The 31st running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins tomorrow in Two Harbors, Minnesota. The race normally begins in Duluth, Minnesota but due to the lack of snow it is beginning a little farther north. The start of the race is always fun to watch. The dogs bark and jump and jump and bark as they wait for their turn to start. As soon as they are free to run they quit barking and fall into their own rhythym.
If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow head on up to Two Harbors and check out the Beargrease!
I know Grand Marais is a cool town, even in the summer thanks to Lake Superior. In all seriousness, Grand Marais, Minnesota is a semifinalist in the “America’s Coolest Small Town” contest sponsored by Budget Travel. I’m sure you think Grand Marais pretty cool too, if so then go online and vote for it. That would be cool if it one…Is Grand Marais ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’? PAM LOUWAGIE | Updated 1/22/2015 The Boundary Waters gateway city is one of 15 semifinalists in Budget Travel’s online contest for “America’s Coolest Small Town.”
Just how “cool” is Grand Marais?
First, Duluth-loving voters took to the Internet to catapult the Lake Superior city to the title of Outside Magazine’s “Best Town in America.”
Now fans of Grand Marais, the tiny tourist destination up the shore, are campaigning for a contest of their own.
The Boundary Waters gateway city is one of 15 semifinalists in Budget Travel magazine’s online contest for “America’s Coolest Small Town.”
The city became a semifinalist after receiving 472 nominations online. It’s competing with towns from Maine to Hawaii during online voting which closes at 11:59 p.m. on February 25. The top 10 towns will be featured online and in an upcoming issue of the magazine.
The only other Minnesota town to be a finalist was Ely, in 2010.
To vote on this year’s contest, go here.
I’m chagrined that I didn’t write a column last week sharing thoughts about Civil Rights and the pivotal role of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. I’m embarrassed to say that I almost let the important day designated to honor Dr. King go by unnoticed.
Thankfully, it is now a national holiday so I was reminded by announcements of numerous commemorative events around the United States, as well as thoughtful (albeit after deadline) submissions to the Cook County News- Herald from our legislative representatives.
My co-workers remembered and we had a discussion over whether or not the News-Herald office should be open or not. The decision to work or not to work was left up to each individual staffer. I didn’t take the day off. Not because I don’t have the utmost respect for Dr. King, but because I actually think one of the best ways to honor Dr. King is by working.
The best and highest way to remember Dr. King is probably by spending the day in some sort of volunteer activity, doing something that builds community. In fact, that is what some of the original organizers of Martin Luther King Day wanted the commemoration to be—a day of service. The holiday was designated and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act, expanding the mission of the holiday as “a day of community service, interracial cooperation and youth anti-violence initiatives.”
Since then, every year meaningful tasks are undertaken to remember the work of Dr. King. All over the United States, there are youth expos and anti-bullying events. There are unity marches and symposiums on nonviolence. Volunteers offer hours of service, picking up trash on roadsides, helping repair homes for low income seniors, collecting donations for food shelves, giving blood, serving at soup kitchens and much more.
Our leaders set the example. President Clinton followed up the signing of the service act with the creation of AmeriCorps in 1994. President George W. Bush spent Martin Luther King holidays lending a hand in rebuilding efforts in Hurricane Katrina-torn New Orleans or visiting schools. This year President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent time with kids completing a literacy project at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington. In years past, they’ve served meals at homeless shelters.
All of these are great ways to remember the slain Civil Rights leader. Another way, I learned this week, is to go to school.
I had a nice visit with a local school board member about Martin Luther King Day. I asked if the school had gotten any feedback from people upset because the school does not follow the federal and state holiday policy. Yes, she said, they had heard a few complaints. But not as much in years past as the school has made an effort to let parents and the community know that while school is held, Dr. King’s memory is still honored.
When school is held on the third Monday of the month, the day federally designated as Martin Luther King Day, schools are required to incorporate the story of Dr. King. From kindergarten through high school, on that day or leading up to that day, during history lessons or social studies or English classes, the story of the Civil Rights struggle is woven into the curriculum.
Through age-appropriate lessons, students learn about segregation and desegregation; about voting rights and the Nobel Peace Prize; about bus boycotts and sit-ins and sadly, about the assassination of a great man. Students hear his words of wisdom, such as the famed I Have a Dream speech.
I’m glad the school honors the special holiday. I’m pleased that our school works to bring Dr. King’s legacy to life. And I’m glad that they reminded me to do the same.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I usually don’t bring gum into the BWCA with me but now I might. Check this out!
1/22/15 - We received this note from or friend Becky Rom. Becky is the daughter of Bill and Barb Rom, who were canoe outfitting pioneers in Ely.
Hi - As you know, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness/Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is hosting a series of talks this weekend in the Twin Cities about the threat of sulfide-ore copper mining to the Boundary Waters and surrounding area. Would you please send out the invitation to these talks to your friends and family, and perhaps your customer list? Would you post this on your website? Three of the talks are described on the attached postcard. In addition, the Izaak Walton League is hosting a talk at REI on Saturday.
We are also asking that people contact Congresswoman Betty McCollum's office in St. Paul with a request that she permanently protect the Boundary Waters. Betty is the ranking member of a key committee in the House, and can influence Boundary Waters policy. Phone calls and emails to her office are best. We will be putting up more detail on our website SavetheBoundaryWaters.org in the next day or two, but calls and emails can have a very simple message (why you care and please protect) and should start right now.
