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Families & Community

Early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.
User Frank Kovalchek / flickr.com

Though seemingly counterintuitive, early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.

The dogs at Team Evergreen Kennel in Skandia Township were excited when the first snow fell, as Tim Wood, Lead Handler, explained to Jennifer Perez from WLUC-TV:

You will let [the dogs] out into the backyard that first snow fall and they just tear around like demons because they know what this time of year means and they get really excited.

Last week, a several-day storm brought up to 42.5 inches of snow to parts of the Upper Peninsula. The dog teams need packed snow to travel on, so they rely on groomed trails for training. Musher Lisa Dietzen explains why trails haven't been groomed yet:

"Some of the trails that we have to use are opened from the snowmobile trail and our snowmobile trail won't open until after gun season, which is another two weeks. So, some of those trails that we rely on to be groomed out aren't going to be groomed out any time soon."

The mushers at Team Evergreen say they're limited as to where they can run their dogs without these groomed trails. For right now, they're running them on a small track on their property.

Michigan's big dog sled race, The UP 200, is scheduled to take place from February 12 - 16.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Farver has been deer hunting for a lifetime.
User Smudge 9000 / flickr.com

Floyd Farver's passion for hunting has spanned decades; at 103 years, he is the "oldest hunter" in the state, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Farver says his grandfather, a civil war veteran, taught him how to hunt more than 70 years ago. Since then, he has gathered countless stories and experiences in deer camp - some he's willing to share, others not so much.

In a conversation with Lydia Lohrer from the Detroit Free Press, Farver recounts his experience hunting during the years of the Great Depression:

“There were no deer in the southern peninsula in those days. We had to go north. We stayed in tents. No one could cook, so we ate mostly beans. And there were no deer. We thought they were mythical creatures,” he says, laughing. “When I finally got one I had to pinch myself.”

Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Jack Salvati and Cynthia shake hands
Cassandra Salvati

A very special mayor has just been sworn into office. Eight-year-old Jack Salvati of Milford is now the Mayor of Amphibiville at the Detroit Zoo. Salvati earned the prestigious position after applying with a written essay. He talked to us about his favorite amphibians and what he plans to do in his two year term.

Listen to our conversation with Salvati below:


Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge has struck down a Michigan law that denies employer-sponsored benefits to many public employees in same-sex relationships.

The case was filed by five same-sex couples where one of the partners is employed by a local government or school district in Michigan. They challenged the law, which was adopted in 2011 by the Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder.

US District Court Judge David Lawson issued a preliminary injunction against the law, and, now, has issued an order siding with the five couples. He says the case is not about same-sex marriage, which Michigan voters banned 10 years ago. He says the state adopted an unconstitutionally narrow definition of what makes up a family. And he says the law is rooted in official government hostility against people in same-sex relationships.

Eugene Griffith / Flickr

Listen to Ralston Bowles tell his story of failure and what it means to him. In this tale, Bowles recounts his childhood and a learning experience from college. You can find out more about Failure Lab and hear more stories here

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The mournful sound of taps echoed across the Great Lakes National Cemetery this morning.

More than 1,000 people attended Veterans Day ceremonies at the cemetery in Holly.

Many came to remember fallen comrades, family members and all who served America as soldiers, sailors and marines.

Patrick Lafferty is the American Legion Department Adjutant. He says it’s important to pause and remember on Veterans Day.

“To ensure that everyone who breathes the fresh aid of freedom is reminded of the price paid and the men and women who paid it,” says Lafferty. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A home was torn down in Flint this morning.

But the home on Parkbelt Drive is different from the hundreds of other blighted homes that have been demolished in Flint in recent years.

An online crowdsourced fundraising campaign paid to tear down the fire-gutted home on Flint’s north side.   The campaign collected more than $10,000. 

Paulette Mayfield owns the house next door. She contributed to the online campaign.

One down, about 9,000 to go.

A Flint ex-patriot's crowd-funding campaign on Indigogo raised more than $11,000 – enough to tear down one of the city's many blighted, abandoned homes.

Freelance writer Gordon Young decided to run the campaign after writing a book about Flint's severe blight problem and its attempt to revitalize itself.

Jack will be the mayor of citizens such as this Green Tree Frog.
User e_monk / flickr.com

An 8-year-old boy from Milford has been sworn in as the new boss of the Detroit Zoo's amphibian population.

