Fire Tower Engineered Timber (FTET), a company that has been located in Calumet for several years relocated to 104 5th Street (the former Cafe Rosetta space) this fall. Read on to learn more about the company from one of it's owners, Joe Miller.
1. What does FTET do and what is your involvement and title with the company? FTET is a structural engineering firm, specializing in the design and engineering of heavy timber structures. We work on a mix of residential and commercial projects either as the sole engineer of record, or more commonly as a specialty engineer who focuses on the timber components, while a local engineer handles everything else. We’ve worked on projects everywhere from the Yukon to the south Caribbean and from Germany to Thailand. Most of our projects our in North America though - with an occasional one in the UP as well. All have the common theme of having a heavy timber component, whether that is new construction of CLT projects or restoration of traditional timber framing.
2. What's your favorite part about what you do? Our unofficial motto is “anything but boring”, and, while there are exceptions, we do tend to have more interesting work than a regular structural engineering clients. And, you never know on any given week, whether it may be the clients that are the more interesting part, or the work. A big appeal for me is FTET regularly works with the same timber framers and fabricators, so we build long term relationships that in a small industry like ours, are what matter most.
3. Why Calumet? What do you like about our community? Short answer - I earned my PhD at MTU - and I wanted to stay in the area. Longer answer… I’ve lived in a lot of different states for school and work within the timber frame industry so when I finished at Tech - and realized I could work from anywhere, staying in the Keweenaw appealed most; the people, history, and snow, all appealed to us. My wife and I found a spot on a dead end road in Keweenaw County to call home, and, we’ve been here ever since. As far as why Calumet - I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was more convenient of a commute than Houghton/Hancock - but, that is really only a small part of it. We like the schools for our kids, church, shopping, and all of that - I’ll go weeks without crossing the bridge. Professionally, as ones who engineer almost entirely within the private sector (we, by intention, try and stay away from public projects), a bit of distance from the university actually fits our mindset a bit better. Timber frame engineering requires you to be confident in your own direction, as there are limited building codes or guidance for what we do - and when you follow the little there is - you tend to end up with dull and lifeless structures. So our independent mindset meshes better with Calumet than elsewhere. We have an annual copper dog party as well - so, the appeal of 5th street is strong.
4. What are the plans for FTET's future (if you are able to share that info)? Timber frame empire? FTET started in 2006 in New Hampshire, with several timber frame engineers wanting to detach from the business of cutting timbers and rather focus on the engineering and design (most of us worked directly for timber frame fabricators in various forms before joining Fire Tower) - so, our primary focus has been, and will continue to be the engineering of heavy timber structures. As a lot of our clientele are the fabricators, and most of our projects are a fair distance away from the Keweenaw - we haven’t any intention of going into the business of fabricating. As our projects are spread out throughout north America and beyond - having a centralized location isn’t a primary concern. For a long time, FTET was based out of Rhode Island (since the most employees lived there), but, now we are based out of MI - with employees in NJ, MA, VT, WY, and here. Barring any unforeseen changes - we plan to continue growing as our clients grow - but remaining a small focused firm. Large commercial projects hold little appeal (they don’t tend to fit into the “anything but boring” category), so growing much larger doesn’t open up many additional opportunities for us - and, frankly, means I have to manage more, and engineer less.
5. Tell us something interesting about yourself. My interest in timber stems from an old family homestead in southern Indiana. Growing up, my dad and I would travel down there on weekends, and, fix up the old timber frame barn, and tried our hand at hewing a few logs, and, ended up completely rebuilding the original log cabin using mostly period tooling. I went off to college, and, the first week my freshman year, my now business partner came and gave a talk about timber frame engineering for the a project he was building close by. And, I’ve been hooked ever since. While most of my experience is on the design/engineering side, I’ve spent some time cutting timber frames in a commercial shop, so have a bit of hands on experience - enough to know I make a better engineer than I do timber framer, at least. I’m also an active member in the Timber Framers Guild (TFG), a non-profit trade group that includes in its mission partnering with local communities to build timber frame structures with volunteer labor (think farmers market pavilions, restoring old buildings, covered bridges, and the like) - so I get out of the office for a few weeks a year getting to build some interesting structures with some interesting people. Who knows - maybe we can make a TFG based project happen here in the Copper Country sometime in the future.
