The Keweenaw Report airs each weekday morning, noon and afternoon on 97.7 the Wolf, KBear 102.3, and AM 1400, WCCY.
Pigs-N-Heat Hockey Game - March 7, 2014
Local law enforcement officers face against first responders tonight at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena for the annual Pigs-N-Heat Hockey game. The game is a way to raise money for the Pigs-N-Heat fund that is used to assist families in need and Houghton PD Lieutenant Nick Roberts says it’s been used a lot already this year.
Tickets are $3.00 each, or two for $5.00, and are available from any law enforcement officer or first responder in Houghton or Keweenaw County, or at the Houghton Police Station during business hours.
Hancock Winter Tori - March 7, 2014
Tomorrow the Hancock Tori will take place at the First United Methodist Church on Quincy Street. Jeanie Medlin, one of the organizers of the Tori says there will be lots of great things to eat.
The Tori will also feature local arts and crafts. Sandy Soring says they are expecting a good turnout.
The event will take place from 10am-2pm and will also have information on how to get involved in the Summer Tori as well.
Prohibiting E-Cigs to Minors - March 7, 2014
The Michigan Senate has approved and sent to the House bills that prohibit the selling of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 18 in Michigan. Sponsors say the idea is to protect young people, since e-cigarettes deliver nicotine. Governor Rick Snyder and certain health advocacy groups oppose the bills, since they are not in line with standard tobacco regulations, such as taxation. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine through vapor instead of smoke. However, according to health officialsm, health risks of E-Cigarettes are not clear.
Getting Rid of the “R-Word” - March 7, 2014
Governor Snyder has legislation before him to remove all instances of of the words “retardation” and “retarded” from state laws. The House and Senate passed on Wednesday respective bills that would replace the words with “developmental disability” or “intellectually disabled.” The bills passed unanimously in both chambers. Republican Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge called the words “archaic” and compared them to using racial slurs. Democratic Representative Tom Cochran of Mason said replacing dated, offensive terms with language that is inclusive and respectful sends a strong message that we welcome people of all backgrounds in Michigan.
Two Teachers Leave MEA - March 7, 2014
Two Michigan teachers who attempted to leave the Michigan Education Association under the state’s new right-to-work law have succeeded, according to free-market think-tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Detroit News reports Miriam Chanski, a kindergarten teacher in Coopersville Area Public Schools, and Ray Arthur, a teacher in the Petoskey school district, filed unfair labor practice complaints in October against the MEA with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, charging they were intimidated for trying to exercise their rights under the right-to-work law. Chanski had indicated that she wanted to resign from the MEA in July and Arthur said he wanted out in September. But according to Patrick Wright of the Mackinac Center, the MEA said that members can resign only during August.
Snowmobiles on Display - March 6, 2014
Those who completed the Endurance Run as part of the SAE Snowmobile Challenge had the opportunity to showcase their snowmobile yesterday at the Copper Country Mall. Companies from all over the country came to see their work and speak to the students about the possibility of future employment. Christa Zimmerman, a recruiter from the Maclean-Fogg company, says she enjoys listening to the students about their designs.
Some students were unconventional with their ideas like Sherwood McKinnis from North Dakota State University who is one of two teams using diesel feul and based on their first-place finish in terms of fuel mileage, he is very happy with the results so far.
Michigan Tech had a less than stellar performace in the Endurance Run but Cody Fackender still remains optimistic.
The competition will commence on Saturday with courses that test things like acceleration and handling.
Registration for Great Bear Chase - March 6, 2014
Tomorrow is the last day to register for the Great Bear Chase Ski Marathon in Calumet Saturday morning. Last-minute registration will be tomorrow from 2:30 pm to 8. There is no registration on the day of the race. There is a course for all different varying difficulties from the 10km freestyle all the way to the 50km classic. For more information on how to register and a full list of details, click here.
MI Unemployment Falls Slightly - March 6, 2014
Michigan’s unemployment rate in January fell by a half percentage point to 7.8 percent, the lowest unemployment rate in the state since May 2008. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, total employment rose by 32,000 over the month and the number of jobless declined by 20,000. The state’s labor force increased by 11,000 in January. The Michigan jobless rate in January was one and one-tenth percentage points below the state’s January 2013 rate of 8.9 percent. The state’s unemployment rate in January was one and two-tenths percentage points above the national rate of 6.6 percent.
Men Involved in Cougar Slaying Charged - March 6, 2014
Three men from Bay and Saginaw counties have been charged in the slaying of a cougar. 42-year-old Troy Richard of Bay City, 68-year-old Theodore Richard of Munger and 43-year-old Todd Richard of Burt were arraigned yesterday in Schoolcraft County District Court. Richard pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanors in exchange for the dismissal of felony charges. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay fines and restitution and also to complete community service. Theodore Richard, pleaded guilty to on one count of taking or possessing an endangered species and he is paying fines and must perform community service as well. Todd Richard pleaded not guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit that crime. A pretrial hearing has yet to be set. The charges stem from the killing of a cougar in mid-December on a hunting property in northeast Schoolcraft County. It was the first slaying of a cougar in Michigan in more than a century.
Snyder Signs Juvenile Lifers Law - March 6, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law legislation bringing Michigan into at least partial compliance with the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring automatic sentences of life in prison without possibility of parole for juveniles. The nation’s highest court ruled such sentences violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Under the bills, prosecutors can request that a judge sentence a juvenile defendant to life in prison without parole. If the prosecutor does not do so, then the judge can issue a sentence of between 25-60 years in prison.
Great Lakes Water Levels Up - March 6, 2014
A new report from the U-S Army Corps of Engineers says Great Lakes water levels came back up last year, after being down for several years. The report says Lake Superior rose by nearly two feet. Lakes Michigan and Huron rose 15 inches during 2013, after they were at their lowest level ever recorded. According to The Detroit News, levels of lakes Michigan and Huron came back up enough to make up all the lost ground from the historic dry conditions of 2012. Lake Ontario water levels rose 10 inches, and since last July, Lake Erie’s levels remained within two inches of long-term average.
More MI Drivers Text and Drive - March 6, 2014
A Wisconsin man is recovering from injuries he sustained during a snowmobile accident in Houghton County Tuesday afternoon.
The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department responded to the crash around 4:00 p.m. on Trail #3, a quarter-mile south of Painesdale. Police say the driver was traveling northbound on the trail with a group of other riders when he lost control of his snowmobile and struck a tree. The Wisconsin resident was treated at the scene by Adams Township First Responders and Mercy Ambulance medics. He was then transferred to Portage Health for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
WI Man Injured in Snowmobile Accident - March 5, 2014
A Wisconsin man is recovering from injuries he sustained during a snowmobile accident in Houghton County Tuesday afternoon.
The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department responded to the crash around 4:00 p.m. on Trail #3, a quarter-mile south of Painesdale. Police say the driver was traveling northbound on the trail with a group of other riders when he lost control of his snowmobile and struck a tree. The Wisconsin resident was treated at the scene by Adams Township First Responders and Mercy Ambulance medics. He was then transferred to Portage Health for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
Ishpeming Kidnap Case Reaches Verdict - March 5, 2014
Both of the Ishpeming men on trial for kidnapping and torturing two women have been convicted. Yesterday, 44-year-old Jason Sadowski was found guilty on seven of the eight charges he was facing which include solicitation of murder, two counts of torture, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of assault by strangulation. He was acquitted of a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. 66-year-old Charles Cope was convicted of all four counts against him, which were two counts of torture and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. Their jury returned with the verdict shortly before 9:30 last night after more than eight hours of deliberation. Sadowski and Cope were accused of kidnapping two women and duct-taping them to support posts in the basement of Sadowski’s mixed martial arts gym in Ishpeming last summer. There’s no word yet about a sentencing date but both men are looking at facing life in prison.
New Health Center in Calumet - March 5, 2014
A new health center is opening its doors in Calumet. The Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center, which has been opening offices across the Copper Country, is now accepting new patients for the Calumet Family Health Center located in the Mine Street Station. UGLF Health Center CEO Don Simila says the goal is to expand access to primary care services to low-income families in Houghton County. The Calumet Family Health Center is a full-service clinic that will see all patients, regardless of ability to pay. The health center is being operated in partnership with Portage Health, which is leasing staff to the UGLF Health Center.
Local Pharmacist Recognized - March 5, 2014
A local pharmacist is being recognized for her work at Aspirus Keweenaw. Pharmacy Director Jessica Bessner attended the 2014 Michigan Pharmacist Association Annual Convention and Exposition in Detroit over the weekend and received the Distinguished New Pharmacist Practicioner Award. The award is presented to someone who has been practicing for less than ten years and is involved in many different pharmacy associations from the local and national level. Bessner says she is thankful to be working for Aspirus Keweenaw as they provide her and her staff with opportunities to grow. Bessner has been the pharmacy director at the hospital since 2011.
Reimbursement for Local Communities - March 5, 2014
A ten-bill package to ensure that local governments are not hurt by a cut in the personal property tax on business, is on the fast track in Lansing. The tax has, for years, provided essential revenue to many local communities, but the recently approved phase-out has endangered that funding. A ten-bill package approved by the Michigan Senate yesterday would guarantee 100 percent reimbursement to the affected local communities. The tax cuts, which are actually underway for small businesses, will come to a halt however, if a ballot proposal to continue the cuts is not approved by voters in August. The ten-bill revenue sharing legislation now goes to the Michigan House for consideration.
Supplemental Budget Bill - March 5, 2014
The state House has approved a supplemental budget bill that includes $215 million for road funding, $100 million of which would go toward winter road maintenance. The House voted yesterday to pass its version of the Senate bill that scales back on spending approved by the upper-chamber. Among other changes, the House removed $114 million the Senate had set aside for the Health Insurance Claims Assessment shortfall. Also gone from the House version was $2 million for the Regional Transit Authority. The Senate is unlikely to sign off on the changes and the bill is expected to go to a conference committee where the respective chambers will hash out the points of difference.
Medical Marijuana Renters - March 5, 2014
The State Senate has approved legislation that would require medical marijuana patients that rent their home to receive permission of the property owner to grow or smoke marijuana on the property. Senate Republican Rick Jones of Grand Ledge says the reasoning behind his bill is because when you grow marijuana, it puts moisture into the walls and sometimes destroys the property. Jones also says if the smoke is traveling throughout the apartments, it can bother the other residents.
The bill now heads to the House for consideration.
Barware with Logos Now Allowed - March 5, 2014
Restrictions on the use of “logoed” barware at Michigan pubs and restaurants are eased, under a measure approved by a Michigan House Committee on Tuesday. For many years, Michigan bars and restaurants were prohibited from serving with items that have brewer and distiller logos. The bill, which now goes to the full house, allows them to have logoed glasses, napkin holders, patio umbrellas, pitchers, stir rods and hats.
Bar owners say the measure eases an unreasonable restriction.
E-Cig Use Up Among Teens - March 5, 2014
A federal study found e-cigarette experimentation more than doubled among middle and high school students between 2011 and 2012 – meaning nearly two million young people have tried them. E-cigarettes are not regulated like traditional tobacco, and the state legislature is considering whether or not these should be exempt from existing tobacco legislation. Doctor Matthew Davis, with the Michigan Department of Community Health says, there just isn’t enough information on the safety of e-cigarettes to leave them unregulated. He says e-cigarettes are clearly derived from tobacco in order to get the nicotine and along with that nicotine comes other compounds, some of which are known to cause cancer.
Clean Snowmobile Challenge This Week - March 4, 2014
In today’s society, people try to make their lifestyles as eco-friendly as possible. And in the Copper Country, snowmobiles are everywhere. Combine the two and you get the 2014 Clean Snowmobile Challenge being held all this week at the Keweenaw Research Center. Originating from Yellowstone National Park, the competition features some of the brightest college students building eco-friendly engines and Event Coordinator Jay Meldrum says the goal was simple.
Noise and cleanliness are two of the categories that are being judged to improve the snowmobile engines. For more information on how you can see these projects, click here.
DNR Increases License Fees - March 4, 2014
Beginning this week, hunting and fishing licenses will cost you more this year in Michigan, as the Department of Natural Resources is raising those fees for the first time in 17 years. The prices of deer licenses are going up from $15 to $31, while fishing licenses now cost $26, up from $15. All fishing licenses will be good for all species. The all-species fishing, base hunting and hunt/fish combo licenses will include a new $1 surcharge. Non-Michigan residents will bear the brunt of the increases, with their licenses now at $170 each. Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh says this new structure keeps Michigan’s license costs competitive with other Great Lakes states. The state expects to raise 20 million dollars in revenue through the changes.
State Parks Helping Economy - March 4, 2014
A new report from the National Park Service says there were over 2.19 million visitors to national parks in Michigan, and they spent just under 182 million dollars during 2012. Also, the spending supported more than 2800 jobs in the state. Michael Reynolds of the NPS says the national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning ten dollars for every one dollar invested and also supports local communities.
According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, hotels and other amusement and recreation.
Record Ice Cover for Great Lakes - March 4, 2014
Michigan’s memorable winter is about to set another record. Currently, more than 90.5% of the Great Lakes are ice-covered. That’s the most ice cover in 34 years. In 1979, there was 94.7% ice cover, the largest ever recorded by scientists. Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, told the Detroit Free Press that this year it will pass that, because there will be at least another 5% of ice cover in the next few days. The bitterly cold air that has gripped the region this winter is the driving force behind the record. Wang also points to Lake Ontario which generally doesn’t freeze but is now nearing 50% ice cover.
Ironwood Suicide Attempts Leads to Evacuation - March 4, 2014
An Ironwood neighborhood was evacuated Saturday after a man drank antifreeze and tried to burn his home down. Ironwood Public Safety says the suicidal man had a fight with his live-in girlfriend, drank antifreeze, dumped gasoline throughout his home, and then barricaded himself inside an upstairs bedroom. A SWAT team was called in and eventually went into the barricaded room and took the 30-year-old man out of the home. The man was listed in critical condition at a local hospital. The girlfriend and an infant were found safe at another home. Nearby residents were evacuated to a restaurant because of the possibility of a fire. The whole ordeal lasted about three hours. Numerous police and fire agencies responded to the incident.
Juvenile Lifers Case - March 4, 2014
The Michigan Supreme Court Thursday will hear oral arguments on the question of whether persons already sentenced to life in prison as juveniles can be offered a chance at parole. The case People v. Carp will consider whether the U.S. Supreme Court 2012 decision can be applied retroactively. In the Carp case, all three defendants were juveniles when they were convicted either of murder or participating in a murder. They were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles. But in 2012 the U-S Supreme Court ruled that mandated life imprisonment without the chance of parole was unconstitutional. That led to the current question of whether or not the ruling applied to future sentences, or previous ones as well.
Auto Sales Improving - March 4, 2014
February car and truck sales for Detroit’s automakers are showing significant improvement from January, but aren’t yet completely out of the deep freeze. General Motor’s 1 percent sales drop was a better performance than analysts expected. Chrysler, meanwhile, posted an 11 percent sales gain, its 47th-consecutive month of year-over-years sales growth with the Jeep brand leading the way. Ford sales dropped six percent but saw a resurgence of its Lincoln brand. While there is some sign of improvement, analysts say the weather is definitely still having an impact. Many analysts feel the spring could bring some of the best post-recession sales numbers, but, we aren’t there yet.
Gas Prices Are Up - March 4, 2014
The average price for a gallon of gas is up this week in Michigan, compared to last week. AAA Michigan reports that motorists are finding the average price increased by 9.8 cents per gallon. The statewide average is now $3.69 per gallon. While it’s more than last week, it’s still 15 cents per gallon less than last year at this time. The highest average among the markets surveyed, was found in the Saginaw area at $3.73 per gallon. The lowest was in Marquette, at $3.62 per gallon.
CopperDog 150 Recap - March 3, 2014
This weekend wrapped up the CopperDog 150 race and despite the temperatures dipping below zero, a great crowd showed up the entire weekend. The winner of this year’s race was Jake Golton from L’Amable, Ontario, Canada with a time of 3 hours and just under 26 minutes. Golton says the conditions were great for the mushers.
Michigan Democratic Representative Scott Dianda was in town for the opening ceremonies as well as House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel. For a full list of standings for the CopperDog 150 race, head to their website.
MI Lawmakers Request Emergency for Freezing Pipes - March 3, 2014
With dozens of communities across the U.P. requiring residents to run their water to prevent pipes from freezing, local lawmakers are speaking up to the governor about the issue. State Representative John Kivela presented a bipartisan letter to Gov. Rick Snyder requesting that he declare a state of emergency for frozen water lines. With historic cold temperatures, many communities are struggling to maintain necessary services despite the utilization of mandated “let water run” orders. Michigan Democratic House leader Tim Greimel says discussions on the freezing pipes issue have been ongoing. Recently, Marquette County requested a local state of emergency declaration from the state Emergency Response System and was denied. Kivela says he is working with legislators to make sure residents throughout the state see relief in the near future.
New Licenses at DNR - March 3, 2014
Fans of outdoor activities like hunting and fishing will now see some licensing changes. Legislation calling for a new license structure for hunting, fishing, and ORV use went into effect on March 1st. The changes will simplify some aspects of licensing. All fishing licenses will now cover all species, and the distinction between archery and rifle deer licenses will be removed. ORV riders will now have to purchase an ORV trail permit in addition to a license. Hunters will also need a base license, allowing them to hunt small game, in addition to specific species licenses. The Department of Natural Resources said the increased revenue will be used for several improvements to the outdoor experience.
MEAP Test Results - March 3, 2014
The latest report from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program found students in the eighth grade have made great progress in reading, but third graders are still struggling. The MEAP results were released Friday and showed gains in science and writing for students in all grades but math and reading results are mixed across the board. The biggest decline in test scores compared to 2012 was in social studies. Michigan Department of Education officials say the results of the MEAP tests are promising for students with disabilities but found an increase in achievement gaps for black students statewide.
MI Lotto Extends Contract - March 3, 2014
The Michigan Lottery has extended its contract with the GTECH Corporation by two years , which provides products and services to support the Lottery’s draw games, such as Powerball, Mega Millions, Classic Lotto 47, and Club Keno. The Lottery’s current six-year contract with GTECH was scheduled to expire on January 19, 2015 and now will run through January 19, 2017. The contract extension took effect this week after it was approved by the State Administrative Board.
Firearms Records to be Protected - March 3, 2014
The Michigan House will soon consider bills that exempt firearm records from the Freedom of Information Act. The bills also set up a method for law enforcement to obtain the records if it’s needed for investigation purposes, although the bill says they would have to detail “reasonable suspicion” before they could gain access. The National Rifle Association is the main interest-group backer of the bills, saying in other states such information has been published with the intent of ostracizing gun owners. They also say publishing the material advertises to thieves that valuable guns may be in their homes. Proposed amendments by Democrats to require background checks before a firearm is purchased, were rejected by majority Republicans.
Study on Marriage and Heart Disease - March 3, 2014
A new federally funded study will look at the relationship between the stress of marriage, and heart disease. Michigan State University researchers will be leading a study on how biology and social factors interact with marriage to affect cardiovascular health. They say the findings will have important implications for health policy and practice. The study will focus on people aged 50 and older based on two nationwide datasets from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project and the Health and Retirement Study.
CopperDog 150 Tonight - February 28, 2014
The big race is finally here. Tonight in Downtown Calumet will be the site of the start of the CopperDog 150 dog sled race. Mushers from across the country will be in attendance to try and conquer the 150-mile, 3-day race with their 10-dog teams. Tom Bauer, who has been mushing for over 20 years says one of the great things about the race is that it is a staged race.
The trail will take mushers from Calumet to Eagle Harbor, then from Eagle Harbor to Copper Harbor, then from Copper Harbor back to Calumet Sunday afternoon. Bauer adds that this year might be more challenging due to the weather conditions.
A quick reminder to all volunteers that all start times for Saturday have been moved back one hour so make adjustments where needed. Opening ceremonies will begin in Downtown Calumet at 6:30pm and the race will start at 7. For a detailed scheduled of the events going on all weekend, head to the CopperDog 150 website.
Roll-over Victim Identified - February 28, 2014
The driver in yesterday’s fatal rollover accident has been identified. 68-year-old Micheal Nutini from Calumet died after his vehicle flipped over on M-203 near Christiansen Road in Hancock Township. Police say Nutini was travelling southbound when he veered over the centerline and struck a snowbank. The vehicle then hit a mailbox and rolled over onto its roof. When police arrived on the scene, they discovered the driver was deceased. Speed and alcohol are not believed to be a factor.
Scalping Bill Approved - February 28, 2014
It would be legal to re-sell game or concert tickets above face value, under a measure approved by the Michigan House on Thursday. Current law prohibits selling above face value without the written consent of the event operator and the venue operator. The measure, which now goes to the senate, repeals that 1931 law, and opens the door to what many critics call “scalping.” There is no federal law against selling above face value. Free market groups support the bill. Supporters of the current law have also said that it protects consumers by prohibiting exorbitant prices for tickets that were originally bought up in huge blocks by scalpers.
New Budget Proposal for Schools - February 28, 2014
Superintendents, school leaders, parents and other public school advocates across Michigan have unveiled the “Classrooms and Kids” budget proposal that places an emphasis on putting resources into the classroom. Backers say the proposal provides $250-$291 per pupil by eliminating $186 million in line-item spending that benefits a limited number of students. The “Classrooms and Kids” budget restores funds to schools using only existing resources and without raising taxes. More than a dozen educational organizations jointly called on the legislature to adopt the alternative budget. The “Classrooms and Kids” budget also has the support of teachers, school staff and parents.
