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WMU teaches financial markets in new Trading Room

In the main corridor of Schneider Hall on the Western Michigan University campus students can now experience something of Wall Street.

Stock prices scroll across an electronic ticker. Bloomberg and Morningstar terminals provide real-time information as the market moves. And world news updates can be seen on large screens at the front of the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room.

"This space transforms what we are able to do with our students in terms of teaching about the financial markets," says Dr. Devrim Yaman, chair of the Department of Finance and Commercial Law.

Yaman says the U.S. Department of Labor predicts employment in investment and related fields will expand 25 percent by 2020, so it is critical that WMU fully educate students in the wide range of financial assets available for trade and the globalization of securities markets.

The Student Managed Investment Fund, which has served as a large cap manager of a portion of WMU Foundation Funds since 2009 is just one of the classes that will make use of the Trading Room. The fund is managed by a select group of business students and has more than doubled in the last five years, reaching a current value of $1 million.

The room is a gift of Greenleaf Trust and the university says it is very grateful to them for making the space a reality.

"The gift of this trading room allows us to improve the student experience in so many vital ways," says Dr. Kay Palan, dean of the Haworth College of Business. "The facility improves student readiness for careers in the financial sector through an enriched classroom experience, and it allows students to heighten their analytical skills."

The Haworth College of Business will host a grand opening celebration of the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room at 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27.  Campus and community members are invited to tour the facility and learn more about it. Those interested in attending should RSVP by calling (269) 387-6059 or by send email here.

Source: Stacey Markin, Western Michigan University

Colored ticker board on black, Copyright AshDesign

Indoor golf center swings into action in St. Joseph

The chill in the air doesn't have to mean it's time to put the golf clubs away now that SWM Indoor Golf has gone into business.

The recreation center which owners describe as the area's first indoor golf center officially opens Oct. 17. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. that day golfers of all levels will be able to compete for prizes in a series of challenges such as closest-to-pin, long drive, putting, and bunker shot.

SWM Indoor Golf  at 600 Langley Avenue in St. Joseph offers 2,700 square feet  state-of-the-art golf simulators where golfers of all ages can play a round of golf or work on their swing on the virtual driving range.

Richard Askren and Michael Alexander, both from Coloma, and avid golfers, developed the idea for their new business several years ago. They wanted to create a facility where golfers could play the game all year long, but Askren and Alexander were not sure how to go about making it happen.

They turned to Cornerstone Alliance for assistance. "We knew that our idea was a good one, but weren’t completely certain on how to implement the logistics to make it happen; they were such a great resource, and this experience would have been much more difficult without their expertise and guidance," says Askren.

Plans for leagues and lessons are in the works. So are plans offer a portable golf simulator for rent to be used off site.

Golfers will be able to reserve time on the simulators to play a round of virtual golf or practice their swing beginning Oct. 19.

"Golf is such a popular sport, and with so many great courses in our area, we wanted to develop a space where golfers of all skill levels could hone their game throughout the year, and not have to risk losing momentum due to our sometimes long and cold winters," says Askren.

Source: Susan Cox, Cornerstone Alliance

Hilton Garden Inn celebrates recent opening

In mid-August, the Hilton Garden Inn of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph opened its doors. Now the grand opening of the $10 million property is being celebrated with an official ribbon cutting.

The hotel is located just off  Interstate-94 and is in close proximity to LECO, Whirlpool Headquarters, DC Cook Plant, Bosch, University of Notre Dame, Lake Michigan College and Andrews University. Celebration! Cinema is also nearby.

The hotel features 106 rooms, including guest rooms and suites. The hotel also offers a large meeting space offering more than 4,200 square feet of meeting space, located in the Chateau Ballroom.

Each guest room has Hilton's bedding featuring fresh, white duvets and linens. A desk, with an ergonomic desk chair, a 42-inch LCD TV and an in-room "hospitality center" with a mini fridge, microwave and coffee also are found.

The hotel offers many features including:

• complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel;

• a 24-hour business center with Print Spots remote printing;

• state-of-the-art fitness center;

• and an indoor pool.

The Garden Grille and Bar offers a full cooked-to-order breakfast, dinner, cocktails, and evening room service.

Sam Patel and AJ Jariam are co-owners of the hotel which is one of 564 other Hilton’s throughout the world.

The ribbon cutting will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, at Hilton Garden Inn, 1300 Cinema Way, Benton Harbor.

