WUOMFM

Kate Wells

Host/Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering 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.   

Flickr Creative Commons

Professor John Kerr wants to be really clear: It's not that he thinks MSU police aren't doing a great job, or that the administration has anything to hide in its effort to investigate Dr. Larry Nassar, a former professor and sports physician at the school.

It's just that Kerr, and at least another 150 faculty members at Michigan State University who signed a letter detailing their concerns, are worried it looks bad if the university essentially investigates itself in a massive criminal sexual abuse case.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A bomb threat forced children to evacuate from Hebrew Day School in Ann Arbor Monday morning, as similar threats were reported in Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Jersey and other states.

An unidentified man called the Hebrew Day School just after 9 am, claiming there was a bomb in a backpack that was about to detonate, according to police.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Here’s a question some doctors and attorneys are getting: if you’re an immigrant – even a legal one – could you get deported for using food stamps? What about Medicaid? 

There's a lot of fear among immigrants right now that getting public assistance could make them a target.

Take the calls Dr. Eric Bouwens started getting a few weeks ago at the Clinica Santa Maria in Grand Rapids. 

The "Sparty" statue on the MSU campus
Betsy Weber / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Members of the MSU women's gymnastics team were told to say "no comment" to any reporters or police asking about sexual abuse allegations against the team physician, Dr. Larry Nassar.

That’s according to a lawsuit (which you can read here) filed by a scholarship student on the team, who also says she was repeatedly assaulted by Nassar as a child.

A team meeting in September 

  Between sports physician Larry Nasser being accused of sexually preying on athletes for decades and four football players charged with criminal sexual conduct, Michigan State University is an institution in crisis.
John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

After 27 years on the job, Kathie Klages is resigning as head coach of women’s gymnastics at MSU. She denies any knowledge about Dr. Larry Nassar’s alleged years-long, repeated sexual abuse of MSU gymnasts.

Two women have filed court documents claiming they told Klages about Nassar’s alleged assaults back in the 1990s. He wasn’t fired from MSU until earlier this past fall.  

Larry Nassar mug shot
Michigan Attorney General's office

A second former athlete says she told MSU’s Coach Kathie Klages some 20 years ago that Dr. Larry Nassar was sexually abusing her. In court documents filed today, the woman claims Coach Klages told her there was "no reason to bring up Nassar’s conduct."

Michigan State University suspended Coach Klages yesterday after 27 years on the job, though a University spokesman did not say why.

Reached Tuesday, Klages' attorney, Shirlee Bobrik, says she'll be issuing a written statement shortly.  

Michigan State University sign
MSU

Michigan State University suspended women’s gymnastics Head Coach Kathie Klages on Monday, after 27 years on the job.

A university spokesperson said he couldn’t immediately comment about the reason for the suspension.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

There’s a young couple in Washtenaw County trying to get off heroin. They say so far, they’re doing great. After 22 months in treatment, she’s going to community college and he says he’s working at a high-end grocery store.

They’re just two of the 20,000 low-income Michiganders who now have free access to drug treatment.

But because it’s tied up with the Affordable Care Act, nobody knows if it’s going to last.

By 7:00 Thursday morning, the methadone clinic is already bustling

Betsy DeVos
betsydevos.com

Democrats are trying to get just one more Republican to vote against Betsy DeVos's confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education tomorrow.  

They're planning to stay on the Senate floor overnight in a last-ditch bid to block DeVos's cabinet appointment.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she's been overwhelmed by constituents telling her not to vote for DeVos.  

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

Police would have to report anybody they arrest to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, if there’s “probable cause” to think they’re “not legally present in the United States.”

That’s under a new bill introduced in the state House of Representatives last month. It’s now heading to the Local Government committee.

A boy in a refugee camp in Turkey.
United Nations Development Programme / Flickr

An Iraqi man planned to come join his wife and child in Michigan later this year. They’d been issued special visas because of his wife’s work as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq. But when word started getting out last week about a looming crackdown on immigration, he changed his plans. By Wednesday, he was doing everything he could to get out of Iraq immediately.

