Friday, July 13, 2018

MDEQ to hold public meeting/hearing on proposed Copperwood mining permit amendment, water permit updates

By Michele Bourdieu

This photo shows a portion of Namebinag Creek, which could be impacted by wastewater discharges from the Copperwood mining project. See map below showing nearby streams. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy John Leddy)

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will hold a joint public meeting and hearing regarding Highland Copper subsidiary Copperwood Resources Inc.’s recent requests: 1) to amend Mining Permit MP 01 2012, issued under Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, and (2) renewal of Copperwood's permit application for Part 301, Inland Lakes Streams; Part 303, Wetland Protection; and Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994, PA 1994, as amended.

The meeting/hearing will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (CDT) on Tuesday, July 17, at Gogebic Community College, Lindquist Student and Conference Center, Upper Level Conference Room, E-4946 Jackson Road, Ironwood, MI 49938.

The meeting will allow questions and answers on both permits and provide information on the changes proposed in the amendment to the Part 632 Mining Permit, including (1) relocation of process plant; (2) additional of outdoor stockpile; and (3) modification of mine ventilation.*

According to Copperwood's Amendment proposal, "The defined Project mining area associated with this Amendment remains similar to the mining area presented in the original Mine Permit Application (MPA) (Orvana, 2011).  The only change to the mining area occurs along the western portion of the mining area, where its boundary extends further to the southwest to account for the modified layout of the processing and support facilities."

This map, a screenshot from figure 2-1 of Copperwood's proposed Amendment to their Part 632 Mining permit, shows the change in mining area. The yellow line in the southwest corner marks the original extent of mining in the permit, while the green line shows the new southwest boundary. Click on map for slightly larger version or click here for the proposed Amendment and go to p. 54, Figure 2-1, for the original size. (Image courtesy Copperwood Resources Inc.)

According to MDEQ officials, neither permit is directly related to recent mining exploration activity in and near the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, which is near the proposed Copperwood mine site.**

"None of it is (the proposed Part 632 amendment) is going to affect the Porkies," said Joe Maki, geology specialist for the MDEQ Oil, Gas and Minerals Division (Upper Peninsula office).

View of the Lake of the Clouds, one of the most scenic views in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Porkies). The view to the right of the photo (west and south) could be impeded by the proposed 14-storey-high tailings pile proposed in the original Copperwood Mining permit application submitted by Orvana in 2011 and issued in 2012. They claimed the Tailings Disposal Facility (TDF) and mill site would not be visible from this overlook but a small clearing and the tops of the TDF dikes might be visible above the trees. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

According to James Caron of MDEQ Water Resources, the renewal permit under Parts 301, 303 and 325 is nearly the same as the original, with the addition of a water intake pipe from Lake Superior (marked in upper left corner of above map). The new permit also includes a slight decrease in wetland impacts, Caron added.

This early map shows the approximate area of the projected Copperwood Project and its proximity to Lake Superior and streams. Click on map for larger version. (Keweenaw Now file map courtesy Jessica Koski)

A June 27, 2018, Public Notice from MDEQ's Water Resources Division states the following: "The applicant proposes to dredge and fill streams and wetlands and dredge and fill bottomlands of Lake Superior for the purpose of constructing a new copper mine including an access road, mine entrance, mill, tailings basin, water intake, and related structures."

The Public Notice summarizes the impacts to streams and wetlands, including impacts of the Tailings Disposal Facility (TDF) construction as follows:

"Stream Impacts: Eleven existing stream crossing culverts will be removed and replaced with new pipe arch culverts of various sizes and lengths to match stream bankfull widths. Three new stream crossing pipe arch culverts will also be installed. These upgraded or new crossings will allow access to the mine site, water intake, mill site, mitigation site and other related facilities. Approximately 16,557 lineal feet of stream channel, including sections of Lehigh Creek and the
West and East Branches of Gipsy Creek, will be abandoned during construction of the tailings disposal facility. Approximately 3,900 lineal feet of stream channel will be constructed to relocate a portion of the Middle Branch Gipsy Creek and approximately 8,560 lineal feet of stream channel
will be constructed to divert surface water around the south and west sides of the tailings disposal facility.

"Wetland Impacts: Approximately 7,295,157 cubic yards of fill will be placed in 43.48 acres of wetland and approximately 35,836 cubic yards of material will be excavated from 14.36 acres of wetlands to construct the main access road, the box cut, the mill site and processing plant, the mitigation access road and creation area, the ore stockpile area, the water intake road, the stream relocations and the tailings disposal facility."

The addition of a Water Intake pipeline is described thus:

"Lake Superior Water Intake: A 2,715 foot long by 18 inch diameter pipeline will be installed in Lake Superior to supply water to the mine. Approximately 7,710 cubic yards of material will be excavated below the ordinary high water mark of Lake Superior to construct the pipeline and infiltration gallery and approximately 2,610 cubic yards of coarse aggregate and 4,770 cubic yards of rip rap will be placed to backfill the pipeline after installation. Approximately 330 cubic yardsof sand and gravel and 40  cubic yards of gravel pack and 20 cubic yards of river rock will be placed around the infiltration gallery."***

Following the public meeting a formal public hearing on the permit application for Part 301, Inland Lakes Streams; Part 303, Wetland Protection; and Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, will be held. This is a renewal (after 5 years) of the original permit under MDEQ Water Resources.

The comment period on the Water Resources permit ends on July 17, and comments during the public hearing will be considered along with written comments, which should reference Submission Number: HND-EQMB-E27HX.

Documents on the Water Resources permit, including their public notice (PN Master) are available here. You may download a document and then click on Add Comment at the top of the page to comment by July 17, 2018. UPDATE: You may also email comments by July 17 to James Caron at

The DEQ shall accept written comment on the Part 632 amendment request until 5 p.m. (EDT), August 14, 2018. Comments may be mailed to MDEQ, Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855, or e-mail comments to the designated MDEQ mailbox at, including "Copperwood" as the subject.

The Copperwood Mine Permit Amendment Request documents are located on the following MDEQ web page:
NON-FERROUS METALLIC MINING, Recent Developments in Part 632 Projects, Copperwood Project Permit Amendment.

* Click here for the public notice on the July 17 meeting.

** See our April 7, 2017, article, "State, county officials address citizens' concerns about erosion from Highland Copper mining exploration along CR 519 in Porkies."
See also the Feb. 12, 2018, update from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, "Updated: Copperwood Resources to resume winter copper exploration at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park; settlement reached with DEQ on 2017 erosion damage." 

