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Bryce Huffman

West Michigan Reporter

Bryce Huffman is Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter. Huffman has been serving as a reporter for Michigan Radio since Fall 2016.

He has covered a variety of Michigan stories, including immigrants facing deportation, residents dealing with ongoing groundwater contamination, and tension between the black community and Grand Rapids police.

A Detroit native, Huffman graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. He joined Michigan Radio as a newsroom intern in May 2016.

Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette / Facebook.com

Has Attorney General Bill Schuette done enough to fight PFAS contamination in Michigan? Some people don’t think so.

Tracy Breihof, a Belmont resident who lives near the Wolverine Worldwide House Street PFAS dump site, spoke at an event on Wednesday organized by the Michigan Democratic Party. She says PFAS doesn’t seem to be a priority for Schuette.

Kent Hills Elementary in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Public Schools is investigating a teacher who allegedly assaulted an eight-year-old student.

This is the second time Robert Spaeth has been accused of physically hurting a student.

Federal, state, and local officials sitting at a roundtable meeting
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Officials from the EPA, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services met in Kalamazoo to discuss PFAS chemicals, but only a handful of selected speakers could ask questions and share their thoughts.

Many of the speakers, including officials from Ann Arbor, Parchment, and Oscoda, want the EPA and other federal agencies to move faster to solve the issue.

A map of Michigan shows several orange dots denoting locations where PFAS has been discovered.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

UPDATE: This story was updated at 3:53 p.m.

This week, the Environment Report is looking at industrial chemicals called per- and polyfluoralkyl substances – or PFAS. 

People all over Michigan have questions about these chemicals that are being found in their drinking water.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

The EPA is keeping its promise to Michigan residents by holding a meeting in Kalamazoo on Friday to talk about PFAS contamination, but it’s not the meeting residents expected.

For starters, there won’t be a public comment period at the meeting, which will be held from 1-3 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Expo Center on Friday.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids
Photo courtesy of the Gerald R Ford International Airport

Congress has passed legislation to allow airports to stop using foam containing PFAS chemicals.

Under current law, commercial airports must use firefighting foam that contains toxic chemicals known as PFAS. However, Congress wants that to change.

DEQ map of Parchment
MDEQ

The state will get help from Georgia-Pacific to help investigate the source of PFAS contamination in the city of Parchment.

The Department of Environmental Quality says Georgia-Pacific never owned or operated the paper mill in Parchment near Kalamazoo. But the company has a corporate relationship with the mill’s former owners.

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Congressman Dan Kildee and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow want to help veterans who were exposed to industrial chemicals known as PFAS.

That’s why they introduced legislation September 28 to help those veterans and their families get the healthcare they need.

U.S. Senate chamber
US Senate

More than 20 Michigan residents attended a U.S. Senate hearing on PFAS chemicals in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

Michigan Senator Gary Peters, who convened the hearing, has asked for faster action from the federal government to clean up groundwater that's contaminated by the chemicals.

Police officers standing inside the yellow tape at Kalamazoo's Bronson Park
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Bronson Park sits across from Kalamazoo’s City Hall. Tuesday night it was full of people, music and tents.

But by Wednesday morning, it had police officers standing behind yellow caution tape that surrounds the park.

Bryce Huffman

Update: 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 19

Kalamazoo police officers arrived at Bronson Park this morning to clear the park of homeless people and protestors.

The city imposed a deadline of 7 p.m. Tuesday night for homeless campers to leave the park.

Some people have been arrested, including city commissioner Shannon Sykes.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Teresa Weatherall Neal announced Monday that she’s retiring as Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Weatherall Neal says she came to the decision after her sister suddenly passed way in July.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting had to be relocated earlier Thursday, because protestors caused too big of a ruckus, according to county officials.

Kent County’s Board of Commissioners couldn’t get work accomplished while a group of protestors tried to reignite a conversation about the county’s contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Could more cultural awareness help the Grand Rapids Police Department? The Grand Rapids Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force thinks so.

The task force, which was designed to help repair the department’s relationship with the community, offered 38 recommendations to The Grand Rapids City Commission Tuesday morning.

Downtown Detroit
Mike Fritcher / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

New data show the range of life expectancies for different areas in the state.

