Latest Northern Michigan News

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

A new group devoted to veterans’ issues has sprung up in Northern Michigan. The woman behind it is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who believes her father suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. She figures at least one million U.S. veterans out there suffer the same today and that the problem has been largely misdiagnosed.

When Linda Fletcher’s dad died, she cleaned out his desk and found an article about him receiving a Silver Star for his valor in Italy. Fletcher, who was an army nurse, realized he had never spoken to her about the medal.

Racial Hate Mail Sent To Interlochen Employee

Oct 28, 2013

The head of Interlochen Center for the Arts says he was shocked by racial hate mail sent to one of the school’s employees.

Three typewritten letters came anonymously to a residence hall counselor, who is black. Interlochen’s President, Jeff Kimpton, says it appears the letters were written by someone on campus.

“We’ve never had an incident that we can recall on this campus of this kind,” says Kimpton. He says reading the letters made him almost ill, “thinking that this could happen at this place.”

A Grand Traverse County deputy testified in federal court he had no choice but to shoot Craig Carlson after a stand off at the man’s Interlochen home in 2007. Wednesday’s testimony was the first time Charlie Jetter has spoken publically about the shot he fired, ending an 11-hour barricade.

Arriving On Scene
Deputy Charlie Jetter lived close to Craig Carlson’s home in Interlochen. He was one of the earlier officers to arrive on the scene as part of a regional SWAT team.

Recent deaths from drowning in Grand Traverse County have put water safety in the high school curriculum. All freshmen in Traverse City schools will spend a few hours this year learning about the dangers of water.

Such instruction is less common that you might think up north.

If you grew up downstate, you might have taken swimming lessons at school and learned some of the basic safety mantras like, “reach or throw, don’t go” if a swimmer is in trouble. But few schools up north have swimming pools. Harbor Springs is a notable exception.

When Alan Lomax Visited Michigan

Oct 15, 2013

Legendary folklorist Alan Lomax visited Michigan in 1938 to record and photograph indigenous music and musicians. IPR talks to the Library of Congress' Todd Harvey: Curator of the Alan Lomax Collection. Harvey is bringing songs and images to the Dennos Museum Center November 1. 

Mixed Reviews For New Northern Michigan Roundabout

Oct 15, 2013

Driving through the intersection of M-115 and M-37 east of Mesick recently got easier.

Or harder, depending on whom you ask.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has replaced a blinking red and yellow light at this busy corner between Traverse City and Cadillac with a roundabout.

Rich Howes, who co-owns a trucking company north of the intersection, says it’s mostly a good thing.

Historic Beach House To Be Demolished

Oct 11, 2013

A Beach House with some historic significance west of Mackinaw City will be torn down. Emmet County officials say it doesn’t serve the growing number of people using the county’s Dark Sky Park.

Officials estimate the Beach House needs more than a million dollars of work to bring it up to code. They left open the possibility for a private group or person to step forward with funds to save the building. But there were no takers.

County administrator Lyn Johnson says the plan is to build a new structure to handle several hundred people instead of several dozen.

A record number of Michigan schools are struggling to stay in the black and a law put in place this summer allows state officials to dissolve and consolidate small schools with big problems. So far the headlines have been from some of Michigan's more populated counties, but some schools in the north that are paying close attention to changes from Lansing.

A Success Story

More Funding For Prescription Drug Drop Off

Sep 30, 2013

A Northern Michigan group will get more funding to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs. Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council has collected more than 6,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals over the last four years.

A national study finds traces of over the counter drugs in 85% of waterways tested. Federal environmental regulators now consider it an emerging concern.

Game Of Pickleball Picks Up In Traverse City Area

Sep 26, 2013

When IPR talked to pickleball players in the area we were told again and again, “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America.” Which seems like it would be a tough thing to measure. But it's clear, at least, that pickleball is gaining popularity in northern Michigan.

The racquet sport was invented in the Seattle area in the 1960’s. It’s played on a court with wooden or plastic paddles and a hollow, ventilated plastic ball known as a wiffle ball.

Game Of Pickleball Picks Up In Traverse City Area

Sep 26, 2013

When IPR talked to pickleball players in the area we were told again and again, "Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America." Which seems like it would be a tough thing to measure. But it's clear, at least, that pickleball is gaining popularity in northern Michigan.

The racquet sport was invented in the Seattle area in the 1960's. It's played on a court with wooden or plastic paddles and a hollow, ventilated plastic ball known as a wiffle ball.

And The Winner Is ... The Cherry Bowl

Sep 12, 2013

It’s good news for the theater because starting next year – only digital theaters will have access to Hollywood’s new releases. Theaters that can’t afford the digital conversion may eventually go out of business. Honda sponsored the contest. It awards new digital equipment to the drive-ins to get the most votes in a poll. Movie-goers were able to vote online and by texting on their phones. 

