Kate Wells

Arts, Culture & Education Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering cultural arts, education, and general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

Eastern Michigan University isn't the only school in Michigan bucking funding incentives
flickr user krossbow / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eastern Michigan University will raise tuition by 7.8%, one of the biggest recent hikes by a public university in the state.  

The school is exceeding a state-imposed 3.2% cap on tuition hikes, which means the school is giving up a $1 million incentive payment it would have received if it had stayed below the cap.  

In-state students will now pay $10,417 in tuition and fees.

EMU says it's spending a lot of money on building improvements and repairs, hiring new faculty, and creating new academic programs for health-care workers, like a physician assistant program.  

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

It's official: Detroit and the suburbs have struck a water deal.

Leaders voted today to let Detroit lease its massive, crumbling water and sewer system to a new, regional board called the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Today’s the deadline for teachers and students to tell the state how Michigan's new standardized test went.

The test is called the M-STEP, and students took it for the first time this year.

Benjamin Chun / Flickr creative commons

The Ann Arbor school board is rethinking how it deals with students who opt out of state tests.

The board is scrapping a controversial proposal to remove kids from magnet schools if they opt out of state tests. An online petition protesting that move got more than 700 signatures.  

Alberto G. / Flickr creative commons

As the Ann Arbor school board considers cracking down on students who opt out of state tests, we’re now getting a clearer picture of why the board is so worried about the “opt out” movement.

The Michigan Department of Education says it could cut a portion of any district’s federal funding, if a single school in that district misses a test-participation requirement for four years in a row.

The district is considering a new requirement for all kids to take the state test, or be excluded from magnet schools and programs.
Ryan Brown

The Ann Arbor school board is considering a new rule that would require all students to take the state standardized test, or risk losing their spots at magnet schools and programs.

Now a parent has responded with an online petition protesting that policy.

Desiree Duell

A Flint artist is creating installations around the city made out of the empty water bottles she and other residents have been drinking.

Desiree Duell says so far she’s collected some 1,500 water bottles from residents who still don’t trust Flint’s tap water.

GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

The Ann Arbor teachers union is battling with the school district over contract negotiations.

Both have filed charges of “unfair labor practice” against the other.

City of Inkster sign.
City of Inkster

The city of Inkster has reached a settlement with Floyd Dent, a man who was beaten by Inkster Police after being pulled over during a traffic stop back in January, according to the offices of Dent's attorney.  

Dent will receive $1.4 million in the settlement, according to his attorney's office. 

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

Detroit expects to shut off water to about 1,000 households this week, according to the city’s water department.

Earlier this month the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department hung about 3,000 door-hangers, warning people they had 10 days to get on a payment plan with the city, or be shut off.

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Detroiters behind on their water bills have a new place to turn for help.

The Heat and Warmth Fund, also known as THAW, has received a $1 million dollar donation to create a new water assistance fund.

Jeff Reutter / Ohio State University

It looks like the toxic bacterial blooms on Lake Erie won't be as bad this summer.

Last August the blooms, which look kind of like algae or pond scum, were dangerous enough that people in Toledo and parts of Michigan couldn't drink their tap water for a few days.

Sal Rodriguez

World-renowned street artist Shepard Fairey has unveiled his new, 180-foot mural in downtown Detroit.

He also opened a new exhibit at the Library Street Collective gallery in the city over the weekend.

Kate Wells

The ACLU of Michigan is suing Ruth Johnson, the Secretary of State, for making it difficult – and sometimes impossible – for transgender people to get a license that accurately reflects their gender.

The policy essentially requires proof of a surgical sex change

If a transgender person wants to change the gender listed on their license or state ID, Johnson’s policy requires them to first amend the gender listed on their birth certificate.

UPDATED AT 7:37 PM on 5/20/15

More scandal today for Aramark, the company that provides food for Michigan's prisons.

A former food supervisor in a Northern Michigan prison is being charged for allegedly trying to hire one prisoner to assault another prisoner, who had reportedly killed one of the supervisor's relatives. 

Michael R. Young worked at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Chippewa County.

Persons with Fungal Infections Linked to Steroid Injections, by State
CDC

 A judge has approved a $200 million settlement for victims of the fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012.

It was caused by a Massachusetts pharmacy called the New England Compounding Center, which was making massive amounts of back pain shots in a dirty lab.

