Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ride the Keweenaw 2016 offers bike events May 27-29

Poster for Ride the Keweenaw 2016. (Poster courtesy Christopher Schmidt)

HOUGHTON -- Thanks to warm weather and dedicated volunteers, the local mountain bike trails are ready for the annual trail celebration and showcase that is Ride the Keweenaw May 27, 28, 29, 2016.

The weekend will start out in Greenland this Friday evening, May 27, with a mountain bike ride through the Adventure Mine, then continue on Saturday with guided group rides at Michigan Tech Trails, Churning Rapids and Swedetown Trails. Also hosted at the Michigan Tech Trails on Saturday are a basic mountain bike skills clinic and a jumping clinic.

A participant in the 2015 Ride the Keweenaw Enduro Race meets the challenge of Copper Harbor Trails. (Photo courtesy Christopher Schmidt)

On Sunday, the event moves north to Copper Harbor for the Lake Superior Gravity Series Enduro Race #1, a trail scavenger hunt, Taste of the Harbor fundraiser featuring four favorite local restaurants (including the Mariner North, Pines Resort, The Fitz, and Jamsen’s Bakery), music with the Dave Brotherton Band and Art Bike in the Harbor poster show.

Art Bike at The Harbor poster show

Poster for the first annual Art Bike at The Harbor. (Poster courtesy Christopher Schmidt)

The Copper Harbor Trails Club (CHTC) invites everyone to their our first annual Art Bike at The Harbor, beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at the Copper Harbor Community Building in the park during Ride the Keweenaw! This is a poster show featuring 11 regional artists and photographers. Each artist will depict his or her favorite trail of the Copper Harbor Trail System in a limited edition giclee print.

CHTC is selling only 40 prints of each poster, so come buy yours for $25 each. All proceeds will benefit the building of the Keweenaw Point Trail. Enjoy art, artists, beer, wine and snacks, Sunday night during Ride the Keweenaw!

Trails featured will be: Flow, Dancing Bear, Downtown, Red Trail, Overflow, On the Edge, Garden Brook, Keweenaw Point Trail, Flying Squirrel, Stairway to Heaven.

CHTC would like to thank participating artists Jaimie Bourgo, Jackie Johnson, Amy Oestreich, Taj Mihelich, Christopher Schmidt, Gary Barden, Steve Brimm, Chris Miller Photography, Aaron Howard of AMG Stategies, Chris Guibert.

The Art show will be going on simultaneously with Taste of the Harbor and music by the Dave Brotherton Band! Get your Taste of the Harbor tickets before they are gone.

Click here to Register for events. Click here for the Schedule.

Note for volunteers: Ride guides are still needed for Saturday's Ride the Keweenaw Events!!!

MTU Trails - 9a.m. - 11 a.m.: Have 3 -- NEED 5 more!

Churning Rapids: 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.: Have 2 -- NEED 4 more!!

Swedetown: Ride guides needed here as well -- contact Gail Neufeld at

If you can help at Churning Rapids or Tech contact Dan Dalquist at 906-370-2206.

Monday, May 23, 2016

North Woods Conservancy invites non-professional photographers to enter 2016 Photo Contest: Photowalk is May 29

Thimbleberries. Photography by Ann Marie Dodge. This photo took First Place in the Wildlife category of the 2015 North Woods Conservancy Photo Contest. NWC's 2016 Photo Contest begins this month. (Photo © Ann Marie Dodge and courtesy North Woods Conservancy.)

CALUMET -- It's time for the North Woods Conservancy (NWC) 2016 "Get to Know the North Woods" Photo Contest for non-professional photographers of all ages. You don’t have to have a fancy camera. You don’t have to be an expert on the plants and animals of the Keweenaw. Digital photos must be taken in Fall-Winter of 2015, or in 2016, at a North Woods Natural Area:  Conglomerate Falls, Dore Woods, Gratiot River North, Merganser Pond or Seven Mile Point.

Photos can be submitted online from May 31 - September 26, 2016. The three categories are 1. Wildlife (plants, animals, bugs and birds); 2. Scenery (landscape, skyscape, natural features); and 3. People Playing (people enjoying NWC Natural Areas). The photos should tell a story about the photographer’s personal experience at the area visited. For example, does the photograph tell us something that surprised you? Puzzled you? Amazed you? Made you smile? If you can tell your story through a photograph, this contest is for you!

PRIZES! $50 first prize, $25 second prize, and $15 third prize plus a 2017 membership in NWC for each prize winner. The winning photos will be displayed in print and on-line media.

