Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Lindsey has worked as a reporter at radio stations in both West and Southeast Michigan, and her work has been recognized by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan AP. She's a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Specs Howard School of Media Arts.

Q&A

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Reporting from a hot air balloon was one of the scariest. Trying to bubble-wrap my recording equipment to come with me down a giant waterslide took the most preparation and ingenuity. Mostly I remember people; so many downtrodden, truthful, funny, inspiring, regular-everyday people. Nearly everyone I meet and talk to shapes how I view life in at least the slightest way.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio?
"Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's hilarious. "On the Media" is a very, very close second.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
Mostly, I'm proud of what we do and the stories we produce.

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The internet! What did anyone do without it! I mean, I remember life without it, but it's amazing how much I rely on it every day.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
It depends on the season. I love wakeboarding in the summer, hanging out on the beach, going on long walks with my dog Lola, grilling. In the winter I wish I could hibernate. I do enjoy snowboarding and movies and warm drinks indoors then.

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise!

This week, we’ve told you about efforts to clean up the old Velsicol Chemical plant. There’s a threat to the local drinking water supply after the first attempt to clean up the plant failed. Birds still die from DDT, decades after the plant stopped producing it.

But we haven't told you who's paying to fix it.


A musician who was jailed last summer for refusing to stop playing his guitar on a sidewalk is suing the city of Saugatuck in federal court.

The city says the sidewalks are too packed in the summer to allow unrestricted entertainment. Musicians can play in city parks without permits.

Mark Brush

 

About 10 years ago, a weird chemical started showing up in the drinking water in St. Louis, Michigan.

It was a byproduct of DDT. The insecticide is now banned in the U.S., but DDT was manufactured in St. Louis for 20 years.

Now, the city is working to get a new source of drinking water. 

Official photo / House Democrats

Officials in Kalamazoo County will begin counting nearly 82,000 ballots by hand Monday morning.

Democrat Sean McCann lost his bid for state Senate by 59 votes – less than one-tenth of one percentage point.

Besides it being a tight race, McCann also heard of several problems on Election Day, like ballot tabulator machines getting jammed.

McCann will pay for the recount. It’ll take at least a couple days to complete.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union is bringing a class-action lawsuit against Muskegon County on behalf of current and former female inmates at the jail.

ACLU attorney Miriam Auckerman alleges women at the jail are forced to shower and use the toilet in front of male guards. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Michigan are protesting the death of Eric Garner. It's the second time protesters have come out in two weeks. Previous rallies took place after a grand jury decided not to charge a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Missouri.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Staff at the Palisades Nuclear Plant will highlight the work done to update the plant, during a public open house in South Haven tonight.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Rose says they’ll talk about a big project to replace almost all the control rod drives that have been problematic over the past decade.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_Aids_Day_Ribbon.png

Health officials across the state are urging people to get tested for HIV. Monday is World AIDS Day.

There are an estimated 21,300 people living with HIV in the state, according to Michigan’s Department of Community Health. The number of diagnoses outpaces deaths associated with the virus, so the number of people living with HIV is up.  

MDCH reports an average of 809 new cases were diagnosed each year from 2008 to 2012.

Almost two-thirds of those living with the virus live in metro Detroit. The impact on black males is the greatest.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Monday is the deadline to give federal regulators feedback on a plan to cut carbon emissions in the United States by 30% by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 1.6 million comments have been filed so far.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A former Kent County commissioner was sentenced to a year in jail this week.  Michael Wawee Junior pleaded no contest earlier this fall to a felony embezzlement charge.

Wawee is accused of overcharging families for the engraving of grave markers while working as a salesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.

The Republican from the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker was arrested earlier in February. He resigned later that month.

Wawee will also have to pay more than $200,000 in restitution. He’ll be on probation for three years.

drtel / Creative Commons

Plans for a new school in West Michigan for students in kindergarten through college are moving forward. The school will focus on science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

There was some controversy when news of the school first came out this spring.

Jerry Zandstra represents the non-profit group that’s buying the massive pyramid-shaped building from furniture-maker Steelcase.

Courtesy photo / Holland BPW

Federal regulators are proposing new rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and it looks like one community in west Michigan has a decent head start.

In case you missed it over the summer, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing cutting carbon emissions by 30% by 2030.

Power plants are the biggest producers of carbon emissions in the U.S.

Here in Michigan, coal powers half of all homes and businesses. So utilities are probably going to have to stop burning so much coal in order to meet the requirements, assuming they are approved.

The City of Holland owns a coal plant. The James De Young plant is 75 years old.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

ArtPrize, the big art competition in Grand Rapids, announced Thursday it’ll debut in Dallas in 2016.

But the real news isn’t Dallas so much. It’s that there’s talk of even more competitions in cities across the country. And it means that ArtPrize in Grand Rapids will make money from licensing the brand to those cities.

In ArtPrize, the public votes for the winner. Juried prizes are awarded too. Those juried prizes have been getting bigger each year. Winners get cash. More than $500,000 was awarded to the winners this fall.

Official photo / House Democrats

A state Representative from Kalamazoo says he wants the votes from November’s election recounted.

Democrat Sean McCann ran against Republican State Rep. Margaret O’Brien for the state Senate. He lost by 59 votes. That’s less than one-tenth-of-one-percent of the total votes cast.

“We really want to make sure that everyone’s vote counted. We heard of some people with problems at precincts – some tabulators jamming,” McCann said.

“When I ran for student body president at Western Michigan University the race was pretty close, too, but not by this close of a margin,” he added. McCann won that race.

McCann will have to fork over at least $1,000 to pay to recount the 80,000 plus votes.

