Around Cook County
Tomorrow, January 6, Minnesota’s newest stage-style sled dog race, the Gichigami Express begins in Grand Portage! The three-day race travels from Grand Portage, along the Gunflint Trail to Grand Marais and back to Grand Portage on January 6-8, 2013. The community is happy to welcome a field of 20 mushing teams to compete in the inaugural race.
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken today joined U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin in a friendly wager on Saturday's NFL playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. The Wisconsin senators wagered a case of Wisconsin craft beer against a case of local Minnesota beer from the Minnesota senators.
“It’s not often we have the chance to beat Green Bay two weekends in a row,” Klobuchar said. “There will be no better way to wash down the sweet taste of victory than with an ice cold Wisconsin beer from my friends across the border.”
Colin Everson scored 23 points to lead the Cook County Vikings to a 65-55 home victory over the Cromwell Cardinals Friday night in Grand Marais.
The Viking girls won their second game in a row by stopping the Cardinals 51-39 led by 14 points from Lily Gruber-Schulz.
In other North Shore high school basketball play, Silver Bay dropped a pair of games to Moose Lake-Willow River.
The Viking boys took a 36-28 lead at the half and outscored the Cardinals 29-26 in the second for the win.
In addition to Everson’s 23, Justin Goldstein had 15 while Kale Boomer had 11. Rounding out the Vikings’ scoring were Lars Scannell with eight and Jonny Jacobsen with four while Rory Bakke and Peter Warren added two each.
Austin Pfisthner had 17 for Cromwell.
The Vikings are 6-2 for the season and play Friday night, January 11 at Silver Bay in a game that will be broadcast on WTIP.
The Viking girls upped their record to 5-6 with their win over the Cardinals.
Cook County held a 30 to 20 halftime lead before holding off Cromwell 21-19 in the second to take the 11-point win.
Gruber-Schulz’s 14 led the Vikes followed by Breana Peterson’s 12 and eight from Teresa Morrin. Other Vikings on the scoreboard were Kaitlynn Linnell with seven, Jamie Sjogren with six and Leah Utities with four.
Christina Stenson led Cromwell with 13.
The now 5-6 Vikings travel to Mesabi East for a game Thursday night, January 10. On Friday, they join the boys at Silver Bay and their game will be broadcast on WTIP.
The Silver Bay Mariner girls lost a 67-38 road game at Moose Lake-Willow River.
The Rebels took a first-half lead of 35-32 before taking the second half 32-19 for the win.
Alicia Nopola scored 26 to lead the Mariners. Tara Dow added 10 and Kayla Maleski scored two. Nopola also had a three-point basket.
Cook County property taxpayers can expect some increases in their 2013 property taxes, but they won’t see an increase in the hospital levy. On December 20, 2012, the hospital board voted to keep it at $800,000 for another year.
“My hope had been to decrease it,” said North Shore Hospital & Care Center Administrator Kimber Wraalstad. Given financial projections for next year, she was not comfortable recommending that the levy be decreased but thought they could handle keeping it the same.
Board member Tom Spence pointed out that they expect to go to the taxpayers for a lot of money in facility renovations in the next several years. He said he wanted taxpayers to see that the hospital was trying to do the right thing with their money.
Administrator Wraalstad said she was disappointed to see a projected loss of $200,000 when working on the new year’s budget. The loss could be greater with potential federal funding cuts of over $200,000 and up to $400,000 that could go toward building renovation if the board decides to pursue it.
The hospital ended 2012 in the black for the first time since 2008. Wraalstad told the board it was due to a reduction in care center beds, a change in funding structure called Equitable Cost-Sharing for Publicly Owned Nursing Facilities, an increase in swing bed volume, the ability to do MRIs, and the addition of occupational therapy.
The Grand Marais city council’s last meeting of the year was also the shortest. Councilors met for about 10 minutes on Dec. 26 to put the final stamp of approval on the city’s 2013 budget and levy. As adopted, the levy for next year is $824,152.44, which is a 1.12 percent property tax levy increase.
The action concludes the lengthy budget process, which began in late summer with meetings between council and the city’s department heads. In September, council set a preliminary levy of $866,552.44, which would have represented a 6.3 percent increase over the prior year. City administrators worked since then to reduce that increase.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources is launching a moose research project in northeastern Minnesota to determine why the state's population of the animal is declining.
DNR officials will hold a St. Paul news conference today to unveil what they're calling a first-of-its-kind project. They'll employ GPS and other technology to help track the animals.
