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News and other information from Cook County

Criminal case against Cook County Attorney can proceed to trial

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 5:59pm

The criminal case against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell can proceed to trial, a judge ruled Friday.  According to the Duluth News Tribune, Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke denied a defense motion to toss out a grand jury’s indictment of Scannell on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and he ordered the parties to schedule a jury trial.
Scannell’s lawyer argued at a hearing last month that the prosecutor’s relationship with a 17-year-old girl was not illegal because he was not in a position of authority over her at the time of the alleged sexual contact. Scannell has been described as having been a family friend, coach, instructor and adviser to the girl over the years.
In a seven-page memorandum to his order, Floerke wrote that evidence presented to a Duluth grand jury in October sufficiently established probable cause to charge Scannell.
“The grand jury transcript shows that Defendant was in a position of authority at many different times in (the girl’s) life,” Floerke wrote. “It is less clear how much of a position of authority he was in with regard to (her) in August 2012. However, the legislature expanded the protection of potentially vulnerable minors by removing the requirement that the accused had to actually use their position of authority to commit the sexual act.”

Floerke also rejected the defense’s argument that special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger erred in the grand jury hearing by introducing a harassment order filed against Scannell by the girl’s parents in December 2012. The document served as necessary background information because it was the “trigger for the investigation,” Floerke wrote.

Heffelfinger commended the judge’s ruling Friday and said he is preparing for the case to go to trial.
“I’m very pleased with the judge’s order,” he said. “I think he did a nice job of summarizing the law and summarizing the facts as they were presented to grand jury related to Mr. Scannell’s position of authority over (the) victim.”
Heffelfinger said the case probably won’t be ready for trial until after Memorial Day.

County Attorney Scannell indictment stands, case to go to trial

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 5:50pm
County Attorney Tim Scannell

After hearing arguments from defense and prosecution attorneys on March 27, St. Louis County District Court Judge Shaun Floerke said that he will make a ruling by April 11, 2014 as to whether there was probable cause for the grand jury indictment of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell on two felony charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. This afternoon, Floerke issued his decision—the indictment stands and the matter will proceed to trial.

Scannell, who has been on a medical leave of absence since October 15, 2013, was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor by a grand jury convened in Duluth on October 22, 2013. He first came under public scrutiny on December 4, 2012, after a local family asked for and received a harassment restraining order that called for him to refrain from having any contact with their 17-year-old daughter.

At the hearing, Cook County Special Prosecutor Thomas B. Heffelfinger argued that Scannell had intentionally engaged in sexual contact with the minor victim, who was, “at least 16 but under the age of 18 years of age,” and that Scannell was “more than 48 months older than the minor victim, and the defendant was in a position of authority over the minor victim.”

The age of consent in Minnesota is 16, but prosecutors can bring charges in special circumstances where the victim is younger than 18 and the adult is more than four years older.

Joseph Tamburino of Caplan & Tamburino, Scannell’s attorney, acknowledged that Scannell had been a family friend and a former tennis coach of the girl. However, he argued that any position of authority Scannell had over the teen ended months before the alleged sexual contact. Tamburino said a position of authority had to exist at the time of the acts, which he argued, did not exist in August 2012.

Prom Dress Swap is May 3 at Community Center

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:05pm

Cook County High School Prom is May 3. Got your dancing shoes ready but can’t afford a prom dress? Courtney Quaife is setting up a Prom Dress Swap that will take place Saturday, April 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais.

“Come and swap a dress for a dress, or if you don’t have a dress to swap, make a small donation and it’s yours,” said Quaife.

“No one will be turned down for the inability to pay for a dress,” she said.

Anyone with a former prom dress that they would like to donate is encouraged to do so.

“We will take donations or swap a dress for a gift card from a local businesses. All dresses are welcome. We are also taking costume jewelry and shoes. But please, only items that are in good shape,” said Quaife.

Anyone with a dress or dresses that they would like to donate, please contact Quaife at 218-370-1225.

“We would like to get a collection going before the event so there are some dresses to start off with,” Quaife said.

