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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Kids Consignment Sale Sep. 24-25 to benefit indoor playground

HOUGHTON -- The Keweenaw Family Resource Center (KFRC) will be holding a fundraising Kids Consignment Sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24-25, at the Copper Country Mall on M-26 in Houghton. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the KFRC Tree House Indoor Playground.

Anyone wishing to be a consignor should register by the deadline -- Monday, Sept. 13. Contact Ivette at 906-523-5295 or email KFRC's current goal is to have 50 consignors.

Items for the sale should be high-quality and gently-used. These can include clothing, gear, sporting goods, toys, equipment, furniture, etc., for all ages, stages and sizes, as well as maternity clothes and accessories, nursing apparel, diaper bags and much more.

The half-price sale starts at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25. Payment must be cash or check only, no credit cards. New Moms and Moms-To-Be can sign up for the First-Time Mom's Club and shop before the sale starts (no strings attached!).

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sen. Levin speaks at Small Business Roundtable in Houghton

U.S. Senator Carl Levin discusses climate and energy issues with Sarah Green, Michigan Tech University Department of Chemistry chair, following Sen. Levin's visit to a Small Business Roundtable Meeting on Aug. 20 at the Franklin Square Best Western Inn Shelden Grill in Houghton. Also pictured is Ed Lahti, local inventor. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- U.S. Senator Carl Levin was a guest speaker at the Aug. 20 Small Business Roundtable Meeting with the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) in Houghton. The purpose of the visit, according to Phil Musser, KEDA executive director, was to talk about small business issues. The Senator also spoke briefly to the media and individual constituents after the meeting.

Sen. Levin is on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and is a strong advocate for Michigan small business interests.

"His membership on that committee means that he has impact on small business issues," Musser said. "We want to be able to communicate with him what our priorities are. One of those priorities (which he mentioned in his talk) is called Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)."

Through the SBIR program, government agencies set aside some of their money for small business research to help commercialize products of interest to that agency, Musser explained.

"This is very important money for young companies who don't have a lot of money to do research or commercialize," Musser noted. "I estimate that companies in this community have received 75 or more SBIRs. Those range in size from $50,000 to $750,000."

Musser said these grants are important for helping young companies get their products into the marketplace.

"Senator Levin has been one of those who helped start that program and is a strong supporter of it. It comes up periodically for renewal and he supports full funding of the SBIR program," Musser added.

Musser said Bill and Ellen Campbell's Nitrate Elimination Co., Inc., (NECi) in Lake Linden, founded in 1993, is a good example of SBIR money helping a new company market its products.

According to Ellen Campbell, NECi vice-president, NECi sells its easy-to-use nitrate test kits for environmental testing and agriculture throughout the US. NECi's enzyme-based nitrate analysis method can be used in everything ranging from testing home well water to automated nitrate analysis in the lab. In addition, their products for very accurate nitrate testing in laboratories are sold internationally.

NECi also recently received a new $90,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture's SBIR program for developing a greener, enzyme-based method for detection of phosphate.

"Our agricultural customers have told us that they are more likely to test their soil and runoff if they can check nitrate and phosphate at the same time," Ellen Campbell explained.

In addition, since part of the company's development funds came from the SBIR program, the Campbells are able to sell their products at a better price.

"The SBIR program has been the key to our survival and our ability to remain in the UP," Ellen Campbell said. "Our company is pioneering the use of purified enzymes for analytical chemistry. Many lab tests require the use of hazardous or toxic chemicals. We are working to replace these chemical methods with enzyme-based methods. This is a new concept -- enzyme-based methods are rarely used outside the medical lab."

Along with many local business owners, representatives of departments at Michigan Technological University, many of whom are KEDA members, attended the meeting with Sen. Levin.

After the meeting, Sarah Green, chair of Michigan Tech's Department of Chemistry, spoke to Sen. Levin about her concern that the Senate pass the climate bill.

"He said he agrees it's important," Green said.

Green noted her disappointment in the present energy bill, which, Levin told her, has a chance to pass in the Senate.

