Jack Hall Blog
ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 26, 2014-2:52 A.M.
So much for that 1 or 2 inches of snow that we were supposed to get here in Escanaba Monday night and early Tuesday. How about EIGHT?
Yep, that's what we got, and schools were forced to close.
The rest of the U.P. laughs at us Banana Belt folks, though.
Some of those communities have dealt with several feet of snow already, and it's only November! This photo is from 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, and I should've known then that it would be more than "an inch or two of slush", as I was told by our meteorolgists.

Well, I have to say that the road crews did a nice job of getting the main roads cleared. I drove from Escanaba to Iron Mountain late Tuesday afternoon for the Escanaba Eskymos hockey game against Kingsford and had no issues at all with the road conditions.

By the way, the Eskymos won that hockey game, 4-2. Pretty sloppy performance, but a win is a win. I have posted my game story, photos, videos, and audio at www.rrnsports.com .

---later, Jack

No, I am not in Ferguson, Missouri.

But I posted my commentary that way to get your attention. I am completely embarrassed, disgusted, sad, and outraged at what I have seen happen in that town tonight. Numerous businesses being looted.

Some set on fire, like the Little Caesar's Pizza store in this photo from CBS News.

CNN reporters being hit in the head by rocks? This, my friends, is America at is worst.
These thugs decided ahead of time that they would raise hell if a Missouri Grand Jury decided not to authorize criminal charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
You will recall that Wilson shot and killed teenager Michael Brown back in August, moments after Brown was seen on video robbing a convenience store.
The fact that the officer was white and the suspect was black made this a big deal nationally.
And people like Al Sharpton have used this incident to say that blacks are being profiled and murdered by white police officers. What a bunch of crap.
The color of the person's skin should not even be relevant. The late Rev. Martin Luther King would be the first to say that!

But there they were, for weeks, on the discpicable MSNBC and other media outlets, pushing this narrative that because the suspect was black and the officer was white, that this was a racial murder. And they demanded action! Well, when the grand jury (of both white and black people) decided that the officer was justified in shooting Brown, these thugs took advantage.

How does stealing a bottle of gin from a liquor store, or breaking into O'Reilly Auto Parts and McDonalds, have anything to do with "getting justice for Michael"?

How does setting fire to police cars and other local businesses do anything positive? Did those actions bring this kid back to life from his grave? No.

All it did was show that these people are animals. Criminals who will take advantage of a situation to steal, destroy property, and to burn down their own town. As an American, it was completely heartbreaking to see this happen on TV tonight. It showed us at our worst.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 21, 2014-1:28 A.M.
It's a big weekend for high school sports across the Upper Peninsula. We have four football teams who have worked hard all season and are still alive for state championships!

The Superior Dome will be rocking for three huge state semifinal games, with the winners going on to Ford Field for the state finals Thanksgiving weekend. Munising hasn't been this far since 1980, but the Mustangs will face Beal City Friday night at 7:00 in a Division Eight semifinal.
Munising's declining enrollment dicated that it get out of the bruising Mid Peninsula Conference. Yes, some may criticize the Mustangs' drop to the Mid-Eastern against smaller schools, but the fact is, Munising's enrollment is now similiar and the move made football relevant again.

Also Friday, in eight-man football, the Cedarville Trojans will take on Deckerville in the state championship game down in Greenville. It will be cold, and windy, but the Trojans have a pretty good chance at winning their first state football championship, after so many early exits.

But that's as far as the "Cinderella stories" go. The Ishpeming Hematites and Menominee Maroons are back in the semifinals, having gone undefeated yet again.
Ishpeming is the two-time defending state champions, and the guys will play Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Saturday at 2:00 at the Dome. The Hematites are so well-coached by Jeff Olson, and the kids run his system so well, and the huge crowd will be there supporting them, so I feel that Ishpeming will find a way to win, and then face Detroit Loyola next week for a third time.
And Menominee continues to be solid, even after the retirement of long-time Coach Ken Hofer. But the Maroons have lost to Grand Rapids West Catholic in the playoffs four straight years? Can the fifth time be the charm? We find out Saturday morning.

I, personally, will miss all of those games. That's because the Escanaba High School hockey team opens its season this weekend, and I will be there to broadcast the games! The Eskymos will play Alpena Friday night at 7:00 and Saturday at 1:00. Hope you tune in to both games on AM-600 and rrnsports.com. Friday's game will also be on Kool 105.5 FM!!
U.P. POWER!!!!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 20, 2014-1:39 A.M.
This kind of stuff really pisses me off. A woman has reported being raped on the campus of Michigan Tech University. This MTU Police announcement came Wednesday evening:

Attention: A crime has been reported on campus.