Photowalk May 29 at Seven Mile Point

Beach at Seven Mile Point. In 2001 the North Woods Conservancy (NWC) purchased this ecologically sensitive parcel, located on the north shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Allouez Township, for protection and limited public access. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

As part of the contest, the Conservancy's John Dodge will lead a photowalk at 1 p.m. next Sunday, May 29, at the Seven Mile Point Natural Area. There is a short path down to nearly 2,000 feet of gorgeous Lake Superior shoreline, including sand and cobble beach, and the 1.1 billion year old bedrock point itself. Meet at the parking area for Seven Mile Point at 12:45 p.m.

Directions: from US 41 or M 26: follow Five Mile Point Road (7.0 miles from Ahmeek, 4.8 miles from Eagle River) and turn west on Sunset Bay Road. After 0.8 miles (at the Sunset Bay Campground entrance), turn left on Seven Mile Point Road and proceed 1.2 miles to the NWC gate. The parking area is located about 300 yards beyond the gate. For more information, contact John Dodge at 906-281-4865 or

How to participate

Go out and take some photos in the NWC natural areas! Choose up to ten photos that tell the best stories to enter into the "Get to Know the North Woods" contest. Each photo entered into the contest:

a. Must be uploaded as a JPEG file of 5MB or smaller.

b. Must be a minimum of 1600 pixels on the longest side. Higher resolution (more pixels) is encouraged in order to produce good quality display photos. iPhone photographers should upload using "Actual Size."

c. Must have been shot by the person entering the contest during the time period September 1, 2015, to September 26, 2016.

d. Must be suitable for family viewing, as determined by the North Woods Conservancy.

You will need an entry form for each photo. Click here for the entry form to cut and paste from the NWC Web site. See also more details, instructions and judging criteria on this same NWC Web page.

For more information contact John Dodge or Ruth Mohr at

Friday, May 20, 2016

Action Alert: Citizens oppose Aquila Back Forty sulfide mine!

From Save the Wild U.P.:

This photo shows how close the proposed open-pit sulfide mine could be to the Menominee River. (Photo courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

MARQUETTE -- Citizen opposition to the Aquila Back Forty project is growing -- ADD YOUR VOICE!

Please take a moment to let Michigan’s elected officials know that you oppose the Back Forty open pit sulfide mine, proposed for the bank of the Menominee River. First, click to READ THE LETTER OF OPPOSITION. Feel free to add your own specific concerns to the letter. When you’re ready, click SIGN AND SEND NOW -- it’s that simple!

Your letter will be sent to Michigan State Representatives Ed McBroom, John Kivela, and Scott Dianda; State Senator Tom Casperson; Governor Rick Snyder; U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow; and U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek. It will also be sent to Director Bill Moritz (Michigan DNR), Director Keith Creagh (Michigan DEQ), and Joe Maki (DEQ). Additional info is available on the DEQ’s website:,4561,7-135-3311_18442---,00.html.

Editor's Note: For more background on why Save the Wild U.P. opposes the Back 40 project, see "Save the Wild U.P.: Will Michigan DEQ reject fraudulent Back Forty mine permit?"

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bike Initiative Keweenaw: Enjoy Green Film on bikes May 19; Bike to Work May 20

The Keweenaw's BIKE TO WORK DAY is Friday, May 20 -- sponsored by Bike Initiative Keweenaw. (Poster courtesy Joshua Myles and Bike Initiative Keweenaw)

HOUGHTON -- Bike Initiative Keweenaw invites everyone to two events this week:

For inspiration: The 2015 film Bikes v. Cars, this month's Green Film Series selection, will be shown from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., followed by discussion, Thursday, May 19, in 135 Fisher Hall at Michigan Tech (New Location!). FREE! Enjoy refreshments provided by Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (bring your mug!) Bike Initiative Keweenaw members will facilitate the discussion.

Come early and RIDE A BIKE before the film -- try riding some interesting and different bikes -- mini mini bikes loaned from Cross Country Sports, maybe a chopper bike, too! Also two long bikes from Curt Webb and Keren Tischler. It should be fun! Meet at the doorway to Fisher Hall at 6:30 p.m.

About the Film (90 min.): Traffic gridlock around the world is frustrating people, wasting their time, polluting the air and contributing to climate change. The film documents cyclists’ struggle in a society dominated by cars -- from bike activists in Sao Paulo and Los Angeles fighting for safe bike lanes, to the city of Copenhagen where 40 percent commute daily by bike.

Imagine a world where cities make room for bicyclists!

For exercise, fresh air and a gesture to help the environment: Participate in BIKE TO WORK DAY Friday, May 20!

Kick off the National Bike Challenge by biking or walking to your destination and enjoy snacks and giveaways at one of the community rest stops set up by Bike Initiative Keweenaw volunteers in Houghton, Hancock, South Range, Calumet and Lake Linden. Click here for more details, including locations of the rest stops.