Investigation into GM Recall - February 28, 2014
General Motors will cooperate with federal investigators looking into whether the automaker recalled over one-point-six-million vehicles with faulty ignition switches in a timely manner. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Wednesday they will conduct their own investigation into the matter. A statement issued by GM says the automaker welcomes the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts. A report in the Detroit News indicated GM has hired an outside law firm to review how the company dealt with the problem starting in 2005. There have been 13 deaths linked to the problem. Heavy key chains can move the ignition switch and turn the engines off. The recall involves the Chevy Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models made between the years of 2003 and 2007.
Graudation Rates Up - February 28, 2014
There’s a bit of good news today regarding graduation rates for high schoolers. The Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information reports that graduation rates increased by seven-tenths of a percentage point in 2013, compared to 2012. Overall, the graduation rate in 2013 was 76.96 %. In addition, the dropout rate was down .17%, to 10.54%.
Reform Initiative at the DHS - February 28, 2014
The Michigan Department of Human Services has announced a reform initiative that it says will positively impact child welfare services across the state, specifically foster care and adoption services. The fundamental change will ensure that just one agency provider will manage the case for a child from beginning to end, with oversight, and be held accountable for the outcome of that child’s case. The current system is based on a daily rate of reimbursement by the state and counties to private charitable organizations for children in care. It’s a rate preset regardless of the specific and unique needs of the child and is based on the number of days in care. Governor Snyder says under the new system, the funding level for each child is based on the desired outcome and the unique circumstances involved with getting to that successfully. DHS director Maura Corrigan calls the reform historic and most welcome.
Law Against Unlicensed Dogs Repealed - February 28, 2014
Michigan lawmakers voted to repeal a state law requiring county sheriff’s to “locate and kill” unlicensed dogs. The state Senate voted yesterday to approve legislation that eliminates the requirement that sheriffs kill unlicensed dogs and that county treasurers deliver a list of unlicensed dogs to the director of the state agriculture agency. The House passed the same measure last May. Critics say the 94-year old law is antiquated and currently not enforced. The bill now heads to Governor Rick Snyder for his signiture.
Houghton City Council Recap - February 27, 2014
Lots of business getting done at the Houghton City Council meeting last night. A public hearing for the DNR Trust Fund Grant Application regarding a piece of property on 7th Avenue near Franklin Road was scheduled for March 12th and City Manager Eric Waara says plans are already in place on how to use the land.
Nothing out of the ordinary on the Transit Budget proposed for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Also, the council approved a proposal to increase the funds provided to the UPSET policing organization, which Waara says is a good move for both parties.
UPSET typically received $2000 but now that amount would increase to $3000, with the extra funds coming out of the city’s TV franchise fund.
First-Ever Doghouse Race - February 27, 2014
The CopperDog 150 will kick-off tomorrow and go on throughout the weekend, but it isn’t the only thing going. Downtown Calumet will be full of events and activities on Saturday including the first-ever Doghouse race. To participate in the Doghouse Race, you must construct a doghouse following the Doghouse Race rules, which Race Organizer Heather Mikkola says are very open.
Each team must consist of one person riding in the doghouse with up to eight people pulling the doghouse. Also, cash prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. Registration for the race begins at 11am Saturday. For a complete list of rules and details, head to the CopperDog 150 website.
Year-Round School Pilot Program In Place - February 27, 2014
A Michigan House committee has approved a measure to make it easier for at-risk school districts to offer year-round classes. Year round classes have been allowed in Michigan for years, but this pilot program would create a ten-million dollar fund for poor districts to tap into, for air conditioning and other retro-fitting to make buildings comfortable for students in the summertime. House Democrat Andy Schor of Lansing says often, teachers have to spend a month or more in the fall to refresh memories or re-teach students, but if the 175-day school calender was spread out throughout the whole year, it will make learning easier. He says it’s especially important for poor, low risk districts, where families can’t afford summer programs for their children. The bill now goes to the full house.
State Revenue Reimbursement Bill - February 27, 2014
A State Senate committee in Lansing has approved legislation that changes the way local governments are reimbursed for revenue they’ll lose becuase of a phase-out of the state’s personal property tax on business. The bills were approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee on a 7-to-nothing vote. They now go to the full Senate. The bills make sure local governments get back 100 percent of what they lose in local revenue as a result of the phase-out of the P-P-T. When the phase-out was approved last year, it guaranteed only 80 percent reimbursement, much to the dismay of local governments. The extra 20 percent will be funded by use-tax revenue that now goes to the general fund.
Housing Assistance Available - February 27, 2014
More than 1 million Michigan homeowners could qualify for down payment assistance of up to $7,500 toward the purchase of a new or existing home through a new program launched by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley says the MI Next Home program targets existing homebuyers statewide who are looking to make their next move. Assistance is based on income limits that vary by county but generally range from $70,000-plus for a household of one or two people to just under $100,000 for households of three or more. They will be eligible to receive up to $7,500 in down payment assistance. The program expands MSHDA’s popular MI First Home program for first-time buyers to include repeat purchasers of new or existing single-family homes.
Road Spending to Increase - February 27, 2014
The proposal in Lansing to immediately spend 100 million dollars extra for winter road maintenance for local governments has been increased, at the expense of some Medicaid-related dollars. The Republican controlled House Appropriations Committee has changed language in the bill, and has increased the spending to 215 million dollars. In addition, the move eliminates spending designed to cover the shortfall from the Health Insurance Claims Assessment, over objections from minority Democrats. The HICA is used to help support Medicaid in Michigan.
Retail Sales Take a Hit Due to Weather - February 27, 2014
Cautious consumers and lingering bitter cold and snow are being blamed for a significant decline in retail sales in Michigan last month, and seriously dampening expectations for the entire year ahead, based on new survey results from the Michigan Retailers Association. According to the M-R-A’s January “Michigan Retail Index,” 46% of retailers polled last month experienced lower sales, compared to 30% with increases over the same month last year. The January numbers follow a poor holiday shopping season, and created a seasonally adjusted performance index of 42.5, down from 50.5 in December. A year ago in January the index was at 57.9.
Dollar Bay-Tamarack Millage Approved - February 26, 2014
All the votes are in and the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City School District has approved the 10-year renewal of the district’s base operating millage that would bring $18 million to the district. According to the Houghton County Clerk, 70 voted “yes” and 22 voted “no”. If the millage had not been approved, state funding for the district would have been at risk.
Isle Royale Wolf Dies - February 26, 2014
Michigan Tech biologist Rolf Peterson says one of the few remaining gray wolves of Isle Royale National Park has been found dead after escaping to the mainland across a Lake Superior ice bridge. Peterson announced yesterday that the 5-year-old female’s body was discovered earlier this month along the shoreline on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation in northeastern Minnesota. Her loss was a blow to an already struggling wolf population at Isle Royale, which has fallen sharply in recent years. Only eight remained in 2013, down from 24 just five years earlier. The population last year was the smallest since scientists began observing the island’s wolves in the 1950s.
CopperDog 150 Still Needs Help - February 26, 2014
The CopperDog 150 is this Friday night and there are a couple more volunteers positions that they need to be filled. Crossings for Friday night that need to be filled are at Big Traverse Road and Gas Plant Road. For Sunday morning, they need volunteers at Gratiot Lake Road and Cliff Drive near Phoenix. Also, Volunteer Coordinator Brian Donnely says they need a lot of help with setting up the snow fence.
To sign up, head to the CopperDog 150 website and create a user profile or contact Brian Donnely.
Ontonagon Accident Turns Fatal - February 26, 2014
A Greenland Township accident that took place ten days ago has turned fatal. 42-year-old Daniel Laurich of Ontonagon passed away Friday. He had been on life support for six days at Aspirus Wasau Hospital in Wisconsin. Laurich failed to stop at the intersection of M-38 and M-26 in Ontonagon County on the night February 15th before running his vehicle into a snowbank. A preliminary report from the Michigan State Police suggests that the vehicle’s breaks were not affective and had rusted through before becoming disconnected.
U.P. Olympian to Speak at Finlandia - February 26, 2014
With the U.S. Olympics in Sochi all wrapped up, a U.P. native is returning home. Nick Baumgartner, originally from Iron River, will be speaking tonight at the Paavo Nurmi Gym of Finlandia University on his recent Olympic experience as well as his experience at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the X-Games. The event begins at 7pm and is open to people of all ages. There will also be time for questions and answers, as well as autographs and pictures with Baumgartner.
Debbie Dingell to Run for Husband’s Seat - February 26, 2014
Debbie Dingell is non-committal but a Democratic party official says she will seek the U.S. House seat currently held by her husband, who on Monday announced plans to retire. She is one of Michigan’s longtime representatives on the Democratic National Committee and a former president of the General Motors Foundation. The 60-year-old Dingell is expected to make a formal announcement about her run on Friday.
Huge GM Recall - February 26, 2014
General Motors is expanding its recall of compact cars due to an ignition problem that is being connected to 13 deaths. The recall now affects nearly one-point-four million vehicles. In addition to nearly 800,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5 cars that were recalled earlier this month, GM is also recalling Saturn Ions, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Sky models made between the years of 2003 and 2007. The recall stems from an ignition problem that can cause the vehicles to switch out of the “Run” position. When that happens the engine shuts off, which makes the power brakes, power steering and airbags non-operational.
Casino Proposal on Hold - February 25, 2014
A proposed tribal casino in Lansing is on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a case involving a Northern Michigan casino. The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a temporary ban on efforts by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to push the project forward. The Bay Mills Case currently before the Supreme Court could allow tribes to locate casinos pretty much anywhere in the state… if it’s decided in the tribe’s favor. That could open the door for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s proposed Negaunee casino… which has been blocked by Governor Rick Snyder.
Plea Deal Taken on Drug Charge - February 25, 2014
An Iron County woman has taken a plea deal on a drug charge. 37-year-old Tammy Leopard pleaded guilty yesterday to one felony count of attempted delivery of a Schedule Four substance. Leopard was arrested by the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team in December. She will be sentenced March 31st.
Ishpeming Abduction Trial Begins - February 25, 2014
Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of two Ishpeming men accused of kidnapping two women last summer, and holding them prisoner. Prosecutors say Jason Sadowski and Charles Cope imprisoned the women in the basement of Sadowski’s martial arts studio, The Martial Way. One of the two alleged victims has since died. Sadowski and Cope are both accused of two counts of torture and two counts of unlawful imprisonment. Sadowski is also charged with two counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and one count each of solicitation of murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Both men have ‘habitual offender — fourth offense’ status attached. They could face life in prison if convicted.
WI Man Faces B&E in Ontonagon - February 25, 2014
A Wisconsin man faces arraignment today on charges that he tried to break into the Ontonagon County Courthouse. Deputies arrested the 34-year-old man from Elroy early Saturday morning. They say the courthouse was not damaged. The suspect was released on bond.
Fatal Hancock House Fire - February 25, 2014
Police continue their investigation into an incident Friday evening that resulted in the death of a Hancock man. Officers were called to a home on Summit Street. A woman told them her 50-year-old boyfriend was acting erratically… had assaulted her… that she had taken a gun away from him… and that he had more weapons in the house. Officers from the Hancock and Houghton Police Departments entered the home… and found the man on the floor of the basement, where he had started a fire. Police removed him from the home. He later died at Portage Health. The woman was treated for injuries and released. The Hancock Fire Department put out the fire. The identity of the man has not been released.
Snow Dumping Reminders - February 25, 2014
Houghton city officials are reminding residents not to dump snow from their driveways into city streets or rights-of-way. It’s against the law… makes snow removal tougher and more dangerous for city crews… and could bring you a $50.00 fine. Houghton Police Lieutenant Nick Roberts admits we’re all frustrated by this tough winter… but says public safety remains the first priority. If you’ve run out of room on your property to put your snow, it’s your responsibility to hire a contractor to scoop it up, and haul it away.
Illinois Man Injured in Snowmobile Accident - February 25, 2014
An Illinois man was hurt in a snowmobile accident in Houghton County yesterday morning. Houghton County Sheriff’s deputies say 47-year-old Daniel A. Schmidt was traveling south on the North Freda Trail in Adams Township around 11:00 when he hit a snow drift. His snowmobile flipped into the air, and crashed into a tree. Schmidt was taken to Portage Health. His condition has not been released.
One Election in Houghton County - February 25, 2014
Voters in the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City School District head to the polls today. They’ll be asked to approve a 10-year renewal of the district’s base operating millage. If the millage is not approved, state funding for the district would be at risk. Voters from Osceola Township Precinct One will vote at the Tamarack City Fire Hall. Voters from Osceola Township Precinct Two and Torch Lake Township vote at the Dollar Bay Fire Hall.
New College At MTU - February 24, 2014
Michigan Tech students have some new programs they can choose from thanks to a new college approved for establishment at MTU’s Board of Control meeting on Friday. The Pavlis Honors College, named after 1938 MTU alumnus Frank E. Pavlis, will feature academic programs like the Enterprise program and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. The Board also approved two new master’s degree programs. One will grant a Master of Science in Kinesiology through the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. The other will award a Master of Science in Accounting from the School of Business and Economics.
Former Copper City President Passes Away - February 24, 2014
Former Copper City Village President Fortunate Curtis, Sr.,has died. Curtis was a teacher in the Copper City, Centennial and Calumet school districts. He passed away Thursday in Port Charlotte, Florida, following a short illness. Funeral services have been set for Friday at the Erickson-Crowley-Peterson Funeral Home. Fortunate Curtis, Sr., was 89 years old. He is survived by his wife, Nathleen.
Poll Shows Support for Renewable Energy - February 24, 2014
A new poll shows strong public support for requiring Michigan’s utilities to generate 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2035. The survey commissioned by advocates of the greater use of renewable energy in the state showed 69 percent in support of such a goal with 23 percent in opposition. 71 percent support requiring utilities to offer more programs that allow consumers to make affordable energy efficiency upgrades to their homes or businesses. 38 percent of those surveyed want the state to dump coal as a source of energy while 30 percent are opposed to nuclear power. 35 percent favor wind and 23 percent lean toward natural gas as the sources of energy in Michigan.
New Look for Sex Offenders Site - February 24, 2014
The Michigan State Police say beginning today, the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry will have a new look. State Police say that while the level of detail and information about offenders will remain the same, the web site will receive a facelift. On the site, users can search by city, zip code, county and offender name. Users can perform a radius search for registered offenders up to two miles from an address. Users can also register to receive an e-mail notification when an offender registers an address within a specified radius of an address. Anyone who previously received notifications via e-mail will need to re-register on the new site to continue to receive notifications.
Same-Sex Law on Trial - February 24, 2014
Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage goes on trial this week. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will begin taking testimony tomorrow before deciding whether Michigan’s gay-marriage ban is constitutional. The case involves two Detroit-area nurses in a lesbian relationship that argue in their lawsuit that the state’s constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse also have challenged the legality of the state’s Adoption Code prohibiting same-sex couples from jointly adopting children. At Judge Friedman’s suggestion, they expanded the case to challenge the state’s gay marriage ban.
Taxing Unemployment Benefits - February 24, 2014
Democrats have introduced legislation in both the House and Senate to exempt those collecting unemployment benefits in Michigan from the state income tax. State Senator Jim Ananich of Flint says the legislation will not only help families survive as they’re looking for work, but putting more money in their pockets will also pump dollars back into local economies. Similar legislation was introduced by Democrats in 2011, but never saw a committee hearing or a vote in either chamber which are controlled by Republicans.
Protection for Domestic Violence Victims - February 24, 2014
Legislation allowing people holding a personal protection order to carry a concealed weapon in gun-free zones is before the State House. Saginaw Township Republican Tim Kelly says the victims of domestic violence and stalking need the extra protection from those who would attempt to harm them. Kelly says the victims, 85 percent of whom are women, already qualify for temporary concealed weapon permits. The extra protection is now available to retired police officers and others with law enforcement backgrounds. The legislation will be scheduled for a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee in Lansing.
KBIC Voting on Financial Proposals Today - February 21, 2014
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community members will decide on two financial proposals today. Tribal Council members are asking for permission to purchase a computerized health records and medical billing system for the Donald LaPointe Health Center… and a system that tracks slot machine use by patrons at the casino. The KBIC Constitution requires voter approval for purchases of more than $10,000. Each of the new systems will exceed that limit. An informational session will begin at 11:00 at the Ojibwa Senior Citizens’ Center. The vote is scheduled for 12:30.
CD150 Training Tomorrow - February 21, 2014
With one week left until the kick-off of the Copper Dog 150, volunteers are still needed for the event. Tomorrow they are holding a volunteer training session at 11am behind Calumet High School. This event is for those who have signed up to volunteer as they will receive hands-on safety training for situations that may arise during the race. This is also an opportunity to sign up to volunteer as well and a list of the jobs still vacant will be available at tomorrow’s session. The CopperDog 150 will begin next Friday and continue through Sunday.
Scholarships for Healthcare Students - February 21, 2014
For students studying healthcare, scholarships are available courtesy of Portage Health. The Portage Hospital Auxiliary is accepting applications for $1,000 scholarships. Students from Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw or Ontonagon county are encouraged to apply. Auxiliary President Barb Worrall says the scholarships are investments in the future of healthcare in the region. This year the auxiliary will award six scholarships, including three made possible by matching funding by Portage Health. The scholarship is funded by money raised during the auxiliary’s annual Lights of Love event in early December. Interested students must have completed one year of higher education before the fall of 2014 and have a GPA of at least 3.0. For more information, head to the Portage Health website.
DNR Arrest Leads to Marijuana Growing Op - February 21, 2014
A routine fishing patrol stop by the Department of Natural Resources resulted in the arrest of a 26-year-old Iron River man. According to the DNR, the officer was patrolling Ice Lake in Iron County, when he came across a group of anglers fishing with too many lines. After talking to the group, he discovered that one person had shot an antlerless deer without a proper license during muzzleloader season. The DNR says they also found drug activity in the suspect’s ice shanty, and at the suspect’s home, where he uncovered an illegal marijuana growing operation and seized 33 marijuana plants. The man was arrested on the fishing violation, and the Iron County Prosecutor’s Office is seeking warrants for the deer and marijuana violations.
Help On the Way for Local Roads - February 21, 2014
The Senate has approved the immediate spending of 100 million dollars for “special winter road maintenance” funds. The vote follows concerns from local road commissions who say they’ve already spent most or all of their winter budgets. Not everyone is ready to back the amount of spending however. Both the Governor and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville were non committal about the amounts. The spending measure also calls for 115 million dollars to prop up a shortfall in the Health Insurance Claims Assessment program. The bill now goes to the House.
Auto Insurance Overhaul - February 21, 2014
House Republicans are proposing an auto insurance overhaul that would cap health care coverage to those injured in catastrophic accidents. The proposal, unveiled yesterday, would cap Michigan’s unlimited personal injury protection coverage at $10 million, but requires at least a 10 percent reduction in auto insurance rates for the next two years. It also would reduce reimbursement rates for auto-related injuries, require more transparency of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, create an insurance fraud authority and adds a $25 charge per policy assessment on bills to fund a Health Insurance Claims Assessment shortfall. House Speaker Jase Bolger says Michigan has some of the most expensive insurance premiums in the country and the goal of the plan is to make insurance more affordable.
Transfer of the MI Child Registry - February 21, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has issued an executive order transferring the Michigan Child Protection Registry from the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to the Department of State. The registry helps shield families from unwanted adult advertising. Snyder says the Department of State will be a good fit for the program, given its broader reach and extensive experience with public safety programs and interacting with parents and students through driver education and driver license functions. The registry was created in 2004 and serves as an email “Do Not Call” list to help protect children and minors from receiving adult-oriented messages.
Tax Revenue Statistics - February 21, 2014
Michigan Tax revenues were up in January compared to the same month in 2013, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. The state raised about $2 billion last month, a 1.3 percent increase from January 2013. However, SFA figures show total collections were $14.9 million below the Revenue Estimating Conference forecast. General Fund revenues were $10 million above the January forecast but School Aid Fund revenues were down by $20.7 million. The remaining $4.3 million went primarily to constitutional revenue sharing. State revenues have brought in $5.36 billion so far this fiscal year, down 1.7 percent from fiscal year 2012-13.
Hancock City Council Meeting Recap - February 20, 2014
It was a very productive meeting for the Hancock City Council last night. Among the proposals approved was a fiber optic easement for Merit Networks Incorporated. The council approved the sewer treatment agreement between Franklin Township and the Portage Lake Water and Sewer Authority in regards to service to the Paavola Area. There was also a $1 per 1000 gallons increase in the sewer rate which City Manager Glenn Anderson says needed to be done.
A public hearing for the increase is scheduled for March 19th. Also the council made a contribution towards the entertainment for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which is making a return after being cancelled last year.
Winter Storm Preparation - February 20, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials are urging residents to be prepared for a variety of severe weather conditions. The Upper Peninsula is expecting blizzard conditions that could drop as much as six inches of snow. The governor was joined by Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle yesterday to discuss the state’s preparations and how residents can prep for the severe weather. Snyder says this is a situation where we want to be precautionary, particularly with respect to flooding challenges. He says MDOT is making an effort to clean storm drains on highways and other areas.
