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Friday, April 14, 2017

Tax March/Rally to be held in Marquette Apr. 15 in solidarity with DC Tax March

Poster courtesy Upper Peninsula Tax Day Facebook page.

MARQUETTE -- The 906 Dems, local labor unions, community leaders and elected officials will hold a march/rally for tax equality and justice from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, in Marquette. Participants are asked to muster at the Peter White Public Library at 11 a.m. (EDT). The march will proceed to the Commons in downtown Marquette for a rally including many guest speakers.

Guest speakers include the following: State Representatives John Kivela and Scott Dianda; Marquette County Commissioner Joe Derocha; Marquette City Commissioner Sara Cambensy; Dwight Brady, Northern Michigan University (NMU) professor; Connor Raak, president NMU Dems; Jason Chapman, Marquette Dems chair; Lucas Bradshaw, chair of Delta and 906 Dems; Katie Barglind, U.P. Regional Labor Federation regional coordinator; Ellen Lindblom, past vice president of the College Dems of America; Jenn Hill, U.P. Forward Action of Michigan and many more.

The 906 Dems, a group comprised of Democratic County leaders from across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will also host a "Warm Up Social" afterward from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. inside the Marquette Commons Facility. Further questions should be directed to Jason Chapman at or by calling or texting him at 906-458-1226.

The Tax Day March is being planned for Washington, DC, with many others across the nation. The Marquette march is the only one being held in the U.P.  This event is open to the public and people are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes, dress attire that is appropriate for the weather, and sun screen. Feel free to bring your own clever signs.

This march/rally is being planned in answer to Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.
President Trump is the first president or major-party presidential candidate in four decades to refuse to release his tax returns to the public. Marchers demand that the president release his returns, as he has repeatedly promised, but failed, to do.

According to the Tax March Web site, these are among the principles for the DC Tax March: "We march because it is in the best interest of the American people to know what financial entanglements and conflicts of interest our leaders have. Because we need to know if the president is personally profiting from the policies he is proposing. And because we want know if he has contributed his fair share of taxes. We march because we will not stand by while the rich and the powerful govern this country guided only by their personal best interests, and not the best interests of the American people as a whole."*

* Click here for more info on the national march in Washington, DC, and locations of the sister tax marches across the country.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

DEQ to hold public hearing Apr. 13 on Renewable Operating Permit for White Pine Copper Refinery

This photo shows the location of infrastructure and buildings that were used in the old White Pine mining operation. The smelter and process plant (mill) no longer exist. The refinery, at left, is presently owned by Traxys. A new water treatment plant would need to be constructed for potential new mining operations planned by Highland Copper Co. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division (AQD) will hold a Public Hearing Regarding White Pine Copper Refinery, Inc., in White Pine, Ontonagon County, (SRN:  N7396) for the draft renewal of a Renewable Operating Permit (ROP) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Apr. 13, in the Ontonagon Area School Cafeteria, 701 Parker Ave., Ontonagon. The ROP is for the operation of a copper refining process.
[CORRECTION: The address was previously listed incorrectly by the DEQ and our announcement as 701 Park Ave. We have corrected it to 701 Parker Ave. above.]

The White Pine Copper Refinery (WCPR) is located at 29784 Willow Road, White Pine, in Ontonagon, Mich., six miles south of Lake Superior. According to a staff report dated Jan. 23, 2017, "The AQD (DEQ Air Quality Division) proposes to approve this ROP. A final decision on the ROP will not be made until the public and affected states have had an opportunity to comment on the AQD’s proposed action and draft permit. In addition, the USEPA is allowed up to 45 days to review the draft ROP and related material. The AQD is not required to accept recommendations that are not based on applicable requirements. The delegated decision maker for the AQD is Janis Ransom, Acting Upper Peninsula District Supervisor. The final determination for ROP approval/disapproval will be based on the contents of the ROP Application, a judgment that the stationary source will be able to comply with applicable emission limits and other terms and conditions, and resolution of any objections by the USEPA."*

