Dustin Dwyer | Michigan Radio

Dustin Dwyer

Reporter / Producer

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom. He left the station in 2010-2011 to be a stay at home dad, and returned to be part of the Changing Gears project, a collaboration between Michigan Radio, Ideastream in Cleveland and WBEZ in Chicago. From 2012 – 2017, he was part of the team for State of Opportunity, and produced several radio documentaries on kids and families in Michigan. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three kids.

Muskegon Heights High School (file photo)
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The state has officially released the Muskegon Heights school district from receivership, marking the end of oversight for all school districts and communities in the state.

The Ambassador Bridge.
Lester Graham

Sixteen months after border restrictions first went into effect, people from Michigan will be able to visit Canada (by air or land) once again this summer.

The Canadian government announced Monday it plans to re-open the border to vaccinated U.S. citizens and residents starting August 9.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Tuesday afternoon in the library at East Kentwood High School, Governor Gretchen Whitmer sat at a table surrounded by students and signed a statewide education budget bill 27 years in the making.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A worker, sitting at her desk, fingers poised on the keyboard. Busy hallways. Occupied meeting rooms. Mundane scenes that returned Monday, bringing – to some at least – a twinge of excitement.

“It feels great to be back in the office,” said Steelcase CEO Jim Keane on Monday morning, smiling mask-less in a sun-lit office area inside the company’s Grand Rapids headquarters.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids City Commission unanimously approved a $546 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday.

The new budget includes a $700,000 increase for the city’s police department, despite months of protest, hundreds of calls and thousands of emails from people calling for cuts to GRPD’s budget.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

One year ago, a 16 year-old boy sat in a cafeteria at a group home for teens in Kalamazoo and tossed a piece of bread at another boy. The adults in the room told him to stop. Smiling, he tossed another piece. An adult pushed him to the floor, and eventually seven other grown men held the boy down for 12 minutes. 

Cornelius Fredrick died two days later, his death ruled a homicide. 

courtesy U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan

A federal grand jury issued a new superseding indictment Wednesday over the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The indictment charges three of the men with “conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction” in the plot. It also adds new weapons charges against two of the men.

courtesy of Spectrum Health

The state confirmed another 5,584 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic above 800,000. More than 17,000 people in Michigan have now passed away due to COVID-19.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Members of the Michigan-based protest movements that formed in the wake of George Floyd’s killing say Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction is a vindication of their cause.

Leaders from the protest movement called Detroit Will Breathe gathered with supporters in the snow in front of Detroit Police Headquarters just after the Chauvin verdict on Tuesday evening. They said the verdict shows the power of their movement, but it’s hardly the end point.

“Today is certainly a victory for the movement and defense of Black and brown lives. Unfortunately, it falls short of freedom,” said Nakia Wallace, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The rise in COVID-19 cases has forced Grand Rapids Public Schools to change plans for in person instruction.

GRPS has offered a hybrid option, with two days of in-person learning per week, since January.

The district was planning to expand that to four days a week after spring break, starting on April 12th.

Now those plans are changing.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

West Michigan’s largest vaccination site is opening up to everyone over the age of 16, effective immediately.

Anyone who wants to sign up can schedule their COVID-10 vaccination at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic here. The clinic is located at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

Spectrum Health, the largest hospital system in the region, says 12,500 people got a dose of the vaccine at the clinic on Monday, the largest single day mass-vaccination in the state so far. And they plan to vaccinate more than 50,000 at the clinic this week.

judges gavel

Three more men will face trial over the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison, and Pete Musico face charges of providing support to a terrorist act, being part of a gang, and of having a firearm while committing a felony.

“I would contend that all of these people are not necessarily crazy, but perhaps erratic,” said Judge Michael Klaeren, of the 12th District Court in Jackson County. “Which makes them the most dangerous of criminals, because you can’t predict them.”

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

The death toll from COVID-19 in Michigan officially surpassed 16,000 thousand today. That’s as the state races to vaccinate more people while the number of confirmed infections rise, and the number of people hospitalized because of the virus is at its highest level since January.

While the expanded availability has given a sign of hope for many in the state, public health leaders warn the risks of the virus haven’t gone away just yet.

Simon Brass / flickr

The state says it’s moving to revoke the license of a juvenile detention center outside Saginaw, after finding evidence of abuse.

The details of the state’s investigation haven’t yet been made public. But a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says investigators found evidence of physical abuse and safety violations at the Wolverine Secure Treatment Center in Buena Vista Township.

