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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