Member Feeds

A Fox Comes Visiting

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 8:27pm

A pretty fox came by Voyageur today. My guess is it was looking for Mark.

Categories: Member Feeds

Some Snow on Trail but Need More

Banadad Bulletin - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 8:03am

Yesterday eleven members of Minnehaha Academy’s Nordic Ski Team lead by their coach, Anne Rykken, worked on clearing the west end of the Banadad.. The kids on the team thought the work was great fun.-

On the westend there is about 1-2″ of snow. Not near enough snow to get onto that end of trail with equipment. However, on the east end the snow measures 3-4 inches. Four inches is almost enough, but not quite enough, to get out onto the trail and start packing. While the snowmobiles are out  packing the packing crew will work on clearing the down trees remaining on the  remote section of the east end just beyond the Logging camp.

Categories: Member Feeds

Tears and Dehydration

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 10:53pm

I can see it now, a headline in the newspaper, “Woman Hospitalized After Suffering from Severe Dehydration Due to Excessive Crying.”  I thought I had let out all of the tears possible this week but I guess there were plenty more where they came from. Are they all out now after Mark’s funeral today? I don’t think I’ve shed the last tear for Mark yet.

This morning as we were leaving the house in Grand Marais a bald eagle flew over. I immediately thought, “That’s Mark making sure we’re on our way, wondering if I needed any help bringing stuff out to the car.”  I’ve never seen a bald eagle right in town in Grand Marais. We’ve seen them on the shore and we of course see them on the Gunflint Trail and in the Boundary Waters but it was unusual to see it fly over our house. On the way to Duluth Abby spotted another eagle which isn’t quite as odd but it made me think it was the same one, following us on our journey.

I imagine I’ll think of him when I see a fox.  I’ll probably think of him when I see a moose too and possibly a bear and when I catch a fish. I’ll most likely think of him when my car is due for an oil change and how he would try to shame me into getting an oil change if I had over 3000 miles on it, or 5000.  When I’m trying to figure out something with my depth finder or my boat motor I’m guessing I’ll think of him then too. And when I walk into the lodge I will expect to see him on the couch.  I’ll be waiting to hear him greet me and get the update on the wildlife or how much rain we got.

There were a large number of familiar faces at the funeral. Cabin owners, our local conservation officer, Mike’s brother, Gunflint Trail neighbors, some of our dear friends and many of our Voyageur Crew. It was nice to see so many of them there. I didn’t think about a picture until after Mike and Ashley, Dave and Bonnie, Scott Prom, Chad Autio and Mike Irwin had already left so they aren’t in the photo. I wish Mark could have been there.  I’m sure he was there in spirit unless of course the fish were biting in heaven.

Thank you to everyone who was at the funeral. Thank you for sharing your stories and showing Mark’s family how loved he was by all of us. Thank you for the hugs too.  I’ll try not to shed too many more tears but I can’t make any promises.

Voyageur Crew

Front Row Left to Right: Me, Adam Maxwell, Luke Yaeger, Abby Prom, Ryan Ritter

Back Row Left to Right: Mike, Matt Ritter, Tony Krusenbaum, Hannah Koivu, Mike Swenson, Paul Swenson, Evan Gates, Tessa Johnson, Charlie Drilling, Josh Prom, Tessa Olson

Categories: Member Feeds

11/15/14 - I am delighted to share the video of the original song, "My Sawbill Journey"

Sawbill Newsletter - Sat, 11/15/2014 - 11:26am

11/15/14 - I am delighted to share the video of the original song, "My Sawbill Journey" by longtime Sawbill friend and well-known Nashville songwriter Jerry Vandiver. The images are from local master photographer, Paul Sundberg. - Bill

It's obvious that Jerry and Paul share a love of Sawbill, the BWCA Wilderness and the great outdoors. I can't thank them enough for their generous celebration of Sawbill.

Categories: Member Feeds

Homework on Wednesday: Meeting Updates

Grand Marais Mayor Blog - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 4:10pm
This past Wednesday turned out to be a busy day!  I was able to attend three great meetings around town and gather a great deal of useful information for looking to the future.  I will use this post to explain a little about these meetings and the information given at each.  As you can see from the photo, I have a great deal of reading and homework to do to absorb all of the information!

