Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Events planned to commemorate International Day of Peace, Sept. 21

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:27am

September 21 has been designated as the International Day of Peace and the day is being commemorated with two events.

Kathleen Sullivan of Grand Marais explains that dedicating September 21 as a day of peace was created with a resolution from the United Nations in 2001. Citizens around the world are called to gather to promote the ideal of peace in our communities, countries and the world.

Sullivan has organized a “Gather for Peace” event on Wednesday evening, September 21 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Marais Rec Park in Grand Marais.

Sullivan said, “We will sing, share ideas, listen to some readings. Join us.”

Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland is also holding a gathering, an Offering of Music and Prayers featuring music by Jon Romer of Cass Lake and Bill Beckstrand of Hovland. The program will include Native American flute with Romer, piano with Beckstrand, and violin with Erika Ternes.

The program will feature traditional Native American pieces, spirituals and old-time hymns.

Romer, who received graduate and undergraduate degrees in music education, choral music and choral literature at Gustavus Adolphus College and at the University of Iowa, has spent much of his career integrating Native American music into the contemporary multicultural classroom.

Beckstrand, local composer and musician, widely known for his vocal and instrumental compositions, worked with Romer in the past and suggested that they perform together for this special gathering.

The Offering of Music and Prayers will be at 7 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland

Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Kris Garey said, “We join others around the world who pray for peace.”


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Changes proposed by Emergency Management for event coordinators

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:25am

Jim Wiinanen is retiring from his position as director of Cook County Emergency Management One of Wiinanen’s last duties included asking commissioners to require that any event permit application that comes to the county have an emergency action plan.

Wiinanen said, “Luck is not a plan.”

Wiinanen told commissioners, “All events face some hazards whether natural or human caused. Event organizers should take responsibility for emergencies that may happen during their event and think through and document their procedures to address risk reduction and emergency actions.”

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell suggested forming a temporary committee, which included officials from Grand Marais, the highway/police departments and private event organizers to make suggestions about what an emergency action plan should look like before the board passed a motion on the subject.

 Commissioner Moe agreed. Moe said, “Event planning has a way of wearing out volunteers. I would hope that if we put together a committee that we don’t make the rules too onerous for those who are putting on events.”


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at


Housing forum at North House builds framework for action

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:20am

Mary Tingerthal is the Commissioner for Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, an organization that strives for safe, decent and affordable housing across the state.

During a forum held Monday, Sept. 19 at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Tingerthal and about 50 other individuals talked on exactly that topic.

In addition to Commissioner Tingerthal, other staff from Minnesota housing, representatives from USDA Rural Development, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development participated in Monday’s forum. Also present were a number of local elected officials and staff from both city hall and Cook County.

Essentially the forum at North House was a planning session to discuss affordable housing and future development of Cook County. On that front, Tingerthal says the event was a complete success. 

Among the topics discussed during the forum were locations to build housing projects, a means to encourage housing developments and who will do the work. Tingerthal says there appears to be viable options with regard to both supply and demand for affordable housing projects in Cook County. Another topic that was addressed during Monday’s forum was that of affordable renting opportunities in the region.

Coming out of the forum, Tingerthal says the next steps for local agencies, elected officials and developers will be to secure funding opportunities and put ideas into action. 

Listen to audio of story, including interviews, below.


County hires new Emergency Management Director

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 4:02pm

At the Tuesday, September 13 county board meeting, commissioners approved hiring Valerie Marusco to replace Jim Wiinanen as the county’s new Emergency Management Director. Wiinanen is retiring at the end of this month.

Marasco is the Public Information Officer for the city of Thunder Bay and has worked with Cook County Emergency Services on training in the past.

The emergency management director position is a full time position with county benefits, starting at $25.71 per hour.

County Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk said, “Based on many, many years of working with Valerie I will make the motion to approve hiring her.”


 This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

County votes to hire Todd Smith as Assessor

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 4:01pm

Cook County Commissioners voted unanimously on September 13 to offer Assistant County Assessor Todd Smith the position of Assessor to replace Betty Schultz who resigned late spring and whose last day was June 24. 

Smith needs to complete Accredited Minnesota Assessor (AMA) credentialing, and will then become the new county assessor.  Smith will have two years to obtain his Senior Accredited Minnesota Assessor certification from the time of his appointment.

Commissioner Frank Moe said he was pleased to have Smith in the position. Moe said, “My interactions with him have been positive. I take great pleasure in recommending him for this position.”


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Lt. Gov. Smith talks affordable housing on visit to Cook County

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 11:27am

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited Grand Marais and Cook County Friday, Sept. 16 as part of the “87 Counties in 86 Days” tour that she and Governor Mark Dayton are doing this summer and fall across the state. 

Smith met with Cook County Chamber members and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic staff about their “Great Place Project.” After that Lt. Gov. Smith went to Voyager Brewing in Grand Marais to tour the facilities there. 

