5/19/23: ‘Shut it down’

Friday, May 19, 2023

High 68°/Low 44° Rain

Kalamazoo residents had some harsh words for area leaders after a state report detailed air pollution on the Northside. Also: An expert on the subject is criticizing that same report and its methodology. And a local pizzeria is shutting down after 42 years.

More News You Need To Know

‘Shut it down’

Kalamazoo residents had harsh things to say to state, city, and corporate officials during a public meeting last night. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) held a town hall to fill in details and answer questions about a report it released last week. That report detailed ongoing releases of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas by two facilities in the city’s Northside neighborhood, as well as the harmful health effects of the chemical.

Residents want solutions, though that wasn’t the purpose of the meeting. That didn’t stop them from voicing their frustrations, especially after a representative of Graphic Packaging International spoke. “I’m here for the same reason you are,” said mill manager Tom Olstad. “I want to learn about this study.” Other attendees responded with shouts of “shame” and “shut it down,” referring to the factory that is a significant source of hydrogen sulfide.

“I don’t really understand why the source isn’t being shut down immediately,” said resident Emma Munson-Blatt. The gas emissions have been a persistent problem for decades at this point. Neighborhood residents have had to put up with noxious odors regularly, and they say the exposure has led to respiratory illnesses. “The community is right to be frustrated and angry about this pollution,” said University of Michigan environmental health sciences professor Justin Colacino. “The goal needs to be the removal of these chemicals from the air.” [MLive]

Doctor criticizes state report on Northside pollution

The report released last week by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said air pollution in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood is harmful, but not that harmful. The report detailed that rates of asthma-related hospital visits was higher around two Northside facilities, but not significantly higher. That contradicts earlier data, according to Dr. David Ansell, who studied the issue three years ago. Ansell is an epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush Medical College. He said he found significant levels of asthma-related hospitalizations in the polluted area, and he’s criticizing the how the state conducted its investigation.

State investigators measured health effects based on zip code, especially the zip codes containing the sources of air pollution. But Ansell said that doesn’t give very good data. “A zip code is an imprecise, geographical area,” he told WMUK. “And they probably needed to use more Census tracts, particularly around the plant.” That would help them zero in on those people most impacted by the pollution. State officials said they’re still researching the issue. “We are conducting a follow-up analysis to further understand patterns in asthma events in this area, and will evaluate the use of Census tracts,” said MDHHS epidemiologist Betsy Wasilevich. [WMUK]

County program to help senior veterans

A county millage will help provide aging veterans with vital health support. The county’s Area Agency on Aging announced yesterday that it is partnering with the county’s Veteran Service Office (VSO) to provide hearing, vision, and dental services to senior veterans who don’t have other health care options. The program is open to veterans age 60 and older who are uninsured or under-insured. They also must be below 300% of the federal poverty level and have not been dishonorably discharged.

Despite having served, many veterans don’t have access to Veterans Administration services. “Even our veterans who are eligible for VA health care services, if they don’t have a service-connected disability related strictly to their teeth or a part of the VA homeless program, they are not eligible for dental care regardless of their status or eligibility for VA healthcare,” VSO Supervisor Lauren King told Fox 17. The program aims to serve 160 veterans over the next two years. [Fox 17]

Bruno’s Pizza sold and closing

The owners of Bruno’s Pizza in Kalamazoo have decided 42 years is enough. The restaurant has found a buyer and its future is up in the air. What we do know is that dine-in service will wind down May 27, and the restaurant will close completely June 30.

