Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Boreal welcomes a season of change in fall 2016

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 7:29am

Boreal Community Media a local nonprofit that most Cook County residents associate with two words: The Internet. Boreal has provided a range of services to northeastern Minnesota over the past two decades, including providing Internet and email access, posting classified ads, news content and designing web pages for local businesses. And there are some changes coming to Boreal this fall, including a new location for the business and a new Boreal website. 

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with staff from Boreal about these changes.


Fall could arrive as frost in the area this week

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 6:19am

The leaves are just barely starting to turn, but fall could come with a first frost mid-week.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson about the autumn onset.


Trial date set for Tofte shooter Bigby

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 3:11pm

A trial date has been set for the man accused of murdering a blackjack dealer during a holiday Christmas party at Bluefin Bay Resort last December.

The trial in the case of Kirk Lee Bigby is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 in the Cook County Courthouse. Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken said the trial could last five to seven days. A pre-trial date is set for Jan. 6. The announcements came during a delayed omnibus hearing that was held Monday, Sept. 12 in Grand Marais.

This was Bigby’s fifth court appearance in Cook County since the shooting took place in the early morning of Dec. 9. He was arrested for shooting and killing 35-year old Marcus Lee Roberts, a resident of Bloomington. Monday’s courtroom proceedings in the Bigby case lasted approximately 15 minutes.

At this point, it appears Bigby will continue his plea of not guilty by reason of self-defense. However, more evidence is still being processed, so no official plea will be issued until the final omnibus hearing which is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Duluth-based Judge Eric Hylden agreed to postpone the hearing until all of the DNA evidence is available in the case. Both Hicken and Public Defender Brent Olson agreed forensics in the case are still being processed. However, Hylden took a firm stance that all evidence needs to be submitted prior to the Oct. 21 hearing and explained his frustrations that such evidence gathering was not yet complete. By the pre-trial date of Jan. 6, Judge Hylden made it very clear any potential delays with a jury pool or evidence submission need to be sorted out.

And so it will likely be up to a jury to determine the fate of Bigby. In August, the Cook County Attorney's Office added an unintentional second-degree murder charge against Bigby. This charge is supplemental to the intentional second-degree murder charge he has faced since the day after the shooting last December.

Grand Marais Art Colony Plein Air begins today

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 12:26pm

The Grand Marais Art Colony Plein Air event began today with a lunchtime artist talk with Sue Wipf, an award-winning plein air painter. Look for artists taking part in the plein air event all over the county this week and consider checking out the exhibits.

On Tuesday - Wednesday, Sept 13-14 from 1 – 4 p.m. see some of the first paintings of the week on display at the Grand Marais Art Colony as part of the “Red Suspender Competition.”

On Thursday, Sept 15 from 4 - 5:30 p.m., head out to The Point to watch the Quick Paint competition.

On Friday, September 16, at 11 a.m. there will be a Juror Lecture with Dan Wiemer at the Art Colony and that evening the exhibit opens with a reception at Johnson Heritage Post from 5 – 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Sept 17 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Hazel Belvo will guide a discussion on art viewing. The Art of Seeing with Hazel Belvo will be at the Johnson Heritage Post. There is a $5 suggested donation.

The Plein Air Open Class Exhibit will open for display at the Grand Marais Art Colony and Johnson Heritage Post at noon on September 17. The plein air works will be on display until November 13.


Grand Portage band member responds to federal government’s intervention at Standing Rock

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 11:41am

Dana Logan is a Grand Portage band member who recently visited the protector camps near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Dana about her trip to North Dakota and about the reaction to the Obama Administration taking action Sept. 9 to at least temporarily halt continued construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. 


North Shore Health Care Center celebrates September birthdays

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 10:21am

The monthly birthday party at the North Shore Health Care Center will be held on September 14 at 3:00 p.m. to honor several residents that celebrate birthdays in September. Those residents are Bernice LeGarde, Helene Smith, Audrey Pollock, Sweeney Croft, and Marcy Podas. There will be plenty of cake and ice cream along with favorite piano tunes by Doug Sanders.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at North Shore Health Care Center or to check out the September calendar of events, visit: or call the Activity Department at 387-3518.

