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.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Merle Kindred to speak on energy-efficient house in India July 12

HOUGHTON -- Merle Kindred will give a presentation on her energy-efficient house in Kerala, India, from10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 12, at the monthly Forum of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowhip (KUUF) in Houghton.*

Kindred has commissioned and documented the building of this house for the past year and a half.

The cornerstone of the house in Kerala, India, is laid on Dec. 26, 2007. (Photo © 2007 and courtesy Merle Kindred)

"I'm planning to continue spending part of my time in North America and part back in India continuing my consultancy and communications outreach relating to energy use in the residential built environment," Kindred says. "Addressing energy use issues is the core of both our progress in this age of technology and many of the environmental problems we face in this fragile biosphere."

See our July 28, 2008, article, with Kindred's photos of the early stage of construction of this house.

Merle Kindred, Ph.D., Keweenaw Now guest columnist, has family roots in the Copper Country that date back to great grandparents who settled in Atlantic Mine in 1900, but left for Saskatchewan in 1912. Merle was born in Toronto, Ontario, and raised in Warren, Michigan. She has served as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer in the U.S. Virgin Islands and as a CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) Volunteer in Jamaica. Merle also trained teachers for six years in the Bahamas. She has been active locally in Habitat for Humanity and earned a Ph.D. in the Department of Humanities at Michigan Tech University.

* Use the side entrance of the BHK building.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Videos: 2009 Pirates of Keweenaw Cardboard Boat Races

HOUGHTON -- Here are some video clips of the Pirates of the Keweenaw cardboard boat races held on Father's Day, June 21, 2009, at the Houghton Waterfront. See also our slide show (right-hand column) with captions for details of the races.

In the first heat the "Smart Zone ?" challenges the Champion City of Hancock's "Re-Loaded" boat. (Video clips by Keweenaw Now)

After a battle with water pistols and bio-degradable water balloons, the "Flying Dutchman" and its rival, "The Brits," (?) both succomb to a dramatic sinking in the first heat, winning them second and third place, respectively, for the "Best Sinking" award. The Flying Dutchman also won first place for "Best Decorated."

In the second heat, traditional rivals Hancock and Houghton head for the finish line. This video clip shows the winner. Houghton tied with the Smart Zone for the "Most People on Boat" award (9), while Hancock had 8 crew members, according to announcer Bob Mark.

In the third, championship heat it's Elo Wittig ("David") in his "Tennessee Stud" against Hancock's "Re-Loaded" ("Goliath") for a dramatic finish.

Is this Goliath's hurt pride? Hancock requests an extra heat against the three other big boats? A few paddlers go overboard as Hancock and Houghton collide at sea and head for the finish from opposite directions...

For more views and details of the Pirates of the Keweenaw Cardboard Boat Races click on our slide show at the top of the right-hand column.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Stephanie Trevino's photos on exhibit at Calumet's 5th and Elm Coffee House

CALUMET -- "Go Out into the World," by Stephanie Trevino, is an exhibit of 105 snapshots taken over the course of a year and arranged into intuitive, dreamlike sequences. The photographs are on display for the months of July and August at the 5th and Elm Coffee House in Calumet.

These photos are part of the exhibit "Go Out into the World," by Stephanie Trevino, on display at the Fifth and Elm Coffee House in Calumet through July and August. (Photo © 2009 and courtesy Stephanie Trevino)

"Everything about this was fun: making the photos, editing them, and reimagining their contexts through display," Trevino writes on her Web site. "Even the venue is fun. I hope that others get as much enjoyment out of engaging with the images as I got out of making them."

Updated: Deborah Frontiera to sign books on Copper Country history

LAKE LINDEN -- Deborah K. Frontiera, author and speaker, will have several book signings for her latest publications: Living on Sisu: The 1913 Union Copper Strike Tragedy, a book of historical fiction for children (mainly grades four through eight), complete with historical photographs, and Copper Country Chronicler: The Best of J. W. Nara, a book of historical photographs for adults, suitable as a gift/coffee-table book.

At her book signing during the Keweenaw Heritage Center ethnic music celebration on July 6, 2009, Deborah Frontiera, right, author and speaker, chats about doing research for her new books with Barbara Koski of Oskar. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The dates and locations of Frontiera's book signings are as follows:

July 10 and 11: Strawberry Festival in Chassell (all hours the craft booths are open);
July 18, noon to 3 p.m.: Country Village Book Store, Ishpeming;
July 23, 10 a.m. -11 a. m.: North Wind Books, Hancock -- program centered on her children's picture books (the Eric and the Enchanted Leaf series);
July 24, Blueberry Festival, downtown Marquette;
Update: July 25, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Conglomerate Café in Calumet
Update: July 26 , 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Minnetonka gift shop in Copper Harbor.
Aug. 1, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.: Einerlei, Chassell.

