Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

A glimpse inside Taconite Harbor as closure process unfolds

Wed, 04/06/2016 - 10:25am

The Taconite Harbor Energy Center in Cook County is set to go idle in September. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently took a tour of the plant and spoke with people who work at and will be impacted by Taconite Harbor’s eventual closure. 


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"Local Energy Thursdays" at North House in April

Tue, 04/05/2016 - 8:57pm

April is Earth Month! The Cook County Local Energy Project presents Local Energy Thursdays at North House Folk School. Each event is free and takes place 7-9 p.m.

April 7 is Seal it up! A Home Energy Efficiency Pep Talk with builder and energy auditor Mike Senty. Watch an energy efficient house be built from the ground up. Win a REEP home audit. Take home a grab bag of energy tools and start saving money and energy now.

April 14 is Solar Power Hour and Grow Solar. Use the sun to power your home, business or farm. This event includes testimonials from local solar power homeowners, an introduction to the Arrowhead Electric Community Solar project, and solar basics and step-by-step with Dathan Lythgoe of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

Finally, April 21 is Bringing Climate Change Home: A Community Show and Tell. During this event, learn about a vegetable-oil powered road trip with Jonathan Hedstrom, and hear Morgan Weyrens Welch report on her trip to the Paris COP21 Climate Talks. This event also includes The Carbon Fee and Dividend solution, an educational session by the Cook County Citizens Climate Lobby.

Additional information is available at


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


Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge returning to Lutsen Mountains

Tue, 04/05/2016 - 8:54pm

Local motorsports enthusiasts are excited to hear that Cor PowerSports will be returning to Lutsen Mountains on April 15-17 with the Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge (MESC), bringing world class competition to Moose Mountain once again. Last year local racers faced the challenge along with riders from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and a large contingent of racers from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Cor PowerSports has finalized the format for the new MESC Triple Crown series, which will conclude its third round of the 2016 race series at Lutsen Mountains.

The MESC Triple Crown is a three-race spring series consisting of cross-country, Hillclimb, and Hill X. There are more than 10 classes in each race and a cap of 20 riders per class. 

MESC Lutsen is expected to have over 500 riders, with a projected purse of $40,000, based on the projected number of entries.

Jim Vick, marketing director of Lutsen Mountains said, “Lutsen Mountains staff has been working closely with Cor PowerSports since last year’s race to improve the layout of the races. We have some of the steepest hills in the Midwest, so we’re looking at ways to improve spectator viewing.”

New for this year Cor PowerSports has made Lutsen the series final for its cross-country race series as well. There have been verbal commitments from some of the elite professional XC racers to attend. Cor PowerSports has confirmed with Jackson Hole World Championships that three hillclimb racers will qualify at this event for the 2017 world championships in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.


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




"Light snow" is the phrase of the week

Mon, 04/04/2016 - 9:30am

This week’s weather mantra is “light snow.” Almost every day we’ll see some snow and cooler temperatures. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christernson.


Pike Lake Road raises number of questions concerning local roadways

Mon, 04/04/2016 - 8:55am

Pike Lake Road is frequently prone to potholes and frost boils as the seasons come and go. But many local residents who frequent the gravel road are claiming it is in very bad shape this year. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs has this report. 


Be aware of bears this spring

Mon, 04/04/2016 - 12:02am

Anyone living near bear habitat is reminded to be aware of bears this spring and check their property for food sources that could attract them, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

As bears emerge from hibernation, their metabolism gradually ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. Bears may be tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage.

Only black bears live in the wild in Minnesota. They normally are shy and usually flee when encountered. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.
The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else.

The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts:

* Do not leave food from barbecues and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.

* Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.

* Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.

* Use a rope and pulley system to refill bird feeders, and clean up seeds that spill onto the ground. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between now and Dec. 1.

* Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.

* Clean and store barbecue grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.

* Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.

* Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Do not add food scraps.

North Shore Hospital approves contract with payraises for some staff

Sat, 04/02/2016 - 1:53pm

Most workers at the Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center will receive a 2.25 percent raise this year—retroactive to January 1, 2016—and a 2 percent raise in 2017, Cook County Hospital/Care Center Administrator Kimber Wraalstad told the hospital board at its March 23 meeting.

Some office and management employees and RNs are not covered under the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) contract, said Wraalstad, working instead under other negotiated agreements.

The contract provides employment raises as well as an increase for call pay from $4.75 to $5 per-hour.

Workers covered include cooks and dietary staff; radiology; lab; maintenance, housekeeping and laundry, physical therapy, business office, licensed practical nurses, and nursing assistants.

Board Member Tom Spence asked if this is in line with what other hospitals offer. Wraalstad said, “Yes, this compares very well with what the other hospitals offer their employees”

The hospital board voted 5-0 to approve the two-year contract.


