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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 street pole in the middle of flood water
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Lansing is one of several cities throughout the state dealing with flooding.

Mayor Andy Schor declared a state of emergency Wednesday. Several streets are still blocked off, making it tougher to navigate sections of the city.

John Estill lives right along the Grand River. Flood water covers his entire backyard and has made its way to his basement.

“We’ve got sandbags around the outside of the house, but it’s still seeping in, and we’re trying to keep ahead of it with pumps,” Estill said.

Estill says the drywall in his basement took the most damage.

A park sign in water
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Several cities in West Michigan are experiencing flooding after heavy rainfall and warm temperatures swept across the state this week.

Newaygo is one such city. Some residents were evacuated from their homes nearly 40 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Riverfront Park in Newaygo has water from the Muskegon River covering park benches and picnic tables.

Georgia Andres is the Chief of Police in Newaygo. She says the city is at "level C" flooding, which means that homes and businesses in the low lying areas have been evacuated.

Mayor Rosalyn Bliss speaking in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss highlighted housing affordability and bettering community police relations as important areas to improve upon in her annual state of the city address.

Mayor Bliss says the city’s economic turnaround will only be a success if it benefits all residents.

“We need to be a place where a rich variety of residents not only feel accepted and want to call Grand Rapids home, but can afford to do so,” Bliss said.

Bliss says the city will continue to prioritize mixed-income housing development proposals in the future.

Cattle grazing in a field.
F Delventhal / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

State officials say two cattle on a farm in Ottawa County have tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

James Averill, a veterinarian with the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, says the disease can be spread in a few different ways.

“It can be transmitted from cattle to cattle, and it's also considered a zoonotic where it can be transmitted from cattle to humans,” Averill said.

Averill says a different strain of the respiratory disease was found in whitetail deer in the northeast portion of the state's Lower Peninsula.

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

A Kent County woman believes groundwater contamination caused complications during her pregnancy, and that PFAS exposure may be to blame for the newborn's death.

Wolverine Worldwide is the shoe manufacturer believed to have contaminated groundwater near Rockford with PFAS. That's a family of chemicals often used to waterproof leather.

Ashlee Naffziger lived in Rockford for about 13 years before moving out of her mom’s house. She was on private well water during that time.

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, isn't happy with the president's 2019 budget proposal that was released today.

Trump's latest budget proposal looks to cut the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $267,963,000 -- or by about 90%.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative aims to protect the lakes from pollution and invasive species. 

In a statement released today, Kildee calls the cuts reckless.

A Rapid bus in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids can go forward with a $70 million transit project -- now that federal funding for it has been approved.

The city can begin work on a new, rapid bus line connecting Grand Valley State University's Allendale campus to downtown.

The Federal Transit Administration just approved a $57 million grant to help fund the so-called Laker Line. The Michigan Department of Transportation pledged $14 million.

Construction is scheduled start this spring. It should be finished by spring of 2020. 

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

People who live in Oscoda are concerned about foam containing toxic chemicals known as per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances – or PFAS – that keeps appearing on Van Etten Lake.

The serene lake in Northeast Michigan is surrounded by trees and houses. But it also has foamy stuff that looks like soap scum floating along its shores.

Residents are wondering why the state isn’t doing more about it.

Grand Rapids Police Department
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Some Grand Rapids community members want the city to adopt a national violence prevention program.

Cure Violence is a program used to combat gun violence in several major cities like Chicago, Baltimore and New York.

The idea is simple, people in communities affected by gun violence mediate issues between people within their community.

Charlie Ransford, Director of Science and Policy with Cure Violence, says the program views gun violence as a health crisis instead of a crime problem.

The Detroit Lions home field, Ford Field
meesh / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The Detroit Lions announced today that Matt Patricia will be the team's next head coach.

Patricia was with the New England Patriots for the past 14 seasons, and was the defensive coordinator for the past five.

Despite the Patriots allowing 41 points in last night's Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Patricia won three Super Bowls during his time in New England.

The Lions, who have never been to a Super Bowl, haven’t won a playoff game since 1991 and haven’t won a championship since 1957.

house for sale in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids continues to be one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. Homes or apartments are particularly hard to find for low to moderate income residents. 

This week the Grand Rapids City Commission took steps to improve affordable housing when it unanimously approved four policy recommendations from the Housing Advisory Committee. It's one step in a longer process to help alleviate the problem.

Interim City Manager Eric DeLong says the policies were developed to benefit both private and public interests.

Sign in front of Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
Google Maps

The Grand Rapids City Commission is scheduled to vote on whether to approve plans for a new veterans' home.

The city’s planning commission voted to approve the $49 million home for military veterans last week.

The current home houses about 260 people, but the new one would only house around 130 vets.

Daniel Waun, a spokesman at the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, says no one would be forced to move out of the old building.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Some Plainfield Township residents left the open forum to discuss municipal water with more questions than answers last night.

