Kate Wells

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.   

Smart phone
Johan Larsson / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

More than 2,000 tips about potential school violence came in through a state-created app called “OK2Say” in 2015.

Twenty-three of those tips were about possible school attacks, which a state spokesperson says led to the removal of 14 weapons from schools.

Federal research shows when school violence happens, usually at least one other person – most likely a peer – knew about the attacker’s plan, but didn’t report it. 

Ann Arbor plans its first-ever deer cull this year.
Rodney Campbell / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A federal judge says the city of Ann Arbor can go ahead with its deer cull – at least, for now.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow denied a request for a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the city’s deer cull.

Alvimann / morgueFile

Wireless companies in the U.S. are hungry for more bandwidth. So the federal government is holding a big auction, and inviting TV stations to sell off their broadcast frequencies.

Several Michigan broadcasters are considering it, like WKAR-TV in the Lansing area.

They're holding public forums about what selling their broadcast spectrum frequency could mean for the 1.6 million people in their viewing area.

Thomas Marthinsen / Flickr

Many communities are grappling with an epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse. 

But when Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski crunched the local numbers, he says they were "eye-popping."

His officers responded to 26 heroin-related deaths in 2015, he says. 

"That is actually more than homicides and fatal car accidents here in the city of Lansing," he says.

Lester Graham

A Detroit artist is suing to protect her nine-story mural, which has become a landmark in the city's north end.

If you've driven by it, you probably remember Katherine Craig's massive, technicolor piece called The Illuminated Mural.

Created in 2009 with nearly 100 gallons of paint, it kind of looks like bleeding rainbow, covering a massive wall at 2937 East Grand Boulevard.

user Bernt Rostad / flickr

After the Paris climate agreement, it looks like 2016 could be a big year for new climate change and energy policies in the U.S.

And if Michigan businesses haven't already started preparing for new energy markets and a changing climate, they'll need to soon, says Andrew Hoffman, Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

"Any business who hasn't been looking at least at, where are our greenhouse gas emissions coming from? What will it cost to reduce them? Where will it be cheapest, where will it be most expensive?"

Wikimedia Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are some 10,000 unsolved homicides in Michigan since 1980.

But many counties lack the money and manpower to devote to cold cases.

That’s why the Prosecutors Association of Michigan is pulling together a new team of investigators, police, and prosecutors – some of them retired – to serve as a cold case advisory board.

“They may see things from a different perspective, and may offer insight or advice that someone who's very, very close to the case, cannot see,” says Jackson County Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka.

The University of Vermont

Wild bee shortages are hitting West Michigan farmers hard, according to a new national study.

Researchers at the University of Vermont, Michigan State University and other institutions say they've put together the first national map of where wild bee shortages may be toughest for farmers. 

Some of the "red zones" are in California, North Dakota, and Western Michigan.

MSU Professor Rufus Isaacs is one of the authors of the study, which indicates a 23% drop in wild bees populations in recent years.

Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan is building a new $10 million diversity center – something the Black Student Union demanded in 2014.

When the #BBUM campaign went viral that year, one of the demands was to replace the current Trotter Multicultural Center with a new building on central campus.

Kate Wells

UPDATED AT 8:53 am on 12/18/15

At a mosque in Dearborn Heights today, about a dozen faith leaders rallied against what they described as the recent "wave of Islamophobia."

Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Jewish leaders railed against Donald Trump, and his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

"It is unconstitutional, and un-American, to ban an entire religious group from America, the land of the free and home of the brave, just because they are Muslim,” said Baptist pastor Lawrence Glass.

MDOC

The Michigan Innocence Clinic says a wrongfully convicted man has served nearly 20 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.

Lamarr Monson was convicted of brutally killing a 12-year-old girl in 1996.

But attorneys with the Innocence Clinic say Monson was forced into a false confession, and that new fingerprint evidence points to another killer, who's currently living freely in another state.

A brutal killing 

Lamarr Monson and Christina Brown were both selling drugs out of the same apartment in Detroit in 1996. Monson would eventually tell police their relationship was sexual, but he says he didn’t know she was 12.


Syrian refugee children in Jordan enjoy a concert.
CGFome MRE

When refugees arrive at the Detroit airport, they’re often exhausted, physically and emotionally, by the weight of their journey. They may have literally have just the clothes on their backs.

And sometimes, they’re greeted by a volunteer welcoming committee of cheerful, homemade sign-wielding Michiganders.

“It’s like, here’s a bunch of six-foot blonde white people, 'Congratulations, this is your new normal,'” laughs Troy Howley, the refugee and volunteer outreach coordinator at Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

There’s a fierce debate happening right now in Michigan’s LGBT community.

Some activists are launching a big campaign to put civil rights for lesbian, gay and transgender people on the ballot. 

But others say voters just aren’t ready. 

LGBT discrimination is legal in Michigan. But making it illegal? That's tough. 

Here’s the reality of being LGBT in Michigan right now:

Jacob Lewkew, Midtown Detroit Inc.

Christopher Prater and his wife TaNisha grew up in Detroit, moved to Atlanta for several years, then came back and opened a vintage-meets-consignment boutique in Midtown called Thrift on the Avenue.