Jack Salvati this week began his two-year term as the mayor of Amphibiville, a 2-acre wetland village that's home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

Jack sought the office because of his love for amphibians. The mayor called his swearing-in "the happiest day" of his life.

A plaque bearing Jack's name and photo will be displayed in the National Amphibian Conservation Center throughout his term. He also receives a plush frog and a one-year family membership to the zoo.

The zoo invited candidates ages 7-12 who live in Michigan to enter the mayor's race by submitting a 100-word essay.

The outgoing mayor is 13-year-old Gabriel P.J. Graydon of Southfield.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A summit in Flint this week will focus on doing more to help young African-American boys and men.

Organizers say young black men face limited educational and other opportunities.

Pastor Reggie Flynn says schools, businesses and churches are failing to meet the needs of young men of color in Flint.

“We have failed in the faith community because we haven’t engaged parents as we should.  We’ve become insular,” says Flynn. “Children shouldn’t be coming into our churches and leaving, and we know they cannot read.”

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.

Michigan Humane Society

The Michigan Humane Society recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art animal care center in Detroit.

The new facility will offer improved animal housing, expanded veterinary and rehabilitation services, a home for its cruelty investigation and rescue operations, and a community dog park.

Zeke Anders
screenshot / YouTube

November is National Adoption Month.

That nation-wide focus on adoption can cause anyone in the birth triad to do some extra reflecting, whether birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.

Zeke Anders is an adoptee who grew up in Dearborn. He's now a filmmaker in Los Angeles.

Zeke has shared his adoption journey through a vlog - a video blog called "American Seoul" - as in Seoul, South Korea, where he was born.

Zeke Anders joined us today.

*Listen to our conversation with Anders above.

The story of an unacompanied minor, 7 years later

Nov 5, 2014

This summer the news was full of the stories of children who fled to the U.S. because of violence in Central and South America. Here is one of those stories, 7 years later. From Dustin Dwyer and State of Opportunity.

Estimates of homeless people by state.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Federal and state officials disagree on the number of chronic homeless that are living in Michigan.

In its 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Michigan had a 6.1% increase in homelessness cases from 2013 to 2014, one of the highest in the nation, up 700 from 11,527 to 12,227. 

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Ten Detroit families still have their own roofs over their heads, thanks to the Tricycle Collective.

The group crowdsourced money so the families could bid on the homes they were living in at a tax foreclosure auction.

Michele Oberholtzer started the collective.

Oberholtzer says until she contacted them, the families had no idea they could buy their tax-foreclosed homes – often for as little as $500.

The Kley Family

 

More than 13,000 children in Michigan are in foster care in a given year. State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra will look into their lives in a special documentary, "Finding Home," which airs Thursday at 3 p.m. on Michigan Radio.

You could say Mary Vick Spaulding has spent her entire life in the death industry.

Her father, Harold, was a funeral director in Mount Clemens and he began teaching her the trade when she was in first grade. Back then they would spend time together in the embalming room as he began showing her the ropes. Spaulding says death has been something that’s been normal to her for her entire life.

Spaulding became a licensed funeral director 38 years ago, and for 25 years she worked alongside her father. He died in 2001 and these days she manages the family business, the Harold W. Vick Funeral Home.

I asked her to share what she knows about life and death that the rest of us might not know. Here’s what she said:

Anatomy is beautiful.

User: Consumerist Dot Com / Flickr

The restaurant industry is becoming more and more important to Michigan.

In fact, the restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in Metro Detroit. 

But many entry-level workers have trouble becoming managers and find it difficult to move up to a better position. And some say that this difficulty stems from racial and gender discrimination.  

Stateside’s Renee Gross reported on the story. 

Saru Jayaraman is the director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. She said there’s racial and gender discrimination and segregation related to lack of mobility and glass ceilings faced by these workers.

Sugar skulls are part of the Day of the Dead tradition.
User: Michael Perini / Michigan Radio

We're coming up to Halloween, but as we get our bowls of candy ready and kids decide on their costumes for Friday night's trick-or-treating, some people in Michigan preparing for another holiday: Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos.

The holiday has spread from Mexico throughout the world, including here in the United States.

It coincides with All Hallows' Eve (Halloween to most of us), All Saints' Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls' Day on Nov. 2. 

It's a time to honor and pray for friends and loved ones who have passed away.

Lauren Beukes
Wikimedia Commons

Halloween week is a perfect time to find a story that truly sends that proverbial chill down your spine.

