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Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 11:54am
Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux
Categories: Member Feeds

Searching for Mavis

Lately, Andy and I have been searching for Mavis.

No, not that Mavis; Mavis Lake, located a half mile south of Round Lake and just east of Missing Link Lake. It’s a little puddle of a Boundary Waters lake that the DNR keeps stocked with brook trout. You can access Mavis from the easternmost point of Missing Link Lake via a 40 rod portage.

But what if there was a way to get into Mavis directly from Round, allowing you to bypass Missing Link altogether?

According to local old timers, back in the Leeds’ family time at Tuscarora, there used to be a portage from Round to Mavis that took off not far from the Round to Missing Link portage and cut southeast along a flowage. In fact, this portage was the preferable route into Mavis since the Missing Link to Mavis portage features a pretty steep uphill climb.

The trail’s not just a figment of locals’ imaginations. If you go onto the DNR’s LakeFinder website and look at Mavis’s fish survey, the DNR indicates that as of Autumn 2003, there was indeed a portage trail from Round Lake to Mavis.


Curiouser and curiouser.

There’s just one little problem. While 2003 isn’t exactly ancient history, it doesn’t take very long for BWCAW forest to reestablish itself and reclaim a portage path. Anyone who’s tried to bushwhack through Minnesota woods known it’s a very slow process mostly spent untangling yourself from balsam and aspen saplings. If the trail really hadn’t been used for over a decade, we also knew some of those saplings were going to be decent sized trees by now and portage’s path wasn’t going to be too obvious.

But even if the chances of success were low, we couldn’t not look for this neglected path. “Because it’s there,” as George Mallory would say.

We set out a couple weeks back, choosing to cut up the Round Lake shoreline just below the cliffs near the Missing Link portage. We waded through snow, clambered up cliffs (and occasionally slide down cliffs), had amble amounts of snow fall down our necks and while I was sure we just had to make it over the hillside to reach (or at least see) Mavis, Andy’s GPS told a different story. After a half hour crashing through brush, we’d only made it about 2/10ths of a mile away from Round Lake. We ceded defeat and turned around. At least we enjoyed some great views on a beautiful bluebird day.

Looking towards the Brant Lake entry point across Round Lake

But we weren’t going give up just yet. Thanks to some information that came in from a Leeds’ family member, we were able to pinpoint the starting point for the elusive Round to Mavis portage. Last Sunday afternoon, we set out again, slightly more hopeful that we’d clamp eyes on Mavis this go-round.

We found the starting point easily enough along the shoreline and we wound our way through the young forest, trying to determine if we were going through growth that wasn’t older than 12 years.

Where’s Waldo?

But it didn’t take long before we ran into this particular winter’s obstacle of brush bent over by the weight of a very heavy snowfall back in mid-December. The bent over brush really changes the look of the forest and it was hard to tell how to navigated around the low areas most affected by the “bend over.”

Undeterred, we pressed on. . . through waist deep snow that pushed up our pant legs and through low hanging balsam branches that tried to steal our hats. It was pretty clear we weren’t on the right path, but by the time we acknowledged that, we were closer to Mavis than to Round and it made more sense to just keep moving forward, albeit at a snail’s pace through the thick forest.

Then, at long last, in the words of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame: “Ocian in view! Oh! the joy!”

Beautiful Mavis lake.

We weren’t about to turn around and head back the way we’d just came, so we found the portage to Missing Link and looped back to Round Lake.

Oh the joy: flagging! Mavis to Missing Link portage.

By the time we were back at our starting point, it was about two hours later and we’d gone a whole . . . wait for it . . . mile.

Moral of the story: It’s totally possible to make it to Mavis Lake from Round Lake. But for this winter at least, the Missing Link to Mavis portage is the best bet. We’ll leave rediscovery of the Round Lake to Mavis portage for a time when there isn’t 30 inches of snow and miles of downed brush in the woods. For the time being, Mavis remains both lost and found. Until next time . . .

Categories: Member Feeds

Scenes from the Beargrease

Boundary Waters Blog - 12 hours 48 min ago

Nace Hagemann took some amazing photos of this year’s Beargrease, these are just a few. Find more on his website.


Categories: Member Feeds

Where’s the Ice?

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 7:04am

It doesn’t look like I’ll be making a trek out to the ice caves near the Apostle Islands this year. It doesn’t look like many people will be walking on the Great Lakes at all this year. The mild temperatures have kept the big lakes relatively ice free. That’s a bummer for some but for others it’s a blessing.

The shipping industry is happy for the lack of ice on the Great Lakes. Not only have they been able to extend their season but also they will most likely not have a delay to start in the spring. Ice  breakers will not need to forge the way for the ships unless we receive some drastically cold weather soon.

Find our more about the ice on the Great Lakes or lack there of it by reading this article.

Ice coverage

Categories: Member Feeds

Arrowhead Board Approves New Electric Rates

Arrowhead Electric - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 11:10am


At the monthly meeting on January 26, 2016, Arrowhead Cooperative’s Board of Directors did something they have been able to hold off for four years. The board approved a new rate schedule for all services.

The Cooperative has made every effort to maintain the rates the board set in 2012 by cutting operating expenses, sharing costs with the broadband buildout, and responsibly managing our debt. Increases in Arrowhead Cooperative’s costs, however, can no longer be absorbed and the Board made the difficult but responsible decision to increase electric rates.

The increases are not large, ranging from 2-2.5% for most rate programs, but any increase in cost affects our membership. These adjustments are necessary for the financial health of the cooperative and for our continued ability to provide safe and reliable power to our members.

The chart below lists the new and old rates for residential services.


