Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Cook County cyclists head to Prague for six-week adventure

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 10:48am

Six Cook County residents flew out of Thunder Bay on Sept. 1 heading to Prague for a bicycle adventure of a lifetime. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Leah Thomas, one of the local riders who plan to spend the next six weeks pedaling across Central and Eastern Europe. 


New ISD 166 assistant principal shares thoughts on first day of school

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 9:38am

Indeed Tuesday, Sept. 6 was the first day of school in Cook County. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs sat down with new ISD 166 Assistant Principal Bill Dewitt moments before he gave the opening address to officially kick off the new school year. 


Apple orchard growing on Cook County Law Enforcement Center lawn

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 8:56am

Last week a crew of Minnesota Conservation Corps members were working to plant about 160 apple trees on the lawn of the Cook County Law Enforcement Center. They worked under the direction of Ray Block, Cook County’s resident apple expert.

The hardy young apple trees are cold weather resistant and came from Block’s ever-expanding apple orchard, which is located about two miles west of Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior.

Helping fund the $32,000 project was a grant of $16,000 from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation and funds from Cook County Extension Service.  In-kind donations from the community totaled $14,710, from folks like McMillan Tree Service, Hedstrom Lumber, Cook County Soil & Water, Edwin E. Thoreson Construction, and of course Block.

The University of Minnesota Cook County Master Gardeners and Extension will provide ongoing technical assistance. Eric Hahn, a science teacher at Great Expectations School is developing a curriculum for students K-8 that will use the orchards across the street as a living lab for students.

Block said the apple trees would be cared for by school children from Great Expectations as well as from School District 166, plus by community volunteers and sentence-to-serve adults.

 Block said, “Once they are mature each tree will produce about two bushels of apples. They will go to the school and to law enforcement.”


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

"Backpack Program" continues at Cook County Schools

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 8:54am

The Cook County Snacks and Packs was launched by the School District 166 Wellness Committee in 2013 after its members realized that some children in the community were not getting enough healthy food over the weekend. Diane Booth of Cook County Extension Service heard about the “BackPack Program,” a national initiative and thought it could be modified to work in Cook County.

After partnering with the Cook County Food Shelf and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, and with generous donations from the North Shore Federal Credit Union and community members, the Snacks and Packs program officially got under way and continues today, now overseen by Cook County KidsPlus.

Organizers “shop” for food items through Second Harvest and receive the pre-packed bags of food. School staff or volunteers deliver the food, packaged in non-descript backpacks, to a child’s cubby or locker.  Food distribution occurs on the last day of the school week to help fill the nutritional gap over the weekend. 

Food items are easy-to-open, easy-to-prepare, individual or small serving size foods. Items include cereal, shelf-stable milk, 100 percent juices, canned entrees or soup, fruits, vegetables and snack items like granola bars, etc.

According to Kids Plus board member Beth Kennedy, each pack costs about $4 through Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. Multiply that by four distributions each month for approximately 42 children in Grand Marais and that adds up.

In addition, vouchers are available through the Cook County Food Shelf to allow families to purchase $10 of fresh fruit and veggies. The fresh food vouchers add $22 - $32 per month per child to the program costs, so fresh produce is not always available.

If you would like to learn more about supporting the BackPack Program, contact Diane Booth at (218) 387-3015 or email


Weekend News Roundup for September 3

Sat, 09/03/2016 - 9:24am

Plan ahead for travels to Canada

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 11:59am

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations is reminding travelers planning trips across the border into the United States this holiday weekend to make sure they have their proper documents and to plan ahead. Border traffic volumes are expected to peak during this period.

CBP strongly encourages travelers to plan trips in advance and obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document such as an Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, U.S. passport card or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry or FAST/EXPRES) to expedite entry and make future border crossings more efficient.

To avoid potential delays at the border, CBP is urging all foreign travelers requiring I-94 or I-94W (visa waiver) entry document processing to obtain the essential document early instead of waiting until the day of their travel. Travelers are encouraged to obtain the required document as much as a week in advance for faster and more convenient processing. All travelers requesting an I-94 or I-94W entry document may be required to establish financial solvency, proof of residency outside the U.S. and demonstrate that they have sufficiently strong ties to their country of origin including a home abroad they do not intend to abandon.