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

WTIP Weekend News Roundup for April 2

Sat, 04/02/2016 - 10:54am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Relief for Iron Range workers has finally materialized. IRRRB to offer incentives to senior employees and PolyMet financial assurances to be monitored…all this and more in the week’s news.



Pinwheels will again represent Child Abuse Prevention month

Fri, 04/01/2016 - 12:44pm


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and this month and throughout the year, the School Community Action Team encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making communities a better place for children and families.

By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, they help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities. Research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk of neglect and abuse diminishes and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted.

The six protective factors are: nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development, parental resilience, social connections, concrete supports for parents, social and emotional developmental well-being.

April is a time to acknowledge the important role that communities play in protecting children. Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development.

“Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign will occur throughout April. The pinwheel was introduced as the national symbol for child abuse prevention in 2008. Pinwheels will be passed out to children in school and displayed at local businesses to help remind kids and adults about the important issues of child safety and child abuse prevention. When seen, the pinwheels will serve as a call to action and an opportunity for community members to recognize that we all play a role in children’s lives.


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

April brings awareness to child abuse in Cook County

Fri, 04/01/2016 - 7:31am

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with county staff from the Health and Human Services Department about the reality of child neglect and out-of-home placement issues in Cook County. 

The entired ReMoved film series can be found by clicking here. 

Special thanks to Nathanael Matanick for audio assistance with this story. 


Lutsen considers street light for bottom of Caribou Trail

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 11:17am

During Lutsen Township’s annual meeting in early March, Spencer Motschenbacher approached the board of supervisors about installing a light at the end of the Caribou Trail. Earlier that day, an accident involving a logging truck and a passenger vehicle occurred right where the new lighting would be installed. The topic was put on the agenda for the next regular meeting.

The possibility of adding a light at the bottom of the Caribou Trail had been discussed before, but was voted down by previous supervisors because many saw it as light pollution and unnecessary. On Tuesday, March 15, with the accident still fresh in everybody’s mind, Motschenbacher opened discussion of the proposed light.

Motschenbacher said, “They make a great improvement at night time driving. I do see it as a safety factor.”

Supervisor Andrew Beavers and EMS chief Fred Schmidt both agreed with Motschenbacher, noting that it is difficult to see the trail in bad weather and a light would help. Schmidt added that, with the Fire Hall just up the road, it could be extremely helpful to have the light marking the trail.

Supervisor Tim Goettl read a letter from a Lutsen resident and another spoke at the meeting questioning the need for the light. The letter writer noted that light pollution is a “real factor in our world.”

However both people also said if there is a safety case for the light, they would not be opposed.

Other possibilities to help with visibility on the trail, including reflectors or lights on the stop sign itself, were also suggested. The discussion concluded with a motion for Supervisor Beavers to contact the Minnesota Department of Transportation to see if the township could get funding for a light and reflectors.


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

The return of the Alberta Clipper?

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 11:08am

An Alberta Clipper could be coming to the area this weekend. Not as much as January, but more like winter than spring. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Miller.


Farm and Craft Market will be moving this summer

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 11:08am

The Farm and Craft Market will be moving location this summer and the liquor store manager would like a few changes made at the Muni. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux.



Viennese ensemble to perform at Arrowhead Center for the Arts Saturday

Wed, 03/30/2016 - 5:26pm

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.


Spring clean up scheduled for Gunflint Horse Arena and Dog Park April 2

Wed, 03/30/2016 - 5:21pm

Over the winter, members of the local horse community and Go Dog North Shore met to discuss shared use of the Gunflint Horse Arena and Dog Park in Grand Marais. Although it is a long-range goal of Go Dog North Shore to have its own separate space for a dog park, for now, the groups will share the space with the understanding that dog owners who use the park will provide clean up. Toward that end, Go Dog North Shore is hosting a spring clean up at the Gunflint Horse Arena and Dog Park on Saturday, April 2 from 10 a.m. until noon.  

Volunteers are asked to bring their own work gloves and shovel if possible.  

Cathy Quinn of Go Dog North Shore reminds dog owners that members of the horse community have invested a lot of time and money into the horse arena so they take a lot of pride in the space. “As they should!” she said.

Quinn said that the park has proven to be a very important resource for dog owners too over the last few years.  “It's a great space for people to exercise their dogs off leash safe from traffic and predators.  It has also become a valuable resource for folks visiting the county who like to travel with their pets,” she said.

As word spreads about the availability of the park, it continues to get more and more use, especially from July into September. Quinn said unfortunately that led to an unacceptable amount of dog waste left in the park.  

“This was particularly frustrating to members of the horse community who recently invested more time and money into improving the arena footing,” said Quinn.

The park is equipped with a waste bag station and garbage can and visitors are asked to clean up after their dogs. However, it doesn’t always happen.