Do you have a unique idea on how to make a place great? The Great Place Race is looking for you and your great idea to make more great places in Cook County and Grand Portage. The Great Place Race is a friendly, local competition for mini-grants to use high impact, low cost ideas to create great places in our communities.
What makes a Great Place?
A place that is inviting, beautiful, and catches the eye. A Great Place encourages people to slow down and spend time there. A Great Place reflects the unique character and identity of the community. To help enhance and create these great places, Moving Matters and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce will give out seed grants of $250-$1,000 to folks in Cook County or Grand Portage that have a compelling plan to use high impact and low cost ideas to make a place great. Projects need to be completed by July 31, 2014 and be put in place by the applicant. The mini-grant can cover the cost of items like planters, plants, paint, signs, chairs, public art, community gardens, bike racks, and much more.
How to Apply
The short, simple application is available here or paper copies available at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic front desk. Deadline for applications is April 30th. For more information, contact Maren Webb at 218-387-2330 x110 or email@example.com.
The Great Place Race is sponsored by the Moving Matters project of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. The Moving Matters project, with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Center for Prevention, is working to create safer and more accessible places to walk and bike in Cook County and Grand Portage.
If you haven’t put your canoe trip on the calendar yet then it’s time to do so. I have to do the same thing or the summer flies by without them happening. The challenge is finding room on the calendar for all of the trips I want to take.
Last year I took Josh and a friend into a secret lake in the BWCA for a few days and they want to do a repeat of it. They had a grand time paddling around the lake, catching fish and swimming. I also took Josh and 5 of his friends for a basecamp trip on Saganaga for a few nights. They too want to do that trip again this year. Then there’s the church youth group that wants to go out into the Boundary Waters again this summer and my one girlfriend and I want to get out together again. We want to take a family trip and I’d love to get a solo canoe trip in as well. I fear there aren’t enough days in the summer for all of the paddling and camping I want to do.
If only the paddling season lasted as long as winter has this year. Hopefully you will be able to get all of the canoe trips you want to take to fit onto your summer calendar, it’s definitely time to start thinking about summer.
4/13/14 - Today's ice measurement on Sawbill Lake is 31".
4/12/14 - Today's ice measurement is 35" with the top 6" highly degraded and honeycombed. The first ice-out lakes have been reported in southern Minnesota. We are usually about a month later, but it depends entirely on the weather.
We had a nice visit the other day from the new interns at North House Folk School. Former crew member, Jessa Frost, is the program director at North House and Sawbill's own Cindy Hansen works there part time. If you're interested in traditional crafts, you will love North House. - Bill
(Front to back) Emily Derke and Mary Cowen - NH interns, Leif Gilsvik, Jessa Frost, Austin Kennedy - NH intern, and the ever graceful Cindy Hansen. Photo by Nils John Anderson.
After yesterday’s nice and sunny sky today’s sky is a stark contrast. It’s been a dreary day and the sun did not even peek out to say, “Hello.” We even saw some snow flurries in the sky. I won’t let that dampen my enthusiasm for the nice weather that is eventually going to be the main stay. While the cold wind may have been blowing it cannot last much longer. The lakes will thaw, the snow will melt and summer will be here once again.
Butter Braids, magazines, Schwan’s, Little Ceasars and Special Cookies all have something in common. They are all things my kids have been trying to sell for fundraisers this year. I used to think having Abby sell Girl Scout Cookies was a pain but now I know that I had barely scratched the surface of fundraising.
I know I shouldn’t complain. I remember selling light bulbs and poinsetta plants door to door when I was a kid but in case you haven’t noticed, times are different these days. Even in the small town of Grand Marais you don’t send your kid door to door. First of all they don’t have any free time to do it, second of all they don’t know everyone and lastly it’s not the smartest or safest thing to do.
I understand fundraising can keep overall costs of a program from being super expensive. I just sometimes wish they would charge more or offer a buy out because it’s the parents who end up dealing with the deliveries.
