Taylor Wizner

Reporter/Producer

Taylor Wizner is passionate about empowering communities through solid reporting. She joined IPR in 2019 after working as an associate producer at WDET in Detroit. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School and the University of Michigan and has interned for NPR’s flagship show "All Things Considered." When not sharing the news of the day, she enjoys eating Detroit-style pizza and listening to narrative podcasts.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

In less than two weeks, a prison housing immigrants will open in northern Michigan. 

Private prison operator GEO Group won the contract from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to hold inmates convicted of federal crimes at their North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin. 

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

Grand Traverse and Benzie/Leelanau Health Departments have lifted advisories for three Traverse City beaches and Suttons Bay Marina after results today showed lower E.coli levels.

Traverse City Senior Center, Clinch Park and Traverse City State Park are now cleared for swimming.

On Thursday, the Health Departments announced the advisories, saying the water levels in the areas were at levels 2 and 3. At level 2, the departments say beachgoers should only go waist-deep in the water and at a level 3 advisory they advise avoiding the water entirely.

Flickr / USDA

 

This year, many northern Michigan schools forecast student lunch debt, and without regulation from government to collect those dues, districts have to figure it out on their own.

School lunch debt has increased in recent years to the point where the median amount each district carries is just over $3,000, according to the School Nutrition Association —  a professional organization that monitors lunches at schools.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow visited Traverse City on Thursday to tout her plan to extend funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative has funded almost 900 projects in the northwest lower Michigan region, she says.

Earlier this month, Stabenow, D-Mich., introduced bipartisan-supported legislation that would renew funding for the initiative that expires next year. Her proposal would also increase the current budget by about 60 percent over the next seven years.

Aaron Selbig / Interlochen Public Radio

 

Former Kingsley Middle School Principal Karl Hartman is facing eight criminal charges, following his second preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Hartman was a teacher and principal at Kingsley schools for over 30 years.

 

In January, he resigned after former students accused him of sexual assault and allegedly giving them alcohol as minors.

 

Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Atwood says his office dropped three charges Tuesday after one of the victims decided to leave the case.

 

Taylor Wizner

Five years ago, hops were in high demand in Michigan, and more and more 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. This year, more than a dozen hop fields throughout the region sit idle as their owners wait for prices to rise or decide to close farms for good.

Courtesy: Michigan State Police

Several law enforcement groups are searching for a man who may have fallen off his boat into Grand Traverse Bay on Wednesday, according to a news release by Michigan State Police Cadillac Post.

 

The missing man is Terry Eugene Warren, a 57-year-old resident of Northport. 

He was last seen leaving the Northport Marina in his boat yesterday afternoon.

Police say they believe he was the sole occupant of the boat and fell overboard while operating the boat.

Taylor Wizner

More than 50 people wanting to recall Rep. Larry Inman, R-Williamsburg, met at the Traverse Area District Library yesterday, asking people for help collecting signatures and donating money and supplies.

Petitioner Sandy Hardy says the group seeks a recall because Inman is not serving his constituents.

“So we are here because we want representation and we feel we deserve it,” she says.

Many people were upset Inman has missed over 80 legislative votes since May and that he is still collecting a salary. 

Creative Commons

 

Michigan is home to twice as many sand dunes as previously thought.

A researcher says maps done in the 80s only accounted for large dunes, usually found along a lakeshore, but a new map shows there are over 230,000 acres of dunes in the state.

Michigan State University’s Geography Chair Alan Arbogast says he looked at remotely sensed imagery, aerial photos, topographic maps and went on field visits to complete the map.

Taylor Wizner

 

Tubing down a river on a hot summer day is one of Michigan’s most popular pastimes. But after years of alcohol-fueled floats, the National Forest Service banned alcohol on the Au Sable, Manistee and Pine rivers.

 

The Forest Service has since backed off that ban due to public outcry. In its place, conservation officers have pledged to educate river users and ramp up law enforcement.

 

Now the question is, will it work?

 

Relaxing on the river

Taylor Wizner

 

More than a dozen people gathered in Traverse City on Saturday to organize against an immigration prison opening in northern Michigan.

Morgan Springer

 

The Glen Lake School Board has identified a likely candidate to be their new superintendent. 

The district, which has been dealing with conflicts since last year, just added three new members to its board last week.

Wikimedia Commons

 

Some Michigan hospitals are experiencing a critical shortage of blood. Blood banks say supply is typically low in the summer because high school students, who make up a bulk of donations, are on break. But this year is especially bad. 

Spectrum Health, which has hospitals in west Michigan, says its reserve is down 84% from normal levels. Statewide blood banks are now issuing an emergency call for people to give blood.

 

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier accused of sex crimes against many young women, visited and donated to Interlochen Center for the Arts. He was a student camper at Interlochen in the late ‘60s.  

 

A spokesperson for ICA says Epstein made contributions to the school and sponsored the building of a visitors cabin on campus.

 

Epstein stayed at that lodge for a week in August, 2000. But the school says there are no accusations against Epstein from current or former students. 

CREDIT CREATIVE COMMONS

Grand Traverse County health officials say there has been a confirmed case of measles in the county.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Facebook page

 

The National Park Service is improving access for disabled visitors to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Parks Service recently added a ramp at the Platte River boat launch and an all-terrain wheelchair that goes on trails. They also have beach wheelchairs available.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Park Ranger Merrith Baughman says the parks should be available to everyone.

"Here’s some way that people who would otherwise have trouble getting on the beach can access beautiful parts of the park," she says.

The Friends of the Boyne River

Boyne City plans to make it illegal to jump into the river from a stretch of boardwalk and other locations.

Mayor Tom Neidhamer says police noticed large roots and other dangerous material near an area where local kids like to jump 20-30 feet into the water.

"We don't to stop people from having fun," he says. "That's what living in Northern Michigan is all about. But there's a safety issue."

He says swimming and floating on the river will still be allowed.

City commissioners expect to vote on the ordinance at the next meeting on July 9.

Morgan Springer

The Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District has started to replace several members of the Glen Lake School Board.

Four members of the seven-member board resigned on Wednesday, in protest of the departure of the district’s superintendent.

The TBAISD is now looking for applications from people who reside in Glen Lake to finish the remaining terms. Two of the appointments will last for a year, while the others go through 2022.

image captured from Sen. Gary Peters' YouTube page

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has introduced a bill to improve a country-wide broadband coverage map.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Half a century ago, hundreds of pairs of piping plovers lived in the Great Lakes. But by the 1980s, they were on the verge of extinction and only a dozen pairs remained.

Over time, wildlife biologists have helped increase the population. But it’s still well below a stable number and each year there’s a new threat.

 

Piping plovers are small, stout white-gray birds. In the spring, they can be found nesting on the shores of the Great Lakes. Once a fixture on the lakes, the birds are now on the federal Endangered Species List.

Wikimedia Commons

Update: The U.S. Forest Service says the ban may still go into effect next summer, but it is one of several options they are pursuing.

Taylor Wizner

More and more school work is being done online, but some students across the country are falling behind their peers because they don’t have internet at home.

Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office

The Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office has appointed a new jail administrator.

 

Lieutenant Christopher Barsheff has been promoted to Captain, and will now oversee the Corrections Division. Barsheff has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 1996, and has led the community policing program and supervised deputies.

Barsheff’s predecessor, Todd Ritter, was accused of misusing funds and using his position to engage in sexual relationships with former inmates.

Creative Commons

 

This spring, a measles outbreak in southeast Michigan spread because of a high concentration of unvaccinated people. The outbreak was contained to that part of the state, but Grand Traverse County is still a high-risk area because of the large number of unvaccinated students.

After a state mandate required parents to learn the risks of not vaccinating their kids, immunizations increased across Michigan. But in Grand Traverse Couty, many are still saying 'no' to vaccines.

Meghan Flaska used to vaccine her kids without a thought.

Medical marijuana lottery selection
Taylor Wizner

A lottery was held in Traverse City on Friday to hand out licenses for medical marjiuana centers. The city clerk selected the winners by lottery out of 72 applicants.

Valerie Rissi’s eyes lit up when her business was called.

Rissi was retired until her daughter convinced her to apply for a licence for a medical marijuana center. She worked on her application for over two years

"I thought 13 of 72, what’s your odds? Not real well, but that’s why it’s the lottery," she says.

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