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, March 12, 2010

Hancock to hold Public Hearing on proposed land purchase Mar. 17

HANCOCK -- The City of Hancock will hold a Public Hearing at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, at City Hall Council Chambers, 399 Quincy St., Hancock, to consider public comments on the proposed City of Hancock purchase of the following real property: A 29.64 acre parcel of property currently owned by Tonne Construction Company for a purchase price of $135,000.

This view from the snowmobile trail at the corner of Lynn and Prospect streets shows part of the proposed City of Hancock property purchase to the right. The snowmobile trail borders on the west of the property, while Sylvan Estates is to the east. (Keweenaw Now photos)

The property is located West of the Plat of Sylvan Estates, North of Prospect Street, and East of the DNR (now DNRE, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment) Snowmobile Trail. The property is zoned R-1 Single Family District.

A copy of the map and exact legal description of this parcel is on file at City Hall.*

City Manager Glenn Anderson said the property would be developed as a residential neighborhood similar to the adjacent Sylvan Estates.

"We'd estimate about one-half-acre lots," Anderson explained. "I think this would end up being a high-end development."

Anderson added the present R-1 Single Family District zoning would be retained since, given the character of the neighborhood, it wouldn't make sense to change it.

A realtor sign marks the southernmost part of the property the City of Hancock is considering for purchase. Modeled on Sylvan Estates, which was also developed by the City, the lots would have trees and green space.

"It would bring residents and economic activity, including taxes," he noted. "The hope would be that the City could control the development vs. a private developer."

The Public Hearing will precede the regular monthly meeting of the Hancock City Council.

*Editor's Notes: A satellite view can be accessed through Google. Click here.
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Copper Dog Race: 150 miles through Keweenaw Mar. 12-14

CALUMET -- The Copper Dog Race of 150 miles through the Keweenaw begins at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday, March 12, in Calumet. Mushers will head for Gay on the first leg, then on to Copper Harbor and back to Calumet by Sunday, March 14. Teams are expected to cross the finish line in downtown Calumet between noon and 3 p.m. Sunday.

Visit the Copper Dog Web site for more information or check out the race on Twitter.

Shelter Home to hold fund-raising events Mar. 14, 21

CALUMET -- The Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home is holding some fund-raising events in March, including skiing, music and a silent auction.

Skiing at Swedetown Trails March 14

Enjoy skiing the beautiful Swedetown trails in Calumet with food stops along the way from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 14, during the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home Brunch Ski. Tickets are $10 until March 13 and $20 the day of the event (if any are remaining). A ticket is required for the amount of food that has been planned. Tickets can be purchased at the Swedetown Chalet during the Bear Chase races this weekend. Contact the Shelter at 337-5632 for more information.

Music Event/Silent Auction March 21

Please join friends of the Barbara Gundlach Shelter for their Second Annual Music Event and Silent Auction from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 21, at the Forestry Building Atrium on the MTU Campus. There will be both a variety of musical performances to enjoy and a wide selection of items from local merchants on which to bid. Admission is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome.

Friends of the Shelter campaign

Throughout the month of March, the Friends of the Shelter campaign, the Shelter's primary fund-raising activity, welcomes donations to help their work in protecting victims of domestic violence. Contributions are accepted through their Web site. Click here to make a donation.

Visit the Shelter Home's Web site to learn more about their work, read their newsletter and find out about volunteering or contacting them for services.

Two Michigan Tech Students win Gilman Scholarships for study abroad

By Jennifer Donovan

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech students Kara Oikarinen of Calumet and Nicole VanBelle of Kentwood, Mich., have been named winners of prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for study abroad. They were among 900 undergraduates selected for the competitive scholarships from more than 3,000 applicants nationwide.

Oikarinen, a senior majoring in social sciences and education, received $5,000 for study this semester at the University of Ghana at Legon. She plans to bring Ghana back into the classrooms where she will teach, improving young students' knowledge of little-known parts of the world.

