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Your connection to northern Michigan news.

The Traverse City Pit Spitters announced the creation of two brand new teams on Monday. All three teams will play at Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City, which allows the teams to play ball while not traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whitney Waara

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, baseball is coming back to northern Michigan this summer. On Monday the Traverse City Pit Spitters announced the creation of two brand new teams – the Great Lakes Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears.

To eliminate travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, all three will play against each other at Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City this summer.

 

The flood that was caused by heavy rains and the failure of two dams near Midland caused property damage far downstream. But the long term damage might be in the contamination of wildlife.

The word Solstice derives from the Latin sol  for ‘sun’ and the verb sistere ‘to stop, or be stationary’.  In the cycle of the year, Solstice marks the two points when the Sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon ~ and this year, both of these moments, Summer Solstice in June, and Winter Solstice in December, bring rare celestial phenomena.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

White supremacists were behind rumors that a protest over the killing of George Floyd would turn violent, according to the Traverse City Police Chief.

“The ‘alt-right’ was saying they were ‘alt-left,’” Chief Jeff O’Brien told city commissioners Monday night.

Sky watching is a lesson in learning that things take time, even though they can be fleeting once they occur.

Think of Saturn and Jupiter. Because of the difference in their orbital rhythms, it takes them 20 years to come together in the same region of sky, which they’ll do this year,  at Winter Solstice in December. They’re already pretty close to one another, and they’ll be constant companions throughout the weeks and months ahead. When they come to the moment of their exact conjunction, they’ll be closer than they have been since the time of Galileo in the 1600s!

Governor's Office

 

A new order signed Friday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer will soon allow Michiganders to get their hair cut or styled – as well as head to the gym or a movie theater – with certain precautions.

The restrictions will be lifted first in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula starting Wednesday -- followed by southern Michigan starting June 15th.

In northern counties, indoor gatherings of 50 people will be permissible.

Today on Stateside, how the state parks system is coping with the tidal wave of people desperate to get out of the house. Plus, restaurants and bars all around Michigan can restart dine-in service next week. We check in with a small business owner in Grand Rapids about reopening during COVID and protests over police brutality.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Aaron Selbig / Interlochen Public Radio

Update: Sources confirm that the "Open Carry" rally has been cancelled after a request from the Traverse City Police Chief. A protest over George Floyd's killing will still be held in Traverse City Saturday.

 

Randy Bishop, a radio host in Cheboygan, has called for an “Open Carry” rally in Traverse City this weekend amid planned protests over the killing of George Floyd.

As of Thursday night, one protest over Floyd’s death was planned for 12-2 p.m. at the Open Space in Traverse City on Saturday.

Today on Stateside, one sheriff shares what his department has learned about its own biases and discusses if proposed reforms for police departments are enough. Plus, what's on teachers' minds as they look at plans to reopen schools this fall. 

Interlochen Public Radio

 

There continues to be few new COVID-19 cases reported in northwest lower Michigan. No positive diagnoses were added to the region Tuesday. This weekend, the state only revealed a new diagnosis in Wexford County and two in Otsego County. 

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

At a press conference Tuesday, Traverse City officials including Mayor Jim Carruthers and Police Chief Jeff O'Brien condemned the killing of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis Police Officers.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Parts of Traverse City's Front Street will be closed to vehicles to make more room for pedestrian foot traffic this summer. The City Commission approved the proposal at a virtual meeting Monday night.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

 

An inmate at North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin has died after contracting COVID-19.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons indicated the death on its website, Friday.

The site shows 27 inmates are currently confirmed sick with COVID-19, while 56 inmates have recovered from the disease.

The prison holds 1,560 immigrants who have been convicted of federal crimes and will be deported following their sentence.

On Wednesday this week, the planet Venus comes to a meeting with the Sun, known astronomically as inferior conjunction. And while Venus is having this encounter with the Sun, the two of them will be square, or at a right angle, with the planet Mars, which greets the dawn from the stars of Aquarius. So what can it mean?

Max Johnston

U.S. tart cherry growers and processors narrowly voted to renew the Federal Marketing Order last week. The FMO passed with 53 percent of growers and 57 percent of processors in favor.

Much of northern Michigan reopened Memorial Day weekend as rates of COVID-19 infections continued to decrease in Michigan. However, some communities Up North were left out of reopening in Governor Grethchen Whitmer's recent order.

This last week of May is also the last week of the year that the planet Venus will be visible in the evening sky, because she’s in her retrograde motion now and quickly falling into the arms of the Sun.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Some businesses in northern Michigan reopened Friday, with restrictions, under an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

While many welcomed the news, some businesses are playing it safe.

Alpena Public Schools

The Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Board of Education unanimously selected John VanWagoner as the new district superintendent.

Owners of private campgrounds Up North eager to reopen

May 19, 2020
Taylor Wizner

Ahead of the partial reopening of restaurants, bars and retail businesses in northern Michigan, some private campground owners feel that Governor Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t understand the safety of camping.

"Camping is an extremely safe way to travel and get around, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be out there enjoying the sunshine and the fresh air,” said Cathy Kuebler, owner of Traverse City Kampgrounds of America. “It should totally be allowed."

Recreational camping for individuals who otherwise have a primary residence is not permitted at this time.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Clarification 5/21: The following story was edited to clarify statements made by GEO Group. A representative from GEO Group says the company has not been aware of any hunger strikes at North Lake Correctional Facility and that the prisoners' allegations are false. 

Update 5/21: No Detention Centers in Michigan says the North Lake inmates ended their hunger strike on Monday after some situations improved.

About a dozen incarcerated immigrants started a new hunger strike on Friday at the North Lake Correctional Facility to protest their treatment. The activist group No Detention Centers in Michigan reported it’s the fourth strike they’ve been alerted to at the Baldwin facility in the last three months.

Executive Office of the Governor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says some rural regions of the state can partially re-open Friday, May 22 due to low COVID-19 infection rates. Restaurants and bars will be able operate at 50 percent seating capacity in the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula.

There’s a New Moon on Friday this week, and on the same day, the planets Mercury and Venus will join one another in the same region of the sky, looking west after sunset.

Michigan National Guard

 

Michigan is working with the National Guard to test all inmates in state prisons. It’s one of the first states in the country to do widespread coronavirus testing in prisons, which have become hot spots for the virus.

Piles of debris sit on shore near the Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

As if shoreline erosion wasn’t enough, communities and property owners on Lake Michigan are now dealing with another problem due to record high water levels — trash. Up and down the lake, large amounts of it are washing up on shore.

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