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Friday, September 16, 2016

27th annual Parade of Nations is Sept. 17

Indian students walk across the Portage Lift Bridge during the 2015 Parade of Nations. This year's Parade of Nations begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in Hancock. Construction on Quincy Street has progressed and the parade will follow the usual route from Hancock to Houghton, ending at Dee Stadium for the Multicultural Festival of international food and entertainment. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo).

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of News and Media Relations
With photos by Keweenaw Now 

HOUGHTON -- Passport to the World is the theme of the 2016 Parade of Nations. The 27th annual Parade of Nations this Saturday, Sept. 17, is a celebration of the international heritage and flavor of our community.

It kicks off at 11 a.m. with a parade from Hancock to the Dee Stadium in Houghton, with floats, bands and marchers in traditional dress carrying the flags of their countries.

Students and community members from many countries carry their flags and wear colorful traditional dress in the Parade of Nations. Here they cross the Portage Lift Bridge on the way to Houghton. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo)

Floats in the parade will compete for $500 in cash prizes. Anyone who brings an "I Love Parade of Nations" sign to the parade will be entered in a Chicago Weekend Family Getaway drawing for a prize package that includes airfare, hotel and entertainment.

During the 2015 Parade, this young representative of Kyrgyzstan carries an "I love Parade of Nations" sign to be eligible for a prize. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo)

Ever eaten Moroccan food? Food from Bangladesh? How about Turkey? Those are just a few of more than 20 nations whose cuisines you can sample at the Multicultural Festival in Dee Stadium, following the parade.

Admission is free; meals or snacks can be purchased at the food booths.

Dee Stadium in Houghton is the scene of the Multicultural Festival. Booths with a variety of international cuisines welcome visitors. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo)

During the Multicultural Festival, entertainers representing many countries and traditions will perform on a raised stage. They include the Kivijat Dancers; cloggers; music and Bollywood dancers from the Michigan Tech Indian Students Association; Bells on the Bay, a group of handbell performers; singer Jan Arnold, who accompanies herself on the guitar; the Michigan Tech Dance Squad; and Bob Hiltunen, a singer who plays guitar, bass and keyboards. The Michigan Tech Pep Band will march in the Parade.

The Copper Country Cloggers are a favorite part of the entertainment in Dee Stadium. (2015 Keweenaw Now photo) Click below to see a slide show with more Keweenaw Now photos of the 2015 Parade of Nations.

Jam-skating at Rozsa Center

The headline act this year is Breaksk8, a professional jam-skating team that likes to push the limits of dancing with wheels under your shoes.

They have toured the world and appeared in films. Breaksk8 will skate in the parade on Saturday, Sept. 17, and put on a colorful show at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

BreakSk8 has amazed audiences around the globe with their unique style of entertainment on wheels. Never before have roller skating and break dancing been combined in such an acrobatic, athletic, artistic and precise display of talent. Tickets are on sale now, $10 for adults, $5 for youth, and free for Michigan Tech Students with the Experience Tech Fee. Call (906) 487-2073 or purchase tickets on line at

Parade of Nations is sponsored by Michigan Technological University, Finlandia University, the cities of Houghton and Hancock, and a wide variety of local civic organizations and businesses.

Editor's Note:

Click here to see Keweenaw Now's photo album with more photos of the 2015 Parade of Nations.To view it as a slide show, click on the first photo and follow the arrows to the right. Click on the info icon to see the captions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 Pipe Out Paddle flotilla protests Enbridge's Line 5 Pipeline under Mackinac Straits

By Michele Bourdieu

Miguel Levy of Houghton took this photo of the "Shut Down Line 5" banner from his kayak during the Sept. 3, 2016, Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's 63-year-old pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. At right is the south end of the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

MACKINAW CITY -- For the second year in a row, concerned citizens -- Native and non-Native -- paddled kayaks and canoes from the beach near Lighthouse Park in Mackinaw City to protest Enbridge's 63-year-old Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The 2016 Pipe Out Paddle flotilla protest attracted about 150 participants and included two launches on Saturday, Sept. 3 -- two days before the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk

Miguel and Anita Levy of Houghton participated in the Pipe Out Paddle event for the second year. This time they happened to be walking in Mackinaw City the preceding evening and joined other activists in an impromptu event, carrying cardboard letters made with little light bulbs to protest both the Line 5 pipeline and the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Each person carried one letter to form the signs and they walked towards the highway to attract the attention of passing cars.

On Sept. 2, the night before the Pipe Out Paddle event, protesters convey their message with lighted cardboard letters in Mackinaw City. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

On Saturday Miguel paddled a kayak for the first time ever to join the flotilla protest.

