4/3/23: An arena and regional prosperity

Monday, April 3, 2023

High 63°/Low 45° Partly sunny

Kalamazoo city leaders will get an update on economic development efforts tonight. That will probably include info on a new downtown arena. Also: Portage schools is pushing back on an order to reschedule graduation for one high school. And WMU is working to incorporate DEI into its classes.

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Economic development agency to report on arena, other initiatives

Kalamazoo city commissioners will get an update tonight from Southwest Michigan First on its new approach to job development in the region. That will likely include discussion of a project to build an arena in downtown Kalamazoo. The economic development agency has adopted a new strategic plan it calls the “Path to Regional Prosperity.” CEO Jonas Peterson has said the downtown arena and event center is just one of several ideas aimed toward increasing economic health for everyone in southwest Michigan. The group is considering other initiatives. “Big initiatives,” he said. “Where we can convene groups, do some of the upfront work. Some of those will be successful. Others may not be successful, but we think that’s valuable work.”

The arena project was first announced two weeks ago with much fanfare. Southwest Michigan First believes the event center could bring hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to Kalamazoo and the region in general. The project is still in its infancy and plans are still being developed.

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Portage schools: Rescheduling graduation would cause “harm”

Portage Public Schools is pushing back against a judge’s order to reschedule its graduation ceremony for Portage Northern High School students. Last week, a Kalamazoo County Circuit Court judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the district from holding the graduation ceremony on its scheduled date of May 26. That date is the same as the Jewish holiday of Shavuоt. Senior Minaleah Koffron filed suit against the district, saying that scheduling graduation on the same day as the holiday is a violation of her civil rights. She said her family has made efforts to alert the district to Jewish holidays repeatedly over the years without success.

PPS is challenging the judge’s order. The district filed a formal motion on Friday, saying that “rescheduling the graduation at this late date will cause significant harm to the public.” The district argues that other students may not be able to attend graduation if they reschedule and that other dates could conflict with district sporting events. Since the lawsuit was filed in federal court, it is now out of the circuit court judge’s hands. A hearing is scheduled tomorrow in front of a federal judge. [Fox 17]

WMU to incorporate diversity into all curriculums

Western Michigan University is taking steps to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into all its undergraduate and graduate curriculums. That was one of the recommendations of a February report by the school’s Racial Justice Advisory Committee. The committee was formed in 2020 in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. One of its key tasks was to identify issues of systemic racism and make recommendations on how to address them. The curriculum changes is just one of several recommendations.

Incorporating DEI into instruction will impact not just the topics covered, but also what sources of information are used. Classes will include instruction on how systemic inequality affects the subject matters being studied. Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Candy McCorkle told MLive that there will also be efforts to diversify information resources. “Because you do have Black physicists, you have women physicists, so there are ways you can integrate,” she said. The university will conduct a study every three years going forward to measure how the changes are affecting the culture of the campus. [MLive]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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The Frogs and Toads – Dormouse Theatre
6:00PM 4/3

Live a More Meaningful Life – Public Media Network
6:30PM 4/3

Rookie Detectives: Georgia O’Keeffe Loved the Desert – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
10:00AM 4/4

Kirk Newman Art School Residents – Part II – Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
12:00PM 4/4

Kirsten Tracy and David Small Present: Cat’s Very Good Day – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
6:30PM 4/4

John & Tamara With Luke Lenhart – The Sugar Bowl Bar and Grill
6:30PM 4/4

Spring Cleaning! Cleansing Vegan Recipes for a Healthful Year Ahead – Chef Channon
7:00PM 4/4

Spring Cleaning Boot Camp – Portage District Library
7:00PM 4/4

Our Planet Live in Concert – Miller Auditorium
7:00PM 4/5

Craft Music – Spring – Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
7:00PM 4/5

3 of a Kind – Hilton Garden Inn
7:00PM 4/5

The Kettle Belles – Louie’s Trophy House
9:00PM 4/5

See more upcoming events here.

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