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Community Conversations

  • 1st and 3rd Thursday 7-8pm
On the first Thursday of every month from 7-8 p.m. WTIP hosts a live interactive conversation on an issue of community importance. Guests are invited into the studio and listeners are invited to call in or email with questions, comments, and concerns. This participatory program is designed to give everyone a voice in the discussion of public affairs issues that shape our community. To participate in the conversation call 218-387-1070 or email us at

On the third Thursday of every month from 7-8 p.m. WTIP's Jay Andersen hosts a one-on-one discussion with a variety of community members.

What's On:

First Thursday program looks forward

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A new year and new decade is upon us. As Cook County businesses and institutions emerge from 2009, they face both major challenges and opportunities. Listen to January’s First Thursday Community Conversation program with special guests Beth Schwarz, superintendent for ISD 166, County Commissioner Bob Fenwick, Dr. Sandy Stover of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, Grand Marais Mayor Sue Hakes, Scott Harrison, owner of Lutsen Resort, and community members that called in to participate in a discussion about the future of our community.


Discussion of proposed septic ordinance on WTIP

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Listen to the discussion from WTIP’s First Thursday program on the proposed county septic ordinance. Join Barbara Jean Johnson and Jay Andersen in a conversation with staff from the Cook County Planning and Zoning Department, Lending Officer Dale Klobuchar from the North Shore Credit Union, and the county’s former water plan coordinator and septic system expert Dave Stark. The program includes calls and emails from community members. 



1 percent sales tax referendum result

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Analysis of the 1 percent sales tax referendum result was the topic of WTIP's First Thursday Community Conversations Program on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009.

WTIP hosts Bob Carter and Barbara Jean Johnson discuss the results with County Auditor/Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Commissioner Bob Fenwick, and Grand Marais City Councilors Kay Costello, Jan Sivertson, and Tim Kennedy. The conversation also includesfeedback and comments from community members as well as West End County Commissioner Bruce Martinson.


Cook County Broadband Initiative

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The goal of the Cook County Broadband Initiative is to develop a fiber-optic network that would provide broadband services to all but the most remote areas of the county.

On Thursday, October 1,  2009, advocates for county-wide broadband, along with Cook County Information Systems Director Dana McKenzie, took questions from supporters and critics alike on WTIP’s First Thursday Community Conversations Program.


Biomass Energy In Cook County

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In September, 2009, WTIP’s First Thursday Community Conversations Program featured a discussion about a proposed district energy biomass plant to be funded in part by the proposed 1 percent sales tax.
Join WTIP’s Jay Andersen and Barbara Jean Johnson for an open community conversation on biomass energy in Cook County. Chuck Hartley, an expert on biomass heat and energy conservation systems and director of energy management services for LHB Inc., Buck Benson of the Cook County Local Energy Project, USFS Fuels Planner Patty Johnson, and City Councilor and Public Utilities Board Member Tim Kennedy were in the studio to answer questions and discuss the issues.


Immunization In Cook County – What Is It? Is It Still Important?

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On Thursday, August 6, 2009, WTIP aired its First Thursday Community Conversation: “Immunization in Cook County – What is it? Is it still important?”
Sawtooth Mountain Physician Sherry Moriarty, Cook County Public Health Nurse Joni Kristenson, and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Nurse Teresa Borak fielded questions from listener calls and emails on immunizations and vaccines. The efficacy and importance of vaccinations has been a topic of discussion recently, often sparking controversy and debate.


Tourism In Cook County

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The July, 2009 First Thursday Community Conversation Program features a discussion on tourism in Cook County. Four people who know tourism and our all-important visitor industry were on hand to answer questions and discuss the prospects for the coming year.


Hunger In Cook County

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WTIP’s May, 2009 First Thursday Community Conversations Program tackled the issue of hunger in Cook County and what resources are available to assist individuals and families.
WTIP’s Jay Andersen and Barbara Jean Meyers discussed the issues with guests Alicia Lambrides, Food Support specialist with Cook County Public Health and Human Services, Gwen Lenz, with the Cook County Food Shelf, and Teresa Borak, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and administrator of the county’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.


Better Together -- The Great Community Book Read

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“Better Together -- The Great Community Book Read," is a  program is built around the shared experiences of people reading and talking about the same book. On March 12, 2009, WTIP brought four community leaders into the studio to discuss their community book read experience.

Hosts Jay Andersen and Barbara Jean Meyers discuss the issues with Mayor Sue Hakes, County Commissioner Jim Johnson, City Councilor Kay Costello, and Jessa Wallendal from the Birch Grove Foundation.  It was a special Second Thursday Community Conversation based around the community book read of “Better Together, Restoring the American Community” by Robert Putman and Lewis Feldstein.


Sacrifice and Stimulus - Budget Winners and Losers in Cook County

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On March 5, 2009, WTIP’s First Thursday Community Conversation Program discussed the impact of budget cuts on local government programs and whether or not stimulus money will help soften the impact.

Hosts Jay Andersen and Barbara Jean Meyers were joined in the studio by County Engineer Shae Kosmalski, Director of Health and Human Services Sue Futterer, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, and County Commissioner Bob Fenwick. The guests talked about "Sacrifice and Stimulus - Budget Winners and Losers in Cook County.”