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Kalamazoo : In The News

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Bridge: Borgess Run gets the community moving

Bridge magazine reports: "Borgess Run Camp is now in its 14th year of preparing the out-of-shape, the discouraged and the overweight to do more than they imagined possible."

The story goes on to talk about the ways Run Camp benefits the community and how it is becoming a model for other communities, like Grand Rapids.

Excerpt: "To be sure, the camp encompasses plenty of die-hard participants who have proven their fitness over years of dedicated training. They join in because they love running, and have for years. But what distinguishes it from other training programs is its embrace of novice runners, including those who never laced up a pair of running shoes before. To that end,(Blaine) Lam has cultivated a volunteer network that has mushroomed to 11 coaches and about 125 team leaders. Matched by the pace they can run, participants are assigned to a small group, each with a designated team leader. Within weeks, they are calling each other by first name and cheering each other on."

Read the full story here.

Source: Bridge

Al Jazeera: Police force tackles its racial bias

First came the study results, reports Al Jazeera. Lamberth Consulting, which specializes in racial profiling assessments, examined police stops at 12 different locations in Kalamazoo, a city of 75,000 starting in March 2012, and found that black motorists were more than twice as likely to be stopped as white drivers. And even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband like guns and drugs, far more blacks were searched, handcuffed, and arrested.

Then came the anger, public safety officers offended that the study results made them out to be bad guys. And many Kalamazoo public safety officers reacted to the study by cutting back their traffic stops dramatically. Next Chief Jeff Hadley made racial bias training mandatory for Kalamazoo officers, ordered that they document probable cause for every suspect they search and  set up quotas for interactions with the public meant to build better relations with the community. Hadley says he’ll continue working to build trust between his officers and communities of color.

Excerpt: "I'm not going to sit here and paint some picture like every interaction is going to be Andy and Barney in Mayberry," Hadley said, referring to the classic sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show." “We deal with some complex stuff. We have to listen. We have to pay attention. We have to look ahead, down the road, and see what's the best way we can achieve crime reduction at the same time maintaining the relationship with the community."

See the full story, here.

Source: Al Jazeera

Online Masters: The 50 Most Beautiful Med Schools

Online Masters says “a single glance at the jaw-dropping architecture lets you know that this medical school is special.”

The online publication that ranks different degree programs and explain the strengths that each program offers turned its sights on the architecture of med schools and decided the new Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine is 41 of 50 on its list.

Excerpt: “If you’re looking for a jaw-dropping, stop-you-in-your-tracks display, check out the new Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. Donated by MPI Research, the structure is a redesigned renovation of an old pharmaceutical research building in downtown Kalamazoo. The new addition, with its curved shape and glass atrium, transformed the existing structure into an ultramodern learning center that aligns with the new medical school’s innovative curriculum, with two team-based learning halls, and more than 24,000 square feet dedicated to medical simulation.”

See the full list here.

Source: Online Masters

Forbes: Kalamazoo one of 10 best for work-life balance

There are lots of lists floating around out there. Here's one from NerdWallet, reported in Forbes magazine, that cities will want to be on. NerdWallet looked at the 536 largest cities across the country, along with commute time, income, and cost of living to determine the cities that offer employees the best and worst chances at healthy work-life balance.


“A lot of these places ended up being places with a low cost of living where there isn’t a huge demand for housing–places where you don’t have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” said (NerdWallet analyst Divya) Raghavan, adding that “they’re definitely places with more diverse economies. A lot of these cities have research companies, universities, and the health care industry.”

The full story is here.

Source: Forbes

Azure magazine: K College building one of top 10 in 2014

When Azure magazine rounded up the Top 10 big projects of the year, Kalamazoo College's Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership made the list of "the most mind-bendingly ambitious buildings completed this year." Others in the list included a distillery greenhouse in the south of England (by the always-inventive Thomas Heatherwick) and Jean Nouvel’s skyscraper in Sydney (draped entirely in greenery).

"As a learning and meeting space for students, faculty, and visitors, the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College, Michigan, only needed to provide basic facilities; as the architecture firm’s website points out, “a church basement, a living room, or even a kitchen table” would have sufficed. But Jeanne Gang’s intention was to elevate the pursuit of social justice in both a literal and a poetic sense, by creating a space that evokes harmony and the convergence of ideas in a physical way."

The full story is here.

Source: Azure magazine

Crain's: Greenleaf Trust state's No. 1 cool place to work among medium size companies

When it comes to medium sized companies (50 to 249 employees), Greenleaf Trust is the No. 1 Cool Place to Work in Michigan, says Crain's Detroit Business. The survey and awards program recognizes the best employers in Michigan. Greenleaf Trust has 91 employees.


Greenleaf President Michael Odar also hosts monthly all-staff meetings to provide news on the company, and the CFO gives quarterly updates on the profitability picture. When the company's profitability goals are met, everyone shares in the profits by an amount in proportion to their salary. Those who meet their individual goals are eligible for an additional profitability bonus. The company also gives out spot awards -- money for a specific job well done.

The full story is here.

More on Greenleaf Trust is here.

Crain's Detroit Business

What's working in local economies

In a story titled See which Michigan regions are growing the fastest, Ted Roelofs and Mike Wilkinson report for Bridge magazine that nine of 15 regions in Michigan posted growth higher than 2 percent GDP gain in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Excerpt: Overall, the state’s numbers are a grab bag of the promising and the troubling. For example, statewide GDP grew by 2 percent in 2013. On the bright side, that’s above the five-state Midwest average of 1.6 percent, trailing only Indiana at 2.1 percent. To the negative, Michigan's GDP is still 6 percent below its output in its peak year of 2005. That's primarily because the state remains tethered to manufacturing, still its largest economic sector despite a considerable drop in the last 15 years.

The story says Niles-Benton Harbor ranked second in growth among 14 metropolitan regions in Michigan, Kalamazoo ranked 7th, and Battle Creek came in 10th.

Follow the links to find out what's behind the rankings.  See the full story here

NYT: Stoking a Hearth for Human Rights

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times recently visited Kalamazoo to learn about the architecture that makes up the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. He recommends a pilgrimage to the building that embodies the lofty goal of the center on the Kalamazoo College campus. He says, "Mostly the center’s design is laudable simply for being eloquent and humane."


"What makes the building special is partly the novel form, which grows straight out of the center’s ambitions. It’s also the element of handicraft (those cordwood masonry exteriors) when so much marquee architecture leans on high-tech materials and 3-D printing."

For more, please read the entire review here

Source: New York Times

U.S. News & World Report: Check out the beer in Kalamazoo

For those looking beyond the known craft beer world in Denver, Portland, and Dublin there are at least eight other places in the world to visit and U.S. News and World Report says Kalamazoo is one of them. As the story says: "People are fermenting grains all over the world." But not every metropolis is a veritable beer city, overflowing with homegrown breweries, gastro pubs and beer festivals. For this reason, U.S. News selected a few spots where you may not have considered tipping back a pint.

The city's six new microbrews, Bell's Brewery, the West Michigan Beer Tour, January's Kalamazoo Beer Week were all cited as reasons to give the Kalamazoo beer scene a try.

Read the full story here.

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Why would you want to move to Kalamazoo?

A Kalamazoo College grad stirred up a bit of -- well, it would be going too far to call it controversy -- but he did stir things up with a list of 30 Things to Know Before You Move to Kalamazoo

Some humorless folks saw none in the list, especially in the way he labled K-College vs. Western Michigan University.

Other folks took issue with some of his choices for reasons to want to move here.

That got us to thinking. Why do you live here? Do you recommend Kalamazoo to others even if you are not a Realtor? 

Did Sam Bertken get it right? What do you think are 30 things someone should know before they move to Kalamazoo?

MLive: Community Garden near completion in downtown Kalamazoo

Deb Killarney tells MLive that she feels that downtown Kalamazoo could be more sustainable. She now manages the Central City Community Garden to address that concern. The community garden plot at a corner of Eleanor and Burdick streets was leased to the Downtown Citizens Advisory Council for $1. The idea was initially proposed in 2004 and is finally taking shape.

Excerpt: "We had to really look hard to find space in downtown," Killarney said. "There are not many blank spaces downtown that get sun."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

WMUK: Kalamazoo library to become a 'Family Place'

A renovation project that starts later this month will turn Kalalmazoo Public  Library’s Children’s Room into a place where young children and their parents can learn together, reports WMUK, 102.1-FM. Known as a "Family Place", such libraries use play to help young children learn.

Excerpt: KPL Director Ann Rohrbaugh and Youth Services Director Susan Warner say the "Family Place" project builds on the library’s commitment to early childhood education. The library's previous work with young kids and their parents was validated by the invitation for the library to apply for a federal grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services to join the nationwide effort.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: WMUK

Kalamazoo Gazette: Gay rights ordinances under review

The City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township have adopted an ordinance banning  discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And one like those may be passed soon in Oshtemo Township, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Gay rights advocates plan to continue a push to get more municipalities to enact such measures.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Galesburg and St. Joseph programs win governor's volunteer award

Eaton Corporation of Galesburg and senior programs in St. Joseph have both earned recognition from Gov. Rick Snyder and received awards for their voluntary service to their communities, reports MLive.  Eaton Corp. of Galesburg won the Corporate Community Leader Award, while the Outstanding National Service Program Award was given to the Region IV Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Volunteer Programs in St. Joseph.

For more on the awards, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: KVCC grad named to Booker long list

If you need further proof of the inspiration of the writing community in Kalamazoo check this out. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Kalamazoo Valley Community College graduate and author NoViolet Bulawayo was named to the prestigious Book Man long list.

Excerpt: Bulawayo, who moved from Zimbabwe to Kalamazoo in 2000 when she was 18, released her debut novel, "We Need New Names," in May. It is one of 13 books from around the world to be nominated for Great Britain's premier literary prize. The panel of judges will decide the shortlist in September and announce the winner on Oct. 15. The winner will receive the more than $75,000 prize.

Two stories on Bulawayo are here and here.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Michigan Radio: EPA delays decision on PCB cleanup

Michigan Radio reports that 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.  

Excerpt: There’s a big effort to push the EPA to remove the pile completely, and send it to a landfill in Wayne County that can handle this waste properly. The holdup on a decision seems to be the price tag. The landfill quoted $120 million but the EPA thinks it’ll cost three times as much. The pile is just one in an 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River where regulators are cleaning up PCB contamination.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Michigan Radio

Bridge Magazine: Craft beer washes over Michigan

Kalamazoo is working to make itself into craft beer mecca so we were interested to read the Bridge magazine report that Michigan’s craft beer industry is growing so fast that leaders of the trade association representing it can’t keep track of all the activity. Michigan’s craft beer industry pumped about $133 million into the state’s economy in 2012.
Excerpt: “I have no idea how many breweries are under construction,” said Scott Graham, executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “I used to know about everyone.”
The association estimates there are about 140 breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs in the state, many of them microbreweries that produce fewer than 30,000 barrels a year. That’s up from just three in 1991.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Bridge

WMUK: Only lots of money can save East Campus

What would it take for Western Michigan University to change its plans to demolish three of the four buildings on East Campus? "A lot of money," said Western Michigan University President John Dunn, speaking in a radio interview July 1 with WMUK and two local newspapers.  Dunn was the first guest on WMUK 102.1 FM's new weekly radio program "West Southwest"  hosted by Gordon Evans.
Excerpt: "This really is truly about preserving what I think is the jewel in the crown, and that's East Hall, and as much of East Hall as possible," said Dunn."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: WMUK and MLive

MLive:  Local economy gains strength

Southwest Michigan’s economy continues to gain strength, reports MLive. And business in the automotive industry continues to be a catalyst for that here and throughout Michigan, a local economist says.
Excerpt:  "Michigan is doing well primarily because of automotive," said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Chain Management Research at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.  That is according to the data collected by Long during the last two weeks of June. 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

MLive: Artworks on display in hospital

Local artists Nancy Arndt and Karen Richard are having their works showcased in Plainwell's Borgess-Pipp Hospital.  Richard and Arndt have 27 and 25 paintings, respectively, up for view and sale, reports MLive. The pastel works are located in the main east-west hallway and will be on display until Oct. 15. Both use the process of photographing their scenes before painting.

Excerpt: "Having art is a good tool for our therapists to use to get patients up and walking around," Jennifer Wallace, Borgess-Pipp director of clinical services  said. "We have patients from the intensive care unit (ICU) -- as well as 22 long-term acute care beds that will have patients upwards of 30 days, able to see and experience all of these great works."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: KSO exec director gets national honor

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra executive director Jennifer Barlament recently was given the Helen M. Thompson Award by the League of American Orchestras during its conference in St. Louis, Mo. The award recognizes Barlament's "exceptional leadership, dedication and accomplishment," reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Under her leadership the KSO's ticket sales are up 56 percent from the year she arrived. The organization also experienced growth in subscribers, grants and total fundraising.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Fruit harvest under way in Southwest Michigan

Harvest of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apricots and sweet cherries is under way in Southwest Michigan this week, and so far, so good, according to a weekly report by Michigan State University Extension educators Mark Longstroth, Bill Shane and Diane Brown.

Excerpt: Tart cherry fruits are colored and sizing well. This is one of the best crops in Southwest Michigan in recent years.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

NBC Nightly News: Promise 'Making a Difference'

The Kalamazoo Promise was featured on NBC Nightly News's "Making a Difference" report recently. The scholarship was instituted in 2005 and is funded entirely by anonymous donors. It guarantees every student who graduates after at least four years in a Kalamazoo high school at least 65 percent of tuition at an in-state college.

Excerpt: "I just need to do well," Promise recipient Zach Julian told NBC Nightly News. "I can't let the people down. ... Even though I don't know who they are."

To see the full report, please visit here.

Source: NBC News

MLive: Kalamazoo Nature Center preschool under way

Three summer construction projects are in the works at the Kalamazoo Nature Center -- a new camp building, a farmyard on the DeLano Homestead property and a preschool

A new 6,000 square-foot, $1.3 million facility for the Nature's Way Preschool, 4442 Oakland Drive, will be located next to the old preschool cabin. It will be on nine acres in the woods and be surrounded by trees.

Excerpt: "Even when they're inside the school it will feel like they're in the woods," said Heather Parker, early childhood education director at the Kalamazoo Nature Center'sNature's Way Preschool.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: A Fitness Foray with Ursula

We know a good story when we see one. This week Ursula Zerilli of the Kalamazoo Gazette decided to commit to what she called a "Fitness Foray," a chance to experience a variety of options for getting in shape found across the region.

To see what kind of activities she tried out, visit here.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Hunt is on for best burger

The search is on. In its ongoing search for the best things to eat in Michigan MLive is currently hunting down the best burgers. Downtown Kalamazoo's Studio Grill and Decatur's Laura's Little Burger Joint were voted as the Top 2 burger joints in the Kalamazoo area, according to MLive.com readers.The online poll had 2,453 votes with Studio Grill garnering 453 followed by Laura's Little Burger Joint with 449. Studio Grill's popular stuff burgers, including top sellers BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger, Spicy Sweet Pineapple Burger and the Watson Burger, pushed the restaurant to the win.

Excerpt: "We're very honored that the city of Kalamazoo loves us and our burgers. I'm happy as heck," said owner Craig Dotson, who has seen a large jump in burger sales in the last three days.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Detroit Free Press: Michigan Green Leaders

The Detroit Free Press has named its list of Michigan Green Leaders for 2013 and Western Michigan University is on it.  This year’s Detroit Free Press Michigan Green Leaders honorees demonstrate that going green is more widely accepted than ever, the newspaper reports.
Excerpt: "Western Michigan University won in the public sector category for its remarkable range of 'green' activities. Among those, WMU has among the most extensive electric vehicle operation on college campuses in the nation; makes all students, faculty, and staff eligible to ride Kalamazoo public transit for free, and has had a full-time recycling coordinator since 1990."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Detroit Free Press

MLive: Fundraiser for mounted police set

A fundraiser for the volunteer Mounted Division of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's department will be part of the June Jubilee festivities downtown, reports MLive. Festival-goers are invited to have their picture taken with the horses and officers at a booth on South Street where Art on the Mall will be taking place. A $5 donation is suggested. Officers and horses will be there from noon to 2 p.m.  Saturday. All of the costs related to training, travel and food and board for the horses come from donations or out of the volunteer’s pocket.
Excerpt: “They’ve helped improve safety not only in downtown but the city as a whole,” Brian Persky, planning and development coordinator for DKI, said of the volunteer mounted unit. “We obviously think they are extremely valuable and just as important as any other safety tool.”
For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Elementary students learn advanced theories

Students at El Sol Elementary School in the Kalamazoo Public Schools are learning graduate-level social theories on "cultural humility and transformative complicity" and how to apply them to life, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.
They are learning it from a board game called "Go." Students from the Academy of the Americas in Detroit taught the game to Kalamazoo children and adults.  
Excerpt: The idea is that having students teach others the rules of the game promotes the values of mutual learning and teaching, plus respect and humility -- values that translate to reducing violence through the acknowledgement of personal worth and cultural validation, researchers say. “Go is more than a game of strategy, it is a way of life. It connects people and communities together," said Oscar Hernández, a Academy of the Americas student and a Go Cultural ambassador.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Ronda Stryker receives 2013 YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement award

In recent years, Rhonda Stryker has become known as a hands-on philanthropist who--much like her grandfather, Homer Stryker--combines an idealist's passion with a pragmatist's eye for problem-solving, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. 
In recognition of her accomplishments, Stryker recently received the 2013 YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement award.
Stryker, who has served on the Stryker Corp. board for almost 30 years, is the only Stryker family member with a direct role in the company.
Excerpt: Together with Bill Johnston, her husband of 30 years, Stryker has invested considerable time and money into her hometown. Although the couple's penchant for anonymous donations makes the true scope of their impact unclear — "It's about humility and not seeking the limelight," Johnston says — they are among Kalamazoo County's most influential residents, ensuring that Stryker money and Stryker Corp. continue as a powerful, positive force in the community.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Detroit News: Grand opening held for Model A museum

A new Ford dealership recently opened up in southwestern Michigan. Actually, it's a very old one, reports the Detroit News. The Model A Ford Museum held its grand opening ceremony on May 18. Fashioned after a Ford dealership from 1928, the 12,000-square-foot museum sits on the Gilmore Car Museum campus in Hickory Corners, about 115 miles west of Detroit. The new facility is the world's largest public museum dedicated to the Model A, according to marketing director Jay Follis.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Detroit News

Detroit Free Press: Church halts liquor license

Your food is delicious, Marta Parilli’s customers would tell her, reports the Detroit Free Press. But a drink would make the meal even better. Can we see the wine list? Well, no. Parilli is the owner, manager and cook at Marta’s Fine Foods in Oshtemo, just outside Kalamazoo. She opened her small European-style deli just before Memorial Day last year in the little strip mall near Ninth Street and Stadium. 
Parilli began the standard process to obtain a liquor license, applying for one of the two available through the township board. Trustees expressed their support for the idea and scheduled a routine vote. But a nearby church notified the board that it opposed the restaurant’s request. And to the township board’s surprise, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission said that was enough to deny quick approval of the license. The matter went back to the township board which granted its approval now must return to the Liquor Control Commission for final review.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Detroit Free Press

National Geographic: Battle Creek brewer, others toast clean water

National Geographic reports that inside Arcadia Ales’ brewery, the air is pungent with fermenting beer, and Tim Suprise is talking water. The founder and president of the Battle Creek,  microbrewery recently signed on to Brewers for Clean Water, a Natural Resources Defense Council program that launched in mid-April.  Twenty-two craft breweries have already joined the campaign, which is the first of its kind nationwide. So far, most of the brewers are located in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Excerpt: Surrounded by giant sacks of malt and wooden barrels, a glass of beer appropriately in hand, Suprise told a group of journalists he’s sending a simple message: "You can’t have a sustainable culture or society without our most precious resource, and that’s water." 
The story says at the new brewery, Suprise's goal is to cut water use by 25 to 30 percent, mostly by recycling wastewater. Historically, water left over after making beer was dumped down the drain, where it ended up at local water-treatment plants.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: National Geographic

MLive: Owners vow to bring back La Mexicana Market

La Mexicana Market, owned by Francisco and Carmen Vargas, was the site of an electrical fire in October 2012 after 14 years in business. The building was declared a total loss, and the fire put 10 people out of work. Now the owners are working to restore the business in the Edison neighborhood, reports MLive.
Excerpt: The owners’ son, Javier, who owns Mi Pueblo restaurant at 3420 Gull Road, says the family hopes to reopen the market before the end of the year. "We want to rebuild at the same location, with a grocer, a taco stand, the butcher shop and popsicles," Javier said. "The community is really supporting us. When we burnt down we had hundreds drop by, hugging my Mom and Dad. Even now, I get random phone calls. They ask us when we are rebuilding."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Why they like living downtown

There's a lot to like when it comes to living downtown six residents recently told the Kalamazoo Gazette. 
Excerpt: "I like the activity, the interaction of people everyday," businessman and Life Story Building co-owner Herb Ayres said. "The proximity to the services a person uses everyday is great too. Things like, restaurants, Keystone bank, Urban hair salon, The Fitness Spot just a few of the businesses I frequent without getting into a car."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Global Prize awarded for social justice leadership

Activists from all over the world traveled to Kalamazoo College recently for the first-ever Global Prize for Collaborative Social Justice Leadership. MLive reports the three winners are: The Dalia Association, a Palestinian-led community foundation working for self-determination; Language Partners, a prisoner-created bilingual education program that works in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Building Power for Restaurant Workers, a wage-justice project founded by workers displaced by the bombing of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Kalamazooans rally around the Beer City USA vote

Beer City USA voting has begun and list of reasons to vote for Kalamazoo are popping up all over. Kalamazoo and 21 other communities across the nation are competing for the title that organizers say is as much about community pride as it is about beer. 