Osceola Man In Court for Growing Marijuana - February 20, 2014
An Osceola Township man arrested on felony drug charges will see minimal jail time and spend three to twelve months on probation. 53 year old Steven Stukel pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in Houghton County District Court. In addition to paying $725 in fines and costs, Stukel will have the option of undergoing 15 days of community service or serving 30 days of jail time. He was arrested in early January after Troopers from the Calumet Post of the Michigan State Police noticed an overwhelming odor of marijuana emanating from a neighboring residence while responding to a snow plow complaint. After receiving Stukel’s permission to search the home, police located more than 20 marijuana plants and over 2,000 grams of usable marijuana.
“Winterkill” Taking Place - February 20, 2014
State officials say the harsh winter weather will likely take its toll on fish and other wildlife. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding residents they may see large amounts of dead fish and other wildlife once the heavy snow and ice melts. It will be very likely in shallow lakes, streams and ponds. The DNR says the “winterkill” is common especially in extreme weather conditions. Officials also say the overall health of wildlife and fishing quality will not be affected.
Petition Approved For Minimum Wage - February 20, 2014
The Board of State Canvassers on Wednesday approved the form of a petition submitted by organizers of the minimum wage ballot drive. The group Raise Michigan wants to gradually raise Michigan’s minimum wage over a several year period from $7.40 an hour to $10.10 an hour by January of 2017. Organizers are expected begin gathering petitions this weekend. They need roughly 258,000 valid signatures by late May in order to place the issue on the November statewide ballot. The proposed law would first go the Republican-led Legislature. It would have 40 days to vote.
Benishek Announces Art Contest - February 20, 2014
Congressman Dan Benishek has announced that he is now accepting applications for his 2014 Northern Michigan Art Contest. High school students from across the U.P. are encouraged to apply. The winning piece of art will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. for one year. All artwork must be two-dimensional and be submitted by April 25th. The winner will be announced in May. For more information, click here.
Child Support Statistics - February 20, 2014
Attorney General Bill Schuette says his Child Support Division’s efforts have secured more than $155 million dollars in support for 12,500 Michigan children since its launch in 2003. The office has averaged approximately 907 warrants and 781 arrests per year. Since 2006, the Division has also returned more than $14.5 million to the State of Michigan to help families in need at a rate of $2 returned for every dollar expended to conduct the Division’s enforcement actions. Schuette said the recovery amounts equal about $23 to Michigan taxpayers for every dollar spent by the Child Support Division. The program, founded by Attorney General Mike Cox in 2003, is the first statewide felony non-support enforcement effort in the United States.
Bowl for Kids Needs Volunteers - February 19, 2014
If you’ve always wanted to help out the local youth in the area but never knew how, here is a great opportunity. Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization that provides mentoring programs for children in our local communities, is holding their annual Bowl for Kids event next month and they need more volunteers. Program Director Maggie Munch says the event is a lot more than just bowling.
She added that currently raising funds has been tough but those who believe in the cause should try help as much as they can.
Bowl for Kids will take place on March 22nd at the Mineshaft and there is no deadline for registering. For more information, contact U.P. Kids or head to their website.
Snow Bank Crash in Ontonagon - February 19, 2014
A man is on life support after crashing into a snow bank in Ontonagon County. This past Saturday night, 42-year-old Daniel Laurich was driving and his vehicle failed to stop at the intersection of M-38 and M-26 and he crashed into the snow bank. State Troopers from the Wakefield Post and Baraga detachment were sent to the scene and Laurich was transported to Aspirus Ontonagon and later flown to Aspirus Wausau in Wisconsin where he remains on life support. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Hancock City Council Meeting Preview - February 19, 2014
There is a lot on the docket for tonight’s Hancock City Council meeting. City Manager Glenn Anderson will be revealing the statistics on transit use last year as well as talk about advice on what to do to prevent pipes from freezing, which has become an issue in many areas across the U.P. Also on the agenda is consideration to introduce a proposed sewer rate ordinance and schedule a public hearing on March 19th.
Get Cash for Pothole Damage - February 19, 2014
Michigan motorists can get a little revenge on those annoying potholes that have caused damage to their vehicles and put a dent in their pocketbook. Enter the 2nd annual “Pothole Pocketbook Contest” and win up to $500. Motorists pay between $300- $500 annually in vehicle repairs due to poor roads. That equals 2.3 billion dollars per year. To enter the contest you must be a Michigan resident, 18 years old, submit a picture along with a copy of your garage repair receipt for damage that happened to your vehicle prior to January 2014. Winners will be announced in March by The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. To enter, click here.
How to Spot an Abusive Relationship - February 19, 2014
The Michigan State Police say with as many as one in three high school students involved in an abusive relationship, they want to educate the public on how to recognize the signs it is going on and prevent it from happening. State trooper Stacey Rasanen from the Negaunee Post says it is important for teens to understand the importance of a relationship that does not include violence or abuse. Among the signs that someone may be in an abusive relationship are if their partner has trouble dealing with their anger, isolates them from family and friends or uses force during an argument. State police say that if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, seek help from an adult as soon as possible.
Year-Round Schools? - February 19, 2014
State lawmakers are debating whether to create year-round schools in Michigan, perhaps as early as next fall. The governor embraced year around schools in his State of the State address calling for two million dollars to test it out in at-risk school districts. There is bi-partisan support on the House K-12 budget subcommittee where Republican chairman Bill Rogers says the money would help schools to install air conditioning for summer learning. The school lobby appears to be on board but the tourism industry may have some objections since it likes it when kids vacation with their families during the summer. The biggest selling point is that when kids get two months off, they forget what they learned which means, at the start of the school year, they start all over. The committee did not send the measure to the floor this week, but that is expected down the road.
College Students Can Delay Jury Duty - February 19, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill Tuesday giving college students the ability to delay jury duty until the end of the school year, avoiding a choice between skipping class or risking contempt charges for missing jury service. Snyder says the law gives college students the opportunity to focus on their education while still giving them the opportunity to serve on a jury after the school year. State law already exempted eligible high school students from jury service during the school year, but university students were not able to delay their service because of classes. The exception applies to full-time students who can prove that jury service would interfere with their class schedule, and permits the chief judge to delay the jury service on request.
MI CEOs Think Economy Will Improve - February 19, 2014
The majority of Michigan’s top business executives are optimistic about the state’s economy. 74 Michigan CEOs participated in the poll from Business Leaders for Michigan, a group of more than 80 CEOs and executives from throughout the state representing nearly a quarter of the state’s economy. It found that 64% expect the economy to grow in the next six months, while just 36% expect it will remain about the same. That compares to a survey in the fall in which just 36% of the state’s CEOs anticipated growth.
Banning Domestic Partner Benefits - February 18, 2014
Michigan’s Attorney General, on behalf of Governor Rick Snyder has asked a federal judge to continue to ban domestic partner benefits for cohabitating unmarried partners of public employees. The motion was filed late last week, according to M-Live. It asks Judge David Lawson to rule in favor of the state and uphold the law. M-Live reports that the motion says the 2011 law which prohibits the benefits, gets rid of local government programs that are (quote) “irrational and unfair,” adding that the law promotes financially sound policy for local governments. The judge issued a preliminary injunction last year stopping the state from enforcing the law, noting that plaintiffs had a good chance in showing that the law violates the U-S Constitution. Gay rights organizations have said the law targets them, and it also violates the equal protection guarantee of the Constitution.
Support Increases for Raising Minimum Wage - February 18, 2014
A new poll shows 60% of residents support raising Michigan’s minimum wage so now the group behind the proposed petition drive has revised its proposal. The Raise Michigan campaign has announced a new number for minimum wage: $10.10 an hour. Frank Houston, treasurer of the ballot committee and the director of the Restaurant Opportunity Center of Michigan, says the group has received so much support for a wage increase from $7.40 an hour to $9.50 an hour, they decided to try for even more. The new proposal would be implemented over a several year period, reaching $10.10 by January of 2017 if it’s approved.
Measure to Create Local Stock Exchanges - February 18, 2014
Local stock exchanges would be created in Michigan under a measure before the Michigan House Commerce Committee. It follows a new “crowdfunding” law, which is designed to help entrepreneurs open their businesses. The new bill allows for the selling of stock in Michigan to Michigan residents, without registering the stocks, effectively giving Michigan its own stock exchanges. Only Michigan businesses would be allowed in the exchanges.
Meeting on Invasive Species - February 18, 2014
Four legislative committees in Lansing are teaming up today to look into the invasive species problem in the Great Lakes. The committees will convene at the Capitol to hear from the US Army Corps of Engineers on its recent findings of the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study. The study, revealed earlier this year, presents various options on how to deal with invasive species, especially the Asian Carp, which scientists say poses a great threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. The legislators will also hear from various experts on natural resources issues, including advisors from the DNR and Office of the Great Lakes.
Dealership Sales Increase - February 18, 2014
As the major auto companies post big profits, the nation’s car dealers have also seen the good times return. An annual study of dealership sales shows the number of sales per dealership hitting record numbers. John Frith, vice president at dealer consulting firm Urban Science, says dealers are selling more, managing their businesses well, and making profits. The number of sales per dealer increased from 812 in 2012 to 874 last year. That number has been growing steadily since bottoming out at 564 sales per dealership in 2009. With auto sales expected to rise from 15.6 million last year to more than 16 million this year, sales per dealer could top 900 for 2014.
Peters Visits the U.P. - February 17, 2014
Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Gary Peters visited the U.P. this past weekend and paid a special visit to the Copper Country on Saturday. He was first given a tour of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Tech and he was amazed at the work being done at the university.
He then met with a group of constituents inside Studio Pizza in Hancock and he talked about helping each other to achieve a greater goal. Peters says the U.P. needs to get involved in the progressive attitude.
Peters is going up against Republican Terry Lynn Land, who is up 3% on Peters in the latest polls.
Sears Withdraws From RNC Race - February 17, 2014
Longtime Houghton County Republican leader Mary Sears withdrew her name from consideration as Michigan’s new Republican National Committeewoman Saturday morning. Ronna Romney McDaniel was elected to the position unanimously at the party’s Central Committee meeting in East Lansing. McDaniel is the daughter of former R-N-C Committeewoman Ronna Romney, and the niece of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. She succeeds Terri Lynn Land who resigned to focus on her campaign for the U-S Senate. Sears was backed by Tea Party activists. She recently became the center of controversy because of an article she published last year on the Schoolcraft County Republican Party website. The article calls for the purging of gays and lesbians from the Republican Party, describes homosexuality as a “perversion” and accuses homosexuals of preying on children to increase their numbers. Sears is a former chair of the Houghton County Republican Party and is currently a Frankin Township Trustee.
Voting on Bill to Roll Back State Income Tax - February 17, 2014
The House Tax Policy committee in Lansing this week is expected to vote on a measure that gradually rolls back the Michigan income tax from the current 4.25 % to 4.05% by 2016. Under the proposal, the tax would be rolled back further, for every year that General Fund revenue increased by 300 million dollars or more. The effort was prompted by Michigan’s budget surplus of nearly a billion dollars. Many Republicans support the income tax cut idea, saying it’s fair to provide a tax reduction for everyone, regardless of their wealth or income. Governor Rick Snyder however supports a targeted cut that eases property taxes on middle income homeowners. And Democrats argue that the property tax should not only be eased for middle income workers, but the pension tax should be repealed.
MI Taxes on Gas One of the Highest - February 17, 2014
Michigan’s gas tax is considered low when compared to other midwest states. But the devil is in the details. The gas tax in Michigan is 19 cents per gallon, third lowest in the region, and for diesel it’s 15 cents, which is the lowest in the region. But a Michigan State University analysis says the addition of the state sales tax means motorists are actually paying some of the highest fees in the region. MSU’s Center for Economic Analysis says the state’s total tax on gasoline is about 39.1 cents per gallon, on par with Illinois as the highest in an eight-state area of the Midwest. Michigan’s total tax on diesel is 38.5 cents per gallon, third highest in the area.
More Trash in Michigan - February 17, 2014
Michigan saw more garbage dumped into state landfills last year even though residents are throwing away less trash. A report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says garbage from Michigan residents dropped by a half-percent, however landfills took in 1.4% more waste in 2013. That’s because of an increase in waste from other states and Canada. Trash from Canada is up 13% but state officials say this isn’t a surprise because Canadian trash makes up about 17% of garbage in Michigan landfills.
Electricity Providers Using Renewable Sources - February 17, 2014
All but one of Michigan’s electricity providers are now on pace to generate ten percent of their power from renewable sources by 2015, according to a new report. The fourth annual renewable energy report from the Michigan Public Service commission found that in 2012 the use of wind, sun and other renewable energy sources reached 5.4 percent, up from 4.4 percent the previous year. For 2013, renewables are expected to have reached 6.9 percent. Conservatively, over $2.2 billion has been spent on renewable energy projects through 2013 in Michigan.
Fire Hydrant and Emergency Exits Safety - February 17, 2014
A former National Luge Champion from the Upper Peninsula says Dow Chemical Company in Midland is giving the U.S. Luge team the advantage to win. Arin Hamlin on Tuesday in Sochi was the first American to ever medal in the singles event at the Olympics. She captured a bronze. Keith Whitman of Escanaba says the big difference between now and when he started competing in the early 1980s is technology. He says the U.S. has a better chance to win when technicians are involved.
Snow Days Legislation - February 14, 2014
It isn’t the law, but the Michigan State Board of Education has adopted a new policy that encourages school districts which have gone over the allotted six snow days, to make up for lost time with full days of instruction instead of just adding minutes to the school day. Current law only says that in order to receive state aid, districts must offer a total of one-thousand and-98 hours per school year, or at least 170 days of school. In the meantime, legislation has been introduced in Lansing to specifically allow school districts to make up those additional days beyond the six allowed by adding minutes onto each day remaining on their school calendars. A better solution, according to the board of education, would be to make them up with full days of student instruction.
Aldrich Sentenced to Nine Months in Jail - February 14, 2014
A former volunteer with the Houghton High School hockey team has been sentenced on his fourth degree criminal sexual conduct charge. 30-year-old Brad Aldrich was in Houghton County Circuit court today and was sentenced to nine months in Houghton County jail but will receive credit for 59 days he has already served. Then he will be under probation for five years and be required to apply as a registered sex offender. Under the terms of his probation, he must not come within 1000 feet of any school or any function that involves minors. He is to not make any contact with the victim, directly or indirectly. Aldrich was ordered to pay restitution as well, along with a prohibition on attending any athletic events where minors may be present. Neither the victim nor the family of the victim were present in court.
GM Recall - February 14, 2014
General Motors is recalling nearly 800,000 older model vehicles because of potentially deadly problems with the engines and airbags. There have been six front-seat fatalities reported as a result of airbags not deploying. The cars affected are 2005 to 2007 model year Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars. Additionally GM reports knowing about 17 other non-fatal injuries as a result of the airbag not deploying.
Poll Shows Views on Surplus Budget - February 14, 2014
A new poll conducted says a majority of Michigan residents would like the state to spend surplus budget money on education and repairing roads. There were 600 people surveyed in the recent poll and just eleven-percent liked the idea of a tax cut. Governor Rick Snyder and other legislators are proposing some tax relief with the estimated budget surplus of nearly one billion dollars. Republicans have suggested rolling back the state income tax to three-point-nine percent by 2017 and restoring the homestead property tax credit that ended in 2011.
Gary Peters To Visit Houghton Tomorrow - February 14, 2014
U.S. Senate Candidate Gary Peters has just began his “Michigan First” Listening Tour and he will making several stops in the U.P. throughout the weekend. Yesterday he was in Escanaba and today he will be in Iron Mountain. Tomorrow he will be in Houghton making a visit to the Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center and Smart Zone at noon. Later, he will have a grassroots meet and greet at Studio Pizza in Hancock just after 4 p.m. According to recent polls, Peters is trailing Republican Terri Lynn Land 41% to 38%.
Marijuana Patients That Pay Rent - February 14, 2014
Medical Marijuana patients that rent their home would need the permission of the property owner to grow or smoke marijuana on the property, under legislation introduced in Lansing. Supporters say the reasoning behind the bill is because when you grow marijuana, it puts moisture into the walls and sometimes destroys the property. Also if the smoke is traveling throughout the apartments, it can bother the other residents. The bill was sent to the Senate Government Operations Committee.
Running of Water May Be Necessary - February 13, 2014
Lake Linden has joined L’Anse in recommending that all water utility customers keep their water running continuously to prevent pipes from freezing. The unusually cold winter has frozen the ground to a depth dangerously close to the water lines. City crews in L’Anse report that the frost line is below four feet in some areas. Water leads are typically installed about six feet down. Officials in both communities say you should keep a tap open 24-7 that produces a stream of water about the thickness of a pencil lead and you’ll probably need to maintain that until the ground begins to thaw. Houghton County Emergency Coordinator Jack Dueweke says if you have any questions about maybe running your water, call your water supplier first.
Water bills will be adjusted to take that usage into account. In any event, it’s a far better option than an expensive replacement of your water lead.
First Council Meeting for Waara - February 13, 2014
It was the first City Council meeting for new City Manager Eric Waara last night and he’s relieved to be over that hurdle.
Among the resolutions approved was a lot split on the Woodhaven Estates. The council also approved the water budget deficit plan. Also, Waara was designated as the last person who must sign off on grant applications to the DNR, which he says will help get some projects off the ground.
The council also agreed to allow Waara to be one of the names on the signature cards from the bank.
Houghton County Circuit Court Recap - February 13, 2014
Two criminal cases were in Houghton County Circuit Court yesterday for pretrial hearings. 34-year-old Nima Nassiri is being charged with second-degree murder for the fatal domestic assault incident involving his wife back in December. Defense attorney David Gemignani requested a forensics report which was granted by Judge Charles Goodman. Another pretrial will be scheduled on a future date. Also in court was Micheal Kangas. He is being charged with three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Gemignani requested further discussion on the case based on the special needs of his client. A final pretrial date will be scheduled before the case goes to trial. Brad Aldrich will appear in circuit court this morning for sentencing on his fourth degree CSC charge.
Combined Trial in Baraga County - February 13, 2014
A combined trial has been set for two suspects allegedly involved in an armed robbery this past summer. Donavan Waupoose was scheduled to have a trial at the end of the month, but this week’s motion hearing in Baraga County Circuit Court changed all that. Waupoose will now stand alongside Bernard Fish in a combined trial. The pair faces a number of charges, including extortion, unlawful imprisonment, and impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime. Waupoose and Fish both pled not guilty to the charges. They allegedly robbed two Watton residents at gunpoint in August. Their trial is scheduled for April 14 and is expected to last four days.
Chassell Man Gets Probation - February 13, 2014
A Chassell man will spend 24 months on probation after driving a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol. In addition to probation, 43 year old James Manderfield has his snowmobile privileges revoked for six months. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating a snowmobile while intoxicated earlier this month in Houghton County District Court. In January, Manderfield fell through the ice on Portage Lake near Dollar Bay and was rescued by police.
State Looking to Help Low-Income Students - February 13, 2014
Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would cover college tuition for low-income students as long as they keep their grade point averages up, and pay back a percentage of their future income to keep the program going. The “pay it forward” program called The Smarter Michigan and Retaining Talent Act would set up a pilot program with 200 students. Their payments would depend on whether the student went to a university or a community college, and how long they were in the program. The legislation calls for a $2 million appropriation for the pilot program. It would be housed in the Department of Treasury and students would undergo means testing to qualify. The legislation does not allow the use of School Aid Fund dollars to fund the program.
Juvenile Lifers Legislation Passes - February 13, 2014
The Michigan Senate has passed legislation that would allow the re-sentencing of juveniles sentenced to life without parole if courts determine that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the practice is retroactive. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles was unconstitutional because it was cruel and unusual punishment. However, the high-court did not specify whether the ruling should apply retroactively to those already serving their sentences or to just future cases. The House passed bill that cleared the Senate yesterday would put the state in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.
County Board Meeting Recap - February 12, 2014
The Houghton County Board of Commissioners met last night and they had a very productive meeting. The board approved the revenue sharing resolution which involves the state’s surplus budget allocation. Commissioner Scott Ala says it would be great to bring in some money to the county.
The board also approved projects for the Houghton County Housing Rehab Program, which Ala says helps low income families.
He was also excited about the board allowing Michigan Tech to participate in a energy efficiency competition that would greatly benefit the community but it won’t come easy.
A proposal for the county brokers to create a business plan for the prospective DHS building in the Copper Country Mall was also discussed.
DeGulio Resigns - February 12, 2014
The newly appointed Executive Director of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly has left his position. After just four months, Chris DeGulio has resigned with no explanation. Volunteers Coordinator Cathy Aten will serve as interim executive director for the time being. The committee will have a meeting February 24th for reorganization and to discuss what to do moving forward.
Waara’s First Council Meeting - February 12, 2014
Tonight’s Houghton City Council meeting will be the first for new City Manager Eric Waara and he’s got a lot on the docket. Among the resolutions that will need approval is a lot split on the Woodhaven Estates. The council will look to approve the water budget deficit plan. Also, the council must agree to allow Waara to be one of the names on the signature cards as well as making him the last person who must sign off on grant applications at the DNR.
Energy Emergency Extended - February 12, 2014
Governor Snyder has extended a State of Energy Emergency in Michigan until March 1 due to a shortage of propane in the state. The propane shortage and severe winter weather have caused delivery delays and unusually high prices for customers in the state who rely on heating oil and propane. The executive order extends hours of service waivers for those who deliver heating oil and propane, enabling these individuals to exceed the number of hours and consecutive days in which they can work. Last week, Snyder announced further steps the state is taking to help Michiganders who have been affected by the shortage, including additional heating and financial assistance and efforts to increase supply. Those efforts have started to show results. More than a million gallons of propane have been delivered by rail to storage facilities in Marysville over the past week and more is expected to continue arriving.
