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B. C. Enquirer: It's a SNAP in Calhoun County

Four participating farmers markets in Calhoun County redeemed nearly $14,000 in SNAP benefits during the 2011 fiscal year the most recent year for which numbers are available, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service stats published by the Battle Creek Enquirer. 
 
Excerpt: "We know that in the last few years, the total amount SNAP benefits has leveled off," said Rachel Chadderdon Bair, program director of the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program. "The fact that more SNAP benefits are being spent at farmers markets indicate there’s more interest in local food and healthy food."
 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
 
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Kalamazoo Gazette: A Speak It Forward Celebration

The Kinetic Affect duo, Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron, have been showing youth at Lakeside Academy how to take charge of their problems with words, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. They'll be showcasing what they've done at Chenery Auditorium Jan. 12. Kinetic Affect and local musicians will perform, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church choir will sing and Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell will emcee, but the stars of the show will be current and former students of Lakeside Academy, the juvenile rehabilitation facility on Oakland Drive.
 
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Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

WWMT: The Fresh Food Fairy Of West Michigan

College students, businesses and programs in Kalamazoo came together to highlight healthy eating in the new year through a 2013 calendar that features the vibrant food community in West Michigan, with proceeds benefiting healthy eating programs for kids. One of those programs is the Fresh Food Fairy. Frayer’s goal is to go to every kindergarten class in Kalamazoo Public Schools, teaching kids healthy habits.  
 
Excerpt: "My basic presentation is about why fresh food is so fun and there's five reasons: it's very colorful, with fun shapes, interesting textures, delicious flavors and it helps our bodies grow strong and smart!" says Hether Frayer, the Fresh Food Fairy. 
 
For more please read the rest of the story.
 
Source: WWMT 

Fourth Economy Index: Kalamazoo in top 10 of current rankings

The latest release of the "Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index" was announced recently, listing the nation’s top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities are those ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth and Kalamazoo County is on the list. 
 
Excerpt: The "fourth economy" characterizes the most recent phase of our nation’s economy, reflecting a combination of the previous three to include agrarian, industrial, and technological. This new index is intended to serve as a dashboard for community stakeholders to gauge their capacity to attract and retain modern investment. 
 
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Source: Fourth Economy Index

WKZO: County parks to get big improvements

Two Kalamazoo area parks have just won the jackpot, reports WKZO 96.5 FM. River Oaks Park near Galesburg and Flesher Field in Oshtemo have both been chosen by the state’s Natural Resource Trust fund to receive $300,000 for improvements, upgrades and repairs. 
 
At Flesher Field the parking lot will be moved, a running track installed and other improvements made. Rivers Oaks Park will get a new picnic area with a more accessible playground and paths, a splash pad, and parking lot improvements.
 
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Source: WKZO 

MLive: Kalamazoo Community Foundation awards $719,000 in grants

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation announced grants recently totaling more than $719,000 for nine area nonprofits, reports MLive. The grants, ranging from $22,500 to $180,000, represent the fourth round of grants approved by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation board of trustees in 2012.  
 
Excerpt: "The vision of our donors throughout 87 years, funding needs they could not have imagined, is realized in each round of grants," said Carrie Pickett-Erway, the foundation's president and CEO.
 
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Source: MLive

B.C. Enquirer: Kitchen serves 40,000th meal

In just 14 months, Battle Creek's first evening soup kitchen has served 40,058 hungry people. Recently, the kitchen marked the occasion of serving dinner guest number 40,000. The big moment came when John Cram, a homeless man, walked through the door. He was greeted and presented with a $25 Meijer gift card.
 
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Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Kalamazoo Gazette: Run through the Lights 5K

Runners of all ages packed the Kalamazoo Mall by the hundreds recently, decked out in blinking lights, reindeer antlers, Santa hats and other festive gear for the annual Run Through the Lights, presented by Kalamazoo Area Runners and Gazelle Sports. Organizers announced an attendance of more than 1,000 registrants, who ran or walked the 5K course -- untimed -- that looped through the downtown area. The course was closed to vehicle traffic for the first time.  

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Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Sturgis Journal: Community fulfills wish lists

Residents of Mendon Community Schools have a chance to, once again, come to the aid of Mendon’s students by answering a wish list compiled by teachers at the district’s two school buildings, reports the Sturgis Journal. Donations or financial contributions toward teacher wish-list items are administered through the Mendon Schools Foundation, a not-for-profit entity that ensures donations are tax-deductible. The foundation encourages instructors to keep the item they request at $500 or less.

