Morgan Springer

Reporter/Producer

Morgan Springer is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio. Her stories have been featured on NPR, Michigan Radio, WHYY's The Pulse and National Native News. Morgan won a 2016 first place national PRNDI award and a 2017 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story "Grandmother's letter from the Holocaust." Her story "Behind bars, transformation through poetry" won a first place, national PRNDI award in the soft feature category in 2015.

She has an undergraduate degree in International Studies from Earlham College. After graduating, she did a stint as the constituent services coordinator for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office before leaving to work at a garden center. In 2014, she went to the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, bringing her briefly back to her home state of Maine.

Ways to Connect

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

On Tuesday, The Watershed Center said Grand Traverse Bay was officially frozen. The official designation happens after West Bay is frozen from Traverse City to Power Island for more than 24 hours. Even though that's only a fraction of the bay, that's been the official measurement for over a hundred years.

Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper at The Watershed Center, says the bay didn’t freeze over the last two winters – not since 2015. She says, since 1990, it has only frozen between 20 to 30 percent of the time.

DNR officials inspect the first fish speared during the 2018 Black Lake sturgeon fishing season. The female sturgeon weighed 45.8 pounds and was nearly five feet long.
Morgan Springer

 

It’s dawn on February 3 on Black Lake near Onaway. It's freezing cold and snowing lightly. A procession of big pickup trucks and snowmobiles drives across the ice toward villages of fishing shanties, specks in the hazy distance.

Aaron Selbig

A special prosecutor will handle a jail suicide case in Grand Traverse County. The state attorney general has appointed the Antrim County prosecutor to take over.

Alan Halloway hanged himself in the Grand Traverse County jail last summer. An investigation by Michigan State Police found that corrections officers violated multiple policies and procedures. For example, it took officers three hours to find Halloway dead in his cell; they were supposed to check him every hour. 

Students spin, balance, jump and walk at different stations in the gym at Central Grade School in Traverse City. Each movement is designed to help train the brain to read better.
Morgan Springer

 

A growing body of research says more physically active kids do better in school. But, across the country, time for gym class and recess has been replaced with more sedentary time in classrooms. Traverse City Central Grade School is doing the opposite though, giving kids more exercise to help boost their reading scores.

State health officials says infants in Michigan die at a higher rate than the national average. 

The state Department of Health and Human Services says there were 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in Michigan in 2015. The national average was 5.9 deaths per 1,000.

MDNR

A new study says killing wolves to protect livestock doesn't work that well. It shows that non-lethal methods in the Upper Peninsula are just as effective as lethal ones. The study comes from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the University of Wisconsin. 

 


Morgan Springer

For decades, residents living near the Wexford County Landfill have been dealing with contaminated drinking water. The landfill was built in the 1970s and was mismanaged at times. Now, a new proposal at the site is creating new concern for residents.

Grand Traverse County

The Grand Traverse County prosecutor wants an outside attorney to handle a county jail suicide case. Alan Halloway hanged himself in the jail this summer.

Prosecutor Bob Cooney is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to appoint a special prosecutor, because he says he could appear impartial in the case.

Cooney has advised the county in a lawsuit related to the suicide, and he was the one who charged Halloway with attempted murder this summer.

A bill to make English the official language in Michigan has passed a House committee. HB 4053 would require all public government documents be written in English, although they could be printed in another language as well.

Northern Michigan Representatives Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Tristan Cole (R-Mancelona) are co-sponsors of the bill.

Nora Boydell

Farmers might have more time to come up with cage-free housing for their egg-laying hens.

In 2009, the state passed a bill saying farmers could not confine their lay hens throughout the day. The hens must be able to stand, lie down or turn 360 degrees during most of the day. But a new bill before the Michigan Senate would delay the start date of those rules by five years, from 2020 to 2025. 

Jack Boyd

A doe with chronic wasting disease has been found at a deer farm in Mecosta County. The fatal, neurological disease can be found in deer, elk and moose.

The number of deer thought to be infected with CWD tripled this fall, bringing the tally to 30 cases. Seventeen suspected cases were found in Montcalm County around hunting season. The deer farm's infected doe is the northernmost confirmed case so far. 

This summer a man hanged himself to death in the Grand Traverse County jail. Officers found Alan Halloway dead in his cell in July. It took three hours for corrections officers to discover his body. Officers were supposed to check Halloway's cell every hour, but did not do so, according to a report by the Michigan Sheriffs Association.

