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

Mackinac Bridge Authority

More people took a trip over the Mackinac Bridge in 2015 than in 2014. That means more tourists are heading to the Upper Peninsula.

Bob Sweeney, secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, says traffic over the bridge was declining since its peak year in 1999.

"But in 2015, we had a major uptick," says Sweeney. "Our traffic increased 7.4 percent over the previous year."

Bridge traffic had hit its lowest point around 2008.

Sweeney says tourist trips account for about 80 percent of the bridge’s traffic.

To protect yourself from assault, be aware of your surroundings. That’s what twelve women and girls learned last weekend at a self-defense class at The Rock of Kingsley. 

The class was in direct response to sexual assault statistics.

The Woda Group

 A judge has ruled that Traverse City commissioners should not have approved a Special Land Use Permit for a nine-story building development downtown. Grand Traverse County Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers vacated the permit on Thursday.

Rodgers said the city commission did not gather information legally required for the permit before they approved the development.

Morgan Springer

The German company, Staaliches Hofbäuhaus or HB, says the Hofbrau Steak House and American Grille in Interlochen has to change its name.

This week Hofbrau’s owners, Brian McAllister and Laurie Bouwman, got a letter from the German company saying HB has a trademark on the name.

"HB, therefore, demands that you change the name of your establishment by removing the word HOFBRAU from the name of your restaurant," reads the letter signed by company officials.

Morgan Springer

The board of education for Traverse City Area Public Schools voted to close two elementary schools Monday night. International School at Bertha Vos and Interlochen Community School will close at the end of this school year.

The vote was unanimous to close Bertha Vos. Board member Megan Crandall was the only dissenting voice in the 6:1 vote to close Interlochen.

Morgan Springer

Republican presidential hopeful and Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke to a couple hundred people at a Traverse City town hall on Saturday morning.

The Republican's main message was to pay attention to each other because "we need to be connected with one another."

Jill Coverdill of Grawn says she’ll vote Kasich in Tuesday's Michigan primary because the other Republican candidates are "frightening."

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was in Traverse City today. Hundreds of people waited calmly in line to see him speak.

Sanders told a packed crowd that the decline of Detroit - and the decline of the American middle class - is partly due to international trade policies.

He says many trade policies cater to big money interests.

Morgan Springer

School board members for Traverse City Area Public Schools are set to decide next month whether to close three elementary schools. But right now TCAPS officials are looking into other ways to save money. 

There were more than 25 alternative options mentioned at the last board meeting, but a number of school officials say none of them are viable. That leaves some parents wondering if a look at alternatives is a formality or is actually being taken seriously. 

 


Morgan Springer

For senior citizens who are single in northern Michigan, it can be tough to meet someone. But not everyone struggles. Margaret Anne Small and George Bailey met at a dance at the Traverse City Senior Center over two years ago, and they're still going strong.

There have been some hiccups along the way. Money issues are holding them back from getting married, and it also means Margaret Anne has to live with her children, keeping her away from George in the winter months when she rotates between Traverse City and Las Vegas.

Morgan Springer

The superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools says the district should close two elementary schools at the end of this year to save money, and he says a third elementary school should close in several years.

At a TCAPS board meeting on Monday night, superintendent Paul Soma recommended closing Interlochen Community School and the International School at Bertha Vos in June. The schools have the lowest enrollment of any elementary school in the district. Under the plan, the International Baccalaureate programme currently housed at Interlochen and Bertha Vos would be relocated to Traverse Heights Elementary.

 

Morgan Springer

Since the announcement that three Traverse City Area Public Schools elementary schools might close, people are getting together to try to save them. They’re brainstorming ways to save money, make money or increase enrollment. 

The Old Mission Community Connection Group met last weekend at Peninsula Community Library. They’re hoping good ideas will save Old Mission Peninsula School, Interlochen Community School and the International School at Bertha Vos.

 


Grand Traverse County Easling Pool

Easling Pool in Traverse City is set to reopen on Wednesday. Grand Traverse County’s only public pool is under the new management of Grand Traverse Bay YMCA.

“We’re trying to partner with the county to try to save an entity that has been in this community for years," says Jay Buckmaster, CEO of the YMCA. "So we will do what we do, which is run great programming and run great pools, and I guess it’s going to be to the community to see if there’s enough need to be able to sustain it long-term."