Thursday, January 22
Ridgedale-Hennepin County Library, RHR Room
6:30 pm Open House
7:00 - 8:30 pm Presentation
12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka
Saturday, January 24
Bachman’s Floral Gift & Garden, Heritage Room
1:30 Open House
2:00 - 3:30 pm Presentation
6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Saturday, January 24 - Sponsored by the Izaak Walton League
6:00 Open House
7:00 - 8:30 pm Presentation
750 W. American Blvd., Bloomington
Sunday, January 25
2:30 pm Open House
3:00 - 4:30 pm Presentation
Turtle Lake Room 110
4580 Victoria St. N., Shoreview
There’s lots of live music this weekend in venues around the county. And much more is happening as well.
There’s a square dance at North House Folk School on Saturday night and, in Thunder Bay, a wild fashion show called “Direlicte” on Saturday night, too.
Then, on Sunday, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon starts, and on Tuesday WDSE”s The Playlist comes to Papa Charlie’s for a live recording of some of the best bands in the county.
The week is is capped off by the arrival of The Pines and Deadman Winter, who will play for two nights at Papa Charlie’s.
First up is old time square dancing. Two classes will be held in conjunction with this event: a banjo workshop with Aaron Tacke and an Old Time Fiddle workshop with AJ Srubas. The classes will be held at the Cook County Community Center on Saturday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. To sign up, call Elise Kyllo at 612-961-4691 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Old Time Square Dance will be held at North House Folk School from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday with live music by The Boot Lickers. Dances will be taught, no experience or partner is necessary. Just bring a water bottle.
This over-the-top show includes wearable art, dance, music and performance and is held at the Black Pirates Pub, 215 Red River Road. The event, which starts at 8 p.m., includes four live bands and DJs, 10 local fashion houses, video-mapping projections, 16 wearable art pieces and more than 100 artist/models. Last year, more than 600 attended the event. Tickets are $10 at the door.
On Sunday, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon starts at Highway 2 outside Two Harbors. The route has changed a little this year because of lack of snow, especially along the lake shore. The Mid-Distance race starts at 2 p.m., the Marathon at 3 p.m. Seventeen mushers have registered for the Marathon, 29 for the Mid-distance.
The Mid-distance will finish at Devil Track Landing this year, not at the AmericInn in Tofte as it has in past years. The first finishers are expected to cross the line around noon on Monday.
The first Marathon teams should arrive at the Sawbill Trail rest stop around 1:30 a.m. Monday, the last leaving about 7:30 a.m. The first teams are expected to arrive at Trail Center around 9 a.m. on Monday. The Marathon finish is at Billy’s in Duluth and the leaders are expected to arrive about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday
There are a number of local mushers competing in this year’s marathon, including Frank Moe, Odin Jorgenson, Erin Altemus and Rita Wehseler.
All the mushers will be wearing GPS devices, so the race can be watched online. For more info, see www.beargrease.com.)
On Tuesday, WDSE’s The Playlist is taking over Papa Charlie’s for a Cook County music/recording session featuring Eric Frost, Pushing Chain and The SplinterTones.
Everyone is invited to the be part of the live audience and listen to some of Cook County’s finest. The evening begins at 8 p.m. with Frost. Pushing Chain (Bump Blomberg & Adam Moe) play at 9 p.m. and the SplinterTones play at 10 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. Cash bar available. PlayList Swag at the door. The initial broadcast will be through WDSE in Duluth with a statewide distribution to follow. Come be part of the audience and join in the fun!
Then on Wednesday and Thursday nights, two fabulous Twin Cities bands play at Papa Charlie’s– The Pines and Dead Man Winter. On Wednesday night, there will be an acoustic singer/songwriter circle with members of both bands. On Thursday night, each band will play a set. Performances start at 8 p.m.
The Pines (David Huckfeldt & Benson Ramsey), is an indie-roots band with a truly unique sound that captures ears and stimulates the mind.
Dead Man Winter, the side project of acoustic barnburners Trampled by Turtles’ frontman/songwriter Dave Simonett, the Minnesota quintet consists of three members with TBT – Simonett, Tim Saxhaug and Ryan Young – along with guitarist/producer Erik Koskinen and drummer Noah Levy.
Both bands are wildly popular in the Twin Cites. Tickets are $10 a day, $16 for a 2-day pass.
In other art news, David Gilsvik is working on the second wall mural for the Heritage Center at the Grand Portage Monument. The project will include four murals which should be installed by early summer.
Jack Nickolay will direct the One Act Play by the Grand Marais Playhouse that will be entered in the Minnesota Association of Community Theater’s Festival in March. Auditions for the play will be held from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. The play will be selected after auditions. For more information, contact the playhouse at (218)387-1284 x2 or email@example.com.
And finally, Lynn Speaker’s exhibit at the Grand Marais Art Colony continues through the end of this month. The Art Colony is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Here’s the music schedule for the coming week:
Thursday, Jan. 22:
- Eric Frost & Bill Hanson, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
- Gordon Thorne, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
- Billy Johnson, Gun Flint Tavern, 8 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 23:
- The Sivertones, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
- Pete Kavanaugh, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
- Clearwater Hot Club, Gun Flint Tavern, 8 p.m.
- Billy Johnson, Papa Charlie’s, 9 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 24:
- Pushing Chain with Boyd Blomberg, Papa Charlie’s, 3:15 p.m.
- Eric Frost, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
- Joe Paulik, Papa Charlie’s, 6:45 p.m.
- Gordon Thorne, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
- Jim McGowan, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
- Old Time Square Dance, North House Folk School, 7:30 p.m.
