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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


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Great Expectations

School News from Great Expectations: April 14

Doran and Trevor report the latest School News.

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Birch Grove Community School

School News from Birch Grove: April 13

Kalina, Sophia and Isabel report the latest School News.

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West End News: April 14

I’m reporting the West End News this week from the far west end, all the way out in Bozeman, Montana. I’m here on tour with the Plucked Up String Band.

Everyone knows that touring bands live a life filled with wild parties fueled by crazy substance abuse and excesses of every kind. Well, I’m happy to report that is not the case for our current tour.

We chose Montana for our tour because my son, Carl Hansen, a proud West Ender, lives in Bozeman, where he is a freelance filmmaker. Carl’s boyhood friend, Beau Larson, originally from Lutsen, also lives in Bozeman, making his living as a wildlife photographer. So, this is really more of a combination band tour and family visit.

The band has been warmly received in Montana, with appreciative crowds at every show and many invitations to return. In our down time, our activities have tended more toward hiking, disc golf and many hours of playing music while soaking up the unseasonable 70-degree sunshine that Montana has been experiencing. Other than a pleasant overall tiredness and some sore fingers, the tour has been fulfilling and fun.

We’re ending the tour in Ashland, Wisconsin, where we’ll be headlining the Ashland Folk Festival, the oldest folk festival in Wisconsin.

I’ve been reading, with interest, all the recent news about economic diversification on the Iron Range. Although the West End is not generally considered part of the Iron Range, we are directly affected by what happens in our greater region.

I’m no expert on the mining industry, but it seems that the experts are thinking that mining may be in a more serious decline that just the normal ups and downs of a commodity-based industry. Long story short, the situation is a symptom of the global market place.

Just in the last few weeks, the conversation around economic development in northeastern Minnesota has changed. Governor Dayton came out with a strong message about protecting our wilderness. The IRRRB held a conference on how the region can attract young residents by being “cool and creative.” The IRRRB also announced plans to reform their governance and move their grant and loan programs more toward quality of life projects and away from trying to attract smoke-stack industries. Minnesota Public Radio has hosted an event focused exclusively on diversifying the Iron Range economy and the Minneapolis Star Tribune is running a series of articles on the same subject. Aaron Brown has continued his well-written efforts to inspire economic diversification on his popular blog, “Minnesota Brown.”

All this news is very encouraging, with the obvious caveat that it must lead to some substantial progress and not just exist as a flash in the pan. It is also encouraging because it is driven by community members who are rolling up their sleeves and asking themselves what kind of community they would like to live in and leave to their children.

Unfortunately, it’s a case of the people getting out ahead of at least some of their leaders, who seem to be stuck in the old thinking that economic development will come from giant industrial development. I’m also afraid the influence of money in our politics is moving our leadership away from the wishes of the actual voters. I hope our political leaders are paying close attention to this new regional spirit and will get on board before the train leaves the station without them.

I am proud to say that Cook County is providing leadership in this new regional mood. In my opinion, the West End is in a particularly good position to take advantage.

As we toured around Montana this week and told people we were from the North Shore of Minnesota, the most common response was along the lines of “Oh, I love the North Shore” or, “I’ve been to the Boundary Waters” or, “Grand Marais is a great town.” I believe this is because Montana and the North Shore share a quality of life based on outstanding natural beauty and a largely unspoiled environment. But, for whatever reason, the wonderful West End seems to be well thought of, right across this great United States.

 

 

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School News from Oshki Ogimaag: April 13

Nicholas reports the latest School News.

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Moheb Soliman

Grand Marais Public Library hosts presentation on "A Great Lakes Vista"

Poet and performance artist, Moheb Soliman talks about “HOMES – A Great Lakes Vista” with WTIP volunteer Julie Carlson. The presentation is Friday, April 15, from 5:30 to 6:30 at the Grand Marais Public Library.

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North Woods Naturalist: Snowshoe Hares

As spring gets closer the woods and the creatures in the woods start to change. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about snowshoe hares.

(Photo courtesy of Samuel George on Flickr)

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Redpoll

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: April 8

It appears “old man winter” might have been in Florida with the college kids on spring break back in early March, and now he’s back. It’s a week into April and there’s no foolin’ around as the “frosty fellow” has turned up the volume, putting some dandy finishing touches on his ’15-‘16 winter inventory.

