Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Cook County and Forest Service continue to work on BWCAW land exchange

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 12:20pm

Cook County and the U.S. Forest Service continue to work on a possible exchange of 1,980 acres of Cook County land within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for Forest Service parcels in other parts of the county. 
On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the board discussed the possibility of trading acre for acre (which would require legislative approval) instead of by the assessed value of the land.  The county has prioritized a list of Forest Service properties it is interested in, but the board discussed the difficulty of setting those priorities without knowing how each parcel would be valued when it gets assessed.  The priorities can still be moved around after the appraisal, however.
No one knows how the land will be valued, because the county’s BWCAW land cannot be developed but it does include a lot of lakeshore, which in private hands would generate a lot of property tax.  Similarly, how resources such as gravel on the Forest Service land will be valued remains to be seen.

Thursday was bill introduction day at Legislature

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 10:24am

A jump in Minnesota's minimum wage and making it harder to put constitutional amendments on the ballot are among Senate Democrats' top legislative priorities this session.

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press reports the bills were among the first introduced during the 2013 legislative session. On Thursday, 20 were introduced in the Senate and 54 in the state House.

One of the most watched will be the bill setting up the state health insurance exchange. The exchange is required under the 2010 federal health care overhaul.

The Senate minimum wage proposal would bump pay up to $7.50 an hour for most of Minnesota's lowest paid workers, while a House plan would raise it to $9.38 starting in August. Future increases would be automatic and tied to inflation.

The first bill introduced in the House would accelerate repayment of money owed to schools. The state still owes about $1.1 billion of the $2.7 billion borrowed from schools to help balance past budget shortfalls.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk also highlighted a bill he's offering to make it harder to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. Bakk said, "Minnesota just came off of one of the most divisive elections our state has ever seen. I hope that we never have to go through another election like that, where we have purely partisan amendments on the ballot.”

His proposal would require a three-fifths majority of the Legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in hopes of having more bipartisan support before measures go to voters for approval.


North Shore wins hockey; Vikings girls lose in basketball OT

Fri, 01/11/2013 - 6:17am

The North Shore boys' hockey team took a home win Thursday night from Eveleth-Gilbert, 4-2.

And, the Cook County girls' basketball team lost a road game to Mesabi East at Aurora. It took an overtime, however, before the Vikings were defeated 67-54. The loss dropped teh girls to 5-7 for the season.

The team bus didn't get back to Grand Marais until early Friday morning due to poor driving conditions on the way back.

Friday the Vikings boys and girls travel to Silver Bay for varsity basketball action. Both games with the Mariners will be broadcast on WTIP with Norman Moe and Dick Dorr providing the play-by-play. The girls' tip-off is slated for 4:45 with the boys at 6:30.

In the North Shore hockey match, North Shore broke a two-all deadlock at the end of the second period with two points in the third for the win.

Austyn Wasko led the North Shore team with two goals while Mills Johnson and Tyler Schramm had one each.

Zach Duresky was in goal for the Mariners, He made 26 saves.

The win put North Shore at 9-4 for the season. The team plays International Falls Saturday night at Silver bay.

North Shore includes skaters from Cook and Lake counties on the roster.

Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week is Jan. 13-19

Thu, 01/10/2013 - 3:01pm

Gov. Mark Dayton with the support of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) has proclaimed Jan. 13-19 as Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week in Minnesota.

More than 1,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state.
For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the DNR website at ( or call 800-366-8917.

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.
DNR and MnUSA also remind snowmobilers of a few basic safety tips:

DON’T DRINK – Drinking and driving can be fatal. Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Alcohol causes body temperature to drop at a faster rate, increasing the likelihood of hypothermia. 
SLOW DOWN – Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation. Remember, when driving at night the DNR recommends a speed of only 40 miles an hour. Faster peeds may result in “over driving” your headlight.
BE PREPARED – When traveling, make sure to bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches, and a compass.
STAY ALERT – Fatigue can reduce the driver’s coordination and judgment.
ICE ADVICE – Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Never travel in a single file when crossing bodies of water.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS – Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice and flying debris. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.
WATCH THE WEATHER – Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.
BRING A BUDDY – Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone. If snowmobilers must travel alone, they should inform someone of their destination, planned route, and return time.
REPORT ACCIDENTS – The operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file an official accident report through the county sheriff’s office within 10 days.

For a copy of DNR’s 2012-2013 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, call 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367. It’s also available on DNR’s website at

Photo by David Rees - U.S. EPA.  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. offers Boundary Waters photo contest

Thu, 01/10/2013 - 11:43am

The, which bills itself as the “Social Network of the BWCA,” is offering photographers the chance to share their favorite Boundary Waters scenes—and the possibility of receiving a prize.
There are three contests starting now, each featuring a different aspect of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The first is the Gunflint Trail photo contest, which can be found at:
This contest is looking for pictures depicting the Gunflint side of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, as well as photos of the town of Grand Marais and its area resorts.
The photos can include any photographs from any season of the year.
A second contest is a Winter Photography contest, intended to encourage the sharing of our wonderful winters. Photos could be winter landscapes, wildlife, snowshoeing, winter camping, cross country skiing, ice fishing, dog sledding, etc. Sorry, snowmobile photos will not qualify.
The contest winner will receive a copy of White Woods, Quiet Trails by Andrew Slade.
Find details on the BWCA-Quetico Winter Photography Contest at
Finally, BWCABoard is looking for entries in its Hiking Photo Contest. The theme of this contest is the hiking trails of the BWCAW. The contest can include pictures depicting the trails and trail vistas in and surrounding the BWCAW. Your photos can be from any season of the year. The December 2012 winner received a Yellowstone River Trading Hiking Stick, courtesy of Gunflint Lodge. Look for more wonderful prizes in the coming year.
So get out and enjoy winter with your camera—you could be a winner! Winning photos may also be featured on websites and in area newspapers.

Learn to play bridge at Senior Center

Thu, 01/10/2013 - 11:41am

Learn to play Rubber Bridge this winter! The Cook County Senior Center will be hosting a beginners’ Party Bridge Group.You will receive instruction and guidance as you improve your skills and knowledge of the game. Gather on Fridays,  January 11 -  February 1 at 12:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Bridge instructors will be Warren Anderson, Don Dittus and Pat Zankman. Everyone is welcome to attend and best of all it is free entertainment! To sign up, please call (218) 387-2660 or email or stop in at the Senior Center.