Member Feeds

Phase 2 Capital Campaign begins for Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Remember how excited we were five years ago with the opening of the Chik-Wauk Museum? We have so much to be proud of and so much to celebrate! The museum is a top-notch showcase of our natural and cultural history.

We have even more to get excited about this year. We are starting Phase II of the museum project which will give us the facilities to fulfill our goal of sharing and preserving more of the history and heritage of our community.

Our plan is to break ground this spring for our new Chik-Wauk Nature Center,  a modest administration building, and a vaulted biffy. The Chik-Wauk Nature Center will be the hands-on center for learning. We have a team working with Split Rock Design Studios on displays that will set the tone for curiosity and exploration. It will have plenty of seating for presentations as well as tables and workstations to be used for classes.

Proposed building plans at Chik-Wauk

Proposed Chik-Wauk Building Plans

In 2016, we will collaborate with the North House Folk School on building our boat pavilion. This will be a timber frame shelter to protect and display historic watercraft in the Gunflint Trail Historical Society collection with descriptive panels for each boat or canoe. We will also build a cabin that represents a typical rental unit from the 1950s at Chik-Wauk Lodge. Finally, we will put up a metal building for maintenance equipment and larger storage items.

It is an ambitious plan. Our construction budget for this Phase II is $500,000. To date, we have raised about half the needed money. We hope you will chip in to help us raise the remaining money, as your funds and budget allow. You can make a donation online easily through our online payment server . Just use the contributions (restricted) field on the website and put “Phase II” in the designation field.

With your continued support, our excitement for the future of the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center can become a reality.


Bruce Kerfoot, Board of Trustees

Categories: Member Feeds

More areas of Grand Marais ready for Broadband

Arrowhead Electric - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 10:13am


We are expanding the area in Grand Marais that is ready for True North Broadband Access. Homes from Broadway to the Gunflint Trail/Highway 61 intersection can be connected. Check out our pricing and services then contact us (tel: 218-663-7239 or email to discuss installation. Welcome to True North! 

Categories: Member Feeds

Waking Up Hungry

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 03/31/2015 - 6:44am

You can probably tell by the red leaves in the background of this photo that this picture was not taken this spring. I haven’t seen any bear activity on the Gunflint Trail yet either but I’m sure we’ll see some soon.  The forecast is calling for warm temperatures this week and if the bears aren’t out and about yet then I’m sure they will be by the end of the week.  Here’s what the DNR says about black bears in the Spring.

Minnesota Black Bear


Be bear-aware this spring as bears begin emerging from dens

Wildlife managers remind homeowners who live near bear habitat to be bear-aware and check their property for food sources that could attract bears this spring.

Bears usually begin emerging from their dens in late March and early April. Allowing bears to forage for food in a yard can present dangers to bears and people, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“While one homeowner may not be bothered by the presence of a bear in their yard, it can cause conflicts between neighbors, as well as public safety concerns, when human-related food is easy to find and the bears stop seeking their natural foods,” said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR northeast region wildlife manager. “These bears eventually get into trouble because they return again and again.”

As bears emerge from hibernation they are not immediately hungry, but over the following weeks their metabolism ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. Bears may be tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage.

“Bears are normally shy and usually flee when encountered,” said John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager. “However, they may defend an area if they are feeding or are with their young. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.”

The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else. “In metro areas, a person who is concerned about a problem bear presenting a threat to public safety is advised to first call local law enforcement,” said Jami Markle, DNR central region assistant wildlife manager. “Leaving anything around that might be attractive to a bear could present a danger to the bear and people. When living in an area with wildlife, even the occasional bear requires some extra precautions to avoid conflict.”

The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts.

Around the yard

Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up seeds that spill onto the ground. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between April 1 and Dec. 1.
Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.
Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Adding lime can reduce smells and help decomposition. Do not add food scraps. Kitchen scraps can be composted indoors in a worm box with minimal odor.
Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
For bee hives, elevate them on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.
Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).

Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside. The sweet smells attract bears.
Store especially smelly garbage, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site.
People should always be cautious around bears. If they have persistent bear problems after cleaning up the food sources, they should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, or visit to find a local office. For more information, visit

Categories: Member Feeds

Great Place Project Application Deadline Tomorrow – March 31st!

Moving Matters - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 4:48pm

Apply to be a 2015 Great Place Project! Application deadline Tuesday, March 31st.

After a successful first year of the Great Place Race, the newly renamed Great Place Project will offer a second year of mini-grants for placemaking in Cook County and Grand Portage. The Great Place Project is looking for businesses and organizations to apply with their high impact, low cost idea to make a place great. Mini-grants range from $250 to $1,000 per project.

Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2015 at 4 pm CST. Applications are available for download at or paper copies may be picked up at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic front desk during business hours (513 5th Ave W, Grand Marais).

