Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Award-winning Cook County High School Band to perform in concert May 13

Sat, 05/11/2013 - 2:48pm

The Cook County High School Band earned high praises from the judges at the Section 7A State-Section Band Festival in March for their performance of Gustav Holst’s First Suite in Eb. The band’s Jazz Ensemble also performed at the festival, playing Adele’s Skyfall.
The next Cook County High School band performance is Monday, May 13 at 7 p.m. and will feature the music of The Beatles. The community is invited.

Community Center Steering Committee considers name of Cook County YMCA

Sat, 05/11/2013 - 2:46pm

The Cook County Community Center Steering Committee met on Monday, May 6, 2013 with Cook County Family YMCA Project Manager Wade Cole of ORB and architect Dan Miller of JLG Architects. After considerable discussion about elements of the design, there was consideration of the name of the facility.
Steering Committee member and County Commissioner Sue Hakes stated that the facility would still be a community center despite the fact that it is being called the Cook County Family YMCA.  Current Community Center Director Diane Booth said that if the new facility will be a community center, then the current Community Center building would need to be renamed.
Newly hired YMCA Branch Executive Director Emily Marshall said that the YMCA has some facilities that are called Ys and others that are called community centers.
City Councilor Jan Sivertson wondered if the new facility could be called the Cook County Community YMCA.  Some non-traditional families might prefer that the word “family” not be used, she said.
Diane Booth said having the Cook County Community Center, Cook County Community Education, and a Cook County Community YMCA would be hard for people to keep straight.
Executive Director Marshall said she would find out if the name could be changed at this point. There will be discussion of the facility name at the Tuesday, May 14 County Board meeting at 11:35 a.m.

A tour of the construction site was held Friday, May 10 for elected officials and some community members. Future tours are planned for the public and will be announced.


Weekend News Roundup for May 11

Sat, 05/11/2013 - 10:17am

The moose herd in Voyageurs National Park is holding steady, so are the wolves in Wisconsin. Enbridge resumes oil shipments. Duluth is seeing an historic steam engine and there’s lots of fishing opener stories…all in this week’s news.


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Move it down the Mississippi this May

Fri, 05/10/2013 - 4:12pm

Jazz it up this May by joining your friends and neighbors in the "Move It in May" event. Community members are "moving it"   Highway 61 to the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans. (The community has done the Lake Superior Circle Tour, so everyone is invited to jazz it up to Move It to New Orleans!
New this May will be weekly Thursday brown bag noontime presentations at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic lower level classroom, beginner and advanced bike safety rodeos, a chat box on the website, a printable tracking form for logging miles for large groups, and....a party!
Join your fellow Movers on May 23 from 4 to 6 p.m. for a New Orleans-style party at the 4H log building. All participants are invited to attend, and there will be prize drawings, blending smoothies on the blender bike, and dancing to sweet jazz tunes. And, you can finally meet your Move It competitors and comrades face-to-face.
Registration is available online now at or for more information, contact Kristin at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, 387-2330.

Ellie the Elephant is coming!

Fri, 05/10/2013 - 2:31pm

Ellie the Elephant and the Silly Shades Brigade, which had to be rescheduled because of a snow storm earlier this month, will be appearing at the Grand Marais Public Library on Saturday, May 11 at 10:30 a.m.
Presented by the Duluth Playhouse, this is an original adaptation of the elephant and the blind men fable.  This program is geared toward pre-school age through grade 3 but of course everyone is welcome!
This project was funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Gogebic Taconite applies for mining permit

Fri, 05/10/2013 - 8:14am

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A mining company has applied for an exploratory license to begin the process of opening an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin near Lake Superior.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says Gogebic Taconite submitted the application on Thursday.

DNR Waste and Materials Management Program director Ann Coakley says a decision on granting the application will be made within 10 business days as required by the new law passed by the Legislature in March.

If Gogebic obtains a state permit it still must receive federal approval for the mine since it would affect federal wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that permit process could take up to four years.

Supporters of the mine say it will create jobs while opponents say it will harm the environment.

Mayor Larry Carlson: Next week is National Nursing Home Week

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 10:47am

Tower replacement, zipline development, bond refunding and a proclamation for National Nursing Home Week WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Grand Marais mayor Larry Carlson.

