Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

EPA to fund Lake Superior mercury study -- babies at risk

Thu, 10/04/2012 - 6:47am

The federal government will investigate why infants born around Lake Superior have sometimes unhealthy levels of mercury in their blood, especially those along Minnesota's north shore.

The StarTribune yesterday reported the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce a $1.4 million grant to the Minnesota Department of Health to study mercury exposure among tribal communities and recreational anglers, both of whom rely on fish in their diet. Details will be announced this afternoon.

The research project follows a 2011 study that found one in 10 babies along Minnesota's North Shore are born with unhealthy levels of mercury in their bodies. The analysis of blood from 1,465 infants from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, was the first to prove that babies, who are most susceptible to the toxin, carried sometimes very high concentrations of it.

Those in Minnesota were more likely to have higher levels than their counterparts in Wisconsin and Michigan, most likely because their mothers ate more fish, the primary source of mercury in people. The toxin comes from coal fired plants around the world, and is deposited from air pollution. Over time, it accumulates in the bodies of fish.

Babies born in the summer months, when local fish consumption is highest, had more mercury than those born in winter, state officials said.

The EPA has established a health standard for women of childbearing age and infants of 5.8 millionths of a gram per liter of blood. Anything above that is considered unhealthy, though would not necessarily result in neurological problems.

North Shore Health Care Golf Tournament is Oct. 7

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 2:04pm

The 17th Annual North Shore Health Care Golf Tournament to benefit health care in Cook County is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7, when the fall colors are at their peak.
Come and play at one of Minnesota’s most scenic golf courses, Superior National at Lutsen.  Set between the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior, Superior National’s 27 holes always provide beautiful scenery and challenging tournament golf.  The format will be a four-person team scramble.  Following the event there will be a 19th hole reception, sponsored each year by Lutsen Resort. 
All of the proceeds from this tournament go to the North Shore Health Care Foundation to be used as the primary funding source for the grants given by the foundation, all of which benefit health care for everyone who lives, works and visits in Cook County.
Golfer registrations are still being accepted at  You do not need to have a full foursome to register and the registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and entrance to the 19th hole reception.

People in northern Minnesota may notice smoke drift from northwest fires

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 11:40am

Northern Minnesota residents may notice smoke in the sky as it drifts from active northwestern Minnesota fires, according to a report Wednesday from the Minnesota Incident Command System. 

As of about 1 PM, Wednesday, smoke was reported drifting through the upper Gunflint Trail area in Cook County. A check with the Cook County Sheriff's Department indicated that no fires have been reported in northern Cook County.

Residents in the Bemidji, Deer River and Grand Rapids, Orr, Cook, Virginia, Hibbing, Tower and into Canada have reported seeing smoke in the sky for much of Wednesday. The smoke is being carried by strong winds out of the northwest and is being held close to the ground by inversion. The inversion is expected to lift by mid-day, but residents across northern Minnesota may continue to see some smoke until the fires are extinguished.

MNICS reports the fire danger remains extreme to very high for much of Minnesota and residents are urged to obey all fire restrictions.  Persons who witness an actual fire should report it immediately by calling  911.

WDSE Cooks seeking recipes for "B" is for bars

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 9:01am

Dripping with caramel and chocolate; sprinkled with nuts and thick with fudge; how about elegant layers of fruit and cream?  Who can resist a delicious, homemade bar?
It is official. The next, all new, WDSE Cooks marathon will be “B” is for Bars!  If you have great bar recipes, will you share your favorites?  You may also become famous if you are called in to the studio to prepare your best on WDSE Cooks “B” is for Bars!
North Shore cooks have been featured on the program in the past. We’ve had the fun of seeing Paulette Anholm, Chelsea Lueck, Donna Lunke, Joan Farnam, Lavonne Anderson, Bob Swanson, Cathy Peterson and Lyn Singleton!
Send your favorite bars recipes to WDSE•WRPT, 632 Niagara Court, Duluth MN 55811.
Everyone who sends in recipes will get a gift. Then the recipes will be put into the newest cookbook “B” is for Bars! Recipes are due by October 10.

Tofte citizens voice concern over cell phone tower

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 8:57am

As the Cook County Planning Commission gets closer to considering a request for a cell phone tower in Tofte, some residents are voicing concerns.
On September 13, 2012, County Commissioner Bruce Martinson reported to the Tofte Township Board that Planning & Zoning Administrator Bill Lane had received five letters opposing the cell phone tower proposed for Tofte on property the Futterer family is selling to the township.
Supervisor James said some objections might be more about the height of the tower than about its existence in Tofte.  The tower will be no more than 190 feet.
Resident Marsha Hansen expressed a concern that property values would go down for residences near the tower.  “It’s not fair to have your property suddenly go down in value because of a tower.”  Her husband Gary said that having a tower built near a home would be like having an airport built in the back yard.  Supervisor King said a tower might be considered an asset to many people considering moving here. 
Gary Hansen said he objected to the sight of a tower in Tofte.  Supervisor James said cell towers must have no obstructions between them in order to work.  Signals from the proposed tower would reach towers in both Lutsen and Schroeder.  A less conspicuous “stealth” tower was considered originally, but it would not be as tall, would likely allow fewer users to share a high position where reception is best, and would not be as profitable.  The current location is the only functional location they have been able to find, he said.
Jerry Gervais said cell phone coverage is a safety issue.  Rescue Chief Louise Trachta said the fire and rescue departments would greatly benefit from a tall tower.  “There’s a void in back [inland] that needs to be taken care of,” she said.  “It’s needed.”

Big lake level lower in Sept.

Wed, 10/03/2012 - 5:59am

The level of Lake Superior went down four inches in September, a month the lake usually drops only one inch

.The International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Tuesday that Lake Superior now sits 15 inches below its long-term average for Oct. 1 and four inches below the level at this time last year.

The Duluth News-Tribune notes that rainfall for the entire Lake Superior basin was well below normal in September, a trend that has continued since July.