Questions about the 2015 Great Place Project? Contact Maren at or 218-387-2330 x110.

var metaslider_511 = function($) { $('#metaslider_511').flexslider({ slideshowSpeed:3000, animation:"fade", controlNav:1, directionNav:true, pauseOnHover:true, direction:"horizontal", reverse:false, animationSpeed:600, prevText:"<", nextText:">", slideshow:true, useCSS:false }); }; var timer_metaslider_511 = function() { var slider = !window.jQuery ? window.setTimeout(timer_metaslider_511, 100) : !jQuery.isReady ? window.setTimeout(timer_metaslider_511, 100) : metaslider_511(window.jQuery); }; timer_metaslider_511();
Categories: Member Feeds

Another Sign Summer is Near

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 03/30/2015 - 4:41pm

You know summer is approaching when the call goes out to local property owners that it’s time to order your trees again.  Every year, for I don’t know how many years, Hedstrom’s Lumber Company in Grand Marais, Minnesota has given away tree seedlings.  Each property owner can get up to 200 free seedlings including White Pine and Red Pine, my favorites.

We pick the tree seedlings up at the beginning of May and then attempt to get them all planted.  Luckily we have the help of a great Voyageur Crew because in our neck of the woods planting trees isn’t easy work. Where there is soil to be found it isn’t very deep. It takes a long time just to find a good spot to place the seedling but it’s so rewarding when you do.

It’s equally rewarding to look at a section of our property that had burned in 2007 during the Ham Lake Fire and see thriving pine trees courtesy of Hedstrom’s Lumber Company.

Thank you Hedstroms!

Categories: Member Feeds

Spring Rituals

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 03/29/2015 - 11:21pm

I’m not sure if it should be considered a ritual, tradition or task but this past week I met with two of my retail clothing providers to place orders for the upcoming season. It shouldn’t be too big of a job for a store our size but it’s something that just takes time.

In the beginning years of owning Voyageur Canoe Outfitters it took me forever to decide on what to order. I would agonize over the color of the garment, the feel of the garment and I would have to try on every garment to determine how the sizes ran.  Then I would try to guess what sizes would sell the best during the season. Would people be wearing things big and baggy or small and tight fitting? Would women like this design or just men? Would a man wear this or is it too feminine?

These days I worry more about a good color selection, design choices and having a good variety of garments.  A bunch of t-shirts, a handful of sweatshirts and a couple of specialty garments pretty much rounds out my ordering.  I tend to let the clothing rep fill in the size selection and tell me what the best selling colors are.

I tend not to second guess every decision I make and I think what has sped up the process the most is Mike no longer accompanies me. That seems to make the process much easier because Mike and I would rarely like the same thing and when I wanted an opinion he wouldn’t give me one and when I didn’t want one he would have one for me.

Whatever I call it, ritual, tradition or task, I’m glad it’s done for another season.

Categories: Member Feeds

Ugh, More Snow!

Gunflint Lodge - Sun, 03/29/2015 - 3:38pm

Winter returned today.  The forecast was for a “wintery” mix.  To me that means sleet and rain.  To the weatherman it meant 3 inches of snow!  That was not welcome.  I know tomorrow it will all be gone.  Don reminded me that we got 20 inches of snow last April.  I don’t want that either.
Birds are starting to really come back.  We have some of the reddest purple finches that I have ever seen.  Maybe they get redder just before mating.  At any rate, they are quite beautiful.  They are also very, very hungry.   My feeders are always empty and the suet is gone.
We have been watching single deer wander across the lake one at a time.  There have also been single wolves wandering around.  I just hope that they don’t meet.  Ice fishing ends in a couple of days so no one will be on the lake.  It will be interesting to see if the deer keep out on the lake or at least away from the wolves.  We will only be feeding them another week or so.
The staff has also noticed some does are heavily pregnant.  They think that these does may have twins.  It will be about a month before the young ones are born.  I just think about how my back hurt during those last weeks of pregnancy.  In fact, my back hurts just sitting here.
So I never got up to see the Northern Lights.  Or, at any rate, when I did look, there was nothing to see.  Interestingly, a couple days later we were watching the news.  There was a program about several unusual natural events that were now happening.  One of them was usually strong northern lights.  Usually our northern lights appear as if they are lights from a city just over the horizon.  We all know there is no city and these are just faint northern lights.  So I am guessing that the lights Chris saw were part of this unusually strong display.
One of you wrote asking if I have pictures of northern lights.  Unfortunately, I don’t.   You are asking a person who doesn’t really take pictures.  When we were gone to Tanzania and Paris for 3 weeks last fall, I look about 20 pictures.  There is too much to see for me to remember to take pictures.
This last weekend was our Books in the Woods weekend.  This year our writers were Lorna Landvik and William Swanson.  We usually have about 30 participants who come for the seminars.  It is very interesting because you get a chance to really interact with the authors.  The group sizes are never more than 12.  It gives everyone the opportunity to ask questions without being part of a multi-hundred group.  The proof of the pudding is that several people made reservations for next year.
Speaking of reservations, summer reservations are coming along very well.  Canoe trips will be really busy this year.   
Categories: Member Feeds

Spring Break Time

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 03/28/2015 - 10:28pm

It’s Spring Break time and the kids couldn’t be happier. No school for a week! After substitute teaching two days in a row I’m willing to bet the teachers are very happy too.

