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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Arts & Culture
5:00 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Documentary wraps featuring Detroit plane crash survivor

screen shot WDIV

Filming has wrapped on a documentary featuring the only survivor of the 1987 plane crash near Detroit.

Twenty-five years after Northwest Flight 255 killed some 150 passengers, Cecelia Cichan is telling her story publicly for the first time.

She was just four years old when she survived the crash that killed her parents and brother. Now she and 13 other lone survivors of commercial crashes are the focus of the film entitled "Sole Survivor."

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Law
5:01 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

No answers yet in police shooting of mentally-ill man

Police officers fatally shot a mentally-ill Saginaw man
taliesin Morgue File

Two months after Saginaw police fatally shot a mentally-ill man, his family and community are still calling for answers.

On July 1st, Milton Hall was gunned down in a parking lot during a confrontation with police. It was captured on a cell phone video and made national headlines, with some media reporting the officers fired 46 times.

Hall reportedly held a knife, though the video appears to show he was several feet away when police opened fire.

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Arts & Culture
5:08 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Rare Nazi railway car gets permanent home in Michigan museum

One of the original Nazi boxcars used to transport Jews
JoJan wiki commons

Construction starts today  on a new exhibit at Michigan's Holocaust Memorial Center. It will showcase what's likely one of the last existing Nazi railway cars.

Millions of European Jews were transported to concentration camps in these boxcars.  Allied Forces later commandeered the trains.  That's according to Stephen M. Goldman, the museum's director.

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Economy
7:17 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

As electric bills rise, critics call for more competition

Customers bear costs from green energy projects
imma http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/219775

Maybe you've seen a note on your electric bill, saying some of your payment goes towards green energy initiatives. It's to help explain - and, just maybe, stave off frustration about - double-digit increases in the last few years.  

But green energy aside, all these rising rates have some out-of-state electric companies seeing a business opportunity. They’ve joined with several Michigan businesses to form the group Energy Choice Now, which put out a new study out this week.

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Economy
5:03 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Help wanted: Michigan agriculture can't fill jobs

The pay is good and the industry's booming - but workers are tough to find
danielito http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/170485

It seems like agriculture in Michigan just can't catch a break. First the drought, now a growing labor shortage.

The industry is desperately seeking highly skilled workers with 4 year degrees. Think supply chain managers or grain market analysts. But these days, not enough college students are going into agriculture. 

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Arts & Culture
4:56 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Ann Arbor may vote on a public art tax

"Untitled" is a water sculpture in front of Ann Arbor's city hall
http://www.a2gov.org/government/publicservices/Pages/aapac.aspx

A public art tax may be on the ballot in Ann Arbor this November. The millage would replace the city's current system of funding art installations.

Right now the city has something called the "Percent for Art" program. It sets aside one percent of the budget on capital projects for art installations.  But here's the thing: that art has to be directly linked to whatever project funded it. For example, a $750,000 water sculpture in front of city hall, paid for with storm water utilities.

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Sports
4:46 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

After a two year fight, Down Syndrome athlete wins right to play senior season

taylorschlades http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/602713

After more than two years of campaigning, a high-schooler with Down Syndrome will be able to play football his senior year. His family fought to create an age waiver for athletes with disabilities.  

Eric Dompierre of Ishpeming has played with his team the last three years. He's a kicker, practices twice a day, and even asked for a Bowflex for Christmas to keep training.  But now he's 19, past the state age-limit for high school athletics.

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Sports
7:09 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Flint's favorite daughter: Claressa Shields takes gold

Shields' family and friends celebrate her victory
Kate Wells

Seventeen-year-old Claressa Shields has won the first US women’s gold medal in boxing.

And her hometown of Flint is celebrating. Residents came together to watch Claressa’s triumph in a standing-room-only bar downtown. Everyone was there, from the mayor, to families with babies strapped into high chairs.

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Sports
12:12 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Going for the gold: Flint's Claressa Shields heads to final match

Claressa Shields
Screenshot from Video The New York Times

Flint’s Olympic female boxer Claressa Shields will fight for a gold medal.  The boxer's family and friends gathered to watch their hometown athlete in her semifinal match this morning.  

It was an all-out brawl of a fight, fast and breathless and dominated by Shields. She took down Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova 29 to 15.

Cheers erupted from the crowd of supporters packed into a bar in downtown Flint. Marcella Adams is Shields’ mother. She says she may just pass out if her daughter wins the gold.“I might just faint! I almost fainted right here!”

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Sports
4:58 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Fighting for football: one Down Syndrome athlete's story

jeltovski http://mrg.bz/PpvEAw

Football practice starts up at high schools across the state this week. But for one athlete's family, the biggest day of the season is tomorrow.

That's when the Michigan High School Athletic Association will decide whether Eric Dompierre can play football his senior year. Dompierre has Down Syndrome, but that hasn't kept him from playing with Ishpeming High's team the last three years. Now nineteen, Dompierre is too old to be eligible for the team.

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Law
5:31 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Domestic partners head to court for health benefits

Peter Ways, Joe Breakey and daughter Aliza. The picture is part of a press release from the ACLU
http://www.aclumich.org/michiganfamilies ACLU

Five gay and lesbian couples head to federal court in Detroit on Tuesday. They're fighting to win back health coverage for domestic partners of public employees.

One of the couples is Peter Ways and his partner, Joe Breakey. Peter works for the Ann Arbor school district, which like other local public employers, isn't allowed to cover the domestic partners of their staff.

That's thanks to a recent state law. Proponents say the law could save the state several million dollars each year. But the ACLU says it's unconstitutional. 

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Environment & Science
2:54 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Michigan helps NASA go to Mars: UM scientists and the "Curiosity" rover

The rover "Curiosity," aka the Mars Science Laboratory
NASA wiki commons

The search for life on Mars takes a giant leap forward this weekend, and University of Michigan scientists are part of the mission. 

By now you’ve probably heard about the unmanned rover called "Curiosity." Set to land on the red planet Sunday night, it’s NASA’s most ambitious robotic operation yet. A science lab on wheels, the rover will scour Mars for any sign the plant could support life.

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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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