The Keweenaw Report airs each weekday morning, noon and afternoon on 97.7 the Wolf, KBear 102.3, and AM 1400, WCCY.
Police Hunt for Fugitive – April 19, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
For the second time in a year, area police are looking for 26-year-old Travis Kuopus. Houghton police officers say Kuopos was involved in a domestic dispute at the Houghton Walmart Friday night. He then jumped into a pickup truck… crashed into another vehicle… and fled the parking lot. Officers chased him through Houghton, across the bridge into Hancock, and along M-26 into Dollar Bay… at speeds up to 90 miles per hour. They called the chase off because of concerns for public safety.
Kuopus is said to be driving a black 1999 Chevrolet 1500 extended cab pickup truck with Michigan license plate BBV 4060. He is described as 5’6″ tall and 160 lbs. with black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the Houghton Police Department at (906) 487-5912, or call 911.
Kuopus made headlines last September when he eluded area police for several weeks before he was arrested on numerous charges, including stalking.
Stockero Named New Superintendent for CCISD - April 18, 2014
Chassell Township Schools Superintendent George Stockero has been named the new superintendent of the Copper Country Intermediate School District. Stockero says he is very thankful for the opportunity to serve the Copper Country.
He adds that he will continue to have an “open door” policy with people who have questions or concerns and he plans to have a good relationship with all of the other superintendents.
At a special meeting last night, Stockero beat out two other candidates for the position, Houghton-Portage Township Schools Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil and CLK Public Schools Superintendent Daryl Pierce. He will take over for former CCISD Superintendent Dennis Harbour.
M-26 Construction Project - April 18, 2014
Details were unveiled yesterday for the three-mile-long M-26 road construction project which will occur in Franklin Township from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to Sixth Street in Dollar Bay. Construction is slated to begin later this month but they have begun relocating utilities like phone lines. From the bridge to Military Road, the project will widen the roadway from two to three lanes with a center left-turn lane and realign the route with shallower curves. The idea comes from a safety analysis that showed the dangers of those curves. The remainder of the roadway, from Military Road to Sixth Street, will be re-paved because of poor road conditions. As a part of the project, Slattery Road will be closed permanently from Second Street to M-26. MDOT plans to maintain traffic throughout construction for the estimated 8,000 drivers per day, trying to limit delays that they believe should not exceed 10 minutes. The project will cost $6.7 million and will be supported through state and federal funds. MDOT says the project should be completed sometime in October.
Houghton County Enters Energy Efficiency Competition - April 18, 2014
With help from Michigan Tech, Houghton County has entered into an energy efficiency competition headed by Georgetown University. The grand prize? Five million dollars. But Houghton County Board of Commissioners chair Scott Ala, who has expressed great support for the project, says it’s not just about the money.
The Georgetown University Energy Prize was established to encourage communities to come up with creative ways to cut energy consumption. Houghton County is one of approximately 35 entrants nationwide to advance past the first stage of the competition, which is open to communities with a population between 5,000 and 250,000.
State of Emergency for Marquette County - April 18, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of emergency in Marquette County because of the large number of frozen and burst pipes caused by this winter’s bitter cold. Marquette County declared a local state of emergency in February. It applied for a state disaster declaration in early March, but that application was denied. The county filed again two weeks ago, and the governor approved the new application this morning. State Representative John Kivela says the governor’s declaration will make resources available to restore water service to countless homes and businesses that have been forced to go without water for too long. Could Houghton County be in a similar situation? Emergency Manager Jack Deuweke says the county has done a good job with handling this winter.
He adds that the issues in Marquette County are far more costly than those in Houghton County.
MTU Design Expo - April 18, 2014
Some of the brightest students at Michigan Tech came together yesterday to present the projects that they have been working on since the beginning of the fall semester. Formerly known as the Undergraduate Expo, the 2014 Design Expo was packed from wall to wall in the Van Pelt and Opie Library at Michigan Tech. Students had the opportunity to display their projects and what they discovered from their work. Mary Raber from the Institute for Leadership and Innovation says the event keeps getting bigger and better.
The projects featured many kinds of products from auto body parts to snowboards. Students are being judged on many things and Professor Andrew Storer says a lot goes into the process.
With all of the innovative ideas being spread across the room, it looks like the future is in good hands.
Snyder Files for Re-election - April 18, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has formally filed for re-election to a second and final term in office. The news comes as no surprise since all indications up to this point were that the governor was interested in a second term. A statement from the governor’s communications director says that Governor Snyder has shown his commitment to every Michigander by creating over a quarter of a million jobs, eliminating a budget deficit and creating a surplus, bringing unemployment to its lowest rate since 2008, and increasing education funding. Prior to being elected Governor of Michigan, Snyder was chairman of the board at Gateway Computers, as well as being a co-founder of a venture capital firm in Ann Arbor.
Dianda Unveils New Bill - April 18, 2014
State Representative Scott Dianda introduced a new bill yesterday to provide much-needed financial assistance to Upper Peninsula communities struggling with the frozen water lines crisis. Due to the extreme cold weather this winter and into the spring, thousands of U.P. residents are on “let run” orders to keep pipes from freezing and bursting, and local municipalities are being forced to cover numerous unforeseen expenses stemming from the deep frost. Dianda’s bill would designate $10 million in grants to communities in counties that have issued local states of emergency. Dianda applauds the local municipalities that have gone above and beyond to keep their residents safe.
Wild Game Sausage - April 18, 2014
It’s long been said that there’s two things you should not look closely at. That is lawmaking, and sausage making. On Thursday, the Michigan House managed to cover both things in one fell swoop. The House approved and sent to the Senate, a measure allowing food processors to mix wild game meat from more than one owner, providing for “Wild Game Sausage.”
Under current law, those who process wild game harvested by a hunter must completely clean their equipment between each and every animal. The new legislation removes that condition when the end result is not for sale. Customers will be informed of this provision.
Hancock City Council Meeting Recap - April 17, 2014
Great news for joggers and bicyclists in the city of Hancock. The city council finally passed the Complete Streets ordinance which now gives a voice to non-motorized travel when plans for street and road construction are being made. The council also scheduled a joint council meeting with the city of Houghton for June 19th to hear a presentation from MDOT regarding the Portage Lake Lift Bridge Rehab project. The council then discussed the issues of some residents who are running their water due to frozen pipes and have exceeded the 11,000 gallon credit and agreed to have the Public Works department take a look into the situation.
Public Meeting Scheduled for M-26 Road Work - April 17, 2014
Construction on M-26 will begin soon and MDOT wants to unveil their plans to the public. They have scheduled a public meeting for today at 6pm at the MDOT Houghton garage in Calumet to share construction plans for M-26 in Franklin Township from the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to Sixth Street in Dollar Bay. The project is scheduled for this coming construction season. Residents and business owners can review the plans and ask questions at this public meeting. From the bridge to Military Road, the project will widen the roadway from two to three lanes with a center left-turn lane and realign the route with shallower curves. The remainder of the roadway, from Military Road to Sixth Street, will be paved. A side road, Slattery Road, will be closed from Second Street to M-26. MDOT plans to maintain through-traffic throughout construction using temporary roadways under flag control. An alternate route along U.S.41 will be signed.
Houghton HS Robotics Needs Help - April 17, 2014
The Houghton High School Robotics team, Superior Roboworks Team 857, have just returned from the state robotics championship where they earned an opportunity to compete at the national championship next week in St. Louis. But they need your help. The team is asking for donations to fund their trip so they can pay for transportation and lodging. The team is made up of students from Houghton, Hancock, Dollar Bay, Lake Linden and home school students. For more information on how to donate, contact Houghton High School or check out their website www.first857.org.
MTU Students Receive Fellowships - April 17, 2014
Three Michigan Tech graduate students have received Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. Christa Meingast in environmental engineering and Gregory Hardy and David Diesenroth in mechanical engineering won the competitive fellowships. Benjamin Winter in civil engineering received an honorable mention. NSF Graduate Research Fellowships are one of the oldest, most prestigious and competitive programs nationally. Michigan Tech Assistant director for research development Jodi Lehman says it is the fellowship program that other federal programs such as the Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy use as a benchmark.
Home Invasion Man Facing 20 Years in Prison - April 17, 2014
The Ishpeming man arrested Tuesday after a lengthy police standoff will be back in court on April 29th. 33 year old Robert John Rajala is accused of first-degree home invasion. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday in Marquette. Rajala is being held in the Marquette County Jail on $150,000 bond. According to police, Rajala had entered his girlfriend’s home in Ishpeming on Monday morning without permission and assaulted her. The woman was able to get out of the house with only minor injuries. She told police Rajala had been drinking and said he was going to kill people and also may have been suffering from PTSD. Police surrounded the residence and secured a warrant for the man’s arrest for first degree home invasion. After additional backup from the State Police Emergency Services Team arrived, Rajala surrendered after seeing the armored vehicle that troopers had on scene. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Newberry Tower Leaking - April 17, 2014
Cold temperatures and ice in the Upper Peninsula are being blamed for leaks in Newberry’s water tower. Lori Stokes with Newberry Water & Light says they believe ice may have worn through an area where welded brackets were used when the tower was refurbished a couple of years ago. A hole popped about half way up the tower. Three copper plugs also popped inside the lower part of the tower causing leaks in the bottom.
Stokes says they’ve lowered the water level in the tower to prevent leaking. So far, it has not affected water pressure in the community. She says they hope to have someone climb the tower next week when temperatures are expected to be warmer to assess the damage. The entire village is under a let run order due to frozen water pipes from extremely cold temperatures this winter. It affects about 870 customers.
Schauer Wants Education Reform - April 17, 2014
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer is calling for a reversal of state cuts in education funding. The former Congressman from Battle Creek released his education plan yesterday which would restrict the use of the School Aid Fund to K-12 and preschool purposes only and restore funding cut from Michigan’s colleges and universities. Schauer’s plan also includes proposals for universal preschool; setting standards for maximum class sizes; investing in professional training and development for teachers and expanding career and technical training. His plan also would increase college financial aid; require all charter, virtual and new school employees to participate in the state’s public school pension plan to help keep it solvent; and create a one-stop shop for parents to compare school performance measures. Schauer is not saying how he would pay for the proposals, but that he’d start with a study to determine how much the state should spend to provide a quality public education system.
Unemployment Down Again - April 17, 2014
Michigan’s unemployment rate in March declined for the seventh consecutive month to 7.5 percent. That’s down by two-tenths of a percentage point from February and is the lowest jobless rate in Michigan since April 2008. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, total employment rose by 19,000 in March while the number of unemployed decreased by 8,000. The state’s labor force grew by 11,000 over the month. Spokesman Jason Palmer says the state’s jobless rate is beginning to approach the 2007 pre-recession level of 7.1 percent.
Houghton County Board Meeting Recap - April 16, 2014
According to Houghton County Board of Commissioners Chair Scott Ala, there is a big problem with the county’s retirement plan for county employees. Ala brought up the issue at last night’s board meeting and he says the Municipal Employees Retirement System, better known as MERS, came up with a plan but he doesn’t think the numbers add up.
The board decided to get a hold of a representative from MERS and have a special meeting to discuss any questions or concerns any of the commissioners have with the present plan. Also during the meeting, the board approved a county road millage that will be place on the August ballot and considered a request for assistance with a Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall that will be built in Calumet Township.
L’Anse DDA Offering Help - April 16, 2014
For the eighth straight year, some property owners in L’Anse will have the opportunity to get some financial help to improve the appearance of their buildings. The L’Anse Downtown Development Authority is accepting applications for its Facade Grant Program. Five grants are available… each worth as much as three-thousand dollars. The money does not need to be matched by the recipients… and does not need to be paid back. Over the past seven years, 33 grants have been awarded. The money has been used for paint, siding, window replacement, masonry work and other forms of remodeling. To be eligible, the property must be located within the boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority. Applications are available at the L’Anse Village Office… and must be submitted by June 6th.
Houghton High School Heading to National Championships - April 16, 2014
Houghton High School’s robotics team, Superior Roboworks team 857, has just returned from the FIRST Robotics of Michigan State Championship tournament in Ypsilanti. This is the second year in a row Superior Roboworks has earned the right to compete in the state tournament. This year their performance in competitions has also earned them the right to compete in the world championships in St. Louis, Missouri April 23-25. This is an honor sought after by many but only earned by few, and a huge accomplishment by Superior Roboworks.
Let-Run Impact on L’Anse - April 16, 2014
Officials from the village of L’Anse say the let-run order that started in February had a big impact on the community as a whole. Village Manager Bob LaFave says that just from last month, 13,000 gallons were run which is about 7,000 more than usual. He estimates that between $380 to 390,000 was spent on services like working lines and thawing pipes. The village reminds all residents to turn of your water if you’re pipes were not frozen this winter. Those with thawed and unthawed pipes should continue to run until further notice.
LLH Schools Partner With Gogebic CC - April 16, 2014
Lake-Linden Hubbell students have a lot to be excited about with the news coming out of this week’s board of education meeting. The board approved for the schools to enter into an Early College Program agreement with Gogebic Community College which will be funded through the state of Michigan. As a part of the program, students will have the opportunity to take college courses during their junior and senior years of high school, return for a fifth year while still taking college classes and then be eligible to receive an associate’s degree from Gogebic Community College. The board also approved to award up to $4,000 each to the Margaret Jones and Irving Clouthier Scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year. The board then expanded the Journeys Reading Series through the 4th grade in the upcoming school year with the goal of getting it expanded through 5th grade soon after.
Guilty Plea for Ojibwa Correctional Murder - April 16, 2014
An inmate who pleaded guilty to his role in killing an inmate at the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marenisco will spend up to 22 and half years in prison. 25 year old Delorean Henderson was sentenced in Gogebic County Circuit Court to a minimum of ten years in prison for his involvement in the murder of 26 year old Randolph Conner in January 2013. He will serve that time consecutively with Macomb County cases that he’s already facing time for. Henderson pleaded guilty in January to homicide-manslaughter with habitual offender, second offense status attached. He and his co-defendant, 32 year old Michael Smith are ordered to pay more than $64,000 in restitution. Smith was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in March after an eight-day trial. He will be sentenced May 8.
DNR Senior License Discounts - April 16, 2014
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is making it easier for Michigan seniors age 65 and older to get a price break on the hunt/fish combo license. The new senior hunt/fish combo license includes a fishing license (good for all legal species), a base hunting license and two deer licenses for $43. When purchasing the 2014 licenses without a senior discount, seniors who purchased the regular hunt/fish combo license paid $76. The only way to get a senior discount on these items was to purchase them separately as senior licenses. The newly packaged discounted license is available for purchase as of April 14. In addition, resident seniors who paid the higher $76 price for a 2014 license will be receiving a letter from the DNR offering a refund of $33 — the difference between the regular hunt/fish combo and the senior hunt/fish combo.
MI SOS to Visit Houghton - April 15, 2014
The Copper Country is expecting a special guest today. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will be visiting the Houghton branch this morning from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Secretary Johnson will make two other visits in the U.P., one in L’Anse at 10:15 a.m. and the other in Iron River at 2:15 p.m. The visits are part of her efforts to improve the customer service across the Secretary of State’s 131 branch offices and to seek input and suggestions from staff and constituents. She will also speak on new policies that have contributed to the historic increases in the number of people joining Michigan’s Organ Donor Registry.
Laurium Receives Award of Excellence - April 15, 2014
The Village of Laurium, along with project partners Michigan Department of Transportation and OHM Advisors, was recently presented with an Award of Excellence by the Michigan Concrete Association for the 2013 reconstruction of the M-26 Granitoid Concrete Pavement on Hecla Street and Third Street in Laurium. The Granitoid pavement in Laurium was originally built sometime around 1906-1908, according to an advertisement by the Blome Co. in the May 1909 issue of Concrete magazine. The majority of it had been covered up by asphalt for a number of years, but since the Village of Laurium is deemed a Historic District and in 2005 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was decided that the street reconstruction should utilize a historic type of paving in the center of the village. The project was funded with a combination of federal enhancement grants, village of Laurium, and MDOT R&R funding.