Hannah and Tony are back from their spring vacations and are ready to prepare for the fast approaching summer season.  They have been busy sending out our new brochure that has a map and valuable trip planning information on it. It turned out very nice and if you’d like to receive one then just fill out the online form.

Once you receive it you can spend time planning this summer’s canoe camping trip into the BWCA or Quetico Park.

Categories: Member Feeds

Make-A-Wish for Mining to Disappear?

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 8:45am

I don’t know many 13-year-olds in my neck of the woods who would give up a wildlife safari in Africa or a trip to Disney World to go to Washington, DC to oppose mining near the Boundary Waters but a boy from Illinois did just that.

You may have already heard about it because it is kind of a big deal. Joseph Goldstein is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and he really wanted to be a part of the opposition to mining near the Boundary Waters. The Make a Wish Foundation hasn’t actually paid for his trip to DC because plans had to be made quickly and around his chemotherapy sessions but they are working with his parents to make it official.

Remember Dave and Amy Freeman who paddled to DC and got signatures on their canoe and on a petition to oppose mining?  It’s the same effort Joseph wanted to be a part of.  Here’s what he had to say,  “These petitions represent thousands of people like me who love exploring and playing in the beautiful woods and clear waters of the Boundary Waters. My experiences in the Boundary Waters have taught and given me so much, and I want to ensure this beautiful, wild place remains, unspoiled, for my siblings, friends and the next generation. Wilderness is important, and there isn’t much of it left. Mining has no place on the edge of a national treasure, and I’m proud to join my voice with thousands of others in urging our leaders to permanently protect the Boundary Waters.”

Quite remarkable indeed.


Categories: Member Feeds

Still Skiing on the Gunflint Trail

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 9:44pm

Tony’s parents visited Voyageur Canoe Outfitters this week and went cross-country skiing.  Look at the lovely trails!

Cross-country skiing on the Gunflint Trail

Categories: Member Feeds

City Council Meeting 3-25-2015

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 10:09am
Last night the City Council gathered for another marathon-esque meeting that covered many important topics and included a great deal of interesting conversation.  I will summarize these topics here so that you won't have to spend 2+ hours getting up to speed!

Things started out with a bang with community member Greg Gentz approaching the Council with a request for the Council to consider writing a letter of support of the Lakeview Natural Dairy and other residents of the state of MN who want to sell products directly from their farm or garden to consumers.  He requested that this be taken up for the next meeting and that, if written, the letter contain information about the Constitutional protections that are at issue in this case.  The Council agreed to take this up at their next meeting.  We will discuss our ability to write the letter and the language therein...

Then we moved on to the consent agenda.  This is where we take care of a bunch of routine business all in one fell swoop.  There were a few questions about the payment of bills, an item added to the agenda, and a permit renewal for the Cook County Curling Club Consumption and Display Permit (say that 5 times fast...).  That last one had a second of conversation:  to explain, the curling club uses the Community Center.  In order for them to be able to bring in alcoholic beverages to enjoy after or in between their matches, they need a permit.  There has never been any problems with this, so it was included in the consent agenda and passed.  There you go curlers!

Next we had a presentation from Kimber Wraalstad concerning the renovation of the North Shore Hospital.  She presented to us to get us up to speed and to gain the City's support in requesting grant funds from the IRRRB for infrastructure improvements that will be required with the hospital's renovation.  The total amount of the funds available would be up to $350,000 to pay for infrastructure.  The City would act as a pass through for this money and all of the construction would be performed and supervised by the hospitals building contractor, Boldt Building.  The City will require that all of the infrastructure be build to standard, will view and accept bids, and will maintain records of payments going out for this work.  Seeing it as a great opportunity for the hospital to make the reinvestment in our local healthcare more affordable, the Council voted to pass the resolution stating we will apply for the IRRRB funds for their project.  The Council was very impressed with the thorough information, financial planning, and project assessments that were given as background for this request (it was almost 30 MB of files on the computer... That's a fair amount!).

After that we had a community member Randy Sjogren approach the Council requesting permission, or at least an investigation into permission to place a set of viewing binoculars near Artist's Point.  The location identified was on the west side of the Artist's Point parking lot, in the pebbles between the picnic table to the north and the trees to the south.  This spot was identified because of its clear view up and down the Shore.  There were many questions asked, including, "Can we even do this? Who controls that land?" and "How would the binoculars be mounted to the ground?" and "What is your interest in this project?"  Sjogren stated that if he were the one installing the binoculars, he would want to make it a coin operated system so that he could re-coup some of his expenses.  If it were a City project to install the binoculars and he didn't have any income coming from that, that scenario would be great too because he sees it as something that would benefit the City and all of the folks that look out at the Harbor and lake.  The Council thanked Sjogren for his idea and will be looking into the control of that area and how we could permit for something that would be more of a permanent installation instead of a seasonal business without any foundations needed.  More to come on this!