Elementary and Middle schools in Kent County have been allowed to reduce their distancing requirements from six feet down to three feet.

The Kent County Health Department changed the recommendation in February as a six-week pilot.

The change also affects which students are asked to quarantine after being exposed to a positive case of COVID-19. Under the recommendation in the pilot, only students who were within three feet of the infected person for 15 minutes or more will have to quarantine.

After months of organizers fighting for access, people with disabilities will become eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines starting next Monday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

One year after police in Louisville, Kentucky shot and killed Breonna Taylor, her family members marched down the street now named for her in her old hometown of Grand Rapids.

About 100 others joined them, to remember Taylor, and to continue the calls for police reform in Grand Rapids and elsewhere.

“She couldn’t sleep!” Taylor’s cousin Erica Eaves chanted.

“You can’t either!” supporters responded.

Twelve hour shifts, six days a week. A persistent, chemical smell that caused eyes to water, throats to itch and heads to ache. Two hundred workers and only two bathrooms.

These were the conditions inside an asparagus processing facility in Oceana County in 2019, according to two workers who’ve filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages from the owner, Todd Greiner Farms.

illustration of COVID-19 related things
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

City commissioners in Grand Rapids were once again flooded with calls last night from people upset with the city’s police department.

This time, callers to the commissioner’s meeting spoke out against officers arresting eight protesters downtown Monday night. The city manager says the police department will review the arrests.

West Michigan is getting $1.2 million dollars to improve household recycling rates in the region.

State leaders say it’s part of a goal to double Michigan’s recycling rate by 2025.

“Michigan’s current recycling rate is the lowest in the Great Lakes region and also ranks among the lowest in the nation,” says Elizabeth Browne, director of the Materials Management division at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “To ensure we reach this goal, recycling across Michigan is receiving a major boost in 2021.”

All information from local government meetings is public. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find.

Most cities and counties in Michigan do a decent job of publishing information about these meetings online. But if you go looking for it, you will quickly find yourself in a maze of drop down menus, pdf links and videos that stretch on for hours.

Helping to navigate all this information is a big part of what local news organizations do. But we can’t be everywhere.

So Michigan Radio is trying a new approach.

Today we introduce Minutes, a new project at Michigan Radio to help make public meetings in Michigan more public.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Organizers in Grand Rapids are planning an online community conversation around defunding police, even as the city’s leaders seem to be moving on from the issue.

Commissioners in Grand Rapids got an update on reforms in the police department during a special meeting on Tuesday. GRPD Chief Eric Payne told them the department is shifting to a neighborhood-based policing model in March, and plans to shift all parking enforcement to another department in July.

Commissioners largely praised the progress, undertaken as part of a new strategic plan from the department. But GRPD leaders suggested any effort to defund the department would take away from that progress.

“Can we just get back to normal?”

Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss posed the question Tuesday afternoon during a very abnormal state of the city address. In years past, Bliss delivered her address in the evening, in front of a packed crowd, while audience members sipped on craft beer. Tuesday afternoon she spoke in a nearly empty room, at a venue that opened in October 2019, just in time to spend most of 2020 closed to the public.

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

On March 1, tens of thousands of Michiganders will be added to the growing pool of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the state health department announced Monday. An estimated 79,000 workers in the food processing and agricultural industries will be eligible as part of the “1B” category, making them the latest group to become eligible.

Healthcare workers, teachers and childcare workers, corrections workers, and those who work in group living settings (like homeless shelters and foster homes) are already eligible, as well as anyone over the age of 65.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration wants to give an extra $70 million to cities in Michigan hurting from a decline in income tax revenues.

A total of 24 cities in the state collect local income taxes. They face the potential of a significant revenue decline in the coming year because of pandemic-related job losses.

Cities face additional shortfalls because more people have been working from home. Some cities collect much of their income tax revenue from non-residents who come into the city for work. 

Grand Rapids History and Special Collections (GRHSC), Archives, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In the archives at the Grand Rapids Public Library, there is a recording, made by the historian Carolyn Shapiro-Shapin in 1998.

Courtesy of U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan

Federal prosecutors may be considering additional charges for use of “weapons of mass destruction” in the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

That’s a “major factor” behind why one of the six men decided to plead guilty to the initial kidnapping charges, according to his attorneys.

Federal prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with one of the men charged in the alleged plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Under the agreement, Ty Garbin of Hartland Township, agrees to plead guilty to the charge of conspiring to kidnap the Governor. The charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison, but under the agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a lesser sentence.