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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chain Drive mountain bike races, parade, highlight Bridgefest weekend

By Michele Bourdieu

Mountain bikers head across the Portage Lift Bridge this morning, June 14, on their way from Houghton to Hancock for the 16- and 30-mile Chain Drive Festival races at Maasto Hiihto. At left, spectators Lynette Potvin and her nephew, Jameson Manders, 4, watch for Jameson's Mom, Elise, of DePere, Wis., who is participating in the race. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Cooler than normal June weather didn't discourage the mountain bikers participating in the Chain Drive Festival races today at Maasto Hiihto or the many local residents who turned out for the Bridgefest Parade from Hancock to Houghton yesterday. Here are some videos and photos of the events:

They're off! Over and under the bridge ...

A large number of mountain bike enthusiasts turned out for today's Chain Drive Festival. As the 16- and 30-mile races begin, participants ride from Houghton to Hancock across the Portage Lift Bridge and then under it -- heading for the Maasto Hiihto Trails. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Lynette Potvin, U.S. Forest Service researcher at Michigan Tech, and her nephew, Jameson Manders, 4, of DePere, Wis., watched the mountain bikers cross the Lift Bridge so Jameson could see his Mom, Elise, ride by. Jameson is ready with his bike to head for the Junior Chain Drive, being held at Portage Health this afternoon. "He's excited about it," Potvin said. 

Bridgefest Parade ...

Musicians from the Houghton and Hancock High School bands play a lively tune as they march down Quincy Street in Hancock during the Bridgefest Parade, which attracted a large crowd of local residents.

A City of Houghton Fire Truck participates in the parade, with firefighters on the truck following the tradition of tossing candy to children watching the event.

Painesdale residents recall their mining history with a float that announces the Copper Country Historic Fair being held at Dee Stadium in Houghton from June through August 2014.

Houghton County Democrats, including State Rep. Scott Dianda (walking behind float) remind people to vote. The Michigan Primary Election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014.

Members of the Copper Country Skating Academy proudly display their banner.

Roller skating enthusiasts head down Quincy Street in Hancock, looking forward to skating across the Portage Lift Bridge as the parade continues to Houghton.

Celebrations, a boutique specializing in wedding and formal dresses, reminds spectators that June is the month of weddings and proms.

More Bridgefest events ...

Bridgefest activities continue through the weekend with fireworks, sponsored by Portage Health, at dusk tonight, Saturday, June 14 (weather permitting) on the Portage Lake Waterway. Tomorrow, Sunday, June 15, helicopter rides will be offered from 10 a.m. to sunset at the Ramada Inn in Hancock. The Yooper Sprint Triathlon begins at 10 a.m. Sunday at Hancock Beach.

Click here to read more about Bridgefest.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Volunteers still needed for Junior Chain Drive bike race June 14

HANCOCK -- Volunteers are still needed to help with the Junior Chain Drive bike race TOMORROW, Saturday, June 14, at Portage Health in Hancock.

Events start at 3:30 p.m. and usually end before 5 p.m.

2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Two more people are needed for registration.

Timing -- Need 2-3 more people to help.

Finish Chute Director -- Need 1 person
Road Turn -- need 1 person
Kiss Point -- need 1 person
Rabbit 1 lap race (biker) -- need 1 person
Sweeps -- need 4 persons (bikers) or 2 people that can do 8 more miles.

Help is also needed to move the tent and generator to the kids' finish area from the main finish.

If you can help, call Marc Norton at 906-337-1300 or email him at

Community Arts Center in Hancock to host exhibit by two ceramic artists

HANCOCK, MI – The Copper Country Community Arts Center is pleased to present an exhibition of recent work by ceramic artists, Kenyon Hansen and Lindsey Heiden in the Kerredge Gallery now through July 5, 2014.

Colorful sculpture by Lindsey Heiden, left, and pottery by Kenyon Hansen, right, will be featured in the new exhibit at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock through July 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. TONIGHT, Friday, June 13, at the Community Arts Center. The artists will give a brief gallery talk and refreshments will be served.

Kenyon Hansen grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He earned his BFA in 2005 from Finlandia University. He has been an artist-in-residence at Watershed Center for the Ceramics Arts, and the Archie Bray Foundation, where he was awarded the Lincoln Fellowship. In 2013, he was selected as an Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly. Kenyon currently resides in Hancock, where he is a full time potter and adjunct instructor at Finlandia University.

Lindsey Heiden earned a B.F.A. in painting from Western Illinois University in 2007.

