June 5 , 2006 (Vol. 13, No. 4)

A weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University

Edited by Dennis Walikainen (MS ’92), Director, Web Development, University Marketing and Communications

For past issues, see our archives.

In this issue:


Recently, we drove the back roads of the Keweenaw with my mom and step-dad. (My mom remembered taking her mother, Henrietta Palmer, on these drives, and her dad, Charlie Palmer, worked at the Central Heating Plant at Tech.) We began with a tour of the new M-26, minus the curves, that is being built between South Range and Trimountain. The changed landscape is impressive, and they've moved a lot of earth.

We toured Painesdale, where my mother was born, and a garage has replaced her old house. She didn't seem to mind, since she knew the people who lived there now, and she began rattling off names of neighbors and the stories of growing up as a Jeffers Jet. We continued to Seeberville, a "suburb" beyond the long curve of M-26 south of Painesdale. We'd often heard of Seeberville, but never saw it: First Street down below, and Second Street, on a hill above it, four or five houses on each street. She told us how they played down in the ravines, "sledding" down the hills on cardboard or plastic.

Next we hit Baltic, a suburb of South Range. We were looking for my dad's boyhood home, which has been gone for many years with only the foundation remaining. Trees have grown in the vacant lots, and we did find a couple of foundations, but weren't able to recall which one it was. On the other end of South Range, one of my cousins has built a new home, and he's anxious to return home after working for one of the Big Three automakers in Detroit (or, with Toyota now, do we say "Big Four"?).

Finally, we toured Dodgeville, and my step-dad recounted the days of skiing, with barrel staves, down the rock piles left from the mines. He recalled smelling the air of one of the local mines and leaving his job downstate to return underground. "Once it gets in your blood . . . ," he said.  He would spend the next several decades working in mines from Ironwood to East Hancock, where he helped reopen that mine for Tech.

I love to hear the old stories, and I hope my children will appreciate them some day, too. (And maybe drive us around.) It's important to remember where you come from, and I have taken my family back to my old neighborhood in Detroit to show them the area that helped shape me. I hope they do the same sometime with their children, and they remember the foundations that built the family.

Perhaps you alums share similar stories of your "old haunts" with your children, including your days at Tech.


ALUMNI BULLETIN BOARD: Remember the alumni bulletin board for you to use for discussions related to this newsletter, Tech sports, or anything else: <http://www.admin.mtu.edu/pps-cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl>

At Tech

BUTVILAS TO CHAIR MICHIGAN TECH FUND BOARD: George Butvilas, vice chairman of Republic Bancorp and a longtime supporter of Michigan Tech, has been elected chair of the Michigan Tech Fund Board. In addition to chairing the board, which oversees the university's fundraising operations, Butvilas chairs the board's Managing Directors and its Major Gifts Committee. He has also served as chair of the Investment and Finance Committee. "George brings to us extensive experience on the board and a highly disciplined approach to its business," said Shea McGrew, vice president for advancement and president of the Michigan Tech Fund. Already he is providing me with sound advice as we position the Tech Fund to support Tech's new strategic plan." Butvilas is vice chairman of the board of Republic Bancorp in Ann Arbor. A native of Chicago, Butvilas graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1967 with a degree in mechanical engineering and served seven years in the Navy, including 13 months in Vietnam. He earned an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard in 1989.


THIRD ANNUAL BACK TO SCHOOL EVENT: The Keweenaw Chapter of Michigan Tech Alumni is hosting a social and tour of the newly renovated Wadsworth Hall, Wednesday, June 7, 2006. The social begins in the Wads Cafeteria (East Side), there is a wine and cheese reception from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and tours begin at 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. RSVPs are appreciated but not required to Kim Klender <ksklende(at)mtu.edu>  or (906)487-3674.


Tech Sports

MORE INFO ON 2007 AND 2008 U.S. CROSS-COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS-- As mentioned previously in TechAlum, Tech will host the U.S. Cross-Country Championships for the next two seasons. The event, which debuts at the Tech Trails for the first time Jan. 3-7, 2007, will likely bring over 400 skiers from over 30 collegiate teams and a wide variety of club programs from across the country.

