Around Cook County
The local AARP tax aide volunteers have been training every Tuesday in January and February. They also attended a mandatory IRS “webinar” on Wednesday, January 23.
All of this training is necessary, explained Pam McDougall, one of the number crunchers at the webinar. “There are always a lot of changes—and we expect even more this year.”
At their Tuesday sessions, the volunteers review tax exercises, update tax prep computers and prepare for the 2012 tax law tests. It seems like a lot of hard work for volunteers, but another volunteer, Chuck Flickinger said, “We enjoy it. It is rewarding to help people through the process.”
The local AARP TaxAides will once again be helping members of the community with their federal and state income taxes, and property tax refunds—free of charge.
People are helped on a first-come first-serve basis. Once tax aides have gotten the information and tax documents, they can tell you when your tax return will be ready, so that you can leave and come back later if you wish.
A TaxAide will check your return for accuracy, after which you will receive a printed copy of your return, which will be e-filed to the government, with your refund arriving in one to four weeks depending upon your choice of direct deposit or mail.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced today the moose population in Northeastern Minnesota has dropped 35 percent from last year. The agency said it will not hold a season this fall or consider opening future seasons unless the population recovers.
District 3A Rep. David Dill said he fully supports the DNR action, and called the population drop “precipitous.” WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Dill moments after the season announcement was made.
Six members of the Cook County/Silver Bay Boys Alpine Ski Team qualified for the State Meet after the team took second in the Section 7 Meet Tuesday at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.
The State Meet will be held Wednesday, February 13 at Giants Ridge.
Hermantown took first in the Section 7meet and CC/SB finished right behind them.
Anders Zimmer took the top spot for CC/SB by finishing eighth overall in 1:17.04. He was the only North Shore skier in the top 10.
Also qualifying for CC/SB were Will Lamb in 20th with a time of 1:19.47, Luke Fenwick in 22nd at 1:19.51, Logan Backstrom in 30th at 1:21.59, Kyle Martinson in 47th at 1:26.71. Collin Berglund did not finish the course.
The CC/SB girls team finished out of the running for the State Meet. Duluth East and Mounds View finished first and second in the Section 7 girls competition.
It’s not too late to register for “Keep it Moving in February,” where teams and individuals are challenged to just keep moving. If you've participated in the past, continue to use your existing username and password.
We've gone around Lake Superior more than 13 times in the spring! That is more than 16,000 miles of moving our bodies as a community. Let's see how many times we can do the Circle Tour in February.
Move It website features include: Track your individual and team miles of winter activities (indoor or outdoor); compare your progress this winter to your friends and neighbors; track your minutes of activity and watch your thermometer rise as you move toward the recommended weekly activity goal; an online calendar of active (indoor and outdoor) events in Cook County; and a link to the Volks Ski page to log your kilometers skied on Cook County's ski trails www.Volksski.com
All registered participants are eligible for moving to better health and state of mind, bragging rights, and for several gift certificates for fabulous prizes. Register online at www.sawtoothmountainclinic.org by clicking on the "Move It" icon.
Move It is sponsored by the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic with planning and support from Cook County Public Health and Human Services, Cook County Visitors Bureau, Birch Grove Foundation, Grand Marais Safe Routes to School, Superior North Outdoor Center,
and the Cook County Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP).
“I’m delighted to be here in Cook County on Lake Superior in the Gunflint District of the Superior National Forest,” new U.S. Forest Service Gunflint District Ranger Nancy Larson said as she introduced herself to the county board on January 22. She wondered what issues the board might be interested in discussing with her.
Commissioner Sue Hakes suggested that Larson might want to become familiar with issues related to the South Fowl snowmobile trail and to meet the members of the Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (ACMU). “I feel like I’m on track a little bit,” Larson said, “because I know a little about both of those issues.”
Commissioner Bruce Martinson mentioned the potential trades of Forest Service land for state and county land in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Larson said she was glad to be here at this point in the process, “where the rubber meets the road.” She will be reviewing comments they have received on these potential trades with Forest Supervisor Brenda Halter.
Martinson said numerous people have told him the Forest Service’s new maps of the Travel Management Plan are very difficult to read. Larson said she has heard the same thing and has discussed this with her colleagues. The format of the map was prescribed by the Washington office, she said. “We have absolutely no delegated authority to change it.” If someone put a readable map together, she said, they would be happy to make it available.
The ATV Club is trying to address this but has no money to make a map, Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said.
The purpose of a map is to be useful, Commissioner Garry Gamble pointed out. If the Forest Service had invited focus groups to provide feedback on the format of the maps, they would have realized it was not useful to the public.
