Health
7:18 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Kalamazoo County saves millions in health care costs

Wellness programs encourage people to lead health lifestyles. Kalamazoo County says their program is paying off.
Ed Yourdon - Flickr

A wellness program is paying huge dividends for Kalamazoo County. This year, the county spent $7.7 million on health care for its employees. That’s a little more than $2 million less than it spent 6 years ago.

Anne Conn is Kalamazoo County’s assistant director of Human Resources. She says they enticed employees to participate in the wellness program by offering freebies and even an extra day off.

"People are in the wellness program now because they want to be, not because we’re giving them a t-shirt to do it."

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Education
6:28 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Detroit schools chief talks about the future

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb with a student. Governor-elect Snyder says he'll extend Bobb's term.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb “has a busy few months” ahead.
 
Bobb’s contract with the schools expires in March. Governor-elect Rick Snyder has said he’ll extend it through June.
 
Bobb was dealt a defeat last month when a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge ruled Bobb overstepped his duties by implementing academic plans.
 

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Politics
5:03 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Will Census cause Michigan to lose a seat in Congress?

Michigan is expected to send one less representative to Congress after the Census releases its numbers this week.
Jonothan Colman Flickr

This week the U.S. Census will release its initial population totals for the country and the states. That data will begin the scramble to redraw Michigan’s congressional districts.

Michigan will probably lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives when the new census numbers come out (going from 15 to 14 seats).

The state’s incoming Republican governor and Republican controlled legislature are expected to redraw congressional boundaries so they can favor Republican candidates.

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Lansing faces budget problem
4:07 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

City of Lansing facing $15 million budget deficit in FY12

The seal of the city of Lansing, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The City of Lansing is facing a potential $15 million budget deficit.   City Finance Director Jerry Ambrose says there is a growing chasm between Lansing’s projected spending needs fiscal year 2012 and the city’s projected revenue. FY2012 begins June 30th, 2011.  Ambrose says the city expects to spend $118 million next year delivering city services, but city revenues are only expected to reach $103 million. Ambrose says in a written statement:

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Environment
4:04 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Green group finds contaminated tap water in Ann Arbor

An example of a chromium compound (chrom(VI)-oxide)
user BXXXM - wikimedia commons

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says it commissioned a study that tested tap water in 35 cities across the United States and found a cancer causing chemical in 31 of the cities they tested.

In Michigan, the EWG tested for evidence of hexavalent chromium in Ann Arbor's water supply and found the chemical at .21 parts per billion. The group says a proposed "safe" level in California is .06 parts per billion.

The group says:

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Environment
3:17 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Automakers sue over E15, a higher ethanol blend in fuel

Turning corn into fuel at the Lincolnway ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa
flickr user - freddthompson

Fuel-makers blend refined gasoline with ethanol to make it burn more cleanly.

Corn-based ethanol has been considered a much better fuel additive since MTBE was found leaking into groundwater supplies (the CBS News magazine 60 Minutes did a report that led to MTBE's downfall as an additive).

But there's been debate on how much ethanol to allow in gas. The accepted standard has been a 10% mix, which is found in most gas across the country.

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Science/Medicine
1:12 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Lunar eclipse tonight

A lunar eclipse in 2008
D'Arcy Norman - wikimedia commons user

Update December 21st, 2:00 a.m.:

Well, I woke up... the Earth's shadow is passing over the moon right now. NASA says it'll be in full eclipse starting at 2:41 a.m. and then the shadow will start slipping off the moon at 3:53 a.m.

Welcome to the shortest day of the year! Now... time for bed.

December 20th, 1:12 p.m.

It's not as special as a solar eclipse, which happens in one spot (say in Detroit, MI) around once every several hundred years, but a lunar eclipse is still pretty cool. Even if it does happen around twice a year.

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Flint Struggles with Violent Crime
12:59 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Flint mayor to ask for more tax money to fund police

Flint Public Safety Director Alvern Lock (left) addresses a news conference on the city's murder rate. Mayor Dayne Walling listens
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

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Arts/Culture
9:50 am
Mon December 20, 2010

New ministry hopes to help strippers create new positive identity in life

Eve's Angels founder Anny Donewald (left) with longtime friend Shawne Hondered (right)
Anny Donewald Eve's Angels

Anny Donewald was raised in an upper-middle class home near Grand Rapids. She’s beautiful, with blue eyes and long blond hair. When she was 19, a couple girls approached her at college and told her she’d be a natural dancing in nightclubs.

She entered an amateur night contest at a club in Kalamazoo and won.

At the time, she reasoned that $200 for 3 minutes on stage might be a good way to make money.

But when she got a job at a Lansing strip club, things started getting bad:

"About 2 weeks in I’m sitting in the back and just distraught. Like I just don’t know how I entered in this. I dropped out of college. I’m doing coke, and I’m drunk all the time."

