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Photo by Carah Thomas-Maskell

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Join the WTIP News Staff for a program packed with news, music and some humor.  This program covers politics, local news and issues. DayBreak airs 7-8 a.m. on weekdays.

What's On:
The Alpine girls' team took 2nd at 2019 Section meet to advance to the State Meet on Feb. 13

Cook County Alpine ski team is State meet bound!

Cook County/Silver Bay skiers had a great showing at the Section Meet at Giant’s Ridge on Tuesday, February 5. Three individuals will be advancing to represent the Cook County Vikings at the state tournament and the girls’ team is heading to state with a second place in sections.
Reilly Wahlers had two excellent runs, claiming 2nd place.

Sela Backstrom also put together two great runs and made it to 12th place to also advance to the State meet.

Reilly and Sela, along with Elsa Lunde and Kalina Dimitrova, skied strong and claimed 2nd for the girls’ team. The Cook County team was just behind Stillwater.

On the boys’ side, Will Surbaugh raced as an individual and showed true grit as he had a miscue on his first run. He went all out on his second run, which was good enough to land him in 16th place and a berth at State.

The Vikings now head to the State meet at Giant’s Ridge on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Racing starts at 10 a.m.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with Alpine Ski Coach Charles Lamb to hear his thoughts on the very successful showing at Sections.

Photos courtesy of the Cook County/Silver Bay Alpine team

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Road Construction

Right-of-way acquisition may delay Highway 61 construction

The Cook County Chamber of Commerce committee that is meeting to develop a plan to help businesses during the reconstruction of Highway 61 through Grand Marais cancelled a meeting this week because of a possible delay.

Chamber members said there is apparently a delay in efforts to acquire right-of-way for the project, which could delay the overall roadwork.

The city of Grand Marais is hoping to set a meeting with Minnesota Department of Transportation officials soon, but in the meantime, WTIP’s Rhonda Silence reached out to Michael Kalnbach of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to learn more.

Kalnbach is the project manager for the Highway 61 project, which is intended to repave and reconstruct the highway from the Cutface Creek Rest Area to the east end of the city in 2019-2020. More information on the plan can be found here.
 

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The Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission is installed new, advanced meters in the City of Grand Marais

Advanced metering and new rates at Grand Marais Public Utilities

Grand Marais residents who receive services from the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently received a letter in the mail announcing a pilot project for an advanced metering infrastructure program.

It has raised some questions, such as why does the PUC want to initiate this metering program? What is the benefit to the city—and to consumers?
In a related matter, at the last meeting of the Grand Marais City Council, City Councilor Tim Kennedy, who is the city’s PUC representative, said rates for PUC customers will not go up for water or electric services, but will increase 2 percent for wastewater.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence sat down to talk with Grand Marais City Administrator Mike Roth about that increase and about the new metering program. Here’s that conversation.
 

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It was standing room only at Grand Marais City Hall for the MnDOT presentation on road construction coming in 2019-20.

Full house for MnDOT Highway 61 construction update

The Minnesota Department of Transportation held an Open House on Wednesday, November 7 at Grand Marais City Hall. It was standing room only in the council room as about 60 community members gathered to hear the latest on the plans for reconstruction of Highway 61 as it runs through the city.

Brad Scott of LHB Engineering gave an overview of the project, reminding the public that this process began in February 2016.
Michael Kalnbach of MnDOT gave a presentation of the plan, explaining the two-stage process starting in 2019 on the outskirts of Grand Marais and then continuing in 2020 in the heart of Grand Marais.

Kalnbach described the detours and traffic control measures that would be in place throughout the process. He shared photos of just what visitors and community members can expect to see as the project advances, such as the 10-foot deep trench that will be cut for utility work and when the contaminated soils are removed from the Cobblestone Building and Harbor Inn area.

The agenda for the meeting called for one-on-one discussion following the presentation, however members of the public said they would like to hear questions from others, so MnDOT and LHB answered questions from the audience for about an hour before breaking into smaller discussion groups.

