Over the course of the late 70’s and early 80’s, it became clear that Fox Valley hosted a sort of ‘mutant cluster’ the way some communities host ‘cancer clusters’. Each year one or two teenagers would ‘erupt’ with some unusual ability or physical change. Some were dramatic, but most were relatively minor. The ‘eruptions’ of special abilities seemed exclusive to adolescents going through phases of high metabolic change. All of the teens affected had lived in the area for several years. The abilities did not seem to fade post-adolescence. It’s theorized that whatever the underlying cause is, it’s probably saturated the population, but required the hormonal instability of adolescence to trigger the eruptions.
Environmentalists from all over came in, tested the ground water, air pollution, and pretty much anything else they could think of. No specific cause was found, although there was evidence of higher than normal chemical contamination in the groundwater. Several local factories were found to have been indulging in illegal dumping. The largest offender, the local paper mill, was also the town’s largest employer and wound up receiving little more than a slap on the wrist and a court order to clean up their act. They paid the fine without comment and at least managed to dump more subtly for a time after that.
After the initial furor died down, the high school managed to mainstream their ‘special abilities’ students with surprisingly little trouble. By and large, the town takes a "they may be freaks, but they’re our freaks’ sort of attitude. It also helps that relatively few of the students have really disruptive abilities.