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Work on Gitchi Gami Bike Trail to resume soon

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 9:54am
Gitchi Gami Bicycle Trail work in Lutsen

With warmer weather comes more bike riding and also work on the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail, which has been slowly making its way up the North Shore.  On April 24, the county board approved a contract with the Arrowhead Regional Development Council (ARDC) to develop strategies for completion of the trail at a cost of $10,000. 
Development of the trail began in the mid-1990s, and a plan to guide its development was adopted in 1999.  About 25 miles have been constructed.  The longest section is from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Beaver Bay, a stretch of 14.6 miles. 
Cook County will provide 1/3 of a $5,000 match ($1,667) for a grant of $5,000 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Lake County and the Gitchi Gami Trail Association will provide the rest of the match.
A stretch of trail west of the Lutsen Ski Hill Road will be completed this summer.
The trail will eventually be 86 miles long and will extend from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.  According to Todd Campbell of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the trail will be completed from Two Harbors to the Lutsen Ski Hill Road by the end of the summer.

Lake Superior Magazine seeks "Best of the Lake" nominees

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 9:52am

For more than two decades, readers of Lake Superior Magazine have shared their favorite spots, sights, restaurants, lodgings and recreation for the Best of the Lake awards.
Nominations for local favorites should be sent to or by using the pull-out ballot in the April/May issue of the magazine, on newsstands now.
“We know how much our past winners have taken pride in earning their
Best of the Lake award,” says Editor Konnie LeMay. “We’re anxiously waiting to see who and what our winners are for this year.”
Many categories are new, including great outdoors entries like Best Shoreline, Best Strolling Beach, Best Place for a Day Outside and Best On-the-Water Experience. There are also categories for places to eat, to stay overnight and to shop for gifts and smoked fish. Winners will be announced in the August/September issue of Lake Superior Magazine. Each winner receives an award certificate and a special badge for the web.
Ballots for the Best of the Lake 2013 will be accepted through June 1.

Cook County accepting applications for rain garden

Wed, 05/08/2013 - 2:05pm

Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is now accepting rain garden applications from private and public landowners in the Lake Superior Basin in Cook County. With the help of Clean Water Land & Legacy Funds, Cook County SWCD has financial and technical assistance available to assist interested landowners in constructing a rain garden on their property.
For rain garden information and an application form, see or contact the Cook County SWCD office at (218) 387-3649. Applications are due by 4 p.m. May 24.

Tofte planning park cleanup day

Wed, 05/08/2013 - 2:03pm

At the April Tofte town meeting, Supervisor Jim King asked about setting a date for “Volunteer Spring Clean up Day” for the park and town hall grounds.
“The major projects seem to be cleaning up three slash piles and the deadfalls,” said King, noting that he would not be much help with his “arthritic shoulder.” King added, “Really, when you look around this room, we’re the only ones that come and help out anyway. Maybe we should hire a younger worker by the hour to do the job.”
“Last year John [Nelson] and I had a young guy help us in the park and we were amazed at how fast he was. He worked twice as fast as we did,” said volunteer Jerry Gervais.
The board decided to allow Gervais and King to find a younger person to work with them and pay that person by the hour to clean up the park.
There was a fair amount of discussion about what to do with the park pavilion.  Gervais and Jim King will work with architect Scott Berry to develop a plan to fix the base of the pavilion and in case the pavilion needs to be moved the township will request a variance from the county.
“If we move the building we will lose its existing footprint. And I think that with the views offered up and down the shore, that’s the best place for the pavilion,” said Gervais. King agreed, but Olsen said, “We have nothing to lose by asking for a variance. If we need it, we will have it, but it doesn’t mean we will have to use it.”
After some discussion the board agreed to apply for a variance but noted that the pavilion will probably stay right where it is after repairs have been made.
The next Tofte town meeting will be Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

Leading scientists back U.S. efforts to protect Bristol Bay salmon fishery

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 11:02am
EPA's Bristol Bay watershed assessment study area

On April 26, 2013, more than 300 leading scientists sent a letter to the White House expressing “deep concerns” about the prospect of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed of Southwest Alaska, home to the world’s largest wild salmon runs. The action comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases for public comment a revised draft assessment on watershed impacts of what could be North America’s largest mine.  