 


Jack Boyd

Cases of chronic wasting disease have been slowly increasing among deer in Michigan. Before hunting season this fall, there were nine cases of the disease. Now that number has risen to 30 suspected cases.

Michigan Tech University

A wildlife researcher suspects Isle Royale National Park may be down to just one wolf. The island used to have a pack of significant population of grey timber wolves, but the population has dwindled to just two in recent years in part because of inbreeding.

A fired employee from Grand Traverse County has been offered the position of Emmet County administrator. Jennifer DeHaan served as deputy administrator for Grand Traverse County until the county's new administrator, Vicki Uppal, asked her to resign or be fired for “poor performance.”

DeHaan refused to resign, saying the county's issues with her were political and not about performance. She was fired last month.

Commissioners voted 5–2 to offer DeHaan the administrator position last Thursday.

Courtesy of Penni Johnson

 

He was born April 29th, 1976. His parents named him James Dean Fuson.

James’ mom died when he was seven, and his dad left the picture after that. His maternal grandparents, Delores and Wallace Bach, raised him alongside his aunt, Penni, in southwest Detroit.

In the beginning, he called them Granny and Pee Wee. Then teenage self-consciousness got the better of him, and he switched to Grandma and Gramps.

“I was eight years older than him,” says his aunt Penni Bach Johnson. “And I remember I used to babysit him a lot. I used to change his diapers. He was like my little brother.”

Grand Traverse County

The family of an inmate who committed suicide in the Grand Traverse County jail claims county officials knew the jail posed a suicide risk for inmates but did little to fix it.

Michigan earned a lot more in taxes from Airbnb rentals this summer than was initially projected. 

"In just three months, it’s meant nearly $1 million to the state Department of Revenue," says Ben Breit, the Midwest press secretary for Airbnb, "which obviously benefits the entire state and hopefully all the municipalities."

Jacob Wheeler

The owner of Sugar Loaf on the Leelanau Peninsula says it will eventually reopen as a four-star, year-round resort.

The former ski resort would have fine dining, a spa, vineyards and in-house wine among other amenities.

Jeff Katofsky bought the property last year. He told people at a public meeting today that he has not made a decision yet about downhill skiing at the resort. He says the ski equipment on site is unusable and beyond repair. 

Morgan Springer

 

(Editor’s note: we recommend you listen to the story.)

In March 2001, Fred Williams left his friend Tanya Davis’ house to get groceries. He was 17 and living on the west side of Detroit. Fred says he weighed two options before he left.

“I had Hometown Groceries on Joy Road and Wyoming,” Fred recalls, “or I had Foodarama on Livernois and Julian.”

Fred chose Foodarama because he could buy spaghetti ingredients and make a drug sale at the same time. He’d been selling drugs for about three years – mostly as a “corner boy” selling for someone else.

Lakeland Correctional Facility

 

(Editor’s Note: We recommend you listen to this story.)

Mark Smith was 17 when he shot and killed another teenager. He got the mandatory sentence – life without parole. But that didn’t mean Mark stopped living life.

Twenty years into his incarceration, Mark started corresponding with a straight-laced, Canadian woman named Dawn Dietrich. 

 

(Editor’s note: we recommend you listen to this story.) 

Jose Burgos was 16 years old when he shot and killed Omar Kaji. It happened during a bogus drug deal in 1991 in southwest Detroit. 

“The whole plan was, we’re going to make it look like – from the outside looking in – there’s 10 pounds of marijuana in this bag,” says Jose.

The Eyaawing Museum was designed around this central exhibit. A pair of mated eagles were doing a bonding ritual where they lock talons and freefall together. Their wing tips hit two powerlines and the pair were electrocuted to death.
Morgan Springer

Two replicas of Christopher Columbus’ ships have drawn protests from Native American groups. The boats – called the Niña and Pinta – are touring the Great Lakes this summer and are now tied up in Grand Traverse Bay at the Clinch Park Marina.

Kent Shoemaker

One of the most memorable characters in the novel "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë is Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester. He is a wealthy man who hires Jane Eyre as a governess.

Mr. Rochester is known as the passionate, difficult and mysterious man who falls in love with her in the story. But little is learned about his background in Brontë’s novel. Now, 170 years after "Jane Eyre" was published, writer Sarah Shoemaker tells his story in a new book called "Mr. Rochester."

Morgan Springer

In Traverse City’s East Bay, on the busy hotel strip on U.S. 31, is Don’s Drive In. The pink and turquoise restaurant is known for its burgers and shakes and the fact that it’s kind of old school.

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