Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Grand Marais still in the running for "America's Coolest Small Town" -- voting open until March 4

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 1:41pm

Grand Marais, the little town on the harbor beloved by residents and visitors alike, is currently the focus of national attention as a contender in the Budget Travel Magazine’s “America’s Coolest Small Towns 2015.” Grand Marais had a strong lead through most of the contest, but at press time Chincoteague, Virginia was closing in. And at press time, to make things more exciting, Budget Travel extended the deadline to March 4.

“I’m surprised Grand Marais took the lead as fast as it did, but I’m not that surprised,” commented Linda Kratt, executive director of Visit Cook County. “Grand Marais visitors and residents know it’s a special place.”

Executive Director Linda Kratt credits Kjersti Vick, Visit Cook County marketing manager, with putting Grand Marais in the national spotlight.  “Kjersti is an extremely talented marketer.  She is all over social media promoting every part of Cook County. 

“When Kjersti saw the opportunity to be in the running for the ‘coolest small town’ contest, she jumped on it.  We have held the lead since the contest kick off and we want to be the winner.  A win will be rewarded with a feature in Budget Travel’s summer publication.  

“Whether you reside here or are a visitor to our beautiful harbor community, we need your daily vote.  Set your alarm. Let’s finish strong!  Log on and vote!” said Kratt.

With regional pride at stake, the competition remains fierce. While Grand Marais holds the lead with 27.5 percent of the vote, Chincoteague, Virginia is holding its own with 23.8 percent. Other contenders range from Hillsborough, North Carolina to Crested Butte, Colorado to Pismo Beach, California.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week is Feb. 22-28

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 1:39pm

A coalition of partners, volunteers and supporters, through the guidance of PlayCleanGo, will be participating in National Invasive Species Awareness Week Feb. 22-28. PlayCleanGo invites individuals and families to enjoy the beautiful Minnesota trails, parks and recreation sites while doing their part to stop the spread of terrestrial invasive species. Local involvement can help protect some of the state’s environment and most precious resources, while enjoying the beauty and legacy Minnesota has to offer.

Some simple steps you can take to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals include arriving with clean gear; burning only local or certified firewood; using local or weed-free hay; staying on the trails; and removing mud and seeds before leaving.

Call (651) 259-5251 for more information.'


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

Judge upholds Forest Service plan for South Fowl snowmobile trail

Sun, 02/22/2015 - 8:29pm

On February 13, 2015, Judge John Tunheim issued a long-awaited opinion on the U.S. Forest Service 2006 decision to construct the South Fowl snowmobile trail access between McFarland and South Fowl lakes in Hovland. Reached by phone after the ruling became public, Attorney David Oberstar said the ruling was “all in favor” of the U.S. Forest Service.

Oberstar, of Fryberger, Buchanan and Smith of Duluth, represented Cook County, the Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (ACMU) and Conservationists with Common Sense (CSCS) as interveners in the lawsuit in support of the Forest Service snowmobile trail proposal. The county, ACMU and CWCS supported the development of Alternative 2, which most closely resembles the trail closed by the Forest Service in 2003, known by many local residents as the “Tilbury Trail.”

The plaintiffs seeking to block the trail were the Izaak Walton League of America, Inc.; Wilderness Watch of Missoula, Montana; Sierra Club Northstar Chapter; and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW).

The News-Herald contacted Gunflint Ranger Nancy Larson to ask what was next regarding this snowmobile trail. Ranger Larson said the Superior National Forest was glad to have a decision from the court. She said, “Gunflint Ranger District staff will be examining the details of the court decision and the South Fowl EIS to develop an action plan of items to implement the decision as intended.”

“In light of the time that has passed since this project was first developed, the Gunflint Ranger District recognizes interest in the trail being constructed as soon as possible. The action plan we will develop will likely identify opportunities for volunteers to contribute to trail construction,” said Larson, noting that because of local interest in the trail, she anticipates “a cadre of willing volunteers.”

Ruby's Pantry coming to Grand Marais

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 12:39pm

For quite some time now, some Cook County residents have been traveling to Silver Bay to visit Ruby’s Pantry. Starting in May, people from Cook County will no longer have to make that trek: Grand Marais will have its own monthly distribution taking place on the second Thursday of each month from 4:30 - 6 p.m.—once all the details are worked out.

Ruby’s Pantry was developed with a twofold purpose: to help people in rural Minnesota stretch their food dollars and to lessen food waste. Around 40 percent of food in the USA is thrown out. 

A number of people are working on a steering committee and have volunteered for various oversight responsibilities: Karen Halbersleben and Jane Shinners will coordinate registration and money; Barb Spaulding will line up volunteers; Beth Kennedy will be in charge of marketing. The Grand Marais site coordinator is Ginny Padzieski. Ruby’s Pantry requires a church sponsor for each site, and Spirit of the Wilderness Episcopal Church will be that.

For more information on Ruby’s Pantry, visit:  And stay tuned for more information about Ruby’s Pantry in Grand Marais.


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

Casino Express trip with Cook County Senior Center on February 23

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 4:40pm

The Cook County Senior Center has another trip to Grand Portage planned for Monday February 23. The bus will be leaving the Senior Center at 4:15 p.m. and returning around 10:30 p.m. The bus is free to ride. If you need a pickup within Grand Marais, let the Senior Center know by calling 218-387-2660.


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


Open Bonspiel at Cook County Curling Club Feb. 20 - 22

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 4:38pm

There has been a lot of activity at the Cook County Curling Club in 2014-2015 curling season.  Besides regular league games played on Monday and Tuesday evenings, on Wednesday afternoon we have a strong group of dedicated curlers who play a pick-up game of curling.  Most of the players are retired folk that enjoy getting together and playing a 6 end game of curling.  It is a great way to spend those cold winter afternoons and to have a great time with some neat people. 
With support from the YMCA for advertising on Wednesday evenings we have had two sessions for curling lessons for beginners.  The first session started in November for six weeks and the second session started in January and we only have two weeks to go. The evening lessons have brought in the younger population and they have been having fun learning the game with the help of seasoned members, Rory Smith, Brian Smith, Shawn Swearingen, Rich Palmer, Andrew Smith, Joanne Smith and Bill Parish.
Over the Christmas holidays the club gave lessons to four different groups of nine that were vacationing here. The club has been offering curling lessons to guests who come to visit our area for the last three years and advertises it on their website.  It has been pretty successful as we average five to six groups a season.  Plus, it gives our visiting guests another experience from the North Shore.
In February and March the curling club hosts its bonspiels.  The first one is an Open Bonspiel, February 20 - 22 and the Charles J. Futterer Open Memorial Bonspiel is March 13 - 15.  These events bring in outside guests to our area to enjoy a weekend of curling and to enjoy what Grand Marais has to offer.  The public is always welcome to come watch. 

 If you would like to learn more about the Cook County Curling Club. Check out the website at: