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!

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

Preliminary findings from Michigan’s independent Auditor General give more details about the Flint water crisis.

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a federal audit -- Governor Rick Snyder appointed a panel to look into it -- and there is a federal class action lawsuit underway.

Everyone wants to know how the water went bad in one of Michigan's biggest cities.

On April 25, 2014, Flint officials toasted each other as they flipped the switch to the Flint River.
WNEM-TV

I don’t blame the governor’s press secretary for not understanding exactly who made the decision to have Flint pump its drinking water from the Flint River. It was a complicated decision making process with multiple key players that lasted at least a few months.

Back in the spring of 2013, when this decision was made, Governor Rick Snyder’s press secretary, Dave Murray, was one of “us”; a journalist working for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive.

The people of Flint protest the state and city's handling of the water crisis.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you missed parts 1 or 2 of Not Safe to Drink, you can find them here.

Back in September, research scientists from Virginia Tech came to Flint to break some bad news.

Their tests showed high levels of lead in people’s tap water. Lead is especially harmful for young children.

Clockwise top left: Lee Anne Walters with her son Garrett, the Flint River, Marc Edwards, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha - Flint EMs Darnell Earley, Jerry Ambrose, Ed Kurtz, and Mike Brown. Center - water at the Flint Treatment Plant.
Steve Carmody, Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

What would you do if your tap water turned brown? If it gave your children a rash every time they took a bath? Or worse, what if it made them sick? Listen to our special documentary below, and hear the wild story about how the water in Flint became Not Safe To Drink.

A Flint water meeting in January 2015.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you missed part one of Not Safe to Drink, you can hear it here.

The tap water in Lee Anne Walters’ home in Flint was causing her family’s health problems. Tests show her water had extremely high lead levels. Her son Gavin was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

“How does this happen in the United States?” she asks. “I mean, you hear about it in third world countries, but how does this happen, specifically in a state that is surrounded by the Great Lakes?”

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

Up until October, the Walters family lived in a yellow two-story home on the south side of Flint. A couple of red maple trees shade the tiny front yard.

Walters heads to the back of the house, in a small room off of the kitchen, where the family keeps its stockpile of bottled water.

“This is our water stash. Once a week we go and we fill 40 gallons of water, so we have water to drink with, to cook with, and to bathe Gavin and Garrett in,” says Lee Anne Walters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is asking Flint for data that would show where the city’s lead service lines are. People living in homes hooked to lead service lines have a higher risk of being exposed to lead in drinking water.

Under federal rules, those homes are supposed to be sampled to help determine how well a water system is doing in keeping lead out of the water. But Flint doesn’t necessarily know where those homes are.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says people living in Flint should be warned of the potential for “high lead release” into their tap water if road work or other physical disturbances to lead and even non-lead service lines occur.

The agency says these physical disturbances “could pose an immediate and acute health hazard” to residents.

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

Former state Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat both lost bids to regain their seats after being forced out of the state House.

The two ex-lawmakers were very well known, but for the wrong reasons. Their efforts to cover up an extra-marital affair with wild rumors became the topic of national headlines and late-night jokes.

Gamrat lost to Mary Whiteford in her Republican primary. Courser lost his Republican primary to Gary Howell. Both seats are considered safely in the GOP column. The general election will be in March.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Flint did not follow federal regulations for large water systems when it switched its source for drinking water.

Sarah Razak / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Confused about corrosion control? We were too.

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically. Scientists believe the Flint River is part of the problem. Flint switched from Detroit’s water system and started pulling water from the Flint River last year.

Protesters in Flint.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In Flint, lead levels in some children's blood have spiked dramatically, and scientists believe a new drinking water source is to blame. They're pointing to lapses in oversight from state regulators, who they say should’ve seen the problem coming.

Flint’s water problems began about a year ago, not long after the city stopped drawing water from Detroit’s system. To save money, Flint began getting its water from the Flint River.

Henrico Prins / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A charter high school in west Michigan now has two airplanes for students to use to learn to fly.

A contribution from the Delta Air Lines Foundation allowed the school to buy a Cessna 172.

“My first flight was actually in the new plane. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint hasn’t been using any corrosion-control method since it switched from Detroit’s water system in April 2014. Corrosion-control treatment helps keep lead out of drinking water. Since the switch, more kids are showing up with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The spotted wing drosophila is a nasty invasive fruit fly that's turning into a nightmare for Michigan berry growers.