Michigan State Police History Week - April 15, 2014
If you pass by a Michigan State Police post, be sure to tell them Happy Birthday because this week they are celebrating their 97th birthday. To honor the milestone, Governor Rick Snyder has declared this week Michigan State Police History Week. The MSP’s roots date back to World War One when the department began as a temporary, wartime emergency force for the purpose of domestic security. MSP Director Colonel Kristie Kibbey Etue says they will be reflecting on history and traditions as well as recommitting to serving the public.
Pulitzer Prize Winner to Speak at MTU - April 15, 2014
Imagine you are flown in to speak at an event and you just found out you won the Pulitzer prize. That’s what happened yesterday afternoon when Composer John Luther Adams arrived at Houghton County Airport as he received a phone call notifying him that he just won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Adams should be in a celebratory mood later today where he will be speaking at the Rosza Center for a panel discussion and lecture. The panel discussion entitled What can arts and science say to each other is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. and the lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. Both events are free to the public.
DNR Invasive Species as Hogs - April 15, 2014
The Department of Natural Resources is challenging a ruling that overturned its order declaring certain types of hogs as invasive species, but the department is rescinding a related declaratory ruling officials said has confused the issue. Marquette County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Solka had ruled last month that the department’s wildlife order was unenforceable as it related to privately-owned Eurasian and Russian boar because it was too vague to determine which animals the policy covers. The department officially filed an appeal on Friday, the last day to challenge the ruling. But the DNR is also in the process of rescinding the related ruling that explained what the department would look for when deciding if an animal violated the order.
Trial for Fake Fundraiser - April 15, 2014
An Ishpeming man will stand trial for running a bogus fundraiser.
40-year-old Scott Martin was bound over to Marquette County Circuit Court for trial last week on a charge of violating the state’s Charitable Solicitation Act. He faces a possible five years in prison if found guilty. Authorities say Martin made T-Shirts in October of 2012 to honor Bubba Croley, a 13-year-old boy who was killed by a drunk driver in Wisconsin. The “Bubba Shirts” were sold for $15 each, and ten of the dollars were supposed to go to the Bubba Croley Foundation but the family never got the money. Martin is free on bond. He’ll be arraigned in Circuit Court April 25.
Gas Prices Update - April 15, 2014
Michigan motorists will find average gas prices up 6 cents a gallon this week. AAA Michigan reports the current statewide average is just over $3.71 per gallon, that’s almost 19 cents more than this same time last year. Among the markets surveyed by Triple A, the lowest average price was found in the Traverse City area at $3.64 cents per gallon. The highest is in the Ann Arbor area at $3.76 per gallon. The pain at the pump isn’t likely to be as bad this summer as it was last year according to the summer gas price forecast from GasBuddy.com. Analyst Patrick DeHaan predicts the national average will be $3.52 a gallon, which would be the lowest in several years. DeHaan notes Michigan will still experience wide price fluctuations but shouldn’t go above $4 a gallon.
Mackinac Bridge Traffic Down - April 15, 2014
Traffic on the Mackinac Bridge dropped again last month. Robert Sweeney, Executive Secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, says 195,514 vehicles crossed the span during March down 5.4% compared to 206,728 in March of 2013. Fare revenue is down 3.2% compared to last year. Officials say all revenue collected is used to maintain, operate, and protect the 56-year-old bridge linking Michigan’s two peninsulas.
Folk and Food Fest Review - April 14, 2014
A new local organization held its first fundraiser this past weekend. Don’t Do It Yourself, better know as DDIY, hosted the Folk and Food Fest at Dee Stadium on Saturday. Vendors were set up around the room with different arts and craft from all over the Copper Country. President Kristina Coon says the idea for the event come from different fundraisers in the community.
Attendees were also treated to some great music like Ron Lahti and Adrian Hill. All funds collected at the event help support members of the community who need help with unexpected medical bills.
Dianda Kicks Off Re-election - April 14, 2014
Democratic Representative Scott Dianda has announced that he is seeking re-election in the upcoming November election. For two years, Dianda has served the 110th district in the Western U.P. and one of the biggest issues he was proud to be a part of was the push to increase funding for K-12 education. Dianda mentioned his fight against the pension tax on Michigan seniors and his involvement in helping Copper Country residents during the propane shortage. He adds that the biggest issue he will speak about on his campaign involves getting help for Michigan veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and to create ways to have them treated locally.
Dianda adds that creating jobs is another thing he will continue to push for and that with the help of the community, he can represent the Copper Country in Lansing for a second term.
Former NMU Student Facing Embezzlement - April 14, 2014
A former president of the Northern Michigan University student union is facing embezzlement charges. 34-year-old Amber Lopota of Port Huron faces a felony charge of embezzlement of between $1,000 and $20,000 and a misdemeanor count of embezzlement of less than $200. She allegedly embezzled from the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University while she was president. Lopota waived her preliminary examination in district court Thursday afternoon and has been bound over to Marquette County Circuit Court for trial June 3rd. According to Northern Michigan spokeswoman Cindy Paavola, Lopota was arrested in March and withdrew from the university last week. Her next scheduled court date is May 9th.
MTU Named Most Underrated in MI - April 14, 2014
Michigan Tech has been getting a lot of recognition lately. A few weeks ago Businessinsider.com, a business, technology and education news website, ranked the Huskies #11 on a list of the top 20 colleges in the nation with the smartest students. Then a few days ago, the same website named MTU one of the most underrated colleges in the country. The list was compiled by taking one college from each state and Michigan Tech came out of the Great Lakes State. The ranking reflects the unversity’s high academic standards and acceptance rate.
Bat Disease Detected in U.P. - April 14, 2014
A disease that has killed millions of bats in the U.S. and Canada has been detected in Northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome has been found in Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac counties. The fungus was found on five little brown bats, which make up about 90 percent of Michigan’s bat species. DNR wildlife veterinarian Dan O’Brien says it’s no surprise because white-nose syndrome has reached about two dozen states. Over 6 million bats have died. The disease causes bats to wake frequently from hibernation, which saps their energy reserves and can lead to starvation.
ACLU of MI to File Lawsuit - April 14, 2014
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is filing a lawsuit to back what they say are the legal rights of about 300 same-sex couples who were married last month during a brief window period when Michigan’s ban on same sex marriage was lifted by a court decision. On March 21st, a U.S. District judge in Detroit ruled that the voter-approved ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional. Clerks in four counties then issued 300 marriage licenses before the Court of Appeals issued a stay of the District court ruling. M-Live reports that the ACLU will file the suit this afternoon in Detroit.
State 529 Accounts on the Rise - April 14, 2014
529 college savings accounts and prepaid tuition plans reached record levels in 2013. A year-end report from the College Savings Plans Network shows total investments top $227 billion. State officials say Michigan has three Section 529 plans, all of which offer taxpayers a state income tax deduction on contributions and potential tax-free growth on any earnings if account proceeds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Total assets in Michigan’s 529 plans reached $4.7 billion last year. The total number of Michigan 529 accounts opened in 2013 increased by 15%. The average Michigan 529 account size is $18,000. State Treasurer Kevin Clinton says with the cost of tuition increasing each year, Michigan’s 529 plans continue to be a smart and popular investment.
Folk and Food Fest This Weekend - April 11, 2014
A local non-profit orgranization is holding an event this weekend filled with music and food. Don’t Do It Yourself, an orgranization that helps people with unexpected medical expenses, is hosting the Folk and Food Fest tomorrow at Dee Stadium from 3pm to 10pm. Board President Kristina Coon says she is proud to be a part of the group.
Among the events are a craft show, a silent auction and a wine auction. Also, a great collection of musicians who will be performing all day.
DDIY asks for a $3 donation when you attend the event. If you would like to volunteer to help work the event, an application is available on the community announcements page.
Sentencing for Copper Mine Trespassers - April 11, 2014
Two men charged with breaking into an abandoned Keweenaw County mine shaft were sentenced in district court Thursday. 21 year old Dylan Stubenrauch of Calumet and 21 year old Frederick Bryce of Allouez pled no contest in Keweenaw County District Court to one charge of trespassing. They were sentenced to six days of community service or 12 days in jail and court officials said the pair will opt for community service. Stubenrauch and Bryce allegedly cut through a metal cover to enter the Gratiot Mine Shaft north of Mohawk in March. Police said the pair attempted to remove a large piece of copper from the mine shaft.
House Explosion in Crystal Falls Township - April 11, 2014
Two people were able to get out safely when when their home exploded Wednesday night. The Iron Mountain Daily News reports that firefighters said the explosion at a residence in Crystal Falls Township was triggered when a hot water tank ignited a leak in a propane line from the furnace. The explosion blew out three windows on the residence and bowed out the front of the structure. No injuries were reported.
Physical Therapist Recognized at Portage Health - April 11, 2014
A physical therapist at Portage Health has received a special distinction for her work at the hospital. Katie Temple has been announced as Portage Health’s 2014 Mercy Award recipient in recognition of her commitment to patient care and the community. In addition to her role at Portage Health, Katie is a volunteer assistant hockey coach for the local Keweenaw Storm girls’ youth hockey team. Katie is also a volunteer for many of Portage Health’s community events. The Mercy Award is given annually in honor of Scott L. Mercy, founding Chief Executive Officer of LifePoint Hospitals. This award recognizes individuals who consistently go beyond the call of duty in serving their patients and the community.
Dianda Re-election Kickoff - April 11, 2014
Democratic Representative Scott Dianda will kick off his re-election bid for the 110th House District at an event to be held at the Houghton County Courthouse today at 11am. Dianda is currently in his first term at the state House, where he has shown strong support for Michigan’s veterans and tax relief for middle-class families.
New Surgeon at Aspirus Keweenaw - April 11, 2014
Aspirus Keweenaw is welcoming a new surgeon to their orthopedic team. Dr. John Horan is joining Dr. Fredrick Rau at the Laurium clinic. Horan has 24 years of experience in comprehensive clinical and surgical orthopedic care. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his orthopedic residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Horan believes that non-surgical options should always be the first methods of treatment. He says it all depends on what the condition is and what has been tried. For more information or to set up an appointment with Dr. Horan, contact Aspirus Keweenaw.
Benishek Supports Maple Syrup Industry - April 11, 2014
Congressman Dan Benishek is urging the House Appropriations Committee to fund the Acer Access and Development Program, which will enhance the growth of the maple syrup industry. Benishek says the manufacturing of maple syrup is an important and growing industry and promoting local businesses will create more jobs. Michigan currently ranks 5th in Maple Syrup Production in the U.S. In 2013, 148,000 gallons of maple syrup were produced in Michigan.
GM Disciplined for Recall Issues - April 11, 2014
General Motors has placed two engineers on paid leave as part of a continuing internal investigation into the company’s recall of 2.6 million vehicles for ignition switch defects linked to at least 13 deaths. GM CEO Mary Barra on Thursday said the decision to place the two on leave came after an update from Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney who is overseeing an independent investigation into GM’s handling of events leading to a safety recall of 2.6 million older GM cars for ignition defects. In additions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it plans to fine General Motors $7,000 a day until the automaker answers outstanding questions about a faulty ignition switch. The NHTSA gave GM an April 3rd deadline but the automaker is refusing to respond until an internal investigation is finished. The agency says that GM failed to answer roughly one-third of the questions they were required to remit and it is imposing a fine.
Dems Have New Plan About Office Furniture - April 11, 2014
House Democrats have unveiled plans to transfer $22 million from a controversial state furniture contract to local schools and place a $1 million cap on state office furniture spending. Democratic leader Tim Greimel says the proposals are a response to revelations that Snyder administration officials and his controversial NERD fund intervened in the midst of the state’s fiscal year 2012 budget crisis to protect the Governor’s cousin, George Snyder, and major financial contributor Haworth Inc. from what could have been a multimillion-dollar cut connected to the state furniture contract. Among other things, the reform package would amend Michigan’s 2015 budget to include a $1 million limit on purchases of office furniture and require all high-level state employees, including the governor and his staff, to report their income, assets, liabilities and any asset changes affecting them or their immediate family.
Recap of Houghton City Council Meeting - April 10, 2014
What if the Portage Lake Lift Bridge suddenly stopped working? That was one of the main topics dicussed at last night’s Houghton City Council meeting. The council approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Houghton and Houghton County which City Manager Eric Waara says outlines the obligations for the city.
The council also approved the designation of Waara as the Michigan State Housing Development Authority Grant Certifying Officer. Also, a resolution to add a few roads to the city’s map was voted in support.
Trial Postponed for Robbery Suspects - April 10, 2014
The Baraga County Circuit Court trial for the two Wisconsin men who posed as U.S. Marshals and held two Watton residents at gunpoint during a robbery last summer was postponed until late June after one of the defendants asked for a new attorney. 47-year-old Bernard Fish and 21-year-old Donavan Waupoose had been scheduled to go to trial next week on a number of charges but a new lawyer for Fish has just taken over his case. Waupoose and Fish are accused of breaking into a home back in August, identified themselves as federal agents and then held the occupants hostage in exchange for a 10,000 dollar ransom. They didn’t get the money but eventually left with wallets and a handgun. Their trial is now scheduled to take place the week of June 23. Fish and Waupoose will next appear in court April 16 for motions to try the two cases separately.
Growing Concern for Wolf Population on Isle Royale - April 10, 2014
The wolf population on Isle Royale has dwindled down to just nine wolves and there is now growing concern that the wolves may continue to suffer from low genetic diversity and could die out. Park Superintendent Phyllis Green says that just bringing in new wolves to the island won’t solve the problem. She adds that the food base that supports the wolves could be altered due to factors like prey species and climate change. A comprehensive planning process will be devised that will consider the management of the moose, wolves and vegetation on the island. In the meantime, the wolf population will continue to be monitored.
MTU Secures Spot in National Competition - April 10, 2014
After countless hours, intense conditioning and a challenging regional competition, Michigan Technological University has secured a place at the National Concrete Canoe Competition. Michigan Tech’s team, paddling in a concrete canoe they designed and built together, beat out several other schools’ competitors at the North Central regional competition last weekend at University of Detroit–Mercy. The team will compete against teams from 17 other regions at the NCCC, which will be held June 19th through the 21st at The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
MI to Run Employment Based Visa Center - April 10, 2014
Michigan has become one of only two states in the nation with a state run Employment Based Visa center aimed at attracting foreign investors to the state. Governor Snyder says the Michigan EB-5 Regional Center will act as a vehicle to connect eligible foreign investors with potential development projects across the state, which in return could lead to permanent residency for them and their families. To qualify for the EB-5 designation, a company must agree to invest at least $500,000 in distressed areas of the state or $1 million elsewhere and employ at least 10 people. Officials say investors will come from a variety of sources, including individuals and contacts made through Michigan’s colleges and universities hoping to retain and attract current and former students.
Voters Want Protection for Prejudice Firings - April 10, 2014
Nearly 70% of Michigan voters say Michigan lawmakers should act to protect people from being fired for their sexual orientation and their religious beliefs. The survey was conducted by Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group. The poll also revealed that Democrats, Independents and Republicans all agree on the issue. Conservative, moderate and liberal voters also agree that people should be protected.
MI Budget Transparency Among the Best - April 10, 2014
Michigan ranks 15th among all the states, for the transparency of its online budget and spending posts. The report was issued by the U.S. Public Interest Group Education Fund. Michigan was among 20 states to get a “B” grade. Specifically, Michigan received 86.5 points in the ranking. Among measures used in the study was if the state had an online checkbook and if was downloadable and searchable. Michigan also received some additional points because of the level of detail, and because it can be downloaded in data format, allowing it to be analyzed. The state also got points for posting economic development tax credit programs in “checkbook” format.
Peters Leads Land in Latest Polls - April 10, 2014
Michigan Congressman Gary Peters has a slight lead over former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in a new poll on the U.S. Senate race. Public Policy Polling finds the suburban Detroit Democrat has a 41% to 36% lead over Land. In December, the firm’s numbers gave the Republican Land a two-percent lead, 42% to 40%. According to pollsters, Peters is doing well with independent voters and is being boosted by a more positive public perception of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout.
Recap of Keweenaw Job Fair - April 9, 2014
The first ever Keweenaw Job Fair was held yesterday at the Jutila Center in Hancock and the turnout was very positive. The event was organized by members of Finlandia University and Michigan Works. And all kinds of opportunities were available. Employers spoke with interested job-seekers to find out what they were looking for. Brian Donnely from River Valley Bank says he is looking to take advantage of this chance to meet many people.
