See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Friday, December 30, 2011

ARTE MAYA 2012 Guatemalan calendars still available

HANCOCK -- Some beautiful ARTE MAYA Guatemala calendars for 2012 are still available for sale through the Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP).

"When you buy a calendar, you're not only supporting the Guatemalan artists, but also you're supporting the solidarity work of the Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project and our national organization, the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)," says Sue Ellen Kingsley, CCGAP director. "2012 is probably the last year these gorgeous art calendars will be produced. Thanks to those of you who already bought your calendars!"

Contact Sue Ellen Kingsley at and let her know how many calendars you would like to order. The rates depend on quantity: $20 apiece for one or two, $18 apiece for three or four, $15 apiece for five or more. Student rate is $15 each. Include your address if you wish to have the calendars mailed to you.

You can also order them on line at Click here for more information.

These make a great New Year's or belated Christmas gift!

Snow dog Gromit offers trail snow update

Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club groomer at work along Gromit's favorite Swedetown Creek gorge on Maasto Hiihto Ski Trails. (Photos courtesy Arlyn and Sandy Aronson)

HANCOCK -- Gromit the snow dog reports grooming is taking place on Maasto Hiihto trails but cautions humans to take care and use rock skis.

Grooming goes on at night, too.

"With some white gold falling here yesterday, I sent a pack member out to roll it down," Gromit writes. "He found the trails definitely improved with the modest amount that came. Although they'd still recommend using rock skis out on Keweenaw Nordic's trails."

On Christmas Eve, Gromit reports, "the lake hadn't dumped all that much snow around here so we headed to the North Country Trail near Rockland and brought snowshoes with us in case it was too shallow for skis."

Gromit with Sandy Aronson enjoying a five-hour snowshoe and the view from the North Country Trail near Rockand on Christmas Eve, 2011.

On Dec. 12, Gromit, Sandy and Arlyn took a short drive north of Hancock to do a three-mile hike to the top of a Lookout ridge. "All-paw drive" was needed to get to the top for a view, she says.

Sandy and Arlyn Aronson and Gromit enjoy a view of Lake Superior from their Lookout hike in early December.

Gromit in her element!

See more photos of hiking, skiing and snowshoeing with Gromit in our "low snow" season on Gromit's blog, The Trail Mutt Reports.

Backroom Boys to play for dancing New Year's Eve at Copper Island Beach Club

HANCOCK -- Bring in the New Year on the wooden dance floor of the Copper Island Beach Club in Hancock with the Backroom Boys from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Dec. 31. Dance the last hours of the old year away to swing, jazz, blues, polkas, and waltzes, all with a touch of New Orleans.

The Backroom Boys are John Munson -- clarinet, sax, and keyboard; Bob Norden -- trombone and vocals; Matthew Durocher -- bass; Oren Tikkanen -- guitar, banjo, and vocals; and possibly Randy Seppala -- washboard, bones, spoons, drums, etc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Congressman Benishek to meet with constituents in Mohawk Dec. 29

MOHAWK -- Dan Benishek, U.S. Congressman for Michigan's First District, will host a "Meet-n-Greet" from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29, at Slim's Café, 8 Mohawk Street in Mohawk.

Constituents will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns on issues facing Congress. Casework staff will also be available to assist citizens in need.

Note: No appointment or RSVP is required to attend this event. However, the schedule is subject to change. Therefore, attendees may need to call 989-448-8811 to confirm the event.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

HuffPost: Article on Italian Hall disaster by Steve Lehto

HANCOCK -- Steve Lehto, author of two books on the Italian Hall disaster, recently published an article in the Huffington Post, "The Italian Hall Disaster: One Reason to Observe a Silent Night This Christmas Eve," posted on Dec. 21, 2011.

Lehto notes that Christmas Eve marks the anniversary of the tragic events of Dec. 24, 1913, when someone yelled "Fire" -- a false alarm --during a Christmas party in Calumet's Italian Hall and at least 73 people, mostly children, died in the panic that ensued.

Click here to read the Huffington Post article.

Author Lehto, who is a professor and practicing attorney as well, has researched the Italian Hall tragedy and written about it in Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder and Shortcut: The Seeberville Murders and the Dark Side of the American Dream (To access Steve Lehto's Facebook Resource Page on the Italian Hall, click on the ad on this page for the second book, published this year).

Common Dreams: Utah doctors join law suit against Rio Tinto

SALT LAKE CITY -- Rio Tinto's Bingham Canyon mine is a large contributor to Salt Lake City's air pollution. (Forbes Magazine rates Salt Lake City's air quality as the ninth most toxic city in the country.)

Dr. Brian Moench, President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, authors a worthwhile article, posted this morning by mega site CommonDreams.

The article states: "Taking inspiration from the Occupy Movement, last week a group of doctors and environmental groups in Salt Lake City, Utah, announced a law suit against the third largest mining corporation in the world, Rio Tinto, for violating the Clean Air Act in Utah. This is likely the first time ever that physicians have sued industry for harming public health."

Click here to read the article.

Keweenaw Social Dance seeks dancers, musicians for community dance events

LAKE LINDEN -- Keweenaw Social Dance, a community group, is looking for people who know how to dance cultural dances, hip hop, and more. They are also seeking bands who play anything in the dance genre. Right now they are especially interested in Finnish dancing, in preparation for Hancock's Heikinpäivä Mid-Winter Festival in January.

Recently the group held two dances, preceded by dance lessons, at the Little Gem Theater in Lake Linden. The Backroom Boys provided the music for those events, so the dance lessons included Blues, Swing, and Slow Dance.

The Backroom Boys play dance music for the Dec. 23, 2011, Keweenaw Social Dance event at the Little Gem Theater in Lake Linden. (Photo courtesy Chuck Hill. Reprinted with permission.)

Dance instructor Chuck Hill, who started the Social Dance Club at Michigan Tech, is now working on this community based program -- Keweenaw Social Dance.

"It's going to have a lot of the original's dances, but I look to add on to that curriculum," Hill says. "I'm currently teaching East Coast Swing, Slow Dance, Blues, Argentinean Tango, Waltz, Cha Cha, Merengue, and bits and pieces of other dances."

Hill is also working on restoring the Little Gem Theater for events. That means new upholstery, wood floor, paint, sound equipment, lighting, etc., he explains.

"The way it works is seat sponsorship," Hill says. "$75 a seat and your name stays on it forever and you can be part of the effort. I also just got ballet barres and mirrors that I will be installing upstairs for the new program of ballet, jazz, and tap. Little by little."

If you are interested in helping teach Finnish dance or in playing Finnish music in preparation for Heikinpäivä or in helping Chuck Hill plan dance events with local talent, be sure to email him at or call him at 906.370.9532.

Click here for the Heikinpäivä schedule.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

New Congressional report says current Congress most anti-environmental in history

WASHINGTON, D. C. -- A new Congressional report documents the anti-environment record of the First Session of the 112th U.S. House of Representatives.*

It confirms that the 2011 House of Representatives is the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress and highlights House Republicans’ unrelenting assault on basic environmental protections that have existed for decades. The House has averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day it was in session during 2011.