On Sept. 3, 2016, Miguel Levy of Houghton sets out from shore to join kayaks and canoes paddling near the Mackinac Bridge for the second annual kayactivist protest against Enbridge's 63-year-old Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. A tribal security boat accompanies the group. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

"It was exciting to have this connection emphasizing the need to protect our water, sacred water to the Native American peoples, water important for all of us, clearly against the profit-making interests of the Oil Companies," Anita said.

Darren Weinnert, a young tourist and photographer from Altoona, Pennsylvania, was on his way to the Upper Peninsula, hoping to visit the Keweenaw -- destination Copper Harbor -- when he learned about the protest and attended the event.

On his way to the U.P., Pennsylvania resident Darren Weinnert poses with two lovely protesters at the Pipe Out Paddle event -- Mari Raphael, left, of Peshawbestown, Mich., a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and Denise Sica of Northport, Mich. -- both from the Leelanau Peninsula on Lake Michigan. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I think it's awesome," Weinnert said of this second Pipe Out Paddle protest to create awareness of the dangers to Great Lakes waters from a potential oil spill. "Global warming is a concern, but nobody pays attention to the water."

Kayactivists at the Sept. 3, 2016, Pipe Out Paddle protest, raise their "Water is Life" banner. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Another tourist who just happened to arrive at the event, not knowing what it was about at first, was Ryan Haury of Ferndale, Mich., who had been camping at the nearby Dark Sky Park and was excited about having seen Northern Lights over the Mackinac Bridge during his stay.

"Sustainable energy is the future -- water, solar, wind -- not fossil fuels," Haury said. "I think fossil fuels -- coal and oil -- are only being used now because of lobbyists controlling the decisions of politicians -- lining their pockets with money in order to keep coal and oil running."

Haury noted the fact that Republicans deny that global warming exists is due to this lobbying for coal and oil.

"And I miss Bernie Sanders," he added.

Jannan Cornstalk, citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands (LTBB) of Odawa Indians and organizer of the event, was pleased with the number of participants, considering the fact that many activists had gone to the Dakotas to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against the North Dakota Access Pipeline, happening at the same time.*

Pipe Out Paddle organizer Jannan Cornstalk, right, is pictured here with her daughter, Jannan Cotto. Both are from Petoskey, Mich., and citizens of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB). Cotto is also LTBB education director. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"I'm really pleased with the turnout, and the weather is stellar," Cornstalk told Keweenaw Now, "and I'm glad that the tribal jiimans (large canoes) were able to come."

A jiiman (tribal canoe) participates in the Sept. 3, 2016, Pipe Out Paddle protest near the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)

Kayaks and canoes return to shore after their morning launch. A second launch was held in the afternoon. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

During an interview by a local TV station, Cornstalk speaks about the reasons for Pipe Out Paddle event and confirms the group's solidarity with those protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline:

In a TV interview Pipe Out Paddle organizer Jannan Cornstalk speaks about the importance of protecting the water from a potential oil spill from the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac and thanks other groups for their support of the event. Holding the AIM (American Indian Movement) flag in the background are, from left, Joann Carey of Petoskey, LTBB elder; Joan Jacobs of Port Huron, LTBB citizen; and Tamela Okerley of Petoskey, LTBB citizen and elder outreach coordinator for the Michigan Indian Elders Association. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Tamela Okerley of Petoskey, elder outreach coordinator for the Michigan Indian Elders Association, said 11 of 12 Michigan tribes have signed a resolution requesting the shutdown of Line 5.**

"That resolution will be going out to the Governor and state reps and other politicians," Okerley noted. "The elders are the water keepers."

Wearing AIM (American Indian Movement) t-shirts, LTTB citizens Michael Smith of Harbor Springs and Tamela Okerley of Petoskey, show their solidarity with AIM values.

Michael Smith of Harbor Springs, LTTB citizen and AIM representative, explained why he, Okerley and others were wearing AIM t-shirts.

"We're wearing what we believe their beliefs are -- to stand up for our rights," Smith said.

One of the groups involved in the Pipe Out Paddle event was MICATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands). Duncan, a member of MICATS, came from Lansing to join the protest against Line 5.

"I came because this is an issue about not only protesting the water that sustains us but also because it's part of the ongoing struggle against settler colonialism," Duncan said. "Indigenous folks who've lived here for hundreds of years are calling for this pipeline to be shut down, and I'm here because I want to take a stand against the violence that's been perpetrated by my ancestors."

Duncan of MICATS traveled from Lansing for the protest against Line 5. He is a history major about to graduate from Michigan State University. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Valerie Jean of Detroit, photographer and member of MICATS and DCATS (Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands), helped organize the Pipe Out Paddle protest for the second year.

"To me we are at a monumental moment where we have to, by any means necessary, get Line 5 decommissioned for future generations," Valerie Jean said. "We're actually taking future generations' lives and putting them in jeopardy by having that oil pipeline run through the Great Lakes."

