Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Cook County Broadband Commission continues its work

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 3:37pm

The Cook County Broadband Commission (CCBC) continues to work to find public access “hot” spots,” to establish co-working facilities for community members and visitors and to enable the use of teleconferencing in the county. The work to date has been funded by a Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities grant from the Blandin Foundation. At the Tuesday, October 27, county board meeting, Broadband Commission Chair Bob Pranis asked if the county would pay $700 for one member of the broadband commission to attend a Blandin Foundation Broadband Conference in November.

The county board seemed agreeable, noting that this was valuable training and a networking opportunity, but questioned whether this fit in the county’s travel reimbursement policy. The request was tabled until the Nov. 10 meeting so it can be determined where the funds for the request would come from.

The county board approved a similar request in 2014 from then-Broadband Commission Chair Paul Harvey for up to $750 toward the Blandin Foundation Broadband Commission Conference in Brainerd in November 2014.

In June 2015, Pranis came before the county board with two requests. The first was to ask the county to act as CCBC’s fiscal agent if it is awarded a grant from the Blandin Foundation and the second was to ask approval to be listed as one of the potential sources for funding the match to the grant.

Pranis explained that in 2008, Cook County was selected by the Blandin Foundation to receive the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities Grants of $100,000. He said that grant enabled the CCBC to implement a wide range of projects related to broadband that are still active in the community.

Another grant is now available, He said, up to $25,000 with a match of 25 percent or $8,500.

Cook County earns many "Best of the Lake" honors

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 3:35pm

Residents and visitors to Grand Marais have been delighted to become famous as the “Coolest Small Town in America,” according to Budget Travel magazine. Now another—more local—publication has cast acclaim on several special places in Cook County. Lake Superior Magazine announced its annual “Best of the Lake” contest in September 2015.

The magazine asks readers in Minnesota, Ontario, Michigan and Wisconsin to vote for their favorites in 12 different categories from Best Restaurant to Best Beach. Cook County had many “winners” and at least a “runner-up” in each category in Minnesota.

Lake Superior Magazine expressed thanks to the more than 650 print magazine readers, website followers and fans of area establishments who cast their votes by mail or online.

Some local establishments, like historic Naniboujou Lodge in Hovland were recognized more than once. Naniboujou was declared the Best Restaurant and the Best Resort/Hotel.

Another Hovland landmark, the Judge C.R. Magney State Park—home to the Devil’s Kettle on the Brule River—received recognition in both the Best Campground and Best Park categories.
The top vote getters are noted with a *. Arrowhead area honorees are:

Best Restaurant

* Naniboujou Lodge & Restaurant, Hovland

Angry Trout Café, Grand Marais

Best campground

* Grand Marais Campground & Marina
Judge C.R. Magney State Park

Best pizza

* Sven & Ole’s, Grand Marais

Best Resort/hotel/motel

* Naniboujou Lodge & Restaurant, Grand Marais

Best weekend destination

* Grand Marais

Best Park

* Gooseberry Falls State Park
Judge C.R. Magney State Park

Final Polymet environmental impact study released

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 2:06pm

The final environmental review for Minnesota’s proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine says wastewater from the project would have to be treated indefinitely to prevent pollution, the Associated Press reports.

The 3,500-page document released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also says developers would have to put up money to make sure that all cleanup costs are covered after the mine closes. The exact amount and form of those financial assurances would be determined during any the permitting process.


In what is perhaps most noteworthy to residents in Cook County and the surrounding region, the document also says mine runoff would not reach the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Voyageurs National Park.


The release of the report by the DNR starts a 30-day public comment period. The agency will determine early next year whether the review is adequate. Then the company can start applying for permits.


PolyMet proposes to develop an open-pit mine and processing facilities for the extraction of copper, nickel and platinum elements, with an estimated 20-year lifespan for mine operations.


“The co-lead agencies have brought the highest level of rigor and objectivity to the NorthMet environmental review,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Our responsibility is to conduct a neutral evaluation based on information from the company, our own analysis, and the comments we receive. The process has been thoughtful, independent and thorough.”

View more news from WTIP

American Legion Auxiliary collecting winter clothing for homeless veterans

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:41am

Between now and Veterans Day, the American Legion Post 413 Auxiliary is once again collecting warm clothing for Help-A-Vet, a Minneapolis group formed to deal with the growing number of homeless veterans in the Twin Cities.

Auxiliary member Nancy Backlund, who learned that the shelter system in the Twin Cities is chronically short of beds and that many veterans end up sleeping outside, no matter how cold the weather, organized the inaugural clothing. The Auxiliary, whose mission is to serve our nation’s veterans wanted to do something to help.

Last year’s collection was very successful and the Auxiliary hopes to once again gather as much warm clothing and other supplies as possible.

The Help-A-Vet program began with donations of quilts to homeless veterans, but perhaps more important are donations of warm clothing and cold-weather gear. Help-A-Vet is seeking items such as winter boots and coats, socks, long johns, hooded sweatshirts, new men’s underwear, backpacks, travel-sized toiletries, backpacks and sleeping bags.

If you would like to help Post 413 Legion Auxiliary collect these necessary warm weather items, simply bring them to the American Legion lounge in Grand Marais. If you would like more information, please contact Nancy Backlund at (218) 387-1798.

If you would like to learn more about Help-A-Vet, visit

Hovland community turns out with concerns about proposed wayside rest

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:40am

About 50 people gathered at the Hovland Town Hall on Wednesday, October 28 to learn more about a proposal to develop a Highway 61 wayside rest near the historic Chicago Bay dock. The meeting lasted over two hours and gave Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) planners plenty to ponder.

Andy Hubley of ARDC said the project is being spearheaded by the North Shore Scenic Drive Council (NSSDC), which has received federal funding for wayside rests. Hubley said that doesn’t mean the council wants to construct a large rest area in Hovland like the ones at Beaver Bay or Tettegouche State Park. Hubley said after the meeting the planners would consider comments, make changes based on those comments and would then make a recommendation to the NSSDC. “They will decide whether or not to pursue the project,” said Hubley.

Hubley introduced Carlos “C.J.” Fernandez, the landscape architect who has been working on the plans for improvements at the Hovland dock area. Fernandez reiterated that the decision to proceed would be made by the NSSDC. He noted that it would take a long time for any project to be funded, and once funding is obtained, more public input is sought. Hubley added that because the county, not the NSSDC, owns the property, it would have the final say in any plan.

Fernandez shared pictures of two wayside rest areas that he had been involved with, the Father Baraga Cross park in Schroeder and the Tofte Town Park. He said there were similarities between those places—they too were stops on the steamship route along the North Shore. However, he said, nowhere else on the North Shore is there a dock of that era still above water. That is what makes the Hovland project so unique, said Fernandez.

Sen. Franken to introduce "stalking app" bill

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 8:30am

If you think you’re being stalked, followed or otherwise having your privacy intruded upon, you’re not paranoid -- you could be right. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Al Franken about “stalking apps.”