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Friday, May 31, 2013

New exhibit honoring "Big Annie" Clemenc to open at Coppertown USA Mining Museum June 1

"Big Annie" Clemenc, by Joanne Thomas. Portrait now on display at Coppertown USA Mining Museum in Calumet. (Photo courtesy Joanne Thomas)

CALUMET -- "I won’t stay at home. My work is here ....Go ahead now ... shoot me. I am willing to die behind the flag."

These quotes of Annie Clemenc direct the visitor to a new exhibit on Annie's legacy, opening at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at the Coppertown USA Mining Museum in Calumet. A recently created portrait painting of Annie, by Joanne Thomas of Allouez Township, greets the visitor to this unique and authentic museum featuring the history of copper mining in the Keweenaw.

Born in Calumet in 1888 to Slovenian parents, Annie was the most visible leader of the 1913 copper miners’ strike. Known affectionately as "Big Annie," she carried a huge flag for miles, leading the strikers' parades.

The exhibit, designed by Joanne Thomas, features a life-size, 6-foot cut-out of Annie carrying a vintage replica of the 48-star flag.

All of the available pre-1914 photos of Annie have been collected and are displayed throughout the exhibit. A few of the newly discovered post-1914 photos of Annie  are included. The actual award from the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame given to her posthumously in 1996 is on loan for the summer.

This exhibit continues through September 2013 as part of the centennial commemoration of the 1913 copper miners' strike in Calumet. Museum hours throughout the summer are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the Coppertown USA Museum, visit their Web site.

Chain Drive early registration deadline is May 31

HANCOCK -- The deadline to register for the Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival and receive a t-shirt is TODAY, Friday, May 31. Sign up for the 16-mile or 32-mile events by TODAY and you'll get the spiffy bamboo wicking t-shirt with the distinctive Chain Drive logo.

The Chain Drive is Saturday, June 15, 2013, with a roll-out in downtown Houghton at 10 a.m., then heading to Hancock and the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids trail systems. Both races end at the Portage Health campus in Hancock, with lots of grub for the racers.

You can register online at, or click here to download a printable registration form and deliver it to the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce office in Houghton by the end of the day TODAY, May 31.

It is a quality event, with mostly single track, and all proceeds go right back into the area non-motorized trail systems.

Citizens voice concerns at second set of Rio Tinto community forums; video report on L'Anse forum

By Michele Bourdieu

During the May 15, 2013, Rio Tinto community forum in L'Anse, Mich., Keweenaw Bay Indian Community member Jeffery Loman (center, foreground, in hat), a former federal regulator, asks a question about water discharge from the Eagle Mine to groundwater and surface water. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

L'ANSE, MICH. -- Rio Tinto recently held the second in a series of "Community Scorecard" forums in several Upper Peninsula locations affected by the company's Eagle Project, a copper and nickel mine still under construction near Big Bay, Michigan. The forums are intended to be held every six months to show the company's progress. The first community scorecard forums, allowing the public to vote on Rio Tinto's performance in five areas, were held in September 2012 in Baraga/L’Anse, Michigamme, Humboldt, Ishpeming, Marquette and Big Bay. Additional events with community scoring were held in Ishpeming and Marquette in October 2012.

Rio Tinto's Eagle Project Web site states the following purpose of these forums: "The Eagle Mine Community Scorecard allows community members to rate our performance in five areas you said are important. Those five areas are: environmental performance, local hire, safety, transparency and communication, and leave more wood on the woodpile."*

In May 2013 the second round of forums took place in Ishpeming, Humboldt, Marquette, L'Anse, Michigamme Township, and Powell Township (Big Bay).

Chantae Lessard (standing), principal advisor on communities and social performance for Rio Tinto Eagle Mine, explains the community scorecard voting procedure to attendees at the May 15, 2013, community forum in L'Anse, Mich.

Critics of the project have questioned the value of the Community Scorecard for several reasons. Save the Wild UP recently issued a press release questioning the scientific basis for the data presented at the forums and noting the small number of forum attendees.

