Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Update on wildfires burning in northeastern Minnesota

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 11:49am

WTIP's Joe Friedrichs spoke with Jean Goad, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids, on May 9 about a series of wildfires in northeastern Minnesota. 

To view more photographs from Matt Herberg of the fires, click here. 


Grand Marais area fisheries announces survey work

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 10:04am

Fisheries staff from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Grand Marais area office will conduct surveys and assessments on several area lakes and streams during the next few months. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs spoke with Steve Persons from the local fisheries office. 


A little rain, a little cooler, a little snow...

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 10:04am

Good chance of rain in the mid-week forecast, but the long-range view is for warmer but dry weather. Oh, yes, there is a mention of possible snow by the weekend. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Stewart.


Fire destroys structure at Hedstrom Lumber

Sun, 05/08/2016 - 10:32am
Hedstrom fire

At approximately 7:20 a.m. this morning, May 7, pages went out to the Maple Hill and Grand Marais Volunteer Fire Departments to respond to a fire at Hedstrom Lumber Mill.

Firefighters arrived on the scene to find fire burning inside a large metal structure on the north side of the main lumber mill building. Working in tandem, the fire departments set up on opposite sides of the structure to hit it with water. Tanker trucks traveled back and forth to the nearby hydrant at Devil Track River, filling drop tanks for hoses.

It seemed apparent that the building, which was once used for planing equipment but is now primarily storage, could not be saved. As the building abuts the main mill efforts were primarily to keep the fire from spreading to that building. Also concerning was the large pipe overhead that were once used to blow sawdust to bagging sawdust. Firefighters worked to ensure they were not under those as the building started to fall. As the metal walls weakened, the big pipe came crashing down, still partially attached.

Hedstrom Lumber staffers stood by with heavy equipment to assist as needed and as the fire died down, Mike Kimball used a piece of equipment with a battering ram-type attachment, used to break open clogged sawdust silos, to push the walls down and to knock the big pipe down.

Firefighters remain on the scene at 10:15 a.m. mopping up hot spots and monitoring the smoldering remains to make sure the fire does not re-ignite and spread.

The cause of the fire will be investigated, but it is suspected that the recent extremely dry conditions played a role. It is possible that a heater motor ignited the fine sawdust that is pervasive at the mill.

Local high schoolers attempt to rescue injured red fox

Sun, 05/08/2016 - 9:42am

Despite the valiant rescue efforts of two local high schoolers, a red fox died on Wednesday, May 4 at Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation in Duluth.

Jaret Baker and Andrew Lashinski had hopes that the little red fox they found on a Cook County back road would survive. The young men discovered the fox lying on the trail they were traveling on May 1, too weak to move, with a gash on its neck and a leg injury.

They carefully bundled it up in their coats and got it to safety and eventually to the Wildwoods Wildlife facility. At first it was believed the fox, was sick because it had lost part of its right leg, probably in a foothold trap. The loss of its leg likely made hunting very difficult, which lead to its extreme emaciation and the wildlife center began feeding it an easy-to-digest diet made specifically for debilitated carnivores—which the starved animal eagerly guzzled down.

The fox needed some additional tests, but the Wildwoods staff planned to start looking for a placement for the fox as an education animal, as he would never be releasable to the wild.

However, on May 4, Jaret and Andrew got bad news. After a comprehensive vet check, it was determined that not only had the red fox lost part of its leg in a trap, it had probably been hit by a car recently, leaving it paralyzed on one side. With only one functioning leg remaining, the fox would never walk and would likely never be free from pain. The Wildwood staff said a gentle release was sadly the kindest choice.

Anyone who would like more information about Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation, you can find them on Facebook or visit their website at


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




Boaters can get I-68 forms in Grand Marais May 7-8, May 14-15

Sat, 05/07/2016 - 4:37pm

If you plan to boat into Canadian waters and come back into the U.S., your best bet will be to obtain Form I-68 from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. Those forms will be available in Grand Marais at the Border Patrol Station on Highway 61 on May 7-8 and May 14-15 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

While there is no requirement to get Form I-68, boaters who choose not to obtain the document must report, in person, for inspection by a CBP Officer at a port-of-entry each time they enter the United States. U.S. boaters who enter the country with aliens who don’t have a Form I-68 and without reporting for inspection may be subject to fine and/or possible seizure of the boat. Also, people traveling by boat who do not have this form and fail to present themselves for inspection are subject to arrest, possible fine, or if a non-U.S. Citizen, removal from the United States.

After an initial inspection the Form I-68 allows boaters to report their arrival into the U.S. by phone without having to appear at a port-of-entry for an in-person inspection. An initial inspection involves an interview, checking the individual in the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) and possibly other law enforcement databases, completion of the form I-68, and payment of a fee.


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

Extreme fire danger in Cook County

Sat, 05/07/2016 - 4:36pm

For most of the state—including Cook County—the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has posted its fire danger rating as “Extreme,” meaning the fire situation for most of the state is “explosive.”

Under these conditions, the state will not allow open burning of brush and yard debris. Burning restrictions occur in the spring when the snow melts, and fuels like dry grass and leaves are exposed to dry winds and increased fire potential. Restrictions remain in place until sufficient green up, usually four to six weeks during April or May.

Residents can find the latest burning restrictions at or contact the local DNR forestry office to obtain current information on fire danger and burning restrictions.