Discover Kalamazoo is one of those encouraging people to vote and it says many local businesses and individuals have banded together to ask Kalamazoo residents and fans to rally and vote in the spirit of community pride.

 "While we need the support of the whole community for this title, this contest isn’t just about winning Beer City USA," Discover Kalamazoo president and CEO Greg Ayers says. "This is about harnessing the passion and pride that our residents have for our community. This is about uplifting our friends and neighbors, sharing our local history and coming together to tell the world about our love for Kalamazoo and its rapidly expanding craft beer scene."  

A get out the vote event is set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at Wild Bull.

Social media to promote the vote has been created: 

• Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/Beer4Kzoo 

• Twitter: @Beer4Kzoo

• Hashtag: #Beer4Kzoo

• Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/discoverkzoo/beer4kzoo/

And a web site is here.

Finally, for those undecided the most complete list we have seen posted by Buster Bronco on the site where supporters can vote: 

38 reasons to vote for Kalamazoo:
1. Santacon Kalamazoo - http://www.santaconkalamazoo.com/
2. Kalamazoo Beer Week - billed as the largest beer week in Michigan - http://www.kalamazoobeerweek.com/
3. Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant - http://oldepenkazoo.com/
4. Bilbos Pizza and Brewpub - http://www.bilbospizza.com/
5. Arcadia Ales - http://www.arcadiaales.com/index.php/blog/item/4-arcadia-brewing-company-bringing-jobs-to-west-michigan.html
6. Boatyard Brewing Company - http://boatyardbrewing.com/
7. Gonzo's Bigg Dogg Brewery - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gonzos-Bigg-Dogg-Brewery/132180910282558
8. Rupert's Brew House - https://twitter.com/RupeyKzooBrew
9. American Brewers Inc. http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2013/05/nearby_church_complicates_loca.html
10. Bell's Brewery  http://bellsbeer.com/  and Eccentric Café http://www.bellsbeer.com/eccentric-cafe/ 
11. Megabev - http://www.megabev.com/store/cat/55/Beer -- bills itself as the largest beverage store in Michigan
12. Drake Party Center - http://www.drakespartycenter.com/
13. The Den Partystore - https://www.facebook.com/TheDenPartyStore
14. Tiffany's Wine & Spirit Shoppe - http://www.aatiffany.com/
15. Bacchus Wine and Spirits - https://www.facebook.com/kzoobacchus
BARS, TAVERNS, PUBS, TAPHOUSES, AND SALOONS (not a complete list of all the bars in town)
16. The Y Bar - http://theybar.com/
17. Wild Bull Saloon & Steakpit - http://wildbull.co/
18. Wayside West - http://waysidewest.com/
19. UP AND UNDER - http://www.theuandu.com/
20. University Roadhouse - http://www.universityroadhouse.com/
21. Shakespeare's Pub - http://shakespearespub.com/
22. Ouzos Pub & European Grill - http://www.ouzoskalamazoo.com/
23. OLD DOG TAVERN - https://www.facebook.com/olddogtavern
24. Old Burdick's - http://www.oldburdicks.com/
25. O'Duffy's Pub - http://oduffyspub.com/
26. Monaco Bay Piano Bar and Grill - http://monacobay.co/
27. Main St. Pub - http://www.mainstpub.com/
28. Louie's Trophy House Grill - https://www.facebook.com/LouiesTrophyHouse
29. The Loft - http://www.millenniumrestaurants.com/loft/
30. The Library Kitchen & Taphouse - http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Library-Kitchen-Taphouse/153586994670425
31. Kalamazoo Beer Exchange - http://kalamazoobeerexchange.com/
32. Home Bar - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Home-Bar/108914772527968
33. The Grotto at Capone's - http://www.thegrottoatcapones.com/
34. Green Top Tavern - http://greentoptavern.com/
35. The Gatsby Nightclub - http://thegatsby.co/
36. Fletcher's Pub - http://www.fletcherspub.com/
37. Central City Tap House - http://www.millenniumrestaurants.com/central-city-tap-house/
38. The 411 Club - http://www.the411club.com/411club/

MLive: 2013 Kalamazoo Marathon a success

The 34th Borgess Run for the Health of It -- the umbrella for the Kalamazoo Marathon, half marathon, 5-k run, 5-k walk and the Kids Fun Run together drew 6,545 participants, reports MLive. That broke down to just shy of 700 runners from all 50 states in the marathon. Almost 2,400 took part in the 5k run and more than 2,600 ran the half marathon. Nearly 850 participated in the 5k walk.
Excerpt: “I think the other big thing, changes we had in the half marathon and marathon course, people liked running on the south side of the lake in Spring Valley and then had a little bit better street to run on,” Race Director Blaine Lam said. Mother Nature played its part on the sunny Sunday as well. When the marathon kicked off the day of running at 8 a.m., temperatures were in the low-60s and a slight breeze made it feel a little cooler. By early afternoon, temps had climbed into the upper-60s. “We were so lucky,” Lam said. “You know, it’s the luck of the draw.”
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: WMU to host Malaysian Midwest Games International 2013

More than 1,500 Malaysian students will be spending Memorial Day weekend at Western Michigan University this year, when the university hosts the Malaysian Midwest Games International 2013, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. This is the third time WMU has hosted the games, an annual sporting event sponsored by members of Malaysian student organizations at Midwest universities. 
More than 60 Malaysian students are currently enrolled at WMU. The 2013 games are expected to draw about 1,500 Malaysian students from across the U.S. and Canada to Kalamazoo. 
For more, please read the rest of the story
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Detroit Free Press: Bell's Brewery to open two new Michigan locations

More good news for Michigan’s growing legion of craft-beer fanatics: Bell’s, the beloved Kalamazoo-based beer brewer famous for its seasonal Oberon Ale, is planning to open new locations in Grand Rapids and Escanaba, reports the Detroit Free Press. "We think it will be a great opportunity to share Michigan’s beer culture and passion with visitors to our state," said Laura Bell, Bell’s Marketing Director.
Read more about it here.
Source: Detroit Free Press

Kalamazoo Gazette: Marathon runner plans to honor father, friend

When Rachel Hoffman lines up for the start of Kalamazoo Marathon on Sunday she will be running in memory of her father who died hours after she crossed the finish line at the Kalamazoo half marathon last year, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. She's also running for her friend Breeana Dixit who introduced Hoffman to running, helped her recover her spirits after her father's death and who was killed when she was hit by a car as she attempted to cross West Michigan Avenue.
Excerpt: She will keep Dixit and her father on her mind, "the two people who have so very much influenced me with my running, my self-esteem, everything," Hoffman said. "It's going to be a big weight to carry on my shoulders. But at the same time, these are two people who taught me to never back down from a challenge." Hoffman said she will run to honor them because they can't be here to run and she can.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Few changes ahead for Zoetis employees

MLive reports signage and new business cards may be the most drastic changes local employees who used to work for Pfizer Inc.’s animal health unit will see this year.  Pfizer Inc. spun off the unit into the standalone Zoetis Inc. in February. Some 700 research and development employees and 300 manufacturing employees in Kalamazoo will continue to perform their jobs as before. They also will continue to be crucial in providing farmers and pet owners with drugs that keep animals healthy, the company’s new chief executive officer Juan Ramon Alaix told MLive.
Excerpt: "We are highly dependent on Kalamazoo to generate growth," he said. "It is in Kalamazoo where most of our products are developed. Our teams there need stability; R&D requires several years of investment and persistence. Stability and people are key factors for us in Kalamazoo."
For more, please read the rest of the story
Source: MLive

MLive: Runners support Boston victims

Wearing sneakers and "Runners for Boston" shirts, runners flooded downtown Kalamazo streets to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings recently. Gazelle Sports joined running stores around the nation, who hosted charity events. More than 1,000 people attended the local event, raising about $14,000. 
Excerpt: "Running will help us overcome this tragedy," said Rob Lillie, general manager of Gazelle Sports in Kalamazoo. "We (as a nation) are going to raise enough the money to take care the of the victim medical bills. This was a positive experience off of a negative experience."
For more, please read the rest of the story
Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Hotel room stays rose during 2012

A survey of the number of hotel rooms sold (occupied overnight) in Kalamazoo County during 2012 indicates sales were up 2.9 percent from calendar year 2011, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Room taxes collected during the year were up 2.4 percent, said Greg Ayers, president of Discover Kalamazoo, the area’s convention and visitors organization.
Excerpt: "One of the things that was reported last year is we had more rooms occupied -- sold -- than at any other time in the history of Kalamazoo County," Ayers said. That represents more than 16,000 additional room nights sold in 2012 than in 2011. Visitors paid for a total of about 578,000 room nights in 2012, he said.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Running community shows solidarity

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports more than 200 Kalamazoo-area runners gathered to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing by running as a group Tuesday evening at the Celery Flats. 
Excerpt: “Use that first half mile to see how lucky we are to be out here running today,” Brett Beier, who organized the run, said from the platform of the grain elevator shortly before a moment of silence was held for the victims of the bombings. “Some people won’t be able to ever run again.” Beier said a tribute intended to include 10 to 20 of his friends turned into a much larger gathering -- and took on the name Solidarity Run -- because of the closeness of the Kalamazoo running community.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Stryker gets Lifetime Woman of Achievement award

Ronda Stryker, a Portage philanthropist  best known for her work in higher education, is the recipient of the 2013 YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement award, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Stryker, 58, will be honored at the 29th Annual YWCA Women of Achievement Award Celebration, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the Radisson Plaza Hotel.
Excerpt: The YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement Award is given to a person who has demonstrated a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the well-being of the community, state or nation, and has a record of accomplishment, leadership and positive role modeling as a volunteer and/or in a career. "Ronda Stryker’s passion for the causes she cares about has contributed to the many successes of the organizations with which she works," said the YWCA news release.
For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Secant Technologies gets $157,000 in school contracts

Secant Technologies of Kalamazoo has received two contracts from Kalamazoo Public Schools totaling more than $157,000 for technology upgrades, reports MLive. One is to upgrade and expand the wireless system in its school buildings. The other contract is to purchase 30 HP desktop computers, with Microsoft Office and 19-inch monitors to replace the oldest computers located in a computer lab at Milwood Magnet School.
For more, please read the rest of the story
Source: MLive 

MLive: Texas Township to add to trailway

Texas Township is moving forward with plans for a Texas Drive trailway with an amendment that adds two sidepaths, reports MLive. The township board recently voted unanimously to add the sidepaths, which are required for the township to receive a $300,000 Michigan Department of Transportation grant toward the trailway. Township Superintendent Julie VanderWiere said that, although the township is not guaranteed the grant yet, she was told it absolutely would not be granted if the sidepaths were not added.
The trail will start at the Al Sabo Land Preserve, run through the preserve, come out to and across Texas Drive along a Consumers Energy easement, then follow that easement out to 12th Street, where it will head north to the roundabout at Milham Avenue. One sidepath will connect the trail where it emerges onto Texas Drive with Annandale Drive. The other will connect the trail on 12th Street with the end of a sidewalk slightly north of 12th Street Elementary. VanderWiere said MDOT wants the sidepaths in order to improve the trail's connectivity with neighborhoods and schools.
For more, please read the rest of the story
Source: MLive

MLive: Tax foreclosures drop by 36 percent

The number of Kalamazoo County parcels that went into tax foreclosure recntly dropped about 36 percent from 2012, reports MLive. In the county, 221 parcels were foreclosed on this year because of unpaid property taxes from 2010 and prior years, Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema said. That's a drop from record-setting 346 parcels the treasurer foreclosed on in 2012.
Owners of those parcels owed a total of base tax for 2010 and prior years of nearly $537,000  and interest and penalties of nearly $327,000. About 20 of the parcels that went into tax foreclosure were homesteads. The rest were vacant lots, rental homes and businesses. Parcels in the city of Kalamazoo made up 78 percent of the total foreclosures.
Excerpt: "The better news is the parcels we did not foreclose on," Balkema told the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. Balkema said her office helped 271 property owners avoid foreclosure. Of those, 36 received help from a lifeline grant. Another 62 received help from the Helping Michigan's Hardest Hit Homeowners program. Balkema's office gave 173 property owners facing financial hardship an extra year to pay their back taxes.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Allegan looks for 'Big Wow' on riverfront

The "Big Wow" on the Riverfront in Allegan is the goal of a plan to upgrade the string of riverfront property in Allegan's downtown. While the plan's draft hasn't been made public, at a previous public meeting ideas abounded.
"We've talked about things like ice skating rinks, amphitheaters in the riverfront area, the greening up of the parking lot," City Manager-Clerk Robert Hillard said. More parking space  is among the suggestions.
The Riverfront Design Meeting is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11, at the Griswold Memorial Auditorium. The public is invited. This will be the last meeting for public input. 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Forbes: Kalamazoo's Newmind and the cloud

Forbes magazine reports Daniel Jefferies, the founder of Newmind Group, parlayed his growing reputation as an IT expert into his own company when he started Newmind Group in 2003. Today Newmind Group has 15 employees spread across Michigan, South Carolina, Minnesota, and California.  Newmind also works with third-party IT companies to help solve problems that their 900 customers around North America have.  Since Newmind Group has scalable resources, they can send people on-site almost anywhere.
Excerpt: One of Newmind’s clients is called Greenleaf Hospitality, a hospitality management company that oversees two hotels, five ice arenas, seven restaurants, two retail shops, and a spa. Greenleaf Hospitality needed a way to transition from a legacy system to a cloud-based system so that they could stay on top of reports from different locations.  Newmind stepped in and managed the deployment.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Forbes

MLive: United Way surpasses goal

The United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region has exceeded its 2013 fundraising goals of more than $15.35 million, by raising $15.7 million, report MLive. The Kalamazoo campaign generated $9.6 million this year and the Battle Creek effort raised $6.1 million, both exceeding target goals set at a campaign kick-off in September. The goal for Battle Creek was $5.8 million and the goal for Kalamazoo was $9.5 million.
Excerpt: “These results are especially impressive because previous United Way mergers have seen temporary decreases in support,” said Michael Larson, president and chief executive officer of the United Way for the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. “Once again, the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo region proves it’s the generous and compassionate exception to the rule.”
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Sturgis Journal: Plan to clean rivers proceeds

The Sturgis Journal reports the third of a five-year plan to clean all 150 miles of rivers in St. Joseph County will begin June 1, when a stretch of the Prairie River in Lockport Township will be the first of seven river and riverbank cleanup events this summer. Members of the County Conservation District recently announced the dates and locations of the 2013 program, which will see about 26 collective miles of debris removed from five different waterways.
Excerpt: Jen Miller, conservation district administrator, said the Centreville-based agency plans to stage a high-profile campaign later in the year in hopes of landing a crop of new volunteers and hopefully getting assistance from past participants. "We had eight events last year and participation was across the board," Miller said. 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Sturgis Journal

MLive: Kalamazoo Promise analysis

An in-depth analysis of ACT scores by Mlive/Kalamazoo Gazette shows that the rate of improvement in Kalamazoo high schools easily outpaces the state numbers as well as the composite average of seven other urban districts: Battle Creek, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, Muskegon and Saginaw.
The analysis looked at the ACT results in two ways: Comparing changes  median ACT scores in each of the four subjects -- reading, English, math and science -- as well as comparing the percent of students who hit the "college-ready" benchmarks set by the ACT.
For more results, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: It's the 50th anniversary of the K Plan

Fifty years ago, Kalamazoo College threw out the traditional course of study and did away with summer vacation, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. It was the making of the institution, many said on the golden anniversary of the K Plan. “It did set it apart. It enabled it to grow in stature and grow in the number of students,” said Charlotte Hall, a Kalamazoo College trustee and a member of the Class of 1966 – the first to go through all four years on the K Plan. In fact, Kalamazoo College's enrollment increased by more than a third in size during the first decade after the K Plan was implemented – from 750 to 1,200 students.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Charter school for elite athletes proposed

A charter school that would cater to the specific needs of teenage elite athletes --  specifically in hockey, soccer and figure skating -- is being proposed for the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek area, reports MLive. Legacy Academy would serve grades 7-12 and be located at The Revolution Arena in Battle Creek, home to the Battle Creek Ice Hockey Association, and also at the Kingdom Indoor Soccer Center in Portage, according to a grant application filed with the Michigan Department of Education.
Excerpt: The target student population will be hockey players, figure skaters and soccer players who can train and take classes at the same location. It would be the first such school in Michigan, and the idea is modeled on a school for tennis players in Las Vegas, said Heather Montei, who is serving as spokeswoman for the project organizers. Realistically, the earliest the school would open is fall 2014, Montei said.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Niles Daily Star: Sixth Generation to invade Britain

Sixth Generation, the quintet, formed in 1966 as a Niles garage band, will be the only American group performing on the bill in the birthplace of the Beatles, Liverpool’s Cavern Club to celebrate Ringo Starr’s 73rd birthday July 7.
Excerpt: When Sixth Generation reunited in 2010 after a 40-year break, no one expected tours, CDs with original songs, hall of fame status or the boomer anthem “That Was the Time,” with more than 100,000 YouTube views. As Dave Walenga likes to say, “Nothing surprises me. And now this opportunity. We’re not reliving our youth. We’ve never been. This is our first time. We take this in stride.”
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Niles Daily Star

Niles Daily Star: Sixth Generation to invade Britain

Sixth Generation, the quintet, formed in 1966 as a Niles garage band, will be the only American group performing on the bill in the birthplace of the Beatles, Liverpool’s Cavern Club to celebrate Ringo Starr’s 73rd birthday July 7.
Excerpt: When Sixth Generation reunited in 2010 after a 40-year break, no one expected tours, CDs with original songs, hall of fame status or the boomer anthem “That Was the Time,” with more than 100,000 YouTube views. As Dave Walenga likes to say, “Nothing surprises me. And now this opportunity. We’re not reliving our youth. We’ve never been. This is our first time. We take this in stride.”
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Niles Daily Star

Kalamazoo Gazette: ABC's 'Extreme Makeover' crew to visit

The production crew of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" will be in Kalamazoo on May 22 to film the "reveal" of Alyssa Stommen and everyone is invited, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Stommen will be featured on the third season of the reality TV show that follows a group of people for 12 months as they try to lose weight. The 5-foot-6 Stommen, 22, said recently that she weighed more than 400 pounds when her "journey" started nine-and-a-half months ago. Stommen signed a contract with ABC and is not able to talk specifically about her appearance.
Excerpt: "Anyone who personally knows me says I've lost an amazing, incredible amount of weight," she said.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Women Who Care give $14,200 for children

Warm Kids Project will receive $14,200 from the new charitable organization Women Who Care of Kalamazoo County, reports MLive. At its inaugural meeting Feb. 20, the 117 members of Women Who Care of Kalamazoo in attendance chose Warms Kids Project from among 20 charities nominated to receive its first donation. At four meetings to be held each year, members will each pledge $100 to a charity to be chosen that night. Members who are present have the opportunity nominate a charity, hear presentations on three of them and then vote. Members then write $100 checks to the charity that receives the most votes. 
Excerpt: "It gives the organizations the opportunity to do what they do best and not have to worry about raising money," Kalamazoo City Commissioner Barbara Miller said.

For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Otsego gets Michigan Main Street designation

Otsego is set to celebrate its designation as a Michigan Main Street and the five years of intensive help it will get from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) in revitalizing its downtown. The city made a pitch to the state to receive the assistance with a video complete with Wizard of Oz characters and a flash mob that brought out several hundred people. 
Excerpt: "Like many communities, we've had a decline in business in recent years," Otsego city commissioner and Otsego Main Street chairperson Molly Wieber said at that time. "We realized we need to step it up. And people have come out in droves to support this effort. It's overwhelming."