There were questions about traffic control about specific intersections; about MnDOT’s work at Fall River where a bridge is being built on the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail; about access to businesses; and about future snow removal in the city. Concerns were expressed about parking during the project.

Grand Marais resident Dick Powell asked if MnDOT would help repair the roads that were to be used as detours, such as the road he lives on, County Road 7.

Although officials have said the highway design has been finalized, public comment forms were available for the public, with MnDOT asking for feedback on suggestions for minimizing disruption to the community during the construction project.

Anwers to questions and other information will be posted to the MnDOT Highway 61 project website.

WTIP was at the meeting and Rhonda Silence shares this report.
 

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Alyssa Fenstad spikes the ball back to Esko at the August 30 home game

Vikings volleyball defeats long-time rival Silver Bay

 The Cook County Vikings volleyball team fell to the Esko Eskomos in their first home game on Thursday, August 30, but bounced back to defeat North Shore rivals, the Silver Bay Mariners.
 
The scores on that Tuesday, September 4 game were 25-23, 25-22, 26-24.
 
For the Vikings, Reilly Wahlers had 13 digs; Sophie Eliason had 21 digs and 9 set assists. Alyssa Fenstad added 14 kills and 11 digs and Bianca Zimmer had 15 set assists.

Photos courtesy of Michael McHugh/ISD 166
 


 

Voter Registration - Kathy Sullivan

Kathy Sullivan talks with North Shore Morning host, Bob Padzieski, about voter registration.

Anyone with more questions about voting or the registration process may call:
Cook County Auditor's Office      218-387-3642
Minnesota Secretary of State       877-600-8683

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Richard Painter and WTIP's Jay Andersen

Senate candidate Richard Painter talks with WTIP

Richard Painter, a longtime Republican and former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush is running for U.S. Senate as a Democrat in Minnesota.

Painter stopped by the WTIP studios in July and spoke with WTIP’s Jay Andersen about his bid for U.S. Senate.  

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White crown

North Woods Naturalist: White-crowned sparrows

They are harbingers of spring, but they don’t stay around long.. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about white-crowned sparrows.
 

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Superior National Forest Update November 10, 2017

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior.  With the change of season, we’re changing this program to air only every other week until spring.  Here’s what’s happening these next two weeks.

Winter is definitely here, especially inland, up over the hill.  Snow may have melted along the shore, but you don’t have to get too far from Lake Superior until you hit the white stuff.  While the trails aren’t groomed, people have already been skiing at Pincushion.  This is the time of year though that snowmobiles can really do some damage to that base layer of snow which gives us good trails all winter.  On trails, take it easy so you don’t dig through the snow to the ground, or wait until trails are packed by a groomer.  Cross country snowmobile travel isn’t allowed until there is four inches or more of snow on the ground, and snowmobiles are never allowed on plowed roads. 

Lakes are beginning to ice in, but none of them are really safe to be on yet.  Most large lakes are still open, but at least Sawbill is iced over.  Some roads are iced over too - it’s time to remember all you forgot about winter driving over the past several months.  Slow down, be cautious, and give yourself time to relearn how your vehicle handles and brakes on snow and ice.  There are fewer people out on the roads in the winter, so leave an itinerary of where you are going with someone.  That way, if you do run off the road, someone will eventually come looking for you.
 
Truck traffic is using the same roadways as last week.  Hauling on Gunflint is taking place on the following roads: Firebox, Blueberry, Greenwood, Shoe Lake, South Brule, Lima Grade, Ball Club, Devil Track, Forest Road 1385 and the Gunflint Trail.  Tofte logging traffic will be on the Pancore, Sawbill Trail, Dumbbell River Road, Wanless Road, Lake County 7 and 705, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, Perent Lake Road, Trappers Lake Road, Temperance River Road, and the Six Hundred Road. 

