Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tech Theatre to hold auditions for Feb. play Nov. 15, 16

HOUGHTON -- Tech Theatre will hold auditions for its upcoming production of Proof at 7 p.m., Sunday and Monday, Nov. 15 and 16, in McArdle Theatre.

The roles for the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Auburn include two women and one man in their twenties. As preparation for the auditions, scripts can be checked out overnight from the Visual and Performing Arts office at 209 Walker.

The performance dates for Proof are Feb. 11-13 and 18-19 in McArdle Theatre, plus Feb. 25 at the Ironwood Theatre and Feb. 27 at the Calumet Theatre.

For more information, contact Roger Held at 487-1080 or at rheld@mtu.edu.

Finlandia Young Women's Caucus to host 1950s dinner Nov. 14

HANCOCK -- The Young Women’s Caucus, a recently-formed Finlandia University student club, will host a 1950s theme dinner at 6 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Finlandia Hall Café, in the university’s residence hall, Hancock.

The menu for the buffet-style 1950s housewife-themed dinner is inspired by food from that era. The community is encouraged to participate by baking a pie for a pie contest that evening, or by sporting 1950s attire.

The Young Women’s Caucus is dedicated to providing opportunities for emerging artists and designers. The theme dinner will help support membership fees in the national Women’s Caucus for Art and help the young women organize a traveling art exhibit.

Tickets are $15 at the door and $10 for students and those who contribute a homemade pie.

For information, call 487-7375.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marquette Monthly article: "No Pure Michigan without pure water"

MARQUETTE -- The November 2009 Marquette Monthly's feature article, titled "There can be no Pure Michigan without pure water," discusses the present potential threat to the Great Lakes watershed by proposed sulfide and uranium mining.

The article, written by Babette Welch, co-founder of Save the Wild U.P., explains how Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) contaminates water irreversibly and also how uranium mining can contaminate drinking water.

"Once AMD begins, virtually nothing can stop it," Welch writes, citing statistics from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating the role of AMD in contaminating the headwaters of more than forty percent of western watersheds.

Welch also points out that the Jacobsville sandstone formation at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula is now being explored for uranium, which has been found in private wells in the Keweenaw at a level that is already the EPA maximum allowable concentration for drinking water.

The article notes a statewide ballot initiative led by MIWater.org is now attempting to obtain 450,000 signatures to allow Michigan voters to strengthen Michigan's law governing uranium and sulfide mining in order to protect Michigan's water and the Great Lakes basin.

Welch says, contrary to rumors or fears, the ballot proposal aims to protect water from sulfide and uranium mining by prohibiting this type of mining activity within 2,000 feet of surface water in Michigan.

"This is a common sense law to protect the water of the Great Lakes and make the mining industry responsible for respecting water. It has been written explicitly to ensure existing and future oxide-based iron ore mining -- our true heritage -- is not impacted. Thus, the long-term iron mining jobs stay right here in Michigan," she writes.

Welch also notes the proposed sulfide mines, such as Rio Tinto / Kennecott's Eagle Project, emphasize jobs, much needed by Michiganders, but do not talk about the important role of robots in modern mining.

"There will be some jobs if the proposed mines go through, but modern mining, like many industrial processes, employs far fewer people than last century. The few jobs primarily go to technical experts or robots," Welch says.

The entire article, along with testimonies from knowledgeable sources on the importance Great Lakes water -- "Voices Around the Great Lakes Basin" -- is available in the printed version of the November Marquette Monthly -- a free publication available in local restaurants, cafés, art galleries, grocery stores, etc. An abbreviated version of the article is available on line.

Click here to read the shortened online version of the article.

Editor's Notes:
See also the Nov. 12, 2009, article, "Legislators Become The Mouthpiece For Pro-Mine Propaganda," on Save the Wild UP. The article refers to Michigan legislators' endorsement of a recent press release that makes erroneous statements about the proposed ballot initiative to protect Michigan water.

Visit savethewildup.org for more information on sulfide mining and AMD.

Club Indigo to feature award-winning Czech film Nov. 13

CALUMET -- Club Indigo, to be held Friday, Nov. 13, at the Calumet Theatre, will feature the film Closely Watched Trains, a movie from Czechoslovakia that combines comedy with serious drama. It won an Oscar for best foreign film in 1966.

The movie has been called, "an enjoyable tragicomedy about a young, naive apprentice train dispatcher and his attempts at sexual initiation during German occupation." It is rated PG-13 for sexual content and is not advised for children.

