Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Fire damages Solbakken Resort cabin a second time

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 11:11am
Firefighters at the scene

When a page went out to the Lutsen Fire Department at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24, firefighters undoubtedly thought the address—cabin 4 at Solbakken Resort—sounded familiar. For good reason—the fire department was called to a fire at the same cabin two years ago, oddly on the exact same date.
Solbakken Resort is owned by Michael and Maureen O’Phelan. Reached by phone, Michael O’Phelan said they were baffled by the cause of the fire. No guests had been in the cabin since January 8, but staff members check on all six of the Solbakken cabins daily. The fire was spotted by housekeeping staff conducting deep cleaning in an adjacent cabin.
“Maureen got the call at Cascade and we flew over there, hoping it was something small, but by the time we got there, it was engulfed in fire,” said O’Phelan.
Members of the Lutsen Fire Department were on the scene of this fire by about  2:15 p.m. Lutsen Fire Chief Paul Goettl noted that the first two firefighters on the scene were two of the newest fire department members. He said they did an excellent job assessing and responding to the fire. “We’ve been training and you can see that our training is paying off. They did a good job.”
The Tofte and Schroeder Fire Departments also responded, as well as the Cook County Ambulance. Goettl said the ambulance crewmembers, who are also Grand Marais firefighters, were helpful with directions and incident command. There were no injuries, although a few wet firefighters had to take a break to sit in a warm truck to thaw out their turnout gear.
The fire department was able to quickly extinguish the fire, which had lit a nearby tree on fire.  They then had to ventilate the structure, cutting holes in the roof and gables to pull out smoldering insulation, to ensure the blaze was out.

Viking boys take basketball win, Viking and Mariner girls lose

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 8:35am

The Cook County boys basketball team had an easy victory Thursday night beating Northeast Range 65-38 in Grand Marais,

The victory pushed the Vikings to 8-4 for the season. They outscored the Nighthawks 37-19 in the first and 27-19 in the second for the win.

Colin Everson and Lars Scannell provided the scoring punch for the Vikings with 31 and 16 points apiece. Scannell nailed three, three-pointers in his total while Everson had two.

Other scorers for the Vikings included Kale Boomer with six points, including two threes; Peter Warren with three with Noah Warren, Richie Furlong and Andy Farley scoring two apiece.

Nolan Blomberg led the Nighthawks with 11.

The Nighthawks won the girls’ game by the score of 62-28. No details were available.

The Viking boys and girls are on the road Friday night with games at Carlton against the Bulldogs.  WTIP will broadcast both games with Norman Moe and Dick Dorr giving the play-by-play starting at 4:45 PM.

The  Silver Bay Mariner girls’ team traveled to Duluth Marshall Thursday night and lost 45-33.

The Hilltoppers outscored the Mariners 30-19 in the first half. Silver Bay came back strong in the second with Duluth holding only a 15-14 margin.

Alice Nopola led the Mariners with 15 points while Brandi Nopola scored 10.

The loss dropped the Mariners to 1-11 for the season.

On Monday night, January 28, the Mariners travel to Grand Marais for girls’ and boys’ basketball action. Both varsity games will be broadcast on WTIP with the Moe-Dorr team providing the action for listeners. The action gets going at 4:45 PM.

Lonnie moves to over 15,000 feet on Denali

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 6:38am

Despite whiteout conditions Lonnie was able to reach 15,200 feet from 14,200 yesterday. There he left a backpack with everything he will need for his 17,200 foot camp and beyond. Because of the whiteout he marked his path with wands on ascent, because he had to return to 14,200 foot camp before making the final push to 17,200.

The forecast for today is still 50/50 for traveling. The temperature with windchill is projected to be -45F.

As the month winds down, Lonnie Dupre is in position to make the assault on the summit of Alaska's Mount McKinley.

The Grand Marais adventurer is making his third attempt to become the first person to climb the 20,320-foot peak -- North America's highest mountain -- solo in January.

The 17,200 foot camp is the last before he attempts the summit.

Community center bids come in over budget

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 3:08pm

At the Tuesday, January 22 county board meeting, Commissioner Sue Hakes reported that bids were in for the next phase of construction on the Cook County Family YMCA.  She said the bids came in over budget and the Community Center Steering Committee would be meeting to discuss revising the plans to stay within budget.
The steering committee meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 25 starting at 8:00 a.m. and scheduled until 2:00 p.m. at the Cook County Community Center. 

The meeting agenda calls for looking at the construction costs of all phases and considering changes and reductions in construction to meet the budget for the project.

“I’m not going to beat around the bush,” Hakes said.  “I think we’re going to have to make some tough decisions on Friday.”

DNR seeks comments on area lake and stream management plans

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 2:25pm

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fisheries division is continually monitoring and strategizing how best to manage the lakes and streams under its care. Part of the effort includes gathering public comment on the lakes and streams being evaluated. Citizens interested in learning about or commenting on DNR strategies for managing Grand Marais area lakes and streams have until Feb. 15, 2013, to ask questions or submit comments.
“Management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the waters,” said Steve Persons, Grand Marais area fisheries supervisor. “The plans identify specific management activities planned for that lake or stream in the next five to 20 years.”
Every year, DNR fisheries staff prepares or revises individual lake and stream management plans for several waters in each management area. In the Grand Marais area, plans for the following lakes and streams will be reviewed:
LAKES
* Bogus - managed for splake, reviewing stocking success and need for stocking adjustments.
* Little Cascade - managed for northern pike (special regulation), reviewing assessment needs to evaluate regulation.
* Daniels - managed for lake trout and smallmouth bass, reviewing status of lake trout population and assessment and stocking needs.
* Dawkins - managed for northern pike, no new management activity proposed.
* Holly - managed for northern pike and walleye, reviewing need for continued walleye stocking.
* Jack - managed for northern pike, no new management activity proposed.
* Loon - managed for lake trout, northern pike, and smallmouth bass, reviewing status of populations and assessment needs.
* Lost - privately managed, updating plan to reflect loss of public access.
* Mit - managed for walleye, reviewing need for continued stocking.

Feds now involved in county sexual abuse case; Omnibus Hearing continued to March 5

Thu, 01/24/2013 - 5:20am

The Omnibus Hearing for a 36-year-old man facing a number of charges alleging sexual conduct with young girls has been continued to March 5

Assistant Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken and defense attorney John Lind agreed to the continuance Wednesday afternoon for Joel Ray Allard of Grand Portage. During the 10-minute hearing before Sixth District Judge Michael Cuzzo, it was disclosed that the US Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also investigating charges against Allard.

After the hearing, Hicken said that Allard is the only subject of her office’s investigation.

Hicken told the court that federal law enforcement is now involved in the case which her office began investigating last year. She said the FBI’s investigating agent believes a federal grand jury will vote an indictment for Allard within the next few weeks. A federal indictment would take precedence in the case although Hicken said the state could continue its case once the federal case is resolved.

The assistant county attorney requested that Allard remain in county custody unless the federal system gets involved. She also asked that the Omnibus Hearing be continued for six weeks to give federal officials the time to act.

Under questioning from defense attorney Lind, Allard said he understood the involvement of federal authorities. Lind said he expected the federal case to have “quite rapid” movement. 

Lind also said that his client was waiving his request for a speedy hearing. He said that if Cook County intends to actively prosecute the case that the proper discovery process continue with evidence to be made available by the county attorney. Cuzzo asked Hicken to continue with the discovery process as necessary and she agreed.