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Thursday, February 02, 2012

First Friday in Calumet Feb. 3: art exhibits, music, Main Street Calumet Market

CALUMET -- First Friday events in Calumet tomorrow, Feb. 3, will offer art exhibits, music, dance and the re-opening of the Main Street Calumet Market.

Vertin Gallery to feature work by Phyllis Fredendall

Quincy #2 Level 68 - 71, by Phyllis Fredendall. Wool and buffalo hair, felted. (Photo by Adam Johnson)

The Vertin Gallery will celebrate the opening of Phyllis Fredendall's body of new fiber work, "Mining Memories," with a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3. Refreshments will be served.

At 7 p.m., Phyllis will be in the gallery to discuss her work and process. The exhibit will continue through the month of February.

Copper Country Associated Artists to present fly fishing art by Ray Weglarz

The Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) Gallery in Calumet will be open to the public for the very first time in their new location at 205 Fifth St., formerly the Curves Building, just down the street from the previous CCAA site.

Come in, look around, and learn a very "Copper Country" art form from a man who is well known in the Keweenaw for so many things: work with the Omega house, Ray's Polish Fire Hot Sauce and a founding member of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Ray Weglarz has been fly fishing and tying flies for over 40 years. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, as the featured guest artist for this First Friday, Ray will demonstrate tying patterns for trout and bass. He will also demonstrate the way these beautiful replicas of insect life can be used in fashioning pieces of jewelry such as earrings. Ray will be available to answer questions about this craft, which has its roots in ancient Macedonia.

Participants will be able to learn about the art by watching and asking questions, but this will not be a "hands on" event. Ray will have information about where to purchase supplies should a person want to try this fine craft; and he will be glad to take orders for custom flies, earrings or hair ornaments.

Ray has fly fished across the United States and Canada as well as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He taught his first fly fishing class in 1977 in Houghton. He has since helped both men and women learn fly tying and fly casting and is available for private and small group lessons.

Ed Gray Gallery to present miniature art in first of three Call for Entry shows

The first of three Call for Entry shows opens at the Ed Gray Gallery in Calumet on Friday, Feb. 3, with an artists' reception which begins at 6:30 p.m. The show has become an annual tradition at the gallery and is one of its most popular shows. One hundred miniature pieces are expected for the show.

In March, the "Icon, Shrine, and Reliquary" show comes to the gallery. This show offers artists the opportunity to explore the depth of their creativity. Artists may submit pieces to the gallery for consideration through Feb. 25, 2012. The show opens on First Friday, March 2, at 6:30 p.m.

April's show is a fundraiser for the Calumet Art Center. Artists are asked to create a piece which interprets the name of the show: "Where Roots Run Deep." The show offers artists the opportunity to create art which reflects on life in the Keweenaw, past and present. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Calumet Art Center. Submissions must be delivered to the gallery no later than March 30. The show opens on April 6 at the gallery, which is located at 109 Fifth Street in Calumet.

Any questions regarding these shows may be directed to Lynn at 337-5970.

Backroom Boys to entertain at Omphale Gallery

Poster courtesy Backroom Boys.

Take time between visiting the First Friday exhibits to enjoy music by the Backroom Boys at the Omphale Gallery and Café, 431 5th St.

"Maestro Chuck Hill from Keweenaw Social Dance will be at the Omphale on 5th St. to give you some dance lessons at 6 p.m.," says musician Oren Tikkanen. "The Backroom Boys will play that sweet 'n' sassy old-time jazz at 7 p.m. for your dancing and listening plaisir. And, of course, Madame Julie and her staff will be on hand to serve you sumptuous gourmandises."

Main Street Calumet Market to re-open Feb. 3-4

The Main Street Calumet Market is reopening after its winter break in time for the First Friday activities Feb. 3. The indoor market will be open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 200 Fifth St. (corner of Fifth and Portland) in downtown Calumet, Michigan.

The market will continue this schedule, every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the first Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., for the rest of the year. The market features seasonal produce (when available), crafts and a variety of locally made products.