The event also held seminars on many things including how to write a resume and what to expect at an interview. Everything a prospect job-seeker wanted was available. The main goal of this event is to make sure it can be an annual job fair for years to come.
Pretrial Set for Fake Windmill Salesman - April 9, 2014
The pre-trial hearing for a windmill salesman accused of swindling customers in the Upper Peninsula has been delayed.
57-year old Billy Lee Parish of Kincheloe is charged with larceny by conversion greater than $20,000. He is now scheduled for a pretrial conference hearing on April 24 in Delta County Circuit Court to decide whether to go to trial or make a plea. According to the Escanaba Daily Press, Parish is suspected of scamming nearly $100,000 from about 45 customers from throughout the Upper Peninsula. He fled the area in late 2011 after police questioned him about the fraudulent sales complaints. Police say Parish solicited homeowners to purchase electricity-generating windmills. He took a minimum $2,000 down payment then partially completed the work or, in some cases, took the money and never returned. Parish is being held on a $10,000 bond.
Isle Royale Study is Honored - April 9, 2014
The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame will be inducting a local study this week. Michigan Tech’s Isle Royale wolf-moose predator-prey study has been elected to be honored at the ceremony this Thursday in Grand Rapids. Wildlife ecology associate profesoor John Vucetich will be presenting the project. Vucetich is director of the Isle Royale wolf-moose research, the longest-running predator-prey study in the world. The project was started in 1958 by Durward L. Allen. Since then, the wolf and moose populations of the remote wilderness islands have fluctuated dramatically due to a variety of factors.
Eagle Mine Dispute - April 9, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the Huron Mountain Club that claims construction of the Eagle Mine will spoil the environment in northern Marquette County. Published reports say the Court will not intervene in a dispute over construction of the mine launched by the club. The Huron Mountain Club, which owns 19,000 acres of land in the area, some of which comes within 3 miles of the mine, has been challenging the mine in state and federal courts. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against the club’s arguments that the mine needs federal permits.
Latest Numbers on Medicaid Enrollment - April 9, 2014
State officials say Michigan’s expanded Medicaid plan is now providing coverage to nearly 86,000 people since it launched April 1. As of Tuesday afternoon, Michigan received over 54,000 applications and enrolled about 32,000 Michiganders into the Healthy Michigan Plan. The difference represents those with applications that are pending confirmation, others who were eligible but enrolled in different Medicaid programs or have applications in progress or have been denied. Prior to the launch date the Michigan Department of Community Health transitioned the previous Medicaid Adult Benefits Waiver population into the program with coverage beginning on April 1. Governor Rick Snyder says the program is off to a great start in getting the people the coverage they need.
Is College Affordable? - April 9, 2014
A survey in Michigan says that while 96% of Michiganders believe attending college is at least “somewhat important,” more than 67% disagree with those who say college is reasonable affordable. The survey was conducted by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University for the Michigan College Access Network. Brandy Johnson, Executive Director of M-CAN says it’s important to remove the barriers to attending college, and the perception that it’s not affordable makes consideration of higher education a “non starter” for many families.
Broadband Use Increases in MI - April 9, 2014
An organization made up of industry, community organizations and state regulators says that broadband internet connections in Michigan is running ahead of the national average, with 79% of households subscribing to broadband service last year. That’s a 13% increase over 2010 according to Connect Michigan. A recent Pew Research Center study showed the national adoption rate was 70%. Eric Frederick of Connect Michigan says they’re encouraged by the increase in Michigan. However, he says a “digital gap” still exists, as more than 271 school-age children in Michigan still do not have broadband access at home.
GM Vehicle Safety Ratings - April 9, 2014
Two General Motors vehicles finished at the top of the list of mid-size SUV’s in a tough new crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Vice President and Chief Research Officer David Zuby says the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain score well in all components of the small overlap test structure, restraints and kinematics, and injury. The small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. The Toyota Highlander is the only other of nine SUV’s tested to do well enough to get a “Top Safety Pick+” designation from the Institute. All of the other vehicles showed some issue that could have caused injury or worse.
Keweenaw Job Fair Today - April 8, 2014
After a snowstorm late last week caused it to be postponed, the Keweenaw Job Fair will take place today at the Jutila Center in Hancock. Students, graduates and all members of the community are welcome to attend. The job fair will be offering full-time, part-time and seasonal positions. Finlandia Dean for the School of International Business Kevin Manninen says the idea for this job fair stems from an interest for a job fair that didn’t concentrate on one particular job sector. The event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Resume writing and other job related assistance will also be available at the event.
No Contest Plea for 3rd Man Involved in Cougar Killing - April 8, 2014
The third man accused of killing a cougar in Schoolcraft County pled no contest in court Monday. 42 year old Todd Anthony Richard of Burt, MI was sentenced to 30 days in jail on one count of taking, possessing, buying, or selling an endangered species. Richard will forgo his jail sentence because he paid his court fines and costs. He was also sentenced to complete 24 hours of community service within 30 days. Richard and two other men, Troy Richard and Theodore Richard, allegedly killed a cougar in December.
Jury Trial for Iron River Woman - April 8, 2014
A jury trial is set for an Iron River woman allegedly involved in a home invasion. 23 year old Brittany Marvin pled not guilty last month to second degree home invasion and larceny in a building. A two-day trial is scheduled for July 22 and 23 in Iron County Trial Court. Marvin has a pretrial hearing in May. Her co-defendant, 22 year old Jordan Luckey also pled not guilty to those charges. Luckey is facing more than a dozen other charges from a number of incidents from June 2013, including OWI, resisting and/or obstructing a police officer, and unlawfully taking a vehicle. His pretrial is scheduled for April 28.
Ford Recall in Effect - April 8, 2014
More recalls from one of Detroit’s automakers. This time it’s Ford. The company is recalling more than 434,000 vehicles in two separate recalls of some of the automaker’s most popular nameplates. Over 385,000 2001 to 2004 Escape compact SUVs are being recalled because a subframe could fail because of rust and impact the ability to steer. About 349,000 of those Escapes were sold in the U.S. In a second, unrelated recall, Ford is calling back about 48,950 2013 and 2014 Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, Ford Escape and C-MAX vehicles to replace seatback frames that do not comply with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standard. Dealers will replace the seatback frames on affected vehicles. The automaker says there have been no reported accidents or injuries because of the potentially faulty frames.
Work Zone Awareness Week - April 8, 2014
State transportation officials say compared to 2012, highway work zone crashes in 2013 were down 11 percent, injuries down nearly 6 percent, fatalities down 33 percent, but serious injuries were up 87 percent. The announcement came in conjunction with Work Zone Awareness Week. MDOT says serious work zone injuries went up from 57 in 2012 to 107 last year, although fatalities went down, from 15 in 2012 to 10 last year. During the same period, the number of overall crashes declined. State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle says drivers must pay complete attention to everything that is going on in a work zone in order to safely react to changing conditions.
State Fruit Debate Heating Up - April 8, 2014
Two competing proposals in Lansing have started a debate over which fruit should be Michigan’s official state fruit. And a new poll may only add to the debate. The survey from Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group shows more than 68% of voters believing that the official state fruit should be the cherry. Just under 22% say it should be the blueberry. Each fruit is named in separate bills introduced in Lansing. While the cherry leads statewide, voters in the Upper Peninsula have a different opinion. The poll says 58% of Yoopers believe the blueberry should be the official state fruit.
Fuel Economy at an All-Time High - April 8, 2014
Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute say gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. is now at its best mark ever. According to researchers, the average fuel economy of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased in March was 25.4 mpg, up 0.3 mpg from a revised February figure and 5.3 mpg from October 2007, the first full month of monitoring. In addition to average fuel economy, a monthly update was issued with their national Eco-Driving Index, which estimates the average monthly emissions generated by an individual U.S. driver. The EDI takes into account both the fuel used per distance driven and the amount of driving-the latter relying on data that are published with a two-month lag.
Robarge Announces for State Senate – April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
A Marquette Democrat has formally joined the race to unseat 38th District Republican State Senator Tom Casperson. Adam Robarge is an Alpena native who works as the community liaison for the Ore Dock Brewing Company… where his announcement took place on Saturday. In a press release, Robarge promised to work for “a new direction that takes us into a future of sustainability both with our environment and our economy.” He has also served as the Upper Peninsula Coordinator of the downstate group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected. As to his specific positions, the “Issues” page on his website is empty. Robarge will face Gladstone Democrat Chris LeMarche in the Democratic primary on August 5th. So far, Casperson is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Marquette Shooting Injures Two - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
A shooting early Sunday morning in Marquette sent two people to the hospital. Police were called to the 200 block of West Bluff Street around 2:30. Both victims were taken to Marquette General Hospital suffering from what were described as “non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.” A suspect was taken into custody. Neither that person’s identity nor the identities of the victims have been released. The Marquette Police Department continues its investigation.
Benishek Decries Obama Low Income Heating Assistance Cut - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
U-S Representative Dan Benishek has joined a growing chorus of officials asking the House Appropriations Committee to provide more money to help low-income homeowners pay their heating bills next winter. Funding is provided through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP provided 3.5-billion dollars in assistance to families across the nation this winter… including 620-thousand families in Michigan. President Obama has slashed funding for the program by more than 30 percent since 2010… and has recommended an additional 20 percent cut for next year. Three weeks ago, mayors from 18 major cities signed a letter asking that funding be increased back to near the 2010 level. Benishek says that… given the cold weather and high fuel prices Northern Michigan residents faced this year… this is not the time to be reducing home heating assistance even further.
Schuette Asks for Expedited Hearing on Gay Marriage Challenge - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants a quick decision on his appeal of the ruling striking down Michigan’s Constitutional Amendment prohibiting gay marriage. Schuette has asked the U-S Sixth Circuit Court to bypass the initial three-judge panel hearing… and proceed directly to a hearing in front of all 15 judges. It’s called an “en banc” hearing. The request can be granted by the court in cases in which conflicting rulings have been issued… or for questions of “exceptional importance.” The court granted a similar request a dozen years ago in the case involving preferential admission to the University of Michigan Law School. Schuette says proceeding to an “en banc” hearing now would save the state money by streamlining the process… and hasten either side’s potential appeal to the U-S Supreme Court.
MTU Outstanding Business/Economics Students Named - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
The Michigan Tech School of Business and Economics has named its Outstanding Man and Woman of the Year. Judy Isaacson is a member of the Applied Portfolio Management Program… which recently won two international competitions. She recently spent a semester studying at London Metropolitan University. Cole Smith is a management major, who has participated in numerous statewide academic competitions while at Tech, and has taken part in the university’s co-op program. School Dean Gene Klippel says both have excellent academic records… and have taken on leadership roles on campus.
2015 Winter Carnival Theme Announced - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
This year’s extraordinary winter may have had some bearing on the theme that’s been chosen for next year’s Winter Carnival. “While frozen in the ice and snow, we dream of vacations on which to go” was selected recently from ideas submitted to the Blue Key Society. The society is now running its annual logo contest. Designs can be drawn by hand or computer-generated… and must be submitted to the Blue Key Society by midnight Friday.
Voters Support Suspicion-Based Welfare Drug Testing - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
A new survey indicates that lots of Michigan voters support a proposal to test recipients of public assistance who are suspected of using drugs. More than three-quarters of those asked by Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group said they favor such legislation pending in the Michigan Legislature. M-R-G President Tom Shields told MLive that the results showed broad support from every region of the state… and from voters in every income range. The proposal in the legislature would require the state Department of Human Services to test welfare recipients suspected of using drugs, then send recipients with positive tests to rehabilitation. The legislation requires the department to pay for rehab for recipients if they do not have insurance. Recipients would lose their benefits if they fail a second test. Specific information about the proposal was not included in the poll question.
Possible New Life for Historic LSSU Building - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
An historic building at Lake Superior State University may be getting new life. “South Hall” was built in the early 1900s… and was originally part of Fort Brady. It’s been closed for a decade… but University officials say a campaign to raise 12-million dollars to renovate it is going well. The university hopes to use it as a home for its School of Business.
Three Western U.P. Counties to Receive Fed Forest Money - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
Three Western Upper Peninsula Counties will receive a portion of more than three million dollars coming to Michigan through the U-S Forest Service’s Secure Rural Schools Program. Gogebic County will get the largest portion… nearly 457-thousand dollars. Ontonagon County will get more than 448-thousand dollars… and Baraga County will receive 85-thousand dollars. The money can be used for schools or roads. Ontonagon and Gogebic Counties must also use a portion for projects that protect or restore forestland and wildlife habitat. The cash comes from the fees collected by the government from logging and timber sales from the Ottawa National Forest… and other national forests throughout the state. It’s part of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for federal land that’s administered by the Department of Agriculture.
Money Earmarked for Manitou Island Light Restoration - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
Some of the money the state collected from sales of the “Save Our Lights” specialty vehicle license plates is coming to the Copper Country. The plates raise cash to help preserve historic lighthouses. The Keweenaw Land Trust will receive nearly 20-thousand dollars ($19,970) for work at the Manitou Island Light Station. The project will stabilize and rehabilitate the 96-foot-long Manitou Island wooden dock structure and crib that extends into Lake Superior. Projects are chosen through an annual competitive application process. Organizations receiving the grants must contribute 50 percent of the award amount as matching dollars to the project.
U.P. to Get First Taste of Joint Medicare/Medicaid Service - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
A new program designed to integrate medical services for Michiganders who are qualified for both Medicare and Medicaid will be rolled out first in the Upper Peninsula. Last week, the Michigan Department of Community Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement the plan. The result will be MI Health Link. MDCH Director James Haveman says MI Health Link will make services from the two different systems easier for beneficiaries to access. A three-year demonstration program will begin enrolling participants later this year… both here in the U-P, and in Southwest Michigan. Other areas will be added later. For more details, click here.
Bonus Fuelwood Permits Available - April 7, 2014 – Todd VanDyke
Copper Country residents who purchased Michigan Fuelwood Permits when they went on sale early in March may be able to purchase an additional permit this year. The permits allow residents to collect up to five cords of firewood from designated state forest land. They usually go on sale April 1st. Because of the abnormally cold winter, and the propane shortage, the DNR began selling them early. Now, the state says folks who bought theirs before April 1st can get another. Permits cost 20-dollars, and are good for 90 days. Wood harvested must be for personal use, and cannot be sold. To purchase your permit, and to find out what areas are available for harvesting, contact the DNR office in Baraga.
Funding for Roads Received by Counties, Cities - April 4, 2014
Counties, cities and villages today received a combined $60.9 million to help restore road maintenance budgets that were depleted by Michigan’s tough winter. The $60.9 million is part of $100 million for special winter road maintenance provided in a supplemental appropriations bill enacted by the Michigan Legislature and signed into law March 14 by Gov. Rick Snyder. Houghton County received just over $250,000, Baraga County received over $128,000 and Keweenaw County received $75,800. The Michigan Department of Transportation allocated the one-time appropriation with MDOT receiving $39.1 million, counties getting $39.1 million, and cities and villages get $21.8 million.
2013 MTU Graduate Report - April 4, 2014
The Michigan Tech Graduate School has received high marks according to its 2013 Graduate Report. For the fifth year in a row, graduate enrollment has reach a record high, more than half of which came from international students. According to the report, the number of first-time master’s students during the 2013 fall semester increased by 21.8%. Graduate School Dean Jacqueline Huntoon says the numbers show that MTU’s graduate and research programs are getting the attention they deserve. The report also shows that for the 2012-2013 school year, 98% of students found a job after graduating.
Evaluation on Cliffs-Dow Land - April 4, 2014
A long-term evaluation project focusing on the former Cliffs-Dow site along Lake Superior in Marquette has found data indicating chemical contamination of the land has significantly declined. The findings were presented this week to the Marquette City Commission and will be a key step in expediting the re-use of the land. The property has been owned by the city since 1997, but it’s re-use has been hampered due to contamination from the previous owner’s industrial usage of the land. About 800 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed a few years ago and that, in combination with the decline in contaminant levels, should allow the city to approach state and federal environmental agencies to request approval for the safe re-use of the space. City officials say they are now considering options in moving ahead with any plans.
