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

Categories: Member Feeds

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

Categories: Member Feeds

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!
Categories: Member Feeds

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

Categories: Member Feeds

1.28.2016 No shortage of snow here

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 11:12pm

After a few much-deserved quiet, calm days it snowed like crazy on the Gunflint Trail again on Wednesday. Apparently it turned to icy rain along the North Shore, temporarily creating a sheet of ice on Highway 61 and causing a number of small accidents.  Up here on the hill all it did was snow and blow all day and most of the night.

We entertained ourselves at lunch on Wednesday by watching chickadees blow off the bird feeder. The snow on our back deck is normally covered by an elaborate trail system pounded down by our overtly-friendly pine marten and our 2 excessively chubby red squirrels, Fatso and Mean Fatso. (No, they shouldn’t all co-exist in our deck ecosystem, but that’s another story.) Snow was blowing horizontally across the deck all morning, and still those furry critters braved the storm to collect their share of the birdseed; but by afternoon they’d given up and for the first time in weeks all footprints were erased by the blowing snow.

The groomers were working on the ski trails very early Thursday morning, and by the time the sun broke through the clouds later in the day we had the entire system done and ready to go. Mid-week afternoons tend to be very quiet here, but the skiers who were out returned from their skiing almost giddy with joy over how beautiful the trail conditions are.

Here are the latest numbers from the official Central Gunflint Trail snow measurers at Golden Eagle:

Central Gunflint Ski Trail Conditions on 1-28-16

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  4.0”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  5.85 inches
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 9 – 10 inches
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 16 – 22 inches
  • Groomed with classic track:  68 K
  • Groomed with skate lane:  56 K
  • Surface Conditions:  Fresh packed snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-28-16
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  52.30”



Categories: Member Feeds

Ready, Set, Rebate!

Arrowhead Electric - Tue, 01/26/2016 - 2:32pm


Together with our power supplier, Great River Energy (GRE), Arrowhead Cooperative provides rebates to members to help offset the cost of energy efficient products. Once again, in 2016 we have a great list of Energy Star products and appliances that qualify for rebates.

To qualify:

1. Location must be served by Arrowhead Cooperative

2. Person applying and/or signing must be a member of the Cooperative

3. Rebate must be approved by the Cooperative


Forms are available on our website at –just click the link on the right to head to Rebates & Promotions.

To request a rebate please complete the appropriate form (available from our office or on our website) and submit it along with original receipts and, if required, proof of Energy Star status.

Categories: Member Feeds

Week ending January 23rd, 2016 progress

Inside the south side Care Center, the crews continue to build out with metal studs.  They had a walk through with the care teams in an early mock-up of a resident room to see where the resident’s bed will go (mock-up was a construction job site box) and the future shower, sink and toilets.  On the north side, crews were setting the wooden roof trusses.  Where one of the old boilers was, a new structural steel mezzanine is in place where the transformers sit with conduits and wiring below in a crawl space.

resident room “early mock-up” with tool box as bed

future resident shower area

metal studs south additon

setting roof trusses on north side Care Center

North side Care Center

Inside north addition

Propone heaters providing temporary heat for new addition

plastic shelter and temp doorway

Dry type transformers on new mezzanine floor

electrical conduit crawl space below new transformers

New electrical panels



Categories: Member Feeds

Care Center Art Wall

The Care Center team and residents have been having some fun with the temporary walls and column posts by turning them into art walls.  The care team has put their heights and names on one post, hand prints with names on another and then the residents have put some nice butterflies on the project update wall.

Categories: Member Feeds

Sota 12.20.04 – 1.22.16

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 4:48pm

Sota Hikes to Ham Lake.

With heavy heart we must report that we lost Sota early this morning. We will miss her greatly. She was a major part of our life here at the Gunflint Pines Resort. She was the camp greeter and often could be found opening the door to run out and greet the next guest as they arrived.

She often guided guests on hikes to Lonely lake or High cliffs. Many a guest would start off hiking only to find her flushing the path in front of them and waiting at the intersections to be sure they were on the right path. But many a guest would also come back without her, distraught only to have us ask how long they were hiking. We knew that if they had taken a short hike – she found others to hike with before coming home. She was an excellent bird dog, squirrel or chipmunk chaser and mouser. She was smarter than and had more grace than many humans (I swear!) and was nothing but loving to everyone.

Sota stalks Deer

Sota was 11 years old and had a good life. She was loved and adored by many children who returned each year only to ask where she was so they could pet her belly.

