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Boreal Community Media

A Cook County Great Place Project Report

Oct 05, 2021 12:11PM ● By Editor
All photos submitted by Cook County Chamber of Commerce

From Cook County Chamber of Commerce - October 5, 2021

Although this summer has seen its share of horrors – drought, smoke, fire – it also was a summer of incredible creativity for groups and individuals who received 2021 Great Place Project grants from the Cook County Business and Civic Partnership – the philanthropic arm of the Cook County Chamber. The money to fund these grants was raised from several large private donations plus the proceeds from our annual canoe raffle.

As with life in general, several grant recipients encountered serious delays in receiving materials ordered for their projects. We hope to feature those later.

A number of projects were completed to stunning effect. For example, Chik-Wauk Museum & Nature Center at the end of the Gunflint Trail used its grant to commission five painted benches from Ojibwe artist and educator Sam Zimmerman of Duluth and Grand Portage. The benches have been installed along paths at Chik-Wauk for the ease of visitors. They are simply stunning, even more so when you are able to see them in their setting. Chik-Wauk is closing for the season on October 17 and these benches will be there to grace its trails and enthrall its visitors for years to come.


Another visually stunning project was the butterfly garden project of County Plumbing in Lutsen. Confronted with a need to control runoff and also provide additional parking, Tanya Miller and Tim Goettl at County Plumbing came up with the brilliant idea of a butterfly garden. When they received the grant, the lost no time in getting the butterfly garden installed. At one point, Tanya reported 30 Monarch butterfly caterpillars on the garden’s milkweed plants. The garden is a terrific addition to a busy business area in Lutsen.


Meanwhile nearby, Patricia and Chris Homyak at Lutsen’s Clearview General Store created a welcome park-like retreat by adding GPP picnic benches to the lawn beneath their splendid grove of spruce on both sides of Clearview. The Homyaks report that the benches received strong use by both visitors and local residents.

In Tofte, the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum, a project of the Tofte Historical Society, supports a series of signs, including one with an oral Voice of the Past,” along the Tofte lakewalk. The signs tell about the history of commercial fishing in the area. Two of the signs had become so damaged they were difficult to read, and the “Voices of the Past” needed a new battery. With a Great Place Project grant, the museum was able to effect repairs to both the signs and the “Voices.”


Up the road a piece near Caribou Trail, the crew at Isak Hansen Lumber and Home Center created a promising young garden out front that should grow into a magnificent addition. The garden was part of a much larger effort to improve the looks of the building, including a coat of paint. Overall, the effect was quite effective and welcoming.

At the YMCA in Grand Marais, the Great Place Project has contributed significantly to the play area for toddlers out front. In 2021, YMCA director Emily Marshall requested funds to add plantings that would make the area more pleasant. The youngsters were recruited to plant the seeds and watch them grow. Emily reported, “Our little people learned a lot and took great pride in picking out plants to plan in their "Great Place". They loved watering the flowers and plants and especially loved watching them grow and eating them for snack! Thank you so much for turning this into a great place.”


Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here