For additional information please contact Main Street Calumet at 906-337-6246, or email

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Khana Khazana to celebrate second anniversary with cuisine from 6 countries Feb. 3

Poster announcing Khana Khazana's second anniversary lunch, featuring international cuisine from six countries plus FREE Finnish ice cream Friday, Feb. 3, at Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Food Court. Click on image for larger version. (Poster courtesy Michigan Tech University international students)

HOUGHTON -- Calling all fans of international cuisine! Khana Khazana (Food Treasure) will serve food from six countries, plus FREE Finnish ice cream, to celebrate its second anniversary Friday, Feb. 3. This special lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Michigan Tech Memorial Union Food Court.

Here is the exotic menu (clockwise from lower left of poster):
  • Iranian Barley Soup -- a creamy soup with a delicate mix of delicious flavors.
  • Japanese egg roll -- a traditional Japanese family food popular for decades.

  • Indian Paneer tikka masala -- soft, juicy chunks of paneer marinated in Tandoori masala and then grilled with veggies, straight from India's most popular barbeque "Tandoor."
  • Thai Nam Tok Nuaa -- fresh, spicy Thai grilled tender juicy beef mixed with herbs and toasted rice.
  • Chinese Blanc Mushroom with baby pakchoi -- a simple but delicious family dish.

  • And a FREE dessert: Finnish Puolukka-kinuskijäätelö --a delicious homemade ice cream with traditional Finnish lingonberry.

Only $6 for a full meal that includes dishes from all six countries and FREE Finnish ice cream!

Khana Khazana, an international lunch that began at Michigan Tech in the spring semester of 2010, is a collaboration of Michigan Tech international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services. It was recently featured in an article about unusual campus food at colleges and universities. Click here to read the article, which appeared in New York, Boston and Philadelphia newspapers.

DEQ to hold public hearing on proposed County Road 595

MARQUETTE -- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials have announced a public hearing will be held this month to discuss a proposed new road in Marquette County.

The Marquette County Road Commission has submitted to the DEQ an application for a series of permits to create Marquette County Road 595, a proposed 21-mile road to connect US-41 with County Road AAA.

The DEQ will host a public hearing to receive comments on the proposal beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, at the Country Village Banquet and Conference Center, 1011 North Road, in Ishpeming.

The Marquette County Road Commission’s stated purpose is to construct a new primary county road that will improve emergency, commercial, industrial, and recreational access to northwest Marquette County and reduce truck travel through Marquette County’s population centers.

The proposed road project connecting US-41 near Humboldt to County Road AAA near Kennecott’s Eagle Mine requires wetland, inland lake and stream, and floodplain permits. The DEQ has determined the Road Commission’s application is administratively complete.

A significant goal of DEQ’s review is to solicit comments from the public, the Department of Natural Resources and the United States Environmental Protection Agency on the reasonably foreseeable benefits and detriments of the proposed road, as well as feasible and prudent alternatives to achieve the purpose of the road.

The entire application can be viewed online at under the "What’s New" category (or click here to go to the application). Written public comments, accepted through March 2, should be sent to DEQ, 420 5th Street, Gwinn, MI 49841.

The deadline for completing this review is June 15. That deadline can be extended to July 9 by mutual agreement of DEQ and Marquette County Road Commission. For additional information, please contact Steve Casey, DEQ Water Resources Division, at 906-346-8535.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Snow bikes come to the Keweenaw

The Michigan Tech Trails now allow purpose-built snow bikes such as this one ridden by Ryan Labar. (Photo © and courtesy Chris Schmidt)

By Kate Alvord*

HOUGHTON -- The new sport of snow biking has come to Houghton, delighting some and concerning others.

This season, on a trial basis, snow bike riders have been added to the list of users allowed on the Michigan Tech Trails. The extra-fat-tired bicycles will be restricted to the system's five kilometers of multi-use trails.

The inspiration to allow snow bikes at the Tech Trails came both from recent local growth in the sport and the addition of snow bike racing to this year's Nordic Ski Festival. On Saturday, Feb. 4, starting at 2:30 p.m., a 15-km snow bike race called the Low Pressure Loppet will take place at the Tech Trails, after the Copper Loppet ski races and on the same course.

Race organizer Chris Schmidt says holding a snow bike race on the heels of a ski race is ideal.

"There's not a whole lot of extra work because it's already set up," Schmidt notes. "And the trails are going to be regroomed anyway after the race."

Schmidt has also helped organize two more snow bike races this season. The Red Jacket Cyclotron takes place in downtown Calumet on March 3, in cooperation with the Copper Dog 150 dogsled race. On March 11 at Calumet's Swedetown ski trails, this year's Great Bear Chase weekend will include a Great Bear Chase Snow Bike Race, the day after the cross-country ski race and on the same course.

