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, September 23, 2011

Keweenaw Krayons to offer Art Afternoon Sept. 24

MOHAWK -- From noon to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24, Keweenaw Krayons is saying farewell to summer and its Art On Wheels program, and hello to fall classes and offerings with Art Afternoon, a free event for youth and families.

To celebrate the end of a great summer for the Art On Wheels program, artist Sarah Kirchner will be leading sand painting and collograph, or ink printing, activities for youths and families. Cupcakes will be served. Keweenaw Krayons director Elise Matz will also announce the winner of the Art On Wheels Logo Contest. The winning logo will be featured on Kk Art On Wheels promotional materials and merchandise when the program resumes next summer.

The Art Afternoon portion of the event features artists who work in a variety of mediums. Guests can stop at a demo and sign up to learn more about upcoming classes. Artists who teach painting, sewing and mosaics, voice and guitar, among other things, will be there for conversation and questions.

Darlene Basto will be among the Art Afternoon artists. Keweenaw Krayons is pleased to announce that she is returning to teach a four-session course in Qigong Wellness -- an introductory class of foundational movements, breathing, self-massage and meditation techniques that lead to "maximized vitality" where the mind, body and spirit are functioning with the least physical, mental or emotional restraint. Gentle movements are done sitting and standing (no floor work).

This weekly class will be held at Keweenaw Krayons from Tuesday, Oct. 4 through Tuesday, Oct. 25. For more information and registration, visit

Keweenaw Krayons is located at the Horizon School in Mohawk.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Petition signing to Recall Rick Snyder, Tom Casperson to be held Sept. 24 in Houghton

HOUGHTON -- The local organizers for the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder will be having a signature collection effort to recall Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and State Senator Tom Casperson from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24, at the City of Houghton Waterfront Park (Chutes and Ladders park) during the Upper Peninsula Building Trades Rally/Picnic.*

The recall Rick Snyder petition drive has been extended past the original 90-day window the committee had anticipated, so the signatures from May and most of June are now invalid. Anyone who knows he or she signed the petition to recall Rick Snyder prior to June 25, 2011, can now re-sign at this event on Saturday.

Any Michigan registered voter can sign the petition. It is not necessary to be a resident of Houghton County.

The local signature collection efforts that took place in June are as follows:

The community room at the Keweenaw Co-op -- June 4, 2011
Downtown Houghton during the Houghton Arts and Music Festival -- June 11, 2011
Bridgeview Park during Bridgefest -- June 18, 2011.

Click here to read about the June 18 signature collection.

* Click here to read about the Upper Peninsula Building Trades Rally/Picnic Sept. 24. The petition signing is not an official part of this Rally.

"We the People" to hold Rally / Picnic Sept. 24 in Houghton

HOUGHTON -- The "We the People" labor organization (Upper Peninsula Building Trades, U.P.B.T.) will hold a Rally / Picnic and organizing activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Houghton City Waterfront Park (the Chutes and Ladders park).

The U.P.B.T. Encourages ALL union members and nonunion workers to attend. The public is welcome. Speakers will include local labor leadership and local candidates.

The picnic will offer music and the following menu: hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, coleslaw, adult beverages and soft drinks.

NOSOTROS to host Latin American dance Sept. 23

HOUGHTON -- Join NOSOTROS for the first Latin American dance of the academic year from 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday, Sept. 23, in Memorial Union Ballroom B. Learn how to dance to Latin music and make new friends.

NOSOTROS will hold its first Latin American dance of the semester from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday, Sept. 23, in Michigan Tech's MUB Ballroom B. (Poster courtesy NOSOTROS)

The event starts with an hour of salsa lessons, then moves to open floor with salsa, merengue, bachata and much more. Free and fun for everyone; no partner is needed. This is a boat-themed party, so wear your summer/boat/cruise outfit. Light snacks and nonalcoholic drinks will be provided.

For information, contact Ali Mirchi at

The event is supported by the Graduate Student Government and the Undergraduate Student Government.

Khana Khazana to serve Chinese cuisine Sept. 23

HOUGHTON -- Khana Khazana will feature it first regular Friday luncheon for the year on Friday Sept. 23, in Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Food Court. This Friday's meal will feature Chinese cuisine by Chun Zhang.

