The following content was contributed by Cook County News Herald

American Civil War presentation at Grand Marais Library March 6

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 2:22pm

Arn Kind of Historical Experiences will visit the Grand Marais Public Library at 6 p.m. March 6 to present an interactive program about Minnesota’s involvement in the American Civil War.

A very important part of Arn's presentations are the artifacts, uniforms and equipment that participants are allowed to observe, handle, and interact with as part of their hands-on experience in living the history.

Kind is a member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a reenactment group based out of Fort Snelling. Because this group is noted for its authenticity, it has appeared in many documentaries and historical feature films such as The Blue and the Gray, North & South, Glory, Gettysburg, Dances With Wolves, and Gods and Generals. Kind will bring this authenticity to his presentation.

The program is sponsored by Arrowhead Library System and funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

For more information, contact Patsy at the library, (218) 387-1140.

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

Birch Grove Community Center offers Go4Life fitness classes

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 8:55am

West End seniors have been enjoying winter by increasing attendance at the Birch Grove Community Center Go4Life fitness classes on Monday and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and lunch Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Go4Life is a National Institute of Aging and National Institute of Health program.  It offers supportive educational material and focuses on balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility. 

Birch Grove Foundation Director Caroline Wood leads the classes and offers individual consultations if participants have questions or concerns.  Participants can also have a free online personal trainer.  To learn more visit go4life.nia.nih.gov website or contact Caroline at the community center at 218-663-7977 or email bgf@boreal.org.

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

EDA hears report on affordable housing needs

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 8:53am

Although the consultant gathering information on the affordable housing situation in Cook County had a somewhat dismal report of low wages and high housing prices he also said, “I don’t want to be too negative.”

Consultant Steve Greisert of Community Resource Partnership (CRP) gave the update over the phone at the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting on February 10, 2015. Before he started, Greisert said he had visited a lot of towns that have a lot to offer—a lake or some trees or something to do—but Cook County “has it all.”

Greisert said the only thing Cook County is lacking is affordable housing.

Greisert shared some demographic research, noting that in 2010, Grand Marais lost 21 families. He said that is kind of a “red flag.” He also said only about 1 in 8 households have parents and kids. According to the census, 44 percent of the households are single-person residences. He said that likely means there are a lot of senior citizens instead of families. However, he added, that could mean a housing turnover in 10-15 years.

For now though it is a problem, especially added to the fact that wages in Cook County are low compared the state median. Another problem is that existing housing sale prices are high.

Greisert said by looking at building permits in the county, there has been significant construction, but it is primarily vacation properties. He said for households making less than $25,000 he could only find one property in that range.

EDA Board Member Hal Greenwood said one of the big problems in the county was lending issues. He said in rural areas it is difficult to find comparable sales.

Greisert agreed and said he addresses lending in his recommendations. CRP came up with nine recommendations for the county and he went through some of the strategies, such as improving first time home buyer assistance and down payment assistance; finding buildable sites and developing them; purchasing and redeveloping dilapidated homes; possibly doing some small home construction; allowing mixed use (commercial and residential) developments; and more.

Greisert said one strategy the city and county need to consider is loosening some building regulations. “We have to protect the scenic and natural resources of this area, but we need to think outside the box to be able to build affordable housing.”

Commissioner and EDA Board Member Heidi Doo-Kirk asked Greisert if there were any benchmarks that “jumped out” at him. He said one issue is that the county’s major source of jobs is tourism, which are generally lower paying, especially compared to some place like Rochester, where jobs are primarily in healthcare. He also said in Cook County, there are no “starter” homes.

EDA Chair Howard Hedstrom asked about the rental situation in the county. Small Business Development Center representative Pat Campanaro said the EDA housing committee, which worked with Greisert, had discussed rental assistance. One of the CRP recommendations is increasing this rental assistance in Cook County.

Greisert provided a written report and encouraged the EDA to review it. He said the EDA and county may or may not like all of the recommendations, but said “It gives a foundation to start from.”

The EDA housing committee will continue to meet to discuss the strategies. The committee is also going through the recent online housing survey results which received 306 responses. The committee currently meets on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Grand Marais City Hall.

Hedstrom said he hopes the housing committee is engaged in the Cook County Land Use Guide Plan update. He said that is very important to the EDA as it attempts to build some housing. Hedstrom said nothing will happen without changes to the county’s attitude. Hedstrom said, “We need a change to an attitude of ‘How can we help you get this project done?’”

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

The following content was contributed by WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Grand Marais Art Colony prepares for spring and beyond

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 2:16pm

As the spring season approaches, the Grand Marais Art Colony is gearing up for new classes as well as planning for summer and fall events. WTIP volunteer Tracy Benson spoke with Ruth Pszwaro of the Grand Marais Art Colony on North Shore Morning.
 
 

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New MnDOT radio towers not yet a done deal

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 9:36am

At next Tuesday’s County Board meeting, March 10, key users of the ARMER emergency communications system will fill in the commissioners on how the radio system works and what coverage is needed…including discussion of controversial tower size and placement. WTIPs Jay Andersen spoke with county IT director Rena Rogers.

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'Music from the Tip O' the Arrowhead' exhibit debuts in May

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:38pm

"Music from the Tip O’ the Arrowhead" is a new Historical Society exhibit featuring historical as well as current local music in our area. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning spoke with Carrie McHugh of the Cook County Historical Society about this exhibit on North Shore Morning.

(Photo courtesy of Cook County Historical Society)
 

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