I recently heard a friend of mine say, “How many magazine subscriptions does one person need?” One would be too many for me so when I get those envelopes in the mail I just toss them into the garbage. The kids get “points” for just mailing them out anyway.
So, if you ever find yourself in need of a magazine subscription ask me, chances are I could fit it into one of the many fundraisers my kids are doing. And when you come to my house don’t be shocked to find 20 Little Ceasar Pizza Kits, 30 buckets of frozen cookie dough or a stack of Butter Braids in the freezer, it’s a heck of a lot easier just to buy them all and eat them ourselves then ask another person if they want to buy something to help my kid.
4/11/14 - The first measurement on the countdown to ice-out on Sawbill Lake was taken yesterday. 33" of ice was the official reading.
Sawbill crew member Leif Gilsvik puts his back into it for the first daily ice measurement leading to the open water season. Photo by Nils John Anderson.
That said, we've lost at least half our snow pack in the last few days. A high sun, warm winds and temps near 50 have all taken a toll. I estimate an average snow depth of about 18", down form nearly 40" at the beginning of the week. - Bill
New and hopefully improved leadership for the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario.New leadership for Quetico Park
by Jessica Smith on April 9, 2014
Quetico Park’s new superintendent, Trevor Gibb, hails from London – “Ontario’s banana belt” in his words – but has clocked a few miles around Canada. While most recently he served as assistant superintendent for the Cochrane area cluster of 29 provincial parks, he started out working in the provincial parks system in 2003 at the Killarney wilderness park as a warden, before advancing.
Because “the role was seasonal, I was able to do my education in the winters.” He earned his geography degree at the University of Western Ontario, then completed a teaching degree at Mt. St. Vincent University, Hailfax, in 2009. The next year he spent teaching high school at Iqaluit, on Baffin Island. The community of 5,000 Inuit residents had class sizes similar to Atikokan’s.
“It was an amazing experience. I had the students out on the ice once a week, skiing, traditional fishing and seal hunting. Sometimes I would give my head a shake, and think ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting paid to take these kids out and do these traditional activities with them,” said Gibb.
His return to park management in Cochrane was as a replacement to Jennifer Lukacic who came to Quetico in 2011 as an assistant superintendent. (For the past five months, Lukacic has filled in as acting superintendent here, following Jeff Bonnema’s departure.)
“Parks are where my values lie. I love protected areas and getting out in the wilderness,” said Gibb.
He has been on the job for three weeks, and part of his work has been on the public review of the preliminary park management plan. He said he is committed to working with all stakeholders, including Lac La Croix FN, which shares in managing the park’s western area through the 1994 Agreement of Co-Existence. (He and assistant superintendent Blier visited Lac La Croix last week.)
The management plan, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2010, “may be finalized in the next couple of years. We’re not going to rush it; we want to make sure [we] get input from all those who have a local interest,” said Gibb, who will address Council April 14 to introduce himself to the Town and discuss management plans and objectives.
Handling one large park like Quetico is no less complex than the ‘clusters of smaller parks in the northeastern part of the province he said.
“Quetico is such a complex park, that there are a number of pieces to deal with,” he said, adding however, that in the past, he has overseen areas where it was logistically very difficult to get into all of the parks (many, like White Otter, that are non-operating), requiring travel by train, float plane or helicopter. In that respect, “It’s nice to be able to focus on one piece of real estate.”
“I understand Quetico is a special place within Ontario Park’s system, and the importance of maintaining its impact on a provincial, national and global scale, and maintaining its ecological integrity and its value to park users. And also the importance of that continued partnership with Lac La Croix in the management and operation of the park.”
Gibb said he loves the north, snow (he’s already bought a snowmobile and hopes to get involved in curling and cross-country skiing), and the wilderness areas, and as someone who enjoys fishing and canoeing, he is looking forward to hitting the lakes here. Gibb adds that he is going to have to learn the ‘hut stroke,’ as he has observed it seems to be the preferred paddling technique here.