The menu will include Kung Pao Chicken (classic dish in Sechuan cuisine, made with chicken and peanuts); Yangzhou fried rice (popular Chinese style wok fried rice dish); Hot and Sour Soup (traditional Chinese soup that contains ingredients to make it both spicy and sour); and Sugar Cake/Tang Gao (popular Chinese dessert made with flour and sugar).

Meals are served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and cost $6 per person and as always include a beverage.

Khana Khazana is the real place of food treasure at Michigan Tech, in fact in the whole Houghton Town, where international students make authentic international food.

Khana Khazana is a collaboration of Michigan Tech International Students and Michigan Tech Dining Services.

Updated: Dance Zone to host contra dances, family dance lessons, more in Marquette

MARQUETTE -- The Dance Zone in Marquette will host several dance events in the next two weeks -- including live music.

Two upcoming contra dances -- a lot of fun for the whole family -- will be held on the next two Fridays:

This Friday, Sept. 23 -- Tamarack from Iron River will be playing from 7:30 p.m. -10 p.m. The Beaumier Center on campus will be co-hosting this dance at the Dance Zone. $5; $1 for full-time (FT) students.

Next Friday, Sept. 30 -- All Strings Considered will be back to start the monthly contra and old time square dances from 7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. at the Dance Zone. $5; $2 for FT students.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Black Pearl will be back to play a variety of dance music at the Dance Zone from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. $8 per person; $2 for FT students.

A family square dance class is now being held on Fridays from 6:15 p.m. - 7:20 p.m. This is a great way to learn an ages-old American tradition with your kids or grandkids. Lessons are $5 per family.

"The kids that are doing the class right now are terrific and it's loads of fun," says Marge Sklar, Dance Zone owner.

Looking ahead: A Little Bit of Outlaw will be back to play for dancing from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8.

All events are at Dance Zone, 1113 Lincoln Avenue, Marquette.

Call Marge at 906-225-5702 for more information or click here to visit the Dance Zone Web site.

Save the Wild U.P. to hold fundraiser Sept. 23

MARQUETTE -- Save the Wild U.P. is hosting its Annual Fall Fundraiser Social beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at the Upfront and Company in Marquette. A Silent Auction (great stuff), live music by folksinger Bruce Ling and the teen duo Goldmine Girls, tasty food items, a slide show titled, "America's Lake Superior" and a mystery guest speaker -- all for a $15 donation at the door, NMU students, $5. Cash bar.

The event is open to the public. Upfront and Company is at 102 E. Main St. in Marquette.

Click here to learn more about Save the Wild U.P.

Club Indigo to present "Jean de Florette" Sept. 23

CALUMET -- Friday, Sept. 23, is the date of the next Club Indigo -- an all-French evening -- at the Calumet Theatre. The film (at 7:15 p.m.) will be a powerful drama of love, betrayal and revenge: JEAN DE FLORETTE.

It will be preceded (at 6 p.m.) by a gourmet buffet from the Copper Country's exclusive restaurant, De La Terre, Lake Linden.

Winner of seven Academy Awards, the movie, which takes place in Southern France's lush and beautiful Provence region, tells the story of Jean, his wife and little daughter, who leave Paris to attempt a new life in a rustic farmhouse, which they inherited from Jean's mother. But they are unprepared for the hostile reception they receive from the people of the area. Led by a proud, cocky farmer and his simple-minded nephew, they do everything possible to discourage the new dwellers; but Jean is doggedly optimistic. Richly textured, emotionally powerful is this adaptation of Marcel Pagnol's brilliant novel, exquisitely and meticulously filmed with galvanizing performance from an award-winning cast.

Cost for both buffet and film: $18. Film alone, $5. Children at a reduced rate. For the buffet, call at least a day in advance to the theatre to arrange for seating: 337-2610.

The movie is sponsored by Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, Calumet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MOMIX to present BOTANICA at Rozsa Sept. 23, 24

MOMIX: BOTANICA comes to the Rozsa this weekend! Click on image for larger version. (Poster courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

HOUGHTON -- MOMIX: BOTANICA comes to the Rozsa Center at 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24. MOMIX blends acrobatic dance, spectacular
puppetry, and beautiful illusion -- a magical, memorable event for the entire family! Dancers in costumes of billowing fabric, feathers and fans melt into backdrops of leaves, flowers, light and shadow, day and night. Audiences will be amazed as dancers leap, flip and move to music that recalls nature at its most awe-inspiring.