Highland Copper Plans on Another Purchase - February 12, 2014
The company that recently purchased the White Pine Mine is adding another potential western Upper Peninsula copper mine to its portfolio. Highland Copper has announced plans to purchase the Copperwood Project. Copperwood is located about 18 miles south of the White Pine property. It was developed by Orvana Minerals, and has passed most of the regulatory hurdles needed to begin work. The ultimate purchase price could be as much as 25-million dollars in cash and Highland stock… based on the eventual proceeds from the mine. The sale is contingent on financing and regulatory approval. Both companies’ boards of directors have okayed it. Highland Executive Chairman David Fennell said the purchase is part of a strategy to consolidate an emerging copper district in the Upper Peninsula.
More Potholes Than Usual - February 12, 2014
If you think there’s more potholes this year than last year, Michigan’s Director of Transportation says it’s not your imagination. Kirk Steudle says this winter has been rough on roads, and it comes just as Michigan’s need for road funding is growing. He says when this year’s thaw takes place, the breakup will be one of the biggest in a long time. Steudle says cold temperatures and precipitation have led to a build-up of ice beneath Michigan roads and when that ice contracts and expands, it produces cracks and potholes, especially in roads already in poor condition.
New State Law on Poaching Bucks - February 12, 2014
New state laws designed to deter poaching of antlered bucks, especially those with trophy-sized racks, and to reduce recreational trespass are now in effect in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources says the new laws make several changes to the fines and restitution payments for poaching deer, including a progressive penalty system based on the number of points on its antlers. As an example, illegally killing a 10-point buck in Michigan will now result in a $7,000 restitution plus fines and court costs. Poachers also now face stronger penalties related to hunting privileges.
Opposition to a Part-Time Legislature - February 12, 2014
Only four members of the Michigan Senate have so far said they’re in support of a new proposal to make the Michigan lawmakers part-time workers. In the meantime, the petition drive to put the part-time legislature question on the statewide ballot is getting underway. Thirty of the 38 members of the Senate have been contacted so far. Of the thirty, 17 are clearly against it and seven are undecided. Supporters argue that currently, 36 other states have some form of part time legislature. But critics say it will create an imbalance among the three branches of government, since the Governor and the Supreme Court will remain full time jobs. They say it simply limits the voice of the people who elect legislators.
More Battles On Wolf Hunt - February 11, 2014
The group behind the effort to end the hunting of wolves in Michigan is challenging a state law that bars out-of-state circulators from gathering petition signatures. A coalition of groups including Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit yesterday arguing that Michigan’s requirement that petition circulators be from the state is unconstitutional. The groups contend the prohibition on non-Michigan residents circulating petitions violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
Minimum Wage Dispute Continues - February 11, 2014
The organizers of a coalition seeking to put an increase in Michigan’s minimum wage to a vote are ready to start their petition drive. Restaurant Opportunity Center director Frank Houston told the public TV show “Off The Record” this weekend that they have one-million dollars banked for their campaign. Houston adds the state elections bureau will likely receive their statewide petition language this week. Their goal is to hike the minimum wage to between nine dollars and ten-dollars-ten-cents an hour. Michigan’s minimum wage is currently $7.40 an hour, slightly higher than the federal minimum of $7.25.
Fuelwood Permits Available - February 11, 2014
Michigan’s exceptional winter weather has prompted the Department of Natural Resources to sell permits to cut firewood in state forests – a month and a half before the traditional starting date of April 1. Fuelwood permits cost $20, are for use on designated state forest land in the northern two-thirds of the state and allow for collection of up to five standard cords of wood per household. Fuelwood collected with the permit can be used for personal use only and cannot be resold or traded. The permits are good for 90 days. A person may qualify for reimbursement if enrolled in the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program run by the Michigan Department of Human Services. Fuelwood permits can be obtained at DNR field offices and operations service centers.
Safe Snow Removal - February 11, 2014
With the heavy amounts of snow this season, UPPCO is reminding its customers to take precautions when shoveling and piling snow near reading meters. They say that plowing snow onto meters could damage them resulting in a loss of electricity. Also large snow piling should be avoided around overhead lines where children may play and climb onto the snow piles, bringing them close to dangerous overhead lines. UPPCO adds that if meters are covered with heavy snow, customers should clear them by hand without a shovel or other items.
Meth Registry On The Way - February 11, 2014
A state Senate committee today may consider a bill creating a Michigan methamphetamine abuse registry. Under the proposal from Senate Republican John Proos of St. Joseph, anyone convicted of a meth-related crime would be required to get a prescription before being allowed to buy any simple cold medicine that contains pseudoephedrine (SOO-doh-ef-ED-rin) Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in making meth. There are already caps on the amount that any person is allowed to buy over a certain period.Overall in 2012, police seized 325 meth labs in the state, according to a report from the Michigan State Police.
Winter Carnival Results - February 10, 2014
Winter Carnival festivities wrapped up this weekend and the Stage Revue was very entertaining with Sigma Phi Epsilon performing the best skit of the night. Overall results were also announced. Sigma Phi Epsilon took first place in the fraternities group. Delta Zeta won overall in the Women’s groups. For student organizations, Air Force ROTC lead the way. For residence halls, the Raptor Hall took first place. And the Keweenaw Roller Girls won in the community division. But the overall Winter Carnival winner was Air Force ROTC. Complete results are available on the Winter Carnival website.
Schauer Visits Michigan Tech - February 10, 2014
A special guest was present for Winter Carnival this weekend. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer stopped by the Michigan Tech campus on his U.P. tour to take in the festivities. He was accompanied by Democratic Representative Scott Dianda. Schauer says he loves coming to the U.P.
Schauer did speak on the propane crisis, which he hopes get resolved soon, especially for those in the U.P.
It was Schauer’s third trip to the U.P. since declaring his candidacy last year.
Farm Bill Signed - February 10, 2014
A massive farm bill is in the books. President Obama signed the measure during an appearance at Michigan State University in East Lansing Friday. Leelenau County fruit farmer Ben LaCross introduced the President. The nearly one trillion dollar bill funds agricultural programs for five years. It reforms subsidies and cuts about eight-billion dollars from federal food stamp programs. The farm bill was hung up in Congress for a couple of years over disputes about subsidies, dairy pricing, crop insurance and the food stamp programs. It finally cleared the Senate this week after earlier approval by the House.
Fuel Economy Improving - February 10, 2014
Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute say gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. improved in January, while emissions are now at their best mark ever. According to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, average fuel economy of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased last month was 24.9 mpg, up 4.8 mpg since October 2007, the first month of monitoring. In addition to average fuel economy, Sivak and Schoettle issued a monthly update of their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. Driver.
Townships Looking for Help With Roads - February 10, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has been lauded by many for his proposal to spend an additional 254 million dollars on transportation as part of his budget recommendation for 2015-2016. But townships in Michigan are not happy. The Michigan Townships Association says the governor left local roads out of the mix. The MTA says some of the budget surplus should be put into local roads, and further, there should be an improved plan to permanently fund both local and other roads and bridges.
More Fun at Winter Carnival - February 7, 2014
With Winter Carnival wrapping up in the next two days, there is still lots to do. Sleigh rides and dog sled rides are available for those walking around campus, looking at the completed snow statues. At noon, kids can meet the Michigan Tech Huskies mascot Blizzard. Also, the Alumni-Student Broomball Invitational begins today as well as the first of two Michigan Tech Winter Carnival hockey games versus Alabama Hunstville. Later tonight, comedian Bob Saget will be at the Rosza Center for an adults-only show as this year’s Winter Carnival comedian. Also tomorrow, as a part of the festivities, the city of Houghton will be hosting an ice sculpter at noon in front of the Douglass house in downtown, who will be using a chainsaw to create his work. Later, fireworks will light up the sky at 8:30 pm, followed by the Torchlight Parade. Winter Carnival will then commence with the Awards Ceremony and the Snowball Dance. For more details on the schedule, head to the Winter Carnival website.
MI Reps Holding Congress Fiscally Responsible - February 7, 2014
Two U.S. Representatives from Michigan are ready to hold Congress fiscally responsible for the country’s debt. Yesterday Representatives Dan Benishek and Kerry Bentivolio introduced the Spending Accountability Act, which reduces the pay of the members of Congress if a federal budget deficit exists in the prior year. Benishek says it’s a common sense measure that simply asks Congress to do its job or take a 15% pay cut. The Congressional Budget Office recently announced that America’s debt is estimated to reach 26 trillion by 2023.
Help for Low-Income Utility Customers - February 7, 2014
The state of Michigan is continuing to help residents who are affected by the ongoing propane shortage. Governor Snyder said the Department of Human Services is working with the legislature to dedicate $7 million to the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program. That’s in addition to the $7 million dollars already devoted to deliverable fuel heating assistance from the Michigan Energy Assistance program. Earlier this week, Snyder and six other governors from around the Midwest wrote a letter to President Obama for assistance in the propane shortage. For more information on heating assistance, click here.
Part Time Legislators - February 7, 2014
The Board of State Canvassers has approved a petition form, for a group that wants to ask voters to make Michigan’s legislators part time workers. The group will now begin collecting signatures, and needs to have at least 323-thousand-609 valid ones to get the question on the ballot. If approved by voters, Michigan’s constitution would allow there to be no more than 60 session days per year, and it would cut lawmakers salaries to 35-thousand dollars per year. Currently their salaries are just under 72-thousand per year.
New Ruling Regarding Medical Marijuana Laws - February 7. 2014
The Michigan Supreme Court says local communities can’t pass ordinances to preempt the state’s medical marijuana law. The high-court’s ruling, issued yesterday, strikes down a 2010 zoning ordinance in the west Michigan city of Wyoming that prohibited growing or using marijuana within city limits. The decision also appears to invalidate similar ordinances in other cities. The city of Wyoming had argued that it could strictly regulate medical marijuana because federal law still prohibited any production or possession of marijuana. But the Supreme Court disagreed, saying Federal law criminalizing marijuana doesn’t invalidate the state’s medical marijuana law because the state law doesn’t interfere with or undermine federal enforcement of that prohibition. The challenge to the local ordinance was brought by a resident who says he is a qualified medical marijuana patient who grows and uses marijuana in his home.
WINTER CARNIVAL RESULTS AND PHOTOS ARE HERE.
Snyder Presents 2015 Budget Plan - February 6, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder in Lansing today proposed a 52 billion dollar state budget for 2015 that includes a six percent pay increase in the higher education budget, and a tax break for more homeowners in the state. The Governor’s spending proposal for next year also includes a three percent increase for k-12 spending, along with increases in road and bridge funding and pre-schoolers. Michigan’s 15 publicly funded universities have said they’ve been underfunded after peaking at just under two billion dollars in 2002. That compares to the current year, where $1.43 billion is being spent. The governor is also proposing a tax relief plan that includes just over 100 million dollars toward restoring more of the Homestead Property Tax Credit. Under the governor’s proposal, those with incomes up to 60-thousand dollars would be eligible. The budget proposal also includes nearly 72 million dollars to implement expanded Medicaid coverage.
Road Rage Incident Goes To Trial - February 6, 2014
An Iron River man will return to court February 18 on several charges coming from an alleged road rage incident earlier this week. Donald Rymkos, 67, is charged with fourth–degree fleeing and eluding, which is a felony. He is also accused of two misdemeanor charges: driving without insurance and driving with a suspended license. An Iron County Sheriff’s deputy tried to stop Rymkos’s vehicle on U.S. 2 in Iron River Monday afternoon after reportedly seeing signs of road rage. The pursuit continued for about 13 miles before Michigan State Police from the Iron Mountain Post used stop sticks in Crystal Falls Township. Rymkos is being held in the Iron County Jail.
State Lawmaker Battling Meth Issue - February 6, 2014
State Representative John Kivela is working to fight the growing methamphetamine problem in Michigan. Kivela introduced a bill yesterday in the House Criminal Justice Committee. The bill would help combat meth production and create a stop-sale notification for any individual with a felony drug conviction trying to purchase a product containing pseudoephedrine.Individuals with prior felony drug convictions would be required to obtain a valid prescription from a physician to override the stop-sale notification, but the legislation would not change the process for individuals without felonies on record.
State Law On Unionizing Research Assistance Deemed Unconstitutional - February 6, 2014
A federal judge has ruled a 2012 Michigan law barring public university graduate research assistants from unionizing violates the state’s Constitution. In 2012, the Republican-led Legislature used a parliamentary tactic to avoid an immediate effect vote in the House by revising a bill that originally dealt with emergency managers, to instead ban graduate student unions. The legislation in its original form had already been given immediate effect in the House, so a second vote was unnecessary. But U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled yesterday that changing the bill violated the Michigan Constitution’s “change of purpose” clause.
Sports Boosters Donate to Hancock High School - February 5, 2014
Thanks to the district’s All Sports Booster Club, Hancock High School has received a large donation that will go towards improvements to their sports field. A $10,000 donation will be made to the Bulldog Athletic Complex Capital Campaign that will be used to create a press box and concession stand. The boosters currently provide concessions at the events so this project is considered a win-win situation. Hancock High School principal John Sanregret says the booster club has been an integral part of the athletic department.
The campaign is still looking for funding for other improvements including spectator seating, permanent bathroom facilities and field lighting. For more information about donating, click here.
Winter Carnival 2014 - February 5, 2014
Festivities are kicking off later today for Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival. The All-Nighter will begin at 3 p.m. and last until 8 a.m. the following day as groups make their final touches on their snow sculptures which will be judged Thursday morning. Everyone is invited to the MTU campus to come see the sculptures and to have fun with the students. This year’s theme is Nostalgic Films of Childhood Days, Come To Life In Frosty Ways.
Fish Case Going to Trial - February 5, 2014
A man accused of an armed robbery of two Watton residents in Covington Township in August is going to trial. Bernard Fish was in Baraga Circuit Court yesterday for a pretrial hearing. Fish is charged with two counts of extortion, two counts of unlawful imprisonment, and one count of impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime. He is also charged with two counts of armed robbery, a felony punishable by life in prison. Fish plead not guilty to all counts. A four–day trial is scheduled for sometime in April. Fish’s alleged accomplice, Donavan Waupoose, was also scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, but his pretrial hearing was rescheduled.
Farm Bill to be Signed This Week - February 5, 2014
The White House says President Barack Obama will sign the newly passed Farm Bill at Michigan State University on Friday, during his previously announced visit to East Lansing. The US Senate approved and sent the five year Farm Bill to the president yesterday. The legislation slightly reduces food stamp spending, and replaces direct payments to farms, with a farm insurance program. US Senator Debbie Stabenow says overall, the Farm Bill represents a 23 billion dollar reduction in the federal deficit. The cuts come from efforts to reduce fraud and abuse in the food assistance program, as well as cuts in farm subsidies, along with combining certain conservation programs.
Midwest Governors Send Obama Letter on Propane Shortage - February 5, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder and governors from six other Midwestern states have sent the president a letter formally asking for assistance in dealing with a propane supply shortage that is affecting the states’ residents. The letter asks the Obama administration to explore regulatory waivers aimed at increasing the supply of propane in Midwest states. The governors requested an extension of the hours of service waiver and for a temporary waiver of weight limits on the interstate highway system, to help fill critical gaps between propane supply and demand. Snyder says his administration has worked closely with the propane and rail freight industries to improve supply levels.
New $30 Lottery Instant Ticket - February 5, 2014
The Michigan Lottery has launched a new instant game, with better odds and larger prizes. The new ticket costs $30 and offers players the chance to win as much as $2 million, with $80 million available for all players. Participants also have a 1 in 25 chance of winning $200 on each ticket. The decision to introduce the $30 game was based on increased interest in the $10 and $20 games already available. Those tickets only offer players a chance to win up to 1 million dollars and have steeper odds. The new $30 tickets go on sale today.
Help Available for Low-Income Utility Customers - February 4, 2014
With temperatures this heating season colder than normal so far, the Michigan Public Service Commission has stressed the importance of programs that help Michigan’s low-income utility customers with their energy bills. Low-income customers with energy assistance needs are encouraged to call 2-1-1 or their utility to inquire about assistance that may be available to them. In addition, the 14 Michigan organizations that were awarded $89.6 million in grants to help low-income customers for energy assistance this heating season are now assisting customers. A list of these organizations is available here.
Three School Districts Earn Recognition - February 4, 2014
According to Bridge Magazine, three school districts in the Copper Country made their list of the top ten percent of school districts that exceeded expectations in 2013. The list is used to view classroom performance relative to socioeconomic status. Calumet, Laurium and Keweenaw Public Schools had the highest rank at number 9 in the state. Chassell Public schools ranked 27th, with their 11th graders performing well at their 17th place rank in the state. Dollar Bay-Tamarack also made the list at number 33.
Improving Cell Phone Service - February 4, 2014
With a vast amount of undeveloped land, cell phone service in the U.P. is often spotty and at times non-existent. Executive Director Kim Stoker of the Western U.P. Planning and Development Region says a state law should be changed to allow cell phone companies to use emergency towers that are spread throughout the U.P.
Stoker says unreliable cell phone service is a major economic development problem.
Propane Emergency Extended - February 4, 2014
The propane energy emergency declared by Governor Snyder several weeks ago has been extended. Record low temperatures, heavy snowfall, pipeline issues and other factors have combined for a shortage that is driving prices sky-high. Snyder’s emergency order is in effect through Tuesday, February 11th. It allows motor carriers and drivers carrying propane on Michigan’s highways to be exempt from state and federal hours-of-service regulations to get more supply delivered.
Governor to Unveil Budget This Week - February 4, 2014
The governor’s budget proposal to be unveiled this week, will include a 322-million dollar spending increase in K-12 schools, although most of it will got toward mandatory school retirement costs. The Detroit Free Press, citing sources in the state budget office, reports that the governor’s overall proposal will represent a 2.8 percent spending increase on education, with one-fifth actually going for classrooms. The remainder would go to the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System, because of stock market losses in 2009 and an early retirement program offered to teachers in 2010.
US-DOT Looking into Comms Between Cars - February 4, 2014
State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle is endorsing a decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communication for light vehicles, calling it a good decision for Michigan and for transportation safety. The US-DOT is currently sponsoring a pilot safety program of connected vehicle technology in Ann Arbor, using nearly 3,000 cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles outfitted with short-range communications radio devices to test the effectiveness of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Steudle believes the technology will have a significant beneficial impact on M-DOT daily operations, providing real-time information on conditions such as pavement condition (potholes, ice, snow), traffic incidents, and congestion hot spots, through a cheaper and more efficient means than is possible today.
MI Population Increases - February 4, 2014
Michigan’s population grew last year even though more people left the state than moved in, according to Census data. The state’s population grew to over 9,895,000 in 2013, up by more than 13,000 from 2012. It marks the second consecutive year of growth after seven years of decline. M-Live.com reports the increase came despite the loss of just over 11,000 people due to migration. The numbers show international immigration added about 17,000 people, but the state lost about 28,000 to domestic emigration. Michigan’s population growth can be attributed to the fact there were more births than deaths last year.
Auto Sales Take Hit Due to Weather - February 4, 2014
The auto industry was unable to escape the throws of the polar vortex in January, a month when the weather is expected to push industry sales as a whole down about two percent. The bright spot was Chrysler which posted an eight percent sales increase. The new Jeep Cherokee pushed that brand up 38 percent. All of Chrysler’s brands were up, and it was a particularly strong month for the Chrysler 200 mid size car, even as a new version was introduced at the North American International Auto Show. Ford, meanwhile, says it’s January sales were off 7 percent. But Lincoln, with a 43-percent increase, posted its strongest sales in four years. GM sales dropped 12 percent, with fleet deliveries dropping 18-percent and retail sales down 10-percent. The entire January sales report is expected to feel the impact of snow, ice and cold.
Koski Heads to Trial - February 3, 2014
The man at the center of this fall’s wolf hunt controversy is headed for a jury trial. 68-year-old John Koski pled not guilty Thursday to one count of abandoning cruelty to two or three animals in Ontonagon County District Court. Koski is accused of neglecting two donkeys that were provided by the state to prevent wolves from attacking his cattle. Koski’s farm accounted for almost as many killed or injured cattle than all other farms combined since 1996. If convicted, he will face up to one year in jail, a $2,000 fine, up to 300 hours of community service, or a combination of all three.
Winter Carnival Begins - February 3, 2014
Winter Carnival kicked off this weekend with special events like the broomball and curling tournaments. But the big news came out of the Winter Carnival Queen Coronation on Saturday as Senior Janna Clement was crowned Queen of the carnival. Clement says she is honored to have this distinction. The night had an overwhelming theme of childhood movie characters so in that vein, during the talent portion of the competion, she sang her own version of the song “Under the Sea”, popularized in the movie The Little Mermaid, but rewrote and localized it with the name “Under the Snow”. Clement will now have a few responsibilties including judging the ice sculptures later this week. She also received a $1,000 scholarship from the Michigan Tech Student Foundation.
Home Energy Assistance Program - February 3, 2014
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it is making $22.1 million available to support the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Michigan. The LIHEAP program offers home energy assistance programs for low-income households. Over 600,000 households are served in Michigan by this program. Congressman Dan Benishek says while this won’t completely fix the problem, these added resources should offer some help, especially to the neediest families. He also adds that he has written to President Obama in support of LIHEAP funding each year since coming to Congress.
