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Friday, August 21, 2020

MPSC to hold public hearing Aug. 24 on Enbridge's request for siting authority to replace, relocate Line 5 in tunnel under Straits of Mackinac

Michigan Public Service Commissioners are, from left, Daniel C. Scripps, Sally A. Talberg, and Tremaine L. Phillips. (File photo courtesy Michigan Public Service Commission)

LANSING -- The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) will hold an electronic public hearing on Aug. 24 to take input on Enbridge Energy LP’s request for siting authority of its plans to relocate a segment of the Line 5 pipeline to a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The hearing will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 24, and is open to the public. The meeting will take place virtually with public participation by telephone, consistent with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order 2020-154 permitting electronic meetings to preserve the public’s health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Event Details:

    What: Public hearing to receive comments
    When: 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Aug. 24, 2020
    Where: Virtually, using Microsoft Teams
    Who: Michigan Public Service Commission members and MPSC Staff
    Access Information: Participate online by accessing the Microsoft Teams hearing link (https://bit.ly/2P7RVJG) or by calling 248-509-0316 and entering 998 713 012, followed by # when prompted.
Those who wish to comment are strongly encouraged to pre-register by 3 p.m. (Eastern time) on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, by using the registration form at www.surveymonkey.com/r/MPSCLine5PublicHearing or by calling 800-292-9555. 

Comments also can be mailed to the Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, 7109 W. Saginaw Hwy., Lansing MI 48917, or emailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov. Please include the case number (U-20763) in your correspondence.

Members of the public who are speech or hearing impaired may participate by calling 711 and using the Michigan Relay service. More information about this service may be found here. Those who need any additional accommodations may contact the Commission’s Executive Secretary at 517-284-8090.

For more information about this public hearing, click here.

A transcript of the public hearing will be filed in the docket for Case No. U-20763. This hearing may also be recorded, and the recording may be posted at www.youtube.com/MichiganPublicServiceCommission

For more information about Enbridge Energy’s Act 16 application and how to participate, go to www.michigan.gov/mpscline5.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.

Editor's Note: For background on the reason for this public hearing see "MPSC denies Enbridge Energy's request for relief on Line 5 pipeline project, sets Aug. 24 full hearing process for proposal."

See also our May 8, 2020, article: "Michigan Public Service Commission seeks public comment on Enbridge Line 5 - tunnel request by May 13." 

You can also submit a comment to the MPSC opposing Enbridge's tunnel request via Oil and Water Don't Mix.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Copper Country Associated Artists host Eagle Harbor VIRTUAL Art Fair

Superior Symphony. Acrylic landscape, by Julie Highlen of Northwoods Art Studio. (Image © Julie Highlen and courtesy Copper Country Associated Artists)

CALUMET -- In May of this year, Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) was obliged to postpone the 60th Annual Eagle Harbor Art Fair because of the pandemic. While the 60th Annual event is now scheduled for August 2021, CCAA is now hosting an Eagle Harbor Virtual Art Fair Web page in order to continue the tradition of CCAA and support Art Fair vendors, CCAA and its members.

The Virtual Art Fair web page has two sections. The first section is the Eagle Harbor Art Fair Vendors. The second section of the page is CCAA Member Artists. Each artist has a small area with photos of their work; a bio and artist statement; and a link to the artist's website, Etsy page or Facebook page.

According to CCAA member Miriam Pickens, "The Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) has supported local and regional artists in many ways and for many years. It has evolved from a small group meeting in homes and churches, to a well-established co-op gallery in the heart of the Calumet Art District. This group has faced hurdles before; and because of their nimbleness, determination and creativity, they have always met these challenges with progress."*

The Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) gallery in Calumet, while supporting local artists, has been the scene of many art events open to the public, including free First Friday workshops. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Associated Artists)

Cynthia Coté, executive director of the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock, recalls the history and important legacy of the Copper Country Associated Artists as the oldest art organization in the Copper Country.

"The earliest formal meeting of the CCAA was in December 1958," Coté notes. "As stated in their history, 'The purpose was to promote local craftsmen and improve quality of their work by evaluation and discussion with others in the same field.'" **

To see the Virtual Art Fair, please visit https://ccaartists.org/eh-art-fair-virtual/

Please take a moment to check out this virtual Art Fair. Learn about the artists and see examples of their work. And if you see an art object that you like, support the CCAA by making a purchase.

Editor's Notes:

* This quote is taken from The Daily Mining Gazette Arts Corner column written by Miriam Pickens. Reprinted here with permission.

** Taken from Cynthia Coté's statement quoted by Miriam Pickens in her Gazette column. Reprinted here with permission.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Governor Whitmer announces $65 million in CARES Act Funding for Michigan schools

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer begins her press conference on Aug. 19, 2020. At left is a sign language interpreter. Gov. Whitmer gives an update on the state of COVID-19 in Michigan and announces new funding for schools. (Photo courtesy Michigan Office of the Governor and Michigan State Police Facebook page)

LANSING -- During a press conference today, Aug. 19, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she will allocate nearly $65 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to Michigan school districts, higher education institutions, and other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes schools in Michigan’s economically disadvantaged districts and will help address the digital divide that has served as a barrier to remote learning for students and educators across the state. The funding comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund.