*** For background on the original Copperwood water and air quality permits see our coverage of the 2012 Public Hearing at Gogebic Community College: "MDEQ hearing on Orvana Copperwood air, water quality permits: Part 1, Questions" and "MDEQ public hearing on Orvana Copperwood mine: Part 2."

Monday, July 09, 2018

Guest article: Why We March

Participants in the June 30 "Families Belong Together" march display signs expressing their concerns about immigration policies as they cross the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock. Organized by Anna Ehl, the author of this article, the local march was one of more than 700 marches across the country by people concerned about family separations at the borders of the U.S. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

By Anna Ehl*

Like most decent Americans, I was horrified and heartbroken to learn about the family separations taking place at the border. As a mother, I found myself lying awake at night, listening to the monitor of my daughter sleeping in the next room and weeping for the parents who were lying awake terrified they would never see their children again, weeping for the babies whose cries for their mothers and fathers would go unanswered.

Anna Ehl, organizer of the June 30 "Families Belong Together" march on the Portage Lift Bridge, is pictured here with her husband, Josh Loar, and their daughter. His sign, in Spanish, means "We are One Family." (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

Seeing the damage done to our community by this storm only drives home how easily this could be any one of us. We are all just one disaster away from being refugees -- dependent upon the kindness of neighbors, strangers, fellow humans for our survival and safety. It doesn't matter who you are or who you voted for or what you think about immigration -- we all have to know in our hearts that stealing children from their parents is wrong. If we must turn people away, we should send them away together as a family. No one deserves to lose their children for the crime of trying to protect them or give them a better life.

A young marcher proudly displays his sign during the march. Young and old marched together across the Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock and back. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

I was also deeply disturbed to learn that the Administration's proposed alternative to family separations is indefinite family detention. Especially in light of the fact that this administration ended the Family Case Management Program that allowed low-risk families to be released and monitored by social workers. It cost the government $36/day per family as opposed to the $775 per child that is being reported for these camps. The Family Case Management program had a 99 percent success rate in getting immigrants to attend every ICE check-in appointment and 100 percent attendance for every hearing in their cases.

Anita and Miguel Levy (in hats) show their opposition to present immigration policies. "People who participated in the march were appalled by the separation of families who are coming from Central American nations trying to get asylum in the United States," Anita told Keweenaw Now. "Asylum seekers are treated as criminals, young children are being separated from their parents and placed in detention centers. Many of the marchers opposed the United States government policy toward immigrants and supported the movement to defend the immigrants and shut down ICE." (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

So for the administration to pretend that these detentions are anything other than punitive is provably false. 100 percent of the families showed up for their immigration hearings -- so we know imprisonment isn't more effective for getting them into court. It cost less than 5 percent of what these detention centers are charging, so it's not about fiscal responsibility. It is purely about funneling money from public coffers into the private prisons that run these centers, and about punishing immigrants and asylum seekers for daring to hope for a better life in our country. It is against international treaties we have signed, it is immoral from a basic human standpoint, and we all have an obligation to speak out against it.**

So, I organized the march (on June 30) across the Portage Lift Bridge. I was pleased that we got nearly 100 people participating in the march. I know turnout would have been greater but many of our marchers got called in to the volunteer center or were still busy with cleanup efforts, which I support wholeheartedly. Many of our marchers also came directly from volunteering in the community or left directly to go back to volunteering.

Susan Burack of Hancock -- a longtime activist supporter of peace, justice and human rights -- told Keweenaw Now why she joined this march: "My heart breaks hearing about mothers and children being separated," she said. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

The great people of the Copper Country have hearts large enough to show compassion for their neighbors across the Keweenaw as well as their neighbors across the borders -- which is why most of us are active in both this cause and the cleanup in our own community. No one who comes to us seeking help in their time of need should have to suffer, which is why we march for our neighbors at the border and volunteer for our neighbors at home.

Inset photo: Guest author Anna Ehl, organizer of the local June 30 "Families Belong Together" march across the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

More photos:

Nearly 100 people participated in the local June 30 "Families Belong Together" march across the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Allan Baker)

Participants in the June 30 march display signs to passing traffic on the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

For many Americans this sign says it all. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

This marcher's sign is a reminder that many Copper Country residents are descendants of Finnish immigrants. (Photo © and courtesy Erin Smith)

These marchers remind us that many people consider separation of immigrant parents from their children a moral issue. (Photo © and courtesy Allan Baker)


* Guest author Anna Ehl is a local Copper Country resident.

** Click here for the June 24, 2018, NBC News article about the Family Case Management program. Click here for the June 20, 2018, NBC News article on this difference in cost.

See, on The Atlantic, photos of thousands who participated in "Families Belong Together" marches in cities and towns across the country on June 30, 2018.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Paige Wiard Gallery hosts Copper Country Strong Art Auction through July 10

After the Storm. Collage by Fredi Taddeucci. This is one of several works of art donated to the Copper Country Strong Art Auction at the Paige Wiard Gallery in Calumet. The money raised will go to the Keweenaw Community Foundation to help people who have lost their home or need to make repairs because of the June 17 storm. (Photos courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

CALUMET -- Artists who exhibit their work in the Paige Wiard Gallery in Calumet have donated art works to the Gallery's Copper Country Strong Art Auction. Bidding ends on Tuesday, July 10.

Maple with a Touch of Turquoise, by Bill Wiard. This auction item is a maple vessel has been hand turned from maple from the Keweenaw that has a touch of turquoise from the Kingman Mine in Arizona. This piece is 5 inches tall and approximately 7 inches wide.

All money raised from this auction will go to the Keweenaw Community Foundation (KCF), which keeps all donations in the Keweenaw area. The money will be used to help people who have lost their home or need to make repairs because of the June 17 storm.

If you would like to make a bid, you can post a bid in the comment section of the announcement on the Paige Wiard Gallery Facebook page. If you don’t want your name attached to a bid, instant message Paige or email her at and she will post it as anonymous.

Purple Iris, by Edith Wiard. This original watercolor was inspired by the beautiful iris that grow in Edith's garden along the shore of Lake Superior in Calumet.

You may also stop by the Gallery at 109 Fifth Street in Calumet during the First Friday Art Walk tonight, July 6, and make a bid.

