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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Portage Township Board candidates express views at forum; most challengers to incumbents absent

By Michele Bourdieu

Panel members for the Oct. 22 League of Women Voters Portage Township Board Election candidates' forum begin with questions for Bruce Petersen, incumbent township supervisor. Pictured here, from left, are Jill Burkland, who introduced the candidates; Kathy Flagstadt, Voter Service chair; and Fredi De Yampert, president, who asked questions from the League and from the audience. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- The Oct. 22 League of Women Voters Portage Township Board Election candidates' forum, with the exception of the treasurer position, was marked by the absence of the candidates challenging the incumbents in a township that has been marked recently by controversy, a lawsuit over zoning enforcement and a costly appraisal caused by incorrect tax records. Actually, the challengers' absences allowed two incumbents -- the supervisor and the one trustee who attended the forum -- the advantage of more time to explain the problems that had beset the township, how they have worked to solve them, and what improvements they envision for the township's future.

An audience of about 60 people, scattered through the auditorium at Houghton High School, submitted written questions to the panel, made up of three League members: Jill Burklund, who introduced the candidates; Kathy Flagstadt, Voter Service chair; and Fredi De Yampert, president. De Yampert read the questions to the candidates, who were timed and limited to one-minute answers. Each candidate introduced himself/herself in an opening statement, answered questions, and gave a brief summary at the end of the questions.

Bruce Petersen: Present board working to solve inherited problems and to plan for future

Bruce Petersen, a Democrat, who has served as Portage Township Supervisor for the past two years (since his predecessor, Bill Bingham, resigned in 2010 to run for County Commissioner) was the first to speak at the forum. Petersen pointed out that, before accepting the position of township supervisor, he had worked for 34.7 years for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) under the U.S. Department of Agriculture and, with his agency, had addressed both environmental and economic issues. His experience with NRCS included oversight of contracting, design, engineering and construction; and he had to come up with unique solutions to individual problems, both for units of government and for individuals. He also involved his agency in the Torch Lake Superfund remediation of stamp sand.

"That taught me a lot about hydrology and engineering, forestry assistance, working with units of government. (including) tribal units of government. I came away with a lot of information over those 34 years that I think bodes well for this position," Petersen said.

Asked about what crucial issues he thinks need to be included in the township's Master Plan, now being updated, Petersen said the Master Plan is very important as the  baseline for all planning and zoning laws in the township.

"We need to get a sense of place in our Master Plan. What do we value as citizens in the township?" Petersen said. "That aids us in the future and gives us direction for where we're going."

In this video clip Petersen mentions some of the problems he inherited from his predecessor, including worn-out equipment, a failed tax review that cost the township $95,000 and the Valley View Quarry zoning violation, which led to a complaints by residents who threatened to sue the township:

At the League of Women Voters candidates' forum for Portage Township, Bruce Petersen, Democrat, Portage Township supervisor, introduces himself as a candidate for re-election. His challenger, Mike Wilmers, Republican, declined the invitation to participate in the forum. (Videos by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Replacing worn-out equipment was, for Petersen, a safety issue and therefore part of his responsibility.

"I have to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Portage Township," Petersen said.

The failed tax review meant the township's records did not match what the state auditor found on the ground, Petersen explained. As a result, at the time he became supervisor, the state seized the tax records and ordered the township to re-do the appraisal, which was very costly.

The Valley View Quarry, owned by Moyle Inc., was actually a conflict of interest for Petersen's predecessor, Bill Bingham, whose son was a Moyle employee, Petersen noted.

In addition, from 2006-2010, Bingham worked as the zoning administrator as well as the township supervisor. The Quarry violated zoning because it was on land zoned rural residential.

Residents living near the quarry complained especially about noise that was actually magnified because of the landscape at the quarry, and they threatened to sue the township for failing to enforce the zoning ordinance.

"It took until 2009 before Bingham wrote a letter to Gary Moyle telling him that the quarry was illegal in the rural residential land use area," Petersen noted.

Eventually, the township sided with the complaining residents; but, because of HB 4746, a bill introduced by 110th Michigan House District Representative Matt Huuki and passed in 2011, zoning could no longer be used to prevent extractive industries.* The township then came to an agreement with Valley View called a Consent Judgment, which regulates how the quarry can be operated (dust and noise abatement, hours of operation), the legal permits it needs, how it would be defined as closed, once closed how the remediation would take place and who would pay for it.

This recent photo of Valley View Quarry shows a partially completed, grassed "earthen noise suppression berm" in the background. It has now been extended further to the southwest covering the front of the pit. Noise abatement is one of the requirements in the Consent Judgment that allows the township to regulate how the quarry is run. Also in the background are the sediment basins where all the wash water is collected and a large wetland area and tree line where the concerned citizens reside. (Photo © and courtesy Bruce Petersen)

In this video clip, after expressing his support of the Pilgrim River Watershed conservation project, Petersen speaks about the Valley View Quarry issue and the Consent Judgment:

During the candidates' forum, Bruce Petersen replies to questions on the Pilgrim River Watershed conservation project and the Valley View Quarry issue.

"I think if people read what Judge Roy Gotham stated in his final decision -- how we fought for what we believed was right concerning our zoning issues -- they would support us in this election," Petersen told Keweenaw Now after the forum. "They would know full well that we are supporting the citizens of the township."

Petersen also expressed strong support for the Portage Lake District Library.

Asked about ongoing grant proposals, Petersen mentioned grant proposals under the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to improve the multi-use trail from Chassell to Houghton. While it would allow snowmobiles in winter (although some residents have objected to this) it would have an improved surface for biking and walking, and both Chassell and Portage townships have agreed to maintain it. It would allow people to bike from the trail along the waterfront to Michigan Tech.

"It would be a real nice opportunity for people to bike instead of driving," Petersen said.

He is also working with Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes on a grant for composting yard waste.

Mike Wilmers, a Republican and former chair of the Portage Township Planning Commission, who is challenging Petersen for the township supervisor position, did not participate in the forum.

