Flint

Politics & Government
8:51 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Big crowds expected at Flint's Back to the Bricks this week (but teens face curfew)

Flint Police Capt. Collin Birnie speaks at a news conference featuring members of the task force handling Back to the Bricks security
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting tomorrow, the city of Flint will be welcoming more than a half million car enthusiasts to the city’s annual downtown showcase of classic cars.  But the city won’t be as welcoming to unaccompanied teenagers.

The city today announced a 6pm teen curfew downtown during “Back to the Bricks”.

Captain Collin Birnie is with the Flint Police Department.   He says the curfew is in response to problems with unruly teens from past years.

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Stateside
12:07 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Fighting blight in Flint, one house at a time

Credit Fight Blight and Spur Revival in Flint campaign / indiegogo.com

Tackling the issue of blight in urban communities is incredibly challenging.

Recently, the city of Flint, with the help of the Genesee County Land Bank, has torn down 600 properties in its effort to demolish more than 1,500 blighted homes in the city.

It’s part of the Michigan Blight Elimination plan, with support from the Hardest Hit federal grant fund.

Doug Weiland, executive director of Genesee County Land Bank, joined us on Stateside to talk about the plan’s priority and progress.

Meanwhile, some people are taking a very personal approach to dealing with blight in Flint.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign going on right now that hopes to raise $10,000 to tear down a single crumbling home on Parkbelt Drive. 

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Education
10:07 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Flint schools' deficit plan relies on retaining students

The Flint school district has seen a sharp decline in student enrollment for years. The district's deficit elimination plan relies on stabilizing enrollment.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school board last night approved a plan to eliminate its $20.4 million deficit.  

But the plan relies on the district being able to do something it has struggled to do:  retain students.

The Flint school district delivers its revised deficit elimination plan to the state Department of Education tomorrow.  The plan calls for zeroing out a $20.4 million deficit by the end of 2021.    

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10:41 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Violence is everywhere, and these young people in Flint have had enough.

Lead in text: 
Crime is down in Flint, but the city has still seen more than 800 violent crimes since the beginning of the year. State of Opportunity has the story of two young people trying to deal with the effects of all that violence, and the mentors trying to help them.
The Haskell Youth Center is on the front lines of violence prevention in Flint. They don't use a complicated formula; there are just plenty of positive activities and positive adults. On any given day there are about 200 kids spread throughout the game room, the cafeteria, and a gym where the basketball games never seem to stop.
Politics & Government
5:36 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Major changes proposed to Flint governance

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley holds a copy of a blue ribbon committee's report calling for major changes to Flint city government.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city government may undergo some major changes, if the recommendations from a blue ribbon committee become reality.

Before the governor appointed an emergency manager to run the city of Flint in 2011, the city’s mayor ran much of the city’s day-to-day business.   The city council, ombudsman and civil service office also held significant control.

When Flint eventually emerges from state oversight, someone else could be calling the shots.

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Law
3:54 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Flint residents criticize state troopers during a community meeting

Lt. Tom Deasy (right) listens as multiple speakers criticize how Michigan State Police troopers are handling their job patrolling Flint's streets
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State Police troopers faced a barrage of criticism during a community meeting in Flint today. Much of the complaints centered on recent fatal auto accidents involving state troopers.

It was a sometimes emotional three hour meeting between Flint residents and state police commanders.

Many people, including family members of two women killed in auto accidents linked to car chases involving state troopers, blasted the state police.

“You don’t even have a 'Plan B' when you’re chasing somebody,” a woman in the audience, “That just doesn’t make any sense, to come here as a professional and kill people who were not even involved in what you were dealing with.”

Dozens of Michigan State Police troopers are patrolling Flint city streets and assisting with investigations in the city.  The troopers are augmenting Flint's depleted police department, which has been decimated in recent years by budget cuts.

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Arts & Culture
11:17 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Flint's all-female poetry slam team goes to national competition

Sapphire Newby, right, practices with a teammate. The white board behind them lists the original poetry that needs to be memorized before the competition.
Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The 17th annual International Youth Poetry Slam festival is in Philadelphia this week.

Flint is sending a team made up entirely of high school girls.

They’ve been practicing for months, writing poetry from their own lives about things like family, abuse, mental illness, and love.

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Law
7:45 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Some Flint residents want state troopers to leave town

About 40 Michigan State Police troopers assist the Flint police department on a daily basis. They perform mainly patrol and investigation functions.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Frustration of about the presence of Michigan State Police troopers patrolling Flint hit the street today.

Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis organized a rally that brought out more than 100 people to Flint city hall.  Davis says state troopers are driving on city streets “like renegades and cowboys.”

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Politics & Government
10:06 am
Sat July 12, 2014

The week in review: Art, oil, schools and money

Credit Julie Falk / Flickr

This Week in Review, while Emily Fox sits in for Rina Miller, she and Jack Lessenberry discuss how selling works from the Detroit Institute of Arts wouldn't make financial sense in helping with the city's bankruptcy, the threat of an oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac, and money problems with Flint Community Schools.

Education
10:27 am
Fri July 11, 2014

So, how big is Flint schools' deficit? Depends who you ask

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools says it's got a $20 million deficit ($10 million of which was only recently discovered, according to the district.)

But if you ask Lisa Hagel, Flint Community Schools owes another $8.6 million on top of that.

Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District, which is now suing Flint schools over allegedly misspending $8.6 million of countywide tax money.  

The money was supposed to go to the Genesee Area Skill Center for vocational training. Instead, it was blended into the general fund of the Flint Community Schools.

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Health
11:15 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Detroit, Flint get $9 million for doctor training

Credit User apoxapox / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit and Flint areas are getting nearly $9 million to help train new primary care providers.