Who knows what will be on the atmospheric menu by the time this scribing airs, but the scene as of this past weekend would have one believe the “grand old ruler” of cold and snow is trying to make up for lost time. For weeks my commentary has lamented on what a meek winter this area has experienced. However, since the middle of March the snow machines have been cranked up.

More snow was added to the border country total last Sunday as another eight to nine inches fell on the Wildersmith neighborhood. Added to the late March deposits, the most recent coating brings us to somewhere over two feet during the past three weeks. And the seasonal total to above 90 inches.

I’m not complaining because any snow is good snow. Yet it would have been nice if more of these late season happenings could have occurred in November and December when the timing would have better accented holiday decorating. Nonetheless, the heavy-laden boughs of April are spectacular for one more time. And I’ll contend with the “mud season” being extended while bug season is delayed.

There’s a possibility I could be getting blamed for the last snowy occurrence, as I had the winter wheels taken off my vehicle in favor of summertime treads. My wife said I should wait a while longer, but it’s a little late now! Happily, I still have the snow blade on my Kubota machine.

Snow was not the only order of business recently. It was downright cold too! It is not impossible to have single digit to below zero readings this time of year, but we’ve been spoiled up until recently with some swell light-jacket to shirt-sleeve weather. The temp actually dipped slightly below the nothing mark around here on the eve before our weekend blitz, and then bottomed out at -21 this past Monday morning.

For folks put out about this winter resurgence, this too will pass. On a recent run to Grand Marais, my wife observed what she thought were pussy willow buds along the Trail. While in another spring thing, the announcement has been made of a “robin red-breast” sighting. So in spite of this setback, the calendar says we’re headed in the warmer direction. We might even be wallowing in the slop again as I bring you this week's Gunflint scoop.

It’s interesting how big atmospheric turn-arounds seem to energize the winged critters. With our landscape blanketed in cold white once more, there’s excitement beyond description at our deck-side feeding station. We’ve been inundated by droves of redpolls, chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches. At the other end of the spectrum, when things warm up, the same gang can be found flitting about tweeting a happy note in celebration. How awesome are the critters of creation.

It’s near birthing time for the wild canine critters in these parts with wolf and coyote pups and fox kits soon to join our “wild neighborhood.” And although bear sightings have not been reported, hungry moms and new cubs cannot be far away from ravaging our neighborhoods.

So although life in Gunflint Country is pretty much in the “slow lane” by human measure, the natural world is executing drama with every blink of an eye.

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, just keepin’ on, keepin on!

(Photo courtesy of Sue on Flickr)

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A Year in the Wilderness: April 8 - Ready for Breakup

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Superior National Forest Update: April 8

Hi. I’m Patty Johnson, fire management officer on the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For the beginning of April, here’s what’s happening on the Forest.

Spring conditions continue to arrive across the forest, despite the setback of some April snow. Mice can no longer rely on hiding under snow cover, so the dinner table is set for hawks. Many species, including the harriers you can see along roads, are moving north as the snow retreats. Along with feeding, spring is a time for raptors to reform pair bonds and do some spring cleaning and remodeling on last year’s nest. Eagles were able to start this process earlier as they never left the area. Their favorite food, fish, was available through the winter this year in Lake Superior, and their second favorite food, road kill, was also in good supply along Highway 61.

Other animals are on the move as well. That roadkill supply is on the increase as deer are spending a lot of time walking across the roads. This is one of the prime times of the year for deer collisions, so watch out as you drive. Going along with this is the spring arrival of turkey vultures, just in time to help clean up all those deer carcasses. Smaller things are making appearances as well. On warm sunny days, insects are appearing in our air again, but luckily no mosquitoes yet. A worm was spotted wiggling on top of the snow, and was probably wishing that it hadn’t come out of its burrow yet. On the larger side of animal life, bears should be waking up. Though there’s been no reported sightings of bears at our offices, it is time to start taking in your bird feeders at night or they will become bear feeders.