Thomas Hawk/flickr collective commons

A Syrian refugee living in Michigan was waiting for his wife to join him in the next couple of weeks.

“There’s no hope of that happening now,” says Sean de Four, vice president of refugee resettlement at Samaritas.

Another 16 refugees were scheduled to arrive in the state next week, he says. Half are from Iraq and the others are from Syria. Now de Four’s received word that all of those resettlements have been canceled, and the refugees will remain in a camp in Turkey.

user Laura4Smith / Flickr

Oakland County health officials say they’re seeing a spike in whooping cough (AKA pertussis), largely among kids in day care and preschool. That’s likely because the disease is contagious and spreads easily, but kids that age aren’t old enough to have had all their pertussis vaccinations yet.

Since November, the county health department says it's seen 56 confirmed cases of whooping cough, compared with 10 this time last year. The county saw just 59 cases for all of last year. None of those cases has been fatal.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

State senators are making voting laws an issue this year. A mostly Democratic group of senators has introduced a set of bills they say will make voting easier for everyone.

One of the bills would allow people to preregister to vote when they turn 16 – as long as they have a driver’s license or a state ID card.

Democratic Senator Steve Bieda is a bill sponsor. Calling the legislation innovative, he said the state needs to keep up with modern times when it comes to voting. 

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts
Jim Fouts Facebook page

“I will not resign,” says Warren Mayor Jim Fouts on Facebook this morning, just an hour after several Democrats – including Congressman Sander Levin, D-MI, – called on Fouts to quit over racist, sexist audio tapes that are allegedly of Fouts.

Here's his Facebook post:

Charlie Davidson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In a perfect world, all of our doctors would be really, really good at something called “motivational interviewing.”

There are a million websites and books devoted to motivational interviewing, but here’s a super-quick synopsis (that might make an expert in motivational interviewing cringe): basically, it’s an in-depth, open-ended, non-judgmental conversation about health behaviors that draws out our own thoughts about our drug use/alcoholism/weight struggles, etc. 

  Between sports physician Larry Nasser being accused of sexually preying on athletes for decades and four football players charged with criminal sexual conduct, Michigan State University is an institution in crisis.
John M. Quick / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In 1999, an MSU student athlete says she told her head coach and trainers that Dr. Larry Nassar, then a sports doctor at the school and an Olympics gymnastics physician, “touched her vaginal area although she was seeking treatment for an injured hamstring.”

Larry Nassar mug shot
Michigan Attorney General's office

Eighteen alleged victims are suing former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and his former employer, Michigan State University.

The accusers are current and former athletes who sought treatment from Dr. Nassar, but instead, they say, they were repeatedly molested, with Dr. Nassar groping them and, in some cases, digitally penetrating them.  

Nassar was also a sports medicine professor at MSU until the school fired him in September.

One of the accusers, Rachael Denhollander, says the university failed them in its previous investigations into abuse.

Joy VanBuhler/Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has thrown out a sexual assault lawsuit against the University of Michigan, in which a former student claimed he was wrongly accused of rape.

The man – who just goes by John Doe in the court filings – says he had consensual sex with a female student at a party in January 2016.

She filed a complaint, however, saying she’d been drinking and was incapacitated at the time; she says she’d also told him “no sex” that night.

Flickr Creative Commons/Sanofi Pasteur

“Who killed Karina Baxter and the…other individuals (in the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak)"?

That’s the question federal prosecutors are asking the court to consider, as the murder case against Barry Cadden began today in Boston.

Cadden’s the former co-owner and head pharmacist of the New England Compounding Center. That’s the place that made contaminated back pain injections, which it shipped out to pain clinics and doctors across the country.

