Sunday, July 23, 2017

MDEQ to hold public informational meeting, hearing on L'Anse Warden plant permits July 26; comment deadline is July 26

During the Sept. 28, 2016, MDEQ public hearing on the L'Anse Warden Electric Company's proposed Consent Order and proposed Permit to Install (PTI), Linda Rulison (standing at right), Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) president, presents comments to MDEQ officials. The hearing was held in L'Anse High School. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is holding a public comment period until July 26, 2017, and a public hearing on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, for L'Anse Warden Electric Company's (LWEC) proposed temporary combustion of engineered fuel pellets in their existing boiler.

Purpose of public comment period and hearing

The temporary combustion period will be for a maximum of 180 days. The "biomass" facility is located at 157 South Main Street, L'Anse, Michigan. The public comment period and hearing are to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the MDEQ's proposed conditional approval of a Permit to Install (PTI). According to MDEQ, it has been preliminarily determined that the temporary combustion of engineered fuel pellets in the boiler will not violate any of the MDEQ's rules nor the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The L'Anse Warden Electric Company (LWEC) "biomass" plant in L'Anse, Michigan, has been the subject of citizen complaints about pollution, especially non-compliance with air quality standards. At right is the Falls River, which flows into Lake Superior. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Horst Schmidt)

The fuel pellets are made of non-recyclable paper, label, and packaging waste. LWEC wants to replace a portion of the current fuel mix that is typically combusted in the boiler with the fuel pellets. To continue to comply with their existing emission limits, and to reduce emissions of acid gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen chloride (HCl), LWEC is proposing to install an additional type of pollution control, called sorbent injection. The sorbent injection system will directly inject a material into the boiler's exhaust stream prior to the particulate control device. The material will neutralize a portion of the acid gas emissions.*

The MDEQ is also holding a simultaneous public comment period for a proposed draft Renewable Operating Permit (ROP) renewal application, No. MI-ROP-B4260-20XX, for L'Anse Warden Electric Company. Information concerning the ROP renewal comment period is available here. 

An informational session and public hearing will be held on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, at the L'Anse High School, 201 North 4th Street, L'Anse, Michigan. The informational session will begin at 6 p.m., at which time the AQD staff will be available to answer questions. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. This information session and public hearing will address both the PTI application and the ROP renewal application. The sole purpose of the public hearing will be to take formal testimony on the record.

Following the Sept. 7, 2016, MDEQ informational meeting on the L'Anse Warden plant, FOLK members Doug Welker, left, and Catherine Andrews chat with DEQ Toxicologist Michael Depa, right, and DEQ Permitting Engineer John Vial, both from the Air Quality Division Lansing office. The purpose of last year's meeting, held at L'Anse High School, was to take questions from the public related to the Administrative Consent Order based on the company's permit violations of Hydrogen Chloride (HCL) emission limits and fugitive dust in the community. Click here for Keweenaw Now's video report on that meeting. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Individuals needing accommodations for effective participation at the hearing should contact Ms. Lisa Shooltz at 517-284-6793 one week in advance to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance.

MDEQ Fact Sheets, Permit Conditions

Copies of the MDEQ's fact sheet(s) and proposed permit conditions are available for review at the following locations, or you may request a copy be mailed to you by calling 517-284-6793. Please reference PTI Application Number 53-17:
MARQUETTE: MDEQ, AQD, 1504 West Washington Street, (Phone: 906-250-5124)
LANSING: MDEQ, AQD, Constitution Hall, 525West Allegan Street, (Phone: 517-284-6793)
VILLAGE OF L'ANSE: Village Hall, 101 North Main Street (Phone: 906-524-6116)

The public is encouraged to present written views on the proposed permit action. Written comments should be sent to Ms. Annette Switzer, Permit Section Manager, MDEQ, AQD, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7760. Comments may also be submitted from the webpage (click on "Submit Comment" under the L'Anse Warden Electric Company, Permit to Install No. 53-17 listing). All statements received by July 26, 2017, will be considered by the decision-maker prior to final permit action.

After careful review  of  any  relevant  comments  made  during  the public comment period and hearing, the MDEQ's Air Quality Division (AQD) may make the appropriate changes to the draft ROP and submit it to the EPA to begin their 45-day review of the permit.