To see more photos of art donated to the auction visit the Paige Wiard Gallery Facebook Page.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Pilgrim River Watershed Trail Run/Hike to be Sunday, July 8

Pilgrim River trail volunteers, from left, Stephen Handler, Melissa Wenzel and Christine Handler, are pictured here during trail work earlier this year. The sign announces the Pilgrim River Watershed Project, a local conservation project supporting sustainable forestry, watershed protection, public recreation and education. (Photo © David Paulu and courtesy Christine Handler, his sister)

HOUGHTON -- Join Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) and Keweenaw Running Group for a recreational trail run or hike at the Pilgrim River Watershed Project Boundary Road trail at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 8. Participants will travel the 3.5 mile trail, which consists of two track and rugged single track. The trail runs along the Pilgrim River and its tributaries. There will be faster, slower and hiking pace groups. On-leash dogs are welcome.

Afterwards, participants are invited to join KLT board member Christine Handler for post-run muffins and coffee at her home near the trailhead. Click here for directions. (See South Loop/Boundary Road Access.) Note that parking is limited and carpooling is encouraged.

According to Handler, this trail was largely undamaged by the June 17 storm and is still easily passable.

The Pilgrim River Watershed Project is a local conservation project supporting sustainable forestry, watershed protection, public recreation and education. The property includes over 3 miles of the Pilgrim River, including a good portion of the River's headwaters. To learn about the project and how it benefits the community click here.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Houghton County begins third week Of recovery after Father’s Day flooding

HOUGHTON -- Weekend downpours caused only minor delays in repair work being done on roads and culverts in and around Houghton County over the weekend. Local officials say it was a good test of the work done so far but cautioned there is still much to be done.

"Our main objective is to establish the safe passage of water, whether in original or rerouted beds," said Department of Environmental Quality Incident Management Specialist Scott Schaefer. "Right now, one of our main concerns is culverts associated with the mining area railroad grades that have become clogged with debris."

Some of that debris pileup has been caused by illegal dumping of household items, with everything from coolers to mattresses being found in culverts and drainage ditches. Officials remind residents that all debris needs to be discarded by regular means of collection, or by taking them to one of the two county transfer locations. Normal fees will apply, but people are encouraged to obtain and keep receipts as funds may be available for possible reimbursement at a later date.

Residents who notice any drain blockage, ditch or culvert problems should call their local Township Supervisor for routing through the appropriate channels.

Reminder: A Household Hazardous Waste Collection event is planned for Friday, July 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on MacDonald Street behind the Lake Linden Park. This event is for the exclusive use of residential flood victims only.

The Superior Watershed Partnership has agreed to take over management of both the Volunteer Registration Center and the Donation Distribution Center, which are now located at The Copper Country Mall. Hours of operation for the remainder of this week, July 3-8, are as follows:
Tuesday: 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday and Friday: 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Center is requesting that individuals please bring a picture I.D. to show Houghton County residency.

The call continues to go out for volunteers to help with cleanup as recovery efforts transition from "slinging mud and filling buckets" to interior demolition work. The Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) is located at the former JCPenney location in the Copper Country Mall (rear entrance). Those who can offer their time to volunteer, or people who still need help, can visit that location, visit  or call (906) 233-6621. Volunteer Coordinator Jon Stone stresses that there are jobs for everyone, no matter age or physical condition. Some volunteers are helping by driving supplies to needed areas.

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department reports that many beaches, lakes and rivers remain closed or under a health advisory following the weekend rains. See update in our right-hand column or visit the Health Dept. Web site.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Father's Day storm spares all but one in Houghton County

In the wake of torrential rain on Father's Day, June 17, the scene at the home of Cynthia Drake in Ripley on Monday, June 18, was busy with volunteers helping to clean up mud, rocks and other debris spread from the overflowing of Ripley Falls. (Photo © and courtesy Regina Alleman. Reprinted here with permission.)

By Vanessa Dietz*

Like an alarm clock ringing, the thud of the refrigerator falling over alerted a Ripley family to dangerous flood waters swirling in and around their home during the height of a Father’s Day storm in Houghton County.

Early on the morning of June 17, Cynthia May Drake, her daughter Samantha, and dog, Monte, had a rude awakening. They had been fast asleep on the second floor of their Ripley home when flood waters washed through the first floor knocking the fridge over.

"I am alive because a first responder and my dear neighbors called for help to rescue my Samantha, my wee pup, and I from a home where flood waters were coming up the stairs from the first floor and keeping the doors shut from the inside," Drake said on her Facebook page.

It was a particularly close call for Drake and Monte, who had often slept in a backyard tent. Luckily, Drake had decided to stay inside with Samantha that fateful night. Lost in a landslide of water, rubble, and rocks, the tent had been set up in the newly formed path of the overflowing Ripley Falls.

Flood waters from Ripley Falls coursed through Cynthia May Drake's Ripley home on Sunday, June 17. Accompanied by her friend Robin Hammer Mueller, Drake returned to the scene in the evening, after she, her daughter and dog were rescued in the early morning hours. (Video © and courtesy Robin Hammer Mueller. Reprinted with permission.)

"I am alive because I was saved by my 15-year-old from certain death in my beloved tent," Drake said.

A kind-hearted soul, Drake is a life coach and avid volunteer who is actively involved in the community. She works out of her home -- the Ripley House of Healing -- and regularly invites people there for fellowship and seminars centered on open discussion and enlightenment. She’d often fire up her backyard sauna for visitors to enjoy.

Brockit photographer Adam Johnson shared an aerial video of the path taken by the water from the top of Quincy Hill in Ripley to the homes below Ripley Falls:

This aerial pass from the top of Quincy Hill down through Ripley was taken on June 20, 2018, after the flooding in Houghton County. Click here for larger version. (Video © and courtesy Adam Johnson ǀ brockit)

Drake’s neighbors, Jeff Foss and Bethany Jones, narrowly escaped flood waters with their two children, a neighbor’s child, and their dog.

"We got out when we were smelling gas and saw Cindy’s sauna building going down the street," around 3 a.m., Jones said.

"I was calling 911," she said, estimating the massive wall of water flowing through the area was 150 feet wide and up to 20 feet deep.

"We absolutely love our neighborhood and our neighbors," Jones said.

Jones posted an update on her Facebook page Friday, June 22, saying the initial clean-out and deconstruction/demolition at their home to save the main structure was about 99 percent complete, thanks to the help of many volunteers.

Photographer Adam Johnson of brockit inc. posted on Facebook an album of photos on the Houghton County flood volunteers. Here Adam's daughter, Kora, works with Kiko de Melo e Silva removing water damaged walls and flooring to prevent mold in the home of Jeff Foss and Bethany Jones. (Photo © and courtesy Adam Johnson ǀ brockit. Reprinted with permission.)**

"We got hit pretty hard," Jones explained. "We were all just terrified. It’s pretty awe-inspiring the major damage a thunderstorm can do. I’m just grateful we all escaped with our lives."