Sources: Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce, Hilton Garden Hotel


Bell's Eccentric Cafe to grow its size and menu

Last week Bell's Brewery announced it was looking for a lot of good people to join its operations. This week it announced one of the places it will be needing those people is at Bell's Eccentric Cafe, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.

The Eccentric Cafe, which currently is at 2,048 square feet (excluding the atrium, patio, garden and entertainment space) will triple in size. It will occupy more than 6,600 square feet as space now used for storage and warehouse space is converted, opening room for an additional 130 seats.

The space was part of Bell's original brewery and once a full service gas station.

The company's high quality beer is the inspiration for the expanded gastro pub. "Our goal is to match and even enhance the high quality beer that is already being served with high quality food and service," says Jason Reicherts, Bell's director of retail.

Both the dining and kitchens areas of the Eccentric Cafe will be revamped.

The new dining space will feature a gas fireplace and a mosaic tiled floor. The bar inside the original cafe will be expanded into space where the current 150-square-foot kitchen now stands, adding room for more seating.

The number of employees for the cafe is expected to rise to about 120 and an employee area for them is part of the plans.  

Reicherts says there will be ongoing training for staff as they learn the latest news in the craft beer industry and about food and beer pairings.

The new menu, which Bell’s President and Founder Larry Bell and kitchen management are creating together, is still being developed. Early indications are it will feature fish and chips, fresh ground burgers (made of more than beef), unique salads, smoked meats, steamed mussels and eggs prepared in a variety of ways. Food will be locally sourced whenever possible. Organic and non-GMO foods also will be sought out. 

Construction has begun on the new kitchen and dining room. Local architect Nelson Nave, structural engineer Nehil-Sivak and construction company Maxwell & Associates are all working on the project.

As work proceeds there may be some inconveniences for customers "but the end result will be more than worth it," says Reicherts. "We hope our customers will be patient with us as we work to bring them an even better experience here at the Eccentric Cafe."

Source: Josh Smith, Bell's Brewery Inc.

Changes ahead for Michigan Avenue and Stadium Drive corridor

On the screen is a tangle of red arrows. These are the various lanes of traffic on Stadium Drive from Lovell to Michigan Avenue. And the way they overlap and curve around one another is one of the reasons pedestrians and bicyclists find those intersections so treacherous.

At a recent public meeting at the Raddison, the culmination of nearly a week's worth of analysis and community input on the Stadium Drive and Michigan Avenue corridors in Kalamazoo, a plan emerged that untangled the traffic lanes, created intersections with right angles and added green spaces. (See slides 26 and 27 here.) 

It was just one of the ideas in the early steps of creating what are known as Complete Streets: Streets that are designed to be safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. The Complete Street concept has been promoted in Kalamazoo since 2013.

Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3 city leaders and transportation professionals from Michigan Department of Transportation and consultants took a look at Stadium Drive and Michigan Avenue from Western Michigan University to the Kalamazoo River.

A bike ride with Mayor Bobby Hopewell drew 40 participants, a pub crawl attracted 25, times when people could drop in to let planners know their thoughts on the transportation needs of the traffic corridor drew 110, there were 230 face-to-face interactions took place with planners, and another 840 people left comments on a map. Altogether the input of more than 1,275 people was collected as part of the process.

When it was all evaluated, residents told the transportation officials what they wanted was balance, rather than a traffic corridor that accommodated primarily motorized vehicles. They asked for solutions that would reduce the crossing distance pedestrians must travel, create more connections along the route for bicycles, and improve safety for people with disabilities or those who are otherwise vulnerable. Residents were looking for improved transit operations and friendlier service. For cars and trucks they requested improved safety options.

To see comment that people made regarding proposed changes to the Stadium Drive and Michigan Avenue study area please click here.

At the public meeting to show the community the direction plans are taking based on this input, Jeff Chamberlain, deputy city manager of Strategic Planning and Administration for the City of Kalamazoo, told the crowd of about 100 gathered to see the plans that he knows that many plans to improve Stadium Drive and Michigan Avenue have been made in the past and "this one feels different."

Chamberlain said the plan felt more solid than those previously discussed.

Jason Latham, Southwest Region Planner for MDOT, told the group that during the planning process ideas were shared back and forth without the territoriality that often takes place in such settings. "No one was saying, 'That's my road.' It was a network of streets that they all took ownership of together. It was fun to be a part of."

