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!

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today President Obama again called on the Iranian government to release a Marine veteran from Flint.

Amir Hekmati was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to death for spying. Iranian authorities overturned that sentence and imprisoned him for 10 years. The U.S. denies he's a spy. Hekmati was visiting relatives in Iran at the time of his arrest.

Courtesy photo / Ben Schultz

It appears old man winter is finally loosening his grip on Michigan. (Dare I type that sentence?)

With temperatures close to the 50s over the weekend, some folks may have busted out the grill. I dug around my shed and got my bike out.

My office in Grand Rapids is only about a mile and a half away from my house. But it costs $14 a day to park there. It makes sense most days to commute on my bike.

But I don't bike to work in the winter. I’m just not that hardcore. The black ice, the wind chill, it’s daunting. I already hate driving in the snow. I can’t imagine riding my bike in it. I just can’t.

But people do it. Maybe you’ve seen them around your town? They’ve got those weird fat tire bikes and full face masks with icicle mustaches. They’re crazy, right?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Our MI Curious project is a news experiment where you submit the questions - your questions are put up for a vote - and we investigate the winning question.

Holland resident Josh Bishop submitted this question; “I love supporting my local economy, but does "buy local" really have a big impact?”

moppet65535 / Creative Commons

The coalition pushing state lawmakers to give all workers paid sick days is growing. Groups backing bills introduced in Lansing last month held press conferences in Detroit, Flint and Kalamazoo Monday.

Danielle Atkinson, who directs Mothering Justice, an advocacy group for working moms, was in Grand Rapids. If passed, she says the bills would help more than workers.

“99% of restaurant employees don’t have access to one paid sick day and what that really translates into is restaurant workers going to work sick and getting everyone else sick and it becomes a public health issue,” Atkinson said.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

An African-American man is suing the city of Grand Rapids over a police practice his attorney says unfairly targets minorities.

A city attorney wouldn’t comment on the specific case, but says the policy follows the law.

Jack Amick / Creative Commons

A handful of former inmates at the Kent County jail are suing the sheriff and food service provider Aramark.

The case stems from a food-borne illness. One afternoon, in April 2012, at least a couple hundred inmates at the Kent County Jail got really sick. The culprit? Bad chicken tacos.

Court documents say they suffered pain, cramps, diarrhea and “long-term adverse health consequences” that’s weren’t detailed.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People living near a Superfund site in Kalamazoo seem to like the compromise cleanup plan posed by the city. About a hundred people came to the first public meeting Thursday night to learn more about the plan and to provide feedback.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People heading to the library to pick up paper copies of federal tax forms are disappointed to find many of them aren’t there this year.

The IRS is saving money by sending libraries only the most common forms on paper. You can find tax forms online and e-file or print them at the library. But the instruction book is more than 100 pages long.

Ian Contreras / Creative Commons

This school year, the federal government outlawed the sale of certain snack foods in schools. The idea behind the new guidelines was to improve kids’ health.

But it’s hurt many student organizations that use bake sales to raise money for clubs, athletics and field trips.

Snacks sold to students during the school day can’t have too much fat, sugar or salt. No more than 200 calories in total.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s second largest city will welcome backyard chickens beginning this spring.

In the summer of 2010, Grand Rapids city commissioners narrowly rejected urban chickens. But the issue never died and really picked up steam last fall.

Three commissioners who voted against chickens five years ago changed their minds this time around.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, elected leaders in Grand Rapids could vote to allow people to keep chickens in their backyards.

“I’m excited,” Amy Bowditch said of the proposal. “People kind of chuckle ‘oh chickens, everybody wants to turn the city into the country’ and a lot of people think it’s absurd. But we, for myself and my family, we think it’s really important that we stay connected to our food,” she said.

Chris Potter / StockMonkeys.com

The former CEO of a pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit healthcare fraud. The conspiracy involves dozens of employees.

Workers at Kentwood Pharmacy allegedly collected unused prescription drugs from about 800 nursing homes and homes for adult foster care. The drugs were unused for a variety of reasons, including when a patient died. Workers then repackaged the drugs, sometimes in their homes, and sold them again.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo residents will get a chance to weigh in on a compromise plan for an old landfill that’s full of toxic material. The Allied Site once served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry.

There’s 1.5 million cubic yards of wood pulp and waste laced with toxic chemicals at the site. Kalamazoo officials want it gone. But that’s too expensive.

The value of all the hogs, milk, corn, fruits and vegetables Michigan exported to other countries has doubled since 2006; going from just under a billion dollars, to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2013. The estimates come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mark Savage / Entergy

The company that owns the Palisades Nuclear Plant near South Haven wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against it.

Twenty-two security supervisors claim they’re owed years of overtime pay.

