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Saturday, January 18, 2014

MTEC Smart Zone, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, Rep. Dianda respond to Gov. Snyder's State of the State address

HOUGHTON -- New developments at MTEC SmartZone were among key issues Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder discussed in his fourth State of the State address in Lansing Thursday evening, Jan. 16. However, Snyder's speech did not make up for his failed environmental and social policies, according to some Michigan leaders.

Snyder talked about MTEC SmartZone’s collaboration with Michigan Technological University, entrepreneurs and local governments to foster economic success in the Upper Peninsula. That collaboration has continued to thrive for more than a decade, leading to new developments and opportunities for job creation across the Upper Peninsula.

"We have a situation where they are partnering with Northern Michigan University and Marquette. So we are bringing communities together and bringing synergy and power. So I want to complement those particular communities and those universities in the U.P. for their outstanding work," Gov. Snyder said in his address Thursday.

Since 2003, MTEC SmartZone has proven great success for the cities of Houghton and Hancock, creating more than 400 high-tech jobs and assisting over 47 entrepreneur technology start-ups by providing entrepreneurs with training and resource programs. Now, MTEC SmartZone is reaching out to the Marquette area to create the same successes for that economy. Both Marquette and Houghton-Hancock officials are looking to expand high-tech job creation with the development of a satellite business incubator in Marquette.

State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) said, "This collaboration brings so many positive opportunities to the Upper Peninsula. MTEC SmartZone has garnered statewide respect for their high-tech job creation and economic development. I’ve visited many SmartZones and we’ve got the best."

The mission of MTEC SmartZone is accelerating high-tech business growth to build a prosperous regional economy.*

MTEC SmartZone board member Dan Webber said, "It has become time for a more regional approach to leveraging the talents along the 'Technology Shore' between Houghton-Hancock and Marquette, supporting economic sustainability for the entire Upper Peninsula. Given the always-limited resources, we must work together to advance the best technologies that promote employment opportunities for our existing communities and the State of Michigan as a whole."

Sierra Club Michigan: Gov. Snyder needs to plan for clean energy

While the Governor praised the Smart Zone, he has not done enough for renewable energy in Michigan according a Sierra Club Michigan Chapter spokesperson.

"Last night, in his State of the State address, Governor Snyder spoke briefly about a framework for Michigan's energy policy," writes Mike Berkowitz, legislative and political director of the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter. "Again, he failed to lay out a timeline to move us forward and lacked specific policy proposals for Michigan's energy policy. With the clock ticking, it's time for Governor Snyder to put forward a concrete proposal to update Michigan's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards."

In an email asking supporters to write to the Governor about stronger clean energy policies, Berkowitz noted, "Expanding renewable energy in Michigan is an opportunity to create jobs, spark investment in the state, rein in the increasingly high cost of electricity, improve public health, and reduce air and water pollution from burning dirty fossil fuels for power. Energy efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest way to meet our energy needs. By saving energy, we're cutting demand for dirty energy sources like coal, leading to cleaner air, while creating local jobs right here in Michigan."

Just before the Governor's State of the State speech, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter released its first-ever gubernatorial Scorecard, which evaluates Rick Snyder’s performance on energy, environment, good government and related issues. Michigan’s chief executive got a failing grade, scoring 25 percent on the most important environmental actions taken during his first three years in office.**

State Rep. Dianda responds to State of the State Address

While State Rep. Scott Dianda agreed with the Governor's praise of the Smart Zone, he also noted the speech only promised more of the same failed policies that have yet to create jobs for Michigan families or deliver the best possible education to our students.

"During my time in the Legislature, I‘ve seen people struggle under Republican policies," Dianda said. "We need more funding for our classrooms, we need job opportunities that will build the middle class, and we need to be taking care of our seniors. The retirement tax took money out of seniors’ pockets and sent it to Lansing, and now they have less to spend at our fish fries and small businesses. That’s why I introduced a bill this week to repeal the new tax on retirement."***

Families face smaller tax refunds, or no refunds at all, because of the loss of tax credits and deductions including the child tax deduction and a severely reduced Earned Income Tax Credit, Dianda noted.

