Thursday, September 29, 2016

Congressional Candidate Lon Johnson to hold 5 local Town Halls and attend Oct. 4 Candidate Forum

HANCOCK -- Next week Lon Johnson, U.S. Congressional Candidate for Michigan's First District, will be holding five Town Halls in the Keweenaw, in addition to participating in the Oct. 4 Candidate Forum in Ontonagon. Johnson, a Democrat, is running against Republican Jack Bergman  for the Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, who is not running for re-election.

Here is Lon's schedule:

Tuesday, Oct. 4: 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.  Chassell VFW, 42103 Wilson Memorial Dr, Chassell

Tuesday, Oct. 4: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. Tina’s Katalina Restaurant, 59 Trimountain Ave, South Range

Tuesday, Oct. 4: Candidate Forum at Ontonagon High School Cafeteria, 701 Parker Ave, Ontonagon, MI 49953. The event begins at 6 p. m. ET with a "meet and greet," which will give voters the opportunity to meet forum candidates as well as candidates in Ontonagon County contested races. The Forum begins at 7 p. m. ET and will include 1st Congressional District candidates Lon Johnson (D) and Jack Bergman (R) and Michigan’s 110th State Representative candidates Scott Dianda (D) Greg Markkanen (R). The forum moderator is Ontonagon District Court and Probate Judge, Janis Burgess.

Wednesday, Oct. 5: 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Carmelita’s Restaurant, 618 Oak St, Calumet

Wednesday, Oct. 5: 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. Slim’s Café, 8 Mohawk Dr, Mohawk

Wednesday, Oct. 5: 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. The Downtowner, 100 Shelden Ave, Houghton

For information about Lon Johnson and his campaign, visit his Web site:

(Inset photo: Lon Johnson. Photo courtesy Lon Johnson's campaign)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

UPDATE: DEQ Public Hearing will take place Sept. 28; L'Anse Warden Electric Co. addresses maintenance issues

By Michele Bourdieu

This photo shows a hole in the top of the L'Anse Warden Electric Co. (LWEC) "biomass" plant in L'Anse. According to DEQ, the hole does not affect emissions. The plant is temporarily "off-line" -- not operating. This will not affect the DEQ Public Hearing scheduled for Sept. 28. LWEC is working on maintenance but not sharing the reason for not operating. (Photo courtesy Doug Welker)

L'ANSE -- Keweenaw Now received word today, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, that the L'Anse Warden plant is presently "off-line," i.e., temporarily not operating. Ed Lancaster, DEQ Air Quality Division environmental quality analyst, said today that the Public Hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, with an information, question-answer meeting at 6 p.m., will take place as announced. The hearing will be held at the L'Anse High School Cafetorium.*

"The maintenance issues they're having are not related to the public hearing," Lancaster told Keweenaw Now today. 

The hearing is only about the draft Consent Form and the draft Permit to Install, he explained. Only comments on these will be taken during the hearing beginning at 7 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. the public may ask general questions.

Lancaster confirmed that there is a hole in the structure of the stack at the plant -- near the top, near the exit of the stack.

"It's not going to affect the emissions at all," he said.

Lancaster said he was not sure what problems caused the plant to cease operations recently.

Steve Walsh, CEO of Traxys Power Group, which operates L'Anse Warden Electric Co. (LWEC), told Keweenaw Now today he could not comment on the reason for the plant being "off-line," but the company is working on the maintenance so that operations can resume as soon as possible.

"We're in the process of getting back on line as soon as possible because we know the people of Michigan need a local source of generation to maintain good grid stability," Walsh said.

Asked if the L'Anse Warden plant supplies electricity to the local area, Walsh said, "It certainly does."

* See our article posted yesterday, Sept. 26, 2016: "Video Report: Concerned citizens challenge DEQ, EPA officials on L'Anse Warden Plant pollution; DEQ Public Hearing to be Sept. 28."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Video Report: Concerned citizens challenge DEQ, EPA officials on L'Anse Warden Plant pollution; DEQ Public Hearing to be Sept. 28

By Michele Bourdieu

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Quality Division officials hold an informational meeting on the L'Anse Warden Electrical Company's "biomass" plant on Sept. 7, 2016, at L'Anse High School. The purpose of the meeting was to take questions from the public related to the recent Administrative Consent Order based on the company's permit violations of Hydrogen Chloride (HCL) emission limits and fugitive dust in the community. A DEQ Public Hearing on the Consent Order will be held this Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

L'ANSE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a public hearing Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, on L'Anse Warden Electric Company's proposed Consent Order and proposed Permit to Install (PTI). The proposed PTI is for removal of pentachlorophenol (PCP) treated wood from the fuel portfolio of the existing 324 million British thermal unit per hour boiler at the facility, located at 157 S. Main St., L'Anse, Mich. The public hearing will take place at  L'Anse Area Schools Cafetorium. DEQ will answer questions from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will accept public comments after 7 p.m.*

The hearing follows two informational meetings -- one with DEQ on Sept. 7, 2016, and an earlier meeting with both EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) officials and DEQ held on May 9, 2016. At both meetings officials discussed the Hydrogen Chloride (HCL) exceedance at the plant, which violates their permit, as well as a fugitive dust violation of enforceable laws and odors from the plant as reported by local residents. Following are some video clips from both meetings.

