Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Lt. Gov. Smith talks affordable housing on visit to Cook County

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 10:27am

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited Grand Marais and Cook County Friday, Sept. 16 as part of the “87 Counties in 86 Days” tour that she and Governor Mark Dayton are doing this summer and fall across the state. 

Smith met with Cook County Chamber members and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic staff about their “Great Place Project.” After that Lt. Gov. Smith went to Voyager Brewing in Grand Marais to tour the facilities there. 

She sat down with Joe Friedrichs inside the WTIP studios to discuss that topic and her visit to the North Shore. 



The week starts out with nice fall weather

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 8:42am

There are a couple of nice days in store for us before it clouds over mid-week.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Stewart about comfortable, but breezy fall days.


Weekend News Roundup for September 17

Sat, 09/17/2016 - 9:31am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Shooting suspect back in court, a trial date is set. WTIP add staff to its news department. ‘Affordable’ housing does not appear so to some on the county board…all this and more in the week’s news


Owners discuss history and potential sale of historic Naniboujou Lodge

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 12:33pm

The historic Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant along North Shore is up for sale. Owners Tim and Nancy Ramey are longtime Cook County residents and have been associated with the lodge for almost four decades.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently visited the historic lodge, which is located about 15 miles east of Grand Marais, to speak with the Rameys about the past, present and future of Naniboujou.


North Shore Housing & Community Dialogue at North House on Monday, Sept. 19

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 12:55pm

Community members interested in the housing situation in Cook and Lake counties are invited to attend the North Shore Housing & Community Dialogue on Monday, September 19 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Red Building at North House Folk School.

Representatives of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Minnesota Housing will be at this meeting, along with local and statewide stakeholders.

At the Tuesday, September 13 meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA), Director Mary Somnis said that representatives from the offices of Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Rick Nolan will also be on hand.

The purpose of the meeting is to engage a broad network of stakeholders for discussion about specific housing needs on the North Shore.

The event will start with introductions and information on housing trends, followed by a Local Perspectives panel at 11 a.m. The event continues after lunch with working sessions and wraps up with discussion of the next steps toward finding solutions.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director Mary Somnis at or 218-387-3112 by Friday, September 16.


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

Rhonda Silence to join WTIP news staff

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 11:30am

Long time print editor Rhonda Silence is joining the WTIP North Shore Community Radio news staff. Most recently, Rhonda has edited the Cook County News Herald and prior to that, the Cook County Star. She has covered county news and events for over 15 years.

WTIP station manager Deb Benedict said, “It’s been part of our mission as a local radio station to improve our citizen’s access to information and involvement in community issues. We’re pleased to bring Rhonda on board to help us establish WTIP as a primary news resource.”

No stranger to WTIP, Rhonda has co-hosted many of the station’s election forums and election night coverage. She also has appeared weekly to review upcoming news and events published in the newspaper.

Rhonda said, “I am excited at the opportunity to expand my journalism skills into the multi media platform of WTIP and to join the staff that I have come to know.”

She will be joining the WTIP news team on October 10th.

Weekend weather begins to feel like fall

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 9:45am

It’s starting out to be a nice fall. Temperatures should be moderate over the weekend, maybe a little rain, but all-in-all good weather to wait for the leaves to turn.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Amanda Graning about the autumn onset.


Affordable housing discussed by county board

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 4:30am

The local Economic Development Authority obtained five county owned tax forfeit lots in the city of Grand Marais that will be the site of affordable housing projects.

The EDA obtained the lots for $8,400.

EDA Director Mary Somnis says the houses built on the property will range from $140,000 to $215,000.

Commissioner Garry Gamble says the issuing of affordable housing is an ongoing issue in Cook County and one that will not likely be solved easily or quickly.

On Monday, Sept. 19th there will be an open-house forum held at North House Folk School focusing on specific affordable housing needs in communities in Cook County and along the North Shore.   That event begins at 10 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m. in the Red building at North House.

Full audio for story on commissioners’ discussion about affordable housing found below. 



Do you want to be in pictures?

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:40am

Want an inside look at movie making? Rushaway Pictures is filming scenes for its upcoming feature Virginia, Minnesota again today and they need extras.

Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Director Mary Somnis announced that the movie company will be shooting its big festival scene tonight, September 14 at 6 p.m. at the west end of Wisconsin Street.

The film company needs people milling around, walking down the street. Some extras will be in plain clothes and some will be provided costumes. 