Women face greater economic struggles thanks to Republican approval of a new law making basic health care more costly.

Republicans continue to push gimmicks to address education including cyber schools and other entities that lack accountability and have yet to show any improvements.

"My fellow Democratic House colleagues and I have plans to bring relief to the Michiganders who need it," said Dianda. "I’ve listened to residents from my district, and I know what the U.P. needs to recover. We need to increase education funding and bring tax relief to the hard-working families who deserve it. Any budget surplus we have to work with should go toward these efforts."

Editor's Notes:

* Learn more about the MTEC Smart Zone at

** Click here to read more about Sierra Club Michigan's Scorecard for Gov. Snyder.

*** See our Jan. 14, 2014, article, "Rep. Dianda introduces bill to repeal state pension tax."

Friday, January 17, 2014

NOSOTROS to host Latin dance, salsa lessons Jan. 18

 Poster courtesy NOSOTROS.

HOUGHTON -- NOSOTROS Latin student organization at Michigan Tech will host a Latin dance from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., preceded by free salsa lessons from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., TOMORROW, Saturday, Jan. 18, in MUB Ballroom A.

Learn how to dance to Latin music and find new friends. All levels and no partner needed. Free and open to the public.

For more information email

Rozsa Gallery presents "Landscape: A Memorial Artifact," by Leopoldo Cuspinera Madrigal, opening Jan. 17

Detail from poster announcing the new exhibit in the Rozsa Gallery at Michigan Tech. (Photo courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Gallery welcomes artist Leopoldo Cuspinera Madrigal, in an exhibition of beautiful paintings on paper that evoke dreamlike landscapes and shadowed, industrial vistas. Titled "Landscape: A Memorial Artifact," Madrigal’s show opens with a reception in the Rozsa Gallery from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. TONIGHT, Friday, Jan. 17.

The exhibition will run through Saturday, Feb. 16, 2014, and is free and open to the public.

According to Madrigal, "Landscape is communicated to humans personally, through every sense. Its speech goes beyond time and space, but also tells about the past, present, and future through marks, footprints, or injuries. Landscape is related to humans in multiple ways: It has been the tangible basis for our activities and the intangible basis for our lives. Human lives find a certain logic and meaning from memory. Landscape is an inexhaustible source of memory, reminding us that the present is the result of the past and that the future depends largely on the marks, footprints, or injuries we leave today embodied on this immense memorial artifact -- the landscape."

Rozsa gallery hours are M-F, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. For more details, please visit the Rozsa Center Web site.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Finlandia Gallery exhibiting International School of Art and Design alumni art Jan. 16 - Feb. 19

HANCOCK -- The Finlandia University International School of Art and Design (ISAD) will present an alumni exhibit at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from Jan. 16 to Feb. 19, 2014.

An opening reception for the artists will take place at the gallery from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Thursday, Jan. 16. An artist talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

"Raven Steals Fire" by Finlandia alumni (’10), D.C. Wilson. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

In the 15 years since the bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree program began at Finlandia University, 127 students have graduated in five concentration areas: Ceramic Design, Fiber Arts/Fashion Design, Integrated Design, Graphic Design, and Studio Arts.

The Alumni 2014 exhibit spotlights the current work of 25 Finlandia BFA graduates.

"Our graduates have moved to all parts of the world to pursue their careers in art," notes Gallery Director Carrie Flaspohler. "We have alumni living as far away as Japan and as close as Hancock. It is wonderful to see where their life journeys have taken them."

Ceramic work by Kenyon Hansen, Finlandia alumni (’05).

Cait Spera (’13) is currently living in Portland, Oregon, where she works as a graphic designer at Healer's PetCare, and is also an instructor and manager at the local art center, Collage.

Casey Zablocki (’08) is currently living in Missoula, Montana, working as the wood fire resident at the Clay Studio of Missoula. He will spend the next two years teaching classes and firing the Anagama kiln.

