Max Johnston

Assignment Editor/Politics & Education reporter

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. 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, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.

Dan Wanschura

Clerks across the northwest lower Michigan region say they’re getting a lot of mail-in ballots for Tuesday’s primary.

“We have more than doubled the number of absentee ballots that have been cast for this election compared to the August 2016 election,” Traverse City Clerk Benjamin Marentette said.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Secretary of State has pushed for voters to use absentee ballots. As of July 28, the state has given out 1,977,116 absentee ballots. For context, by July of 2016 the state had only given out 546,032.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Michigan’s primary is Tuesday, August 4. Voters across the state will head to the polls or mail in their ballots on state and national office and local proposals.


Executive Office of the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has toughened the rules that require masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. Her latest Executive Order says businesses must deny service to people who refuse to wear masks indoors. It also says customers must remain at least six feet from others outdoors.  

Traverse City will buy body cameras for its police officers. The final price tag, make and model is still being researched, but the City Commission approved to spend up to $100,000 dollars on the cameras at a virtual meeting Monday night.

Executive Office of the Governor

A few weeks ago, IPR reported on the problems facing rural schools in northern Michigan before next fall. Now, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has provided a roadmap for them to reopen.

But there is still a lot of uncertainty on what next school year will look like.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff says his officers will undergo more implicit bias training after the killing of George Floyd.

Dan Plasman

Since the killing of George Floyd, a group of activists has drawn thousands of people to protests in Traverse City. They’ve also gotten elected officials to consider putting body cameras on local police officers.

But they say they’re just getting started.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Michigan schools are preparing for some of the deepest funding cuts in nearly three decades. Some small rural school districts Up North hope to avoid layoffs or cut programs.

They’re more worried about the basics, like bussing, hiring and cleaning.

JJ, FLICKR

More Traverse City Police officers may wear body cameras this year. After the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police, the Traverse City Commission is considering spending up to $100,000 from the city’s general fund on outfitting their officers with cameras.

The proposal was brought up to commissioners at a meeting Monday night. Mayor Pro Tem Amy Shamroe introduced it.

“It’s kind of becoming more of a tool both for the citizens and the officers themselves to have that extra layer of protection and evidence gathering,” Shamroe said.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

White supremacists were behind rumors that a protest over the killing of George Floyd would turn violent, according to the Traverse City Police Chief.

“The ‘alt-right’ was saying they were ‘alt-left,’” Chief Jeff O’Brien told city commissioners Monday night.

Aaron Selbig / Interlochen Public Radio

Update: Sources confirm that the "Open Carry" rally has been cancelled after a request from the Traverse City Police Chief. A protest over George Floyd's killing will still be held in Traverse City Saturday.

 

Randy Bishop, a radio host in Cheboygan, has called for an “Open Carry” rally in Traverse City this weekend amid planned protests over the killing of George Floyd.

As of Thursday night, one protest over Floyd’s death was planned for 12-2 p.m. at the Open Space in Traverse City on Saturday.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

At a press conference Tuesday, Traverse City officials including Mayor Jim Carruthers and Police Chief Jeff O'Brien condemned the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police Officers.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Parts of Traverse City's Front Street will be closed to vehicles to make more room for pedestrian foot traffic this summer. The City Commission approved the proposal at a virtual meeting Monday night.

Max Johnston

U.S. tart cherry growers and processors narrowly voted to renew the Federal Marketing Order last week. The FMO passed with 53 percent of growers and 57 percent of processors in favor.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Some businesses in northern Michigan reopened Friday, with restrictions, under an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

While many welcomed the news, some businesses are playing it safe.

Alpena Public Schools

The Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education unanimously selected John VanWagoner as the new district superintendent.

Executive Office of the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says some rural regions of the state can partially re-open Friday, May 22 due to low COVID-19 infection rates. Restaurants and bars will be able operate at 50 percent seating capacity in the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Pure Michigan campaign

Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s largest tourist destinations, is still over a month away from opening for business due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials say.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Construction is underway on the new lock at the Soo.

“The three major phases of the project remain on track with their timetables virtually unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic at this time,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a press release.

Contractors working on the lock are taking precautions to prevent catching or spreading COVID-19, according to an Army Corps spokesperson. They are being screened for symptoms, wearing face coverings and maintaining six feet of social distance in work areas.

Max Johnston

As coronavirus sweeps through the nation, tearing families apart and overwhelming hospitals, there’s one part of healthcare that’s expanding: opioid addiction treatment.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Several proposals on the ballot for Tuesday’s election passed in northern Michigan.

Here’s a list of unofficial results to ballot proposals:

Rachel Krino / Bellaire Family Health Center

As more tests for COVID-19 become available, drive-thru test sites are popping up across the state. The newest one in northern Michigan is in Bellaire.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

On Tuesday, May 5 residents across Michigan will vote on local ballot proposals. Due to the coronavirus pandemic most voting will be done by mail, but there will be some in-person options for those who want or need it.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

The Michigan Department of Education announced Thursday that a controversial part of the ‘Read By Grade Three’ Law has been delayed indefinitely.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Michigan.gov

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan elections are still on for Tuesday, May 5.

 

Residents across the state — including some in northern Michigan — will vote on a variety of local ballot initiatives.

 

 


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