Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Bald eagle nest crashes down near Grand Marais

Wed, 03/30/2016 - 7:45am

A bald eagle nest that sat high on a birch tree between Highway 61 and Lake Superior near Grand Marais blew down recently. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs brings us this story.


Learn more about the county's assessment process

Tue, 03/29/2016 - 2:05pm

If you have questions about how the county’s assessment process works or what takes place at the annual Local Board of Appeal and Equalization (LBAE) meeting, you can attend one of three meetings hosted by Cook County Assessor Betty Schultz and Assistant County Assessor Todd Smith.

Schultz said she and Smith will give a general overview of the assessment process, which is required by the Assessor’s Office, and they will teach people how to read assessment notices that will be sent out soon.

A meeting for residents of Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail living within the 55604 zip code will be held at the Cook County Courthouse, Commissioners Room at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30.

Residents of Schroeder, Tofte, and Lutsen will meet at the Lutsen Townhall at 6 p.m. on April 4 while residents of Hovland and eastern Cook County will assemble at 6 p.m. at the Hovland Town Hall on Wednesday, April 6.

“This meeting will not be held to discuss current property tax notifications or valuations,” said Schultz. “Those meetings will be held in April, as Open Book Meetings in the Assessor’s office, or at the Local Boards of Appeal and Equalization meetings. Those scheduled meeting dates can be found on your yellow valuation notice.”


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

Annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend--workshops and concerts offered

Mon, 03/28/2016 - 1:25pm

WTIP North Shore Community Radio and Bluefin Bay Resort in Tofte are pleased to announce the 6th Annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend, April 8 and 9.  For this year’s event, local musician Gordon Thorne welcomes St. Paul fingerstyle guitarist Pat Donohue and Twin Cities’ fiddler Tom Schaefer. The weekend features performances both Friday and Saturday night, as well as guitar and fiddle workshops during the day Saturday.

The event kicks off with a free concert at 8 p.m., Friday, April 8, at the Bluefin Grille, featuring Gordon and friends playing blues, swing and early Americana.  For those looking to fine tune their own musical skills, workshops will be offered starting at 10 am Saturday, April 9, and are open to musicians of all ages and skill levels.  A free youth guitar workshop will be offered with Gordon Thorne from 10 a.m. to noon.  Also starting at 10 a.m. are a fingerstyle workshop with Pat Donohue and a fiddle workshop with Tom Schaefer – both are $50 and include lunch.  Pre-registration for the workshops is requested by contacting Gordon at 218-353-7308 or

The event caps off with a concert featuring Pat Donohue at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9 in the upper room of the Bluefin Grille. Tickets for the Saturday evening concert are $20 per person and will be available at the door, or in advance by contacting Gordon at 218-353-7308 or  Everyone is welcome to attend any or all of the events as part of the Fingerstyle Masters Weekend.  Funding for this event is supported in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and all proceeds will benefit WTIP’s equipment replacement project.  More information is available at


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

Cook County/Grand Marais EDA considers Mary Somnis for next director

Mon, 03/28/2016 - 12:35pm

At the February meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA), the board agreed to proceed with hiring an EDA director, something the authority has been without since the previous director resigned in January 2011. The members of the committee assigned to review applications and interview candidates has made its selection. A final decision will be made by the EDA board at its April 12 board meeting, but it appears the next EDA director will be former Tofte resident Mary Somnis.

Small Business Development Representative (SBDC) Pat Campanaro, who has been providing administrative services for the EDA, told the Cook County News-Herald that the EDA subcommittee had conducted interviews with two candidates. EDA committee members were Mark Sandbo, Howard Hedstrom and Carol Mork.

Reached by phone on March 22, Hedstrom said he was confident the full board would approve hiring Somnis, who has long-time ties to the community.

Somnis has been working at the IRRRB for almost 20 years, as the regional tourism director, community development representative and as a member of the IRRRB development team. She played a role in regional initiatives such as the IRRRB’s film production incentive grant program, the Wild North Golf Alliance, the North Shore and Superior National Forest Scenic Byways Councils and other economic development marketing projects.