The next thing was the addition to the agenda.  For those of you interested, please look at the previous blog post that I wrote concerning Assisted Living services in Grand Marais to get some background information.  The request before the Council last night was to take action on the decision of the previous Council (in December of 2014) to have a market study done to find out the feasibility of Assisted Living services in Cook County, centered in Grand Marais.  This Request For Proposals (RFP) will be sent out to companies that do market studies o find which company will be the best suited to perform our study.  We are casting a wide net for this study.  The previous market study, done in 2010, drew a small circle around Grand Marais and did not speak with members of our neighboring communities, who would be served by these services.  After some conversation and and introduction by Karl Hanson, a member of the North Shore Health Care Foundation (whom the City will approach for grant monies to pay for the study), the motion was made and passed to move forward with sending out the RFP to the vendors we know of AS WELL AS being in communication with the County Board and the Grand Portage Tribal Council about this process to get their cooperation in gathering information.  I have already sent out contacts to the County Board and the Tribal Council to meet with them and go over the RFP and the process.
*At this point we are not committed to anything.  The purpose of doing this process is to get accurate information pertaining to the needs and future needs of people in our community.  We want our community members to be able to stay in our community as long as possible and not have to move to a completely different community when their healthcare needs change.  Assisted living is the hole in our offerings at present, we need to figure out how big of a hole it is and if we can meet those needs with the services already present in our community instead of trying to attract another entity to fill those needs.  Again, please refer to my previous blog post or give me a call if you have any questions.

Next was the Planning Commission report.  The Planning Commission held a special meeting regarding the Development Agreement between the City and the developer of the proposed Grand Lakeview Development, which would be located in an undeveloped piece of land above the Gofer Cabins property.  Preliminary platt drawings have been done and the City approved a setback variance for the design previously, but before things get started, there needs to be a Development Agreement between the City and the developer.  Why?  Because this development requires infrastructure and the City is going to own that infrastructure.  The City needs to know that this project will be completed to the expectations and specifications that are necessary for the City.  The City is not a developer and doesn't want to be, so there are certain things that our legal counsel has told us are standard in an agreement like this.  We haven't done a lot of this development, so we want to take our lawyer's advice.  These assurances cost money and take time though, and that is something that the developer is concerned about.  This project is slated to be an affordable housing development, something that our community has identified is a priority.  All of the cost for this project will impact that sale price though.  For now I can say that our legal counsel and the lawyer for the developer are working together to figure out how we can both feel good about this project and get the desired result for both of us.

Moving on, we briefly discussed the continuing plan for City Strategic Planning.  There are two channels this planning is going to take: 1. Comprehensive Planning-- A wide, thorough, thoughtful process with a great deal of public input and investment; and 2. Capital Improvement Planning-- This will be more of an internal process, but not without community input, that will seek to determine the areas in greatest need for our City and then work toward creating a plan to accomplish those things.  Considering that our City Administrator is going to be taking a vacation here upcoming (and I hope he has a great time!), these processes will be getting researched while he is gone (looking at other Capital Improvement Plans and Comprehensive Plans), we will be setting dates for these meetings when he gets back.

At this point we were all getting pretty worn out, so we moved to Council and Staff reports.  I reported on a CCLEP meeting I attended where I learned a great deal about programs happening around the region to promote energy efficiency and even an internship program that the City would be eligible for that would potentially give us some opportunities to achieve considerable strides forward in our status as a Green City.  I also reported on the North House Annual meeting that I attended last week.
Dave Mills attended the YMCA board meeting where they are hashing out a facility agreement with the school.  Sounds like a lot of thought going into that as well!  He also mentioned the North Woods Food Project meeting he attended where they began talking about a city compost plan again and the Green Dollars survey that they are doing to gather information to see what kinds of foods we could afford to produce locally instead of buying it from other places.  Very good stuff.

The other Councilors either made their updates in the previous agenda items or had no scheduled meetings.

Our next meeting is April 8th where we will discuss the letter of support for the Lakeview Natural Dairy, the GreenCorps program (to see if we should apply for an intern), the possibility of changing our meeting time to make it more accessible, community bathrooms, and an update on the RFP support from the County and Tribe.

See you there!
Categories: Member Feeds

Bald Eagle Back Home

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 03/25/2015 - 8:39am

Tony spotted a resident bald eagle in our tree on the Seagull River. Where there’s one there is more,  welcome back!

