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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti wins 2014 Heart and Hands Award; Youth Award goes to Rachel Chard

Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti, winner of the 2014 Heart and Hands Award of the Keweenaw, displays the award, on which his name will be engraved. Rachel Chard, winner of the Heart and Hands Youth Award, holds her certificate. The awards are announced annually at the July 4 Horsetail Scramble Walk/Run event, which was held this year for the first time at the Keweenaw Land Trust's Marsin Nature Retreat Center. (Photo courtesy Nathan Miller and Keweenaw Land Trust)    

HANCOCK -- Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti is the winner of the 2014 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award. In the youth category, Rachel Chard of Atlantic Mine, a 2014 Houghton High School graduate, received an award. Both were presented at the annual Horsetail Scramble on July 4, which was held at the Keweenaw Land Trust's Marsin Nature Retreat Center.

The Heart and Hands Award, from the estate of Martha and Floyd Kinzel, is given to persons who have had a significant impact on the Keweenaw community -- giving of themselves in a caring, committed, or heartfelt way in the area of peace, justice, human needs and/or environmental stewardship. Each winner designates a local nonprofit organization to be the recipient of the cash award. Sheriff Lahti has chosen Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly to receive his $1200 award. Rachel designated SKY (Simple Kindness for Youth) as the recipient of her $350 Heart and Hands Youth Award.

About Ron Lahti

Noting Sheriff Lahti is "a man of few words but of many great deeds," Richard and Mary Tuisku of Hancock nominated him for the award, citing a long list of Lahti's generous giving of his time and caring efforts for the community. Here are some excerpts from their nomination letter:

Ron has been Sheriff of Keweenaw County for 22 years. He is also in charge of the jail. In fact, he lives at the jail! He has positively impacted many lives through his actions related to his job, but more so through actions not related to his job. Seeing the high poverty rate in the county, Ron started a project called "No Keweenaw Kid Without a Christmas" -- a toy drive especially for children in his county. He visits news media throughout the area before Christmas to ask for donations to be dropped off at several locations. And with the money donated, he goes out and buys toys. He's like a kid at Christmas himself when he goes out to buy the toys....

In his office in Eagle River, Mich., Keweenaw County Sheriff Ron Lahti collects toys for his "No Keweenaw Kid Without a Christmas" annual toy drive. (Keweenaw Now file photo by Carissa Pavolich)

Then he collects donated toys from other locations and delivers all of them. He has operated the program for the past 16 years, and it brings a happy Christmas to 80-100 children each year. And this is separate from another toy drive he is involved in with the Houghton County Sheriff's Department.

Always a fan of traditional country music, he learned to play guitar about ten years ago. Now he is known as "the singing sheriff" and consistently donates his time to play for senior citizens ... At gigs where he is paid, he donates his share to other musicians who play with him. He also donates his time for fund-raisers each year ....

Each year, Ron is the U.P. coordinator for the Torch Run, where law enforcement officers run from Copper Harbor to Lansing to raise money for Special Olympics. And he leads his "posse" (as he calls his fellow runners) for the first 5 miles of the journey.

He was instrumental in bringing 9-1-1 service to Michigan's smallest and most remote county .... In addition, Ron has been active in a number of civic organizations and is presently the President of the Lions Club and is an active member of the Keweenaw County Historical Society, co-chairing the county Sesquicentennial a couple of years ago.

And as an example of his one-on-one personal caring, while a Mohawk woman was hospitalized with a serious illness, her husband needed emergency brain surgery in Wausau. Ron took time off work to take the man to Wausau, stayed with him until he was stabilized, came back home and when the man was ready to come back to Mohawk, went to Wausau again to pick him up.

Ron Lahti truly exemplifies the Heart and Hands award. He is a humble man, who seeks no fame or fortune. We are sure he would cherish the award because it would help "his kids."

About Rachel Chard

Lois Jambekar of Houghton nominated Rachel Chard for the Heart and Hands Youth Award. Here are some excerpts from her nomination letter:

Rachel is one of the most motivated and responsible young people I have ever worked with over the years. I’ve known her since she was in the fourth grade when she served as a student council of her class for Houghton Elementary School, and I was the Houghton Elementary Student Council Advisor. The elementary student council did some community projects besides projects for the school. That particular year they collected food and pet supplies for the CC Humane Society and participated in the Channel TV6 Can Drive. Rachel was helpful in planning and carrying out these projects at the age of 9.

I got to know Rachel much better and work with her more closely when she joined the Keweenaw Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council (YAC) ....

Rachel has been involved in and responsible for many YAC activities the past four years, including these:
  • Helped develop and create the Bully Backfire Game which is presented to fourth grade classes in the area each year. She also has been involved and very much a leader in presenting the game to fourth grade students.
  • Helped develop and conduct a youth needs survey of 1300 middle and high school students in Houghton County the fall of 2011.
  • Participated in the Great Lake Shoreline clean-up with YAC the fall of 2012 and 2013.
  • Helped plan, publicize, and coordinate the youth grant program that takes place twice a year to disperse $25,000 for Community organizations for projects that will benefit local youth....
  • Helped develop and advertise an annual video contest for local youth in which students create videos on important youth concerns.
Rachel is a skilled leader and a good role model for other youth. She is a young lady of action and is always striving to make her community a positive place for people to live, particularly the youth.

