Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Minnesota Power to close one of three coal-burning units at Tac Harbor; no layoffs expected

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 4:33am
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Minnesota Power announced Wednesday it will vlose ofne of three coal-fired units at its Taconite Harbor plant on the North Shore in Cook County.

The Duluth News Tribune reported Thursday morning that Minnesota Power will convert its coal-fired power plant in Hoyt Lakes to natural gas as the utility continues a move away from carbon dioxode-creating coal.

Burning coal causes smog, acid rain, global warming and toxic air emissions.

The company said it will retire one of three coal-burning units at Taconite Harbor but keep the other two units burning coal because they already have been upgraded with pollution-control devices for mercury and other emissions.

Al Rudek, vice president of strategy and planning for the utility, said no layoffs are expected at Taconite Harbor or Hoyt Lakes. He told the Duluth newspaper that the company hopes any cuts in the work force would be achieved through attrition.

The company said it would spend $15 million in 2015 to convert the 110-megawatt Laskin coal plant in Hoyt Lakes to cleaner-burning natural gas, which produces much less carbon dioxide and mercury than coal. The plant would be the first gas-fired generator for the Duluth-based utility.

And the company will add $350 million in pollution-control technology at its Boswell 4 unit in Cohasset to meet current and forthcoming pollution regulations, keeping that unit open for the foreseeable future.

The announcement noted the utility’s addition last year of more wind turbines in North Dakota, where it now generates 400 megawatts of wind energy for its northern Minnesota customers.

The moves will push Minnesota Power, which produced 95 percent of its electricity from coal less than a decade ago, to more than 20 percent from non-coal sources, a critical step in the face of expected climate-change legislation to reduce pollution from burning coal.

Dupre has "day at the office" at base camp on Denali

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 4:09am
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Grand Marais Arctic adventurer Lonnie Dupre had "a day at the office" Wednesday after returning to his base camp at 7,200 feet on Alaska's Denali.

The 51-year-old Dupre returned to the base camp after his unsuccessful third attempt to scale Denali alone in the winter. Had he made it, he would have been the first solo climber to accomplish the challenge. He reached 17,200 feet before life-threatening conditions forced him to turn back. At that point, dangerous weather and snow conditions combined with dwindling food and fuel led Dupre to turn back. Denali is 20,320 feet in altitude.

His support team at One World Endeavors reported Wednesday night that Dupre had "a day at the office if you will. Lonnie spent his first full day at basecamp collecting his thoughts, organizing gear and visiting with his neighbor Masatoshi (Kuriaki) about hundred yards away. Masatoshi, is in the process of making his seventh attempt at summiting Mount Hunter."

The team reported also reported that "weather permitting we should be able to fly into base camp in the next couple of days." The flight will take Dupre off Denali and back to the Alaska community of Talkeetna.

CC/SB boys win Centennial Ski Meet; girls take second

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 12:45pm

The Cook County/Silver Bay boys and girls Alpine Ski Teams took first and second Tuesday in the Centennial Invitational held at Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

The meet featured more than 15 other teams and about 220 skiers from the section. It  is considered a pre-section meet.

The CC/SB boys beat the perennial power Hermantown by 12 points and the North Shore girls fell only a few points short of beating Hermantown. A consistent performance gave the CC/SB the strong team finishes. Both teams took enough of the finishes from number 12 to number 22 to push the boys to the win and the girls to take second.  

The CC/SB boys who finished were: Will Lamb, 12th; Anders Zimmer, 13th; Logan Backstrom, 16th; Colin Berglund, 20th; Kyle Martinson, 22nd; Dexter Yoki, 52nd and Charlie Lawler, 77th.

The CC/SB girls who finished were: Megan Lehto, 12th; Morgan Wyrens Welch, 14th; Signe Larson, 16th; Ava McMillan, 17th; Madysen McKeever, 26th; Alyssa Martinson, 27th and Haley Yoki at 39th.

CC/SB travels to the Duluth Central on Thursday morning at Giants Ridge. Next Tuesday, the boys and girls head back to Giants Ridge for the Sectional meet.

 

Snowarama coming to Grand Portage this weekend

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 10:49am

It’s Snowarama time with the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino and the Grand Portage Trail Riders. The Grand Portage community is hosting the 10th annual Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids on February 1 - 2.
This 10th year of riding the great Grand Portage trails and raising money for Easter Seals Ontario is a weekend filled with fun—and prizes. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Snowarama is offering 10 prize packages totaling $10,000, ranging from snowmobile gear, $250 in casino cash, a weekend stay at beautiful Hollow Rock Resort and more. For every $100 a rider raises, he or she gets a ticket for the drawing for one of the 10 prizes.
There are only a few more days for riders to register—if you’d like to join the ride, contact Rhonda Harrison at Easter Seals Ontario for more information at (807) 345-7622. If you would like to donate a pledge to a Snowarama rider, visit www.snowarama.org.
Easter Seals Ontario provides funding to families of kids with physical disabilities for costly equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, braces and communication devices. As children grow, most equipment must be replaced. The generous dollars contributed by thousands of supporters give children with physical disabilities the equipment they need to achieve a greater level of independence and dignity.
And you don’t have to be a participant to join in the fun. Head to Grand Portage Friday, Feb. 1 for Karaoke from 8 p.m. to midnight. On Saturday, dance the night away with the popular Twin Cities band West Side.

Despite extreme cold, DNR launches moose research project

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 6:27am

Despite the recent cold weather, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife researchers managed to fit high-tech GPS collars on  31 moose to help determine why Minnesota’s moose population continues to decline.

According to Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager, the project started last week near Grand Marais during the four-day stretch of extreme cold. He said flight safety guidelines dictate no work can be performed below 20 degrees below zero. So the team’s helicopter was grounded for most of the first three days.

Capture and ground support crews faced daytime wind chills as cold as 54 below zero on Monday, Jan. 21, and air temperatures that didn’t rise above zero until Thursday, Jan. 24.

Erika Butler, DNR wildlife veterinarian said despite the cold conditions, the team was able to collar at least five to six moose a day.

Capturing and collaring adult moose is the first phase of a multiple-year project to attempt to determine why moose are dying at unusually high rates in northeastern Minnesota. The DNR intends to put collars on 100 adult moose in the Grand Marias, Ely and Two Harbors areas. 

 

Dupre rests at base camp; awaits airlift off Denali

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 4:23am
Image from oneworldendeavors.com

Grand Marais adventurer Lonnie Dupre finished the last leg of his unsuccessful journey to reach the summit of Alaska's Denali Monday evening when he returned to his base camp.
 

His team at One World Endeavors reported Tuesday morning that upon arriving at the base camp, he joined Masatoshi Kuriaki who was already encamped.. Known as the “Japanese Caribou," Masatoshi is currently attempting to summit Mount Hunter. OWE said the two adventurers will be neighbors until weather clears up for Dupre's team to fly in and return him to Talkeetna.
 

This was Dupre's third attempt to become the first person to reach the summit alone on  Alaska’s 20,320-foot Denali in the winter. He reached 17,200 feet before life-threatening conditions forced him to turn back. At that point, dangerous weather and snow conditions combined with dwindling food and fuel led Dupre to turn back.
 

Dupre's expedition can be followed in pictures, reports and audio at www.oneworldendeavors.com.