Excerpt: Brandon Wenzel, principal at Mendon Elementary School, said local businesses play a big role in helping fulfill requests. In other cases, he said, the requests are fulfilled by individuals and families. "My in-laws have all decided to make a sizable donation at Christmas on behalf of the grandkids, other cases we hear are purchases made in memory of or in honor of someone, and a lot are done anonymously," Wenzel said.

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Source: Sturgis Journal

Niles Daily Star: Helping the needy a growing concern

In Berrien County, many organizations helping the needy are struggling to keep up with demand, reports the Niles Daily Star. "We have seen an increase of families needing assistance," said Pat Saxton, director of the Niles Christian Service Center. "Normally, we help somewhere around 130 to 150 families a month, but, this year, we are averaging about 25 extra families per month. In October, we helped about 160, and, in November, it was 185." Saxton attributed the increase to unemployment benefits running out and families moving back into the area that had left hoping to find work elsewhere.

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Source: Niles Daily Star

MLive: Home Builders say Kalamazoo market improving

Kalamazoo was one of nine Michigan cities listed on the Improving Markets Index from the National Association of Home Builders in December, reports MLive.To make the list, compiled by the NAHB and First American, a city has to have shown improvement in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months.

Kalamazoo's housing permits hit a low in July 2010 and have improved 3 percent since then, according to the index. Home prices, which hit their low one year ago in December 2011, have climbed 5.7 percent over the past 12 months. Employment in the industry also has grown 1.8 percent over the past year.

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Source: MLive

MLive: Arcadia Brewing plans pushed back

Completion dates for the $6.2-million expansion project in Kalamazoo for Battle Creek's Arcadia Brewing Co. have been pushed back several months after tests revealed soil on the East Michigan Avenue site could not support the 30,000-square-foot facility, reports MLive. Original estimates said the production facility would open in late May 2013, but owner Tim Suprise said he now expects the project to be completed in mid-to-late fall. The Battle Creek facility is at its production capacity now, making around 10,000 barrels annually
 
Excerpt: "I have no doubt in my mind we’ll be making beer and selling it from that facility in 2013," said Suprise, who started the company in 1996. "There was a little disappointment that we were going to be constrained in 2013 at our facility in Battle Creek."
 
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Source: MLive

B.C. Enquirer: Wind farming in Calhoun County could happen

Mark Clevey, Consumer Education and Renewable Energy Program Manager for the State of Michigan recently told the Battle Creek Enquirer that if a number of elements come together a wind farm could go up anyplace, including Calhoun County. In March 2011, power company Detroit Edison Co. accepted bids for a solar and wind farm, including one from Starr Commonwealth in Sheridan Township and Patriot Solar Group in Albion, as well as others in a bidding group.
 
Excerpt: "Is there a customer who is willing to buy the results that are going to come out of this wind farm, and are they going to pay enough so it’s worthwhile for everybody?" he said. "The question is, can you put the pieces together in Calhoun County and make it work?"
 
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Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Coldwater Daily Reporter: Local trees, poinsettia create holiday flair

Michigan has 700 Christmas tree growers and 54 poinsettia growers and everyone is encouraged to support these local growers, reports the Coldwater Daily Reporter. "Michigan ranks third nationally in Christmas tree production and seventh in the U.S. in poinsettia production. Whether it's cutting your own tree at your local Christmas tree farm, or purchasing a fresh tree or poinsettia from a local retailer, fresh Michigan Christmas trees and poinsettias add a special touch to holiday celebrations," said Director Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 
 
For more, read the rest of the story
 
Source: Coldwater Daily Reporter

Kalamazoo Gazette: Underwear for Christmas?

The 13th annual Underwear Open House put on by the Kalamazoo’s Ministry with Community helps provide those in need with underwear, socks and other basic necessities many of us take for granted, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. People bring new, unwrapped items such as underwear, socks, gloves, hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants in adult sizes up to 5XL to the Lawrence Education Center at Borgess Medical Center for distribution.
 
Excerpt: "It’s an opportunity for the whole community to come in and provide gifts for people in need," said Rob Oaklead, executive director of Ministry with Community. "It started as a small party in volunteers' homes and has continued to grow each year," he said. 
 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
 
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
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