Sarah Cwiek

Sarah Cwiek - Detroit Reporter/Producer

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October, 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.

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When it launched in 1958, the 729-foot SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship sailing the Great Lakes.
user Greenmars / Wikimedia Commons

Of the thousands of shipwrecks that fill the Great Lakes, most people can name only one: the Edmund Fitzgerald.

It’s the last and the largest ship ever lost on the lakes.

This week marks 40 years since the Fitzgerald and its 29 crew members went down in Lake Superior.

But even this many years later, the story still captivates the public’s imagination.


Wikipedia

The US Environmental Protection Agency has pledged almost $20 million dollars to help clean up the Clinton River in southeast Michigan.

The river, which flows largely through Macomb County into Lake Saint Clair, has been designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern for many years.

EPA officials announced Monday that more federal money is coming through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder paid a visit to Hamtramck’s BanglaTown Friday, to officially open the Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee’s new headquarters there.

That Bangladeshi community is aiming for a higher profile among Metro Detroit’s immigrant enclaves.

Snyder again proclaimed himself “the most pro-immigrant Governor in the country.” And he says Bangladeshi-Americans are exactly the kind of immigrants Michigan needs.

The trial of former Inkster police officer William Melendez got underway in Wayne County Circuit Court Wednesday.

Melendez faces charges, including assault and misconduct in office, for beating motorist Floyd Dent during a violent arrest that was captured on dashcam video.

Inkster voters are deciding a millage renewal this Election Day — for a school district that no longer exists.

The state dissolved Inkster schools in July 2013.

But the district still exists on paper to pay off debts — including a $12.5 million emergency loan from the state in the spring of 2013.

A Macomb County judge found himself at the center of a court hearing Monday.

Eastpointe district judge Carl Gerds III has come under scrutiny for sentencing defendants to jail time for failing to pay fines stemming from civil infractions.

Two of the better-known cases to come out of Gerds’ court include a woman who faced jail time for failing to pay dog licensing fines, and a man who did jail time for failing to pay $1500 worth of traffic tickets.

Hallway in Huron High School in Ann Arbor.
user rosefirerising / Flickr

The Ann Arbor Public Schools is trying new tactics to deal with a “chronic” lack of enough substitute teachers.

Starting this month, the district will up sub pay from $75 to $100 a day. Officials also plan to raise pay rates for classroom assistants, though those rates haven’t been set yet.

The district will also try and assemble a team of “premier” substitutes, says Ann Arbor schools’ spokesman Andrew Cluley.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s planning commission got an earful from residents about medical pot dispensaries Thursday night.

The city is considering an ordinance outlining new zoning and spacing restrictions for marijuana dispensaries.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Obama administration is letting Michigan divert almost $33 million from foreclosure prevention to demolition projects.

Detroit and Flint will benefit from the additional funds, which come from Michigan’s share of the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

That program was originally meant to help homeowners facing foreclosure. But as the result of lobbying from state and local officials, the Obama administration has allowed Michigan to divert money from HHF funds toward blight removal three times since 2013.

wikimedia commons

It’s national lead poisoning prevention week, and Metro Detroit county health officials are zeroing in on the problem with an event Tuesday.

The event at Sterling Heights’ Freedom Hill is focused mostly on education and awareness.

But there’s also an opportunity to test kids’ toys and other products for lead.

City of Detroit

Another large-scale, commercial urban agriculture project is set to take root over 22 square blocks of Detroit’s east side.

RecoveryPark Farms will lease 35 acres of blighted, city-owned land to launch the effort.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wayne County auctions off tens of thousands of tax-foreclosed properties every year.

The county’s latest annual property auction wrapped up last week.

It’s a major event for budding Detroit real estate investors. Yet their wins can also be devastating losses for people living in those homes.

That's why a growing movement is trying to help some of them become winners, too.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

One of three remaining Democrats in the Presidential race stopped in Dearborn Friday.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley met with Syrian and Iraqi refugees now living in Metro Detroit, before addressing the Arab American Institute’s National Leadership Conference.

O’Malley condemned what he calls “xenophobic immigrant hate” coming from Republican candidates.

And he says Democrats should be talking more about Syrian refugees.

via Loveland Technologies

Bidding on this year’s glut of tax-foreclosed homes in Wayne County has wrapped up.

Final numbers aren't available yet. But the annual auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as tax foreclosures have soared and flooded the market with delinquent properties.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A rescue group picked up 10 dogs from Detroit’s city-run animal shelter today, in what it hopes will be the first of many visits.

The dogs walked — in some cases, galloped — out the shelter doors and into the custody of volunteer handlers with the Detroit Dog Rescue.

That non-profit group operates the city’s first no-kill shelter.

Executive Director Kristina Rinaldi says DDR and other animal rescue groups have been pushing for just this kind of access to Detroit's shelter for years.

via dwsd.org

The new Great Lakes Water Authority held a national search for its first CEO, but the authority’s board ended up choosing a familiar candidate.