He will be joined here shortly by partner Bridget, a biologist who is studying for her Masters at the University of Manitoba.
New assistant superintendent Jason Blier (pronounced the French way, Blee-eh) and wife Crystal actually moved here when he began his position last fall. A self-described “northern boy” born and raised in Schreiber, he said Atikokan and Quetico is a great place to put down roots. Like Gibb, his education background isn’t in park management. In fact, he studied physics, math and computer science at Lakehead University and electrical engineering at Confederation College – what he calls a “techy geeky background.”
“I love the mechanics of things like snowmobiles, computers… I love diving into a technical manual. I’m a lot of fun at parties,” he joked. (That passion has come in handy for Gibb however, who relied on Blier’s technical expertise in his snowmobile purchase).
So with a technical background, how has he wound up working in parks?
“My whole life has revolved around parks. I am a child of parks,” said Blier. “My earliest memories were camping in parks with my grandparents and parents, and that helped formed my values system.”
He started out as a maintenance worker in 1996 and held various positions in parks such as Neys and Rainbow Falls, before becoming acting superintendent for a year and a half for the 27 parks in the Nipigon and North Shore area. In fact the park cluster he managed shared a boundary with Gibb’s jurisdiction. Since 2008, he has served as assistant – and most recently acting superintendent – of Kakabeka Falls and its 12 adjacent provincial parks.
Blier will take on the operations, logistics and staffing functions for Quetico, and said he sees “a bright future for the park.”
Since he has already had a little time to settle in here, he said he loves the town, is fascinated by its history (particularly the Steep Rock Mine diversion, both the engineering brilliance, and the environmental quandary left in its wake), and the wilderness here. He enjoys paddling, but his water vessel of choice is a kayak.
“My wife is very happy here too; we plan on making this our home,” he adds. The couple are animal lovers and own horses and three dogs.
Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting for April 8: Tower Lighting, Kelly Hill's Road, VeteranTransportation
Representing herself, Deb Benedict came before the County Board to express her concern about the white strobe light planned for the 350' tower north of Grand Marais. Rena Rogers, IS Director, explained that this decision was made by the Communications Committee based on cost, risk mitigation, and impact to the community. Rogers reported that a low scatter LED light has been specified. An alternative to the lighting would be to paint the tower in a candystripe fashion with alternating red and white paint. The County Board will consider Benedict's request, but need more information on the pros and cons of both alternatives.
Community Center Director, Diane Booth, came before Board with a revision of the Community Center Board of Trustees By-Laws. The Commissioners had several questions regarding the revisions and will forward them to Jay Kieft for compilation. Booth will incorporate changes as appropriate and re-present to the Board.
Booth presented the Board with the recently updated Community Center Fee Schedule.
The County Board approved the purchase of a Cyclone DP48 Sand Blast Cabinet for $1725 plus freight. This purchase is in the 2014 Highway Department budget.
The Board authorized the Highway Department to advertise for bids for a) aggregate stockpile, b) liquid calcium chloride, and c) summer road maintenance bids for Evergreen Road, Voyageur's Point Road, Mile O'Pine Road, West Rosebush Lane, and Rosebush Hill.
The Board authorized awarding (2) service contract bids for geotechnical borings and evaluation to Braun Intertec Corporation based on low bid.
The Board authorized the Highway Department to solicit proposals for design of the CR46 Bridge. It is anticipated that State Local Bridge Replacement Bonds will be used to pay for the bridge replacement.
New Director Information System and Communications
Rena Rogers, recently hired Information Systems and Communications director, came before the Board to share initial observations of her new position. Rogers shared that she has felt very welcome by the Board and county employees. She talked about her vision to make County business more effective both internally and externally.