Hedstrom said it is hoped that Somnis can start as EDA director in mid-May. Contacted by phone, Somnis said her last day with the IRRRB is May 3. She acknowledging that her appointment still has to be confirmed by the full EDA board, but added, “I’m confident that I can be of great service to the EDA and can help it fulfill its missions and goals.”


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

Easter Greetings!

Sun, 03/27/2016 - 9:39am

All of us at the Cook County News-Herald wish you and your family a very Happy Easter.

Award-winning Viennese Minetti Quartett to appear at Arrowhead Center for the Arts

Sun, 03/27/2016 - 9:36am

The North Shore Music Association will host international award-winning Viennese string ensemble the Minetti Quartett at 7:30 p.m. April 2 at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts in Grand Marais. This event, one of only two Midwestern stops on their tour, follows the group’s “Great Performers” concert at New York’s Lincoln Center.

Founded in 2003, the young and enormously talented Minetti Quartet has gained great international accolades—winning first prize at the international Rimbotti String Quartet competition in Florence, the Haydn Prize at the International Haydn Competition in Vienna, the top award at the International Schubert Competition in Graz, and the Grosser Gradus ad Parnassum Prize.

Named "Rising Star” by the European Concert Hall Organization, the group has made debuts at London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Konserthuset in Stockholm, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the Salzburg Mozarteum, and Vienna’s Konzerthaus and Musikverein.

They have been a featured guest at leading chamber music festivals, including the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, Aix-en-Provence, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the Kuhmo Festival in Finland. They have made extensive concert tours through North, Central, and South America, Australia, Japan, and China. They have also been active as performers and tutors at the "Sonoro" chamber music festivals in Mexico, Kuhmo, and Madrid.

During recent seasons, the Minetti Quartett has toured extensively in the United States, with major appearances in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

For more information about the event, contact Kate at the Music Association, (218) 387-1272.


WTIP Weekend News Roundup for March 26

Sat, 03/26/2016 - 10:33am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Relief for Iron Range workers has finally materialized. Wolves – or the lack thereof – are back in the Isle Royale news. Conceal/carry fees may increase in the county…all this and more in the week’s news.


DNR seeks comments on area stream management plans

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 2:24pm

Citizens interested in learning about or commenting on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) strategies for managing Finland area lakes and streams have until March 31 to ask questions or submit comments.

Management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the fishery and identify specific management activities planned for that lake or stream in the next 5 to 20 years. The plans include background on the water body including water chemistry, temperature and species present, and are important in understanding the potential of a fishery.

“Our management plans are the basis of how we make fishery decisions for individual lakes and streams,” said Dean Paron, Finland area fisheries supervisor. “Public comment is important as goals are created or revised in a plan. It is important in complex management where we have special regulations, but can also be incorporated into a simple plan for a small lake by adding information not collected by survey crews. The call for comments also gives the public an opportunity to see the latest plans for area lakes and streams.”

Every year DNR fisheries staff prepares or revises individual lake and stream management plans for several waters in each management area. In the Finland area, plans for the following Cook County lakes and streams will be reviewed: Cook Lake, Dyers Lake, Cross River, Four Mile Creek, Stumble Creek and Timber Creek.

Current plans for lakes and streams in the area as well as recent fish population assessment information may be reviewed at the DNR’s Finland area fisheries office, 6686 Highway 1, Finland. Office hours are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Individuals also may call (218) 353-8855 or e-mail

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


Easter weekend snowfall predicted

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 10:47am

If you’re hiding Easter eggs outdoors on Saturday, be sure they’re brightly colored, because snow is on the way. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson.


Bent Paddle owners visit Silver Bay, beer remains banned

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 10:47am

Owners of the Bent Paddle Brewery visited the Silver Bay City Council on Monday, March 21. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reports on what was said and the council’s decision not to return Bent Paddle products to the city-owned liquor store and bar.