For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: New Air Zoo president shares joy of science, aviation

Troy Thrash took over as president and CEO of the museum when Bob Ellis retired at the end of January. Thrash's love for aerospace began at age 7 when his parents bought him a telescope, reports MLive.
Excerpt: "My two passions are aerospace and education, and here it is at the Air Zoo," said Thrash. "I want kids to see that science isn't about a textbook, studying science trivia, but it's about what you do with your hands."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Polar Plunge part of winter carnival

The Kalamazoo Polar Plunge was the high point of a number of activities during the recent MyWMU Winter Carnival at Goldsworth Valley on Western Michigan University's campus, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Participants raised money for Special Olympics Michigan by collecting at least $75 before being able to jump into Goldsworth Valley Pond.
Excerpt: Many who jumped into the freezing water wore costumes and outfits while some stripped down to just the bare essentials in clothing and others wore stuff as simple as shorts and T-shirts. Participants in the event included WMU President John Dunn, who proclaimed it was his final year jumping into the water. New head football coach P.J. Fleck and his wife, Tracie, joined in for the event along with WMU alum and current Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive end Jason Babin.
For more, and pictures, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Cassopolis Vigilant: Three Cass County expansions in works

During 2012, Cass County saw 327 jobs created by 14 different companies that also invested $8 million in the community, the Cassopolis Vigilant reports. There also are three large expansion projects being examined for 2013. 
Excerpt: Cass County Economic Development consultant Cindy LaGrow said, "I can’t say what those all entail just yet, but they are existing businesses looking to grow, and all three are talking about investments of over $1 million, with many jobs attached to them. It’s really important to have that connection and relationship with those companies, so they have someone to go to if they need permitting assistance, rezoning assistance or brand-related assistance."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Cassopolis Vigilant

B.C. Enquirer: Festivus draws hundreds

The Battle Creek Metropolitan Area Mustache Society is dedicated to making Battle Creek a fun place to be. Or as founder Jeremy Andrews puts it to "encourage young people to like their city again and not say that Battle Creek sucks." Toward that end, each year they have a number of events like the one dedicated to winter fun: Festivus. Watch the Battle Creek Enquirer's video of the event here

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Courier Leader: Paw Paw blood drive honors kindergarten cancer patient

Kevin Linder of Paw Paw was diagnosed with cancer when he was 2 years old. It's been in transmission twice but has now returned. The community is rallying around Kevin.
Excerpt: Administrators, teachers and families from Kevin’s school are reaching out to show their support. "Although Kevin's treatment and care is currently preventing him from attending school, his school family embraces the opportunity to provide him and his family support during this difficult time," said Paw Paw Early Elementary Principal Melissa Dahlinger. "We are honored to show our support for Kevin and others in need of blood through this blood drive."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Paw Paw Courier Leader

MLive: Bell's Brewery to open sports bar

Larry Bell, a longtime Chicago Cubs fan, is planning to open a sports bar at Bell's Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo, reports MLive. Larry Bell's Chicago-Biased Thinking Person's Sports Bar is in the redesigned Beer Garden and it will emphasize Chicago teams. 
Excerpt: Bell said he plans to embrace any rivalries between Chicago and Detroit teams, including when the Bears and the Lions play. "It could be an interesting place to go," Bell said of those games.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Runners wear colorful garb to county park

Snowy Spring Valley Park was awash with vibrant color recently, as more than 950 runners and walkers took part in the 2.2-mile Tutu Run, an inaugural event to benefit the Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. This year nearly 2,400 girls have signed up to take part in the 10-week program that aims to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development using running as a tool.
Excerpt: Participants embraced the theme, wearing tutus in every conceivable color -- store-bought and homemade. 

For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Frog, turtle, seal add family friendly element to mall

Three pieces of playground equipment appeared on the Kalamazoo Mall earlier this month, gifts from a benefactor who wants to help Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. make the Kalamazoo Mall inviting for families, reports MLive.
Steve Deisler, president of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. told MLive a key downtown partner who was instrumental in helping develop the Arcadia Creek Festival Place, stepped up to provide funding for the equipment.
Excerpt: "He is adamant that if you make it an exciting place for children then you bring the mothers, then you bring more shoppers," Deisler said. "He's adamant that these little amenities support retail and support business downtown."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

MLive: New trail could go from Paw Paw to Lawrence

The Van Buren County Board of Commissioners officially supports the conversion of the idle railroad track from Paw Paw to Lawrence to a trail, reports MLive. The rails are good, but the railbed itself won't support the weight of a freight train. The Paw Paw-based West Michigan Railroad Company wants to abandon the track from Paw Paw west of a point near Lawrence, opening up the possibility of a third recreation trail in Van Buren County.
Excerpt: Upgrading it for train use would run $1 million per mile, according to Edward VanderVries. The section of track being eyed for a trail covers 10.67 miles of the 15-mile railroad track that runs between Paw Paw and Hartford.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Philharmonia music director wins conducting prize

The musical director of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia and an associate professor of music at Kalamazoo College, Andrew Koehler, recently placed fourth in the Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors -- the highest showing by an American -- winning a $13,353 prize and the chance to return to Poland this year as a guest conductor. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that to compete, he had to learn 18 symphonic scores so well that he could recreate them leading an orchestra of musicians with whom he'd never worked and for whom English was by no means a first language. 
Excerpt: "When we arrived, we had to be prepared to conduct six different pieces before each round. We would draw lots to find out which two pieces of these six we'd be conducting."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Area home sales continue upward trend

Homes sales in Greater Kalamazoo ended 2012 on a positive note, up 23.3 percent for December versus the same month a year ago, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. And for the year, homes sales were up 18.9 percent, according to data provided by the Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors. Association members reported 328 residential sales in December, up from 266 in December of 2011 and up about 2 percent from the 319 houses sold in November.
Excerpt: "Consumers' increasingly optimistic attitude about the real estate market combined with low mortgage rates and rental price increase expectations could spur those waiting on the sidelines to buy a home sooner rather than later," 2013 GKAR President Shelly Pattison said.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Cassopolis Vigilant: Robo Rangers climb pyramid

The Robo Rangers from Cassopolis are hard at work on their second robot. And they've come a long way in the past year considering some team members originally didn't even know how to use some of the tools, reports the Cassopolis Vigilant. 
Excerpt: Things have changed in the past 12 months, according to Project Manager Molly Moroz. "Those kids are now leading the build team," Moroz said.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Cassopolis Vigilant

Niles Daily Star: Trail project fundraising to begin soon

Private commitments totalling nearly $41,000 have been raised for the Niles Charter Township portion of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail, reports the Niles Daily Star. The township has committed $141,000 toward the project. When finished, the trail will connect Niles to Mishawaka with 34 miles of multi-use trail. The township’s portion covers 3.5 miles from the state line to the City of Niles.
Two separate grants totalling more than $700,000 for the project have been recommended for approval according to Harry Thibault, township park commission chairman said the grant monies are not guaranteed. 
Excerpt: "The Niles Charter Township Park Commission and our cooperating, regional trail planners see this project not only as a recreational trail, but as a means of economic development, alternative transportation, health promotion, pollution mitigation and esthetic growth," Thibault said.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Niles Daily Star

Paw Paw Courier Leader: Visions for downtown Lawton

New decorative sidewalks and crosswalks, trees and planters, new lighting fixtures and signage, could be part of a new look for the Village of Lawton all designed to entice those driving through the village to slow down and take a look around. The Paw Paw Courier Leader reports village officials hope such measures would bring more business to the village and help strengthen Lawton’s identity along with slowing down traffic on Main Street and offering safe pedestrian crossing on the road also known as M-40.
Excerpt: "All this does come at a cost," Matt Davis, of Wightman & Associates, the village’s engineering firm, told council members Tuesday night during their regular monthly meeting. The total estimated cost is $810,000 to spruce up a slightly more than three-quarter-mile stretch of Main Street between White Oak Road and Fourth Street. The village’s estimated portion of the cost is $408,780.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Paw Paw Courier Leader 

Chicago Magazine: Time for a brew in Kalamazoo

Chicago Magazine encouraged readers to visit Kalamazoo for the third annual Kalamazoo Beer Week, Jan. 11 through Jan. 18. The magazine says: Over the week, local restaurants and breweries will host more than 100 beer-related events, including tastings, home brewing and bottling demonstrations, brewery tours, seminars in beer cocktails, and a "Sunday beer brunch."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: Chicago Magazine 

MLive: Bedding plant industry faces challenges

Lisa Ambrosio, who took over the reins of her family's Wenke Greenhouses Jan.1, comes in at a time when her job will be to wrestle with an industry that is undergoing huge changes, reports MLive. 
Across the industry, sales have remained flat and profit margins continue to shrink. In Kalamazoo County, there has been little, if any, new greenhouse construction in the past five years -- in contrast to the previous five years, which saw 5 to 10 percent growth annually, said Lorence Wenke, Ambrosio's father. Shrinking profit margins have prompted some growers to retire, others to sell out, and there are fewer, larger operations now.
Excerpt: Ambrosio's biggest challenge in leading what Wenke said is the 29th largest greenhouse business in the nation will be learning to adapt to changing consumer demand in a very competitive environment where there is little room for mistakes.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

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.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
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. 
For more, please read the rest of the story.
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.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
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.
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

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.  

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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."
For more, please read the rest of the story.
Source: MLive

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

MLive: Kalamazoo Public Library recognized

For superior customer services, the Kalamazoo Public Library was awarded a trophy and $500 at the Michigan Library Association conference in Detroit, reports MLive.

Excerpt: Helga Mortensen is one regular library patron who is thankful for that level of service. A tutor who uses the KPL to help get materials for her students, Mortensen forgot her keys at the self-service center Wednesday morning and was relieved when the library staff quickly recovered them. "The customer service has always been excellent," Mortensen said. "They're helpful and polite. Whenever I need something they're quick to help me."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

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."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

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.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

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."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Sturgis Journal

Kalamazoo Gazette: Zombie record close but not quite in reach

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports chants of "We want brains!" echoed across the Arcadia Creek Festival Place in downtown Kalamazoo recently as more than 3,000 people wearing zombie makeup gathered for the Zombie Festival. It was an attempt to reach a world record and collect food for those in need at the same time.

Excerpt: Zombies filed into the quarantine area, grabbing a numbered wristband as they entered. As the time deadline approached, the volunteers realized they were about 100 zombies short of the record. Bystanders were asked to get in makeup and join the fun.

For more please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Sturgis Journal: Idea grows for trail

An old railroad bed that stretches 1,000 feet west of Big Hill Road outside Sturgis to Garfield Road near Coldwater has become the center of a community conversation on whether it should be converted to trails, reports the Sturgis Journal. The Indiana Northeastern Railroad Co. filed a notice of abandonment on Sept. 18, triggering comments from trail enthusiasts and property owners.

Excerpt: Beverly Ohm, who started the not-for-profit Branch Area Bike Association (BABA) 10 years ago, said her group would be remiss to ignore this opportunity and announced she is going ahead with the request for interim trail use. Last week, Ohm did electronically file an intent to take responsibility for the rail corridor.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Sturgis Journal

Detroit News: Wineries wrap up bountiful harvest

The 2012 vintage in Michigan will be yet another in a string of excellent harvests, reports the Detroit News. Vintners are in agreement that the wines may be softer because of lower acids caused by the dry heat, but ripeness, especially for the reds, may help make for that.

Excerpt: Picking started earlier than vintners can ever remember, and here in early October, only a few grapes are left on the vines to further mature. St. Julian winemaker Nancie Corum Oxley, who always works the harvest into November, commented on Facebook she was getting a day off to head back to Purdue Saturday for the Homecoming football game -- for the first time since she moved to Michigan.

For more and to find out about two Southwest Michigan vintners included in a roundup of harvest outcomes, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Detroit News

Kalamazoo Gazette: Cranberry harvest looks robust

It may have been a grim growing season for many farmers this year, but so far things look good for cranberries. "We haven't got it in the box yet," but this year's cranberry harvest at DeGrandchamp Farm looks "very nice," Joe DeGrandchamp tells the Kalamazoo Gazette.

DeGrandchamp says the plants are sprayed with water, and as it freezes, the water gives off heat -- enough to protect the blossoms.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Niles Daily Star: Jail program in national spotlight

The Fresh Start Prevention Program, a program developed to prepare inmates to succeed when they are released from jail has helped 269 women and 53 men thus far, and 40 have graduated from the eight- to 10-week program and its organizers have been invited to be on a national committee on recidivism. Fresh Start deals with many inmates with drug addictions, teaching them warning signals, positive solutions and coping skills.

Excerpt: ""We have changed the behavior within the jail," said Berrien County Commissioner Marletta Seats. "We’ve received 200 to 300 letters from inmates and deputies on a weekly basis on behavior changes. Not just because they’re in a controlled environment but because they’ve been taught new skills."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Niles Daily Star

Atlantic: Do college tuition programs work?

Atlantic Cities, picking up on a recent New York Time Magazine story on Kalamazoo and its scholarship program known as The Promise, recently asked readers if they would consider moving to Kalamazoo knowing their children's college education could be paid for.

The story also goes on to examine Promise programs inspired by the Kalamazoo effort. John Austin, Director of the Great Lakes Economic Initiative, talks about what elements of the Promise work.

Excerpt: "You need a program that’s simple, blunt, and elegant," Austin says, which is why the Kalamazoo Promise seems to have worked well in Kalamazoo though it’s been less successful in places such as Pittsburgh and New Haven.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Atlantic Cities

Kalamazoo Gazette: Busy in the Columbia Plaza Building

The Kalamazoo office of the Detroit-based Honigman law firm is bringing resources into the community, reports the Kalalmazoo Gazette. The 4-year-old office has grown exponentially by attracting talented people. It pays them well with revenue generated primarily outside the area. And it capitalizes on the area's knowledge base in pharmaceuticals, life-sciences, medical devices, and financial institutions.

Excerpt: Intellectual property work -- particularly patent work in the pharmaceutical industry -- is one of three segments of legal work that has helped propel the growth of Honigman's Kalamazoo office from two attorneys and a couple of support staff members four years ago, to 21 attorneys with a support staff of about 30 now.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Marijuana ordinance adopted

People caught possessing marijuana in Kalamazoo will receive an appearance ticket instead of being arrested, under an ordinance recently adopted by the Kalamazoo City Commission, MLive reports. The ordinance also lessens maximum fines and jail time for offenders. Kalamazoo previously has been prosecuting marijuana use under state law.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: The historic significance of craft beer

Michigan has emerged as a top-five state in the country for craft brew beer with well over 100 breweries, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports. And the state has become a destination for "beer-cations," where people plan vacations around beer communities. At the epicenter of the conversation is Bell's Brewery Inc., the state's largest beer maker, and Kalamazoo, home of Bell's Eccentric Cafe.

Excerpt: Laura Bell, marketing director for Bell's and the daughter of company president Larry Bell, said more breweries in Kalamazoo or the state is good as long as the quality remains high. "Brewing is an art form and the people who are doing it need to be passionate about it and make a quality product," she said. "We will survive as a state if that’s the main push ... more doesn't always mean better."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

WMUK: Upjohn Institute evaluates The Promise

Following the announcement of the Kalamazoo Promise in 2005 there was short term academic improvement. That's one of the findings of a new working paper from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research reported by WMUK, 102.1 FM. Senior Economist Tim Bartik and Economist Marta Lachowska co-wrote the paper on student behavior and academic performance.

Excerpt: Lachowska says they mainly found effects on student behavior. The number of days students were suspended went down by a lot. But she says there wasn’t much of an effect on grade point average for students as a whole. But Lachowska says there was an increase in GPA among African American students.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: WMUK

Crain's Detroit: Kalamazoo company gets innovation award

Ablative Solutions Inc. of Kalamazoo has been recognized as one of two innovators of the year awarded by Medical Main Street's first medical device conference, called Inno-vention 2012, reports Crain's Detroit Business. Ablative Solutions' CEO is Tim Fischell, M.D., a professor of medicine at Michigan State University and the medical director of the Borgess Heart Institute's department of cardiovascular research in Kalamazoo.

Excerpt: Ablative Solutions uses catheters to damage nerve fibers that pass from the brain to the kidney. The damaged nerves send fewer signals in sick patients, which lowers blood pressure and can treat hypertension and congestive heart failure. A prototype device has proved proof of principle, and human trials are expected to begin in the second quarter next year.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Crain's Detroit

Kalamazoo Gazette: Dog's tale goes around the world

Stories about Kevin Doorlag's dog Zeus, named the world's tallest dog by Guinness World Records, are being published in newspapers around the world, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. From the United Kingdom to Pakistan readers can't get enough of Zeus.

For a roundup of reports, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

NYT Magazine: A free ride to college

Attention for Kalamazoo's unique educational opportunities continues, this time with notice from New York Times Magazine.

They talked to many people across the community including Janice M. Brown, superintendent when The Kalamazoo Promise was announced and now administrator of the program that is called an important social experiment.

Excerpt: From the very beginning, Brown, the only person in town who communicates directly with the Promise donors, has suggested that the program is supposed to do more than just pay college bills. It’s primarily meant to boost Kalamazoo’s economy. The few restrictions -- among them, children must reside in the Kalamazoo public-school district and graduate from one of its high schools -- seem designed to encourage families to stay and work in the region for a long time. The program tests how place-based development might work when education is the first investment.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: New York Times Magazine

U.S. News and World Report: WMU ranks in nation

Western Michigan University is one of just four Michigan public universities included in the U.S. News & World Report's annual list of top-tier national universities. The publication's 2012 ranking of more than 1,500 four-year colleges and universities became available Sept. 18 in a print guidebook on newsstands.

Excerpt: Western Michigan University is a public institution that was founded in 1903. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 20,054, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 1,200 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Western Michigan University's ranking in the 2013 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, 189.

For more, please check out the rest of the description of WMU.

Source: U.S. News and World Report

MLive: Newborn giraffe now on exhibit

One of of the most fun things to do at Battle Creek's Binder Park Zoo is feed the giraffes. Now there is a new addition to the giraffe family at the zoo. Born on Aug. 8, the zoo's first female baby giraffe is on exhibit in the zoo's Wild Africa display. (The babies can't be fed till they are much older, though.)

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Sarkozy Bakery makes plans to reopen

The Columbia Plaza Building downtown is the new home for Sarkozy Bakery, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports. The bakery, gutted by fire Feb. 25 and subsequently embraced by the community which has sponsored fundraisers to bring back its breads, cookies and pastries, expects to reopen in early 2013. The renovation of space and the cost of getting the bakery up and going is expected to be about $600,000, owner Judy Sarkozy said.

For more, please read the rest of the story here.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Paw Paw's Model Farm celebrates 35 years

Denise Blakely overcame a fear of horses to go on to teach riding lessons. Blakely told MLive she has taught about 800 students over the years, with some now bringing their children to her for riding lessons. On Sept. 15 and 16, Blakely is hosting an open house to mark the 35h anniversary of the farm. All are welcome, she said. Horse professionals, such as dentists and veterinarians, will be there, and the event will include raffle drawings for free riding lessons and Model Farm sweatshirts, a tack sale and refreshments.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Michigan Radio: Help for young, undocumented immigrants

Many immigrants have been calling the Kalamazoo-based Hispanic American Council with questions about a new federal process that could prevent them from getting deported. Many are nervous about exposing their legal status. Executive Director Lori Mercedes says help is now available. The process will allow some people who came to the U.S. before they were 16 to stay in the United States. They must have a clean police record, among other requirements.

For more, please read or listen to the rest of the story.

Source: Michigan Radio

MLive: Pure Michigan video crew comes to town

Rob Bliss and Jeff Barrett, co-founders of Status Creative of Grand Rapids, which won awards for its Grand Rapids Lip Dub that showed the nation that Grand Rapids was far from the dying community as it had been labeled by a national news magazine will be filming in Kalamazoo, Portage and Battle Creek today, Aug. 23, as part of their 50-city tour for Pure Michigan.

The two hope to replicate the viral success of the Grand Rapids video with a new one highlighting Michigan as a great place to live, work and play as part of a Pure Michigan film project.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: It was a Dog Day in August

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts opened its doors Aug. 18 not only to the usual patrons but to their four-legged friends as well. For the first time, dogs were allowed to enter the building and accompany their owners everywhere except the galleries. There were activities for dog owners to enjoy, including make-and-take bandanas and dog photographs. Hot dogs were served in the courtyard.

Sara Wick, a docent with the museum, volunteered to hold people's dogs while they viewed the art exhibits. "I didn't know this was in our job description," Wick quipped. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to future programming at the KIA.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Rebuilding Sarkozy Bakery

Sarkozy Bakery was destroyed by fire in February and the community rallied around owner Judy Sarkozy urging her to repoen. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports she is in negotiations with a property owner in downtown Kalamazoo for a new location.

A benefit concert to raise money for the bakery has been set for Sept. 8. Pianist Phyllis Rappeport organized the event that will feature some of the Kalamazoo area’s most well-known musicians.

"My immediate response to the news of the fire, after some tears, was to put together a benefit concert," Rappeport told the Gazette. "Music brings people together and speaks to them as nothing else can, so the idea of a concert was a natural."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

The Atlantic Cities: Music puts Kalamazoo on the map

As part of the mapping of the geography of music in America, Richard Florida says: "Other smaller metros that do better than expected are Kalamazoo, Michigan (the former home of the Gibson guitar factory, founded in 1902, and the site of some major classical music festivals) at 8th overall."

That's music to our ears. 

For more, read the rest of the story.

Source: The Atlantic Cities

MLive: Ideas sought from public regarding county park

Most of the 26 miles of Lake Michigan frontage in Allegan County is privately owned, making the public access to Lake Michigan in one county park the park's most valuable asset, Kevin Ricco, Allegan County development director told the MLive.

Ideas on what would make the park better are being sought at a public brainstorming session from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Ganges Township Hall, 1904 64th Street, Fennville.

The park currently features two picnic shelters, a playground area, a maintenance building, two restroom buildings, picnic tables and stair access to the beach.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Eagles delight Nature Center goers

Two eagles spotted -- and photographed -- recently by visitors at the Kalamazoo Nature Center were the buzz of the center's Facebook page recently, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Chris Babiasz, host and buyer for Kalamazoo Nature Center gift shop, said two separate visitors showed her their pictures.