Emily Pierce (‘08) has created her own line of clothing and screen-printed items. Her collection can be viewed at

Colleen Carroll (’09) continues to create and sell her ceramic work, all while working fulltime at Michigan Tech University. Her ceramic piece "Spiderbaby" was recently featured in the movie, I Filmed Your Death.

Sarah Jalkanen (‘13 ) is currently working for the local apparel company NineOSix Enterprises and will soon open an online shop where her handmade and personally designed bags, accessories, and designs will be for sale.

Eileen Sunquist (’12) is interested in the oral traditions of our ancestors, and how these stories shared for entertainment and instruction reveal important cross-cultural similarities. Her interest in finding and sharing the common beliefs of early people and emphasizing the similarities between cultures, led her to create "Muddi Mekko," an African Mudcloth runo-dress intended to protect the woman who wears it and "Pandoran," a sculpture representing life.

Please join us at the opening reception to learn more about the work of these alumni and more. Additional mediums included in the Alumni Exhibit 2014 include ceramic design, mixed media, fashion design, painting, drawing, graphic design and product design.

The Finlandia University International School of Art and Design Alumni Exhibit 2014 will be on display until Feb. 19, 2014.

The Finlandia University Gallery is in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.

Club Finndigo to present Finnish film, buffet Jan. 17 at Calumet Theatre

CALUMET -- The annual event heralding Heikenpäivä (midwinter celebration) is January's Club Finndigo (normally Club Indigo), which features a Finnish classic film, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, on Friday, Jan. 17, at the Calumet Theatre.

Backwood Philosopher has been acclaimed as more than just another bit of regional fluff (though the backdrop of the country's Easter forests and lakes is remarkable by itself). It is beautiful, satirical, thoughtful, and ultimately a grand way to start the Heikenpäivä week.

The movie begins at 7:15 p.m., preceded by a lavish Finnish buffet from Kangas Café at 6 p.m. Cost: buffet and movie, $19. Movie alone, $5. Special discount for kids ten and younger. For the buffet, a call to the theater is necessary at least by Thursday, Jan. 16: 337-2610.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reminder: Highland Copper/Keweenaw Copper local community meetings to be Jan. 15, 16

CALUMET -- Highland Copper Company Inc. and its subsidiary Keweenaw Copper Co. invite community members to the latest in a series of community information sessions.

The sessions will be held from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Wednesday, Jan. 15, at  Calumet High School, Commons Area, and from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. TOMORROW, Wednesday, Jan. 16 at Houghton High School, Multipurpose Room.

The purpose of these sessions will be to update the community on Highland Copper’s proposal to purchase the White Pine Mine as well as other current projects in the western Upper Peninsula.

After the presentation, community members will be encouraged to ask questions and complete a brief survey.

All information presented, in addition to schedules for future information sessions, will be available at Keweenaw Copper’s website, See also

Editor's Notes: See also Keweenaw Now's Nov. 27, 2013, article, "Highland Copper Co. to acquire White Pine from Copper Range and continue Keweenaw mining exploration."
Highland Copper has also updated their corporate presentation. Click here for the December 2013 presentation with more details, maps, etc.

DEQ proposes new groundwater discharge permit for Eagle Mine; public hearing to be announced

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is proposing a new groundwater discharge permit for the Eagle Mine in Marquette County. While this is a required renewal of the permit that was issued nearly five years ago, the new permit will have some changes.

View of the Salmon Trout River. Lundin Mining Corporation, present owner of the Eagle Mine, with permits obtained by former owner Rio Tinto/Kennecott, hopes to mine an ore body below this trout stream for copper and nickel. Treated wastewater is to be discharged into groundwater rather than directly into the surface water of the stream. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The department prepared the proposed permit after an extensive review of the mine's wastewater treatment system, which began operation in 2011. The new permit includes minor revisions reflecting actual water conditions at the site.

According to Steve Casey, Michigan DEQ Water Resources Division Upper Peninsula District Supervisor, the DEQ has decided to hold a public hearing on the permit "to address public concerns," though the time and place for the hearing are not yet set.

