A Belated Happy Mother’s Day, Rockets, Lake Superior, and The New Yorker, Finlandia Appoints New President, and NMU Selling Kaye House


This Week In Whispers

This week we will be featuring a podcast/video interview with Gary McDowell, the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Gary tells us more about a new office that will focus completely on rural issues of importance to Michigan’s rural communities.

It is big news and very important to the Upper Peninsula. By the way, the new director of this program is from the Upper Peninsula—Sara Lucas. That’s more good news. For our readers who might not be aware of Gary McDowell’s background, he grew up in the Upper Peninsula’s community of Rudyard and still lives there. He is a former state representative from the eastern end of the UP.

Watch in the upcoming weeks for a podcast/video interview with the Upper Peninsula’s Senator Ed McBroom. He updates us on several issues but tells us about his continuing work on government transparency and why it is so crucial to the citizens of Michigan. You will be surprised by some of what he says.

Ooops. Almost forgot, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @ruralinsightsUP.

Note On Our Website Tabs

We have added a tab called Opinions. These are more focused pieces on individual opinions and less on research and data/fact-based articles. Most newspapers and news websites/platforms publish Op Eds, opinion pieces. We will also from time to time. We will clearly mark it “OPINION.” We will put it under the Opinion tab. These opinion pieces do not reflect the viewpoint or opinion of Rural Insights but rather only reflect the author’s opinion.

We of course will continue to publish fact- and data-based articles and sound research that you might find interesting—or at least we hope you will find them interesting and useful.

Before We Forget

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers in the Upper Peninsula and throughout our state. In case you forgot, you better hurry up and make that call NOW!

Rockets, Lake Superior, and New Yorker Magazine

The prestigious national magazine The New Yorker in its April 24, 2022 edition published an article titled “The Plan To Make Michigan The Next Space State.” Its lead says “Residents are up in arms about a proposed spaceport project, the first of its kind in the Midwest, which would involve launching rockets near the shoreline of Lake Superior.” (https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/the-plan-to-make-michigan-the-next-space-state).

The author is correct about many, many citizens being up in arms—just drive along County Road 550 and Big Bay and look at the signs opposing this project. Take a look at the article. Let us know what you think.

Finlandia University Appoints New President

News from Hancock’s Finlandia University, after a five month search process, is that it has a new president: Tim Pinnow. He will be FU’s 17th President. He is currently the senior vice president for strategic Initiatives at Colorado Mesa University. He takes office on July 1, 2022.

Welcome to the Upper Peninsula, President Pinnow.

NMU To Sell Kaye House—Home For Presidents Since 1980

Northern, in keeping with national trends, is selling its university home for their presidents, Kaye House, and will be giving future presidents a cash subsidy to pay for their housing in Marquette during their term as president.

So now the question raised is who is buying it and for how much? This is a nice piece of property in a nice neighborhood on the edge of campus. Think it might become an Airbnb? Will it be turned into some form of affordable housing to be developed by another unnamed developer or sold to someone who is going to live in it? Twelve-story condo building? Interesting question considering the university’s involvement in the development of the Lifepoint/MGH hospital property on the other edge of campus.

Facts From The World Around Us

Oligarchs. Does the United States have their own oligarchs? The dictionary defines oligarch as a “very rich business leaders with a great deal of political influence.” Also says that it means “government by the few” and that the opposite word for oligarchy is “democracy.” We have read about Russian oligarchs lately, but Axios printed a few suggested names of US oligarchs:

  • Elon Musk Wealth: 2012–$2 billion. 2022–$266 billion.
  • Jeff Bezos Wealth: 2012–$18 billion. 2022–$180 billion.
  • Bill Gates Wealth: 2012– $61 billion. 2022–$133 billion.
  • Warren Buffett Wealth: 2012–$44 billion. 2022–$125 billion.

Might the definition of an oligarch and their powers be different from country to country and international regions?