- Paul Mayasich & Al Oikari, Gun Flint Tavern, 8 p.m.
- Billy Johnson’s Roadshow, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 25:
- Evergreen Grass Band, Papa Charlie’s, 3:30 p.m.
- Classic Guitar with Scott Fraser, Bluefin Grille, 6 p.m.
- Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 7 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 26:
- Joe Paulik, Big Bear Lodge, 7 p.m.
- Boyd “Bump” Blomberg, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
- Communist Daughter, Songwriter Series, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 27:
- Joe Paulik, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
- The Playlist Live at Papa Charlie’s with Eric Frost, Pushing Chain & The SplinterTones, 8 p.m. Free
Wednesday, Jan. 28:
- The Pines & Dead Man Winter, acoustic singer/songwriter circle, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 29:
- The Pines & Dead Man Winter, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.
We found some interesting photos this week.
Let’s start with Kjersti Vick’s wonderful shot of frost on a pine tree.
Here’s a wonderful shot of a common eider hen by Michael Furtman. Eider ducks are normally found in the Arctic but this hen has taken up with a bunch of ducks in the Duluth harbor.
Here’s fantastic portrait of a red squirrel, taken by John Sikkila.
And for the domestic livestock photo of the week, check this out.
We had some wild waves and winds recently. Don Davison caught this shot.
David Johnson caught the magic the wind and waves created.
And it’s been cold and grey. Here’s Bryan Hansel‘s beautiful take on that.
And the cold created this beauty by Travis Novitsky. Enjoy!
Have a great week, everyone!
If you’re a paddling enthusiast looking to be entertained then you might want to check out a couple of things. One is a television show called the “Paddling Bryans.” I haven’t watched it yet but a friend suggested I check it out on Facebook. It’s about two Canadian guys named Bryan who travel around by canoe and I imagine they have awesome Canadian accents that would be fun to listen to.
When you can’t go paddling it’s always nice to watch shows about it or hear about it.
Adam Maxwell will be giving a presentation at the University of Minnesota Duluth on February 23rd. He, along with some other paddlers are the ones who canoed to the Arctic this summer. It’s from 7-8:30pm at Duluth’s Bohannon Hall and it’s free. Below is the description of his presentation.
During the summer of 2014 a crew of 6 young men and women completed a
canoe expedition covering 920 miles from Northern Saskatchewan to Whales
Cove, Nunavut, led by UMD graduate Adam Maxwell. Adam will share
stories and photos of their travel which began in the boreal forest then into
the arctic tundra and eventually to the coast of Hudson Bay. Wildlife sightings
included thousands of caribou, musk ox, polar bears, and a wolverine. The
crew faced many challenges including long portages, a busted canoe, and
several low water streams. In addition to hearing stories about this expedition
join in a conversation about the planning of northern river travel, including
ways that college students can take advantage of their large amount of free
time over summer break to complete a budget conscious trip with very little
What a beautiful winter this is turning out to be! A guest who has been coming up to ski since 1989 summed it up perfectly today: “The best snow conditions and best temperatures we’ve had for years.” Last year we did have amazing snow, but it was coupled with brutal subzero temperatures and frequent high winds. It was difficult to actually have fun. We feel like any guest who skied here last year and still opted to come back this winter must be very brave! Luckily, it’s payback time for those people. This year they are skiing in outstanding winter conditions.
We’ve been living in a snow globe lately. Every day it seems to snow those big soft, shiny flakes that are reminiscent of the fake snow that comes down on a movie set. Granular-looking snow, so when you look at the snowbanks it’s as if you can see every distinct particle that accumulated to make the snow mound. It means that we’ve had to groom often to keep everything in great shape. Both resorts have been out on the trails repeatedly all week, freshening the tracks.
Zach Baumann at Golden Eagle has been out on the trails with their measuring stick. Here is their latest report:
Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 1-21-15
New Snow Last 24 hours: 0.8”
New Snow Last 7 days: 4.1”
Trail Base, Staked: 10” average
Snow in Woods, Staked: Low 13” High 20”
Groomed with classic tracks: 70 K
Groomed for skating: 53.4 K
Surface Conditions: Fresh Packed Powder
Last grooming day: 1-21-15
Snowshoe trails: Open
Total snowfall since Nov. 1: 51.35”
Comments: It’s been a busy week for both groomers with new, fresh snow coming down each day since the 17th. Trail conditions are excellent and the scenery is gorgeous!
We have now passed a benchmark for total snowfall on the year at over 50 inches since November 1st. With total snowfall now at 51.35 inches, we are slightly ahead of where we were last year on this date, which totaled 50.40 inches. At this rate, we are looking at another 120 inch season! Keep it coming!
Please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203) for specific conditions and grooming information on each trail or route. Central Gunflint Ski Pass Required.
November Total 2014 – 14.25 inches
Dec 1 – Dec 7: 1.75 inches
Dec 8 – Dec 14: 8.75 inches
Dec 15 – Dec 21: 11.0 inches
Dec 22 – Dec 28: 3.5 inches
Dec 29 – Dec 31: 0 inches
December Total 2014 – 25.00 inches
Jan 1 – Jan 4: 7.0 inches
Jan 5 – Jan 11: 1.0 inches
Jan 14: .375 inches
Jan 17: 1.0 inches
Jan 18: 1.175 inches
Jan 19: 0.75 inches
Jan 20: 0.8 inches
January Total 2015 – 12.10 inches
Total Snowfall 2014-2015 – 51.35 inches
Something is brewing in Grand Marais, Minnesota and it’s our craft beer! With all of our equipment and licenses in place we’ve been able to brew. The beer will need a couple of weeks to ferment but after that we’ll be able to open our doors to all of the kind, supportive and patient people who want to visit Voyageur Brewing Company.
