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News and other information from Cook County

North Shore state parks offer free admission on 'Black Friday'

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 9:47am

Minnesota state parks will be open and free to enter on Friday, Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, as part of a promotion to get people outdoors around the holidays. WTIP News Reporter Joe Friedrichs takes a closer look at ‘Free Park Friday.’


FISH Project results show most women have safe mercury levels

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 6:52am

On Tuesday of this week, The Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and Grand Portage Health Service in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Health held a public information meeting on the FISH Project. FISH stands for Fish are Important to Superior Health. It’s the completion of a study of North Shore women of child bearing age.

The meeting highlighted community results of the study and will be repeated in Grand Portage tonight starting at 5:30 p.m.
Recently research has found that a large percentage of infants born along the North Shore have elevated levels of mercury in their systems. From May of last year through June of this year, 499 women between the ages of 16 and 50 who live in or near Grand Portage and Grand Marais participated in the study.

The results show most of the FISH participants had low levels of mercury, though slightly above the U.S. and Canadian averages. Three percent of the participants had levels above what is considered safe for a developing fetus. All of those with the higher level of mercury reported eating more fish than recommended in the department of health’s guidelines.

The guidelines recommend one meal per month of lake trout or walleye, as well as canned tuna. Not everyone who ate more than the recommendations had high mercury levels, because the levels in fish vary lake to lake as well as different people may handle mercury differently.

The good news from the study is that an omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA in the FISH participants was higher than the national average and that the overwhelming majority of these women had mercury levels below the unsafe level. That means women can get enough of the beneficial DHA while keeping their mercury levels low.

DHA is important for brain and eye development in a fetus. The take away for women of child bearing age is eating one to two fish meals per week of fish low in mercury can be beneficial to developing babies.


Grand Marais Mayor announces essay contest to see who will light the city Christmas tree

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 10:52am

Hey kids – do you want to light the city’s Christmas tree?
Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux has announced an essay contest for all school students, answering the question, “Why do you look forward to the holidays?” Submissions should be between 100 and 300 words, and sent to the mayor at:

The city’s Christmas tree is set up in Harbor Park and prepared the week before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26). The giant evergreen is traditionally officially lit by the mayor as part of the festivities that include the annual holiday parade. However, Arrowsmith DeCoux said he will be out of town for the event, and has offered the opportunity to all school students who will be available on the evening of Nov. 27.

The mayor encouraged those who wish to enter the contest to tell a short story and to be clever. “I like to see how smart our young folks are!” he said.

Entries must be received at City Hall or e-mailed to the mayor by Friday, Nov. 20.

Besides winning the honor of lighting the tree, the writer of the essay judged the best will receive a copy of the proclamation declaring him or her the official tree lighter of 2015.


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

Cook County Historical Society announces matching donation opportunity

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 10:50am

The Cook County Historical Society announces a wonderful opportunity for residents to double their donations to save and preserve the county’s oldest buildings.

An anonymous donor will match up to $20,000 of donations paid and pledges made before the end of this year. With three buildings on the National Register of Historic Places—each with their own needs—the historical society asks you to consider taking advantage of the opportunity.

The three structures are each over 100 years old, and include:

 * St. Francis Xavier (Chippewa City) Church, built in 1895, served the once-thriving community of Chippewa City. The site consists of about 1.25 acres and has great potential for future interpretation, however the priority is to stabilize and restore the beautiful historic church. Potentially costs for this work might soar to $200,000 with significant concerns about structure, log integrity, and foundation.

 * Lighthouse keeper’s residence (Cook County Museum) was built in 1896, served the U.S. Light Keepers and later the Coast Guard before becoming the museum in 1966. The museum offers exhibits and serves as the historic collections storage facility. As such, it requires upgrades that ensure proper storage and display of artifacts. Preserving the original character of this beautiful house is the society’s mission and work on the original oak staircase will soon be needed.

 * The Bally Blacksmith Shop was built in 1911 and served Cook County’s industries and people for decades. This recent acquisition in the heart of Grand Marais will soon be open regularly to visitors.

All donations to the Cook County Historical Society are tax deductible. Send donations to the Cook County Historical Society, P.O. Box 1293, Grand Marais, MN 55604. Call (218) 387-2883 for more information.


Park Board sets Recreation Park rates for 2016

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 5:12pm

Rates in the Grand Marais Recreational Park campground will go up in 2016, but the Grand Marais Park Board opted to keep the increases somewhat moderate. Parks Manager Dave Tersteeg presented several options for 2016 rate increases for the park board to consider at the November 4 meeting.

At the board’s October meeting there was agreement among board members to maximize revenues from the park to help keep city taxes lower and to generate more income to continue reinvesting in the campground.

Tersteeg presented 2015 comparisons between standard RV hook-up sites (spots without a lake view) that are rented nightly versus monthly, and lakeside sites that are either rented nightly or by the month.

Tersteeg said nightly rates for lakeside sites are 20 percent higher than nightly rates for standard sites, but despite the higher rate, these sites have the highest occupancy for both tent and RVs.

But the biggest difference in park income came when front row sites (those closest to the lake) were rented nightly compared to monthly. Front row nightly rentals took in $6,550 per year versus $3,478 per year when put on the monthly rate schedule.

Tersteeg said, “Lakeside and front row monthly sites are under-performing when compared to their monthly counterparts.

Tersteeg suggested raising the six front row sites to $4,600 for the year including on-site storage.

Park Board Member Reid Dushek argued that the six long time renters felt they had been promised the sites as long as they wanted them by past park boards.

Dave Mills, a park board member and city councilor disagreed and said, “This is a campground, not an RV Park. We have to get the best value and realize the potential for each of these sites.”

Lutsen pilots new communication equipment in rescue truck

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 5:05pm

In his monthly report on October 20, Fire Chief Paul Goettl said the Lutsen Fire Department now has a dispatch computer installed in its rescue truck. Goettl explained that this is the same type of computer communication set-up that the Cook County Sheriff Deputies have in squad cars. It provides GPS and mapping information to the fire department during emergency calls.

“We are kind of the ‘guinea pigs’ for this,” said Goettl. “If it works for us, if it is determined there is value for the fire department, these may become standard equipment.”

Supervisor Andrew Beavers asked if the equipment for the pilot program was donated or if there is a cost to Lutsen. Goettl said the computer was donated. There were some installation costs and there is a monthly charge for the air card for mobile service. Goettl said members of the fire department and rescue squad were excited about trying out the new technology.

“It’s new to us, but the deputies have used it for years and like it,” he said.

After the meeting, Fire Chief Goettl gave supervisors a look at the computer in the rescue squad truck.


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