The numbers are from the U.S. Small-Area Life Expectancy Estimates Project are broken down by census tract. Census tracts can range in size from half of an inner city neighborhood to an entire country, depending on population size.

Empty classroom
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Kent Intermediate School District wants input from parents and staff as it prepares to absorb special education and early childhood programs from Grand Rapids Public Schools.

GRPS decided to transfer these programs to the Kent ISD last month.

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new study found that young adults are using more marijuana and less of other drugs.

The national study looks at drug use for teens and young adults, and specifically at how drug use has changed over time.

Lisa Lyons speaking
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kent County Clerk and Lieutenant Governor hopeful Lisa Posthumus Lyons says voters should be focused on  what she calls a “maximum wage” rather than a minimum wage.

“We want to make sure that Michigan has policies put in place that will ensure Michigan’s hardworking men and women have the opportunity to make as much as they possibly can to help raise their families,” Lyons said.

Lake Huron
Perry Quan / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

You might want to check online before heading to your favorite beaches this holiday, especially if you plan on going to beaches in Grand Traverse or Wayne County.

Fifteen Michigan beaches are either closed or are under advisories because of bacterial contamination this Labor Day weekend.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department released body cam footage Friday of a stop involving two unarmed 11-year old black boys.

The video shows several police cars stopping three young men on the city’s southeast side. The oldest boy is 17 years old, while the others are 11 year-old twin brothers.

Coin box at Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Airplane passengers in Grand Rapids can get rid of some spare change and fight homelessness at the same time.

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has added boxes where passengers can drop coins before going through the security checkpoint.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids police want to hear what high school students have to say. So the department is asking 25 students to join its Youth Advisory Council this fall.

The city’s Chief of Police says it’s important to get the youth perspective on issues. And that’s exactly what the IMPACT group looks to accomplish.

The council will meet once a month at 1 Monroe Center St NW. Students can share their experiences and thoughts about law enforcement in their community.

The department has been doing a lot to change their image within the community.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Parchment and Cooper Township residents can now safely drink their water. That’s what state and local officials are saying after water tests found PFAS levels were well below the advisory level.

Last month the state declared a State of Emergency in Parchment, a city near Kalamazoo, after high levels of chemicals known as PFAS were found in its water system.

State Representative Winnie Brinks
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters wants a much lower enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS compounds.

PFAS compounds are being found at high levels in private wells and municipal water systems across the state.

The chemicals are commonly used to manufacture plastics, paper and leather and have been linked to testicular, ovarian and kidney cancer.

Lisa Wozniak, the Executive Director of the MLCV, says the current advisory level of 70 parts per trillion isn’t safe for children.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Michigan's Democratic Secretary of State hopeful wants stricter penalties for tampering with voting equipment.

Jocelyn Benson, who announced plans to improve Michigan’s election security today, says there is no evidence to suggest any state elections have been tampered with, but she says the threat is not to be taken lightly.

DEQ map of Parchment
MDEQ

The state found high levels of industrial chemicals in two Kalamazoo County cities, but it’s unlikely they have the same source of contamination.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found chemicals known as PFAS in 26 private wells in Richland Township and nearby Parchment. Both are in Kalamazoo County.

Maps from the DEQ shows that it found 13 wells in each city with PFAS concentrations above the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.  

Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Some Parchment residents might be using bottled water for longer than they had hoped. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found high levels of PFAS in private wells near Kalamazoo.

More than 110 private wells have been tested, and results are in for about 102 of them. A DEQ spokesperson says the results range from non-detection to 340 parts per trillion – or almost five times the EPA advisory level, which is 70 ppt.

A mosquito
flickr user trebol-a / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Kent County health officials expect to see cases of West Nile virus before summer ends. That’s because there are way more mosquitos found with the virus compared to previous years.

County health officials have looked at mosquitos from 10 traps in the greater Grand Rapids area. They found four times as many mosquitos this year as they usually do.

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

Rates of cancer in Kent County where industrial chemicals have been found in the groundwater are not higher than they are in other parts of the state. That's according to a report state and county officials released on Tuesday.

Wave card being used on a bus in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids’ bus service wants to be more efficient and help the environment. That’s why it’s introducing a new electronic fare system Tuesday.

The new Wave cards will replace the paper tickets and change that riders usually pay with.

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