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, May 21, 2011

Updated: Volunteers needed to identify, pull invasive garlic mustard before it spreads

Garlic mustard, an invasive species, has small, white, four-petaled flowers like these. (Photo by Chris Evans)

HOUGHTON -- A garlic mustard removal effort will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 24, at Michigan Tech parking lot Number 26 -- the student/commuter lot on Garnet Street.

Volunteers are needed for pulling this invasive plant, mapping out its population, helping botanist Janet Marr photograph plants and action, searching in nearby woods for additional plants, and searching the hillside in eastern Houghton near another garlic mustard site to see if plants have spread.

"As some plants have started to flower, we decided that a pull pretty soon would be a good idea," Marr noted.

Botanist Janet Marr gave a presentation on invasive species at the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) annual meeting in March 2011. Here she is pictured with HKCD's display and brochures at the meeting. The display was prepared by Sue Haralson, HKCD administrator. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Marr, who has been alerting the community to the dangers of the garlic mustard invasive species with posters and information from the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, said so far the population in this area is very small so none of these tasks should take very long.

"The Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District would like for you to be on the look out for garlic mustard," Marr said. "This extremely invasive plant may be coming to a Copper Country forest near you."

If you wish to volunteer for the garlic mustard pull on May 24 at Michigan Tech, please contact Janet Marr at 906-337-5529 or

What is garlic mustard?

It's a non-native, extremely invasive plant that has just begun to show up on the Keweenaw Peninsula and has the potential to be a worse invasive species than spotted knapweed! Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is currently known to be at three sites in Houghton, one in Hancock and one in Laurium.

Second-year leaves of the invasive garlic mustard are heart-shaped to triangular, 1-3 inches wide, coarsely toothed on the edges. They give off a garlic odor when crushed. (Photo by Steven Katovich, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service)

Garbage bags, some tools, gloves, and a brush to clean off shoes when done (to make sure you're not transporting seeds) will be provided at the garlic mustard pull on May 24. You may want to bring shoes to change into and put your boots/shoes in a plastic bag to clean more thoroughly at home if they get muddy. If you have any tools please bring what you have.

Why should we care about garlic mustard?

Out-of-control garlic mustard affects everyone who spends time in the woods (hunters, hikers, birders, bikers, loggers, foresters, photographers, and others). In addition to growing in yards, along roadsides and other disturbed sites in full sun, garlic mustard can totally dominate shaded forest floors within just 5-7 years! It can crowd out native plants, including many tree seedlings. This green invader also adversely affects native insects and other wildlife. Property owners' and land managers' pocketbooks (and townships, counties, etc.) are also affected by costs of garlic mustard control. Therefore, early detection of garlic mustard sites, when it's still early enough to do something about them, helps us all.

What does garlic mustard look like?

In the spring, garlic mustard plants send up flowering stalks with clusters of four-petaled white flowers. These soon develop into erect slender seed pods that will produce numerous seeds. Stem leaves are alternate, triangular, and toothed. Crushed leaves and stems often have a garlic smell. Spring is the easiest time to spot this biennial plant that may grow up to four feet tall. For more identification tips, excellent photos, and other info about garlic mustard, visit these sites:

Flowering stalks of garlic mustard grow 1-4 feet tall. Seeds are small, produced in a row inside the capsule, and black when ripe. A plant may have up to 3000 seeds. Cutting plants a few inches above the soil surface just after the flower stalks have elongated but before the flowers have opened can be effective in preventing seed production and may kill garlic mustard plants. (Photo by Chris Evans)

What can you do?

If you see garlic mustard in Houghton or Keweenaw County, please contact Sue Haralson at the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District (HKCD) at 906-482-0214 or to report the location. If you have identification questions, you may contact Janet Marr at 906-337-5529 or

Visit the City of Hancock Web site for a poster you can share to alert people to the dangers of invasive garlic mustard.

Calumet Art Center offers new class, Writing Room

CALUMET -- The Calumet Art Center will offer "Textures of the Keweenaw" with Jane Van Evera and Ed Gray in June. Each student will create a personal book documenting the history and textures of the Keweenaw using a variety of techniques. Students also will create Artist Trading Cards.

