Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keweenaw Now announces 2007 Photo Contest winners

HANCOCK -- As the end of 2007 approaches, let us praise Lake Superior and its watershed, the greatest natural resource of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, now threatened by potentially destructive mining. Let us express our love for the Big Lake -- its beauty, its wildlife and its recreational and educational features -- with some photo memories of 2007.

Keweenaw Now presents the winners of our first Lake Superior Photo Contest. Last fall we invited readers to submit amateur photos in three categories: landscapes, wildlife and responsible action (environmental stewardship or responsible recreation in the Lake Superior watershed). Here are the winning photos, as judged by photographer Eric Munch of Calumet.

Landscape category: First place goes to Joe Kaplan of Hancock for his photo of a sunset at Lane Cove, on Isle Royale.

This photo of a sunset at Lane Cove, Isle Royale, wins first place in the landscape category of Keweenaw Now's Lake Superior photo contest.

Winning second place in the landscapes is this photo by Bryan McKamey of Copper Harbor:

Taking second place in the landscape category is this photo of the Lake Superior shoreline just west of the Hunter's Point area in Copper Harbor. The photographer, Bryan McKamey of Copper Harbor, notes the young woman in the photo is his daughter Aliza.

Wildlife category: Joe Kaplan takes another first place with this photo of Isle Royale wildlife:

Joe Kaplan's candid shot of this red squirrel taking his siesta at Blake Point, Isle Royale, wins first place in the wildlife category.

Second place for wildlife goes to Dan Larson of Skanee for this photo of a loon taken while kayaking on Dirkman Lake:

Dan Larson of Skanee wins second place in the wildlife category for this photo of a loon on Dirkman Lake.

Stewardship category:
Winning first place in the stewardship category is Sue Haralson, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) administrator, for her photo of volunteers pulling knapweed at the Joseph and Mary Lizzadro Preserve on Lake Superior, between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor. Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) is an aggressive weed that is crowding out native plants at both the Lizzadro and the Bete Grise Preserves. Last July HKCD sponsored the knapweed pulling at both preserves.

Volunteers pull Spotted knapweed, an invasive, non-native plant, at the Lizzadro Preserve on Lake Superior July 18, 2007. Sue Haralson, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) administrator, takes first place in the stewardship category for this photo. Pictured here in the foreground are Janet Shea, right, of Keweenaw County, and her grandson Nathan Ozment of Sheboygan, Wis. Pictured in the background are John Bowie and Larry Forth of Ahmeek. Others who helped (not pictured here) were Rachel Tarpey, Bonnie Hay, Rex and Nick Wilson and Gina Nicholas.

"It was a hot day with a lot of hard work; but the ice cold lemonade, chips and cookies hit our spot!" Haralson noted. "Nine people showed up, and we filled 16 large garbage bags with knapweed."

Second place in the stewardship category also goes to Sue Haralson for her photo of participants in the Gratiot Lake Conservancy's Reading the Landscape (RTL) program last summer. On July 21, 2007, RTL participants visited Bete Grise beaches with educators Jim and Judy St. Arnold and writer and teacher Peter Blau to gain an Ojibwe perspective on both historical and current use of natural resources along the shore.

Second place in the stewardship category goes to Sue Haralson for this photo of Reading the Landscape participants walking along the beach at Bete Grise South, famous for its "singing sands."

Keweenaw Now wishes to thank those who sent photos for our first Lake Superior photo contest. Readers, please save your best 2008 photos for next year's contest!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sulfide mine opponents sue MDEQ for issuing illegal permits

MARQUETTE -- One week after a controversial decision by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to permit a sulfide mine in the central Upper Peninsula, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Huron Mountain Club and Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve filed, on Dec. 21, 2007, a contested case petition and a lawsuit against the MDEQ as the first step in a legal challenge to halt the mine.

"The opponents of the mine have presented MDEQ with over 1000 pages of unequivocal evidence that Kennecott’s proposed sulfide mine does not meet the state’s legal requirements and would result in profound pollution, impairment and destruction of air, water and other natural resources," Michelle Halley, attorney for NWF and the other co-petitioners explained. "The MDEQ has issued permits that are based upon defective, inadequate and incomplete applications and are therefore illegal," she added.

Read the rest of this press release on Save the Wild UP.
Read the Marquette Mining Journal article.

Read also the article, "Rio Tinto Poised to Open 6 More Projects on the Yellow Dog Plains" concerning plans by Rio Tinto (Kennecott's parent company) to expand its mining operations in the U.P. beyond the current Eagle Project in order to meet demands for nickel, especially from China.

See also other related articles on Save the Wild UP, including Congressman Bart Stupak's statement expressing his disappointment at the DEQ decision to permit the Eagle Project sulfide mine near Marquette.
Photo: A fall 2006 view of the Salmon Trout River, which flows through an area proposed for Kennecott Minerals' Eagle Project sulfide mine. The river contains a rare population of Coaster Brook Trout. (Photo © 2007 and courtesy lexup at Save the Wild UP. Reprinted with permission.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finlandia hosting traveling exhibit Dec. 20-Jan. 31*

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Gallery, in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, is hosting the traveling art exhibition, "A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home," from Dec. 20, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2008.*

"Calling for Other Coordinates," Mixed Media by Ingrid Blixt of Escanaba. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Organized by the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), and co-curated by artists Joyce Koskenmaki and Christine Saari, "A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home" features eleven artists from across the Upper Peninsula whose work reflects their feelings about living here.

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

At the reception, Jon Saari, UPEC board president, and several participating artists will give a brief gallery talk about the goals of UPEC and the role of artists in celebrating the Upper Peninsula ’s unique beauty.

The exhibit includes pieces in various media from Joyce Koskenmaki of Hancock; John Lundeen of Munising; Ron Lukey, Christine Saari, Patrick St. Germain and Vicki Allison Phillips of Marquette; Ingrid Blixt of Escanaba; Eric Munch of Calumet; Peg Sandin of Ironwood; Jan Manniko from the Keweenaw; and Rex Marsh of Sault Ste. Marie.

Co-curator Joyce Koskenmaki has a special connection to the Upper Peninsula: "My grandparents came from Finland and settled in Baraga County around the turn of the century. I was raised here, imprinted by the land and climate and grounded in family history," Koskenmaki says. "I helped curate this exhibition because I wanted to celebrate what growing up here and coming back to live here after a lifetime away has meant to me as a Finnish-American woman. It is a very special history, and this is a very special place."

"Passage Island," Ink and Watercolor on Paper by Joyce Koskenmaki of Hancock. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Choosing artists who share her love of the Upper Peninsula was an easy task for Koskenmaki.

"There are many wonderful artists living in the Upper Peninsula. These artists choose to live in the relative wilderness for many reasons; chief among them is the love for place," she notes.

"The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition," Koskenmaki explains, "is concerned about encroaching development, as well as the effects of climate change, forest fragmentation and (metallic) sulfide mining. This exhibition honors the voices of artists who love the land and feel deeply connected to it, offering their work as a celebration and an act of love and concern."

Connecting the themes of nature and home was obvious for Jon Saari of UPEC.

"Home is where we want to be most, where we have chosen to root our lives and to get to know a place deeply and broadly," Jon Saari says. "It sets man-made and natural places together: the house in the yard, the camp in the clearing, the canoe on the lake, the trail in the woods. At home, nature is familiar and approachable; and in small doses we are most at ease with it."

Saari adds the "celebration" in this exhibit is more meaningful than fireworks or partying.