Bald Eagle end of Gunflint Trail

Categories: Member Feeds

Before and After

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:24pm

Two weeks doesn’t seem like that long but the scenery can change quite a bit in that amount of time.  The best part about living in Minnesota is experiencing the changing of the seasons. From bare trees to green leaves to no leaves again it’s all a part of the fun.  Check out the photos Tony took up at Voyageur, just two weeks apart. The sun is getting hotter, you gotta love it.

Gunflint Trail Seasons

Categories: Member Feeds

3/24/15 - A couple of weeks of warm weather have transformed Sawbill from deep winter to an extended spring season.

Sawbill Newsletter - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 2:25pm

3/24/15 - A couple of weeks of warm weather have transformed Sawbill from deep winter to an extended spring season. Around here, I've always heard this season referred to as the "crusted snow moon." That is certainly the case at the moment.

Skiing down the Temperance River on crusted snow a few days ago. Right after this picture was taken I saw moose tracks on the river and even the moose was being held up by the crust! Photo by Nickie Dietz.

Here I am with the great group of friends that skied down the Temperance River. Photo by Nickie Dietz.

These warm, early spring days bring out an insect know locally as "snow fleas." They are actually a species of spring tails that jump long distances when they feel threatened. They move so fast, they give the illusion of just disappearing.

Sawbill Lake is like a big open field for Phoebe and Roy this time of year. They love to run joyfully and bark at ravens flying overhead. What looks like slush is actually frozen solid.

Here are the last few weeks editions of the West End News from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio:
March 19th, 2015
March 12th, 2015
March 5th, 2015
February 26th, 2015

Last but not least, let's not forget that the canoeing season is just around the corner.

Canoeist, Craig Nathan, was nice enough to send along this evocative early morning shot of the Sawbill Lake canoe landing as he began is trip to Cherokee last June. - Bill

Categories: Member Feeds

One Day Left to Comment on Highway 61 Concept Designs

Moving Matters - Tue, 03/24/2015 - 2:00pm

Thanks to the City of Grand Marais’ commitment to receiving community feedback on the Highway 61 concept designs, the deadline has been extended for public comment, until Wednesday, March 25th. If you have not yet added your input, please take advantage of this opportunity to share your feedback and shape the future of Grand Marais, whether you drive, walk, and/or bike.

View the concept designs and provide feedback at
or stop by Grand Marais City Hall (M-F 8-4:30).

If you already provided feedback, be sure to invite your friends, colleagues, and family to contribute to this important discussion for our community.

Questions? Contact Mike Roth, City Administrator, at 218-387-1848 or

Categories: Member Feeds

When the Snow Melts

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 10:04pm

Spring is an exciting time filled with surprises. Surprises like, “OH, that’s where that went!” when snowbanks melt to reveal items lost since first snowfall.  Hopefully we won’t have too many of those this year.

One year, a melted snowbank revealed a mangled kevlar canoe courtesy of a blade on a snowplow. That was a not so welcome surprise. Usually it isn’t that drastic, some garbage here, a tool there but nothing very shocking.

There is always a bunch of work to do once the snow melts. Last night I had a dream I was trying to rake and my arms were so sore I couldn’t even pull it towards me. I haven’t even started raking yet but I obviously have thought about it.

I remember one year we had to shovel out our RV sites because there was so much snow in them and groups were arriving. We don’t have RV sites anymore but even if we did I don’t think we would have to shovel this year, but you never know, when the snow melts.

Categories: Member Feeds

Excitement at Voyageur Brewing Company

Voyageur Brewing - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:49pm

There are so many exciting things happening at Voyageur! We celebrated our Grand Opening, we’ll be hosting a Bean Bag Toss Tournament and our beer is being poured at other businesses in Cook County.

Last weekend we celebrated our Grand Opening of Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais, Minnesota. We had a wonderful turnout on all three days and everyone had a fabulous time.  Games in the brewery were a big hit and people really enjoyed themselves.  Cat and Mouse, Bean Bags, Jumbo Jenga and Hammerschlagen kept everyone entertained. Over $200 was raised for the Cook County Food Shelf by the participants of the Hammerschlagen game.

Voyageur Brewing Company

Live music, hourly drawings and the chance to win free beer made the weekend even more exciting. Everyone who registered at the door was entered into a Grand Prize drawing. Chuck Futterer won the free 3-day completely outfitted canoe trip from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, Sara Hingos will receive a private party at Voyageur Brewing Company for 25 people with pizza provided by My Sister’s Place Restaurant and Julia Zimmermann wins a growler fill a week for an entire year.

