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Traverse City

Benjaman James

After college graduation, Traverse City native and musician Benjaman James had a big decision to make: get a job that pays the bills, or pursue a career in music.  

Benjaman got a degree from Michigan State University’s college of engineering. After graduation he started the band “Old Mission Collective.”

As the group continued to gain traction, members came and went, but he says he became the only common member in the band. So he decided to go solo.

Now, Benjaman James is out with a new EP titled “Growing Pains" out December 3. 

Some have taken issue with Officer Peters' actions, while others are defending his First Amendment right to express himself.
flickr user edward stojakovic / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Since Donald Trump’s election there has been an increase nationwide in reports of harassment and intimidation of minorities.

One such incident is making headlines in Traverse City. Police Officer Michael Peters has been suspended after flying the Confederate flag on his truck at a “Love Trumps Hate” rally.

The riverfront in Traverse City
Public Domain

 

The National Writers Series of Traverse City hits a big milestone this week. It will host its 100th author event.

Quite a mark to hit for something that began in June of 2009.

Doug Stanton and Anne Stanton are co-founders of the National Writers Series. They joined us to talk about how the National Writers Series came to be, and take a look back at some of the writers they’ve drawn to Traverse City.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Next month, voters in Traverse City will decide if they should have a say whether there will be taller buildings in town.

The proposed charter change on the November 8th ballot would require a public vote on plans for buildings taller than 60 feet.

Jay Zelenock is with the group Save Our Downtown.  He says they are not opposed to new tall buildings.  But Zelenock says people in Traverse City are worried about the aesthetic of their community.  He also worries about tax breaks given to developers.

"Anything that you would want, from shopping, to health care, to buying a car, you name it, we have it all right here. But yet, we have an incredible small town feel, and that's a very special thing," Brenda Quick told us.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

What happens to a picturesque city when its charms draw more and more people who want to live or work there, and when the push for new housing threatens the very thing that made that city so special?

Traverse City is wrestling with these questions right now, including the lack of affordable housing.

Some locals fear that Traverse City is losing its small town feel.
flickr user zenmasterdod / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

For many visitors, Traverse City is the heart of Up North.

The natural beauty is complemented by the town’s vibrant culture of fine foods, craft beer and endless festivals.

But for locals, all that popularity comes at a cost.

Ty Schmidt told us safety is a huge part of the Norte! experience. "We really take it serious. They signal, they stop at every stop sign, and their confidence builds, their independence builds," he said. "As they get older, these will be lifelong skills."
Courtest of Norte!

It used to be that getting to school meant hopping on your bike.

But when Ty Schmidt moved to Traverse City ten years ago, something stuck him: crowded bike racks outside schools had been replaced with long lines of cars at drop-off and pick-up.

That led Schmidt and his wife Johanna to launch an effort to get kids to ride their bikes - safely - to and from school. 

The Accidentals are Katie Larson, Michael Dause and Savannah Buist
Tony Demin

The Accidentals have been busy since last we spoke in 2013.

All told, the young musicians performed a whopping 230 shows across the country after graduating high school last year.
 

The dynamic Traverse City trio was named one of Billboard Magazine's top seven breakout acts of South by Southwest in 2015.

And now, they've just released their newest EP, Parking Lot.

Simon Brass / Flickr

Michigan is closing one of its 32 prisons to save $22 million in the next fiscal year.

The Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County will close in September. The minimum security prison has more than 1,300 beds and 230 employees. It’s been open since 1956.

The corrections department made the announcement Tuesday, a day before a legislative committee is expected to endorse the closure in the next state budget.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Almost 130 property owners in Traverse City will receive letters warning them that their drinking water flows through a gooseneck, or a short section of lead pipe before it reaches their homes. These goosenecks connect a property's service line to the city's water distribution line.  

The letters from city officials were prompted by state and federal agencies that directed municipal water system officials to reach out and educate residents about lead and copper. The city plans on testing the water in each property with a gooseneck. 

Almost 130 property owners in Traverse City will receive letters warning them that their drinking water flows through a gooseneck, or a short section of lead pipe before it reaches their homes. These goosenecks connect a property's service line to the city's water distribution line.  