A public comment period on the proposed groundwater discharge permit renewal for the Eagle Mine in Marquette County began on Dec. 3. It has been extended through Dec. 20; but, when the time and place for the hearing are announced, the DEQ will announce a new deadline for public comments, Casey explained.

With the renewed discharge permit, the DEQ is working to address the following local conditions:
  • Independent of any activity from the mine, naturally occurring background basicity and concentrations of vanadium in the groundwater exceeded the original permit standards, according to a recent assessment. Revised, site-specific limits for vanadium and pH were established in accordance with the groundwater quality administrative rules. These revised limits account for the naturally occurring conditions.
  • A new standard requires monitoring for uranium in the wastewater produced by the mine. If it ever is detected at even a fraction of the safe drinking water standard, the mine must take steps to reduce or eliminate the source of uranium.
"The permit says if they get to five micrograms per liter (of uranium) they have to notify us," Casey said.

Previously, some uranium was discovered in a leak detection sump at the mine, likely originating in rock brought to the mine from another site in the Upper Peninsula. Nearly 70 percent of Upper Peninsula drinking water wells contain detectable levels of uranium. However, the leak detection sump in question produces little water, all of which is treated in the reverse osmosis water treatment plant at the Eagle Mine.*

"It's really clean water," Casey said of the water from that treatment plant.

Additionally, copper and lead levels in one well were higher than the permit allowed on three occasions, but the issue has been resolved. The well was disturbed during construction and has since been reconstructed. In the most recent sample, copper and lead levels were in compliance with the permit.

According to the public notice on this permit, the Eagle Mine proposes to discharge a maximum 504,000 gallons per day (184,000,000 gallons per year) of mine contact water only to the ground and groundwater from their discharge areas located in the NW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 12, T50N, R29W, Michigamme Township, Marquette County.

Mine contact water consists of mine dewatering water, contact storm water from the main operations area, water from the temporary development rock storage area; with small volumes from the truck wash and the crusher operations.

Public comment on the proposed permit must be received by Jan. 20, 2014, until a new comment deadline is announced.

For more information regarding the proposed permit (permit number GW1810162) or procedures for providing comment or requesting the public hearing, contact the DEQ's Water Resources Division, Permits Section at P.O. Box 30458 in Lansing or at 517-284-5570.

Copies of the permit can be viewed at the Water Resources Division in the Upper Peninsula District Office, 1504 W. Washington St. in Marquette. Contact them by phone at 906-228-4853 or by fax at 906-228-4939.**

Editor's Notes:

* Click here to read our Aug. 4, 2012, article on the water treatment plant at the Eagle Mine.

** The proposed groundwater discharge permit was previously available on line. Keweenaw Now is requesting that the DEQ make it available again on their Web site for the extended comment period.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rep. Dianda introduces bill to repeal state pension tax

LANSING –- On Jan. 13 State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced House Bill 5219 calling for the repeal of the state's new pension tax. The pension tax was voted into law by the Republican-led Legislature in 2011 and was first felt by seniors filing their Michigan tax returns last year.

"Punishing seniors who are already struggling to make ends meet is wrong," Dianda said. "The pension tax has made life difficult for a lot of seniors in the U.P. who have worked hard their whole lives and are now surviving off a fixed income. I will do everything in my power to see that it’s repealed."

Under the current Republican-backed law, the tax treatment of retirement income is largely based on the age of the taxpayer and affects anyone who was born in or after 1946. For married taxpayers, retirement/pension deductions are based on the oldest spouse. This new tax is being deducted from pension and retirement benefit distributions, including distributions from pensions, IRAs, annuities, profit-sharing, stock bonuses and any other deferred compensation plan or certain life insurance contracts issued by life insurance companies.

"I take my job seriously, and when a concern is brought to my attention I make sure something is done about it," said Dianda. "I will not give up urging my colleagues to pass this bill, which would restore tax fairness to Michigan’s seniors."