Our tentative open date is Thursday, February 12th at 4pm. Then we’ll be open on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm until 11pm and on Saturdays from 12:00pm until 11:00pm for the rest of the winter. We’ll celebrate a Grand Opening later in March so stay tuned for information about that and the tours we’ll be offering.
Our kitchen will be open and our chef has prepared a menu of small plates that will pair perfectly with our beers. Our beertenders look forward to serving you.
We want to have a little fun with our beer names so we’re having a contest on Facebook. We are taking one of our beers and offering clues as to what the name might be. You can guess each time there is a new clue but in order to win you must be signed up to receive our Voyageur Brewing Company email newsletter. You can sign up on our website and if you’re a subscriber and guess correctly you will win a pint glass of Voyageur Beer.
We have already had someone guess the name and he won a growler filled with Voyageur Beer. He guessed the correct name after just three clues. Those three clues were, It can wear you down. There’s no explanation for it. What goes in must come out. I’ve given two more clues today and will continue to do so until we have another winner. Then after that, we’ll start in on the next beer. Join the fun and excitement as we approach our opening day.
1/21/15 - This is the time of year when we recruit new Sawbill crew members for the coming season.
We look for people who have experience in canoe country, passion for wilderness, personal optimism, enthusiasm, good personal adjustment, and demonstrated willingness to work. We usually only consider applicants who are 18 and have finished a year of college, or equivalent.
You are not hired for a particular job. We reschedule all the jobs on a weekly basis and you are generally able to choose the actual work you do. Inherent to our unique "work credit" system is a strong commitment to trust and cooperation. As a result, very little of the traditional employer/employee relationship is necessary.
We work around crew members school schedules, but we need at least some employees from April through October, so your dates of availability are important.
Sawbill Crew 2014
Be warned, some of you may find what follows a little gross. My friends do…
As I was out checking on the cabins this morning I noticed a lot of little hoof prints all over. On the decks, right next to the cabin doors, up and down the drives, off into the woods, and over across the lake. I kept following all the tracks around in their odd little patterns trying to figure out what the deer were doing here. I feared for our little sapling Jack pines, Stan and Marge, but seemed to be ok nestled in the snow.
Usually Tuscarora does not have any deer visitors in the winter. It’s tough living up here in the deep snow with out a lot of browse. Most deer migrate down to Lake Superior and hang out on the shore or go further south where the snow does not get so deep. Some heards tough it out all winter when a resort feeds them, but they usually don’t stray very far from the feeders.
I decided to grab the mail and walk with Lucy out to the mail box. It was a nice enough day and she was going a little stir crazy after all the cold weather we had been having. Plus I had a mystery to solve. Heading down the road my head was down watching all the tracks. We even picked up the tracks of a little moose on the road. There were a lot! Going every which way. What went on last night?
Not paying attention as I was, I didn’t notice the little red car coming up the road towards us. I hollered for Lucy and the car slowed down and rolled down their window. With an excited grin I was informed their was carrion up ahead! I thanked them for the heads up and clicked Lucy onto a leash. I didn’t need a pup with an upset stomach at 2 AM.
I assumed they had meant it would be on the Cross River just up head but nothing. Lucy and I kept following the tracks in the snow still wondering. Lucy is not one for leashed walks and I was more concerned about being pulled over into the snow than the tracks for a while. Then we turned the corner by the Centennial Hiking Trail and there it was.
My enthusiasm for what follows might be a bit…odd…but this was my first wolf kill. I had been waiting for this for a while now. From a distance it was just a big splattering of red in a black and white world. Now the tracks were all a mess of creatures – deer, wolf, fox, martin, raven, scrub jay, people. We got closer, Lucy tugging on the leash, me trying to keep her out of the worst. The deer must have been there for at least a day as not much was left. Tufts of fur were scattered every where. The carcass was just a skull, spine and some ribs. I could see where umm…”bits”…had been carried off to be umm…”enjoyed”…in peace.
And the wing marks! The ravens had been startled off by the car passing through but on the snow banks were these beautiful feather impressions from their take offs. There must have been a whole flock here cleaning up the…ah…”leftovers.”
It was hard to really take a good look at everything with Lucy choking herself on the leash so we went home. I was going to go back out and take a closer look but when we got back, the county snow plow was rumbling up the drive. Shoot. It will be all swept into the snow bank now. I wanted to see how the rest of it was going to go as all the little forest scavengers had their turn.
My friends tell me this is gross. And sad. But a wolf needs to eat, right? And when the wolf is done, just think of all the other creatures that benefit. Sure the deer is dead but winter is really a struggle for them anyways. It’s not cruel or sinister. It’s just a part of the natural order.
Check out our Winter Report for shorter and fluffier winter condition updates!
Well, it’s almost Boundary Waters permit time. Reservations for all entry points can be made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning January 28, 2015, 9 a.m. Central Time. It isn’t a mad rush for permits on the Gunflint Trail side of the BWCA so if you don’t have your travel plans set yet then don’t fret. We have great availability for most entry points well into the summer season.
It is however never too early to start planning your Boundary Waters canoe trip. It’s nice to get a couple of them on the calendar nice and early so other activities don’t get in the way of your paddling and camping fun. Prioritization is what it’s all about. I know I wish I could have spent more time in the woods this past summer.
