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The North Shore News Hour includes up-to-the minute weather, North Shore happenings in local news, sports and entertainment, as well as a variety of features from WTIP staff and volunteers. If you miss the North Shore News Hour at noon, tune in for a replay Monday through Thursday beginning at 5:00 p.m.


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A Trump Rally was held along Highway 61 in Grand Marais on September 18. Photo by Rhonda Silence

Two demonstrations--BIPOC and Trump Train--line Highway 61 in Grand Marais

For several months, a demonstration has been held at 5 p.m. each Friday along Highway 61 in Grand Marais with participants holding signs calling for justice and equality for the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) community. In recent weeks, another group has lined the highway with its own message supporting President Donald Trump, the military, and the police. 
 
The BIPOC group has numbered from 20 to 100 participants each week. Hear a related story about their first gathering on May 29. The newer group, with large American flags and Trump 2020 flags numbered about 25 on Friday, September 18. 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence visited the scene and spoke with one of the participants who said the Trump supporters did not decide to demonstrate on Friday evenings to antagonize the social justice group. Colton Thompson of Grand Marais said Friday is the only evening when he is off before 6:30 p.m. 
 
Thompson said he will be on the sidewalk alongside Highway 61 to show pride in America every Friday, as well as Saturday, at least until the upcoming presidential election on November 3. He invited any like-minded individuals to join his group. 
 
Thompson explained that the Trump rally was launched after Gary Radloff, Sr., the Grand Marais Municipal Campground host was asked to remove his “Thin Blue Line” flag at his campsite. Radloff willingly removed the flag when he was informed that he could not fly a political sign at his campsite, which is technically city property. See the related story here.
 
After that incident, a handful of people have gathered almost every Friday to show solidarity for law enforcement. The group has grown and has now become an endorsement for President Donald Trump. 
 
Asked what he would say to anyone who may be intimidated by the group. Thompson said the Trump supporters don't disagree with them. He said they all support justice for Breonna Taylor and he was glad to hear the Taylor family had received some justice. He said many of his group also press for police reform in such cases.
 
As far as trying to cause conflict, Thompson said, "We're not trying to start anything. We just like to voice our opinion as this is America and it is a free country."
 
 Although there was a call to the Cook County Sheriff's Office about possible conflict, the only police presence was seen when what appeared to be a car club went through, with about five muscle cars revving engines and speeding past the protest. A sheriff's office squad car pulled out of a side street and pulled one of the vehicles over. 
 
Otherwise, it was a relatively peaceful evening, with the two demonstration groups standing apart from one another. 
One lone participant was on the corner by Java Moose. Tim Ramey of Hovland wasn't joining either group, but held up a sign saying, "Jesus' love matters." 
 
Here's WTIP's Rhonda Silence in conversation with one Trump Rally participant, Colton Thompson of Grand Marais. 
Listen: 

 
The welcoming wall at Cook County School District 166 - File photo

Levy, childcare and clean air on ISD 166 agenda

The September 17 meeting of the School District 166 school board started on a high note, with a report from the school's student representative, Hazel Oberholtzer.

Oberholtzer shared the results of an informal study she had done with her fellow students after the first day of school, asking if things are going better with distance learning compared to when it was first instituted last spring. She had a response of 46 students, who felt positive about the start of the new school year. Oberholtzer said she asked what was better and students replied they felt they had more interaction with teachers and a better schedule to follow.

Oberholtzer said she gave the option for survey takers to give comments and she said the main response was "Why are we not in school?" She said students pointed out that School District 166 is a small school and there are much larger schools around the region that are in session, either in person or in a hybrid model. Oberholtzer noted that she has no answer for those students.

School Board Chair Dan Shirley said distance learning will be held until at least midquarter, in October, when the safe learning model will again be reviewed.

School sets levy at maximum allowed
In financial matters, the school board agreed to set its levy as the maximum amount allowed. School Financial Director Lori Backlund said just what that number will be is not yet available, as the school is awaiting revenue numbers from the Minnesota Department of Education. However, she said, based on the school's financial data the levy would be 7 percent lower than last year.

