Latest Northern Michigan News

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

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.

It's Official! Flotilla2 Breaks World Record

Nov 21, 2013
Linda Stephan / Interlochen Public Radio

The Guinness Book of World Records confirmed Wednesday that Suttons Bay broke a record with Flotilla2. The August 31st event corralled 2,099 canoes and kayaks together on the bay creating a massive, multi-colored flotilla.

Organizer Kate Thornhill estimates the effort raised about $45,000 dollars for student programs in the cash-strapped local school district. She says she now hopes to boost the bottom line with sales of world record memorabilia.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A fish that was nearly wiped out of the Great Lakes is on its way to a full recovery now in Lake Huron. Lake trout are suddenly doing what biologists have been trying to get them to do for more than 40 years: make babies. The change might mean a more stable and resilient ecosystem in the future.

Jim Johnson didn't think he'd see the day when lake trout recovered in Lake Huron. Johnson runs Michigan’s Fisheries Research Station in Alpena. He’s been working on the lake for 25 years and for most of that time it looked hopeless.

New Oversight For Pharmacies After Meningitis Outbreak

Nov 19, 2013

More than a year after the fungal meningitis outbreak first hit, 22 Michiganders are dead and lawmakers in Washington have now passed a bill that's supposed to prevent a similar outbreak from happening again. 

The bill gives the FDA a way to oversee pharmacies that are making and shipping huge amounts of drugs. The Massachusetts clinic that started this meningitis outbreak was making lots of drugs, with little oversight.

Michigan Lawyer Alyson Oliver recalled her visit to the pharmacy early this year:

Mackinac Island Historic District Commission

Developers proposing a new hotel on Mackinac Island will appeal to a state review board. An appeal filed for Ira Green and Melanie Libby says the Mackinac Island Historic District Commission acted arbitrarily in September when it rejected plans for the Main Dock Inn.

The three-story hotel would be right in front of the oldest ferry terminal on the island. People disembarking the Arnold Line would walk underneath the upper floors of the hotel to get to Main Street.

Emily Orpin/Flickr

Munson Healthcare in Traverse City has a new contract with insurer Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan. It includes incentives to keep people out of the hospital, to reduce infections and return visits.

Munson CEO Ed Ness says it’s a big departure from contracts of the past.

“If we’re successful, really for the first time much of our payment is based on our quality, rather than just providing volume,” he says.

Munson Shifts Policy On Outside Hospice Providers

Nov 12, 2013
Munson Healthcare

Munson Hospice is now the only hospice allowed to offer patient care inside Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. The change was made November first.

President of Home Health Shari Wilson says patients served by other area hospice providers will no longer enter the hospital for in-patient care.

Larry McGahey / USFWS Headquarters/Flickr

Michigan wildlife officials are dismissing claims that bad information led to the state’s upcoming wolf hunt.

Opponents of the hunt are asking Governor Rick Snyder to suspend it based on a recent MLive report. It raised questions about a number of alleged wolf encounters with humans, pets, and livestock in the U.P.

U.P. Senator Apologizes For Fictionalized Wolf Threat Story

Nov 8, 2013

The state senator who led the campaign for a wolf hunt has now apologized for using a fictional story to highlight the need to remove the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list.

Tom Casperson, a state senator from Escanaba, sponsored a resolution in 2011 urging the federal government to de-list the wolf. Casperson included a story about children at an Upper Peninsula day care who were threatened by three wolves.

He admitted Thursday on the Senate floor that story wasn’t exactly true.

NOAA

100 years ago this week, the deadliest storm ever hit the Great Lakes. What’s known as the White Hurricane delivered a one-two punch of blizzard conditions and 90 mile an hour winds.

In its wake, it left more than 250 mariners dead and a dozen ships driven to the bottom.

It’s nearly a lost episode in Great Lakes lore except to those in the maritime trades. But meteorologist Jim Keysor with the National Weather Service in Gaylord thinks it’s important to remember.

Linda Stephan

Schools Struggle
School districts outside of Leelanau County had a tough time with voters yesterday.

Voters in Traverse City, Kalkaska, and Elk Rapids rejected bond proposals to repair and renovate school buildings and other facilities. Unofficial results show very narrow margins. In Traverse City the main request to borrow $35 million failed by about one percent of the vote. In Kalkaska, less than 30 votes out of more than 1,000 tipped the difference against the request.

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