See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Houghton County, MTU Dems to celebrate with Copper Country Presidential Inaugural Ball Jan. 17

HOUGHTON -- Join fellow Obama supporters, volunteers, local Democrats and friends in celebrating the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The College Democrats of Michigan Tech University and the Houghton County Democratic Party (HCDP) are co-sponsoring a local Presidential Inaugural Ball on Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Memorial Union Ballroom on the MTU campus. The evening of dinner, entertainment, live music and dancing is open to the public.

The evening will begin with a Social Hour from 6 p.m. - 7 p.m., followed by Buffet Dinner from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Entertainment and dancing will complete the evening from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

"Ours is a diverse party, so it seems to me our parties should be as diverse," says Brian Rendel, HCDP co-chair. "Dress as you wish. Wear a Tux, evening gown, or sweater and jeans. Wear whatever works to help you feel like celebrating. The fashion police are all busy planning for the celebrations in Washington anyway."

Tickets are $25 per person and include a delicious buffet dinner, dessert and entertainment. Tickets must be purchased by Wednesday, Jan. 14, so the caterers can plan. Buy the tickets locally at California Connection or Rhythm in Houghton, at Peterson's Fish Market on Quincy Hill or at Carmelita's restaurant in Calumet.

Tickets are also available for purchase and print-out, with a small convenience fee, through the web at

A cash bar will be open to persons 21 years of age and older with I.D.

The ballroom in the Memorial Union Building is #36 on the MTU campus map.

Visit for more news and updates from the Houghton Dems.

Arts Center to hold reception for "Self Portrait Invitational" Jan. 9

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center will hold an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, in the Center's Kerredge Gallery for the "Self Portrait Invitational" exhibit. Come and admire the self portraits of your favorite local artists.

The Arts Center is at 126 Quincy Street, Hancock. Hours are Tuesday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Call 906-482-2333 for more information.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"Wintering: Into the Hive," by Melissa Hronkin, to open Jan. 9 at Vertin Gallery

"Wintering: Into the Hive" post card announces Melissa Hronkin's new encaustics and beeswax collage installation opening Jan. 9 at the Vertin Gallery. The title is taken from a poem, "Wintering," by Sylvia Plath. (Photo © 2009 Melissa Hronkin. Reprinted with permission.)

CALUMET -- "Wintering: Into the Hive," an encaustics and beeswax collage installation by Melissa Hronkin and her Bees, will open with a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9, at the Vertin Gallery in Calumet. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

"We secretly adore winter," Hronkin writes in her artist's statement for the show. "With all of our complaining and dreading, a certain joy fills my being when the first snow falls, or the first blizzard has us snowed in. It is a time of repose and solitude that our souls need after such a frantic summer. So much light! Now, we sit in front of our full-spectrum lights in the dark of morning and much bee pollen and vitamin D tablets to fill the nutritional void. During this time, anything is possible. This is my most productive art-making time."

Her exhibit represents this time in winter -- a time of repose and solitude.

"So what do the bees DO all winter?" Hronkin asks. "Well, mostly, they sit around and try to keep warm. The queen stays in the middle of the colony, and the worker bees take turns at being on the outside of the winter cluster. The drones are ostracized in the autumn and forbidden to enter the hive at all, and hence die from cold and starvation. Clustering around their queen to retain the heat is [the worker bees'] means of climate control. Deep in the hive, the cluster expands and contracts with the temperature; the colder it gets, the tighter the huddle. I have created 'the guardians of the hive' to represent a hope and a prayer for the bees to make it through winter."

This piece is called "Vintage Woman in Jar with Honey." (Photo © 2009 Melissa Hronkin. Reprinted with permission.)

On her Web site, next to the above photo, Hronkin writes, "Winter is for women." She follows that statement with the poem "Wintering," by Sylvia Plath, her inspiration for the title of the show. Here is an excerpt:

"...The bees are all women,
Maids and the long royal lady.
They have got rid of the men,

The blunt, clumsy stumblers, the boors.
Winter is for women ----
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanish walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?
What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying. They taste the spring."

Hronkin says she hopes her project will bring awareness to the plight of the honey bee, whose disappearance, according to some scientists, may be a more urgent issue than global warming, because one third our food supply is pollinated by honeybees.

