Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Student-created art coming soon to the west wall of Johnson's Grocery

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 9:25am

Mosaic artists Karen Neal and Jeanne Wright have been working with Sawtooth Elementary fourth-graders and the Cook County High School fourth period art class since mid-February on a mosaic mural for the west side of the Johnson's Grocery building. 

In order to learn the process, each student created a 6-inch by 6-inch mosaic piece. With ideas from the elementary students, a few members of the high school class designed a mural scene that includes the Grand Marais harbor, a waterfall, an inland lake with a swamp, and woodlands. There are numerous animals in the mural as well.

The design was projected on brown paper and colored by the high school art students, then cut into 4-foot by 4-foot squares. The mural will be 36 feet long and 6-9 feet high.

Each panel was covered with cellophane wrap and a mesh designed for mosaic tiles. 

Twelve teams of students (mixed 4th graders and high-schoolers) are working collaboratively, each on a designated square of the mural. Students are placing the tiles and gluing them to the mesh once the instructors have approved their design. 

After school is out, teams of volunteers will cover sheets of Durock with thinset, then transfer the mesh and tiles to the Durock. Once finished, each panel is expected to weigh about 150 pounds.

The Johnsons are insulating the west wall of their store and covering the surface with a smooth layer of stucco. Once the stucco has cured, the pieces will be taken there, attached to the wall, and grouted.

The project is expected to be on the wall by mid-summer.

This project was made possible by donations from local artists and residents, the Northland Foundation, the ISD 166 Education Foundation, Thrivent, the Lionesses, the Lions, and the Cook County Visitors Bureau. The new Art 'Round Town organization has raised funds and coordinated the many facets of this project.

Senator Franken Supports Water Resources

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 11:33am

Water resources legislation and net neutrality are two topics of interest on Capitol Hill. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Al Franken.

City approves permit for remote control sailboats in Grand Marais harbor

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 11:27am

Visitors to the City of Grand Marais will see remote control sailboats in the Grand Marais harbor this summer.

City councilors approved a permit that will allow the operation of six-foot-tall vessels as part of a rental business operated by Ami Alcala and her son Harley.

The boats will be rented from a section of city-owned beach at the end of First Avenue between Harbor Park and the Lake Superior Trading Post—the same area previously used by vendors for kayak rentals and airplane rides.

Because the enterprise will be conducted on city property, council must grant permission for use of the space.

Both Ami and Harley stressed to council that the small wind-powered boats are noiseless and pose no danger to pedestrians on the beach or other users of the harbor.

Alcala said she hopes to begin renting the boats in early May and continue through fall, weather permitting, seven days a week.

They explained that the business will be “completely portable,” with everything taken down and removed every day; there will be nothing left on the beach overnight. Ami said she envisions between six and 12 boats in use at any time, depending on demand.

Councilors endorsed the enterprise unanimously.

Committee to update county's Comprehensive Land Use Guide Plan begins its work

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 11:24am

Cook County has begun the process to update its Comprehensive Land Use Guide Plan, which was revised in 1997, by conducting the first meeting of the plan update committee on Tuesday April 22, 2014. Chair of that committee, Shari Baker, also chair of the Cook County Planning Commission, gave the Cook County News-Herald an explanation of the process underway.

“As the committee chair, I can sum up our overall mission as ‘Nearly twenty years ago our county set a course for the future – which at that time was looking forward to 2015, and that future is nearly upon us. Now it is time for this generation of residents to define how we want our county to look two decades into the future.’”

Established by the County Board of Commissioners, the committee is charged to review and update the plan, commonly known as the county’s comprehensive plan, which provides guidance to the county on a wide range of matters including capital improvements, zoning and development, and protection of natural resources.

“Our goal this time around is to focus on attracting people, especially young people including former residents who’ve moved away, to come to Cook County and help grow our community to become more vibrant,” said Baker.

Components of the plan will address:

* Sense of Place: Definition of the core values and attributes of Cook County that need to be preserved and enhanced.

* Desired Future Condition: Description of what the county should be like 20 years from now.

* Guiding Principles: Goals and policies to guide county decisions to attain the desired future and maintain the preferred sense of place.

* Implementation Actions: Specific strategies, projects and actions to be taken to achieve plan goals.

Commissioners hear concerns about the northern long-eared bat

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 7:17am

Cook County Assessor/Land Commissioner Betty Schultz presented commissioners with information she had received about the plight of the northern long-eared bat at the commissioners’ May 13 meeting.

Schultz told the commissioners that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is considering listing the northern long-eared bat as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Schulz said, “This is something that should be on our radar.”

 According to the FWS, the bats are suffering from white-nose syndrome a disease first observed in New York in 2006, but has since spread to the Midwest and Southwest. Since the discovery of the disease, 99 percent of the bats have disappeared in the Northeast. Some really bad news is that the disease was recently found in bats wintering in the Tower-Soudan underground mine on the Iron Range.

However, if this ruling is enacted to protect the bats, it could have a disastrous effect on loggers, sawmill owners, and construction companies during the summer months when bats are in their summer habitat and spend time roosting underneath cavities or in bark of both live and dead trees, caves and mines, and in structures like barns or sheds.

Loggers could be most affected because one of the provisions in the ruling is to prohibit cutting of bat habitat during the bat’s maternity season, April 1 to September 30. No trees larger than 3 inches in diameter could be cut during the summer under the rules proposed by the FWS.

Minnesota’s DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr has joined with natural resources officials from Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana in asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delay its plan to protect the bat because the proposed restrictions go too far and will greatly harm the forest industry.

The FWS will make its final decision on the northern long-eared bat at the end of October.

North Shore Hospital hosting a community blood drive May 21

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 7:15am

In cooperation with area businesses and local organizations, Memorial Blood Centers invites all eligible members of the community to join in giving the gift of life by participating in community blood drives.

Locally, the Cook County North Shore Hospital in Grand Marais will host a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 21.

Every two seconds, someone needs blood—from heart transplant and cancer patients to accident victims in crises. Memorial Blood Centers faces a demand of over 2,700 units a week to meet the needs of more than 30 health care partners in the area. And making a blood donation is one way to give a potentially life-saving gift to friends, family and community.

Donating blood—the ultimate renewable resource—is safe and convenient when you are in good health, 17 years or older, free of antibiotics for 24 hours (unless taken daily for skin condition), and symptom-free for at least three days following a cold or flu.

While walk-in donors are always welcome, appointments can be made in advance. To register for the blood drive, go online to or contact the hospital directly at (218) 387-3040.