WUOMFM

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!

Mark Savage / Entergy Corporation

A state board wants more information on how Consumers Energy will make up for the nearly 800 megawatts of power that will be lost after the Palisades Nuclear Plant’s planned shut down in 2018.

In documents filed this month, Consumers said it plans to make up for the lost nuclear power with an expanded wind farm in Michigan’s Thumb region, increased energy efficiency, and by purchasing power from within the regional electric grid.

Screenshot / C-SPAN

About a week ago, as attorneys and staffers helped Betsy DeVos prepare and file paperwork required as part of her confirmation process to become the next U.S. education secretary, somebody asked her about her ties to her mother’s foundation.

“She said, ‘Well wait a minute. I’ve never been on that board or never been involved with that foundation.’ Nor did she ever give consent for her name to be used,” DeVos family spokesman John Truscott said. “Best we can figure it was an error on behalf of the foundation staff and was never run by her.”

Screenshot / C-SPAN

School choice advocate Betsy DeVos answered a wide range of questions during a three-hour confirmation hearing in Washington D.C. Tuesday night. The billionaire from West Michigan could head the U.S. Department of Education soon.

You can watch the hearing here or below:

Maialisa / Pixabay

The U.S. EPA is proposing rules that would require plumbing manufacturers to mark pipes and fittings for drinking water as “lead free.”

Back in the 1980s, Congress banned lead in plumbing pieces, solder and pipes used for drinking water. Now the EPA wants manufacturers to do a better job labeling these “lead free” fixtures so people don’t accidentally mix them up with similar products that don’t have to be lead free.

Until 2014, “lead free” brass fittings could have up to 8% lead.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A group of doctors, regulators and outside experts is meeting behind closed doors in Chicago Tuesday to determine if Flint’s water technically meets federal standards again. The meeting at EPA’s regional headquarters could be the start of a shift; from a public health emergency to a longer term response.

Water samples have improved for several months. But there are still some homes with spikes in lead levels that are potentially dangerous without a water filter.

Some experts now believe any homes with a lead water service line are at risk.

Mark Savage / Entergy

This month the state should get some more information about the expected closure of the Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven.

The Michigan Public Service Commission sent a letter to Consumers Energy last month with a laundry list of questions about the planned closure.

Many Flint residents still rely on bottled water.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A judge has appointed a mediator in a federal case that could dramatically change how the state of Michigan responds to the Flint water crisis.

Last month, U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered the state to immediately begin delivering safe bottled water to Flint residents. Right now the state provides water and filters but residents have to pick it up or call a hotline to get it delivered.

People protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline rallied in Grand Rapids Thursday. They want people to move money out of banks that support the project.

“We’re in front of this Chase bank right here,” Manistee resident Kareen Lewis said to the crowd of a few dozen people.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to divesting from anybody who is supporting that Dakota Access Pipeline,” she said.

LucasTheExperience / Flickr

A Republican blogger and activist from West Michigan is headed to jail. Last month a jury found Brandon Hall guilty of 10 felony counts for forging signatures on election petitions in 2012.

Hall admitted to using different pens and hands to forge the signatures to get a judicial candidate on the ballot.

The Grand Haven Tribune reports the 27-year-old Grand Haven man called his actions "the most ignorant thing I've ever done."

The Fraser sinkhole is about 250 feet by 100 feet.
Henrique Pinto / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Officials say it will take several months to repair a sinkhole in a suburban Detroit neighborhood. The sinkhole forced home evacuations and closed roadways in Fraser. City and county employees have been working around the clock over the holiday weekend and local leaders say it’s going to be all-hands-on-deck to make repairs.

The sinkhole is more of a depression, because it hasn’t actually opened up above ground yet. But officials believe it’s about 250 feet long and 100 feet wide; larger than one in 2004 that caused a nearby section of roadway to cave in.

Daniel Goodwin / Flicker https://flic.kr/p/8HGMDv

The city joins a growing movement aimed at improving public health.

A local law banning retailers in Ann Arbor from selling cigarettes to those under age 21 takes effect January 1. The local law restricts retailers from selling tobacco to people under 21 but it doesn’t target 18 to 21 year olds for possessing cigarettes.

A person marking a ballot.
flickr user Michael Dorausch / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The U.S. Justice Department says Eastpointe’s system of electing council members to represent the entire city, at-large as opposed to a certain ward or neighborhood, has resulted in violations of the Voting Rights Act.

City Manager Steve Duchane says local leaders support inclusion and diversity, but disagree with the allegations.

“I think we’re saddened. I think it’s a bit repulsive to be talking about black, white the way we are in this justice department letter and in our conversations with them,” Duchane said.

The water crisis in Flint, Mich., didn't start a year ago. For almost two years, officials told residents the water was fine when it wasn't.

Later the officials told residents to drink filtered water — unless you're a baby or pregnant — in that case drink only bottled water.

Then they said tap water is safe for everybody, as long as you have a filter.

But now lots of people in Flint don't believe anything officials tell them.

"Don't drink the city water. Don't drink Flint water, period," says Jennice Badon says, who lives in the city.

Melissa Mays (right) says she won't feel the water is safe until every home in Flint is tested.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of Flint residents and activists is worried government officials are gearing up to declare their water safe to drink without the testing they feel is needed to back it up.

Numbers released this month from the state and Virginia Tech show lead levels are improving overall.

Technically, Flint’s water may already meet federal standards for lead in tap water. Researchers and officials from all levels of government will meet early next month to go over all the data and determine next steps.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Thousands came out to what President-elect Donald Trumped dubbed his victory tour Friday night. He thanked voters for flipping Michigan for a Republican president for the first time in decades.

Trump covered a lot of ground, speaking for about an hour to a packed Deltaplex in Grand Rapids.

