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Your connection to northern Michigan news.

BJ Leiderman composes themes for NPR shows like 'Morning Edition' and 'Science Friday.' This May, he's coming out with his debut album, 'BJ!'
Mark Edward Atkinson

Over the years, BJ Leiderman has composed the theme music for lots of NPR shows like Morning Edition, Marketplace, Science Friday, and more.

But in early May, he’ll release his first album. And it’s a lot different from his theme jingles. While listeners might recognize him from his theme music, Leiderman says his passion is performing in a band.

 


Dana Ferguson and Dwight Brady

Two more Democrats have jumped into the race for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan. Both are from the Upper Peninsula.

More and more people in northern Michigan are collecting disability checks. 

In some northern Michigan counties, nearly 20 percent of working-age adults are enrolled in disability insurance through Social Security. That’s according to a report published by Bridge Magazine this month. 

Nationwide, the average is about five percent. 

“We have in northern Michigan disability rates that are mainly seen in the deep South and in Appalachia,” says freelance writer Chad Selweski, who reported the piece for Bridge Magazine.

 


David Cassleman

Northern Michigan’s congressman faced a raucous crowd at a town hall meeting in Gaylord Thursday night.

There was lots of booing and some cheering for Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) at the event. Constituents asked him about Russian meddling in the election, health care, and the Great Lakes, among other issues.

 


Tyehimba Jess was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for poetry with his collection, 'Olio.' In it, he tells the stories of early African American performers.
Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is an African American poet from Detroit. He recently won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry called, Olio. The poems are inspired by blackface minstrel shows.

Minstrel shows were variety acts – skits, dances, music, comedy, and were popular in the 1800’s and well into the 1900’s. Performers would paint their faces black, and act out routines that often denigrated African Americans.

Aaron Selbig

A retired Marine Corps officer has formally announced he is running as a Democrat for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. Matt Morgan of Traverse City, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2013, served two tours during the Iraq War.

Abdul El-Sayed for Michigan

A Democrat running for governor in Michigan is touting his experience leading the city of Detroit’s health department in the aftermath of the city’s bankruptcy. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is campaigning in northern Michigan this week.

“We rebuilt a department,” El-Sayed said in an interview with IPR News Radio. “It is now a department that has five different campuses doing great work for the people of Detroit.”

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

State lawmakers return to Lansing this week and to a budget standoff. The House and Senate left Lansing at the end of March without an agreement on how to help an area in metro Detroit where a giant sinkhole opened up last December.

Tyler Bevier with the Bay Area Transportation Authority

The Bay Area Transportation Authority is asking for more money to expand its bus system in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. BATA has put a millage proposal on the ballot May 2. 

If it passes, the millage rate would go up from .3447 to .5 mill for five years. BATA officials say the tax would raise an additional $1.1 million next year. People who own a home worth $200,000 would pay $16 more per year than they do now.

Northern Michigan has a lot of option in terms of summer music festivals and concerts. On July 9, you can listen to a concert while you sit on the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Glen Arbor Art Association

The 2017 Interlochen Arts Festival lineup was announced today, and it features the likes of ZZ Top, Michael McDonald, Trace Adkins, Diana Ross, OK Go, and more.

But in addition to Interlochen, northern Michigan is home to a wide variety of summer concerts and festivals.


Some Republicans in Michigan are pushing for restrictions to the state’s power to write regulations. State agencies, like the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, write many rules and regulations that don't need legislative approval. 

In the last few years, some Michigan lawmakers have criticized this process. They say that state departments are writing rules that are too strict.

Legislation introduced by one of northern Michigan’s state representatives, Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), would add a new hurdle for state agencies to clear.    

“This would restrict them from enacting administrative rules that would be stricter than federal rules,” Cole says, “without clear and convincing evidence, and or going through the legislative process.”

