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News and other information from Cook County

Harbor House Grille recognized for great waterfront dining

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 8:51am

Hot and trendy has named Harbor House Grille in Grand Marais as one of the 15 best waterfront bars and restaurants in Minnesota.

 “Sip on a variety of local craft beers, one of your favorite microbrews, or choose from one of their specialty cocktails and enjoy the sights of the scenic North Shore,” wrote Thrillist author Keane Amdahl. “They also have a variety of made-from-scratch entrée options which make this a great waterfront getaway destination.”

Harbor House chef/owner Ed Straub and his wife/co-owner Cindy take great care to offer top notch food and provide a comfortable dining experience for their patrons.

Harbor House Grille serves American fare: handcrafted burgers, home made soups, sandwiches, salads and deserts, all influenced by Ed’s creative cooking flare.

Some of the other establishments joining Harbor House on the ThrillList include: Tin Fish on Lake Calhoun; the Boat House on the banks of the Mississippi river in Southern Minnesota; Bread & Pickle on Lake Harriet; Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge on Lake Minnetonka; the Moonlite Bay on Cross Lake; 6Smith in Wayzata; Admiral D’s on White Bear Lake; Grandma’s Saloon & Grill in Duluth; and Sandcastle on Lake Nokomis.

ThrillList began in 2003 as an email newsletter in New York that highlighted bar and restaurant openings. Not long after it expanded to LA, Chicago, and San Francisco before it went global.

Today the online magazine touts cities, food and drink, travel, recipes and features trendy online shopping aimed largely at millennials.

Plans to develop senior housing in Tofte may have to wait

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 8:49am

Tofte supervisors were disheartened to learn that Minnesota lawmakers failed to pass the Omnibus Jobs and Economic Development Budget bill in the state’s special legislative session. Folded into that bill was language that would have given the township special housing authority powers for the senior housing project the town is hoping to build behind the Birch Grove Community Center.

Contacted this week, Tofte Supervisor Jeanne Larson said, “We [the township supervisors] are going to meet on Thursday, June 18 to discuss how we are going to proceed.”

Larson is the board’s liaison to the senior housing project.

For now the contractor, Dynamic Homes, has been told to hold off on building the 12 homes.

To date, a well has been drilled and some land cleared, but all work will halt until supervisors can figure out what to do next.

Larson said, “We have been tasked with two things, to keep the rent affordable and to minimize the risk to the Tofte community. The most prudent thing for us to do might be to wait until this bill goes through next year. But right now I don’t know what we will do.”


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

WTIP Weekend News Roundup for June 20

Sat, 06/20/2015 - 10:44am

Prescribed burns, a mining decision appealed, a BWCAW case settled and musher concern about an Alaska fire…all this and more in the week’s news.


Leave lady's slippers alone

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 2:57pm

The pink lady’s slipper is a beloved sight in the Northland. Places where the wild orchards grow are well-kept secrets, more closely guarded than a favorite fishing spot or blueberry patch. Sadly, a bed of lady’s slippers at Cascade River State Park has been destroyed.

Photographer Paul Sundberg of Grand Marais has returned to the state park for years to capture the rare flower in bloom. To Sundberg’s dismay, last week when he went to get pictures of this year’s blossoms, they were gone. Someone had dug them up.

The saddest thing is the flowers likely won’t survive being transplanted. In order to survive and reproduce, the pink lady's slipper interacts with a fungus in the soil not commonly found.

Not only does attempting to transplant lady’s slippers destroy a beautiful plant, since 1925, the wildflower has been protected by Minnesota state law. It is illegal to pick the flowers or to uproot or unearth them.

If someone really wants to try to grow lady’s slippers, they can be purchased from a nursery that specializes in native plants. If you purchase one, keep in mind that they need just the right conditions to grow successfully, replicating their natural habitat as closely as possible. They can be an expensive plant to purchase.

If you want to learn more about Minnesota orchids, the DNR recommends Orchids of Minnesota by Welby Smith, published by the University of Minnesota Press.