Wilmers did reply to the League's questions in the Voters' Guide. He mentions, as issues of concern to him, "resolution of all zoning issues" and "the questionable misappropriation of Portage Township taxpayer funds." He describes himself as a retired civil engineer and business owner.

According to Petersen, Wilmers was removed as chair of the Planning Commission because he had gone to Lansing and, claiming to represent the township, signed documents in support of Matt Huuki's HB 4746 without informing the Township Board or the Planning Commission.*

"He (Wilmers) has all the right to represent himself, but not to represent the township on such an issue," Petersen said. "Only the (township) supervisor can do that."

Later, Petersen added, Wilmers attempted to sue the township board, claiming they had violated the Open Meetings Act when they sent him a letter about his removal from the position of Planning Commission chair. Petersen said they sent him a second letter, approved by their lawyers and apprising Wilmers of his rights. The lawsuit did not materialize and Wilmers was awarded a monetary settlement, which was not enough to cover his own legal fees.

Two candidates vie for treasurer position

During the forum, incumbent Treasurer Carol Little, who has held the position for six years, answered questions along with her challenger, Quincy Higgins Arney. Both said they were familiar with software used for the position and were open to learning how to use new accounting software. Both expressed a need for the township to use the Internet.

Little said she would like to see wireless Internet "all the way to Pelkie."

Arney suggested the township post all township government documents on line or distribute them through a volunteer email list.

Arney mentioned a sewer project that affected her. She said she would like to see more grass roots involvement in such projects as this one (which included tax increases and a loan for the township) so residents can be included in the decision making.

This video clip includes statements from each of these two candidates on what they think is the most important financial issue for the township:

The two candidates for Portage Township treasurer, incumbent Carol Little and challenger Quincy Higgins Arney, answer a question on township financial issues and give their closing statements.

In her statements published in the Voters' Guide of the League of Women Voters, Little describes herself as a Republican and a Houghton County native. She also completed two years of state assessing classes to become a licensed Assessor, which, she says, helps her understand the taxation process better so she can help the taxpayers understand it better.

Arney also answered the League's questions in the Voters' Guide. She describes herself as an Independent Landscape Designer, having no party affiliation. She also served two years in AmeriCorps, where she helped facilitate programs for children and teens, the environment and the elderly. Arney notes she received special training in conflict resolution and peer mediation -- a skill she would like to bring to township government.**

One trustee candidate speaks at forum; six are absent

Only one of the seven trustee candidates, incumbent John Ollila, attended the forum. Ollila, a Democrat and a retired high school math/science teacher and college English teacher, described himself as a lifetime resident of the township, an outdoor person and trout fisherman (a member of Trout Unlimited), a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Malaysia) and a supporter of the Portage Lake District Library. He has served as Portage Township Trustee for four years. He also said he has a near photographic memory for text, which is helpful for township meetings.

In the following video clip, Ollila speaks about his strong support of the Pilgrim River Watershed conservation project. He also mentions an issue he feels should be addressed in the present revision of the township's Master Plan, gives more detail on the Valley View Quarry issue and the Consent Judgment, and answers a question on mining.

During the Portage Township candidates' forum, John Ollila, Portage Township trustee, answers questions on township issues.

In the League's Voters' Guide, Ollila says he believes land use and zoning will be critical issues in Portage Township.

"Families have chosen to live in Portage Township because of zoning protection. Yet we often have vocal individuals at meetings who equate any regulation as a landowner rights issue," Ollila writes. "We must cooperate. My vision is for the county's citizens to become more open-minded, inclusive, and pragmatic. Totally excluding another's interest or values is not visionary, and definitely not progress."**

In the following video clip, Ollila elaborates on the importance of zoning protection and his own learning experience in serving on the Township Board. He also comments on rumors about the Board that he would be glad to address and expresses strong support for the incumbent Board members.

John Ollila talks about zoning protection and gives his closing statement at the end of the forum.

The League announced at the forum that the other trustee candidates -- incumbents Peggy Lee Anderson and Mark Jalkanen and challengers Bill Bingham, Andrew Kemper and Jonathan Stone -- declined to participate, while they did not hear from incumbent James Zerbst. Anderson, Bingham and Kemper did reply in writing to the League's questions in the Voters' Guide.**


* HB 4746, introduced by Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine), 110th House District representative, became effective as law July 20, 2011. Click here to read the final version.

** Click here to access the Copper Country League of Women Voters' local Voters' Guide. Comments from Portage Township candidates begin on p. 11 of the Guide.

Orpheum Theater to host music benefit for Engineers Without Borders TONIGHT, Nov. 3

HANCOCK -- Tonight, Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Orpheum Theater Steve Jones and the Garden City Hot Club along with Outwash Plain will perform for the Engineers Without Borders Benefit Show! Steve and the Hot Club will take the stage about 8 p.m. or so, and Outwash Plain will be on at around 9:30 p.m. Minimum donation: $7.

The Orpheum Theater is at 426 Quincy St. in Downtown Hancock.

Click here to read about Michigan Tech's student chapter of Engineers Without Borders and their work.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Michigan Tech News: Running Ultramarathons in the Kalahari: Tech Student Says Why Not?

By Kevin Hodur
Posted Oct. 26, 2012, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted with permission

Michigan Tech's Breanna Cornell in training on Sharon Avenue for her run across Botswana's Kalahari Desert. (Photos courtesy Michigan Technological University)

HOUGHTON -- For most of us, running a marathon is a dream, somewhere between being a rock star and an all-star slugger. But for Michigan Tech environmental engineering student Breanna Cornell, a marathon didn't seem to be quite enough of a challenge.

After watching the ultramarathon documentary "Running the Sahara" in her local running store, Cornell, whose goal was to run a marathon after high school, realized that a marathon was not the limit of what was possible.

"I asked myself, why did I put a limit at just a marathon?" the environmental engineering major said.

