4.20.17:  Better 911 contacts might have foiled fatal bike crash




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says better communication between police agencies might have prevented the deaths of five bicyclists last year in southwestern Michigan.

A pickup truck plowed into a pack of cyclists on a rural road near Kalamazoo last June. The driver, Charles Pickett Jr., is charged with second-degree murder and driving while under the influence of drugs.

The NTSB says 22 minutes passed between the first 911 call about an erratic driver and the crash in Cooper Township. The board says Pickett might have been intercepted by an officer if dispatchers for three police agencies had shared more information among themselves about three 911 calls.

NTSB member Earl Weener disagreed last week. He’s not convinced that communication by dispatchers was a contributing factor in the crash.


4.14.17:  Judge mulls whether to allow Michigan Uber gunman’s comments




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A judge is considering whether to allow statements at trial made by an Uber driver in Michigan accused of fatally shooting six strangers in between picking up riders.

Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Alexander Lipsey said Thursday that he would rule by April 20 after hearing arguments.

Police have quoted the suspect, Jason Dalton, as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the night of the shootings around Kalamazoo in southwestern Michigan.

Dalton’s attorney wants the statements suppressed, saying investigators violated his client’s rights against self-incrimination.

Prosecutors say Dalton waived his Fifth Amendment rights when he started a conversation about the police investigation.

Dalton faces murder, assault with intent to murder and gun charges in the Feb. 20, 2016, shootings that also wounded two people.


4.13.17:  Western Michigan University picks Georgetown dean as leader




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Western Michigan University has picked a dean and professor of economics at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy as its next president.

The Kalamazoo, Michigan school’s trustees on Wednesday approved the selection of Edward B. Montgomery to the post. His selection follows a national search to find a successor to John M. Dunn, who earlier announced that he planned to retire.

Montgomery served as President Barack Obama’s auto-recovery czar. He has held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon and Michigan State universities as well as the University of Maryland during a more than 35-year academic career. He has been at Georgetown since 2010.

Dunn had planned to retire June 30, but the school says he will continue in his role until July 31.


4.12.17:  Kalamazoo to spend $10M to break poverty cycle, uplift youth


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan city of Kalamazoo is setting aside $10 million from local donations for aspirational, community-building projects mostly centered on addressing the cycle of poverty and uplifting youth in the city.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that urban designers, city staff and organizations throughout Kalamazoo will be answering community questions and accepting residents’ feedback Tuesday on the city’s master plan, Imagine Kalamazoo 2025.

A work session held Monday focused on Imagine Kalamazoo as well as creating neighborhood outreach and shared prosperity. It also focused on how years of work from different ongoing processes will help the City Commission choose projects to be funded through a future foundation.

City commissioners have voted to make three summer youth programs the first to receive money from the $10 million.


4-7-17 Tree Falls on Car – Injures Two

Two people were taken to a local hospital after a large tree branch fell on their car.  Kalamazoo Public Safety reports the branch fell on the car and covered the entire roadway.

Several nearby citizens tried to move the branch off the car and out of the road in an effort to help those passengers in the car.

Officers report the two inside the car suffered injuries but were conscious when police arrived on scene.  One suffered a minor injury to their hand, the other had to be extricated.  Both were taken to a local hospital and their injuries are described as non-life threatening.

4-7-17 Another Auto Recall

DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai and Kia are recalling nearly 1.2 million cars and SUVs because the engines can fail and stall, increasing the risk of a crash.

The recall covers the Korean automakers’ most popular models including 2013 and 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUVs and Sonata midsize cars. Also covered are Kia Optima midsize cars from 2011 through 2014, Kia Sportage SUVs from 2011 through 2013 and Kia Sorento SUVs from 2012 through 2014.

The companies say that debris left from manufacturing can restrict oil flow to connecting rod bearings. That can increase temperatures and cause the bearings to wear and fail.

Hyundai and Kia will notify owners and dealers will inspect the engines. They’ll replace the block if needed at no cost. The recall is scheduled to start on May 19.


4-7-17 Thousands Still Without Power in W MI

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Crews are working to restore power to thousands of customers in Michigan after storms packing high winds, snow and heavy rain hit the state. Authorities say Thursday’s weather was a factor in at least one death, a fatal crash on snowy roads in southwestern Michigan. DTE Energy says nearly 50,000 of its customers lost power. Thursday’s mix of snow and rain across much of Michigan also caused flooding.

3.20.17:  Downtown Kalamazoo cafe hires ex-offenders




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A new coffee shop and cafe in downtown Kalamazoo is almost completely staffed by ex-offenders as part of a culinary arts program at Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement Program.

The Walnut & Park Cafe officially opened last week. The shop serves coffees ground by the Water Street Coffee Roaster along with homemade baked goods, breakfast and lunch dishes.

Program graduates earn certifications in culinary arts and ServSafe, a food safety and protection program. The certifications allow them to work at the cafe and other venues in the hospitality industry.

The goal of the cafe is to help staff build their resumes so they are able to have marketable recent job experience.

Probation Enhancement Program President William DeBoer says the program wants to reduce the number of re-offenders in the state.


3.13.17:  Kalamazoo development could include new courthouse




KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Kalamazoo leaders are working to come up with a plan to develop a deserted property on downtown’s west end.

The span of four blocks known as Arcadia Commons West has sat nearly empty for two decades and is used mainly for parking.

Kalamazoo County is proposing to turn one of the blocks into a new courthouse, which county commissioners hope will spur wider development.

The plan calls for PlazaCorp to buy the four blocks in a land swap that will result in the county owning one for the potential courthouse. PlazaCorp will get to develop two blocks, as well as the existing nearby courthouse. Western Michigan University would own the fourth block.

Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dale Shugars says he’s confident the project will result in more growth.


3.6.17:  Search resumes for car that crashed into in Kalamazoo River




BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — Crews think they have found the car that went into the Kalamazoo River in Battle Creek.

The incident took place Saturday and crews searched for several hours but found nothing.

A driver told police that the small car sped past him before it drove off the road. Police obtained footage showing a car floating in the river.   It is not known how many people were in the vehicle.

Sgt. Chad Fickle said Sunday that no missing person reports had been received.

Sgt. Brent Lincoln of the Calhoun County Sheriff Department the river current was about 20 mph and the depth of the water was 8-20 feet.