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Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio’s Investigative Reporter. She previously served as 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!

drinking fountain
jasongillman / pixabay

There’s still a lot of money on the table for Michigan schools that wish to test their drinking water for lead. Far fewer school districts have taken advantage of the grant program than the state expected. So the state is trying to tweak the lead testing program so more schools could or would apply for the money.

pork chops on a grill
bitslammer / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

A massive new plant that turns hogs into pork loin and bacon opens up this week in Coldwater, about 80 miles southwest of Ann Arbor.

The new Clemens Food Group plant employs more than 800 people. Once it’s up and running, it’ll process roughly 10,000 hogs a day.

“This is the biggest thing we’ve had in 30 years,” said Mary Kelpinski, CEO of the Michigan Pork Producer Association.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

After the judge dismissed the murder charge against him, and advised LaMarr Monson to go enjoy his life, he held his sobbing mother in the hallway just outside the courtroom for a long time.

Delores Monson never gave up on her “baby son,” now 45 years old. For years, she tried to convince people her baby was innocent.

“Different prosecutors, judges, lawyers, I’ve been to so many people it’s not even funny. But I thank God for Jesus. And I thank God that my son is home. And he’s free!” she shouts, beaming ear to ear.

“He’s free! He’s free! He’s free!”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Akilah Cobb was seven years old when they arrested her dad, Desmond Ricks, in 1992. Her sister was only five days old.

Cobb says she was ashamed and angry when she found out why her dad was gone. Her mom and grandma always told her Ricks was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But she didn’t always believe it.

“I felt like whatever was going on, whatever I heard – (he) did it. That put a huge effect on our relationship. I didn’t speak to my father for about five or six years straight in jail,” Cobb said.

CharlesHodgson / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Detroit is trying to prevent street flooding by regularly cleaning the sewer grates and catch basins on the side of the road.

The city announced the new program Tuesday.

“Lately we’ve been getting less frequent rain but the intensity of the rains has been more severe. So not only is it a nuisance but it also can be hazardous,” Detroit Water and Sewer Department’s chief engineer Palencia Mobley said.

It likely wouldn’t prevent major street flooding like what happened in 2014, but the situation should improve, Mobley said.

Courtesy Photo / Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

A necropsy (basically an autopsy for a fish) of the eight-pound Asian carp found just nine miles from the Great Lakes is finished. It shows that the fish was born and raised in central Illinois; proof for some that the barrier isn’t strong enough.

Bailiwick Studios / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

As political pushback heats up over confederate monuments, the city of Lowell is dropping the name Robert E. Lee from a longtime community attraction.

Donnie Ray Jones / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit is trying to do more to prevent premature births and infant deaths. The city outlined the new plan Wednesday.

picture of DTE Trenton Channel power plant
Courtesy of DTE Energy

DTE Energy wants to replace three old coal plants with a huge new natural gas burning one. The company expects to break ground in 2019, DTE announced today. That's if it can convince the state that there is a need for the new plant, and that natural gas is the best way to fill it. 

Trevor Lauer, DTE Electric's president and chief operating officer,  says the plant will be capable of producing 1,100 megawatts. That's enough to power 850,000 homes.

Courtesy of the Detroit Health Department

Detroit activists are highlighting what they say is a growing public health crisis. Today they brought in medical experts from outside the city to discuss the potential health implications of mass water shutoffs in Detroit. They want a moratorium.

“There’s no question that access to safe and clean water from a health perspective is a top priority,” Detroit’s top health officer, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.

Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

This week, community organizers in Detroit are bringing in experts to talk about the health implications of city-imposed mass water shutoffs. They want to highlight a research project done at Henry Ford Health System that showed a statistically significant correlation between water shutoffs and water-associated illness.

But Henry Ford Health System spokeswoman Brenda Craig warns the study was not conclusive because the city only provided block-level data, not specific addresses that have been turned off.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Grayling water officials say they’ve discovered “trace” amounts of a type of perfluorinated chemical in the city’s drinking water wells. The levels are far below a health advisory put out by the U.S. EPA.

Grayling Department of Public Works Superintendent Kyle Bond says they first tested for the family of chemicals known as PFCs in May.

