5/9/23: Toxic gas is a problem

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

High 70°/Low 46° Sunny

A long-awaited report confirms what many already believed: toxic gases on the Northside are a problem. Also: KPS interviewed its top three superintendent candidates last night. And violence near campus is a growing issue.

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Report: Northside pollution is hazardous

A long-awaited report on toxic chemical emissions in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood was finally released Monday. The report from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) confirms what many believed to be true: emissions of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) have been consistently high enough to cause health problems. The report showed that over the past three years, levels of the toxic gas were higher than the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined to be safe. Officials said that a lifetime of breathing in those levels of H2S could lead to nose and eye irritation, and headaches. However, they also determined that the levels detected were unlikely to cause a significant increase in asthma.

H2S is a colorless gas that comes with a foul odor. The MDHHS traced the source of the gas to two locations on Kalamazoo’s north side: the city’s wastewater treatment plant and a factory belonging to Graphic Packaging International (GPI). GPI has been repeatedly cited for high emissions of the gas over recent years. The MDHHS is recommending both the city and GPI continue monitoring chemical levels around their facilities. They also said that anyone who is sensitive to the chemical or asthmatic should avoid outdoor activities on days when the smell is bad. MDHHS will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the findings and answer questions. That will be at 5:30pm at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Another meeting will be held on May 24.

Final interviews for KPS superintendent

The final three candidates for Kalamazoo Public Schools’s superintendent position made their final pitches to the Board of Education last night. Ty Weeks, Stephanie Jones, and Darrin Slade each had an hour to speak with board members in person. They each detailed how much a move to KPS would mean to them.

“The opportunity to come to the Kalamazoo Public Schools is something that, for lack of a better term, fulfills me as a professional,” said Dr. Weeks.

“You want to be in the place that truly values education, a place that truly believes in their children, and a community that backs that,” said Dr. Jones.

“I just felt a connection … sometimes things just click, and once I heard that, I said ‘man, this is where I’m meant to be.’ I rode around in the community and I felt at home,” said Dr. Slade.

The trio will tour the district tomorrow and board members will make a final choice during a special meeting on Thursday. Part of the decision-making process will involve feedback from the community. People will have until noon to submit their opinions online. “Please help us. It is critical that we see that feedback,” said board member Patti Sholler-Barber.

More News You Need To Know

A closed-door meeting about violence near WMU

A strip mall near Western Michigan University has become a “hot spot” for illegal activity, including gun violence and homicide. Area leaders met in private on Monday to try to come up with solutions. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) said the Campus Pointe mall on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Howard Street has been a major source of complaints over the past few years. That came to a head in November, when 21-year-old Bryce Salter was shot and killed in the parking lot after a dispute.

Monday’s meeting was originally billed as open to the public. KDPS Chief Dave Boysen said attendance was restricted in order to give a small group of leaders a chance to discuss solutions. The big problem, he said, is the sheer number of people gathering in the parking lot late at night. “We’ll see hundreds and hundreds of cars up there and people up at 2, 3, 4 in the morning,” he said. That means they need to limit access to the lot without impeding legitimate business traffic. Doing so will involve local business owners as well as property owners. A follow-up meeting is being scheduled to discuss details with them. [MLive]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Richland-Gull Lake-Augusta Business Townhall – Southwest Michigan First
8:30AM 5/9

Jazz with Barry Ross, Violin, Terry Lower, Jazz Piano – Martell’s
5:30PM 5/9

GLAMA Slow Jam – Kalamazoo Public Library, Central
5:30PM 5/9

Open Mic with THE DOC – Old Dog Tavern
5/9 6:00 PM

Madagascar the Musical – Miller Auditorium
6:30PM 5/9

Trivia night – Shakespeare’s Pub
7:00PM 5/9

Birding the Kleinstuck Preserve – Kalamazoo Nature Center
8:00AM 5/10

Artist Happy Hour – Gigging in the 21st Century with the Edison Jazz Fest – The Clover Room
5:30PM 5/10

The Ice Hours: An Evening with Author Marion Starling Boyer – Richland Community Library
6:00PM 5/10

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 5/10

Words and Wine – Distant Whistle Brewhouse
6:00PM 5/10

Field Trip at Kleinstuck Preserve – Audubon Society of Kalamazoo
6:30PM 5/10

3 of a Kind – Hilton Garden Inn
7:00PM 5/10

Dooley and friends – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 5/10

Karaoke – Shakespeare’s Pub
8:30PM 5/10

59th International Congress on Medieval Studies – WMU

Creative Wilderness w/Conrad Kaufman – Kalamazoo Nature Center
1:00PM 5/11

Cocktails with Clarence – Southwest Michigan First
4:30PM 5/11

Dr. James Jackson Presents: Clearing the Fog, Thriving w Long COVID – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
6:30PM 5/11

RCL Film Club: The Farewell – Richland Community Library
7:00PM 5/11

Jerome Ford and Darcy Wilkin – The Clover Room
7:30PM 5/11

Comedy Open Mic – Valhalla Kalamazoo
9:00PM 5/11

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