Around Cook County
Boaters who use the Grand Marais harbor will soon have an improved dock and launch, thanks to an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources approved Feb. 27 by the city council.
City Administrator Mike Roth explained that the new agreement, which has been reviewed and sent back and forth between the city’s and DNR’s attorneys during the last few months, will replace the existing agreement with the state that governs the boat launch on the east side of the harbor near the Coast Guard building. The new agreement takes effect upon approval by both city council and the DNR; Roth said the DNR has expressed its satisfaction with the revised document.
Roth said the new agreement runs for 35 years and is very similar to the one in place for the boat launch near The Point. Plans call for the state to construct a boat launch and parking area in the vicinity of the boat ramp at the bottom of Eighth Avenue West in the Rec Park.
The improvements are based on a concept plan which has been reviewed and approved by the city’s park board, and is consistent with the park’s master plan.
The new launch is needed, Roth said, because the parking lot near the Coast Guard Station is often crowded and difficult for boaters to use, and the ramp itself is not very “friendly” for users with large boats. However, it is currently the only access available in Grand Marais.
The new ramp will extend farther out into Lake Superior and will provide access to deeper water.
Andrew Letzring slipped to 5th place as the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon mushers rested at the Devil Track checkpoint this morning.
Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm was in 1st place, Keith Aili of Ray was in 2nd. Amanda Vogel, also of Ray, moved into 3rd place, Grand Marais musher Odin Jorgenson was in 4th. Frank Moe of Hovland was in 6th.
Colleen Wallin of Two Harbors was in 7th place, distantly followed by Duluth’s Dave Gordon. Zoya DeNure of Delta Junction, Alaska and Blake Freking of Finland have scratched.
Andrew Letzring held on to his lead overnight as the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon enters day three. The Herbster Wisconsin musher left the Trail Center check point a little before 10 p.m. last night.
Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm was in 2nd place, Keith Aili of Ray was in 3rd. Amanda Vogel, also of Ray, moved into 4th place, Frank Moe of Hovland was in 5th followed by Grand Marais musher Odin Jorgenson. Blake Freking of Finland was in 7th place.
Colleen Wallin of Two Harbors left Trail center in 8th place followed by Duluth’s Dave Gordon. Zoya DeNure of Delta Junction, Alaska has scratched.
Although there is currently ice bobbing in the Grand Marais harbor, it is time to make plans to be on the water under sunny skies on July 26-28, for the 10th annual North Shore Dragon Boat Festival.
Whether you are part of a team or an individual who wants to experience the excitement of pulling your paddle to the beat of the drum, it’s time to register. Early registration by March 15 gives your team a $200 savings.
Organizers note that the festival has come a long way since the first contest in 2003, and this year’s event promises to be the best ever.
See www.northshoredragonboat.com to sign up or for more details
With the deadline for a grant application to the Minnesota Historical Society due on March 15, Carrie McHugh, Gene Erickson, and Hal Greenwood of the Cook County Historical Society again met with the county board on March 5 to discuss a partnership that would allow the historical society to purchase the Bally Blacksmith Shop in Grand Marais, probably the oldest commercial building in Grand Marais.
On February 26, the historical society had requested the partnership after hearing of Legacy funds left over in the Minnesota Historical Society’s biennial budget. The historical society’s annual budget was not sufficient to allow it to apply for the grant alone.
At that meeting, the county board discussed concerns over potential liability if any environmental contaminants were found on the property and authorized Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson to find a consultant to evaluate the property with a “Phase I” study, an initial evaluation conducted through visual observation, record searches, and interviews.
Environmental Troubleshooters Inc. conducted the study, and Director Nelson accompanied them when they looked at the property. He told the county board on March 5 that he was more comfortable with the site after visiting it.
Commissioner Sue Hakes said she has received some complaints about the building potentially being taken off the tax rolls. She asked the historical society if they could move the building off the property so that the sellers could sell it as commercial space. Museum Director Carrie McHugh said the Minnesota Historical Society would not support moving the building off its historic location.
More people would probably be upset about moving it than about taking it off the tax rolls, Commissioner Jan Hall said.
“I really think it would contribute to the community,” said McHugh.
You are invited to partake in a delectable array of taste samples from 12-plus Cook County restaurants and food vendors; bid on any of the quality silent auction items donated by local businesses and individuals; and enjoy fine musical entertainment while socializing with fellow supporters of the ISD 166, Cook County Schools.
E.A.T.S. 2013 (Enriching Academics Through Sustenance) will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the high school. Only 150 tickets will be sold; the cost is $25.