The following statement -- issued Dec. 15, 2011 -- is from Martin Hayden, Earthjustice Vice President of Policy and Legislation:

"Earthjustice commends Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Howard Berman (D-CA) for their stunning and thorough report that underscores the breadth and scope of the House of Representatives’ year-long assault on clean air, clean water, public health, public lands and very future of our planet. The report’s findings are simply breathtaking. Under the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House has voted 191 times to weaken or obliterate environmental protections. Twenty-two percent of all floor votes taken this year have been targeted at denying Americans environmental protections they have long supported. Just this week, Speaker Boehner continued playing political games with our children’s health by burying a provision in the House-passed tax bill to indefinitely delay a long overdue standard to clean up toxic air emissions, including mercury, from industrial boilers and incinerators. The boilers rider would cause thousands of Americans to die unnecessarily every year, and thousands more to suffer serious and debilitating illness."

The report includes examples of Congressional votes and legislation on such topics as blocking efforts to prevent climate change; undermining the Clean Air Act; undermining the Clean Water Act; removing protections for public lands, fish and wildlife; weakening safety requirements for offshore drilling; cutting support for clean energy technologies and programs; allowing unsafe disposal of toxic coal ash; curtailing review of the Keystone XL Pipeline; reducing funding for environmental protection; and obstructing the regulatory process.

* Click here to access this Dec. 15, 2011, report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Minority Staff.

Editor's Notes: This press release from Earthjustice was forwarded to Keweenaw Now by the Northwood Alliance, Conover, Wis.

Earthjustice update: "On December 21, 2011, the Obama administration issued the first-ever limits on power plants' emissions of mercury, arsenic and other toxic pollutants. Earthjustice played a critical role in achieving these critical protections."

Click here for the Earthjustice Dec. 21, 2011, press release.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Videos: Noteworthy women's chorus in Calumet

CALUMET -- The Noteworthy women's chorus braved a chilly Dec. 2 First Friday in Calumet to offer their voices in song in several locations, beginning with the tree lighting ceremony near the Calumet Theatre ...

At the Main Street Calumet tree lighting on Dec. 2, 2011, members of the Noteworthy women's chorus join Bob Norden and fellow musicians in singing a Christmas favorite. (Video clips by Keweenaw Now)

Noteworthy singers entertain visitors to the Copper Country Associated Artists Gallery in Calumet during First Friday festivities on Dec. 2, 2011.

Editor's Note: Watch for a slide show with photos of Calumet events, coming soon ...

Happy holidays from Keweenaw Now!

Keweenaw Now wishes all our readers, contributors and supporters a very peaceful, safe and joyful holiday season!

This year we have tried to connect you with important issues and events -- not just in the Keweenaw, but also beyond, thanks to our guest reporters and our links on Twitter.

We welcome your letters and comments. Tell us what you like / don't like about our postings and offer us suggestions of what you'd like to see in 2012.

We wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!

Keweenaw Now photo: "Paloma de la paz," by Gustavo Bourdieu.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Letter: Give Earth a break

Editor's Note: This letter is a comment on our Dec. 16, 2011, article, "Dems turn out for Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell at fundraiser in Hancock."

IRON COUNTY, Mich. -- I’m sure Gary McDowell is a fine person but I feel he is a fence walker.

Asked about whether he agreed with the platform of the League of Conservation Voters, McDowell said he believes in a proper balance between economic opportunities and environmental protection.

"It's not either or," he said. "We have to protect the environment. We can do it. We've done it in the past and we have to continue to do that."

We have not protected our environment in the past. Yes, laws were passed, but the laws were written to let potential polluters legally pollute. The cumulative effects of the pollution are showing ever increasing signs of negative health effects. The dangers are more prevalent today with the mining and possible nuclear dump sites.

So, it is a matter of "either or." It’s time to give the Earth a break. Governments and politicians have catered to industry for at least a century. The dream of prosperity has denigrated our lives.

As stated in the article:

Toward the end of his talk, Gary McDowell answers a question on the Rio Tinto / Kennecott Eagle Mine, noting the importance of funding the Department of Environmental Quality to see that it's done right.

Well, can’t argue that but I would like to elaborate.

I called McDowell’s office with concerns others and I had with the Eagle Mine. He and nine other State Representatives were sent an e-mail detailing how the DEQ ignored enforcing the law, Part 632. As you may or may not know, the Eagle Project is proceeding full speed ahead. All the money in the world does not mean things will be done right if the law is not enforced.

If Mr. McDowell wins he can say all he wants about the DEQ. He will be in the Federal Government and will not have any control over the DEQ. McDowell had his chance as a State Representative.

I realize politicians need to say things in ambiguous appealing ways to get votes or stay in office. It’s the voters who should hold the politicians responsible.

I guess we need to ask ourselves if we are satisfied with "either or." Maybe we need to change the dream. Change the dream or at least have a common definition of the word prosperity in which the health of the Earth is foremost. With a healthy Earth all the rest will fall into place.

Rich Sloat
Iron County, Mich.

Dance to Backroom Boys' live music TONIGHT at Little Gem in Lake Linden

LAKE LINDEN -- Keweenaw Social Dance will host a second dance with music by the Backroom Boys TONIGHT, Friday, Dec. 23, at the Little Gem in Lake Linden.

The Backroom Boys -- Oren Tikkanen on banjo, John Munson on clarinet and Bob Norden on trombone -- possibly joined by other musicians, will again play dance music for a social dance at the Little Gem Theater in Lake Linden TONIGHT, Friday, Dec. 23. Dance lessons are at 6 p.m. and dancing begins at 7:30 p.m. (Photo courtesy Oren Tikkanen)

Dance lessons -- blues, swing, and slow dance with Chuck Hill -- are at 6 p.m., followed by dancing to the Backroom Boys at 7:30 p.m. Cover is $5 and BYOB welcomed. The Little Gem is a great venue for dancing and listening in the old school building across from the high school on the main street in Lake Linden.

International Folk Dancers are canceling tonight's folk dancing to attend this social dance in Lake Linden.

Remember 1/4 of the proceeds are going towards fixing up the Little Gem Theater; and, if you're interested in contributing, make sure to ask about how you can sponsor a seat that will bear your name forever!

Contact Chuck Hill for more information by emailing or call (906) 370.9532.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Public Notice: Pilgrim River Watershed Advisory Council

Please consider serving on the Pilgrim River Watershed Advisory Council during January - April, 2012.

Project Background

The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) received a Michigan Coastal Zone Management/DEQ/NOAA grant to prepare a Pilgrim River Watershed Management Plan. A Watershed Management Plan includes a fact-based assessment of water quality, the fishery, habitats, land uses, road and stream crossings, any impairments and other factors impacting water quality of the river and surrounding land. This factual information along with community input is used to develop a plan with voluntary recommendations to help the community understand and manage a healthy watershed.

A Pilgrim River Watershed Advisory Council is being established to gather public input.

Pilgrim River Watershed Advisory Council

Residents, landowners, government officials, businesses, commercial interests, community organizations, recreational users, and concerned citizens are invited to serve on the Pilgrim River Watershed Advisory Council. Council members will schedule three or four public meetings during January-April, 2012, lasting one to two hours each, to review and discuss information collected on the Pilgrim River and surrounding lands. All interested people are welcome to participate.