In court documents, lawyers for Entergy admit “some or all” of the workers have put in overtime. But they say those workers don’t qualify for overtime under the law.

Courtesy photo / Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Michigan started tracking how many hunters die each year 1970. Since then, there has never been a year when no one died while hunting.

But 2014 was a first. No fatalities and only ten injuries were reported.

Michigan League for Public Policy

An annual report that looks at the well-being of children in Michigan shows more kids are growing up in poverty.

One in four kids lives in a household at or below the poverty line. But African-American children are twice as likely to live in poverty.

“The disparities are very troubling,” said Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She heads the project for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Rick DeVos’ venture capital fund will stop giving away $5,000 each week to people with a good business idea. The fund, known as Start Garden, has given $5,000 to nearly 200 entrepreneurs in the last three years.

“A few years ago the biggest thing that it seemed like the region needed was a lot of experimentation and to get over fear of risk,” said Paul Moore, communications director for Start Garden.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State and federal officials hope a little extra cash will prompt more farmers to reduce runoff into their regional watersheds.

The federal government will provide $40 million to improve water quality in five key areas in Michigan, including western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and the St. Joseph River. The grants were announced late last month.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
USDAgov / Flickr

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is worried about a potential shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.

“I am very concerned and actually quite shocked that it’s gotten to this point,” Stabenow said during a visit to St. Joseph Monday morning.

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Flint switched from Detroit’s water system last year and is now using the Flint River until it can hook up to Lake Huron.

But there have been major problems. Residents complain about the water tasting and smelling bad. The Department of Environmental Quality cited Flint in December for violating the Safe Water Drinking Act. 

5 Gyres

Indiana lawmakers are getting closer to banning cosmetics containing tiny plastic particles that scientists say are polluting the Great Lakes. Illinois and New York already have.

You can find micro-beads in face scrubs, even toothpastes. They make up about 20 percent of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes, according to a recent study.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Surprising no one who follows Grand Rapids politics, City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss has announced she’s running to be the next mayor.

Michigan’s second largest city has never elected a female mayor, and Bliss has a good chance to become its first. 

Grand Rapids mayor George Heartwell is calling on Governor Rick Snyder to place a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state.

Heartwell made his comments today during his state of the city address.

“Our planet is sick and it is we who have infected it. So it must be we who heal it,” Heartwell said to a crowd of at least 300 people. Environmental concerns was one of the major themes of Heartwell’s speech.

Peter Martin Hall / Creative Commons

In an average year, 17 people get murdered in Grand Rapids. Six is way low, lower than it’s been in 50 years.

Grand Rapids Police Lieutenant Pat Merrill says there was only one bank robbery, when 8 to 10, even up to 20 is normal. “One is unbelievably low. It is anomalous,” Merrill said.

A new crime report to be released next week shows a jump in the number of stolen cars and a major drop in the number of bank robberies. Violent crime was steady, Merrill said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids’ city manager wants police officers to start wearing body cameras by March.

City Manager Greg Sundstrom and Police Chief David Rahinsky do not believe racial profiling is a problem in the Grand Rapids Police Department. But there have been claims to the contrary in the wake of incidents in New York and Ferguson, Missouri.

Voters approved term limits in November; so Grand Rapids will get a new mayor this year.

The first candidate to announce he’s in the running is Jared Funk. The 24-year-old may not have a job right now. He may not have a college degree either. But he’s got spirit.

“It’s the ideas and inspiration and enthusiasm of youth that I think the city really requires at this time and that it can be tempered by those who have more experience and who are wiser and more saged [sic] in politics and in governing,” Funk said.

U.S. Furniture Inc.

The founder of a Michigan chair company that sued another furniture company after falling out of a chair and hurting his back now wants to settle the case outside of court.

David Miller’s back pain was so bad after he fell out of a chair he had to resign his post as president of Grand Rapids Chair Company. He filed a lawsuit a year ago against Menard’s, where he bought the chair, and the broken chair’s manufacturer U.S. Furniture Inc.

Grand Rapids' "medical mile"
John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Hospital expenses grew by 108% in Grand Rapids between 2002 and 2013, according to a study released today by Grand Valley State University. It compared the hospital market in Grand Rapids to Detroit and six other cities.

Patients are being admitted less often and have shorter stays.

Update 9:45 p.m.

Michigan State Police now say there were 193 vehicles in total involved in the pile up.

Police say there were 76 semi-trucks involved in the accident. Some caught fire, including one hauling 44,000 pounds of hazardous materials and another with a load of fireworks.

Several hours after the crash, crews were still putting out flare ups.

One of the truck drivers died. The 57-year old was from Quebec. At least 20 people were injured, including two firemen and a wrecker driver.

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