Learn more about the National Bike Challenge, see local bike route maps and more on the  Bike Initiative Keweenaw Web site.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Botany, Photo Workshops on Isle Royale still have openings. Register now!

Participants in Janet Marr's Isle Royale Botany Workshop enjoy learning about plants  near the west end of Raspberry Island in Isle Royale National Park. (Photo © and courtesy Janet Marr)

HOUGHTON -- Spend 4 to 5 days exploring Isle Royale National Park this summer while improving your botany or photography skills or three days capturing the glorious fall colors and historic mining structures with your camera in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula! Lake Superior vistas form the backdrop for all four workshops the Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association (IRKPA) is sponsoring in 2016. Register now while workshops still have openings!

It's the 10th year for a June 6-11, 2016, Botany Workshop based at Rock Harbor on Isle Royale for anyone with beginning to intermediate knowledge of plant identification. Instructor Janet Marr is a botanist with extensive experience studying plants across Isle Royale and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is also co-author of the IRKPA publication, Island Life: An Isle Royale Nature Guide. Plant communities, rare species, ecology, invasive species, and use of dichotomous keys will be discussed during field trips to different habitats.

Botany workshop participants enjoy hiking and identifying plants on Isle Royale. (Photo © Rita Clinthorne and courtesy IRKPA)

Professional photographer Bob Guiliani and his wife Linda, who have owned a photography studio in Clare, Michigan, for more than 30 years and have visited Isle Royale more than 30 times, will conduct a Photography Workshop based at Rock Harbor June 10-15, 2016. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the many aspects of nature photography using the treasures of Isle Royale as subjects. This workshop is designed for the beginning and intermediate photographer. Activities will include lectures, demonstrations, and photography excursions around Rock Harbor. Bob will spend time in the field with each participant on issues they may be having or help more advanced photographers design special projects.

Ruth Baker photographs black crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), a rare arctic species, during an Isle Royale workshop. (Photo © and courtesy Janet Marr)

For the June Rock Harbor workshops, the registration fee of $699 (botany) or $725 (photography) covers transportation between Houghton and the island on the National Park Service ferry Ranger III, all meals during the workshop starting and ending with lunch on the boat, park user fees, group camping, and instruction. For non-campers, Rock Harbor Lodge offers lakeside lodge rooms or housekeeping cabins at participants' expense ( Enrollment is limited to 12 participants per workshop.

After a successful launch last year, IRKPA and Janet Marr are again offering a second Botany Workshop on the opposite end of Isle Royale, based at Windigo, September 6-11, 2016. The workshop format is similar to Rock Harbor, but the later time of year and more mixed deciduous rather than boreal habitats provide a completely different experience. The registration fee of $699 includes transportation between Grand Portage, Minn., and the island on the Voyageur II, meals, user fees, and group camping. OPTIONAL TRANSPORTATION IS AVAILABLE FROM HOUGHTON OR COPPER HARBOR, Mich. A camper cabin is also available first-come, first-served (contact IRKPA if interested IN THE TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS OR CAMPER CABINS).

Photo Workshop participants visit the Bangsund Cabin wolf-moose research site on Isle Royale. (Photo © Bob Guiliani and courtesy IRKPA)

The Guilianis will teach a Photography Workshop in early October, the average peak of color season in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. From a base in Calumet, driving excursions will lead to compositional views of the famous Brockway Mountain Drive, Lake Superior shorelines, lighthouses, waterfalls, and old mining structures, plus opportunities to capture sunrises and sunsets. Details will be available soon.

To learn more about any of the workshops, see and to register contact Kristine Bradof at or call her at 906-482-7860.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

DEQ Abandoned Mining Wastes team to hold Open House May 17 in Lake Linden

From DEQ Spring 2016 Newsletter by Amy Keranen

This photo shows the run-off from contaminated property in the Hubbell Processing Area into Torch Lake. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Abandoned Mining Wastes (AMW) - Torch Lake project team is studying contamination in this area in order to plan remediation. (Photo courtesy Amy Keranen, Michigan DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division)

LAKE LINDEN -- The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Abandoned Mining Wastes (AMW) - Torch Lake project team will host another project Open House from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the Lake Linden-Hubbell High School Auditorium.

The AMW project team involved in the planning, field work, and reporting for the project will be on hand to share their findings with the community. The DEQ sampling crew who conducted on-land and in-lake investigative activities will be there with some of their equipment and pictures and videos of their findings. Maps and other photos will be on display to illustrate where the team conducted their work and what they found.

This photo shows an example of near shore and buried drums along the Torch Lake shoreline in the Hubbell Processing Area. (Photo courtesy Amy Keranen, Michigan DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division)

The last Open House on the AMW project was held in May 2015.*

"We received good feed back from the attendees that the opportunity to come meet with us and to talk about the project was appreciated," said Amy Keranen, DEQ project manager for the AMW - Torch Lake project.

