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.   

User: Working World / Flickr

It's being billed as the largest anti-bullying rally in the state: 13 of Detroit's public schools are gathering with Special Olympics Michigan this week. 

The students will sign a pledge not to use the word "retarded."

firefighters-South_Carolina-Natl-Guard-flickr.jpg

This week we've been talking about the higher cancer risk that firefighters face.

And the good news about all this is that Michigan passed a new law this year, creating a fund to cover firefighters if they get certain kinds of cancer on the job.

But there are two problems.

First, female firefighters feel they're being unfairly left out, because while the law covers prostate and testicular cancer, it doesn't cover breast cancer.

Campus Martius park.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union says it's gotten Detroit to create new, interim rules to protect free speech and protests in public parks – even if those parks are privately managed.

The ACLU sued the city because it believes several protests were illegally shut down by private security at Campus Martius, a downtown park that's run by a private consortium.

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

Detroit's City Council is delaying a vote that would let the new, multi-million dollar Red Wings arena move ahead.

It was supposed to decide today whether Olympia development could go ahead with its current plans to build around one historic hotel, the Eddystone, while razing another, the Park Avenue.

firefighters-South_Carolina-Natl-Guard-flickr.jpg

Firefighters have dangerous jobs. We all know that.

But a growing body of research suggests those dangers don’t go away once the flames are put out: several studies say firefighters have a significantly higher cancer risk, even when they’re young.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

All this week we’re talking about teacher training.

But there’s one thing that’s almost impossible to teach students in college: how to manage a classroom.

Kalamazoo is taking steps to build relationships between its police officers and its community members.
taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Floyd Dent, the black man who was beaten and tased by white Inkster police officers, goes to court this week on a drug charge after the officer who repeatedly punched him in the head says he found cocaine in Dent's car.

Dent says the officer, William Melendez, planted the drugs on him.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Trinity Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor announced it will not put a temporary homeless camp on its' property this summer.

The pastor, Rev. Lori Carey, says they can't get insurance for it this year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials say previously high levels of a chlorine byproduct that can cause liver issues and even cancer if it’s ingested in high quantities over many years, are back down to safe levels in city drinking water.

The city had to send out a notice in November to residents letting them know that tests showed there were potentially unsafe levels of trihalomethane (TTHM) in the water.

MorgueFile /

The Michigan State Police has opened an investigation into the beating of a black driver by white police officers in Inkster.

Inkster police stopped Floyd Dent back in January, but some of the police dash-cam video of Dent's arrest and beating went viral this week.

State police Lieutenant Mike Shaw says the Inkster police chief asked them to step in on Monday.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

UPDATE: We've added the actual policies that the board is considering below.

Ann Arbor's school board met last night to consider banning guns on campus.

It's been weighing the question since a gun-rights advocate named Joshua Wade wore a gun to a high school concert. In Michigan, it’s legal to openly carry a gun in schools so long as you have a concealed pistol license.  

A package of bills to protect victims of domestic violence was introduced to the state House today.

Together, the bills would create a confidentiality program for victims, allow them to get unemployment benefits if they leave their jobs because of abuse, use sick leave to meet with legal and medical professionals, and prohibit landlords from evicting tenants over disruptions that happen because of domestic violence.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Catherine Martin says when she heard on TV this morning that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was going to announce a new program giving out zero-interest loans for home repairs, she knew she needed to get to that press conference.

So she called her son “who has one of those smart phones” at 6 a.m., asked him to Google the press conference address, and then took two buses to be there in time.

Kalamazoo is taking steps to build relationships between its police officers and its community members.
taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

All Michigan police would have to wear body cameras under a new bill in Lansing.

While several police departments around the state already have body cameras or are planning to adopt them, State Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, D-Detroit, is sponsoring a bill that would make them universal. 

Bruce Giffin / Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of the nationally recognized Sphinx organization – which runs scholarships and competitions for black and Latino students in classical music – is leaving to become the new dean of the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater & Dance. 

"Sphinx has really been my life's work," says Dworkin, who's passing the baton to his wife and Sphinx's current artistic director, Afa Dworkin. 

abbyladybug

Three members of Sigma Alpha Mu at the University of Michigan are facing criminal charges after the fraternity vandalized a ski resort one January weekend in Gaylord, Michigan.

Arielle Solomon / Flickr

Developers want to turn Detroit's old state fairgrounds into 160 acres of senior living, apartments, shopping, small parks, and space for Wayne County Community College.

