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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!

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People in Flint are still digesting the terms of this week’s legal settlement and what it’ll mean for them.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Lawson signed off on the deal, under which the state and federal governments will set aside $97 million to pay for replacing 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines during the next three years.

Empty classroom.
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In January, the state’s School Reform Office sent a warning letter directly to parents at 38 low-performing schools. The letter told parents their child’s school was at risk of closing by the end of June “due to academic failure for many years” and they would get an update by March.

The schools on this list scored in the bottom 5% on state standardized tests for three consecutive years.

Grand Rapids police officer directing traffic.
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

A group of law enforcement professionals is working on recommendations to the governor for improving trust between police and the communities they serve. You have through this weekend to give them your thoughts.

Governor Rick Snyder issued an executive order in October to have the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards produce the report. It will focus on three underlying themes: improving community engagement, training, and recruitment.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The heads of most of the 38 schools facing closure for low academic performance are drafting agreements that would allow the schools to stay open and collaborate with the state.

The state offered the agreements as a sort of olive branch after major backlash to the closure announcements in late January.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The U.S. EPA is making long term revisions to the 25-year-old Lead and Copper Rule. The new rules are expected to come out this year. A top EPA official says one of the biggest changes could be an expensive one.

Because of the water crisis in Flint, city officials now know there are more than 20,000 lead service lines, the water pipes connecting homes to a water main, still buried underground in Flint.

Because of Flint, we know that other cities are now at least trying to figure out how many lead service lines they have and where they’re located.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Blissat gives her 2017 State of the City address.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids' mayor wants to make the city more welcoming to immigrants. Rosalynn Bliss announced a new initiative at her State of the City address Thursday night. She says the goal is to connect immigrants with services and provide information about schools and local government. 

“I want to make sure there is a safe place for them to come and learn about our community, our systems and how to get engaged,” Bliss said.

She expects to launch the initiative in the next month or two.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Congressman Bill Huizenga held a town hall meeting today north of Grand Rapids that last more than four hours, a bit longer than he anticipated.

“And that’s okay,” he said. “What I knew was going to happen was, after two hours or even three hours if I had said ‘OK, you know maybe we’ve had enough,’ there would be all these calls of, you know, ‘He shut it down early!'”

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

Lawyers for Saginaw and Kalamazoo school districts say the state does not have the authority to close four of their low-performing schools.

The complaint was filed late Wednesday on behalf of the two school districts and more than a dozen parents. They argue the governor violated the state constitution when he signed an executive order in 2015 moving the School Reform Office into a department under his control, instead of the state superintendent and the education department.

The office is considering closing 38 schools.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Some Michigan members of Congress have been criticized lately for avoiding constituents. But two Republican congressmen from West Michigan are hosting in-person events over the next few days.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-2nd Dist., has his first in-person town hall of the year set for this Saturday at noon in Baldwin. The tiny town about an hour north of Grand Rapids was supposed to be a part of Huizenga’s annual snowmobile tour. There’s not enough snow this year, but he didn’t cancel the event.

MSU President Lou Anna Simon / File photo / MSU

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon says a pair of sexual assault investigations are not signs of larger issues within the athletic department. 

She says sexual assault will not be tolerated, but added it’s not unique to MSU.

“To make it an MSU problem in the reporting, from my perspective, and not a society problem that also happens to be at MSU, it does a disservice to the university,” Simon said.  

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

The Kalamazoo school board will sue the state to try to stop Michigan’s School Reform Office from closing two of its schools. The board announced Thursday it’s joining with Saginaw schools to file the lawsuit early next week.

Thirty eight schools across the state are at risk of closure because of poor performance on state standardized tests. School officials don’t think the state has the authority to close schools and they say scattering students won’t help academic achievement.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

More than 600 people showed up to a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Justin Amash Thursday night. It was his second Grand Rapids town hall in less than a month and it was the second time so many people showed up they had to close the doors and turn people away.

Some Michigan members of Congress have been criticized lately for avoiding constituents.

But town halls are not new for Amash. The Republican says he’s always felt taking unscripted questions from his constituents, in person, is part of the job. But under the new administration, the crowds have been major.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In a late night vote, the Paw Paw School Board voted to keep the Redskin name and image as its mascot.

Supporters for keeping the mascot say the name is not used in a derogatory way and is a respected identifier for the community.

Paw Paw High School sophomore Morgan Dwyer says changing the name is an issue being pushed by outsiders, who she likened to school bullies.

“Ever since you’re little your parents always tell you, don’t shape who you are to please other people and I mean, I don’t know, I just feel this whole ordeal is a bigger version of that,” she said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The community held a pep rally to support Muskegon Heights students Monday afternoon.

The high school is on a list of 38 poorly performing schools that could face closure.

Listen: We Live Here - A neighborhood school on the brink of closure

Five years ago, an emergency manager converted Muskegon Heights into a charter school district to salvage it. Now it’s academics, not finances, that threaten the school’s existence.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State officials who announced the potential closure of 38 “priority” schools across the state are now visiting those schools. The schools on this list scored in the bottom 5% on state standardized tests for three consecutive years.

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

The full U.S. Senate is the next stop for Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as U.S. Education Secretary. That’s after a Senate committee on Tuesday voted 12 to 11 along party lines in favor of DeVos, a billionaire from West Michigan who’s long supported school choice, charter schools, and vouchers.

But two prominent Republican senators on the committee expressed reservations, particularly about DeVos’ lack of experience.

A "vote here" sign
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There is no evidence of any widespread election fraud during the state’s 2016 presidential election, according to a forensic analysis released Monday by the Anderson Economic Group.

Anderson Economic Group CEO Patrick Anderson says they looked into two claims.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

About a thousand people marched in Betsy DeVos’ hometown Saturday afternoon, to protest her nomination as U.S. Education Secretary.

“I was expecting maybe 500 people,” Cadence Morton of Caledonia says of Saturday’s march in Holland. She helped publicize the rally, which began as a private facebook event among friends.

For more than an hour protestors with handmade signs wrapped around the perimeter of Centennial Park; about the size of a football field in downtown Holland.

“That is just incredible," Morton says. "I’m floored by that."

Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It wasn’t one thing that put Litchfield Community Schools’ elementary school on a path to becoming a “priority” school.

When Mary Sitkiewicz started teaching at Litchfield in the mid 1990s, she remembers there being more than 800 students. According to state data from last school year, the student count was down to 248.

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.

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
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.”

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
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.

person writing on paper
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.

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