Hundreds of people got sick. More than 60 died, including 19 in Michigan.

chrysler logo
Ricardo Giaviti / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Fiat Chrysler says it's investing $1 billion in its U.S. factories to create 2,000 new jobs and add three new Jeep vehicles including a pickup truck, according to the Associated Press. The company says it will modernize a factory in Warren, Michigan to make two large SUVs. A plant in Toledo, Ohio, also will get new equipment to make a new Jeep pickup. The announcement is a continuation of efforts to increase production of SUVs and trucks as the company gets out of the small and midsize car businesses.

user clarita / morguefile

What happens to the state’s economy when 600,000 more Michiganders get health insurance, thanks to the state’s Medicaid expansion – AKA the Health Michigan plan that’s part of the Affordable Care Act?

According to Dr. John Ayanian, professor and director of the Institute of Healthy Policy and Innovation the University of Michigan, you get about 30,000 new jobs a year.

flickr/Sanofi Pasteur

For more than four years, victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak have been waiting for this.

Two men face second-degree murder charges in a trial set to begin this Friday: Barry Cadden and Glenn Chin, both of whom worked for the drug company that pumped out tainted back pain medications. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Britt-nee

This is the year I’m going to lose weight. And eat better! And go to the gym three times a week!

Those are the most popular kind of New Year’s resolutions in the country: last year, nearly 70% of us vowed to be fit and healthy or lose weight. 

Police
J J / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Just days after the presidential election, a University of Michigan student told police she’d been approached by an unknown man, who threatened to set her on fire with a lighter if she didn’t take off her hijab.

Now, police say they don’t think that actually happened.

In a statement released today, Ann Arbor police say investigators talked to witnesses and looked at several surveillance videos around the “area in question.” The student told them it took place off campus, on November 11th, between 5:30 and 7:00 pm on the 600 block of East William street.  

LSAT study books.
user Shane S / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan man wants blind people to be able to opt out of taking the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. And now, he’s taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Five years ago, Angelo Binno sued the American Bar Association for disability discrimination.

The Bar says law schools are required, as part of their admissions process, to only accept students that have taken the LSAT or another “valid and reliable test.”

Larry Nassar mug shot
Michigan Attorney General's office

Dr. Larry Nassar has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly possessing “thousands of images of child pornography” dating back to 2003. If he’s convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office says.

The indictment itself is for two counts of receiving and attempting to receive child porn, and lists several sexually descriptive files.  Dr. Nassar allegedly received “images that involved a minor who had not attained 12 years of age,” according to the federal indictment.

Who is Dr. Larry Nassar?

Babies exposed to opioids in the womb may suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, especially in rural areas
User anitapatterson / Morguefile / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As more babies are born addicted to opioids, rural communities are being hit the hardest, according to a new study from a University of Michigan pediatrician.  

Between 2004 and 2013, urban areas saw a four-fold increase in babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (that’s the clinical term for a baby born addicted to opioids, including heroin and some prescription painkillers). Rural areas saw a seven-fold surge.

Those rural moms were also more likely to struggle financially and have less access to mental health care, says the study’s author, University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Dr. Nicole Villapiano.

Shayan Sanyal / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When teenagers commit murder, you can’t treat them the same as adults.

Legally, the U.S. Supreme Court says you can’t just throw teenagers in prison forever, with no chance at parole, except in very rare cases. 

What "rare" really means in Michigan 

Matt Landry was just 21 years old when he was shot and killed, execution style, in an abandoned house in Detroit.

Doreen Landry, his mom, talked to WDIV about Landry’s killers.

healthcare.gov / YouTube

The deadline to sign up for a 2017 Obamacare plan is December 15th. That's  the last day for normal enrollment, if you want coverage starting January 1st.

After that, you can only sign up if you qualify for a “special enrollment period” prompted by a life event, like having a baby or losing your health insurance.  

Almost 400,000 Michiganders are covered under the individual plans they bought on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

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