MTU Researching Drone Use for MDOT - February 3, 2014
Researchers at Michigan Tech are looking into the use of drones from a transportation perspective. Michigan Tech scientists are using the unmanned aerial vehicles to help the US Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovation Technology Administration and other agencies to develop low-cost, highly-efficient ways to handle tasks that range from mapping the condition of unpaved roads to understanding traffic jams. The $2.4 million project is designed to help transportation agencies save money and reduce risk to staff that would usually have to always be in a roadway, on a bridge, or inside a confined space to understand infrastructure condition.
Home Heating Tax Credits for 2013 - February 3, 2014
The Michigan Department of Treasury is now processing Michigan Home Heating Credits for the 2013 tax year. The credit assists low-income customers with winter energy bills. The average credit in 2013 was $124. Instruction booklets and forms have been mailed out by the Department of Treasury. For those people who file a tax return, the Michigan Department of Treasury encourages them to e-file their returns because it speeds processing and reduces errors for the credits. To find an authorized e-file provider and information on free e-file services, visit Treasury’s website. Individuals may apply for the Home Heating Credits even if they do not file a tax return.
DNR Begins Grant Program - February 3, 2014
The Department of Natural Resources is taking applications for the new Wildlife Habitat Grant Program, funded through hunting and fishing license fees. Grants are available for programs that manage wildlife habitat or increase public participation in wildlife-related recreation, including hunting, fishing and trapping. Grants for 2014 range from $15,000 to $650,000, the total grant pool available. Grant applications are due March 1 and are posted on the DNR website. Grant awards are scheduled to be announced April 1.
New Measure on Tracking Phones - February 3, 2014
A legislative committee in Lansing has begun work on a measure requiring cell phone companies to quickly provide location information if it’s requested by police. The bill is based on laws approved in other states. Sponsors say it speeds up the search for missing or abducted people and has also proven to help those who have immediate medical needs. The bill is before the House Criminal Justice Committee.
Protecting Animals from Abusers - February 3, 2014
The effort is continuing at the Capitol to make it easier to protect adoptive animals from animal abusers. Under a proposal before the House Judiciary Committee, animal shelters would be allowed free use of the state’s registry, to check for a history of animal abuse among those seeking to adopt animals. The bills also prohibit anyone convicted of an animal abuse crime from adopting an animal for five years from the conviction. The general public can use the Department of State Police Internet Criminal History Access Tool for a ten-dollar fee. Under the proposal, that fee is waived for animal shelters.
New Billboard Laws - February 3, 2014
Governor Snyder has signed legislation that revises existing law regarding the placement and maintenance of billboards in Michigan. Snyder says the legislation will bring more common sense to the state’s billboard regulations and will ensure Michigan continues to receive vital federal road funding by bringing the state in line with required federal highway administration standards. Michigan risked losing up to $100 million in federal funding without the new law.
Winter Carnival 2014 - January 31, 2014
Winter Carnival is finally here and a weeks worth of festivities begins this weekend. BlueKey President Jack Lubinski says they would love to see a great turnout from the community for the event. Tomorrow morning, the preliminary rounds of ice fishing, curling, snow volleyball and the yooper sprint will be going on. Also, tomorrow night will be this year’s Winter Carnival Queen Coronation and one lucky girl will have that distinction. Of course, most of the ice statues are still being built and judging on those will begin next Thursday. For a full schedule of the events, click here.
John Dee’s Snowfest - January 31, 2014
The Copper Country has seen a historical amount of snow so far and for those who can’t get enough, this weekend will be John Dee’s Snowfest. The event, which has been going on since 2005, will bring together all of the fans of the John Dee website as they raise funds for the Make A Wish Foundation. This year they will raise money for Brody, a four year old boy who wants to go to Disney World. There will be snowmobile rides, live entertainment and much more, inlcuding a banquet tomorrow. Registration is required. For more information, head to the Community Calendar.
Snyder to Run in 2014 - January 31, 2014
He’s making it official, Governor Rick Snyder will announce Monday that he’s seeking a second term in office. The governor will kick off a statewide announcement tour Monday with appearances in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. He is expected to visit Traverse City, Frankenmuth and Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills on Tuesday. The tour follows the governor’s Super Bowl ad set to air on Sunday in areas around the state. The first-term Republican entered the 2010 race with his “one tough nerd” ad that aired during the Super Bowl.
MI May Increase Speed Limits - January 31, 2014
Could Michigan’s speed limits be going up? Legislation that may be considered soon in Lansing would allow speed limits to be changed, in most cases increased, on many Michigan roads. One idea being considered would be to base speed limits on the rate of speed in which 85 percent of the cars generally travel. However, according to reports, residential roads would not see speed limit increases under such a proposal.
Snow Days Issue Continues - January 31, 2014
A proposal in Lansing to allow schools to make up snow days by adding minutes onto the end of days within the existing schedule, is drawing fire from the state’s top educator. Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan calls it an “insane and silly” idea. He points to the number one education country in the world: Finland, and says they don’t add minutes, they add days when it snows and that’s what Michigan should do. But Republican State Representative Phil Potvin of Cadiilac maintains schools should have choices including adding thirty minutes, not five minutes at the end of the day which he claims is a cost saver for financially strapped districts. He says the cost savings is all in transportation by not running buses one more time and having people in school one extra day.
The Michigan Stock Exchange? - January 31, 2014
A proposal has surfaced in Lansing to give Michigan it’s own stock market. It’s referred to as “crowdfunding,” which supporters say allows small-business owners and entrepreneurs to more easily raise capital, and allows in-state investors to buy, sell and trade securities in those businesses. The measure creates the legal framework for an intrastate stock exchange, and follows a new law which creates exemptions from state regulations that have prevented such financing in the past. The measure is now before the House Commerce Committee.
Health Centers Looking to Help Low-Income Families - January 30, 2014
The Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center has secured funding from the Federal Bureau of Primary Care to improve access to quality healthcare in Houghton. The funding will help transition Portage Health’s existing primary care practice into a Family Health Center that is designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center. This means that they will accept all patients and insurances, inlcuding Medicare, regardless of ability to pay. UGLF Health Center CEO Don Simila says this is an all-around effort to bring quality health care to the community. Established patients will continue to have the same relationship with their providers and for many patients, this transition will lead to lower fees. Future health centers will be opened in Calumet, Lake Linden and Ontonagon.
Propane Shortage a “National Crisis” - January 30, 2014
A propane dealer in the Upper Peninsula says the shortage of propane is a national crisis but he does not believe it is being treated that way. Last year, propane was selling for $1.20 to $1.30 per gallon. This year, it is as much as $7 per gallon if you can get it. Keith Holmes at the Stephenson Marketing Cooperative in Menominee County calls it a crisis that is going to have long term ramifications. Holmes says they are rationing the amount of fuel they are selling to customers. It will cost the company more to sell smaller amounts during deliveries but it ensures that customers will have heat. A state of emergency still exists in Michigan to allow truck drivers more time to deliver fuel. Holmes says companies are going as far as Missouri and even Texas to find propane.
MI Income Tax Rate to Decrease - January 30, 2014
Michigan currently has a projected billion dollar revenue surplus from last year through the next fiscal year. And there are moves underway to give at least a lot of it back to taxpayers. The Senate Finance Committee in Lansing on Wednesday approved one proposal that cuts the state’s income tax rate from the current 4.25% pert cent to 3.9% by 2017. Michigan House Republicans introduced their own proposal, which would phase in a reduction to 4.05% by 2016. In addition, the House GOP proposal would add another one-tenth of a percent decrease for every future year that revenue increases by at least 300 million dollars.The Governor is expected to formally unveil his tax relief proposal next week.
Fiat Has A New Headquarters - January 30, 2014
Now that Fiat has complete ownership of Chrysler, the new company has a new name and a new headquarters. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be headquartered in the Netherlands, with shares traded in both New York and Milan. Marchionne has been assuring workers that the decision on a headquarters will have no bearing on the work done at what had been Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, and at Chrysler and Fiat operations around the world.
Cell Phone Scam - January 30, 2014
The Better Business Bureau is warning cell phone users about a new scam that can result in unauthorized charges appearing on their monthly wireless statement. It’s called the “One-Ring Call Back Scam” and it involves scammers programming computers to send thousands of calls to random cell phone numbers, ring once and then disconnect. Those curious enough to return the call are charged $19.95 for the international call fee. After that, there is a $9.00 per minute charge. Often they will first hear music then maybe advertising to make these charges quickly add up. If a person thinks they may have fallen for this scam, they should immediately alert their cell phone carrier.
Number of Kids Eating Breakfast Goes Up - January 30, 2014
A new report says there was a two percent increase in the number of low-income children in Michigan who ate breakfast during the 2012-2013 school year. The School Breakfast Report Card, from the Food Research and Action Center, says just under 323,000 low income children participated in a school breakfast in Michigan. On an average day nationally, 10.8 million low income children participated in school breakfast, an increase of 311-thousand from the previous year. About 50% of Michigan’s low-income children now receive a free or reduced price meal.
MI Lawmakers Take Action on Propane Shortage - January 29, 2014
The Upper Peninsula’s delegation to Lansing is taking action as propane shortages continue in the region. State Senators Tom Casperson and Howard Walker and the U.P.’s four state representatives issued a joint statement Monday after the Michigan Public Service Commission reported that propane inventories in the U.P. are 43-percent below last year’s levels. That has sent prices skyrocketing to six dollars a gallon. The U.P. lawmakers are asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to keep an eye out for price gouging. They’re also working with the governor and the PSC to lift regulations that make it tough to get supplies into the region. Lastly, the lawmakers are asking all U.P. residents to conserve as much propane as possible.
Power Restores in Calumet and Laurium - January 29, 2014
After a short outage late last night, UPPCO reports that power has been restored to most of the 1800 customers who had been in the dark in the Calumet and Laurium area. They continue to work on a small outage in that area, as well as an outage in the Toivola area.
KEDA & GS Manufacturing Receive Awards - January 29, 2014
Two local organizations in the Copper Country have received awards from the Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance. GS Manufacturing earned the UPWard Initiative Business Plan Award for the development of a forestry processor winch attachment used for the retrieval of logs, which the company will manufacture and sell. The award encourages entrepreneurs to explore new ideas along with creating and beginning new businesses. Also, the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance received the Non-Profit of Excellence Award for leading economic development in the U.P.. The awards were presented during last week’s annual meeting of Operation Action U.P.
State of the Union Reaction - January 29, 2014
President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address last night, in which he called for an increase in the minimum wage and for an extension of emergency unemployment assistance. The president called for raising the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10. He also touted areas where he could act without the help of the Congress, through executive orders, such as requiring federal contract workers to receive a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. Democratic Representative Scott Dianda says many full time workers don’t have enough to get by on the current rate.
Obama also called on Congress to extend emergency unemployment assistance. Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat, responded to the address saying “the president was surely right to call for urgent action to restore emergency unemployment benefits; it is shocking that we have not yet restored this lifeline for more than 1.5 million Americans.”
Farm Bill Vote Today - January 29, 2014
The U-S House is expected to vote today on a bipartisan farm bill unveiled Tuesday. The tentative deal includes cuts in the food stamp program and a change in the agricultural subsidy system. Under the bipartisan agreement, up to $90 per month could be cut from food stamps, affecting 850,000 recipients. The cut also translates to about $800 million per year, or about one percent. Reports say the agreement means eight billion dollars from the food stamp program over the next ten years. Republicans earlier pushed for a nearly 40 billion dollar cut.
New Law for Bicyclists - January 29, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation allowing bicyclists to use an alternate right-turn signal, which backers say will make it easier for motorists to understand and help make roads safer for everyone. The law allows bikers to simply extend their right arm horizontally to signal a right-turn as well. The measure updates existing law from 1949 that required bicyclists to raise their left arm at a 90-degree angle to signal a right turn. That law was passed at a time when most automobiles lacked turn indicators and motorists also had to use hand signals.
Two Men Arrested May Be Related to Counterfeit Scam - January 28, 2014
The two men who may have been involved in the passing of two counterfeit $20 bills at a gas station in Hancock have been arrested. State Troopers from the Calumet Post say they stopped a vehicle just after 7:30 last night in Hancock. The vehicle matched the description of the car seen at the gas station. The driver, a 43-year-old male from Illinois, was arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Drugs. Inside the car, police found evidence of IV drugs, marijuana and an unknown powdery substance. The passenger, a 32-year-old male from Minnesota, was also arrested for a valid Bench Warrant out of Houghton County for Child Support. The other two occupants, residents of Hancock, were released pending further investigation.
Frostbite Warning - January 28, 2014
With the weather reaching historic lows, local doctors want to remind everyone about the dangers of frostbite. Dr. Daniel Reminga of Northern Foot Care Center says a wind chill of -20 degrees can cause frostbite to exposed skin within 20 minutes or less. Some signs of frostbite are burning pain, blisters and numbness. Dr. Reminga adds that if you feel any of these symptoms, you should seek shelter in a warm place, immerse the affected area in warm water and seek medical attention.
Lost Snowmobilers Rescued - January 28, 2014
Two snowmobilers that were missing in the Porcupine Mountains have been rescued. Benjamin Jenney Sr. and Benjamin Jenney Jr., from Albertville, MN, became lost near Silver City in Ontonagon County on Sunday afternoon. The father and son had no survival gear with them. They were able to send a text saying they were stuck in the woods at around 5:30 p.m. Troopers from the Michigan State Police Wakefield Post and volunteer snowmobilers began searching for the father and son Sunday night, until blizzard like conditions forced them to call off the search Monday at 1 a.m. After six hours of searching, both snowmobilers were found in good health. They were taken to Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital by ambulance to treat hypothermic and dehydration symptoms.
Minimum Wage Coalition Started - January 28, 2014
The effort to raise the minimum wage in Michigan got another push yesterday. Community organizing, social justice and labor groups have formed the Raise Michigan coalition to explore a petition drive to put a minimum wage proposal on the November 4 statewide ballot. Michigan’s minimum wage is $7.40 per hour while the federal level is $7.25. Workers who rely on tips for most of their earnings also will be included in the wage hike. Currently Michigan tip workers, like waitresses and bartenders, earn $2.65 per hour. Various bills have been introduced in the state legislature to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for over three years while also raising the minimum wage for tipped employees and indexing the wage to inflation. But Governor Snyder and Republican legislative leaders have indicated that they will not take up the bills this year.
The Issue With Snow Days - January 28, 2014
With a number of Michigan schools shutting down on a regular basis because of this frigid winter weather, the question is what will Michigan lawmakers do about making sure students meet the 180 day requirement to be in school. Currently every school district gets six days off for bad weather but last year the governor signed a bill allowing districts to tag on additional time at the end of the school day to make up the lost time. State Representative Andy Schor argues that if the kids get a day off, they should make up the whole day at the end of the year. He also wouldn’t be opposed to starting the school year a little earlier so districts have a little buffer. But extending the school year deeper into June creates a new set of problems..some schools don’t have air conditioning and some parents will complain that is cutting into their vacation time.
Union Numbers Down Slightly - January 28, 2014
Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the percentage of Michigan’s union membership declined slightly in 2013, the first year that the state’s new right-to-work laws were in effect. But the numbers of people who were union members in Michigan in 2013 actually increased slightly, by some 4,000 people. However, the federal figures showed the percentage declined in part because the number of people employed by the state increased by more than 100,000. 16.3 percent of all Michigan workers were union members in 2013 compared to 16.6 percent in 2012.
Low Reading Scores for MI Children - January 28, 2014
According to a new report, most of Michigan’s fourth graders are not reading proficiently, which is a key predictor of a student’s future educational and economic success. In a new Kids Count data snapshot, the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 81 percent of Michigan’s lower-income fourth-graders and 69 percent of all kids are not reading proficiently. The reports says Michigan’s spending on K-12 education dropped 20 percent, when adjusted for inflation, between 2003 and 2013. During that period, reading proficiency stayed about the same in Michigan while improving in most other states.
Counterfeit Money Passed at Hancock Gas Station - January 27, 2014
Police in Hancock are investigating a potential counterfeit money scam. Police say two men entered the Holiday Station in Hancock shortly before 8 a.m. yesterday and attempted to use two $20 bills for purchase. The first man made a small purchase and asked for change for his other $20 bill, but the cashier refused. The second man bought $15 worth of goods using the other $20 bill. Both bills were later found to be counterfeit. Police say the two suspects were African-American, with one being significantly taller than the other. They claimed to be snowmobilers from out of town but weren’t in possesion of any snowmobiles. Police are investigating if this had any connection with a $50 bill used at a Munising gas station the day before. If you have any information regarding either incident, contact the Hancock police.
Baraga County Looking to Help Local Businesses - January 27, 2014
The Baraga County Chamber of Commerce is spearheading an Economic Development Project to help local businesses get access to resources for improvements. The plan is to create a position where someone can help entrepreneurs with their ideas or even those who want to start their own business. The chamber is asking some of the local governments and organizations for assistance in getting the project off the ground. Among those involved is the village of L’Anse, who will hold their village meeting tonight. Among the items on the agenda is a resolution to support of a segment of the state’s suprlus to be divided amongst the local governments.
Three Injured in Accident on U.S. 41 - January 27, 2014
A three car accident yesterday on U.S. 41 near Boston Rd. has left three people injured. Around 4:30 p.m., a 19-year-old man from Hancock was going south on U.S. 41 in his Dodge Neon. That’s when police say he rear-ended a Chevrolet SUV driven by a 55-year-old Hancock man which caused the SUV to collide head-on with a northbound Mercury Sable driven by a 23-year-old woman from Calumet. All three drivers were taken to Portage Health to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. The roads at the time of the accident were snow-covered and icy with whiteout conditions. The driver of the Neon was cited for driving too fast for conditions.
Child Struck By Car in Franklin Township - January 27, 2014
A five-year-old boy is at Portage Health being treated for injuries sustained from an accident that happened yesterday in Franklin Township. Just before 5 p.m., police responded to the area of Boston Cross Cut Road where a Jeep Cherokee travelling east struck a five-year-old child as he ran into the roadway. Factors in the accidents are believed to be poor visibility, high snow banks and icy road conditions. The Houghton County Sheriff’s office would like to remind motorists to drive carefully according to weather conditions and be aware of pedestrians at all times. Allow extra distance for stopping and be mindful of limited visibility due to high snow banks.
Good Turnout for Heikenpaiva 2014 - January 27, 2014
Although temperatures barely got above zero, a great crowd showed up for Heikenpaiva this weekend. The event commemorates Saint Henrik’s Day, who is the patron saint of Findland. A Finnish-themed parade marched down Quincy Street in downtown Hancock, with David Maki, this year’s Hankooki Heikkie riding alongside his daughter in the world’s largest kicksled. Finnish Theme Committee Co-Chair Jim Kurtti says it’s a local event that uses the Finnish culture to bring the community together.
Along with the Tori Market, kicksleds and the wife-carrying contest, there was the return of the Polar Bear Dive, which had a good turnout in spite of the harsh weather conditions.
Another Bout of Bitter Cold Temps - January 27, 2014
With another round of arctic temperatures expected to impact the entire state until early next week, the Michigan State Police is encouraging Michigan citizens and visitors to be extra cautious when going out in the extreme cold. Captain Chris Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, says as evidence a couple of weeks ago, the frigid temperatures can be potentially life-threatening. He says everyone should be prepared for all possible hazards if they head out. That means bundling up and placing emergency preparedness kits in vehicles with extra blankets and high-energy foods. The National Weather Service is forecasting bitterly cold temperatures and wind chills well below zero degrees statewide possibly until Wednesday.
2013 Holiday Retail Sales “Flat” - January 27, 2014
It wasn’t very jolly for retail sales in Michigan during the just-completed 2013 Holiday shopping season. A new survey just released by the Michigan Retailers Association found overall holiday sales in the state rose an average of just 0.1%, with only 38% of retailers showing positive numbers for the November-December period, 41% experienced sales declines, and 21% reported “flat” sales. MRA President and CEO Jim Hallan says the holiday season was hurt by the wrath of mother nature. Hallan also blamed outdated government policies that favor out-of-state, online companies.
Car Usage Down in U.S. - January 27, 2014
A University of Michigan researcher says American households without a vehicle have increased nearly every year since 2007, providing further evidence that motorization may have peaked in the United States. Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute followed up his research from last year showing that Americans own fewer light-duty vehicles per household, drive them less and consume less fuel than in the past. He examined recent trends in the proportion of U.S. households without a car, pickup truck, SUV or minivan. Sivak found that 9.2% of U.S. households were without a vehicle in 2012, up from 8.7% in 2007.
Auto Show Attendance Hits 11-Year High - January 27, 2014
More than 102,000 people braved the winter weather Sunday to attend the final day of the 2014 North American International Auto Show, pushing the overall attendance record to an 11-year high. The Detroit News reports 803,451 people attended the auto show this year. Auto show spokesman Marc Harlow says it’s the first time that figure has exceeded 800,000 since 2003, when 838,066 people attended. The auto show featured 550 new cars, trucks and concept models from the Big Three automakers and other manufacturers.
