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 30, 2010

Rozsa Gallery to host exhibit, lecture by Susanne Kilpela

HOUGHTON -- The "Creating Out Loud" exhibit, by Susanne Kilpela, will be displayed from Nov. 1 through Jan. 3 in the Rozsa Art Gallery.

The exhibit will display a metamorphosis of two-dimensional to three-dimensional art; it will end with objects of clay made right in the gallery itself. It will question and celebrate the process of the creative mind. The opening reception is at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 1.

Kilpela will also give a lecture, "The Process: A Discussion About Creativity," at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 2, in the gallery.

She will discuss creativity in the modern world and many of the themes that affect us all, including popular myths and beliefs about creativity and the importance of the creative process outside of the arts. Kilpela has taught classes for six years at Michigan Tech in 2-D art, 3-D art, art history and ceramics.

The exhibit, reception and lecture are free and open to the public.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race caps off local cycling season

By Christopher Schmidt*

Tim Kostner of the Red Jacket Cycling Team negotiates an obstacle in the Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race held in Copper Harbor Oct. 23-24. Kostner won a third-place bronze medal in the men's A class. (Photo © 2010 and courtesy Christopher Schmidt)

COPPER HARBOR -- Capping off the end of another great cycling season, Copper Harbor was the site of the third annual Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race presented by Houghton’s Red Jacket Cycling Team. More than sixty racers from Duluth to Skandia participated in the two-day event, Oct. 23-24, which again featured venues in downtown Copper Harbor and the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Contested over short courses approximately one mile in length for a fixed period of time, typically 30 to 45 minutes depending on gender and ability, the races are fast, furious and exciting down to the wire.

Chris Uchytil lifts his bike over a challenging barrier during the recent Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race in Copper Harbor.

Not only were racers competing for top honors in the Keweenaw, but, as the Cup is part of the seven-race UPCROSS points series, racers were also looking to collect points for the season-long series which starts in late September and concludes with the U.P. State Cyclocross Championships in November.

The Keweenaw Cup opened last Saturday, Oct. 23, with the Downtown Hoedown in the center of Copper Harbor, where nearly 50 racers competed. Sending racers on a flat, meandering, and obstacle-laden course featuring chicanes, barriers, singletrack, sand trap, and an off-camber turn with potential water hazard, the Cup got off to a blazing start under sunny skies.

Race action moved up the hill Sunday morning to the historic Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for the Top of the World Smackdown. In a move designed to give racers on traditional cyclocross bikes an edge over those on mountain bikes, race organizers opted to make the day’s race as fast as possible by including several hundred meters of paved cart path and dirt road. All things being equal, racers with the more narrow tires typically used on cx bikes should, in theory at least, have proven faster on the course. All things are not, of course, equal in a 'cross race, least of all fate. Flat tires, broken chains and flailing elbows are an omnipresent danger that can turn a race on its head in the blink of an eye.

In the final overall standings, top honors in the women’s B category went to Tammi Lehto of Houghton, followed by Mary Connor of Marquette and E. Voschkl, also of Marquette.

In the highly contested women’s A category, Nicole Alexander of Marquette was crowned Keweenaw Cup champion. Christina Bennett of Marquette placed second and Kari Gates of Duluth finished third.

Taking home the Cup in the men’s C class was Bruce Harvey of Houghton. Second was awarded to Bruce Pletka of Houghton and third went to Finn Whalen of Marquette.

Ryan Tervo (background) is close behind Mik Kilpela as they both cross a difficult double barrier during the third annual Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race.

Claiming his first Keweenaw Cup in the men’s B class was Red Jacket Cycling Team rider Kit Cischke of Houghton, followed by Jeremy Pletka and Ian Marks of Marquette and Houghton, respectively.

And, overall champion in the men’s A class was Culvers Cycling Team rider Tyler Gauthier, who won each of the two individual races. Aaron Swanson, current leader in the UPCROSS standings took home second. Tim Kostner (Red Jacket Cycling Team) took home the bronze.

The Red Jacket Cycling Team would like to thank racers and spectators for traveling the extra distance to Copper Harbor. We’d also like to thank the Copper Harbor Trails Club for their support, Michigan Tech, Computer Mechanix, John Ollila and his dog Toivo, The Bike Shop, BlueSky Health, Banjo Brothers Bags, the village of Copper Harbor, The Mariner North and, last but not least, The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge for making the 2010 Keweenaw Cup possible.

More details and photos of the race are available at For results of the races Click here.

*Editor's Note: Guest author and photographer Christopher Schmidt is one of the organizers for the Keweenaw Cup cyclocross race.