I’m hopeful for a quality canoe trip with my family this summer. Last summer was way too busy with Abby at camp every other week it seemed. With Hannah and Tony here this winter and staying for next summer I know when we go paddling we’ll be leaving our guests in very capable hands. Speaking of Tony and Hannah, that’s who you’ll be speaking with if you’re ready to make your BWCA permit reservation with Voyageur. They are answering phones and holding down the fort while we travel all over for sports for our kids. Feel free to give them a call, they will be happy to help you plan your trip and reserve your permit for you.
I know many of you have been following along with the Voyageur Brewing Company adventure. We’re getting closer to opening and we couldn’t be more excited. We want to share that enthusiasm with you and invite you to take part in a fun contest we’re having. I’m posting hints to what one of our beer names is going to be on the Voyageur Brewing Company Facebook page. I’ll be doing this for each of the four beers we hope to have ready by opener. The first person to correctly guess the beer name will win a growler filled with that type of beer.
I’ve been having some technical difficulty with the link, if the above links do not work then you can try this one. Or just find the Featured App on the Facebook page. You can visit our website and sign up to receive our email newsletter if you’d like too. Who knows, maybe you will guess a name we’ll end up using for a future beer!
Here is his introductory letter:
To My Fellow New Yorkers:
We have a crisis of affordability on our hands.
It’s a crisis in many ways built on New York City’s success. We are a safer, more welcoming city than we were decades ago. People from all over the world come to study, to work or to start a business here.
And that success story has put pressure on our housing stock. Coupled with ever-rising economic inequality, it has created a painful reality where more and more New Yorkers are spending more and more to cover their housing costs, and entire neighborhoods have lost their affordability. Affordable housing is part of the bedrock of what makes New York City work.
It’s what underpins the economically diverse neighborhoods New Yorkers want to live in. It’s critical to providing financial stability for working families, helping them get ahead and build a better life.
And that is why today, we are laying out a comprehensive plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable units over the coming decade, to support New Yorkers with a range of incomes, from the very lowest to those in the middle class. This is a plan to get ahead of the curve, to protect neighborhoods, and build our city’s next generation of affordable housing.
It’s about knitting communities together. Our affordable housing policies must reach every New Yorker in need, which is why this plan thinks big about the changes we need to make—in government and in the private sector—to make this a city where everyone rises together, and everyone has a safe and decent home.
If you’re in a community where affordability is disappearing, we want to protect it. If your family lives in a rent-regulated apartment, this plan is focused on helping you keep it. If you’re a senior trying to remain in the neighborhood you helped to build, we are fighting to help you stay. If you are a building owner or developer intent on building or preserving affordable apartments, we will support you.
This is a five-borough, ten-year plan. It will marshal people and resources from every corner of this city behind a singular purpose: to make this city again a place where our most vulnerable, our working people, and our middle class can all thrive. Together, let’s make that vision a reality.
As far as I am concerned Mr. de Blasio hits the nail on the head when he says that affordable housing is "part of the bedrock" that makes his, and just about any, city work.
I also agree that affordable housing is essential to properly knit neighborhoods and communities together. It is very hard to have a cohesive community if some of your residents are struggling to find one of the basic elements of survival. It fosters disdain and prevents some from engaging with others... We don't like to admit this, but it often is true, going both ways.
I do find it interesting, however, the reasons for this problem in New York and how that differs from Grand Marais in substance only. The popularity of New York has drawn more people in, similarly the popularity of Grand Marais is drawing people in... however it seems that most of the people coming up here aren't coming to study or work or start businesses, but to retire, relax, and recreate (which in its own way is a very good thing!). The economic ripple of these activities is definitely not the same.
The Executive Summary of the article could apply almost directly to Grand Marais... Just change the city name and things sound very familiar: It speaks of stagnating incomes and rapidly increasing housing costs, it speaks of the right every resident has to live in a neighborhood that gives them the things they need to succeed, it states that high rent-burden on a community is damaging to its economy, it speaks of supply and demand (people staying in their houses longer and thus not turning over those houses to younger families... largely because there aren't options for older adults to move to!), and how the private sector has not produced adequate housing to meet the need.
New York City is proposing the building of 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years throughout the 5 boroughs of their city. If you take a look at the math, if you scaled the project down to the size of Grand Marais, we would be adding around 30 units of affordable housing in the next 10 years to match their initiative... That isn't actually that many. Three units of housing a year? How can we make that work?
To add to this conversation, those living below or at the poverty line in New York City measure around 20% of the total population, where in Grand Marais that number fluctuates around 10%. So, if you wanted to be cynical about this, we could say that Grand Marais could then build roughly half of those units of housing... except that we don't just have a problem with affordable housing for people near the poverty line. We have lost Deputies, nurses, doctors, administrators, etc because of this housing situation and its affect on middle class wage earners too. I mention this to support the idea that 30 housing units could be about right, if not a little low for our situation!
These are the things they seek to do in New York:
- Fostering diverse, livable neighborhoods
- Preserving the affordability and quality of the existing housing stock
- Building new affordable housing for all New Yorkers
- Promoting homeless, senior, supportive and accessible housing
- Refining City financing tools and expanding funding sources for affordable housing
- Planning and land-use needs to be re-vamped
- Economic diversity should be the cornerstone of development
- Municipal tools and assets need to be used more effectively
- Protect past municipal investments by finding ways to lock in affordability
- Take advantage of current opportunities/incentives (low interest rates, attention on this subject)
- Increase funding for housing programs
Their plan is broken down so that 60% of the housing units would be renovation/preservation of existing affordable housing stock and 40% would be new construction. Again, scaling this to Grand Marais, this would mean 18 units of housing would be renovated/preserved and 12 units would be constructed. Does that work here? Could that work here?