As of last March, Minnesota's moose population was estimated at 4,230 — a 14 percent decline from the previous year's estimate, and less than half what it was in 2006. Wildlife managers have said reasons could include parasites, diseases and warmer weather.
They have said hunting is not to blame, and the DNR allowed a short moose hunting season last fall. The agency has not yet revealed if it will allow a moose hunt this year.
Fifteen points by Kaitlynn Lynnell and 14 by Teresa Morrin led the Cook County Viking girls’ basketball team to a 51-47 victory last night at South Ridge.
The 4-6 Vikings host the Cromwell Cardinals at 4:45 PM, Friday (today). The boys’ team will tip off their game with Cromwell at 6:30.
Norman Moe and Dick Dorr will be on hand to bring you the play-by-play on WTIP starting around 4:30 with the pre-game discussion. The games also will be videostreamed on www.wtip.org and www.boreal.org.
Last night at South Ridge’s home court in Culver, the Vikings held a 26-25 halftime lead before being outscored by the Panthers 27-25 in the second. The first half margin gave Cook County what the Vikes needed to take the win.
Other scorers for Cook County were Breana Peterson with eight points while Lily Gruber Schulz and Essence Haines hit six each. Leah Utities rounded out the Viking scoring with two.
Leading the Panthers in double figures were Mikayla Olesiak with 18 and Krystal Karppinen with 10. Olesiak nailed three three-point baskets and Karppinen had two.
The School District 166 school board deliberated at length before deciding where to set the levy at its last meeting of the year on December 20. Any tax increases would be hard for residents, Deb White said to her colleagues on the school board.
As enrollment continues to decline over the next couple of years, Superintendent Beth Schwarz said, the district will need to continue reducing expenditures.
One bright note, according to outgoing school board member Terry Collins, is that the construction of a new community center on the west wing of the complex will save the school the cost of dealing with issues related to the age of that end of the building, and the wood chip silo was taken down at no cost to the school as part of the project.
Collins, who did not run for re-election and will be off the school board in January, recommended that in reducing spending, they avoid “veering wildly” from new initiatives –such as early childhood programming—before they’ve had a chance to mature.
The board had the option of adding $91 per student to the levy to help continue Q-comp projects. This amount, about $42,000, was included in the preliminary budget. Q-comp is a state-initiated program that brings money into the district for quality improvement measures such as bringing math activities into all areas of the curriculum to improve standardized test scores, which is the district’s focus this year.
The board voted unanimously to set the 2013 levy at $1,335,286, which includes the Q-comp allowance. The 2013 levy will be 7 percent more than school taxes payable in 2012.
Put your sneakers on and get ready to dance away your winter blues with a Zumba event that will raise money for two good causes. Local residents Kathy Bernier and Chris Angelo, a licensed Zumba instructor, have teamed up to host a Zumbathon the afternoon of January 5 in the Sawtooth Elementary School gym.
For a suggested donation of $10 per person, participants of all ages and experience levels will exercise to the grooves of Latin music as they follow the moves of Instructor Angelo as well as volunteer instructors Cassie Fortier of Thunder Bay, Rosemary Kosevich of Silver Bay, and Annie Otterblad of Two Harbors. The money raised will be given to support the Cook County Kids Plus program and the ALS Association (fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
The Zumba.com website calls Zumba an addictive, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Alberto “Beto” Perez invented Zumba accidentally.
The story is on the Zumba website: “As a fitness instructor in his native Cali, Colombia, Beto's life took an unexpected turn one fateful day in the mid-'90s when he darted off to teach an aerobics class and forgot his traditional aerobics music. He improvised using his own mix of music from tapes he had in his backpack (salsa and merengue music he grew up with). Spontaneously he created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move you (instead of counting reps over the music). Energy electrified the room; people couldn't stop smiling. His class loved it!”
Zumba is now taught in over 150 countries around the world, with variations including classes for kids, new and older exercisers, and those wanting to work on toning, do circuit training, or exercise in the water. Zumbathons are becoming a popular way to raise money for worthy causes.
The first Gichigami Express stage-style sled dog race will be held from Sunday, January 6 through Tuesday, January 8 in the communities of Grand Portage, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Marais. A field of 20 mushing teams will be competing in the three-stage race.
The event begins with a veterinarian check of the dogs at the Grand Portage Log School, Saturday, January 5, from 8 to 4 PM. There will be a Potlatch Banquet at the Grand Portage Community Center at 6 PM featuring presentations by the mushers and on the history of sled dogs in Grand Portage. Everyone is invited.