Please contact Sue Haralson, HKCD Administrator, at 906-482-0214 or by email at if you have questions or would like to serve on the Pilgrim River Watershed Advisory Council. The Council will be established in early January, 2012, so please call Sue as soon as possible. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Holidays from the Pilgrim River Watershed Management Plan project team!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stabenow: Bipartisan legislation to extend middle class tax cut rejected by House as deadline looms

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today made the following statement after House Republicans rejected Senate legislation, which passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 89-10 over the weekend, to extend a critical tax cut for middle-class families. Unless Congress acts before the end of this month, a two-percent payroll tax cut for middle-class families will expire at the end of the year, and families will see an average tax hike of approximately one thousand dollars.

"I am deeply disappointed that House Republicans have rejected a bipartisan plan to extend a critical tax cut for middle-class families. The vast majority of Americans simply cannot afford to get hit with a tax hike starting January 1st. An overwhelming number of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to prevent this tax hike, but unfortunately House Republicans continue to play politics."

Senate Democrats first proposed a one-year payroll tax cut extension earlier this year -- which also would have expanded the payroll tax to give the average middle class family in Michigan an additional $400 tax cut (for a total of about $1400), and also cut payroll taxes for small businesses -- paid for by a 3.25 percent surtax on income in excess of one million dollars. Republicans rejected that.

Senate Republicans then put forward their own plan paid for by a variety of spending cuts and fees, including increasing Medicare costs for seniors -- BUT A MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS rejected their own party’s plan.

Democrats then offered a compromise one-year extension by dropping a tax cut for businesses, but keeping the expanded payroll tax cut for middle-class families, paid for with a mix of Republican proposals as well as a 1.9 percent millionaire surcharge. Republicans rejected that.

Finally, Senate Democrats agreed to drop any surcharge on millionaires whatsoever, reaching a bipartisan compromise with Republicans on a two-month extension funded by increasing the fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge mortgage lenders. A two-month extension was all that could be negotiated with Senate Republicans, but that extension at least keeps middle-class families from being hit with a tax increase while negotiations continue on a longer term tax cut. That bill passed 89-10.

House Republicans have now rejected the Senate’s bipartisan compromise to extend the payroll tax cut. The House instead voted to create yet another committee to further negotiate this issue while the clock ticks toward a $1,000 tax increase on the middle-class January 1st.

Editor's note: According to an email from U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), it was Tea Party Republicans who blocked a bipartisan bill to extend President Obama’s payroll tax cut.

"Now, middle class Americans could see their taxes increase by $1,000 on January 1st unless Speaker Boehner, Eric Cantor and House Republicans back down from their extreme stance," Pelosi said.

Click here to see House Floor activities for Dec. 20, 2011 and click on Roll No. 946 to see how your Congressman voted.

Opinion: Thoughts on Kennecott tactics

By Jack Parker*

1. In the permitting process since February 2006 Kennecott has simply denied all wrongdoing, including fraud and endangerment of life, limb, property and environment, but without bothering to show that our evidence was incorrect.
2. In that stance they were backed by Rio Tinto and enabled by MDEQ, consistently.
3. With the help of MDEQ they were granted permits, not following Part 632 of Michigan Mining Law; and they have forged ahead with mine construction, illegally, with supreme confidence and arrogance.
4. It would seem that they had been guaranteed that all permits would be issued, without a shadow of a doubt.
5. The Courts have consistently backed Kennecott, as if they too were in on a conspiracy. Even the Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, declined to investigate and prosecute, which is his job.
6. The general public is not well informed because the media are controlled by the business interests.
7. The Feds do not intervene because permitting is under State Law. MSHA is now on the scene because part of the operation is now underground. That may give us some fresh professional leverage on the fraudulent mine design issue -- the design is such that collapse is predicted.**
8. So it seems that Kennecott is pushing toward a fait accompli -- a "done deal" -- for which a reversal of all permits would be politically and publicly difficult.
9. What comes to mind now is that Kennecott, with help from MDEQ, may be blustering mildly and continuing with construction for just a few more months -- at which time the Michigan Statutes of Limitation (6 years for fraud) will have run out, leaving them free to do as they please.
10. Under a different heading, "Judgment," the limit is 10 years, renewable for a further 10 years.
11. Do you suppose that their plan is to run down the clock?
12. Will we prevent that happening? Tempus fugit

Editor's Notes:
Keweenaw Now guest writer Jack Parker of Baltic, semi-retired mining engineer / geologist, specializes in practical rock mechanics.

** Jack Parker has published two reports on the instability of Rio Tinto-Kennecott's Eagle Mine. See our Dec. 6, 2010, article, "Mining expert Jack Parker says Eagle Mine likely to collapse."

Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club to meet Dec. 21

HANCOCK -- Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) will hold their monthly meeting at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Hancock Chalet (Houghton County Fairgrounds, Driving Park). All are welcome. Questions: email or call 906-487-5411.

Monday, December 19, 2011

President Obama signs battery legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama has signed legislation enacting a key part of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow’s Battery Innovation Act to spur the development of new cutting-edge battery technology and create jobs here in America. The provision enacted would create an Energy Innovation Hub for advanced batteries to help continue the expansion of this growing new technology sector.

An Energy Innovation Hub for advanced batteries would bring together businesses, universities, and nonprofits in a central location to work together on new battery technologies. Similar hubs already exist to spur the development of other energy efficient products and to improve nuclear reactor design. Doing the same for advanced batteries will spur innovation in one of Michigan’s key new economic sectors.

"It is essential that Michigan lead in advanced battery research and production," said Sen. Stabenow. "Advanced battery companies are taking root in Michigan and creating jobs, and we must do everything in our power to help Michigan become the advanced battery capital of the world. If leading researchers in business, universities, and other institutions combine forces, we can make Michigan a magnet for investment in these cutting edge technologies."

Stabenow’s Battery Innovation Act is the first comprehensive plan offering Michigan companies the support they need to expand advanced battery production and job growth and ensure that America wins the race in the development of new advanced energy technologies. The Act incorporates all aspects of advanced battery production, from research and development, to the availability of raw materials, to the manufacturing of these high-tech products. The Act builds off initiatives Senator Stabenow championed in 2009, which helped Michigan become a leader in this new and growing industry. It is estimated that initiative has generated over $2 billion in private sector investment and created thousands of Michigan jobs.

The House of Representatives passed the legislation which will create an advanced battery hub, last week. The Senate passed and the president signed the bill on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dems turn out for Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell at fundraiser in Hancock

By Michele Bourdieu

Gary McDowell, Michigan First District Congressional candidate, speaks to a crowd gathered in Hancock's Orpheum Theater (Studio Pizza) on Dec. 11, 2011, during a fundraiser for his campaign, hosted by the Houghton County Democratic Party.
(Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Michigan First District Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard) says he's looking forward to a rematch against U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Iron River), who now holds this seat after defeating McDowell by a slim margin in 2010, just a few months after former Congressman Bart Stupak, who held the position for 18 years, had announced his retirement.

