Kevin Lavery

News Reporter and Host

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews for Current State. He's also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."

Prior to coming to WKAR in 2006, Lavery was a reporter at KWMU in St. Louis, Missouri, covering local politics, government, and biotechnology issues.

Lavery's journalism career began in the Navy. He studied journalism at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana; worked as news director and television producer for American Forces Network-Japan; and served in Antarctica as radio program director at the McMurdo Station Research Facility on Ross Island.

Ways To Connect

It’s Wednesday and time for our Neighbors in Action segment, where we feature people and organizations working to make our community a better place. The holiday season can be a rough time for those among us who don’t have enough to eat, but it’s also the time when local food banks see their largest donation volume of the year. Today we take a trip to the Greater Lansing Food Bank, which is busy trying to clear out its stock over the next couple of weeks.

http://courts.mi.gov/courts/

When 2014 comes to a close, so too will an era in Michigan’s judicial system. On New Year’s Day, Justice Michael Cavanagh will retire after 32 years on the Michigan Supreme Court. Only one other person in history has served longer on the state’s highest court, and not by much longer.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

The construction of what will become the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, continues at Michigan State University. The massive concrete floor of the underground chamber has been poured. Last week, the MSU Board of Trustees approved plans to connect a new power line from the T.B. Simon Power Plant on the south end of the main campus here in East Lansing to FRIB. It will require a substantial amount of power.

The clock is counting down on the lame duck legislature at the state Capitol. Tomorrow is the last full day of the session. Lawmakers are facing a hard deadline to reach a deal to raise more than a billion dollars each year in new revenue to fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

We’re halfway through December, and you’ve probably noticed retailers aren’t the only people competing for your cold, hard cash. ‘Tis the season for charitable organizations to ramp up their efforts to solicit donations. Most groups out there do represent worthy causes, but the holidays also tend to bring out the less-than-legitimate actors hoping to pull off the perfect scam.

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This week, the Michigan legislature has caught the ire of some municipal leaders who fear the state may be overstepping its reach into local government. One Republican sponsored bill now headed to the House floor would ban local communities from entering into negotiations with developers over wages and  so-called “community benefits.”  The measure has evoked criticism from a number of Democratic civic officials.

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For weeks, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers involved in their deaths have sparked sometimes violent protests across the country. The cases have even reached mid-Michigan.

Flickr - Carl Malamud

Last week we learned that e-commerce sales on Cyber Monday 2014 topped $2-billion. That’s up more than 15-percent over last year. Big box giant Walmart and online powerhouse Amazon saw sizeable surges in their bottom lines. But the reports are not welcome news for everyone, including traditional brick and mortar retailers in Michigan.

Flickr - West Midlands Police

The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland have re-ignited the debate over whether police officers should be made to wear body cameras to record their interactions. Some law enforcement agencies around the country have been experimenting with the technology. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is expected to announce next month that all city police will soon wear body cameras. In Ingham County, sheriff’s deputies working at the city jail are already trying them out.

Flickr - Seth Sawyers

Shortly before Thanksgiving, some rural businesses in Michigan’s Thumb region faced a difficult request. At the peak of the fall harvest, Consumers Energy asked several customers to voluntarily curtail their natural gas usage for 10 hours a day. The shutoff didn’t last long, but agri-business leaders say it highlighted an ongoing concern for the future of Michigan’s energy infrastructure.

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Michigan’s long winter months can give anyone the blues, but it’s an especially dangerous time for the homeless. Hundreds of people in mid-Michigan live on the streets, and their circumstances are diverse. In Lansing, officials are so far pleased with the results of a pilot program to move 11 people out of a makeshift camp and into permanent housing.

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The 2014 election is in the rear view mirror, but its effects will certainly echo for years to come. After the last ballot was cast, some 600 Michigan voters were asked for their opinion on a number of statewide issues.

Credit Joe Linstroth/WKAR

Mid-Michigan is already getting a taste of winter, no matter what the calendar says. As the weather turns colder, the Lansing Board of Water and Light is preparing for the possibility of power outages.

The Michigan legislature won’t be back to work until December 2, when lawmakers return for a three-week lame duck session. In the meantime, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan has been thinking about what it believes should be the state’s next major investment strategy.