“We continue to work with the traveling public and stakeholders on ways to improve the facilitation of lawful trade and travel while upholding our border security mission,” said Area Port Director Jason Schmelz.

All travelers are reminded of seven simple steps they can employ to cross the border more efficiently:

1. Check out the CBP informational website.

The CBP site has been completely redesigned to help users quickly access the content they need. It also is optimized for access by smart phones and makes use of a new content delivery network that will improve access internationally.

Which Grand Marais am I in..?

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 10:41am

Although WTIP broadcasts from Grand Marais and covers the North shore of Minnesota, there is another Grand Marais found on the shores of Lake Superior.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reached out to business owners and others about the fact Grand Marais has a home in Minnesota and Michigan. 


Gene Ritchie Monahan exhibit at Johnson Heritage Post through Sept. 11

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 10:16am

A retrospective exhibition and sale of works by the late Ranier, Minnesota, artist and teacher Genevieve “Gene” Ritchie Monahan runs through September 11 at the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery.

The exhibition, featuring about 70 works in oil, will include seascapes and landscapes, and the soulful, impressionistic portraits for which Monahan was best known.

It showcases two of her earlier self–portraits, one of which earned her the first of many national awards. The acclaimed painting became the cover image for an edition of The Art Digest in 1931.

The show also includes Ariel with Red Slippers, which won first prize in portraiture at the 1962 National League of American Pen Women’s biennial exhibition at the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

It is the first retrospective on Monahan’s work since her death, said her daughter, Jean Monahan Kelly, who spends her summers in Ranier.

Kelly said her mother liked to contribute to communities in which she lived. Monahan taught extension art courses for the University of Minnesota, and also taught in Fort Frances, Dryden and Kenora, Ontario.

“She felt it was a responsibility to enrich the lives of other people through her creative talents,” Kelly said. “She had a wonderful sense of humor, and she touched the lives of every person she came across in some way. She was extremely gifted, and she shared her gift with everybody.”


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

Deer lottery application deadline is Sept. 8

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 10:12am

Firearms and muzzleloader hunters who want to harvest antlerless deer in a deer permit area designated as lottery this hunting season are reminded they must purchase their license and apply for an antlerless permit by Thursday, Sept. 8.

This season, antlerless deer permits are issued by lottery in 67 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas. Antlerless deer are without an antler at least 3 inches long. No application is needed to take antlerless deer in permit areas designated as hunters choice, managed or intensive harvest areas. Hunters who want to participate in special firearm deer hunts also need to apply for permits that are issued by lottery, and the application deadline is Sept. 8.

More information on deer permit areas and special hunts is available in the 2016 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, found online at


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

North Shore Storm starts competition at Pincushion Mountain trails today

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:53am

North Shore Storm is taking to the trails in the first cross country meet of the season at Pincushion Mountain at 2 p.m. today, September 1. It was not only the first meet of the season; it was the first time runners performed under the new team name.

The name change, from the Two Harbors/Cook County Vikings to North Shore Storm, was approved at a July 2016 meeting of the School District 166 school board. Cross Country Coach April Wahlstrom approached the school board with the request, explaining that the cross country team has been a combined school team with Two Harbors for 15 years. Before that it was a cooperative team with Two Harbors, it was a co-op with Silver Bay.

Twelve of the 50 students in grades seven through 12 who came out for cross country are from Two Harbors. Wahlstrom is assisted in coaching by Two Harbors School Counselor Dan Hebel.

Wahlstrom said while many people think of cross country as an individual sport, the coaches stress that it is a team sport. “We really stress ‘pack running,’” she said.

“We really think the name change would gel that together,” Wahlstrom said.

Board Member Sissy Lunde asked how the athletes felt about the change and Wahlstrom said they are enthusiastic about it. “They want it so bad that last year, even though we hadn’t gotten this name change, they went and got sweatshirts that say North Shore Storm.”

School Board Member Jeanne Anderson, a cross country parent, said, “I have one!”