Backlund stressed that the school's financial data is unknown at this time, but advised setting the levy at its maximum in case that amount is needed.

The school board asked about the impact of students withdrawing from ISD 166 on school finances and Backlund said it is not yet known. For budgeting and levy purposes, schools use the population of the previous year. The impact of students leaving the district will not be felt until later in the school year.

According to the principal report in the school board packet, as of September 15, there have been 50 un-enrollments. There have been a few new students, making the overall enrollment drop 45. The school has gone from 431 students in September 2019 to 386 today. The elementary and middle schools saw the decline. High School enrollment is actually up one as students enrolled in post-secondary education opportunity programs still count as an enrolled student in the district.

School and YMCA collaborate on child care offering
While ISD 166 planned on offering childcare for nearly all parents considered “”emergency” and “essential employees” on the list provided by the State of Minnesota back in August, the most recent directive from Governor Tim Walz changes who is eligible for this childcare support.

The previous order allowed for support for “Tier 1” critical workers, such as healthcare or public health, law enforcement, judicial, educators and childcare providers, but also for a “Tier 2” list of frontline workers. The Tier 2 list included employees such as food distribution workers, utility workers, waste management, etc.

At the beginning of September, Principal Myers and the school district safe learning task force worked to set up a system for providing care for children of Tier 1 and Tier 2 students at no charge to those families. The care was to be provided during regular hours.

The school is close to being filled with students whose parents fall in the Tier 1 category, Myers told the school board. To help the parents in the other “Tier,” who no longer qualify for the free childcare through the school, a partnership has been formed with the Cook County Community YMCA.

Because there is a charge for that student support, the school has heard from many distraught parents.

Board member Lunde said she empathized with those parents. She noted that if school was open, as could be allowed under the MN Department of Health guidelines for opening schools, these parents would not have to pay for their child to be in school during the day.

Lunde asked how the YMCA could charge for this childcare, noting that the school is paying the paraprofessionals that are with the students. Board Member Deb White also questioned the fees. Principal Myers said the fees go to the Cook County Youth Agency Coalition (CYAC), not the YMCA. That coalition supports community children.

Myers added that the school and the YMCA are doing the best they can to provide financial assistance. There is a sliding scale for childcare, based on the free and reduced lunch criteria. And scholarships are available, using the COVID-19 pandemic CARES Act funding.

Myers said the school has no other option. She said it either had to work with the YMCA to help provide childcare assistance under this format, or close the program to just the families whose workers fall under the Tier 1 category.

She added that having the expanded childcare program also benefits school paraprofessionals who otherwise might have been laid off.

The board thanked Myers for explaining what was happening. Board Member Carrie Jenson said she had heard from many parents who were confused and frustrated by the change in childcare options. She suggested having some sort of question and answer session with parents.

Myers said many parents had reached out to her and she believes she has been able to answer their questions. She invited parents to call her at the school at 218-387-2273 or email her at mmyers@isd166.org.

The board again thanked Myers and school staff for their hard work during this difficult time. Jensen noted that the program is the best it can be in the current parameters.

Investment in air purifying system approved
There were many questions about the purchase of an AtmosAir Solutions air-purifying system for the school building. The cost to install such a system in the entire school building would be $214,639, but School Maintenance Director Tom Nelson recommended making the installation in phases, covering classrooms, the halls and cafeteria first for a cost of $77,335.

The remainder of the system is for the school gyms, which, Nelson said are large enough and have a sufficient air turnover that it is not critical to install at this time.

There was considerable discussion about how the air system would be paid for. Options include school health and safety funds, long-range building maintenance funding and CARES Act funds, which cover expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was agreed that some of the CARES Act funding should be used, but Board Member Sissy Lunde noted that the school should hold some of the coronavirus-related money in case it is needed at some point in the future.

