Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Debate over restoration of walkway around Cook County Tennis Courts

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 5:12pm

At the July 16 county board meeting, commissioners discussed an overlooked consequence of the parking lot being built outside the new Cook County Community YMCA – the loss of accessibility to the public tennis courts.
The driveway leading to what will be a new parking lot above the tennis courts cut into the area around the north courts, and according to the architectural drawings, would require people to step down off a curb into the roadway to go from one set of courts to the other.  This would make accessibility very difficult for people with mobility problems who play or watch tennis. There are some people in the community who play wheelchair tennis.
At the previous county board meeting, Project Manager Wade Cole of ORB Management estimated that the cost of restoring a walkway and dealing with an erosion problem that was created when the area around the north courts was excavated would be about $15,000-20,000.  This week, the estimate had increased to $20,000-25,000. 
Cole said it had gotten more involved than what was previously discussed.  After consulting with several people with stakes in the project, such as Community Center Director Diane Booth and Cook County Tennis Association members, Cole said, the design had grown to include steps leading from the east-west walkway currently between the courts down to the parking lot, in addition to a handicap-accessible sidewalk leading down from the north end of the courts.
The parking lot has been built according to the architectural drawings created by JLG Architects, but no one noticed that it would cut into the area around the courts as much as it did.  Cole said JLG told him they did not know this would be an issue.

Minnesota has largest water trail system in the U.S.

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 5:09pm

Because of their flat hulls, canoes and kayaks can navigate just about any body of water, but did you know there are trails specifically designated for these types of activities?
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages the first and largest water trails system in the nation, which started 50 years ago. A variety of opportunities is available, ranging from placid rivers ideal for beginners to challenging whitewater rapids to sea kayaking the North Shore of Lake Superior. In fact, there is a state water trail within an hour of most homes in Minnesota.
The state has more than 4,500 miles of routes mapped and managed for canoeing, kayaking, boating and camping. There are 33 state water trails with a network of more than 1,400 public water accesses, campsites and rest areas. Remote camping on state water trails is generally free and non-reservable. There are also 34 state parks and recreation areas on state water trails where people can reserve a campsite for a fee.
Free maps, river level reports and other trip planning information can be found on the DNR’s website at

Minnesota breeding duck population rises

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 9:01am

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Despite a record late ice-out, spring waterfowl surveys show that Minnesota's breeding duck population has improved from last year.

The Department of Natural Resources estimates the state's breeding duck population at 683,000 compared with 469,000 last year. This year's estimate is 10 percent above the long-term average.

This year's Canada goose population is estimated at 250,000, considerably less than last year's 416,000. The DNR says cold temperatures and April snowfall combined with a late ice-out reduced nesting success. But DNR wildlife section chief Paul Telander says the goose population remains higher than managers want it to be.

So Minnesota will hold its first-ever August Canada goose season from August 10th through 25th in a special zone in west-central Minnesota.

North Shore Hospital offers "Peace of Mind Project"

Sun, 07/21/2013 - 1:58pm

People who want to keep better tabs on their elderly loved ones in Cook County now have an Internet tool made available through a grant-funded program called the Peace of Mind Project.  It is a partnership among Boreal Access, the North Shore Health Care Foundation, Cook County Public Health & Human Services, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, and Cook County North Shore Hospital & Care Center.  On June 20, 2013, hospital social worker Hilja Iverson showed the hospital board the many ways a special computer program can help monitor the well-being of people in their homes.
The program involves installing computer equipment that can be linked to family members or caregivers elsewhere.  The cost is $100/month plus the cost of high-speed Internet, but a sliding fee scale is available.  It is a product of GrandCare Systems of Wisconsin, which develops technology that allows people to “age in place” by remaining in their own homes.
Available features include:
* A chime to remind a client to take his or her pills;
* Blood pressure, temperature, and weight monitoring;
* Motion detectors and door sensors that can alert family members in other locations and tell them when a front door or refrigerator door has been opened or when someone has been in the bathroom;
* Monitoring of the temperature inside a home;
* Sensors on bed mattresses that can be used to monitor restlessness or when someone has been lying down or getting up throughout the day or night;
* Skyping with family members or caregivers.
* User-friendly email;
* Brain-teasers that can track cognitive skills;
* Self-reporting of mood and physical condition (a client can answer questions about how they are feeling that day in comparison to other days, for example);
* Reports on whether and when a medication box has been opened;

Vet Dog collaboration continues

Sun, 07/21/2013 - 6:39am

From World War II to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cook County, is home to almost 700 veterans. Although the residents of Grand Marais honor their veterans in a variety of ways, some wanted to do more. About a year ago, the First Congregational United Church of Christ and American Legion Post 413 joined forces to raise money for America’s VetDogs, to support its mission to provide guide and service dogs for disabled veterans of all eras, whether or not their disabilities are combat related.

The collaboration, which was introduced by Pastor EvaLyn Carlson of the First Congregational Church was also a way to bring together people with different theological, political, and social beliefs. No matter what their beliefs about the wars, Carlson knew that everyone could agree that veterans returning home with life-changing injuries needed their support.

The community response was overwhelming and in April the church and legion were able to send a check for $10,000 to America’s VetDogs. All involved were pleased to learn that a Minnesota veteran, Tony Larson of St. Cloud was able to obtain his service dog Tomme partly because of the Cook County contribution. During his deployment to Iraq, a truck he was in was hit by an IED.  Larson lost his right leg below the knee and suffered mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the explosion.

Larson was teamed with service dog Tomme. Tomme provides balance and stability support and retrieval. For instance, when Larson removes his prosthetic leg at the end of the day, Tomme can act as a brace if Larson needs it. The dog can also bring dropped items if Larson has difficulty reaching down to get them.

The Odd Couple (female version) opens tonight at Arrowhead Center for the Arts

Fri, 07/19/2013 - 11:07am

The Grand Marais Playhouse will open the Grand Marais Summer Theater Festival on July 19 with the production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (Female version). The cast includes Kerri Bilben, Yvonne Block, Julie Fredlund, Jane Gellner, Gerry Grant, Erin Larsen Jack Nickolay and Jason Winters. The Odd Couple (Female Version) by Neil Simon runs July 19, 21, 25, 27, Aug. 2, 4, 8 and 10. Thursday - Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.
This hilarious comedy by one of America’s funniest playwrights. Samuel French publishers offers this description: Unger and Madison are at it again! Florence Unger and Olive Madison, that is, in Neil Simon's hilarious contemporary comic classic: the female version of The Odd Couple. Instead of the poker party that begins the original version, Ms. Madison has invited the girls over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. The Pidgeon sisters have been replaced by the two Constanzuela brothers. But the hilarity remains the same.
Tickets for summer festival productions are $20 adults, $10 students (18 and under). Save $5 when you buy a ticket to both shows! Available in advance at or at the door one hour before the performance.