Frontiera, now living in Texas, is originally from Lake Linden, where she spends summers. For more information about Frontiera and her books, visit her Web site.

Strawberry Festival in Chassell offers food, fun for all July 10-11

CHASSELL -- The Copper Country Strawberry Festival in Chassell Friday and Saturday, July 11-12, offers food, events and fun for the whole family.

Strawberry Shortcake, Brats, Hot Dogs, Ice Cream, etc., will be served from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Enjoy free horse-drawn wagon rides from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and from Noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Other highlights both days include exhibits and sales of arts and crafts, a Quilt Show at Holy Trinity Church and Open House at the Chassell Heritage Center.

Friday will also feature a Children's Parade, Adult/Youth Citizen of the Year Awards, Strawberry Auction, Queen Crowning and a Dance -- with music by Cheap Therapy -- at the Chassell VFW Post.

On Saturday don't miss the Parade at 11 a.m. followed by BBQ Chicken by the Fire Department and First Responders, live music, the Friends of Fashion Vintage Fashion Show and free 45-minute Scientific Excursions aboard research vessel Agassiz (see article).

See details and the complete schedule on the Einerlei Web site.

Note: The Einerlei in Chassell is taking entries for the annual Einerlei Pet Photo Contest for the entire month of July. Pick up entry forms at the store or go to their website. All proceeds benefit the Copper Country Humane Society.

Agassiz research vessel to offer free scientific excursions during Strawberry Fest July 11

HOUGHTON -- How do we know if Lake Superior is healthy? The public is invited to sign up for FREE 45-minute scientific excursions aboard Michigan Tech's research vessel Agassiz from 1 p.m. -4 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, at the Chassell Strawberry Festival.

The Agassiz, a Michigan Tech research vessel, docked in Chassell at a previous Strawberry Festival scientific excursion event. (File photos by Keweenaw Now)

A Great Lakes scientist will demonstrate the use of sampling equipment to collect plankton, sediment and other water quality data. Microscopes will be on board so participants can view the organisms. Participants will investigate the connection between land uses and the health of the Great Lakes.

A young passenger on the Agassiz observes specimens from Portage Lake during a previous Strawberry Festival excursion.

Scientific excursions are scheduled to depart from the Chassell marina dock at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eighteen persons may participate on each excursion (must be 7 years of age or older). Life jackets are available for all passengers. Displays and educational materials will be available for public viewing onshore.

"Residents and visitors are encouraged to learn how scientists study the Great Lakes and what factors contribute to a healthy lake," explains Joan Chadde, program coordinator. "These scientific excursions have been offered for the past three summers and have been extremely well attended. Youth and adults enjoy the opportunity to interact with Great Lakes scientists and ask questions."

The event is coordinated by the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education with funding from the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Management Program, Chassell Lions Club, the Wege Foundation, Michigan Tech Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry and the MTU Remote Sensing Institute.

For more information contact Joan Chadde, Education Program coordinator, at

Visit to learn about the MAEOE annual conference on Urban Environmental Education Oct. 8-10, 2009, at University of Michigan Dearborn.

The Western U.P. Center is a partnership of Copper Country and Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School Districts and Michigan Technological University, serving 19 school districts and the communities in Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Keweenaw Counties. Center programs reach more than 10,000 students, teachers and community members in the Upper Great Lakes region annually. Find out more at:

Portage Library offers more summer programs

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library continues to offer summer programs for all ages and interests.

If you’ve ever wondered how to ride a unicycle, Jason Cattelino, Bob Evans, and Ben Bachran will demonstrate riding techniques outside the library’s main door at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, July 9. Afterwards, follow them into the community room at 7 p.m. for the "Jason, Bob, and Ben Juggling Show," where participants will be involved in an interactive comedy juggling performance. Children will play juggling games with the trio and watch as they toss balls, bean bags, rings, clubs and bowling balls into the air.

At 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, the 1930 Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers will be shown in the community room. Considered an absolute classic, it is filled with mayhem and zaniness when a valuable painting goes missing during a party in honor of a famous African explorer. Ariel Lake will open the show with "A Harpo," a short vaudeville act celebrating the humor and antics of Harpo Marx. This program is suitable for children and adults, and popcorn will be served.

Master Gardener and Michigan Technological University Head Gardener Lynn Watson will present "Problem Solvers for Your Summer Garden" at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, in the community room.

"Unhappy leaves tell a story," Watson explained. She will discuss weeds, insects, furry pests, disease, fungus and bacteria that may be harming your vegetable and flower gardens and suggest ways to control the problems. Watson will also discuss when and how to water and explain why fertilizing now, not later, will give gardeners more bloom and produce for their efforts.

