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Friday, July 15, 2016

Save Our Sky Blue Waters: Nix Twin Metals' leases, stop Polymet's land swap in Minnesota

Mineral exploration is taking place throughout this most critical and legendary area of northeast Minnesota -- the headwaters of the Rainy River watershed and the headwaters of Lake Superior, separated by the Laurentian Divide. (Photo © Sue Weber and courtesy Save Our Sky Blue Waters)

[Editor's Note: Save Our Sky Blue Waters is asking those who care about Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to write to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the U.S. Forest Service to request that mining lease renewals sought by Minnesota Twin Metals and a land swap proposed by Polymet for its proposed open-pit sulfide mine be denied. Both mining projects would be located on Superior National Forest public lands. A 30-day public input "listening session" for the Twin Metals leases is currently underway and runs through July 20, 2016. We are including, with permission, an excerpt from an article explaining the issue and a link to the article. Similar versions of the article have appeared in the Duluth Reader and in MINNPOST.]

By Elanne Palcich *

Consensus is building in Minnesota against sulfide mining and its potential disastrous impacts on Minnesota’s waters and environment. Metallic sulfide mining leaves behind significant and persistent pollution and environmental harm.  According to Governor Dayton, this type of mining discharges "highly toxic sulfide waste."

On June 13, 2016, the U.S. Forest Service announced a 30 day period for public input related to two proposed mining lease renewals, currently held by Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM). The Forest Service expressed a deep concern for the location of the leases within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and risks associated with potential copper-nickel sulfide mining. Potential impacts to water resources include changes in water quantity and quality, contamination from acid mine drainage and seepage of tailings water, tailings basin failures, and waste rock treatment locations. Based on these concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal. (United States Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service website)

On the coattails of political momentum expressing concern over metallic sulfide mining, the Forest Service is now considering the denial of the TMM leases. However, the pollution threats of sulfide mining are just as true for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine as they are for Twin Metals. The only difference is that PolyMet, if permitted, will poison and degrade the Lake Superior watershed, with pollutants to seep into the Rainy River watershed (BWCAW) upon mine closure and thereafter....

Click here to read the rest of this article and see how you can submit public comments.

* Guest author Elanne Palcich, a retired elementary teacher, began following the proposed PolyMet sulfide mine starting in 2005, along with various environmental groups, working her way through thousands of pages of environmental review. "This project should never have been allowed to go forward and sulfide mining cannot be done in the environment of northeast Minnesota without polluting the waters, Palcich told Keweenaw Now. "The final EIS concedes that water treatment would be needed for a minimum of 500 years at the plant site." (Inset photo of Elanne Palcich courtesy Elanne Palcich)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"You'll Never Walk Alone," 10th Annual Omega House Summer Concert, is July 19

The 10th Annual Omega House Summer Concert will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton. Local musical artists will again blend their talents through jazz, light opera, folk and popular music to support the Omega House hospice in Houghton. (Poster courtesy Omega House)

HOUGHTON -- Omega House continues its summer tradition with its 10th Annual Summer Concert, "You’ll Never Walk Alone." Local musicians and singers will combine their talents and volunteer their time to bring together what has become a favorite Omega House benefit. It will take place at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, July 19, at Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton. A $10 donation is suggested.

This year’s concert will be headlined by Mark Oliver, singing "You’ll Never Walk Alone," the Rodgers and Hammerstein song written for Carousel. It carries a message that reminds us to live with hope and resilience.

Also, new to this year’s concert as concert mistress is Kiersten Birondo, who has agreed to take over, this year, for Lara Neves. Kiersten, a 6th generation Yooper, has performed in prior summer concerts. Omega House organizers are thrilled that she has agreed to take over this 10th Anniversary concert.

Saints Peter and Paul Lutheran Church is at 1010 Madeleine St. in Houghton. For more information email Carol Pfefferkorn at

Learn more about Omega House hospice care by visiting their Web site at

(Inset photo: Kiersten Birondo performs at the 2015 Omega House Summer Concert. Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Carnegie Museum to host guided tours, beginning with Torch Lake tour July 13

Historic photo of Torch Lake. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

HOUGHTON -- The Carnegie Museum, 105 Huron St. in Houghton, will sponsor three upcoming guided tours highlighting the history of the Keweenaw.

