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Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting for April 8: Tower Lighting, Kelly Hill's Road, VeteranTransportation

Cook County District 3 (Sue Hakes) - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 8:11pm
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were County Administrator Jay Kieft, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Assistant County Attorney Jeanne Smith, and Administrative Support Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
Representing herself, Deb Benedict came before the County Board to express her concern about the white strobe light planned for the 350' tower north of Grand Marais. Rena Rogers, IS Director, explained that this decision was made by the Communications Committee based on cost, risk mitigation, and impact to the community.  Rogers reported that a low scatter LED light has been specified.  An alternative to the lighting would be to paint the tower in a candystripe fashion with alternating red and white paint. The County Board will consider Benedict's request, but need more information on the pros and cons of both alternatives.

Community Center
Community Center Director, Diane Booth, came before Board with a revision of the Community Center Board of Trustees By-Laws.  The Commissioners had several questions regarding the revisions and will forward them to Jay Kieft for compilation. Booth will incorporate changes as appropriate and re-present to the Board.

Booth presented the Board with the recently updated Community Center Fee Schedule.

Highway Department
The County Board approved the purchase of a Cyclone DP48 Sand Blast Cabinet for $1725 plus freight.  This purchase is in the 2014 Highway Department budget.

The Board authorized the Highway Department to advertise for bids for a) aggregate stockpile, b) liquid calcium chloride, and c) summer road maintenance bids for Evergreen Road, Voyageur's Point Road, Mile O'Pine Road, West Rosebush Lane, and Rosebush Hill.

The Board authorized awarding (2) service contract bids for geotechnical borings and evaluation to Braun Intertec Corporation based on low bid.

The Board authorized the Highway Department to solicit proposals for design of the CR46 Bridge.  It is anticipated that State Local Bridge Replacement Bonds will be used to pay for the bridge replacement.

New Director Information System and Communications
Rena Rogers, recently hired Information Systems and Communications director, came before the Board to share initial observations of her new position.  Rogers shared that she has felt very welcome by the Board and county employees.  She talked about her vision to make County business more effective both internally and externally.

Land Use Guide Plan Steering Committee
Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ) Director, Tim Nelson presented the Land Use Guide Plan Update Committee recommendations for reviewing the existing Land Use plan, identifying issues, and updating the Land Use Guide Plan.  The county will contract with Consultant John Powers to lead the process which will include opportunities for public input, including (2) public meetings.

Mark Sandbo request
Mark Sandbo came before the Board requesting a letter of support for him to continue serving on the Governor's Council on Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program.  The Board agreed to provide the letter as requested.

Kelly's Hill Road
At the request of the County Attorney's office, Baiers Heeren reviewed correspondence from Kelly's Hill Road Maintenance Association (KHRMA), applicable statutes and real estate record relating to Kelly's Hill Road.  Heeren reported that there is no record evidence that establishes Kelly's Hill Road as a Town Road or subsequently as a county road or highway.  Jeff Wenz of KHRMA expressed surprise and disappointment at this finding and will need some time to review the written opinion provided by Heeren.

National Crime Victim's Rights Week
The Board approved Jeanne Smith's request to create an informational display in the Courthouse lobby during National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

Assessor's Office
County Assessor, Betty Schulz, provided a progress report on the Assessor Office's work in their quintile property review as required by the State.  This past year, 2660 reviews have been completed including north Hovland, Grand Marais, new construction and land.   Commissioners Doo-Kirk, Martinson and Gamble complimented them on their work.

Superior National Golf Course Bonding
The Board discussed pros and cons for creating an abatement of property taxes for certain Lutsen area properties and pledging that revenue for payment of financing a portion of the Superior National Golf Course renovation.  Commissioner Hakes raised multiple concerns, most notably the risk in this proposal.  No action was taken, but Commissioner Doo-Kirk requested that all questions regarding this matter be forwarded to her in writing to be delivered to the EDA.

