Morgan Springer

Executive Producer & Editor, Points North

Morgan Springer joined IPR in 2015. Her series "Irredeemable," about Michigan juvenile lifers and the state's resentencing process, received a 2017 first place national PRNDI award and a regional Edward R. Murrow award. Her stories "Irredeemable, episode 3: Tortured choice," "Grandmother's letter from the Holocaust" and "Behind bars, transformation through poetry" have also recieved national awards. You can hear her stories on NPR, the Michigan Public Radio Network, WHYY's "The Pulse" and National Native News.

Morgan has an undergraduate degree in International Studies from Earlham College. After graduating, she did a stint as the constituent services coordinator for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office before leaving to work at a garden center. In 2014, she went to the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies to study radio and documentary film, bringing her briefly back to her home state of Maine.

Ways to Connect

Morgan Springer

School board members for Traverse City Area Public Schools are set to decide next month whether to close three elementary schools. But right now TCAPS officials are looking into other ways to save money. 

There were more than 25 alternative options mentioned at the last board meeting, but a number of school officials say none of them are viable. That leaves some parents wondering if a look at alternatives is a formality or is actually being taken seriously. 

 


Morgan Springer

For senior citizens who are single in northern Michigan, it can be tough to meet someone. But not everyone struggles. Margaret Anne Small and George Bailey met at a dance at the Traverse City Senior Center over two years ago, and they're still going strong.

There have been some hiccups along the way. Money issues are holding them back from getting married, and it also means Margaret Anne has to live with her children, keeping her away from George in the winter months when she rotates between Traverse City and Las Vegas.

Morgan Springer

The superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools says the district should close two elementary schools at the end of this year to save money, and he says a third elementary school should close in several years.

At a TCAPS board meeting on Monday night, superintendent Paul Soma recommended closing Interlochen Community School and the International School at Bertha Vos in June. The schools have the lowest enrollment of any elementary school in the district. Under the plan, the International Baccalaureate programme currently housed at Interlochen and Bertha Vos would be relocated to Traverse Heights Elementary.

 

Morgan Springer

Since the announcement that three Traverse City Area Public Schools elementary schools might close, people are getting together to try to save them. They’re brainstorming ways to save money, make money or increase enrollment. 

The Old Mission Community Connection Group met last weekend at Peninsula Community Library. They’re hoping good ideas will save Old Mission Peninsula School, Interlochen Community School and the International School at Bertha Vos.

 


Grand Traverse County Easling Pool

Easling Pool in Traverse City is set to reopen on Wednesday. Grand Traverse County’s only public pool is under the new management of Grand Traverse Bay YMCA.

“We’re trying to partner with the county to try to save an entity that has been in this community for years," says Jay Buckmaster, CEO of the YMCA. "So we will do what we do, which is run great programming and run great pools, and I guess it’s going to be to the community to see if there’s enough need to be able to sustain it long-term."

TC Retreat

A new recovery house for men opened last month in Traverse City. The sober living house has room for six men in recovery. 

Tom Gilbert is the president of TC Retreat, the non-profit that oversees the house.

"People frequently need a safe place to practice what they’ve learned in treatment," Gilbert says. "That’s where TC Retreat comes in with the recovery home, asking folks to make a six month commitment to practice their new sober living skills."

Morgan Springer

Medical marijuana dispensaries in northern Michigan are no strangers to law enforcement raids. But despite the raids, dispensaries keep opening up. And law enforcement ends up spending time and resources that don’t seem to achieve the intended result.

Morgan Springer

Forty years ago, at the age of 15, Thongsai Vangyi and his family fled Laos.

Now Vangyi owns Thai Orchid restaurant in Petoskey. It’s quiet and calm in the restaurant. Busy and bright in the kitchen. Vangyi says his dreams have been simple: own his own business and provide for his family.

 


Human trafficking charges against Jamel King, a drug dealer from the Detroit area, have been dropped.

Recently, King took a plea deal, pleading guilty to cocaine possession and intent to deliver.

Both Cooney and Traverse City Narcotics commander, Dan King, say human trafficking is a county issue that goes beyond Crick and this one case, but it can be difficult to prosecute.

Bill Marsh Auto Group has withdrawn its support from United Way. The decision was made after company leaders discovered United Way of Northwest Michigan provides funds to Planned Parenthood in Traverse City.

Bill Marsh Jr., a partner of the family-run auto group, says the decision was made based on his family’s values and was in no way an attempt to make a political statement. 