Support for Wolf Hunt in MI - April 4, 2014
Most Michigan residents say they favor a limited hunting season for wolves, according to a new poll. The survey conducted by the Lansing-based polling firm Marketing Resource Group, shows that 68% of Michigan voters support legislation that would allow for a limited hunting season of wolves in the state. Twenty-six-percent oppose the measure. The strongest support for the legislation is in northern Michigan, where 81% of voters agree that the wolf population needs to be controlled.
More Funding for Roads and Bridges - April 4, 2014
Michigan House Republicans late Thursday unveiled their proposal to spend about a half a billion dollars more on roads and bridges. The proposal would replace Michigan’s 19-cent gas tax and 15-cent diesel tax with a 6% tax on the wholesale price of gas. But that doesn’t mean more savings for consumers, who would pay more tax as the price of gas increases. If approved by lawmakers, the change is estimated to generate an extra $450 million in road funding next year and about $500 million by 2018. That is short of the of the $1.2 billion in annual additional funding requested by Governor Rick Snyder last year. House Speaker Jase Bolger acknowledged that the plan is not a full solution, but says it does incorporate things constituents have requested.
Unemployment Rates - April 4, 2014
State officials say seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates in February increased in 15 of the state’s 17 major labor market regions. Only the Monroe and Flint areas recorded a decline in their jobless rate during the month. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, total employment advanced moderately over the month in most areas, while labor force levels were up in all regions. Spokesman Jason Palmer says throughout the state, payroll job totals in the winter are typically at their lowest levels of the year in a number of industry sectors including construction, trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality services.
Campaign vs. Personal Property Tax - April 4, 2014
A group called Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities Thursday hosted kick-off events in four cities across the state for a statewide ballot campaign reforming the state’s Personal Property Tax. That campaign aims to put a measure on the August ballot. Lawmakers have already approved phasing out the Personal Property Tax small businesses and manufacturers pay on equipment beginning in 2016, but the tax changes require final approval from voters. The ballot proposal also guarantees that 100 percent of estimated lost funding for local services will be returned to Michigan communities for police, fire, ambulances, jails, schools, roads, libraries and other services.
Guilty Plea for Ontonagon Man - April 3, 2014
A man who pleaded guilty to a firearms charge in Ontonagon County Circuit Court will have to spend 60 days in jail. 34 year old Chris Worachek will also have to pay slightly more than $1,000 in fines and court costs. He pleaded guilty in January to one count of firearm possession by a felon. Michigan State Police from the Wakefield Post arrested Worachek and another man, 33-year-old Andre Jones, at a home in Matchwood Township in July 2013. Troopers were investigating break-ins in the area, and they say the two men were in possession of stolen property. The case against Jones was dismissed in December.
Pink Mohawk Dispute Ends - April 3, 2014
An agreement has been reached in the case of a high school athlete in the Western Upper Peninsula who was recently suspended from the track team because of his pink mohawk. West Iron County High School student Mike Barker dyed his hair in support of his mother, a breat cancer survivor. School officials expressed their regret that Barker was not allowed to participate in the track meet as a result of the interpretation of the athletic policy. The school will be appointing a committee to review the policy and make a determination what should be in the policy. Barker will be part of the committee.
National Donate Life Month - April 3, 2014
This week marks the beginning of National Donate Life Month.
Last year, Gift of Life Michigan helped over 1,000 Michiganders donate organs and tissue for transplant as their final act of generosity. But, with hundreds of thousands still in need of a life-saving organ, there is plenty of work to be done. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says one donation can have a great impact.
In 2013, Michigan donors and their families provided 915 organs for transplant – each one representing a life saved – and tens of thousands of tissue grafts that will lead to better mobility and health for those in need. For more information on how to sign up to become an organ donor, contact your local Secretary of State office or head to their website.
Schauer Names Running-mate - April 3, 2014
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer will name Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown as his choice for lieutenant governor at a series of news conferences scheduled for today. Brown served in the House from 2007-12 before winning the clerk’s post in 2012. Schauer’s campaign began sharing the news with Democrats on Wednesday. Campaign manager BJ Neidhardt wrote in a letter to supporters that Brown “has a record of winning tough races in Michigan’s second-largest county, and as a former legislator from a marginal district, she has the right experience to be an incredibly effective Lt. Governor.”
More Questioning for GM CEO - April 3, 2014
General Motors CEO Mary Barra faced more questioning in front of Congress Wednesday. Members of a Senate subcommittee accused GM of trying to cover up problems with an ignition switch that is now tied to 13 deaths, and pressed Barra to commit to punishing anyone involved. Panel members also told Barra that GM should tell owners to stop driving all the 2.6 million cars being recalled for the faulty switch until they are repaired. GM is currently telling owners the cars, mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, are fine to drive as long as nothing is placed on the key chain. Barra told a House committee Tuesday that GM is “determined to set a new standard” of safety following the deaths of at least a dozen people due to the faulty switches.
New Plates for Autonomous Cars - April 3, 2014
Quantum Signal in Saline is the first company to receive manufacturer plates from the Michigan Secretary of State under a new law that broadens eligibility for those allowed to test automated vehicles on Michigan roads to include universities, developers and suppliers. March 27 was the first day the plates were allowed to be issued. Previously, only a handful of entities could legally test new/automated vehicle technologies on public roads. Whenever an automated vehicle is being tested on a public road, a licensed driver must be behind the wheel and ready to take control. The Michigan Department of Transportation will help process and validate plate applications.
MTU Wins Investment Competition - April 2, 2014
An Applied Portfolio Management Program team from Michigan Tech has returned winners of two global investment competitions. The Gold Team won the value category in the Global Asset Management Education Forum, hosted by Quinnipiac University in New York City. Over 1,000 participants from 130 universities and 44 states took part in the event, where they would take a portfolio of NASDAQ stocks and see how they perform over the course of a year. They also won the 14th Annual Redefining Investment Strategy Education competition in the same category a week later at the University of Dayton with the same portfolio.
GM CEO Testifies - April 2, 2014
General Motors CEO Mary Barra is apologizing for GM’s safety problems. Faulty ignition switches are blamed for more than a dozen deaths in the U.S. and Canada over more than a decade. In a House committee hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Barra said GM will “do the right thing.” Barra, who took the helm of GM in January, vowed to find out why it took the company so long to deal with the problem which has prompted a massive recall. GM has recalled 2.6 million small cars because their ignition switches can fall out of the run position, causing car engines to stall and air bags to fail. Thirteen deaths are blamed on the problem.
Land to Run for Senate Seat - April 2, 2014
Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land turned in signatures Monday to put her name on the ballot as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Land and a group of volunteers turned in boxes containing over 25,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in Lansing, making her the first U.S. Senate candidate to file for the ballot ahead of the April 22 deadline. Land is expected to face Michigan Democratic Congressman Gary Peters in the November general election to replace retiring Senator Carl Levin. Peters supporters have accused Land of not taking stances on issues so when asked about gay marriage, Land said marriage should be between one man and one woman, saying Michigan voters have spoken on the issue referencing the 2004 ballot proposal.
Start Enrolling in MI Healthcare Program - April 2, 2014
While Monday was the last day to apply for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act without facing a penalty, today is the first day for qualified Michiganders to apply for the Medicaid Healthy Michigan plan. The Healthy Michigan plan, an expansion of Medicaid, is aimed at Michigan residents whose incomes are 133% of the federal poverty level. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill into law after the Michigan Legislature approved it late last year. The governor says the Medicaid expansion will help improve the people’s health, and will also save money. Officials have estimated that as many as 320-thousand Michiganders will sign up for the program in the first year, and eventually up to 470-thousand will be enrolled.
Auto Sales Numbers - April 2, 2014
Chrysler reports a 13% March sales increase in the U.S. compared with the same month last year. This marks the automaker’s 48th consecutive month of year-over-year-sales gains and best March since 2007. Chrysler’s Jeep brand lead the way with a 47% sales increase. Ford sales, meanwhile, are up 3%. The Dearborn automaker says the Fusion set an all time monthly record posting a 9% leap over last year’s record month. Ford F-Series pickup trucks topped the 70,000 vehicle mark meaning a 5% increase over last March. General Motors’ March sales figures, originally scheduled to be released this morning, will be delayed several hours due to a computer systems issue that impacted dealer sales reporting.
Tax Deadline Around the Corner - April 2, 2014
Federal and state income tax returns are due in less than two weeks and the Michigan Department of Treasury is encouraging taxpayers to take advantage of e-filing for convenience and faster refunds. Officials say last year, more than 70-percent of all Michigan income tax returns were filed electronically. Through March 19th, the state Treasury Department has processed 2.5 million individual income tax returns, with 90-percent of those having been e-filed. Free e-filing is available to thousands of taxpayers, based on adjusted gross income, age, or active military status. Other, low-cost e-file opportunities are available as well.
Tax Breaks to CO2 Oil Drillers - April 2, 2014
Lt. Governor Brian Calley has signed legislation that reduces taxes paid by companies that use carbon dioxide gas to drill for oil. Under the method, carbon dioxide gas is injected into depleted oil and natural gas wells to push once-unattainable oil toward other wells where it is captured and pumped to the surface. Backers say it has the added environmental benefit of permanently trapping the carbon dioxide in the underground wells rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. The new laws also allow oil and gas companies to construct carbon dioxide pipelines and expand their authority to build them on private property. The legislation does not include the process of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.
New Let-Run Policy in Houghton - April 1, 2014
The weather looks to be getting better but the city of Houghton is still reeling from one of the worst winters in a long time. One issue that has effected many is freezing pipes and according to city officials, a third of the city are running their water to prevent freeze-ups. But for those people, the city’s let-run policy is barely helping so City Manager Eric Waara proposed an adjustment to the policy at the previous city council meeting. Waara says this problem effects a lot of people.
The council then approved a proposal to take the average bill for the previous three months and charge that amount for March and April. For the time being, residents who are currently running their water are being told to continue until further notice.
CCISD To Interview Superintendent Candidates - April 1, 2014
The search for a new superintendent for the Copper Country Intermediate School District is nearing the end as three finalists have been named: Houghton-Portage Township Schools superintendent Doreen Klingbeil, Calumet Public Schools superintendent Darryl Pierce and Chassell Township Schools superintendent George Stockero. The board of education will interview the three candidates on April 17th and will be open to the public. The new superintendent will be expected to take over for the retiring Dennis Harbour on July 1st, 2014.
Dianda Introduces MDOT bill - April 1, 2014
State Representative Scott Dianda has introduced legislation that would provide an early retirement package to MDOT employees. The bill would trim the ranks at MDOT and apply those budgeted funds to road surfaces. Dianda says adjusting the early retirement would make sure there are funds needed to fix and maintain roads. He added that the money saved will show the commitment to major changes for the improvement and efficiency of MDOT operations.
Another Recall for GM - April 1, 2014
It’s another big recall for General Motors. GM announced Monday that it will recall more than 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering assist. If power steering assist is lost, a message displays on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds to inform the driver. Steering control can be maintained because the vehicle will revert to manual steering, but greater driver effort would be required at low vehicle speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash. The power steering defect, which covers a range of cars from the 2004 through 2010 model years, is not connected to the company’s ongoing ignition switch crisis but some of the vehicles affected by the new recall are also affected by the ignition switch issue. GM did not immediately reveal whether it has identified any accidents or deaths related to the new recall.
Police Still on Lookout for Drunk Drivers - April 1, 2014
Michigan State and Michigan are no longer in the tournament but make sure your March Madness bracket includes a designated driver as law enforcement agencies in 26 counties are continuing to conduct extra patrols through April 7. Police officers, sheriff deputies and Michigan State Police troopers from 144 agencies are participating in a drunk driving crackdown during a time period that includes the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and high school and college spring break periods.
A five-year review of crash data indicates both alcohol use and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes in March and early April.
Unhealthy Eating for Kids - April 1, 2014
Children who watch a lot of TV are likely eating more junk food. A survey by Project Healthy Schools in southeast Michigan shows kids who have unhealthy eating habits also spent the most time in front of a TV or computer screen. These kids snacked more often, and opted for foods that were high in fat and salt. Researchers say commercials marketing junk food heavily influenced the choices of children who watched them.
Keweenaw Job Fair - March 31, 2014
Get out your resume and freshen up because the first ever Keweenaw Job Fair is this Friday. Students, graduates and all members of the community are welcome to attend. The job fair will be offering full-time, part-time and seasonal positions. Finlandia Interim Dean for the School of International Business Kevin Manninen says the idea for this job fair stems from an interest for a job fair that didn’t concentrate on one particular job sector.
Resume writing and other job related assistance will also be available at the event. If you would like more information, contact Robert Peters at the Western U.P. Michigan Works office.
New DNR Fishing Regulations - March 31, 2014
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has released it’s 2014-2015 fishing regulations that will take effect tomorrow. Changes will be made to crayfish possession and use, muskellunge size limits, hook-and-line restrictions and walleye size limits, as well as the removal of some special regulations. The DNR annually adjusts fishing regulations to ensure that the state’s fisheries’ resources are managed properly and to provide the best benefits to anglers and the public. Here are the details:
- Crayfish Possession and Use – Non-native crayfish species, including but not limited to red swamp crayfish and rusty crayfish, may not be possessed or used for bait, whether dead or alive, on any public or private waters of Michigan.
- Muskellunge Size Limits – Larger size limits for muskellunge are now in effect for Gun Lake in Barry County (46 inches) and Big Bear Lake in Otsego County (50 inches).
- Hook-and-Line Restrictions – It is now unlawful to fish with artificial bait or minnows in the Clinton River cut-off channel in Macomb County from the spillway weir to the Harper Road Bridge from March 16 until the Friday before the last Saturday in April.
- Walleye Size Limits – A minimum size limit of 15 inches for walleye is now in effect for Craig Lake State Park waters in Baraga County.
- Special Regulations Removed – The special regulations and permit requirement to fish at Jewett Lake in Ogemaw County have been removed. General statewide regulations now apply.
Higher Consumer Confidence in MI - March 31, 2014
Michigan consumers are growing increasingly confident about their personal finances. That’s according to the latest State of the State Survey from Michigan State University. In a sign of an overall improving economy, 40 percent called their financial situation better this winter than a year ago. Another 31 percent said they were worse off financially than a year ago. Their views marked a continuing improvement since the spring of 2009, when only 13 percent said they were better off and 65 percent said they were worse off. Charles Ballard, MSU economics professor and survey director says that improvement is reflected in the survey data, which show that Michigan residents view the economic situation more favorably than they did a few years ago.
Rogers Not Running - March 31, 2014
US Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan has announced he’s not running for re-eelction, in fact he’s getting out of elective politics. Rogers, whose profile has risen significantly as chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, made the announcement Friday morning. The seven-term congressman says his next job will be as a radio talk show host. Reports say he will be hosting a national show syndicated by Cumulus Media. The show will begin next January.
Feds to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages in MI - March 31, 2014
The federal government will recognize some 300 same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan. Attorney General Eric Holder said the couples will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages. In January, he issued the same decision for about 1,300 same sex couples in Utah that were married during a 17-day window before the U.S. Supreme Court put a district court judge’s ruling on hold until further appeals are considered. Governor Rick Snyder said earlier this week that the same-sex marriages that took place in four counties last weekend are legal, however they won’t be recognized by the state. The marriages took place after the 6th U-S Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages and before a stay was issued on that ruling.
Deadline for Minimum Wage Around the Corner - March 31, 2014
Supporters of a petition drive to increase the minimum wage have less than two months to go to gather the 258,000 signatures necessary to place the question before legislators. The proposal is to raise Michigan’s minimum wage from $7.40 per hour, to $10.10 per hour. If they get enough signatures, lawmakers will have 40 days to approve it. If they do not, it will go on the statewide ballot. Recent polling shows significant support for the increase. Business groups have said it will cost jobs and hurt the economy, and labor groups counter that it help the economy and will pull many Michigan families out of poverty.
