Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Rain, wind and maybe snow in the forecast

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:13am

The weather will turn wetter and cooler and stay that way through Saturday. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Bill Leatham.



EDA endorses Cook County Arts & Culture Economy plan

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:09am

Grand Marais Art Colony Executive Director Amy Demmer, chair of the Cook County Arts & Culture Economy Planning Team, came before the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) on September 19 to ask for the EDA’s help in leveraging creativity. 

Demmer was referring to a McKnight Foundation capacity building grant was used to develop a plan titled Leveraging Creativity: the Cook County Cultural Plan.

Demmer said the arts economy planning team was holding a final retreat on October 25 and at that time would adopt the plan. She said it is now time to implement the plan and asked for the EDA’s assistance.

The arts economy planning group asked that EDA Director Mary Somnis be allowed to schedule meetings, act as chair at meetings and provide other logistics. Demmer said it the assistance would likely be no more than 15 hours a month.

Somnis said she felt this was an appropriate task for the EDA director, noting that some tenets of the plan are things that the EDA is already involved in, such as marketing the community and developing public and private partnerships. In fact, Somnis said, one of the goals of the plan calls for “affordable housing options for low-to-mid-income residents, including artists” which perfectly parallels the EDA’s housing initiatives.

The EDA board agreed to lend the director’s time to facilitating the arts economy plan.


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

Emerald Ash Borer crawls closer to the North Shore

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 8:28am

The invasive insect Emerald Ash Borer continues its spread across northeastern Minnesota. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with staff from the Department of Agriculture about what this means for residents of, and visitors to the North Shore. 


City Council to consider changes to public comment period

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 12:21pm

Due to a number of schedule conflicts, Grand Marais city councilors held their second meeting of the month a day earlier than usual, convening at 9 a.m. Sept. 27 in City Hall.

After the usual time for public comments, there was a short discussion among councilors about the open forum policy and what should–or shouldn’t–be allowed during the citizen’s allotted five minutes.

Councilor Tracy Benson said the citizens have five minutes “to say whatever…and we don’t have to react.” She suggested that persons with zoning concerns should visit the office and speak with Roth before coming to the council meeting.

Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux disagreed, saying he didn’t want to change the nature of the open forum. “It’s important to say what they want and communicate with the council,” he said, noting that council could then help by directing citizens to the appropriate person or department to address their problems. “People should have the opportunity to air their grievances, but there is some responsibility that goes with it,” said the mayor in reference to recent incidents of false accusations, insults and disrespect shown to councilors and city staff at public meetings.

There were no decisions made about revising the open forum policy, but the mayor said it is a topic that may be revisited at a future meeting.


Todd Smith takes oath of office as Cook County Assessor

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 12:20pm

Todd Smith, who has been working in the Cook County Assessors Office since March 2015 took the oath of office to become the new Cook County Assessor on September 27.

Court Administrator Kim Shepherd administered the oath.

The board thanked Smith for his work to date as assistant Assessor. Smith had to obtain his Accredited Minnesota Assessor (AMA) credentialing, before being appointed. He will have two years to obtain his Senior Accredited Minnesota Assessor (SAMA) from the time of the appointment.

Commissioner Gamble added, “Thanks for going back to school on our behalf.”

Smith grinned and said, “There will be more of that!”


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

Cook County Whole Foods Co-op turns 40

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 11:02am

The Cook County Whole Foods Co-Op turns 40 this week. An event will take place at the Co-op in downtown Grand Marais to celebrate the birthday of the local grocer in Grand Marais. The event is from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this feature on the local grocery.


Grand Marais Planning & Zoning to consider non-conforming use ordinance Wednesday

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 9:39am

Grand Marais Planning and Zoning will consider changes to the city’s ordinance regarding non-conforming use within the city at the Planning Commission Meeting on October 5 at 4 p.m. at Grand Marais City Hall.

The possible need for ordinance changes were brought forward by a seemingly simple request for an amendment to the zoning map of the City of Grand Marais. The request for came from Steve Surbaugh and Mike Larson of Cascade Vacation Rentals who are interested in purchasing the Norshor building at the intersection of First Avenue and First Street in Grand Marais from Bob Spry. The building, the long ago Johnson’s Grocery Store, has commercial space on the lower level and an apartment upstairs.

The request led to lengthy discussion at meetings of the Grand Marais Planning Commission and City Council and finally to a possible ordinance change.