Veteran's Transportation Services
Commissioner Hakes reported on a meeting she attended with VSO Clarence Everson and VSO Pat Strand to discuss transportation for Veteran's from remote rural areas in northeastern MN to Vet medical facilities in Minneapolis.  Hakes reported that Reggie Worlds, MN DVA Deputy Commissioner, is securing $200,000 in funding to purchase (1) bus and (2) vans.  Subsequent planning meetings will be held to determine routes, schedules, van locations, and other details necessary to provide this service.  This is good news for northeastern MN veterans!  Stay tuned for more information.

Spring 2014 Declarations for Spearing
The Board discussed the 2014 Declaration for Spearing in the 1854 ceded territory. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has worked with the State of MN to develop a list of lakes authorized by the Band for spearing walleye.  Cook County lakes include Ball Club, Caribou, Cascade, Elbow, Fourmile, Pike, Tait and Tom. The Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands will not spear walleyes in the 1854 treaty area.

Road Maintenance Funds for Superior National Forest
The Board passed a motion requesting the USFS properly maintain the roads within its jurisdiction and increase future dollars budgeted for road maintenance within the Superior National Forest.  Well maintained USFS roads are important to tourists, local residents, loggers and firefighters.

Meeting Minutes
Official meeting minutes for today may be accessed by going to the Cook County website or by calling the County Administrator's Office at 218-387-3602.  A video of this meeting may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.
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4/8/14 - Cindy and I took our first extended vacation over the last couple of weeks.

Sawbill Newsletter - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 5:24pm

4/8/14 - Cindy and I took our first extended vacation over the last couple of weeks. We wisely chose to head far enough south that we missed the last several blasts of this bitter Minnesota winter of 2014.

Here is what we had to put up with while the blizzards were raging at home. That's me in the chair to the far right. I think I was napping at the time. - Bill

Here are some recent Cook County West End News from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio:
West End News: March 20th
West End News: March 27th
West End News: April 3rd

In a few days we'll start the daily Sawbill Lake ice report.

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Another Epic Voyage

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 5:20pm

Three of our past Voyageur Crew members are embarking on a wilderness adventure with three other modern day Voyageurs.  Adam Maxwell, Jake Bendel and Tessa Olson will be spending their summer paddling and camping and I’m so very jealous.  It looks like another wonderful adventure they have planned with 900 miles from Saskatchewan to Nunavut.  I look forward to telling you more about their journey this summer and you can read about it on their website and “like” their Facebook Page.

Modern Day Voyageur

Tessa Olson

Ready to Paddle


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April brings oobleck

Unorganized Territory - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:26pm

Regular readers know that I like winter. I enjoy watching snow falling on the trees and shrubs along my driveway, turning it into a Currier and Ives scene. I like snowshoeing and snowmobiling and watching my grandchildren ski. I admire the frost pictures on my windows and the lovely way snow glistens like glitter in the bright sun.

I like how refreshing it is to step outside on a cold day. And I love how good it feels to come back inside to warm up. I’m proud that I know how to layer appropriately so I don’t get cold when the Polar Vortex passes through.

We seemed to have more than our share of bitterly cold days this year. Although this winter reminds me a lot of winters when I was growing up here on the North Shore. Now, I’m not going to share some sad tale of having to walk to school in a blizzard…up hill, both ways… but I do remember waiting for the school bus on brutally cold days. I remember our elementary school principal, Mr. James, chasing us out of the school entryway into the cold because we were too noisy.

No, winter wasn’t always fun. But it seemed like we always had enough snow to build snowmen and snow forts and to go sledding. I keep telling people this is a good old-fashioned winter.

Maybe that is why I keep thinking about the games we played and the way we passed time in the winter when I was a kid. The giant snowbanks remind me of many games of “King of the Hill.” The open expanse of our septic drain field tempts me to go make a snow angel like we used to do long ago. Of course many recess hours were spent throwing snowballs at one another, even though it was prohibited.

I also remember a really silly game, one that could only happen in our snowy clime. Some childhood friends and I used to pretend we had somehow been transported to a giant’s world. We were trapped in a giant bowl of ice cream— bright, white, vanilla ice cream! We had to make a hiding place so the giant didn’t find us.