Tickets are available in the K-12 office, from Java Moose, Blue Water Café
or any CCSDEF board member: Hal Greenwood, Hyla Napadensky, Duane Hasegawa, Lorelei Livingston, Harry Drabik, Pat Campanaro, Doug Sanders, Kaye Tavernier, Dianne Peterson, Annie DeBevec, Gene Erickson or Susan Lappi. Thrivent Financial, North Shore Chapter 31313, will match the first $600 raised.
The Cook County School District 166 Education Foundation awards grants to projects and activities that provide extraordinary educational opportunities for students in the district. Over $72,000 in grants have been awarded since 2002.
Mushers waited two years for the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, and Sunday it finally happened.
The starting line was off Riley Road in the east part of Duluth and about 2,500 people showed up to see the mushers off.
Today, the Mid-Distance race winner crossed the line at 8:10 a.m. Jenny Greger of Bozeman, Montana was on the trail for 6 hours, 52 minutes for an average speed of 15 mph.
Erin Altemus of Glenwood City, Wisc. was second, just 37 minutes behind Greger.
Nick Turman of Two Harbors placed seventh and Jennifer Freking of Finland placed 11th.
In the full marathon as of 10 a.m. this morning, Andrew Letzring of Herbster, Wisc. held the top spot after leaving the Sawbill check point. Close behind was Keith Aili of Ray in second place.
David Gordon of Duluth held third place. Colleen Wallin of Two Harbors was in sixth, Blake Freking of Finland, seventh, Frank Moe, Hovland in eighth and Odin Jorgenson of Grand Marais in ninth place.
Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. Dry conditions continue despite the snow, a wolf hunt moratorium is proposed, the state will stop using products containing an environment-harming chemical, and a big land owner might start restricting public access …all in this week’s news.
Festivities of the 30th running of the John Beargrease Sled
Dog Marathon, originally scheduled to begin Jan. 25, will take place
beginning this weekend, Friday, March 8, and “run” through Thursday,
March 14. The race was postponed due to the lack of snow earlier this
winter. The race starts at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 10 at Jean Duluth and
Riley Roads in Duluth. The Mid-Distance finish is scheduled for
Monday, March 11 at the AmericInn in Tofte. Two days later, Wednesday,
March 13, the Marathon Race finish will take place at Billy’s Bar on
Tischer Road in Duluth. This year there will be a new race for
juniors, the inaugural running of the "Little John" for mushers
between the ages of 14 and 17. In addition, the John Beargrease Sled
Dog Marathon board of directors has elected to guarantee a minimum of
$15,400 for the 2013 purse. The current allocation is $9,000 for the
Marathon and $6,400 for the Mid-Distance. Events begin March 8 with
the annual Beargrease Gala and silent auction from 6 to 10 p.m. at
Greysolon Plaza in Duluth. Opening ceremonies and the bib draw follow
on March 9 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Depot in Duluth; activities there
also include a pipe and drum ceremony. Awards banquets are scheduled
for March 11 at Camp 61 in Beaver Bay (Mid-Distance), and March 14 at
Black Bear Casino in Carlton (Marathon). The photographer’s show runs
through March 25 at the Great Lakes Aquarium. At almost 400 miles, the
Beargrease is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 of the United
States. Teams must rest at least 32 hours during the race, including
So far five of the 111 radio-collared moose have died in the
first month of an intensive six-year study being conducted by wildlife
specialists to determine what is causing the high moose mortality rate
in Northeastern Minnesota.
“To date we have had five mortalities,” said Erika Butler, D.V.M.
Wildlife Veterinarian of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(DNR), which is working with a number of partners on the project.
But of these mortalities, Butler said, “Four of these are considered
capture-related as they occurred within two weeks of capture. This is
a mortality rate of 3.6 percent, which is within the expected range,
especially given the poor condition of many of these animals. “The
fifth was actually outside our window for capture-related mortalities
and was a wolf kill,” Butler said.
Although moose have been radio-collared in the past, these new collars
are outfitted with GPS tracking devises and will send researchers six
locations of each moose each day, as well as the ambient outside air
temperature. If a moose doesn’t move for six hours researchers will
text its location every 30 minutes for the next six hours so DNR staff
can track the animal.
The goal is to locate moose that have died within 24 hours so they can
be brought back and studied to determine what caused their death. If
the moose is too big or too far away to retrieve a necropsy will be
conducted in the field.
