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Grand Rapids, Mich., dedicates historic marker to fluoridation

Grand Rapids, Mich.—The city’s historic Monroe Avenue Water Filtration Plant, where community fluoridation began in 1945, has gotten new life as the redeveloped Clear Water Place complex.

But its old life came into focus when its historic roots were celebrated in a dedication ceremony last month.

City- and state-level dignitaries as well as members of the West Michigan District Dental Society Fluoride Commemorative Committee gathered Sept. 30 as two Michigan registered historic site markers were dedicated. The markers, commemorating the establishment of Grand Rapids’ water treatment facility in 1910 and fluoridation of the city’s water in conjunction with a long-term study of the effectiveness of fluoride in preventing caries, are positioned outside the Clear Water Place complex. Built in 1912 and expanded in 1924, the renovated and restored building now contains luxury apartments and office space.

The ceremony was especially moving for Dr. Chase Klinesteker, a member of the WMDDS Fluoride Commemorative Committee, since he was a participant in the historic study by Grand Rapids, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Michigan Department of Health and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

“I was 5 years old when the study began,” said Dr. Klinesteker, a life member of the Michigan Dental Association and the ADA.

“In 1944, my father, Dr. Russell E. Klinesteker, was president of the WMDDS and was one of the people instrumental in getting the city council to participate in the study,” he said. “I remember getting exams at school. I remember being X-rayed. I also remember being given tin cylinders with wax in them. You would chew the wax and then provide saliva samples for the study.”

Dr. John Bouws and Dr. Jim Wieland were also instrumental members of the committee for the historic marker project and handled the planning, state approvals and setup. The committee has long been active and its achievements include establishing a monument near the Grand River commemorating fluoridation’s 50th anniversary, petitioning to get a commemorative stamp and commissioning the “Steel Water” sculpture that was unveiled on the riverfront in 2007.

West Michigan District Dental Society members attend the dedication ceremony Sept. 30 for a state historic site marker in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Fluoridation tribute: West Michigan District Dental Society members, from left, Dr. John Bouws, Dr. Jim Wieland and Dr. Chase Klinesteker, attend the dedication ceremony Sept. 30 for a state historic site marker at the former Monroe Avenue Water Filtration Plant in Grand Rapids, Mich. The historic marker commemorates the fluoridation of the city’s water in 1945.