I’ve always liked looking at snow that way, trying to see more than just semi-permanent ground cover. The clumps piled up by the snow plow? Like fluffy white clouds in the sky, if you look at them imaginatively you can see polar bears or dragons.

And then there is the oobleck snow. The most recent snowstorm that passed through brought a downfall of heavy, sticky, snowflakes, reminding me of one of my favorite children’s books, Bartholomew and the Oobleck.    

If April snow was green, it would be exactly like oobleck!


The Dr. Seuss story may not be familiar to everyone as it isn’t written in Theodor Geisel’s usual poetic meter. No, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, like its preceding story the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, isn’t written in Dr. Seuss’s usual poetic style. Instead it is simple prose telling the story of King Derwin of Didd who was tired of rain, sun, fog and snow. The king called on his royal magicians to make something new fall from the sky. What falls is oobleck— sticky green globs that wreak havoc on the kingdom.

In the story, young page boy Bartholomew Huggins comes to the rescue by getting King Derwin to say the magic words—not the words the magicians said to create the oobleck, “Shuffle, Duffle, Muzzle Muff”—but simply “I’m sorry.”

Once Bartholomew convinces King Derwin to say the magic words, the sun comes out and the oobleck melts away. It’s a nice story, ending with the King declaring a holiday to celebrate the four things that should come from the sky—rain, sun, fog and snow.

So although heavy, clumpy, sticky snowflakes are white instead of green, they make me think of the Kingdom of Didd getting gooped up with oobleck.

Oobleck-like snow makes me think of the gentle wisdom of Dr. Seuss via Bartholomew Cubbins. Don’t be arrogant. Say you’re sorry when you’ve made a mistake. And appreciate what you have— even if it’s another five inches of snow.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

The people who are successful are those
who are grateful for everything they have.
Alan Cohen

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Monday Funny

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 1:47pm

Shoveling a tennis court so there can be a High School tennis match this week. That’s what one of my friends did on Saturday in Grand Marais, Minnesota.  Josh and Abby with Baseball and Softball games scheduled for tomorrow? Not on any field in our School’s League. Games have to be postponed until a later date.  Gotta love this video and cartoon that depict how many of us feel about the latest and hopefully last 6 inches of snow that fell on Friday.

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Melting Snow

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 6:35pm

There’s still snow and there’s still ice but today’s high temperature on the Gunflint Trail was 53 degrees, warm enough to melt some snow. According to the map below there’s still a good amount of snow cover in Northeastern Minnesota and I imagine it will be around for awhile longer.

Lake Superior still has a large amount of ice on it and the shipping season is off to a slow start because of it.  According to JOHN PEPIN – Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal,

Dobson said the ice thickness the cutters are encountering was at least three feet in some places, four feet in others. In the middle of Lake Superior, ice rubble fields six feet thick were being encountered…He said the cutters can be moving along decently and then hit a “rock solid” section of ice. In some cases, ships have needed four hours to move one mile.

A few more days of 50 degree temperatures will surely help.




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4.3.14 Snowshoe season begins

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 2:28pm






Snowshoe season is here!

We’re wrapping up the ski season on the Central Gunflint Trail System. While it’s true that we still have a great deal of snow (with more in the forecast),  grooming conditions have become quite difficult.  Due to the daily freeze /thaw cycles that we experience now, the skiing may actually be better on ungroomed sections. It’s adventure skiing now!

We will concentrate our grooming efforts on Summerhome, Campground, and Oxcart Ski Trails until snow temps approach 32 degrees, at which time we’re done for the day. We will continue to try to groom those for as long as we get passable results; no promises on how long that will be at this point, as it just doesn’t groom up to our high expectations in these conditions.

The good news: this is the only time each year when we open up our ungroomed trails for snowshoeing.  It’s a great opportunity to get back into the deep woods trails that you can normally only experience on skis.  Snowshoes and trail passes are complimentary for our guests. Stop by the front desk to get them.   If you’re staying elsewhere, trail tickets are half price, and we do rent very nice snowshoes.

