Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Lindsey has worked as a reporter at radio stations in both West and Southeast Michigan, and her work has been recognized by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan AP. She's a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Specs Howard School of Media Arts.

Q&A

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Reporting from a hot air balloon was one of the scariest. Trying to bubble-wrap my recording equipment to come with me down a giant waterslide took the most preparation and ingenuity. Mostly I remember people; so many downtrodden, truthful, funny, inspiring, regular-everyday people. Nearly everyone I meet and talk to shapes how I view life in at least the slightest way.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio?
"Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's hilarious. "On the Media" is a very, very close second.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
Mostly, I'm proud of what we do and the stories we produce.

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The internet! What did anyone do without it! I mean, I remember life without it, but it's amazing how much I rely on it every day.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
It depends on the season. I love wakeboarding in the summer, hanging out on the beach, going on long walks with my dog Lola, grilling. In the winter I wish I could hibernate. I do enjoy snowboarding and movies and warm drinks indoors then.

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise!

Gov. Snyder speaks at a Flint news conference.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost six months since the Flint Water Task Force blamed the culture of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Flint water crisis.

The Task Force said a culture of quote “technical compliance” exists inside the drinking water office.

Its report found that officials were buried in technical rules – thinking less about why the rules existed. In this case, making sure Flint’s water was safe to drink.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

The Grand Rapids City Commission tomorrow will vote on whether to hire an outside consultant to study if its police force is racially biased when pulling over drivers.

A similar study conducted in 2004 found no systemic bias in Grand Rapids. But after the riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, people who spoke at community meetings still felt racial targeting was a problem in Grand Rapids. 

That's why city leaders are recommending a second study based on more current data. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Gerald R. Ford presidential museum reopens this week. The museum has been closed since October to undergo $15 million in renovations.

“We basically took the museum down to the cement floors and the outside walls,” said Joe Calvaruso, executive director Ford’s Presidential Foundation.

He says technology has changed a lot since the museum first opened in 1981. 

Eighteen Michigan school districts project deficit-free operations by the end of June, and another 15 are operating at reduced deficits in 2016.
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Leaders of the charter school system in Highland Park are more confident as they wrap up this school year.

Highland Park's charter system was created by an emergency manager in 2012 to save money. But soon the charter district ran into its own money problems, and began running a deficit.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Symphony has made one of the most important decisions an orchestra makes: selecting a new music director. The search for a new director has taken the better part of four years.

Brazil native Marcelo Lehninger says he felt a “great chemistry” with Grand Rapids' musicians when he guest-conducted in 2015 and earlier this year.

“Every single concert that orchestra plays, you know we need to convey that passion, because that, it’s really what gets to people’s hearts,” Lehninger said.

Simon Brass / Flickr

Michigan is closing one of its 32 prisons to save $22 million in the next fiscal year.

The Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County will close in September. The minimum security prison has more than 1,300 beds and 230 employees. It’s been open since 1956.

The corrections department made the announcement Tuesday, a day before a legislative committee is expected to endorse the closure in the next state budget.

Courtesy Photo / Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay

Federal officials are figuring out a plan to safely recover a cargo vessel that’s run aground in a small channel west of Sault Sainte Marie. The 833-foot-long Roger Blough was taking iron ore pellets from Minnesota to Ohio when it ran aground Friday night.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Yaw is with the U.S. Coast Guard. He says it’s not clear what happened.

“There are a lot of factors in the marine environment that just, any one of them can cause something like this and so it’s really hard to say,” Yaw said Monday afternoon.

Virginia Tech

The head of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality says the agency will be taking a much closer look at how cities across the state are testing for lead in water this summer.

MDEQ interim Director Keith Creagh says his agency will ask the state’s 1,400 water systems tough questions about how and where they’re testing for lead.

Creagh says DEQ will ask cities to prove they’re testing for lead at the right homes, particularly those with lead service lines.

Alper Çuğun / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A group of West Michigan business leaders wants their peers to consider hiring people who’ve served time in jail.

Butterball Farms started hiring people with criminal records 20 years ago to attract more qualified candidates to their butter processing business.

An empty hallway lined with lockers.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The state is giving Benton Harbor Area Schools another emergency loan.

The southwest Michigan school district of roughly 2,200 students has already received more than $5 million in emergency loans from the state’s Emergency Loan Board. A Michigan treasury department spokesman says last week the appointed board approved another one, this time for $3.3 million, making it the largest loan the board has given the district so far.

(l to r) Joel Beauvais, Office of Water, EPA - Keith Creagh, Director, MDEQ - Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech - Lee Anne Walters, former Flint Resident
screen grab YouTube

The head of Michigan’s environmental regulatory agency says he won’t take any more administrative action against state employees involved in the Flint water crisis until the criminal cases against them are resolved.

In January, interim director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality Keith Creagh asked Michigan State Police to investigate employees in his department.

The report was finished in March, but it hasn’t been released to the public yet. A request for the report under the Freedom of Information Act is pending.

Mark Savage / Entergy

Federal regulators will not propose a civil penalty against the owners of the Palisades nuclear plant. That’s after a years-long investigation found Palisades employees “willfully violated” federal rules.