Nelson said that would be wise and pointed out that part of the funding was in the budget already, under health and safety as the school was already considering the air purifying system. He said last year 30 percent of the student body was absent at some point because of the flu. The air purifying system would help prevent that, as well as allay some COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

The school board voted unanimously to move ahead with the purchase of the first two phases.

In other business:

  • The board considered the employment contract with Principal Megan Meyers for her temporary appointment as superintendent in the absence of Superintendent Dr. Bill Crandall for medical reasons. It was agreed the school attorney should review the contract. Once the attorney makes his decision, a special school board meeting will be called to make the final approval. The contract will be retroactive to when Meyers took on the position.
  • The school board reviewed the student and staff handbooks and voted to approve them for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • The school board set its Truth-in-Taxation hearing for December 17, 2020 at 6 p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. That may be changed to a virtual meeting via Zoom, depending on community health conditions at that time.
  • The board accepted the resignation of Alpine Ski Coach Charles Lamb with great regret and many thanks for his dedication--and time spent in bitter cold at the ski hill.

 
 


 
Election 2020 - courthouse flag.  Photo by Rhonda Silence

County Auditor talks mail ballots and election security

A reminder went out to postal customers last week, reminding anyone voting by mail-in ballot to allow plenty of time for their ballot to make it to its destination and be counted. 
 
Cook County has been conducting mail balloting for most of the county since 1997, so it is fairly routine for many local voters. 
 
However, for citizens of Grand Marais precincts, there have been polling places open on election day, at the Cook County courthouse and at the Cook County Community Center. That is still an option for the November 3, 2020 election day. However, anyone who would rather not vote in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mail also vote by mail ballot. They simply have to apply to receive a mail ballot. 
 
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Auditor Braidy Powers, who oversees the elections here in Cook County and he said his office has received more requests for mail ballots than ever before. 
 
For that reason, WTIP reached out to Auditor Powers, to talk about the need to return those mail ballots in time. 
 
WTIP also asked Powers for his thoughts on President Donald Trump’s comments at a recent rally suggesting that people vote twice to test the system. Powers urges voters not to do so, noting that to try to vote more than once is a felony. 
 
WTIP also asked Powers about the president’s advice that voters go to the polls and ask to see if their ballot was received and counted. Powers said citizens can do that, but he added that his office would prefer a phone call. The phone number for the auditor’s office is 218-387-3640.
 
Powers said in Minnesota, voters can also track their ballot online at MNvotes.org
 
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence talked about all this with Auditor Braidy Powers in this interview. 
Listen: 

 
Cedar Grove Business Park - File photo, Rhonda Silence

EDA asks city to consider adding "services" to business park allowed use

It seems that zoning in some form or another comes up at every meeting of the Grand Marais City Council. At the Tuesday, September 9, council meeting a request for a zoning ordinance change within the Cedar Grove Business Park was discussed.
 
The Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) oversees the business park. EDA Executive Director Mary Somnis attended the council meeting to answer questions. Somnis explained that the requested change to the city's ordinance would simply add services to the list of allowed uses at Cedar Grove Business Park.
 
The need for the change came up because of a purchase offer to the EDA for a business park lot from Brad Shannon with the nonprofit organization NorthPoint. Shannon would like to create a youth center on a lot abutting the Gunflint Trail. He is looking at a small lot to the west of the Como Oil and Propane lot.
 
After an offer and counteroffer, an agreement was made for Shannon to purchase the lot in question for $25,000, including closing costs.
 
However, it appears the youth center concept does not fit in the business park under current city zoning ordinances. Somnis said for the EDA, the youth facility falls under services, which is an allowed use in the business park covenants.
 
Somnis said the ordinance change was being requested to align the city's ordinance with the business park covenants, which would then allow Shannon to proceed with the proposed teen facility under the services moniker.
 
There was considerable discussion of what is allowed in the business park and about the original purpose of the business park. Councilor Kelly Swearingen asked for more time to consider the request.  Councilor Craig Schulte also said he would like some more time to do some research.
 
