The Keweenaw Report airs each weekday morning, noon and afternoon on 97.7 the Wolf, KBear 102.3, and AM 1400, WCCY.
New Houghton City Manager Announced - December 19, 2013
Houghton City Council has announced the name of the new city manager and it’s Eric Waara. He is currently a civil engineering project manager at U.P. Engineers & Architects. Waara says he is very excited and is looking forward to his first day on the job. Current Scott MacInnes will continue to supervise the new city manager until need be. MacInnes says he is very happy with the council’s decision. Waara is expected to accept the position. MacInnes will be officially stepping down in February 2014 but he may work with the city in some capacity due to the fact that he is still under contract through most of next year.
Recap of Hancock City Council Meeting - December 19, 2013
The Hancock City Council had a busy night as well. City Manager Glen Anderson says in regards to the purchase of Portage Health Hospital by LifePoint, the City Assessor has started working on looking at several aspects of the transaction including the purchase price and the square footage of the buildings to develop a valuation which will be used by the City to place the property on the tax roll. The valuation is expected to be done in February. Also, the City Council unanimously voted to be the applicant with MDOT to allow the Audobon Society to install two webcams on each bridge tower of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge so they can observe the nest boxes of the perregrine falcons. The boxes were places there by the DNR in 2012.
Update on Nassiri Domestic Assault Case - December 19, 2013
The Houghton City Prosecutor’s office has decided to move forward on amending the charges against 34 year old Nima Nassiri. He will be charged with second degree murder after his wife died from her injuries suffered during an alledged domestic assault. The arraignment has been scheduled for Friday morning. Nassiri was originally charged with assault to do great bodily harm less than murder for the alledged assault on his wife, 27 year old Senaz Nezami. Nassiri remains lodged at the Houghton County jail on a $5 million bond.
MI Unemployment Rate Falls Marginally - December 19, 2013
Michigan’s unemployment rate in November edged down by 0.2% to 8.8%. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, both total employment and the number of unemployed decreased over the month, pushing the state’s labor force downward. Spokesman Michael Williams says job growth has been strong over the past year, particularly in high-wage sectors such as manufacturing, engineering services, accounting services, and information technology. Michigan’s jobless rate in November was 0.2% below the state’s November 2012 rate of 9%. The national unemployment rate last month was 7%.
MI Schools Now Required to Carry EpiPens - December 19, 2013
Every public school in the state is now required to have EpiPens on hand. Governor Rick Snyder signed the new law requiring schools to have at least two epinephrine pens on site and have at least two staff members trained to use them. Charter schools are included in the requirement. The legislation also allow physicians to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense the devices. EpiPens provide emergency treatment for anaphylaxis brought on by food allergies. The severe reaction can be fatal within minutes through swelling that shuts off airways or through a drop in blood pressure.
Pure Michigan Winter Campaign Begins - December 19, 2013
Cold temperatures and fresh snow bring with them the start of the Pure Michigan winter advertising campaign. Television, radio and billboard ads will begin running December 30 in key markets in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Southern Ontario. The winter television and radio ads will run through the end of January and feature nine regional private sector partners with a total winter advertising budget of $2.1 million. The winter images will also be highlighted on Pure Michigan’s social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.
Ford Projecting Lower Profits for 2014 - December 19, 2013
Ford Motor Company announced Wednesday that their profit for 2014 would be lower than this year due to a number of factors including the launch of 22 new or re designed vehicles. The most important of those new products will be the Ford F-150 pickup truck that is the company’s best selling vehicle. Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said the pre-tax profit for this year is expected to be eight-point-five billion dollars but next year the profit will drop to between seven and eight-billion. Shares of Ford stock dropped by over a dollar in the wake of the news.
New Archbishop in the U.P. - December 18, 2013
Catholics in the Upper Peninsula will soon have a new bishop. Pope Francis has appointed Father John Doerfler as bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, who was introduced yesterday morning at a news conference. Father Doerfler is the vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay. He will be installed as bishop at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette on February 11th. He succeeds Archbishop Alexander Sample, who was installed as archbishop of Portland, Oregon on April 2nd after serving as bishop of Marquette for seven years.
Blue Terra Energy Offering Free Tune Ups - December 18, 2013
As part of a statewide efficiency program, Blue Terra Energy is conducting free tune-ups for furnaces or boilers. This service is usually priced at $100. It is only available for Semco Energy Gas Company customers in the western U.P. Tune-ups ensure heating systems are running cleanly and efficiently, saving residents money and eliminating health and safety risks. For more information, contact Blue Terra Energy.
Rep. Dianda Dislikes “Read-or-Flunk” Bill - December 18, 2013
Michigan Democratic Representative Scott Dianda is upset over a bill that passed through the House Committee and he is speaking out on it. The bill that would require schools to hold back third graders who hadn’t met state reading benchmarks. Dianda says in terms of reading levels, everything is fine in the U.P..
Dianda also added he doesn’t want to see the larger counties in the Lower Peninsula forcing the bill on students in the U.P. if they don’t need it.
Animal Cruelty Case Gets New Judge - December 18, 2013
A man charged with animal cruelty has a new judge for his case. 68 year old John Koski was scheduled for a hearing in Ontonagon County District Court Tuesday, and during the hearing Koski was assigned a new judge. Koski is facing a misdemeanor charge of abandoning cruelty to two or three animals involving donkeys on his farm. A preliminary date has not been scheduled yet.
Holiday Travel Seasons Draws Near - December 18, 2013
AAA Michigan says 2.9 million Michigan residents are expected to take trips during the holiday period this year, which is on par with the same period a year ago, based on a new survey. AAA Public Relations Director Nancy Cain says it’s a good sign for the economy even though it’s not an economic weekend spent at hotels and resorts.
The Auto Club says those Michiganders plan to travel 50 miles or more from home between Saturday, December 21st and Wednesday, January 1st mostly to see family and friends. 92% percent of Michiganders will travel by car, truck or van, and find gas prices 12 cents less per gallon than last year. 6% of Michigan travelers will go by air, slightly less that last year, and find fares slightly lower as well. The rest will travel by bus or train.
Mega Millions Jackpot Won - December 18, 2013
The historic Mega Millions jackpot that caused a rush to the local convenience stores has been won by two tickets. The tickets were purchased in California and Georgia. The jackpot was estimated at $636 million when the drawing was held on yesterday evening. Once sales figures are compiled by the 45 Mega Millions lotteries, the final jackpot amount will be announced.
New Charges Being Sought in Dollar Bay Domestic Assault Case - December 17, 2013
Houghton County authorities are considering raising charges on a man charged with domestic assault after his wife passed away from her injuries. 27-year-old Senaz Nezami of Dollar Bay died Thursday at Marquette General Hospital as a result of her injuries. Her husband, 34-year-old Nima Nassiri remains lodged at the Houghton County Jail on a $5 million bond. He was originally charged with assault to do great bodily harm less than murder. The couple had recently moved to Dollar Bay and Nezami had enrolled at MTU to attend the winter term.
Former Houghton HS Coach Pleads Guilty to CSC - December 17, 2013
A former Houghton High School hockey coach is facing jailtime after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct. Brad Aldrich was in Houghton County Circuit Court Monday morning and plead guilty to fourth degree criminal sexual conduct which carries a maximum of two years in prison and/or a $500 fine.. As part of the agreement, Houghton County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Makinen dismissed a count of third degree CSC which would have carried a maximum penalty of 15 years. Aldrich will await sentencing which is set to take place in about four weeks.
KBIC Election Results - December 17, 2013
A recount has confirmed that three members of the Keweenw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council were voted out of office in Saturday’s election. In the Baraga District, Fred Dakota and Elizabeth “Popcorn” Mayo were unseated by Gary Loonsfoot, Sr. and Donald Shalifoe, Sr. In the L’Anse District, incumbent Micheal LaFernier was reelected but former council member Eddy Edwards will replace incumbent Toni Minton. Violet Friisvall Ayres was reelected to the associate judge postion. The recount was automatically triggered because the vote was very close. You can see vote totals below. The results are unofficial until they are confirmed by the tribal council.
BARAGA DISTRICT TOTALS
Fred Dakota (Inc) 261
Elizabeth “Popcorn” Mayo (Inc) 249
Gary F. Loonsfoot, Sr. 277
Donald Shalifoe, Sr. 274
L’ANSE DISTRICT TOTALS
Michael F. LaFernier, Sr. (Inc) 259
Toni Minton (Inc) 239
George DeCota 256
Eddy Edwards 279
ASSOCIATE JUDGE TOTALS
Violet M. Friisvall Ayres (Inc) 328
John F. Davis 206
Television Premiere of “Red Metal” Tonight on PBS - December 17, 2013
The television premiere of the documentary Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913 will take place on PBS tonight at 8 o’clock. The film by Jonathan Silvers and Patrick Flynn commemorates the strike and the Italian Hall tragedy. It includes an interview with author Steve Lehto, who wrote the book “Death’s Door” and he says the Copper Strike rarely gets any mainstream acknowledgement. The movie will also feature a performance of Woody Guthrie’s classic song “1913 Massacre” by Steve Earle.
Report Says Kids in MI Suffer from Poverty - December 17, 2013
According to the 2013 Kids Count in Michigan report, more kids in Michigan are growing up in poverty and more are suffering from maltreatment. The data shows the child poverty rate increased 34% between 2005 and 2011, with nearly one in every four living in poverty in 2011. The most dramatic change was a 53% increase in the rate of young children who qualified for federal food assistance between 2005 and 2012. More than one in every three qualified for nutritional help because their family’s income was under 130% of the federal poverty level. Another troubling finding was a 41% increase in children living in families investigated for abuse or neglect between 2005 and 2012. The biggest improvements were a decline of kids in foster care, decreasing from 17,000 in 2005 to 10,300 in 2012, and a 20 percent increase in fourth-grade reading scores, a 1% increase in eight-grade math and an 8% hike in high school reading proficiency between 2008 and 2012.
MI Residents Will Lose Unemployment Benefits - December 17, 2013
A new report shows more than 43,000 Michiganders stand to lose their unemployment insurance later this month if Congress fails to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Michigan U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Representative Sander Levin released the report Monday that shows the county-by-county breakdown of the number of people who would immediately lose all of their unemployment insurance on December 28 if Congress doesn’t act. The report says in addition to the 43,000 that will lose coverage immediately, another 86,500 will lose coverage in the first six months of 2014. The information used in the report was provided by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Federal unemployment insurance took effect in 2008 and has been reauthorized several times.
Bath Salts Trial Ends With Guilty Verdict - December 16, 2013
A four-day Federal Bath Salts Trial in U.S. District Court has come to an end. The jury reached a verdict late Friday night, finding 56-year-old Scott Bernard Will guilty of all five felony charges. Those charges include distributing, possessing, and conspiring to distribute a synthetic drug commonly referred to as bath salts. Each offense carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and has the potential to be stacked instead of running concurrently. Sentencing for Will, who was arrested in Houghton back in April, has been scheduled for May 14th of next year.
Snowmobile Trail To Be Closed - December 16, 2013
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation officials today announced two snowmobile trail closures including one in Gogebic County. The South end of trail #11 trail, which connects the communities of Wakefield, Mich., and Winchester, Wis., will be closed for the season. A reroute is not available. The trail is being closed due to logging operations on private land. The DNR and the Gogebic Range Trail Authority will work together in hopes of reopening the trail for next snowmobile season. For this season, snowmobilers are encouraged to use Snowmobile Trail #1 between Marenisco, Mich., and Presque Isle, Wis., as an alternate route. Snowmobile Trail #11 North between Wakefield and Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park will not be affected by this closure. The other trail being closed is trail #2 in Dickinson County.
Animals Need Their “Papers” - December 16, 2013
State animal health officials are reminding pet owners and livestock producers that all animals, including pets, fish, exotic animals, and livestock coming into Michigan must be accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. These documents play a vital role in preserving the health of Michigan animals. A CVI is signed by an accredited veterinarian and is proof the animal has been inspected by a veterinarian. A copy of the CVI is delivered to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and kept on file. If Michigan is notified by another state of a disease concern, these “traveling papers” are critical to tracing exposed animals and people. Officials say that in 2012, more than 3.1 million animals, with traveling papers, were imported into Michigan, 145 disease cases connected to animal imports were investigated.
Drunk-Driving Prevention During the Holidays - December 16, 2013
Holiday parties are now dotting the Michigan landscape, and will do so through New Year’s Day, which means increased chances for drunk drivers and an annual campaign to prevent them. According to Michigan M-A-D-D Executive Director Tyler MacEachran, The “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” annual “Tie One On For Safety” Red Ribbon effort is now in it’s 27th year, but has made a difference. He says the campaign is proof that those who “tie-one-on” pledge to plan ahead and designate a sober driver during the holidays and stop others from drinking and driving. He says a recent survey found 73% of adults identified an intoxicated partygoer, and offered to either drive them home or provide other options that keep them from behind the wheel in that condition. MacEachran says attitudes are beginning to change, but those efforts need to continue after 20% of partygoers in that survey did nothing,and nearly 300 people were killed in drunk driving crashes between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve last year in Michigan.
Michigan to Become Federal Drone Test Site - December 16, 2013
An effort is underway to make Michigan one of six federally identified drone system test sites. The effort comes amid the expanded use of drone aircrafts for military use, and the expected growing use by private industries. The move is led by The Michigan Advanced Aerial System Consortium, a Michigan state-wide Unmanned Aerial Systems initiative that has united elected officials, government agencies, academia and industry. Legislators in Lansing have approved a resolution supporting the effort, saying that with the growing use of drones, comes a growing need for research and testing. The consortium says that Michigan’s unique natural assets, infrastructure, airspace, and strong network of partners and members make Michigan the ideal destination for one of the test sites.
Better Classmates Doesn’t Lead to Better Grades - December 16, 2013
A new study contradicts the popular theory that students perform better when surrounded by higher-achieving classmates. Michigan State University’s Scott Imberman and colleagues found that marginal students in a middle school gifted and talented program – despite learning alongside the “best and brightest” – performed no better on national tests than a similar group of students who didn’t qualify for the program. Gifted and talented programs have grown in popularity, with more than 3 million students now enrolled nationwide. But Imberman says his study represents part of a growing body of literature suggesting that just because you have stronger peers doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to perform better.
KBIC Elections This Saturday - December 13, 2013
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community voters will be heading to the polls tomorrow to elect Tribal Council members and an Associate Judge. Polls will be open from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. Voters in the Baraga District will cast ballots at the Ojibwa Senior Citizens Center while those in the L’Anse District will vote at the Zeba United Methodist Church. Candidates in the Baraga District include incumbents Fred Dakota and Elizabeth “Popcorn” Mayo and challengers Gary Loonsfoot, Sr., and Donald Shalifoe, Sr. Candidates in the L’Anse District include incumbents Michael LaFernier, Sr., and Toni Minton and challengers George DeCota and Eddy Edwards. The candidates for Associate Judge are incumbent Violet Friisvall Ayres and challenger John Davis.
CopperDog Kids Sled Rides - December 13, 2013
Tomorrow, kids from all over the Copper Country will be able to ride around in a sled as if they were part of a race. The Copper Dog 150 will hold free sled dog rides for kids at Agassiz Park in Calumet. Kids will sit in sleds as mushers guide the dogs around the park. Due to the interest that the kids had in the Copper Dog race, the organization decided to make an event just for the kids. Assistant race director Kim Pici says every year the popularity of the event grows.
The free rides will take place on Saturday from 1 to 3 pm with the line-up starting at 12:30pm. Food and refreshments will be provided, along with opportunities to take photos with the dogs.
Turning Mine Water into Energy - December 13, 2013
The mineshafts that made Calumet a powerhouse in the copper mining industry could now be possibly used for geothermal energy. A class at Michigan Tech has studied the social feasibility of tapping into mine water underneath Calumet and presented their findings last night at the CLK School Commons. MTU Assistant Professor Richelle Winkler says the findings show that this is a realistic project.
Winkler also adds that in the end, the decision to move forward is up to the people. The idea isn’t something new to the people of Calumet. The community is already using mine water for watering the grass at Agassiz Field.
Three Car Crash in Elm River - December 13, 2013
The Houghton County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate a crash in which a two people were injured on M-26 near Twin Lakes in Elm River Township. The incident happened around 8 am Thursday morning as a south bound vehicle driven by a 34 year old Atlantic Mine man came across a line of vehicles heading south waiting for a truck to make a left turn. The vehicle couldn’t stop and struck a north bound vehicle head on. The Atlantic mine man had to be pulled out of his car using the Hurontown Jaws of Life and was transported to Portage Health via Mercy Ambulance. A 14 year old passenger in the vehicle that was struck also was transported to Portage Health. A third vehicle was struck as well but nobody was injured in that vehicle. The weather conditions were a factor in the crash.
Arrest Made in B&E Case - Decemeber 13, 2013
An arrest has been made in a November breaking and entering case. Troopers from the State Police Wakefield Post investigated a B & E complaint a month ago in which many items were stolen including guns and ammunition. During the invesitgation, troopers were able to obtain a four count felony arrest warrant for 31-year-old Anthony Adams from Ramsay, MI who had been hiding in Wisconsin and Minnesota. With help from both of those police agencies as well as the FBI, Adams was arrested this past Monday by the Shakopee City Police Department. He was then transported to the Gogebic County jail where he will remain lodged on the charges of two counts of Felony Home Invasion, one count of Felony Possession of Firearms and one count of Felony Firearm.
New Members of the County Fair Board - December 13, 2013
The Houghton County Fair Board welcomed two new members at its annual meeting last night. Ethan Johnson and Arthur Lampinen were elected. Both have served as Superintendents for several years with Ethan in Horticulture and Arthur in Livestock. The 2014 Houghton County Fair will be held from August 21st to the 24th.
Dianda Seeking Snow Removal Equipment from State - December 13, 2013
State Representative Scott Dianda introduced legislation yesterday that would require the Michigan Department of Transportation to give local governments the first opportunities to bid on snow removal equipment. Currently, MDOT auctions off its equipment to the public through a site called MiBid, a bidding site similar to EBay. Dianda says that local road crews are being asked to more with less including some local goverments working with snow plows from the 70′s. The bill was brought to the House with 51 bipartisan co-sponsoring signatures, including the entire House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Ford Creating New Jobs - December 13, 2013
Ford Motor Company has announced it will add 5,000 new jobs in the U.S. in 2014 to support its growth amid strong demand for its vehicles. The automaker expects to create more than 5,000 new jobs, including 3,300 salaried positions, the largest hiring initiative since 2000. Many of those jobs will come as a result of Ford’s $1.1 billion investment to retool and expand its Kansas City assembly plant for production of the new Transit, which replaces Ford’s E-series full-size vans. The expansion means the addition of 2,000 jobs, 1,000 of which are new hires.