More excitement is coming soon on Thursday, April 9th when we’ll be hosting a Bean Bag Toss Tournament. Teams of 2 or individuals can sign up to play. We’ll pair folks up to make up teams and then have some fun.  Games will begin at 6pm & play should be concluded by 10pm.  A $10 entry fee per person includes 2 free beer tokens. We’ll have a 16 team maximum so players should sign up early at the brewery or by emailing

Now on Tap Voyageur Beer

And last but not least, a number of businesses are now serving our Voyageur Beer and we couldn’t be more excited. It was quite awesome to eat dinner at Harbor House Grille and enjoy a Boundary Waters Brunette Brown Ale made by Voyageur Brewing Company.  You can enjoy our beer at Mogul’s, Summit Chalet, Papa Charlie’s, Cascade Lodge, Lutsen ResortCrooked Spoon, Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, My Sister’s Place, the American Legion and the Gunflint Tavern.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone for supporting our business in Grand Marais, Minnesota.


Categories: Member Feeds

Assisted Living in Cook County: What do we need and how do we get it?

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 4:21pm
Starting back in December the topic of Assisted Living services reared its head yet again in our community as a group of invested community members gathered with a potential vendor of "assisted living" services at the hospital.

If this sounds a little familiar, that is because a very similar conversation happened a little over 5 years ago, at which point a study for the need of these services was done and it was determined that there was not sufficient need for an additional facility to provide for our community.

So why are we looking at it again only 5 years later?

One of the reasons we are looking into it is that the scope for the original market study that was done 5 years ago was done with very few local considerations taken in to effect.  It did not take into effect the services that are currently being offered (nor did it talk to the people who are providing services currently) and it drew a small circle around Grand Marais (which doesn't match our reality of being the only city in Cook County... a city that sends several community members to Silver Bay or Duluth for these services).

Another reason we are looking at it again is that our community is aging.  You may have heard about the EDA's housing study's results that pointed out the fact that the Cook County population is rising, but it is also seeing its average age rise, something that we need to keep an eye on.  If people want to grow old in the community they love, there should be ways to make that possible for them.

Maybe we should go back a few steps... Let's talk about "assisted living" and where it fits into our current situation...

Assisted living can most plainly be explained by showing the progression of services available to elderly or infirm people:

-Independent Living-- You are on your own either in your own home or in an apartment.  You may receive outside help with daily activities, but it is not provided by your housing establishment... You arrange that yourself with your loved ones or social services.  Local example:  Sawtooth Ridges Apartments.

-Assisted Living--  You are not infirm, but are in need of help with daily activities such as meals, medication, bathing, dressing, and transportation, but you can manage yourself and feed yourself.  At assisted living facilities these things are standard along with 24 hour supervision and security.  Most assisted living facilities have a nurse on staff 24 hours a day as well for emergencies.  Memory care services and other medical services may be available based on the facility.  Local example: Silver Bay Carefree Living.

-Long-Term Medical Care-- You are infirm or have a medical situation that requires frequent professional attention.  This is a wide category that can go from short term rehabilitation to long term geriatric care or memory care, but stops before end of life planning or hospice care.  Local example: Cook County Care Center

-End of Life Planning or Hospice-- Focused on giving the patient the best quality of life as they approach the end of it, hospice care deals with not only the physical symptoms of late-stage illnesses, but the emotional challenges as well.  The nearest certified hospice to us in Grand Marais is Duluth, although Care Partners does offer many of the same services that a hospice program would.

-Other options-- We have a few unique care options in our community as well, one is Hillhaven Assisted Housing, which is not a licensed assisted living complex, but is able to offer similar services.  Hillhaven would fit in right between Independent Living and Assisted Living.

So you can see that we do have considerable resources available in our community, but there is a gap.  That gap comes in the area of assisted living.  How can we fill that need without compromising the systems that we already have though?  That is really the question and the one that we are seeking to answer right now.  In the past months I have met with a few of the members of the North Shore Health Care Foundation and have had numerous conversations on this topic with medical leaders in our community.  It was clear in these conversations that we need to look into assisted living, but we need to do it in a smart and thoughtful process.  This process includes the practitioners currently practicing in our community for feedback, it considers the majority of the residents of our county as they realistically would be the beneficiaries of such a facility, it includes considerations for our aging population (but not based on it... we hope to attract more young families to our area as well!), as well as other considerations that we have not yet figured out.

Our first step is to submit an RFP (request for proposal) to several of the companies we are aware of who can do a study such as this.  We are in the process of doing this right now.  Once we have heard back and know who can do this study for us, we will gather interested stakeholders together with the firm doing the study so that the people with something at stake can give feedback and input into the design of the study.  Once a thorough design is agreed upon, the firm will complete the study and will submit that back to the City.  It is then up to the City to invite assisted living providers to review the study and see if they would be able to successfully offer services in a community showing the characteristics that ours has.  *This study will most likely be paid for through a grant from the North Shore Healthcare Foundation, an organization that works for the betterment of healthcare on the North Shore.

What could happen out of this?

Scenario #1: The study comes back and shows a dramatic need for assisted living.  In this scenario, the City would extend invitations to assisted living providers to create a proposal for a facility in Grand Marais.  Based on the study and common sense, the City would then select a provider who would then build their facility (with their own money) and would go into business in our community.  The only investment that the City would have into this scenario would likely be infrastructure, which potentially could be off-set through IRRRB development grants...