"Rio Tinto portrays this data as scientific -- but that could not be farther from the truth," said Kathleen Heideman, vice president of Save the Wild U.P. "Their 'data' from the last round polled less than 300 people -- hardly representative of the 76,502 residents of Marquette and Baraga counties. It's a global mining corporation's idea of democracy: first they show slides about how great they are -- then we should click to indicate our agreement. That's meaningless. It's not voting."**

During the May 15 Rio Tinto forum in L'Anse, Geri Grant, left, Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) senior planner, speaks about SWP's detecting uranium at the Eagle Mine site. SWP does independent monitoring of the Eagle Mine.

Mindy Otto, new Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve executive director, attended the May 22, 2013, community forum in Powell Township (Big Bay area).

"It seems to me that the scorecard process is another way for Rio Tinto to attempt to press their opinions on our community, but the effort is not actually working for them," Otto said. "As concerned citizens we need to be present at these forums and make use of them to expose the inadequacies. In all categories the largest percentage of people present at the meeting stated Rio Tinto is 'below expectations' in Powell Township."

Otto reported these scorecard results from the Powell Township vote:
Environmental Performance -- 39 percent said they were below expectations.
Safety Performance -- 40 percent said they were below expectations.
Local Hire -- 48 percent said they were below expectations.
(11 people laid off, 3 reassigned to other RT projects)
Transparency -- 48 percent said they were below expectations.
Leave More Wood on the Woodpile -- 67 percent said they were below expectations. 

Cynthia Pryor, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Sulfide Mining Campaign director, also attended the Powell Township forum and mentioned the high percentages of "below expectations" votes.

"The Powell Township forum had 21 voters with about 10-12 more folks from Rio Tinto. The message is still the same -- they continue to try to convince the public that they are doing everything above expectations," Pryor reported. "The bulk of the issues the public saw was the lack of transparency and only more gamesmanship relative to environmental permits, local hires and even safety. The Wood in the Woodpile continues to irritate those who attended -- as Big Bay wants and wishes are not being sought and what is an improved road to someone from away is a loss of our 'way of life' in northern Marquette County."

Powell Township resident Gene Champagne said he was unable to attend the Powell Township forum but had attended the May 14, 2013, Marquette forum. He found it disappointing.

"There were between 40 and 50 present at the Marquette Forum with the majority of attendees being RT (Rio Tinto) employees or contractors," Champagne said. "Only 17 people were unaffiliated with RT and able to vote. Unfortunately, the process varied little, if at all, from the last forum. RT cites all of the wonderful things they have done for the environment (as an example) and then asks people to grade their performance. RT then has a discussion after the vote where data that the general public may not be aware of is talked about. At the last forum, I asked that the format be changed to have the discussion first, then the grading. This suggestion, obviously, fell upon deaf ears."

However, at the May 15, 2013, community forum in L'Anse, Rio Tinto responded to members of the public who requested that questions and comments from the audience be allowed before each vote rather than after the vote as was done in September 2012. Discussion was allowed before the vote and questions and suggestions welcomed after each vote.

On the Rio Tinto Eagle Web site, the company defends this type of forum as unique and states their expectation that the number of attendees will increase and the scoring will become more reliable as they add more opportunities for the public to evaluate their performance.

"To our knowledge no other mining company has introduced a tool that allows the community to regularly rate their performance, which is then made public," the Web site states.*

Video Report: May 15, 2013, forum in L'Anse

The forum normally begins with a presentation by one of the Rio Tinto Eagle Project staff members giving a summary of the project so far, noting the Eagle Project activities and progress in the previous six months. Here is a video clip from the introductory presentation by Matt Johnson, Rio Tinto Eagle Mine government and community affairs manager, at the May 15 forum in L'Anse:

Matt Johnson, Rio Tinto Eagle Mine government and community affairs manager, begins the May 15, 2013, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Michigan, with an overview of the history of the Eagle Mine and a description of the mine site, located near Big Bay, Michigan. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Johnson also pointed out how far the company has drilled from the portal under Eagle Rock, the sacred Ojibwa site now fenced off on the surface, towards the ore body located under the Salmon Trout River. [Click here for a second clip of Johnson's presentation, in which he shows diagrams and photos of the drilling progress.]