Brian Rendel, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair, introduces Michigan First District Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell (seated facing the audience in blue sweater) to a large crowd in the Orpheum Theater in Hancock at the Dec. 11 campaign fundraiser.

Speaking to a large crowd gathered in Hancock's Studio Pizza and Orpheum Theater for a Dec. 11 fundraiser in his honor, hosted by the Houghton County Democratic Party, McDowell pointed out how Benishek's campaign statements contradicted his votes -- especially on the issues of Social Security and Medicare. Benishek voted for a budget that would eventually eliminate Medicare and reduce Social Security, McDowell said:

During the Dec. 11 fundraiser for his campaign, Michigan First District Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell explains why he plans to run against U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek in the 2012 election. (Video clips by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

McDowell, who formerly served as a state representative in the Michigan House, noted also that Benishek voted for trade agreements that have taken away jobs from Michigan workers, favors tax cuts and subsidies for big oil companies, and has voted against the environment on issues such as EPA regulation of mercury.

"We cannot balance the budget on our senior citizens and working families," McDowell said.

Gary McDowell speaks about his campaign to beat U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek for the Michigan First District Congressional seat.

McDowell added he plans to run an "aggressive" and "hard-hitting" campaign against Benishek. He attributed his loss in 2010 to the fact that many Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents did not vote in that election. He said the atmosphere is different now.

"We have to start now," McDowell said. "I'm sure everybody's mailboxes are being flooded with all the fliers saying 'Benishek saves.' We need to get the truth out, get the other side out, write letters to the editor, point out what his budget will do, who's funding this," McDowell said. "We have to get our people to get out and vote."

He noted his campaign has a high priority nationally with the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee), as well as the support of unions and the League of Conservation Voters.

"This race is going to be one of the hottest races in the whole United States," McDowell said. "It's going to be the only competitive seat in Michigan in the general election."

McDowell encouraged the Democrats in the audience to work with their local party. He praised the leadership and hard work of the Houghton Democratic Party and noted high enthusiasm among Ontonagon Democrats he recently visited:

Fielding questions from Mike Shupe, owner of Studio Pizza, and Bill Fink, McDowell comments on the Supreme Court treatment of corporations as persons, the Koch brothers and the recent Republican agenda in the Michigan state legislature.

McDowell noted as a model the organization of the Obama campaign in 2008 and the numbers of volunteers that made it a success. At that time McDowell was running for re-election as a state representative and asked his daughters to help with his campaign. He joked about the fact that they said they didn't have time to help him.

"I said, 'Girls, can you help me?' They said, 'No, Dad, we've got to get Barack Obama elected President.'"

Asked about whether he agreed with the platform of the League of Conservation Voters, McDowell said he believes in a proper balance between economic opportunities and environmental protection.

"It's not either or," he said. "We have to protect the environment. We can do it. We've done it in the past and we have to continue to do that."

Pat Gottschalk noted the high cost of college tuition today was putting a great financial burden on students and their families.

"This whole anti-tax thing is just abominable," she said.

Gottschalk said pointing out to people the difference in the cost of education with and without taxes should create awareness among those who oppose taxes but need them to pay for their children's education.

McDowell mentioned more than once his concern for investing in education. He noted the young people participating in the Occupy movement are evidence that higher education must be made more affordable for the middle class.

Melinda Quivek of Houghton asked McDowell to talk about his position on the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine:

Toward the end of his talk, Gary McDowell answers a question on the Rio Tinto / Kennecott Eagle Mine, noting the importance of funding the Department of Environmental Quality to see that it's done right.

Since McDowell's visit followed the Houghton County Democratic Party's monthly meeting, the audience included a number of active Democrats as well as visitors. The general reaction to the candidate was positive.

Joe Hernandez, Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech, was optimistic about McDowell's campaign.

"He's got a great chance," Hernandez said. "People are finally motivated to get out and vote. There's a lot of 'buyer's remorse' about the last election."

Mike Lahti of Hancock, who says he sat next to McDowell when they were both state representatives, had praise for his friend and colleague.

"Gary is a real fighter on issues for seniors, the needy and the young -- and also for the U.P. and U.P. jobs," Lahti said. "He's a tireless worker. In my time in the (Michigan) House, he was well respected and very effective. He would be an effective Congressman for Northern Michigan."

After his presentation, Gary McDowell chatted with people in the audience, including Rolf Peterson, Michigan Tech wildlife ecologist and co-director of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study, and his wife, Carolyn Peterson.

Janet Gregorich of Painesdale, longtime member of the Houghton County Democratic Party, told McDowell it was "disheartening" to see so many people in Houghton County vote Republican in the last election.

"We've got to turn these people around," she said.

Reba Andrews of Hancock was impressed with McDowell.

"I thought he was excellent," Andrews said. "He readily answered our questions."

Pat Bacon of Hancock said, "I asked him about the possibility of closing military bases overseas. He agreed (about closing unnecessary bases)."

Elise Matz, Houghton County Democratic Party vice-chair for communications, says she considers McDowell to be the Democrats' incumbent.

"He's experienced," Matz said. "He's got the know-how, the help and the experience to put together a campaign that can beat Benishek; and, given the fact that this could be an extra Democratic seat in the House, I think it's important that Democrats line up behind him early."

For more information about Gary McDowell's congressional campaign, visit his Web site:

Michigan Tech international student dies in car accident

HOUGHTON -- Keweenaw Now expresses deep condolences to the family of Zhang Yue, an international graduate student in electrical engineering, who died Wednesday, Dec. 14, in a car accident in Ontonagon County. He leaves behind a wife and young child, currently residing in Minnesota, and family in China.

Michigan Tech's Office of International Programs and Services (IPS) is working with the Chinese Students and Scholars Association to ensure that Zhang Yue's memory is properly honored. If you would like additional information about how you can offer your sympathy or condolences to Zhang Yue's family, please contact Thy Yang, IPS director, at

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Michigan Tech Archives manuscript collections now searchable

HOUGHTON -- A group of new online search tools has enhanced the search and discovery of historical records in the collections of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in Houghton, Michigan.

This photo shows Army cadets in the military-mining course at the Michigan College of Mines visiting the Quincy mine in 1918. The photograph was included in illustrated weekly reports produced by the campus training program during World War I. (Image #MTU-166-03-0001, Michigan Tech Archives. Photo courtesy Erik Nordberg, Michigan Tech University archivist.)*

The improved access is the result of a two-year project to improve description of the Archives’ extensive holdings of regional manuscript material. The initiative was funded through a $167,600 grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration.

During the project, Archives’ staff conducted a box-level survey of its entire collection, totaling more than 7,000 cubic feet and including personal papers, diaries, organizational records, business materials, mining company records, maps, newspapers, and other historical documents. The project identified more than 700 discrete collections and created standardized descriptions providing information about the size, content, and dates of coverage for each collection.

