News

Your connection to northern Michigan news.

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

Lawmakers are moving fast to ramp up prison time for female genital mutilation.

Removing or altering the genitalia of a minor female for non-medical purposes is already a federal crime with a five-year penalty. But a state Senate committee just passed bills to make it a state crime as well – with up to 15 years in prison as a penalty.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University is asking a court to decide whether it has to release police and arrest records related to a highly publicized investigation. The records are related to the criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault that may involve members of the Spartan football team.

The sports network ESPN filed a request for the records under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. But the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office says releasing the records could interfere with the criminal investigation.

Unequal park funding smacks of favoritism, critics say

May 3, 2017
Grand Traverse Ski Club

Three years ago, voters in Traverse City were asked if they wanted to spend more money on parks. They said “yes,” and a special fund was set up for that purpose. The parks funding comes from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund – a savings account of oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Quiet Area south of Traverse City.

Tyler Bevier, BATA

Residents of Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties voted Tuesday for expanded bus service. Voters approved a millage increase for the Bay Area Transportation Authority that will give them an extra $1 million next year. BATA says it will use the money to buy new buses and expand routes.

Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Max Anderson says the vote shows that the community values the BATA service.

Grand Traverse County

Three volunteer members of Grand Traverse County's Pension Advisory Board submitted their resignations Monday.

The county has a pension debt of more than $50 million. The advisory board is working to identify ways to reduce it and present those findings to county commissioners.

In their letter of resignation the citizen members – Christopher Radu, Robert Zimmerman and Michael Gillman – say, "our recommendations have been solicited, but appear to be ignored."  

Morgan Springer

Low-performing schools throughout Michigan have to turn in transformation plans to the state that show how they will improve. They are due Monday. Forty-five schools were identified by the state's School Reform Office in January. Betsie Valley Elementary in Thompsonville is one of two schools in northern Michigan on the list of schools. The other school is Bear Lake High School in Manistee County.

BJ Leiderman composes themes for NPR shows like 'Morning Edition' and 'Science Friday.' This May, he's coming out with his debut album, 'BJ!'
Mark Edward Atkinson

Over the years, BJ Leiderman has composed the theme music for lots of NPR shows like Morning Edition, Marketplace, Science Friday, and more.

But in early May, he’ll release his first album. And it’s a lot different from his theme jingles. While listeners might recognize him from his theme music, Leiderman says his passion is performing in a band.

 


Dana Ferguson and Dwight Brady

Two more Democrats have jumped into the race for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan. Both are from the Upper Peninsula.

More and more people in northern Michigan are collecting disability checks. 

In some northern Michigan counties, nearly 20 percent of working-age adults are enrolled in disability insurance through Social Security. That’s according to a report published by Bridge Magazine this month. 

Nationwide, the average is about five percent. 

“We have in northern Michigan disability rates that are mainly seen in the deep South and in Appalachia,” says freelance writer Chad Selweski, who reported the piece for Bridge Magazine.

 


David Cassleman

Northern Michigan’s congressman faced a raucous crowd at a town hall meeting in Gaylord Thursday night.

There was lots of booing and some cheering for Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) at the event. Constituents asked him about Russian meddling in the election, health care, and the Great Lakes, among other issues.

 


Tyehimba Jess was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for poetry with his collection, 'Olio.' In it, he tells the stories of early African American performers.
Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is an African American poet from Detroit. He recently won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry called, Olio. The poems are inspired by blackface minstrel shows.  

Aaron Selbig

A retired Marine Corps officer has formally announced he is running as a Democrat for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. Matt Morgan of Traverse City, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2013, served two tours during the Iraq War.

Abdul El-Sayed for Michigan

A Democrat running for governor in Michigan is touting his experience leading the city of Detroit’s health department in the aftermath of the city’s bankruptcy. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is campaigning in northern Michigan this week.

“We rebuilt a department,” El-Sayed said in an interview with IPR News Radio. “It is now a department that has five different campuses doing great work for the people of Detroit.”

