Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

North Shore Dragon Boat Festival starts with Parade of Teams July 25

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:27am

Ainslie Kincross, executive director for the North Shore Dragon Boat Festival, is excited about some of the new changes to the 2014 festival.

“We have more of a family emphasis this year,” said Kincross. “We would like to get more people in a dragon boat. Even the day of the event, people can still sign up. It’s much more participatory than in the past.”

“Fun equals people on the water,” said Greg Wright, executive director of the North House Folk School and one of the Dragon Boat Festival board members.

In its 11th year, the Dragon Boat Festival has become a stalwart event for Grand Marais and a strong fundraiser for three Cook County non-profits: WTIP Radio, the North Shore Health Care Foundation and the North House Folk School.

The three-day festivities run from July 25-27 and include a wide array of fun filled activities for everyone.

Visit the websit at for a complete schedule.

City Council moves forward with library rain garden project

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:26am

In an effort to curb flooding problems on the north side of the Grand Marais Public Library, city councilors moved forward with plans to design and construct a 570-square-foot rain garden in front of the building at their July 9 meeting.

City Administrator Mike Roth explained that in times of extreme rainfall, the water tends to pool behind the building. He said by improving the ditching on the east side of the library and creating a pathway for the water, the problem should be somewhat alleviated. However, Roth cautioned, the rain garden is not designed for a “large-scale event” and will help–-but not solve–-the problem.

Councilors reviewed a drawing prepared by the Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District of the proposed rain garden.

Although the city council elected to proceed with the project, final design work has yet to be done, along with the task of finding a steward to take care of the garden upon completion.

Mayor Larry Carlson asked Roth about the garden’s maintenance and cost, and Roth said the city and Soil & Water would pay for the construction, but it is imperative that a steward be enlisted for upkeep, as past experiences with rain gardens have shown that time and attention are directly proportional to attractiveness.

Councilor Tim Kennedy agreed, stating that a well cared-for rain garden, such as the one on West First Street near the library, is quite attractive, while a nearby one off the highway looks like a “bunch of brush.”

If a caretaker cannot be found, Roth said the rain garden could be as simple as a grassy depression that the city crews mow with the rest of the lawn. So at this point, Roth said it is not known what the garden will look like.

Teenage girl testifies in county attorney trial

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 8:51am

A teenage girl has testified in the trial of a northern Minnesota prosecutor accused of sexual misconduct.

The Associated Press reports witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell in St. Louis County Court. The 47-year-old is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with the girl.
The 19-year-old girl testified that Scannell kissed and sexually touched her in 2012, when she was 17.

WTIP’s Martha Marnocha reports the girl described him as a "father-figure" and a "mentor, helping her with a range of aspects” in her life. Her mother told jurors Scannell had been a family friend for 10 years and that she and her husband had been worried about Scannell’s “extreme interest” in the girl even before the relationship became known.

The young woman spent about three hours on the witness stand, fielding questions from special prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger about the nature of her relationship with Scannell. Judge Shaun Floerke sent jurors home at 5 p.m., putting cross-examination on hold until this morning.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino told jurors that Scannell would take the stand in his own defense.

Because the age of consent in Minnesota is 16 for most purposes, the prosecution must show that Scannell was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of their physical relationship in order to prove that a crime was committed.
The trial is scheduled to conclude by the end of the week.


eBook workshop at the Grand Marais Public Library, July 23

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:53am

E-books have not yet made libraries obsolete, but they can be handy.
WTIP's Matthew Brown spoke with Steve Harsin, director of the Grand Marais Public Library, and Bob Pranis, broadband commission member and library liason.

The library hosts a workshop on eBook readers on Wednesday, July 23, at 6:30 pm. Bob Pranis will discuss how reading technology is evolving, the advantages of eBooks, how to get the most from eBook devices, how to download books to e- readers, and considerations in choosing the right device. Those with all types of readers, and at all levels of experience and ability, are welcome. No advance sign-up is necessary.


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Election signs not allowed in road right of way

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:01am

Hoping they would be noticed, local politicians have been busy putting their “Vote for me” signs up in the right-of-way near homes and road entrances. And it’s worked!

Unfortunately the County’s Auditor’s office received a complaint about illegally placed signs, and the matter was turned over to the Cook County Attorney’s office.

Acting Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken recently sent letters to the candidates telling them to remove signs that have been mistakenly placed in the right-of-way.

In an email to the paper, Hicken cited the county statute concerning where signs can—or cannot—be placed.

 “All candidates are required to abide by chapter 211B, Fair Campaign Practices, in general, and were provided with these statutes in the 2014 Campaign Manual distributed to candidates by the County Auditor.

“While other laws and rules may also may be applicable, two that people certainly need to know about as they relate to campaign signs are the Cook County Sign Ordinance (available at under “Doing Business”) and Minnesota Statutes section 160.2715 (Right-of-Way Use, Misdemeanors).

Hicken said signs placed within the right of way for Highway 61 or within the right of way for any other public road or highway are placed in violation of the Cook County Sign Ordinance and Minnesota statutes.

Erecting or maintaining a sign in violation of county ordinance is a petty misdemeanor and violation of the state law is a misdemeanor.

Higher Ed offers Guest Lecture Series on Grand Marais and the American Fur Company

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:00am

The next installment of the Guest Lecture Series, “Most of everything you think about early Grand Marais is well -- wrong: the American Fur Company in the 1820s,” will be presented at 7 p.m. July 22 at Cook County Higher Ed.

The presenter will be Tim Cochrane, superintendent of the Grand Portage National Monument. He is also a researcher and writer who particularly enjoys re-discovering unknown or forgotten historical topics on the North Shore and Isle Royale.

Cochrane is currently searching for hard to find information on the American Fur Company's trading operation at Grand Marais in the 1820s and their

attempts at trade with Ojibwe, such as with the leader or ogimaa L'Espagnol. He enjoys the frequent surprises that inevitably happen when finding and synthesizing a record from the often fragile sources –most often journals and letters. He has published a book, “Minong: The Good Place – Ojibwe and Isle Royale.”

The Guest Lecture series is offered to the community free, although donations are appreciated. The series is sponsored by the Grand Marais State Bank, the Lake Superior Trading Post, Drury Lane Books, George F. Maruska Ltd., Mike's Holiday, White Pine North, Como Oil & Propane, Sawbill Outfitters, Beth's Fudge and Gifts, and Johnson's Foods.

The lectures are held at Cook County Higher Education's North Shore Campus, 300 W. 3rd St., Grand Marais.

For more information contact Cook County Higher Education at