4/27/23: Finally, a new fire chief

Thursday, April 27, 2023

High 63°/Low 44° Sunny

Kalamazoo Township has a new fire chief after months of turmoil. Also: Property values went up significantly in Kalamazoo County and that’s raising county revenues. And Oshtemo has launched its controversial sewer project despite a new lawsuit.

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Rising property values good for county coffers

Property values in Kalamazoo County have risen significantly over the past year. That’s good news in terms of county revenues, but bad news for some homeowners. The county’s latest tax equalization report – approved on Tuesday – shows property values have gone up 6.8% since last year. County commission Chair John Taylor said that’s the highest increase in a decade. “That’s great news,” he said. “That means that we’re going to receive more tax dollars.”

The increase in revenue comes from the increase in taxes paid by those property owners. Those property owners include large companies like Pfizer and Stryker, but also regular homeowners who may find it difficult to afford rising tax bills. “We also gotta make sure that we know there’s a lot of people in our community that can’t afford housing,” said Taylor. Tax increases are limited to the rate of inflation in Michigan, thanks to the Headlee Amendment passed by voters in 1978. County voters had the opportunity to override that limitation in November, and decided against it. That means property tax increases aren’t as much as they might have otherwise been.

More News You Need To Know

K Twp hires new fire chief

Seven months after Kalamazoo Township fired its fire chief, a new person will take the reins of the department. The township board on Monday voted 4-3 to hire Jairus Baird, the fire department’s former battalion chief. That follows several months of turmoil over the leadership of the department. The former chief David Obreiter was fired in September, along with then-battalion chief Matt Mulac, over a mishandled harassment investigation. Both publicly disputed their firings during lengthy board meetings.

Baird was picked to take over the department, but township trustees balked at formally offering him the position during a meeting on April 3. Trustees raised concerns over his proposed contract and problems with the hiring process. A revised contract on Monday brought enough votes to approve Baird’s hiring. Treasurer Sherine Miller, Clerk Lisa Moaiery, and trustee Ashley Glass voted against the hire, but said it wasn’t a rejection of Baird specifically. “This is not personal at all with the candidate,” Glass said. “It’s not a good contract for the township and I can’t in good conscience vote for it.” Despite objections, Baird was sworn in immediately following the meeting. [MLive]

Oshtemo launches sewer project despite new lawsuit

On Tuesday, the Oshtemo Township Board of Trustees agreed to hire a contractor to begin work on installing new sewer lines. Lounsbury Excavating of Paw Paw will perform work on phase one of the project, which will run new sewer lines in some parts of the township. There is no specific timeline for work to begin, but it’s expected crews won’t break ground until the fall.

Oshtemo’s sewer project has been rife with controversy since it was first suggested in 2012. Residents voted against a bond request to fund the project in 2020, but the township board came back with a revised proposal that didn’t require voter approval. In 2021, a township resident circulated petitions to again put the issue before voters. Township Clerk Dusty Farmer rejected most of those signatures. Then on Tuesday, the trustees were surprised when two residents announced during the public comment portion of the meeting that they had filed suit against the county over those rejected signatures. Christopher DiPiero and Donald Viland said they want a court to order Farmer to accept the rejected petition signatures. The township’s attorney is reviewing the lawsuit. [MLive]

Esports finals coming to WMU

Western Michigan University will have the chance to show off its esports facilities to students from around the state this weekend. The university will play host to the Michigan esports championships for several different games on Saturday. The competitions are organized by the Michigan High School Esports League (MHSEL), which coordinates competition between school esports teams similar to the way the Michigan High School Athletic Association coordinates traditional sports competitions. Teams from 61 different high schools will compete in three different games: League of Legends, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Ryan Cayce, the director of MHSEL, told WOOD TV 8 that WMU is a great place to hold the competition. “It’s a beautiful facility. It’s going to have great production and they’re going to see some amazing talented students on display,” he said. [WOOD]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Bits Of Business Mini-Expo – Portage Zhang Senior Center
9:00AM 4/27

Upgrade Your Lunchable for Teens – Kalamazoo Public Library, Oshtemo
4:00PM 4/27

Open Mic Night – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
5:00PM 4/27

Reading from “Omena Bay Testament” by Gail Griffin – Zhang Legacy Collections Center
6:00PM 4/27

Canuck Club – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
7:00PM 4/27

Chicken & Biscuits – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 4/27-29, 5/4-6; 2pm 4/30, 5/7

Kate Pillsbury and Eric O’Daly – The Clover Room
7:30PM 4/27

Over The Rhine – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/27

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 4/28

Artists Meeting Artists – Portage Parks & Recreation Building
6:00PM 4/28

Grace Theisen – The Distant Whistle Brewhouse
6:00PM 4/28

Barrelhouse acoustic blues – ThunderBird
6:00PM 4/28

Nate Bargatze: The Be Funny Tour – Kalamazoo State Theatre
7pm & 9:30pm 4/28

Eat Drink Give 2023 – Gryphon Place
7:00PM 4/28

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical JV – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 4/28; 1pm 4/29; 4pm 4/29; 2pm 4/30; 10am 4/26-27

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – Fontana
7:30PM 4/28

Minor Element w/ Cam The Cryptid – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/28

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 4/28

Old Hank’s Son – Nob Hill Bar and Grill
8pm 4/28-29

The Incantations & The Mickeys – The Clover Room
8:00PM 4/28

Good Stand Up Comedy with Dan Alten & friends – Presidential Brewing Co.
8:00PM 4/28

Oxtrot Trail Run – Tillers International
8:00AM 4/29

Kids Fix It! Bike Workshop – Celery Flats
9:00AM 4/29

The Spring Craft Show – Kalamazoo Expo Center
9:00AM 4/29

Garlic Mustard Contest – Portage Parks & Recreation Building
10:00AM 4/29

Plow Day 2023 – Tillers International
11:00AM 4/29

Healthy, Wealthy, Wise – Edison Neighborhood Association
12:00PM 4/29

Bring Your Own Game Saturdays – Valhalla Kalamazoo
1:00PM 4/29

Statewide Astronomy Night – Kalamazoo Valley Museum
5:00PM 4/29

Comedy Night at the Pub – Main St Pub Vicksburg
7:00PM 4/29

Sage Castleberry’s EP Release – The Clover Room
7:00PM 4/29

Travelin’ Music – Kalamazoo Concert Band
7:30PM 4/29

Texas Hill – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/29

Public Observing Session – Kalamazoo Astronomical Society
8:00PM 4/29

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 4/29

Totally 80’s Prom for Adults with The 1985 – The Dock At Bayview
9:00PM 4/29

1st Anniversary Black Tie Gala! – The Xperience by LuXury Escapes
9:00PM 4/29

See more upcoming events here.

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