According to Rozsa Director Susanna Brent, "MOMIX is spectacular! Somewhere between Cirque du Soleil and the Peking Acrobats!"

Known internationally for presenting work of exceptional inventiveness and physical beauty, MOMIX is a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses
Pendleton. For 20 years, MOMIX has been celebrated for its ability to conjure up a world of surrealistic images using props, light, shadow, humor and the human body. In addition to stage performances world-wide, the company has frequently worked on special projects and in film and television. MOMIX has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Denmark, England, Austria, Ireland, Holland, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia. The company is based in Washington, Connecticut.

Don’t miss MOMIX: BOTANICA at Michigan Technological University’s Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $28 for Adults, Seniors $24, and Students
$20. To purchase tickets, call (906) 487-2073, go online at, or visit Ticketing Operations at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex (SDC), 600
MacInness Drive, in Houghton. SDC box office hours are 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Please note the Rozsa Box Office is
closed during regular business hours and will only open two hours prior to show times. MOMIX: BOTANICA is sponsored in part by the Katherine M. Bosch Endowment and Minnesota Public Radio.

Letter: Judge Manderfield's edict on sacred site was incorrect

By Jack Parker*

1. Judge Patterson originally ruled that the portal at Eagle Rock should be moved from the proposed location at the base of the western face of Eagle Rock, far enough to allow activities of worship to take place. That was obviously NOT a casual comment but a decision.

Rio Tinto - Kennecott Eagle Minerals project at Eagle Rock on the Yellow Dog Plains: portal construction, east view. Click on photo for larger version. (Sept. 15, 2011, photo © Jeremiah Eagle Eye and courtesy Stand for the Land. Reprinted with permission.)

2. KEMC (Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co.) attorneys made another of their arrogant and presumptuous "determinations" and declared that the site was not a place of worship because there were no man-made buildings or structures on it. The DEQ went along with the KEMC determination and allowed the portal to stay where it was.

Both KEMC and DEQ had misinterpreted the definitions, deliberately. They had presented false statements into the permitting process. Check your dictionaries. Then check Part 632, page 14 (4).**

"Sacred" may refer to a religious context (with the word "religious" itself being open for discussion), but it can also refer to objects or subjects which are revered.

That definition can be applied to the Rock unquestionably. The requirement that there be a man-made structure or building on it may apply in some places; but a lot of people have "gone to the mountain" to communicate with a god, or gods, thus making it a place of worship, without question. Worship may well be defined as a practice which expresses to a person or an object or a deity adoration, reverence and love -- essentially great worth, i.e., worthship.

Surely I am conscious of that as I watch the sun go down over the Yellow Dog Plains. The great big world keeps turning. I witness it. Yet another day is done. I am so small …

Here I must interject a bit of geology: A few thousand years ago, when man first came to the Plains, Eagle Rock was an island rising some 50 ft above a proglacial lake (bordered in part by glacial ice). At that time there were no trees, so the view from the Rock, itself higher than Mount Bohemia, would include most of the Keweenaw Peninsula and great distances to the north, south and east, too. The travel agent might label it "Magnificent!" The ancients would be awe-struck -- a mixed emotion of respect, reverence, dread and wonder. Undoubtedly it was a very special place.

I submit that the Rock has always been a place of "worship."

Kennecott displays a condition of being unaware, uneducated, uninformed.

No doubt there were made-made shelters there then, initially made of snow and ice, later made of saplings covered with skins and bark and thatch, and, more recently -- tents. Nobody specified concrete blocks and tin roofs.

I once asked a Native American lady to tell me about her religion but she demurred, very gently, saying that they do not like to talk about it with the white folks, because we make fun of such things. So we changed the subject. Would that KEMC could respect their feelings.

3. A cyclone fence has been erected around the outcrop, close to the base of the west face, where the portal is planned to be. It defines a "Do not disturb" area. We appreciate that.

Suppose that we accept the fenceline as a token of acceptance by Kennecott that the Rock is a special place. Leaning on definitions, as Kennecott is wont to do, the word "Rock" refers not only to the outcrop but also to that volume defined by planes extending vertically downward from the limits of the outcrop to the center of the earth -- just as mineral rights are assumed to do. That would be halfway to Australia -- which means that the declined tunnel must not pass beneath the Rock at any depth.

