Jack Hall Blog
ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 20, 2015-12:07 A.M.
Busy week for me, filling in for Susie on the morning show news on Magic 97 and Moose Country 102.5. Plus, also doing my normal afternoon news job of writing/editing the next day's news stories, and in the evening, getting the latest sports news on our RRNSports.com site.

So, I missed my blog the last few nights. Sorry about that. Just want to give a quick shoutout to the North Central High School Jets football team, who will play in the Eight-Man State Championship Game downstate in Greenville Friday night. I went down to Greenville with the Rapid River Rockets a few years back, and I can tell you that the Jets will have a blast there.

Back here in Escanaba, it feels a lot more like winter. After temperatures in the 50's and even near 60 this week, the temperatures fell like a rock Thursday, and the very high winds made it feel pretty brisk. The winds knocked down this large tree at the Lakeview Cemetary in downtown Escanaba Thursday afternoon. Have a good weekend everyone!
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---NOVEMBER 17, 2015-2:26 A.M.
The terrorist attacks in France last Friday night are still being felt here, as Monday turns to Tuesday across the Upper Peninsula. Dozens of my Facebook friends have switched their profile pictures to show the colors of the French flag...white, blue, and red.
And, I have seen many people make comments about the horror of those terrorist attacks, and maybe, just maybe, they see the true fact that we are at war.
President Obama continues to operate in a "World of Make Believe". He spoke on Monday, AGAIN, that we are not at war against Islam.
Well, sir, what do you think these people represent? Hindus? Budduhists?

On a happier note, the firearms deer season is under way here in the Upper Peninsula. And the weather has been nice, with daytime temperatures in the 50's. Below I have posted photos from the Michigan DNR from Opening Day, including 8-year-old Owen LaBonte of Wilson.

Thank God we have deer season, to at least counter the pain of what happens elsewhere. Scroll below to see those photos that the DNR sent to us. Love Deer Hunting Season!!
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 16, 2015-1:00 A.M.
Word started to trickle in to the Radio Results Network newsroom late Friday afternoon that there were shootings and bombings in Paris, France.
We knew that there had been bloodshed there, but as I left the office to attend the North Central High School football team's state semifinal game in Powers, we didn't know just how bad it all was.

We now know that at least 140 people were murdered and nearly 400 others were injured in a series of six terrorist attacks at a concert hall, soccer stadium, restaurant, and shopping center. The terrorist group ISIS gleefully took responsibility for the carrnage. The French president vowed revenge, and indeed, on Sunday, France bombed ISIS locations in Syria.

The question is: what will the United States do about this? President Obama has been trying to play the whole ISIS situation carefully, starting from when he famously referred to the group as "the JV team". It would appear that he is out of touch and has no idea what he is doing, but I have to believe that this is not the case. As much as I have been a critic of Obama's policies, I must have faith that the people around him will strongly suggest that the USA act.

These people beheaded Americans and burned them alive in cages. We didn't do much about it. Now, this horror, along with the bombing of a Russian airliner that killed more than 200 people, should lead the United States, Britain, Russia, and France to team up and exterminate these people. Because that's what you do to cock roaches. Exterminate them.
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 13. 2015-1;44 A.M.
It's Friday the 13th. So, who will have the "bad luck" during tonight's Eight-Man football state semifinal game in Powers between the North Central Jets and Cedarville Trojans?

The Jets are undefeated at 11-0, and ranked #1 in the state. They have mercied every team they have played this season, including Stephenson and Rapid River twice each. NCA quarterback Jason Whitens is talented (and this isn't even his best sport, basketball is!).
But Whitens has plenty of help in Bobby Kleiman, Brett Baird, and Dawson Bilski. And that doesn't even take into account the great play of the Jets' offensive and defensive lines.

Cedarville, though, has a great program on the east end of the U.P. The Trojans beat another undefeated team, Posen, last week, in overtime. The Trojans have a history of being very competitive. But the Baker, Wellnitz and Eberts boys are gone. NCA wins here, easily.

Also this weekend, Ishpeming hosts McBain in Division Seven, and Menominee hosts Grand Rapids West Catholic in Division Five. The Hematites will have a tough battle from McBain, but should win by a touchdown. And as for Menominee, well, the Maroons are facing the West Catholic team that has knocked them out of the playoffs several times in recent years.

This time, I go with Menominee, by eight, as they finally have West Catholic at home.

And that brings me to Crystal Falls Forest Park against St. Ignace in Division Eight. The heart goes with St. Ignace, as the Saints have played so hard in the wake of the death of teammate Mitch Snyder at the hands of a suspected drunk driver. Quarterback Gage Kreski is as good as they come, and he has plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the ball.