Learn more about the Heart and Hands Award by visiting the Heart and Hands Society Web site.

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 15 "Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy" recital to benefit Omega House

Poster for the 8th Annual "Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy" recital to benefit Omega House. (Poster courtesy Omega House)

HOUGHTON -- The Omega House 8th Annual "Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy" benefit recital will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, at Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton.

Community vocalists and instrumentalists will join together for an evening of jazz, light opera, folk, blues and Broadway.

Performers take a curtain call at last year's (July 30, 2013) "Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy" Omega House benefit in Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock. Lara Neves, organizer for both 2013 and 2014 recitals, is at far right. This year's recital will be held at Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Lara Neves has planned the event again this year. She has lined up many talented local performers, including guitarist Steve Jones, Maple Sugar Folk, Noteworthy, and many other vocal solos, duets, and trios.

A $10 donation at the door is suggested to benefit Omega House -- a peaceful, homelike environment for terminally ill people. Omega House provides end-of-life care that emphasizes compassion, independence, respect and dignity. In cooperation with local hospice programs, Omega House provides residents with exceptional care and attention 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

For more information, please contact Carol Pfeffercorn at 906-482-4438 or visit

Editor's Note: Click here to see videos from the 2013 "Summertime and the Livin' Is Easy" concert.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission to meet July 15

CALUMET --The Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission will convene for its regular quarterly meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at park headquarters located on the corner of Red Jacket Road and Hwy. US-41 in Calumet.

The meeting will include an update on the Commission’s efforts to acquire the nationally significant Quincy Smelting Works. The Keweenaw NHP Advisory Commission, paneled by citizens appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, represents the general public and works collaboratively with the National Park Service to advise and assist with managing the resources of Keweenaw National Historical Park. The Commission’s quarterly meetings are open to the public.

For further information or directions, please contact the park at 337-3168.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Sen. Levin: Statement on his trip to Afghanistan and Afghanistan elections

WASHINGTON -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., delivered the following remarks regarding the Afghanistan election on the Senate floor today, July 9. Levin returned from a trip to Afghanistan earlier this week.

I just returned from Afghanistan, where I met with the two presidential candidates, Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Both Dr. Ghani and Dr. Abdullah are impressive men who have committed to reformist agendas and campaigned throughout the country. Afghanistan is fortunate to have two such capable presidential candidates. In the course of my meetings with the two candidates last Sunday and indeed during many meetings over the years, each has told me that he appreciates the support the United States has provided to their country and each will sign a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States as soon as possible after the next president is inaugurated.

This is a particularly sensitive time for Afghanistan, which has not had a peaceful transition of power in the fifty years since Zahir Shah was overthrown in a coup. More than 7 million ballots were cast in the first round of the presidential election back in April, and more than 8 million ballots were recorded in the run-off election last month. All agree that there was an impressive turn-out in a country where the Taliban has repeatedly threatened violence against those who vote. ...

Click here to read the rest of Sen. Levin's statement on his Web site.

Backroom Boys to entertain at "Music on the Menu" July 11

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library invites everyone to bring a lunch and enjoy "Music on the Menu," an outdoor series of events held on the dock outside the library.

If you missed the Backroom Boys at the Houghton Art and Music Festival in June, you'll have another chance to hear them in a free concert at "Music on the Menu" this Friday, July 11, outside the Portage Lake District Library. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

The Backroom Boys will perform from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday, July 11. Enjoy traditional jazz and swing played by John Munson on clarinet, tenor sax, and keyboards; Bob Norden on trombone and vocals; Oren Tikkanen on 6-string banjo, guitar, and vocals; Belinda Mattfolk on bass; and Bob Hiltunen on drums and occasional accordion.

Their music draws from the old styles of New Orleans and Chicago jazz bands circa 1920-1940, with hints of French "Gypsy Swing" and Finnish "Humppa."

Everyone is invited to eat, relax, and enjoy the lunch hour while listening to some great music. In the event of bad weather, the program will be held in the community room.

This event is part of the library’s Summer Reading Program and is free and open to all. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Michigan Tech's Khana Khazana to serve Iranian hotdogs for lunch Friday, July 11

HOUGHTON -- Ever tried Iranian hotdogs? Friday, July 11, is your chance to taste this Iranian fast-food favorite, as Amir Zandnia and Aref Majdara, Michigan Tech graduate students in electrical engineering, cook hotdogs with onions, pickles, parsley and tomatoes at Khana Khazana.

Lunch will be served with homemade lemonade from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., from the Michigan Tech Dining Services food truck on campus -- outside the Van Pelt and Opie Library. A meal costs $6, cash only.