"You're crazy," was her friend's incredulous comment. "I know," Cornell replied with a smile.

Eager to train for distances beyond 26.2 miles the right way, Cornell got in touch with Ray Zahab, one of the runners starring in "Running the Sahara." Rather than just offering her some tips, Zahab invited Cornell to join his new venture, impossible2Possible (i2P).

Cornell will be one of eight youth ambassadors for i2P's Expedition Africa 2012, highlighting water issues in Botswana's Kalahari Desert. The ambassadors will alternate between running ultramarathons, studying water issues, and sharing their experiences -- of both running and life in the desert -- with students around the world. The entire i2P expedition will cross 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) of the Kalahari in Botswana; Cornell will travel 200 kilometers.

Breanna Cornell, Michigan Tech student in environmental engineering, will run 200 kilometers in Botswana's Kalahari Desert to call attention to water issues.

When asked if running 50 kilometers (about 31.1 miles) per day for four days straight was intimidating, Cornell didn't hesitate.

"Oh, not at all," she said, with a small shrug. "Before the school year I ran from my home in Grand Rapids to the Mackinac Bridge as a fundraiser for Tech's Rowing Club."

Cornell stressed that water is the important issue for the i2P expedition. "Water is something we really take for granted, especially in Michigan," she said. "The running
is just the fun part."

Indeed, the focus of the expedition is on water quality issues, with running as a metaphor for overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. With so much of the world's population without access to safe, reliable sources of drinking water, i2P has partnered with Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, to draw attention to the looming crisis.

Cornell has been preparing herself for this expedition, both with her physical training and her studies, and she's ready to make what to most of us seems impossible, possible. There is one chance the expedition won't be taking, however.

"There's a park we have to drive through, rather than running across it," she said with a hesitant smile. The reason? "Apparently the lions will eat you."

Follow Breanna Cornell and her fellow youth ambassadors on their journey Oct. 29 through Nov. 12 at impossible2Possible.

* Editor's Note: The author of this article, Kevin Hodur, has a different kind of race to run this week. He is running as a write-in candidate for Hancock City Council. Click here to read more ...

Thursday, November 01, 2012

UPDATED: Kevin Hodur, write-in candidate for Hancock City Council seat, offers expertise in community planning, development

By Michele Bourdieu

Kevin Hodur, a write-in candidate for the Hancock City Council at-large seat on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, chats with a customer, Hancock artist Kanak Nanavati, in his art and writing supply store, Keweenaw Archive, in the Jutila Center in Hancock. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- On Nov. 6, 2012, Hancock voters will have an opportunity to vote for a young write-in City Council at-large candidate with a progressive vision for their city.

Kevin Hodur, Ph.D., is offering voters his expertise in community development, business and city planning.

Hodur is a busy, energetic college instructor and small business owner who recently completed his doctorate in Rhetoric and Technical Communication at Michigan Tech University, where he now teaches a Perspectives class for first-year students titled "People and Their Places," based on his major field of study, urban geography and community development.

"What I teach is the same idea I'm running on: The development decisions that we make now will be in place for generations," Hodur said. "For the sake of our children and our grandchildren it's vital that we get them right."

Hodur also applies the communication part of his training in courses on public speaking and sports broadcasting that he teaches at Finlandia University and in his friendly manner with customers who frequent his small shop of art and writing supplies, the Keweenaw Archive, located in Finlandia's Jutila Center for Global Design and Business, a business incubator in Hancock.

Baraga resident Susan Ruddy, who also resides on Isle Royale, where she works for the National Park Service in the summer, purchases some art supplies at the Keweenaw Archive from owner Kevin Hodur. "Everyone's an artist," Ruddy said with a smile.

Hodur's wife, Cynthia Hodur, assistant manager at the Keweenaw Co-op, in her spare time, helps him with the Keweenaw Archive, which is conveniently located in the same building as Finlandia's International School of Art and Design.

Hodur and Bonnie Holland, Jutila Center executive director, as well as former Hancock Mayor Barry Givens, applied to fill temporarily the at-large councilor seat vacated by the resignation of Jim Hainault, who recently moved out of the City of Hancock. At a special meeting on Sept. 12, 2012, the Hancock City Council nominated Givens and voted, by a vote of four to two, to appoint Givens to fill the seat temporarily -- for the September and October meetings.*

Givens and Hodur each filed a declaration of intent form by Oct. 26 to run as a write-in on the Nov. 6 ballot for a two-year term ending in 2014. Holland decided not to run, although Councilor Lisa McKenzie had nominated her at the Sept. 12 meeting.*

Hodur, who has a good relationship with Holland, said he consulted with her before he decided to run for the seat as a write-in on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"She (Holland) has some excellent ideas about developing our downtown, which I think are important," he said.

Hancock City Councilor John Slivon, who is running for re-election to the Council, expressed his support for Hodur's candidacy.

"I think it's time to get some more forward-looking people on the Council," Slivon said. "I hope we both win."

Hodur's write-in opponent, Barry Givens, was Mayor of Hancock at the time his employer, Moyle Inc., built the controversial condominium on the Portage Lift Bridge, which many residents have criticized for its effect of blocking the viewscape.

"I think there are some transparency questions there," Hodur said about the project. "I don't know enough about Barry to call it a conflict of interest, but it did take a public vista and made it a private space."

As for his own candidacy, Hodur believes he can make a positive contribution if elected to the Council.

"As a citizen of Hancock -- and being very happy to live here -- I feel I should do my part with the expertise that I have," Hodur noted.

Voters must write in the name of an eligible write-in candidate in the NONPARTISAN section of the ballot, under "COUNCIL MEMBER AT LARGE, Partial Term Ending 11/12/2014. Vote for not more than 1."

Both Kevin Hodur and Barry Givens are eligible write-ins because they submitted their declarations of intent by Oct. 26, 2012. According to Hancock City Clerk Karen Haischer, they are the only ones who submitted declarations for this position by the deadline.**


* See our Sept. 18, 2012, article on the Sept. 12 special meeting of the City of Hancock.
** Click here to read the Michigan law for write-in candidates.
Click here and fill in the required information in order to see your own sample ballot.

