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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:
Project 61 logo courtesy of the Creative Economy Collaborative

City looks at Highway 61 kiosks, Community Connection, and costs

Highway 61 was the primary topic on the Grand Marais City Council agenda on February 24, starting with discussion of amenities alongside the road. 
 
The council heard from members of the Creative Economy Collaborative about some of the amenities planned for the sides of Highway 61, such as information kiosks and a "Community Connection" area near North House Folk School and the Grand Marais Municipal Campground.  
 
Kiosk Committee members Mary Somnis and Richard Olson attended the meeting to describe the three kiosks that will be installed in the city when the Highway 61 reconstruction project is complete. The kiosks will be at the “Community Connection” near North House, on the harbor at Wisconsin Street and 3rd Avenue West, and at the Grand Marais Public Library.
 
The locations were discussed and Councilor Kelly Swearingen asked if they should be spaced farther apart. Somnis said the locations were picked as known high traffic areas for pedestrians and were part of the original Highway 61 planning.  It would be difficult to change that now, Somnis said, adding that it would add to the cost of the project. However, if funding is available in the future, the CEC would like to add another kiosk on the east end of the city. 
 
The city talked about the walk-through design of the kiosks, the materials to be used, and the information on the kiosks. Each kiosk will have four panels and the city council agreed with the CEC committee that the information should be “evergreen,” which means historical content that won’t become outdated. Each kiosk’s information will pertain to its location, for example, the one near the harbor will share information about the harbor itself. 
 
The Kiosk Committee representatives asked if the council wanted to be involved in the planning process, or if they wanted periodic updates. The council asked for updates as the CEC thought it necessary. 
 
The CEC representatives on the Kiosk Committee are Richard Olson, Greg Wright, Mary Somnis, Katie Clark, Linda Jurek, Betsy Bowen, Gerry Grant, Mary Somnis, and Paul Nordlund.
 
The CEC also reminded the council of the plan for the Morrison Arbor, a feature of the Community Connection inspired by the late George Morrison. See the related WTIP story with photos here: "Community Connection" to feature George Morrison-inspired arbor

However, the city has a decision to make regarding the Community Connection. The design means that some city and private water lines are under the area to be terraced and the Morrison Arbor. There was a discussion on whether or not these lines should be moved during the current highway construction project or left to possibly create major problems if a repair was needed later, once the art structure was in place. Because the Community Connection area is out of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s construction corridor, the additional cost would fall on the city. 

Councilor Anton Moody said he agrees it makes sense to move the waterlines during road construction, but expressed frustration that the council wasn’t aware of this added expense sooner. Councilor Craig Schulte agreed that it wouldn’t make sense to move the structures later, but also expressed his displeasure that the city didn’t know about this until now when it seems urgent. He asked what it was going to cost the city.

Landscape Architect CJ Fernandez and Brad Scott of LHB Engineers were at the meeting to talk about the plans. Fernandez, who has been working with the CEC on the Highway 61 amenities for several years, said the estimated cost of the Community Connection is $200,000 to $240,000. But that is for the Morrison Arbor and other work, not for realigning the water lines. Fernandez and Scott submitted a proposal for research to give an estimate for moving the lines. 

Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux reminded his colleagues that the money for the Community Connection is in the city’s Park budget. He said the Community Connection is part of the Recreation Park Master Plan and suggested that the additional funding could come from the park budget.

Ed Welch, the MnDOT Grand Marais Highway 61 Project Manager, was also at the meeting and the council asked him when MnDOT needed to know what the city wanted to do. Welch said there was some time as the work in the Community Connection area was not slated to begin until August or September. However, he said if this is to be added to the MnDOT contractor’s work, the plans needed to be ready as soon as possible. 

Councilor Moody made a motion asking Fernandez and Scott to bring a cost estimate back to the council. Councilor Schulte seconded, but both again expressed frustration at not knowing this sooner. The cost for that design estimate is $13,273.

Council reaffirms snowmobile route on upper side of highway
Lenny Bloomquist of the Grand Marais Street Department was on hand to answer questions about snow removal. Before talking to Bloomquist, the council again questioned when the decision had been made to move snowmobile traffic to the lower side of the highway.

Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux said the idea of using the Gitchi Gami State Trail, the bike trail, as a pedestrian walkway came from the Active Living/Safe Routes to School steering committee many years ago. 

Swearingen said she thought this had been settled at the last council meeting. She said she believes the snowmobile trail should be on the upper side, where it has been for about 15 years. She noted that snow conditions only allow for use of the snowmobile trail for about four months. She said there is a sidewalk on the lower side of the highway, with intersection bump-outs, for pedestrians now. She suggested that could be used by pedestrians in winter months and acknowledged that it may not make everyone happy, but asked, “Can’t we have some give and take?” 

The mayor asked Bloomquist if it would be possible, as has been suggested by some citizens, to plow part of the bike trail and leave part snow-covered to facilitate both uses on the upper side of the highway. Bloomquist said he would not recommend that, as it would not be level and could be hazardous. Bloomquist said he thinks the safest plan would be to have pedestrians use the south side of the highway. 

The council reaffirmed that the snowmobile trail will remain on the upper side of Highway 61. They asked Bloomquist to ensure that the sidewalk and bump-outs on the south side of the highway are cleared for pedestrians. 

Updating the city administrator’s job description
A copy of the position description for the city administrator was included in the council packet for review. The council had agreed that the city administer should have an evaluation, but because the job description on file is from 2005, it was also agreed that should be updated first. 

Councilor Swearingen said the city council passed a motion back in 2018 for all employees to have an evaluation. That was done, except for the city administrator. Swearingen noted that this is not a reflection of current city administrator Mike Roth. She said the position description and evaluation process needs to be more general in nature, to be used for anyone in the job in the future. 

There was discussion of whether this should be handled by the personnel committee, which consists of Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux and Swearingen, or if it should be handled by a human resources firm. 

City Attorney Chris Hood spoke up, saying that there are people in his office with experience in human resources that could do this work. Hood said the city could ultimately do something different, but he could ask his office to put together a proposal. The council asked Hood to bring something back to the next meeting for the council to consider. 

In other business
*  The city council approved the hiring of a new firefighter, Patty Wilson, for the Grand Marais Fire Department. This brings the fire department roster to 13, far short of the 29 members it is allowed. Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer firefighter is encouraged to contact city hall for more information. 

*  The council gave its final approval of payment of approximately $140,000 in change orders on the Highway 61 construction during 2020. The changes were due primarily to a change in materials in the Broadway intersection and the removal of rock near My Sister’s Place restaurant. 

Councilor Swearingen asked if the city can negotiate to reduce the city’s share of the change order. Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux said that had been done and the city had protested MnDOT’s system for forced change orders with little success. 

*  Councilor Moody asked if the city had responded to the Go Dog North Shore request to establish a dog park on the Sawtooth Bluff property, as was recommended in the Sawtooth Bluff Master Plan. City Administrator Mike Roth said he is meeting with County Administrator James Joerke this week to begin the discussion on this. 

The next meeting of the Grand Marais City Council will be Wednesday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux after the council meeting. Here's their conversation. 
 

 
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School District 166 - a winter view. File photo by Rhonda Silence

Investigation of ISD 166 Gadsden flag concerns may be final soon

At the beginning of February, School District 166 Principal and Acting Superintendent Megan Myers answered the few questions she could about the ongoing investigation surrounding the display of a modified Gadsden flag at the school. The investigation came about after a public outcry over a poster in Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr's office. 

In February, Myers confirmed that an investigation was underway, being conducted by law firm Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A., a Minneapolis law firm. Myers said she was unsure when the investigation would be completed, but noted that "the investigation is moving as expediently as possible."

WTIP followed up with Myers at the start of the new month to see if there was any further information to share. On March 2, Myers told WTIP: "We are hoping to wrap this up by the end of next week."

Asked how the school decided to work with Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A., Myers said it is a firm the school has worked with in the past. WTIP also asked Myers if she knew who had been interviewed during the investigation. She said she does not have access to that information.

According to the Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A. website, representing schools is one of their primary areas of law. The website states, "Our school law attorneys represent and advise school districts in a variety of matters, including labor disputes, harassment and discrimination claims, and student discipline."

A WTIP inquiry to the law firm about the investigation was not answered. 


