Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Easter fun at Community Center Saturday, March 30

Fri, 03/29/2013 - 11:43am

Looking for some fun to have with your kids or grandkids for Easter? Everyone is invited to the Cook County Community Center from 9:00 a.m. until noon, Saturday, March 30 for indoor ice skating, visits and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, brunch, a cake decorating contest and silent auction, raffle with prizes over $600, PEEP eating contest, kids activities and much, much, more! The outdoor Easter Egg Hunt will take place at 10 a.m.—rain, sun or snow!

The cost is $5 per child or $10 for a family.

This an annual fundraiser held by Cook County KIDS PLUS to support youth activities in Cook County. Together with Cook County Community Education and Extension, they support After School Adventures for youth, leadership training for middle school youth, opportunities for youth to learn beginning job skills through the Incredible Exchange and Incredible Internship programs, and underwrite a Summer KIDS Camp and other enrichment programs. All funds raised stay to support youth in Cook County.

Interested in entering our cake-decorating contest? Drop off your decorated cake at the Cook County Community Center on Friday, March 29 or early Saturday morning before 9:00 a.m. for judging. All cakes donated are available in a silent auction.

County to create new access to Maple Hill gravel pit

Fri, 03/29/2013 - 11:41am

Despite objections from some members of the public, the county board has decided to purchase a piece of property adjacent to the southeast side of the county’s gravel pit by the Maple Hill Cemetery.  County Highway Engineer David Betts and Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad requested the purchase in order to create an access to the gravel pit that would be shorter, quieter for nearby residents, and safer because of the hill the pit is on.

The highway department has repaired a breach in a berm at the bottom of the pit and plans to create storm water retention ponds to keep sediment from entering a nearby stream and neighboring properties.

The pit is one of the county’s richest sources of clay, which is used as a binder on gravel roads, and has been used for about 30 years.  Engineer Betts estimated the pit could continue supplying clay at the rate the county has been using it for another 100-250 years.

MnDOT announces 2013 state road construction program

Thu, 03/28/2013 - 10:17am

ST PAUL, Minn.— More than 300 construction projects scheduled for 2013 are designed to improve highways, bridges and other state transportation infrastructure.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced today $1.1 billion will be spent on the state transportation system this year.

The construction program includes work on 87 projects in the Twin Cities and 193 projects in Greater Minnesota. An additional 57 projects statewide will improve safety at railroad crossings, repair seawalls and docks, make improvements on runways and terminals at regional airports, and improve transit centers.

On Hwy 61, reconstruction of the rest area at Tettegouche State Park headquarters continues, and five and a half miles will be reconstructed at Little Marais. Center rumble strips will be installed at Silver Creek Tunnel and other various resurfacing projects will take place on the roadway.

Community members invited to Annual Community Crosswalk on Good Friday

Thu, 03/28/2013 - 10:04am

Community members are invited to take part in the Annual Community Crosswalk procession and Good Friday Service on Friday, March 29. The Crosswalk will begin at St. John’s Catholic Church in Grand Marais at 6 p.m. The procession will travel from church to church, offering prayers for each congregation, as well as those up the Gunflint Trail, on the east and the west ends of the county. Walkers may join the procession at a church along the way.
A Community Good Friday Service will follow the walk at the Grand Marais Evangelical Free Church starting at 7 p.m. Spirit of the Wilderness will lead the service and Rev. Mark Ditmanson of Bethlehem Lutheran Church will speak.

Additional Good Friday Services in Cook County:
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Mid-afternoon Tenabrae Service 3:30 p.m.

First Congregational – United Church of Christ
Open for prayer 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Lutsen Lutheran Church
Good Friday Worship 7 p.m.

Trinity Lutheran Church
Good Friday Service 6:30 p.m.

St. John’s Catholic Church
Good Friday Morning Prayer 9 a.m.m
Confessions 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion 3:30 p.m.

Zoar Lutheran Church
Good Friday Service 7 p.m.

"A celebration of a dog's life" at Betsy Bowen Studio Friday, March 29

Thu, 03/28/2013 - 10:02am

The community is invited to a unique gathering at Betsy Bowen’s Studio in Grand Marais on Friday, March 29, from 6 - 10 p.m. —a celebration of a dog’s life. Friends are hosting the celebration and benefit in remembrance of Pony, the sled dog of Frank and Sherrie Moe of Moetown Kennels, who was killed when Moe’s dog team was struck by a truck at a road crossing during the UP 200 sled dog race on February 17, 2013.
In addition to remembering Pony, a dog described by Frank Moe as “a superstar” who was always pulling, the event will be a fundraiser to help the Moes with veterinary bills. In addition to losing Pony, several of Moe’s dogs suffered serious injuries. Cowboy and Boo were most seriously injured, requiring emergency surgery, but the entire team suffered some injury.
Frank Moe went on to enter the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon on March 10 and ran a competitive race until leaving the Finland checkpoint. Unfortunately, Frank said, the dogs were not yet 100 percent.
“Late in the night on Tuesday the dogs kept stopping, looking back at me with those tired pleading eyes. Well I knew that I'd asked enough of them. It was time to go home,” Moe wrote in a Facebook post to friends.
Frank brought home a tired but happy team. Frank said he and Sherrie were very proud of what they did accomplish during the season. They are looking forward to next year. He said they are already signed up for the Copper Dog in Calumet, Michigan next year and plan to do the Gichigami Express here in Cook County again. They may travel to the Stage Stop in Wyoming next year as well.