The staff report also summarizes the history of the facility thus: "The Copper Range Company began operating an underground copper mine in the 1950's in White Pine, Michigan. The WPCR was constructed in 1982. The refinery process used electrochemical dissolution of impure copper anodes in an acid electrolyte bath and electroplating of pure copper ions onto stainless steel cathodes. Auxiliary processes were operated to control the amount of copper ions in the refining electrolyte and to remove by-product impurities in the copper anodes. The mine was shut down by the Copper Range Company in 1996. In January of 1998, BHP Copper White Pine Refinery Inc. purchased all of the equipment associated with the mine's copper refining processes including the boilerhouse and electrical generators. In 2004, the White Pine Copper Refinery, Inc. transferred ownership/control of the Power Complex to White Pine Electric Power, LLC. In 2011, the Traxys Power Group purchased the White Pine Copper Refinery."*

In the past the White Pine Copper Refinery was used to remove impurities from copper that had been smelted. The White Pine smelter no longer exists. (See photo above.) However the refinery has been called "state of the art" by Highland Copper. According to Steve Casey, DEQ Water Resources Division district coordinator for the Upper Peninsula, the copper produced from the refinery was 99.999 percent copper.

Horst Schmidt, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) president, encourages the public to attend this hearing.

"With the possibility of a new mine on the west side of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Highland Copper's Copperwood Mine), it is important that citizens make their voices heard," Schmidt said. "The only reason the company is keeping the building and renewing its permit is the hope that Highland Copper Co. will buy it for their proposed mining activities on the west side of the state park, adding to possible mining activities in the vicinity of the old White Pine mine and around Gratiot Lake in the Keweenaw. The environmental degradation from mining in the last two centuries still is not cleaned up. We are threatened with the loss of cleanup funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by the current regime in Washington."**

Concerned citizens who wish to participate in carpooling to the hearing on Thursday (either needing a ride or offering to drive) are asked to email Horst Schmidt at 


Click here for the Jan. 23, 2017, staff report for more details.  Click here for the Jan. 23, 2017, Draft ROP.

** See our (updated) April 7, 2017, article on Highland Copper 's recent exploratory drilling in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, "State, county officials address citizens' concerns about erosion from Highland Copper mining exploration along CR 519 in Porkies." For background on Highland Copper's potential mining projects in the U.P., see our July 1, 2014, article, "Highland Copper finalizes purchase of Copperwood mining project, hopes to process ore at White Pine."

Tech Theatre and Keweenaw Symphony bring "West Side Story" to Rozsa April 13, 14, 15

With music by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, West Side Story will be performed at the Rozsa Center Apr. 13, 14 and 15. (Program cover photo courtesy Rozsa Center)

HOUGHTON -- The Rozsa Center, Michigan Tech Department of Visual and Performing Arts (Tech Theatre), and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra present West Side Story at 7:30 p.m. for three nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- April 13, 14 and 15 -- in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

West Side Story changed the very nature of American Musical Theatre. With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, the play was grounded in a distinctively modern sound with a passionately poetic statement: A place where everyone can grow beyond the confines of hate and poverty, a safe and beautiful place. A modern adaptation of a quintessential tale of star-crossed lovers, West Side Story isn't performed often for a very good reason.

According to Director Patricia Helsel, "It's simply a very difficult play to perform. The show requires many different dance styles ranging from jazz, to 50s 'hipster beat,' to Latino and ballet. The music is also challenging with complex rhythms and styles for the ensemble, matched with a call for operatic technique for the young lovers. Overall, this is not your typical, run-of-the-mill golden era musical comedy."

The subject matter is highly charged with racial tension, fear, hate, and LOVE -- some pretty intense emotion that is intricately woven in textures throughout the play, taking the audience on a meaningful journey. Comedy plays a matching role in the show, with memorable numbers like "Officer Krupke" and "America."

Tickets are on sale now: $19 for adults, $6 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or the night of the event, one hour before show time, at the McArdle Theatre Box Office.