6. Where are you from and how did you get to the Copper Country? I’m grew up on a small farm in northern Indiana, but growing up, I made the trip to the UP on occasion (a friend’s deer camp…), so I’ve enjoyed the place for a long time. Later on, I was living in central IL working for a timber frame company - and, while I enjoyed the rural farming community, the deafening sound of the corn growing and everything covered in corn pollen each morning was a bit overwhelming. One fall day, when we were claustrophobic from all of the crops encroaching, we decided to take a long weekend and head north - and, somehow ended up in the Keweenaw. It was October. There was the refreshing smell of everything but corn smut. There weren’t many people. It was snowing. Lake Superior was grey and angry. How could we NOT love it? Upon returning to the grey sullen clouds and brown muddy fields of an IL winter, and having long threatened my wife I was going to go get a PhD, I somehow convinced MTU to let me do research on heavy timber and give me a teaching stipend. Over a dozen years later, with a house and kids in school and all of that - we’ve not looked back.
The 16th Annual Pasty Fest was great success, a wonderful celebration of the Copper Country, pasties and the beautiful weather we were lucky to have on Saturday, August 17th. Our vendors sold over 1400 full size pasties, plus 400 minis that were part of our Bake-Off event, Jon Ziemba ate 3 pasties in 5 minutes in the Eating Competition and hundreds of kids got soaked in the foam machine. It was a great day.
After all the fun is over, and every tent, tote and banner is stowed you realize that community events are not just for a community, they are about community. Pasty Fest is an event that is dependent on good weather (and boy have we had some bad weather) and lots of cooperation from lots of people. In a political environment where no one seems to be able to agree on anything; immigration, insurance reform, international trade, etc, it is refreshing to see a community come together over something as simple as a pasty. Many, many people worked across the aisle to make this event happen and we appreciate all of their commitment, effort, patience and willingness to work together.
The following is a list of all the people and organizations who came together to create this great event;
Volunteers; Sharon Turovaara, Candy Pham, Brendan Clark, Marshall Weidenhammer and family, Caleb Catz, Heather Grundy, Jim Dee, Diane Teddy, Deb and Lew Lambert, Ed Hallquist, Krissy Kovachich, Sara Heikkila, Joan and Dennis Polzien, Phil Roberts, Rev, Robert Langseth, Andrew Reed, Al Ayotte, Debbie Polis, Kathie Dianda, Pete Hahn, David Crowley, Tom Cash, Brenda Bonen, Sue Dana, Laura Cooley, George Siira, Jared Howard, Jaime Jams, Sue and Lee Peterson, Ernie Tepsa, Tom Bowles, Joe Locatelli, and Keweenaw National Historical Park Staff; Lynette Weber, Valerie Newman, Katie Keller, Nick Clark, Ian Ochoa, Summer Thorsten, Georgann Larson, and Karl Larson.
Parade Participants; Ken Bracco, CLK Marching Band, CLK JR ROTC, Copper Country Paranormal Investigations, Calumet Laurium Community Center, Calumet Copperbots, Howard Junkin and family, 31 Backpacks, River Valley Bank, Copper Tips 4-H Archery Club, Calumet Hockeyville, Calumet Floral, North Shore Cottages, Calumet Figure Skating Club, Kingsford Marching Band, Calumet Laurium Senior Center, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Keweenaw Chevrolet Buick GMC, Carmelita's, Calumet Floral, Laurium Manor Inn, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Houghton Community Broadcasting, 4-H group that came with the goats, Spider Man, owners of the 1969 Oldsmobile, and Santa Claus.
Sponsors; Houghton Community Broadcasting - the Voice of Pasty Fest and Main Street Calumet, 2nd Sandbar - Official Videographer of Pasty Fest 2019, Copper Island Printing, Pats IGA,
River Valley Bank / Incredible Bank, Keweenaw Heritage Center, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Calumet Floral, Bucko's Party Store, Ace Hardware, Calumet Electronics, Reeves Painting, Hahn Hammered Copper, Michigan American Water Company, Michigan House Cafe, Farmers & Merchants Fire Insurance, Mike Lahti Properties, Universal Metal Works, Carmelita's, Copper World, Copper Island Chiropractic, Shelly Larson Edward Jones, Amora Wellness & Gifts, High Rock Designs, Dave Geisler, Aalto Woodworking, North Shore Cottages, Fire Tower Engineered Timber, 2nd Sandbar Productions, Faith Lutheran Church, Miners Cafe, and Brick Restoration Specialists.