Residential Service

2016 Rate

2012-2015 Rate

General Service (winter)



General Service (June-Aug)



Off-peak (ETS)



Dual Fuel



Heat Pump



Service Availability Charge




These rates will be in effect on the bills members receive at the beginning of March. It is our goal to pass along pricing information to our members in a timely manner. Unplanned increases due to factors such as increased purchased power costs and inflation pressures often give us less time to communicate about pricing adjustments. More information about the new rates will be available in the March newsletter and included with the bills. Arrowhead Cooperative offers a number of options to help members manage their power bills. Some of those services are automatic payment options, budget billing, and energy efficiency programs. To learn more about these please contact us at or call the office at 800-864-3744.

Categories: Member Feeds

SPECIAL MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT: Retail Development Discussion

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 10:56am
Here are the details:


City Council Chambers

5:00pm start time

Here is the reason:

It has become apparent to me that there is a desire and need in the community to discuss how the City handles certain types of retail development in our city. I have received this message through the nearly 1,000 people who have signed onto a particular petition as well as the roughly 50 people that have personally contacted me with their feelings about said development.

In response, I have called a Special Meeting of the City Council to discuss how the Council would like to deal with business development in Grand Marais that will include at least the following items:

1. Public Forum for community members to offer comments concerning their feelings. 

*Let it be known that the Council will likely not respond to questions posed during this forum for need of consideration of the answers to these questions. The Council will do its best to address the questions upon drafting a plan to address the current sentiment of the community.

*As much time as necessary to hear the comments from the community will be allotted for this section of the meeting.

*Also, at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, February 10th, the Public Forum will be limited to 15 minutes of discussion on any and all issues, so if there are comments to be made during that meeting, please keep them concise or appoint a spokesperson to handle that discussion.

2. Council Discussion on Retail Development in Grand Marais.

*This section of the meeting will be for the Council to discuss among themselves the considerations brought forward by the community and the logistics that we are bound by as a Statutory City. Public comment is not appropriate at this time. Please be sure to make your public comments during the Forum.

**To be clear: This is a Special Meeting, which means that it has to be advertised 72 hours in advance, which is why Monday is the date selected. It is the soonest possible date for this meeting.

As a Special Meeting, the agenda will be set and there will not be any items added to the agenda at the meeting. To do so would be unlawful.

No action will likely be taken on any issues at the Special Meeting, but a plan will be drafted to address the issues deemed necessary by the City Council at the Wednesday, February 10th meeting.

As always, please let me know if you have any comments. If you have a comment that you would like to be considered, please come to the meeting.
Categories: Member Feeds

Freezing My Pants Off

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 7:34am

It hasn’t been that cold out this winter but someone knows how to have a good time when it does get cold.  Tom Grotting from Minneapolis freezes pants and places them around his neighborhood for fun. I might just have to try this sometime!

Freezing Pants


Categories: Member Feeds

Fiber Retreat, Beargrease Song Cycle, Art & Music

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 5:24am

Tim Mlodozhniec took this incredible photo, “Sea Smoke in Duluth,”  when sub-zero temps raised clouds of steam over Lake Superior.

Historic photo of John Beargrease, the toboggan he loaded with mail and his sled dogs that pulled it up the North Shore in the winter.

It was a big week of sled dog racing on the North Shore, and it concludes on Friday night with the premiere of a concert about the culture and history of sled dog mushing in northern Minnesota.

Crazy Cold Beautiful: The John Beargrease Song Cycle” will be performed by the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra, directed by Bill Beckstrand, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. Friday night.  A second concert will be held at the Sacred Heart Music Center, 201 West 4th St.,  Duluth, at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Composed by Robin Eschner, a McKnight visiting composer from Sonoma, Calif., the song cycle reflects the experiences and realities of the people who have lived and worked on the North Shore for generations. The music was inspired by the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and by John Beargrease himself, an Ojibwe who delivered mail by dogsled and boat up and down the North Shore from 1880-1900.  The Marathon, which concluded on Wednesday, celebrates his spirit and tenacity.  Take Jack, Eschner’s music ensemble from California, students from Sawtooth Elementary School and the Stonebridge Singers Drum will also perform at the concert in Grand Marais.

Katy Reid of the Minneapolis StarTribune has written an excellent story about Eschner and the song cycle. To read it, click here.

There are lots of other fun things going on this weekend, too.

Briand Morrison will talk about his music and play a few tunes on The Playlist on Thursday at 9 p.m.

On Thursday night, jazz guitarist Briand Morrison will be featured on WDSE’s The Playlist. In the interview, Morrison, who is a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, talks about his thoughts and creative processes as he composed  music for the DVD about his father: “Musical Impressions: The Art of George Morrison.” The Playlist airs at 9 p.m.

And the Grand Marais Library will screen “Adam’s Apples,” a film about an ex-con who is temporarily assigned to live in a religious enclave and the shenanigans that result from his “assignment” to make an apple pie from an apple tree on the property. To see the trailor, click here.

Print your own Valentine on Saturday!

On Saturday, the Grand Marais Art Colony will host Community Ink Day: Print Your Valentines from 1-4 p.m. It’s an all-ages event, and participants will be able to print their very own Valentines under the leadership of Jerry Riach. $5 donation.

And on Saturday night, the Grammy Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers will perform for a family event at the Summit Chalet on Lutsen Mountains at 7 p.m.. There will be horse-drawn trolley rides, a pizza party, fireworks and more from 5:30-8:30 p.m. For more information, call 218-406-1320.

Workshops and events will be held at North House Folk School and the Grand Marais Art Colony.

One of the most anticipated events of the winter starts next week. The Northern Fibers Retreat, sponsored by North House Folk School, the Grand Marais Art Colony and the Northwoods Fiber Guild, will feature a wide variety of classes at both locations as well as demonstrations, Lunch & Learn lectures, an art exhibit and a show-and-share. The retreat is from Feb. 10-14.