Land Use Guide Plan Steering Committee
Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ) Director, Tim Nelson presented the Land Use Guide Plan Update Committee recommendations for reviewing the existing Land Use plan, identifying issues, and updating the Land Use Guide Plan. The county will contract with Consultant John Powers to lead the process which will include opportunities for public input, including (2) public meetings.
Mark Sandbo request
Mark Sandbo came before the Board requesting a letter of support for him to continue serving on the Governor's Council on Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program. The Board agreed to provide the letter as requested.
Kelly's Hill Road
At the request of the County Attorney's office, Baiers Heeren reviewed correspondence from Kelly's Hill Road Maintenance Association (KHRMA), applicable statutes and real estate record relating to Kelly's Hill Road. Heeren reported that there is no record evidence that establishes Kelly's Hill Road as a Town Road or subsequently as a county road or highway. Jeff Wenz of KHRMA expressed surprise and disappointment at this finding and will need some time to review the written opinion provided by Heeren.
National Crime Victim's Rights Week
The Board approved Jeanne Smith's request to create an informational display in the Courthouse lobby during National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
County Assessor, Betty Schulz, provided a progress report on the Assessor Office's work in their quintile property review as required by the State. This past year, 2660 reviews have been completed including north Hovland, Grand Marais, new construction and land. Commissioners Doo-Kirk, Martinson and Gamble complimented them on their work.
Superior National Golf Course Bonding
The Board discussed pros and cons for creating an abatement of property taxes for certain Lutsen area properties and pledging that revenue for payment of financing a portion of the Superior National Golf Course renovation. Commissioner Hakes raised multiple concerns, most notably the risk in this proposal. No action was taken, but Commissioner Doo-Kirk requested that all questions regarding this matter be forwarded to her in writing to be delivered to the EDA.
Veteran's Transportation Services
Commissioner Hakes reported on a meeting she attended with VSO Clarence Everson and VSO Pat Strand to discuss transportation for Veteran's from remote rural areas in northeastern MN to Vet medical facilities in Minneapolis. Hakes reported that Reggie Worlds, MN DVA Deputy Commissioner, is securing $200,000 in funding to purchase (1) bus and (2) vans. Subsequent planning meetings will be held to determine routes, schedules, van locations, and other details necessary to provide this service. This is good news for northeastern MN veterans! Stay tuned for more information.
Spring 2014 Declarations for Spearing
The Board discussed the 2014 Declaration for Spearing in the 1854 ceded territory. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has worked with the State of MN to develop a list of lakes authorized by the Band for spearing walleye. Cook County lakes include Ball Club, Caribou, Cascade, Elbow, Fourmile, Pike, Tait and Tom. The Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands will not spear walleyes in the 1854 treaty area.
Road Maintenance Funds for Superior National Forest
The Board passed a motion requesting the USFS properly maintain the roads within its jurisdiction and increase future dollars budgeted for road maintenance within the Superior National Forest. Well maintained USFS roads are important to tourists, local residents, loggers and firefighters.
Official meeting minutes for today may be accessed by going to the Cook County website or by calling the County Administrator's Office at 218-387-3602. A video of this meeting may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.
Regular readers know that I like winter. I enjoy watching snow falling on the trees and shrubs along my driveway, turning it into a Currier and Ives scene. I like snowshoeing and snowmobiling and watching my grandchildren ski. I admire the frost pictures on my windows and the lovely way snow glistens like glitter in the bright sun.
I like how refreshing it is to step outside on a cold day. And I love how good it feels to come back inside to warm up. I’m proud that I know how to layer appropriately so I don’t get cold when the Polar Vortex passes through.
We seemed to have more than our share of bitterly cold days this year. Although this winter reminds me a lot of winters when I was growing up here on the North Shore. Now, I’m not going to share some sad tale of having to walk to school in a blizzard…up hill, both ways… but I do remember waiting for the school bus on brutally cold days. I remember our elementary school principal, Mr. James, chasing us out of the school entryway into the cold because we were too noisy.