Ok, but how are they going to fund this? Mayor de Blasio's office states that this project will cost around $41.4 billion over 10 years. Scaled to Grand Marais size this would be a little over $633,000 over 10 years or $63,000/year or a little over $20,000/unit average. That DOES sound do-able, but can we get good, long-term affordable housing for that amount in our community?
New York is going to be re-distributing money in the city's budget to accomplish this in addition to applying for state and federal funding in addition to pursuing partnerships with private industry in addition to partnering with other funds that could contribute...
We have many resources at our disposal as well; however, much, much more limited than New York's... This is going to be a continued area of investigation of course. Is it possible for the City of Grand Marais to arrange and fund a project, with partnerships of course, that could provide affordable housing for every resident? What are the downsides to this? Why hasn't it happened in the past if it is so important?
There are many, many more questions that go into this conversation. I am interested to engage more specifically in these questions and help to formally engage the City into the process of working to solve the housing issues that have been identified. What will that look like? I don't know. We will get some answers if we keep thinking and looking at it though.
*So, this is a very basic exploration in the New York City project. Here in Cook County we have had many explorations into this situation and I do believe that creating a housing plan similar to this NYC plan would be a very, very good idea. What do YOU think about the NYC project or how Grand Marais could move forward to help address this situation in our community?
Here’s a write up about ice fishing for trout on the Gunflint Trail written by one of my High School friends. Glen is an outdoor writer for the St. Cloud Times.Winter trout season kicks off across Minnesota GLEN SCHMITT, Times outdoors writer 10:26 a.m. CST January 17, 2015
(Photo: Courtesy of Glen Schmitt)
Minnesota’s inland trout season opened Saturday, which means anglers can hit lakes outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in search of stream trout and lake trout. The trout season on lakes entirely within the BWCAW opened on Jan. 1.
Basically, there are two types of trout lakes within the state. Stream trout lakes are designated fisheries stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout or a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout called splake.
The other is a lake trout fishery, and the only trout species they typically have in them are lake trout. It’s rare to find a fishery with a combination of lake trout and stream trout in it.
Gunflint Trail trout
Most quality trout lakes are scattered across northeastern Minnesota and trout fishing is extremely popular throughout this region, especially during the winter months.
This weekend’s trout opener is a big deal up and down the Gunflint Trail, according to Steve Parsons, fisheries supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources in Grand Marais. Visiting and local anglers alike know that if you want to experience some exceptional trout fishing in Minnesota, the northeast is the place to go.
“We have more lakes with trout in them up in this area than anywhere in the state,” Parsons said. “Trout are the main fishing opportunities in this area during the ice fishing season and we see a lot of anglers taking advantage of it.”
Parsons added that lake trout receive the most attention in his area. Brook trout and splake also are popular species to fish for, with rainbow and brown trout garnering less fishing pressure.
Lake trout populations within the northeastern lakes have been built and stabilized through natural reproduction. Although some stocking of lake trout is done, Parsons said it just isn’t that successful.
The size structure of these lake trout really varies from one body of water to the next. Anglers will encounter fish weighing from 2 to 20 pounds, but lake trout in the 2- to 5-pound range seem to be average in most lakes.
The key to finding the biggest lake trout in the northeast is locating lakes with an abundance of ciscoes. Ciscoes, rich with oil, are a primary food source for lake trout, so they tend to grow bigger in lakes that provide ciscoes as forage.
“If ciscoes are present, that’s likely where you’ll find fish up to 20 pounds,” Parsons said. “But we do have lakes without that type of forage so the lakers don’t grow that big, but those smaller fish are the best eating trout you’ll find.”
Along the Gunflint Trail, anglers should look to lakes such as Saganaga, Greenwood, Gunflint, Clearwater, West Bearskin and Loon as likely targets for lake trout. While you can get close to a few of them with vehicles, accessing most trout lakes in this area involves using a snowmobile, snowshoes or cross-country skis.
While lake trout reproduce naturally, stream trout rely on stocking efforts by the DNR to build their numbers. Parsons said lakes in the northeast are stocked annually or every other year with some combination of stream trout.
Most stream trout run from half a pound to 11/2 pounds. But Parsons pointed out that bigger stream trout are found the farther off the Gunflint Trail you’re willing to go. It’s not uncommon to catch 2- to 4-pound brook trout and splake on select lakes tucked back in the woods.
“We have some exceptional stream trout lakes and some good-sized fish if you don’t mind putting in the effort to find them,” Parsons said. “I anticipate one of the best trout seasons in a long time; we have good ice, not much snow, and no slush so people will be able to move around on these lakes this year.”
I bet if I show Josh this video then he’s going to want to try this.
You may be wondering what the first item of business was... It is easiest if I describe the scene:
*Since Mayor Carlson, Councilor Spry, and Councilor Lenz's terms technically expired December 31st, 2014 and Councilor Sivertson is now Commissioner Sivertson, at the beginning of the meeting there was one (1) standing Council member, Mr. Tim Kennedy.
I was not just a little nervous that this honor would go to his head as he sat down at the middle of the meeting table and called the meeting to order alone. Following calling the meeting to order he said a word of thanks to the previous Councilors and Mayor, a very fitting way to start out the new year of meetings.
