Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Predictions and precautions for 2015 fire season

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:50pm

There’s a prediction that the spring of 2015 may be an active fire season.  WTIP’s Ann Possis spoke with Nancy Larson and Patti Johnson of the USDA Forest Service on Daybreak.

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Grand Marais HIghway 61 redesign may receive TAP funds

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 10:35am

Highlighting the March 24 county board meeting was the announcement by Jared Beldez of the Arrowhead Regional Development Council (ARDC) who said out of eight grant requests totaling $2.8 million that the Northeast Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership (TAP) received, it recommended awarding $600,000 to the Grand Marais Highway 61 redesign project.

Beldez said that TAP only had $900,000 to grant this year, and only one other project, the St. Louis Trail Project, was selected to receive $300,000.  

The Highway 61 Redesign project has been getting suggestions from citizens through meetings and online about ways to improve safety and enhance the main corridor through the city. Part of that goal is to build a continuous pedestrian and bike path in the highway corridor along with making storm water improvements.

Although the two grants haven’t been formally approved, Beldez said a board would review requests on April 9, with announcements coming on April 15.


This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Senator Klobuchar calls for action to preserve the monarch butterfly

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 10:33am

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is calling for action to preserve the monarch butterfly, whose population has dropped by 90 percent since the 1990s.

Klobuchar sent a bipartisan letter with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) urging the administration to pursue public-private partnerships to help save the monarch. She recently joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an event announcing the agency’s new preservation efforts.

 In a letter to the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Transportation, Klobuchar and Collins highlighted the need to build on existing efforts to preserve the butterfly by launching new partnerships that will help stop its decline. Specifically, the senators proposed new public-private partnerships including planting milkweed in electric utility rights of way, which would not only benefit migrating monarch butterflies but could also reduce costs for utility companies for vegetation management.

 Klobuchar also attended an event today with USFWS, where the agency announced a cooperative agreement with the National Wildlife Federation on projects to promote monarch butterfly habitat and a new initiative with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that will leverage public-private partnerships to strengthen conservation projects.

 “From school yards to back yards, everyone can play a part in helping preserve the monarch butterfly by planting milkweed in their communities,” Klobuchar said. “With the butterfly rapidly disappearing, I am pleased to see the Fish and Wildlife Service taking positive steps to reverse its decline. But we all must do more. It will take all hands on deck to protect the butterfly from extinction, and I will continue to call on public agencies, the private sector and American citizens to join together in the effort to protect the monarch butterfly.”


Eric Thomas remembered with scholarship at Grand Marais Art Colony

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 1:15am

The Grand Marais Art Colony and Leah Thomas are excited to announce the creation of the Eric Thomas Emerging Artist Award, in memory of Leah’s brother Eric (1956 - 2013).  This annual scholarship will provide full tuition and cost of materials for a young Cook County artist to attend a Grand Marais Art Colony class of their choice.

Eric Thomas grew up one block from the Grand Marais Art Colony.  As a child, he took classes there and developed a life-long appreciation for the work of north shore artists.  Leah Thomas said, “This award is designed to support and encourage gifted young artists and to remember my brothers’ spirit of generosity, love of the north shore, artistic talent, and appreciation of fine art.” 

Cook County high school students who are completing their sophomore or junior year, or the equivalent home school program, are eligible to apply.  The winning scholarship recipient will demonstrate clear artistic interest, originality, and motivation.  “This is such a great opportunity for our students to expand on what they are learning in school.  Art allows students to hone artistic skills but also gain confidence and explore something they’ve never done before,” said high school Art Teacher Mary MacDonald.

Applications will be available beginning March 15 and must be submitted by April 23.  More information and applications are available from the Art Colony or Mary MacDonald. The scholarship will be presented at the annual ISD 166 award ceremony each spring. 

Art Colony Executive Director Amy Demmer commented, “The Art Colony is honored to offer this scholarship in partnership with the Thomas family.  The arts have been a part of Cook County culture for a long time.  It is important that local youth have the opportunity to experiment creatively as part of their legacy of growing up here.”

The Great Place Project wants to know about your special place

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 1:32pm

It’s the second year for the Great Place Project, offering mini-grants for places that reflect the unique character and identity of the community. WTIP host Mark Abrahamson spoke with Kris Garey and Maren Webb about the Great Place Project. 


Applications are available online or at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic front desk and are due by March 31st.  More information from Maren at 387-2330 or online at


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Commissioners resolve tower controversy – for now

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 10:02am

On Tuesday, Cook County Commissioners unanimously voted to support a 180 foot ARMER radio tower for the Cascade tower location. MnDOT had considered a 330 foot tower but after further investigation, concluded redundancy and coverage needs would be satisfied by the shorter tower.

MnDOT representative Shane Chatleain said the mandated coverage for the emergency system is 95 percent coverage and MnDOT estimates their coverage in Cook County is 98 percent.
The question of putting up a tower at the end of the Gunflint Trail near Seagull Lake was raised. Chatleain said any decisions were at least a year away and it was not clear at this time if the tower was needed. Some confusion exists over who suggested the Seagull tower. Chatleain said it wasn’t MnDOT. County IS Director Rena Rogers said it may have been suggested by members of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department a while ago.

Commissioners Garry Gamble and Frank Moe made clear they wanted any towers to be a matter of negotiation between MnDOT and the county no matter on whose land the tower would be built. Chatleain agreed the process should be mutual.

Commissioner Jan Sivertson wanted to be sure tower construction was driven by the public safety needs of the ARMER system and not by commercial cell phone interests. Chatleain assured the board he had no authority to offer tower space to commercial interests. He said if MnDOT were approached by a commercial user, they would need to consider it, but he said any income generated by tower space rental would be minor toward offsetting maintenance or power costs.