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the classes: bead embroidery, birds & botanicals quilting bee, beginning knitting, Sami knitting traditions, spinning, felted baskets, weaving, lace knitting, making a birch bark

Wool and all things fiber are featured at the Retreat.

mason jar basket, a winter natural dye workshop … the list goes on and on. There is also a workshop about printing on clay, creating cut-paper art as well as making buttons with glass, to name a few more.

There will be a number of community gatherings as well.

On Thursdays, Feb. 11

  • North House will host Fireside Fibers Open Studio and Sheep Clothing: A Primer at 7 p.m. Participants can bring projects to work on, and sheep farmer Janis Reuter will offer an informal presentation on wool in all its variety.

Detail from “Down the Rabbit Hole,” a paper cut by Andrea Martin, is one of the pieces that will be exhibited in the Instructors Show at the Art Colony.

On Friday, Feb.12

  • Lunch & Learn, noon,  North House Folk School: “Norwegian Wool: Treasures in a Telemark Stabbur.”  Carol Colburn will talk about an international fibers project in Vinje, Telemark, Norway. Pre-registration is required for the catered lunch. Call 387-9762 to register.
  • Fibers Retreat Instructors Exhibition, Grand Marais Art Colony. Opening reception, 5-7 p.m.
  • Show & Share hosted by the Northwoods Fiber Guild, Grand Marais Art Colony, 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Feb.13

  • Lunch & Learn, noon, North House Folk School:Hand-carved Stamps for Printing.” Award-winning designer Jeanne McGee will demonstrate hand carving stamps for printing on fabric. Pre-registration required for the catered lunch. Call 387-9762 to register.

To see the entire Northern Fiber Retreat schedule, click here.

“Artists’ Proof: A Selection of Prints from the LU (Lakehead University) Archives” is one of the exihbitions opening at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay on Friday.

In Thunder Bay, the Definitely Superior Art Gallery will hold a gala opening reception for three new exhibits from 7-10 p.m.(EST) 0n Friday, Feb. 5: “Isolation/Insulation,” a collaborative exhibit of work by Scott Poluyko, Katie Lemieux and Susan Kachor Conlon; “Odeum,” an installation by boyRoland; and “Artists’ Proof,” a selection of prints from Lakehead University.

At the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, the Tamarack Wind Quintet will perform “Breaking Wind at the Gallery” at 2 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 7. Inspired by the exhibition of “For Better or For Worse: the Comic Art of Lynn Johnston,” members of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra have created a concert of their favorite music written for cartoons, by cartoonists, or just a little silly. Free. All invited.

In Ely, the 1st annual Kick-Off for the Ely Winter Festival will be held at 7 p.m. in Whiteside Park on Friday, Feb. 5. Processions, food and the lighting of the Fire Bowl are just a few of the activities planned. The winter festival continues through Feb. 14 with an ArtWalk in downtown Ely, ski races, snow carving, dances and more. Visit for information about all the events.

“Ed, North Shore Fisherman” by Edie Hangartner Michalski won the People’s Choice Award at the Duluth Art Institute Membership Show.

In Duluth, Edie Hangartner Michalski won the People’s Choice Award at the Duluth Art Institute Membership Show for her portrait of Ed Holte. For this piece, Michalski was inspired by Mary White, who paints ordinary, everyday people doing their work. Michalski realized she wanted to celebrate the fishing tradition of her family and sourced material from Brian Tofte, who owns a series of historic photos documenting the area’s fishing history.

“Ed, North Shore Fisherman” is the first in a planned series of portraits of Norwegian herring fishermen. Ed Holte fished from Wright Island in Siskiwit Bay, Isle Royale. His father-in-law was Sam Johnson, who founded Sam Johnson & Sons Fisheries, Inc., in Duluth in the early 1900s.  The Annual Membership Exhibition is on view at the Depot through Feb. 21.

And John Gregor’s photography exhibit continues in the Great Hall at Tettegouche State Park. He has 70 images in the show.

There’s lots of music this week. Here’s the schedule.

Thursday, Feb. 4

  • Timmy Haus, Moguls Grille & Tap Room, 3:30 p.m.
  • Plucked Up String Band, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4:30 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Billy Johnson,  Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.
  • Bug Lite, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 5:

  • Billy Johnson, Moguls Grille & Tap Room, 3;30 p.m.
  • Dat Dere Jazz Quartet, Cascade Lodge Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Crazy, Cold, Beautiful, John Beargrease Song Cycle Concert, Borealis Chorale and Orchestra, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 7 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Reina del Cid, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Willie Waldman Project: 20 Below Zero Tour, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 6:

  • Brothers Burn Mountain, Moguls Grille,  3:15 p.m.
  • Pete Kavanaugh, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Pushing Chain, Lutsen Resort, 7 p.m.
  • Reina del Cid, Gun Flint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.
  • Cloud Cult, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 7:

  • Timmy Haus, Gun Flint Tavern, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 8:

  • Briand Morrison, Moguls Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Dan Israel, Songwriter Series, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 9:

  • Boyd Bump Blomberg, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 10:

Since many people were focused on dogs and mushing this week, we thought we’d run a few photos we found.

First up is a Thomas Spence photo of two beautiful sled dogs taken during the Beargrease.

Photo by Thomas Spence.


When we saw this cutie, we couldn’t resist. He probably doesn’t qualify as a sled dog, though.

“Buddy” by Jake Klein.


Here are some of the other wildlife shots we found this week.

This snowshoe hare was caught by David Johnson. He calls it “Quite the Camo.”

Here’s another shot by David Johnson. “Such a curious little marten.”


“Photo by David Johnson.

Here’s a great shot of a common redpoll springing off a tree branch.

