Tom Cronkright

EPA tannery investigation—‘There is no emergency here’

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

Contaminants found in multiple test sites on Wolverine property by BETH ALTENA  About a hundred residents, including city officials and Wolverine Worldwide representatives, attended a public meeting held jointly by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Tuesday, April 24 at the Rockford Freshman Center. A presentation by a team of four representatives of the environmental agencies detailed the background of their investigation, where the testing stands to date, what possible future outcomes of the process may be, and answered questions well after the 9 p.m. expected close of the meeting. Comments from the public regarding the situation were about evenly mixed among those supporting Wolverine in their actions in removing the former tannery and those who appeared skeptical of the company’s actions or worried about contamination. Dave Novak, community involvement coordinator of the Superfund Division of the EPA, began the evening’s presentation, introducing the other representatives. “We are looking for conclusions based on good science, not speculation,” he stated. “We have a great deal of information in a relatively short period of time. We are letting good science lead us on our journey.” He then gave the floor to Naria Nunez of the EPA. Nunez said the EPA was contacted by a citizens’ petition June 21, 2011 describing concerns over releases during the demolition of the former tannery at 123 N. Main Street, Rockford. She said the petition indicated the demolition was of community concern and included photographs of discolored water running off the property and questions about the past use of chromium at the property. The EPA decided to investigate the site, and began testing in October of last year. Nunez said preliminary testing results found some contamination with potential of offsite contact. The investigation is still underway and is in the preliminary stages. At any time the EPA could decide no further response is necessary; could call for removal of contaminates or could refer the investigation to another government program. The EPA could also continue to investigate and at the end of the process could rank the site based on a system called a Hazardous Ranking System. This is an evaluation of the property based on evaluations of groundwater, surface water, air, ground, or […]

Rockford’s lead evaporates in farm market contest

August 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

Let’s win one for Rockford, two for Michigan by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest voting website has revealed that the Rockford Farm Market is not alone in Michigan in trying to win a title as America’s Favorite Farmers Market. There will be four winners named, one for each of four market size categories: boutique (15 or less vendors), small (16-30), medium (31-55), and large (56+ vendors). Currently we lead the entire nation in all market size categories. Winning overall would be like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. With three weeks remaining in the contest, we find this is no easy task. Every time Rockford (pop. 5,700) builds up a comfortable lead in the small market size category, our chief competitor, Venice, Fla. (pop. 22,000), comes charging right back. In a 36-hour period over the weekend, Venice voters cast a whopping 400 new votes that cut deeply into our once comfortable lead. Manistique, Mich. (pop. 3,050), in the boutique size category, finds itself in the same position in an even more hotly contested race. They find themselves with a weekly flip-flopping lead against another Florida market in Punta Gorda (pop. 17,100). What we have here, in essence, are two Davids versus two Goliaths. Somewhat even more ironic is that, at this time in the growing season of Florida, much of their farm market produce is shipped down from the north. So, in an effort to assist one another in this contest the Manistique Farmers Market, with the strong support of the Manistique newspaper, The Pioneer Tribune, have joined forces with The Rockford Squire newspaper in promoting our respective markets in the remaining weeks of the contest. The Cedar Springs Post is also joining in and we welcome their support. “This would be a great way to bring some positive national attention, for a change, to Michigan. And to think we are only the ‘little guys,’” said Kerry Ott, market master of the Manistique Farmers Market. “We will promote this to our supporters as: Let’s win one for Manistique and two for Michigan.” This is becoming, in part, a contest between Michigan and the pretenders in Florida. After all, Michigan, the second most agriculturally diverse state […]