After graduating, she was a resident artist at Center Street Clay and traveled to Taiwan to participate in building an anagama kiln. She currently lives and makes her art in Hancock.

Together the two artists’ works demonstrate the richness and variation of the medium as well as the sensitive approach they take to their art. Kenyon creates elegant, functional pottery with softly hued glazes, fired in a soda kiln that he built. Lindsey creates whimsical animal-shaped jars and masks that are hand-built, heavily decorated with incised pattern and glazed in bright colors. Because their work is vastly different from each other’s the exhibition is an interesting display of color and texture, subtlety and wild curiosity.

The Community Arts Center is at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. For more information please call (906) 482-2333 or visit

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Calumet Theatre to host Smithsonian national anthem sing-along June 14

CALUMET -- The Calumet Theater has registered with the Smithsonian Institution to host the national anthem sing-along at 4 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 14, Flag Day. The day marks the 200th anniversary of our nation's flag, the Star and Stripes, which inspired the writing of our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner."

The Smithsonian Institution is sponsoring the national anthem sing-along, which will be the largest group-sing ever of our national anthem. The Calumet Theatre will open its doors at 3:30 p.m. to welcome anyone who wishes to join in the singing of our national anthem. All, as many as the theater can hold, are invited to join in. To coordinate with the national sing-along people must be INSIDE the theater by 3:55 p.m. Doors will close at that time. Sara Perfetti will conduct and Jan Dalquist will accompany at the piano.

Following the singing the participants are asked to disperse immediately. At 7:30 p.m. that evening the theater will host the Calumet Players in their performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

Cinderella will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 12-14, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 15.

Click here to read about these and other events coming to the Calumet Theatre.

Educators may still apply for Moosewatch Expedition on Isle Royale

ISLE ROYALE -- Educators can participate in the wolf/moose research on Isle Royale National Park through ED5560: Ecology of Isle Royale for Educators. A few openings remain for the course being offered from July 29 through August 6. Applications for Moosewatch for Educators will be accepted until Friday, June 27.

Access is via Ranger III, departing from Houghton to Mott Island.

Click here for the Web site giving details about the trip and how to apply.

For more information contact Leah Vucetich at

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Finlandia Gallery to host work of Marco Casagrande, Finnish architect and environmental artist, through July 18

Sandworm, 2012, by Marco Casagrande. (Photos courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- Marco Casagrande: Real Reality will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock, from June 12 to July 18, 2014.

An opening reception will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at the gallery. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Moving freely between architecture, landscape architecture, environmental art, urban and environmental design and science, Casagrande’s work encompasses a broad vision of the built human environment. Structures that respond to nature, designed with local materials and built with local building practices, change over time as they age in situ.

 Ultra-Ruin, 2013, by Marco Casagrande.

Since 1999 Casagrande has created 65 cross-disciplinary, ecologically conscious architectural installations around the world.

In all of Marco Casagrande’s work, there is a search for a subconscious architecture, a real reality, and a connection between modern people and nature. He believes that one should not be blindfolded by stress, the surroundings of economics, and the online access to entertainment or information.

"What is real is valuable," says Casagrande. "I want to design shelters in nature for honest people."

Last year Casagrande was awarded the 2013 European Prize for Architecture. This award was designed to support those influential European architects who are blazoning a more humanist and social-based architecture and recognize their pursuits and their achievements before a European and world audience.

 Marco Casagrande at Shenzhen Biennial.

"Casagrande is one of Europe’s new young breed of architects," states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, the Finnish Museum President of The Chicago Athenaeum, "who have expanded the traditional boundaries of architecture, pushing that envelope beyond ‘accepted norms’ and the ‘standard perimeters’ of design practice, to include architecture as environmental art and sculpture, while embracing sustainability, humanism, and the public’s right to an appropriate architecture and urban design that reflects and respects human values, dignity, and self-esteem. Casagrande is a model for today’s young design professional."

Casagrande’s work has been widely exhibited internationally including the World Architecture Festival (2009), Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-City Biennial (2009, 2012), Victoria and Albert Museum (2010), World Design Expo (2011), Beufort04 Triennial (2012), Austrian Museum of Contemporary Art MAK "Eastern Promises" (2013), Buenos Aires Architecture Biennial (2013) and China Central Academy of Fine Art CAFAM Biennale (2014), among others.

His work has been critically acclaimed, winning awards including the World Architecture Community Awards (2009), World Architecture Festival Award (2009), Architectural Review House Award (2010), World Architecture Community Awards (2010), Red Dot Design Awards (2012) and Russian Architects Union’s Zeleny Proekt (Green Project) 2012 competitions. He also won the International Committee of Architectural Critics CICA Award 2013 for conceptual and artistic architecture.