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Opinion
9:04 am
Mon December 20, 2010

Commentary: Early Warnings About Kwame Kilpatrick

We are living in interesting times. Yesterday, the Detroit Lions won their second game in a row, and their first game on the road since what seems like soon after the Civil War.

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New Roundup
8:58 am
Mon December 20, 2010

News Roundup: Monday Dec. 20th, 2010

In this morning's news: 


South Korea begins military exercises, despite objections by North Korea:


YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea (AP) -

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Holiday giving
11:24 pm
Sun December 19, 2010

Non-profit gives away more than 1,000 bikes

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Christmas came early for hundreds of kids in one Grand Rapids neighborhood this weekend. West Michigan Elves and More is a non-profit that gives away bikes and other gifts to a different neighborhood each year.

Dozens of kids watch Grand Rapids Police escort three semis down a snow covered residential street. The trailers contain a little more than one-thousand brand new bikes for kids in the Belknap Lookout neighborhood.

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Art & Music
5:44 pm
Sun December 19, 2010

Song lyrics spray painted on Saginaw's vacant buildings

Saginaw, Michigan

A group of artists in Saginaw has been spray painting the lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel's bittersweet song "America" onto vacant buildings in Saginaw.

NPR has more on a story we posted earlier. The man spearheading the project, Eric Schantz, says he can relate to the song's lyrics:

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Economy
3:20 pm
Sun December 19, 2010

Flint police department will close on weekends

More cuts for Flint's Police Department
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is closed on the weekends following the latest round of officer layoffs.

The Flint Journal reports new office hours took effect Saturday, the day after 20 police officers were laid off.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling laid off a total of 66 police officers this year to cope with a multi-million-dollar deficit. The city also made other cuts.

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Military ban on gays
4:21 pm
Sat December 18, 2010

Senate vote overturns "don't ask, don't tell"

A big change is in the works for gay military members
Flickr user Umpqua Creative Commons

Associated Press reports The Senate has voted to overturn "don't ask, don't tell." Today's 65-31 vote sends the bill to President Barack Obama, who's expected to sign it next week. The new law will allow gay service members to acknowledge their sexual orientation without fear of being kicked out.

 

More coverage of that story here.

Military ban on gays
2:36 pm
Sat December 18, 2010

Senator Carl Levin says DADT ban "is the right thing to do"

On Saturday, Levin gave a senate floor statement on don’t ask, don’t tell
Carl Levin

Associated Press reports the senate has cleared the way for a vote on Saturday afternoon on a bill that would overturn the military's ban on openly gay troops. Senators voted 63-33 to advance the legislation. It's already passed the House and  now looks likely to reach the president's desk before the new year.

Earlier in the day Senator Levin gave a senate floor statement.

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Medical education
6:05 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Another university looks to move medical-related programs to Grand Rapids

MSU's College of Human Medicine building is the latest addition to the "medical mile".
John Eisenschenk Creative Commons

Another Michigan university is looking to take advantage of Grand Rapids’ medical mile. The area is known for the growing number of specialty hospitals, medical research facilities, and medical schools located there. Just a few months ago, Michigan State University opened a brand new skyscraper in Grand Rapids – a new home for its College of Human Medicine.

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Special Program
4:00 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Three things to fix Michigan (call-in show)

(Written by Eliot Johnson, and Zoe Clark)

Every Michigan resident is familiar with the economic challenges facing the state. From job losses to foreclosures. The challenges we face are daunting. No single person can fix all the broken pieces of the state. But Michigan Radio has been on a quest this year to learn about the little things each of us can do to make a difference.

All this year, Michigan Radio's Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley has been talking to people from across the state about ways to improve Michigan. We call it the Three Things Series because we asked each person for three ways that ordinary Michiganders could help the state.

The response has been amazing, generating hundreds of ideas for each of us to consider and act upon. From recycling to community organizing to drinking more Michigan beer, the ideas we've received have been a diverse collection of potential ways to improve both the state and our attitudes towards it.

Today, we concluded the Three Things Series with an hour-long call-in show. It will air again tonight at 8 p.m., or you can hear it here:

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Education
2:32 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Study: Michigan among the worst at improving, closing failing schools

New study says Michigan has one of the worst turnaround success rates for failing schools
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Michigan has one of the worst success rates when it comes to turning around failing schools, according to a new report.

The study by the Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank, looked at the lowest-performing public schools in 10 states, including Michigan. The goal of the study was to see if a failing school could improve its test scores over a 5-year period.

Mike Petrilli is the think tank's executive vice president:

"What we see in the study is that Michigan, compared to other states, was reluctant to close low-performing schools, and didn’t have much success in improving these low-performing schools either."

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Politics
2:18 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Detroit indictment puts water dept. future in question

Ruben Diaz Alonso Flickr

This week’s indictment against Detroit’s former mayor and others is likely to renew interest in changing the way the region’s massive water system is run. The federal government identified 13 scams in which water department contracts worth tens of millions of dollars were steered to a friend of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

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