But the FP Trojans are still the FP Trojans. They lost two games early on, but I have warned everyone that they would be a force in the post-season. The Trojans beat very good Lake Linden-Hubbell and Bark River-Harris teams that many viewed as upsets.

Not me. I give the edge to Forest Park this weekend over an emotional Saints team. I give CFFP the win by ten points. We will see how it all goes! Good luck to all of the kids!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 12, 2015-1:10 A.M.
I've been on vacation this week, away from the radio station, but still here in the Upper Peninsula.
Just relaxing and taking a few day trips. I have also been updating our RRN news and sports web pages to give my coworkers a hand while I am away from the office.
That's when I came across the report of State Representative John Kivela being arrested for drunk driving down in the Lansing area. After Monday night's arrest, the Marquette Democrat immediately apologized to his family, and to his constituents in Marquette, Alger, Luce, and Schoolcraft Counties.
Kivela also revealed that he has battled alcoholism for most of his adult life, and that he was returning to Marquette to receive treatment for his addiction.

He is not the only Upper Peninsula resident to battle alcoholism. Every one of us knows a friend or family member who is dealing with this. Most of the time, we are polite, and we try not to talk about it. But the spectar of addiction is there, in all age groups, in all of our communities!

I am grateful that Rep. Kivela did not hurt anybody, or himself, when he chose to drive drunk Monday night. I am not a hypocrite. I, myself, have gone behind the wheel after "having a few" during my life. I am also thankful that God took care of me during those occassions.

But now, I pray that Rep. Kivela gets the help that he needs. I consider him to be a good legislator, and I feel that he has tried to represent the Upper Peninsula to the best of his ability.
Kivela has worked across the aisle with our Republican U.P. lawmakers on several  issues, including legislation on expanding career-tech opportunities for high school kids against the unreasonable Merit Curriculum graduation standards.
Kivela has fought for the building of Marquette County Road 595, and has worked with other U.P. Republican state lawmakers on the "dark store" tax issue that has hurt the locals.
Kivela, by the way, is not the first state lawmaker in that seat to deal with the alcohol issue.
But having said that, it is concerning. Just recall this fall's heartache over in St. Ignace, when a popular high school student named Mitch Snyder died when a drunk driver crashed his truck into the boy's little car, killing the teen on Homecoming Night.
I felt the raw pain of the St. Ignace community last month when the Saints came to Gladstone to play a football game against Ironwood. I am just thankful that there was not a repeated tragedy with Rep. Kivela at the wheel Monday night, and that he will be getting the help that he needs.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 10, 2015-1:16 A.M.
The Legend Lives On.

It was 40 years ago tonight that the Edmund Fitzgerald iron ore ship sank during a violent storm on eastern Lake Superior. All 29 men aboard that ship died that night, and the tragedy led to the Gordon Lightfoot song that permanently etched that event into all Yoopers' memories.

Of course, for the families of those 29 men, this is not some "news story". They continue to suffer a real loss of a loved one. And even though it happened 40 years ago, I am certian that for those people, time has not changed things very much. They still want to honor their loved ones.

And so we will. Again. As we have every year since that fateful night in 1975. The tragedy has become a part of Upper Peninsula culture. We all mourn with the families, even after all of these years, and even if we have no direct connection to those who died that night 40 years ago.
The Gordon Lightfoot song about the tragedy that you will hear on our radio stations today is played every year as a tribute. We don't earn any money from the tribute, nor would we want to. It's just our way of saying to all of the families that: we will never forget.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society will put on its annual ceremony at Whitefish Point Tuesday night at 7:00. Everyone is welcome, although seating my be limited and you may have to watch outside as the family members of those 29 men are seated first.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 6, 2015-2:13 A.M.
The long saga of the future of the Escanaba Power Plant is now officially over.

After many years of the city looking for anyone willing to buy the facility, and after many years of seeing proposal after proposal falling through, the Escanaba City Council voted Thursday night to sell the plant to Northern Machining & Repair for $500,000.
The company owner, John Liss, is prepared to begin immediately to remodel that facility into one that will help his company to expand the services that's currently being provided to fix large, heavy, machinery. A year from now, Liss says the building will be totally retrofitted.

I have seen social media posts that rip Liss as a "millionaire" who doesn't pay his people well.
But, excuse me, when janitorial staff at his current facility make $12 an hour, and when other skilled trades workers make as much as $40 an hour, as he told the City Council Thursday night, well, it seems to me that they are doing OK. That's more than most of us make.
I do not know John Liss personally. I met him for the first time Thursday night after the Escanaba City Council meeting. But I can see value in his business plan. I know that some in our community cling to the old days, in which a power plant can be operated within our city limits, to the betterment of the Escanaba community. But, folks, it just ain't so, anymore.

Look at how Marquette is trying to cling to the power generating model.
Customers of the Marquette Board of Light and Power will be subjected to rate increases of at least 30 percent going forward.
If those kind of increases were passed along down here, in order to keep a "local" power plant operating, I believe most of you would object.