1. Assisted Living in Grand Marais
2. City Council Meeting
3. Violence Prevention Center Meeting

1. The first meeting happened at the hospital...
I was invited to this meeting on Tuesday and was very glad that I attended.  Also at this meeting were the Directors of Community Development and Business Recruitment from the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), the directors of the Senior Center here in Grand Marais, the directors of the hospital and care center here in town, the director of Hill Haven Assisted Housing, representatives of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce, board members from Sawtooth Ridges Apartments, Care Partners, North Shore Health Care Foundation, and the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA).

And then I was there too... Representing the newly elected city council.

Needless to say, it was a pretty experience heavy meeting, regardless of if I was counted or not!

The meeting was called to discuss the possibility of bringing a permanent, Medicare and Medicaid certified Assisted Living facility to Grand Marais.

Over the past several years as our residents have aged and transitioned to different seasons of their lives, their living situations have needed to change too.  Some move to the independent living apartments around town, some move in with family, and some leave town altogether.  This final option is not ideal considering that many of these people are the people who helped to build Grand Marais from rock and timber and who would like to live out their days in this community.  Also, it was acknowledged that there is a "care gap" in our community where some not-so-critical patients have a hard time receiving just the care that they need.

These factors caused a few community members to contact representatives of Spectrum Health Services to come and present information about the possibilities of bringing Assisted Living services to Grand Marais.  There was some great conversation had, concerns raised, relief expressed, and at the end of the almost two hour meeting we came up with an action plan for moving forward:
1. Get a market study done to see if Assisted Living IS NEEDED and COULD SURVIVE in our community.  This study will show how many beds of Asssisted Living our Cook County Community could sustain.  It will take into consideration the services that are already being offered so that the presence of Assisted Living would not cause hardship to already existing services and locations as well.  *This study will be owned by the City of Grand Marais (pending the approval of the City Council to proceed), paid for through a grant from the North Shore Health Care Foundation (pending application and acceptance of the grant), and will give us the information necessary to make an educated decision to move forward or not.
2. IF the market study shows that there IS a need for these services and they will compliment (not compete with) care structures already in place in the county, then we proceed to investigate locations and companies that could offer these services.  As a part of this step, the City of Grand Marais would be in conversation with the IRRRB who voiced their feeling that most, if not all of the infrastructure necessary to build an Assisted Living location would be paid for through Community Development money from the IRRRB.

RESULT:  A top of the line, cutting edge Assisted Living facility in our city that cost the City very little to no money and will bring in high rates of property tax.  The benefits of this arrangement look really good on paper, it will be the job of the new city council under advisement of our health care providers in the county to make sure that these benefits translate from paper into real life.
*There are not many details available as to what the Assisted Living facility would look like, but it would be en suite rooms with 24 hour nurse care available, three hot meals a day, and potentially memory care services as well.

2. City Council Meeting.  All of the City Council members were present for the Wednesday meeting included the newly elected members of the council, David Mills and Anton Moody... (I was there as well, but I don't like referring to myself in the third person...).  Although it was a short meeting, some very important items crossed the desk.
A. The City received a $50,000 grant from the Blandin Foundation to continue the process of bidding, securing customer agreements, and finalizing financing for the construction and operation of a district biomass heat plant here in Grand Marais.  Although most of you have probably heard about this project, the idea is to build a heat plant on the edge of town that would provide hot water heat at a stable price to all of the city and county buildings as well as some of the larger business buildings along the Hwy 61 corridor.  The price of this heat would be stable because the fuel for the heat plant would be slash from logging operations in the National Forest.  This grant will allow the continuing research into if and how this would work for the interested parties.
B. Kimber Wralstad from the North Shore Hospital and Care Center requested that the Council sign a letter of support so that they can receive the funding grant for the renovation of the health care campus.  The board voted unanimously to do so!
C. The Council viewed and held a brief discussion regarding the many boards and committees around the city that are going to have vacancies after this year.  There are several ways to get involved.  If you have any interest in getting involved, let me know and I will get you a list of what is available.  I may even put up another post with opportunities after this one!
D. After the meeting, the other newly elected councilors and I received a handsome bundle of minutes for all of the City Council and city department board meetings that we are to review and ask questions about to get ourselves up to speed on what has been happening around town.  I assure you all that we will study this information and will be ready to hit the ground running in January when we are sworn in.

