Traverse City

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.

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.

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.

Can you imagine paying $7 for a gallon of milk? That reality isn't too far off if Congress can't get it together and pass a Farm Bill. We found out more about the so-called dairy cliff on today's show.

Then, scientists say Lake Superior is heating up faster than any other lake on Earth. We asked why.

And, Traverse City’s festivals are adding jobs and money to the local economy, some residents have had enough. Can a balance be reached?

First on the show, a move by the Michigan Lottery has caught retailers by surprise, a big surprise.

Earlier this year, the State Legislature said no to a budget request from the Michigan Lottery for money to launch online and smart phone lottery sales. Storeowners who sell lottery tickets thought that was the end of that.

Turns out, they were wrong.

Chris Gautz has been following this story for Crain's Detroit Business, and he joined us today.

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Can there be too much of a good thing?

That question is buzzing around Traverse City now that summer is behind them.

Some residents are saying they're not happy with the burst of festivals drawing throngs of visitors to Traverse City. Others say those festivals and those visitors add up to jobs for locals and dollars pumped into the economy.

What's the balance that can be struck as Traverse City works to develop a blue economy based on its beautiful freshwater location?

John Flesher, reporter for The Associated Press, and Ken Winter, the longtime Petoskey newspaper editor and publisher, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Wikipedia

 Famed folklorist Alan Lomax prowled through Michigan on his legendary 10 year cross-country trip, collecting American folk music for the Library of Congress. In that collection is a lively reel by a fiddler named Patrick Bonner recorded on Beaver Island, Michigan in 1938.

Now, Alan Lomax’s hundreds of Michigan recordings are being presented in a traveling exhibition from Michigan State University. It’s called Michigan Folksong Legacy: Grand Discoveries from the Great Depression.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

If you’re a local in Northern Michigan, especially in a tourist town, you need a few places that are all your own.

That dive bar visitors don’t know. The private beach that’s hidden away.

For Traverse City residents, one place like that is the InsideOut art gallery.

First thing you do there is get a drink at the cocktail bar.

Then, you head to the patio that has no view of the lake (which, hey, no tourists!)

deepwoodpress.com

Today on Stateside, we talked with currency expert, journalist, and author Jacqui Dunne about local currencies. In case you're still a little unclear as to how a local currency would work in everyday life, we found out more about it.

Dena Ames is a Traverse City resident. She works at Oryana Natural Food Market where they use and exchange a local currency called Bay Bucks.

Dena Ames joined us today from Traverse City to talk about how Bay Bucks are helping the local economy.

Listen to the full interview above.

The city of Traverse City

They shut it down when they discovered the problem, but still... it makes for a not-so-fun splash park.

Brian McGillivary and Michael Walton from the Traverse City Record-Eagle have more on how the new splash pad in Clinch Park happened to rain "water contaminated with human waste on a half-dozen children":

Facebook

Across the world ancient cultures built impressive stone circles, think Stonehenge in England, the Dromberg Stone Circle in West Cork Ireland, or the stone circle at Beaver Island.

No one knows exactly their significance. But, whether they were used as burials, for community gatherings or connected to agricultural events, like the summer solstice, people will always wonder why they exist.

Today, stone circles have appeared across the U.S., mainly to pay homage to our ancient ancestors. And, one of those exists here in Michigan.

Poet and educator Terry Wooten built his own stone circle nearly 30 years ago, designed to capture the atmosphere of ancient cultures. It's located north of Traverse City.

Terry joined us today to tell us all about it.

For more information, visit Terry's website: http://terry-wooten.com/

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The summer holiday season is getting off to a cool start this weekend.

There’s a chance of frost tonight in parts of Michigan.   And daytime temperatures will struggle to make it into the low 70’s the rest of the weekend. 

It may feel a little chilly for the first weekend of summer, but weather forecasters say more seasonable temperatures are coming.

But will this be a warmer or cooler summer?

