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.

Kaye LaFond

Oscoda Township will get $1 million to address PFAS contamination. The money comes from U.S. Department of Agriculture grants and will be spent to hook up over 200 households to the municipal water system.

 

Firefighting foams containing PFAS were used at Wurtsmith Air Force Base for decades until the base closed in 1993. Some Oscoda Township residents have had to clean their water or rely on bottled water since.

 

Democrat Dan Kildee of Flint secured the funding.

 

Max Johnston

The Michigan Department of Education says Traverse City Area Public Schools owes more than $700,000 for overpayment last year. 

The demand for the repayment stems from allegations that TCAPS misreported student enrollment numbers for the Northern Michigan Partnership, a program that combines online learning and classes at the TCAPS building in Interlochen.

David Cassleman

County Democrats say Kenzie Jeurink has moved to Manistee, effectively dropping her from the race.

Republican Gordie LaPointe is now essentially running unopposed for the county’s sixth district.

Grand Traverse County Clerk Bonnie Scheele says Jeurink’s name will still be on the ballot.

 

“If she won … she would decline to take the position and the new county board of commissioners would appoint someone from that district to fill that position,” Scheele says.

 

Grand Traverse County

Updated on 10/9/18 10:50 a.m.: Addison "Sonny" Wheeloch of District 4 was the only Republican to attend the forum last night.

 

The Republican candidates for the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners withdrew from a forum scheduled for tonight. They say they are protesting the League of Women Voters (LWV), whose local branch is sponsoring the event.

 

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

The drive from Traverse City to Ann Arbor takes about four hours, and that’s without stopping for food or gas.

However, the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities just finished a study that looks at three different trains that would operate between Traverse City and Ann Arbor. Each one runs at a different speed and has its own budget.

 

 

Aaron Selbig

As it stands now federal and state laws say you can’t bring a weapon into what’s called a “sterile area” at an airport. But the definition of a sterile area that the state used was removed in 2001.

 

This created a loophole where people could bring weapons into airports with little consequence.

 

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says his bill will define a sterile area as any place behind a government check point.  

 

JOE SHLABOTNI

The 2018 midterm elections are just a few weeks away and money is pouring in to the campaigns of candidates across northern Michigan.

 

Craig Mauger is the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says a lot of candidates rely on Political Action Committees, or PACs, that get donations from special interest groups or businesses.

 

Harrietta Hills Trout Farm

The Harrietta Hills Trout Farm produced 300 thousand pounds of trout per year in the Au Sable River.

A conservation group called Anglers of the Au Sable filed a lawsuit to shut the hatchery down in 2014.

 

They said the hatchery was polluting the river and getting fish sick.

On Thursday, both sides settled. The trout farm gets $160,000 and Anglers of the Au Sable will take over their lease next year.

Director Joe Hemming says the settlement is a win for the community.

Joe Shlabotni

There are events across northwest lower Michigan Tuesday to get people registered to vote.

They will be hosted by the Grand Traverse League of Women Voters.

The last day to register in-person is Tuesday, October 9.

 

 

Volunteers, representatives and local officials will be on hand to help residents at the following locations:

 

Peninsula Community Library, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Kalkaska Public Library, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Max Johnston

Incumbent Republican Jack Bergman and Democrat Matt Morgan debated local and national issues, including the Line 5 pipeline under the straits of Mackinac.

 

 

Bergman said he supports building a tunnel in the straits. That plan is also supported by Governor Snyder.

 

Morgan says Line 5 should be decommissioned, and instead he wants more natural gas in the Upper Peninsula.

 

Max Johnston

Michigan schools have one of the highest rates of chronic absenteeism in the country. That’s students that miss at least 10 percent of the school year.

 

However, Birch Street Elementary school in Kalkaska has found a way to keep kids in school by helping them inside and outside of the classroom.

The first week of school just finished at Birch Street. Attendance was high; only four students out of nearly 400 missed school.

 

Office of Governor Rick Snyder

Applicants won’t be asked about their criminal history when applying for state jobs and licenses.

 

On applications for state licenses, applicants had to check a “yes” or “no” box when asked if they’ve been convicted of a felony.


