HARD-CORE NEWSPAPER lovers in Marquette County are grieving. After December 28th, out-of-town newspapers will no longer be trucked up here, except on Sundays. Mader News Agency, the Green Bay newspaper distributor, says it doesn’t make economic sense for them to make the trip anymore. The trucks will bring the papers as far as Iron Mountain but no farther. Maybe we can find the Pony Express or a team of sled dogs to finish up the last 50 miles or so.
If we needed further evidence that the paper version of newspapers is dying, this is it. Mader says publishing and printing costs are too high, circulation is declining, and free Internet access to news is cutting into newspaper readership.
On the surface and in the short run, this is good news for the Mining Journal. It’ll be the only game in town.
But for those of us who’ve been desperately clinging to our pulp-based New York Times or Detroit Free Press or USA Today, well….we’ll now have to join the rest of the under-50 crowd, and click on to our computers or iPads for news.
IT’S NOT LIKE we didn’t know that mining could be hazardous to your health, but the latest study provides a few more facts.
It’s a $5 million dollar, six year study conducted by the University of Minnesota and funded by the Minnesota state legislature.
The findings? Miners on the Iron Range of Minnesota working around taconite dust are more than twice as likely as the average person to get mesothelioma, a rare cancer.
The good news? The afflicted miners’ families were not affected by the taconite exposure, nor were the surrounding communities. Just the miners themselves who were exposed to high levels of airborne mineral fibers.
The researchers strongly recommend that potentially exposed miners use respirators and other protective gear.
Cliffs Natural Resources says that’s precisely what they do here in Marquette County: use respirators and conduct regular screenings with chest x-rays and breathing tests. Cliffs, which cooperated with this latest study, also says it supports continued studies on taconite exposure.
One other, unexpected finding in the Minnesota study: miners exposed to the ultra-fine dust particles had a 30% higher death rate from heart disease than the average worker.
Again, sadly, no huge surprise. Working at a mine is an inherently risky job.
A QUICK COMPARISON of Delta airfares, roundtrip, to Detroit:
Leave Escanaba Dec 19, return Dec 21
Leave Marquette Dec 19, return Dec 21
That’s a difference of $137.
Leave Escanaba Jan 1, return Jan 8
Leave Marquette Jan 1, return Jan 8
Leave Escanaba Dec 29, return Dec 31
Leave Marquette Dec 29, return Dec 31
A difference of a mere $566. Pocket change.
It’s crazy. The reason for the disparity, of course, is that Escanaba’s airport (as well as Iron Mountain’s and Houghton’s) is federally subsidized. It gets almost three million dollars a year to keep the airlines at their facility, and keep their airfares artificially low.
It’s all part of the Essential Air Service program, designed to guarantee air service to rural communities. Which is great, except that it punishes BIG, MASSIVE, HUGE airports like Sawyer International, which isn’t considered small enough to qualify for EAS money.
Yeah, we’re really big, like three flights a day.
Sawyer management also points out that our airfares are driven up because of supply and demand. Flights out of Marquette are usually full. Escanaba’s aren’t.
So that begs the question, why don’t they bring more planes up here? That’s a possibility.
Not only that, but with fuel prices now plummeting, maybe Delta and American will finally cut us a break on fares.
Yeah, and pigs will finally learn how to fly.
IT AIN’T OVER til it’s over.
That’s the lesson the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club has learned yet again.
The rowers thought they were all set to start raising private funds to build a boat storage house (to be owned by the city) on the beach next to the Hampton Inn.
The City Commission, after a long, tedious process, finally approved the plan allowing the club to build the boathouse and then lease it back from the city. High-fives all around.
Well, the opposition never quite went away, and they’re now circulating petitions to revoke the lease, or put it up for a vote of the people. The opponents have a daunting challenge–they need more than 1300 signatures of registered Marquette voters within a month or so. That’s 10% of the voters.
Meantime, the two sides are hurling charges of misrepresentation, lies, and intimidation at each other.
Although it’s debatable, the boathouse, as planned, does not seem obtrusive or unsightly. It’ll cost taxpayers nothing. It’ll provide boat storage space for the public (for a fee) and for the NMU rowing team, and also access for the handicapped. And it’ll keep the rowers–a genuine asset to the community–in town.
Sure seems like a great idea, but if you believe that Marquette’s coastline should be pristine and inviolable–and the rowers should just take a hike–then maybe another building on our shores is a problem.
Something else that’s hurt the rowers’ cause: the building of the Founders Landing condos a couple of years ago to a height that wasn’t expected. A lot of residents were irate about it at the time but city officials, in response, just seemed to shrug their shoulders.
Distrust of our government? Nah, it doesn’t seem possible.
THE ORIGINAL REPORT out of ABC 10’s newsroom was “hard times and mutiny.”
Turns out that was a bit over-stated, but there is dissension within, and it concerns the new news director Greg Peterson, who’s been known to step on a few toes from time to time.
Peterson has taken an aggressive approach to the news, which is not a bad thing. But at times, it’s been a highly personalized and journalistically unsound approach, according to the critics.
They emphasize that Peterson knows news and has aggressively found news for ABC 10 but the presentation of the news has sometimes been sloppy, even unethical.
It should be noted that newsrooms are rarely mistaken for prayer circles or Kumbaya sing-alongs, but the rift at ABC 10 seems a little more serious than normal.
Strange: repeated attempts to contact Peterson on Tuesday failed. Staff members didn’t know where he was or when he’d return, and he wasn’t answering his cell phone.
Spice Merchants, a brand new store featuring spices, teas, rubs, soups, chocolates and gifts, has opened downtown on Washington Street.
Looks pretty, smells great.
The owners are Mike and Carolyn Carl. She’s a kitchen designer and he’s been a commercial fisherman and schoolteacher. They both went to NMU, then migrated south to Florida before hearing the call to return north.
Now they’re store owners, and Spice Merchants, which operates about 20 other stores, seems like a genuine enhancement to downtown, something that will attract both locals and tourists.
You looking for a Cranberry Maple Rub? Now you know where to go.
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