Excerpt: "We've known for several years that one (eagle) has lived on other side of the river," Babiasz said. He's been seen soaring, and a class of children last year were lucky enough to see the huge bird swoop down to pull a fish from the water, she said. "We didn't realize there was a pair."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Courier-Leader: St. Julian wines bring home 10 medals

St. Julian Wine Company of Paw Paw received three gold medals, two silver medals and four bronze medals in the Sixth Annual Mid-American Wine Competition, the Courier-Leader reports. St. Julian's award winners competed in Iowa with more than 600 wines entered by over 100 different wineries from 15 Midwestern states, July 13-15.

The local wine company collected gold for its steadfast Riesling, and its new Sweet Nancie champenoise and Cock of the Walk red wine.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Paw Paw Courier-Leader

Kalamazoo Gazette: Writer to travel to swing states

A Kalamazoo freelance writer is embarking on a trip to the nation’s swing states this election year to listen to and report the stories he thinks are missing from the political news arena: the stories of "everyday, average Americans," reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. He will travel through 11 "swing" voting states, where polling data shows electorate votes are equally divided. Chris Killian, who also has written for Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave, will write, photograph and videotape what he believes normal citizens would like to see change in America while traveling through Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. He’ll publish those stories on a new website, which is still under construction.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Niles Daily Star: Dance exhibition showcases Art in Motion

Dowagiac’s Summer in the City festival debuts a new five-hour dance exhibition, Art in Motion, this week reports the Niles Daily Star. The event brings together Mexican and African dance troops, along with students from community dance studios. The festival is set to begin today and run through Saturday.

For more information, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Niles Daily Star

Courier-Leader: Paw Paw Tree Farm part of nationally recognized program

Nearly 1,000 real Christmas trees have been delivered to military families since 2005 as part of the national program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, which donated its 100,000th tree during the Christmas of 2011. Gobles-based Wahmhoff Farms has been part of the program since it began and recently those involved learned it has been named one of 20 finalists in the Joining Forces Community Challenge, which recognizes organizations and individuals that have demonstrated a genuine desire to be of service to military families.

"We love being able to be part of the Trees for Troops program," said Betsy Wahmhoff Perales, of Wahmhoff Farms, told the Courier-Leader. “This is a great program which helps bring Christmas cheer and appreciation to military families during one of the most special -- and often hardest -- times of the year."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Paw Paw Courier-Leader

Sturgis Journal: Second Circle Line added in Sturgis

A second Circle Line bus offered through St. Joseph County Transportation Authority has been added in Sturgis, reports the Sturgis Journal. Steve Yorks, CTA executive director, said the number of riders now using the six-day-per-week Circle Line in St. Joseph County’s largest community justifies adding a second bus. "We’re seeing numbers of about 1,200 people a month using the Circle Line in Sturgis. The board has been watching those numbers closely and it has spent a number of months tossing around the idea of a second bus for Sturgis," Yorks said. The additional bus will follow a flex route, Yorks said, meaning exceptions will be made to veer off-course upon request.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Sturgis Journal

Kalamazoo Gazette: Group seeks information about sunken schooner

What happened to the two-masted schooner that caused it to sink off the shores of South Haven more than 100 years ago? Which vessel might it be, of the many that sunk during those dangerous times? The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Ken Fagerman, vice president of the Southwest Michigan Underwater Preserve, said those are among the questions his group hopes to answer over the coming months as it examines artifacts and remains of the 80-by-20-foot wooden ship found covered in the sands at the bottom of Lake Michigan approximately five miles out from South Haven in the protected waters of the preserve. SWMUP has partnered with the South Haven Maritime Museum in the effort to identify and preserve the wreck. "Preservation is part of our ethic," Fagerman said.

Click here for video footage of the wreck.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Baby giraffe is newest attraction at zoo

Mosi, a 6-week-old baby giraffe, has joined the giraffe exhibition area at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, reports MLive. Mosi was born May 17 and weighed 72 pounds, about half of the weight of the typical newborn giraffe. Because of his size, he was not allowed into the Wild Africa exhibition area until recently. Mosi, whose name is Swahili for "first born," is now 113 pounds and 5 feet tall. He is the fourth baby giraffe born at Binder Park and the first since 2009.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Yahoo Travel: Visit Kalamazoo (and Grand Rapids) for top craft brews

Yahoo Travel says: The roughly 50-mile stretch between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and its roughly eight to nine breweries (depending on the geographic leeway given by the person asked) constitute the heart of Michigan craft brewing, as do the two biggest breweries within it: Bell's and Founders.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Yahoo Travel

Time magazine: Getting along in Southwest Michigan

Time magazine's Joe Klein is making his way across the United States during this national election year. That trip recently brought him to Kalamazoo where he met with the Tea Party.

The Tea Party folks were well educated, most of them former executives in engineering and technical fields. They wanted to talk about the success they'd had in organizing–from local rallies attended by thousands, to finding successful candidates for local town and county boards, to Republican Party precinct captains. I wanted to move the conversation to policy and asked, "What are you most upset about?" "I'd like to reframe the question," said Bill Beck, a former Pfizer executive. "Being upset isn't our motivating factor. Our goal is to reorient the country toward a restoration [of the values enshrined in our founding documents]." Beck talked about the "dissolution of individual responsibility." He wanted people to "take control of their own lives…When you give people things, you're in control of what they get."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Time magazine

ABC News: Kalamazoo man has 29 college degrees

For 71-year-old Michael Nicholson of Kalamazoo 29 college degrees are not enough. Nicholson s now pursuing his 30th and plans to keep learning as long as he can, reports ABC news.

Nicholson has one bachelor's degree, two associate's degrees, 22 master's degrees, three specialist degrees and one doctoral degree. Most of the degrees are related to education such as educational leadership, library science and school psychology, but other degrees include home economics, health education and law enforcement.

Excerpt: "It's stimulation to go to the class, look at the material that's required and meet the teacher and students. It makes life interesting for me," Nicholson said. "Otherwise, things would be pretty dull."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: ABC News

Midwest Living: Destination Kalamazoo

Midwest Living features Kalamazoo in its recent issue. Its trip guide offers places to eat, where to drink and ideas on what to do while staying in the ‘Zoo. The Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Air Zoo are a few of the recommended highlights.

For more please, check out the rest of the story.

Source: Midwest Living

Kalamazoo Gazette: Social Charity Circle of Kalamazoo forms

Two friends wanted to make giving to charities affordable and stress-free for everyone in Kalamazoo, so they formed a new group to make it possible, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Once a month, the Social Charity Circle of Kalamazoo chooses a restaurant to host a three-hour event benefiting a local charity. The restaurant and charity is different each month. For a $10 donation, attendees receive one complimentary drink.

Melissa LaVanway and Krysten Avery co-founded the group. Avery said the events are a good way for people to network and support charities while doing something that they already do and enjoy.

For more, please read the rest of the story

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Earth Techling: Electric vehicles at WMU run pure green

The 15 charging stations for electric vehicles on Western Michigan University’s campus recently caught the eye of the magazine Earth Techling.

The story says this is nifty: Whereas Web-based power displays are common for solar installations, we’ve never seen a Web-based EV charging station consumption display – until now. Check it out. You can see that in May, the array produced 5,246 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, of which 1,139 kWh went directly to power vehicles. For the year, as of yesterday afternoon the array had produced 22.4 megawatt-hours (MWh) of power, with just under quarter of that electricity – 5.25 MWh – used by the EV chargers. Don’t worry about the power that doesn’t feed the chargers; the system is grid-tied, so it doesn’t go to waste.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Earth Techling

Kalamazoo Gazette: Country Parks free for one day

It's free to get into Kalamazoo County Park June 20, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. The Kalamazoo County parks offer three beaches, hiking trails, fishing and disc golf. The event, sponsored by Kalsee Credit Union, will feature the "Enter the Park Contest." People who visit all five of the county parks will have a chance to win a grand prize gift basket, including a 2012 annual vehicle entrance pass. Goody bags will also be available.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

The Deal: Kalamazoo reinvents itself

The Deal magazine recently featured Kalamazoo’s work to remain vibrant after Pfizer downsized its local operations.


Likewise, Kalamazoo could have moved on from its past as a drug development center and endeavored to shift, like many other American cities, to services, marketing its pastoral landscape and hearty restaurants, or simply done nothing.

Instead, Kalamazoo has tried to revitalize itself as a burgeoning Midwestern center for life sciences. Officials from the area, and throughout the state, have helped build support programs, early-stage angel and venture investment funds, and marketing outlets. The goal: grow and nurture life sciences companies in Kalamazoo and attract them to the city.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: The Deal

Mother Nature Network: New nesting spot for osprey

When the Kalamazoo Valley River Trail was routed next to the utility pole where osprey nested in 2011 friends of the birds decided to take action, reports Mother Nature Network. "This trail was going to go directly underneath their nest," says Matthew Clysdale, who is documenting the birds return to the Kalamazoo River.

He consulted with an osprey expert who told him that the human traffic would probably put a great deal of stress on the birds and maybe even cause them to abandon their nest. A new pole and its nesting platform were put up this winter while the birds were spending the season in South America. The old pole was then cut down to prevent the ospreys from returning to the old site and a piece of their old nest was put on the new pole to make it more attractive.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Mother Nature Network

Kalamazoo Gazette: WMU and program for elderly to collaborate

Western Michigan University will be working hand-in-hand with Kalamazoo’s upcoming senior care center, which will be available for low-income residents with health care needs next year, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

Kalamazoo's new Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) will be the seventh such program in Michigan when it opens in January 2013 at the CentraCare facility at 445 W. Michigan Ave, which is currently being renovated. The PACE program's main objective is to help elderly people stay independent and in their own homes, despite being certified as needing nursing-home levels of care.

The center and WMU are still planning how the different educational programs will work together.

For more, pleave read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Courier Leader: Murals dress up downtown Paw Paw

A mural that depicts familiar downtown Paw Paw sites is going up on the wall of Dondi Squires State Farm Insurance building, reports the Courier Leader. Artist Conrad Kaufman has captured the Maple Lake Amphitheater, the Van Buren County Courthouse, the Paw Paw Villager Players' Playhouse and more. Kaufman said he also be working local people into the mural. "No one specific. Just what catches my eye," said Kaufman. He hopes to complete the project by the end of June, weather permitting.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Courier Leader

The Atlantic: Kalamazoo Mall gets a mention in pedestrian mall piece

The Atlantic says there are lessons in designing walkable, mixed-use districts that can be gleamed from successes and failures of pedestrian malls. The reports says the world's first planned pedestrian mall was built in 1953 in Rotterdam. Six years later, Kalamazoo, Michigan, became the first American city to adopt the concept. Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen (most famous for his American shopping malls) envisioned a project for the Michigan town that would resemble Vienna's Ringstrasse. Instead, a much scaled-down concept was built in 1959. The mall would be successful into the 1990s when residents decided it had to go.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: The Atlantic

Kalamazoo Gazette: Second Marathon builds on its previous success

Blaine Lam said he knew by 4 p.m. on Sunday that he and his fellow race organizers had "nailed" the Kalamazoo Marathon and other Borgess Run For The Health Of It events, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Lam seems to be a bit of a perfectionist in planning the event, but it's for good reason as nearly 6,500 total participants took to the pavement in the marathon, half marathon, 5K run and 5K walk and thousands more lined the streets of the Kalamazoo area to offer support.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

The Review: Lawton uses community art to create community

When local businesswoman Amy Atwater opened her business in downtown Lawton, she noticed how stark and barren the wall between her building and village hall looked. She approached the village council with an idea to improve the south side of village hall and started the reinvention of the village through community art. The story is one of a number on placemaking in the May/June issue of the Michigan Municipal League magazine.

To find out how Lawton is reinventing itself with art across the community, read the story here.

Source: The Review, published by the Michigan Municipal League

Kiplinger: Kalamazoo a good place for penny-pinchers

Kiplinger counts Kalamazoo as a good place to be if you are frugal minded. Actually, they said it's one of the best cities for cheapskates. The cities that made their top 10 list have cost-of-living scores well below the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.


Kalamazoo's living costs are the lowest on our list: 13 percent below the national average and 21 percent below nearby Chicago. Housing is perhaps the city's most notably cheap amenity, with costs one-third below the national average. But Kalamazoo also offers a range of budget-friendly activities, from art and music at Western Michigan University to an unusually well-funded public library system.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kiplinger

MLive: Job seekers can get a ride on public transportation

Grant money is now available to provide public transportation in Kalamazoo County for people seeking jobs or who have been recently employed and are waiting to receive their first paycheck, reports MLive. A $40,000 lifeline grant was awarded by the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and Kalamazoo Community Foundation to Kalamazoo Housing Choices and will be administered by Michigan Works and KRESA's Youth Opportunities Unlimited program.


The hope of the grant will be to "bridge the gap between starting a job and getting (that) first paycheck," said Eric Stewart, Michigan Works service manager.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Work begins on senior housing project

A former tuberculosis sanitarium is gone, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports, and the ground it stood on has been leveled in preparation for construction of a 32-unit mixed-income senior housing development in Kalamazoo's Fairmont neighborhood.

Prairie Gardens, a $1.6-million development will be built on land at 1501 Blakeslee St., on the city's northwest side, where the Western Michigan University-owned former sanitarium stood.

Funding for Prairie Gardens came from a $15-million federal stimulus grant. The first phase of Prairie Gardens, which includes seven duplexes, a central garden, a walking trail and a pavilion, is scheduled for completion by February 2013.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

MLive: The great coney dog quest

Kalamazoo’s Coney Island is No. 6 on the list of best places in the state to get a Coney Dog, a ranking put together by MLive’s John Gonzales and "Coney Detroit" co-author Joe Grimm. The duo traveled the state in three days in a quest for Michigan’s best coney dog. In all, Gonzales sampled 29 coney dogs over a three-day period. He traveled to 10 Michigan cities and 22 restaurants, and put about 700 miles on his car.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive

Kalamazoo Gazette: Sarkozy Bakery to make cookies for the Gilmore

Sarkozy Bakery will again be whipping up the cookies for the Gilmore Festival, which is staged every two years, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. Judy Sarkozy will not let the Feb. 25 fire that destroyed her 335 N. Burdick St. bakery stop her from continuing what had the potential to become a tradition of supplying the treats for the intermission of select Gilmore Festival events. With the donation of the Can-do Kitchen space and equipment, Sarkozy and her staff plan to bake nearly 8,000 cookies over the course of 13 days for Gilmore patrons.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Population figures buck trend

As Michigan and other counties in Southwest Michigan saw their populations continue to decline, Kalamazoo County saw its population increase over a 15-month period through mid-2011, according to recently released census figures, reports MLive. Kalamazoo County grew by 1,743 people, or 0.7 percent, the ninth-largest increase in the state, according to the figures. The county's population estimate grew from 250,331 to 252,074.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Peregrines may have a home

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Kalamazoo’s visiting peregrine falcons swoop low along the Kalamazoo Mall, on wings up to 45 inches across, to snatch unsuspecting pigeons on the ground or mid-air. It’s a startling spectacle that has delighted downtown birdwatchers for several summers. The birds are back this year, and with luck and a little help from Fifth Third Bank, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and area bird enthusiasts, they may successfully take up residence here. A nesting box will be allowed atop the Fifth Third Bank building.  

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Fourth grade conservationist to visit Disney World

A fourth grade student from The Montessori School in Kalamazoo, Matthew Nelson, is taking his commitment to conservation to Disney World. Matthew and the other young honorees will participate in the debut of the Friends for Change Youth Summit and see the world movie premiere of Disneynature’s "Chimpanzee" at the event. Matthew has been participating in the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Outside in Our Schoolyard project, a spin-off of the Kalamazoo No Child Left Inside Community Initiative with the Children & Nature Network and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Family of combat archers fights medieval battles

The three generations of local crossbow mercenaries from Canton of Three Hills valiantly defended the Middle Kingdom in the 1,000-person medieval Gulf Wars in Lumberton, Miss., this month and won. The Middle Kingdom encompasses Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and parts of Kentucky, Iowa and Ontario, Canada. Canton of Three Hills represents Kalamazoo County. Wayne, Brad and Nate Dennis were among 3,500 people who attended the event, and the half who battled.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: $1 million from Kalamazoo County will help DDA

When the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites won a tax appeal, Kalamazoo’s Downtown Development Authority became responsible for paying back more than $1 million to the hotel’s owners, Catalyst Development Co. LLC. The DDA will pay back $300,000 up front and the Kalamazoo County treasurer's office will use the delinquent revolving tax fund to pay the rest, MLive reports. The DDA will repay the county over a number of years.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

MLive: Plans for River’s Edge get public review

A roundabout at the intersection of Gull Road, and Harrison and East Ransom streets could be built by 2014, MLive reports. The roundabout was recommended because it keeps traffic moving and will be cheaper than a traffic light, says Martha Aills, the city's special projects coordinator. The city also plans to improve sidewalks and landscaping and to add benches and bicycle racks. The project is expected to cost $1.2 million to $1.4 million, and funding could come from multiple sources including the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority's tax increment financing district, the Michigan Department of Transportation or the city.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Forbes: For craft beer drinkers, Spring means Oberon

Kalamazoo, is justly proud of Bell’s Brewery, recognized all over the country as one of the nation’s best craft brewers, reports Forbes. Of all the many products that Bell’s brews, none is more meaningful than Oberon, a lovely, golden-hued summer wheat ale, sold in 18 states and Puerto Rico. Every spring, Bell’s devotees keep an eye out for Oberon Day, when the ale officially goes on sale in northern states after a long fall and winter absence. This year, it came on Monday, March 26. Oberon Day was a festival all across the state.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Forbes

Kalamazoo Gazette: Eaton Corp. gives $15,000 grant to KC Ready 4s

KC Ready 4s, the nonprofit working to craft a high-quality universal preschool system in Kalamazoo County, has received a $15,000 grant from Eaton Corp., which has a facility in Galesburg. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports KC Ready 4s is seeking grants for the agency’s two objectives: To provide subsidies to make preschools more affordable for families, and provide training and monitoring of preschool operators to hold them to high standards. It has a pilot project under way this school year in which it is offering subsidized preschool for 65 children at five sites around the county.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Southwest Michigan represented on trade trip

Jennifer Owens, vice president of regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, will join a delegation from Michigan courting business in Germany. MLive reports the group led by Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to visit Germany and Italy on the trade trip. Owens is to meet with home office executives at German automotive industry supplier Mann + Hummel, which has a Portage operation, and a member of the executive team at organic fibers business J. Rettenmaier USA.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Plunge raises funds for Special Olympics

Kalamazoo raised more than $16,000 for Special Olympics recently with the annual Polar Plunge. Plungers had to raise a minimum of $75 to plunge, but many exceeded their goals. The Gazette reports awards were given to plungers for best costume, best team costume, oldest plunger, youngest plunger and highest fundraiser, which was given to Andy Pepper of Kalamazoo. Several businesses donated prizes and large donations to the fundraiser as well. It all took place in Western Michigan University's Lawson Ice Arena.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Want to 'Save Sarkozy Bakery'?

Fans of Sarkozy Bakery who have been looking for a concrete way to help now have a place to send more than good wishes. A "Save Sarkozy Bakery" fund has been established at Keystone Community Bank, Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. announced.

"Half the emails I have received are offering financial assistance," said Rob Peterson, director of business recruitment and retention for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., who has been serving as a point person for Judy and Ken Sarkozy. "The community wants a way to help immediately, and this will help to speed up the process."

To Donate:
Save Sarkozy Bakery
C/O Downtown Kalamazoo Retail/Restaurant Association
PO Box 51243
Kalamazoo, MI 49005

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: Gumbo, good times and generosity

When you mix a good cause and good food people turn out. More than 1,500 people gathered at Louie's Trophy House Grill recently and raised a record amount of money for Kalamazoo's Ministry with Community, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

An increase in restaurants and catering companies competing in extra space for the 7th annual Charity Gumbo Cook-off proved to be a good recipe, as this year's event drew about 100 more people than last year. The event brought in at least $17,000 in admission sales and sponsorship donations still were being tallied.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Gazette: After bakery burns, future uncertain

A fire at the building housing Sarkozy bakery destroyed a 34-year institution in Kalamazoo and locals are not ready to let it go.

"In 1995, our customers saved us. And I learned then, that it's not completely my bakery. It's sort of public property," Judy Sarkozy told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "We have had, from the very beginning, enormous support from this community."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Her Circle: In praise of Artifactory

Kalamazoo poet Traci Brimhall recently appeared with other word workers at Artifactory, at an event for the Kalamazoo Valley Museum that’s been called an "an annual collision between poetry and artifacts."


This fusion of poetry and history also helps create something else--a diverse cross-section of community. ... Their poems feature blizzards, country stores, local parks, tornadoes, obsolete technology, one-way streets (Kalamazoo really does have odd urban planning), and odes to the particular beauties of Michigan summers. This year’s reading featured a poem about a pernicious local pest, the Emerald Ash Borer, performed as a blues song.

For more on the event, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Her Circle

HuffPo: Winning start-up team has K’zoo connection

A car full of Kalamazoo entrepreneurs recently hit the road to Detroit for Startup Weekend there.

The Huffington Post reports it was well worth the trip for Nathan Cahill, who convinced a team to help him create LiveSnip, a web service that solves a problem--the inefficiency of having too many open tabs in an Internet browser and too many websites to repeatedly check. They went on to win the weekend competition.