"At the deeper levels, we honor what we celebrate," he says. "We honor the U.P. not because it is an easy or convenient place to live, but because it tempers us with long winters and black flies and rewards us with quiet outings in beautiful and remote places."

"A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home" will be on display through Jan. 31, 2008.

*Update: Please note the gallery will be closed from Dec. 22 through Jan. 1, but will re-open Jan. 2.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Turquoise Gallery to re-open Dec. 20

HANCOCK -- The Turquoise Gallery in Hancock is re-opening Thursday, Dec. 20, with a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for an exhibition called "Scrapbook" by Sevil Soyer. The exhibition will continue through Jan. 25.

Artist Sevil Soyer, right, and her sister, Serpil Narmanli, pose for a photo together at a previous Turquoise Gallery exhibit. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2003 Michele Anderson)

While she was away Sevil worked on a series of large paintings inspired by her friends here in the Copper Country.

"When I was in the Copper Country during the 6 years from 1999 to 2005, I met a lot of wonderful people," Soyer writes. "They were very kind, helpful and friendly. With the friendship during the 6 years, Houghton and Hancock became like a second home to me. I have unforgettable memories about these years. My last exhibition is about these people; it is a kind of diary from my life in the U.P. I dedicate this exhibition to my wonderful friends and to the people of the U.P."

The Turquoise Art Gallery is in the E.L.Wright Building (old school) in Hancock. Phone: 906-370-7332.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sheriff Lahti collects toys for Keweenaw tots

By Carissa and Deborah Pavolich

EAGLE RIVER -- In his 10th year of collecting for Toys For Tots, Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti is once again conducting business amidst a mass of toys and other donations gathered in his office. While taking phone calls, patrolling Keweenaw County, and taking care of the Keweenaw County Jail inmates, he still finds time to help families who are experiencing the strain of tight budgets during the holiday season.

In his office in Eagle River, Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti is collecting toys for tots for the 10th year. (Photo © 2007 Carissa Pavolich)

As we entered his office this Sunday morning, he was graciously accepting a donation from a local church. This donation and other monetary donations will be used to buy gifts and necessities, such as winter jackets and boots, for local area children. Sheriff Lahti receives a list of families who need that extra bit of help from the Family Independence Agency. Along with those names, he gets clothes sizes, ages and interests of each child so he can match them up with appropriate toys. The Eagle River "Courthouse Ladies" help Sheriff Lahti do the shopping each year.

Sheriff Lahti says, “In the last ten years, this has grown. We really appreciate the help we’ve gotten, because needy children who might not otherwise get Christmas gifts will get help.”

Though many people have dropped off their donations at his office in the Keweenaw Sheriff’s Department, others have used the alternate drop-off sites at Slim’s Café and Superior National Bank in Mohawk, The Eagle Harbor Inn in Eagle Harbor, or the Bear Belly Inn in Lac La Belle. People may make donations until Friday, December 21.

Any new toy still in its packaging may be brought to one of the drop-off sites. Toys may be purchased for boys or girls, infants through teenagers. Stocking stuffers, such as candy, may also be donated. No gift of money or toys is too big or too small. They all add up. If you have any questions or would like to donate an item, you may call Sheriff Lahti at 337-0528 or email him at ksheriff@pasty.com.

Editor's Note: Carissa and Deborah Pavolich are residents of Laurium. Carissa is a fifth grade student in the CLK Elementary School, while Deborah, her Mom, teaches second grade at CLK Elementary.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rally in Marquette Dec. 17 to show disappointment at DEQ approval of sulfide mine permits

Save the Wild UP sign in Chassell. (Photo © 2007 Gustavo Bourdieu for Keweenaw Now)

MARQUETTE -- Save the Wild UP invites others opposed to Kennecott's proposed metallic sulfide mine to join them at noon on Monday, Dec. 17, in front of the Marquette Post Office, to show community members' disappointment and opposition to the DEQ's recent approval of some of the required permits for the mine. Dress warm and feel free to bring a chair if needed.

If you do not live in the Marquette area, Save the Wild UP suggests showing your opposition to the proposed Kennecott project in your neighborhood. Put a sign in your yard (where permitted), get a group of people together in your city center, or write a letter to the editor!

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved on Dec. 14, 2007, a series of permits to the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. to conduct mining operations at their proposed Eagle Project Mine near Marquette. According to the DEQ press release, Kennecott must still acquire a surface use lease from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Read the DEQ press release. Read more on this issue at SavetheWildUP.

See also our Oct. 11 article on the public hearings, with comments by local residents, and the Oct. 14 Viewpoint article by Chuck Brumleve, geologist.

Keweenaw Now also invites readers to post comments or send us a letter with your viewpoint on this issue.

PasiCats to celebrate Pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) with song, dance Dec. 16

HANCOCK -- Musti says that Winter has arrived with a blast and it's time to celebrate Pikkujoulu (Little Christmas) with PasiCats music beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16.

Pasi says there will be no blizzard inside the Community Arts Center in Downtown Hancock. So take your family and your holiday spirit and head there to sing Finnish Christmas Carols and to loosen your muscles with PasiCats music.

Oren Tikkanen and Dave Bezotte will join Pasi on stage to lead the Finnish Christmas Carol sing-along between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. And don't worry, we'll bring you the lyrics.

PasiCats will take the stage at 3 p.m. and swing the place with their humppas and polkkas. But you never know Pasi. He might slip a couple of "Christmasy" tunes into the middle.....

The cover charge is $5. Finnish bakery items and coffee will be for sale.

Visit the PasiCats' new Web site!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Community Arts Center to hold Open House Dec. 14

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center will celebrate with a Holiday Open House from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14. A Gourmet Bake Sale and Silent Art Auction will be held throughout the day. Silent auction items can be picked up after the live auction.

Keweenaw Krayons will conduct Kids' Art Activities from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Stop in from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for Artist demos. Enjoy live music and sing-along Christmas favorites with Tom Hiltunen from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Guitar music by members of the CopperCountry Suzuki Association will be from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15.

Don't miss the Parade of Confections, beginning at 6:30 p.m., when Auctioneer Ray Sharp will conduct the Live Auction of Gourmet Desserts and Art. This will include, for example, Kathy Halverson's famous cookie suite and Joan Chadde's pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap pecan crust, as well as a traditional yule log, flan, chocolate bonbons, etc., etc.

Take advantage of your visit to the Arts Center to view the Pottery Exhibition in the Kerredge Gallery. The new exhibition, through Dec. 23, is the work of seven potters: Suzanne Hoppe, Rya Dalman, Mary Ann Predebon, Miriam Dobrofsky Pichens, Marsh LaTulip, Lenni Rukavina, and Elaine Eikenberry. All work is for sale.

There will also be an exhibition of wonderful Art from the Calumet Schools in the Youth Gallery. The Friday Open House celebration will also be the opening reception for this event. The work is up now and will be there through December 22. Don't miss this great work by students from first through twelfth grades!

The Community Arts Center announces these winners of the Shaft Show Community Choice awards: Kevin Breyfogle, Tammy Toj Gajewski and Jan Manniko. Honorable Mentions are awarded to Kristine Danielson and Kathy Carlton Johnson.

Updated: Guatemalan market postponed; newsletter available

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP) Market of jewelry and textiles, ornaments and bags, originally scheduled for Dec. 20-21, has been postponed to a later date.

Read the latest stories from accompaniers in Guatemala, including news of the September elections, in the November 2007 CCGAP Newsletter, now available on their Web site.

The Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP) is a group of organizations and individuals who financially support accompaniers to serve as human rights observers and a deterrent to the violence that threatens people in Guatemala who are struggling for justice and an end to impunity. The Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP) is a branch of the national organization, NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with the people of Guatemala).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

MTU to host U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championship races Jan. 1-6

HOUGHTON -- For the second year in a row, the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championship races will be held Jan. 1-6, 2008, at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center (MTU Trails).

Skiers approach the finish of the individual sprint race during the 2007 U.S. Cross Country Championship races held at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center. Competitors cover a 1.5 km course, working their way through the bracket to reach the finals. Pictured here are Torin Koos (center), who finished second and Kris Freeman (right, in the yellow "Leader" bib). Both are two-time Olympians. (Photo © 2007 Adam Johnson of brockit.com. Reprinted with permission.)

Members of the U.S. Ski Team -- including Olympians Kris Freeman, Andy Newell and Kikkan Randall -- will be among the 400 skiers competing in the four-race, week-long extravaganza.

"We will have the top skiers in the country here," said organizing committee chair Mike Abbott, director of MTU sports and recreation. "Our stadium area is very spectator friendly, and this is a rare opportunity to see this caliber of event in the Midwest."

Those top skiers include members of the US Disabled Team, who compete on sit-ski devices, using their arms and poles to propel themselves around the course.

For details on the race see the full article on Tech Today.

Volunteers needed for Christmas Classic Nordic ski races Dec. 15, 16

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech will hold its annual Christmas Classic Nordic ski races Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center (MTU Trails).There will be probably 70-100 college and high school racers. Volunteers are needed to help with the timing. This would involve being at the trail from approximately 9 a.m. through 1 p.m., and this is an indoor job (in the timing hut), unless you want to be outside at the finish line. You can help on one day or, if your schedule allows, both days.

Recording stopwatches will be used for timing, which means the jobs are: 1) pressing the button on the stop watch when someone finishes; 2) writing down a bib number when someone finishes; or 3) calling out bib numbers as people finish. For #1 and #2, more than one person will be doing the job (for redundancy and in case a stopwatch malfunctions). There is also a youth 2 km event that will start about 1 p.m., and a couple of people will be needed to stay for that.

If you are interested, please email deanwoodbeck@gmail.com.

The race will feature the race courses to be used for the 2008 U.S. Cross Country Championships, which will take place Jan. 1-6, 2008, in Houghton. The event is also a Great Lakes Division Junior Olympics qualifier. For more information on the races see www.keweenawtrails.com or contact Joe Haggenmiller (487-2986 or jjhaggen@mtu.edu).

Carnegie Museum to offer Food exhibit, presentation on potato farming Dec. 14

HOUGHTON -- A reception for the Michigan Tech Archives exhibit "Scrounging for Food: Copper Country Foodways during the Great Depression" will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, in the Carnegie Museum (former Portage Library).

At 6:30 p.m., Erik Nordberg, MTU archivist, will give a presentation about this exhibit, which tells the history of potato farming in the Upper Peninsula during the Great Depression. The exhibit features photographs from the MTU collection and memorabilia from many area potato farmers.

The Carnegie Museum is located on the corner of Huron and Montezuma streets in historic downtown Houghton. Winter hours at the museum are Tuesdays, 12 noon - 7 p.m.; Thursdays, 12 noon - 5 p.m.; and Saturdays, 12 noon - 4 p.m.

Open House Dec. 18

The Carnegie museum will hold an Open House from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18. Gingerbread houses will be on display, including a "walk-through" house for small children. The public is invited to share in cookie decorating, Storytime by a Portage Lake District Library librarian, holiday cookies and warming drinks for all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Finlandia to celebrate Finnish Independence Day Dec. 6

HANCOCK -- The 90th anniversary of Finland ’s independence will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center on Quincy Street in Hancock.

The keynote speaker is Finlandia President Philip Johnson, who joins the celebration for the first time as president of the university.

A selection of Finnish music will be performed by local musicians Pasi Lautala, Oren Tikkanen, and David Bezotte; and a two-act play, The Boarding House, will be presented.

Pasi Lautala, left, and Hannu Leppanen appear as a trammer and a mine worker in a previous performance of The Boarding House, which will be presented on Dec. 6, Finnish Independence Day, at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

The Boarding House is a drama written in the 1920s for the Finnish American cooperative and labor movement. It depicts an afternoon in the life of three miners as they cope with naturalization problems and try to find the perfect woman. The play will be performed in Finnish.

Tanja Aho, a German-Finnish national, translated the play. Aho, whose research interests are in Finnish-American literature, recently completed an internship with the Finlandia archives. She attends the Ernst-Mortiz-Arndt University in Greifswald, Germany .

Now a member of the European Union, Finland was part of the Swedish realm for some 600 years until 1809 when it became attached to the Russian empire. In 1906 Finland acquired its own national parliament; and on Dec. 6, 1917, a Russian revolution prompted Finland to declare herself independent. Russia’s Bolshevik government recognized Finnish independence on Dec. 31, 1917.

Traditionally, Finnish Independence Day is a solemn observance of those that made freedom possible for Finland. In recent decades, however, celebrations often include fireworks, parades and celebratory cakes decorated with the blue and white Finnish flag.

For more information about this year’s program, please contact James Kurtti, director of the Finnish American Heritage Center, at 906-487-7302.

Students' Reflection Gallery to host receptions Dec. 6

Preceding the Independence Day celebration, the student-run Reflection Gallery at Finlandia University’s Portage Campus will open an exhibit by studio arts senior Christine Sommerfeldt with a reception and artist’s talk at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6.

Sommerfeldt’s work will be exhibited through Dec. 21, 2007. Her show, “Sun Over Revolving Cycles,” is a series of four large oil paintings, each titled for one of the four seasons.

Also on Thursday afternoon, at 5 p.m., the Reflection Gallery will host a reception for the Bohemian Artist Coalition’s pre-holiday silent auction. The silent auction student art work is on display, and bids are being accepted until Dec. 14. At the reception, student ceramic works will be available for purchase, and a ceramics demonstration will take place. More than half the sales price will be donated to the Bohemian Artists’ Coalition. With the funds, the student club plans either to take a trip or to re-invest in Portage Campus facilities.

The Reflection Gallery is on the second level of Finlandia’s Portage Campus, Hancock. For additional information, please contact Yueh-mei Cheng, at 487-7375.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Updated (Dec. 6, 2007): Keweenaw Mountain Lodge unable to open this winter

By Michele Anderson

MOHAWK -- The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge in Copper Harbor, owned by Keweenaw County, will not remain open this winter as projected. Several setbacks, including needed water and sewer repairs and delay in the winterization of the motel and cabins, have obliged County officials to postpone the first winter opening of the Lodge until next year.

This photo, taken in late June 2007, shows one entrance to the new Conference Center addition to the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge near Copper Harbor. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)

In its first season, the new Conference Center, which opened last spring, has been a success; and advance reservations for next year will continue to be taken during this winter, since two employees will remain on duty despite the closing -- Wendy Lampela, the bookkeeper, and Michele Olson, who takes reservations. Darlene Bjorn, former general manager of the Lodge, has expressed a wish to resign as general manager but to remain as manager of the Conference Center.

The Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners recently decided to seek independent professional management for the Lodge -- a decision that has met with considerable opposition from the County Parks and Recreation Commission and from some local business owners.

At their Nov. 7 meeting, the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners voted three to two to pass a Resolution to contract independent professional management for the Lodge. For the last 18 months, the reponsibility for management oversight has been handled by the Keweenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, originally made up of 10 members. At the Nov. 7 meeting County Commissioner Joe Langdon, who represents the County Board on the Parks and Recreation Commission, voted against the Resolution along with County Commissioner Randy Eckloff.

