About

About: This tab contains information on the two broad categories of our ‘Mission,’ provides information on meetings and how to contact the Task Force, identifies our membership and leadership, including our by-laws and contains minutes of our monthly meetings and monthly financial reports and general descriptions of our sources of funds.  This tab concludes with a summary of the laws that broadly apply to our work.

Mission: The Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force (usually called the Task Force on this website) is an  officially recognized Community Advisory Group or CAG of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formed un under EPA regulations (OSWERD Directive 9230.0-28). The Task Force decide in January 1998, when it formed, to incorporate as a
Michigan Non-Profit Corporation and to apply for tax exempt status.

While the initial impetus for creating the Task Force related to an EPA ‘Emergency Removal Action in the Pine River adjacent to the closed Michigan Chemical/Velsicol plant in St. Louis, it was decided to both use the name “Pine River,” not “Velsicol,” to reflect concerns with the wider watershed and other sources of pollution and threats to human health. By incorporating as a Michigan Non-profit, the Task Force also insisted on its freedom to move from a simple focus on Superfund and to give equal attention to issues of both the environment and human health.

Monthly Meetings: The Task Force has held and continues to hold monthly meetings open to the public on the third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. Except during the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings have been held at St. Louis City Hall, 300 N. Mill St., St. Louis,
Michigan 48880. While the public is welcomed to attend monthly meetings, only paid Members ($5.00 annual dues) may vote.

We want to encourage people, especially students and other young people, to attend and ask questions and make comments at meetings. There are no dumb questions. The Members of the Task Force are not experts but have become informed and are able to participate in the public policy process related to the region’s contamination by attending meetings and reading public documents about our environmental and human health challenges. Please join us!

Contacting the Task Force:
The Task Force mailing address is Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, Box 172, St. Louis, MI 48880

        For phone contact please call Ed Lorenz at (989) 463-6170 if you have questions.

       To email us, use lorenz@alma.edu.

Membership: The By-Laws of the Task Force state that membership is open to any persons in the Pine River watershed and other parties interested in the proper and complete cleanup of the Velsicol Superfund Site and related sites in the Pine River Basin. To become an individual or family member you must pay $5.00 per year to the Treasurer.

We welcome people and families to be ‘Contributing Members’ by paying $25.00 per year. Only Members can vote at meetings; however, we must emphasize, however, that the public is invited to attend and participate in discussions at all meetings.

 

Leadership Team: The Task Force has a formal election process for officers.  Every two years we hold elections at the last Monthly Public Meeting of the year when terms of service end.  Only paid Members may vote and hold office. The current elected people are:

Jane Keon, Chair: A founding member of the Task Force, Jane has served four terms as secretary, and previously served as Chair from 2002-2013.  Jane raised her children on the river downstream from Velsicol Chemical Corporation.  She is also a grandmother and great-grandmother.  Her memoir of the first 16 years of the Task Force efforts (1998-2013) was published in 2015 and is available on Amazon under the title Tombstone Town.  She will publish volume 2 in 2024.  She can be emailed at jkeon@charter.net.

Ed Lorenz, Vice Chair: Ed has served as a leader of the Task Force since 1998.  He is a retired professor of public policy at Alma College, where his teaching included environmental and public health policy.  He has written a half dozen published books and articles on the lessons of the region’s contamination.  He can be reached at lorenz@alma.edu or (989) 463-6170.

Brittany Fremion, Secretary: Brittany has been directing The Michigan PBB Oral History Project since 2018.  She is associate Professor of History at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI.  Her email is Fremi1b@cmich.edu

Gary Smith, Treasurer: Gary has served as a member and usually Treasurer of the Task Force since its founding in 1998. He is a long-term resident of ST. Louis and worked briefly at Michigan Chemical during the closure of the plant.  Gary’s can be reached by email at gjsgilmore@yahoo.com

Other Members of the Board of Directors (often called the Executive Committee):

Nikki Brabaw. Wayne Brooks, Jim Hall, Margaret Hoyt, and Norm Keon

.Our Finances: This section summarizes sources of our funding. Monthly reports from the Treasurer are part of the Monthly Meeting Minutes.  

Other than Member’s dues and extra contributions, the Task Force has received funds from the following:

