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.

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.

Leather straps
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A West Michigan shoe manufacturer thinks they aren't the only ones to blame for PFAS polluted groundwater. 

Wolverine Worldwide has been at the middle of the groundwater contamination in northern Kent County since the state began warning residents about high levels of PFAS being found in their private wells. 

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

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team released the findings from the independent PFAS Science Advisory Committee appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The 90-page report includes analysis of the causes and effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as 17 recommendations to the state in its ongoing response to PFAS contamination.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Residents in two West Michigan townships with PFAS contamination could end up paying to be connected to city water.

Officials from Plainfield and Algoma Townships say shoe manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide ended talks that included a plan to pay for the city water extension, but a representative from the company denies ending the talks.

Grand Rapids police chief and city manager
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Chief of Police officially announced his retirement Thursday.

David Rahinsky has been a police officer for more than 30 years, and has been chief in Grand Rapids since July 2014.

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department updated its Youth Interactions Policy on Monday.

The previous policy was made after officers handcuffed and arrested an unarmed 11 year old black girl last December.

Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Two commonly found PFAS compounds can potentially cause male infertility, according to a recent study.

A study published last month in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that PFOA and PFOS, two of the most commonly found PFAS compounds, can lower sperm count and cause smaller penis size.

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

Northern Kent County residents say they're eager to learn more about a new PFAS chemical exposure study.

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Kent County Health Department talked to residents on Tuesday night about the study and how they can participate.

Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids
By WMrapids - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43948673

A West Michigan woman says she raised more than $11,000 this past weekend to afford a heart transplant after Spectrum Health rejected her from its transplant list.  

60-year-old Hedda Martin says Spectrum Health sent her a letter last week recommending she fundraise $10,000 for immunosuppressive drugs.

 

Marijuana plant
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Legalizing marijuana could have unintended consequences for public schools in Michigan.

Earlier this month, Michigan residents voted to pass a ballot proposal to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older.

Woman handing books to kids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo Public Schools wants every student to see someone who looks like them in a book. That's why it's adding books to school classrooms to reflect the diversity of its student body.

It launched the initiative Tuesday at Woodward School for Technology and Research, where school and district officials hope the effort will engage more students in reading.

KPS is starting with just second and third grade classes for now.

Wendell Brownstanding at the front of a classroom
Courtesy of Antoinette Brown

Former Canadian Football League player and Detroit native Wendell Brown will be released from Chinese jail next fall.

Brown was coaching American football in Chongqing, China when he was arrested after an alleged bar fight in September 2016.

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

U.S. Senator Gary Peters is holding a Senate field subcommittee meeting on PFAS Tuesday.

Representatives from the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, Department of Environmental Quality and some local officials will testify at the hearing.

Attorneys speaking at meeting
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Attorneys from the ACLU and Michigan Immigrants’ Rights Center presented a resolution to Kent County’s Board of Commissioners Thursday.

The resolution would ensure that no county resources go to helping ICE detain immigrants living in the county.  

Teacher working with young students
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio


People smoking marijuana
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Recreational marijuana advocates were lighting up and passing joints in Detroit after a ballot proposal passed to legalize pot.

Proposal 1 allows marijuana to be regulated like alcohol.

Michigan residents over 21 years old will soon be able to buy, possess, use, and grow marijuana.

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