(Click on A.M. Community Calendar link below to hear more about the proposed mine in an interview with Dr. David Chambers, a geophysicist with the Center for Science in Public Participation.)

The open-pit gold and copper operation, known as Pebble Mine, would likely cover an area larger than Manhattan, according to EPA. The proposal is backed by the world’s second-largest mining corporation, London-based Anglo American, and Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals. The project has drawn sharp criticism from the Bristol Bay Native Corp., nine regional tribes, the commercial fishing industry, sportsmen, and environmentalists who fear the massive mine could cause irreversible damage to the watershed. The state of Alaska and the mining industry have objected to EPA’s action to assesses the mine’s potential impact.

County continues discussion on hiring an administrator

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 3:24pm

The county may be looking for an administrator sometime in the months ahead.  On April 30, the county board met to discuss the possibility and agreed to move forward on formulating how that job might look. 
Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Sue Hakes said they have heard positive comments from constituents in regard to hiring an administrator.  Commissioner Hakes said she had heard from people both in support of and against the position in the past, but recently, people have been expressing only support.  “I haven’t heard anybody who says they don’t want one,” she said.  “Not one.”
They need to consider the position in the context of the size of this community, Commissioner Garry Gamble said, but they also need to consider “what’s on our plate” as a county.  He said he thinks the board needs an administrator so they “could focus on the bigger picture.”
The board discussed a desire to gather input from the public on whether an administrator should be hired.  Commissioner Martinson suggested that they create a job description that could be presented to the public and then revised before advertising for the position.  Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk suggested presenting two options for the public to consider.
The question of hiring an administrator came up when Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen announced earlier this year that she would be retiring in August. 
By a vote of 3-0, with Commissioner Hall absent and Commissioner Hakes unable to vote because she was in attendance only by speakerphone, the board passed a motion to pursue the possibility of hiring an administrator by developing a draft job description and seeking input from the public.  They passed another motion to request prices from personnel search firms that could help the county find candidates.

Parents encouraged to enroll their children in ATV safety training

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 3:06pm

The Cook County ATV Club reminds parents that an ATV Safety Training course is available in May for students, ages 12 - 15. Sign up now for a safe summer!
The course is part independent study and part field test. When students sign up, they will receive a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) CD to study for the written test and field test. ATVs and helmets are provided for the field test.
A review and the written test will be conducted on Wednesday, May 16 at 3:15 – 5:15 p.m. in Cook County High School room 110. After successfully passing the test, students participate in a Field Test on Saturday, May 18 at 8 a.m. at the old Grand Marais airport site (by Devil Track Landing).
There is a $10 fee, payable to Community Education for the class. The Cook County ATV Club provides scholarships to any youths who cannot afford the course fee. All of the students who successfully complete the ATV safety training will also be treated to a pizza party with the DNR and volunteer instructors and will receive an ATV club t-shirt.
Safety Instructor Dick Parker, an ATV Club member, encouraged parents to have their kids take this course. “Statistics show that 47% of all persons involved in ATV accidents are in their teens, 10-19 years old. The major cause of accidents is rollovers and hitting fixed objects. Speed is frequently the cause," said Parker. "That's why it is so important to catch kids when they are young to teach them about safe and ethical riding."
“Just because you don’t own an ATV doesn’t mean your kid doesn’t need the training,” said Safety Instructor Chuck Silence. “There are more ATVs in the state than snowmobiles—you want them to be prepared to ride just in case they have the chance at a neighbor or friend’s house.”

DNR advises checking status of campgrounds and boat ramps

Sun, 05/05/2013 - 11:42am

Before venturing out to campgrounds, trails and public water accesses, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) advises people to check online or call ahead to avoid surprises.

“Winter weather is always a challenge to public water access,” said Nancy Stewart, DNR public access program coordinator. “Because of the late ice out this year, DNR crews have been unable to inspect and repair launch ramps or put the docks in at the DNR-operated public water access sites. We will get them ready as soon as possible, but we are at the mercy of Mother Nature right now.”

Meanwhile, at Minnesota state parks the cold weather has kept water shut off and RV dump stations closed at many campgrounds.

“Winter conditions persist at Gooseberry Falls State Park and many other parks around the Northland,” said Park Manager Audrey Butts. “We’ve had some folks arrive with camping reservations without knowing in advance what to expect – which has been unplowed roads and a foot of snow in their site.”