WWAY, StarNews, WHQR to host public forum on GenX Wednesday

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As concerns continue about the safety of the region’s drinking water, three newsrooms are joining forces to better bring the public into the conversation.

WWAY News, StarNews Media and HQR News 91.3 are sponsoring a GenX Forum Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium.

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The forum will be streamed live here on WWAYTV3.com and broadcast live on the radio on WHQR 91.3 FM. Coverage will appear at StarNewsOnline.com and in the print edition of the StarNews.

Click here for continuing coverage of the GenX situation

“When a story impacts so many people, you have to pull out all the stops to help inform them. This is the sort of thing that the partnership between WWAY and the StarNews is all about,” WWAY News Director Kevin Wuzzardo said. “The StarNews deserves all the credit for breaking this story, but it’s been amazing how our teams have worked together when we can to keep moving this story forward and keep getting answers. It’s not about getting the scoop. It’s about making sure the public gets the information it needs, and through our partnership and with WHQR joining us on this forum, we are able to leverage the power of TV, radio, print and Internet to serve the community like no one else can.”

Speakers will address several topics during the forum, and panelists will answer questions submitted by the public.

Admission to the forum is free with tickets that will be distributed at the door. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

“It’s very important that we pull the community into this story and be an outlet for their voices. This forum is one way we’re doing that,” said Pam Sander, executive editor of the StarNews and NC Coastal Group Editor for GateHouse Media. “This is the most important work the StarNews is doing and will do for some time to come, and needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Partnering with WWAY and WHQR ensures this gets to readers, watchers and listeners. We’re thankful they have joined us.”

To submit water-related questions in advance of the forum, Tweet with the #genxilm hashtag, post your question on the StarNews or WWAY NEWS Facebook pages, or email water@starnewsonline.com, newsroom@wwaytv3.com or coastline@whqr.org.

“As a news organization dedicated to community engagement and civil discourse, WHQR shares the sentiments expressed recently by StarNews editors which might be summed up this way: We’re not ending our coverage until the public has all the answers it deserves,” WHQR News Director Rachel Lewis Hillburn said.

Forum panelists

New Hanover County Commissioners’ Chairman Woody White will be the main speaker on the topic of what’s being done to address the issue of GenX in the water supply. CFPUA board Chairman Mike Brown and Executive Director Jim Flechtner also will speak on the topic.

Speaking about the human impacts of GenX will be Philip Tarte, New Hanover County health director; Larry Cahoon, a marine biologist at UNCW who specializes in aquatic ecology; and Stan Harts, director of Environmental Health and Safety at UNCW.

Sander and environmental lawyer Megan M. Hunter will speak about legal and moral issues related to GenX.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and Natalie English, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, will address the economic impact of the water crisis.

Officials with the NC departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services said the agencies were interested in attending the forum, but had not yet decided who would be there.

Representatives of Chemours were invited to participate in the forum, but had not committed to attend as of Friday morning. An invitation has also been extended to the American Chemistry Council, a trade association of which Chemours is a member, but the organization has not responded.

Moderators for the forum will be Si Cantwell, community editor for the StarNews; Amanda Fitzpatrick, evening anchor for WWAY; and Vince Winkel, reporter for WHQR.