Celebrate Chinese New Year Jan. 18 at Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON -- Chinese New Year, celebrating the start of the Year of the Horse, is coming this weekend. Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the biggest and most significant event of the year in the Chinese community. One tradition is a New Year's Eve reunion dinner, when family members get together and enjoy the moment with the people they love.

This year, Michigan Tech's Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) invites the campus and community to celebrate Chinese New Year with them on Chinese Night, Saturday, Jan. 18. Dinner, featuring authentic Chinese dishes cooked by members of the CSSA -- including pork with serrano pepper, tea-flavored boiled eggs and steamed dumplings -- will be served at the Memorial Union Commons from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A performance in the Rozsa Center after the dinner will time-travel to ancient China with a play and dancing in ancient and modern styles.

"We dance for elegance and inner tranquility that is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture," says the CSSA. "We dance for enthusiasm and passion as in the modern China. We also dance to express our wish for a family reunion at this very moment of time."

A local band called The Board is Playing also will perform.

Tickets for Chinese Night, which include both the dinner and the performance, are $10 for CSSA members and $15 for nonmembers. They are available at the SDC ticket office. Call 487-2073. Click here to purchase tickets on line.

Monday, January 13, 2014

U.P. Food Exchange holding meetings for local food sellers, buyers Jan. 14 in Houghton, Jan. 15 in Ontonagon

HANCOCK -- U.P. Food Exchange has organized meetings in mid-January to bring sellers and buyers of local food together to meet and make plans for 2014 and beyond.

A meeting will be held in Houghton from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. TOMORROW, Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Portage Lake District Library.

In Ontonagon a similar meeting will be held at Wintergreen Foods, same times, on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

These meetings are for sellers of locally grown food and institutional buyers such as restaurants, schools, universities, hospitals and retail businesses. The purpose is to meet and greet, make plans to partner in 2014, discuss opportunities and challenges, and see a live demonstration of the Online Marketplace where farms and businesses can sell and buy.

This is a great chance for farmers to meet new customers and gauge the market for produce in the coming year, and for restaurant owners/managers and school staff to find new sources for locally grown foods. Schools and restaurants who are interested in serving healthy local products are encouraged to attend and learn more.

Please RSVP at or call the Marquette Food Co-op, 906-225-0671, ext 11.

For more information call Ray Sharp at 482-7382.

Calumet Art Center to offer three new classes in January, February

CALUMET -- The Calumet Art Center is offering three new classes beginning this month: Fun with Clay, Beginner to Intermediate; Twining; and Winter Weaving. Pre-registration is required for these classes: Call Ed Gray at 906-281-3494 or call the Center at 906-934-2228.

Students learn the basics of hand-building, and texturing clay. (Photos courtesy Calumet Art Center)

Fun with Clay, Session I: Beginner to Intermediate, to be taught by Ed Gray, will be offered from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. beginning TOMORROW, Tuesday, Jan. 14, and continuing Jan. 21 and 28 and Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25 and 27. Experience the processes of hand building, texturing and the use of terra sigillata. The class fee is $135; materials cost $35 and firing $15.

The Twining Class will be taught from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays: Jan. 16, 23, 30 and Feb. 6, 2014. Twining is an ancient textile technique that is several thousand years old. Help preserve this traditional handwork of our ancestors during this four-week class on Thursday evenings -- a relaxing, pleasant way to be creative during the longest nights of the frozen U.P. The class fee is $65; materials are $45.

Mary is learning the beginning rows of twining. In the Twining Class you can learn to twine a 37.5" x 27" wool rug.

Instructor Eve Lindsey will offer a Winter Weaving beginning weave class from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on two Tuesdays: Jan. 21 and 28. Learn to wind a warp and weave a sample rag rug. The class fee is $35; materials cost $5.

Weaving instructor Eve Lindsey works on a wonderful pattern.

Call 906-934-2228 now to register for a class. The Calumet Art Center is located at 57055 Fifth Street in Calumet.

For more information on upcoming classes and events email or visit