Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Lengthy comment period at Tuesday's county commissioner meeting

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 4:11pm

The Cook County Board of Commissioners has been attempting to set its 2017 levy. A preliminary levy increase of 19.9 percent had been set, but at the Tuesday, Dec. 13 meeting, commissioners voted to lower the levy by 10 percentage points, which equates to approximately $700,000.

Since then there has been much public discourse about whether that is an adequate amount. At today’s county commissioners’ meeting, citizens came out in force to share their thoughts—for and against—a return to the 19.9 percent levy for 2017.

Approximately 75 citizens crowded into the commissioners’ room and many spoke as the county board sat stoically. County Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk gave guidelines for the public session, restricting speakers to two minutes. The board unanimously extended the public comment period though, from the allotted 30 minutes on the agenda.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs provides this report. 


Ship held in Duluth harbor now paying for North Shore environmental projects

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 9:46am

Last year the activities of a large ship in the Duluth harbor was hit with $1 million in penalties after pleading guilty to dumping oily wastewater into the Great Lakes. A portion of the money from the fines is going toward environmental projects in the Lake Superior Watershed.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs finds out more in this interview. 


Bethlehem Lutheran celebrates St. Lucia Day traditions

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 6:03pm

St. Lucia Day is an important tradition of the Scandinavian culture. It is celebrated here in Cook County at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The celebration includes an array of Scandinavian goodies, socializing, and the announcement of the girl who will be Bethlehem Lutheran’s St. Lucia.
This year’s Lucia is Isabella Sparks. Her attendants were Amy Carpenter and Cecelia Chmelik.
As the young ladies enter with Lucia carrying a tray of St. Lucia buns, the audience sings this traditional song.
Song for St. Lucia
Nightly, with heavy steps; Round farm and steading
On earth, where sun departs, shadows are spreading.
Then in our darkened house, Rise with candles lit!
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
The night is dark and still. Hark, something’s stirring!
In all our silent rooms, wingbeats are whisp’ring!
Stands on our threshold there, White clad, lights in her hair,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
Darkness shall fly away; Fron the earth’s valleys,
Bringing such wonderful; words to us does she say!
Daylight again renewed, will rise, all rosy-hued!
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Deep in our northern sky, Bright stars are beaming;
Christmas is drawing nigh, Candles are gleaming.
Welcome thou visions rare, Lights glowing in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Welcome thou visions rare, Lights glowing in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Rhonda Silence attended this year’s event on December 10 and gives this report. 


Awareness of Cook County trapping valuable to pet owners

Sun, 12/18/2016 - 8:15am

Trapping remains a legal practice in Cook County and along the North Shore. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs finds out more about trapping and how it could impact pet owners in this interview with DNR Conservation Officer Darin Fagerman. 


Weekend News Roundup for December 17

Sat, 12/17/2016 - 11:17am

A new attorney and a new trial date for Kirk Bigby. No lease renewal for Twin Metals. The commissioners vote to lower proposed levy…all this and more in the week’s news.


County wins AMC award

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 3:49pm

CO Mary Manning (Hovland) checked GIA snowmobile trails. Snow is sparse and some trails are rough; downed trees are also a hazard as crews still need to get out to clear from the last wet snowfall.  The officer checked muzzleloader hunters, took a call about nuisance wolves, checked for a sick moose, and assisted Cook County with a domestic and a stranded motorist. Automobile drivers are reminded that not all forest roads are plowed and getting stuck in a remote location could be dangerous.

Snow, plenty of cold weather coming to the North Shore region

Thu, 12/15/2016 - 10:56am

Snow is on the way on Friday, Dec. 16 and plenty of cold weather is in store for the weekend. WTIP’s Jay Anderson learns more in this interview. 


With lower levy, county may need to cut non-mandated programs

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 11:52am

The Cook County Commissioners this week substantially reduced the proposed levy increase they’d been considering for many weeks. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk about resulting cuts and belt tightening.


State declares health and human services worker day

Wed, 12/14/2016 - 10:07am

Cook County, along with communities across the State, will be recognizing County, Tribal, and State Health and Human Services Worker Day in Minnesota on Wednesday, December 14, following a proclamation by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Cook County employs 22 people in the Public Health & Human Services Department who deliver a number of critical services, including: social services, chemical dependency and treatment options, childcare, financial services, health care programs and disease control and prevention.

Approximately one in five citizens in Cook County benefit from the services of the Public Health and Human Services Department.

WTIP's Joe Friedrichs spoke with Cook County Public Health and Human Services Director Josh Beck. 


County board decreases proposed levy

Tue, 12/13/2016 - 11:59am

In a move County Administrator Jeff Cadwell said will make the budgeting process very challenging, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday, Dec. 13 to lower its levy by 10 percentage points, which equates to approximately $700,000.

A preliminary figure of 19.9 percent had been on the table as the deadline of Dec. 28 to set the levy approaches. After hearing a number of statements during Tuesday’s public comment period from Cook County residents concerned with the increase on their property taxes, Commissioner Frank Moe made a motion to set the levy at maximum of 9.9 percent. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Garry Gamble and supported by Commissioner Ginny Storlie. Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk and Jan Sivertson voted against lowering the proposed levy. 

As for where the reductions will come from, Commissioner Moe suggested cuts to increases in requests from non-mandate funding sources, and perhaps from these requests in general, which would equate to a two-percent decrease in the levy. He also suggested delaying any expenditures for the local highway department, a move that could cut the levy by more than 3 percent. Other expenditures could come from all of the county’s department heads as the look for any means to reduce expenses. 

The next meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 20. 


MNSure deadline looming

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 3:25pm


Minnesotans who want private health coverage through the MNsure marketplace beginning January 1 have until midnight on Thursday, December 15, to complete enrollment.

“It’s important to complete your enrollment as soon as possible to have access to the widest range of plan options available,” advised MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole.

“Current customers can renew or change their private plan during the annual open enrollment period,” stated O'Toole. “If you are satisfied with your current plan and it is available next year, your coverage will automatically renew.”

MNsure reminds Minnesotans to use the comparison shopping tool. This tool allows you to evaluate plans to see what’s the right fit for you based on your personal health and your projected total cost of care in 2017. You can also see if you qualify for financial help.

Summer 2017 Artist-In Residence Program applications for Isle Royale sought

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 11:06am


Applications for Isle Royale National Park's 2017 Artist-in-Residence Program will be accepted between January 2 and February 16, 2017. This program provides artists the opportunity to become part of a long-established tradition of interpreting national parks through art.

The Artist-in-Residence Program is open to professional artists whose work can be inspired by the park's unique character. The program offers writers, composers, and all visual and performing artists the opportunity to capture the moods and magic of Isle Royale through their particular art form.

The selected artist will be given the use of a canoe and a rustic cabin while on the island. The program runs from July through early September. Complimentary transportation to and from the island is provided on the Ranger III, a 165-foot ship operating from Houghton, Michigan. Each residency is scheduled for two to three weeks. The Artist-in-Residence Program is co-sponsored by Isle Royale National Park, Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association, and the Copper Country Community Arts Council. Artists will be enrolled in the National Park Service's Volunteer in the Parks Program. During the residency, the artists will be asked to share their experience with the public through a weekly presentation or demonstration. The artists are required to donate to the park an art piece that is representative of their Isle Royale residency.

Applications for the program must be postmarked by February 16, 2017. Entries postmarked after February 16 will not be considered. Notification will be made by May 1, 2017. Further information can be found on our website,, or please call (906) 482-0984 or email