Langdon expressed much opposition to the Resolution and challenged the Board Members who voted for it, County Board Chair Don Keith and Commissioners Frank Stubenrauch and Al Gunnari, on its legality. He complained he hadn't been told about it in advance of the Nov. 7 meeting and felt it was unfair to pass the Resolution in the absence of most of the members of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Langdon and Sam Raymond were the only Parks and Recreation commissioners present at the Nov. 7 meeting.

Keith defended the resolution, which removes the Parks and Recreation Commission from management oversight of the Lodge, saying he had received legal advice from County Prosecuting Attorney Donna Jaaskelainen before introducing it.

"Many of the reasons are very sensitive legal issues," Keith said. "For the last 18 months the Parks and Recreation Commission has never coalesced into a cohesive unit of management."

In addition, the $28,000 feasibility study done on the Lodge before the Conference Center was built contained a recommendation that the County hire professional management for the facility.

County Commissioner Frank Stubenrauch said the Resolution follows the suggestion of that feasibility study.

The Resolution also "directs and charges the parks and recreation commission to plan, acquire, and develop a county-wide system of trails for all forms of recreation" as their "number one priority for growth of tourism and public access."

Sam Raymond, the one Parks and Recreation member to attend both meetings, has been working on non-motorized trails in the area for several years. He said he would continue to work on trails and he realized motorized trails are necessary for tourism.*

Sam Raymond, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, who has been working on non-motorized trails near the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, speaks at the Nov. 7 meeting of the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners. Raymond also spoke at the Nov. 21 County Board meeting, reading a letter expressing his opposition to the Resolution on the Mountain Lodge. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)

"I plan to continue to support the trails as I've done prior to to the establishment of the Parks and Recreation Commission," Raymond said. "I think the motorized trails are a necessity for the County, but we need a balance of both."

Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission attended the Nov. 21 County Board meeting and made extensive comments in opposition to the Resolution removing management oversight from their Commission. Several of the Parks and Recreation Commissioners asked the County Board to rescind the resolution. However, only the County Commissioners who voted for the Resolution would be permitted to make a motion to rescind it, and none of the three Commissioners who voted for it would agree to rescind it.**

Members of the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners listen to public comments during their Nov. 21 meeting in the Mohawk School. Pictured, from left, are Al Gunnari, Don Keith (Chair), Joe Langdon, Frank Stubenrauch, Randy Eckloff, Marilyn Winquist (Clerk) and Pauline Johnson. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)

Langdon also expressed the only nay vote against a motion to make Board Chairman Don Keith responsible for signing any Board-approved contracts for the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Keith and Stubenrauch both said they had legal advice confirming the legality of the County Board running the Lodge, which it has done in the past.

The Board unanimously approved transferring $90,000 from the Keweenaw County Economic Development Committee (EDC), as a loan to be repaid, to the general fund of the Mountain Lodge.

Keith has appointed an advisory search committee for recommending candidates for independent professional management of the Mountain Lodge. The committee includes County Commissioner Frank Stubenrauch; Phil Musser, executive director of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA, formerly the Keweenaw Industrial Council) and Kim Stoker, director of WUPPDR (Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region).

"I appointed Frank (to this advisory committee) because ... he is senior on this board with almost 16 years serving as a County Commissioner," Keith said. "He is highly respected in this County ....He has my total trust."

Citing the Board's Bylaws, Langdon questioned Keith's authority to create this (advisory) committee; but Keith replied he had the authority to appoint committees, based on conversations with Prosecuting Attorney Donna Jaaskelainen.

Stubenrauch acknowledged the work of the Parks and Recreation Committee on the Mountain Lodge expansion project.

"I think they were sincere in their efforts, and they put in a lot of time pro bono. They didn't even get paid mileage," Stubenrauch said.

Stubenrauch will serve as agent of the Board of Commissioners in regard to the Mountain Lodge.

"We have to open next winter (2008-2009)," he said.

County Board hears Parks and Recreation Commissioners' comments

While Keith did not give detailed answers to questions from Parks and Recreation Commissioners who attended the Nov. 21 meeting, he did allow them to express their views on the Resolution.

During the Nov. 21 meeting Sam Raymond -- after commending the County Board members for their continued support of the trails, both motorized and non-motorized -- read from his Nov. 8 letter addressed to the board and written after he had attended the Nov. 7 meeting.

"The manner in which this issue was handled under the radar illustrated a lack of professionalism and a total disrespect for the dedication and hard work put forth by the volunteers who serve on our Commission," Raymond wrote.

He supported the Parks and Recreation Commissioners as having the best interest in the success and profitability of the Mountain Lodge in mind, with commitment and a variety of expertise -- including people with backgrounds in marketing, engineering, management, retail, law, hospitality, accounting and recreation.

In his letter, Raymond objects that the entirety of the County Board was not adequately informed of the Resolution prior to the Nov. 7 meeting and that the Parks and Recreation Commission was not consulted in advance of the Resolution.

Raymond questioned whether the Board of Commissioners was really in a position to oversee the successful operation of the Lodge, given all their other responsibilities for the county.

Joel Tuoriniemi, Keweenaw County Road Commissioner and member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, read a letter from Ken Stigers, owner of the Pines Resort in Copper Harbor. Stigers was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission by a motion approved 4 to 1 at the Nov. 7 meeting of the Board of Commissioners. He replaces Frank Kastelic, who resigned from the Commission this fall. In the letter Stigers requests that the Board rescind their Resolution to contract independent professional management for the Lodge.

Joel Tuoriniemi, Keweenaw County Road commissioner and member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, addresses the County Board during their Nov. 21 meeting in the Mohawk School. Also pictured are, from left, Wendy Lampela, Lodge bookkeeper; Janet Shea, former Parks and Recreation commissioner; Al Gunnari, County commissioner and Don Keith, County Board chair. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)

Tuoriniemi also addressed the Board with some financial information about the Lodge operating losses this year, attributed in part to opening too soon (in May 2007) while construction was still in progress. He added the Parks and Recreation Committee's decision not to open this winter was based on information from U.P. Engineers and Architects concerning some infrastructure problems with the cabins and the motel.

"The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is deeded as a county park," Tuoriniemi said. "As a county park either a park and recreation commission has oversight or park trustees have oversight."

Tuoriniemi said Keweenaw County Prosecutor Donna Jaaskelainen had informed him this is the law.

Tuoriniemi asked Stubenrauch to make a motion to rescind the Resolution.

Peg Kauppi, Copper Harbor business owner, said she had made adjustments in her own business, including closing her dining room, in order to support the Mountain Lodge. She also asked that the Board rescind the Resolution. Admitting she didn't always agree with everything the Parks and Recreation Commission has done, she said she felt they deserved an apology.

Peg Kauppi, co-owner of the Mariner North in Copper Harbor, addresses the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners during their Nov. 21 meeting. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)

"We have a project that can be the biggest and best thing that has happened in Keweenaw County in a long, long time and for many, many years to come," Kauppi said. "But we can't do it this way. Those people are dedicated and committed, and that's what it takes."

Kauppi said the situation requires time and expertise the County Board doesn't have.

"And if you want to hire a management company, you still have to make that whole thing work," Kauppi added.

Lodge financial situation a factor in Resolution on management

Stubenrauch admitted the Resolution "was handled badly," but said the County Board is going to take over the responsibility because of the present financial situation at the Lodge.