Sadly we feel we must also tell you that she was killed by Wolves. At 3am this morning, she had to go to the bathroom. Within minutes we heard them, quickly dressed and scared them off. It was too late. This happened within 30 ft of the building. It is a testament to the severity of the Wolf situation. We understand that this was always a possibility, and that the wolves are just trying to survive. We also know there are those out there who will criticize us for even mentioning the wolf situation, but those who do not live here, have no idea how large the population is.

Sota in her favorite spot in the lodge.

We used to have a deer herd of roughly 100 on the south shore of Gunflint. This year I have seen fewer than 4. Please understand that we also love the wolves and appreciate there need for balance in nature, but our position has and always will remain this: if you are going to manage the Moose, deer, small game etc populations – you must also manage the wolf population. There is no longer a balance in our area. The wolves are beginning to becoming desperate. How long before they begin starving and become aggressive.

Rest in peace Sota – many will miss you!

Categories: Member Feeds

Job Opportunity at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 11:00am

Employment Opportunity for Naturalist Program Director at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.

Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge and experiences of natural science with children of all ages?
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is looking for energetic individual to join the crew at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. The individual will serve as the Nature Center Program Director from the beginning of June to the end of August during the 2016 season.

Nature Center Program Director will work 25 hours per week at $12 – $15 per hour, depending on experience and skill level. Work schedule will include weekends.

Job responsibilities include but are not limited to: developing and implementing naturalist programs for every day of the week, train and oversee nature center volunteers, collect admission fees and provide information to visitors, work with the site manager to promote and market naturalist activities.

Assigned tasks will be diverse and vary from day to day. This job requires flexibility, creative thinking, and an enjoyment of working with the general public. Candidates with historical familiarity of the Gunflint Trail and an appreciation and knowledge of Northwoods biology and ecology will be given priority in selection process.

No on-site housing available.

For more information and to receive an application, contact the Gunflint Trail Historical Society at or 218-388-9915.

Job application and more information about the position available at: on the homepage, under “Upcoming Events”.

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is located at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Application deadline is February 21, 2016

Here is the progression from beginning to almost finished Nature Center, the doors will open up on May 28, 2016.

Categories: Member Feeds

Mother Nature Complicates opening the Banadad

Banadad Bulletin - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 11:45am

When we last posted here, the Banadad Trail Association had just hosted the annual trail clearing day and membership meeting.  Several volunteers had clipped and sawed their way through miles of alder brush and fallen trees, readying the trail for the winter.  More trail-clearing folks followed in the next couple of weeks, and we all had a good feeling about the upcoming ski season.

How quickly that changed! The much-anticipated snow finally came, but not as the fluffly, fat flakes that we prefer.  Instead, it fell heavy and wet, cloaking every twig and tree in a thick coat.  Mother Nature mixed in a bit of freezing drizzle, and then added more of that same kind of snow.  Someone likened it to wet cement.  That was an apt description, for when it solidly froze, just like dried cement, it weighted those trees until they were bowing down to the ground.  For many miles, the trail was completely impassable.  As beautiful as it was, it created miles of havoc, and a boatload of new clearing to be done.

For the last several weeks, many people, both volunteer and paid, have been working hard to clear the trail so that it is usable this winter.  The good news is that at this point, the Lace Lake Trail (4K) and the Tall Pines Trail (1.7K) are both opened and groomed.  The snow depth is 18″.  Snow still covers the trees, making for a uniquely beautiful trail.  Come out and ski it!

The eastern end of the Banadad is once again nearly cleared, with about another day or two of work remaining.  As soon as we get fresh snow, this section will be groomed and tracked.  The trail will extend to the mid-trail junction, near the yurt.  A loop will be possible, utilizing the Moose Trail.  While not what we would have hoped for back in October when we were working, at least we have something here to ski. The distance for this section is 15.5K.

Unfortunately, it is not expected that the western end of the Banadad will be open this season.  Much work remains on the remaining 12K.  As time and funding permit, we will chip away at it, and we welcome your help if you so desire.  To that end, a sign has been posted in the parking lot, and two saws are hanging for anyone who wants to snowshoe in on the trail and cut a few things away.

We are so grateful to everyone who has stepped in to assist in the herculean effort to re-open the trail.  Mother Nature tossed us some lemons, but we didn’t let that stop us.  Join us on the Banadad, the Lace Lake Trail and the Tall Pines Trail, and see how pretty this season has turned out to be.




Categories: Member Feeds

After the Holidays – on to 2016!

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Wed, 01/13/2016 - 10:59am


Ready to slide at Gunflint Pines Resort!