Latham cautioned that  presenting the draft plans Oct. 3 did not mean change would be coming quickly. The next step would be for plan to go to MDOT designers, and that process can take two years. There also is currently no funding in place to make the proposed changes, though officials said during the session that Kalamazoo is the kind of community that finds a way to pull behind a good idea.

Josh Sikich of Alta Planning and Design presented the proposed changes for the route that started at around the intersection of Oliver Street and Stadium and continued on to Michigan Avenue and Kings Highway. At several points during the presentation the audience was asked its reaction to the plans.

Sikich indicated that the No. 1 comment received was that people wanted to see safer crossings, especially for pedestrians. Currently, there are not ways for people to cross safely and it creates a barrier that residents want to see removed.

In response a side path along Stadium Drive for pedestrians and bicycles, that also provides roadway beautification, streetscape enhancements, a better roadway configuration and a plan that treated bicyclists fairly has been suggested.

Though some people wanted an under- or overpass along Stadium, Sikich indicated that was not being considered because they are not used. "People want to be accommodated at street level. If you put them above or below traffic they are at a disadvantage."

A roundabout at Stadium and Michigan also is not being recommended, Sikich said. If one were put in place it would have to be very wide and it would not address the need to help pedestrians through the intersection.

Converting Michigan Avenue from a one-way to a two-way street also was not part of the proposal. "We can provide the benefits of what people want with a one-way street," Sikich said.

What is proposed includes the elimination of the "hodge-podge" of lanes between Oliver and Michigan Avenue. "We would straighten it out and use right angles that work for everyone." A lot of green space also would be added along the corridor. "There is so much space used for pavement. It's not needed and it's only being used so people can weave in and out."

A new gateway for Kalamazoo College, which the school's Greg Diment endorsed wholeheartedly after the meeting, also is proposed.

As the corridor continues onto Michigan Avenue, five 12-foot lanes for traffic would be reduced to one 12-foot lane, three 11 foot lanes a 3-foot green space, a 10-foot cycle track and a 10-foot sidewalk. Parking spaces are proposed on both sides of the roadway.

As the roadway narrows between Church and Rose, four lanes of traffic would be reduced to three. The track for bicycles would turn north on Rose and east on Water Street where it would connect with the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.

The wider sidewalks from Rose to the Kalamazoo mall would provide what people are looking for in urban areas: places to eat outdoors, and cafes with outdoor seating, places that can accommodate art work. "Fun things that need sidewalk width," Sikich said.

He described Michigan Avenue east of Portage Street as a "great street" that would benefit from some aesthetic treatments. "We want to build off what is already there."

Those in attendance were asked to rate the plan as proposed and using electronic devices, 85 percent indicated they believed a balanced plan had been created.

MDOT's Latham said that though there currently is no funding for the Stadium Drive and Michigan Avenue project: "We want to keep the momentum going." The MDOT planners will not go away, he added. "The process is a long process to make sure we get a good project." 

Kathy Jennings is the managing editor of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. She is a freelance writer and editor.

Bell's Brewery schedules career day, seeks 100 new employees

Multiple expansion projects for Bell's Brewery, Inc. mean the company is looking for lots of new employees.

Now Bell's has partnered with EmploymentGroup to host the company's first career fair. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Comstock Brewery, 8938 Krum Ave. in Galesburg.

Representatives from Bell’s production and leadership teams will be at the event to answer questions about what it is like to work at Bell’s and meet with prospective employees.

Onsite interviews will be conducted for more than 100 full- and part-time positions open at all of Bell's locations. The company says 20 positions will be filled immediately in such areas as maintenance, packaging, shipping and receiving, facilities, housekeeping and internet technology. Hiring for Bell's Eccentric Cafe Kitchen also is scheduled.

The other 80 employees will join Bell's as expansion projects are completed. Bell’s currently employs nearly 300 people across the 20 states to which it distributes.

“This isn’t just a career fair,” says Carrie Overton, Bell’s Director of Human Resources. “It’s about adding to our family. Because of the tremendous support we have received from our community and our fans, we are growing and we need more people."

EmploymentGroup representatives also will be reviewing applications for other jobs in the community. Those interested must bring a resume, be at least 18 years old and have reliable transportation.

Tours of the brewery and light refreshments will be available during the career fair. Regularly scheduled brewery tours for the public have been rescheduled and will be offered at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. rather than at noon and 4 p.m.

The benefits package at Bell’s includes health insurance plus dental and vision coverage, a 401-k program, paid vacation and personal time, wellness programs, life insurance, and a few other perks that come with working at a brewery.

