Sarah Hulett

Assistant News Director

Sarah Hulett became Michigan Radio's assistant news director in August 2011. For five years she was the station's Detroit reporter, and contributed to several reporting projects that won state and national awards.

Sarah considers Detroit to be a perfect laboratory for great radio stories, because of its energy, its struggles, and its unique place in America's industrial and cultural landscape.

Before coming to Michigan Radio, Sarah spent five years as state Capitol correspondent for Michigan Public Radio. She's a graduate of Michigan State University.

Contact Sarah Hulett at sarah@michiganradio.org.

Detroit's mayor wants to let neighborhoods put some of their vacant land to use.

"For recreation purposes, for gardening, for off-street parking, or whatever else their community wants, on the condition that the block club approves the use," says Mike Duggan.

Duggan says his plan would build off the city's successful side lot sale.

Sean Davis / Flickr http://tinyurl.com/ndp3cbj

Detroit's police chief will keep his job for at least another two years.

James Craig was hired by Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager who took the city through bankruptcy.

Mayor Mike Duggan says it turned out to be a good choice, and he wants Craig to stick around.

Allan / Flickr

If you like a quieter holiday on the Fourth of July, there are 12 state parks hosting fireworks-free celebrations this year.

The state Department of Natural Resources organized the events after a veteran pointed out that Independence Day can be difficult for some former service members.

Gov. Rick Snyder

The publicly financed bridge between Detroit and Windsor will be called the Gordie Howe International Crossing.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement in Windsor today.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools is revamping some of its offerings in the hopes it will make its schools more competitive.

Todd Losie is the principal at FLICS, a K-through-8 school that sits right next to Renaissance High School.

Both schools will go for International Baccalaureate certification.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

An Indian manufacturing company is buying Southwestern High School in Detroit, and expanding its operations in the city.

Sakthi Automotive makes lightweight metal car parts. The company already has operations on either side of the high school. It’s getting $3.5 million in incentives from the Michigan Strategic Fund, and Detroit will spend $900,000 in federal money to tear down a portion of the building.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Metro Detroit's Regional Transit Authority is taking a step toward a coordinated mass transit system for the region.

The RTA is expected to announce how it will go about developing a master plan.

The idea is to put a tax levy on the 2016 ballot to pay for whatever that master plan calls for.

Most likely, it will be a system of buses that can travel at high speeds in dedicated lanes. 

Brian Wybenga

Back in December, there was a toxic spill in Detroit.

In my kitchen.

It was a Sunday morning. My kids were watching a cartoon. I was reading the paper. And my husband, who does some small-time antiques dealing in his spare time, was monkeying around with one of his treasures in the kitchen.

Carlos Perez / Flickr

Parents are split on the idea of later school start times for teenagers.

A new survey from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan says about half of parents support the idea. Forty percent expect a later start time would allow their kids to get more sleep, and 22 percent think their kids would do better academically.

Lyle / Flickr

A controversial gun bill similar to one that was recently vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder is likely to get a committee hearing this week.

The bill’s sponsor says the reintroduced legislation no longer contains language the governor and others worried could have put domestic abuse victims in danger. Opponents said it would have allowed people with personal protection orders (PPOs) against them to get concealed pistol licenses.

Twitter

The state Board of Education has taken a big step toward hiring a new state superintendent. On Monday, it selected a search firm to find possible candidates.

The board still needs to iron out contract details with Iowa-based Ray & Associates. Assuming that goes smoothly, it expects to hire a replacement for retiring state Superintendent Mike Flannagan before May.

Board President John Austin says members have made clear what kind of candidates they are looking for.

You may have seen a flash mob on YouTube, or even experienced the phenomenon in real life: A group of people converge on a public space, seemingly out of the blue, for a recreation of, say Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Or Verdi’s Requiem – it could be anything. Now in Detroit, a group of Catholics has created a variation on that. The Mass Mob is a crowd sourced effort to revive urban churches … which have a lot of empty pews these days.

Have you ever watched a movie where a snarky young computer hacker wreaks havoc with civic infrastructure, and wondered if it could happen in real life?

Well, a team of researchers researchers from the University of Michigan had that same question. So they looked into a scenario like this one, featured in the remake of The Italian Job:

"Was that really possible?” said Branden Ghena, who was on the research team. “Could you actually change the light colors? Is that a thing that can really happen, or are these systems as secure as we hoped they were?"

Turns out, the answer is yes – it really can happen.

MCM Management Corp.

Detroit is in the middle of one of the most ambitious demolition campaigns the nation has ever seen, tearing down about 200 houses every week.

Many of the homes being razed are in neighborhoods where people still live. So Detroit officials sat down before the blitz to come up with some new regulations designed to keep people safe from dust, and from hazardous materials that could be in that dust – like lead, or asbestos.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Dozens of students, alumni and supporters rallied in front of Marian High School in suburban Detroit this morning to protest the firing of chemistry teacher Barb Webb. Webb is gay, and says she was fired after informing administrators at the Catholic high school she was pregnant.