The  AQD  will  review  all  comments  received during  the  public  comment  period  and  public  hearing and  will  decide  whether  to  approve  or  deny  the proposed PTI and draft ROP. If approved, the AQD may decide to add or change permit conditions based on the comments.*

* Click here for MDEQ Air Quality Division's current Proposed Project Summary for the L'Anse Warden Plant.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Celebrate Lake Superior Day July 23 in Copper Harbor

Canoe races are a favorite activity during Lake Superior Day celebrations in Copper Harbor. Here on the boardwalk visitors cheer for the winners of a canoe race. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

COPPER HARBOR -- Celebrate the beauty and bounty of Lake Superior on Sunday, July 23, in Copper Harbor. Community volunteers, along with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, are organizing the 5th annual Lake Superior Day Festival with lots of special activities at the 6th Street Dock along the Copper Harbor Boardwalk (near Isle Royale Queen boat dock):
  •  Enjoy fish stew (Kalamojakka), homemade pies, rieska (Finnish flatbread), and more at a community picnic ($5 donation suggested).
  • Canoe races and kayak demonstrations
  • Interactive art (paint the model freighter!)
  • Learn about the health of Lake Superior from a presentation by Great Lakes scientist Dr. Marty Auer from Michigan Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
  • Live music, talks, poetry, and more. 
During a previous Lake Superior Day celebration in Copper Harbor, Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz takes visitors around the harbor to learn how scientists use the boat to study Lake Superior and nearby waterways. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

From 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. festival attendees will have the opportunity to find out how scientists study the Great Lakes by taking a 40-minute scientific excursion in the harbor aboard Michigan Tech’s Research Vessel Agassiz. These excursions are offered as part of the Ride the Waves Program funded by a grant from General Motors. On each scientific excursion, Dr. Marty Auer, a Michigan Tech Great Lakes scientist, will demonstrate the use of sampling equipment to collect data on water clarity, temperature, and turbidity that tells us about the health of the lake. Participants will explore the link between land uses and the health of the Great Lakes.

The Agassiz will depart every 45 minutes from the Isle Royale Queen dock beginning at 1 p.m. Space is limited to 17 persons per excursion. Participants must be at least 7 years old, and children must be accompanied by an adult. All participants should wear closed-toe shoes. Interested participants may pre-register for a scientific excursion aboard the Agassiz by filling in the form here. or email Lloyd Wescoat Space will be available for on-site participants.

For more information about the event, contact lead organizer, Don Kilpela, Captain of the Isle Royale Queen, at (906)289-4735.

Lake Superior Day is celebrated throughout the Lake Superior basin on or close to the 3rd Sunday in July in many communities around Lake Superior. The event, begun in the 1990s, highlights the special connections people have to this unique world treasure. All residents who live, work, play, and worship around the lake are invited to organize events in their communities or take action in their homes, at their places of employment or in community groups to help protect Lake Superior.

Click here to learn more about Lake Superior Day events around the lake.

See also information on Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes from the  Michigan Department of Environmental Quality here or visit the EPA Web site.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Public comment period for Eagle East mining permit amendment extended to July 20

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division (OGMD) has extended the closing date of the public comment period for the Eagle East Mining Permit Amendment request to 5 p.m. July 20, 2017. Mail your comments to: DEQ Eagle East Permit Amendment, OGMD, 1504 W. Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855; or E-mail comments to:, with "Eagle East Permit Amendment" as the subject.

The Mining Action Group (formerly Save the Wild U.P. and now part of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, or UPEC) says Lundin Mining’s requested amendment of the Eagle Mine permit would require building more than 8 kilometers of new tunnels to reach a totally different orebody, "Eagle East."

"Eagle East is a new orebody located beyond the previously permitted project boundary for the Eagle Mine," the Mining Action Group states on their Web site. This major expansion could have serious environmental impacts that were never considered under the original permit. More mining will mean more tailings, more dewatering, and increased risk of contamination."

DEQ officials have stated they are reviewing the application amendment just as they would an application for a new permit. They held a public hearing on Eagle East on June 8, 2017. The original deadline for comments was July 6, 2017. It has been extended to Wednesday, July 20.

Click here to read the application amendment.

Click here to read the Mining Action Group's questions concerning Eagle East.

See also: "Questions on Eagle East: DEQ to hold public meeting June 8."

More details coming soon.

MDEQ to hold public hearing on anchor supports for Line 5 pipelines July 25

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is currently accepting comments on a permit application from Enbridge Energy, Inc., to install up to 22 anchor support structures into the Lake Michigan lake bed for the Line 5 pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac between Emmet and Mackinac counties.

The MDEQ will hold a public hearing on the permit application from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at Little Bear East Arena and Community Center (275 Marquette Street, St. Ignace, MI 49781). The public will have the opportunity to provide comment on the record about the permit application submitted under authority of Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended.

Comments are also being accepted on the MDEQ MiWaters website at Enter 2RD-DFDK-Y35G into the Application Number box and select Search. Then select View and the Add Comment tab.  Written comments may also be delivered to the hearing or mailed to the MDEQ Gaylord Field Office at 2100 West M-32, Gaylord, MI 49735.

Additional information about the permit application is available at This permit application public comment period will close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.

