Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

Dustin Dwyer

Last week, we ran a series of stories about a gun battle in Muskegon, and how some rising crime trends are affecting neighborhoods in the city.

And there’s one part of that story we didn’t get to last week.

It’s the role of police in trying to solve the city’s crime problem. Here, then, is a follow-up. 

Jim and Shannon Ridge have two kids who were nearby when a gun fight broke out on Monroe Avenue in Muskegon last month.

Gun battles don’t happen a lot in their neighborhood.

But other crimes do.

Shannon Ridge says drug dealing happens in the open.

"And if you’re standing outside, like, on the weekend, Friday night, you’re just standing out with the kids, they’ll be standing right here at the corner, 'I got narcos for sale, I got narcos for sale!'" Ridge says.

Dustin Dwyer

This is the final story in our three-part series on a street gun battle in Muskegon last month that put children’s lives at risk.

Part one of the series is here. Part two is here

For today's story, we broaden our view, to look at the dramatic rise of gun crimes across several neighborhoods in Muskegon, and what’s being done to stop it.

Muskegon is not the most violent city in Michigan. Statistically, that would be Flint or Saginaw or Detroit.

But Muskegon is a relatively small city – only about 38,000 people – and much of the crime is centered in just a few neighborhoods.

So people who live in those neighborhoods actually experience a much worse rate of crime. Pick a random person off the street, and they’ll know someone who’s been affected by gun violence.

Dustin Dwyer

Today we continue our story about a gun fight in Muskegon that put children’s lives at risk, and the one woman who ran into the gunfire to save the kids.

The woman’s name is Carmesha Rogers. As she rushed the kids to safety, a bullet struck her in the head.

Part one of our story is here

I met Carmesha Rogers as she recovered in her room at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon. She was surrounded by humming medical equipment and cellophane balloons. She was hooked up to tubes, but she was able to sit up in a chair to talk.

This was less than a month after a bullet hit her in the head, and  passed through her brain.

I asked how she was feeling. 

"Kinda tired now," she said. "But I’m all right."

She could walk, she could talk.

Her mother, Leandrea Trainor says it’s been an amazing recovery, miraculous considering what the doctor told her to expect.

Dustin Dwyer

  Last month, a disagreement on a residential street in Muskegon turned into a massive gun battle. Six men were armed. Dozens of shots sprayed in all directions.  

At the house directly behind the gunfight, three children played on a porch.

And one woman ran into the line of fire to try to save them.

Today we begin a three-part series about the incident, and look at how the dramatic rise of gun crimes in Muskegon is putting more kids at risk.

The series begins with what happened on Monroe Ave. on the evening of July 9th. 

It wasn’t quite yet dinnertime.

Ten year old Brooklyn Ridge was walking her dog Scruffy up to the front porch of a white wooden house on Monroe. Her friends Cameron and Caiden were there. Her brother was inside.

Behind her in the street, a group of men were fighting. The fight got worse.

"They started off as punching and screaming," Ridge says. "Then it ended up as a gun battle."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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Talk of raising the minimum wage hasn't exactly reached a fever pitch, but there is some recent momentum around returning to the issue whether the minimum wage is enough (if segments on the Daily Show are evidence of momentum).

So the question is, enough for what? Enough to lift minimum wage earners out of poverty? 

Obama's proposal (made during the State of the Union and which he's started pushing again but which doesn't seem to be going anywhere) is to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour.  Fast food strikes this past week in Detroit and other places around the country had workers demanding $15. 

The New York Times ran a multi-part series last year on a basketball team at a high school in rural Tennessee run by the corrections department. Members of the team, the "Lady Jaguars" are battling a host of personal, family, and economic challenges. The paper has returned to the school to find out what has happened to some of the graduating seniors, and meet some of the new team members.

Rodrick Daniels and his family
Dustin Dwyer

Dustin Dwyer

Chapter 1 

"That’s when you need somebody."

Fourteen-year-old Mario lives … somewhere in Grand Rapids. He doesn’t want to be identified on the air.

He sits, dressed in a plain white t-shirt, khaki colored pants and white, low-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars. We’re in a sunny hallway at the downtown Grand Rapids campus of Grand Valley State University. Mario is here, attending a summer program from the Hispanic Center of West Michigan – a program meant to help keep kids on track academically while school is out. 

Next year, Mario will be in the eighth grade, at a middle school in Grand Rapids.

I ask him if it's a pretty good school. "Kind of," he says. I ask him what isn't good about it. "There's too much gangs, stuff like that."

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

More than 90% of school children in Lake County qualify for free or reduced price lunch. To make sure they continue to eat healthy meals once school is out, the county’s school district offers free breakfast and lunch over the summer to any child in the county.

When I dropped by the cafeteria around 11:45 a.m. on a sunny Tuesday morning, dozens of kids from Lake County were winding their way into the school cafeteria at Baldwin Elementary.

They’re here for the summer school meals program called "Meet Up & Eat Up." There are hundreds of these programs across the state, one in almost every county. On tap today for lunch is milk (chocolate is by far the most popular with this crowd), followed by turkey and cheese sandwiches, carrots, apples and bananas.

Audio from family structure special

Jul 22, 2013

Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, and Dr. Alford Young, chair and professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, on single parent families

Kathryn Edin, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard and co-author of Doing the Best I can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, and Kay Hymowitz, William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys, discuss whether or not marriage is a solution for low income families.