While moose have all but disappeared in northwestern Minnesota,
northeastern Minnesota has been the last stand for these magnificent
creatures in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
It’s time to paint the town red…no pink!...again. The 2013
Mush for a Cure will be held Friday and Saturday, March 8-9 on the
Gunflint Trail. Shake your cabin fever and come out for fun at this
amazing fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
There will be delicious pasta and dancing at Windigo Lodge on Friday
night. The theme is back to the 80s, so find those parachute pants or
leggings, pouf up your hair and get ready to party like a pop star—in
pink, of course!
Part of the hilarity will be The Bald, The Brave and The Beautiful
event. Three Cook County businessmen have put their heads on the line.
There is a competition to see which man can raise the most money to
fight breast cancer. If enough money is raised, all three will have
their head shaved—in front of the partying crowd. Taking part in the
crazy spring fever event is Bruce Kerfoot of Gunflint Lodge who is in
the lead at this time with $1,550 in donations. Forrest Parson of
Hungry Jack is close behind with $1,485 and Scott Harrison of Lutsen
Resort was not far behind with $1,055 in pledges.
If you’d like to push the men over the line to baldness, consider
donating today. You can do it quickly and easily on-line at www.mushforacure.com
- click on “Donate” and look for the name of whom you want to see
Or you can select your favorite musher to donate to. At press time,
MFAC has already raised almost $20,000. Organizers are hoping to top
Melting winter snowfall won’t do much to alleviate the extremely dry soil conditions across Minnesota, even if some areas experience spring flooding, according to the state climatologist.
Roughly 70 percent of Minnesota is in extreme drought or severe drought. All of the snow that has fallen over the winter by and large remains on top of the landscape, a landscape that is largely frozen.
Cook County along the Canadian border is considered abnormally dry, the rest of the county is in a moderate drought condition.
The National Weather Service, which produces flood outlooks, has called for a high risk of flooding in the southern reaches of the Red River Valley.
Come see James Wedgwood and his amazing comic ventriloquism at 6 p.m. March 8 at the Grand Marais Public Library.
Like a one-man variety show, James makes virtually everything talk, from wooden “associates” to purses, bottles, and even audience members – yes, they open their mouths and James provides the surprising words! A game show, singing (without moving his lips) and much more are all part of the fun. With outrageous characters and hilarious audience participation, this is a performance unlike any other and one you will not want to miss.
The show is free and appropriate for all ages, and is funded with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
The future of the Tofte Post Office – and other small offices like it – is uncertain. At the February 14, 2013 Tofte Township Board meeting, former postmaster Skip Lamb expressed concern over how the U.S. Postal Service might try to trim its budget and asked the Tofte board for help.
“I don’t want anybody not to get their mail,” Lamb said. The ability to receive goods, services, and supplies like medicine through the mail is crucial for isolated communities, he said.
Starting in March, the post office will only be open six hours a day instead of eight. “I would like to see Tofte take a stand on it,” Lamb said, “because I think legislatively there are still a lot of things pending. It would be nice if you would see what you could do to help the situation out.”
“I think you’re right, Skip. I think we need to be proactive,” said Board Chair Paul James. “This is a national crisis that they can’t keep the post office open.” He said that with so much communication being done by email these days, it’s no wonder the post office is having problems.
U.S. Senator Al Franken is in support of keeping rural postal services intact, Lamb said. County Commissioner Bruce Martinson said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar often brings her family to stay at Bluefin and thought she would be supportive of keeping services at the Tofte Post Office.
If Lutsen had to pick between having a post office either in Tofte or Schroeder, and if Schroeder had to pick between having a post office either in Tofte or Lutsen, Supervisor Jim King said, they would probably pick Tofte. “When you’re the center of the universe,” he said, “there are certain obligations that you just have to put up with!”
“Isn’t that Grand Marais?” James said.
Grand Portage Ojibwe elder Billy Blackwell will share his knowledge of local history and co-host the event with Cook County Historical Society Director Carrie McHugh.
(Click here to hear an interview with Billy Blackwell and Carrie McHugh.)
This two hour event will feature a panel of guest speakers, including Tim Cochrane on the Early History of the Region, Victor Aubid on Ojibwe Migrations, Milt Powell on Saganaga Lake and Blackstone, Alta McQuatters on the Lutsen Area & White Sky, Sue Kerfoot will share Gunflint Lake Stories, Chester Lindskog on A Changing County, and Gene Erickson with Fantastic Facts & Figures.
There will also be a display of historically-themed original art by: Alice Powell, Jan Attridge, David Hahn, and Heidi Sobanja.
The event will last about 2 hours and snacks will be served afterwards. More information is available from Historical Society director Carrie McHugh at 387-2883, or by email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society)