This public hearing precedes the Public Feedback Session beginning at 6 p.m. on the Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc., draft Alternatives Analysis for the Straits Pipeline report also at Little Bear East Arena and Community Center. While both events involve the Line 5 pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac, the public hearing is specific to the permit application for anchor supports.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hancock City Council hears citizens' views on White Street -- one-way or two-way issue

By Michele Bourdieu

One of three public hearings held by the Hancock City Council on June 21, 2017, concerned the question of whether Hancock's White Street, changed to one-way going uphill from downtown Hancock to US 41 in 2014, should remain one-way or be returned to two-way. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Concerned local residents filled the Council Chambers of Hancock City Hall on June 21, 2017, for a public hearing concerning the future status of White Street -- whether it should remain one-way going uphill from downtown Hancock to US 41or be returned to its previous two-way status. In 2014, the City of Hancock made the street one-way going uphill, chiefly because of safety concerns.*

Now that the re-paving of White Street is complete, the traffic lines painted this week indicate the one-way system is still in place, with bike lanes marked on both sides of the street (Cyclists can go both up and down the street) and one lane for vehicles going uphill from Hancock to US 41 (North Lincoln Ave.). A second blinking light has been added at the White Street - US 41 corner, where the street widens to allow both left and right turns onto the highway

This photo, taken on July 13, 2017, shows the double turning lanes at the top of White St. and a second blinking light added, improving safety for cars turning in either direction onto US 41. So far the bike symbols have not been painted in the lanes, but vehicles going uphill need to be aware that cyclists may be going either up or down the hill in the bike lanes. (Keweenaw Now photo taken July 13, 2017)

Bill Marlor, City of Hancock Department of Public Works (DPW) director and an active cyclist, said he prefers keeping White Street one-way going up the hill for the safety of all the user groups -- pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

"As a two-way street, the road isn't designed for the volume of traffic," he said. "The overwhelming majority of the users of White Street are people who live somewhere else and use White Street as a short cut -- regardless of whether it's one-way or two-way. If you need to improve the street, the City of Hancock would have to pay for it. The more use it gets the more expensive it is to replace it."

Marlor told Keweenaw Now yesterday that new bike symbols and signing will soon be added to the bike lanes on both sides of White Street.

Signs at the top of White Street, near the intersection with US 41, warn motorists of the one-way upbound street. Soon painted symbols and additional signs will be put in place to mark the bike lanes on both sides of the street. (Keweenaw Now photo taken July 12, 2017)

"We're trying to do something with painting at the intersections to make it safer for motorists coming up the hill and for the cyclists -- particularly at Finn and Ryan streets," Marlor said.

Residents express opposing views on White Street status 

Hancock residents who spoke at the June 21 hearing and those who sent written comments expressed views on both sides of the issue. Many who spoke for keeping White Street one-way were concerned about safety issues, especially in winter, and the needs of pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists. A bike lane going downhill was added in 2016.** Those who spoke for returning White Street to two-way mentioned convenience in reaching their homes or downtown Hancock; effects on Quincy Street businesses; and problems with increased traffic on side streets such as Scott Street, sometimes used as an alternate route from US 41.

Representing the Hancock Bike and Pedestrian Committee, Deborah Mann, a member of the Hancock Planning Commission, reminded the City Council and others present at the hearing that Hancock's Complete Streets ordinance and the Non-Motorized Transportation plan require the City  to consider accommodating the needs of all roadway users of the roadways, including pedestrians and cyclists in addition to motorists -- as well as ADA (American Disability Act) compliance.

Hancock Planning Commission member Deborah Mann, representing the Hancock Bike and Pedestrian Committee, addresses the Hancock City Council during the public hearing on White Street on June 21, 2017. At right is Ron Blau, Ward I counselor. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

Mann noted that, while returning to two-way traffic would result in a short cut for drivers coming from US 41, the increased traffic from cars going both up and down White Street would increase the risk of contact injury to pedestrians walking along White Street.

"The street is narrow for two lanes and the sidewalk is used frequently by pedestrians," Mann said. "It is a main corridor to Pat’s IGA from the south side of Highway 41. With two way traffic returning to White Street, intersections in the 100 and 200 blocks of Quincy Street, would become even more treacherous for pedestrians. The majority of residents at the Scott Building are elderly, and crossing with present traffic is difficult now but much improved from what it was three years ago."

Jerry Wuorenmaa, Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) executive director, who commented as a resident rather than with the "hat" of his position, said he agreed with Mann that White Street should be one-way, especially for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

Pete Rynes, a resident of White Street, also spoke about safety issues.