Those plans were unveiled to the public in detail this week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Permanent suspension sounds … well … permanent, right?

Wrong.  

Just because the Sigma Alpha Mu international board has voted to “permanently suspend the charter of our University of Michigan chapter” after the fraternity vandalized a ski resort in Northern Michigan, doesn’t mean the frat is gone forever.

Flickr user silverlinedwinnebego

When LaWanda Williamson’s arm was burned by fryer oil at the McDonald’s where she says she works in Detroit, her manager was standing right next to her.

“And the manger was standing there like, ‘Oh snap, you ok?’ And it was burned she never even offered me the [burn] cream. I didn’t even know they had burn cream.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Highland Park officials say they want to board up more blighted homes with steel, rather than wood.

Steel is really good at keeping out squatters. Problem is, it's also really expensive.

The city started using steel shutters on a handful of houses after an 11-year-old girl was raped in December in an abandoned house.

Provided by Duane Kelley

We want to fill you in on what’s going on with Detroit’s retired firefighters.

These are the men and women who ran into burning buildings, day after day, some of them for decades.

And while they made it through the city’s bankruptcy with their pensions pretty much intact, they lost their health care.

Croswell Opera House

A theater in Adrian is putting on a production geared for kids with autism.

"The Cat in the Hat" at the Croswell Opera House will try to minimize loud noises or bright lights.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Michigan, says it's not his party's fault if the Department of Homeland Security runs out of money.

It has to get new funding before the end of this week to stay open.

House Republicans passed a bill to fund DHS, but it had a poison pill: reversing President Obama's plans to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Submitted by Carla Milarch

A new professional theater is opening in Ann Arbor that will only put on new plays, with a special focus on building up Michigan playwrights.

Theatre Nova is renting performance space in an old renovated barn on a shoe string budget, says artistic director Carla Milarch.

“We did a little mini fund drive in like the last three weeks of December and were able to raise about $20,000."

Jason Lorenz / City of Flint

Flint Police K9 Officer Edo received a bullet resistant vest in a special ceremony today, after a crowdfunding campaign started by a neighborhood association successfully raised $3,500 online to buy the vest.

Officer Edo is a German shepherd, born and trained in Poland before being donated to Flint last year as the city’s sole K9 officer.

Paige Pfleger

Seventeen people died in arson fires in Detroit last year.

That's according to an in-depth analysis by the Detroit News today.

If you missed it, here’s the upshot: arson isn’t a new issue for Detroit, obviously, but it’s proving to be a massive resource-suck as the city moves out of bankruptcy.

There were some 9,000 suspicious fires between 2010 and mid-2013.

The silver lining here is that the city making blight a major issue, which could help with arson since those buildings are often targets – and they can be tricky for firefighters to assess when they show up on the scene.

User VanZandt / Flickr

Before you roll your eyes and grumble about what society is coming to, just hear these churches out for a second. 

"It was painful to hear that so many people weren't getting ashes until the evening," says Reverend June Marshall-Smith of Novi United Methodist.

She says growing up, she always got ashes in the morning, "to remind me all day how my faith is guiding me during the Lenten season."  

"[But now] churches had gone to only evening services and no longer morning services. So I was providing a morning service, but people who were not members of my congregation were not coming to that.

Sarah Kerson / Michigan Radio

Stay calm, and keep getting your paperwork in order.

That's the advice from immigration advocates in Michigan today, to families who were planning to apply for deportation protections starting tomorrow. Now that a federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked those new immigration programs, they'll have to wait to see how this plays out in court. 

401(k) 2013 / Flickr

If you tried to sign up for health coverage before the Feb. 15 deadline, but couldn't because of computer glitches and hotline issues, now you’ve got an extra week.

The feds are giving Michiganders a grace period until Feb. 22 because there were so many problems with the Obamacare sign-up.

FidlerJan / http://www.morguefile.com/archive/#/?q=obesity

We know there’s a genetic component to obesity, but until now, we didn’t know much about why some people develop complications from that obesity – like diabetes or cardiovascular disease – and others don’t.

Now University of Michigan researchers say they’ve honed in dramatically on which genes determine whether you’re predisposed to becoming obese, as well as those that determine if you’re more likely to develop additional obesity-related complications. 

This could lead to more tailored, personalized ways of treating obesity and its complications in each individual patient.

Pages