 
Social distancing sign at a local grocery store. Submitted photo

Local grocery stores on COVID challenges and changes

March 3 marks one year since WTIP Community Radio started coverage of the coronavirus and reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, WTIP has shared daily updates on what is happening on the North Shore, as the pandemic went from abstract news to reality in our community.

Our WTIP website at one time had a long list of closures and cancellations, as well as instructions about how to get groceries from our local stores. The list is gone as the community has settled into a routine, getting used to ordering food online and picking it up in the parking lot. All three local grocery stores- Johnson's Foods, Gene's Foods, and the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op--have been able to reopen for customers, but with some caveats. 

How are our stores doing after a year of challenges and changes?  Here's WTIP Rhonda Silence with a report. 

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School District 166 buses leaving the garage. File photo - Rhonda Silence

Principal provides update as middle school students return to campus

School District 166 is busy preparing for the return of Middle School and High School students. Middle school students will return to school in the hybrid model on Tuesday, March 2 and high school students will be back on campus in the hybrid model on Tuesday, March 9. 
 
WTIP's North Shore Morning host Mark Abrahamson spoke with Principal and Acting Superintendent Megan Myers about what she called a "positive turn of events." 
 
Principal Myers also talked about some activities at the school in celebration of the hard-working school staff. She said Governor Tim Walz has issued proclamations honoring paraprofessionals, and school bus drivers. She said last week was dedicated to school board members and this week the state is recognizing school social workers. Myers said it is meaningful to see the people who keep the school running honored in this way. 
 
Myers also noted that there are openings for substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and bus drivers. More information can be found on those jobs on the school website or by calling the school at 218-387-2271. 
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School District 166 welcome wall - Photo by Rhonda Silence

ISD 166 discusses politics, policies, and the upcoming return to school

The School District 166 school board meeting on Thursday, February 18 had 32 participants, taking part or listening in via Zoom.
 
One person, Rae Piepho of Lutsen, spoke during public comment, questioning the school's policies on the discussion of politics in the school. Piepho said she wanted to address what she described as "teacher bullying." She shared an anecdotal account from a family whose child had been asked to leave the classroom after expressing their opinion on the day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
 
Piepho described an incident shared online. "The students were all asked, on the day after what happened at the Capitol, what they thought about the violence at the Capitol. And one of the students had an opinion, apparently, there was dissension from the teacher's point of view. 
 
"And when he said, what about the violence in Minneapolis last summer, he was told he could leave the class," said Piepho.
She referenced the school faculty guidelines, stating, "Principle one - number one says their professional educator deals considerately and justly with each student. And number two, their professional educator does not intentionally expose the student to a disparagement...."
 
Piepho acknowledged this is a very difficult time for students and teachers, but added, "This, to me is something that is absolutely not acceptable in the classroom. I believe that a teacher should be politically impartial. No student should even know, you know, what they believe. That classroom is a place to learn discernment and reason and critical thinking. And unless something would be unacceptable, you know, in classroom language or whatever, should certainly be welcomed by the teacher, you know, to be listened to not to shut down a kid and make them feel my opinion does not matter."
 
Piepho reminded the school board of the school slogan, "Success for each; respect for all" and said she thought respect was not shown for this student and others by a teacher. 
 
School Board Chair Dan Shirley stopped Piepho's comment and said that because it appears that this may be a personnel matter no action could be taken in a public meeting. 
 
Piepho thanked Principal Megan Myers and the school board for listening but added that she was concerned about student treatment in the classroom and said that she hopes the faculty handbook would be "strictly adhered to." 
 
And, she added, "This is very, very important in the classroom, treating students with respect."
 
Student school board representative report
Junior Olivia Nesgoda, a representative from the student body on the school board, gave a report on a survey she had conducted. Nesgoda shared her personal feelings on distance learning and said that she is not as motivated as normal and she wondered how her peers were feeling. To find out, she conducted a survey. 
 
Nesgoda said she had received 57 responses, which Principal Myers said was about a quarter of the high school population. 
 
Nesgoda said she heard from some students who didn't take the survey because they thought it didn't matter or the school didn't care. But of the students who did respond, 59 percent said they want full in-person learning. 
 
