Peter Payette

Executive Director

Peter Payette is the Executive Director of Interlochen Public Radio and has managed the news department since 2001. For more than a decade, he hosted the weekly program Points North and has reported on a wide range of issues critical to the culture and economy of northern Michigan. His work has been featured on NPR, Michigan Radio, Bridge magazine and Edible Grande Traverse. He has taught journalism and radio production to students and adults at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is also working on a book about the use of aquaculture to manage Great Lakes fisheries, particularly the use of salmon from the Pacific Ocean to create a sport fishery in the 1960s.

Peter has vacationed in Benzie County his entire life. His wife Sarah is his biggest fan. They have three children, Isabelle, Amelia and Emmet, and live happily in Traverse City's Kid's Creek Neighborhood. 

Many of his favorite stories are about obscure fish in the Great Lakes or the new arrivals changing the food web.  He also admires the people keeping the rock 'n' roll revolution alive in the woods of northern Michigan and enjoys any story that reconnects the past to the present.

Ways to Connect

There’s a lot of complaining these days that youth sports are too expensive and competitive. And, in fact, kids are dropping out and most sports are on the decline in the U.S.

One sport that is not losing players is hockey, which has also changed the way it trains young athletes. The approach has been so successful that the U.S. Olympic Committee recently adopted it.

The harbormaster in Leland says the federal government needs to spend emergency funds to dredge the channel there. The channel is about six feet deep, the minimum needed for large yachts and the Mishe-Mokwa, the largest ferryboat that takes visitors to the Manitou Islands.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ district office in Detroit has recommended that emergency funds be used to dredge the channel between Lake Michigan and Leland, but that decision will be made at the national level.

Peter Payette

Fruit growers have a new problem: they can’t buy enough young trees to plant in their orchards.

This is especially true for cherry farmers in Michigan who depend on nurseries in the Pacific Northwest. It could get worse, and some farmers are preparing for a day when they can’t buy any trees.

Ben LaCross was supposed to be planting 6,000 sweet cherry trees this spring at his farm near Maple City. He ordered the trees from a nursery in Oregon three years ago, but there was some unusual weather there that fall.

Teachers at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City say they’re being punished for forming a union. Faculty pay has been frozen while teachers bargain for their first union contract. The group filed a complaint with the state over the issue in late April.

The complaint addresses two types of pay increases that have been typical at NMC for teachers in the past.

It says increases for teachers based on seniority, called step increases, should continue because NMC is required to maintain “status quo” during contract negotiations.  

Pure Michigan

An effort to change rules for protecting historic buildings in Michigan appears to have failed. House Bill 5232 would have made it more difficult for cities and other local governments to create historic districts and maintain them.

Supporters of the proposal say these districts can be a burden on homeowners forced to comply with historic standards. The proposal would have required two-thirds of property owners in a proposed historic district to approve of the idea before it could be considered.

Peter Payette

There’s a lot of complaining these days that youth sports are too expensive and competitive. And, in fact, kids are dropping out and most sports are on the decline in the U.S.

One sport that is not losing players is hockey, which has also changed the way it trains young athletes. The approach has been so successful that the U.S. Olympic Committee recently adopted it. The hockey club in Traverse City was a pioneer in this effort.


Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Salmon had been planted in the Great Lakes many times before but unsuccessfully. The fish planted in 1966 came back to the Platte and Manistee Rivers the next year and turned Lake Michigan into a sport fishing paradise that drew anglers by the thousands.

The man who led this effort was in Benzie County today to celebrate it.

“I could have been the biggest bum in the world if I screwed up the Great Lakes,” Howard Tanner told a crowd at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. “Some people think I did.”

Peter Payette

Students at Northwestern Michigan College are buying fewer books these days. That's because of an effort to use more online resources in place of textbooks, which can cost more than $100 each.

A report on the project suggests the college administration take steps to promote the concept. But college officials say there are no plans for that.

The issue comes up at a time when some instructors at NMC say the administration does not listen to their ideas.


Sara Kassien

We might not know exactly what a changing climate will mean for northern Michigan. But Joe VanderMeulen says we can prepare for it.

“Preserving species diversity and preserving natural areas will give us the greatest shot at retaining some of the beauty of this area,” he says.

VanderMeulen has launched a new media project that focuses on climate change and related issues like development and invasive species.

U.S. Forest Service

In the 1970s, people complained the Pine River had become a “canoe freeway.”

Mark Miltner owns Pine River Paddlesports Center and says people like the river because it’s fast.

“It’s just a little livelier than most Michigan rivers,” he says. “It has more personality, has more push, has more fun factor.”

Peter Payette

Instructors at Northwestern Michigan College say union negotiations are at an impasse, and at issue is how much say the faculty has in how the college operates.

The faculty formed a union last year and is negotiating its first contract.

Members voiced their frustration on Monday night at a meeting of the board of trustees.