  1. As a Community Advisory Group (CAG) to U.S. EPA, the Task Force is allowed to apply for Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) designed to help (in the words from the U.S. EPA website): “[C]ommunities participate in Superfund cleanup decision-making. It provides funding to community groups to contract their own technical advisor to interpret and explain technical reports, site condi­tions, and EPA’s proposed cleanup proposals and decisions. An initial grant up to $50,000 is available to qualified community groups.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Congress made public involvement in decision-making an important part of the Superfund process when the program was established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. Congress wanted to ensure that the people whose lives were affected by abandoned hazardous wastes would have a say in the actions taken to clean up sites. The role of community members in the Superfund process was further strengthened in the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA). With SARA, Congress created EPA’s TAG program. TAGs are available at Superfund sites on EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) or proposed for listing on the NPL, and for which a response action has begun. The NPL is a list of the most hazardous waste sites nationwide.”  (text from U.S. EPA website 8/8/20)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Task Force has received multiple TAGs since our founding in 1998.  Under the TAGs we have paid multiple experts to provide us with interpretation of EPA decisions. 
  1. In 2005 the Task Force won a bankruptcy settlement against Oxford Automotive Inc. in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that resulted in receipt of approximately $100,000. That fund has been devoted to funding activities not appropriate for TAG funding, including a study of bords dying of DDT poisoning and support for two human health conferences, the Eugene Kenaga International DDT Conference in 2008 and the Intergenerational Risk from Environmental Contamination conference in 2016.

By-Laws – Below is the text of the By-Laws that govern operation of the Task Force:

Article I -Membership and dues
Section 1 – Any person(s) in the Pine River watershed and other parties interested in the proper and complete cleanup of the Velsicol Superfund Site and related sites in the Pine River Basin who applies for membership in any classification of membership and who tenders the necessary dues shall thereby become a member
Section 2 – Annual dues for individual active members shall be $5.00 per family.
Section 3 – Annual dues for contributing members shall be $25.00.
Section 4 – Annual dues shall be payable in advance, and members in arrears more than six
months after payment is due shall be dropped from membership.

Article II – Schedule and Quorum for Meetings
Section 1 – Regular meetings of the Task Force shall be held monthly.
Section 2 – Special meetings may be called by the Chairperson.
Section 3 – The Board of Directors shall meet when necessary. Meetings shall be called by the Chairperson of the Board or any 2 Officers.
Section 4 – Seven active members of the Task Force shall constitute a quorum.

Article III – Duties of the Officers and Directors
Section 1 – The Chair shall have executive supervision over the activities of the Task Force
within the scope provided by these Bylaws. The Chair shall preside at all meetings, shall report annually on the activities of the Society’ and shall appoint the members of the committees and delegates not otherwise provided for.
Section 2 – The Vice chair shall assume the duties of the Chair in the event of an absence,
incapacity or resignation of the Chair.
Section 3 – The treasurer shall maintain bank accounts, oversee financial transactions and
financial policies, formulate budgets and provide financial reports to the Board of Directors and Membership. Bills shall be paid out by numbered checks signed by any two of the following: Treasurer, Secretary, Chair or Vice Chair. The Treasurer will collect dues for Membership, maintain a list of dues-paying members and shall render an annual report at year’s end. The Treasurer shall assume the duties of the Chair in the event of the absence, incapacity or resignation of both the Chair and Vice Chair.
Section 4 – The Secretary shall keep the minutes of the meeting of the organization and of the Board of Directors, submit quarterly reports of activities, draft letters in accord with the Chair and render an annual report at years end.
Section 5 – The Board of Directors shall have the power to conduct all affairs of the Task Force.  It shall select candidates for office, pursuant to the constitution. The Board of Directors shall decide questions of the policy that for any reason cannot be acted upon at a meeting of the Task Force and perform such other functions as designed in the Bylaws or otherwise assigned to it.
Section 6 – The membership shall elect at least three members to serve on the Board of Directors at the biennial election. These elected members will serve for a two-year term.
At any meeting of the Board of Directors, four members shall constitute a quorum. The Board of Directors will elect its own Chairperson. The Board of Directors, through the Chairperson, shall render an annual report at each annual meeting.

Article IV

Section 1 – The Task Force shall have the following standing Committees:
1)Technical Committee – Responsible for meeting regularly to read technical reports, to review technical and scientific data, and to report to the Membership with recommendations
2) Legal Committee – to meet as needed to consider filing claims in bankruptcy court, to request information from attorneys, to initiate lawsuits and other legal actions that may be required, and to report to the Membership with recommendations
3) Health Committee – to meet as needed to pursue grants, organize conferences, to seek medical and community health information and to report to the Membership with recommendations.
Section 2 – The Chair shall appoint members and chairperson of the standing committees.
Section 3 – Other committees, standing or special, may be appointed by the Chair as directed by the society or Board of Directors.

Article V
The rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order shall govern the proceedings of the Task Force, except in such cases as are governed by the constitution of Bylaws.

Article VI – Amendment to the Bylaws

These Bylaws may be amended at any regular or adjourned meeting by a two-thirds vote of those voting, provided not less than 14 days notice was given at the previous meeting. Or they may be amended at a special meeting called for that purpose, with a previous 14 day notice given and a two-thirds vote. All proposed amendments must be submitted in writing.

Amendments to Bylaws:
February 3, 2009. Added Section 6 to Article III.
February 27, 2009. Changed the standing committees.
September 18, 2013. Changed section 2, 3 and 4 of Article III