Pat Shellenbarger


An election divided them. A year later, they meet face to face.

November 7, 2017 | Ron French, Pat Shellenbarger

We’ve followed Michigan residents with diverse political views since the 2016 presidential election. They came together in one room on a recent morning. Here’s what happened.

Pupusas, locked doors, and a return to the shadows for one undocumented family

March 7, 2017 | Pat Shellenbarger

They’ve been called bad hombres and job stealers. Wilfredo Diaz and his family say they just want to be called Americans.

Meet Michigan's divided: Wilfredo Diaz

January 24, 2017 | Pat Shellenbarger

Meet Wilfredo Diaz, from Wyoming, Mich.

Meet Michigan's divided

January 24, 2017 | Nancy Derringer, Ron French, Pat Shellenbarger, Jacob Wheeler

Can 11 passionate Michigan residents and families reach across the political and cultural chasms that too often divide our state?

Meet Michigan's divided: Ron Price

January 24, 2017 | Pat Shellenbarger

Meet Ron Price, from Holland.

The price of neglect: Michigan must spend billions on water, sewer fixes

March 22, 2016 | Ted Roelofs, Pat Shellenbarger

Beyond Flint, experts say the state’s failure to upgrade its vast water and sewer systems means at least $17.5 billion in needed repairs. The cost of doing nothing may be even worse.

Grand Rapids comes out of the sewer

March 22, 2016 | Pat Shellenbarger

Grand Rapids used to tremble when heavy rains fell since downpours often meant nasty sewer overflows. Today, the city rests easier after investing in a long-term upgrade that reduces the odds that raw sewage will flood river waters.

How one West Michigan school district is closing reading gaps for poor, Hispanic students

June 30, 2015 | Pat Shellenbarger

Through focused early literacy efforts, the West Ottawa School District is taking children with little to no English-language skills and preparing them to compete with white, more affluent peers.

Rich school, poor school, and the challenges that separate them

June 30, 2015 | Pat Shellenbarger

Waukazoo Elementary draws students from affluent lake homes. Pine Creek kids come from Holland’s poorest neighborhoods. In ways large and small, Waukazoo kids benefit from their families’ extra income.

Along Michigan’s back roads, thousands of homeless children

August 12, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Brenda Greenhoe scours abandoned garages and backwoods lots in rural counties, bringing adrift children to school.

A charter school for the rural poor closes

August 12, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Is it better to keep low-income students together despite poor test scores? Or do they benefit from learning alongside middle-class children?

Down and out in Lake County

August 5, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Lake County competes for the unwanted title of Michigan’s poorest county. Like many rural areas across the state, Lake residents endure higher poverty, serious health and social ills, and little hope for the future.

Living poor, in a county of wealth

August 5, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Being poor is tough anywhere. But wanting for basics in Livingston County, the state’s most affluent, carries a different kind of sting.

Road funding stalls as state elections near

April 10, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Republican lawmakers don’t want to be seen as supporting tax increases. Democrats want to blame Gov. Snyder for Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure. The result: a shortage of lawmakers willing to lead the charge for better roads.

Better roads boost economy, business groups say

April 10, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Many in Michigan’s business community favor increasing fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, saying crumbling roads make it difficult to do business, and attract new businesses and visitors to the state.

Why are Germany’s roads better? Or are they?

April 10, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Michigan’s harsh winters and surrounding Great Lakes are difficult foes, even for roads built to German highway standards. But lessons abound

Michigan roads now among nation’s worst

April 8, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Michigan spends less per capita on roads and bridges than any other state in the nation, and it shows. Experts say the state needs even more than the $1.3 billion requested by Gov. Snyder to make long-term improvements. Legislative leaders aren’t convinced.

Engler’s (political) road not taken

April 8, 2014 | Pat Shellenbarger

Gov. John Engler was urged by the business community to raise fuel taxes up to 12 cents a gallon to fix Michigan roads and bridges. He agreed to a 4-cent raise. It wasn’t enough over the long haul. Today, MDOT pays $240 million a year on a $2.5 billion debt to repair roads.