Just in time for Halloween: Michigan Tech Students solve Paulding Light mystery

By Marcia Goodrich

HOUGHTON -- Cue the bats and spooky music. We are about to delve into one of Michigan’s most alluring mysteries. It’s so alluring, in fact, that it draws a steady stream of pilgrims of the paranormal to the dot-in-the-road town of Paulding all summer long, and into the winter too, just to hang out on the edge of the woods to watch and wait.

They come to catch a glimpse of the Paulding Light, and they are rarely disappointed. The light (or lights; sometimes they come in groups) appears in a valley near Robbins Pond Road. It was even featured this year on the SyFy television show "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files."

The lights are definitely not faked, says Jeremy Bos, a PhD candidate student in electrical engineering at Michigan Technological University. But neither are they ghostly lanterns of a railroad brakeman killed trying to stop an oncoming train, as one of the many legends goes.

Bos organized the investigation of the Paulding Light mystery, working with students in the University’s student chapter of SPIE, a professional society devoted to the study of optics and photonics. Last May, the group was looking for a project that would be both fun and educational. "I thought, 'What about the Paulding Light?'" Bos said.

Read more on the Michigan Tech News ...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Walk to call attention to proposed County Road 595 to be Oct. 30,31

MARQUETTE -- A walk to bring attention to the Marquette Road Commission's decision to create County Road 595 will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30 and 31.

On Saturday, the 11-mile walk will begin at 10 a.m. sharp from the Marquette County Road Commission Headquarters in Ishpeming (near Ralph's Italian Deli on the corner of 2nd St. and Hwy 41) to Koski's Korner (Rte 95 and Hwy 41, at the BP gas station. There is a public parking area on the NW corner along Rte 95).

On Sunday, a 12-mile walk will leave at 10 a.m. sharp from Koski's Korner to Michigamme -- from the public parking area (NW corner of Rte 95 at Hwy 41) to the village of Michigamme.

Join for as much or as little as you can. Participants will walk on the shoulder of Hwy 41.

Blessings at Middle Branch Escanaba River and Peshekee River.

a. Sorry, no children allowed; it is too dangerous for them.
b. You are responsible for your own transportation -- shuttling or carpooling.
c. You MUST wear a blaze-orange or yellow vest. NO EXCEPTIONS.
d. No facemasks allowed. You are welcome to wear a Halloween costume, if you so desire; but please be careful that you do not endanger yourself by doing such.
e. You are welcome to carry a sign; however, no foul language.
f. Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes, appropriate clothing and bring raingear.
g. Single file when approaching Champion and Michigamme -- the curves are dangerous.
h. Bring lots of water and pack a lunch.

Justice Center Committee to hold last public information meeting Oct. 28

HOUGHTON -- The Justice Center Committee will host their last public information session at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton. Concerned citizens are encouraged to attend and ask questions.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

President Bill Clinton boosts Bernero heading into home stretch

At an Oct. 24 Rally in Detroit, President Bill Clinton stands with Virg Bernero, gubernatorial candidate and mayor of Lansing. Clinton touted Bernero's record of balanced budgets and job creation to the crowd. (Photo courtesy Reprinted with permission.)


DETROIT -- President Bill Clinton stood with gubernatorial candidate and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero to urge Michigan voters to elect a governor with a proven record and a real plan to turn Michigan’s economy around.

Standing before a crowd at Detroit’s Renaissance High School on Sunday, Oct. 24, President Clinton encouraged Democrats, independents and Republicans who care about Michigan’s future to bring their friends and family members out to vote for Bernero. Clinton cited Virg’s record of balancing the budget every year without a tax increase, putting Lansing in the top ten cities in the country in job growth and his unwavering fight for everyday people as reasons he strongly supports Mayor Bernero.

President Clinton warned that special interests and out-of-state Republican groups are pouring millions into the Michigan governor’s race because on most issues Bernero's Republican opponent, Rick Snyder, is in lock-step with his party, intent on restoring an extreme ideology that put Michigan in the situation it's in today.

President Clinton is in demand from candidates across the country but chose to campaign for Bernero because of his strong advocacy for regular people and because he believes Mayor Bernero is closing the gap in the polls just as he did in the primary and will secure an exciting come-from-behind-win as he did before. President Clinton’s support provides Bernero with a tremendous burst of momentum heading into the campaign’s homestretch.

See also the Detroit Free Press article on this Oct. 24 Rally.

E.L. Wright Building to celebrate 100th anniversary with Open House Oct. 30

HANCOCK -- The E.L. Wright Building in Hancock will celebrate its 100th anniversary with an Open House from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30. The E.L. Wright Building, a former elementary school, is at 801 N. Lincoln Drive (U.S. 41) in Hancock.