Pete Rynes, who lives on White Street, says he has seen accidents on White Street, the railing bent, cars passing other cars -- and has heard cars going 50-60 m.p.h. on White Street at night. Click on YouTube icon for larger view. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

"It's a short cut people use," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, what White Street has become is the unofficial highway."

Rynes said he did an experiment driving both the long route and the short cut on White Street and found the difference was only 50 seconds. He questioned whether that 50 seconds is worth the risks of increased traffic should the street be returned to two-way.

Susan Burack, a resident of the Scott Building, noted that the City of Hancock maintains White Street with residents' taxes, while US 41 is maintained by the State of Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Susan Burack asks the Hancock City Council members to consider both the past and the future in making a decision on whether White St. should be one-way or two-way.

Tom Vichich, who said he found the one-way on White Street inconvenient and admitted he did not know why the street was changed to one-way in 2014, asked the council members to consider two questions when looking for a solution: What is the real problem? and What are the unintended consequences of that solution?

During the public hearing, Tom Vichich comments on the inconvenience, for him, of having White Street one-way.

Becky Bruin-Slot, who lives in east Hancock, said she would like White Street to be returned to two-way for the convenience of getting to her house.

Bill Deephouse, who lives on Lake Avenue in Hancock, said he believed making White Street one-way was, and is still, a bad decision.

"Having White Street available for both up-bound and down-bound traffic allows cars coming from the north on US-41 to bypass the longer route past Santori’s Corner," Deephouse said. "They are able to either get to downtown Hancock faster or get back on US-41 and continue to Houghton and MTU. This is a big convenience and time saver for many. It seems to me that this change to eliminate down-bound traffic has had a negative effect on businesses in Hancock as well."

Hancock resident Bill Deephouse reads his comments to the Hancock City Council during the public hearing on White Street. Deephouse said he opposes the one-way system on White Street because of inconvenience.

Deephouse also noted the congestion on Hancock Street makes it difficult, even dangerous, to cross this street, especially during morning and evening rush hour traffic.

"Those of us living south of Hancock Street (US-41) have to cross this street to get to our homes on Water Street, Lake Avenue and some of the apartments on the east end of Lake Avenue," Deephouse said. "There are several businesses on the west end of Water Street as well as Finlandia’s Jutila Center. All of these people have to cross Hancock Street and most use the Dakota Street crossing."

Allyson Jabusch of Hancock questioned the need for a short cut when safety is at stake.

Noting the safety issues created by increased traffic in Hancock, Allyson Jabusch rejects the argument that people need White Street as a short cut.

Hans Lechner, who lives on the corner of Scott and Elm streets, gave his reasons for returning White Street to two-way.

Hans Lechner speaks about the increased traffic on Scott Street since White Street has been one-way.

Another resident of White Street, Robert Stites, a Hancock police officer, said making White Street one-way has saved at least 40 accidents. He said he hopes the Council will decide to keep White Street one-way "purely for safety."

Hancock police officer Robert Stites, a resident of White Street, warns that returning White Street to two-way will increase the number of accidents.

Barbara Bouwkamp, who lives on Wright Street, said having White Street one-way has allowed her to exit her parking space. She said she hopes the City will keep the street one-way.

Barbara Bouwkamp speaks about both safety and drainage issues on White Street.

"It's unsafe to be two-way," Bouwkamp said.

She also mentioned some drainage issues -- concerns about storm water under the street.

Bill Marlor told Keweenaw Now the DPW is addressing the drainage with additional storm sewer improvements on White Street.

Terry Munson, who has a rental property on Wright Street with parking on White Street, expressed his concern for the safety of pedestrians, especially in winter, when the sidewalk width is very narrow. He also mentioned that cars tend to accelerate going up the hill, endangering pedestrians.

Terry Munson speaks about safety issues on White Street.

"I'm in favor of keeping White Street one-way," Munson said. "I don't care if it's up or down -- for safety reasons mainly."

If the decision is to keep White Street one way, the 25 m.p.h. speed limit needs to be enforced, Munson added. 

Dorothy Jamison of Roosevelt Street said the speed limits are not enforced on side streets. She said she would like to see White Street returned to two-way because of the increased traffic, going too fast, on her street as well as on other side streets, which are not designed for this kind of traffic.

Dorothy Jamison, who lives on Roosevelt Street, notes the increased traffic and speeding past her house since White Street has been one-way.

Elm Street resident Kayla Holmstrom gave several examples of increased traffic on her street and other side streets in her neighborhood, especially at 7:30 a.m. and after school. She said she didn't know why White Street became one-way, but she would like to see it return to two-way traffic to relieve the congestion on side streets.

Elm Street resident Kayla Holmstrom describes problems with increased traffic in her neighborhood and expresses her wish to have White Street returned to two-way traffic.

