Connect: September 2012

Connect is a magazine style show that highlights various events and government related items throughout Kalamazoo County. The Government Production Services Unit produces a new episode every month, with updates. New episodes air on Public Media Network’s Channel 98.

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This Month on Connect:

We take a tour of the still being constructed County Jail, the bronze memorial for Officer Zapata killed in the line of duty, an invasive species of plant that is taking over wetlands and roadsides, and a Portage administrator who plays the banjo in his free time.

Jail ExpansionJail Expansion
Duration – 6:30

It’s an overcrowding issue that’s led to the early release of inmates and the shipping of prisoners around the state. Now that issues being resolved. The expansion of the 41-year-old Kalamazoo County Jail comes after years of planning and failed millages. Ground was broken in November for the 23-million-dollar addition which adds 250 beds, along with a new laundry, kitchen, medical wing, and receiving and booking area. It’s all designed to serve the community for a long time into the future. Connect recently took a tour with Sheriff Rick Fuller.

Zapata MemorialZapata Memorial
Duration – 4:35

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Officer Eric Zapata died in April 2011 in the line of duty. Responding to a call about another officer under fire the 10-year veteran was himself fatally wounded by gunshot. Earlier this year, several organizations banded together to create a memorial to Officer Zapata, the first officer killed in the 140-plus-year history of the Kalamazoo police department.

War on WeedsWar on Weeds
Duration – 5:12

We’ve probably all seen the tall spikey stalks with reddish-purple flowers, especially this time of year when Purple Loosestrife is in bloom. It thrives in wetlands and along roadsides. And it’s causing problems.

Betcha Didn't Know… Chris BarnesBetcha Didn’t Know… Chris Barnes
Duration – 6:38

His day job is director of a Portage city department. But once that’s done, he’s able to free his inner musician — and plink, plunk and pick his 5-string banjo.