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Kalamazoo

Derek Smith
Sarah Leeson / Michigan Radio

When you think of a mandolin, you may think of Europe during the Renaissance or bluegrass music from the South. But it turns out the mandolin actually has roots right here in Michigan.

This past weekend, mandolin enthusiasts descended on Marshall, Michigan for the Marshall Mandolin Summit. Visitors spent the weekend sharing their love for the instrument and learning under world-renowned mandolin players like Don Julin, author of Mandolin for Dummiesand Mike Marshall (no relation to the town).

Jim Roberts / National Register of Historic Places

The board of the Native American Heritage Fund (NAHF) recently convened to approve its first ever grant recipients.

The grants will go towards defraying the costs of projects to remove imagery offensive to Native Americans in Battle Creek, Belding, and Kalamazoo.

MDEQ map
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

In response to concerns about groundwater contamination, the city of Kalamazoo told Richland Township residents Wednesday night it could extend its water system to the township. 

This map shows areas of concern in the Oscoda area.  PFAs has been slowly spreading for the former U.S. Air Force base for decades.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several Michigan members of Congress are sending a letter to the Trump administration requesting stronger safeguards for dangerous chemicals in drinking water.

A recent Harvard study found six million Americans are drinking water contaminated with a group of chemicals,  per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, better known as PFAS.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of liver damage and pregnancy problems, among other health issues.

narcan kit
zamboni-man / FLICKR - https://flic.kr/p/mjCzqS

The opioid epidemic reaches every corner of life in our state.

That includes libraries, where administrators and staff are figuring out the best response if a patron appears to be under the influence of drugs, or potentially experiencing an opioid overdose.

Kalamazoo Ladies Library reading room
Courtesy of the Kalamazoo Ladies Library

The nation's oldest documented structure built for women, by women, was a lending library right here in Michigan. 

The Kalamazoo Ladies Library Association (LLA), loosely formed in 1852, has been holding meetings in its historic red brick Venetian Gothic style building since 1879.

Marge Kars, a former president of the organization, joined Stateside to talk about its history as the city’s first lending library.

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 - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

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.

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