Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Plan presented for assisted living facility

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 10:52am

The Joint Economic Development Authority received a proposal from Spectrum Health for assisted living in Cook County as well as goo news from the county to acquire work force housing property.    WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with EDA President Howard Hedstrom.


Commissioners struggle with high levy numbers

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 10:52am

The county commissioners are grappling with high levy figures and how to make a half-percent sales tax increase for transportation.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with the board’s chair Heidi Doo-Kirk.


Commissioners continue to discuss sales-tax increase

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 2:29pm

Though no action was taken by the Board of Commissioners regarding a proposed sales tax increase in Cook County to be used for projects by the highway department, the topic was again discussed during a regular meeting of the commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 13. 

There was the possibility the board would take action on the sales tax increase during Tuesday’s meeting. However, Commissioner Jan Sivertson was out of town and the board felt it was of value to have all districts represented on the vote to increase the sales tax. All the same, new or improved facilities for the highway department appear to be the largest obstacle in moving the sales tax forward with complete or perhaps even a majority of the board’s approval. 

A vote on the proposed sales tax by the county board is expected before the end of the month, likely during their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27. 

Full story in audio below. 



"Walk to School Day" on Wednesday, Sept. 14

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 1:03pm

Last week, “Slow Down” lawn signs, an additional speed feedback sign, and school zone speed enforcement are all at work reminding our community that school has started and to drive carefully to keep students safe. Wednesday, Sept. 14, will be the first “Walk to School Day,” with three routes of Walking School Buses in Grand Marais.

Law Enforcement officials (Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol) and community members will accompany students on the safe routes to school.

Walking School Buses are groups of students and adult volunteers walking to school together. Officers from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and members of the Active Living Steering Committee will accompany the groups on the first day. Each Walking School Bus stops at ISD 166 and GES in time for school to begin. If your student normally gets a ride to school, come in a little early and walk or bike with the Walking School Bus from one of the starting locations: the Cook County Courthouse (7:30 a.m. departure), Birchwood Apartments (7:40 a.m. departure), or County Road 7 and Seventh Avenue East (7:40 a.m. departure). Students are welcome to join along the route or meet at the starting location.

For more information about Safe Routes to School, to volunteer, or for a Slow Down lawn sign, contact SRTS Coordinator Maren Webb at (218) 387-2330 or


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Forest Service hosts open house to provide information on upcoming prescribed burns

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 1:02pm

Superior National Forest managers are hosting an open house regarding prescribed fires planned for the fall season on the Gunflint Ranger District. These prescribed burns include the Lux Lake Unit and the Duncan Lake Unit, both within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The open house will allow the public to view maps, prescribed fire planning documents, and ask questions concerning the prescribed fires.

The open house will be September 15 at the Gunflint Ranger District – 2020 West Hwy 61, Grand Marais from 4 – 6 p.m.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, prescribed burning improves public safety by reducing the potential for high-intensity wildland fires to spread from the BWCAW into areas of intermingled ownership, which include areas containing homes, cabins, resorts, other improvements and areas across the international border into Canada.

The Forest Service plans prescribed fires in advance, with involvement from specialists in all of the resource programs on the Forest and prescribed fires are designed to be implemented under specific conditions (prescription) to meet management objectives. Several considerations go into planning a prescribed fire including fuel types, presence of sensitive plants or animals, visitor use, fuel moisture, winds, relative humidity, and projected weather. Prescribed fires are rescheduled if weather conditions are unfavorable.

More information will be posted on the Superior National Forest website soon, including maps regarding the upcoming fire activities on the forest.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Boreal welcomes a season of change in fall 2016

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 7:29am

Boreal Community Media a local nonprofit that most Cook County residents associate with two words: The Internet. Boreal has provided a range of services to northeastern Minnesota over the past two decades, including providing Internet and email access, posting classified ads, news content and designing web pages for local businesses. And there are some changes coming to Boreal this fall, including a new location for the business and a new Boreal website. 

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with staff from Boreal about these changes.


Fall could arrive as frost in the area this week

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 6:19am

The leaves are just barely starting to turn, but fall could come with a first frost mid-week.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson about the autumn onset.


Trial date set for Tofte shooter Bigby

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 3:11pm

A trial date has been set for the man accused of murdering a blackjack dealer during a holiday Christmas party at Bluefin Bay Resort last December.

The trial in the case of Kirk Lee Bigby is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 in the Cook County Courthouse. Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken said the trial could last five to seven days. A pre-trial date is set for Jan. 6. The announcements came during a delayed omnibus hearing that was held Monday, Sept. 12 in Grand Marais.

This was Bigby’s fifth court appearance in Cook County since the shooting took place in the early morning of Dec. 9. He was arrested for shooting and killing 35-year old Marcus Lee Roberts, a resident of Bloomington. Monday’s courtroom proceedings in the Bigby case lasted approximately 15 minutes.

At this point, it appears Bigby will continue his plea of not guilty by reason of self-defense. However, more evidence is still being processed, so no official plea will be issued until the final omnibus hearing which is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Duluth-based Judge Eric Hylden agreed to postpone the hearing until all of the DNA evidence is available in the case. Both Hicken and Public Defender Brent Olson agreed forensics in the case are still being processed. However, Hylden took a firm stance that all evidence needs to be submitted prior to the Oct. 21 hearing and explained his frustrations that such evidence gathering was not yet complete. By the pre-trial date of Jan. 6, Judge Hylden made it very clear any potential delays with a jury pool or evidence submission need to be sorted out.

And so it will likely be up to a jury to determine the fate of Bigby. In August, the Cook County Attorney's Office added an unintentional second-degree murder charge against Bigby. This charge is supplemental to the intentional second-degree murder charge he has faced since the day after the shooting last December.