TC Retreat

A new recovery house for men opened last month in Traverse City. The sober living house has room for six men in recovery. 

Tom Gilbert is the president of TC Retreat, the non-profit that oversees the house.

"People frequently need a safe place to practice what they’ve learned in treatment," Gilbert says. "That’s where TC Retreat comes in with the recovery home, asking folks to make a six month commitment to practice their new sober living skills."

Morgan Springer

Medical marijuana dispensaries in northern Michigan are no strangers to law enforcement raids. But despite the raids, dispensaries keep opening up. And law enforcement ends up spending time and resources that don’t seem to achieve the intended result.

Morgan Springer

Forty years ago, at the age of 15, Thongsai Vangyi and his family fled Laos.

Now Vangyi owns Thai Orchid restaurant in Petoskey. It’s quiet and calm in the restaurant. Busy and bright in the kitchen. Vangyi says his dreams have been simple: own his own business and provide for his family.

 


Human trafficking charges against Jamel King, a drug dealer from the Detroit area, have been dropped.

Recently, King took a plea deal, pleading guilty to cocaine possession and intent to deliver.

Both Cooney and Traverse City Narcotics commander, Dan King, say human trafficking is a county issue that goes beyond Crick and this one case, but it can be difficult to prosecute.

Bill Marsh Auto Group has withdrawn its support from United Way. The decision was made after company leaders discovered United Way of Northwest Michigan provides funds to Planned Parenthood in Traverse City.

Bill Marsh Jr., a partner of the family-run auto group, says the decision was made based on his family’s values and was in no way an attempt to make a political statement. 

Illustrated for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1860

On the 40th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, we got to thinking about how much the media has covered this particular event. With 8,000 known wrecks on the Great Lakes alone, why would this wreck be so popular? And why does it seem like our collective knowledge of maritime history starts and ends with the Edmund Fitzgerald? 

The best explanation seems to be Gordon Lightfoot and his chart-topping song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” 

 


Derek Bailey went on trial in Leelanau County today for charges of five counts of criminal sexual conduct.

In opening arguments, Douglas Donaldson, Leelanau County's chief assistant prosecuting attorney, said his case rests heavily on testimony from the two victims and Bailey's relatives. He also noted that while a search of electronic devices did not produce any evidence of criminal sexual conduct as law enforcement suspected, he does have evidence that one device was deleted or reprogrammed the day it was taken.

Northern Michigan Human Trafficking Awareness Summit

 

Law enforcement says human trafficking is definitely happening northern Michigan, but it’s hard to prosecute. 

They have trouble getting victims to talk, and without the victim’s testimony, it’s often hard to tell if prostitution is forced or voluntary.

There’s a summit this Friday and Saturday in Cadillac where they’ll be talking about these issues.

 

David Cassleman

Thompsonville is a small town of roughly 450 people. The village center is just down the road from Crystal Mountain.

And while some people are enjoying the quiet life of a small town, Ron Osga is worried about police protection and a rise in drug use.

He says things got really bad in Thompsonville when heroin hit five years ago.

"For a while they were burying somebody once a year from an overdose," he says.

 


Morgan Springer

Juveniles serving life in prison with no chance for parole have a reason to hope. They might get a shot at resentencing.

Up until 2012, juveniles convicted of murder were given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It was mandatory. Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this requirement was cruel and unusual. They said it should only happen in very rare circumstances.

But the court didn’t say whether the ruling should apply retroactively. Some states chose to resentence their juvenile lifers while others - like Michigan- did not.

 


Morgan Springer

Incarcerated poets get together weekly at Writer’s Block, a poetry writing workshop at Macomb Correctional Facility outside Detroit. Eight inmates file into a conference room. Dressed in navy and orange jumpsuits, they greet everyone with affectionate handshakes.

 


Department of Natural Resources

A federal judge has dismissed a suit by Native American individuals who are fighting the loss of public land they've hunted and fished on for centuries. Judge Maloney says only tribes can sue, not individual Native Americans, according to an 1836 treaty. The treaty gives tribes the right to harvest natural resources from public land.

Morgan Springer

 


Grand Traverse County could be forced to decide whether to spend $1 million to fix Easling Pool in the next year. Financial concerns about the only public pool in the area have sparked debate about whether water safety is the county’s responsibility.

There are plenty of places to swim up north, but until recently school kids didn’t get any water safety training. Now the county might get out of that business.

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