News

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The hybrid honeymoon may be over, at least while gas prices remain low.

Fewer than half of hybrid and electric car owners who traded the vehicles in during the first quarter of 2015 bought another hybrid or electric, according to Jessica Caldwell with Edmunds.com. 

"I think it shows how sensitive people are to fuel prices," says Caldwell, "and also the fuel economy of normal everyday cars has gotten a lot better."

Asim Saeed / flickr

Car insurance rates in Michigan are 136% higher than the national average, according to an analysis by Insurance Quotes, a subsidiary of Bankrate.com.

Probably the biggest reason, says Insurance Quote's Laura Adams, is that Michigan is a no-fault state

That means insurance companies have to pay the cost of any car accident a customer is involved in, regardless of which driver is at fault. 

Adams says the ten states with the highest auto insurance rates are all no-fault states.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s corn growers are hopeful Congress will soon pass Trade Promotion Authority.  That will fast track new trade deals in Asia and Europe.

Jim Zook is with the Michigan Corn Growers Association.

He says the corn market needs a boost, with the price the farmers receive for their corn is at or below the break even price.

Take two slices of bread, put something tasty on them, slap the slices together, and you've got a sandwich, right?

Well, you may call it a "sanwich" or "samwich," and you're certainly not alone.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan recently heard someone making fun of a person for saying "samwich," and thought that wasn't very kind.

"What we have happening here is the simplification of a consonant cluster. If you think about the word 'sandwich,' you've got n-d-w in the middle of the word – and that's not the easiest of consonant clusters to deal with. For many speakers, what happens is that we will delete the 'd,' so then you've got 'sanwich.'

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan stores that handle ‘money orders’ may soon have to post the fees they charge

State representative Leslie Love says many poor Michiganders use ‘money orders’ to pay their bills. 

Love says fees ranging from 50 cents to two dollars may not sound like much to many people. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several thousand people are expected to swarm Sunday’s Ann Arbor Classic Bicycle Show and Swap Meet.

This is the show’s 35th year.

Organizer Paul Kleppert says people are drawn to see the rarest of the two wheelers.

Bureau of Land Management

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Friday afternoon the state agreed to settle its case against Chesapeake Energy. The allegations stem from an auction for drilling leases on state land.

In May 2010, one auction brought in $178 million, an incredibly huge record.

Michigan company facing $558K fine for worker's death

Apr 24, 2015
user gadgetgirl / Flickr

A  Michigan plastics company is facing $558,000 in fines for safety violations, including those that led to a worker's death.

Last June, Grand Rapids Plastics employee Russel Scharenbroch was crushed to death inside a horizontal injection molding machine he was cleaning.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

A new effort led by the private sector in Grand Rapids will try to cut water, energy use and transportation emissions in half over the next 15 years.

More than a dozen businesses, including Spectrum Health, Consumers Energy, Rockford Construction and SMG, which manages DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena, have agreed to the general concept. A new committee will draft details of the plan this year.

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.

Photo by USFWS; Joel Trick

This time of year, the DNR plants some 2 million pine trees in Northern Michigan in an effort to save what it calls the rarest song bird in North America.

There are some 4,000 Kirtland's warblers in existence, according to the Associate Press, and nearly all of them live in Michigan.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

A private prison near Baldwin, Michigan could re-open, adding 150 jobs to the economy, under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo. The prison operated from 1998 through 2005 as a private youth facility, and was open again briefly later housing inmates from California. It closed again in 2011. 

There’s little doubt that State Senator Joe Hune is the health insurance companies’ favorite Michigan legislator. While it wouldn’t be nice to say he’s been bought and paid for, they’ve invested heavily in him over the years; nearly a hundred thousand in campaign contributions, according to conservative Detroit News columnist Frank Beckmann.

Kate Wells

Right now it's baseball season, and hockey and basketball playoffs are underway.

It's also women's football season.

First of all, yes, if you didn't already know – women's football is at thing.

WNEM-TV

 

 

Saturday marks the first anniversary of the city of Flint’s switch from Detroit water to the Flint River. It has not been an easy transition.  

 

“Here’s to Flint," Mayor Dayne Walling said as he raised a glass of water during a small ceremony at Flint’s water plant last April.  