During the public comment period, Lisa Trevethan, a former employee at the Lodge, asked several questions, addressing them particularly to County Commissioner Joe Langdon. She wanted to know how and when the borrowed money would be paid back.

Langdon said the Parks and Recreation Commission had borrowed $60,000 last year and paid it back this year and would pay back the $90,000 from the EDC as well.

Answering Trevethan's question on the government bond issue, Keith said it was for a period of 27 years.

"If we're successful, the final payment will be made in the year 2036," Keith said. "I personally have to accept responsibility for the fiscal integrity of this County, and part of my decision (the Resolution on the Lodge) was based on that."

Trevethan, who said she had 25 years of hospitality experience, nine of them running a restaurant, said she believed there were some real issues behind the Board's decision.

"I just think it needs to be brought out to the public that there are other issues besides what's being brought up, and the decision you gentlemen made was not all just arbitrarily out of the air," Trevethan said.

She said directly to Langdon that she realized he had reported at County Board meetings that the Lodge was not making money but she didn't see any program implementing any change in that situation.

"Your Board (the Parks and Recreation Commission) was put in place to manage the oversight of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. It's not being managed," Trevethan noted.

Doug Shubert, former chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said the Lodge isn't ready for a management company, because it needs to be complete as a "plant" to produce a product before a management company would want to invest in it. He also asked the Board to rescind the Resolution.

Mac Marzke, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said he didn't believe the County Board runs the business of the Mountain Lodge like a business.

Jon Soper, chairman of the Keweenaw County Planning Commission, who is also a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said he was impressed by the quality of the people on that Commission.

Jon Soper, chairman of the Keweenaw County Planning Commission and member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, addresses the County Board on Nov. 21. (Photo © 2007 Michele Anderson)

"These people have a heart for the Keweenaw," Soper said. "They're interested in seeing that the whole tourism industry of the Keweenaw moves forward and that the Mountain Lodge moves forward and develops into more than what it is right now."

Marzke and Soper both asked the Board to rescind the Resolution, as did Parks and Recreation Commissioners Glen Patrick and Gregg Patrick.

Glen Patrick said he wished both Janet Shea and Frank Kastelic, both of whom resigned from the Parks and Recreation Commission, were still on it.

"I think they did a great job," he said.

Kastelic said he "had his reasons" for resigning but didn't say what they were.

"I saw no problem with the direction we were going in total," Kastelic said during the public comment period. "I don't think the Commission was given a long enough opportunity to prove out their plan when we had an interrupted year to start with."

Janet Shea, who resigned from the Parks and Recreation Commission in September, 2007, after serving as secretary, said she believed Keith and the other County Commissioners did the right thing.

"I think the Resolution is probably adequate in saying why these actions were taken," Shea said. "Hopefully these issues can be put behind us, and we can look forward and work to make this happen."

Shea said she believed everyone at the meeting, including members of both Commissions and residents of the County, realizes what a critical operation the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is going to be for the economic welfare of Keweenaw County.

"This (the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge) should be the priority of the County because our tourism industry depends on it," Shea noted.

Shea, who is a business owner in Copper Harbor, is a member of the Keweenaw County Planning Commission and the County Zoning Board of Appeals. She is chair of Keweenaw County's Economic Development Committee (EDC), and she has been very active in the land use planning efforts in Keweenaw County.

"I have a high respect for all of the members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, and I hope they will continue to serve," Shea said. "I was eager to be part of the Commission; but I felt ineffective in contributing much, other than taking minutes of the meetings, due to a lack of communication among parties I was tasked to work with, and among the Commission members in general. I'm just hopeful that everyone who is really interested in the success of the County and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge will get behind it, no matter what form the management takes."

Phil Musser of KEDA: Cooperation needed for Lodge success

On Nov. 28, Phil Musser, executive director of KEDA, spoke with Keweenaw Now concerning the advisory committee asked to search for independent professional management for the Mountain Lodge. Musser has agreed to serve on the committee along with Kim Stoker of WUPPDR and County Commissioner Frank Stubenrauch.

"It really is important that Keweenaw County and the Parks and Recreation Commission work together to make the Mountain Lodge a successful operation," Musser said. "These two groups and the Economic Development Committee (EDC) are really the leadership in terms of economic development in Keweenaw County and need to be working together."

Noting that he had not yet seen any strategic plan or financial report for the Lodge, Musser said he was only recently asked to provide advice.

"I'll certainly be willing to do that," he said.

Musser gave the Smart Zone as an example of a successful partnership.

"KEDA, Michigan Tech, Finlandia, Houghton and Hancock, the State of Michigan and many others have been working together to make that a success," Musser noted.

"The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is really an important economic asset for Keweenaw County. It needs to be successful in order not only to have cash flow but also to draw in customers for other businesses in the Keweenaw," Musser added. "One of the lessons we've learned over the years is the better the partnerships among those working toward economic development, the better the economic development results are going to be."

* Editor's Notes: The plans for winterizing the Mountain Lodge, according to Joel Tuoriniemi, originally included especially non-motorized trails for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and snowshoeing, since the idea was to appeal to tourists interested in silent sports. See the July 2007 article, "Keweenaw Mountain Lodge to celebrate Grand Opening of Community / Conference Center July 21" on Keweenaw Now.

** Keweenaw Now regrets the error in our original posting, which stated that the County Board voted against rescinding the Resolution on the Mountain Lodge management. There was no vote on this. As of the County Board meeting on Dec. 5, 2007, the Resolution stands as originally passed on Nov. 21, 2007.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Prehistoric logs found near Arnheim may pre-date Lake Superior

These logs, found below a pond near Arnheim, may possibly pre-date Lake Superior, according to Michigan Tech forestry researchers. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University)

HOUGHTON -- Asked to dredge a pond on Dennis Myllyla's farm near Arnheim, Mich., the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) found a prehistoric forest 15 feet down. Preserved in the soil, the trees may possibly pre-date Lake Superior. They could be more than 10,000 years old, according to researchers in Michigan Tech's forestry department.

Read Jennifer Donovan's story about the logs on the Michigan Tech web site.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poor Artists Sale to join downtown Calumet for festive shopping Dec. 1

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Council celebrates its 31st Poor Artists Sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the CLK Gymnasium in Calumet. This year’s sale offers the work of over 60 artists including 15 that are new to the event along with the return of many long-standing favorites.

Shoppers will find handmade jewelry, pottery, wreaths, ornaments, baskets, functional and decorative wood art, blown glass, stained glass, furniture, rugs, rustic garden décor, art clothing and accessories, books, dolls, fiber art, journals, candles, soaps, paintings, photography, gift baskets and much more.

Shop and visit with friends in a festive atmosphere and enjoy homemade baked goods at the hospitality table. Copper Country Suzuki students will perform at 1 p.m. Renew your Arts Council membership (or join for the first time) and take advantage of a preview shopping hour for members only from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Don’t miss the biggest holiday art shopping event in the U.P. as the Poor Artists Sale teams up with Calumet galleries, artist studios, restaurants and shops for “Calumet Celebrates the Arts”! Calumet shops will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. with refreshments, music and artist demonstrations. Horse-drawn wagon rides will shuttle people from the Poor Artists Sale to downtown Calumet.

The Poor Artists Sale is put on by the Copper Country Community Arts Council and is a benefit for the Community Arts Center in Hancock. For more information stop by the Community Arts Center at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock or call 482-2333.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Film series to show documentary on peak oil Dec. 4 at Daily Grind

HANCOCK -- The Norwegian documentary film, Peak Oil: Produced by Nature, will be shown at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Daily Grind Coffeehouse in Hancock. The film is free and open to the public.

