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News and other information from Cook County

Community Ink Day is happening Feb. 2

Sun, 01/27/2013 - 4:14pm

What is Ink Day? It is a family-friendly opportunity for the community to come into the Grand Marais Art Colony print studio and make a unique print.

The first event is Print Your Valentines. Drop in anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. on Feb. 2 and for $5 create your own Valentines.

The Art Colony invites all ages to this printmaking event – an afternoon of hands-on creative fun. Experience the Art Colony's professional print studio with coaching and assistance from experienced printmakers. All supplies are provided for you to make your own unique printed Valentines and art pieces. Stop by at any point throughout the afternoon. (Youth under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.)

New Gunflint Ranger to speak at Business Luncheon

Sun, 01/27/2013 - 9:46am

Nancy Larson, recently appointed Gunflint district ranger for the Superior National Forest, will speak at Cook County Higher Education's January Business Networking Luncheon.

Larson's talk will begin at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Harbor Light Supper Club, 1615 West Highway 61 in Grand Marais. The event will conclude by 1 p.m. Cost is $20.

Larson is a 23-year U.S. Forest Service veteran who comes to Grand Marais from the Chippewa National Forest in Cass Lake. She has served in a variety of roles at national forests from West Virginia to California—including five years in Cook, MN. as LaCroix District ranger on the Superior National Forest. Larson holds a degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI.

Larson's Jan. 30 talk will include a general overview of the national forest system and policies, an introduction to who she is and details of the 2013 work program for the Gunflint District.

To attend the Larson luncheon, please email or call 218-387-3411. Please register by Monday, Jan. 28.

Weekend News Roundup for January 26

Sat, 01/26/2013 - 10:32am

Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. Lonnie Dupre on Denali, soap toxins in the water, the Feds joining in a criminal sexual conduct case and much more…all in this week’s news.


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Order seedlings for spring now

Sat, 01/26/2013 - 10:06am

Although many Minnesotans are thinking of what to do in the recent snowfall, staffers at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) state forest nurseries are looking forward to warmer weather. Nursery workers are gearing up for their spring seedling sale.

Millions of seedlings are available for the 2013 planting season, including 20 species of native bareroot trees and shrubs grown from seeds collected in Minnesota. Seedlings vary in size from 6 to 18 inches in height.

“Pines, spruces, oaks, maples, wildlife shrubs and much more are available with prices starting as low as 24 cents per piece,” said Craig VanSickle, nurseries supervisor. 

Assessors Office seeks additional staff member

Sat, 01/26/2013 - 10:03am

New Assessor Betty Schultz has taken on an ambitious challenge.  Under orders from the state, she and her staff will be assessing 20 percent of the county’s private properties—called a quintile—each year from here on forward.

 In addition to that, they will be collecting more detailed information on each property than was collected in the past and putting the data into a new software system.  To accomplish all that, Schultz asked the county board on January 22 to consider adding a new staff position to her department.

“The full 20 percent quintile requirement has not been met for a number of years due to the Assessor’s Office workload and maintaining personnel to cover the office on a daily basis,” Schultz wrote in a January 22 memo to the board. 

Cook County girls win at Carlton, boys lose

Sat, 01/26/2013 - 8:05am

Lily Gruber-Schulz scored 24 points Friday night to lead the Cook County Viking girls to a 57-54 road basketball win over Carlton.

The Viking boys lost a close game 44-42 to Carlton after nearly overcoming an eight-point deficit at the end of the first half.

The Vikings outscored the Bulldogs 40-29 in the first half of the girls’ game. The Bulldogs came back to take a 25-17 advantage in the second, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Vikings. Cook County upped its record to 6-12 with the win.

The Viking victory came despite being out-shot at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs hit 18 of 25 from the charity stripe while Cook County only managed five of 21.

In addition to Gruber-Schulz’s game-high 24, Theresa  Morrin had 16 for the Vikings. Also scoring were Breana Peterson with eight, Kaitlynn Linnell with five and Jordyn Deschampe with four.

Clarissa Nelson led the Bulldogs with 23 points while Tori Zime had 10.

The Viking boys didn’t fare as well as the girls. Carlton managed to escape Cook County by two points, 44-42. The loss dropped the Vikes to 8-5 for the season.

The Bulldogs outscored the Vikings 25-17 in the first half before the Vikings came back to take a 25-19 second-half advantage, falling just short.

Colin Everson hit 20 for Cook County followed by Kale Boomer with 11. Lars Scannell scored five while Jonny Jacobsen hit four and Peter Warren hit one.

Erik Adams and Lane Empson led the Bulldogs with 16 and 11 respectively.

The Vikings’ boys and girls teams host the  Silver BayMariners in Grand Marais on Monday night followed by a visit from the Mesabi East Giants on Tuesday night.

