The mission of Blackford County Concerned Citizens is to improve the quality of life of Blackford County, Indiana residents by reducing the incidence of diseases, primarily through citizen action to investigate the diseases that are prevalent and by advocating to have these diseases investigated.
Imagine what could be. That is the theme of Shuangwen Yang’s reimagination of what could possibly replace the current way in which the crushing operations impact the neighborhood around Hartford Iron and Metal. She envisions a memorial honoring those who have died from cancer and neurological diseases in the community and creating a place where children can safely play – a place people can be proud of and take ownership of. Listen to her describe and present her beautiful designs here. Thank you, Shuangwen, for giving of your talent and envisioning a beautiful place for our community.
One of Dr. Steiner’s students, Luis Nunez, just completed a video about our Spring Earth Day activities. As you may recall, students in Dr. Steiner’s sociology classes, the Sociology Student Association and the Communication’s Honors Society collaborated with Blackford County Concerned Citizens, the Community Harvest Food Bank and the IPFW Food Pantry to give away live vegetables to food insecure residents on Earth Day.
Students volunteered all semester—sterilizing grow beds, shoveling dirt, planting seeds, and tending seedlings– to grow vegetables in the Purdue University Fort Wayne’s greenhouse to give to the community.
Students made buttons, tied gangly plants to stakes, and canvassed neighborhoods to distribute information about the project to the community.
The idea originated with Blackford County Concerned Citizens.
As you know, BCCC and residents have been asking city officials to work with Hartford Iron & Metal (HI&M) to discuss their possible relocation to a nearby industrial site. The steel recycling plant has been contaminating the neighborhood air and water with heavy metals that are known carcinogens. If the discussion to relocate HI&M to the industrial park succeeds, a large brownfield will remain.
This pilot project was initiated to show Hartford City residents the feasibility of above-ground gardening on brownfields.
Dr. Mohammadpour’s students in a Sustainable Construction course designed an imaginary greenhouse suitable to the current lot where Hartford Iron & Metal is operating, and they showed how relocation to the industrial site would be beneficial to business expansion.
On Earth Day, many of the vegetable plants were taken to Hartford City, but we had more than enough and students were eager to share. Students helped distribute the live vegetables to students at semester’s end, and Community Harvest Food Bank was eager to help distribute the rest.
It is through projects like this, that Blackford County Concerned Citizens and the Hoosier Environmental Council are helping reduce the risk of cancer and neurological disease in Blackford County.
This project was sponsored by a START grant from the College of Arts and Sciences and a Purdue Student Service-Learning Grant that provides seed monies for research, development, and community-building projects in which faculty and students work directly with community members, civic leaders, and regional institutions to accelerate Fort Wayne’s growth and enterprise.
Purdue Fort Wayne Moss Testing Project Underway
Dr. Sherrie Steiner in the Anthropology and Sociology Department and Dr. Jordan Marshall from Biology have begun the research grant to conduct another round of moss testing. If you are interested in volunteering to help water moss stations when our hosts are away, please contact Dr. Steiner at steiners[at]pfw[dot]edu. They are looking to create a list of volunteers who can assist our station hosts. Thank you!
What a fine day we had last Saturday! The IPFW College of Arts and Sciences START program funded a record involvement of IPFW students to grow mini-gardens to give away at our events on Earth Day in Hartford City. Thank you, IPFW! Seven vans of IPFW students associated with Dr. Steiner in Sociology and Dr. LeBlanc in Communications joined us for a full morning of activities. Jabin Burnsworth also brought a carload of AP Science students from Manchester High School. Activities occurred throughout Hartford City.
Downtown Barbecue Compliments of John Oxley
Saturday was the best turn-out of citizens we have had at any event. The hub of activity was downtown at John Oxley’s barbecue. The food was quite an attraction, but Eric Evans, BCCC President, said that he personally talked with people non-stop throughout the event. Students gathered comment cards from residents and gave away mini-gardens to residents. The group made a great impression! Just look at the smiles.