The film describes the history of oil production and its consumption, the impending end of cheap petroleum energy and the projected massive impact on human civilization. A discussion will follow the film.

This film series is sponsored by the Copper Country Citizens for Progressive Change. For more information, call 482-3270.

Keweenaw Co-op to hold Party, Open House, with music, dancing Dec. 9


HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Co-op invites all its members and customers to their Annual Party and Open House from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) in downtown Houghton. If you wish to attend either the Brunch Potluck or the Dinner Potluck, please bring a dish to pass.

Family time (alcohol- and smoke-free) will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include the Brunch Potluck with music by Melissa Davis and Tom Katalin. The Dinner Potluck will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. with music by the Keweenaw Brewgrass Band.

The party will also include door prizes, mortgage burning and dancing. Come and celebrate Community!

For more information about the Co-op, visit their Web site. You can also read the Co-op's Fall 2007 Newsletter, Circumspice, on the site.

Keweenaw Co-op logo reprinted with permission.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Updated: Popcorn and Policy: Forum on local Climate Change Nov. 29


By Heather Wright

HOUGHTON -- In the past century, as a result of human activities, greenhouse gases have increased to levels that scientists have concluded are changing our climate. Although these changes are global in scale, the impacts can be seen at the local level. Some of the climate changes that can be expected in the Great Lakes Region include warmer temperatures and increased precipitation -- with more falling as rain.

It is expected that winters will get shorter due to increases in temperatures, and increased evaporation will impact water levels. In fact, the most significant impact of climate change in the Great Lakes Region is likely to be on water levels. These will continue to fluctuate seasonally, and at times they may drop below historic lows.

The adaptation options available to coastal communities depend on their vulnerability. For instance, the Keweenaw Peninsula is vulnerable to changes in rain/ice/snow regimes, increases in extreme weather and shorter winters that will negatively impact winter sports and tourism.

Fortunately, some positive adaptation opportunities also exist for coastal communities. Here in the Keweenaw, these opportunities include reduced heating costs and energy use with warmer winters, reduction in salt use on roads with improvements to water quality and longer summers that may increase tourism.

Join the Michigan Tech Students for Environmental Sustainability and Engineers Without Borders from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, for a discussion on Climate Change in the Keweenaw. At this Popcorn and Policy event, panelists from academia, industry and the community will talk about causes, changes and what you can do!

This event will take place on Michigan Tech’s campus in the ME-EM (Mechanical Engineering Building) Room 112. Attendants are encouraged to bring their questions and comments!*

The panelists include Kristine Bradof (Environmental Sustainability Committee), Dr. Kathy Halvorsen (Michigan Tech faculty), Dr. David Shonnard (Sustainable Futures Institute), Kateryna Lapina (Michigan Tech graduate student), Michael Moore (Keweenaw Sustainability Project), and Jane DeMartini (Keweenaw Biodiesel).

This Popcorn and Policy event is free and open to the public. Come for the popcorn… stay for the policy!

Editor's Notes: Guest author Heather Wright is a doctoral candidate in Michigan Tech University's Environmental Engineering program. At MTU she is also the president of the Students for Environmental Sustainability, a member of the Environmental Sustainability Committee and an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Trainee (IGERT).

For background on climate change in the Keweenaw Peninsula, see Keweenaw Now contributor Katie Alvord's prize-winning articles. Go to "Local writer wins journalism award" and follow the links to read her articles on keweenawnow.com.

*Editor's Note: We regret the incorrect name of the building posted previously. This event is in the R. L. Smith Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Building (ME-EM), which is number 20 on the campus map.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Bimaaji Nibi: Save the Life of the Water"; sulfide mine updates


From SaveTheWildUP.org

MARQUETTE -- Save The Wild UP has posted a selection from the video "Bimaaji Nibi: Save the Life of the Water," which contains footage of three waterfalls in the Yellow Dog Watershed, highlighting the need to protect our freshwater resources from sulfide mining. The video, produced by Keepers of the Water, a coalition partner, was directed by Barb Bradley and filmed and edited by Amy Parlette with assistance from waterfall guide Kora Mills. In the Ojibwe culture (the first people of the Great Lakes Region) the men are the keepers of the fire and the women are the keepers of the water, "nibi." The project was funded through a grant from the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and the Western Mining Action Network (WMAN). The video recently aired on WLUC TV6. Visit Save the Wild UP to view a scene from the video and several other video clips on the sulfide mining issue.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently asked the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company for a 30-day extension before making a decision on whether to grant the permits for the proposed nickel and copper mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. DEQ Director Steven Chester said since the Department of Natural Resources recently received new information on the mining reclamation plan, the two state agencies will be taking more time for their decision --
until Dec. 14. Read the Nov. 13 article in the Mining Journal.

Comments to the DEQ in opposition to the mining, air use and groundwater discharge permits -- made by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the Huron Mountain Club (HMC) and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) respectively -- are now posted for public access with links from Save the Wild UP. You can also read NWF's "Comments Opposing the Leasing of State Lands to Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company" submitted to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Click here to read the article and to access the links to these documents.

Singer-songwriter Daisy May has made a CD with her new song, "A Letter from Downstream," which she has donated to Save the Wild UP for the cause of stopping the sulfide mine. You can listen to the song or give a donation to download it at Save the Wild UP.

Students Against Sulfide Mining (SASM) will hold a concert from 7 p.m. until midnight on Friday, Nov. 30, at the Ramada Inn of Marquette. Entertainment will include a raffle ( a canoe that retails at $1200, Crescent Moon snowshoes, and an Eagle Nest lounge chair), a presentation by Cynthia Pryor and music by the following bands: Blue Superiors, GrassMonkey, Superior Beats, and Lost Creek. For more information contact SASM at sasm@nmu.edu.

Save The Wild UP will hold a fundraiser at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2007, at the UpFront and Co. banquet room. This event will feature an auction of both items and adventures that showcase life in the UP, for example, guided cross country skiing on North Country Trails with lunch, a pick-up truck load of birch firewood, a massage and an ice-climbing lesson, among others. There will also be a presentation by local historian Fred Rydholm and a slide show of historical photographs of the way of life in the wild UP by Jack Deo of Superior View. Tickets are $20 per person.

This includes a free drink, hors d’œuvres and admission to the presentation and the auction. Read more on Save the Wild UP.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Center of Michigan holds "Envision Michigan Story Competition"

The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to vitalizing the state during its current economic condition, is currently running a contest called the "Envision Michigan Story Competition," which offers more than $30,000 in prizes, $25,000 of it earmarked for scholarships.

Entrants can win college scholarships, vacations to top Michigan resorts and weekly shopping money at area stores. All they need to do is submit something in the categories of traditional essays, photo essays and online videos describing what they love about Michigan, what they want to change and their best vision for Michigan’s future. Finally, they should outline how the state should go about making that vision a reality.

For details visit the Center's Website.

The Envision Michigan Story Competition (the "Contest") is open only to legal residents of Michigan who are at least 14 years old at the time of entry and who did not purchase any equipment for purposes of entering the Contest. Submissions cannot have been submitted previously in a promotion of any kind or exhibited or displayed publicly through any means previously. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Read the Official Rules.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Local writer wins journalism award

HOUGHTON -- Katie Alvord, freelance reporter and Keweenaw Now contributor, has received recognition for her series of three articles on climate change in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, published in May and June 2007 on Keweenaw Now.* Alvord is among the winners of the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Journalism Awards, which were officially announced on Nov. 15. She won an award in the online category.