3. Violence Prevention Center Meeting.  After the City Council meeting adjourned, I went to a meeting at the Violence Prevention Center to gather some more information regarding the services that this organization offers to our community.  Coming off of their annual fundraiser/awareness night, Lunafest, there was a lot of good energy in the air.  The VPC offers advocacy resources to anyone who sees themselves as a victim of violence, whether that be domestic violence or sexual violence.  They can help you figure out what is available to you, they will just listen if you just need to tell someone something, or they will listen if you are concerned for someone else's safety.  I was surprised to learn that the VPC handles several hundred instances a year and relieved that they exist in our town.  Their hotline, which is an anonymous way to access their services, is available 24 hours a day and does not cost anything.  It will not get you or anyone else in trouble with the law; it is meant purely as a support mechanism.  Their number is 218-387-1237.

So, as you can see, it was a busy day!  Now, a few days later, after I have finished sorting through all of this information, I am ready for next week and the information that will come to me then as well!

*As always, if you would like to meet with me or share your feelings on a topic, please do so at

Thank you!

Categories: Member Feeds

Where are We in November?

Unorganized Territory - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 2:36pm


Do you know where the News-Herald was when this photo was taken? Give it a guess!

Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?

Last month’s photo was apparently too tough. We had no correct entries. The picture was of a new bridge over Swamp Creek in Hovland—on the Hovland Woods ATV trail. Try your luck! Take a look at the November photo. If you think you know where we were when we took the picture, send us your answer.

The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. Whoever is drawn will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $30 value). Good luck!

Answer to the November WHERE ARE WE? must be received by December 15, 2014.

Send your entry to:
Cook County News-Herald
PO Box 757
Grand Marais MN 55604

Drop it by our office at: 15 First Avenue West
Fax: 218-387-9500
Questions? 218-387-9100

Categories: Member Feeds

America Recycles Day

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 11/14/2014 - 11:10am

Tomorrow is America Recycles Day and I love to recycle. We have a recycling center in Grand Marais that does a good job with the main items like aluminum, cardboard, tin and glass.  Unfortunately only Type 1 and Type 2 plastic can be recycled here.  I’m hoping for a change but so far it hasn’t come about. I cringe when I put other plastics into the garbage but I can’t possibly hold onto them all to bring them to Duluth to be recycled. Hopefully a change will come soon.

Did you know there’s a great resource you can use to find where to recycle things?  From batteries to paint to construction materials you can search where to recycle things at  There are events scheduled for America Recycles Day but unfortunately I didn’t find any in Minnesota.  You can search for events in your area on their website.

Are you going to do anything special for America Recycles Day on November 15th? How about taking the pledge to recycle more? Every little bit helps.


Categories: Member Feeds

11/13/14 - Here are some great pictures taken by talented local photographer Tom Spence.

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 4:26pm

11/13/14 - Here are some great pictures taken by talented local photographer Tom Spence.

Bull moose near the Sawbill Trail in early November. Photo by Tom Spence.

Morning fog in early November. Photo by Tom Spence.

Late season canoeists at the end of October. Photo by Tom Spence.

Speaking of late October canoeing, here is a link to a well written article by Greg Seitz from Wilderness News Online about his trip out of Sawbill a few weeks ago. - Bill

Categories: Member Feeds

Everyday Favorite: The Cyclone Cup

Aging Youthful - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:00am

This #FavoriteEverydayProduct is a new one! I have been doing a lot of networking on LinkedIn and received a message from a connection asking me if I’d like to give his blending bottle a try and give feedback. Never one to turn down an opportunity to help out a fellow entrepreneur, I said “sure!”. The next day Jeremy of Cyclone Cup mailed me my very own bottle.

For years I have been using the blender bottles with the wire ball inside them and have liked them just fine. Except, I’ve lost a few of the wire balls and when you do have them in the bottle, they make noise rattling around while you are driving (am I the only one who hates rattles in their cars?) and finding a container that fit inside to hold my protein without opening up was a challenge too (you can put the protein powder on the bottom of the cup and add water, but then end up with a big chunk of goo later…).

