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Flora stages forum to hear concerns about Ripon cancers

Nearly 60 parents packed a Ripon town hall meeting arranged by Assemblyman Heath Flora to voice concerns about public health issues — specifically about a rash of cancer cases — and about the possible role a Sprint wireless cell tower and the shuttered Nestle decaffeinated coffee plant might have played, if any.

“Tonight was about us as leaders listening to the people and their concerns,” Flora said. “I am a husband and a father with two little girls who live in this town. We all deserve answers to the questions we have, and my office will work hard to help deliver answers to the questions brought to us tonight.” 

Flora invited local leadership from the City of Ripon and the Ripon Unified School District. Sprint was also asked to attend and sent staff to participate in the meeting. During the meeting, 15 speakers from the 56 people attending addressed the crowd to share their concerns relating to public health in the community.

Parents had said they had hoped to hear from Sprint representatives of the Sprint but that didn’t happen, rather they just listened to speaker after speaker address their concerns.

Flora thanked everyone who attended the meeting for keeping the discussion civil. Addressing the crowd, he said he was pleased to confirm that Sprint has shut down the cell tower at Weston Elementary School and that they were already in the process of relocating the cell tower in question.  He also promised continued public discussions and future forums to ensure continued open communication between the residents of Ripon, local leadership and his office.  

Kellie Prime took to the microphone and told of her frustration saying she was not getting anywhere in getting answers or learning what was going to be done about the cancer cases involving four children and three adults.

 “It’s devastating to see what everyone is going through – let’s fix it. I have to decide whether I am going to stay here in Ripon or not,” Prime said.

Her husband, Joe, said, “What it boils down to there are too many cancers diagnosed in one location. I also question the water quality in this town.  Can we get off of the well water and take clean water from the river?”

Corry Price, standing in the back of the room, told the group, “I’ve been living here all my life.  There is something going on with too many people on one road near Hammett dying of cancer.  The level for phones was limited to 2G in 1996 when the levels and policy were established.  Now it has upped to 5 G which is going to be hard to get rid of after it goes in.”

Rusty Williams was concerned with the city’s testing of the tap water from wells offering an annual consumer confidence report that doesn’t mention any toxology level in the water, he said, adding that the Geo Technical Services have been testing for years with Nestle testing water samples on a monthly basis. 

“I’d like to see the city of Ripon give us a toxology report,” he stressed. 

Kelly Swier asked for a layout of the cell tower locations throughout Ripon.  She contended that Sprint has had a difference in their readings from the tower and wanted to know why the difference in their testing. 

No one from the city, the school district or from Sprint said anything during the hour-long forum though they were all in attendance. 

Flora did take a list of their concerns and said he would find the answers and get back to them in another session. 

“This community is at its best when we are united to solve problems,” Flora added. “Tonight, showed that the people of Ripon could respect each other, listen to each other and work together in the finest tradition of our close community.”

To contact Glenn Kahl, email