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Kalamazoo Gazette: Holly Jolly Trolley starts its path

Riding the Holly Jolly Trolley on its path around downtown has become a holiday tradition, starting the day after Thanksgiving, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. The trolley, organized by Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., is free to anyone who wants to take a ride and see downtown Kalamazoo. It runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday on an about 20-minute loop throughout downtown, starting at Mall Plaza on the Kalamazoo Mall and continuing down around Bronson Park.

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Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

USA Today: USTA invites critics to join debate

After facing months of backlash, the U.S. Tennis Association has started a series of seven town hall meetings over the next three months to debate recently made changes to its junior competition calendar, reports USA Today. The disputed changes, which were put on pause as of late October, are designed to make junior tennis more affordable to an increasingly diverse player base at the regional level, and also create an environment that fosters more intense competition at the national level. The national championships take place in Kalamazoo. Critics argue the changes are in conflict with the USTA's mission of growing the game.

Excerpt: Said Kurt Kamperman, the USTA's Chief Executive of Community Tennis, in a phone interview, "We only have 88,000 players in our tournament structure right now. France has 500,000 and they have one-fifth of our population. We feel like we need to do better."

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Source: USA Today

MLive: Airport hunts for another air service

The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport is in discussions with various airlines about providing new air service to and from Kalamazoo. But landing one is unlikely until well into 2013, airport Director Cliff Moshonginis tells MLive. Until then, the loss last March of flights handled by discount carrier Direct Air Airlines will continue to reflect negatively on traffic numbers at the airport. However, December through the first few months of 2012 were busy for Direct Air, a direct-to-Florida air service.

Excerpt: "As we’re going through the latter part of this year, I’m encouraged by the advanced scheduling for at least nine months of 2013. It’s going upward," Moshoginis said.

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Source: MLive

Detroit Free Press: At the Kalamazoo Nature Center

The Detroit Free Press says you haven't live in Michigan until you've visted the Kalamazoo Nature Center. The newspaper reports the nonprofit is one of the first nature centers in the country and was established in 1960 with the goal of protecting a 40-acre, old-growth beech-maple forest. Today, the center's 1,100 acres include forests and rolling grasslands, 14 miles of walking trails, a spring-fed trout stream, two ponds and a section of the Kalamazoo River. The 33,000-square-foot Interpretive Center also is loaded with interactive exhibits.

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Source: Detroit Free Press

MLive: WMU unveils research 'incubator'

Bamboo plants are growing, bike wheels are turning, red wiggler worms are squirming and the staff and students of the Western Michigan University Office for Sustainability are glowing inside the newly renovated building off of Howard Street, reports MLive. The Office for Sustainability promotes environmental stewardship and collaborates with various WMU departments to make the university sustainable on various levels.  

Excerpt: "When people ask me to give an elevator speech for sustainability, I ask them to take the stairs," Director Harold Glasser said at a grand opening ceremony attended by 200 people on Thursday. "Solar panels and energy conservation is important but it’s more than that. It’s doing less with more by working with nature and fostering conditions for human flourishing."

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Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Schools see progress in academic goals

Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Michael Rice said that academic achievement is up across the board in recent years, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. "I think we've made tremendous strides in the past few years, using The Kalamazoo Promise as a springboard," said Rice, who offered a detailed report on district goals recently.

Excerpt: The school board set six-year goals in January 2009, about 18 months after Rice started as superintendent, and also asked Rice to present an annual progress report. "We do this every year at this time to honor The Promise and the donors' vision," Rice said.

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Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Inside Higher Education: K-College and travel abroad

Kalamazoo College has again been recognized as a leader in study abroad programs for U.S. college students. Based on its percentage of its graduates that studied abroad during the 2010-11 school year the college came in number 10 for the highest undergraduate participation rates in study abroad in the report published by Inside Higher Education.

Excerpt: There are 33 colleges -- most of them small baccalaureate institutions -- that send 70 percent or more of their students abroad. Eleven doctoral-granting universities exceed the 50 percent mark, as do 12 master’s-level colleges. Peggy Blumenthal pointed to these institutions as proof that increasing study abroad enrollment dramatically is possible. "It can be done. And it needs to be done,” she said.