Enter The Cyclone Cup. What’s really cool about it is it all fits into one container…there is a screw on cup on the bottom to hold your protein powder so all you have to do is add water to the main part of the container, screw off the protein powder and drop in. Now I have to say I WAS pretty skeptical whether the do-hickey thingy that mixes would work as good as the blender ball. Well, after  a half-dozen uses, I am sold!

The cups come in numerous colors…so if you are a fashion conscious gym goer, you can have one that matches every one of your outfits! This can also be used for mixing pancakes, salad dressings, or anything you want mixed. It’s convenient and very sturdy, so it should last for many years to come. Let me know what you think!


Categories: Member Feeds

11/12/14 - Sawbill pizza paddle...

Sawbill Newsletter - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:51am

11/12/14 - Greg Grit, Technology and Engineering instructor at Plymouth, Minnesota High School, sent along this picture of his student, Kyle Schwibinger, with a pizza paddle that he made including a laser imprint of Kyle's favorite outfitter's logo. - Bill

Kyle is a frequent Sawbill camper and now can think of Sawbill whenever he removes a pizza from the oven.

Categories: Member Feeds

Apples, Cranberries and Turkey In One = Num!

Aging Youthful - Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:00am

Today’s #RecipeOfTheWeek has ingredients I love separately, but would not have thought about putting them together and cooking in a crock pot. I found this on the awesome PaleoGrubs website. While I am not a total #Paleo follower, I do limit my intake of carbs, especially grains, as my body has a slight gluten intolerance and they tend to bloat me and cause inflammation in my body. It’s all a part of the autoimmune issues I have, going back to having Grave’s Disease resulting in my thyroid being removed in my early-30′s.

Moving on…here is the awesome recipe! (AND it is done in a crock pot, so it makes it EASY! Healthy and easy is my motto!).

Cranapple Crockpot Turkey Breast


  • One 5-6 pound bone-in, skin-on turkey breast
  • 3 apples, sliced (I choose not to peel them, but you could if you wanted to)
  • 4 cups raw cranberries, rinsed and “mushy ones” removed
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


Place turkey breast in a large crockpot/slow cooker.  (I had to place mine on its side to get it to fit.)  Sprinkle with salt.  Surround with apples and cranberries.  Pour vinegar and maple syrup over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat is cooked through and fruits are softened.  (About an hour before dinner, I turned the turkey over on its other side, but I don’t think this step is essential.)

After removing the turkey breast from the crockot, “mush” the berries and apple slices a bit, and then serve them over the top of the turkey.  Easy and delicious!

Categories: Member Feeds

The BHTs of Preservatives

Aging Youthful - Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:00am

This week’s #WhatsREALLYInOurFood posting is checking in on a food preservative, BHT. According to the Save Our Bones website, BHT is:

…used to prevent oxidation in a wide variety of foods and cosmetics is listed by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in 2005 as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” on the basis of experimental findings in animals. It is also used in jet fuels, rubber petroleum products, transformer oil and embalming fluid. As if this were not enough, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) warns that BHT should not be allowed to enter the environment, can cause liver damage, and is harmful to aquatic organisms.

This additive is not without controversy. Depending on which article you read and website you click on, it can be found to be safe in high doses in animals and others, it’s not. The reverse has been found to be true: it is safe in low doses, but not in high doses. Who do you believe???

As with most of the chemicals in our food supply, BHT mostly shows up in highly processed foods such as chips and breakfast cereals. As I coach the people I work with, limit your intake of processed foods, opting for more one-ingredient foods for the bulk of your diet. Use your favorite processed food as a treat, not as a staple. I suggest following the 80/2o rule of eating right 80% of the time. The problems usually come in when we eat processed and fast foods 80% of the time. Use it as a treat, not as a staple. Where is this chemical found?

Remember, you ARE what we eat. If you eat garbage, you will have a garbage body. You deserve better than to fuel yourself with garbage, unless of course, your name is Oscar The Grouch.

Categories: Member Feeds

Help Clear the Downed trees on the Banadad

Banadad Bulletin - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 9:24am

GiveMn-Give to the max day -November 13

A wind storm this summer dropped hundreds of trees down across the Banadad within the BWCA. We are working on clearing these trees .

