Author Archives: Amy Robinson

About Amy Robinson

I enjoy being an observer and reporter of issues related to education, the environment, the economy, (sometimes) politics and (always) human behavior, and I believe that nobody does news better than NPR.

Congressional hearings on 2018 farm bill planned this weekend in Michigan.

It’s months away, but members of congress are already taking input on the new farm bill, due in 2018.

The Senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is in Michigan tomorrow (Friday) to tour conservation projects in the Bay City / Saginaw area.

And then on Saturday (tomorrow) the committee will hold a hearing in Frankenmuth on the farm bill. Continue reading

CMU launches Diversity and Inclusion Task Force

Central Michigan University recently announced a new task force on campus, focused on Diversity and Inclusion.

Amy Robinson spoke with CMU President Dr. George Ross about the group and its importance to the campus community.

(Dr. Ross) As the title implies it’s about diversity and inclusion. I’m referring to it as a task force because I wanted to be action oriented. and we’ll get them to work this semester and I imagine the work will carry over into fall semester as we move forward. But we really want to evaluate the recommendations not only about this last study that we had but there were some previous work done around campus and previous recommendations and I want to put them all together on the table and examine what we’re currently doing versus what the recommendations are and see how we proceed. It’s important. Diversity is important to our campus and to our community, inclusion is important. I’m fully supportive

(AR) Give us a sense for some of the specific areas they may be looking at

(Dr Ross) Recommendations center around a diversity and inclusion strategic plan. There are recommendations around curriculum and I think there are thirteen major recommendations from the last study, and that’s your starting point. Like I said there are other studies previous to this last one and I want all those ideas and thoughts considered.

(AR) When we look at issues involving inclusivity and equality, this kind of effort reaches beyond the campus, You also are including in the Mount Pleasant community
(Dr Ross) Of course, this is where we live we kind of grew up with Mt Pleasant. I think we’re about the same age the city and the university. But it does include the community in which we live and that’s Mt Pleasant, Isabella county, surrounding counties and townships. We’re not an island we’re part of this community and it will include and does include the total community.

Click here for information on CMU’s Diversity and Inclusion services:

CMU discusses hazing complaint

A number of departments at Central Michigan University are looking into allegations of hazing. One student went to the hospital after, he says, people at the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity smeared peanut butter on his face while he was passed out. He’s allergic to peanuts. The incident occurred in October. It was finally reported this week.

University officials they’ve reached out to the – now former- student and his family. Officials say the fraternity where the incident occurred is not a CMU frat. The group was removed from campus in 2011, and has not been allowed back in, despite making requests.

Damon Brown is Director of the Office of Student Activities at CMU. He says when a fraternity is removed from campus, it can become a problem, “We do not like having groups off campus not be recognized, that’s a bad recipe. And if you look at most institutions across the country, any institution will say that’s a bad thing, because there is no control at that point in time.”

Brown says CMU will investigate the alleged hazing incident, even though it occurred off campus at an recognized group because it involved one or more students.
The university lists unrecognized fraternities on its website, you can view the page here

CMU Board of Trustees sells PBS station in Flint for $14 million

WCMZ Tower Courtesy Mark Brown

WCMZ Tower
Courtesy Mark Brown

Central Michigan University announced today that it has sold its television station in Flint as part of the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction. The station, which was purchased by CMU in 2009 for $1 million, sold for $14 million.

University President Dr. George Ross said, “This was a difficult decision. Two facts, however, greatly influenced our conversation. First, nearly all viewers will continue to have access to PBS through other sources. If that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t have participated in the auction. Second, our students are our core mission. Our mandate. We must focus our resources on their success. This decision was made to benefit Michigan families, including those in Flint.”

Additionally, Ross said said the Board of Trustees will discuss and determine how the auction revenue will be invested.

The station was sold in a historic auction conducted by the Federal Communications Commission to  gain spectrum for the nation’s mobile wireless companies.

CMU will continue to operate 8 radio stations and 4 TV stations throughout central and northern Michigan.

