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No lasting effects anticipated

But attempted bombing does increase anxiety, counselor says

The Daily Mining Gazette
November 8, 2001

HOUGHTON — Just three days removed from an attempted fire-bombing at Michigan Tech University, it’s business as usual for local residents and businesses.

Phil Nancarrow, pastor of Portage Lake United Church located near the MTU campus, said some of the people he’s spoken with since police discovered the bombs Monday have expressed anger at those responsible, but the threats do not seem to be a topic of acute concern.

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“I didn’t get the sense that people were especially personally threatened by what happened on campus Monday,” Nancarrow said.

Police discovered the fire bombs just after 3:30 a.m. at a pair of MTU forestry buildings. The bombs did not detonate. Genetic research on aspen trees is conducted in one of the buildings. It is the type of research targeted around the country by eco-terrorists affiliated with various extremist environmental organizations.

No one has claimed responsibility for planting the bombs at MTU. The FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continue to investigate.

Students are handling the situation well, according to Donald Williams, director of Tech’s counseling services.

“I think that it’s been an issue of concern for most students that we’ve seen similar to that of Sept. 11,” Williams said.

The number of students seeking counseling has been up since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., he said. The number of hits on the MTU counseling web page also has increased.

Williams said the attempted bombing coming on the heels of the Sept 11 attacks could result in some students experiencing a whole range of emotions and conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, feeling more emotional, poor concentration and pessimism.

“I think that it creates a general sense of anxiety as a whole,” he said.

Such anxiety probably doesn’t extend to people who may be considering traveling to the Keweenaw, various tourism experts said.

Mary Hunt, co-author of “Hunts’ Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” said many people living downstate won’t dwell long on the fact that bombs were found in Houghton.

“People forget really fast,” she said. “These incidents are so far removed from anybody’s everyday experience.”

Hunt, who lives in Albion but has a home in Jacobsville, said people tend to idealize an isolated location like the Upper Peninsula. She said she doesn’t anticipate anyone being deterred from travelling to the Keweenaw, particularly the large number of people who have family in the area.

“It’s a part of their lives; they’re not going to be deterred by something like this,” she said.

Using Michigan State University as an example, Hunt said concerns about rowdy student behavior are recalled more clearly by most people than the 1999 eco-terrorist attack on an MSU laboratory.

“They’ve got a serious public relations problem, but it doesn’t have to do with one (terrorist) event,” she said.

Keith Niemela, executive director of the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, said Monday’s incident isn’t preoccupying local business owners.

“We’re always facing challenges of one thing or another,” Niemela said. “There haven’t been any plans or changes that people have planned because of this.”

Laura O’Neill, assistant manager at Hancock’s Ramada Inn, said she’s noticed no effect on bookings.

“I think that snow is your biggest determinant of (winter tourism),” O’Neill said. “People are going to continue with their lives.”

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Material from The Daily Mining Gazette © 2001-2004, Ogden News Publishing of Mich.