Work at the Humboldt Mill is now on hold, Johnson noted. In the following video clip, he gives a brief history and description of the mill and explains Rio Tinto's plans for depositing tailings (mine waste) in the pit at the site, which still contains tailings from previous mining companies:

Rio Tinto's Matt Johnson speaks about the Humboldt Mill and its tailings pit during the May 15, 2013, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Michigan. Johnson said further work on the mill is presently on hold. It is intended to be used for processing nickel and copper ore from Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine. 

Joe Derocha, Humboldt Township supervisor, recently told Keweenaw Now he is aware that Rio Tinto's global office has directed that they postpone some parts of the Eagle project, including a hold on work at the Humboldt Mill; but he is quite happy with the cleanup Rio Tinto has done there so far.

"They've done some fantastic work with the cleanup," Derocha said. "That's a big thing for us."

Environmental Performance raises questions at L'Anse forum

At the May 15 forum in L'Anse, a number of concerns were expressed particularly in the area of environmental performance.

In this video clip Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) member Jeffery Loman asks about Rio Tinto's core storage and about discharge of treated wastewater to groundwater and surface water:

During the May 15, 2013, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Michigan, Jeffery Loman of KBIC asks questions concerning Rio Tinto's storage of cores and about discharge of water from the Treated Wastewater Infiltration System (TWIS ) of the Eagle Mine to groundwater and surface water.

Jessica Koski, KBIC mining technical assistant, asked questions about the length of Rio Tinto's monitoring of the tailings disposal at the Humboldt pit, the effects of climate change, and potential future financial responsibilities should pollution such as acid mine drainage occur. Kristen Mariuzza, Rio Tinto Eagle Project environmental and permitting manager, replies to her questions in this video clip:

Jessica Koski of KBIC asks questions about the tailings facility at the Humboldt Pit -- whether the water treatment plant will remain after operations cease, whether the facility will be able to withstand potential increased flooding that could be caused by climate change and how long Rio Tinto will continue to monitor the site and assume responsibility should acid mine drainage occur. Rio Tinto's Kristen Mariuzza replies.

In the following video clip, Rio Tinto staff field questions on uranium found by Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP, an organization doing independent monitoring at Eagle Mine) at the Eagle Mine Temporary Development Rock Storage Area at the mine site in March 2013. Geri Grant, SWP senior planner, adds that SWP, when they found the uranium, also tested the water treatment plant to be sure uranium was not being discharged into the TWIS:

Questions on uranium found by Superior Watershed Partnership (organization doing independent monitoring at Eagle Mine) at the Eagle Mine Temporary Development Rock Storage Area in March 2013 are answered before the audience is asked to vote on Rio Tinto's Environmental Performance.***

Catherine Andrews of Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) asked Rio Tinto staff if they had proof of a liner that never leaked, but they were unable to give her a definitive answer. She said she had asked that question at the first L'Anse forum six months ago and they had said they would try to find the answer. Kristen Mariuzza noted management of the amount of water and monitoring would prevent leaking, and uranium is removed in the water treatment plant. [Click here for the video clip with this discussion.]

The results of the community scorecard vote on Environmental Performance at this May 15, 2013, L'Anse forum (with 19 people voting) were as follows: Exceeds expectations, 32 percent; meets expectations, 11 percent; below expectations, 42 percent; and need more information, 15 percent.

Following the vote, Jim Hahn of Skanee noted one problem with the vote on environmental performance is that one vote is expected to cover multiple environmental issues. [Click here for the video clip with this discussion.]

Jeffery Loman also asked whether the uranium finding was really a  "non-event" since it was not considered a contaminant of concern in the state permits. Mariuzza pointed out the amount of uranium detected was less than the 3 parts per million national average. While the amount in the sump exceeds drinking water standards, it is contained and then removed from the water in the water treatment plant, she explained. [Click here for a video clip with this question.]