While the Banadad Trail Association recently received a $5,000 grant from the US Forest Service to help pay for this work, we have to match those funds with 35% of that amount in order to access the funds. The Banadad Trail Association needs your help so we can clear the remaining 3-4 miles of Trail and get the Banadad open for skiing this winter.

We are turning to outdoor enthusiasts, skiers, and other who love the Banadad Trail and asking if you can help support this work with a donation.  If you are able,  please donate to the Banadad Trail at Giving to max day – November 13 -  GiveMN.  Thanks

Categories: Member Feeds

Happy Halloween!

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 9:28am

Halloween weather can vary so much you’re not quite sure if it’s fall or winter.    I can remember as a child trick or treating. More often than not the costume was covered up by the necessary winter apparel only to be shed and carried along as we raced from house to house.

2014 First snow.

We had an inch of snow last night.  Driving home from town it seemed like the Halloween blizzard of 1991 when 31 inches of snow welcomed Bob and I back to the northwoods after a couple years in Seattle.  The snowfall was so dense last night I literally could not see more than a few feet in front of the car.  I stopped at Trail Center to give my eyes a quick rest.  Even the UPS Driver stopped for a short break stating that he drives the trail every day and this was the worst he had seen.  15 minutes later the visibility had lightened up and we were back on the road traveling slowly.

The total accumulation seemed to be between 1-2.5 inches but this is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving the trail.  We’re all used to pavement & good road conditions.  The snow may come down frozen, but can ice up quickly when it meets the warm pavement.  Without snowbanks built up on the sides of the road a little spin or sliding can result in some serious damage or worse injury.  So remember – drive cautiously and pull over in a safe spot to let others pass if they’re pushing you.  Better to arrive a couple minutes late, than not at all!


Categories: Member Feeds

Autumn Days at Chik-Wauk

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 11:47am

Golden tamaracks lining the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center driveway mean autumn is upon us and the 2014 museum season is quickly drawing to a close. Be sure to visit and catch this year’s temporary exhibit on Butterflies, Skippers, and Moths of the Gunflint Trail before we lock up our doors for the winter months at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 19th. (Until then, we’re open every single day from 10 a. m. -  5 p.m.)

As you drive up to the museum, you might notice large flocks of brown birds along the Gunflint Trail roadside. These are Lapland Longspurs, making their way to their southerly wintering grounds. Soon the longspurs will be replaced by snow buntings and not too long after that, the snow will fly in earnest.  Here’s a nice photo of the Chik-Wauk bay in its autumn colors to distract you from the ever-approaching winter.

While you’re at the museum, get a head start on your holiday shopping with our gift shop sale, offering up to 40% off select items.

Sunday, October 19 is the final day the museum will be open this year. After that, you’ll have to wait until May 23, 2015 to visit and see the 2015 temporary exhibit, “The Gunflint Trail’s Paper Trail” featuring brochures, diaries, correspondence, and other paper items that originated on the Gunflint Trail.

Categories: Member Feeds

Eastern Meets Nordic: Autumn 2014 Trollbeads

Sivertson Gallery - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 1:36am


When I was first introduced to Trollbeads, it was the Scandinavian connection that first peaked my interest. The delicate, silver Dala Horse bead, Thor’s Hammer and the adorable photos of the Danish Family members who ran the company, I felt right at home. Trollbeads, even the name evokes images of mossy rocks, streams and the smell of the deep forest. I was hooked.

As the time has passed, and my love for Trollbeads becomes an addiction, my bracelet has transformed from Scandinavian … read more

The post Eastern Meets Nordic: Autumn 2014 Trollbeads appeared first on Sivertson Blog.

Categories: Member Feeds

How do you say THANKS?!

I’m down to my last couple days working here in Grand Marais and on the Gunflint Ranger District………it has been quite a ride here.  For those of you who are wondering, I started in Grand Marais in August of 2001 and I’ll be leaving here in a couple days so that makes it pretty much eleven years on the nose that I’ve been here……and my time here has been pretty much spectacular.

The thing about that is, I can’t take a lot of credit, there have been so many people working with me that have really done the work.  We have some outstanding employees here in our office and they keep charging forward to help us meet our budget commitments.  And then they do more to help us within the community.  

