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News and other information from Cook County

Second court appearance for Grand Portage man

Wed, 09/19/2012 - 11:32am

A public defender was appointed and two criminal cases were continued on Wednesday, Sept. 19 for a 36-year-old Grand Portage man.

Two counts of felony criminal sexual predatory conduct, two counts of felony criminal sexual conduct, two counts of felony false imprisonment and two counts of gross misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct have been filed aginst Joel Ray Allard. He is also charged with one count of furnishing alcohol to a person under 21. One case involves an 11-year-old girl and the other involves a nine-year-old girl.

He made his first appearance in Cook County District Court before Judge Michael Cuzzo on Monday, Sept. 17. The judge set bail at $100,000, or $50,000 per case, which he continued during Wednesday’s hearing.

During the latest hearing, public defender John Lind was appointed to represent Allard. Lind indicated he and Allard had not been able to meet prior to court so the Rule 8 was not held on Wednesday. Lind told the court he needs to receive the discovery evidence from the county attorney’s office to prepare for the Rule 8. A Rule 8 hearing is a second appearance in felony and gross misdemeanor cases.

Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken told the court that her office has yet to transcribe the dozen interviews that have been done so far. She said there are “mass quantities of computer equipment” that are undergoing analysis by two agencies. She said that analysis could take two to three months.

In setting the Oct. 9 date for the Rule 8 hearing, Judge Cuzzo asked Hicken to provide a report then on a time-line for when the discovery evidence would be available.

Allard will be held in the Aitkin County Jail awaiting the Oct. 9 hearing.

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Lawsuit filed against Minnesota's wolf season

Wed, 09/19/2012 - 9:32am

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Two groups have filed a lawsuit to try to block the opening of Minnesota's wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves say the Department of Natural Resources failed to provide a proper opportunity for public comment on recently approved rules establishing the wolf hunting and trapping seasons.
Wolves came off the endangered list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan last January, and the Minnesota Legislature authorized the resumption of wolf hunting and trapping last session.
The two groups contend the online survey the DNR conducted did not provide an adequate chance for public comment. They're asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals for a preliminary injunction to block the hunt until the court can rule.

(Click here to hear a WTIP North Shore Community Radio interview, recorded Tuesday, September 18,  with a representative of The Center for Biological Diversity.)



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Grand Marais Playhouse presents Monroe Crossing Sept. 22

Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:47am

Grand Marais Playhouse will hold a special event at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts, welcoming Monroe Crossing, with Bump and Barbara Jean as opening act, to the stage.
Advance tickets are available online at Advance tickets are $17 for adults, $7 for students. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults, $10 students.
Monroe Crossing dazzles audiences with an electrifying blend of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and heartfelt originals. Their airtight harmonies, razor-sharp arrangements, and onstage rapport make them audience favorites across the United States and Canada.

Tax classification for eight lodging properties changing

Tue, 09/18/2012 - 11:45am

A number of Cook County lodging establishments are going to be paying a lot more in property taxes next year than they have been paying in recent years. 
Eight properties will now be classified as commercial rather than seasonal resorts after a review by County Assessor/Land Commissioner Mary Black and Larry Austin, Cook County’s Minnesota Department of Revenue property tax compliance officer.
There is a somewhat complicated MN statute explaining what it takes to be classified as a seasonal resort.  It boils down to an either/or statement that Cook County was interpreting one way and the state another.
Assessor Black said that she had interpreted the law to be saying that a lodging establishment could be designated a seasonal resort if it received 20 percent of its income from charges related to providing recreational activities OR have 60 percent of their bookings be for at least two consecutive nights.  However, the state is requiring all seasonal resorts to prove that 20 percent of their income came from charges related to providing recreational activities, something a lot of them will have difficulty doing, Black said.
As an example of the effects of the potential increase—with the seasonal resort designation in 2011, Best Western Superior Inn and Suites in Grand Marais paid $38,818. Without the seasonal resort designation in 2012, Best Western would have to pay $96,526.
Assessor Black resigned from her position to pursue her health and fitness business and her last day was September 14.  She said the seasonal resort issue would be something the new assessor would be dealing with significantly, and she expected the Department of Revenue to work very closely with the new assessor on it.

Forest Service reopens some BWCAW routes, others remain closed

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 8:02pm

Due to successful suppression of the Parley Lake and Hoist Bay wildfires by fire crews over the weekend, the US Forest Service announced Monday evening that it has re-opened the areas adjacent to these two fires inside the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness which had been closed for public safety.

The route along the US/Canada border and area surrounding Ottertrack, Knife, and adjacent lakes will remain closed while the Emerald Lake/Fort Frances #59 continues to actively burn on the Canadian side of the border. The details and a map are on the Superior National Forest Website.

Rain predicted for the area did not materialize. Conditions continue dry across the Forest and fire danger remains very high. Campfires continue to be restricted to the hours between 7 pm and midnight across the entire BWCAW. Everyone is asked to be extremely careful with all fire outdoors due to the dry conditions.

The Fort Frances #59/Emerald Lake Fire, between Knife Lake and Emerald Lake, is estimated at 525 acres, and continues to actively burn on the Canadian side of the border. Forest Service crews are monitoring this fire and are prepared to actively support Canadian fire crews as needed.

The Parley Lake was discovered on September 12 and had burned a total of 35 acres along the Beartrap River before 100% containment early evening on 9/16/12. Fire crews will continue to reinforce fire line and patrol the fire.

The Hoist Bay Fire burned 2 1/2 acres between Hoist and Back Bay of Basswood Lake before being declared out yesterday afternoon. Details regarding closures, restrictions and conditions on the Superior National Forest, are available at:

Information regarding fire conditions and restrictions across Minnesota, can be found the Minnesota Interagency Fire Information website at:  

International Day of Peace to be celebrated locally Sept. 21

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 12:56pm

The International Day of Peace is September 21. A unique observance will be held in Grand Marais on this special day. Community members are invited to gather at Drury Lane books at 2 p.m. on September 21 for Scarves of Peace—an event that will include fibres, food, music, fun—and peace.
At the event, scarves will be created by braiding fibres brought by participants. Why scarves? Organizer Karen Lohn, author of Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World, explains, “Perhaps nothing demonstrates respectful relationships better than a scarf that is created by the hands of one, then draped and worn for warmth and adornment by another.”
Participants in this International Day of Peace can take part by sending fibres in 5-yard lengths (yarn, ribbons, strips of fabric—anything appropriate for braiding) that have been “blessed with your wishes for peace.” The fibres can be mailed to Karen Lohn, PO Box 1181, Grand Marais, MN 55604.
Donors of the fibres—and other community members—are then invited to come to the Scarves of Peace event to braid the fibres—together. Lohn reassures anyone thinking of attending that all are welcome. “Anyone can do this,” Lohn said. “No talent, experience, or expertise in anything is required.”
Finished scarves will be sent to world leaders with the message to “remember the human longing for respectful relationships at all levels.” Scarves will also be sent to places of turmoil and conflict, natural disaster or poverty to bring comfort and to stand in solidarity with the people there.