Susanne Boxer, a resident of Navy Street, asked the City Council members to consider funding a professional study of the city street traffic before making any decision on White Street. Jason Somnerville of Quincy Township also asked the Council to take more time and investigate more options -- possibly even preventing traffic from going up and down White Street at all.

Hancock resident Susanne Boxer and Jason Somnerville of Quincy Township ask the Council to take more time before making a decision. Boxer suggests a professional street study and Somnerville says more options should be considered.

Hancock Council members discuss White Street issues

During the regular Council meeting following the public hearing on White Street, Hancock City Council members discussed reasons for White Street issues and possible solutions.

Ron Blau, Ward I councilor, said he believed the people should decide whether to keep White Street one-way or return it to two-way. He said he would like to see it come to a vote or millage.

"There's no denying there's a problem," Blau said. "That's why the public is here."

Hancock Mayor Lisa McKenzie noted that White Street isn't built to carry the amount of traffic that returning to two-way would entail.

Paul LaBine, Ward III councilor, said he would like to have a traffic study done to see if the two-way is feasible.

Dan Seguin, Ward II councilor, who lives on Elm Street, said he thought at first that the one-way was inconvenient but became accustomed to it and appreciates the need for safety, although he would prefer it to be two-way.

Ted Belej, Mayor Pro-Tem and councilor at large, said the one-way change was for safety and then for the construction. It is hard to make any decision now because of the ongoing construction on Hancock streets, he added.

John Haeussler, councilor at large, who recently returned to the Council to occupy the seat left vacant by Mary Tuisku, who passed away recently, noted from his previous terms as councilor that the reason White Street is an issue now is that previous Councils ignored it.

John Haeussler, who served on the Hancock City Council previously, was welcomed back during the June 21, 2017, meeting as he returned to fill the seat left vacant by the recent death of long-term Hancock Councilor Mary Tuisku. 

"Philosophically White Street doesn't make sense," Haeussler said. "We're left with a situation where our tax base is paying people outside of our tax base (the cut-through traffic) to circumvent our city and our businesses."

Haeussler said White Street is not being used mostly by Hancock residents. He said his biggest disappointment with the one-way change was the increase in uphill traffic -- cars going uphill on White Street as a cut-through only and missing the business section. The ideal solution, he added, would be to limit the city streets to "local traffic only." He said the city has a responsibility to residents to use their taxes wisely and a responsibility to business owners and residents to keep traffic on the trunk lines as much as possible.

Haessler concluded from the hearing (admitting this is an oversimplification) that what he heard from people who preferred two-way was that it was a matter of convenience and from those wanting to keep it one-way that it was a matter of safety. And his view was that "safety trumps convenience."


* See our June 22, 2014, article, "Hancock City Council approves one-way street changes."

** See our Aug. 30, 2016, article, "Hancock bike lane on White St. allows cyclists to ride against one-way motorized traffic."

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Local residents share concerns about Great Lakes at "All Hands on Deck" event

By Michele Bourdieu

Gathered in Houghton's Kestner Park on July 3, 2017, local participants in the "All Hands On Deck" event celebrated around the Great Lakes hold up blue marbles representing the Earth seen from outer space. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- About 35 local residents gathered at Houghton's Kestner Park near the Keweenaw Waterway to raise awareness of the need to protect the Great Lakes and keep them healthy. Many wore blue and all were given blue marbles to hold high or share with another to symbolize their gratitude for clean water.*

Co-organizers Horst Schmidt of Tamarack City and Susan Burack of Hancock invited those who wished to express their ideas or feelings about the Great Lakes to speak spontaneously to the group.

The speakers' reasons for honoring the Great Lakes, which contain about 20 percent of the world's fresh water, ranged from love of fishing to enjoyment of beaches and concern for clean water. Some mentioned threats to the water, including mining and oil industries, plastics, invasive species and the potential diversion of fresh water to states suffering from heat and drought due to climate change.

Peter Ekstrom of Houghton speaks about fish recovery in Lake Superior and why he likes living here. Holding up a symbolic blue marble, David Owens of Ann Arbor and Eagle Harbor speaks about protecting the Great Lakes. Nine-year-old Lewis Vendlinski of Houghton says he loves swimming in the Great Lakes. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

David Owens, a seasonal resident of Ann Arbor and Eagle Harbor, who distributed blue marbles to the group, said the Blue Marbles Project was started by marine biologist Wallace Nichols, who was inspired by the blue marble image of Earth captured by the crew of Apollo 17. Nichols started the Blue Marbles Project in 2009. He has since shared blue marbles with millions of people around the world. The marbles celebrate the Planet Earth and carry the message that water is life.

