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.

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she hopes Michigan will allow public money to be spent on tuition for private schools in the “foreseeable future.”

DeVos and her family have supported school voucher programs in the state for years. But voters rejected the idea in 2000.

DeVos raised the issue Monday while speaking at the Education Writers Association conference in Baltimore.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people marched peacefully across the state on Wednesday, calling for the state to issue driver’s licenses to people regardless of their immigration status. People marched in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Sergio Cira was one of the organizers of the Grand Rapids march. He says undocumented immigrants are held back from contributing to the community when they can’t get a driver’s license.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Immigrant’s rights marches are planned for Wednesday in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.

Demonstrators are calling for the state to issue driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. The annual marches have drawn thousands of people into the streets in years past.

This year, the city of Grand Rapids is threatening arrests if demonstrators block traffic as they have in previous years.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Plans for an enhanced barrier to try to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes might have just taken a crucial step forward.

The plan would fortify the existing Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill. to attempt to block carp from getting to Lake Michigan.

The project just got a signoff from the Illinois governor to go into a pre-construction and design phase.

Molly Flanagan is with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She says it’s a big project, but it’s an essential one to keep invasive Asian carp out of the lakes.

courtesy Movimiento Cosecha GR

Two years ago, we shared with you the story of a young immigrant in Grand Rapids.

Brandon Reyes is part of a generation of immigrants known as dreamers, who arrived in the United States as children.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

People started gathering more than an hour before the meeting.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids police department doesn’t need more officers. It needs more civilian staff and better organization.

That’s the conclusion from a new study commissioned by the city.

The city paid about $100,000 for the study, which was done by the consulting firm Hillard Heintze.

Debra Kirby of Hillard Heintze presented the results to city commissioners on Tuesday. She said the city’s police department cut back on civilian staff when the economy was bad.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - agents
U.S. Air Force

Local law enforcement would be required to cooperate with federal immigration officers, under a pair of bills that moved forward in Lansing Tuesday.

A number of people spoke out against the bills at a hearing of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee. 

One of them was Maria Salazar. She told lawmakers if the bill becomes law, she’s afraid it will lead to more racial profiling and discrimination by police.

“I’m a U.S. citizen but I am afraid of them,” she told the lawmakers. “My kids are US citizens and they are afraid of the police officers.”

NOAA

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is starting spring work on maintaining the state’s fish population.

The DNR says it expects to collect about 30 million eggs from walleye in the Muskegon River in the coming weeks. The state also collects eggs from steelhead on the Little Manistee River.

Photo submitted by Joshua Mango

Applications are opening up for summer jobs across Michigan.

One of the state’s larger summer jobs programs is in Detroit.

Jason Lee is head of the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program. He says a few years ago, the program served about 2,000 young people in the city.

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

Michigan asparagus farmers hope to see higher prices before the crop is harvested later this spring.

Asparagus prices have been affected by imports of the vegetable in recent years.

“Right now we’re just watching the market,” says John Bakker of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board. “Who knows, the market could be super by the time that we get into the harvest in May, but we don’t know at this time.”

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.

Picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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.

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