Scenario #2: The study comes back and shows a minor need for assisted living.  In this scenario, the same process as #1 would be followed, but there may not be as many providers chomping at the bit to move into our community if the prospects for a strong business are not there.  We could end up with an assisted living facility in our community with this scenario, or we could, at least, know how to re-tool our current care options to better serve those in our community.

Scenario #3: The study comes back and shows a low or non-existent need for assisted living.  In this scenario, the City has done its due diligence and, although it is incredibly trying for families who have to move their loved ones away, there is not much that can be done for new services.  The study will show us where our weaknesses and strengths are in care services, so this could be a great opportunity to re-tool our current offerings to meet the needs of our community.

*Honestly I am not sure which of these scenarios is going to come to fruition, but I do know a few things about this whole process:
1. It will result in better care for our residents.  Either through the construction of a new facility or the re-tooling of our current offerings, this sounds like how we are going to get the information we need.
2. If assisted living comes to our community, it will mean several good jobs will come with it... Meaningful jobs working with the people that built up our community... this looks good to me.
3. The timing is right.  With the remodeling at the hospital occurring in the coming years, it is important to incorporate their expectations for their new facility, and think about how an assisted living facility can benefit them (keeping community members in the community longer...).

*Here are a few of my concerns about the process:
1. Assisted living will squeeze out or stress one of the other providers in our community.  We will do everything we can to prevent this through the structure of the study to the selection of an assisted living provider if that comes to pass.
2. Where will this facility be built if it is needed?  The City has some land that could be used, but would that mean that the City would be donating land to this project?  What kind of requirements would we put on the facility in that case?  In other words...
3. How do we protect the City if this thing fails?  I think that one is pretty self-evident...
4. How are we going to get workers for this facility?  Can we expect people to move up here to take jobs at this facility?  Where are those people going to live?  Will their salaries be enough to support them up here?  Do we have training opportunities for local residents to get certified to work at an assisted living facility?  I would love to see this be an opportunity for Cook County residents to find a meaningful career in our community, how can we make that happen?

In closing I would like to say that this process is going to be informed by our community's healthcare professionals and will move carefully through considering the next steps.  I am optimistic that we will get the information necessary to meet the needs of our community; I just don't know what that looks like yet...
As always, if you would like to discuss this, please let me know and I would love to find a time to talk with you about it.
Categories: Member Feeds

Heart of the Continent

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 03/22/2015 - 6:56am

What is the Heart of the Continent you say?  Read on to find out!




National Geographic and Heart of the Continent Partnership

Introduce Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and Website


Geotourism: Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and well-being of its residents


DULUTH, MN; THUNDER BAY, ON (March 18, 2015)—Travelers seeking unspoiled places and culturally authentic experiences now have a valuable new resource in a comprehensive “Geotourism MapGuide” and website for the Heart of the Continent region. The landmark project has taken two years to plan and execute and is a historically significant asset for everyone who visits or lives in the region.

The Geotourism MapGuide, with its Heart of the Continent Mobile App, highlights the enchanted landscapes and enduring people of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario.  It is designed to showcase to local, national and international audiences the natural, cultural and historic attractions that define the region.

All sites and attractions that have been nominated and now reside on the website are invited to attend and receive their certificate of participation from National Geographic Society.  The keynote speaker is James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society.

National Geographic’s acclaimed mapmaking and sustainable tourism expertise helped produce the Geotourism website along with the U.S. Forest Service, Ontario Parks, Voyageurs National Park, Fort William Historical Park, Tourism Northern Ontario, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, Thunder Bay Tourism, St. Louis County, City of Duluth, Arrowhead Regional Development Corporation, Atikokan Economic Development Corporation and many others.

The Heart of the Continent area designated for the map stretches from the outer boundaries of Duluth, Minnesota northeast along the North Shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, then west to International Falls/Fort Frances and south along St. Louis County’s western border, including communities and private and public lands. Since the project was launched in February 2014, locals have nominated for inclusion more than 400 of their favorite points of interest; historic, cultural and natural landmarks; events; artisans; and attractions that capture the region’s unique character and beauty. The website may be viewed at  Residents and visitors may continue to nominate new sites, events and special places for the website, which will be dynamic and constantly changing.

“The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and website showcase what makes the region so culturally and geographically significant,” said James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society. “More than ever, this project underscores the importance of connecting the local trans-border communities, smartly sharing the region’s tremendous scenic, historic and cultural assets, and helping them thrive together for future generations.”

The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide:

  • Is one of only 22 Geotourism programs worldwide
  • Showcases many of the 400-plus sites nominated by local residents
  • Is a resource designed to improve local, rural economic development
  • Provides access to a niche national market of “geo-tourists”
  • Will grow with the addition of hundreds of more sites and events
  • Highlights the resources of the region encompassing a major portion of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario, including communities and over five million acres of public land
  • Provides a long-term resource for promoting the Heart of the Continent to the nation and the world.

