Southwest Michigan Today: Friday October 5, 2018

Oct 5, 2018

A Kalamazoo native is one of this year’s “Genius” grant winners. Georgia-Pacific says paper products made in Parchment contained PFAS’s, but it’s not clear that’s the source of contamination. West Michigan’s economy continues to grow. 

A Kalamazoo native is among this year's winners of "Genius" grants from the MacArthur Foundation. Titus Kaphar is an artist who was born in Kalamazoo in 1976. The foundation says his work tries to offset the lack of people of color in Western art. Each of the grant winners will get $625,000 over five years to support their work. Kaphar lives in Connecticut and studied at Yale and San Jose State University. Kaphar says he taught himself to paint by going to art museums.

(WCMU) A package of bills that’s passed out of the State House is aimed at increasing protections for the Line 5 Pipeline. Lawmakers behind the bill say an anchor strike in April that resulted in fluid leaking into the Straits of Mackinac prompted them to take up the legislation. The bills establish a $10,000 fine for the first violation and 15-thousand dollars for the second. The bills have not yet been taken up by the Senate.

(Michigan Radio) State lawmakers want to keep the percentage of school administrator evaluations based on student growth right where it is now. The percentage is supposed to increase to 40 percent this year. But the House Education Reform committee yesterday voted to keep it at 25 percent. The legislation has bi-partisan support.

(Kalamazoo Gazette) Georgia-Pacific says that paper products created in Parchment until 2015 were known to contain PFAS’s. But it’s not clear if that led to the discovery of high levels the chemicals in Parchment’s water supply. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced this week that Georgia-Pacific is working with the state to test for the chemicals which have been linked to serious health problems. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports company officials say chemicals containing PFAS’s would have been applied when the paper was made - not at the Parchment plant where it was converted into food service products such as wraps and baking cups. But Georgia-Pacific says wastewater from the plant was discharged into Parchment’s water treatment system. Other sources of PFAS’s are also being investigated. Parchment is now linked to the city of Kalamazoo’s water system.

The economy in west Michigan continued to pick up steam last month. That's according to Grand Valley State University economist Brian Long. He surveys area purchasing managers every month. Long says production and employment at many companies in the region rose sharply during the first part of September. But he says continued uncertainty about overseas trade could put a damper on future growth.

(Interlochen Public Radio) A new law in Michigan requires more thorough background checks for child care providers. The law says anyone convicted of a violent crime can no longer live in a home that’s a licensed child care facility. The law also puts a five-year ban on anyone with a misdemeanor drug conviction. Advocates are concerned the new law might force some child care providers to close.

(Michigan Radio) Michigan Congressman Mike Bishop took time Thursday to escort a top Trump administration official around a Lansing development project. A recent poll showed Republican Mike Bishop holding a slim lead over Democratic challenger Elissa Slotkin. Bishop denied that the media event with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was intended to give his re-election campaign a boost.

In women’s soccer, Alyssa Burke’s goal 34 seconds into the second overtime gave Western Michigan a 2-1 win over Miami Thursday. The Broncos are now 10-3 overall and have won four out of their five Mid-American Conference matches. Western plays at Ball State Sunday afternoon.