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, November 27, 2010

Carnegie Museum invites public to create Gingerbread Village display

HOUGHTON -- Coincidental to the first big snowfall of the 2010 holiday season, the Carnegie Museum staff have unpacked their Edible Playhouse for the Fourth Annual Gingerbread Village display.

Edible gingerbread building at the Carnegie Museum. (Photo courtesy Elise Nelson, Carnegie Museum director)

"We invite the public to create gingerbread buildings to add to our display," says Elise Nelson, Carnegie Museum director. "This year, all new creations will be awarded a prize in one of many different categories including 'most accurate reproduction of a local landmark building,' 'most different types of candy used,' 'most colorful house,' 'tallest building,' etc."

Also, to complement the museum's current Bridge Exhibit, they will have special prize categories for bridges, Nelson adds.

Can you build a swing bridge out of pretzels and gumdrops?? Don’t want to work alone? Come to one of the Gingerbread Building Workshops: Saturday, Nov. 27, noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday, Nov. 30, 3:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.; and Thursday, Dec. 2, noon to 5 p.m. You can also help with the annual repair and maintenance of the playhouse. Or bring a kit to work on in the company of others.

"We will have some frosting 'glue' and bits of candy and pretzels, etc." Nelson notes. "All abilities and ages are encouraged!! (But children must be accompanied by an adult!)"

As part of the Downtown Houghton Christmas festivities, Santa will visit the Museum Saturday, Dec. 4.

Carnegie Museum Open House Dec. 16

The Carnegie Museum's Annual Holiday Open House will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16. The public is invited to enjoy snacks, hot chocolate, and the completed gingerbread houses on display, including the walk-through playhouse. At 4 p.m. Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District librarian, will read stories; and at 5 p.m. members of the Copper Country Suzuki Association will perform a small concert.

So, put on an apron and start baking, or whip up a batch of frosting!! Prize judging will be during the Holiday Open House, Dec. 16, so all entries must be brought to the museum by 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 14. Donations of candy, cookies, pretzels, etc., to cover the gingerbread playhouse or to share with others are always welcomed. Please drop them off during any of the open hours: Tuesday noon - 7 p.m., Thursday, noon - 5 p.m. and Saturday noon - 4 p.m. (The museum will be closed Saturday, Dec. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 1.)

For more information, including a good recipe for the "glue," please contact or call 482-7140.

Even if you are unable to make a "house" for the museum this year, please stop by to view the exhibit -- perhaps you will be inspired for next year!

The Carnegie Museum is located on the corner of Huron and Montezuma streets in Houghton (former old Portage Library).

Other exhibits currently showing are "Senter of the Copper Country -- The Story of the Atlas Powder Company" and "The Golden Anniversary of the Portage Lift Bridge."*

*Editor's Note: Read more about the Carnegie Museum in our Sept. 8, 2010, article "Carnegie Museum celebrates Centennial with historic, educational displays," by Chad Girard.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Back Room Boys to return to Copper Island Beach Club Nov. 27

HANCOCK -- The Copper Island Beach Club, at the bottom of Tezcuco St. on the Hancock Waterfront, is bringing in the Back Room Boys again from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Nov 27.

"Come on out and dance away the extra calories from all those pumpkin and pecan pies," says Oren Tikkanen. "The BRB play swing, old-time jazz, blues, perhaps a polka and a waltz, and sometimes a tango -- all with a good-time, 'Big Easy' attitude. Loud enough for dancing and listening, but soft enough that conversation is possible."

The Back Room Boys are Bob Norden -- trombone and vocals; John Munson -- piano, sax, and clarinet; and Oren Tikkanen -- six-string banjo, guitar, and vocals.

Put the Mardi Gras spirit into your Thanksgiving weekend. It sure is fun to dance on a nice wooden floor.

Visit Home for the Holidays Gift Market in Rozsa Lobby Nov. 27

HOUGHTON -- The 13th annual Home for the Holidays Gift Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27, in the Michigan Tech Rozsa Center Lobby.