Participants will have time to ask questions and handouts will be available.

Isle Royale National Park Interpretive Ranger Jordan Kibat will offer a special "Wetland Friends" Storytime at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, July 16. Children will listen to stories about animals that live in wetlands, watch a short slide show about wetland animals and place wetland animals on the Isle Royale map. They will also watch a short slide show about amphibians and play an amphibian trivia game.

Maria Sliva and the Houghton High School Key Club continue to offer Storytime every Monday and on alternating Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – Noon. All children are welcome to listen to stories and do a project afterwards.

Everyone is invited to attend library programs and presentations are free. For more information please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

NISGUA July 15 deadline approaches for chance on big prizes

HANCOCK -- The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) will hold a drawing on Wednesday, July 15, and give away some fabulous prizes to supporters of human rights and justice in Guatemala.

A $25 ticket offers you a chance to win one of the following:

One GrandPrize: One round trip airline ticket to Guatemala. The grandprize winner will also receive a free week of language school at La Minerva Intensive Spanish School in Xela, Guatemala. Language school includes a homestay with a Guatemalan family, a private bedroom, three meals a day, five hours of private Spanish lessons, daily cultural activities and all materials.*

If the winner prefers not to travel to Guatemala he or she can choose a destination in the continental United States. The Winner must contact NISGUA at least six weeks before desired dates of travel. Travel restrictions will apply.

One First Prize: A week at the beautiful Painted Lady, a rental property in the heart of Colorado ski country, an hour north of Durango, nestled in the stunning San Juan Mountains.**

One SecondPrize: This Winner will receive $300.

Two Third Prizes: Each Third Prize Winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from Heart of the Sky Fair Trade. Winners can choose $100 of merchandise from

One FourthPrize: A matted woodcut print from artist Marilyn Anderson. Examples of the artist's work can be viewed at

One Fifth Prize: A grab bag of fair trade textiles and gifts from Upavim (Unidas Para Vivir Mejor)*** and Mayan Hands.***

Runner Up Prizes: Fair Trade Coffee: Six 12 oz. bags of coffee from Just Coffee in Madison, Wis.****

If you haven't yet bought your tickets, there's still time. The best way to get your tickets is to go to:

The next best way is to email Sue Ellen Kingsley, NISGUA member and executive director of the Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP), at or call her at 906- 482-6827 and tell her how many tickets you want. She will send the tickets in immediately and send you an addressed envelope for you to send a check to NISGUA.

The drawing is on July 15 so NISGUA has to have the ticket by July 15. The online deadline is also July 15.

The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) links people in the U.S. with the Guatemalan people and their struggles for justice, human rights, environmental protection and dignity. Formed at the height of Guatemala's war in 1981, NISGUA's network today is comprised of thousands of people across the U.S. who demand justice for genocidal crimes of the past, push to change current U.S. policies, challenge corporate-led development in Guatemala and advocate for grassroots alternatives.

* To learn about La Minerva Intensive Spanish School, visit their Web site at .

** Visit the Painted Lady Web site for more information:

*** See and

**** Visit

Kate Alvord to offer "Journaling for Perfect Weight and Wellness" July 6 in Hancock

HANCOCK -- Kate Alvord of North Coast Holistics will be leading a class in "Journaling for Perfect Weight and Wellness" at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, July 8, in Room 324 at the Jutila Center in Hancock (the old hospital, 200 Michigan Street).

The one-hour class will survey various ways that journal writing can be used to support health, wellness and weight management. It will include writing exercises and practice in expressive writing -- a method with demonstrated ability to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and improve other measures of physical health. Bring a notebook or journal if you wish; paper and pens will be available for those who need them. The class is $10 at the door.

Read more in Kate's own journal on the North Coast Holistics Web site.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dentdelion, French Canadian band, to offer workshops, dance July 8 in Chassell

CHASSELL -- Dentdelion, a five-piece French-Canadian family band, will offer fiddle workshops at the Chassell Heritage Center and a concert and dance at the Chassell Centennial Park Pavilion on Wednesday, July 8.

Dentdelion, a French-Canadian family band, will offer workshops and a concert and dance in Chassell Wednesday, July 8. (Photo courtesy Dentdelion)

As a trio, Dentdelion has brought a fresh sound to audiences in Québec, festivals in maritime Canada and most recently to concert stages in France and Spain. In addition, Dentdelion welcomes the next generation to the stage in the form of 15-year-old Colin Savoie-Levac on banjo, mandolin, feet and vocals and 13-year-old Béatrix Méthé on fiddle and vocals. The latter are themselves veteran performers, having performed since they were knee-high to a grasshopper on stages in Québec, Scotland, Canada and the U.S.