Fourth Annual Fingerstyle Masters Concert at Bluefin Bay April 12

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 5:02pm

Gordon Thorne of Finland Minnesota is excited to be hosting the Fourth Annual Fingerstyle Masters Concert at Bluefin Bay in Tofte on Saturday April 12. All proceeds from the event go to benefit WTIP North Shore Community Radio.

Fingerstyle guitar is the playing of an acoustic guitar without the use of a guitar pick.

Thorne, who himself is a very accomplished performer throughout northern Minnesota and Wisconsin will be showcasing the talents of Phil Heywood and Eric Lugosch. “These are two ultimate masters of their craft,” says Thorne adding that, “These guys are renowned teachers and players.”

Eric Lugosch has played guitar around the world and makes his home base in Chicago, Illinois where he teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music. As a former National Fingerpicking Champion he has most recently toured in Japan, Hungary, Germany and Italy. He combines his technical know-how with musical expressiveness to perform Ragtime, Blues, R&B and Jazz.

Phil Heywood of Minneapolis teaches and has performed locally and regionally since the mid 1980s and has appeared on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion.

Even though Lugosch and Heywood have been friends for over 30 years, this will mark the first time that they have been able to perform together.

Thorne hopes to create an environment in Cook County where instruction can take place and be more than just concerts and bar gigs for local musicians. Saturday morning will begin with two different guitar workshops presented by Lugosch and Heywood. The weekend events will actually kick off Friday night with an informal gathering where Thorne will play along with some of the participants there for the next day’s workshops.

Gypsy moth quarantine balance found

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:20am

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Cook County Commissioners, Howard Hedstrom of Hedstrom Lumber provided an update on the planned gypsy moth quarantine and its impact on the wood products industry in Cook County.

On the whole, Hedstrom offered positive news and described an agreement being negotiated through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

As originally proposed, the quarantine, which will govern the transport, storage and utilization of wood in the mill yard, would have severely restricted marketability of forest products out of Cook County.

Accommodations are also being made for wood products coming out of Cook and Lake Counties which move to areas not under quarantine. These products will have to be transported by loggers or shippers who have a compliance agreement in place with the Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service. Obtaining that compliance agreement will require training which will likely be incorporated into existing programs of logger education.

In Hedstrom’s view, the quarantine has the potential to negatively impact tourism through fear induced by the term “quarantine”. In an effort to offset this, a program of public education designed to elevate the public’s understanding of the gypsy moth problem is planned.

Hedstrom also discussed the impact of the quarantine on his mill’s production of bark for use as landscaping mulch. Investigations conducted by the mill suggest that viable gypsy moth egg cases do not survive grinding and processing of the bark. If studies conducted by Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirm this, marketing of the bark in the Twin Cities area should be able to proceed as normal. Hedstrom Mill is assisting the state in this effort as a test site.

Grand Marais Art Colony hosts third Artist-in-Residence

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:00am

The Grand Marais Art Colony will host its third annual Artist-in-Residence, Ginny Sims, from April 1-13.

Sims, originally from Little Rock, Ark., is a Minnesota-based artist and graduate of the University of Minnesota MFA program. She is a recipient of the Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant (2013) and teaches at the Northern Clay Center. Sims is also co-founder of the Powderhorn Kitchen in Minneapolis, an online store that makes available handmade goods for the kitchen.

Sims will be teaching a workshop entitled Ordinary Objects and Memories: Drawing the Story of Things on Saturday, April 12 in the Art Colony’s Founders Hall from 1 – 3 p.m.

Through demonstration and conversation, Sims will introduce participants to her artistic process, which involves creating large-scale drawings inspired by ordinary domestic objects, memories, and fictional characters. Sims will then discuss the technical side of Majolica, which she uses to transpose her drawings onto ceramic pots.

The cost is just $5. Advanced registration required, please contact the Art Colony to sign up by Thursday, April 10.

The Artist-in-Residence program provides established artist(s) with access to the Art Colony’s studio spaces to expand and explore their creativity. Previous artists were Hazel Belvo in 2012 and Dan and Lee Ross in 2013.

For more information, contact the Grand Marais Art Colony at (218) 387-2737.