"It's going to take pieces of the original climate bill and call it the energy bill," she said. "At this point any bill that makes steps toward reducing our carbon footprint is a step forward. That bill has many good elements, but Levin (and others) say only some parts may still come to the floor this year. Nobody yet knows what parts it will contain. They are calling it an 'energy bill' instead of 'clean energy jobs.'"

Green added she believes the Senate needs to pass some version of the House bill.

"They haven't even taken it up, so I don't know if it has a number yet," Green noted. "It's known as the 'clean energy jobs bill.'"*

Green said she also spoke with Levin about standards for vehicle emission. Levin's view, she noted, is that states (like California) shouldn't be allowed to set higher standards than a national federal standard for vehicle emissions.

Other issues

Since the press was not allowed at the meeting but only given the final 15 minutes to interview Sen. Levin, Keweenaw Now asked him about two issues -- Afghanistan and Kennecott-Rio Tinto's sulfide mine.

Sen. Levin said he made a reference to Afghanistan in his talk at the KEDA meeting, but didn't talk about it in detail to the group.

Asked whether he thought the U.S. would have to accept the Taliban having a role in the Afghan government at the expense of human rights, Levin replied that the Taliban is very unpopular and can be defeated.

"They (the Taliban) can be defeated, but they can only be defeated by the Afghan people and their army, which has got a lot of respect," Levin said, "and I believe our mission should be to build up that army -- to transition responsibility for Afghan security to the Afghan Army. They've got to take responsibility for their security. They have the respect of the people ... They're fighters. The people hate the Taliban, so if you put those ingredients together they can defeat the Taliban. It's got to be our supporting their effort. It can't be our being in the lead."**

On the mining issue, Sen. Levin said he wasn't very familiar with the Eagle Project mine; however, his Upper Peninsula Regional Representative Amy Berglund told Keweenaw Now Levin's staff is aware of Rio Tinto-Kennecott and other mining companies now active in the Upper Peninsula. She said they are open to receiving information on the mining from concerned citizens.

See the Web site for more information on the "energy bill."

** See our April 3, 2010, article, "Local soldier describes humanitarian mission in Afghanistan."

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Mural by Hancock artist, Afghanistan veteran, to be unveiled Sept. 2

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University Graphic Design/Illustration sophomore Dominic Fredianelli, a National Guard Veteran returned recently from Afghanistan, has brought an urban art form to Hancock -- in a very big way.

Detail of Dominic Fredianelli’s 12 x 120-foot mural, which he has painted on a south-facing exterior wall of the Finlandia University Jutila Center campus. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

His 12-foot by 100-foot painting -- a chronicle of the first 24 years of Fredianelli’s life -- will be unveiled at a reception for Fredianelli at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, outdoors near the south-facing side of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

Heather Courtney, originally from Houghton and now a reporter for an NPR (National Public Radio) station in Texas, will film the painting’s unveiling.

Since 2007 Courtney has been filming a documentary that follows Fredianelli and several of his friends and fellow soldiers, all them in the 1431st Engineer Company of the National Guard, Calumet, Mich. Each of the young men graduated from Hancock High School in 2005; all were deployed to Afghanistan in 2009; and all have now returned to the Upper Peninsula .

It was a progression of smaller events that led to the creation of the large mural. In response to his desire to work on an independent project, Fredianelli’s academic advisor, Studio Arts professor Yueh-mei Cheng, set him up in a studio at the Jutila Center, where he began to create a large mixed-media oil painting on canvas.

"I designed this special project for Dominic, instead of giving him the regular class assignment, as he needed some way to freely express the emotions he accumulated when he was in Afghanistan," said Cheng. "Making art can be therapeutic. The purpose of the project is for Dominic to release emotions from the impact of war, deaths, and nightmares."

This is not Fredianelli’s first try at creating an outdoor mural, but the current project is the largest so far. On four panels, he has depicted -- in reverse order, if viewing the painting from left to right -- his personal history as a soldier and young man, as a teenager and as a small boy.

