plan.

The effort is focused on cleaning up toxic chemicals, known as PCBs, left behind from several paper mills.

The EPA wants to consolidate the material and cap it so water cannot get in.

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Offbeat
2:33 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

With winter caps, Michiganders celebrate the tapping of a summer beer

Oberon beer. A summer favorite in Michigan.
Steven Depolo Flickr

It might not feel like it outside, but warmer temperatures are around the corner.

MLive has A LOT (including live coverage from Bell's Brewery) on the release of one of Michigan's favorite brews:

At least 64 Oberon kegs are ready to be tapped at Bell’s and at least four ‘Oberon Kings and Queens’ were crowned at midnight keg-tapping parties across the state. The brewery opened early on Monday for the event. 

Oberon is a seasonal ale in most markets, but is sold year-round in Florida, Arizona and Puerto Rico. The summer beer is fermented with Bell's yeast, spicy hops and fruity aromas, giving it a light malty taste, most commonly complemented with an orange peel.

The opening day is held at the end of March every year, to coincide with the start of the baseball season and more sunshine.

Stateside
4:57 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Is the Kalamazoo Promise worth keeping?

The Kalamazoo Promise has an impact inside and outside of the classroom
courtesy: Mott High School

Students who attend a public Kalamazoo high school for their entire high school career and live in the district during those four years have the opportunity to attend a Michigan college or University for free.

This, of course, is old news.

The Kalamazoo Promise was announced in November 2005 and has since proven to be one of the most groundbreaking educational programs in the state.

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Politics & Government
12:28 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Kalamazoo city commission will trim list of search firms hoping to find the city's next city manager

The door to the Kalamazoo City Manager's office
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo’s search for a new city manager takes another step this evening.

The city commission is expected tonight to narrow the list of search firms that have applied to aid Kalamazoo in finding a new city manager

Kalamazoo’s current city manager, Kenneth Collard, is among dozens of city employees taking an early retirement package.

11 search firms applied to the city to conduct the search for Collard’s replacement.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell says there is a long list of qualifications the commission would like the next city manager to have. 

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Politics & Government
12:20 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Kalamazoo City Commission approves new city budget, including fee increases

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell (right) and city manager Kenneth Collard listen as a city resident speaks during last night's city commission meeting
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo city residents will be paying a little more to the city.

The city commission approved a new city budget last night that includes significant fee increases.

Last night, Kalamazoo city commissioners voted 5 to 2 to approve the  144 million dollar city budget.   

Vice Mayor Hannah McKinney voted for the budget.   She called the budget plan “scary”, as the city continues to reduce its workforce.

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Politics & Government
7:20 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Kalamazoo City Commission votes on budget plan tonight

City hall in Kalamazoo, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Kalamazoo City Commission is scheduled to vote this evening on the city budget.

The 144 million dollar budget plan includes fee increases, most notably a one percent administrative fee on city tax collections.  

The city has also been trimming its workforce through early retirements and eliminating other positions.

The changes are intended to help off-set a drop in city property tax revenues.

City commissioners gave tentative approval to the budget plan last month.

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