There are plenty of hunters out in the woods during deer season.  Whether or not you are hunting, stay safe and wear orange when you are in the woods.  You and your pet!  Respect no trespassing signs on private land, and remember that some private roads may be closed to motor use, even if they cross public land.  Use your Motor Vehicle Use Map to find out what roads are open to what use in the winter.  If you don’t like paper, but love technology, you can download these maps and use an app that shows your exact location on the map.  Remember, take those deer stands down after season, and no permanent stands are to be left on National Forest lands.

Along with our activities, our birds are shifting to winter.  Flocks of snow buntings along the roadsides create beautiful displays of black and white wings when they take off, but are unfortunately easy to hit with vehicles.  There are still lots of migrating hawks, particularly rough legged hawks, which can be seen perched by the side of Highway 61.  Redpolls and pine grosbeaks are back for winter at feeders, but since there are still a few bears up and about, you should still be taking in those feeders at night.

We are looking for some citizen science input on lynx.  Winter snow makes these secretive cats easier to find because of their tracks.  If you find lynx tracks, take a picture with your phone.  Put a glove or coin or something else near the track in the photo to show how large it is.  If your phone notes the GPS coordinates with the photo, that’s great, otherwise note the area you where you found tracks, and let us know. 

It is time to quit complaining about the end of fall and start enjoying our Minnesota winter.   Those last minute fall chores that never happened because of the snowfall, well, you’ll just have to figure them out next spring. Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update: September 15

Hi. I’m Cathy Jasperson, customer service representative at the Tofte office with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of September 14.

As you head out into the Forest this coming week, you may encounter a lot of traffic. A “lot of traffic” here isn’t exactly a “Chicago rush hour,” but it will be enough that you’ll have to keep your eyes open and be ready for other vehicles on the road. One source of traffic will be the fall color season. Colors are really ramping up right now, and the Forest Service is getting a lot of inquiries on when the peak of fall color will be. This coming weekend should be a pretty good one for fall color in some areas, although there are plenty of other areas which still are hanging on to summer. Differences are due to variations in microclimate where even the south side of a hill can have a different climate than the north side. The differences are also due to the individual tree: Stressed trees usually change color sooner than completely healthy trees. Does that mean you should worry about the birch in your yard if it turns early? Not necessarily, but you may want to investigate what could be stressing it and see if there is something you could do. Overall, this should be a good year for fall colors. Fall colors could be the silver lining of our somewhat cloudy and rainy summer. If you are driving looking at colors, please respect other drivers and let them pass if they want, and park where it is safe to do so. 

The other source of traffic will be some logging trucks. There are several active sales right now, and there are many roads which will be hosting truck traffic. On the Gunflint District, look out for trucks on Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, the Gunflint Trail, South Brule Road, the Lima Grade, Trestle Pine Road, Ball Club Road, Devil Track Road, Cook County 6 and 7, and Bally Creek Road. On the Tofte District there will be hauling on Dumbbell River Road, Wanless Road, Pancore Road, the Sawbill Trail, Clara Lake Road, and the Caribou Trail.

Added to that, there also may be vehicles from hunters parked along the roads. The bear season is active right now, and small game and grouse seasons both start on September 16. If you plan on hiking in the woods, this is the time to start wearing orange. 

All that makes it sound like a very busy season, which it is in some regards. This is the time of year though that we see use drop in the Boundary Waters and on other lakes. Boaters and canoeists need to be aware that you are less likely see other people, and you need to be prepared to be self-sufficient in an emergency. Carry a spare prop and paddles in your boat, and bring supplies enough to last a night, just in case. Make sure your trailer has a spare tire and that it is functional, and that you have the right size wrench along to put it on. Let people know where you are going and when you will return. If you’re canoe camping, make sure you are equipped for spending a day sitting out storms or wind. We may not get hurricanes up here, but fall winds can certainly bring conditions not suitable for canoeing.

Despite all those warnings and traffic, this is one of the best times to get out and enjoy the Forest. Bugs are low, temperatures are nice, and the scenery can be spectacular. 

Have a great week in the woods, and until next week, this has been Cathy Jasperson with the Superior National Forest Update.
 

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