Safety, Local Hire receive satisfactory votes at L'Anse forum

In the category of Safety, Rio Tinto reported only three injuries in the past six months. Results of the vote were positive: exceeds expectations, 40 percent; meets expectations, 35 percent; below expectations, 15 percent; and needs more information, 10 percent. One member of the audience commented this safety record would be envied by other companies.

In the category of Safety, Rio Tinto received a high approval, since only three minor injuries occurred in the past six months.

Questions on Local Hire indicated people would like more detail on the actual numbers of people hired from the local area, including those hired by contractors working for Rio Tinto. In this video clip Chantae Lessard presents employment numbers and percentages; and Jessica Sandstrom, Human Resources coordinator for the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine, clarifies the statistics:

Audience members at Rio Tinto's community forum in L'Anse ask questions on details of local hire statistics before voting in this category of the company's community scorecard.

Results of the vote on local hire at the L'Anse forum show considerable satisfaction: exceeds expectations, 30 percent; meets expectations, 55 percent; below expectations, 15 percent; needs more information 0 percent.

Transparency, Leave More Wood on the Woodpile raise concerns

During a discussion preceding the vote on Transparency and Communication, Doug Welker of Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) asked if more detailed information on Rio Tinto's future plans to remain in the area could be made available to the public (information on mineral rights, cores, etc.) In the following video clip, another audience member notes his experience in asking questions about core samples at the Keweenaw Copper exploration site near Gratiot Lake in Keweenaw County. Welker also asked if more geological information on the mineralogy of the rock surrounding the ore body could be made public. Rio Tinto's Kristen Mariuzza noted very detailed information on this mineralogy is available in the air permit, if not the mining permit:

At the May 15 L'Anse forum Doug Welker of FOLK asks for more transparency from Rio Tinto on their future plans, mineral rights and mineralogy.

Results of the vote on transparency were as follows: exceeds expectations, 39 percent; meets expectations, 17 percent; below expectations, 33 percent; needs more information, 11 percent.

The last category for the vote, "Leaving More Wood on the Woodpile," refers to positive contributions the mining company believes it is making for the economic benefit of the local communities. Among these are their "Accelerate U.P." program to help entrepreneurs start new businesses in the area, 12 miles of new or improved roads and 30 miles of electrical power lines. The company also wants, in the future, to set aside land they've purchased, which will not be used for mining, but for use in "the areas of biodiversity, recreation and culture."

Some forum attendees questioned the value of Rio Tinto's infrastructure "improvements."  Note the comments in this videoclip:

During the Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Rio Tinto's Chantae Lessard explains the company's "Accelerate U.P." program to help entrepreneurs. Doug Welker of FOLK questions the value of Rio Tinto's infrastructure if local communities will have to to maintain it after the company leaves. Jim Hahn of Skanee questions the appropriateness of the title, "Leave More Wood on the Woodpile" since, while wood is a sustainable product, mining is unsustainable.

Gene Champagne of Powell Township, who lives quite close to the Eagle Mine, also commented on Rio Tinto's infrastructure claims.

"The electric lines never went to Big Bay and it can easily be debated if this was even an improvement," Champagne said. "I live in Big Bay and see no real improvement in the amount of black-outs I have experienced at my house. Alger-Delta had worked on the system-switching problems back in 2005, or so, and did not require any new upgrades. The only difference in electric service has come from the brush below the wires being cleared along 550, which Alger-Delta should have been doing all along. Not one more kilowatt of electricity comes into Big Bay as a result of Kennecott’s ill-gotten permit.****

Champagne noted also that most people in Big Bay do not look at the roads used by the mine as improved, but rather the opposite.

"They look like some freeway or drive through an urban park downstate," he notes. "Some locals who have lived in Big Bay their entire life will not travel out 510/AAA anymore because of the way it looks and the speed of the traffic as a result."

Results of the L'Anse forum vote on "Leave More Wood on the Woodpile" were these: exceeds expectations, 38 percent; meets expectations, 17 percent; below expectations, 28 percent; needs more information, 17 percent.