Artist Joyce Koskenmaki, fashion designer and artist Andrea Puzakulich of Distant Drum Designs and photographer Adam Johnson of Brockit Inc. invite the public to their studios in the building.

Refreshments everywhere!

See Keweenaw Now guest writer Kate Flynn's Aug. 8, 2010, article on these three artists and their studios in the E.L. Wright Building.

Learn more about the artists by visiting their Web sites:, and

Shaft and Junior Shaft Exhibit deadline for entries is Oct. 30

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center's 17th annual "Shaft" and "Junior Shaft" community exhibits on mining will take place November 3-30 in the Community Arts Center's Kerredge Gallery and the Youth Art Gallery.

Artists are invited to submit work inspired by mining in the Copper Country, the physical signs of its presence or the effect it has had on the area and its people. This is a non-juried community exhibit. The deadline for entry is 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. Entry forms are available at the Copper Country Community Arts Center.

The reception for the Shaft and Junior Shaft is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, at the CCCAC annual meeting open house. Cash prizes will be awarded by public choice and will be announced the first week in December. Voting will take place throughout the month of the November.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Call 482-2333 for more information and entry fee details.

Bernero holds "Save Our Bridge" Rally at Mackinac Bridge to oppose Snyder plan to sell it

Gubernatorial Candidate Virg Bernero. (Photo courtesy Reprinted with permission.)

ST. IGNACE, Mich. -- Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero and a throng of supporters stood at the Upper Peninsula foot of the Mackinac Bridge today, Oct. 26, to hold a "Save the Bridge" rally and oppose plans to sell off the Bridge to a private corporation.

Bernero’s opponent, Rick Snyder, said recently that he would consider selling off the Mackinac Bridge as a way to make short-term money for the State.

"I strongly disagree with Mr. Snyder on this. I will not consider selling off the Mackinac Bridge for one second," said Bernero. "The Mackinac Bridge is one of our state’s most cherished symbols. This would be like selling out a piece of who we are as Michiganders."

The Mackinac Bridge is one of Michigan’s most well-known icons -- so recognizable and filled with meaning for Michigan residents that Rick Snyder uses an image of the Bridge in his latest TV attack ad on Bernero. It’s ironic Snyder now says he may sell off the Bridge.

Privatizing the Mackinac Bridge would likely mean substantially higher tolls for bridge travelers. As it stands now, tolls are only enough to cover Bridge operations, but a private company would seek to profit off bridge travelers and would need to raise tolls substantially and/or or cut jobs or maintenance to do that.

And the company who bought the Bridge could also own naming rights, meaning they could sell the name as is done with football stadiums and college football bowl games.

"If Mr. Snyder sells the Bridge to an out of state or foreign company, it would mean higher tolls, lost jobs and Michigan dollars leaving our economy," Bernero said. "If Rick Snyder becomes governor the Bridge could even be renamed something like the '' Bridge, or the 'McDonald’s Big Mac.' It’s funny to think about, but unfortunately Mr. Snyder is dead serious. It makes you wonder what other state treasures he might sell off."

State governments across the country have begun selling major highways and other infrastructure to corporations as a quick-fix way to plug holes in the state budget, rather than making government more efficient. By the beginning of 2009, 15 major roads had been privatized in 10 states with more under discussion.

For example, Republican Governor and former George W. Bush Administration official Mitch Daniels -- whom Rick Snyder has said he hopes to emulate -- successfully pushed to have Indiana’s toll roads auctioned off in 2006. Since then, tolls have doubled, increasing for the first time since 1985, jobs have been cut, and Indiana taxpayers will ultimately lose an estimated $7.2 billion as a result of the deal.

"We need to stop looking for quick fixes to our budget problems," said Bernero. "It's time to cut government and make it more efficient. That’s what I’ve done to balance the budget without raising taxes every single year I’ve been mayor."

Not surprisingly, Wall Street players are cashing in on the new wave of privatization of public assets. In fact, Goldman Sachs is serving as an adviser to states on how to structure privatization deals, while simultaneously positioning itself to invest in the new toll road market.

Bernero closed today’s event telling the crowd there is one simple thing each Michigander can do to save the Mackinac Bridge.

"If you want to save the Mackinac Bridge, you just have to vote for Virg Bernero for governor on November 2nd," he said.

Stupak: Snyder's comments on privatizing Mackinac Bridge "totally unacceptable"

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) released the following statement concerning the remarks made by Republican candidate for governor, Rick Snyder, regarding the privatization of Michigan public assets, such as the Mackinac Bridge:

"The recent declaration by Rick Snyder that 'everything is on the table' when it comes to privatizing vital Michigan public assets, such as the sale of the Mackinac Bridge located in the 1st congressional district, is totally unacceptable."

