The Keweenaw Report with Rick Allen, live every weekday morning on 97.7 the Wolf at 7am, 8am & 9am, with updates at Noon, 3 pm, 4 pm & 5 pm.
Fire at Michigan Tech apartments—May 24, 2013
The Houghton Fire Department responded to an early morning fire on the Michigan Tech campus today.
The fire broke out in a storage area in one of the buildings of the Daniell Heights Apartments around 4:00am.
The fire punched a hole through the roof of the building.
The fire was brought under control in about a half hour. Emergency personnel swept through the building but did not find anyone inside.
No one was injured and there has been no word as to the cause of the blaze.
Third dog killed by wolf in Atlantic Mine—May 24, 2013
A Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician has confirmed that a third dog has been killed by a wolf in the Atlantic Mine area, in the same location where another dog was killed last week.
The dog in yesterday morning’s attack was chained up in a fenced yard at the time of the attack.
The first confirmed kill in this area was on April 28.
DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell said wolf attacks on dogs around residences are usually uncommon and the landowner was working to provide fencing and better boundaries but unfortunately another dog was killed on this property in a short amount of time.
The DNR had provided both landowners in the first two incidents with a 30-day permit to kill wolves on their property. At this time, two wolves have been killed and the permits are still active.
Roell said that in addition to providing the 30-day permits, the department – in an effort to better protect the public, pets and livestock – is now also taking an active role in attempting lethal control of wolves in this area.
Parts of KeweenawCounty to get natural gas service—May 24, 2013
SEMCO ENERGY Gas Company has announced that natural gas will be extended to parts of the Upper Peninsula communities of Phillipsville, Allouez, Ahmeek, CopperCity, Mohawk, and Fulton.
The construction project will begin in mid-June.
Homes that request natural gas in the project area should have it installed by early fall of this year.
Director of Marketing for SEMCO ENERGY Tim Lubbers said they are excited by the overwhelming response from homeowners wanting to convert to natural gas and that public meetings early this spring were well attended and the phones have been ringing every day.
Lubbers added that people are eager to enjoy the savings of as much as 70% compared to other fuels.
Routes for the new gas mains are being finalized now.
Lubbers urged families to send in their applications promptly to determine if their streets are included in the project.
Guts Frisbee event in Calumet tomorrow—May 24, 2013
The fifth annual Global Guts Day will be celebrated in Calumet tomorrow.
The event will take place at the corner of US Highway 41 and Red Jacket Road and is meant to encourage new players to try Guts Frisbee in a relaxed, picnic atmosphere.
Veteran players will be instructing new participants in the game that features two teams fifteen yards apart, hurling the orange Professional Model Frisbee at each other.
As an added feature this year, a speed gun will be set up to clock the fastest thrower among all the participants, including a new high school category.
Students in local schools will be practicing before Saturday.
The “top guns” from each school will be invited to Global Guts Day to crown an overall Top Gun.
The event is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m.
Improvements in employment seen over much of Michigan—May 24, 2013
Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates declined in 15 of Michigan’s 17 major labor market areas in April.
According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, total employment levels increased in 13 regions over the month, while labor force levels were up in 10 areas.
Spokesman Michael Williams says the reductions were somewhat below the typical April rate declines, however, the majority of local areas continued to record over-the-year jobless rate reductions.
The largest April rate cuts were recorded in the Northeast Lower Michigan region and the metro Detroit area.
The Ann Arbor area had the state’s lowest jobless rate last month at 5.1% while Northeast Lower Michigan had the highest at 11.8%.
Michigan seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April was 8.4%.
Holiday travelers staying in state—May 24, 2013
It appears Michiganians will heed state travel expert recommendations and take “Pure Michigan” trips this Memorial Day holiday weekend.
According to the Auto Club of Michigan, 1.1-million state residents will travel 50 miles or more during the weekend, most to campgrounds.
However, as Nancy Cain points out, cottages and resorts will also be popular, and even some will take advantage of urban locations.
The iconic road trip will be the dominant mode of transportation, with 89 percent of travelers nationally going by vehicle. In Michigan, nearly 92% will travel by vehicle, slightly more than last year. They will find gas prices higher than last year in Michigan.
The number of air travelers in Michigan is slightly down from a year ago – 4.8% this year, compared to nearly 6% last year.
The remaining estimated 3% of travelers will go by train or bus.
Memorial Day travel in Michigan, which begins in earnest today, is expected to be on par with last year.
Nationally, 34.8 million people will take holiday trips, slightly less than last year.
Seat belt enforcement campaign continues—May 24, 2013
As a majority of Michiganians, who plan to travel this Memorial Day, head out for a ‘Pure Michigan’ holiday break this weekend, police are reminding them to “buckle up” if they go by vehicle.