CMU invests more than $3 million a year in its public broadcasting system


Michigan racism expert weighs in on national election

Dr David Pilgrim. Photo courtesy Ferris State University

Dr David Pilgrim.
Photo courtesy Ferris State University


Since the election of Donald Trump, advocacy groups say there has been an increase in intimidation and aggression against minorities and women. 

Dr David Pilgrim is the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University.   It’s a collection of five-thousand racist artifacts, Some from years ago. Some from yesterday.   Dr Pilgrim says he’s processing Trump’s win. Continue reading

Saginaw Chippewa tribal members travel to support North Dakota pipeline protesters

Courtesy NPR

Courtesy NPR

Over the last few weeks, protests near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota have gained national attention. Native Americans from around the country have gathered to block construction of an oil pipeline they say would disturb sacred lands and burial grounds.

Members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in central Michigan were among those who joined the protest.  Autumn (Ellie) Mitchell was a member of the group who traveled to North Dakota earlier this month. She spoke with Amy  Robinson

(Mitchell) I could see history happening and this gathering of tribes and I just I just felt the need to go. I didn’t even question it was just I was going to go.

(Robinson) Explain why this is important to the culture

(MItchell) Because water is life. That is the motto of the camp and there’s potential disaster from oil spills and this pipeline is going to, I mean it could affect the Missouri River and many many people drink from the Missouri River, that flows into the Mississippi. That is a big issue and you know water’s a big issue for all people

Anishinaabe believe women are the keepers of the water and protectors of the water. So it was just important to be there into standing in unity with other tribes, other nations.

(Robinson) What was the feeling being in that group of people

(MItchell) When we walked in the camp, I felt like we had gone back in time and we were in the village before the reservation era like it was amazing feeling. If you had actually you brought it up to the donation tent and if you needed something you went up there and got it. I was helping sort clothes for part of the afternoon and people were coming up who had come with nothing but the clothes on their back and we were just helping them find shirts and shoes and socks and doing what we could. I mean I grew up on the reservation in a tribe, I have a pretty strong sense of community, but that was intense even for me.

(Robinson) How much good do you think it’s doing to have this group of people and, not only of course the core group, but so many coming from outside to to support?

(Mitchell) This action, I think it’s really good for Indian country  That we’re putting aside our tribal affiliations and coming together and having this peaceful, prayerful there was so much ceremony going on there and it felt so sacred. I think it’s a good experience for youth especially with all the struggles that we have that they can see that in that unity.

(Robinson) And so we have another chapter in American history of a group of determined, united people trying to protest actions of a large corporation. You know how do you think it’s going to end?

(Mitchell) I hope it ends in favor of the people. When I was there I heard that those who started the protests and started the camp saw, the spirits told them when they had ceremonies, that if they stayed peaceful they would win.

(Robinson) Do you have plans to go back, or hopes to go back?

(Mitchell) I would like to go back, but I think I can do more for the cause staying at home and supporting the people who are out there. Making donations and getting the word out and trying to help with the larger issue that is environmental issues and dependence on oil and tribal sovereignty.

(Robinson ) This also has really put Native Americans in the native culture on the national stage.

(Mitchell) I think it’s it’s good for people to see us as still existing and still being here and still being active and not living in the past or living in the modern stereotypes of alcoholics with no jobs. That’s not who we are.

(Robinson ) What kind of movement is there locally to support this larger effort?

(Mitchell) One of the men who traveled with us is going back and we’ve been trying to send him with supplies. They’re digging in for a winter and need cold weather gear.


Television broadcasters could cease operations in exchange for millions of dollars

CMU Public Broadcasting's broadcast tower in Mt. Pleasant.

CMU Public Broadcasting’s transmitter tower in Mt. Pleasant.

Beginning sometime next year, you may have to find your favorite over the air TV station on a different channel.

The Federal Communications Commission is holding an auction this spring to sell bandwidth on the TV spectrum to cell phone companies. Continue reading

Emmet county attorney charged with embezzling from elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease

An Emmet County attorney has been charged with two 20-year felony embezzlement charges for allegedly stealing money from a client who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Law enforcement officials say 67-year old Michael Kennedy of Petoskey illegally transferred money out of the victim’s account, beginning in 2006.  However the statute of limitations only allows charges going back to 2009. Continue reading

On the Map examines the European history of Sault Ste. Marie

SSM MI MapThe European history of the Sault starts in the sixteen-hundreds, when explorers arrived. 