Felony Disclosure May Come for Those Seeking Office - January 27, 2014
A state House committee is considering legislation that would require anyone seeking public office to be up-front about any past felony convictions. House Republican Klint Kresto of Commerce Township authored the measure, which would add a box acknowledging any felony convictions within the past 10 years on the affidavit of identity candidates are required to file with the Secretary of State. Currently no such disclosure is required. Kresto says he believes felonies in the last ten years should be disclosed because those seeking public office need to gain the public’s trust. Kesto says juvenile convictions would not be subject to disclosure.
Heikkenpaiva Weekend - January 24, 2014
We have reached the mid-point of winter and you know what that means? Heikkenpaiva will be taking place tomorrow in Hancock and Finnish Theme Committee Member David Maki says it’s the best fun you’ll have all weekend.
Maki will be serving the event as the honorary Hankooki Heikki, given to an individual in the community that strives to promote the Finnish culture. The event begins at 10 a.m. with fesitivies such as kicksleds and the Tori Market. The parade will start at 11 a.m. and later in the day, the Polar Bear Dive will be making its return for the brave souls who wants to plunge into Portage Lake. Maki says there is simply nothing like Heikkenpaiva.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, click here.
Copper Dog Needs Volunteer - January 24, 2014
The Copper Dog 150 will be holding the second of its two lead volunteer training sessions this Saturday. The session will take place at the Jutila Center in Hancock at 11 a.m. They are still seeking more passionate volunteers. Volunteer Director Brian Donnely says it is an important job during the race.
Race organizers are asking for a commitment between 8 to 12 hours in the weeks before the race. For more information, head to the Copper Dog 150 website.
Student Ski Day at Mont Ripley - January 24, 2014
This weekend, Mont Ripley becomes the United Nations. Saturday is the fifth annual International Student Ski Day and Mont Ripley will be home to skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. Ski Hill Manager Nick Sirdenis says the turnout gets bigger every year with many of them first-timers. For more information, contact the main office at Mont Ripley or head to their website.
MSP Calumet Post to Offer Help in Baraga County - January 24, 2014
In an effort to boost police help throught the Copper Country, Michigan State Police from the Calumet Post will be stepping up enforcement in Baraga County. About three years ago, the L’Anse post was closed due to a new regional policing model. Troopers are going to make it easier for residents of those areas to receive police assistance. Also, they will work closely with schools in Baraga County and provide help to those with school safety concerns.
Discussion on Federal Budget Balancing Begins - January 24, 2014
Testimony began in a Michigan house committee Thursday to have Michigan join a call for a national constitutional convention, specifically to mandate that the federal government balance it’s budget. Governor Rick Snyder endorsed this proposed resolution during last week’s State of the State address and sponsors say the support will provide a boost to their efforts. Sponsors also say since Michigan must constitutionally abide by a balanced budget requirement, so should the federal government, especially since the federal debt has grown to such huge proportions after being nearly balanced as recently as the 1990′s.
Numbers on Flu Cases - January 24, 2014
State health officials say more than 1,000 cases of flu have been recorded across Michigan since the beginning of the year. Figures from the Department of Community Health show physicians across the state have reported 1,071 cases of influenza so far in the first three weeks of 2014. In addition, 7,021 cases of flu-like diseases have also been reported. The report did not specify whether any of the cases were the H1N1 flu virus, the strain that led to the death of one child and several adults since the beginning of the flu season.
MacInnes’s Final Council Meeting - January 23, 2014
It was only the second meeting of the year for the Houghton City Council but it was a memorable one because it was the last for Scott MacInnes. He has officially stepped down as City Manager of Houghton, holding the position since 1997 and many others along the way as well. MacInnes says the future is bright for Houghton.
New City Manager Eric Waara will take over for MacInnes, who says he wants his tenure to be defined as a time when everyone came together to build the city into what it is today.
MacInnes will continue to assist the city until his contract finishes at the end of this year. Also, all four resolutions from the meeting were accepted including partnering with the city of Marquette on a satellite SmartZone and a payment to Bacco Construction for their work on the water and sewer projecy last summer.
MTU Students Honored With Snowiest Distinction - January 23, 2014
Accuweather.com recently compiled a list of the top ten snowiest colleges in the United States and the #1 spot was in our own backyard. Michigan Tech was named the snowiest campus in the U.S. according to the list. BlueKey Honors Society President Jack Lubinksi says it’s about time.
Also on the list was Cornell University, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan University. MTU receives roughly 200 inches of snow per year.
U.P. Teens Needed for App-Designing Competition - January 23, 2014
Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek is looking for the brightest young minds in the U.P. for a national competition to design a smartphone app. High schoolers 13 years or older are encouraged to apply for the 2014 House App Contest. Interested students may enter individually or as a team. Benishek says his office will provide detailed instructions and resources for those with no prior knowledge or background in designing apps. The competition submission period is between February 1st and April 30th. More information on what is required to be submitted is available here.
MI Unemployment Down in December - January 23, 2014
Michigan’s unemployment rate in December declined over the month by four-tenths of a percentage point to 8.4 percent. The December jobless rate matched the lowest for the year in both April and May, which were the lowest monthly rates in the state since July 2008. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, the number of unemployed fell by 19,000 while total employment moved upward by 7,000. The net impact was a 13,000 reduction in the state’s labor force over the month. Spokesman Michael Williams says the number of people who found a job advanced for the third consecutive year in 2013 while the state’s unemployment rate continued to trend downward.
Michigan Gets Average Grade for Highway Laws - January 23, 2014
Michigan falls in the middle of the pack in a new report on highway safety laws from the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. In their 11th annual report, Michigan received a classification of “yellow” with the report saying Michigan needs to fill gaps in its laws. One reason for Michigan’s yellow rating is the state’s repeal of the mandatory motocycle helmet law for adult riders. Co-Chair of the group Joan Claybrook says she doesn’t understand why states across the country are repealing this law.
States are graded “green” for best, “yellow” for ‘cautionary’ and “red” for worst. The group says if Michigan didn’t repeal the law in 2012, there would be 26 fewer motorcycle crash deaths.
Pacifier Holder Recall - January 23, 2014
Playtex is recalling 1.4 million pacifier holders because of concern that a small child could choke if a part of the clip broke off. The clips are used to connect a pacifier to clothing, diaper bags or strollers. Playtex has received 99 reports of the holder cracking or breaking, but no injuries have been reported. The plastic clips feature a figure and a “Playtex” copyright logo that slides up and down to adjust the clip, a ribbon and a clear plastic ring that stretches to fit the pacifier. The pacifier holder was sold in green with a monkey figure, pink with a flower and blue with a tow truck. They’re made in China. The recall includes 1.25 million clips sold in the U.S. from 2010 through October 2013 for about $3 at major retailers including Walmart. Consumers should immediately contact Playtex for instructions on how to return the product for a full refund.
Final Meeting for Scott MacInnes - January 22, 2014
Tonight is a very significant city council meeting as City Manager Scott MacInnes officially steps down. MacInnes has been employed by the city of Houghton since 1974 and worked his way up to becoming City Manager in 1997. During his tenure, he has held every administrative position in the city. MacInnes will be giving a farewell speech of sorts at tonight’s meeting and then pass the torch to new City Manager Eric Waara.
The Houghton City Council does have business to take care of as well. Among the items on the agenda is a proposal to develop a SmartZone satellite program with the city of Marquette, who was interested in creating its own SmartZone program but the state of Michigan doesn’t allow it, unless municipalities decide to partner with other cities that already have existing SmartZones. Also up for approval is a payment to Bacco Construction for their work on the water and sewer project last summer and a proposal to require two signatures for any pay request from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Keweenaw Heritage Grants Program Available - January 22, 2014
The Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission along with the National Park Service have announced the start of their Keweenaw Heritage Grants program for 2014. They will be offering up to $100,000 in grants which are subject to a 1-to-1 match. According to the parameters of the program, projects or programs that apply must be located within the boundaries of the Keweenaw Park, affiliated with an existing Keweenaw Heritage Site or located at the Cliff Mine, along Torch Lake or within the community of Painesdale. Grants will range between $1,000 and $15,000. Applications are available at the park headquarters or on the park’s website. The deadline to apply is Tuesday April 1st.
No Changes for UPPCO Yet - January 22, 2014
The utility provider that owns UPPCO says nothing will change for employees or customers for now as a result of the company’s pending sale, but changes may be coming several years from now. Integrys Energy Group has agreed to sell UPPCO to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners for nearly $300 million. Customer bills will look the same and the call center number will remain the same. Integrys officials say Balfour Beatty has not said what aspects of UPPCO it would alter. Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners is a British investment firm with offices in London, Munich, Germany and New York. State and federal regulators still need to approve the sale.
Possibility of Minimum Wage Increase - January 22, 2014
Several reports suggest President Obama is considering using an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors. It could be seen as a step toward putting pressure on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers. U-S Senator Carl Levin of Michigan says he believes there will be an increase in the federal minimum wage. Many business organizations oppose the idea however. Rob Fowler of the Small Business Association of Michigan not only opposes an increase, he opposes the idea of government setting wages, saying the marketplace should decide.
Labor organizations have argued that the minimum wage helps support both the middle class and the U-S economy. Under the current proposal, the minimum wage would increase from today’s $7.25 per hour to $8.20 the first year, to $9.15 the second and to $10.10 the third year.
New President for LSSU - January 22, 2014
Lake Superior State University has named a new president. The university’s Board of Trustees says it has reached an agreement with Thomas Pleger and is expected to formalize his appointment at its regular meeting on January 24 in the Walker Cisler Center on the Sault Ste. Marie campus. Pleger is campus executive officer and dean of the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County. Pleger replaces current LSSU President Tony McLain, who announced in 2012 that he would be retiring. He will be LSSU’s eighth president.
UPPCO To Be Sold - January 21, 2014
The utility provider that owns the Upper Peninsula Power Company has agreed to sell UPPCO. Integrys Energy Group will sell 100% ownership of UPPCO to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners, a British investment firm, for nearly $300 million. State and federal regulators need to approve the sale. Both companies say in a joint statement that the sale should close once those approvals are granted. They also say Balfour Beatty approached Integrys nearly a year ago about buying UPPCO. Balfour Beatty officials say business will continue as usual for UPPCO customers, employees and stakeholders after the sale.
Thin Ice Near Sturgeon River - January 21, 2014
UPPCO is warning residents near the Sturgeon River that all winter recreational activities on the ice near hydroelectric facilities are to be avoided due to thin ice. This is because of continually changing water flows beneath the ice that forms. This is part of normal hydro dam operations. UPPCO also operates dams and storage reservoirs in Dead River, Escanaba and Ontonagon Rivers.
Propane Issues Continue for U.P. - January 21, 2014
More problems on the way for people in the Upper Peninsula who use propane. The Michigan Public Service Commission says a facility in Wisconsin that supplies fuel to the U.P. will shut down for maintenance this week. That as inventories are already 43 percent below last year. The PSC says the propane shortage is due to a number of factors including a late, wet harves, extreme weather and pipeline disruptions. Governor Rick Snyder declared a propane emergency in December allowing delivery drivers to work extra hours. The PSC is urging propane users to conserve as much as possible in the coming weeks.
Fiat Close to Acquiring 100% Ownership of Chrysler - January 21, 2014
The expected closure of the deal giving Italian automaker Fiat 100-percent ownership of Chrysler may be delayed due to yesterday’s Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. When the plan was announced on January 1st, officials said they expected to purchase the shares of the UAW Trust by January 20th. However, banks are closed today and cash transfers would be difficult. Fiat is buying the 41-point-five percent share for a reported four-point-three billion dollars.
Delay in Medicaid Expansion Costing MI Millions - January 21, 2014
Michigan is losing seven million dollars a day, according to senate Democrats, the result of Republicans voting to delay the implementation of Medicaid expansion until mid-March. Republican Senate Majority leader Randy Richardville doesn’t agree. He says that instead of talking about the celebration of more people getting benefits and about reduced lines at emergency rooms, we have to wait ten weeks for the program to hit. He added that what we have is a delay in those benefits being rewarded and it may have to do with politicians looking for attention in an election year. Senate Democrats have set up a website detailing the money being wasted by the delay at 7milliondollardays.com.
New State Record Flathead Catfish - January 21, 2014
The Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the catch of a new state record flathead catfish. The catfish was caught by Dale Blakley of Niles on January 12, on Barron Lake in Cass County. The fish weighed 52 pounds and measured 46.02 inches. A DNR fisheries biologist verified the record catch. The previous state record was caught by Rodney Akey of Niles on the St. Joseph River in Berrien County on May 22, 2012. That fish weighed 49.8 pounds and measured 45.7 inches. Prior to that, the record hadn’t been broken since 1943.
Deadly House Fire in Powell Township - January 20, 2014
The Michigan State Police at the Negaunee Post are investigating a fire that took the life of a 59-year-old woman. Cheryl Girard died Friday night when her house in Powell Township caught fire. The home is a total loss and the cause of the fire is not yet known. A fire department spokesman says it was impossible to enter the building for a rescue attempt. Some four hours later, when fire crews were able to enter the house, they found Girard’s body.
Former Mayor of Lake Linden Passes Away - January 20, 2014
Former Lake Linden Mayor Walter Laverdiere has died. Laverdiere operated Laverdiere Motors for 50 years. He also fronted a popular band called Walt Laverdiere and the Top Hatters, which performed all over the western Upper Peninsula. Leverdiere served four years as mayor of Lake Linden. He passed away Wednesday, at age 90. A Memorial Mass is planned for July.
Year-Round School Program - January 20, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder delivered his State of the State Address Thursday, during which he proposed a pilot program to move low-performing schools to a year round academic calendar. House Democrat Andy Schor of Lansing is sponsoring the bill to create the pilot program. He says in many at-risk areas parents don’t have the ability to pay for camps or summer education programs, so when the kids return to school three months later, teachers are finding they have to re-teach. Schor says his bill would create a fund for those at-risk schools to upgrade their buildings, with things like air conditioning, to accommodate a year-round academic year.
Deer Herd Numbers Low - January 20, 2014
It’s certainly been a tough winter for all of us, right back to the first day of winter. So how will the deer cope this year? DNR Deer and Elk Program Leader Brent Rudolph says we shouldn’t be too worried.
More subzero temperatures are expected in many parts of the state this week. For more information on the deer herd, visit the DNR website.
First Look at All New F-150 - January 20, 2014
The public got its first look Saturday at the all-new 2015 F-150 pickup truck from Ford Motor Company during the public opening of the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. F-150 Marketing Manager, Eric Peterson, says the newly-designed truck features an aluminum body that is 700 pounds lighter than previous versions, a 360-degree camera enabling the driver to see all the way around the truck, and charging stations in the cab so workers can charge tools. Peterson says the changes were the result of consumer demand.
The truck is slated to go into production in the fourth quarter of 2014 and should be in the showroom by the end of the year. The North American International Auto Show runs through Sunday, January 26th.
New App For Pets - January 20, 2014
There’s an app for everything, including first aid for your pet. This one is from the American Red Cross. Kelly Hudson at the American Red Cross of West Michigan says it has advice for dog and cat owners, covering 25 common emergencies. The pet app has data storage so you can track your animal’s weight and vaccinations. Hudson says pet owners can put in their veterinarian’s name and phone number and the app can make that call in an emergency. The Red Cross’ “Pet First Aid App” is a 99-cent download for both Apple and Android platforms with proceeds helping to fund the Red Cross operations.
Snyder Says MI Will Make “Comeback” - January 17, 2014
Michigan is the comeback state. That was the tagline for Governor Rick Snyder as he delivered his fourth State of the State Address last night before a joint session of the House and Senate. During his message, the governor talked about the state’s budget surplus and how there could be some sort of tax relief.
While he was not specific in what form that tax relief would come in, he did say he wants to ease the tax burden on the (quote) “hard working folk.” Snyder also used the opportunity to highlight some successes. Among those accomplishments the governor cited were improved job growth, increased home sales and prices, and two consecutive years of population growth. He also cited a recent report that says Michigan led the nation in increased spending on early childhood education and called for more spending on early education to make Michigan “a no wait state” for early childhood education. He also noted that K-12 per pupil funding has increased $660 dollars over the past three years. The governor also said he would like to encourage legal immigration into the state.
Snyder also echoed last year’s call that lawmakers find more funding to repair the state’s ailing roads.
The governor did make a brief mention of the bankruptcy in Detroit.
Democrats Respond to SOS Address - January 17, 2014
Also last night, Governor Snyder said the state must be responsible with the surplus money and indicated that some should be placed in the Rainy Day Fund, some should go toward early education, and that there could be some tax breaks. But Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer says there was no mention of how we got a surplus.
She says she would also like to see that money used to rebate seniors and for more investment in education. Democrats also disagreed with the governor’s assessment that k-12 per pupil funding increased $660 since he’s taken office. House Minority Leader Tim Greimel says the state needs to concentrate on specifically helping education.
Greimel says more money needs to be invested in the classroom where it improves the quality of student education and reduces class size.
Local Lawmakers Speak on SOS Speech - January 17, 2014
Local lawmakers are sounding off in reaction to Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State address. Republican Senator Tom Casperson says given that he is a part of most the legislations the governor spoke about, the speech was great especially with all of the statistics the governor cited.
Democratic Representative Scott Dianda says he’s glad there was discussion on the education front with the governor mentioning his $65 million investment in early childhood education.
A nearly one billion dollar surplus has the Michigan legislature divided on how to the state should use it. Last night, during his State of the State speech, Governor Rick Snyder talked about how there could be some sort of tax relief. Representative Dianda agrees with that statement, especially in regards to his efforts to repeal the pension tax bill.
Senator Casperson says the Rainy Day Fund should be one of the top priorities as well.
Also during last night’s State of the State address, Senator Casperson noticed that a program in the U.P. was getting recongnition by Governor Rick Snyder.
Snyder complimented Michgian Tech and North Michigan University on their collaboration with the smart zone. Representative Dianda says Snyder’s take on jobs was encouraging because it’s the best way to get the economy rolling again.
Snyder mentioned that over 221,000 private-sector jobs have been added in the past three years and the labor force experienced an increase for the first time since 2006.
Emergency Care in MI Getting Worse - January 17, 2014
A new report from emergency doctors says government support for emergency care went from bad to worse in Michigan between 2009 and today. The report was released by the American College of Emergency Physicians. Michigan ranked 43rd in the country in 2009 and dropped to 46th place in this year’s report. Michigan received an overall grade of D. The report says that while the state has high per capita rates of emergency physicians, it has below average rates of specialists, such as orthopedists and hand surgeons; plastic surgeons.
Hancock Sewer System to be Monitored - January 16, 2014
The Hancock city council hit the ground running in 2014 by passing a few proposals during its first meeting of the year. The council voted to have OHM conduct a sewer flow study on a time and material basis, a project that will not exceed more than $50,000. The Portage Lake and Sewer Authority agreed to install a new master sewer flow meter at the Hancock Lift Station which will cost the city about $9900. Also, the council has accepted the resignation of William Laitila after nine years of service on the council including five years he served as mayor. The council seat opening for Ward 1 will be advertised until January 31st. Then a special meeting on February 4th will be held to consider applications for the seat.
Information Session on White Pine Mine - January 16, 2014
It was a full house last night at the Calumet High School where Keweenaw Copper Company held a community information session in regards to the re-opening of the White Pine Mine. Highland & Keweenaw Copper Vice President Dr. Ross Grunwald presented information the attendees such as the history of mining and maps of other potential copper desposits. The company says it plans to use technologically advanced version of the old methods of mining like room and pillar mining and reconstructing the old ramps and shafts. Grunwald says there is no set timetable for how long the mine will be opened.
He also added that in regards to environmental concerns, the company is doing its due diligence.
Grunwald says the company is not hiring immediately but several hundred positions should open up as they move forward on projects. Dr. Grunwald and White Pine project manager Carlos Bertoni will be guests on this weekend’s edition of Copper Country Today.
New Management at Eagle Mine - January 16, 2014
The Eagle Mine has a new general manager. Michael Welch has taken over as head of the mine that’s under construction in western Marquette County. Before joining Lundin Mining last week, Welch headed up Glencore exstrata’s Raglan nickel operations in Quebec. Before that, he was project director on the successful construction and startup of the Nickel Rim South project in Sudbury, Ontario. In a press release sent out this week by Lundin, Welch promised that the Eagle Mine will be a safe, disciplined operation that promotes local jobs and protects the environment.
Nassiri Stands Mute - January 16, 2014
The domestic assault case that has been getting a lot of national attention is inching closer to a trial. 34-year-old Nima Nassiri was arraigned in Houghton County Circuit Court yesterday on charges of second-degree murder for the alleged assault of his wife, 27-year-old Senaz Nezami, who died days after the incident last month. After the charges against Nassiri were read by Houghton County Prosecutor Michael Makinen, Judge Charles Goodman asked Nassiri for his plea and he chose to stand mute, which allows the court to automatically enter a plea of not guilty. Both attorneys agreed for a pretrial conference to be scheduled in 30 days. Nassiri will face life in prison if he’s convicted.
State of the State Address Tonight - January 16, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder is set to deliver his fourth State of the State message tonight. He will deliver the speech in the State House of Representatives chamber before a joint session of the House and Senate at 7 p.m. The State of the State Address is given each year to outline the governor’s agenda and priorities in the year ahead. The governor may echo his call, from last year’s address, for lawmakers to increase funding to repair Michigan’s roads. While it’s unclear what exactly what the governor will propose, Democratic leaders know what they would like to see the Republican governor call for.