Cold Weather Shouldn’t Effect Fish - March 31, 2014
The Department of Natural Resources says this year’s severe winter will take a toll on fish and other aquatic creatures. Officials say after the heavy ice and snow cover melts on Michigan’s lakes the next few weeks it may be common to discover dead fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish. DNR fish production manager Gary Whelan says it will be particularly common in shallow lakes and streams and ponds but the winterkills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality.
U.P. Educators Heading to Finland - March 28, 2014
Today, ten Upper Peninsula educators are heading overseas to learn about the successful teaching techniques in Finland. Finlandia University is facilitating the first Finnish Educator Exploratory Team to Helsinsk, Finland, where they have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Among those making the trip are Baraga Area Schools Superintendent Jennifer Lynn and Hancock High School Principal John Sanregret. They will visit Finnish schools and be provided opportunities to engage in conversations with Finnish educators, observe direct instruction and teaching methodoligies. The trip will be the topic of interest at the Fall Education Forum at Finlandia University in October 2014.
Local Hospitals Receive National Recognition - March 28, 2014
Two local Aspirus hospitals have received national certification in diabetes education. Asprius Keweenaw and Aspirus Ontonagon were recently awarded the prestigious American Diabetes Association Education Recognition Certificate for quality diabetes self-management education programs. Achieving recognition status signifies that staff are knowledgeable health professionals who provide patients with comprehensive information about diabetes management. Aspirus Keweenaw Dietitian Beth Cook, who manages the diabetes self-management education programs for both hospitals, says the recognition assures their patients that they are providing the highest quality of care.
State Lawmakers Take a Break - March 28, 2014
Michigan lawmakers have headed back home for their spring break. Lawmakers had been in session for 35 days since the governor’s State of the State address. And some of what he called for is being accomplished, such as a 65-million dollar program to place every pre-school child into a pre-school program, as well as some additional spending in the K-12 system. His proposal to expand the special school district for failing schools — called the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) — may have hit a roadblock in the Senate, however. And while the governor is happy lawmakers have approved more than 200 million more dollars to road funding, the legislature has not approved his proposal for a longer term solution to road and bridge maintenance.
Reimbursement for Local Gov’ts - March 28, 2014
The Michigan Senate has given final approval to a package of bills that change how local governments will be fully reimbursed for revenue lost from the phase out of the state’s personal property tax on business. The legislation is needed for local governments, especially those heavily dependent on revenue from manufacturing plants and the like. The bills include language that guarantees full reimbursement to communities. Earlier legislation fell short of full reimbursement. The bills now go to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law.
Tax Credits for Healthcare Sign-Ups - March 28, 2014
Michigan residents who have chosen plans on the health insurance marketplace have qualified for an estimated $328 million in premium tax credits. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 87% of Michiganders who selected plans as of March 1, were eligible for financial assistance through the Affordable Care Act. That averages to about $2,610 per person. M-Live.com reports, nationally, an estimated 3.5 million people have qualified for a total of $10 billion in tax credits as of March 1. Consumers have three more days to sign up for coverage on the health insurance marketplace.
Expediting the Adoption Process - March 28, 2014
Bills aimed at speeding up the adoption process in Michigan have cleared the state Senate. The upper-chamber approved House passed legislation yesterday that shorten the time for finalizing an adoption of a child less than a year old to three months, down from six months. Another bill would allow parents to consent to an out-of-court adoption and gives parents five business days to revoke consent for an adoption. A third bill clarifies the adoption rights of an unmarried father.
Retailers Hope for A Warm-Up - March 28, 2014
Michigan retailers experienced a “small thaw” with slightly higher sales and an improving short-term outlook in February, but still have a lot of frozen ground to make up after the extreme winter, according to a new survey from the Michigan Retailers Association. MRA president and CEO, Jim Hallan, says while their monthy Michigan Retail Index survey in February found 42% of retailers increasing sales over the same month last year, better than the 30% in January, it was the harsh winter weather that kept consumers indoors and away from stores. Hallan also blames higher energy costs which led to less spendable income for consumers in February. He says a warm spring is what is needed to help everybody get back on track.
Houghton City Council Recap - March 27, 2014
The Let Run Water Policy was one of the topics discussed at yesterday’s Houghton city council meeting. City Manager Eric Waara pointed out that the current credit policy for those running their water due to freezing pipes isn’t going to cut.
The new change will only apply to residents who have been documented by the city as Let Run residences. Also, East Crestview Road was added to the master map.
A public hearing was also held regarding a Michigan State Housing Development Authority Rental Rehab Grant application for Portage Lake Properties LLC, specifically two apartments above Roy’s Bakery. The council then approved the submission of the grant application.
Little Brothers to Hold Raffle - March 27, 2014
Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly is holding a raffle to raise money to replace the truck volunteers use to plow snow and deliver heating wood to elderly friends in the Copper Country. The truck will cost $40,000, once it’s equipped with a plow and a dumping system. A $10,000 donation has already been made toward the new truck by the Alden and Vada Dow Foundation. Little Brothers hopes to raise an additional $24,000 through the raffle. Tickets are $40.00 each. Systems Manager Mike Cinelli says there could potentially be three prizes.
The prize drawing will be held August 2nd. Tickets are available at the Little Brothers office in Hancock.
Higher Education Spending to Increase - March 27, 2014
A budget subcommittee in the Michigan House has approved a higher education budget in Michigan for next year that increases spending by about 77 million dollars over the current fiscal year. However, it’s five million dollars smaller than what the governor recommended. A proposed amendment to bring the funding up to the governor’s recommendation was rejected. The Gongwer News Service reports that House Republican John Walsh of Livonia says committee approval is just part of the process of drawing up a budget, and he’s hopeful to get the amount back to what the governor recommended. The legislation allows state supported universities to increase tuition by no more than three-point two percent.
Probation Program Reform Gets Help - March 27, 2014
A Hawaiian judge who created a probation program so successful in reducing crime, drug use and jail time that it has become the model of reforms across the nation was in Lansing Wednesday touting the benefits Michigan could realize if the state’s similar program were expanded statewide. Judge Steven Alm, creator of Hawaii’s Honest Opportunity with Probation Enforcement, was brought to Michigan by State Senator John Proos, the sponsor of Michigan’s Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program. Michigan’s Swift and Sure program began as a pilot project for counties with combined courts and drug courts. Under a 2012 state law it became a permanent program, supervising high-risk probationers and requiring them to undergo frequent, random drug and alcohol testing so treatment decisions are based on the probationer’s behavior.
MI Unemployment Continues to Decrease - March 27, 2014
Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped for the sixth consecutive month in February edging down by one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.7 percent. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, total employment rose by 26,000 in February and the number of unemployed declined slightly by 4,000. The state’s labor force increased by 21,000 over the month. Spokesman Jason Palmer says Michigan labor market conditions displayed modest improvement in February. Michigan’s jobless rate last month was one and one-tenth percentage points below the state’s February 2013 rate of 8.8 percent. The state’s unemployment rate in February was one percentage point above the national rate of 6.7 percent.
“R-Word” Removed from Legislation - March 27, 2014
Lt. Governor Brian Calley will sign legislation tomorrow to remove all instances of the words “retardation” and “retarded” from state laws. The state Legislature unanimously passed the respective bills, earlier this month, that would replace the words with “developmental disability” or “intellectually disabled.” While the terms retarded, retardation, and mental retardation used to refer to people with learning or developmental disabilities, it is now widely regarded as offensive or insulting. The term, in its different forms, appears 15 times in Michigan laws dealing with everything from mental health to education to crime. The bills came out of recommendations from the bipartisan Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission.
Houghton City Council Meeting Preview - March 26, 2014
Tonight’s Houghton City Council meeting will begin with a public hearing regarding a Michigan State Housing Development Authority Rental Rehab Grant application for Portage Lake Properties LLC, specifically two apartments above Roy’s Bakery. One of the resolutions to be voted on by the council is to authorize City Manager Eric Waara to sign off on the application as well as designate WUPPDR as a 3rd party administrator. The other resolution is to create an equal opportunity agreement in terms of the bidding and contracting of that property. Also, the water run policy will be readressed at the meeting.
Driver Arraigned in Fatal Hit-and-Run - March 26, 2014
A Big Bay man will be back in court in April on a charge related to the fatal hit-and-run accident involving 54 year old Robin Rahoi. 46 year old Michael Nels Nelson is charged with failure to stop at the scene of an accident when at fault, resulting in death. Judge Roger Kangas arraigned him in 96th District Court in Ishpeming this morning by video conference. Nelson is accused of being the driver in a pedestrian accident on Lighthouse Road, in Big Bay on December 17th. The woman was killed in that accident and the vehicle left the scene. Police arrested Nelson Monday afternoon. He has a preliminary exam scheduled for April 7th in Marquette. Nelson is in the Marquette County Jail on $150,000 bond.
Extended Stay on Gay Marriage Ruling - March 26, 2014
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is extending its hold on gay marriages in Michigan. The appeals court voted 2-1 yesterday to extend its temporary stay on same-sex marriages until formal arguments are heard in the case, as requested by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is considering asking the U.S. Supreme Court for another stay to keep same-sex couples from marrying. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Saturday temporarily halting marriages among same-sex couples following U.S. district Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling on Friday that Michigan’s bans on gay marriage and same-sex adoption violate the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Snyder Accused of Preferential Treatment to Family Member - March 26, 2014
Michigan Democrats are alleging that Governor Rick Snyder’s cousin got preferential treatment in landing a $41 million furniture contract with the state in 2011, his first year in office. The party has filed a massive document, filled with internal emails inside the governor’s office with the U.S. Attorney in West Michigan calling for an investigation into what may be violation of federal laws. George Snyder is owner and president of Lansing-based DBI Business Interiors and Democrats say when he found out the state furniture contract was going to be capped at a million dollars he asked for help from one of the governor’s closest advisors. The Snyder administration has dismissed this as a manufactured issue based on emails that were “taken out of context” and as “absolutely false” the allegation of favoritism within the Snyder family.
Class Action Lawsuit Against GM - March 26, 2014
A new class action suit has been filed against General Motors in connection with an ignition switch problem that has led to dozens of crashes and at least 12 deaths. The lawsuit filed Monday includes stories from 13-plaintiffs who all outline how the faulty switch caused them to lose control of their cars. Attorneys claim not only did GM know the switches were faulty but also knew the position was problematic. Also, the family of a 32-year-old Alabama woman who died in a 2013 accident in her 2006 Chevy Cobalt have sued GM in a product liability and wrongful death case in Alabama. The lawsuit says the ignition switch failure caused the mother of two to lose control of the vehicle and collide with an 18-wheel log truck. GM has recalled one-point-six-million vehicles because of the problem and CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to testify for two days in Washington, DC as part of a federal investigation into the issue.
Microbrewery Expansion - March 26, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has signed a package of bills that allow microbreweries to expand in Michigan. The legislation would allow microbreweries in the state to produce up to 60,000 barrels a year. That’s double the current limit of 30,000. Additionally, small microbreweries that produce less than 1,000 barrels of beer per year are now able to distribute their product directly to retailers under certain conditions. Brewers and liquor associations support the changes saying it will help the industry’s economic growth and create jobs.
MI Cyber Range Hub Unveiled - March 26, 2014
The Michigan National Guard has unveiled the inaugural Michigan Cyber Range hub intended to train and prepare participants in detecting, preventing, and thwarting cyber-attacks in a real-world setting. Governor Rick Snyder attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 110th Airlift Wing in Battle Creek on Tuesday. He says with this and future hubs opening at National Guard bases, military personnel will be able to train at the highest level with the most sophisticated equipment to best prepare for any real world threats that they may face. The Michigan Cyber Range, launched in November 2012, allows for “live fire” exercises and simulations that will test their detection and reaction skills in a variety of situations.
Package to Protect Local Governments Approved - March 26, 2014
A ten-bill package to ensure that local governments are not hurt by a cut in the personal property tax on business has cleared the Michigan House. The tax has, for years, provided needed revenue to many local communities, but the recently approved phase-out has endangered that funding. The package, approved by the House 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.
Escaped Inmate Back in Custody - March 25, 2014
An inmate in the Houghton County Jail is back in custody after he walked away from his work crew yesterday afternoon. Police say 26-year-old Troy Joseph Roberts was working at the City of Houghton Public Works garage, when walked off the site. Roberts was taken into custody a couple hours later by Michigan State Police and Keweenaw Bay Tribal Police. No further details have been released.
Arrest Made in Fatal Hit-and-Run - March 25, 2014
Michigan State Police from the Negaunee Post say they’ve arrested someone in connection with a fatal hit-and-run accident in December. Police say they have made an arrest in the accident in which 54-year-old Robin Rahoi of Big Bay was killed. She was killed in an accident on County Road KCB in Powell Township on December 17. Police arrested the suspected hit-and-run driver Monday afternoon. The driver is charged with failure to stop at the scene of an accident when at fault, resulting in death. The potential penalty if found guilty is 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. Police say the suspect is in the Marquette County Jail on $150,000 bond. The suspect’s name will not be released until after an arraignment can take place in 96th District Court.
Hold Up on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling - March 25, 2014
Neither the state nor federal government are yet recognizing an estimated 300 same-sex marriages performed in Michigan before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a ruling Saturday that threw out the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. A spokesperson for Governor Rick Snyder says the state is awaiting a decision from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and expects some guidance from the court on how to proceed with the marriages. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice says the department is closely monitoring the situation. U.S. district Judge Bernard Friedman overturned Michigan’s bans on gay marriage and same-sex adoption Friday, however the ruling was issued after most county clerks offices had closed for the day.
Schuette to Run for Second Term - March 25, 2014
Attorney General Bill Schuette officially launched his bid for a second term yesterday with stops in his hometown of Midland and metro Detroit. Schuette listed a series of achievements in his first term and promised supporters he would continue to be “on duty” for Michigan residents if elected to a second. He also defended his actions in fighting a ruling that Michigan’s 2004 gay marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. Schuette said he took an oath to defend the state Constitution, leaving him no choice but to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman’s decision. He says the sooner that the United States Supreme Court makes a decision on the issue, the better for everyone.
Updated Highway Construction Map - March 25, 2014
Motorists now have access to the updated highway construction map compiled by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The free “Paving the Way” state highway construction map is updated each year to help motorists locate major MDOT road and bridge projects across the state. The 2014 print edition will be available at all MDOT Transportation Service Centers and region offices, as well as at all Welcome Centers. Welcome Centers in the Upper Peninsula are expected have maps available starting in late April. The map also is available for viewing at state rest areas. Information on the map is current at the time of printing. Paving the Way also provides specific maps for construction on state routes in Detroit and Grand Rapids. You can download a PDF of the 2014 map from the “Maps and Publications” section of the MDOT website.
Changes in Sex Offender Registry - March 25, 2014
Michigan State Police say that as a result of a new state law verification schedules will change for all registered sex offenders effective April 1. Verification schedules will now be based on the offender’s birth month and offenders will have the full month to verify their address rather than only the first 15 days of the month. In addition to the change in the verification schedule, sex offenders are now required to pay an annual registration fee of $50 each year after their initial registration. Failure to verify an address and/or failure to pay the registration fee are misdemeanor and could result in charges being field. Registered sex offenders, who are not currently behind bars, will receive written notice of the changes.
Measure Protects Contraceptive Discrimination - March 25, 2014
A state lawmaker is pushing a measure that he says protects users of contraceptives, from discrimination. Specifically, Michigan House Democrat Jim Ananich of Flint is calling for a hearing on his proposal that prevents employers from discriminating against employees who use contraceptives. The bill was introduced some time ago, but has not been put up for committee discussion by the Republican leadership. His push comes as the US Supreme court hears oral arguments in the case Sebelius v- Hobby Lobby Stores. The question in that case is whether for-profit companies have a right to exercise religious freedom even if its in conflict with federal statute. Ananich says his bill is in reaction to a bill considered recently in Arizona that allows employers to question women over whether their contraceptive use was to prevent pregnancy or for some other medical reason.
School Safety Designation - March 25, 2014
Schools across the state have until April 1st to apply for the new MI HEARTsafe Schools designation. In order to qualify a school has to perform at least one cardiac emergency response drill per year; have a written medical emergency response plan and at least ten-percent of a school’s staff must have current CPR/AED certification. Schools also must have accessible, properly maintained and inspected automated external defibrillators (AEDs) with signs identifying their location and ensure pre-participation sports screening of all student athletes using the current physical and history form endorsed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Between 1999 and 2009 in Michigan, there were 3,134 individuals between 1 and 39 years of age who died of sudden cardiac death. Of those, 246 were between 5 and 19 years of age.
