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Vape store owner responds to ban order

WHITEHALL – Cloud Nine Vape owner Peter McCarthy agreed efforts need to be made by the industry to keep vaping materials out of the hands and mouths of minors, but he doesn’t agree that Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency ban on all flavored nicotine vaping products in retail and online businesses should be the first step.

Governor Whitmer, last Wednesday, ordered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency rules to ban the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in retail stores and online, and ban misleading marketing of vaping products.

The order is meant to keep minors from getting vaping products.

McCarthy, whose store is located at 614 E. Colby St., Whitehall, said the emergency order will also keep vaping products out of the possession of people who are vaping as a method ceasing their smoking of tobacco products.

McCarthy said he was a pack a day smoker in high school, and now vapes, rather than smoke tobacco.

The owner said, while there are no long term studies on the safety of vaping, it is now a safer alternative to smoking tobacco. “Cigarettes are like inhaling by-products of combustion.” In vaping, the user inhales an aerosol vapor.

Customers are carded for confirmation of their age at Cloud Nine Vape before purchasing products to ensure they aren’t sold to minors. according to the owner. McCarthy said he once refused to sell to an 18-year-old customer because his companion in the store was a minor. “He asked her what flavor to buy,” the owner explained his action. “They weren’t happy.”

McCarthy said on Thursday that his store received over 60 calls from customers wondering if they can buy vaping products with the ban in effect.

Following was his response on the store’s Facebook pace. “Everyone take a big deep breath of delicious flavored juice. As of now it is business as usual at Cloud 9 Vapor! We will keep you updated with any information we get.”

McCarthy said he welcomes any regulations which will keep vaping materials away from minors, but he believes the online business needs to be regulated now.

“A minor can buy vaping products online if they have access to a credit or debit card. All they have to do is check a box stating they are not a minor.”

The owner said vaping retailers have 30 days to comply with the emergency order.

“This is not the answer,” he added.

Governor bans types of vaping products

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer took aggressive action Wednesday to protect Michigan kids from the harmful effects of vaping. These actions include making Michigan the first state in the nation to ban flavored nicotine vaping products.

After her Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, made a finding that youth vaping constitutes a public health emergency, Governor Whitmer ordered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency rules to ban the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in retail stores and online, and ban misleading marketing of vaping products, including the use of terms like “clean,” “safe,” and “healthy” that perpetuate beliefs that these products are harmless. The governor also ordered the Michigan Department of Transportation to enforce an existing statute to prohibit the advertising of vapor products on billboards.

“As governor, my number one priority is keeping our kids safe,” said Governor Whitmer. “And right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today. Our kids deserve leaders who are going to fight to protect them. These bold steps will finally put an end to these irresponsible and deceptive practices and protect Michiganders’ public health.”

“Governor Whitmer has taken bold and appropriate action in response to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “In the absence of robust regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, we know shockingly little about the health impact of e-cigarettes being widely marketed to youth and adults. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarette use has only added to the uncertainty and increased the need for immediate action. What we do know is nicotine is highly addictive and has adverse effects on the developing brain, and flavors strongly appeal to youth. Gov. Whitmer’s action will protect Michiganders, particularly the state’s youth, from the known and unknown potential health risks of e-cigarette use. We urge the FDA to move urgently to protect public health and exercise strict oversight over all e-cigarette products.”

On June 4 of this year, Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bills 106 and 155, which clarify that it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes and other non-traditional nicotine products to minors. In her signing message to the Legislature, Governor Whitmer criticized the legislation for not going far enough to protect Michigan’s kids from nicotine addiction, calling the marketing, packaging, and taste of e-cigarettes a “bait-and-switch” engineered to “create new nicotine addicts.”

“In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosive increase in the number of Michigan kids exposed to vaping products,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the State of Michigan and chief deputy director for health at MDHHS. “This is a public health crisis. These products can contain harmful chemicals that put our kids’ health at risk. I’m looking forward to working with Governor Whitmer to mitigate these effects and keep our kids healthy.”

From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use spiked 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students. In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. kids, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students were regular users. These rates are still climbing, likely fueled by the availability of flavors akin to apple juice, bubble gum, and Nerds.

Clinton Twp. man drowns in White River

A Clinton Township man drowned in the White River in northern Muskegon County early Sunday morning, Sept. 1.

According to the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department, emergency personnel were dispatched to the White River Campground at 735 W. Fruitvale Rd. in Muskegon County’s Blue Lake Township at approximately 2:30 a.m. for a water emergency. The release indicates dispatched reported that a witness stated a subject was walking away from a campsite, lost his balance and fell into the White River. The release further indicates the victim surfaced briefly, then went back under water. The caller was unable to locate the victim.