“The Bell family takes great pride in the fact that we provide world class benefits that provide peace of mind for our employees and their families,” Overton says. “And yes, that does include beer."

For more information, please send email here.

Source: Josh Smith, Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Bronson welcomes four new health care providers

Bronson recently has added a number of new health care providers. Here are four of them:

Steve Allan, NP, has joined Bronson HealthCare Midwest Spine & Scoliosis Specialists,  a team of specialists that provide comprehensive surgical and nonsurgical treatment for back and neck problems, including scoliosis, degenerative diseases, arthritis and chronic back pain. Allen received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Spring Arbor University.

Wade W. Kang, MD, in a new team member at Bronson HealthCare Midwest Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. Dr. Kang is board certified in general and vascular surgery. He has a subspecialty certification in vascular and endovascular surgery with special interests in peripheral vascular disease (PVD), carotid artery disease, varicose vein disease, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and stenting. Dr. Kang completed his vascular surgery fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed his general surgery residency at Temple University, St. Luke’s Clinical Campus in Bethlehem, Pa. and also at Hebei Provincial Hospital in Hebei, China. Dr. Kang completed an internship at the University Of Nevada School Of Medicine in Las Vegas, Nev. He received his medical degree from Shanghai Medical University in Shanghai, China.  
Mirsen Lekovic, MD, has joined Bronson Lakeview Family Care Paw Paw (Suite B). Dr. Lekovic will work with physicians and staff who work to prevent  illness, maintain good health and provide care for the entire family. Dr. Lekovic completed his family medicine residency at Oakland Physicians Medical Center, Pontiac. He received his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies.  

Pamela Miller, NP, has joined Bronson Diabetes and Endocrinology Center. Miller received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Michigan State University, Lansing.

All are accepting new patients.

Source: Bronson 

Owen-Ames-Kimball to oversee Paw Paw project; hires two new employees

Paw Paw Public Schools has hired Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. to oversee the construction of a $14 million project for the district. A bond project to fund the work was passed by voters Aug. 5.

“As a parent in the Paw Paw district, I couldn’t be more excited for O-A-K to manage this project,” says Tom Stanek, O-A-K’s Director of Kalamazoo Operations.

District-wide remodeling, secure vestibules where schools are entered are part of the project. Voters also approved expansion of  instructional technology, additional technology infrastructure and instructional equipment.  

O-A-K Co. has been selected as Construction Manager for the project, with architectural partner, Kingscott Associates.

Construction begins March 2015 and is scheduled for completion in September 2017.

In other news for Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. in Kalamazoo, two new employees have joined the local branch.  

Andrew Bohr is the new Project Manager and Estimator, and Amelia Troyer is the receptionist.

Bohr is responsible for estimating, budget preparation, project documentation and value management for projects run out of the Kalamazoo office. He has 33 years of commercial construction management experience working throughout Southwest Michigan. He has worked in several capacities, including Field Engineer to Estimator and Project Manager. Bohr earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University.

Troyer is responsible for office communication and documentation. She will direct business inquiries and assist the team as needed.  

The Grand Rapids-based company with 122 years of history has its Kalamazoo branch on the ground floor of the Haymarket Building, 161 E. Michigan Ave. in Kalamazoo. The 1,800 square foot office opened in November, 2013, with three full-time employees.

Since opening its Kalamazoo office in 2013, work has been steady for O-A-K in Southwest Michigan. It has followed the company’s business development strategy, undertaking projects that cover a broad range of industries including educational, commercial, manufacturing and process and faith-based.

Rachael Martemucci, Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.

Architect and Engineering firm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomie moves into WMU BTR Park

Seven Generations Architecture & Engineering, LLC, has moved into space that recently opened up in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.

7GenAE, as the company is known, was launched in 2012 in Benton Harbor and is wholly owned by the economic development enterprise, Mno-Bmadsen.

Mno-Bmadsen conducts all non-gaming, for-profit businesses for the Pokagon Band of the Potawatomie. In the native Potawatomi language, Mno-Bmadsen means "walking the good path." Organized as a diversified holding company, Mno-Bmadsen invests in and acquires new and existing companies within targeted industries, with a focus on long-term sustainability in both purpose and profitability.

In Kalamazoo, 7GenAE will work out of the Weidenhammer Building at 4664 Campus Drive in the BTR Park after a recent reconfiguration of the building freed up 3,500 square feet in the building of the otherwise completely full business park.