Who else would you add? Who from Michigan? Who from the Upper Peninsula? Not just billionaires, but “wealthy business leaders with a great deal of political influence.”

National Public Radio (NPR) released a poll by Ipsos that says that nationally that a “silent majority of school-age parents are satisfied with their kids schooling across party lines.” In the same poll it found that nearly half of the same parents say the pandemic hasn’t disrupted their children’s education. In addition it reported that only 18% of these parents said that their kids’ schools taught about gender and sexuality in a way that clashed with their family’s values and just 19% say the same about race and racism. Also just 14% felt the same about the teaching of US history.

That obviously leaves a huge majority of parents that are very happy with what their local schools are teaching on these topics. This is a national poll.

Being a K-12 school board member, teacher and/or administrator is a very challenging and stressful job these days. We have been informally checking around the Upper Peninsula and we have not heard any reports of huge numbers of parents in various local school districts having feelings about the above issues that appear very different from what this national poll reports.

What say you about your local Upper Peninsula school district?

Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm

“The only proven effective way to counter bad information is with good information. The only way to overcome lies is with truth.” Gerard Baker.

“Speaking truth to power is even more necessary when the power isn’t speaking truth.” Kerry Kennedy.

Books Recommended By Our Readers

“Freezing Order.” Bill Browder. 2022. (This is a follow up to Mr. Browder’s award winning book “Red Notice.” Both books are shocking stories of Russian oligarch power, murder and Putin power. Both important reads, especially with what is going on in today’s world.

Talk To Us

Keep your raves, laurels, rants and darts coming. Send them to us at david@ruralinsights.org. We love to read them. 

About Us

Rural Insights connects policy, information, news and culture to raise topics and stories/information you might have not seen or overlooked. We bring you original writing from Rural Insights and other researchers, change makers, and storytellers, as well as our latest research and analysis.

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Christi Warner on May 9, 2022 at 7:59 am

    My partner and I are excited to move to the U.P. someday. We spend many weekends up there during the year. We live in lower Michigan near Ann Arbor. I am originally from the Keweenaw Peninsula. We have been watching the rocket launch development closely and we own property east of Marquette on Lake Superior. While we are excited to see the potential for him to find an engineering job that affords us the same standard of living we currently have, I have to admit, I am glad it’s not proposed next to my property. I used to live in Marquette, and I understand that the area the launch initiative has chosen is very rural, and the folks that have chosen to reside there live there for this reason. It would be a lot of increased commotion for them. I have read the feasibility studies and various other papers that have been released concerning the launch site. As far as the group opposing the rocket site, I tend not to get too wrapped up in opinion and non-fact details. I prefer to read studies and facts. However, this fight is a tough one! Lake Superior and its serene, wild places has been something I’ve grown up enjoying and still love. As a side note, I remember when there was an uproar in Marquette when Starbucks was moving to town! Some citizens didn’t want to see big companies move in. It has been pretty shocking to see all the traffic and big box stores moving in up by Starbucks!
    In conclusion, I support the rocket launch. I work in the health-care sector and don’t believe I will have any trouble finding employment. However, there aren’t as many engineering jobs available around Marquette for my partner. Once we can line up these careers, we will be figuring out the logistics of building up north and hightail it up there!

    • Julie Hagstrom on May 11, 2022 at 12:13 am

      Don’t count on your partner getting a job with the rocket launch. Many of us who live here know from independent findings and research that it would be detrimental to the environment on land and water. We will do everything in our powers to stop this absurd and obvious threat to the pristine surroundings north of Marquette. Maybe they could build it in your neighborhood in Ann Arbor? How would you like that?

  2. Jim Katakowski on May 14, 2022 at 10:02 am

    Have not read Freezing Order by Bill Browder but his other book Red Notice was quite enlightening. Another note was public schools majority are good or great however a few need some improvement so we need to make all Public Schools across America great. FYI…The Starbucks guy who runs that company hates unions and he graduated from NMU. Did he donate any money to NMU after his graduation on scholarship?

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