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, October 09, 2010

Citizens concerned about Justice Center to meet Oct. 9 at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- A gathering for Houghton County citizens who are concerned about the Houghton County Jail Facility Bond Proposal will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

Be an informed voter on Nov. 2. Yard signs and flyers will be available. See also the Houghton County Justice Center blog.

For information on both sides of the issue see these two articles:
"County justice center proponents seek public support," by William Frantz, and "Opinion: Reasons to VOTE NO on the Houghton County Justice Center," by George Dewey.

Calumet Art Center to host quilting bee Oct. 9

CALUMET -- The Calumet Art Center and Pam Beal will be hosting a quilting bee from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9. You will be able to participate in hand-quilting an art quilt on an antique floor frame. The quilt components are a nice mix of the contemporary and the traditional. If you do not know how to quilt, come and learn. If you love embroidery, come and add your special stitches. This is an improvisational project with no wrong moves.

Pam Beal has a long quilting history; she will be demonstrating technique, answering your questions and cheering you on! It is hoped that this quilt will be completed by the end of the year and made available for fundraising for the Calumet Art Center.

The Calumet Art Center is located at 57055 Fifth Street.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Congressional candidate Gary McDowell voices concerns for Great Lakes

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- State Representative Gary McDowell launched a new campaign ad on Oct. 6, his fourth television ad so far, in his campaign to represent Michigan’s 1st Congressional District in Congress, the seat now held by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee), who plans to retire.*

The ad, which will run across northern Michigan, highlights tea party candidate Dan Benishek’s alarming views on Great Lakes issues. It is McDowell’s second ad on Great Lakes issues, which are particularly important in the nation’s only congressional district to border three of the five lakes.

"Dan Benishek and I disagree on a lot and it’s important that voters know what those differences mean for the health of the Great Lakes here in northern Michigan," McDowell said. "The Great Lakes are too important to our economy and way of life here in northern Michigan to put in the hands of Dan Benishek, who wants to gut the laws that protect them."

Benishek has frequently been quoted as saying he would work to repeal most regulations and curtail the authority of agencies like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) that enforce clean water laws. In July, he told the Iron Mountain Daily News, "the purpose of government is fill pot holes, kill terrorists and get out of the way."** Benishek has also commented specifically on the role of the EPA, saying, "We need to limit the EPA ..."***

McDowell spoke to reporters yesterday, Oct. 6, in a telephone press conference on Great Lakes issues.

"We (in Michigan) have more coastline on the Great Lakes than any other state," McDowell said.

He noted his new TV ad is intended to show how greatly his position on the Great Lakes differs from Benishek's.

"Benishek has said repeatedly that he doesn't think we need any (government) regulation," McDowell said.

Unlike Benishek, McDowell said he believes government has to have a role in protecting the Great Lakes. As an example, McDowell mentioned an oil spill early this week in Lake Huron, to which the Coast Guard immediately responded. They are also trying to identify the cause and responsibility, McDowell added -- something he feels is necessary as part of regulation -- while Benishek has even stated he doesn't care who caused the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.****

McDowell also noted the delayed response to the oil spill near Kalamazoo and said he believed more rapid response is necessary.

McDowell told Keweenaw Now his priorities for protecting the Great Lakes include stopping sources of pollution, closing the canal in Chicago that's allowing the invasive Asian carp into the Great Lakes, solving the problem of invasives entering the lakes through ballast water, preventing water diversion and working with Canada on agreements to protect the Great Lakes.

"Their (Canadians') pollution laws are very lax," McDowell said. "They do allow some drilling of the Great Lakes, which I'm opposed to."

McDowell said he favors a ban on drilling in the Great Lakes -- one that Canada would respect as well.

Concerning the sulfide mining issue and Lake Superior, McDowell repeated his position that the mining needs to be done according to Michigan laws governing non-ferrous metallic mining.

Asked by one of the reporters whether he thought his message on protecting the Great Lakes would resonate in a district now concerned about the economy and the need for jobs, McDowell said he considers protecting the Great Lakes an economic issue.

"I wouldn't call it an environmental issue; I'd call it also an economic issue," he said.