The tours begin with a wine and cheese social at the museum at 5 p.m. Following the social, participants will board the Red Jacket Trolley Company's bus for a two-hour trip through time.

Seats are still available for the "Torch Lake Mining Waste" guided tour with geologists Dr. Bill Rose and Dr. Erika Vye from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. TOMORROW, Wednesday, July 13. The tour guides will lead participants through the industrial corridor associated with milling of Quincy and Calumet mines along Torch Lake's western shore.

The western shore of Torch Lake is 35-50 percent filled with stamp sand waste and a variety of materials associated with milling and smelting activities. Parallel to the Keweenaw Fault, Torch Lake was formed in part from rivers flowing east, across the Fault into Jacobsville Sandstone areas that were eroded into deep plunge pools by rivers that were much larger than now, because of glacial melting 15-10,000 years ago. The tour takes a look at areas from Mason to Tamarack City, Hubbell and Lake Linden, viewing mill sites and stamp sand areas while discussing the modern implications and environmental mitigation efforts. This first tour is sponsored by Great Lakes Accounting, PC.

For all three Carnegie tours a $25 fee ($20 for Museum Members) includes the wine and cheese social at the Museum and the two-hour guided tour aboard the Red Jacket Trolley Company's plush tour bus. Reservations are recommended and your seat is not guaranteed until payment is made. Call the Museum at (906) 482-7140 for more information. The Museum is open until 5 p.m. today, Tuesday.

Upcoming tours in August and September

Upcoming tours will explore "Trials and Trails of Huron Creek," with Michigan Tech Professors Alex Mayer and Carol MacLennan on Wednesday Aug. 3, and "Hockey Arenas of the Copper Country," with Michigan Tech Professor Bill Sproule on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Visit the Carnegie Museum on Facebook for more info.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Vaudeville at the Calumet Theatre welcomes local talent; Unity the Band to offer rock to reggae July 11

Calumet High School Drama Club will present Vaudeville at the Calumet Theatre beginning this Thursday, July 14, and continuing each Thursday through Aug. 11, 2016. Auditions for local talent of all kinds, from singers and musicians to jugglers and more, will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning July 12. (Poster courtesy Calumet Theatre)

CALUMET --  Calumet High School's Drama Club has auditions for Vaudeville acts of all types! If you can sing, dance, twirl a baton, perform magic, comedy, etc., be at the Theatre between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on any of the next five Tuesdays, beginning July 12, to try out. Vaudeville will run five weeks with auditions from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. every Tuesday and shows at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday night.

This Thursday, July 14, the show will feature a variety of acts that are fashioned after the old-time Vaudeville shows that performed on the Theatre's stage back in the day. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids! Children 4 and under are FREE. Click here for more details.

Unity the Band to perform July 11

Unity the Band -- an award-winning Original Roots, Rock, Reggae and World Beat band from Wisconsin -- will perform at 7:30 p.m. TONIGHT, Monday, July 11, at the Calumet Theatre. General admission tickets are $16.

Kai "Pita" Katobalavu, the lead singer of Unity the Band, was born in the Fiji Islands. By listening to and singing native songs, Pita taught himself to play a wide range of instruments including a wooden drum called the lali and to perform the meke, which is a complex combination of voices and dance and is often used in times of war. At a very young age, he followed his uncle’s band, The Blue Ribbon, based out of Tailevu. In 1988 he formed a band called the Polynesian Connection that combined reggae, ska, and rock.

In 2002, Pita moved to Wisconsin where he could continue his music and share his original reggae with a new audience. He is joined by Timothy Perkins (music director, upright bass, electric basses, and vocals); Kelvin Ayres (singer, songwriter, producer and drums/percussion); Anthony Bessen  (acoustic & electric guitar, vocals); and Logan Dier (keys, vocals).