Taylor Wizner

Reporter/Producer

Taylor Wizner is the health care and tourism reporter for IPR News. She joined IPR in 2019 after reporting at WDET in Detroit and graduating from Columbia Journalism School. When not sharing the news of the day, she enjoys being outdoors with her dog and listening to podcasts.

Huron Manistee National Forests

 

A firefighter from northern Michigan is helping battle wildfires in Australia.

 

Huron-Manistee National Forests employee Brian Stearns was hand-picked by the U.S. Forest Service for his leadership and firefighting experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Flicker

Cell phones throughout the region let out a siren noise mid-morning Tuesday.

That’s because the National Weather Service added a new weather category to its alert system for snow squalls.

Jerry Fetty / Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry

A road collapses into the water in Oceana County. A riverwalk disappears into the Manistee river channel. Lakeshore sidewalks buckle in Ludington.

Michigan DNR

Five elk have been poached this year, which makes it the worst elk poaching year on record, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

All the poaching cases for northern Michigan happened roughly within a month. 

Brian Frawley / Michigan DNR

 

Early indications show the Upper Peninsula’s deer harvest is down 21 percent this year.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses the annual Mackinac Bridge deer count to estimate the number of deer killed.

 

Toll workers at the Mackinac Bridge add up deer using a tally clicker each time a driver brings one across the bridge. Those totals help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources estimate the harvest from the Upper Peninsula.

 

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

 

Michigan cherry farmers were in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to make their final case for U.S. imposed tariffs on Turkish cherry products.

Michigan DNR

 

A second elk has been poached in northern Michigan.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources says a bull elk was shot earlier this week in Montmorency County, north of Atlanta.

Another elk was shot last weekend in the Pigeon River State Forest in Otsego County.

DNR Lieutenant Jim Gorno says he believes a hunter may have mistook the most recent elk for a deer.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Gaylord authorities say a bull elk was poached near Vanderbilt.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Firearm deer season begins Friday.

It’s also the first opening day in about 10 years where hunters won’t be able to bait deer because of a baiting ban.

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

A millage that would fund early childhood development for young children in Leelanau County passed in a close vote Tuesday.

 

The tax won by just about 100 votes, with 3,343 votes in favor and 3,244 against, according to unofficial election results as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

 

Leelanau County will continue to provide services for families with children under the age of five for the next five years. 

 

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, Leelanau voters will decide the fate of an early childhood program.

Plus, tribal and city officials celebrate the new Clinch Park art installation honoring the Anishinaabek.

 

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

A program that’s been providing services to Leelanau County young children for twenty years is out of money. To save it, the program’s supporters are asking the community to pay a five year tax that would keep it afloat. Others argue the program overlaps with other government services.

Research shows the first five years of a child’s life are critical to their development and can have lifelong effects. Leelanau County is asking residents to pay a tax that will continue funding a program supporters claim will help children ages zero to five in the county.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

If there’s one essential experience of fall in northern Michigan, it’s getting lost in a corn maze. In Traverse City, Jacob’s Farm has hosted a 10 acre corn maze for a decade.

 

 

Wet corn stocks smack in the wind at the maze entrance.

But Brett Hood, the farm manager and maze master, says the windy and rainy conditions don't keeping people away.

Robert Haase / Flickr

Gale warnings on the northern Great Lakes are in effect until late tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong winds from the southeast will cause gusts that may exceed 40 miles per hour on the northern coast of Lake Michigan.

Most of Lake Superior is also under gale force winds advisory. 

The National Weather Service expects waves up to 19 feet.

They say there is an increased threat of lakeshore flooding in coastal areas throughout the weekend.

 

Jim Sorbie / Flickr

 

People who have homes on the sandy, eroding shores of Lake Michigan don’t have a lot of protections when it comes to insurance coverage. 

Regular homeowners insurance does not cover flooding or any land movement, including erosion of the land beneath a structure.

Banks that give loans to lakefront homes require flood insurance, which could possibly provide some erosion coverage.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers Alan Lulloff says erosion that happens after a storm could be covered.

Northwestern Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College announced that its faculty approved a new employment contract.

 

NMC union employees voted almost unaminously today to accept the agreement that was reached after a 10-hour negotiation with a state mediator.

The faculty bargained for salary increases and more organizational flexibility after their contracts expired last December. An external fact finder report found salaries could be higher.

The NMC Board of Trustees will vote on the proposed contract next Monday.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

 

The Pere Marquette River is a nationally recognized trout stream attracting anglers from all over the world.

 

Ten years ago, fishermen started noticing unstable land just below a rail line that crosses the Pere Marquette. 

 

Locals are worried that the train will soon derail, spilling train cars with chemicals into the river. Some say it may be too late to stop a disaster.

 

 

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Update: The story has been updated to include GEO Group's response.

In an early morning stand-off, three protesters were arrested as they tried to block employees from entering a prison set to open on Tuesday that will hold immigrants convicted of crimes. 

Vapes.com / Flickr

  The state has launched a program to help kids stop smoking, in part so students don’t get suspended from school.

 

An increase in students using e-cigarettes has led to many schools implementing automatic suspensions for smoking.

 

A recent state survey found 25 percent of seventh and 11th graders in the region say they vaped within the last 30 days. In Emmet County, youth vaping increased by 84 percent over the last two years.

 

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.

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