These descriptions have been revealed to potential researchers throughout the world via a number of online tools. A full listing of the collections -- including collection number, title, and brief description -- is now available on the Michigan Tech Archives blog:

Catalog records for each collection are also available on the Voyager catalog at Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library: Visitors may limit their searches by the location "Archives Manuscript Collection." These records allow searches of collection names, keywords in their brief descriptions and histories, and also allow using standardized subject headings.

Versions of these catalog records are also searchable through WorldCat, an international bibliographic database maintained by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a global cooperative of libraries, archives, and museums. The general public can search the main WorldCat catalog: Participating OCLC member institutions may also search these records through the FirstSearch version of WorldCat which allows researchers to limit type to "Archival Materials" and limit availability to library code "EZT" for Michigan Tech archival collection records.

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or at

* The Keweenaw Digital Archives, a web-based collection of historical photographic images of Michigan’s Copper Country, added its 10,000th image on November 19, 2011. The collection is drawn primarily from the photographic holdings of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collations and documents the social and industrial life of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Rozsa to present "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 16-17

HOUGHTON -- Bring the entire family to the holiday classic, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, in a spectacular, heart-warming Christmas production performed by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16-17. Tickets for adults are $28, seniors $24, and students $20.

This lavish, full-scale Broadway-style production, boasting a cast of 27 people and live musicians, has now been touring for over 30 years! This time-tested tale artfully blends the classic story with rousing arrangements of traditional carols like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Wassail, Wassail," "Good King Wenceslas," "Greensleeves" and many more. Combining supernatural with the sentimental, both children and grown-ups alike will be delighted with this treasured theatrical event. Sponsored by the James and Margaret Black Endowment.

And in the spirit of Christmas giving, please join the staff of the Rozsa Center along with the cast of A Christmas Carol in a Class Acts Children’s Outreach Series fundraiser, "A Toast to the Holidays!" at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17. Fundraiser tickets are $20 for adults, and kids under twelve are $10. 100% of the profits from the afternoon’s event will benefit the Class Acts Children’s Outreach Series.

Eat, drink and be merry with the cast of A Christmas Carol! Fun for the entire family: Includes food, cider, cocoa, cookie decorating, and all for a good cause! Why? The mission of the Class Acts program at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts is to present a diverse program of performing arts events for young audiences in the Copper Country Intermediate School District.

The program is designed to entertain and educate students and to enrich the school curriculum with performances by professionals from a broad range of disciplines. Sing carols, raise a glass, or dance with Ole Fezziwig; a rousing good time will be had by all -- and all in the name of charity and good will! Happy Holidays from all of us at the Rozsa Center!

To purchase tickets, call (906)487-2073, go online at, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC), 600 MacInnes Drive, in Houghton. SDC Box Office hours are 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday, and noon - 8 p.m. Sunday. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is not open during regular business hours, and is only open two hours prior to event times.

Backroom Boys to play for dancing at Little Gem Dec. 16

The Backroom Boys play for dancing and listening during the First Friday art opening on Dec. 2 at the Vertin Gallery in Calumet. This Friday, Dec. 16, they will play a variety of dance music at the Little Gem Theater in Lake Linden. Pictured here are, from left, John Munson, Bob Norden, Oren Tikkanen and Randy Seppala. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

LAKE LINDEN --Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanza! Sumptuous Solstice!

It's the holiday season, time to make merry, and Keweenaw Social Dance at the Little Gem in Lake Linden is bringing in the Backroom Boys for some great dancing this Friday, Dec 16.

"Maestro Chuck Hill will be teaching some of his stupendous dance moves at 6 p.m. (and possibly on through the evening), and the Backroom Boys will provide music for your dancing starting at 7 p.m.," says musician Oren Tikkanen. "Swing, Latin, fast, slow, and-- yes -- even a waltz and a polka or two."

The Little Gem is a great venue for dancing and listening in the old school building across from the high school on the main street in Lake Linden. Come on out and drive those dark-time-of-the-year blues away for only $5 apiece.

The Backroom Boys this time around are John Munson -- clarinet, sax, and keyboard; Bob Norden -- trombone and vocals; Matt Durocher -- upright bass; Oren Tikkanen -- guitar, banjo, and vocals.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Updated: Holiday sale at Oasis Gallery in Marquette continues through Dec. 31

MARQUETTE -- The 18th Annual Holiday Art Sale at Marquette's Oasis Gallery continues through Dec. 31, 2011.

Art by Gordon Gearhart. (Photo © and courtesy Theresa Smith, Oasis Gallery curator.)

The exhibit / sale features amazing art created by U.P. artists and artisans -- paintings, ceramics, hand blown glass, wrought iron, sculpture, handmade jewelry, mobiles, photography and more.

As a non-profit organization run on a cooperative, volunteer basis, Oasis Gallery relies on this sale as one of the primary fundraising events of the year -- necessary for keeping Oasis a part of the community.

Art by Jenny Frein. (Photo © and courtesy Theresa Smith, Oasis Gallery curator.)

The Oasis has exhibited artists from all over the world, both established and new, professional and hobbyist. With twelve different exhibits annually, the Oasis offers artists a space to share work and offers over 10,000 visitors annually a space in which to view it.

The Oasis Gallery is located at 130 W. Washington Street, Marquette, MI. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Click here to see a photo gallery for this exhibit or visit their Web site.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Petitioners appeal court decision allowing Eagle Mine to move forward

Information from Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, posted Dec. 12, 2011 on

MARQUETTE -- A coalition of groups is seeking to appeal a court decision that has allowed Rio Tinto - Kennecott's Eagle Mine to proceed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula -- despite the threat the mine poses to water quality, the Great Lakes and one of the region’s last spawning grounds for the coaster brook trout.

This aerial photo shows the Yellow Dog River, which flows just two miles from the Eagle Mine site. The ore body for copper and nickel sought by Rio Tinto - Kennecott lies under another trout stream, the Salmon Trout River, nearby. "The mine site, in a sense, straddles the watershed divide between the Salmon Trout River and Yellow Dog River (two of the finest trout streams in Michigan) about 5 miles from Lake Superior as the crow flies," writes Jeff Knoop of Negaunee, who took this aerial photo. (Photo © and courtesy Jeff Knoop)

The Huron Mountain Club, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, National Wildlife Federation and Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve filed the motion with the Michigan Court of Appeals on Dec. 12, 2011. The groups are opposing the mine on the grounds that it poses unacceptable risks to water and air quality -- and that it could collapse, endangering workers and the river it is underneath.*

"This mine is the first to be permitted under Michigan’s new mining law, and we must ensure that the law’s protections of human health and the environment are honored and applied," said Michelle Halley, attorney for the National Wildlife Federation. "So far, they have not been and that is why we are seeking leave to appeal. Many more mines are in the queue and this is a precedent-setting case."

The groups are appealing a decision by the Ingham County Circuit Court that allowed international mining company Rio Tinto to start mining activities on Eagle Rock -- a site considered sacred to Native Americans.

"It is very important to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to protect Eagle Rock as a sacred place," said Chris Swartz, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community president, "and we are hopeful that this appeal will result in the Court of Appeals reversing the decisions of the circuit court."