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

Buildings to be moved from former Tomteboda/Gateway Resort site

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 9:37am

The former Tomteboda Resort/Gateway Lodge property now belongs to the City of Grand Marais and it will eventually be the site of the city’s public works facility. The property is being cleared by citizens taking the city up on the offer to purchase structures at bargain basement prices with the understanding that they be moved to other locations.

At the September 14 city council meeting, City Administrator Mike Roth told the council that the city had received a purchase offer from Gary and Ann Jorgenson of Grand Marais for the building that served as an information center/restaurant for Gateway Lodge. Roth noted that the city hadn’t decided whether or not it wanted to keep the building to repurpose in some way.

Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux said if the council entertained the offer of $1,000 for the building, it would be moved for them. Councilor Tracy Benson pointed out that the city purchased the site for the land. “We don’t want to be in the property management business,” she said.

Benson made a motion, seconded by Councilor Anton Moody to sell the building to the Jorgensons. Roth said the family would be moving the building to their property east of Grand Marais to be converted to a residence.


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

The cooler weather arrives mid-week as autumn kicks in

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 8:07am

Looks like nice fall weather the beginning of the week, changing to rainy Wednesday and Thursday, and then much cooler weather in store for the end of the week.WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson.



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North Shore air quality 'above average' in Minnesota

Mon, 10/03/2016 - 7:04am

Air pollution has become a growing concern in the past few years, including here in Minnesota. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this feature on the air quality along the North Shore and in other parts of Minnesota.


Join the walking school bus on October 5 -- International Walk to School Day

Sun, 10/02/2016 - 11:36am

Cook County Safe Routes to School (SRTS) strives to improve the health of kids and our community by making walking and bicycling to school safer, easier, and more enjoyable. An October Walking School Bus will be on Wednesday, Oct. 5 in conjunction with International Walk to School Day.

Walking School Buses are groups of students and adult volunteers walking to school together. Officers from local law enforcement and members of the Active Living Steering Committee will accompany the groups.

Each Walking School Bus stops at ISD 166 and GES in time for school to begin. If your student normally gets a ride to school, come in a little early and walk or bike with the Walking School Bus from one of the starting locations: the Cook County Courthouse (7:30 a.m. departure), Birchwood Apartments (7:40 a.m. departure), or County Road 7 and Seventh Avenue East (7:40 a.m. departure). Students are welcome to join along the route or meet at the starting location.

For more information about Safe Routes to School or to volunteer, contact SRTS Coordinator Maren Webb at (218) 387-2330 or


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




Care Center honors centenarians

Sat, 10/01/2016 - 5:29pm

September was a busy month for the residents at the North Shore Health Care Center. On September 20, the Care Center honored its three centenarians with a cake and ice cream social. Best wishes to Lu Pettijohn, Ethel Leng, and Phyllis Noyes.

For more information about activities and volunteer opportunities at North Shore Health Care Center or to check out the October calendar of events, visit the website: or contact  the Activity Department at 387-3518.

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


Randy Wiitala appointed to North Shore Health hospital board

Sat, 10/01/2016 - 5:27pm

On September 15, the North Shore Health hospital board selected a citizen for the District 5 vacancy on the board, which was created last month when Tom Spence moved to the Twin Cities.

Randy Wiitala was appointed to fill the vacancy. Wiitala and his wife Lynn moved to Cook County from the Twin Cities in 2005. He is the director of Revenue Integrity in Healthcare, a consulting firm that works with hospitals throughout the country to make sure they are receiving the revenue to which they are entitled. He first started in the medical field working at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth more than 25 years ago. Since moving to Cook County, Wiitala has served on the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic board of directors.

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




WTIP's Weekend News Roundup for October 1

Sat, 10/01/2016 - 9:38am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. The Cook County commissioners made two important budget decisions this week…all this and more in the week’s news.


First week of October brings changes to local fishing scene

Fri, 09/30/2016 - 1:15pm

The first week of October marks some significant changes in open fishing seasons here along the North Shore and on inland lakes.

Note the following seasons:

Lake trout season on inland lakes ends Sept. 30.
Lake trout season on Lake Superior ends Oct. 2.
Brook trout on North Shore streams above the boundary line (typically first waterfall of any size) and inland streams ends Sept. 30.
Brook trout on inland lakes, as well as rainbow trout, brown trout and splake ends on inland lakes on Oct. 31. 

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this update on the fishing seasons and what can still legally be caught.