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News and other information from Cook County

Bill Hansen announces candidacy for District 3A House seat

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 10:26am

Tofte businessman Bill Hansen has made it official by announcing he’ll run for the District 3A House seat vacated by the death of David Dill.

Hansen said, “I’m inspired by the success of progressive political leaders like Governor Mark Dayton and Duluth Mayor Don Ness. I’d strive to bring that style of leadership to the people of District 3A. I am a lifelong business owner and DFL activist. My civic work over the last 25 years has allowed me to be involved in economic and community development across northern Minnesota. My constituents will be the people of District 3A, not billionaires and multinational corporations.”

Hansen has been twice endorsed by the DFL for this seat, but lost to Dill twice in primary elections. He is the only candidate so far who has publicly stated that he’ll abide by the DFL endorsement process.

Hansen and his wife Cindy have run the Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, founded by his parents in 1958, for many years. Now his daughter and son-in-law are moving home to run the business, leaving time for Hansen to dedicate time exclusively to public service.

According to sources familiar with the situation, a special election will be called for December 8, with a primary on September 29. The announcement from the Governor is expected this week. The November 3 election day was not chosen to allow the candidates and parties more time.

As yet no Republican candidates have announced. Two other DFL’ers, Koochiching County Commissioner Rob Ecklund and Ely City Councilor Heidi Omerza have formally announced.


View more news from WTIP

Woodblock printmaking class offered at Grand Marais Art Colony, September 25-27

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 9:51am

Woodblock printmaking is an ancient art technique, and the Grand Marais Art Colony is offering a weekend class. WTIP volunteer Randy Eastlund spoke with woodblock printmaker Richard James Nelson.  


Woodblock Printmaking
Richard James Nelson
September 25–27
Day 1: 4 – 6pm
Days 2 & 3: 9am – 4pm

For more information contact:
Ruth Pszwaro
Program Coordinator
Grand Marais Art Colony

(Photo courtesy of Grand Marais Art Colony and Richard James Nelson)



Fall for now, summer for later

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 9:51am

Fall-like weather today and tomorrow, then summer slowly returns. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson.


Learn to properly install your child car seat at Birch Grove

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 2:25pm

Birch Grove Community School is hosting child and restraint systems CARS training at the school in Tofte on Monday August 24 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

This is the class that is required for childcare providers prior to transporting children. It is also a great class for parents and grandparents. Come and learn proper seat installation and seat belt use. 

All children under 8 years or under 4 feet 9 inches are required to ride in a child seat. They will be in them for a while, come learn how to use all the seats properly! 

The cost of the class is $20. To register (appreciated but not required) contact Sara Silence at: or 218-370-1446.


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

Cook County Invasives Team to host informational meeting on gypsy moths Sept. 24

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 2:23pm

Since coming to the North Shore this spring, Laurel Wilson has been busy with her duties and events as the Cook County Invasives Team (CCIT) coordinator. She hit the ground running with events in conjunction with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Play-Clean-Go programs and hasn’t stopped, leading wildflower hikes at least once a month and more.

Wilson, who is originally from St. Paul, came to Cook County after earning her degree in conservation biology at the University of Wisconsin and completing graduate school at South Illinois University in Carbondale.

While in college and after, Wilson enjoyed working in a variety of positions—in restoration and management with the Department of Transportation in Illinois and at the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

“My interest has always been in the natural area,” Wilson told the Cook County News-Herald, “and I’ve been looking for ways to get back to Minnesota.”

She had enjoyed many visits to the North Shore so she was delighted to come on board with the CCIT.

The CCIT was formed in 2011 and its members include representation from the Cook County Soil& Water Conservation District, the county highway department, the U.S. Forest Service, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Grand Portage National Monument, Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center and the 1854 Treaty Authority.

CCIT and Wilson’s position are funded through a federal grant through the U.S. Forest Service. Her time is divided 75 percent in Cook County and 25 percent in Lake County.

Wilson has been following up on projects initiated by her predecessors such as the removal of Siberian pea shrub at Sawtooth Elementary School and an area that had been treated for spotted knapweed.

Grand Portage renovation and expansion under way

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 2:17pm

There is some very exciting news from Grand Portage—the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has begun a complete renovation and expansion of the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino.

Brian Mayotte, Lodge& Casino Enterprise Administrator said, “It’s time. More than 20 years have passed since the original casino was built and we can’t tell you how excited we are to have a newly renovated facility. The improvements we make to the air quality, and the opportunity to offer bigger and better centrally located amenities will definitely impress.”

The three-phased renovation plan designed by DSGW Architects of Duluth, includes remodeled guest rooms, a revitalization of the restaurant and lounge, with a new casino, lobby, swimming pool, and event center.

Phase one, which is nearing completion, offers resort guests 90 newly renovated rooms and five suites. The new rooms are comfortable and fresh, featuring new furniture, carpet, draperies, light fixtures, and 42-inch flat screen televisions.

The second phase includes building the grand entrance and Grand Portage Lodge & Casino shared some of the concept photos with us. There will be a 3-story atrium lobby featuring views of Lake Superior; a remodeled restaurant and lounge, new pool and fitness area as well as an outdoor patio. The casino floor, adjacent to the lobby, will double in size.

And, Grand Portage Marketing Director Frank Vecchio stresses that the renovation was carefully planned to happen in phases so the Casino and Lodge can remain in operation throughout the duration of construction.

It’s fascinating to watch the work in progress and to see how the lodge is working to still accommodate guests. The entire project will be completed in spring of 2017.