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

Flickr - BobboSphere

Last week, as much as 1,600 gallons of oil spilled into Lake Michigan from the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, 20 miles from Chicago. After a week-long cleanup, authorities say they have found no further trace of spilled oil in the area. However, the political ramifications of the spill are likely to remain long after this incident. The BP refinery processes oil from tar sands found in Canada. Tar sands contain a thick petroleum that’s gaining popularity as a new energy source. New technology is making it easier to mine tar sands, but some worry that could increase the likelihood of more spills like the one last week.

Flickr - Steve Petrucelli


Last December, some high tech grinches tried to steal Christmas for one major retailer. Computer hackers broke into the Target Corporation mainframe and downloaded some 40-million credit card numbers.  The breach was executed despite the fact that Target had installed malware detection software months before.

Courtesy of frib.msu.edu

This is a big day at Michigan State University for one of the biggest projects in mid-Michigan. A host of dignitaries are formally breaking ground at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, commonly known as FRIB.

Fickr - cseeman

The mercury is slowing climbing and Thursday marks the first day of spring. As the snow fades away it’s time to be aware of the dangers of flooding. High water can be a dangerous scenario for drivers on the roads and also for anyone in low-lying areas. First responders are getting ready for those potential hazards.

Flickr - mwlguide

It’s hard to tell with all the new snow, but we’re three weeks away from  the “Crosstown Showdown” home opener between the Lansing Lugnuts and the MSU Spartans. Yesterday, Lugnuts owner Tom Dickson and city leaders announced plans for a $22-million development at Cooley Law School Stadium.

Flickr - agrillifetoday


Fourteen months ago, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation eliminating the state personal property tax levied on business equipment. The move was heralded as welcome change by business owners who said the tax put them at a competitive disadvantage and inhibited job growth. However, local governments are worried about how they will replace the revenue that kept their vital services running. Now, a series of bills introduced this week in the Michigan Senate seeks to preserve that funding.

Flickr - Melvin_Es

A federal judge in Detroit will hear opening arguments today on a case that could potentially overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. In 2012, two lesbian nurses sued Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette. The couple is raising three special needs children, but they cannot legally adopt them unless they are married.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

The financial health team commissioned by Lansing mayor Virg Bernero to come up with cost-cutting measures is preparing to release its final plan. 

The team is outlining broad changes to the city’s pension and retiree health care systems.  One recommendation would be for the city to transfer pension management to the Michigan Employees’ Retirement System, which could save the city an estimated $700,000 annually. 

Team member Eric Scorsone says Lansing’s biggest challenge is tackling $450 million worth of unfunded employee legacy costs.

WKAR File Photo

The Michigan Nurses Association is supporting legislation that would require minimum nurse to patient staffing ratios.  Nurses say the measure will save lives and help avoid costly mistakes.

The Safe Patient Care Act would require a one-to-one nurse to patient ratio in critical care and surgical units, one to three for non-trauma units and one to four in pediatrics.  Supporters say hospitals often purposely fail to meet adequate staffing levels to save money, instead imposing mandatory overtime on their nurses.  

WKAR File Photo

Barring an act of Congress today, big cuts to a host of federal programs will take effect at midnight.  In Michigan, public interest groups are  describing how large a hit the state might take.

Courtesy Michigan State University Press

Forty years ago, 200 members of the American Indian Movement took over the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota.  The group was protesting the federal government’s failure to honor various treaties with native tribes.  The location was symbolic.  In 1890, as many as 300 Lakota Indians were killed at Wounded Knee by the U.S. Army.  The standoff lasted 73 days, and claimed three lives.

WKAR file photo

Tomorrow, East Lansing voters will decide on a school bond issue to upgrade outdated equipment.  Officials say hundreds of phones, computers, cameras and clocks in the city’s schools are becoming obsolete.  The district is asking residents to approve a millage that would not exceed 1.26 mils over the next five years. The measure would raise more than $5 million for the upgrade.  

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery visited East Lansing High School to talk with the district’s director of technology, Christian Palasty, who says there’s a sizable amount of equipment to replace.

WKAR File Photo

Tomorrow, East Lansing voters will decide on a school bond issue to upgrade outdated equipment.  Officials say hundreds of phones, computers, cameras and clocks in the city’s schools are becoming obsolete.  The district is asking residents to approve a millage that would not exceed 1.26 mils over the next five years. The measure would raise more than $5 million for the upgrade.  

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery visited East Lansing High School to talk with the district’s director of technology, Christian Palasty, who says there’s a sizable amount of equipment to replace.

Michigan House Democrats

Mason Democrat Tom Cochran prevailed in the 67th State House District race last November.  In his freshman term, the former Lansing fire chief sits on the House Transportation and the Insurance committee.

He shares his thoughts on state's road funding, the leadership of Michigan Democrats, and getting acclimated to the state capitol.

Matthew Mitchell/MSU Athletics

MSU ran over Michigan last week thanks, in part, to a rocking home crowd. Some said it was the loudest they’d heard the Breslin Center in a long time.  When the #4 Spartans take on the #1 Hoosiers tonight, the place should be roaring again with help from the student frenzy that is The Izzone.  

Current State’s Kevin Lavery checks out what gives the Spartan’s such a home court advantage.