Lodging tax revenues for the final month of 2012 were up compared to December of last year county-wide. According to the latest report from the Cook County Auditor-Treasurer’s office, the year-to-date totals were up 4.9 percent across the board for reporting tourism organizations.
Lutsen-Tofte revenues were up 3.1 percent from last December. Grand Marais revenues were up 9.1 percent from this time last year. The Gunflint Trail revenues for December were up 7.3 percent.
The Auditor’s office emphasizes that not all businesses report taxes at the same time each year and revenues are an “apples-to-apples comparison.” That means only businesses which reported lodging tax revenues both in December of this year and last year are included in the monthly accounting.
Alicia Nopola and Brandi Nopola each scored more than 20 points to lead the Silver Bay Mariner girls to a 74-30 win over the Fond du Lac Ojibwe on Monday night.
In the boys’ game at Silver Bay, Fond du Lac Ojibwe took an 87-46 win from the Mariners.
On their way to the win, the Mariners jumped to a 35-15 lead and held off the Ogichida 39-18 in the second half.
Alicia Nopola led all scorers in the game with 29 while Brandi Nopola had 22. Tara Dow was the other Mariner in double-figures with 14. Other scorers for Silver Bay included Rosie Sauerborn with three with Kayla Maleski, Aubrey Thun and Erika Ernest hitting two each.
Janessa Martineau led the Ogichida with 13 points.
The win upped the Mariners to 2-13 for the season.
In the boys’ game, Davonte Williamson and Trevontae Brown scored 27 and 26 each to lead the Ogichida to their 87-46 victory. Fond du Lac held a 44-27 lead after the first half before outscoring Silver Bay 43-19 in the second for the win.
Kyle Blood led the Mariners with 23 while Mark Harris had 12. Other scorers fro Silver Bay included Eben Fischer with six while Spencer Tiboni and Michael Fischer each scored two.
The loss dropped the Mariner boys to 0-13 for the season.
The Mariner girls travel to Aurora to meet the Mesabi East Giants on Tuesday night. Both the boys and girls host the Wrenshall Wrens on Friday night, February 8.
For the fourth year, Cook County Girl Scouts are hosting a Father-Daughter Dance, giving young ladies and their fathers (or other special adult family members or friends), the chance to dress up and have a delightful evening together. The dance will be Thursday, Feb. 7 at North House Folk School from 6 – 8 p.m.
The evening will include live music by Critter Du Jour. A keepsake photo by local photographer Bruce Johnson, snacks and beverages are included in the cost of the dance, which is $20 per couple. The price is the same for one daughter or more!
On January 29, the county board interviewed two people interested in serving on the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) board, Andrew Warren and Abby Tofte.
Warren has been managing East Bay Suites and recently was named general manager of Caribou Highlands (both of which belong to Odyssey Resorts). He has significant experience in nonprofit fundraising and construction. Tofte is young and identified herself as one of many tourist industry employees who want to be able to stay in Cook County but struggle to find affordable housing.
Both talked about the value of the tourist industry to Cook County’s economy, and both strongly supported the installation of broadband infrastructure throughout the county because it will expand career options and make the county more attractive to visitors and potential residents.
Commissioner Sue Hakes said people in the lodging industry were already on the board and recommended Tofte because of the “diversity” she would bring. Because of her difficulty finding affordable housing, Hakes said, Tofte has been “living the problem.”
Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk and Jan Hall agreed that the EDA was heavy on business and resort owners at this point. Hall said she believed having a non-managerial employee on the EDA was important.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson pointed out that Warren had a lot of experience and thought he might better represent the interests of the West End because he works for Caribou Highlands. Garry Gamble said he thought Warren would bring skills that would serve the current needs of the EDA.
It was a really hard decision, but the board unanimously passed a motion naming Tofte to the EDA but also encouraging Warren to apply for the next opening on the board.
At the last county board meeting on January 29, commissioners were informed that bids for the next phase of construction of the Cook County Family YMCA have come in higher than budget. Wade Cole and Mark Kragenbring of ORB Management and Dan Miller of JLG Architects talked to the county board about how $1,959,426 worth of amenities could be cut out of the project.
Wade Cole said he felt good about the level of competition in the more than 20 bids, which included bids for masonry, carpentry, roofing, flooring, painting, aquatics, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and fire protection, among other things. At Cole’s request, the board authorized re-bidding the precast concrete portion of the work to reflect a design change that would lower the cost of the exterior panels without lowering the quality.
Cole said a lot of the overage was related to the outdoor amenities, such as the softball field. Commissioner Bruce Martinson said that the cost of the softball field was originally expected to be $250,000 but is now projected at $900,000.