4. "Do not disturb." Turning again to our trusty dictionary (mine is American Heritage, 4th Edition).

With pleasure I accept the #1 definition: "To disturb is to destroy or break up the tranquility." Again there can be no doubt that any mining-related activity will destroy the tranquility -- be it drilling, blasting, loading, trucking or any traffic. Activities making noises, dusts and odors would likewise be allowed only at a distance of several hundred feet from the Rock.

Judge Patterson’s ruling was correct -- the portal must be moved far from the Rock.

My opinion is that the Rock is not the best place from which to access and ventilate the ore body. Kennecott made a costly mistake and must pay for it.

Judge Manderfield was misled by their arrogant and overconfident propaganda and must now rescind her edict and issue the injunction specified in Part 632 for cases of doubt.

Thank you,

Jack Parker, Mining Engineer, Toivola, MI 49965

* Mining expert Jack Parker, semi-retired mining engineer/geologist, is well respected for his practical experience in more than 500 mines around the world. Parker -- who has degrees in mining engineering, geological engineering and geology from Michigan Technological University -- specializes in practical rock mechanics.

** Click here for Part 632, Michigan Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining Law.

Finlandia Gallery to exhibit works by Tracy Krumm, Carol Lambert Sept. 22 - Oct. 22

HANCOCK -- "Explorations: The Flexible Linear Element," an exhibit of work by artists Tracy Krumm and Carol Lambert, will be featured at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, Sept. 22 to Oct. 22, 2011.

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. Tracy Krumm will speak at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

What remains and is essential? What escapes or dissipates and is no longer relevant?

Tracy Krumm's sculptures -- both reminiscent of tools from the past and metaphors for the modern world -- pose these questions in physical form.

Tracy Krumm in her studio. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

Krumm's work embraces traditional "domestic" and gender-specific techniques, like crochet and blacksmithing; but her materials are transformed into conceptual explorations of feminism, popular culture, personal history and identity.

Carol Lambert, 76, a resident of nearby Hubbell, Mich., has been working with yarn for over 50 years. Family members supply her raw materials, such as discarded sweaters and blankets, which Carol then disassembles and unravels to create knitted shapes. Lambert calls these shapes, which are inspired by bound clotheslines, "hotdogs."

"Hot Dog" by Carol Lambert. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

For this exhibit, Krumm incorporated a number of Lambert's unwrapped shapes into interlaced and knotted textile structures using over a mile of handmade ropes, which she makes by twining, finger knitting, and finger crochet.

The pieces are held in space, affected by gravity and/or tension, and they play with our ideas about how textiles -- and the flexible linear materials they are made from -- perform in the realm of the language we use to describe them -- words like drape, stretch, bind, weave and interlock.

Several of Krumm's metal sculptures will also be exhibited.

Krumm has a master of fine arts in sculpture from the Vermont College of the Arts and a bachelor of fine arts in textiles from the California College of Arts and Crafts. She is an assistant professor in the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute, where she also teaches classes for the community arts and service-learning program and continues her studio practice.

Krumm's first major exhibition was in 1988 as part of the Young Americans show at the American Craft Museum in New York City (now the Museum of Art and Design). Since then, her work has been included in more than 120 exhibitions across the country and in Europe, including the 1996 International Betonac Prize exhibition in Sint-Truiden, Belgium, which also toured for two years, and the 2004 International Triennial of Tapestry exhibition in Lodz, Poland.

Krumm's work is included in hundreds of individual and private collections, including the collections of Ford Motor Company; Bloomingdale's; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston; the Denver Art Museum; and the Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 12 noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.

Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finlandia presents Sibelius Academy Music Festival Sept. 20-24

HANCOCK -- Finlandia University, with the university’s Finnish Council in America and in collaboration with the prestigious Sibelius Academy of Helsinki, Finland, is presenting the 2011 Sibelius Academy Music Festival Tuesday, Sept. 20, to Saturday, Sept. 24.

This year, a contemporary Nordic folk ensemble and a classical piano/voice duo will perform. The six musicians are from Finland, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Five Upper Peninsula performances will take place at venues in Hancock, Negaunee, and Calumet, including two special events for area youth.