First of all, wearing a seat belt is mandatory in Michigan, and Lynn Sutfin, of the State Office of Highway Safety Planning, says motorists will be under the watchful eyes of officers to make sure they comply as part of the national “Click It Or Ticket” campaign.
She says the target is young male drivers in pickup trucks and extra patrols involving 155 police agencies in 26 counties. Sutfin says the goal is to reduce injuries and save lives during a busy travel period.
She says officers will use daytime seat belt enforcement zones in areas of Michigan with high traffic crash rates, but tickets will also be issued for all traffic violations as well.
The “Click It Or Ticket” campaign will run through Sunday, June 2nd.
Michigan State Police say during last Memorial Day weekend ten people died in nine fatal crashes, including three motorcyclists. Alcohol was a known factor in two of the fatalities.
Six suspects arrested after drug raid in Iron County—May 24, 2013
Six people in Iron County were arrested this week after a drug bust by the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team involving heroin, illegal mushrooms, marijuana and illegal prescription drugs.
The narcotics officers executed a search warrant of a residence in Iron River on Tuesday. During the search they discovered four grams of heroin, evidence of drug packaging and distribution, $1,600 in cash and various illegal drugs.
The owner of the home, 31-year-old Joseph Baclich Jr., was arraigned in District Court in Iron County on charges of delivery of heroin, with additional charges pending.
The five other suspects were arrested for the sale of Heroin and prescription drugs.
According to detectives, all were arraigned on Wednesday.
Additional charges and arrests are pending.
Carpet-Gate controversy brewing in Lansing—May 24, 2013
It will cost well over $300,000, but new carpeting is apparently needed in both the Michigan House and Senate chambers.
Legislative leaders have decided to spend the money on new carpet, largely because some spots have become so torn up that duct tape is being used to prevent tripping.
But not everyone agrees with the decision.
House Democrat Sam Singh of East Lansing says the expenditure should be delayed “for another year or two” because other important needs such as school funding should take a priority.
But Senate Republican Pat Colbeck of Macomb County says the Capitol Building must be treated like a home, which requires constant maintenance.
In addition, the state Capitol will receive numerous technology updates in the subfloor of the House and Senate.
Majority Republicans in the legislature say new carpeting is necessary because the aging and fraying carpeting is well past its expected lifespan and has started to pose a public safety issue.
The carpet was installed more than 20 years ago during the Capitol restoration project.
Sex offender facing new sex abuse charges—May 23, 2013
Last year 26-year-old Chad Paul Lapointe of Houghton was sentenced to attempted third degree criminal sexual conduct with a 15 year old girl.
He was given nine months in jail in April 2012 as part of a plea deal and ordered to register as a sex offender.
Lapointe allegedly failed to register or stay out of a student safety zone and is now facing charges for those violations in Circuit Court.
And now, Lapointe is also charged with multiple child sex abuse charges involving two different girls from incidents since he was released from jail in 2012.
He is charged with one count of 2nd degree Criminal Sexual Conduct with a victim under 13 years old, one count of 4th degree CSC with a victim 13 to 16 years old and two counts of Accosting A Child For Immoral Purposes.
The courtroom was cleared as one of Lapointe’s alleged victims, only 13 years old, took the stand during his preliminary hearing.
The case was bound over to Circuit Court.
If convicted, Lapointe may have to wear an electronic monitoring device for the rest of his life.
He is currently being held in the Houghton County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.
Backroom Multi-Entertainment building returned to Houghton—May 23, 2013
The building on the west end of Sheldon Avenue that used to house Backroom Multi-Entertainment has been returned to the city of Houghton.
The building’s previous owner, 46-year-old Michael Jestila, was sentenced to one year in jail earlier this week on drug-related charges.
As part of Jestila’s plea agreement, the building was forfeited to the city.
Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes said there are leans on the building from both the bank and the state of Michigan.
The building will be put up for auction in six to nine months but MacInnes said it would be unlikely that the city would be able to make any money on the property after the bank and the state have collected what they are owed.
MacInnes asked for $2,000 from the city to pay to have the front of the building repainted and the windows cleaned so the building would look presentable in time for FinnFest.
MacInnes called the building one of the key historic buildings in the community.
The previous owner has approximately 40 days to arrange to have the contents of the building removed. After that period, the city will have to decide what to do with the remaining materials.
GS Engineering wins small business award—May 23, 2013
A Houghton-based technology company is the recent recipient of a small business award.
GS Engineering was awarded the Tibbett Award by the Small Business Administration for their work with Advanced Lightweight Vehicle Components and Materials at the White House.
This award is given to companies who participate in the Small Business Innovation Research program.
GS was one of 18 companies recognized nationwide and was the only company in the Midwest.
