Latest Northern Michigan News

Interlochen Public Radio connects you to the stories, people and places of northern Michigan.

Northern Michigan’s largest weekly newspaper has a new owner. Luke Haase took over publishing the Northern Express this week. Haase owns the Traverse City Business News, a printed monthly, and The Ticker, a digital daily news feed.

The Express was owned for 23 years by the guys who started it, Bob Downes and George Foster. The two gave a strong endorsement to the new owner in a farewell column. Luke Haase says their steady track record has created a loyal readership for the paper.

National Weather Service

Ice on northern Lake Michigan is starting to cut off lake effect snow in the region.

The lake is entirely frozen over, north of Beaver Island. That means winds coming out of the northwest will not pick up moisture from the lake and drop it as snow on places like Petoskey and Gaylord.

Braving Conditions

Dec 27, 2013
Linda Stephan

About 65,000 Michiganders are still without power after the weekend storm. The ice that caused most of the damage was to our south... but roads were pretty rough in Traverse City Sunday midday. That's when we snapped this picture of two bikers and a runner braving conditions on Bay Street! The bikers were using something new called "fat tires." We talked about the new biking phenomenon earlier this year.

Kelli Stapleton Waives Preliminary Exam

Dec 26, 2013

Kelli Stapleton made a brief appearance in Benzie County District Court today. Stapleton waived her right to a preliminary exam, which allows a felony charge of attempted murder to be bound over to Circuit Court.

The Elberta mother stands accused of a murder-suicide attempt. She remains behind bars. Her autistic daughter, Issy Stapleton, recovers from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kelli Stapleton’s attorney also asked the court to reduce bond today, calling the current amount "excessive."

Extremely cold weather may have played a part in the damper on hunters’ success in bagging a wolf in the Upper Peninsula. It’s been almost two and a half weeks since a wolf was taken by a hunter.

It was December fifth, to be exact, when the last wolf was bagged. Twenty wolves have been taken so far, and it’s not likely that number will reach the limit of 43 set by state wildlife officials. 

WE Energies

A coal plant in Michigan's Upper Peninsula will not power homes and businesses below the Mackinac Bridge. Wolverine Power Cooperative announced today it is dropping a plan to invest in the Presque Isle Power Plant.

Wolverine Power supplies electricity to rural areas in lower Michigan through utilities like Cherryland Electric and Great Lakes Energy. Wolverine was planning to become a joint owner of the Presque Isle plant in Marquette. The coal plant is almost 40-years old and needs expensive upgrades.

Northern Michigan Roads To Get Funding Boost

Dec 19, 2013
Peter Payette

State lawmakers have announced more than $10.5 million dollars for road improvement projects in northern Michigan.

Major projects include $2 million dollars for the reconstruction of Old US-31 from Cadillac to Manton. In Traverse City, $1.5 million dollars will go toward Division Street and a West Front Street bridge. There are also projects in Kingsley and Empire Township.

Almost $850,000 dollars have been allocated for upgrades and repairs on US-31 in Petoskey.

Gwen Drews

  One-in-four Michiganders say they have been diagnosed at some point with depression or anxiety, but few people have had insurance coverage for treatment.

That changes next year. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more people will be covered under Medicaid and employer insurance plans.

City Adds Limits To Summer Festivals On The Bay

Dec 17, 2013
Marada/Flickr

It looks like the Traverse City bayfront is already booked to capacity for major events in 2014.

In addition to the cherry festival and film festival, the two other major bayfront events for 2014 will likely be Taste of Traverse City on June 7th, and a a joint event has reserved the space for August. Porterhouse Productions plans the Traverse City Music Festival partnered with the Traverse City Waterman Challenge once again this August. Permits have not yet been issued, but the events have dates reserved with the city.

Michigan League for Public Policy

In many parts of northern Michigan the rate of childhood poverty is similar to, or below, the state average. But poverty has grown much faster than it has across the rest of the state, according to a five-year trend published today. The numbers go through 2011, with childhood poverty in the Traverse Bay region peaking in 2010.


Jail Lobby Closes To Homeless

Dec 11, 2013

Disorderly and drunk homeless people in Grand Traverse County are no longer welcomed to warm overnight in the lobby of the county jail. Leaders at the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department say the service, often used by people who have been kicked out of area homeless shelters, is a disruption.

Undersheriff Nathan Alger says jail is not the right place for the homeless.