Amy Keranen, DEQ project manager for the AMW - Torch Lake project, speaks with visitors during the May 2015 Open House on the Abandoned Mining Wastes Project. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

It will again be an informal open house, providing visitors with the opportunity to drop in to meet the project team and to get their questions answered.

2016 Field Work Plan

In her Spring 2016 Newsletter, Keranen lists the AMW team's plans for 2016 field work, beginning this month, as follows:
  • Preparing a Limited Feasibility Study and conducting pre-design studies to support remediation of the CHLL (C and H Lake Linden) Hubbell Processing Area (the former Coal Dock and Mineral Building properties) pertaining to PCB-containing materials, asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM), waste piles, drums and soil erosion prevention. Until conditions at the site can be improved, the public should avoid accessing this private property without taking appropriate precautions.
This map shows Torch Lake and several sites of abandoned mine waste in the Lake Linden and Hubbell areas. The Hubbell Processing Area (just below the Lake Linden Processing Area on the map) is a highly contaminated site now being studied by the DEQ's AMW team. (Map courtesy Weston Solutions of Michigan, Inc.)
  • Conducting geophysical investigations of suspected buried waste in the CHTC (C and H Tamarack City) area (to determine the extent of waste buried in the stampsands).
  • Developing plans to address an old dump area with ACBM n the CHTC area.
  • Conducting additional underwater camera work in the CHLL Hubbell Processing Area; and, 
  • Conducting in-lake side-scan sonar investigations in the "Quincy-Mason" area of the AMW project, in advance of the team's on-land investigation anticipated in 2017.
This photo shows evidence of the erosion path entering Torch Lake at the Hubbell Processing Area. (Photo courtesy Amy Keranen, Michigan DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division)
The EPA Emergency Response Branch is working on asbestos issues at the former Calumet Stampmill.

Reports on AMW Project

The reports of our the AMW team's work in the Lake Linden and Tamarack City Operations Areas of the Abandoned Mining Wastes project have been finalized and are available in a set of 2 CDs at the Lake Linden Public Library (in the basement of the Lake Linden High School). Copies have also been distributed to the Torch Lake Area of Concern Public Action Council (PAC) -- a group representing local stakeholders with the federal and state agencies working at the Torch Lake Area of Concern (AOC) and Superfund site. According to Keranen, the DEQ is in the process of making a website for the project where these reports will be posted.

Eat Safe Fish Workshop June 1

An "Eat Safe Fish Workshop" will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, in the Lake Linden High School Auditorium. Staff from various State agencies will be providing information to the public about how to "Eat Safe Fish" from Torch Lake. They will be sharing what the current recommendations are and what is causing the fish consumption advisory in Torch Lake. Information about local interest in creating a watershed management plan will also be discussed. Staff will be available to meet with the public starting at 5 p.m., with a presentation of information from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

The workshop is sponsored by Fisheries Division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the DEQ Office of the Great Lakes, and the DEQ Water Resource Division.

* Read about the 2015 Open House in Keweenaw Now's Feb. 9, 2016, article, "Torch Lake Watershed Project Public Meeting to be Feb. 10; DEQ, Michigan Tech researchers present findings on PCBs, more ..."

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Residents concerned about recycling comment as Cities of Houghton, Hancock plan to vote for Solid Waste/Recycling contracts

By Michele Bourdieu

Local residents concerned about recycling filled the community room at Lakeview Manor in Hancock for the Joint Hancock and Houghton City Council Meeting on April 19, 2016. During the public comment period Peter Ekstrom (standing, center) of Houghton notes that improved recycling service would complement the existing bottle and can recycling. Seated in the foreground, left, is Jim Whittinghill, sales manager for Eagle Waste Recycling, Inc., of Eagle River, Wis. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK, HOUGHTON -- Led by the efforts of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative (CCRI), residents have been attending recent local government meetings in Hancock and Houghton to comment on the need for improved residential and commercial recycling. Three solid waste/recycling companies have submitted bids for a contract with the City of Houghton and two of those companies have submitted bids to Hancock.

While the City of Hancock already provides its own curbside residential recycling and takes items to Waste Management, one of the bidders, participation is at the low rate of four percent. Houghton does not presently have curbside recycling but is including it in their Request for Proposal (RFP) for the new contract. Since Houghton's 5-year contract with Waste Management expires June 30, 2016, the Houghton City Council is expected to vote for one of the proposals at their meeting at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday, May 11.

The other two companies submitting bids are Eagle Waste Recycling, Inc., of Eagle River, Wis., which submitted bids to both cities, and Great American Disposal of Marquette, which sent a bid proposal only to Houghton.