The Community Center Steering Committee had met on January 25 to talk about potential cuts. They discussed options for reducing costs such as not building a soccer field or reconstructing the older tennis courts as planned. The committee looked at reducing the vestibule area in the community center, reducing window and door sizes and not installing bleachers in the gym. They believe other savings would be realized from costs not being as high as the amount budgeted, such as for furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
Lonnie Dupre is back in Talkeetna Alaska after a third attempt to summit Denali WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Lonnie Monday 4:30am Alaska time.
The Ely Timberwolves took both the boys and girls team titles in the Cook County Invitational Saturday at Pincushion Trails system in Grand Marais.
Ely’s boys beat the rest of the pack with 379 points. They edged Duluth East who finished second with 374.
Mesabi East junior Sam Johnson won the 10.9-kilometer boys pursuit raise in a split second over 34 minutes.
In the girls race, the Ely girls took the top spot with 383 again just edging top-ranked Duluth East’s 381.
Ely senior Amy Bianco won thte girls 10.9-ilombeter pursuit in 37 minutes and 44 seconds. Bianco’s eighth-grade sister Erin was second at 40 minutes and four seconds.
No information was available Monday morning on how Cook County and other teams finished.
The Cook County/Silver Bay boys Alpine Ski Team won the Duluth Denfeld invitational at Mont Du Lac on Friday. The Viking girls finished second.
CC/SB won the boys meet with 105 points while Virginia Area finished second at 99. Hibbing was third with 75.
Anders Zimmer and Luke Fenwick finished fourth and fifth for CC/SB. Zimmer finished with a time of 1:03:22 while Fenwick came in at 1:04:74.
In the girls event, Duluth East won with 134 points followed by Cook County/Silver Bay with 29 and Virginia Area in third at 88.5
Morgan Weyrens finished third for CC/SB in the meet with a time of 1:10:82.
In boys hockey, the North Shore Storm traveled to Kittson Central in Hallock and took home a 4-0 loss.
Zach Duresky was in goal for the Storm and had 37 saves. The loss dropped the Storm to 10-9-1 for the year. The Storm includs players from Cook and Lake counties.
The Silver Bay Area girls hockey team finished the regular season at 7-17-1 with a win and a loss in the final two games on the schedule.
Kieran Scannell of Grand Marais, a senior at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, has been named one of more than 3,000 candidates in the 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.
Kieran is the son of Lynn Swanson and Tim Scannell of Grand Marais. Scannell was also a Cook County Viking athlete before transferring to Phillips Exeter. This year, he was a co-captain of the cross country team and was selected as the "most valuable player" on the Phillips Exeter team.
The candidates for the Presidential Scholars Program have been selected from nearly 3.4 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in the year 2013. Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, now in its 49th year, is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.
Over 3,000 candidates were selected for their exceptional performance on either the College Board SAT
or the ACT Assessment. In addition, each Chief State School Officer was invited to nominate
three male and three female candidates, based on their outstanding scholarship, residing in the CSSO’s
jurisdiction. Further consideration is based on students’ essays, self-assessments, descriptions of
activities, school recommendations, and school transcripts. A distinguished panel of educators will
review these submissions and select 500 semifinalists in early April.
Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. Lonnie Dupre is forced to abandon his assault on Denali, The DNR begins GPS collaring moose while one county resident mounts a petition to stop the fall hunt. The deer harvest was down and some post office windows will soon start shorter hours…all in this week’s news.
Cook County Arctic adventurer Lonnie Dupre has been airlifted off Denali and is back in Talkeetna, Alaska.
He was picked up near his base camp on Friday by his One World Expeditions support team. He made his third solo attempt to reach the 20,320-foot summit of North America's highest peak. He was stopped by dangerous weather and snow conditions that combined to force him back down from 17,200 feet. He returned to his base camp and awaited his flight back to Talkeetna.
OWE released a short statement Friday night: "Lonnie returns home after spending one month on Denali. We, the support team, are very excited to have Lonnie back and look forward to begin our work on our upcoming documentary Cold Love.
In the next few days we’ll be going over and cataloging footage from the mountain, stay tuned!"
In an interview on the OWE website, Dupre noted he's "getting older and it's a little harder to stay alive when you';re 50 to 51."
He also said, "The mountain's always there , I'm alive and things are good. You never know, maybe four or five years down the road, I'll give it another try when I'm a little wiser....It's always going to be there."
The interview in which Dupre outlines the issues that he had to deal with, along with the daily reports and photos from the expedition are available at www.oneworldendeavors.com.