"We are really looking forward to hosting the Cross-Country Championships," said third-year head coach Joe Haggenmiller. "After traveling east or west for many years it will be great to spend the holidays right here at home." Houghton and Michigan Tech hosted the cross-country Junior Olympics last season and were chosen over two other sites bidding for the championships. Disabled cross-country races will also be part of the national championships races in Houghton.

"The organizers in Houghton just wrapped-up one of our best-ever Junior Olympic championships, and the response from the coaches and teams was overwhelming," U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said. "With such high-quality organizers waiting to bring the championships back to the Midwest, the choice was clear. They have the trails, they have the facilities, and they have a great organizing committee led by guys like Mike Abbott, Jim Tervo, and Jack Jeffery...and a community eager to bring the races to their town."

The championships will be split in two with the short distance races in Houghton and longer distance title events in the spring at a site to be determined.

The 2007 schedule in Houghton:

Jan. 3--Men's 10 kilometer and women's 5 kilometer classic technique
Jan. 4--Men's 15 kilometer and women's 10 kilometer freestyle technique
Jan. 6--Sprint CL
Jan. 7--Team Sprint FR

The longer races--men's 30 kilometer pursuit (15 kilometer CL and 15 kilometer FR) and women's 15 kilometer pursuit (7.5+7.5) as well as the men's 50 kilometer and women's 30 kilometer freestyle--will be held in the spring.

The last U.S. championships in the Midwest were in January 1992 at Giants Ridge, Minnesota, and doubled as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Albertville, France.



Saturday, June 24: Men's Basketball Golf Outing, Portage Lake Golf Course, 11:45 a.m.

August 3-5: Volleyball Alumni Reunion http://www.volleyballreunion.mtu.edu

Around the Keweenaw

TOWNSHIP TABLES BOND FALLS ZONING: Residents and recreational users of Bond Falls Flowage will wait one more month to learn if the rezoning of residential areas around the lake will allow for docks, or whether their environmental concerns are addressed in zoning guidelines. During a somewhat heated Interior Township meeting and public hearing, board members weighed the protection of the lake environment with potential economic benefits to the community in giving new land developers Naterra Land a free rein on 960 acres around the lake, which the developer recently purchased from the Upper Peninsula Power Company. Half of the land on the east side falls under Interior Township and will be subject to a new zoning ordinance being drafted by the township. Its recommendations will also be forwarded to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the regulating body for both the UPPCO project and private lands around the lake. Planning Commission Chairman Dale Schmeisser suggested tabling a decision on whether the current Forestry-Recreation District (F-R) should be reclassified under a new Lake-Residential District (L-R) on the grounds that key issues have yet to be decided.

Minimum lot sizes, and allowance of removable docks on the lake, are among those issues. "We have in the board and we have in the community, differences of how liberal that should be," said Schmeisser. The board agreed to table the issue, after a 50/50 vote to accept the document as is. Environmental and practical concerns were among comments voiced by the board and public on whether the township should recommend that FERC allow private or group docks for some 500 homes planned for the site. "The water fluctuates and sometimes it's two, three feet a day," said present lake landowner James Rein. "Docks aren't practical out there," agreed board member Fred Sliger. Zoning changes will be adopted at the next meeting, which will not be a public hearing.


TWO COUNTY COMMISSION RACES CONTESTED: The deadline for filing for placement on the August 8 primary election ballot was May 16, and although three of the incumbents on the Houghton County Board of Commissioners will be unopposed, one will face a challenge and one open seat is being sought by three candidates. Houghton County Clerk Mary Schoos said the only seats being contested are for current outgoing-Chairman Mike Lahti who is running for state representative and Paul Luoma in District 5. John Condon, who is seeking Lahti's District 3 seat as a Republican, said he's been involved in local politics for many years, and was on the Hancock City Council. "I've always been interested in good government and good money control," Condon said. Anton Pintar, of South Range, who is also running for Lahti's seat, as a Democrat, said Lahti has been doing a good job in the position and he wants to make certain that quality is maintained. "I thought the county board deserved the talents of Mike Lahti," Pintar said. "I thought I could fit the bill." Incumbent Democrat Paul Luoma of District 5 will face a challenge from Republican Matthew Huuki of Stanton Township. The unchallenged incumbents are Ed Jenich in District 1, Dennis Barrette in District 2 and Scott Ala in District 4.


