Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Cook County Ridge Riders Fun Run is tomorrow, February 6

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 3:30pm

For the seventh year of the Cook County Ridge Riders Fun Run, the snowmobile club is changing things up a bit.  With the closing of the Landing on Devil Track, the Fun Run will now start and end at the Ridge Riders’ Clubhouse on South Shore Drive on Devil Track Lake. All are invited to join in the festivities February 6.

Ridge Riders members have been working hard to get trails cleared, so now it is time to have some fun at the Fun Run. The event starts with a poker run up the Gunflint Trail. To collect poker hand cards, riders hit the trails and stop and get stamped at the following stops, Hungry Jack Lodge, Trail Center Lodge, Windigo Lodge, Gunflint Lodge and Gunflint Pines. The event starts at 9:00 a.m. and all riders need to be back by 5:30 p.m.

Back at the Clubhouse, there will be raffles and the famous balloon pop game. One of the Fun Run organizers Andrea Everson said there are once again numerous great prizes. Everson added, “We would like to thank all the businesses that donate as we know that they all get asked for donations all the time,” said Everson.

There will also be music and great food catered by Rebecca Thompson of Alyce's. Thompson will have her famous squealer sandwiches and much more.  

“This is our biggest fundraiser and we hope it helps with businesses by getting more people from out of town coming to stay at hotels to eat at restaurants and even shop at the stores in town and of course, get gas at the gas stations.

“We look forward to seeing everyone on Feb 7th. Look for the signs to the Clubhouse and additional parking at the old Cook County airport runway,” said Everson.

Check out the Ridge Rider’s Facebook page for more information or email:


Viking girls take Alpine Section 7 championship

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 3:24pm

The Cook County/Silver Bay Alpine Vikings traveled to the Section 7 Championship Ski Meet on Tuesday, February 2.  Twenty-two teams and 242 racers from the Northland and North Twin Cities Metro including Stillwater make up section 7.  Two teams and approximately 15 individuals of each gender were competing to advance to the State Ski Meet.

Coach Charles Lamb said both our boys’ and girls’ teams were underdogs to advance to State, but in every sport anything is possible at a big game.  The only way our teams could advance is if each of our four fastest scorers of the six-member section team threw down his or her fastest possible run and didn’t fall.  Our teams are not as deep as the bigger schools, so our fastest kids needed to come through in a big way and hopefully more of our competition would crash than our racers.  

The stage was set with near perfect weather conditions and temps in the low 20s and clear skies for the first run, turning overcast for the second run. Both race hills were in excellent shape from an early evening groom and a nice frosty night to set up. 

It was an exciting day of racing and at the end of the day, the Viking girls were crowned Section 7 champs and will go on to State. Congratulations to Sela Backstrom, Madysen McKeever, Haley Yoki, Morgan Welch, Reilly Wahlers and Alyssa Martinson.

Individual skiers also earned spots on the slate of racers at the upcoming State competition: Alyssa Martinson, Sela Backstrom and Reilly Wahlers are also going to state as is Logan Backstrom.

Best of luck to all of them on February 10 at Giants Ridge!


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

Local musher talks 2016 Beargrease

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 8:25am

Local musher Erin Altemus had another strong performance in this year’s John Beargrease Sled Dog Race full marathon. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Erin the day after the race. 


Public reminded to be aware of wolves up Gunflint Trail

Fri, 02/05/2016 - 8:25am

A number of reports have come in already this year involving wolf encounters with people up the Gunflint Trail. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reports on this story.  


Cloud Cult to perform at Papa Charlie's on Saturday, February 6

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 2:42pm

Stop by Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountains on Saturday, February 6, 9:30 p.m. to hear a live performance by Cloud Cult. The experimental, alternative rock band will be performing in support of their upcoming album, The Seeker, which is coming out later in February. The performance may include a few songs from the upcoming album as well as other favorites.

The Seeker is the band’s tenth, full-length studio album and is accompanied by a new, feature-length film. The film, which is based on the story outlined in the new album, follows the life of a young girl who, after suffering loss, embarks on a self-discovering journey. The story was written by Craig Minowa, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist as well as founder of Cloud Cult.

The Seeker is also the first album to be recorded entirely in Cloud Cult’s own solar powered Earthology Records studio. The studio reflects Cloud Cult’s environmentally conscious philosophy that influences the marketing and production of all of their products.

Tickets and additional information on Cloud Cult and their upcoming concerts can be found online at


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

AARP TaxAide volunteers ready to help taxpayers

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 2:40pm

The AARP TaxAide volunteers are ready once again to help members of the community with their 2015 state and federal returns and their Minnesota property tax and rent refund forms. In most cases the volunteers can E-file for taxpayers.

The AARP can help in several ways, including amending previous returns if a mistake was made or an omission occurred. Volunteers can also help taxpayers estimate next year’s payment or refund; can print out the appropriate Estimated Tax Vouchers for taxpayers to use in 2016; and can help taxpayers understand how to respond to letters from the IRS or Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Volunteer Chuck Flickinger noted that little had changed since last year, adding, “This year is so ‘like last year’ that the IRS did not even change the workbooks.”

The volunteers take people on a first come, first served basis.

Tax preparation began Tuesday, February 2 and will continue through April 14.

Tax volunteers will be at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the Grand Portage Community Center on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte on Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Anyone with questions is asked to call Chuck Flickinger (218) 475-2776 or Steve Deschene at (218) 370-2184.


