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Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Plastic debris is getting into the Great Lakes, our drinking water, and our food

There’s been a lot of news about the amount of plastic debris in the oceans. But plastic pollution is also affecting the Great Lakes. A study out of the Rochester Institute of Technology estimates 22 million pounds of plastic debris enters the Great Lakes from the U.S. and Canada each year.

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Lester Graham

Michigan legislators hear from educators all the time about money for schools. But legislators, for the most part, are not hearing from parents and other taxpayers.

Tom White is with the SOS (Save Our Students Schools and State), a coaltion of education managers, the P-T-A and others. He says until the public really pressures lawmakers with protests, phone calls and petitions (what the legislators refer to as blood in the streets'), not much is going to be done about more money for schools.

Lester Graham

Getting your budget cut is no fun, and that's exactly what's happened to schools in Michigan. Generally speaking, educators know why that's happened. Michigan's economy tanked and that's affected the tax dollars coming in for schools.

Steve Carmody

You can hardly find a bar in Michigan that doesn't feature video screens offering you a chance to get rich and help Michigan schools. The lottery has done such a good marketing job of telling players they're helping Michigan schools that people have an inflated idea of how much the lottery money helps.

David Martell is the Executive Director of Michigan School Business Officials. He says it's true the Lottery does help.

Lester Graham

Michigan's schools are required by law to have a budget by June 30th. The legislature doesn't have to complete its budget until September 30th. So for the schools, it's hard to figure out a budget when you don't know how much money you're going to get from the state.

"I mean, that's crazy," said Tom White, Chair of a group called SOS (Save Our Students Schools and State), "We don't know until it's so late in our budgeting year, because every year the legislature appropriates funds, but they don't get around to it in a timely fashion.

Teens rock out at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra

Aug 5, 2010
Jennifer Guerra

Like a lot of Michigan cities, Jackson is hurting. The economy is in the tank, the unemployment rate is high, and stores continue to close, including the few places in town where teenagers could go hear live music. That has left those who live there with not much to do on a Friday night.

Merze Tate Travel Club opens doors (slideshow)

Jun 18, 2010
Tori Zackery

Kids can learn a lot about a place through books, television, and the web. But one Kalamazoo woman thinks you can't really know a place or its people, unless you go and visit, which is why she started a travel club.

About twenty girls and several adults board an Amtrak train in Kalamazoo. "We're going on a mystery train ride with the travel club," exclaims travel club member Claire Khabeiry. Like a lot of kids in the group she's never been on train before.

Marcus Belgrave's Sounds of Detroit

Jun 11, 2010
Courtesy of Marcus Belgrave

Ann Arbor, MI Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye. Those are some of the big names of Detroit music. But another name worthy of top billing is trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. He's been a fixture in the Detroit scene for decades, and has covered everything from avant-garde to jazz standards. He even played on some of Motown's greatest hits.

Belgrave was recently honored by the Kresge Foundation as their Detroit Eminent Artist of the year. We sat down with the jazz trumpeter to talk about his life in music.

"This is Marcus Belgrave, eminent artist award for the year. I'm very excited about this award because it chronicles my life in Detroit for the last 40 years.

Losing a Gem

Jun 7, 2010

A Kalamazoo arts organization that was considered a real success story has shut its doors, for now. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris looks at why The Smart Shop Metal Arts Center has closed and what the future may hold.

J Dilla's beat goes on

Jun 1, 2010
Paul Farber

J Dilla was one of Detroit's most prolific and respected hip hop producers. He died in 2006, but his music still inspires his fans around the world. And now his Mom is using his name to support music education in his hometown.

A state panel has named an emergency financial manager to run the city of Benton Harbor. Governor Granholm declared a financial emergency in Benton Harbor in February.

State officials say Benton Harbor's financial troubles include a deficit that has been growing by double digits. The city asked for an emergency infusion of cash from the state last month to make its payroll.

A state board named former Detroit auditor general and chief financial officer Joseph Harris to run the city, with the power to control all spending and renegotiate union contracts.

Terry Stanton is a spokesman for the state Treasury. He says drastic action is needed at times to set a city's finances right.

"The state is only as financially strong as the units within the state and, unfortunately, sometimes it's a long ways down the road before the state can step in," says Stanton.

Benton Harbor is the third city in Michigan being run by an emergency manager. The others are Pontiac and Ecorse.

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