Morgan Springer

Reporter/Producer

Morgan Springer is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio. Her series "Irredeemable," about Michigan juvenile lifers and the state's resentencing process, recently received a regional Edward R. Murrow award. 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. Her stories have been featured on NPR, Michigan Radio, WHYY's The Pulse and National Native News.

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 to study radio and documentary film, bringing her briefly back to her home state of Maine.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of the Tholen family

 

(Editor's note: We recommend you listen to the story before reading.)

It was December when Rick Tholen was killed. He was working at M&J Grocery in Grand Rapids.

He’d just graduated college and was in his first year of teaching high school English. And he’d decided to take some shifts over Christmas break for extra cash. He was getting married soon.

Aaron Selbig

The tart cherry harvest has begun in Michigan. Millions of pounds have already been harvested in central and southwest Michigan.

The Cherry Industry Administrative Board estimates the harvest will go up to 254 million pounds this year from 197 million pounds last year. That would be a 22 percent increase.

Antrim County

It’s been five months since a special prosecutor was asked to review a suicide at the Grand Traverse County jail. 

Alan Halloway hanged himself in the jail nearly a year ago. It took three hours for officers to find Halloway after he died; they were supposed to check on him every hour. 

An earlier investigation by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association found that two corrections officers did not follow jail policies and procedures; both officer no longer work there.

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City/Facebook

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City opened its doors Saturday. It's the first of its kind in northern Michigan.

Mason County

Voters in a few northern Michigan counties will be asked to approve more money for police officers. Wexford, Benzie and Mason counties all have public safety millages on their August ballots.

In Mason County, they’re asking residents to fund four new road patrol deputies. Residents would pay a millage of $30 for every $100,000 worth of property they own.

Aaron Selbig

There are polka bands across the country, particularly in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.  Where there are Polish-American communities in Michigan, there is usually polka music and dance.

 

Judy and Her Suchey Brothers are a polka band from the Alpena area. They've been playing together for 45 years.

Rafael Alicea and Jose Burgos

Jose Burgos says he always felt like dying in prison was probably one of the loneliest ways to die. And  – for nearly 27 years  – that's what he was told would happen to him.

Even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all juvenile lifer sentences  –  including Jose’s  – had to be reviewed, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy still recommended life without parole. That's where things stood when we initially did a story about Jose last October.

Grand Traverse County

Nate Alger is the new Grand Traverse County administrator. On Wednesday, the county board of commissioners unanimously approved Alger’s contract. Alger is expected to sign the contract with a starting salary of $124,000 and a start date of July 1.

 

Alger takes over a county that is dealing with instability as it tackles pension debt, suicides in the jail and employee dissatisfaction. Alger says stagnant pay and reduced benefits have caused some animosity with employees in the past, but he plans to work on that.

David Cassleman

Traverse City school officials have released to the public an investigation into the district’s superintendent.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced there are at least 662 wolves and 139 packs in the Upper Peninsula, according to a population survey conducted this year.

Grand Traverse County

Grand Traverse County commissioners have picked a local law enforcement official to lead the county. This morning they voted four to three to offer Nate Alger the county administrator job.

Morgan Springer

Following two suicides at the Grand Traverse County jail, county leaders are focusing their attention on mental health services there. That will likely mean the county will spend more money on the jail. In a meeting last night, mental health stakeholders suggested some improvements.

Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group

Federal housing authorities say a resort in northern Michigan has failed to prove it is allowed to restrict home ownership to Christians. There are more than 400 privately-owned cottages at Bay View Association near Petoskey on Lake Michigan, which only practicing Christians can own.

Morgan Springer

In Tuesday's election, voters passed two school bonds in northwest Lower Michigan, while two narrowly lost. 

It worked out for Cadillac Area Public Schools this time. Its bond proposal failed last year, but yesterday a new proposal – for slightly less money – passed with 56 percent of the vote. Now $65.5 million will go towards things like a new early childhood center, renovating buildings and equipment. 

Morgan Springer

School districts across Michigan are asking voters for more money for building renovations and equipment. More than 20 bond proposals are on ballots Tuesday, May 8. A number of those districts are trying again after bond proposals failed in previous elections.

Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness Group

Update 4/30: An interview between IPR's David Cassleman and Morgan Springer has been added to this post.

A legal dispute about religious discrimination at a Michigan summer resort is moving forward. Bay View Association near Petoskey only allows practicing Christians to buy property there, which the Bay View Chautauqua Inclusiveness group – group that's suing – says is illegal.

 


When people think of the Kennedy family, they’re most likely thinking of the famous Kennedy men. John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic president in the nation’s history; he was assassinated in his first term. His brother Bobby was attorney general and a senator until he was assassinated while running for president. Ted Kennedy was a Massachusett's senator for decades until his death in 2009.

The Old Mission Peninsula School will have new leadership starting this fall. The elementary school will no longer be a part of Traverse City Area Public Schools; it will become a public charter school authorized by Grand Valley State University.

Dena Schweitzer has been named Director of Academics there. She has worked as a speech pathologist in local public schools for more than 25 years. 

Jack Boyd

State biologists are asking the public for help combating a fatal disease that threatens deer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is holding public hearings about chronic wasting disease (CWD) in April and May.

“CWD is one of the biggest threats – that we have long-term – to the sustainability of our deer herd,” says Chad Stewart, deer management specialist at the DNR.

JJ, Flickr

Police have stopped two kilograms of cocaine from being sold in northern Michigan. The cocaine was allegedly mailed from an address in Texas to James Lopez of Benzie County. Law enforcement intercepted the package at a local post office before it reached Lopez.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dan King, head of the Traverse Narcotics Team (TNT), says they rarely see drug packages this large in northern Michigan.

“To my memory, it’s the largest seizure and arrest of cocaine in Benzie County,” says King.

Copyright 2018 Interlochen Public Radio. To see more, visit Interlochen Public Radio.

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Michigan Tech University

The National Park Service is one step closer to reintroducing wolves to Isle Royale National Park. The park in Lake Superior would get 20 to 30 new wolves in the next three years.

Isle Royale once had around 50 wolves. But Park Superintendent Phyllis Green says fewer new wolves have made it to the island in recent years because Lake Superior is freezing over less. She attributes that to the warming climate. As a result, there’s been inbreeding and disease in the wolf population.

Morgan Springer

The superintendent of northern Michigan’s largest school district will keep his job. The board of Traverse City Area Public Schools voted unanimously to keep Superintendent Paul Soma during his annual performance evaluation Monday.

More than 60 people showed up for an emotional school board meeting in Traverse City Area Public Schools district Saturday. Most people showed up in support of Superintendent Paul Soma.

David Cassleman

Updated March 9, 2018 at 4 p.m.

A letter from Traverse City school administrators alleges the district superintendent bullies and intimidates female principals.

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