To find out more about the competition, read the rest of the story.

Source: Huffington Post

Courier Leader: Teacher becomes science fellow

A second-year teacher at Lawrence Junior-Senior High School is one of 15 teachers from across the state and 215 science teachers nationwide named as fellows in the 2011-2012 New Science Teacher Academy.

The Paw Paw Courier-Leader reports Karen Luxford, a LHS biology teacher, was named to the National Science Teachers Association academy.

Luxford said the program has given her new curriculum ideas, and helped her develop concrete classroom management strategies, and create a more engaging curriculum that uses inquiry-based methods.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Courier-Leader

YouTube: Friends and family watch a Grammy Winner

Meredith Arwady, a graduate of Kalamazoo’s Loy Norrix High School, won her first Grammy Award for her performance on the recording of "Doctor Atomic." She and her castmates won in the Best Opera Recording Category. Arwady, a contralto, made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the opera in 2008 playing Pasqualita, the maid of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.

In this YouTube video, family and friends react to the announcement at her mother's home in Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Gazette: Lifesaver of the Year

Robert "Bob" Pratt, the co-founder of the "Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project" was selected as the 2011 Lifesaver of the Year following a national competition. The New Buffalo man received the most votes from among 10 finalists on the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. On Aug. 28,  Pratt and one of his class participants rescued a boy who was caught in a rip current on Lake Michigan.

Pratt said Lake Michigan waters often have "washing machine" surf filled with "flash rips," which are nearly impossible to escape without some type of flotation device.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

HuffPo: Bells in 20 Top Selling Craft Breweries

Beer, brewski, liquid courage -- whatever you may call it, beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the U.S. And while the big players like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have seen consistent declines in their billion-dollar sales, regional craft breweries continue to attract a growing fan base of quality, small batch brews. In 2011, all top 25 craft breweries experienced increases in revenues, reports the Huffington Post.

While rich lagers and unique brands characterize the craft scene, the true ambassadors are the passionate brew masters behind these small businesses, many of whom started home brewing in their basements. And Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo comes in at number nine on HuffPo's list of 20 top sellers.

"They are carving out their version of the American dream," Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. "Where there's a cause, there is a great willingness to roll up their sleeves and start a business."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Huffington Post

Kalamazoo Gazette: At the Nature Center

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the No Child Left Inside movement is at the heart of programs at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. The nature center spans 1,100 acres, and includes vast natural habitats and large exhibit areas with live animals. The Nature Center staff takes its programs to schools across the region and does conservation work throughout the state, says Sarah Reding, vice president for conservation stewardship.


"We are finding that more and more children are not getting out. They are plugged in instead of being outside, they are not getting enough exercise, and they aren’t doing as well in school. It shows that they’re healthier, they do better in school, and overall just have a much better childhood if they can problem solve on their own and get fresh air."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Forbes: Stryker one of 100 best

Forbes has ranked medical device maker Stryker on its list of best places to work for the second year in a row. The company placed at 68 compared with 80 one year ago.


What makes it (Stryker) so great?

The medical device maker invests more than $3 million a year in its employees' pursuit of graduate and undergraduate degrees.

For more, please read the rest of the list.

Source: Forbes

MLive: Michigan unemployment drop 'a good sign'

The size of the improvement in Michigan’s unemployment in December, and the fact that more Michiganders found jobs than dropped out of the labor market, is an indication the state's long-bleak employment picture is changing, a Southwest Michigan employment expert told MLive.

Michigan's over-the-month unemployment rate declined 0.5 percent, from a seasonally adjusted 9.8 percent in November to 9.3 percent in December, 2011. In December, Michigan's unemployment rate dropped faster than any state other than Alabama.


"In some other states, while we see the unemployment rates going down, it's simply because other people are leaving the work force or retiring," said Brad Watts. But, he added, while Michigan unemployment is improving faster than almost any other state, it has farther to climb, since it never recovered from the 2001 recession.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo Gazette: Farmers Alley officially a professional theater

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Farmers Alley Theatre is making its status as a professional theater official, as it gains more elbow room. The theater has entered into Small Professional Theatre (SPT) status with the Actors' Equity Association, the union representing live theatrical performers. It also has added new rehearsal and storage space by leasing the former Brown & Brown Recording Studio, across the street at 206 Farmers Alley.

Since the Barn Theatre, of Augusta, and Mason Street Warehouse, of Saugatuck, are summer stock only, Farmers Alley is now the only year-round Equity theater in Southwest Michigan.


"It means we have a better relationship with the union, we can bring in more talent both from in the state and outside the state," executive director Adam Weiner said. "It also gives the actors who work here, if they want, a way to earn points toward their equity card."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

MLive: Bank chief sees 2012 as pivotal year

No one knows if more economic stimulus efforts by the federal government will be a benefit to the economy, but Comerica Bank's chief economist is optimistic, reports MLive.com.

Robert A. Dye, senior vice president and chief economist for Comerica Bank told a breakfast gathering at the Kalamazoo Country Club that his sense is that 2012 is a pivotal year.


"My sense is that by the end of 2012 we will feel more optimistic about the economy and we start to feel like we are transitioning from a weak expansion to a self-sustaining economic recovery," he said.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Esquire: Bell's Two Hearted Ale for Lions

For its 2012 Playoff of Beers, Esquire magazine suggests a discerning fan would do well to enjoy a drink with local pride. It offers up some recommendations for this year's contenders and for the Detroit Lions the pick is Bell's Two Hearted Ale, brewed in Kalamazoo. Excerpt:

For a Michigan brew truly worthy of playoff quaffing, grab a sixer of Two-Hearted Ale, a Michigan-born IPA that's among the best of its kind. Flavors of pineapple, grapefruit, and tangerine leap from the glass -- about as enjoyable as a 90-yard Megatron catch.

For more, please read the rest of the recommendations.

Source: Esquire

IndustryWeek: Former Stryker CEO added to manufacturing hall fame

Bold. Brilliant. Influential. Innovative. Passionate. Pioneering. Outspoken. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when describing the 10 newest members of the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, the magazine reports.

Among those is John Brown, president and CEO of Stryker Corp. from 1977 to 2003 and CEO from 2003 to 2004.


Brown transformed a small Kalamazoo, Mich.-based manufacturer of hospital beds and cast cutters into one of the world's largest medical-device makers, with a portfolio of more than 55,000 products. During Brown's 27 years at the helm, Stryker achieved average annual earnings growth of 22 percent. Since January 2010, Brown has served as chairman emeritus of Stryker, which reported revenue of $7.3 billion for 2010 -- its 31st consecutive year of revenue growth.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: IndustryWeek

Secret Santa pays $5,000 in layaway bills for others

Jamie Reece had to put a box of tissues on her Kmart layaway counter. A secret Santa hit the Hastings store recently, spreading the holiday cheer sparked by an anonymous donor at another West Michigan Kmart, reports MLive.com.

In Hastings, the donor brought in $5,000 and paid off 50 layaway accounts.

"I wanted to go get a Santa hat — I felt like Santa’s little messenger that day when I got to tell people their layaways were paid for," said Reece. "It was the most wonderful feeling. There were a lot of tears."


Judi Chaddock, human resources manager for the Hastings store, said she’s never seen anything like it. "It really restores your belief in the good in people," she said. Chaddock said the donor’s only stipulation was that the act remain anonymous and that the layaway accounts include at least 90 percent toys and clothing for children.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Reality show features homes in Southwest Michigan

 The A&E reality show "Celebrity House Hunters" is hunting down a vacation home in Southwest Michigan for movie actor Verne Troyer, who was born in Sturgis and grew up in Centreville. Troyer is most famously known for his role several "Austin Powers" movies in which he plays a character called Mini Me.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Dave Kreager of United Country-Michigan Lifestyle Properties, a brokerage that specializes in nontraditional properties, has been searching out sites for the show that ombines house hunting with biographical information. It is not unusual for people to consider Michigan for vacation homes, Kreager said. Many people are doing a "reverse migration" to places such as Michigan, he said.

The complicating factor was that all of the filming would have to take place on a single day, so Kreager had to find properties that were close to each other.


They filmed outside the Radisson before heading to a home on Paw Paw Lake in Watervliet and two homes along Lake Michigan in Bridgman and Lakeside. "It was fun to spend the day with someone like that and to see things behind the scenes," Kreager said. "I got to know Verne a little bit off camera. It was a blast personally and professionally."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

'Once Upon A River' continues to draw acclaim

Bonnie Jo Campbell's acclaimed novel "Once Upon a River" (W.W. Norton & Co.) is showing up on a number of end-of-the-year Top 10 lists. The book released in July also was mentioned in many must-read lists for the summer. Campbell who lives in Comstock, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award and the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for her collection of short stories "American Salvage."

The Christian Science Monitor  listed the book at No. 3 on its list 10 Best Fiction Books of 2011, noting that "A Monitor reviewer called the novel an 'epic' with an unforgettable heroine."


The Kansas City Star on Friday named the book to its list of Top 100 books of the year, with this description: "Invoking the spirit of Huck Finn and the skill of Annie Oakley, this stark coming-of-age tale sets 16-year-old Margo Crane adrift with little more than her wits and her rifle on an innocence-wrecking goose chase to find her wayward mother.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Train rider stops for awhile in Kalamazoo

The Detroit Free Press recently made a visit to Kalamazoo’s train station as part of a ride along the route that will be being upgraded for faster trains in the future.

Michigan has been awarded $403.2 million in federal dollars this year for improvements to its heavily traveled Wolverine line between Pontiac and Chicago, with most major work done on the 135-mile section of track between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. The work could take up to four years to complete.


The day I ride west from Detroit on Amtrak 351, we arrive just 12 minutes late into Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo has one of the loveliest train stations in Michigan, with rich oak walls and a spacious waiting room. That is lucky, because I have to wait around. The Amtrak 350 eastbound train headed back to Detroit does not pull in until 11:35 a.m., 35 minutes late coming from Chicago.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Detroit Free Press     

Volunteers help ship trees to troops

Volunteers recently spent a pine-scented morning with red noses and hands, braving the 30-degree weather with U.S. Army recruiters at Wahmhoff Farms Nursery in Gobles to help ship hundreds of Christmas trees to troops and their families around the country, reports MLive.

It took 56 volunteers and six Army recruiters 20 minutes to help load about 700 6- to 7-foot-tall trees onto three FedEx trucks with the help of conveyor belts from flat-bed farm trucks for the Trees for Troops program. The national program sends Christmas trees to more than 60 U.S. military bases to give to military personnel and their families.


"It can (usually) take about two to three hours; today it took 20 minutes," said Dan Wahmhoff, one of the brothers who owns the tree farm. "We had a lot of volunteers out here today." Most years the event gets between 10 and 15 volunteers to help load the trucks, Wahmhoff said. "(This year) was the biggest turn out I've ever seen," he said.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Powerboat Magazine readers choose Kalamazoo's Bio-Kleen

Bio-Kleen, manufacturer of green cleaning products, has won a 2011 Readers’ Choice Award voted on by Powerboat Magazine readers. The Kalamazoo, Mich.-based company came in first for the "Favorite Boat Cleaning Product" category. This is the second time Bio-Kleen has earned recognition in Powerboat Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards. In 2010, the inaugural year for the awards, they were a runner up.


American-made since 1987, the cleaning supplies from Bio-Kleen Products (left) are as effective and environmentally safe as they come. Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the company has a full line ranging from oxidation cleaners to vinyl conditioners.

For more choices, please read the rest of the list.

Source: Powerboat Magazine

Mattawan grad named a 2012 Rhodes Scholar

Spencer B.L. Lenfield of Paw Paw, a Harvard University senior studying history and literature, has been named a 2012 Rhodes Scholar, a distinction that comes with a scholarship to the University of Oxford in England.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports tt Harvard, Lenfield has won top distinction as a scholar of the humanities since his freshman year. He is an accomplished pianist and poet. He has won prizes for his work on Flaubert and Virginia Woolf, and has been editor-in-chief of a student literary magazine.

Lenfield, a graduate of Mattawan High School, was born in Seoul, South Korea, and was adopted as an infant by David and Valerie Lenfield of Paw Paw. He said he couldn't ask for more caring and supportive parents and they were the first ones he called.


"I told them on speaker phone and they were so excited," he said. "My mom started shouting and my dad was excited, too. I was all smiles."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Group comes together around Math, Science education

About 40 educators, business people and nonprofit heads gathered recently to craft the bylaws of what they hope will become a math and science nation, reports the Battle Creek Enquirer. The inaugural meeting of the Lake Michigan Hub of the Michigan STEM Partnership took place at the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency.

The group representing Calhoun, Barry, Branch, Kalamazoo and 11 other southwest Michigan counties came together to define how the region could contribute to a statewide push for students who are better prepared to work in science, technology, engineering and math fields.


"I think that our marching orders are really clear: Michigan needs to organize," said Dave Krebs, director of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District's Regional Math and Science Center and a facilitator of Thursday's meeting.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Van Jones entertains, intrigues at Kalamazoo College event

Author, activist and former White House advisor Van Jones drew a crowd of more than 400 people to the Kalamazoo College campus recently for his appearance as part of the William Weber Lecture on Government and Society.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports his talk was laced with humor. He also had advice: "I've worked in solar energy for 10 years and I've never seen a sun spill. There is a smarter way to power America and the good thing about it is everything that is good for the environment is a job."

The audience reacted to his remarks.


"Van Jones shows himself as a true showman," said Bejamin Leventer, 22. "Ultimately he left us with a challenge of how to bring jobs back and bring about climate change by changing our reliance on 'dead' energy sources."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

A walk through autumn leaves

Josh and Stacey Moreno of Lawton recently went for a nature walk along the Paw Paw River and filmed their trek.

If you easily get motion sickness, this is not the video for you.

But if you can handle some movement check out the fall shots as the season takes its turn, leaves float downstream and the odd wildflower hangs on to its bloom.

Source: YouTube

Redbook looks for hottest husband in Vicksburg

A Vicksburg father of two is a finalist in Redbook’s hottest husbands for 2011.

Joe Thole, 41, a contractor, is one of what the magazine calls 25 foxy finalists. He was nominated by his wife of 14 years.


Toni, 40, knew she had found a great guy in her high school sweetheart Joe, but she didn't know what a great husband he would be until she got her first teaching job. "He would come to my classroom at the end of the day, and he took great interest in one of my special-needs students," she says. "He was amazing with her. Seeing how he was with children made me realize he was a keeper." Now that Joe's a father, "he will drop anything for our kids," she says.

To read more, and to cast a vote for Joe, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Redbook

Kalamazoo Chamber wins 2011 Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award

The Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce has been named the winner of the 2011 Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals. 

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the award goes to a chamber of commerce "based on a comprehensive application judged by chamber of commerce professionals from seven regional states including Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Arkansas and Wisconsin." Judges were looking for quality, innovation and effective programming in the areas of leadership and governance, finance, business advocacy and programming/membership development, according to the MACP.


Steward Sandstrom, president and CEO of the Chamber, said: "The award represents a culmination of immense dedication from our volunteers and staff, innovative programming and a steadfast commitment to improve member value."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Record turnout for "Make-a-Difference Day"

Logs, branches and twigs comprised a menacing pile about 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and five feet high in the southeast corner of a vacant lot in Kalamazoo’s Eastside neighborhood, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Undaunted by its size, a team of a half-dozen volunteers made numerous treks from the pile to a wood chipper and back, eliminating the mound in less than an hour. Eventually, the parcel will become an eco-garden, a community vegetable garden and small forest featuring indigenous growth exclusively.

The scene of students and neighborhood volunteers working together Saturday played out in 23 sites around Kalamazoo County as part of National Make-A-Difference Day. A record 600 students were involved in goodwill tasks performed throughout the county.


Matt Lechel, Volunteer Kalamazoo Neighborhood Safety Initiative Coordinator, said Make-A-Difference Day is one of four major days annually when the group, established more than 45 years ago, goes out of its way raises its visibility. "These special days are simply the catalyst to more volunteer events and opportunities," Lechel said. "It’s people who take the time to volunteer and show they care about Kalamazoo, and that’s what makes the city so unique."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Downtown Paw Paw makes plans to reclaim its history

In looking ahead at ways to enliven their downtown, Village of Paw Paw officials are looking back, reports the Courier-Leader.

Nan Taylor, Greater Michigan Field Representative for the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, detailed ways a community can preserve its unique historic features.

At a public meeting she said she had walked Paw Paw's downtown blocks before her presentation and found there to be "lots of historic resources still intact."


"Traditional downtowns and neighborhoods with their trees, parks and sidewalks are walkable communities geared toward people and pedestrians," said Taylor. "This better quality of life equates to more investment in the community as folks choose to live and work here."

For more please read the rest of the story.

Source: Courier-Leader

Innovative Analytics hits Inc.'s 500|5000 list again

Coming in at No. 3,519 Kalamazoo’s Innovative Analytics is once again on Inc. Magazine’s 5000 list, the third year in a row to be named to the list.

The 2011 Inc. 500|5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2007 through 2010.


Innovative Analytics's business model: Supports the pharmaceutical and medical industries' exploratory studies and clinical drug and device development programs by providing data management, statistics, and medical writing services.

For more, please read the rest of the listing.

Source: Inc. Magazine

National Book Foundation likes WMU grad

Western Michigan University graduate Melinda Moustakis is a notable young fiction writer says the National Book Foundation.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports she has been named one of the foundation’s 2011 "5 under 35" and will be honored Nov. 14 at a celebration in New York.


Moustakis is author of the book "Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories," which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction in 2010 and as a result was published by the University of Georgia Press. The collection of short stories inspired by her family's Alaskan background was written as her doctoral dissertation in creative writing at Western in 2010.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Jeff Patton receives 2011 Champion Award

Jeff Patton, chief executive officer of the Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, has been been given a 2011 Champion Award from the Behavioral Healthcare Council, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Patton was one of five people from across the country who were granted the award. He has been the head of the county organization for the past 10 years.


"My challenge as an administrator is to know when to move out of the way so people can truly realize their capabilities and dreams," Patton said.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Architect who designed new Arcus Center gets 'genius grant'

Can we call it fame by association?

The architect who designed Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center, a $3 to $5 million building scheduled to be built when proper zoning is approved, has been named a MacArthur genius.

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang unveiled her design for the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in May to mixed reactions from neighbors, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

Gang, a principal and the founder of Studio Gang Architects is among 22 people named this year's MacArthur fellows, by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The fellows get a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant to use as they see fit over the next five years.


K-College's Arcus Center staff is excited about Gang's "recognition so that the whole community has more insight into what we've been able to see working with her intimately," said Jaime Grant, executive director of the center.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo, Battle Creek lead growth in state in past decade

Kalamazoo-Portage and Battle Creek in Southwest Michigan outpaced Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and all other metro areas in the state in economic growth over the past decade, reports Bridge Magazine.

The magazine’s analysis of gross domestic product data found that not only did Kalamazoo and Battle Creek lead 12 other metro areas, they were the only places in the state to boost output by at least 1 percent between 2001 and 2009, the latest year for which data was available.


The statistics are crucial in understanding the changes occurring in state and regional economies. They provide valuable information for policymakers in guiding investment decisions and for citizens in making career and location choices. One thing is clear: Michigan is not a single economy, but a collection of regional economies with strikingly different strengths and weaknesses. The health of regional economies is crucial to the state’s future.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Bridge Magazine

Area community colleges recognized for being veteran friendly

Three area community colleges have been recognized by G.I.Jobs.com as being among those doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students -- Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, and Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor.

The site’s recent list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools which prioritize the recruitment of students with military experience. The list comes from extensive research and a data-driven survey of more than 8,000 schools nationwide.


The Military Friendly Schools list is determined through exhaustive research by the G.I. Jobs Military Friendly Schools team. This research includes government agencies and private entities which administer education benefits and a comprehensive survey administered by G.I. Jobs. A Military Friendly Schools Academic Advisory Panel, consisting of five higher education administrators, helps determine survey questions and weighting.

For more, please check out the website.

Source: G.I.Jobs.com

Greenleaf Trust succeeds in Birmingham commercial rental market

The Kalamazoo-based Greenleaf Trust has set the bar for rental rates, commanding double the average rate for the region for its building in Birmingham, reports Crain’s Detroit Business. And just over one year after the building was completed the office and retail space is completely leased.

With an asking rental rate of $36 per square foot, according to Washington, D.C.-based CoStar Group, the building is among the most expensive office spaces in metro Detroit. CoStar lists the average rental rate for Class A office space in metro Detroit at $21 a square foot, and $18.25 per square foot for all types of office space.

On the top of the five-story building are two floors of residential space still being built out.


"This is something that will give some hope for the idea of new construction in the region," said Peter Noonan, vice president of brokerage services for Birmingham-based Bailey Schmidt Inc., the real estate firm representing the landlord in the leasing work. "It sends a message that there's demand for high-quality office space, and tenants will pay a premium for it."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Crain’s Detroit Business

Daily Beast: WMU among top gay friendly schools

The Daily Beast says Western Michigan University is among the most gay friendly colleges and universities in the country.

In its list of the 25 friendliest campuses to gays, WMU came in 21. Rankings were based on surveys to reveal student perceptions of the extent of diversity and degree of acceptance on campuses nationwide.