Common Redpoll by Michael Furtman.


And here’s the weirdest photo of wild turkeys I’ve ever seen. They were having quite the fight, according to the photographer, who just happened by in the middle of it. Yikes!

“Wild turkey fight” by Kelly Doyle.


And here’s an interesting shot from the DNR’s Eagle Cam in St. Paul.

“Mom on the nest,” DNR Eagle Cam, after a snow storm. The bald eagle laid three eggs last week and she and “Dad”have been keeping them toasty warm.


On to ice and snow …

Ice-Covered Shoreline by Paul Sundberg.



“Not Sleeping, Just Blanketed” by Kristopher Bowman.


“Snowman family enjoying a Grand Marais sunrise,” by David Johnson.


An aerial view of Grand Marais at sunset by Bryan Hansel.

Last week, we ran a photograph that Christian Dalbec took when he was in Hawaii shooting huge waves and surfers successfully, or unsuccessfully, riding them. This week, he’s back on the North Shore and caught this adventurer.

Surfer at Stoney Point by Christian Dalbec.


And finally, this wonderful winter wonderland shot by Jeff Rennicke.

“A certain slant of light: by Jeff Rennicke.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!












































































Categories: Member Feeds

Winter on the Superior Hiking Trail

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:46am

We all know how enjoyable a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail is but did you know it is just as fun, if not more in the winter? Why don’t you find out for yourself by taking a guided hike with the SHT crew this winter?

The next one is coming up on February 13th, a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

February 13 Snowshoe Hike 10:00 Sucker River Trailhead to Fox Farm Pond Campsite and Back

2.4 miles total. Snowshoe through spruce-balsam forest and over the Sucker River Bridge on a gradual climb to maple forest and the Fox Farm Pond Campsite. Meet at Sucker River Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 14.9, turn north (inland) on Homestead Rd (Co. Rd. 42) and go 5.75 mi. Turn left on W. Knife River Rd. and go 0.5 mi. Turn right on App Rd and go 1.5 mi to intersection with Two Harbors Rd. App Rd. changes to Fox Farm Rd (Co. Rd. 266) here. Continue straight on Fox Farm Rd. 5.3 mi to parking lot on left.

And if you love the Superior Hiking Trail then why not consider joining their board? They are looking for members so fill out an application if you’re interested and hope to see you on the Trail!

SHTA Seeking Four New Board Members
SHTA Board elections will be held in May at the Hike Fest. We are currently seeking applications of people interested in serving on the board.
We are looking for a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds. Some of our identified needs include:
finance background;
someone with experience with integrated accounting/database/fulfillment systems to help SHTA transition to a new system;
civil engineering or bridge design background;
someone from Cook County and someone from the Duluth area.
But all applications are welcome.
How does the board do its work?
The 15 member board meets on the North Shore six times a year, each board member serves on a committee that meets prior to the regular board meeting, and board members serve three-year terms.
Please contact the SHTA office for questions and for the position description and application or download the information from our website. The application deadline is Friday, February 26th.

Fun on the Trail

Categories: Member Feeds

6 More Weeks of Winter

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 7:44pm

The Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter this Groundhog’s Day and that is fine by me. There are lots of ski trails I want to ski, I need to get my snowshoes on the snow and I would really love to wet a fishing line through the ice. Besides, with the warm and mild temperatures we’ve had it doesn’t seem like we’ve had winter at all.

Groundhog? Nope Pine Marten

Categories: Member Feeds

Happy Groundhogs Day !

Well, we’re halfway thru winter and depending on what time you came outside this morning, you may or may not have seen your shadow.  To be on the safe side, we should all plan on at least six more weeks of winter and hope for the best !  Inside the south Care Center addition, the sheetmetal crews are busy installing duct work and the electricians are running their receptacles and light switches.


electrical outlets

copper piping

new electrical panels

inside north Care Center additon

view from the Care Center activity area to the construction zone

View from above of both the new Care Center additions

Categories: Member Feeds

Council Worksession: Public Utilities Facility and Comprehensive Planning

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 12:57pm
Last Wednesday before the regular City Council meeting, the Council met at 4:30 to hash out and get a better grip on the process that will be followed for the development of the Public Works Facility for Grand Marais. There was a set agenda for the meeting with 2 major items:

-Property Issues (what to do prior to development)
-Next Steps (Timelines, proposals, decision points)

There was another item though, and that was a discussion of the Council Priority Timeline, which carries a lot of significance for the work that is planned for 2016 and beyond. It was brought up by Councilor Benson that we should discuss these things in a timeline focused manner so that we can start making plans for the many projects that have been brought to the Council's attention and that have been planned. Here is a short list of the projects that fit that description:

-PU Facility (2016)
-HWY 61 Reconstruction (2018)
-Municipal Parking Lot (2016?)
-Public Bathrooms (????)
-Liquor Store Renovation (????)
-DNR Boat Launch (????)
-City Hall (????)
-Dark Skies Certification (2016-2017)
-Workforce Housing Development (2016-2017)
-Ordinance Re-Codifying (????)
-Community Solar Farm (????)
-1st St. Reconstruction (????)

*I want to be very clear that I put estimated dates on these projects and did not assign a date to other projects because they are estimates or simply have not been spec-ed out and accepted by the City yet and thus do not have a viable timeframe to mention. These are all simply projects that have been discussed by the City and that got our specific attention at this particular meeting.

Taking that one step further, these timelines were being discussed in the wider scope of Comprehensive Planning, which the Council is committed to taking on this year (2016). As a result of this commitment, the Council will have a "Comprehensive Planning 101" meeting in February to get the process started and to create some specific expectations concerning what we would like to accomplish through the process. This is very exciting for me because I believe that we have a lot that we can do to create a Comprehensive Plan that reflects the desires of the residents of Grand Marais and the type of City we want to be and can be.

