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!

Courtesy Photo

First up, a Michigan man who’s trying to win millions of dollars with solar power.

He’s trying to put solar panels on as many Michigan homes and businesses as he possibly can.

Prasad Gullapalli’s Novi-based Srinergy wants you to invest in solar panels – for your home, for your business – doesn’t matter. He’s looking for anybody in Michigan to go solar.

He’s making the offer with no upfront costs.

Doc Searls / Creative Commons

An inland lake north of Muskegon is expected to reach a major milestone this year. Officials anticipate White Lake will be removed from a list of the most-polluted places surrounding the Great Lakes this year.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most of the pollution in White Lake was caused by a chemical company that dumped waste into the water.

Courtesy photo / Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Snowy owls have been flocking to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids this winter.

“It’s unprecedented. We have three to four times the activity than we’ve ever had in the past,” said Tara Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the Ford Airport.

Airport staff had to shoot nine owls this season. That’s compared to only four in the past four years combined.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Two in every three Michigan public school districts contract out at least one major service, like custodial, transportation or food service. That’s according to a yearly survey of districts.

The Midland-based research institute Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which supports privatizing services, has published the survey every year since 2003. Here’s a summary of the center’s survey:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week federal officials will talk about the options for preventing Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.

People and organizations will get a chance to have their say about which option they support. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host meetings in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night and in Traverse City on Thursday.

The meetings are two of six scheduled this month, from Louisiana to Pennsylvania. Officials will also take written comments through early March.

School student in Japan reading a book outside
Mehan / Creative Commons

Lawmakers are working out the details of a proposal that would flunk Michigan students who can’t read at “proficient” levels by the end of the third grade.

Many in the education community are opposed to the legislation, including The Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers.

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies supports it.

Dave Gallagher / Courtesy photo

Federal regulators are overseeing the installation of an oil pipeline after an accident last week near Ceresco.

It’s hard for Dave Gallagher not to watch the work. The pipeline is going in just 12 feet behind his house.

“Yeah they’re really scrutinizing that pipe now. There’s like 10 people down there,” Gallagher said, watching from his back porch Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. Furniture Inc.

The founder of a Michigan chair company is suing another furniture company after falling out of a chair and hurting his back.

David Miller, former president of Grand Rapids Chair Company, filed a lawsuit this week against Wisconsin-based retailer Menard’s and California-based manufacturer U.S. Furniture Inc.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

A coalition of abortion rights advocates will not try to immediately repeal a Right to Life-backed state law that requires women to buy a separate health insurance rider to cover abortions.

“Our efforts and our resources are better spent on a broad strategy to address this growing frustration that is about more than just one issue in one discrete moment in time, but about the larger impact of politicians using women as target practice,” said Rana Elmir, Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The head of Michigan’s fifth-largest school district is launching a “listening tour” this week.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal says the Grand Rapids school district needs to succeed in order for the city to succeed, and because that impacts the entire region, she wants to hear from everybody.

Courtesy photo / Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank

The food bank that supplies food pantries in 40 Michigan counties had a record year.

Last year Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank got more food donations and distributed more food than ever. More than 25 million pounds went to food pantries in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The food bank’s CEO Ken Estelle says demand is up. Unlike during the recession, he says most people looking for free food these days are employed.

midiman / Creative Commons

An increase of cases of the flu in Michigan is prompting some hospitals to limit who can visit sick patients. They hope it’ll help prevent the spread of the flu.

University of Michigan’s hospitals aren’t letting kids younger than 12 visit the most vulnerable patients.

At Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, there are similar restrictions, along with the number of visitors, or in some units, only immediate family members.

Dr. David Davenport is the medical director of  infection prevention and control at Borgess.

Sometimes people don’t tell the truth. More often, they don’t tell the whole truth. Sometimes they do it on purpose to make their argument appear stronger. Other times they make honest mistakes. Sorting it out is my job as a reporter. Yesterday, the Sierra Club dumped a fair amount of work on my lap when it released an error laden press release giving Governor Snyder a failing grade on energy and environmental actions.

Here’s what I found that I think you should know.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A controversial development that’s proposed on 300 acres of critical duneland in Saugatuck is likely to get the state permit it needs to get the project rolling. The parcel has been at the center of a years-long legal battle.

WFIU Public Radio / Creative Commons

Voters in Grand Rapids could get a chance to vote on an income tax extension this year. The city wants to extend a temporary income tax hike to maintain roads and sidewalks.

Grand Rapids voters approved the temporary income tax hike in 2010. It’s paid for a number of projects that will lower the overall cost of running city government. That increase will expire in 2015.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor’s emergency manager says he’ll ask the state for a roughly $2 million loan, again. But he’s got some more convincing to do.

Benton Harbor has been under state control for more than three years. It's cut its budget deficit by a third.

With the loan, Emergency Manager Tony Saunders says the city’s deficit would be wiped out.  That would be the first step to ending Benton Harbor’s financial emergency. That’s would be the first step to proving Benton Harbor isn’t in a financial emergency anymore.

@flounderradio / Twitter

Update 3:15 p.m.

The co-founder of the West Michigan Whitecaps is confident the Fifth Third Ballpark will reopen in time for baseball in April. It appears the fire damaged about a dozen luxury box suites, part of the clubhouse, some storage area and probably the control room too. West Michigan Whitecaps co-founder Denny Baxter told reporters during a press conference he’s confident the ballpark will be available on opening day, although there’s a good chance it won’t be completely rebuilt by then. There were no reported injuries because of the fire.

Reported 12 p.m.