The class meets from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 11, and 9 a.m. to noon on June 12. Class fee: $95. Materials fee: $20. Pre-registration with payment required.

For information email or call (906) 281-3494.

New Writing Room available

The T. Kilgore Splake Writing Room at the Calumet Art Center is now available during the day for members of the public to use for writing projects. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

The T. Kilgore Splake Writing Room at the Calumet Art Center is now available during the day for members of the public to use for writing projects. Author and photographer Splake uses the room at night. Rates for use of the room vary with the length of the project.

The Writing Room, located on the main floor of the Art Center, is equipped with a wireless Internet connection for use with the visitor's laptop computer.

For information email or call (906) 281-3494.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oriental Dance classes to be held at Keweenaw Heritage Center

CALUMET -- Learn the ancient and enduring art of Oriental Dance -- Near Eastern and Middle Eastern Dance. Three classes will be held, each from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., on three Sundays -- May 22, June 5 and June 26 -- on the beautiful wood floor of the Keweenaw Heritage Center St. Anne’s on 5th and Scott streets in the artists’ village of Calumet, Michigan.

Increase your flexibility, strength, carriage, grace, and range of motion. Move to enchanting rhythms in a relaxing atmosphere. All levels of fitness and body types are welcome.

Suggested donation: Three classes for $33 payable at first class, or per class: $15.

Instructor: Barbara McLean, M.A., Ed.S., LPC. For information call 612-232-7739 or email

…the music was so ancient and unchanging that I found it soothing and refreshing…
for how many thousands of years had the village women danced so…
The Women of Nar

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Main Street Calumet seeks Governance Board Members for Copper Dog 150 Race

CALUMET -- The Board of Directors of Main Street Calumet is soliciting interested Copper Country residents to serve as Governance Board Members for the Copper Dog 150 Dog Sled Race, an annual competitive dog sled race of Main Street Calumet’s Promotion Committee.

A dog team prepares for the start at the 2011 Copper Dog 150 race last March on Fifth Street in Calumet. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"The Copper Dog is really growing," said Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director.

The race is planned and conducted by the Governance Board. Eleven positions are available to serve one, two or three year terms to begin in June, 2011. At a minimum, one mandatory monthly meeting is required; however, more may be necessary to ensure all necessary preparations for race day are completed.

The race dates for next year's Copper Dog 150 Sled-Dog Race will be March 2, 3 and 4, 2012.

Interested community members may send an email message to Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director, at or call 337-6246 by 5 p.m. June 8, 2011, for consideration. Information about the Copper Dog 150 Sled Dog race may be obtained at

Keweenaw's Bike 2 Work Day to be held Friday, May 20

HANCOCK -- Bike 2 Work Day will be held tomorrow, Friday, May 20, in Hancock, Houghton, Calumet and Laurium with morning and afternoon snack and bike-safety-check stations in all three communities.

Ann Pace of Hancock, a member of the Houghton County Bike Commission, offers snacks and bike safety information to biking commuters in Hancock during the May 2010 Bike 2 Work Day. Pace prepared home-made snacks, and the 5th and Elm Coffee House donated coffee. Both will be donating these again. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

Celebrate National Bike 2 Work Day to save money on gas and get healthy. Snack stops and free water bottles will be handed out in Calumet, Laurium, Hancock and Houghton from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at various stations manned by volunteers.

Volunteers will be contributing healthy snacks. The Fifth and Elm Coffee Shop and the Keweenaw Co-op will donate coffee for participants.

Click here to register on line for the event to win prizes.

In case of rain Friday, Bike 2 Work will take place on Monday, May 23.

This is the third year of Houghton's participation in National Bike 2 Work Day and the second year for Hancock and Calumet.

Visit the Keweenaw Bike 2 Work Day 2011 Web site for the detailed schedule and location of snack and bike-safety-check stations.

* Editor's Note: See the May 23, 2010, article by Kate Flynn on last year's local Bike 2 Work Day and see more photos.

Keweenaw Krayons to hold Art Night Out May 20

MOHAWK -- Keweenaw Krayons will hold a second Art Night Out from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday, May 20, at Keweenaw Krayons (Horizon School) in Mohawk.