"Blink," a contemporary Nordic folk music ensemble, is a group of four women creating new Nordic folk music in an ensemble of two strings and two voices. The young women visit the traditional sounds of polskas, runolaulus, labajalgs, and ballads, entwining the traditional sounds of the Nordic and Baltic countries with their own tunes.*

Blink will perform a full-length concert at 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Tuesday, Sept. 20, in the Finlandia University Auditorium in the historic middle school, Hancock.

Blink will also perform with the classical duo Annika Lumi and Maarja Plink at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, for the final festival concert at the Calumet Theatre, Calumet.

Classical Duo Annika Lumi, soprano, and Maarja Plink, pianist, have performed together since 2009 at concerts in Finland, Estonia, and Berlin, Germany. Both from Estonia, Annika and Maarja specialize in Nordic music; but their program also includes solemn classical music (Lied, opera arias) and spiritual music.

Annika and Maarja will present a full-length concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Hancock.

Tickets for the three evening performances are $10 for adults, $5 for students under 12 years, and free for Finlandia University students.

Two special concerts for area middle and high school youth are also scheduled this year: at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Negaunee High School Auditorium, Negaunee; and at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at the Calumet Theatre. Both of these informal performances are open to the public. General admission tickets are $5.

Concert tickets may be purchased at North Wind Books, 437 Quincy St., Hancock, online at http://finlandia’, or at the door prior to each performance.

For additional information, please visit or call (906) 487-7512.

* Learn more about "Blink" and listen to their music at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Letter: Message to Judge Manderfield

By Jack Parker*

If I were an airframe designer and I recognized a couple of fatal flaws in the design of Boeing’s new Dreamliner I would not rest until I had done my utmost to prevent a disaster, regardless of the odds, the opposition and the name-calling. That’s what engineers are supposed to do -- to apply the science responsibly.

With the Eagle mine plan I have sixty-some years of mining and geological engineering experience to apply, specializing in stability problems. Here we go.

THE CROWN PILLAR, THE LID OF THE MINE, AS DESIGNED, IS NOT STABLE. INSTEAD IT IS ALMOST CERTAIN TO BE UNSTABLE. I will list the reasons in case somebody wishes to dispute that assertion.

1. The basic data put into the design formulas were fudged, intentionally manipulated to ensure passage of permits. When corrected and entered into those formulas the safety factors become lower than 1.0 -- which indicates that the crown pillar will probably collapse. Nobody has denied the fudging.

2. The diamond drill cores show significant zones of poor rock. They were deliberately omitted from the pillar design process. Nobody denies that either. The fudged numbers and core descriptions were supplied to all designers and reviewers, including MDEQ; and not one of them insisted on independent data. In engineering work that constitutes a misdemeanor.

3. The quoted design thickness, 87.5 meters, includes some of that poor rock, some of it the fractured and weathered rock near surface. To include that as an asset instead of a burden is ridiculous.

4. The crown was assumed to be of peridotite, one of the strongest rocks. In reality the cores show that a large proportion would be of the weaker sedimentary and ore-bearing rocks. That is undeniable.

5. I, personally, have no use for computer modeling in mine design because the input is what we used to call "garbage." You cannot assign rock properties as measured in the lab, on small cores, to a huge mass of millions of tons of widely variable rock in which the mine would be constructed. It is not possible to select a suite of small samples which will be representative. Try it next time you look at an extensive roadcut or a quarry! You will almost certainly select the best rock. You will not select any poor rock.

6. Computer modeling is normally tempered by "case histories" -- what happened when similar designs were used in similar conditions. For reasons not made public, but suspect -- the DEQ told their hired expert, David Sainsbury, to delete case histories from his report on the Application for Permits.

Sainsbury described the 87.5 meter thick crown as SUBSTANTIAL, not STABLE. Blake misquoted him. So did the KEMC (Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company) attorney in a tête-à-tête with Ms. (Judge) Manderfield. I heard it. Ms. Manderfield followed his lead.

7. One of the deletions was the Athens iron mine, near Negaunee. The "crown pillar" was 1800 ft thick, in jaspilite -- an extremely strong rock in lab tests -- and it collapsed overnight. The geologic structure is not unlike that at the Eagle site. That leads to the next -- an overwhelming observation.

8. NOBODY, not even a judge, can assert that a crown pillar will be stable, NOBODY, without knowing the stressfield in the rockmass. Horizontal compressive stresses are necessary to hold up a normal rockmass, with its many structural defects. If the stressfield is low compressive or, worse yet, tensile, then collapse is to be expected -- as at the Athens mine.