 

The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
Erin English / Creative Commons

This summer will be the final year for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in West Michigan.

Lisa Vogel, who founded the event when she was 19, made the announcement in a letter on the event's website.

"We have known in our hearts for some years that the life cycle of the festival was coming to a time of closure," she said. 

Vogel didn't give a specific reason for the decision. 

For 40 years, thousands of woman have traveled the globe to attend the week-long event near Hart Township.

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

A federal judge in Grand Rapids will not order the state of Michigan to immediately recognize the marriage of a gay couple from East Grand Rapids.

Brian Morgan and Bruce Merrucci got married in New York in 2013. A year ago they filed to jointly own their home. The Kent County clerk refused to change the deed because Michigan doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

USDA / Creative Commons

The U.S. Coast Guard is denying a request to allow barge traffic from entering the deep water port in Muskegon. It says it’s not safe enough and there are not enough potential economic benefits.

The flat-bottomed boats are already allowed to go to ports in Indiana and Milwaukee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes farmers can do more to combat climate change. 

He spoke to an audience of farmers and agri-business leaders this afternoon at Michigan State University.

Vilsack says farmers are very familiar with the effects of climate change.

Classroom
User Motown31 / Creative Commons

We’re starting to hear early reports about Governor Snyder’s plan for restructuring public education in Detroit. The school landscape there is very fractured right now, with a combination of traditional public schools, charters, and the Education Achievement Authority.

Troye Fox / UWM Photography

Margaret Noodin has made it her life’s work to fight for the future of the ancient Native American language Anishnaabemowin.

This is the language of “the People of the Three Fires”—the Odawa, Potawatomi and Ojibwe. These people came to the Great Lakes thousands of years ago.

Designers, engineers connect poetry to safer batteries

Apr 23, 2015
Max Shtein

The Next Idea

This summer, as the latest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise hits movie theaters, we’ll be confronted with a larger-than-life, in-your-face reminder of the dark side of innovation, as a bunch of scientists yet again get so caught up in their inventiveness that they fail to imagine the consequences.

Over the past week, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the death of Detroit philanthropist Al Taubman, and a lesser amount paid to that of former U.S. Senator and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Griffin.

Kids in Detroit learn music from U of M students

Apr 23, 2015
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

After school on Fridays, the halls of Woodbridge Community Center are filled with music. There's the sound of guitars from one room, a cello and violin duet of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star from another, and the plunking of piano keys. 

All that music is thanks to University of Michigan student Sam Saunders, and his club Seventh Mile Music. 

debt
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

 A new report says restructuring Detroit Public Schools' debt could cost other school districts millions of dollars.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan says other districts would lose about $50 per student if DPS is allowed to use property taxes to pay off its debt. Schools normally use these taxes to fund operations. But if the taxes were used to pay off debt, the state would have to make up the difference.

Michigan Radio has been recognized with four regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in the Large Market Radio category. The Murrow Awards are presented by The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) to honor outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. The station won awards in the Investigative Coverage, Documentary, News Series and Website categories. All four winners will now be eligible to win a national Edward R. Murrow Award.

Benjamin Foote

The debut album by Grand Rapids indie rock and soul band Vox Vidorra explores race, inequality, love and religion.

Molly Bouwsma-Schultz is Vox Vidorra’s lead singer and lyricist. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The nation’s top agriculture official will be in East Lansing later today to unveil a new plan for dealing with climate change.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be on the Michigan State University campus. 

Lawsuit: Michigan unemployment system wrongly fines claimants

Apr 22, 2015
Bytemarks / flickr

A legal advocacy group is suing Michigan's Unemployment Agency for using an automated system to determine whether a user has filed a fraudulent claim.

The Sugar Law Center says the system accuses users of fraud, and slaps them with fines without any human oversight.

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth (Betty) Weaver has died. She was 74.

Weaver was twice elected as a Republican to the state’s highest court. But her later time on the bench was marked by frequent battles with other GOP justices over the court’s operations and what she said was excessive secrecy.

Weaver resigned from the court in the summer of 2010, which – to the chagrin of Republicans – allowed then-Governor Jennifer Granholm to name a Democrat to succeed her.  

Weaver lived in Leelanau County, where she served as a probate judge before she was elected to the state Court of Appeals. 

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