Norm Hess is executive director of the Michigan Association for Public Health.

Limited access to health care contributes to higher rural death rates

RURAL MORTALITY: The gap in death rates between urban and less healthy rural areas has widened, USDA figures show. Rural hospitals are reducing services and communities are having trouble recruiting and retaining health care providers. We hear from the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and the Michigan Association for Local Public Health. By Anish Topowala. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, SAULT STE. MARIE, IRON MOUNTAIN, MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, CHEBOYGAN AND ALL POINTS.

State pushes to expand free pre-K programs

FREE PRE-K: The governor is pushing to expand free pre-K programs for 4-year-olds. We hear from the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential, the Wayne Regional Education Service Agency and a Wyoming legislator who is enthusiastic about its potential benefits. By Sophia Ceru. FOR GREENVILLE, WKTV, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

The ExpandXR exposure therapy program

Mental health resources expand for first responders

LAW ENFORCEMENT MENTAL HEALTH: Law enforcement personnel and other first responders face mental health problems from the demands of their jobs, and there are growing resources to help them. We hear from the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, Police Officers Association of Michigan and Frontline Strong Together based at Wayne State. By Anish Topawala. FOR DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

New tax-form check box boosts Michigan organ donor registry

ORGAN DONORS: More than 6,000 Michigan residents so far have taken advantage of a 2023 law that lets them check a box on their income tax returns to be designated as an organ donor. A pending bill would mandate organ donor education for 9th graders. Ohio and Illinois have higher rates of organ donors among new drivers. We talk to Gift of Life and to lawmakers from Pittsfield Township and Berkley. Other sponsors include legislators from Grand Rapids, Detroit and Eastpointe. By Owen McCarthy. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE, GREENVILLE AND ALL POINTS

Rep. Phil Skaggs, D-East Grand Rapids

Agencies, lawmakers act against child labor abuses

CHILD LABOR: Federal and state agencies have been taking action against employers who hire underage workers following news reports of child labor abuses at a Kentwood company and elsewhere. Pending legislation is intended to crack down on illegal child labor and protect whistleblowers. We hear from the lead sponsor from East Grand Rapids, Michigan Immigration Rights Center in Grand Rapids and federal and state labor agencies. The other sponsor is from Muskegon. For business and news sections. By Alex Walters. FOR CORP! GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, WKTV, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

A prototype of the net system used to trap mallards for relocation.

Researchers pioneer method to combat swimmer’s itch by relocating ducks

SWIMMER’S ITCH: Researchers from U-M, Hope College and Calvin University have designed a new system to relocate infected mallards from inland lakes where they cause swimmer’s itch. We talk to the Larks Lake Association in Emmet County. Other participating associations are at Higgins Lake in Roscommon County, Crystal Lake in Benzie County and Cheboygan County’s Black and Douglas Lakes. Ducks are being relocated to beaches on Lakes Huron and Michigan. By Alex Walters. FOR PETOSKEY, CHEBOYGAN, TRAVERSE CITY, HARBOR SPRINGS, CRAWFORD COUNTY, CLARE COUNTY, BIG RAPIDS, GLADWIN COUNTY AND ALL POINTS.

A view of the shore of Muskegon Lake

Community input sought for cleaned-up lakes, shorelines

GREAT LAKES FOR WHOM?: The cleanup of Muskegon Lake, a designated Great Lakes Area of Concern, after 30 years and $89 million is raising questions about the future of the decontaminated area. Some community residents worry it will become costly condos and other high-end uses. We hear from the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership, a Grand Valley State researcher and the Michigan Environmental Council. Other Areas of Concern in Michigan are the Kalamazoo, Clinton, Detroit, Rouge, St. Marys, St. Clair and Manistique rivers, River Raisin, the UP’s Torch Lake and Saginaw Bay and River. By Theo Scheer. FOR LUDINGTON, OCEANA COUNTY, HOLLAND, TRAVERSE CITY, PLANET DETROIT, SAULT STE MARIE, ST. IGNACE, DETROIT, MONROE, ADRIAN, IRON MOUNTAIN, MIDLAND AND ALL POINTS.

Wayne State law professor Laura Bartell is a bankruptcy specialist.

Bankruptcies still ballooning amid high interest rates, drying up of pandemic stimulus money

BANKRUPTCIES: Michigan bankruptcy filings are up, a trend attributed at least in part to higher interest rates and an end to pandemic-era stimulus payments. Even some high-income people are drowning in debt. A Wayne State law professor, a credit counselor at a Farmington Hills-based firm and a Lansing bankruptcy lawyer discuss. By Owen McCarthy. FOR CORP! GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

Black-legged tick

Climate change makes ticks a year-round pest in Michigan

TICKS: Climate change is transforming the patterns of disease-carrying ticks, raising public health concerns as winters become warmer and spring weather arrives earlier. We talk to an MSU researcher, an East Lansing dog groomer and an Oakland Township veterinary technician. By Gabrielle Ahlborn. FOR PLANET DETROIT, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

The Vicksburg Union Depot in the past.

Southwest Michigan train depot chugs onto National Register of Historic Places

HISTORIC DEPOT: A 1904 train depot in Kalamazoo County has arrived on the National Register of Historic Places. The last Grand Trunk Western passenger train stopped at the Vicksburg Union Depot in 1972 and freight service was discontinued two years later but 60 freight trains a day still rumble by the restored depot. By Eric Freedman. FOR STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, COLDWATER AND ALL POINTS.