Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Dog Days of Winter CANCELLED

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 12:33pm

The Dog Days of Winter (DDW) events planned for Trail Center on Poplar Lake on Sunday, March 13 has been CANCELLED!

The event was intended to celebrate the waning of winter with family-friendly outdoor events, however the fast arrival of spring and melting ice has caused the cancellation of dog sled and skijoring races.


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


County cuts funds for home health care

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 12:32pm


In an era when public money is getting harder and harder to come by, any cuts to a budget hurt, and it was against this backdrop that Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center (CCNSHCC) Administrator Kimber Wraalstad told the hospital board at its February 18 meeting that the county had cut $15,000 from its home health care funds.

Wraalstad said the county recently sent CCNSHCC the annual purchase of service contract from Cook County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) and it was a reduction of 37.5 percent from past years.

Typical assistance provided under this contract is for skilled nursing, home rehabilitative and home health aide services.

“This amount [$25,000] is a $15,000 reduction from the $40,000 allowed in 2015,” said Wraalstad.

Hospital Board Member Tom Spence questioned why the cut was made. Wraalstad responded, “Several years ago it was the intent for the Cook County Public Health Board to ultimately eliminate this contract.

“In 2013, after further discussion and analysis, the Public Health Board reconsidered their intention and in 2014 and 2015 continued to fond this program at $40,000 per year. With budget constraints and the thought that more county residents are covered by some type of health insurance, it was the decision of the Public Health Board to approve the Public Health and Human Services budget including a $25,000 allocation for the home health care program.”

Spence asked for clarification, restating that the county decided that since more people were covered under health insurance, they didn’t have to contribute as much to this fund?

“Yes,” said Wraaslstad, adding that insurance plans rarely cover these types of visits.

“North Shore Home Care bills this sliding fee program only if no other payer is appropriate and it is used as the payer of last resort,” She said.

Spring-like weather to continue

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 11:48am

It’s beginning to feel a lot like spring…and more on the way into next week. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson.


Draft of Cook County Comprehensive Trail Plan available for review

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 2:12pm

A Cook County Comprehensive Trails Plan is being developed to outline strategic actions that the county and trail stakeholders can take to “create and maintain a quality system of trails for multiple uses in order to contribute to the quality of life for residents and the quality of experiences for visitors in Cook County and Grand Portage.”

Cook County is working with professional planners from the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) to complete the planning process and a public comment period will open on March 7, 2016.

According to David Demmer, land use specialist with Cook County Planning and Zoning, draft proposed actions include policy changes, improved and expanded trail systems, improvements to trail affiliated public facilities, improving the efficiency of trail maintenance, and many other ideas. 

On March 7, 2016, residents and other interested stakeholders can review the draft document by going to:

The draft plan can also reviewed as a hard copy at the Cook County Planning and Zoning office and the Grand Marais Public Library. 

The public input period will give interested parties a chance to suggest changes or add recommended actions to the plan.  The committee responsible for drafting the plan will consider changes to the document after the public input period closes on March 18, 2016 and before the plan goes to an official adoption process with the Cook County Board of Commissioners. 

Comments on the draft plan should be sent to ARDC via email to Charlie Moore at or mailed to: Charlie Moore, ARDC, 221 West First Street, Duluth, MN 55812.

Additional comments will be accepted at a public presentation of the draft plan at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at the Cook County commissioners’ room at the courthouse in Grand Marais. 


Logging truck accident near Lutsen injures three

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 1:40pm

As reported live on WTIP March, 7, three people were injured Tuesday afternoon in an automobile accident involving a logging truck that spilled its cargo across Highway 61 near Lutsen and the Caribou Trail.

None of the individuals involved in the accident are from Cook County.

According to an incident report from the Minnesota State Patrol, Brandon Smith, 32, of International Falls, and Constance and Russell Almquist, both 80, of Bloomington, Minn., were taken from the scene by ambulance. Smith, the driver of the logging truck, and Constance Almquist were taken to North Shore Hospital and Care Center in Grand Marais. Russell Almquist was taken to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he is reported by the hospital to be in fair condition.

The couple had been traveling north in a Honda Accord on Highway 61 when it struck the spilled logs. The logging truck had come to rest on its side, blocking the northbound lane of Highway 61.

Smith had been traveling east on Caribou Trail and attempting to turn north onto Highway 61 when the truck overturned shortly after 1:30 p.m.

Grand Portage Band obtains 'Susie Islands' from Nature Conservancy

Wed, 03/09/2016 - 10:45am

In what was deemed a positive and beneficial land acquisition for all parties involved, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa obtained the Susie Island parcel from the Nature Conservancy. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs reports on this story. 


EIS approval far from Polymet's end goal

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 8:32am

A proposed mining project near Hoyt Lakes took a big step forward last week when an Environmental Impact Statement was approved by the DNR. But there is much more to come that could determine if the project will actually happen or not. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this report. 