A 12-year-old Houghton boy wasn’t so lucky.

Houghton-Portage Township School student Thatcher A. Markham was trapped in debris while sleeping in a basement bedroom.

Just before 5 a.m. that tragic morning, deputies from the Houghton County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the Canal Road home of his parents, Rodney and Joanne Markham.

"The father was able to dig out the child and perform CPR," according to a press release from the Houghton County Sheriff’s office. "Deputies, along with Stanton Township first responders and the father, were able to transport the child (across the Portage Shipping Canal) to the Hancock City boat launch with a neighbor’s boat due to severe flooding and road washouts. The child was then transported by Mercy EMS to UP Health System Portage where they were able to get a pulse. The child will be airlifted to a children’s hospital for treatment."

Sadly, Thatcher died the following evening, Monday, June 18, at CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. He was buried June 22 in the Oskar Cemetery.

The sheriff’s office said Stanton Township First Responders, Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Hancock City Police Department, Michigan Tech Public Safety, and Mercy EMS helped get Thatcher to the hospital.

According to his obituary, Thatcher was an avid fisherman and goalie in the Copper Country Junior Hockey Association, winning the Squirt B State Tile in 2015. In addition to his grieving parents and hundreds of relatives, he leaves behind siblings: Drake, 14; Sawyer, 8; Grace, 4; and Penn, 10 months.

In the wake of the devastation, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster for Houghton, Menominee, and Gogebic counties, channeling state support to the hardest hit areas in the Upper Peninsula.

Federal funds are still up in the air, but could be forthcoming.

An official update posted on Copper Country Strong today, June 25, states the following:

"Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (EMHSD) will begin arriving in Houghton County today to begin assessments of the local flood damage. Four person teams will disburse throughout the county to look at a sampling of the sites that were reported to them by the local assessment teams. They will calculate estimates of cost for repair of the sites and then compare their estimates to those submitted by the local assessment teams.

"It is important to note that no federal declaration has yet been made regarding the disaster."

Rep. Jack Bergman, and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters sent a joint letter to Snyder issued June 20: "If the resources to assist these impacted communities in the response and recovery efforts exceed the capacity of the state and local governments, we are ready to support you in efforts to seek federal assistance. We are committed to doing everything we can at the federal level to support those affected by this disaster."

Senator Stabenow visits Ripley June 25

Today, Monday, June 25, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, along with State Rep. Scott Dianda, met with local residents, in particular with local homeowners in Ripley, to assess the damage done by this past weekend’s storm.

On Monday, June 25, at the Ripley Fire Hall, Senator Debbie Stabenow meets with Ripley resident Cynthia Drake, left, to discuss the damage to her home. Also pictured are, from left, State Rep. Scott Dianda, Houghton County Road Engineer Kevin Harju, and MDOT Superior Region Head Engineer Aaron Johnson. (Photo courtesy Rep. Scott Dianda. Reprinted with permission.)

The governor hasn’t addressed potential federal funding yet.

"The residents of these three counties have experienced significant hardship since last weekend’s heavy rainfall and severe flooding," Snyder said on his website June 21. "We have committed all state resources to assist with the response, and we’re committed to protecting all residents while quickly rebuilding damaged infrastructure. I want to thank all of the responding state agencies, local emergency management services, local officials and volunteer services for the work they have been doing to help the impacted communities recover."

In addition to Thatcher’s death, Houghton County Administrator Eric Forsberg said one person was slightly injured in the storm. However, the infrastructure and property damage has been extensive.

Flood waters in Ripley also did extensive damage to Nancy and Dianne Sprague's house, where the entire dining room fell into the basement. The dining room was often the scene of lovely meals the Spragues generously provided on holidays for international students and friends. Fortunately the 100-year-old piano was one item volunteers helped to rescue, Nancy said. (Photo © and courtesy Adam Johnson ǀ brockit. Reprinted with permission.)

June 23 Report: Houghton County infrastructure damage estimated at $50 million

"The preliminary estimate submitted to the State of Michigan for damage to Houghton County infrastructure including county and local roads along with municipal water, sewage and drain systems etc. stands at approximately 50 million dollars," according to the June 23 update from the Houghton County Michigan Office of Emergency Measures Forsberg sent. (In addition to other information, some of the daily updates are posted on Copper Country Strong.)

"This does not include damage to state assets such as MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) roads and DNR (Department of Natural Resources) trails which are reported directly to the state. This also does not include the cost of damage to individual homes and business. The current count for damaged structures in Houghton County totals 151 having minor damage, 70 having major damage, nine that are inaccessible, and four that have been destroyed. Approximately 1,000 homes and business were visited by the assessment teams."

According to a June 22 recovery update, "The current count for Houghton County roads stands at 103 damaged with 36 being made impassible by the flood. Work on those roads continues with county, municipal and contract crews.

"MDOT continues to work on US 41, M-26 and M-203. They plan on paving the US 41 washouts between Houghton and Chassell today and eliminating the traffic signals upon completion. A request for bids will be let out for a one lane bridge on M-203 this Monday for work to be completed by the end of July. Bids will be let out in August for a permanent bridge which could take until 2019 to complete."

The June 23 update also addressed damage to recreational (ATV) trails.

"The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has completed their inspection of the area’s recreational trails," the update says. "They report 92 minor washouts, 28 medium washouts, 15 large washouts and 15 massive washouts. All Houghton County recreational trails are closed to all traffic and should not be accessed under any circumstances due to these dangerous conditions."***

Some beaches reopened

Western U.P. Health Department announced the reopening of seven bathing beaches June 23.

"The beaches reopened for recreation are Second Sand Beach north of L’Anse, Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Bete Gris Beach, Eagle Harbor, Calumet Waterworks Park, Lake Medora, and Porcupine Mountains State Park west of Silver City," according to the health department website. "Aside from the seven reopened locations, all other western U.P. waters remain closed to recreation including swimming. Surface water samples collected at many other inland lakes and Lake Superior beaches still have high levels of E.coli and/or fecal coliform bacteria in exceedance of Michigan DEQ and U.S. EPA standards for body contact. The presence of E.coli and fecal coliforms means that the water has been contaminated by animal and/or human waste and exposure carries a significant health risk."

The storm delivered up to nearly 7 inches of rain, creating raging streams that caused the damage. Most of the rain came down between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., according to the National Weather Service’s report on the storm.