The Eagle Mine site covers about 120 acres of public land leased from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The wooded outcrop in the foreground is Eagle Rock, considered to be a Native American sacred site. Kennecott Eagle Minerals fenced off the site in the summer of 2010 after Native and non-Native opponents of the mine had camped peacefully at the Rock for a month until being driven off by the company and police. In September, 2011, the company began drilling the portal to the mine under Eagle Rock. This aerial photo was taken just prior to the start of that drilling. (Photo © and courtesy Jeff Knoop)

The type of mine being proposed -- in which nickel and copper deposits are extracted from sulfide ores -- poses severe risks to the environment. One byproduct of so-called "hard rock" or "sulfide ore" mining is sulfuric acid, which has proven deadly to rivers, streams and wildlife in other parts of the country. Rio Tinto, the company overseeing the project, has broken Clean Water Act laws dozens of times in mines they have controlled in other states.**

Now, the Michigan Court of Appeals will decide whether to take the case. There is no date by which the court must make its decision.

"We will continue to put forth our concentrated efforts to ensure that this area remains unharmed and protected for everyone’s enjoyment, not just for special interests," said Emily Whittaker, executive director of Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.

Editor's Notes:
* See our Dec. 6, 2010, article "Mining expert Jack Parker says Eagle Mine likely to collapse." Parker, a semi-retired mining engineer / geologist and specialist in rock mechanics, participated as a witness during the 2008 contested case on the Eagle Mine. Parker recently commented on the news of this motion to appeal, still insisting, more than three years later, on the danger that the Eagle Mine could collapse and on the illegality of the DEQ permits: "In June of 2011 two private citizens, one of them JP (Jack Parker), the writer, appealed to the Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, to honor his pledge 'To uncover and prosecute crime at all levels of state and local government' by investigating our claim that in 2006 the MDEQ did accept the Kennecott application for permits despite their hired mining expert’s report that the conclusions in the application, in particular relating to the stability of the crown pillar, (the roof of the mine) were not considered to be defensible. In plain English that means 'were not supported by fact.' Invalid," Parker said. "But MDEQ ignored all expert opinions, accepted the document, and issued permits on demand."

** Read about water pollution from Rio Tinto - Kennecott's Flambeau Mine near Ladysmith, Wis., in the July 29, 2011, article by Laura Gauger, "Flambeau Mine Update: A new proposal from Kennecott, but still 'Just Grass Over a Grave.'" See also the Nov. 1, 2011, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online article "Tests find toxins at Flambeau mine."

Also, click here to read about air pollution in Utah from Rio Tinto - Kennecott's Bingham Canyon open-pit copper mine.

Artists to host Open House in Hancock Dec. 14

Andrea Puzakulich exhibits some of her original fiber art creations during the Dec. 3, 2011, Poor Artists Sale in Calumet. If you missed that sale, come to the Open House at her Distant Drum Fiber Art Studio/Boutique Wednesday, Dec. 14, in the former E. L. Wright School in Hancock. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Three artists will host a three-in-one Open House from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, in their studios located in the former E. L. Wright School building, 801 N. Lincoln Drive (U.S. 41), Hancock (below Pat's Foods).

Eat, drink and be merry with Andrea Puzakulich of Distant Drum Fiber Art Studio/Boutique, Joyce Koskenmaki in her Art Studio and Adam Johnson of Brockit Photography. Enjoy three holiday celebrations under one roof!

The Distant Drum Fiber Studio offers Artistic Clothing and Wall pieces for your gift giving. Drawings for two $50 gift certificates will be held, and 25% of each purchase will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Shop Online at Distant Drum Studio hours are Hours: 1 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Monday,Tuesday, Thursday and Friday or by arrangement. Call (906)-369-DRUM.

Editor's Note: See Kate Flynn's August 2010 article, "Local artists open new studios in E.L. Wright building, Hancock" to learn more about these three artists.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finlandia University December e-newsletter now online

During Finlandia's Finnish Independence celebration on Dec. 1, 2011, Jim Kurtti, Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center director, awards this year's Finnish Theme Committee Hankooki Heikki award to Hazel Tepsa, who will preside over the Heikinpäivä Midwinter Festival in Hancock in January 2012. (Photo by Karen Johnson. Reprinted with permission)

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University News e-newsletter for December 2011 is now available online. Read the latest news and see excellent photos by Karen Johnson, Finlandia's executive director of communications and marketing --including some of the Finnish Independence Day celebration on Dec. 1.

Click here to read the newsletter in pdf format.

The next issue will be published in the new year.

Heritage Center to host Finnish Christmas Sing-Along Dec. 15

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center will host a Finnish Christmas Sing-Along from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Everyone is invited to join in singing some of the most beautiful Christmas songs, both in Finnish and in English.

Music and lead singing will be provided by Pasi Lautala, Megan Plis, Oren Tikkanen, Anna Gawboy, Meg Pachmayer, and Dave Bezotte.

The sing-along is free and open to the public. Participants are invited to bring a plate of cookies or similar treats to share.

The Finnish American Heritage Center is located at 435 Quincy Street in downtown Hancock.

For more information, contact Hilary Virtanen, at 487-7505.

WUPPDR to hold public forum at Portage Library Dec. 15

HOUGHTON -- The Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) will hold a public forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011, at the Portage Lake District Library Community Room in Houghton. The forum will focus on a transit study completed earlier this year for Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw counties.

The study’s purpose was to enhance coordination and communication among transit providers and address gaps in service. Several different future approaches were explored, with the study recommendation being to develop a three-county transit authority over the course of the next five years.

An overview of the study and draft report will be presented at the forum. A question, answer, and comment period will follow.

The study was funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation and prepared by WUPPDR.

For further information, please contact Jerald Wuorenmaa at 906.482.7205, ext. 319 or

Friday, December 09, 2011

Updated: Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommends funding for Brockway Mountain parcel in Eagle Harbor Township

By Michele Bourdieu, with information from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund press release and Eagle Harbor Township

Brockway Mountain Summit west vista, showing Lake Superior, Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor, Eagle Harbor Township. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo courtesy Eagle Harbor Township. Reprinted with permission.)

LANSING -- The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board of Trustees has recommended Eagle Harbor Township to receive $498,000 to acquire 320 acres of property, including the summit of Brockway Mountain. The parcel will add to the Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor for conservation and recreational access.

As stated in the grant proposal document, "The KEWEENAW COASTAL WILDLIFE CORRIDOR BROCKWAY MOUNTAIN is an acquisition of a critical portion of the overall KEWEENAW COASTAL WILDLIFE CORRIDOR that extends between Eagle Harbor on the west and Copper Harbor on the east. The Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor encompasses approximately 16 miles of some of the most scenic and pristine coastal wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula."*

Aerial view of Brockway Mountain and Lake Superior, in Eagle Harbor Township, Keweenaw County, Michigan. (Photo © and courtesy Neil Harri. Reprinted with permission.)

Eagle Harbor Township and several partner organizations have been raising the 25 percent match required for the grant -- about $172,000. The township has so far received donations approaching $50,000 toward that match.

"Eagle Harbor Township, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), will raise the necessary funding for the match," said Jeff Knoop, TNC Upper Peninsula director of land protection.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which owns the nearby Mt. Baldy property in Eagle Harbor Township, has agreed to match any donations up to $100,000, if needed, Knoop added.