In at least three places in the literature we have indications of locally tensile stress. At the White Pine mine Parker measured and wrote about it. On the Yellow Dog Plains Bill Cannon (USGS) and Jim Trow (LSGI) recognized that the geological structure (primarily the long, straight, subvertical, E-W intrusive dikes) indicate that the stressfield is tensile, oriented N-S. That was our interpretation too.

Ignoring that information would probably be fatal. Stresses could and should have been measured in the rockmass in a week or so, at a cost of a few thousand dollars. Kennecott failed to do that. They guessed.

9. Neither of the DEQ experts, Sainsbury and Blake, showed facts or figures to indicate that the crown pillar would be stable.

10. To summarize: There is no credible evidence to support Ms. Manderfield’s conclusion that the 87.5 m crown pillar would be stable. All supporting statements are conjecture, based on dubious data and faulty reasoning. The conclusion was incorrect. The "Motion to Stay" should have been approved.**

I can only assume that she was misinformed by advisors.

These points have been brought to the attention of all concerned but have been ignored, with some blustering -- but not even a critical investigation. It is almost too late -- but not too late, to reconsider.

Please do that.

Thank you,

Jack Parker, Mining Engineer, Toivola MI 49965*

Editor's Notes:

* Mining expert Jack Parker, semi-retired mining engineer/geologist, is well respected for his practical experience in more than 500 mines around the world. Parker -- who has degrees in mining engineering, geological engineering and geology from Michigan Technological University -- specializes in practical rock mechanics.

Parker recently published two reports on the Eagle Mine, pointing out reasons why it is likely to collapse if mined as planned in Kennecott's mining permit. To read about
them see our illustrated Dec.6, 2010 article, "Mining expert Jack Parker says Eagle Mine likely to collapse."

** See "Groups ask Judge to halt mine blasting at Eagle Rock."
(Judge Manderfield denied this "Motion to Stay" last week. See the Sept. 15, 2011, Mining Journal article.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Updated: Marquette Road Commission to answer public comments on CR 595 at Sept. 19 meeting

By Michele Bourdieu

MARQUETTE -- At their Board Meeting tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 19, the Marquette County Road Commission will be answering written comments submitted to them during and after the Open Houses they held on the proposed County Road 595 Aug. 30 and 31.

Marquette County Road Engineer Jim Iwanicki speaks to citizens attending the County Road Commission Open House on CR 595 on Aug. 30, 2011, at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. Seated at right is Charles Wolverton, an environmental consultant for Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co., who spoke about avoiding environmental impacts in building this road. On the table is a recent, lengthy document with information on analysis and project assessment for the road, to which Wolverton contributed his expertise. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Ishpeming Township Hall, 1575 US 41 West. While written comments on CR 595 were due on Sept. 6, 2011, the Commission will again take public comments and will vote on the pursuance of CR 595, Rio Tinto-Kennecott's haul road from the Eagle Mine site to Humboldt, a brownfield site to be used for processing the ore for copper and nickel.

"Anything that we get in writing we will answer at our Sept. 19th, 2011, Board Meeting," said Jim Iwanicki, Marquette County road engineer, at the Aug. 30 Open House in Marquette.

Iwanicki read aloud the purpose of road as stated in a recent document with information on analysis and project assessment for the road: "The Road Commission purpose for County Road 595 is to construct a primary north-south road that (1) connects and improves emergency access and recreational access to a somewhat isolated but key industrial, commercial and recreational area in northwest Marquette County to U.S. 41 and (2) reduces truck travel from this area to the county's populations."

Iwanicki gave the length of the road as approximately 22.7 miles, noting 22.5 miles of that, or 99% of the 2.7 miles, are within 500 ft. of an existing road, two-track or trail. The road, if built, would provide an alternative to hauling the ore from the Eagle Mine site on existing roads, including CR 550 in Marquette, to Humboldt -- a distance of about 60 miles.

This map of the proposed CR 595 (vertical red line ending at Humboldt) was among the documents displayed at the Road Commission's Open House. Click on map for larger version.

"One of the factors in deciding where to place CR 595 is the fact that the new road is not being built and developed in a pristine wilderness. It's being built in a commercial forest area that has lots of roads and trails that crisscross the land. The timber in this area has also been harvested over the years," Iwanicki said.