Two years ago, even before Thrift on the Ave was really up and running, neighbors were telling him: you guys should do a soft opening on Noel Night, because there’ll be some 40,000 people out shopping.  

photo by Vincent Duffy

Chris Robbins just wants to figure out why teachers and students aren't allowed to use Pinterest, and other websites blocked by the Plymouth-Canton school district.

So the Salem High School senior and student newspaper reporter sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the district, asking for emails in which some 85 teachers and staff appealed the blocked websites.

UNHCR

 

There’s been a lot of confusion in the last few days.

So let’s just clarify something here: Syrian refugees are still coming to Michigan. More are expected.  

And Governor Snyder is fine with that.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Several refugee agencies in Michigan say Governor Snyder’s administration led them to believe, in several behind-the-scenes conversations over the last couple weeks, that Snyder would be publicly un-doing his “pause” on bringing more Syrian refugees to Michigan.

Go Blue / The University of Michigan

Maybe do some lunges today, or jog around the block or something.

Just get the blood flowing a little, in between Thanksgiving's feasting and Saturday's football marathon of snacking and sitting and watching Michigan and Michigan State wrap up the regular season with  big, emotional, must-watch games. 

Juan Flores

Anyone who’s ever been stuck on campus for Thanksgiving knows it’s kind of depressing.

“Just seeing everybody leaving with their luggage, and you’re left behind, you know it’s going to be a long weekend,” says Denise Cruz, a senior at Michigan State University.  “And it does make you feel a bit out of place. Like you have nowhere to go.”

Kate Wells

In metro Detroit, several Garden City families are fighting eviction, after they say their homes were wrongfully foreclosed and sold to the city.

Garden City bought 17 foreclosed home from Wayne County this year, before the houses went to public auction. But the city didn’t tell residents their homes had been purchased, and then resold the houses to a private development company.  

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

When composer Todd Machover asked Detroiters to send in sounds of their city to help create a "sonic portrait" of Detroit, he wasn't expecting 15,000 submissions.

But that's what he got.

Bytemarks / flickr

In 2016,  the U.S. economy will grow at the fastest pace in 10 years, according to the University of Michigan's annual economic forecast.

They're also predicting annual unemployment will drop below 5% next year, for the first time since 2007.

The forecasters say nearly five million new jobs will be added over the next couple of years, which could be especially good news for part-time workers seeking full-time jobs.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Oakland County’s top elected official, L. Brooks Patterson, is demanding the city of Pontiac stop a new housing development and community center being built for Syrian refugees.

Patterson says accepting any Syrian refugees carries an “immediate threat of imminent danger” after the recent attacks in Paris – even though it’s unclear whether any of the attackers were Syrian refugees.

In fact, Patterson says he'd like the U.S. to stop accepting any refugees or tourists from anywhere in the Middle East.

Side sonar scan of the sunken barge believed to be the "Argo."
Tom Kowalczk, CLUE

 

 The U.S. Coast Guard is moving ahead – very, very carefully, it says – with  plans to recover hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel from a sunken barge that's been sitting at the bottom of Lake Erie for more than 70 years.

The barge is believed to be the Argo, which sank in the 1930s and was reportedly carrying some 200,000 gallons of petroleum products, including crude oil. 

For years, no one was sure exactly where the Argo went down, until shipwreck hunters discovered it this summer.

Dearborn Mosque
user rypix / Flickr

Dearborn’s large Lebanese community continues to grieve those it lost in Thursday’s twin suicide bombings in Beirut.

“You’ve never seen a wife and husband love each other so much,” says Dearborn resident Mehdi Taleb of his sister, Leila Taleb, and her husband Hussein Mostapha.

Triin Q / wikipedia commons

Casino workers go back to the bargaining table in Detroit this weekend, as city leaders keep a close eye on negotiations.

That’s because a major strike could cripple casinos, which are a huge source of tax revenue for Detroit.

Already Detroit’s thousands of casino employees - not just the card dealers and floor workers, but people in wardrobe, guest services, kitchens, valet services- have given union leaders approval to call a strike if necessary.

That same leadership turned down a contract proposal from MGM Grand, Motor City Casino and Greektown earlier this week.

Kate Wells

A couple hundred University of Michigan students came out to central campus Wednesday evening in a passionate show of support for protesters at the University of Missouri.

As the crowd grew, one organizer from the U of M School of Social Work said black students at the University of Michigan can empathize with the experiences, and the feelings of frustration and isolation, that Mizzou students are voicing.

Neeta Lind / Flickr

Michigan police are weighing in on state proposals to officially recognize – and regulate – medical marijuana dispensaries.

The Michigan House already passed a bill to create a new framework for who grows, transports, and sells marijuana to these storefronts – sometimes called a “seed-to-sale” tracking system.

Wikimedia Commons

Students, faculty and staff talked about their frustrations – from who gets tenure, to recruiting Detroit students, to what it feels like to be one of the few black students on campus – at a "community assembly” on campus diversity today.

The event was moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page, of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. Community members were invited to share their own experiences and goals for the university.

Sixty days.  That’s how long universities are supposed to take to investigate sexual assault cases.

But at Michigan State University, those investigations can drag on for seven, eight, even nine months.

A recent federal report slammed MSU for taking too long to resolve sexual assault cases.

But a Michigan Radio investigation has found the problems at MSU go far deeper than that. 

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