At the Sept. 7, 2016, informational meeting Chris Hare, DEQ Air Quality Division Upper Peninsula District supervisor, states the reason for the meeting:

DEQ Air Quality Division U.P. District Supervisor Chris Hare speaks about the L'Anse Warden Electric Company's HCL exceedance. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

At the Sept. 7 meeting the public was provided with several documents, including the Consent Order and a list of Questions and Common Concerns with answers provided by DEQ. Several questions concerned railroad ties -- some treated with pentachlorophenol which will no longer be allowed as fuel in the plant -- and some treated with creosote, which is a concern because of odors and because of its carcinogenic properties. The DEQ's question-answer sheet states that EPA considers both pentachlorophenol and creosote as "probable" human carcinogens. Referring to each of these, DEQ states, "cancer risk depends on exposure concentration and duration."

Here Jim Haun of Skanee questions whether the railroad ties and tire derived fuel burned in the plant should be considered biomass:

Jim Haun of Skanee asks DEQ's Chris Hare why the plant cannot just burn wood chips if it is really considered a biomass facility.

The Question-Answer sheet begins with a question on whether DEQ Air Quality Division has the authority to shut down operations at a facility because of violations. DEQ mentions several standards for air quality that determine emission limits, but notes they can only order a plant to shut down a facility or its operations if it "is emitting pollutants that put the public's health or environment in imminent danger." Doug Welker of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) and FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw) asks about these standards:

Doug Welker asks a question on the standards used to determine public health risk from air quality violations by the plant.

Another question on the DEQ's question-answer sheet notes that "the proposed consent order requires LWEC to pay up to $10,000 per violation per day, depending on which condition of the consent order is violated." L'Anse area resident and retired attorney Frank Kohl challenged DEQ on the vague wording of the amount, since "up to" opens a possibility of a very low fine. Hare replied that the language is meant to encourage the company to agree to the consent order.

FOLK members challenge DEQ on lack of permit enforcement

During the Sept. 7 public meeting, Catherine Andrews, local resident and member of Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK), who has often expressed concerns about the L'Anse Warden plant's air emissions, asked DEQ officials about the toxicity of air pollution from the plant.

Catherine Andrews questions DEQ toxicologist Michael Depa on the measuring of toxicity in the L'Anse Warden plant's air emissions, noting the effects of its location near the lake.

Andrews, who has written more than one letter to the editor to local media expressing her concerns about the plant's air pollution, states the following in a recent letter to the editor:

"L'Anse Warden Electric Company (LWEC) claims they failed a stack test last September [2015] because they inadvertently fed too many chipped PCP treated railroad ties into the boiler. A June 2016 Addendum to Emissions Test Protocol sent from Steve Walsh, [LWEC] CEO, to EPA states, 'LWEC wishes to clarify that the boiler operator does not have the ability to separately weigh and feed the various fuels on an hourly basis.' This statement is an admission that they can't meet permit requirements and makes the permit unenforceable, and therefore illegal.

"In the same document Walsh states that, 'repairs were needed on the upper portion of the stack' and that 'access to the top of the stack could not be obtained consistent with OSHA requirements for worker safety.' This is a weak excuse for requesting an exclusion from an EPA testing requirement to measure stack gas exit velocity and stack gas temperature at the exit from the stack. EPA should force LWEC to repair the stack.

"DEQ was asked on September 7th, 'Would you have done anything if you hadn't gotten any complaints?' Their response was, 'No.'"

Linda Rulison, president of FOLK, asked DEQ officials if citizens would need to continue reporting their complaints to DEQ in order to have rules and regulations enforced.

A concerned citizen notes the offensive odors coming from the plant. Linda Rulison of FOLK asks if they must continue to report the same complaints over and over in order to see enforcement. Chris Hare and Ed Lancaster, DEQ Air Quality Division environmental quality analyst for the Upper Peninsula, reply that they need citizen reports of odors in order to act on this problem with inspections.

DEQ: Carcinogens below limits are "O.K."

Some members of the public submitted written questions to the DEQ officials to be addressed during the meeting. One question concerned creosote:

DEQ toxicologist Michael Depa answers a question on PAHs, creosote and carcinogens.

