Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Art therapy studio opens in Grand Marais

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 1:20pm

Local resident Belle Janicek has opened a new therapy business in Grand Marais.  WTIP's Joe Friedrichs spoke with her about the new art therapy studio located in the Cook County Higher Education building. 


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County assessor submits letter of resignation

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 12:53pm

Cook County Assessor Betty Schultz has submitted a letter of resignation to the County Board. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reports on this story. 


Cook County High School Band returns from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 10:19am

The Cook County High School Band traveled to Cleveland last weekend for quite an adventure.  The band spent Friday morning studying with Dr. Birch Browning of Cleveland State University where they were taught many helpful techniques to improve their sound and musicianship. The band visited—and played at—the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They also attended a Twins game against the Cleveland Indians (the Twins won!), visited the Great Lakes Science Museum and Hard Rock Café and more.

They got home at 4:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday, performed at a concert for hometown fans, along with the Middle School choir, 6th grade band and combined 6th, 7th and 8th grade bands.

At the end of the evening, Bilben recognized her senior band members and presented several awards. She presented the John Philips Sousa Award to three students – Sara Carman, Owen Anderson and Madison Roy. Receiving the 2016 North Shore Music Association scholarship was Isabel Wahlers. And earning the Unsung Heroes Award were Lily Gruber Schultz and Shauna Blake.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Community gathers to consider Cook County's arts economy

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 10:17am

Community members were invited to an “IDEA” meeting on Wednesday, May 11 at the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais. The invitation came from the Cook County Arts and Culture Economic Planning Team, which was formed following the interesting results of the study released in November 2105 which showed that the nonprofit arts and culture sector of Cook County’s economy generates over $4.6 million in total economic impact annually.

The study, Creative Minnesota: The Impact and Health of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector, found that 17 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Cook County support the equivalent of 127 full time jobs in the city, and that 78,000 people attend nonprofit arts and cultural events annually.

According to Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, which conducted the study, although Cook County ranked 16th of the 17 local areas studied in size of population, the county ranked 7th in overall economic impact. Cook County ranked 3rd among the cities studied in this report, behind only Minneapolis and St. Paul, in per capita economic impact from the arts and culture, with a whopping $889 for every one of the county’s 5,176 residents.

Smith was on hand at Voyageur Brewing to deliver a first hand summary of the study and to offer encouragement to Cook County as it proceeds with its road map and strategy to develop Cook County as an arts destination.

Other speakers were Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, County Commissioner Jan Sivertson, Visit Cook County Director Linda Kratt and others, all pledging to work together to strengthen the arts economy.

For more information about the Cook County Arts and Culture Economic Planning Team, contact Amy Demmer at (218) 387-2737 or


North Shore Care Center hosts brunch for volunteers

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 11:44pm

The annual Volunteer Appreciation Brunch at the North Shore Care Center will be held on Wednesday, May 25 at 10:00 a.m. The residents and staff want to acknowledge our many volunteers who shared their time and talents with us in 2015. Activities Director Belinda Hudler said, “Our volunteers are truly our greatest natural resource—enriching the lives of our residents, and keeping them connected to the community. Thanks for all that you do!”

For more information about volunteer opportunities at North Shore Care Center or to check out the May calendar of events, please contact the Activity Department at 387-3518 or our website:


This news is brought to you by the Cook County News-Herald, the community newspaper for 125 years. Find the News-Herald at


Sue Dittus makes the big jump on her 80th

Tue, 05/24/2016 - 11:50am

On May 20th Grand Marais resident Sue Dittus turned 80. To celebrate, she jumped from an airplane at 5,000 feet.  Wtip's Jay Andersen spoke with Sue on "Daybreak."


Invasive species likely to impact future of North Shore watersheds

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 12:32pm

This is the second in a five-part series that focuses on clean and sustainable water along Lake Superior’s North Shore. The story describes the role invasive species might play in shaping the future of the Lake Superior North Watershed.


Booster Club and Dairy Queen host Blizzard Blow-Out

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 10:42am

The Grand Marais Dairy Queen is joining forces with the Cook County Booster Club to support Cook County athletics. On May 24, the day of the last Cook County Vikings’ home baseball game, the Dairy Queen will be hosting the Booster Club Blizzard Blow-Out. From 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. the proceeds from every Blizzard sold will benefit the Booster Club.

The proceeds of every Blizzard sold, mini, small or large; fudge-filled Royal or traditional, will go toward Cook County High School athletic programs.

Almost 150 athletes participate in Viking sports at all levels, according to Athletic Director Pam Taylor, and the school can only provide about $350 per sport each year. The Booster Club raises around $20,000 annually to supplement that.

In the past, the Booster Club has funded things like baseball bats and practice balls, track and field shots and spikes, tournament busses, a movie camera for the basketball and football teams, lots of protective gear and helmets and more.

In addition to a delicious treat and the good feeling of supporting the community’s student athletes, members of the Cook County Booster Club will be on hand to talk to anyone interested in becoming part of the Booster Club team. Volunteers are needed in a variety of roles to keep the Booster Club going. Whether it’s taking a few stints in the concession stand at games or serving on the board, there are many opportunities. The Booster Club invites everyone to come learn how they could help.