Most of the money announced Monday goes to the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority for training in family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Flint's Hamilton Community Health Network is getting $900,000 for family medicine training.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the money is part of $83.4 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support primary care residency programs nationwide. Overall, it will help train more than 550 doctors during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Environment & Science
4:00 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Vacant lots in Flint are becoming urban gardens

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

There are more than 12,000 vacant lots in Flint, and Genesee county is trying to change that.

Edible Flint is a non-profit organization that helps residents turn these vacant lots into urban gardens.

The group offers classes, resources and helping hands to get new gardeners started.

This year the group will host its sixth annual Food Garden Tour.

The tour will provide transportation to 15 gardens around the city that showcase different techniques of local growers.

Deb Hamilton is with Edible Flint.

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Stateside
11:49 am
Wed July 2, 2014

"Autoworld" opened its doors in Flint 30 years ago

1913 Studebaker Type 35 Model AA, Autoworld Brussels
Credit Wikimedia Commons

30 years ago, "Autoworld" opened its doors on July 4, 1984 in Flint, Michigan.

It was an indoor theme park and museum dedicated to preserving and spreading automotive achievements.  

Bill Shea, editor and reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business, said that the attraction wasn’t that popular and visitors were confused about what Autoworld was.

Was it supposed to be a museum or a theme park?

This led people to ask why a group of people invested $80 million into the endeavor.

Organizers hoped Autoworld would revitalize the inner city of Flint, develop Michigan’s tourism industry, and preserve the automotive history in the city.

But, in 1987, the attraction closed its doors permanently. Here's a video of them imploding the building from ABC News:

*You can hear our interview with Bill Shea today at 3 p.m. We'll add the interview to this post at 4:30 p.m.

Education
10:48 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Flint school district budget deficit soars to $20 million

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school district is sinking deeper into red ink.

Less than 12 months ago, an audit placed the district’s budget deficit at $10.4 million.  It's now pegged at $20.4 million.  

The Flint school district has been struggling to reduce its multi-million dollar deficit for years. But last night, school district officials described recent budget plans as being “far from reality,” even describing the district’s current budget as only ”close to reality.”

Isaiah Oliver is the president of the Flint Board of Education.  He calls the new deficit number “devastating”

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Sports
10:20 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Michigan soccer fans celebrate USA victory over Ghana in the World Cup opening round

In Flint, dozens of people packed a downtown sports bar to cheer Team USA to its 2-1 victory over Ghana
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Soccer fans packed World Cup watch parties across Michigan Monday evening.

In Flint, dozens of people packed a downtown sports bar to cheer Team USA to its 2-1 victory over Ghana.    The watch party doubled as a fundraiser to collect money to help rehab Flint’s 85-year-old Atwood Stadium. 

“It’s encouraging,” says Tom Saxton, Michigan State University’s women’s soccer coach, “The game gets better and better every year in the United States, and we're excited to be a part of it.”

Next up for Team USA is a very strong Portugal team. 

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Politics & Government
7:41 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Feathers fly in Flint over backyard chickens

“You know we’ve become so distant from where our food comes from," says Roxanne Adair, operator of Flint River Farms.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

One of Flint’s leading urban farmers is being told she has to get rid of her chickens.

Roxanne Adair operates a commercial urban farm in Flint. She sells the produce from her two-acre farm at the local farmers market and to individual clients. She also keeps eight chickens in her home's backyard.   She’s been raising chickens in her backyard for the past few years.     

Adair says she eats many of the eggs herself and gives others away. She admits she will also sell another dozen or so a week.  

Health
12:37 pm
Sun June 15, 2014

Flint dealing with water issues

This Spring, the city started using water from the Flint River after decades of getting its water from Detroit.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water department is getting plenty of complaints about the smell and taste of the city’s tap water.

This Spring, the city started using water from the Flint River after decades of getting its water from Detroit.

Daugherty Johnson is Flint’s utilities administrator. He says complaints about Flint’s water are nothing new.

“We’ve certainly had more complaints since the switch over…and we recognize those hardness issues that we’re working through right now,” says Johnson.

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Education
5:09 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Flint school district lays off 250 staff

District administrators say they're running out of options.
Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint school district is sending out some 250 pink slips this week.

They're laying off non-classroom staff, from janitors to secretaries to school safety workers. 

 Administrators say they have no choice: they're coming up against a state deadline to eliminate the district's $10 million general fund deficit. 

Now the district will look to outsource those positions through a private company.

Karon Grubb is a secretary in the administration office.

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Families & Community
5:57 am
Mon June 2, 2014

New Flint church seeks to save a neighborhood

The leader of Flint’s newest church is pledging to care as much about what’s happening outside the walls of the previously abandoned Northside church as about what’s happening inside.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s newest church has an unusual mission.

Its goal is to save the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Community Impact Church held its first Sunday service yesterday in a formally abandoned church. The church is surrounded by abandoned homes, blight, and vacant lots filled with weeds.

Pastor Corey James says his Allen Park-based ministry decided to set up in one of Flint’s more distressed northside neighborhoods for a reason: To help people rebuild their neighborhood.

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Law
5:31 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Report: Flint man requests new trial in Iran

Amir Hekmati was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying. Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death sentence, and the country's Revolutionary Court resentenced him to 10 years in prison for "cooperating with hostile governments"
Credit Hekmati family

DETROIT (AP) - A news agency reports that a retired U.S. Marine from Michigan has requested a new trial in Iran, where he has been imprisoned since 2011 after being accused of spying.

Thirty-one-year-old Amir Hekmati is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona and was raised in the Flint, Michigan, area.

He was arrested in August 2011, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying. Iran's Supreme Court annulled the death sentence, and the country's Revolutionary Court resentenced him to 10 years in prison for "cooperating with hostile governments"

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