One might not expect a young man under 30 to have experienced enough to fill 1,200 square feet, but Fredianelli is an exception.

Dominic Fredianelli works on his 12 x 120-foot mural, which he has painted on a south-facing exterior wall of the Finlandia University Jutila Center campus.

The four-panel mural includes a 12-foot self-portrait of Fredianelli the soldier, a 10-foot image of an Afghani civilian, and two dominant words: Soldier and Change. Other images include a river that he describes as one of the most beautiful places he encountered in Afghanistan, the Twin Towers, a mosque, a church and the Quincy Mine Hoist.

Fredianelli says that some of the meanings the painting may convey to the viewer are deliberate on his part, while others "just happened" as part of the creative sketching and painting process.

Fredianelli began pursuing a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) at Finlandia in fall 2007. After two semesters of study, his National Guard Unit was deployed. He returned to the U.S. in 2009 and then completed an automotive technician certificate in Wyoming. After a few months in Marquette, Mich., he returned to his home town and resumed his BFA studies at Finlandia.

Fredianelli, along with 30 additional U.S. armed services veterans, is attending Finlandia with the assistance of the GI Bill and other veterans’ programs. He is the son of Sharon and Brian Fredianelli of Hancock.

For additional information, please contact Lisa Broemer at 487-7375, or e-mail

Pamela Kotila exhibits comics at Reflection Gallery through Sept. 30

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery, Hancock, is hosting an exhibit of comic illustrations by Pamela Kotila through Sept. 30, 2010.

The exhibit, titled Pandora! Volume 1, displays the first volume in a series of books in which Kotila has rethought and revamped her original Pandora comics, a page-by-page webcomic she created in 2003.

An image from Pamela Kotila’s Pandora comic series. (Image courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception and artist talk will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, at the Reflection Gallery in the Jutila Center. The reception is open to the public and refreshments will be served.

Kotila says she has wanted to tackle this project for many years, but felt it was important to continue the original storyline rather than spend time redoing what was already done. She has long been waiting for the right opportunity to lessen the clutter and add some scenery to the original Pandora illustrations. She says an advanced illustration class she completed at Finlandia in fall 2009, as well as her evolving talent for creating comics, gave her the motivation and enhanced skills to revisit the design of the Pandora comics.

"My talent for comics was increasing," Kotila explains. "I had also started drawing backgrounds. Finally, the time was right to open the box."

The artist Pamela Kotila. (Photo courtesy Pamela Kotila)

In using the first Pandora as a guide, Kotila assures fans of the original story that they will find "a lot of familiarity in this work, both in the story and the characters."

She adds that the story has been filtered, condensed, and sometimes expanded to create a smoother reading experience.

"I now have the advantage of using characters I understand, rather than characters I was working to understand," Kotila explains. "I have also chosen to change the style of the panels so that the story flows page to page, rather than depicting one joke or single situation per page."

Kotila notes she has chosen to work in a comedic medium because comedy is an excellent tool for change.

A Finlandia University alumna, Kotila completed a bachelor of fine arts at Finlandia University in 2010. She served as content and copy editor of Finlandia’s student newspaper, The Roar, throughout her college career.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, Hancock.

For additional information, please contact Yueh-mei Cheng, professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or e-mail

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blair Orr receives Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award

By Alanna Knapp of Tech Today

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech University Professor Blair Orr of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science has received the 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award in the associate professor/professor category. He is singled out especially for directing Michigan Tech's Peace Corps Master's International Program, which allows students to combine two years of Peace Corps service with a graduate degree program. Involving eight disciplines, Michigan Tech has the largest number of Master's International programs nationwide at one university.

Orr earned a PhD in Forestry Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and came to Michigan Tech in 1992.

From the start, he taught economics and began the University's first Master's International program, forestry, in 1995. He became the director of all eight programs in 2006.

"Blair brings to the University his creativity, his time, a passion for international programs, and, most importantly, a commitment to students' success," said Dean Margaret Gale.

Students returning from the field tell Gale that they are well-prepared for their service.