Car Show Sponsors; Peninsula Auto, North Star BP, North Side Auto Sale, Auto Value, Harter's Auto Supply, Superior Auto Tech, JP's Fast Track, Ace Hardware.
Service Providers; A1 Toilets, Universal Metals, Copper Island Printing, Toni’s Country Kitchen, Bob Hiltunen, Dig Niddy, Jessica Kilpela, The Copper Country Clown Band, Jaime Jams, 2nd Sandbar Productions, and KML Woodsmith.
Vendors; Suomi Restaurant, Connie’s Country Kitchen, Lindell’s, Carmelita’s, The Matador, B Daddy’s Smoke N Grill, Tim Raymond, Copper Country Humane Society, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Isle Royale National Park, Kraft Hockeyville, Copper Country Habitat for Humanity, Calumet Keweenaw Sportsmen’s Association, Finlandia University, Little Laurium Luxuries, The Scenic Route Publications, Yooper’s Love Tupperware, Life & Oils with Aryel Joyal, Mucked Up, Jade Enterprises, Doris Poshak Delightful Designs, Kel’s Krazy Bags, Country Wood and Leather Crafts, 2B Crafts, Steeped Tea, Circle Back Farm, North Harvest CSA, Boersma Family Roots, Charity’s Daily Bread, Annikakes, Kris and Michelle Southerland, Laura Moore, Taara Ryan, Jeanne Medlyn, Sandy Soring, Ashli Wells, Mark Cavis, David Harju, and Rebecca Ferrell.
Coordinating Municipalities & Utilities; Michigan American Water Company, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Calumet Township, Village of Calumet, Village of Calumet Fire Department, Village of Laurium, and the Houghton County Road Commission.
Demos; Kivajat Finnish Dancers, Supernova Yoga, and Cardio Drumming with Laura Hamlett
While we don't have names for all the people who entered cars in the Cool Cars From Near and Far Car Show or the people who played in the Horseshoe Tournament we'd like to thank them as well!
If you'd like to be a volunteer for Pasty Fest or any other Main Street Calumet event we'd love to hear from you!
open this week for those affected
The Angel Mission Free Store will be open for people needing assistance due to the flood. The store is also open to take donations.
If you would like to help, the following items are most urgently needed:
Water, cleaning supplies, brooms, mops, disinfectant cleaners, body wash, shampoo, deodorant, feminine products, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, and wipes. But most anything is appreciated. At this time, however, they do NOT need clothing, due to a large shipment they received last night from donors in another part of Michigan who responded to the emergency.
Watch their facebook page for updates at New Beginnings Angel Mission Calumet, Michigan or phone (906) 934-3602.
here to help people affected by flood
If you or someone you know requires housing, hot water, supplies, or equipment for cleaning up damage from flooding, the Red Cross has supplies, cots, showers, and tools available at the Calumet Coliseum.
The Red Cross requests that you bring a drivers' license or ID, but aside from that, all people affected by the flood are welcome. The Red Cross volunteers that are now stationed here in Calumet have many years of experience and are prepared to stay until they are deployed elsewhere.
So far, a family of four stayed one night, able to return to their home the second night. Several families have stopped by for supplies and were able to obtain them. Many area residents have stopped at the coliseum to ask the Red Cross volunteers what was needed then quickly returned with the requested items.
They do have a large supply of water bottles, clean up buckets that contain a sponge, gloves, mask, heavy duty broom head and folding handle, mop, brush, bleach, squeegee, and garbage bags. Also available are pet food, paper products, and food.
If you have needs that they can't serve, they will you find it. The facility is open and staffed all night long. The shelter is provided by the American Red Cross and is located at the Calumet Colosseum, 110 Red Jacket Road, Calumet, MI 49913.
Local authorities advise residents in need of immediate emergency assistance to call 911. Residents who need to report flood damage to call 211 as soon as possible. Anyone needing to reach the Red Cross at the Calumet Coliseum should dial (906) 236-5962.