Michigan requires voters to bring to the polls an acceptable form of voter photo identification or a signed affidavit attesting that you do not have a photo I.D. Click here for details on voter identification.

UPDATE: Learn more about Kevin Hodur and his commitment to Hancock on his campaign Facebook Page. It is open to all. No need to be a member of Facebook. Just CLICK HERE.

Khana Khazana to offer Swedish cuisine Nov. 2 at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON -- Khana Khazana will feature Swedish dishes for lunch on Friday, Nov. 2, in Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Food Court. Thi Ngan Nguyen is cooking Swedish creamy mushroom soup, grilled chicken with roasted potatoes, and fried pasta with pork and fresh vegetables. A vegetarian alternative will be offered.

Khana Khazana international lunches are served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays in the Memorial Union Food Court. A full meal costs $6.95 and includes a fountain drink. Individual items are available for $2.50 each.

Khana Khazana is a collaborative effort of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services.

First First Friday in Calumet: Gallery openings, art activity, lively jazz and swing to enjoy Nov. 2

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet will be the scene of art gallery openings, art activity and music by the Backroom Boys Jazz Band on Nov. 2.

Ziyad and Co. to feature fiber art

"Sun" by Bill and Linda Sumner. (Photo courtesy Ziyad and Co.)

The art work of fiber artists from across Michigan and the country will be featured in the November show, "Fiber on Fifth," at Ziyad and Co. art gallery in Calumet. Each artist puts a unique, personal spin on the natural elements of fiber to create pieces of art that express the artist's passions.

An opening reception will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on First Friday, Nov. 2, at Ziyad and Co. art gallery at 109 Fifth St, Calumet. For more information call 906-337-5970 or email at

Call for Entry: Glorious Gifting Christmas Show

The Christmas Holiday will soon be here. So it is time to start thinking about the Christmas show at the gallery. Ziyad and Co. (formerly known as the Ed Gray Gallery) in Calumet is accepting submissions for the Christmas show, "Glorious Gifting." The show will be on display from Dec. 7 to Jan. 4. There will be an open reception where all artists are welcome on Dec. 7.

This will be a juried show open to all artists. The art work should reflect the holiday and have a winter theme. This is the perfect venue to display your special items for the holidays. Up to three pieces may be submitted and must be the artist's own artwork. Any artists that are interested in participating are welcome to call for information at 906-337-5970 or email Photos of art work may be emailed or may be brought to the gallery. All artwork should be submitted by Nov. 20, 2012.

Copper Country Associated Artists to host Matchbox Ornament Workshop

For First Friday, Nov. 2, the artists at the Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) along with local fabric artist Karena Schmidt will be leading a Matchbox Ornament Workshop from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Matchbox ornaments for the holiday season. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Associated Artists)

Little matchboxes have been a source of inspiration for art for a very long time. They are fun to decorate for all occasions, but the Christmas matchbox advent calendar is a classic: twenty-four boxes decorated in holiday colors, each filled with a special treat and stacked like blocks or used as ornaments hanging from a tree.

Each participant will use paper, fabric, sequins and beads to create about four handmade ornaments fashioned out of matchboxes. Inside the matchbox there is often a message. These are fun to think up ahead of time. All materials will be provided, but participants may want to bring treasures from home like tiny photos and keepsakes to incorporate into this project. Participants can drop in any time during the workshop, but supplies are limited.

CCAA members have been making very special Christmas Angel ornaments for the 2012 season, and these are available at the Gallery, which is located at 205 Fifth Avenue in Calumet and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Please call 337-1252 for more information.

New art by Randy Wakeham at Vertin Gallery

"Falling Forward," painting by Randy Wakeham. (Photo courtesy Vertin Gallery)

Please join the Vertin Gallery in welcoming local artist Randy Wakeham and his new body of work. A reception for the artist will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at the Vertin Gallery, 220 Sixth Street in Calumet.

The show will remain on display at Vertin through the month of November. For more information call (906)337-2200.

Backroom Boys Jazz Band to entertain at Café Rosetta Nov. 2

The Backroom Boys will play jazz and swing on First Friday, Nov. 2, at Café Rosetta in Calumet. Pictured here, from left, standing, are musicians Oren Tikkanen, John Munson, Bob Norden and, seated, Randy Seppala. (Photo courtesy Backroom Boys)

While the galleries are open for First Friday in Calumet, the Backroom Boys Jazz Band will be playing traditional jazz and swing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Café Rosetta. If there's room, they may have a pre-election second-line march, so bring your red, blue, or purple umbrellas.

Café Rosetta is at 104 5th St, Calumet.

Congressional candidate Gary McDowell to visit Hancock Nov. 2

HANCOCK -- Gary McDowell, Democratic candidate for Michigan's District 1 U.S. House of Representatives seat, now held by Republican Dan Benishek, will be touring the district this weekend. At 4:30 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 2, McDowell will be in Hancock to greet supporters at the office of the Houghton County Democratic Party, 323 Quincy Street.

Gary McDowell, Democratic candidate for Michigan's First District U.S. House of Representatives seat, speaks at a fundraising event at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock on Dec. 11, 2011. McDowell will visit Hancock at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, Nov. 2, during a whirlwind campaign tour of the First District. (File photo by Keweenaw Now). Click here to read our article on his visit last December, including video clips.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, McDowell will visit these three UP locations:
12:30 p.m. ET
Marquette County Democratic Office
832 W Washington St
Marquette, MI 49855

2:30 p.m. ET
Alger County Democratic Office
228 W. Superior St
Munising, MI 49682

5 p.m. ET
Chippewa County Democratic Office
123 Portage St.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

On Sunday, Nov. 4, McDowell will visit supporters in Democratic offices in the following northern Michigan towns:  Cheboygan, Alpena, Gaylord, Kalkaska and Traverse City. On Monday, Nov. 5, he will visit Suttons Bay, Elk Rapids, Charlevoix and Petoskey.