Please stop by the front desk  at Bearskin for trail maps, trail advice, and information about the ever-changing spring conditions.   Snowshoeing on this ski trail system only happens once a year, so take advantage of this fun spring opportunity!

We can also advise you about what is still open in the area.  April is the off-season on the Gunflint Trail and in Grand Marais; the majority of resorts and businesses are now closed until sometime in mid-May.  We’ll be happy to help you find the restaurants and lodges that are still open for business during this quiet time.

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Waking up from winter!

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Sun, 02/16/2014 - 9:49pm

The bitter temps and short days of January left me feeling a little more closed in this year than in the past.

Today was a sunny beautiful day. Children were sledding, guests were skiing snowmobiling, and fishing and the phone has been ringing off the hook. Perhaps I’m not alone in my feeling of cabin fever! – I had a mind to hang a note on the door and head out for a snowshoe workout

We’ve had such great snowfall recently, nearly 10 inches since Friday. Today was a nice break, but tomorrow’s promise is for 4-8 more inches. The snowbanks are higher than I’ve seen in a long time.

The 2013 Mush for a Cure “fun”d-raiser is just around the corner. The event has changed a bit this year – with the start and end all happening out front on the lake! Starting with a pancake breakfast fundraiser sponsored by Upper Lakes Foods, you can watch the Mushers set up on the lake, start the race and wait for the results.

If you’re in the area or just want to drive up to watch the fun it’s a crazy pink day!!

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Trail Grooming Tomorrow

Banadad Bulletin - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 10:01am

Tomorrow, Friday, trail groomers will be out on the west end of the Banadad. The east end will be groomed the next day.

Tomorrow it is also going to warm up to above zero for the first time in days. Last night/this morning the temperature hit negative 36.

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Day 12 – The Last Day of Gifting!

Sivertson Gallery - Fri, 12/20/2013 - 9:14am

Day 12 – The Last Day of Gifting….

Today is the 12th Day of Gifting! Can you believe it?  Tomorrow is the last Elfin’ Saturday before Christmas! On this final day, we thought long and hard on who we would feature. He or She had to be a slam bang finish to a truly incredible list of artists. I think you will all agree, we could not have chosen a better artist for Day 12. With great pleasure, I introduce … read more

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Day 11 – Glass Totems & Raku

Sivertson Gallery - Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:42am

Day 11 – Glass Totems & Raku

On Day 11 of our 12 Days of Gifting, we bring you Nancy Seaton‘s Fused Glass Totems and Richard Gruchalla & Carrin Rosetti’s Raku fired pottery!

Most notorious for her watercolors, Nancy Seaton expanded to beautiful fused glass totems in the early spring of 2013. When put near the window, these totems come to life. With the unique designs and gorgeous colors dancing in the light, her totems are a … read more

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Day 10 – Monica Hansmeyer

Sivertson Gallery - Wed, 12/18/2013 - 1:21am

Day 10– Monica Hansmeyer

On Day 10 of the 12 Days of Gifting, we introduce the jeweler responsible for all of our jewelry dreams… Monica Hansmeyer of Seven Sister Design!

Monica Hansmeyer is just plain… COOL! If you have had the pleasure to meet the woman behind Seven Sister Design, you know what I mean. With a friendly smile, farm girl charm and jewelry to die for, it’s easy to see why her jewelry has more devoted fans than we can … read more

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Day 9 – Wood!

Sivertson Gallery - Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:49am


Day 9 – Wood ya Look at THAT?

Day 9 is focused on wood, wood-like products, faux wood painting, birch ceramic mugs…. You get the idea! In this day of Wood, let me mention the three groups of artists to be highlighted; Larch Wood, Grant-Noren, and Lenore Lampi.