The letters from city officials were prompted by state and federal agencies that directed municipal water system officials to reach out and educate residents about lead and copper service lines. The city plans on testing the water in each property with a gooseneck. 

Sunset over Traverse City
Jerry / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

How many times have you said this while you’ve been on vacation?

“I wish we could just live here all the time.”

As it turns out, among the thousands who have visited Traverse City over the last couple decades, many of them have said that. And followed through and made that wish come true. It’s becoming more than the National Cherry Festival and a fun place to spend a long weekend in the summer.

The riverfront in Traverse City
Public Domain

The Next Idea

Most anyone would agree that Traverse City is one of Michigan’s crown jewels. It’s a beautiful location and a great place to live, visit and retire.

But one thing Traverse City has lacked is a strong central point for the area’s tech industry.

Russell Schindler is a Traverse City geologist and entrepreneur. He basically got sick and tired of driving nearly four hours to Ann Arbor for tech meet-ups, so he started a new group, called TC New Tech.

Flickr user Christian Schnettelker / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When you think northern Michigan you think Cherries. So why is it that the Guinness Record for the wold's largest cherry pie is held by Oliver, British Columbia?

Two Michigan cities previously held that title.

Patrick Sullivan wrote about the battle of the cherry pies for Northern Express.

By White House photo by Eric Draper via Wikimedia Commons

The legions of readers who love and cherish Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” were stunned and then excited at the prospect of reading her long-lost manuscript, “Go Set a Watchman.”

The story centers on Scout as a grown woman: Jean Louise Finch. Once eager readers clamped their eyes on the story, the shockwaves hit.

The beloved character of Atticus had become a bigot.

“Go Set a Watchman” was not an extension of “To Kill a Mockingbird” after all.

Wind, rain make a powerful pair as storms hit Michigan

Aug 2, 2015
The Mackinac Bridge on a warmer day.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) - Storms carrying strong winds and rain have pounced on Michigan, cutting power in some areas, snapping trees and knocking over at least one recreational trailer on the Mackinac Bridge.

The bridge connecting the peninsulas was temporarily closed at one point Sunday as winds hit 65 mph. Power outages were reported in the Traverse City area.

Storms rolled into Michigan's thumb region, and forecasters say southeastern Michigan could be vulnerable to high winds throughout the evening.

With VHS camera in hand, Michigan native Jerry White Jr. and friends recorded over 400 hours of experimental video art and comedy sketches in a Detroit-area public access TV show they called 30 Minutes of Madness.

 A former Traverse City high school student who was sexually assaulted by a teacher is now suing the school district for allegedly harassing and ostracizing him after the abuse came to light.  

Keegan Gordon was 15 when he was assaulted by teacher Lisa Placek, 48, who pled guilty to criminal sexual assault and was sentenced to prison in 2012.

She was paroled last month, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. 

Traverse city vineyard
Flickr user Rachel Kramer / Flickr

The Traverse City area is emerging as Michigan's new "foodie empire." Chris Cook, chief wine and restaurant critic for Hour Detroit Magazine, tells us just which area restaurants are worth a visit.

Billy Strings and Don Julin

If you haven't heard of Don Julin and Billy Strings, then you probably haven't been hanging around Traverse City. 

Sunset in Traverse City
User: Joey Lax-Salinas

 

Walk or drive around your city or town: Chances are good your eyes will fall on something intriguing. Something that makes you wonder, "What's that, and where did it come from?"

But sometimes you don't know where to find the answer.

A new local history magazine aims to be the place for those answers. It's a digital magazine called The Grand Traverse Journal.

Amy Barritt is co-editor of the journal and special collections librarian for the Traverse Area District Library. She says the platform invites the public to be part of the digital magazine by not only reading, but also producing some of its content.

"It's a really good vehicle for people to practice those skill sets of literacy and communication. That's why we think the journal is good not just for our region, but libraries across the state can get started in projects like this," says Barritt.

You can view the Grand Traverse Journal here.

* Listen to our conversation with Amy Barritt above.