No, winter wasn’t always fun. But it seemed like we always had enough snow to build snowmen and snow forts and to go sledding. I keep telling people this is a good old-fashioned winter.
Maybe that is why I keep thinking about the games we played and the way we passed time in the winter when I was a kid. The giant snowbanks remind me of many games of “King of the Hill.” The open expanse of our septic drain field tempts me to go make a snow angel like we used to do long ago. Of course many recess hours were spent throwing snowballs at one another, even though it was prohibited.
I also remember a really silly game, one that could only happen in our snowy clime. Some childhood friends and I used to pretend we had somehow been transported to a giant’s world. We were trapped in a giant bowl of ice cream— bright, white, vanilla ice cream! We had to make a hiding place so the giant didn’t find us.
I’ve always liked looking at snow that way, trying to see more than just semi-permanent ground cover. The clumps piled up by the snow plow? Like fluffy white clouds in the sky, if you look at them imaginatively you can see polar bears or dragons.
And then there is the oobleck snow. The most recent snowstorm that passed through brought a downfall of heavy, sticky, snowflakes, reminding me of one of my favorite children’s books, Bartholomew and the Oobleck.
The Dr. Seuss story may not be familiar to everyone as it isn’t written in Theodor Geisel’s usual poetic meter. No, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, like its preceding story the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, isn’t written in Dr. Seuss’s usual poetic style. Instead it is simple prose telling the story of King Derwin of Didd who was tired of rain, sun, fog and snow. The king called on his royal magicians to make something new fall from the sky. What falls is oobleck— sticky green globs that wreak havoc on the kingdom.
In the story, young page boy Bartholomew Huggins comes to the rescue by getting King Derwin to say the magic words—not the words the magicians said to create the oobleck, “Shuffle, Duffle, Muzzle Muff”—but simply “I’m sorry.”
Once Bartholomew convinces King Derwin to say the magic words, the sun comes out and the oobleck melts away. It’s a nice story, ending with the King declaring a holiday to celebrate the four things that should come from the sky—rain, sun, fog and snow.
So although heavy, clumpy, sticky snowflakes are white instead of green, they make me think of the Kingdom of Didd getting gooped up with oobleck.
Oobleck-like snow makes me think of the gentle wisdom of Dr. Seuss via Bartholomew Cubbins. Don’t be arrogant. Say you’re sorry when you’ve made a mistake. And appreciate what you have— even if it’s another five inches of snow.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The people who are successful are those
who are grateful for everything they have.
Snowshoe season is here!
We’re wrapping up the ski season on the Central Gunflint Trail System. While it’s true that we still have a great deal of snow (with more in the forecast), grooming conditions have become quite difficult. Due to the daily freeze /thaw cycles that we experience now, the skiing may actually be better on ungroomed sections. It’s adventure skiing now!
We will concentrate our grooming efforts on Summerhome, Campground, and Oxcart Ski Trails until snow temps approach 32 degrees, at which time we’re done for the day. We will continue to try to groom those for as long as we get passable results; no promises on how long that will be at this point, as it just doesn’t groom up to our high expectations in these conditions.
The good news: this is the only time each year when we open up our ungroomed trails for snowshoeing. It’s a great opportunity to get back into the deep woods trails that you can normally only experience on skis. Snowshoes and trail passes are complimentary for our guests. Stop by the front desk to get them. If you’re staying elsewhere, trail tickets are half price, and we do rent very nice snowshoes.
Please stop by the front desk at Bearskin for trail maps, trail advice, and information about the ever-changing spring conditions. Snowshoeing on this ski trail system only happens once a year, so take advantage of this fun spring opportunity!
We can also advise you about what is still open in the area. April is the off-season on the Gunflint Trail and in Grand Marais; the majority of resorts and businesses are now closed until sometime in mid-May. We’ll be happy to help you find the restaurants and lodges that are still open for business during this quiet time.