Hancock's contract with Waste Management expires at the end of August 2016. According to Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson, the Hancock City Council would probably make a decision in June or July. They are still working out financial details, he said.

Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson (standing, center) welcomes residents to the April 19, 2016, Joint Hancock and Houghton City Council Meeting.

CCRI leaders sent an email to residents Monday, May 9, asking that they attend coming meetings of both city councils to offer further citizen input.

"The bids are not exactly like comparing apples with apples," notes Suzanne Van Dam, CCRI co-chair. "There are some cost estimates that need to be researched. Encourage the council members not to rush the vote on which bid to accept. Ask that they wait until all facts are gathered and the costs are figured accurately -- including hidden costs."

Following the April 19 Joint City Council meeting, Alan Albee, left, Eagle Waste president, and Jim Whittinghill, Eagle Waste sales manager, second from left, chat with residents, from left, Chris Alquist, Richard Pallota, Suzanne Van Dam (seated) and Krissy Sundstrom about the company's recycling services.

Since the proposals from Eagle Waste are for a 10-year contract and could include use of the Houghton County Transfer Station (for storage), from which recylables would have to be hauled to Eagle River, Wis., at a cost to the cities, the choice of a proposal appears to be problematic. Under the present 5-year contracts, Waste Management hauls recylables to the Eagle Waste facility in Eagle River, but Waste Management is less inclusive in the types of items acceptable for recycling.*

The 10-year proposal by Eagle Waste would include required individual carts for both trash and recyling pick-ups and would accept for recycling such items as glass; tin and aluminum containers: no. 1 to no. 7 plastics; all miscellaneous paper including greyboard (cereal or beverage packaging); cartons including milk, juice, wine, etc.; small metal appliances; and small metal items such as pots and pans, utensils or pieces of pipe.

Eagle Waste operates its own Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Eagle River. They do not own a landfill. Trash would have to be taken to Waste Management or the County Transfer Station for further transport to a landfill at a cost to the cities.

"Our focus is to recycle, not to landfill waste," said Alan Albee, Eagle Waste president.

The company has recently set up recycling programs for both Ironwood and Bessemer, which appear to be successful.**

CCRI member David Hall speaks about Eagle Waste's Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Eagle River during a recycling presentation at the April 26, 2016, Lake Superior Celebration at Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center. 

Local residents filled the community room at Lakeview Manor in Hancock for the April 19, 2016, Joint Hancock and Houghton City Council meeting in order to comment on the need for better recycling in both cities and beyond. The councils covered other business first to allow for plenty of public comment time at the end of the meeting. Here are some excerpts from those comments:

Evan McDonald, CCRI co-chair and member of the Houghton County Planning Commission, addresses Hancock and Houghton City Councilors:

During the April 19, 2016, Joint Hancock and Houghton City Council meeting, Evan McDonald, co-chair of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative and Houghton County Planning Commission member, comments on the need for both cities and nearby communities to work together on a joint recycling program to include curbside recycling and more. Click on YouTube icon for a larger view. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

David Hall of Houghton:

CCRI member David Hall speaks about the need for Houghton County to be involved since recycling is a regional issue.

Hancock resident and CCRI member Susan Burack:

Susan Burack, member of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative and former Hancock city councilor, addresses the Joint Hancock and Houghton City Council at their Apr. 19, 2016, meeting.

Houghton residents Carol Ekstrom and Janeen Stephenson:

CCRI member Carol Ekstrom and Janeen Stephenson express their support for curbside recycling.

Michigan Tech student Will Lytle:

Michigan Tech graduate student Will Lytle says Michigan Tech students support improved community recycling.

Richard Pallota of Keweenaw County:

Richard Pallota of Keweenaw County comments on recycling efforts in Eagle Harbor and other locations north of Houghton County. 

Several residents, who said they had moved to the Copper Country from other states, noted they were surprised to find that Houghton had no curbside recycling.

After the meeting, a group of business owners chatted about their recycling needs under the current system.

Fifth and Elm Coffee House owners Frank Fiala, left, and Emily Fiala chat with Jan Cole, Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce vice president, and Kelly Etapa, Suomi Restaurant owner.

Kelly Etapa, owner of the Suomi Restaurant in Houghton, said he recycles large amounts of cardboard, plastic and tin cans by driving it in his truck up to the Waste Management transfer station, located at 1108 Enterprise Drive in Houghton.

"I'm hauling two truckoads a month -- probably 1500 lb. a month," he said. "In summertime it'll probably be more."

At present the City of Houghton does not provide commercial or residential recycling pickup. Some businesses have individual contracts for their recycling needs. Residents drive to the Waste Management site and pay $4 per vehicle to drop off single stream recycled items.