Jeff Andresen is a state climatologist. He says Michigan’s average summer high temperatures range in the upper 70 to lower 80’s.

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Update: Tours now available of untouched building

Saw an article by Matt Troutman  of the Traverse City Record-Eagle where he reports that tours through the last remaining undeveloped portion of the former state mental hospital and its labyrinth of tunnels are now available.

People lucky enough to land a spot on a tour will start in the Mercato and walk outside toward the north wing of Building 50. Many of the patient rooms are open for exploration, though people are warned to be aware of the peeling lead paint and must put protective covers over their shoes.

Once outside Building 50, the tour will go underground into the brick-lined tunnels that stretch beneath the hospital. The tour ends where it started: inside the new, redeveloped portion of Building 50.

Future tour dates will be announced on The Village at Grand Traverse Commons Facebook page. They cost $25, with the proceeds going toward maintaining and replanting the former arboretum.

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The transformed Northern Michigan Asylum has been up and running as the Village at Grand Traverse Commons for several years.

Ray Minervini has been working on restoring the old state mental hospital for more than a decade.

You could call it a mega-fixer-upper.

Minervini told us back in 2006 that the work being done on the site "equates to the largest rehab project for sure in the Midwest."

The former state mental hospital in Traverse City is a castle-like compound of about 27 buildings.

They were closed in 1989 and vacant for a decade after.

In 2002, Minervini bought all 63-acres of the property for just $1.

After putting in over $60 million, it's now a showpiece for the area. Once it's complete, the owners expect that approximately 1,800 people will live or work there.

Traverse City National Writer Series, An Evening with Vince Gilligan. Photo courtesy John Russell.
National Writers Series / Facebook

Since 2009, readers from across the country have been making their way to downtown Traverse City for an opportunity to get to know some of the most celebrated authors and story-tellers of our time.

Now heading into its fourth year, the Traverse City National Writers Series, founded by Traverse City native Doug Stanton, has nearly doubled the amount of authors featured, according to their website.

Inside the Piper Cherokee Six. Their website reads "Plenty of room for your romantic encounter."
Courtesy milehightc.com

Not surprisingly, there are online, how-to instructions for joining the 'mile high club,' but to join might set off a security alert.

That's where someone like Traverse City pilot Scott Conaway steps in.

user RyAwesome / fotopedia

The state Senate has amended a budget bill to add a new exception to Michigan’s workplace smoking ban.

The Senate version of the human services budget would prohibit spending money to enforce the smoking ban against an annual charity cigar dinner in Traverse City and other events like it.

Republican state Senator Howard Walker sponsored the budget amendment.

"It has to do with non-profits that have been in business for over 10 years for their charity which will help some of the needy folks in the community,” Walker said.

Specifically, the amendment would allow the Father Fred Foundation cigar dinner to go forward without running the risk of a citation.

Organizers have been trying to find away around the smoking ban since 2010.

Right now, the only exceptions to the smoking ban are the casinos in Detroit and on tribal land.

Anti-smoking groups oppose the exception.

(loveamourlove.com)

The federal courthouse in Traverse City is on a list of 60 nationwide that may face closure.

The federal government is considering closing up to 60 courthouse across the country as part of an effort to cut costs.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show federal courthouses facilities in 29 states could be on the chopping block.   Many of the court sites are in rural areas and critics say closing them could make it more difficult for people to get to court proceedings.

user ellenm1 / Flickr

A winter storm passed over the northern part of the state starting last Friday night.

One meteorologist described it as a "cement-mixer" type of snow.

Interlochen Public Radio's Peter Payette reported "the heaviest snow came down on Leelanau County this weekend where 20 inches fell according to an estimate from the National Weather Service."

The snow was wet and clung to trees and utility lines around the region.

All phone service went down in Leelanau County, even cell phone coverage.

Much of that was restored by Saturday evening but many roads there and elsewhere remain impassable due to downed trees and snow.

