Obama’s EPA Takes Action on C8

Obama’s EPA today took action on PFOA contamination by requiring DuPont and Chemours to take additional actions to reduce C8 exposure in drinking water for residents in Ohio and West Virginia living near Washington Works.

Today’s action amends a 2009 consent order and establishes a new action level of 0.07 parts per billion which triggers the temporary provision of an alternate source of drinking water by DuPont and Chemours until a permanent alternative drinking water supply is provided. Last May the EPA established a temporary action level of 0.07 parts per billion – down from the 2009 level of 0.40 parts per billion causing a need for Vienna’s water to be temporarily replaced until a filtration facility could be constructed at DuPont’s cost.

The latest order makes that temporary action level permanent and expands the geographic areas to be investigated for C8 contamination. EPA says the new Lifetime Health Advisory was set to be protective of human health.

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Jury Awards Testicular Cancer Victim $10.5 million in C8 Punitive Damages

A Columbus jury has awarded $10.5 million in punitive damages to a Washington County, Ohio man who claimed he developed testicular cancer as the result of exposure to a Teflon manufacturing solvent used for more than 50 years at DuPont Washington Works near Parkersburg, WV.

Kenneth Vigneron, 56, of Little Hocking, Ohio, is one of thousands of individuals living in the Mid-Ohio Valley who have filed personal injury claims against DuPont over the pollution. His case is the third to go to trial on the matter.

DuPont’s lawyers tried to convince the jury the corporation did not understand that the manufacturing substance they called C8 could create dangers for the community.  They brazenly asserted that the company had done everything that it could to prevent harm to people in communities near the plant. However, Vigneron’s attorney’s produced evidence that the company had known C8 was poisoning neighboring water supplies since at least the 1980’s.

During arguments at trial, Vigneron attorney Gary J. Douglas pointed out that DuPont has publicly disavowed all responsibility and has done everything that it can to make life miserable for innocent victims who seek compensation.

Douglas implored the jury to “Teach them a lesson of decency, please.”  Douglas explained that DuPont must do more than just clean up the mess that it created.

The jury responded today with a decision to make DuPont responsible for $10.5 million in punitive damages.

C8, PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid is a toxic compound that has been detected in the environment all over the globe and in the blood of most people no matter where they live. Folks who live along the Ohio River near DuPont Washington Works became aware that their water was contaminated in the early 2000s. Since that time, C8 exposure in the Mid-Ohio Valley has been linked to six human health conditions:  kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, preeclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) and medically diagnosed high cholesterol.

Thousands of individuals in the impacted areas have fallen ill with one or more of these diseases. People who have lived or worked in six communities along the Ohio River for at least one year prior to 2004 are entitled to medical monitoring and those who have developed related diseases are eligible to file a personal injury claim against DuPont – the polluting company. The communities covered in the class action lawsuit include: Belpre, Little Hocking, Tuppers Plains, and Pomeroy in Ohio and Lubeck and Mason County in West Virginia.

In the fall of 2015 a Columbus jury awarded Athens County resident Carla Bartlett, a kidney cancer survivor, $1.6 million. In a second jury trial July 2016, Marietta College professor David Freeman, who suffered from testicular cancer, was awarded $5.1 million and the jury added $500,000 in punitive damages because they determined that the polluting company acted with malice when it dumped C8 into the Ohio River.

The latest and third jury trial, Vigneron’s case, was awarded $2 million in December. Today, the jury tacked on $10.5 million in punitive damages and ordered DuPont to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

A fourth case, that of Larry Moody, is scheduled to go to trial this month. Beginning in May 2017 these federal cases will go to trial at a rate of 40 a year. According to the scheduling order, the cases will be tried at the rate of 40 per year until they are all resolved or until DuPont reaches a settlement with litigants.

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Marietta Author Releases New Book

Marietta resident and award-winning author Sandra Kolankiewicz is releasing another book of poetry, Lost in Transition, now available for pre-ordering at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/lost-in-transition-by-sandra-kolankiewicz/.

The book’s release date is March 3, 2017. Shipping is free if you order before January 13.  This is the third chapbook for Dr. Sandra Kolankiewicz, whose first book, Turning Inside Out, won the Black Lawrence Press Black River Competition in 2007.  That same spring, her novel Blue Eyes Don’t Cry won the Hackney Award for the Novel.  Soon, her novel When I Fell, which includes 76 full color illustrations by artist Kathy Skerritt, will be moving from online only to print.