So that conversation mainly resulted in the Council agreeing to set a date in February specifically for Comprehensive Planning conversation and that we would begin to pull in the expertise and resources of the Moving Matters group to assist the City in this process. It was stressed a number of times, however, that Moving Matters will be supporting the City in putting together public meetings and other information gathering events, but the City Council will be driving the process at all times. With that said, now would be a good time to start thinking about what Grand Marais means to you and how you would like to participate in the Comprehensive Planning process. The more people that participate, the stronger the plan will be.

Ok, moving on to the Public Works Facility:

We started the conversation by asking what we should do with the property before we begin construction on it. There are currently a number of buildings on the property in widely varying levels of repair that the City needs to figure out what it is going to do with.

It was clear that the buildings on the South side of the property, where the construction of the facility will mainly occur, will need to be removed. There has also been interest coming in to City Hall about the buildings on the North side of the property. The Council spoke generally in favor of having a sale/silent auction in the spring (April or May) to find new homes for many of those buildings if there are community members who would be interested in moving them. This has not been finalized, but it seemed that there was strong sentiment that this would be a good way of getting rid of some of those buildings.

Another consideration was the overall appearance of the property and the fact that it is now in City control. Should we invest any staff time and resources into performing any site maintenance? This could mean taking down various unsightly landscaping elements, it could mean adding landscaping to improve the appearance from the street, etc. The Council thought that there are a few things that could be removed to improve the appearance, but largely leaned toward keeping the lawn mowed and the trimming done, but not really investing much more time into it... this is because there isn't a strong feeling as to what should happen with that front piece of the land and thus we should hold our hand on it so we don't unnecessarily spend money doing something that needs to be undone later.

That was another conversation that we had: What DO we want to do with the extra land up there? The conversation really didn't bring up any solid ideas that were unanimous, so we left that conversation in the "brainstorming" status and will return to it when we have a better idea of what we will be using of the land.

Moving on to the NEXT STEPS!

The City's architecture firm, LHB, has been contacted and gave us an estimate for about $3000 to provide us with detailed drawings of how the facility would fit on that property. This piggy-backs on the plans that LHB drew up for a previous Council that was considering building this project in the Cedar Grove Business Park. That original design came back with a $3.5 million price tag, which included almost a million dollars of "grade and fill" due to the landscape of the lots identified. It is assumed that the estimates for the new property will be significantly less than that. The Council also charged LHB with giving us options. The primary estimate they will provide us will have the full buildout of the facility, which would allow the City to store and house all of its Public Utility equipment and offices in one facility. The estimate will then offer suggestions of different items that could be removed from the plan and how much money that would save the project and its consequences. We viewed this as an ideal organization as it gives us flexibility to customize the project and keep our costs down as much as possible.

That gets us to the timeline. When can we expect these plans? When are we going to start seeing something happen up there? There is a tentative schedule for these events and although it is ambitious, I believe that it is completely do-able. Here is the tentative schedule for this project:

February - March: LHB will prepare the estimates and site design/assessment
*Decision Point #1: Council will have to choose what the facility will include and total project scope

March - April: LHB will work up a full facility design for the new site which will include architectural drawings and material lists... In essence these are the building plans for the project.
*Decision Point #2: Council will have to approve the design for the project and the building plans

May: The City will have to put together a financing plan for the project that will include monies from the capital reserve accounts of the PUC and the City as well as some borrowed money. Once this is complete the City will authorize the bidding process and the request for bids will go out.
*Decision Point #3: Council will have to decide on the financing plan that the City will be taking and will have to select a contractor from the bids received.

June - October/November: Construction of the facility will take place.

This is the plan that the City is going for. It calls for a steady movement through the project and relies on good bids from contractors, which we believe is very possible.

That was the bulk of the meeting and the items that the Council considered. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Categories: Member Feeds

Happy February

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:08am

It’s February already? Where did January go? No sense looking behind and wondering where it went it’s time to look ahead and see where you are going.

Cross-country skiing? Snowmobiling? If you want to find out how the trails are then you can check out this page on the Minnesota DNR website. It shows you how much snow is in each part of the state and lists the conditions of the trails. If you are looking for specific information about Cook County then check out our local page for up to date information.

Or give us a call at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, we’re out and about and can let you know our favorites so you can have a Happy February!

Categories: Member Feeds

Back on Track's

Murmur Creek Observatory - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 4:18pm
Well it's been a strange few weeks and thanks are in order.

After many years of hard use and little to no maintenance I had to do some repair work on our track set-up.A call to David at
  "American Track Truck"
got the project started,I have to say he's great to work with.Not only is the service and shipping well above average
 but his pricing made the repair very reasonable.I had everything I needed in just a few days!Thank you for being such a great company to deal with!
Thank you
"Tire and Auto Lodge"
The four turns of the front torsion bar was perfect,
that raised the 1999 Rodeo a strong 1inch

Big thanks to
 Dean Berneking,The use of the heated shop with a swinging boom chain hoist, and his help,  made the job an easy one.  Installation is much nicer in a warm shop
Last but not least, "Cook County Towing" for their great service. They picked up the truck at Dean's and delivered  it within 3 miles of our house.
Now to the next problem,With the shoulder surgery late in the fall I didn't get a chance to stage my winter equipment properly.This became painfully obvious when I needed to get my drag out to groom the road.  Not only was the drag behind a pile of snow, it was behind a loaded two place snowmobile trailer  that was behind the snow pile.

Here is a photo of what piss poor planning (PPP) looks like:

The thing sticking out behind the trailer is the tongue for the drag.
By this time the snow pile is rock hard, I came up with a elegant solution,ram the crap out of it with the back of my pick-up until it was soft enough to shovel.
Ramming it got me to this point.

