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

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.


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.

WKAR File Photo

2012 is coming to a close, and the city of East Lansing is ending the year on firm footing.  Standard and Poor’s – one of America’s top bond rating agencies – has rated the city’s general obligation bonds as AA+.  Fitch Investors Service is renewing its AAA rating on those bonds. 

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery sat down with East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas to talk about the city’s financial health and to look back on some highlights from 2012.  Lahanas says the city has worked hard to strengthen its fund balance.

WKAR File Photo

For most of us, the 2012 election is fading into memory as thoughts of the holidays take over.  But for those preparing to take office, this week marks a milestone: roughly the midpoint between Election Day and Inauguration Day. 

If you’re one of the 28 new Michigan House members who’ll soon be making decisions on behalf of the roughly 2.5 million of us who live in your districts, you may want to listen to Gary Randall’s sage advice.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

The “Sense of Place” grants are meant to spur the visibility and aesthetic appeal of the Lansing area. 

The Lansing Art Gallery will receive just under $57,000 to commission up to 10 sculptures from local artists to be installed in Wentworth Park in downtown Lansing.

The Lansing Host Lions Club is working with the Potter Park Zoo to build a so-called “sensory garden” at the zoo that also includes sculptures. 

The Lansing Symphony Association will use its grant to produce a symphonic pops concert in 2013. 

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

On Tuesday, arts educators will come to Michigan State University for an annual breakfast meeting at the Wharton Center. 

Troy Hale

This week we brought you the story of Troy Hale, a filmmaker and media instructor at Michigan State University.  He built a homemade weather balloon, minus the weather equipment.  Hale worked with the National Weather Service in Pontiac to launch the balloon, which was equipped with digital cameras to record the journey.  The balloon didn’t go as high as planned, but it traveled farther. 

Unfortunately, Hale doesn’t have his sought-after video.  He told WKAR’s Kevin Lavery about what happened.

WKAR File Photo

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says he's finalizing a deal to bring some 80 green energy jobs to the city. 

Jef Richards

As a young boy growing up in the Netherlands, Troy Hale once released a balloon with his name and address attached in hopes that someone, somewhere would find it.  No one ever did.  Now, decades later, he’s trying something like that again.

Hale is now a media specialist at Michigan State University.  On Thursday, he'll launch a homemade helium balloon outfitted with several digital cameras from a weather station in Pontiac.  He hopes to send it to 100,000 feet to document the experience of going into space.

Bill Richards / WKAR

The re-election of President Barack Obama on November 6 was the finale of the most expensive election in American history.  It also ended months of thousands of  political campaign ads aired across the country. 

WKAR File Photo

There’s a steadily growing gap between the incomes of Michigan’s wealthiest and poorest families.  That’s the finding of a new report analyzing national income trends.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

A grassroots coalition in Michigan is urging Congress to resolve the impending “fiscal cliff” before the end of the year. 

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

A large crowd marched through the Capitol and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s offices today to protest the state’s policy of not issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. 

flickr/League of Women Voters of California

Democrats won or retained many Mid-Michigan political offices Tuesday, with a few exceptions.  Here's a snapshot of some key races and issues.

WKAR File Photo

Poll watchers in mid-Michigan say they expect today’s voter turnout to be about the same as the 2008 presidential election.  However, surge voters could play a large role in the outcome.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

The proposed casino project for downtown Lansing has taken a big step forward.  The city has signed a deal with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to sell a tract of land adjacent to the city’s downtown convention center.

Two local public service veterans are competing to represent Michigan's 69th district in the state House.  Democrat Sam Singh is a former East Lansing councilman and mayor.  Republican Susan McGillicuddy is a former Meridian Township trustee who's served as the township's supervisor for the last 12 years.

WKAR File Photo

For the past 14 years, Ingham County has provided low-cost health care for qualifying residents.  The Ingham Health Plan gives some 12,000 people who don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford their own insurance access to medicine and regular doctor visits every year. 

However, upcoming changes in federal health care policy mean the plan will need additional funding.  Ingham County is asking its residents to approve a three-year millage to keep the Ingham Health Plan in operation.

WKAR File Photo

On Election Day, Lansing voters will decide on the sale of 48 acres of land at the site of the former Red Cedar Golf Course.  A yes vote would move the property a step closer to commercial and environmental redevelopment.  Supporters say the site at the nexus of two cities and a major university is a key gateway in the region that must be improved.

Courtesy Michigan State University/GEL

Game designers and researchers from around the world are meeting at Michigan State University this week to talk about the concept of “meaningful play.”  MSU  is recognized as a leader in computer game development.  So-called “serious games” help players build problem solving skills, spur civic engagement and maintain their health. It’s a niche market with the potential for broad commercialization.

WKAR File Photo

Classes started two hours late Thursday in Bath Township near Lansing after district officials received a pair of bomb threats early this morning.

Courtesy The Capitol Steps

The 2012 election is just a month away, and the campaign rhetoric continues to fly.  All that talk is a rich source of material for the Capitol Steps, a group of political satirists who perform in vaudeville-style tours.  The group began in 1981, when a bunch of congressional staffers got together at a Washington D.C. Christmas party. 

The Capitol Steps will perform Thursday evening at the Wharton Center at Michigan State University.


A recent study finds some 108,000 K-12 students in Michigan have no access to arts curriculum in their schools.  The state mandates at least one credit in the arts as a requirement to graduate.

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery looks at how those who advocate for the arts and those who regulate its instruction might fill the gap.