Michigan Tech scholarship winner Kara Oikarinen, daughter of Rick and Lorri Oikarinen of Calumet, holds a baby in Ghana. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

"As a teacher, I will be learning about a part of the world that is typically neglected in history and geography classes," she explained. "I will use as many materials from my experience in West Africa as possible to create the most potentially stimulating lessons."

Oikarinen is from Calumet, Mich., where she graduated from Calumet High School in 2006. She is the daughter of Rick and Lorri Oikarinen.

VanBelle, a chemical engineering major from Kentwood, Mich., is one of the first Gilman STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Pilot Scholarship recipients. She is one of 125 students across the country who received the Gilman STEM scholarship for 2010. She will receive $3,000 to study with the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone, Japan, during the summer of 2010.

Nicole VanBelle hard at work in the chemical engineering lab. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

"Studying abroad is not always advocated for engineers," VanBelle observed. "I hope to show all of my fellow engineers at Michigan Tech that studying abroad can be just as positive as an internship or co-op."

She plans to give presentations about her experiences in Japan to Tech classes and at the Portage Lake District Library.

VanBelle is a graduate of East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Mich. She is the daughter of Jane and Dave VanBelle.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program provides grants to undergraduates of limited means who are US citizens, to enable them to study abroad. Since the program's inception in 2001, more than 4,200 students have received Gilman Scholarships. The Gilman Scholarships are funded by Congress, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education.

Editor's Note: Guest writer Jennifer Donovan is Director of Public Relations at Michigan Technological University. Article and photos are courtesy Michigan Tech News.

Updated: Bear Chase Ski Races still on for March 13

Start of the 2009 Great Bear Chase at Swedetown Trails. Despite warmer weather, this year's race will still happen, with some changes in the route. See below. (Photo © and courtesy

CALUMET -- The 30th Annual 2010 Great Bear Chase, sponsored by Portage Health, is on for this Saturday, March 13, at Swedetown Trails in Calumet. Because of the warm weather, all road crossings and the downtown finish have been eliminated.

"We will have the start and finish close to the Swedetown Chalet on the Valley Trail," said Portage Health's Arnie Kinnunen, Bear Chase Race director. "Eliminating some of the potential problems areas has shortened the race course. We will have a 2-lap course, a 22K and a 44K race."

According to the Bear Chase Web site, snow on Swedetown's groomed trails is in great condition and most of the trails have at least a 12" base.

The Junior Bear Chase is at 5 p.m. tonight, Friday, March 12, at Swedetown. The race is for skiers up to 16 years old.

Update: Great Bear Square Dance Saturday, Mar. 13

There will be a Great Bear Square Dance from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 13, the night of the Great Bear Chase Ski Race, at the Keweenaw Heritage Center (former St. Anne's Church) in Calumet. A $5 donation is welcome. A visiting caller from Wisconsin will call the dances to live music by a local band. This event is open to the whole community so all you dancers who have been itching for a square dance, and even those who haven't, bring all your friends and family to Calumet to enjoy a night of dancing!

Pelosi to Maddow: Republicans hijacking Rep. Stupak's abortion concerns to stop health care reform bill

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC's political analyst and investigative reporter Rachel Maddow that the Senate health care reform bill does not allow federal funding for abortion, despite claims by U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) that it does.

In a video clip from Maddow's March 11 interview, Pelosi said, "There is no federal funding for abortion in the legislation. It is the law of the land that we are prohibited from spending federal funds on abortion, and that is consistent in this bill."

Pelosi added the Senate bill also contains no change in the status of a woman's right to choose.

"This bill is not about abortion," Pelosi told Maddow. "This is about health care for all Americans, and those who want the bill to fail hijack the concerns of others who have concerns about federal funding of abortion."

Expressing her respect for Congressman Stupak, and stating that Stupak "wants health care reform," Pelosi indicated Republicans -- not other Democrats -- in the House are trying to hijack Stupak's concerns in order to make the bill fail.