At the end of the forum, Jeffery Loman suggested Rio Tinto consider leaving technological infrastructure to improve Internet access and cellphone reception in the local area. Here are his comments:

At the May 15, 2013, Rio Tinto Community Forum in L'Anse, Jeffery Loman, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community member, makes a suggestion on Information Technology improvements Rio Tinto could leave for the community after they finish mining.

After the forum in L'Anse, Jessica Koski of KBIC commented to Keweenaw Now on Rio Tinto's attitude toward Eagle Rock, the sacred Ojibwa site they use as the portal to their mine.

"I think it's complete negligence or ignorance on Rio Tinto's part that they don't acknowledge the different Native American perspectives on the meaning and significance of our sacred lands," Koski said. "Despite their fence, from our perspective Eagle Rock is not separate from the mining site and the surrounding area. Viewshed is part of assessments of sacred sites as historical resources."

Val Gagnon, a doctoral student in social sciences at Michigan Tech, who is studying environmental and energy policy, also spoke after the forum about her impressions of the scorecard.

"I just think that the whole idea of the scorecard is that they're just one piece," Gagnon noted. "They show it as several pieces (fitting together like a puzzle), but in reality there a lot more pieces. I think the puzzle is important to use, but the environment is larger than what they show. Environment and human health are very strongly connected. The environmental scorecard doesn't seem to include people in the environment."

Dan Blondeau, Rio Tinto advisor for communications and media relations, said "roughly 115 people voted" in this round of community forums.

"We had more attendees but not everyone participated in the voting." he added.

Rio Tinto update:

Rio Tinto recently announced their contractor Redpath Mining has completed its contract for pre-operations underground work  at the Eagle Mine -- over two miles (3.7k) of underground tunnels, reaching approximately 800 ft. (244 m) below the surface at the deepest point.

Redpath had 40 employees working on the project. Of these, 21 are local.

"These people now have specialized skills that can be used at other projects or for future mining at Eagle," said Dan Blondeau, Rio Tinto advisor for communications and media relations. "Eagle will request bids for the mining during operations, the remainder of the surface facilities at both the mine and mill, and the ore transportation. In addition, the Marquette County Road Commission will start work on upgrading the existing roads."


* Click here to read more about the Community Scorecard Forums on the Rio Tinto Eagle Web site.

** See "Upper Peninsula citizens skeptical of Rio Tinto 'Community Forums.'"

*** Click here to read about Superior Watershed Partnership's independent monitoring of the Eagle Mine and their findings about uranium at the mine site.

**** See our Feb. 22, 2011, article, "Concerned citizens file contested case: Kennecott Eagle Mine," concerning the electric power issue.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Citizens, groups, speak at public meeting on potential effects of proposed cellphone tower on Brockway Mountain

By Michele Bourdieu, with information from Friends of Brockway Mountain

In Grant Township Hall, Copper Harbor, concerned citizens, business owners and representatives of community groups gather for the May 22, 2013, public meeting on a proposed cellphone tower projected to be built on Brockway Mountain. The room eventually filled with more than 80 persons. (Photo © and courtesy Gina Nicholas)

[Editor's Note: This is a slightly updated version of the article we posted Wednesday evening, May 29. We received the additional information today, May 30.]

COPPER HARBOR -- In the small Grant Township Hall in Copper Harbor, a very big meeting concerning a proposed cellphone tower on Brockway Mountain took place on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) determined the tower would have "Adverse Impact" and required Ramaker and Associates, INC., and SBA Communications Corporation (SBA) to organize this public meeting, citing it as an opportunity for community members to comment upon ways to "avoid, minimize or mitigate" any adverse effect to Brockway Mountain Drive that a cellphone tower might pose.

The proposed site for the tower is located 0.6 miles west of the Brockway Nose. The tower will be about 200 feet north of Brockway Mountain Drive. Its location is marked on this map:

On this map, the red dot/cross (to the left of the number 31 just north of Brockway Mountain Drive) is the proposed Brockway Tower location. (Map courtesy Friends of Brockway Mountain.)