Portage to play at North Shore Care Center Saturday

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:27am

The first dance of 2013 at the North Shore Care Center will feature Portage – the local country music band. Portage performs the last Saturday of the month during the year. The dance will be Saturday, January 26 at 6:30 p.m. and community folks are always welcome. 
For more information about activity programs or volunteer opportunities, please contact the Activity Department at (218) 387-3518 or visit:

Fire damages Solbakken Resort cabin a second time

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:11am
Firefighters at the scene

When a page went out to the Lutsen Fire Department at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24, firefighters undoubtedly thought the address—cabin 4 at Solbakken Resort—sounded familiar. For good reason—the fire department was called to a fire at the same cabin two years ago, oddly on the exact same date.
Solbakken Resort is owned by Michael and Maureen O’Phelan. Reached by phone, Michael O’Phelan said they were baffled by the cause of the fire. No guests had been in the cabin since January 8, but staff members check on all six of the Solbakken cabins daily. The fire was spotted by housekeeping staff conducting deep cleaning in an adjacent cabin.
“Maureen got the call at Cascade and we flew over there, hoping it was something small, but by the time we got there, it was engulfed in fire,” said O’Phelan.
Members of the Lutsen Fire Department were on the scene of this fire by about  2:15 p.m. Lutsen Fire Chief Paul Goettl noted that the first two firefighters on the scene were two of the newest fire department members. He said they did an excellent job assessing and responding to the fire. “We’ve been training and you can see that our training is paying off. They did a good job.”
The Tofte and Schroeder Fire Departments also responded, as well as the Cook County Ambulance. Goettl said the ambulance crewmembers, who are also Grand Marais firefighters, were helpful with directions and incident command. There were no injuries, although a few wet firefighters had to take a break to sit in a warm truck to thaw out their turnout gear.
The fire department was able to quickly extinguish the fire, which had lit a nearby tree on fire.  They then had to ventilate the structure, cutting holes in the roof and gables to pull out smoldering insulation, to ensure the blaze was out.

Viking boys take basketball win, Viking and Mariner girls lose

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 8:35am

The Cook County boys basketball team had an easy victory Thursday night beating Northeast Range 65-38 in Grand Marais,

The victory pushed the Vikings to 8-4 for the season. They outscored the Nighthawks 37-19 in the first and 27-19 in the second for the win.

Colin Everson and Lars Scannell provided the scoring punch for the Vikings with 31 and 16 points apiece. Scannell nailed three, three-pointers in his total while Everson had two.

Other scorers for the Vikings included Kale Boomer with six points, including two threes; Peter Warren with three with Noah Warren, Richie Furlong and Andy Farley scoring two apiece.

Nolan Blomberg led the Nighthawks with 11.

The Nighthawks won the girls’ game by the score of 62-28. No details were available.

The Viking boys and girls are on the road Friday night with games at Carlton against the Bulldogs.  WTIP will broadcast both games with Norman Moe and Dick Dorr giving the play-by-play starting at 4:45 PM.

The  Silver Bay Mariner girls’ team traveled to Duluth Marshall Thursday night and lost 45-33.

The Hilltoppers outscored the Mariners 30-19 in the first half. Silver Bay came back strong in the second with Duluth holding only a 15-14 margin.

Alice Nopola led the Mariners with 15 points while Brandi Nopola scored 10.

The loss dropped the Mariners to 1-11 for the season.

On Monday night, January 28, the Mariners travel to Grand Marais for girls’ and boys’ basketball action. Both varsity games will be broadcast on WTIP with the Moe-Dorr team providing the action for listeners. The action gets going at 4:45 PM.

Lonnie moves to over 15,000 feet on Denali

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 6:38am

Despite whiteout conditions Lonnie was able to reach 15,200 feet from 14,200 yesterday. There he left a backpack with everything he will need for his 17,200 foot camp and beyond. Because of the whiteout he marked his path with wands on ascent, because he had to return to 14,200 foot camp before making the final push to 17,200.

The forecast for today is still 50/50 for traveling. The temperature with windchill is projected to be -45F.

As the month winds down, Lonnie Dupre is in position to make the assault on the summit of Alaska's Mount McKinley.

The Grand Marais adventurer is making his third attempt to become the first person to climb the 20,320-foot peak -- North America's highest mountain -- solo in January.

The 17,200 foot camp is the last before he attempts the summit.

Community center bids come in over budget

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 3:08pm

At the Tuesday, January 22 county board meeting, Commissioner Sue Hakes reported that bids were in for the next phase of construction on the Cook County Family YMCA.  She said the bids came in over budget and the Community Center Steering Committee would be meeting to discuss revising the plans to stay within budget.
The steering committee meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 25 starting at 8:00 a.m. and scheduled until 2:00 p.m. at the Cook County Community Center. 