I echo Mr. Kennedy's words and thank Mr. Carlson, Mr. Spry, Mr. Lenz, and Ms. Sivertson for their time and commitment to the City of Grand Marais. Myself and the new Council hope to build on the foundation that they have laid to serve our community's needs in the unique way that Grand Marais demands.
After these important actions were completed was the public comment period. I was very glad to see a resident of the City bringing questions to the new Council concerning the district heating project. At present there are still many questions pertaining to that project and in order to answer your questions, we need to know them!
*I encourage any and all of you to come and ask questions at the public comment period or contribute your thoughts. That is what that time is there for!
Then it was time for the formalities. At the first meeting of each year the City has to designate the acting mayor (who fills the mayor's duties in the mayor's absence), official newspaper (the periodical that will public City announcements), the City's depositories (the banks that the City uses), and official signatories (who can sign official City business). All of these things progressed quickly with the Councilors moving, seconding, and voting on the motions to accept the proposals for each.
One last, but very important formality is how to proceed with the Council vacancy left by now-Commissioner Sivertson. Technically the Council could have appointed someone at this meeting, but the Council, recognizing the importance of that last seat, decided to solicit for candidates from the community and make that decision with more information and interested parties.
*So, if YOU or anyone you can think of are interested in helping make Grand Marais a better place by helping add perspective and insight to the Council, I very much encourage you to send me or City Hall a letter or email explaining who you are, what your connection to the City is, and what your qualifications for the position of Council are... Now, to keep things in context, qualifications for the position of Councilor can be just about anything!
Whew! All of that done and we were just getting started! The Council took well over half an hour to discuss and assign the committee and board assignments. The Council also accepted the request from the Northwoods Food Project (a group working on local food production amongst other things!) to have Council representation on their board. Below is the list and assignments as per the end of this meeting. *It is important to add that when the 5th Councilor is selected in the future, these assignments will definitely change.
Starting with City Boards and Commissions:
Public Utilities Board (the board that oversees conflicts between the City and PUC customers)
Mr. Mills, Mr. Arrowsmith DeCoux, Mr. Moody
Public Utilities Commission (the policy making and managing body for the City's Public Utilities)
Mr. Kennedy (incumbent)
Safety Committee (the committee that makes sure OSHA practices happen at the City)
Planning Commission (the body that governs city planning and zoning within the City)
Mr. Kennedy (incumbent)
Personnel Committee (the group that oversees hiring, discipline, and firing for City employees)
Mr. Arrowsmith DeCoux, Mr. Mills
Park Board (the policy making body that governs the Rec. Park and other City park lands)
North Shore Management Board (a regional group that makes and enacts policies pertaining to preserving and managing our valuable shoreline and Lake Superior water quality)
Mr. Arrowsmith DeCoux
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (a regional economic development commission that supports the development of businesses and infrastructure)
Library Board (the policy making body that governs the library)
Mr. Arrowsmith DeCoux
Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (a group that implements programs and projects to support economic development in our communities)
Cook County YMCA
Moving on to the community organizations with City Liaisons:
North House Folk School
Mr. Arrowsmith DeCoux
Cook County Local Energy Project
Active Living/Safe Routes to School
Northwoods Food Project
*If you have any concerns pertaining to any of these groups, your City Councilors would be glad to hear your comments or questions.
You still with me? It was definitely a busy meeting, but we are not even half way through yet!
The Council then voted on and appointed the City citizen representatives to the City boards and commissions. Thank you very much for all of the interest from the community! We were pleased to have so many well qualified candidates. If you showed interest and were not selected, please stay involved! We need continued participation throughout the City! Pending the acceptance of their appointments, the newly appointed citizen representatives are:
Helen Muth for the Library Board
Hal Greenwood (inclumbent) for the Economic Development Authority
George Wilkes for the Public Utilities Commission
Sally Berg and Kaye Tavernier for the Park Board
Hal Greenwood (incumbent) and Michael Garry for the Planning Commission
With all of that work done we settled into the next few items on the agenda, deciding whether the City should accept grant monies that would fund the final steps of the district heating project, seeking customer contracts, bidding out expenses, and seeking financing through state bonding.
There was a lively conversation on the matter, fueled by concerns from the community that this project is going to be an economic drag on the City as well as other logistical concerns. The Councilors discussed all of these points and finally got to the conclusion that it would be imprudent to not accept the grant monies considering that the previous City Council voted to spend $3000 of city money to pursue the grants... which were awarded as per that plan. If the previous Council put money into this project, it wouldn't make much sense for the new Council to rewrite the purpose of that investment by not accepting the grants.
The other part of the conversation, which went long and very in depth as well, was the signing of the contract with FVB Energy, the firm that has been designing the project. If the Council voted to accept the grant money, then the City would also have to enter into a contract with FVB Energy to pursue customer contracts, seek bids, and seek bonding... all in partnership with the City.
The conversation was very interesting, but basically came down to the fact that the City was ready to make that commitment based on all of the votes of previous Councils to support this project. There are many conditions though. The contract that the City will be signing is written very much in favor of the City with the City being able to suspend or terminate the contract with proper notice with no penalty. The Councilors also stated that if the City takes on responsibility for this project, there will need to be regular updates provided to the Council at upcoming meetings, a public forum to ask and answer questions, and the consideration that the standing District Heating Committee become a City committee until this process is complete. There are many pieces of information that need to be found during this project, some of which will dictate whether or not the project will continue to move forward. The City has no commitment to complete the project if these factors are not satisfactorily resolved. However, this project has been viewed as a project of regional significance by many people, including our legislators, Dave Dill and Tom Bakk, who are very interested in this project succeeding. If you have any questions about this process or the project itself, please let me know and I will do my best to connect you to the information you need!