The governor was joined by Chief Medical Executive and MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Sen. Winnie Brinks, Rep. Sheryl Kennedy, and Grand Rapids Superintendent Dr. Leadriane Roby.

"As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff. This funding will help us do just that, and ensure crucial support for our schools, whether it’s helping schools access PPE and cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most," said Governor Whitmer. "This is a good start, but we still need the federal government to work together on a bipartisan recovery package to support all Michigan students and educators, as well as state governments, families, and small businesses."

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Michigan’s students, educators, and support staff, especially those in low-income communities. GEER funds are meant for districts that are determined to be most significantly impacted by COVID-19. To ensure these districts are targeted, the framework distributes $60 million to school districts based on the number of students in high-need student groups. Districts will receive funding based on their numbers of economically disadvantaged students, special education students, and English language learners. To be eligible for funding, the school district’s concentration of economically disadvantaged pupils, compared to total district enrollment, must exceed 50 percent.

Recipient districts will be required to use GEER funds for any of the following goals:
  • Connectivity: Devices, internet access, access to remote services, or other similar purposes.
  • Student Mental Health: Funding would enhance access to remote and in-person student mental health services.
  • Addressing Learning Loss: Funding could be used by districts to offer supplementary content and intervention services to mitigate the impacts of learning loss.
  • Out-of-School-Time Learning: Funds could be used to support out-of-school-time learning. These expenditures would ensure students have safe spaces to participate in remote education.
  • Remote Learning Materials and Training (digital and non-digital): Funds could address both digital and non-digital content where remote learning continues as an instructional delivery model.
  • Teacher Training and Curriculum: Funding could be used to provide additional professional development and curriculum modifications that allow districts to effectively facilitate distance learning while expanding their knowledge of the science of teaching.
  • Other health, safety, and wellness needs identified, required, or recommended in the MI Return to School Roadmap. 
$5.4 million will be distributed to other education related entities, and will be distributed for statewide mental health services, public television learning resources, implementation of teacher professional learning practices, and the Early On program to help reach more infants and toddlers through remote early intervention.

To view video of the governor's press conference, click here.

To view the PowerPoint presentation the governor used, click here. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Farmers Market Grant to ensure safety for vendors and shoppers

Customers at the Downtown Houghton Farmers Market enjoy a variety of locally grown fresh produce. The Houghton Farmers Market is one of three local farmers markets to be awarded a mini grant from Portage Health Foundation. (Photo courtesy Portage Health Foundation)

HANCOCK -- Portage Health Foundation granted out more than $3,500 to local farmers markets in a targeted mini grant to help them stay safe and stay open.

"We are committed to supporting local food access and proud of our area farmers markets for maintaining these critical food access points throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michelle Seguin, MD, DABFM, Director of Community Health at the foundation.

The grant proposals were submitted by market managers and checks have already been submitted to the markets. Below is information on each of the three successful grants.

$1,617.32 to Downtown Houghton Farmers Market

The Downtown Houghton Farmers Market received $1,617.32 to improve communication and purchase personal protective equipment. That included new signage throughout the market, masks and hand sanitizer. The market is following best practices put out by the MSU Extension Office to support local farmers and help residents eat healthy. The market is open Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

$895.65 to Main Street Calumet Farmers Market

Following the state’s guidelines related to protecting vendors and visitors, the Main Street Calumet Farmers Market has been open since fresh vegetables have been available this year. The funding will help maintain high levels of safety for the remainder of the summer by helping the market purchase hand soap, paper towels, signage and more. This market fosters a sense of community, creates excitement in the downtown area and supports burgeoning entrepreneurs Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

$1,000 to Lake Linden Farmers Market

The Lake Linden Farmers Market has been offering customers a safe experience all summer following Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) resources, and with a $1,000 grant they’ll be able to keep that going. The funding will help replenish supplies of masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, while also allowing the market to purchase a new floor stand for their hand sanitizer and additional signage. The market is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Additional Farmers Market Support 

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) is supporting farmers markets in other ways as well.

Printed materials have been provided to all markets in the four-county region of Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. These materials include Keweenaw Grown Foods rack cards and recipe cards featuring "Farmers Market Finds."

In June, the foundation announced a grant to Main Street Calumet that included a new token system. This token system allows shoppers to use credit cards with any vendor and better utilize Bridge Card benefits.

In collaboration with the Portage Lake District Library, PHF unveiled a new digital cooking series called Biblio Bistro. The series features recipes that include items purchased at local Farmers Markets. Watch the episodes at pldl.org/biblio-bistro.

This mini grant is part of the Portage Health Foundation Food Initiative. To learn more about this initiative, learn how you can get involved or make a donation to support the initiative, visit phfgive.org/food.