Cole spoke with IPR News Radio about the legislation:

 


Xavier Verna, the executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts, hopes to bring a vibrant arts and culture scene back to Manistee.
Dan Wanschura

If you lived in Manistee in the early 1900s, The Ramsdell Theatre was the place to be.

Women would put on elegant ballroom gowns, and men would get dressed up in fancy tuxedos for a night of arts and culture.

“That was like every weekend,” says Xavier Verna, the new executive director of the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts. “It was really fun and exciting to have a place that you just always had something to do.”

Max Pixel

Some police officers in northern Michigan wear body cameras; others do not. Two recent incidents in northern Michigan show why cameras can be useful. One incident was in Antrim County. The other in the City of Manistee.

David Cassleman

Advocates for a new Soo Lock have been trying to get Congress to fund the estimated $600 million project for decades. Congress first authorized the construction of the lock in the 1980s but has not come up with the money to pay for it. 

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

A campaign committee controlled by Republican leaders is facing fines and questions over how it lost track of many thousands of dollars during the last election.

Northern Michigan’s congressman says he will hold town hall events in the district next month.

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) talked about his plans during a town hall held over the telephone Thursday night.

 He said locations will probably be announced in the next ten days or so.

Robin Crocker has spent the last three months as the artist in residence at the Parsons Center in Lake Ann. She made a permanent exhibit celebrating the life of artist and educator Jean Parsons.
Tommy Valdez

Most people who knew Jean Parsons, will tell you— she was tough and expected a lot from her students.

Jean never married, and didn’t have any children. So, she spent her days pouring into her art and investing in her students. 

Now, one of her students has created remembrance of her in the Benzie County village of Lake Ann.


Manistee Police Department

A Manistee Police officer shot and killed a man Tuesday night. Police say 73-year-old Lee Milks threatened the officer with an assault rifle before he was shot multiple times.

Manistee Police are not identifying the officer who shot Milks. Chief David Bachman says the officer was conducting “blight enforcement” on 2nd Street, when he saw an old bus parked in Milks’ backyard.

“He made contact with the owner of the bus and asked to take a look at it," says Bachman. "The guy said ‘sure’ and went back in his house and came back out with a rifle.”

Morgan Springer

Research shows the quality of a toddler's education is incredibly important. It often determines a child’s success in the future. However, state and federal dollars typically don’t kick in until a child gets to preschool. Before that – from birth to three years old – families are often on their own.

A new bill would allow gun owners to carry a concealed pistol without a permit from the state.  Right now, gun owners have to get a concealed pistol license, which requires taking a gun safety class among other things.

The "constitutional carry" bill is already law in 13 states.

Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona) is one of the bill’s sponsors. He calls it a “freedom issue,” saying law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t need a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Child care is hard to find in northern Michigan. Parents face year-long waiting lists to find someone to take care of their infants while they’re at work, and some are resorting to illegal providers they find on Facebook or Craigslist.

Mesick Consolidated Schools District website

School officials in Mesick say they need $14.5 million to demolish, rebuild and upgrade their schools. Residents in the district will vote on the millage in May.

Kyle Novy recently completed a 52-song album project, called 'Mount Valor.' And he's released every song for free.
Kyle Novy

Kyle Novy has been a singer-songwriter for a long time. But it had been about 10 years since he released any music. He was still writing songs, but the timing to record them wasn't right.

“I almost think of it like the whole pregnancy process," he explains. "I mean there’s a good nine months of development before this child is ready to be birthed, and like out in the world.”

Courtesy of Matt Morgan

Another retired Marine Corps officer is considering a run for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. This time it’s a Democrat. 

Matt Morgan of Traverse City says he has filed paperwork to challenge Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) next year. 

David Cassleman

Traverse City school officials have voted to cut Spanish class for most elementary school students in a move that the district says will save $400,000.

The board of education for Traverse City Area Pubic Schools met Monday night to vote on the proposal. The board also approved sunsetting the International Baccalaureate program at the middle school level. 

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