Dustin Dwyer | Michigan Radio
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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.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A West Michigan mother says she hopes Michigan policymakers will intervene to spare her son from deportation.

Marilú Parra-Velázquez says she brought her son Brandon Reyes to the U.S. from Mexico when he was five.

For him, Grand Rapids is home, she says. He’s active in his community and in his church, and she says he’s a good role model for his two younger sisters, who are U.S. citizens.

“Our family, the suffering we feel,” Parra-Velázquez said at a press conference today near Grand Rapids. She spoke in Spanish.

Mis hijas lo extraña mucho.”

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The ACLU of Michigan has asked a civilian board to review a controversial case involving the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The case is over Jilmar Ramos-Gomez. He’s a U.S. citizen and a war veteran. He was mistakenly detained by immigration authorities last year based on a tip from the GRPD.

Photo by Dustin Dwyer. Statement by Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association.

This has been a contentious week for officials in Grand Rapids city government. The city is dealing with the fallout over the case of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, a U.S. citizen and war veteran who was mistakenly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement based on a tip from Grand Rapids police.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police department has placed one of its senior commanders on administrative leave.

The city says it’s reviewing the actions of GRPD captain Curt VanderKooi in a case that led to a U.S. citizen being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A Grand Rapids City Commission meeting had to end early last night, after protestors disrupted the meeting.

The protestors, organized by Movimiento Cosecha GR, called on the city to end all police cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.

“ICE and cops go hand in hand,” dozens of protestors shouted, while standing in front of commission members.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss highlighted the city’s economic growth during her State of the City address on Monday night. But she said Grand Rapids still has a lot of work to do to make that growth equitable.

Bliss mentioned the many new development projects in and around downtown, an unemployment rate hovering near three percent, new park improvements and a new autonomous shuttle service for downtown that’s scheduled to begin soon.

photo courtesy of the family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez


courtesy Movimiento Cosecha GR

A well-known immigration activist in West Michigan says he’s trying to stay optimistic after being arrested this week to face possible deportation.

Brandon Reyes is currently in the Calhoun County Correction Facility, which has an agreement to hold immigration detainees. Reyes grew up in Grand Rapids and is part of the “Dreamer” generation of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. He was enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was created to protect young immigrants from deportation.

flickr/ruimc / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

The city of Battle Creek could be the latest in Michigan to move forward on replacing water pipes that contain lead. City Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a contract to replace the pipes at 93 addresses across the city. The city is deciding whether to spend $311,670 for the work.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

William Thomas opens the front door of his house on the south side of Benton Harbor and leads the way to the kitchen.

He has a white goatee, and he has on a dark grey collared shirt and gold rimmed glasses.

He sits down at a round table with a stack of papers stuck to a clipboard. He pulls one out, a white sheet that was sent to him in the mail last fall.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Consumers Energy says it expects to have power returned to all customers by midday Monday. The utility company says it’s already restored power to more than 200,000 customers since last week’s ice storms.

But the recovery isn’t over in the hardest hit parts of West Michigan.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The City of Grand Rapids will run an Emergency Operations Center through the weekend to manage the response to this week’s storms.

Areas in and around Grand Rapids took the brunt of the power outages caused by ice storms that swept through the area on Wednesday and Thursday.

Grand Rapids fire chief John Lehman says at the peak of the outages, 56,000 residents in Grand Rapids were without power – that’s about a quarter of the city’s entire population.

Those numbers included retirement homes in the city.

flickr/gswj / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

A federal judge has rejected the latest attempt to throw out a case filed by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians against the state of Michigan. The case is over whether the tribe has jurisdiction on 337 square miles of land in northern Michigan.

The land stretches along the shore of Lake Michigan and includes the city of Petoskey and part of Charlevoix.

The tribe is not claiming it owns the land, but rather that the land is a reservation. And that reservation status means the tribe has the right to operate as a government entity to decide what happens on the land.

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University has named its next president. Philomena Mantella will be the fifth president to serve the university in its nearly 60-year history. And she’ll be the first woman in that role.

Mantella comes to GVSU from Northeastern University in Boston, where she’s the senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network.

WMU Archives

It was four months after he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and only four weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

photo courtesy of the family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is changing its policy on cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

photo courtesy of the family of Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez is a U.S. citizen. Born in Grand Rapids. He served in the Marines and saw combat in Afghanistan.

And last month federal immigration authorities took him into custody to face possible deportation.

Attorneys and immigration advocates in West Michigan are now demanding to know why, and how, this happened.

A house  in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The number of homes listed for sale in metro Grand Rapids hit a 20 year low last year, according to new numbers released by the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.

That’s as the average price of homes in Michigan’s second largest city hit an all-time high.

Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

About 7,000 Michigan workers went through a layoff in 2018, according to data from the state. That number was about the same as in 2017.

The list doesn’t include everyone who lost a job for the year. And, overall, the state gained more jobs than it lost in 2018.

flickr.com/mattwieve / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Ottawa County will have a new robot guide in the county building starting in January.

The robot will go by the name Tracey. Tracey has a digital face. It can talk and respond to questions, and display information on a large touch screen.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

About 80 families could move into a new emergency shelter in Grand Rapids in the coming weeks.

The shelter is inside a former nursing home. The city planning commission approved the site for use as emergency housing, but only for one year.

flickr.com/jasoncartwright / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The holidays are here, and for a lot of people that means there are suddenly many, many cardboard boxes piled up around the house.

I called up someone who is way overqualified to talk about the problem. Amy Butler is head of sustainability at Michigan State University

“I use boxes a ton,” she laughs.

Butler says there are lots of creative ways to re-use the boxes in your home.

flickr.com/stankus / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

About 600 Michigan farms will be getting a survey to fill out in the coming months. The survey comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Survey questions will cover things such as farm expenses, income and assets. John Miyares works for the USDA in East Lansing, and leads the survey team.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The final rush is on to get packages delivered in Michigan before the Christmas holiday.

Suzzi Nowak delivers mail in Kentwood, a suburb south of Grand Rapids. She says most of her days this time of year start at 7 a.m. Usually, she’s done by 5 or 6.

"A day at the post office is never the same," she says. "They’re always different. It all depends on how much mail you have."

downtown Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Kent County Commissioners voted today to dissolve the county’s land bank.

Officially, the vote gives the Kent County Land Bank Authority 12 months before its intergovernmental agreement with the county expires. Some county commissioners say that gives time for the Land Bank to reorganize as its own non-profit, or to renegotiate its deal with the county.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

So here’s a fact about me that may burst a certain stereotype about public radio reporters: I don’t smoke weed.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A lot of old cop movies have a scene like this one, in Die Hard -- where the feds show up and start bossing local police around.

Out in the real world, things are more complicated. Federal law enforcement can’t always just boss local law enforcement around. And that’s a key part of a big controversy happening right now in Kent County.

The controversy is about immigration enforcement.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

More homes in Benton Harbor have tested positive for elevated levels of lead in the water.

The city was put under an advisory for its drinking water results in October.

Since then, another 27 homes out of 159 tested have shown levels of lead that are above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

Ten of those homes had levels more than double the action level.

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