Interviews for Houghton City Manager Complete - December 12, 2013
The three finalists for the Houghton City Manager had their in-person interviews last night in front of the city council. The first was Barry Givens who was vice president of engineering design at Moyle Incorporated and also is serving on the Hancock City Council. He talked about what were the most important experiences he had that make him a good fit for the City Manager position.
Next was Eric Waara, a civil engineer and project manager with U.P. Engineering in Houghton. He said there’s a reason why he doesn’t remember the last time he got turned down for a grant.
And finally, Kate Lynnes who is a regulatory manager of a lab in Los Alamos, NM. She thinks it is important to continue to incorporate the students of Michigan Tech into the community.
The city council will deliberate on the three candidates and come to their final decision soon as to who will fill the position vacated by current city manager Scott MacInnes.
KEDA Announces New Executive Director - December 12, 2013
The Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance has announced the name of its new executive director. Jeff Ratcliffe will be taking over for current director Phil Musser in March of next year. Ratcliffe has been serving as the Executive Director of the Osteego County Economic Alliance in Gaylord, MI since 2001 and before that held the same position for the Luce County Economic Development Corporation in Newberry, MI from 1995 to 2001. KEDA President Jim Baker says the organization is excited to have a very experienced person continue the mission of KEDA. Ratcliffe will spend the next few months establishing working relationships with local companies, municipalities and key institutions.
Single-Car Crash Near Gladstone - December 12, 2013
The Michigan State Police at the Gladstone Post responded to a single vehicle accident yesterday on M-35 just north of Lake Bluff Drive near Gladstone. Police says around 10:30 am a southbound GMC Acadia driven by a 70-year-old Rapid River woman veered off the road and into the west side ditch. The vehicle flipped over and came to rest upside down with the driver still inside. Police arrived to help the woman out of her car because she had her seatbelt on and was unable to exit the car. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash and the driver did not suffer any serious injuries thanks to the seatbelt and airbags. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Among the assistance at the scene were Escanaba Public Safety and the Delta County Sheriff’s Department.
Latest Obamacare Statistics - December 12, 2013
The latest statistics released by the federal government show more than 52,700 Michigan residents completed applications on the website Healthcare.gov during October and November. However, just over 6,800 of those have enrolled in an actual healthcare plan. Nationally, just under two million people have gone through the application process with just under 365,000 signing up for coverage.
Michigan House Creates Student Safety Hotline - December 12, 2013
The Michigan House has approved a bill to create a student safety hotline. The lower-chamber voted yesterday to pass the “OK-2-SAY” bill that includes an education program aimed at preventing violence before it happens and encourages the sharing of confidential tips between students, parents, school officials and law enforcement agencies. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the bill creates an important early warning system to prevent tragedies in schools and communities. The bill now returns to the Senate for final concurrence before heading to Governor Rick Snyder for signature.
Houghton County Board Meeting Results - December 11, 2013
It was a mostly rubber-stamp meeting for the board of commissioners last night. In regards to the village of Ontonagon’s request to share building inspection services, the board decided to draft a contract first and then bring it back to the board to be voted on. Commissioner Scott Ala says there should be no concern about the county building inspector’s possible increased workload. A late addition to the agenda was the issue with the elimination of the beach monitoring program, which was designed to detect any bacteria in the waters and had been funded by the state but with all the budget cuts, the county could not afford to fund it internally. Also the Houghton County Deputy Sheriff’s Association contract was renewed for another year with a 2% raise. However, for new hires, the retirement plan will not be as lucrative as the one for current employees who will be grandfathered in.
National Flu Vaccine Week - December 11, 2013
This week is National Flu Vaccine Week and the Michigan Department of Community Health is reminding everyone to get a flu shot before the holiday gatherings. MDCH Chief Medical Executive Dr. Matthew Davis says it is important to get vaccinated because there is no way to predict what this flu season will hold, how severe it will be, or how long it will last. Last flu season, only 40.8% of Michigan’s residents were vaccinated against the flu. This was below the national flu vaccination coverage of 45%. Michigan lags behind the U.S. estimates for flu vaccine coverage in every age group and ranks 42nd in the nation. Last year’s flu season began early, was moderately severe, and lasted longer than recent flu seasons. Last year, there were seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths in Michigan. the highest number since reporting became mandatory in 2004.
Study Shows Economic Impact of MTU - December 11, 2013
A recent study shows that the economic impact that Michigan Tech has on Houghton cannot be overstated. The Economic Impact study released yesterday by the Presidents’ Council showed that Michigan Tech’s payroll alone pumped over $145 million dollars into the economy in 2012 with 97% of it spent in Michigan. MTU is the largest employer in the Keweenaw with nearly 1,400 employees.
New CEO Announced at General Motors - December 11, 2013
General Motors has announced that CEO Dan Akerson is speeding up his retirement date, and in a historic move, is appointing a woman to take his place. GM says Mary Barra will be Akerson’s successor. Currently Barra is GM’s senior vice president for product development, and she becomes the first female CEO of a major automaker. Akerson’s wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer, prompting his decision to move up his retirement plans by several months, according to the automaker. He officially steps down in mid-January. GM says that with 33 years of experience at GM, Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering, and senior staff positions.
Mackinac Bridge Traffic Down - December 11, 2013
Mackinac Bridge traffic during November was down by about 10,000 vehicles, compared to November of 2012. The Mackinac Bridge Authority says 248,000 vehicles crossed the bridge last month. Traffic overall was down 3.8% and fare revenue was down by 3.3%, compared to November of 2012.
Eight Deaths During the Holiday Travel Season - December 11, 2013
The Michigan State Police say that preliminary reports indicate eight people lost their lives in eight separate traffic crashes during the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In comparison, nine people died in traffic crashes during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Of the eight fatalities, two were known to have used restraints. Alcohol use was a factor in four of the crashes. The MSP notes that the numbers are preliminary and only reflect those fatalities reported to the MSP as of 10 a.m. Monday, December 2. The 2013 Thanksgiving holiday weekend ran from 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 27, through Sunday evening December 1.
Busy Agenda For County Board - December 10, 2013
It will be a busy night at the Houghton County Board of Commissioners meeting tonight. Among the business on the agenda is bidding on a new patrol car for the county police. The Village of Ontonagon is asking the county to share their building inspection services as the village is dissatisfied with the state-appointed building inspector because the process takes too long. And also, the Houghton County Deputy Sheriff’s Association contract will be renewed.
DNR Announces Grants Awarded to Local Communities - December 10, 2013
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced that 19 communities across the state will share over $760,000 in Recreation Passport grants designed to improve their local parks. Among the communities that will receive a grant are Schoolcraft and Stanton Townships in Houghton County. The money for this fund was derived from the sale of the Recreation Passport window stickers from 2010. For details on specific grant amounts and the communities’ planned projects, visit the DNR website.
Car Seat Use On the Decline - December 10, 2013
According to a survey conducted by Wayne State University’s Transportation Research Group, fewer parents are putting their kids in car seats and booster seats in Michigan. Car seat use was down a little over one percent from 2011 and booster seat use was down one-and-a-half percent from the same period. Just two years ago, 95% of children through three years of age were in safety seats. Now the number has dropped to under 94%. The decline occurred despite the fact that state law requires drivers and passengers 15 years old and younger in any seating position to be buckled up. And children must be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Report Says Michigan Unsatisfactory in Smoking Prevention - December 10, 2013
Michigan ranks near the bottom in the nation in terms of funding programs the keep kids from smoking and to help smokers quit, according to a new report released by a coalition of public health organizations. The annual report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association and other antismoking organizations, ranked Michigan 44th in the nation in funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs. According to the report, Michigan currently spends $1.5 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just over 1 percent of the $121.2 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gas Prices Up Slightly - December 10, 2013
According to AAA, Michigan motorists will find the average gas price rose 1.4 cents this week. Michigan’s current statewide average is $3.23 per gallon, a little over 21 cents less than this same time last year. The average price for self-serve fell just below a penny in Metro Detroit over the past week, with the average at $3.20 per gallon. The price is about 23 cents less than last year. The lowest average price among the market’s surveyed was found in Traverse City, at $3.19 per gallon. The higest price was in Benton Harbor at $3.27 per gallon.
12 Dogs Of Christmas Begins Today - December 9, 2013
During this holiday season, many people choose this time to look for pets for their family. The Copper Country Human Society wants people to know that there are many dogs and cats available for adoption. Of course, it is not an easy decision to make. Humane Society Board Member Sue Ingram says it takes a lot of responsibility to bring a pet into a home. Our stations will be featuring twelve of the dogs that are looking for homes in the next twelve days. For more information on if adopting a pet is right for your home, please visit the Humane Society center or their website.
DNR Reveals Fish Stocking Results - December 9, 2013
The Department of Natural Resources this past week announced the totals from its fall fish stocking efforts. The DNR’s Fisheries Division stocked eight different species totaling more than 1,050,000 fish that weighed more than 12.5 tons. DNR Fish Production Manager Gary Whelan says it was another outstanding fall stocking season that will provide enhanced fishing opportunities throughout Michigan. The number and type of fish stocked varies by hatchery as each facility’s ability to rear fish differs because of water supplies and temperature. These fish must then be delivered at a specific time and location for stocking to ensure their success. Whelan added that this past spring’s stocking effort put more than 19 million fish into the state’s waters. The DNR welcomes visitors to its state fish hatcheries and interpretative centers to witness first-hand the fish-rearing process and to learn about Michigan’s waters. Also the DNR has a holiday gift suggestion: Make a donation to the state’s Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund in honor of a friend or family member. For a donation of $20 or more, the DNR will send the recipient a certificate and a patch featuring one of Michigan’s nongame species. The fund was established in 1983. It has raised more than $9.5 million for projects that protect and restore endangered species and maintain populations of animals and plants.
MTU Announces Commencement Speaker - December 9, 2013
The Michigan Tech Midyear commencement speaker has been announced. Fortune 150 Executive and South Range native Scott Usitalo (YOU-sa-tell) will be speaking at the Midyear commencement this upcoming weekend. Usitalo is the president of the family care division of Kimberly-Clark, a company that produces paper-based care products including Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers. Usitalo will receive an honorary doctorate degreee during the commencement ceremonies.
Aspiring Family Doctors To Receive Loan Help - December 9, 2013
A move is underway in the Michigan legislature to offer more flexibility to aspiring family physicians by expanding the state’s loan repayment program, which is aimed at those who work in ‘high need’ areas. The goals are to keep up with the increasing cost of a degree in medicine and also address the growing shortage of family doctors, especially in certain areas of the state where family doctor shortages have become a significant problem. Julie Phillips, a family care doctor and a Michigan State University professor, says only about 10% of students focus on primary care, and as a result, not enough new family doctors are coming into the medical field. She believes the percentage of aspiring physicians wanting to be family doctors should be closer to 50%. The legislation amends the Michigan Essential Health Provider program, by increasing the amount of maximum loan repayment from $25,000 to $40,000, and also increase the lifetime maximum repayment amount under the program.
Alcoholic Energy Drinks Gaining Popularity - December 9, 2013
According to a University of Michigan researcher, the recent ban on energy drinks laced with alcohol has apparently not stopped young adults from consuming it, instead they are now mixing the two together themselves. Megan Patrick of the University of Michigan says mixing energy drinks with alcohol is riskier than just drinking alcohol alone. She was part of a study that examines the impact of this growing trend among young adults. Patrick says they found that college students tended to drink more heavily and become more intoxicated on days they used both energy drinks and alcohol, compared to days they only used alcohol. While the U.S. no longer permits manufacturers to premix high-caffeine products with alcohol are becoming increasingly popular. She says their findings suggest that the use of energy drinks and alcohol together may lead to heavier drinking and more serious alcohol-related problems.
New Code Regarding Building Maintanence - December 6, 2013
With the adoption of the new International Property Maintenance Code, there will be added pressure on landowners to keep up their residential and commercial buildings. The Houghton City Council approved the proposal this week and City Manager Scott MacInnes says everything will be outlined so that landowners know what is expected of them. The code has been adopted many municipalities across the state and allows the city to be consistent with other communities. MacInnes adds that there will be some leeway given for those who need more time.There will be no distinction between different properties as the code will be uniform for all buildings within the city.
Carnegie Museum Exhibit Shows Families of 1913 Tragedy - December 6, 2013
The Houghton Keweenaw County Genealogical Society will be holding a reception and book launch for the new exhibit “Family Ties” and the coinciding book called “Families Left Behind”. The event was originally scheduled for Thursday but has been postponed to Saturday at the Carnegie Museum from noon to four. The event will examine the lineage of the victims of the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster and show the memorials created for those victims. Genealogical Society President Avis West says although the stories are filled with grief, many of the families were able to persevere. West adds that the book will be available at the Museum and at bookstores soon.
Finnish Independence Celebration Tonight - December 6, 2013
Today is Independence Day in Finland and there will be a Finnish Independence Celebration tonight from 6 to 11 in Hancock at the Finnish-American Heritage Center. The event is free and open to the public. Also, it will honor the donors and volunteers from FinnFest 2013.
Ontonagon Celebrates Christmas - December 6, 2013
This weekend the annual Ontonagon Hometown Christmas Celebration will feature many activities starting with tonight’s Christmas dances, the first at 7 for middle school students and the second at 9 for the high schoolers. The U.P. Championship Snow Drags had been scheduled for this Saturday, but was rescheduled last week due to perceived lack of snow. The event will now take place January 4th. Also on Saturday are the fireworks at Marina Park. The celebration will culminate Sunday with the parade on Main Street. For a full list of the events for the entire weekend, visit our Community Calendar.
Christmas in Calumet This Weekend - December 6, 2013
Christmas in Calumet is also beginning this weekend and the kick-off will be tonight at 6 at the Calumet Theater for the Christmas Tree Lighting. Then for the next three Saturdays, Santa will visit Rowe Furniture from 11 am to 1 pm. There will also be free wagon rides and live music.
Obama and Snyder Approval Ratings Down - December 6, 2013
President Barack Obama’s approval rating in Michigan sagged to its lowest point in three years in the wake of this fall’s sequestration and glitches with the health care reform rollout, according to a new survey. Michigan State University’s fall 2013 State of the State Survey also shows that while Gov. Rick Snyder’s favorable rating picked up, consumer confidence was tepid. Obama’s approval rating of 38.3 percent was down from 45.2 percent in the spring survey. It’s the Democratic president’s lowest quarterly rating since fall 2010 when it was 32.7 percent, according to Charles Ballard, MSU professor of economics and director of the survey. Ballard says the government shutdown and the problems with the Affordable Care Act website appear to have had a negative effect on the president’s ratings. Gov. Rick Snyder’s approval rating jumped 6.4 percentage points in the fall, to 35.6 percent – his highest since summer 2012 when it was 36.8 percent. However, consumer confidence numbers were mostly flat or slightly down in the fall, suggesting Michigan residents weren’t particularly enthusiastic about their financial situation. Only 49.7 percent of residents rated their current financial situation as excellent or good, the lowest reading in a year.
KSO To Hold Civil War Concert - December 6, 2013
In honor of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address, the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra will be performing music inspired by these historical events that took place during the Civil War, including the first major symphony written by an African-American composer. The concert will take place Saturday night at 7:30 at the Rozsa Center. The KSO will also be joined by Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz as he narrates Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” to conclude the concert. Tickets are available through the Ticketing Operations office at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex.
New Corvette to be Unveiled at the Auto Show - December 5, 2013
The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. The automaker plans on building this version of the Corvette in late 2014. General Motors gained a lot of attention at last year’s show when they introduced the Corvette Stingray. The Z06 is specifically designed for drivers who like to go fast as the car will be equipped with a special powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics. The debut of the vehicle will take place during media preview days January 13th and 14th at Cobo Center in Detroit.
Grading of School Systems Modified - December 5, 2013
A Michigan House panel has approved a measure modifying the state’s current ‘color coded’ system of grading schools. Earlier this year, the Department of Education used the newly developed Michigan School Accountability Scorecards in school accountability reports. The system is color coded. But the House Education Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would repeal the department’s accreditation program and create a letter grading system for the state’s schools. Gary Naeyeart of the Great Lakes Education Project says the color coded system is very outdated. Supporters of the measure say the color coded system is confusing, while letter grades would make it easier to see how a school is performing. The bill now heads to the full house for consideration.
Motor Trend Truck of the Year Announced - December 5, 2013
Chrysler officials and the editors of “Motor Trend” magazine were on hand in Warren Wednesday as the 2014 Ram 1500 pickup was named “Truck of the Year.” This is the first time a manufacturer has won the title two years in a row. Magazine officials say the truck impressed them through a rigorous testing process, and they liked the long list of standard and optional equipment available. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (MAR-kee-OH-nee) announced that each worker at the Warren Plant where the vehicle is built will receive a $500 bonus.
State Removes Fees for Vets - December 5, 2013
The Michigan Senate has approved a bill that eliminates the initial license or registration fees for honorably discharged veterans. The goal is to help veterans as they transition into civilian life and take on new careers. State Senate Republican John Moolenaar of Midland, sponsor of the bill, notes that vets serve their country but then later often face challenges in finding their first job. The bill requires the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to waive the license or initial registration fee for honorably discharged veterans in certain fields. The change would apply to several occupations, including barbers, public accountants, real estate brokers and architects.
Local Companies Win State Competition - December 4, 2013
Two local companies that competed in North America’s largest business plan competition returned home winners. REL, Inc. in Calumet earned $50,000, placing third overall in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. LiteBrake Tech, LLC in Hancock won $25,000 in the Masco Advanced Materials category. Houghton-based Upland Nanotech, an early stage start-up that developed a fast-acting food pathogen detector, also impressed panel investors with its technology.