The movie will begin at 7:15 p.m, preceded by a buffet from French chef Malcolm Hudson at 6 p.m. Cost is $18 for dinner and the movie or $5 for the movie alone. To assure seating at the buffet, call the Calumet Theatre at 337-2617.

Club Indigo is a food and film event sponsored by Mu Beta Psi music fraternity.

Hot Peas 'N Butter to perform Nov. 12 at Rozsa

HOUGHTON -- Hot Peas ‘N Butter, the Nickelodeon/Noggin TV favorites, play music that excites kids and entertains adults! At 7:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Nov. 12, they bring their hot and mellow multicultural groove to the Rozsa Center.

Winners of the 2006 and 2008 "Parent’s Choice Award," Hot Peas ‘N Butter incorporates elements of traditional Latin music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazz, folk, and rock. Combining an interactive, invigorating approach to performance with mature, multicultural music, Hot Peas ‘N Butter has developed a distinct way of inspiring care and creativity in kids and adults alike. With the appearance of their hit videos, Number 1 and Deep Down, on Nickelodeon and Noggin, Hot Peas 'N Butter is quickly becoming a household name. In fact, they have recently been added as Noggin's Videos On Demand!

As a featured artist on XM Kids and Sirius Satellite Radio, Hot Peas 'N Butter has been climbing the radio charts. Their single, "Different Spokes for Different Folks" held the number 1 spot for several weeks on Sirius Kids, and continues to reside in the top 100 songs overall on Sirius. Their newest release, Best of the Bowl, Inglés y Español, features a range of musical styles, from merengue to Puerto Rican bomba, intriguing sounds of the Cuban guaguancó blend with salsa and mambo rhythms. Some songs are in English, some in Spanish, and some blend the two languages for a tasty mix of sounds and themes.

Ticket prices for the general public are $12 and $8; MTU student/Under 18 prices are $10 and $6 (MTU student ID required). To purchase tickets contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487.3200, The Central Ticket Office (SDC) at 487.2073, Tech Express (MUB) at 487.3308 or go online at tickets.mtu.edu. No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.

Reception for The Shaft exhibit to be Nov. 12 at Community Arts Center

HANCOCK -- A reception for the 16th annual Shaft exhibit on mining in the Copper Country will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock.

The Shaft 2008 by Fredi Taddeucci. Watermedia. Copper Country Community Arts Center permanent collection. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

Art works for The Shaft are on display in the Kerredge Gallery and those for the Junior Shaft are in the Youth Art Gallery through Nov. 28.

New to the exhibit this year is a collaboration with the Quincy Smelter Association (QSA). Sean Gohman, graduate student in the Industrial Archeology program at Michigan Tech University and QSA member, coordinated two opportunities for artists to sketch or photograph the Smelter site. During the reception, there will be a slide presentation of the Historic American Engineering Record photographs taken by Gianfranco Archimede in 2001. The documentation of the site was commissioned by the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

For more information call the Community Arts Center at 482-2333 or visit their Web site.

FiberRama presentation, sale Nov. 12, 14 to benefit Community Arts Center

Fiber exhibit at a Marimekko factory tour in Finland, August 2009. (Photo courtesy Phyllis Fredendall)

HANCOCK -- Phyllis Fredendall, associate professor of fiber and fashion design at Finlandia University, will give a presentation on textiles in Finland at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in the Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC) ballroom.

The $5 fee for this presentation will benefit the Community Arts Center. Also, all those who attend will get first choice of FiberRama items for sale after the presentation.

The third annual FiberRama sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center. The sale of fabric, fiber items, notions and yarn will also feature free demonstrations in weaving, coiling, twining and more.

Call 482-2333 for more information. The CCCAC is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finnish American Heritage Center to show Finnish film Nov. 12

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center will show the Finnish film Käsky at 2 p.m. and at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.

Käsky, with the English-language title Tears of April, is set in 1918 at the end of Finland’s civil war.

After Private Aaro Harjula witnesses many brutal executions, he finds a survivor, a young Red platoon leader named Miina, and decides to personally escort her to a nearby military tribunal where he believes she will receive a fair trial.

As Aaro and Miina journey together, feelings develop between the two that will cause Aaro to question his loyalty, especially when the tribunal’s judge turns out to be corrupt.

There is no charge to attend the film, but donations are accepted. The Finnish American Heritage Center is at 435 Quincy St., Hancock. For information, call 906-487-7549.