"Hopefully this installation and artwork create a sense of sweetness and light that honey and the honeybees bring to our daily lives," Hronkin concludes. "In the 'deep winter days' we could all use a little sweetness and light."

This exhibit continues through Feb. 4, 2009. The Vertin Gallery is located at 220 Sixth St. in Calumet. Winter hours for the Gallery are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Closed Sundays. Visit the Vertin Gallery Web site for more information.

KLT to offer "Animal Tracking" outing at Paavola Wetlands Jan. 10

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) announces an "Animal Tracking" outing, the first in a new series of events known as KLT Outings. This event will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, at the Paavola Wetlands Preserve near Hancock.

Participants will learn how to identify animal tracks and signs, large and small. Trip leader Brian Rajdl, biology teacher at Hancock High School, will teach about native-style tracking and tracking for science. He can even teach you how to tell a buck from a doe! He will also teach participants to make snow casts of tracks. Wear very warm clothes, winter boots and snowpants -- and bring snowshoes if you have them.

We will meet at the Paavola parking area. To get there from Hancock, go 1.5 miles north of Quincy Hill on U.S 41, then 0.6 miles east on No. 9 Road. The outing is free, with donations to KLT welcome. Space is limited. To reserve a place, e-mail Erik Lilleskov at with the subject “Animal tracking,” and in the message list the names of the participants and any questions.

If you can't e-mail, please call 483-0104. We will contact you by e-mail or phone if there is a cancellation or a need to reschedule.

For more information on Paavola and detailed driving directions, visit the KLT Web site.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Nordic Film Series to present documentary Jan. 8

HANCOCK –- The Finlandia University Nordic Film Series continues this Thursday, Jan. 8, with the Norwegian documentary, Give Us Back Our Skeletons. Showings are at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

Released in 1999, Give Us Back Our Skeletons tells the story of a Sámi activist and his quest for the return of the human remains of his ancestors.

Locked up in the Anatomical Institute in Oslo, Norway, two skeletons are all that is left of Mons Somby and Aslak Hetta, two Sámi men who were executed in 1854 for murder following a rebellion against the Norwegian government.

The descendants of Mons Somby and Aslak Hetta want the remains back so that they can give them a decent burial. The question is: Are they simple criminals or national heroes? In this documentary, Niillas Somby leads the battle to have the skeletons returned.

The film is in Sámi, Norwegian and English, with English subtitles.

For additional information, please contact James Kurtti at 906-487-7302 or email

Milwaukee skiers wind up Keweenaw weekend at Maasto Hiihto

HANCOCK -- On Sunday, Jan. 4, the Nordic Ski Club of Milwaukee wrapped up its traditional New Year's tour of Copper Country ski trails at the Maasto Hiihto trails in Hancock. This year over forty skiers from the Milwaukee area traveled by bus to enjoy the Michigan Tech trails, Swedetown and Maasto Hiihto.

An open gate at Churning Rapids, part of the Maasto Hiihto trail system, welcomes skiers. (Photo © 2008 and courtesy John Diebel)

The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC), with help from a number of volunteers, hosted a luncheon for the club at the Maasto Hiihto Chalet after their final ski on Sunday. The luncheon combined with daily trail passes raised over five hundred dollars to benefit the Maasto Hiihto trail system.

"Thanks for all of the excellent home-made food and goodies. KNSC hosted their most successful fundraiser luncheon ever," writes Sandy Aronson, chief chef at the KNSC chalet, in an email message to members. "Special thanks goes out to Jim Cortright of The Library Restaurant who donated two beautiful cheesecakes for the event. These decadent desserts added a special flair to our lunch offerings."

At the Maasto Hiihto Chalet on Sunday, Jan. 4, a hungry Milwaukee skier looks forward to sampling chocolate cheese cake donated by Jim Cortright of the The Library Bar and Restaurant. (Photo © 2008 and courtesy John Diebel)

Sandy Aronson noted the Milwaukee skiers had a wonderful three days in the Keweenaw. She reminded local skiers to be thankful for the many miles of wonderful cross-country trails we have so close to home.

"Pats on the back go to Swedetown and Tech Trails also," she said. "We heard several skiers comment that they wish they had time to ski at Chassell also (they hear so many of us raving about those trails too)."