Senator Debbie Stabenow also commended GS Engineering for their work in the local economy and the military.
Houghton community garden to get city support—May 23, 2013
A group of Houghton residents are asking the city to help support their community garden.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department’s Ray Sharp gave a brief presentation to the Houghton City Council that touted the positive impact that community gardens have their cities.
The benefits include improved property values, stronger relationships among neighbors, and lower crime rates.
Pewabic Street Community Garden members Sarah Cheney and Elena Busova said they have 17 families who garden with them every year.
The gardeners rent 10’ x 20’ plots for $30 a season.
Busova said she’s had people who are looking for a place to move to, call and ask about the garden first.
To help fund the garden, the city council approved a request by the group to contribute $1,000 for two years.
Cyclists ask for laws to promote safety—May 23, 2013
Bicycle riders rallied at the State Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday, calling for changes in state law that offer more protections for cyclists.
It was bicyclist lobby day at the Capitol, and they are pushing for laws that promote more bike safety, including tougher penalties against those who injure or kill bicyclists, not unlike the current law that imposes tougher penalties against those who injure road construction workers.
They also want better guidelines regarding passing cyclists on roads, such as requiring a five foot distance, according to John Lindenmayer of the League of Michigan Bicyclists.
State officials say that in 2011 alone, there were nearly two thousand motor vehicle crashes that involved cyclists.
Moot wolf petition approved—May 23, 2013
The Board of State Canvassers has certified petition signatures to place what amounts to a meaningless wolf hunting referendum on the November 2014 ballot.
The group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected submitted more than 255,000 petition signatures on March 27 to suspend a law passed last December classifying wolves as a game species and giving the state’s Natural Resources Commission permission to establish a hunt.
But Governor Rick Snyder signed a separate measure earlier this month giving the NRC the authority to designate a species as a game species without the Legislature’s permission, essentially nullifying the petition effort.
A day later, the commission approved a limited wolf hunting and trapping season in three areas in the Upper Peninsula between November 15 and December 31.
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Director Jill Fritz says the group will continue to support the ballot referendum and is considering other options, including another referendum campaign to place the new law on the ballot in November 2014.
Memorial Day holiday travel period begins—May 23, 2013
An estimated 1.1 million Michigan residents will travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, launching the 2013 summer travel season.
AAA Michigan says state travel is projected to be nearly on par with last year.
The Auto Club projects 34.8 million travelers nationally, a 0.9% dip from the previous year.
The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 23 to Monday, May 27.
The iconic road trip will be the dominant mode of transportation, with 89 percent of travelers nationally going by vehicle.
In Michigan, nearly 92% will travel by vehicle, slightly more than last year. They will find Michigan gas prices about $3.93 per gallon as of Wednesday, up 20 cents from last year.
The number of air travelers in Michigan is slightly down from a year ago – 4.8% this year, compared to nearly 6% last year. The remaining estimated 3% of travelers will go by train or bus.
Michigan State Police say during last Memorial Day weekend 10 people died in 9 fatal crashes, including 3 motorcyclists.
Alcohol was a known factor in 2 of the fatalities.
Pro-life petition approved by state board—May 23, 2013
The Board of State Canvassers in Lansing has approved a petition form, in the effort by an anti-abortion group to ask voters to prohibit insurance companies from offering policies that cover elective abortions, unless that coverage is purchased separately as a rider.
Governor Rick Snyder had vetoed a similar proposal last year.
Right to Life of Michigan is pushing the petition drive.
Abortion rights advocates, led by Planned Parenthood of Michigan, are protesting the petition drive, saying it’s an attack on women’s rights.
Right to Life’s Barb Listing says they will use volunteers to collect signatures.
If her group collects at least 258,000 valid signatures, the legislature would have 40 days to approve the proposal.
If it does not, the proposal will then go on the state wide ballot, which in this case would mean 2014.
Effort continues to improve indigent defense—May 23, 2013
There would be a statewide standard required for all local governments to provide defense lawyers for the indigent, under a two bill package approved by a Michigan House Committee in Lansing.
The bill is part of an effort to improve Michigan’s much-criticized system of providing lawyers to defendants who cannot afford an attorney.
Local government groups have opposed the proposal.
The bills now go to the full house for consideration.
Poll shows mixed responses on means of raising road revenue—May 23, 2013
One-third of the respondents to a new statewide poll say that Michigan should increase funding for roads mostly by cutting the state budget.
The survey was conducted by Lansing-based EPIC MRA.
While 33% of the respondents say the road funding should be increased mostly or only by budget cuts, 21% say it should be mostly or only by tax increases.
And while legislators have not decided yet just how new road revenue should be raised, at least some of the electorate is in the same boat.
22% of those surveyed either are undecided, or have refused to answer.
The survey was conducted last week. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.