West Michigan

Report: Waste from coal-fired plants threatens Michigan water safety

BY: - May 18, 2021

Michigan’s coal-fired power plants are annually generating more than 1 million tons of waste that’s laden with lead, mercury and arsenic and poses significant dangers to the health of residents and the state’s groundwater and surface water, the Michigan Environmental Council said in a new report released Tuesday morning.  “The storage of coal ash in […]


The silent majority: As Michigan begins to emerge from the pandemic after more than a year, those who followed the rules now speak out

BY: - May 15, 2021

These are the days of fragile hope. These days, when the vaccines are here and COVID cases skyrocketed last month but are falling, we talk about our coming returns: to offices we left long ago, to schools, to restaurants and friends’ houses and parents’ dining room tables. We think of hugging those we’ve known only […]

200+ federal workers coming to help Michigan with COVID vaccinations

BY: - April 23, 2021

More than 200 federal personnel are headed to the state to assist at three mass COVID-19 vaccination sites: DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, as well as Ford Field and TCF Center in Detroit. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had asked for more federal help in immunizations.  “We appreciate the support from our federal partners, especially adding additional […]

‘This could set women back generations’

BY: - April 7, 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic began driving women from their jobs en masse a little more than one year ago, West Michigan Works employees were ready to help them return to the labor force. But they’re not returning. “Women are actually dropping out of the workforce; it’s not just an issue of they’re looking for work […]


Column: What Michigan’s response to the 1918 flu epidemic can teach us about the COVID pandemic

BY: - April 5, 2021

On Jan. 11, 2021, nine officials from Baraga County in the Upper Peninsula signed a letter stating that they would not enforce restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.  This letter arrived as Michigan had just confirmed nearly 520,000 cases and roughly 13,000 deaths. Those numbers have risen to more than 692,000 cases and […]

West Michigan Republican faces resignation calls over social media posts, allies say he’s ‘no racist’

BY: - March 31, 2021

Updated, 2:47 p.m., 4/6/21 For at least the third time this year, Republican Muskegon County Commissioner Zach Lahring is facing calls for his resignation — and this time it’s from groups and residents who say he has a history of social media posts that are racist, transphobic and ableist.  Lahring, who also is the chair […]

Watchdog: DeVos made at least $225M during time as education secretary

BY: - March 23, 2021

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a West Michigan native, made at least $225 million in outside income during her time serving in the Trump administration. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on government transparency, found in an analysis of DeVos’s financial disclosures that DeVos, Trump’s wealthiest cabinet members, […]

How the pandemic hit students in Michigan’s most disadvantaged schools hardest

BY: - March 6, 2021

Michigan has over 800 school districts that all individually felt the pain of COVID-19, but the state’s Partnership schools and districts were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.  Under the former Gov. Rick Snyder administration in 2017, the state formed the Michigan Partnership Model to improve the state’s lowest-performing public and charter schools and […]

8 chambers of commerce form group to end COVID business restrictions

BY: - March 5, 2021

A statewide economic coalition led by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has formed to urge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration to fully reopen Michigan businesses during the COVID pandemic, the groups announced Thursday. As of Thursday, there are a total of 593,279 COVID-19 cases recorded and 15,600 deaths in Michigan. The coalition cites declines in new […]

How the anti-COVID vaccine movement mobilized in Michigan before anyone ever got their first shot 

BY: - March 2, 2021

Not long after the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Michigan almost exactly one year ago, so did those opposed to any future vaccine.  Buoyed by decades of an anti-vaccination movement, in Michigan and across the country, anti-vaccination activists were determined to cast doubt on a COVID-19 vaccine not yet created. They combined sharing longtime […]


Rick Haglund: More companies recognize the value of diversity and inclusion. Lee Chatfield found that out the hard way.

BY: - February 27, 2021

Lee Chatfield did more to advance the cause of diversity, inclusion and equity in Michigan workplaces in the past two weeks than he did in six years as a state lawmaker. Chatfield resigned Monday as CEO of Southwest Michigan First, a Kalamazoo-based economic development agency, as controversy raged over his anti-LGBTQ record.  The former GOP […]


Susan J. Demas: A GOP firebrand put economics before his values. That’s been the story of the pandemic.

BY: - February 24, 2021

It was somewhat surprising when news broke a couple weeks ago that Southwest Michigan First was tapping former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) as its new CEO. Chatfield had a controversial record during his two years running the lower chamber, including jetting off with GOP leaders for a November White House confab with then-President […]