Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

The Heavenly Harp duo to perform at Bethlehem Lutheran Church July 25

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 5:40pm

The Heavenly Harp duo, featuring harpists Karin and Joy Gunderson along with other family members, will be giving a concert at 7 p.m. July 25 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Author of the book Encounters with Heaven: Stories of God’s Surprising Presence, Karin Gunderson will share stories of Divine Presence from her work as a hospice harpist and peaceful music with her family featuring harp, flute, and vocals.

Joy Gunderson, who at age 11 was already performing the Handel Harp Concerto, is now one of the top harpists in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. Gunderson, a graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with a church music degree, plays with professional mastery and sensitivity that will truly inspire you. In Minneapolis she studied harp with the Minnesota Orchestra’s harpist, Kathy Kienzle, who has won numerous awards in teaching harp. Gunderson won the Philharmonia Concerto Competition in her junior year of college and also had the honor of being chosen to play a concerto with the St. Olaf Orchestra her senior year.

There is no admission charge, but offerings are accepted. For more information, contact Bethlehem Church at 387-2227 or view   


North Shore Dragon Boat Festival starts with Parade of Teams July 25

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:27am

Ainslie Kincross, executive director for the North Shore Dragon Boat Festival, is excited about some of the new changes to the 2014 festival.

“We have more of a family emphasis this year,” said Kincross. “We would like to get more people in a dragon boat. Even the day of the event, people can still sign up. It’s much more participatory than in the past.”

“Fun equals people on the water,” said Greg Wright, executive director of the North House Folk School and one of the Dragon Boat Festival board members.

In its 11th year, the Dragon Boat Festival has become a stalwart event for Grand Marais and a strong fundraiser for three Cook County non-profits: WTIP Radio, the North Shore Health Care Foundation and the North House Folk School.

The three-day festivities run from July 25-27 and include a wide array of fun filled activities for everyone.

Visit the websit at for a complete schedule.

City Council moves forward with library rain garden project

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:26am

In an effort to curb flooding problems on the north side of the Grand Marais Public Library, city councilors moved forward with plans to design and construct a 570-square-foot rain garden in front of the building at their July 9 meeting.

City Administrator Mike Roth explained that in times of extreme rainfall, the water tends to pool behind the building. He said by improving the ditching on the east side of the library and creating a pathway for the water, the problem should be somewhat alleviated. However, Roth cautioned, the rain garden is not designed for a “large-scale event” and will help–-but not solve–-the problem.

Councilors reviewed a drawing prepared by the Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District of the proposed rain garden.

Although the city council elected to proceed with the project, final design work has yet to be done, along with the task of finding a steward to take care of the garden upon completion.

Mayor Larry Carlson asked Roth about the garden’s maintenance and cost, and Roth said the city and Soil & Water would pay for the construction, but it is imperative that a steward be enlisted for upkeep, as past experiences with rain gardens have shown that time and attention are directly proportional to attractiveness.

Councilor Tim Kennedy agreed, stating that a well cared-for rain garden, such as the one on West First Street near the library, is quite attractive, while a nearby one off the highway looks like a “bunch of brush.”

If a caretaker cannot be found, Roth said the rain garden could be as simple as a grassy depression that the city crews mow with the rest of the lawn. So at this point, Roth said it is not known what the garden will look like.

Teenage girl testifies in county attorney trial

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 8:51am

A teenage girl has testified in the trial of a northern Minnesota prosecutor accused of sexual misconduct.

The Associated Press reports witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell in St. Louis County Court. The 47-year-old is charged with two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with the girl.
The 19-year-old girl testified that Scannell kissed and sexually touched her in 2012, when she was 17.

WTIP’s Martha Marnocha reports the girl described him as a "father-figure" and a "mentor, helping her with a range of aspects” in her life. Her mother told jurors Scannell had been a family friend for 10 years and that she and her husband had been worried about Scannell’s “extreme interest” in the girl even before the relationship became known.

The young woman spent about three hours on the witness stand, fielding questions from special prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger about the nature of her relationship with Scannell. Judge Shaun Floerke sent jurors home at 5 p.m., putting cross-examination on hold until this morning.

Defense attorney Joe Tamburino told jurors that Scannell would take the stand in his own defense.

Because the age of consent in Minnesota is 16 for most purposes, the prosecution must show that Scannell was in a “position of authority” over the girl at the time of their physical relationship in order to prove that a crime was committed.
The trial is scheduled to conclude by the end of the week.


eBook workshop at the Grand Marais Public Library, July 23

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:53am

E-books have not yet made libraries obsolete, but they can be handy.
WTIP's Matthew Brown spoke with Steve Harsin, director of the Grand Marais Public Library, and Bob Pranis, broadband commission member and library liason.

The library hosts a workshop on eBook readers on Wednesday, July 23, at 6:30 pm. Bob Pranis will discuss how reading technology is evolving, the advantages of eBooks, how to get the most from eBook devices, how to download books to e- readers, and considerations in choosing the right device. Those with all types of readers, and at all levels of experience and ability, are welcome. No advance sign-up is necessary.


Listen to the Story

Election signs not allowed in road right of way

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 11:01am

Hoping they would be noticed, local politicians have been busy putting their “Vote for me” signs up in the right-of-way near homes and road entrances. And it’s worked!

Unfortunately the County’s Auditor’s office received a complaint about illegally placed signs, and the matter was turned over to the Cook County Attorney’s office.

Acting Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken recently sent letters to the candidates telling them to remove signs that have been mistakenly placed in the right-of-way.

In an email to the paper, Hicken cited the county statute concerning where signs can—or cannot—be placed.

 “All candidates are required to abide by chapter 211B, Fair Campaign Practices, in general, and were provided with these statutes in the 2014 Campaign Manual distributed to candidates by the County Auditor.

“While other laws and rules may also may be applicable, two that people certainly need to know about as they relate to campaign signs are the Cook County Sign Ordinance (available at under “Doing Business”) and Minnesota Statutes section 160.2715 (Right-of-Way Use, Misdemeanors).

Hicken said signs placed within the right of way for Highway 61 or within the right of way for any other public road or highway are placed in violation of the Cook County Sign Ordinance and Minnesota statutes.

Erecting or maintaining a sign in violation of county ordinance is a petty misdemeanor and violation of the state law is a misdemeanor.