Courtesy of Spartans Will. 360

A team of video storytellers from Michigan State University is wrapping up a two-month journey around the world.  The crew is documenting the work of MSU researchers in countries such as China, Brazil and Malawi as they tackle challenges ranging from malnutrition and disease to human organ trafficking.  The project is called “Spartans Will. 360.”  

Current State’s Kevin Lavery catches up with team leader Jim Peck by phone in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Kurt Stepnitz / MSU Office of Communication and Brand Strategy

A team of video storytellers from Michigan State University is wrapping up a two-month journey around the world.  The crew is documenting the work of MSU researchers in countries such as China, Brazil and Malawi as they tackle challenges ranging from malnutrition and disease to human organ trafficking.  The project is called Spartans Will.360.  

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery caught up with team leader Jim Peck by phone in Dhaka, Bangladesh a few days ago to learn more.

WKAR File Photo

The Michigan Public Service Commission is holding a series of public forums around the state to gather input on Michigan’s future energy policy.  Lansing was the first stop on that tour. 

The public service commission regulates the state’s utilities.  It wants to hear the public’s suggestions and concerns about the direction of Michigan’s energy policy.  The commission says its main focus areas are renewables, energy efficiency and electric power choice. 

More than 400 Michigan farmers had a chance to meet with state legislators this week to talk about their priorities for 2013.  The Michigan Farm Bureau has outlined three main focus areas for its agenda: access to markets, workforce development, and regulatory reform. 

Courtesy Brandon Howell / MLive Media Group

The Lansing City Council has approved putting the former Waverly golf course up for sale.  The focus now moves to how the city and Lansing Township will work together on any future redevelopment. 

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero closed the Waverly golf course in 2007 during a tight budget crunch.  The city of Lansing owns the site, but it's physically located in Lansing Township.  Lansing city councilman Brian Jeffries says once the property is sold, the city would receive a one- time lump sum.  However, he's interested in talking with the township about a so-called "425 agreement."

Courtesy MSU Museum

Long before movies were invented, people living in the 19th century were fascinated with a simple device that brought photographs to life.  The stereoscope allowed two images to be viewed as one three-dimensional portrait.  Photos from that era depicted nearly every aspect of life, from the familiar to the exotic.

On Sunday, the MSU Museum opens an exhibit that pays tribute to stereoscopes and the world of 3-D technology.  Many of the items were part of the personal collection of the late Val Berryman, a beloved museum curator who passed away in January. 

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced a series of new initiatives to help Michigan's nearly 700,000 military veterans today.  

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

Environmental advocates are calling on Michigan State University to properly dispose of large deposits of coal ash buried for years beneath the campus.

The group Clean Energy Now says tons of residual toxic ash produced by MSU’s coal-fired power plant were found during a 2007 excavation.  Some ash was sent to a landfill, but the group asserts more than 90,000 cubic yards of ash were improperly relocated on university property. 

Clean Energy Now’s Nick Clark says buried coal ash poses an immediate public health hazard.

Today on Current State, a discussion about no-fault auto insurance reform, the historic Hill Auditorium at U-M turns 100, a play about Lansing's Urbandale neighborhood and a chat with concert pianist Paul Barnes.

Governor Rick Snyder and other Republicans are calling for reforms to the state's landmark auto no fault insurance law.  They claim the law, which provides for unlimited lifetime medical benefits, often from brain and spinal cord injuries, has led to excessive rates for Michigan drivers.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

On Monday, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero portrayed, in his words, a city “powered up” for the year ahead.  For his annual State of the City address, Bernero chose a refurbished railroad depot in the shadow of the city’s rising co-generation power plant which will come online this summer. 

But while Bernero acknowledged Lansing’s financial challenges, he steered clear of details.

WKAR File Photo

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will deliver his eighth State of the City address Monday night.

Bernero will speak at the historic Grand Trunk Western Railroad train depot, a century-old landmark that’s undergoing a major refurbishment by the Lansing Board of Water and Light.  The mayor will tout the progress of the co-generation power plant that’s rising to life nearby in Lansing’s REO Town neighborhood, as well as other successes.  

While Bernero says the city’s outlook is good, he faces a $9 million budget deficit that he says he’s confident he can rein in.

Courtesy State of Michigan

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivered his third State of the State address before state lawmakers at the Capitol Wednesday evening.

flickr/pamhule

Immigrant families in mid-Michigan are supporting a new national campaign pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

The campaign includes a reform provision that would allow deported immigrants to be reunited with their families in the U.S.  Advocates say that’s a key part of creating a path to citizenship.  Maximo Anguiano with Action of Greater Lansing says it’s time to bring the undocumented into American society.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

A coalition of mayors, law enforcement officials and faith leaders is demanding Congress enact three specific gun control measures. 

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero and Flint mayor Dayne Walling are part of a national campaign to end gun violence.  They want Congress to require criminal background checks for all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and a federal ban on gun trafficking.  Mayor Walling says Flint has seen the counter argument to the assertion that guns don’t kill.

WKAR File Photo

Twenty-eight new state lawmakers have been sworn in as members of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Among the Lansing-area lawmakers of the 2013 freshman class are Democrats Tom Cochran, Andy Schor, Sam Singh and Teresa Abed.  Republican Tom Leonard represents part of Clinton and Gratiot counties. 

Cochran says he’s optimistic about the coming session.

Pages