The meeting agenda calls for looking at the construction costs of all phases and considering changes and reductions in construction to meet the budget for the project.

“I’m not going to beat around the bush,” Hakes said.  “I think we’re going to have to make some tough decisions on Friday.”

DNR seeks comments on area lake and stream management plans

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 2:25pm

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fisheries division is continually monitoring and strategizing how best to manage the lakes and streams under its care. Part of the effort includes gathering public comment on the lakes and streams being evaluated. Citizens interested in learning about or commenting on DNR strategies for managing Grand Marais area lakes and streams have until Feb. 15, 2013, to ask questions or submit comments.
“Management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the waters,” said Steve Persons, Grand Marais area fisheries supervisor. “The plans identify specific management activities planned for that lake or stream in the next five to 20 years.”
Every year, DNR fisheries staff prepares or revises individual lake and stream management plans for several waters in each management area. In the Grand Marais area, plans for the following lakes and streams will be reviewed:
* Bogus - managed for splake, reviewing stocking success and need for stocking adjustments.
* Little Cascade - managed for northern pike (special regulation), reviewing assessment needs to evaluate regulation.
* Daniels - managed for lake trout and smallmouth bass, reviewing status of lake trout population and assessment and stocking needs.
* Dawkins - managed for northern pike, no new management activity proposed.
* Holly - managed for northern pike and walleye, reviewing need for continued walleye stocking.
* Jack - managed for northern pike, no new management activity proposed.
* Loon - managed for lake trout, northern pike, and smallmouth bass, reviewing status of populations and assessment needs.
* Lost - privately managed, updating plan to reflect loss of public access.
* Mit - managed for walleye, reviewing need for continued stocking.

Feds now involved in county sexual abuse case; Omnibus Hearing continued to March 5

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 5:20am

The Omnibus Hearing for a 36-year-old man facing a number of charges alleging sexual conduct with young girls has been continued to March 5

Assistant Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken and defense attorney John Lind agreed to the continuance Wednesday afternoon for Joel Ray Allard of Grand Portage. During the 10-minute hearing before Sixth District Judge Michael Cuzzo, it was disclosed that the US Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also investigating charges against Allard.

After the hearing, Hicken said that Allard is the only subject of her office’s investigation.

Hicken told the court that federal law enforcement is now involved in the case which her office began investigating last year. She said the FBI’s investigating agent believes a federal grand jury will vote an indictment for Allard within the next few weeks. A federal indictment would take precedence in the case although Hicken said the state could continue its case once the federal case is resolved.

The assistant county attorney requested that Allard remain in county custody unless the federal system gets involved. She also asked that the Omnibus Hearing be continued for six weeks to give federal officials the time to act.

Under questioning from defense attorney Lind, Allard said he understood the involvement of federal authorities. Lind said he expected the federal case to have “quite rapid” movement. 

Lind also said that his client was waiving his request for a speedy hearing. He said that if Cook County intends to actively prosecute the case that the proper discovery process continue with evidence to be made available by the county attorney. Cuzzo asked Hicken to continue with the discovery process as necessary and she agreed.

Dupre plans to move further up Denali Thursday

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 4:42am
Dupre Map_012413.jpg

If the weather permits Thursday, Grand Marais explorer Lonnie Dupre plans to begin moving his supplies another 2,000 feet up Denali.

Dupre is on his solo third attempt to reach the summit of Alaska’s Denali. He would be the first person to do so. The peak is North America’s highest.

His crew at One World Endeavors reports that Wednesday was “a rest day for Lonnie at the 14,200 foot camp. He must acclimate (to the altitude) before continuing on.”

Dupre spent Wednesday charging electronic gear and organizing for when he begins ferrying his gear up to 16,200 feet. The plan would be for him to move supplies today and return to his camp at 14,200 feet to sleep.

The route from 14,200 to 16,200 feet surmounts the mountain’s West Buttress. The Duluth News Tribune reports the route presents the steepest climbing along West Buttress route — an 800-foot, 40-to-55 degree snow and ice face known as the Headwall. From 16,200 to the 17,200-foot camp, the route follows just below a ridge line and includes several steep and exposed sections.

The News Tribune says Dupre hopes to move to his high camp at 17,200 feet on Friday. That would be his last camp before reaching the summit.

In addition to the grueling climb, Dupre also is working on a 20-minute documentary film called “Cold Love.” The film will call attention to climate change.

Dupre's expedition may be followed at


Flu is still with us, but the vaccine is here

Wed, 01/23/2013 - 11:02am

The respiratory flu is still around, but the vaccines are all available. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with nurse Teresa Borak about what’s available for which patients.

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