Panoramic view to the southwest (left) and the west (right) from the summit of Brockway Mountain. Labels show, from left, Lake Medora, TNC's Mount Baldy, Lake Bailey and Agate Harbor. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo courtesy Eagle Harbor Township. Reprinted with permission.)

The MNRTF Board's recommendations go to the Michigan Legislature for their review and then through the appropriations process. The Legislature will then forward a bill to the Governor for his approval. Typically, this part of the process is completed by the end of the summer following the Trust Fund Board’s recommendations.

"It is anticipated the closing will happen in 2012," Knoop said.

Eagle Harbor Township Supervisor Ed Kisiel said one of the goals is to raise the funds without using any tax dollars.

"So far we're on track to accomplish that goal," Kisiel noted. "We still have roughly about $40,000 to raise by next summer."

Eagle Harbor Township has donated $20,000 from the township's land acquisition fund (not from taxes) toward the match, Kisiel added.

In addition to the township and TNC, partners in the project include the Copper Country Audubon Club, the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) and the Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT).

Bird migration protection and study will also benefit from this conservation purchase. Copper Country Audubon performs many activities on the project site, including guided educational fieldtrips and bird counts. Recently they conducted the 2010 Keweenaw Raptor Survey at the summit of Brockway Mountain, collecting scientific data for this important migration flyway.**

Bill Deephouse of Copper Country Audubon said the club also conducted a three-month survey on Brockway from March 15 to June 15, 2011; and another one is scheduled for the coming year.

"Last year our hawk counter tallied 14,000 raptors exactly," Deephouse said. "We are excited to see the 2012 survey get underway next spring."

Copper Country Audubon has donated $10,000 toward the match, Kisiel said. Other partner groups have donated smaller amounts of cash and in-kind services toward the project.

Since the 1930s, the 320-acre Brockway Mountain property has been owned by three generations of the Wescoat family, who have allowed public use of Brockway Mountain and have refrained from sub-dividing or developing this parcel.

Access by car on Brockway Mountain Drive, which has been designated a historic and scenic route under the Copper Country Trail National Byway, allows great views of Lake Superior, smaller lakes, wooded steep cliffs and deep, lush valleys.

This view from Brockway Mountain Drive along the Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor shows Copper Harbor on Lake Superior, at left, and Lake Fanny Hooe, at right. (Photo courtesy Eagle Harbor Township. Reprinted with permission.)

According to the grant proposal document, the overall plan for the Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor "seeks to create a larger coastal conservation wildlife corridor. It will provide part of the Keweenaw Trail, a recreational silent sport trail along the Keweenaw coast that will link the conservation areas of Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor and allow access to the historical, recreational and esthetic benefits of the area while supporting the Copper Country National Byways program and the local economy."

This trail map detail shows the location of the 320-acre Brockway Mountain parcel in relation to the Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor (black dotted line), the Keweenaw Trail (red dotted line) and other trails and protected areas near the Keweenaw Tip. Click on image for larger map or see p. 33 of the MNRTF Grant Proposal for the full map.* (Map detail courtesy Eagle Harbor Township. Reprinted with permission.)

This Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor Brockway Mountain conservation project is one of 99 development and acquisitions projects, totaling $39.6 million, recommended by the Trust Fund Board on Dec. 7, 2011, to be funded in 2012. They were selected from 145 applications that were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the MNRTF Board.

"Natural resources and recreation continue to be among Michigan’s greatest strengths," said Governor Rick Snyder. "The board’s recommendations are a wise investment in Michigan’s economic future and quality of life. I appreciate the work of the trustees and look forward to enhanced outdoor and recreational opportunities across our state."

The Trust Fund board can recommend funding for both development projects and acquisitions to local and state agencies. This year, the Trust Fund board awarded 63 percent of its funding ($14,835,800) available for acquisitions to local units of government, and 37 percent ($8,775,000) to the Department of Natural Resources. For recreational development projects, the board recommended 93 percent ($14,854,400) of the available funding for projects proposed by local units of government, and just 7 percent ($1.2 million) for projects proposed by the DNR.

"The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund continues to be a vital program for communities around the state to enhance their livability and provide outstanding recreational opportunities for our citizens and visitors," said Department of Natural Resources Director Rodney Stokes. "These projects will provide hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, and protect special places that make our state unique."

The MNRTF is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide a source of funding for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation. The funding is derived from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights. In 1985, Michigan voters chose to make the MNRTF part of Michigan’s constitution, ensuring this program’s future.

Other MNRTF recommendations

Other MNRTF recommendations for land acquisition in the Upper Peninsula are as follows:

Negaunee Township (Marquette County) is recommended to receive $202,700 to acquire 176.84 acres to preserve and extend the township’s non-motorized trail system.

Upper Peninsula Eco-Regional Land Consolidation is recommended to receive $950,000 to acquire various properties within the Upper Peninsula to improve DNR ownership by eliminating in-holdings within DNR project areas.

Statewide, various rail-to-trail acquisitions by the DNR will be recommended for $1 million in funding to extend, connect or enhance the state recreation trail network, including lands for trailhead support facilities.

In Houghton County, the Trust Fund Board made two development recommendations:

Calumet Township is recommended to receive $29,000 for trail improvements at the Calumet Lions Park.

The City of Hancock is recommended to receive $262,500 to develop 382 feet of universally accessible boardwalk in the Navy Street Park.

Editor's Notes:

* Visit the Eagle Harbor Township Web site Township News page and click on the link titled Keweenaw Coastal Wildlife Corridor Brockway Mountain MNRTF Revision 1.pdf to read more about the ecological, recreation, historic and aesthetic values that will be conserved by this land acquisition project.

** Click here to read about the raptors of Brockway Mountain on the Keweenaw Raptor Survey Web site.

Community Arts Center Youth Gallery to host art by students from Calumet Schools, opening Dec. 10

"Our Great Horned Owl Named Lightning," painting by Tom Erkkila of Calumet Elementary School. (Image courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center will be featuring artwork by students from Calumet Schools during the month of December. Masks, ceramics, drawings, paintings, sculpture, and other incredible works of art will be on display in the Youth Gallery.

The opening reception for the young artists will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Youth Gallery at the Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC).

The CCCAC is located at 126 Quincy Street and is open Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Please call 482-2333 for more information.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Carnegie Museum to host 5th Annual Gingerbread Show

HOUGHTON -- In anticipation of their 5th Annual Gingerbread Village display, Carnegie Museum staff are busy unpacking Gingerbread Houses. They invite the public to create edible buildings to add to the museum's festive display.

"Our contest last year was so successful that we decided to make it an annual event too," says Elise Nelson, Carnegie Museum director. "All New Creations will be awarded a prize in one of many different categories."

Want some company while you work? Gather some friends and come to the Museum during any of their open hours, or come to one of the Gingerbread Building Workshops -- from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, or from noon to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

"Bring one of your own creations, build one with us, or just help with the repair and maintenance of our Playhouse!" adds Nelson. "We will have plain houses in need of decoration, some frosting 'glue,' and bits of candy and pretzels, etc. Additional graham crackers and confections to share are always welcome."

