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.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Conservation District Annual Tree Sale underway

HOUGHTON -- The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) is hosting its annual tree sale. The deadline for placing your order is Mar. 27. Pick-up times are 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 1, and 9 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, May 2, at the Houghton County Arena in Hancock. Extra stock will be sold at that time.

Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) Administrator Sue Haralson, right, is pictured here with tree sale volunteers Marsha Klein, retired HKCD board member, and Dick Crane, retired NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) chief inspector, at the 2008 HKCD Tree Sale pick up. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

A large variety of native trees and shrubs, area-hardy fruit trees, berry plants and new varieties of lilacs are offered at favorable rates.

"HKCD receives an annual Operations Grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture, which is under consideration for further budget cuts," said HKCD Administrator Sue Haralson. "Because of this, public support of this year's tree sale is especially crucial."

Order forms are available at the HKCD Office at 600 E. Lakeshore Drive, Suite 2, Houghton, online at, at the MSU Extension Service and the Keweenaw Co-op Natural Foods and Groceries in Hancock.

During the 2008 HKCD Tree Sale, Jim Sweeting, NRCS soil conservationist and former HKCD forester, chats with Sandra Palmore, HKCD Board member. In the background are HKCD Chairperson Gina Nicholas and her son, Nick Wilson. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

The tree sale is the District's biggest fundraiser. All proceeds go to conservation efforts and education in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

For more information about HKCD or the tree sale, call HKCD Administrator Sue Haralson at 482-0214.

Click here for the Tree Sale catalog.

Click here for the Order Form.

MTU to share funding for new biofuel research center

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University will receive more than $1.4 million in new funding from the US Department of Energy through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to establish a forest-based biofuel research center in Escanaba. The center will focus on research to help make cellulosic biofuels a commercial reality.

Click here for the full story by Jennifer Donovan.

Visit Youth Arts exhibit at Community Arts Center through Mar. 28

This quilt, on display in the Youth Arts Exhibit at the Community Arts Center in Hancock, is a group project. (Photos © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center is featuring artwork from area elementary, middle and high school students through March 28. This is an exhibit not to be missed! The Youth Gallery and the Kerredge Gallery are filled floor to ceiling with more than 200 works of youth art.

Elizabeth (Libby) Meyer,
Copper Country Suzuki Association program director and instructor, leads a performance by young musicians during the opening reception held on Saturday, March 7, for the March Youth Arts Month exhibit at the Community Arts Center in Hancock. (Video clip © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

March is a time where our young artists get to shine. It’s a time not only to celebrate youth art, but to appreciate the art teachers who work throughout the school year encouraging and inspiring their students. Through their guidance and support, these dedicated teachers help enrich the lives of our youth.

Zachery Saquette of Baraga proudly points out his work of art on display in the exhibit. A closer view of it is below.

More than 100 visitors attended the opening of the Youth Arts Exhibit on Saturday, Mar. 7. See our slide show of the exhibit and the opening, featuring photos by Gustavo Bourdieu, in the upper right corner of this page.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in 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 482-2333 for more information.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Soul Singer Jearlyn Steele to perform at Rozsa Mar. 18

Soul singer Jearlyn Steele. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center and WGGL Minnesota Public Radio proudly present a longtime favorite on A Prairie Home Companion, soul singer Jearlyn Steele, accompanied by her brother Billy on piano, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 18, at the Rozsa. Steele will perform a collection of classic tunes, from Etta James to Carole King, selected from her many appearances on MPR’s A Prairie Home Companion.

The performance is part of a six-city concert tour in Minnesota and Michigan through American Public Media’s Troubadour Program.

Jearlyn Steele is a provoking singer whose voice seeks to uplift, inspire and release the senses of the soul -- a true "soul" singer. She can often be heard as a special guest on A Prairie Home Companion, and she appeared in Robert Altman’s 2006 film of the same name. More than a decade ago, Jearlyn, along with her siblings, The Steeles, began a successful run of the pop/gospel musical Gospel at Colonus, which made its way to Carnegie Hall. She has sung in countless venues, including the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and the Guthrie Theater. A mother of two, Jearlyn has branched out to become more involved in creating ways to affect women and children’s lives in a positive way through music and public speaking.