In the state legislature McDowell has worked to protect and defend the Great Lakes and says he will continue that fight in Congress. He has supported legislation to prevent diversion of Great Lakes water and to help fight invasive species like Asian carp.

"Michigan is defined by the Great Lakes," McDowell said. "We have an incredible responsibility to the people of Michigan to be good stewards of the largest source of fresh water on the planet. By protecting the Great Lakes, and all of Michigan's water, we are protecting what makes us special."

Click here to view Gary McDowell's recent television ad on the Great Lakes.

* Stupak recently endorsed McDowell's candidacy for 1st District Congressman. In the endorsement, Stupak said McDowell "has pledged to continue the fight to protect our Great Lakes ..." See our Oct. 4 posting of this press release.

** Click here to read this July 22, 2010 Iron Mountain Daily News article quoting Benishek.

*** Click here to read an interview with Benishek published last spring, before the primary.

**** Read the Oct. 6 AP article on the Coast Guard response in the Chicago Tribune.

Photo of Gary McDowell courtesy

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Concerned citizens question erosion from AAA road, need for new county road

By Michele Bourdieu

ISHPEMING -- A group of citizens have expressed concern about erosion along the AAA Road and increased sedimentation in the Salmon Trout River from this road that leads to the Rio Tinto-Kennecott Eagle Project mine site. After their public comments at the Sept. 20 meeting of the Marquette County Road Commission in Ishpeming were received, some minor improvements for erosion control appeared along the road, but their request for a public hearing on the AAA was not granted.

Marquette County Road Commissioners receive public comments at their Sept. 20 meeting in Ishpeming. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

On the other hand, the Road Commission has scheduled a special meeting / public hearing on a proposed new north-south county road to replace the former Woodland Road that had been requested by Kennecott Eagle Minerals.*

Citizens express concerns about erosion, stream sedimentation from AAA road work

At the Sept. 20 Road Commission meeting, Catherine Parker of Marquette read a letter she had sent on Sept. 18 to DNRE (Department of Natural Resources and Environment) officials, along with photos illustrating the problem.

During the public comment period at the Sept. 20 Marquette County Road Commission meeting, Catherine Parker of Marquette reads her letter to DNRE (Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment) officials concerning erosion problems on the AAA Road leading to Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Eagle Project sulfide mine. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Her letter includes the following statement:

"The photos ... were taken on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, along the Triple A Road in Marquette County. This road, which is currently being used by Kennecott for access to their Eagle Mine Project, crosses the Salmon Trout River several times along that stretch.

One of Catherine Parker's photos illustrating erosion problems along the AAA Road on the way to the Eagle Mine site. Note ineffectual straw bales. (Photo courtesy Catherine Parker)

"During the past few months, clearing along the easements has resulted not only in a loss of canopy, but also a severe erosion problem, particularly where trees have been cut along the stream banks. There is no silt fencing protecting the stream banks. If this is allowed to continue, run-off will choke feeders, and ultimately wetlands, with sand.

"The County has given Kennecott and its contractors permission to do whatever is 'necessary' to 'maintain' the road. This is the result."

Parker also spoke about her letter to the Road Commission concerning the distance from the center line where contractors had cleared, suggesting they were changing the center line of the road.

Cynthia Pryor of Big Bay asked about the contractor Van Damme (working for Kennecott on road maintenance) and whether the work plan, including tree removal along the east branch of the Salmon Trout River was approved by Jim Iwanicki, Road Commission engineer-manager.

Cynthia Pryor, standing, of Big Bay addresses the Marquette County Road Commission during the public comment period of their Sept. 20 meeting in Ishpeming. Also pictured, from left, are Catherine Parker, Teresa Bertossi and Barbara Bradley. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

She noted straw bales along the east branch of the Salmon Trout River and the huge amount of sedimentation now going into that stream.

"I have never seen the Marquette County Road Commission treat a stream in that fashion," Pryor said. "If Van Damme as Kennecott's agent and your agent is doing such, I think there needs to be a conversation about work plans, there needs to be a conversation about public knowledge of these changes to our roadways."

Pryor said she protests this as a citizen who lives in that area and who has to withstand being stopped along the roadway by unauthorized personnel.

"I think you have given away your duty to the citizens of Marquette County and the citizens who live in that area," she said.