More questions on the odors and fugitive dust from the plant led to the DEQ's announcement that, although EPA officially requested that L'Anse Warden Electric Co. (LWEC) put air monitors at their property line, EPA is now delaying that request until after the company closes conveyors and other equipment to "wait and see" how effective that is:

John Vial, DEQ permit engineer, reacts to citizens' complaints about odors, admitting he has noticed them as well. Jeffery Loman of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community asks why the air monitors ordered by the EPA have not been put in place yet.

DEQ notes on their question-answer sheet, "EPA has agreed to an extension of installing air monitors to monitor particulates at the property line until the enclosures of conveyors and fuel receiving area is built. At that time EPA will reevaluate their request to install the monitors."

Philip Keyes of Baraga asks DEQ officials why they don't have something to measure ambient air quality. He mentions a mountain of creosote logs at the plant.

Finally, Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and member of FOLK, asked DEQ officials if the Department of Environmental Quality has the willingness and capacity to monitor the plant and enforce the rules in a meaningful way:

Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, questions the system of self-monitoring on the part of the company. DEQ's Chris Hare answers with "checks and balances."
Following the Sept. 7 meeting, DEQ officials answered individual questions for a few minutes.

Following the Sept. 7, 2016, meeting, FOLK members Doug Welker, left, and Catherine Andrews chat with DEQ Toxicologist Michael Depa, right, and DEQ Permitting Engineer John Vial, both from the Air Quality Division Lansing office. 

Vanessa Dietz, Daily Mining Gazette reporter, interviews Ed Lancaster, DEQ Air Quality Division environmental quality analyst for the Upper Peninsula, who does inspections at the L'Anse Warden Plant.

EPA, DEQ address citizens' concerns at May 9, 2016, meeting

The L'Anse High School Cafetorium was filled with a large crowd of concerned citizens for the May 9, 2016, EPA/DEQ informational meeting on the L'Anse Warden plant. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

On May 9, 2016, EPA Region 5 officials came from Chicago to host, along with DEQ officials, a similar informational meeting on the L'Anse Warden plant. At that time EPA was requiring the air monitors and anticipating further testing this summer. A stack test was conducted in July 2016.

Here Molly Smith, EPA Region 5 environmental scientist, speaks about dust wipes taken by DEQ near the plant and what analysis of these can or cannot indicate. She also speaks about the air monitors and requiring a stack test:

Molly Smith, EPA Region 5 environmental scientist, speaks about EPA's collaboration with DEQ to address the problem of fugitive dust by ordering L'Anse Warden Electric Company to install air monitors and to conduct a stack test which will be used to determine health risks to the community. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Smith told the audience at the May 9 meeting that results from the stack test this summer would be sent to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) so they may use that data to assess health risks to the community.

According to an email today, Sept. 26, from Francisco Arcaute, U.S. EPA press office, EPA has not yet received the health risk assessment from ATSDR. Arcaute also told Keweenaw Now that EPA officials will not be attending the DEQ Public Hearing this Wednesday, Sept. 28, in L'Anse.

During the May 9 meeting, several local residents expressed concerns on written comment cards and verbally as well.

During the May 9 meeting local residents express more concerns about non-compliance and human health. DEQ's Chris Hare answers a question on enforcing the L'Anse Warden Electric Company's compliance and on potential impacts of the plant's air pollution on human health. L'Anse resident Lori Johnson asks about odors she believes come from the grinding of the railroad ties.

At the May 9 meeting, Patricia Toczydlowski of the Keweenaw Land Trust asks whether any testing is being done to determine whether the pollution from the plant is impacting the water. Steve Casey, DEQ Water Quality Division supervisor for the Upper Peninsula, replies:

Steve Casey says both EPA and DEQ officials have visited the plant and, based on their observations, did not notice problems. Permit requirements offer protection, he adds. Jim Seavoy of L'Anse, who lives near the plant, holds up a sample of pollution from the plant and mentions impacts on children playing in the snow as well as elderly residents who cannot go outside because of effects on their breathing. Jeffery Loman calls for "real substantial inspections."

After the meeting Casey told Keweenaw Now, "We're going to make sure that storm water (runoff from the railroad ties) gets tested."

More recently, Casey said Randy Conroy, senior geologist in the DEQ Water Resources Division, did do some testing this summer. He noted L'Anse Warden needs a water permit as well as air permits.

"The water permit for Warden is an NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) Industrial Stormwater permit," Casey told Keweenaw Now in a Sept. 23 email. "Randy did sample the stream that flows near the RR tie piles and no contaminants were detected.  Unfortunately, the sample was not analyzed by the laboratory in a timely fashion, so the holding time for the sample was exceeded. We have required the company to conduct additional sampling after rain events which result in runoff from the property."

Following the EPA meeting, Ed Lancaster, who inspects the plant for DEQ Air Quality Division, said, "Whenever I get a phone call -- if I can make it -- I'll respond with a site visit. Timing is everything on odor complaints."

L'Anse resident Jim Seavoy said, "I don't want them to shut down. I just want them to clean it up. I want fresh air and the ability to open windows on my own house."