Attention. A crime has been reported on campus and Michigan Tech wants the campus community to be aware of the incident. This message is intended to heighten your safety awareness and provide you with information to take appropriate precautions.
On Nov, 19, 2014 at 1:05 p.m., Public Safety and Police Services received a tip through the emergency tipline that a sexual assault occurred between 8:30 and 9 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2014.
A female Michigan Tech student, walking away from the library, was assaulted outside the Walker Arts and Humanities Center. The suspect is described as a white male in his late 20's, approximately 5'11", with brownish-reddish hair, blue-green eyes, a pierced left ear, a goatee and a broad build.
The suspect was also described as having a graffiti-type tattoo on his left forearm and a very deep voice. The suspect was last seen wearing jeans with holes, a black t-shirt, black snow hat and a checkered blue and white jacket.
Please increase your overall safety by being cautious, aware of your surroundings and walking with a trusted friend or co-worker, particularly after dark. Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact Public Safety and Police services, 906-487-2216. You can report information anonymously at www.mtu.edu/tips.
Anyone who takes advantage of a woman in this manner is scum, in my opinion. I know several kids from our area who currently attend Michigan Tech. I hope that they are OK, and they make sure that they protect their personal safety.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 19, 2014-2:12 A.M.
The high school volleyball season is over here in the Upper Peninsula.
That's because the Stephenson Eagles and Calumet Copper Kings were both eliminated by downstate teams in the state quarterfinals Tuesday night at Manistique High School.

We are used to Calumet making it this far, and beyond, in Class C. What an outstanding program they have built up there in the Frozen Tundra. But Tuesday night, Roscommon was in control, winning a trip to the Final Four by scores of 17-25, 10-25, 13-25.

Then, in Class D, the Stephenson Eagles (pictured) had an equally tough time with Onaway, falling by scores of 15-25, 15-25, 17-25. But what a great season it was for the Stephenson girls. They are by far the smallest school in the Great Northern Conference, but the Eagles went 9-1 against Marquette, Escanaba, Kingsford, Menominee, and Gladstone.'
Then the Stephenson girls won a district title, and then beat powerhouse Forest Park to win a regional championship. The whole community rallied around the girls. I congratulate Coach Johnson and the Eagles...as well as the Calumet girls...on great volleyball seasons!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 18, 2014-1:35 A.M.
These are great times to be a Michigan Tech University Huskies fan.

The MTU football and hockey teams are doing big things that are leading to national attention for this small school that sits on the snowed-in Keweenaw Peninsula.
The Tech football team went 9-1 this season and, for just the second time in school history, made it to the NCAA-II playoffs. And this time, a team from Texas gets to come all the way up to Sherman Field to face the Huskies in a playoff game this Saturday.
Yep, the Angelo State Rams will get to enjoy the cold Lake Superior winds (and maybe a few pasties, too) for a noon kickoff. Tyler Scarlett has had a great year at quarterback for the Huskies, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them win this game!
Meanwhile, the MTU hockey team is off to an outstanding start to its season, which runs into March. Tech is now 10-0 after a couple of tough wins on the road at Bemidji State in Minnesota over the weekend. And on Monday, Michigan Tech was voted #1 in the nation in both of the major polls.
It's great to see Tanner Kero doing so well. I watched him play his high school hockey at Hancock and I saw his skill.
I didn't know if he could go Division One, but obviously, he worked hard to get even better. And now Tech hockey fans are having fun like they did back in the '70s.

Michigan Tech is not an easy school to attend, academically. Kids are expected to go to class, and most of the classes are tough. To see the Huskies doing so well in two high-profile sports, plus the kids doing well in the classroom, well, hats off to them from this NMU graduate.

And by the way...the NMU hockey team isn't chopped liver either. The Wildcats are 6-1-1 and are ranked 17th in the nation!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 17, 2014-2:33 A.M.
I hope that the firearms deer season is off to a good start for those of you who hunt. And even for you who don't hunt, but spend time at "hunting" camp, I hope that you are having fun, too!
Congratulations to the Munising High School football team for winning its first regional championship since 1980. Yep, the Mustangs' 43-14 win over Crystal Falls Forest Park was sweet for the Munising community that saw its boys finish near or last in the Mid Peninsula Conference standings for many years. Now, Munising is in the Mid-Eastern Conference, playing against schools at or near its size. And the Orange and Black have thrived in this league.

Want to give a shout-out to Beau Boden. He is a Gladstone man who is part of the Munising football coaching staff. Glad to see Beau (given name is "Christian" but don't call him that) is having an impact there.
Maybe, someday, Beau can help the Gladstone Braves program get to that level!

Good luck to the Mustangs next Friday night against Beal City in the state semifinals. The Aggies have been a thorn in the side of U.P. teams trying to advance in the playoffs for many years. I hope all of you pack the Superior Dome Friday night at 7:00 to cheer the Munising boys on!

And...it's a state semifinal doubleheader on Saturday at the Dome. Menominee faces Grand Rapids West Catholic at 11:00 a.m., and then Ishpeming plays Saginaw Michigan Lutheran at 2:00. U.P. POWER!!!
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 14, 2014-1:44 A.M.
It seemed like they were a bunch of little kids in search of candy on Halloween.
Our state senators just couldn't wait to rush through the doors of the Capitol building on Thursday for the chance to put their hands inside of our pockets.