Students who say campus is "very accepting" of minority students: 75 percent.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Daily Beast

Friends of Blue Star Trail get organized

The Friends of Blue Star Trail -- about 50 people strong -- are working to see the construction of a trail from South Haven to Saugatuck along the west side of Blue Star Highway.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports construction has begun on the paved, 10-foot-wide trail that will stretch for 19.5 miles.


“We’re getting started, and we’re moving forward, and it’s very exciting for us,” said Jeanne Van Zoeren, board president of Friends of the Blue Star Trail, the nonprofit organization helping to plan and raise funds for the trail. Work on the trail began last September with construction of a traffic circle at the intersection of Blue Star Highway and North Shore Drive in South Haven. About a third of a mile of the trail has been paved.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

World's top equestrians come to Richland Park

For 10 years the best of the world’s equestrians have gathered for the annual Richland Park Horse Trials. The gathering is under way for the year, reports MLive.com.

The Richland event, which organizers say is the largest equestrian competition in the Midwest, will draw more than 450 riders and has a waiting list of prospective participants.


Property own­ers “Bob and Kay Willmarth decided they wanted a world­class show in the Kalamazoo area, and they have the land and resources to make sure that’s what happened,” said said Susan Canole, who helps promote the event.  The Willmarth’s 380-acre setting off 30th Street is the venue for the trials, comprised of three events: dressage, cross country and stadium/show jumping.

For more on the event that starts Aug. 25 and ends Aug. 28, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Princeton Review recommends WMU

Princeton Review divided the country into four regions and identified 629 colleges that it feels stand out as "academically excellent institutions of higher learning." Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo is among that number. 

Princeton Review points out The Carnegie Foundation classifies WMU as one of the nation's 139 public research universities. U.S. News & World Report names WMU among the top-100 public institutions in the nation and the top 30 in the Midwest. And WMU is just one of 97 public universities nationwide authorized to have its own chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. 

Excerpt: Students who choose Western Michigan University get an edge in work and life by taking full advantage of a school that combines the resources of a national research university with the personal attention and atmosphere often found at a smaller institution. WMU focuses on providing the tools students need to become successful alumni, and its top-notch programs, faculty and facilities have attracted national as well as international attention. 

Source: Princeton Review 

Kickstarter helps Southwest Michigan artists get ahead

Artists in Kalamazoo are successfully using Kickstarter.com to push their careers ahead, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. The fundraising website is where musicians, filmmakers, artists, entrepreneurs and almost anyone can create a project and encourage their friends, family members, fans and the public to contribute financially. 

Red Sea Pedestrians, of Kalamazoo, recently turned to the site to fund an album. On previous albums, the band took out a loan, meaning they started in the hole, bandmember Ian Gorman said. It usually would take about six months of performing and selling albums before they made a single dollar, Gorman said. But with Kickstarter, they started in the black.


Gorman said the band can now spend more time promoting the album and playing more out-of-town shows. "We're all incredibly pleased with how it went, and it seems like everyone that's donated feels good about it, too," he said.

For more on other groups using the site, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Western grad starts Kalamazoo Olive Co.

Western Michigan University grad James Ryan's Kalamazoo Olive Co. is thriving in Florida, MLive reports. He sells olive oil   and also ships to customers around the world. The company celebrated its one-year anniversary in June.

Kalamazoo Olive Co. sells about a dozen core products, but everything else is sold based on the season and availability. 

He named the company after because he thinks it's the coolest city in Michigan.

"I said, you know, I'm madly in love with no snow, but I'm also in love with Kalamazoo," Ryan said. "How can I bring Kalamazoo down to Florida?"

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com


Employers say people with ag background hard to find

National search giants are not helping Michigan business owners who need employees with knowledge about agriculture, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

For weeks, Rocco Rigsby, manager of Rural King Supply, has been looking for an assistant manager for his farm and home supplies store on South 11th Street to work with his customers--the guys with two rows of sweet corn to the guys with 10,000 acres.


"I have 50 stores in seven states. Out of those, I can't get anyone to come to Michigan," Rigsby said. The ideal candidate for the $25,000 to $30,000-per-year managerial position, with full benefits, doesn't seem that tough to find--someone with a strong background in retail work and some supervisory experience. "If they had a background in agriculture, that's a double bonus," Rigsby said.

To find out more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Solar farmer gets ready for new projects

Arstechnica recently caught up with Connor Field, a University of Michigan undergrad from Kalamazoo who built the largest solar farm in Michigan. He told the publication some of the lessons he's learned in the project.


Now that the key lessons have been learned, Field is forging ahead with several more ventures, though he's hesitant to say too much about them yet. One hint: they will all be significantly larger than the solar farm, which required electrical service work that could serve a much larger project for the same amount of investment. Motorized panel tracking systems have dropped dramatically in price, and Field plans to buy in bulk for future projects, so hot summers of welding are behind him.

To find out more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: ArsTechinica

Colon sets the stage for magical week

How does a village of 1,200 people more than double its population over the course of four days? It's magic, of course. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports it's the magical time of year in the Southwest Michigan village as it celebrates the 74th annual Abbott's Magic Get-Together.


"Magic is what's put Colon on the map, and I always liken the Abbott's Magic Get-Together as Las Vegas comes to Mayberry," said Greg Bordner, 59, proprietor of Abbott's Magic Co.

"I always try to remind people this is not Uncle Harry's card tricks, it's top international talent from Vegas, Japan, New York, Atlantic City and other worldwide locations From top to bottom, the 2011 lineup is strong ... I don't think anybody will leave a show and feel they didn't get their money's worth, because these are professional entertainers."

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Detroit Free Press: West Michigan is home to shelf-full of authors

A recent Detroit Free Press story points out there's been a profusion of literary output from West Michigan over the last few years.

The newspaper missed a couple of prolific writers, most prominently Wade Rouse of the Saugatuck/Douglas area, but the story otherwise rounds up the local literary scene, recognizing that beyond Bonnie Jo Campbell and Jaimy Goren with their National Book Award nominations a number of other writers working on the west side of the state have earned critical acclaim.

They point to Stuart Dybek, Heather Sellers, Rhoda Janzen, David Small, Melinda Moustakis and Kristina Riggle.


David Small: The 2001 winner of the Caldecott Medal, the nation's most prestigious award for the illustration of children's books, Small stunned the literary world in 2009 with "Stitches." The comic book-style memoir recounts his hellish upbringing in Detroit in the 1950s, including how Small's father, a doctor, subjected him to an overdose of radiation that left him unable to speak. Small lives in Mendon.

For more on the other authors, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Detroit Free Press

State makes case for Corporate Income Tax

MLive.com reporter Peter Luke recently spoke with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley about his support for the newly enacted Corporate Income tax.

Calley says the previous system of tax breaks picked certain businesses that were favored while others were stuck paying higher taxes.


Employers, meaning those who pay business taxes, nearly unanimously believe the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) is superior to and makes Michigan more competitive than it was with the Michigan Business Tax (MBT). Since the decision to add jobs has many subjective elements, the opinion of the decision makers is critical. The CIT is arguably the simplest business tax code in the nation.

To find out more, please read the rest of the interview.

Source: MLive.com

Essayist drawn back to Southwest Michigan

Jennifer Owens, a  vice president of Southwest Michigan First in Kalamazoo, recently offered her view on what it is about Southwest Michigan that makes coming home so easy to do.

She told the Kalamazoo Gazette those who have questioned her decision to relocate had never visited Southwest Michigan.


I spent several weeks visiting the region and was amazed that every person I met was a regional ambassador. In other parts of the state, people say I am just here because of a job or I am here because my family is here. Yet, what I found in Kalamazoo is that people make a conscious decision to stay. I can't tell you the number of residents who not only were selling me on the region, but also their individual neighborhoods. It seemed each had found their personal haven. Everywhere my husband and I went we found ambassadors as well as family-friendly neighborhoods, eclectic restaurants and a bustling alive city.

To find out what else drew Owens, please read the rest of her viewpoint.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

HuffPo: Guide to most interesting colleges features K-College

The Huffington Post reports that the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012 offers a selection of colleges that are popular these days, including those that offer engineering and technical schools, those with a religious focus and those with an environmental focus. And the guide  has information on a number of schools in the Sunbelt.

It also includes schools that are just plain interesting, which may be where Kalamazoo College comes in.


Kalamazoo is a small liberal arts school that opens up the world to its students -- literally. A whopping 85 percent of Kalamazoo Hornets study abroad thanks to the K-Plan, a quarter system that allows students to alternate terms on campus with those away. And if you need an extra boost to round out that resume, there is an extensive internship program. Total enrollment: 1,384.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Huffington Post

20th annual Michigander Bike Tour draws 400 cyclists

The 400 or so riders on the 20th annual Michigander Bicycle Tour's six- and seven-day routes pedaled 57 miles Sunday from South Haven to Plainwell on the Kal-Haven and Kalamazoo River Valley trails, reports MLive.

Cyclists in the weeklong event are riding overlapping routes along scenic West Michigan back roads and old railroad corridors that have been converted into recreational trails. They will make a wide circle around Grand Rapids and stop overnight in Vermontville, Lowell, Ravenna and Holland, following Sunday night's stay in Plainwell and complete the 300-plus-mile trek back in South Haven on Friday.


(Saturday night), many of my Michigander friends and I enjoyed the private bonfire party on the Black River that South Haven Mayor Robert Burr held for us.

"This is a wonderful experience," Burr said as people gathered around the fire -- not too closely on the humid evening -- and sang the ever-appropriate Eagles classic, "Take It Easy." He was brimming with enthusiasm over a recent $1.1 million state grant that will pave the way, once completed in September, to connecting the South Haven end of the Kal-Haven Trail with the middle of the Lake Michigan resort town's popular shopping district.

For more, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Kalamazoo author Bonnie Jo Campbell comes highly recommended

National news organizations like CNN, NPR, Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly all have put Bonnie Jo Campbell's new novel "Once Upon a River" on their must read summer lists.

And the Detroit Free Press says critics are gushing over the new release by the Kalamazoo area author.


Set in rural Michigan in the late '70s, "Once Upon a River" tells the story of 16-year-old Margo Crane. Her father has died violently and she's been abandoned by her mother and raped by her uncle. To track down her mom, Margo sets out in a wooden boat along the Stark River, armed only with a rifle, a biography of Annie Oakley and impressive survival skills.

"Most adventure stories are about men," says Campbell, 48, citing "The Odyssey" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" as influences. "But I wanted to explore how it would be for a young woman."

For more reactions to Campbell's new book, read the rest of the story.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Documentary will feature Derek Jeter's accomplishments

Derek Jeter's journey to 3,000 career hits will be chronicled in a documentary by HBO and Major League Baseball Productions, Hollywood Reporter says.

The New York Yankee shortstop who grew up in Kalamazoo has become the 28th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3,000 hit mark.

The documentary is expected to air within weeks of his accomplishment.


"It has been a lot of fun working with HBO Sports and MLB Productions to capture this milestone in a special and unique way," Jeter says. "Hopefully fans will enjoy getting to see a sneak peek at the journey."

The special will also include new interviews with his family, friends, Yankees executives, teammates, and famous fans including Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi, Joe Torre, Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera, Dave Winfield, Minka Kelly, and Billy Crystal.

For more on the production, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Indie film shot in Kalamazoo, South Haven gets local screenings

Kalamazoo's Gibson Guitar factory and South Haven's Sherman Dairy Bar are two familiar sites in the independent film "The Lake Effect," which is getting special screenings in local theaters, reports MLive.com.

A few familiar local stars are also seen in the the supporting cast, most notably Sharon Williams as an eager-to-please Tot to Teen Village sales clerk. Theater goers can check it out at May 26, 7:30 p.m., in Kalamazoo and May 28, 7:30 p.m., in Saugatuck.


Some typically ravishing Michigan lakeshore sunsets provide a peaceful visual counterpoint to the emotional storm that's brewing in "The Lake Effect," a well-acted, crisply photographed drama about people struggling with the roles life has handed them.

To find out more reactions to the film, please see the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Pies turn into money raising proposition at Cow-Poo-Looza

As state funding shrinks, locals are looking for innovative ways to raise funds. In White Pigeon, a school fundraiser called "Cow-Poo-Looza" finds a new use for cow pies, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The concept involves a cow and a 500-square grid laid out on the school's playground. Proposed by the Central Parent Organization, the fund raiser will earn the school $5,000 while one lucky winner will pocket an equal amount. An allocation of 500 tickets, offered at $20 each, sold out in just a few weeks.

"It's definitely something unique that started out as a raffle concept and has turned into the centerpiece of a number of events and activities planned throughout the day," McBride said.
To find out details of the event, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo partners with Pure Michigan

Kalamazoo is one of 27 Michigan com­munities to have Pure Michigan partnership promotional campaigns -- via radio, TV, billboards and the Internet -- that draw attention to those cities, reports MLive.com.

George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, played the spot featuring Kalamazoo for local business and civic leaders at a recent presentation on the goals of the Pure Michigan campaign. The radio spot will continue to air through August.


"For every dollar we send out of state for advertising, there are enough new visitors ... that the state makes $3. Pure Michigan makes money for the state," Zimmermann said.

For more on the campaign, please read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

National Geographic follows WMU researcher's work

On its News Watch blog, the National Geographic Society is tracking the research of Dr. Stephen B. Malcom, a professor at Western Michigan University and a chemical ecologist.

The blog reports Malcom has been studying monarch butterflies in the field for 28 years, recently with support from National Geographic's Committee for Research and Exploration.

The blog entry continues in a question and answer format:


Q: What kinds of hurdles do these migrating insects face throughout their range, and are they struggling as a species?

Monarchs do not appear to be struggling as a species because they have a worldwide distribution, but they are confronted by a series of hurdles throughout their life histories. These include both legal and illegal forestry activities in Mexico at the overwintering locations and intensive agriculture in the U.S., Canada and northern Mexico, where monarchs are impacted by both genetically modified crops and the use of insecticides and herbicides.

For the complete interview, please read the rest of the post.

Source: National Geographic Society News Watch Blog

Kalamazoo Department of Zombie Removal makes people smile

Emily Midling wasn't thrilled with the beat-up Ford Explorer she bought in August, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. She needed to spice it up a little.

"I wanted to make it fun to drive," said Midling, 22, who grew up in Kalamazoo.

That's the story of how the "Kalamazoo County Department of Zombie Removal" detailing on her car came to be. Midling paid $100 for the very official-looking emblem on both sides of the 1998 black SUV.


Wherever Midling goes, she gets stares or bemused grins from strangers who notice the car parked at the North Westnedge Avenue Meijer where she works in the deli or see her driving around town.

Police have pulled her over just to admire her zombie-mobile. Teenagers crowd around it in the parking lot and pull out their camera phones. Photos of Midling's car even appeared on websites, such as collegehumor.com.

To find out about Midling's interest in zombies, please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

World's top young musicians compete in Kalamazoo

A 16-year-old cellist from Chicago earned the top prize and $5,000 at the 2011 Stulberg International String Competition.

Austin Huntington was named the Burdick-Thorne Gold Medalist, which comes with a $5,000 check and a future performance with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

He performed in competition with the best young string players from around the world on his Francisco Ruggieri cello made in 1690.


"I was so honored to even be in the finals to come here and compete," said Huntington, after the ceremony at Western Michigan University's Dalton Center Recital Hall.  "But this. This is the biggest accomplishment I've ever had."

He was chosen from 114 musicians -- age 13 to 19 -- who applied from all over the world to be able to compete in the competition

For more on the competition, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Good Morning America highlights President's visit

Kalamazoo Central High School was named winner of the first Race to the Top Commencement Challenge nearly 10 months ago, but the positive buzz just keeps coming.

This time ABC's Good Morning America featured the school in a story about this year's competition and showed clips of President Barak Obama delivering the commencement address in 2010.


"I know and America knows what you have done at Kalamazoo Central. You are amazing." (President Obama)

Kalamazoo Central competed with 1,000 other schools to win the challenge that is intended to be a way to encourage more young people to attend college.

Check out the segment for more about Kalamazoo Central's win and a preview of this year's challenge.

Source: ABC News

Kalamazoo's Vestaron touted in NPR broadcast on venture capital

Agriculture businesses and venture capitalists increasingly are finding common ground to work together, reports Harvest Public Media.

Ag-upstarts are now pitching venture capitalists to plant cash in technologies that could revolutionize how farmers produce, move and sell what they grow, the radio show reports. Kalamazoo's Vestaron is one of the companies that is encouraging venture capitalist Jim Schultz, founder and managing partner of Open Prairie Ventures, to consider a fund just for agriculture.


That may seem a pie-in-the-sky notion, but companies like Kalamazoo Mich.- based Vestaron Corp. have Schultz feeling optimistic.

Vestaron makes a pesticide based on the venom of the Australian Blue Mountain Funnel-Web spider.

"The reality is that more firms will pick up the phone and talk to an agricultural company today than they would have back in 2005, 2006," said John McIntyre, chief executive officer of Vestaron, which has raised more than $7 million from a confluence of funding streams including venture capital from Open Prairie.

To find out more, read the rest of the story.

Source: Harvest Public Media

Otsego Schools save $1 million through conservation

Administrators in the Otsego Public Schools say more than $1 million the district has saved so far through its energy conservation program can be well spent in classrooms, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Otsego started the program in early 2005. The district's energy manager, Tom Gilmer, said the school system's projected cost for utilities -- including electricity, natural gas and water -- from March 2005 through December 2010 was nearly $3.5 million. But the conservation program cut the cost to about $2.4 million.


"This program (has become) more important than we anticipated," Gilmer said. "Not only is the conservation piece important, but the redirection of resources to students is critical in these tight budgetary times." He said the program also teaches students about energy savings.

Gilmer told the board of education that the conservation program is expected to save the district about $2 million by 2015.

To find out more on the energy saving efforts, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Gift goes to Kalamazoo Junior Symphony

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports a former Kalamazoo family and long-time arts supporters have pledged $500,000 to the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra over the next five years.

Dr. John Francis and his wife Linda Francis announced the gift at a recent KJSO concert on at which their daughter Anne Francis was the guest cellist.

Anne Francis, a 1993 graduate of Portage Northern High School, was a member of the KJSO for six years, spent two years with its Prep String Orchestra, and now teaches at Utah State University where she is a member of the Fry Street Quartet.

Two other daughters -- Meg Francis Cairns and Mary Francis -- also were musicians.

Excerpt:  "The KJSO has given so much to so many young people in Southwest Michigan, and enriched the culture of the entire community, and now it is time for our family to express our deep gratitude to this wonderful organization, its dedicated board, and this generous community, for what it gave our children," John Francis said at the concert.

For more on the gift, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Is freelance replacing traditional work arrangements?

Pfizer, which has operations in Kalamazoo, is one of a growing number of big companies that use "microworkers" in place of employees, reports MLive.com. "Microwork" involves contractors bidding on pieces of projects that companies post online. The pay, depending on the complexity of the work, can range from pennies to hundreds of dollars an hour.

The story says a 2009 study by the Human Capital Institute in Washington, D.C,. found one-third of the U.S. work force was comprised of contract, temporary and part-time workers.

Excerpt: Microwork also could be contributing to sluggish job growth in the U.S. as companies farm out more work to independent contractors rather than take on full-time employees.

Employment services, a broad category that includes temporary workers and contractors, grew 5.2 percent in Michigan over the past two years. It was one of the few categories to show employment growth.

Some, noting that corporate profits are at record levels, say companies can well afford to hire more workers.

To read more about nontraditional work arrangements, read the rest of the story.

Source: MLive.com

Pride grows in Super Bowl success for Greg Jennings

Now Kalamazoo, which has long prided itself on being the place New York Yankee star Derek Jeter grew up, has another athlete to cheer about. Super Ball star Greg Jennings.

The Kalamazoo Gazette asks if Jennings has risen to Jeter's stature in the eyes of Kalamazooans and notes that when national media outlets come to town or call the newsroom, they never want to know about T.J. Duckett or Adam Hall. They want the Jeter boyhood tour.

The piece suggests the opinion of the rest of the nation matters little in Jennings' hometown.


Yet, the argument for Jennings over Jeter is this: Jennings is Kalamazoo. He was born here. He starred locally at Western Michigan University. His parents still live here. His wife is from here. His charitable foundation is based here. He is here regularly and when he is, he's accessible.

That continued ownership of Kalamazoo, in our minds, perhaps boosts a football resume that is otherwise short of what Jeter has done in baseball.

To find out more, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo College launches $125 million capital campaign

Kalamazoo College is off to a fast start on its $125 million capital campaign.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the private liberal arts college already has raised $20 million in gifts and pledges and Kalamazoo College President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran said the drive is expected to last through 2015.


Even a partial list of what officials say the philanthropy would support is long: student scholarships, a new Center for Sustainability and the Environment, a new fitness center and natatorium, expanded enrichment programs, funding to support faculty in intercultural studies, the sciences and other curricular areas.

"We think by very strategic investment of new resources we can do even more amazing things in support of our students and faculty," Wilson-Oyelaran said.

For more details on one use the funds, the Center for Sustainability and the Environment linked to the college's 140-acre Lillian Anderson Arboretum in Oshtemo Township, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Success ferments for two Battle Creek area's brewing companies

Arcadia Brewing Company and Dark Horse Brewery Co. have good reason to look forward to 2011, reports the craft beer blog Kalamazoobrew.