According to the release, at approximately 3:18 a.m., the victim was located by firefighters, CPR was attempted, but was unsuccessful and the victim pronouced dead. He was identified as Pawel Marek Kuras, 37, of Clinton Township. According to the release, he was camping at the campground with his family. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in this incident.

The Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Blue Lake Twp. Fire Department, Dalton Twp. Fire Department, White Lake Ambulance Authority and the Muskegon County Victim Services Unit.

Planning commission approves site plan for solar farm

MONTAGUE TWP. – After two-and-a-half hours of discussion, the planning commission, last Wednesday, approved the site plan for construction of a proposed solar farm on Dennis and Gail Sikkenga’s Windy Acres Farm, 9691 Sikkenga Rd.

By approving the site plan review California based solar company Cypress Creek Renewables can now sign a power purchase agreement with Consumers Energy. This agreement will allow Cypress Creek Renewables to sell the electricity generated by the panels to Consumers Energy.

The site plan review was originally scheduled to happen in early August, but was delayed when residents spoke up about not receiving notice about the project, and the application was received later than expected. Two meetings were then scheduled to allow for public comment and to vote on the site plan. The first of these meetings was on Tuesday, Aug. 27, and residents by this point seemed more receptive to the proposed solar farm.

The second was last Wednesday, Sept. 4. At the start of the meeting Chairman Dave Francis said Cypress Creek Renewables submitted all the required material for the site plan review, but there were a few things the commission wanted to go into more detail with before approving.

Project developer Dewey Klurfield said he submitted his application document in the early part of August. He said what has been submitted has been changed based on requests made at previous meetings.

“It is not that different. There are no gimmicks or bells or whistles hidden in there (site plan review). Everything that I’ve said in the meetings is in there,” said Klurfield.

“There have been some changes as a result of the two public meetings we’ve had most recently that we’re not reflected in that application document, because they’ve been changed to address concerns.”

Francis said that those revisions included a change to the plans for the vegetative buffer and fencing. Both the vegetative buffer and the fencing were discussed at length during the meeting.

The proposed evergreen tree buffer wasn’t looked upon as being a favorable solution for masking certain portions of the fence that will be built around the solar farm.

One resident said she would like the viewscape to be an exemplary example of what can be done with a solar panel project, and would like it to be something to be proud of.

Francis, who owns Montague Tree Farm, advised against the use of evergreen trees on the Sikkenga Road portion of the fence. He said trees could grow beyond 15-feet, and suggested juniper plants as a possible alternative.

The resident who brought up having the viewscape be exemplary requested a more random looking assortment of plants along the road.

Klurfield said Cypress Creek Renewables would be working with a landscape architecture firm somewhere in the Midwest, possibly Michigan. However, the plants being chosen would come from local stock.

Native grasses and trees were also suggested, and Klurfield said they are typically cheaper to maintain.

Spacing was also discussed with the plants, trees and grasses. They are to be spaced 15 to 25 feet at some parts and 10 to 15 feet at other parts.

The original proposed fence was meant to include barbed wire at the top of it. After the Aug. 27 meeting it was determined that Cypress Creek Renewables would be willing to do a higher seven-foot fence and not have barbed wire.

At the site plan review it was requested to do something more visually appealing than chain link. Possibly, an orchard fence in place of the chain link.

However, Klurfield said doing an orchard fence could possibly be more expensive. The planning commission along with the residents in attendance discussed possibly looking into an orchard fence and reducing costs around the vegetative buffer.

“If we do an orchard fence I think I would have to run the numbers, but I’m pretty sure it would have to be a substantially less vegetative buffer around everything we proposed,” said Klurfield.

Later, the planning commission settled on the chain link fence since it was not only cost effective, but is expected to last longer than an orchard fence.

Toward the top of the meeting, but not spoken about at the same length as the vegetative buffer and fence, was whether or not Cypress Creek should notify residents about the construction schedule. During construction it is expected that for a three week period the company will be using pile drivers.

Due to the noise of the pile drivers, the planning commission decided a notice should be given as a neighborly gesture to the residents. The pile driving is expected to be nosiest part of the construction. The operation is expected to be in operation during normal business hours.

Cypress Creek Renewables will also be putting in between three to four access roads that will lead to the solar farm on the Sikkenga’s property. Klurfield said the roads will be temporary during the early stages of construction, and something more permanent will be added toward the end.

Construction is expected to begin in May 2020.