Click here to see the video clip from the March 11 Rachel Maddow Show.

On Wednesday, March 10, Maddow interviewed filmmaker Michael Moore, a Michigan constituent of Bart Stupak's, on the subject of Stupak's criticism of the Senate bill and discussed Moore's latest documentary film, Capitalism: A Love Story. Click here for a video clip of that interview.

Bipartisan team introduces Patients’ Right to Know Act

WASHINGTON -- Republican and Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced H.R. 4803, the Patients’ Right to Know Act, on March 10, 2010.

Introduced by U.S. Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas), Gene Green (D-Texas), Michael Burgess( R-Texas) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the Patients’ Right to Know Act is a bipartisan health reform proposal designed to empower consumers with the information they need to make decisions about their health care.

The lawmakers offered a similar amendment during the committee’s September markup of the House health care bill. It passed 51-0.

"Consumers need to make rational, cost-effective choices; but how can anybody do that without actually knowing the real price of their care?" asked Barton, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Even the most careful and attentive patient can’t be expected to understand that the $100 'mucus recovery system' on a hospital bill is, in fact, $2 worth of Kleenex. Let’s stop that."

Stupak, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, noted the bill will provide patients with access to critical information about the cost of health care services .

"Consumers deserve straightforward answers about what services their health insurance plan and medical providers cover and what their out-of-pocket costs will be, as well as notification when those costs change. This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation and I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing the Patients’ Right to Know Act."

Click here for a copy of the bill.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Judges needed for Western UP Science Fair March 22

HOUGHTON -- The Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education and Michigan Tech’s American Society of Engineering Education and the American Institute of Chemical Engineering are hosting the 12th Annual Western UP Science Fair on Monday, March 22, at the MTU Memorial Union Ballroom.

The event is valuable learning experience for students in grades 4-8. Students submit projects on experiments they conducted using the scientific method. They are judged on the scientific content of their written report, the presentation of their findings on a display board and the verbal communication of what they learned during an interview. Two judges will score each project independently of each other. Each project will receive a composite score from the two judges.

Each year, the number of registered projects is limited to 200 projects. Students may participate as individuals or with a partner. Currently 40 volunteers are available to judge the projects, but approximately 65 volunteers are needed. Please consider serving as a judge for the Western UP Science Fair. The contribution of your valuable time and expertise would be greatly appreciated.

The judges' time commitment for Monday, March 22, 2010, is from 5:30 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. Here is the schedule:

5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. -- Judges’ meeting and dinner.

6 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. Judging of projects. Students will be scheduled for an interview with two judges during one of time periods: 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.

The science fair will be open to the public from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

If you can serve as a judge, please contact Shawn Oppliger, director, Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, at 906-482-0331 or email Please indicate if you have children or students that are participating in the Western UP Science Fair and their grade level. You will be assigned to an appropriate grade level.

Finlandia Elementary Education program completes second accreditation step

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University’s Elementary Education program recently completed the second of three steps leading to full program accreditation by receiving probationary approval from the Michigan State Board of Education.

"This is a major step forward for the program and, most importantly, for our students," said Judith Budd, dean of Finlandia’s Suomi College of Arts and Sciences. "For the last six years, Finlandia faculty members have worked tirelessly to move this program forward toward accreditation."

Laurene Ziegler, who has been chair of the Elementary Education program since fall 2000, called this accreditation a major stepping stone in the history of the program.

Laurene Ziegler, chair of the Finlandia University Elementary Education program. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

"The first two steps in the accreditation process have made our program much stronger," Ziegler said. "Moreover, probationary approval bolsters our image and credibility within the educational community."

Ziegler says probationary approval allows the Elementary Education program to operate independently and to recommend its graduates for Michigan Department of Education certification.

Elementary Education program majors select two minor courses of study -- which include English, math, social studies and science. To date, 63 have graduated from the program, beginning with the Class of 2003. The program boasts a 93% overall passing rate on the Michigan teacher certification test.