Juanita Erdos bought the pizza restaurant with her late husband in 1981. She’s run it with her son, Eugene Jr., since her husband passed away in 2004. “I’ve been here for 42 years, but I’m tired,” Erdos told MLive. She won’t say who has offered to buy the business because the sale is still in its early stages. She also doesn’t know what the buyer will do with it – whether they’ll keep it as a restaurant or turn it into something else entirely. [MLive]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

Brought to you by

Doja logo

Kalamazoo Bike Week – Various

Portage Planting Days – Portage District Library
9AM 5/19

Hip Hop with Speak It Forward – Kalamazoo Public Library, Alma Powell
3:30PM 5/19

Bronson Park Outdoor Art Show Opening Celebration – Kalamazoo Public Schools
4:00PM 5/19

N. Burdick Street Block Party – 300 Block of Burdick St.
4:00PM 5/19

5:01 Ditch Friday – JungleBird
5:00PM 5/19

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 5/19

Larry Fleet Live with special guest Drew Parker – Kalamazoo State Theatre
7:00PM 5/19

The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30PM 5/19-20; 2PM 5/21

Next To Normal – Kalamazoo College, Balch Playhouse
7:30PM 5/19-20, 2PM 5/21

Hot and Delicious Improv Show – Dormouse Theatre
7:30PM 5/19

Bach Prize Award Night – Stulberg International
7:30PM 5/19

Desmond Jones & Jordan Hamilton w/ Pajaro Negro – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/19

Out of Favor Boys – Old Dog Tavern
8:00PM 5/19

Little Worlds: Spring Concert of Dance – Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers
8:00PM 5/19-20, 2PM 5/21

Foreigner wsg. Cage Willis – Wings Event Center
8:00PM 5/19

Kalamazoo Bike Week: Mayor’s Ride – Bicentennial Park
9:00AM 5/20

77th Kalamazoo Antique Toy Show – Kalamazoo County Parks and Expo Center
9:00AM 5/20

Kalamazoo River Guardians – Kalamazoo Nature Center
9:00AM 5/20

RCL Spring Book Sale – Richland Community Library
10:00AM 5/20

Wild Ones Community Native Plant Sale – PFC Market
10:00AM 5/20

Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo – Kalamazoo County Expo Center
10:00AM 5/20

Music in the Arb at KNC – Kalamazoo Nature Center
10:30AM 5/20

Asylum Lake Preserve Spring Celebration – Asylum Lake Preservation Association
12:00PM 5/20

What Do We Owe Our Local Environment? – The Kalamazoo Lyceum
2:00PM 5/20

Michigan Salvage: The Fiction of Bonnie Jo Campbell – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
2:00PM 5/20

Concert For Critters – Richland Community Hall
5:00PM 5/20

Night For The Nations – Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan
6:00PM 5/20

Live Music with Griff Paws, Elliot Venis & Dom Lee – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 5/20

Darcy Wilkin Whatzit Hour feat. Ron Casebeer – Dormouse Theatre
7:30PM 5/20

Masterworks Season Finale – Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
7:30PM 5/20

Celebrating Shania! with special guest Lexi Adams – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/20

Lanterns on the Lake – Ramona Park
8:00PM 5/20

Kat and the Bluetones – The Sugar Bowl Bar and Grill
8:00PM 5/20

Karaoke – Louie’s Trophy House
9:00PM 5/20

Drag Brunch Kalamazoo – Crafted Copper
12:00PM 5/21

Vintage Music Market – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
12:00PM 5/21

Community Concert: Zion Lion Reggae Band – Portage District Library
2:00PM 5/21

Gold Company “Songbirds” Concert – Ladies’ Library Association of Kalamazoo
2:00PM 5/21

Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi – Connecting Chords Music Festival
3:00PM 5/21

The Gilmore: Maria João Pires & Partitura Pianists – K College, Stetson Chapel
4:00PM 5/21

“There’s No Place Like Home” – Kalamazoo Ringers
4:00PM 5/21

Oshtemo Cruise In and Auto Show – 8126 W Main St
4:00PM 5/21

Sunday Professional Blues Jam – Old Dog Tavern
6:00PM 5/21

Kalamazoo Stop: Rocky Badd & Friends Live “Badd Publicity Tour” – Dormouse Theatre
7:00PM 5/21

See more upcoming events

Do you have an event you think we should list? Submit it

Thank you to the community institutions that support our work:

Do you find value in our locally owned and independent news? Keep it coming with a donation.


Support NowKalamazoo for free: Forward this email to others who value community news coverage. Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up online.

Newsletter Signup

Sign up to get our daily news and events roundup in your email every weekday morning.