Keweenaw County Position Deadline - December 4, 2013
Today is the application deadline for the vacant Keweenaw County Building Inspector’s position. The Inspector’s duties include processing permits reviewing building plans and inspecting residential and commercial construction projects to ensure building code compliance. Applicants must meet requirements for registration with the state. Letters of interest are due by 4:00 this afternoon at the Keweenaw County Building in Eagle River. The application is available on the Keweenaw County web site.
Detroit Eligible for Bankruptcy - December 4, 2013
A federal judge has ruled that Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy protection. This is seen as a major step in the city’s effort to pay off enormous debt and bring city services up to snuff. The decision was issued Tuesday by Judge Steven Rhodes of the United States Bankruptcy Court. The judge, in a 140-page ruling, says Detroit no longer has the resources to provide residents with services and there is enough evidence to prove that the city is insolvent. Also, according to Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, pensions may be cut as part of the city’s reorganization. Governor Rick Snyder says the decision allows the city to stay on the path to a brighter future, adding that authorizing the emergency manager to seek federal bankruptcy protection was a difficult decision, but it was the last viable option to restore the city and provide Detroit’s 700,000 residents with the public services they need and deserve. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing calls it a tough day for the people of Detroit but it’s important for the city to start working together as they move forward. Detroit became the largest municipality in the country to file for bankruptcy earlier this year. The city is currently buried under nearly 19 billion dollars in debt. About 40% of the Detroit’s streetlights don’t work and around 78,000 abandoned buildings are scattered throughout the city.
Car Sales Are Up - December 4, 2013
Chrysler is reporting November vehicle sales jumped 16 percent over last year, GM was up by 14 percent and Ford is reporting a seven percent increase. Chrysler credited strong sales of its new 2014 Jeep Cherokee for beating analysts expectations. Introduction of the redesigned Cherokee helped to boost Jeep brand sales to a record of more than 4500 units. GM was bolstered by strong sales of the redesigned Chevrolet Impala, updated Chevy Malibu and remade full-size Chevy and GMC pickups. Ford passenger car sales were up by 6% and utilities up 3%. As predicted, trucks led the way with a 17% increase. Lincoln sales were also up 17%.
Interview with Portage Health CEO Jim Bogan - December 2, 2013
Todd VanDyke spoke live with Portage Health CEO Jim Bogan about the completed merger between the hospital and LifePoint. Their discussion includes some background, a current status update, and a look ahead. Click here to listen.
Wolf Hunt Update - December 2, 2013
The number of wolves killed in our region in Michigan’s first wolf hunt is now more than half of the season limit. The latest DNR figures show that 10 wolves have been reported taken in Wolf Management Unit B… which includes portions of Houghton, Baraga and Ontonagon Counties. The limit for region B is 19. The total number of wolves killed across the Upper Peninsula now stands at 17.
Snow Drags Event Postponed - December 2, 2013
The new snow drags event that was supposed to be part of this weekend’s Ontonagon Hometown Christmas Celebration has been postponed. MASTERS Racing Circuit President Skip Schulz says there’s not enough snow at the new track to hold the U-P Championship Snow Drags this Saturday. The event has been rescheduled for January 4th. The rest of the Ontonagon Hometown Christmas events will proceed as scheduled. You can see the full schedule on our web calendar.
Michigan Farmland Value Increasing - December 2, 2013
The value of Michigan farmland is up. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has released a report saying farmland value in Michigan increased by 17% over the past year. In fact, the value of farmland in the seventh distinct (also called the Chicago district), including Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, increased over the past year. But in Michigan, it was up by more than all the other states in the district, other than Indiana. Upper Peninsula farmland is located in the 9th district.
Cyber Monday Begins - December 2, 2013
Today is the holiday shopping day known as Cyber Monday… the biggest day of the year for online buying. If you’re shopping online for the holiday, the Michigan Treasury Department reminds you that you need to keep your receipts for your income tax return. Any purchase made in which the retailer does not collect sales tax is subject to a six percent “use tax.” Such purchases are typically made online but might also be made through the mail or by phone from out-of-state vendors. The “use tax” also applies to fuel and items purchased from Native American tribal businesses which are exempt from collecting sales tax by treaty.
Concerns About Healthcare Website - December 2, 2013
Michigan U.S. Representative Mike Rogers says he’s concerned about security on the HealthCare.gov website. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Sunday that the Affordable Care Act enrollment website was improved by a series of hardware upgrades and software fixes. But Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” even though the website may be running more smoothly, he’s more concerned with privacy and security issues. He says security on the HealthCare.gov website doesn’t even meet the minimal standards of the private sector and he’s concerned that Americans’ personal information could be exposed. The HealthCare.gov website has been hit with technical issues since it launched in October. The White House has vowed to solve the problems and says everyone who needs insurance under the healthcare law will get it.
International Bridge Tolls Increasing - December 2, 2013
Tolls will be going up next year on the International Bridge, which connects Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The increase, approved unanimously by the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority, covers both commercial and passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicle tolls will increase from the current three dollars per trip to $3.50 per trip next April 1st. And it will increase to four dollars on April 1, 2019. The authority says the increase was prompted by a review of its long-range financial plan detailing the operational and capital improvement project needs of the bridge for the next 30 years. They add that the bridge is completely financially self-sustaining, primarily through toll revenue, and receives no financial subsidy for operations from any other governmental source.
Portage Health Press Release on Finalization of LifePoint Merger - December 2, 2013
Hancock, Michigan (December 2, 2013) – The Portage Health Board of Directors and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT) have finalized their joint venture agreement to share ownership and operation of Portage Health. The joint venture will bring $60 million in capital improvements to Portage Health and approximately $40 million to fund a charitable foundation to support critical needs in the community.
“We are pleased to finalize this joint venture and become part of LifePoint,” said Steve Zutter, chairman of the Portage Health board. “As we considered Portage Health’s future, our board vetted a number of strategic partner options. This joint venture with LifePoint offered us a unique opportunity to share ownership of Portage Health and gain access to significant resources to grow and expand our services. We are excited for the future.”
As part of the final joint venture agreement, LifePoint and Portage Health will jointly own and operate Portage Health. LifePoint will own 80 percent of the joint venture and Portage Health will have a 20 percent ownership stake. Governance will be equally shared, and an eight-member board with equal representation from Portage Health and LifePoint will be established to ensure that the community has an active voice in Portage Health’s future.
“Portage Health plays an important role in healthcare in the Upper Peninsula, and LifePoint is delighted to be its partner,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “We look forward to working with Portage Health’s leadership, physicians, employees and volunteers as we continue to find new ways to enhance healthcare delivery in Hancock-Houghton and throughout the Copper Country region.”
Over the next decade, the joint venture will invest $60 million in capital improvements at Portage Health, including significant investments in technology and equipment and improved facilities. The proceeds from the transaction and retained assets from Portage Health, approximately $40 million, will be used to support the retained businesses of Portage Health and create a locally governed charitable foundation. Also, Portage Health will become a local taxpaying organization, which will bring additional revenue to Hancock and help support local projects.
“Our team is excited to partner with LifePoint to strengthen Portage Health for the future,” said Jim Bogan, Portage Health president and CEO. “As part of the LifePoint system, we have great opportunity to make Portage Health an even better place to come for care, practice medicine and work. Together, we can transform healthcare across the Upper Peninsula.”
The joint venture agreement was reviewed and approved by the Attorney General of Michigan, Bill Schuette.
Houghton Deputies Searching for South Range Burglars - December 1, 2013 – Todd VanDyke (from HCSD Release)
The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a home invasion and larceny of household items at two separate apartments in the Village of South Range. The two incidents occurred approximately one month apart and both occurred at the Range Town Apartments in South Range.
Police say, on two separate occasions the suspect/suspects gained entry into the apartments without force and stole numerous household items along with a large amount of cash. The apartments were unoccupied at the time of the theft, as the residents were out of town.
Items taken during the first of the two home invasions include a 60 inch Vizio brand flat screen TV; Samsung sound box with sub woofer; silver coins; numerous Craftsman tools which included ratchets, sockets, wrenches, Craftsman cordless drill, a reciprocating saw, Craftsman impact driver, two 19.2 volt batteries and a charger for Craftsman cordless tools; Superior National Bank blank checks; an RCA surround sound unit and a large three-tier red Craftsman rolling tool box. Police say these items had been purchased within the last couple of weeks.
Items taken in the home invasion that occurred in the later part of October were approximately $3500.00 in cash along with the small blue fire-proof safe in which the money was located; four silver Zippo lighters in a four box set and a silver Wolf bracelet with a diamond on it. Bank checks were also taken from this apartment from Superior National Bank and TCF Bank. Titles for a 2002 Kia vehicle and a 2007 Chrysler Town and Country van were taken, as well as a small tin metal black box.
Anyone with information regarding the above incidents is asked to call the Houghton County Sheriff Department at 906-482-0055, or dial 911.
Hancock Christmas Walk Returns Tonight - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Santa makes his first visit of the season to the Copper Country this evening. The annual Hancock Christmas Walk will begin at 6:00 at the Scott Building at the east edge of downtown. Santa will arrive on a fire truck… and lead marchers to City Hall. There, he’ll talk with kids until 8:00. While kids are waiting in line, they can decorate Christmas cookies. Parents are encouraged to bring a camera to take pictures. Each child will receive an engraved ornament.
Services Set for Crash Victim - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Funeral services have been scheduled for Tuesday for a 19-year-old South Range woman who died from injuries suffered in a car crash earlier this week. The Baraga County Sheriff’s Department says Brittany Nicholas lost control of her car on an icy patch of US-41 three miles south of L’Anse on Tuesday. She died from her injuries Wednesday evening at Marquette General Hospital. Visitation will take place Monday evening from 5:00 until 8:00 at the Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Hancock. The service will begin Tuesday at 10:00 at Grace Lutheran Church in South Range.
Test Sites for ORV Highway Usage Designated - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Four sites in the Western Upper Peninsula are among a dozen locations that have been set up to test out Michigan’s new law allowing ATVs to use state highways for short distances. The list does not include the Houghton-Hancock Bridge… which local officials would like to open up so riders can cross the Portage. The test sites in our region include a section of M-64 in Ontonagon… a stretch of M-28 near Bergland… a portion of U-S 2 near Stagecoach Road south of Lake Gogebic… and a piece of US-45 at Watersmeet. If the tests are successful, more routes may be approved in the future. ORV riders who use the connections must travel in single file at 25 miles per hour or less. The routes will be open from May first to November 30th. To see all the new connectors, click here.
State Negotiating for Indian Casino Money - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The State of Michigan wants more money from Indian casinos. The original 1993 agreement to allow gaming on reservations called for an eight percent payment to the state… along with two percent to local governments. Most tribes halted the eight percent payments several years later… saying the state violated the contract when it approved three non-Indian casinos in Detroit. The original 20-year agreement expires tomorrow. MLive reports that the state has asked the tribes to resume the eight percent payments… and increase them to as much as 12 percent in some cases… while still maintaining the two percent local payments. The state has also asked that Tribal casinos ban smoking. Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Chairman Aaron Payment calls the proposal “an insult.” Lac Vieux Desert Band Tribal Chairman James Williams Jr. calls it “garbage.” The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community agreed in 2000 to pay eight percent of its revenues to the state… as part of the agreement to move its Marquette casino to the former airport property in Negaunee. That move has still not been approved by Governor Snyder.
Firearm Deer Hunting Season Nears End - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan Firearm Deer Hunting Season ends tomorrow. Hunting hours on closing day run from 7:29 am to 5:49 pm. Final figures will take some time to compile… but all indications point to a much lower harvest in the Upper Peninsula this year.
The number of wolves killed in Michigan’s first wolf hunt stands at 13. Seven of those have been taken in the hunting region that includes portions of Houghton and Baraga Counties. No more than 43 wolves can be harvested in the three regions across the Upper Peninsula… and no more than 19 in our region.
Holiday Delays Unemployment Benefits - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Those collecting unemployment in Michigan may experience a delay in getting benefits because of the holiday. With state offices and most banking services shut down, state officials say there may be a two or three day lag before benefits are direct-deposited, or loaded on to debit cards. The State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency office will be closed today, but unemployed workers can still contact the agency’s automated MARVIN system to report their eligibility for unemployment benefits… either by using the automated phone number, or online.
Michigan Retailers Optimistic - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan Retailers’ Association says stores across our state are heading into the holiday shopping season with some optimism…
DNR Cautions Hunters About Out-of-State Game - November 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan D-N-R is reminding hunters who shoot deer in Wisconsin and Minnesota that you can’t bring the intact carcass back into Michigan. Those two states are among 20 states and Canadian provinces where chronic wasting disease has been detected. Hunters who shoot deer, elk or moose in those areas may only returned with deboned meat, antlers attached to a cleaned skull cap, or a finished taxidermy mount. If a lab in one of those states informs you that the deer, elk or moose you shot tested positive for chronic wasting disease, you must inform the D-N-R within two business days. Up to date regulations are posted on the D-N-R website.
South Range Woman Dies from Crash Injuries - November 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A South Range woman has died from injuries suffered in a two-car crash in Baraga County Tuesday. The Baraga County Sheriff’s Department says 19-year-old Brittany Nicholas lost control of her car on an icy spot on US-41 about three miles south of L’Anse… crossed the centerline… and struck a vehicle driven by 64-year-old Diane Risku of Watton. Risku was treated for minor injuries at Baraga County Memorial Hospital, and released. Nicholas was transferred to Marquette General Hospital for treatment. A spokesman for the Baraga County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed that she died last night.
Little Brothers Hosts Seniors - November 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Hundreds of seniors will be gathering at eight locations today to enjoy a free Thanksgiving dinner. Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly will continue its tradition of serving turkey and all the trimmings to elderly residents who would otherwise be alone on the holiday. Dinners will be served at 1:00 at St. Ignatius Church in Houghton… the Church of the Resurrection in Hancock… Sacred Heart Church in Calumet… the Copper City Community Building… Grace Lutheran Church in South Range… the Doelle Senior Center in Tapiola … St. Anne’s Church in Baraga… Holy Family Catholic Church in Ontonagon. Meals will also be delivered to home-bound seniors. Deliveries will begin at noon from Grace United Methodist Church in Houghton, and the Apostolic Lutheran Church in Laurium.
Bethel Church in L’Anse will hold its annual free community Thanksgiving Dinner from 11:00 until 2:00 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
Turkey Trot Today - November 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The second annual 5k Turkey Trot Run/Walk will begin at 9:00 this morning at the main Portage Health campus in Hancock. Angela Luskin from Portage Health said more than 300 people turned out for last year’s event… Luskin says it provides a bit of balance on a day when we sometimes overindulge… Walkers and runners will head from Portage Health toward the Maasto Hiihto trails, loop around by the Keweenaw Co-op, and finish back at Portage Health. Registration is free… and more than 300 had signed up by early this week. If you didn’t register online, you can do so beginning at 8:30 this morning in the Portage Health lobby.
Medicare Scam Reported - November 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Another day… another scam. State police troopers at the Calumet post tell us an elderly woman was contacted by a person who identified herself as “Mrs. Lewis.” “Mrs. Lewis” offered to sell the woman supplemental Medicare dental and vision insurance. She had the woman’s name, address… and even knew which bank she used. The caller then asked the woman for her checking account number… so she could set up the supplemental insurance. Troopers remind you never to give out such information, unless you have initiated the transaction. They also encourage you to call them if you are approached in such a manner.
Thanksgiving Fire Danger Warning - November 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Thanksgiving does have a down side. State Fire Marshal Richard Miller says this is the worst day of the year for home fires. In fact, three times as many home fires are reported on Thanksgiving as on any other day of the year. One of the big culprits is turkey fryers… which prepare turkeys by immersing them in hot oil. Miller says gas-fueled turkey fryers should only be used outdoors. The National Fire Protection Association recommends not using them at all. Many have no thermostats… so oil can overheat and catch fire. The hot oil and surfaces also cause numerous burn injuries each year. Officials say newer electric and infrared cookers are safer than the old, oil-filled fryers.
Miller also recommends caution in the kitchen… where overloaded stovetops can start fires while cooks are distracted by dinner guests. Clean your stove and oven before you start… have a fire extinguisher handy… make sure your smoke detectors are working… and call 9-1-1 if a fire breaks out.
Gov. Snyder Thanksgiving Message - November 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Governor Rick Snyder used his annual Thanksgiving message to call on you and me to increase our efforts to help those less fortunate. To see his video message, click here.
Holiday Spending May Be Down This Year - November 27, 2013
While a new poll says Michigan residents have growing faith in the economy, they don’t seem as excited about spending, this holiday season. 11% of the respondents plan to spend more than they did last year. 36% plan to spend less. 51% said they’d spend about the same as last year. The poll was conducted for the Lambert Edwards public relations firm by Denno Research. Regarding the state’s economy, 56% said they think it’s headed in the right direction. That’s a 9% increase over the 47% response in a July poll. Also, only 29% said they thought the economy was headed in the wrong direction, compared to 41% in July.
Driving Safe This Holiday Weekend - November 27, 2013
During this Thanksgiving weekend, the Michigan State Police is reminding motorists to make safety a priority during their holiday travel. MSP troopers will join their counterparts from across the country in the international traffic safety initiative, Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, or C.A.R.E. For short. MSP Director, Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue says as part of Operation C.A.R.E., troopers will take a “zero-tolerance” approach to drivers who are operating under the influence or driving in a reckless and unsafe manner. And they won’t just look for impaired drivers, they’ll also watch for motorists who are not buckled up. Last year, nine fatal traffic crashes resulted in nine deaths over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Of those who died, three were not wearing safety belts and alcohol use was a known factor in four of the crashes.
License Plate Renewal Bill Signed Into Law - November 27, 2013
No longer would you see rusted out and unreadable license plates from Michigan under a bill signed into law yesterday by Governor Rick Snyder. The measure requires drivers to get a new license plate every ten years at a cost of 5 dollars. It will take effect in 2015 and ban plates issued from 2005 and before from being renewed. Republican Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba sonsored the legislation. He says when license plates are allowed to get rusty police cannot identify a car as easily. The measure would also require the Secretary of State to study a potential move to digitally printed license plates.