More than 30 local and regional artists and fine art crafters will tempt you with handmade wreaths and seasonal decor, jewelry, basketry, pottery, fiber art, photography, paintings, candles, woodenware, folk art, rustic furnishings, children's books, jams, jellies, honey, chocolate goodies and much more.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

MDNRE to hold public meeting on Kennecott mining permit amendment request Dec. 7

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), Office of Geological Survey (OGS), will conduct a public meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, at the Westwood High School Auditorium, 300 Westwood Drive, Ishpeming, on a request for an amendment to extend electric power from County Road AAA to the power house located in the mining area of Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (KEMC) Mining Permit MP 01 2007.

Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, Section 63207(6) requires a permittee to request an amendment for anticipated changes in the mining operation including, if applicable, amendments to the environmental impact assessment and to the mining, reclamation, and environmental protection plan.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for interested parties to obtain information and provide comments on the amendment request.

In their letter to the MDNRE requesting the permit amendment, Kennecott claims diesel generators were the best power option available to them at the time of the permit application; but, now that electric power infrastructure is in place, they can connect to it for their mining operations and eliminate the diesel fuel.

The letter from KEMC states, "KEMC is committed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions both locally and globally. Eliminating the continuous operation of the three permitted diesel generators will result in an estimated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the facility by over 80%. The net savings in CO2 emissions by using off-site power from Alger Delta will exceed an estimated 3000 tonnes per year."*

The DNRE is required by law to make a determination on or before Dec. 15, 2010, as to whether the amendment request constitutes a significant change from the conditions of the Mining Permit. Written and verbal comments may be submitted to the DNRE at the public meeting. Written comments may also be submitted by email by 5 p.m. Dec. 8, 2010, or by mail postmarked not later than Dec. 6, 2010, to the following address:
Mail: Steven E. Wilson
Office of Geological Survey
Environmental Resource Management Division, DNRE
P.O. Box 30256
Lansing, MI 48909

From the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, posted Nov. 23, 2010:

BIG BAY -- As stated in the original permit, the company planned to use diesel generations to power the operation. Since then, KEMC changed course, working with Alger Delta Electric Cooperative to run an underground cable through a previously unpowered area. The new line, which is in the process of being built, branches from County Road 550, up County Road 510, then up County Road AAA.

This October 2010 photo shows power lines being run along the AAA Road leading to the Eagle Mine before Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) requested an amendment to their mining permit. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Groups such as the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve have expressed disappointment in the fact that a mining permit amendment was deemed unneccessary for running the underground cable before now, even though KEMC is paying for the cable and will be the only user. These activities were considered "outside" of the mining operation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. According to them, a permit amendment is required, however, to finishing running the underground cable from the AAA road to the compound, a distance of perhaps 200 feet or less.

*To view the letter requesting the amendment, click here.
To view the MDNRE response, click here.
Click here to view the Power Map.

Editor's Note: See also the Sept. 21, 2010, article, "Michigan Regulators Unsure How To Enforce Changes to Rio Tinto’s Eagle Mine," by Gabriel Caplett, in Headwaters News.

Keweenaw Krayons to hold Black Friday Art Sale Nov. 26

MOHAWK -- Keweenaw Krayons and the Ramblin' Rose Art Center invite the public to their Black Friday Art Sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26, at the Ramblin' Rose Studio (next door to the Mohawk Superette) on Rt. 41 in Mohawk. Keweenaw Krayons art, works by local artists and greeting cards will be for sale to support the non-profit Art Center and local artists.

For more information call 906-369-4314 or email

Editor's Note: See our Nov. 16 story and photos about Keweenaw Krayons classes and artists.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From Save the Wild UP: The Facts in the Case: How Kennecott and the MDEQ are overriding Michigan’s mining laws

By Lillian Marks Heldreth

If anyone is wondering why people continue to protest Kennecott’s Eagle Mine Project, or why litigation is ongoing despite the fact that we are repeatedly told it’s a "done deal," the reason is simple: the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Kennecott have together managed to circumvent and ignore Michigan’s mining and environmental protection laws as well as applicable federal statutes.