In a June 20 press release, Houghton County Emergency Management Coordinator Chris Van Arsdale said the downpour tied a record set in 1909.

"Thunderstorms were very efficient," said Forecaster Jon Banitt, from the National Weather Station in Marquette. He said storm conditions developed due to an abundance of moisture in the air, and Houghton was just north of a quasi-stationary frontal boundary -- a slowly fluctuating weather front -- that had set up between warm and cold air masses. "It’s just random that it happened to occur over Houghton. You had maybe several inches in an hour, not in a minute," as some have surmised.

Volunteers, fundraisers respond to neighbors' needs

After the storm passed, displaced residents had to figure out what, if anything, could be done to save their homes. In true Yooper fashion, friends and strangers showed up to help right off the bat.

Volunteers work to remove debris behind Cynthia Drake's home in Ripley the day after the storm and flood from Ripley Falls. (Photo © and courtesy Regina Alleman. Reprinted with permission.)

Drake herself first returned to the scene later in the day on June 17 to salvage a few pillowcases of precious possessions accompanied by her friend, Robin Hammer Mueller.

"What’s going on at Ripley and other areas is tragic," Mueller said on June 20. "It’s a beautiful thing to see the community coming together the way it is."

Drake’s friend Regina Alleman also headed to Ripley when she heard the news.

"I was trying to reach my friend Cynthia Drake and was traveling on my mountain bike as I knew roads were closed," Alleman said. "I tried to ride to town on my mountain bike from Wall Street to get to Cynthia Drake’s house. I couldn’t even get through on my mountain bike."

Flood damage caused this closing of Wall Street on June 17, when Regina Alleman was trying to get to Cynthia Drake's house on her mountain bike to help her friend in need. (Photo © and courtesy Regina Alleman)

During her journey to get to Drake's house in Ripley, Regina Alleman took this photo of a portion of the roadway near the intersection of North and South Superior roads, which gave way to storm runoff caused by torrential rains on Sunday, June 17. This was in Liminga. The intersection is east of E.B. Holman Elementary School. (Photo © and courtesy Regina Alleman)

"I got a ride a few hours later via an Atlantic Mine route that was open," Alleman explained. "Cynthia is such a huge hearted person and sensitive person. It felt so important to reach her on Sunday, I just couldn’t give up."

A registered nurse at Copper Country Mental Health, Alleman lives off grid in a cabin off Wall Street in Atlantic Mine.

"I moved here in January of 2016 and have never felt such love for a community," she said. "I love my work, this land, Lake Superior and the people here."

Ripley resident Cynthia May Drake, left, embraces her friend Regina Alleman the evening of June 17, 2018, after Alleman finally reached Drake's storm-ravaged home. (Photo © and courtesy Robin Hammer Mueller. Reprinted with permission.)

Alleman said Drake told her, "'I have NOT lost my home and I never will. All of you are my home.'"

Reflecting on that, Alleman said, "This is the essence of community. We are each other’s home. It is who we are to each other here in the Copper Country and it’s why I will never leave."

Cynthia Drake, center, is pictured here with her friends Regina Alleman, left, and Sarah Dandelet, who were among many friends and neighbors who came to help. (Photo © Steve Jurmu and courtesy Sarah Dandelet. Reprinted with permission.)

In addition to myriad donations from area organizations and businesses, individuals, and others across the country, a full force of local workers and volunteers have worked tirelessly in the aftermath of the storm, including a steady crew in Ripley.

On Monday, June 18, volunteers work in Ripley to remove debris from the Ripley Falls flood. (Photo © and courtesy Regina Alleman.)

"A group from Michigan Technological University, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.P. Engineers and Architects, and the Houghton County Drain Commissioner’s Office met at Mont Ripley (on June 22) to review the areas damaged during the flood to develop short- and long-term plans to address the washout that occurred in the Ripley Falls area (owned by Michigan Tech)," according to the June 23 county update. "In the short term, a culvert that plugged during the heavy rains on Sunday (June 17) will be removed, and equipment will be brought in to ditch and rock a new streambed into the bedrock of Ripley Falls. U.P. Engineers and Architects will also begin work on a long-term plan to restore the area."

Drake, for one, appreciated all the help she’s received from organizations and individuals.

"And I mean all of you, with thoughts, prayers, financial help, phone calls, ideas, hard labor, food, well wishes," she posted on Facebook. "All of this is what we live for. Our purpose in life is to serve one another and create a community of bonds so tight that nothing can divide us because we are bonded in love."

A week after the storm, while much cleanup work remains to be done, the Drake (left) and Foss-Jones houses in Ripley show the results of hard work by volunteers. (Photo © and courtesy Sarah Dandelet. Reprinted with permission.)

Logging tens of thousands of hours, volunteers were joined by about 60 members of Michigan Army National Guard units from Calumet, Kingsford, Gladstone, Sault Ste. Marie, and downstate, who began critical work to clear washed-out roads Wednesday, June 20.

Unit Supply Sgt. Patricia Thomas said the troops are here on state-activated orders for at least 10 days.

"It could get extended depending on what gets done in the next 10 days, and what needs to get done," Thomas explained.

Leaving road repairs to the guard and other contractors, droves of volunteers continue to show up at people’s houses, ready for action.

"Woke up this morning to two women outside telling me they were here to volunteer to work on our basement," said Keith Riley, of Mason, on his Facebook page June 23. "Within minutes, there were another approximately 50 volunteers standing in the road in front of the house. Most of those were from the Detroit area. Well about an hour later they had everything emptied from the basement and were scraping buckets of mud out. It was a little bit overwhelming. People are dropping off supplies and I understand that another six semis are coming in this evening with even more supplies. I’m sure there is a lesson in this for the rest of the nation: no politics, no whining, no finger pointing -- old-fashioned neighborly goodness. Despite the storm, this could be the best weekend ever."

A few of the approximately 50 cleanup volunteers who showed up at the Mason home of Keith Riley on June 23 haul the washer and other items out of his flooded basement. (Photo © and courtesy Keith Riley. Reprinted with permission.)****

Riley appreciated the coordinated effort.

"The organization has been spectacular," Riley said. "Tamarack Fire Department, whose area is Mason, attacked our small community with volunteers with the same passion as if the town was ablaze. They and Hubbell Fire Department need a lot of credit."

Money is being raised by three local organizations: Keweenaw Community Foundation at (906) 482-9673, Portage Health Foundation at (906) 523-5920, and River Valley Bank at (906) 483-2601.