Canine Brucellosis Found in U.P. - November 27, 2013
State officials are investigating a bacterial disease that affects dogs and can be transmitted to humans. The Michigan Agriculture Deaprtment reports three investigations into Canine Brucellosis in Michigan dogs in the past four months, including one in Mackinac county. Canine Brucellosis affects dogs, but is transmissible to humans through exposure to many bodily excrements such as saliva and eye or nasal fluids. People with brucellosis may experience “flu-like” symptoms, but they may also develop more serious, prolonged conditions. Signs in dogs include failure to become pregnant, abortions, stillbirths, eye problems and severe back pain. Brucellosis is a reportable disease and any person who suspects their dog is infected or may have come from a breeder with infected dogs should contact their veterinarian and have the dog tested.
Report Shows Holiday Toys to Avoid - November 27, 2013
Consumer advocates are out with a holiday season warning about some toys sold in Michigan that could be dangerous to children. The Public Interest Research Group released its 28th Annual Trouble in Toyland report Tuesday, pointing to several toys that could pose a choking hazard to children under age three or contain high levels of toxic chemicals. Eric Mosher, an advocate for the group, says they found everything from toys that are a little bit too loud to small ears to some magnets that could be swallowed and cause severe intestinal damage. Also, the group provides an interactive website with tips for safe toy shopping that consumers can access on their smart phones.
Preparing for Border Patrol - November 27, 2013
US Customs and Border Protection officials have a reminder for those crossing borders with Canada this holiday weekend. Be Prepared. Officials say there are a number of steps that can be taken to facilitate their arrival into the United States. Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth by having their crossing documents out and available for inspection and by being prepared to declare all items acquired outside the U.S. Officials say they’re anticipating “heavy holiday traffic” at Michigan border crossings. They add that in compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, need to present documentary proof of citizenship. These documents include a Passport, U.S. Passport Card, trusted traveler card, Permanent Resident Card or an Enhanced Drivers License. Children under the age of 16 can present an original or copy of their birth certificate.
Holiday Gas Prices Increase - November 26, 2013
According to AAA Michigan, the average price of a gallon of gas rose seven cents in Michigan during the past week. The statewide average is now $3.33 per gallon. That’s still about 25 cents per gallon less than this time last year. AAA spokesperson Nancy Keane says the price increases won’t last.
The lowest prices among markets surveyed was found in Marquette, at $3.25 per gallon. The highest average was in Benton Harbor, Saginaw, Bay City and Traverse City, where it was about $3.38 per gallon.
Michigan Lottery Could Soon Move Online - November 26, 2013
The Michigan Lottery could begin offering online ticket sales by the end of next year. Despite objections from the Michigan attorney general and some lawmakers, the state announced yesterday that it is moving forward on a plan to offer online gaming and has chosen two vendors to implement a new iLottery system. The service, which could include online, mobile and tablet applications for sales of instant and draw games, should be available to players by the fourth quarter of 2014. The decision comes five months after the Michigan Lottery suspended the idea of offering online gaming following the legislature’s rejection of Governor Rick Snyder’s request for funding to launch the online lottery. However, legislators did not block the Lottery Bureau from using existing money in its budget for the project. Some lawmakers and Attorney General Bill Schuette oppose an online lottery, arguing it would promote gambling problems and hurt brick-and-mortar businesses that sell tickets. But supporters of online gaming say it would increase revenue to schools. According to lottery estimates, online ticket sales could bring in about $480 million to education over the next eight years.
New Program from Blue Cross - November 26, 2013
Thanks to a new program launched yesterday by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan residents who are exploring their health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act now can send a text message to determine their eligibility for subsidies to help them pay part of their premiums. A company spokesperson says that uninsured individuals earning up to $45,960 a year and families of four with household income up to $94,200 may qualify for subsidies to offset their health insurance premiums. BCBS adds that determining subsidy eligibility and amount is a first step in choosing health coverage under the ACA. Beginning in 2014, under the ACA, all Americans are required to have health coverage or pay a tax penalty. The ACA sets out subsidies to help lower- and middle-income people pay their premiums. In an effort to guide and educate consumers as to whether they are eligible for financial assistance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has launched “Text for Subsidy,” a program to allow consumers to receive subsidy estimates via text message.
Renovations at Copper Peak - November 25, 2013
A major renovation at Copper Peak is promising to bring summer ski jumping to the Western Upper Peninsula. Since it opened in 1970, Copper Peak has been the only ski flying facility in the Western Hemisphere. It has not hosted a competition in the past 20 years. Original plans to upgrade the facility for winter activities included an exhibition late this winter. The new plan to include summer jumping will force the cancellation of that exhibition. Summer ski jumping uses a water-covered porcelain track and plastic grass to simulate an ice-covered ramp. It has become very popular in Europe. The full facility plan will include a USA Ski Jumping National Training Center, which will allow athletes to use the Peak nearly year-round.
Deer Tally Lower Than Last Year - November 25, 2013
The deer tally at the Mackinac Bridge is now a bit closer to the 2012 total proportionately, but the figure still lags well behind where it was a year ago. The Mackinac Bridge Authority says that as of Sunday afternoon, 3,291 Upper Peninsula deer had been driven across the bridge by Lower Peninsula hunters. It’s down 33% from the 4,895 deer that had been counted by this point in 2012. The Mackinac Bridge Authority updates its running total three times each day of firearm season.
Latest Wolf Hunt Results - November 25, 21013
The latest numbers on the wolf hunt show the grand total of wolves harvested is at eleven, with six coming from Wolf Management Unit B, which includes Baraga and Houghton counties. Four were killed in Unit A in Gogebic county. The other in Unit C. A total of only 43 wolves can be harvested during the hunting season. The wolf season will continue until December 30th or until the 43-wolf limit is reached.
Thanksgiving Dinners at Little Brothers - November 25, 2013
This Thanksgiving, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly will be hosting holiday dinners at 1 p.m. at nine locations including Houghton and Hancock. They are inviting seniors who have no family and also have the option to deliver hot meals to them if they can’t come to the holiday parties. Volunteers are needed for cooking, set-up, serving and clean-up, along with deliveries as well.
Michigan Republican Opposes Deal With Iran - November 25, 2013
House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers says the nuclear deal with Iran will only reward the country’s hard-line “elite” for bad behavior. The Michigan Republican appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where he criticized a multi-nation deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Under the deal, Iran agreed to halt the growth of its nuclear program and allow daily international inspections of its facilities. In exchange, the U.S. and its allies will ease tough economic sanctions against the country. The agreement does not force Iran to dismantle its nuclear facilities. Rogers said taking pressure off Iran is a dangerous proposition that will encourage more violence in the Middle East.
New Resolutions From the Houghton Council Meeting - November 22, 2013
The Houghton City Council had a busy meeting this week as well. Among the resolutions passed was an asset management plan for the sewer system that will analyze which of the older systems, which would be 20 years or older, need maintenance or replacement. Also, the council endorsed a hazardous mitigation plan which would be used during emergency responses.
MTU Students Reach Out To Charity - November 22, 2013
Michigan Tech students are reaching out to a charity that has a great cause but lacks the ability to raise awareness. 31 Backpacks is a local charity that provides food for local schoolchildren who would otherwise go hungry over the weekend. They wanted to get their message out there and that’s when Tech students from a web development class began creating a top of the line website for the charity. The site will be up at the end of the fall semester. Founder Laurel Maki says she is very grateful to the Tech students and the big winners in this project are the kids.
Report Sees Improvement in Job Market - November 22, 2013
According to Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends report, there will be a steadily improving job market for most college graduates this year, although those with a newly minted MBA may have a tougher time. Due largely to huge layoffs in the banking industry, hiring for workers with new MBAs declined about 25% over last year. Hiring for all degrees, however, is expected to increase 2%. This is led by a 26% jump for those with doctoral degrees and a 7% surge for those with bachelor’s degrees. MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute director Phil Gardner says the labor market for college graduates may continue to improve, adding that “several years of potential double-digit expansion may be in our immediate future.” The 2013-14 edition of the report – now in its 43rd year – comes from a survey of nearly 6,500 employers nationwide, making it the largest in the United States for the college labor market.
Opposition to Abortion Decreases - November 22, 2013
According to a recent statewide poll, a proposed law that would ban health insurance companies in Michigan from providing coverage for abortions, requiring residents to pay for the procedure out of pocket or buy additional coverage, was unpopular with 47% of likely Michigan voters which is down 3% from a similar poll taken in July. The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted by Denno Research from the 12th through the 14th of this month. Jeff Lambert of Lambert-Edwards, the firm that released the results, says that like past polls, more women than men oppose making abortion coverage a separate provision. If the legislature does not approve the proposal, it would go to a statewide vote. It remains to be seen if Michigan voters will see this on next November’s ballot, or if lawmakers will take action to approve it on their own.
Hancock City Council Opposes Medicinal Marijuana Bill - November 21, 2013
Hancock Mayor Lisa McKenzie ran her first city council meeting last night and she had a lot on the docket. Most of the projects dealing with plans to improve the infrastructure of Hancock were approved including the installation of five bollard lights on the East Hancock Stairway Project. Also, a lengthy discussion was had about Senate Bill 660, the legislation that would allow pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to be sold at pharmacies. Also, under certain guidelines, it would make marijuana a Schedule 2 drug, like Oxycontin or Percocet, rather than a Schedule 1 drug. However, the federal government must approve the switch or the bill will only exist in theory. This and other shaky verbage in the bill cause the council to re-think and eventually shoot down the bill. Counciler John Haissler says the bill restricts the rights of local municipalities to govern local medicinal marijuana manufacturers and pharmacies. He adds that the bill is poorly written and that the city manager will write a letter to the Michigan Senate explaining the council’s opposition.
Update on El Paso Family Found in Escanaba - November 21, 2013
New details are trickling in about the investigation into a missing Texas family who turned up in the U.P. over the weekend. Reports say Jenna Farrey was on probation and wasn’t supposed to leave El Paso, Texas when she and Jeffery Farrey split town. He is in the Army and stationed at Fort Bliss and went AWOL. Meanwhile, the search continues for the couple’s youngest son, five month old Jackson, who was not with the family when police found them at an Escanaba motel Sunday.
Water Levels Increasing - November 21, 2013
Great Lakes water levels are up sharply this year thanks to heavy rain and snow, but scientists say that doesn’t signal an end to low water levels that have plagued the system since the late 1990’s. Earlier this year Lakes Huron and Michigan were at their lowest point since record-keeping began in 1918. Those lakes, however, are nearly a foot higher now than they were last November. Still, experts think water levels will remain below average into next spring. Keith Kompoltowicz (kahm-POHL-toh-witz) of the US Army Corps of Engineers told the Detroit Free Press that the below average levels will continue to affect Great Lakes Shipping, shoreline property owners, marina owners and the recreational boater.
Seat Belt Use Rates Unchanged - November 21, 2013
Seat belt use in Michigan is holding steady. A survey by the Wayne State University Transportation Research Group says that for the second year in a row, 93% of Michigan drivers and front seat passengers are buckling up. According to the findings in the federally-funded study, there was only a marginal decrease of .6% from 2012 in the statewide seat belt use rate in Michigan. Other things remained consistent: males, younger occupants and those in pickup trucks continue to exhibit lower belt use rates.
Jobless Rate Isn’t Moving - November 21, 2013
Michigan’s jobless rate seems to be running in place. Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in both September and October was nine percent, matching the August 2013 rate, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.Total employment, the number of unemployed, and the state’s labor force were little changed over the August to October period. The Michigan jobless rate in October 2013 was one-tenth of a percentage point below the state’s October 2012 rate of 9.1 percent.
Keweenaw Park Looking for Assistance to Purchase Quincy Smelter - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
Hancock City Council will reconsider a request from the Keweenaw National Historical Park for $10,000 to help purchase the Quincy Smelter property tonight. The request was made at last month’s meeting by Scott See, the Executive Director of the KNHP Advisory Commission. It was coolly received by the Council with Councilor John Haeussler voting against the proposal and five others voting to delay the vote until tonight.
Latest Wolf Hunt Results - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
The latest numbers on the wolf hunt show that another wolf has been killed in Wolf Management Unit A, bringing the total for that area to two and the grand total to eight. A total of only 43 wolves can be harvested during the hunting season, which is only in effect in those three areas. The wolf season will continue until December 30th or until the 43-wolf limit is reached, whichever comes first.
Hancock Schools Lower Deficit - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Hancock Public Schools Board of Education found out this week that the district’s general fund deficit was down 38%. Public Accountant Bruce Rukkila of Rukkila Negro and Associates says the district gets a clean audit on their latest report and he commends the district’s ability to reduce its deficit. He also reported that although expenditures were down, revenues were the same as last year’s.
Police Looking For Stolen Firearms - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Michigan State Police Wakefield Post is asking the public for its help in recovering stolen firearms. If anyone has purchased firearms from a third party, specifically a Beretta .30-06 or a Browning .358 caliber, please contact the Wakefield Post or the Gogebic County Sheriff’s Department to check the serial numbers. No charges will be sought if an individual brings in the missing firearms. A reward is being offered for the return of the reported stolen firearms.
UPPCO Warns About Branches Around Live Wires - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
With power restoration efforts completed following the recent windstorms and with deer hunters in the woods, UPPCO is reminding everyone there may still be potentially unsafe situations existing involving electrical equipment, power lines and broken tree limbs. Safety remains an ongoing concern when hunters try to remove fallen tree branches or debris from areas near ‘live’ power lines. Broken limb removal must be done using extreme caution and is best left for tree service professionals if possible. UPPCO wants outdoor enthusiasts to avoid all accidental contacts with ‘live’ power lines. If hunters come across this unsafe scenario, they should contact UPPCO.
Moose Population Declining - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan’s moose population is growing at a slower rate than usual and warmer temperatures may to be blame. The Detroit News reports that the moose population in the Upper Peninsula has dropped by 2% each year since 2007. Scientists think a warmer climate has bolstered the white-tail deer population, which is significant because that animal carries a parasite that is lethal to moose.
Pure Michigan Contest Winner Announced - November 20, 2013 – Sam Ali
Pure Michigan announced Tuesday that Carla White of Alger County, is the winner of the Michigan Moments Photo Contest. White’s winning photograph features a sunset over Lake Superior, just west of Bay Furnace Park in the Upper Peninsula town of Christmas. The photo will be featured in the 2014 Pure Michigan Travel Guide this spring. The winning photo will be published in the 2014 spring/summer Pure Michigan Travel Guide.
Missing Baby in Escanaba - November 19, 2013 – Sam Ali
A missing persons case orginating in El Paso, TX remains unsolved as a family from that area was found in Escanaba. 22-year-old Jeffrey Farrey and 20-year-old Jenna Farrey were found in the Eagles Nest Motel in Escanaba after El Paso Texas Police were assisted by Upper Michigan authorities. 19-month-old Blake Farrey was found as well and placed into Child Protective Services. However, 5-month-old Jackson Farrey is still reported missing. If you have any information about the missing baby, please contact Escanaba Public Safety.
Water Shut Off in Adams Township - November 19, 2013 – Sam Ali
Adams Township will have a water shut off this morning at nine to repair a water leak. The shut off will only effect those west of Erickson Drive Atlantic. The township thanks all for their cooperation and apologizes for any inconvenience.
Raising Minimum Wage - November 19, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Mark Schauer is proposing that Michigan’s minimum wage be increased to $9.25 per hour, and to tie future increases to inflation. Under his proposal, the minimum wage increase would be phased-in over a three year period. Governor Rick Snyder meanwhile, says such an increase “would be a challenge.” While a recent survey did not ask about linking future increases to inflation, Lansing-based Republican pollster Tom Shields says there’s clear support for an increase to $10 an hour, adding that his poll showed “58 percent support for raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour.”
Gas Prices On The Rise - November 19, 2013 – Sam Ali
Motorists in Michigan are finding the average price for a gallon of gas increased 8 and a half cents this week, reversing a month-long decline. Triple-A Michigan reports that the state’s average is $3.26 per gallon, about 29 cents less than this same time last year. The lowest average price among markets surveyed was in Benton Harbor, at $3.23 per gallon. The highest price was in Marquette at $3.29.
Pflaum Named New Superintendent of Pictured Rocks - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will have a new superintendent in the future. Mike Pflaum has been named the superintendent of Pictured Rocks and will begin his assignment on January 26th. He is currently serving as the superintendent at Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet. He will succeed Jim Northrup who took a job as superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Deer Numbers Spike From Last Year - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
So far, the firearm deer season has gotten off to a strong start. According to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, the number of deer taken south to the Lower Peninsula through the Mackinac Bridge is up 36% from this same point last year. As of Saturday afternoon, 58 deer have been driven south across the bridge, compared to the 21 from last year. Updates to the deer count occur three times a day.
House Break-In In Ontonagon County - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan State Police from the Calumet Post are asking the public to be on the lookout for a four-wheel drive vehicle or ATV that may be involved in a break-in of a remote seasonal residence in Bohemia Township in Ontonagon County. According to police, the break-in happened within the last three months and many firearms were taken as well as fishing equipment and fireworks. If you have any information, contact the state police at the Calumet Post.
Weekend Wolf Hunt Results - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
Early numbers for the U.P. Wolf Hunt show that a total of five wolves have been killed over the weekend. Three came from Wolf Management Unit B, which includes Houghton and Baraga county. The other two each came from the other two units. The DNR website will update the wolf harvest numbers every day of the hunt at 6 a.m.The target total for the hunt is 43 so it will continue until December 31st or when the total is reached.
New Campaign for Northwoods Conservancy - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Northwoods Conservancy is opening a campaign that organizers hope will eliminate the debt on several pieces of property it has purchased for public use. The land includes the Conservancy’s Gratiot River, Seven Mile Point and Conglomerate Falls properties. The Conservancy owes around $600,000 on the land. Conservancy board member John Griffith says the debt was created when the state delayed and then reneged on some grants that were promised. They could have sold the property.
And so, the Conservancy took on a $5,000 monthly mortgage payment that has been mostly covered by several hundred people donating a small amount each month. At this rate, it will take 20 years to pay off that mortgage. So, the Conservancy has signed up for the CrowdRise Holiday Challenge. The goal is to get $50,000 people to donate $10,000 each. The Conservancy has set up a web page called SaveThisBeach.org which will link you to the CrowdRise page, or enable you to make a straight donation. The CrowdRise page will give you the opportunity to promote the fundraiser through your social media connections. If the Conservancy finishes among the top fundraisers, there’s an additional cash award. You can link to the SaveThisBeach.org website through the Community Page at our website. The challenge will go live today at noon.