After shoveling to find the tongue I hooked on to it with a strap and pulled the tongue right out from underneath the trailer. 

Thank god Pat was there to give me that look of  "What the hell were you thinking"
So now I have a heavy box of snowmobiles that I can no longer moveand the snowmobiles only unload out of the back. Someone I know described this as"screwed"That was enough damage for one day, so we decided to try again the next day.
Over night I came up with a plan, not a great one, but the only one I could think of.We started by cleaning off the top of the trailer so we could open the top, I then ran two straps, one under and the other through the trailer connecting them together in the backthen closed the trailer. 

This finely worked and the trailer was free, I now had a opening to retrieve my drag,

Running straps to the drag we were able to pull it onto the driveway.

after the pull

ready to pull
That's two day of my life I'll never get back.

Here is a short video of the drag in action.

My cat Itchy had a visitor last week, normally it's the white menace (snowshoe rabbit)but this week it's a brown menace (pine marten?)

More later, thanks for reading

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Beargrease Begins!

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 6:58am

Catch the beginning of the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Two Harbors, Minnesota. You can follow along on the journey by checking out this page of the website to find out where each musher is located thanks to their GPS.

The forecast calls for warm temperatures which isn’t ideal for the dogs. With their fur coats they will have to have frequent rests in order to not overheat and/or get dehydrated. The snow pack will be soft making the trail slower than normal as well.

Here’s wishing all of the mushers and their four-legged companions and safe and fun journey along the North Shore of Minnesota.

Categories: Member Feeds

Plenty of Snow for Winter Fun

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 10:11am

We’re lucky to live in a part of the United States that receives plenty of snow. I always say, “If it is going to be cold then we better have snow so we can enjoy it.”

Even though our winter has been mild to say the least we have been able to enjoy our snow time activities.  I’ve been out cross-country skiing numerous times and the trails are in great condition. Of course I would like to spend more time skiing and get my snowshoes out but there are only so many daylight hours.

Mike was able to go for a snowmobile ride the other day. He took Matt and Cassidy along and they had a fabulous time. They were amazed at the views and all of the animal tracks. Mike in the lead, saw tracks of wolf, moose, lynx and fox but no otter slides.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience winter on the Gunflint Trail then come on up to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. It’s a magical place and there is plenty of snow for fun.

Snowmobiling Fun

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League of MN Cities Training: The Loveable City

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 4:10pm
I know you read that title and think, "Boy, that sounds corny." It kind of does, but the substance of the training was actually very good. The speaker for this training was Peter Kageyama, a public organizer who has spent his life doing a number of eclectic and strange things on his path to writing a few books on city development and the emotional attachment that people have to their places.

He started off the training by asking us how we talk about our City. What are the things that we actually SAY when we talk about our City? How about if we are talking to neighbors? How about to visitors? How about to family members or close friends who don't live here? I thought this was really interesting because sometimes I talk about the problems that I have had put in my face by being the mayor and sometimes I talk about the social structures in our communities and sometimes I talk about the amazing, awesome, incredible things that happen here... But I don't often talk about all of those things to the same people...

Then he asked how we think about our City. What goes on in your head when someone else talks about your City? What internal monologue to you have running when you are running errands? This was really interesting as well. There are some critical/cynical things that I think about our City, but it was mostly good stuff I recalled thinking of. Sure there are things that drag us down, but we can overcome most of those things...

Of course, he had us to this exercise to illustrate that everyone in your City is probably at a slightly different place in those conversations... Fair enough... Then he showed us a graph that said that only about a quarter of people were actually attached to the place that they live. What does that mean? About 25% of people in any given City view part of their personality and existence being directly linked to the place that they live.

I thought, "It has to be more in Grand Marais..." but I wanted to hear him out.

This was all introduction to show that there is a lot that can be done to create this sense of attachment and investment in your community. He shared a few examples of things that make people feel a stronger emotional attachment to their City:
- Bike friendly cities typically have a higher attachment rate
-Walkable cities similarly do
-Pet friendly cities do well on this as well
-Youth friendly cities excel in this-- This means that there are positive outlets for youth and safe options for youth to participate in.
-Opportunities to play also make a city more loveable as do little things around the community like parks, public art installations, gardens, murals, pedestrian spaces, etc...
*A lot of times it doesn't matter if the things offered are super polished; all of these things increase social capital and should be viewed as valuable!

He said that there are ways that cities can achieve these things, but the most valuable way is to empower what he calls "Co-Creators." Co-Creators are the people that get stuff done in your community. They are everyday people with an idea that they want to see happen, they are kids with a school project, they are businesspeople with a vision, they are that grumpy guy who really wants a place to sit that's quiet... These are people with energy that can accomplish awesome things if they are encouraged and given space to do so...

Now, I don't think that we have any shortage of these people in Grand Marais, so encouraging these people can get a little exhausting and may lead to some conflicts because we don't have that much space, but you know what, I still agree that it is important to encourage these people! Good ideas have legs, so let them walk!

He also talked about "Love Notes" and "Daggers."

Love Notes are the things that you really appreciate about your place and that make you feel a connection to it. Daggers are the things that do the opposite. Obviously his advice was to minimize the Daggers and go out of your way to increase the Love Notes. Turn the Daggers into Love Notes. Invest in the problem areas and then you try to give them new meaning to make them Love Notes. Simple and brilliant. I can identify a dozen things that would qualify for this consideration in my mind...