Blueberries and cherries are major cash crops in the state.

Kevin Robson is a horticulture specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says the fly showed up in Michigan five years ago.

Mark Savage / Entergy

The Palisades nuclear plant shut down this morning. The plant near South Haven was scheduled to shut down Sunday, according to a plant spokeswoman, but it shut down automatically after part of the turbine generator system failed.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Allegan County Commissioner Jim Storey announced today he'll run to replace former state representative Cindy Gamrat. Gamrat was expelled from office last week in the wake of a sex and cover-up scandal.

Rusty Dutkiewicz came out to the small dinner in Holland where, after an opening prayer, Storey announced he’ll run in the special election. She can’t wait for him to get to Lansing.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State Representative Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell) got an earful from people living in her district Tuesday night. It was the first time Gamrat held office hours in Allegan County since news of a sex and cover up scandal broke last month.

“You need to resign!” someone in the crowd shouted, before the first question was asked. “Give up your job. You weren’t working in the first place.”

user Wonderlane / Flickr

Students heading back to class this week will play a more important role in teacher evaluations this year.

Last school year, state law mandated student growth had to be a “significant” factor in K-12 teacher evaluations. But local leaders got to decide what “significant” meant in their districts.

moare / MorgueFile

Michigan expects there will be a shortage of teachers in certain subjects this school year. Early childhood, special education, foreign language and a variety of occupational teachers are facing a “critical” shortage.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Leaders of the bus system in Grand Rapids and the union representing mechanics and drivers have not been able to reach an agreement over a retirement plan.

That means The Rapid will no longer collect dues on behalf of the union. But The Rapid's spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says pay and benefits will remain the same for now.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Union negotiators head back to the bargaining table Monday morning, on behalf of more than 300 bus drivers and mechanics in Grand Rapids.

“Obviously, things are hot right now,” Local 836 union president RiChard Jackson told me last week, at a packed board meeting of the Interurban Transit Partnership, also known as The Rapid.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Around 75 people marched in Grand Rapids Saturday afternoon, calling for an end to gun violence.

“We’re trying to get the message out, that anybody can be a victim. We've got the kids in the streets killing each other, we've got people getting killed going into shopping malls, court houses, movie theaters,” Theresa Ward, one of the march's organizers said.

Nhandler/wikipedia / Jonesy22/creative commons

Berrien County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to stop using carbon monoxide to euthanize unwanted animals that end up at its animal control facility.

The gas chamber has been used for decades in Berrien County to kill dogs, cats and other wildlife. Now that it’s building a new facility, public pressure to stop the practice has been increasing.

Lawmakers have tried passing bans statewide, but they’ve never gotten to the governor’s desk.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

In October, people will have to pay more money to ride the bus in Grand Rapids.

Cash fares will cost a $1.75. That’s more than it costs to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Detroit.

“I’m not trippin’ about it,” Trill Bettison said, while waiting at Central Station Wednesday night.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records

The union representing more than 300 bus drivers and mechanics in Grand Rapids is suing the public transit system in federal court.

They allege system administrators violated members’ right to free speech by “threatening them with discipline and arrest if they distribute informational leaflets related to ongoing collective bargaining” negotiations at the main bus station downtown and another in nearby Kentwood.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will support an international deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On Monday, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence announced they’ll do the same.

The agreement gives international inspectors a lot more access to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities. In exchange, countries would lift economic sanctions to help Iran’s economy.

Robbie Wroblewski / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The debate over county animal shelters using gas chambers to euthanize sick or unwanted animals is heating up in southwest Michigan.

In the beginning of 2015, only 4 of Michigan’s 83 counties still used the “inhalation method,” or “gas chamber” to kill unwanted animals at county animal control facilities.

Cass County, southwest of Kalamazoo, still uses a chamber. Branch County, south of Battle Creek, probably still would too, but its animal shelter burned down earlier this year.

Courtesy photo / Mary Whiteford

A small business owner and former ER nurse is hoping to unseat State Representative Cindy Gamrat.

Gamrat is at the center of a sex and cover-up scandal in Lansing.

Republican Mary Whiteford says she’s ready to run for Gamrat’s seat, whether she resigns or not. Gamrat has not resigned, but she’s not taken the option off the table either.

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