Head downtown for your chance to be in pictures. As Somnis says, “Break a leg!”


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

Empty Bowls Make-a-Bowl days scheduled

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 10:01am

The annual Empty Bowls dinner and silent auction will be held Nov. 10 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Grand Marais.

Those interested may help make bowls to donate to this event while learning the basics of pottery and fused glass. The Make-a-Bowl schedule has been changed this year and sessions are now condensed into two different weekends. The activities are open to all levels and ages; kids 6 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Make-a-Bowl: Clay will be held Sept. 17-18 and Oct. 15-16; Make-a-Bowl: Glass will be held Oct. 25-26; and Paint-a-Bowl will be held Oct. 29.

It is estimated that 12 percent of Cook County residents go hungry every month, and the Art Colony organizes the Empty Bowls event to address those needs.

For more information contact the Art Colony at (218) 387-2737.


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

Plan presented for assisted living facility

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 9:52am

The Joint Economic Development Authority received a proposal from Spectrum Health for assisted living in Cook County as well as goo news from the county to acquire work force housing property.    WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with EDA President Howard Hedstrom.


Commissioners struggle with high levy numbers

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 9:52am

The county commissioners are grappling with high levy figures and how to make a half-percent sales tax increase for transportation.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with the board’s chair Heidi Doo-Kirk.


Commissioners continue to discuss sales-tax increase

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 1:29pm

Though no action was taken by the Board of Commissioners regarding a proposed sales tax increase in Cook County to be used for projects by the highway department, the topic was again discussed during a regular meeting of the commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 13. 

There was the possibility the board would take action on the sales tax increase during Tuesday’s meeting. However, Commissioner Jan Sivertson was out of town and the board felt it was of value to have all districts represented on the vote to increase the sales tax. All the same, new or improved facilities for the highway department appear to be the largest obstacle in moving the sales tax forward with complete or perhaps even a majority of the board’s approval. 

A vote on the proposed sales tax by the county board is expected before the end of the month, likely during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27. 

Full story in audio below. 



"Walk to School Day" on Wednesday, Sept. 14

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:03pm

Last week, “Slow Down” lawn signs, an additional speed feedback sign, and school zone speed enforcement are all at work reminding our community that school has started and to drive carefully to keep students safe. Wednesday, Sept. 14, will be the first “Walk to School Day,” with three routes of Walking School Buses in Grand Marais.

Law Enforcement officials (Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol) and community members will accompany students on the safe routes to school.

Walking School Buses are groups of students and adult volunteers walking to school together. Officers from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and members of the Active Living Steering Committee will accompany the groups on the first day. Each Walking School Bus stops at ISD 166 and GES in time for school to begin. If your student normally gets a ride to school, come in a little early and walk or bike with the Walking School Bus from one of the starting locations: the Cook County Courthouse (7:30 a.m. departure), Birchwood Apartments (7:40 a.m. departure), or County Road 7 and Seventh Avenue East (7:40 a.m. departure). Students are welcome to join along the route or meet at the starting location.

For more information about Safe Routes to School, to volunteer, or for a Slow Down lawn sign, contact SRTS Coordinator Maren Webb at (218) 387-2330 or


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

Forest Service hosts open house to provide information on upcoming prescribed burns

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 12:02pm

Superior National Forest managers are hosting an open house regarding prescribed fires planned for the fall season on the Gunflint Ranger District. These prescribed burns include the Lux Lake Unit and the Duncan Lake Unit, both within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The open house will allow the public to view maps, prescribed fire planning documents, and ask questions concerning the prescribed fires.

The open house will be September 15 at the Gunflint Ranger District – 2020 West Hwy 61, Grand Marais from 4 – 6 p.m.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, prescribed burning improves public safety by reducing the potential for high-intensity wildland fires to spread from the BWCAW into areas of intermingled ownership, which include areas containing homes, cabins, resorts, other improvements and areas across the international border into Canada.

The Forest Service plans prescribed fires in advance, with involvement from specialists in all of the resource programs on the Forest and prescribed fires are designed to be implemented under specific conditions (prescription) to meet management objectives. Several considerations go into planning a prescribed fire including fuel types, presence of sensitive plants or animals, visitor use, fuel moisture, winds, relative humidity, and projected weather. Prescribed fires are rescheduled if weather conditions are unfavorable.

More information will be posted on the Superior National Forest website soon, including maps regarding the upcoming fire activities on the forest.


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