Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Severe storms could return to the area later this weekend

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 11:06am

The severe storms that quickly moved through the county Thursday left a long trail of downed trees and powerlines stretching from west of Duluth through northern Cook County and on into northern Wisconsin and lower Michigan. Similar weather could return later on Saturday. WTIP's Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist and hazardous weather specialist Carol Christenson.


Twin Metals hearing in Ely draws large crowd

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 9:56am

The second of two public "listening sessions" held by the U.S. Forest Service on Twin Metals mineral leases was held in Ely this week. The Twin Metals leases are regarding a proposed copper mine just southeast of Ely.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this interview about the event.  


North Shore strawberry farm a welcome slice of paradise

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 12:23pm

A family-owned and operated strawberry farm near Hovland is proving to be a huge success along the North Shore. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently visited the farm and has this report. 


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Office Outpost is open for business

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 11:01am

An interesting new facility has opened in the Grand Marais Municipal building on Broadway Avenue. The space that once housed the Grand Marais Tourist Information Center, but was vacant for about a year, has been repurposed to a stylish and welcoming workspace. It is now the Office Outpost, a telework space in the heart of Grand Marais. On Tuesday, July 12, a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house was held to introduce the coworking concept to the public.

After the ribbon cutting, the doors were opened for tours. Visitors were surprised at the transformation from a noisy, poster-bedecked information center to a quiet and clean space with 11 workstations. Bob Pranis of the Cook County Broadband Commission was pleased to explain that the Office Outpost is the perfect place for someone on vacation who wants to do a little bit of work on his or her laptop or a local entrepreneur who needs to get out of a noisy house to work for a few hours a week in a spot with high-speed Internet, access to a professional printer/scanner/copier and a Keurig coffee station.

Small Business Development Center Representative Pat Campanaro added that others might want to take advantage of the sunny conference room that will hold eight people or the private room with video conferencing capabilities.

One of the best things, explained Pranis, is that the facility with its amenities is open 24/7. Individuals wanting to use the space can visit the Office Outpost website on their smart phones for information. After paying the fee and downloading a free Kisi app, they are able to unlock and enter to get to work whenever they want.

Use of the facility is fee-based, with use plans running the gambit—$5 for just an hour; $25 for a day; $75 per week or $150 for a month.

The response so far has been positive. A meeting held this spring brought about 25 people out to learn more. Several have already signed up to use the space, said Pranis.

Primary ballots can confuse mail recipients

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 4:48am

A general look of confusion crossed the faces of many Cook County postal patrons when they found a Primary Ballot in their mail boxes recently. The State Legislature changed Minnesota’s caucus system back to a primary system, but that won’t happen until the next partisan election.

When the ballot is opened there are just three names, all for Associate Justice to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Typically justices are not household words, but in this case at least two of the names may sound vaguely familiar if you follow the news.

The incumbent is Natalie Hudson. She is one of three women on the court and the only black justice. She was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton in October of 2015. Prior to that she served on the Court of Appeals, appointed by then Gov. Jesse Ventura and subsequently elected twice.

Michelle MacDonald is a private practice attorney and until recently served as a Conciliation Court judge in Hennepin County. In 2014 she was a Supreme Court Candidate endorsed by the Republican Party. She was in the news in June 2014 when it was discovered she had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest in 2013. The revelation came less than two weeks after party delegates in Rochester endorsed MacDonald to run against Justice David Lillehaug.

The third candidate is Craig Foss, about which little is known publicly. The Secretary of State’s office lists his residence in St. Paul, he has no website. There is a Craig Foss listed in private practice in St. Paul, a Craig Foss who is a corporate council in Minneapolis and a third practicing in Alexandria.

According to Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, who oversees elections here, the primary will cost the county in the neighborhood of $15,000. A minimum of three election judges will be at each of two polling places – the courthouse and the community center. A full complement of election judges – 22 minimum – will work the mail ballots on primary night, August 9.
Powers said at the very least the primary will serve as a dry run for the November 8 General Election.


Joint meeting July 20 to discuss rate increase for Birch Grove Center tenants

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:54pm

A joint meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 between the Tofte Town Board and the tenants of the Birch Grove Center.

Quorums of both the Tofte town board and the Birch Grove Community School (BGCS) Board may be in attendance at the meeting, which has been called to discuss the June 28 decision to increase rent for tenants in the Birch Grove Center from $8.50 per square feet to $10.50, a 20 percent increase.

The increase will be borne by the Birch Grove School and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. W.E. Connect, which manages the facility for the township will not be impacted by the decision as it is paid by the Town of Tofte to manage the building for the township. 

BGCS Director Caroline Woods said no school board business will be conducted at the meeting and any information gained at the meeting will be presented to the full board of directors at the regularly scheduled meeting of the board on Tuesday, July 26 at 5:30 pm in the Bobcat Den at BGCS.

However, Wood told the News-Herald, “The school’s budget is set for FY 2016-2017,” adding, “The school is not in a position to take from general education funds for books, technology, transportation, or salaries.”


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


Professor Marvel to appear at Grand Marais Public Library July 23

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:52pm

Professor Marvel will be at the Grand Marais Public Library at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 23 to present his non-stop action-packed show. This program is free and great for families with kids ages pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.

Professor Marvel’s Magic of the Olympics magic show provides a fun, interactive playground where kids’ natural creativity can be inspired. The show focuses on six different books: fun fiction, outstanding origami and a crafty cookbook are featured and then illustrated with magic and illusion woven throughout their pages. Featured books include selections from authors Mary Pope Osborne, Kristi Yamaguchi, James Dean, and Louis Sachar.

For more information contact the library at (218) 387-1140.


