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

Lawyers say Grand Rapids Public School administrators didn’t do enough to provide students a safe learning environment at one of its high schools.

Jamila Williams, a former math teacher at Grand Rapids University Prep Academy, was convicted of four counts of criminal sexual conduct for having sex with underage boys. She’s now in prison.

At a press conference today, the mothers of two of the victims claimed their sons lost friends, became depressed, and had academic problems because of the abuse. The mothers were not named to protect the privacy of their children.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials are working on a massive long-term plan to restore habitat in the Grand River and revitalize downtown.

Initially, the plan was just to restore the river rapids that gave Michigan’s second-largest city its name.

But now Grand Rapids city planner Suzanne Schultz says the plan is much broader.

“This is huge, really, really huge, but it’s exciting,” Schultz said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s apple and cherry growers are happy with this year’s crop.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for apple growers. They had the worst year on record two years ago because of an early freeze. But they had the best year on record last fall, despite a major labor shortage.

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, including Michigan's.

The court's ruling counters rulings from other courts that have ruled against the bans.

The justices reiterated the question in front of them is not whether gay marriage is a good idea, but whether the 14th amendment prohibits a state from defining marriage.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week voters in four out of five counties approved special millages to fix and maintain local roads.

Road funding has been a hot topic the last few elections as state lawmakers struggle to come up with a way to fund road repairs.

County Road Association of Michigan Director Denise Donahue says more local governments are asking voters for dedicated road millages.

Allyson Limon / Flickr

Oakland County is launching a new initiative to help grow tech companies. It’s part of the county’s larger effort to diversify its automotive-dominated economy.

Irene Spanos directs economic development for Oakland County. She says it's already home to nearly 2,000 IT and communication firms that employ more than 42,000 people.

“Oakland County goes on these trade missions around the world and we talk about some of the work that some of our tech companies are working on globally – they don’t think that it’s coming from Michigan,” Spanos said, “We need to change that.”

Jacob Enos / Creative Commons

Some residents and business owners in Kalamazoo want tighter restrictions on where people can panhandle. The city says the proposed changes come in response to just a few people who are “aggressive and intrusive” around the Kalamazoo Mall and Bronson Park.

Tonight, commissioners will consider an amendment that outlines the “right to be left alone” – making it illegal to ask for spare change from anyone sitting outside on a restaurant patio or on a bench at a public park.

ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin believes a judge would find the amendment unconstitutional.

An internal investigation shows a team of police officers investigating Bridge Card fraud in Lansing violated department policies by eating confiscated food. The Lansing Police Department announced it took disciplinary action against 17 officers Friday.

Back in 2013, a woman who dated a Lansing police officer filed a complaint with the department. Michigan State Police investigated what happened to roughly $14,000 in food and other goods police seized. But the state attorney general’s office declined to file criminal charges earlier this year.

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today two toxic hot spots in Michigan have been cleaned up.

Work is now complete at White Lake in Muskegon County and Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula.

The sites are on a list of about 40 toxic hot spots surrounding the Great Lakes; 14 sites are in Michigan.

Update: The state Dept. of Community Health now says it is monitoring nine people who traveled to west Africa, not 10 as it previously reported.  

The state Department of Community Health says it’s monitoring nine people in Michigan to see if they develop Ebola symptoms after they returned to the U.S. from west Africa. But health officials say none of them is  displaying any symptoms to suggest they might have contracted the Ebola virus on their travels.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters in Michigan’s second-largest city will decide whether to establish term limits for the mayor and city commission next Tuesday.

The proposed change to the city’s charter would limit commissioners and mayors to eight years in office. Commissioners would be able to serve for eight years if elected mayor.

Opponents of term limits say there’s no need for them because voters can kick people out of office by not re-electing them.

Official portrait

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says the United States had no real choice but to get involved in the battle against the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“You can’t sit still and do nothing when you have a group like ISIS whose goal is basically total terror,” Levin said during a visit to Grand Rapids this week.

Levin says the Islamic State threatens to terrorize countries neighboring Iraq and Syria and even the U.S., if left unchecked.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Amtrak riders in Grand Rapids will notice a huge difference the next time they board a train. A new $6 million station opened today.

Grand Rapids' old Amtrak station was tiny, dingy and outdated.

Tim Hefner, director of Michigan Department of Transportation’s office of rail, says the old station was supposed to be a temporary one when it was built almost 30 years ago.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony Monday, state and local officials cracked jokes about the old “Am-shack."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

You may have heard of ArtPrize. It’s an art competition in Grand Rapids where hundreds of thousands of tourists flock every fall to vote for their favorite art.

ArtPrize’s founder wanted to start a public conversation about art. History Prize founder Mara MacKay wants to start a conversation about history.

“History is a social common denominator for all of us,” MacKay said. “Our endeavor is really to help with an artistic expression and provide the opportunities to remember and articulate the past.”

(courtesy Consumers Energy)

Michigan connected more wind farms to the power grid than almost every other state last year, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Michigan added 175 megawatts of wind power in 2013 – more than 46 other states.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The race to become the republican candidate for Michigan’s conservative 3rd congressional district is a flip of other races across the country. In this race, the tea party favorite is the incumbent, Congressman Justin Amash. So the primary has become a battle over who’s the true conservative and who can get things done in Washington.

Amash’s independent streak: love it or hate it

Congressman Justin Amash is more of a libertarian than your standard republican. He wants a smaller federal government. He’s buddies with Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Chelsea Oakes / Creative Commons

Most state leaders agree that Michigan needs to fix its roads. But they’re still struggling with how to do that.