Nichols asks people to hold their marble up at arm’s length, ponder it for a second, and realize what Earth looks like from a million miles away -- small and blue, because it is a water planet. He hopes people will realize the importance of water for life and how what we do on our small planet matters and has a ripple effect. People are then asked to give the marble away to someone as a token of gratitude.*

David Owens speaks about the symbolism of the blue marbles he brought for the group to share with others. At right is Horst Schmidt, president of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) and co-organizer, with Susan Burack, of the local event. Similar events were held on July 3 in locations in all the Great Lakes states and in Canada.

"Nichols has given out thousands of blue marbles that have traveled all over the world," Owens said.

Ruth Mohr, Owens' wife, spoke about the threat of Enbridge's Line 5 Pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Ruth Mohr of Ann Arbor and Eagle Harbor speaks about the potential risk to clean water posed by the 64-year-old Line 5 Pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.**

The subject of plastics polluting the lakes, rivers and oceans on a large scale led Miriam Pickens of Hancock and Cathy Campbell-Olszewski of Houghton to talk about recycling and re-use as well as conserving water -- ways everyone can take action to protect the water.

Miriam Pickens (at right) and Cathy Campbell-Olszewski encourage the audience to recycle, re-use, reduce garbage and participate in cleanups. Both Hancock and Houghton now have curbside recycling.

Co-organizer Burack had another suggestion for taking action: "I would like everybody to stop buying bottled water," Burack said.

Susan Burack of Hancock, co-organizer of the event, asks participants to stop buying bottled water.

"The anti-bottled water movement is strong in lower Michigan," said Barbara McTaggart of Houghton. "One place, Central Michigan University, no longer sells bottled water because students have brought up that issue."

Barbara McTaggart speaks about the anti-bottled water movement downstate. McTaggart, who works on Isle Royale as a ranger, said she attended this event because "we need to have strong relationships with geographic locations we love."

Owens noted also that a good reason not to buy bottled water is the fact that Nestlé drains aquifers for it all over the world, including southwest Michigan, where he and his wife live in the winter.

"We don't buy anything made by Nestlé, and we suggest you do the same," Owens said.

Allyson Jabusch of Hancock said young Lewis Vendlinski's comment on wanting to swim in clean water at the beach brought back her childhood memory of a very polluted Lake Erie beach near Toledo, Ohio.

Allyson Jabusch of Hancock recounts a childhood memory of Lake Erie pollution.

"We have to pay attention to what the government is doing or not doing," Jabusch said.
Debra Mues of Ahmeek spoke about a lake with dead fish that recovered thanks to efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Organizers Burack and Schmidt followed up by leading the audience in chants for the EPA and clean water.

Debra Mues of Ahmeek shares her feelings about moving from the West to the Keweenaw and Lake Superior.

Mike Gage of Ahmeek, husband of Debra Mues, talked about his love of paddling the rivers in the U.P. and his concerns about threats to clean water.

Mike Gage of Ahmeek speaks and sings about the many rivers in the U.P. he has paddled and his concerns for the Lake Superior watershed.

Joanne Thomas of Allouez said water is the reason she prefers the Keweenaw to Iowa, where she lived previously.

"Having lived part-time in southeast Iowa back in the 80s and 90s (to be affiliated with Maharishi University), I could not endure the barren terrain any longer," Thomas said. "No body of water. Finally remained here permanently, as Lake Superior is the best body of water to be near. We must remain vigilant to keep it a 'fresh' lake!"

Participants in the July 3, 2017, "All Hands On Deck" event link hands in solidarity to demonstrate their shared concerns for the water of the Great Lakes.

Co-organizer Horst Schmidt said he was satisfied with the turnout for the event.

"I'm glad that we have people that would come out in the holiday season to celebrate the fact that we do have clean water here," Schmidt said.

* Click here to learn about the Blue Marbles Project.

** See Keweenaw Now's right-hand column to learn about the new 45-day Public Comment period on the Draft Line 5 Alternatives Report. It opened on July 6, 2017. Also the third annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Line 5 will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Mackinaw City. Bring your kayak AND MEET AT: Nicolet and Huron Streets, Mackinac Lighthouse Park, Mackinac City, Mich., 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. RSVP E-mail:  See details on the Facebook event page.

Friday, July 07, 2017

First Friday Art Walk in Calumet July 7 offers new exhibits, receptions, music, more ...

Keeping the Peace, by Kathleen Conover, is part of the July exhibit on birds at the Paige Wiard Gallery in Calumet. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

CALUMET -- Join the First Friday Art Walk in Calumet tonight, July 7, and enjoy opening receptions, art activities and music in the galleries.