Minimum Wage Could Increase - January 16, 2014
The U.S. Senate could within the next few weeks take up a proposal to phase-in an increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. And U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan believes there’s a chance it could happen. This week, a group of 75 economists backed the idea, saying it will help the economy. Some studies have shown a negative effect on jobs, but other studies show just the opposite. Under the current proposal, the minimum wage would increase from today’s $7.25 per hour to $8.20 the first year, to $9.15 the second and to $10.10 the third year. Levin believes there’s a growing realization that it will have a positive effect on the economy.
Law Requiring Teachers to Add to Pensions Ruled Constitutional - January 16, 2014
A Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled a 2012 law that essentially required teachers and other public school workers to begin to contribute to their retirement plans was constitutional. The court upheld an earlier finding by the Court of Claims that allowed the controversial measure to stand. Under the law, teachers remaining in the basic retirement system would begin contributing 4 percent of their salary to their pension. Teachers could also move to a defined contribution plan or freeze current benefits and see a lower benefit multiplier in future years.
Michigan’s Education Policies Highly Ranked - January 16, 2014
Michigan ranked in the top 10 among states for its education policies in a report card released Tuesday by StudentsFirst. The group said the state’s education policies did well elevating the teaching profession, but not so well getting parents involved in the process. Michigan received a C- overall grade on its policies from the group, founded by former Washington, D.C., Chancellor Michelle Rhee that promotes school choice and charter schools. The group said the state has policies that require efficient spending by school districts, but it needs to link spending to student performance. It also urged expansion of the Education Achievement Authority to further improve efficiency in addressing struggling schools.
Deer Herd Struggling in Subzero Weather - January 15, 2014
The deer herd has been a big part of the Copper Country, which is one of the few areas in the entire state that allows supplemental deer feeding. The Calumet-Keweenaw Sportsmen’s Club near Eagle Harbor is one of two clubs that provide the deer feed during the winter but it is having some issues this season. Club officer Mike Dudenas says it is important to feed the deer because of the accumulated snow depth.
Harsh temperatures and excess snow in the past month has done more damage than anticipated to some of the wildlife but Dudenas says the shrinking herd can be attributed to last year’s winter.
The club wants to continue to feed the herd that’s left and hopefully it will grow again.
Circuit Court Cases for Today - January 15, 2014
Today in circuit court, former Houghton High School hockey volunteer Brad Aldrich is expected to be sentenced on charges of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. He pled guilty to the charge as part of a plea deal which allowed a second charge of third degree CSC to be dismissed. Fourth degree CSC carries a maximum two-year jail sentence. Also due in court is Nima Nassiri, the 34-year-old Dollar Bay man who is accused of second degree murder for the alledged assault on his wife a month ago. He will be arraigned on his charges, which carry a life sentence.
New Board Members for Keweenaw Chamber - January 15, 2014
The Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce held their board elections last week and the results are in. Lisa Dunnebacke has been re-elected to the board. There are three new members: Brian Donnelly, who is a bank manager at River Valley Bank in Calumet; Darrell Guitar, a real estate/insurance agent for Century 21′s North Country Agency; and Elizabeth Hoy, an Industry Outreach Manager at Michigan Tech. This morning will be a vote for the board President, Vice President and Secretary. Also, the Chamber will be holding its Keweenaw Spark Plug Awards next month and the nominations have begun. There are seven awards given to KEDA and Chamber members for their work in 2013. If you would like to nominate a person or project, a link is available on the Keweenaw Report webpage.
First Council Meeting of 2014 for Hancock - January 15, 2014
Tonight will be the first meeting of 2014 for the Hancock city council. Among the items on the agenda are items regarding the sewer system in Hancock. City Manager Glen Anderson will be presenting a request to replace the city’s sewer lift station meter. Also, there will be a proposal for temporary sewer flow monitoring. Also on the docket is the anticipated resignation of council member William Laitila and preparing authorization to the City Clerk to advertise the opening.
Benishek Has A Challenger - January 15, 2014
U.S. Representative Dan Benishek will face a primary challenge in August. Alan Arcand of Caspian announced Monday that he will run against the Crystal Falls Republican. He told Gongwer news service that he disagrees with Benishek’s support of raising the federal dept limit and the Patriot Act. If elected, he says he’ll work to develop more domestic petroleum production and reduce the power of the Environmental Protection Agency so that more mining projects can proceed. Arcand owns an auto repair shop. He has never held elected office, but has served as a Republican delegate to state and national conventions.
UofM Creating Ecosystem of Automated Cars - January 15, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has announced the state is partnering with the University of Michigan to accelerate the development of a commercially viable “ecosystem” of connected automated vehicles. Snyder says Michigan is poised to enhance its position as the automotive capital of the world with a focus on connected automated vehicle technology, and the partnership with the U-M’s new Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) will help usher in the new era. As part of the MTC initiative, U of M is now working with the Michigan Department of Transportation on the design of a unique, simulated urban environment for testing connected and automated vehicles before they are tried out in real traffic.
Portage Health Announces New CMO - January 14, 2014
Portage Health has a new Chief Medical Officer. President and CEO Jim Bogan has appointed Mary Beth Hines to Vice President of Medical Affairs and CMO of Portage Health. In her new role, Dr. Hines will work closely with medical staff leadership and the executive management team. Bogan says Hines has been serving patients in the Portage Health Trauma Center for more than a decade, including time spent as the department’s director. She had previously served as the director of the ER department at the former Keweenaw Memorial Hospital.
Dianda To Repeal Pension Tax Bill - January 14, 2014
State Representative Scott Dianda is standing up for seniors by taking on the state pension tax. Yesterday, he announced a repeal to the legislation, which was voted into law in 2011 but was first fely by seniors when they filled out their taxes last year. And with tax season just around the corner, Dianda says he will do everything in his power to see that it’s repealed.
GM Wins Both Best Vehicle Awards - January 14, 2014
It’s a sweep for General Motors, which won Car and Truck of the Year honors at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Truck/Utility of the Year is the Chevy Silverado and the Car of the Year is the Corvette Stingray. The winners are chosen by a panel of 48 automotive journalists in the United States and Canada. Jurors evaluated the entries based upon design, innovation, handling, safety, driver satisfaction and value. The other finalists in the car category were the Cadillac CTS and Mazda 3. The Jeep Cherokee and Acura MDX were the other two finalists in the truck/utility vehicle category.
VP Biden to Appear at Auto Show - January 14, 2014
Vice President Joe Biden will make an appearance Thursday at the Detroit Auto Show where he will speak about the resurgence of the auto industry. According to a press release, Biden is scheduled to make public comments sometime after 9 a.m. and is expected to highlight the industry’s strong recovery following tough restructuring and shared sacrifice required by the Obama administration’s actions in 2009. It will be the third time Biden has made a public visit to the Motor City since 2012.
New Aluminum Ford F-150 Coming Soon - January 14, 2014
Big news from the Auto Show as Ford unveiling an all aluminum alloy F-150 pickup truck. Joe Hinrichs, Ford President of the Americas, says a lot of the focus is around the aluminum body that is 700 pounds lighter than previous versions. He says, though, there are a lot more spiffs as well. For example there’s a 360-degree camera enabling the driver to see all the way around the truck. There are also charging stations in the cab so workers can charge their tools. The truck is slated to go into production in the fourth quarter and should be in the showroom by the end of the year.
MDOT Asking Drivers to Point Out Potholes - January 14, 2014
The extreme winter weather over the past couple of weeks has led to large increase in the number of potholes on Michigan roads and highways. The pavement is damaged by the “freeze/thaw” process and temperatures have been well above freezing for the past several days. The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking drivers to help them identify problem spots. Drivers can go to to the MDOT website and select the road where they have encountered a problem. M-DOT reminds motorists they only repair potholes on freeways with an “M” “I” or “US” designation like M-26 or US 41.
Pilot Program to Help Safe Driving for Teens - January 14, 2014
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has unveiled a pilot program with Big Brothers Big Sisters to help at-risk teens gain practical driving experience. With a Level 1 license or learner’s permit under Michigan’s licensing program, young drivers must log a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving with a parent, guardian or designated adult age 21 or older. Under the pilot program, volunteers or “Bigs” are encouraged to serve as the driving coach and role model for their Little Brother or Sister.
The Secretary of State provides materials, including access to a free smartphone app that helps track hours behind the wheel and offers coaching tips. No additional auto insurance is required when driving with a teen with a Level 1 license. Johnson says teens need hel to obtain the training and practice to learn how to drive safely. In 2012, 10 percent of drivers in Michigan involved in fatal crashes were under the age of 21.
Teachers Unions Criticizing Snyder - January 14, 2014
Ahead of Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address Thursday, teachers unions are criticizing the governor’s education policies. Governor Snyder is expected to highlight some of his successes and future plans for education in Michigan during this week’s speech, but some education advocates are criticizing Snyder’s record of public education policies. President of the American Federation of Teachers, David Hecker, says while the governor says he values education, his budget reflects different values. He says during Snyder’s first year in office, he slashed higher education funding by 15 percent while at the same time, he cut one billion-dollars from the school aid fund to help pay for his corporate tax giveaway.
Last year, Governor Snyder put 65 million dollars into early childhood education. But Michigan Education Association spokesman Doug Pratt says it was paid for with funding syphoned out of the School Aid Fund. He says it’s time the governor and other lawmakers in Lansing value all levels of education, not just early childhood programs.
Snowmobile Accident Kills One Illinois Man - January 13, 2014
A weekend snowmobile accident has left one person dead and another in the hospital. Last night just after 8 p.m. State Troopers from the Calumet and Wakefield posts responded to a snowmobile accident on Trail 8 near Kenton in Duncan Township. Two men from Illinois were travelling west when a deer ran out and caused a collision between the two drivers. 50 year old Jeffrey Vandenaykel was transported to Baraga County Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead due to this injuries. The other driver was also at Baraga County Memorial Hospital being treated for non-life threatening injuries. The accident is still under investigation.
Nassiri Bound to Circuit Court - January 13, 2014
34-year-old Nima Nassiri was in Houghton County District Court today on charges of second degree murder for his alledged assault on his wife, 27-year-old Senaz Nezami. Nassiri chose to waive the preliminary hearing and now his case is bound to circuit court, where he is scheduled for arraignment this Wednesday. The story has garnered some national attention including BBC America who were present during today’s proceedings. If convicted, Nassiri can face up to life in prison.
Former Lt. Gov. Binsfeld Passes Away - January 13, 2014
Former Lt. Governor Connie Binsfeld has died at the age of 89.
Binsfeld was Michigan’s Lt. Governor from 1991 thorough 1999.
She was a champion of children’s issues and also the first female to be elected to high leadership posts in the Michigan House, Michigan Senate and the executive office. She began her career in 1974 when she was elected to the house. Binsfeld was named to the Michigan Women’s Hall of fame in 1998. Binsfeld had been living in hospice care in Leelanau County, according to a spokesperson. Governor Rick Snyder, in a statement from his office, says she left an indelible mark on the state she loved and she served with modesty and integrity, always putting Michigan first.
Preliminary Hearing for Nassiri - January 13, 2014
Today is the preliminary hearing for Nima Nassiri, the 34-year-old man who is accused of second degree murder for his alleged assault on his wife 27-year-old Sanaz Nezami, which lead to her death due to the injuries. The story has garnered some national attention from publications such as the Huffington Post and the New York Daily News. Nezami’s family in Iran was able to watch her last minutes using a laptop and a live feed from Marquette General Hospital. Also, the family allowed for most of Nezami’s major organs including her heart, lungs and liver to be donated. If convicted, Nassiri could face life in prison.
Snowmobile Trail Closes - January 13, 2014
Bad news for snowmobilers. According to the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, Snowmobile trail 122 has been temporarily closed. The Dreamland access trail near Lake Linden to Gay has been deemed unnecessary due to the logging operations on private land utilized by the trail. Businesses in Lake Linden and the Bootjack area will remain accessible off of the trail during the closure. Once logging is completed the trail will reopen to riders.
Snyder Declares State of Emergency - January 13, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has declared a State of Energy Emergency in Michigan due to temporary shortages of heating oil and propane. This energy emergency is a new, separate declaration from the one the governor made in December. The heating oil and propane shortage was caused by increased demand due to subzero temperatures and uncharacteristically heavy snowfall that delayed deliveries of heating oil and propane. The executive order suspends state and federal regulations relating to hours-of-service for motor carriers and drivers transporting heating oil and propane within Michigan, enabling these individuals to exceed the number of hours and consecutive days in which they can operate a commercial motor vehicle.
State to Lose Seat in U.S. House - January 13, 2014
Despite statistics that Michigan’s population has started to come back, an online political website says Michigan is likely to lose another seat in the US House after the next census in 2020. The website “RealClearPolitics.com” predicts that Michigan will be one of seven states that will lose a congressional district. The others are Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Illinois. Losing a seat would mean Michigan would have 13 House seats instead of 14. Comparatively, as recently as 1970, Michigan had 19 US House seats.
Underutilized Labor in Michigan - January 13, 2014
A new state report says the rate of underutilized labor in Michigan shrunk at a faster rate than the nation as a whole. However Michigan still lags significantly behind the US in underutilized labor. Underutilized labor includes both the unemployed and underemployed. In quoting the state report, the Lansing-based Gongwer News Service says the underutilized rate of labor in Michigan last year averaged just under 16 percent of the total workforce. That compares to well over 16 percent in 2012. A similar report shows the national rate at just over 14 percent.
Fishing Tournaments Go Online - January 13, 2014
Those running fishing tournaments in the state will have an easier time scheduling this year with a new online system to be launched next week. Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter says the Fishing Tournament Information System will allow tournament directors to see online which lakes and access areas are available for the week they are planning, and then to reserve a space through the same site.
Dexter says also that once the tournament is complete, officials can enter data about the fish caught through the system as well.
The schedule of tournaments will also be open to the public, though the fish data would be available only to the department staff.
State EOC Deactivated - January 13, 2014
With improving weather conditions and Michigan communities returning to more normal seasonal operations, the State Emergency Operations Center in Lansing was deactivated Friday. Michigan State Police say during the five-day activation, personnel from state agencies monitored weather conditions and stood ready to assist local emergency personnel as needed. Captain Chris Kelenske, Commander of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, says although conditions are improving, citizens should still use caution and follow safety warnings as road and weather conditions are still potentially dangerous.
House Fire in Tamarack City - January 10, 2014
A large fire engulfed a house in Tamarack City this afternoon. The Tamarack City Volunteer Fire Department got the call from a neighbor just after 3 p.m. to a house on the corner of 2nd Street and Spruce Street just off of M-26. Nobody was in the house at the time. According to one of the homeowners who spoke briefly to Tamarack City Fire Chief Steve Klein, her boyfriend was in the garage and when he looked back, the house was on fire. He tried to run back in to save the dogs but could only rescue one. He was taken to Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Lake Linden and Hubbell Fire Departments assisted on the scene. The cause of the fire is not yet known. The Red Cross and the Pigs-N-Heat Fire Relief Fund are offering their help and support.
Marijuana Growing Operation Discovered - January 10, 2014
The Michigan State Police are investigating a marijuana growing operation in Osceola Township. Troopers from the Calumet Post received a call about a snow plowing complaint. While on the scene, troopers noticed an overwhleming smell of marijuana from a nearby house. Troopers approached the homeowner and received consent to search the house, where they found over 20 marijuana plants and over 2000 grams of usable marijuana. No arrests have been made at this time.
“Hankooki Heikki” Announced - January 10, 2014
The 15th annual Heikinpäivä is later this month and each year, the Finnish Theme Committee selects one person whose work toward preserving and promoting Finnish culture in the area goes above and beyond normal efforts. That person is the festival’s “Hankooki Heikki” and presides over the festivities, wearing the crown and robe that come with the honor. This year’s Hankooki Heikki is Finnish Theme Committee member David Maki. He says he is honored to receive this distinction.
Maki added that he will still be heavily involved in the organization of the festivities.
A link to the full schedule of events and heritage classes is available here. Maki and fellow Finnish Theme Committee member Kay Seppala will be guests on this weekend’s edition of Copper Country Today.
Casperson Prepared for Battle Over Wolf Hunt - January 10, 2014
The Michigan Legislature reconvened in Lansing on Wednesday following their holiday break and Senator Tom Casperson was among those heading back to work. After completion of the first ever U.P. wolf hunt, Casperson says he is not discouraged by the underwhelming results.
The senator anticipates dueling proposals on the upcoming November ballots with those against any future wolf hunts and those that support it. Casperson will also be a guest on this weekend’s edition of Copper Country Today.
Snowmobile Safety Class - January 10, 2014
The Range Snowmobile Club is holding snowmobile safety classes tomorrow at Atlantic Mine. The class will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. People of all ages are welcome, but a parent or guardian must accompany a child 10 years or younger. Pre-registration is required. Those who complete the course will receive snowmobile driving certification. For more information, click here.
Local Film Needs Funding - January 10, 2014
A local production company is asking for help to complete a movie that has a strong message about finding an identity in a multi-cultural world. The movie is called “Mutt” and Early Spring Productions is in need of funds to put the movie on the big screen. Filming is done but Media Specialist Molly Linn says they’ve hit a snag in post-production.
The film has been 100% locally produced, from the shooting locations to the cast and crew. Those interested in making a donation can click here.
Immigration Rates Even Out in MI - January 10, 2014
A new study shows that for the first time since 1997 Michigan had almost as many people moving into the state as moving out. The 37th Annual Migration Study released this week tracked 129,000 moves by the company nationwide in 2013. It showed that there were over 5500 moves in and out of Michigan. Of those, 46% were into the state and 54% were out of the state. After 16 consecutive years at or near the top of the outbound list, Michigan appeared in the balanced category for 2013. Michigan led the nation in moves out of the state from 2006 to 2009. Economist Michael Stoll who is chair of the Department of Public Policy at UCLA says Michigan has joined the balanced category due to improvement in its economy over the past two years. He says that despite having an unemployment rate higher than the national average, home sales and home prices are up showing an increased demand for housing and the state’s per capita income is up.
Senate Continues Debating Unemployment Extension - January 10, 2014
The U-S Senate continues to debate proposals to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless in the United States. Meantime, Michigan’s Senior U-S Senator is hoping for a quick solution for what he calls “desparate” people who continue to look for work. Senator Carl Levin says it’s “immoral” not to act quickly to extend a federal law which expired in late December allowing for emergency extensions of unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 56 weeks. The Detroit Democrat says it will cost about 6.5 billion dollars for a three-month extension. While Republicans have proposed budget cuts affecting children to offset the cost, Levin counters with closing major tax loopholes given to corporations to make up the difference. Failure to act on an emergency extension has thrown 1.3 million unemployed off of the insurance program. Levin says this is an emergency situation, and Congress needs to act even if the revenue is not there right now to pay for it.
New Voting Machines Could Be Replaced - January 10, 2014
A study of Michigan’s use of optical scan voting machines concludes that they have an unacceptable error rate, are deteriorating as they surpass a decade in age and should be replaced with human hand counts. The study, conducted by the Michigan Election Reform Alliance, which includes several of those individuals involved in unsuccessful efforts to recall Governor Rick Snyder, reviewed ballots from 31 precincts in Allegan County from the 2008 election, specifically for the State Board of Education race. The group found the average error rate for the optical scan tabulators to be 0.21 percent from the hand count – or one of every 500 ballots – which it says is not good enough to decide races with a margin of victory no larger than 0.2 percent. The state moved to the optical scan system following the 2000 election when the Florida presidential election recount left the punch card system, which was used in many Michigan jurisdictions, discredited. The group is advocating that the state move to a hand count system instead of purchasing replacement optical scan machines, which could cost $65 million. It estimated the cost of hiring more election workers at $20 million over 10 years.
Celebrate Heikinpäivä in Hancock - January 9, 2014
This year Heikinpäivä is scheduled for January 25th but the celebration begins today in Hancock. All this month, there will be activities and festival events to celebrate Heikinpäivä, the day of the passing of Findland’s St. Henry and the midpoint of winter. All leading up to the Heikinpäivä parade. Finnish Theme Committee member David Maki says it is one of the most culturally important events in the Copper Country.
Click here for the full schedule of events and heritage classes. Maki and fellow Finnish Theme Committee member Kay Seppala will be guests on this weekend’s edition of Copper Country Today.
Power Restored in Rural Houghton County - January 9, 2014
More than 1300 UPPCO customers are breathing a sigh of relief after a lengthy power outage yesterday left them in the dark and without heat for almost nine hours. The outage effected almost 90 percent of communities in Ahmeek, Allouez, Copper City, Kearsarge, Mohawk and New Allouez and was caused by a broken power pole crossarm in Houghton County. The site of the problem was so remote that UPPCO personnel had to use snowmobiles to reach it safely. The outage occurred shortly after 3:00 a.m. but UPPCO was able to restore power around noon. The company apologizes for any inconvenience.
2013 A Good Year for Houghton - January 9, 2014
The first city council meeting for the city of Houghton was a productive one, as some of the first proposals of 2014 were accepted. City Manager Scott MacInnes said 2013 was a good year for the city.
The first two approved resolutions of the new year deal with deficit elimination plans, one for the Downtown Development Authority, which is expected to be eliminated by 2018 and the other for the water fund, which will be eliminated this year. Leftover from 2013 is a proposal to make amendments to the Houghton zoning code, which was accepted. Also approved was the contract for new city manager Eric Waara, which will be five years long.