Marquette Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
Upper Peninsula Catholic Church officials are investigating a charge of sexual abuse against a priest. Father Bernard Van der Schueren is accused of having inappropriate contact with a young boy back in July of 1989. Van der Schueren was a Belgian Jesuit priest who served for a short time at Saint Michael Parish in Marquette. He died four years ago, at the age of 86. The complaint lodged recently has been deemed “credible” by the Marquette Diocese. Diocesan leaders say they’re following church procedure in the investigation and that officials with the Flemish Jesuits are cooperating. Diocesan Director of Ministry Personnel Kevin Branson has apologized to anyone who may have been harmed by Van der Schueren. He encourages anyone who may have been molested by a priest to come forward.
F-150 Is Top Car Again - November 18, 2013 – Sam Ali
The U.S. auto industry is on pace for its best year since 2006 and the best-selling car for the year is a truck, again. Ford’s F-150 pickup is on track to be the best-selling vehicle for the 32nd year in a row. The newly redesigned Chevrolet Silverado pickup is the number two top seller. The Toyota Camry, is third, followed by the Honda Accord, Ram 1500 pickup, Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, Toyota Corolla, Honda CR-V sport utility, and Ford Escape crossover. The Ford Fusion, at number eleven, is the best-selling American passenger car. Car, and truck, sales will total about 16 million units this year. That’s 1.5 million more than last year.
Deer Hunting Season Begins - November 15, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Michigan Firearm Deer season begins today with prospects in the Western Upper Peninsula looking somewhat poorer than last year. Department of Natural Resources Deer and Elk Program Leader Brent Rudolph says this year’s late spring left many deer in poor condition and resulted in a decreased number of fawn sightings in our area. Because of that, some Deer Management Units did not issue antlerless permits this year to help the population recover. On the bright side, Rudolph says that food was plentiful over the summer. The bottom line is that most hunters will see fewer fawns and yearlings but could still encounter a good population of older bucks. Hunting is open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Today, that’s 7:12 am to 5:58 pm.
Also, hunters are encouraged to check in their kills at a DNR station. Rudolph says the information gained from hunter check-ins helps monitor the size and health of the deer herd. Check-in locations in our area include the Baraga DNR Service Center on US-41, the Crystal Falls Field Office and the Marquette Service Center. Hunters who bring in their kills for inspection will receive a patch.
Wolf Hunt Begins Today - November 15, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan’s first-ever wolf hunt also begins today. No more than 43 wolves will be taken in three limited areas in the Upper Peninsula. In our area, up to 19 wolves can be shot in Region B which includes parts of southern Houghton, eastern Ontonagon, eastern Gogebic, and western Baraga Counties. 16 wolves can be taken in Western Gogebic County and eight wolves in western Mackinac and southeastern Luce Counties. Opposition to the wolf hunt continues. Michigan Director of the Humane Society of the United States Jill Fritz says there is a lot wrong with this event.
The wolf hunt will run until December 31st or until the limit in each Region is reached. Hunters are required to report their kills by phone the same day they occur and check the DNR website to see if hunting is still open in their Region.
KBIC Gas Station in Marquette Opening Soon - November 15, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is a step closer to opening a discount gasoline station and convenience store in Marquette. This week, the Marquette Township Planning Commission approved the site plan and special use review for the three-acre property located on the south side of US-41 between Gander Mountain and 41 Lumber. The plan has been criticized by local service station owners who fear the Tribe will undercut their prices because it’s not required to collect Michigan sales tax. Marquette Township Planner and Zoning Administrator Jason McCarthy says that issue isn’t relevant to their process.
The proposed station and store still needs to receive a number of other permits before construction can begin.
Future Increase in SEMCO Bills - November 15, 2013 – Sam Ali
SEMCO Natural Gas Customers will see a slight increase in their bills beginning in January. The Michigan Public Service Commission has authorized the company to increase the charge for its energy optimization plan for 2014 and 2015. The average customer will pay an additional 41 cents per month. The energy optimization money is used to help customers make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.
MTU Partners With Indian University - November 15, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan Tech has agreed to a partnership with a private Indian university to allow their faculty to persue their PhDs at Tech. Vidya Partishthan, located in Baramati, India, wants to become an independent university but under Indian law, a certain percentage of the faculty must have terminal degrees. This agreement creates a PhD program in mechanical engineering for the faculty. They will complete the first two years of their PhD program in India, where they can take Michigan Tech courses online and graduate courses from any of the Indian Institutes of Technology. Then they will travel to the US and spend the final two years of their program conducting research with Michigan Tech faculty advisors. The agreement also creates a master of science program for students.
Benishek Opposes Obama’s “Fix” - November 15, 2013 – Sam Ali
Congressman Dan Benishek has announced his opposition to President Barack Obama’s administrative fix for those who might having their current health care policies cancelled. Benishek says the president is beginning to realize that his healthcare bill is adversely effecting millions Americans, including 250,000 here in Michigan, who were told by the president that if they like their current policy then they can keep it. Benishek is co-sponsoring a new bipartisan bill, the Keep Your Health Plan Act, and he says if the president wants to keep his promise, he should support this bill as well.
Re-Zoning Proposal Passed in Houghton - November 14, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Houghton City Council has decided to pass the proposed rezoning of the former Good Will Farm property. Developer Jonathan Julien wants to build apartments on the site. This had been an ongoing issue for the past few months and the city council has chosen to close the matter. Also, the number of viable candidates for the city manager position has been narrowed down to three. Current city manager Scott MacInnes says the council will first conduct phone interviews with the candidates and if those go well, the candidates will be brought in for an in-person interview in front of the council in a few weeks.
Two-Car Crash in Franklin Township - November 14, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Houghton County Sheriff’s Office investigated a two car crash yesterday morning that happened on Coal Dock Road in Franklin Township. According to police, a 62-year-old male from Dollar Bay was trying to disconnect the trailer he was pulling when he ended up in a ditch. Then a 37-year-old woman from Hancock lost control of her car on the icy roadway and struck the vehicle in the ditch, injuring the man. He was transported to Portage Health ER by Mercy Ambulance. Assisting on the scene was the Dollar Bay First Responders and the Franklin Township Fire Department.
One Dead After Wakefield Accident - November 14, 2013 – Sam Ali
A 49-year-old woman is struck and killed by a vehicle in Gogebic county. The sheriff’s office says the incident happened just before 9 o’clock last night at the intersection of US 2 and Mikado Road in Wakefield Township. The 18-year-old female driver contacted the police right after the accident, which remains under investigation as they try to determine exactly what happened. Also assisting on the scene was the Michigan State Police Wakefield Post and Beacon Ambulance.
Houghton to Hold Another Re-zoning Meeting - November 13, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Houghton City Council will hold another public hearing on the proposed rezoning of the former Good Will Farm property. Developer Jonathan Julien wants to build apartments on the site. Julien will also need a variance to allow fewer parking spaces than would normally be required for the 138-bedroom complex he’s planning. The Council turned down the request in September but Julien asked for a second hearing. At an October hearing , questions were raised about the Council’s ability to change its mind. City Attorney Dave Mechlin reviewed the process and told Council it could proceed.
NPS Meets With Public About Isle Royale - November 13, 2013 – Sam Ali
Isle Royal National Park Service has the public opinion now in the case of the dwindling population of wolves in the park. The NPS held two public meetings yesterday in downtown Houghton. One to discuss the wolves and the other to discuss the cultural resources of the park. Interpretation and Cultural Resources Chief Liz Valencia says the public’s view on the issues is crucial to reaching a solution. Valencia adds that among the problems effecting the wolf population are climate change and inbreeding.
New Mayor in Hancock - November 13, 2013 – Sam Ali
Hancock is heading for some big changes in city council. After five years of serving as mayor of Hancock, William Laitila has stepped down. Laitila has been credited with spearheading many projects during his tenure including the reconstruction of the city’s 100-year-old sewer and water system. Laitila says he wants to travel more and didn’t want his absence to be detrimental to the city. Lisa McKenzie has been chosen as the new mayor of the city.
Norway Man Dies From Fall - November 13, 2013 – Sam Ali
A Norway, Michigan man is dead after falling 70 feet from the top of Miners Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore east of Munising. Franklin Carver Sade was camping with a friend near the top of Miner Falls. He was reportedly looking for campfire wood early Monday morning when he fell. Investigators say alcohol may have been a factor in what’s being called an accident.
Cougar Population Likely Won’t Increase - November 13, 2013 – Sam Ali
The cougar population in the Upper Peninsula is not expected to grow by leaps and bounds anytime soon. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Brian Roell says, while the U.P. has the right habitat and food source, it isn’t large enough to encourage rapid growth. In fact, Roell says most cougars that find their way to the U.P. are young males that migrate from South Dakota – pushed out by older, territorial male cougars. According to The Daily News, there have been 22 confirmed sightings of cougars or cougar tracks in the U.P. since 2008.
Stalled Train In Sidnaw - November 12, 2013 – Sam Ali
A stalled train is blocking M-28 at the crossing at the west edge of Sidnaw. State police troopers say repair crews hope to be on the scene to begin moving the train by around 11 a.m. A detour is in place, so you will be able to around the blocked tracks.
Anti-Drunk Driving Campaign Begins - November 12, 2013 – Sam Ali
Armed with a new national survey, “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” is kicking off their 27th annual “Tie One On For Safety” Red Ribbon anti-drunk driving holiday campaign, which runs now through New Year’s Day. The survey found 73% of adults say they have seen someone try to drive home after drinking at an event. However, Michigan MADD Executive Director Tyler MacEachran says attitudes are beginning to change, with many now attempting to stop them. MacEachran says there were still some who did nothing and that’s where their “Red Ribbon” campaign comes in. When a ribbon is displayed it pledges the wearer or driver will plan ahead and designate a sober driver during the holidays and stop others drinking and driving. He says there were nearly 37,000 drunk driving arrests and nearly 300 people killed in drunk driving crashes between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve last year in Michigan.
Farmers Looking to Put Apples to “Sleep” - November 12, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan’s apple growers are hoping to wake up their profits-by getting their fruit to go to sleep. Farmers have been touting this year’s crop as one of the best in recent memory but if farmers flood stores with fruit, it’ll send prices, and their profits, plummeting. To maximize storage, growers, packers and processors are using a number of scientific techniques in order to keep the fruit to “sleep” so it’ll stay fresh and flavorful for months to come.
U.P. Gone on White House Map - November 12, 2013 – Sam Ali
Where is the U.P.? That’s a question many people were asking when they visited a page on the White House website. A map was displayed showing which states were expanding Medicaid coverage under the new Affordable Care Act. However, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was nowhere to be found. Michigan Representative Dan Benishek says it is strange given that President Obama has visited the U.P. in recent years. Thankfully, the website has corrected the mistake and the map now includes both peninsulas.
Bourdain Visits Detroit - November 12, 2013 – Sam Ali
Well-known chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain likened parts of Detroit to a post-apocalyptic scene from a science fiction movie, as he visited restaurants dotted across the metro area for his CNN show “Parts Unknown.” Bourdain hit both fancy restaurants and dives, including “Greedy Greg’s,” which has six items on its menu written in black marker. He also predicted a comeback for the Motor City. According to Bourdain, he believes that a city this magnificent and storied cannot and will not ever disappear into the weeds.
CCISD meets with local politicians - November 11, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Copper Country Intermediate School district want local polticians to know the issues that are effecting them everyday. On Friday, State Representative Scott Dianda and Senator Tom Casperson were invited to a luncheon to cover a wide range of topics from recent legislation to core standards in curriculum. One of the main talking points was about the possiblity of consolidating school districts in the state, a proposal to which both Dianda and Casperson strongly disagreed. Dianda said it’s easy for the metro-Detroit area because they have a large population in one area and it wouldn’t work in the U.P. due to transportation costs.
Ram Trucks Being Recalled - November 11, 2013 – Sam Ali
Chrysler is recalling more than a million Ram pickup trucks for a chassis defect that could cause a loss of steering. The recall covers Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks from 2003 to 2012, most of which were sold in the United States. A small number of some other models are also affected by the recall. Replacement parts may not be available until late 2014. In the meantime, Chrysler said dealers will inspect the affected vehicles and realign the steering components if necessary.
Sobriety Pilot Project May Be Here To Stay - November 11, 2013 – Sam Ali
State lawmakers are moving forward on an effort to permanently implementing the Sobriety Court Interlock Pilot Project. This program encourages — but not requires — repeat drunken drivers to participate in the program, which uses an in-car breath test that keeps any car from starting if the potential driver is asked to blow into it and it registers over the legal limit. Supporters of the program, which has been a pilot project for some time, say it’s been working well. Eaton County District Judge Harvey Hoffman is a big supporter, saying it makes roads safer but also allows someone who submits to the program to get a restricted license to drive. He notes that the interlock makes it “very difficult” for a person to drink and drive. The bill was approved by a House committee last week.
D.A. Glass Opening Soon - November 8, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance has announced that equipment is on the way for the new D.A. Glass company set to open up in the former C-Tech building at the Airport Industrial Park. D.A. Glass President and CEO Steve Williams says support for the project has been overwhelming. The company is expected to employ over 200 local workers, purchase local goods and services and inject millions of dollars into the local economy. Williams and KEDA Executive Director Phil Musser will be guests on this Sunday’s edition of Copper Country Today.
EPA Completes Cleanup - November 8, 2013 – Sam Ali
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the completion of the cleanup at a toxic waste site in the U.P. The Quincy Smelter portion of the Torch Lake Superfund site, which was among the nation’s greatest pollution threats, had dumped 200 million tons of mine tailings from 1868 to 1968. The site, which has been on the Superfund list since 1986, is now removed from the national priorities list.
Houghton County Fair Midway to be Replaced - November 8, 2013 – Sam Ali
The midway at the Houghton County Fair next summer will be provided by Spectrum Entertainment, from Bessemer. Spectrum will replace longtime midway provider T-J Schmidt Amusements which has booked a conflicting event closer to its home base in the lower peninsula. The Houghton County Fair Board says nearly $24,000 people attended the 2013 fair. The premiums paid out to 281 exhibitors totaled nearly $10,000. Prize money for contests including Motocross, the Miss Houghton County Fair Queen Pageant, the Demolition and Off Road Derbies, and the Logging Contest amounted to more than 7,000 dollars, paid to 80 local competitors. The 2014 Houghton County Fair will be held August 21st to the 24th.
UPPCO to Shut Off Power in L’Anse - November 8, 2013 – Sam Ali
L’Anse electrical customers will lose power this morning around 9 a.m. UPPCO will be replacing a transformer in a circuit that leads into the village. There’s no estimate as to how long the power will be out.
Calumet Woman Sentenced to Up to 14 Years - November 8, 2013 – Sam Ali
A Calumet woman will be spending up to 14 years in prison on multiple uttering and publishing charges. 32-year-old Christina Stark was sentenced in Houghton County Circuit Court and she will serve 18 months to 14 years on four counts of uttering and publishing. Stark was also sentenced to a minimum of 18 months to a maximum of 48 months for one count of the illegal sale or use of a financial transaction device. Both sentences will run concurrently. Stark was given credit for 219 days in jail.
Barn Fire in Stanton Township - November 7, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department responded to a large structure fire last night on the Houghton Canal Road in Stanton Township. The fire destroyed a large wooden hay barn on the John Dunstan farm. No people or farm animals were injured during the fire. The cause of the fire is still unknown. Among the township fire departments who responded were the Stanton, Adams, Quincy-Franklin-Hancock and Hurontown along with Mercy Ambulance.
Battle Against Wolf Hunt - November 7, 2013 – Sam Ali
The U.P. Wolf Hunt is set to begin in less than ten days, but one coalition is urging Governor Snyder to put an end to it before it even starts. Keep Michigan Wolves Protected wants the Governor to restore accountability to voters and let them decide whether or not there should be a hunt during the 2014 election season. The conservation group has been voicing concerns over the issue since Public Act 520 was first signed into law in December of 2012. The statute designated wolves as a game species and gave the Natural Resources Commission the authority to establish an open season on the once endangered species.
Decision On Isle Royale Wolves Coming Soon - November 7, 2013 – Sam Ali
The National Park Service is looking to find out what should be done about the dwindling wolf population on Isle Royale. A public meeting will be held on Tuesday November 12th at the Franklin Inn in Houghton to gauge public opinion on the matter. Among the detriments to the wolf population are climate change and genetic inbreeding that causes physical deformities at birth. Park Service officials have said they have three basic options: doing nothing; waiting for the wolves to die off and then reintroduce new wolves; or introduce new wolves soon while some wolves still are present.
Small Turtles Causing Salmonella Outbreak - November 7, 2013 – Sam Ali
Health officials in Michigan say the handling of small pet turtles is to blame for a recent series of salmonella outbreaks. At least five people, most of them children, were sickened in Michigan. In nearly one-third of the cases, the turtles were purchased from street vendors. Officials have traced some of the creatures to farms in Florida and Louisiana. The cases are under investigation. Officials say many people don’t know that turtles and other pet reptiles, such as snakes and lizards – and amphibians, such as frogs and toads, can carry Salmonella bacteria and be a source of human infection. Although the sale of small turtles as pets is banned, some shops continue to carry them; and small turtles continue to cause human Salmonella infections, especially in young children.
MTU Opens Patent Resource Center - November 7, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library has opened a new Patent and Trademark Resource Center. The center, which will be funded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be free to the public, even if you’re not a student at Michigan Tech. PTRC representative Sarah Lucchesi says they hope it will be a good economic investment for the community. And before paying any fees, the center will allow the researching of inventions beforehand.
Relay for Life Once Again A Success - November 6, 2013 – Sam Ali
The final figures are in from this summer’s Relay for Life and the Copper Country once again produced the best results in the Upper Peninsula. Carl Fulsher from the American Cancer Society says 212 people registered, representing 27 teams. 140 cancer survivors took part and the Relay raised just over $91,000. Fulsher also announced that this year’s Relay for Life was his last one in our area. After nine years as the Cancer Society staff partner for the Copper Country Relay, he has been reassigned and will work with Relays in the central U.P. Stephanie Swartzendruber from Calumet will replace him as the liaison between the local organizers and the American Cancer Society.