"The Mackinac Bridge is a true symbol of Michigan, recognized throughout the world. It belongs to the people of Michigan. To attempt to sell the bridge to a private company would only lead to increased tolls on residents and tourists.

"Given Mr. Snyder's recent comments regarding the privatization of essential public services, who knows what other important Michigan resources Mr. Snyder would be willing to sell-off, perhaps our Great Lakes water?

"I have spent my entire career in public service protecting our Great Lakes and ensuring that this natural resource is owned, maintained, and protected by the people. The citizens of Michigan rely on the lakes for their livelihoods, recreation,
tourism, and drinking water. Great Lakes water is not for sale! I am concerned that Mr. Snyder would be open to the idea of auctioning off this precious resource to the highest bidder and taking away yet another vital resource that belongs to the people of Michigan."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Opponents of proposed "public" mine haul road call for more public input

At their Oct. 18 meeting in Ishpeming, members of the Marquette County Road Commission hear public comments on a proposed new county road, now referred to as County Road 595. (Photos © 2010 and courtesy Teresa Bertossi)

By Michele Bourdieu

ISHPEMING -- After nearly two hours of public comments -- most of them in opposition to a proposed new Marquette County road to run from US 41 and County Road FY northerly to County Road IAA, the Marquette County Road Commission voted on Oct. 18, 2010, to move forward with this road, which they named County Road 595.

Opponents of the road called for a public forum to be held in Marquette and to include Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (KEMC), the presumed funding source for this public road, which was proposed after the Woodland Road, a private haul road for KEMC, failed to receive permits from federal and state regulating agencies last spring.

James Iwanicki, Road Commission engineer-manager, read his official recommendation for the road, which acknowledged some of the obstacles and impacts that had prevented Rio Tinto - Kennecott from obtaining permits for their proposed Woodland Road and which also included statements that drew objections from the public.

During the public comment period of the Marquette County Road Commission's Oct. 18 meeting, James Iwanicki, right, Marquette County Road Commission engineer-manager, and Darryll Sundberg, Marquette County Road Commission chair, hear public comments on a proposed new road.

"This project involves some legitimate environmental concerns," Iwanicki said. "The project will decrease potential truck traffic in the city of Marquette, County Road 550 and the US 41 corridor. The public highway safety as well as the public emergency services will benefit from this project. There are short-term and long-term financial considerations involved in the design, construction and maintenance of this project. It must be noted that, if the board decides to move forward with this project, this is just the start of a decision-making process."

The Road Commission also approved a motion to have their staff contract with legal counsel to develop written partnerships needed to design, build and maintain County Road 595. Staff time is currently budgeted in the 2011 budget, they said.

While comments in favor of this road seemed to dominate the Oct. 7 public hearing, only a few persons spoke in favor of it during the Oct. 18 Road Commission meeting. The majority of those making public comments at this meeting seemed to hold the opinion that this "public" road is primarily a haul road for Rio Tinto - Kennecott, since the route it is to take, while still vague, appears to connect the Eagle Mine site at its north end with the Humboldt mill where it meets US 41 at its south end.

Two statements in Iwanicki's recommendation define the road's main purpose: "Whereas, the purpose of the new all-season county primary road is to provide enhanced year-round vehicle access to the adjoining lands in the north central portion of Marquette County,

"Whereas, this new road will provide additional recreational opportunities to the public as well as provide a direct benefit to the timber, mining, and gravel industries."

Residents challenged the Road Commissioners for proposing a public road in the same general area as the Woodland Road, yet not providing a map to show details of the route; for possibly illegally accepting Kennecott's private financing of this road; for potentially jeopardizing water and forest resources in an ecologically sensitive area of the county; for proposing to build a costly road for a company that would only be here a short time when the county has insufficient funds to maintain its other roads; for presenting the road as a benefit for recreation when its main use would be industrial.

Cynthia Pryor questioned why the Road Commission would want to take on the responsibility of this road when Kennecott had such difficulties with the permitting process for the Woodland Road. She also noted the process for obtaining public comment was unfair to citizens because only one public hearing was held and it was held in Ishpeming Township.

Cynthia Pryor addresses the Marquette County Road Commission during their Oct. 18 meeting. She called for a public forum to include Kennecott and to be held in Marquette.

"This is a Marquette County decision," Pryor said. "This decision should be (made) at the Marquette County seat."

Pryor said the Road Commission should have further discussion with a wider audience. She mentioned a TV-6 poll of 50-50 for and against this road.

"You do not have the public's will on this road, and I would advise you to have another meeting," Pryor said. "You need more input."

