Could saint candidate be a miracle for UP tourism?

By CARL STODDARD
Capital News Service
LANSING — On a hill overlooking U.S. 41, between L’Anse and Baraga is the towering statue of a man who could become a saint. Frederic Baraga, Michigan’s famous “Snowshoe Priest,” traveled the Great Lakes region in the 1800s spreading the Gospel. He later became the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette. Today efforts are underway to determine if his many works make him worthy of sainthood. The process could take years.

Police recruiting not a problem in U.P., but retention a statewide issue

By BRIDGET BUSH
Capital News Service
LANSING—While the state’s Upper Peninsula can attract new police recruits, its Lower Peninsula has challenges attracting qualified officers, experts say. The number of police officers is at an all-time low in Michigan, said Fred Timpner, executive director of the Michigan Association of Police. “I’ve got departments in lower Michigan that have 10 openings and five applicants,” he said. The reason is low pay and no retirement benefits, Timpner said. “What the public doesn’t realize is that 70-some percent of officers aren’t eligible for Social Security.

Clock is ticking on dark stores

By KAREN HOPPER USHER
Capital News Service
LANSING — A delay in changing the tax math for big-box stores could cost local governments big bucks for generations, say supporters of a bill that would stop the stores from claiming big tax breaks. “That’s the really scary thing,” said Greg Seppanen, a former Marquette County commissioner fighting low tax assessments as part of the county’s Citizens for Fair Share. The Michigan Tax Tribunal hears appeals from taxpayers who think their municipality has over-assessed the value of their property. In 2013, the tribunal agreed with a big-box store that said the value of its property had more to do with their business and less to do with property characteristics. This ushered in a wave of big-box stores demanding tax breaks and pointing to vacant big-box stores  as evidence that local governments were overcharging them.

Two sites in UP classified as Historic Places

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Two Upper Peninsula sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places– one culturally important to members of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the other related to a strike important to labor and women’s history. Rice Bay in Gogebic County is a traditional wild rice-growing area covering a quarter-mile-square on northeastern Lac Vieux Desert, a lake straddling the Michigan-Wisconsin border. And the 128-year-old Braastad-Gossard Building in downtown Ishpeming served as a department store and a factory that manufactured women’s undergarments before being renovated for an interior mall and offices. “The National Register is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation,” according to the National Park Service, which administers the program. Lac Vieux Desert is the headwaters of the Wisconsin River, and most Michigan wild rice sites are within 10 miles of the state border.

Debate continues as wolf hunt nears

By GREG MONAHAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan’s first sanctioned wolf hunt is slated to begin Nov. 15. It could also be the state’s last one. “It’s a good thing to get this thing off the ground and started,” said Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, who sponsored the bill establishing the state’s first wolf hunting season. “We’re coming at it with a pretty light number, which is good, and we’ll take it from there.”
The Upper Peninsula hunt will continue until Dec.

Internet creates opportunities at northern Michigan schools

By STEPHEN INGBER
Capital News Service
LANSING — For a long time, the Upper Peninsula and the northern part of the Lower Peninsula have lacked access to high-speed Internet, but that’s changing, education and technology experts say. Merit Network Inc., which promotes computer networking in Michigan, won a $103 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to provide fiber-optic cable to “community anchor institutions.”
The focus for Merit was primarily on K-12 education and libraries, said Elwood Downing, vice president of member relations, communications, services and product development at the Ann Arbor-based nonprofit company. With the grant, Merit laid 2,300 miles of fiber-optic cable across the U.P. and the northern half of the Lower Peninsula. “The Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Service District benefited the most, having almost no connectivity before we came in,” Downing said. The district is headquartered in Indian River.

Crisp Point natural beauty now protected, open to public

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Two miles of pristine Lake Superior shoreline, sand dunes and an 83-acre inland lake are now open to the public as part of a 3,816-acre expansion of state-owned forestland in the central Upper Peninsula. The $6 million parcel is a “public asset,” said Tom Bailey, executive director of the Little Traverse Conservancy, which worked with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and U.S. Forest Service to bring the Crisp Point Project to fruition. Crisp Point includes steep bluffs, sand dunes and streams, as well as 2.5 miles of snowmobile trails, according to DNR. Public recreational uses include hunting, kayaking, fishing and wildlife viewing. Existing two-tracks will remain open, and DNR has no plans to build any structures or campgrounds there.

Brook trout brouhaha brews in the U.P.

By SAODAT ASANOVA-TAYLOR
Capital News Service
LANSING – Brook trout experts have asked the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to put on hold a proposal to double the brook trout creel limit in 10 streams in the Upper Peninsula. They claim the proposal carries a political agenda and lacks scientific data, potentially threatening the overall brook trout habitat. The agency’s proposal would allow anglers to take 10 fish per day per person. The current limit has existed for more than a decade. The daily possession limit would be 10 fish and the minimum size would be 7 inches.

As weather warms, corn will be grown up north

By WEI YU
Capital News Service
LANSING – Climate change would influence the volatility of corn prices more than government energy policy or changing oil prices, a new study by researchers from Stanford and Purdue universities shows. The study suggests that frequent heat waves will cause a sharp price lift unless heat-tolerant varieties are developed or the geographic concentration of corn production shifts. That means Michigan’s Corn Belt could move north into the Northern Lower Peninsular and the Upper Peninsula. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn is the second top agricultural commodity in Michigan. The top five counties growing corn are Huron, Lenawee, Saginaw, Cass and Sanilac, according to Michigan Agricultural Statistics.