Currently Marco Casagrande is the Principal of the Casagrande Laboratory Architects in Finland and WEAK! in Taiwan together with Prof. Roan Ching-Yueh and architect Hsieh Ying-Chun. He directs the independent multidisciplinary research center Ruin Academy based in Taipei, Taiwan, and Artena, Italy, and is the Vice-President of the International Society of Biourbanism.

Click here to see more photos of Casagrande's work.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Michigan Court of Appeals Lansing hearing on Eagle Mine state permits draws 500 KBIC members

By Michele Bourdieu (with information from Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Eagle Mine)

Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) drum in front of the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing on June 3, 2014, the occasion of a long-awaited hearing by the Michigan Court of Appeals on a contested case brought against the State of Michigan for issuing permits to Kennecott/Rio Tinto (now Lundin Mining) for the Eagle Mine Project near Big Bay, Michigan. KBIC leaders pictured here include Ogimaa (Chief) Shalifoe, left in red on the drum, and KBIC Councilman Eddy Edwards to his right in orange also on the drum. (Photo © and courtesy Jessica Koski)

BARAGA -- About 500 members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) stood united around the importance of keeping their waters clean from contamination associated with sulfide mining on June 3, 2014, at the Michigan Court of Appeals in Lansing. Oral arguments were heard involving the Eagle Mine, Michigan’s first permitted sulfide mine in the Upper Peninsula.

"This is the first time in our generation that the community as a whole came together to fight for true sovereignty and engage in spontaneous government participation. The goal of the new moving-forward Tribal Council is to bring transparency and involvement to the Anishinaabeg (the people)," said Donald Shalifoe, Sr., KBIC’s Ogimaa (Chief).

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) tribal members gather in front of the Michigan Hall of Justice for the June 3, 2014, contested case hearing on the Eagle Mine, in which KBIC and three other groups petition against what they consider illegal permitting of a sulfide mine by the State of Michigan. (Photo © and courtesy Jessica Koski)

Many tribal members carpooled and traveled about eight hours to line up for the 10 a.m. Lansing hearing. KBIC’s remarkable presence overwhelmed the Michigan Hall of Justice, whose staff reported it was their largest turnout ever for a court hearing.

Some of those in the crowd in front of the Hall of Justice carry signs asking for protection of the water on the Yellow Dog Plains. (Photo © and courtesy Gene Champagne)

Tribal leaders and elders observed the hearing from within the court room, while hundreds watched and listened to the proceedings in an overflow video conferencing room.  Traditional drumming and singing resounded outside the building following the hearing.

KBIC’s Vice President Carole LaPointe remarked, "It was a very educational experience for our membership and youth."

One of the youngest KBIC members, Skyler Sandman-Shelifoe, has a special seat -- a tikinaagan, meaning cradle board -- for this peaceful family gathering of all ages in Lansing. (Photo © and courtesy Jessica Koski, Skyler's Mom)

The Anishinaabeg band has opposed the Eagle Mine development, located on Treaty of 1842 ceded homeland, since it was first permitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in 2006.

Unsettled concerns involve the mining regulatory process, improper permitting and inadequate assessment of impacts to the area environment, cultural resources and water quality, including groundwater contamination and the potential for perpetual acid mine drainage upstream from Lake Superior.

Donald Shalifoe, Sr., KBIC’s Ogimaa (Chief), foreground in red, addresses Keweenaw Bay Indian Community members gathered in front of the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing for the June 3, 2014, contested case hearing before the Michigan Court of Appeals. (Photo courtesy Keweenaw Bay Indian Community)

KBIC -- along with the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, National Wildlife Federation, and Huron Mountain Club -- originally brought the case forward in 2008, asserting that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued permits for Eagle Mine without assuring the permittee followed the criteria set in Michigan’s non-ferrous mining law, Part 632. Initially, the case was heard by an administrative judge. The case then went to Circuit Court in Ingham County, where Judge Paula Manderfield concluded that the MDEQ rightfully granted the permits. The petitioners filed an appeal, which has been in limbo, waiting for a date for the Court of Appeals to hear the case.

Tribal member Jeffery Loman said on June 3, "The hearing today is another testimony to the fact that inadequate regulation and collusion between industry and government results in endless litigation."

