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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!

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Making state lottery games available online has resulted in a disagreement between the state and a native tribe.

Twice a year the Gun Lake Tribe gives a big check to the state of Michigan. Last time, in December 2014, it was more than $7 million. The money comes from the tribe’s casino, just south of Grand Rapids.

Aerial photo of the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station near Kincardine Ontario.
Chuck Szmurlo / Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of people are expected to gather in Port Huron Sunday to rally against a proposal to store nuclear waste in an underground repository near Lake Huron.

Ontario Power hopes to build a deep geological repository to store low- to medium-level nuclear waste that’s already on the site of one of the biggest nuclear power plants in the world.

Davidshane0 / Wikimedia commons

It’s hard to miss the Eckert plant’s three towering smokestacks in downtown Lansing. They’ve been around almost 60 years.

“They’re affectionately known as Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” Steve Serkaian, a spokesman for Lansing’s public utility, said.

“Those stacks’ days are unfortunately numbered,” he added.

Courtesy photo - Paul Clements / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Paul Clements will try again to unseat longtime Congressman Fred Upton.

The political science professor at Western Michigan University got 40% of the vote the last time he ran against Upton, in 2014.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A tiny public school district in northwest Michigan has found an unusual way to raise big money.

Manistee Area Public Schools has had its share of budget problems. 

“Several years ago we were very, very low on our fund balance,” Kenn Cott, the assistant principal of Manistee High School/Middle School explained.

bitsorf: Thank you 1,500,000 times / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

An effort to restore the rapids to the Grand River in Grand Rapids is slowly making progress.

The rapids that gave Michigan’s second-largest city its name are long gone. The plan is to remove a few old dams, add more natural boulders and improve land along the riverfront.

“The exact date of construction is unknown,” said Jay Steffen, an assistant planning director for the city.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

It took almost 30 years and $400 million, but Grand Rapids has finished updating part of its 100-year-old sewer system.

The city’s old system combined stormwater with sewer water, and sent it all to the wastewater treatment plant.

Mayor George Heartwell says it generally worked, until heavy rain hit.

Courtesy photo / Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million vehicles to prevent hackers from being able to remotely control the cars and trucks.

A couple of professional hackers worked with a reporter for Wired magazine to remotely access the computer system in a Jeep Cherokee. The magazine has posted a video showing what hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek could do.

They kill the engine, disable the brakes, mess with the A/C and the radio.

Kimberly Springer / Michigan Radio

Five years ago, on July 25, 2010, an Enbridge Energy pipeline burst, causing the biggest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

One of the rumors you can still hear about the incident is that the company must have dumped a surfactant into the Kalamazoo River to help break up the oil. The chemical is called corexit, and it can be harmful to humans.

Regulators and Enbridge deny corexit was ever used for the Kalamazoo spill. But that hasn’t put the rumor to rest.

Carolyn Gearig / Michigan Radio

Michigan has a serious opioid problem. A new task force is looking for public input on how to fix it.

In 2013, more than 400 people in Michigan died from drug overdoses – mainly heroin and prescription painkillers like OxyContin. At least 3,000, at the very least, have died since 2005.

Propane prices in the U.S. are at a 13-year low. So, state officials and propane suppliers are urging residents who use propane to heat their homes to lock in contracts or get their tanks filled up now.

“We think that it could save Michigan residents at least hundreds, if not even more than that to be able to get a contract now in some cases,” said Valerie Brader, who heads Michigan’s Agency for Energy.

“There could be gigantic savings by filling it early,” she said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This weekend, thousands of people across the country took a swim at the same time, without bathing suits.

Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith went to Union City, near Battle Creek, to witness part of the world record skinny dip attempt.

She filed this audio postcard.

More than 200 people skinny dipped at Turtle Lake on Saturday.

Michael Mazengarb / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The solar power industry is not happy with Republican state lawmakers’ new energy plan.

The bills introduced last month would get rid of the state’s renewable energy standard.

They would also make significant changes to net metering. That allows customers in Michigan to use solar panels or wind turbines on their property to lower their energy bills.

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers have approved loaning more money to schools facing serious financial problems.

Long term, low interest emergency loans help school districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But the state’s Emergency Loan Board already offered more than $48 million dollars in loans to school districts, almost all the money state law allowed. Now the cap has been lifted to $70 million.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After more than two years with an interim superintendent, Flint schools may have a permanent leader.

On Tuesday night, the school board voted 5 to 4 to offer Bilal Kareem Tawwab the top job at Flint schools.

Tawwab worked at Detroit Public Schools for 18 years. Right now he’s an assistant superintendent responsible for overseeing more than 40 of the Detroit district’s lowest-performing schools.

Courtesy photo / Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center

More Michigan veterans are trying “telehealth” appointments.

It’s sort of like seeing your doctor through a computer online, but the computer can also relay a heartbeat, the sound of a person's lungs, or detailed pictures of an injury.

Courtesy photo / Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center

The VA hospital that serves 26,000 veterans in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin is having trouble recruiting healthcare providers.

Plus, almost one in five employees at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center is eligible for retirement.

Brad Nelson is a spokesman for the Iron Mountain based clinic. He says they’ve compiled a list of providers they’re expecting to be short on in the next decade.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People could soon pay more to ride the bus in Grand Rapids.

A proposal to help balance The Rapid’s operating budget would hike regular fares from $1.50 to $1.75. That’s what regular fares cost in Flint, but more than it costs to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing or Detroit.

The Rapid spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says staff compared prices with systems in Michigan and beyond. “We’re comfortable that the proposal keeps us within that peer group range,” she said.

Scott Schopieray / Flickr

This weekend cherry growers in southwest Michigan will begin to harvest their crop.

Despite a hard freeze in late May, Michigan is expected to produce 134 million pounds of tart cherries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  That’s about a third less than last year, but still, more than any other state.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Under current state law, utilities in Michigan must get 10% of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by the end of the year.  

After a year of work, Republican lawmakers have outlined an energy policy to replace Michigan’s renewable energy standard.

State Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, says the new policy wouldn’t require utilities to have a certain amount of renewable energy, like wind or solar.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ottawa County has a new weapon in the fight against invasive plants. This week, I got a chance to check out the weapon in action at Burr Oak Landing, a 260-acre natural park about 20 miles west of Grand Rapids.

“These are what we call our ‘prescribed browsers,’ aka, goats,” said Melanie Manion, Natural Resources Management Supervisor for Ottawa County.

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