Spectators won't see these bikes whip along their race courses like something from the Tour de France. Snow bikes -- also called fat bikes -- travel much more slowly than road or mountain bikes. Schmidt explains that snow biking is harder and slower because it takes more energy to push forward on a soft surface than on a hard one.

"With a fat bike, the tires are so big and so soft you're almost forced to go at a more relaxed pace," he says.

Dressed for U.P. weather, Bob Carpenter enjoys a leisurely snow bike ride. (Photo © and courtesy Chris Schmidt)

Some trail users have expressed concern about possible conflicts if another sport is added to those already using the Tech Trails. Other winter activities on the multi-use trails include traditional cross-country skiing, skate skiing, snowshoeing and dog-walking.

But Jeff Parker, who manages and grooms the trails, believes the bikes will cause few problems.

"I think they'll be good trail citizens," Parker says. "They're going to be a lot less trouble than dogs. They don't bite, they don't chase people, they don't poop on the trail."

Parker adds that while he really likes having the dog people use the trails, allowing dogs has caused more policy headaches than any other issue.

As for the snow bikes, Parker estimates that on flat, soft snow, the bikes travel about three to four miles per hour.

"They're about walking pace," he says. "But it depends a lot on the snow conditions. If the snow is super hard, like it's been icy, they'll go faster."

Snow bikes have tires that can be double the size of regular mountain bike tires. These fat tires operate with very low air pressures to keep from sinking into snow. To accommodate the fat tires, these bicycles also have larger-than-normal frames.

Snow bikes (fat bikes) have very large tires and operate with very low air pressures to keep from sinking into snow. (Photo © and courtesy Chris Schmidt)

Chris Schmidt joined the ranks of snow bikers as of this year.

"It's kind of taking off in the U.P. and the Midwest," he says.

Snow biking started becoming more common in the Marquette area a couple of years ago, and spread from there to the Copper Country.

Adds Parker, "A number of the bikers [from Marquette] actually ski and bike both in the Marquette area and in the Houghton area."

Parker says the future of snow biking on the Tech Trails depends on how things go with them this season.

"A lot of it will depend upon what conflicts arise or don't arise. If usage is really low, I expect no conflicts," he says. "I think that may be the case for some time, as it grows or doesn't grow depending on how the sport goes."

Keweenaw Nordic Festival to offer free-style, classic, snow bike races Feb. 4-5

The Copper Loppet free-style races -- your choice of 15-km or 30-km -- begin at noon at the Tech Trails on Saturday, Feb. 4, preceded by middle school, high school, and junior olympics qualifier races in the morning. The 15-km Low Pressure Loppet snow bike race begins at 2:30 p.m.

All entries include the Luscious Loppet -- a dinner catered by the Library Restaurant -- available for all racers (at Jutila Center -- old hospital --in Hancock). Just the meal is worth the price of admission!

The Copper Island Classic -- 5- and 10-km classic races -- will take place at 1 p.m., on Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Chassell Trails. A Junior Nationals qualifier will be held at 10 a.m. and the 2-km youth race at 12:50 p.m., preceding the classic races.

Visit the Keweenaw Nordic Festival Web site for the full schedule and registration information. Online registration will close on Thursday, Feb. 2.

*Keweenaw Now guest writer Kate Alvord is the author of Divorce Your Car and several articles on Keweenaw Now, including three prize-winning articles on climate change in the Lake Superior Basin. Click here to read about her journalism award and see links to these articles.

Portage Library to celebrate Black History Month with Film Series

HOUGHTON -- During Black History Month, Americans celebrate the invaluable contributions that the African American community has made to the culture and history of this country. This year, the Portage Lake District Library salutes Black History Month with a unique four-part film series.

Radio personality of WMPL’s "Yearbook: The 1960s" and music historian Anthony Daniel will host "Four Musicians That Changed Pop Music Forever." This Friday night film series spans four decades from the 1940s through the 1970s, and each documentary will be represented by an artist who impacted music on a global scale. All films begin at 6:30 p.m. and the schedule is as follows:

Reet, Petite and Gone will be shown on Feb. 3 and stars Louis Jordan, one of the first Rhythm and Blues singers to be accepted by white audiences in the 1940s.