Governor Rick Snyder signed an executive order Friday removing the question from those applications. There are over 200 jobs that require a state license to fill, like construction or real estate licenses.

The U.S. Coast Guard

Environmental groups say the U.S. Coast Guard is not ready for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.

 

The Coast Guard is required by law to have a plan for a spill.

 

However, Margareta Kearney, an attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, says they don’t.

 

 

“There was testimony that clearly stated the Coast Guard is not at the ready to respond to an oil spill in the Great Lakes,” Kearney said.

 

 

Max Johnston

An Enbridge vice president says the company will release more information on damage to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. A ship anchor struck the pipeline in April.

 

David Bryson, the vice president of operations at Enbridge, committed to releasing the information at a meeting hosted by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters in Traverse City Monday morning.

 

Peters pressed Bryson to be more cooperative with the state and to release video footage and pictures of the pipeline. Peters sounded surprised when Bryson agreed.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters will host a hearing Monday in Traverse City on oil spill and response efforts in the Great Lakes. The meeting will be centered around the controversial Line 5 pipeline in the straits of Mackinac.

Peters says oil spill preparedness - at both the state and federal levels - is poor.

“I don’t think they’re very prepared at all,” Peters says. “We have to do a better job of understanding how we clean up these accidents.”

Max Johnston

Traverse City will rely entirely on renewable energy by the year 2040, according to Traverse City Light & Power. TCL&P’s board of directors approved the energy plan at their meeting Tuesday night.

Executive Director Tim Arends says all the city’s non-renewable energy contracts will expire by 2040.

“We’re feeling pretty assured that by then, based on comments from Consumers Energy and DTE that the coal plants we’ve invested in will be shuttered,” Arends said. “The thought is to replace those contracts with renewable energy.”

Michael Coonrod has been teaching piano at Interlochen Center for the Arts for over 40 years.

But after a horrible camping accident, his career was put in jeopardy.


Common carp have been in Michigan since the late 1800s. They’re not considered an invasive species because they’ve been around so long. Many people consider them to be a “trash fish,” but flyfishing for carp is very popular in northern Michigan.

Max Johnston

The Bear Claw Cafe in Copemish is full of bears. Don’t worry, the bears are only decorative. But they are a part of a unique diner whose owner wants you to look at the animal differently.

Max Johnston

Many people consider carp to be a ‘trash fish,’ but fly fishing for carp is very popular in northern Michigan. This year though, guides have cancelled trips and lost thousands of dollars because they can’t find the fish.

 

Some blame another growing sport: bowfishing.

 

 

When carp spawn in Grand Traverse Bay, their backs actually protrude from the water like a shark because there are so many packed in shallow waters.

 

Eric Lackie

Plenty of people have heard about the plight of the honeybee, as colonies have been disappearing for more than a decade. Across the country, people are getting into recreational beekeeping to do something about it.

Enbridge Energy

Environmentalists say the Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac poses a risk to the Great Lakes, and the state is looking into it. Michigan recently received a list of potential replacements for the 64-year-old pipeline.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDY VIDEO

The state has released a list of possible alternatives to Enbridge’s Line 5, the oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The report was written by a contractor and details some of those alternatives.

 

Line 5 is a 64-year-old pipeline that has generated a lot of controversy. The report was commissioned by the state to look at all the options for replacing it.

 

 

 

DEREK A YOUNG / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Boardman Dam removal begins this week.

 

 

On Thursday, engineers will start siphoning out water from behind the Boardman Dam in the first step to remove the 130-year-old structure. As a result residents downstream should expect cloudy water in the next few weeks, according to project manager Dan Devaun.

 

 

Max Johnston

The Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board heard from concerned citizens about the controversial Line 5 oil pipeline Monday.

The board held its second meeting of the year at Petoskey Middle School with the morning devoted to hearing public comments. Activists from environmental groups and Native American tribes protested outside. Many spoke to the board during the public comments section.

Lisa Leggio worries about the future of the pipeline.

“Enbridge is such a repeat offender. This pipeline has already leaked several times,” Leggio said.

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