Eagle Mine Dispute in Marquette - November 6, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Marquette County Board of Commissioners has asked the Marquette County Road Commission to allow more time for public input on the Eagle Mine access road project. County Board Commissioner Steve Pence says the Road Commission has not responded to some of the feedback it’s already heard from residents along County Roads 510 and AAA. He wants the public to have more input at a December 4th meeting in Powell Township. The original plan to build a new road to the Eagle Mine site that would not have affected local homeowners was killed by the federal government because of environmental concerns. The Road Commission operates independently of the County Board and is not bound by the County Board’s request.
New Members of Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame - November 6, 2013 – Sam Ali
Six new members are being added to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Honorees include big mountain skier Scot Schmidt, freestyle pioneer and world champion John Clendenin, 2006 Olympic moguls bronze medalist Toby Dawson, freestyle aerials champion Kris Feddersen, ski film producer Joe Jay Jalbert and ski show pioneer Jerry Simon. The six will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Park City, Utah next April. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame is located in Ishpeming where the National Ski Association was founded in 1905. The Hall of Fame has scheduled a fundraiser in Hancock Saturday night. Warren Miller’s latest ski film “Ticket to Ride” will be screened at 7 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater.
Salvation Army Registration Friday - November 6, 2013 – Sam Ali
Every year the Salvation Army in Calumet helps families in need of Christmas food and toys. This year the registration will be held at the Burger King in Calumet Friday evening at 6:30. They ask that you bring proper documentation including identification, birth certificates, proof of address and proof of income and expenses.
Mike Duggan Elected New Detroit Mayor - November 6, 2013 – Sam Ali
Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan has been elected Detroit’s next mayor, defeating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon. Duggan will be Detroit’s first white mayor in 40 years. His election comes at a time when the powers of the mayor are severly limited, as the city is currently under the authority of state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Detroit is also in the midst of a federal trial to determine whether the city qualifies to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. During the campaign Duggan expressed a willingness to work with Governor Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr on the city’s turnaround, while Napoleon said he would not work with the governor or Orr calling Orr’s appointment illegal. It was a bumpy path to the Mayor’s office for Duggan, who election officials had removed from the August primary ballot due to questions about his residency. Duggan ultimately won more than half the votes in the primary after launching a write-in campaign.
Western U.P. Health Dept. Receives Awards - November 5, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Western U.P. Health Department in Hancock is being recognized for its Community Health Assessment survey. During a health conference last month, the department was given two awards by the Michigan Department of Health in Lansing. The first was the Director’s Award for its leadership, innovation and collaboration through the CHA. It was one of three given by the state health department for excellence in public health practice. The second award was the Community Achievement award which recognizes the successful collaboration of the health department and area hospitals and behavioral health agencies in supporting public health research and im provement for the benefit of the region’s population. WUPHD Executive Officer Guy St. Germain says these are significant honors for their department and that it is earned recognition for the work of many people.
Trial Of Subway Robbery Suspect Delayed - November 5, 2013 – Sam Ali
A Wisconsin man accused of robbing restaurants in Escanaba will have his trial delayed. 51-year-old Brook Grzelak of Green Bay was scheduled to go to trial yesterday in Delta County Circuit Court. Grzelak filed an appeal that will postpone his trial. He’s charged with two counts of breaking and entering with intent, two counts of safebreaking and one count of possession of burglary tools. Grzelak was the suspect in a December 2012 investigation of robberies of two Subway restaurants in Escanaba. Cash was stolen from safes inside both restaurants. He may also face additional charges in Wisconsin for similar incidents.
Winter Weather Awareness Week - November 5, 2013 – Sam Ali
This week is Winter Weather Awareness Week and the National Weather Service wants you to start preparing for the winter season coming up. One of the most important things to prepare is your car by checking if it needs snow tires. Also, make sure your car has a safety kit including a spare tire, tools, jumper cables and a shovel. In your home, if you will be using alternate heat sources, be sure to get your chimney open and cleaned out.
Gas Prices Creeping Up - November 5, 2013 – Sam Ali
Motorists in Michigan will find the average gas price edged up 1.7 cents per gallon this past week, according to Triple-A Michigan. Public Relations Director Nancy Cain says a drop in worldwide demand continues to keep crude oil prices down. Michigan’s current statewide average is $3.31 per gallon, almost eleven cents less than this same time last year. The average price for self-serve regular dropped 3.1 cents in Metro Detroit over the past week, with the average at $3.26 per gallon, the lowest average price in the state among the markets surveyed. The lowest prices outside of Detroit were found in Ann Arbor and Benton Harbor at $3.30 per gallon . The highest price among the markets surveyed was in Traverse City, at $3.40.
Flag-Lowering Honors Revised - November 5, 2013 – Sam Ali
Governor Rick Snyder has issued an Executive Order to revise the process for lowering flags in honor of officials who have passed away that he says brings more consistency to the flag honors process. Specifically, the order adds to the flag-lowering procedure guidelines for police officers and firefighters. It also revises procedures for current and former members of the Legislature, the adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, judges and state department directors. Flag honors for fallen members of the military and for federal and other officials remain as previously directed in an Executive Order issued in 2006. When ordered, the U.S. flag shall be displayed at half-staff throughout the state of Michigan, meaning at all state buildings, grounds, and facilities.
Keweenaw Bay Tribal Ballot Set - November 4, 2013 – Sam Ali
The ballot is set for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council election in December. Unofficial results from Saturday’s primary saw incumbents Elizabeth “Popcorn” Mayo and Fred Dakota advance along with challengers Don Shalifoe and Gary Loonsfoot Sr. In the L’Anse District, incumbents Toni Minton and Mike LaFernier will be on the ballot along with George DeCota and former Council member Eddy Edwards.
UPPCO Plans Shut-off For Local Areas - November 4, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Upper Peninsula Power Company will shut off electrical service to some customers in the White Pine and Silver City areas this morning. Upgrades to the system will be made on M-64 south of White Pine and on L.P. Walsh Road near Rock Hole Road. The outage will begin around 9:00 am. and UPPCO estimates power should be restored by noon.
Missing Escanaba Woman Found - November 4, 2013 – Sam Ali
Police say a missing Escanaba woman whose remains were found Thursday died of exposure. 56-year old Jean Lawrence was reported missing on February 6. Her remains were discovered in an industrial area within the Escanaba city limits, along the shores of Little Bay De Noc. Preliminary findings from an autopsy have determined the cause of death to be from exposure.
Pure Michigan Contest - November 4, 2013 – Sam Ali
Pure Michigan wants to hear from fans about where they go to make memories in Michigan. The Michigan Moments photo contest has been launched on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, and the winning photo will be included in the 2014 spring/summer Pure Michigan Travel Guide. Photos for the contest may be submitted directly to the Pure Michigan Facebook page via the photo contest tab, or through Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #PureMichiganContest. Submissions should identify the location in Michigan featured in the photo. Photos may be submitted until midnight on Sunday, November 10. Fans will be able to vote on the photo they believe best represents Pure Michigan during a voting period that runs from 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 11 through midnight on Sunday, November 17, 2013. You can vote for multiple entries; however only one vote per person will be allowed per entry, per day during the voting period. The winning photo will be published in the 2014 spring/summer Pure Michigan Travel Guide. One million copies of the guide will be printed, with 650,000 copies being distributed with the March/April issue of Midwest Living magazine. More than 3,300 photos were submitted to Pure Michigan through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during last year’s Michigan Moments photo contest with 54,384 votes being cast in total. Last year’s winning photograph, submitted by Sean Chess of Coldwater, featured the St. Joseph North Pier Lighthouse at sunset.
Check Your Smoke Alarms - November 4, 2013 – Sam Ali
The State Fire Marshal is urging Michigan residents this weekend to make it a priority to ensure their home is equipped with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as they set clocks back one hour and “fall back” from daylight saving time. Eastern Standard Time officially began Sunday morning at 2 a.m. Rich Miller says the risk of dying from a fire in a home without working smoke alarms is twice as high as in a home that has working smoke alarms. Miller says many homes still have only one smoke alarm and that’s simply enough. He says there should be working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and in the basement. Miller recommends buying newer models of smoke alarms with lithium batteries that will last the life of the unit. Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.
Tribal Council Primaries Tomorrow - November 1, 2013 – Sam Ali
16 candidates for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council will be winnowed down to eight in the primary election tomorrow. In the L’Anse District, incumbents Michael Lafernier (luh FERN yerr) and Toni Minton are being challenged by former Council member Eddy Edwards and newcomers George DeCota and Tim Friisvall (FRIZZ vawl). In the Baraga District, incumbents Fred Dakota and Elizabeth “Popcorn” Mayo face challenges from Michael Cardinal, Martin Curtis Jr., Bruce LaPointe, Gary Loonsfoot Sr., Jerry Magnant, Donald Shalifoe Sr., and Donald Stolp Sr. The top four vote-getters from each district will advance to the general election in December.
Parking Bans Begin Today - November 1, 2013 – Sam Ali
Winter parking bans took effect this morning in most cities and villages in the Copper Country. Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, Laurium, Lake Linden, L’Anse and Baraga will restrict overnight parking so snow can be removed. Restrictions continue through April. Car owners can be ticketed for vehicles that are parked along the curb between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. in most communities. Ticketing doesn’t start until 2:30 a.m. in Hancock and 3:00 a.m. in Lake Linden.
Drug Take-Back Day A Success In U.P. - November 1, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan State Police say nearly 641 pounds of prescription drugs were collected across the state last Saturday during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. A little of 118 pounds of those drugs came from the U-P, including 17 from Calumet, 35 from Negaunee and 37 from Gladstone, which was the most from any community in the U-P, The State Police partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration and other local law enforcement agencies to provide a safe, convenient and responsible venue for citizens to dispose of expired, unwanted and unused prescription drugs for destruction. The service was free and anonymous.
Tea Party Falling Out Of Favor - November 1, 2013 – Sam Ali
Recent polls on the Tea Party are showing that 50-percent of those polled say they have a negative impression of the tea party. Tom Shields from the Marketing Resource Group, which conducted the poll, says the results do not bode well for Tea Party candidates running in tightly contested districts. He also added that Republicans, whom have a 68-percent favorable impression of the Tea Party, are going to have to be cautious about putting Tea Party candidates in the swing seats.
Scrap Metal Theft Laws Coming Soon - November 1, 2013 – Sam Ali
The State House has approved a series of bills reforming Michigan’s scrap metal theft laws. The measures tighten regulations and give prosecutors better tools to hold illegal scrappers accountable by including all types of scrap metals, requirements for scrap metal dealers and sellers to follow and penalties for anyone who buys or sells stolen scrap metal. Under the legislation, all scrap metal transactions must be documented. This includes a photo of the materials; delayed payment for catalytic converters, air conditioners and copper wire and identifying the employee that weighs and inspects the material. The bills now go to the Senate.
Halloween Safety Tips From County Sheriff - October 31, 2013 – Sam Ali
Tonight, children across the Copper Country will be out in the streets trick-or-treating and we want them to have fun and be safe. To help ensure this Halloween is safe for your children, Houghton County Sheriff Brian McLean offers the following safety tips:
· Costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping. Masks should not be too restrictive with adequate holes for proper respiration and peripheral vision. Consider using cosmetics to create fun or scary faces instead of masks.
· Watch costumed children around pets. The pet may not recognize the child and become frightened, especially if the child is using a prop such as a sword or dagger as part of their costume.
· Avoid hard plastic or wooden props, opting instead for items made of foam rubber which is soft and flexible.
· To help make the child more visible after dark, trick-or-treaters should carry a brightly colored bag and a flashlight or glow stick. Add reflective tape to the sides, front, and back of the child’s costume.
· At all times, watch for traffic and avoid walking in the street whenever possible.
· An adult should always accompany young children. A parent should stay within close range of young children at all times and children should never be allowed to go down a street alone. Walk with your children to each house and wait near the porch or front entrance of the home until they return.
· Older children should travel in pairs or in groups at all times while trick-or- treating and never venture down a dark, empty street.
· Parents should know the route that their children are following. Children should always walk together to the front door of each house and only cross the street at crosswalks.
· Dark, unlit homes should be avoided.
· Children should save their candy until they get home so you can inspect it. Discard any unwrapped or suspicious looking goodies. If your child does get sick, call your family doctor or the hospital emergency room immediately and save all wrappers. It is also helpful to determine what he or she ate and which house it came from.
· Keep flammable items, such as your jack-o-lantern, away from small children, pets, and flammable materials such as draperies, furniture, and paper decorations. Never leave a candle burning unattended.
“Halloween is a fun time in Houghton County,” Sheriff McLean concluded. “Let’s make it a safe time as well.” For more safety tips Sheriff McLean encourages residents to visit the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association website at www.misheriff.org or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/misheriff.org where you can sign up to receive monthly newsletters.
Assigned Times For Trick-or-Treating - October 31, 2013 – Sam Ali
Each community has a specific set time for trick or treating. Houghton and Hancock will be from five to eight. Baraga trick or treating hours are from four to seven. It will be five to 7:30 in L’anse and five to eight in Laurium.
Rep. Dianda Responds to Oklahoma Senator About U.P. National Parks - October 31, 2013 – Sam Ali
State Representative Scott Dianda is standing up for two national parks after they were slammed by a U.S. Senator. Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had some harsh words for Isle Royale and Keweenaw National Parks in a 208-page report and he says that they are among the most wasteful expenses in the country. But here’s the problem: Coburn has never been to either of the parks that he is criticizing. “On behalf of Mother Nature, I would like to apologize to Sen. Coburn,” said Dianda. “It is clear that growing up in a place like Oklahoma has robbed the senator of any ability to imagine the natural rugged beauty of Isle Royale and the Keweenaw. Had he been exposed to natural beauty at a younger age, maybe he would understand its importance.” Dianda also added that he extends an open invitation to the Senator for a tour to come see the two parks. No word yet if Senator Coburn will be able to free up his overwhelmingly busy sight-seeing schedule in his homestate.
Domestic Violence Awareness Event Rescheduled - October 31, 2013 – Sam Ali
The “Shining the Light on Domestic Violence” event that was scheduled for L’Anse Waterfront Park last night was canceled because of poor weather. It has been rescheduled for Monday evening at 8:00. The Sky Lantern Vigil will help spread awareness of the problem of Domestic Violence. Lanterns are five dollars each, and can be purchased at Java By The Bay in downtown L’Anse, and the Pines Convenience Center north of Baraga. Proceeds will be split between the Baraga County Shelter Home and the Niimi Gimiwang (NEE-mee GIH-mee-wang) Transitional Home.
Third Grade Proficiency Standards May Rise - October 31, 2013 – Sam Ali
Legislation has been introduced in the State House that would require third-graders to score at least proficient on the statewide assessment test for reading or be held back from moving up to fourth grade. Ottawa County Representative Amanda Price says reading proficiency needs to be a priority because third grade is a critical benchmark in childhood learning. She says it can be looked at as an opportunity to prepare students for the rest of their lives. If the bill were in place this year, it would mean over 36-thousand children would have to repeat the third-grade because they scored at the bottom two levels of the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam in fall 2012.
Missing Elderly Woman Found - October 31, 2013 – Sam Ali
Michigan State Police troopers have finally been able to locate an elderly woman who had been missing since Tuesday. Helen Wakevainen from Lake Gogebic in Marenisco Township was found a quarter mile from her home in the woods last night at eight. She was found on the west shore of Lake Gogebic by the K-9 unit and she was safely transported to Aspirus Grandview Hospital. Troopers say she is alive and well.
Huron Mountain Club Challenge to Eagle Mine Denied - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A Federal Appeals Court has denied an attempt by the Huron Mountain Club to stop the Eagle Mine in Marquette County. The Club had asked the U-S Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to order the Army Corps of Engineers to force the mine to go through a federal permitting process before construction continues. The mine has already been approved through the state’s permitting process. The Club’s request had already been denied by a U-S District Court. Judge Helene White of the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati wrote that the Club had failed to prove that the Army Corps of Engineers had an obligation to require federal permits for the mine… and could not be forced to do something it was not required to. Judge White also chastised the Huron Mountain Club for waiting six years to initiate a federal challenge to the mine… noting that they had not opened a federal case until their challenge in state court had failed. To read the full decision, click here.
MTU Prof Named to State Commission - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A Michigan Tech professor has been appointed to the state’s new Commission for Logistics and Supply Chain Collaboration. Dr. Pasi Lautala is director of the Rail Transportation Program at Michigan Technological University. The seven-member commission will advise state agencies on freight transportation and supply chain management issues. It will also consult with local and regional governmental agencies, and the Canadian government. It’s housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Covington Burglary Suspect Arraigned - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The second suspect accused of a burglary in Covington last summer was arraigned in Baraga County District Court yesterday. 47-year-old Bernard Fish Senior faces two counts of armed robbery, two counts of extortion, one count of impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime, and to counts of unlawful imprisonment. Fish and Donavan Waupoose are accused of breaking into a home… claiming to be U-S Marshals… holding the occupants hostage in exchange for ransom… and then stealing items from the home when the ransom was not produced. They’re also suspects in a burglary in Wisconsin. Both men are now being held in the Baraga County Jail in lieu of a million dollars bail.
Cougar Confirmed in Huron Mountains - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
There’s a cougar wandering around the Huron Mountains. The Department of Natural Resources says a photograph taken by a hunter’s trail camera is legitimate. The picture was taken southeast of Big Bay in Marquette County in mid-October. The D-N-R is working to verify another photo taken in the same general area in late September. They think it is probably the same animal. For years, the D-N-R said there were no cougars in the Upper Peninsula. That changed more than two years ago… when several pictures of a cougar were confirmed in the Copper Country.
Catholic Year of Faith Wrap-Up Announced - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke (Release from Diocese of Marquette)
The Year of Faith in the Catholic Diocese of Marquette will close in a similar fashion to the way it began on Oct. 20/21, 2012. Everyone throughout the diocese is welcome to participate in the Solemn Mass at Holy Name of Mary Parish in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday, Nov. 24, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Diocesan administrator, Father Francis Dobrzenski, invites Catholics to walk in procession with him at 11:10 a.m. ET from St. Mary’s School to Holy Name of Mary Church. The procession will head east on Cedar Street, north on Kimball and then west on East Portage Avenue. Fr. Dobrzenski will carry a large wooden cross, made by Bob Grimes of Harvey, and then plant it in the ground and bless it in front of Holy Name of Mary Church. Mass will then begin at 11:30 a.m. ET inside the church.
