Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

School District 166 looks at special education services

Sun, 09/25/2016 - 6:59am

One of the agenda items for the School District 166 September 15 school board meeting was a review of the district’s 2016-2017 goals. One of the goals was to better define the district’s relationship with the Northland Learning Center, the regional cooperative that provides special education services to ISD 166.

The school board took steps toward that goal during the meeting with a report from Reggie Engebritson, executive director of the Northland Learning Center (NLC).

Board members asked questions about special education staffing decisions.  They also asked how students in need of special education are identified.

Engebritson explained that the first step is at ISD 166. She said if a teacher sees a student struggling with academics or behavior, he or she can share those concerns with the ISD 166 Child Study Team (CST). Engebritson said the team gives the teacher recommendations for “pre-referral interventions.” The teacher follows the recommendations and brings data back to the team and that information goes to NLC.

Within 30 days, an evaluation is done, said Engebritson, and then the school, parents and special education specialists have a meeting to develop an individual education plan—an IEP.

Engebritson said she hopes that answers the question sometimes asked, which is “Why does it takes so long to get children special education services.”

Another goal set by the school board is to ensure that the school district IEP team includes representation from the Grand Portage community, which will be done, said Superintendent Dr. Bill Crandall.


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



Fond du Lac Band to conduct moose hunt in northeastern Minnesota starting Sept. 24

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 9:21am

The State of Minnesota suspended its Minnesota moose hunt indefinitely in 2013 after the January 2013 survey showed a moose population decline of 35 percent. The survey estimated the moose population at 2,760 animals, down from 4,230 in 2012 and far below the 8,840 counted in 2006.

The 1854 Treaty Authority, which manages off-reservation hunting, fishing and gathering rights for the Grand Portage and Boise Forte Bands, followed suit and cancelled moose hunts on off-reservation (ceded) lands. The Fond du Lac Band also halted its harvest on ceded land.

However, Fond du Lac Band has decided to once again conduct a moose hunt on ceded land. Fond du Lac Band held a lottery for band members to hunt in the 1854 ceded territory, offering 50 bull moose permits. The season will run from September 24 to December 31, or until 25 bulls have been taken.

Hunters are required to register their moose within 24 hours of harvest. Hunters will be given 48-hours notice of the season’s closing if 25 moose are harvested before December 31.

The area open to hunting, the ceded territory, includes portions of St. Louis County and nearly all of Lake and Cook counties as well as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It excludes developed areas such as the towns of Silver Bay, Beaver Bay and Grand Marais.

The Cook County News-Herald reached Dr. Seth Moore, director of biology and environment for the Grand Portage Band and asked if Grand Portage was also going to have a moose hunt in 2016. Moore said a decision had not been made yet.

Moore said if a subsistence hunt for moose is held, the 1854 Treaty Authority sets the season and allocates permits for the Boise Forte and Grand Portage. Moore said the average harvest when hunts have been conducted in the past has been “about 10 animals for each band, for a total of about 20 animals.”

Board chair of Cooperation Station discusses status of daycare options in Cook County

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 6:29am

The Cook County YMCA is in the process of taking over Cooperation Station, a local daycare provider. We spoke with Cooperation Station Board Chair Betsy Jorgenson about what this means for that organization and other local daycare providers. 


Schroeder considers use of Minnesota Power maintenance building

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 11:18am

With Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor Energy Center coal-fired power plant scheduled to be idled on September 26, there is a lot going on at the plant, General Manager David Rannetsberger said to Schroeder supervisors at their September 13 meeting.

One of those items is what to do with the maintenance building located across Highway 61 on the hill.  Rannetsberger presented a rough draft of a lease proposal for the building for supervisors to consider.

With the power plant on the lake closing, West End firefighters lose a valuable place to fill their pumper trucks. However, there is a 6,000-gallon water tank in the maintenance garage that firefighters could use, said Rannetsberger.

When asked the lease cost, Rannetsberger replied, “I was thinking about $250 per month, plus some snowplowing. If you lease the building we would want you to keep the lower road plowed as part of the agreement.”

Another part of that agreement would include Schroeder paying to heat the building while Minnesota Power would pay for the electricity.

Supervisor Roger “Bill” McKeever asked if Schroeder could switch propane companies because the township’s current provider is cheaper than the one who fills the tank for Minnesota Power. Rannetsberger said that option could be explored. He also said if the building was kept at 40 F or so it wouldn’t cost much to keep it heated.

“If we [Minnesota Power] want the building back we would give Schroeder 60 days notice,” he said.

Supervisor Bruce Martinson said the board would need the firefighters’ blessing before they pursued a lease, but early indications are that the building might be of good use to the township.