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

PUC forgives YMCA water loss

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:51pm

Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission board members voted unanimously to forgive the bill for more than 1 million gallons of water leaked from the Cook County Community YMCA swimming pool due to a rock stuck in a mechanical valve at the bottom of the pool.

The leak occurred for about one month (from mid May to mid-June) before being discovered during a random check by PUC meter readers. Swimming pool attendants didn’t notice the missing water because the pool is automatically refilled to maintain a constant depth.

The board agreed in principal to forgive the bill at its previous meeting, but needed a letter from Cook County Maintenance Director Brian Silence asking for the charges to be forgiven, which they received at their regular July 6 meeting.  The county owns and maintains the YMCA building.

It is standard policy for the PUC to forgive the first leak for a business or individual if it goes undetected and is not the fault of the owner. However, a second leak in similar circumstances is not forgiven.


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

Trivia fun at Grandma Ray's

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 3:24pm

On Tuesday night in Grand Marais friends and family gather at Grandma Ray’s (formerly the American Legion) for a Trivia Contest hosted by “Big B” and his sidekick Kristi.

The trivia competition is open to all. Join the fun at 7 p.m. at Grandma Ray’s on 1st Avenue in Grand Marais. 

To make this lively event a bit more interesting, the Cook County News-Herald has agreed to publish the weekly "winners" when they are available.

Grandma Ray’s July 12 Trivia Night top teams and their prizes are:

1st        Broke Down Hippies $50     

2nd       Dunkin’ the Monkey  $25  

3rd        Bobbbleheads $10

4th        Water under the Fridge           T-shirt

Last     The GMOs     a Butterfingers candy bar


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

Catch the Senior Bus to Grand Portage Casino

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 3:21pm

The Cook County Senior Center will be traveling to the Grand Portage Casino on July 20. The senior center bus will leave Grand Marais at 4:15 p.m. and will return at 9:30 p.m. Transportation from the Senior Center is free and in-town pickups are available for $1.

Everyone that rides the “Casino Express” will receive $5 in free slot play and $5 off any meal in the dining room. You can register for this by stopping in or call the Senior Center at 218-387-2660. Come join the fun!


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


Agate festival a gem for North Shore residents and beyond

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 1:47pm

The 47th Annual Agate Days Festival in Moose Lake was held over the weekend. The event features more than 80 vendors and an estimated 3,000 people attended this year.  

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs visited the festival and has this report. 


Gunflint Trail Canoe Races coming up Wednesday, July 20

Sat, 07/16/2016 - 9:52pm

Since 1976, friends and neighbors on the upper Gunflint Trail have held the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races to raise money for worthy causes. This year’s event again will be at the Gunflint Lodge on the south shore of Gunflint Lake on Wednesday, July 20, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The goal is to raise more than $20,000 to support the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.

There’s something for everyone at the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races:

* Sixteen (16) canoe races for multiple ages and agilities and plenty of space to cheer on your favorites from Trail resorts and campsites.

* A food tent with the traditional canoe races sloppy joes, plus hot dogs, veggies and home made desserts. Food service starts at 4:30 p.m.

* More than 200 raffle items donated by folks up and down the Trail and in town. Tickets just $2 on site or at local resorts.

* Auctions – both silent and live. All for fun and lots of hand-made treasures along with bigger-ticket items.

* A commemorative T-shirt by local fashion designer Addie Gecas is available for just $15 on site and at Trail Center on weekends before the races. Adult and kids sizes available.

* All-in-fun activities for children and adults who are not racing.

* Last but not least a lucky $5 raffle ticket holder will win a red Current Designs Kestrel 120 kayak, worth $2,100! Winner will be announced just after the amazing fun-to-watch gunnel canoe race.

The kayak will be on display at Trail Center for several weekends prior to the races. Raffle tickets are available at numerous resorts and volunteers.

Flute Reed River named to MPCA Impaired Waters List

Sat, 07/16/2016 - 9:49pm

Every two years Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) creates a list of waters that do not meet water quality standards and submits that list to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to Miranda Nichols, MPCA Impaired Waters List Coordinator, water quality standards are defined by how much bacteria, nutrients, turbidity, mercury, etc. can be in the water before it is no longer drinkable, swimmable, or useable in other, designated ways.

Out of the 318 bodies of water the MPCA added to the state’s 2016 Impaired Waters List, Cook County only has one addition, the Flute Reed River, which Nichols says was listed because it has too much sediment.

Once a river, stream, or lake is added to the inventory of Impaired Waters, a plan is created to monitor it and fix the problem if it can be fixed. Such a plan is under way at the Poplar River in Lutsen to reduce turbidity.

Work has also been done on the Flute Reed. Cook County Soil and Water, working in collaboration with Karen Evens, Watershed Project Manager for the MPCA based in Duluth have taken corrective action to replace culverts and restore the banks of the Flute Reed River in an effort to reduce its turbidity.

Evens said the collaboration between the county and local citizens living near Flute Reed has been tremendous.


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


WTIP Weekend News Roundup for July 16

Sat, 07/16/2016 - 10:31am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. A new Human Services director is hired by the county. Cliffs vows to buy Essar Steel. A listening session is held on the Twin Metals copper mine issue…all this and more in the week’s news.



American Pickers looking for local relics

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 3:58pm

Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and their team are planning to return to Minnesota to film episodes of the hit series American Pickers throughout the region this August.

American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History. The show follows Mike and Frank, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques. They are always excited to find sizeable, unique collections and learn the interesting stories behind them.

As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way.

The show is looking for leads and would love to explore your hidden treasure. If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the pickers can spend the better part of the day looking through, send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to: or call 855-old-rust.


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