Bryce Huffman | Michigan Radio
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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.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Last summer, the state began investigating PFAS contamination is two sites close to Kalamazoo.

Investigations of the former location of Production Plated Plastics in Richland Township and the Crown Village property landfill in Parchment both led to news reports of high PFAS concentrations. And the state is still finding the industrial chemicals in groundwater samples.

calder plaza in downtown Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Several Grand Rapids residents spoke in favor of proposed changes to a civil rights ordinance at a public meeting Tuesday night.

One change to the ordinance would make it illegal to call the police on people of color when they aren’t doing anything wrong. Doing so would be a misdemeanor if the city adopts the changes.

downtown Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

The city of Grand Rapids is holding a public hearing Tuesday evening to discuss proposed changes to its civil rights ordinance.

One change to the ordinance would make it illegal to call the police on people of color when they aren’t doing anything wrong. Doing so would be a misdemeanor if the city adopts the changes.

Steve Yzerman
Gabe Taviano / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

"The Captain" is coming back home. Steve Yzerman is going to be the next General Manager and Executive Vice President of the Detroit Red Wings. 

The former captain led the Wings to three Stanley Cup championships in his 20 years wearing the "C" on his jersey. 

marijuana plant
Drew Taylor / Unsplash

Another Native American tribe in the state has voted to legalize recreational marijuana, making them to second tribe in Michigan to do so.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians approved of a resolution that mirrors the state’s recreational marijuana laws.

marijuana plant
Eljoja / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

An Upper Peninsula Native American reservation has opted to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Bay Mills reservation, which is about 20 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie and sits on Lake Superior, passed an ordinance regarding recreational cannabis earlier this week. This is after tribal citizens voted to legalize it back in January. 

List of things to consider when creating plans for Grand River restoration projects
Bryce Huffman

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public input on potential changes to the Grand River landscape near downtown Grand Rapids.

While the Army Corps has not made any plans yet, changes to the river that have been discussed over the past few years include removing the 6th Street dam, increasing the walking area on the riverfront and adding more fish passages.

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

A 19-year old Haitian man who came to the U.S. seeking asylum could be deported soon. The U.S. government being slow to act could be part of the reason.

Williams Sejour came to the U.S. when he was 16. He was looking to escape his abusive family. Sejour turned himself into authorities at the U.S. southern border, making him a so-called “arriving alien” rather than an illegal alien.

classroom
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

A Grand Rapids Public Schools teacher is on paid leave after he allegedly used racial slurs when talking to students.

The district is investigating Britton Fowler, the Union High School English teacher who has been accused of making racially insensitive remarks.

Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is considering a full investigation into the Grand Rapids Police Department.

The department held two public hearings Thursday to hear from residents, and most of the testimonies painted the police in a negative light.

president trump
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

President Donald Trump is bringing a campaign rally to Grand Rapids. 

The rally is scheduled for Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena. Free tickets are available here.

Water filter
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Plainfield Township could end up paying millions of dollars more than it though due to PFAS.

Residents of Plainfield Township in Kent County, north of Grand Rapids, are dealing with PFAS pollution. State officials believe it was caused by shoe-manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide, and there is ongoing lawsuit addressing who is to blame

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Environmental activists are accusing the Department of Defense of trying to weaken proposed new cleanup standards for a group of industrial chemicals.

The New York Times reports the DOD is urging the Trump administration to adopt 380 parts per trillion as the new cleanup standard for PFAS in groundwater.

Rafael DeJesus
Berenice Albright

After serving more than 25 years in prison, Rafael DeJesus had his sentence commuted by former Governor Rick Snyder last year, but now he faces deportation.

DeJesus came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when he was 15, and at 22, while he was a legal resident, he was sentenced to 60-100 years for cocaine possession with the intent to sell.


Map of parts of Grand Rapids, Wyoming, and Walker
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

State and local officials updated some Grand Rapids residents about possible air pollution in the southwest area of the city on Wednesday night.

The company Viant Medical uses a chemical called ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Two federal agencies are looking into the effects PFAS chemicals have on people living near military bases, but no Michigan sites are being looked at.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s study will look at volunteers from places that include New York, West Virginia, Alaska, and Texas.

people standing in front of a map
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Muskegon County residents left a PFAS meeting last night with more questions than answers.

