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News and other information from Cook County

Septic installers to meet with P & Z April 8

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 5:42am

On Wednesday, April 8, septic system installers will again meet with members of the county’s Planning and Zoning department to review areas of agreement and concern over implementation of the current septic ordinance. County Planning Director Tim Nelson told WTIP he believes we have a very good and professional bunch of septic contractors who do have the very difficult task of trying to design and install affordable systems in our county under challenging physical and regulatory conditions.  He also believes that they are very close to finishing up with the ordinance language revisions, especially with regard to a couple of sticking points.

The current Cook County Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems (SSTS) Ordinance was adopted on March 11, 2014 after several  years of being worked on initially by a committee appointed by commissioners and then
continued through a special task force. The process included several public hearings, county board work session and meetings with septic contractors.

Nelson points out that when the SSTS Ordinance was published for the final public hearing before the Planning Commission, there wasn’t a single public comment submitted, and nobody attended the hearing to speak to the ordinance provisions either in favor or in opposition. He said we all  took that as a sign that people were ready to move forward. That said, unexpected issues are always anticipated with new ordinances.

Planning and Environmental Health staff have met informally with the septic contractors since early January of this year with the intent of listening to their concerns and comments, and to further explore possible ordinance amendments and improvements in customer service to make the program more efficient and equitable.

At the April 8 meeting, staff and contractors will meet to review a final set of proposed ordinance provisions that will be discussed at a public hearing with the Planning Commission on April 29. After that it goes to the County Board for adoption, prior to the start of the construction season.

Issues expected to be reviewed April 8 include revising the approach to inspections and enforcement as well as the process of “abandonment” -- or the destruction of old systems. Nelson said one of the main concerns also expressed by the installers was the desire to see improved customer service from the Environmental Health staff. He said all department staff members will be required to attend two levels of customer service training including providing exceptional customer service, and how to handle situations in ways to keep disagreements from escalating.

In recognition that septic issues are often “flash points” Nelson has met with regional Planning & Zoning Administrators, and gained support for
starting a regional group of just the septic inspectors as a means of promoting consistence throughout the region where possible, and encourage peer internal growth & development.

Nelson said, “Our goal is to build trust through very clear, reasonable
and consistent standards, and to balance our responsibility of environmental protection with the flexibility needed for our unique county topography and features.”


Happy Easter and Passover!

Sun, 04/05/2015 - 8:33am

Holiday greetings and Happy Spring from all of us at the Cook County News-Herald!

Minnesota Deer Hunter Association sponsors Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps

Sun, 04/05/2015 - 8:07am

At a time when most states are watching hunter numbers fall, Minnesota is enviably experiencing a fairly stable hunter population. Why? One reason may be the subtle but prolific Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps sponsored by Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA).

MDHA’s Forkhorn Youth Summer Camps certify youth 11-17 years of age in Firearms Safety, Bow Hunter Education and Advanced Hunter Education. Additionally, campers learn about woodsmanship, ethical hunting, wilderness survival, wildlife biology, hunting techniques and much more.

MDHA has seven environmental learning center locations across Minnesota. Facilities include the Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement in Maple Plain, Deep Portage Conservation Reserve in Hackensack, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro, Kiwanis Boy Scout Camp in Marine on the St. Croix, Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer, Laurentian Environmental learning Center in Britt, and Long Lake Conservation Center in Palisade.

The Arrowhead Chapter of Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is now accepting applications for Forkhorn Camp scholarships.  This year, the Arrowhead Chapter in Cook County will provide up to $2,625 and six scholarships for area youth.  This is made possible by several local fund raising projects throughout the year with the support of our community.

To apply with MDHA’s Arrowhead Chapter for a Forkhorn Camp scholarship, contact Orvis Lunke at (218) 370-1200 for more details and to get on the active list.


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

Donkeyball comes to CCHS Monday, April 6

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 10:10am

Come one, come all, it’s a fun evening of Donkeyball!

This invitation comes from the Cook County High School Band which is hosting an evening of Donkeyball on Monday, April 6 at 6 p.m. to raise funds for the band trip in 2016. The community is invited to come watch classmates, friends and neighbors play basketball while riding live donkeys.

One game will be a match between Cook County Law Enforcement and the Grand Marais Fire Department.

Donkey rides will be available at halftime for kids 12 and under.

The audience will find out the “winner” of the Kiss-the-Donkey contest. Voting is open now for students and community members to see which of the Cook County Schools administration will have to kiss a real, live, donkey—Superintendent Beth Schwarz, Principal Gwen Carman or Principal Adam Nelson. There are donation buckets at the school in which votes can be cast. The public is invited to come out and “vote” with cash. Whoever raises the most money will have to kiss a donkey in front of the crowd.

Tickets are available in advance at $7 each at Mike’s Holiday, Arrowhead Pharmacy or the Cook County Schools office. They are also available for purchase from CCHS band members. Tickets will be $9 at the door, so get them in advance and save.


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

WTIP earns Associated Press honors

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 10:05am

WTIP North Shore Community Radio has been recognized in the 2014 Minnesota AP Broadcasters Awards.

Station staff and volunteers regularly produce features that bring a variety of voices and perspectives on topics that explore the rich culture of the North Shore region.

The Associated Press recently announced that several of these features and services have been selected as AP News Award winners. 

In the Series and Specials category, first place went to The Lake Superior Project: Trafficking & Lake Superior, by Kelly Schoenfelder. First place in the Writing category went to Gus’ Wild Side: Cache Lake Country by Dennis Kaleta and Martha Marnocha.

In the Feature category, the station won honorable mention for: Local Music Project: Radio Waves, by Will Moore. Also receiving honorable mention in the Documentary category was History Speaks: Ernest Oberholtzer –Advocate for the Quetico-Superior, by Martha Marnocha.

The overall Best in Show award was granted to The Lake Superior Project: Trafficking & Lake Superior, by Kelly Schoenfelder, and WTIP’s website received The Best Website award.

“We’re honored to receive these awards,” said WTIP’s executive director Deb Benedict. “The AP has acknowledged the quality work we’re doing to produce culturally-rich and thoughtful content, both on the air and on our website.” 

The Associated Press is the world's oldest and largest news gathering organization. The cooperative of newspapers, radio stations and television stations provides text, audio, graphics, video, photos and technology to more than 15,000 news outlets worldwide.

To listen to the award-winning features, to learn more about WTIP’s efforts, and to check out WTIP’s award-winning website, visit


Minnesota Supreme Court suspends ex-prosecutor's license

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 3:35am

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended the license of a former northern Minnesota prosecutor convicted of sexual misconduct involving a teenage girl.

The court took the action Wednesday against former Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell of Grand Marais.

Scannell was convicted of two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct last year and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Jurors decided Scannell abused a position of authority when he kissed and touched the 17-year-old during drives they took in 2012.

The director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility filed the petition to discipline Scannell.

In its order, the Supreme Court said Scannell must wait three years before filing for reinstatement. He also has to pay $900 in costs.