Filmmaker George Desort to speak at FOLK Annual Meeting Nov. 12

HOUGHTON -- FOLK, Friends of the Land of Keweenaw, will host a short film and presentation, "Expectations of Thresholds," by filmmaker George Desort, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, in the community room of Portage Lake District Library, 58 Huron St. on the Houghton waterfront. A question-answer period will follow.

Desort is an independent filmmaker who recently released his film Fortunate Wilderness about the wolf-moose study of Isle Royale.*

From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. FOLK will hold its Annual General Membership Meeting. Board members will present annual reports and the year in review. The meeting will also include a discussion of the MiWater Ballot Initiative and what Michigan residents can do to help get it on the November 2010 ballot.**

All are welcome to attend, and refreshments will be served.

Editor's Notes:
* For information about the film Fortunate Wilderness, click here.
** To learn about the MiWater Ballot Initiative, visit the MiWater Web site.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Silent auction to benefit Tree House Indoor Playground begins Nov. 12

HOUGHTON -- The Keweenaw Family Resource Center (KFRC) will hold a silent auction to support the Center's Tree House Indoor Playground beginning at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, during the Hot Peas N' Butter performance at the Rozsa. The auction ends between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, at the Portage Lake District Library.

Over 75 baskets will be auctioned off. Items include restaurant gift certificates, jewelry, toys and books.

Contact Cathy Benda at 482-9363 if you would like more information or if you would like to view or bid on items by appointment.

KFRC’s winter park concept, "The Tree House," will offer indoor exercise opportunities for area children ages infant to 5 years old. Finlandia design students are designing some of the toys, displays, accessories and playground equipment. The Tree House is hoping to open its doors for play this winter in the Razorback Center in Houghton.

Christine Westrich, a third-year Interdisciplinary Design student at Finlandia University's International School of Art and Design (ISAD), with her eye on a career in toy design, is developing a four-seat bicycle carousel. Using 95 percent reusable resources, Christine is also fabricating the unit in the ISAD model shop.

Christine Westrich, Finlandia design student, is pictured here with the four-seat bicycle carousel she is developing for the Keweenaw Family Resource Center's Indoor Playground. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Combining old tricycle parts donated by BHK, the wheel bearing from a Ford Taurus and part of a truck tire rim from Julio’s Salvage yard, the designer has managed to get all the mechanical elements complete and operational and is doing conceptual studies for the visual effects, which are an important part of this piece of Tree House playground equipment.

"I want to make this unit more fun than just riding it," Christine says. "Maybe with parts that move or animate or even light-up when the kids are pedaling."

Other Finlandia design students working on projects for the Tree House include Vanessa Lipson, who is working on Infant Corral/Seating modules; Abbi Zablocki, who is exploring fabric Cloud concepts; and David Goodman, who is making Big Lincoln Logs from cardboard carpet tubes.

To learn more about the KFRC Tree House winter park community project or to view a list of the items to be auctioned, visit Monica Aho's blog: http://houghtonwinterpark.blogspot.com.

See new slide show of KLT Fire Building outing

HANCOCK -- Keweenaw Now photographer Gustavo Bourdieu offers a new slide show with his photos of outdoor educator John Hribljan's step-by-step technique for starting a fire without matches, demonstrated at the Keweenaw Land Trust's Nov. 7 outing at Boston Pond.

Click on any photo in the slide show titled "To Build a Fire" (apologies to Jack London), upper right column on this page, to go to the full-size slide show with captions.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Glass Center visitors inspire Community Arts Center green building supporters

By Michele Bourdieu

The Pittsburgh Glass Center, an energy-efficient, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified green building, was the subject of a presentation hosted by the Copper Country Community Arts Center Oct. 28 at the Jutila Center in Hancock. Click on photos for larger versions. (Glass Center photos courtesy Pittsburgh Glass Center. Reprinted with permission.)

HANCOCK -- Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC) members and other local residents interested in the Center's plans for green building renovation recently learned about the green renovation and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification of the Pittsburgh Glass Center, which could serve as a model and inspiration for the Hancock project.

Heather McElwee, assistant director, and Chris Clarke, facilities director for the Pittsburgh Glass Center, gave a presentation that included a video of their Center's facility and activities as well as a slide presentation of the step-by-step challenge of transforming an existing building in an inner-city neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA., into an energy-efficient facility prioritizing natural light and ventilation. The Pittsburgh Glass Center is a place where glass artists from all over the world can work, teach and exhibit their art. The two presenters, who spoke on Oct. 28 at the Jutila Center in Hancock, were both involved in the planning and construction of the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

A glass artist at work in one of the studios of the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

After showing the video -- which gave an overview of the Pittsburgh Glass Center's work of creating, teaching and promoting glass art -- McElwee spoke about the history of the building and the community it now serves. Originally a car dealership in the 1940s and later a home for troubled children, the renovated building opened in 2001 after about 18 months of construction, she noted.

"It's a 16-17,000-square-foot facility, and it has programming for everyone from the beginner who's never touched glass before and walks in off the street in Pittsburgh to the internationally renowned artist who comes in and teaches classes," McElwee said.

Addressing supporters of the Copper Country Community Arts Center's green building renovation project at the Jutila Center in Hancock, Heather McElwee, Pittsburgh Glass Center assistant director, gives a Power Point slide presentation on the history of the Center and the community programs it offers. (Photos of presentation by Keweenaw Now)

A few of the features that helped the Glass Center receive LEED certification included a heat recovery system that takes waste heat from a glass-blowing furnace to heat water in the building, recycled windows and other materials -- both from the original building and from industrial or construction sites where the materials otherwise would have been thrown away -- and extensive use of natural light and ventilation.

People walking by the front of the building actually see artists at work in one of the building's four studios. McElwee said having a studio rather than a gallery or retail space in the front of the building was important for what the planners wanted the public to see when they walked by.

"For us the core of the Glass Center's mission is about teaching classes. We're about being a studio," McElwee explained.

That educational aspect of the Glass Center caught the attention of Cynthia Coté, executive director of the Community Arts Center in Hancock.

"One thing that stands out in my mind is that they have their working studio in front of windows and people can view the artists at work -- from the sidewalk. That inspired us," Coté said. "What people see from our sidewalk is the great art (in the galleries), which makes them think that we're a shop rather than an active arts center."

Coté added she can see the CCCAC reorienting the entrance to the present building, but that is just one idea that will be considered by the design team for the Arts Center's green building project during the charrette, a series of planning meetings beginning Nov. 18.*

"It's hard to know just how it'll take shape," she said. "When we meet for the charrette, all those ideas will come together."

The Pittsburgh Glass Center offers intensive one-week classes in the summer -- 14 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Each summer about 200 students come to learn from artists who come from all over the world. During the school year classes are once a week for eight weeks. College students can take classes for college credit. The Glass Center also offers an activity called "Make it now," where anyone can walk in off the street and, for $25, can work with an artist and in 20 minutes make something out of glass.

Chris Clarke gave a detailed explanation of how the building was transformed from a "rough, raw space" to the present Center in order to meet the needs of glass art. Since glass making is an activity that eats up space, the designers decided right away to add an addition to the existing building, while trying to retain some of its historic features.

The original building in Pittsburgh, PA, before it was remodeled as the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

McElvee noted they wanted to maintain the "soul" of the building by preserving some of its history even while changing it. An example of this was keeping the front of the building as it was.

Recycling materials meant very few items had to be bought brand new, saving money in construction.

"All the windows that were taken out were stored and then re-used in the studio spaces later on," Clarke noted. "With the tours, with school kids coming in, with events going on, we want people to see into the studio spaces so we try to keep them as open as possible."

The window spaces were made larger and openings were made in the roof to allow more natural light into the building. The windows in the studio spaces open and contribute to ventilation in the summer.

Chris Clarke, facilities director for the Pittsburgh Glass Center, shows slides of the step-by-step green building renovation of the Center during a presentation hosted by the Copper Country Community Arts Center Oct. 28 at the Jutila Center in Hancock.

Two 2400-degree furnaces (that run 24-7), used for melting glass, heat up the space immensely, Clarke said. In addition, eight heating chambers of 2100 degrees each add to the heat in the building. A heat recovery system uses the waste heat to heat water that runs through the building and the floors.

Temperatures in the Glass Center's furnaces and heating chambers can reach 2100 to 2400 degrees.

"Glass can be dangerous to breathe," Clarke added. "Ventilation is crucial."

A ventilation system that keeps the air moving through the building regulates the temperature and maintains a healthy work environment.

Clarke noted the renovation also included putting a new tie to the sewer system and redundant trap systems in the glass factory so waste material could be filtered properly and not put directly into the sewer.

In the Pittsburgh Glass Center, large windows admit natural light for work spaces, while a redundant trap system filters waste material before it goes into the sewer.

