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News and other information from Cook County

Annual Kids Plus Easter Egg Fundraiser, April 4

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 1:52pm

This Saturday is the annual Easter Egg fundraiser, held at the Community Center in Grand Marais. WTIP volunteer Tracy Benson spoke with Diane Booth about this event on North Shore Morning. 
 
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Kids Plus hosts its 6th Annual Easter Egg Fundraiser on Saturday, April 4, at the Cook County Community Center and 4H Log Cabin in Grand Marais. Activities include a visit from the Easter Bunny from 9 am to noon, Easter egg hunt at 10 am, scavenger hunt at 10:30 am, raffle, dessert walk, and refreshments. 

(Photo courtesy of Lynda Giddens on Flickr)

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Strange bird sighted near Grand Marais

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 1:20pm
Flamallard?

The Cook County News-Herald received the following report from a bird watcher:

On March 29, while driving along Highway 61 near Five Mile Rock, east of Grand Marais, I saw a long-legged bird walking along the Lake Superior shore. At first glance, I thought it might be an early returning migrant Great Blue Heron. I parked on the road shoulder to get a better look at it. On approaching, I saw the body form and legs resembled a flamingo, but the colors of it feathers were similar to those of a mallard duck in breeding plumage.

The blue speculum of the wing, bordered with white was evident. I tried to get an extreme close-up photograph but the bird easily kept ahead of me. Suddenly a grey wolf ran across Highway 61, dashed across the narrow beach, grabbed the bird by the neck, and shook it violently. When bird’s brief struggle ceased, the wolf saw me, dashed back across the highway and disappeared into the brush with its unusual prey.

I reported this bizarre sighting to ornithologists at UMD and members of the Audubon Society. To say the least, they were skeptical, one said “Could be, could be...but, I doubt it.” 

A Minnesota DNR biologist from the St. Paul office was excited by my report and suggested the unusual bird may be result of hybridization of a female flamingo (Pheonicopterus ruber) and a male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos). The biologist speculated that perhaps more than one might have migrated, likely from Florida. She recommended that any additional sightings should be first and immediately reported to local DNR conservation officers or wildlife personnel in Grand Marais or Two Harbors.

If other specimens are found and captured, I suggest its common name be either “Mallamingo” or “Flamallard.”  If it is determined to a new species, perhaps Anascopterus fulvurhynchus rybergi could be recognized as the scientific name.

MnDOT to microsurface Highway 61 on east end of county this summer

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 11:18am

Todd Campbell, MnDOT District l assistant district engineer, gave an update on future Cook County road project and addressed commissioners concerns about the condition of Highway 61 in the Grand Portage area.

With no road overlay scheduled until 2022 for the Grand Portage area, commissioners recently wrote to MnDOT requesting that it review that deteriorating section of highway.

Campbell said he had taken a ride to Grand Portage on March 6 for a meeting and he saw and felt the bumpy road. He said he saw (and felt) firsthand how tenting has impacted the ride of the pavement along Highway 61 from Grand Marais to the Canadian border.

Tenting occurs when water freezes in cracks, lifting the pavement. This phenomenon doesn’t happen every winter, said Campbell, but occurs in warmer years when there are more rain events or freeze thaw cycles.

To alleviate some of the deterioration, Campbell said this summer MnDOT would lay a thin coating of tar [called micro-surfacing] from near Reservation River to the Canadian border, a stretch of five miles that is in especially bad shape. That work should help smooth the ride and alleviate the tenting until an overlay project is done in 2022, he said.

He said, “Additionally, MnDOT maintenance crews from Grand Marais have patching and joint mastic sealing on their work plan for the corridor between Grand Marais and the Canadian border,’ said Campbell.

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

County seeks equitable way to provide funding for local nonprofits--public meeting Thursday

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:22pm

The Cook County Commissioners spent an hour discussing a way to develop a process that would allow it to allocate funds for non-mandated organizations in a more practical/business like fashion at their March 10 meeting. A work session has been scheduled for more discussion at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7 at 1 pm. Prior to that, Commissioner Garry Gamble is hosting a public meeting to discuss county non-mandated funding at the Cook County Community Center at 6 p.m. on April 2.

At the March 10 meeting, Commissioner Garry Gamble produced a 38-page book with a break down and maps showing where the county gives most of its non-mandated money. The pamphlet includes all of the non-mandated programs the county now funds, such as WTIP Community Radio, the Cook County Senior Center, Gunflint Horse and Dog Park, Cook County Community Center, Grand Marais Public Library, Birch Grove Foundation, etc.

The objective, said Gamble, was to determine an equitable approach to granting non-mandated funding requests. His fellow commissioners commended him on the pamphlet and agreed it was a good starting point.

Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk reminded the board that she wanted a finished guideline for non-mandated funding requests done by July 1, 2015. The board agreed to keep meeting until the work was done.

Auditor Braidy Powers said he would invite county department heads to the April 7 work session. Discussion at the April 7 meeting may include creation of a mission statement, goals, and criteria.

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

Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge preparations continue

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:09pm

Excitement is building for the first-ever Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge at Lutsen Mountains on April 18 - 19, 2015. But along with the anticipation is a bit of concern—will there be enough snow? Organizers say yes, get ready to come out to watch the event with three race disciplines— hillclimb, hillcross, and short-course cross-country racing.

The Cook County News-Herald contacted Todd Myers with Cor PowerSports, which is presenting the Snowmobile Challenge and he said the event should go off as planned. “The crew at Lutsen Mountain have been making snow since October. They have about 10-12 feet stockpiled—in the shade.”

Myers said organizers are expecting over 500 riders and there is a projected purse of up to $40,000, which is based on the number of entries. One of the divisions, the King Class of Hillclimb is also a qualifying race for the 2016 World Championships in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   

The two-day qualifying race is open to anyone that wants to enter on a first-come first-serve basis.

Jim Vick of Lutsen Mountains is among those excited about this new event.  Vick said, “ “Lutsen Mountains is the ideal location for snowmobiling this late in the season. We have been looking for an event like extreme snowmobiling to add some excitement here as we transition into spring.”

An awards ceremony will be held an hour after all the races have been completed. Top contenders will claim their portion of the purse and find out which racers qualify for the Jackson Hole event. 

Brown Bag lunch provides grant application information for nonprofits: April 1

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 3:09pm

During the month of April there will be a series of presentations, including tomorrow's Brown Bag lunch, providing new information and ideas to area nonprofits. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Ann Possis of the Cook County Community Fund on North Shore Morning. 
 

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