Spring Weight Restrictions Modified - March 24, 2014
Spring weight restriction will be temporarily modified to allow normal legal loads on county roads the next two days. The change will be in effect from midnight to 8am tomorrow and Wednesday, which is subject to change based on weather and road conditions. Full implementation of spring weight restrictions will resume after this time period.
Republic Man Found After Search - March 24, 2014
A 79-year-old man from Republic is safe at home after he went missing yesterday morning. State Troopers from the Negaunee Post responded to a missing person report from the residence of Benjamin Suomi around 11am yesterday and were told by his wife that he had left a few hours before in his 1999 Ford Explorer. She also mentioned that he is suffering from the onset of dementia and did not have any identification or his cellphone. As troopers were sending out an area broadcast to local law enforcement agencies, Suomi was located by a passerby at 4:30pm. Suomi was standing outside his car on an unplowed section of the road and his car got stuck and he got a flat tire. He was found to be in good health and was transported back to his home.
More Heating Funding for Those in Need - March 24, 2014
The Michigan Community Action Agency Association announced $11 million in additional funding for low-income households to assist with deliverable fuels. The funding will be distributed to eligible households through 29 Community Action Agencies in Michigan via the Department of Human Services and the Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity. MCAAA Executive Director Kate White says the additional funding is important relief for families that may not have qualified for energy assistance earlier this year and to help with the astronomical heating bills this season. White says $7 million in funding will come from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and $4 million from state funds.
Appeals Court Suspends Gay Marriage Ruling - March 24, 2014
Hundreds of couples flocked to various Michigan county clerk’s offices Saturday to obtain marriage licenses before an appeals court issued a stay temporarily suspending future marriages among gay couples. U.S. district Judge Bernard Friedman overturned Michigan’s ban on gay marriage and same-sex adoption Friday, but the ruling was issued after most county clerks offices had closed for the day. However, hundreds of couples were able to get married before the stay was issued. Governor Rick Snyder’s office says state agencies will not immediately recognize those marriages performed in the hours before the appeals court issued a stay on the ruling that tossed out the same-sex marriage ban. The ruling by Judge Friedman stems from a lawsuit filed by two Detroit-area nurses. Their lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the laws banning gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.
International Bridge Tolls Going Up - March 24, 2014
Tolls will be going up April 1 on the International Bridge, which connects Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The increase, approved unanimously by the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority in November, covers both commercial and passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicle tolls will increase from the current three dollars per trip to $3.50 per trip. And it will increase to four dollars on April 1, 2019. The authority says the increase was prompted by a review of its long-range financial plan detailing the operational and capital improvement project needs of the the 51-year-old bridge for the next 30 years.
GM To Offer Rentals - March 24, 2014
General Motors will be teaming up with several car rental agencies to provide loaner cars during a recall involving vehicles with faulty ignition switches. Approximately one-point-six million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other older GM models are being repaired. The automaker will pay for the rental cars which may be from other manufacturers. Vehicles from Ford Motor Company, Chrysler and Asian automakers could be part of the rental fleet. GM begins replacing the faulty ignition switches on April 7th.
Five DNR Officers Recognized for Rescue Efforts - March 24, 2014
Five Department of Natural Resources employees have been honored for helping to rescue two snowmobilers who had been stranded in the western Upper Peninsula near the Porcupine Mountains State Park in Ontonagon County in late January. Four Porcupine Mountains State Park rangers – Justin Farley, David Merk, Jimmy Newkirk and Emily Pleiness – and William Doan, Parks and Recreation’s western U.P. district supervisor, received DNR Director’s Awards for their efforts. Upon hearing that father and son snowmobilers from Minnesota were stranded, the Parks and Recreation group volunteered to head out on snowshoes to search in sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions. The lost pair had weathered overnight temperatures near 40 degrees below zero. Overcast skies and whiteout conditions made an aerial search impossible. After several hours of off-trail snowshoeing, the searchers made contact with the snowmobilers, who were found safe but suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. They were treated at a local hospital.
Microbrewers Legislation Introduced - March 24, 2014
Legislation has been introduced in Lansing to allow microbrewers to provide sample servings of beer at farmer’s markets in Michigan. The bill is similar to legislation approved last year that deals with wine tasting. State House Democrats Andy Schor of Lansing and Marcia Hovey-Wright of Muskegon say Michigan has the fifth largest craft brewing industry in the country, and allowing beer sampling at farmer’s markets in the state will encourage job and brewing industry growth. The proposal requires market operators to obtain a $25 permit. Specifically, the measure allows customers to have up to three ounces of beer per 24-hour period.
Drunk Driving Enforcement Steps Up - March 24, 2014
The so-called “Big Dance” got under way this weekend and police in Michigan are continuing a special campaign targeting drunk drivers leaving parties and bars after celebrating NCAA basketball victories. Lynn Sutfin, of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, says the federally-funded extra enforcement began just before St. Patrick’s Day involving 144 agencies in 26 counties. She admits that the extra patrols have paid off in the past, since officers last year made 2, 271 arrests for drunk driving during March Madness, 671 were arrested under the state’s high blood-alcohol content law and more than 500 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies.
Changes in Spring Weight Restrictions - March 21, 2014
Spring weight restriction will be temporarily modified to allow normal legal loads on county roads next week. The change will remain in effect from just after midnight on Monday March 24th until 8am on Wednesday March 26th, which is subject to change based on weather and road conditions. Full implementation of spring weight restrictions will resume after this time period.
Schuette Going After Ferrelgas After Hearing Complaints - March 21, 2014
After receiving some 700 complaints alleging unfair pricing and unfair business practices in the propane industry, Attorney General Bill Schuette says he has issued civil subpoenas as part of an investigation. The subpoenas were filed in Saginaw County Circuit Court and the court ordered Ferrellgas – which was the target of many of the complaints – to provide documents and testimony to Schuette’s investigation. Michigan, and the entire nation, struggled with a shortage of propane during the winter. The shortage was due in part to farmers needing more of the gas last autumn to dry corn. Several times Governor Rick Snyder declared an emergency for northern Michigan to help ensure deliveries.
Enrollment for Expanded Medicaid Begins - March 21, 2014
The Michigan Department of Community Health says low-income adults can begin enrolling for health insurance in the state’s Healthy Michigan Plan starting April 1 under Michigan’s expansion of Medicaid. The plan expands eligibility to people between the ages of 19-64, not currently eligible for Medicaid, not eligible for or enrolled in Medicare, and earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which means as many as 477,000 people could enroll. Governor Rick Snyder says this is a significant step in ongoing efforts to ensure the health and well being of all Michiganders. He says a healthier Michigan is an important part of the state’s continued comeback and will help improve health and quality of life, save money for taxpayers and job providers and boost the economy.
Polls Show What Voters Care About - March 21, 2014
This year’s election is likely to be based on two primary issues: roads and K-12 education. That, according to political consultant TJ Bucholz of Lambert-Edwards and Associates. A new poll released by the firm shows that any state spending should be on K-12 education and roads. Bucholz says they offered respondents five different options on how to spend the one billion dollar budget surplus, and roads and K-12 education were far ahead of the other options. And those other options included a tax cut. In fact, when asked, 40 percent of voters say the money should go to roads and bridges and only six percent favor it for tax cuts. In addition, 32 percent want the money for K-12 education compared to seven percent who want to spend it in mental health services and five percent want it spent on higher education.
Bill Approved to Drug Trust Welfare Recepients - March 21, 2014
The Michigan Senate Thursday approved a bill setting up a pilot program that would allow for suspicion-based drug test of welfare recipients. The Republican sponsored bill was approved along party lines, with Democrats opposing. Under the proposal, the program would be set up in three counties, although those counties have not yet been selected. The bill includes a half million dollars in state spending to pay for the drug tests. Tests would be required if a recipient was suspected of taking illegal drugs. If they refuse to be tested, or fail the test, they would lose benefits.
Possible Increase in Phys-Ed Requirements - March 21, 2014
A battle could be brewing in Lansing, over phys-ed classes. Testimony began in a Michigan House Committee Wednesday, on a proposal to toughen phys ed requirements for schools, which affects students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Specifically, the bill requires a minimum amount of time each week dedicated to phys ed. Health experts told lawmakers that the requirement is key to improving the health of young people, and in reducing the number of obese young people. But some school officials are wary. Bob Kefgen of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals says their members oppose the bill, adding that they believe the bill puts financial strain on schools, which could also affect their ability to offer other education related programs.
MI Supports U.S. Budget Balancing - March 21, 2014
The Michigan House yesterday passed a resolution calling for a national constitutional convention, specifically to mandate that the federal government balance it’s budget. The resolution calls for delegates to be chosen to assist 33 other states in drafting an amendment that would require, in the absence of a national emergency, that Congressional spending not exceed the total of all estimated federal revenues for that fiscal year. Governor Rick Snyder endorsed this proposed resolution during his State of the State address. The U-S Constitution says that two-thirds of the states can petition Congress to convene a convention, something that has never happened. So far, 20 states have approved resolutions to do so. If a convention is called, then 38 states are needed to ratify any amendment.
New Metal Theft Bill - March 21, 2014
The Michigan Senate Thursday gave final approval to a measure to help deter metal theft. The bill, which now goes to the governor for his signature, would require that metal recyclers not offer cash for three commonly-stolen items: catalytic converters, copper wire and air conditioning units. Rather, they would have to pay for these items with small on-the-spot debit card transactions. If the total topped $25, metal scrappers would have to mail out checks. The legislation represents a compromise. Last year, similar legislation stalled after the Senate nixed language that would have mandated that scrap yards wait three days to pay sellers. Supporters of the original measure said it would deter criminals and prevent them from realizing a quick fix, but opponents were concerned the measure would have gone too far, saying it would inhibit legitimate businesses.
High Schoolers to Continue College Exams - March 21, 2014
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says all Michigan high school juniors will continue to receive a free college entrance exam when the state transitions to the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Flanagan met with a group of school counselors this week in the state capital who were concerned that the ACT college entrance exam given to all high school juniors as part of the Michigan Merit Exam will be eliminated. But Flanagan says state law requires that students be given a college entrance exam. The state’s contract with ACT to provide the exam, which was signed in 2006, expires in May. Education department officials said the state is in the bidding process and expects to award a new contract for an exam later this year.
Recap of Hancock City Council Meeting - March 20, 2014
Water bills in Hancock will be a little bit more due to an increase approved by the Hancock City Council last night. The council approved a one dollar per 1,000 gallons increase which City Manager Glen Anderson says is due to an increase in the flow at the sewer treatment plants.
The city announced that it will be receiving about $25,000 from the state’s supplemental bill that was signed earlier this week to assist in snow removal. Anderson says the funds come at a very crucial time.
Also announced was the plan for the Lift Bridge rehab project which after the assignment of a contractor should begin around December 2014.
Bowl for Kids This Weekend - March 20, 2014
This weekend, UP Kids Big Brothers Big Sisters is holding their 22nd Annual Bowl for Kids fundraiser on Saturday at the Mine Shaft in Houghton. The purpose of the event is to raise funds for local mentoring programs. Program Director Maggie Munch says it is their biggest event of the year.
Bowling session start times are at noon, 2pm and 4pm. You can register or just make a donation by stopping the UP Kids office, head to their website or drop it off at our station office on Montezuma Avenue.
Support for Part-time Legislation - March 20, 2014
According to a statewide poll, more than half of Michigan voters support a ballot proposal that changes Michigan’s full time-legislature to a part-time body. The survey, from the Lambert, Edwards and Associates public relations firm, shows 53 percent of 600 likely voters support the switch, with only 30 percent opposing the idea. Seventeen percent were undecided. The most support came from independent voters, as 63 percent of the respondents favor a part time legislature. 58 percent of Republicans support it and 44 percent of Democrats do.
Legislative Info Now Available to All - March 20, 2014
Michigan residents will now be able to stay more informed about how legislation changes throughout the committee process. As the state celebrates Sunshine Week, a national initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government, House Speaker Jase Bolger announced yesterday that amendments and bill substitutes adopted by all House committees will now be available on the Michigan legislative website. The recommended amendments or bill substitutes will be available online after the committee reports are officially read in on the House floor. Bolger said this will greatly assist concerned citizens who are monitoring various policy initiatives and also help address a current problem in which people are reading and reacting to out-of-date versions of legislation.
DNR Releases 5-Year Forest Plan - March 20, 2014
The Department of Natural Resources has released its latest five-year plan for managing and protecting Michigan’s forest resources. Keys to the plan are sustainability, both of the forests and the program funding. The plan covers 2014-2018 and calls for updating technology used to lay out timber sales and to find revenues sources, outside of those timber sales, to run the program. The plan also calls for more marketing of the state’s timber resources and improving training and mentoring for Forest Resources Division staff.
New MI Veterans Program - March 20, 2014
Michigan will be one of three states to pilot a new program by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce encouraging businesses to hire veterans. The All Star Vet States program, run through the Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes program, allows states to highlight their efforts to encourage veteran employment. Governor Snyder says the initiative gives the state a chance to highlight the incredible opportunities, services and support Michigan offers to attract and hire transitioning service members and military spouses. As of November 11, the state had commitments to hire 50,000 veterans. A link to the website will be available on the Keweenaw Report webpage.
$1B Penalty for Toyota - March 20, 2014
Toyota will pay more than one billion dollars in a settlement over safety issues, the largest such criminal penalty imposed on an auto company in U.S. History. Attorney General Eric Holder said Toyota intentionally misled consumers about unintended vehicle acceleration in 2009 and 2010. Holder noted that the Japanese automaker also concealed problems from U.S. regulators. He accused Toyota of shamefully treating a serious safety issue as if it were only a public relations problem. Holder said Toyota has agreed to “fully admit wrongdoing.” The settlement allows Toyota to avoid criminal charges for three years, as long as it fully abides by terms of the settlement. Federal prosecutors in New York, said Toyota is essentially “on probation” for three years.
Alleged Robbers Appear in Baraga Circuit Court - March 19, 2014
The two men who allegedly posed as U.S. Marshalls during a robbery in Covington Township last summer appeared in Baraga County Circuit Court yesterday for their pretrials. Bernard Fish’s attorney, David Gemignani, was requesting a motion to dismiss the statements that Fish made to Michigan State Police troopers during his arrival at the Baraga County Jail because he was not read his Miranda rights and the statements were given involuntarily. After listening to testimony from one of the officers who transported Fish from Marquette to Baraga, Judge Charles Goodman deemed that Fish initiated the dialogue between himself and the officers. Citing several previous precedents, he ruled that the reading of his Miranda rights was not required and the statements he made were voluntary, allowing them to be used as a part of the case. Donavan Waupoose’s attorney was present via telephone but wasn’t ready to move forward with the case, so that pretrial was postponed. An April 14th trial date has been set for four days.
Employers Needed for Job Fair - March 19, 2014
For those seeking employees for their business, Finlandia University is holding their first annual Keweenaw Job fair on April 4th at the Jutila Center in Hancock. There is no cost to any business owner to participate in the event that is looking to attract university students and graduates, as well as the community in general. Seasonal employers are welcome too. However, space is limited so employers are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible. Only 30 spots will be available. For more information contact Robert Peters at the Western UP Michigan Works office.
Wolf Hunt Cattle Farmer Sells Animals - March 19, 2014
The Ontonagon County man at the center of this Fall’s Wolf Hunt controversy who is accused of abusing his animals has sold his cattle. According to the Department of Natural Resources, John Koski, 68, sold about 100 animals last month. The DNR said Koski sold his animals because he was running out of hay to feed the animals and it was not a court order. Koski is accused of neglecting two donkeys that were provided by the state to prevent wolves from attacking his cattle. He pleaded not guilty to abandoning cruelty to two or three animals in Ontonagon County District Court in January. A two-day jury trial is scheduled for April.