Sue Fouts, left, of Mohawk, and Rachel Tober of Copper City welcome visitors to the October (2010) Art Night Out at Keweenaw Krayons. Sue teaches paper making art (samples of her cards are on the table) and other crafts, and Rachel specializes in mosaic art. This Friday, May 20, Keweenaw Krayons will hold a second Art Night Out to introduce artists and their future classes to the public. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The public is invited to participate in this unique art experience featuring several working artists who will lead classes at Keweenaw Krayons over the coming weeks and months. This free event gives participants a chance to meet with the artists, find out more about the classes, and sign up on the spot. Featured art forms include mosaics, gardening, qigong-tai chi, sewing and stichery, cardmaking, and more.

Guests can browse Keweenaw Krayons art, cards and plants for sale. Additionally, they will be holding a rummage sale fundraiser that features sports equipment, household goods and craft supplies. Refreshments will be served, and one lucky attendant will win a door prize. Please don't miss this great event!

Green Film series to present documentary on sustainable food and farming

HOUGHTON -- The Green Film series at Michigan Tech will present Good Food: Sustainable Food and Farming at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in the Forestry Building. A discussion will follow the 57-minute documentary until 8:30 p.m.

Family farmers are making a comeback, growing more and healthier food, using less energy and water than factory food; and most is organic. Karen Rumisek of the Keweenaw Food Co-op will lead the discussion. Coffee and dessert will follow the film. Be Green and bring your own mug!

The Green Film series is co-sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Keweenaw Land Trust.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Public Notice: Construction in Hancock

HANCOCK -- The City of Hancock is starting water and sewer projects for the 2011/2012 construction season. Traffic could have delays, be re-routed, stopped, or closed on many local and major streets. Traffic zones are posted and fines are doubled in these areas for speeding. Hancock Street will be down to one lane for the next few months.

Visit the City of Hancock Web site for further announcements.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Local teachers, union members rally for schools

By Michele Bourdieu

Members of Laborers Union Local 1329 (in orange shirts and jackets) and other concerned residents chat with former U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak, fourth from left, and his wife, Laurie (in maroon jacket), before the speakers' presentations at the May 14, 2011, "Save Your School, Show Your Spirit" rally in Houghton. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- A crowd of teachers, union members and concerned citizens -- including parents with their children -- gathered in Veterans' Park at noon Saturday, May 14, for a "Save Your School, Show Your Spirit" rally.

Elise Matz of the Western Upper Peninsula Community Action Team (WUPCAT), one of the organizers of the "Save Your School, Show Your Spirit" rally, welcomes participants to the rally before introducing each speaker. Matz is wearing her own high school colors in memory of her positive educational experience. (Photo courtesy Allan Baker)

Pep talks by retired U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak, accompanied by his wife, Laurie, and by Gary McDowell, former Democratic congressional candidate who ran for Stupak's empty seat last November, energized the crowd. Ann Campbell, vocal music director for Houghton schools, and Terry LaJeunesse of the Michigan Education Association (MEA) also spoke at the rally, which was organized by members of the Western Upper Peninsula Community Action Team.

Teachers, union members and parents with their children carry signs to show their support for schools as they listen to the speakers at the May 14 rally. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

All the speakers expressed concern at the recently approved state budget bill that cuts funding for K-12 schools and higher education by nearly $800 million to pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for corporate special interests. In addition, the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) legislation passed earlier this year is a serious concern for Upper Peninsula educators since Hancock and Ewen Trout Creek schools have been targeted for an EFM because of financial deficits.

Campbell spoke of the role of arts education and defended programs that are often the first to be cut because they have been labeled "hobby" classes. She mentioned a long list of famous people who once studied music in school -- from Brad Pitt to Alan Greenspan -- noting that her own students were aware that the best and most successful students and leaders have arts education in their background and are encouraged to continue to study it at the university level even as they pursue careers in technical fields. She mentioned the successful Fine Arts Department at Michigan Tech as an example.

"Colleges recognize that these students (who take fine arts classes) have already learned how to learn," Campbell said.