Hail, Hail Rock and Roll will be shown on Feb. 10 and tells the story of Chuck Berry, an architect of Rock and Roll in the 1950s.

A film about Jimi Hendrix will be shown on Feb. 17. One of rock’s first documentaries, this film tells the life story of Jimi Hendrix and shows how the electric guitar was never the same once he emerged in the 1960s.

Time Will Tell will be shown on Feb. 24. Although it had bubbled for nearly a decade in Jamaica, it was in the 1970s that reggae music exploded around the world, and the man who delivered its message was Bob Marley. Hear him tell about his life in story and song in this documentary.

Anthony Daniel has a lifelong history of studying rock music and the stories behind the songs. His weekly radio show "Yearbook: The 1960s," can be heard on WMPL Radio AM 920 every Saturday from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., or it can be streamed on the internet at

Everyone is invited to attend library programs and presentations are free. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Finlandia's Reflection Gallery to host book illustration exhibit Feb. 2-27

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery, Hancock, will host an exhibit of book illustrations by artists Margo Anderson, Sarah Anderson, Rebecca Langlais, and Mallory Torola, from Feb. 2 to 27, 2012.

Illustration by Margo Anderson of Hancock. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the Reflection Gallery from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2. The reception is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

Margo Anderson will exhibit her children’s book, Being Different. The book is about Anya, an ebony oriental shorthair cat who has dichromatic eyes (two different colored irises.)

"Anya is abandoned in a vacant house, locked in without food or water," Margo explains, "She’s been left there because some believe that Anya is a 'bad cat' due to her unusual eyes. One day, however, a stray dog named Dixy stumbles across Anya and frees her. Dixy takes Anya to live with a wise blind cat who teaches Anya that she’s perfect the way she is."

Margo says that she was teased herself as a child and hopes that her story will help children understand that it’s okay to be different, and that differences make the world a more beautiful place.

Margo graduated from Hancock Central High School and is a junior at Finlandia University, striving to complete her bachelor of fine arts (BFA).

Rebecca Langlais, a senior Art and Design student from Norway, Mich., will exhibit several illustrations from her book, Beginning Paths, which is inspired by Rebecca’s vivid dreams and strikingly emotional experiences.

"I see art as a major means of therapy for myself," Rebecca says. "And I strongly believe that it can be for others, as well. Within this book is a snippet of these ideas and personal inspirations."

Rebecca’s previous work was displayed in both the 2010 and 2011 Juried Student Exhibitions at the Finlandia University Gallery. Beginning Paths is a precursor to Rebecca’s senior diploma works project, which will be displayed at the Finlandia University Gallery in April.

Senior Mallory Torola, Calumet, will exhibit her illustrations from Richard Goode’s Rosie O’Grady and Flash Magee, Dog Detectives -- a children’s book about two crime-fighting canines.

Sarah Anderson, a 2011 Finlandia BFA graduate, will show her original comic, Legend of Helga, a humorous and colorful tale of a young girl who becomes a hero.

Illustration by Sarah Anderson. (Photo courtesy Finlandia University)

The Reflection Gallery is located on the second level of Finlandia’s Jutila Center campus, 200 Michigan St., Hancock.

For additional information, please contact Yueh-mei Cheng, professor of studio arts, at 906-487-7375 or e-mail

Portage Library to host "Winter Sowing" program Feb. 2

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host Advanced Master Gardener Lynn Watson at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, for her presentation on "Winter Sowing."

This presentation will teach participants how to plant seeds outdoors right now using mini-greenhouses made of translucent plastic recyclables that are placed in the snow. Participants will learn how to plant and place the containers in the snow and find out how they can continue to sow containers of seeds all winter.

"Vigorous plants growing outdoors need no hardening off," Watson explained. "I used this method at Michigan Tech for the Tech gardens in 2011, and it works!"

Watson is the head gardener at Michigan Technological University. She is also the owner of Interiorscapes, a company devoted to professionally helping homes and offices welcome healthy green plants into their living and work environments.

Library programs are free and everyone is welcome. For more information, Please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Monday, January 30, 2012

Public Transit Team to hold community forum Feb. 1 at Portage Library

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host the Michigan Tech Transportation Enterprise Public Transit Team from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Guest speakers will include Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes and Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson.