To learn more about Gary McDowell, visit his Web site.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Michigan Tech Archives traveling exhibit on 1913-14 Copper Strike opens Nov. 1

Poster for "Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike," a traveling exhibit of the Michigan Tech Archives, which opens Nov. 1, 2012, at the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. (Poster courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

HOUGHTON -- "Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike," a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will premier at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, in the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

Members of the exhibit project team will discuss the research and design process for the exhibit. The event is free, open to the public and refreshments will be served.

The exhibit was made possible through a $14,500 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by Michigan Technological University, Cranking Graphics, and Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara.

"Tumult and Tragedy" explores the story of a remarkable period in Michigan’s history. The conflict, sorrow, and tragedy of this confrontation between organized labor and mining companies affected local residents from all walks of life, created headlines across the nation, and continues to resonate in Michigan’s Copper Country today.

Tensions boiled over on July 23, 1913, when members of the Western Federation of Miners took to the streets over grievances about pay and working conditions. The strike was marked by violence, including the deaths of more than 70 people, mainly children, during a Christmas Eve party at Calumet’s Italian Hall. Local mining companies refused to recognize the union, however, and the strike ended in April 1914.

The "Tumult and Tragedy" traveling exhibit consists of 12 panels exploring the context, community, conflict, and consequence of the events and includes photographs, excerpts from newspapers, documents, and songs from the strike era. A free brochure contains links to related web content about the 1913-14 Michigan copper strike.

The exhibit will remain on display at Michigan Tech through November 30 during the library’s regular hours of operation: Monday-Thursday 7:45 a.m. to midnight, Friday 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to midnight.

In December, the exhibit will begin a tour of six libraries and museums in Houghton, Ontonagon and Baraga Counties. Special events at each host site will include presentations relating to the 1913-1914 Michigan Copper Strike.

Click here for further information about the traveling exhibit and the schedule of events or call 906-487-2505.

Michigan Tech to host 2012 Northern Lights Film Festival Nov. 1-3

HOUGHTON -- The Eighth Annual Northern Lights Film Festival will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1, 2 and 3, in the McArdle Theatre on the Michigan Tech campus. Featured this year is filmmaker Ray Tintori and the award-winning dramatic film Beasts of the Southern Wild (Zeitlin 2012). Tintori headed up the special effects unit for the film and is a member of the independent filmmaking collective Court 13.

Tintori will introduce the film at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, and participate in a Q and A following the film. Beasts will be shown again at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday at 2 p.m., Tintori will screen some of his short films and music videos and join in an informal discussion with students and festival-goers about independent filmmaking. It is free and open to the public.

Other festival highlights include recent award-winning documentaries and narrative films including, on Thursday, El Velador (Natalia Almada, 2012) and Only the Young (Elizabeth James and Jason Tippet, 2012); on Friday, The Interrupters (Steve James, 2011); and, on Saturday, The Arbor (Barnard, 2010) and Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) with Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly.

The Northern Lights Film Festival is sponsored by the Departments of Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts and Cin/Optic Communication and Media Enterprise Team. It is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Erin Smith at 487-3263 or at

Click here for more information and the full schedule.

Public invited to take online survey on Baraga County planning

HOUGHTON -- An online survey is available for the public to provide input for the Baraga County Strategic Plan.

The plan, being developed by the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR), will propose realistic, implementable economic development strategies and projects to move the county forward. All local governments, KBIC (Keweenaw Bay Indian Community), and a wide variety of community organizations and institutions are involved.

Public involvement is vitally important to this effort! The best way to become involved is to take the survey at and help spread the word. Respondents can enter to win a drawing for one of four $50 gift cards for local businesses.

Planning will be most effective if a large percentage of Baraga County residents -- and others familiar with the county -- take part. You need not be a resident of Baraga County to participate. The survey will remain open until Nov. 30.

For further information on the Strategic Plan, contact WUPPDR Planner Jerald Wuorenmaa at or 906.482.7205, ext. 319.

Ceramics by Derik Spoon at Reflection Gallery in November

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University Reflection Gallery, Hancock, will host a ceramics exhibit by local artist Derik Spoon from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30, 2012.

Ceramic art by Derik Spoon. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

An opening reception for the artist will take place at the gallery from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1. The reception is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

Spoon’s exhibit, "Live Through This," is a collection of ceramic art that illuminates his fascination with disassembly.

Before he studied art, Spoon worked as a bicycle mechanic, a job in which he needed to determine what worked and what didn’t. To do this, he learned to disassemble objects and diagnose problems through evaluation of those individual bicycle components. Now he applies those skills to his art.

Artist Derik Spoon teaches ceramics at Finlandia University.

"Everything that I make is taken from the aspect of breaking down the piece as a whole and then assembling it from parts," says Spoon. "My hand-built ceramic pieces are
indicative of this process. They are sketched out and broken down mentally before I touch the clay."

Spoon, who teaches ceramics at Finlandia University, has also worked as a slip-casting and ceramic glaze technician and taught ceramics at Tacoma Metro Parks, Open Arts Studio, and Manitou Arts Center.

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

For additional information, call 906-487-7500 or e-mail

"Emerging" exhibit at Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery through Dec. 8

MICHIGAMME -- "Emerging" -- Pottery and Mixed Media by Paula Kiesling and Mary Anne Kublin is on exhibit at the Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery through Dec. 8, 2012.

Mary Anne Kublin: "Emerging" Pottery. (Photo courtesy Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery)

A Sunday Afternoon Reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2012, in the Gallery. Refreshments will be served.

Delicate masks, amulets, and necklaces grace the new exhibit. Both Paula Kiesling and Mary Anne Kublin draw inspiration for their art from feminine principles and qualities.

Paula Kiesling is drawn to ideas from a variety of cultures and traditions. Her works include fittingly elaborate necklaces that evoke tales and oral traditions from around the world. Kiesling’s message is a celebration of womanhood in all times and places.