County officials have tested 92 residential wells near the Muskegon County Airport since August, and eight have PFAS levels above the EPA clean up standard of 70 parts per trillion.

DEQ

Very high levels of PFAS chemicals have been found in groundwater at a West Michigan manufacturing plant. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the Viking Corporation used firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals at its facility in Hastings.

In October, the company began collecting groundwater samples, and the results show extremely high levels of PFAS chemicals. The highest result: 335,090 parts per trillion. That's the total for all the kinds of PFAS chemicals the company tested for in groundwater near the plant.

poster on a classroom wall
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

 

African proverbs and pictures of Harriet Tubman line the hallways at Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy in Detroit, one of Detroit’s few remaining schools that uses an African-centered curriculum.

Welia Dawson is teaching a sixth grade class about post-World War II America. Unlike most lessons about that time period that you might hear in a traditional public school, it’s focused on how black people were treated at the time.

Bridge and frozen river in Portland, MI
Courtesy of Jessica Dorsky

West Michigan residents are expecting another winter storm, and that could mean more power outages.

More than 230,000 people in Michigan lost power last week, most of them living on the west side of the state. Restoration crews have been working around the clock to remove tree branches and fix power lines.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the city of Grand Rapids over the weekend due to last week's winter weather.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Restorative discipline practices could be helping Kalamazoo’s public school district.

Kalamazoo Public Schools did not expel any kids during the 2017-2018 school year, and it had only 13 suspensions of more than 11 days.

grand rapids mayor rosalynn bliss
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss announced her reelection campaign Monday.

Mayor Bliss became the first woman to be elected mayor in Grand Rapids when she won her election in 2015.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The City Commission unanimously voted to hire Public Sector Search and Consulting at a meeting Tuesday.

PSSC has done work in big cities like Seattle, Dallas, and San Francisco, but also has worked in smaller cities like Albany and Syracuse.

Map of Muskegon County PFAS testing area
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Health officials in Muskegon County have found 20 more wells with detectable levels of PFAS chemicals.

The county is testing in the area surrounding the Muskegon County Airport because PFAS chemicals have previously been found in wells there.

More than 110 wells have already been tested, and five homes had PFAS levels above the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Governor Rick Snyder used one of his last days in office to sign hundreds of bills. One will make it harder for the state to adopt stricter drinking water standards than the federal government.

Citizen groups like Michigan Demands Action against Contamination and Need Our Water -- or NOW --  have been urging state lawmakers to create a stricter clean up standard for PFAS chemicals, which have been found at high levels in drinking water for residents across the state.

Muskegon, Michigan
user BigMikeSndTech / Flickr

Two and a half years after the Consumer’s Energy power plant closed in Muskegon, city officials are moving forward with development projects.

Frank Peterson, the Muskegon city manager, says the power plant was once worth nearly $100 million in taxable value.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

State and local leaders are urging Governor Rick Snyder to veto two bills on how the state deals with some kinds of radioactive waste.

One bill would require landfill owners to pay five dollars per ton of radioactive waste. The money from this fee would go into a pollution prevention fund.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
USACOE

Governor Rick Snyder has signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will commit up to $52 million of state money for upgrades to the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie

Governor Snyder is among many in Michigan who have said upgrading the locks is a priority for the state. Snyder highlighted their importance in a statement Wednesday. 

"The Soo Locks are essential to our economy and national security. The time is long overdue for construction to begin on the new lock. I’m pleased that the work is finally getting underway and hope that Congress quickly provides the rest of the funds needed to complete the project," Snyder said.

Eric Mockerman

A West Michigan school district is considering changing its mascot name to distance itself from Confederate imagery.

The Godfrey Lee Public School District recognizes that the “Lee Rebels” is a name that carries some baggage; it is an homage to the Confederacy.

old building
Wayne State University / Flickr

Wayne State University has the lowest graduation rate for public universities in Michigan, but federal data shows it's improving in that area faster than any public university in the country.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System shows that Wayne State’s graduation numbers went from 26 percent in 2011 to 47 percent in 2017.

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