Marshall's Dark Horse is in the midst of construction on an 18,000-square-foot brewhouse. It will be home to new brewing equipment, including two 80-barrel fermenters and two 100-barrel fermenters, business offices, an employee lounge, a conference room and more.

And Battle Creek's Arcadia Brewing Co. said it's on pace to sell around 9,000 barrels this year -- up from 6,481 in 2008; 7,091 last year.


"We're busting butt on it," Morse said of the Dark Horse construction.

Morse said crews have replaced the roof, giving the space 18-foot-tall ceilings, installed a massive cooler and completed office spaces.

Brewhouse equipment is expected to arrive in early January and Dark Horse plans to begin using it shortly after, Morse said.

To find out more about the project, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamabrew

Green practices save money for Pfizer

Installing energy-efficient light fixtures, timers and occupancy sensors at all of its Kalamazoo facilities saved Pfizer Inc. an average of $1.4 million annually between 2004 and 2009, reports Business Review West Michigan.

The savings in 2009 alone added up to $2.6 million.


A thermal oxidizer that serves the pharmaceutical giant's Kalamazoo County manufacturing sites, which total 3.4 million square feet, has reduced natural gas use by 65 percent, or 71 million cubic feet, over the years and resulted in a 2,570-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. It's also saved $350,000 in energy costs.

The simple lesson: Investment in sustainable business practices is good for both the environment and the bottom line.

"This is an investment that ultimately pays for itself over time," said Rick Chambers, Pfizer's Kalamazoo-based spokesman.

To find out what other measures Pfizer takes to save energy and money, read the rest of the story.

Source: Business Review West Michigan

Racism fighters gather in Kalamazoo for seventh annual summit

Remedying racism is more complicated than changing individuals, says the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University.

The structures and systems in society that allow racism to continue must be changed before real progress can be made, John A. Powell says in a Kalamazoo Gazette report.


Without a good education, high-quality jobs aren't available. And lack of employment makes steady housing difficult.

"All these things are interactive," Powell explained. "These things form a system, they form a network."

Much of the racial discrimination in the world stems from this structural racism embedded in society, said Powell.

To find out about the wide range of local projects to fight racism that are ongoing, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Colin Powell talks up Kalamazoo's resources for young people on CNN

In Colin Powell's opinion Kalamazoo is a city rich in resources for young people. 

He tells CNN Opinion one of the best examples of the city's resources is the guarantee of free college tuition for every graduate of the public schools.


The city has witnessed an unprecedented level of collaboration in developing Kalamazoo into a world-class education community, led by the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network, which has brought together dozens of youth-serving agencies to share resources, foster youth leadership, and promote best practices in youth programming.

In June, President Obama gave the commencement address at Kalamazoo Central High School. It was the first time a sitting president has spoken at a high school graduation. The Kalamazoo community was chosen in recognition of what the White House called "a true community commitment to encourage every student to graduate from high school, college- and career-ready."

For more on the 100 Best Communities for Young People, see the rest of the story.

Source: CNN Opinion

City gardeners reap bountiful harvest in Kalamazoo

Across Kalamazoo more people are becoming passionate about their garden patches, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

In 2010, public gardens in Kalamazoo neighborhoods grew from 10 to slightly more than 30, said ShellyClaflin, who coordinates community gardens in Kalamazoo's Oakwood and Vine neighborhoods.

She is putting together a network of gardeners for Fair Food Matters, a Kalamazoo-based nonprofit that promotes locally grown food.


Home-grown food just tastes better than store-bought food, said Bernie Foulk, 36, an organist at the First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

But it's more than that.

The couple, who are both vegetarian, feel a special connection to growing their own food — the ripe purple eggplant, sweet potatoes, baby spinach and walnuts falling off the tree.

"It's like a quality of life," Lin Foulk said. "What you're eating is who you are."

To find out what others have to say about their gardens, read the rest of the story.

Souce: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo's innovation ideas spread across country

Charlotte, N.C., is looking ahead and trying to sort out what's next for the city that for so long has been built on banking.

It's looking to Kalamazoo economic development successes, among others, for some ideas, reports the Charlotte Observer.


Ron Kitchens, the economic development leader in Kalamazoo, said his agency's top priority after the Pfizer layoffs was to keep the talent in town, not to pursue any new replacement company. His agency, Southwest Michigan First, quickly deployed after the layoffs were announced, urging scientists to launch their own companies, opening a business incubator within weeks, and helping with everything from writing business plans to buying office furniture.

Andy Levine, president of economic development marketing agency Development Counsellors International, said Kalamazoo took the right tack in filling an economic hole. "I have observed very few cities that were successful by replacing Company A with Company B," Levine said. "Much better to have 20 companies with 100 jobs (each) than one company with 2,000 jobs.

For other cities providing inspiration for leaders in Charlotte, read the rest of the story.

Source: Charlotte Observer

Workforce demands call for better educated employees

New jobs, retirements and other factors could create 1.3 million vacant positions between now and 2018 for which employees will need to be hired. Of those 836,000 will require some college education and 491,000 are expected to be filled by high school graduates or dropouts, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.


The Lumina Foundation report said that college graduation rates are increasing "modestly" in Michigan right now, and at its current pace, 43 percent of Michigan adults will have degrees by 2025.

The easiest way Michigan could improve its numbers, the report said, is reducing its college-dropout rate. Right now, about 25 percent of the state's adult population has some college, but no degree.

For a county-by-county breakdown of the percentage of college grads across Southwest Michigan, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Michigan called innovation model for California

Kalamazoo gets a shout out in a San Francisco Business Times story that says one venture capitalist thinks Michigan's innovation could be a model for California.

CMEA Capital's founder Tom Baruch says Michigan's programs and policies are something California should take a look at. He likes the way Michigan protects its small businesses, provides tax breaks and provides worker training incentives.


"(State government has) tends to be less antagonistic and more of what you might call 'participatory' in bringing together assets within the state, including the universities," said Baruch, whose firm has bankrolled the likes of cleantech companies Codexis and Solyndra.

To read what Stephen Rapundalo, president and CEO of the life sciences trade group MichBio says about Baruch's comments, read the rest of the story.

Source: San Francisco Business Times

Chronicle of Higher Ed talks to new leader at K-College

The former Policy Institute director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task force has taken a post at Kalamazoo College.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently interviewed her about the move.


When Jaime Grant got a phone call suggesting that she leave behind two decades' worth of social-justice work in Washington and move to Kalamazoo College, in Michigan, which enrolls about 1,400 students, she said the caller must have the wrong person. But after hearing more about the job offer — to lead Kalamazoo's new Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership — and visiting the campus, she decided on a big change of scenery.

When she talked with Kalamazoo students during her visit, she said, "there wasn't a student who was there who wasn't really thinking about service work." The creative possibilities and potential to have an impact won her over.

Ms. Grant, 49, has long focused on the goals promoted by the Arcus center: leadership development and social justice.

To find out more about what Grant hopes to do in Kalamazoo, read the rest of the story.

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

Company with Paw Paw roots grows with Apple

A company that got its start in Oshtemo Township west of Kalamazoo and still has 30 employees and company operations in Paw Paw is growing right along with the popularity of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.


"Michigan is cheap and easy to start a company," said Ross Howe, the company's vice president of marketing and new business development.

Howe said mStation Audio was founded by Daniel Huang, now the company's CEO, and Shawn Dougherty, who serves as chief operations officer. Huang, Dougherty and Howe are originally from Southwest Michigan.

The company acquired mophie in 2006, took its name and made the transition to designing and manufacturing cases and accessories for the iPhone, which launched in 2007.

Since then the company has taken off, growing its sales by triple-digit percentages in recent years.

In 2009, sales increased by more then 600 percent, compared to 2008, Howe said. This year, the company is projecting a sales increase of more than 200 percent.

To find out more about the company's relationship with Apple Inc., read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Inc.'s list of fastest growing companies features 5 from Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo boasts five area companies on the annual Inc. Magazine list of the fastest growing firms in the country.

The list for 2010 ranks privately held U.S. companies by looking at their revenue growth between 2006 and 2009.

The five local companies are: medical devise company Alliant Healthcare Products at No. 147; the drug screening company Forensic Fluids No. 167; software company MacUpdate at No. No. 233; telecommunications company Lynx Network Group at No. 967 and human resources management company BASIC at 3,838.


The 2010 list is testament both to our acculturation to online buying and to Web-based models that work. As the list shows, consumers now cheerfully shop the Internet for products as diverse as baby clothes and diamonds. But vendors of spare parts for products such as major appliances, scooters, and automobiles are also thriving.
To see who else is on the list, check out the complete ranking.

Source: Inc. Magazine

Perrigo Co. among fastest growing in U.S. Fortune says

Perrigo Co. has been named to Fortune magazine's Top 100 fastest growing companies in the United States.

The generic drug company in Allegan came in at No. 55 in its debut on the magazine's list.

Fortune ranks companies by growth over the last three years. It looks at companies trading stock on a major U.S. exchange. Fortune says Perrigo posted annual revenue growth of 17 percent over the past three years.


Wal-Mart knocks Exxon Mobil out of the top slot to rule the Fortune 500 again. See the full list of America's largest corporations, including detailed company profiles and contact information

Check out the full list at Fortune magazine.

Source: Fortune magazine

K-College on Forbes list of best schools in the nation

Of the top 610 schools in the nation, Kalamazoo College ranks 73 says Forbes magazine.

The magazine showed a liking for small, private liberal arts schools like K-College this year, making Williams College in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts its top choice.

Forbes says the ranking measures schools based on the quality of the education they provide, the experiences of the students and how much they achieve.


Whether they're in the top 10 or near the end of the list, all 610 schools in this ranking count among the best in the country: We review just 9% of the 6,600 accredited postsecondary institutions in the U.S., so appearing on our list at all is an indication that a school meets a high standard. 

To our way of thinking, a good college is one that meets student needs. While other college rankings are based in large part on school reputation as evaluated by college administrators, we focus on factors that directly concern incoming students: Will my courses be interesting? Is it likely I will graduate in four years? Will I incur a ton of debt getting my degree? And once I get out of school, will I get a good job?

For more on other top schools in the nation read the rest of the story.

Source: Forbes

Wilson Helmet contract goes to Kalamazoo's Impact Label

Decals made by a Kalamazoo company are emblazoned on the batting helmets Little Leaguers are wearing at their World Series. The Little League World Series continues through Aug. 29 in South Williamsport, Pa.

The Gazette reports that Impact Label Corp. officials hope the Kalamazoo company's new contract with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. will lead to further sales growth in coming years. The new work is especially rewarding because Wilson originally gave the contract to an overseas company that couldn't meet its specifications for the decals.


After a challenging 2009 in which the company saw its sales decline, Matt Berry, Impact Label's manager of customer service, said they've been "busting at the seams with work" in the last six months.

Berry, whose grandfather started Impact Label in 1964, declined to release sales figures for the private, family owned firm on South Burdick Street in Kalamazoo.

"Definitely last year it was tough," Berry said. But the company survived the recession because it had no debt and was able to cut costs by consolidating operations in Florida, Tennessee and Chicago to Kalamazoo.

For details on the contract with Wilson, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

WMU rated among top schools by U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report says Western Michigan is among the nation's best universities. The magazine singles out 262 universities -- 164 public and 98 private  --  as having national standing making them the best.

WMU is ranked in the top tier of public and private institutions that is led by Harvard, Princeton and Yale in the top three slots. Three other Michigan Universities are in the same tier: University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University.

WMU's numerical rank is 179 among the total group, putting it in a tie for 98th place among the nation's public universities.

Another three Michigan schools appear in the unranked lower tier of "best national universities" -- Central Michigan, Oakland and Wayne State universities.


This marks the 27th year that U.S. News has published college rankings. Though the top-ranked schools garner much acclaim, the rankings aren't produced simply to benefit students who are considering attending institutions like Harvard and Williams. U.S. News uses its array of college data to provide insight to students of various academic and socioeconomic backgrounds. There is a list of the best schools for B students, rankings of historically black colleges and universities, as well as rankings of the most diverse national universities.
To see various lists, please read the entire story.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Canadians come to Michigan to find their favorite beer

Turns out Canadians have a particular beer they love and they can't find it at home. So they're traveling to Michigan.
The Ottawa Citizen reports Kalamazoo is one of the spots they can find Canadian Breakfast Stout.
Did you come all the way to Michigan for the beer too?" says the man glancing at my Ontario license plate as he points to his own."It's the only reason I ever leave Canada," he adds as he navigates his way through the crowded entrance way of Ann Arbor's Jolly Pumpkin Café and Brewery to grab the last seat at the bar.

To find out where else they can get their favorite stout, read on.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Frommer's says Saugatuck is a cool little town

When Frommer's Budget Travel contest went looking for the coolest little cities in America it found Saugatuck.
The little town didn't top the list, but it came in a respectable fourth, reports Susan Smith, writing for M-Live.
According to the organizers of the contest, the criteria includes the presence of avant-garde art galleries, good restaurants and quality of life. Extra points were given for proximity to nature. 
To find out why Smith thinks Saugatuck should have won the contest, read the rest of the story,


After the (controlled) fire comes the flowers

It sometimes it takes a fire to make a prairie grow.
A controlled burn in the Willard Rose Prairie took out the thatch that was inhibiting growth and now wild flowers and wild grasses are in bloom, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

"Pretty much everything we expected to happen, happened," said Ryan Colliton, stewardship field director at the Nature Center. "When we burned off the layer of duff, we increased the wildflower bloom and our grasses went for the sky."

 To find out why a controlled burn works, please read the entire story.

 Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Retail growth program recognized as an innovator

Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. was named a 2010 Innovation Michigan award winner by Business Review West Michigan.

The award recognized DKI's retail-incubation program.


DKI, a private not-for-profit organization contracted by Kalamazoo's Downtown Development Authority, launched the retail incubation program in 2009 to help create new shops in Kalamazoo's central business district.

Three stores on the South Kalamazoo Mall have opened thanks to the program, which provides business training, mentoring and subsidized rent for 18 months, said Rob Peterson, DKI's director of business recruitment and retention. A fourth store is planning to open this fall.

For a list of the other seven winners please read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Ad Age names Biggs Gilmore Small Agency of the Year

An expertise in digital ad campaigns makes Biggs Gilmore a stand out, reports Ad Age.

The bible of the advertising world named the company the small agency of the year for those with 76 to 160 employees.

"They box above their weight," said Mark Baynes, VP-global chief marketing officer, Kellogg Co. "They're a middleweight (company) boxing like a heavyweight, with work that's reflective of a far bigger agency."


Today, Biggs Gilmore is a 106-person digital player with a second office in Chicago. Reporting $10.1 million in 2009 revenue, the shop is the interactive agency of record for brands such as Heinz Ketchup, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Pop-Tarts, Cottonelle, Corn Pops and Morningstar Farms, among other consumer-package-goods titans.

(During the recession) Biggs Gilmore leveraged the primary advantage of its small stature: dexterity. While the agency was hemorrhaging traditional advertising opportunities, the partners recognized the opportunity to help companies navigate the digital realm.

To find out more about how the agency has thrived in the face of a recession, read the rest of the story.

Source: Ad Age

Inmates learn about good food in jail garden

It looks like any other garden -- green tomatoes ripening on the vine, zucchini plants blossoming and green peppers spilling out of a bushel basket.

What is not usual is the chain-link fence and sheriff's deputies cars parked outside, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette. This garden is at the Kalamazoo County Jail and it helps feed the inmates.


Sheriff Richard Fuller estimated the garden will save "easily" $1,000 in food costs during this growing season. So far, the garden produced 23 bushels of cucumbers, green beans and zucchinis, saving the sheriff's office an estimated $440 on food costs.

Eight hours a day, low-risk inmates who are in jail for offenses such as shoplifting or not paying child support tend the garden.

It is a time for them to learn how to garden — a skill that few inmates know, especially since many have never seen an egg plant before or tasted acorn squash.

"There's a real sense of pride in being able to grow something from the ground, to be able to pick it and eat it," said Kalamazoo County Commissioner Ann Nieuwenhuis, who donated garden supplies for the project. "It's learning that pride of what hard work can produce."

To find out how the garden could be used to teach inmates further skills, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo's pizza oven draws luxury spenders

Luxury spending is on its way back, but people aren't buying expensive cars and big-ticket vacations.

The Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, an outdoor artisan pizza oven, is the kind of luxury item buyers are turning to, reports USA Today.

Sales of outdoor artisan pizza ovens at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet -- similar to ovens used at pizza parlors -- were up 48 percent last year and are up 74 percent so far this year.


"It creates an experience -- and isn't consumable," says Pantelis "Pete" Georgiadis, president of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. "You can keep enjoying it for a long, long time."

For others, it's about buying luxury goods only when they're on sale -- or at a steep discount. Nearly three in four wealthy women say they'll only purchase luxuries if they can get a good deal, reports a recent survey by AgencySacks, a branding firm that consults for some of the nation's top luxury brands.

For more on what buyers are turning to, read the rest of the story.

Source: USA Today

Blogger finds lots to like at Kalamazoo Farmer's Market

A dining blogger and his wife moved to the area in September of 2009 when she was transferred to Kalamazoo from Lansing. They have been trying -- and loving -- area eating experiences since then. The city's farmer's market is a particular favorite.


The first vendor we came to, we hit the jackpot. J was incredibly excited to find fresh raspberries, blueberries, peaches, and cherries. She had only intended on buying the raspberries and blueberries, but was talked into the cherries when she realized they had a mix and match at 3 for $10 … and once you bought ten bucks, you got peaches for free. So for $10, she walked with enough fresh fruit to last the week.

We've been looking forward to summer for quite some time just for the amazing fruits and veggies that Michigan produces. The Kalamazoo Farmer's Market is a great resource for the community and I'm already looking forward to next Saturday.

To find out more about the shopping expedition read the entire blog entry.

Source: SW Michigan Dining

Environment's health revealed by counting frogs, toads

Tom and Beth Aitken, of Vicksburg, say they've always been interested in the interconnections between wildlife and the environment. So when the retired couple saw a notice that the state was seeking volunteers to measure environmental health and habitats by tracking amphibians in an annual statewide survey they signed on for training to learn to identify the calls of nine Michigan species of frogs and toads, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Male frogs call to attract mates and establish territory, like birds, they're easy to identify by their calls, said Lori Sargent, who coordinates the survey for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment.


Frogs and toads are especially vulnerable to toxins in the water and in their environment because they breathe through their skin, Sargent said.

"They can act like a 'canary in the coal mine' and be the first ones to react to serious problems with water quality," Sargent said.

"Amphibians have been around for millions of years.  If they start disappearing, I think we can assume something catastrophic may be happening to our ecosystems."

To find out how frogs and toads are doing in Michigan, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

ESPN site touts Nats at the Zoo

While wandering the world wide web we recently found a list of 101 things all sports fans must do before they die. A bucket list for sports enthusiasts.

As expected, the Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, World Series, Masters, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Wimbledon are all there. What's interesting is No. 71.


The USTA boys tennis championship (August, Kalamazoo, Mich.) This seven-decade-old tournament is where John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors behaved like brats when they literally were still brats.

This year the event is Aug. 6-15.

Source: ESPN.COM

Southwest Michigan provides backdrop for upcoming movie

A major motion picture being filmed in West Michigan could have a few scenes shot in Kalamazoo.

Most of the filming for "30 Minutes or Less," a comedic heist movie being produced by Ben Stiller, is taking place in Grand Rapids. But the film's production teams are scouring the region for a location for a specific scene in the movie, said Rick Hert of the West Michigan Film Office.


Crews are looking for a closed bank with at least six to eight teller positions and a large lobby area, Hert said, adding that venues "from Ludington to Kalamazoo" were being looked at. Filming of the scene would take place over 10 days in August.

Vicky Kettner, director of community relations for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., said that DKI was asked to provide a list of possible venues located in Kalamazoo and the surrounding area.

"They said they were looking for a site that wasn't too urban, but lent itself to the scene," Kettner said.
The rest of the story says the film is to be the largest movie to come out of West Michigan since the state adopted its film incentive program in 2007. 

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Biosciences pick up momentum in Michigan

From 2006 to 2008 Michigan's bioscience industry added 3,300 jobs, faster than the national average, reports Business Review West Michigan.

National trade group BIO in its biannual report said the industry directly employed 37,180 people as of two years ago, growing nearly 10 percent from 2006 in jobs.

The industry pays an average annual wage of $76,394.

The BIO report ranked Michigan 10th nationally in bioscience research and development in 2008, 13th in clinical trials initiated in 2009, and 18th in venture capital investments and 17th in related patents from 2004 to 2009.


Across Michigan, research, testing and medical labs remained the largest and fastest-growing industry subsector from 2006 to 2008, growing by 18.5 percent, or nearly 2,500 jobs, and adding 85 new companies.

MichBio, the industry's trade association in Michigan, attributed the growth in research, testing and medical labs to start-up companies formed out of corporate downsizings at pharmaceutical and device companies, coupled with a growing need for diagnostic and medical testing for health care providers.

The medical device and equipment subsector added more than 1,300 jobs from 2006 to 2008, an 11.9 percent increase.

For more study results, see the entire story.