Courtesy / ITEC

For many students, the sight of their school bus rolling into their neighborhood each morning conjures up a flurry of emotions, and not all of them are positive. But a new project being unveiled today in Lansing hopes to re-make the image of the bus as a key part of the educational experience. This bus is a much more modern, high-tech creation. In fact, it’s called the Tech Transport Bus.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Two months into the traditional school year, Michigan students are already thinking about Thanksgiving break. That includes students who are taking a less conventional route through their studies. Right now, more than 100 teenagers from communities across the state are participating in the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, a program sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.

Yesterday, the last patient known to have Ebola in the United States was released from a New York City hospital. Dr. Craig Spencer was infected with the virus while working in Guinea with the group Doctors Without Borders. His case contrasts with that of Kacie Hickox, the nurse from Maine who recently fought legal efforts to have her movements restricted following a stint in West Africa treating ebola patients.

Flickr - DonkeyHotey

Ninety-six years ago today, the guns fell silent across Europe, marking the armistice that ended the First World War. Veterans Day has been officially observed as a federal holiday in the United States since 1954. Here in mid-Michigan, local veterans are having their stories preserved for the future.

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Supporters of same sex marriage in Michigan were handed a major setback late yesterday. After about an eight month wait, the 6th Circuit federal appeals court reaffirmed the state’s ban on same sex marriage.

Flickr / Wystan

On this Election Day, we have a political story that has nothing to do with influencing your vote. Instead, it’s a look back at our history. The city of Jackson claims a unique place in American politics. Jackson hosted what historians say was the very first convention of the brand new Republican Party 160 years ago.

Months of campaign rhetoric come to a finale tomorrow, when  Michiganders will have their say at the polls. More than 4.7-million residents voted in the 2012 presidential election. This year’s contest is almost sure to draw fewer voters than two years ago.

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Orange and yellow are the colors of the season across mid-Michigan, as the fall harvest continues. After a bone-chilling winter, many areas of the Lower Peninsula saw a cooler and wetter summer than usual. Some farmers are racing the clock to harvest corn and soybeans and plant winter wheat.

http://msutoday.msu.edu/

Fall on Michigan’s waterways means it’s time for the salmon to spawn. Salmon can be found in many places, including the Red Cedar River and the Grand River.

WKAR-Kevin Lavery

The trees are starting to look very stark in Michigan these days as autumn digs in. Many “snowbirds” are thinking about escaping to more pleasant climates, including a team of young engineers from rural Stockbridge in Ingham County. Stockbridge High School has a robotics team which for the past three years has traveled to the tropical island of Palau to use their machines to search for lost history.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Unintentional drug overdoses in Michigan have quadrupled in the past decade. Much of that has been driven by an increase in opiate usage, including heroin. Many addicts start out hooked on prescription medication, but move to heroin because it is cheaper and more readily available. The problem touches an untold number of victims and their families.  Earlier this week, area leaders gathered at Michigan State University to address the growing problem.

Flickr - NIAID

Lansing area leaders in health, government and transportation are taking what they call “comprehensive steps” to prepare for Ebola. Yesterday, officials representing the Ingham County Health Department, Sparrow and McLaren Health Systems, the city of Lansing and others briefed the media on what contingency plans they’ve been making.

https://www.modernwhig.org

Election Day is now just two weeks off. Democrats and Republicans in Michigan and across the country are rallying their bases in a final push to get out the vote. Some voters, though, lean towards other political persuasions. There are a handful of smaller parties out there, like the Green Party and the Libertarians. One such party is blowing the dust off an old 19th century name and re-booting for a 21st century world.

Flickr - Bart Everson

Education officials in Michigan are crunching the numbers this month, following the statewide student “Count Day” back on October 1. The bi-annual count determines the state’s per pupil funding allocation. Obviously, it’s in every school district’s best interest to turn out as many students as possible on that single day. But teachers and administrators across the state continue to struggle to fund mandatory programs. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of rhetoric on the campaign trail about school funding. But what story does the data show?

WKAR

Current State bids a reluctant but fond farewell today to the founding producer of our program. Joe Linstroth returns to his Ann Arbor alma mater as he leaves WKAR for a position at the University of Michigan's public radio station.

Tonight, candidates for three state House and two state Senate districts will meet in Lansing for a candidates’ forum. These public events are fairly routine in the weeks leading up to a big election, but this one puts a twist on the usual format. Current State’s Kevin Lavery reports that the candidates who’ll face this group of questioners will not be getting their vote on November 4. This forum will be run by middle and high school students from grades 7 through 12.

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