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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, the Detroit-area doctor involved in the female genital mutilation case, and residents concerned about a massive sinkhole in Macomb County. 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.

Michigan Democratic candidates at the podium
Mike Buck / WOOD TV 8

Immigration and infrastructure were a couple of the big themes as Michigan’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates debated one another in Grand Rapids last night.

Gretchen Whitmer, Shri Thanedar and Abdul El Sayed share the stage.

Thanedar, the only candidate born outside the U.S, says there is a lot of discrimination against immigrants in Michigan.

“I see that discrimination because I’m an immigrant and I see the discrimination because of the color of my skin. And thousands of Michiganders experience that,” Thanedar said.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A report on the dangers of PFAS exposure that was suppressed by the EPA was released today.

The report details the health effects of PFAS and recommends the advisory level for these chemicals be made stricter.

Emails that surfaced last month found that the EPA feard a "public relations nightmare" would ensue once the report was made public. 

Soo Locks
Jim Newsome / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state of Michigan could pay $50 million to help upgrade the Soo Locks – that’s if the federal government takes the lead.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and some state lawmakers sent a letter to President Trump today pledging money to add another 1,000-foot lock between lakes Superior and Huron.

This would help get raw materials between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes more easily.

President Trump made upgrading the locks a point of emphasis in speeches earlier this month.  

Red Lion restaurant sign in Grand Rapids
Rolin Stone Timmerman - Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

A $330,000 state grant will help redevelop a contaminated site in Grand Rapids.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the grant for the brownfield site earlier this week.

Kara Wood, who oversees the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, says the grant moves the project forward.

“So this approval helps them cross that starting line to get started on those environmental activities in order to demolish the building and construct the project that they intend to build,” Wood said.

For Rent sign
Kurt Bauschardt / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The city of Grand Rapids has a proposed ordinance that aims to protect renters from predatory landlords.

But residents at a public hearing during a city commission meeting last night don’t think the ordinance is harsh enough on bad landlords.

The ordinance would fine landlords $50 for not returning application fees to prospects who were rejected. Each additional infraction would increase the amount landlords must pay.

Two students on stage
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A group of high school and middle school students in Muskegon have recently discovered the power of poetry. That’s thanks to an after school workshop led by three West Michigan poets.

Charles Pickett Jr.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office

Charles Pickett Jr. was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison for his role in a car crash that left five cyclists dead and four injured. 

Water filter
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Plainfield Township installed a PFAS filter at its water treatment plant this week.

The new filtration system will remove a family of chemicals known as PFAS, which have been found at low levels in township water.

Downtown Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

If you’re a Grand Rapids resident with an idea for a community engagement project, the city could give you money to make that idea happen.

Residents can apply every three months for up to $2,500 in match funds for neighborhood projects. These projects can range from community gardens to community yoga classes.

Residents have the entire month of June to fill out an application, which the city is willing to help people with. Application forms are on the city’s website.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Black residents in Grand Rapids have thought for decades that the city’s police targeted them unfairly. But a traffic study released last year put some data behind these long-held beliefs.

Lake Michigan
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Lake Michigan’s E. coli and swimming advisories are down from previous years. A recent study says that’s both good and bad.

The study looks at Lake Michigan’s beaches from 2000 to 2014. You can read the full study here.

Chelsea Weiskerger, a PhD student at Michigan State University who co-authored the report, says the lower E. coli numbers mean that beaches are cleaner and safer for recreational use.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

UPDATED 5/25/18 at 2:13 pm.

A new poll by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA poll found 54% of Michigan voters want the Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac to be shut down.

It also found that 87% of voters said they are concerned that the 65-year-old pipeline could have oil spill in Northern Michigan, while 64% said they are "very concerned."

Enbridge Energy, which is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio, owns and maintains Line 5.

A grouo of student inamtes wearing caps and gowns
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The first group of student inmates received their associate’s degrees from a program at Calvin College today.

Fifteen men walked out of the fieldhouse at Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia today with their heads held high.

Those men all now have associate’s degrees in administrative leadership.

Larry Conic, a student inmate serving a life sentence for murder, says he wants to help younger inmates since he has no chance of parole.

“But you know what, if I have to stay here, I’m going to spend my time here making other people better,” Conic said.

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA
Scottpruitt.com / Scottpruitt.com

Water advocacy groups in Michigan concerned about PFAS contamination want Scott Pruitt to resign as head of EPA.

This week, emails surfaced detailing the EPA’s decision to hide a report on the danger of chemicals known as PFAS.

According to the emails, the report was kept under wraps to avoid a “public relations nightmare.”

Chris Coulon, a member of the group Need Our Water – or NOW – says Scott Pruitt should not be allowed to head the EPA after hiding this information from the public.

Eastern Michigan University
F. Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Eastern Michigan University cut four of its sports programs. Now a pair of alums is suing the school.

Doug and Mary Willer are EMU alums and are boosters for the school’s wrestling program. That program is one of the four that is being cut.

Doug was a wrestler at EMU and is in the school’s sports hall of fame.

He says the university violated the Open Meetings Act by restricting the public comment portion of a Board of Regents meeting to just 30 minutes.

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

This post has been updated to more accurately describe the EPA's role in Wolverine Worldwide's testing at the company's former tannery site. 

West Michigan shoe-manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide is under more federal scrutiny.