Nesgoda asked her fellow students how they were feeling on a scale of 1-5, with one being the worst (sad, fatigued, withdrawn). She said 29 responders reported feeling sad and unmotivated. But, 28 people said they were coping. 
 
Nesgoda also asked her schoolmates if they were exercising and she said most were getting some exercise or had responded, "I wish I was." Nesgoda said she felt encouraged by that because students understand they need physical activity as a "brain break." 
 
Over 50 percent of students said they are caught up on schoolwork, but many said they were struggling because "none of my deadlines seem real." Nesgoda said she fully agrees with those survey respondents. She said. "Without that person-to-person interaction, it doesn't feel like you have to do it." 
 
Nesgoda told the school board she may get more responses and will share that with the board. She said she hoped the information could be used to support students in some way. 
 
The school board thanked Nesgoda for her work and Board Member Deb White said the report made her really sad. She said all of the students need "a really big hug." 
 
Returning to school with hybrid learning model starting March 2
Principal Myers reported that the school is ready to move ahead with the hybrid learning model for middle school students. She said students will have their first hybrid day on March 2. 
 
Myers told WTIP that teachers are ready to return to class. The second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was administered to a number of teachers last week. Myers said teachers are very excited about being back in the classroom. She said they know how important that is to students. 
 
Myers also gave an update to the board on the efforts for getting high school students (grade 9-12th grades) back in the building in the hybrid mode, as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz recommended in his February 17 announcement. The governor said that students could return for in-school learning as early as February 22, however, ISD 166 was not ready to immediately bring all the students back to classes. The governor gave a directive to get children back in school by March 8. 
Myers said the school/community COVID incident management team would be meeting the next day to review the return to school plan for the high school. She said the tentative date for high schoolers being in the building is March 9, a day after the governor's recommendation. 
 
Myers said March 8 would be a distance learning day, a "C Day," under the hybrid model anyway, so she said that works out well. She said she is happy to be on the path of getting kids back in school. 
 
Board Member Stephanie Radloff asked if there could be any sort of "Welcome Back to School" event, noting what student representative Olivia Nesgoda said about students feeling down. She asked if there could be some way to get kids fired up about being back in school. 
 
Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr said there is a small group looking at that. He said right now teachers are looking at getting kids back in class safely. But he said conversations are starting and there are some teachers who are very motivated to welcome students back. 
 
Radloff said she would like to help with that in some way. 
 
Principal Myers said there will be a time of transition, to get students used to sitting in a classroom again. 
 
Perusing school policies
Principal Myers shared two policies that have been referred to recently--#103 Complaints-students, employees, parents and # 906 Community notification of predatory offenders. She said she wanted the school board to know that the district is in line with state policies.
 
Board members said the policies are basically good, but noted that they are somewhat boiler plate from Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA). 
 
Board Member Deb White said for years the school board has said it would review and update a few policies each month, but noted that it hasn't happened. Board Chair Dan Shirley said a professional could help tailor the policies to the district. 
 
White said she wasn't comfortable spending "thousands of dollars" to have someone do what the board hasn't found time to do. She suggested setting some sort of deadline, other wise it is like a term paper you don't want to do. She said we need to just do it. 
 
Board Member Carrie Jansen said Finance Director Lori Backlund does a great job with finances, but the school district still has an audit every year. She suggested that an audit of policies could be similar. 
 
Board Chair Shirley said the board needs to formalize its process of reviewing policies. He suggested establishing a subcommittee to begin that process. He said the board could get assistance from MSBA. 

Later in the meeting, Principal Myers noted that it can be "dissatisfying" for the public to not get answers on some of the issues addressed in school policies, but said it is the right thing to do, to follow those policies, especially in regard to personnel data. 

She added that she does her best to protect her staff and students, but also pointed out that if there are issues that she needs to be aware of, the public needs to let her know. She said she can't fix something if it is not brought to her attention. 

 
In other business
* During the financial report, Principal Myers pointed out one item of interest, the increase in transportation costs. She said that expenditure is up because of COVID restrictions on riders. Buses are running three times a day as opposed to two times in a regular year. 
 
