Morgan Springer

Reporter/Producer

Morgan Springer is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio. Her series "Irredeemable," about Michigan juvenile lifers and the state's resentencing process, received a 2017 first place national PRNDI award and a regional Edward R. Murrow award. Her stories "Irredeemable, episode 3: Tortured choice," "Grandmother's letter from the Holocaust" and "Behind bars, transformation through poetry" have also recieved national awards. You can hear her stories on NPR, Michigan Radio, WHYY's The Pulse and National Native News.

Morgan has an undergraduate degree in International Studies from Earlham College. After graduating, she did a stint as the constituent services coordinator for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office before leaving to work at a garden center. In 2014, she went to the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies to study radio and documentary film, bringing her briefly back to her home state of Maine.

Ways to Connect

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

State officials will begin using drones to find water contamination. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will use drones to look for PFAS in Lake Margrethe near Grayling this week.

Elevated levels of PFAS were found at Camp Grayling on Lake Margrethe in 2017. PFAS compounds come from fire fighting foam among other things. They can cause cancer and reproductive problems. 

Morgan Springer

It could be a competitive race for Michigan’s 104th house seat this coming election. The district covers Grand Traverse County. Republicans have held this seat firmly for at least 20 years.

A northern Michigan lawmaker says he will not participate in any debates or forums before the election. Larry Inman (R-Traverse City) withdrew from a League of Women Voters forum scheduled for October 8.

In an email, Inman’s campaign manager Ashleigh Ackerman said they’re disappointed they couldn’t make it work out, but the Grand Traverse County representative doesn't have the time in his schedule. 

"Our campaign offered to do a written questionnaire, which would be easily available to those that would not be able to attend a forum," she said.

Emmet County

Emmet County Commissioner Betsy White lost by one vote in the Republican primary. GOP nominee Izzy Lyman got 223 votes to White's 222.

After she lost the primary, White says her first reaction was to just let it rest, but then she thought, 'my work is not done.' She's been a commissioner since 2016.

State of Michigan

People in Blair Township are now dealing with PFAs contamination. On Friday, twelve households started getting bottled water at the township hall. That’s after contamination was found in wells this week. 

PFAs are found in things like fire-fighting foam and are linked to cancer.

One of Michigan’s top Republican lawmakers has been fined for bringing an unregistered gun to the airport. Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) was caught with the gun at the Pellston Regional Airport in July. 

On August 21, the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office charged Chatfield with a civil infraction. The following day, Chatfield paid a $250 fine. He could not be reached for comment but has said on Facebook that bringing the gun to the airport was an accident. He called it an “inexcusable mistake.”

Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County settled with the family of Craig Carlson – who was killed more than 10 years ago.

Munson Healthcare

Nurses have filed charges against one of northern Michigan’s largest hospitals. The Michigan Nurses Association says Munson Medical Center in Traverse City is not operating in “good faith” during contract negotiations.

 

Last year, around a thousand nurses at Munson Medical Center unionized and have been working toward a new contract. James Walker is a Munson nurse and he says they unionized for a number of reasons.

Morgan Springer

Lake whitefish are the most important commercial fish species in Michigan. But in the last decade, state biologists say fishers are harvesting about a third of what they used to get. 

A Traverse City doctor has been charged with sexually assaulting two female patients.

Attorney General Bill Schuette charged Dr. Jonathan Robertson after he allegedly traded narcotics for sexual favors with at least one woman. He could get up to 15 years in prison.

Robertson could not immediately be reached for comment. He also has an office in Marquette.

A top-ranking Republican in Michigan’s House will be issued a civil infraction for bringing an unregistered gun to the airport in July.

Representative Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) was stopped in the security line at Pellston Regional Airport when he brought the gun there in July. He apologized, saying he made an "inexcusable mistake" when he accidentally brought the gun to the aiport. He also said he had thought his gun was registered.

UNOFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS: Updated 8/8/18 10:30 a.m:

Governor: 

Republican: Bill Schuette

Democrat: Gretchen Whitmer

Libertarian: Bill Gelineau

Morgan Springer

Residents will continue funding improvements in Traverse City schools. Voters passed a $107 million bond for Traverse City Area Public Schools. According to unofficial election results, 67 percent (15,679 residents) voted yes, while 33 percent (7,662) said no.

The money will go towards things like building reconstruction, safety and technology improvements and bus replacements. 

“I mean you have to educate your kids or you’re going to be nowhere," says Kathleen Ziege who lives in Interlochen and voted for the bond.

A top-ranking Republican in the Michigan House will not face criminal charges after bringing an unregistered gun to the airport. Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) says he accidentally brought the firearm to the Pellston Regional Airport in July.

“Mr. Chatfield entered the Pellston Regional Airport with a firearm and everybody realizes this is a dangerous situation," says Emmet County Prosecutor James Linderman.

But Linderman says he cannot charge Chatfield under current law. 

David Cassleman

Robin Lee Berry is a singer-songwriter and a mainstay in northern Michigan’s folk music scene. She came Up North in the 80s as a single mom.

Courtesy of the Tholen family

 

(Editor's note: We recommend you listen to the story before reading.)

It was December when Rick Tholen was killed. He was working at M&J Grocery in Grand Rapids.

He’d just graduated college and was in his first year of teaching high school English. And he’d decided to take some shifts over Christmas break for extra cash. He was getting married soon.

Aaron Selbig

The tart cherry harvest has begun in Michigan. Millions of pounds have already been harvested in central and southwest Michigan.

The Cherry Industry Administrative Board estimates the harvest will go up to 254 million pounds this year from 197 million pounds last year. That would be a 22 percent increase.

Antrim County

It’s been five months since a special prosecutor was asked to review a suicide at the Grand Traverse County jail. 

Alan Halloway hanged himself in the jail nearly a year ago. It took three hours for officers to find Halloway after he died; they were supposed to check on him every hour. 

An earlier investigation by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association found that two corrections officers did not follow jail policies and procedures; both officer no longer work there.

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City/Facebook

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City opened its doors Saturday. It's the first of its kind in northern Michigan.

Mason County

Voters in a few northern Michigan counties will be asked to approve more money for police officers. Wexford, Benzie and Mason counties all have public safety millages on their August ballots.

In Mason County, they’re asking residents to fund four new road patrol deputies. Residents would pay a millage of $30 for every $100,000 worth of property they own.

Aaron Selbig

There are polka bands across the country, particularly in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.  Where there are Polish-American communities in Michigan, there is usually polka music and dance.

 

Judy and Her Suchey Brothers are a polka band from the Alpena area. They've been playing together for 45 years.

Rafael Alicea and Jose Burgos

Update 7/30/18: Jose Burgos has been granted parole. He says his projected release date is the end of October.

"The joy I live with today cannot be described in words," says Jose. "To know that within the next few months I'll get to spend the holidays with my family, [that's] an amazing feeling." 

Jose Burgos says he always felt like dying in prison was probably one of the loneliest ways to die. And  – for nearly 27 years  – that's what he was told would happen to him.

Even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all juvenile lifer sentences  –  including Jose’s  – had to be reviewed, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy still recommended life without parole. That's where things stood when we initially did a story about Jose last October.

Grand Traverse County

Nate Alger is the new Grand Traverse County administrator. On Wednesday, the county board of commissioners unanimously approved Alger’s contract. Alger is expected to sign the contract with a starting salary of $124,000 and a start date of July 1.

 

Alger takes over a county that is dealing with instability as it tackles pension debt, suicides in the jail and employee dissatisfaction. Alger says stagnant pay and reduced benefits have caused some animosity with employees in the past, but he plans to work on that.

David Cassleman

Traverse City school officials have released to the public an investigation into the district’s superintendent.

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