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

State lawmakers return to Lansing this week and to a budget standoff. The House and Senate left Lansing at the end of March without an agreement on how to help an area in metro Detroit where a giant sinkhole opened up last December.

Tyler Bevier with the Bay Area Transportation Authority

The Bay Area Transportation Authority is asking for more money to expand its bus system in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. BATA has put a millage proposal on the ballot May 2. 

If it passes, the millage rate would go up from .3447 to .5 mill for five years. BATA officials say the tax would raise an additional $1.1 million next year. People who own a home worth $200,000 would pay $16 more per year than they do now.

Northern Michigan has a lot of option in terms of summer music festivals and concerts. On July 9, you can listen to a concert while you sit on the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Glen Arbor Art Association

The 2017 Interlochen Arts Festival lineup was announced today, and it features the likes of ZZ Top, Michael McDonald, Trace Adkins, Diana Ross, OK Go, and more.

But in addition to Interlochen, northern Michigan is home to a wide variety of summer concerts and festivals.


Some Republicans in Michigan are pushing for restrictions to the state’s power to write regulations. State agencies, like the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, write many rules and regulations that don't need legislative approval. 

In the last few years, some Michigan lawmakers have criticized this process. They say that state departments are writing rules that are too strict.

Legislation introduced by one of northern Michigan’s state representatives, Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), would add a new hurdle for state agencies to clear.    

“This would restrict them from enacting administrative rules that would be stricter than federal rules,” Cole says, “without clear and convincing evidence, and or going through the legislative process.”

Cole spoke with IPR News Radio about the legislation:

 


Xavier Verna, the executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, hopes to bring a vibrant arts and culture scene back to Manistee.
Dan Wanschura

If you lived in Manistee in the early 1900s, The Ramsdell Theatre was the place to be.

Women would put on elegant ballroom gowns, and men would get dressed up in fancy tuxedos for a night of arts and culture.

“That was like every weekend,” says Xavier Verna, the new executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts. “It was really fun and exciting to have a place that you just always had something to do.”

Max Pixel

Some police officers in northern Michigan wear body cameras; others do not. Two recent incidents in northern Michigan show why cameras can be useful. One incident was in Antrim County. The other in the City of Manistee.

David Cassleman

Advocates for a new Soo Lock have been trying to get Congress to fund the estimated $600 million project for decades. Congress first authorized the construction of the lock in the 1980s but has not come up with the money to pay for it. 

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

A campaign committee controlled by Republican leaders is facing fines and questions over how it lost track of many thousands of dollars during the last election.

Northern Michigan’s congressman says he will hold town hall events in the district next month.

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) talked about his plans during a town hall held over the telephone Thursday night.

 He said locations will probably be announced in the next ten days or so.

Robin Crocker has spent the last three months as the artist in residence at the Parsons Center in Lake Ann. She made a permanent exhibit celebrating the life of artist and educator Jean Parsons.
Tommy Valdez

Most people who knew Jean Parsons, will tell you— she was tough and expected a lot from her students.

Jean never married, and didn’t have any children. So, she spent her days pouring into her art and investing in her students. 

Now, one of her students has created remembrance of her in the Benzie County village of Lake Ann.


Manistee Police Department

A Manistee Police officer shot and killed a man Tuesday night. Police say 73-year-old Lee Milks threatened the officer with an assault rifle before he was shot multiple times.

Manistee Police are not identifying the officer who shot Milks. Chief David Bachman says the officer was conducting “blight enforcement” on 2nd Street, when he saw an old bus parked in Milks’ backyard.

“He made contact with the owner of the bus and asked to take a look at it," says Bachman. "The guy said ‘sure’ and went back in his house and came back out with a rifle.”

Morgan Springer

Research shows the quality of a toddler's education is incredibly important. It often determines a child’s success in the future. However, state and federal dollars typically don’t kick in until a child gets to preschool. Before that – from birth to three years old – families are often on their own.

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