Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

New executive director at Cook County Visitors Bureau

Sun, 09/08/2013 - 8:32am

Linda Jurek Kratt, recently hired to serve as the Cook County Visitors Bureau (CCVB) executive director, may be familiar to North Shore residents and visitors. It may be because she grew up in Grand Marais, graduating from Cook County High School in 1978. She still has a lot of friends here, but Kratt may seem familiar because her career has made her a well-known figure in the region’s tourism industry.

Kratt comes to the CCVB after six very successful years as the director of business retention and events with the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. If you think you may have seen her on Duluth television, you very well may have. She often represented the chamber on programs related to business in Duluth. She hosted the popular “Forum” series, which invited stakeholders in the economy of Duluth to discuss the important issues of the day. And she hosted events for up to 1,100 people.

Before working at the Duluth Chamber, she worked at Miller-Dwan Medical Center for 17 years, the last five years as the development specialist for the highly successful Miller-Dwan Foundation.

Although her work at Miller-Dwan kept her busy, Kratt found time to venture into business development. She was involved in the start-up of Diamond Willow Assisted Living, partnering with a family member and eventually selling her shares in the company. She is still involved in a family-run 80-site campground and resort on Island Lake outside of Duluth.

Kratt sees those business ventures as assets in her new role as CCVB executive director. “I’m not just looking at the marketing and tourism side of things. I can relate to the concerns of business owners as well,” she said.

Questions arise regarding possible hospital remodeling

Sun, 09/08/2013 - 8:27am

 The Cook County North Shore Hospital & Care Center board continues to pursue the possibility of remodeling and upgrading the facility.  On August 22, 2013, Administrator Kimber Wraalstad told the board about a study that showed that finances had improved for critical access hospitals after undergoing facility upgrades.  Revenue outpaced interest and depreciation, the number of staff per patient decreased, and quality outcomes were higher.

Wraalstad said she had been soliciting input and suggestions from department heads regarding the proposed remodeling of the hospital and care center. 

Wraalstad showed the board a slide of the general floor plan she was proposing.  It had a central entrance for visitors, outpatients, and emergency room patients facing the original hospital parking lot between the hospital and the care center.  It also included an operating room and the infrastructure necessary to provide chemotherapy.

Some services, such as cataract surgery, could be offered quarterly, Wraalstad said.  A general surgeon had called her, offering to work at the hospital part-time, she said, but she could not take him up on his offer because the present facility does not have a required scrub room next to what could be an operating room. 

Board member Tom Spence said the proposed floor plan, which makes use of the current building footprint while also including an addition, looked “chopped up” like the facility is already.  He said he thinks they are dealing with “a dinosaur.”   He suggested that an architect be employed to start them in the right direction. 

Weekend News Roundup for September 7

Sat, 09/07/2013 - 9:17am

Each week the WTIP news staff puts together a roundup of the news over the past five days. New Tofte Ranger, new wolf pups on Isle Royale, new public land restrictions around Wisconsin mine site, new lake named for invasive species, and much more…all in this week’s news.


Attached file

Grand Marais Art Colony to offer "Tour d'Art--the Home Collection

Sat, 09/07/2013 - 9:05am

Amy Demmer, director of the Grand Marais Art Colony is pleased to announce that the Art Colony will be presenting Tour d’Art: The Home Collection, an exclusive art and home tour fundraiser on Saturday, September 28.

This is a rare opportunity to view some of the North Shore’s most impressive art collections and architecture and includes a look at a home designed by the late Bruce Abrahamson, an award winning architect, as well as the home of the late Paul Granlund, the sculptor’s whose work The Swimmers adorns the Johnson Heritage Post lawn.

A third home, owned by Joan Drury, features artistically designed elements by regional artists woven into every facet of the house. The fourth home has a collection so vast and so eclectic that the homeowners rotate what is displayed.  This retired art history and architecture professor has a phenomenal collection of rare prints, some dating back to the 15th century.  

The tour culminates at the Art Colony with a reception, a lecture with the director of the Tweed Art Museum of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and special exhibit curated by acclaimed artist Hazel Belvo.

Limited tickets are available at $125 per person, reserve your spot in advance by contacting the Art Colony at 218-387-2737 or         


MPCA seeking comments on ballast water permitting process

Sat, 09/07/2013 - 9:03am

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking public comment from now through Sept. 11 on its draft ballast water general permit. This state permit would continue the MPCA's regulatory role in helping protect Minnesota waters of Lake Superior from potential environmental and economic harm caused by aquatic invasive species carried in the ballast water of ships.

The draft five-year state permit would affect 55 to 65 U.S.-flagged lakers (a "laker" is a vessel that transits only the Great Lakes), 60 to 65 Canadian-flagged lakers, and 225 to 275 ocean-going ships that transit through, and discharge to, Minnesota waters of Lake Superior.

The MPCA's draft requirements focus on lakers' treatment systems that, when installed, will minimize the introduction of new or spread of aquatic invasive species and submission of a Ballast Water/Sediment Management Plan. Once a ship's plan is approved, the agency would issue a Notice of Coverage for the vessel.

MPCA staff began working on the ballast water discharge program in early 2007 and issued a permit in September 2008. International efforts on this issue, federal court decisions, new requirements contained in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permit, new U.S. Coast Guard rules, and past state legislation helped shape the MPCA staff's permit-development efforts.

A copy of the draft permit, fact sheet, and public notice are available for review at the MPCA offices in St. Paul and Duluth and online on the MPCA's Public Notices webpage.

Radio Waves Music Festival starts today with Community Band at 4 p.m.

Fri, 09/06/2013 - 10:59am

The 6th Annual Radio Waves Music Festival starts today! It features a diverse line-up of North Shore musicians playing back to back over three days at Sweetheart’s Bluff in the Grand Marais Recreation Area, from Friday - Sunday, Sept. 6 - 8. It’s the perfect setting for sharing the weekend with friends and family, while enjoying a wide variety of music. There will be a dance floor, free children’s activities from noon - 4:00 p.m. both days, and on-site food vendors providing snacks, meals, kid-friendly options, and a special Sunday morning breakfast. Don't worry about the weather, there's a big tent to protect the musicians and audience!

This year’s line-up reflects the incredible talent and diversity of North Shore musicians.  “It was really important to us to be inclusive and to build a line-up that explores the talent of the area,” says WTIP’s Music Director Cathy Quinn.  The line-up offers a variety of genres, from rock to folk, jazz, swing, and country. See the complete line-up below.

This year, the Radio Waves Music Festival is celebrating its sixth year. It takes place annually the weekend after Labor Day under a big tent in an outdoor venue, with on-site food, children’s activities, and on-site camping. Admission is only $5 per day or $10 for the weekend. For more information, check out WTIP’s website: or call (218) 387-1070.