Citing a booklet of the County Road Association, Pryor noted they list many ways to fund new road projects, not including private funding.

"County Boards have the authority -- with voter approval -- to raise revenues dedicated to road funding," she noted. "There ought to be a voter process -- and not just one corporation -- a multi-national corporation -- taking control of this process."

Pryor observed also that the public has no idea of the route of this new road -- where it is or what its implications are -- and that if the Road Commission intended to condemn any private property for this road it would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution to condemn land for private gain. She also noted safety issues had not yet been discussed. Large trucks on steep grades with heavy loads could present safety issues should tourists attempt to use this road.

"This is a Kennecott haul road," Pryor said.

Margaret Comfort told the Road Commissioners she wanted to see documentation on how this public road for a multi-national corporation came about -- documentation on how it became, over time, a "necessity." She said she agreed with Pryor that the citizens of the whole county should have input, because it would not just be about one road.

"Have you ever seen a situation where there's just one road?" she asked. "No. One road leads to two roads, leads to three roads, on and on. And before you know it, you have a patchwork."

Comfort suggested the Commission consider that perhaps a railroad would be preferable to a road.

Amy Conover of Marquette asked that the County Board put stringent regulations on vehicles that would transport ore from the mine site to any processing plant.

"The only safe means of transport would realistically be in an air-tight and impenetrable container that would remain intact in the event of a vehicle roll-over," Conover said. "This is to protect the environment and lives of our citizens and children and unborn children -- pregnant women and young children being the most susceptible to the type of toxins that would be released into the environment from open, exposed ores putting dust into the air."

Conover noted also that the Great Lakes contain 18-20 percent of the world's fresh water supply. Adding toxins here to Lake Superior, which feeds into the other Great Lakes, will impact the water supply of a world that is already losing fresh water because of melting glaciers and pollution -- a world that has already lost half of its wetlands, just in the 20th century.

This mining project, she observed, is driven by greed and monetary value, not the human rights to clean air and water. She presented the commissioners with a report on the cost to Michigan of diseases caused by environmental exposure.

Tom Polkinghorn of Champion said he wished to respond to some of the comments made by proponents of the road at the Oct. 7 public hearing.* He referred to comments on needing a job, wanting one's children to have a job and stay here, loving the area, a logger saying this is not wilderness, etc. Polkinghorn, who is now retired, said he grew up here but had to leave the area to find employment.

Addressing the arguments for jobs previously expressed by road proponents, Tom Polkinghorn of Champion states, during the Oct. 18 Road Commission meeting, his opposition to a road that would destroy areas of solitude and to a mine that offers only unsustainable jobs and opposes unions.

Polkinghorn said he opposes this road because in leaving this area he came to appreciate what he missed about this place. Once this road is built, people will no longer be able to enjoy areas of solitude, to fish on the rivers that now have no road crossings, to canoe or kayak on lakes in the area without seeing or hearing truck traffic or even to ride their four-wheelers and snowmobiles from Champion to Big Bay without crossing a paved road.

"Mining is simply not a sustainable economy," he said. "The area is now littered with dying communities that were all tied to mining."

Polkinghorn also asked the commissioners to note that "this company has a profound anti-union stance and is a leader in robotic mining."

Joe Derocha, Humboldt Township supervisor, again spoke of his township board's support of the road. He noted the Humboldt mill, a 40-acre Brownfield project, would be doing milling operations for the Kennecott mine -- offering great economic potential for Humboldt Township.

"That's why I'm here tonight -- to create jobs in our township," he said. "It isn't very often that we get an opportunity to have private dollars build a public road."

Susan Fawcett of Marquette said the reason she moved up here was because you can walk through so many beautiful places without seeing a road. She said what makes this place so special for her is its inaccessibility. She can hike for miles through places that are beautiful because you can't drive a truck through them.

Susan Fawcett of Marquette gives reasons why she loves hiking in the area where the proposed road may be built. Seated in foreground at left, taking notes, is Matt Johnson, Rio Tinto - Kennecott's Government and Community Relations manager.

"This road that you propose will cut right through the middle of what I think is one of the most beautiful places on earth," she said. "Because it's going through the highlands, it's crossing at the headwaters of all of these rivers that are flowing out there. It's compromising them from their very source."

Fawcett said the mine companies would be here only a short time, would leave people without jobs -- and the damage they do is going to be irreversible.

Marquette County Commissioner Deborah Pellow repeated the County Board's support of the road. She said having a private company pay for a public road would not be unusual. It would be no different from a developer paying for a road in a subdivision.