* Click here for links to DEQ documents on the L'Anse Warden Plant -- including the Consent Order and public participation documents.

** See this article by Catherine Andrews, "Citizens still concerned about community health hazards from L'Anse Warden Electric Company plant," published in Keweenaw Now Apr. 3, 2016.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"State of the Union" opera to feature Helsinki Chamber Choir Sept. 29 - Oct. 6

On their first U.S. tour, the Helsinki Chamber Choir will present State of the Union, a new opera by Eugene Birman and Scott Diel, in performances from Marquette to Houghton to New York City from Sept. 29 to Oct. 6. The opera will be performed at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in Houghton at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2. (Poster courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- In their new work, State of the Union, an opera of economic inequality and obliviousness, composer Eugene Birman and librettist Scott Diel have turned their attention to everything that ails the planet.

Part opera seria, part satire, State of the Union is an opera for 12 singers which considers environmental sustainability, economic inequality, and the general obliviousness of society.

The 40-minute work will be premiered by the Helsinki Chamber Choir, which composer Jonathan Harvey has termed "probably the best choir anywhere in the world, particularly for contemporary music." The choir will be touring the United States for the first time.

Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts will present State of the Union at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. State of the Union will tour the United States starting Sept. 29 and 30 in Marquette, with the final performance on Oct. 6 in New York City at Wall Street’s Trinity Church (see Schedule below).

An island off the Keweenaw Peninsula gave birth to State of the Union. Commissioned by the Rabbit Island Foundation, the work was conceived and composed on Michigan’s Rabbit Island, 91 acres of solid bedrock and forest that has never been developed, has no electricity or modern comforts, and is accessible only by small craft. Birman and Diel created the opera over a period of two weeks of seclusion on the island.

Librettist Scott Diel, left, and composer Eugene Birman are pictured here on Rabbit Island, where they created the opera State of the Union. (Photo © Andrew Ranville and courtesy Scott Diel)

Rabbit Island, located in Lake Superior three miles east of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, is held under a conservation easement granted by the Keweenaw Land Trust and supports programs fostering science, art, preservation and recreation. Rabbit Island is a laboratory for artists to consider the modern relationship between art and the environment, and this is what Birman and Diel have done.

View of Rabbit Island from Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz. (2014 Keweenaw Now photo) 

According to the Rabbit Island Foundation, "The opera condemns no one and everyone, yet its finale doles out redemption to those open to it. State of the Union is four characters -- the environment, the rich, the middle class, and the poor -- meeting and interacting over seven movements. It reflects a belief that many of our problems stem from how we view and treat one another. As a society we too often equate wealth with wisdom, and poverty with personal shortcomings. This work pushes forward the genre of classical music and also advances the medium to underscore a new subject: humanity’s relationship to its natural environment in the context of modern society."

The Koch brothers, Dick Cheney, Russell Brand’s Revolution, hedge fund tycoons, the middle class, the social safety net and those who depend on it: no one comes out unscathed.

The work has been brought to life thanks to generous support from the Rabbit Island Foundation, Northern Michigan University’s Northern Nights concert series, DeVos Art Museum, and the U.P. Beaumier Heritage Center.

State of the Union is the fourth work by Birman and Diel. Their first, Nostra Culpa, which dramatized the austerity-stimulus Twitter feud between economist Paul Krugman and Estonia President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, was quickly labeled the "Twitter opera" by the international press. It was featured by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, was the subject of a BBC documentary by Tanya Beckett, as well as covered in most every international newspaper.

Birman/Diel followed up with No. 289, an opera about the Russian border treaty of 1920 (Peace of Tartu), and a reworking of Erlkönig, both music and libretto, for the Oxford Lieder Festival.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir (Helsingin kamarikuoro) was founded in 1962 as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and assumed its current name in 2005. It is currently Finland’s only professional chamber choir.

The Helsinki Chamber Choir. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

The choir’s Artistic Director from 2005–2007 was Kimmo Hakola. Since 2007 Nils Schweckendiek has been responsible for the group's artistic planning. While its wide-ranging repertoire includes music from the Renaissance to the present day, the Helsinki Chamber Choir is particularly highly regarded for its work with new music. The choir regularly commissions new works and has given over 50 world premieres in the seasons since 2005, as well as more than 30 Finnish first performances. The choir appears frequently at major Finnish music festivals and collaborates with orchestras and Baroque and contemporary music ensembles. Recent touring has included concerts in Russia, Estonia and Belgium.

Here is the Performance Schedule for State of the Union:

Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m. -- Forest Roberts Theatre, Northern Michigan University campus, Marquette, Mich.

Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. -- Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen, Mich.

Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. -- Rozsa Center, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Mich.

Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. -- Arts Center, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste Marie, Mich.