The National Weather Service has issued its own notice. A “Red Flag Warning” is in effect for much of North-Central to Northeast Minnesota due to very dry and windy conditions.

The fire conditions are very similar to that at the start of the 2007 Ham Lake wildfire, which burned 75,000 acres and approximately 138 structures, began with a small campfire.


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


WTIP Weekend News Roundup for May 7

Sat, 05/07/2016 - 10:53am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. The move to strip down IRRRB continued for another week, Lake Superior levels are down, and unemployment in the region is up…all this and more in the week’s news.



Fires in Canada, near Iron Range town bring smoke to Cook County

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 7:45pm

Smoke lingering in Cook County Friday evening is the result of wildfires burning in Canada and a series of fires near Hoyt Lakes, which is a small town on the Iron Range approximately 110 miles from Grand Marais. 

The USDA Forest Service says eight to ten fires started along railroad tracks in the Skibo Road area east of Hoyt Lakes at around 3 p.m. The fire is believed to have grown to about 100 acres.

Authorities say several structures are threatened and evacuations are underway in the Skibo Junction area. An exact number of people being evacuated was not immediately available.

"The last report was that some of the fires had grown together," Forest Service public information officer Tim Engrav reported in a news release at 6:30 p.m.

Fire danger is extreme across northern Minnesota. High temperatures, low humidity, and high winds are making firefighting difficult. Multiple ground crews and aircraft are fighting the fire, and contending with gusty northwest winds and haze drifting into the area from Canadian wildfires.

View more news from WTIP

Folk school trend finds welcoming home in North Shore region

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 12:10pm

A new folk school opening this month in Duluth has followed suit with the trend of folk schools arriving to northeastern Minnesota. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs has this report on folks schools along the North Shore and surrounding area. 


Coordinating economic development is WTIP First Thursday topic

Fri, 05/06/2016 - 6:20am

Recent surveys show most Cook County residents are in favor of economic development, as long as it keeps the local flavor and doesn't do damage to the character of the place. Obviously these criteria mean different things to different people.

Join WTIP’s Jay Andersen for First Thursday Community Conversation. We’ll bring together in the studio representatives from the city, county, Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority to exchange perspectives on growing our community while retaining our character.

What is sustainable economic development? What does it mean to the county board and its agencies? What does it mean to the City of Grand Marais. Are they even talking to one another?

“First Thursday Community Conversation – sustainable economic development.” Only on WTIP North Shore Community Radio.



Household model coming for care center

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 9:19pm

With work going full steam ahead on the care center, North Shore Health Administrator Kimber Wraalstad told the hospital board of directors that employees have been receiving training on how to transitioning to providing care and service to the residents in a new way, using what is called the “household model.”

To that end a pilot group from the care center travelled to three care centers in Northeastern Minnesota on April 20-22 to see how this model works in a practical application.

Wraalstad said Lutsen Resort loaned its 15- passenger van for the trip which took them employees to Neilson Place in Bemidji; Good Samaritan Society in International Falls and the Senior Living Center in Warroad. In that group were Emily Arnold, Nursing Assistant (N.A.); Lisa Bloomquist, Activities; Dawn Dosey, N.A.; Sarah Groth, Housekeeper; Erik Pignolet, N.A.; Kristi Silence, LPN; Kelly Twiest, Nursing Assistant/Medication Aide/Rehab Aide; Helena Blake, department head; and Amy James, RN and the project leader.

“The pilot group members have created a list of questions they have about the change process, how specific situations work, experiences that were positive and areas that were not successful,” said Wraalstad. “As we begin to move into the new space, we will have the opportunity to practice various ideas, knowing that more change is to come.”


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


Local election filing period opens Mid-May

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 9:15pm

The acrimonious presidential election is getting most of the media attention of late, however there are some important local election dates to be aware of that are coming soon. Candidate filing periods for a number of local government boards will be open May 17 – May 31, 2016.

In Cook County, citizens will be voting for two county board seats, in the districts currently represented by Garry Gamble (District 2) and Heidi Doo-Kirk (District 4).

The Soil & Water Conservation District will see three supervisor seats up for election, currently held by Donald Goodell (District 1); Joan Farnam Morrison (District 3); and Jerry Hiniker (District 5).

The city of Grand Marais, School District 166 and North Shore Hospital do not have primary elections, so filing dates for those boards is later, from August 2 to August 16.

The North Shore Hospital Board will be seeking candidates in District 2 and 4, currently held by Justin Mueller and Kay Olson respectively.

In the city of Grand Marais, the mayor and two council seats will be on the ballot. Incumbents are Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux and councilors Tracy Benson and Tim Kennedy.

School District 166 board seats on the next ballot are held by Terry Collins (District 2) and Sissy Lunde (District 4).

Primary elections are held August 9, 2016. General elections will take place on November 8, 2016.

For information on how to file for office, contact Cook County Auditor Braidy Powers at (218) 387-3640 or email


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




New restaurant set to open on Middle Gunflint Trail

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 12:17pm

A new restaurant is set to open on the shores of Poplar Lake up the Gunflint Trail. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this story on the Dancing Bear Café. 

To view the Dancing Bear Cafe menu, click here. 

For more information on Big Bear Lodge and Cabins, click here. 


Warm weather prompts fire danger

Thu, 05/05/2016 - 10:32am

May is starting out dry and warm with elevated fire danger. But the weekend may see some rain, even thunderstorms. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Linda Ingebretson.