State has spent at least $3.6 million to pay workers in Flint's water crisis

May 16, 2016
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan has spent millions to pay officials and government workers scrambling to provide water, filters and other resources after lead contaminated Flint's water, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

Photo of President Obama speaking in Ann Arbor.
YouTube

Today President Obama heads to Flint, Michigan to meet with residents still dealing with the water crisis.

He’s set to meet with residents, participate in a briefing with state and local officials and make remarks at Northwestern High School.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A common practice by operators of municipal drinking water systems is getting more scrutiny.

Last week the first criminal charges were filed in connection with the water crisis in Flint.

One of the charges caught my attention, because it includes a practice that’s the norm in Michigan cities.

Velsicol Chemical operating on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan.
Pine River Citizen Superfund Task Force

Researchers are expected to release preliminary findings this week about the potential long term health effects of PBB. The flame retardant was accidentally introduced into Michigan’s food supply in the 1970s.  

Experts are expected to release the results at a conference hosted by Alma College. PBB was once manufactured in the neighboring city of St. Louis, Michigan.

“We want an outcome that goes beyond just all of us hearing about this information from these experts,” said Ed Lorenz, a professor at Alma College.

Andrew Steiner / Feeding America West Michigan

Michigan is boosting efforts to provide healthy food to Flint residents amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it's awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Andrew Steiner says they knew there was a food processor north of Grand Rapids willing to donate frozen produce; squash, blueberries, cherries, asparagus and more.

“The amount of food that Arbre Farms was able to donate was actually more than we were able to handle,” Steiner said.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces charges in his team's investigation into the Flint water crisis on April 20, 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An official in the state Attorney General's office says warrants were issued this morning in 67th District Court against Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, and former Supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch.

The charges stem from their involvement in the Flint water crisis.

Attorney General Schuette launched the investigation three months ago.

In addition to the charges against the three individuals, Schuette said more people will be charged.

Lead pipes
Mitch Barrie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder is backing tougher standards for lead in drinking water. Cities are still figuring out what any proposed changes to drinking water regulations would mean for them.

If lawmakers were to enact the changes, it would make Michigan’s standard the toughest in the country.

Marc Edwards delivers the results of the tests on April 12, 2016.
YouTube / screen grab

New tests from the team at Virginia Tech show Flint’s water is “highly variable” and still not safe to drink without a filter.

Marc Edwards says tests done last month show Flint’s water is still above the federal action level for lead.

More from their press release:

Jim Renaud / Creative Commons

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit the ACLU filed in 2015 against a Roman Catholic hospital group. The lawsuit challenged the hospital group’s anti-abortion policy.

Livonia-based Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

The ACLU alleges pregnant women who develop complications are being discriminated against at Trinity’s hospitals because the Catholic health group won't terminate pregnancies.

Clyde Robinson / Creative Commons

Repossession companies want lawmakers to block a bill they say will harm their business and consumers.

The package of bills, SB 656 and 657, would exempt companies that serve as middle-men between lenders and the people who actually repossess cars from having to get a license to operate as debt collectors in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Because of the Flint water crisis, the U.S. EPA wants more transparency about where the nation’s lead lines are. Specifically, the EPA wants to know how many lead service lines there still are underground, and they want to know exactly where they are. As we reported Tuesday, many Michigan cities do not know this basic information, it’s not just Flint.

The EPA also wants water systems to post the results from water tests to prove cities are in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

This week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave the feds an update on these requests.

Michigan Radio

Because of Flint’s water crisis, regulators are asking water systems to answer a couple of seemingly basic questions: Where are Michigan’s lead water pipes? How many are left in the ground?

We’ve found the answers are hard to come by.

Lead leaches into drinking water from old lead service lines or lead solder, and from some plumbing in people’s home. A service line is the pipe that takes drinking water from the water main under the road into your home.

Nowadays, those lines are usually made of copper, sometimes plastic. But back before the 1950s, lead was pretty common.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state is now recommending that cities avoid replacing only part of a water service line if it's made of lead. Partial replacements aren’t uncommon.

Typically the municipality only owns part of the line, the part from the water main to the property line. This is the publicly owned portion of the service line. In this case, the part of the line that runs from the public right of way into a home is the privately owned portion of the line.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined a number of concerns in a letter to Flint and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Two of these lingering issues were deemed “critical” or “significant.” 

Those have to do with the city’s comprehensive plan to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water and “inadequate number of qualified personnel” at the city’s water department.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking all water systems to come up with plans to find and replace lead pipes in their communities, even the portions of water service lines that are on private property, which are traditionally the responsibility of the homeowner.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A couple of organizations suing the state over the Flint water crisis want people to have better access to safe drinking water on a daily basis. They are asking a federal judge to order the state to either deliver bottled water, or send professionals to install water filters at every home in Flint.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding firm on its decision that certain funding the state of Michigan is requesting to help with the Flint water crisis is “not appropriate.”

This goes back to January, when President Obama approved an emergency declaration for Flint. But he denied Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for a disaster declaration because Flint’s water crisis is man-made, not a natural disaster.

The emergency declaration will bring up to $5 million in direct funding to Flint. A disaster declaration could have brought millions more.

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