Here is the schedule for Wednesday, July 8:

6 p.m. - 7 p.m. -- FIDDLE WORKSHOP -- $10 (No need to pre-register). Chassell Heritage Center , 2nd Street and Hancock Ave.

· Adult workshop by Claude Méthé

· Student workshop by Béatrix Méthé

8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. -- CONCERT and DANCE -- Free -- Donations appreciated. Chassell Centennial Park Pavilion, 3rd Street.

Refreshments provided for purchase in the park by Baxter’s Heavenly Hot Dogs.

For more information, contact Dave Bezotte at 482-4956 or

Special thanks to the Chassell Lions Club, the Chassell Historical Organization and the Sigma Rho Fraternity for making this event possible. Kick off the Strawberry Festival with a taste of JOIE DE VIVRE!

Finland's health care, new bills in Congress, residents' views explored at local Health Care Forum

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- Finlandia University faculty members who recently observed Finland's health care system say it offers a model the U.S. could do well to imitate.

Barbara McLean, Finlandia visiting assistant professor of psychology, and Debbie Karstu, Finlandia nursing professor and nurse practitioner, described their impressions of Finnish health care at a recent Health Care Forum, "Finding Solutions to the Health Care Crisis," at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) in Houghton.

State Rep. Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) addresses panel members, residents and visitors at the June 13 Health Care Forum held at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Houghton. Finlandia University faculty members Debbie Karstu, second from right at front table, and Barbara McLean, third from right, spoke about the Finnish health care system. On the wall are a map of Finland and photos they brought from Finland representing the Finnish philosophy that health care is for all people. Click on photo for larger version. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

"It was so wonderful to see what they're doing there," McLean said. "First of all their costs are lower, much lower."

She mentioned Finland's low infant mortality rate -- one of the lowest in the world -- and the fact that health care begins "before the womb" and the excellent maternity care includes after-care and support for families.

"They did not put their programs on a pedestal," McLean noted. "They have problems and they have challenges."*

However, she added, she was impressed by many aspects of the system.

The two professors accompanied a group of Finlandia nursing students on a three-week trip to Finland this spring. The trip included visits to health systems, education systems, elder care, playschool and university systems.

Finnish philosophy: Everyone deserves health care

McLean and Karstu both emphasized the basic philosophy in Finland -- that every person has a right to be treated as human and, regardless of his or her choices in life, is deserving of health care.

McLean gave an example of how people with schizophrenia were released under supervision and cared for in Finland so that they would not become homeless.

"It was so impressive," said McLean. "I would encourage you to find out more about Finland's health care system so we can join this century."**

Karstu, who organized this trip as well as previous trips to Finland for Finlandia students and faculty, also works in the local community as a nurse practitioner in family planning at the Health Department and helps at the Aspirus clinic at Shopko.

"I would like to be an advocate for a basic level of health care for all people -- not just if you're working and pay for your health insurance, but just because you're a human living in a civilized society in America," Karstu said. "I think we have somehow a humane, ethical responsibility to take care of the people in our society."

Karstu noted the health care provided in Finnish schools is a good example of prevention and wellness. She said she would like to see more benefits in the U.S. for living a healthy life style.

Dr. Fredi de Yampert, president, League of Women Voters of the Copper Country and chair of Finlandia University's nursing program, also spoke at the Forum.

Dr. Fredi de Yampert -- president, League of Women Voters of the Copper Country, and chair of Finlandia University's nursing program -- is pictured, third from left, with other panel members, from left, Dr. Richard Imm, president, Western UP Healthcare Access Coalition, Rev. Robert White, United Methodist Church Keweenaw Parish, and Finlandia University faculty members Barbara McLean and Debbie Karstu. They listen to a presentation by Sarida Ross (standing), United Auto Workers Region 1 Representative for Child Care Providers Together, Michigan. At far right is KUUF Pastor, Rev. Sydney Morris, and, in foreground, State Rep. Mike Lahti, taking notes.

Dr. de Yampert said the League of Women Voters' position on health care -- a national plan of affordable, quality health care for all Americans -- was publicized in 1993 -- 15 years ago.

Nursing, she said, can help by bringing in the nurse practitioners and physician's assistants, who are more cost-effective than physicians. Nurses in the schools will also save having to take children out of school to go to the doctor.

Dr. de Yampert noted education of a new generation of nurses requires funding for nursing faculty.

"It's not just nursing where we have a shortage; it's across the health care spectrum," she said.

"Advocating for funding for education in health-care disciplines is critical."

Along with de Yampert, McLean and Karstu, the panel of Upper Peninsula speakers included Dr. Richard Imm, president, Western UP Healthcare Access Coalition, and Rev. Robert White, United Methodist Church Keweenaw Parish.