Grand Marais City Administrator Mike Roth noted that the lots have been sitting vacant at the Cedar Grove Business Park for a long time. He suggested that the city would benefit from a lot sale to any entity, nonprofit, or not.
 
Roth said, “Think about if we don't sell this lot to anyone. The special assessment that is paying for the water and sewer that was constructed for this will continue to be paid by county and city property taxes. And the use, the maintenance of those water and sewer pipes will continue to be paid by other ratepayers.
 
“If we do sell this property, irrespective of whether they pay property taxes, the sale will support the bond that was used to pay for the construction of the water and sewer. The use of the water and sewer then will be paid with rates. There could potentially be employment that's created as well.
 
“So it seems to me, even if we're concerned about this being supported with public dollars, that it being sold for actual cash, then developed and used by anyone is a better situation than not being sold and the EDA continuing to own it, and continuing to pay the special assessment for the water and sewer with city and county property taxes,” said Roth.
 
Councilor Tim Kennedy serves on the Grand Marais Planning Commission, which recommended approving the change. Kennedy noted that the ordinance change would better match the existing conditions at the business park, which includes mainly businesses that offer some sort of service, not any manufacturing.
 
Kennedy talked a little bit about the original plans for the park and noted that many local businesses, such as road contractors, heavy equipment companies, etc., reserved lots for equipment storage and warehouses.
 
However, that did not happen, said Kennedy, adding, “And then the economic decline happened and pretty much none of those businesses ended up performing on their reservation agreements and unfortunately, the park had gone ahead and made decisions and here we are today.”
 
Kennedy said, “We all know the struggles that we've had over the years to try to get occupancy in the park and you know, we have some good businesses in there paying taxes.  They’re providing services there, you know, employing people, it's beginning to work”
 
In addition, Kennedy noted most of those existing businesses are “service-type activities.”
 
Kennedy noted that Shannon hopes to move ahead with his lot purchase but deferred to his colleagues and agreed to wait to review more information on the history and the use of the business park. As far as the EDA vision for the business park, Somnis said yes, the hope is that the park will fill with commercial enterprises.
 
Somnis noted that during the discussion a couple of people mentioned the vision of the EDA and what sort of businesses are wanted there. She said, “What we want in the business park is people that have some kind of commercial use. You know, we're not out looking for nonprofits, that isn't a vision. It's a response to the inquiries that are coming in."
 
Somnis said the EDA would continue to work toward the goal of more commercial establishments in the business park and talked a little bit about the inquiries that she had had recently.
 
Somnis agreed to provide a map of the business park as well as the covenants for the councilors and return to a future meeting. The council will consider the request again at their next council meeting,
 
Listen to this report on news from the city of Grand Marais with WTIP reporter Rhonda Silence.
 

Listen: 

 
Mary Sanders and Nancy Koloski checking out the progress at the Serenity Garden at North Shore Health. Photo by Rhonda Silence

Work is underway at Serenity Garden at North Shore Health

Construction of a "Serenity Garden" is underway at North Shore Health. In what was a barren spot between hospital and care center wings, landscaping is taking shape. The purpose of the Serenity Garden is to provide a natural healing space for patients to observe out their windows or to visit with their families. 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence got a tour of the future garden on a rainy September 3. The progress was evident, with forms ready to be filled with concrete and pavers by S&C Masonry. 
 
Mary Sanders and Nancy Koloski were the committee members giving the little tour. They were delighted to talk about the design, the drainage and the future plantings.  Planting will not happen until spring. 
 
They were also pleased to share the news of their "Pave the Way" project, which gives the public the chance to purchase a paver to engrave with a special message. The message can be a memorial or an honorarium or a meaningful statement. 
 
The deadline is coming fast--anyone interested in purchasing a paver must do so before September 11. For more information on purchasing and engraving a paver for the Serenity Garden, contact Nancy at nancykoloski@gmail.com or 218-663-0147. 
 
