Rockford schools testing more water for contaminants from dump; Fox 17 finds shoe scraps on land

ROCKFORD, Mich. - More Rockford schools are taking action as concerns about contaminated ground water grows in the area.

East Rockford Middle School disabled their drinking fountains Thursday after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality tested their well for contaminants from an old dumping site used by Wolverine Worldwide.  Friday, Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent for Rockford Public Schools said they’re now testing water at three other schools: Crestwood, Lakes, and Cannonsburg Elementary.   Those schools all use water from wells.  The rest of the schools in the district use municipal water that are regularly tested by either Plainfield Township or the City of Rockford.

As the investigation continues, Wolverine Worldwide is now distributing bottled water for dozens of families as they test private wells across the area. Wanda Barrentine, a Rockford resident, came home Thursday to bottled water and two $50 Meijer gift cards courtesy of Wolverine Worldwide, but says the gesture won’t take away the years of possible harm endured by her family.

“I have grand-children and children that were raised here that were probably contaminated by this water,” Barrentine said.

Wanda says her husband, Michael Stanton, has lived with two types of cancer since moving to their Rockford home in 2007. Wanda says she’s currently suffering from Thyroid issues.

“I used to exercise a lot and would drink a lot of water, and maybe this is the culprit,” Stanton said.

Part of a shoe found in yard in Rockford

After talking with Wanda, she allowed FOX 17 NEWS to walk her property, and it didn’t take long for the crew to locate what she now believes to be a former dump site. The area is littered with hunks of leather hides and scraps, rubber soles, and heavy machinery.

After finding what seemed to be remnants from a shoe manufacturing company, Stanton told FOX 17 NEWS he wants answers.

“I’m fixing to get an attorney because this is absurd and shouldn’t have happened.”

It’s still unclear when those remnants were dumped on the couple’s property. We reached out to Wolverine Worldwide but they refused to make time for an interview, saying they’re waiting on test results to come back before making a statement on-camera.

Wanda said the test results for her home should come in four weeks. As for the schools, Dr. Shibler said they’re being expedited and will come back within two weeks.

Note- an earlier version of this web story erroneously reported four schools in the Rockford Public Schools District had water shut off. However, East Rockford Middle is the only location whose water was turned off. All four schools had water tested as a precaution. 

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1 Comment

  • tracyd112

    As always I see Fox 17 is trying to make this water issue bigger then it is.Why dont you go after the developers of these properties who knowingly built on these properties where the contaminants were Burried.But I like How Fox 17 seeks out 1 of the few African American familys to make the story even racial.Good Going with your Bull shit as always.