Kolankiewicz describes herself as a ‘writer of the dangers of domesticity,’ and Lost in Transition explores themes associated with ‘domestic life,’ challenges that we all face over our life span: changing identity; making mistakes; asking and giving forgiveness; accepting our limitations; facing the inevitability of death; and feeling the intense need to communicate with others during this crazy experience that happens between birth and the grave.

In these poems you’ll find disappointed love; a ghost couple coming back to visit her neglectful parents; the absurdity of wedding vows; the nostalgia of lost love; the disappointments of parenthood; the effects of grief and abandonment; the chords of mental illness and addiction; repressed passion; the unemployed; the resigned; the still-holding-on and grateful.

NEA grant recipient poet Roy Bentley, author of Starlight Taxi and winner of the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize for 2012, writes, “In Lost in Transition Sandra Kolankiewicz inventories the world of experience: “bodies so  / charged with electric fluid that when / they raise their fingers toward a / burner, a spark jumps forth adequate / enough to ignite the gas.” Like any Last Man Standing, she wants what she can’t do without: “I’m grateful for your protection while I / had it.” Kolankiewicz tells us: “The devil is in the lack of detail, / the clues you don’t notice until you / get the call, then wonder how you lost your / Eagle Scout.” Lost in Transition is map-making, and serves to make familiar the terrain of the Country of the Lost so we can travel through it with hope or, at least, less fearfully.”

Karen Neuberg, author of Myself Taking Stage (Finishing Line Press) and Detailed Still (Poets Wear Prada), and associate editor of First Literary Review-East, comments that “Lost in Transition is filled with keen observations of the daily that glint with power as Kolankiewicz transports us through the speeding, idiosyncratic reflections of her deft intellect. Her lines leap out and ignite us with recognition and connection. She guides us through transition and into clarity. These poems will scratch at the door of your heart—and you will be happy you let them in.”

John Guzlowski, author of the internationally acclaimed books Lightening and Ashes and Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded, writes of Kolankiewicz, “…She is the poet of mysteries, the real ones that hide in the most common things (a pet rabbit, a child’s dollhouse), and elegies for what we’ve lost and what we’re losing and what we will lose.  She has the gift the great poets have, the gift of telling us what we’ve lost in language so beautiful and rich that it almost makes us forget our loss.”

For those other people who dream of writing a book and having it published, Kolankiewicz offers some advice: “Mostly what you have to do is practice, practice, practice, like you would for any skill, whether it’s writing a poem or sinking a three pointer.  Also, embrace rejection.  Ninety percent of what you get back is rejection.  However, the other 10% is sweet.  Many people in this region have stories to tell.  Celebrate those stories by sharing them. Poetry and fiction are always there for you to express yourself, and memoir is a genre that is becoming more and more popular.  If you are moved to write about something, that energy will show in your work. Learn how to be your own best critic because you can lose yourself trying to do what others think you should. Finally, support small presses by buying and reading their books.”

Besides her three chapbooks, more than 300 of Kolankiewicz’s poems and stories have appeared in magazines and literary reviews during the last 35 years.  Sandra is available for readings, to talk to writing groups, to discuss publication tips with aspiring writers, and can be contacted at sandra.kolankiewicz@gmail.com.

 

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Mineral Wells Trailer Park to Close

More than one hundred people will be displaced when a Mineral Wells trailer park closes next summer. Residents of The Oaks Trailer Park received notices of termination of their leases via certified mail this week.
 
“Closing the Park was not an easy decision to make but my family and I believe it is the right decision,” trailer park manager Alice Bosley said in the notice.
 
The company owns almost half of the 70 trailers in the park, which is located near the former site of Coldwater Creek. Tenants who are renting trailers were told to turn in their keys no later than June 1, 2017. Likewise, trailer owners who rent lots at the park were told to vacate by June. Any property remaining after that date will be considered abandoned. Tenants are required to pay their rent until they vacate.
 
The unexpected news is raising concerns for the residential
community.
 
“I don’t think they realize what it will be like for people to try to move these trailers,” explained one household member who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.
 