BATTLE CONTINUES OVER MINE APPLICATION: Groups opposing a proposed sulfide-mining project in the Yellow Dog Plains say they'll keep campaigning, even though a petition to halt the permit application by Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company has failed. The State of Michigan's Office of Administrative Hearings denied a 60-page petition filed on behalf of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve Inc., and the Huron Mountain Club last week. Still, the groups say the application submitted by Kennecott to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is incomplete. "We've just filed an appeal," said Cynthia Pryor, a Big Bay resident and executive director for YDWP. Pryor said despite a decision by a judge in Ingham County to "put a stay on the petition," she'll continue to support the opinion that Kennecott's application for sulfide mining on the plains is "deficient and administratively incomplete," failing to guarantee the protection of local people and environment in the area. "YDWP will continue to push for the high bar that was intended with the new statute that Michigan put in place, to regulate this potentially very damaging type of mining," she said.

New House Bill 6243 passed in late December regarding nonferrous metal mining in the state calls for four new requirements: an environmental impact study, a reclamation and environmental protection plan, a contingency plan and financial assurance. An appeal to be filed with Ingham County Circuit Court will state that the application is missing numerous documents and information required by the mining statutes. Jon Cherry, manager of environmental and governmental affairs for Kennecott, argues the permit application was designed to specifically address the statute and the rules. The controversial proposed operation would mine primarily nickel, copper, and other metals from a small, rich deposit about 25 miles northwest of Marquette and about 10 miles southwest of Big Bay. The entry site is 2,400 feet away from the Salmon Trout River. Opposing groups like the YDWP and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community are also worried about the risks from impacts of sulfuric acid, formed when oxygen, water and sulfide combine. For more information, visit <www.yellowdogwatershed.org>, <www.kennecottminerals.com > and follow links to the eagle project, or go to <www.michigan.gov/deq>.

From the E-mailbag

Dennis -
Just read the latest TechAlum and had to write. So much has changed since I graduated from Tech in 1994, but I swear I feel closer to college age than to 40!  Back then we were thrilled to be able to email our other college friends and talk in chat rooms through the "gopher" hole created by the Univ of Minnesota. The World Wide Web, widely used email, and the Internet as we know it, was just around the corner.

Thanks for making me feel old, but thanks for keeping us all up date and in touch with Tech and Houghton. I am very proud to have graduated from there and make sure that others know how great a school it is!

Jennifer (Crenshaw) Smelker
Environmental Engineering '94


Hi Dennis,
Now that the roundabout frenzy has died down I'd like to reopen the topic with a slight modification:  the Michigan Left. I've driven roundabouts in several European countries and in the Middle East, and have seen a couple in the USA.  For the most part these worked well, although it is true that the European and Middle Eastern drivers grew up using them, so they had a leg up on my roundabout driving skills. However, after living many years in New Mexico, I've returned to spend my retirement in Michigan, only to find that a new style of strangeness has been introduced into the driving spectrum: the Michigan Left.

Am I the only one who finds this thing strange and inefficient?  This morning I had the opportunity of stopping and starting four (4) times instead of just once in making a single left turn. This caused me to brake 4 times, to sit at idle 4 separate times, to accelerate to road speed 4 times. How is that efficient?  Has anyone calculated the fuel cost in such maneuvers? Or considered that accidents in traffic occur with greater frequency at points of congestion, such as at traffic lights?

I can hardly believe that accidents are reduced by the use of this device, and certainly the fuel cost must be increased considerably. Why, then, is this method being used here in Michigan? I am a newbie here, so I must have missed something.  Anybody?

John Gonser
Eng. Physics 1958


This is response to the article in the May 30, 2006 "TechAlum News" titled "Cougars in Michigan? "

For what it's worth and to add one more story to the lore, I'm convinced that I saw a cougar on M95 47 years ago!