The bitter temps and short days of January left me feeling a little more closed in this year than in the past.
Today was a sunny beautiful day. Children were sledding, guests were skiing snowmobiling, and fishing and the phone has been ringing off the hook. Perhaps I’m not alone in my feeling of cabin fever! – I had a mind to hang a note on the door and head out for a snowshoe workout
We’ve had such great snowfall recently, nearly 10 inches since Friday. Today was a nice break, but tomorrow’s promise is for 4-8 more inches. The snowbanks are higher than I’ve seen in a long time.
The 2013 Mush for a Cure “fun”d-raiser is just around the corner. The event has changed a bit this year – with the start and end all happening out front on the lake! Starting with a pancake breakfast fundraiser sponsored by Upper Lakes Foods, you can watch the Mushers set up on the lake, start the race and wait for the results.
If you’re in the area or just want to drive up to watch the fun it’s a crazy pink day!!
Tomorrow, Friday, trail groomers will be out on the west end of the Banadad. The east end will be groomed the next day.
Tomorrow it is also going to warm up to above zero for the first time in days. Last night/this morning the temperature hit negative 36.
Day 12 – The Last Day of Gifting….
Today is the 12th Day of Gifting! Can you believe it? Tomorrow is the last Elfin’ Saturday before Christmas! On this final day, we thought long and hard on who we would feature. He or She had to be a slam bang finish to a truly incredible list of artists. I think you will all agree, we could not have chosen a better artist for Day 12. With great pleasure, I introduce … read more
Day 11 – Glass Totems & Raku
On Day 11 of our 12 Days of Gifting, we bring you Nancy Seaton‘s Fused Glass Totems and Richard Gruchalla & Carrin Rosetti’s Raku fired pottery!
Most notorious for her watercolors, Nancy Seaton expanded to beautiful fused glass totems in the early spring of 2013. When put near the window, these totems come to life. With the unique designs and gorgeous colors dancing in the light, her totems are a … read more
Day 10– Monica Hansmeyer
On Day 10 of the 12 Days of Gifting, we introduce the jeweler responsible for all of our jewelry dreams… Monica Hansmeyer of Seven Sister Design!
Monica Hansmeyer is just plain… COOL! If you have had the pleasure to meet the woman behind Seven Sister Design, you know what I mean. With a friendly smile, farm girl charm and jewelry to die for, it’s easy to see why her jewelry has more devoted fans than we can … read more
Day 9 – Wood ya Look at THAT?
Day 9 is focused on wood, wood-like products, faux wood painting, birch ceramic mugs…. You get the idea! In this day of Wood, let me mention the three groups of artists to be highlighted; Larch Wood, Grant-Noren, and Lenore Lampi.
Larch Wood, based in Nova Scotia, specializes in “end-grain” cutting boards that are praised as works of functional art. Their small, select group of crafts people work exclusively with the native Eastern Canadian … read more
Did you really think we would do a “12 days of Gifting” without mentioning Rick Allen and Marian Lansky of Kenspeckle Letterpress??
I didn’t think so….
As you all know, Rick Allen is possibly Siiviis and Sivertson Gallery’s most popular artist. Without a doubt, he is certainly the most hilarious! His work brings happiness, love and laughter to all… Truly a wonderful gift to give this holiday season.
Bear Ass Sauna
Trapper’s Daughter and the Long View
Grand … read more
Day 7 – Hot Tea and Books!
Shiver me Elfin’ timbers…. It is close to -20 below in some parts of Cook County on this 7th Day of Gifting!! In this spirit we bring you “Hot Tea and Beautiful Book Day!”
A favorite memory of many Sivertson shoppers is our year-round complementary hot tea. Right when you walk in the door, you can stop by our tea stand and choose from an assortment of delicious Harney and Sons blends. Over 30 years … read more