* Principal Myers said the board has agreed that it wants regular updates from the Local Indian Education Committee (LIEC). She said the format for those updates needs to be decided. Should a member of the LIEC attend school board meetings or provide a written report? Principal Myers or Board Member Deb White, who is on the LIEC, will reach out to see what the committee prefers. 
 
White said the LIEC is a very vibrant, active, and proactive group. She stressed that she would like to have board members become a forum for more people to learn about the Grand Portage community. 
 
A section of the school website has been dedicated to the LIEC. That information on the LIEC can be seen here. An interview with two of the LIEC members, Erik Redix and Anna Deschampe can be seen on the WTIP website here: Learning more about the work of the Local Indian Education Committee. 
 
* Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr said he would like to give some kudos to some people and activities that sometimes go unnoticed. 
 
He congratulated the participants in the recent One Act Play competition. He said they took second at the state competition. He said the actors are a great group of young people and they, and Sue Hennessy did a great job. 
 
He also commended the Alpine and Nordic ski teams. He said new Alpine Coach John Oberholtzer is doing a great job. He said Dave and Becky Bartol are doing a great job with the Nordic ski team. They hosted a meet at Pincushion Mountains earlier in the day. 
 
And, he added that the Robotics program continues to meet, but it is challenging with COVID restrictions. 
 
* Assistant Principal Dorr also said the administration is checking in with every senior and their families to see how they are doing. The school is going to talk with them about future plans and if students need help filling out financial aid forms for post-secondary education. 
 
* Principal Myers talked about some of the activities taking place to recognize Black History Month. 
 
On Monday, February 22, the school/community COVID incident management team made the announcement that hybrid learning would begin for high school students on Tuesday, March 9. There will be no school for high school students on Thursday and Friday, March 4-5 for teacher planning days. 
 
School District 166 is holding a parent/community meeting on Monday, March 1 to discuss the change from distance learning to the hybrid model for high school students. Anyone with questions is invited to participate via Zoom on March 1 at 4 p.m. The link to the meeting will be posted on the school website. 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Principal Megan Myers about the board actions and about the plan to get all students back in school. 
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Broadband internet fiber being installed - Photo courtesy of Arrowhead Electric Cooperative

Arrowhead Electric working to expand broadband service

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative embarked on efforts to bring high-speed internet to all areas of Cook County in 2009. The electric cooperative's True North Broadband now offers 800 miles of fiber-to-home services to customers. 
 
But there are still areas of the county without that access and Arrowhead Electric is working to receive approximately $18 million from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence checked in with Arrowhead Electric CEO John Twiest to find out where the local internet provider is in this complicated federal funding process. 
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Wolf caught in snare, rescued by Grand Portage wildlife biologists. Screenshot courtesy of Director Seth Moore

Distressed wolf rescued and collared in Grand Portage

WTIP received a call on February 20 from a Grand Portage area man who had a very interesting wolf encounter. Brian Neil, who frequently runs along scenic Highway 61, spotted a wolf in the woods just off the highway apparently in distress, possibly caught in a trap. 
 
Neil ran back to his home where he had phone service and called 911 to report the wolf. The 911 dispatcher connected Neil to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which noted that because the wolf was on Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa land, the investigation would best be handled by the Grand Portage conservation office. 
 
That led to a call to Seth Moore, director of Biology and Environmental Services for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Moore and a fellow biologist responded and discovered that the wolf had been caught in a neck snare. It had apparently traveled quite a way after being caught before the snare got snagged on vegetation. 
 
Moore and his colleague were able to tranquilize the wolf, a young female, about 55 pounds, to remove the snare. While the wolf was tranquilized, Moore was able to draw a blood sample and put a radio collar on it. Grand Portage Biology and Environmental Services will track the wolf's movements to see where it travels next. 
 
Moore noted that the neck snare was likely a legal device used for trapping a species other than a wolf. That was the case. 
 
After speaking with Moore, WTIP learned more of the story from a local, licensed trapper. This individual had caught the wolf in a coyote snare on Thursday, February  18. In accordance with Minnesota trapping regulations, unauthorized animals must be released, which was done. It is a job that takes three people, one on a catch pole. The neck snare was successfully removed, however in the scramble, the wolf got away with the cable from the catch pole. That is what got snagged in the brush. 
 