Bernie Arbic is a long time resident of Sault Ste. Marie Michigan. We talked Sault history on the deck behind his home. He said an under-appreciated bit of history is the French influence. “The first European to be in this area, was a Frenchman, Etienne Brule, he was here, I give the date 1620 just because that’s such an iconic date in our history, give or take a couple years maybe, 1618, 1622, sometime this young Frenchman was this far in the interior.”

To give you a perspective on how early that was… ”This area was known to the French almost 50 years before they knew anything about the Detroit River,” Arbic said. “We tend to think everything comes from the south, I like to say the first man to visit Detroit made his travel arrangements with an agent here in Sault Ste Marie, ‘cause we do pre date Detroit by about 50 years in terms of the European knowledge of geography.”

Arbic said when the French discovered Sault Ste Marie, they were searching for the Northwest Passage. Because of the rapids, they had to stop. Since they were fur traders, they set up a trading post. They interacted with Native people, and then, as the story often goes, they tried to ‘save’ them.”First mission was established here in 1668 by Father Marquette, that’s, he’s perhaps the best known of the french explorers.”

Sault Ste Marie survived on the fur trade for many years. Then in the 1800’s the city took leaps forward. In 1822, Fort Brady was built.  Thirty years later, one of the Sault’s most famous attractions appeared. Although, Arbic said, the Soo locks of the mid-1800’s looked and operated differently than the ones tourists visit today. ” The first lock opened in 1855, and it was really, it was built by the state of Michigan, they charged tolls, uh, it was what’s called a tandem, a pair of locks really, now a days, ever since 1881, the locks is a single chamber, with a 20 ft lift, the first looks were two in tandem, with 10 ft lifts.”

But, Arbic said, the building boom of the 1800’s wasn’t done yet. in 1888, the railroad was built.  And that brought in tourists.”In the late 1800s folks that would run people down the rapids in a canoe. For some reason it seems to be mostly women that wanted to do it, that’s kind of interesting it, wearing hats and stuff, and here they are shooting the rapids with these two Native American river guides, taking them down the rapids, so, there were, there were those things; fishing and shooting the rapids.”

Sault Ste Marie had one more use for it’s precious river. In 1898, construction began on a hydroelectric power plant. Think of it as a sort of farewell to the 19th century. Work was completed in 1902, and the city began harnessing the power of the St Mary’s to light homes and businesses. Even today the plant produces power. 

Some of the notable industries in the Sault included Union Carbide and Northwestern Leather; both major employers for half a century. Fort Bradley was decommissioned; the property is now home to Lake Superior State University. In 1962 the International Bridge opened, linking Sault Ste Marie Michigan with its Ontario sister-city. 

Time has changed the city, but the river has provided consistency.  It is Sault Ste Marie’s past, present and undoubtedly it’s future. Continue reading

On the Map explores Sault Ste. Marie Native history

SSM Chippewa logoThe old adage says ‘history is written by the winners’. In this story, we’re going to let it be written by the survivors. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan was one of the first white settlements in the state.  But for centuries before, it was home to Native American tribes.  

When the French voyagers arrived, the ensuing culture clash devastated native peoples.  Continue reading

AMBER ALERT for missing Alpena boy

Missing child Keegan Elijah Waterman, and the suspect in his disappearance, Christina Marie Waterman.

Missing child Keegan Elijah Waterman, and the suspect in his disappearance, Christina Marie Waterman.

Police have issued an Amber Alert for 3-year old Keegan Elijah Waterman. He’s 4’3″ tall, 55 lbs, last seen wearing a diaper and sandals. He was last seen today at 2660 East Grant Street, Alpena, MI.

Keegan may be en route to Tennessee with his mother Christina MArie Waterman. They may be traveling in a 2000 tan Chevy Tahoe with Tennessee license plate; U4758V.

If you see Keegan, or Christina Marie Waterman, you’re asked to call 911 or contact the Alpena State Police post at 989-354-4101

Keeping pets safe and secure over the holiday weekend

4th - keep pets calmWhether your Independence Day celebrations will take place at home, on a beach or in a park. The busyness – and noise – of the weekend can be unsettling for pets.

