3/17/2023: A lawsuit over lead

Friday, March 17, 2023

High 40°/Low 19° Breezy and rainy

A Kalamazoo couple are suing after their children were exposed to lead poisoning for nearly three years. Also: Two former Lakeside Academy staff have entered pleas after a teen there died. And Kalamazoo Township is taking a closer look at its fire department.

News You Need To Know

Kzoo family sues over lead poisoning

A Kalamazoo family has filed suit against the City of Kalamazoo and Open Doors Kalamazoo over a house they say poisoned them with lead. Troy and Kyla White allege Open Doors did not disclose that a house they rented to the family was contaminated with lead, which they say poisoned the water their three children drank. The couple, who are Black, also say the organization would not have rented that house to a white family. “Defendant Open Doors discriminated against (Troy and Kyla White) when they purposely leased (them) a rental unit infested with excessively high levels of lead contamination in which they would not have leased their non-minority program participants,” reads the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Kyla White specifically asked if the nearly 130 year old house had any lead issues because she had an infant daughter. She was assured it didn’t and the family lived in the house for nearly three years. But testing last year showed high levels of lead in the three children’s blood. The Whites say that when they complained, Open Doors told them they “should clean their children more thoroughly” and said the poisoning was due to their “filthy ways.” The lawsuit is seeking $48 million in damages and to order Open Doors to undergo racial and cultural sensitivity training. [MLive]

Former Lakeside Academy workers enter pleas in teens death

Cornelius Fredericks died in May 2020 after staff members restrained him at Kalamazoo’s Lakeside Academy. Now two of those staff members have enter pleas of no contest to charges stemming from the 16-year-old’s death. Michael Mosley, 49, and Zachary Solis, 30, are charged with involuntary manslaughter after they sat on the teenager’s chest for more than nine minutes.

Fredericks was transported to the hospital shortly after the incident where he died two days later. The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner determined that he died of asphyxia as a direct result of being restrained. “Cornelius Frederick died as a result of gross negligence,” said Jeff Williams, Kalamazoo County chief assistant prosecuting attorney. The Lakeside Academy was subsequently shut down. Head Nurse Heather McLogan previously pleaded no contest to charges of third-degree child abuse and was sentenced to 18 month probation. Mosely and Solis will be sentenced in December. [WWMT]

Independent firm to assess Kzoo Township fire department

Kalamazoo Township trustees have agreed to bring in an outside firm to give an assessment of the township’s fire department. That comes six months after the township manager fired the department’s two top officials and as the township seeks to hire a new chief. “I think as we look to restructuring the management of our fire department, if we had some outside assessment and recommendations … I think that could be a really useful tool to help the leadership we are going to have in that department,” said Township Clerk Lisa Moaiery during a meeting on Monday.

The township is sending out a request for proposals to three firms, including McGrath Consulting Group, which recently reviewed Texas Township’s fire department. The assessment is meant to investigate the department to see if there are ways to provide quality services in a more cost-effective way. The contract is expected to cost no more than $45,000. The township is currently in negotiations to promote current Battalion Chief Jairus Baird to chief. [MLive]

‘Flavor producer’ expanding thanks to state funds

A company that produces flavorings used in food and drinks is expanding its operations in Kalamazoo County. FlavorSum, based in Kalamazoo, announced that it is building a 35,000 square foot addition to its production facility in Oshtemo. The $10 million project is being supported by a $500,000 grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The company chose to expand in Kalamazoo rather than in competing sites elsewhere in the country or in Canada. Oshtemo Township has also offered the company a 50% property tax abatement. Once completed, the company expects to hire 51 new employees. [MiBiz]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Spring Flower & Garden Expo – Wedel’s
10am 3/17, 9am 3/18

Carrie McFerrin with Justin Wierenga – Shakespeare’s Pub
12:30PM 3/17

Marmalade Dog 26 – WMU, Bernhard Center
2:30pm 3/17, 9am 3/18, 10:30am 3/19

Bob Wallis, Jim Beebe, Greg Orr, & Ryan Demeniuk – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
5:00PM 3/17

Feel Frieda – The Distant Whistle Brewhouse
6:00PM 3/17

Neil Jansen – The Thirsty Hound
6:30PM 3/17

Smokus Pocus: A 420 Magic Show – Dormouse Theatre
7:00PM 3/17

Becoming Dr. Ruth – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 3/17-18; 2pm 3/18

On The Town – WMU, Williams Theatre
7:30pm 3/17-18, 3/23-25; 2pm 3/19, 3/26

Morning’s at Seven – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 3/17-18, 3/24-25; 2pm 3/19, 3/26

Trifocal w/ Brother Smith – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 3/17

Kalamazoo Macintosh Users Group – Portage District Library
9:00AM 3/18

Kalamazoo Living History Show – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
9am 3/18-19

A Walk to End Homelessness – Housing Resources Inc.
10:00AM 3/18

Jerico Faire – Jerico
11:00AM 3/18

The Twelve Dancing Princesses – Ballet Arts Ensemble
2pm 3/18-19

Pysanky Class (Ukrainian Easter Eggs) – Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
2:00PM 3/18

Brothers Proper – ThunderBird Kalamazoo
2:00PM 3/18

Keynote Speaker: Missy Stults – Lessons Learned From A2Zero: Ann Arbor’s Climate and Equity Work – Climate Emergency Month
3:00PM 3/18

6th Annual Masquerade Ball – Radisson Plaza Hotel
6:00PM 3/18

Cold Mountain Child – The Clover Room
7:00PM 3/18

Bear Tracks Music – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 3/18

An All-American Celebration – Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
7:30PM 3/18

Rachael Davis – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 3/18

Chaos – Papa Pete’s
9:00PM 3/18

See more upcoming events here.

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