West End elections and annual meetings on Tuesday, March 8

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:45pm

Coming up on March 8, Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder residents will cast ballots for their township government representatives. All three townships hold their annual meeting and elections that day, with polls opening at 5 p.m. and the annual meeting beginning at 8 p.m.

The News-Herald talked to a number of the candidates, asking them why they are running for a town board seat—or running for re-election. The overwhelming response is that they just want to give back to the community.

In Lutsen, Rae Piepho is running for the supervisor seat currently held by Tim Goettl. Goettl is not running for re-election.

Acting Lutsen Clerk Sharon Hexum Platzer is running for the clerk position.

In Schroeder, two incumbents are running for re-election, unopposed—Supervisor Tina McKeever and Clerk Doug Schwecke.

In Tofte, incumbent clerk Barb Gervais is running for re-election and acting treasurer Nancy Iverson is running to fill that position.

Tofte has a contested race—incumbent Supervisor Jim King is being challenged by Sarah Somnis.


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

Public hearing on proposed changes to septic ordinance March 9

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 12:41pm

Planning and Zoning Director Tim Nelson appeared before the county board on Tuesday, February 16 to explain a change to the county septic ordinance that he hopes will satisfy the concerns of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Nelson explained that Cook County Planning and Zoning staff and the septic system ordinance committee recognized the difficulty for property owners to establish two “Type 1” septic sites for newly created residential lots. Nelson said considering the “geology and geography” of the county, the county ordinance was created with language that would give property owners more flexibility.

Unfortunately, according to Nelson, the MPCA said the language was not suitable for a countywide ordinance. MPCA instead wants a case-by-case review of sites that do not have two septic sites, which would require a public hearing and would put more of a burden on anyone developing new residential lots.

Nelson said his staff and the Septic Advisory Committee formulated language that they believe will be accepted by MPCA that would be less quite cumbersome for landowners, using an administrative variance process—with no need for a public hearing.

The board agreed to hold a public hearing to consider adoption of the septic system ordinance language change on March 9 at 5 p.m. in the commissioners’ room.


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


Nature Conservancy aims to purchase Lake Superior shoreline near U.S.border

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 8:39am

The Nature Conservancy of Canada aims to purchase property along Lake Superior near the U.S. border. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs reports on this story. 


WTIP Weekend News Roundup for March 5

Sat, 03/05/2016 - 11:48am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. This was caucus week and there were big turnouts. The DNR signed off on the PolyMet project’s first phase, Great Lakes states are concerned about radioactivity and water demands…all this and more in the week’s news.


No Dollar General for Grand Marais?

Sat, 03/05/2016 - 11:42am

There have been more rumors surrounding a Dollar General store in Grand Marais and this time the rumors are that Dollar General is not coming to town. The Cook County News-Herald contacted the company this week and while no one can predict the future, as of Monday, Feb. 29, Dollar General has no plans to place a store in Grand Marais, according to Corrine Smith, marketing coordinator for the Dollar General. With stores popping up almost daily around the country, Smith had to take some time to locate Cook County on the company’s map that shows where new stores are being built or are being planned to be built in the coming year. Based on that map, said Smith, there was no indication Dollar General had any future plans to place a store in Grand Marais or anywhere in the county.

Richard J. Knight, an attorney in Appleton, Wisconsin registered the DGI-Grand Marais LLC trademark name on December 7, 2015. His partner, Todd Platt, a builder, was looking at land adjacent to the Harbor Light Restaurant.  Talks were underway with the owners of two pieces of property to build a 9,700-foot store. A survey was conducted and red flags marked off some of the area for a store, but no further action has been taken.

Those plans seem to have been halted following the February 10, Grand Marais City Council vote to establish a moratorium of up to one year on construction of buildings larger than 5,000 square feet on commercial/industrial property along Highway 61 within the city limits. Without the moratorium, the city’s current zoning laws wouldn’t have delayed—or stopped—the store from being built.

To date, Dollar General or Richard Knight had not applied for a building permit for the property next to Harbor Light.

Scrap 'N Craft at Birch Grove Community Center

Fri, 03/04/2016 - 2:07pm

Scrap 'N Craft at the Birch Grove Community Center, is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends and kids, work on hobbies, share ideas, visit and enjoy potluck.

The next scheduled event is at Birch Grove Community Center on March 6, 2016 from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Brenda Melin of Birch Grove invites everyone to “stop in and get those creative energies working.”

For more information about Birch Grove programs, call 218-663-7977.


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

DNR finds Polymet project review 'adequate'

Thu, 03/03/2016 - 5:17pm

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced Thursday, March 3, that the Environmental Impact Statement for Polymet Mining's Northmet Project meets state standards. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs reports on this story. 


March turns warm with snow and maybe rain

Thu, 03/03/2016 - 12:02pm

March is warming up. This weekend will have highs in the 40’s, a little snow and maybe even rain as we get into the week. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Stewart.