Ann Campbell, vocal music director for Houghton schools speaks about the importance of arts education at the "Save Your School, Show Your Spirit" rally on May 14 at Veterans' Park in Houghton. (Video clips courtesy Allan Baker)

The next speaker, Gary McDowell, former state representative for the 107th District, said he is now involved with the Community Action Teams around the state and a group called "We Are the People," who, according to their Web site, are people who believe "Gov. Rick Snyder’s agenda unfairly exploits Michigan’s economic crisis to attack seniors with new taxes on pensions, students by cutting almost $800 million from K-12 and higher education, and workers through efforts to end the right to collective bargaining."*

Gary McDowell, former state representative for the 107th District and former U.S. congressional candidate for Michigan's First District, addresses the crowd at the May 14 rally for schools in Houghton.

After the rally, McDowell told Keweenaw Now he believed moving nearly $800 million out of the state's school fund jeopardizes the quality of Michigan education and the Emergency Manager legislation threatens local control of schools.

"This is so important. This is the future of our state -- that our children receive the highest quality education possible," McDowell said. "Also, local control of education is what this country is built on. People in the Copper Country are going to lose that with an Emergency Financial Manager. He has unlimited power, and the people in these communities have no say at all."

Participants at the May 14, 2011, rally in Veterans' Park listen to speakers warning that Gov. Snyder's Emergency Financial Managers will mean loss of local control of schools, broken contracts and dismissal of school boards. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Bart Stupak, former U.S. Congressman for the First District, also expressed his concern about the potential loss of local control of schools. He said he came to the rally to support the teachers and public education. Stupak noted he had just come from Gogebic County, where some of the school districts were very concerned about the EFM issue and about a 15 percent funding cut projected for Gogebic Community College.

"I think what they're doing in Lansing is totally wrong," Stupak said. "The Emergency Financial Manager becomes a dictator."

At the May 14, 2011, rally for schools, Bart Stupak of Menominee -- former U.S. Congressman for Michigan's First District, who retired in 2010 after serving in that position for 18 years -- talks about cuts to educational funding at both national and local levels.

Stupak told Keweenaw Now retirement doesn't mean he's not involved in political issues.

"I still attend events," he said. "I still help out candidates. I still speak out on issues like this."

Terry LaJeunesse, a retired history teacher and MEA leader, reminded the crowd of both good and bad educational precedents in the nation's past -- from the early Puritans' requirement that communities provide a school for children (the beginning of "local control" of schools) to the 1920s when corporations ruled and children often had to choose between school and the survival of their families to the present threat of takeovers by Emergency Finance Managers.

LaJeunesse, led the crowd in a chant, "If we do not learn from history, we are destined to repeat it."

Terry LaJeunesse, MEA leader and retired history teacher, offers the rally crowd examples from U.S. history demonstrating the importance of local control of education.

LaJeunesse also described how an Emergency Finance Manager (EFM) will have the power to fire an elected school board, break contracts and deprive school districts and communities of local control that now permits them to decide what is good for their children. As a union leader at the bargaining table, he noted, he does not represent himself but the union members and their wishes.

"I represent the custodial staff at Hancock High School, I represent the teachers of Baraga, I represent all school employees represented by the Michigan Education Association. They are my bosses," LaJeunesse said. "They are the MEA."

He pointed out that such a takeover would destroy the unions that now protect teachers and school staff members. The unions, he said, are the people who belong to them.

"People make up unions. Unions don't make up people," LaJeunesse said.

LaJeunesse encouraged the crowd to write to Lansing legislators, to call State Rep. Huuki and State Sen. Casperson, to attend more of these events and to spread the word to others -- in order to demonstrate that they don't want to sacrifice children's education for the profit of corporations.

By their votes to cut education, Huuki and Casperson show that they "don't share our values and they don't care about the underclass," said Brian Hoduski, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair.

"I see Casperson as an economic 'Uncle Tom' to the corporate and rich Republican interests," Hoduski said. "The Earned Income Credit (cut 70 percent by this recent budget legislation) gave the underclass some opportunity. Education is the other way people get out of the underclass."

Scott Dianda, former Democratic candidate for state representative, who lost to Republican Matt Huuki, expressed his concern about the EFMs taking over schools in financial distress and depriving communities of local control. They would have power to do what elected school board officials do now.

"If we have two schools in the district, do they sell off one and put all the schools in the other one?" Dianda, a life-long Calumet resident, asked. "At what point do we start sending our children on a one- or two-hour bus ride to go to school?"