The Transportation Enterprise at Michigan Tech is currently working on a multi-year project to increase the use, efficiency, and sustainability of the Houghton and Hancock transit systems. The student group is working with professional advisers from Michigan Tech and industry sponsors as well as the City Managers of Houghton and Hancock.

This meeting is intended as an open forum for community members to voice their comments, concerns, or ideas related to the transit systems. Those unable to attend may email their comments to All community input will be considered as the project moves forward.

For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

MTEC SmartZone receives grant to support job creation through local, statewide collaboration

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) recently announced an award to MTEC SmartZone for $750,000 as part of a $6 million statewide fund for high-performance business incubators and accelerators in Michigan.

"We continue to see great things happening in Houghton. The credit goes to MTEC SmartZone for putting together a strong proposal that convinced the review committee of their strengths and opportunities," says Paula Sorrell, Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Services at MEDC.

Local entrepreneurs who want to start a businesses or small technology companies wanting to grow, can access the funds through one of the many MTEC SmartZone programs by contacting Program Director, Jonathan Leinonen.

Leinonen says, "MTEC SmartZone provides customized services for our clients, so each company is reviewed and approved based on needs and growth potential."

Grant monies have been diversely allocated through many programs at MTEC SmartZone, with a strong focus on local and statewide collaboration. For example, entrepreneurs receiving assistance from the Entrepreneur Support Center (ESC) will now have additional support and access to local business expertise in areas of legal, accounting and marketing. ESC opened in May 2011 and has already assisted 42 entrepreneurs, creating 18 LLCs and 8 technology companies. This grant will allow ESC to continue assisting company start-ups and growth.

Another great example of how MTEC SmartZone will use the grant money collaboratively is to help commercialize ideas coming out of labs and classrooms at Michigan Technological University.

"This grant is particularly exciting because it recognizes the bond between Michigan Tech and MTEC SmartZone. This opportunity will continue to strengthen that relationship and positively impact our local economy," says David Reed, Vice President for Research at Michigan Tech University.

Growing companies have unique challenges and opportunities through each stage of growth. MTEC SmartZone recognizes that, because of the Keweenaw's remote geography, companies have not had easy access to downstate talent and networking opportunities. A portion of the funding will support MTEC SmartZone's involvement in the Technology Commercialization Assistance (TCA) program. TCA helps identify capabilities within existing companies and matches them with Michigan-based university technology programs, allowing the creation and commercialization of new technologies.

The grant will also allow local technology companies to have access to Ann Arbor-based, strategic business consulting firm Phimation. They assist companies faced with the challenges of growth and those who are stagnated or are transitioning leadership.

"Of course we are thrilled with the generous award. The grant boosts MTEC SmartZone's support and growth strategies, getting us closer to our vision of creating 750 jobs in 10 years," says MTEC SmartZone CEO, Marilyn Clark. "The grant will allow us to grow our network of service providers and gain access to needed expertise through a system of collaboration, professionalism and support."

MTEC SmartZone growth strategies include the following:

1) Providing support and resources to entrepreneurs and start-up businesses

2) Supporting the expansion and growth of technology companies

3) Attraction of Fortune 500 companies to the area

Click here for more information about Michigan Economic Development Corporation grants and call (517) 335-4590.

Click here for more information about the Technology Commercialization Assistance (TCA) program and call Steven B. Wilson, Program Director (734) 998-6221.

For more information about Phimation, visit their Web site or call Dave Haviland (734) 717-4955.

To learn more about MTEC SmartZone, visit their Web site.

Great Bear Chase committee invites community members to Jan. 31 meeting

Skiers climb one of the more challenging hills at Swedetown Trails during the 2011 Great Bear Chase race. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- The Great Bear Chase committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Swedetown Chalet. Community members are invited to get involved in this 32-year tradition. If you are interested in any way, please attend this meeting -- no commitment necessary -- just see what it's all about!

The 32nd Annual Great Bear Chase cross country ski race will be held Saturday, March 10. Two new races are being added this year, plus a new stadium area for the start and finish.

Five events are schedule to take place on the Swedetown Trails in Calumet:
50km Classic
50km Freestyle
26km Classic
26km Freestyle
14km Freestyle

Registration is only $55 ($25 for the 14 km) for skiers who register by Wednesday, Feb. 8. To learn more or to register, visit

2012 is turning out to be a great snow year and the trails are in excellent shape. Don't hesitate -- register today!