She said many of the trailers in the park are older and may not be able to be moved. She also expressed concerns for elderly residents who will lose their homes.
 
“Even those that are in good enough shape to be moved (residents will) have to pay to have it moved somewhere, to store their belongings, utility hook ups, find somewhere to stay while they wait. It’s a nightmare.”
 
The reason for the closure was not explained in the notice of termination.
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Students Report Fear over MMS Teacher’s Classroom Behavior

By far the most complaints RCNN has ever received about a teacher are concerns from students and parents about Marietta Middle School teacher Dion Prunty. This fall Prunty’s use of the other ”n-word” and her capacity for humiliating students has left families of different faiths uncomfortable and fearful.

Allegations against Prunty range from calling her students “nazis”, embarrassing them over slight infringements, denying them lunch and bathroom breaks, putting her hands on them and refusing to properly pronounce students’ names. RCNN has interviewed dozens of parents and students – all who fear retaliation. For this reason, their identities are being protected.

“Today I found out that a sixth grade teacher at Marietta Middle School has been referring to herself as ‘Hitler’ and calling her students ‘Nazi’. To top it off, this year she had a student read a short story called ‘The Good Nazi’ in front of the class,” said one parent. “She tried to justify her use of the term by say it is ‘just a noun’. This teacher teaches science and language arts. We had a bunch of issues with this teacher but this is over the line in my book.”

Many sources tell the same story.

“My daughter was in Mrs Prunty’s class at MMS when she referred to herself as Hitler and said she expected her students to all be her Nazis and asked them if they would be,” said another parent. “It’s not the first sadistic thing Prunty had done.”

In response to RCNN’s inquiries, Prunty claims she used the word as a learning tool:

“I will tell you exactly what I said and why. One of my standards for Language Arts is teaching students that there are often many definitions for words. I have done this for many years, trying to get the students to realize that words can mean different things than they might already know.

I was telling the students about my new set of computers. I had computers until this year that were very old while others had new ones. The reason I was able to keep them is that I really am tough on the students about how they are treating the computers. Many students do not respect others peoples things, and I was trying to tell them how much I do respect the computers in my room. My computer cart was the only one that kept on running. In fact, they are now being used in the elementary schools because they are still usable.

What I did was tell the students that I am a computer nazi. I put the definition of nazi up and discussed the secondary meaning of the word, which is “a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to regulate a specified activity, practice, etc” (Dictionary.com). This was brought up last year by a student when we were discussing Nazi takeover during the reading of Number the Stars, a novel we are supposed to read in the 6th grade. That student said I was sort of a computer nazi. We looked up the word as a class and decided that although the word is often used negatively, that definition worked in that situation. I told the kids about this happening last year and used the whole idea to teach a standard that I am required to teach. I did not at any time call myself Hitler, nor call any kids nazi. The students that help me with the computers know that I expect them to watch them as I would if I am doing it. They are students that volunteered to help me.”

Prunty went on to explain that these students are honor students and so she expects a great deal from them. She also says her use of the word has ceased. However, students tell quite a different tale about the use of the word “nazi” in her classroom.

“Not once has she explained the meaning of a nazi or talked about World War II,” one student said. “She asked in the beginning of the year who would like to be her ‘computer nazi’ because she had new computers and she wanted someone to watch over everyone as they got their computer to make sure they were very careful and did everything correctly. I did not think she should have used the term ‘nazi’ because it could have easily offended someone.”

Many parents and students objected to Prunty’s explanation.

“My daughter had told me this was not correct. (Prunty) is telling lies,” explained one mom. “She has also informed them after Christmas things will be much worse for them. She gets meaner after Christmas – her words according to my (student) and friends. They also told me she never made it clear what the meaning of nazi was in any classes except the one she made a student read it in front of – this is a big issue. ”

Students and their parents tell of humiliations suffered because of Prunty’s treatment of them.

“One day (a girl) needed to go to the bathroom to change her pad,” explained the girl’s relative. “She asked to go three times. Each time Prunty told her no. Also, some kids decided to act up so Prunty held them an extra 15 minutes before sending them to lunch. Since she denied (a girl) the bathroom, by the time she used the bathroom and went to the lunch room, the cafeteria was closed. She never had a chance to eat.”

When the sixth grade bathroom was closed recently, students were forbidden to go use any other bathrooms.