Much of our forest is about 100 years old and you’ve noticed the older trees are dying.  The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway committee, the biologists from the State and the Tribes, the County Biomass Committee, the timber industry and several local landowners have worked with us to find ways to restore our forests to a healthier state.  One of the facts I learned last Friday is that on the Gunflint District during my time here, we have planted 2.1 million trees, a combination of white, red and jack pine, white spruce, cedar and tamarack will be the next forest we all enjoy. 

Speaking of new forests, we have had around 800 volunteers planting and caring for trees during Gunflint Greenup.  We have had our challenges, but this community doesn’t say quit.  After Ham Lake Fire, there were plenty of reasons for despair, we all could have slumped back to drown our sorrows but another choice was made, a choice to clean up and create a new forest.  The Scenic Byway Committee wrote and received a $250,000 grant for the purposes of forest restoration.  With that we cleaned up some of the dead trees along the Gunflint, prepared some areas for planting, planted seedlings and seeded jack pine.  As you drive up the Gunflint, you can start to see the next generation of forest and it will have a healthy component of pine trees.

Of course Ham Lake was only one of five major fires we had during my time here…..or should I say five major wildfires.  If you look back at the blowdown of 1999, no small event, there have been a number of opportunities for us to get together and find reasons to succeed.  For several years we got together and worked on prescribed fire, I think totaling about 40,000 acres worth.  I’m sure that for many of you it may have seemed like we were coming in heavy handed to get these things done.  However from my point of view we worked with a lot of businesses up the Trail and I got to work with a lot of great people.  Without you, our work would have been a real challenge, but with you, we accomplished quite a bit.

Then the real fires started. Alpine Lake, Cavity Lake, Redeye Lake, Famine Lake………and then Ham Lake, the most destructive fire in our forest’s history.  There were homes, businesses, garages and out building lost, 148 between the US and Canada, but “WE” survived……and through working together have grown stronger because of it.  I mentioned Gunflint Greenup, but there is also the Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center, and our venture with Becoming a Boundary Waters Family.  Three great partnerships working together for the good of our forest.

Then there was that peculiar change of events.  Toward the end of 2007, we were “as dry as we have seen it up here”…..until September when the rain started.  I remember someone telling me their lake went up 14 inches with one storm.  Who would have thought that next we would have eight inches in two hours on June 6, 2008?  I’m not sure how wide spread that rain was, but it sure was on the slopes above Grand Marais………..and water still flows downhill…….and that much water REALLY flows downhill……really fast….and will move heaven and earth………or at least a lot of earth.

But again, we found a way to work together and I could even find one bright spot in all that.  Some of you know that I bike to work, at least on the nicer days.  Well for much of the rest of the summer, I had a lane on the hill going down the Gunflint pretty much to myself…….or at least that part of the lane that didn’t wash away.  Once it was fixed, I again was sharing the road and waving to friends as they passed me.

Friends……..I’d somehow like to acknowledge all the friends I’ve made up here and all I’ve worked with…….. or maybe I should say all of you who put up with me……….but I know if I tried, I’d forget someone and all of you are important.  So I’ll generalize a bit and hope you all know how special you’ve made my time here.  Before I arrived, I met and was working with Sheriff Dave Wirt and that only got better after I settled in.  When he retired in early 2005 and Sheriff Mark Falk took over, we continued that great working relationship.  I wondered a few times if Sheriff Dave knew what 2005 would bring with Alpine Lake fire and the beginning of our large fires?  Talk about a new Sheriff being baptized by fire……..and the start of a great working relationship!!!  Then there are the rest of the office, the deputies and dispatch people I got to know……it has been great!!

Within the Cook County Board of Commissioners there have been a few changes since I arrived.  I believe Jan Hall is the only commissioner who has been on the board throughout my tenure here.  I have gotten to work with nearly all the commissioners on one project or another and I truly appreciate all that we have done together.

Though maybe not as visible, I have had the pleasure of working with Grand Portage on several issues.  Norman DesChampe has been the Chairman throughout my tenure and with his staff we have struck an outstanding working relationship.  Norman is one of the great leaders within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes and I can only think how lucky I’ve been to know and work with him.