Oct. 6, 6 p.m. -- Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City

For more information or tickets for the Rozsa performance, contact Michigan Tech Ticketing Services at the Central Ticket Office (SDC), at 906-487-2073, or go online at

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Celebrate Michigan's 2016 French Canadian Heritage week with music, dance, folk songs, storytimes, more ...

"Je te plumerai la tête ...Alouette!" sing the members of Maple Sugar Folk during their recent concert of French Canadian folk songs at the Portage Lake District Library. The group, led by Dave Bezotte, fourth from left, will sing again this Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Lake Linden Farmers' Market -- a preview of Michigan's coming French Canadian Heritage Celebration next week. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

LAKE LINDEN -- Maple Sugar Folk will offer a preview of next week's French Canadian Heritage Celebration with Live music and French-Canadian Folk Songs from noon to 1 p.m. and possibly later during the Lake Linden Farmers' Market Saturday, Sept. 24. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring a blanket and enjoy the goods and the music.

Another preview event will be Portage Lake District Library's Children's Storytime with French-Canadian stories and crafts and French-Canadian Folk Songs at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24. The library is at 58 Huron St. in Houghton.

During the 2015 French Canadian Heritage Celebration, children at the Portage Lake District Library Storytime enjoy a story about voyageurs read by Chris Alquist, the library's community programs coordinator. This year the library will host a French Canadian Children's Storytime at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, and at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, and Thursday, Sept. 29. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Here is a schedule of the 2016 French Canadian Heritage events coming up next week:

September 28 (Wednesday)

10:15 a.m. CHILDREN’S STORYTIME AT PORTAGE LAKE DISTRICT LIBRARY, 58 Huron St., Houghton. French-Canadian stories and crafts. 

7 p.m. -9 p.m. DANCE at the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy, Hancock. Celebrate Finlandia University’s Festival Ruska and Michigan’s French-Canadian Heritage Week by dancing to Finnish and French-Canadian music by the Thimbleberry Band: folk dances, waltzes, schottisches, polkas and other favorites. $6 admission.

September 29 (Thursday)

10:15 a.m. CHILDREN’S STORYTIME AT PORTAGE LAKE DISTRICT LIBRARY, 58 Huron St., Houghton. French-Canadian stories and crafts. 

7 p.m. - 8 p.m. CONCERT AT THE CHASSELL HERITAGE CENTER, 42373 Hancock Ave, Chassell. Lively fiddle tunes and step dancing by Emma and Susan Dlutkowski and French-Canadian folk and response songs lead by Maple Sugar Folk. Doors open at 6 p.m., so come early to view the exhibits. Free admission - donations appreciated.

During the 2015 French Canadian Concert at the Chassell Heritage Center, Emma Dlutkowski performs on the fiddle with lively step dancing, accompanied by her mother, Susan Dlutkowski on keyboard and her dad, Dave Harmon, on percussion. This year Emma and Susan will perform at the Chassell Heritage Center on Thursday, Sept. 29, along with Maple Sugar Folk. (Keweenaw Now file photo)  

October 2 (Sunday)

3:00 p.m. ORGAN RECITAL BY FR. CORBIN EDDY AT ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH, 701 Calumet St., Lake Linden. Performed on the Quebec-made Casavant Frères pipe organ, the recital will feature organ compositions by French-Canadian and French composers and will include vocal soloists and Gregorian Chant. There will be no admission charge, but a free-will offering will be taken.

For more information, contact David Bezotte at or 906-370-4956.

* Visit the Maple Sugar Folk Facebook page for more photos and videos of their performances.

In Marquette, French Canadian Heritage will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in the Beaumier Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University. Click here for the events.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

U.P. Breaking News: Coast Guard leads air, water search for boating family missing on Lake Superior

By Greg Peterson
Posted on U.P. Breaking News Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016
and updated at 3:15 p.m. today

[Editor's Note: See below for updates to this article.]

BARAGA -- U.P. Breaking News has confirmed that a massive air and water search using dozens of boats, airplanes and helicopters has been launched to find a family -- two adults and one child -- who are missing on Lake Superior.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) tells U.P. Breaking News that their largest plane -- C-130s from North Carolina -- flew in last night and returned back to North Carolina, leaving the search to Canadian Coast Guard with similar planes. The C-130 from North Carolina is returning to the scene.

The search is on Lake Superior along the Keweenaw Peninsula, since the boat left from the Portage area.

Click here to listen to U.P. Breaking News exclusive interviews with USCG officials in Sault Ste. Marie and USCG Ninth District HQ out of Cleveland, Ohio.

U.P. Breaking News is withholding the name of the family that was reported missing about 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, when they failed to return to shore to attend a fish fry. Their trailer and truck have been found.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Coast Guard at (906) 635-3233.