The garden planners are also hoping to form a group of Serenity Garden friends, to assist with thank you notes and to help maintain the greenery. Anyone interested in becoming a Serenity Garden friend may contact Mary Sanders at marylsanders@mail.com or call Mary at 218-387-1729. 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence learns more about the Serenity Garden in this interview. 
Listen: 

 
The Governor's Cabin and a camper at WunderBar are on the auction block. Images courtesy of Auction Masters.

WunderBar campers, cabin, and building contents up for auction

The WunderBar Eatery and Glampground opened in 2017 with hopes to revitalize the building that was once the Harbor Light Supper Club. However, in August 2019, the owners of the Wunderbar, Chris and Teri Downing, doing business as Heart Rock LLC, were in bankruptcy court. Financial troubles plagued the business which brought the concept of “glamping” to the North Shore, offering stays in several revamped campers and elegant Lotus Belle tents.

The glamping model was well received and WunderBar received a great deal of media attention around the region. The funky atmosphere and frequent live music nights made the Wunderbar a popular destination for many locals. However, according to Chris and Teri Downing, keeping the WunderBar open year-round was a struggle.

WTIP spoke with the Downings in August 2019, who said Heart Rock LLC was in the process of restructuring. A GoFundMe site was established and the Downings raised approximately $50,000 to keep the eatery afloat. The couple thanked the community for its support at that time. Listen to that interview here.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WunderBar had to shut down operations, although Chef Chris Callendar continued to offer meals, free of charge and/or by donation to the public until the WunderBar announced it was closing its doors permanently in June 2020.

The final chapter for the WunderBar is taking place this week, with an auction of the contents of the building and the campers and cabin in the yard. Auction Masters & Appraisals is conducting an online auction now through Tuesday, September 16.

On the auction list is a 1957 Mallard camper trailer, two 1963 Winnebago camper trailers, a log cabin once owned by Minnesota Governor Jacob Preus, picnic tables, a couple of televisions, a professional smoker with propane tank, an expresso machine, seasonal décor and much more.

The auction catalog also includes some of the items that were in the bar when it was Harbor Light Supper Club, owned by Doug and Sandi Rude, such as a jukebox, pool table and furniture. WTIP contacted Auction Masters to confirm that those items were included in the sale. Greg Christian of Auction Masters said the Rudes no longer own any of the items on the list.

To see the catalog of auction items or to register to bid, visit the auction website here

The Rudes still own the Harbor Light building, which once had a purchase offer from Dollar General. That sale fell through in 2016 after public opposition over the proposed discount franchise and the city of Grand Marais’s issuance of a moratorium on construction of any commercial retail development over 5,000 square feet along the highway on each end of town. The moratorium passed in February 2016 remained in effect for one year.

So for now, the future of the Harbor Light Supper Club building is once again uncertain.
 


 
Kat's Tats - Katie Bissell, or Kat, at work. Submitted photo

New business in Grand Marais offers tattoos and piercings

A new business has opened in Grand Marais--Kat's Tats, offering tattoos and body piercings. Kat is Katie Bissell and her new business is the first of its kind in Cook County. 

However, she is familiar to some North Shore residents. She visited Grand Marais several times in the past with her mobile tattoo parlor, staying and working at the Wunderbar and at Trailside Cabins in Grand Marais. Asked if that means there are people here in Cook County with a tattoo or piercing by her, Kat laughed and said, "Yes, there's actually many!" 

WTIP wondered what Kat would say to someone who doesn't like tattoos or piercing. She said people should be open-minded. 

Kat works out of her mobile trailer at her residence on County Road 7 in Grand Marais. And because of COVID-19, there are some additional safety measures. Appointments are necessary. 

More information can be found about her business under Kat's Tats on Facebook. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Kat about what it took to become a tattoo artist and to start her business in Grand Marais. 

If you know of North Shore business owners who should be featured, give us a call at 218-387-1070 or email: Rhonda@wtip.org. WTIP would love to tell their story!