Pryor also asked for a public hearing on the removal of the tree canopy along that road. She said Best Management Practices for logging were not being respected in the amount of tree removal near the roadway and the streams.

Teresa Bertossi of Marquette also asked if there would be a public meeting on recent improvements to the Triple A -- widening it in places and removing trees.

Photo showing tree removal near the AAA Road. (Photo © and courtesy David Allen)

David Allen of Marquette, Conservation chair of the Central U.P. Sierra Club group, told the Commission the Sierra Club has been monitoring streams and rating their quality in the area of the east branch of the Salmon Trout River. He said he would expect the east branch, which comes out of a beaver pond, to clean up quickly, which to a large extent did occur according to his measurements. However, he also noted as a subjective observation an increase in sediment.

David Allen, standing, of Marquette, Conservation chair of the Central U.P. Sierra Club group, addresses the Marquette County Road Commission during public comments at their Sept. 20 meeting. Allen also gave the commissioners a CD with photos to illustrate his points. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"There is considerably more sand sediment in the stream than has existed in the prior seven years since we've been doing (the monitoring)," Allen said.

Photo showing brown water from sedimentation in a stream near the AAA Road. (Photo © and courtesy David Allen)

He also noted a beaver pond, just upstream from where they sampled, that was significantly more turbulent than normal; and its water was brown.

"That brown water came from someplace. It came from the Triple A," Allen noted.

Photo showing greater than normal sedimentation in a pond upstream from the site of the Sierra Club's stream monitoring. (Photo © and courtesy David Allen)

Allen provided the commissioners with a CD of photos to support his opinion that the contractor on the Triple A was using straw bales as a "palliative" measure to control sedimentation.

"It is a disgrace, what's going on," Allen said. "I don't know where the blame lies, but I do know that ultimately the Road Commission should be seeing to it that adequate anti-sedimentation efforts are in place."

Allen suggested that the Triple A road improvements be halted until adequate measures are in place.

Also during the public comments at the Sept. 20 meeting, Arnold Sirtola, Ewing Township supervisor, told the Commission he was concerned about what is in dust control solutions and whether it could be putting pollutants into the streams and rivers.

Pryor asked for a meeting with the Road Commission's Engineer-Manager, Jim Iwanicki, in order to discuss various citizen concerns, including stream soil and sedimentation issues and wetland impacts along the AAA and the Northwest roads, the Work Plan for the AAA and 510 roads, public hearing requirements, a request for a traffic volume and speed study on 550, 510 and AAA, a request for dust monitoring equipment, and permits (for non Road Commission personnel) for stopping traffic.

Iwanicki meets with citizens, DNRE on AAA Road concerns

On Monday, Sept. 27, Iwanicki did meet with a group of citizens, Mitch Koetje of the DNRE (Department of Natural Resources and Environment) and Michael Harrington of the Road Commission.

Teresa Bertossi, who attended the Sept. 27 meeting, reported Iwanicki described the work on the AAA first as "maintenance" and later as "maintenance improvements." Iwanicki also said the Road Commission gave permission to "widen" the entrance to the AAA. On the other hand, Bertossi added, Iwanicki denied the work consisted of "widening" the road, since that would require adding a new lane. Hence, Iwanicki held the view that the "improvements" on the AAA Road do not require a public hearing.

According to the 1909 Public Roads Act, "Before the board approves a project for the construction of a new road or improvement of an existing road not part of the federal-aid systems, as defined in section 103 of Public Law 85-767, 23 U.S.C. 103, which improvement consists of widening or straightening the line of a road the board of county road commissioners shall conduct a public hearing..."

Bertossi also reported DNRE official Koetje, at the meeting with Iwanicki, said the DNRE had been on site, but had no stumping, no additional soil erosion concerns. He said he had seen photos by Ms. Parker, had seen the straw bails in place, but said it is likely the current erosion/sedimentation will not result in a violation.

"He (Koetje) also said he noticed the road stream crossings were in rough shape, but that there are many roads with stream crossing problems," Bertossi added.

According to Bertossi, Iwaniki also stressed that sedimentation concerns on the AAA were low on his list of priorities, but that they would try to address the public's concerns within a week.

