Traverse City

Lundy steps down as History Center director

Apr 1, 2015

The Traverse City History Center is looking for a new executive director, following the resignation of Maddie Lundy. Lundy left last week after serving the center for the last three years. Her departure comes at a time of change for the center, which recently signed a lease to stay in the city-owned Carnegie Library building.

Board Chairman Bruce Wiegand says the center no longer plans to run a museum in the Carnegie building.

Aaron Selbig

Have you ever walked into a business and been served by someone with a tattoo on their neck or hands? Did it shock you? Shock or not, tattooed workers are becoming more and more common.

And business owners say that’s at least partly due to a tight labor market.

Frances Holmes is human resources director for Blarney Castle Oil, which runs more than 90 convenience stores all over northern Michigan. Many of the stores are located in seasonal, resort communities.

City planners are re-working a proposal to allow “granny flats” in Traverse City. Granny flats are small apartments attached to a house or garage.

Originally, the plan required a lease of at least six months for the apartments. But the city commission delayed a vote on the issue after the city attorney said that requirement may not be legal.

Planning Director Russ Soyring said he’s working with the city attorney on a solution.

Traverse City ramps up battle against frozen pipes

Mar 5, 2015

Traverse City has doubled the number of crews working to thaw out pipes throughout the city.

Last week, Traverse City saw a huge uptick in the number of people calling in to complain about frozen water pipes. As of yesterday, more than 300 people had called in.

In response, the city doubled its effort. It now has five crews working overtime to thaw out pipes at residences throughout the city.

Commission accepts Ottenwess resignation

Mar 2, 2015

The Traverse City Commission voted tonight to accept the resignation of City Manager Jered Ottenwess. Ottenwess offered to resign last week after being charged with domestic violence and attempted assault on a police officer. He has pled “not guilty” to the charges.

Ottenwess’ attorney, Matt Vermetten, said he is getting help in a treatment facility and is focused on his family.

Traverse City Manager Jered Ottenwess has been charged with domestic violence and attempted assault on a police officer.

The charges stem from an incident at Ottenwess' home last week. They were filed today by the Grand Traverse County Prosecuting Attorneys Office. Prosecutors allege that during a police call to his home last Monday, Ottenwess attempted to assault two officers from the Traverse City Police Department. He is also charged with assaulting his wife.

Police say the city manager of Traverse City was not arrested during a call to his home last Monday but the incident is under investigation.

Police were called to the home of City Manager Jared Ottenwess last Monday afternoon. Traverse City Police Chief Michael Warren describes the call as a “medical assist” but a report from the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s office says police responded to “a disorderly subject.”

Aaron Selbig

Many developmentally disabled adults living in group homes in northern Michigan will soon be looking for a new place to live.

Their advocates are protesting new guidelines that could force them out of the homes where they live, work and socialize. But the agency making the changes says that due to budget cuts, their hands are tied.

Traverse City named among top 20 'vibrant' arts cities

Feb 5, 2015

Traverse City is one of the nation’s most vibrant arts communities, according to new research from Southern Methodist University.

The study ranked the northern Michigan community as number 20 in the nation among small and mid-sized cities.

The Traverse City Planning Commission says “granny flats” could be a good way to combat the city’s affordable housing problem. The commission voted last night to allow homeowners throughout the city to build small apartments on their property.

Commissioner John Serratelli said the move was driven in part because of comments from downtown business owners.

“They had numbers of jobs that were unfilled because people could not afford to live in close enough proximity that they would accept the jobs,” said Serratelli.

National Writers Series

A best-selling thriller writer is one of the authors coming to Traverse City during this season’s National Writers Series.

Harlan Coben will appear at the Traverse City Opera House in July. He's one of five writers that the National Writers Series has announced are coming in 2015.

Aaron Selbig

If you’re a fan of indie rock, punk rock or heavy metal, you’ll find there aren’t many live-music venues in northern Michigan featuring local artists playing their own original material.

In the heart of downtown Traverse City, one underground club is looking to meet the needs of fans and bands alike.

The Traverse City Planning Commission will consider allowing “granny flats” throughout the city.

Granny flats are small apartments attached to a garage or house. They’ve been allowed in the Traverse Heights neighborhood since 2013 but no one has requested a permit to build one.

City Planning Director Russ Soyring thinks loosening restrictions on granny flats might spur their development. Soyring hopes resistance to the concept may have cooled some over the last year-and-a-half.

Safe Harbor gets 'yes' vote from TC commission

Nov 18, 2014
Aaron Selbig

Traverse City commissioners gave their approval Monday night to turn a city-owned building into an emergency homeless shelter. The five-to-two vote came after a long and contentious debate that has sharply divided the community. 