The only question was about costs in changing uniforms and Wahlstrom said she had a generous outside donor who was covering the cost of new uniforms. With that the motion was passed unanimously and the school board wished the North Shore Storm well in its running season.


Cook County/Grand Marais EDA sets grant application priorities

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:49am

There was a special meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) on Tuesday, August 30 to discuss the projects for which the EDA—and other community entities— are seeking funding from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). At the end of the meeting, the EDA has created a priority list of Cook County to be presented to the IRRRB.

The reason for the list, explained EDA Board Chair Howard Hedstrom, was that the total of the Cook County projects is $1.4 million. He said the IRRRB development account has about $5 million to distribute. EDA Director Mary Somnis said the IRRRB has less to spend on redevelopment because of the recent downturn in the mining industry.

Hedstrom pointed to five Cook County projects currently in the line up for funding and said IRRRB Executive Director of Development Steve Peterson recommended prioritizing Cook County’s needs. Of the projects, Hedstrom said, “These are all very worthy, but it’s probably not in the cards that they all will be funded.”

There are five entities and projects vying for IRRRB assistance.  The Cook County Airport is seeking  $250,000 to complete the work on its arrival and departure building. The Poplar River Water District is seeking $350,000 to complete the potable water portion of the waterline project. Superior National at Lutsen golf course is seeking $325,000 to complete phase 2 of the renovation of the golf course.

The EDA is applying for funds for two housing projects, seeking $400,000 for a rental housing facility in Lutsen and $112,000 for a workforce housing project in Grand Marais.

Hedstrom noted that a subcommittee of the EDA had discussed the various projects with representatives of the airport board, Superior National at Lutsen and the Cook County Chamber.

Highway engineer talks sales tax, facilities and road projects

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 10:48am

The Cook County Highway Department and the County Board continue to discuss the possibility of a sales-tax increase that would generate funds for the highway department.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with County Engineer Dave Betts about how the sales-tax funds could be used and why various projects and plans are of importance to the highway department and the people they serve. 


Most of the Labor Day Weekend looks like nice weather

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 10:13am

The weekend looks like nice late summer weather with a little rain coming in late Sunday.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson about the Labor Day Weekend.


Yes, the Mayor is running for re-election

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 9:03am

The City of Grand Marais Council spent Wednesday “taking care of business.” And, yes, the Mayor is running for re-election. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux.


Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings Concert - August 14, 2016

Wed, 08/31/2016 - 12:40pm

The entire Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings Concert was recorded by WTIP on August 14, 2016. The concert was held at the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department Hall #1, and was a benefit for the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.

The concert featured local and regional performers, in addition to the debut of an original composition by William Beckstrand:

Gigue in G Major (Poco Vivace) by G.F. Telemann
Philis Anderson, oboe d'amore; Kathy Bolstad, clarinet

Nocturne in E Major by F. Chopin
Michael Ferguson, piano

Concerto in A Major (1st movement) by J.S. Bach
Philis Anderson, oboe d'amore

Trumpet Concerto (2nd movement) by F.J. Haydn
Don Grant, trumpet; Andrea Fincel, piano

Two Poems of Robert Frost by William Beckstrand
1. The Most of It
2. Reluctance

Karina Roth, soprano; William Beckstrand, piano

Selections from the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach
Michael Ferguson, piano

It's All Right With Me by Cole Porter
Blue in Green by Bill Evans/Miles Davis
Take Five/Jive in Five by Dave Brubeck/Mike DeBevec

Sky Blue Jazz Trio and Orange Girl (Mike DeBevec, piano; Karina Roth, soprano; Erik Hahn, soprano sax; Mike Roth, bass)

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (Andante movement) by F. Mendelssohn
Kathy Bolstad, clarinet; Karina Roth, piano

Three Sketches Against the Dark (world premiere) by William Beckstrand
1. Curiosity
2. Luminosity
3. Generosity

Karina Roth, piano; Erika Ternes, violin; Erik Hahn, soprano sax
(This piece was commissioned by David and Patricia Coleman in honor of A. Paul and Carol Schaap for their 40th wedding anniversary)

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by G.F. Handel

(Photos courtesy of Dr. Ellen Stubbs)