Local news produced by our reporters here at WMUK

Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

A group that says people with criminal records often face unreasonable barriers to employment has won a victory in the City of Kalamazoo. On Monday commissioners voted to change Kalamazoo's policy for businesses that contract with the city or get tax breaks or loans from it.

The new policy requires those businesses to refrain from asking about criminal background on an initial job application. A firm may reject an applicant based on a conviction only if it’s relevant to the job in question.

Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Not long after he moved to Kalamazoo 19 years ago, Frank Cody started hearing stories about the City of Parchment – the town that formed around a paper mill, the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company.

"Then I found out that there were a history of different paper companies in Kalamazoo that were founded at different times,” he says.

Intrigued, Frank wanted to know: what drew paper manufacturers to Kalamazoo?

Mark Mills with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources closes the gate to the temporary water control structure upstream of the Otsego Township Dam. The structure is there to help take pressure off of the dam while the cleanup takes place.
Rebecca Thiele

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has wanted to tear down dams along the Kalamazoo River since the ‘80s - to create better habitats for fish and other wildlife. But leftover PCB contamination behind the dams has kept that from happening. Now, due to an Environmental Protection Agency order, the Otsego Township Dam can finally be removed. That gives other dam owners hope that they can get rid of their crumbling dams too.

Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Unlawful parking is about to get more expensive in the City of Kalamazoo. The City Commission voted on Monday to raise fines for a host of violations – from common offenses like overstaying a meter, to bolder moves such as parking a car in an intersection.

Screenshot of video, courtesy Flowserve

Many Michigan manufacturers are facing a problem that they call a “skill gaps.” As more and more of their skilled employees retire, manufacturers need new workers to operate advanced technologies. And unfortunately, they say, very few new workers have the education or experience to fill in, leaving hundreds of jobs unfilled. But there’s hope. Kalamazoo Valley Community College is trying out a new program that’s connecting employers with young students to fill the pipeline again.