Gerald Corkin, Marquette County Commission chair, said he was also representing Negaunee Township in support of the road. He said people had complained about trucks coming down 550 and now that the company offers this alternative people are complaining about other problems. This road would be a lot safer, he said.

"Common sense tells you it makes sense, and I hope you can find an acceptable environmental solution to it," Corkin added. "I encourage you to move forward."

William Malmsten, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) president, said Rio Tinto and the Marquette County Board are asking the Road Commission to do something that is fundamentally dishonest -- to build a road under the false pretense that it is a public road when it is really almost the same as Rio Tinto's private (Woodland) Road, a road through a water-rich environment -- that was objected to by both federal and state regulators. Malmsten said details of Rio Tinto's financial commitment of 50 to 80 million dollars for construction of this new road -- such as support of Road Commission staff time, snow removal, length of time for the support, etc. -- are not clear. The Road Commission already has insufficient funds to maintain existing roads in Marquette County, and the public has a right to the answers to these questions, he noted.

William Malmsten, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), addresses Marquette Road Commissioners on the lack of clarity in Rio Tinto - Kennecott's funding of this public road.

"It would seem premature to approve a project when you haven't lined up how the funding is going to be managed," Malmsten said.

Daryl Wilcox, Powell Township supervisor, said he did not vote for his township's resolution to support this road because he did not want to support a dead-end road that would end only seven miles from CR 550. The people of Big Bay, who live only 10 miles from the mine, would not have a connection to this road as long as the AAA and 510 are seasonal roads.

"What's going to happen when Kennecott leaves?" Wilcox asked. "It's hard for the people who live up there to have something so close to you and not know if you're going to benefit from it."

Kristi Mills of Big Bay, Save the Wild UP director, presented the Road Commission with a petition asking them to table this decision and relocate Road Commission meetings on this project to the City of Marquette where they can be accessed by the majority of the population. The petition had 238 signatures of which about 147 were online. Mills said the public needs an open door for discussion, research and maps showing where the road will be -- not just an outline of a 4-mile corridor "somewhere out there." People need more time and a plan to comment on, she said.

"We've already heard from EPA and other agencies that have weighed in on this issue and said that area is too sensitive for this type of project," Mills noted. "I'm not sure (if Kennecott couldn't receive permits for the Woodland Road) why the county thinks that they can get the same type of permitting."

Timothy Jones of Ishpeming presented himself and his young son as people who would be directly impacted by the proposed road, since his family spends time hunting, fishing and biking between Gander Lake and Wildcat Canyon.

Timothy Jones of Ishpeming, pictured here at the Oct. 18 Road Commission meeting with his son, said his family would lose recreational opportunities if this road goes through.

"It breaks my heart really to think that entire area of the county that we've enjoyed so much since we moved over here could be so tragically changed," Jones said. "Tourism and recreation are really the long-term solution for our economic problems."

Jon Saari, UPEC board member, said he realized the Road Commission is in a tough spot, but this road is being rushed through -- without due consideration of whether there are more jobs to be had from improving existing roads.

"I live up there," Saari said. "In 10 years this is going to be a road to nowhere. Why? because it's a 5-6-foot snow pack up there."

Saari noted this area would never become a settlement area and after Kennecott leaves the Road Commission wouldn't be able to maintain this road. The proposed new road would have the same problem as the Woodland Road as far as obtaining permits from regulating agencies, he added.

"Let's take the 50-80 million from Kennecott and do something useful with it for our existing road structure," he said. "The same headwaters country and that upper 10 miles are going to be rejected by the federal agencies and are what make most environmentalists rabid and disbelieving that so many people in this county apparently are willing to sacrifice that area," Saari said.

He suggested two alternatives for improving existing roads instead of building this road: improving the Peshekee grade or connecting the 510 and AAA with the lower 10 miles of the Woodland Road.

Gabriel Caplett of Skandia said he'd like to see some real information to back up the position that this road will benefit the people -- traffic studies, safety studies, reasons for continued surveys along other routes.

Gabriel Caplett, standing, of Skandia asks the Road Commissioners for documents on how this road will benefit people.

Catherine Parker of Marquette gave several reasons, supported by her research, why the public does not need this road and why they can't afford it. She also questioned the legality of Kennecott's financial commitment to this public road.

"Has Kennecott, or any other private entity, made financial commitments in advance of a new permitting process? If so, they, and other participating parties, are once again in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act," she said.** (See below for a link to our article presenting Parker's complete statement.)

Teresa Bertossi of Marquette noted comments at the Oct. 7 public hearing in favor of this road were almost entirely about the need for jobs. She spoke about her own family's mining heritage, her miner grandfather's black lung, her family's loss of land to a mining company and struggles to find employment. She gave reasons why mining does not offer sustainable jobs and why it's becoming even less sustainable as it becomes more automated.