More Road Funding - March 19, 2014
A new proposal has surfaced in Lansing to generate more revenue for roads in Michigan, and it does not include a general gas tax increase at the pump. In addition to the $215 million approved for roads last week, lawmakers are finalizing a bipartisan package that could see another $300-400 million for road maintenance. Among the ideas to help generate the revenue is boosting the state’s diesel tax, going to a wholesale gas tax, eliminating a 10% discount on car registration fees, and doing something about truck weights.
MI Unemployment Rate - March 19, 2014
Michigan had the nation’s fifth-highest unemployment rate in January, when the rate fell to 7.8 percent compared to 8.3 percent in December. The state’s overall standing did improve from December when it was tied with California for the fourth-highest rate, and its 0.5 percentage point drop was among the largest of all the states. Among the Great Lakes states, Michigan had the second-highest jobless rate after Illinois. Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 9.2 percent, followed by Illinois and Nevada at 8.7 percent each and then California at 8.1 percent.
Bovine TB Found in Lower Peninsula Deer - March 19, 2014
After discovering a free-ranging deer with bovine tuberculosis, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development set two “potential high risk areas” in place in the northeast Lower Peninsula. The two locations were set in Presque Isle County and the northwestern section of Montmorency County. The designation means all cattle and bison herds within a 10-mile radius of where the deer was discovered must be tested for bovine TB within six months. If a herd had been tested within the six months leading up to Monday, then the herd does not need to be tested again. Bovine TB is a bacterial disease that can be fatal for cattle, deer and other animals. Michigan has been testing cattle for bovine TB since 1995.
New Condition Can Be Treated With Marijuana - March 19, 2014
Post-traumatic stress disorder has been added to the list of debilitating conditions that can qualify a patient for participation in Michigan’s medical marijuana program. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced yesterday that it’s decided to accept the recommendation of the Michigan Marihuana Act Review Panel to add PTSD as a qualifying condition for the medical marijuana program. The condition’s addition to the list means residents suffering from the disorder will now be allowed to treat their symptoms with medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it, starting immediately. Legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, Chris Lindsey, says PTSD can lead to severe depression, anxiety, insomnia or other symptoms. He says now those who suffer from PTSD in Michigan can speak freely with their physicians to determine whether marijuana is an appropriate treatment option for them.
Report on Deaths Due to Excessive Drinking - March 19, 2014
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 3,100 deaths in Michigan from 2006-2010 due to excessive drinking. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows Michigan reported over 85,000 years of potential life lost annually from 2006-2010 due to excessive alcohol consumption. Angela Minicuci of the Michigan Department of Community Health says what’s interesting about the report is that, while excessive drinking is commonly associated with college age individuals, the study found 66 percent of deaths due to excessive drinking involved adults between 20 and 64 years of age. Excessive alcohol use is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and in the year 2006 alone, it cost the state of Michigan $8.2 billion.
Pretrial today for Alleged Robbers - March 18, 2014
A pretrial will be held today in Baraga Circuit Court for the two suspects who were allegedly involved in an armed robbery this past summer. Bernard Fish and Donavan Waupoose allegedly robbed two Watton residents at gunpoint while posing as U.S. Marshalls back in August. 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. A motion hearing last month combined both trials which are scheduled to take place on April 14th.
Baraga Man Deemed Competent - March 18, 2014
A Baraga man who took police on a high speed chase in October has been deemed competent, allowing his case to move forward. 21-year-old Daniel Wadaga is facing a number of charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon, malicious destruction of property, OWI, and fleeing in the second degree. A competency exam was ordered this fall, which he has since passed. Wadaga took police on a chase that spanned over 40 miles in Baraga County until police arrested him on U.S. 41 near Bovine. He has a preliminary exam scheduled for April 8th in Baraga County District Court.
Issues With Medicaid - March 18, 2014
Thousands of Michigan residents who have applied for Medicaid since October 1st do not have benefits yet. The delay is being caused by problems with the federal healthcare.gov website. Officials with the Michigan Department of Community Health say they have not been receiving complete applications back from the federal government. Approximately 84-thousand residents who qualify for Medicaid are affected because of the incomplete applications. Those who have applied but have not gotten benefits are urged to apply again on the state’s website.
More Recalls for GM - March 18, 2014
Already facing a Justice Department criminal probe over faulty ignition switches, General Motors announced yesterday the recall of 1.5 million vehicles. The latest round of recalls include newer sport utility vehicles, luxury sedans and full-size vans. The Detroit automaker says approximately 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans built between 2009 and 2014 don’t meet head impact requirements for unrestrained occupants. Nearly 64,000 2013 and 2014 Cadillac XTS sedans have a problem with the brake booster pump that can cause the relay plug to dislodge. GM also says 1.2 million SUVs built between 2008 and 2013 have issues with an airbag warning light. GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan said, so far, there are no reports of injuries or deaths related to these recalls. Vehicle owners will be notified. GM officials say they expect to take a charge of $300 million in the first quarter to fix these recalls and the previous recall on defective ignition switches.
Public Favors Wage Increase - March 18, 2014
According to a new statewide poll, two-thirds of likely Michigan voters support an increase of Michigan’s minimum wage from the current $7.40 cents, to $10.10 per hour. The survey shows 65-percent supporting the initiative, and 32 percent opposing. Three percent are undecided. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. Pollster Dennis Denno says 85 percent of Democratic voters support the increase and 40 percent of Republicans support it.
Snyder Heads to Europe - March 18, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder begins a trade mission in Europe next month, including stops in Italy and Germany, and will focus on auto manufacturing investments. A spokesperson for the governor says the goal is to attract job-creating business investments in Michigan, and strengthen existing relationships. Two years ago the governor made a similar trip to Europe.
Those joining him on this year’s trip will be officials from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Right Place of Grand Rapids, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Latest Polls on Governor’s Race - March 18, 2014
A new statewide poll of Michigan voters shows growing negativity toward Governor Rick Snyder, and expected Democratic challenger Mark Schauer continues to struggle with name I-D. The poll from a Lansing public relations firm also shows a narrowing gap between the two, with Snyder still in front. 42% of 600 likely voters polled statewide earlier this month said they’d choose Snyder over the former Democratic congressman if the election were held today, while 39 percent picked Schauer and 19 percent were undecided. In a November 2013 poll, the results were 45 percent Snyder, 31 percent Schauer, with a quarter undecided. Schauer still struggles with name I-D however, although he’s making a bit of headway following a series of TV ads. 68% of voters said they didn’t know enough about him to say if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, down from 80% in November. 43% of those polled had a favorable opinion of the governor, while 42 percent had an unfavorable one and 16 percent were undecided.
Help for U.P. Organ Transplants - March 17, 2014
A new fund has been set up to help Upper Peninsula residents pay for the expenses associated with organ transplants. The Super Health Foundation has set up the fund along with the group that puts on the U.P. Run For Life every year. This year’s run will be on June 8th in Marquette. Much of the work to set up this fund has been done by Marquette resident Amy Harju, who received a kidney transplant nearly a decade ago. Transplant patients can apply for up to one thousand dollars to help with medical costs, prescriptions, and travel expenses.
MI Special Needs Fund Receives Grant - March 17, 2014
The Michigan Children with Special Needs Fund received a $50,000 grant from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation. The Department of Community Health says the money will be used to help Michigan families that have children with special health care needs purchase indoor home ceiling and stair lifts. The agency says the home improvements also minimize health issues parents and caregivers experience as a result of frequent lifts and transfers of children. The CSN Fund is housed in Children’s Special Health Care Services, a program that helps families address the medical care and treatment needs for certain eligible medical conditions for children that have special health care needs. The CSN Fund was created in 1944 to help children with special needs when other sources of funding are not available.
Insurance Help for Firefighters and First Responders - March 17, 2014
The U.S. House unanimously passed the “Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act,” to ensure that emergency services volunteers are not counted as full-time employees under the Employer Mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller, who cosponsored the bill, says this move shields fire departments from new health care costs, which would cause many to close their doors. The St. Clair Shores Republican says many of these departments are already stretching their limited resources for equipment, training and recruitment and they just can’t afford to comply with the mandate. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Training for High School Counselors - March 17, 2014
Michigan high school counselors could use better training in preparing students for their postsecondary planning. That, according to the head of the Michigan College Access Network. Executive Director Brandy Johnson, says too many high school counselors have never received formal training in college advising and postsecondary planning. She also says until recently, graduate programs that were producing counselors, were not offering the proper courses.
Johnson does say improvements are on the way. Two examples are Western Michigan University and Wayne State University, which will begin requiring such classes in the coming year.
Bring Your Own Wine - March 17, 2014
BYOW stands for bring your own wine, and now that is legal to do in certain restaurants in Michigan. The new law is allowing restaurant guests to stop at the store or just bring a bottle from home to the restaurant. Most restaurants will charge a corking fee to offset rent and other expenses. While some restaurant owners aren’t opposed to the new law, others are adamantly against the law stating liability concerns.
Reform Coming for Perpetrator Registry - March 17, 2014
Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation reforming the Michigan Central Perpetrator Registry and the policies and procedures concerning its operation. The Michigan Child Protection Law requires the state Department of Human Services to maintain the confidential internal registry of confirmed child abuse and neglect perpetrators. Under the legislation the state must now notify a person being placed on the list by certified mail with return receipt, and the person will now have 180 days to request a hearing. Additionally, except for very serious offenders, names would be removed from the list after 10 years. The law previously required all names on the registry to remain until a registrant’s death. When there is evidence that an individual has abused or neglected a child and the future risk to the child is high, that individual’s name is placed on the registry.
Sunshine Week - March 17, 2014
This is sunshine week in the US. It’s to promote a higher profile about the importance of open government and freedom of information. And in Michigan, some say local governments have become less open, and bills putting new Freedom of Information Act requirements on them, are before state lawmakers. However, they’ve seen little action. Kathy Barks Hoffman of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government says the bills are needed, because among other things, some local governments are charging excessive amounts for copies of public records. She also says local governments too often drag their feet in coming through with requested information.
Firm Looks to Make Roads Safer - March 17, 2014
A Lansing firm will work to make Midwest roadways safer through a new communications partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Pace Marketing & Communications, an advertising, marketing and public relations agency, has been awarded a new contract to help NHTSA promote its traffic safety programs in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Pace will develop communications strategies to support NHTSA seat belt and anti-impaired driving campaigns. The agency will also work on other high-priority initiatives, which may include distracted driving, speeding, motorcycle and other traffic safety concerns. NHTSA Regional Region 5 Administrator Michael Witter said Pace has an impressive track record of developing campaigns targeted at helping influence behavior change to make our roadways safer.
Two Men Break Into Gratiot Mine Shaft - March 14, 2014
Two men were arrested after trespassing in an abandoned mine shaft in Keweenaw County early Wednesday morning. Officers from the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office say 21-year-old Dylan Stubenrauch of Calumet and 21-year-old Fredrick Adam Bryce of Allouez cut through a metal cover to gain entry to the Gratiot Mine shaft north of Mohawk shortly before 7:30 a.m. They were attempting to remove a large piece of copper from the mine when officers arrived on the scene. Both men are charged with trespassing and will be arraigned on March 20th. They were taken to the Keweenaw County Jail, but have since been released on $1,000 bond. The Keweenaw County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case and could levy additional charges. The Sheriff’s Office says the incident remains under investigation.
Petitions Filed Against Wolf Hunt - March 14, 2014
Opponents of Michigan’s wolf hunt filed petitions with state elections officials in Lansing yesterday to put the most recent law allowing wolf hunting on the November ballot. If the petitions are found sufficient, they would suspend the current law that allowed the Natural Resources Commission to designate wolves as a game animal and set the first hunt this fall. Hunters took 23 wolves during the hunt. Jill Fritz, director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected says they are close to their goal of 225,000 valid signatures. She says she’s confident the public will understand the facts behind ending the hunt.
Meanwhile, hunt supporters are gathering signatures on a petition initiative that reinforce the NRC’s ability to designate game species and issue fisheries orders. The group has until May 20 to submit more than 250,000 valid signatures.
Decriminalization of Marijuana Gaining Support - March 14, 2014
It’s being called by some a “pot law tsunami.” Efforts are underway in up to a dozen more communities to decriminalize recreational marijuana use. A coalition of groups pushing to relax marijuana ordinances says you just might see the question on your local ballot this November. Last November, voters in Lansing, Ferndale, and Jackson approved initiatives to remove local penalties for adults’ possession of small amounts of marijuana in a private residence. In 2012, four other cities approved similar measures — Grand Rapids, Detroit, Flint, and Ypsilanti. In the meantime, a proposal to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana statewide and remove all criminal penalties, remains before state lawmakers.
Firearm Records Bill Approved - March 14, 2014
The Michigan House has approved a package of bills that exempt firearm records from the Freedom of Information Act. 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. The bills now go to the Michigan Senate for consideration.
Drunk-Driving Enforcement Steps Up - March 14, 2014
The watchful eyes of law enforcement are out in force on Michigan roads through April 7th, to keep drunk drivers off the roads during Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, and high school and college spring break periods. Traditionally, the concern targeted only St. Patrick’s Day revelers, but Lynn Sutfin of the Michigan Office Of Highway Safety Planning, says the extra patrols from 144 agencies in 26 counties, will also target March Madness and spring break, and those who fail to buckle up. Sutfin says a five-year review of crash data indicates both alcohol use and lack of seat belts play a significant role in fatal and serious injury crashes in March and early April, and they encourage motorists to designate a sober driver or find a way home before consuming any alcohol. Last year, officers made 2, 271 arrests for drunk driving during March Madness, 671 were arrested under the state’s high blood-alcohol content law with levels of .17 or higher, and more than 500 of those arrests were made by grant-funded law enforcement agencies.
State Potholes Becoming Major Issue - March 14, 2014
Record snow and cold may be departing, but they’re leaving in their wake one of Michigan’s worst pothole seasons ever. The Michigan Department of Transportation is suggesting some ways that motorists can avoid hitting potholes, and to minimize damage if they can’t miss them. Officials say by driving extra cautiously and not tailgating, drivers have more time to see and react to any potholes they’re approaching. Properly inflated tires in good condition handle potholes better than worn, over-inflated or under-inflated tires. M-DOT says reporting potholes on state trunklines to the agecny’s Report a Pothole webpage or the Pothole Hotline will help get them fixed more quickly. However, State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle says potholes form so quickly that crews can’t get all of them right away, and they’re showing up nearly everywhere on state and local roads.
Recap of Houghton City Council Meeting - March 13, 2014
Last night at the Houghton City Council meeting, a public hearing was held for the city’s application for a DNR Trust Fund Grant for the Central Houghton Green Space Area, which is located on 7th Avenue near Franklin Road. After a few comments from the community members including the president of the Copper Country Audubon, which along with the Keweenaw Land Trust will provide $21,000 of the funds, the resolution was approved by the council. City Manager Eric Waara says the city became involved in the acquisition of the area due to its unique nature.
Also approved are the facade bids for improvements to Downtown Houghton which include the Hall, Hartman and Daavetilla buildings.
Supplemental Bill Approved - March 13, 2014
The proposal to add more than 300 million dollars to state spending this year was approved by both the Michigan House and Michigan Senate Wednesday afternoon. Among other things, the measure spends 215 million dollars for road funding. Under the proposal, 100 million will go to special winter road maintenance, and 115 million will go to priority road projects. Money leftover from the priority project fund could be distributed to local governments.
Liquor License Expansion - March 13, 2014
Legislation that would streamline the state’s liquor licensing process and allow microbreweries to expand is headed to Governor Rick Snyder. The state House and Senate yesterday approved amendments to Michigan’s liquor laws. The legislation would allow microbreweries in the state to produce up to 60,000 barrels a year. That’s double the current limit of 30,000. The bills also create a conditional license for applicants during the liquor license review process. The conditional license would cost $300.
Brewers and liquor associations support the changes saying it will help the industry’s economic growth and create jobs.