Manistee's Vogue Theater Opens

Dec 6, 2013
The Vogue Theater

Manistee’s newly restored Vogue Theater in Manistee opens to the public Saturday – with free screenings through the weekend.

“It’s been a long three years for lots of volunteers and it felt like maybe this day wasn’t going to happen. So I think that there’s some that are sort-of in shock and don’t believe it’s really coming together. But for the most part, people are really excited,” says Beth Wallace, the fund development coordinator for the Vogue Theater.

Among this weekend’s films are “Nebraska,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

A state board awarded $31 million dollars Wednesday to buy or improve properties for public recreation in Michigan. Several of the grants are slated for the Grand Traverse area.The state would spend up to $2.5 million dollars to buy just over eight acres at the northeast tip of the Old Mission Peninsula. The former private campground and marina would be developed into a boat launch that Peninsula Township has agreed to maintain.“The recreational resources that we have in northern Michigan help drive our economy.

Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy will defend its wind farm before a Mason County appeals board Wednesday night. The utility is resisting an order by the county to tone down the noise from several of its turbines.

Last summer, a consultant found that noise from four of the eight turbines it tested exceeded what’s allowed by Mason County’s wind ordinance. In September, the planning commission ordered Consumers Energy to submit a plan to reduce the noise.

Can there be too much of a good thing?

That question is buzzing around Traverse City now that summer is behind them.

Some residents are saying they're not happy with the burst of festivals drawing throngs of visitors to Traverse City. Others say those festivals and those visitors add up to jobs for locals and dollars pumped into the economy.

What's the balance that can be struck as Traverse City works to develop a blue economy based on its beautiful freshwater location?

John Flesher, reporter for The Associated Press, and Ken Winter, the longtime Petoskey newspaper editor and publisher, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Traverse City's mayor will serve 18 months of probation for drinking and driving. Michael Estes was sentenced today. His probation will include alcohol and drug screenings and attending 12-step meetings three times a week.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Bob Kooney says requirements like the 12-step meetings make the sentence more restrictive than what is typical is for a first-time offense.

"Also, an 18 month probation is a longer period of time than typical," says Kooney. "What we normally see on a first offense is 12 months."

Matthew Fletcher / Indigenous Law & Policy Center at MSU College of Law

A faceoff between the state of Michigan and an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe over a proposed casino reached the U.S. Supreme Court Monday. The arguments were about whether tribes are immune from lawsuits for enterprises that take place off of reservation land. 

Many small towns across the country are using special events to attract visitors and commerce. The strategy has been a big hit in places like Aspen, Colo., and Park City, Utah, whose names have become synonymous with major festivals.

But it can take a toll. Some residents in the northern Michigan town of Traverse City complain that they're suffering from festival fatigue and would like a little less excitement.

Tom Carr

A small, grassroots group is helping feed people in Buckley and Mesick this Thanksgiving, and it all got started when a local pastor got a woman thinking about what she can do to help people.

People lined up in both towns to pick up frozen turkeys, as well as boxes filled with potatoes, stuffing mixes, pie and everything else needed for a Thanksgiving dinner.

Jill Taylor, who started the program with several friends, says the importance of the dinner goes way beyond the food.  

Congress has passed new legislation to try to prevent another deadly fungal meningitis outbreak... But, will it be enough?

*Listen to the audio above.

Michigan Joins With Federal Probe Over Last Year's Meningitis Outbreak

Nov 25, 2013

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is joining forces with federal authorities to investigate last year’s fungal meningitis outbreak.

“We have two forces pulling one wagon to provide justice for victims,” says Schuette.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz Monday joined Schuette to announce they’ll coordinate their separate criminal investigations. Ortiz says this cooperation will give state and federal officials access to a bigger picture.

Eleven Wolves Taken So Far

Nov 25, 2013

The hunt is half way over and so far hunters have taken 11 of 43 wolves allowed by state law this year. This is the first hunting season in the Upper Peninsula since the animal was removed from the endangered species list.

Bus Changes Leave Some Riders Feeling Stranded

Nov 25, 2013
Tom Carr

The Bay Area Transportation Authority has taken recent steps to get a wider range of customers on board, but extending service to some areas has meant leaving others feeling stranded.

"The cilia in my middle ear are gone, so I cannot drive because I have no balance," says Sandee Brown. "So you don't want to see me on the road."


Third Level Crisis Intervention Center will merge into one of the region’s largest foster care agencies. Third Level is known for helping homeless youth and suicide prevention efforts. It will become part of Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan.

Third Level will keep its name and all its programs will continue.

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