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

Grand Marais Planning Commission to consider residential space in business park

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 2:56pm

At the June 10 Grand Marais city council meeting, Planning commission member Tim Kennedy reported that the planning commission is interested in moving forward with a zoning change that would allow “accessory residential use” on six unsold lots in the Cedar Grove Business Park, in other words, living space adjacent to or above a business. The request for a zoning change came from the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, which owns the lots, last year.

Kennedy said there is no action required by the city council at this time, but the planning commission has set July 1 as the date for a required public hearing on the matter.

After that public hearing, the city council will then act on the planning commission’s recommendation


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

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 19

Fri, 06/19/2015 - 10:51am

As the summer solstice checks in this weekend, more summer like conditions have taken over the Trail. We’ve had some splendid sunny days, and temps of both air and water are more suitable to the onslaught of visitors pouring into the territory. A reading of the lakeshore water at Wildersmith finds the mercury in the mid-sixties. So it won’t be long before a dip in the lake on a sticky day will feel pretty satisfying.

Several perennial wildflowers have popped open over the past few days. Most noteworthy are wild roses in many locations along back country roads. While deep in the forest, a number of digital recordings of our precious lady-slippers are being shared through cyberspace. And in areas of predominant sunshine, waves of forget-me-nots are twinkling sky-blue reflections.

On the lesser side of the blooming ledger, those colorful, but invasive, lupines are standing tall in their purple, pink and white spires. Knowing these are not the most welcome by people in the know about native flora, they are nevertheless a striking rainbow of luminance along our scenic byway. All this blooming glory is “Mother Nature” at her best!

North woods magic is seldom more delightful than twilight time on a clear sky morning. Not long ago, I was awakened early one tranquil morning and so enjoyed the privilege of observing the forest wake up. Daylight had broken, although “Sol” had not risen above the horizon,and still-hidden rays had chased the darkness. In spite of the brightening sky, lake water reflections lingered in a somber hue. The atmosphere stood dead silent. Neither leaf nor needle muttered a whisper, and ground level greenery hunkered motionless. Not a creature was stirring until the particular moment when the first beams of sun ascended the granite horizon near due east. Those piercing spears of brightness suddenly turned on the switch. A subtle, but swift burst of warmth engulfed day-break over Gunflint Lake. Almost on cue, solar energy heated the air, causing whiffs of movement. Ripples abruptly wrinkled our mirror-like liquid and on shore, foliage began to tremble. Within minutes, this day-star was fully exposed. Its radiance began to pass through a zillion minute openings in the border country canopy. As the whisper of air amplified, like twinkling lights, glitter bounced off uncountable dew-laden wilderness remnants and flashes of brilliance wiggled along the fiber network of third shift arachnids. Splashes from this great luminary grew more prominent and in their warmth, buzzing critters started swarming about. In moments, the first hummingbird darted by the window on its way to our nectar station. Soon to follow, the larger avian chimed in with their welcoming interlude and not minutes later, the first of many red rodents in our yard traversed the deck rail in search of a breakfast morsel. The day was open for business!

Speaking of buzzing critters, during our mid-day sunshine, as are others, this neighborhood is unbelievably alive with the hum of uncountable insects. They‘re feasting on either the abundant blossom nectar, or searching for some poor soul from which they might withdraw a little blood. If one is attired in proper bug protection, standing out among them catching a listen to this diverse murmur is quite the buzz (no pun intended).

In another moose sighting, a couple residing up near the end of the Trail mentioned one of those rare experiences last weekend. They came upon a Momma and her calf. This is not too unusual except that this little one was still wet behind the ears so to speak, and gawkily unstable as it tried to keep up with Mom. One would have to assume this was a newborn, not long out of the womb. What a joyous experience for not only the observers but also for the new Mother.

In closing this week, a big thumbs up to the organizers of the Boundary Waters Expo. I was there for the opening hours on Friday and have heard many complimentary comments about the entire weekend of activities.

If you didn’t get to the big “shrimp boil” put on by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society last Sunday you missed a feast of awesome proportions. Thanks to all the Gunflint Community for their help in putting on this swell gathering. I noticed several neighboring residents departing the event in a bloated state having made numerous passes along the scrumptious serving trough!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a Gunflint day on the Trail!