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News and other information from Cook County

South Fowl snowmobile trail litigation to continue

Sun, 02/02/2014 - 2:22pm

At the Tuesday, January 21, 2014 County Board meeting Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken gave an update on the South Fowl snowmobile trail lawsuit in which the county, along with Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS) of Ely and the Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (ACMU), are interveners. The county and the non-profit organizations have aligned themselves with the U.S. Forest Service in the lawsuit that followed the Forest Service’s plan to construct a 2.2-mile snowmobile trail between McFarland and South Fowl lakes.

Assistant County Attorney Hicken said she had corresponded with the county’s attorney in this matter, David Oberstar of Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith & Frederick of Duluth. Hicken explained that the plaintiffs who initiated in litigation in 2006—the Izaak Walton League of America, Inc., Wilderness Watch of Missoula, Montana, Sierra Club Northstar Chapter and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness—had submitted a request on August 30, 2013 to amend their original complaint.

The groups opposed to the snowmobile trail assert that the public was not given adequate opportunity to comment on the Forest Service’s “hybrid” or “adaptive management” proposal. The groups argue that then-Forest Service Superior National Forest Gunflint District Ranger Dennis Neitzke did not properly consider the impacts of his February 2006 decision to build “Alternative 2, North Route” with the caveat that if the trail was misused it would be closed and a different route would be constructed. 

Hicken said, “Essentially what occurred is the court allowed an amendment to be filed. Basically that restarts the litigation.”

Let your voice be heard in the political process at county precinct caucuses

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 9:09pm

Although political caucuses are examples of grassroots democracy at its best, relatively few citizens attend their precinct caucuses—perhaps because caucuses, although they have been part of the American democratic process since 1763, seem mysterious to those who have never participated. Organizers of local political parties encourage citizens to come out and learn more about this opportunity at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Just what is a precinct caucus? It’s simply a meeting of friends and neighbors, organized by Minnesota’s political parties where citizens can engage each other in a conversation about which candidates to support in the next general election and what public policy positions should be adopted as part of the party’s platform.

Who can attend a precinct caucus? Everyone! Precinct caucuses are open to the public and participation is encouraged by the political parties. In order to vote, offer resolutions or become a delegate at a precinct caucus, attendees must be eligible to vote in the next general election, live in the precinct, and be in general agreement with the principles of the political party. Although participants must be 18 years old, students are welcome and encouraged to come watch the process.

What do participants do at the caucus? Expect some healthy debate as citizens discuss public policy issues and pass resolutions to be offered as part of the political party’s platform. Attendees get to vote in a straw poll to see what the local party thinks of state and federal candidates. There are also actual elections—of the precinct officers, who are responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct, and delegates, who will represent the precinct at the political party’s county and state conventions. According to the Secretary of State, delegates influence candidates and policy positions the party ultimately endorses.

Weekend News Roundup for February 1

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 10:02am

Each week the WTIP news staff puts together a roundup of the news over the past five days. The current propane crisis and mining issues…all in this week’s news.


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Girl Scouts invite all girls to a pajama party Thursday, Feb. 6

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 8:37am

Girl Scout Troop 4077 is hosting an All Girls K-5 Pajama Party on Thursday, Feb. 6 at the Evangelical Free Church in Grand Marais.

Anyone can participate, even those not in Girl Scouts. The admission fee is one pair of unused pajamas, size 5-year-old to adult, boys’ or girls’.

Spaghetti and garlic bread will be provided, and there will also be Rice Krispie bars, popcorn, cutie Clementines and cheese sticks with a choice of milk or water.

There will be games such as Twister and limbo, crafting and face painting. The event will be held from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

The girls are welcome to wear their PJs to school. The donated pajamas will be taken to the Damiano Center in Duluth. Learn more about the Damiano Center at

For more information or to make a donation, call Christine Kunze at  (218) 370-8338 .

Local artists invited to take part in A'RT fundraiser

Sat, 02/01/2014 - 8:34am

Karen Neal of Hovland is encouraging local artists to participate in a fundraiser to benefit public art projects such as creation of a new wall mural in Grand Marais.

“I recently finished a 12-inch by 12-inch mosaic for the A’RT (Art ‘Round Town) fundraiser which will be held at the Johnson Heritage Post in Grand Marais from Feb. 14 through 17,” said Neal. “Proceeds will go to local public art projects, with emphasis this year on a fresh new mosaic on the west wall of Johnson’s grocery store created by students.”

Anyone with any artistic flair or mind set should consider making his or her own 12-inch by 12-inch piece to donate, said Neal. Each item will be sold for a $100 donation. All mediums are requested.

Artists may drop off their work at the Johnson Heritage Post between noon and 4 p.m. Feb. 8-10, or contact Ann Mershon by e-mail ( to make other arrangements. “If you enjoy making art or craft, give it a try. You don’t have to be a professional to participate in this,” Neal said.

Emerging Leaders Group brewing...

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 10:34am

Cook County Higher Education is hosting an ‘Emerging Leaders Group’ Coffee on Tuesday February 4th from 7:30 to 9am.  It's an informal gathering for anyone who wants to make a positive impact on the future of Cook County.  The first session will be lead by Tim and Beth Kennedy.  Tim is a participant in the Blandin Leadership Program.  Higher Ed is at 300 West 3rd Street in Grand Marais.   More information from 387-3411.  

WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke about the Emerging Leaders Group with Pat Campanero of the Small Business Development Center and Paula Sundet Wolf of Cook County Higher Education on North Shore Morning.



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