News

Your connection to northern Michigan news.

Kate Pillsbury (left), Emilee Petersmark (center) and Ben Zito (right) of The Crane Wives perform in IPR's Studio A.
Dan Wanschura

When The Crane Wives formed eight years ago, the band featured a straightforward acoustic sound and performed around the Grand Rapids area. Much has changed since 2010 though, as the band has evolved to a more amped-up, electric sound and has gained a national following.

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

Drivers for the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft are welcome back to the Traverse City airport. For the last month, the companies have been banned.

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.

Lindsay Lou performs in IPR's Studio A. She grew up in Kingsford but now lives in Nashville.
Dan Wanschura

Ten years ago, Lindsay Lou made the decision to quit her day job as a biologist and tour the country – and the world – as a full-time musician.


Brad Aspey

When Dan Nickels makes a mistake, he doesn’t throw it away. He keeps it. In fact, Dan puts his mistakes on display .


Grand Traverse County is doing a better job of funding retirement plans for its employees, according to a new report from the Municipal Employees Retirement System, or MERS.

MERS is an independent organization that invests retirement funds for Michigan municipalities.

FBI

Police are stepping up their efforts to solve a five-year-old hit-and-run case in Traverse City. The F.B.I. is offering a $25,000 reward for any information lading to a conviction in the death of 29-year-old Kelly Hurlbert.

On July 5, 2013, Hurlbert was riding her bike home from work at North Peak Brewing Company when she was struck by a car on Washington Street. Evidence at the scene showed that Hurlbert was dragged for more than a block.

U.S. Coast Guard

Torch Lake in Antrim County is often the site of huge Fourth of July parties. But not this year.

In the past, the parties have attracted as many as 10,000 people who play loud music and tend to leave a pile of trash. But this year, the crowds were smaller and more law enforcement officers were on patrol.

“One thing that helped a lot this year is Fourth of July was on a Wednesday,” said Joe Clark, marine deputy for the Antrim County Sheriff’s office. “So there wasn’t as many people on the sandbar as there’s been in the past.”

Jillian Speece (right) and her husband Nathaniel Hoff (left) perform "Mayflies" in IPR's Studio A.
Dan Wanschura

The Bergamot is the husband and wife duo made up of Nathaniel Hoff and Jillian Speece. The Brooklyn-based couple first brought their indie pop sound to northern Michigan in 2012, when they performed at the Traverse City Film Festival.

Aaron Selbig

Some lawmakers in Lansing say the entire Straits of Mackinac need to be an anchor free zone – permanently.

Governor Rick Snyder temporarily made the Straits an anchor free zone. That was after an anchor damaged the oil and gas pipeline, Enbridge Line 5, and caused cables to leak mineral oil into the water.

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.

The TCFF recently launched its Student U program, which gives free movie tickets to high school and college students.
Dan Wanschura

Students will be able to watch films for free at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival. The festival recently announced the launch of it’s TCFF Student U program, which offers 10 tickets to each accepted high school and college students.

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.

Aaron Selbig

IPR’s series “Irredeemable" has won two national awards from Public Radio News Directors, Incorporated. 

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.

NASA

Thirty years ago, global warming became front page news in the United States. That was when a NASA scientist first told the U.S. Senate that carbon pollution was warming the earth. In this call-in hour, we discuss how we’re doing communicating on the issue in northern Michigan today, and how we can do better at this divisive time.

Plus we talk about how people in northern Michigan are taking action.


Drew Hale (center) says he adds northern Michigan flare to his country music.
The Drew Hale Band

A couple years ago, Traverse City singer Drew Hale burst onto the country music scene when he won the national Country Showdown competition in Nashville. He got a $100,000 prize and the title of Best New Act in Country Music.

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.

Aaron Selbig

A new federal law requiring stricter background checks could force some child care providers out of business. Starting in October, all adults living in a home with a day care will have to be cleared by the F.B.I.

The new regulations forbid anyone convicted of a violent crime – or any crime against children – from living in a day care home. Anyone with a misdemeanor drug conviction would be banned for five years.

Endangered plovers face new threat: snowy owls

Jun 20, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new predator has emerged for piping plovers in the Great Lakes.

Snowy owls were recently seen eating plovers in several locations along the Great Lakes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in lower Michigan and Vermilion Point in the Upper Peninsula.

Caroline MacGregor

A group of veterans who took part in a secret military operation in China during WWII were in Traverse City last week, celebrating their 62nd reunion.

The men were part of SACO - the Sino-American Cooperative Organization. It was an effort between the U.S. Navy and the National Military Council of China put together just weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Warm temperatures help cherry crop

Jun 19, 2018
Peter Payette

After a slow start to the growing season, cherry farmers are gearing up for the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City starting June 30.  Cherries are some of the first crops to bloom in Michigan, and officials say early spring weather can significantly impact their growth.

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