She sat down with Joe Friedrichs inside the WTIP studios to discuss that topic and her visit to the North Shore. 



The week starts out with nice fall weather

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 9:42am

There are a couple of nice days in store for us before it clouds over mid-week.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Stewart about comfortable, but breezy fall days.


Weekend News Roundup for September 17

Sat, 09/17/2016 - 10:31am

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. Shooting suspect back in court, a trial date is set. WTIP add staff to its news department. ‘Affordable’ housing does not appear so to some on the county board…all this and more in the week’s news


Owners discuss history and potential sale of historic Naniboujou Lodge

Fri, 09/16/2016 - 1:33pm

The historic Naniboujou Lodge and Restaurant along North Shore is up for sale. Owners Tim and Nancy Ramey are longtime Cook County residents and have been associated with the lodge for almost four decades.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently visited the historic lodge, which is located about 15 miles east of Grand Marais, to speak with the Rameys about the past, present and future of Naniboujou.


North Shore Housing & Community Dialogue at North House on Monday, Sept. 19

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 1:55pm

Community members interested in the housing situation in Cook and Lake counties are invited to attend the North Shore Housing & Community Dialogue on Monday, September 19 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Red Building at North House Folk School.

Representatives of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Minnesota Housing will be at this meeting, along with local and statewide stakeholders.

At the Tuesday, September 13 meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA), Director Mary Somnis said that representatives from the offices of Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Rick Nolan will also be on hand.

The purpose of the meeting is to engage a broad network of stakeholders for discussion about specific housing needs on the North Shore.

The event will start with introductions and information on housing trends, followed by a Local Perspectives panel at 11 a.m. The event continues after lunch with working sessions and wraps up with discussion of the next steps toward finding solutions.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director Mary Somnis at or 218-387-3112 by Friday, September 16.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Rhonda Silence to join WTIP news staff

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 12:30pm

Long time print editor Rhonda Silence is joining the WTIP North Shore Community Radio news staff. Most recently, Rhonda has edited the Cook County News Herald and prior to that, the Cook County Star. She has covered county news and events for over 15 years.

WTIP station manager Deb Benedict said, “It’s been part of our mission as a local radio station to improve our citizen’s access to information and involvement in community issues. We’re pleased to bring Rhonda on board to help us establish WTIP as a primary news resource.”

No stranger to WTIP, Rhonda has co-hosted many of the station’s election forums and election night coverage. She also has appeared weekly to review upcoming news and events published in the newspaper.

Rhonda said, “I am excited at the opportunity to expand my journalism skills into the multi media platform of WTIP and to join the staff that I have come to know.”

She will be joining the WTIP news team on October 10th.

Weekend weather begins to feel like fall

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 10:45am

It’s starting out to be a nice fall. Temperatures should be moderate over the weekend, maybe a little rain, but all-in-all good weather to wait for the leaves to turn.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Amanda Graning about the autumn onset.


Affordable housing discussed by county board

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 5:30am

The local Economic Development Authority obtained five county owned tax forfeit lots in the city of Grand Marais that will be the site of affordable housing projects.

The EDA obtained the lots for $8,400.

EDA Director Mary Somnis says the houses built on the property will range from $140,000 to $215,000.

Commissioner Garry Gamble says the issuing of affordable housing is an ongoing issue in Cook County and one that will not likely be solved easily or quickly.

On Monday, Sept. 19th there will be an open-house forum held at North House Folk School focusing on specific affordable housing needs in communities in Cook County and along the North Shore.   That event begins at 10 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m. in the Red building at North House.

Full audio for story on commissioners’ discussion about affordable housing found below. 



Do you want to be in pictures?

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 12:40pm

Want an inside look at movie making? Rushaway Pictures is filming scenes for its upcoming feature Virginia, Minnesota again today and they need extras.

Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Director Mary Somnis announced that the movie company will be shooting its big festival scene tonight, September 14 at 6 p.m. at the west end of Wisconsin Street.

The film company needs people milling around, walking down the street. Some extras will be in plain clothes and some will be provided costumes. 

Head downtown for your chance to be in pictures. As Somnis says, “Break a leg!”


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Empty Bowls Make-a-Bowl days scheduled

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:01am

The annual Empty Bowls dinner and silent auction will be held Nov. 10 at St. John’s Catholic Church in Grand Marais.

Those interested may help make bowls to donate to this event while learning the basics of pottery and fused glass. The Make-a-Bowl schedule has been changed this year and sessions are now condensed into two different weekends. The activities are open to all levels and ages; kids 6 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Make-a-Bowl: Clay will be held Sept. 17-18 and Oct. 15-16; Make-a-Bowl: Glass will be held Oct. 25-26; and Paint-a-Bowl will be held Oct. 29.

It is estimated that 12 percent of Cook County residents go hungry every month, and the Art Colony organizes the Empty Bowls event to address those needs.

For more information contact the Art Colony at (218) 387-2737.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at