On Saturday the American Red Cross scrambled to set up warming shelters from Baldwin to Cheboygan.

And many hotels in Traverse City filled up Sunday night.

And the Associated Press reports that many customers are still without power:

Consumers Energy says 35,000 customers still have no power in northern and northwestern Michigan due to storms that began Friday.

Nearly half the outages are in Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse counties. The utility says the "destructive nature" of the storm has been a challenge to repair crews.

Most customers north of U.S. 10 should get their power back by midnight, but the wait in some of the hardest-hit counties could stretch to Tuesday.

Those counties include Benzie, Charlevoix, Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee.

Public schools in Traverse City are closed today, and people who see downed power lines should call (800) 477-5050 or local police.

Update 1:53 p.m.

Police in the Traverse City area have located the person described as suicidal.

From the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office:

Grand Traverse Sheriff's deputies located Shahbaht Anderson at a residence in Grawn.  The  shotgun was also located at the residence.  Deputies took Anderson into custody  without incident on a warrant out of Leelanau County on an unrelated charge.  Anderson will be lodged at the Leelanau County jail.

The Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department is continuing their investigation into the incident which occurred in Blair Township and will forward the report  to the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's Office for review when completed.

10:41 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Two schools in Traverse City are locked down as police look for a person described as suicidal.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department says the person was in the area of Blair Elementary School on Monday morning. The department says there's no direct link between the person and the
school.

But as a precaution, officials moved Blair Elementary's students and staff to Traverse City East and West Middle Schools.

In a phone message to parents, school officials say Blair and Traverse City West are locked down.

 

*Clarification - The Associated Press reports the police say "there's no direct link between the person and the school." But Peter Payette of Interlochen Public Radio reports that "school officials say the man was related to a student at the middle school. "

user thienzieyung / Flickr

Update 1:58 p.m.

In a press release, the Federal Aviation Administration says they had to order contractors at airports around the country to stop working after Congress failed to pass legislation that reauthorized funding on 'critical airport modernization projects.'

The deadline for the FAA funding extension passed last Friday night.

U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood is quoted in the press release:

“Construction workers across America will lose their jobs and local communities will be hurt the longer this goes on. Congress needs to pass an FAA bill to prevent further economic damage,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”
 
“Unless Congress acts quickly, more work on projects critical to our nation’s aviation system will come to a halt. Work is stopping on construction and planning projects, NextGen system testing, and airport certification.  The list goes on and on and this is just the beginning,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
 

Here's a list of airports affected by the stop work orders.

The FAA says "nearly 4,000 FAA personnel, many needed to oversee various aspects of these projects, were furloughed on Saturday" and that the work-stoppage could "significantly increase the ultimate costs of construction for taxpayers."

12:21 p.m.

KALAMZOO, Mich. (AP) - Obama administration officials say contractors have been told to stop work on airport modernization projects across the country including the Kalamazoo, Traverse City and Flint areas because Congress has failed to pass legislation necessary for the work to continue.

Officials said Monday that stop-work orders have been issued for dozens of major projects.

The Federal Aviation Administration says they include a $14.4 million tower construction project at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, an $11 million tower construction project in Traverse City and a $1.9 million tower fire remediation project in Flint.

The House and Senate are at a stalemate over air service subsidies for rural communities and a Republican proposal that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize, among other issues.

(flickr farlane)

More than a million Michiganders are expected to spend part of the Memorial Day holiday weekend travelling to popular tourism destinations.  But they are expected to watch their spending too.  

A AAA Michigan survey found Michiganders plan to spend about 14% less on things like food and other amenities during their Memorial Day holiday travels this year.  The main reason - 4 dollar a gallon gasoline.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

More than a million Michiganders are expected to get-a-way to some of the state’s favorite tourist spots next weekend.  But they are not expected to spend much money Memorial Day weekend.  

The AAA surveyed its members recently and found many plan to spend less of their vacation budget on restaurants and other amenities.