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Your connection to northern Michigan news.

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.

University of Michigan

The Bay Mills Indian Community announced Tuesday it will intervene in Enbridge’s application to build a tunnel underneath the straits of Mackinac. 

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

Update 5/14/20: IPR has learned the inmate hunger strike mentioned in the following story ended on May 13. 

As several hundred prisoners from California saturate North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, more than 100 inmates started a hunger strike, refusing food until they’re tested for COVID-19.

All of this is happening as cases of coronavirus double at the immigrant prison.

Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc.

 

Correction: In a previous version of this story IPR inaccurately reported that 22 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 were asymptomatic, as earlier reported to IPR by the Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc. Please read the following story for the accurate information.

More COVID-19 testing is available in Northwest Lower Michigan, even for those without symptoms.

Pure Michigan campaign

Mackinac Island, one of Michigan’s largest tourist destinations, is still over a month away from opening for business due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials say.

State Theater / Courtesy

 

The Traverse City Film Festival is officially canceled. 

Film Festival Founder and President Michael Moore made the announcement Monday, saying there was no way around it amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’m very, very sorry to announce that we cannot come together this summer to participate in our 16th Traverse City Film Festival,” Moore said in a statement. “We doubt the governor’s order closing our theaters and the festival will be lifted any time soon — and we agree it shouldn’t.”

Three of the five naked-eye planets begin their retrograde motions this week, beginning with Saturn on Monday, followed by Venus on Wednesday, and Jupiter on Thursday. 

Interlochen Center for the Arts

 

 

For the first time since 1964, Interlochen Center for the Arts will not be hosting its annual summer Arts Festival.

Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

 

Enbridge Energy’s permit application to build a tunnel for the Line 5 oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac needs revisions. 

That’s what the Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) told the company this week. 

Specifically, EGLE says the application is too long, especially for the public to review. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Construction is underway on the new lock at the Soo.

“The three major phases of the project remain on track with their timetables virtually unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic at this time,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a press release.

Contractors working on the lock are taking precautions to prevent catching or spreading COVID-19, according to an Army Corps spokesperson. They are being screened for symptoms, wearing face coverings and maintaining six feet of social distance in work areas.

Max Johnston

As coronavirus sweeps through the nation, tearing families apart and overwhelming hospitals, there’s one part of healthcare that’s expanding: opioid addiction treatment.

Taylor Wizner

 

Update 5/13/20: The Federal Bureau of Prisons began publishing data about privately-managed federal prisons around May 8. That information can be found here

On April 21, IPR reported there were nine inmates at the North Lake Correctional Facility who tested positive with COVID-19. 

Since that story was published, IPR has been unable to obtain further information about the number of inmates who are sick, who have died or recovered from the disease. 

 

NMC aviation program

For many Americans, their first insight into Afghan history and culture came from Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 book, “The Kite Runner.”

The book describes the brutality of the Taliban’s reign starting in 1994 that only came to an end as a result of U.S. military action in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Several proposals on the ballot for Tuesday’s election passed in northern Michigan.

Here’s a list of unofficial results to ballot proposals:

Rachel Krino / Bellaire Family Health Center

As more tests for COVID-19 become available, drive-thru test sites are popping up across the state. The newest one in northern Michigan is in Bellaire.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

On Tuesday, May 5 residents across Michigan will vote on local ballot proposals. Due to the coronavirus pandemic most voting will be done by mail, but there will be some in-person options for those who want or need it.

Mercury meets the Sun at superior conjunction on Monday, on the other side of the Sun from Earth, then the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower peaks toward dawn on Tuesday, followed by Full Moon on Thursday morning. What are your plans for the week?

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