"You're completely basing your decision on the support of this for mining jobs, because that's the only support you've received," Bertossi said. "Basically you've chosen to do the bidding of a corporation -- a very bad corporation with a very poor global record."

Tiris Valinlore of Marquette gave the example of Niagara Falls -- the U.S. side with chemical factories next to the Falls vs. the more economically successful and aesthetic Canadian side, developed entirely for tourism -- to demonstrate what happens when you put industry right next to a tourist site.

Tiris Valinlore of Marquette offers the example of Niagara Falls -- the Canadian side vs. the American side -- as an example of how industry and tourism should not be developed side by side. Seated, third from left in yellow jacket, is Marquette County Commissioner Deborah Pellow, who repeated the County Board's support of the road.

"We need to think about other kinds of development because tourism and industrial complexes -- whether chemical factories or mining -- don't go hand in hand," he said.

Kathryn O'Donnell of Marquette said she believed this project threatens the water resources of Marquette County and taking corporate dollars threatens the democracy of Marquette County.

Cynthia Pryor repeated her request to the Road Commissioners to delay their decision. She said she respects them and their work, but she doesn't like to see them doing Kennecott's work.

"I want to see Kennecott come out from behind your skirts," she said. "Where is Kennecott in this process? This needs to be part of a public forum that Kennecott -- if they are going to be funding this -- participates in."

Matt Johnson, Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Government and Community Relations manager, did not speak publicly at the meeting, but did speak with Keweenaw Now afterwards.

"Even though we didn't speak tonight, we're always available for any questions people have," Johnson said.

To a question on whether the ore could be hauled by rail (as had been indicated in the original permit application for the mine), he replied that the idea of the Woodland Road came up when the Humboldt mill became available during the permitting process. It was an opportunity to mill the ore locally and create jobs, Johnson explained.

"Even if a rail was built, a road -- whether it's an existing road or a new road -- would still need to be built," he added. "Kennecott remains interested in investigating transportation routes that meet the needs of our business and the community."

Right now Kennecott has a permit for the route down County Road 550, but at the time an alternate route becomes feasible they will re-define transportation routes in their mine permit, he explained.

"It's not a done deal," Johnson said.

Gail Griffith of Marquette noted after the meeting that the comments heard at this meeting were overwhelmingly opposed to the proposed new road.

"I would like to see them have some public forums, including Kennecott, and hold them in Marquette," she said.

Editor's Notes:
* See our Oct. 15 article on the Oct. 7 public hearing on this proposed new road.
** See our Oct. 21 posting of Catherine Parker's complete comments presented at this Oct. 18 Road Commission meeting: "Is new road for Kennecott truly 'public'?"

Lahti proposes banning Great Lakes drilling, holding oil companies accountable for damage

HANCOCK -- State Senate candidate Mike Lahti today announced his proposal to protect Michigan’s land and water by permanently banning oil drilling in the Great Lakes and holding oil companies accountable to pay for cleanup and damages -- instead of Michigan taxpayers -- when their mistakes harm Michigan’s vital natural resources and the Upper Peninsula way of life. Lahti is running for state Senate in the 38th District, which covers 13 of 15 counties in the U.P.

"The U.P. is unique in that our jobs and our recreation are so dependent on clean lakes, rivers and streams, and pristine forests that an oil spill that pollutes our waters or harms our land would endanger every facet of our lives here," said Mike Lahti. "My plan to ban drilling in the Great Lakes and hold oil companies accountable will help us protect our land and waters for the jobs we have now and for our children so they can stay here in the U.P. to live, work and raise their families."

Lahti’s plan to protect our land and water would:

* Guarantee that oil companies -- not taxpayers -- are required to pay for cleanup and damages when their negligence is responsible for oil spills;
* Permanently ban oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes;
* Allow Michigan citizens to hold oil companies accountable when their actions result in damage;
* Require oil companies to immediately notify the state and area residents, businesses and all other affected property owners of an oil spill.

"My business relies directly on our freshwater, and if an oil company comes up here and pollutes and ruins our water and our land, that will hurt my ability to make a living and support my employees," said Pat Peterson, owner of Peterson’s Fish Market in Hancock. "Mike Lahti’s plan to protect the U.P. means that I can keep working along with all of the other small businesses that rely on visitors, as well as the timber and mining industries that provide good jobs for families and neighbors. Mike has the experience we need in the state Senate to make sure that our natural resources and our way of life here in the U.P. are protected."