Our Main Street Calumet business district is growing yet again with the relocation of Edward Jones Financial Advisor Shelly Larson. Formerly situated near Pat's Foods, it outgrew the space and found a new one at 217 Sixth Street in Calumet. Being right next to the Post Office, Supernova Yoga Studio, and across the street from Vertin Gallery, it backs up to Carmelita's and really fills in a growing block of the downtown. The "For Rent" sign is gone and they have moved in!
Shelly Larson, owner of the branch of Edward Jones, wanted to be closer to the Downtown area in order to be a part of events and the activities.
Shelly says that her favorite things about Calumet are "working with and getting to know the people." She also has appreciated "learning more about the history and culture of the area".
Renovation of the building they've moved into was extensive. Jim Flood, their landlord, did a beautiful job helping them create an office and reception area that is spacious and welcoming. It is bright and has the character of the historic buildings that are so great about Calumet. Come and check it out!
Friday on June 1, from 2-4 pm Shelly, Kim, and Betty Rae will be hosting an open house to celebrate their Grand Opening. They welcome you to bring your family and friends to help them celebrate this occasion. Refreshments will be served."
Welcome to the Downtown, Shelly, Kim, and Betty Rae!
Have you wondered how the antiques and historical artifacts magically appear in the historical store fronts along 5th Street Calumet?
The store fronts are the ambitious projects of Lorri Oikarinen and Shelly Hahn, two merchants of downtown Calumet. Lorri and her husband Rick own Cross Country Sports, and Shelly and Peter Hahn are the creators of Hahn Hammered Copper. For several years they've been giving their time and creativity making the downtown unique, an important part of why Calumet is an interesting place to visit.
Lorri explains, “Shelly and I feel it really makes a difference to visitors and locals alike when the downtown has engaging window displays. We have seen so many visitors and locals stop and look in the windows on a Sunday or other times when shops are closed. It also celebrates the arts, history and architecture that is so much a part of our downtown.
“Windows Into the Past (created in 2013) was a collaborative effort between the Main Street Calumet Design Committee, the Keweenaw National Historic Park, and students at Calumet High School in conjunction with the centennial of the 1913 Italian Hall Disaster.
“We wanted to show what the downtown looked like during that time period, and so enlisted willing shop owners to have their buildings researched by high school students under the direction of KNHP Archivist Jeremiah Mason.
“The result was a poster with historical photos of their building and their history, especially highlighting what was happening in their building in 1913. The posters were printed by Marc Norton at Copper Island Printing, and mounted and laminated by Paul Grathoff of North End Framing. The intent was that they would be durable and could continue to be displayed in the windows even after the centennial. The merchants paid for the posters. Many of the shop owners created their own historic displays for the centennial as well.
“It turned out to be a great success, and many of the posters remain in windows today, giving a brief history of the building and a glimpse of what Red Jacket (Calumet's name at that time) looked like at the height of the copper mining era.
Shelly writes, “This all started when I first met Lorri and she mused out loud, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the storefronts looked like they used to, back in the day?” I replied, “Well, maybe they can!” Our first building was the Thurner building as it was DDA owned and easy to get access to. After that, my landlord gave us permission to do the windows in the JCP building and the building Hahn Hammered copper is in. And so it began...
“We do things on a shoestring, often using things that are loaned to us, but mostly using what we find inside the buildings. It would be great if we could do windows in more unoccupied spaces, but it’s difficult getting a building owner's permission.”
She adds, “We plan on doing something fresh in all of the windows we currently have displays in. We'd like to show more art and perhaps do a call for art pertaining to “Saving Calumet”. We’ve been doing this for several years now and have gotten to see first-hand the [interiors of] cool old buildings of Calumet.”
Thank you Shelly and Lorri for your hard work and for making our downtown such an attractive and educational experience!
Several years ago, a large effort went into making the planters that have been filled with flowers and placed in front of Calumet stores. They have been creating a unified and vibrant look to the downtown.