A sign in the crowd points out the contradiction between "Pure Michigan" (a state slogan to attract tourism) and the potential dangers to water quality posed by sulfide mining. (Photo © and courtesy Gene Champagne)

Preceding the hearing, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Executive Director Mindy Otto was quoted on their Web site as saying, "There are many points that prove the MDEQ should not have issued the permits. They should have taken certain things into consideration, such as the fact that under Part 632, it is required to assess the impacts to the 'affected area.' The company stated that the only affected area was everything inside the fence line at Eagle Mine. It is clear this is not true, with a plethora of impacts that have happened and continue to happen today."

One aspect of the evolving case questions what qualifies as a "place of worship" under Michigan’s sulfide mining statute. An initial ruling by Michigan Administrative Law Judge Richard Patterson recommended mitigation of impacts to an Anishinaabeg sacred place, Migi zii wa sin (Eagle Rock), but the MDEQ made a final permit decision asserting only built structures are places of worship. Since then the portal to the Eagle Mine has been constructed under Eagle Rock.

This 2012 photo shows the decline tunnel that has been constructed under Eagle Rock (tree-covered outcrop at left behind fence) to serve as the portal to the Eagle Mine. The decline tunnel is 18 feet in diameter and descends under Eagle Rock at a 13 percent grade (Every 100 feet it drops 13 feet). (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Discriminatory enforcement of Michigan law has led to substantial degradation to KBIC’s sacred site.  This includes obtrusive mine facilities and a decline access ramp into the base of Eagle Rock, non-stop noise and activity, and hindered traditional access and use.  Spiritually significant high places like Eagle Rock are used in solitude by the Anishinaabeg for multi-day fasting, vision quest and ceremony.

Despite the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, Native people still struggle to protect their remaining sacred places in the face of extractive development agendas.

"It is a shame that the United States of America, proudly founded upon values of religious freedom, has trouble guaranteeing this right to all of its nation’s first people," said tribal member Jessica Koski.

Gene and Carla Champagne of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay were also present in the Hall of Justice during part of the hearing.

"We were able to squeeze into a standing-room-only TV room to watch the proceedings," Gene Champagne said. "The courtroom itself was full. The appeals panel had already heard arguments about the desecration of a sacred site and were finishing up discussion on the water treatment plant."

Gene noted he was impressed by the solidarity in the gathering outside and the cautious optimism of those who had witnessed the entire hearing.

"I was moved that so many people had traveled so far to defend a fundamental constitutional, tribal, and universal right -- the freedom of religion and the right to worship and practice as we believe," he added. "It is too bad the MDEQ does not regard the constitution as relevant. Hopefully the Appeals Court will."

KBIC anticipates a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals within six months. The Eagle Mine’s time frame for production start-up is the end of 2014.

"While the court deliberates, it is important to remember that regardless of the outcome, we are in the right for standing up for the Yellow Dog Plains," said Emily Whittaker of Big Bay, Mich., who joined KBIC members and other locally affected residents during the hearing in Lansing. "We hope the court understands their decision will have long lasting implications for this place, as well as other areas that are slated for mining."

According to KBIC, several environmental groups and many concerned citizens, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling will be an important precedent for additional sulfide mining proposals threatening Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and waters of the Great Lakes.

Eagle Mine issues statement on Court of Appeals hearing

A recent aerial view of Eagle Mine near Big Bay, Michigan. Eagle Rock, the Anishinaabeg sacred site, is the green outcrop in the lower right quarter of the photo. (Photo courtesy Eagle Mine. Reprinted with permission.)

On June 3, Eagle Mine issued a statement noting they are confident in their own position and optimistic about the pending Appeals Court decision.

Commenting on the arguments made before the Michigan Court of Appeals on June 3, Eagle Mine General Manager Mike Welch said, "Eagle Mine appreciates the opportunity to argue the merits of the case in support of the permits granted by MDEQ and the agency's extensive review process that has withstood previous challenges over the past eight years.

"This is a testament to our team's expertise, experience and professionalism in terms of its environmental protectiveness, safety culture and commitment to the community in which we operate. We are confident the project complies with all state and federal laws and regulations for safeguarding the environment. Even more, we are extremely proud of the nearly 800 men and women that have built Eagle."

Eagle Mine's statement notes the small, high-grade deposit will produce 360 million pounds of nickel, 295 million pounds of copper and small amounts of other metals over an estimated eight-year mine life. They expect to begin operations in late 2014.

Genealogical Society to hold picnic June 10

HOUGHTON -- For its June meeting, the Houghton-Keweenaw Genealogical Society will be having a potluck picnic at the Lake Linden Park at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10. Bring a dish to pass, table service and beverage. The picnic will be at the park’s shelter, so less than perfect weather shouldn’t interfere. Members, their guests and the public are all welcome.

For information, call 369-4083 or email