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North Shore News Hour


  • Monday 12-1pm
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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.

What's On:
Cook County Community YMCA - Photo by Rhonda Silence

Cook County YMCA--memberships, history and finances

When the planning was under way for the opening of the Cook County Community YMCA, there was a lot of discussion about what it would take for the YMCA to succeed. In a number of meetings the planning committee heard that the YMCA would be successful if 400 people became members.
The membership numbers far exceed that number. There are now 1,650 members, which includes children that are part of a family membership. Membership units, which are those family groups, as well as “Silver Sneakers” members who receive free or reduced membership, total 968.
Looking at those numbers, the Cook County YMCA should be meeting the original benchmark for success. Is that the case?
How does the county and city subsidies for the YMCA fit into the picture? WTIP’s Rhonda Silence sat down with Cook County YMCA Director Emily Marshall to ask those questions. Here’s that report.


Craig Schulte is the new member of the Grand Marais City Council

Craig Schulte is new city councilor

The Grand Marais City Council met last night (Wednesday, December 12) and the first order of business was selecting a citizen to fill a council vacancy.

The vacancy was due to Carl “Pete” Gresczyk declining the council seat to which he had been elected in November. The city council announced the vacancy and asked citizens with interest in being appointed to the council to apply. Two Grand Marais residents did so, Craig Schulte, who ran for the city council in the November election and local business woman Anna Hamilton.

Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux said they were both “outstanding applicants,” a thought echoed by his council colleagues. The council asked both Schulte and Hamilton to give a brief statement explaining why they were interested in serving.

Schulte said he had given his statement in an election forum on WTIP, but restated that he wanted to help give business owners a voice, as well as represent the city taxpayers. He said he had some government experience, having served on the public utilities commission. He added he would like the opportunity to serve.

Hamilton also spoke, stating that she has essentially the same things to say as Schulte, but added that she had recently sold her business and now has time to be involved in local government. She said she has concerns about how growth is impacting the community.

Councilor Tim Kennedy noted that Schulte may have a conflict as the city purchases fuel from his business, the Grand Marais SuperAmerica. A business conflict is why Gresczyk decided not to take the council seat after being elected. However, Mayor DeCoux said it shouldn’t be a problem because Schulte doesn’t have a contract with the city.

City Administrator Mike Roth said the research done regarding conflict of interest for Gresczyk can be used in Schulte’s case. He said it is something that can be worked through.

Council members agreed to appoint Schulte to fill the vacancy, primarily because Schulte had expressed interest earlier and that he had put his name on the ballot. Councilor Anton Moody made the motion, Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

After the motion, council members thanked Hamilton for coming forward and encouraged her to consider serving on other city boards or commissions, such as the Planning & Zoning Board or Public Utilities Commission.

Schulte then took the oath of office and was seated for his first action as a councilor—taking part in the city’s Truth-in-Taxation hearing.
Administrator Roth gave a short presentation on the city’s 2019 budget, which he said includes a 2.72 percent increase, less than the 5.99 increase tentatively set earlier this year. There was an opportunity for public comment, but no citizens came forward.

The rest of the city council meeting was spent looking at the Highway 61 report from the Creative Economy Collaborative with recommendations for amenities such as benches, bike racks, and trees. Roth also shared estimated costs of the projects. The council will review the plans for more discussion in January.

School District 166 - Eagle entrance

Superintendent answers levy and language questions

The school board of School District 166 will be meeting on Thursday, December 13 for a regular meeting and for its Truth-in-Taxation session. The board will convene the meeting with a time for public comment at 5 p.m. and will take a recess at 6 p.m. for Truth-in-Taxation presentation.

WTIP checked in with Superintendent Bill Crandall to find out what the public can expect at the meeting.

Also part of the interview is a discussion of something not on the agenda. WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Superintendent Crandall about the options for students for whom English is a second language.


Speak your Peace representatives Rob Karwath and Monica Bruning with WTIP's Rhonda Silence

County considers participation in "Speak Your Peace" civility project

The Cook County Board of Commissioners is considering a resolution to take part in the “Speak Your Peace” civility project.
Rob Karwath from North Coast Communications and Monica Bruning from the Duluth Superior Community Area Foundation visited the county on Monday, December 10 to lead a “Speak Your Peace” event in Grand Marais.
The next day they spoke at the commissioner’s meeting after which the county board discussed whether or not it should pass a motion to become involved with “Speak your Peace.”
Commissioner Bob Deschampe said he would like to speak with other counties and his colleagues in county government before adopting the resolution.
His colleagues agreed, voting to the table the resolution until January.
Just what is under consideration? What is “Speak your Peace”? WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation representatives to learn more. Here’s that conversation.



It's Christmas Bird Count time!