Audio feature at bottom of page. Below is a transcript of what Bent Paddle co-owner Laura Mullen read to the Silver Bay City Council during Monday’s meeting:

Members of the Silver Bay City Council, thank you for having us here tonight. My name is Laura Mullen and I am joined by my business partners Colin Mullen & Bryon Tonnis. Our 4th business partner Karen Tonnis is home sick but is in full support of our statement.

We are here tonight to add at the very least a layer of nuance to the highly controversial and emotional debate that led you to your decision last week to ban our product from your municipal liquor store.

While we were prepared to lose valuable relationships in the mining communities as a result of our stance opposing the Polymet Copper Nickel Mine project, we were surprised that a city government opted to tangle into this debate instead of allowing consumers to decide if Bent Paddle beer should remain on the shelves we are here to address you in person as a result. We are not here to explore constitutional law or convince you that we are right in our opinion and parade forth a bunch of facts and ideologies. We are simply here to introduce ourselves as members of this regions community and share with you our viewpoint and reasoning in our decision to oppose copper nickel mining in our region.

In the fall of 2015, we were invited to be part of a group of now over 70 local business owners from across Northeastern Minnesota called the Downstream Business Coalition to express our joint concern over the proposed copper-nickel mining projects in the region. In particular this coalition, after reviewing the EIS and meeting with stakeholders from many sides, including Polymet, called upon Governor Dayton to reject the proposed Polymet mine project in a joint statement.
Our principal concern and reason for joining the Downstream Business Coalition is all about water. Water is one of four ingredients in beer and it is our watershed and water source that makes Bent Paddle’s product unique to the region, unique to the beers we craft and is in-part a reason for our success since we founded the company in 2013.

Water is our most precious resource and those aren’t just pretty words — ask the residents of Flint, Michigan or drought-stricken California. These are places that put their faith into big multi-national companies and trusted governmental oversight to protect them. Closer to home, we as taxpayers are right now paying millions for cleanup on the contaminated brownfields along our St. Louis River. Where are those big businesses now?

While it is easier for businesses like ours not to weigh in on divisive topics like this, we felt it our duty to add a voice of commerce to the debate that had been percolating. Even if the proposed project or projects were to go through, we wanted to be a part of the discussion that strengthened protections for our watershed, the BWCA which is so central to our state’s uniqueness and our brand, and Lake Superior.

From our vantage point we are neighbors that have a difference in opinion about our neighborhood. There are known risks to this project and at the end of the day this whole debate is separated by risk tolerance. For you and your community it is certainly worth the risk this style of mining lays out to add good paying jobs.  People need jobs to feel safe and secure for their families.  We understand this and truly feel for you and your communities, but for us, the potential risk to our water source gives us reason to be concerned and speak up to be the best stewards of our employees, our brand and our community as a whole.

Points like these, along with the fact that this style of mine has never been done anywhere without negatively effecting water quality, can be unpopular ones to make.  And don’t we know it!  Of the 70+ coalition members, Bent Paddle has become the lightning rod for a backlash, primarily from our neighbors on the Iron Range. Many liquor stores, bars and restaurants have been nothing short of bullied into dropping our beer.

This anger toward Bent Paddle in particular seems, in part, due to some misconceptions. We’d like to lay out the facts here.
We are pro-mining - We support traditional ferrous mining and see its positive impact every day. Beyond creating livelihoods, mining in the Range provided the steel that won World War II, the wealth that led to the North Shore Drive and without mining, Minnesota would not be Minnesota.

100% of our stainless steel production tanks are North American made with steel from the Great Lakes region - We are not ignorant to the fact that we use mined minerals daily in our brewing process but we will continue to pay more for the best mining practices possible.  We purposefully avoided purchasing cheaper Chinese manufactured brewing vessels mainly in part to support our region. This has been a source of great pride for our young company.  

We are proud of our states and regions attention to protection - We do have general trust in our state and its regulations and we see that there is an enormous amount of consideration and planning into protecting our region, and we are thankful that we have such regulations in our region compared to the rest of the world. However, we do not have to look far into both recent and historical headlines to understand that there can be failures in our system.