Grand Marais Playhouse seeking "Church Basement Ladies"

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 11:11am

The Grand Marais Playhouse will be holding auditions for the musical Church Basement Ladies on Monday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.  The cast includes five women and one man and an organist. Rehearsals will be Sunday evenings through April then alternately Monday - Thursday with Moon Over Buffalo through May and June. This year the Playhouse will rotate the musical with the comedy from July 18 - August 11.
Scripts for upcoming plays are available at the Grand Marais Public Library for short term check-out. A CD of the musical is also available.

County okays partnership to purchase Bill Bally Blacksmith Shop building

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 11:10am

After a great deal of discussion over the past two weeks regarding potential liability issues, the county board agreed on March 12, 2013 to enter into a partnership with the Cook County Historical Society for the purchase of the Bill Bally Blacksmith Shop.  The historical society needed a fiscal partner in order to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society that would fund the purchase. 
A review of the property was conducted by an environmental consulting firm after the board expressed concerns about potential liability for any environmental contaminants that might be found on the property.  Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson said that as long as the property is not altered, nothing would trigger further investigation.
The board passed two motions:  one to enter into a purchase agreement with the historical society and the seller, the estate of Karen Holte, and the other to enter into a management agreement with the Cook County Historical Society, with the understanding that the county will transfer ownership of the property to the historical society after five years when the partnership requirements of the grant have been fulfilled.
The sellers will be removing the waste oil containers currently on the property and will have the well inside the blacksmith shop capped.
The closing date will be August 1, 2014 or before, which gives the historical society time to procure the hoped-for grant.

4th Annual Easter Egg Fundraiser for Cook County KIDS March 30

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 9:47am
The 4th Annual Easter Egg Fundraiser for Cook County KIDS is happening this Saturday, March 30 at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais from 9:00 a.m. to noon.  There will be indoor ice skating, an outdoor Easter Egg Hunt, visits & photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, brunch, cake decorating contest and silent auction, raffle with prizes over $600, a PEEP eating contest, kids activities and much more! Cost is $5 for a child or $10 per family.
This is an annual fundraiser held by Cook County KIDS PLUS to support youth activities in Cook County. Together with Cook County Community Education and Extension, KIDS PLUS supports After School Adventures for youth, leadership training for middle school youth, opportunities for youth to learn beginning job skills through the Incredible Exchange and Incredible Internship programs, and underwrites a Summer KIDS Camp and other enrichment programs. All funds raised will stay in the community to support local youth activities in Cook County.
Interested in entering the cake decorating contest? Drop off decorated cakes at the Cook County Community Center on Friday, March 29 or early Saturday morning before 9:00 a.m. for judging.  All cakes donated are entered into a silent auction. The cake receiving the highest bid will win first place with second and third place awarded according to the funds raised. Winners will receive a free 2013 Cook County KIDS Plus coupon book that is good for discounts at participating businesses.
Cakes or other goodies are also needed for the cake walk. Folks are encouraged to drop their donations off any time before 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 30.

Thunder Bay shipping season starts

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 8:22am

The 2013 Port of Thunder Bay shipping season is officially underway.

The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal reports the occasion was marked yesterday with a traditional top hat ceremony at the port authority’s headquarters.

Capt. Douglas Parsons of the John B. Aird, the first ship to arrive in Thunder Bay’s port this season, was presented with the top hat.

The top hat ceremony dates back to the creation of the city’s harbour commission in 1953.  It’s a beaver hat, a symbol of the fur trade.