The firm's six staff members and contract employees have moved into the BTR Park with the intent of growing its core services--architecture, civil engineering and construction management-- over the next five years, says Troland V. Clay, president and CEO of Mno-Bmadsen.

The firm specializes in the federal, state, municipal and tribal markets. One of 7GenAE's recent completed projects is the tribal Health and Wellness Center in Dowagiac.

Clay says they like being located in the BTR Park because it provides a direct link to WMU--a major research university--that will help the firm leverage federal research and development opportunities and provide growth opportunities for tribal youth.

"We use our revenue base to create opportunities for our people," says Clay. Next year, for example, they hope to have a tribal internship available as one way of ensuring the success of youth of the tribe.

"Our firm was built on the foundation that we will have an impact on the community now and for many generations to come," says Clay.

Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University

Meet Second Wave's new photographer: Susan Andress

For four years Second Wave has benefited from the photography skills of Erik Holladay. With memorable mastheads, feature pictures and photo stories, Erik helped Second Wave grow as it was establishing itself in Southwest Michigan. More than one person said, "Second Wave, you're the one with the pictures."

So it is with reluctance we say goodbye to Erik, but wish him well as he grows other aspects of his photography business.

At the same time, it is with delight that we welcome Susan Andress as our new Managing Photographer.

Susan tells us she grew up in Niles  and moved to Kalamazoo to attend Western Michigan Universtiy.  She studied art at WMU and earned a B.A. degree there. She continues to live in Kalamazoo.

She started her career as part of the photography department at The Upjohn Co. During her tenure there, she developed skills in photography, video, and sound editing. She traveled throughout the United States to assist in on-location still photography and video projects.

Her interest in computer graphics and design led her to her next job where she created presentation graphics and speaker support materials for company board meetings, annual meetings and sales conferences. For two years, she served as artist for a televised, in-house corporate news program.

In her freelance career, her interest in animation and interactive media led to her participation as interface designer and animator for an award winning interactive CD-ROM that explained the function of steam traps for Armstrong International.

She developed graphics for the visitor’s center in Fort Collins, Colo  and for the Michigan Supreme Court Museum in Lansing.

In her artistic career, she has worked in several mediums including watercolor, pastels and oils but has always had a strong interest in photography.

Her original photographs, digital collages, and paintings have appeared for many years in Southwest Michigan art exhibitions.

Starting in 2002, she has concentrated on artwork constructed from multiple photographic and scanned images with added painterly effects to achieve her final images.  Susan has exhibited her original digital collages at one-person venues as part of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo's monthly Art Hop six times.

Susan’s work has been included at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in the West Michigan Area Show in Kalamazoo. She won the Pfizer Purchase Prize for her photograph Sundial.

Her work has appeared in the Michigan Artists Competition at the Battle Creek Museum of Art, and in the Juried Regional Fine Arts Competition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Three Rivers, where she won first place in photography in 2007 for her photographic collage  Faded Blooms.

Besides her freelance photography and design work, Susan currently teaches Photoshop Elements at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

Whether in the corporate world or through her freelance work, Susan branches out to learn new skills.

Susan has been at Second Wave for a few weeks now and we are very excited to see her work each week.  

Attorneys Murray and Rouvina open law office in downtown Kalamazoo

Abigail Murray and Michael Rouvina have opened a new law firm in downtown Kalamazoo.

The offices of Murray & Rouvina, PLC. Murray & Rouvina, PLC, are located at 1011 W. Maple Street in Kalamazoo.

The firm is a full-service law firm specializing in probate and estate planning, business law, family law, animal law and alternative dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution helps parties resolve disputes without a trial, and typically include mediation, arbitration, and negotiation. These processes are generally confidential, less formal, and less stressful than traditional court proceedings.

Specialization in probate and estate planning are self-explanatory. For those wondering what animal law covers, Rouvina says it is an up-and-coming area of law and Michigan is the forefront of it. Animal law covers such things as resolving disputes between a boyfriend and girlfriend who adopted a pet together and now that the relationship has ended can't agree on who gets the companion animal; helping the elderly who want to make provisions for pets after the owner dies by establishing a Pet Trust;  working with a new animal rescue organization that needs assistance with incorporation all are the types of instances in which animal can be applied.

Rouvina says animal law brings together various other aspects of the law, such as probate and business law.