Dr. Imm described his earlier rural practice as a family practitioner in the 1970s, when medicine was simpler, with fewer tests and x-rays and the cost of care was quite inexpensive compared to today's costs. After that he worked in the Air Force for over 20 years (in a large HMO) and earned a regular salary. More recently he returned to family practice in Houghton.

"It's a mess," he said. "Things are very expensive. There are maybe 100 lab tests I could order instead of 5 or 10 of 30 years ago, etc."

Imm said he works for the Western Upper Peninsula Access Coalition, which coordinates donated care from physicians in the area for uninsurable people under 200 percent of poverty level.

Imm gave these statistics:
  • Over 50 percent of doctors are now in favor of universal health care.
  • Over 50 percent of U.S. bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills.
  • The top-paid health insurance company CEO was paid $24 million for 2008.
"Just about every medical journal I get now has at least one health care reform article -- and maybe two or three," Imm said.

Rev. White first asked the audience to have a moment of silence for those who died as a result of having no health care (650 in one year in Michigan alone).

White called attention to the fact that many U.S. hospitals were started by faith-based communities.

"One of the primary things right now that a lot of our churches are stressing is the individual responsibility we all have in our own health care," he said. "The faith community would like to see access in health care available to all, as some of these (congressional) bills are pointing out."

State, federal legislators represented at Forum

The 60 or more local residents who attended the Forum were evidence that health care reform is an issue people care enough about to communicate directly with their state and federal government representatives.***

"It was really heartening to see so many people come out to address this desperate need for health care in our country," said KUUF Pastor Sydney Morris.

Present at the forum to listen to constituents' concerns were State Representative Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) and representatives of other key legislators: Amy Wisti for Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee), Sherri Davies for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Paul Tesanovich for Michigan Sen. Mike Prusi (D-Ishpeming).

Paul Tesanovich, former Michigan legislator, speaks on behalf of State Sen. Mike Prusi(D-Ishpeming), who was unable to attend.

Davies spoke about Sen. Stabenow's People's Health Care Lobby on her Web site which allows constituents to share their personal stories with her so she can share them with other legislators.****

Wisti and Tesanovich said they were interested in hearing people's comments and would convey them to Congressman Stupak and State Senator Prusi, who were unable to attend because of other commitments.

Guests at the Forum, from the Detroit area, included Sarida Ross, United Auto Workers Region 1 Representative for Child Care Providers Together, Michigan; Randy Block, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN); and Valerie Przywara, Michigan Universal Health Care Action Network (MichUHCAN).

Ross said her new union was for home-based child care providers in Michigan. Close to 87 percent of the approximately 40,000 home-based child providers in the state of Michigan are without health care, she noted. There are about 400-500 of these providers in the U.P.

Rev. Sydney Morris, KUUF pastor, introduces guest speaker Sarida Ross of Detroit, second from left, United Auto Workers Region 1 Representative for Child Care Providers Together, Michigan.

"The average pay for a child care provider is $1.80 an hour," Ross noted, "and we're advocating with the representatives not only for health care but for a higher living wage."

She also mentioned the following statistics:
  • Presently over 75 million Americans are without health care.
  • More than 900,000 Mich. residents were without health care in 2008.
  • Michigan is 13th in the nation for residents without health care.
  • In 2007 Michigan had 984 infant deaths -- 83 percent could have been avoided if those children had had some kind of health care.
  • 80 asthma-related deaths among uninsured Michigan children between 2 and 17 could have been prevented.
A high percentage of Michigan's population is at or below poverty level and not receiving preventive health care, Ross added, showing a strong need for national health care.

Ross said her purpose in attending the forum was to challenge Michigan residents to speak to legislators (both national and local) and community members to impress upon them the urgency for national health care.

Michigan health reform bills now being proposed

Block and Przywara took up this same challenge, pointed out the need to become familiar with the bills for health reform now being proposed in the Michigan House and Senate. In their Power Point presentation titled "Michigan Health Reform Legislation; National Health Care for All Principles," they summarized key points in two Michigan House and Senate health reform bill packages. These are House Bills 4934-4943, introduced in 2009 by Rep. Marc Corriveau (D) Northville, and Senate Bills 579-582, introduced in 2009 by Sen. Tom George (R) Kalamazoo. According to the presenters, both legislative packages provide greater access to health care; make health care more affordable for Michigan residents; and hold insurers accountable for certain consumer protections, rate setting practices and subsidizing the costs of coverage.

State Rep. Mike Lahti commented that this plan would require every insurance company -- not just Blue Cross / Blue Shield (the insurance company of "last resort") -- to make insurance accessible to all.

"The more you have insurance companies that have to insure everybody" Lahti explained, "competition should drive costs down."

Przywara, speaking for MichUHCAN, which is part of a broad coalition working for health care reform, said the coalition is looking for outcomes based on principles.