 
Listen: 

 
Minnesota DNR firefighter Aaron Mielke on a past deployment with a crew near Swan Lake, Montana - Submitted photo

Local wildland firefighters ready to deploy to western fires

The nation has been watching the spreading wildfires in California and Oregon, alarmed at the devastation. 
 
As of August 31, an estimated 18 major fires are being fought in California, with an estimated 1.46 million acres burned so far. According to the state fire agency, Cal Fire, there have been seven reported fatalities and over 2,800 structures destroyed.
 
Acording to the Oregon Department of Forestry, 12,804 acres have burned in Oregon. And there is no end in sight. 
 
At times like these firefighters across the country are deployed to assist, including from here in Minnesota. 
 
US Forest Service Fire Management Officer Patty Johnson tells WTIP that a 10-person crew from Superior National Forest  returned in mid-August from a deployment at Modoc National Forest in northeastern California. 
 
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources firefighter Aaron Mielke to learn if and how Minnesota’s fire crews may be involved in the suppression efforts out west. 
Listen: 

 
City consultant HKGi shared this example of a tiny house that would be allowed with ordinance revision. Photo courtesy of HKGi

City still seeking feedback on housing ordinance changes

In July, the city of Grand Marais tabled a final decision on changes to its zoning ordinance that are intended to make it easier for developers to build housing in the city. The matter was tabled again on August 12, after the city received about 18 public comments on the proposed revision. If passed, there would be changes on lot sizes, setbacks, and for accessory dwellings -- additional housing structures on city lots. The ordinance, with possible changes, can be viewed on the housing ordinance link on the city's website.
 
The consultant hired by the city to help with these efforts, Jeff Miller of HKGi was on hand when the city first decided to slow down the process to change the ordinance so the public had more time to consider the changes and make comments. He shared photos of the various housing concepts, which can be seen by clicking on the photo slideshow above. 
 
Ideas proposed are reducing minimum lot sizes, from 10,000 square feet to 4,000, and lot width from 75 feet to 40. Under the ordinance change, the front lot setback would be flexible, to match the setback of adjacent homes. 
 
These changes could enable developers to create what is described as “accessory dwelling units,” sometimes called “granny pods.” These are small structures built on an existing lot.
 
The proposal also could enable large or small apartment buildings, a townhouse complex, and tiny houses (as long as they are connected to the city’s infrastructure.)
 
The hope, according to HKGi's Miller is to provide guidance for developers who want to create such housing stock but are confused by the actual status of lots in Grand Marais. Many homes were built before the current city ordinance, which was last updated in 1971. Many lots do not comply with the current city housing ordinance. 
 
The council also noted that many Grand Marais citizens seem to be okay with the potential changes, as many single-family homes built in Grand Marais in recent years fit the concepts laid out in the proposed ordinance. Those homes were allowed after the homeowner came to Grand Marais Planning and Zoning and received variances. 
 
Members of the Grand Marais Planning Commission point out that the ordinance changes would bring the regulations in line with what really exists and what would meet the city's vision to help develop more housing. 
 
The city council felt the public had been involved in the ordinance revision process, noting that HKGi had conducted a number of meetings with the public in Grand Marais, including focus groups with some of the stakeholders such as people looking for housing. 
However, the city councilors acknowledged some recent helpful public comments from local realtors and builders. It was agreed that not everyone may be aware of the potential changes that could change the look and feel of the city's residential district.

Councilor Tim Kennedy, who serves on the planning commission, said these changes could mean a dramatic change to the look of the city and said he was comfortable with more public engagement. His colleague on the planning commission, Michael Garry, agreed. Councilors said they perhaps need to do a tour of the city to look at lots where the proposed concepts could be developed. 

There was consensus amongst the councilors, with Councilor Craig Schulte saying the city doesn't want to "reinvent the wheel," but that it is very important for people to have time to really see what the changes would mean. 
 

