GOP mourns Fred Meijer

Dear Editor,

With our deepest sympathy we extend our thoughts and prayers to the Meijer family following the passing of Fred Meijer. Mr. Meijer cared deeply about our community and he was a generous and thoughtful philanthropist in each and every endeavor he pursued. May God bless the entire Meijer family during this difficult time of grieving.

Sam Moore
Kent GOP Chairman

Groups’ tactics questionable 

The CRNA (Central Rockford Neighborhood Association) and/or a sub-group of CRNA called Concerned Citizens for Responsible Re-development appear to have an “End Justifies the Means” attitude when it comes to their perceived contamination of the site of the former Wolverine World Wide Tannery. In spite of scientific testing, due diligence on the part of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and private soil and water testing laboratories, the CRNA refuses to accept the empirical data and results indicating no unacceptable levels of contaminates on this site.

In a recent 100+ page petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the group(s) made numerous false statements and knowingly lied in several instances. When confronted by city staff and elected officials about these lies, they responded “yeah, we probably shouldn’t have put that in there, sorry about that”. I can only assume, that by petitioning the EPA, they wish to have this agency also involved with assessing the site based upon the falsehoods, misrepresentations and outright lies found in their petition. It seems as though they wish to have the site declared contaminated and will not accept any other outcome to their efforts, misguided as they may be.

On a personal note, these concerned citizens claim that the reason the City of Rockford built a new ground/well water treatment plant and abandoned the surface/river water treatment plant, where Reds on the River currently stands, was due to the increasing contamination from the Wolverine World Wide Tannery. This is blatantly false. I was involved, from day one in the process of exploring options and the building of the new water treatment facility. During my years as superintendent of the Rockford water treatment plant and as Director of Public Services for the City of Rockford, the surface water treatment plant never had any violations of water quality, either directly from the river (Raw Water) or the treated water we provided to the citizens of Rockford. Tests for water quality from the river and the treated water were conducted numerous times, 24/7, and several times a year by the MDEQ.

The reason that a new treatment plant was built resulted from a mandate from the MDEQ because the old, surface water plant had reached its’ capacity and was too small to provide water to the growing Rockford Community. The Rockford City Council, due to cost and reliability, made the wise choice to search for an abundant, reliable ground water source. A groundwater plant was designed and constructed for less than a third of the cost to replace the old surface water treatment plant with another surface water plant and the City’s water supply would not be at the mercy of nature with respect to flooding and continuously changing water conditions such as temperature fluctuations, heavy rainfall events, etc. No one disputes that an abundant, high quality groundwater supply is safer, more reliable and much less expensive than a surface water source both for construction and operation.

In closing, I would ask the CRNA and/or the Concerned Citizens group to NOT use my name and previous position with the City of Rockford as a “Means to their End” to further their efforts to achieve their goal. I am not sure what that goal is, but it is obviously NOT to have an uncontaminated area for the enjoyment of the people of the Rockford Community. The only ones currently able to use and enjoy this great piece of property on the Rogue River and White Pine Trail are the geese. This is a direct result of the group(s) efforts to find contamination there.

Dick Johnston, Cannon Township
Former City of Rockford, Water Superintendent,
Director of Public Services, 1988 – 2008.

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