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Lawyers say they’ve agreed to a broad framework to settle lawsuits against the state’s School Reform Office. The office caused controversy when it mailed letters to thousands of parents earlier this year, saying their child’s school was at risk of closing because of “academic failure for many years.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, attorneys representing four Michigan school districts will argue that the state overstepped its bounds when it threatened to close three dozen low-performing schools earlier this year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Genesee County United Way is expanding its program to help low-income Flint residents pay their past-due water bills. The non-profit is funneling more money to the program and is looking to raise even more.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Attorneys for a number of people who say the state of Michigan wrongfully garnished their wages or seized their tax refunds hope an appeals court will rule quickly in their case.

Karl Williams says he’s one of tens of thousands of people who were wrongly accused of fraud by the state’s automated system for unemployment insurance.

The Lansing resident says the state is still garnishing his wages. He’s been working a ton of overtime to make ends meet.

Kalamazoo River
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Federal environmental regulators want to remove the Otsego City Dam in Allegan County in an effort to clean up toxic chemicals left behind by the paper mill industry.

The newly proposed plan released late last week also includes excavating some of the contaminated Kalamazoo River banks, and rerouting the river channel past the most contaminated areas.

Flickr user Frank Juarez / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Just before the holiday weekend, Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees made official what parents have known for a while now: Michigan Technical Academy is closing. The pre-k through 8th grade charter school in Detroit has been open for more than a decade.

The state had threatened to close the school in the spring, over persistently low performance on standardized tests.

Keeria Myles says her 8-year-old daughter, Sonja, had only been at the school one year, but loved it.

“She’s upset about it and she feels like it’s her fault,” Myles said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Judith Pruitt’s water bill is $7,545.29.

That’s after the Flint retiree withdrew nearly $900 out of her savings account a few weeks ago to pay the city, or else her water would’ve been shut off, she said.

New data analyzed by Michigan Radio show Pruitt is not alone.

I am switching roles a bit at Michigan Radio. The change requires me to sell my lovely house in Grand Rapids to work out of Ann Arbor.

Groups brainstorming
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Elected leaders in Grand Rapids are trying to satisfy critics who say they’re not doing enough to change police policies and outcomes critics say are racially biased.

It's part of a larger effort launched after violence in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Mike Maycroft, left, president of the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association; and Andy Bingel, president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association.
Lindsey Smith

A recent study commissioned by the city of Grand Rapids, which found that black drivers in the city are twice as likely to be pulled over as white motorists, is getting some criticism.

But Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom says the new critique doesn’t change the fact that there’s a problem. Even if the notion is hard to swallow for police officers.

Bicylists
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost a year since one of the nation’s worst bicycling accidents. A pickup truck driver struck nine people riding just north of Kalamazoo on June 7. Five of the friends in the “chain gang” were killed.

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor is approaching a milestone of sorts. The city is replacing the last of its lead connections in the water system.

Ann Arbor city officials say they never allowed full lead service lines, the water pipes buried underground that connect homes to the water main.

Where are lead water pipes in Michigan? Here’s our best guess

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

You cannot tell if Michigan’s School Reform Officer Natasha Baker was prepared to recommend closing any of the 38 schools on the state’s lowest performing school’s list. That information was redacted from public documents released this week by the state, following a March 3 request filed by Michigan Radio under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Washington Writer's Academy in Kalamazoo
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Detroit and at least seven other Michigan school districts have reached an agreement with Michigan’s Department of Education to allow more than 35 schools to stay open for at least the next three years.

All the schools performed in the bottom 5% on standardized tests for at least three consecutive years.

The state’s School Reform Office, or SRO, caused an uproar in January when it sent letters directly to parents announcing the potential closures without first notifying local school officials.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three years ago today, Flint switched the source of its drinking water, and triggered a public health crisis.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A new study finds Grand Rapids Police are biased when it comes to pulling over drivers in the city.

A study released this week shows black drivers are twice as likely to be stopped. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Berrien County Prosecutor's office has filed two felony charges against former Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Leonard Seawood.

Seawood worked at Benton Harbor Area Schools from the fall of 2011 until the spring of 2015, when he was put on a paid leave while the school board conducted an investigation.  Four months later, Seawood agreed to resign for an $80,000 payout.

Seawood was charged today with one count of embezzlement and one count of obtaining money by false pretenses.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

About 500 people showed up to a public hearing in Big Rapids hosted by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality last night. Almost every one of them spoke against Nestle’s plan to pump 400 gallons of water a minute to sell under the company’s Ice Mountain bottled water brand. 

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