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

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

New photography exibit by Eric Munch to open at Community Arts Center July 10

"Winter Moonscape" by Eric Munch, part of the exhibit of his recent photographs, opening July 10 at the Copper Country Community Arts Center's Kerredge Gallery. (Photo © and courtesy Eric Munch)

HANCOCK -- Real Illusions: New Landscapes is the title of an exhibition of photographs by Eric Munch at the Kerredge Gallery in the Copper Country Community Arts Center. The photographs, taken mostly in the last year, appear to have been altered or distorted; but they are natural, without digital manipulation. The mysterious quality of the images is achieved through length of exposure, the time of day (or night), their viewpoints, and atmospheric effects. The thread that runs through this body of work is the many forms that water takes.

"Despite its ubiquity, water still has the capability to surprise me -- even after forty years in photography," Munch says.

The public is invited to an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 10. The exhibition will run through August 2, 2014.

Eric Munch returned to the Copper Country, the place of his roots, in 1980 to document the local landscape. His work depicts the people, remains of mining history, and the natural beauty of the Copper Country. His love for the landscape has also taken him to Isle Royale and the provincial parks of Canada; to Quebec; and to Cornwall, England. In addition to his work as a fine art photographer, Eric owns and operates a commercial photography business, Photography by Eric Munch, in Calumet.

The Kerredge Gallery is located in the Copper Country Community Arts Center, 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Portage Library to host Fermented Foods Workshop July 10

HOUGHTON -- The Portage Lake District Library will host its monthly program in the Natural Health and Wellness series from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 10.

Everyone is invited to a Fermented Foods Workshop presented by Chassell-based family wellness chiropractor Dr. Jinny Sirard. She will discuss the history and tremendous health benefits of cultured and fermented foods, and she will describe how to make them. Participants will get recipes for making their own yogurt, fermented vegetables, and fermented drinks. Samples of several foods will be available for tasting including beet kvass, yogurt, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables.

Dr. Jinny works at Superior Chiropractic Associates and has been making fermented foods for more than five years. She loves to share what she knows about how to make these foods and the health benefits one can expect to enjoy from eating them.

The Natural Health and Wellness series is held on the second Thursday of each month. All library programs are free, and everyone is welcome. For more information, please call the library at 482-4570 or visit

Monday, July 07, 2014

Frank Stubenrauch receives WUPPDR, Western U.P. Michigan Works! award

Frank Stubenrauch, left, receives the annual Oreste "Chip" Chiantello Public Service Award for 2014 from Michigan Works! Chief Operating Officer Cherilynn Lampinen and Western U.P. Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) Executive Director Kim Stoker. (Photo courtesy WUPPDR)

HOUGHTON -- On Tuesday, July 1, Frank Stubenrauch, longtime Keweenaw County Commissioner, was presented with the Oreste "Chip" Chiantello Public Service Award for 2014 by the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) and Western U.P. Michigan Works!

The Oreste "Chip" Chiantello Public Service Award is awarded each year to a resident of the Western U.P. who is active in public service as an elected or appointed official or volunteer and displays admirable qualities. Stubenrauch has provided years of exemplary public service in multiple capacities, serving on boards including the Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners since 1993, WUPPDR Commission, Manpower, Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress (UPCAP), Baraga-Houghton-Keweenaw Community Action Agency, and Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD).

As Keweenaw County Board Chairman, Frank Stubenrauch also supported some local conservation efforts. Here he helps clean up the beach at the mouth of the Gratiot River, part of the Gratiot River County Park, during a Michigan Coastal Cleanup event. The original county park was obtained with grants, at no cost to the county, 75 percent from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and 25 percent from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act fund obtained for the County by the North Woods Conservancy. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Throughout his years of service, Stubenrauch has demonstrated dedication not only to Keweenaw County but to the entire Western U.P. WUPPDR and Michigan Works! are pleased to present the 2014 Oreste "Chip" Chiantello Public Service Award to such a deserving individual. Thank you, Frank!

Keweenaw County Historical Society to host "A Brief History of our National Parks" July 9

GAY, Mich. -- Keweenaw National Historical Park Superintendent Mike Pflaum will present "A Brief History of our National Parks" for the Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Adventures in History program at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, at the Gay School Museum in Gay, Mich.

Pflaum, who is a career National Park Service ranger, will share the colorful history of America’s national parks. Beginning with Yellowstone in 1872, the American national park system has grown to include 401 different units stretching from Guam to Puerto Rico, from Alaska’s Noatak to Florida’s Dry Tortugas, and all points in between -- including two in our own backyard.

From awe-inspiring national parks like Grand Teton, to quiet places of reflection like Pearl Harbor, each unit preserves sites that are key to the American experience and identity. Each unit also has a unique story to tell. Pflaum will provide an historical overview of national parks before diving into a deeper view of the stories and resources of the parks on Lake Superior.

The Gay School Museum is one of the resources preserved and interpreted by the Keweenaw County Historical Society (KCHS), a Keweenaw Heritage Site partner with Keweenaw National Historical Park. The program is part of the KCHS Adventures in History program. Admission is $6 for the general public and $5 for KCHS members.