Some organizations say more pets are lost during the Fourth of July period than any other time of year.

Jason is a Dispatch Supervisor with the Grand Traverse 911 Dispatch. He said it’s good to take basic precautions.
“Keep an eye on the pets. If you’re going to be distracted by a bunch of people coming to visit you, make sure they either in a fenced yard or on a leash or in a house. Somewhere where they’re not going to be able to run free when you look in the other direction”.

4th - pets infographic

Trout Trails web tool helps anglers find new fishing destinations

If you don’t have a fishing buddy for the holiday weekend, the Department of Natural Resources says it’s got you covered. The state has released a new web tool to help anglers find just the right river or lake to fish for trout.

Trout Trails is a web-based map that gives information on waters that fisheries biologists say are good for trout. Some of the sites, the DNR says, are lesser- known, but outstanding trout fishing destinations.

Suzanne Stone is with the DNR Fisheries Division.

She said the web site is intended to make anglers feel like they’re going fishing with an old fishing buddy. A buddy who has a lot of information about the area, “Like how fast the water was, was it a stream or river, what was the best time to fish in any certain lake or the season, and then provide directions to the site, both written as well as a link that would take them to Google Maps”.

Stone said Trout Trails provides information on 129 trout destinations.

Trout Trails

Film screening tells the story of a woman who rescues children from Nepalese prisons

Pushpa Basnet

At public radio, we love good stories. When we heard about Pushpa Basnet (push-pah bas-net) we knew we had to share her story.

Basnet is a Napalese woman who – for hundreds of children – has become Mamu.

Waiting for Mamu – 1 It’s a slang term for mother. It’s like another mother. It’s not your real mother, not your biological mother, all the kids call her Mamu.

That’s Thomas Morgan, a CMU graduate and documentary film maker who has created the film “Waiting for Mamu” It tells the story of how Basnet rescues children from prisons in Nepal.

Thomas Morgan said he was blown away when he met Pushpa Basnet. What the young woman, now 30-years old, dedicated her life to is saving children from prison.

Morgan said in Nepal, if a parent is sentenced to prison, the children often go to prison with them. “It’s not that the government is trying to be punitive in dealing with these children, or in some way trying to imprison children, It’s just such a ridiculously poor country that they don’t have any social services. There’s no place else for them to go. It’s the street by themselves or it’s with the parents in prison. And so That’s the best option they have.”

Waiting for Mamu - photo2

Morgan said Basnet met a little girl in prison when she was there for a social work class. She promised the girl she’d come back for her. She did that and then some. Today Basnet cares for more than 40 children. Kids that she rescued from Nepalese prisons. “Her life would be a lot easier if she didn’t do this,” Morgan said. “She comes from a caste that’s not supposed to serve a lower caste, and so that, in and of itself, was one hurdle. And then to be a strong woman in Nepal is not something that’s typical. It’s usually very much a male-dominated society, and so she’s really amazing and to think that she’s just 30 and has been doing this for ten-years, it’s just incredible.”

With the help of supporters, Morgan said, Basnet finally raised enough money to build a care facility for her kids. A complex where they can live.It’s called the Butterfly House. But as the house was nearing completion, it was badly damaged by an earthquake that devastated Nepal in April. Basnet and her kids moved into tents in a field.

Morgan said the Butterfly house will be rebuilt.

“The house itself will actually be better. Because of the earthquake, they’ve gone back in and we were able to bring in earthquake engineers from the US embassy in Nepal and have them look at it and make suggestions, and now they’re going back and re-inforcing. It will be safer than any building standard that they’ve had in the past and will actually be better when it’s completed.”

Morgan describes Pushpa Basnet as an inspirational force of nature. She was named CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2013. Morgan said in the past decade Basnet has helped more than 200 kids. Today 100 are still in prison with their parents, Waiting for Mamu.

A screening of the documentary “Waiting for Mamu” is scheduled Wednesday night at 7pm in the Park Library Auditorium on the campus of CMU. It is free and open to the public.