Kids (18 and under) are admitted free of charge with any paid adult ticket!

Ticket price for the general public is $15; MTU student (MTU student ID required) and MPR member price is $10. 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 No refunds, exchanges, or late seating, please.

To learn more about Jearlyn or the Steele family, visit their Web site.

Updated: Free events to be held at Calumet Public Library Mar. 11, 26

CALUMET -- Two events are scheduled for the Calumet Public Library this month:

Update: 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m., Changed to Thursday, Mar. 12 -- "Talking Tiles" by Ed Gray (hands-on, working with clay tiles; materials provided) will take place in the balcony of the Calumet High School gym. Learn how to carve and texture claytiles into a coaster, trivet or decorative hanging. Learn new techniques and skills in the company of friends. Five inch square tiles and all supplies will be provided free of charge. Participants must bring ideas to create their talking tiles!

6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m., Thursday, Mar. 26th -- "Knit One Purl Jam" (hands-on for beginners to masters; materials provided) will be in the Calumet Public Library.

Both events are sponsored by the Friends of the Calumet Public Library and are open to the public, free of charge.

For more information about programs at the Calumet Public Library or about the Friends of the Library, please call the Calumet Public Library at 906.337.0311 ext 1113 or contact the Friends at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Citizens' group opposes DNR lease to Rio Tinto/Kennecott for mining on public land

By Gabriel Caplett

Eagle Rock, located on public land recently leased to Rio Tinto/Kennecott for its proposed sulfide mine, is a culturally significant site considered sacred by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. (Keweenaw Now file photo © Sue Ellen Kingsley)**

MARQUETTE -- The Ingham County Circuit Court has given the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the go-ahead to issue a surface use lease to Rio Tinto/Kennecott for its proposed Eagle Project mine on the Yellow Dog Plains near Marquette. The proposed lease allows the private, foreign-owned company to fence off 120-acres of public land for over 40 years. The proposed lease area contains the entirety of Eagle Rock, considered a culturally-significant and sacred location to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

While not surprised at the go-ahead, Yellow Dog Summer, a local citizens' group organized to protect the Great Lakes from metallic sulfide mining pollution, opposes this political decision.*

"Whether you’re for the mine project or for protecting the water and public lands, you would have to have been living under a rock for the past five years if you expected the State of Michigan to deny Rio Tinto a permit for its mining plans," said Marquette County resident and Yellow Dog Summer member, Teresa Bertossi.

At the annual meeting of the Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) in October 2008 in Baraga, Teresa Bertossi, Yellow Dog Summer member and public outreach coordinator for Save the Wild UP (SWUP), gives an overview of the potential threat to the Lake Superior watershed posed by Kennecott-Rio Tinto's proposed sulfide mine near Marquette. (Keweenaw Now file photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

"We’ve guessed, for years, that the state would bend over backwards for anything the company wants to do. A go-ahead for the state to give Rio Tinto the public’s land is widely expected. For the majority of citizens not involved in the legal charade, this should be seen as only a minor setback for efforts to protect the water, hunting and recreational land and public health," Bertossi added.

According to Bertossi, the DNR decision indicates the State of Michigan's confidence in a company that had to sell key assets to China and recently defer the Eagle Project (despite continuing their efforts to obtain permits) because of public opposition, legal delays and metal prices.

"One of Rio Tinto’s largest shareholders, Norway, divested nearly a billion dollars in shares, calling the company 'grossly unethical,'" Bertossi noted. "That Michigan seems to think that this morally bankrupt and debt-laden company can somehow be a good partner and a responsible neighbor comes across as a little naïve and very irresponsible."

Bertossi pointed out that last year DNR director Rebecca Humphries said the surface use lease decision was one she "did not take lightly" and cautioned that "time and history will judge us."