The Grand Rapids Press reports the EPA wants Wolverine to begin testing groundwater and soil at the company’s former tannery in Rockford mid-month.

Soo Locks
Jim Newsome / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder is happy to see President Trump giving attention to the Soo Locks.

“I’ve been arguing for this for some time and it’s great to see the president get on board. Let’s encourage him to follow through and get this done,” Snyder said.

Trump heard from three Michigan lawmakers about the locks and decided to bring up the issue in a speech in Macomb County last week.

People marching and holding signs
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The immigrant community in West Michigan is tired of living in fear of deportation. That’s why about 1,000 people marched in downtown Grand Rapids today. 

The marchers want to be able to drive to work or drop their kids off at school without fear of not returning home to their families.

Erika Telez, one of the marchers, says the protest is about asking for basic American rights.

“We are asking for thing that are simple, like permanent protection, respect and dignity for all immigrant families,” Telez said.

Charles Pickett Jr.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office

A jury in Kalamazoo found Charles Pickett Jr. guilty of second-degree murder today. 

The Battle Creek man was under the influence of depressants when he crashed his pickup truck into nine cyclists in June 2016. Five died and four were injured a result of the crash. 

Pickett, who knowingly consumed a handful of pills hours before the crash, could spend the rest of his life in prison, but he has yet to be sentenced. 

Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The trial for the Battle Creek man who allegedly hit and killed five cyclists with his pickup truck continued today. One witness says he was struggling mentally on the day of the incident.

Charles Pickett Jr. currently faces five counts of second degree murder for the June 2016 accident which left five dead and four injured. Pickett is accused of driving under the influence of muscle relaxers at the time of the crash.

cyclists on road
pxhere

In June 2016, a group of cyclists known as the Chain Gang headed out for a ride in Kalamazoo County. About 20 minutes later in Cooper Township, a pickup truck plowed into the group, killing five of the riders.

Yesterday, the criminal trial for the driver of that truck, Charles Pickett, Jr. began.

Michigan Radio’s Bryce Huffman is covering the trial. He spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou.

exterior of kalamazoo county courthouse
Charles W. Chapman / Wikimedia Commons, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

The trial for a Battle Creek man who is accused of fatally striking five cyclists in Kalamazoo began this week, with witnesses taking the stand for the first time Wednesday.

Charles Pickett Jr. has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly hitting nine cyclists with his pick up truck in a June 2016 incident. Five of the cyclists died as a result of the crash.

Toxicology reports show that Pickett was under the influence of muscle relaxers and other depressants at the time of the crash. 

Students in the hallway looking at ducks
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

It might not be Pamplona, but the annual "Running of the Ducks" at Ken-O-Sha Park Elementary School in Grand Rapids is its own time-honored tradition. 

This Friday, students and teachers gathered in the hallways to watch as a mother duck marched her ducklings to water for the first time.

The mother duck nests in the school's courtyard every year. When spring comes, she leads her babies through the school and into the woods a few hundred yards away.  

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A recent report and interactive map shows that Michigan is the nationwide leader for known PFAS contamination sites.

Michigan leads the country with 28 known contamination sites in at least 15 communities.

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra

A citizen led group in Saugatuck is appealing the state’s decision to permit development along the Kalamazoo River.

The Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance wants the Department of Environmental Quality to reconsider its decision because it says the proposed Padnos Marina violates a state law against sand dune mining for commercial purposes.

Jeff Padnos is the developer who wants to build near the dunes. He was not immediately available for comment.

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A federally funded program to remove lead paint from houses is now free for eligible homeowners in Grand Rapids.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the city a grant of nearly $3 million for the next three years to safely remove lead paint.

One ZIP code in Grand Rapids (49507) has more children with lead poisoning than anywhere else in the state. The Get the Lead Out program hopes to fix that.

Paul Haan, Executive Director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, says it is important to get lead out of homes before kids are exposed.

Bill Huizenga
US Congress

Some high school students in West Michigan want U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga to speak about gun violence.

A student-led group concerned with gun violence released a video today asking the Republican Huizenga to address the issue at a town hall.

Panel and audience
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Michigan's criminal justice system feeds on the poor – that’s what a state lawmaker in Grand Rapids says.

State Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, talked to community members about criminal justice reform at a town hall meeting tonight. He and his fellow panelists described different facets of the system that need changing.

LaGrand says nearly half of Michigan’s jail population is people who can’t afford to pay a modest bail..

Flitn River
Courtesy of the Flint River Watershed Coalition

The state health department has released updated guidelines for consuming fish from Lake St. Clair and the Flint River. The updated Eat Safe Fish guide take PFAS into account.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services already advised residents to be careful of eating certain fish due to mercury, but it considers the family of chemicals known as PFAS as an emerging contaminant.

Fish from Lake St. Clair and certain stretches of the Flint River in Genesse, Lapeer and Saginaw counties have been added to the safe fish guide.

Grand Haven coast
Nelo Hostuma - flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/63122283@N06/

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal in case about whether a West Michigan community can put up a cross on public land.

For decades, the city of Grand Haven would convert an existing monument into a cross and erect it over a stadium for summer concerts. But the courts ruled that was an illegal endorsement of religion.

Geri McCaleb, the mayor of Grand Haven, says many residents wanted to keep the tradition of raising the cross alive.

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