Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Superintendent Schwarz resigns her ISD166 position

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 9:45am

ISD166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz Thursday told the Cook County School Board she will not seek a renewal of her current contract, but will remain in her position until the end of the academic year. Her resignation will be effective June 30, 2016.

In an interview with WTIP, Schwarz gave several reasons for her decision. She said the recent resignation of elementary principal Gwen Carman opens up the opportunity for revisions in the administrative structure of the district. She said not having a personal stake in administrative restructuring, will help expedite the process.

Schwarz admits to being something of a lightning rod in the community and feels her future presence in the role of Superintendent may impede the adoption of an operating levy this fall. She said if the levy does not pass, the district may face a minimum of $400,000 in budget reductions, with which she and the school, board would have to begin dealing.

According to Schwarz, the district is facing some deficiencies as well as opportunities in Special Education. She intends to concentrate over the next year on district-wide oversight and restructuring of the Special Ed. program.

Grades 6-12 Principal Adam Nelson will assume the K-12 position as well as high school special education. In addition to continuing her responsibilities as superintendent, Schwarz will cover Early Childhood and Elementary Special Ed.

'Bridge to Health' survey seeks input from area residents

Thu, 09/03/2015 - 11:00am

How healthy are we in the Northland?  A survey now in progress hopes to find out. WTIP's Veronica Weadock spoke Joni Kristenson, Maren Webb and Jenny Peterson to learn more about this survey.

More information is available at


City and county seeking solution to vacation rental question

Thu, 09/03/2015 - 10:45am

The nettlesome question of whether to allow vacation rentals in residential districts was again before Grand Marais city councilors Aug. 12.

Two citizens spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, both of whom supported a change in the ordinance, which dates to 1971 and prohibits such use. Although the ordinance has been revised at various times over the years, the planning commission has twice in the last three months been unable to reach a consensus on making any further changes regarding vacation rentals, and thus has recommended to city council that the ordinance remain as is.

Speaking to council Aug. 12 were Tod Sylvester and David Beckwith. Sylvester said he saw no problem with allowing vacation rentals in residential zones and pointed out some apparent inconsistencies in the ordinance.

Beckwith, a member of the city planning commission, said the zoning board is here to serve the people of Grand Marais, but due to recent bickering and ineffectiveness, he’s not sure that’s happening. “You [council] asked us for help and we were unable to provide it,” he said, noting that he and fellow planning commission member Hal Greenwood were outvoted on the matter twice, both times by 3-2 counts.

“It’s kind of disappointing that we couldn’t come up with anything,” said Beckwith, noting that there are several options available to help the three residents who are known to be operating vacation rentals not in compliance with the ordinance, but the board is unable to agree on any of them.

Councilor Tim Kennedy, who chairs the planning commission, said the commission looked at about 30 options employed by other municipalities to manage and control vacation rentals. “It was a very thorough discussion, but no agreement was reached,” said Kennedy, who described the commission’s discussion and debate as “pretty heated” at times.

City to seek bonding for Grand Marais water access project

Thu, 09/03/2015 - 10:40am

A long talked about and planned project to improve the Grand Marais Recreational Park public water access found some new energy after a meeting with three Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials on August 13.

Joe Russell, DNR Trails and Waterways area manager, Kent Skaar, DNR acquisition and development section lead, and Larry Killien, DNR Harbors Program, met with Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, City Councilor Dave Mills, Grand Marais Parks Manager Dave Tersteeg, Jim Boyd, executive director of Cook County Chamber of Commerce, Judy Erickson, lobbyist on behalf of the chamber, and Bev Green, volunteer for Arrowhead Animal Rescue.

Plans have been in the works since 2012 to make improvements to the rubble mound break wall, boat landing, public parking lot, picnic area, and find a new home for the animal shelter as well as remove the city’s garage.

In 2014 the city asked the DNR to come up with plans to develop a break wall for improved launch and haul-out of boats.

In response to the city’s wishes the DNR presented three options for a rubble mound break wall. Option two was selected by the group because is would develop a basin and break wall that would accommodate 35-38 foot boats. Estimated cost for the work is $936,000.

To offset the cost the city has decided to pursue state bonding money, which would supplement any public water access funds available for this job. Erickson will present this project to officials taking part in the state bonding tour that will take place September 16 at Split Rock Lighthouse. The goal is to have a bill written in support of the funds and submitted into the 2016 bonding bill and, hopefully passed by the Minnesota State Legislature.

All told it is estimated that the total cost of the city’s parkside public access improvements will cost between $1.9 to $2.1 million.


Hymers Fall Fair in Ontario, September 6-7

Thu, 09/03/2015 - 10:25am

Community Producer Sue Maijala spoke with Kathleen Woodbeck about this year's 103rd Hymers Fall Fair - a yearly event held in the village of Hymers, close to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

September 6 and 7
Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Monday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

More information about the Hymers Fall Fair is online at


Summer weather slips toward fall

Thu, 09/03/2015 - 10:25am