The council did not set a firm deadline for public comments but said they would give it "about a month" at that July 8 meeting. The next meeting at which the Grand Marais Planning Commission can review public comments and consider changes is Wednesday, September 3. 
 
City Communications Director Patrick Knight says public comments are strongly encouraged. To learn more about the housing situation and possible ordinance changes, visit the city's housing plan webpage here
 
Comments can be sent by email to housingplan@grandmarais.city or mailed to the city at PO Box 600, Grand Marais, MN 55604. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence shares this report on the discussion at the August 12 city council meeting. 

Listen: 

 
Social Justice Vigil on Highway 61 in Grand Marais 08-28-20 - Photo by Rhonda Silence

Concern about conflict at Friday Social Justice Rally in Grand Marais unfounded

Every Friday evening since May 29, a demonstration has been held along Highway 61 in Grand Marais with participants holding signs calling for justice and equality for the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) community. The number of people taking part ranges from 20 to 100, with the gathering on Friday, August 28 numbering 64. The evening rally was invigorated by two concerns—one, the August 23 shooting of a 29-year-old African American man by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and two, the rumor that a counter-protest of some kind was to be held.
 
Denny Fitzpatrick of Grand Marais, one of the lead organizers of the Friday evening event spoke with WTIP. Fitzpatrick explained that participants were concerned about the thought of a group gathering in opposition to the Black Lives Matter message of his group, but came out anyway. He saluted the dedication of the people who come back week after week to keep the issue of racial inequality and justice in the forefront. 
 
WTIP also heard that a gathering to declare support for police had tentatively been planned. The rumored counter-protest did not take place. 
 
WTIP has received comments from some community members who are upset over the treatment of Gary Radloff, Sr., the Grand Marais Municipal Campground host regarding his “Thin Blue Line” flag at his campsite. Radloff willingly removed the flag when he was informed that he could not fly a political sign at his campsite, which is technically city property. See the related story here.
 
That action by the city led some community members to begin flying their own Thin Blue Line flags to show support for Radloff, as well as law enforcement in general. 
 
In fact, Fitzpatrick said there have been a few individuals at the recent Friday evening gatherings quietly standing with a Thin Blue Line flag. Fitzpatrick told WTIP that sort of action is welcome the rally, noting that everyone has the right to let their opinion be known in a peaceful manner. 
 
He added, "Yes, all lives matter, but right now we're talking about black lives matter, because they are the ones who are being shot left and right." 
 
He pointed to a backdrop of signs bearing names of some of the black people who have been killed by police in the United States--Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Philando Castille, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Freddie Gray, and others. 
 
Fitzpatrick also said a peaceful counter-protest is much better than action by a motorist during the August 21 demonstration. A white pickup with a modified exhaust system attempted to blast protesters with black smoke. Witnesses say the man missed most of the protestors and sent a thick cloud of black smoke over diners at the Fisherman’s Daughter/Dockside. See related story here.
 
WTIP talked to Fitzpatrick about that, noting that the protesters called on police during that incident and they had informed the sheriff's office of the potential for conflict at the latest gathering. Fitzpatrick said the group definitely appreciates the local police department. 
 
He said that is not the case everywhere, adding "...there needs to be a restraint on this brutality, that seems to be more and more nationwide, that is not under control."
 
WTIP asked Fitzpatrick if he had a message for anyone in law enforcement, who may feel that demonstrations like the ones being held in Grand Marais are aimed at them. Fitzpatrick said, "I invite them to take part and help out. I hope they are not seeing it as harassment against them personally. But there are individuals who should be called out and held accountable and charged possibly if there are wrong things done. 
 
"They shouldn't take that personally, we appreciate what they do," said Fitzpatrick. 
 
Finally, he said, "We're all in this together. It takes a village. We're all looking for peace and justice. And hopefully, we can make this world a better place."

WTIP's Rhonda Silence visited the Friday evening gathering and spoke to organizer Denny Fitzpatrick. Here's their conversation from downtown Grand Marais. 
 

Listen: