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.

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.

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.

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