Paige Wiard Gallery: Birds

Birds are the source of limitless creative inspiration that connect us to the rhythms of life. Their migrations mark the shifting seasons, their music heralds each dawn, and their shoreline searches highlight the flow of the tides. As we aspire to sing, soar, and preen like them adorned in brilliance attire, avian art inspires in many ways. For the month of July talented artists from throughout Michigan celebrate avian marvels through fresh interpretation in original painting, photographs and sculptures. The public is invited to an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Paige Wiard Gallery, 109 5th St., on First Friday, July 7. For more information call 337-5970 or email

Calumet Art Center: Art works by Lyn and Mark Reed; Sandstone Piecemakers Quilt Guild

Artists Lyn and Mark Reed will exhibit their work during First Friday, July 7, at the Calumet Art Center. (Photo courtesy Calumet Art Center)

Visit the Calumet Art Center from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, July 7. Demonstrations and more. See an exhibit of clay artwork by Lyn and Mark Reed, who have been married for forty years. Both are recently retired from teaching in K-12 schools in northern Minnesota. Lyn is an Australian who received her degree in Art Education from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane and a Masters in Art from U of W-Superior. Lyn has pursued ceramics throughout her teaching career and is now continuing her endeavor at Calumet Art Center. Mark received his degree in biology and education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He has recently pursued ceramics as an outlet for his interest in fishing and is continuing his ceramics training at the Calumet Art Center.

Interested in quilting? Already an avid quilter or just want to learn more? The Sandstone Piecemakers Quilt Guild members will be upstairs in the Calumet Art Center’s Performance Hall each First Friday restoring the beautiful quilt that was donated to the center. They invite beginners and experienced quilters to help out. For more information, please call (906) 934-2228 or visit .
Hahn Hammered Copper: Celebrating 8 years!

Stop in at Hahn Hammered Copper this First Friday, July 7, for a glimpse of what’s old -- the Hahns' own hand-hammered art copper, vintage copper items, fine old photographs, architectural tidbits, salvaged and re-purposed items, odd objects, and more! Not only are they celebrating First Friday, but they are also celebrating 8 years of being in business in Beautiful Downtown Calumet! Stop in for a treat and a glimpse of the past this First Friday at Hahn Hammered Copper!

Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts: "Keweenaw Blossoms"

Supernova Yoga, Gallery and Gifts, 213 Sixth St., invites the public to the opening reception for their July exhibit, "Keweenaw Blossoms," from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 7. Enjoy live music and refreshments. The July exhibit features a series of photographs by Natalie Pruett, a photographer who resides in Flint, Michigan. The centerpiece of the series reflects the sublime beauty of the Keweenaw wilderness in bloom. Her photography captures life, light, and beauty through images of the natural world. A native of Flint, Natalie frequents the Keweenaw for inspiration, family connection and enjoyment. For more info visit

Galerie Bohème: "Now and Zen" by Kerri Corser

Art by Kerri Corser is the July exhibit at Galerie Bohème in Calumet. (Photo courtesy Galerie Bohème)

Galerie Bohème, 423 5th Street, will host the exhibit "Now and Zen" by Kerri Corser, with an opening reception from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 7. With these paintings Kerri takes inspiration from selected elements used to develop the Zen garden -- the many elements that are purposely selected and precisely placed to guide the traveler through a garden journey. The exhibit continues through Aug. 1. Hours are 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information contact Tom Rudd at (906) 369-4087.

Café Rosetta: Art by Jill Isaacson

Café Rosetta is exhibiting art by Jill Isaacson. (Photo courtesy Café Rosetta) 

Café Rosetta, 104 Fifth St., welcomes Jill Isaacson and her art! Inspired by her travels, Jill paints nature scenes in acrylics. A former Minnesota resident, she is now enjoying the U.P.! Usual business hours for first Friday: open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) will host an open community exhibit, MINIATURE MARVELS, through July. (Photo courtesy CCAA)

The Copper Country Associated Artists' Gallery will host an OPEN COMMUNITY EXHIBIT for the month of July -- MINIATURE MARVELS with local artists exhibiting their artwork of 5x7 or smaller -- a must-see exhibit! Stop in for the Opening Artist Reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Friday, July 7, while enjoying a walk about Calumet. Some of the artists will be around to explain their artwork for the gallery exhibit. Please vote for the "Viewers Choice Award." If you can not attend the 1st Friday event, the exhibit continues through July, so you can still stop in to view the art and do some shopping.

Vertin Gallery: Week of sales

Some of the many treasures found at The Vertin Gallery in Calumet. (Photo courtesy The Vertin Gallery)

The Vertin Gallery, 220 Sixth St., will be open during the First Friday Art Walk July 7. It's Red, White, and Oooh time at The Vertin! Come on by for this great week of sales on all the dreamy treasures for your home and gifts for you and your loved ones. The Vertin  specializes in Fine Art, Vintage, Retro, Mid-Century Modern, Antiques, Industrial, Re-purposed, Farm Style, and Hand-Crafted items.