In July 2010, an estimated 1 million gallons of oil gushed into the Kalamazoo River, resulting in the Midwest’s largest oil spill ever. The federal government has repeatedly warned Enbridge, the company that owns the pipeline, about the quality of its pipelines. Enbridge pipelines have sprung at least a dozen leaks since 2003, and the company has been cited for other safety and environmental violations in Michigan. However, Enbridge is taking two and a half years to "consider" making necessary repairs or replacing the pipe that spewed oil into the Kalamazoo River and threatened to reach Lake Michigan. Enbridge also owns the Lakehead Pipeline System, which includes a line that runs on the bottom of Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac and across the U.P.

"Mike Lahti understands that protecting our natural resources means that not only will we be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the U.P., but so will our children and their children for generations to come," said Paul Leach, former editor and publisher of Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine. "His plan would protect us from oil spills that would threaten our campgrounds, our fishing, our hunting and all of the small businesses that rely on our outdoor recreation for their livelihoods. We need this kind of protection and Mike Lahti is the only candidate who can deliver it for us."

As the Chair of the House Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, Lahti has fought hard to protect Michigan’s unique natural resources. In the recently completed state budget Lahti successfully won the re-opening of U.P. campgrounds that had been closed due to budget cuts back in 2009. He has also voted to protect our waters from companies that would come in to bottle and sell Great Lakes water to other states, and has fought to keep invasive species like the Asian carp out of Michigan waters.

Mike Lahti is a small business owner and job creator in the U.P. As an insurance agent and developer, he has worked in his community on projects that have built and restored buildings, revitalized downtown and created new businesses. Lahti is a lifelong resident of Hancock and currently serves in the Michigan House of Representatives.

For more information on Lahti’s efforts to protect our land and water, visit

Updated: TV6 to air 1st District Congressional Candidates debate Oct. 26

NEGAUNEE -- A debate among the six candidates for the First Congressional District seat being vacated by Congressman Bart Stupak will be broadcast from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26 on TV6, WLUC.

The candidates are Republican Dan Benishek, Democrat Gary McDowell, Green Party candidate Ellis Boal, Libertarian Keith Shelton, Patrick Lambert of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, and independent Glenn Wilson.

The debate will actually occur today, Monday, and be taped for telecast Tuesday.

Questions for the candidates can be submitted online by posting a comment at

Video of the debate will be available on the TV 6 website,, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, after it airs Tuesday night.

Five of the candidates debated in Petoskey on Oct. 18. Read a brief report with some of their comments on health care, Great Lakes drilling and immigration on Interlochen Public Radio.

Interlochen Public Radio has also posted short interviews with these candidates, including the following:
Ellis Boal, Green Party, who emphasizes why he is opposed to the Kennecott sulfide mine; Gary McDowell, Democrat, who discusses taxes, the stimulus, social security and the environment; Dan Benishek, Republican, who opposes health care reform and has criticized Social Security in its present form.

Click here for an Interlochen broadcast comparing the candidates on Social Security.

See the Escanaba Daily Press for comments by five of the 1st District Congressional candidates who participated in a forum in Escanaba on Oct. 20.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nobel nominee Lois Gibbs speaks at NMU

From The North Wind (Northern Michigan University student publication), posted Oct. 21, 2010:

By James Dyer

MARQUETTE -- Grassroots community efforts can sometimes be the turning point in battling big corporations over environmental and safety issues, said Lois Gibbs, the executive director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ).

Gibbs spoke at NMU (Northern Michigan University) in Jamrich 102 on Friday, Oct. 15. Her presentation, "From the Love Canal to Michigan," was sponsored by Students for Sustainable Living, among other groups, and focused on environmental action on a local level, with special regard to the controversial Kennecott Eagle Rock Mining Project. Click here to read the article.

Gubernatorial Candidate Bernero shares concrete economic plan during debate hosted by clergy; Snyder is no show

DETROIT -- During a debate hosted by the clergy of Detroit, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero discussed his concrete plan to restore jobs and capitalize on the economic opportunity of the city of Detroit to build a stronger Michigan.

The clergy of Detroit invited both gubernatorial candidates to participate in the Detroit-specific debate, but unfortunately Bernero’s opponent, Rick Snyder, refused to participate and did not attend. The debate was held to spark a critical discussion of the issues facing the people of Detroit.

"The success of Michigan is uniquely tied to the revival and prosperity of Detroit," said Bernero. "Michigan’s governor cannot ignore the critical role of Detroit and what we can do to help bring prosperity back to our state’s largest city. That is why I am here tonight to share with the people of Detroit my urban agenda and plan to restore our cities." Read more ...

See also Bernero's "Make it in Michigan for free" plan to attract jobs of the future to Michigan. Read the Oct. 13 Press Release on this economic plan.