Pure Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The National Cherry Festival is getting underway in Traverse City, with the opening weekend featuring a return appearance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and several events linked to the region's growing reputation as a foodie haven.

On Saturday, the headliner is a "Blues, Brews and BBQ" program featuring beers and ciders from Michigan microbreweries and a wide selection of barbecues, with some recipes featuring cherries.

The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City runs from July 5 through July 12.
User: Michigan Municipal League / flickr

Sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much.

That seems to be what some residents and city commissioners in Traverse City are thinking about the upcoming National Cherry Festival, and the many other festivals that draw visitors to Traverse City through the year.

In short, some of the locals are starting to push back. It’s been dubbed “festival fatigue.” Some residents complain in particular about the Cherry Festival in a downtown park called the “Open Space” that runs along Grand Traverse Bay. They grumble about noise, trash, and crowds.

User: waledro / Flickr

An unusual berry should be widely available at farmers markets in northern Michigan this summer. In fact, the region has become the center of saskatoon growing in the United States.

Most people who grow saskatoons around Traverse City were not farmers until a few years ago, but the berry could have a bright future in northern Michigan.

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus.
Metropolitan Museum of Art / Wikimedia Commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A Traverse City commissioner has pulled from Monday's agenda a resolution to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports  Commissioner Jim Carruthers agreed to sponsor the resolution, but says it's not ready for a vote.

The resolution was requested by American Indian activist group Idle No More Michigan.

Carruthers says he wants to give Idle No More organizers more time to get a resolution of support from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Living off the grid can be illegal

Jun 12, 2014
Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

Energy use on the globe is expected to go up by more than 50% in the next 25 years. Michigan law is mandating a heavier reliance on renewable sources by next year. But some say that’s not enough, and they are taking matters into their own hands.

Experimenting with sustainability

Take Rolf and Mari von Walthausen for example. They were a typical Traverse City couple. They worked 40-hour-a-week jobs and lived in an average-sized home. But one day they did an experiment.

“We moved all of our belongings into one room of the house and said, let’s see how it is to live in a space that is 12 by 16 [feet],” Rolf von Walthausen said.

Then they tried another experiment.

“There was a time that one summer at our house, we actually set up the tent in the yard and we lived in this tent for four months,” Rolf von Walthausen said.

Living off the grid

Then came the big test. The von Walthausens sold their house, quit their day jobs and built a tiny cabin in the woods with no running water or electricity. They got new part-time jobs teaching yoga and tuning pianos, they were living in the woods, getting their water from a stream nearby, gathering wood to heat their wood- burning stove, and using their compostable toilet outside.

Sharon Drummond / Flickr

Traverse City public schools are getting ready to welcome about 55  students from Dalian, China, in January. They will attend high school for two weeks and stay with local families.

In May, about 25 Traverse City high schoolers will do the same in China at a high school attached to Dalian University of Technology.

Andrew McFarlane / Creative Commons

The waterfront in Traverse City used to be an industrial area. Now it's open space with parks, beaches and bike trails.

With that comes festivals, and some city residents say there are too many. They complain of "festival fatigue." City leaders voted last night to lower the number of festivals allowed in the open space area from six to four.

More from the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

Commissioners said the new limitation would address resident concerns about the number of large events at the Open Space in a reasonable manner. Commissioners split on the question, reflecting the temperament of city residents who offered varying opinions on the need for more festivals.

“We are limiting one event at one park,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said before running through a long list of festivals and events that remain. “We are not eliminating events for Traverse City.”

cherryfestival.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Traverse City commissioners are considering a proposal to deal with so-called "festival fatigue."

Some residents say there are too many summer festivals in a downtown park called the "Open Space" that runs along Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay. They complain about noise, crowds and trash.

Others say the festivals are good for the tourist economy and fun for locals as well.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan air travelers could see some changes with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The merger creating the world's largest airline became official today.  But the new American Airlines has relatively few flights flying into and out of six Michigan airports.   

Michael Conway is a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.  He says the newly merged airline carries only about 6.6% of passengers flying out of Detroit.

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