Caroline Llanes | Michigan Radio
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Caroline Llanes

Newsroom Intern

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.

woman in personal protection equipment talking to woman in wheelchair
Wikimedia Commons

Michiganders aged 18-64 with disabilities are currently in group 1C in terms of priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. Disability rights activists are asking the state to move them to group 1B, along with the support staff and other people who provide them care.

In a letter to the governor and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition asked Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Elizabeth Hertel to consider moving the group.

Michigan State Spartans
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says she might be forced to close the investigation into Michigan State University and Larry Nassar if the university does not release approximately 6,000 documents to investigators.

MSU requested that then-attorney general Bill Schuette's office investigate in 2018. The university's board of trustees says the contents of the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege, and has withheld them from investigators for over two years.

ann arbor public schools district office building
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

After weeks of deliberation and discussion, Ann Arbor Public Schools has set dates for a return to in-person learning, the first of which is March 25. The plan is a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning, and families still have an entirely virtual option if that is what they prefer.

During the school board meeting, which took place at noon on Wednesday, the board voted 6-0 to approve the plan. Trustee Ernesto Querijero abstained, due to concerns about the time change for the meeting being in violation of the board's bylaws.

ADOBE STOCK

The Livingston County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at its meeting Monday night, criticizing the state's use of the CDC's social vulnerability index in determining COVID-19 vaccine allocation and calling on the state to retract the plan.

The resolution claims that the state's use of the index is disproportionately hurtful to Livingston County seniors. It says that the population at biggest risk of contracting COVID-19, according to experts, is senior citizens, particularly those with underlying health conditions.

main street downtown chelsea
Andrew Jameson / bit.ly/1xMszCg

This summer, people in Chelsea joined those around the state and the country to protest against racism and police brutality, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Some of those protestors were issued tickets by the Chelsea Police for impeding traffic.

Today, a District Court judge dismissed those tickets, saying they were issued under "an unconstitutional statute." This comes after a unanimous decision by Chelsea City Council last week to recommend that Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth dismiss the tickets.

Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS

Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list officially in January. Now, state senators have proposed a resolution calling on the Natural Resources Commission to authorize and the Department of Natural Resources to organize wolf hunts as a form of management.

There are around 695 gray wolves in Michigan, all of which live in the Upper Peninsula. According to the DNR, that population has remained relatively stable over the last ten years. The resolution has no binding authority, but does encourage those state agencies to get the ball rolling on a wolf hunt.

main street downtown chelsea
Andrew Jameson / bit.ly/1xMszCg

The summer of 2020 was marked by protests for racial justice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

Residents of Chelsea, a small town of around 5,000 people, 95% of whom are white, made their voices heard with marches and protests of their own. The Chelsea Police Department issued at least 18 tickets to those protesters for blocking the road.

Judge's gavel with books on a desk
Pixabay.com

The state Legislature is re-introducing bills that would allow drunk driving convictions to be expunged from criminal records.

Similar legislation appeared on Governor Gretchen Whitmer's desk earlier this year, but she did not sign it.

House Bill 4219 and 4220 establish eligbility for the expungement of first-time driving while intoxicated convictions.

Doctor's stethoscope
Pixabay.com

An executive order from President Joe Biden has made it possible for for uninsured Michiganders to get health insurance outside of the regular enrollment period.

People would usually have to enroll between November and December, and would need a qualifying life change to enroll outside that period.

A classroom.
User: LizMarie_AK / Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal of March 1 for every district in the state to offer an in-person learning option. Ann Arbor Public Schools hasn't yet set a date for when it'll offer an in-person learning option.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift expressed that she and the school board were concerned about a number of factors: the new B.1.1.7 variant found in Washtenaw County and Ann Arbor, community transmission rates, and a lack of vaccines available to AAPS staff were among them.

COURTESY OF MERCY HEALTH

Mercy Health in West Michigan has distributed 21,960 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date. Of the vaccines distributed, 3% of those doses have gone to Black people and 3% have gone to Latino people. That’s a number that the health system is hoping to improve.

austin chenge
Courtesy Austin Chenge

Austin Chenge is the first candidate to announce that he is challenging current Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the 2022 gubernatorial race.

Chenge and his family immigrated from Nigeria to Grand Rapids in 2008 as permanent residents, and became citizens five years later. He's an entrepreneur, operating a product and software design company, and he's never held public office.

Washtenaw County sheriff jerry clayton
Washtenaw County

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office has announced that is forgiving $509,888 worth of debt accrued by people incarcerated in the county jail.

Anyone who was incarcerated in the county jail from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2020 will have any debt they accrued forgiven.

Unsplash

Kalamazoo Public Schools has been doing remote virtual learning since September, when the school year began. As the district enters its third trimester, the school board will decide on Thursday, February 11 on whether to stay fully remote, or offer a hybrid option.

The hybrid plan put forth by KPS would have students in classrooms two days a week, some synchronous learning on Wednesdays, and two days of asynchronous, independent learning. 

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) was recently made the chair of the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence & Counterterrorism Subcommittee within the House Committee on Homeland Security. She says a crucial part of her work with the subcommittee will be focusing on the rise of domestic terrorism.