“During this break most kids go to the bathroom but last week on my way to the bathroom a couple of my friends were coming back and they seemed upset,” one student said. “I asked them what was wrong and they said the girls’ bathroom was closed. I asked them why we couldn’t go to another bathroom. They went to Mrs. Bucina to ask and she said they could but when Mrs. Bucina came out with my friends from the classroom Ms. Prunty said that we couldn’t use any other bathrooms and we would just have to hold it. This was our last period so we wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom until we got to our homes or where ever we went to after school. For me I had to go 45 minutes at school and then another 40 minutes on the bus.”

Several students expressed their discomfort with asking Prunty about assignments or anything out of fear “she will yell and make a big scene”.

“For example, one day I had to use the bathroom in her science class and a couple of people had already asked to go to the bathroom,” one girl explained. “I mustered up the courage to ask her if I could use the bathroom (I was afraid to ask Ms. Prunty anything before this) and when I did she started yelling at me and the whole class about how we should use the bathroom in between classes and why we always use the bathroom in her class. It is very difficult for anyone to use the bathroom in between classes because my classes are on the other side of the bathrooms and we only have three minutes in between classes. I no longer use the bathroom in Ms. Prunty’s classes.”

Students are being denied lunch breaks, as well.

“Ms. Prunty held the children in the room for someone talking out of turn during lunch and several kids did not get to eat lunch,” one mother said. “This was due to the late arrival and the cafeteria already being closed so no hot lunches were available.”

However, Prunty refutes this claim.

“As far as keeping students in at lunch, that I have never done,” Prunty said. “I have used the lunch period to give makeup work or to talk to them, but it is never more than a few minutes. I always allow them lunch time. It is my lunch too. There are several teachers that do require the kids to come to their room during lunch, I have never done that unless the students themselves have asked to do it. In fact, for the past several years, as it got cooler, students would ask to stay in at lunch with me as I stay in my classroom to eat my lunch. This is a good way to have a good relationship with students and learn about them. I do not however, require this.”

But, that’s not where the accusations against Prunty end.

“One day they had the tablets out in class to go over a study guide. When Prunty asked a student to answer a question, the student said the tablet wasn’t working. She called the student a liar and told him to eat lunch with her. The same thing happened with the next three students. She just decided they must all be lying instead of checking the tablets,” said a parent.

“(A boy) was confused about what computer he was supposed to get out of a cabinet. And she got frustrated with him and grabbed him with both hands, one on each cheek and forcibly moved his head in the direction of the computer, yelled at him just inches away, and then forcibly moved his head back,” another parent explained. “Also, she humiliated him in the hallway for crying after being stung by a wasp.”

In yet another instance of classroom injustice, Prunty insisted on mispronouncing the name of a troubled student. She told him his “parents were stupid and didn’t know how to pronounce his name.”

Students at Marietta Middle School are expected to participate in an anti-bullying campaign based on building each other up rather than tearing each other down. It’s called Rachel’s Challenge. Parents and students are questioning its effectiveness under the circumstances.

“What’s the point of having the program Rachael’s challenge when the teachers are doing what they are training kids not to do?” asked a parent.

Another parent described it this way:
“What gets me is when we live in a world where we teach our children to report bulling to an authority figure where do they turn when the authority figure is the bully?”

Though many complaints have been lodged through official channels, parents believe their concerns are not being taken seriously. Prunty is a former Golden Apple award winning teacher.

Contact information for the Marietta City Schools Board of Education members can be found at:
http://www.mariettacityschools.k12.oh.us/board.aspx

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Third C8 Case Goes to Trial

This week a third C8 case will go to trial before a federal judge in Columbus.  On Monday, opening arguments will begin in the case of Kenneth Vigneron vs. DuPont. Vigneron, an Ohio resident, is alleging that he developed testicular cancer from drinking contaminated water as the result of DuPont’s Teflon manufacturing processes.

Last fall a Columbus jury awarded a kidney cancer victim $1.6 million.  This spring a testicular cancer victim was awarded $5.1 million. This will be the third such case to go to trial. More than 3,500 personal claims have been filed against DuPont so far. A fourth case is scheduled for hearing at the start of the New Year.  After that, the cases will be heard at the rate of 40 per year.