The community north of Grand Rapids is dealing with ongoing groundwater contamination.

The toxic chemicals known as PFAS are in the municipal water, but township officials say it tested below the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

Residents were supposed to be allowed to speak to township officials one-on-one about their water and the township’s potential changes to the municipal system.

Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced that a prison in Muskegon Heights will close in March.

Nearly 175 people work at the West Shoreline Correctional Facility. The Michigan Department of Corrections says it plans to do what it can to ensure that all employees have a job when the prison closes.

The main reason for the closure is because the state’s prison population is down, according to The Michigan Department of Corrections.

Chris Gautz, a spokesperson for MDOC said the closure shows the state’s correctional system is working.

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

The need for subsidized and Head Start care isn't being met in Grand Rapids. That's according to a recent study by the Chicago-based non-profit IFF.

The study of 2016 data found the need for subsidized and Head Start care isn't being met in Grand Rapids.

The study also found most of that need, roughly 72%, is concentrated in only a third of the city's neighborhoods.

IFF Director of Early Childhood Services Monica Duncan says cities should focus on neighborhoods with the highest needs.

ICE agents
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A Kalamazoo doctor was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week, after living in the U.S. for nearly 40 years.

Ross and Donna Tingley
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

At least 14 communities in Michigan have water contaminated with a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

One of those sites, in West Michigan, has gotten a lot of attention recently. This month, the state abruptly announced a cleanup standard for PFAS.

But these chemicals have been a pollution problem in the state for years.

In Oscoda, some residents are wondering why remediation is taking so long.

Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

The state has filed a lawsuit against the shoe company believed to have caused ongoing groundwater contamination in Kent County.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants Wolverine Worldwide to come up with a timeline for the remediation.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

Michigan State University wants people to have a more comprehensive understanding on the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

It will use nearly $1.5 million to build a database designed to give details about the lives of enslaved people.

MSU will use $1.47 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to put together an online database that will combine data MSU already has with information from other databases regarding the slave trade.

The Rapid bus station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials must wait for federal money before continuing with a $70 million transit project.

The Obama administration promised the city nearly $57 million for the project, but Grand Rapids didn't receive any of that money during the 2017 fiscal year.

The Michigan Department of Transportation pledged to match the federal grant with $14 million for the project, but the Federal Transit Administration hasn't approved the grant.

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

Residents in Kent County might have to wait a bit longer before they know all of the health effects of the chemicals in their groundwater.

A study about the effects of PFAS exposure is being delayed while Kent County officials get help from federal health experts.

Shredded dollar
TaxCredits.net / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The community mental health provider in Kent County wants the state to expedite the process of figuring out how to adequately fund its mental health programs.

Scott Gillman, the CEO and Executive Director of Network 180, the community mental health authority in Kent County, says that people switching to the state’s Healthy Michigan program is the cause for the lack of funds.

Network 180 lost about $9.7 million over the last two years because several people switched from having Disabled, Aged and Blind status on their insurance to the Healthy Michigan program.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Some West Michigan residents are being advised to keep their water running this winter.

Kalamazoo and Muskegon Heights issued frozen water advisories this week.

Solar panels on a roof
wikimedia commons

More Michiganders participated in state's program to generate on-site renewable energy in 2016 compared to 2015.

The Michigan Public Service Commission's annual report on renewable energy found that 427 more electric customers joined the state's Net Metering program.

Apples
USDA NRCS Photo Gallery

Meijer stores are voluntarily recalling some products containing sliced apples due to potential health risk.

Fresh Pak Inc., a fruit company in Detroit, issued a recall on its products with sliced apples last week.

Rogue River
Trout Unlimited

More Kent County residents will have their private wells tested for toxic chemicals after the state expanded its testing zone this week.

Wolverine Worldwide manufactures shoes for brands like Hush Puppies and Merrell. The company is believed to be the source of the groundwater contamination.

a police squad car
Flickr user Scott Davidson/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Grand Rapids Police Department says it will not discipline the officers involved in handcuffing an innocent black girl earlier this month.

The department launched an internal investigation after the 11-year old-girl was held at gunpoint, searched and handcuffed at her home.

A cup for spare change and a cardboard sign
BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

The Grand Rapids City Commission last night voted down a controversial proposed panhandling ordinance.

The ordinance was billed as a pedestrian safety law, but it would have allowed police to give costly tickets to people panhandling at certain intersections at specific times of day.

School desks
Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Grand Rapids School Board wants to send every high school student in the city to college tuition-free.

The school board applied for Promise Zone designation with the Department of Treasury this week.

A group of protestors outside of Congressman Bill Huizenga's office in Grandville
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A group of protestors want Congressman Bill Huizenga to support the DREAM Act for Christmas this year.

The protestors stood outside of Congressman Huizenga’s office in Grandville, hoping he could be persuaded to see the issue as urgent.

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