Max Johnston

Reporter/producer

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.

Taylor Wizner

This week on Points North, a private prison in Baldwin will hold immigrants convicted of crimes. Some nearby residents argue it will bring jobs to the area, while others want nothing to do with it.

Plus hear about a legal scholar turned writer whose stories brought her back to northern Michigan.

Rick Pluta

Prosecutors say State Rep. Larry Inman’s (R-Williamsburg) alleged bribery attempt is not protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Inman's legal team claims that campaign contributions are protected under the First Amendment, after the Citizens United decision in the U.S. Supreme Court from 2010.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Court-appointed attorneys defend people who can’t pay for a lawyer of their own, but the state didn’t give those attorneys a fair shot to defend their clients, according to the ACLU.

That means more convictions and harsher sentences that could have been avoided, says the ACLU. More state funding and training for those lawyers is meant to balance the scales.

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

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, we dive into how the state is trying to help underpaid and overworked court-appointed attorneys. Plus a former employee of the Traverse City State Hospital reflects on 30 years on the job.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, thousands of students are back in school. Hear how state efforts to improve reading and writing scores for third graders may be getting lost in translation.

Plus an interview with the new Superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools.

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Several beaches in northern Michigan are under advisories for E. coli contamination.

Beaches at Clinch Park, Traverse City State Park and Suttons Bay Marina are under level 2 advisories. That means beachgoers should avoid contact with the water above the waist.

The Traverse Senior Center Beach is under a level 3 advisory, meaning visitors should avoid all contact with the water.

Environmental Health Director for the Grand Traverse County Health Department Daniel Thorell says that more testing will be done Friday morning.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

In 2016, then Gov. Rick Snyder signed the controversial “Read by Grade Three” bill into law. It's meant to improve the reading and writing abilities of third graders in Michigan, but if their scores don’t rise students could be held back.

As the law starts to take effect, educators are frustrated with how it aims to get test scores up. 

Back to school

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Another cougar was spotted in the Upper Peninsula, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. A camera snapped a photo of the animal in Delta County on Aug. 17. 

This is the 40th confirmed sighting of a cougar in Michigan by the DNR since 2008.

Cody Norton, large carnivore specialist for the DNR, says they are seeing more cougars lately, but there's no evidence that there is a breeding population of cougars in the state.

Max Johnston

Munson Medical Center in Traverse City will get a $400,000 grant to expand Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction.

MAT involves the use of prescribed medication to curb opioid cravings and withdrawals. Many in the medical community say it’s a strong tool to combat the opioid epidemic.

The hospital will use the grant money to train staff in the Emergency Room to treat patients suffering from substance use disorder (SUD), says Terri Kelte, behavioral health director at Munson.

Kevin Donner

This week on Points North, tribes try to bring sturgeon back to Michigan’s waters. Plus one man realizes his dream of running a curling league. 

Sturgeon are a prehistoric fish that can live up to 100 years old, but overfishing and habitat destruction has decimated their population across the state.

Baby sturgeon were released last weekend as part of a joint effort between the state, tribes and conservation groups to restore populations of this ancient fish. 

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

The invasive aquatic plant called European frogbit was found in Oceana and Ottawa counties this summer. 

Frogbit is a small green plant that looks like a water lily. Kevin Walters with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said it can form dense mats on the water's surface.

"So there’s no light penetration in the water, it makes movement of waterfowl and fish difficult," Walters said. "For humans it makes access to the water for fishing, swimming, boating, things like that can become very difficult."

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, hear how Michigan hops farmers are struggling to keep up with the craft beer boom. Plus, a look ahead on the future of the Traverse City Pit Spitters baseball team.

Five years ago hops were in high demand in Michigan, so farmers started experimenting with the crop. However, as beer tastes changed and breweries went looking for the next new thing, many northern Michigan hop farmers have been unable to make ends meet.

People stand in the water, holding both ends of a large net.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, hear how citizens are becoming scientists on the Great Lakes.

Plus, a cheesy grits casserole recipe with a special ingredient: family history.

Morgan Springer

Traverse City Area Public Schools will pay back $707,000 to the state over allegedly miscalculated student enrollment, but they could have to give back more money.

The Michigan Department of Education says TCAPS may have miscalculated enrollment in at least two other semesters.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A cougar was spotted in Gogebic County last month by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, making it the 39th cougar sighting in Michigan by the DNR since 2008.

Nearly all of those spottings have been in the Upper Peninsula.

The DNR says it's unlikely that there's a significant breeding population of cougars, otherwise known as moutain lions, in the U.P.

They say the animals likely emigrated to Michigan from South Dakota, Wyoming and northwest Nebraska.

Michigan House of Representatives

 

The federal judge overseeing the trial of State Rep. Larry Inman, R-Williamsburg, is undecided on his court’s jurisdiction, wavering on whether some charges against the representative are federal issues or not.

Chief Judge Robert Jonker considered a motion to dismiss the charges against Inman in Grand Rapids Friday.

 

Bronte Cook / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, the U.S. Forest Service tried to ban alcohol on three popular northern Michigan rivers, but they backed off after public outcry. Now they say they will ramp up enforcement and education to curb drunken behavior.

Plus, how the Nordhouse Dunes in the Huron-Manistee National Forests is dealing with summer tourism.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Recreational marijuana businesses are still banned in the village of Vanderbilt. A measure to reverse that ban failed by a vote of 72 to 84 Tuesday, according to unofficial election results.

Morgan Springer

Traverse City Area Public Schools will have to pay back over $700,000 to the state over allegedly misreported student enrollment.

American Cancer Society

According to the American Cancer Society, Michigan is in the bottom-half of states when it comes to policies that fight and prevent cancer.

Wikimedia Commons

Environmentalists are calling for Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club to remove golf balls from Lake Michigan. Arcadia Bluffs is a popular course north of Manistee.

Dan Wanschura

Candidates for Mayor and City Commission in Traverse City have been announced. Mayor Jim Carruthers will run for re-election against Shea O’Brien.

Five of the seven seats on the City Commission will also be open. Katy Bertodatto, Evan Dalley, Dave Durbin, Roger Putman, Amy Shamroe and Ashlea Walter are running for terms on the City Commission that run through November, 2023.

Tom Mair and Christie Minervini are running for partial terms that run through November, 2021.

Elections will be held on November 5, 2019.

   

Michigan House of Representatives

State Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) is accused of extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI. He has plead not guilty to all charges.

The trial is set for August 6 in Grand Rapids.

Prosecutors say Inman texted a lobbyist from the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCCM) in June 2018 and offered to vote ‘no’ on a prevailing wage bill if MRCCM and other trade unions would donate more to his campaign.

Michigan House of Representatives

Prosecutors want to delay the trial of State Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) by 30 days in order to prepare for his defense.

Aaron Selbig

The State of Michigan Court of Appeals says Traverse City Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power showed “extreme bias.”

Last year Power sentenced Samantha Lynn Hughes to 13 to 24 months in prison for methamphetamine use. Hughes was pregnant at the time, and the sentence would have kept her in prison for the birth of her child.

“Thinking about [Hughes] versus the unborn child I think I know whose side I’m on,” Power said.

In their decision, the Court of Appeals said that sentence was unfair.

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