Cross Country Sports: Let the Good Times Roll: Art of KRG

Cross Country Sports, 507 Oak St., will host Let the Good Times Roll: Art of KRG (Keweenaw Roller Girls) -- an eclectic and colorful show featuring vibrant poster art and design by Katie Jo Wright, Jonathan Soper and Terri Frew. Further roller derby related art will also be presented from artists Melissa Williamson, Sam Flora, and Joe Mac. Select items will be available for purchase.

Much like KRG themselves, this art is unique and individual -- a true sight to behold. Visit Cross Country Sports from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 7. In conjuction with First Friday Festivities, artists, KRG league members and friends will be present at the opening to discuss the works and local roller derby opportunities. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Portage Library, Community Arts Center to host Butterfly Talks by Miriam Pickens

Butterfly near Maasto Hiihto Trails. (Photo © and courtesy Miriam Pickens)

HOUGHTON-HANCOCK -- Miriam Pickens, artist and photographer, will offer two presentations on butterflies this week --  on Thursday, July 6, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton and on Saturday, July 8, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock.

Portage Lake District Library: "Butterflies, Skippers and Their Place in the Lepidopteran World"

The Portage Lake District Library will host Miriam Pickens for an evening learning about species of butterflies that live in the Keweenaw at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 6.

Pickens’ slide show presentation, "Butterflies, Skippers and Their Place in the Lepidopteran World," will feature species of butterflies that are likely to visit local gardens and fields. Participants will learn butterfly basics that include how butterflies differ from moths, what kinds of flowers butterflies feed on, and more. There will be time for questions from the audience following the presentation. Signed copies of her recently published book, Butterflies of the Maasto Hiihto Trails, Hancock, MI, will also be available for sale. The event is free and open to the public.

Copper Country Community Arts Center: Photographing Butterflies of the Maasto Hiihto Trails

At the Community Arts Center's Second Saturday Coffee Talk at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 8, Miriam Pickens will share stories and discuss her adventures butterflying in the Keweenaw. She has self-published a book on these insects, and her photographs are sold as cards and 8X10 prints. She also uses her butterfly photos as inspiration for painting on pottery. Learn about the local butterflies, and get some pointers on photographing them successfully.

Coffee Talks take place at the Copper Country Community Arts Center, 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Coffee talks with artists are free and informal. Coffee is provided by KC Bonkers Toys and Coffee. Please call the Arts Center at 482-2333 if you’d like to attend.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Join "All Hands On Deck" event July 3 in Houghton to help raise awareness of Great Lakes protection

HOUGHTON -- "All Hands On Deck" is a gathering at Kestner Park in Houghton from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Monday, July 3, to raise awareness of the need to protect the Great Lakes and keep them healthy. All are invited. Boats are encouraged to congregate in front of the park by 10 a.m. Local weather predictions promise it to be a sunny day.

This event will take place on the shore and on the water with boats linking along the shorelines in communities in every Great Lakes state and Canada. In the UP, there will be gatherings in Marquette, Menominee, and Drummond Island as well as on the Portage.

"Wearing blue is encouraged," said Horst Schmidt, co-organizer, with Susan Burack, of the Houghton event. "What is important is being there and linking with others. People are welcome to bring posters voicing their support for the Great Lakes, ongoing funding for removal of legacy pollution and maintaining a healthy lake ecosystem."*

Boaters may wish to bring a blue marble to share or a blue pennant to wave during this event of solidarity for the Great Lakes.

Participants in the All Hands On Deck events are invited to link hands on the beach and link boats on the water along the shorelines in communities in every Great Lakes state and Canada. (Poster courtesy All Hands on Deck Facebook page)

All Hands On Deck represents common ground that extends beyond political and geographical boundaries. Water unifies us all. In every area, the Great Lakes are essential to the environment, economy, and everyone’s way of life. The event is a way to come together in a unique, unified expression of concern on behalf of a precious resource that needs continuing attention and support -- funding, regulations, and research -- to sustain long-term vitality.

"What is the Keweenaw without water?" asks local co-organizer Susan Burack of Hancock. "All of us who live here need to show our support for protecting our part of the Great Lakes. We, on the south coast of the greatest lake, join together with people around Ontario, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan for our part."

Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario together are the largest surface freshwater system on Earth; only the Polar icecaps contain more water. The Great Lakes contain 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water, and 21 percent of all the surface fresh water in the world. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Great Lakes are "a dominant part of the physical and cultural heritage of North America."

This event, which is taking place in more than 50 communities, is the brainchild of Charlevoix, Michigan, resident Kimberly Simon, who conceived of All Hands on Deck in response to proposed cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

*For more information click here or email Horst Schmidt at