Latest Northern Michigan News

Interlochen Public Radio connects you to the stories, people and places of northern Michigan.

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Several northern Michigan counties could see revenue cuts, if Congress stops funding for “Payments In Lieu of Taxes,” or PILT. The change would affect Leelanau and Lake counties, as well as Benzie, Manistee, Mason and other areas with significant national park and forestlands.

The payments have gone on for decades, offsetting losses to local governments and schools which are not able to collect property tax on government land.

Tart cherry growers are set to make a major decision about their industry’s future. They'll decide whether they’d prefer to sell their fruit on a free market or a controlled one.

Most of the nation's tart cherries are grown between Charlevoix and Hart. Yesterday, in Traverse City, industry leaders urged keeping the controls in place. The system allows some control over the supply of tart cherries to keep prices up. The federal marketing order that allows this is up for renewal which means growers have to vote on it.

TC Students Launch Experiment Into Space

Jan 15, 2014
Traverse City Area Public Schools

Northern Michigan high school students have had their work launched into space on Sunday. NASA astronauts will conduct their experiment on the International Space Station.

Three Traverse City West High School students won a contest.

Haley Dole, a junior, was one of the three students who created the experiment.

“It was surprising at first,” Haley said. “I didn’t expect it at all because there were a lot of kids in the contest. And then, it was really exciting.”

Michigan Women's Hall of Fame

Former Lieutenant Governor Connie Binsfeld has died. A teacher from Leelanau County, she began her political career on the county commission. She went on to become one of the most respected names in Michigan politics.

Women were not too common on the Leelanau County commission in the early 1970s. The way Dixie Stephen—a young mother at the time—remembers it, the men didn’t much appreciate Connie Binsfeld.

“She really did her homework,” Stephen remembers. “In the county commission meetings, Connie’s voice was always the clear voice of reason and that wasn’t always well accepted.”

MLaw Newsroom

A University of Michigan law group is seeking the release of a man convicted of a 1990s murder in Kalkaska.

Jamie Lee Peterson has served 17 years of his life sentence for the 1996 rape and murder of Geraldine Montgomery, a widow who lived alone.

DNA from the case was said to be inconclusive at the time, but new methods of analysis were applied last year, says Caitlin Plummer, an attorney with the Michigan Innocence Clinic.

courtesy of Peg Jonkhoff

The father of Traverse City, Perry Hannah, is going to be cast in metal. A statue of the historical figure and a new plaza will be located at the entrance to Hannah Park at the corner of 6th and Union.  The location was approved unanimously Thursday night by the Parks and Recreation Commission.  

The idea for the statue was city planner Russ Soyring’s. He thinks Hannah should be recognized for his contributions to the city.  

Charlevoix Jazz Poet Dies At Age 84

Jan 10, 2014

Charlevoix poet John Alberts has died. Alberts performed his jazz poetry all around Northern Michigan, often with the accompaniment of musicians.

“John was a very down-to-earth and thoughtful person – loved jazz,” says Jeff Haas, host of the radio program The New Jazz Archives. He has also been working with Alberts since the early 1990s.

Peter Payette

Paperworks Studio in Traverse City had a record year in 2013 selling its handmade greeting cards. It just it wasn’t enough for the business to break even. Paperworks was created 20 years ago to employ people with disabilities doing creative work. It has been widely praised for enriching the lives of its employees but the current owner is looking for someone else to run it.

Paperworks Studio made more than a 100,000 Christmas cards last fall. Brian Lewis, directs sales and says that eclipsed what the business was doing just a few years ago.

Tired of reading about intensely cold temperatures? Here's some news that might help take your mind off this week's deep freeze. It could even give you an excuse to hang around outside Thursday.

An intense solar flare is being blamed for disrupting a NASA mission and could force airlines to reroute some flights. That's the bad news. The good news is that the flare is also expected to expand the viewing field of the aurora borealis southward, perhaps down to Colorado and Illinois.

An October jury verdict has not ended a civil court battle over the 2007 death of an Interlochen man by police bullet. The family has appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit.

Craig Carlson died by a single bullet from a police sniper after an all-night standoff at his home. The family says he was mentally ill and suicidal. He was also heavily armed and the sharpshooter who fired on Carlson testified he believed the man was a threat to other officers.

Many Michigan schools remain closed for a third day due to cold temperatures and sidewalks that need to be cleared. At least half a dozen deaths have been linked to the record-breaking cold temperatures and officials continue to advise drivers to take it slow and beware of ice.

Governor Rick Snyder says there’s still plenty of work to do to clean up from the storm.