Construction waste is also recycled. Used high school science tables are an example of the Center's use of recycled or donated items to avoid purchasing costly new equipment.

"We try to do everything we can to be as efficient as possible with our equipment," Clarke said.

Clarke noted the equipment in work spaces is built for adaptability. It can be changed in five minutes Everything is on wheels and on "quick connect," so the studio equipment can be moved around.

Equipment at work stations is open and adaptable. A lot of the mechanical space is exposed for easy access.

"We've made as many steps as we could to do the right thing from the start and not have to deal with fixing it later," he explained.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center at night: Recycled corrugated glass panels give the studio a special look: "Our studio glows a beautiful glow at night," Chris Clarke said.

McElvee said the Glass Center's operating budget is $1 million -- 50 % from classes and workshops, 25-30% from foundations and the rest from individuals, corporate sponsorships, etc.

"Our annual utility bill is the same as your (the CCCAC's) annual operating budget," she noted.

According to Clarke, fund raising for the Glass Center started in 1999. By 2000 they had raised $3.6 million for the Glass Center, which was the first LEED-certified building in Pittsburgh.

"Pittsburgh has more green buildings than any other city in the U.S. right now," Clarke noted. "Our biggest goal, now that we are what we are, is to be a role model for other studios."

Heather McElvee and Chris Clarke answer questions from the audience after their slide presentations on the Pittsburgh Glass Center.

Coté said she felt everyone in the audience was really excited by the presentation.

"They had a project that related to our own and it helped us envision some fresh ideas for the Arts Center," Coté noted.

Bonnie Loukus, CCCAC assistant director, echoed Coté's appreciation of the presentation.

"I enjoyed it, especially the visuals," Loukus said. "I think that really helps to inspire people so they can understand that a project like that is possible here, too, and we need everyone's support."

Both McElvee and Clarke said they thought the CCCAC had an advantage of a space that's already being used as an arts center and a core group of supporters.

Clarke noted that even after 10 years of the Pittsburgh Glass Center, they were just starting to build a community.

"The fact that you have this many people here in a room," Clarke said, "that's impressive."

The two presenters noted also the importance of designing the building for long-term efficiency, saving money and creating a practical, safe environment for future generations. Keeping this in mind in the planning process is more important than just getting wrapped up in earning a prescribed number of points for green building certification, they stressed.

"You really have to think out how it's going to impact the functionality in the long run (e.g., the maintenance factors)," Clarke explained.

To a question on how much the studios are used, McElvee said that was a struggle because many people who use them are doing it as a hobby after work hours. However, an affiliation with Carnegie Mellon University helps usage of the studio during daytime hours since they send 40 students a semester to earn college credit through classes in the Center. They are working to get more colleges involved, she added.

People in the audience were asked to fill out questionnaires with their suggestions, and some mentioned their ideas at the end of the presentation.

Nano Rose mentioned she liked the idea of classroom space being on the outer wall so people can see what's going on in classes, but also the idea of rolling components so things could be moved out of the way for gatherings (wine tastings,auctions, etc.) or performances on the first floor since the second floor space has poor acoustics.

"I think people really enjoy those," she said.

Bill Rose pointed out a need in the community for a suitable place where art is celebrated -- a place to entertain people in an arts atmosphere (he admitted Finlandia's Finnish American Heritage Center is somewhat like this).

"If you build it people will come," Bill Rose said.

Emily Newhouse, who participates in the international folk dancing held on the second floor of the CCCAC, said she hopes the new design will preserve the wood floor upstairs.

"We've been really appreciative that (the Arts Center) has given us a home with a good wood floor for dancing," Newhouse said. "There used to be many of these in the Copper Country, but fewer and fewer are available for dances. If the dance floor were more accessible and opened up with natural light and ventilation, I think it would be used more by the community."

Fred Knoch, corporate relations director for Finlandia University's Jutila Center for Global Design and Business and CCCAC Board member, said some Finlandia students do internships at the Community Arts Center now and Phyllis Fredendall, Finlandia International School of Art and Design (ISAD) fiber arts professor, takes her class to the Arts Center for exhibits as well.

Knoch, along with Coté and some Finlandia ISAD faculty members, also met with McElvee and Clarke to talk about sustainability design and gave them a tour of the Jutila Center, where ISAD classes are held.