Murray most recently worked as a senior associate with the law firm of Vedder Price P.C. in Chicago, Ill. She earned her law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Western Michigan University.

Rouvina most recently worked as in-house counsel for Textura Corp. based in Deerfield, Ill. He earned his law degree from Pace University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Syracuse University.

The husband and wife team moved to Kalamazoo from the Chicago area to be closer to family. Murray is a Western Michigan University alumna.

For more information, visit their website here.

Michael Rouvina, Murray & Rouvina

Mann Hummel opens second facility in Portage

Mann+Hummel USA has opened its new 220,000 square-foot facility in Portage.

The new building will house production of air cleaner systems, battery frames and assembly of intake manifolds, coolant reservoirs. It also is a warehouse and distribution center.

Kurk Wilks, vice president and general manager of Mann+Hummel USA says the building shows the company's strategic growth plan in action. The company has grown agressively in the automotive industry by providing innovative solutions for its customers, he says.

“The opening of our new South Campus building gives us the space for current business and for future business opportunities,” says Wilks.

Approxmately 200 employees will staff the facility by the end of 2014, bringing the total number of Mann+Hummel associates in Portage to 500.

The South Campus building is located 500 yards from the North Campus building. Both buildings are connected through a new private road, Campus Drive, located at the rear of the properties.

Wilks also expressed gratitude for those who helped make the project possible. “We appreciate the support of Governor Rick Snyder, the State of Michigan, Southwest Michigan First, the city of Portage, our shareholders, and our employees to help make South Campus a reality.”  

The Mann+Hummel Group is global company specializing in filtration solutions, development partner and original equipment supplier to the international automotive and mechanical engineering industries. It employs more than 15,200 people at around 60 locations worldwide.

Source: Mann+Hummel

Binder Park Zoo breaks ground on African Tented Camps and school

Imagine the tented camp like those you would find on excursion in Africa. Now imagine them at Binder Park Zoo. Groundbreaking for the new African Tented Camps and School in Wild Africa at Binder Park Zoo will take place Sept. 25. 

Tented camps is one of the four new major exhibits the zoo announced in June. The school, not part of the original plan, grew from a donor's interest in making it part of the tented camps and now it is in the works.

The tented camps, like those one would find in Africa, are made of canvas with a permanent structure of beams and a roof.

They will be available for the public to use, both for family and group overnights. Binder Park Zoo now offers both programs but the addition of these tents with help to create a more authentic experience while providing some of the comforts of home, say zoo officials.

The tented camps will be situated along the 18-acre savanna and will feature nearby restrooms with showers as well as bunk beds for sleeping. The addition of the school will "take the overnight programs to a new level with many more educational opportunities," says Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo President and CEO.

Currently the African Overnights take place in the Kalahari Kitchen in Africa where there is a cement floor and screened pavilion. The new tents will have more security from the weather. The tented camps will allow the zoo to offer more family overnights than it can at this time and be able to house more people. The tented camps also will provide more privacy for each family.  

When Binder Park Zoo announced its $3 million capital campaign in June, a committee of board and community members and zoo staff had been meeting since 2013 to pull together the project. That work allowed the campaign to get off to a quick start. So far, more than $1.4 million has been raised and the campaign will continue until the goal is reached.

The campaign is divided into two parts--new exhibits and funds to maintain existing exhibits, which zoo officials are calling "Heart of the Zoo." In addition to the tented camps, the new exhibits will be for lions, bears and a tortoise named Al.

Lions are the number one requested animal by zoo goers and the new exhibit in the campaign is expected to increasie gate revenue to help the nonprofit zoo become more self-sufficient. The addition of lions at Binder Park Zoo also will allow for the Zoo to give visitors an educational awareness about the urgency to preserve this species. Once common in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, the lion is now a protected species with numbers falling from 400,000 in the 1950’s down to an estimated 47,000 today. It can be found  only in remote places in Africa and India.

"Spending the night at the Zoo is a very unique experience and we think families are looking for these close to home opportunities for mini vacations and ways to spend time together as a family," says Thompson. "It’s also a great opportunity for groups like Boy Scouts and Girls Scout to earn badges and experience the outdoors."

More than 7 million people have visited Binder Park Zoo and an additional 500,000 have been served through outreach programs since was established in 1975.  It is located outside of Battle Creek on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. In the past 38 years, the Zoo has grown to be one of the leading cultural attractions in the region. 