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Two Die In Charlevoix County Crash

Jan 6, 2014

Two people are dead after an early morning plane crash in Charlevoix County. County Sheriff Don Schneider says both the pilot and his passenger likely died on impact. He says it’s not clear why the two were traveling.

At least two counties have declared emergencies because of the sub-zero cold snap that’s swept the state, and almost every school in Michigan is expected to remain closed for a second day.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says at least 25 hundred plows have been deployed to clear state highways and local roads. Governor Rick Snyder made a stop by an operations center in Detroit that’s monitoring road conditions. He says people who can’t sit out the cold spell should take it very slow and careful on the roads that may be cleared, but are still icy.

Northern Michigan’s largest weekly newspaper has a new owner. Luke Haase took over publishing the Northern Express this week. Haase owns the Traverse City Business News, a printed monthly, and The Ticker, a digital daily news feed.

The Express was owned for 23 years by the guys who started it, Bob Downes and George Foster. The two gave a strong endorsement to the new owner in a farewell column. Luke Haase says their steady track record has created a loyal readership for the paper.

National Weather Service

Ice on northern Lake Michigan is starting to cut off lake effect snow in the region.

The lake is entirely frozen over, north of Beaver Island. That means winds coming out of the northwest will not pick up moisture from the lake and drop it as snow on places like Petoskey and Gaylord.

Braving Conditions

Dec 27, 2013
Linda Stephan

About 65,000 Michiganders are still without power after the weekend storm. The ice that caused most of the damage was to our south... but roads were pretty rough in Traverse City Sunday midday. That's when we snapped this picture of two bikers and a runner braving conditions on Bay Street! The bikers were using something new called "fat tires." We talked about the new biking phenomenon earlier this year.

Kelli Stapleton Waives Preliminary Exam

Dec 26, 2013

Kelli Stapleton made a brief appearance in Benzie County District Court today. Stapleton waived her right to a preliminary exam, which allows a felony charge of attempted murder to be bound over to Circuit Court.

The Elberta mother stands accused of a murder-suicide attempt. She remains behind bars. Her autistic daughter, Issy Stapleton, recovers from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kelli Stapleton’s attorney also asked the court to reduce bond today, calling the current amount "excessive."

Extremely cold weather may have played a part in the damper on hunters’ success in bagging a wolf in the Upper Peninsula. It’s been almost two and a half weeks since a wolf was taken by a hunter.

It was December fifth, to be exact, when the last wolf was bagged. Twenty wolves have been taken so far, and it’s not likely that number will reach the limit of 43 set by state wildlife officials. 

WE Energies

A coal plant in Michigan's Upper Peninsula will not power homes and businesses below the Mackinac Bridge. Wolverine Power Cooperative announced today it is dropping a plan to invest in the Presque Isle Power Plant.

Wolverine Power supplies electricity to rural areas in lower Michigan through utilities like Cherryland Electric and Great Lakes Energy. Wolverine was planning to become a joint owner of the Presque Isle plant in Marquette. The coal plant is almost 40-years old and needs expensive upgrades.

Northern Michigan Roads To Get Funding Boost

Dec 19, 2013
Peter Payette

State lawmakers have announced more than $10.5 million dollars for road improvement projects in northern Michigan.

Major projects include $2 million dollars for the reconstruction of Old US-31 from Cadillac to Manton. In Traverse City, $1.5 million dollars will go toward Division Street and a West Front Street bridge. There are also projects in Kingsley and Empire Township.

Almost $850,000 dollars have been allocated for upgrades and repairs on US-31 in Petoskey.

Gwen Drews

  One-in-four Michiganders say they have been diagnosed at some point with depression or anxiety, but few people have had insurance coverage for treatment.

That changes next year. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more people will be covered under Medicaid and employer insurance plans.

City Adds Limits To Summer Festivals On The Bay

Dec 17, 2013

It looks like the Traverse City bayfront is already booked to capacity for major events in 2014.

In addition to the cherry festival and film festival, the two other major bayfront events for 2014 will likely be Taste of Traverse City on June 7th, and a a joint event has reserved the space for August. Porterhouse Productions plans the Traverse City Music Festival partnered with the Traverse City Waterman Challenge once again this August. Permits have not yet been issued, but the events have dates reserved with the city.

Michigan League for Public Policy

In many parts of northern Michigan the rate of childhood poverty is similar to, or below, the state average. But poverty has grown much faster than it has across the rest of the state, according to a five-year trend published today. The numbers go through 2011, with childhood poverty in the Traverse Bay region peaking in 2010.