Some silt fencing has been added in front of straw bales, as seen in this Sept. 28 photo; however, concerned citizens are still not satisfied that the work along the AAA Road conforms to Best Management Practices or protects stream crossings adequately. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Citizens question proposed new county road to replace Woodland Road; public hearing on new road to be Oct. 7

The subject of the proposed new all-season county road to run north-south for vehicle access to the north central portion of Marquette County was also mentioned at the Sept. 20 meeting of the Marquette County Road Commission. The commissioners agreed to schedule a public hearing on that road.

The hearing is actually to be held at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Ishpeming Township Hall, 1575 U.S. 41 West, Ishpeming, MI.*

During the public comments at the Sept. 20 meeting Teresa Bertossi of Marquette first pointed out to the Road Commission how roads such as the AAA (as it is now) impact uplands, wetlands, streams, aquatic life, flora and fauna.

Teresa Bertossi of Marquette (second row, in red) expresses concerns about road impacts to the environment during the public comment period of the Sept. 20 Marquette County Road Commission meeting in Ishpeming. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Sadly most public agencies disregard these environmental impacts of these roads and attempt to justify timber and mineral extraction roads as benefiting us," Bertossi said.

Bertossi then referred to a recent transportation meeting where it was discussed that Michigan did not have the funds to keep up the current road system. Bertossi noted she asked at that meeting why the proposed Woodland Road (a multi-purpose road which would have extended from U.S. 41 at County Road FY in Humboldt Township north to AAA Road to serve travelers as well as timber and mining activities and which was held up by Environmental Protection Agency concerns) would be changed from a private to a public road where citizens would have to pay for the maintenance of it beyond the mine and the closing of the mine.

Bertossi mentioned Mr. Iwanicki, Road Commission engineer-manager, had recently asked both the City and the County for support of the Woodland Road as a public road.*

In fact, a Sept. 14 letter to Iwanicki from Marquette Mayor John P. Kivela describes a proposed new road to replace the Woodland Road as follows:

"The City of Marquette is requesting that the Marquette County Road Commission develop a new, all-season primary county road to run north-south, beginning at the intersection of US-41/County Road FY northerly to County Road IAA."

The letter includes a map showing such a road as passing through a corridor that includes sections of Humboldt, Champion and Michigamme townships.

The letter continues, "The purpose of the new, all-season county primary road is to provide enhanced vehicle access to the adjoining lands in the north central portion of Marquette County. This new road would provide additional recreational and economic development opportunities in this undeveloped area in Marquette County.

"The proposed road would provide a direct benefit to the timber, mining and gravel industries in the area and would encourage economic development and expansion by providing an adequate transportation corridor, thereby benefitting [sic] the townships along the route with additional tax revenue opportunities."**

The Mayor's letter also claimed the new road would increase public safety by providing and alternate access route to the north central portion of Marquette County and reducing traffic in more heavily traveled corridors.

However, Bertossi questioned whether this new public road would be safe.

"If it's the Road Commission's duty to protect the safety of the public on public roads, how is making the Woodland Road a public road rather than a private road making it any safer?" Bertossi asked. "If it's too dangerous to run trucks through Marquette and currently traveling on the Triple A is rather dangerous," she added, "how is it any safer to make a road a public road?"

Cynthia Pryor, in a recent email message, commented on the county's proposed new road and the scheduled public hearing.

"The background conversation is about this new road being paid for by a developer -- Kennecott Minerals -- and that they would pay for everything including the permitting processes," Pryor writes. "The county would ostensibly be selecting the new roadway, going for all the permits under county name and ownership, determining costs, imposing county standards, working with all landowners along the new routes -- easements or condemnation -- as the case warrants, and accepting maintenance of the roadway after its completion."

Pryor also questions the need for and the safety of such a new road.

"The subject of the hearing is to take public comment relative to the need for a NEW public county road from U.S. 41 north to the AAA road. We understand that the county is not presenting any alternatives -- but rather just wants to query the public about the NEED for a new county road," Pryor notes (emphasis hers). "There will not be a safe route for the public whether on an old road or a NEW road -- but have them haul their ore on existing roads and not create a new road through our last remaining wild places for a short-term mining operation on the Yellow Dog Plains."