The room was full and bustling with more than 80 concerned citizens and local business owners from throughout the County, while a wide array of county, state and national agencies and organizations were also represented, including (but not limited to) Michigan Nature Association, Copper Country Audubon, Keweenaw County Historical Society, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District, Keweenaw Land Trust, Keweenaw Community Forest Company, Keweenaw County Road Commission, Keweenaw County Board, Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, National Scenic Byways and Upper Peninsula Power Company. SHPO did NOT attend the meeting.

The large majority of attendees were not opposed to the erecting of a cellphone tower in the area; they were, however, adamant that the currently proposed 199-ft lattice tower not be located on Brockway Mountain Drive -- a major historical, aesthetic and economic resource for the region's tourism. During the public commentary, alternative locations were encouraged, along with alternate cellphone tower designs that could camouflage their presence (e.g., shorter towers disguised as pine trees -- a very viable and popular technology currently being used throughout the nation).

It is not known if any of the community’s constructive commentary or concerns will hold any weight in the corporation’s final implementation of development, as the tower is planned to be built by the end of 2013. Additionally, the corporation’s planning-process-to-date was a point of contention amongst many attendees since no planning documentation or visual props were provided in the presentation, in-depth research was not evident and no proof of ever hosting a (more general) public hearing on the matter was offered.

According to concerned citizen Bill Marlor, there was supposed to have been a general public meeting explaining everything.

"The public meeting May 22 was a requirement of Michigan SHPO," Marlor said. "Specifically SHPO finds the site will have adverse impact and wanted public comment on ways to minimize the impact."

The efforts to preserve Brockway have been a hot topic recently, as just last year a landowner and coalition of partners -- including The Nature Conservancy, Copper Country Audubon, Keweenaw Land Trust, and the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District -- worked with members of Eagle Harbor Township to obtain a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant of $498,000 with a 25 percent local match to protect the 320-acre parcel atop Brockway Mountain. A grassroots campaign triumphantly brought in nearly 500 donations from local and statewide Michigan residents, individuals from more than 25 other states and support from several foreign countries to raise the $175,000 match and secure the mountain top’s safety.*

Local advocates are now coming together again and striving to go public and make their voices heard against putting a cellphone tower on Brockway Mountain Drive. Comments to Ramaker can still be given until June 10, 2013, regarding mitigating the tower effects by emailing them to (See below for details.) A letter writing campaign will be launched, additional community meetings held, media contacted and outreach on social media networks -- such as Facebook’s Friends of Brockway Mountain -- pursued. Currently, a petition can be signed at:

In a May 16, 2013, letter to consulting parties, Michael S. Ursin, project manager for Ramaker and Associates, INC., writes, "As you know from earlier communications, the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and SBA Network Services, Inc. (SBA) have agreed that the proposed tower will have an adverse visual effect on Brockway Mountain Drive, a site that is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  As a result SBA has agreed with the SHPO that it will take steps to minimize or mitigate the adverse effect."

Ursin says the May 22 meeting was scheduled to give the public an opportunity to comment and those unable to attend the meeting may comment in writing. He adds the following:

"SBA will consider comments related to the mitigation of the adverse effect to the historic site made at that meeting or received as a result of the meeting’s published notice, as it formulates a mitigation proposal to be presented to the SHPO. SBA and the SHPO will then prepare a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) describing the adverse effect and detailing mitigation actions to be taken. SBA and the SHPO will then submit the MOA to the FCC for inclusion in its broader environmental assessment process."**

Concerned citizens and groups can send comments to Michael S. Ursin, project manager, by the deadline of June 10, 2013, via email at or write to him at Ramaker and Associates, INC., 1120 Dallas Street, Sauk City, Wisconsin 53583.

According to Friends of Brockway Mountain, the bottom-line desire of the tight-knit Keweenaw community is not to fight with the development of a cell phone tower, but instead to cooperate with the developers so that all parties are satisfied and Brockway Mountain is protected.