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



Forum at North House to focus on affordable housing

Mon, 09/12/2016 - 5:16am

Minnesota Housing Finance Agency is an organization that works to create connections and partnerships with the communities, organizations, and agencies throughout the state that are working on critical community issues such as housing.

The group is to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access the essential ingredients for economic and social success: affordable housing, transportation choices, good schools, strong social networks, and access to healthy places.

Margaret Kaplan is the Minnesota Housing Community Development Director. Margaret will be in Grand Marais on Monday, Sept. 19th as part of an open forum held at North House Folk School focusing on specific affordable housing needs in communities in Cook County and along the North Shore. 

In addition to staff from Minnesota housing, representatives from USDA Rural Development, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will be on hand. That event begins at 10 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m. in the Red building at North House. 

Listen to audio below to hear an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs and Kaplan as they discuss the issue of affordable housing in Cook County. 


"Do good" in recognition of 9/11, Patriot Day

Sun, 09/11/2016 - 4:44pm

On the 15th anniversary of the tragic terror attack that killed 2,977 men, women and children in New York City, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Cook County News-Herald joins the rest of the nation in remembrance.

To honor those victims, Americans are encouraged to “do good.” Volunteer, sign up to give blood, thank a service member, a policeman or firefighter, fly the flag, plant a tree, take a moment of quiet reflections, and tell your friends and family you love them.


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


City considers 5.49 percent levy increase

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 2:17pm

The council did not have to make an immediate decision on its 2017 levy, so there was discussion only. Administrator Roth presented a preliminary levy with an increase of 5.49 percent, from $871,865 in 2016 to $919,769 in 2017. The council noted the preliminary levy funds all of the immediate capital outlay requests from city departments. Although department requests were met and the public works facility is funded, Roth said no funds are earmarked for a new liquor store, city hall—or a topic of frequent council discussions—public restrooms.

Roth said, “The question is, how fast do you want to do all these projects?”

Roth suggested that the council might want to add an additional small increase, such as 2 percent. He said if you add a little to the levy each time, the burden to taxpayers is more easily absorbed.

Councilor David Mills agreed. He said that was one of his concerns that one year the city would need to drastically increase its levy by 10 percent or more to cover operations.

Councilor Tim Kennedy said he would like to know if there is something the departments need that should be added. “This is the time to discuss that,” he said.

Roth agreed, but added, “There is always a wish list.”

Councilors agreed to wait until the next meeting on September 14 to make a decision on the levy amount.

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




Superior National Golf Pro to complete 100 holes of golf on Patriot Golf Day, Sept. 11

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 2:13pm

Superior National at Lutsen golf pro Heath Ekstrom loves to play golf, but even his love of the game will be tested on September 11 when he attempts to play 100 holes in 24 hours.

“It’s a lot of golf but it’s for a good purpose,” Ekstrom said, adding he probably hasn’t played a total of 100 rounds this summer.

And if the weather holds up and Ekstrom holds up, he may even play more than 100 holes!

“I have timed myself and I can play 9 holes of golf in 45 minutes if the course is clear. That’s if everything goes all right. The day I play I will have to complete 12 plus rounds to make my goal of 100 holes. My cart is going to be decked out with American flags and golfers on the course will be notified about what I am attempting to do and hopefully they will let me play through,” he said.

Ekstrom is taking part in Patriot Golf Day, a nationwide fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships for spouses and children of military members who have been disabled or killed while serving the country.

“I will be playing to honor George Nelson Jr., who gifted the land to Cook County that Superior National at Lutsen stands on,” said Ekstrom. “George was a World War ll veteran and a 10th Mountain Division specialist. I have wanted to honor him for what he has done for this golf course and for our community and this seemed like the perfect tribute.”