“Kenneth Vigneron is our neighbor, and his fight to hold DuPont accountable is our fight,” stated Keep Your Promises member Jeffrey Dugas. “We will ensure that Kenneth and the rest of the 3,500 plaintiffs in the DuPont case know that we stand with them and support them in this fight for accountability.”

Thanks to Ken Ward from the Charleston Gazette, you can read the complaint here:

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BOE Director Resigns after Embezzlement Arrest

One week prior to the election, the Washington County Board of Elections Director has resigned following her arrest on embezzlement charges.

Tara Hupp of State Route 26 initially denied any wrongdoing, but then admitted she had taken about $40,000 in Marietta Tiger Boosters Club funds over several years. According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, she did this by making checks out to cash, endorsing them, and placing the funds in her personal account. Hupp was treasurer of the club for the past ten years.

Following her arrest, Hupp resigned her post as director of the Washington County Board of Elections. It is expected that her position will remain open until after the election.

Deputy Director Peggy Byers explained that the job must be advertised and interviews must be conducted before the position can be filled.

“I would imagine they want to be speedy about it, but it’s going to take some time,” Byers said.

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Illegal Farm Worker Arrested for Menacing

A farm worker was arrested Tuesday in Washington County for menacing after threatening his former employer with a knife.

Gale Hartline, owner of Hartline Valley Farms, reported that a terminated and intoxicated employee stated that he would kill him while holding a knife. 43 year old Rolando Garcia-Perez stated he had consumed a bottle of Tequila but denied having a knife. During the course of the investigation, authorities discovered that Garcia-Perez was one of several illegal immigrants working at Hartline Valley Farms.

Deputies contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement who requested Garcia-Perez remain at the Washington County Jail pending their investigation, which could result in deportation.

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Counselor Convicted for Embezzlement Speaker at Children’s Justice Conference

by Lawrence J. Smith, Special Contributor to RCNN

CHARLESTON – A Parkersburg counselor previously convicted for embezzlement is among the speakers at a conference co-sponsored by the West Virginia State Police focused on curbing trauma in children who witness crime.

Yesterday, the Handle with Care Conference began at the Charleston Civic Center.  The purpose of the conference, according to a brochure, is to provide attendees the resources to “focus on a trauma-informed response to child maltreatment and children’s exposure to violence.”

The three-day event features “[s]essions,,, includ[ing] topics on the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of childhood treatment and family violence.”  Along with the State Police, it is co-sponsored by the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, a unit of WVSP, the state Department of Health and Human Resources and its Bureau for Health and Health Facilities, the state Department of Education and the West Virginia Disabilities Council.

Speaking at one of the breakout sessions late Wednesday is Felicia Lynn Davis Bush, the founder and executive director of Harmony Mental Health Inc., a non-profit mental health and social services management agency, The topic of the session is “The Therapist is IN,“

According the brochure, Bush, 53, along with Megan Lyon, a former Kanawha County elementary school teacher who now runs her own wellness company, will instruct attendees about “clarify[ing] the roles of school counselor (social worker, psychologist) and the mental health practitioner as they work together to provide trauma-informed therapeutic services in a school based setting.”

Prior to going into private practice, Bush’s biography on the brochure says she counseled, and educated people about domestic violence.  This included a stint at the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office with its victim services center.

Also, she is the vice-chairwoman of the West Virginians Against Violence Committee, an ad-hoc group that makes recommendations to the governor for programs funded by the Violence Against Women, and Victims of Crime acts.

Before beginning her advocacy work, Bush was convicted in 2000 for embezzlement.  According to court records, while working as his office manager, Bush stole over $150,000 from Dr. Mark A.Delli-Gatti, a Parkersburg dentist.

For her crime, she was ordered to serve an indeterminate 2-10 year sentence, and placed in the Pruntytown Correctional Center in Taylor County.  Over the objection of Dr. Delli-Getti, records show Bush was released on parole after serving the initial two years.

When questioned about Bush’s inclusion in the conference as a convicted felon, Andrea Darr, WVCCJ’s director, was caught-off guard.  After saying that conference speakers are selected by WVCCJ’s planning committee from people “either we know personally or are referred to us, Darr deferred any further comment about Bush until she could inquire about her prior conviction.

She did not return a follow-up phone call left with her Wednesday morning.

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Source: EWG

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