Cynthia Coté, Community Arts Center executive director (right, foreground) met on Oct. 29 in the Jutila Center with Chris Clarke and Heather McElvee of the Pittsburgh Glass Center (seated on her right) and (continuing counter-clockwise) Barbara Hardy and Finlandia Professor Rick Loduha of the Sustainable Keweenaw Resource Center; Fred Knoch, corporate relations director for Finlandia University's Jutila Center for Global Design and Business; and Bonnie Holland, Jutila Center executive director, to discuss more options for the Community Arts Center's green building project.

"I would really like to make a connection with the letter press (owned by the Arts Center)," Knoch said.

Finlandia students could possibly use the press to learn how to publish a book, he explained.

CCCAC to seek input at Nov. 10 meeting

Knoch will facilitate a meeting titled "ONE HOUR! ONE BUILDING! NO LIMITS!" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Community Arts Center, 126 Quincy Street in Hancock.

Cynthia Coté says this will be a playful "no holds barred" environment so that people can offer input to help inform the design team which will convene at the first charrette on November 18.*

Anyone who wishes to attend should call the Community Arts Center at 482-2333 or send an email to ccarts@chartermi.net.

*Editor's Note: The "charrette" is a series of three meetings of the design team, Arts Center staff and Arts Center members. These meetings will be held Nov. 18 at the Arts Center in Hancock, Nov. 19 at the U.P. Engineers and Architects office in Houghton and Nov. 21 at the Marsin Center. Anyone interested in being on the design team needs to attend all three meetings and should contact Cynthia Coté (see above).

Stupak votes to pass health care reform bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) voted late Saturday, Nov. 7, to pass H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The bill, which marks the most significant reform to government and private health insurance programs since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 220 to 215.

"The vote in the U.S. House of Representatives tonight brought us one step closer to health care for all Americans, a goal that President Teddy Roosevelt first pushed for in 1912," Stupak said. "As health care costs financially drain families, businesses and government, the time to reform our health care system and ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care is now."

The legislation includes important reforms for all Americans, insured and uninsured, young and old. For seniors, key improvements to Medicare include additional prescription drug coverage beginning next year and eventually closing the "donut hole." Seniors on Medicare will also, for the first time ever, have preventative care such as checkups and routine exams covered at 100 percent cost.

H.R. 3962 also addresses critical reforms in the health care industry that Stupak has identified through his hearings as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, such as prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, eliminating life-time caps on benefits and eliminating the practice of rescission, or cancelling insurance coverage for any excuse when policyholders become seriously ill.

When the House health care reform draft was first released in June, Stupak identified four key concerns that had to be addressed to gain his support. The bill had to do more to inject real competition into the health care industry, which has been accomplished with a repeal of the anti-trust exemption for the health care insurance industry and the creation of public health insurance option.

Stupak’s concerns over the quality and cost of health care were addressed by eliminating geographic disparities in Medicare reimbursement rates to ensure that health care providers are paid based on quality of care rather than quantity of procedures. Medicare providers in Northern Michigan are currently reimbursed at between $6,000 and $8,000 per patient, compared to more than $16,000 in Miami and some other regions of the country.

"H.R. 3962 will put us closer to the day when the cost of medical care no longer results in bankruptcy," Stupak said. "Parents of children born with chronic illnesses will no longer live in fear of losing their employer-sponsored health insurance or running up against annual or life-time caps. Passing this bill is a monumental step toward providing all Americans peace of mind in knowing that health care will always be there for them."

Stupak’s final concern was that members of Congress must be afforded the opportunity to vote their conscience on the issue of public funding of abortion. After months of negotiations fell apart, Stupak was allowed a vote on an amendment to H.R. 3962 that would continue existing law of prohibiting the use of federal funds to pay for abortion and health insurance policies that cover abortion. The Stupak Amendment passed the House by a vote of 240 to 194, ensuring that more than 30 years of federal policy of not funding abortions is maintained.

The bill also specifically prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving public assistance to purchase health insurance; is completely paid for resulting in no increase in the federal deficit; and, forces no one into a government health care program.

"All Americans deserve the right to quality, affordable health care coverage," Stupak said. "The vote in the House is an important step forward but not the end of the road. The Senate must now consider a health care bill. It is my hope the Senate will still act this year so we can send a bill to President Obama’s desk and finally provide national health care that presidents have been advocating for nearly a century."

Editor's Note: This text was provided by Congressman Stupak's office. To read a detailed account of the Nov. 7, 2009, health care vote in the House of Representatives, including Video clips, see the Huffington Post Web site.