Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Jury selected in Scannell trial

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 9:33am

Ten men and four women were selected Monday in Duluth to decide Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell’s sexual misconduct case.
The panel, which includes two alternates, was chosen from a group of more than 40 potential jurors following an entire day of questioning.

According to WTIPs Martha Marnocha, at the St. Louis County courthouse, attorneys will first place some rulings on the record before making opening statements to the jury beginning at 8:30 this morning.

The prosecution is scheduled to call its first witnesses after opening statements. The case is expected to conclude by the end of the week.

The Duluth News Tribune reports Scannell, 48, is charged with two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct over a physical relationship he had with a 17-year-old girl in August 2012. He is accused of kissing and touching the girl sexually — allegations he has essentially conceded — but the case hinges whether he was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time.

Seven of Scannell’s family members, including his wife and two sons, were in the courtroom gallery Monday, seated immediately behind the defense table.


The Grand Marais Public Library subscribes to Minnesota Grantmakers Online

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 1:10pm

The Grand Marais Public Library recently became a subscriber to Minnesota Grantmakers Online, a program that gives library patrons access to information on grantmakers in Minnesota. In order to learn more, WTIP spoke with Kaitlin Ostlie, the operations and finace manager assistant with the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

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Weather could get nasty before it gets better

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:00pm

Unseasonably hot with a potential for thunderstorms and high winds along the shore. WTIPs Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Geoff Grochocinski.

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Registration open for 38th annual Fisherman's Picnic Tennis Tournament

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:00pm

Tennis anyone?  Lee Bergstrom, president of the Cook County Tennis Association, invites everyone to join in this year's tournament.  WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Lee and David Bergstrom.

2014 Fisherman’s Picnic Tennis Tournament
July 31-August 3rd.
Seniors: Thursday through Friday
Juniors and Adults – Friday through Sunday.
Registration deadline is July 26 for Seniors/Adults and July 27 for Juniors
For online registration, draw information and schedule go to and search for
Adult Tournament # 550014914 / Junior Tournament # 555106914.
For tournament information contact: Bill Thomas at

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Judge denies expert witness in Scannell trial

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 6:53pm

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge Shaun Floerke handed down his opinion blocking the request by Cook County’s special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger to allow Dr. Amanda Powers-Sawyer, a White Bear Lake psychologist to testify that Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell had engaged in the practice of “grooming” before having sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl.

Scannell admits to having sexual contact with the girl in August of 2012, and charges were brought against him after he violated a restraining order filed by the girl’s parents to have no contact with her.

Scannell, who is being represented by Attorney Joseph Tamburino, will appear in court in Duluth on Monday, July 21 where he will face two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Heffelfinger tried to add Dr. Powers-Sawyer to the state’s witness list three weeks before the trial date, and he made his case to the judge at the pre-trial hearing held on July 3. In his arguments Heffelfinger said Powers-Sawyer would be able to testify that in a four month period prior to the alleged crime that Scannell used his position of authority to build “trust and attraction” and “reliance” with the victim. These are “grooming” practices used by sex offenders to build trust with children before sexually abusing them, he said.

Tamburino argued that a grooming expert would prejudice the jury to his client, and he told the judge that the case boiled down to whether or not Scannell held a “position of authority” over the girl or whether the physical contact was consensual, as Scannell has alleged.

A "Little Free Library" in Grand Marais

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 5:13pm

Although “Little Free Libraries” are taking the state, the nation, perhaps even the world, by storm, the phenomenon is relatively new to Cook County. There are at least two Little Free Libraries in the planning stage or under construction in Grand Marais. However, Lynn Arnold’s Little Free Library at her home at 103 Third Avenue West in Grand Marais is already open for readers.

Arnold was delighted to help spread the idea of Little Free Libraries. She noted that Little Free Libraries are cropping up everywhere. They are spots where people are invited to take a book, return a book—without a library card, limit to how long the book can be kept, or even a requirement to return it at all.

It is hoped that as people take a book from one Little Free Library, they will leave it at another, at any of the hundreds of Little Free Libraries across the state.

Little Free Libraries range from simple boxes containing books to elaborate little structures, like the original Little Free Library, built as a model of an old one-room schoolhouse in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009. There are now an estimated 15,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide.

Arnold’s Little Free Library is a whimsical little structure—a colorful purple, orange and green box atop of sturdy cedar-sided post. It has Plexiglas sides to protect the books inside from the weather and to make the books visible to passersby. Her Little Free Library contractor, Matt Geretschlaeger of Grand Marais, added a unique woodwork adornment and a solar light panel for her. “Matt did an incredible job,” said Arnold. “He’s very talented.”