Max Johnston

Government and education reporter

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a general assignment reporter. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio and WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing.

Aaron Selbig / Interlochen Public Radio

Grand Traverse County is declaring a state of emergency due to the coronavirus. Chairman of the county board of commissioners Rob Hentschel said in a letter that the declaration will make state and federal funds available to buy much needed equipment for hospitals and medical providers. 

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Munson Healthcare, McLaren Northern Michigan and the Grand Traverse County Health Department are asking the public to donate medical supplies and protective gear.

They are asking for the following items in new and original packaging:

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Across the state millions of Michiganders are staying at home after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a "stay at home" order for at least the next three weeks. But what if you don’t have a home? The order makes no mention of people experiencing homelessness.

Interlochen Center for the Arts graphic

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is telling recent visitors to Bennethum's Northern Inn in Gaylord that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

A patient who has since tested positive for the disease spent time there on two recent occasions.

In a press release, the department said anyone who attended performances of the band Neshama at Bennethum's may have had "significant exposure" to COVID-19. Neshama peformed once on March 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. and again on March 14 from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

CDC

This story was updated at 7:47 p.m. on 03/22/20:

 

Northern Michigan reported 10 more presumed cases of COVID-19 over the weekend.

 

Charlevoix: 2
Clare: 1
Emmet: 1
Grand Traverse: 1
Leelanau: 1
Wexford: 1
Otsego: 2
Roscommon: 1

 

Wexford and Clare counties announced cases of COVID-19 Friday, while officials in Emmet and Charlevoix counties said they have presumptive positive tests Saturday. Grand Traverse and Roscommon announced cases on Sunday.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan rises nearly every day. As the pandemic worsens, putting food on the table is getting harder for some people in rural communities.

Now school districts are rushing to feed students that relied on school lunches, and food pantries in northern Michigan are trying to feed the rest.

Conner Desilets / Interlochen Public Radio

In a brief filed Tuesday, federal prosecutors say they have new evidence for a possible retrial of State Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg). At his original trial last year, Inman was found not guilty of lying to the F.B.I., but the jury couldn't reach a verdict on two other corruption charges.

Wikimedia Commons

Northern Michigan school districts are trying to help families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, following an order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday to close Michigan's public schools. 

On top of closures, the following districts have sent messages to students and parents regarding food availability and alternatives to in-person instruction.

Traverse City Area Public Schools:

Morgan Springer

Traverse City Area Public Schools are open Friday, but the district plans to close schools starting Monday, March 16 after an order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

"The district will be communicating further with families and staff regarding TCAPS' plan for the school closures later today, Friday, March 13, 2020. In the meantime, learning will continue for the day," Interim Superintendent Jim Pavelka said in an email to parents.

Nancy Deneen

Interlochen Center for the Arts (ICA) is sending students home as schools and universities across Michigan take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

No ICA students or staff currently have the disease, but the move is meant to prevent its possible spread. ICA President Trey Devey broke the news to students at a meeting Thursday, which was livestreamed on the academy's website.

Aaron Selbig

A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges that inmates of the Grand Traverse County Jail can't get prescribed medications from health care officials.

Greg Hall filed the suit with his mother Cheryl Hall and brother-in-law Brad Lafuze, both of whom have been incarcerated at the Grand Traverse County Jail.

Max Johnston

Voters across the state went to the polls Tuesday for the Michigan Primary. Overall voting in Grand Traverse County seemed to go smoothly as there weren’t any lines at several polling places or the city clerk’s office. 

“That was pretty simple, we didn't even have a line today," Traverse City voter Sunny Miller said. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing."

Dan Wanschura

The Michigan Primary is Tuesday, March 10, and voters across the state will choose their presidential candidate and vote on ballot proposals.

Michigan has a "closed" primary, meaning you can only vote for a democratic presidential candidate or a republican one, not both.

The democratic presidential candidates are: former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii.) The republican candidates are U.S. President Donald Trump, and businessman William Weld.

Kaye LaFond

This week on Points North, democrats worry the controversial Line 5 pipeline is dividing labor,  environmental and tribal groups ahead of the Michigan primary.

Plus, hear how environmental policies could impact the presidential race in Michigan. 


Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Michigan Democrats can usually rely on at least three groups for support: environmentalists, tribal nations and labor unions.

But there’s one issue they don’t all agree on — the future of Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil pipeline. Some Democrats worry about uniting those groups ahead of the Michigan primary.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in Traverse City Friday to support Democratic State House candidate Dan O'Neil. She spoke to donors at a fundraiser at the Park Place Hotel. 

Max Johnston

The 86th District Court in Traverse City has changed their policy on third party bond payments. It comes after a letter sent Tuesday from The American Civil Liberties Union that accused the court of using an unconstitutional bail policy.

In a letter to the court and the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Office, the ACLU says the court used bail payments from the family and friends of defendants to cover various court costs on their cases, which they say is unconstitutional.

Max Johnston

The firm looking for the new superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools is in the district to hear from parents this week. Representatives from Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYAA) held an open forum Tuesday to get input from parents on the search.

Trust, financial accumen and communication skills were several traits that parents said they wanted to see in the new superintendent.

Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Kalkaska County Commissioners passed a resolution to become a "second amendment sanctuary" Thursday. 

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, we examine the tart cherry tariff fallout and what it means for the industry. 

Plus, a Northport man made his childhoom dream a reality after a traumatic brain industry in his late 30s. 

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Michigan’s tart cherry industry is dying out to the tune of $5 million dollars of lost impact to the state since 2010, according to a Michigan State University study.

After another trade loss in January, cherry farmers are considering desperate measures.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Nick Nissley took over as the 11th President of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City on Jan. 1. 

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources could increase the number of elk tags given to hunters next year.

It would be the first increase in four years. 

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced Tuesday that they are revoking tariffs on Turkish dried tart cherry producers.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Two members of the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education are safe from a recall election — for now. Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer ruled Monday that a recall petition against them is invalid.

According to state law, officeholders can't be recalled during the first year of their term. The petition against Anderson and Forton was filed last November, nearly two months before they hit their one-year mark in office.

Both were relieved after court let out.

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