Lisa Sporbert, special education teacher for the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) and president of the Copper Country Intermediate Education Association (CCIEA), attended the rally with her mother, Donna Sporbert, a para-professional employee at CCISD.

At the May 14, 2011 rally, Lisa Sporbert, CCISD special education teacher and president of the Copper Country Intermediate Education Association, right, displays her "Save Our Kids!" sign, while her mother, Donna Sporbert, also a CCISD employee, carries a sign asking State Rep. Huuki, "Who is more important -- children or corporations?" (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I came to save our kids," Lisa Sporbert said. "The cuts that are being made at the educational level are only to support corporations -- to put the money into corporations and to take the money away from all educational workers -- from the bus drivers to the teachers. I'm here to support all the students and collective bargaining rights for all the unions in the country. That's what our nation was built on."

Sierra Bishop, a guidance counselor at Houghton Middle School, carried a sign with the "We Are the People" slogan to show her concern about educational cuts.*

Brian Rendel, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair, said he was happy to see people come out for the rally on a (chilly) "summer" day.

"It was great to see Bart and Laurie and Gary and Scott," Rendel said. "Mostly I'm very pleased to see so many teachers and school employees, as well as private-sector union members. It's great to see all the union representation!"

* Click here to go to the "We Are the People" Web site.

Downtown Hancock invites public input: Take their online survey

HANCOCK -- Downtown Hancock invites you to take a few minutes to share your thoughts and ideas on ways that downtown Hancock can improve service, event and product offerings. Your input will provide direction and help to reshape downtown Hancock into a place people want to be!

Click here to go to the online survey.

Learn more about Hancock by visiting the City of Hancock Web site.

Sen. Stabenow holds roundtable with seniors to discuss Medicare

OAK PARK, MICH. -- U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today held a roundtable with local seniors to discuss Medicare at the Oak Park Community Center. As Congress continues to work on the Federal budget, and as the U.S. House recently passed a budget that would effectively end Medicare, Stabenow heard from Michigan seniors and listened to their concerns regarding the future of the health care program. Senator Stabenow has been a long-time proponent of protecting Medicare for Michigan seniors.

At today’s event, Senator Stabenow discussed ideas to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in savings by making Medicare more efficient and holding drug companies accountable, instead of changing seniors’ benefits or making them pay more. For example, Senator Stabenow said that allowing Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower drug costs could reduce the deficit by roughly $200 billion by preventing overpayments to drug companies without affecting benefits or costs for seniors.

Stabenow said she was working with colleagues on a proposal to do this and may have an announcement on proposed legislation soon.

"We need to do everything possible to responsibly reduce our debt, but we should do that by holding government accountable, measuring everything government does and eliminating programs that aren’t working," Senator Stabenow said. "Taking benefits from seniors ought to be the last thing we do -- unfortunately that’s the first thing the Republican plan would do. I will not support dismantling Medicare and doubling the costs seniors would have to pay for their health care."

Jerry Bixby, Troy resident, said, "Like the majority of Americans I oppose privatizing Medicare. The plan passed in the House would slash benefits, literally throwing millions of Americans into poverty and destitution for the rest of their shortened lives because they will not get proper medical care in their twilight years. Such a plan would be one giant step backwards!"

Penny Adams, Rochester resident, said, "Nearly everyone our age has a pre-existing condition. To send any of us out equipped only with a voucher to negotiate affordable health insurance with private insurers is an appalling proposal to make. Most Medicare participants are on a fixed income and will be unable to deal effectively with a profit-hungry commercial insurance industry."

Joanne Braund, Royal Oak resident, said, "I feel that the House plan will destroy Medicare, which is so important to seniors in the United States. The health insurance industry will see this as an opportunity to raise prices to the point that seniors will not be able to get the care they need."

During the roundtable discussion, Michigan seniors spoke out against the House Republican 2012 budget proposal and what it would mean for Medicare. According to the Congressional Budget Office, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal will double out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors, sending the average senior’s out-of-pocket expenses to $12,000 per year. It will also reinstate the Medicare donut hole -- a gap in prescription drug coverage that would cost nearly 100,000 Michigan seniors $55 million in additional costs next year.