Update from U.P. Breaking News: At 10:45 a.m. Monday, Sept. 19, the USCG again issued its all-mariners broadcast looking for the 14-foot boat with a canvas top that left Portage area of the Copper Country. These are the missing people on Lake Superior: 61-year-old Keith Karvonen of Atlantic Mine, Mich., 43-year-old Steven Chartre of Negaunee/Ishpeming area and his 9-year-old son Ethan.

Another Update from U.P. Breaking News: On Monday afternoon, Sept. 19, Commander Carolyn Moberley, Chief of Response, USCG Sector Sault Ste. Marie, has stated the search will continue tonight and into tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 20. She reports the 140-foot U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay from St. Ignace joined the search today. Commander Moberley requests that anyone who talked to the occupants of the boat, or saw them before their trip, needs to call the U.S. Coast Guard since even a small piece of information may be valuable. Click here for the interview. 

Editor's Note: Click here for a photo of the missing boat on Marquette's TV 6 News.

Friday, September 16, 2016

27th annual Parade of Nations is Sept. 17

Indian students walk across the Portage Lift Bridge during the 2015 Parade of Nations. This year's Parade of Nations begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Hancock. Construction on Quincy Street has progressed and the parade will follow the usual route from Hancock to Houghton, ending at Dee Stadium for the Multicultural Festival of international food and entertainment. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo).

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of News and Media Relations
With photos by Keweenaw Now 

HOUGHTON -- Passport to the World is the theme of the 2016 Parade of Nations. The 27th annual Parade of Nations this Saturday, Sept. 17, is a celebration of the international heritage and flavor of our community.

It kicks off at 11 a.m. with a parade from Hancock to the Dee Stadium in Houghton, with floats, bands and marchers in traditional dress carrying the flags of their countries.

Students and community members from many countries carry their flags and wear colorful traditional dress in the Parade of Nations. Here they cross the Portage Lift Bridge on the way to Houghton. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo)

Floats in the parade will compete for $500 in cash prizes. Anyone who brings an "I Love Parade of Nations" sign to the parade will be entered in a Chicago Weekend Family Getaway drawing for a prize package that includes airfare, hotel and entertainment.

During the 2015 Parade, this young representative of Kyrgyzstan carries an "I love Parade of Nations" sign to be eligible for a prize. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo)

Ever eaten Moroccan food? Food from Bangladesh? How about Turkey? Those are just a few of more than 20 nations whose cuisines you can sample at the Multicultural Festival in Dee Stadium, following the parade.

Admission is free; meals or snacks can be purchased at the food booths.

Dee Stadium in Houghton is the scene of the Multicultural Festival. Booths with a variety of international cuisines welcome visitors. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo)

During the Multicultural Festival, entertainers representing many countries and traditions will perform on a raised stage. They include the Kivijat Dancers; cloggers; music and Bollywood dancers from the Michigan Tech Indian Students Association; Bells on the Bay, a group of handbell performers; singer Jan Arnold, who accompanies herself on the guitar; the Michigan Tech Dance Squad; and Bob Hiltunen, a singer who plays guitar, bass and keyboards. The Michigan Tech Pep Band will march in the Parade.

The Copper Country Cloggers are a favorite part of the entertainment in Dee Stadium. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo) Click below to see a slide show with more Keweenaw Now photos of the 2015 Parade of Nations.

Jam-skating at Rozsa Center

The headline act this year is Breaksk8, a professional jam-skating team that likes to push the limits of dancing with wheels under your shoes.

They have toured the world and appeared in films. Breaksk8 will skate in the parade on Saturday, Sept. 17, and put on a colorful show at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

BreakSk8 has amazed audiences around the globe with their unique style of entertainment on wheels. Never before have roller skating and break dancing been combined in such an acrobatic, athletic, artistic and precise display of talent. Tickets are on sale now, $10 for adults, $5 for youth, and free for Michigan Tech Students with the Experience Tech Fee. Call (906) 487-2073 or purchase tickets on line at

Parade of Nations is sponsored by Michigan Technological University, Finlandia University, the cities of Houghton and Hancock, and a wide variety of local civic organizations and businesses.

Editor's Note:

Click here to see Keweenaw Now's photo album with more photos of the 2015 Parade of Nations.To view it as a slide show, click on the first photo and follow the arrows to the right. Click on the info icon to see the captions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 Pipe Out Paddle flotilla protests Enbridge's Line 5 Pipeline under Mackinac Straits

By Michele Bourdieu

Miguel Levy of Houghton took this photo of the "Shut Down Line 5" banner from his kayak during the Sept. 3, 2016, Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's 63-year-old pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. At right is the south end of the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

MACKINAW CITY -- For the second year in a row, concerned citizens -- Native and non-Native -- paddled kayaks and canoes from the beach near Lighthouse Park in Mackinaw City to protest Enbridge's 63-year-old Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The 2016 Pipe Out Paddle flotilla protest attracted about 150 participants and included two launches on Saturday, Sept. 3 -- two days before the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk

Miguel and Anita Levy of Houghton participated in the Pipe Out Paddle event for the second year. This time they happened to be walking in Mackinaw City the preceding evening and joined other activists in an impromptu event, carrying cardboard letters made with little light bulbs to protest both the Line 5 pipeline and the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Each person carried one letter to form the signs and they walked towards the highway to attract the attention of passing cars.

