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News and other information from Cook County

Highway 1 detour to continue to mid-October

Mon, 08/13/2012 - 4:02am

DULUTH, Minn. — MnDOT officials say the Highway 1 detour south of Ely, originally scheduled to be lifted August 15, will continue until mid-October. 
This is the second time the detour timeline has been extended due to the challenging terrain, equipment breakdowns and additional rock discovered in the project area, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
“The people who attended the meeting were very disappointed,” said Derek Fredrickson, MnDOT project engineer. “We know this project is causing people problems and we’ll continue to do everything we can to reopen Highway 1 as soon as possible.”
The Highway 1 project manager from KGM Contractors said there are about 30 pieces of heavy equipment on the project and their employees are working overtime. 
Detour route
Highway 1 will be closed between Forest Road 424/New Tomahawk Road and just north of Forest Road 553. Motorists are required to follow the posted detour.

For additional information about the project:

View more news from WTIP

History of Rendezvous Days continues August 10 - 12

Fri, 08/10/2012 - 3:57pm

The first Rendezvous of native Ojibwe, voyageurs, fur trade 
agents and company partners at Grand Portage was over 200 years ago. 
However, according to the Cook County News-Herald archives, the 
current version of Rendezvous Days—a mixture of activities at the 
historic fur depot and a traditional powwow, as well as more modern 
competitions—began just 50 years ago.  That tradition continues on 
Friday – Sunday, August 10 – 12.
A July 26, 1962 News-Herald article titled Grand Portage ‘All Set’ For 
First Rendezvous Days describes a two-day weekend event. The article 
notes that there will be voyageurs, traditional dancing, a bagpipe 
band from Canada, speakers, canoe racing and more.
Although there is some doubt about exactly when Rendezvous Days began—
some say Rendezvous has always taken place, just not as formally as it 
does now. But no matter when Rendezvous Days began, it has grown to 
one of the North Shore’s premiere events with something for everyone.
Visitors and tribal members are invited to the Grand Portage Powwow to 
see the dignified flag raising, grand entries and ceremonial dancing. 
There is delicious food for sale, such as Indian Tacos, Strawberry 
Shortcake, and more. Check out the beautiful crafts for sale and visit 
the Veterans Tent. And take a chance at the raffle with its $1,500 
grand prize.
At the Grand Portage National Monument, visitors can walk through 
history at the stockade and the encampment just outside the gate. 
There is lots to do—catch the 18th Century Puppets show; watch the 
Rugged and Dainty Voyageur Contests; listen—or join in—during the 18th 

EPA announces Ashland Superfund site clean-up

Fri, 08/10/2012 - 6:47am

WASHINGTON – Northern States Power Co. will begin cleanup of the Ashland/Northern States Power Lakefront Superfund Site in northwestern Wisconsin under a settlement with the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the EPA, the 40-acre site is located on the shore of Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior. It was used for various industrial purposes for more than a century. The EPA said that use resulted resulting in the release of volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, and semivolatile organic compounds, such as naphthalene.
Under the agreement, filed this week with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison, Northern States Power will design, construct and implement the cleanup plan for the on-land portion of the site. The on-land cleanup is expected to cost approximately $40 million. The federal government will also require additional cleanup of sediments in Chequamegon Bay. The EPA said it expects that Northern States Power and any other responsible parties will perform the rest of the cleanup. That work is not part of the agreement filed with the Court.
The agreement also requires Northern States Power to transfer approximately 990 acres of land along the Iron River to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and 400 acres within the reservation of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians to the Bad River tribe. These parcels are worth about $1.9 million. They will be preserved by the state and the Bad River tribe to enhance natural resources in the area that have
been harmed by pollution from the site, such as fisheries in Chequamegon Bay and its rivers.

In addition, the state of Wisconsin will transfer 114 acres of land to the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. That land will also be managed to preserve natural resources.

For more than a century, the Ashland site has been home to various industrial uses, including sawmills, railroads, and a city wastewater treatment plant. The EPA says the primary source of pollution at the site was the manufactured gas plant operated by Northern States Power’s predecessor company between 1885 and 1947. The EPA says pollution from the manufactured gas plant contaminated both the on-land portion of the site and the sediment in the bay.

School District 166 considers improvements to industrial arts program

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 11:15am

At a July 19 meeting of the School District 166 school board, the board discussed how the CCHS industrial arts program could possibly benefit from the community center project. With the school planning to sell its west wing to the county for the construction of a community center, the school may have some capital to use for the recommended expansion.
Industrial technology teacher Sam West presented the school board with highlights of the middle and high school curriculum and what he thinks the department needs to prepare students adequately.
Cook County offers students training in woodworking, construction, welding, Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD), and Computer Numerical Control (CNC), which runs router, lathe, and mill equipment.
The current industrial technology area has a computer lab where students work on CADD and a general purpose room with a small welding enclave where they do everything else. 
West told the board that the existing layout is overcrowded and inefficient.
He said they lose time moving equipment and supplies in and out for various classes every day, and they are lacking needed storage space. More space and properly dedicated space means safer operation of machines, proper ventilation, and more kids working safely more of the time.
The department currently has 3,000 square feet, and West recommended adding an additional 3,000-5,000 square feet.
The industrial arts department was once much larger and had much more equipment before it was downsized when the school was expanded in 1997. 
School Board member Deb White said, “Let’s not build for today, let’s build for what we’re going to need in two years, in five years.”  With the community center project in the works, the opportunity to expand is here, she said.  “It’s not going to happen again.”

Cook County Senior Center offers August "Mystery Tour"

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 11:13am

During the July “Mystery Trip,” the Cook County Senior Center traveled north, up the Gunflint Trail. They enjoyed the view from Pincushion Lookout, visited and admired the beautiful new Hungry Jack Lodge and had a delicious lunch at Trail Center. Howard Hedstrom gave seniors a very educational and interesting tour of Hedstrom Lumber Mill.
Sound like fun? Seniors are invited to join the next Mystery Trip on Monday, August 13.  The cost is just $5 per person for transportation from the Senior Center. Lunch is at your own cost, ($10-$12 should be sufficient). If you guess where the Mystery Trip is going (clues available at the senior center), you win a free trip plus lunch on the Senior Center!

Tribal Council, County Board help fund vets' transportation needs

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 9:47am

Cook County is a long way from Veterans Administration medical facilities. The population of military veterans is aging, as well as increasing due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Getting veterans to their medical and related appointments can be difficult.
That’s where Cook County Veterans Services Officer Clarence “Clinker” Everson comes in. He makes sure the vets get to where they need to go. However, the state’s enhancement grant that helps with such transportation ran out in June.
The Cook County Board and the Grand Portage Reservation Tribal Council jumped into the gap to help veterans get that necessary transportation.
In an interview with WTIP’s Roger Linehan, the Veterans Service Officer tells what happened.

Attached file