Almost done. Just a few more things!
The Council moved to accept maintenance responsibility for any infrastructure built as a result of the TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) grant money that the City is applying for as a part of the Hwy 61 Redesign project. The grant money would fund part of any bike or pedestrian path built as a part of the redesign. This project is not slated to begin at least until 2019, so there are a lot of uncertainties in this conversation, but in order to apply for the monies from TAP the City needed to take responsibility for the infrastructure it funded.
As a final piece of business the Council accepted a bid from CR-BPS (Building Performance Specialists) to perform an energy and asset assessment on the City Hall building. This assessment will compliment the work being done to see how we can improve the Municipal Liquor Store as well as provide life cycle information and energy efficiency information for the City Hall building. The resulting report will show many ways that the City can improve the performance of City Hall in order to better serve our needs, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. This survey will be done in the upcoming months and will require additional action in the future to enact any changes suggested in the report.
OK, that's it. We adjourned at 7:07pm relieved and very satisfied with a great working session. In closing I encourage you all to come to meetings to participate in the public forum and see the process taking place.
As always, please contact me if you have any comments or questions about what happened at this meeting!
We have such amazing photographers and so many wonderful things to take pictures of in our neck of the woods.
Gail Merton Photo
Jamie Rabold photo
Find More of these awesome Gunflint Trail moose photos on Facebook.
Welcome to our winter wonderland. Conditions on our ski trails continue to be excellent. As we’ve posted previously, don’t let the low snow conditions along the North Shore concern you as you drive up here. Once you go up the hill to the Gunflint Trail, it becomes a deep snow winter.
We’re in that usual winter stage where we seem to get a little more snow each day. That’s one of the reasons we’re a great ski destination: it always seems to be snowing. Groomers have been out regularly freshening up the trails, but otherwise nothing significant has changed — no major snowfalls, no rain or melting, just regular little additions of more snow.
Please be carefully watching for moose as you come up the trail now. There have been a huge number of moose standing out in the road lately, seemingly challenging drivers to hit them. That’s not a fight you will win. Watch for their dark shadows ahead on the road if you drive up here after dark!
Here are the latest snow statistics from Golden Eagle, as measured on 1/14:
New Snow Last 24 hours: 3/8”
New Snow Last 7 days: 1-3/8”
Trail Base, Staked: 7” – 8.5” average
Snow in Woods, Staked: Low 14” High 17”
Groomed with classic tracks: 70 K
Groomed for skating: 53.4 K
Surface Conditions: Fresh Snow
Snowshoe trails: Open
Total snowfall since Nov. 1: 47.63”
Comments: Skiing is still the best it’s been all season! All trails are open, conditions are excellent, the snow is plentiful, and the wilderness is inviting, peaceful, and waiting for adventurists. Come on up and have some fun cross-country skiing; it is full-blown winter on the Gunflint Trail!
Please contact Bearskin Lodge (1-800-338-4170) or Golden Eagle Lodge (1-800-346-2203) for specific conditions and grooming information on each trail or route. Central Gunflint Ski Pass required.
Once again I’m struggling with putting Christmas away. It seems as if every year something gets left behind when the Christmas decoration boxes get put away. One year it was an Advent calendar; another year my Santa and reindeer salt shaker. It’s always something.
I was aware of this as I put away decorations this year. I was proud of myself that I had started the search and store mission before New Year’s Eve. I boxed up my Christmas village from the bay window, my crèche and the Holy Family, and our tiny Christmas tree. I packed up my Christmas pins and earrings into their pretty red and gold boxes. I found all the gift bags, rolls of wrapping paper, ribbons and put them in the under-the-bed storage box until next year.
It always takes a while to get all my seasonal linens and clothing washed and put away. I have a nice collection of about a dozen Christmas hand towels and dish towels and a couple of table cloths. They end up in the laundry basket over the holiday.
Over the years I also acquired a great assortment of holiday attire, enough that I have an all new wardrobe for a few weeks in December. I have five nice Christmas tops, a couple of sweaters, a couple of festive sweatshirts and a couple of Christmas vests. I also have nine pair of holiday socks. It takes a long time and many loads of laundry before they are all paired up and put away.
So I thought I was doing quite well when I filled up the red-topped Rubbermaid tub that holds all these Christmas clothing items. I had thoroughly swept the entire house and hidden away all signs of the holiday. Operation Christmas over was accomplished.
But, as usual, I was wrong. It took me a few days to notice what was left out this year. It is really ridiculous that I missed it, since it is front and center in my kitchen. I noticed yesterday that my dishwasher was still adorned with the magnet Christmas tree with its cheery gum drop decorations and gingerbread people. Operation Christmas over—failed.
I haven’t taken the flat Christmas tree down yet. Maybe if I leave it in a place of honor on the dishwasher, I’ll fulfill my wish that Christmas could continue. I’m always a little sad when the holidays are over.
I’m not looking forward to the day that the Harbor Park Christmas tree in downtown Grand Marais comes down or when we take down the wreath outside the News-Herald office. Both looked exceptionally lovely today with a dusting of snow. I’m not ready for the stark gray skies and frigid cold weather without the twinkling of Christmas lights.
If my little magnet tree can make the magic last a little longer, it can stay. Operation Christmas continues!
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.