He promised to repeal Obamacare and bring factory jobs back to Michigan.

The biggest round of applause came after Trump promised to use “extreme vetting” of refugees and immigrants from certain countries.

graph
MDEQ

New tests show lead levels in Flints water are back within federal standards.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the new data shows more than 96% of the samples are at or below the 15 parts per billion (ppb) federal lead action level. It’s the sixth round of sentinel testing that has produced results within the federal lead action level.

The MDEQ’s results come after new independent testing by researchers from Virginia Tech University, which also showed improvement in Flint’s lead tainted tap water.

London Looks / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A mom whose son died at a Grand Rapids daycare last year has been visiting Lansing, pushing state lawmakers to create criminal penalties in similar cases.

Investigators found the daycare where Mary Fales’ 3-month-old Cooper died had violated several rules, particularly around safe infant sleep.

Lee Anne Walters with her son Garrett outside of her home in Flint.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

One of the women who helped uncover the Flint water crisis says members of the U.S. Navy are retaliating against her husband. You can catch up on her family's back story here.

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Congress returns to D.C. this week to begin a three-week-long lame duck session.

Congressman Dan Kildee says funding for Flint is at the top of his list of things to get done before the end of the year.

“We’ve really been working on this for almost the entire year to get Congress to take action, and until we get it done it continues to be my number one priority,” Kildee said.

The funding could help pay to replace thousands of lead service lines damaged because of the water crisis.

Medical Marijuana
Dank Depot / Creative Commons http://tinyurl.com/oall5zn

Lawyers for Spectrum Health are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a patient who alleges the company told her employer she was a medical marijuana patient.

In court documents, Lisa Richlich’s lawyer alleges her Spectrum Health doctor was negligent and invaded his client’s privacy when the doctor sent medical information to Richlich’s employer.

Richlich was to have neck surgery in the spring of 2015. She asked her doctor to send information to her employer, auto-supplier Gentex, about the surgery so that she could get time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Christian organization dedicated to helping the homeless served more than 2,000 people a free Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.

The group, Mel Trotter Ministries, got more volunteers than it could use.  Volunteer coordinator Paula Seales says a week ago, she had 756 volunteers signed up to help serve the free dinner in downtown Grand Rapids.  By Thursday, it was close to 900.  She had to put some people on a waiting list and turn some people away.

“My phone was just constantly ringing," says Seales.  "'Can I volunteer? I want to be a part of this. It’s so wonderful.”

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Congressman Dan Kildee wants the Air Force to do more to help Oscoda residents whose groundwater is contaminated by perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs. The Wurtsmith Air Force Base used firefighting foams containing PFCs on its property in Oscoda for decades. The base is now closed.

Kildee sent a letter to the Air Force this week, outlining a long list of concerns.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the DeVos family has given roughly $14 million to political campaigns and causes over the last two years.
BetsyDeVos.com

President-elect Donald Trump has selected longtime school choice advocate Betsy DeVos to head the U.S. Department of Education. (Presidential cabinet picks are subject to Senate confirmation. See who Trump has picked for his cabinet so far with WaPo's cabinet tracker.)

Trump’s stance on education policy has, thus far, been difficult to discern. His pick of DeVos indicates how his administration likely sees education policy going forward.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A biodigester could be temporarily shut down if the operators can’t figure out how to stop foul smells from wafting over the city of Lowell. This week the Lowell city council voted to instruct its attorney to send a letter to operators to shut down the biodigester until the smell is gone.

The biodigester converts beer waste, salad dressing and manure into methane gas that powers a turbine and generates electricity.

Greg Northrup, a managing partner of the digester, acknowledges smell is still an issue, but he says it should be resolved in the next few days.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A team of eight community partners, including Grand Rapids Public Schools, health providers, and artistic groups are working together on a big project in Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood.

The group of organizations, along with help from the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, are taking five acres of blighted properties and transforming them into new mixed-income homes and apartments, a public high school, and a community center.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

New test results show lead levels in Kalamazoo’s water system have dropped.

The federal limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Last time the city tested, in 2014, Kalamazoo’s lead level was 13 parts per billion. Now it's down to 4 ppb.

13 ppb was close enough to worry Shannan Deater, Kalamazoo’s Environmental Services Programs Manager. She says some of the higher lead results in 2014 weren’t really a good, representative sample. 

agilitynut.com / File photo

A group of people met in Albion last night in an attempt to unify the community after someone vandalized several buildings downtown.

Courtesy Photo

For the first time in 28 years a majority of Michigan voters chose a Republican president.

Although low voter turnout in big, democratic strongholds like Flint and Detroit played a role, exit polling shows rural voters turned out in record numbers to flip Michigan for Trump.

With the first female presidential candidate on the ballot this election, it was widely expected women would turnout in large numbers for Hillary Clinton. Most did. But exit polls still show 42% of women backed Trump. White, non-college educated women voted for Trump 2 to 1.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A loud, dissatisfied crowd streamed through the streets in Grand Rapids Thursday night, peacefully protesting the election of Donald Trump as president. At least a thousand people participated.

After the march, people chanted at a square downtown – declaring "Trump is not my president" and "Love trumps hate."

15 year old Brian Dominguez marched with his mom Laura and little sister Daphne.

Dominquez and his family are from Michigan, but he says they’re proud of their Mexican heritage.

Voting in Michigan.
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Voters in Kent County approved two separate measures to support a zoo, museum and improved services for an emergency dispatch.

A millage increase will help pay to repair and improve exhibits at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. It’ll also help pay to care for animals at John Ball Zoo. Backers estimate it’ll raise a little over $9 million a year. WOOD-TV reports the additional .44 mills will cost the owner of a $170,000 home $37.40 more per year through 2025.

Pages