Nicole Walton

News Director

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.

Following a graduate school stint at Miami University of Ohio and moves to Indiana and Wisconsin, Nicole decided the U.P. was where she needed to be, so she moved back to Marquette and Public Radio 90’s news room. She’s been there ever since as host of NPR’s Morning Edition and now as News Director. Nicole’s stories have been heard on the Michigan Public Radio Network and National Public Radio.

Nicole lives in Marquette with two incredibly cute cats.

Ways to Connect

UNDATED (WNMU) – With Memorial Day just around the corner, the Department of Natural Resources is urging recreationalists to stay out of danger during Safe Boating Week.

The DNR says people should take swim lessons and water-safety classes; never leave children unattended near water; and always keep life jackets or other certified personal flotation devices nearby.

Officials note more than 80 percent of drownings in the U.S. are due to people not wearing their life jackets. And in most of those accidents, life jackets were on the boats.

UNDATED (WNMU) – Federal and state officials are beginning a series of projects to pinpoint how close Asian carp are to the Great Lakes and reduce their numbers in Chicago-area waterways near Lake Michigan.

The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee released a $7 million monitoring and sampling plan Monday. It uses a variety of techniques to determine how many of the invasive fish are in the Chicago waters, remove as many as possible, and detect any flaws in an electric barrier designed to block their path to Lake Michigan.

LANSING, MI (WNMU) – Michigan lawmakers are preparing for what could be some of the final votes related to the state’s next budget cycle.

Conference committees made up of members of the House and Senate are expected to begin meetings on finding budget compromises as early as Tuesday. Votes could come in the legislature later this week.

The next budget year begins October 1.

UNDATED (WNMU) – Hunters have until June 1 to file applications for a license to hunt elk or bears in Michigan.

The State Department of Natural Resources says hunters may apply to be in the drawing online or at any retail license agent.

The state plans to issue 155 elk licenses for 2011, 90 for the August-September hunt and 65 for the December one.

Elk licenses go only to Michigan residents, including qualified members of the military and full-time students attending a Michigan college or university who live in the state during the school year.

UNDATED (WNMU) – Some states are cutting the number of weeks that laid-off workers can get unemployment insurance, as a way to limit tax increases on businesses.

Michigan, Missouri and Arkansas recently reduced the maximum number of weeks that the jobless can receive those unemployment benefits.

The cuts are taking place as legislatures deal with the damage that the recession inflicted on state unemployment insurance programs. There was a sharp increase in the number of people who lost their jobs, and that quickly drained the pool of money to pay out benefits.

IRON RIVER, MI (WNMU) – Officials are still trying to determine what caused the fire that destroyed an Iron River bowling alley Friday.

Firefighters arrived at River City Lanes around 2:10 a.m. and fought the blaze through early Friday afternoon. The building is a total loss, but no injuries were reported.

Firefighters also turned their hoses on the Ottawa VFW Post 3134, which is next door to the bowling alley. They say a wall of the post may have been damaged in the fire.

MANISTIQUE, MI (WNMU) – Trial is set for a Manistique man accused of killing his brother.

Nicholas Smith, 21, allegedly stabbed Michael Smith, 26, at their apartment on River Street March 10.

Nicholas Smith is charged with murder. He has until June 23 to enter a plea in the case. Otherwise, trial is set to begin August 8 in Schoolcraft County Circuit Court.

UNDATED (WNMU) – AAA Michigan says gasoline prices are down 23 cents per gallon over the past week to a statewide average of $3.87.

The auto club says the statewide average is about a $1.14 per gallon higher than last year at this time. It’s the third consecutive weekly decline.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Traverse City area, where it’s $3.76 a gallon.

The highest average can be found in the Marquette area, at $4.06.

MARQUETTE, MI (WNMU) - This year’s Superior Bike Fest in Marquette has been canceled.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon co-race director Jim Grundstrom said although officials had one of the best planning years so far, as of Wednesday night only 58 riders were registered for the June 24-26 race. Normally more than 500 riders sign up for the event.

UNDATED (WNMU) - The Michigan Tax Tribunal is dealing with a backlog of about 41,000 property tax assessment appeals.

The Detroit News reports that pending cases represent billions of dollars in challenged assessments, and in some cases date back years. They could result in local governments having to refund–with interest–millions of dollars in taxes they’ve gotten.