June Thaden of Traverse City, board member of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, said her group is working with Oil and Water Don't Mix on their project to shut down Line 5.***

"Water is life," Thaden said, means "the economy up here -- in all of northern Michigan, even in Traverse City, will be affected. "Who wants to see water with oil in it?"

She noted especially the effect a spill would have on tourism in the area.

"Even if somehow they manage to clean it up so it's not visible, people will still remember and tourists will not even come here," Thaden added.

After enjoying the free lunch offered by the Pipe Out Paddle organizers, kayactivists from the Traverse City area look forward to participating in the afternoon kayak/canoe launch. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Marti Wesley, a retired teacher from Saginaw, said she just learned about the Line 5 pipeline via Facebook during the past eight months. She belongs to a kayak group and said she was looking forward to participating in the afternoon launch. Since it was Labor Day weekend she wasn't able to convince other members of the group to attend so she drove up to Mackinaw City by herself.

"Retirees should be out there," Wesley noted. "That's why I'm here."

Press Conference speakers on "Water is Life"

Between lunchtime and the afternoon launch, organizer Jannan Cornstalk hosted a press conference with speakers of different ages who gave testimonies on the importance of protecting the water.

John Petoskey, a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band, reminded the audience of the current legal status of a petition to end fracking in Michigan. He was followed by young Cole Mays and his mother, Melissa Mays, who spoke about living in Flint with the water pollution crisis there.

During the press conference at the 2016 Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, two speakers call attention to additional water issues in Michigan. John Petoskey of the Grand Traverse Band asks for signatures on a petition against fracking, and Cole Mays talks about what it is like to live in Flint where the water remains polluted. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Melissa Mays, Cole's mother, speaks about the hardships and dangerous health effects still endured by Flint families because of the poisoning of their drinking water with lead and other pollutants. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)****

Fred Harrington, local resident and LTBB citizen, spoke about enjoying the water with his grandson and his concern that an oil spill in the Straits could ruin the whole area.

Fred Harrington of LTBB speaks about his concerns for the water. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Humans need water. We don't own it. It owns us," Harrington said. "We have to take care of the water."

Harrington added that citizens cannot let commercialism and capitalism destroy the water here as it has in other parts of the world.

Karlee Exelby, 10, spoke at the press conference on her love of the water. Here she is pictured with her mother, Tina Dominic. Karlee and her Mom, LTBB citizens from Petoskey, volunteered to do face painting at the event. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Aaron Payment, chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, spoke during the press conference about the failures of state officials to act on the dangers of a potential oil spill from the aging Line 5 pipeline under the Straits. He gave several reasons for his position: shutting down Line 5.

During the press conference, Aaron Payment, Sault Tribe chairman, describes the devastation that would result from an oil spill in the area -- including, he says, the damage to Mackinac Island, which would have to be evacuated. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Jannan Cornstalk summed up the concerns of the activists at the Pipe Out Paddle event, noting that, following a prophecy, water is going to be like gold in the future.

"Our water is in a state of emergency right now," she said.

Oil and Water Don't Mix campaign calls for action

Several representatives from tribal and environmental groups participated in the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. One of these groups, Oil and Water Don't Mix, posted on Facebook a video of their effort to speak to the Governor during a press conference following his completion of the walk. He barely answered their question and walked away.

Click here to see two Oil and Water Don't Mix videos on their Facebook page from their protest at the end of the Labor Day Bridge Walk (Sept. 5, 2016).

A news article from Oil and Water Don't Mix dated today, Sept. 14, 2016, states the following:

"Following a plea for urgent action from one of Gov. Rick Snyder’s top oil pipeline advisors, citizens groups committed to ending the threat of oil spills in the Great Lakes today called on the state’s pipeline safety panel to stop the flow of oil through Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac during dangerous icy winter months when oil spill recovery is nearly impossible."

Click here to read the rest of this Oil and Water Don't Mix article and to sign on to the letter calling for action.


* Read about the Standing Rock protest here.

** Click here for a list of individual tribal resolutions against Line 5.

*** See Oil and Water Don't Mix for information about their campaign.

**** Click here to see the Detroit Free Press timeline on the Flint water crisis.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

EPA taps Michigan Tech as home of Regional Environmental Infrastructure Center

Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) is one of the university's various departments, centers and institutes expected to play a role in the recently named EPA Regional Environmental Infrastructure Center. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

By Jennifer Donovan*
Posted on Michigan Tech News Sept. 12, 2016
Reprinted here with permission

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University is known for both its engineering and environmental know-how and its resources.

Add to that the School of Business and Economics, the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) and a campus-wide commitment to multidisciplinary work, and you have just what the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking for.