Additional Gofundme donation sites have been established for the Markhams, the Drakes, Jeff Foss and Bethany Jones, Dianne and Nancy (Ripley neighbors of Drake and Jones), the LaCasse family, Houghton County Museum Flood Relief, Houghton County Flood Relief Fund, and Copper Country Flood Relief Fund.

In addition to the expense of remediating homes, one of the biggest hurdles faced by homeowners will be finding the money to restore their homes and replace water damaged items, predicted 2-1-1 Supervisor Terry Irving.

"Nobody has flood insurance," Irving said, in reference to the more than 800 calls the hotline had received from Houghton County residents by June 21. "One of the biggest needs out there is going to be hot water heaters and furnaces."

Resources, information for residents impacted by storm

Using donations they received, the Portage Health Foundation and Keweenaw Community Foundation are planning to assist homeowners to repair or replace furnaces, water heaters, and other items damaged by the flood, according to the June 21 update from the Office of Emergency Measures.

Cleaning up mold will be another challenge for homeowners and cleanup crews, Irving predicts.

"That’s going to be a huge need," Irving added, directing people to the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department website for cleanup tips.

The June 21 update went on to say the following:

"Any county resident whose homes or businesses have been impacted by the flooding and needs help with cleanup can call (906) 233-6621. Hubbell residents requiring assistance can call Township Supervisor Brian Cadwell at 370-5097 or Hubbell Fire Chief Jeremy Dessellier at 231-2709. The Hubbell Fire Hall also has cleaning supplies for residents who need them.

"The Red Cross has established a distribution center at the Calumet Coliseum which is open 24/7. They have clean-up kits, comfort kits, water, etc. They are also assisting with distributing meals to volunteers and with the damage assessment process.

"The City of Houghton is also accepting donations of goods and distributing them throughout the county. Call the city at (906) 482-1700 if you would like to donate any items. Any county residents needing any supplies can stop by Dee Stadium to pick them up. Lt. Nick Roberts of the Houghton Police Department says they are looking for donations of not only water but small, self-contained foods like Lunchables, chips and other non-perishable items that can be placed in bags for individual distribution to volunteers and local residents.

"Two sites in the county have been designated as drop-off points for storm debris.... The sites are located at the former Copper Country Dairy on First Street in Dollar Bay and on Paradise Road just off Superior Road in Dodgeville. Look for signs at both locations. These locations are only for items such as limbs, brush, bricks, blocks, and gravel. Other debris including household waste, furniture, carpeting, etc. must either be disposed of by regular means of collection or by taking them to the two county transfer station locations. Normal fees will apply, however residents are advised to obtain and keep receipts as funds may be available for possible reimbursement at a later date.

"A location for disposal of hazardous materials such as oil, paint cans and contaminated items is still being planned.

"For those who need help or would like to offer their time, they can call the Volunteer Hotline at (906) 233-6621.  They may also visit the Facebook site at Houghton County Flood Volunteer (and visit) (for more information).

"Volunteers are needed.

"Concerns about the structural damage of buildings in the area are being addressed by the office of Houghton County Building Inspector. Questions about inspections or other concerns may be directed to that office at (906) 482-2260 or by Email at"

Additional information was included in the June 23 update:

"Lt. Nick Roberts, of the Houghton Police Department, reports that the following items are in great need: fans, dehumidifiers, extension cords, power strips, power washers, rubber boots, pry bars/crowbars, sump pumps, long sleeve rubber gloves, face masks, eye protection, first aid kits and individually wrapped snacks to feed volunteers. Anyone wishing to donate these items, please contact the City of Houghton at 482-1700. Anyone needing those items for flood recover work can pick them up at the Dee.

"A plan to deal with household hazardous waste continues to be worked on. Waste Management reports that it may be a number of weeks before they can free up assets to send to Houghton County to collect those items. In the interim, please do not dispose of paint, contaminated gasoline, oil etc. in the trash. Dumping out these hazardous materials in a storm drain is also never appropriate. Even a little bit makes a bit difference.

"Torch Lake Township and the City of Houghton will resume their regular garbage pickup on Monday, June 25.

"The Village of Lake Linden has water, food, clean-up kits, and tools available for flood victims. Please stop by the Lake Linden School bus garage.

"A member of Team Rubicon, a volunteer disaster relief organization comprised of military veterans, reported at Friday afternoon’s briefing (on June 22 at the Houghton County Courthouse) that he has worked disasters all over the country but has never seen a volunteer effort like the one he is witnessing in Houghton County."

With continued support at home and beyond, we remain Copper Country strong.


* Guest writer Vanessa Dietz is a freelance journalist, formerly feature editor and reporter for The Daily Mining Gazette.

** See more brockit inc. photos on their Facebook page and in the June 25, 2018, MLive article, "See how 'Sisu' spirit is helping U.P. clean up devastating flood damage."

*** As far as we know, this does not include local cross-country ski and biking trails, though damage to them is being assessed and volunteers are at work. Watch for a future article on trail work needed.

**** Keweenaw Now thanks all those who sent us photos and videos, with permissions, for this article.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Juhannus 2018 to feature folk music, dance, workshops, farmers' markets, more June 23-24

Members of the Finnish folk band Jepokryddona, "The Spice Girls of Finland," will participate in the Juhannus 2018 Festival weekend, offering folk music and dance workshops on Saturday, June 23, in Hancock, and a concert June 24 in Jacobsville. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- Juhannus 2018 is underway! Finnish American Folk School is hosting a Juhannus weekend festival that is celebrating Finnish heritage and the communities in Hancock, Toivola and Jacobsville. The Finnish folk band Jepokryddona, "The Spice Girls of Finland," will headline the area’s Juhannus celebration.

The Juhannus festival includes several folk workshops, a Midsummer pole ceremony, and folk dancing and folk music workshops. And of course, traditional lighting of the Juhannus kokko (bonfire) will take place at Agate beach in Toivola Saturday, June 23.

On Sunday, June 24, as a grand finale of the celebrations, Jepokryddona will hold a concert in Jacobsville Chapel. As their name suggests, their music is spicy, lively and full of temperament.

Here is the schedule for Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24:

Saturday, June 23:

 9 a.m. -- Jouhikko building class continued; completion of this class entitles students to seat in the jouhikko playing workshop later today.

10 a.m. - 2 p.m. -- Tori+, Quincy Green, Hancock. Tori+ brings Farmer’s Market/Arts and Crafts fair to Quincy Green in festival atmosphere. Sponsored by Copper Country Community Arts Center. The regular weekly Tori will also be open at this time in their regular location on Quincy Green.