Happy New Year!  2016 looks exciting and welcoming!  This past holiday season was the best we’ve had in many years.  The temperatures were great, the snow was plentiful, the ski trails were packed and tracked, sleds were sliding, snowmen were being made, quite the happy winter start!

Fun on the sledding hill.


Gunflint Pines Sledding fun!

My favorite game! Stop by if you want to play!

For Christmas my son bought me a Chinese Checker board, favorite game of mine!  I found my marbles so I’m ready to go!  Stop by if you want to play a game.  Remember we’re a pet friendly destination and I love puppies so feel free to share.  This little guy (still unnamed) was only 10 weeks old and looked like a stuffed animal!  He was adorable.  We offered the names of Sasquatch and Yeti – but they were leaning towards Cesar or similar.

Visiting Puppy at Gunflint Pines Resort!

Gunflint Lake froze over late this year!!!  The west end out front of us only froze over on the 30th of December.  The East end finally froze over the morning of the 4th.   With the colder temps the past week we are building ice quickly just in time for the Trout Opener this weekend.

This past year we started posting our future availability by means of google calendars in our blog section.  While we still do not have online booking capability and I have to update them manually it can give you a good guide as to what might be available for our cabins, camping cabins or our Lakehome.  I have also started relying on the google calendars to make updating our snow report and Ski Trail report easier and more up to date.  You can always feel free to call us directly for up to date information 218-388-4454.

Summer reservations are starting to book as people seem to be planning further ahead – don’t wait too long to give us a call and start planning your escape up north!




Categories: Member Feeds

Kratt Chat: Summer’s success

Visit Cook County - Mon, 09/21/2015 - 10:39am
Kratt Chat: Summer’s success September 2015

New Gondola Installation at Lutsen Mountains

One word describes how I felt as I watched the helicopters soar over Lutsen Mountain – Thrilled! This investment from leadership at  Lutsen Mountains only reinforces the energetic growth felt throughout Cook County.  In July, I completed my second year working for Visit Cook County.  When I started, I thought I knew a lot about this wonderful corner of northeastern Minnesota. I have now come to realize the depth of the partnerships we share in making life here enjoyable and energized.  I am delighted.


As our summer season closes, I want to highlight a few spring, summer and fall highpoints. We are all aware that Cook County offers some of the biggest and best of the midwest: tallest peak, highest waterfall, most groomed cross country ski trails, largest ski resort in the Midwest, most BWCAW entry points – you get the picture. This list is endless, and keeps on growing. Another “best” came across my desk today –  Hwy. 61 from Duluth to the Canadian border was included in Mashable’s “7 Scenic Fall Foliage Drives.” And perhaps the most reputable, the title of “Coolest Small Town in America,” awarded in February  to Grand Marais. We would love to hear from other business owners regarding the summer experience of 2015. We know World’s Best Donuts sold more donuts than they have since opening in the summer of 1974! We look forward to hearing many more great sucess stories as we enter the last part of 2015.


Safe to say – our efforts in marketing and media relations have paid off.  I, along with the Visit Cook County team, serve our tourism related economy tirelessly. Thanks to our partnership with Giant Voices and LINPR we have built a successful marketing and PR strategy that is showing results. These partnerships allow us to build upon great outreach opportunities like sharing a booth with WTIP at the MN State Fair (a complete blast) followed by a live media appearance with KARE 11.

The one true measurement of tourism success for Visit Cook County is our lodging tax.  This is always a moving target as we have lodging properties that pay monthly, quarterly and annually.  We measure our monthly decreases and gains based on prior year figures which actually allow us to be pretty close on the measurement.  And of course, we work extra hard to bring people here in our shoulder seasons of April and November. The County collects the lodging tax and prepares all the reporting.  You can see all the figures if you look here:

That said, Visit Cook County’s fiscal year began May 1.  If you calculate the success in the first three months of our fiscal year, the statistics are astounding.  A quick snapshot of May-July shows growth in Lutsen/Tofte/Schroeder up 15.9% and Grand Marais is up 15.8%. And on an even bigger scale, lodging sales in 2014 totaled $33Million dollars.  In a county that records $150million in sales, we need to tip our hats to the lodging property owners – not only as economic tourism drivers but also as employers.

We hope you have saved the date to celebrate with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber on November 3rd at Lutsen Resort. You can look forward to more information about the event in the coming weeks, but until then, make sure you’ve saved the date!


The post Kratt Chat: Summer’s success appeared first on Cook County Minnesota.

Categories: Member Feeds