"They are confident," she said, "and, with Blair's guidance and influence, prepared for service abroad." Read more of this article by Alanna Knapp, Tech Today student editor ...

Editor's Note: See also our March 31, 2010, article "Peace Corps lauds Michigan Tech, Portage Health for Master's International programs," about the visit of Eric Goldman, Peace Corps Masters International national manager, and the awards he presented to Blair Orr and to Portage Health.

Copper Country offers outdoor recreation, adventure, natural beauty

By Eric Johnson*

Clear Lake is one of three lakes that can be found in the Emily Lake Camping Area near Toivola. (Photo © Ben Cottrill and courtesy Eric Johnson)

HOUGHTON -- Summertime in the Copper Country stretches into September, providing many opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure. Small towns like Houghton, which author Norman Crampton listed in his book The 100 Best Small Towns in America, dot the area, drawing in tourists from around the globe. Numerous state parks, along with state and federally owned forests, allow for camping and hiking. There is also easy access to Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.

"I can think of over twenty campsites, beaches and rivers off the top of my head that I’ve been to here," said Andrew Brucki, a Michigan Tech student who enjoys going on wilderness excursions. "If you have a car, you can get to most of these places within an hour."


Recent warm temperatures have made the lake more swimable than ever. Don't forget your bathing suit and beach towel if you plan to visit the Copper Country this coming Labor Day weekend. If you're already here, try a beach you haven't yet visited. The following locations are commonly visited by local citizens and Michigan Tech students:

Breakers is a black sand beach on Lake Superior that is approximately 10 miles northwest of Houghton on County Road S-553, south of the Portage. Visitors can walk along the rocky breakers to the lighthouse, watch the sun set, and make a bonfire.

McLain State Park is also on Lake Superior, located on the west side of the Keweenaw Peninsula, approximately 11 miles northwest of Houghton on M-203. It has been named by Reader’s Digest as one of the top beaches in the United States. A small daily fee is needed to get into the park, featuring two miles of beach, a lighthouse, and opportunities for fishing, windsurfing, and hunting.

Gay Beach is approximately 25 miles northeast of Houghton, located on the eastern side of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The road to the beach may or may not be blocked off by a gate, so visitors should be prepared to park and walk to get in to the beach.


The Copper Country has much to offer in terms of campsites, both rustic and modern.

"Many of these sites cost money, but most are pretty cheap," said Lydia Patch, a Michigan Tech student and member of the Outdoor Adventure Program. "Some of the campsites have really cool histories, too, like Fort Wilkins State Park. They do reenactments there of life in the 1800s."

Campers who prefer rustic camping need to be aware of the hazards of leaving society behind.

"Many of these locations are very remote and are not recommended for first-time campers," said Tyler Losinski, also a Michigan Tech student and member of the Outdoor Adventure Program. "Visitors are encouraged to bring maps, compasses, and a GPS."

Lake Perrault is approximately 13 miles southwest of Houghton. It is a designated trout lake, with brook trout being the main catch. Though it used to be a roadside park, Lake Perrault is now largely abandoned -- perfect for those wishing to get away from their busy lives for a day or two.

Agate Beach Campground is approximately 22 miles west of Houghton and is located on Lake Superior. The camping fee is $15 per night. Agate Beach is well-suited for rock collecting, swimming, kayaking, or canoeing.

Twin Lakes State Park is approximately 26 miles southwest of Houghton near Toivola, Mich. There is a $16 - $22 camping fee per night, but visitors have access to a volleyball court as well as a beach. Campers wishing to head to the Emily Lake Camping Area must first obtain a back country permit from Twin Lakes State Park.

Emily Lake Camping Area is approximately 27 miles southwest of Houghton near Toivola and includes Emily Lake, Pike Lake, and Clear Lake. There is no charge for camping at any of the three lakes, though a backcountry permit is required. Permits can be obtained from Twin Lakes State Park.