Katie Alvord

Alvord said the award "makes the intense work I did to write this online article series even more worthwhile." She added, "Especially for a small-town freelancer like me, it's a real boost to get this kind of recognition."

Independent panels of science journalists chose the winners of the awards, which honor excellence in science reporting for print, radio, television and online categories. The awards, established in 1945, also include a prize for coverage of science news for children that is open to journalists worldwide. The judges awarded a special Certificate of Merit in the children's category this year as well.

The Press Release for the awards mentioned Keweenaw Now as the publisher of Alvord's three articles, stating, "In a solid example of localized science reporting for a community-based Web site, freelance writer Alvord described the potential local impacts of global warming on a local Michigan community."

Kathy Sawyer, a freelance science writer formerly with The Washington Post, said Alvord's "well-crafted and enterprising online package 'zooms in' to capture the effects of global climate change" on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

"The writing, supplemented by telling photos, provides specific, graphic detail for an audience that might not get from any other medium such extensive information about what's happening in their environs," Sawyer said.

Bryn Nelson, a freelance science writer, said Alvord delivered a "compelling, accessible and well-reported analysis of how a global phenomenon could be intensely local for a community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, including its possible impacts on winter recreation, tourism, Lake Superior's water levels and even the moose population on Isle Royale National Park. Alvord also included the necessary nuances to balance the potential dangers against the remaining uncertainties."

The winners of the AAAS Journalism awards also included Kenneth Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times for an ambitious series that examined the profound disturbances that have been occurring in the ecology of the world's oceans.

Other winning articles included an inquiry into mysterious elk deaths in Wyoming, a profile of a largely unknown Black chemist who was a pioneer in the synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants and a look at the merits of telling children they are smart.

The AAAS Science Journalism Awards are sponsored by Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, L.L.C. The winners will receive $3,000 and a plaque at the 2008 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February.

"Informed reporting is essential if the public is to remain engaged with the crucial science issues of the day," said Alan I. Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer and Executive Publisher of the journal Science. "The awards this year honor truly excellent work, both in national media and in some enterprising local outlets."**

* Editor's Notes: Katie Alvord's articles, still available on Keweenaw Now's archived site, www.keweenawnow.com, are titled as follows (click on link to go directly to the article):
"Lake Superior warming fast: Researchers surprised by strong trends," May 3, 2007; "Lake Superior Basin feeling heat: Part 2," June 3, 2007; and "Businesses feel the heat: Lake Superior warms up, part 3," June 30, 2007.

** To read the complete press release on the awards, visit the AAAS Web site.

Katie Alvord is the author of a book about transportation reform, Divorce Your Car! Ending the Love Affair with the Automobile. Over the last 20 years her articles and essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Boston Globe, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sonoma Index-Tribune, Upper Peninsula Post, E Magazine, Northern Lights, Orion Afield, Silent Sports, Sonoma Business, The Urban Ecologist, Utne Reader, Wild Earth and Wine Country Magazine. Read her contributor profile on Keweenaw Now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Finlandia Gallery to feature art of John Lundeen Nov. 15 - Dec. 13

HANCOCK -– Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center will host the 17th Annual Contemporary Finnish-American Artist Series with John Lundeen: From the Ether of Superior from Nov. 15 through Dec. 13, 2007.

An opening reception for the artist will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Finlandia University Gallery. At the reception, the artist will give a brief gallery talk about his work. Refreshments will be served. The reception is free and open to the public.

Finnish-American artist John Lundeen works from his studio on the shores of Lake Superior. Images of the lake act as a base for Lundeen’s metaphorical paintings where boats, fruit and mathematical formulas all float above the surface of the water in a playful expression of the wonders of nature and the human mind.

John Lundeen's "L’Ark, 2005." Oil on Canvas, 22" x 32". Click on photo for larger image. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Lundeen explains, "My images reflect a fascination with the workings of nature and the human mind. Fruit trees package their seeds in beautiful wraps and send them off with nourishment to survive a journey beyond the influence of nature."

Lundeen draws parallels between these natural processes and parenting.

"In my work, fruit becomes a metaphor for human offspring," he notes. Lundeen’s metaphorical "parents" send their young into the world with high hopes, relying on knowledge as the nourishment to help them survive.

The ambiguity in meaning of Lundeen’s images is an inherent part of the artwork.

John Lundeen. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

"Fish out of water and boats in the sky and other incongruities in my work will have different meanings to different people. It is my hope that each viewer will construct their own vision and interpretation of my work rather than relying on my explanation," says Lundeen.

Lundeen graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a bachelor’s degree and continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, receiving a master’s degree in 1963. Lundeen managed an architectural design and construction company for 29 years before retiring to Au Train, Mich., in 1992. His artwork has been exhibited across the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. He is also a participating artist in the traveling exhibition "A Celebration of the Upper Peninsula as Home," organized and sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. This exhibit will tour five venues in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, including a stop at the Finlandia University Gallery from Dec 20, 2007 - Jan. 31, 2008.

John Lundeen: From the Ether of Superior will be on display through Dec 13. The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 487-7500 for more information.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MTU to celebrate International Week, Food Festival

By Shahryar Rizvi

HOUGHTON -- When defining the effect of food on overall social cohesion and well being, Anthropology scholar Penny Van Esterick coined the term "food praxis." The Thanksgiving holiday is a clear example of food's effect on social cohesion. As a part of International Week, Nov. 12-14, Michigan Tech's International Club aims to evoke food praxis with a banquet of foods from around the world.

The feast begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

"We want to express global diversity in terms of food, which we think is effective as indicated with traditional holiday feasts," commented International Club Vice President Donisha Das.

In assembling the menu, Food Committee Chair Aaron DeGabriele intends to represent all continents, including cuisines which are obscure to most Americans.

The International Food Festival will also feature a a lecture by Bucky Beach titled "Diversity in Global Cultures and Sustainability in Cultural Heritage" and a fashion show.

MTU's International Programs and Services offered students the opportunity to enter the International Education Week reflection-paper contest and the Study Abroad photo contest, and the winners will be awarded at the event.

Tickets are available for $8 and can be purchased in the Fisher Hall lobby, the Memorial Union Commons or by contacting Donisha Das at dadas@mtu.edu.

The food festival is one of several events being held as part of International Education Week, a national initiative launched by former President Bill Clinton. The 2007 theme is "Fostering Global Citizenship and Respect," announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

This initiative started in 2000 to recognize the significance of international students, curricula and programming in U.S. higher education. The Office of International Programs and Services (IPS), in partnership with the International Club, the Memorial Union and different units of the university, is offering a series of educational and cultural events during the week.

Also on Wednesday, Nov. 14, the World Forum will feature "Peace Corps and Service Learning: What is It and Why Should You do It?" -- a discussion led by Michigan Tech faculty and students who have participated in the Peace Corps program.* The World Forum will be held from 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. in the West Lounge of McNair Hall.

Throughout the week, a display of international flags in the Memorial Union and different international cuisines every day at lunch time will recognize the fact that Michigan Tech is emerging as a global university. This trend will also be demonstrated by international students wearing their cultural attire and Michigan Tech administration and staff wearing international ties and scarves to celebrate internationalization at Michigan Tech.

*MTU has several Peace Corps Master's International programs -- in Forestry, Environmental Engineering, Geology and Science Education. See links in the right column of this page.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Updated: Finlandia community play by Yeats to be Nov. 16, 17, 18

HANCOCK -- The fall Finlandia University community play, At the Hawk’s Well, will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, and Saturday, Nov. 17, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.