He spent a lot of time going over projects that other Cities have done to create a sense of space, many of which I feel Grand Marais already partially does, but there were many ideas that I thought were absolutely brilliant. For example, the City of Grand Rapids took actual video of people in their city lip syncing to the song American Pie to show that their city is vibrant and not dying. You can find it on youtube. There were entrepreneurs doing ridiculous, but awesome promotions to build community around their businesses, there were community story-telling initiatives, temporary pop-up parks that travel around the town, fairy doors, tiny public sculptures around town as a scavenger hunt, taking pieces of the City's history and developing them into public spaces, the list went on and on.

By and large it was a very inspiring experience that got me to think of the City in a new light with a number of opportunities and great energy. I have the book if any of you would like to borrow it and read it as well!

I will leave it there although there was a lot more to the training on the technical side of HOW a city can inspire and encourage its residents to get into these sorts of projects.
Categories: Member Feeds

City Council Meeting 1-27-2016

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 3:21pm
The City Council has been very busy this week with a few of our Councilors going to a League of MN Cities training in the Cities and with us having a worksession regarding the Public Utilities Facility project plans. I will be writing up a synopsis of each of those events for you shortly, but thought that I would get through the regular City Council meeting first!

The Council had already been in our worksession on the Public Utilities Facility before the regular meeting, but we wrapped that up, took a few minutes to gather ourselves, and then jumped into our regular meeting.

After calling the meeting to order, I opened up the public forum and no one spoke, so the public forum was closed and we moved on to the Consent Agenda.

The Consent Agenda had the usual three things on it (Approval of Agenda, Approval of Meeting Minutes of previous meeting, and Payment of Bills). We added to the Consent Agenda the American Legion's Bingo permit for offering Bingo on the 27th of February, the 19th of March, the 16th of April, and the 7th of May. We had received that application that day and thought that we could squeeze it in (so we did!). We also added an item to the agenda, which was the consideration of a class action lawsuit that the City is eligible for.  With those changes, the Consent Agenda was unanimously passed.

That means we can all go down to the Legion for Bingo once a month starting in February!

The next thing on the agenda was to have a conversation about the Arrowhead Animal Rescue Service Contract that the City has with the animal rescue group. It was brought up to the Council at the last meeting that the contract was expired and that the group has been offering its services without a contract with the City. We looked a little closer and found that the contract has an auto-renewal clause in it, so the City and Arrowhead Animal Rescue have had a contract in place all along, which is good. We still took a look at the contract though and decided that there was no reason for us to change anything with it, so we acknowledged the service that they provide for the City and took no specific action on the contract. Councilor Moody will continue to represent the Council to the animal rescue group and will keep us informed of any developments with the group.

After that conversation we had a thorough and kind of round-about conversation regarding the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities' request to all member Cities to pass a resolution in favor of supporting Local Government Aid payments to Cities in Greater Minnesota.

*A little explanation of all of this:

1. CGMC (Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities)--This is an advocacy coalition of a number of cities outside of the Metro Area that focuses on and promotes issues that affect typically smaller communities that have challenges not faced by larger cities or cities in the Metro Area. Grand Marais is a member of this organization and has found it useful in representing us in areas such as housing and economic development.

2. LGA (Local Government Aid)-- This is a pool of money determined by the State Legislature to be divvied up to the Cities of MN based on a very complicated formula that includes population, population growth, unemployment rate, median income, square mileage, jobs per capita, housing inventory, housing value, property tax rate, etc, etc... I don't ever pretend to understand the formula, but you can download the spreadsheet of all of the determining information HERE. LGA can be used by the receiving City as property tax relief or any lawful expenditures (operations, special projects, etc).

The CGMC was very concerned about a spending bill that the MN House of Reps put forward that would have cut ALL LGA payments to cities, thus creating some big holes in these cities' budgets. In reaction, CGMC has created a resolution that encourages legislators to reconsider by showing that LGA is very important and needs to be maintained.  They want all member cities to sign it to show how big of a deal this is...

Our conversation started very favorable to the resolution, because it would be good for us to support other cities who would be dramatically affected by the cutting of LGA, but Grand Marais only receives about $55,000 of LGA and that is only because there is a special piece of legislation in place that grants us some LGA because we are the only municipality in our county (among a few other factors). So, LGA isn't really a critical part of our budget and under the current calculations we shouldn't get any anyway. This thinking started switching the attitude in the room. After that we started talking about precedent. If we signed on to this resolution saying that LGA was a big deal to us and that it is essential to our operation, but we don't fit into the formula, that could create a problem for us in the future if LGA were to be cut, or increased for that matter... The last piece of the conversation was that our situation just didn't match the language of the resolution and the Council felt that if we wanted to make a statement on LGA we should research the City's situation (like why our LGA has gone down from $300,000+ to the current $55,000) and create a statement that truly reflects that. There was a motion made to support the resolution, but it failed in the vote unanimously. You don't see that happen very often, but it was a great conversation none-the-less!

The next item was a very interesting one as well! The City of Grand Marais has been offered a piece of art by an artist with close personal ties to the area, and the City doesn't really know how to handle that! When former Councilor Sivertson was serving she was working on creating a "Public Art Policy" or an "Arts Commission" for the City so that we can better handle these generous offers of art. How do we quality control the art? What is the right character of the art? Where can it go and not go? These are all things that came up. It was suggested that this be a topic for Comprehensive Planning this year, but the Council was not wanting to re-create the wheel in these conversations so I agreed to speak with former Councilor Sivertson and other art leaders in our community to get a pulse on where those conversations were left so that we can continue them. I have made contact with these people and will be reporting back to the Council at the next meeting. It is an exciting concept to add to the City though!

Stay tuned for more about that!