All abilities and ages are encouraged, but children must be accompanied by an adult.

The Carnegie Museum will hold their Annual Holiday Open House from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, with Storytime by Chris Alquist, Portage Lake District Librarian, and with a Visit from Santa from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contest winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded. Refreshments will include snacks and hot chocolate. The completed gingerbread houses will be on display including the walk-through playhouse.

So, put on an apron and start baking, or bring some friends and some fixings and work at the Museum. All entries must be brought to the museum by 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 15. For more information, including a good recipe for the "glue," please email or call 482-7140.

Even if you are unable to make a something for this year, you are welcome to stop by to view the exhibit -- and perhaps be inspired for next year!

The Carnegie Museum is at 105 Huron Street, Houghton. Regular Hours are Tuesday and Thursday, noon - 5 p.m., and Saturday, noon - 4 p.m. Special for the holidays: Open noon - 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Closed: Saturday, Dec. 24, and Saturday, Dec. 31.

Also currently showing: "We Have To Go Out: The History of the Life-Saving Service of the Keweenaw," "Remember Me: Letters and Photos from World War II Soldiers to a Laurium Barkeep," "The Golden Anniversary of the Portage Lift Bridge" and "Building Bridges."

Images of Gingerbread House and Santa courtesy Carnegie Museum.

Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell to visit Hancock Dec. 11

HANCOCK -- The Houghton County Democratic Party will hold their regular monthly party meeting at a different time and place this month. Instead of the first Wednesday, they will have a short party meeting at 1:30 p.m. this coming Sunday afternoon, Dec. 11, at Studio Pizza and Ice Cream on Quincy Street in Hancock.

The meeting will precede a special social event to welcome U.S. Congressional candidate Gary McDowell to Houghton County. McDowell is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, in the Orpheum Theatre (at Studio Pizza).

Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell chats with teacher and artist Kris Raisanen Schourek in Houghton during a Sept. 24, 2011, rally organized by union members and We Are the People. The rally was held shortly after McDowell announced his decision to run again for Michigan's First Congressional seat -- formerly held by Bart Stupak and now by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Iron River), who defeated McDowell in 2010. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The public is welcome to attend the event and bring friends and family to meet Candidate McDowell and find out why he wants to be the next person to represent Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

Congressional Candidate Gary McDowell addresses the audience at a rally organized by union members and We Are the People in Houghton on Sept. 24, 2011. McDowell gives some reasons why he plans to run again in 2012 for Michigan's First District Congressional seat, now held by Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Iron River). (Video clip courtesy Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

There is no charge to attend. However, those interested in a McDowell win will be invited to donate if they wish.

For more info, please contact Justin Palm at or call (206) 854-0007.

To contribute to the campaign, click here.

Make checks payable to McDowell For Congress. Contributions or gifts to McDowell For Congress are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

Keweenaw Land Trust to hold Open House at Marsin Nature Center Dec. 10

By Carol Johnson Pfeffercorn*

HANCOCK -- When Mary Sinish donated her acreage and homes to the Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT), her intent was to make it available to the public as an educational preserve. This past year, KLT has been busy remodeling the Sinish home into a nature center, which will accommodate community and educational groups, school gatherings, book clubs and discussion groups -- as well as outdoor activities such as canoeing, ice fishing, snowshoeing and native plant gardening.

The Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT) is remodeling the Marsin Nature Center near Oskar Bay. KLT will hold an Open House at the Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. (Keweenaw Now file photo courtesy Keweenaw Land Trust)

The remodeling followed the combined recommendations of an architect and the Sustainable Design Systems course taught by Rick Loduha at Finlandia University.

This photo shows some of the remodeling being done at the Keweenaw Land Trust's Marsin Nature Center. (Photo © and courtesy Pat Toczydlowski, KLT land specialist)

To view the results of the remodeling and learn more about the Marsin Nature Center, attend the KLT Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Marsin Center, located near Oskar Bay.

Directions: from Hwy 26, turn onto the Canal Road, drive 8 miles (1 mile past Oskar) to the big Red Brick Road sign. Turn right and drive approximately .8 mile to the Marsin Center, on the left.

* Keweenaw Now guest writer Carol Johnson Pfeffercorn recently moved to the Keweenaw from the Menominee area. In addition to writing, she is assisting Keweenaw Now with advertising and public relations.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Finlandia Singers and Pep Band to present concert Dec. 8

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Singers and the Finlandia Pride Pep Band will present a concert at 6 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 8, in the Chapel of St. Matthew.

The University Singers and Pep Band will be joined by five members of the Keweenaw Youth Symphony Orchestra and guest guitarists Sam Sever and Trevor Mills. The concert will include Christmas music, jazz, and two selections performed by the combined choir, pep band, and Keweenaw Youth Symphony quintet.

The University Singers and Finlandia Pride Pep Band are directed by Finlandia campus chaplain Soren Schmidt and accompanied by pianist Carla Phillips.

The concert is free and open to the public. For additional information, please contact Soren Schmidt at 906-487-7239.

Michigan Tech Concert Choir to present "A Choral Celebration" Dec. 10 at Rozsa

HOUGHTON -- As we head into the holidays, please take an evening to enjoy, reflect, and celebrate, as the Michigan Tech Concert Choir presents "A Choral Celebration" at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Rozsa Center.

General Admission is $10, students $5 and Michigan Tech students free.

The Michigan Tech Concert Choir will perform music that will include motets both old and new, music of nature, songs for peace, as well as traditional spirituals. This evening of uplifting, joyous and above all beautiful choral music will offer something for the whole family.

The concert is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

To purchase tickets, call (906)487-2073, go online at, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC), 600 MacInnes Drive, in Houghton. SDC Box Office hours are 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday, and noon - 8 p.m. Sunday. Please note the Rozsa Box Office will only open two hours prior to show times.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

WE ARE THE PEOPLE to hold event at Benishek's office, Marquette, on Dec. 8

MARQUETTE -- WE ARE THE PEOPLE will be hosting a day of action from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, at U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek's District Office, 307 S. Front Street in Marquette.

The purpose of the event is to call attention to the need to extend Michigan unemployment benefits, which are to expire on Dec. 31, 2011.

"As we know, unemployment benefits are very important to our members in the construction industry," said Michael Thibault, business representative for the Upper Peninsula Building and Construction Trades Council. "The extended unemployment benefits are set to expire and could have a devastating effect on some of our members who may suffer extended periods of unemployment. Congressman Dan Benishek does NOT support continuing the extension of benefits for our members."

Michael Thibault, business representative for the Upper Peninsula Building and Construction Trades Council, speaks at a WE ARE THE PEOPLE rally in Houghton in September 2011. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

WE ARE THE PEOPLE reports that, in Michigan alone, 66,700 will lose their benefits unless Congress acts before Jan. 1st.

Concerned citizens are invited to join this event at Benishek's office in Marquette.

"Please join us as we stand together to let Congressman Benishek know that the residents of the First District are standing in SOLIDARITY for Unemployment Benefits extension," Thibault said.

Click here for more details.