"I want to retrieve the woman’s narrative -- to bring justice, sensitivity, and beauty back to all of humankind," Kiesling says. "Sharing my take on woman’s gifts reminds us of how central they are to civilization."

Beyond the political aspects of her message, Kiesling strives for beauty above all.

"Simply put, beauty is needed," says the artist.

Her art includes carefully arranged commonplace materials including beads, fiber, and even rusted metal. The result is a visual and tactile creation for the viewer’s personal reflection.

Mary Anne Kublin uses ancient symbols as a feature in her quest to promote the ideal of "love over hate." Subtle, fragile-looking shapes give an ethereal quality to her artwork. Thin, nearly weightless  mandalas and hauntingly beautiful masks round out her ensemble of functional pottery.

"I enjoy making things that people can use," Kublin explains, "but it is my sculptural work that allows me to express how women are held back in different ways in different places."

Wall hangings that suggest veils, burkas and masks tell a story of societal repression. Nevertheless, Kublin takes pleasure in the artist’s credo that permits exploration and experimentation in search of beauty. Overlapping glazes and fused glass are a hallmark of her work.

The Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery is at 136 E. Main, HC 1 Box 3477, Michigamme, MI. Gallery Hours: Sunday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday by chance. Call 906-323-6546 for more information.

Finlandia to present fall play Nov. 1-4

HANCOCK -- Four performances of the Finlandia University fall play, What Now, Niskavuori, will take place Nov. 1 to 4, 2012, at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening performances -- Nov. 1, 2, and 3 -- begin at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday, Nov. 4, matinee begins at 2:30 p.m.

What Now, Niskavuori, by Estonian-born Finnish playwright Hella Wuolijoki (1886 to 1954), is one of a series of popular plays she wrote between 1936 and 1953 about the people who live and work at a large manorial farm, Niskavuori, in the western Finland province of Häme.

In the play, Loviisa (Pam Puotto), Niskavuori’s wily, iron-willed matriarch, learns that forty percent of her estate will be taken away by the Finnish government and given to Karelian refugees and Finnish war veterans. In order for her family to retain ownership of the remaining lands, it must remain a working farm.

Loviisa struggles to keep the estate intact in spite of family discord and the great national and international events shaking Finland during the 1930s and 1940s.

The play’s five scenes cover the period 1938 to 1944, during and at the end of Finland’s Continuation War, which ultimately resulted in Karelia again becoming a territory of the Soviet Union.

What Now, Niskavuori? is directed by Melvin Kangas. It was translated from the Finnish language and adapted for the American stage by Kangas and Hannu Leppanen. Players include community members and Finlandia faculty, staff, and students.

Tickets are $5 per person and may be purchased at the door prior to each performance. Finlandia students with a valid university I.D. may attend free.

The Finnish American Heritage Center is located at 435 Quincy Street in downtown Hancock, Mich. For additional information, please contact Lynne Sweeney at 906-487-7204.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bridget Mary McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court candidate, seeks fairness, justice for all

By Michele Bourdieu

Bridget Mary McCormack, candidate for Supreme Court Justice, speaks with Houghton County Democrats via Skype during a house party held in her honor last September in Hancock. Pictured here are, clockwise from left, Clarence Mc Donald of the retired United Auto Workers; Brian Rendel, Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair; Rick Kasprzak, Calumet Township candidate for Houghton County Commissioner and facilitator of the event; and District Court Judge Mark Wisti. (Photos by Keweenaw Now

ANN ARBOR -- Bridget Mary McCormack, a candidate for Michigan Supreme Court Justice, 8-year term, has posted two recent videos on her Web site -- one to help voters learn more about the non-partisan part of the November ballot and one to explain why she believes Michigan voters should vote for her.

The first video, "Walk and Talk the Vote - West Wing Reunion - Bridget Mary McCormack,"  is a four-minute YouTube video starring actors from the former NBC TV serial drama The West Wing (set in the West Wing of the White House) to remind voters how important it is to find the nonpartisan part of the ballot and vote for candidates not included in the "straight ticket" voting by political parties. As an example, the actors happen to mention the Michigan ballot for State Supreme Court Justices and one particular candidate, Bridget Mary McCormack, who happens to be the sister of Mary Catherine McCormack, an actress who happens to be a member of the West Wing cast.*

In the second video, also on YouTube, "Bridget Mary McCormack for Michigan Supreme Court," presents Bridget and people who know her, including one of her four children, who says, "I think my Mom would be great on the Supreme Court because she cares about fairness more than anything else."*

Bridget Mary McCormack is a law professor and Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Michigan Law School, where she is responsible for clinical legal education, training students to solve real problems of real people.

A graduate of New York University Law School, Bridget was a faculty fellow at the Yale Law School, where she taught advocacy and professional responsibility and supervised litigation in state and federal courts, before coming to Michigan. Since 1998 she has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School and has conducted and supervised many types of civil and criminal litigation at all levels of Michigan state and federal courts. She has also created new clinics, including a Domestic Violence Clinic and a Pediatric Health Advocacy Clinic. Her concern for families, children, victims of domestic violence and ordinary people who otherwise would not have access to lawyers, courts and justice is evident in her experience and in testimonies of people who know her as well as in the many official endorsements of her Supreme Court candidacy listed on her Web site.

Houghton County Dems host "Skype" party for Bridget McCormack

The Houghton County Democrats hosted a house party at their office in Hancock for a meeting with Bridget via Skype in September. Rick Kasprzak of Calumet Township, who is a candidate for Houghton County Commissioner on the November ballot, facilitated the event.

Brian Rendel (in front of screen), Houghton County Democratic Party co-chair, sets up a computer with Skype in the Dems' office in Hancock so that party members can speak directly with Supreme Court Justice candidate Bridget McCormack. Standing near the screen is Rick Kasprzak, Calumet Township candidate for Houghton County Commissioner, who facilitated the event, and, behind him, Scott Dianda, candidate for the 110th District Michigan House of Representatives seat now held by Matt Huuki.