Proposals: Waste Management vs. Eagle Waste

In their proposals to both cities, Waste Management adds to the weekly garbage pickup and bi-weekly recycling pickup an option for weekly recycling pickup as well as an option for curbside cart service. At present the City of Hancock does its own curbside garbage and recycling pickup, but Waste Management is proposing new rates should Hancock decide to have Waste Management trucks do the pick-up service. Hancock also provides for businesses to drop off recycling at their Department of Public Works (DPW) site. Hancock then transports the recyclables to the Waste Management site, and Waste Management transports recyclables to Eagle Waste's facility in Eagle River, Wis.

The Eagle Waste proposals for both Houghton and Hancock are less detailed in terms of total cost, making it challenging to compare their bid to the others.
  • The Eagle Waste proposals are contingent on entering into a Solid Waste/Recycling Collection Services Agreement with both the Cities of Houghton and Hancock.
  • They are contingent on acceptance of the City's waste at either the County Transfer Station in Atlantic Mine or Waste Management's in Houghton. The proposal for each city states, "The City would pay the County or Waste Management directly for disposal of waste generated under the terms of a future Agreement between Eagle Waste and the City. It is anticipated that the Cities of Hancock and Houghton could negotiate reduced disposal rates with the County based on volume. The increased volumes could also assist the County in paying off debt associated with its facility."
  • The Eagle Waste proposals are also contingent on successful negotiation with the County to transfer SSR (Single Stream Recycling) to their MRF in Eagle River, Wis. The proposal for each city states, "The current disposal rate for SSR at our Eagle River MRF is $0.00/ton. Please note that recycling values and therefore our tipping rates change. Currently recycling values are low. For example, only last year, we were paying $20 per ton for recyclables dropped off at our facility. The cost to transfer the material will be the responsibility of the City. This may include a minor modification to the County Transfer Station to allow a storage area for SSR. Eagle Waste is willing to pay for required minor improvements if necessary."
During the April 26 Lake Superior Celebration at the Great Lakes Research Center, members of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative (CCRI) displayed this photo of the Houghton County Transfer Station in Atlantic Mine, noting the challenges to be met if it were to be used to store recycling for transfer to  Eagle Waste's MRF in Eagle River, Wis., a distance of about 100 miles.

Last week Keweenaw Now asked Houghton County Controller Eric Forsberg about the possibility of using the County Transfer Station as Eagle Waste proposes.

"We're not really set up for it right now," Forsberg said. "We're set up for cardboard, metal and oil."***

Forsberg said Eagle Waste did not involve the County directly in the bid process. He has talked to Eagle Waste's Alan Albee, but it hasn't gone beyond an initial discussion, Forsberg added.

"Houghton County had no contact with Eagle Waste before they submitted their proposal to Houghton and Hancock, so I'm unable to comment on what their thoughts were in putting that proposal together," Forsberg said. "We don't have the storage room right now to take in the anticipated volume of recyclables."

Houghton County Commissioner Anton Pintar also noted the County Transfer Station is not prepared to store recyclables from Houghton and Hancock.

"We would need an engineering study," Pintar told Keweenaw Now recently. "We don't have any idea how big the facility would have to be to store the recyclables."

Pintar said Houghton County is not set up to transport the recyclables from the County Transfer Station to Wisconsin.

"About three years ago I recommended to the (County) Planning Commission that we take on recycling as a project," Pintar added. "We're proceeding very slowly, starting with cardboard and then later asphalt shingles. Then the next step would be (composting) yard waste."

Pintar noted also that the County never intended to get into recycling plastics since that is done by Waste Management. He said he is not opposed to recycling but he doesn't think the County can make money on it at this time.

The cardboard recycling at the Transfer Station is the result of CCRI's receiving a $92,000 Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) grant, which has supported constructing the cardboard recycling facility at the Transfer Station, hiring a part-time recycling attendant and implementing the cardboard recycling program, creating a satellite drop-off center for the cardboard in Chassell Township (which provided a cash match for the grant) and launching public outreach -- including recycling education in area schools.

Houghton City Council takes more comments

On April 27, 2016, the Houghton City Council listened to more public comments on the recycling issue from CCRI members, Michigan Tech students and Houghton residents.

Houghton City Manager Eric Waara explained at that meeting that curbside recycling for Houghton residents was part of the City of Houghton's current Request for Proposals on Solid Waste/Recycling and would be included in the new contract. The challenge, he said, was to choose the proposal that would be the most affordable and sustainable for the City.

