Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Strong winds to whip up Lake Superior

Fri, 06/21/2013 - 8:20am

The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning for the Northland waters of Lake Superior until noon Friday as powerful northeast winds in the wake of morning storms may gust to 60 knots.

Waves may quickly build to 12 to 18 feet before subsiding Friday afternoon.

Recreational boaters are advised to stay in port, or take shelter, until the winds subside.

Severed communications cable knocks WTIP off the air

Thu, 06/20/2013 - 7:16am
Just after 5 p.m., Wednesday, June 19, workers installing fiber optic cable along Highway 61 in West Grand Marais severed a communications cable.  Businesses in the vicinity lost phone and internet service for several hours.  WTIP North Shore Community Radio lost the ability to broadcast, and was off the air for nearly 12 hours.

View more news from WTIP

County discusses county administrator position with consultant

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 9:23am

On June 11, 2013, the county board passed a motion to enter into a contract (upon approval by the county attorney’s office) with Springsted, a public sector advisory firm, to help with the search process for a county administrator. 
The board had met by Skype (over the Internet) on June 7 with David Unmacht, senior vice president/director of organizational management & HR, to talk about how the process would go.
Unmacht had reviewed a job description Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Garry Gamble had compiled.  He said no one candidate would have all the qualifications they listed and that different candidates would have different strengths.  People who are good in finance, for example, are not always good in human resources (HR), he said.
Personality, management style, sensitivity to the county’s transition to having a county administrator, and understanding of local culture are all important considerations in evaluating candidates, Unmacht said.  Lots of people might be qualified, but not everyone would be a good fit.  He said he would help the county find the right fit.
Unmacht recommended that department heads be included in the process and have an opportunity to meet the candidates and give the board input.
How realistic is it that having an administrator would save the county money? Commissioner Garry Gamble asked.  Having an administrator will be like having a CEO of a company with a $17,000,000/year budget, Unmacht said.  A person in this position “should pay for him- or herself,” he said – county operations should improve when this is implemented for the first time.
Unmacht indicated that he hopes the county has a great candidate pool.  “I want the decision to be difficult,” he said.

New management, new name, for waste management company

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 9:20am

A casual conversation between friends last spring turned into a partnership when Barry Pederson and Dustin Hanson joined forces to purchase Pederson Disposal from Barry’s father, Ray “Punky” Pederson. The business officially changed hands on May 1.
With a fresh start came a new name: North Shore Waste Management. 
The business currently employees five people and the company’s routes run from Cascade River to Grand Portage and to the end of the Gunflint Trail.
“Our biggest expense is fuel,” said Hanson, noting his company sends about five trucks to the Duluth landfill in the winter and seven or eight trips in the summer.
Pederson and Hanson have known each other since kindergarten, and graduated from Cook County High School in 1998. Both headed off to college, but Pederson came home a couple of years later while Hanson moved from Duluth to the Twin Cities after taking a job with Upper Lakes Foods. After ten years he moved out of that job and bought a hotel, restaurant/bar in River Falls.
“I recently sold the hotel but kept the restaurant and bar,” said Hanson, who has a house in Grand Marais and in River Falls where his wife, Heidi and two kids Jacob, age 7, and Kaya, age 10, live.
“I’ve told the kids that they are future garbage men” Hanson said with a smile.
As far as the business, Pederson said, “We are interested in trying some new things. We’re positive and looking forward to the future.”
“We will be looking for feedback from the customers,” Hanson said. “We would like to make changes that will better help the customer and the business.”

New firehall buildings dedicated on Gunflint Trail

Tue, 06/18/2013 - 8:02am
Gunflint Trail Poplar Firehall complex

The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department held a grand opening celebration for the newly expanded and upgraded Poplar Firehall, Wednesday, June 12, 2013.  WTIP's Carah Thomas was there. (Click on link to WTIP North Shore Community Radio below to hear the report.)

The Gunflint Trail is a two-lane asphalt road originating in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and ending at Gull Lake,Minnesota. It is the only access to this major outdoor year-round wilderness recreation area.

The Fire District includes over 700 private and commercial property parcels and is surrounded by the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest. The main economic activity in this area is the resort and outfitting business, which attracts many overnight tourists throughout the year. Since 1992, the fire department has been responding to structure and wildland fires, medical emergencies, and search and rescue.

To receive the GTVFD Newsletter and Updates,  send an email to
Important dates:

"I can camp" program at Temperance River State Park on June 22

Mon, 06/17/2013 - 3:11pm

Families will learn all the skills they need to camp outdoors at a one-night “I Can Camp!” program on Saturday, June 22, at Temperance River State Park.
Experienced instructors from Conservation Corps Minnesota will teach participants basic camping and outdoor skills, including how to set up a tent, start a campfire and prepare simple and delicious meals. All camping equipment is provided (including tents, air mattresses and cook stoves). Participants just bring their own food and bedding (sleeping bags or blankets and pillows).
The “I Can Camp!” program fee is $40 for a tent that accommodates up to six people. A one-day vehicle pass will be included as part of the program fee or participants may buy a year-round Minnesota state parks permit for an additional $20.
Advance registration is required. To register, call 866-857-2757 daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more information, visit or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This program is part of an ongoing effort by the DNR Parks and Trails Division to connect people with the outdoors. The division also offers skill-building programs that introduce fishing, paddling, climbing and archery to beginners.