*Editor's Note: See our Oct. 4 announcement of the Oct. 7 special meeting / public hearing in Ishpeming.

** According to Save the Wild UP, the purpose of this new road is to allow hauling ore to the old Humboldt Mill. For an April 22 Mining Journal article by John Pepin on opposition to the former Woodland Road, click here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Michael J. Shupe's photography to be October exhibit at Community Arts Center

Lake Superior landscape by Michael J. Shupe. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © and courtesy Michael J. Shupe)

HANCOCK -- Local artist Mike Shupe has been photographing creatures in their natural habitat and extraordinary views of the landscape for many years. His work provides an intimate look at birds and animals as well as expansive views of the lake and landscape. He is the owner of M.J. Shupe Photography and The Studio on Quincy Street in Hancock.

The Community Arts Center will host an exhibition of Shupe's photography in the Kerredge Gallery with an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8. The exhibition will continue through Oct. 30.

This landscape photo by Michael J. Shupe shows the lake in a different mood. (Photo © and courtesy Michael J. Shupe)

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information call 482-2333.

Editor's Note: To learn more about M.J. Shupe Photography and see more photos visit

Reflection Gallery to host collaborative women's art exhibit, "Balance," Oct. 6 - 31

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery will host a collaborative exhibit of work by Michigan women artists Oct. 6 to Oct. 31, 2010. Titled "Balance: An Artist’s Collaborative Game," the exhibit was organized by the Michigan chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art.

Sculpture by Barbara Melnik Carson. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Reflection Gallery. Refreshments will be served.

A public lecture titled "Connectivity and Feminism" will be presented by Brenda Oelbaum, president of the Michigan chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus.

Oelbaum will speak about her inspirations and influences, her communities, and how they affect her art and her growth as an artist, a feminist, and an activist.

"As an Artist, Mother, Wife, I am constantly multi-tasking, which is the nature of being female," Oelbaum said.

Therefore she considers the ability to find community and to make connections very important in her imagery and thought process as well as in her everyday life, Oelbaum added.

A classically trained painter, Oelbaum currently works in mixed media and considers herself a Feminist Activist Artist.

Collaboration for the "Balance" exhibit began in January 2010 when participating artists were matched to create nineteen collaborative teams. The teams combined older, established artists with younger, emerging ones; painters with mixed-media sculptors; West Michigan artists with Detroit artists.

Painting by Barbara Goodsitt. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

A thought-provoking, stimulating body of work has emerged and new artist networks have blossomed through the process.

Each artist began by producing an original piece based on the idea of balance. Pieces were then swapped, and the artists worked from their teammate’s original image to create a new work in response. The result is both exciting and challenging as participants stretched their imaginations and repertories to respond to their partners’ images.

The theme of balance sparked many interpretations touching on subjects as varied as domestic life, the environment, politics and religion. Works evoke both humor and melancholy, and range from abstract to representational. Media includes paintings, installations, and more. All four pieces of each artist pair are displayed, giving viewers an inside look at the collaborative process.

"Balance" was first exhibited in the Duderstadt Center at the University of Michigan in May 2010, followed by a show at the River’s Edge Gallery, Wyandotte. The Reflection Gallery is the third stop on its journey. The show concludes this December at the Holland Area Arts Council.

Both the lecture and the reception are free and open to the public.

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus. For additional information, contact Yueh-mei Cheng, professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or

Enjoy fall colors ... Send us your best color season photo!

Fall colors have been beautiful these past few days. Enjoy them while they last. Do you have a favorite Keweenaw color season photo taken this fall? Send it to us as a jpeg attachment at Please include a name for the photo credit since we hope to put the best ones in a slide show next month (for non-professional photographers). Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Portage Library welcomes Early Childhood Resource Collection

HOUGHTON -- Christmas will arrive early this autumn as the Copper Country Great Start Collaborative and the Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center introduce a new community resource for those seeking early childhood information and educational toys. The Collaborative serves Houghton, Baraga and Keweenaw counties.

What began as hundreds of boxes towering in a clearinghouse storage space will now come to life in the hands of young children, families, providers, and the general public throughout the Copper Country. An Open House and Early Childhood Resource Library Kickoff to celebrate the acquisition of these resources will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the Portage Lake District Library. Refreshments will be served and door prizes will be given away.

The Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center/4Cs of the U.P. (Community Coordinated Childcare) received funding from the State of Michigan’s Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) to make this project possible.

According to Debra Dupras, Project Leader at The Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center/4Cs of the U.P., "Six public libraries have each received more than 150 books and 80 games, puzzles, puppets, and other hands-on learning tools. The new collections are valued at $10,000 each. It has been a collaborative effort with local public libraries and Great Start Collaborative groups throughout the region that has made this dream a reality."

The new Early Childhood Resource Library Collection offers books related to infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. Sample topics covered are ages and stages of development, behavior, language, and literacy. Providers, caregivers, and parents will find resources on family literacy, early childhood development, childcare, health, safety, and nutrition. Every user will have an opportunity to learn through play with games, puzzles, puppets, music, CDs, and DVDs. The locations, accessibility, and natural connection of learning associated with public libraries have given this project a "Great Start" for developing an ongoing community resource.

Shawn Leche, Portage Lake District Library director, supports the collaborative effort.

"We view early literacy as an essential component in our mission. Reading is a portal to a child’s future," he said.

Heather Store, Copper Country Great Start Collaborative parent liaison, notes the Collaborative is working to ensure that all parents and caregivers have access to these early childhood development resources available at community libraries.

"We want all children to receive resources they need as early learners to ensure their success in life," Store said.

The materials will be available to everyone through local public libraries. In addition to the Portage Lake District Library, Great Start Collaborative materials have been placed in the Peter White Public Library in Marquette County, Dickinson County Public Library, Ironwood Carnegie Library in Gogebic County, Spies Public Library in Menominee County, and Gladstone Public School Library in Delta County.

Everyone is invited to attend this event. For more information, please call the Portage Lake District Library at 482-4570, the Great Start Regional Child Care Resource Center,4Cs of the U.P. at 906-228-3362 or 1-877-614-7328, or visit

Recent endorsements for Gary McDowell, 1st District Congressional candidate

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard), 1st District Congressional candidate, recently received two important endorsements for his campaign -- one from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) and one from Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee).

NCPSSM announced on Oct. 1, 2010, its endorsement for Gary McDowell in the race for Congress in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, highlighting his "leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans."

In a letter to McDowell, NCPSSM President and CEO Barbara Kennelly expressed the national organization’s strong support on behalf of the organization’s politically aware and active membership:

"Our nation needs your leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families. You are well-prepared to serve the needs of seniors and as your record clearly shows, you make the preservation of Social Security and Medicare a priority in office."

Social Security and Medicare have become key issues in the 1st District race, with McDowell pledging to protect the programs while Republican Dan Benishek and Independent Glenn Wilson advocate for privatization. Benishek has expressed his support for privatizing and abolishing the programs on tape numerous times, calling Social Security "a disaster," advocating for "gradually phasing out the Medicare and the Social Security plan" and clearly stating "privatizing Social Security and Medicare is the only way to do it."

McDowell, however, has emphasized his support for Social Security from the beginning of his campaign.*

"I appreciate the support of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and their many members across northern Michigan. I am absolutely committed to protecting Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations, which is why I have pledged to oppose any and all efforts to privatize Social Security, reduce benefits or raise the retirement age," McDowell said. "Social Security is a sacred trust for all Americans but it is particularly important here in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, where 26 percent of all residents receive Social Security benefits and 21 percent are on Medicare."

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is the nation’s leading advocacy group to protect Social Security and Medicare with a goal "to protect, preserve, promote, and ensure the financial security, health, and the well being of current and future generations of maturing Americans."

Stupak endorses McDowell to succeed him in 1st District Congressional seat

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak on Sept. 30, 2010, formally announced his support for State Representative Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard) in the race to succeed him in Congress. Stupak has represented Michigan’s 1st Congressional District for the past 18 years, longer than any other congressman in the district’s history. Stupak, who plans to make campaign appearances with McDowell in October, said McDowell is the best candidate to continue the fight for northern Michigan in Congress.