On their Facebook Page, Friends of Brockway Mountain, in addition to encouraging citizens to write to Ursin at Ramaker and Associates, Inc., also state, "More importantly, please share your concerns with your state and federal government representatives who can work to ensure the review process underway is comprehensive and complete with all alternative locations appropriately reviewed and all mitigation activities explored."

Visit Friends of Brockway Mountain on Facebook to learn more and support the effort.

Editor's Notes:

* See Keweenaw Now's Dec. 9, 2011, article, "Updated: Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommends funding for Brockway Mountain parcel in Eagle Harbor Township."

** Click here to read the rest of this May 16, 2013, consulting letter on Google Docs, posted courtesy of Dean Woodbeck. See also on Google Docs, posted by Woodbeck, the FCC form, which includes photo simulations showing the potential viewscape effects of the proposed tower, and an Oct. 15, 2012, letter from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Arts Center to host closing reception for "New work by Laura Brown" May 30

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC) will hold a closing reception for the exhibit "New work by Laura Brown" from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 30.

"Warehouse Compressed," by artist Laura Brown. (Image courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

Laura Brown has been making prints ever since a professor put a carving tool and wood block in her hands. In recent years, she has been learning to make paper, use a letterpress, and other book arts processes.

Laura has worked in studios all over the United States and Europe. Her work has been shown in local, national, and international galleries and, in 2010, a piece was commissioned by Twin Cities Metro magazine for publication. In 2010 she was an artist-in-residence at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. The book she created there, Poems + Prints, is housed in the special collections of the Hennepin County Library. In late winter of 2012, she produced a new book, The Great Lakes of North America, while in residence at the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York.

Laura lives in northeast Minneapolis and makes work at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

The CCCAC is at 126 Quincy Street, Hancock. Call 482-2333 for more information.

Guest article: Announcing the "Mineralogy of Michigan Update" by Dr. George W. Robinson and Shawn M. Carlson

By Shawn M. Carlson*

Cubanite crystal, a copper-iron sulfide mineral, from Marquette County, Michigan. (Photo by D. John A. Jaszczak and courtesy Shawn M. Carlson)

What different types of minerals can be found in Michigan? Which of them are ore minerals, open to potential development by mining companies? Does Michigan have any toxic or radioactive minerals, and where might they be located? And where are the best locations to seek out gemstones and other collectibles such as agates, datolite, and Michigan greenstone? These were the questions that University of Michigan mineralogist E. Wm. Heinrich attempted to answer in his classic 1976 monograph, The Mineralogy of Michigan.  Published as "bulletin 6" by the Department of Natural Resources, Geology Survey Division, this book contained a brief discussion of the various types of mineral deposits known in Michigan, followed by an alphabetical listing of mineral species, along with their locations. It was the first attempt in our state’s history to assemble a complete listing of all minerals known to exist in Michigan.

In 2004, being mindful that nearly three decades had passed since Heinrich’s compilation, a second edition of the Mineralogy of Michigan was published, this time by Dr. George W. Robinson, mineralogy professor at Michigan Technological University and curator of the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. This version significantly expanded upon the number of mineral species known to occur in Michigan; and it included a discussion of the discovery of diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes and the intense exploration pressure in the 1980s and 1990s to develop a gem diamond mine in the Upper Peninsula -- an intriguing and somewhat clandestine chapter in the history of Michigan mineral exploration that had not yet unfolded at the time of Heinrich’s 1976 monograph.

Gem diamond crystal from Michigan. (Photo by Torrie Chartier and courtesy Shawn M. Carlson)

Due in part to the current high level of public interest in Michigan mineral exploration and new mining ventures, a third version of the Mineralogy of Michigan has just been released, again written by Dr. George W. Robinson, in collaboration with industry mineralogist Shawn M. Carlson. This work is an attempt to list all new and important mineral discoveries made in Michigan since the 2004 second edition, including finds made by mining and mineral exploration companies, scientific researchers, students, and hobby mineral collectors. Of particular note, this version contains updated information on
mercury and selenium minerals, uranium species, and minerals formed by acid mine drainage -- as well new locations for amethyst, topaz, tourmaline, and many other species of interest to the collector and lapidary community. The document is available on the Michigan Tech website at

Echoing the spirit of Heinrich’s 1976 monograph, it is hoped that this latest version will be of interest and use to professional earth scientists and beachcombers alike.