Illustrated for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1860

On the 40th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, we got to thinking about how much the media has covered this particular event. With 8,000 known wrecks on the Great Lakes alone, why would this wreck be so popular? And why does it seem like our collective knowledge of maritime history starts and ends with the Edmund Fitzgerald? 

The best explanation seems to be Gordon Lightfoot and his chart-topping song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” 

 


Derek Bailey went on trial in Leelanau County today for charges of five counts of criminal sexual conduct.

In opening arguments, Douglas Donaldson, Leelanau County's chief assistant prosecuting attorney, said his case rests heavily on testimony from the two victims and Bailey's relatives. He also noted that while a search of electronic devices did not produce any evidence of criminal sexual conduct as law enforcement suspected, he does have evidence that one device was deleted or reprogrammed the day it was taken.

Northern Michigan Human Trafficking Awareness Summit

 

Law enforcement says human trafficking is definitely happening northern Michigan, but it’s hard to prosecute. 

They have trouble getting victims to talk, and without the victim’s testimony, it’s often hard to tell if prostitution is forced or voluntary.

There’s a summit this Friday and Saturday in Cadillac where they’ll be talking about these issues.

 

David Cassleman

Thompsonville is a small town of roughly 450 people. The village center is just down the road from Crystal Mountain.

And while some people are enjoying the quiet life of a small town, Ron Osga is worried about police protection and a rise in drug use.

He says things got really bad in Thompsonville when heroin hit five years ago.

"For a while they were burying somebody once a year from an overdose," he says.

 


Morgan Springer

Juveniles serving life in prison with no chance for parole have a reason to hope. They might get a shot at resentencing.

Up until 2012, juveniles convicted of murder were given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It was mandatory. Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this requirement was cruel and unusual. They said it should only happen in very rare circumstances.

But the court didn’t say whether the ruling should apply retroactively. Some states chose to resentence their juvenile lifers while others - like Michigan- did not.

 


Morgan Springer

Incarcerated poets get together weekly at Writer’s Block, a poetry writing workshop at Macomb Correctional Facility outside Detroit. Eight inmates file into a conference room. Dressed in navy and orange jumpsuits, they greet everyone with affectionate handshakes.

 


Department of Natural Resources

A federal judge has dismissed a suit by Native American individuals who are fighting the loss of public land they've hunted and fished on for centuries. Judge Maloney says only tribes can sue, not individual Native Americans, according to an 1836 treaty. The treaty gives tribes the right to harvest natural resources from public land.

Morgan Springer

 


Grand Traverse County could be forced to decide whether to spend $1 million to fix Easling Pool in the next year. Financial concerns about the only public pool in the area have sparked debate about whether water safety is the county’s responsibility.

There are plenty of places to swim up north, but until recently school kids didn’t get any water safety training. Now the county might get out of that business.

UPDATE: Police have not stated the cause of death and do not suspect anyone outside of the family. Few details have been released. The children were found in a separate location from the parents. Dead animals were also found on the premises.

An attorney in the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorney's office told MLive that they suspect the mother was responsible but can't confirm that.

Morgan Springer

 

For duck hunters and competition duck callers, sounding like a duck is important. And these duck callers are pretty good. Want to hear them? Here's a person pretending to be a mallard duck.

A youth camp proposed for a small town east of Roscommon was denied. The Ogemaw County Planning Commission voted 4 to 3 against Muslim-American Nayef Salha's proposal.

Salha’s camp was denied for zoning reasons, but the decision is contentious in part because Islamophobic comments were made at another public meeting.

Morgan Springer

The Au Sable Canoe Marathon is both grueling and addictive.  Canoe teams paddle 120 miles from Grayling to Oscoda on Lake Huron. That's close to halfway across Northern Michigan. They paddle 14 to 19 hours through the night and into the next day. The goal for many is simply to finish, and they attack that goal with a stubbornness that sometimes borders on dangerous. 

The marathon is this weekend beginning at 9pm on July 25th.


Morgan Springer

 

Behind the bright colors and dizzying rides at the National Cherry Festival is a group of people who work long hours and love their jobs. Carnies are a community, and Matt Cunningham says they wear the carny title proudly.

"I love being a carny, you know," says Cunningham. "It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle."

The carnival at the Cherry Festival looks like a Kodachrome picture - bright primary colors and signs with old fonts. It has that classic fried food smell, and children on rides are squealing the requisite amount.

Morgan Springer

Updated June 25, 2015.

Last night, Ogemaw County Planning Commission tabled Nayef Salha's controversial request to build a camp for kids. County officials still have questions about the plan being proposed. Some members of the community expressed open hostility toward the property owner because he’s Muslim.

 


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