11 a.m. -- Midsummer pole ceremony, Quincy Green, Hancock. Program includes demonstration by Jepokryddona.

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. -- Minuet dance workshop by Jepokryddona, Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. Participants to process in to FAHC following demonstration on Quincy Green. $10 per person/$15 per couple.

4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. -- Folk music workshop with Jepokryddona, at Misery Bay School, Toivola. $10 per person.

5:30-6:30 p.m. -- Jouhikko playing workshop with Clare Zuraw, at Misery Bay School, Toivola. $10 per person, unless enrolled in jouhikko building workshop.

7 p.m.-9 p.m. -- Evening dance with music by Jepokryddona, Agate Beach, Toivola.

9 p.m. -- Lighting of the Juhannus kokko, Agate Beach, Toivola.

Sunday, June 24:

2 p.m. -- Concert by Jepokryddona, Jacobsville Chapel, Jacobsville. Come as you are, pay as you can.

To register for workshops, call (906) 487-7549. All events subject to change.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Father's Day storm impacts roads, neighborhoods, beaches; officials assess damage, warn of health and safety hazards

By Michele Bourdieu

This map of road closures and wash outs provided by the Houghton County Sheriff's office, was published on June 18 on Click here for a larger version. (Reprinted here with permission.)

[Editor's Note: Since our June 17 announcements of road closings, storm damage, etc. (see right-hand column) we have gathered some more UPDATES from various sources in the local area. We are providing links to the sources for detailed information.]

HOUGHTON -- In order to help law enforcement and emergency workers, the public is asked to avoid -- both on foot and in a vehicle -- roads that are closed and washed out as well as other damaged areas.

This morning, on WOLV radio, an announcement from the Houghton Police Department requested that people avoid sightseeing and taking photos of the damage out of curiosity. The public is especially asked not to cross the yellow tape police barricades because it hinders the job of law enforcement and is also dangerous. People should also avoid the waterfront in damaged areas.

This aerial photo shows the Pilgrim River flooding US-41 between Houghton and Chassell. US-41 was closed here Sunday, June 17, but it has been opened for one-lane traffic today. (Photo courtesy State Rep. Scott Dianda. Reprinted with permission.)

As of today, Monday, June 18, the following road closings are listed as follows in the Keweenaw Report:
-- US-41 is open between Chassell and Houghton, but traffic is reduced to one lane at the Pilgrim River, and at Goodwin Motors.
-- M-26 is closed between Ripley and Lake Linden because of numerous washouts.
-- Canal Road is open to emergency traffic only.

The following roads remain closed: Sharon Avenue just east of Memorial Drive, Old Mill Road, Coles Creek Road, Liminga Road, Paradise Road, Boudary Road, 2nd Street in Ripley, Pewabic Street in Ripley, Military Street in Ripley, Upper Forsman Road, Brooks Road, North Royce Road, Beacon Hill/Toivola Road, Red Barn Road, Airport Park Road, Goat Hill Road, Woodside Lane, Hendrickson Road, Salo Road.

In addition the Keweenaw Report also posted a handwritten list of roads with problems from Rob Tarvis at the Houghton County Road Commission. "Roads with an asterisk are impassable; others are damaged, but can be navigated with care. Add to his list North Cloverland Road, which is impassable," the report notes.

Health Department updates

The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department has lifted their June 17 Boil Water Advisories for local municipal water systems, but has issued a precautionary boil water alert for about 50 municipal water system customers in the Torch Lake area because of a water main break.

The Health Department and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality have confirmed that residents in Houghton, Hancock, Portage Township, Chassell, Adams Township, South Range, Calumet, Laurium, Lake Linden, Hubbell, Dollar Bay, and Ripley can continue to use their municipal drinking water supply on a normal basis.

Well-water users who believe their wells may have been flooded from effects of the storm should consult this Keweenaw Report article on well water safety.

Also from the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department is a precautionary beach closure for all recreational bathing beaches in the Western Upper Peninsula. This is due to severe erosion and flooding caused by heavy rains. The public is encouraged to stay away from beaches until flooding has subsided and waters are determined to be safe. Heavy rains can wash bird and animal droppings into larger bodies of water, resulting in higher than normal E.Coli numbers. This precautionary beach closure advisory remains in effect until results from the sampling verify the water is safe for body contact. Health Department staff will conduct sampling of beach water to determine if the water is safe for swimming. Another notice will be issued when the swimming advisory has been lifted. If you have any questions, call the Health Department at (906) 482-7382.

From State Rep. Scott Dianda:

According to State Rep. Scott Dianda's updates on his Facebook page, Governor Snyder has issued a state of disaster declaration for both Houghton and Menominee counties.* (Click below for a link to the Governor's press release.)

Michigan's 110th District State Rep. Scott Dianda, second from right, is pictured here with Houghton County Commission Chair Al Koskela, second from left, and two Michigan State troopers with their helicopter, used on June 17 to survey the damage of the storm in Houghton County. (Photo courtesy State Rep. Scott Dianda. Reprinted with permission.)

"I spent the last two days working on the ground with our first responders, and conducting an aerial survey of the damage with the Michigan State Police," Dianda writes. "The intense storms and flash flooding show significant damage to our roads, highways, businesses and homes and remind us of how fragile Michigan’s infrastructure is. We have much to do to repair and rebuild to ensure that our roads and bridges are fixed right and that this kind of disaster does not happen again. While there are many state departments already active in our communities and offering resources, I will continue to work to ensure that they are here for as long as we need them, and that we maximize all available federal resources to help our families and communities get back on their feet again."**

Rep. Dianda also posted today an announcement from the Portage Health Foundation (PHF) stating that those who wish to contribute to disaster relief efforts can donate to PHF's recently created Houghton County Flood Relief Fund. PHF will receive, record, hold and disperse all monies contributed to this fund in a manner that is deemed appropriate by the PHF Board of Directors with input from the Houghton County Emergency Response leadership.

Contributions can made online at or mailed to Portage Health Foundation, 400 Quincy Street, Hancock, Michigan 49930. Donors are asked to follow the online instructions and put FLOOD RELIEF in the comments section of your contribution so it can be properly recorded and allocated to flood relief efforts. If sending a check, please put Flood Relief in the memo line.

UPDATED: Hancock garbage pick-up and recycling delayed, RESUMES TUESDAY

According to the City of Hancock Web site, Waste Management's curbside garbage and recycling pick-up resumes on Tuesday, June 19, after being delayed one day. See our right-hand column.***

See additional updates and announcements in our right-hand column.