Added Bertossi, "I cannot agree more that, if Rio Tinto can overcome public opposition and major design flaws to open its mine, this is a decision that will haunt citizens of the Great Lakes basin with a legacy of toxic heavy metals, damage to Lake Superior and a steady degradation of the quality of our public lands."

Yellow Dog Summer has been tracking funding and enforcement problems at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In January, the Governor announced that the DEQ would have to relinquish wetland authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), due to a lack of adequate enforcement. Area citizens concerned with a lack of wetland oversight at the proposed Eagle Project mine had previously expressed concerns to the EPA regarding the DEQ’s unwillingness to comply with wetland and Clean Water Act laws.

Recently, the DEQ’s spokesman, Robert McCann said that the agency is ill-equipped to enforce laws protecting water quality in the state: "You can put all the laws on the books you want to, but if you don’t have the resources to properly enforce them, you cannot meet your obligations."

In September 2008, DEQ Director Steven Chester said, "We simply don't have the kind of funding we need to adequately implement the laws we're required to implement."

Bertossi commented, "A state that doesn’t have the will or the ability to implement the very laws it is mandated to enforce should reconsider permitting a toxic metallic sulfide mining complex within the Great Lakes. If the State won’t protect the water and the land for the people, the people will ultimately protect it for themselves."

Editor's Notes:
* Yellow Dog Summer is intended to rally citizens from the Great Lakes Region and, specifically, communities along Lake Superior to stop Kennecott’s Eagle Project on the Yellow Dog Plains. The group will also do what it can to assist citizen movements opposing metallic sulfide mining in other parts of the UP, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Read about their Protect-the-Earth Summit held last summer, August 2008.

** Read more about Eagle Rock.

Guest writer Gabriel Caplett is a Marquette-County-based freelance writer. This article is a press release from Yellow Dog Summer.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Updated: Mama Yeye: Photos, video memories of her visit

HANCOCK -- Today, March 8, is International Women's Day 2009. In honor of women all over the world who seek to make the earth a better place, Keweenaw Now would like to celebrate the recent visit of Mama Yeye -- dancer, choreographer, playwright and teacher -- who danced with us and shared her love of African rhythms, spirituality and storytelling through her presentations and workshops.

Align CenterDuring a workshop on Afro-Caribbean dance at Michigan Tech on March 3, Mama Yeye explains the West African Djun Djun drum with its Agogo bell. Musician Ashok Agarrwal, right, of Calumet, played this drum during the workshop, held in the McArdle Theatre on the MTU campus. At left is workshop participant Liz Johnson of Copper Harbor. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Mama Yeye leads workshop participants in an Afro-Caribbean dance. Joining Ashok Agarrwal in the percussion group are musicians Matt Bradley of Calumet on the West African Djembe and Lucas Lago of Argentina on Conga drums. Dancers in this video include Nancy Sprague, foreground, and Patricia Helsel, background. (Video clips © 2009 Michele Bourdieu)

Mama Yeye demonstrates a homemade African percussion instrument, the Sekere (shay-ka-ray), made from a gourd or calabash. Pictured here are workshop participants, from left, Liz Johnson, Len Novak and Nancy Sprague. (Photo © 2009 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Playing the Sekere, Mama Yeye joins the percussionists as workshop participants do a final dance, with a bow of homage to the musicians.

Mama Yeye gives instruction in African Dance Wednesday, Mar. 4, in MTU's McArdle Theatre. (Photo © 2009 Patricia Helsel)

Mama Yeye, right, leads participants in energetic African dance movements. (Photo © 2009 Patricia Helsel)

Read more about Mama Yeye's visit to Michigan Tech in the March 5 issue of Tech Today.

Thanks again, Mama Yeye! Thanks also to MTU's Visiting Women and Minority Scholar Series, Institutional Diversity and Visual and Performing Arts for sponsoring Mama Yeye's visit.

To learn about International Women's Day, visit their Web site.