Around Cook County
The School District 166 school board deliberated at length before deciding where to set the levy at its last meeting of the year on December 20. Any tax increases would be hard for residents, Deb White said to her colleagues on the school board.
As enrollment continues to decline over the next couple of years, Superintendent Beth Schwarz said, the district will need to continue reducing expenditures.
One bright note, according to outgoing school board member Terry Collins, is that the construction of a new community center on the west wing of the complex will save the school the cost of dealing with issues related to the age of that end of the building, and the wood chip silo was taken down at no cost to the school as part of the project.
Collins, who did not run for re-election and will be off the school board in January, recommended that in reducing spending, they avoid “veering wildly” from new initiatives –such as early childhood programming—before they’ve had a chance to mature.
The board had the option of adding $91 per student to the levy to help continue Q-comp projects. This amount, about $42,000, was included in the preliminary budget. Q-comp is a state-initiated program that brings money into the district for quality improvement measures such as bringing math activities into all areas of the curriculum to improve standardized test scores, which is the district’s focus this year.
The board voted unanimously to set the 2013 levy at $1,335,286, which includes the Q-comp allowance. The 2013 levy will be 7 percent more than school taxes payable in 2012.
Put your sneakers on and get ready to dance away your winter blues with a Zumba event that will raise money for two good causes. Local residents Kathy Bernier and Chris Angelo, a licensed Zumba instructor, have teamed up to host a Zumbathon the afternoon of January 5 in the Sawtooth Elementary School gym.
For a suggested donation of $10 per person, participants of all ages and experience levels will exercise to the grooves of Latin music as they follow the moves of Instructor Angelo as well as volunteer instructors Cassie Fortier of Thunder Bay, Rosemary Kosevich of Silver Bay, and Annie Otterblad of Two Harbors. The money raised will be given to support the Cook County Kids Plus program and the ALS Association (fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
The Zumba.com website calls Zumba an addictive, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Alberto “Beto” Perez invented Zumba accidentally.
The story is on the Zumba website: “As a fitness instructor in his native Cali, Colombia, Beto's life took an unexpected turn one fateful day in the mid-'90s when he darted off to teach an aerobics class and forgot his traditional aerobics music. He improvised using his own mix of music from tapes he had in his backpack (salsa and merengue music he grew up with). Spontaneously he created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move you (instead of counting reps over the music). Energy electrified the room; people couldn't stop smiling. His class loved it!”
Zumba is now taught in over 150 countries around the world, with variations including classes for kids, new and older exercisers, and those wanting to work on toning, do circuit training, or exercise in the water. Zumbathons are becoming a popular way to raise money for worthy causes.
The first Gichigami Express stage-style sled dog race will be held from Sunday, January 6 through Tuesday, January 8 in the communities of Grand Portage, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Marais. A field of 20 mushing teams will be competing in the three-stage race.
The event begins with a veterinarian check of the dogs at the Grand Portage Log School, Saturday, January 5, from 8 to 4 PM. There will be a Potlatch Banquet at the Grand Portage Community Center at 6 PM featuring presentations by the mushers and on the history of sled dogs in Grand Portage. Everyone is invited.
The first of the three-stage races starts at Mineral Center at 9 AM, Sunday, January 6. The 20 teams will race to Hungry Jack Lodge with arrival times expected between 3 and 6 PM. Everyone is invited to the outdoor banquet at Trail Center Lodge on the Gunflint Trail after everyone arrives.
Windigo Lodge on the Gunflint Trail is hosting a breakfast for everyone from 6 to 8 AM, Monday, January 7. The mushers will leave Windigo at 9 AM and race to Devil Track Lodge with an arrival time of 3 to 6 PM expected. Everyone is invited to attend the spaghetti feed at American Legion Post 413 in Grand Marais. Everyone is invited.
On Tuesday, January 8, everyone is invited to the Grand Marais Lions' Club breakfast from 6 to 8 AM at Sven and Ole's in downtown Grand Marais. The third stage of the race will begin at 9 AM at Devil Track Landing with the teams heading for Mineral Center. They are expected to arrive between 3 and 6 PM. The awards dinner wil be held at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino at 6 PM. Everyone is invited.
The race features past Beargrease Champions Blake Freking, Ryan Anderson, Nathan Schroeder and Keith Aili. Local mushers racing will be Odin Jorgenson, Dennis LaBoda, Curtis LaBoda, Frank Moe, Rita Wehseler and Bill Wehseler. There will also be two teams from Michigan's Caribou Creek Kennel.
Minnesota’s first-ever wolf season will close at the end of shooting and trapping hours on Thursday, January 3, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources..
As of Wednesday, 181 wolves had been registered in the late season northwest wolf zone out of a target of 187. The northwest zone was the last of three management zones where wolves could be taken by permit since November 3.
The northwest zone number, when combined with totals from the early season and the other late season zones, brings the inaugural wolf season total to 395.
“Our plan was to close the season when the harvest was at or projected to reach 400,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR. “It is important that hunters and trappers know that they have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit their wolves for inspection.”
For the late season, the east-central zone was closed to hunting December 13. The northeast zone, which includes the Minnesota Arrowhead was closed December 14. Nine wolves were killed in the east-central zone where the quota was 10, and 58 were trapped or shot in the northeast zone where the target was 56.
Complete wolf hunting information, including a map of the wolf zones, is available at
The Cook County Food Shelf, like many other community food programs, sees increased usage in winter months. And unfortunately, because communities all around the region see a greater need, the food available at greatly discounted prices through the Second Harvest Food Bank is reduced.
So in the time of seasonal layoffs and families struggling to pay winter utility bills, when the need is the greatest, the food supply is the lowest. If the local food shelf runs short, it must purchase food at retail prices.
So although the “season of giving” is over, the Cook County Food Shelf could use a little more help. It is very easy to contribute. Donations of non-perishable foods can be dropped off at the Cook County Food Shelf at the First Congregational Church at Third Avenue and Second Street in Grand Marais.
Financial donations can be delivered to the church office on 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. If you want to call first to ensure the office is open to give a donation, call (218) 387-2113.
Checks may also be mailed to: Cook County Food Shelf, P.O. Box 95, Grand Marais, MN 55604.
If you want to volunteer time, there is always a task to be done—unloading deliveries, packing boxes, or helping with distribution. If you would like more information about volunteering, contact Bill or Gwen Lenz at (218) 387-9860.
Kids Plus coupon books are now available, with a new look and lots of new ways to save money while helping local youth programs.
The coupon books offer huge savings from 43 local businesses, and are available for $25 at Blue Water Cafe, Cook County Community Center, Grand Marais Pool, Great Gifts, Isak Hansen, Java Moose, Joynes Ben Franklin, and Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply.
What does the money raised from the sale of Cook County Kids Plus coupon books support? Kids Plus, Community Education and Extension share their resources to provide opportunities for youth throughout the county.
Programs include Out of School Adventures, Enrichment Programs that supplement and support student learning outside of the school setting, Summer Kids Camp, and the Incredible Exchange.
Incredible Exchange is a mentorship program for kids ages 11-14. Youth are paired with adult mentors in beginning “work” situations. Youth volunteer in exchange for a local recreational opportunity such as a ski pass or music lessons.
The Incredible Internship is a mentorship program for ages 15-18 that is an expansion of the Incredible Exchange program but also includes building skills such as writing a resume and interviewing for a position. Youth Development opportunities include leadership training and addressing relevant topics by bringing in speakers and performers.
Various community events such as the Easter Egg Hunt, the Halloween Event, and youth movies at Arrowhead Center for the Arts are also sponsored by Kids Plus.