* Editor's Note: Guest author Shawn M. Carlson, of Crystal Falls, Mich., is an industry mineralogist and the co-author, with Dr. George W. Robinson, of the 2013 Mineralogy of Michigan Update.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Community Arts Center to offer Mosaic Tiles demo May 31; Kids Make Art classes to begin June 11

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center is offering a free Mosaic Tiles demonstration on May 31 and classes for youth beginning June 11. Today, May 28, is the registration deadline for a discounted class fee.

Mosaic Tiles demonstration is May 31

Stained glass artist Janice Brogan will demonstrate her method of creating mosaic tiles from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 31, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. No fee. Please call 482-2333 to RSVP.

Kids Make Art! Exploration Illustration

Artist and art educator Melissa Hronkin will be teaching a six-week class for youth in grades 1st-3rd at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock. Students will explore children’s literature illustration styles including projects inspired by: Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, Robert Sabuda, Faith Ringgold, Patricia Polacco, and more. Media explored will be drawing and painting, mixed media collage, and some pop-up techniques. Students will be challenged to generate and illustrate some stories of their own.

Classes will take place from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays -- June 11, 18, 25 and July 2, 9, and 16 at the Copper Country Community Arts Center, 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Register by TODAY, May 28, for a discounted rate. Class Fee: $70 if registered and paid by May 28; after May 28, $80. Deadline to register is June 4. Call 482-2333 for more information.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Portage Library to host fiction writing workshop May 28

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host a fiction writing workshop with local author Rekha Ambardar from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28.

Ambardar will present "Show, Don’t Tell," a workshop that focuses on the importance of presenting fiction with the use of scenes versus exposition. Participants will learn how to construct scenes which 'show' the story rather than 'tell' the story. Participants will also analyze fiction pieces and do short exercises that demonstrate the technique.

This workshop is geared towards adults and young adults, and both experienced and beginning writers are welcome. Writing materials and handouts will be provided.

Ambardar is a local author who has published over one hundred short stories and articles in print and electronic magazines, including Shots Detective Magazines, Untreed Reads, Orchard Press Mysteries and others, as well as in themed anthologies of mystery, horror, and paranormal fiction. She is the author of two contemporary women’s novels and teaches at the International School of Business at Finlandia University.

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

Dianda introduces bill to benefit severely disabled veterans

LANSING -- State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) recently introduced House Bill 4698 that will make it easier for severely disabled veterans to claim a property tax exemption for a veteran's homestead that they should be entitled to under Michigan law. The bill was referred to the House Tax Policy Committee on May 7, 2013.*

"This bill is in direct response to conversations I have had with veteran's services officers from my district, namely Joy DeNicola from Iron County and John Frello from Gogebic, who explained how the current system wasn't working optimally for getting our veterans the services and exemptions they deserve," said Dianda. "That's the best way to make legislation -- by responding to a direct need from the people of my district that will help veterans all across the state."

Currently, only veterans who have participated in the Veteran Administration’s adapted housing program are eligible to receive the exemption. HB 4698 would broaden the ways that veterans who are 100 percent service connected (injured during their service), as well as those who have received a determination of individual unemployability from the VA, could claim a tax exemption on their homestead. It is much easier for veterans to get documentation of their service connection or unemployability status from the VA or from their Veteran’s Service Officer than it is to participate in the adapted housing program.

"Eliminating some of the red tape that our injured servicemen and women have to maneuver in order to get a tax exemption to, for example, make improvements to their home to make it more accessible for them, is just good policy," continued Dianda. "This bill would be just a small step in improving how we thank our veterans when they return home."

* Click here to read HB 4698 as proposed.