"She (Bridget Mary McCormack) is campaigning on the idea that the justice system should belong to everybody -- not just people with money," Kasprzak said. "She doesn't think that the average person gets a fair share in the justice system in the state of Michigan."

Seeing Bridget's values as similar to his own, Kasprzak said he hopes, if elected to the Houghton County Board of Commissioners, to represent -- with fairness -- average citizens like himself.

"I'm an average person, and my thought is the average person has lost a voice in the past few years," Kasprzak added. "I think it's something that has been happening for a long time. I think government officials forget that they represent their constituents."

During her online, interactive conversation via Skype with local Democrats at the house party, McCormack expressed her support for two colleagues from lower Michigan who are also running for Supreme Court Justice positions on the nonpartisan ballot: Judge Connie Marie Kelley, now a judge in the Family division of the Wayne County Circuit Court, who, like McCormack, is running for an 8-year term position on the Michigan Supreme Court, and Judge Shelia Johnson, now a judge of the 46th District Court, who is running for a partial term (to Jan. 1, 2015).**

Kasprzak said he thinks these three judicial candidates -- McCormack, Kelley and Johnson -- would do a good job of protecting the state constitution. He pointed out, as an example, that environmental and labor interests are not protected now.

"We can see what happens when we have an unfriendly Supreme Court," he said.

Scott Dianda, Democratic candidate for 110th District State Representative, who also attended the house party for McCormack, agreed with Kasprzak on the three judicial candidates.

"I think that we need to get all three on the Supreme Court to bring back a balance for the state citizens," Dianda told Keweenaw Now. "It's weighted one way."

Introducing herself to the Houghton County Dems via computer Skype connection, Bridget said, "In the classroom I teach law students about the important role the judiciary plays in a constitutional democracy, why it's different from the other branches of government, how the Founding Fathers intended it to be a place where being right is more important than being powerful or popular -- a place where fairness trumps strength. And unfortunately in our work on our cases, which is the other half of my teaching job, that isn't always the case, especially not in our appellate courts and maybe in recent years, most especially in our Supreme Court, which has become very political and very partisan."

During the Skype conversation, Keweenaw Now asked McCormack about her views on the environment. She said she had just had a long interview for endorsement by Clean Water Action (They have endorsed her candidacy since then) and she has a good relationship with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, even though their policy does not include endorsement of judicial candidates.

Ryan Werder, Michigan LCV political and campaigns director, explained Michigan LCV's endorsement policy.

"(Bridget) is wonderful and would be a very welcome addition to the Supreme Court," Werder told Keweenaw Now. "Due to legal restrictions, Bridget -- or any other judicial candidate -- is unable to take a public stance on issues. She can merely speak on her judicial philosophy. As such, it makes it essentially impossible for us to make an objective call on an endorsement. All that said, personally, I think incredibly highly of Bridget and have personally endorsed her."

Bridget noted that, while she has not done any environmental issue litigation, she has been supporting the University of Michigan Law School's Environmental Law Clinic for the last eight years in her role as Dean for Clinical Affairs.

"In that clinic they (the law students) work in conjunction with NWF (National Wildlife Federation) and they do big federal environmental litigation," she said.

On a personal level, Bridget added, she has been a supporter of protecting the Saugatuck Dunes from a big developer.

In addition, for about six years she served as chair of a Political Interference Group within the American Association of Law Schools. The group defended, legally and politically, several university environmental law clinics that were attacked by businesses and state governments for their work.

Houghton County Prosecutor Mike Makinen (standing) speaks to Bridget McCormack about his concern that the Michigan Supreme Court seems to be valuing speed over quality. McCormack agreed that speed shouldn't be confused with efficiency -- and that public confidence in the courts needs to be improved. District Judge Mark Wisti (center, seated behind Rick Kasprzak) asked McCormack a question concerning the State Court Administrative Office.

To a question on campaign financing, Bridget said she was especially concerned about the independent spending where the donors to campaigns don't have to be identified.

"When you have a partisan nomination process and a nonpartisan ballot, coupled with O.K. campaign finance laws, that's exactly the formula that gives the most power to the most money," Bridget noted. "In 2010 the Michigan Supreme Court race was the most expensive state supreme court race in the country ever (at least $10 million)," she said. "The only answer we have is a better ground game, a stronger field effort, more enthusiastic boots on the ground."

Bridget says one of her priorities is to get people to agree that the present finance laws don't make sense in the context of judicial elections.

Barbara Manninen of Hancock asked Bridget how the Supreme Court relates to the ordinary person who may not be familiar with many candidates on the ballot.

Bridget said that is part of her education effort -- to convince people how much the Supreme Court matters since many people are unaware that the Supreme Court makes a lot of decisions every year affecting regular people -- consumer safety, patient safety, rights of parents, the water we drink and the water we fish, our civil rights.

"It's probably best to pick a couple that might matter to people," she said.

She gave as examples the Governor's tax on pensions, that should matter to seniors, or the court's decision that individuals don't have a right to pursue a legal claim against a corporation that's polluting their waters -- unless they actually own the lake.

Bridget suggested a slogan to help people learn her name and those of the candidates she's supporting: "Don't give that ballot back until you vote Kelley, Johnson, and McCormack!"

She said she had visited other parts of the UP, including Sault Ste Marie, Escanaba and Marquette in late August.

"It was stunningly beautiful," she said.


* Click here to see these two videos on Bridget Mary McCormack's Web site.

** To learn about all three of these judicial candidates, see their answers to questions from the League of Women Voters. Click here and go to pp. 32-34 of Michigan League of Women Voters Guide, Part 2. The reason voters are asked to vote for one candidate for a partial term (to Jan. 1, 2015) on the Michigan Supreme Court is the following: Brian Zahra was appointed to the Court by Gov. Snyder to fill Justice Maura Corrigan's seat after she left the Court in 2011. Her term ran from 2007 - 2015, so he's running to finish out that term. Justices appointed to fill vacant terms must run for election to that seat at the next election. Judge Shelia Johnson is one of the candidates challenging Zahra. (Thanks to Drew YoungeDyke, Michigan LCV policy and communications specialist, for this background information on the partial term candidates.)

