The Flint, Michigan, water crisis started back in April 2014 after Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder and other politicos fast tracked a measure to change the source of processing Flint’s water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department directly to the Flint River–all in order to save/get money. As a result, the water became contaminated with lead and other toxins and more than a dozen people died and thousands of children and adults became seriously ill after being routinely being exposed to dangerous levels of lead based water. Since then, many studies have been done, court trials had, fundraisers created, astronomical water bills issued and a lot of the “blame game” has been played, but one thing remains: Flint residents are still without clean water.
Earlier this year, a federal magistrate approved a $97 million settlement. The order mandates that thousands of pipes made of lead and galvanized steel be replaced—a three year project. To that end, additional resources have also been allocated from federal and private sources making a total of more than $250 million being earmarked to resolve the man-made disaster.
WT Stevens Construction, a construction management and services firm based in Flint, Mich., is the only black-owned company to be awarded a service contract to replace contaminated water pipes across the city.
The Network Journal reports that WT Stevens is “one of just four companies recently contracted—under a court order—to replace more than 18,000 lead corroded pipes.”
The family-owned company was founded by W.T. Stevens in the late 1990s. When Stevens died in 2002, Rhonda Grayer and her seven siblings joined together and began the work of continuing his legacy.
The company has already readied itself for the task ahead by hiring about 20 staff, ranging from clerical and general laborers to plumbers and machine operators. Among the added personnel are ex-offenders and youth, two segments of Flint’s population the company recognizes for unique training and experience needs.
“[My father] trained many people … This is the biggest project we’ve done,” Grayer said.
Rhonda Grayer’s husband, former NBA player Jeff Grayer, serves as project manager and shared that the project is important on several levels.
“This is home for me and my family and I wasn’t going to sit back and do nothing as a person or as a businessman,” Grayer said in an exclusive interview with TNJ.com.