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Concerned River Valley Families:
August 11, 1999
When the River Valley environmental investigation began in the summer of 1997, there was a single burning question: Why are so many graduates from Rover Valley getting cancer? The Ohio EPA was called in to try to find some answers. After all, the school was built on property once belonging to the Marion Engineer Depot. Could that be a clue?
Paul Jayko became involved in June 1997. We immediately say that he was a man doing the job that we would not only want him to do, but would expect him to do. The Marion Engineer Depot had been closed for over 30 years. Paul realized that the past employees of the Depot would likely know more of the day-to-day operations and potential trouble spots on the property. He soon learned that much of the waste generated by this large military facility was dumped and burned in trenches and pits on the east end of the depot where the schools now sit. Historical aerial photos and two years of investigation now reveal a landfill covering approximately 60 acres on several properties including the school grounds.
Paul pursued this situation in the thorough way someone in his position should, to assure that all aspects were being investigated. After all, children were continuing to attend the school. There was a leukemia cluster. This was not just another landfill. Paul never lost sight of that. Many others did.
Paul realized that two schools housing over 850 students would have many parents demanding answers. He did not take that lightly. He always made it a priority to assure that any questions were answered to the best of his ability. We were never made to feel that asking a question made us a nuisance, or that we were being supplied with canned answers. Paul respected the fact that the parents deserved answers.
We saw in Paul a man determined to find answers, a man determined to do the job he was assigned to do. Science should lead the way. Pathways of exposure needed to be analyzed. Exactly where could the children be potentially exposed? Air, water, contact with the soil? Paul focused on the most likely problems and what it would take scientifically to eliminate them as pathways of concern. Others were willing to just say, "There are no pathways" before the testing had even begun. What were the most potential hotspots? Where had the chemical dumping occurred?
Paul realized the value of focusing the investigation to match the history of the site. He called the past employees. He walked the grounds with them. Paul was not afraid to glean all of the information he could for fear he would then have to do something about it. Many others were.
Paul Jayko has earned the support and respect of everyone in Marion who has worked with him. The Concerned River Valley Families have been involved since the beginning of this investigation. We have seen the course of events, booth scientific and political, play out. We want Paul reinstated as the site coordinator at River Valley. No more appeals! How much more time, money and effort is to be thrown at this case? How unfortunate that these resources were not used to further the investigation at River Valley. How much nearer might we be to arriving at an answer? What message must this undeserved, unnecessary trial be sending to other EPA employees? To any other investigator on the River Valley case?
We are asking that Governor Taft meet with Concerned River Valley Families to discuss this issue. Governor Taft needs to see all perspectives surrounding this case. We want to give him a perspective other than the one of the agency that is pursuing these charges.
Not only does Paul Jayko deserve to be reinstated to his job of site coordinator at River Valley, the parents and children deserve to have him there.