Diabetes Alert Day: March 26

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 2:32pm
MDH logo.jpg
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) estimates that about 80,000 adults in Minnesota may have diabetes without knowing it. 
Given the seriousness of the disease, MDH is encouraging Minnesotans this Diabetes Alert Day, Tuesday, March 26, to ask themselves whether they are at risk for diabetes and to take steps to improve their health.
The percentage of adults in Minnesota who are living with diabetes nearly doubled between 1994 and 2010 and these numbers under-represent the true number of people living with the condition. About 290,000 adults in Minnesota, or 7.3 percent, say they have been told by their health care team they have diabetes.
National data show that only 75 percent of adults with diabetes know that they have the disease. Given Minnesota’s population, about 80,000 Minnesotans might have the disease without being aware of it.  
“Given the alarming increase of diabetes, we are encouraging Minnesotans to use this day to think about whether they or someone they love might have diabetes or prediabetes and not even know about it,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Diabetes is a very treatable disease and it is important that everyone with diabetes takes steps to get their blood sugar under control and lead a healthier life.”
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and often does not have symptoms. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being older, and for women, having had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy, and having prediabetes. People of color and American Indians also have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

County considers restructuring personnel director/board secretary postition

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 10:13am

On March 18, the board had a work session to discuss the possibility of restructuring the personnel director/board secretary position when Janet Simonen retires in August.  They considered putting some of her duties into someone else’s job description and hiring a county coordinator or a county administrator in her place. 
A county coordinator or administrator could be a point person for information, oversee the county budget, implement board actions, and provide expertise to the board.  A county administrator would have authority over the other department heads, whereas a county coordinator would not.
The board will be inviting a representative of the Association of Minnesota Counties and a couple of county administrators to talk to them about how a county administrator could be useful.   They asked several department heads what they knew about these positions in other counties.
“I’ve heard some very positive things, and I’ve heard some not so positive things,” said Public Health & Human Services Director Sue Futterer.   “The right person can certainly make a difference.”
“The right person is the bottom line,” said Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson.
Information Systems Director Danna MacKenzie said having a decision-maker and point person could help the county get things done more efficiently and cost-effectively.  “We have an opportunity to change the way we do business to make it work better,” she said.

Co-op takes part in statewide campaign for food shelves

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 10:04am

The Cook County Whole Foods Co-op has joined a statewide campaign to help alleviate hunger.
In past years, Twin Cities area food co-ops have participated in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches that provides funds, food and educational materials to over 300 food shelves across the state.  Last year the collective members, shoppers and staff gave over $91,000/pounds of food to food shelves in our neighborhoods—the third-most successful corporate campaign in the state.
This year’s collaborative efforts have expanded to include 15 food co-ops throughout Minnesota, not just in the Twin Cities.  The Cook County Whole Foods Co-op in Grand Marais is among them.
This means that co-ops across the state will be running similar campaigns for their communities, and the food drive will make an even bigger impact on Minnesotans.
When we’re working together, all it takes is “rounding up” your grocery bill or adding a few dollars onto your total to make a real difference. Did you know that one dollar can feed a person for a day? Twenty dollars can feed a family of four for five days.  Just imagine the impact statewide when we all give a few dollars to those who are hungry.
Consider dropping off non-perishable food items or a monetary food shelf donation at the co-op in March.

No new wolves on Isle Royale

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 8:32am

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Scientists say the gray wolves in Michigan's Isle Royale National Park are in growing danger of extinction and may have stopped reproducing.

A report given Monday to The Associated Press says scientists with Michigan Technological University saw no evidence that pups were born in the past year during their recent winter trip to the park. It's believed to be the first time since scientists began monitoring the wolves' reproduction in 1971 that no offspring were born.

The report also says only eight wolves remain on the island chain in Lake Superior. Just five years ago, there were 24. The report will be released publicly today.

Grand Marais gets new fire tender

Mon, 03/25/2013 - 11:14am

Grand Marais Fire Chief Ben Silence and lead firefighter Aaron Mielke visited city councilors at their March 13 meeting, and brought with them the fire department’s newest acquisition – a 2012 tender. A FEMA grant was used to pay 90 percent of the cost of the approximately $210,000 vehicle. The truck was manufactured by Stainless & Repair Inc. of Marshfield, Wis., holds 2,000 gallons of water and is equipped with a 750 gallon-per-minute pump. The tender replaces a 1984 converted milk truck, which was traded in.
Chief Silence lauded Mielke’s dedication and perseverance for completing the many grant forms, putting together the specs and attending meetings that led to the city’s successful grant application. “I give him much credit for his time and effort,” said Silence. “It was an excellent job.”
The tender joins a fleet that also includes a 2007 pumper, a 1978 50-foot ladder truck, a 1994 Ford support truck and a First Responders vehicle. The department, which includes firefighters and First Responders, is comprised of 22 members.

Computer classes at the Senior Center

Mon, 03/25/2013 - 11:14am

A free Basic Computer Class is being offered at the Cook County Senior Center in Grand Marais on Wednesday, March 27 from 12:30 - 3 p.m. If you don’t know anything about computers or are intimidated by them, this is the class for you. If you need some refreshing on using a computer, this class is for you. Pre-registration is requested and donations for the class are accepted.
There is high-speed internet, as well as computers for you to us at the Senior Center. Or if you prefer, you are welcome to bring your own laptop or tablet computer.
The Senior Center will also help provide additional training for folks with future questions.
For more information, stop in or call the Senior Center at 387-2660.