Currently, 31 Elementary Education program alumni are employed in the Upper Peninsula as teachers or in related positions, such as AmeriCorps. Fourteen of the graduates are employed as teachers in other states, from downstate Michigan and Minnesota to Arizona, Wyoming and Alaska. Two alumni have gone on to complete master’s degrees in education, and three others are currently pursuing advanced degrees.

Ziegler keeps close track of her graduates; and they, in turn, stay connected with Finlandia. For example, 2008 graduate Ryan Koski began teaching sixth grade in Bullhead, Ariz., in fall 2008. Each year the students in his class create a video dialogue to share with current Finlandia Elementary Education majors, who in turn create a video for the Arizona sixth graders.

"President Johnson has been very supportive of the program, especially in regard to our technology needs," Ziegler explained. "One year after he became Finlandia’s president, we had the technology classroom we needed to move forward in the accreditation process."

Further, Ziegler said the ongoing support of local public schools as student teaching sites is critical to the sustained success of both the Elementary Education program and the program’s graduates. She added that the CCISD (Copper Country Intermediate School District) also invites student teachers to participate in the district’s professional development activities.

Finlandia will be eligible to apply for full state of Michigan accreditation in three years. Upon final approval, Finlandia must pursue and gain national accreditation within five years through one of two national accrediting bodies.

For additional information, please contact Laurene Ziegler at 906-487-7351.

Nordic Film Series to present Finnish film by Kaurismäki March 11

HANCOCK -- The Finnish film Lights in the Dusk is the March selection of the Finlandia University Nordic Film Series. The film will be shown at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, March 11, at the university’s Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

Lights in the Dusk (Laitakaupungin valot) is a 2006 film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. It is the final installment in what has been called Kaurismäki’s "Loser Trilogy." The two preceding films are Drifting Clouds and The Man Without a Past. While the trilogy’s first film was about unemployment and the second about homelessness, the theme of Lights in the Dusk is loneliness.

In Lights in the Dusk, night watchman Koiskinen lives an alienated life. Ridiculed and shunned by his workmates, regarded as incompetent by his employers, he lives alone, drinks alone and only manages to talk in any decent way with a woman who sells hot dogs at the fast food stand.

His life changes when a mysterious blond takes a sudden and unexpected interest in him.

The film was presented at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was chosen as Finland’s nominee for the 79th Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. However, Kaurismäki refused the nomination and boycotted the awards as a protest against U.S. foreign policy at the time.

The film is in the Finnish language with English language sub-titles. There is no charge to attend the film, but donations are accepted.

For additional information, call 906-487-7549. The Finnish American Heritage Center is located at 435 Quincy St. , Hancock.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Celebrate International Women's Day March 8

HANCOCK -- Today, March 8, is International Women's Day. Organizations around the world are trying to help women who are victims of violence. Here are some links. Read how you can help:
Click to help Amnesty International's efforts for women. It's free:

More locally, you can help support the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home by participating in upcoming events -- a brunch ski at Swedetown Trails on Sunday, March 14, and a music event and silent auction at the MTU Forestry Atrium on Sunday, March 21. Visit their Web site for details:

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Video: Highlights of African Night

Michigan Tech's Praise in Effect Choir performs "Tambira Jehovah," during African Night, Feb. 28, 2010, in the Rozsa Center. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Dancers and musicians of the visiting Hayor Bibimma Dance Company perform during African Night 2010 at the Rozsa Center. Based in the Twin Cities, this West African dance group specializes in traditional West African drumming, dance and storytelling. Their name means "bringing the masses of Mother Africa together."

As a finale to their performance, Hayor Bibimma members invite the audience to join them on stage for an African dance. The dance company aims to increase public participation in traditional African performing arts, enhance cultural awareness and ease public accessibility to the richness of African heritage.

Editor's Note: For photos of African Night -- the Hayor Bibimma dance performance and the fashion show presented by the African Students Organization -- see our slide show in the right column, above. Later it will be available through a link from our list of archived slide shows (right column).