Three Michigan Tech students spoke to the Houghton City Council about a petition for which they had collected 500 signatures:

Michigan Tech environmental engineering students Ellen Aiken of St. Paul, Minn. (reading a statement), Meredith Brehob (foreground) of Dearborn, Mich., and Caitlin Korvela of Ishpeming, Mich., speaking on behalf of Michigan Tech students who live or will live off campus, tell the Houghton City Council that they and the students signing their petition support switching to a more sustainable waste/recycling company for a proposal to include curbside recycling. 

One of the students, Caitlin Korvela of Ishpeming, said she grew up in Florida.

"When I moved here I was very surprised there was no (curbside) recycling," Korvela said.

The students said they plan to submit the petition to the Houghton City Council.

In reply to the students' concerns, Houghton City Manager Eric Waara explains that curbside recycling is included in the City of Houghton's Request for Proposals (RFP) and that more study of the three proposals is needed. He affirms that the new contract will include curbside recycling and that the Council will discuss the proposals and vote at their May 11 meeting.

Evan McDonald of CCRI explained to the Houghton City Council that CCRI, with a goal of an expanded, regional recycling program, began their efforts with Houghton County and the Transfer Station (beginning with the cardboard recycling) and that Eagle Waste's proposal, while it has not yet been fully presented to the County, offers a potential new business model for the County Transfer Station, especially now that Houghton plans to have curbside recycling.

"If that can happen (both cities with curbside recycling) it's a huge kickstart to what had been the County's objective all along," McDonald said.

McDonald also noted that Eagle Waste's proposal has a potential for expanding recycling to a regional level, which coincides with the purpose of the DEQ grant and with CCRI's goals.

David Hall of CCRI spoke to the Houghton councilors of the need for including the local businesses in a recycling program. He gave as an example Marquette's recycling program, which includes businesses.

David Hall of CCRI thanks the Houghton City Council for their plans to have curbside recycling and reminds them of the need to make recycling accessible for businesses.

Houghton City Councilor Rachel Lankton expressed her concern about the difficulty of handling the large residential carts proposed by Eagle Waste -- especially in the winter:

Houghton City Councilor Rachel Lankton kicks off a brief discussion on aspects of a curbside program. Joining in the discussion are Houghton resident Brett Hamlin, Councilor Mike Needham, Evan McDonald and City Manager Eric Waara.

Eagle Waste meets with business owners

Business owners from Houghton and Hancock meet with Eagle Waste at Portage Lake District Library on May 2.

On May 2, 2016, Alan Albee and Jim Whittinghill of Eagle Waste listened to concerns of local business owners at the Portage Lake District Library.

During the May 2 meeting with business owners in Portage Library, Eagle Waste President Alan Albee replies to a question on options for recycling glass and ceramics.

Kelly Etapa, Suomi Restaurant owner, and Frank Fiala, owner of Fifth and Elm Coffee House, express concerns about recycling large volumes of cardboard and other items:

Kelly Etapa and Frank Fiala speak about the present challenges for businesses to recycle cardboard at the Houghton County Transfer Station, which charges a fee for businesses but not for residents.

Mary Kaminski, owner of the Copper Island Beach Club in Hancock, said she was happy that Hancock now allows businesses to bring recyclables to the Department of Public Works site.

Eagle Waste's Jim Whittinghill said it should be convenient for businesses to recycle. He urged the business owners to lobby for both residential and business recycling:

Jim Whittinghill, Eagle Waste sales manager, gives an example of a business that works with Eagle Waste to recycle 80 percent of its waste.

Following the meeting, Albee and Whittinghill invited business owners with specific questions to meet with them privately in the library.

Houghton City Manager Eric Waara met with Keweenaw Now following the business meeting in the Portage Library and spoke about the challenges of choosing a proposal for the new Waste/Recycling contract.

"For a remote area like ours hauling of any material is more expensive than in a city," Waara said.

He said the biggest impediment for this area is the cost of getting material to a recycling site. In the case of the Eagle Waste proposal, the cities of Houghton and Hancock would have to pay for the transport of recyclables to Eagle River, Wis.

In the case of Great American Disposal's proposal to Houghton, the hauling cost appears to be included in the total cost. Waara noted this company offers several options, but comparing it to the other two requires doing the math to determine the real costs.****

"We're considering them all, but at the end of the day, when you do the math there wasn't enough information (from Eagle Waste) to make a fair comparison," Waara said. "Part of sustainability is affordability. You can get anything you want if you're willing to pay for it."

According to Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson, Great American Disposal did not submit a proposal to Hancock, so the decision for Hancock will be a choice from two proposals. The problem is that Eagle Waste's proposal lacks certain details, such as where they would take the material once they pick it up.

"It's logistically deficient," Anderson said of Eagle Waste's proposal.


* Click here for Waste Management's Recycling Guidelines.

** Click here to read about Bessemer's trash/recycling contract with Eagle Waste. Learn more about Eagle Waste Recycling, Inc., on their Web site.

