Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Grand Marais Playhouse presents Monroe Crossing Sept. 22

Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:47am

Grand Marais Playhouse will hold a special event at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts, welcoming Monroe Crossing, with Bump and Barbara Jean as opening act, to the stage.
Advance tickets are available online at Advance tickets are $17 for adults, $7 for students. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults, $10 students.
Monroe Crossing dazzles audiences with an electrifying blend of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and heartfelt originals. Their airtight harmonies, razor-sharp arrangements, and onstage rapport make them audience favorites across the United States and Canada.

Tax classification for eight lodging properties changing

Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:45am

A number of Cook County lodging establishments are going to be paying a lot more in property taxes next year than they have been paying in recent years. 
Eight properties will now be classified as commercial rather than seasonal resorts after a review by County Assessor/Land Commissioner Mary Black and Larry Austin, Cook County’s Minnesota Department of Revenue property tax compliance officer.
There is a somewhat complicated MN statute explaining what it takes to be classified as a seasonal resort.  It boils down to an either/or statement that Cook County was interpreting one way and the state another.
Assessor Black said that she had interpreted the law to be saying that a lodging establishment could be designated a seasonal resort if it received 20 percent of its income from charges related to providing recreational activities OR have 60 percent of their bookings be for at least two consecutive nights.  However, the state is requiring all seasonal resorts to prove that 20 percent of their income came from charges related to providing recreational activities, something a lot of them will have difficulty doing, Black said.
As an example of the effects of the potential increase—with the seasonal resort designation in 2011, Best Western Superior Inn and Suites in Grand Marais paid $38,818. Without the seasonal resort designation in 2012, Best Western would have to pay $96,526.
Assessor Black resigned from her position to pursue her health and fitness business and her last day was September 14.  She said the seasonal resort issue would be something the new assessor would be dealing with significantly, and she expected the Department of Revenue to work very closely with the new assessor on it.

Forest Service reopens some BWCAW routes, others remain closed

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:02pm

Due to successful suppression of the Parley Lake and Hoist Bay wildfires by fire crews over the weekend, the US Forest Service announced Monday evening that it has re-opened the areas adjacent to these two fires inside the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness which had been closed for public safety.

The route along the US/Canada border and area surrounding Ottertrack, Knife, and adjacent lakes will remain closed while the Emerald Lake/Fort Frances #59 continues to actively burn on the Canadian side of the border. The details and a map are on the Superior National Forest Website.

Rain predicted for the area did not materialize. Conditions continue dry across the Forest and fire danger remains very high. Campfires continue to be restricted to the hours between 7 pm and midnight across the entire BWCAW. Everyone is asked to be extremely careful with all fire outdoors due to the dry conditions.

The Fort Frances #59/Emerald Lake Fire, between Knife Lake and Emerald Lake, is estimated at 525 acres, and continues to actively burn on the Canadian side of the border. Forest Service crews are monitoring this fire and are prepared to actively support Canadian fire crews as needed.

The Parley Lake was discovered on September 12 and had burned a total of 35 acres along the Beartrap River before 100% containment early evening on 9/16/12. Fire crews will continue to reinforce fire line and patrol the fire.

The Hoist Bay Fire burned 2 1/2 acres between Hoist and Back Bay of Basswood Lake before being declared out yesterday afternoon. Details regarding closures, restrictions and conditions on the Superior National Forest, are available at:

Information regarding fire conditions and restrictions across Minnesota, can be found the Minnesota Interagency Fire Information website at:  

International Day of Peace to be celebrated locally Sept. 21

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:56pm

The International Day of Peace is September 21. A unique observance will be held in Grand Marais on this special day. Community members are invited to gather at Drury Lane books at 2 p.m. on September 21 for Scarves of Peace—an event that will include fibres, food, music, fun—and peace.
At the event, scarves will be created by braiding fibres brought by participants. Why scarves? Organizer Karen Lohn, author of Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World, explains, “Perhaps nothing demonstrates respectful relationships better than a scarf that is created by the hands of one, then draped and worn for warmth and adornment by another.”
Participants in this International Day of Peace can take part by sending fibres in 5-yard lengths (yarn, ribbons, strips of fabric—anything appropriate for braiding) that have been “blessed with your wishes for peace.” The fibres can be mailed to Karen Lohn, PO Box 1181, Grand Marais, MN 55604.
Donors of the fibres—and other community members—are then invited to come to the Scarves of Peace event to braid the fibres—together. Lohn reassures anyone thinking of attending that all are welcome. “Anyone can do this,” Lohn said. “No talent, experience, or expertise in anything is required.”
Finished scarves will be sent to world leaders with the message to “remember the human longing for respectful relationships at all levels.” Scarves will also be sent to places of turmoil and conflict, natural disaster or poverty to bring comfort and to stand in solidarity with the people there.

EDA seeks applicants for commercial rehab project assistance

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:35pm

The Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority’s housing and redevelopment program obtained funding to help two local businesses in 2012—The Garage and the Cook County Senior Center. The EDA, through the Grand Marais Downtown Redevelopment Program, continues to seek funding for similar projects. Their work has been successful and some funding is available for business rehab projects in 2013. The Grand Marais Downtown Redevelopment Program is now accepting applications for future projects.
The EDA’s commercial rehab coordinator Steve Grabko of Community Fundraising Solutions (CFS) said, “Because of high business owner interest in the program, additional grant funding has been secured for four more projects, or up to 70 percent or $38,500 per project,” said Grabko.
Nancy Grabko of CFS explained, “Our Grand Marais Downtown Redevelopment Program financial partners include the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developments Small City Development Program, the Iron Range Resource Agencies Commercial Rehabilitation Program, the City of Grand Marais Storefront Loan Program and the Cook County Revolving Loan Fund Program. As a result of this partnership, grants and low interest loans will be made available to business owners wishing to reinvest in the physical assets of their business property.”
Grabko encouraged business owners to contact the EDA housing office for information at (218) 398-2473 or Nancy Grabko at (218) 398-7626.
Funds are limited. Applications are available at City Hall. All applications are due by Monday October 1.

Small fire near Grand Marais extinguished

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:32am

The one-tenth acre Little Devil Fire near Grand Marais and outside the BWCAW was spotted on Saturday and quickly extinguished. The Forest Service says it remains on patrol status. Other small fires were also reported, including one northeast of Isabella near Lake Polly and Windy Lake.

Various closures are in effect due to the Parley and Hoist Bay fires, as well as the Canadian Emerald Lake Fire near Knife Lake. Fire restrictions remain in effect in the Boundary Waters. Campfires are allowed only between 7 p.m. and midnight.

Wind direction is expected to be from northwest today, pushing smoke from these fires toward populated areas and increasing the potential for noticeable smell of smoke, especially on the upper Gunflint Trail. Until the recent rainfall, conditions remained dry and fire danger is very high across the Forest. Assessment of the rain impact will be made today.

The Fort Francis 59/Emerald Lake Fire between Knife Lake and Emerald Lake is estimated at 525 acres and continues to be active. The fire remains on the Quetico side and a Canadian fire crew is on the scene. Forest Service Crews are monitoring this fire and are prepared to actively support Canadian fire crew as needed.

The Minnesota Incident Command Center is asking civilian pilots to voluntarily stay 5 miles and 5,000 feet from fires so airborne firefighting craft have clear air space.