The EPA named Michigan Tech the new home of its Region 5 environmental finance center, a recognition that comes with a six-year grant of up to $5.6 million. EPA Region 5 covers Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

An EPA team is visiting Michigan Tech for a site visit today and tomorrow, Sept. 13-14.

Engineering, Business Resources

"The depth of engineering resources that we have, our business school’s involvement and the fact that a multidisciplinary approach is the norm here all made our application stand out," says Tim Colling.

The principal investigator on the EPA center, Colling also directs Michigan Tech’s Center for Technology and Training (CTT), part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). There are several co-PIs from various University departments, centers and institutes, including CEE, the Sustainable Futures Institute, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) and the School of Business and Economics.

The new EPA regional center -- one of 10 nationwide -- will help counties, cities, villages, and state agencies find better ways to manage and maintain their infrastructure and to minimize their impact on the environment.

Infrastructure is a term used to describe the manmade systems that make modern society possible, such as bridges and roads, water and sewer systems, landfills and power generation systems.  Infrastructure and the environment interact constantly and in complex ways. Bridges span bodies of water; storm drainage from roads affects the surrounding ecosystem. Plants and wildlife as well as the quality of the air, water and soil all depend upon infrastructure that functions properly.

Preventive Maintenance

Managing infrastructure, Colling says, is somewhat like car maintenance.

"If I don’t change the oil, rotate the tires and grease the moving parts, my car is likely to break down prematurely and, as a result, I will have some expensive repairs and will have to deal with inconveniences like being stuck on the side of the road," explains Colling. "However, if I do all the required maintenance, my car is likely to last a lot longer, cost me much less over its life, and not leave me stranded. It’s the same idea for infrastructure -- we have to constantly manage it and do preventive work. Like your car, if you didn’t save to replace it and had to buy a new one suddenly, the financial burden can be staggering.

"These are the challenges engineers deal with every day," Colling goes on to say, "and there are no simple answers."

The EPA center will receive baseline funding from the grant. Colling is expecting additional funding to come through applications for various projects for which Michigan Tech is well qualified.

"Since this is a center focused on the Great Lakes area, we anticipate significant GLRC involvement," he says.

David Hall, a member of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative, recently commented on this article, saying, "Sustainability can finally start on the Michigan Tech Campus!!! Great news! Can't wait for Recycling, Composting, Sustainable facilities management heating, cooling, lighting, and everything else. Tech is way behind the curve now, but the new grant gives us hope."

* Author Jennifer Donovan is Director of News and Media Relations at Michigan Tech University.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Candidate forums for contested races to be held in Ontonagon, Hancock

ONTONAGON, HANCOCK -- Two candidate forums will be held soon in Ontonagon and Houghton counties to allow candidates from opposing parties in contested races to speak to the public. The Ontonagon County Republican and Democratic parties will sponsor a forum on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the Ontonagon High School Cafeteria, 701 Parker Ave. in Ontonagon. In Houghton County the League of Women Voters of the Copper Country and the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting a candidate forum on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Lakeview Manor Community Room, 1401 Quincy Street, Hancock.

Ontonagon County forum to include 1st District U.S. Congressional candidates and 110th District State Rep candidates

The candidate forum sponsored by the Ontonagon County Republican and Democratic parties will  begin at 6 p.m. ET with a "meet and greet," which will give voters the opportunity to meet forum candidates as well as candidates in Ontonagon County contested races.

The forum begins at 7 p.m. ET and will include 1st Congressional District candidates Lon Johnson (D) and Jack Bergman (R) and Michigan’s 110th District State Representative candidates Scott Dianda (D) Greg Markkanen (R). The forum moderator is Ontonagon District Court and Probate Judge, Janis Burgess.

"We are excited that the candidates are making time to meet with voters to share their views," said Roger Halquist, chair of the Ontonagon County Democratic Party.

The Chairman of the Ontonagon County Republican Party, Bob Niemela, remarked, "It's refreshing to see both our Ontonagon County Republican Party and the Ontonagon County Democratic Party work together to host this Candidates Forum, especially in such a heated campaign on a national level."

Bergman and Johnson are running for the seat being vacated by Dr. Dan Benishek of Iron River.  Republican Greg Markkanen is challenging incumbent 110th District State Representative Scott Dianda, who was first elected in 2012.

League of Women Voters welcomes questions for Sept. 29 candidate forum

The League of Women Voters of the Copper Country and the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Lakeview Manor Community Room, 1401 Quincy Street, Hancock. Candidates in the following contested races have been invited to the forum: 110th District State Rep race, Sheriff Race, Prosecutor Race, and contested County Commissioners. If you have questions for the candidates please submit them to All questions will be submitted to the League of Women Voters of the Copper Country. All questions will remain anonymous.