The Year of Faith began last fall with Bishop Alexander Sample travelling by car and symbolically and liturgically making the Sign of the Cross over the Upper Peninsula by celebrating Mass at Copper Harbor, Menominee, Ironwood and Drummond Island, all in one weekend. He, too, carried a cross in procession at each site.
“At that time, four crosses were planted at the four corners of the U.P. and the fifth one was planted at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette,” explained Deacon Tom Foye, director of the Diocesan Office of Divine Worship. “To complete the historical link, we will plant the sixth cross next month at Holy Name of Mary Church.”
Sault Ste. Marie was chosen as the site for this Mass following the recommendation of the Diocesan Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, since Sault Ste. Marie was the original See city of our diocesan Church and Holy Name of Mary Church succeeds in service the original diocesan cathedral church. ”
Buck LeVasseur Announces Retirement - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Long-time outdoor sports television host Buck LeVasseur is retiring. LeVasseur recently celebrated his 30th year of hosting the “Discovering” program on WLUC television. He says he’s no longer physically able to do the job. LeVasseur has been absent from the program for much of the past year. Brian Whitens… who has been filling in… will become the permanent host.
Plans for U.P. Military Cemetery Moving Forward - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Efforts are heating up to establish a military cemetery for Upper Peninsula veterans. State Representative Scott Dianda was among those who recently met with Michigan D-N-R Director Keith Craig about acquiring land for the facility…Dianda says it would be especially appropriate for our area… considering how many of our residents are veterans… Right now, the closest military cemetery is at Fort Custer… near Battle Creek… a nine-hour drive from the Copper Country.
Copper Country to Be Hit With Food Assistance Cutbacks - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Struggling families across the Copper Country and the state will suffer a blow Friday… when a temporary increase in food stamp benefits ends. The increase was part of the federal economic stimulus plan passed in 2009. Funding for that increase ends tomorrow. The state says an average family of four will see a decrease of 36-dollars a month. Locally, over the next year, the reductions will total nearly a half-million dollars in Houghton County… 141-thousand dollars in Baraga County… 28-thousand dollars in Keweenaw County… and 102-thousand dollars in Ontonagon County.
UPPCO Announces Planned Power Outage - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Upper Peninsula Power Company is giving advance notice to some customers in the White Pine and Silver City areas that electricity will be shut down for a while on Monday. Upgrades to the system will be made on M-64 south of White Pine… and on L-P Walsh Road near Rock Hole Road. The outage will begin Monday morning around 9:00… and UPPCO estimates power should be restored by noon.
Mohawk S.O.S. Hours Reduced - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan Secretary of State office in Mohawk will cut back to its winter one-day-per-week schedule beginning next week. The office will be open Thursdays from 9:00 until 12:30… and 1:30 until 5:00. Customers renewing driver’s licenses, state IDs or license plate tabs may also do business by mail, or online at ExpressSOS.com.
Teens Arrested in Marquette Death - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Two teens have been arrested in connection with the death of a Marquette man. Police say that 17-year-old Christopher Garrow and 19-year-old Jordan Beaudry failed to get medical help for 22-year-old Kyle Dowling, who was found dead on the porch of his home on October 1st. They’re charged with concealing the death of an individual, which is a felony, and failing to report the discovery of a dead body, which is a misdemeanor. Police say Beaudry and Garrow were with Dowling the night before his body was found. Garrow has already been arraigned and is being held in the Marquette County Jail on $1,000 bond for each charge. A preliminary exam is scheduled for November 8th. No information on Beaudry’s status is available. The exact cause of Dowling’s death remains under investigation.
House Vote Clears Way for Common Core - October 30, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan House of Representatives has approved funding to implement Common Core educational standards for K-through-12 students in Michigan…
Snyder Signs Unemployment Drug Test Bill - October 30, 2013
Unemployed workers who fail a pre-employment drug test could lose their benefits under a pilot program signed into law by Governor Snyder yesterday. The one-year experiment allows… but does not require… employers to tell the state if an applicant flunks a screening. Michigan law requires those collecting unemployment benefits to accept work if it’s available. Supporters of the new program say that a choice by an applicant to use drugs that would eliminate them from a job is tantamount to declining the job. The program will be reviewed after a year.
That legislation was part of a collection of bills signed yesterday by Governor Rick Snyder. Most are technical changes that bring Michigan’s unemployment system into line with federal requirements.
Sexual Identity Civil Rights Push Languishes - October 30, 2013
It appears that any push to expand Michigan’s civil rights protection to include sexual identity will remain on a slow track… Sexual identity is not protected under federal civil rights laws, either.
Michigan Workers’ Comp Rates Fall - October 30, 2013
The cost of the pure premium portion of workers’ compensation insurance in Michigan will drop more than eight percent in 2014. That means the premiums employers pay to cover anticipated claims for on-the-job accidents have fallen 21 percent over the three years. Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Steve Arwood says the improved rates are a result of significant changes made in the worker’s compensation system in 2011. The revisions included fee structures to control medical costs, and updated projections of potential employer earnings.
Houghton County Board Approves Otter Lake Assessment District - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
With one dissenting vote, the Houghton County Board of Commissioners approved the Otter Lake Special Assessment District this afternoon. Owners of 91 parcels around the lake will receive a bill with their winter taxes to pay for maintenance of the dam on the Sturgeon River. Several property owners continued their objections to the assessments… with some suggesting the dam should be removed. Drain Commissioner John Pekkala says there’s a reason it was installed… Pekkala said it would take a two-thirds vote of the property owners and a circuit court order to transfer control of the dam from the county to the property owners themselves if they wanted to consider paying to have the dam removed.
Kalinec Named to Hancock School Board - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Kevin Kalinec is the newest member of the Hancock Board of Education. Kalinec is the Head Tennis Coach at Michigan Tech… and previously served as Tech’s manager of sports and recreation. He has two children in the Hancock District… and two who have graduated. He was confirmed by the board last night to replace member Mark Peters, who resigned in September. His term will run through December of 2014. Kalinec’s selection was actually made by the Copper Country Intermediate School District Board. That was required by law because the Hancock Board had been unable to appoint a successor to Peters within 30 days of his resignation. Superintendent Monica Healy said the board also commended the JV and varsity hockey teams for taking part in Hancock’s city cleanup on Saturday. Team members told the board they felt the community had supported them… and they wanted to repay the favor.
Benishek Seeks Health Care Stories - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
If you’ve had trouble signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, U-S Representative Dan Benishek wants to know about it. Benishek says his staff has been hearing from constituents about issues with using the health care website… lost coverage… and increased premiums. He promises to help fix those problems. You can submit your story at his website… or by calling one of his regional offices at (877)-376-5613.
Watton Robbery Suspect Faces Arraignment - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The second suspect arrested in connection with an armed robbery in Watton last summer is expected to be arraigned in Baraga County District Court today. U-S Marshals handed 47-year-old Bernard Fish, Sr. over to Michigan State Police troopers yesterday. He was scheduled to be moved to the Baraga County jail overnight. Fish and Donovan Waupoose are accused of breaking into a Watton home… pretending to be U-S Marshals… and trying to extort 10-thousand dollars from the home’s occupants. When that didn’t work, police say they stole some items, and left. They’re also accused of a burglary in Wisconsin. Waupoose was arrested shortly after the robberies, and is being held in the Baraga County jail in lieu of a million dollar bond. His pretrial hearing is scheduled for Friday.
Calumet Man Sentenced on Drug Charge - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyle
A Calumet man was sentenced to 45 days in jail for a cocaine charge yesterday. 50-year-old Douglas Lloyd Loven pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor Use of Cocaine charge. He had originally been facing a felony… but the count was reduced in a plea deal. Loven was arrested August 14th after an undercover investigation by the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team. When his jail term ends, he’ll spend at least a year on probation.
Houghton County Board to Vote on Otter Lake Assessments - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Houghton County Board of Commissioners will meet at noon today to approve the tax roll for the Otter Lake Dam Assessment District. Property owners will be billed for maintenance of the nearly 40-year-old dam… after the state dropped its financial support. Drain Commissioner John Pekkala says this year’s initial assessment will be followed by a second bill next year… Many property owners have been unhappy about the situation… saying that Houghton County and Portage Township should assume more of the financial burden.
Hungarian Falls Ideas to Be Presented - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Now that the Keweenaw Land Trust owns the upper Hungarian Falls and 10 acres around it… what do they do with it? Some suggestions will come tonight… when civil engineering students at Michigan Tech roll out their ideas. Members of Professor Stan Vitton’s Senior Design class will present their assessment of the Hungarian Dam and the historic use of the surrounding area. The public is invited to hear what they have to say beginning at 7:00 at Hesterberg Hall.
Isle Royale N.P. Looks for Input - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Management at the Isle Royale National Park is looking for public input on the park’s proposed Cultural Resources Management Plan. Several meetings will be held to discuss the plan. One will be in Houghton… on November 12th at 6:00 at the Franklin Square Inn. A second meeting will be held downstate… with two additional sessions in Minnesota. A newsletter providing information on the planning process, preliminary ideas, and a form for providing comments is available at Isle Royale National Park headquarters in Houghton. You can also find it online here. Written comments are being accepted through the website… or at Park Headquarters through December 4th.
Health Officials Encourage Whooping Cough Vaccine - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
To the list of vaccinations you might need to get through the winter, add… whooping cough. Pertussis is very contagious.. and quite dangerous… especially to infants. Marquette County Health Department nurse Jill Santti says it’s not just any cough… The pertussis bacteria is spread through the air… and you can pick it up just by breathing in an area where an infected person has coughed. Children are routinely inoculated… but are at high risk before the vaccine takes effect. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women and any adult who will be spending time around an infant get the vaccine… along with other high-risk adults. Check with your doctor to see if you should have one.
Rally Against Domestic Violence Planned - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Baraga County residents have a chance to make a statement against domestic violence tomorrow night… Baraga County Shelter Home Director Jamie Palmer says the lanterns will be released at 8:00 at L’Anse Waterfront Park. Participants need to purchase lanterns in advance for five dollars…Proceeds will be split between the Shelter Home and the Niimi Gimiwang Transitional Home.
Snyder Defends Role in Detroit Bankruptcy - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Governor Rick Snyder told a federal judge yesterday that the Detroit bankruptcy filing came despite his best efforts to prevent it… That’s reporter Jon Hewitt, who’s covering the case for us in Detroit. He says Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will testify today.
Gas Prices Fall - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
There’s good news and better news at the gas pump. The latest Triple-A Michigan survey found that the price of unleaded regular fell 17 cents a gallon over the past week. The average price in Marquette was $3.35 per gallon… six cents higher than the statewide average. The better news is that prices are expected to stay low for at least a few weeks… thanks to lower crude oil prices on the world market.
Political Fund Controversy Swells - October 29, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Controversy is growing over those political funds that don’t need to report the names of donors. Governor Rick Snyder is dissolving his controversial NERD Fund… and creating a new one that he promises will be more transparent. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette also has such a fund… the “On Duty for Michigan” Fund. He says he’ll begin disclosing donors’ names. One of his potential challengers in the 2014 election says that’s not good enough. Democrat Mark Totten says the names of previous donors should also be released. Schuette has used money from the fund to help defend the position of Detroit city pensioners in the bankruptcy case… and Totten wants to know if banks which might benefit from having the pension money protected have donated to the fund. Records show Schuette’s fund collected around 170-thousand dollars last year… and spent around 140-thousand.
The group Progress Michigan has been among the most vocal critics of Snyder’s fund… but Progress Michigan director Lonnie Scott won’t give out the names of its donors. Republicans are calling that hypocritical. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer also had an anonymous donor fund when he served a term in the U-S House. He says the list of donors has been destroyed.
No one has alleged that any of this has broken any laws.
Baraga Toys for Tots Raises $4,500 - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Baraga County Toys for Tots campaign got off to a big start yesterday… with more than 45-hundred dollars collected at the annual kickoff concert in Skanee. Howard Mattson of the Marine Corps League says they’ll need every penny of that… and more… 23-hundred dollars in cash and toys came in at the concert… and an additional 22-hundred was raised over the summer through returnable can collections and several fundraisers at Witz’s Marina. Members of the Marine Corps League will be setting donation boxes out at local businesses soon.
Dianda Predicts Easy Common Core Passage in State House; Explains “No” Vote on Medicaid Expansion - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The State House is expected to move quickly to concur with the Senate’s decision last week to proceed with implementation of Common Core K-12 educational standards. Representative Scott Dianda says that should go smoothly… Some changes were made to the bill to address local control issues… which caused Tea Party members to bottle the bill up in the Senate for weeks. Dianda says he thinks the standards will be helpful…Dianda was one of my guests yesterday on “Copper Country Today.”
On the program, Dianda also explained his recent “no” vote on the expansion of Medicaid in Michigan… Michigan will be requiring Medicaid recipients without disabilities to pay up to five percent of their incomes on co-payments. If they remain on the program for more than four years, the state would require that they pay seven percent of their income as a premium… or purchase insurance independently.
NMU Athletes Help Ill Hancock Girl - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A six-year-old Hancock girl suffering from a congenital muscle disease will be getting some help from the athletic teams at Northern Michigan University. Members of the N-M-U varsity teams will perform at a talent show at Vandament Arena Sunday evening at 7:00. Any donation will get you in the door. Student athletes will also sell t-shirts at athletic events and around campus this week. The support has been arranged by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill the girl’s dream of a trip to Disney World. The girls’ name has not been included in publicity we have received about the event. We are told she suffers from nemaline myopathy… a degenerative muscle condition that causes weakness throughout the body… and can interfere with breathing and swallowing.
Bruce Crossing Woman Accused of Assault - October 28, 2013 -Todd VanDyke
A 19-year-old Bruce Crossing woman is awaiting arraignment on charges of assault and malicious destruction of property. The Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Department tells us the woman is a resident of an adult foster care home. She’s accused of assaulting another resident… then denting the side of an employee’s vehicle by throwing a pumpkin at it. Her name will be released after arraignment in Ontonagon County District Court.
Home Heating Assistance Coming to U.P. - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The State of Michigan is sending a million dollars ($1,000,418) to the Upper Peninsula to help low-income residents pay their winter heating bills and make homes more energy-efficient. The grant will be administered by the Superior Watershed Partnership. It’s part of a 90-million dollar package of grants that are being paid for by a federal grant… and by you, through a fee collected each month on your utility bill. Other recipients who serve our area include SEMCO Energy… which received a million dollars to provide assistance to its natural gas customers throughout the state. The Salvation Army received 13-million dollars for statewide assistance.
Native American to Head MI Civil Rights Department - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
For the first time, a Native American will lead Michigan’s Civil Rights Department. Matt Wesaw takes over as Executive Director today. Wesaw spent 26 years as a Michigan State Police trooper. In 1995, he became Vice President of the Michigan State Police Troopers Association, and also worked as that organization’s Director of Government Relations until his retirement in March of 2008. Wesaw is chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians from southwestern Michigan.
Snyder to Testify Before Bankruptcy Judge - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The governor heads to court today… So… why should we care about Detroit’s financial problems? State Representative Scott Dianda says we may wind up paying for them…Most studies place Detroit’s unfunded pension liability at around three-and-a-half billion dollars… that about 350 dollars for every man, woman and child in the state.
Rogers Concerned About Health Website Security - October 28, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Michigan U-S Representative Mike Rogers is concerned about the personal information that’s being collected by the unstable health care exchange website…
This Weekend’s Halloween Events - October 25, 2013 – Sam Ali
There will be many events across the Copper Country this weekend celebrating the Halloween season. Downtown Houghton is hosting Treat Street tonight at 5:30. Boo on the Bay takes place today at four in Downtown L’Anse, which is also the place to be for the Howl-o-Scream Haunted House tomorrow night at seven. Michigan Tech’s Sigma Pi will have their haunted house open today and tomorrow. The Quincy Mine Hoist Association will offer Haunted Mine tours today and tomorrow. Tour capacity is limited so get your tickets in advance.
In addition to these events, tomorrow the Anything Goes 4-H Club will hold their Spooky Super Saturday at the Marsin Center from 9:30 a.m. To 3:30 p.m. for ages five through 19. Kids under eight must be accompanied by an adult. Among the activities will be arts and crafts, games and science experiments. Cost is two dollars per person and kids should bring their own lunch.
Fall Feline Festival Kicks Off Today - October 25, 2013 – Sam Ali
If you’re looking for a new pet for your house, the Copper Country Humane Society is giving you the opportunity to adopt a cat this weekend. The CCHS Animal Shelter is holding their Fall Feline Festival today and will continue through Tuesday October 29th to coincide with National Cat Appreciation Day. CCHS Manager Becky Clouthier says there is a special deal for those who come early.
For more information please visit the humane society website.
New Legislation For Juvenile Lifer Laws - October 25, 2013 – Sam Ali
The Michigan Senate has approved legislation that would prohibit mandatory sentences of life without parole to juveniles. The measure is in response to a US Supreme Court ruling which said mandatory juvenile lifer laws like the one in Michigan are not constitutional. The bill, which now goes to the Michigan House, does not retroactively apply to the 360 or so current Michigan inmates who were under 18 when they committed the crimes for which they were convicted.
Treat Street Offers Halloween Fun - October 25, 2013 – Sam Ali
Get out your favorite costume and head to Downtown Houghton for Treat Street tonight. Downtown spokeswoman Susie Landers says there is lots to do…The event will be held from 5:30 to 7 and kids can pick up trick or treat bags at Houghton City Center. Houghton Mayor Pro Tem Robert Magowan says the event isn’t just for Houghton kids… Many of the downtown businesses will be open for trick or treating. Shelden Avenue will be closed for the event and traffic will be routed on Lakeshore Drive.
Changes Coming to Economic Development Efforts - October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The economic development structure in the Copper Country will be changing soon. Phil Musser… who has led the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance for 28 years… will be retiring at the end of the year. That will set up an eventual merger between KEDA and the Western U-P Development Region… There’s one other merger that Musser would wish for… Phil Musser will be one of the guests on Sunday’s edition of “Copper Country Today.” The other guest will be State Representative Scott Dianda.
