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News and other information from Cook County

Tofte gets conditional use permit to proceed with senior housing--with conditions

Sat, 02/14/2015 - 3:05pm

Cook County Planning and Zoning Administrator Bill Lane came before the Cook County Commissioners on Tuesday, February 10 with a request for a conditional use permit for the township of Tofte to establish a 12-unit senior housing complex on 29.37 acres of property adjacent to the Birch Grove Community Center.

The township hopes to put up two six-unit duplexes built by Dynamic Homes with some done by July 2015.

Based on the recommendation of the Cook County Planning Commission, Lane recommended granting a conditional use permit to the township with several conditions. Tofte must establish a residential planned unit development (PUD) on property adjacent to the Birch Grove Community Center and Good Neighbor Hill Road. Lane said no land use permits would be approved until all requirements of the PUD applications are met, namely: commercial use of the land shall be prohibited; no wetland impacts may occur without approval from the Cook County wetland authority; and landscape preservation standards (Section 5.06; Cook County Zoning Ordinance) shall be applied to the property.  If construction plans are modified, documents must be amended.

As far as the septic design, planning documents state, “There needs to better coordination between applicant, septic consultant and the county. At this point, Mitch Everson has not verified any system design flow system layout and soil verification. This will be necessary as part of moving forward with any internal permitting. This will not hinder moving forward with the CUP, but is an area of concern to the Office of Planning and Zoning. “

In addition, Planning and Zoning has requested that the township investigate traffic generation with MnDOT and Cook County.

The county board accepted Lane’s recommendation and approved the CUP with the conditions outlined.


Great Decisions meeting: Human Trafficking in the 21st Century, February 19th

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 3:10pm

The Great Decisions discussion group invites you to bring your questions, perspectives and ideas to this month’s discussion about human trafficking.  North Shore Morning host Julie Carlson spoke with February discussion leader Jake Hjorth on North Shore Morning.

The next Great Decisions meeting will be held on Thursday, February 19 from noon to 1:30 pm at the Cook County Community Center, 317 West 5th Street, Grand Marais.  Two copies of the 2015 Great Decisions Briefing Book are available at the Grand Marais Public Library.


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Pincushion Mountain Festival Changed Due to Cold Weather Forecast

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 2:35pm

The Pincushion Mountain Winter Festival events have been changed and restructured due to the severe weather forecast. The Y-Ski spaghetti feed will still be held Friday, February 13th at 5:30 at the Cook County community center. All the other events have been moved to Sunday. 

  • The skijoring event will be held at 10:00 a.m.
  • The adult races, including 8K and 15K classical events, along with the 17K Skiathlon will be held at 11:30 a.m.
  • Y-Ski kids races will be held at 2:00 p.m.

All proceeds from these events are used to support youth ski programs. 

About the Pincushion Mountain Winter Festival:
Offering cross-country ski races and skijoring events, the inaugural Pincushion Mountain Winter Festival starts this Friday. WTIP host Julie Carlson spoke with Cathy Quinn and Mike Crook, Pincushion Mountain Winter Festival organizers, on North Shore Morning.
More information on the festival at


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Birch Grove Community School and Great Expectations School recognized among state's "High-Quality Charter Schools"

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 12:28pm

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has named Birch Grove Community School in Tofte and Great Expectations School in Grand Marais among 22 “High-Quality Charter Schools” that are eligible to participate in programs from Minnesota’s Federal Charter Schools Program Grant Project.  

Out of 149 charter schools in the state, the 22 top-performing charter schools were identified as having a track record of increasing student achievement and student success based on proficiency and growth on standardized state tests, and demographics. GES was ranked 12th and Birch Grove was ranked 13th.


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

Tofte looks at a host of public projects

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 12:27pm

A special public meeting was held February 5, 2015 at the Tofte Town Hall to discuss plans to improve the Tofte Town Park, the Gitchi-Gami State Trail routing and wayside design projects that have been in the works for some time. About a dozen people attended.

Justin Otsea, a project manager from the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC); Andy Hubley, director of the regional planning division of the ARDC and landscape architect CJ Fernandez, of Fernandez Landscape Architecture, led the discussion. 

As for the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, Fernandez said this meeting was a chance to discus opportunities and ideas for improvements along the Highway 61 corridor through Tofte.

The Gitchi-Gami trail has a 1.1-mile gap extending through the town of Tofte. Just where to route the trail was the main topic of discussion. There was talk of running it along the lakewalk near Bluefin Bay Resort, along the power line or of building a tunnel or bridge road crossing. Hubley said adding amenities like tunnels or bridges pushes the cost of design and build-out for bike paths to as much a $1.2 million per mile.

All of the possible trail routes are still on the table, and Fernandez said he would get back to the group at the next meeting with a map showing the different routes they had discussed at this meeting.

There was discussion of improvements at the Tofte Park and of a new proposal for the Marshall Wayside Rest on land owned by the Minnesota DNR on the east side of Tofte, which would include a pull off for cars and a trail to hike down to the lake.

Making up the steering committee will be Maren Webb of Moving Matters, Mark Rudningen of MN DNR, Barb Gervais, John Nelson, Gary Hansen, Dave Monson, Ron Ankeny, John Wytanis and Dennis Rysdahl.

Three Vikings excel at State Alpine Meet!

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 11:46am

The three Vikings who advanced to the State Meet at Giant’s Ridge on Wednesday, February 11 had stellar performances.

Will Lamb led the Northland boys with his 9th place finish. The CCHS sophomore placed 14th last year.

Lamb’s teammate, sophomore Logan Backstrom finished 26th overall and eighth-grade prodigy Reilly Wahlers placed 27 in the girls’ race. This is Reilly’s second appearance at the state meet.

According to Will’s grandfather Skip Lamb, the conditions were tough. Skip was very proud of Will but added that Logan Backstrom’s second run was nothing short of incredible, and Wahlers gets more amazing in every race.

Congratulations, Vikings!


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