On Sept. 2, the night before the Pipe Out Paddle event, protesters convey their message with lighted cardboard letters in Mackinaw City. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

On Saturday Miguel paddled a kayak for the first time ever to join the flotilla protest.

On Sept. 3, 2016, Miguel Levy of Houghton sets out from shore to join kayaks and canoes paddling near the Mackinac Bridge for the second annual kayactivist protest against Enbridge's 63-year-old Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. A tribal security boat accompanies the group. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

"It was exciting to have this connection emphasizing the need to protect our water, sacred water to the Native American peoples, water important for all of us, clearly against the profit-making interests of the Oil Companies," Anita said.

Darren Weinnert, a young tourist and photographer from Altoona, Pennsylvania, was on his way to the Upper Peninsula, hoping to visit the Keweenaw -- destination Copper Harbor -- when he learned about the protest and attended the event.

On his way to the U.P., Pennsylvania resident Darren Weinnert poses with two lovely protesters at the Pipe Out Paddle event -- Mari Raphael, left, of Peshawbestown, Mich., a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and Denise Sica of Northport, Mich. -- both from the Leelanau Peninsula on Lake Michigan. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I think it's awesome," Weinnert said of this second Pipe Out Paddle protest to create awareness of the dangers to Great Lakes waters from a potential oil spill. "Global warming is a concern, but nobody pays attention to the water."

Kayactivists at the Sept. 3, 2016, Pipe Out Paddle protest, raise their "Water is Life" banner. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Another tourist who just happened to arrive at the event, not knowing what it was about at first, was Ryan Haury of Ferndale, Mich., who had been camping at the nearby Dark Sky Park and was excited about having seen Northern Lights over the Mackinac Bridge during his stay.

"Sustainable energy is the future -- water, solar, wind -- not fossil fuels," Haury said. "I think fossil fuels -- coal and oil -- are only being used now because of lobbyists controlling the decisions of politicians -- lining their pockets with money in order to keep coal and oil running."

Haury noted the fact that Republicans deny that global warming exists is due to this lobbying for coal and oil.

"And I miss Bernie Sanders," he added.

Jannan Cornstalk, citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands (LTBB) of Odawa Indians and organizer of the event, was pleased with the number of participants, considering the fact that many activists had gone to the Dakotas to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against the North Dakota Access Pipeline, happening at the same time.*

Pipe Out Paddle organizer Jannan Cornstalk, right, is pictured here with her daughter, Jannan Cotto. Both are from Petoskey, Mich., and citizens of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB). Cotto is also LTBB education director. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I'm really pleased with the turnout, and the weather is stellar," Cornstalk told Keweenaw Now, "and I'm glad that the tribal jiimans (large canoes) were able to come."

A jiiman (tribal canoe) participates in the Sept. 3, 2016, Pipe Out Paddle protest near the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

Kayaks and canoes return to shore after their morning launch. A second launch was held in the afternoon. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

During an interview by a local TV station, Cornstalk speaks about the reasons for Pipe Out Paddle event and confirms the group's solidarity with those protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline:

In a TV interview Pipe Out Paddle organizer Jannan Cornstalk speaks about the importance of protecting the water from a potential oil spill from the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac and thanks other groups for their support of the event. Holding the AIM (American Indian Movement) flag in the background are, from left, Joann Carey of Petoskey, LTBB elder; Joan Jacobs of Port Huron, LTBB citizen; and Tamela Okerley of Petoskey, LTBB citizen and elder outreach coordinator for the Michigan Indian Elders Association. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Tamela Okerley of Petoskey, elder outreach coordinator for the Michigan Indian Elders Association, said 11 of 12 Michigan tribes have signed a resolution requesting the shutdown of Line 5.**

"That resolution will be going out to the Governor and state reps and other politicians," Okerley noted. "The elders are the water keepers."

Wearing AIM (American Indian Movement) t-shirts, LTTB citizens Michael Smith of Harbor Springs and Tamela Okerley of Petoskey, show their solidarity with AIM values.

Michael Smith of Harbor Springs, LTTB citizen and AIM representative, explained why he, Okerley and others were wearing AIM t-shirts.

"We're wearing what we believe their beliefs are -- to stand up for our rights," Smith said.

One of the groups involved in the Pipe Out Paddle event was MICATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands). Duncan, a member of MICATS, came from Lansing to join the protest against Line 5.