Prior to being elected to Michigan's 8th Congressional District, Slotkin worked as an analyst for the CIA. She calls herself a "militia and terrorism expert." She says she was surprised to have to use those skills to examine things happening in her own district.

testing swab
Shutterstock image

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with Wayne State University and Wayne Health to bring COVID-19 testing to more Michiganders using mobile health units.

The mobile health units are based in vans that already serve Detroit and its metropolitan area. The vans are equipped to provide COVID-19 tests, flu vaccines, blood pressure screenings, and HIV tests.

image of furniture and mattresses on curb
User wolfpeterson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan is set to receive $622,794,676 from the federal government for emergency rent and utility payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House Appropriations Committee doesn't want to give the Michigan State Housing and Development Authority that money all at once: it wants to distribute it in installments.

The proposed plan would allocate $165,226,700 to MSHDA immediately, and the rest would be distributed over the course of the year. House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) says this is "simply to ensure accountability and transparency in the process."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced her new legislative agenda for elections in a press conference Monday. The agenda calls for sweeping changes, many with the goal of making it easier for Michiganders to vote.

Many of the proposed changes focus on absentee ballots: they would require absentee ballot applications to be mailed every federal election cycle, require counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day and received shortly after to be counted, and allow the processing of absentee ballots to begin two weeks before Election Day.

periodical cicada
Laura Gilchrist / Unslpash

Though it might seem pretty cold in Michigan now, spring will soon be upon us, bringing with it cicadas from the largest brood in the United States.

Brood X, otherwise known the Great Eastern Brood, is the largest in both geographic range and number of cicadas of the 15 broods in the eastern United States. The cicadas you see each year usually only have three to four year lifespans, and look different from the distincive Brood X cicadas with bright red eyes.


dearborn ford community and performing arts center
R. M. Hermen / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Dearborn City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to change the name of the Hubbard Ballroom in its civic center, the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center. The venue used for weddings and other events will now be called the Lincoln Ballroom in honor of President Abraham Lincoln.

Orville Hubbard was the longest serving mayor of Dearborn, but gained notoriety for his racist remarks and fervent support of racial segregation. 

The state capitol building against a cloudy gray sky
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives are introducing legislation to ban guns in and around the state Capitol.

House Bill 4023 would add the Capitol building, its grounds, and the Anderson House Office Building and Binsfield Senate Office Building to the list of places in Michigan where possessing a firearm is illegal, with the exception of law enforcement.

ice cover on the great lakes january 21 2021
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Great Lakes have been slow to freeze this year, compared to years past. Currently, around 2.4% of the Great Lakes are covered by ice, concentrated in the Green Bay region off Lake Michigan and Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. That's lower than 11% cover at this time last year.

Jia Wang is an ice climatologist for NOAA. He says it's been a warm winter in the Great Lakes region.

"[Ice cover] is very very low, unusually low this year, compared to other years and compared to the average. This year, air temperatures are so warm. Air temperature has a negative correlation with ice cover. Of course, if it's warmer, there's less ice cover," he says.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Outgoing President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who has served about seven years of a 28-year sentence for corruption.

A White House statement said that prominent members of the Detroit community had supported Kilpatrick’s commutation and noted, “During his incarceration, Mr. Kilpatrick has taught public speaking classes and has led Bible Study groups with his fellow inmates.”

a woman in scrubs puts on gloves in front of a car
Beenish Ahmed / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says that there are over 12,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations scheduled at the TCF Center in Detroit in the coming weeks. The city wants to do even more, but doesn't know if it can count on a consistent number of doses.

"Everybody is having a tough week. In Detroit, we expected to get 9 to 10 thousand this week. We got 6000. We can work with 6000, but it is not what we had hoped to try to keep expanding eligibility," Duggan said in a press conference Tuesday.

silhouette of mom holding hands of two kids in front of sunset sky
Serjik Ahkhundov / Adobe Stock

Kent County shelters are seeing more families experiencing homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family Promise in Grand Rapids usually houses 30 to 40 families a night during the winter. This year, they're providing shelter to twice that amount. The families are staying in hotels, with many people working and going to school remotely.

Hands gripping jail cell bars
maxpixel

Michigan's guidelines for prioritization of the COVID-19 vaccine includes staff in correctional facilities and homeless shelters in its early phases, but not inmates and people living in homeless shelters.

That's a concern for the ACLU of Michigan, who released a memo this week asking the state to reconsider these groups to include residents of homeless shelters and inmates in Michigan's prisons and jails.

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Antonio Valenti was born and raised in Detroit, but had been living and working Colorado for the past few years. As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, he wanted to be closer to his family, especially his sons. But Valenti couldn't work: he suffers from a degenerative condition called spinal stenosis.

"It's a form of spine disease that attacks your bones and just basically feels like it's breaking my back," Valenti says of the pain.

Henry Ford Health System has installed a dozen specialized freezers to store two promising COVID-19 vaccines
Henry Ford Health System

Macomb County is expecting a vaccine for COVID-19 to arrive as early as next week. The county health department has obtained some of the ultra-cold freezers needed to store the Pfizer vaccine, and they've started preparing buildings for people to go get vaccinated. 

Bill Ridella is the director of the Macomb County Health Department. He says the first vaccine facility will be in Clinton Township.


Construction area with hard hat sign
benjamin sTone / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM / cropped from original

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it will do more inspections in response to outbreaks of COVID-19 in construction and manufacturing. It says it wants to make sure businesses are following COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

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