Blackford Junior High School
IPFW students had posters of information about Hartford Iron and Metal at the Junior High School. They gave away mini-gardens to visitors, answered questions, and talked about future plans for additional moss testing. Dr. Frank from Hoosier Environmental Council talked with residents about the public health implications of heavy metal exposure. We are grateful to Blackford Junior High School for opening their doors and providing a place for students to present their posters. Thanks as well to Katie at Common Grounds for providing coffee and snacks.
City-Wide Trash Pick Up
IPFW students joined Hartford City residents in picking up trash to clean up city streets after this long dreary winter. There were almost as many student volunteers as there were volunteers from Hartford City! Everyone worked up an appetite for the lunch provided by John Oxley.
Library Mini-Garden Giveaway
The library was celebrating its expansion. Unfortunately, the wind came up and made the area quite chilly. Students stayed and gave away mini-gardens, but everyone was happy to get downtown to join others at John’s to warm-up and eat.
Preparing Trees for Planting
Jabin Burnworth’s students from Manchester High School prepared trees for planting in recognition of Earth Day. They took the tree bundle to the park, separated trees, and bagged them to be given away at various locations for planting.Thank you, Jabin!
Mini-Garden Giveaway in Fort Wayne!
When we collaborated with IPFW to grow mini-gardens in the IPFW greenhouse, we also collaborated with organizations in Fort Wayne. This week, more than 100 mini-gardens were given to students and food insecure residents in Fort Wayne. Faculty translated plant care instructions into Spanish, Burmese, Arabic, French and Japanese.
Community Harvest was delighted to receive the mini-gardens. This project built a lot of good will between students, the university, residents of Fort Wayne, and Blackford County Concerned Citizens.
Purdue Fort Wayne Funds Moss Testing!
Dr. Sherrie Steiner in the Anthropology and Sociology Department and Dr. Jordan Marshall from Biology applied for a research grant to conduct another round of moss testing. If you live near Hartford Iron and Metal and are interested in hosting a moss station on your property, please contact Dr. Steiner at steiners[at]pfw[dot]edu. They are looking to identify nine locations by the end of June. Thank you!
Blackford County Concerned Citizens is giving away free growing vegetables and distributing information about relocating Hartford Iron and Metal. Dr. Indra Frank will be present to answer any questions about health risks associated with pollution. IPFW students will be presenting information about air and groundwater conditions.
Fugitive Dust – Dust that moves over Hartford Iron and Metal’s property line is a violation of state rules (326 IAC 6-4 and 6-5)
Storm Water – If it runs off of Hartford Iron and Metal untreated, it is a violation of their Agreed Order
Open Burning – Such that “air contaminants resulting from combustion are emitted directly into the air, without passing through a stack or chimney” is prohibited in Indiana except for campfires and certain agricultural maintenance (326 IAC 4)
Here is a sample letter you can use for writing your own response:
[Date – must be posted by June 12, 2017]
ATTN: Ms. Kerlann Bunch, Permit Manager
100 N. Senate Ave.
Mail Code 65/42PS
Indianapolis, IN 46204
[OR you can email written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dear Ms. Kerlann Bunch, Permit Manager,
We are requesting that IDEM convene a Public Hearing with regards to Hartford Iron and Metal. There has been a significant amount of rain during the past several weeks with a substantial of water runoff not being captured by the existing system. There has been no demonstration of how the proposed system will be successful in treating the runoff water issue. Additionally, the proposed system amounts to an expansion of the existing facility.
Recent investigation and research indicates that fugitive dust contaminated by significant amounts of arsenic, lead, chromium, cadmium and nickel is being deposited on the surrounding landscape in the residential neighborhood – upwind as well as downwind from Hartford Iron and Metal. This suggests that the contaminated fugitive dust is not being carried by the wind, but is generated onsite by ongoing Hartford Iron and Metal activities. The contaminated dust is then washed during rainfall into the stormwater drainage system. This stormwater needs to be addressed as well as the stormwater coming directly off of the site.
Please notify us of your intention.
[all requests must include your name, contact information, address, phone and email if you have one)]
Do you have concerns about public health in your community? Do you want investigation into possible pollution sights in your neighborhood? Are you proud to live in Blackford County? Then come share your concerns with the community!
You are invited to participate in the Blackford County Concerned Citizens’ (BCCC) Photo Voice Project!
Please join us on March 19th at City Hall. We want to hear you share your story!