Flint

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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.

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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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.

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”

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. 

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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"

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is helping provide lower interest rates to first-time homebuyers in eight cities.

About 300 individual or families in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, and Jackson can take advantage of a program announced Friday.

First-time homebuyers who meet eligibility requirements can get a 3.125% mortgage interest rate without down payment assistance. If they need help with their down payment, the interest rate is 3.625%.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants to increase home sales in five cities hit hard by blight and three other cities needing a boost.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley says most of Michigan's real estate market has bounced back, but some areas are still experiencing significant sales declines.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's state-appointed emergency manager is proposing a $55 million budget that would cut 36 police officer positions and 19 firefighter jobs. 

Darnell Earley's two-year budget plan also includes higher fees for property owners for street lighting, garbage pickup and water and sewer service. 

Dayne Walling, the mayor of Flint, joined us today. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A place where General Motors built cars for nearly century may later this year begin transforming into a city park in Flint.

The last building was torn down at Chevy in the Hole a decade ago. Efforts have been underway since then to transform the 60 acre brownfield into a public green space.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

Marine veteran gets 10-year sentence in Iran

Apr 12, 2014
freeamir.org

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian news agency is reporting that an appeals court has overturned a death sentence of an American man convicted of working for the CIA, instead sentencing him to 10 years in prison. 

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Saturday that lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei says a Revolutionary Court issued the verdict for U.S. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati. Tabatabaei described the verdict as final.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water customers may need to prepare to pay more for their tap water.

A consultant is recommending the city plan on annual rate hikes for the foreseeable future.

Flint’s aging water system has endured more than a hundred water main breaks since New Year’s Day. The city is also planning on replacing water service from Detroit by tapping into the Flint River and eventually a new pipeline that would reach Lake Huron.

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How do we really get through to kids who are headed down the path to trouble?

There is a group of artists in the Flint area that believes the answer is spoken word and visual art.

The Share Art Project has been bringing artists together with young offenders. It's a collaborative effort among artists at the Buckham Gallery, students and the Genesee Valley Regional Center.

Shellie Spivack is a Buckham board member who chairs the program, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

*Support for Arts and culture coverage on Stateside comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A former Republican state representative says he was on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing 10 years ago. On today's show, Chris Ward, former representative from Genoa County talked about the gay marriage ban and the future of the Republican Party.

Then, we spoke with a very talented Flint rapper about his music and raising the profile of the Flint community.

We heard from writer Deidre Stevens about the Ca-Choo Club, a very unique way to attract allergy sufferers to Sault Ste. Marie.

Also, as Michigan's Aug. 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up. Who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

First on the show, yesterday was the deadline to file objections to the disclosure statement spelling out Detroit's plan to climb out of its bankruptcy hole.

And yes, objections poured in – long lists of objections to the disclosure statement.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to tell us who's objecting, why, and what comes next.

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Don't make the mistake of thinking that fresh new music – rap, electronic and more – comes out of Detroit.

Listen to what's coming out of Flint.

Tunde Olaniran is a Flint artist: singer, songwriter, rapper, electropop, rock. Tunde is attracting lots of attention, including a glowing review in the New York Times for his new EP, Yung Archetype.

Tunde Olaniran joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will not be getting a major federal grant that would have paid to keep many city firefighters on the job.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down Flint’s request for a nearly $8 million SAFER grant. The city has used two previous SAFER grants to pay dozens of firefighters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to consider a plan tonight that may lead the city out from under state oversight.

Flint has had a series of state appointed Emergency Managers, dating back to 2002 under Governor Engler.

Darnell Earley is the current man in the job. He's outlined a seven- point plan to prepare the city to transition back to local control for the first time since 2011.

Earley’s plan includes addressing Flint’s deficit, legacy costs and strategic planning.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Temperatures across Michigan today are rising into the 50’s.

Warmer temperatures are expected to cause headaches for local water systems.

Water mains could break as surrounding ground thaws.

Flint is dealing with 30 to 40 water main breaks at any one time.

Howard Croft is Flint’s Public Works director.

He expects the number of water main breaks will increase this week…

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials will soon be more aggressive about getting people and businesses to pay their water bills.

Right now, the Flint water department is dealing with 30 to 40 water main breaks at any one time. That’s primarily the fault of the brutal winter weather.

But the water department has another problem and it has to do with inflow of cash.

Emergency manager Darnell Earley says the city is going to start putting more pressure on homeowners and businesses with delinquent water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Five years after Michigan targeted copper thefts plaguing cities like Detroit and disrupting railroads and utilities, plans to better restrict sales of stolen scrap metal are caught in a legislative fight.

Lawmakers are generally in agreement over giving law enforcement more tools to crack down on the problem.

But a provision to make people wait three days for payment for copper wire, air conditioners and catalytic converters is angering scrap buyers and dividing legislators.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

All-time snowfall records could be broken this week in Michigan.

A storm blowing through the state tonight is expected to dump two to eight inches of snow.

What’s on the line this week may very well be bragging rights for generations of people in Flint and Detroit.

Flint is just about five inches short of its all-time snowiest winter. 82.9 inches fell during the winter of 1974-75. So far this winter, Flint has been buried under 77.3 inches of snow. 

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockely discuss the trial challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, the mayor of Flint's proposal to fight blight in the city, and what President Obama's budget proposal could mean for Michigan.

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Today we looked at Flint Mayor Dayne Walling’s annual state of the city speech. He gave his speech yesterday and we got him on the phone today.

*Listen to the interview above.

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Flint mayor declares war on blight

"Flint Mayor Dayne Walling is calling for a $70 million "war on blight" to help tear down nearly 6,000 buildings in the financially troubled city. Walling made the declaration Monday in his State of the City speech," the Associated Press reports.

Great Lakes 90% covered with ice

All of the Great Lakes combined have 90% ice cover. According to the Detroit Free Press, "that's the most ice cover in 34 years."

Lawmakers want to ban term "retard" from state law

"Michigan lawmakers are looking to remove the terms 'mental retardation' and 'mentally retarded' from state law. Bipartisan bills would strike references to outdated language such as 'retarded' from various statutes and instead use terms such as 'developmentally disabled' or 'intellectually disabled'," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says his and other Michigan cities need more revenue sharing dollars from the state.

Mayor Dayne Walling delivered Flint’s “State of the City” speech yesterday. Walling outlined a lot of plans for Flint's future. But he says, without more money from the state, delivering basic services will continue to be a struggle.

“Our local communities were the ones that took the longest, most permanent cuts. And we need to be first in line,” says Walling.

But revenue sharing does not appear to be high on the legislative agenda in Lansing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is taking a new approach to solving one of its biggest problems: money.

Flint’s declining tax base has meant deep cuts to the city’s police department for well over a decade. The result has been fewer police officers working with increasingly aging equipment.

The new Flint Police Foundation is intended to help fill the gap between the department’s needs and what its budget will allow.

The foundation will search for donors who can either provide cash or equipment.

Issue Media Group

Cities like Ann Arbor, Portland, and Seattle are known for promoting biking in their cities, but biking hasn't found much of a foothold in many traditional Rust Belt cities.

Some people are trying to change that. Issue Media Group has two pieces profiling those people.

In their publication Mid-Michigan Second Wave, writer Kelli Kavanaugh looks at this trend in Flint. Kavanaugh spoke with Flint native Andy Stamps who founded the Berston Bicycle Club Project. 

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