Stateside
2:37 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Former Republican state representative says he was wrong to oppose same-sex marriage

Chris Ward in a photo for a 2008 cover story in Dome Magazine.
Credit Dave Trumpie - trumpiephotography.com / Dome Magazine

Former Michigan State Rep. Chris Ward talks about why he regrets his vote on same-sex marriage.

It is never too late to offer a public "mea culpa" for taking a political action that you later believe was a serious mistake.

That's the idea behind a recent entry on the blog Republicus.

Former Republican State Rep. Chris Ward wrote the post declaring that he'd been on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing.

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Business
2:20 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

A new law allows local investment in small business

Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt, both 32, are trying to become the first people in Michigan to use a new crowdfunding law passed by Gov. Snyder in December. They want to open a brewery in Tecumseh.
Credit Megha Satyanarayana / Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kyle DeWitt has spent three years trying to open a brewery in Tecumseh. He's a veteran brewer, and he owns the building where he plans to brew his beer. But, he still needs money for equipment.

Despite his experience and a solid business plan, banks think of breweries as restaurants, he says. He’s a risky investment in the eyes of traditional lenders.

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Environment & Science
12:37 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Company considers drilling for oil west of Ann Arbor

A drilling rig in Appalachia.
Creative Commons photo by user Meridithw

Ben Freed over at The Ann Arbor News has more about the plans being developed by Traverse City-based West Bay Exploration Company. Freed reports the company has approached landowners in Scio Township looking to obtain their mineral rights.

West Bay says it would drill for oil using a "traditional" method. The company's vice president, Patrick Gibson, said it wouldn't use horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking:

“We’re a conventional oil and gas exploration company, we do not utilize hydraulic fracturing,” Gibson said.

“What we’re looking for is geological formations that are already fractured so that we don’t have to do any fracturing ourselves, hydraulic or otherwise.”

Landowners are being advised to educate themselves before signing contracts offered by the company. MSU's extension office offers insights into oil and gas leasing on this page.

Opinion
10:34 am
Tue April 8, 2014

With Michigan members of Congress hitting the exit, replacements scramble for money

Jack Lessenberry talks about the challenges facing those who want to run for Congress.

Congressmen don’t stay on the job forever, though it sometimes seems like it.

This year will be the last for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, first elected in 1978, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, the all-time longevity champ, who has represented a Detroit-area district since 1955.

Their retirements, while momentous, weren’t very surprising. Indeed, Carl Levin announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election more than a year ago. Far more shocking was the sudden decision by two mid-Michigan Republican Congressmen to bow out.

Both Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, had safe seats, a fair amount of seniority, and are youngish men by congressional standards. Yet within the last few days, both said they wouldn’t run for re-election.

That set off something of a mad scramble.

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The Environment Report
8:50 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Michigan beekeepers breeding hardier "survivor bees"

Greg Griswold with some of his bee boxes in Beulah, Michigan in March.
Sara Hoover Interlochen Public Radio

Listen to today's Environment Report above.

It’s been a tough winter for honeybees. Bees already face several obstacles, including parasitic mites, habitat loss, and pesticides.

Those factors and others are believed to contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where bees disappear from the hive in large numbers. 

In the face of all these things, beekeepers in Michigan are trying to breed a hardier bee.

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Politics & Government
5:56 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Report: Unmarried women could be critical voting bloc this fall in Michigan

According to a new report, about 500,000 Michiganders who voted in 2012 could stay home on Election Day this year. More than half of them are unmarried women.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report suggests unmarried women may be a critical swing vote in Michigan’s elections this fall.

The Voter Participation Center works to get more unmarried women, people of color, and young people to vote. But those groups tend to show the biggest voting dropoff in off-year elections.

Those also happen to be the voters Democrats need  to win in this fall’s gubernatorial and congressional elections.

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Politics & Government
5:53 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Flint denied federal grant to pay for firefighters

This grant was intended to fund 39 positions in the Flint fire department. The city may be able to use money from a recently passed public safety millage to offset some of the lost grant funding.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will not be getting a major federal grant that would have paid to keep many city firefighters on the job.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down Flint’s request for a nearly $8 million SAFER grant. The city has used two previous SAFER grants to pay dozens of firefighters.

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Investigative
5:43 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Clinton Township man remains in coma after severe beating

Steve Utash was attacked on Detroit's East Side.
Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

A Clinton Township tree trimmer is still in a medically induced coma today. He was beaten by a mob on Detroit's east side after he stopped to help a child who had stepped into the path of his truck. 

Detroit Police say Steve Utash was not at fault, that he'd been obeying the speed limit. And after 10-year-old David Harris stepped out in front of his pickup truck, Utash did the right thing: He got out to help the boy. 

That's when he was attacked by the mob who beat him severely and robbed his truck. 

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joins us now to try to make sense of this seemingly senseless crime.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
5:42 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Northern Michigan faces a labor shortage

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island could face labor shortages.
Credit David Ball / creative commons

As we salute spring and bid a none-too-fond farewell to the snow and sub-zero temps, you may be making your plans to visit Northern Michigan. 

And that is where businesses like Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel, other resorts, golf courses, restaurants and marinas are facing the challenge of a labor shortage. 

