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      Obama visits to praise U.P. technology

      People lining up in the Superior Dome.

      The moments leading up to the big Wi-MAX reveal at Negaunee High School could be best described as tense, and in just minutes, the classroom and the students would be streaming live to the President of the United States.

      "This isn't a fluke or joke, it's the real deal, of all places a president comes here to talk to us," said Phil Meglathery, 11th grader at Negaunee High School.

      Negaunee High School and Powell Township School have been collaborating along with Northern Michigan University to hold educational video conferences, distance learning, and field trips. Home Internet access for all students is the next step.

      Not all kids have access right now. This would allow them to get online from home, send homework, and also hopefully impact their entire family.

      Officials say Wi-MAX is the second generation of this technology, because it sends the signal even farther, making it convenient for rural communities.

      On a typical day, it takes just five minutes to set up the Wi-Max, but for President Obama's visit, they spent two days making sure everything was perfect.

      Everything went off without a hitch. The distance learning demo went so well that President Obama joked there may be one thing heading toward extinction for U.P. schools.

      "No more snow days for you guys, huh?" joked Obama.

      "I hope that doesn't happen, I like my snow days," responded Ryne Menhennick, Negaunee 11th grader.


      Original coverage of Obama's visit_______________________

      UPDATE 3:00 p.m.

      President Obama left on Air Force One nearly three hours after his arrival.

      Only media was there to see Obama off. He left with a wave before quickly boarding Air Force One.

      UPDATE 2:15 p.m.

      The President has finished his speech. He's heading back to the airport.

      UPDATE 1:35 p.m.

      The President has begun speaking at Vandament Arena. TV6 is carrying it live. is streaming it live.

      UPDATE 1:20 p.m.

      Obama to speak shortly at the Vandament Arena. He's currently talking to students. Speech will be live on TV6.

      UPDATE 1 p.m.

      NMU president Les Wong and U.S. Senator Carl Levin, who accompanied President Obama on Air Force One, have just spoken at the Vandament Arena. A jazz band is now playing. President Obama is currently viewing a demonstration of the Wi-MAX at NMU. He's scheduled to start his speech at 1:20. TV6 will carry it live.

      UPDATE 12:45

      President Obama has left Donckers after spending nearly a half hour there, talking to customers and employees and ordering a sandwich. He also bought chocolates for his daughters. People who were there say he was very friendly and casual. Next stop: NMU

      UPDATE 12:15 EST

      From Mike Bedard, security has moved press and people away from Donckers restaurant downtown. It appears that the President is stopping there prior to arriving at NMU.

      UPDATE 12:10 EST

      From Nikki Davidson: The President's motorcade passed the Crossroads intersection at about 12:05, headed for Marquette.

      UPDATE 11:55 a.m. EST

      The President jogged across the tarmac to greet the limited number of guests who were invited. He spent about five minutes chatting with people, then jogged back and got in his vehicle. He's headed to Marquette

      UPDATE 11:45 a.m. EST

      President Obama landed at Sawyer International at 11:45 a.m. EST and personally greeted those waiting at the airport.

      UPDATE 11:10 a.m. EST

      From Kelly Gibbs: Marquette City Commissioner John DePetro, in the Superior Dome, told her this is a big day for Marquette and the entire state of Michigan because the President's visit is highlighting Marquette's landmark technology.

      Tom Baldini, former Congressman Bart Stupak's aide, said while he was waiting, that Stupak had been a major supporter of the Wi-Max and the promotion of high tech in the U.P.

      Kelly further reports that, according to an NMU staff member, the President will observe the Wi-Max technology demonstration in the Wildcat Room at the Berry Events Center. With him will be NMU President Les Wong, students, technical personnel, and the Secret Service.

      UPDATE 10:55 a.m. EST

      From Nikki Junewicz: The line of invited guests to the President's speech at Vandament Arena is slowly filing in. The media have been sent to a separate area in the Dome to wait. No word on when they'll be allowed in. Nikki reports the atmosphere is calm, but the guests are excited.

      UPDATE 10:40 a.m. EST

      From Natalie Jovonovich: Press is lining up at the Sawyer International Terminal for a security check. She reports seeing county officials, politicians and media there. In addition, State troopers and Marquette County Sheriffs deputies are on site providing security. Also, airport plow trucks are blocking the fence line. The airport welcome is not open to the general public.

      Natalie also reports what looks like the beginning of a motorcade forming, and an official says the highway (we believe 553, although that wasn't specified) will be closed down when the President arrives. Natalie says she doesn't see any helicopter at the airport.

      UPDATE 10:20 a.m. EST

      From Kelly Gibbs: A crowd of about 150 people is now lined up inside the Superior Dome, waiting to get into Vandament Arena--both press and invited guests. She says there's a heavy police presence around the NMU campus but very few students outside in the 5 degree weather. She reports there was a class taking place inside the Dome, but it was being dismissed at 10:15.

      UPDATE 9:51 a.m. EST

      Air Force One took off from Andrews AFB at 9:50 a.m. EST, headed for Sawyer International.

      President Obama seemed to be dressed for the cold weather. He was wearing a heavy overcoat when he boarded Air Force One.

      UPDATE 9:21 a.m. EST

      Air Force One will be departing from Andrews Air Force Base at 9:30 a.m. EST.

      TV6's Phil DeCastro said the temperature should be about 4 degrees when the President arrives at Sawyer International.

      UPDATE 8:45 a.m. EST

      The president's budget supports the 4G build out in rural areas, like the U.P. with a one-time $5 billion investment. They hope to extend that 4G high-speed wireless access to the country in the next five years.

      The initiative plans to inspire innovation from business owners, enable long-distance learning, and make state-of-the-art, secure, nationwide, and interoperable mobile communication available to public safety officials.

      UPDATE 6:00 a.m. EST

      More information is coming out about what President Obama will be speaking about at NMU today.

      The White House has released more information about President Obama's visit to Marquette County today. He'll be unveiling a plan to "Win the Future" through expanding wireless Internet access to 98 percent of Americans. The White House estimates that benefits to our economy and society from this access will reduce the budget deficit by $9.6 billion.

      The announcement will be made in Marquette because it is a city where local businesses have been able to grow as a result of broadband access. They mentioned several Marquette businesses have the ability to export their goods worldwide, an edge that's kept them competitive in a rural location. Obama says Internet access of this kind creates endless economic opportunities in all parts of the country. Obama is expected to visit at least one Marquette business that demonstrates this model; no word yet on what business that is. Obama will be landing at about 11:45 this morning at Sawyer International Airport. He's scheduled to be in Marquette County until 3 p.m. today.


      Today for the first time in seven years, the sitting President will visit the Upper Peninsula.

      President Barack Obama will be in Marquette County for about three hours this afternoon.

      Air Force One is scheduled to land at Sawyer International Airport at about 11:45 this morning. His arrival and departure is not open to the public but will be carried Live on TV6. President Obama will then travel to the Northern Michigan University campus in Marquette where he'll speak to about 1,000 people by invitation only at Vandament Arena. There will be some changes on the NMU campus as lots 53, 54, 55 and 56 on the north side of the Superior Dome are the only areas designated for general parking. Drivers are encouraged to use the Wright Street entrance to access these lots as other areas of campus will be closed. Right now, all we know is his visit is to discuss NMU's WiMax network and national wireless initiative.

      See what MSNBC Money has to say about the visit.