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Source: Inside Higher Education

Kalamazoo Gazette: Literacy efforts are working

The number of children's books being checked out from Kalamazoo Public Library has jumped 19 percent in one year, so efforts spearheaded by Kalamazoo Public Schools and other groups to turn Kalamazoo into a "literacy community" seem to be bearing fruit, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. More children's books from all five library branches were checked out from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, compared to the previous 12 months, said Susan Warner, head of the library's youth services.

Excerpt: "All over the country, libraries see a rise in use during a struggling economy," Warner said. "That's been true for decades." But the amount of increase is "more than we would have expected" and an indication that something else is feeding the trend, she said.

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Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Sturgis Journal: Business ideas pay off

Two contestants in the "Generate Sturgis" business idea contest went home from Sturges-Young Auditorium with cash prizes totaling $2,000, reports the Sturgis Journal. Jeff Wenzel won top prize, $1,500, for his idea of creating a regional food hub. Wenzel caught the attention of the audience when he suggested having a "salsa festival" in Sturgis during harvest time.

Excerpt: "There are a lot of small farmers in this area that want to get back to the land," Wenzel said. "My idea is to create a regional food hub, with Sturgis at the core of the processing, storage and distribution of a common food brand, possibly named River Country Natural Foods."

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Source: Sturgis Journal

Niles Daily Star: Pokagons to build 32 more homes

A $6.5 million housing investment at Pokagon Band village just down Dailey Road from Southwestern Michigan College will create 188 construction jobs, tribal Treasurer John Warren recently announced. The Niles Daily News reports 16 townhouses and 16 duplexes going up over the next seven months behind the community center mean a total of 66 houses and will be a model for potential development in South Bend, Ind.

Excerpt: "We should be finished mid-summer--hopefully, July," Warren said.

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Source: Niles Daily Star

B.C. Enquirer: Family helps kids, needs help

For Battle Creek’s Jenise Furman, her husband Tracy, their three biological kids and their five adopted children, life in recent years has not been easy and it hasn’t been fair. And now, it just hurts because Christian faces a grim future, reports the Battle Creek Enquirer. Three years ago, Christian was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that affects 1 in 3,500 young boys predominantly and which will, eventually, kill him because there is no cure.

Excerpt: Every six months they take Christian to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for physical therapy and for Christian to be part of clinical studies that, maybe one day will lead to a cure. "There’s hope," Jenise said. "But it takes money."

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Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Washington Post: A chat with Kalamazoo's mayor

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in the Washington Post that when Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell talks about the importance of manufacturing to this friendly Michigan town with a name that lends itself to song, he doesn’t reel off the usual list of heavy industries typically associated with the word "factory."

Excerpt: Hopewell is proud of the part played in his city by universities and those engaged in work involving what he calls "intellectual property," he adds: "We are major makers in the region."

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Source: Washington Post      

Kalamazoo Gazette: Unemployment rate drops in September

The unemployment rate improved to 6.5 percent for the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, down from 7.4 percent in August and down from 8.4 percent in September 2011, according Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget data, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. The metropolitan statistical area includes all of Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties. The unemployment rate here represents 10,600 workers without jobs in a civilian labor force of 163,200. Taken separately, the jobless rate for Kalamazoo County improved to 6.1 percent, down from 7.1 percent in August and down from 8 percent in September of 2011.

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Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Teens tie-dye business is a winner

South Haven teens Audrey and Hannah Flood turned the perennial camp activity of tie-dying shirts into their own business, Feel the Love Tees, reports MLive. "It was just really spur of the moment. The whole business came together really quickly in one summer. ... We had been making them and giving them away to friends. A few people said, 'Hey, I will give you money to make me a shirt,'" said Hannah, now a sophomore studying sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University.

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Source: MLive

Sturgis Journal: Through The Ashes on the rise

Five Sturgis-area guys, sifting through the ashes of their own tribulations, were united to form Through The Ashes. That not only strengthened lasting friendships, but has enabled them to take their music to the masses, reports the Sturgis Journal. The band's music is a culmination of metal, hardcore and thrash. It rocks, but an underlying focus on melody ultimately drives the music.

Excerpt: Through The Ashes recently signed a national recording contract with Turning Point Records. The band's name simply is a motto -- No matter what adversities, you will rise above. "We have all been through some trying times and have come together as 'brothers' to overcome," the band said. "All of us have been rebuilt from some crazy life experiences."

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Source: Sturgis Journal
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