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

Dollar General topic brings large crowd to city hall

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:02pm

It was a busy night at the Grand Marais City Hall Wednesday, Feb. 3. The hot topic: Dollar General. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs attended the meeting and has this report. 


Snowy weekend in store

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:02pm

On again, off again snowfalls this weekend. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson.



Medical marijuana not available at local medical facilities

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 3:30pm

Even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana, it can’t be filled at Cook County North Shore Hospital (CCNSH). Nor can it be filled at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic.

This would seem to counter the state of Minnesota’s new law, which legalized medical marijuana on January 1, 2016.

Under the legislation, Minnesotans diagnosed with intractable pain (when no relief or cure of the cause of pain is possible, or none has been found after reasonable efforts) are now eligible to receive medical marijuana to treat their pain.

However, Hospital Director Kimber Wraastad said to the hospital board on January 21, “To our knowledge there is no nonprofit hospital or nursing home in the state that allows this.”

The problem, said Wraalstad, is that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “can exclude providers for payment for breaking the federal law,” because medical marijuana isn’t legal nationally.

Until the federal government changes its stance on medical marijuana, Wraalstad said the hospital/care center couldn’t risk providing cannabis to patients for fear of losing its Medicaid/Medicare payments.


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

Public Health & Human Services Director to retire

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 3:28pm

Cook County Public Health and Services (PHHS) Director Sue Futterer will be leaving her position, but not for a while. Futterer, who will retire on July 8 after filling the position for 18 years, made the announcement at the Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, January 19, at the end of the Health and Human Services Board meeting.

Commissioners were saddened, but understanding.

“This has been a very difficult decision and one I have been thinking about for a long time,” Futterer said to the commissioners, adding she had told her staff earlier so they would be aware of her decision.

The position will be advertised first internally, but Futterer said County Administrator Jeff Cadwell would post her job to the public in the near future in light of several human service directors in the region announcing that they too, will be retiring soon.

Lake County will lose its director at the end of June, said Futterer, the Koochiching’s human service director leaves in July, and the St Louis County’s human services director will retire in April.

Futterer said she would like to help with the coming transition, adding, “People have gone through change and change is good. New leadership is good. You’ll be fine.”

When she told her family, her son called and said, “Good luck mom on saying you’re going to retire.”

“They know it’s an emotional thing for me,” said Futterer. “I am really tied to what we do.


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


Opinions surface on proposed Dollar General store

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 8:39am

Grand Marais could be home to a Dollar General store if development plans continue on a proposed project. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs reports on this story. 


View more news from WTIP

Borealis Chorale to perform CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 2:56pm

Visiting composer Robin Escher of Sonoma, California has written a song cycle CRAZY COLD BEAUTIFUL about the Beargrease, which will be performed by the Borealis Chorale, directed by William Beckstrand on Friday, Feb. 5 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais. The Grand Portage Stonebridge Singers will perform at 7 p.m. prior to the performance.

Eschner, the 2014 McKnight Visiting Composer with the American Composers Forum, received a grant to complete this musical work about the history and culture of mushing in northern Minnesota.

Her research included studying letters written between 1880-1900 from the local historical society, meeting with mushers and sled-builders, librarians, writers, historians, musicians, and people who have lived along the North Shore area for generations.

Eschner said, “I followed the route traveled by John Beargrease, learning as much as I could and gathering materials for the song cycle." 

All are invited to this and another performance at 4 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth on Saturday, Feb. 6.


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

AEOA reminds residents of energy assistance programs

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 2:51pm

At the January meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA), Anita Jeziah of the Arrowhead Economic Development Authority (AEOA) gave a report on Cook County’s participation in the AEOA Energy Assistance program. At the time of the meeting, 161 applications had been approved for county residents for a benefit of $126,700. Eight families received financial assistance for “crisis events,” such as the need for propane while waiting for an AEOA application to be processed. Five families also received assistance for furnace repairs.

Jeziah said energy assistance funds are still available and she asked EDA board members to help spread the word. Anyone needing assistance can complete an application on line at or they can visit Jeziah at the AEOA office (next to the EDA office in Grand Marais City Hall). More information is available from Jeziah at (218) 387-4547.


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

Local mushers finish strong in mid-distance Beargrease race

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 3:18pm

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs was up the Gunflint Trail on Monday morning to observe the scene at Trailcenter where the Beargrease marathon had a checkpoint and the mid-distance race came to an end. Here’s a recap of what Joe witnessed. 


Beginning cross country ski lessons offered at Britton Peak Feb. 5 and Feb. 12

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 2:48pm

Greg Fangel and Liz Wagner of Tofte have offered to teach beginning cross country ski lessons this winter. The first class was January 29 and there will be classes on February 5 and 12th at 1 p.m. Participants will meet at the Britton Peak Trailhead (three miles up the Sawbill Trail from Highway 61) at 1:00 p.m.

The course will cover classical style (not skating). Fangel and Wagner, longtime cross country skiers who have traveled the world cross country skiing for fun and enjoyment, will cover basic technique, uphill and downhill technique, and skiing for fun. They were trained by Twin Cities area cross county ski coaches.

Cross country ski equipment rental is available at W.E. Connect/Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte for $5 per person. Pre-registration and ski rental is required prior to the start of the lessons. To register or for more information, contact Brenda Melin, program director at W.E. Connect by calling 218-663-7977 or email


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