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.   

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.

taliesin / Morgue File

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.

A private school in Traverse City will now only admit students who are vaccinated.

The Children's House takes infants all the way through seventh graders.

Administrators became worried about the babies earlier this year, when they realized 30% of their students had vaccination waivers.

The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones

Got a drone you want to test? 

Now you’ve got a place in Michigan to do just that, whether the drone is for military, commercial or academic use.  

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University

All of Detroit’s 11,304 backlogged rape kits – discovered abandoned in an evidence locker six years ago – should finally be tested for DNA by the end of this month.

It’s a major milestone, even as the city can’t afford to investigate or prosecute all of these rapes, and has had to look to private foundations to start a $10 million fundraising effort.  

 A former Traverse City high school student who was sexually assaulted by a teacher is now suing the school district for allegedly harassing and ostracizing him after the abuse came to light.  

Keegan Gordon was 15 when he was assaulted by teacher Lisa Placek, 48, who pled guilty to criminal sexual assault and was sentenced to prison in 2012.

She was paroled last month, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Anybody worried about the water coming out of their taps in Flint can get a city employee to come test their water personally – on the city’s dime.

That’s according to about a dozen or so letters the city says it is sending out to people who’ve complained about their water quality in city meetings or in letters to city hall.

ArtPrize

 

If you really, really love history – of if you really, really love Ludington – then having a 19-day event called "History Prize" in the Lake Michigan town of 8,000 sounded like a great idea.  

For less ardent fans, however, the concept of three weeks of exhibits, collections, and "living history" tours put on by historians competing for cash prizes may have been less than thrilling. 

Either way, it's not happening now. At least, not in Ludington.

taxcredits.net

Flint's general fund deficit has gone from $19 million to $9 million in two years, and is on track to being eliminated entirely in five years.

That's according to an audit presented to the city council Monday night.

The second bit of good news for the city's fiscal health was legacy costs.

Andrew Pennebaker / Flickr

A small crowd of Flint residents came out to Monday night's city council meeting to protest what they say is discolored, odorous, unsafe water coming out of their taps. 

"It smells horribly," says Cindy Marshall. "I took a shower the other night and my eyes were blood red and burning. I broke out in a rash and was scratching like crazy just from taking a shower."

Rob Swatski / Flickr

It became a kind of overnight urban legend.

A couple of years ago, Detroit's "50,000 feral dogs" made national headlines, which in turn drew eye rolls from residents sick and tired of seeing their city depicted as an apocalyptic hellscape, especially when that 50,000 number was sketchy at best.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Black women historically have lower rates of breast-feeding than white women do.

An Orgeon-based breast milk company called Medolac said it had a way to help that: it claims its "donor moms" (as the company calls the women it pays for breast milk) report breast-feeding their own kids for longer periods.

One of those women is Andrea Short of Newport, Michigan.

"She was probably four months old when I realized I had an overflow problem," says Short, looking on as her 15-month-old daughter Johanna munches strawberries on the couch.

It’s one of the most anticipated books of 2015. It will keep you up way past your bedtime. And it was written in Ann Arbor coffee shops by University of Michigan MFA grad Rebecca Scherm, in between the freshmen writing classes she teaches at the university.

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