Kangas Bound to Circuit Court - January 9, 2014
A Hancock man facing criminal sexual conduct charges is having his case bound over to Circuit Court. 37 year old Michael Kangas had a preliminary exam in Houghton County District Court yesterday. He’s charged with three counts of second-degree CSC. Two of the counts are said to involve separate incidents with a child under the age of 13. The third count involves a child between the ages of 13 and 16. Kanags will appear in Circuit Court for his arraignment on January 15th.
Increase in Insurance Claims - January 9, 2014
Insurers in Michigan say the past seven weeks of winter weather has resulted in a dramatic increase in auto and property insurance claims in Michigan. And with the increase in claims there’s always the chance it could mean higher insurance premiums. The Insurance Institute of Michigan says however it’s too early to know how the increase in claims will affect premiums. Standard homeowners policies generally cover damage that result from a freeze. For example, if house pipes freeze and burst or if ice forms in gutters and causes water to back up under roof shingles and seep into the house. You would also be covered if the weight of snow or ice damages your house. However, most policies do not cover backups in sewers and drains. Coverage for sewers and drains is generally offered as an endorsement to a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Snyder Gets Low Grade from Sierra Club - January 9, 2014
The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter released its first gubernatorial scorecard Wednesday, that evaluates Rick Snyder’s performance on energy, environment, good government and related issues during his first three years as governor. Sierra Club Political Chairman Richard Barron says Governor Snyder scored a “somewhat pathetic” 22-percent reflecting a failing grade on 33 issues they examined. He says 78-percent of his decisions during Snyder’s term have allowed for unnecessary pollution of the state’s water, air and land, and undermined public health and good government. Mike Berkowitz, Sierra Club legislative and policial director, says the scorecard cited 21 bills signed by Governor Snyder that were a direct attack on the environment, and 4 bills that were a direct attack on good government, all of which have a serious impact on the public each day. The scorecard does credit Governor Snyder for signing legislation creating a Regional Transit Authority in Southeast Michigan, but is highly critical of legislation he signed to allow for a wolf hunt, among other things.
Still Time to Get A Flu Shot - January 9, 2014
Health officials continue to urge Michigan residents to get a flu vaccination, as influenza activity continues to rise. The Michigan Department of Community Health says there has been an increase in hospitalizations from the flu in every age group and at least six deaths have been reported this flu season. MDCH spokesperson Angela Minicuci says many of the cases being reported are H1N1 cases, the virus strain that caused a pandemic in 2009. But, she says, this year’s flu shot includes a vaccine for H1N1, so it’s a good time to get the shot. Minicuci says other ways to help protect yourself and others from the flu is: to wash your hands with soap and warm water; if you have the flu, stay home; and if someone in your home is ill, wipe off door knobs and common surfaces to prevent the spread of the virus to your family members.
Cattlefarmer Received Help from Taxpayers - January 9, 2014
Taxpayers have footed the bill for more than $200,000 to assist a single controversial cattle farmer in the western Upper Peninsula against wolf attacks. That’s according to newly obtained documents by Mlive.com. The documents detail a Department of Natural Resources memorandum that shows growing frustration with 68-year-old John Koski, well before he was charged recently with animal cruelty in connection with alleged misuse of state assistance to deter wolves. Koski has had more cattle attacks by wolves than almost all other farms combined – 122 verified killed or injured out of 248 statewide since 1996. Most of his losses happened in the past three years. DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell wrote that Koski has done nothing to help himself noting that the fences are still in horrible need of repair, portions of the large pasture are forest or shrublands, and husbandry practices have not changed.
Help for Low-Income Utility Customers - January 8, 2014
Assistance to low-income utility customers in the U.P. will be available due to a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission. SEMCO, the Salvation Army, Superior Watershed and TrueNorth were among the 14 organizations across the state to receive funding and will now have a chance to help those effected by the severe cold temperatures. Low-income households are encouraged to seek assistance during this time. For a list of the programs and info on each, click here.
Preview of Houghton City Council Meeting - January 8, 2014
Tonight will be the first Houghton city council meeting of 2014 and there is much to discuss. Leftover from 2013 is a proposal to make amendments to the Houghton zoning code. The first two resolutions of the new year deal with deficit elimination plans, one for the Downtown Development Authority, which is expected to be eliminated by 2018 and the other for the water fund, which will be eliminated this year. Also up for approval is the contract for new city manager Eric Waara, which will be five years long.
Unemployment Increases in U.P. - January 8, 2014
Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates declined in most of Michigan in November, but the rates did increase in three regions. The U.P. was one of those three. Among the counties with a double-digit rate were Keweenaw, Baraga and Ontonagon. Houghton County’s unemployment rate was a little less than 8%. That news comes from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The unemployment rate for the U.P. as a whole in November was 9%. That was up by four-tenths of a point from October and by more than a full percentage point from a year earlier. Spokesman Michael Williams says November fluctuations were seasonal in the northern areas with job cuts in tourism-related industries and construction somewhat offset by gains in retail trade. Michigan’s unemployment rate declined over those same periods of time.
Additional Revenue Coming to MI - January 8, 2014
The Michigan House Fiscal Agency is projecting $1.1 billion in additional revenue for the state through 2016. The HFA estimates show the state ending Fiscal Year 2013 with about $373 million more in the General Fund and more than $56 million more in the School Aid Fund. It projects $154 million in the General Fund and a little over $108 million in the School Aid Fund for the current Fiscal year 2014. It estimates just under $297 million in the General Fund and $136 million in the School Aid Fund for Fiscal Year 2015. Friday is the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference which will come up with a consensus revenue number that Governor Rick Snyder will use in presenting his proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget in February.
Flu, Measles Among Highest Cases in 2013 - January 8, 2014
Health officials say flu, measles and pertussis were among the diseases the state saw higher cases of during 2013. But according to figures released by the Department of Community Health, chickenpox, West Nile Virus and typhoid were among the diseases that had fewer instances last year. Flu cases diagnosed and reported increased to over 5,700 in 2013 compared to over 3,000 in 2012 and was the highest number diagnosed in five years. Once, decades ago, measles were common in Michigan. But with vaccinations the disease was nearly wiped out in the state.
New In-Car Domino’s App - January 8, 2014
Ford Motor Company and Domino’s Pizza are about to take the concept of the “drive through” to a new level. They’ve come up with an app that allows you to order a pizza using simple voice commands through Ford’s Sync connectivity system. Julius Marchwicki, global product manager for Ford SYNC AppLink, says consumers are starting to replace the standard things that they would normally do such as picking up the phone and calling their local pizza joints and instead they are starting to do that online, and they are doing that ordering from their mobile device. Marchwicki says the Dominos app allows customers to store favorites within the app, and make a very quick order, with a simple voice command. Marchwicki says using an in-car app is much safer than trying to order with a smart phone app while driving.
Snow Plow Safety Advice - January 7, 2014
Snow plows will be hitting the roads bright and early but some drivers need to be cautious when driving near them as to not cause any damage to their vehicle or the plow. Road Commission Superintendent Ray Saatio says there are a few things people can do when they are behind a snow plow.
Heavy equipment operator Keith Jenich adds that those who shovel or plow their snow to the street don’t know how dangerous that is.
Many property owners have already been issued warnings about plowing or shoveling into the street, a ticketable offense. If you have any questions or concerns about snow plow safety, contact the Road Commission.
Chassell Man Charged in Snowmobile Accident - January 7, 2014
A Chassell man is charged with driving a snowmobile while drunk after falling through the ice of Portage Lake. The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department says he is 43 year old James Manderfield. He fell through the ice shortly before 12:30 Saturday morning near Dollar Bay. Manderfield was taken to Portage Health in Hancock for treatment. The Houghton County Sheriff’s Department arrested him for operating while intoxicated on a snowmobile, which is a misdemeanor. Manderfield is free on bond and has a pretrial on January 22nd in 97th District Court.
Paper Mill Deal in U.P. - January 7, 2014
Two companies that operate paper mills in the Upper Peninsula have struck a deal. Verso Paper announced Monday that it plans to buy NewPage Holdings Inc. for $1.4 billion. The Memphis, Tennessee-based coated papers maker expects the acquisition of the printing and specialty paper maker to conclude in the second half of this year. Verso currently operates a mill in Quinnesec (Kwahn-ih-kuh-SEE), while NewPage has a paper mill in Escanaba. The combined company will have sales of approximately $4.5 billion and 11 manufacturing facilities located in six states.
Bigger Bonuses for Big 3 Hourly Workers - January 7, 2014
Hourly workers for Detroit’s Big Three automakers could see larger bonuses this year. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler could reward U.S. hourly workers with another huge profit-sharing check, as manufacturing operations approach peak efficiency. The automakers are expected to announce specifics next month in regards to per-worker profit-sharing totals and their 2013 financial results. Based on anticipated earnings, industry analysts believe more than 800-million dollars in profit-sharing checks will go out.
Keeping Asian Karp Out of Great Lakes - January 7, 2014
A long awaited study from the Army Corps of Engineers says that the effort to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes could cost at least 15 billion dollars. The study examined 13 aquatic nuisance species including the Asian carp, and describes eight options for keeping them from the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin. According to scientists, Asian carp are voracious eaters and pose a great threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. The most expensive option is to physically separate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin, a plan that would cost 18 billion dollars and take a quarter of a century to complete.
Preparing for Cold Temperatures - January 6, 2014
The Michigan State Police say that if you have to leave your home today, make sure you dress in layers in preparation for the cold temperatures. Health experts say the most important thing to remember is to protect all exposed skin, and realize that frostbite and hypothermia are painless health threats, but that those types of cold injuries can include vascular and some nerve damage. If that happens the recommendation is that the affected skin should be kept clean and free of infection, and the problem should go away by itself within a week. Houghton County Emergency Measures Director Jack Duewke says there are certain things you should have in your home when temperatures get this cold.
Salvation Army Opens As Emergency Warming Center - January 6, 2014
The Hancock Salvation Army says their office is now designated as an emergency warming center for people who don’t have a place to go to stay warm. To make arrangements for use of the facility, contact local law enforcement or the Salvation Army office (482-3420).
Man Falls Into Portage Lake - January 6, 2014
The Houghton County Sheriff’s office is investigating an incident where a 43-year-old male snowmobiler fell through the ice on Portage Lake. The incident happened on Saturday near Dollar Bay. He was transported to Portage Lake Hospital and treated for his injuries. Alochol was believed to be a factor in the incident.
Flu Claims Three More Lives in Michigan - January 6, 2014
According to the state Department of Community Health, the flu is being blamed for three more deaths in Michigan. An infant from the central part of the state had already died from the flu. According to health officials at the University of Michigan Hospital, the strain of flu that is turning out to be so deadly is the H1N1. U of M Hospital currently has about a dozen adults and children on life support because of the H1N1 strain of the flu. All of those patients were previously healthy, but none of them had the flu shot.
Historic Winter Storm in Lower Peninsula - January 6, 2014
It’s a winter storm they’ll be talking about for years. And it’s hit Michigan head-on, and has impacted millions in the Lower Peninsula, with a foot of snow or more, creating hazardous travel and dangerous conditions for anyone who is outside for any length of time. Flight delays and cancellations are leaving passengers stranded at airports across the Midwest and Northeast. Governor Rick Snyder says state and local authorities are actively monitoring and undergoing preparations regarding the weather conditions and are ready to assist communities if necessary. He urged everyone to pull together by taking care of themselves and each other, which includes checking in on friends and neighbors who may need help.
December Auto Sales Down - January 6, 2014
Auto sales numbers for Chrysler, General Motors and Ford were beneath expectations for the month of December. But sales numbers were better when all of 2013 is considered. Last month, Chrysler sales were up 5.7 percent, below the 8.4 percent prediction. Ford sales last month increased only 1.7 percent, below the 4.3 percent expectation. And General Motors had a awful month, as its sales fell 6.3 percent when it expected a 1.5 percent increase. For the year, Chrysler sales were up nine percent, GM was up seven percent and Ford was up 10.8 percent.
L’Anse Family Needs Help After Trailer Fire - January 3, 2014
A family is in need of help after their trailer caught on fire on the night of New Year’s Eve. The L’Anse Police and Fire Departments answered a call at 11:30 pm Tuesday and when they arrived on the scene, they found a trailer home on Mackey Road engulfed in flames. The trailer belonged to the family of John Hebert. No one was home at the time and the cause of the fire is not yet known. If you would like to help the Hebert family, click here.
New CEO at Marquette General Hospital - January 3, 2014
Marquette General Hospital now has a new chief executive officer. Ed Banos has been named CEO, effective immediately. He had been president and chief operating officer of the hospital since last May. He will take over for Gary Muller who stepped down from the CEO position at MGH at the end of the year. He’ll continue serving as president and CEO of Superior Health Partners until his scheduled retirement in February. MGH officials say Banos has more than 25 years of experience in hospital administration and health care executive roles.
Heavy Snowfall Effecting County Budget - January 3, 2014
This winter has brought down significant snowfall in Houghton County and the Road Commission is trying their best to keep the roads danger-free. Factors like ice cold temperatures and everyday snow fall is making it hard on the plows that hit the streets in the early parts of the morning. Road Commission Superintendent Ray Saatio says they have all that they can handle at this point.
From a budget perspective, County Engineer Kevin Harju says the road commission is already about $70,000 dollars over-budget compared to last year. Harju says most of the budget goes to fuel consumption for the plows. He also added that this winter may have an effect on the road commission’s work during the summer.
The road commission staff has been downsized about 20% in the past ten years but Harju says it is still their job to make sure the roads are safe for the drivers.
CC Humane Society Animals Need A New Home - January 3, 2014
The Copper Country Humane Society in Houghton wants everyone to know they still have a lot of pets to give away. They recently held their “12 Dogs of Christmas” campaign but were only able to get two of the twelve dogs adopted. Humane Society Staff Member Katelyn Hough says that doesn’t mean they were the only two adopted.
They also have many cats available as well and Hough says you can’t go wrong with either choice.
For more information on how to adopt a pet, head to the CCHS website.
Calumet Hockey Celebrates 100 Years at the Colosseum - January 3, 2014
This weekend is the Calumet Colosseum Centennial Celebration and it will feature several games with some of the best youth hockey teams, including two high school games. All leading up to the centennial game on Monday between the Calumet Wolverines and the Portage Lake Pioneers. So what makes this game so special? The first game played at the Colosseum was 100 years ago and it featured these two teams. Local hockey historian Bob Erkkila says much has changed since those days.
The centennial game will be broadcasted live on K-Bear 102 and kbear102.com.
Sex Offender Registration Begins - January 3, 2014
State Police are reminding all registered sex offenders that the 15-day address verification period started on Wednesday and runs through mid-month. During this period, state law requires all registered offenders to report in person to their local law enforcement agency, sheriff’s office or nearest MSP post to verify their address. The Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act requires Tier 1 offenders to verify their address annually, during beginning of January. Tier 2 offenders must verify their address semi-annually, during the beginning of January and July. Tier 3 offenders must verify their address quarterly, during the beginning of January, April, July and October. Failure to do so carries a penalty of up to two years of incarceration. All registered sex offenders must also report a change of name, address or other important information. Failure to do so is a four-year felony.
Ford To Introduce Solar-Powered Concept Car - January 3, 2014
Ford Motor Company is announcing the creation of a solar powered concept car. The C-MAX Energi Concept is a first-of-its kind sun-powered vehicle with a solar panel roof that draws power from a special solar concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept will be displayed at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas next week.
MI Loses Drone Site Bid - January 3, 2014
Michigan has lost out on its bid to become one of six sites across the US that will develop unmanned aircraft systems. It had been hoped Alpena would be one of the sites chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration. But the state has lost out to Virginia, New York, Texas, Nevada, North Dakota and Alaska. Congress had ordered the F-A-A to conduct research before it allows the large-scale use of drones for commerce, law enforcement and other purposes.
State of the State Address Scheduled for 1/16 - January 3, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder is set to deliver his fourth State of the State Address on Thursday, January 16. Snyder’s office announced yesterday the Republican governor will deliver the speech in the State House of Representatives chamber before a joint session of the House and Senate at 7 p-m that day. The State of the State Address is given each year to outline the governor’s agenda and priorities in the year ahead.
U.P. Wolf Hunt Still Considered A Success - January 2, 2014
Michigan officials are calling the state’s historic first wolf hunt a success, despite falling short of the number they had hoped for. The Department of Natural Resources says as of Tuesday, which was the final day of the wolf hunt, 23 wolves were killed in three sections of the Upper Peninsula. The state had issued 1,200 wolf licenses for the 45-day hunt with a goal of killing 43 wolves during the season that began on November 15. Wildlife biologist at the DNR’s Marquette office, Brian Roell, says the first hunt was successful because it was the first time the state used a call-in system to keep track of animals killed. It also marked a shift from more than 50 years ago, when the state paid hunters a bounty to kill wolves. Before the season, the DNR estimated that Michigan had 658 wolves.
Duggan Ready to Make History - January 2, 2014
His powers are limited due to the presence of state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr, but Mike Duggan has become the first white man to serve as mayor of Detroit in 40 years. The Motor City is going through bankruptcy and faces an uphill climb to return to local control, but Duggan has committed himself to working with Orr and the Detroit City Council to turn around the city. Mayor Duggan will have control of most day-to-day operations, leaving Orr to handle supervision of the police and financial matters.
Ford Tops in Sales for 2013 - January 2, 2014
For the fourth straight year, Ford Motor Company expects to be the best selling brand in the United States. When numbers are officially released later this week, Ford is anticipating reporting that 2.4 million vehicles were sold in the country this year. Sales highlights include record sales of Fusion, Escape and Fiesta. The Ford F-Series pickup is the best selling vehicle in the country.
A Busy Year for the MI Legislature - January 2, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder signed just under 280 bills into law in 2013, including controversial legislation expanding Medicaid in Michigan, a move connected to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. According to Gongwer News, the Medicaid bill was the top piece of legislation for 2013. Ranking second was an indigent defense bill, which supporters hope will give a needed boost to the system that provides lawyers to those who can’t afford one. Also approved was a controversial petition initiated bill that prohibits insurance companies from including abortions in traditional medical coverage, effectively allowing the coverage only as an extra rider to a policy. Ranking 4th was a bill moving the Michigan Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit Court — the home county to the Capital — to the Michigan Court of Appeals, with the judges appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court. The bill was hugely partisan, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats opposing it. The measure reforming Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield, converting it into a nonprofit mutual insurer, ranked 5th. Also approved was campaign finance legislation, which doubles the amount that can be contributed to candidates, and codifies a policy that allows recipients of funds contributed for so-called “issue ads” to keep the contributors identities anonymous. Rounding out sixth through tenth were: school dissolution bills aimed at financially troubled districts, a measure allowing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, a measure allowing a bit of a sales tax break for those who trade in a car when they buy a new one, and a measure requiring epinephrine injection devices in schools, which can save students who suffer severe allergic reactions.
A New Engineers PAC - January 2, 2014
There’s a new political action committee on the block. And it’s being formed by an engineers union. MIRS-News reports that Michigan’s Operating Engineers is creating a SuperPAC in 2014, with the goal of pushing for increased funding for transportation projects. The labor union says it takes a more “policy” over “party” approach, according to union organizing director Ryan Dunn, which formalizes recent efforts by the Engineers to give directly to candidates instead of the Michigan Democratic Party or a labor union coalition.
Salvation Army Fund Drive Lags - January 1, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
The Salvation Army in Hancock has finished the Christmas season well short of its fundraising goal. Major Mark Brown tells us this year’s Kettle Campaign and related activities raised around 82-thousand dollars… 18 percent shy of the 99-thousand dollars they had hoped for. Brown says campaigns are struggling across the nation… partly because of the slow economy… and partly because our use of credit and debit cards has reduced the amount of currency and change that we carry. Might we soon see credit card machines at those red kettles? . Brown says the Kettle Campaign provides about 20 percent of the local funding for the Salvation Army. Most of the rest comes from a direct mail campaign… from weekly collections at Salvation Army church services… and from the Copper Country United Way. The United Way campaign is also running behind schedule. The Salvation Army provides food, housing, clothing and home heating assistance for low-income families in the Copper Country. If you’d like to donate, call the Hancock Office.
Wolf Hunt Ends Short of Goal - January 1, 2014
The first Michigan wolf hunt has closed… with about half of the 43-animal limit being taken. As of late yesterday, 22 wolves had been reported shot. The vast majority of those were killed in the first several weeks of the hunt. Hunters found the most success in Region B… which includes portions of Baraga, Houghton and Ontonagon Counties. 14 wolves were killed… the limit was 19. The hunt remains controversial. State Representative Scott Dianda thinks the public needs to be protected from wolves… He says we’ll know if the hunt is working if we see a decrease in wolf attacks on farm animals and pets… Michigan voters will probably face two conflicting ballot issues next November… one to protect the wolves… and one to protect the hunt.
Meanwhile, a wolf was killed Monday evening in Delta County when it was hit by an S-U-V. Escanaba police officers say the wolf tried to cross U-S 2 and 41 near the city limits when it was struck. The driver of the vehicle suffered minor injuries.
U.P. Native Charged in Colorado Murders - January 1, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
A man who grew up in the Upper Peninsula has been arrested for a triple murder in Colorado. 59-year-old Harry Mapps graduated from Kingsford High School. He’s accused of shooting a married couple and their adult daughter in the small town of Rye, Colorado… then setting their home on fire to cover up the crime. Mapps was captured Saturday at a motel in Roland, Oklahoma… after a month-long search. He’s also charged with stealing checks made out to the victims, and forging their signatures to cash them.