The first of the three-stage races starts at Mineral Center at 9 AM, Sunday, January 6. The 20 teams will race to Hungry Jack Lodge with arrival times expected between 3 and 6 PM. Everyone is invited to the outdoor banquet at Trail Center Lodge on the Gunflint Trail after everyone arrives.
Windigo Lodge on the Gunflint Trail is hosting a breakfast for everyone from 6 to 8 AM, Monday, January 7. The mushers will leave Windigo at 9 AM and race to Devil Track Lodge with an arrival time of 3 to 6 PM expected. Everyone is invited to attend the spaghetti feed at American Legion Post 413 in Grand Marais. Everyone is invited.
On Tuesday, January 8, everyone is invited to the Grand Marais Lions' Club breakfast from 6 to 8 AM at Sven and Ole's in downtown Grand Marais. The third stage of the race will begin at 9 AM at Devil Track Landing with the teams heading for Mineral Center. They are expected to arrive between 3 and 6 PM. The awards dinner wil be held at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino at 6 PM. Everyone is invited.
The race features past Beargrease Champions Blake Freking, Ryan Anderson, Nathan Schroeder and Keith Aili. Local mushers racing will be Odin Jorgenson, Dennis LaBoda, Curtis LaBoda, Frank Moe, Rita Wehseler and Bill Wehseler. There will also be two teams from Michigan's Caribou Creek Kennel.
Minnesota’s first-ever wolf season will close at the end of shooting and trapping hours on Thursday, January 3, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources..
As of Wednesday, 181 wolves had been registered in the late season northwest wolf zone out of a target of 187. The northwest zone was the last of three management zones where wolves could be taken by permit since November 3.
The northwest zone number, when combined with totals from the early season and the other late season zones, brings the inaugural wolf season total to 395.
“Our plan was to close the season when the harvest was at or projected to reach 400,” said Dan Stark, large carnivore specialist for the DNR. “It is important that hunters and trappers know that they have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit their wolves for inspection.”
For the late season, the east-central zone was closed to hunting December 13. The northeast zone, which includes the Minnesota Arrowhead was closed December 14. Nine wolves were killed in the east-central zone where the quota was 10, and 58 were trapped or shot in the northeast zone where the target was 56.
Complete wolf hunting information, including a map of the wolf zones, is available at
The Cook County Food Shelf, like many other community food programs, sees increased usage in winter months. And unfortunately, because communities all around the region see a greater need, the food available at greatly discounted prices through the Second Harvest Food Bank is reduced.
So in the time of seasonal layoffs and families struggling to pay winter utility bills, when the need is the greatest, the food supply is the lowest. If the local food shelf runs short, it must purchase food at retail prices.
So although the “season of giving” is over, the Cook County Food Shelf could use a little more help. It is very easy to contribute. Donations of non-perishable foods can be dropped off at the Cook County Food Shelf at the First Congregational Church at Third Avenue and Second Street in Grand Marais.
Financial donations can be delivered to the church office on 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. If you want to call first to ensure the office is open to give a donation, call (218) 387-2113.
Checks may also be mailed to: Cook County Food Shelf, P.O. Box 95, Grand Marais, MN 55604.
If you want to volunteer time, there is always a task to be done—unloading deliveries, packing boxes, or helping with distribution. If you would like more information about volunteering, contact Bill or Gwen Lenz at (218) 387-9860.
Kids Plus coupon books are now available, with a new look and lots of new ways to save money while helping local youth programs.
The coupon books offer huge savings from 43 local businesses, and are available for $25 at Blue Water Cafe, Cook County Community Center, Grand Marais Pool, Great Gifts, Isak Hansen, Java Moose, Joynes Ben Franklin, and Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply.
What does the money raised from the sale of Cook County Kids Plus coupon books support? Kids Plus, Community Education and Extension share their resources to provide opportunities for youth throughout the county.
Programs include Out of School Adventures, Enrichment Programs that supplement and support student learning outside of the school setting, Summer Kids Camp, and the Incredible Exchange.
Incredible Exchange is a mentorship program for kids ages 11-14. Youth are paired with adult mentors in beginning “work” situations. Youth volunteer in exchange for a local recreational opportunity such as a ski pass or music lessons.
The Incredible Internship is a mentorship program for ages 15-18 that is an expansion of the Incredible Exchange program but also includes building skills such as writing a resume and interviewing for a position. Youth Development opportunities include leadership training and addressing relevant topics by bringing in speakers and performers.
Various community events such as the Easter Egg Hunt, the Halloween Event, and youth movies at Arrowhead Center for the Arts are also sponsored by Kids Plus.