"We want to see comprehensive quality health care for everyone," Przywara said. "We want health care that's affordable."

Przywara added other principles include patient provider choice, public accountability for coverage of services, equal access to all and mental health parity.

Block discussed national health reform principles and the fact that it's quite possible that a national health plan could be referred to the states to carry it out.

"The state could very well be forward-thinking by trying to tap into these new federal dollars to bring more health care to people in Michigan," Block said.

One important principle on the national level, he noted, is that government should act as a watchdog, setting and enforcing rules so private insurance companies can't deny coverage or raise rates based on health history, age or gender. Health care also needs to be comprehensive (not just catastrophic coverage) and accessible to all, without discrimination against minority or low-income groups.

"The Obama approach to health care," Block said, "is to give a choice."

If you have your own private insurance policy that you're comfortable with, you can keep it or you can join a new public insurance plan -- which would be a backup to ensure quality, affordable health care coverage for anyone, Block explained.*****

Block and Przywara urged the audience to become informed about emerging health care bills and to call members of Congress and express their opinions.

Some residents call for single-payer system

Panel members and guests took several questions from the audience.

Visiting presenter Randy Block, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN), standing, left, and State Rep. Mike Lahti comment during the question - answer session of the Health Forum.

"Can we afford health care for all?" was one of the questions.

"I think we can," Mike Lahti replied to this question. "It's up to us," he added. "I think this is a critical year, and we have to keep on it."

Karstu said it's not a question of "Can we afford to do it" but "We can't afford not to do it."

To a question on whether health professionals should be salaried to save on costs, Dr. Imm mentioned the Mayo Clinic system where doctors are salaried and charges are very low.

"They're not worried about the income; they're worried about the medical care," Imm explained.

White asked whether it would be more effective to try to get health care done on a national or on a state level.

Lahti answered that it's happening on both levels.

"It's not either or," he said.

Tesanovich, a former Michigan legislator, pointed out the importance of bipartisanship and letting legislators know what you want.

Dr. de Yampert noted educational outreach programs such as those available locally for diabetes are one way for people to take responsibility for health.

Oren Tikkanen of Calumet noted his disappointment at the fact that President Obama "accepts the idea that a single-payer program is politically impossible in the United States."

Tikkanen said he believes the health care costs in this country are brought about by the insurance companies, who lobby Congress so they can keep their very lucrative positions, while governments in Finland and many other countries "step in and cut costs by providing things on a rational basis."

Peter Ekstrom of Houghton said he agreed with Tikkanen on the single-payer system and questioned "why we have to think so small." Ekstrom said he believes Obama is being practical.

"He wants to get the best that he can at this time," Ekstrom noted. "I'd like to know why we as a country find this a difficult idea to wrap our minds around, whereas a very large number of people in the world see this as a logical choice."

Barry Pegg of Houghton also said he agreed with Tikkanen on the need for a single-payer system.

"I also think a lot of politicians are waiting to see if there's enough support for a single payer," Pegg said.

Carol Kurz of Calumet noted present CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Programs) differ from state to state and are not as effective as the home and school visits by nurses that began during the Depression and still existed in the 1950s -- to keep children healthy.

Joanne Thomas of Ahmeek said she learned, when she was sick, to advocate for herself in asking for a discount since she is without health insurance.

"I asked if I could get the same discount as insurance companies get," Thomas said.

Thomas said in talking to the billing person at the hospital she not only received a discount but pointed out what she believed was an unnecessary double charge and had it removed from her bill.

Editor's Notes:

Keweenaw Now emailed one of our Finnish readers, Annukka Vepsäläinen of Turku, with a question on her satisfaction with the health care system and received this reply: "I'm quite satisfied with our health care system, but it used to be much better. It has been downsized since the depression in the early 90s. Yes, it's paid by our taxes. People trust and count on our system. Often you have to wait for quite some time, though, if you go to a public doctor; but a private doctor you can see much quicker, of course, if you are willing to pay (much) more money. The system in many other European countries is better than in Finland nowadays even though we tend to be very proud of our system and not aware of the former fact."

** See the article, "Health Care Systems in Transition: Finland," published in 1996 by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Copenhagen. Here's an excerpt from the article: "Everyone in Finland has the right to health services regardless of ability to pay or place of residence.

"The 1972 Primary Health Care Act obliges Municipalities to provide health counselling, medical care, rehabilitation (when it is not provided by the National State Sickness Insurance) and dental care for children and young adults. It also obliges Municipalities to provide school, student and occupational health care, screening (cervical and breast screening), mental health care appropriate to a health centre and patient transportation. The statutory services are to be provided in health centres: either the Municipality's own, or together with other Municipalities. They can also buy these obligatory services from the private sector.