Consumers Frustrated with Scalping Bill - March 13, 2014
As Michigan lawmakers continue to debate a proposal to repeal the state’s ban on ticket scalping, a new poll shows public support for changes to the state’s 1931 ticket resale law. Currently, Michigan law prohibits the “average” person from reselling event tickets for more than face value without the written consent of the venue. But a new Zogby opinion poll from Michigan Ticket Fairness shows more than three fourths of respondents said it’s unfair that fans are forced to use only venue or team-approved resale websites to sell their tickets instead of being able to engage in a direct transaction. The Michigan House passed legislation, last month, that would give fans the right to buy and sell tickets above face value without needing to use venue or team-approved resellers. The legislation is now in the Senate.
Changes Coming for MI Teacher Evaluations - March 13, 2014
Michigan lawmakers will soon have to adopt changes to the state’s teacher evaluation system or risk losing the state’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements, according to U.S. Department of Education officials. Under the waiver, the state is required to have a statewide teacher evaluation system in place for the 2014-2015 school year. However, state lawmakers are yet to adopt teacher evaluation recommendations made last year by the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness, and the state Senate is even considering a bill that would push a statewide system back to the 2015-2016 school year. But House Democrat Adam Zemke of Ann Arbor, co-sponsor of legislation that would meet federal waiver guidelines, says the danger of losing the waiver should be a “wake-up call” to lawmakers.
Report on Charities - March 13, 2014
A new report found that charities received only thirty-eight cents for every dollar raised by professional fundraisers licensed in Michigan, up three percent from last year. Michigan’s second annual Professional Fundraising Charitable Solicitation Report includes the results of fundraising campaigns reported to the Attorney General during the 2013 calendar year. According to data in the report, on average, professional fundraisers pocket 62% of funds raised. Under Michigan law, a professional fundraiser is defined as a person or organization that solicits contributions on behalf of a charity in exchange for compensation.
Electronics Recycling in MI Hits 30M - March 13, 2014
Michiganders recycled more than 30 million pounds of unwanted electronics in 2013, exceeding the Department of Environmental Quality’s goal of three pounds per person. The Michigan Electronics Takeback Program, implemented in 2009, provides opportunities for consumers and small businesses to recycle their unwanted TVs, desktop and laptop computers, tablets, computer monitors and printers at no cost. This allows the valuable commodities electronics contain – such as copper, silver and gold – to be reused.
Meeting Electricity Needs in MI - March 13, 2014
Nearly a third of Michigan’s electricity needs could be met by tripling the amount of power from in-state renewable sources by 2030, at nearly no cost to consumers, according to a new report. The Union of Concerned Scientists released the report yesterday that found if the state were to ramp up renewables at the same growth rate as the current renewable energy standard of 1.5 percent per year, Michigan could boost its in-state renewable energy production to 32.5 percent in 2030. The report says increasing renewables at that rate would cost consumers just 0.3 percent more over the next 15 years, rather than letting the current standard expire.
Rebate Coming from GM - March 13, 2014
The owners of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches will be offered a rebate. GM says a $500 rebate will be available for the purchase or lease of any 2013 through 2015 vehicle. The automaker says it will not purchase the vehicles involved as a remedy to the problem. The faulty ignition switch covers around one-point-six-million GM models. The problem has reportedly led to 31 accidents and 12 deaths. Meantime, a report released yesterday by auto analysts at JP Morgan finds the cost of a replacement part for the faulty ignition switches may be as little as two-dollars per part. GM supplier Delphi Corporation may incur some of the costs for the new part.
Board of Commissioners Meeting Recap - March 12, 2014
Much was discussed last night at the Houghton County Board of Commissioners meeting. An update was given on the repair and maintenance of the courthouse and Commissioner Tim Palossari was assigned to look at the courthouse and figure out what needs to be done. Multiple bids were received in regards to the old DHS building in downtown Hancock and Commissioner Tom Tikkanen, who is a commerical appraiser, will be the one to negotiate a starting listing price for the building. Board Chairman Scott Ala says although they want to get the most money they can for the tax payers, the building could be great for a new business in downtown Hancock.
Ala has also received approval to look into the county’s finances and attempt to reorganize them. Ala will assemble a team of experts who will help set up a plan, which he says could help the struggling retirement account.
It was also announced that the last day to file for open county positions is on April 22nd at 4pm and the open positions include the county clerk and all county commissioner seats and so far, nobody has filed.
Students Teach About Tech - March 12, 2014
From Ipads to Skype, Copper Country residents had the opportunity last night to learn about the newest forms of technology as a part of Digital Learning Day at Jeffers High School. Members of the Business and Technology Club taught informational classes for those interested in programs like Microsoft Excel. Wynter Lindgren says the popularity of the event has been overwhelming.
A session on Facebook was also offered due to its booming use in today’s society as well as it being requested by many members of the community.
Road Funding on the Way? - March 12, 2014
State lawmakers continue to work on a compromise supplemental budget bill in Lansing, which could include spending about 200 million dollars more this year for roads. The proposal follows concerns raised by local road commissions who are facing winter budget woes due to recent harsh weather. The plan is to send $100 million to the communities in the near future. The other $100 million will go toward still-unidentified projects down the road. A longterm solution for repairing Michigan’s busted roads is still in the works. However, it’s not yet a done deal as legislative leaders and Governor Snyder continue to iron out some issues.
Landline Phone Service Could Be Cut Off - March 12, 2014
Legislation that could make it easier for telephone companies to end landline service has been approved by the Michigan House of Representatives. The bill removes the role of the Michigan Public Service Commission in any effort by a phone company in abandoning a local exchange. Instead, the bill leaves the regulatory role up to the Federal Communications Commission. Democratic Representative Scott Dianda, who voted against the bill, says the bill does not take into account the safety of rural residents who cannot rely on cell phone reception. The Senate-approved proposal does include language that requires some sort of voice lines to be available, as well as 911-service, before a local exchange is discontinued by a phone company. The measure, which would go into effect in 2017, now goes back to the Michigan Senate for concurrence on amendments.
Insurances Offering Abortion Coverage - March 12, 2014
Seven health insurance companies in Michigan will be offering abortion coverage riders when a new law takes effect on Thursday. State lawmakers in December passed a law prompted by a Right to Life petition drive and not subject to a veto from Governor Snyder to outlaw insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as a standard feature. According to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Regulation, the riders will cost employers providing coverage for their workers anywhere from one to 32-cents a month. Individual policies sold through the Affordable Care Act website will not have the option for a rider.
Pure Michigan Brings in Revenue - March 12, 2014
A new report on Michigan’s 2013 tourism industry from the Toronto-based tourism research firm Longwoods International says the state’s Pure Michigan campaign drove more than 4 million trips last year, producing $1.2 billion in economic impact. State officials said $13 million was spent on out-of-state advertising for the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. Visitor spending influenced by the campaign generated $86.5 million in tax revenue. In 2013, Pure Michigan attracted 2.4 million visitors from the Great Lakes region and 1.6 million visitors from more distant markets nationwide. That is up from the 3.8 million out-of-state trips the campaign brought in 2012 – 2.3 million from the Great Lakes region and 1.5 million from distant markets.
Record Ice Cover on Great Lakes - March 12, 2014
Thanks to a record-shattering late February and early March Arctic blast, ice cover on the Great Lakes is now the most widespread in 35 years, and nearing an all-time record. According to an analysis by NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, ice cover peaked at 92.2 percent of the Great Lakes on March 6. In records dating to 1973, only February 1979 had a greater ice coverage at 94.7%. Officials say this is an abrupt turn around from the past four winters, during which the peak ice coverage was around 40 percent or less. The 40-year average peak ice coverage each winter is about 51 percent. About 94 percent of Lake Superior, just under 96 percent of Lake Huron, 96 percent of Lake Erie, and almost 92 percent of Lake Michigan was ice-covered on March 6.
GM Recall Probe - March 12, 2014
A U.S. House committee is launching a probe of an expanded General Motors recall. Lawmakers in Washington want to know if GM officials and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to detect an ignition switch problem that caused at least 13 deaths over several years. A key issue is that documents submitted to the NHTSA show some GM engineers knew about the problem ten years ago but didn’t treat it as a serious safety concern. GM only issued its recall last month for Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s. The recall now covers six GM models and nearly one-point-four million vehicles.
WUPPDR Drafts Economic Plan for Baraga County - March 11, 2013
A draft for an economic strategic plan for Baraga County has been completed. The Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region has been researching the area for about a year and feel that the three strategies they have created take into account the county’s competitive advantages, natural resources and recent economic development. Jerry Wuorenmaa, a planner at WUPPDR, says that one of the strategies involves expanding the services available at Baraga Memorial Hospital.
The second strategy deals with extending infrastructure to the Lambert Road Industrial Park and the third is to increase local food production and develop a regional distribution point for local produce. A presentation will take place Monday March 24th during the L’Anse Village Council meeting. To view the draft of the plan, a link will be available at the Keweenaw Report webpage.
MDOT Heads to YouTube to “Myth-bust” - March 11, 2013
The Michigan Department of Transportation is taking to social media to “myth-bust” misconceptions about the department and the condition of state roads. New “Reality Check” videos are being posted on You Tube. One of the videos responds to claims that Michigan’s roads are not in bad of shape and more money for roadwork can wait. M-DOT says funding is needed badly for the state’s roads and bridges because they are deteriorating. A second video dismisses claims the state does not use enough salt in the winter to keep roads clear. State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle says getting these myths and rumors cleared up is an important step to having a logical and open discussion about the real problems facing Michigan’s transportation infrastructure.
MI Tourism on the Rise - March 11, 2013
Researchers at Michigan State University say tourism spending in Michigan was strong in 2013 and is poised for another robust year in 2014. Dan McCole and Sarah Nicholls, of MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability presented their annual report at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference in Traverse City. The MSU researchers say factors fueling the upswing include an improving economy, several national tourism trends and the success of the state’s Pure Michigan advertising campaign both nationally and internationally. McCole predicts tourism spending, as measured by hotel and motel tax receipts, will increase 4.5 percent in 2014 after experiencing a 4 percent bump in 2013 and 6 percent increase in 2012. Hotel occupancy increased nearly 2 percent last year and car traffic on the state’s international bridges and tunnels was also up.
Underage Piercing - March 11, 2013
Those under the age of 16 in Michigan would be prohibited from getting a tattoo or piercing without signed parental consent, under a measure before a State Senate committee. The proposed restriction also includes “branding,” however ear piercing would be exempt, under the proposal now before the Senate Health Policy Committee. State Senate Democrat Glen Anderson of Westland acknowledges that most tattoo parlors have long had a standard of not serving individuals under the age of 16 without parental consent, however he says since there’s no law against it, “bad actors” could not be stopped. Also under the bill, tattoo and piercing parlors would be required to keep the signature of consent on file for one year.
Organization Hit With Huge Fine - March 11, 2013
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been slapped with a near $200,000 fine for alleged campaign finance violations from a failed 2012 ballot initiative. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says it is the second largest such fine in state history. Johnson’s office investigated a complaint filed by political advocacy group Michigan Freedom Fund that alleged Home Care and Home Care First, the two entities that backed the home health care ballot initiative in 2012, intentionally delayed required filings with the state to conceal that SEIU had made substantial contributions to support the proposal. Johnson says Michigan law requires all organizations to complete campaign finance reports when spending directly in support of a ballot question. And, she says, these organizations cannot be used as a means to conceal the identity of the true contributors.
Great Bear Chase Draws Large Crowd - March 10, 2014
The trails were in great condition for the Great Bear Chase this past weekend. The race brought together professional and casual skiers from all across the country. Kathleen Morse, one of the participants in the race, has been skiing for more than 30 years and she loves this race especially.
Over 500 people attended the event at the Swedetown Trails in Calumet, which was sponsored by Portage Health. For a full list of results and finish times, click here.
Meth Bust in Gogebic County - March 10, 2014
Two Gogebic County residents are facing a number of charges after $75,000 worth of meth was found in their residence. 37 year old Richard Hill and 37 year old Rebecca Suzik, both of Ironwood, are charged with two felony counts: delivery/manufacture of meth and possession of meth. They could spend up 30 years in prison on those charges. Officials from the Gogebic Iron Area Narcotics Team arrested the pair Thursday after an investigation led to a search warrant at 223 Kennedy Street. They seized meth and other controlled substances, cash, vehicles, and other personal property. Hill and Suzik are lodged in the Gogebic County Jail. Hill’s bond is set at $75,000; Suzik’s is $50,000. Officials say the incident is still under investigation, and additional charges or arrests are possible.
William Clay Ford Sr. Passes Away - March 10, 2014
The last surviving grandson of Henry Ford is dead. Detroit Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford died Sunday at the age of 88 due to pneumonia. He had been the sole owner since buying the team in 1963 for 4.5 million dollars. Under his ownership, the team built two stadiums, hosted the 2006 Super Bowl and constructed a 36-million-dollar training center in Allen Park. There will be a private service, and contributions can be sent to the Henry Ford Museum.
Space Heater Recall - March 10, 2014
If you’re using a space heater to keep warm – you’ll want to pay close attention to this recall. About 31,000 Duraflame Electric Space Heaters, made by Twin-Star, are being recalled because of burn hazards. The heaters’ flame effect resembles a fireplace and works with or without heat. The company says the heaters overheat and cause the units to melt, catch fire and ignite nearby items, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers. The recall involves model DFS-220, sold in three colors: black, red and white. The heaters measure about 14.5-inches high, 13-inches wide and 8-inches deep. The model number can be found on a white label located on the heater’s back panel. The heaters were sold at retailers nationwide between August 2013 and January 2014 for about $60.
Changing Smoke Alarms - March 10, 2014
The State Fire Marshal is urging you to make it a priority to ensure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Rich Miller says the risk of dying from a fire in a home without working smoke alarms is twice as high as in a home that has working smoke alarms. Miller says many homes still have only one smoke alarm and that’s simply enough. He says there should be working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and in the basement. Miller recommends buying newer models of smoke alarms with lithium batteries that will last the life of the unit. Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested. Test all smoke alarms at least once a month by using the test button and replace batteries once a year.
Casino Scam Artist Sentenced - March 10, 2014
An Oklahoma man has been sentenced up to 3 years in prison in Marquette federal court for masterminding a scheme that bilked the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie out of nearly $310,000 over the course of the two-year period. 63-year old Joe Koster and five others all plead guilty last October to conspiracy to commit theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands. An investigation by Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Police and the FBI revealed that Koster would use a light wand to trick poker machines at the casino into payouts while the others would act as lookouts for him and carry the stolen money to the cash cage to convert from quarters to paper currency. Since Koster was considered the leader of the conspiracy he got the longest sentence. The other five received various punishments from one to 18 months behind bars.
Future of Home Building - March 10, 2014
The Home Builders Association of Michigan is confident in its prediction of another good year for residential home construction. There was a 28% year-to-year increase for single-family home permits in the state for 2013. And it’s predicted that there will be a 20% jump this year when all is said and done. The industry estimates that 60,000 people left the construction field during the last recession and it is pushing for legislation that will help students who are on the skilled-trades track, to graduate.
3-D Fingerprints - March 10, 2014
Computer scientists at Michigan State University have built the first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint. They say not only will it help today’s fingerprint-matching technology do its job better, but could eventually lead to improvements in security. The method, developed by Anil Jain, his MSU colleagues and research collaborator Nick Paulter at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, takes a two-dimensional image of a fingerprint and maps it to a 3-D finger surface. The 3-D finger surface, complete with all the ridges and valleys that make up the human fingerprint, is then made using a 3-D printer. They say that tools like this would help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which eventually leads to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlock.
School Districts in Violation - March 10, 2014
As many as 60 percent of public school districts in Michigan could be in violation of a state law passed in 2011 that made decisions about teacher placement and evaluation prohibited subjects of bargaining. That’s according to a new Mackinac Center for Public Policy study. The Center surveyed 130 school district collective bargaining agreements that were signed after the 2011 law took effect. Approximately 60 percent of those contracts contained prohibited language. Audrey Spalding, director of education policy for the Mackinac Center and author of the study, says in many cases they found that districts did not wholly remove the prohibited language from their contracts or they agreed to immediately reinstate the language if the state laws were overturned. At issue is part of the reform law which prohibits districts from negotiating over teacher placement, evaluation, recall and other policies. The 2011 law allowed districts to remove ineffective teachers more easily; forbid districts from using seniority to determine layoffs and recalls; and required districts to establish teacher evaluation practices that incorporate student growth.
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.
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.