We are pro-union and liveable wages - We have hired over 2,200 hours and paid over $1 million dollars to date for union labor from local contractors including AW Kuettel, Hunt Electric and Johnson Wilson Constructors among others. They have performed all of our initial buildout and expansion construction over the last three years. Hiring union labor was highly important to our founding principles and easy not to do as a young startup just trying to get off the ground.

We care about our neighbors, our neighborhood, and our employees - We strive to be proactive members of our community and region. To date we have donated back over $100,000 to over 200 local non-profits and charitable causes. Being a positive member of our community is highly important to us and we have worked on ways to say yes to need rather than limit our giving.

Our brewery is located in a neighborhood that has historically been unattractive to business development. We have joined and been active in several organizations to revitalize the neighborhood we operate in and are trying to find ways and reasons for other business to open and provide jobs for neighborhood residents. At the end of the day we feel it is better to be proactive and stand up for what you believe to be right.

We have grown from 5 to 31 mainly full time employees in less than 3 years with many new hires on the horizon.  We take great pride in taking care of our staff by paying them well, offering high-quality benefits and by doing everything in our power to protect the raw materials of our business including the water so we can keep brewing and employing them for years and years to come.
When this controversy first began, our first action was to get into our car and drive to every store and bar struggling under pressure to drop our product on the Range. We drove. We listened. We explained. While these accounts don’t represent huge sales volumes, it’s the relationships that truly matter to us.  We want to take this time to thank those business owners who did not succumb to the pressure of a few and who believe in the free market by keeping our Northland made beer on their shelves and menus.  We also want to do everything in our power to help the Range and this region with the job insecurity that has been so prevalent in the traditional mining communities of our state – please know that Bent Paddle will be right beside you as we demand action from our NE Minnesota policymakers and seek real, long-lasting sustainable economic diversification for our region so we can all continue to live, work and play here without fear of what tomorrow will lend.

None of this has been easy. Beer is often celebratory, bringing people together.  We take a lot of pride in being a part of this region so it has been incredibly difficult to think of this issue dividing us. 

But, as hard as this is, we’re proud of our stance.  In our backyard sits 10% of the world’s fresh water – fresh, clean water is becoming a more valuable asset globally each day and to think we are all the stewards of 10% of it is a large undertaking that we believe our NE Minnesota community should be protecting wholeheartedly — in our case even if it means upsetting friends and losing sales. 

Thank you for your time and for listening - we would love it if you reversed your decision tonight and let your consumers, both local and visiting or passing through, decide whether or not to purchase our beer directly.  Thank you again.


Great Expectations School invites community to celebration of writing Thursday

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 2:52pm

Students in first through eighth-grades at Great Expectations School invite everyone to a celebration Thursday, March 24 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Students will be sharing their writing. The evening will include excerpts of student novels, puppet theater presentations of personal narratives and hands-on activities.

Great Expectations is at 550 East 5th Street in Grand Marais.


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

Explore mythology with the Duluth Playhouse and Theatre

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 11:34am

The Arrowhead Library System is pleased to present the Duluth Playhouse production of "The Imaginarium Myth Adventure" with the Theatre for Young Audiences. This free program is offered at three locations on three separate dates: the Arrowhead Center for the Arts on Friday, March 25, 1:30 p.m.; Silver Bay Public Library on Monday, March 28, 6:00 p.m.; and Two Harbors Public Library on Thursday, March 31, 6:00 p.m.

Join a ragtag group of kids as they set off for adventure using their imaginations to explore mythology. The Imaginarium Myth Adventure is the Theater for Younger Audiences’ third 03-24-16 installment of learning centric plays designed to travel in order to reach a wider community. This interactive and energetic original play will be a blast for the whole family. Don’t miss this exciting theatre experience!

To learn more about Arrowhead Legacy Events, visit their calendar at


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

WTIP wins AP broadcasting awards

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 10:19am

The following are WTIP staff and volunteer award winners in the 2015 Minnesota Associated Press Broadcasters news contest. Awards will be presented April 8 at the annual AP banquet at the Midwest Journalism Conference in Bloomington.