Grand Marais Art Colony Plein Air begins today

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 12:26pm

The Grand Marais Art Colony Plein Air event began today with a lunchtime artist talk with Sue Wipf, an award-winning plein air painter. Look for artists taking part in the plein air event all over the county this week and consider checking out the exhibits.

On Tuesday - Wednesday, Sept 13-14 from 1 – 4 p.m. see some of the first paintings of the week on display at the Grand Marais Art Colony as part of the “Red Suspender Competition.”

On Thursday, Sept 15 from 4 - 5:30 p.m., head out to The Point to watch the Quick Paint competition.

On Friday, September 16, at 11 a.m. there will be a Juror Lecture with Dan Wiemer at the Art Colony and that evening the exhibit opens with a reception at Johnson Heritage Post from 5 – 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Sept 17 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Hazel Belvo will guide a discussion on art viewing. The Art of Seeing with Hazel Belvo will be at the Johnson Heritage Post. There is a $5 suggested donation.

The Plein Air Open Class Exhibit will open for display at the Grand Marais Art Colony and Johnson Heritage Post at noon on September 17. The plein air works will be on display until November 13.


Grand Portage band member responds to federal government’s intervention at Standing Rock

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 11:41am

Dana Logan is a Grand Portage band member who recently visited the protector camps near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Dana about her trip to North Dakota and about the reaction to the Obama Administration taking action Sept. 9 to at least temporarily halt continued construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. 


North Shore Health Care Center celebrates September birthdays

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 10:21am

The monthly birthday party at the North Shore Health Care Center will be held on September 14 at 3:00 p.m. to honor several residents that celebrate birthdays in September. Those residents are Bernice LeGarde, Helene Smith, Audrey Pollock, Sweeney Croft, and Marcy Podas. There will be plenty of cake and ice cream along with favorite piano tunes by Doug Sanders.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at North Shore Health Care Center or to check out the September calendar of events, visit: or call the Activity Department at 387-3518.

*********This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper**************************



Forum at North House to focus on affordable housing

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 5:16am

Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is an organization that works to create connections and partnerships with the communities, organizations, and agencies throughout the state that are working on critical community issues such as housing.

The group is to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access the essential ingredients for economic and social success: affordable housing, transportation choices, good schools, strong social networks, and access to healthy places.

Margaret Kaplan is the Minnesota Housing Community Development Director. Margaret will be in Grand Marais on Monday, Sept. 19th as part of an open forum held at North House Folk School focusing on specific affordable housing needs in communities in Cook County and along the North Shore. 

In addition to staff from Minnesota housing, representatives from USDA Rural Development, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will be on hand. That event begins at 10 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m. in the Red building at North House. 

Listen to audio below to hear an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs and Kaplan as they discuss the issue of affordable housing in Cook County. 


"Do good" in recognition of 9/11, Patriot Day

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 4:44pm

On the 15th anniversary of the tragic terror attack that killed 2,977 men, women and children in New York City, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Cook County News-Herald joins the rest of the nation in remembrance.

To honor those victims, Americans are encouraged to “do good.” Volunteer, sign up to give blood, thank a service member, a policeman or firefighter, fly the flag, plant a tree, take a moment of quiet reflections, and tell your friends and family you love them.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper


City considers 5.49 percent levy increase

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 2:17pm

The council did not have to make an immediate decision on its 2017 levy, so there was discussion only. Administrator Roth presented a preliminary levy with an increase of 5.49 percent, from $871,865 in 2016 to $919,769 in 2017. The council noted the preliminary levy funds all of the immediate capital outlay requests from city departments. Although department requests were met and the public works facility is funded, Roth said no funds are earmarked for a new liquor store, city hall—or a topic of frequent council discussions—public restrooms.

Roth said, “The question is, how fast do you want to do all these projects?”

Roth suggested that the council might want to add an additional small increase, such as 2 percent. He said if you add a little to the levy each time, the burden to taxpayers is more easily absorbed.

Councilor David Mills agreed. He said that was one of his concerns that one year the city would need to drastically increase its levy by 10 percent or more to cover operations.

Councilor Tim Kennedy said he would like to know if there is something the departments need that should be added. “This is the time to discuss that,” he said.

Roth agreed, but added, “There is always a wish list.”

Councilors agreed to wait until the next meeting on September 14 to make a decision on the levy amount.

******************************This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper




Superior National Golf Pro to complete 100 holes of golf on Patriot Golf Day, Sept. 11

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 2:13pm

Superior National at Lutsen golf pro Heath Ekstrom loves to play golf, but even his love of the game will be tested on September 11 when he attempts to play 100 holes in 24 hours.

“It’s a lot of golf but it’s for a good purpose,” Ekstrom said, adding he probably hasn’t played a total of 100 rounds this summer.

And if the weather holds up and Ekstrom holds up, he may even play more than 100 holes!

“I have timed myself and I can play 9 holes of golf in 45 minutes if the course is clear. That’s if everything goes all right. The day I play I will have to complete 12 plus rounds to make my goal of 100 holes. My cart is going to be decked out with American flags and golfers on the course will be notified about what I am attempting to do and hopefully they will let me play through,” he said.

Ekstrom is taking part in Patriot Golf Day, a nationwide fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships for spouses and children of military members who have been disabled or killed while serving the country.

“I will be playing to honor George Nelson Jr., who gifted the land to Cook County that Superior National at Lutsen stands on,” said Ekstrom. “George was a World War ll veteran and a 10th Mountain Division specialist. I have wanted to honor him for what he has done for this golf course and for our community and this seemed like the perfect tribute.”

As the biggest fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, Patriot Golf Day has raised more than $17 million in the last seven years and that has meant they could grant more than 5,000 scholarships.