Michigan LCV: President Clinton endorses Michigan Proposal 3 for renewable energy

Posted by Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Political Week in Review
Oct. 29, 2012

ANN ARBOR -- On Monday, Oct. 29, President Bill Clinton endorsed Proposal 3 to get Michigan to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

President Bill Clinton with Lisa Wozniak, Michigan League of Conservation Voters executive director. (Photo courtesy Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Reprinted with permission.)

Former President Clinton championed the cause because he knows that the jobs created by Prop 3 will help spur the kind of economic activity that defined his Presidency. On the opposite side of the debate, campaign finance reports show that Enbridge -- yes, that Enbridge (the one whose faulty oil pipeline dumped more than a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River) -- has joined the opposition to Prop 3. After all, why have more renewable energy in Michigan when we can have record-breaking oil spills into our rivers, instead?

"Proposal 3 is Michigan’s best opportunity this year to jumpstart the state’s economy by creating 94,000 jobs and increasing the use of renewable energy," Clinton said. "Proposal 3 invests in Michigan’s future so that it won’t get left behind by the 30 other states that are already creating new clean energy jobs and lowering consumers’ electricity costs. That’s why I’m so proud to endorse Proposal 3."

President Clinton joins former Republican Michigan Governor Bill Milliken as two chief executives who know how important it is for Michigan to create jobs and move forward to a renewable energy future.

See more articles on Michigan LCV's current Political Week in Review: 
Michigan LCV endorses Scott Dianda, Sharon Gray for Michigan House of Representatives seats

Michigan League of Conservation Voters reported in an article posted Oct. 1 that they have endorsed Michigan House candidates Scott Dianda of the 110th District and Sharon Gray of the 108th District in the Upper Peninsula.

The article notes that "former small business owners Scott Dianda and Sharon Gray are challenging incumbents Matt Huuki and Ed McBroom, respectively. Huuki and McBroom both voted to prohibit Michigan from adopting stronger Great Lakes protections than the federal government and to put their district under the land cap, limiting future outdoor recreation opportunities."

Lisa Wozniak, Michigan LCV executive director, had this to say about Scott Dianda: "The people of the Upper Peninsula have a unique connection to their natural resources. Whether they hunt, fish, farm, or work in the mining or timber industry, they have a stake in conserving our land, air, water and wildlife for future generations. Unfortunately, Matt Huuki has abandoned that legacy. We believe that Scott Dianda can help restore a conservation ethic to the Michigan Legislature."

Click here to read the article on these recent endorsements.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Governor Snyder to broadcast interactive Town Hall satellite session on ballot proposals from Marquette Oct. 30

LANSING -- Governor Rick Snyder will be in Marquette to host a live/interactive town hall meeting on the six statewide ballot proposals at 8:15 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 30. While he will be physically present on the campus of Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette, NMU will host the live/interactive satellite session in four town hall locations across the region, all at the same time, in order to provide greater opportunity for UP residents to participate and receive answers to their questions directly from the governor.

In Marquette the Town Hall Meeting with Gov. Snyder begins at 8:15 a.m. in the Northern Michigan University Center, Great Lakes rooms, second floor, 1401 Presque Isle Ave. Space is limited, and an RSVP is required. (Please see below.)

Locally, the town hall session will be hosted via satellite at the Copper Country Intermediate School District, 809 Hecla St., Hancock. State Rep. Matt Huuki will be on site as the moderator.

The governor's UP stop is one of several he is making as part of a statewide bus tour designed to engage dialogue on the proposals that will appear on the Michigan ballot for the upcoming general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.*

The governor's other Upper Peninsula town hall sites will be in Escanaba and Iron Mountain. These satellite town hall locations will also spotlight new and efficient opportunities to improve communication across Michigan.

Guests attending the town hall location at NMU in Marquette must RSVP. Photo identification will be required. Click here to RSVP on line. It is not necessary to RSVP at the three other sites.

Here are the town hall meeting sites and moderators:

NMU University Center, Great Lakes Rooms
Corner of Lee Drive/Kaye Avenue, Marquette
Q and A Facilitator: State Sen. Tom Casperson

Copper Country Intermediate School District
809 Hecla Street, Hancock
Q and A Moderator: State Rep. Matt Huuki

Bay College Math and Science Building, Room 122
2001 North Lincoln Road, Escanaba
Q and A Facilitator: State Rep. Ed McBroom

Iron Mountain
Bay College West, Fornetti Hall
2801 US 2, Iron Mountain
Q and A Facilitator: Bay College West V.P., Dr. Patrick Kennedy

* Click here to read the Michigan ballot proposals and pro and con statements provided by the non-partisan League of Women Voters.

Editor's Notes:
Above information courtesy Tech Today.

Keweenaw Now does not endorse any ads or opinions on the proposals posted on the Governor's Bus Tour Web site.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Study group offers enrichment for spiritual life, opportunities for service

HOUGHTON -- "Reflections on the Life of the Spirit" -- an interactive study class for those seeking to enrich their spiritual life -- offers the opportunity to participate in an open discussion in order to understand more about prayer, the purpose of life, and the journey of the soul.

The class offers understanding of these subjects based on Baha’i Sacred Writings. The purpose of the course is to help participants develop their spirituality through reading the Sacred Scripture and reflecting on how to apply its principles in daily life.

Based on a firm belief that service to humanity is the proper expression of one's spiritual qualities, the contents of the course will guide the individual into practical acts of service to others. The course provides opportunities for its participants to embark on service projects for their local community, putting into action what they have learned.

To join the study group, please contact Laleh Vahdat at or call (906) 523-5542.