If you would like more information about the Booster Club but are unable to make it to the Blizzard Blow-Out, contact Board Member Debbie Bakke at


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

"Polar plunge" off the Hovland dock postponed

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 10:40am

MaeAnna LaFavor is going on a trip to visit Trinity Lutheran Church’s partner congregation of the Bonne Nouvelle (Good News) Church in Bigonet, Haiti in June, and in an effort to raise money, a youth group fundraiser was planned for tomorrow, May 25. However, due to weather concerns, the event has been postponed to Wednesday, June 1. 

The “Polar Plunge” will begin at 4 p.m. with a bonfire and hot dog roast at the Hovland Dock on Chicago Bay Road. The jumping will begin a little after 5:15 p.m.

The rules are pretty simple: Everyone who jumps wears a life jacket (bring one if you can, but we’ll some of various sizes); there will be a ladder from the dock into the Lake Superior for everyone to climb out easily (and quickly!); we send the jumpers off one or two at a time (some folks like to jump two or three times, and you can do that after everyone has had a turn); and everyone under 18 who jumps needs a release signed by their parents.

There will be a tent set up for changing into dry clothes, a bonfire for warming up by; hot dogs for roasting along with marshmallows, veggies and apples, pop and water. A member of the local EMT team will be on hand.

A free-will offering of money will be collected in order to help MaeAnna with her travel expenses, and photos of the event will be sent to the ministry partners in Haiti so they can share in the fun.

For more information, contact Pastor Kris Garey at (218) 475-2439.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

North Shore residents share experiences from volunteering in National Parks

Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:52am

Two Cook County women have been volunteering their services at America’s National Parks and other places of notoriety across the country. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with these local residents, and has a preview to an event they are hosting this week at the Cook County Higher Ed building. 


WTIP Weekend News Roundup for May 21

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 10:26am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Fire news again dominated the week. Mesabi Academy is set to close. The City of Waukesha is on track to get Great Lakes wate …all this and more in the week’s news.


Paddlers heading from Gunflint Trail to Hudson Bay explore value of fishing

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:18pm

Grand Marais resident Tessa Larson was hoping to learn a few fishing tips before her big trip from Seagull Lake all the way to Hudson Bay this summer. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs met up with Tessa to see what they could accomplish. 

To donate to Wilderness Canoe Base and to find out more on Tessa's upcoming trip, click here.  



Local Forest Service fire manager discusses prescribed burn policy

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 11:42am

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Patty Johnson, the fire management officer for the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, about why prescribed burns are orchestrated when fire danger is high in the surrounding national forest. 


Prescribed burn near Ely now classified as wildfire

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 6:49pm

A prescribed burn started by the United States Forest Service just west of Ely has escaped and is now considered a wildfire.

The fire is heading north through a dry forest toward the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The fire escaped at approximately 2 p.m. today and firefighting crews, including aerial support, are presently fighting the blaze.

This is from a press release via the Forest Service sent late Thursday afternoon:

The Superior National Forest has a prescribed fire that escaped the containment lines this afternoon at 1400. The fire escaped to the north and west of Foss Lake. We have declared the prescribed fire a wildfire and have air tankers, helicopters, and additional ground fire fighters assisting with containing the escape.
We are also initiating aerial reconnaissance of the lakes to the north and east of the Crab lake entry point. We will notify visitors of the fire moving in the area. The fire is north of highway 169, north of the far western end of the Wolf Lake Road, west of South end of Burntside Lake.

According to reports from the area, the smoke column can be seen from many miles away and a number of 911 calls came in reporting the fire.

Stay tuned to WTIP in the coming days for more information on this fire burning near Ely and the BWCAW. 

Mesabi Academy set to close in wake of allegations

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 3:19pm

Mesabi Academy announced Thursday that it will close its program located on the Iron Range and transition youth at the facility back to their placing agency by the end of June, according to a release from officials at the facility.

A recent and ongoing investigative series from American Public Media into the Mesabi Academy, which is a juvenile corrections facility located in the tiny town of Buhl, has brought a string of reaction and emotion to the region and beyond. Allegations directed toward the facility focused on abuse, some of which were sexual in nature. 

According to Cook County officials, there were at least several boys housed at the facility as of May 11. However, Sue Futterer, the director of Cook County Human Services, said her department was in the process of removing those youth prior to the announcement of Mesabi Academy closing.

The decision to close the correctional and school facility follows in the footsteps of this month’s removal of youth placed by Hennepin and Ramsey counties, and the decision by Minnesota’s Department of Corrections to halt admissions at Mesabi.

“This has been a very difficult decision, because we know the allegations made or insinuated through the media reports are not true,” the statement said. “Mesabi Academy has provided excellent care and a safe environment for the youth placed there since its founding in 1998. It's completely unfair that the exceptional work of our staff has been called into question in these reports, and that they have been characterized as having any higher priority than the safety and well-being of the kids placed at Mesabi Academy.”

To listen to a recent story on WTIP about Mesabi Academy and the allegations, click here.