The play is directed by Melvin Kangas and features players, singers and musicians from Finlandia and the Copper Country community.

At the Hawk’s Well, by Irish poet W. B. Yeats, is an experimental play based on a fragment of ancient Irish mythology and patterned after Japanese "Noh" drama. The minimalist play features one main and one companion character, the use of masks and faces painted to resemble masks, chant-like singing and minimalist scenery.

Set during the early medieval period, the story concerns a young keeper (Randy Wakeham) and an old keeper (Oren Tikkanen) of a well from which springs the water of eternal life. The keepers are tricked by the Guardian of the Well (Paula Oye) into missing the water when it finally flows. Instead of continuing to wait, the young one goes to do battle, while the old one stays by the well.

"Finlandia University's Melvin Kangas not only directs the production, but has also composed wonderfully evocative music for it, drawing upon Japanese and Celtic musical sources," Tikkanen notes. "Kangas plays the score on kantele (Finnish table harp) and keyboard, with a very talented ensemble that includes Robin Oye on flute and vocalists Phyllis Fredendall and Megan Plis."

Other members of the cast include Rebecca Stadius, Maija Stadius, Ren Olson, Marie Kangas, Jessica Kilpela, Terry Sayatovich and Erica Hilts.

Here are some comments from viewers of the dress rehearsal:

"This is an effectively mysterious metaphor about the human condition."

"The slow pace draws one in as the dramatic tension gets higher -- and the music and singing are lovely."

Tickets are $5.00 per person and are available at the door. Finlandia students are free with university ID.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First Lady elected President of Argentina

By Evelyn Sigot Pavón

ENTRE RIOS PROVINCE, ARGENTINA -- Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, First Lady of Argentina, was elected president of the country on Sunday, Oct. 28, and will take office on Dec. 10, 2007. With more than 44 % of the vote, Fernandez de Kirchner is the first woman to be elected in the history of Argentine presidential elections.

It’s not a secret that Argentina suffered a very serious political and economic crisis in 2001. By December of that year, the effect of neo-liberalism on Argentine politics involved a financial crisis.

Unemployment and poverty were rising. The country had to face up to an increasing devaluation of money caused by inflation. Public sector salaries were not paid; the country's foreign debt was growing while payments were suspended. According to INDEC (National Institute of Statistics and Census), as of October 2001, more than 35 % of the population of Buenos Aires was below the poverty line.* In 2002 that number increased to 50 %, and the rate of unemployment was about 22%.

Nestor Kirchner, now president of Argentina, took office in May 2003. In that year, the country showed a reduced unemployment rate; and the poverty line decreased from 54.3% (Oct. 2002) to 51.7% (May 2003).

Four years passed. In July 2007 Kirchner decided not to run for the presidency again: His wife announced her candidacy. Many people thought that it was a strategy.

Another election took place on Oct. 28, 2007. That event had been a hot topic of conversation for months. The atmosphere was tense, and the opposition leaders have questioned the validity of the elections. They accused Nestor Kirchner’s government of probable fraud to guarantee a victory in the first round for the official candidate, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Under Argentina's election law, a second round (ballotage) may be held between the two candidates who receive the highest percentage of votes in the first round. When a candidate obtains a majority of 45 % of the votes or 40% with a 10% lead over the closest rival, there is no ballotage. A 21 percent lead over her closest rival, Elisa Carrio, allowed Fernandez de Kirchner to win in the first round of voting.

More than 27 million Argentines voted on Oct. 28 and had to decide among 14 candidates for president.

Polls indicated three favorites among the candidates:

· Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Lawyer. 54 years old. Leader of the Front for Victory. She proposed, if elected, to go on with the economic model of industrialism, economic accumulation -- based on Argentina's internal market growth, exports and social inclusion. This accumulation must favor people and fight against poverty. She also proposed to continue with the State benefit policy. (The government subsidizes companies in order to benefit the consumers and control the cost of services.) The benefits are given to private- and state-owned companies to alleviate the electrical, agricultural and transport crisis and make it possible for companies to satisfy the increasing consumer demand for their services. She assured people that she will control prices in an attempt to slow down inflation.

Cristina has promised to fight against poverty and social injustice and to reinforce democratic institutions like the Congress and the Court System.

· Elisa Carrio (22.9% of votes). 50 years old. Lawyer. Leader of the Civic Coalition. She denounces corruption and looks for transparency. She proposed to restructure the INDEC (The present government was accused of manipulating statistics). She wanted to change the State benefits system so that every mother would receive money according to the number of children. Her aim was to fight against drug consumption. She promised to guarantee the independence of judges.

· Roberto Lavagna (16.8% of votes). 65 years old. Ex-Minister of Economy under the Kirchner government between 2003 and 2005. He said he planned to fight against crime, poverty and unemployment. He promised to dismantle the Kirchner government's price controls that aggravate inflation instead of solving the problem.**

It is perfectly understandable that people chose the First Lady as President of the Republic. People expect her to go on with the policies of Nestor Kirchner, improving the country's productivity and economic growth as her husband did when Argentina went into the worst recession and economic crisis of its history in 2001.

In fact, in the last few years, Argentina's economy has improved, but not for all social sectors. In September 2007, Argentina's economy expanded 9.2% compared to the same period last year.*** However, basic consumer goods registered an increase of prices. People all over the country accuse INDEC of being manipulated by pro-government forces trying not to blemish the First Lady's presidential campaign.

Employees that resigned from INDEC have confirmed actual inflation that is not being shown by the Institute of Statistics.

Under President Nestor Kirchner, Argentina has undergone development but has not overcome poverty, public crimes and violence. Citizens are worried about insecurity. They filled the streets of many cities in the country, demanding more effective governmental action to stop government corruption, inequality, violence and crimes.

More than 40% of Argentines have chosen the same kind of government to handle the destiny of our country for the next four years. The people will have to face increasing inflation and insecurity.

Recently I watched our new president, Cristina, on a TV program on Argentina's Channel 7. Convinced of what she was saying, she argued that there was an increase in consumption and a decrease in the poverty index.

I do agree about the development of Argentina in comparison with a few years ago, but I think that when Mrs. Kirchner talked about consumption she was referring to consumers spending hours shopping in commercial centers in middle- or upper-class neighborhoods.

You only have to travel across the country to see misery -- millions of families under the poverty line, with no guarantee of health or education benefits. It seems to be a country of privileges and inclusion for some and exclusion for others. While poor people don’t have insurance, food or a safe place to go, upper-class Argentines build their ostentatious castles in private neighborhoods.

Goods consumption has increased but is paid in monthly installments. Salaries have increased, but inflation is reflected in salary adjustments.

It’s time to learn more about ourselves before we vote again. Certainly, there is something to do in all this. Make efforts and do not be afraid of changes. Think rationally and realize that voting is a way to exercise politics, but not the only one. Demand, participate in public issues, discuss. Democracy is a political and social construction, and we are the essential part of it.

* Click here for source of these statistics.

** Information taken from Reuters.com (Argentina)

*** Click here for these statistics.

Editor's note: Keweenaw Now guest author Evelyn Sigot Pavón is a student at the National University of Entre Ríos (Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos) in Argentina. She is completing a degree in Social Communications with a specialization in Cultural Process. Evelyn is also working on ecology issues with M'Biguá, a non-governmental organization in Paraná, in Entre Ríos Province, Argentina. See her previous article for Keweenaw Now, "Pulp mill built by Finnish company stirs controversy on Uruguay-Argentina border," posted on this blog Oct. 8, 2007.