Source: Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo

Stewards of Kleinstuck invite community to celebrate with them

The Stewards of Kleinstuck typically come together to take care of the property that is one of the largest remaining natural areas in the City of Kalamazoo or educate others about its importance.

But this time of year they come together to celebrate the preserve.

There will be a relaxed outdoor gathering at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28 on the playground of Kazoo School, 1401 Cherry St., which is near the Kleinstuck property.

Those who attend the free event will be able to take walks around the preserve and partake of cider and muffins. Music will also be part of the experience.

Erin Fuller, a member of Stewards of Kleinstuck, says that the annual event draws those who visit the preserve, whether it be for walking or running. Sometimes those who want to know more about what is being done to take care of the preserve turn out for the celebration which is in its eighth year.

The Kleinstuck Preserve is a 48-acre preserve owned by Western Michigan University, found between the Oakland, Winchell and Westnedge Hill neighborhoods. The preserve contains a marsh, pedestrian paths, and dozens of native trees, plants and wildlife. It has the largest bald Cypress tree in the state among other natural features.

The Stewards of Kleinstuck are dedicated to restoring the biological diversity of the preserve. It conducts regular work days throughout the year. Fuller says the group is particularly excited about the work it has done to get rid of invasive species that previously were choking a sedge meadow.

The work days can draw anywhere from 5 to 25 people. Volunteer Kalamazoo often coordinates with the Stewards when special work details are being undertaken. Students from neighboring Kazoo School, St. Augustine's and from Western Michigan University also have helped when work needs to be done.

Frog Hikes, snowshoe walks and wildflower tours are popular events through the year.

It may be a bit early to see much fall colors along the path, but there are other attractions. 

"The fall wildflowers are starting to bloom," Miller says. "We have worked really hard to clean out the sedge meadow and get rid of invasive species. On a sunny day this time of year the sun shines through the seed heads and it is lovely."

Source: Erin Miller, Stewards of Kleinstuck

BOOKtober Fest a celebration of books and beer

Of the many great things to come out of the Southwest Michigan craft beer industry, one of the most captivating has been its ability to inspire collaborative and innovative thinking, while also create unique products and ways to view the community.

It's not just patrons of area breweries that are finding themselves inspired to do something different and exciting, local institutions are also picking up on the vibe, as is currently on display with the Kalamazoo Public Library's first Booktoberfest--a six-week- long event celebrating learning, creative thinking, community history and, of course, craft beer.

"We feel that our patrons appreciate the opportunity to come together to celebrate what makes Kalamazoo unique," says Kevin King of the Kalamazoo Public Library. "I expect the response will be great because these programs will provide patrons the chance to get close to the individuals who are crafting the beers, an opportunity you do not often have visiting the breweries. When we proposed this program idea to the participating breweries, all of them agreed that it was an excellent idea! Not one hesitated."

Breweries such as Tibbs Brewing Co., Arcadia Ales, Bell’s Brewery, and Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co. are all on board with programs throughout the event as are other area establishments such West Michigan Beer Tours, the Alamo Draft House, Rhino Media, and more.

Booktoberfest began Sept. 16 with an interactive history lesson that took a look at the area's storied brewery culture. Booktoberfest wraps up on Oct. 28 with a local brewery panel discussion at the Washington Square branch library, moderated by John Liberty, co-owner of West Michigan Beer Tours.

In between, event-goers can enjoy home brewing events sponsored by Bell's, a screening of Rhino Media's Michigan Beer Film, a beer and food pairing featuring the beer of Gonzo's BigDogg Brewing, two book discussion nights, and other fun programs either hosted by breweries or taking place at the library.

"The great breweries of Kalamazoo have brews that are just as engaging and nuanced as many of the great stories in literature. It seemed natural to us at KPL that enjoying both at the same time would be an amazing combination," King says. "Most people enjoy sharing their love of good books with friends, so why not do it with a pint of delicious Kalamazoo beer?"

Two beers in particular will be shared by those taking part in Booktoberfest. At Bilbo's Pizza The Legend of Pumpkin Hollow will be on tap Oct. 6 when the brewpub hosts a discussion of Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks.

Tibbs Brewing has also worked up a special offering, Overdue Brew, a chocolate stout which it has been serving during the month of September. Both breweries are offering these beers for a $1 off the regular price when customers show their KPL card.

For more information on Booktoberfest, and a complete listing of events please visit here.

Writer: Jeremy Martin, Second Wave Media
Source: Kevin King, Kalamazoo Public Library
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