Ken Winter wrote about the problem recently for Dome Magazine. He'll tell us why it's such a problem for Northern Michigan Hospitality businesses, like the Grand Hotel, to find enough workers.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Economy
5:41 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

The Arab American News examines small business ownership

Arab American restaurants and businesses in Dearborn, Michigan.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As the city of Detroit seeks pathways back to economic health, small businesses are seen as a key. And there can be no conversation about small business owners in Detroit without involving the Arab-American community. 

Most of the grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations in Detroit are owned by Arab-Americans.

And, historically, the relationship between these store owners and their largely African-American customers has been not without its tensions. 

Which is why a recent editorial in The Arab American News caught our eye, and we wanted to share its message with you. 

We're joined now by Osama Siblani, the publisher of The Arab American News.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Environment & Science
5:35 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Michigan's maple syrup farming is sweet for the economy

A maple tree is tapped for syrup.
Credit mi-maplesyrup.com

The first farm crop to be harvested in Michigan is ready. 

Michigan ranks number five in maple syrup production each year, and according to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, that sweet syrup helps pump nearly $2.5 million into Michigan's economy each year.

But there are plenty of maple trees in Michigan that are not being tapped. So we wondered, if we have all these trees, why aren't more people making maple syrup?

Michael Farrell's book is called The Sugar Makers Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees.

Farrell joins us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
5:28 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

House Republicans have a plan to mend Michigan roads

Potholes are dominating Michigan's roads after a rough winter.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As the snow and ice have melted, Michigan has come up with a bumper crop of potholes and crumbling roads – roads that were already badly in need of repair. And that has turned everyone's attention to fixing the roads and how to pay for it. 

State House Republicans are proposing an annual $500 million solution. 

Here to tell us more about that is Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
5:04 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Some Democrats skeptical about proposal to fix roads

A state House Republican plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure is drawing criticism from some prominent Democrats.

The proposal seeks to boost road funding by about $500 million a year. That’s well short of the $1-2 billion most estimates say is needed to adequately address the problem.

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Environment & Science
4:43 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court won't review UP mining dispute

Kennecott Eagle MIne in September, 2011
Credit Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case trying to stop the development of a new copper and nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The high court let stand a lower court's rejection of the Huron Mountain Club's arguments that the mine needs federal permits.

The Club owns a 19,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve that includes an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

The Eagle Mine is located a few miles upstream, and some mining will take place under the river.

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3:03 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Is three company when it comes to co-parenting?

Lead in text: 
According to NPR's Gabrielle Emanuel, it's possible for a child to have more than two legal parents in about 10 states. Michigan isn't one of them. State of Opportunity takes a look at what it means legally for more than one adult--straight or same-sex--to parent a child in our state.
Listen to the original story for a nationwide take on the number of legal parents a child is allowed. http://goo.gl/jnWQ2F
Arts & Culture
2:26 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Arts in Motion Studio uses art for inclusivity

Delight Lester, right, teaches students.
Adam Bird Issue Media Group

It is easy to feel like an outsider when facing a mental, emotional, or physical disability. Anything that sets you apart or makes you different can seem alienating or isolating. 

Delight Lester has harnessed that feeling and aims to make outsiders feel like insiders through the healing power of the arts. Her non-profit Arts in Motion Studio in Grand Rapids offers ballet, tap, and interpretative dance, as well as guitar, visual arts, and drama classes to people of all ages in an individualized and inclusive way. 

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Politics & Government
2:19 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Outgoing Congressman Mike Rogers endorses candidate to replace him

Rep. Mike Rogers surprised many when he announced last month he’s stepping down after serving seven terms in Congress.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Former state senate majority leader Mike Bishop picked up an endorsement today  in his campaign to be Michigan’s next eighth district congressman.

The endorsement came from current eighth district congressman Mike Rogers.

Rogers surprised many when he announced last month he’s stepping down after serving seven terms in Congress.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s senior political analyst. He doesn’t see the Rogers endorsement playing a big role in race.

Lessenberry says what matters more is who else jumps in the race.

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Opinion
2:08 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

A peculiar quota system may weaken the Democratic ticket.

Remarkably, we already know virtually everyone who will be nominated by both parties for the major statewide offices this year. Every candidate, that is, except one. I’m not talking about candidates for statewide education boards or high court races.

I’m talking about the four high-profile elected positions. And though we are almost four months from the statewide primaries and the state party conventions, the lineup is pretty much set.

Republicans will run all their incumbents – Governor Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Democrats are set to nominate Mark Schauer, a former congressman from Battle Creek, for governor, and Lisa Brown, the Oakland County clerk, as his running mate. Mark Totten is the only candidate for attorney general. But what about secretary of state?

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Arts & Culture
7:19 am
Mon April 7, 2014

This is what it sounds like when a neighborhood church closes

Saint Henry's window
Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

St. Henry’s in Lincoln Park held its first Mass on June 3, 1923 and its last Mass on March 2, 2014.

At the end of the church’s final Mass, parish members took the most important objects and walked them out the door.

The holy oils were carried by five members of the Olive family. Jackie and Bill Balmes carried out the marriage registry (they’ve been married for 65 years). Four men, including Jim Bomia and his two grandsons, lifted the crucifix off the wall (it weighed several hundred pounds), and walked it down the aisle and out the door.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Local governments are hopeful, cautious about state road-funding plan

Credit wikipedia

The organization championing the interests of Michigan’s local governments is withholding judgment on a proposal to fix the state’s roads.

Officials with the Michigan Municipal League say they’re cautiously hopeful about the plan Republican State House leader Jase Bolger unveiled last week.

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