WTIP Station Manager Debbie Benedict said the awards showcase another year of high-quality production at the Grand Marais-based station.

“These awards showcase our continued effort to produce diverse content in news, music and features for our listeners along the North Shore and beyond,” Benedict said. “Our entire staff worked hard to make these achievements possible.”
Radio I Awards
Spot/Hard News
First Place: WTIP, Grand Marais, "The Lake Superior Project: 50 Years on Mic Mac Lake," by Martha Marnocha
Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "The Lake Superior Project: From Bayfield to Baikal," by Martha Marnocha
Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "Rock Collecting Along the North Shore," by Joe Friedrichs

First Place: WTIP, Grand Marais, "Local Music Project: Gordon Thorne and the Fingerstyle Masters Weekend," by Will Moore
Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "The Lake Superior Project: Lake Superior Herring Decline Linked to Variety of Factors," By Joe Friedrichs
Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "Wolf Reinstatement Leaves Some Without Predator Control Options," by Joe Friedrichs

Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "The Lake Superior Project: The Toxic Legacy of the Former Finland Air Force Base," by Martha Marnocha

Sports Reporting
Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "Fishing Women," by Joe Friedrichs

First Place: WTIP, Grand Marais, "Gus' Wild Side: Unruly Pond Hockey," by Dennis Kaleta, Martha Marnocha
Honorable Mention: WTIP, Grand Marais, "Sunny's Back Yard: Adopting Two Huskies," by Nancy Steinhauser, Martha Marnocha
Best in Show
WTIP, Grand Marais, "The Lake Superior Project: 50 Years on Mic Mac Lake," by Martha Marnocha

Right to carry permit fee discussed at county board meeting

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 5:46am

If Sheriff Pat Eliasen has his way, it will cost more to legally carry a gun in Cook County in 2016 than it has in recent years. Eliasen made an official request to Cook County Commissioners on Tuesday to raise the permit to carry processing fee from $50 to $75.

Eliasen also requested renewal fees for the right to legally carry a fireman be raised from $35 to $55. Furthermore, a replacement card if one is lost or needs a change of address would now cost $10. Previously there was no charge for replacement cards.

Eliasen said the fees were necessary to offset staff time required in processing the permits. Cook County has traditionally had a high number of right to carry permits issued, often times leading the state in such permits annually per capita.

In 2012, for example, Cook County had 52 permit holders for every 1,000 residents. This compared to the state average of 19 concealed weapons permits for every 1,000 people.

The board floated the idea of a different fee scale for local and non-locals, with those residing outside the area paying more than county residents.

After discussion, commissioners opted to table the fee issue.  Only Commissioner Jan Sivertson voted in favor of supporting the Sheriff’s request. The fee increase will likely be addressed and voted on again at the April 12 meeting.

Grand Marais Lions Club raffle to help purchase vision screener

Tue, 03/22/2016 - 8:53pm

The Grand Marais Lions Club does more than host the Fisherman’s Picnic celebration each year in August. The Lions Club International motto is “We serve” and Lions Clubs across the nation and the world serve their communities in many ways. One mission adopted by Lions Club is the preservation of vision and assistance to the sight impaired. The Grand Marais Lions Club has launched an effort to ensure youth visions screenings are the best they can be. The Lions are partnering with Cook County Schools and the North Shore Health Care Foundation to purchase a Spot Vision Screener.

The Spot Vision Screener, which does not require the patient to speak or participate in the test, is especially helpful for testing very young or non-verbal students that cannot be tested with a traditional eye chart.

The cost of the Spot Vision Screener is $7,500 and the Grand Marais Lions hope to raise a third of the expense. To raise the money the Lions are conducting a raffle with three major prizes, $400 gift cards from Buck’s Hardware, Mike’s Holiday Station and Grand Marais SuperAmerica.

Tickets are $10 and only 360 tickets are being sold. Tickets are available at the American Legion, Ryden’s Border Store, Buck’s, Holiday and SuperAmerica or from a Grand Marais Lion.

The drawing will be held April 8 at the American Legion.


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