Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Judge denies expert witness in Scannell trial

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 5:53pm

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Shaun Floerke handed down his opinion blocking the request by Cook County’s special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger to allow Dr. Amanda Powers-Sawyer, a White Bear Lake psychologist to testify that Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell had engaged in the practice of “grooming” before having sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl.

Scannell admits to having sexual contact with the girl in August of 2012, and charges were brought against him after he violated a restraining order filed by the girl’s parents to have no contact with her.

Scannell, who is being represented by Attorney Joseph Tamburino, will appear in court in Duluth on Monday, July 21 where he will face two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Heffelfinger tried to add Dr. Powers-Sawyer to the state’s witness list three weeks before the trial date, and he made his case to the judge at the pre-trial hearing held on July 3. In his arguments Heffelfinger said Powers-Sawyer would be able to testify that in a four month period prior to the alleged crime that Scannell used his position of authority to build “trust and attraction” and “reliance” with the victim. These are “grooming” practices used by sex offenders to build trust with children before sexually abusing them, he said.

Tamburino argued that a grooming expert would prejudice the jury to his client, and he told the judge that the case boiled down to whether or not Scannell held a “position of authority” over the girl or whether the physical contact was consensual, as Scannell has alleged.

A "Little Free Library" in Grand Marais

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 4:13pm

Although “Little Free Libraries” are taking the state, the nation, perhaps even the world, by storm, the phenomenon is relatively new to Cook County. There are at least two Little Free Libraries in the planning stage or under construction in Grand Marais. However, Lynn Arnold’s Little Free Library at her home at 103 Third Avenue West in Grand Marais is already open for readers.

Arnold was delighted to help spread the idea of Little Free Libraries. She noted that Little Free Libraries are cropping up everywhere. They are spots where people are invited to take a book, return a book—without a library card, limit to how long the book can be kept, or even a requirement to return it at all.

It is hoped that as people take a book from one Little Free Library, they will leave it at another, at any of the hundreds of Little Free Libraries across the state.

Little Free Libraries range from simple boxes containing books to elaborate little structures, like the original Little Free Library, built as a model of an old one-room schoolhouse in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009. There are now an estimated 15,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide.

Arnold’s Little Free Library is a whimsical little structure—a colorful purple, orange and green box atop of sturdy cedar-sided post. It has Plexiglas sides to protect the books inside from the weather and to make the books visible to passersby. Her Little Free Library contractor, Matt Geretschlaeger of Grand Marais, added a unique woodwork adornment and a solar light panel for her. “Matt did an incredible job,” said Arnold. “He’s very talented.”

"The Pie Place Cafe Cookbook: Food & Stories Seasoned by the North Shore" receives regional book award

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 4:11pm

In May, a number of regional authors were honored to receive a Northeastern Minnesota Book Award (NEMBA). Among the honorees was The Pie Place Cafe Cookbook: Food & Stories Seasoned by the North Shore by Kathy Rice of the popular local café.

The awards are given by the UMD Kathryn A. Martin Library, the Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers. Nominations were evaluated in each of five categories: fiction, poetry, general nonfiction, children's literature, or memoir and creative nonfiction.   Reading teams chose a winner and honorable mention in each category. The winner in each category received a $200 cash prize and a beveled glass award as well as 100 NEMBA book seals.

The Pie Place Café Cookbook won first place in the general nonfiction category. Author Kathy Rice attended the festivities, which began with a book fair and dessert reception in the Kirby Ballroom and continued with the awards presentation. The celebration featured speaker, journalist and author Cathy Wurzer, host of Morning Edition for MPR news.

"You writers are a gift to the Northland," Wurzer said. "Don't ever give up."

In the program describing the nominees, the reading team explains, “The Pie Place Cafe Cookbook: Food & Stories Seasoned by the North Shore shows how food can pull a community together and teach us about what matters in life. Inside, readers will find mouthwatering recipes and pictures alongside vignettes that may have you packing up to move up the North Shore. This is a book of hope in which you will learn to laugh through your tears, take a chance on strangers, and lend a helping hand to a neighbor.”

Weekend News Roundup for July 19

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 9:29am

Each week the WTIP news department puts together a roundup of the weeks top news stories. Closing the Duluth postal processing site may be under reconsideration. Regulators reconsider pipeline route changes. More mining permits allowed in Penokee Hills and wetland restoration continues at Zipline site. …all this and more in this week’s news.


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"Around the World in 80 Bouquets" at Schroeder Town Hall Saturday

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:42am

The Schroeder Town Hall will be the place for world travelers—or those who want to be world travelers!—to visit on Saturday, July 19 from 1 – 5 p.m. The West End Garden Club is offering Around the World in 80 Bouquets.

Admission is free. In addition to this “flying” show, lemonade, coffee and tea will be served, as well as the “world famous” cookies and bars backed fresh by Garden Club members.

Master Gardener Don Goodell will be on hand with a display featuring small scale gardening (bring the children), and to answer questions about gardening.

You don’t have to be a world-traveler—or a bridesmaid—to catch a bouquet at this wonderful West End show!

Stormwater plan postpones closure on Cedar Grove lot

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:41am

Paul James, co-owner of Cook County Towing, approached the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) in June 2014 with an offer to purchase a lot in the Cedar Grove Business Park (CGBP). At the July 8 meeting, James thought the sale would be completed. However, EDA Attorney Baiers Heeren said there was one more clause in the lot sale—James must complete a stormwater management plan and submit it to either the EDA or the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). “That is a step that must be taken before construction begins,” explained Heeren.

In June, James appeared before the EDA board with Realtor Tim Kennedy to make an offer on Lot 1, Block 8 in the business park. James made an offer of $25,000 for the lot, which had been listed at $45,000.

James gave a summary of his business, which he said consists of four rollback trucks, three front-line wreckers, three service trucks, a couple of plows and a skid steer.

James said in addition to himself and his wife Pam, Cook County Towing employs Jay Mesenbring, Brad Peterson, Lee Jahnke and Paul Olin as drivers.

James said Cook County Towing currently has an agreement with Grand Marais Motors to leave their tow trucks in the Grand Marais lot, but it slows down vehicle recovery to have to clear snow off of vehicles and warm them up. “Meanwhile, someone is stranded in the ditch,” James told the EDA in June.

Cook County Towing would like a building in Grand Marais to house its vehicles, he said. However, James said it would not be an income-generating operation, so they don’t have a lot to invest.

Kennedy pointed out that Cook County Towing would be making improvements to the lot and it would be added to the tax rolls.