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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.

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.

Students in a school auditorium
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Some teachers at Orchard View High School in Muskegon say that the media paints their city as a place riddled with gun violence, bad public schools, and poverty. So they wanted to find a way to help their students see and take part in something positive in their community.

The teachers and school administration are looking to poetry to do that.

As the final school bell of the day just rang at Orchard View High School recently, some students made their way through hallways covered in artwork from current and former students.

Grand Rapids Police Department
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department announce new Youth Interactions Policy for its officers.

This after a year which saw two incidents where officers held young black kids at gunpoint, one of whom was an 11-year-old girl walking out of a family member's house

The policy lists age, mental capacity and any previous interactions with the law as things officers should take into account when dealing with youths.

People marching with signs
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Cedar Springs school board last night accepted the resignation of its superintendent, amid calls for her ouster by teachers and community members.

Some of  Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn's critics marched to the school board meeting holding signs that read “#ResignVanDuyn.”

VanDuyn had been accused of using rude or hurtful language when talking to staff and threatening people’s jobs for disagreeing with her.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A group of lawmakers wants more federal money to address drinking water contamination around the state.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters included money for PFAS contamination in their latest budget bill.

The family of toxic chemicals, known as PFAS, have been linked to certain forms of cancer as well as other health issues.

Downtown Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Kent County is adding two full-time health experts to help tackle issues of PFAS exposure and opioid addiction.

The Kent County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to approve hiring two full-time epidemiologists for the health department.

Teresa Branson, the county’s Deputy Health Officer, says the department was stretching itself thin dealing with these issues. But adding more staff is good for the department and county residents.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Two townships have joined the state’s lawsuit against a west Michigan shoe manufacturer.

Plainfield and Algoma townships are both being affected by ongoing groundwater contamination caused by chemicals Wolverine Worldwide once used at its tannery in Rockford.

Cameron Van Wyngarden, the Plainfield Township manager, says joining the lawsuit wasn’t his first choice.

Van Etten Lake in Oscoda, Michigan
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A group of Oscoda residents is angry with the governor’s task force that responds to PFAS issues around the state.

The group Need Our Water – or NOW – spoke to the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) about the ongoing groundwater contamination there.

The chemicals known as PFAS were used in firefighting foam at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

A Grand Rapids police officer standing at a table with a microphone
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Some Grand Rapids residents want to see more police engagement in the community. That’s what they told the Grand Rapids Task Force on Policies and Procedures at a public meeting last night.

The task force is using an outside consulting firm to review the department’s policies to reduce implicit racial bias. One of the earliest recommendations made to the task force was to hold public meetings.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

The Department of Environmental Quality will begin testing 1,300 public water supplies across the state for emerging contaminants known as PFAS.

The family of chemicals, which includes PFOA and PFOS, have been found at high levels in private drinking wells and some bodies of water around the state -- most notably at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda and in northern Kent County. 

Susan Leeming, deputy director for the Office of External Relations with the DEQ, says the state will be selective in its testing.

Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Public Schools will not remove its head of special education, despite possible legal action.

Six local unions and some parents and faculty claim Laura LaMore has done a poor job running the district’s special ed program.

They complain of poor placement of students and not enough staff. The petition even says, “Staff  fear bullying. So many great, experienced professionals have been pushed out or left because of poor working conditions, excessive caseloads and intimidation.”

Christian Cross
Waiting For The Word / Flickr CC /

A Saginaw Township Catholic priest is under investigation for alleged criminal sexual activity. 

Father Robert DeLand Jr. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Freeland and is a judicial vicar with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.

DeLand was arrested by Tittabawassee Township Police after being under surveillance beginning in November.

The 71-year old priest is accused of a sexual assault from August of last year. DeLand has since been accused of providing alcohol to a minor and purchasing the controlled substance MDMA – or Ecstasy. 

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