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Houghton home to geological sites

Online index to help visitors, residents learn about area

October 11, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - The Houghton City Council heard a plan Wednesday night for creating a set of geological interpretive sites in the city.

Retired Michigan Technological University geological professor Bill Rose spoke to the council about the plan. Although completed by interpretive signs, the sites would be largely centered around technology, such as GPS for geocaching, or bar codes that would allow visitors to access material about the site on their smartphones.

"The idea is you bike across the city, you find a prize, which is something to learn about the local earth science," he said. "We think this will engage students and help them learn about the earth, and about the city, and about the natural history."

Initially, there will be about 30 sites in Houghton. Rose said he chose Houghton to start with because of its history of commitment to such projects. Eventually, the goal is to have several hundred sites in the Keweenaw, including on Isle Royale National Park.

So far, Rose said, City Manager Scott MacInnes has helped move boulders into the city, including one at the Carnegie Museum. The city may also be help to help them make a plan for signage, and provide some help with some of the less accessible sites, Rose said.

Rose said the sites would be findable online through indexes for geocaching and earthcaching, a more academically minded variant.

"We like this, because it teaches students and teachers the value of locations, and visualization," he said. "We like to read rocks, we like to read landscapes, so knowing where you are is vital ... plus it seems to make people get in the mindset of a treasure hunt. They just find it infectious. It helps them learn."

For more information on the sites, go to

In other action, the council:

heard a report from Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner. The floor is finished in the Dee Stadium ballroom. Fall paving has been done on Ridge Road and Razorback Drive and Huron Street; crews are now working on the next phase of Vivian Street. The bottom block of Fourth Street is being worked on to remedy blacktop damage from the storm sewer. Work on the lakefront parking deck is 99 percent complete for the year. A final walkthrough of the deck will be done next week. There will be partial closures of the ramp for work on the brick wall, 90 percent of which will be replaced.

heard a report from Police Chief John Donnelly. Since the previous meeting, there were 127 complaints, 13 misdemeanors, one felony, 11 civic infractions and two city tickets. The Tech homecoming parade will take place at 4 p.m. Friday; the route goes down Shelden Avenue and Quincy Street to Lakeshore Drive and the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.

heard a downtown report from MacInnes. Consultant Denise Hanson visited the downtown again. In addition to her work with the state, she agreed to work on a survey for the downtown independently. MacInnes also asked her to be "a second set of eyes" to critique the downtown. A city marketing intern from Finlandia University is working on a wayfinding sign.

heard a water-sewer project update from Zenner. A new map with updated progress should hopefully be on the city website by January.

heard a FinnFest update from MacInnes. A programming outline is being formed. Area hotels are already booked or close to booked.

heard a Michigan Municipal League update from MacInnes.

heard an RV Park update from MacInnes. The park made $68,638 last year, up from $62,073 last year.

approved an ordinance defining backflow and adopting state cross connection rules for the protection of the water supply.

set a public hearing on an ordinance regarding ATV use in the city for Oct. 24.

approved payment of $644,793.87 for invoices and expenses from the water and sewer project. The funds will be drawn down from Rural Development through the 2012 Sewage Disposal Project Construction Fund.

approved up to $5,000 for the purchase of tables and chairs for Dee Stadium. The money will come from the TV Franchise fund.

approved a resolution which removed retired Clerk Kurt Kuure as signatory.

approved letting the Keweenaw Roller Girls, a new roller derby league, hold a bake sale downtown from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Nov. 2 and 3, contingent upon the approval of nearby businesses. Councilor Gernot Joachim voted against the measure, citing possible disruption for Douglass House residents.

went into closed session to discuss a property purchase. No action was taken.



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