State Senate Approves Common Core Funding October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan Senate has approved money to implement Common Core Standards for K-through 12 students. The standards themselves were adopted some time ago… and Copper Country Intermediate School District Superintendent Dennis Harbour says local districts are ready to proceed… Harbour spoke on a recent edition of Copper Country Today… and said the standards simply provide a basic framework…The bottleneck was a Senate committee… where Tea Party Republicans held up funding over concerns that the standards diminished local control of school districts. Yesterday, a frustrated full Senate voted to remove that committee from the process… then voted its approval. The measure proceeds to the House for final approval.
Cliffs Reports Increased Profit - October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Cliffs Natural Resources has reported a 349-million dollar profit for the third quarter. That’s 76 percent better than last year’s third quarter. Company officials say the increase was the result of increased prices for iron ore overseas… and some cost-cutting measures. Read their full press release here.
Legislation Would Limit Drug Sales - October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Individuals with felony drug records would need a doctor’s prescription to purchase certain cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine under legislation introduced into the state house this week. The bill is sponsored by Representative John Kivela from Marquette. It’s designed to cut down on methamphetamine production. Kivela hopes the additional limitations on those with drug convictions will cut down on what’s called “smurfing”… sending lots of people out to buy a few cold pills that are then combined to make meth. Medications containing pseudoephedrine would still be available to the rest of us under restrictions approved some time ago.
Bernero Investigated for Campaign Violations - October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The state is investigating Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero for alleged violations of state campaign finance laws. The Lansing State Journal reports that three complaints filed earlier this month, accuse Bernero of giving “uncharacteristically high” salary payments to two campaign aides: Three days later, those aides donated money to a candidate for the Lansing City Council. State law prohibits such third-party contributions. Bernero is running for a third term as Lansing mayor. He lost the 2010 governor’s race to Rick Snyder.
Snyder Open to Discussion About Gay Rights - October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Pressure is growing to expand Michigan’s civil rights law to protect sexual identity… Sexual identity is not protected by federal law, either.
Return to Front License Plates Proposed - October 25, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Remember when we used to have license plates on both ends of our cars? Those days may be returning. Legislation has been introduced into the state legislature to bring back the front license plate. Senate Democrat Tupac Hunter says it will make it easier for police and others to identify vehicles for crime reporting and safety purposes. 31 states require both a front and a rear license plate.
Houghton City Manager Search Underway - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The City of Houghton could see a new city manager selected by early December and on the job in February. Mayor Bob Backon said at last night’s council meeting a selection committee will begin its work soon to see who will replace longtime manager Scott MacInnes in the position. MacInnes announced his retirement at a meeting earlier this month. Backon said that no less than four cities in the Upper Peninsula are looking to fill city manager positions this year.
At the meeting, it was announced that the city has been recognized as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Houghton is one of just two cities in Michigan to attain that level and is the only one in the Upper Peninsula.
In other action, the council…
- Was told by Public Works Director Mark Zenner that paving projects in the city are progressing on schedule.
- Learned that winter parking regulations start on November 1st.
- Switched its November 27 th meeting to November 20th to avoid conflicts with the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Passed a resolution to adopt a master plan which includes the recreation and natural resources conservation plan.
Hockey Coach Pleads “Not Guilty” to CSC Charges - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A volunteer with the Houghton High School hockey team pleaded not guilty to criminal sexual conduct charges yesterday in Houghton County Circuit Court. 30-year-old Brad Aldrich of Hancock is charged with third and fourth degree CSC charges for his alleged involvement with a male student at the school. The student is between the ages of 16 and 18. The third degree charge carries a possible fifteen- year felony sentence, while the fourth degree charge is a two–year misdemeanor. Aldrich’s preliminary exam will be scheduled sometime within the next 30 days.
Baltic Water Shutoff - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Water will be shut off in Baltic this morning, while the Adams Township Water Department installs a new fire hydrant. The shutoff will begin at 9:00… and will last until work is completed.
Hancock Clean-Up Scheduled - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Hancock will celebrate “Make A Difference Day” Saturday by holding a city clean-up. City Manager Glenn Anderson says there’s a lot to do… Volunteers should meet at Quincy Green at 10:00 for assignments. Families are welcome. Bring work gloves and rakes if you have them. Trash and recycle bags will be provided.
L’Anse Hosts “Boo! On the Bay” - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Village of L’Anse will hold an official Halloween celebration for the first time tomorrow night. “Boo! On the Bay” will run from 4:00 until 7:00. Rik Moilanen from the L’Anse Downtown Development Authority says kids will have a great time…Moilanen says the deadline to enter the coffin races is 4:30 this afternoon. 100-dollar cash prizes are being offered in two age divisions. Rules are on the L’Anse Village Facebook page, and entry forms are available at the village hall.
Baraga Toys for Tots Campaign Begins Sunday - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Baraga County Toys for Tots campaign will kick off Sunday afternoon with the annual concert in Skanee. Les Elmblad helped start the event when he was a member of the Lightkeepers Gospel Quartet… The Lightkeepers are retired, now… and the concert has expanded to include a number of community performers. Fundraising has also expanded…Each year, the Baraga County Toys for Tots Campaign provides gifts for more than 300 children. Sunday’s concert begins at 2:00 at Zion Lutheran Church in Skanee. Admission is a new, unwrapped toy… or a cash donation.
Schauer Had Fund Similar to Snyder’s - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer has been among those criticizing Governor Rick Snyder’s non-profit NERD Fund for keeping the names of its donors private. Turns out… when Schauer served his one term in the U-S House of Representatives… he had the same kind of fund. The Schauer Community Fund didn’t raise anywhere near the amount of money Snyder’s fund has… but the names of donors were kept secret. Snyder recently announced that he will be dissolving the NERD Fund.
Epinephrine Proposal Advances - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan House has approved a measure that would require schools to maintain epinephrine injectors… and have staff trained to use them. Epinephrine is used in cases of anaphylaxis… a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal if swelling closes off a victim’s airway. Causes can include food allergies and bee stings. The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.
Lawmaker Proposes Car Smoking Ban - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A Michigan lawmaker wants to ban smoking in cars where children are present. Democratic Representative Sam Singh of East Lansing says secondhand smoke poses a danger to children. He’s proposed legislation that would fine violators 500-dollars.
Capitol Walkway Named After Kelley - October 24, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Longtime Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley was honored in Lansing yesterday… Kelley is now 87. He served as Attorney General for 37 years.
1913 Drama-Dance to Premiere - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Calumet Theatre will host the world premiere of a new dance-drama about the 1913 Copper Miners Strike this weekend… Choreographer Donna Armistead says she and Oye have been working on this project for 17 years… The 100th anniversary of the strike brought a sense of urgency… and now a cast of 35 and a five-piece orchestra are ready for the debut. The curtain rises Friday evening at 7:30… with a repeat performance Sunday afternoon at 2:00. Tickets are available through the Calumet Theatre box office.
Former Copper Country Resident to Retire from State Organization - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A former Copper Country mayor and village administrator is about to step down from his leadership position with a statewide organization. John Niemela served as Mayor of Hancock and Laurium Village Manager before becoming executive director of the County Road Association of Michigan. After 17 years, Niemela will retire at the end of the month. He will be succeeded by the former executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee… Denise Donohue. The County Road Association of Michigan represents the interests of Michigan’s 83 county road agencies that collectively maintain more than 90,000 miles of roadway… the fourth largest local road system in the nation.
Hockey Coach Faces CSC Arraignment - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A volunteer assistant with the Houghton High School hockey team is scheduled to be arraigned today on criminal sexual conduct charges. 30-year-old Brad Aldrich waived his preliminary hearing in 97th District Court on Friday. He is set to appear at 1:30 this afternoon in Circuit Court. Aldrich faces single counts of third and fourth-degree CSC.
No Serious Injuries in Houghton Crash - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Copper Bowl Food Drive Underway - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Friday’s Copper Bowl football game between Houghton and Hancock means more than just bragging rights for the winner… and a potential playoff berth for the Gremlins. It’s helping to feed some hungry families… Houghton Schools Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil says the two high schools are competing to see which can collect the most non-perishable food contributions. Donations can be brought to either high school today, tomorrow or Friday. Collection bins will also be set up at McAfee Field during the game Friday night. Klingbeil says there’s a reward for the winner…
Portage Health is also collecting food donations. Deposit bins are set up in the main Portage Health lobby in Hancock, at Portage Health’s rehab office in Calumet, the Lake Linden and University Center clinics, and Portage Health Houghton, home of the Fitness Center and Express Care. The hospital collected five-thousand pounds of food last year… and is hoping to double that amount this year.
Casperson Says New Wolf Attacks Support Hunt - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A series of wolf attacks has been reported in the eastern Upper Peninsula. State Senator Tom Casperson says the Department of Natural Resources has told him of five incidents… a steer killed at an Engadine farm on October 10th… two dogs killed and two dogs injured in Schoolcraft County on October 12th… another steer killed at an Engadine farm on October 13th… a dog killed and another injured in Chippewa County on October 16th… and a pig killed at an Engadine farm on that same day. The report does not indicate if the Engadine incidents occurred at the same farm, or a different farms in the area. Casperson says the growing number of attacks confirms the need to manage the wolf population. Michigan’s first limited wolf hunt begins November 15th.
Gogebic Man Jailed for Drunken Police Chase - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A Ramsay man who led police on a chase on his four-wheeler last month has been sentenced to jail. Police spotted 23-year-old Jonathan Haley riding down the middle of US-2 in Bessemer Township. He fled down an ATV trail… but crashed into a building. He then ran off… but was stopped when he slammed into a metal clothesline pole and suffered facial injuries. For his adventure, Haley was sentenced to 45 days in jail for fleeing and eluding a police officer in the fourth degree, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He’s been given credit for the 36 days he’s already spent in jail. Haley was also fined 12-hundred dollars.
Presque Isle Plant to Remain Open - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Presque Isle power plant in Marquette will stay open. Midcontinent Independent System Operator… which runs the electric grid in the Upper Midwest… says the facility is needed to maintain a stable electrical supply. The plant is owned by WE Energies… which had asked for permission to close it. The plant’s largest power customer… Cliffs Natural Resources… recently took its business elsewhere. The decision means that MISO will pay for part of the cost to keep Presque Isle operating. The plant employs 170 people.
Michigan Voters Support Pot Decriminalization - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Sixty-five percent of registered Michigan voters contacted in a recent survey support decriminalization or legalization of marijuana. The poll by Marketing Resource Group and Mitchell Research and Communications found 24 percent believe possession of a small amount of marijuana should be treated like a speeding ticket… without the possibility of jail time. 41 percent said they support the legalization, regulation and taxation of small amounts of marijuana. 31 percent supported the status quo. The phone survey of 600 potential voters was taken October 6th through the 10th. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
State Considers New Fracking Regulations - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
New rules to regulate the fracking process are being discussed in Lansing…
Legislature Approves Vehicle Sales Tax Reduction - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Buying a new car, recreational vehicle or boat could cost a bit less in the future. Yesterday, the State House and Senate both passed legislation that will phase out the sales tax you pay on the value of a vehicle you trade in. The first reduction will take effect in December. It will take a number of years before the full credit is in place.
Detroit Bankruptcy Hearings to Begin - October 23, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Detroit bankruptcy enters a critical phase today. U-S Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will begin hearing evidence that will help him determine if the city is eligible for Chapter Nine protection. The legal storm around the bankruptcy continues to intensify. Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has been sued by a number of groups representing current city employees and retirees. They want the court to stop planned cuts in their health insurance benefits. And a union activist has won his fight to see some of the emails and documents related to the search that selected Orr to be the Emergency Manager. Wayne County Judge Maria Oxholm ruled yesterday the state must release the names and resumes of the final candidates who applied for the job. She stayed the order, though… pending an expected appeal by the state. State officials say the release would violate the privacy rights of the failed applicants.
Health Officials Encourage Winter Vaccinations - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
State medical officials say we’re doing a lousy job getting the vaccinations we’re supposed to have to keep us healthy through the winter… That’s Doctor Matthew Davis… Chief Medical Officer for the Michigan Department of Community Health. And… there are other vaccines some folks need… Dr. Terry Frankovich at the Western U-P Health Department says children under age five… some at-risk adults… and seniors… should be vaccinated against pneumonia, as well. She says the vaccines are easy to get… The cost is often partly or fully covered by health insurance or Medicaid. If you have questions about the pneumonia vaccine, talk to your family doctor, or call the Health Department.
L’Anse Library Appointments Made - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Last night’s L’Anse Board of Education Meeting was a quiet one. Superintendent Carrie Meyer said the turnout for the fan bus to the Purple Hornets’ football game at Northland Pines last week was excellent… and that a fan bus has been scheduled for this Friday’s game at Munising. Mike Joki and Ruth Giudicelli were reappointed to the Library Board.
State Legislators Consider Eliminating “Trade-In” Tax - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
State lawmakers are poised to pass legislation that will gradually discontinue the application of the sales and use taxes on the value of a trade-in when someone buys a motor vehicle or boat. The Republican-controlled House and Senate have tentatively scheduled the bill for passage today. As currently written, the bills would phase out the tax over 10 years with the taxable amount of the trade-in falling by 10 percent a year until the value of the trade-in no longer was subject to the sales or use tax in 2022.
KBIC Holds Election - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Voters in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment today. If passed, the amendment would eliminate the need to have future amendments approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary would still need to approve this amendment. Jinny Gillett from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office in Sault Sainte Marie says that some Tribal Constitutions include the clause requiring Secretarial approval… others do not. She adds that some tribes in other parts of the country who had the clause have dropped it… but the KBIC is the first in Michigan to broach the subject. An article published in the September KBIC Tribal Newsletter said the change is being proposed to streamline the amendment process… and to protect against potential court actions that could threaten Tribal sovereignty. Voting will be open until 7:00 this evening at the Ojibwa Senior Center in Baraga for voters who registered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs by September 30th.
Keweenaw County Man to Stand Trial - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A Keweenaw County man is headed to trial on charges related to a marijuana bust at his home. 63-year-old Thomas Ornelas of Eagle Harbor Township appeared in Keweenaw County Circuit Court yesterday. He pleaded “not guilty” to a firearms charge, and charges of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance, and maintaining a drug house. Police searched his home in August and said they found about 15 pounds of marijuana, more than thirty plans, and growing equipment. A pretrial hearing is set for December, and a trial is scheduled for January.
Modified Eagle Mine Road Plan Introduced - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The Marquette County Road Commission rolled out a modified plan for improvements on County Roads 510 and AAA last night. The roads are being upgraded to accommodate truck traffic in and out of the Eagle Mine. Residents had objected to the first plan… which would have widened and straightened the right-of-way… sometimes using eminent domain to take the property needed. Road Commission engineer Jim Iwanicki said those complaints were noted… The new plan uses much of the existing alignment and right-of-way… and will push the tree line on 510 back no more than 10 feet. Property owner Dennis Boe called it “progress”… Boe hopes the county and state officials will study the speed limit issue. A meeting will be scheduled soon with all the property owners along the route to discuss the new plan further. The project is being paid for by Lundin Mining… which owns the Eagle Mine.
Property Deed Scam Reported - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Another day… another scam. Property owners in Delta County have been receiving mail from a company in Washington, D-C. The “Deed Processing Notices” offer to provide a copy of the “Grant Deed” to your property for an 83-dollar fee. Don’t pay it. You can get a copy of your deed from your county Register of Deeds office anytime for a nominal copying charge.
MTU Student Helps Create Lab Diamonds - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
A Michigan Tech graduate student is part of a research team that has discovered how to make diamonds in a lab. These diamonds won’t be turned into jewelry, though. They’re incredibly small. They’re called nanodiamonds… and you’d need to line up more than 25 million of them to measure an inch. So… what’s the point? Diamonds are excellent semi-conductors… and these nanodiamonds could be used in all sorts of electronic equipment. The research was done at Case Western Reserve University under the direction of Mohan Sankaran. MTU grad student Boyi Hao was a team member.
Gasoline Prices Rise - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Gasoline prices rose four-and-a-half cents per gallon across the state last week. Triple-A Michigan says that… for a change… Marquette was among the lowest-priced markets… with a gallon of unleaded regular averaging just under $3.41 per gallon. That’s four cents less than the statewide average… and 12 cents below the Jackson area.
MEA Charged with Right to Work Violations - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Eight teachers are charging that the Michigan Education Association won’t let them stop paying dues under Michigan’s Right to Work law. The complaints were submitted yesterday on their behalf by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Five involve the teachers’ union in Saginaw. Petoskey, Coopersville and Clarkston are named in the other three. M-E-A President Steve Cook recently said that more than 99 percent of the union’s membership had elected to remain in the union.
Snyder to Dissolve NERD Fund - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Governor Snyder is dissolving his controversial “NERD” fund. The New Energy to Reinvest and Diversify fund was set up after he was elected. The stated goal was to lessen the financial burdens of government… while accepting anonymous contributions. It has been criticised recently for covering the salary of one of Snyder’s top advisors… and paying some of the living expenses of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Snyder says he’ll establish a new fund that’s more transparent.
Poll Shows Little Support for Abortion Coverage Ban - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Most Michigan voters oppose an effort to require that women purchase insurance riders for non-emergency abortion coverage. Right to Life of Michigan filed more than 300,000 signatures with the Secretary of State earlier this month to exclude elective abortion coverage from basic health plans. A survey by Marketing Resource Group and Mitchell Research and Communications found that just 36 percent of registered voters support that idea. 53 percent oppose it. The phone survey of 600 potential voters was taken October 6-10. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. If enough petition signatures are verified, the proposal would go to the Legislature. Lawmakers could approve it… or put it to a statewide vote.
Discussion About Calley’s Future Continues - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
The future of Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley continues to be discussed in Lansing… Governor Rick Snyder supports Calley. At the Republican Leadership Conference last month, a straw poll of those attending showed 86 percent supported Calley… with just 14 percent preferring Tea Party challenger Wes Nakagiri.
Beer “Pints” Already Protected - October 22, 2013 – Todd VanDyke
Remember that story a couple of weeks ago… about the state lawmaker who was proposing a law to make sure that pints of beer served in glasses at bars were really pints? Turns out… we already have that law. Michigan’s Weights and Measures Act defines a pint as 16 fluid ounces. Some bars serve what are sometimes called “cheater’s pints”… a glass that looks like it holds 16 ounces… but has a thick glass bottom that cuts the volume to 12 or 13 ounces. If you think your bartender is serving you less than a full pint… you can file a complaint with the consumer protection section of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.