*** Visit the  Houghton County's Transfer Station Web page to learn what they accept for trash disposal and recycling. Click here for the Copper Country Recycling Initiative (CCRI) Web site.

**** Great American Disposal has several sites, most of which are at a considerable distance from Houghton. Click here to learn about them.

Community Arts Center to host exhibit "Beyond the Fifth Floor: Recent work by Max Seel and Christa Walck"; opening reception is May 12

"Beyond the Fifth Floor: Recent work by Max Seel and Christa Walck" opens May 11 at the Copper Country Community Arts Center's Kerredge Gallery, with a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12. (Image courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- "Beyond the Fifth Floor: Recent work by Max Seel and Christa Walck" will be on exhibit from May 11 to June 11 in the Copper Country Community Arts Center's Kerredge Gallery in Hancock. An opening reception, free and open to all, will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12.

Max Seel and Christa Walck arrived at Michigan Tech the same year, 1986, and will depart the same year, 2016 -- 30 years of service in fields not normally associated with the arts. They spent their last years at Tech in neighboring offices on the fifth floor of the Administration building, as Provost and Associate Provost, respectively. It is unlikely that two offices on the fifth floor have ever been so full of original local or regional art! Max's office is filled with his own work, as well as the work of Mary Ann Beckwith, Karen Gilbert, Susie Kilpela, and Bill Wiard. Christa's office features Margo McCafferty Rudd, Clyde Mikkola, Yeshe Helander, Lladislav Hanka, and others. As they step down from the heights of the fifth floor and into retirement, they are looking forward to spending more time in the studio as makers of art. This exhibit represents the first arc of that promising future.

Max Seel, a native of Germany, at Michigan Tech since 1986 as professor of physics, long-time dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, and most recently provost and vice president for academic affairs, returned to the faculty in July of 2015 to finish out his career in the physics department.

Christa Walck moved to Houghton in 1986 to work at Michigan Tech, where she served as professor of organizational behavior, dean of the School of Business and Economics, Interim Director of the Van Pelt and Opie Library, and since 2010 associate provost. She has been president of the board of both the Copper Country Community Arts Center and the Keweenaw Land Trust. She is looking forward to retiring to Philadelphia, where she was born, because of its world-class art venues (not to mention proximity to New York City), but will be in the Keweenaw at her camp during the summer to enjoy the cool water of Lake Superior and the local art community.

This exhibition is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit

Monday, May 09, 2016

Peace Corps retiring Masters International Programs, including 10 at Michigan Tech

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of News and Media Relations
Posted May 5, 2016, on Tech Today
Reprinted with permission

Michigan Tech Peace Corps Masters International computer science graduate student Tim Ward is pictured here with members of his host community on the island nation of Vanuatu. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- The Peace Corps announced this week that it is retiring all of its Master’s International graduate school programs after nearly three decades of partnerships with 96 graduate universities across the country.

The move will take place over a number of years so that students in the program and entering the program in the coming year will be able to complete their degrees after their studies and service.

The programs at Michigan Tech are included in the phase-out. From inception, Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) became a signature program for the university. Tech’s PCMI program has been the largest among the 96 participating universities in the nation nine years in a row. PCMI students from Tech have served in 52 countries around the world.

"The Masters International Program has been a very distinctive program for Michigan Tech," said President Glenn Mroz.  "It was started because there was a shortage of volunteers with forestry training in the Peace Corps. As the relationship grew, we became aware of a number of other hard-to-fill skill areas; and the programs expanded to meet those needs."

Peace Corps Masters International graduate student Erica Jones helps a village boy shuck beans in Panama. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Michigan Tech has 10 PCMI degree programs in departments across campus. They include applied natural resource economics, applied science education, biological sciences, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, forest resources and environmental science, mechanical engineering, mitigation of geological natural hazards and rhetoric, theory and culture.

"Over the years, we adopted other Peace Corps programs, and those will continue at Michigan Tech," said President Mroz.

They include an undergraduate Peace Corps Prep program and graduate Coverdell Fellowships for returned Peace Corps volunteers.

"We are incredibly grateful that this program laid the foundation for strong relationships with so many universities," Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. "Although the Peace Corps has outgrown the goals of the Master’s International program, we’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration with our valued university partners, knowing there are so many opportunities to unite their strong academic competency with our core mission of sustainable, positive change."

Kari Henquinet, director of Michigan Tech’s PCMI programs, said: "Universities have partnered with the Peace Corps in many different ways over the past 55 years. While we are sad to see the robust collaboration in Master's International begin to phase out, Michigan Tech is in conversation with the Peace Corps director about not only continuing our other partner programs, but also exploring new ones."

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide.