Document signing of great importance to local vets

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette During a ceremonial document signing for the creation of the Douglass Houghton Falls Veterans Scenic Site, Staci Haughey of the DNR holds the document while falls property owner Jim Kuusisto signs the transfer of ownership to the DNR.

CALUMET TOWNSHIP — The ceremonial document signing for the creation of the Douglass Houghton Falls Veterans Scenic Site took place at the Calumet Colosseum Thursday morning.

“Today we have come together for a signing ceremony,” said Staci Haughey, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Upper Peninsula coordinator, “between the DNR and Mr. Kuusisto, who has been a caretaker of this beautiful place. We appreciate the time each of you has taken out of your busy life to join us here, to witness this historic moment.”

Jim Kuusisto, owner of the falls, and Deputy Public Information Officer of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, John Pepin, signed the document before a full military color guard.

State Representative Scott Dianda was on-hand for the ceremony, and thanked Kuusisto for the park, and for his military service to the country.

“We are here to celebrate something that is so (historic), and it means so much to our state of Michigan, and our residents and of this county, and also to our country,” Dianda said.

“It is so very important that we thank every one of our veterans who are here today,” he went on to say, “because this is the only reason we could do this. We’re in a free country, because of you veterans that are always there to protect us. That’s why we have this beautiful piece of land that we can say is going to be our next attraction to Michigan.”

Kuusisto, who himself is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and a former classmate of Staff Sgt. Kipina, said that the falls becoming a veterans’ site has deep meaning to him.

“It does, yes,” he said. “This was one of the critical bargaining points in this whole deal. It seems everybody wasn’t in favor of it, but when you have the right people in favor of it, well, it’s turning out great.”

Haughey said that the site will remain closed to the public while the DNR plans the best way to make the site accessible to the public.

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