Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Warmer weather is on the way

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 11:27am

It’ll be cold into the weekend but it’ll soon start to warm up and the next week will be much warmer and very pleasant weather. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson.


Obituary for Don Roberts

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:43am


Don Roberts 73, of Grand Marais, died after a courageous battle with cancer, Wednesday, January 11, 2017, in North Shore Health in Grand Marais.

He was born December 7, 1943, to Donald and Patricia (Brown) Roberts in Duluth.  Don grew up on the East coast and Alaska. He graduated from Holy Cross High School in Delaware.  He enlisted in the Navy after graduation and served 32 years including two tours in Vietnam, where he was wounded twice and received two Purple Hearts.  Don obtained the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer 1st Class before retiring in 1993.  He was a member of the VFW and the American Legion Post #413, Ridge Rider Snowmobile Club, Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association, ATV Club, Ruffed Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited, and the NRA.  Don enjoyed hunting, fishing, being outdoors, Fox News, and watching the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins, and most of all time with his family.

Don was preceded in death by his parents; and a brother, Richard.

He is survived by his wife, Kelly of Grand Marais, children, Troy of Hermantown, Natalie (Tobias) Odipo of Kenya, Krista Roberts of Fargo, North Dakota; brother, Dan (Judy) Roberts of Dover, Delaware; step-brother, Jack Blackwell of Idaho; and Billy Blackwell of Grand Portage; step-sister, Mary (George) Harrelson of Grand Portage; and step-mother Jean Roberts of Grand Marais; five grandchildren, Alec and Sofia of Illinois, Kirralee, Latisha, and Katelyn of Kenya; and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until the 2 p.m.  Memorial Service will be Tuesday, January 17, 2017, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais. Burial will be in Poplar Grove Cemetery at a later date.  To sign the online guestbook please visit

Action at the 2017 Gunflint Mail Run

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 3:39pm

January 7th marked the 6th Annual Gunflint Mail Run since it's revival in 2012. Starting and ending at Trail Center on Poplar Lake up the Gunflint Trail, WTIP's Will Moore was able to catch up with some of the competitors mid-race, as well as talk to many of the folks who made the race a success once again.


Parking restrictions set on Gunflint Trail for Beargrease

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 3:05pm

Parking during the upcoming John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon was a topic discussed this week by the Cook County Commissioners. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reports on this story. 


In a follow-up interview WTIP conducted with Sarah Hamilton, who is the owner of Trailcenter and very involved with a variety of events in the mid-Trail area, including the dog sled races, Hamilton disputed many of the claims that were made by Commissioner Doo-Kirk.

Hamilton says mirrors are not dinged on numerous cars every year during the Mail Run or Beargrease. Hamilton also says there were no sled dog teams on the road on the day Doo-Kirk claimed there were. Furthermore, Hamilton says she has asked the county for road signs notifying traffic of an event ahead during the race and was denied by the highway department on that request.

Hamilton praised the efforts of more than 100 volunteers covering road crossings during dog sled races, including more than 20 at Trailcenter working traffic control on the Gunflint Trail.

Hamilton acknowledges that traffic congestion could well be an inconvenience to some during the race. However, she says overall the events run extremely smooth and have for many years. 

For more information on the upcoming Beargrease, click here. 

Listen to the story here:


Car crashes into Clearview shopping center in Lutsen

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 3:46pm

A vehicle crashed into the front of the Clearview shopping complex in Lutsen on Saturday, January 7.

Betty King, 75, of Tofte, attempted to pull into a parking space at Clearview in her 2006 Saab SUV and was unable to stop. The car broke through the wooden railing on the pedestrian walkway at the front of the store and came to a stop against the masonry wall, breaking one window at the Clearview General Store.

King’s vehicle received damage to the front end. King also sideswiped another vehicle parked at Clearview, a 2011 Nissan van driven by Heath Ekstrom, 44, of Lutsen.

Lutsen First Responders were paged, but were cancelled as there were no injuries.

King told Cook County Law Enforcement that her brakes did not work. The parking lot was icy. No citation was issued.

Gail Thompson of Clearview General Store said the only damage to the general store was the railing that has already been repaired and the window. She said the crash did knock merchandise off of shelves, but there was only minor damage. 

Submitted photo

Community says goodbye to local bank President Mike LaVigne

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 11:06am

After serving as president of the Grand Marais State Bank for the past 33 years, Mike LaVigne is retiring at the end of January.

WTIP's Joe Friedrichs shares this feature on LaVigne and his tenure with the bank. 


Grand Marais PUC hires consultant for solar project planning

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 4:28pm

The Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission is researching alternative energy options such as solar power. Toward that end, at the last PUC meeting on Wednesday, January 4, the commission agreed to hire the consulting firm of Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to analyze the costs and benefits of solar energy production in Grand Marais.
The firm will conduct an analysis for a variety of projects and return to the PUC with a report in March 2017.
Rhonda Silence finds out more in this interview with George Wilkes, PUC board member. 


Norpine Fat Bike Classic spins good times through the cold

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 3:18pm

The Norpine fat tire bike race took place in Cook County on Jan. 7. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this report from the event. 

For complete race results, click here. 



Once through the snow and cold cycle, the weather warms up

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 9:28am

We can expect more snow, anywhere from a couple of inches to a half foot. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist Carol Christenson about snow and cold with a warm-up at the end of the tunnel.


Weekend News Roundup for January 7, 2017

Sat, 01/07/2017 - 10:17am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Commissioner Moe resigns. The County Board has new leadership, shipping traffic increases and herring fishery decreases…all this and more in the week’s news.


Tofte District Ranger Kurt Steele leaving for Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 4:49pm

U.S. Forest Service Tofte District Ranger Kurt Steele has served in the Superior National Forest for just over three years. He has received a promotion and will be leaving Minnesota to accept a position in the Nez Perce - Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence speaks with Steele about his time here in Cook County and his new adventure. 


Gunflint Mail Run sled dog race begins Saturday, Jan. 7

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 1:54pm

The Gunflint Mail Run is taking place in Cook County this weekend. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Matthew Schmidt, one of the mushers who will be competing in the race taking place up the Gunflint Trail. 

For more information about the race, click here. 


View more news from WTIP

Puzzle Tree taken down

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 2:15pm

Dupre begins climb of Mount Hunter

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 1:56pm

Lonnie Dupre left Talkeetna, Alaska on Wednesday, January 4, flying into the Alaska Range to the base of Mount Hunter (14,573ft) to attempt its first winter solo ascent.

Carman receives scholarship from the University of Minnesota, Morris

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 1:51pm