They fell all over themselves approving legislation that would nearly double the gasoline tax (and make other changes to truckers' diesel tax) to put more money into road repairs.

And why not? These senators don't have to face you at the ballot box. They freely admit that, too. They are approving this now, with last week's election behind us, instead of doing it back in the summer when you might have been angry enough to vote them out of office.
The ballots haven't even been certified from last week's election yet, and yet there they were, in Lansing, voting to raise our taxes. I would have rather they voted to declare Wednesdays as Spaghetti Day in Michigan. It would have done less harm.

Our state senator, Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) voted in favor of this tax increase. He doesn't have to face the people of the Upper Peninsula again. He has his job for the next four years.

Casperson will tell you that we need to fix our roads, and it is time to stop messing around and do the job, and take the tough votes. He's right. Michigan's roads suck. Casperson is the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He knows the plight of our infrastructure.

But, why didn't Casperson push for "tough votes" last summer, when the People of Michigan could have weighed in at the ballot box, and said "yay" or "neigh"?
I am not naive. I know the political answer to that question.
The Senate waited until the People could do nothing to object. You know something is up when Casperson, well-known as a common sense Republican lawmaker, votes alongside the very liberal Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-Lansing) to raise your taxes. Talk about an unusal alliance.
And that's not all. Where do you think trucking companies will get the money to pay for higher diesel fuel costs? Yep, we may pay more for the goods that they deliver to our stores.
And here's a dirty little secret. In order to get Detroit Democrats to vote for this tax grab, the legislation allows the "flexibility" to use some of this new tax money to expand mass transportation in the Motor City.
Whoa! I thought this was for the roads and bridges of Michigan. Casperson said over and over again on my radio show that the big problem we have was that the gas tax we were already collecting was going to things other than the roads. And now, we would raise the gas tax and have some of it go to the trains and buses in Detroit that already have pots of federal and state money (and private money, as in the M-1 project)?
This, my friends, is crap, and I hope that the state house votes no, and finds a more sensible way of fixing the roads without a huge tax increase that includes carve-outs for Detroit.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 13, 2014-2:11 A.M.
November 15th is a national holiday here in the Upper Peninsula: the start of the firearms deer hunting season. Lots of folks, even non-hunters, are getting ready for Saturday morning!

But November 15th is also the start of another season that effects more than just deer hunters: the second "open enrollment" period for people to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare.
And for those who did sign up last year, it's renewal time for 2015.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my personal health care premiums will be going up by at least 18-percent. For many of you who got indivdual health insurance through healthcare.gov last year, now is the time to get ready. Many of you probably haven't looked yet, but unfortunately, when those renewal bills come in the mail (or E-Mail), it may be disappointing.

Now, I can't speak for every one of you. Some of you may get lucky and your premiums, co-pays, and deductbiles may not change by much. I am just saying that before you do your personal budgets for 2015, wait until you get that health care notice just in case.

Also, many of you still get health insurance from your employer. Be thankful that you do, because many of your neighbors don't have that benefit anymore.
And one other thing: if you chose to say "screw you" to Obamacare and did not buy health insurance at all for 2014, get ready to pay a penalty when you file your tax returns after the first of the year. We heard that it was $95, but it is actually $95 OR 1% of your adjusted gross income, whichever is greater.

So, for someone making $30,000, the fine will be roughly $203...not $95. And those fines go up in 2015, so plan accordingly so you don't have your 2016 tax refund wiped out.
Remember, the IRS cannot attach your wages to collect the ObamaCare penalty, but they can take money away any tax refund that you were planning on getting.

Hopefully, all of you aren't caught by surprise...either by ObamaCare's renewal costs, or by that one deer that walks by your blind when you're not paying attention!
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 12. 2014-2:55 A.M.
Lots of folks around the Upper Peninsula will remember Veterans Day 2014. And not because we had some great ceremomies to remember our veterans, although we did.
No, people will remember the 30 to 36 inches of snow that fell across many areas of the north-central U.P. Places like Negaunee, Ishpeming, Big Bay, Humboldt. All buried under white, frozen water.

These types of storms happen in January or February, not in the days before firearms deer season begins! But, yet, here we are, with so much snow that Marquette County Road Commission staff are so stretched that they needed to call in private contractors to help.
Marquette County Road Commission operations manager Mike Harrington told me that this was basically a nightmate (my word, not his).
He has trucks getting stuck in the wet, heavy snow, and needing other trucks to come rescue them. That kind of thing cuts down on the time that those crews can actually spend on unclogging roads.

It's not just in Marquette County. Roads in Alger County are also clogged. That's why every school district in Marquette and Alger Counties are closed again on Wednesday.
Who would have thought that we'd need two snow days there before the first shot of deer season? People here in southern Delta County can be smug, I guess, since we only got about four inches of snow and slush. But we also still had snow-covered roads, and the Delta County Airport was idled for most of Monday and Tuesday thanks to this winter storm.

The Farmers Almanac warned us. We are all for a long, cold winter!
The pictures I have posted here are from Ishpeming resident Allen Beauvais.
---later, Jack

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