The spring weight limits on roads are still in force, so there is very little truck traffic on forest roads. Though you don’t have to watch for trucks as much, you do need to pay attention to road conditions as they may vary considerably from one corner to the next. On gravel roads, soft shoulders and washouts are concerns, but on the paved roads we’ve had a lot of black ice in the mornings as the temperature shifts from above to below freezing. One roadway sign of spring is that the Cut Face Creek rest area is now open, and soon will be followed by the other rest stops along the highways.

Some spring burning restrictions have gone into effect in Lake and Cook Counties. Burn permits are now needed for both counties, so make sure to get one before you decide to burn that spring brush pile.

It is a great time of year to go exploring near thawing creeks and waterfalls where rushing water and ice make beautiful contrasts between moving and frozen water and between winter and summer. Watch for icy spots, soft roads, and suicidal deer, but do take the time to get outdoors and enjoy spring returning to the forest.

Until next time, this has been Patty Johnson with the National Forest Update.

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Plucked Up String Band is going on its first national tour

West End News: April 7

I was saddened to read about the passing of Frank Dvorak, a long-time seasonal resident of Tofte. I knew Frank through DFL politics and was surprised when he wasn’t in attendance at the Tofte precinct caucus this year. He and his wife, Barbara, were faithful precinct caucus goers, even in the years when hardly anyone attended.
 
Frank was retired from a long, distinguished career as an attorney in Minneapolis. He was a law school classmate and good friend of Skip Humphrey, who went on to be Minnesota’s attorney general. Skip’s father was Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. Frank said that he and Barbara helped the younger Humphreys move into their first home in Plymouth, right after they graduated. It was a low budget affair, with a bunch of the Humphrey’s friends making multiple trips with cars and pickup trucks. 
 
The Humphreys rewarded their helpers by throwing a party at the house after all the moving was done.  They were pretty broke, so it was a potluck and bring your own bottle. Frank said the party was in full swing when they heard approaching sirens and looked out to see a long black limousine pull up in front of the house. Stern secret service agents swept through the house to check for weapons. Close on their heels was Vice-President Hubert Humphrey with a bottle of whiskey in his hand. He announced to the stunned group, “I hear there’s a party and I hear it is BYOB!”
 
Frank spent his entire life working to bring justice to ordinary people and you can’t really do better than that. He will be missed and remembered by many.
 
Congratulations to Lynn Rose for her appointment as the newest Lutsen Township Supervisor. As everyone in Lutsen knows, Lynn is as close as you can get to a saint in this earthly realm and certainly knows the Lutsen community well. She’ll be a great Supervisor.
 
It is good to hear that a new initiative may be coming to Lutsen that will allow people with modest income to receive grants to improve their houses. The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, better known as the A.E.O.A., is applying for a state grant that will provide tens of thousands of dollars to individual homeowners who qualify. The grants take the form of deferred loan over ten years. So, if you stay in your home ten years after accepting the grant, you pay nothing. If you sell the home before the ten years are up, you just pay back the remainder of the loan.
 
The program is to replace or refurbish roofs, doors, windows, or anything that makes the home more efficient. It cannot be used to increase the size of your home. Many people in Lutsen will qualify, even if they earn a fairly normal income, so if you are interested, go to the AEOA website to learn more.  This is literally too good of a deal to pass up.
 
I was ten years old when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Along with millions of other American kids, I resolved that day to be a rock and roll star, touring around America, playing and singing to adoring audiences. I even started a band with some buddies, but it came to a quick end when we discovered that playing and singing like the Beatles was hard.
 
Now, more than 50 years later, my dream is finally coming true, with the possible exception of the adoring fan part. Cook County’s own Plucked Up String Band, of which I am lucky enough to be a member, is heading out on its first tour this week.  Basically, we are driving to Montana where we have at least four appearances lined up, then we’re driving straight through from Montana back to Ashland, Wisconsin, where we are head-lining the Ashland Folk Festival, the oldest folk festival in Wisconsin.
 
It’s way too late, in more ways than one, for me to wind up in front of millions of people on the Ed Sullivan Show, but it should be fun, nonetheless.  And, I’ll be glad to be living my teenage dreams, however modestly, in my 60s.
 

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