IT’LL BE INTERESTING to see whether the planned protest against Governor Snyder’s speech at NMU’s May commencement gains traction.
A lot of talk on campus this week after it was announced that he would be the speaker, and a Facebook page was set up specifically to organize the anti-Snyder campaign. A last check at the site showed that 250 people were “interested” in taking part in the protest.
But Connor Lee, a graduating senior who’s been one of the organizers, said only about 10 students showed up for a planning meeting on campus earlier this week. Classes and other diversions may have kept the students away, he says.
Still, Lee’s confident that the interest is there, and two more meetings are scheduled in the next two months. Preliminary plans call for a couple of anti-Snyder events just prior to the commencement, then a symbolic mass gesture when the governor gets up to speak: the participating graduates will stand up and turn their backs on him.
The opposition to Snyder, of course, arises primarily from his botching of the Flint water crisis. His fiercest opponents charge him with “poisoning” the people of Flint. He’s also been criticized for his perceived opposition to education and organized labor.
Prior to Snyder’s selection, students circulated a petition opposing him as commencement speaker, and they collected 400 signatures (5% of the student body) but the NMU Board and President Fritz Erickson chose to overlook the criticism and invite him anyway.
Reasons: Governor Snyder has visited NMU often and has been an outspoken supporter of the university.
Further, according to Erickson, “We don’t hold a litmus test for people who come to our campus past and present. Universities should support the free exchange of ideas.”
Sounds reasonable. Still, you have to wonder whether Erickson, who’s made a lot of friends and won admiration during his tenure at NMU, will ultimately regret the decision if a mass protest, attracting statewide news coverage, ends up dominating commencement week. Parents and non-participating students probably won’t be thrilled with that.
IS THERE TRULY hope for the Empire Mine to reopen?
Sounded like it if you listened to the speech that Cleveland Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves gave in Marquette last week. Essentially he said, “Make me a good offer, tell me you love Cliffs a lot. A whole lot! And then we may reopen the mine here and not build one in Nashwauk, Minnesota.”
But of course he made exactly the same pitch to Minnesota, reversing the cities, just the day before.
He’s playing the two off against each other. Can’t blame him.
“I think it’s smart business for Cliffs to come up with the best deal,” says City Commissioner Fred Storehouse, who’s also a noted writer and historian.
Stonehouse is hopeful but realistically he doubts Marquette County will win the battle. He points out that there are far more iron ore reserves in the Mesabi Range in Minnesota than in the Marquette Range, and the shipping capabilities in Minnesota are greater.
The one major advantage Empire has is community support–the city of Ishpeming has set up a pro-Cliffs site on Facebook that’s gaining friends daily. In Minnesota, on the other hand, there’s been continuous opposition to mining from environmentalists.
Goncalves and Cliffs will make their decision by the end of the year.
MORE DEVELOPMENT ON the highway, this one on the property west of Shunk furniture store.
It’ll be a training center for carpenters and millwrights, to be used for training of apprentices and journeymen.
Three acres, a 30,000 square foot facility. They’re currently using a much smaller, older building on Division Street in south Marquette for training. The new building is expected to be up and running by fall of 2019, according to Brian Kerrigan, the business representative for the union.
Understandably, with the local construction boom, the carpenters and millwrights union is growing. Ninety-five new members in the last year. They need room to train.
In case you’re wondering, there are no state funds going to the new building. It comes from a fund that employers pay into for each hour the carpenters and millwrights work. It’s benefits both employees and employers because it ensures that we have a fully skilled work force.
BIG CHANGE IN the Morning News at TV6.
Meteorologist Mackenzie Leigh has left the building. She returned to Green Bay and is getting out of the business, according to news director Steve Asplund. She lasted only six months.
Enter Jennifer Perez. If that name sounds familiar, it should be. A few years back she was a reporter for TV6, but even then expressed a strong interest in becoming a meteorologist.
She got the training, took weather jobs in Lansing and Springfield, Missouri, and now she’s returned to Marquette. Obviously for the huge salary. (Pause for laughs) No, actually it’s because she’s likes the area, likes the station, and likes her friends here.
Her first week has gone smoothly. She knows her stuff, and shows a lot more confidence than she had when she was a rookie reporter a few years ago.
One more thing: Morning News co-anchor Andrew LaCombe is another TV6 employee who started here in Marquette, left for a few years, and then came back. What the hell? It’s gotta be the money.
EXPECT TO SEE a cruise ship docking in the Lower Harbor a couple of times this July.
It’s the Victory 2, owned by a cruise line out of Miami. About 160 passengers on board. They’ll spend a full day in Marquette on both stops to take a tour of the town.
Other stops along the way: Milwaukee, Mackinac Island, Houghton, Duluth, Thunder Bay, and Detroit.
We’re told the Great Lakes are becoming an increasingly popular destination for cruisers. Other cruise lines are making plans for Great Lakes cruises in the next few years.
TWENTY-FIVE DEGREES and sunny skies forecast for Sunday in Marquette. A downright balmy day for a run.
A Valentine’s Day run, as a matter of fact. They’re calling it the “Run Your Heart Out 5K Fun Run“. It’ll start at 2 pm. They’re gathering at the Queen City Running Company on Baraga Street, and from there, they’ll wander over to the bell tower at the Lower Harbor and start the race. Basically to Picnic Rocks and back. Easy-peasy.
Here’s where the Valentine’s theme comes in: Either you come to the race with your partner, or you will be paired up with a “blind date,” and your times will be combined, and they’ll take average of the two, and then they’ll take into consideration your ages and…aw hell, you get the idea.
No, you don’t have run alongside your date. Run as fast as you like. Leave him behind.
A party afterwards, some medals awarded…and who knows? Maybe your “blind date” will actually become your Valentine next year.
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