The planters spend each winter in the Village Warehouse. Each spring volunteers load them in a truck and place them in front of stores. Next they plant the peat pots that have been filled with annuals ordered by Amy Knight of Calumet Floral, who has been donating her time. Calumet owned a watering cart and a resident volunteer has been going to the dozens of planters to keep them watered with the help of the hosting retailers. At summers end, volunteers load them again for the warehouse.
However, about half of the planters have reached the end of their life span. After research and evaluation, the Calumet Main Street Design Committee concluded it is the best time to change to a new planter and watering system. (See our March post on hanging planters for downtown.)
The remaining, although they might need TLC at their corner joints, are in too good of condition to discard. Interior dimensions are 12" deep, by 16.5" wide by 24.5" long. Exteriors are approximately 30"wide x 16" high x 22"deep. At last count, there were 30 planters available for purchase.
Main Street Calumet volunteer Stuart Baird is kindly donating his time to meet anyone at the Village Warehouse (the green building next to the Calumet Colosseum on Red Jacket Road) on May 19th from 10-noon. The suggested donation is $10/planter. Cash or checks made out to Main Street Calumet are both acceptable.
The planters are sold AS IS. Purchasers will also need to be able to transport the planters themselves, so bring a friend to help lift if necessary.
Here's your chance for an economical makeover for the front of your house or your garden!
Looking to beautify Calumet? Get your hands on an old fire engine? The Copper Country Firefighters History Museum will be holding its spring cleaning event on Saturday, May 19th starting at 10am. The Museum needs to be cleaned before opening for the season in mid-June. The work will include polishing vehicles on exhibit, cleaning the building’s interior and exterior, and shining up some woodwork around the facility. It will be a great way to help your community, the firefighters museum, and the National Park Service. All are welcome to come!
Contact John Sullivan email@example.com
Alan McTaggart firstname.lastname@example.org
Read ahead to learn what's bringing hundreds of area 4th Graders to Calumet!
Next week, Keweenaw National Historical Park will be hosting the 3rd annual Copper TRACES event for area 4th grade students. Over the course of three days, from 9am to 2pm on May 15-17, students, educators, and chaperones from six U.P. counties will be spending the day in the park. They will be attending activity stations throughout the industrial core, downtown Calumet, and in the Calumet Visitor Center. Each day, there will be approximately 250 people visiting the park, some of them for the first time.
This yearly event is part of the national Every Kid in a Park program that introduces 4th-grade students to public lands. Copper TRACES is the park's way of introducing students to local and national history through the TRACES acronym which stands for Technology, Research, Art and Music, Community, Environment, and Service. The event includes a series of engaging, hands-on activities and visits to historic buildings and landscapes. Each of the 30-minute activity stations are hosted by a local community organization, park staff, or a park partner known as a Keweenaw Heritage Site. In total, there are over 50 volunteers working with the park to make this a fun and successful event.
Please be careful as you go through Calumet during these days as hundreds of students spend time walking throughout the community and the park. If you'd like to learn more or visit the event, please call Kathleen Harter at 483-3024. We'd love to have you join us and see the enthusiasm young people have for this area. You can also learn more about Copper TRACES by visiting the park website at this link https://www.nps.gov/kewe/learn/education/classrooms/copper-traces.htm
Pink and white petunias and some hanging plants are being grown for downtown Calumet even as we speak. Tony Sleeman of Sleeman's in Houghton will hardened off the plants (conditioned to our climate) and transition them to their new home in baskets that will hang from the light poles in Calumet.
Plants will be located at intersections of 5th and 6th streets, and Scott, Portland, Oak, Elm, and Pine streets for a total of 34 baskets. 14" baskets will be used on 5th Street and 18" on 6th street to accommodate the taller poles and larger, wider streetscape of 6th Street.
Dave Sladek of Universal Metal will be fabricating basket brackets to cradle the plants. It was Dave who created all the brackets for the City of Houghton.
This project is a combined effort of many volunteers at all stages. The Main Street Calumet Design Committee researched options, took pictures, made drawings, and interviewed Houghton to find out about what was successful with their program.. The Village of Calumet Downtown Development Authority has agreed to support the effort financially because they feel it will provide a highly visible improvement to the downtown. A different set up for watering will be in place this summer as well.
Further plans are in the hopper to use these planters for other seasons...stay tuned.
Everyone involved hopes the baskets will speak to the cheer and vitality of the village we love!