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News and other information from Cook County

Weekend News Roundup for February 4

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 10:09am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Grass carp in the Great lakes, protestors outside Rep. Nolan’s office, not much ice cover on Superior…all this and more in the week’s news.


Cleveland Cliffs burglary suspect found guilty

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 12:36pm

One of the people involved in a break-in and theft at Cliffs Mining in Schroeder in March 2016 has been found guilty in Cook County court.

On January 26, a jury in the Sixth District Court in Grand Marais found Madison Rose Vail, 23, of Lindstrom, Minnesota guilty of two counts of burglary, one count of criminal damage to property, and one count of receiving stolen property.

The charges against Vail stemmed from a report of trespassing by a Cleveland Cliffs staffer. Following that report, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office began surveillance of the property. On April 2, 2016 Sheriff Deputy Jesse Johnson saw two people in a van at the site. A search warrant was obtained and when the van was inspected, receipts were found from recycling centers for insulated wire, copper wire, and brass. Also found were hacksaws, headlamps and bolt cutters.

Vail and a companion, Alexander Gaiter Smith, 28, of St. Paul were arrested. A sentencing hearing for Vail will be held February 27. She could face up to 10 years incarceration and fines of up to $20,000.

Smith, who received similar charges, failed to appear at hearings in Cook County court in May, August and September 2016. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. If arrested, Smith will be held without chance of release on bail.

The former mining operation building has been shut down since 2001, but is monitored by Cleveland Cliffs staff.
A general manager for Cliffs Mining estimated the damage, which included areas where control panels were removed, wires stripped and walls graffitied. He estimated the damage to the property at “thousands of dollars.”

Public invited to open houses on Draft Environmental Impact for bringing more wolves to Isle Royale

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 5:15pm


Free help with tax preparation

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 5:06pm

Prague Pedalers coming to library

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 5:02pm

The Grand Marais Public Library has been a busy place this winter, bringing in music, art, sled dogs, and now the Prague Pedalers will present a slide show presentation of their trip by bicycle across Eastern Europe at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14.

 Who are the Prague Pedalers? On September 2, 2016, six intrepid Cook County bicyclists stuffed their bikes in boxes, packed up tents and sleeping bags, and flew to the Czech Republic to begin a six-week cycling and camping adventure. From Prague, the group biked along a network of dedicated bicycle trails and quiet roads through some of Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes, ending up in Budapest, Hungary in mid-October.

Local GOP to hold county convention

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 4:56pm

The Beargrease experience at Trail Center

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 1:18pm

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon wrapped up on Wednesday, February 1, but memories of the 2017 race live on. WTIP’s Rhonda Silence caught up with some of the folks involved in the race at the Trail Center checkpoint on Monday, January 30.

The Mid-distance race finishes at Trail Center and Marathon teams have a rest stop there, so it is a very busy place, with race fans and many volunteers standing by to cheer on incoming teams and to send them off.

Watching the sled dogs as they come in to Trail Center is exciting, some of them are still jumping around, wanting to pull some more as the musher checks in. Then, the dogs get some food or a chew bone and they curl up in their hay beds.

We hear from the mushers – and some of the dogs – in this feature. 


Ely Memorial High's remarkable 83-year-old cheerleader

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 12:08pm

Ely Memorial High School has only one cheerleader for their basketball team – but she is very special. WTIP’s Sherrie Lindskog learns more in this interview.



First February weekend will have easy-to-take weather

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 10:23am

The weather will slowly start to warm over the next few days, and there may be a little snow as well. Typical February. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson.


View more news from WTIP

Rep. Rob Ecklund: Budget, bonding and bipartisanship

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 9:13am

The Legislature is in full swing. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Rep. Rob Ecklund about working across the aisle important pending budget issues and hopefully a resolution to the stalled bonding bill.


Ryan Anderson wins 2017 Beargrease

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 12:16pm

At approximately 10 a.m. on Feb. 1, musher Ryan Anderson crossed the finish line to claim first place in the 2017 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Anderson is now a three time John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon champion and moved into the lead Wednesday morning as mushers headed down the final leg of the race toward the finish near Duluth.

Anderson was first to arrive at Billy's Bar in Rice Lake, just north of Duluth.

Following Anderson, musher Ryan Reddington came in second place. Reddington held the lead for most of the race, before dropping back to second early Wednesday morning.

In third place for this year’s Beargrease is defending and four-time champion Nathan Schroder. And in fourth place is Cook County resident Matthew Schmidt.

For a complete listing of the mid-distance and full marathon finishers, click here. 

As for this year’s marathon champion, Ryan Anderson, 35, was born and raised in a dog mushing family in the small community of Ray, Minn. According to his racing bio, Anderson has been around the sport of mushing since he was five years old and has been mushing competitively since the age of 10. He’s won the Beargrease three times as of Feb. 1, the UP 200 six times and had many other top finishes. In 2017 he will finally fulfill his ultimate goal of racing in the Iditarod. Also racing in the Iditarod this year will be Reddington and Schroder. The 2017 Iditarod starts on Saturday, March 4 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Congratulations to all the mushers in the 2017 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.

City and MnDOT host open house on proposed Highway 61 redesign

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 12:15pm

Representatives of the Minnesota Department of Transportation have visited Grand Marais several times in preparation for the reconstruction of Highway 61 through the city in 2019.

At a meeting two months ago, MnDOT unveiled a preliminary plan for the Highway 61 redesign through Grand Marais. Citizens in attendance gave feedback and suggestions for refinement.

MnDOT is returning Thursday, Feb. 2 with the latest version of the proposed highway design. To learn more, the public is invited to attend the open house at Grand Marais City Hall at 6 p.m. There will be a brief presentation and then MnDOT representatives and city staff will answer questions and again gather public comments.

These meetings are a continuation of the work begun in February 2016 when a MnDOT design team, including consultants CJ Fernandez and Jason Aune of Aune Fernandez Landscape Architects and Mike Fischer of LHB, Inc., shared concept designs. The city continues to collect community involvement, seeking feedback on things such as parking, safe crossings, street landscaping, and a walk/bike trail.

If you are unable to attend this meeting, the plans are available for viewing at City Hall anytime during normal business hours. A preliminary map can be seen here. 

Photo courtesy of Moving Matters

MNsure deadline extended to February 8

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 8:46am

MNsure enrollment has been extended to February 8 due to new legislation affecting premiums.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with MNsure Navigator Erin Watson .



Four sign up for Cook County Commissioner opening

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 10:52am

Staff report

Lutsen named Best Ski Hill in the Midwest

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 10:37am