I’ve mentioned the support and help we’ve gotten from businesses in the County and that has been nothing short of amazing.  There is just no way we could achieve what we do without the support and help from all of you.  As strange as it might seem, much of our wildlife habitat management and our fuels reduction goals are accomplished through the timber industry and logging.  Most everyone knows Hedstroms and we are very lucky to have them in our back yard, but there are also so many others working in the woods to help us do what we think is right for our forests.  As I think about it, the eagle and wolf populations have been successfully restored, and we’re working on the lynx.  Our next challenge is likely moose and we’ll keep working with the tribes and DNR to do what we can for that species.

A special relationship we have is with the outfitters, guides and hospitality businesses who help us manage the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as well as our campgrounds.  Special because we need those people to help us succeed, but sometimes the policies that come from our upper levels can …………well……..add a little stress.  And I am humbled by how patient my business friends can be to find a way to keep going………I think it’s patience…….?  But I do know how much I appreciate what they do for us.

Since the volunteer fire departments are………well………volunteer, I’m pretty much talking about many of the same people who work in businesses or other agencies.  But the relationship is different when you’re working side by side.  Now we meet, train and work together to help all of our friends in Cook County…….as it should be.

The other agencies are many, from the City of Grand Marais to the County, the State, Grand Portage and even Canada.  I’ve said this in different meetings, but the way you have all come together during our natural disasters is a model for the nation.  Several of the people who have come here to help with those disasters have commented on how they are used to having to bring communities together when they come to help.  But in our community ………….well the leaders here pretty much had their acts together and the incoming teams were in awe of what they saw….doesn’t get much better than that!!

There have been a few other adventures that we have worked on together, a snowmobile trail connection with Grand Portage, some other trail reroutes, a county wide ATV plan (which after all the debate, we’ve finally implemented), some work in our campgrounds, a few miles of hiking trail work, biking trails, a few hundred acres of fuels reduction along with a variety of small projects, too many to name, where I’ve had the chance to work with so many citizens of Cook County where I owe you all so much and thank you so much for  your help.

The one disappointment I have is that I have to this point been unable to bring a solution for access to South Fowl Lake.  As I leave I know I have some co-workers back here who’ll help see that through the final steps.  My disappointment extends to the fact that though this really is a fairly small project, I was unable to bring people together for a resolution.  We are cleaning up a few details that will support my decision and the final proposal before it is submitted it to the Court. 

So as I prepare my next adventure, I leave here grateful for all those who’ve chosen to work with me, grateful to be a part of a resilient community, grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.  But mostly grateful for the friends that have welcomed my family and me to be a part of Cook County!


Categories: Member Feeds

Babes in the Bay

The Portage Path - Fri, 06/29/2012 - 5:59am

The loon parents are very proud and fairly loud about their new babies.  They’ve been feeding and bragging in the bay over the last few days.  The chicks are pretty big already and can dive on their own so this is not a fresh hatch.

The photo is not very sharp but you get the idea.  We have a pro photographer with a super lens staying here right now so I imagine we’ll get some better shots quickly.

It’s windy and dry but fairly close to another perfect day in a long string of perfect days this summer.



Categories: Member Feeds

Yup, you can get here…

The Portage Path - Wed, 06/20/2012 - 6:21pm

Just had some folks arrive from the Twin Cities.  They said they actually made it through Duluth without much difficulty, though on surface streets up the hill a ways.  Hwy 35 is still a mess.

They said the rivers along the shore were spectacular.  That was what slowed them down.

You can get here.


Categories: Member Feeds

Yes, you can get here…

The Portage Path - Wed, 06/20/2012 - 3:47pm

We’ve had a bunch of rain and so has all of northern Minnesota. Our gauge on HJ lake shows about 4 inches. Notable but not biblical. Duluth was particularly hard hit as was the road system in Duluth. So driving through Duluth is not recommended right now though changing rapidly. There are roads around Duluth via Cloquet and once past Two harbors Hwy 61 is passable. We just got a phone call from a friend driving on 61 just north of Two Harbors and he said things were good.

We’re sending people out and we just had a group come in who said the rain was actually kind of fun.

This too shall pass.

The MN Department of Transportation website has already shown a lag between reality and what they have posted.

Bottom line is you can get here and have fun.


Categories: Member Feeds