Larch Wood, based in Nova Scotia, specializes in “end-grain” cutting boards that are praised as works of functional art. Their small, select group of crafts people work exclusively with the native Eastern Canadian … read more

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Day 8 – Kenspeckle Letterpress

Sivertson Gallery - Mon, 12/16/2013 - 9:58am

Did you really think we would do a “12 days of Gifting” without mentioning Rick Allen and Marian Lansky of Kenspeckle Letterpress??

I didn’t think so….

As you all know, Rick Allen is possibly Siiviis and Sivertson Gallery’s most popular artist. Without a doubt, he is certainly the most hilarious! His work brings happiness, love and laughter to all… Truly a wonderful gift to give this holiday season.

Bear Ass Sauna

Trapper’s Daughter and the Long View

Grand … read more

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Day 7 – Hot Tea & Books

Sivertson Gallery - Sun, 12/15/2013 - 1:53pm

Day 7 – Hot Tea and Books!

Shiver me Elfin’ timbers…. It is close to -20 below in some parts of Cook County on this 7th Day of Gifting!! In this spirit we bring you “Hot Tea and Beautiful Book Day!”

A favorite memory of many Sivertson shoppers is our year-round complementary hot tea. Right when you walk in the door, you can stop by our tea stand and choose from an assortment of delicious Harney and Sons blends. Over 30 years … read more

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Day 6 – Aaron Kloss and His Little Birds, Too!!

Sivertson Gallery - Sat, 12/14/2013 - 2:45am

-Day 6 - Aaron Kloss & His Little Birds, Too

Day 6 – Kloss… and His Little Birds, Too!!

When I think of Aaron Kloss, I can’t help but think about his bird paintings. Whether they be cardinals, bluejays, or the recent release of Chickadees... I just can’t get enough.

Just a couple of weeks ago we received a shipment of fresh, original acrylics by the one and only Aaron Kloss. This is a great thing for all you Christmas shoppers out there because that means, not … read more

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Day 5 – Bozeman Babes!

Sivertson Gallery - Fri, 12/13/2013 - 2:38am

-Day 5 - Bozeman Babes!

Our self proclaimed sister city of Bozeman, Montana is full of talented artists. Here at Sivertson Gallery, we host the work of two of the greatest ladies Bozeman has to offer! Jennifer (J.L. Walsh) the fabulous jeweler, and Sarah Angst the amazing printer.

If there is any town that could even remotely compare to our beloved harbor town of Grand Marais, it would be Bozeman, MT. Whenever I travel out west to that gorgeous town with … read more

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Day 4 – Woodblock Prints!

Sivertson Gallery - Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:23am

-Day 4 - Woodblock Prints!

Wood block prints are in a class all of their own. There is something about the look, the feel, and the process of wood block prints, that is simply striking. At Sivertson Gallery, we have four woodblock artists represented: Nick Wroblewski, Betsy Bowen, Mike Anderson and Rick Allen (with Rick dabbling in both wood and lino block prints, in addition to wood engravings).

All of our printmakers are fantastic, but it seems that Nick Wroblewski is … read more

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Day 3 – Ananda Khalsa

Sivertson Gallery - Wed, 12/11/2013 - 10:16am


 - Day 3 - Ananda Khalsa Jewelry!!


Ananda Khalsa’s jewelry does not require many words…. just. LOOK. at. it. and try not to drool all over your keyboard. If you really want to WOW someone special this holiday season, you need to consider Khalsa’s jewelry. It’s true, many women tell us they feel strong and elegant while wearing her jewelry, myself included. When you find jewelry with this much character and energy, it’s important … read more

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Day Two – Lake Superior!

Sivertson Gallery - Tue, 12/10/2013 - 3:05am

~Day Two~ Lake Superior… EVERYTHING!!!

How can you give a gift of the North Shore, for the heart and soul, all year round?? Through ART of course! At Sivertson Gallery and Siiviis we have countless options to fill your Lake Superior fancy: photographs, prints, broadsheets, earrings, paintings, cards and more!

A Sea! Don’t You Agree??

One of our most popular gifts this holiday season is Rick Allen’s “Superior is a Sea” broadsheet. Released just before the Tall … read more

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