Author Archives: barbmiller

Knight Center grad shows humor in the face of wildfires

By Kate Habrel

Sarah Coefield.   Photo credit:  Shannon Edney

Sarah Coefield. Photo credit: Shannon Edney

MSU graduate and former Knight Center employee Sarah Coefield was featured recently as “Monday’s Montanan” in the Missoulian.

The reason? In part: dumb smoke jokes.

Coefield is one of two Missoula County air quality specialists. She wears numerous hats for her job – writing policy and rules for air pollution control and air quality updates. It’s those updates that have recently attracted a lot of attention. Continue reading

An elusive eclipse

By Kate Habrel

Watching the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Watching the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Even weeks after August’s summer eclipse, people are still talking about it.

I was in Sussex, Wisconsin, with my family when it happened. I’d spent the month leading up to it reading stories of how spectacular it would be, even for those not in the path of totality.

Many looked forward to the eclipse in a similar manner.

Continue reading

Advice to utility, regulatory agency press officers from Knight Center director

Eric Freedman

Eric Freedman

It can be challenging to clearly communicate electric power industry issues to the public because many media professionals are unfamiliar with industry concepts, regulations and technology. Yet clear communication by utilities and regulators is essential for informing customers who may have concerns about reliability, safety and cost. It can also inform public agencies and elected officials engaged in critical decision-making and policymaking that directly affect the economy, environment, national security and stock prices.
That’s an observation by Knight Center director Eric Freedman from “Working with the Press to Get the Story Right,” a column he wrote for the Electric Power Research Institute, the independent nonprofit research arm of electricity generation industry.

Tubin’ down the river

Tubing on River

Tubing on the Thornapple River near Hastings, Michigan. Image: Eric Freedman

By Eric Freedman

There are many ways to enjoy a river. On a boat. In a canoe or kayak. Wading. Fly fishing or ice skating, depending on the season. Dangling your feet from a dock or overhanging limb. With a camera or binoculars.

This time of year, it can be floating in a tube on a shallow, slow-moving river such as mid-Michigan’s Thornapple.

It’s an 88-mile-long tributary of the Grand River, meandering at a restful pace from Eaton County downstream to Ada. We put in a few miles from Hastings, the Barry County seat.

Certainly the Thornapple isn’t a storied river of song. “Now the Missouri is a mighty river,
Look away, you rollin’ river,” as we know from the folk song “Oh Shenandoah.” The Thornapple isn’t the mighty Mississippi of Johnny Cash’s “Big River” and the mournful Mississippi that Paul Robeson sang of in “Ol’ Man River:

O’ man river,
Dat ol’ man river,
He mus’ know sumpin’
But don’t say nuthin’
He jes’ keeps rollin’
He keeps on rollin’ along

And it’s not the powerful Columbia River that Woody Guthrie celebrated in “Roll on Columbia”:

Green Douglas firs where the waters cut through
Down her wild mountains and canyons she flew
Canadian Northwest to the oceans so blue
Roll on Columbia, roll on.

The Thornapple, is, just well, it is.

Like other Michigan tubing rivers like the Chippewa, Lower Platte, Cedar, Manistee and Rifle, the Thornapple is the kind where turtles bask on logs, barely disturbed by passing tubers. The kind where luminescent green, blue and red dragonflies alight on your hand or hat. The kind where snags of storm-fallen branches gently clutch a tube for a moment before releasing it to continue its journey. The kind where the scattered folks who live along its shores can sit in their backyards and watch or ruminate or chat or doze. The kind where butterflies take off when a tube passes by, where vines of wild grapes hang over the water, where waterfowl fly low and where around each bend a gentle adventure lies.

Had Louis Armstrong spent a summer afternoon tubing on the Thornapple, he could have written his “Lazy River” with it in mind:

Oh, up a lazy river where the old mill run
Meet the lazy river with the noonday sun

Linger in the shade of a kind ol’ tree

Throw away your troubles, dream a dream of me, dream a dream of me.