* Click here to read Governor Snyder's June 18, 2018, press release, "Gov. Rick Snyder declares disaster for Houghton and Menominee counties." The article also announces a Michigan State Police Web site, Western U.P. Flooding, created for this disaster.

** Visit Rep. Dianda's Facebook page here.

*** Visit the City of Hancock Web site for updates on garbage pick-up. See additional updates and announcements in our right-hand column.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Pine Mountain Music Festival brings opera, flamenco, Bergonzi Quartet, young classical talent to U.P. June 15-30

The 2018 Pine Mountain Music Festival will present Bizet's sensuous opera, Carmen, starring Amanda Crider as Carmen. Pictured here is French flamenco dancer Karyne Arys as the Gypsy dancer in the opera. She also appears in the festival's Alma Flamenca and "A Taste of Carmen." (Photos courtesy Pine Mountain Music Festival)

HOUGHTON -- Welcome to the 28th season of the Pine Mountain Music Festival (PMMF)! The 2018 festival takes place June 15 - June 30 in Houghton, Calumet, Marquette, Iron Mountain, and Crystal Falls. This season's pièce de résistance is Bizet’s sensuous opera, Carmen, presented with full orchestra in Houghton’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts featuring Amanda Crider as Carmen, Isaac Hurtado as Don José, Heather Youngquist as Micaëla and Christopher Holmes as Escamillo. World-class French flamenco dancer Karyne Arys from Bordeaux, France, will dance the Gypsy dance to open Act II -- joined by guitarist "Polchu" from Paris and percussionist, Kahlil Sabbagh. The orchestra and chorus include professional musicians from the U.P. and surrounding areas.

Flamenco dancer Karyne Arys, makes her stunning debut at the Festival. Karyne brings nuanced athleticism and sensitive artistry to this ancient Spanish dance form. In addition to performing in the opera Carmen June 28 and 30, her troupe will perform in Alma Flamenca at the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls on June 23 and in the Calumet Theatre on June 24.

Iron Mountain and Marquette will enjoy "A Taste of Carmen," including arias from Carmen and dances from Alma Flamenca, appropriate for inclusion with the songs of Carmen.
Inset photo: French Flamenco dancer Karyne Arys.

The Bergonzi String Quartet, returning for its 24th residency at the Pine Mountain Music Festival, will perform concerts June 20 in Reynolds Hall, Marquette; June 21 at Immaculate Conception Church, Iron Mountain; and on June 23 at the Rozsa Center, Houghton. Their 2018 repertoire includes Divertimento No. 3, K. 138 (Mozart), Quartet, Op. 11 (Barber), and Quartet in C Minor (Brahms).
The Bergonzi String Quartet will perform in Marquette, Iron Mountain and Houghton.

The quartet also continues its special tradition of presenting free children's concerts throughout the U.P.*

The inspiring UPstarts concert series, now in its 6th year, features talented young musicians from the Upper Peninsula. Winning participants are selected from a peninsula-wide UPstarts Talent Contest that mines the best talent in the region. The 2018 winners are Elizabeth Grugin, Cheyenne Kaufman, Irene Ra, and Isabel Valencia. Susie Byykkonen, the festival's staff accompanist, accompanies the group. They will perform in Marquette, Houghton and Kingsford.

Justin Spenner and Mario Perez -- creators of the innovative B-Sides Art Song Collective -- will present a one-night-only vocal recital of the sublime art songs of German Romantic composer Robert Schumann on June 19 at Portage Lake United Church in Houghton. Works include Dichterliebe (A Poet's Love) and Liederkreis (Round of Songs). Leslie Dukes accompanies.

Pine Mountain Music Festival has a lasting commitment to bringing classical music to the Western Upper Peninsula. The Festival was founded in Iron Mountain, Michigan, in 1991 by Laura Jean Deming, a cellist and member of the orchestra of Lyric Opera of Chicago. That first season was primarily chamber music, but by 1992 opera was being produced. Carmen will be the 37th opera produced by PMMF.

This year the Festival is offering a $99 family season pass. This is part of a concerted effort to bring the next generation out to enjoy fine music. Festival artists will also conduct workshops and visit schools as "artists in residence" to further enlighten the next generation.

As residence of the U.P. we revel in our quality of life in this extraordinary land. Pine Mountain Music Festival is a major element in maintaining the special cultural perfection we enjoy. Tickets are available at**

* Visit for event details.
** Click here for the calendar and click on an event to order tickets or see the PMMF 2018 Ticket Brochure for more details.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Photography exhibit by Terhi Asumaniemi to open June 7 at Finlandia University Gallery

The Dawn, 2017. Pigment print by Finnish visual artist Terhi Asumaniemi. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University Gallery)

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University Gallery will present the work of Finnish visual artist Terhi Asumaniemi. Mindscapes - Forest Narratives, a photography exhibit, will be on display from June 7 to July 20, 2018. The Finlandia University Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

An opening reception for the public will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, with an artist talk beginning at 7:20 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Photographing the changing forests and mire landscapes of southern Finland, Terhi Asumaniemi examines our relationship with nature and how it is shaped by the cultural attitudes of the times and the moral and spiritual connections humans have with the environment. As forest industry has expanded in Finland, the forests of the artist’s childhood look different and mysterious to her now. Her poetic landscapes delve deeply into the interwoven relationship of humans and their environment.

The artist Terhi Asumaniemi.

"My own roots are in the rugged deep forests of southern Finland," says Asumaniemi. "According to research and oral tradition this area was in olden times inhabited by a mythical, indigenous people, which has been characterized as 'the Sami people' of the South. This vanished folk lived in the wooded areas up to the start of the modern age eventually blending into the main population. These days there is dispute about their real origin (about who they really were); however, they still live on in stories and legends."

Midsummer Magic by Terhi Asumaniemi.

"In my work I follow old stories deep into the forest where the real landscapes meet the way others describe, comprehend, and interpret their life-worlds resulting in various states of mind," continues Asumaniemi. "The creatures of the forest show themselves in the firelight, the ancient sea washes the rocks of the water spirits and the wanderer is lead to the expansive mire landscapes by those who watch over the deer."

Asumaniemi lives and works in Tampere, Finland. She received an MA in photography and visual journalism from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland (2012), and a BA degree from Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1998).

Birdsong by Terhi Asumaniemi.
The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 906-487-7500.

Click here to learn more about this exhibit, other exhibits and the Finlandia University Gallery.