Kate Wells

Arts, Culture & Education Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering cultural arts, education, and general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

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Law
6:30 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Federal court allows Nativity scene on public highway

Example of a creche, though not the one displayed in Macomb county

A Macomb County man has the right to display a Nativity scene in a public road median. That’s according to a federal appeals court ruling. It reverses a Detroit judge’s decision.

John Satawa's family has been displaying a crèche in this busy highway median every Christmas for decades. But the county asked him to take it down when it got complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  Satawa sued, and now the federal appeals court is siding with him.

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Arts & Culture
5:09 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Should taxpayers "save" the Detroit Institute of Arts?

Supporters at a rally for the DIA.
Kate Wells

The Detroit Institute of Arts is going broke. 

Museum staff say to save the DIA, they need some $200 million dollars in property taxes from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

Voters will decide the fate of the museum at the polls this Tuesday. That’s why DIA supporters held a “Save the DIA” rally in Detroit’s New Center Park this week.

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Transportation
6:00 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

With new recalls, Ford's having a rough week

The 2001 Ford Escape
Edmunds.com

Ford is issuing yet another recall, the company’s third in about two weeks. This time, it’s for older model Escapes.

Gas pedals in the SUV can get stuck when they’re pushed close to the floor. That’s only for the 2001 through 2004 models with 3 liter, V6 engines. Complaints involve 13 crashes and one death.

Economy
6:19 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

For kids in poverty, Michigan ranks among the worst

Michigan is 32nd for child well-being.
http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/StateLanding.aspx?state=MI

A new report on child well-being ranks Michigan in the bottom half of all states: 32nd overall, down two spots from last year. 

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Education
5:15 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Ypsilanti schools could be headed for state takeover

Superintendent Dedric Martin say an emergency manager may be needed.
http://www.ypsd.org/district/superintendentsmessage/

Superintendent Dedric Martin says the school system could need an emergency manager, unless staff agree to deeper cuts. 

Martin acknowledges staff already took a 10 percent salary cut. 

“That comes on the heels of additional concessions that they've made. And we've had reductions at all levels. Unfortunately it's not enough to carry a balanced budget and pay back money that has already been borrowed and spent," he said.

Martin says he knows the "emergency manager" card could be perceived as a ploy to get further concessions from unions.

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State Parks
4:21 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

State parks could see record summer attendance

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153--167532--,00.html

If you're planning a trip to Michigan's state parks this summer, expect some company.

The parks are on track to break attendance records this year, with more than 25 million visits expected.  

It’s mostly thanks to hot weather, lowers gas prices, and cheaper park passes, says Harold Herta of the Department of Natural Resources.  "We've seen a lot of people coming out to the parks this year that said, I haven't been to a state park in years, and I thought I'd try it out. Especially in the metro-Detroit area."

Arts & Culture
9:08 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Kalamazoo reporter wants American election stories...and some gas money

Chris Killian
www.kickstarter.com/

Living in a swing state like Michigan means you're probably already tired of non-stop elections coverage, sound bites and negative ads.

Now, a Kalamazoo freelance reporter wants to offer an alternative...he just needs some help paying for it.

Chris Killian says he'll take a months-long road trip through 11 swing states, getting stories from average people about their politics and their hopes for the country's future.

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Arts & Culture
6:06 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Gourd muppets to swimming elephants: it's the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Logan Chadde

Every summer, the Ann Arbor Art Fair draws more than half a million people to town.

Tourists come to shop, eat, and see work by artists from around the country.

Meanwhile, gear up for the crowds, the traffic, and the craziest time of the summer.

For four days, downtown becomes a tent city: more than a thousand artists and what seems like just as many vendors.

It can get a little nuts for residents like Lisa Larson. 

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Election 2012
11:08 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Ann Arbor residents will decide on new library building this November

The Ann Arbor District Library wants a new building downtown.
AADL Facebook

Ann Arbor residents can add a new tax levy to the growing list of issues on the November ballot.

The local library board wants $65 million for a new downtown building.

After 60 years, the Ann Arbor library's main branch has done its job, according to the board. 

But now they say they're running out of space, so they want to tear down and rebuild on the same site.

The plan would mean a 30-year tax hike. It would add roughly $54 dollars to the annual tax bill of anyone with a home worth $200,000.

If residents vote no, it would be the first time in 20 years the town's rejected a tax increase for the library.

Politics & Government
10:41 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Legal help for Syrian nationals with expiring visas

Kate Wells michiganradio.org

For a few hours Saturday morning, the Troy Public Library became Syrian immigration base camp. Some two dozen Syrian nationals came out to a makeshift legal clinic held there. Their visas are about to expire or already have, and the federal government’s offering a special extension due to the crisis in their country.

But as pro-bono lawyers explained to one family after another, Syrians who fled escalating violence in the last three months aren’t eligible; they’ve already missed the program’s crucial window.

That window ended March 29, when the Obama administration declared Syrians in the United States could receive Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. That lets Syrians stay here even after their visas expire.

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Law
4:24 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Mount Pleasant makes LGBT discrimination illegal

Gay pride flag
user Tyrone Warner Flickr

Mount Pleasant has joined the ranks of more than a dozen Michigan cities with anti-discrimination laws protecting gay, lesbian and transgender people.  Activists say it's a big step for a relatively conservative town.

The city is home to Central Michigan University, and supporters of the ordinance say it's the last big college town in the state to adopt such a law. 

Norma Bailey is with the Mount Pleasant Area Diversity group. She says the law was met with some pushback, especially from residents who wanted to ensure religious institutions would be exempted from the law.

"This process has worked beautifully to, in fact, take a conservative area and help people understand what we were talking about," she said. "This isn't about marriage. This isn't about bathrooms. This is about people having the right to have a job, housing and accommodations that are equitable with everyone else."

The city can fine violators up to $2,500.

Health
6:36 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

UM Taubman Institute rewards new medical treatments

Dr. Hal Dietz
Johns Hopkins University publicity photo

The University of Michigan Taubman Institute is rewarding doctors who turn lab discoveries into medical treatments.

The first winner may have found a cure for aneurysms in people with Marfan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. That could, in turn, unlock treatments for more common diseases. 

Dr. Hal Dietz  of Johns Hopkins University used to work with kids with Marfan Syndrome and other inherited diseases that damage blood vessels. But he got so frustrated with how poor the available medications were, he set out to find better ones himself. 

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