"Gary McDowell is by far the best candidate to represent northern Michigan in Congress," Stupak said. "Gary is honest, trustworthy, hardworking, dedicated and determined. His experience as a farmer, UPS driver, public servant, husband, father and grandfather provide him with the experience and life skills necessary to be an effective advocate for the people of Michigan’s 1st District. Gary’s dedication and commitment to public service and his tenacity in fighting for what he believes in will serve us well in Congress.

"I have worked side by side with Gary on many issues. When Canadian sewage was polluting the St. Mary’s River and the beaches of Sugar Island, we worked together to force our Canadian counterparts to accept responsibility and take corrective action. While I fought to secure federal grants to encourage the Mascoma company to construct a cellulosic ethanol plant in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, Gary was fighting just as hard at the state level.**

"Gary has pledged to continue the fight to protect our Great Lakes, bring new businesses and jobs to our communities, preserve Social Security and Medicare, and protect the pensions and benefits our workers and veterans have earned. Gary will continue to fight for funding to construct the new Soo lock; he will work to increase investment in our roads, bridges and waterways; and he will continue to support quality education for our children and families.

"Together we have accomplished a great deal. However, much more work remains to be done. The people of northern Michigan need a strong leader who will continue to fight for us in Washington. Northern Michigan needs Gary McDowell!"

Editor's Notes:
* Gary McDowell spoke about his commitment to Social Security during his visit with Houghton County Democrats last August. See our Sept. 10 article, "Gary McDowell, congressional candidate, visits Houghton County Dems."

** Read about cellulosic ethanol and the founder of Mascoma in this
2007 article from Wired Magazine. See also our 2008 posting of Michigan Tech's announcement of its partnership in the Mascoma plant near Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Opinion: Dollars and Doors

From Lift Bridges and Mine Shafts (a progressive blog by Houghton County Democrats)

By Elise Matz*

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance politics gets your blood pumping. You read the paper, you know the candidates, you know the issues. Maybe you even shout at the TV sometimes, at Michelle Malkin or Glenn Beck. This is only natural. You are not alone.

But this is only a slice of the big picture, the political pizza, if you will. We get fired up by reading newspapers and blogs, and watching cable news -- but the really important business of politics is far more mundane ... Read more on the Lift Bridges and Mine Shafts blog.

*Author Elise Matz wrote this article on Oct. 2, 2010.

Marquette Road Commission to hold special meeting / public hearing Oct. 7

ISHPEMING -- The Board of County Road Commissioners of Marquette County, Michigan, will hold a special meeting / public hearing on Thursday, October 7, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). The meeting will be held at the Ishpeming Township Hall, 1575 U.S. 41 West, Ishpeming, MI.

The purpose of the special meeting / public hearing is, but is not limited to, the development of a new public road from County Road FY to County Road IAA.

Human rights accompaniers needed in Guatemala

HANCOCK -- The Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP) of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) trains and places qualified candidates as human rights accompaniers.

Accompaniers work as human rights observers, providing an international presence to Guatemalans organizing in defense of their rights in a variety of contexts, including precedent-setting genocide cases and local opposition to mega-projects. Accompaniment is one tool used in response to the threats, harassment and violence faced by survivors of Guatemala's 36-year-long civil war, grassroots organizations working for justice and indigenous communities combating destructive mega-development projects on their land.

The next training will be held in January 2011 in the Bay Area, California. The application deadline is Oct. 31, 2010. For more information please visit

To learn how you can help, even if you cannot be an accompanier, visit the Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP) at and learn about their work.

Ed Gray Gallery seeks entries for Nov. fiber show

CALUMET --The Ed Gray Gallery will hold a fiber show during the month of November. Fiber artists who wish to enter may bring three pieces for consideration for this juried show. All items must be available for sale. The deadline for entry is October 27. For more information, call the gallery at 337-5970.

The Ed Gray Gallery is at 109 Fifth St. in Calumet.

Women's chorus seeks new members

HOUGHTON -- Noteworthy, a four-part women's barbershop chorus, is welcoming new members. The first practice of the fall will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on Quincy Street in Hancock.

No auditions are required, just a love of singing. Rehearsals are held weekly from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The repertoire includes religious and secular songs.

For more information, contact director Joan Petrelius at 482-5088 or 482-0871.