Editor's Note: Future KNSC events:

On Sunday, Feb. 7, 2009, the Second Annual Barnelopet children's ski races will be held at the Maasto Hiihto ski trails. The races are non-competitive, and parents can ski with children if they wish. Co-sponsors are KNSC, the Keweenaw Community Foundation, Sons of Norway and Portage Health.

On Sunday, March 1, 2009, some of the finest food will be served to skiers as they descend the prettiest gorge in the Keweenaw! The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club is hosting the First Annual Glide-N-Gorge on the Maasto Hiihto ski trail. Watch for details on these events, coming soon.

Visit the KNSC Web site for more information about the Maasto Hiihto/Churning Rapids trails.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas Bird Count successful despite heavy snows

By Nancy Auer, Copper Country Audubon

Cardinals were among the most unusual bird sitings during the recent Houghton County Christmas Bird count. Photographer Michael Shupe photographed this cardinal on a snowy branch. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © 2008 M.J.Shupe Photography. Reprinted with permission.)

HOUGHTON -- Despite the heavy snows seen in December, the Houghton County Christmas Bird count was very successful. On a gray and snowy Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, 14 birding enthusiasts spread out across a 15-mile-diameter circle in Houghton County and counted 34 species and 1,944 individual birds.

Dana Richter, Copper Country Audubon Club president, photographed these Pine Grosbeaks eating sunflower seeds at a bird feeder on the Salo Road. "Males are bright red and females are gray," Richter says. "They are about the size of a robin and only come to the Copper Country in the winter." (Photo © 2008 Dana Richter. Reprinted with permission.)

The count is part of an annual event sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the local Copper Country Audubon Club. The Houghton count has been ongoing since 1976.

The most unusual reports for 2008 were 1 Brown Creeper, 6 Robins, 3 Northern Cardinals, 3 Gray Jays, 2 Cedar Waxwings and 3 Golden Crowned Kinglets.

Gray Jays, like this one photographed by Michael Shupe, were also among the rarest birds observed locally during the Christmas Bird Count. (Photo © 2008 M.J.Shupe Photography. Reprinted with permission.)

High counts were observed for American Goldfinches (320) and Common Redpolls (510), but we also saw a great many White-winged Crossbills (74) and Bohemian Waxwings (100).

Michael Shupe photographed this Bohemian Waxwing, one of the high-count birds. During the Copper Country Christmas Bird Count 100 of these were spotted by birders. (Photo © 2008 M.J.Shupe Photography. Reprinted with permission.)

Other findings included: 2 Canada Geese, 5 Mallards, 20 Common Goldeneye, 1 Bufflehead, 16 Ruffed Grouse, 6 Bald Eagles, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 8 Herring Gulls, 216 Rock Pigeons, 21 Mourning Doves, 24 Downy, 13 Hairy and 6 Pileated Woodpeckers, 90 Blue Jays, 30 American Crows, 33 Common Ravens, 272 Black-capped Chickadees, 48 Red-breasted and 21 White-breasted Nuthatches, 53 Starlings, 3 Dark-eyed Juncos, 9 Pine Grosbeaks, 6 Purple Finches and 17 Pine Siskins.

This Hairy Woodpecker is eating suet at a feeder on the Salo Road. Christmas bird counters reported 13 of these in the Copper Country on Dec. 20. According to Dana Richter, "These black and white birds are about six inches long; our other common black and white woodpecker, the Downy Woodpecker, is slightly smaller; for both species the male has a bright red cap." (Photo © 2008 Dana Richter. Reprinted with permission.)

The Copper Country Audubon again thanks the Wercinskis of Rabbit Bay, who annually warm cold birders each year with cider and goodies.

This Ruffed Grouse in the snow was captured by Michael Shupe's camera. Birders reported siting 16 of these during the 2008 Christmas Bird Count. (Photo © 2008 M.J.Shupe Photography. Reprinted with permission.)

Learn more about the Christmas Bird Count on the Audubon Web site. Results should be posted this month, January 2009.

Editor's Note: Nancy Auer, author of the text for this article, is the compiler for the Copper Country Christmas Bird Count and reports the data to the National Audubon Society.