"I came because this is an issue about not only protesting the water that sustains us but also because it's part of the ongoing struggle against settler colonialism," Duncan said. "Indigenous folks who've lived here for hundreds of years are calling for this pipeline to be shut down, and I'm here because I want to take a stand against the violence that's been perpetrated by my ancestors."

Duncan of MICATS traveled from Lansing for the protest against Line 5. He is a history major about to graduate from Michigan State University. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Valerie Jean of Detroit, photographer and member of MICATS and DCATS (Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands), helped organize the Pipe Out Paddle protest for the second year.

"To me we are at a monumental moment where we have to, by any means necessary, get Line 5 decommissioned for future generations," Valerie Jean said. "We're actually taking future generations' lives and putting them in jeopardy by having that oil pipeline run through the Great Lakes."

June Thaden of Traverse City, board member of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, said her group is working with Oil and Water Don't Mix on their project to shut down Line 5.***

"Water is life," Thaden said, means "the economy up here -- in all of northern Michigan, even in Traverse City, will be affected. "Who wants to see water with oil in it?"

She noted especially the effect a spill would have on tourism in the area.

"Even if somehow they manage to clean it up so it's not visible, people will still remember and tourists will not even come here," Thaden added.

After enjoying the free lunch offered by the Pipe Out Paddle organizers, kayactivists from the Traverse City area look forward to participating in the afternoon kayak/canoe launch. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Marti Wesley, a retired teacher from Saginaw, said she just learned about the Line 5 pipeline via Facebook during the past eight months. She belongs to a kayak group and said she was looking forward to participating in the afternoon launch. Since it was Labor Day weekend she wasn't able to convince other members of the group to attend so she drove up to Mackinaw City by herself.

"Retirees should be out there," Wesley noted. "That's why I'm here."

Press Conference speakers on "Water is Life"

Between lunchtime and the afternoon launch, organizer Jannan Cornstalk hosted a press conference with speakers of different ages who gave testimonies on the importance of protecting the water.

John Petoskey, a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band, reminded the audience of the current legal status of a petition to end fracking in Michigan. He was followed by young Cole Mays and his mother, Melissa Mays, who spoke about living in Flint with the water pollution crisis there.

During the press conference at the 2016 Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, two speakers call attention to additional water issues in Michigan. John Petoskey of the Grand Traverse Band asks for signatures on a petition against fracking, and Cole Mays talks about what it is like to live in Flint where the water remains polluted. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Melissa Mays, Cole's mother, speaks about the hardships and dangerous health effects still endured by Flint families because of the poisoning of their drinking water with lead and other pollutants. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)****

Fred Harrington, local resident and LTBB citizen, spoke about enjoying the water with his grandson and his concern that an oil spill in the Straits could ruin the whole area.

Fred Harrington of LTBB speaks about his concerns for the water. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Humans need water. We don't own it. It owns us," Harrington said. "We have to take care of the water."

Harrington added that citizens cannot let commercialism and capitalism destroy the water here as it has in other parts of the world.

Karlee Exelby, 10, spoke at the press conference on her love of the water. Here she is pictured with her mother, Tina Dominic. Karlee and her Mom, LTBB citizens from Petoskey, volunteered to do face painting at the event. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Aaron Payment, chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, spoke during the press conference about the failures of state officials to act on the dangers of a potential oil spill from the aging Line 5 pipeline under the Straits. He gave several reasons for his position: shutting down Line 5.

During the press conference, Aaron Payment, Sault Tribe chairman, describes the devastation that would result from an oil spill in the area -- including, he says, the damage to Mackinac Island, which would have to be evacuated. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Jannan Cornstalk summed up the concerns of the activists at the Pipe Out Paddle event, noting that, following a prophecy, water is going to be like gold in the future.

"Our water is in a state of emergency right now," she said.

Oil and Water Don't Mix campaign calls for action

Several representatives from tribal and environmental groups participated in the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. One of these groups, Oil and Water Don't Mix, posted on Facebook a video of their effort to speak to the Governor during a press conference following his completion of the walk. He barely answered their question and walked away.

Click here to see two Oil and Water Don't Mix videos on their Facebook page from their protest at the end of the Labor Day Bridge Walk (Sept. 5, 2016).

A news article from Oil and Water Don't Mix dated today, Sept. 14, 2016, states the following:

"Following a plea for urgent action from one of Gov. Rick Snyder’s top oil pipeline advisors, citizens groups committed to ending the threat of oil spills in the Great Lakes today called on the state’s pipeline safety panel to stop the flow of oil through Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac during dangerous icy winter months when oil spill recovery is nearly impossible."

Click here to read the rest of this Oil and Water Don't Mix article and to sign on to the letter calling for action.


* Read about the Standing Rock protest here.

** Click here for a list of individual tribal resolutions against Line 5.

*** See Oil and Water Don't Mix for information about their campaign.

**** Click here to see the Detroit Free Press timeline on the Flint water crisis.