Webb taught chemistry at Marian for nine years. She also coached volleyball and soccer. She says administrators felt her “non-traditional” pregnancy ran afoul of a morality clause that allows personnel to be fired for “lifestyle or actions directly contradictory to the Catholic faith.” 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

After weeks of criticism and international attention, Detroit is revamping the way it handles delinquent water accounts.

That plan includes waiving late payment penalties and turn-on fees, and beefing up staff and hours at customer service centers.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says there will also be more straightforward payment plans and financial assistance for low-income residents.

After a series of fits and starts, Detroit's M1 Rail project breaks ground today.

A short stretch of Woodward Avenue will be shut down today as construction gets underway.

The streetcar line will run 3.3 miles from downtown to New Center, and will have 12 stops.

More than a dozen private donors, led by Roger Penske, kicked in $100 million of the project's $140 million price tag.

The project's backers say it will help along the resurgence that's already underway in that part of the city.

Detroit Institute of Arts

A New York art investment firm says, on paper, works at the Detroit Institute of Arts could be worth as much as $4.6 billion. But the report by ArtVest Partners says the artwork could go for a lot less, if it's liquidated as part of the city's bankruptcy.

An earlier appraisal of the DIA's collections by Christie's auction house looked only at works bought with city money, and said selling those would bring in no more than $866 million.

Matt / Flickr

Problems keep piling up at Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson.

Last week, maggots were found on the serving line in the prison's cafeteria.

Over the weekend, inmates started getting sick with a stomach virus.

And the problems have gotten worse. Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says the number of sick prisoners is now up to 150, and the prison's been put under quarantine.

Brian Wybenga

All this week, Michigan Radio and the  Detroit Journalism Cooperative are looking at city services and quality of life issues in the city of Detroit. Michigan Radio's assistant news director, Sarah Hulett, is a Detroit resident and brings us this essay about living with crime. 

If you’re on the fence about staying in Detroit or moving out, there’s an absurd and irrational sort of calculus you do when it comes to crime.

Cameron Blaylock / Flickr

The government is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims fans of the band Insane Clown Posse have been unfairly labeled a criminal gang.

The FBI in 2011 put out a report that cited crimes committed by the rap duo's fans, known as Juggalos.

All this year, producer Zak Rosen has been reporting on the first year of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit. Whitney Walker is the office manager at school, which her daughter Zoe also attends. Whitney Walker is also a poet, and in this installment of the Boggs School series she offers a documentary poem about her transformative experience working at the school.

Detroit Skyline
Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

In spite of its nickname, the Motor City has well-known transportation problems.

A large proportion of Detroiters don't own cars, and buses are notoriously late and overcrowded.

Now, residents have a new option.

It's a website based on a platform used at colleges, called detroit.ridepost.com.

Debra Rowe heads the Detroit Green Skills Alliance, which works on sustainability issues.

She convinced the person who created the platform to donate it, and says it will be useful for all kinds of people.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers have committed to contributing $195 million to Detroit's bankruptcy settlement.

The state Senate gave final legislative approval to the bills to help protect retiree pensions and prevent the sale of city-owned artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Today we are all Detroiters and we are all Michiganians,” said U.S District Court Judge Gerald Rosen following the vote. Rosen has been overseeing talks between Detroit and its creditors, and is considered the architect of the "grand bargain."

Detroit Skyline
Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

For a lot of people, Jamie Dimon will forever be linked to the mortgage crisis that hit Detroit as hard as any city.

But there was no mention of that at yesterday's announcement, of course. Instead, there was a plated lunch - chicken and salad, with cupcakes - an uplifting video, and a standing ovation led by Michigan's governor, Rick Snyder.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit's police chief has been getting a lot of attention for his advocacy of people using deadly force to defend themselves.

The stance has put James Craig at odds with many big-city police chiefs, and now it's landed him on the cover of the NRA magazine, America's First Freedom.

At a press conference today, Craig said he does not advocate violence, “but I am an advocate for when faced with a dangerous situation, one that presents an imminent threat to life, or great bodily harm, that one protects themselves."

buildingdetroit.org

A new experiment meant to fill some of Detroit's vacant city-owned homes appears to be paying off.

City officials plan to announce an expansion of the online auction today.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority started putting one house up for auction on a website each day last week. Bids started at $1,000, and all five drew high bids between $30,000 and $42,000.

So far, 6,000 people have signed up to bid.

Nuclear Regulatory Agency

Federal regulators are holding a private meeting with officials from DTE Energy today to discuss a security issue at the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in southeast Michigan.

Details are scarce, due to security concerns.

But Viktoria Mytling with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says an issue was discovered during a security assessment that showed vulnerability.

“Specifically, this vulnerability would have allowed unauthorized or undetected access into the plant – to the protected area of the plant,” Mytling said.

Penn State / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder wants more households in Michigan to recycle their waste. He's announcing a plan today to make that possible.

The plan will focus on four key areas – including developing markets for recycled products, and helping communities make recycling more convenient for residents.

The Michigan Supreme Court says a Wayne County judge should be removed from office. It says Wade McCree faces a six-year suspension if voters reelect him in November, and ordered him to pay $11,645.17 in costs.

You might remember Wade McCree's name from a now-infamous quote he gave to a TV reporter about texting a shirtless picture of himself to a sheriff’s office worker.

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