"Broken Monsters" by South African author Lauren Beukes tells such a story. It's crime, it's horror, it's a thriller, it's fantasy, and it is set in the streets of Detroit.

Lauren Beukes says she chose to set the story in Detroit, because the city has a lot in common with her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. They are both troubled with crime, corruption, and segregation – yet there's something much more going on in the cities as well.

Image of the partial solar eclipse on October 23, 2014. The darkened spots on the sun are "sun spots," regions of cooler surface temperature.
Ron Moubry

Yesterday, a partial solar eclipse obscured the sun over Michigan and much of North America. The eclipse occurred at sunset, transforming our familiar setting sun into a fiery red.

For the curious, the eclipse was an opportunity to witness an astronomical event that will not happen again until August 2017.

The eclipse was captured in an amazing time-lapse video by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles:

T. Voekler

 

The latest circulation figures for the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press are out. Where once the Detroit News and Free Press boasted sales of over 600,000 copies a day, the Free Press now has fewer than 200,000 subscribers and the News fewer than 100,000.

User: williami5 / Flickr

Each October, the nation blooms with pink: It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

The big push is often about awareness, as in "don't forget to get your mammogram" and in raising money for breast cancer research.

But there's a lesser-told side of the breast-cancer story: the financial hardships so many patients endure as they go through treatment.

Molly MacDonald of Oakland County knows this all too well through her own breast cancer experience.

That's why she founded The Pink Fund, a nation-wide organization offering financial aid to breast cancer patients. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are several major projects going on in Detroit these days. 

The M-1 RAIL line and a new hockey arena are among several projects attracting hundreds of millions of dollars into Detroit’s city center.  

But what about Detroit’s neighborhoods?   

The Kresge Foundation plans to spend up to $5 million to give a boost to Detroit neighborhoods.

Detroit skyline
Ian Freimuth / flickr.com

Members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission heard testimony in Detroit this week from citizens who are struggling to secure affordable water and housing.

Nicole Hill is a Detroiter who has had her water shut off twice this year. Hill says the water department tells her she owes more than $6,000 — a number she vigorously disputes.

“I have asked for a hearing, and I was told that I could possibly get a hearing date sometime in 2015,” she said.

For Mignon Jennings, the cost of her water bill has put her in danger of losing her Detroit home.

“$3,000 for a water bill for one year? That’s ludicrous. That’s crazy. And I believe something needs to be done.”

The UN panel has criticized Detroit’s policy of cutting water service to people with delinquent bills.

Panel members issued recommendations on the situation Monday. They also met with Mayor Mike Duggan.

Duggan's chief of staff, Alexis Wiley, defended the administration's response to the water shutoffs, pointing out that the number of customers on payment plans has almost doubled to about 33,000 since Duggan announced his 10-point plan on dealing with them in August.

Wiley said the meeting was unproductive. "Unfortunately, it became clear shortly into the meeting that the UN representatives had reached their conclusions and prepared their recommendations before the meeting had even begun," she said in a statement, that also accused the UN of singling out Detroit for criticism of a "standard practice among utilities."

It was The Ann Arbor News, in its pre-AnnArbor.com form, that originally brought the founders of the recently-closed online publication The Ann Arbor Chronicle to town. Mary Morgan was offered a job with the Booth Newspapers publication, and as her husband, Dave Askins, had just completed his graduate coursework, the timing worked out well for the couple to move from Rochester, NY to Ann Arbor in the mid-1990s. 

Three of Michigan Radio's projects: MI curious, State of Opportunity, and Infowire, have come together to report a story about children's mental health. Here's the result.

User: Angelina Earley / Flickr

 

Michigan's fall colors are in full glory right now.

And more and more people are discovering a new way to view all of that autumn glory: by being right up there at the top of the trees on a zipline!

Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager looked into the booming business of ziplines and adventure parks in Michigan.

Creager says there are a number of Halloween-themed zip adventures that feature glowing courses at night. She also suggests these zip tours:

User: Thord Daniel Hedengren / Flickr

They're defying the smartphone tidal wave with flip phones firmly gripped in their hands.

They are the people who are do not feel the need to stay on email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter 24/7. They are the people who are not interested in smartphones, thank you very much.

Going back to old-school "dumbphones" is now a hip trend and provides people with a way to disconnect.

Dave Meyer is a professor in the University of Michigan Department of Psychology, where he directs the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory. He says in the age of smartphones and constant connectivity, the question is whether we are being smart in how we use smartphones.

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