Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Grand Marais State Bank President retiring after 33 years

Tue, 12/27/2016 - 11:17am

On Monday, December 19 the Grand Marais State Bank Board of Directors announced the retirement of President Mike LaVigne, effective January 27, 2017, after 33 years of service.

Sheriff talks about News Years and walking safely at night

Tue, 12/27/2016 - 9:07am

Law enforcement is looking forward to a safe and sober New Years. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Sheriff Pat Eliasen about responsible partying and staying visible when out walking these dark winter nights.


Weather settles down as New Year approaches

Mon, 12/26/2016 - 9:49am

The wet, snowy and windy Christmas storm came and went, leaving colder temperatures but no more snow. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Dean Packingham about a smoother transition to the New Year.


Think twice before going out on the ice

Sat, 12/24/2016 - 5:38pm

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding Northlanders to think twice before going out on the ice.

According to recreation safety specialists with the DNR, ice that formed quickly during the recent sub-zero temperatures is now thawing and refreezing, which leads to extremely weak ice that is dangerously deceptive 
In a statement this afternoon, Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator said, “There are many variables to consider, including whether a waterbody has a current or run-off, the freeze-thaw cycle, and snow cover. Rivers have been especially problematic, as water levels have continued to drop even after surface ice formed, creating dangerous air pockets under the ice.” 

Conservation officers across the state are reporting vehicles, snowmobiles and ATVs going through the ice on lakes where ice may be relatively thick in one area, with as little as 4-5 inches nearby.  

Conservation Officer Lisa Kruse said, “No ice should ever be considered 100 percent safe, and checking ice thickness every 150 feet is imperative when on inconsistent early ice.”
For ice safety tips and thickness guidelines are available at:

Weekend News Roundup for December 24

Sat, 12/24/2016 - 10:38am

It could be a weather-rough Christmas. The county board wraps up the year with a compromise and a resignation. The biggest invasive species treat to the Great Lakes turns out to be plastic. The Park Service decides to reintroduce wolves to Isle Royale…all this and more in the week’s news.



Christmas trees have a local connection

Fri, 12/23/2016 - 2:15pm

Have you purchased a Christmas tree at a local business? Do you know where it was grown? Odds are the tree has been cared for by Karen Smaby of Grand Marais. 

Rhonda Silence visits with Karen about her work as a tree farmer. 


Wahlers wins Virginia Invitational

Fri, 12/23/2016 - 8:27am

Former Cook County Vikings basketball player now playing at collegiate level

Thu, 12/22/2016 - 1:47pm

Lily Gruber-Schulz graduated from Cook County High School in the spring of 2016. While attending school in Grand Marais, Lily became well recognized for her talents as a student athlete. She is now playing college basketball at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Lily sat down to talk with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about the transition to college hoops and life in Thunder Bay. 


Weather Service issues warning of heavy snow for Christmas Day

Thu, 12/22/2016 - 10:52am

There is a 100 percent chance of precipitation Christmas Day and into Monday. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Dean Melde about snow and more snow.


Local churches invite community to Christmas services

Thu, 12/22/2016 - 10:17am

Many area churches host special services during the holiday season. There are opportunities for caroling, community potlucks and fellowship.  The following churches have announced their holiday schedules.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
417 1st Avenue West
Grand Marais
Bethlehem Lutheran Church will hold two Christmas Eve Services. A 5 p.m. service will include Bethlehem Lutheran’s senior choir and will be offered in a Lessons and Carols format. The 9 p.m. service will have traditional readings and a service of Holy Communion.
Bethlehem will celebrate Christmas with worship on Sunday, December 25 at the regular Sunday time which is 10 a.m.
Cornerstone Community Church
1 Cedar Grove Lane
Grand Marais
Cornerstone Community Church will be holding a Christmas Eve worship service at 4:30 p.m. on December 24. Christmas Day worship will be at the regular time, 10:30 a.m.
Evangelical Free Church
2nd Ave. East and 5th Street
Grand Marais
The Evangelical Free Church will be hosting a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 p.m. on December 24. A Christmas Day Family Style Worship Service will be held Christmas Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
First Congregational Church - UCC
300 West 2nd Street
Grand Marais
The First Congregational Church - United Church of Christ is holding a Christmas Eve candlelit service on December 24 at 5:30 p.m. A potluck will follow. Christmas Day worship will be at the regular time, 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 25.
First Congregational Church will also be holding a Fourth Monday Meal on December 26. Community members are invited to come together to cook if they wish at 3 p.m., meal is at 5 p.m.
Holy Rosary – Catholic Church
Grand Portage
Christmas Mass will be held at 12 p.m. at Holy Rosary in Grand Portage.
Life in Christ Lutheran Church
2017 West Highway 61, Grand Marais
Life in Christ Lutheran Church is holding an Evening of Songs and Worship at 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, December 24. A Christmas Day Service of Word and Worship will be held at 10 a.m. on December 25.
Lutsen Evangelical Lutheran
Highway 61, Lutsen
Lutsen Lutheran Church will also be offering two Christmas Eve services on December 24 at 7 p.m. and 9 pm. Christmas Day worship will be at 9 a.m.
Mount Rose Community Church
Maamawiitawin – The Gathering Place
Grand Portage
Mount Rose Community Church will not be holding a Christmas Day Service, but will celebrate with a Christmas Eve worship at 4:30 p.m.
St. John’s Catholic Church
10 East 5th Street
 Grand Marais
A Christmas Eve Mass will be held at St. John’s Catholic Church with caroling beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 24. Christmas Mass will be held at 9 a.m.
Seventh Day Adventist
Grand Marais (meeting at First Congregational Church)
The Seventh Day Adventist congregation will be holding services at the regular time, at 10 a.m. on Saturday. All members will be taking part in the worship.
Spirit of the Wilderness Episcopal Church
Maple Hill Church, County Road 54
Grand Marais
Spirit of the Wilderness will be holding a Christmas Eve candlelit service on Saturday, December 24 at 5:30 p.m. Services will be held on Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church
4757 East Highway 61
Trinity Lutheran will be holding its annual community potluck on Christmas Eve from 6 – 7 p.m. A Christmas Eve service with hymns and carols will be held at 7 p.m.
Zoar Lutheran Church
Highway 61, Tofte
A Christmas Eve Carols and Lights service will be held on December 24 at 4:30 p.m. There will be no worship at Zoar Lutheran on Christmas Day.
Photo courtesy of David Johnson Photo