Fort Wilkins State Park is located approximately 47 miles northeast of Houghton on US-41 near Copper Harbor. The campground has running water, a sanitation station, electricity and a boat launch. Fort Wilkins State Park also houses Fort Wilkins itself, a 19th century military post and lighthouse complex that has been well-preserved. Visitors are able to witness re-enactments of life in the 1840s at the fort.

Lake Fanny Hooe Campground, as the name suggests, is located near Lake Fanny Hooe, 49 miles northeast of Houghton. One site with electricity and water costs $28 per night. Campers willing to pay $40 per night will also receive sewer and cable television.

Schlatter Lake is located at the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, 56 miles northeast of Houghton. Visitors are recommended to use a vehicle with four-wheel drive to reach Schlatter Lake due to the rocky road. A unique fact about Schlatter Lake is that a rowboat has been donated to the lake and is available to the public free of charge to use whenever they please.


For people who like water but not necessarily camping, the Keweenaw offers plenty of rivers for kayaking or canoeing.

The Sturgeon River ranges from 10 to 48 miles south of Houghton. Certain parts of the river are appropriate for beginners, but the Sturgeon River Gorge can be dangerous in the spring due to an influx of water from the melting snow.

Intermediate canoeists may prefer the Ontonagon River, which is approximately 50 miles southwest of Houghton.


In addition to rivers, several waterfalls are located throughout the Copper Country, all of which are free to visit.

"If you haven’t been to the waterfalls yet, you should," said Kevin Merritt, a Michigan Tech student and outdoor enthusiast. "They’re close [to Michigan Tech] and are perfect for taking pictures or just to walk by."

Hungarian Falls is only 10 miles northeast of Houghton near Hubbell. There are the upper falls and lower falls, which are both accessible by different roads. Scenic trails wind along the falls, affording visitors a spectacular view of the water.

Jacob’s Falls is located approximately 32 miles north of Houghton near Eagle River. The waterfall is fairly small, but it is located right next to the Jampot, where monks make and sell their own jam and baked goods.

Canyon Falls is located approximately 42 miles south of Houghton near L’Anse. Canyon Falls is known for its cliff jumping, which Michigan Tech students regularly do. The falls are scenic, and there are trails to hike as well.

Manganese Falls is located 48 miles northeast of Houghton near Copper Harbor. Visitors are able to view the falls from bridges as well as swim in pools formed by rocks in the river.

The Keweenaw Peninsula is a scenic area of the United States rich with opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration. Residents of the Copper Country, along with visitors, are encouraged to explore their surroundings and better enjoy the Copper Country.

"It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you get outside and get active," said Losinski. Andrew Brucki agrees.

"I would have never known how cool this area was if I just stayed on campus," said Brucki. "As soon as I started exploring the area, I started liking Tech a lot more."

*Editor's Notes: Visiting reporter Eric Johnson wrote this article as part of his work in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech University. This is Johnson's second article for Keweenaw Now. See also his Aug. 9 article, "Summer haying season challenges local farmers."

For information on Michigan Tech's Outdoor Adventure Program, visit their Web site.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Musical variety show to celebrate ethnic roots at Keweenaw Heritage Center Aug. 30

CALUMET -- Celebrating Keweenaw’s Musical Roots, a variety show with an ethnic theme, will be presented at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Aug. 30, at the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne’s (corner of 5th and Scott Streets) in Calumet.

Performers will include the following:

* Susan Rokicki, piano and Robin Oye, flute/recorder -- Norwegian tunes
* Luke Lussenden, guitar and vocal -- German folk song
* Emma and Carrie Dlutkowski, fiddles -- Irish, Finnish and French-Canadian tunes
* Mark Oliver, vocal -- Irish and Irish-American songs
* David Bezotte and Evan Dixon, guitar and vocal -- French-Canadian songs
* John and Tom Katalin, accordion, guitar, vocal -- Croatian dance tunes
* Tom Katalin, guitar and vocal, singing an original composition written as a tribute to his grandparents.

The audience will have opportunities to sing along, and refreshments from the Conglomerate Café will be available for purchase following the performance. A free-will offering will be taken to benefit the Keweenaw Heritage Center’s accessibility project.