As of now 23.35 acres of wetland would be impacted by the proposed road alignment, so 43.9 acres of wetland are proposed as mitigation, he explained. The plans include 23 river and stream crossings regulated by Part 301. Only six of these are new -- clear-span bridges -- while 17 existing ones will be improved and upgraded with concrete box culverts. One of the stream mitigation projects will be a clear-span bridge across the East Branch Salmon Trout River where it crosses the Triple A Road.

Iwanicki noted a realignment of the Triple A Road is proposed for this location so that the road is not right next to the existing stream.

Ideally, Iwanicki said, the Road Commission would like to have a 40 ft.-wide road (two 12-ft. lanes with an 8-ft. shoulder on each side) designed for 55 mph for the entire length of the road. However, because of environmental impacts, the Commission has decided on 32-ft wide road -- two 12-ft. lanes with a 4-ft. shoulder on each side. Some places would have a 35 mph design speed (on curves and up and down hills) to reduce environmental impacts.

This diagram, displayed at the Road Commission's Aug. 30 Open House, shows the proposed width of the road. One foot of the shoulder on each side would be paved and the remaining three feet of shoulder would be aggregate. Click on photo for larger version.

"Socially (this road) will improve the health, safety and welfare of the motoring public and also improves the health, safety and welfare of others that interact with or live adjacent to both the existing roadways and the proposed roadway," Iwanicki said. "CR 595 will also economically help three of our key local industries -- logging, mining and tourism."

He noted the proposed road has the support of all local governments including the county board and of several state and federal agencies -- MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation), Michigan State Police and the Federal Highway Administration.

[Editor's Update: Keweenaw Now reader Jeffery Loman, a Keweeenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) member, who works in Alaska as deputy director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, sent this comment on Sept. 18, 2011, on the above statement by Mr. Iwanicki: "If the Federal Highway Administration supports this road when did they prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Assessment (EA) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and sign a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)? Are Federal funds being used for this project? If they are the Federal agency that's providing these funds is taking a Major Federal Action and must comply with NEPA."]

"We have already determined at the Road Commission that this road is needed," Iwanicki stated.

Iwanicki said this road is similar to the previously proposed Woodland Road except about four miles of the road that have been adjusted.

Charles Wolverton, an environmental consultant from the Traverse City area, who is working for Kennecott, pointed out some of the differences between the Woodland Road and CR 595 -- mostly efforts to reduce environmental impacts.

George Lindquist, who works with Michigan Conservation Clubs, said natural stream crossings are important for wildlife. He asked whether the new road design would accommodate the wildlife in this wilderness area.

Wolverton replied that the new, large box culverts intended for CR 595 would have natural stream bed material put inside -- very different from what was done previously.

Wolverton also pointed out on the map about four miles that differ from the Woodland Road.*

"It's generally the same (as the Woodland Road), but there's been a lot of changes in the design to minimize impacts and there's been areas of reroute like this that really got rid of a new stream crossing and allow us to rebuild an existing one that's in dire need of being rebuilt," Wolverton explained.

During the Aug. 30 Road Commission Open House, Charles Wolverton, environmental consultant for Kennecott, points out some differences between the proposed CR 595 and the previously proposed Woodland Road -- mainly in four miles of the proposed 22.7-mile CR 595, north of U.S. 41.

Iwanicki said the Road Commission was working on a document showing the differences in the designs of the two roads, but it was not ready at the time of the Open House.

Rosa Musket, a member of WAVE (Water Action Vital Earth), asked about the cost of winter maintenance for this road.

Iwanicki gave a rough comparison with Ewing Township, where 20-some miles of local road cost $50,000 for winter maintenance. He said at this time no one has stepped up to pay for that. The Road Commission is funded by the State of Michigan transportation budget (from a percentage of fuel purchases and the cost of license plates -- not taxes), he explained. It receives about $2000 a mile for a primary road in a rural area.

"Does the Road Commission always do stuff in its best interest? Absolutely, positively no," Iwanicki said. "We do things that make sense from a community level."

In other words, he added, the local government support gives the Commission some of its marching orders.

To a question on whether Kennecott is helping fund this, Iwanicki said the Road Commission has no commitment -- no signed document or contract -- saying Kennecott is going to fund CR 595.