The Escanaba City Council, and the city adminstration, did their jobs. They crunched the numbers, and found over and over again that the days of our city running our own power plant are long over. And no matter the nostalgic hopes of some community members had about reviving the plant under Greenwood, well, that wasn't realistic, either. They still wanted to do more studies! We've had enough!

In the end, the Escanaba City Council made the right decision Thursday night. And I feel we should all get behind John Liss..who, again, I met for the first time tonight...wants to make this a winner for the City of Escanaba, its residents, and businesses.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--NOVEMBER 5, 2015-2:04 A.M.
The state legislature passed a $1.2 billion road funding package late Tuesday night. It takes $600 million from the state's general fund...but not for a few years...and puts it into road repairs.
It raises the gas tax and hikes our registration license plate fees by 20%. But not until 2017. And the full package doesn't kick in until at least five years from now. The package also increases the Homestead Tax Credit for property owners...eventually. And all of us would see an income tax reduction, starting in 2023, and only under certain economic conditions.

I'm sorry, but in my personal opinion, this road package is not adequate. This package will not fix our roads in a substantial way because it takes way too long to do it, and there are way too many variables involved in actually getting to the $1.2 billion mark...and by then, even that doesn't appear to me to be enough.

I suspect that many folks are celebrating, especially people within M-DOT, because "we actually did something". That's true. It is better than nothing. But the deal fails to account for where these cuts will come from in other state departments for the "cuts" portion of the package, and the "revenue" portion is just not enough. If you're going to do it, then do it right.

I have always been an anti-tax guy. I do also believe that there is still largesse within state government that can be trimmed. But the road problem is so large that we needed something more than this package. Much more. And the roads will not improve while we sit and wait for the provisions within this deal to take effect over the next few years.

OK, so what would I have done? I would have supported raising the gas tax to the level that is needed to start to make an actual dent in the road problem. And not raise it two years from now, but immediately, as in, within 90 days of whenever the governor signs it.

But, then again, what do I know?

---later, Jack

I entered Tuesday's Gladstone City Election fully expecting the city's proposal for a tax increase to fix up city hall, the public works building, and to buy new euipment, to fail.

And it did, by a wide margin. So the question is, now what?
Gladstone City Manager Darla Falcon is in a tough spot. So is the brand new city commission that was voted into office on Tuesday. They have to try to keep things going, with no extra money to do it. They have to keep streets cleared of snow with aging equipment.
Staff go to work in outdated buildings every day.

But the citizens of Gladstone are also in a tough spot. As Falcon acknowledged in our interview Tuesday night, many people are living on fixed incomes. The vast majority feel that they are taxed enough already. And there is still anger from some who felt the city snuck a tax increase past them last year...a move that led to two commissioners being recalled.

Also on Tuesday, we saw the state house and senate pass gas tax increases and vehicle registration hikes to put more money into the roads. Fixing the roads is something Gladstone residents would agree that we need, but there is a general feeling of two many hands going into our pockets.

That was also clear over in Newberry, with the massive failure of two bond proposals for the Tahquamenon Area Schools.
A bonding proposal did pass, however, in the Superior Central Schools, and the Delta Area Transit Authority bus millage renewals passed in both Escanaba and Gladstone.

Falcon and the new Gladstone Commission, led by Mayor Jay Bostwick, have a tough chore ahead. I don't envy the work that they must do to balance the books and keep the City of Gladstone moving forward. I hope the citizens will get involved. They said no to a tax increase (those who bothered to vote at all). Now, their leaders need their ideas.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI---NOVEMBER 3, 2015-2:16 A.M.
The atmosphere inside the Escanaba High School Gym was downright electric last night. The Eskymo volleyball team was hosting Kingsford in a district tournament match.

The Flivvers beat the Esky girls in both regular season meetings, and Kingsford won the first two sets of this tournament match. In the third set, Kingsford was three points away from a 3-0 sweep, but then, something happened.
The Eskymo girls showed a lot of pride, and did not give up, rebounding from a 22-13 deficit to win the third set, keeping the match alive. And then, Escanaba's tall middle blocker Jeny Brandt keyed a huge rally in the fourth set to post a 25-15 win, tying the match.
The Esky student section was screaming all night long, and those kids got even louder. In the deciding fifth set, it was back-and-forth. Escanaba was two points away from a miracle victory, but Kingsford managed to pull it out at the very end. That's what good teams do at playoff time. Survive and advance.
And I give Kingsford a world of credit for doing that in the clutch in a very hostile environment not usually seen in U.P. girls volleyball. But I also want to send a virtual hug to every one of the Eskymo girls for the way that they played and represented our community last night!
---later, Jack

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