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University

The state is kicking in $3 million to investigate evidence found from thousands of backlogged rape kits in Detroit.

Some 11,000 abandoned rape kits were found in an old Detroit police evidence locker in 2009.

By now they've all been tested for DNA.

As results come in, a lot of kits are pointing to serial rapists, because the same DNA shows up in multiple kits.

But this is when the real work begins.

user william_warby / Flickr

With water shutoffs in Detroit resuming as early as this week for some 18,000 households, activists say many officials are refusing to consider one possible solution: discounted bills for low-income residents.

Otherwise known as an affordability program, some activists say it’s a better option than the current assistance programs – which offer temporary financial help only after people are already behind on their water bills.

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Detroiters owe the city water department millions of dollars in late water bills – at least $47 million, according to a city report back in March.

And that makes rates higher for everybody in the city.

But with shutoffs resuming next week and some 18,000 households in “shutoff status” –  meaning they’re two months behind and owe more than $150 – the city is facing a crucial question.

Andrea Malone has been on and off payment plans for months.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Some 18,000 Detroit households could have their water shut off next week,  less than a year after the city started a program that was supposed to avoid this exact situation.

Payment plans were supposed to keep households from facing shut-offs. But those plans have shown themselves to be a failure.

Matt Picio / Flickr

For years, we've been hearing about a public transportation system that would connect downtown Detroit with three areas: Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Mount Clemens. 

Now, at a kickoff rally in Detroit today, officials announced they'll have those plans ready to go in November, in time to get them on the 2016 ballot.  

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A group of about a dozen activists rallied in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Detroit today.

Last month,an ICE agent fatally shot a 20-year-old black man in Detroit during a police raid. 

Simon Brass / Flickr

The mother of an Ionia County prisoner is suing three prison guards for allegedly allowing her mentally ill son to commit suicide by drinking water nonstop for two hours, despite having placed him on suicide watch.

Kenneth Dalstra, 41, was serving 3 ½ to 75 years for criminal sexual conduct, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

http://www.detroitmi.gov/News/ArticleID/188/Detroit%E2%80%99s-First-Major-Residential-Development-in-Decades-Blends-Historic-Preservation-and-New-Construction-in-Brush-Park#prettyPhoto
City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan today announced what he says is the city's first major housing development in decades.

Some 330 houses, apartments, and retail units will be built in Brush Park, right on the edges of trendy Midtown and Downtown, and should have people living in them sometime in 2017.  

Demand for housing in those areas is booming.

The developers are part of Dan Gilbert’s family of companies.

Ben Carson Twitter / https://twitter.com/realbencarson

Republican Ben Carson formally kicked off his presidential campaign in his hometown of Detroit today, with an event that included a gospel choir, five opera singers from Nashville, and a video ad featuring Mount Rushmore, a soaring bald eagle, and amber waves of grain.  

The retired neurosurgeon and former Fox News contributor is a long-shot candidate in what’s already a crowded primary field.

But he’s hoping he can build on his outsider status, his powerful biography and his tea party popularity.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder rolled out his plan today to overhaul education in Detroit and get Detroit Public Schools out of the deep, deep hole it’s in now.

DPS is reportedly the worst-performing urban school district in the country, with years of falling enrollment and $2 billion in crippling debt.

Kate Wells

Detroit has struck a deal with the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, the Moroun family, which gives the company a strip of city-owned land they need in order to build a second bridge span.

The bargain: a land swap between Detroit and Moroun

The three acres surrounding the Ambassador Bridge are currently part of Riverside Park on the city’s southwest side.

user H.L.I.T. / Flickr

Last year, 876 people died in Michigan car crashes, according to the state police.

Another 71,000 were injured.  

Some of those injuries were catastrophic, leaving people with lifelong brain damage, in wheelchairs, or hooked up to ventilators.

Robbie Howell / Flickr

Michigan's hospitals say they could be forced to make major cuts to their trauma centers if bills to overhaul the state's no-fault auto insurance law go through.

All Michigan drivers are required to buy no-fault auto insurance. A portion of premiums goes into a fund for unlimited medical care for catastrophic crash victims.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Some 5,000 would-be Detroit homeowners are expected to turn out tomorrow for a mortgage workshop, according to the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America.

Attendance is the required first step for taking part in a new Detroit mortgage program boasting no down payments, closing costs, or credit checks.

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