Commissioner Frank Moe resigns from county board

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 6:06pm

Following a grueling meeting focused on the 2017 budget, and shortly after the levy was set at 11.21 percent, Cook County Commissioner Frank Moe abruptly resigned from the county board.

“I regrettably am informing the board and my constituents that I will be resigning my seat on the county board,” Moe said. “There are a few reasons in my decision, primarily I have a health situation that is in needing of my attention. And I will not be able to fulfill my obligation to the county board and to those I represent.”

Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers said there will likely need to be a special election to fill Moe’s vacant seat. Moe said he will do his best to fulfill the duties of his seat on the county board until a new commissioner is elected.

Moe was elected in 2014 to represent the east end of Cook County, which includes Grand Portage, Hovland and Colvill.

A date for the special election for a commissioner to represent District 1 will be announced soon. 

View more news from WTIP

Lengthy comment period at Tuesday's county commissioner meeting

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 3:11pm

The Cook County Board of Commissioners has been attempting to set its 2017 levy. A preliminary levy increase of 19.9 percent had been set, but at the Tuesday, Dec. 13 meeting, commissioners voted to lower the levy by 10 percentage points, which equates to approximately $700,000.

Since then there has been much public discourse about whether that is an adequate amount. At today’s county commissioners’ meeting, citizens came out in force to share their thoughts—for and against—a return to the 19.9 percent levy for 2017.

Approximately 75 citizens crowded into the commissioners’ room and many spoke as the county board sat stoically. County Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk gave guidelines for the public session, restricting speakers to two minutes. The board unanimously extended the public comment period though, from the allotted 30 minutes on the agenda.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs provides this report. 


Ship held in Duluth harbor now paying for North Shore environmental projects

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 8:46am

Last year the activities of a large ship in the Duluth harbor was hit with $1 million in penalties after pleading guilty to dumping oily wastewater into the Great Lakes. A portion of the money from the fines is going toward environmental projects in the Lake Superior Watershed.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs finds out more in this interview. 


Bethlehem Lutheran celebrates St. Lucia Day traditions

Mon, 12/19/2016 - 5:03pm

St. Lucia Day is an important tradition of the Scandinavian culture. It is celebrated here in Cook County at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The celebration includes an array of Scandinavian goodies, socializing, and the announcement of the girl who will be Bethlehem Lutheran’s St. Lucia.
This year’s Lucia is Isabella Sparks. Her attendants were Amy Carpenter and Cecelia Chmelik.
As the young ladies enter with Lucia carrying a tray of St. Lucia buns, the audience sings this traditional song.
Song for St. Lucia
Nightly, with heavy steps; Round farm and steading
On earth, where sun departs, shadows are spreading.
Then in our darkened house, Rise with candles lit!
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
The night is dark and still. Hark, something’s stirring!
In all our silent rooms, wingbeats are whisp’ring!
Stands on our threshold there, White clad, lights in her hair,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
Darkness shall fly away; Fron the earth’s valleys,
Bringing such wonderful; words to us does she say!
Daylight again renewed, will rise, all rosy-hued!
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Deep in our northern sky, Bright stars are beaming;
Christmas is drawing nigh, Candles are gleaming.
Welcome thou visions rare, Lights glowing in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Welcome thou visions rare, Lights glowing in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
Rhonda Silence attended this year’s event on December 10 and gives this report. 


Awareness of Cook County trapping valuable to pet owners

Sun, 12/18/2016 - 7:15am

Trapping remains a legal practice in Cook County and along the North Shore. WTIP's Joe Friedrichs finds out more about trapping and how it could impact pet owners in this interview with DNR Conservation Officer Darin Fagerman.