Source: Business Review West Michigan

Kalamazoo Promise is more than a scholarship program

Education and economic development go hand-in-hand.

Kalamazoo-area economic development leader Ron Kitchens explained the concept to representatives from the national news corp, including NBC and FOX news, in town June 7 for President Barack Obama's address to the 2010 graduating class from Kalamazoo Central High School.

He talked to reporters all day. His message: the area's focus on education as a sound growth strategy.


Of The Kalamazoo Promise, the free college tuition program for Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates, he said, "'They asked, 'Isn't it just a scholarship program?''"

"People don't understand education as a strategy of economic development," said Kitchens, who is president and chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, the area's lead economic development organization. "It really is about putting our financial resources into our natural resources."

For more on Kitchens' message read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Growing jobs is economic development, too

It's time to pay as much attention to helping local businesses grow as is spent seeking out new businesses, business leaders told columnist Rick Hagland.

Business experts say economic gardening could provide a richer, more stable source of jobs for the state.

Michigan shouldn't abandon efforts to bring new companies to Michigan, said Rob Fowler, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

"We don't think it should be either/or," he said. "But 60 to 80 percent of the state's economic development efforts should be put into economic gardening."

Figures compiled by the Cassopolis-based Edward Lowe Foundation, which develops educational programs for entrepreneurs, show that small, "second-stage" companies produced more jobs in the 15-year period between 1993 and 2007 than any other business segment in the state.

Second-stage companies are those that employ between 10 and 100 workers, have annual sales of at least $1 million and want to grow, according to the Lowe Foundation's definition.

These businesses created 137,249 jobs in Michigan between 1993 and 2007, while companies employing 500 or more workers shed 257,585 jobs in the same time period.

For more on growing businesses, read the rest of the story.

Source: Rick Haglund for Mlive

White House: Community involvement set Kalamazoo apart for Obama visit

What was the deciding factor that will bring President Obama to Kalamazoo Central High School's June 7 commencement ceremony?

Melody Barnes, the White House Domestic Policy Adviser, told WWMT-Channel 3 that Kalamazoo Central stood above the rest of the applicants for a number of reasons. Community involvement was particularly important.


"The Kalamazoo Promise really is a wonderful program. Those anonymous donors assure Kalamazoo graduates will be able to go to college was critical, tells us how important this high school is to the community."

The community was involved from the start, from supporting K-Central students as they made their video to following through by setting the stage for the big day.
"Kalamazoo stood out, top number one winner over 1,000 applicants because of the community involvement," said Barnes.

Source: WWMT

Life EMS completes $2 million expansion project in Kalamazoo

Leaders of Life EMS Ambulance service have shown renewed commitment to the Kalamazoo area with a $2 million expansion and renovation of its property on the city's North Side.

Mark Meijer, president of Grand Rapids-based business said the company was glad to be a part of the community.


"We're primarily thankful every day for the trust that Kalamazoo and Portage puts in us and our medics in providing these critical services," Meijer said.

Life EMS has a service contract with a consortium of area governments including the city of Kalamazoo, Oshtemo Township, Parchment and Cooper Township.

Its workers operated for most of the past year out of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety's former station at North Rose Street while its offices on North Street were being expanded from about 6,500 square feet to 18,170 square feet.

Life EMS, which started with two ambulances and about eight workers serving the Kalamazoo area, now has about 80 workers here who utilize 14 paramedic transport vehicles and 10 wheelchair transport vans.

For more on the dedication of the property at  517 E. North St., read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo Promise spurs academic achievement in public schools

To prepare students for college and create a college-going culture for its students, the Kalamazoo Public schools have adopted a comprehensive list of social and academic expectations for children of every age, reports the Detroit News.

Kindergartners are learning about college. Literacy is a focus of learning in early grades. And college visits in middle years and Advanced Placement courses in high school are all leading to more students seeking higher education.

An unprecedented experiment, The Kalamazoo Promise pays college tuition to public colleges and universities in Michigan -- 65 percent is covered for those who attend one of Kalamazoo's two public high schools. If they attend a district school for 13 years, beginning in kindergarten, 100 percent is covered.


"The money has acted as a catalyst for the community to put education at the center of its vision," said Michelle Miller-Adams, a visiting scholar at W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a nonpartisan think tank in Kalamazoo.

While funding is a critical part of an equation to help students become successful, the community also plays a crucial role in supporting the larger goals of the program, Miller-Adams said. So far, she said, the school system is delivering.

"Across the board, there has been an effort to create and deepen a college-going culture throughout grades K through 12," said Miller-Adams, author of "The Power of a Promise," a book about the scholarship program. "This is a district that has a high proportion of low-income kids, and that is not typically a population that has a high level of college awareness or aspirations. But there have been efforts at every level to deepen that college-going culture."

The story also says The Promise also helped Kalamazoo Central become the first high school to win a commencement address from President Barack Obama.

Source: The Detroit News

No cats allowed in Kalamazoo pooch park

Dogs in Kalamazoo soon will have a place to romp unleashed, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Work is expected to begin soon on the first phase of a city dog park. With a low bid of $208,197.88, the project will be built by 5 Leprechauns, of Jackson. The company came in nearly $40,000 under the next low bidder in the nine-bidder field.

For unlimited use of the facility, the city plans to sell annual passes at a cost estimated at $30 to $60. Non-city residents will be assessed a higher charge to use the dog park.


Plans for the Fairmount dog park include a fenced area with entrance gates for pooches, waste receptacles, drinking fountains for dogs and their owners, activity areas for the canines, picnic tables, benches, signage, landscaping and parking improvements, vehicular security gates and barrier-free walkways.

Once open later this summer, the park will be the first public space in the city of Kalamazoo where dogs can legally roam without a leash.

The story goes on to say, a buy-a-brick campaign is now under way to create an endowment for ongoing operating and maintenance costs.

For more on the plans for the city's first dog park, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Apartments spur redevelopment in Washington Square

Redevelopment has been slow in coming to the Washington Square district of Kalamazoo's Edison neighborhood. But now it's happening, thanks to Roger Schmidt and his partners at TCS Properties LLC.

The group acquired the property at 1336-1348 Portage Street two years ago for about $240,000. After extensive renovations they are now offering apartments for lease there.

Schmidt said five of the 16 apartments on the second and third floors of the property are leased.

The tenants thus far are professional people who work downtown and want easy access to it.


The renovation work has included modernizing the building with new plumbing and electrical work, opening up interior areas, reconfiguring spaces and ameliorating damage from a fire that ravaged part of the interior of the structure after the acquisition, about 18 months ago.

"Eight of the 16 apartments are done and we will be getting a certificate of occupancy in a week or two," Schmidt said.

Apartments in the location range in size from 600 square feet to about 800 square feet and will lease for about $500 per month. TCS will look to renovate commercial space on the ground floor of the building, which already has two tenants.

The city of Kalamazoo, business leaders, economic-development officials and neighborhood groups continue to look for resources and ways to revive the area, particularly the now-vacant, one-acre lot that used to be the site of Deja Vu. It is directly across Portage Street from Schmidt's property.

To learn Schmidt's vision for the neighborhood, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

President Obama coming to Kalamazoo Central commencement

Talk about a "wow factor" that puts Kalamazoo front and center in the national spotlight. The White House announced this week that President Barack Obama will be the graduation speaker for Kalamazoo Central High School June 10.

Central was declared the national winner of the Race To The Top High School Commencement Challenge. The competition included applications from over 1,000 schools. The list of applicants was narrowed down by the White House Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education to six high school finalists. President Obama personally chose the winner among the final three schools. Read all about it on the White House site:


Congratulations Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the winner of the 2010 Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge! We received over 1,000 applications that were narrowed down by the White House Domestic Policy Council and Department of Education to six high school finalists. Between April 26th and April 29th, over 170,000 people weighed in on short videos and essay from the six finalists. President Obama selected the national winner from the three high schools with the highest average ratings.

Source: thewhitehouse.gov

Graduates volunteer to show gratitude for the Promise

The first group of students to graduate from college with the benefits of the Kalamazoo Promise are grateful for the opportunity and are repaying the gift by volunteering in the community, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The story goes on to say more than 1,500 graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools have shared in $17 million given out by the Promise, which covers all tuition for students who have been in the district since at least ninth grade.


The recipients are full of gratitude toward the anonymous donors who gave them a shot at a college education.

"I don't even know if I could find the words if they were to stand in front of me," said Torian Johnson, a music major at WMU. "To me, it still feels kind of unreal that I go to school for free."

To find out more about what students are planning to do after graduation, read the entire story.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Home builders say construction is up across the region

Residential builders in Kalamazoo County are busier this year than they were a year ago, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

Housing starts, the term used for new, residential building permits, increased 15 percent in Kalamazoo County during the January-through-March period this year.


Dale Shugars, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kalamazoo, said much of the growth over the last year can be attributed to the federal government's $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit.

"The next quarter will probably be slower because there won't be the $8,000," he said.

The tax credits -- $8,000 for a first time buyer and $6,500 for an existing homeowner -- expire April 30.

"I think '09 was the bottom of the housing industry," Shugars said. "When you look at the numbers for '09, it looks like it's flattened out. And in 2010, it's starting to climb out of the recession."

For a breakdown of housing starts by municipality, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Federal funds will pay for Kal-Haven Trail $1.2 million face-lift

The resurfacing of the eastern half of the Kal-Haven Trail will begin this month, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

The portion to be resurfaced reaches from the 10th Street trailhead in Kalamazoo County to the west village limits of Bloomingdale in Van Buren County.


Most of the funds for the $1.2 million project were obtained by the road commission through the federal stimulus package.

Battle Creek-based contractor Hoffman Brothers will resurface the limestone and asphalt as well as mark the pavement.

The work is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 31.

The surface of the 34-mile-long trail is about 20 years old.

Hoffman plans to resurface the trail in one-mile sections and will set up detours to keep the trail open during the construction project.

Riders are encouraged to check in with trail staff at the various trail heads for up-to-date project information.

For information on the number of riders who use the trail, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Derek Jeter devoted to Kalamazoo

A recent USA Today story tells of Derek Jeter's commitment to his former hometown.
Almost as famous for his good looks as his skills on the diamond, the New York Yankees captain and celebrity formed Turn 2 Foundation, which promotes positive lifestyles in kids and is run by his family, according to the story.

Jeter's foundation focuses its efforts in New York, Tampa ... and Kalamazoo. It maintains a satellite office on the Western Michigan University campus and has awarded more than $3.5 million in grants in the area since its 1996 inception.
"I don't care if I'm playing and living somewhere else," Jeter says at the Yankees spring training base in Tampa. "Michigan is where I grew up, and it's where I had my first foundation event. It's where I'll continue to keep the foundation going."
Jeter, 35, comes to town about once a year, and his father, Turn 2 vice chairman Charles Jeter, tends to foundation business in town every couple of months.
The 10-time All-Star surprised about 250 children when he showed up at the Turn 2 holiday party in December. Later, he and girlfriend Minka Kelly, a 29-year-old actress, dropped by his alma mater, Kalamazoo Central High School, to say hello to former teachers. Jeter said he usually makes a point to drive by his old home, a modest split-level that backs up to the school's athletic fields.

For more on Jeter's foundation, including comments from Kalamazooans, read the entire story.
Source: USA Today

Stryker Corp. strikes $3-million deal with a Missouri company

Under an agreement reached with a Missouri company, Stryker Corp. of Kalamazoo will purchase neurosurgery devices and microsurgery tools, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.
The $3 million agreement was announced by Synergetics USA Inc., which the story says has agreed to sell Stryker its Omni line of products. Excerpt:
"We believe the new strategic agreement with Stryker will be an important part in expanding our neurosurgery device sales," said David Hable, Synergetics' president and chief executive officer.

Synergetics, a supplier of precision microsurgery instrumentation, has also said that it expects to increase its business with Stryker.
For more on the deal, read the entire story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo's Larry Bell gets a cheer from his peers

The Brewers Association has recognized Larry Bell of Bell's Brewery for his dedication and service to the industry, reports Draft Magazine.

The magazine that ranks the best beers of the year says the industry recognition came at the opening session of the Brewers Association's annual Craft Brewers Conference April 7 in Boulder, Colo.


The Brewers Association Recognition Award went to Larry Bell, Founder and Owner of Bell's Brewery, Inc. Bell started the Kalamazoo Brewing Company and Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1985, the earliest craft brewery in the eastern half of the United States. Larry's dedication to the industry includes serving as a former chair of the Brewers Association's predecessor organization and acting as a driving force with current Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper for the creation of American Beer Month (which evolved into American Craft Beer Week).

"Larry is a leader in our industry known for his innovative beers and the passion he brings to craft brewing," said Brewers Association Board of Directors Chair Nick Matt, CEO of Matt Brewing Company.

Mountain West Brewery Supply's David Edgar noted in documents supporting Bell's nomination that "Larry is continually pushing the envelope with experimenting with different grains, different yeast strains and plenty of hops."

For a look a who else was recognized, read the entire story.

Source: Draft magazine

New business picture calls for new way of thinking

Collaboration is bringing out the best of two area businesses, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.

Evan Eichhorn's Kalamazoo Screw Products is working with Pinto Products' owner Matthew Pinto to produce parts for a tank that holds disinfectant used to fog large areas, such as class rooms or hospital rooms. The tank design itself was developed by Altapure Health LLC, based in Carmel, Ind.

One reason the collaboration works is small manufacturers like Kalamazoo Screw Products and Pinto Products can produce specialized parts quickly, a huge advantage for both, Eichhorn says in the story.


Pinto said he signed on with Eichhorn because they have a relationship built on trust.

He said he remembers a time when manufacturing companies didn't need to do anything special or out of the box to turn a profit. But, he said the downturn in the automotive industry shook up that sense of complacency and paved the way for an era of cooperation among businesses of all sizes.

"The fact that things are tight makes it a no-brainer and we're doing whatever we can to survive," Pinto said. "If we get this (Altapure business) it will see us through the next couple of months."

Eichhorn said he lost about $2.5 million "almost overnight" when production of Volvo and Lincoln automobiles went overseas. He said his staff of 19 has decreased to six within the last three years.

For more on how the businesses are collaborating, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo in 10 years ... What do you want to see?

During the next two months the public will be invited to share opinions about the city officials' plan for developing Kalamazoo over the next 10 years, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.
The story goes on to say there are a number of ways the public can let the City of Kalamazoo know what it thinks of the plan. Comments can be phoned to (269) 337-8044. E-mail can be sent to cpd@kalamazoocity.org. Comments can be posted on the Plan Kalamazoo Facebook and Twitter sites.


City Planner Keith Hernandez said the draft is being delivered to surrounding governmental units to assure Kalamazoo's plan complements future uses forecast for adjacent areas in Portage and neighboring townships.

In addition, Hernandez said copies will be available for public review at Kalamazoo Public Library locations, Kalamazoo City Hall and the city's Department of Community Planning and Development office.

The draft document also is expected to be posted on the city's Web site.

Known as "Plan Kalamazoo," consultants sponsored a series of public meetings over the past year asking residents and business owners for their thoughts on how land can be best used to support Kalamazoo's neighborhoods, its commercial and industrial areas, green spaces and transportation needs.

To find out more about the process for adopting the plan, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Once the butt of jokes, Kalamazoo designer's pants become serious business

Colorful, multipattern designs are the trademark of designer Delainie van Almelo, who has been creating them for seven years. They make her totes and wallets unmistakeable, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

No matter the style, the 27-year-old's items often feature small pieces of different colored cotton fabric and patterns sewn into a whole, the story says.


In addition to bags and wallets, she's done snap pouches, magnets and mirrors, hats and legwarmers, "pillow cube" toys and bibs for babies, dresses and tank tops, even camera cases and coasters.

"Anything colorful," she said, laughing.

Her most popular items, however — sold like the rest of her items through her online store hosted through Etsy.com — are her custom "ninja pants," wide-legged pants with a fold-over waist typically crafted from 100 percent cotton fabric or a 50/50 cotton-poly blend.

"They're like yoga pants, but I didn't want to just call them yoga pants," van Almelo said. "My husband and his best friend used to make fun of these pants all the time, and they'd call me a ninja in them, and that's where (the name) kind of came from."

Van Almelo's had the last laugh, however, having sold more than 250 pair of the pants since she began making them three or four years ago. Through her online store alone, she's sold her goods to individuals in 41 states and 10 countries.

To find out what else Alemlo makes, read the entire story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo County takes step that could lead to arena funding

A resolution to declare Kalamazoo County a recovery zone so it can take advantage of $46 million in low cost bonds — which could be used to help build an $81 million downtown event center — has been approved by the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The low cost bonds are available through the federal stimulus program and $27.65 million can go to private borrowers in the form of tax-exempt financing.

The county can use another $18.43 million to build public infrastructure, like roads or water and sewage systems.

In the story, County Board Vice Chairwoman Deb Buchholtz says few local projects would qualify for the bonds.


"Whatever project is funded with those bonds has to have the financial backing to pay off the bonds," said Buchholtz, R-Cooper Township.

County officials are looking to use the facility bonds toward the $81 million arena proposal in downtown Kalamazoo, if the project moves forward. The county board is considering whether to ask voters in August to approve a new tax on food and drinks in bars and restaurants, as well as an increase in the hotel tax, to pay off the construction debt.

Buchholtz said the $27.65 million was a "sizable amount," but that Kalamazoo County was still working to access the unused bonding allocation that had been granted to other counties in the state.

For more on other funding the county is seeking, read the rest of the story.

Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

SW Michigan drug companies, biotech firms may benefit from reform legislation

Drug companies and biotech firms may be positioned to make money under health-care reform legislation, the Detroit Free Pree reports.
The March 28 story says that money managers are seeing the potential for such companies to benefit from the changes to health care, and it quotes Pfizer as one company that's eyeing the potential.

Wall Street didn't collapse into rubble once President Barack Obama signed the landmark bill to begin widespread changes in health insurance.
Could that mean that somebody will admit there's money to be made in the sweeping reforms we'll see in the next few years? You bet.
Rick Chambers, a spokesperson for Pfizer in Kalamazoo, said much depends on how details are worked out.
But he said Pfizer -- which employs about 3,000 people in Michigan, mostly in Kalamazoo County -- is optimistic that the reforms will preserve the pharmaceutical industry's ability to develop new drugs and bring them to market.
Chambers noted that tens of millions of people who could not afford health care will have a means to access treatment -- including medicine.
Standard & Poor's Equity Research issued a report that listed biotechnology firms and generic drug manufacturers among winners from the health care legislation.
"Representing the first choice in drug therapy, inexpensive generics should be prime beneficiaries of new pharmaceutical business resulting from the extension of new health coverage for 32 million presently uninsured," wrote the S&P Equity Research team led by analyst Jeffrey Loo. The report noted some negatives for the managed-care industry -- including an end to denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
For more on the winners, read the rest of story.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Kalamazoo firm claims spot on 50 Companies to Watch list 

Maestro eLearning, a provider of online training programs for companies across the country, has been named one of Michigan's 50 Companies to Watch in 2010, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.
The March 30 story says the formal award, sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation and given by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, will be handed out April 29 in Lansing.

"We are so pleased to receive this recognition. The celebration of a thriving high-tech education company promotes what we believe the future workforce of Michigan could be," Maestro President Jennifer Randall said in a press release from the company.
Read more about the award in the rest of story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Kalamazoo River Trail grows, gives bikers, walkers, runners more miles to move

Come April 1, work will begin to add nearly six miles to the Kalamazoo River Trail, the Kalamazoo Gazette reports.
The latest project in a larger overall plan to enhance the trail comes at a cost of $1.7 million and will extend the stretch from Mosel Avenue in Parchment to D Avenue in Cooper Township.

It will take users along the river and past Markin Glen County Park and the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

The trail should be completed at the end of August.
Several miles of paved trail will be built starting next month while another part of the trail that was finished in November will be open for the first time in warm weather.
By summer's end, slightly more than 14 miles of the trail will be open to the public. It will eventually be 35 miles long.
"It's all coming together," Kalamazoo County Parks Director David Rachowicz said of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which started being built two years ago.
For more about the trail, read the entire story.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette

Bell's Eccentric Cafe grows in Kalamazoo to fit in more music fans

A big fish in the local music scene is about to get bigger, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Renovation work has begun at Bell's Eccentric Cafe, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
The $2.5 million project is projected to make the cafe, a downtown venue for the live music scene, a more major player by turning a vacant space behind the cafe bar into a performance area with room for more than 300 people, Bell's Brewery Inc. president Larry Bell, says in the story. Bell's is well-known for its widely popular beers.
In addition, bathrooms will be upgraded, a new atrium entryway will be added and a new parking lot for about 55 cars will open on Ransom Street.

Bell says in the story construction is expected to continue through summer — a popular time for the cafe. He asks patrons to be patient — the wait will be worth it.


The back room, which is believed to have been built in the 1880s, is the oldest part of the cafe and requires "tender-loving care."

Once it's complete, Bell said it will have a stage, sound equipment, lighting, bathrooms, a bar and a green room for performers. There will also be some reconfiguring of the outdoor beer garden and patio.

"This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time," Bell said.

Bell said he expects to be able to book more big-name bands and, by combining the new music room with the garden, host concerts for "perhaps 1,000 people."

Read the rest of the story to find out more of Bell's plans.

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