Both Kennecott and the state claim that we are protected by these laws, but because they have chosen not to obey them, the miners, the environment, and our citizens are without any protection whatsoever from what promises to be a disaster, the scope of which ranges from "very bad" to "the BP of the Great Lakes."

Because to our knowledge the full scope of these violations has never been published in one place in any of the public media, we consider it our civic duty to reveal them here, as clearly and as simply as we can. ... Read the rest of this article, posted Nov. 12, 2010, on

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Community Arts Center hosts Shaft exhibit through Nov. 30; members plan for future 

This mixed media work by artist Sue Hamilton, part of the 17th Annual Shaft exhibit at the Community Arts Center, is titled "The Fabric of Calumet, MI." Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

By Eric Rosenberg*

HANCOCK -- Wednesday, Nov. 10, found the Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC) in Hancock playing host to two important events -- the opening of the 17th Annual Shaft exhibit in the Kerredge Gallery and the annual CCCAC members’ meeting.

Artist Vanessa Lipson visits the Shaft exhibit in the Kerredge Gallery after the Community Arts Center annual meeting Nov. 10.

The Shaft exhibit includes 34 pieces by 21 local artists who were invited to create works 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. The pieces cover a diverse range of subjects, ranging from the actual physical mine shafts to the workers who mined in them, in a variety of mediums.

Community Arts Center members and visitors chat at the opening of the Shaft exhibit in the Kerredge Gallery on Nov. 10. A closing reception for the exhibit will be held this Friday, Nov. 26.

A closing reception will be held for the Shaft exhibit from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26, at the Arts Center. The reception is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. For this exhibit, viewers have been invited to cast their vote for public choice. Cash awards will be presented at the close of the exhibit, which continues through Nov. 30.

More entries in the Shaft exhibit. Visitors can vote for their favorite.

In the Junior Shaft category, Jared Butala, Maggie Gaunt, and Stuart Rosemurgy -- whose work is included in the Kerredge Gallery exhibit -- will receive awards graciously provided by the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.

This piece, by Cynthia Coté, is titled "They Didn't Think There Was Any Cause for Concern," commemorating the 30 people who died in the Osceola #3 fire. It is made of folded paper and hand colored photocopies of Copper Country people tied together with copper wire.

Annual CCCAC members’ meeting: present needs, future plans

The annual CCCAC members’ meeting was largely centered on the current affairs of the Arts Center and its plans for the near future.

Cynthia Coté, Copper Country Community Arts Center executive director, welcomes members and visitors to the annual meeting on Nov. 10.

One major focus for the future is the proposed redesign of the Community Arts Center building. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is planning to renovate the building to meet with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED certification entails meeting certain guidelines and goals in order to have a "green" building.**

While the renovations themselves haven’t yet begun, the plans for the renovations have nearly been completed. Kiko de Melo e Silva, a CCCAC board member, presented a series of mock-up photos illustrating some of the proposed changes to the building. The current plan suggests removing the rear third of the building, leaving that as an outdoor area, opening up the floor halls with a more modular feel, and installing numerous windows to allow for more natural light.

During the annual meeting, CCCAC Board Member Kiko de Melo e Silva presents proposed changes to the Arts Center building. The goal is to renovate the building to meet "green building" certification.

Unfortunately, the meeting wasn’t entirely good news. The financial report, given by treasurer Terry Monson, was considerably grim. This situation is due, in large part, to the current economic climate. While their sales have remained roughly the same as in previous years, available grant money has dropped off significantly.

Nevertheless, the year isn’t over yet. CCCAC board members remain hopeful.

"I’m proud of the arts center," said Phyllis Fredendall, board vice president.

Fredendall added she was optimistic that the board and members could work through the issues raised.

Cynthia Coté, the Center’s executive director, agreed.

"I thought the meeting was encouraging," Coté said. "It was some tough news, but hopefully it will help us to reshape our focus to better meet the community’s needs."

Community Arts Center members and visitors enjoy refreshments and take in the displays set up in the art classroom for the meeting.