Family Reports Issy Stapleton Is Walking, Talking

Sep 9, 2013
The Status Woe / The Status Woe

The father of an autistic girl from Benzie County says Isabelle Stapleton is making “incredible strides” in her recovery.

At The Drive-In

Sep 9, 2013

Across the country – hometown drive-in theater owners wonder whether the transformation to digital technology will sink their businesses. Many drive-ins face having to raise upwards of 80,000-dollars to install digital projectors… or they’ll be cut off from the world of modern cinema and lucrative new releases.

The Cherry Bowl Drive-In in Honor is no exception.

But many are hoping community spirit over the drive-in will be enough to save the day.

Tri-District Virtual School To Compete This Fall

Aug 16, 2013

Three small northern Michigan school districts are teaming up next year to form a new cyber school. Suttons Bay, Manistee and Crawford AuSable all had their own online programs before joining forces for the Great Lakes K12 Virtual School. The consortium will serve all of the northern Lower Peninsula but it will have to compete with two statewide cyber schools.

Community Members Gather To Learn Native Language

Aug 13, 2013

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are in the midst of a three-day language and culture camp at the tribe’s Leelanau County Pow Wow grounds.

Tribes from Manistee to Harbor Springs and beyond are working to bring back the first language of the Great Lakes. Only two members of the Grand Traverse Band are fluent today. That’s, in part, because generations of Indian children were forced to attend English schools and leave their language and culture behind.

Northern Michigan Could Become Federal Drone Test Site

Aug 12, 2013

A group based in Alpena is competing for a chance to test unmanned aircraft. It is still not legal for most private groups to fly drones, so the group is competing against 24 other applicants nationwide to be one of six federal test sites, the first of their kind.

The designation would allow the statewide cluster of experts known as the Michigan Advanced Aerial System Consortium to fly drones, even for commercial interests.

Interlochen Public Radio went on the air 50 years ago. A lot of big ideas have shaped northern Michigan since then. We’ve highlighted a few in our summer series, 50 Years of Big Ideas, but by far the most recent idea is the refurbishing of the State Theatre in downtown Traverse City.

A new kind of community garden officially opened with a ribbon cutting today near Traverse City. It’s a solar energy garden funded by customers who lease solar panels from Cherryland Electric Cooperative.

The SUN Alliance, is the first of its kind in Michigan. Electric customers can buy a share in a solar project that’s installed and maintained by the company.

The co-op already has installed the first array of 80 panels on its property and 80 more customers are on a list waiting for panels to arrive for a second array.

A special Michigan grand jury, including members from Grand Traverse County, will investigate meningitis deaths and illnesses linked to tainted steroid injections. The grand jury will look into whether any laws were broken in connection with an outbreak that has killed 16 people in Michigan. To people have died from the tainted injections since the request for a grand jury was originally filed. 

Same-Sex Couple Marries In Harbor Springs

Mar 18, 2013

Two men from Boyne City were the first same sex couple in Michigan to be legally married. The ceremony took place Friday, only minutes after the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians signed a statue to legalize gay marriage within the tribe.

The two men have been together 30 years. Newlywed Tim LaCroix is a member of the Odawa tribe. His spouse, Gene Barfield is not. Under their tribal marriage, Barfield will now get spousal benefits from the tribe.

Fat Tires Catch On Up North

Mar 8, 2013
Courtesy of Einstein Cycles

This winter you may have noticed bikes with unusually fat tires rolling around northern Michigan. Jason Lowetz says sales of fat tire bikes took off this year. Lowetz owns Einstein Cycles in Traverse City. He says the fat tires allow riders to "float" on sand and snow.

A northern Michigan Indian tribe will recognize marriages among gay and lesbian couples. The chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Dexter McNamara, says he will sign a new marriage statute into law next Friday at his office in Harbor Springs.

“This is about people being happy,” McNamara said in the email announcement. He says denying same-sex marriage rights is discriminatory under an equal-protection clause found in the tribe’s constitution.

The tribe’s legislative body passed the marriage statute earlier this week in a split vote: five to four.

Harbor Springs Tribe Takes Step Toward Same-Sex Marriage

Mar 6, 2013

An Indian tribe in Harbor Springs could become the third tribe in the nation to recognize gay marriage. The governing council of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians approved the proposal this week.

Even though Michigan's constitution bans same-sex marriage, native tribes have their own sovereign authority. 

Annette VanDeCar says tribal leaders are recognizing a long native tradition of honoring "two spirit people."