Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Scannell attorney wants indictment dismissed

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 7:33am

The lawyer for Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a grand jury indictment charging the county’s top prosecutor with two counts of criminal sexual conduct regarding his involvement with a teenage girl.

The Duluth News Tribune reports Joe Tamburino argued that the special prosecutor in the case erred in grand jury proceedings and said that evidence does not support that Scannell’s physical relationship with a 17-year-old girl was illegal.

But special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger disputed those contentions, arguing that proper procedures were followed and that jurors correctly found probable cause to incident Scannell on the two felony counts.

Attorneys made it clear at the hearing that the case boils down to whether Scannell, now 48, was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of sexual contact.

Tamburino characterized Scannell as a family friend and a former sports coach of the girl. But he said any position of authority he had over the girl ended months before the two times in August 2012 when they allegedly engaged in sexual contact.

Heffelfinger rebutted Tamburino’s assertions that Scannell was no longer an authority figure in the girl’s life. He said Scannell had known her since she was in third grade. He was her soccer and tennis coach, taught her guitar lessons, helped her with her homework and gave her advice on college planning, all in addition to his role as county attorney.

Judge Shaun Floerke took the defense’s motion for dismissal under advisement. He said he will issue a ruling by April 11.

Presque Isle on Spring Break?

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 11:59am

Tug and icebreaker activity has been visible off shore in the Grand Marais area.  WTIP’s Debbie Benedict spoke with Jim Sharrow of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority who talks about why there's been increased activity the last few days. 

(Photo by Robert Grubbs)

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Scholarship opportunities available through Cook County HIgher Education

Thu, 03/27/2014 - 10:39am

Cook County Higher Education is once again offering three scholarship opportunities for local residents who are pursuing training or college coursework. Deadline for applications is April 15.

The Wes Hedstrom Scholarship was created in honor of longtime resident and former Cook County commissioner Wes Hedstrom, and is for Cook County residents who are enrolled or in the process of enrolling in a distance degree program.  This scholarship is a resource that can be used for full or partial tuition assistance, and can be applied towards summer and fall 2014 coursework.  Awards are up to $300.  Scholarship application deadline is April 15.

The Michel Beaupre Scholarship was created in honor of longtime resident and former electrical inspector Michel Beaupre.  This scholarship is for Cook County residents who are pursuing a training course, certificate or higher degree in a skilled trade area such as electrician, welding, automotive, etc.  Awards are up to $300 and can be used towards fall tuition.  The scholarship application deadline has been extended to April 15.

The Lloyd K. Johnson Scholarship was created in 2013 thanks to a grant from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation.  This scholarship is a resource that could be used for full or partial tuition assistance, and can be applied towards fall 2014 coursework.  All full-time year-round Cook County resident students enrolled in an accredited distance certificate, diploma or degree program are eligible to apply.  Awards are up to $2,000 per year.  Scholarship application deadline is April 15.

Awards for the scholarships are determined by the Cook County Higher Education Scholarship Committee and awarded until funds are exhausted.  The application process varies for each scholarship, and students are encouraged to apply early. Applications are available at Cook County Higher Education.

Coast Guard ice breakers to assist cargo vessel Presque Isle

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 2:29pm

As the Great Lakes shipping season begins, there is a bit of excitement as huge vessels can once again be seen off the Lake Superior shoreline. The Presque Isle, a cargo vessel, has been anchored near Grand Marais, not moving, for some time now, raising concerns for those on shore. However, according to Rick Burch of the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic System in Sault Ste. Marie, the Presque Isle is not in distress. Reached by phone at 3 p.m. on March 26, Burch said the ship is simply waiting for ice cutters and several other ships so they can make the lake crossing together.

According to, three Coast Guard tugs, the Mackinaw, Morro Bay and Katmai Bay are approaching Grand Marais from the west. Burch said the three ships are ice cutters that will meet the Presque Isle near Grand Marais and lead it, as well as the Cason J. Callaway and the John Monson, to St. Mary’s River and Sault Ste. Marie.

Burch said the Presque Isle is not stuck in the ice, but the ice cutters are escorting it and the other ships because of the heavy ice conditions on the lake.

Special reception at Johnson Heritage Post March 28 for "Mapping Mystery"

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 10:30am

At the opening reception for the exhibit “Mapping Mystery,” March 28 at 5 p.m. at Johnson Heritage Post, Ruth Ann Pszwaro, the new program director at the Grand Marais Art Colony will give a presentation entitled “Frontiers and Borderlands: Navigating the Creative Process.”

Wine, soft drinks, appetizers will be served.  The reception is free and open to the public. 

Cook County Middle School students advance to regional HIstory Day

Wed, 03/26/2014 - 10:26am

Several Cook County Middle School students will be traveling to the University of Minnesota, Duluth to give presentations at the Regional History competition on March 29.

Middle School students have been hard at work in recent weeks, learning about a variety of historical topics as they completed their History Day projects. Unbeknownst to the students, while they were delving into a favorite historical area, they were also fulfilling the Minnesota State Standard for research in eighth grade. The results of their efforts were on display at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts on February 21.

Previous History Day participants, Sara Carman, Maddy Roy, Frankie Miller and Owen Anderson helped judge the displays and asked questions of the students.  Several projects were selected to advance to Regional History Day.

Abbey Prom, Maya McHugh and Hanna Borson will present their project on the Vietnam draft. 

Also advancing is Daphne Lacina, who chose to research the Navajo Code Talkers and their right to be recognized for their important contribution to World War II. 

Seventh-grader Leif Anderson will share his research on the rights of the French and the efforts of Joan of Arc. 

Two student groups who produced documentaries will also be attending the regional competition. Bryn Soland, Claire Sherburne and Greg Howe created a documentary on the Birmingham Children’s March. 

Wellesley Howard-Larsen and Linnea Gesch will present their documentary on the rights of the Hawaiian people when they were annexed by the United States. 

Students selected will present their projects again on March 29 at Regional History Day at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.