“We don’t necessarily know whether or not the outcome will change. You know it only takes one vote in the end to win,” he said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three of the five school districts that face more scrutiny from Michigan’s Department of Treasury have reduced their general fund deficits last school year. That’s according to independent audits recently filed to the state. But some still face serious, ongoing problems. Here’s a breakdown of how the districts ended the 2013-14 school year.

Biologycorner / Creative Commons

State education officials have updated standardized testing for public school students across Michigan. Details of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress were announced Thursday.

The new tests, known as M-STEP, replace the 44-year-old Michigan Educational Assessment Program.

Last spring the state was set to switch over from the MEAP to a test called "Smarter Balanced.” But lawmakers balked at the idea, because the test aligned with the controversial Common Core standards.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Lawyers say Grand Rapids Public School administrators didn’t do enough to provide students a safe learning environment at one of its high schools.

Jamila Williams, a former math teacher at Grand Rapids University Prep Academy, was convicted of four counts of criminal sexual conduct for having sex with underage boys. She’s now in prison.

At a press conference today, the mothers of two of the victims claimed their sons lost friends, became depressed, and had academic problems because of the abuse. The mothers were not named to protect the privacy of their children.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials are working on a massive long-term plan to restore habitat in the Grand River and revitalize downtown.

Initially, the plan was just to restore the river rapids that gave Michigan’s second-largest city its name.

But now Grand Rapids city planner Suzanne Schultz says the plan is much broader.

“This is huge, really, really huge, but it’s exciting,” Schultz said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s apple and cherry growers are happy with this year’s crop.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for apple growers. They had the worst year on record two years ago because of an early freeze. But they had the best year on record last fall, despite a major labor shortage.

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, including Michigan's.

The court's ruling counters rulings from other courts that have ruled against the bans.

The justices reiterated the question in front of them is not whether gay marriage is a good idea, but whether the 14th amendment prohibits a state from defining marriage.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week voters in four out of five counties approved special millages to fix and maintain local roads.

Road funding has been a hot topic the last few elections as state lawmakers struggle to come up with a way to fund road repairs.

County Road Association of Michigan Director Denise Donahue says more local governments are asking voters for dedicated road millages.

Allyson Limon / Flickr

Oakland County is launching a new initiative to help grow tech companies. It’s part of the county’s larger effort to diversify its automotive-dominated economy.

Irene Spanos directs economic development for Oakland County. She says it's already home to nearly 2,000 IT and communication firms that employ more than 42,000 people.

“Oakland County goes on these trade missions around the world and we talk about some of the work that some of our tech companies are working on globally – they don’t think that it’s coming from Michigan,” Spanos said, “We need to change that.”

Jacob Enos / Creative Commons

Some residents and business owners in Kalamazoo want tighter restrictions on where people can panhandle. The city says the proposed changes come in response to just a few people who are “aggressive and intrusive” around the Kalamazoo Mall and Bronson Park.

Tonight, commissioners will consider an amendment that outlines the “right to be left alone” – making it illegal to ask for spare change from anyone sitting outside on a restaurant patio or on a bench at a public park.

ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin believes a judge would find the amendment unconstitutional.

An internal investigation shows a team of police officers investigating Bridge Card fraud in Lansing violated department policies by eating confiscated food. The Lansing Police Department announced it took disciplinary action against 17 officers Friday.

Back in 2013, a woman who dated a Lansing police officer filed a complaint with the department. Michigan State Police investigated what happened to roughly $14,000 in food and other goods police seized. But the state attorney general’s office declined to file criminal charges earlier this year.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today two toxic hot spots in Michigan have been cleaned up.

Work is now complete at White Lake in Muskegon County and Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula.

The sites are on a list of about 40 toxic hot spots surrounding the Great Lakes; 14 sites are in Michigan.

Update: The state Dept. of Community Health now says it is monitoring nine people who traveled to west Africa, not 10 as it previously reported.  

The state Department of Community Health says it’s monitoring nine people in Michigan to see if they develop Ebola symptoms after they returned to the U.S. from west Africa. But health officials say none of them is  displaying any symptoms to suggest they might have contracted the Ebola virus on their travels.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters in Michigan’s second-largest city will decide whether to establish term limits for the mayor and city commission next Tuesday.

The proposed change to the city’s charter would limit commissioners and mayors to eight years in office. Commissioners would be able to serve for eight years if elected mayor.

Opponents of term limits say there’s no need for them because voters can kick people out of office by not re-electing them.

Official portrait

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says the United States had no real choice but to get involved in the battle against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“You can’t sit still and do nothing when you have a group like ISIS whose goal is basically total terror,” Levin said during a visit to Grand Rapids this week.

Levin says the Islamic State threatens to terrorize countries neighboring Iraq and Syria and even the U.S., if left unchecked.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Amtrak riders in Grand Rapids will notice a huge difference the next time they board a train. A new $6 million station opened today.

Grand Rapids' old Amtrak station was tiny, dingy and outdated.

Tim Hefner, director of Michigan Department of Transportation’s office of rail, says the old station was supposed to be a temporary one when it was built almost 30 years ago.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony Monday, state and local officials cracked jokes about the old “Am-shack."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

You may have heard of ArtPrize. It’s an art competition in Grand Rapids where hundreds of thousands of tourists flock every fall to vote for their favorite art.

ArtPrize’s founder wanted to start a public conversation about art. History Prize founder Mara MacKay wants to start a conversation about history.

“History is a social common denominator for all of us,” MacKay said. “Our endeavor is really to help with an artistic expression and provide the opportunities to remember and articulate the past.”

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