That candidate is Sue McCormick, the GLWA’s interim CEO. Prior to that, she headed the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department for more than three years.

She was praised by some for leading DWSD through Detroit’s bankruptcy, in which the water department played a key role.

City of Detroit

Construction on a new, 70-acre manufacturing campus is officially underway in southwest Detroit.

India-based auto parts supplier Sakthi Automotive Group is behind the project.

wikimedia commons

A former Detroit city employee says she was fired after reporting troubling conditions and wrongdoing at the city’s animal shelter.

In a whistleblower lawsuit filed last week, former animal control officer Brittany Roberts claims to have witnessed numerous violations of state law and department policies.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

The new regional authority in charge of southeast Michigan’s water is set to choose a leader Monday.

The Great Lakes Water Authority emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy process. It essentially regionalizes Detroit’s water system, which has long served most of southeast Michigan.

Courtesy of Detroit Dog Rescue

Detroit officials announced a major overhaul of the city’s animal control operations Friday.

Animal Control will again become part of the city’s health department. It’s been under police department oversight since 2012.

And the city’s animal shelter will reverse its no-adoption policy, allowing the Michigan Humane Society to help transfer “dozens of dogs a month” to animal rescue and foster groups.

William Warby / flickr

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will lay off about 100 more employees this month.

That’s prompted some workers to sound the alarm. They warn that DWSD is already understaffed, and say laying off more workers could compromise water safety.

“We’ve lost chemists, engineers, instrument technicians … a whole range of people,” says Michael Mulholland, President of AFSCME Local 207, which represents some workers at the wastewater plant. “We’re concerned that what they’re doing is running it on a business model that is inappropriate and irresponsible.”

Family photo

A federal judge should soon decide if a wrongful death lawsuit against Macomb County officials goes to trial.

32-year-old David Stojcevski died of prescription drug withdrawal during a 16-day stay in the Macomb County jail in June 2014.

His suffering and death – captured on video monitors at the jail and released publicly last month – has drawn widespread attention and condemnation.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has named Eric Jones as the city's interim fire commissioner.

Jones isn’t a firefighter himself. He came up through the ranks of the Detroit Police Department, rising to the rank of assistant chief.

Most recently, Jones led the city’s Buildings, Safety and Engineering Department.

Duggan says Jones has proven himself a capable administrator, and is the best person to fix the “basic process” problems still plaguing the fire department.

The FBI is investigating the death last year of a 32-year-old man in a Michigan jail.

In March 2014, David Stojcevski was sentenced to 30 days in the Macomb County jail.

He died there a little more than two weeks later — despite being under 24-hour video monitoring for most of that time.

That video footage captured nearly every minute of the physical and mental breakdown preceding his death.

For Dafinka Stojcevski, David's mother, the anger is still raw. She is seeking justice for her son.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has approved a medical marijuana ordinance.

The law outlines licensing and inspection procedures for marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Friends, family and supporters of David Stojcevski protested outside the Macomb County jail in Mt. Clemens Saturday.

Stojcevski died of prescription drug withdrawal after spending 16 days in the jail in 2014. He was serving 30 days for a driving offense because he could not afford to pay $772 in fines.

“Justice for my son!” said Dafinka Stojecviski, David’s mother. “Shame on them for what they [did] to my son. Shame on Macomb County jail!”

Stojcevski was under 24-hour video surveillance in the jail’s mental health unit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of federal prisoners are set to be released within the next month, but fewer than 100 of them are expected to wind up in Michigan.

The historic prisoner release comes as the U.S. Department of Justice reconfigures sentencing guidelines for drug crimes.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan’s President made his first appearance at the Detroit Economic Club Tuesday.

Mark Schlissel addressed the promise of “big data,” the importance of increasing student diversity, and his efforts to tamp down the school’s sometimes “exuberant party culture.”

Schlissel said university data shows that much—though not all—of that party culture stems from Greek life on campus.

City of Detroit

As Lansing gears up to debate a radical reorganization of Detroit schools, Mayor Mike Duggan is pushing for a larger role in the city’s future education system.

Duggan outlined his vision for a complete education overhaul earlier this year.

It shares the same basic structure as Gov. Snyder’s proposal for Detroit schools, but differs on a few key points.

Both call for a bankruptcy-style restructuring — without the actual bankruptcy filing — that would split the Detroit Public Schools into “old” and “new” districts.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

For the first time in five years, Detroit and its bus drivers have agreed to a new labor contract.

The four-year deal includes an immediate 4% base wage hike, gradually growing to 13.5% over the course of the contract.

It also introduces “fare box sharing.” If the Detroit Department of Transportation gains riders and grows revenues, 30% of that increase will go to drivers, up to a certain amount.

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