The meeting concluded with a report on how the CCCAC is responding to the new arts environment. When the Center was established 18 years ago, there weren’t any other art venues or art education opportunities in the area. While the CCCAC has been introducing new opportunities, other organizations have opened up as well. The board of directors has since been re-evaluating the Center’s mission goal and how they can adapt it to the new Keweenaw arts landscape.

For more information on the Copper Country Community Arts Center, visit their newly designed Web site at

Editor's Notes:
Guest reporter Eric Rosenberg is a student at Michigan Tech University. Last summer, while a student in David Clanaugh's journalism class, Rosenberg wrote three articles (one of which was our first audio podcast) published on Keweenaw Now.

** Read our articles on the public meetings held last year to begin the discussion of the potential Community Arts Center green building project. See "Arts Center Green Building presentation / forum sparks community discussion" and "Glass Center visitors inspire Community Arts Center green building supporters."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Updated: Cynthia Pryor: Update on sulfide mining debate

By Cynthia Pryor, Sulfide Mining Campaign Director, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve

BIG BAY, Mich. -- A quick update for those interested in Michigan's metallic sulfide mining debate and the changes to our political landscape based on the recent elections:

Governor elect Republican Rick Snyder has announced key positions to his new staff:

Bill Rustem, CEO of Public Sector Consultants will be Snyder's Strategy Chief. Bill Rustem is also Kennecott 's consultant and was Nestle's Ice Mountain consultant during that citizen battle for their water rights.*

Dennis Muchmore, husband to Kennecott's public relations consultant and spokesperson Deborah Muchmore,** will be Snyder's Chief of Staff.*** Dennis Muchmore is the "Of Council" of a lobbiest firm in Lansing and a recent Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs.****

Rebecca Humphries has resigned as the Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) and will be leaving that post in January to take the position of Director of Ducks Unlimited. There has been no announcement of who Snyder will appoint to this key regulatory position.

Judge Donald Shelton from Washtenaw County District Court has denied the petitioners NWF (National Wildlife Federation), KBIC (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community), HMC (Huron Mountain Club) and YDWP (Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve) Contested Case appeal for hearing the case in Washtenaw County based on "judicial economy." While recognizing that the venue request of Ann Arbor was appropriate, Judge Shelton also recognized that Judge Manderfield of Ingham County had heard the bulk of testimony; and, therefore, Judge Shelton moved the appeal back to Ingham County and Judge Manderfield. Judge Manderfield has ruled once in our favor and three times for the State of Michigan/Kennecott on this matter.

Update 2/ Correction: The oral argument by the Petitioners mentioned above concerning their appeal of the Department of Natural Resources (former DNR, now part of DNRE) decision to grant a lease on state lands to Kennecott for the Eagle Mine will be heard at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, in Lansing before a panel of three judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Petitioners appealed the DNR decision once before in front of Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield, who ruled in favor of the DNR. This appeal of her decision is not part of the Contested Case mentioned above. (See below)

The Marquette County Road Commission has approved the development of a new county road "somewhere in a corridor two miles on either side" of Kennecott's failed Woodland Road attempt. Kennecott, as the developer, asked Marquette County to build the road as a county road for the good of the people of the County -- based on economic growth, tax base expansion and tourist/recreation expansion opportunities. Kennecott would be paying road commission staff in their work to develop the new road, paying for the road work itself including design, engineering and permitting costs. The County Road Commission has not yet presented their plan for where the road will go, and many citizens are actively attending meetings and giving public comment in opposition to this new county road that would run from Kennecott's Humboldt Mill to the Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains.

While Rio Tinto has lost the bid for a joint venture with BHP that would infuse capital to meet Rio Tinto's debt, recent news indicated that Rio Tinto had a 2B debt sale (debt sale is an increasingly popular strategy for organizations wanting to improve cashflow and reduce balance sheet liabilities).*****

China, the biggest consumer of copper, today ordered banks to set aside larger reserves for the fifth time this year, draining cash from the financial system to limit inflation and asset-bubble risks in the world’s fastest-growing major economy. The reserve ratio will increase 50 basis points starting Nov. 29, the central bank said. Rio Tinto dropped 1 percent to 4,141 pence and BHP Billiton Ltd. lost 0.9 percent to 2,343.5 pence. Rio's profits are still heavily tied to China's growth and important to the outcome of this venture, and we continue to watch this closely.