Finally we got to the Class Action Lawsuit information. Again, a little background:

Grand Marais runs its own water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. These plants make sure that our drinking water is treated and safe as well as making sure that any water re-introduced to the lake meets State criteria for cleanliness. There are a number of natural processes that these plants take advantage of to treat our water, but there are also some chemicals that we need to buy/use to achieve the state standards. One of these chemicals is Aluminum Sulfate. Aluminum Sulfate is useful because it makes fine particles present in water stick together, thus making them bigger and easier to filter out of our water supply. Well, it turns out that the company the City has been buying this chemical from for several years has been price fixing and participating in non-competitive bidding so that they can keep the price of this chemical artificially high. That means that we have paid more money for the chemical than we should. Thus, the class-action lawsuit seeks reparations for this breach of federal law. Now, we don't use very much of this chemical at all, but we stand to get a little money back from it, so the Council voted to formally participate in the lawsuit. There will be no expenses for the City at all from this, all of the lawyer fees are built into the settlement, but we may not be seeing that for a while... Class-action lawsuits usually take a year or more to settle because there are SO many claimants. Anyway, the City is participating in that; I think that is the most important thing...

After all of that we moved on to the Council and Staff Reports:

Councilor Moody reported that he went to the League of MN Cities training in the Cities and the EDA is still working on housing in conjunction with OneRoof out of Duluth.

Councilor Benson reported that she also went to the League training in the Cities as well as listening in to the North Shore Management Board meeting. She phoned in to the meeting and struggled with technical difficulties during the call so was not able to bring up the City's request for resources having to do with the Municipal Parking Lot issue, but will bring that up at the next meeting, where she will be attending in person. The North Shore Management Board is also looking for a rep from the Grand Portage area, so if any of you can think of someone, have then contact Councilor Benson!

I also attended the League training in the Cities (don't worry, we didn't talk to each other there) and found it to be very useful. More on that in another post! I also attended a very productive Library Board meeting where the various Committees of the Library made some important reports:
-The Personnel Committee will be meeting this week to create a formal plan to deal with plans to increase staffing according to the 2016 budget requests and current staff needs/changes.
-The Financial Committee created some suggestions for the Board for ways to spend some of the Library's dedicated funds (gifts from over the years). One of those plans is to begin to replace the technology at the Library so that it is more up to date and compatible with new library services available through the Arrowhead Library System. This would mainly be new computers and servers. Another idea was to investigate options for lowering the Library's operational expenses by potentially installing solar heating units or solar electricity units on the library's south roof. This could lower the Library's operational expenses, thus freeing up budget space for more programs and outreach.
-The Art Committee reported that it is still planning on building a sidewalk from the Hwy 61 sidewalk to the entrance to the Library to compliment the Puzzle Tree sculpture. The Art Committee will host a call for poetry to select a few locally produced poems to stamp into the concrete of the sidewalk, thus making it more appealing and engaging.

Councilor Mills reported that he will be presenting the Northwoods Food Project's Green Dollars survey to the Council sometime soon. He said that the Food Project hopes that local food will be a consideration in the City's Comprehensive Planning this year. The Broadband Commission is still pursuing video conferencing and co-working space in the County and are working on a job description for a coordinator for those projects. They are also taking a closer look at the City's offer of the old Visitor's Center space as a potential pilot location for this program. His final update was that Executive Director Emily Marshall will present the "State of the Y" to the Council at the Feb. 24th meeting.

Councilor Kennedy reported that the EDA's housing projects are moving forward nicely. There will be 2 projects, one in the West End and the other in Grand Marais focusing on meeting the perceived housing deficits in those areas. The EDA will be bringing a more formal report to the Council in March.  He also reported that the PUC has been working on putting together some suggestions for a Community Solar project that City PUC residents could buy into. This means that PUC users could basically lease panels in this project for a set price and then would get the credit back on their bills of what the panels produce, thus creating a relatively short pay-back schedule. It sounded like our electricity provider SMMPA (Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency) was putting certain incentives in place for projects like this, so it may be less expensive to implement that the PUC originally thought.

Administrator Roth and Finance Director Dunsmoor are beginning the City's annual audit, which will keep them busy for a while...

There you have it! That was the meeting! If you have any questions about any of this, please let me know. If you are curious about our worksession or the League of MN Cities training I attended, stay tuned for other posts on those topics!
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Buyerarchy of Needs

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 6:07am

I love the concept of “Buyerarchy of Needs.” Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or maybe the food pyramid it places buying something as the last resort.

How many times do you buy something you don’t need? Maybe you thought you needed it but you really didn’t.  I think of this every Christmas when my husband and his two brothers, brother-in-law and father all get the same tools each other already has.  Wouldn’t it be a wiser investment to purchase a trailer like a carpenter and drive it to wherever it is needed? Since they don’t work on projects at the same time I think this would be a perfect solution.  But in our world everyone wants to own their own.

I’m just as guilty with the things I buy. I’m sure I could borrow more and buy less or get by with less. It just takes time to really think about each purchase. I hope you’ll do better than me.

From-Living Green 365

Buy less stuff
“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” George Carlin, comedian

I recently discovered a schematic on the internet called the “Buyerarchy of Needs” by Sarah Lazarovic. The graphic, modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, cleverly captures and presents a strategy for reducing wasteful purchases. Working from the bottom up, it encourages us to consider other options before buying new products.

Consumer goods that are cheaper to throw away than to repair have become common. The volume of goods that many of us purchase, use, and then discard has risen over time. This affects the environment in lots of negative ways.

You can reduce your ecological footprint by following the Buyerarchy approach. Here are some questions to ask yourself before heading to the store or the internet to shop:

Do I truly need this (new phone or gadget, clothing item, other consumer product) or can I get by without it?
Can I borrow, rent, or trade for this item?
If a purchase is required, can I obtain it used/second-hand?
Can I make this item with materials I already have on hand?
If you do buy new, look for products with a Lifetime Warranty.


Sarah Lazarovic graphic artist

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