The 2018 Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday, December 15, with some birds being counted during "count week" -- three days before and three days after the actual count date. Both feeder watchers and walking/driving birders are once again needed for this year's count.

When the counting day work is complete, participants will gather at Voyageur Brewing Company to compile results. For more information, contact organizer Jeremy Ridlbauer at 218-370-0733 or email 

There is a decades old Christmas Bird Count in Cook County, as well as across the state. The first known Minnesota Christmas Bird Counts were conducted on Christmas Day 1905 in Minneapolis and Red Wing. During those last 109 years, the Christmas Bird Count has been conducted uninterrupted in the state and has grown to include almost 70 census circles and involved more than 28,000 participants. Each year more than 1,000 participants canvass the state to conduct the survey.

How does someone become a counter? WTIP volunteer talks to local Bird Count organizer Jeremy Ridlbauer to learn just that. 


The Gitchi Gami State Trail section from Cutface Creek to Grand Marais will include a bridge like this over the Fall River.

DNR stands firm on Fall River bike trail bridge

In October, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced its decision on the construction of a bridge over the Fall River in Grand Marais for the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail.

The location of the bridge had garnered support of the Gitchi Gami Trail Association, Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber, as well as many bicyclists. However, the placement of the bridge near a Fall River waterfall was -- and continues to be – a disappointment to some North Shore community members.

Rhonda Silence checks in with the DNR to learn more about the decision.



Library Friends facing challenges

Library Friends of Cook County was founded in 1995 to support the Grand Marais Public Library, as well as local school libraries. In the past the focus of the group has been on literacy overall and the organization has donated books to all of the county’s schools, and hosted writer workshops and author talks.

One of Library Friends' activities that is most familiar to North Shore residents and visitors is the annual book sale at Fisherman’s Picnic. The annual event fills the Cook County Community Center curling arena with tables of books, sorted into categories. 

However, the future of Library Friends may be in jeopardy. There may not be a Library Friends book sale at Fisherman's Picnic in 2019 if more volunteers are not found.  WTIP’s Rhonda Silence learns more in this interview.


Ice on Lake Superior

North Woods Naturalist: Ice

WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about how ice is formed on our lakes and rivers in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.


Governor-elect Walz spoke briefly, then sat and took notes of community members comments and questions

Governor-elect Tim Walz meets community in Grand Portage

Governor-elect Tim Walz and Lt. Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan set out on a five-day listening tour of the state on November 29. The “One Minnesota” tour included a stop in Grand Portage on Monday, December 3, where he asked North Shore residents what they want his administration to know.

At the Grand Portage event, Walz thanked all who came out to talk to him and encouraged everyone to remain involved. He said he is seeking citizens to serve on his cabinet and shared the mission statements of different divisions such as the Department of Agriculture, Corrections, Education, Human Services and many others.

For more information on those positions, click here. The deadline for applications is December 7.

December 3 was a busy day for Walz and his staff as they traveled from Silver Bay to Grand Portage and then back down the shore to Duluth. After the Grand Portage meeting, Rhonda Silence caught up with him on the road for a few more questions.

Scroll and click below to listen to that interview as well as a report on the gathering at the Old Log School building in Grand Portage.


Breakfast was served by helpful Girl Scout elves

Pancakes and presents at Santa's Workshop

Saturday, December 1 was a very busy day for Cook County Girl Scouts. Nearly 100 shoppers and many other visitors came to the Cook County Community Center to enjoy the day of holiday fun.

Girl Scouts and leaders prepared a pancake breakfast and chili lunch. Girl Scouts flipped pancakes, filled syrup containers and bussed tables throughout the day.

They also escorted kids to the secret shopping area where no adults are allowed. Scouts helped kids pick out presents for parents, siblings and friends and wrapped them, insuring a nice surprise under the tree on Christmas Day.

There was also an appearance by a special guest, Santa Claus himself. Bruce Johnson Photos was there to take pictures with Santa.

Girl Scouts of Cook County expressed appreciation to all the community members who donated gift items to offer in Santa’s Workshop. Shopping wouldn't be as fun, or as special for gift recipients without that help.

Girl Scouts do much more than host Santa’s Workshop. Local Girl Scouts have traveled to Savannah, Georgia, Seattle, Washington and more. Girls have learned cooking skills, first aid, about the arts and business. They’ve been flag bearers at events and in parades. They’ve been empowered to help others by planting community gardens, helping the homeless in Duluth and animals at the local shelter and much more.

But none of this happens without caring adults. There are local girls who want to be scouts, but not enough leaders to form a troop. Leaders and co-leaders are needed for just about all ages. If you would like to know more about how you could help, please contact Arvis Thompson at 387-2487 or Rhonda Silence at 370-0378.

See more Santa’s Workshop photos and information on Facebook at Girl Scouts of Cook County.