An afternoon up the Sawbill Trail with the Rainbow Family

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 10:06am

A regional gathering of the Rainbow family took place on national forest land from Sept. 9 to 22. The gathering was held in a remote setting near the Sawbill Trail and Temperance River. It featured about 60 people coming and going, with some participants staying for the entire two weeks. 

WTIP's Joe Friedrichs paid a visit to the camp and has this report. 


County Board prepares for vote on sales-tax increase

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 1:08pm

During a 90-minute afternoon session of their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Cook County Commissioners fine tuned a draft resolution regarding the implementation of a sales tax increase. The a half-cent sales tax would help fund the local highway department. 

After much discussion on the topic of using the generated funds to build or improve facilities for the highway department, it appears facilities will not appear on an initial list that the tax revenue can be spent on. However, the board made it very clear during the public meeting that facilities will likely be discussed as a possible option for the funds at some point in the future. If facilities for the highway department will be constructed by sales tax funds, a public hearing will be held prior to any such action.

A final vote on the resolution is expected during the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27. 


Author Peter Geye shares inspiration for latest novel at Grand Marais Library Sept. 23

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 11:30am

Wintering, Peter Geye’s third novel set on the shores of Lake Superior, will be the topic of a Sept. 23 presentation at the Grand Marais Public Library.

Listeners will follow a father and son’s epic journey into the forbidding wilds of the Boundary Waters as the stories unfold – beginning when a now-demented and elderly Harry escapes his sickbed and vanishes into the woods, instantly changing the Eide family, and many other lives, forever.

He’d done this once before, some 30 years earlier in 1963, fleeing a crumbling marriage and bringing along Gus, his 18-year-old son, pitching a voyage into the wilderness as an adventure, one to last the winter, one to re-enact the ancient voyageur’s journeys of discovery.

It's certainly a season that Gus has never forgotten. And now, with his father pronounced dead, Gus relates their adventures of that season – the waterfalls and big winds, the endless paddling and portaging, the fantastical maps duplicated by Harry and relied on too much, and the sense of not being alone.

Together, Gus and Berit Lovig (who’d spent much of her life waiting for Harry to find her) fill in the stories of Harry’s life, and of the life of the town of Gunflint.

This presentation begins at 6 p.m. and will include slides of the sources that inspired and informed the writing of this novel, including images of the maps that play a central role in the story, and in the exploration of this territory.

Geye received his MFA degree from the University of New Orleans and his PhD from Western Michigan University. He was born and raised in Minnesota and continues to live here with his wife and three children. He is the author of the award winning novels Safe from The Sea and The Lighthouse Road.

 For more information, contact the library at (218) 387-1140.


Ann Reed to perform at Arrowhead Center for the Arts Sept. 24

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 11:28am

Beloved Minnesota singer/songwriter Ann Reed will perform at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24.

Reed is one of the few female guitarists who primarily play the 12-string guitar. Reed, a lifelong Minnesotan, began teaching herself to play at age 12 and has been a performer for her entire adult life. Growing up, she was influenced by artists including the Kingston Trio, early Joni Mitchell, Cream, Buffalo Springfield, the Beatles, and Pete Seeger — plus the writers and singers of her parents' era: Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Rosemary Clooney.

A touring musician for over 30 years, Reed has covered Canada and the U.S. from coast to coast, performing at theaters and clubs. She’s also played numerous festivals, including Bumbershoot, Winnipeg, Black Mountain, and the National Women's Music Festival. She’s appeared on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, ABC's Good Morning America, NPR's Morning Edition, and countless radio stations across the U.S.  In 2007 she wrote and performed Heroes: A Celebration of Women Who Changed History and Changed Our Lives, a theatrical presentation produced by Minnesota Public Radio. In a departure from her usual repertoire, she has developed a musical tribute (with Denise Tabet) called Nothing but Class: The Songs of Dorothy Fields, honoring the first woman to be inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

For tickets or more information, contact the North Shore Music Association (event sponsor) at (218) 387-1272.


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

LSProject: The Hovland plane crash

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:30am

A Cessna 185 disappeared in the fall of 1971, and no trace of the plane or its three occupants was found until nearly 12 years later.

In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, we hear the story of the Hovland plane crash from Orvis Lunke - one of the four DNR forestry workers who discovered the remains of the plane in a remote section of forest, just inland from Lake Superior. 

(View slideshow for photos of the plaque and the crash site)


Events planned to commemorate International Day of Peace, Sept. 21

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:27am

September 21 has been designated as the International Day of Peace and the day is being commemorated with two events.

Kathleen Sullivan of Grand Marais explains that dedicating September 21 as a day of peace was created with a resolution from the United Nations in 2001. Citizens around the world are called to gather to promote the ideal of peace in our communities, countries and the world.