In the meantime, local governments are taking matters into their own hands.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Scores from this year’s standardized test at one southwest Michigan elementary school will count after all. The state is reversing its decision to throw out the test scores after the district appealed.

Courtesy photo / Uber

A technology company that allows people to turn their personal cars into taxi cabs is launching in four Michigan cities. But state officials say drivers are probably breaking the law.

Uber links people who want a ride to drivers who are available for a fixed price through a smart-phone app. The service is already available in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Now it’s launched in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Flint.

But it’s still very unclear if Uber drivers are following local and state regulations.

Biologycorner / Creative Commons

Michigan students have been taking the same standardized test for decades. It’s known as the MEAP.

But this year the MEAP test will be completely re-done and students will take it in the spring instead of the fall. After next year, it’s not clear what test students will take.

The state was all set to switch over from the MEAP to a test called “Smarter Balanced.” But state lawmakers balked at the idea, because the test aligned to the controversial common core standards.

Lawmakers wanted the state to stick with the MEAP.

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A state review team is hosting a public meeting today in Benton Harbor. The six-member team is trying to determine if Benton Harbor Area Schools is in financial stress.

The Benton Harbor school district has been running a deficit since 2006. It's cut costs, but at the same time, it also has low-performing schools that need to improve test scores to meet state and federal standards. Plus, it’s lost students every year.

It’s already closed buildings, privatized support services and gotten concessions in wages and benefits from teachers.

MichigansChildren / YouTube

Michigan’s schools superintendent wants to meet with charter school authorizers and advocacy groups this month as he figures out a way to hold them more accountable.

The vast majority of Michigan’s charter schools are set up by Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Bay Mills Community College.

Earlier this month State Superintendent Mike Flanagan warned these and other entities, known as charter school authorizers, that he was not going to allow them to open new schools if their existing schools “do not measure up.”

Flanagan is concerned some charter authorizers aren’t being held accountable for the schools they run, academically or financially.

A state Department of Education spokesman said charter authorizers and other interested parties were invited to meet privately with Flanagan later this month to discuss his concerns.

Authorizers have come under scrutiny in the wake of a big investigative report the Detroit Free Press published earlier this month.

The report found some charter schools run by for-profit management companies aren’t transparent about how they spend taxpayer money.

Flanagan said the report and a meeting he had with charter advocates earlier this year have prompted him to make charter authorizers more accountable for the schools they set up.

Spotrebice Whirlpool / Creative Commons

Michigan-based Whirlpool has entered into an agreement to buy a controlling stake in an Italian appliance maker.

Whirlpool is expected to spend $1 billion to purchase more than two-thirds of the voting stock of Indesit, the company announced last night. The Italian based company employs 16,000 people. It sells appliances mostly in Western Europe under the name brands of Indesit, Hotpoint and Scholtès.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Another proposed development in the coastal sand dunes along Lake Michigan is causing some controversy in Saugatuck. Opponents will ask state officials to reject a permit request at a hearing tonight.

They’d like to scale back a project that’ll turn a nearly century-old church campground into a private development for 12 beachfront homes.

Dave Barker is one of the developers. He says the homes would sit only on a small portion of the property, which includes 130 acres of duneland along Lake Michigan.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Former workers at the Palisades nuclear plant are accusing management of lying to regulators about attempts to fix a work environment where managers put a chill on critical feedback from employees. 

Thursday night’s meeting to review Palisades' performance last year started out pretty typically.

Regulators noted a survey that found security officers fear retaliation if they raise certain concerns.

Company officials got a chance to respond. Otto Gustafson, Director of Regulatory and Performance Improvement at Palisades, said management is taking the concerns very seriously and outlined a plan to correct the problem. 

But then Chris Malich stepped to the microphone during the public comment portion of the meeting and called Gustafson and other officials out.

“I’ve seen it over and over,” Malich told regulators, “They’ve said things are going to change, things are going to change, and they stay the same.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Mosaica Education, the charter company running Muskegon Heights schools, only has a few days left in its contract. But the district still has lots to do to get everything in place for the fall.

Last night the district hired its superintendent at a special board meeting. But it still has to finalize agreements with a staffing agency to hire all of its teachers and few other vendors by Monday.

This summer it has to finish building repairs, and rearrange all the grade levels because an elementary school building will close.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Michigan’s Department of Corrections says problems with Aramark, the company that provides inmates their meals, have the potential to compromise safety and security in the state's prisons.

Food service was privatized at Michigan’s 31 prisons in December, saving roughly $16 million a year.

“Literally from a Saturday to a Sunday it transitioned to 360 contractor workers who, in many cases, had never been inside a correctional facility,” Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. “So we expected some problems, we expected some issues.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor Area Schools has taken the next step in process that could result in an emergency manager.

Gov. Rick Snyder announced today his appointment of a six-member review team. The team has 60 days to determine if the district is in financial stress.

The district’s superintendent, Leonard Seawood, told state officials a few weeks ago it is. 

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.
Entergy Corporation

People will get two opportunities this week to hear how the Palisades nuclear plant is doing. Palisades was recently listed as one of the worst-performing plants in the country.

Regulators have raised the plant's official safety rating, but they say the safety culture among security staff still needs to improve.

File photo / Kent County Sheriff

A former Kent County commissioner will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Gary Rolls resigned his county commission seat earlier this year. He was accused of beginning a sexual relationship with a girl when she was nine. She's now in her late 20s.

Rolls said nothing before he was sentenced Thursday afternoon.  

In a statement, the victim told the judge Rolls used his position in power to threaten her.

“I saw him with police officers and important people in the news and I believed him,” she said.

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