As the biggest fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation, Patriot Golf Day has raised more than $17 million in the last seven years and that has meant they could grant more than 5,000 scholarships.

Weekend News Roundup for September 10

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

Each week the WTIP news staff compiles a review of news from the previous five days. The EPA funds further research on Great Lakes. They’re still talking about a special session. And, what might a 1/2% increase in the sales tax buy the highway department? All this and more in the week’s news.



Art and wine come together at Plein Air event

Fri, 09/09/2016 - 10:25am

North Shore Winery (NSW) and Last Chance Studio and Gallery (Last Chance) have announced a new business collaboration to combine wine and art in Lutsen.

A special event will be held during the Grand Marais Art Colony’s Plein Air art day at Lutsen Mountains on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 4 to 7 p.m.

The new venture provides another location for Last Chance artists to display and sell works of art in the winery tasting room and on the surrounding property. Last Chance has installed a rotating display of paintings that reflects the beauty of the North Shore in the tasting room. Large format art sculptures created by sculptor Tom Christiansen have been installed on the winery property.

“We have been busy creating a special space for North Shore visitors and locals to relax and enjoy our wine and ciders,” said Chuck Corliss, NSW owner and winemaker. “We look forward to this special event so our guests can enjoy the ambiance of our tasting room and outside seating areas with the enhancement of these beautiful and sometimes whimsical art installations.”

The September 10 event includes art, music, and food. During the event, a local artist will demonstrate plein air painting.  “We are delighted to pair our paintings and sculptures with the beautiful wines and cider created by the North Shore Winery,” said Marcia Hyatt, co-owner of Last Chance Studio and Gallery. “Visitors to the winery are invited to visit our gallery location in downtown Lutsen to see more art pieces.”

The winery and tasting room, located on Ski Hill Road in Lutsen, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The tasting room offers a flight of tastings for a fee along with carafe, glass, and bottle purchases of wine and hard cider. The tasting room also offers a selection of Minnesota crafted cheeses and cured meats to enjoy while visiting the winery.

Radio Waves weather will be cool and pleasant

Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:59am

Radio Waves weekend will be a little cooler, humidity will be less but there are some showers in the forecast.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Carol Christenson about the musical weekend.


Sutter Brothers offer music and humor at Grand Marais Library program Sept. 9

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:11pm

Join the Sutter Brothers as they present the landscape, critters, and quirky characters of northern Minnesota through songs and stories, poetry and music, at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Grand Marais Public Library.

Best known for his baritone voice, Ross Sutter plays an impressive array of instruments: guitar, button accordion, dulcimer, and Irish drum. He has issued four CDs, won three fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and performed for A Prairie Home Companion.

The author of eight books, Bart Sutter is a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award and was named the first Poet Laureate of Duluth. He has written for Minnesota Public Radio and had three plays produced.

This 50-minute show runs the gamut from humor to heartache. The music ranges from songs of immigrant longing to their hilarious hit, “When the Smelt Buckets Are Loaded, I’m Coming Home to You.”

For more information about the library or upcoming programs, contact the library at (218) 387-1140.


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

Cook County Lodging Tax is up for 2016

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:10pm

An excellent indicator of the area’s economy is the lodging tax, and once again the countywide lodging tax is up from last year’s collections for the same time period.

Cook County Auditor/Treasurer Braidy Powers prepares the lodging tax and presents it to the county board each month.

June collections for the Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association (LTTA) tallied $59,924.24, up $900 over the June 2015 proceeds. Overall LTTA is 4 percent ahead of last year from January to June with a six-month collection totaling $255.267.23.

Grand Marais Area Tourism Association (GMATA) recorded $32,281.25 for June 2016, about $1,600 more than a very busy June 2015. Year-to-date shows a GMATA increase of 14.9 percent increase over last year with a six-month tally of $88,793.80.

June 2016 collections for the Gunflint Trail Association (GTA) were $15,286.31, a little more than $500 ahead of last June, an increase of 6.5 percent for the first half of the year, which totals  $39,840.86.


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