5/5/23: Toxic gas on the Northside

Friday, May 5, 2023

High 73°/Low 49° Sunny

New sensor data shows high levels of toxic gas around a Northside factory. Also: A Kalamazoo nonprofit has big plans for a very old building. And KPS officially renames two schools.

News You Need To Know

Factory gas emissions 3x higher than federal limit

The concentrations of toxic gases around the Graphic Packaging International plant in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood were more than three times higher than the federal limit over the past four days. That’s according to live sensor data now being published online. The company is required by the state to publish data on emissions of hydrogen sulfide around its factory as part of an enforcement action related to previous air quality violations. Hydrogen sulfide is toxic gas that smells like rotten eggs and can cause health problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says long-term exposure to concentrations of 1.4 parts per billion or more is harmful. Sensors say the concentrations around the factory have been as high as 4 parts per billion.

Northside residents have complained for years of foul odors lingering around the factory. Some say they’ve experienced health problems such as asthma because of the smell. GPI installed monitors around its factory in 2020 and 2021, but began publicly posting the data at the beginning of the month. When contacted by MLive, a company representative said they can’t comment on the sensor data. “Without additional context on the monitors you are referring to, we are unable to provide an informed response on those specific levels,” they said. Meanwhile, a long awaited state report on the health effects of the gas emissions is still in progress more than a year after it was originally supposed to be published. You can view the live sensor data on GPI’s website. [MLive]

A hub for arts and innovation

A very old church in downtown Kalamazoo is in the process of being reborn as a performing arts center and hub for innovation. The Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition yesterday launched an $11 million fundraising campaign to preserve and renovate the old building. The First Baptist Church on West Michigan Avenue still hosts services each week, but most of it has become space for nonprofit groups and fledgling businesses since the church gifted the building to KNAC in 2021. Current occupants include cheesecake maker Huey D’s Goodies and startup consultancy Room 35. NowKalamazoo is also a tenant.

Though it’s already in use, the building still needs a lot of work. The money the group hopes to raise would allow it to install an elevator and improve safety features. It would also provide funds for a state-of-the-art performance space and help preserve a building that has stood in downtown Kalamazoo since 1855. “We can envision this single building drawing thousands of Southwest Michigan residents to the heart of downtown Kalamazoo to dine, shop, and enjoy world-class musical or artistic performances,” said Jeff Ross, who is co-chair of the campaign committee. You can find out more and donate on KNAC’s website. [MLive]

KPS renames two schools

The Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education renamed two of the district’s schools during its Thursday night meeting. The name changes aren’t drastic, but they do reflect the changing nature of the schools. The board agreed to officially change Woodward School of Technology and Research to just Woodward School, which was its name for most of its history.

The other school to get a name refresh is the Edison Environmental Science Academy. Its new name will be just Edison Academy, a name change the school’s community asked for in 2017. A permanent building for the school is under construction and students are currently attending classes at a district-owned building on South Westnedge Avenue. Edison Academy has been operating without magnet school funding since 2012, so the name change reflects its changed status. [WWMT]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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62nd Annual Kalamazoo Rock, Gem & Mineral Show – Kalamazoo Expo Center
4pm 5/5, 10am 5/6-7

5th Anniversary Celebration – Kalamazoo County ID – El Concilio Kzoo
4:00PM 5/5

Art Hop – Downtown Kalamazoo
5:00PM 5/5

5:01 Ditch Friday on the patio with DJ MEL-V – JungleBird
5:00PM 5/5

Slipping – Open House Theatre Company
6pm 5/5-6, 2pm 5/7

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

Pitch Night – Startup Zoo
6:00PM 5/5

Rose Funeral – Papa Pete’s
6:30PM 5/5

The History of the Milky Way – Kalamazoo Astronomical Society
7:00PM 5/5

Silent Disco – Women’s Art & Innovation Center
7:00PM 5/5

Live Music with Bear Tracks Music – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 5/5

The Beer Garden Sessions ft. The Dots – Presidential Brewing Co.
7:00PM 5/5

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

After Hop Concert: Kait Rose & The Thorns – Haymarket Plaza
7:30PM 5/5

The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 5/5-6, 5/12-13, 5/19-20; 2pm 5/7, 5/14, 5/21

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 5/5

Something Borrowed Something New – The Clover Room
8:00PM 5/5

Cinco De Mayo Celebration w/ Cuatro Norteño, Ballet Folklorico De Mi Tierra – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/5

Cold Leather Seats w/ The Founding – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:00PM 5/5

His Boy Elroy – The Dock At Bayview
8:00PM 5/5

Free Comic Book Day – Fanfare

Free Comic Book Day – Rocket Comics

Burn Boot Camp Portage Mustang Gallop 5k Run – Portage Central High School
8:00AM 5/6

DeNooyer Dust-Off Truck & Car Show – DeNooyer Ford
9:00AM 5/6

10th Annual Mothers’ Brunch – WMU, Bernhard Center
10:00AM 5/6

Spring Fling Market – Kalamazoo Speedway
10:00AM 5/6

Mother’s Day Pop Up – Birches Event Center
10:00AM 5/6

Farmer’s Market Opening and Brunch – Kalamazoo Farmers Market
10:30AM 5/6

Geology 101 class hosted by Western Michigan University’s Geology Club – Rockhound Rock Shop
11:00AM 5/6

Performance by Brian McClure – Rockhound Rock Shop
12:00PM 5/6

1st annual Greentop Cornhole Tourney – Green Top Tavern
12:00PM 5/6

Celebrating YOUth in Action – Great Lakes PeaceJam
1:00PM 5/6

Bring Your Own Game Saturdays – Valhalla Kalamazoo
1:00PM 5/6

Mind, Body & Spirits – Green Door Distilling Co.
2:00PM 5/6

Nutcracker Costume Carnival – Ballet Arts of Kalamazoo
2:00PM 5/6

Inaugural Kalamazoo Beer Fest – Homer Stryker Field
3:00PM 5/6

Faure Community Sing! – Celebris Ensemble
4:00PM 5/6

Kentucky Derby Watch Party – Crafted Copper
4:00PM 5/6

Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E 6th Annual Mother and Son Dance – Radisson Plaza Hotel
6:00PM 5/6

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 5/6

Ringo Deathstarr w/ Pleasure Venom and Tambourina – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/6

Keith Hall Trio w/ Carlo De Rosa and Matt Landon – HUB Tavern + Grill
8:00PM 5/6

Karaoke – Saturday Nights – Louie’s Trophy House
9:00PM 5/6

Duo One “The Arc of Hona” Folk Opera – The Clover Room
12:30PM 5/7

Mothers of Hope 25th Year Anniversary BRUNCH Fundraiser – Douglass Community Association
1:00PM 5/7

Remembering Mom Tea – Stuart Avenue Inn
2:00PM 5/7

Hiromi Ito Reading with Jeffrey Angles – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
4:00PM 5/7

Jaz Bolar and company – Rugger’s Up and Under
5:00PM 5/7

See more upcoming events here.

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