"We have a letter that says they're interested in talking about funding," he noted. "They have helped us with the engineering. They have helped pay for the documents here. We have a commitment from them to help us with the permitting process (under certain conditions)."**

Lindquist pointed out this area has the highest snowfall in northern Michigan.

"I just can't see how the county can take this on without full funding for everything, essentially -- whether they direct you to or not," Lindquist said.

Gail Griffith of Save the Wild UP asked how much this project has cost the Road Commission so far.

Iwanicki replied that $15,000 was spent for an environmental consultant for quality control -- to look at what Kennecott consultants produced and make necessary changes. He noted staff time has been minimal with the exception of his own additional time, especially for meetings.

Jim Iwanicki, Marquette County road engineer, fields questions from residents at the Aug. 30 Open House on the proposed CR 595.

Some residents who live on or near CR 550 said they would prefer this new road to having Kennecott use existing Marquette roads.

"We live on 550, and right now it is non-stop (truck traffic) so we would be glad (for the 595)," said one such resident (unidentified). You don't feel safe walking down the road, but I don't think it's fair for the county to be left (after this mine is completed). What are you going to do with this beautiful big road? Are you going to maintain that plus the Triple A?"

Iwanicki replied, "If it's an all-season road that's what we are required to do. There's a process for putting it back into a seasonal road standard."

He noted that would be a possibility if there were no more development in that area; however, he added he believed future development would occur to the west.

"I think ultimately you're going to see an east-west road being developed betweeen Marquette County and Baraga County," Iwanicki said. "There is no public road connection north of US 41 to Baraga County."

Gabriel Caplett of Headwaters News made a comment referring to the difficulty Kennecott had with permitting the Woodland Road because three federal agencies questioned its environmental impacts.*

"I don't understand how you're going to convince the EPA that this isn't a Kennecott haul road (from the mine to the mill)," Caplett said.

"That is a valid point. I cannot control what EPA (or DEQ) will do," Iwanicki said. "My board has determined that it's in the public's best interest."

Mike Springer of the Marquette Township Planning Commission said his township would be greatly impacted if truck traffic from the Eagle Mine comes down 550.

As for township residents' opinions on the Eagle Mine, Springer said they were looking at both sides.

"People have concerns about the environmental impacts (of the Eagle Mine)," Springer said. "They (also) certainly look at it as helping the economy."

At the end of the Open House, Gene Champagne, a resident of Big Bay, told Keweenaw Now he believed the road should have been included in the original Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit application for the mine.

"We shouldn't even have to be here. The DEQ did not follow the law. These permits are illegal. That's why they're being contested in court," Champagne said. "They should have addressed all this in the original permit application. The impacts of transportation were not addressed in the original permit. They only did an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) on the fenced area. The law requires that they do an EIS on all impacted areas of the mine. The Humboldt mill, this road and the electricity -- all should have been in the original permit. They piecemealed their permit to get around the law, and the DEQ let them get away with it."

Champagne has acted as a spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Big Bay in a lawsuit contesting Kennecott's electrical permit. Kennecott lawyers and Michigan's Assistant Attorney General accused him of practicing law illegally, he said.

"I wasn't claiming to be a lawyer. I was just conveying the group consensus," Champagne explained. "The Kennecott lawyers and the Assistant Attorney General were afraid of me kicking their ass in court."

Champagne noted the Concerned Citizens of Big Bay want Kennecott to do the electric permits over with a full EIS and everything else the law prescribes.

"They didn't ask for the permits until the wires were a stone's throw from their gate," Champagne said. "There's never been electricity on the Yellow Dog Plains. They (Kennecott) paid for the whole thing and then asked for a permit afterwards."***

Champagne said he objected to the way Kennecott has divided the community with their Eagle project.

Barbara Bradley of Skandia, who also attended the Open House, sent this comment to Keweenaw Now: "I think twenty, thirty years from now, if this road goes through -- along with the Eagle Project -- many of our county leaders will regret what they have left for their grandchildren and the U.P."

Editor's Notes:

* Kennecott's proposal for the Woodland Road was rejected by the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. Click here to read Catherine Parker's article in Headwaters News, including the objections of these three agencies.

** Click here to read the March 31, 2011, press statement from Rio Tinto-Kennecott concerning their agreement with the Marquette Road Commission.

*** Click here to read Gene Champagne's article on Kennecott's electric permit.