Before Monday night’s vote, the public had one more chance to weigh in the proposed Safe Harbor shelter.  Opponents– many of whom live and work in the neighborhood where it would be located – voiced concerns about safety and the potential cost to the city. 

U-W Madison School of Music

A good meal can become a great meal if the restaurant has the right ambiance. That’s what chefs say at least. Good music, for example, can improve the experience of eating.

But what about the other way around? Can good food improve the experience of listening to good music?

An Interlochen conductor and a chef are teaming up in Traverse City to find out.

Anti-fluoride activists set sights on Traverse City

Nov 10, 2014

Traverse City could be the next Michigan town to put the issue of water fluoridation on the ballot. Fluoridation opponents are vowing to take their fight to Traverse City even after an unsuccessful effort in Boyne City.

Voters in Boyne City elected to put fluoride back into their water supply last week.

Ben Hansen said his group – Fluoride Free in TC – still wants to put the issue before Traverse City voters next year.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is looking for public input on what to do with Division Street in Traverse City. The busy street has long been considered dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.

It’s often difficult and dangerous to cross Division Street – a major artery that divides residential neighborhoods. The debate over what to do about safety and congestion on the state-managed street has been going on for years.

Aaron Selbig

A public meeting last night at Traverse City’s Carnegie Library building drew a crowd of passionate supporters of the town’s history. Many called on the city to do everything it can to preserve that history – and the 111-year-old building.

The meeting came barely a week after the Traverse City History Center announced it intends to move out of the building next month.

History Center moving out of Carnegie building

Oct 16, 2014
Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Traverse City History Center is moving out of the building it has called home for the last 13 years. The center’s board voted Tuesday night to terminate its lease on the Traverse City-owned Carnegie building.

The city had offered $10,000 to keep the center going through the end of the year but the board decided it couldn’t wait that long. The center leaves behind the Con Foster collection, which contains more than 10,000 artifacts owned by the city.

History Center acting Executive Director Maddie Buteyn talked to IPR’s Aaron Selbig about the decision.

Mall worker died of a heart attack, says pathologist

Oct 15, 2014
Tom Carr

Police say the man whose body was found yesterday morning at the Grand Traverse Mall died of a heart attack – and not as a result of foul play.

An autopsy performed in Grand Rapids on 64-year-old Ricky Alan Billings confirms the cause of death.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office originally called Billings’ death “suspicious,” due to a wound found on his head. But a pathologist’s report says the wound was not a contributing factor to his death.

Billings was employed as a night-shift housekeeper at the mall.

Tom Carr

 UPDATE: 5:50PM The Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Office has identified the man found dead as 64-year-old Ricky Alan Billings, who was a night shift housekeeper at the mall. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday in Grand Rapids.

Police are investigating a death at the Grand Traverse Mall in Traverse City.

Lt. Brian Giddis of the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Dept. said the death occurred inside the mall, sometime after closing hours last night. The body of a man between 60 and 70 years old was found this morning. Police do not know the cause of death.

TC ready to enforce snow removal rules

Oct 14, 2014

Traverse City residents say the city does not do a good job of clearing sidewalks of snow. But city officials want residents to know they are responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks – not the city.

The city is planning an outreach campaign to educate the public about the snow-clearing laws and to write tickets to property owners who don't comply.

Planners give OK to Safe Harbor proposal

Oct 8, 2014
Aaron Selbig

The Traverse City Planning Commission has approved a controversial plan to open a homeless shelter off Eighth Street. The 5-to-3 vote came after another long round of public hearing last night.

Supporters of the Safe Harbor shelter say it’s needed to keep the city’s homeless population safe during the harsh winter months. But many local residents in the Boardman neighborhood say the shelter will lower property values and pose a danger to nearby schools.

Commissioner Tim Werner says the whole idea of the shelter is to keep the homeless off the streets.


Walk or drive around your city or town: Chances are good your eyes will fall on something intriguing. Something that makes you wonder, "What's that, and where did it come from?"

But sometimes you don't know where to find the answer.

A new local history magazine aims to be the place for those answers. It's a digital magazine called The Grand Traverse Journal.

Amy Barritt is co-editor of the journal and special collections librarian for the Traverse Area District Library. She says the platform invites the public to be part of the digital magazine by not only reading, but also producing some of its content.

"It's a really good vehicle for people to practice those skill sets of literacy and communication. That's why we think the journal is good not just for our region, but libraries across the state can get started in projects like this," says Barritt.

You can view the Grand Traverse Journal here.

* Listen to our conversation with Amy Barritt above.

Fire in Chicago disrupts air travel in Traverse City

Sep 26, 2014
Cherry Capital Airport

Airlines canceled nearly half of all flights in and out of Traverse City on Friday. That's after a fire broke out in an air traffic control center near Chicago.