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Understanding Winter

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Understanding Winter by Thomas M. SpringerLooking out the back door of my Michigan farmhouse, I see the morning sun creep above the frosted beige carpet of a soybean field. For a moment, it oozes like a globe of orange jelly between the oaks that stand in silhouette against the field's eastern boundary. Then, freed from the horizon's grasp, it illuminates a ribbon of high clouds in regal shades of gold and tangerine.

It's a fleeting and glorious picture, but you'd never know it by listening to the local radio station. The meteorologist, from his soundproofed cell in an urban office building 25 miles away, can only warn of the --1 degree wind chill. "It's a terribly cold morning," he says, a sentiment echoed by his fellow disc jockey. Both sound petrified by the thought of a normal winter's day in Michigan.    more...


 



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Old Harry Would Like Our Snowless Winter

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While we are finding the lack of snow traumatic this winter, there was a time in the old days when such a winter would have caused our old pal Harry Anderson a lot less consternation.

Harry's gone now. He passed away about a year ago, having survived well into his late 80s. We miss old Harry and the stories he used to tell. Stories of working in the sawmill for $1 a day, farming with horses, cutting ice in the wintertime. But Harry's best story goes like this:

Fifty years ago in Leelanau, so the old timers tell it, the winters were much rougher than what we have today. Whether this is really so or merely the result of memories changing over the course of time is open to debate, but without the modern snow fighting equipment we have now-a-days, it's for sure that the winters back the must have at least seemed tougher.

Anyway, back then few people had their own snow plows, snow blowers were unheard of, and the primary weapon in the war against Old Man Winter was the shovel. Harry drove plow truck for the county in those days; a great big old Osh Kosh monster that roared and belched black smoke as it pushed the snow off the roads.    more...


 



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The Stupid Pursuit of Bay Hockey

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Every winter, the males in our house waited for the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay to freeze, my dad for the ice fishing, my brother and me for the equally stupid pursuit of Bay Hockey. Although Ron once played in a hockey league which held games on an outdoor rink, it didn't matter when he met the rest of us on the ice in front of our house.

Our sport was unlike hockey played in stadia or in adult or youth leagues. The number of players was determined by how many showed up. Goals consisted of rocks or stocking caps placed on the ice. Boundaries were defined by obstacles, such as the shore to one side and pressure cracks to the other, though if the season was young and there were no pressure ridges, a skater could conceivably take the puck to the other side of the Bay in order to escape an opponent. We wore no pads and had no goalie because nobody wanted to play that position. We also had the danger of falling through the ice, in which case the highest priority was to save the puck. A frozen player could always go home to thaw, but a puck lost through the ice could not be retrieved until the next summer.
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Down drain, they remain

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Shampoo, bug spray and that morning cup of java linger in the environment after they're showered off or tossed down the drain, according to the most extensive study of Minnesota waters ever conducted.

Caffeine, synthetic musk used in personal-care products, a flame retardant, an herbicide, the popular insect repellent DEET and other pharmaceuticals, products and chemicals are part of a complex brew being found in waters around the state.

Little is known about the risk from everyday flushing, dumping and pouring out of familiar chemicals that make lives healthier, easier or at least more pleasant-smelling -- especially at the low levels detected. Thirteen of the chemicals, however, are known to disrupt the hormones and sexual development of some fish or other animals, the study found.

Scientists found 74 chemicals at 65 sites across the state. The samples were taken from rivers and streams near municipal water supplies and sewage treatment plants, treated drinking water and water below landfills and livestock lagoons. The study, by three government agencies from late 2000 to 2002, did not attempt to identify the chemicals' sources.   more...

 



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DNR supports ditching three dams

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photoTRAVERSE CITY - A preliminary report recommends leaving the Union Street Dam in place, but says three other Boardman River dams should be removed for environmental and economic reasons.
      "All of these dams degrade cold water fisheries habitat and species and pose a financial burden and/or potential liability problems should the dams fail," the report by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.
      The report is an early draft that still must be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who will decide if dam removal warrants more study. Removal would take five to seven years and cost $7.2 million, with the federal government covering $5 million.
      DNR Fisheries Management biologist Todd Kalish said there isn't enough money to consider Union Street because of the presence of contaminated sediments that would have to be dredged.   more...


 



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County attorney walks the plank

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Muskegon County commissioners accepted the resignation of their corporate counsel, Steve Corwin, last Tuesday, but he may not be the only one to walk the plank in the continuing saga of mutiny on the county.

Commissioners' eyes are now on the man at the helm of county administration, James Borushko, who may be the next to go now that several county commissioners are refuting recent claims by him that he was misled by Corwin on legal advise regarding the Northside Water System.
Borushko's claim was what led to Corwin resigning, but in the hours, even moments, before last Tuesday's county board meeting, commissioners were split over whether to fire Corwin or Borushko over the matter.
Paul Baade, chairman of the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners, said Corwin decided to avoid a divisive showdown in public by offering up his resignation. His only request was for the county to keep his two employees on for at least a year.
"He fell on the sword for us," Baade said.   more...


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Great Lakes are facing gravest challenges ever

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For years, Michigan has been on the short end of the stick in terms of money returned here by the federal government compared to taxes received by the feds.

Circumstance as much as politics is to blame for this. States with military bases, for example, tend to fare better in the competition for federal dollars by virtue of the implicit need for funding.

Yet an equal case can now certainly be made for increased efforts to rescue the Great Lakes -- perhaps the nation's greatest natural resource as well as a source of clean water for tens of millions -- which is literally under assault by a host of foreign invaders.   more...

 



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She Sails Again

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As he sailed into harbor with his ship full of goods, Oliver Williams could see the American flag flying over Fort Mackinac. It was a ruse. The island was in British hands. The War of 1812 had started.

The British confiscated his ship, the Friends Good Will, renamed her H.M. Sloop Little Belt, and armed her with three cannons. Williams and his crew became prisoners of war.

Now she sails again. The Michigan Humanities Council has funded a replica of the ship to help schoolchildren understand Michigan's role in that long-ago war.

Williams had moved to the territory from Massachusetts in 1808 to open a dry goods store. Two years later he decided to expand his business and built a ship to transport goods from Buffalo via Lake Erie to Detroit. The system proved profitable-until the summer of 1812 when Friends Good Will was taken at the Fort Mackinac.   more...

 



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Give Dirty Dogs for the Holidays!

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The crew at Dirty Dog is supporting your Holiday Shopping with a 50% off Exclusive Deal to SA readers only!! Give Dirty Dogs for the Holidays! Upon checkout at DD, enter promo code SA101 and you'll get 50% off your purchase price. This special is only good until 11/30 and is good for all non sale items at dirtydog.com...Guaranteed Delivery by 12/15!!

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Lakefront proposal gets mixed reaction

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Grand plans to invigorate Cleveland's dreary lakefront landed with a thud in a sliver of Ohio City this week.

The city's redevelopment vision for eight miles of lakefront, displayed at three public meetings, showed a hunk of favored green space - north of Detroit Avenue from West 29th to West 38th streets on the city's near West Side - lost to commercial development,

The possibility of losing some of the lake vistas and greenery at "Dogbone Park," so called because of its shape, drew indignation.

"That patch of green is a sacred place," said Joe Mazzola, executive director of the Ohio City Near West Development Corp. "People are investing in projects near there based on those vistas being maintained."    more...

 



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Ferry's triumphs lighten up the gloom

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With all the rough weather along the way, Rochester's high-speed ferry project has been anything but a breeze.

But ferry supporters would rather focus on what went right with the Spirit of Ontario — the successes, they say, that prove a Rochester-to-Toronto ferry is a viable business that will prosper here one day:

Canadian American Transportation Systems carried 140,000 passengers on its massive ferry in less than three months. Canadians rode the ship here and explored Rochester. The city rebuilt its port. And passengers raved about the experience.   more...

 



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Michigan gets terror fight technology

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PORT HURON -- It would behoove Osama Bin Laden to stay away from this Michigan city when trying to infiltrate the United States.

The border town was one of three cities that unfurled the latest in terrorism-fighting technology Monday.

But critics have already labeled the $700 million program, which takes photos and fingerprints of some foreign visitors, a hornswaggle.

They say it will be too expensive, too shortsighted and too ineffective. The only people it will impede from crossing the border, critics said, are travelers and business people.    more...

 



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Frank Lloyd Wright Home Demolished

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Fallingwater it was not: From its wind-stripped shingles to an embarrassing overgrowth of weeds and bramble, the erstwhile beach house on Lake Michigan's shore did little to declare itself a creation of the architectural luminary Frank Lloyd Wright.

But that was no reason, say those who would preserve all of Wright's structures, to smash it into oblivion.

The 88-year-old beach house came tumbling down last week - the first Wright building to meet such a fate in more than 30 years - to make way for a four-bedroom home with a two-car garage. The last Wright structure to come down was Milwaukee's Arthur Munkwitz Apartments in 1973.   more...

 



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Enwave puts a chill on towering costs

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Enwave Energy Corp., the company that is revolutionizing the way major downtown Toronto office buildings are heated and cooled, is about to take another giant step forward. It hopes to use the steam it generates for heating office buildings to create electricity as well.

Enwave's target is the co-generation of 40 megawatts of power by the end of the decade. Not only will it install steam-driven turbines at two of its three downtown heating plants but it also hopes to persuade major heating customers such as the Toronto-Dominion Centre to install small 100- to 300-kilowatt generators in their basements as well.   more...

 



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Won't sign Great Lakes water deal, Ontario says

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The Ontario government has refused to sign draft agreements that seek to preserve the Great Lakes, insisting the proposed deals were not strong enough to protect water from being siphoned out.

As Canadian and U.S. negotiators were sitting down in Chicago yesterday, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay announced that the province would not sign the current drafts of the Great Lakes Charter Annex after they met with a cool reception with environmentalists and First Nations groups during public consultations over the past three months.   more...

 



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