A fire was reported shortly after 11 a.m. today at the Fifth Third Ballpark, a few miles north of Grand Rapids in Plainfield Township.

The smoke was thick enough to be seen from Gerald R. Ford International Airport, and to be picked up by National Weather Service radar.

U.S. 131 runs right by the stadium, which can hold close to 10,000 people. The ballpark opened in 1994.

The stadium is home to the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team, a Detroit Tigers’ Single A affiliate. The ballpark is also the venue for numerous concerts and events throughout the year, including the Michigan Brewers Guild’s annual Winter Beer Festival set for early next month.

Scott Graham, Executive Director of Michigan Brewers Guild issued this statement about the popular festival.

"The Michigan Brewers Guild is certainly concerned about our upcoming beer festival at the Fifth Third Ballpark but our first concern is for all of our friends at the West Michigan Whitecaps. Our thoughts and prayers are with the staff at the ballpark today and we will assess what it means to the Guild after the damage is under control and can be assessed. Because our event is held outside the ballpark in the parking lot we are hopeful that it will turn out well. We will do our best to keep fans of MI beer informed in coming days as we learn more."

Here are some images of the fire:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Lansing’s public utility says he won’t resign in the wake of a major ice storm that left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark over the holidays. J. Peter Lark, the general manager of Lansing Board of Water and Light issued this statement Thursday.

As has been reported by some media outlets, I with my wife, traveled to New York to visit my son last week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s public utility says it has restored power to its entire service area. But on the utility’s facebook and twitter feeds, there are more than a dozen people claiming they still don’t have power.

A week and a half after a massive ice storm wiped out power to almost half Lansing’s customers, the public utility claims it has finally restored power to all but some single customers and possibly pockets of streets.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are still an estimated 29,300 customers without power in Michigan today (Saturday) after a major ice storm last weekend. The lack of power and freezing temperatures are beginning to take their toll on many families.

Sara Scott, her husband and their three-year-old son have been staying at her in-laws since Monday. She says her husband is worried that the pipes are going to freeze or that someone’s going to break into their home in Lansing. Plus, she’s two months pregnant.

AdeptDrivers / Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says the threat of losing driving privileges would be a good way to discourage kids from skipping school.

Families who receive state aid can lose their benefits if their child repeatedly skips school. It’s a policy some legislators want to codify in law.

Jennifer Waters / Creative Commons

More people are contributing to the Michigan animal welfare fund. That means the state was able to give more money to more animal shelters this year than before.

You can check the donation box when you file your state income taxes. This year $184,772 in grant money went to 22 shelters across the state. Fifty-six shelters applied for grants. Those applications totaled close to $480,000 in requests.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Flint’s Hurley Medical Center faced national media scrutiny when an African-American nurse was told not to care for a baby at a patient’s request. The case was settled outside of court.

Julie Gafkay represented that nurse and says she was not alone.

Spotrebice Whirlpool / Creative Commons

Whirlpool is a giant in the appliance world with annual sales around $18 billion.

The Benton Harbor based company says it’s moving production of its commercial front-load washing machines from Mexico to a plant in northwest Ohio this spring. All of Whirlpool’s residential washing machines are already built there. At nearly two and a half million square feet, Whirlpool claims the plant is the biggest washing machine plant in the world.

File photo / Kent County Sheriff

Gary Rolls resigned from the Kent County Commission today. In a brief written statement to the board, Rolls thanked his constituents for allowing him to serve.

“I will use this time to prepare for trial to prove my absolute and complete innocence,” Rolls’ letter said. The resignation takes effect January 1st, 2014.

“We accepted the resignation of Commissioner Rolls this morning,” said Dan Koorndyk, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “We appreciate that he recognizes it is better for the Board of Commissioners to select a new member who can represent District 4 without distraction.”

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

Three U.S. senators want a federal agency to check on the safety of an oil pipeline that runs beneath Great Lakes waters.

The 60-year-old pipeline passes beneath the Straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. It was the first pipeline Enbridge built through Michigan.

Environmentalists protested the pipeline expansion earlier this year. They sent divers down to check out the condition of the pipeline firsthand.

Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan want the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to provide details of the agency’s safety tests on the line. PHMSA is a division of the Department of Transportation.

Nathan Sharkey / Creative Commons

Michigan has lost millions of acres of wetlands over the last century. But the state’s still got roughly five million acres left. 

“Wetlands are really, really important to clean water. They’ve been called nature’s nurseries and nature’s kidneys,” said Grenetta Thomassey, who heads Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey.

Paul Ruesch / Environmental Protection Agency

People in Kalamazoo won’t have to wait much longer for a federal decision about what to do with an old landfill site that's full of toxic material.

The Allied site is where a paper mill dumped waste for decades. The pile is laced with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They can cause cancer and other health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency will not extend the December 31 deadline it gave Enbridge Energy to finish dredging oil from portions of the Kalamazoo River.  In March the EPA ordered Enbridge to remove up to 18,000 gallons of submerged oil by the end of the year.

The oil is left over from the 2010 pipeline rupture. More than 800,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Enbridge pipeline. The spill affected almost 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River.

Enbridge says it cannot meet the deadline, but could complete the work by October of 2014. This month the company asked the EPA to extend that deadline.

Governor-elect Rick Snyder at the Michigan Farm Bureau in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The big, yearly meet up of Michigan farmers is this week in Grand Rapids. The annual Michigan Farm Bureau meeting helps cement policy stances important to agriculture.

There’s dozens of issues up for discussion. Some, like immigration reform and road funding aren’t new issues.

In fact, the poor condition of Michigan’s road was the issue that brought the MFB to fruition back in 1919.

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