Kennecott continues to develop the Eagle Mine with work commencing on the Waste Water Treatment Plant, Waste Rock facilities, the Treated Water Infiltration System, running electric to the mine and industrial expansion/support projects in the area (gravel pits/rock crushing/fuel/road development/housing facilities). The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve continues to monitor these activities by frequent on-the-ground oversight/documentation, frequent in-the-air oversight/documentation, water quality studies and expansion of a monitoring program involving several partners in the region. YDWP has documented this work for several years and continues to keep regulatory bodies apprised.

Coalition meetings, strategy meetings and other forums are still being held and planned. We have not given up and there is still a huge silent majority that wants the outcome of this mine on the Yellow Dog Plains to be different. We will continue to work any angle presented to us as best as we are able.

Thanks to all for your continued attention and support. A special THANK YOU! to the team downstate that continues to fund and put up billboards: SULFIDE MINING KILLS RIVERS. Your billboards are effective, eyecatching and send a succinct message that resides in people's minds whether they realize it or not. Good work!

My best to you all,

Cynthia Pryor

*Click here to read about Bill Rustem.

** Click here for info about Deborah Muchmore.

*** Read the Detroit Free Press article on Dennis Muchmore's appointment.

**** Click here to read about Dennis Muchmore.

***** Click here to read the Bloomberg article.

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted with permission from a recent email Cynthia Pryor sent to concerned citizens.

Update: Pryor is quoted in the Nov. 22, 2010, Michigan Messenger article, "Enviros wary of corporate connections in Snyder cabinet," by Eartha Jane Melzer. The article gives further details on Rustem, the Muchmores, etc.

Update 2 from the Editor: We were in error previously in stating this Dec. 7 appeal was part of the Contested Case. Thanks to NWF Attorney Michelle Halley for clearing this up.

From DC Bureau: Midwest mining rush threatens water, Part IV: Challenging the mine permitting process

By Tiffany Danitz Pache

Several groups have banded together to file a lawsuit that finds fault with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s permitting process. The National Wildlife Federation, Huron Mountain Club, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve argue that the permitting process did not adhere to the state’s 2004 non-ferrous mining law and claims that decision making was driven by politics rather than science. There was no independent Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and no one -- not even Kennecott -- provided a hydrological study for a mine that will be dug 1,000 feet beneath the Salmon Trout River -- which is mostly fed by groundwater and is just a handful of miles from Lake Superior. So there is no baseline on which to hold the company accountable. In addition, there were numerous procedural violations, including Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) official, Joe Maki, who led the Mine Review Team that recommended the permit. He admitted in sworn testimony that he did not adhere to the law, and, in fact, he did not completely understand it when he issued the permit to Kennecott. ... Read the rest of this Nov. 15, 2010, article on

From DC Bureau: Midwest mining rush threatens water, Part III: A river runs through it

By Tiffany Danitz Pache

On a span of Michigan’s storied Upper Peninsula that includes the largest ancient forest east of the Mississippi River, a sacred Native American site called Eagle Rock, the Salmon Trout River and the shores of Lake Superior, the London-based Rio Tinto has gained the rights to mine sulfide ore and extract nickel and copper in exchange for a handful of local jobs. It is dubbed the Eagle Project.

Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, Kennecott, owns the mineral rights to 245,000 acres in Marquette County, Michigan, and has leased 5,500 acres of public land and 4,000 acres of mineral rights on privately held lands. With the Eagle Project, the company plans to invest $489 million to build the nickel and copper mine making it the primary nickel mine in the United States when construction is completed and production begins in 2013. ... Read the rest of this Nov. 9, 2010 article from

Editor's Note: Also, read the comments below the article, especially those posted by Jessica Koski of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) and Jack Parker, veteran mining expert, who has challenged the Kennecott mining application for the potential instability in their design.