SW Michigan Today: Monday, August 13

Aug 13, 2018

Credit Matt Rourke / Associated Press

More PFAS testing is underway in the Richland area; Wolverine Worldwide and 3M discussed PFAS safety concerns years before most people knew about the chemicals; and more.

(MLive) The 3M Company wanted to know about PFAS exposure at a former tannery in Rockford when it sent an expert to the plant almost 20 years ago. That was long before most people knew about the health risks associated with some chemicals in PFAS family. MLive reports that documents released in a lawsuit show 3M examined wastewater samples from the Wolverine World Wide tannery in 1999. Wolverine used vast amounts of 3M Scotchgard, which contained a PFAS compound. Records also show that officials at 3M and Wolverine discussed safety concerns around PFASes. The chemicals have contaminated the drinking water in several places in Michigan.

Environmental officials will test more wells in the Richland area for chemicals known as PFASes. In a release today, the Kalamazoo County health department said it would send letters to homes with private wells that the state wants to sample. The announcement comes after the Department of Environmental Quality found PFASes in other wells in the Richland area. The state has been giving bottled water to people whose wells have tested above the recommended limit. Certain PFASes are associated with an increased risk of disease. The compounds have turned up in a number of public and private drinking water sources in Michigan.

The Kalamazoo Public Schools have settled a lawsuit by an employee who said she faced sexual harassment. The Kalamazoo Gazette says former Loy Norrix High School councilor Alicia Curry sued the district and former Loy Norrix principal Rodney Prewitt in 2016. Curry said Prewitt created a hostile work environment. Details of the settlement with the school system were not announced. Prewitt resigned after he was put on paid administrative leave last year. KPS officials said Prewitt didn't tell them about a previous harassment claim against him in Florida before he was hired in Kalamazoo.

A stained glass window at Battle Creek City Hall that Native Americans find offensive is on its way out. The Battle Creek Enquirer says the city will get a $3,400 grant from the Native American Heritage Fund to replace part of the window. It features a design from an earlier version of the city's seal showing a white surveyor clubbing a Native American figure with a gun. The money comes from casino revenue shared by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi. The $6,800 project will replace the old seal with a new stained glass panel. The Native American Heritage Fund is also giving $77,000 to the City of Kalamazoo. That will help cover the cost of removing the controversial “Fountain of the Pioneers” from Bronson Park.

(WDET) The annual Perseid meteor shower is underway. It was expected to peak last night and early this morning. The shower actually started last month. It averages about 40 to 50 meteors per hour. Paulette Epstein, the staff astronomer at the Michigan Science Center, says they are left overs from Comet Swift Tuttle. Epstein says the shower can be seen after 11 p.m. in the northeastern sky but you won't need a telescope. The Perseid shower is expected to last through the end of August.

(MPRN) Michigan has approved 16 licenses for medical marijuana businesses so far. They range from dispensaries to testing labs. But there's concern about a backlog of pending applications. That’s because on September 15th businesses without licenses must close. Spokesman David Harns at the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation says the state is sticking with the deadline. He says enough licenses have been issued to make sure that patients have access to marijuana. The state's application system system for medical marijuana licenses is a multi-step process that includes thousands of dollars in fees.

(MPRN) State officials are moving to the next step in their plan to make changes in the Healthy Michigan insurance plan. The public comment period on those changes ended Sunday. The controversial law requires able-bodied adults on the plan to work or lose their benefits. The state plans to ask the federal government for a waiver to make the changes. The law was approved in June but there are some things it doesn’t specify. State officials say they'll use the public comments they got to define things like “medically frail.” That's a group exempt from the work requirement.

(WCMU) A Michigan man has created a mobile app that recreates the experience of driving on a Michigan road. The objective of Get Up North is to collect pop cans while avoiding potholes, deer, and construction cones. Players start with a car. But if you get enough cans, you can upgrade to an SUV or truck. Collecting even more gets you to more challenging roads. Joey Stinson, the creative director at Shiatown Media, says he got the idea for the app as he and a friend made a game out of avoiding potholes during a recent road trip to northern Michigan. Stinson says he hopes to eventually release other Michigan-based mobile games.

Environmental groups say they're worried about plans to move radioactive waste from Illinois to Canada through Michigan. The Detroit Free Press says the plan was included in documents filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month. The waste is spent fuel rods from a nuclear power plant in Illinois. The plant's owner says opponents are spreading "fear and disinformation." But an environmental group in Port Huron disagrees. The waste would pass through the city. And the Great Lakes Environmental Alliance says an accident there could contaminate the Saint Clair River and other parts of the lakes.

(WKAR) The City of Lansing has partnered with eBay on a program to increase the online reach of local businesses. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor announced the year-long “Retail Revival” program on Friday. It provides resources like training, and a dedicated landing page at eBay.com. It lets online customers browse and buy products from brick-and-mortar stores around Lansing. Schor says the program will help the city as well as local retailers. Lansing is the second city to participate in Retail Revival after Akron, Ohio.

The state says two people in Michigan came down with swine flu after attending a county fair. The Gongwer News Service says they came into contact with pigs at the fair in Fowlerville and got the H1N2 virus. Only two other cases of the disease have been reported in the country this year. The others were in California. The disease seldom infects people and health officials say it is not spread by eating meat from affected swine. The illness can be deadly for very young children and the elderly, but standard anti-viral drugs are effective in treating it.

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