Sullivan has organized a “Gather for Peace” event on Wednesday evening, September 21 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Marais Rec Park in Grand Marais.

Sullivan said, “We will sing, share ideas, listen to some readings. Join us.”

Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland is also holding a gathering, an Offering of Music and Prayers featuring music by Jon Romer of Cass Lake and Bill Beckstrand of Hovland. The program will include Native American flute with Romer, piano with Beckstrand, and violin with Erika Ternes.

The program will feature traditional Native American pieces, spirituals and old-time hymns.

Romer, who received graduate and undergraduate degrees in music education, choral music and choral literature at Gustavus Adolphus College and at the University of Iowa, has spent much of his career integrating Native American music into the contemporary multicultural classroom.

Beckstrand, local composer and musician, widely known for his vocal and instrumental compositions, worked with Romer in the past and suggested that they perform together for this special gathering.

The Offering of Music and Prayers will be at 7 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland

Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Kris Garey said, “We join others around the world who pray for peace.”


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

Changes proposed by Emergency Management for event coordinators

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:25am

Jim Wiinanen is retiring from his position as director of Cook County Emergency Management One of Wiinanen’s last duties included asking commissioners to require that any event permit application that comes to the county have an emergency action plan.

Wiinanen said, “Luck is not a plan.”

Wiinanen told commissioners, “All events face some hazards whether natural or human caused. Event organizers should take responsibility for emergencies that may happen during their event and think through and document their procedures to address risk reduction and emergency actions.”

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell suggested forming a temporary committee, which included officials from Grand Marais, the highway/police departments and private event organizers to make suggestions about what an emergency action plan should look like before the board passed a motion on the subject.

 Commissioner Moe agreed. Moe said, “Event planning has a way of wearing out volunteers. I would hope that if we put together a committee that we don’t make the rules too onerous for those who are putting on events.”


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


Housing forum at North House builds framework for action

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:20am

Mary Tingerthal is the Commissioner for Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, an organization that strives for safe, decent and affordable housing across the state.

During a forum held Monday, Sept. 19 at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Tingerthal and about 50 other individuals talked on exactly that topic.

In addition to Commissioner Tingerthal, other staff from Minnesota housing, representatives from USDA Rural Development, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development participated in Monday’s forum. Also present were a number of local elected officials and staff from both city hall and Cook County.

Essentially the forum at North House was a planning session to discuss affordable housing and future development of Cook County. On that front, Tingerthal says the event was a complete success. 

Among the topics discussed during the forum were locations to build housing projects, a means to encourage housing developments and who will do the work. Tingerthal says there appears to be viable options with regard to both supply and demand for affordable housing projects in Cook County. Another topic that was addressed during Monday’s forum was that of affordable renting opportunities in the region.

Coming out of the forum, Tingerthal says the next steps for local agencies, elected officials and developers will be to secure funding opportunities and put ideas into action. 

Listen to audio of story, including interviews, below.


County hires new Emergency Management Director

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 3:02pm

At the Tuesday, September 13 county board meeting, commissioners approved hiring Valerie Marusco to replace Jim Wiinanen as the county’s new Emergency Management Director. Wiinanen is retiring at the end of this month.

Marasco is the Public Information Officer for the city of Thunder Bay and has worked with Cook County Emergency Services on training in the past.

The emergency management director position is a full time position with county benefits, starting at $25.71 per hour.

County Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk said, “Based on many, many years of working with Valerie I will make the motion to approve hiring her.”


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

County votes to hire Todd Smith as Assessor

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 3:01pm

Cook County Commissioners voted unanimously on September 13 to offer Assistant County Assessor Todd Smith the position of Assessor to replace Betty Schultz who resigned late spring and whose last day was June 24. 

Smith needs to complete Accredited Minnesota Assessor (AMA) credentialing, and will then become the new county assessor.  Smith will have two years to obtain his Senior Accredited Minnesota Assessor certification from the time of his appointment.

Commissioner Frank Moe said he was pleased to have Smith in the position. Moe said, “My interactions with him have been positive. I take great pleasure in recommending him for this position.”


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

Lt. Gov. Smith talks affordable housing on visit to Cook County

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 10:27am

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited Grand Marais and Cook County Friday, Sept. 16 as part of the “87 Counties in 86 Days” tour that she and Governor Mark Dayton are doing this summer and fall across the state. 

Smith met with Cook County Chamber members and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic staff about their “Great Place Project.” After that Lt. Gov. Smith went to Voyager Brewing in Grand Marais to tour the facilities there. 

She sat down with Joe Friedrichs inside the WTIP studios to discuss that topic and her visit to the North Shore.