"The health care system in Finland is mainly tax-financed. Both the state and the Municipalities have the right to levy taxes. In 1994 about 33% of total health care costs were financed by the Municipal income tax, about 29% by the state, 13% by the compulsory National State Sickness Insurance (N.S.S.I.) and about 25% by private sources. About two-thirds of total health care expenditure is spent on health services provided by Municipalities. Most of the remaining one third is spent on medicines and other pharmaceutical products, private health care, medical aids and prosthesis and occupational health care. This third is largely financed from the N.S.S.I., outof-pocket payments and employers."

According to, July 7 and 8 are National Call-In Days for health care. You can call 866-210-3678 and ask to speak to your Representatives.
See for details.

Visit Sen. Stabenow's Health Care Reform Resource Center to learn more.

***** President Obama explained this policy last week during a virtual Town Hall Meeting in Virginia, saying, "There's no doubt that we have to preserve what's best in the health care system, and that means allowing Americans who like their doctor and their health care plan to keep their plan. And that's going to be a priority for us. (Applause.) But we also have to fix what's broken about the system, and that means permanently bringing down costs and giving more choice for everyone." You can read the transcript of this event held on July 1 at Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, VA, on the White House Web site. The Video is also available.

This is the first in a series of articles on health care reform. Please send us your comments or let us know if you want to contribute an article or letter to the editor. Email us at

Pine Mountain Festival to present zany opera July 8, 10, 12

Stars of the 2009 Pine Mountain Music Festival Opera, The Secret Marriage. (Photo courtesy Pine Mountain Music Festival)

HANCOCK -- Opera returns to the Upper Peninsula with Pine Mountain Music Festival’s production of The Secret Marriage by Domenico Cimarosa. It will appear on Wednesday, July 8, at Norway-Vulcan Fine Arts Center in Norway; on Friday, July 10, at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette; and on Sunday, July 12, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in Houghton.

The Houghton show is at 3 p.m., and the others at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 (students and children $10) and are available from the Rozsa Center box office, tel. 906-487-3200 or 1-877-746-3999. A pre-opera talk, free to ticket holders, starts one hour before curtain time.

The Secret Marriage is a highly entertaining farce about the consequences of keeping secrets and the zany actions of mismatched couples. Although it was composed at the time of Mozart, this production is set in the 1960s and will be totally understandable and contemporary.

The featured singers will be the Festival’s six Resident Opera Artists, young professionals selected through nationwide auditions from a pool of over 400 applicants. An orchestra of 18 will play, and there will be English surtitles projected on a screen above the stage.

"This production is going to sparkle and will be a lot of fun for the audience. It’s a great one for people not familiar with the world of opera," says Joshua Major, artistic director of Pine Mountain Music Festival. "It’s a real romp and is produced with the same high quality that the Festival is noted for."

The Festival’s theme this year is "Anything Goes," which highlights the fact that audience members do not need to know the story or dress up to enjoy the opera.

"Just come, sit back, and let it wash over you," says Peter Van Pelt, executive director of the Festival. "You’ll wonder why you didn’t discover opera sooner."

The Pine Mountain Music Festival presents a season of opera, classical and jazz music each June-July in the Dickinson County area, the Marquette area, the Keweenaw Peninsula and other smaller towns in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. Headquartered in Hancock, Michigan, it is supported by donations, ticket sales and grants. Visit the web at, or call 1-877-746-3999 for tickets or 888-309-7861 for more information.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Keweenaw NHP to hold public meeting on Union Building exhibit design July 8

CALUMET -- Keweenaw National Historical Park (Keweenaw NHP) and the Office of Krister Olmon, Inc., will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, to present the status of the exhibit design for the historic Union Building in Calumet. The meeting will be held at park headquarters, located at 25970 Red Jacket Road, Calumet.

The historic Union Building in Calumet, located across from the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's, is the subject of a public meeting on exhibit planning to be held July 8 at Keweenaw National Historical Park headquarters. (National Park Service photo by Dan Johnson, courtesy Keweenaw National Historical Park)

At this point in the exhibit planning process, people will be able to look at detailed floor plans, view a three-dimensional model of the exhibit area, see some elevation drawings of exhibit features and read descriptions of exhibits that will include proposed objects for display and the topics the exhibit text will cover. Attendees to the meeting will have the opportunity to provide feedback to park staff and the exhibit designer.

The National Park Service purchased the historic Union Building in Calumet in 1999 with the long-range goal of making it a visitor interpretive facility. Keweenaw National Historical Park completed the first phase of the building’s rehabilitation by stabilizing its exterior in 2005. In 2008, the park received funding to begin planning the interior portion of the project.

In July 2008, the Office of Krister Olmon, Inc., (OKO) was selected as the project’s exhibit planning and design contractor from the National Park Service (NPS) indefinite quantities contract. A preliminary exhibit planning meeting was held in August 2008 involving NPS staff, the exhibit contractor and several of the park’s partners. Taking the information gathered from the preliminary meeting, Krister Olmon developed and presented three preliminary exhibit schemes in October 2008.

After receiving input from the public through public meetings and focus groups, park staff selected one scheme for refinement and further development.

In January 2009, NPS and Krister Olmon hosted a roundtable of prominent historians with expertise in the different areas of immigration, mining communities, labor history, fraternal organizations and local history to review the selected exhibit scheme and concepts. The Office of Krister Olmon has taken the wide variety of input received andused it to further develop the exhibit plan. While an overall approach to the exhibit has been selected, the content of the exhibit, including objects displayed and text, will continue to evolve through the planning process.

If the park receives funding for the implementation phase of the project, the actual interior construction and exhibit fabrication work can begin. This historic building will then be able to open its doors to the public. Both visitors to the area and local residents will have a place to reflect on the connection between Keweenaw mining companies, communities and people, and on their role in our nation’s history.

For more information, including directions to the public meeting, please call Keweenaw National Historical Park at (906) 337-3168. More information about the Union Building project is available on the Keweenaw NHP Web site.

Keweenaw Heritage Center to host ethnic music, book signing July 6

Dave Bezotte, at keyboard, leads the Maple Sugar Folk Band in singing a French Canadian tune during a Calumet Heritage Days celebration. They will perform tonight, July 6, at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's. Pictured with Bezotte, from left, are Barry Pegg, Marcia Goodrich, Janet Wieber, Barbara Lide (seated), Karin Schlenker and Deb McDowell. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- "Hear Your Heritage -- Ethnic Bands" will be the "Musical Mondays" performance at 7 p.m. tonight, July 6, at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's in Calumet. Three groups will play a variety of music commemorating the ethnic heritage of the Copper Country: the Thimbleberry Band with Oren Tikkanen (Finnish); the Maple Sugar Folk Band with Dave Bezotte (French Canadian); and Bob Norden's Band (German).

Another feature of the evening will be a book signing by Deborah K. Frontiera, author and speaker, of Houston, Texas. Frontiera is originally from Lake Linden, where she now spends summers. Known primarily as an author of children's books, Frontiera, a retired teacher, will be signing her most recent publications -- Living on Sisu: The 1913 Union Copper Strike Tragedy, a book of historical fiction for children (mainly grades four through eight), complete with historical photographs, and Copper Country Chronicler: The Best of J. W. Nara, a book of historical photographs for adults, suitable as a gift/coffee-table book.

The Keweenaw Heritage Center also welcomes the community to its 2009 Summer Exhibit titled "From Foreign to Familiar - Keweenaw’s Music Heritage" -- a photo display of the Copper Country’s musical legends.

Prominent Michigan jazz trio to perform July 7 at Rozsa

HANCOCK -- The Ellen Rowe Trio is coming to three U.P. communities as part of Pine Mountain Music Festival’s nineteenth season. They will appear at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7, at the Rozsa Center in Houghton. Tickets -- $20, or $10 for students and children -- are available at the Rozsa Center box office, by phone at 1-877-746-3999 toll-free and at the door.

Pianist Ellen Rowe. (Photo courtesy Pine Mountain Music Festival)

Pianist Ellen Rowe, bassist Paul Keller and drummer Pete Siers are three of Michigan’s finest jazz musicians. The Trio is much in demand across the country. This will be their first appearance with Pine Mountain Music Festival.

Their concert will include a captivating variety of works by Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and others, along with several original works by Ellen Rowe herself.

Joshua Major, artistic director of Pine Mountain Music Festival, says, "It is such an honor to bring these fine musicians up to the U.P. The vibrancy, strength and honesty of their music will be the perfect companion for the physical beauty of our surroundings."

The Pine Mountain Music Festival presents a season of opera, classical and jazz music this summer in the Dickinson County area, the Marquette area, the Keweenaw Peninsula and other towns in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin. Headquartered in Hancock, Michigan, it is supported by donations, ticket sales and grants. Visit the web at, or call 1-877-746-3999 for tickets or 888-309-7861 for more information.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fourth of July Parade in Gay draws crowd

Marshall Anderson, former Daily Mining Gazette photographer, sent this collage of the 2009 Fourth of July Parade in Gay. Top photo shows great turnout for the tiny town in Keweenaw County. Lower photos show, left, a blindfolded participant in Fish Throwing Contest and, right, a Rhythmic Duo dance. Thanks, Marshall! Click on collage for larger version. (Photo © 2009 Marshall Anderson)