“Heart of the Continent Geotourism partners see this project as a great opportunity to work closely with other groups to promote the region and its assets,” said Paul Pepe, Tourism Manager for the City of Thunder Bay.

“The Geotourism strategy for the Heart of the Continent will strengthen the case for responsible, meaningful tourism by embracing all tourism assets uniquely distinctive to the locale. Effective stewardship of these economic assets will produce benefits in a way that encourages the type of investment needed to preserve our unique heritage. We’re thrilled to see the partnership that has developed with National Geographic and local organizations in this regard,” said Frank Jewell, St. Louis County Commissioner.

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar Geotourism MapGuides and websites in other regions around the world. Geotourism MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing including in the Central Cascades (Oregon, Washington), Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah), Greater Yellowstone (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), Lakes to Locks Passage (New York, Quebec), Newfoundland, Portugal’s Douro Valley, Redwood Coast (California), Sierra Nevada (California, Nevada), and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzagovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.)

Founded in 1915 as the Map Department of the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Maps is responsible for illustrating the world around us through the art and science of mapmaking. Today, National Geographic Maps continues this mission by creating the world’s best wall maps, outdoor recreation maps, travel maps, atlases and globes that inspire people to care about and explore their world. For more information, visit



Chris Stromberg

HOCP Coordinator

807 598-1074







Categories: Member Feeds

Dog Days of Spring

Unorganized Territory - Sat, 03/21/2015 - 8:52pm

Fearless in summer 2014

I know that it will be awhile before spring officially arrives. I’m guessing there will be a cold snap and a snowstorm or two before it completely warms up, but we were blessed with a wonderful weekend. The first weekend of March was the “Dog Days of Winter” celebration up the Gunflint Trail. Last weekend could well have been the “Dog Days of Spring” at my house.

My husband Chuck and I took advantage of the springlike day on Sunday and took a short walk up County Road 7 to County Road 13 in Grand Marais—known as either Olson Brothers Road, Lamson Farm Road, or Fall River Road—depending on what generation you’re from. It’s a short walk for our “puppy”—almost twoyear old heeler/border collie mix Trouble—but too long for our almost 14-year-old golden retriever Fearless.

So we took the puppy on the walk with us, which usually isn’t a problem. Old dog Fearless doesn’t pay too much attention to what Trouble is doing. He’s hard of hearing and doesn’t see well, so we can normally get the leash on Trouble and get out the door without him noticing. For some reason, that was not the case this day. When he saw us getting her pink leash, Fearless lumbered down the basement stairs and sat stubbornly in front of the door.

He really wanted to go for a walk, but we know that he can barely walk to the end of our driveway, much less the half mile or so to County Road 13, so I gave him a big hug and petted him and said, “Stay.”

I felt terrible making him stay home. He watched sadly out the glass door as we walked down the driveway with the hyper puppy. The walk with her was fun because she’s a bit like Tigger of Winnie-the-Pooh, springing along beside us with a doggy grin; sniffing furiously and chasing pebbles and bits of ice. She could have walked—bounced—for miles.

When we got home, Fearless was still awake and watching, so I decided to take him for a short walk. I headed back down the driveway with both dogs, with Fearless walking slowly, painstakingly placing his old paws, while Trouble bounced and danced and had to be reminded frequently to heel.

As we headed down hill on the driveway, Fearless actually jogged a bit, a happy golden retriever smile on his gray muzzle. When we got to the bottom of the driveway and went to turn around, Fearless resisted. I swear he looked longingly up County Road 7. Was he remembering the hundreds of walks we had taken with him since puppyhood?

Although he was huffing and puffing, I couldn’t refuse. We crossed the road as quickly as I could get him across and walked slowly up the road for a little while. I figured we’d go as far as our neighbor’s driveway and turn around, but then I remembered how Fearless likes to splash in the water by the big culvert at the curve in the road, so we went a little farther.

The culvert was still frozen and snow-covered, but both dogs enjoyed sniffing the spot. Fearless was a bit shaky getting through the ditch’s deep snow as we returned to the road, but his eyes were bright and he still wore a grizzled dog smile. But I figured that was enough of a walk.

We retraced our steps, with the puppy leading the way and the old dog plodding along, slowing the process even more with much sniffing and attempting to eat dried grass.

Although the puppy could have probably gone on a third hike up and down the road, it was good enough. I was glad I didn’t have to carry a 70-pound plus dog home. And Fearless seemed more than happy to get inside to collapse in his favorite sleeping spot in the living room.

It was a good enough adventure for the start of the dog days of spring.


Of course what he most intensely dreams of is being taken out on walks, and the more you are able to indulge him the more will he adore you and the more all the latent beauty of his nature will come out.

Henry James

Categories: Member Feeds