During the summer of 1959 (between my junior and senior years) I had an intern job with the CCI doing geological surveys. That summer the job was in Iron Mountain, and I lived in Ishpeming, so I had a room in IM and would commute home on the weekends. On Mondays I would leave Ishpeming around sunrise to get to the job on time. One morning I was southbound on M98 about half the way between US41 and Iron Mountain when this large black or dark brown cat crossed the highway in front of me in two leaps. To assure myself that I wasn't 'seeing things' in the early morning light, I stopped and walked up the roadside bank to where this animal had entered the woods. Sure enough, there were large cat-like prints in the sandy soil on the brow of the bank.

That summer I was working with a geology professor from the University of Michigan; when I got to our meeting point I told him my story. That evening he contacted knowledgeable individuals at the university who confirmed that there had been sightings of cougars in the U.P. for many years, seemingly on a seven-year cycle.

So, I'm convinced they existed in the U.P. back then, and probably still do.

George DeRoche
ME '60


Dennis: My late mother, an outdoor writer of note in the U.P., explained to me once why the DNR continues to insist against all credible evidence that there are no cougars in the U.P. If they are forced to admit the existence of cougars, then the Endangered Species Act requires that they draft a Plan for to manage the population. Endangered species management plans under the ESA can be extremely onerous and detrimental to the economic wellbeing of the "range" of the critter being "protected." In the case at hand, the "range" would likely be most of the Western UP, and what the US Fish & Wildlife Service would require in the way of protection would tank what little economy is left up there (outside of snow plow operations and education). It is probably better for all parties concerned, especially the cougars themselves, that they be left alone to recover their population in their own way. There are enough wild areas in the Western UP to support many individuals and mating pairs.

Pete Dohms, '67


Dennis, the gas prices have definitely impacted my snowmobiling activities in the UP of Michigan. I live in southeastern Ohio and I have made 8-10 trips a year to Northern Lower Michigan or the UP for the past 8 years. Last year was the first year I in which I only made 4 trips. Gasoline costs just to trailer the snowmobiles from Ohio to MI costs $400-$450 for a round trip. Once arriving at our destination, fuel further enters the picture when we ride our snowmobiles, easily burning $150 - $200 in fuel with 3 sleds on the weekend. Lodging has become inexpensive--even inconsequential--in comparison.

I am already looking for closer destinations, despite the fact that "there is no place like home." I hate to compromise and put up with the rules, restrictions, and even worse weather in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but high fuel prices are making it impossible to snowmobile in Michigan. I may find a way to store my snowmobiles in the UP or buy a cheap cabin to avoid having to drive the truck and haul.

:-)  Jarrod
Jarrod W. Rominske, P.E., Control Systems Engineer


I may be wrong but I thought 1966 was the first year that Michigan Tech changed from MCMT to Michigan Tech. You stated it was 1964. I mention this because I graduated in 1966 and have always believed that I was in the first class to graduate as an Michigan Tech grad. Never the less, I'm proud to be a graduate of Michigan Tech.

Fred Roman - BSME '66

Editor's Note: Reviewing the centennial history book, our name changed to Michigan Technological University in late 1963. Perhaps they used the new name for the first time on diplomas in 1966. Can other alums shine light on this one?

Alumni Association Programs

ALL CHAPTER EVENTS: For more information on alumni chapter events, e-mail mtu_alumni(at)mtu.edu or see the alumni chapter site on the web: http://www.admin.mtu.edu/alumni/chapters/usamap.html

7 - Keweenaw Alumni Chapter Back to School Event, Wads Hall, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
10 - Detroit Annual Golf Outing

14 - Saginaw Annual Golf Outing

3-5 - Alumni Reunion
5 - Grand Rapids Whitecaps Alumni Event
12 - East Coast Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show

Job Opportunities This Week

ON CAMPUS: Complete job descriptions are available by e-mailing jobs at mtu.edu

Research Associate--School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (Position duration dependent upon external funding)

Campus Visit Coordinator--Admissions

Regional Admissions Manager--Admissions (Regular, full-time, nine-month position based in Southwest Lower Michigan area)

Regional Admissions Manager--Admissions (Regular, full-time, nine-month position based in North Central/Northeast Wisconsin area)

OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site ( http://www.career.mtu.edu/alumni.php)