The Pine River is one of the fastest flowing rivers in Lower Michigan and one of the most popular. But its popularity created a problem the U.S. Forest Service wants to fix.

The project would mean the end of a sandy bank, about 160 feet high, that attracts crowds of paddlers.

The issue pits people’s enjoyment of the river against the river’s health and even public safety.

U.S. Forest Service

The Pine River is one of the fastest flowing rivers in Lower Michigan and one of the most popular. Heavy traffic in the summer has created a problem the U.S. Forest Service wants to fix.

The project would mean the end of a sandy bank, about 160 feet high, that attracts crowds of paddlers. It’s an issue that pits peoples’ enjoyment of the river against the river’s health and even public safety.
 

The bank is just above Low Bridge, about 20 miles east of Manistee. It’s almost almost pure sand from top to bottom.

Gord Cole / Aqua-Cage Fisheries

The debate over fish farming in the Great Lakes is underway in Lansing. Committees in the state house are considering competing bills. One package of bills would create rules allowing what’s called cage or net pen aquaculture. Other legislation would ban fish farms in the Michigan waters of the Great Lakes. IPR News Director Peter Payette has been following this story and spoke with David Cassleman.

Traverse City Area Public Schools

Some parents on Old Mission Peninsula want to know if they can pay higher taxes to keep their elementary school open. Traverse City Area Public Schools has proposed closing three elementary buildings to save money, including the school on Old Mission Peninsula.

The idea of raising taxes to keep a school open sounds simple but is something school districts are not allowed to do in Michigan. An amendment to the state constitution known as Proposal A made vast reforms to public education funding and prohibits a local school district from asking voters for more money to operate schools.

Parents on Old Mission Peninsula are talking about a way to work around that law.

Peter Payette discusses it with David Cassleman.


Peter Payette

Mark Baker announced in December he was selling his farm. But now he says he has a new plan: he wants to help other military veterans take up farming.

 

Tall Ships America

Tall Ships America will return to the Great Lakes this summer. The event, Tall Ships Challenge, will bring the fleet to every lake and will include a stop in Bay City.  A race from Bay City to the Straits of Mackinac is also planned. On Lake Michigan, the race will likely be from Chicago to Green Bay.

There will be about 20 ships in the fleet, including two this year from Europe - a Spanish galleon and Viking-style ship from Norway.

Department of Environmental Quality

Michigan has more than 280 contaminated sites that are “orphans.” That means the company that made the mess no longer exists and the state has to deal with it.

But Michigan is running out of money to tackle these environmental problems. That was not good news for Antrim County, home to one of the largest contaminated sites in the country. State management of an underground plume of trichlorethylene (TCE) has been crucial here for years and will be needed in the future.

Food inspectors used a warrant signed by a judge to visit a farm near Cadillac last week. State police troopers were also on hand for the inspection of Bakers Green Acres last Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jennifer Holton, called the inspection “routine.”

But the farmer, Mark Baker, characterized it on his YouTube channel as a “raid.”

“They pulled in like it was a raid,” he says. “Like we were going to run the other way or flush drugs down the toilet.”

Clements Library, University of Michigan

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft did as much as anyone else to make Michigan a state. As the U.S. Indian agent, he negotiated a treaty with tribes up north, who gave up millions of acres of land in the deal.

Schoolcraft married Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, a poet who was half Ojibwe. But he still thought of Indians as savages and that it was his job to lift them out of their “barbaric” state, according to Eric Hemenway.

Hemenway is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians who works in cultural preservation.

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

Petobego Pond was a big winner at the Natural Resources Trust Fund board meeting this week. The fund board recommended spending almost $2.5 million to help preserve 43 acres at the south end of the pond along East Grand Traverse Bay near Elk Rapids. The land is privately owned and forms a peninsula between the bay and the pond.

Peter Payette

The founder of a charter school in Traverse City is back in federal court next week. A judge will sentence Steven Ingersoll for up to five years for his recent convictions of tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the federal government. Those crimes had to do with his financial dealings in Bay City.

The hearing is also raising questions about whether Ingersoll abused his power when he was running Grand Traverse Academy. When he cut ties with the school, he owed the public academy $1.6 million dollars.

Recent changes to the rules for deer hunting are changing the sport.

The rules apply to much of the northern Lower Peninsula, and they're more restrictive, making it harder to shoot a buck.

Plenty of hunters objected when they were put in place.

But after a few years, some say it’s a dramatic improvement and could make the region a hunting destination for people from other states.

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.” 

 


Vanessa Diffenbaugh's first novel, The Language of Flowers, is about a foster child aging out of the system. Her second and latest book, We Never Asked for Wings, takes on immigration and education. Vanessa Diffenbaugh's books tackle big topics that highlight regular peoples' struggles and triumphs. Diffenbaugh talked to Sarah Bearup-Neal, a writer and artist from Glen Arbor.

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