Normally these snares kill an animal, but the wolf not only survived the snare, it traveled many miles with the catch pole cable attached before it became tangled in trees just off Highway 61. 
 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Brian Neil, who first spotted the wolf trapped in the forest as he ran by. Here's their conversation. 
 

Rhonda Silence also spoke with Seth Moore, director of Biology and Environmental Services for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, about the rescue of the snared wolf. 
 


 
The snowmobile trail in Grand Marais had very little snow on Febuary 16. Photo by Rhonda Silence

Snowmobile trail on city agenda once again

The route for snowmobiles entering the City of Grand Marais has been discussed by the Grand Marais City Council at the last three meetings. It was on the agenda again on February 10, with public comments that are practically polar opposites about how the route should be maintained. 
 
 On January 13, a business owner asked the city council to revisit the change made during recent Highway 61 work. At some time during the Highway 61 planning process, it was decided that the snowmobile route would be moved to the lower (south) side of Highway 61. 
However, the commenter who raised concern said there is no way for the snowmobile groomer to groom the trail on the lower side because of the width of the grooming equipment. That was confirmed when the city received a letter from the Cook County RidgeRiders Snowmobile Club at their next meeting on January 27. 
 
The snowmobile club said it had been unaware of the change made during the road construction process and asked the city to return to the original layout that they say has worked for years. 
 
 The snowmobile club gave a number of reasons, noting that the snowmobile trail groomers are nine feet wide--wider than the path they are supposed to take, which is 8.5 feet wide. The club said, in addition, there are mailboxes and signs on that route that create a hazard for snowmobile riders.
 
In the letter, the snowmobile club noted that it had been using the north side of the highway, packing it for snowmobiles and foot traffic for over 15 years with no known accidents. The club also shared concern about snowmobilers crossing at the corner of the Gunflint Trail and Highway 61 where the 40 mile per hour zone begins. They said it is not safe for snowmobiles to cross at that point.
 
The matter came up yet again with more public comment on February 10. The council first read a letter from a snowmobiler who urged the city to leave the snowmobile trail on the upper side of Highway 61. The writer described their enjoyment of snowmobiling and reminded the council that snowmobile tourism is a primary driver of commerce in the winter months. The writer explained their concern about crossing the highway at the Gunflint Trail and Highway 61 intersection. The letter writer ended by saying, “In my mind, the path from gas to the trails must remain on the north side of 61. Surely, creative people can come up with a way to keep everyone safe and contentedly co-existing—safety and directional signage, barriers between sled path and pedestrians, maybe adjustments to the route, but PLEASE do not force riders to cross 61!” 
 
Another writer, who described themselves as a “serial pedestrian” expressed disappointment that the decision to return snowmobiles to the route on the upper side of Highway 61 was made with “little to no discussion.” 
 
The writer noted that at the start of the winter, the north side of the highway was cleared for pedestrians, which they said, was logical because it reduced the number of highway crossings for pedestrians and reduced interactions between pedestrians and snowmobiles. With the pedestrian path on the lower side of the highway, they wrote, someone walking from their home on the north side of the highway to the Post Office would have to cross Highway 61 four times—once to get to the cleared path on the lower side of the highway, back across by the Post Office, crossing again to the cleared south side and finally across back at their residential street. 
 
The writer asked if other measures could be used to make a snowmobile crossing at the Gunflint Trail safer, such as a traffic light or a reduced speed zone. 
 
The letter ended, “I am urging the City Council to reconsider their snow removal policy and give more thought to the safety of pedestrians.” 
 
The council agreed serious thought needed to go into this trail situation, so the same concerns aren’t raised year after year. It was also noted that neither side of the highway had been cleared. The council said they would consult with the city street department about that. 
Street Superintendent Len Bloomquist is on the agenda for the February 24 council meeting to talk about sidewalk clearing. 
 
Park and Marina report
Grand Marais Parks and Recreation Director Dave Tersteeg gave an update on activities at the municipal campground and marina, refreshing the city council’s memory on the process undertaken to develop a Park Master Plan in 2009. 
 
Tersteeg noted that the Park Master Plan had specifically stayed away from any development on the waterfront, as there had been some conflict in the community over the idea of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Safe Harbor. 
 
Since then, the park has been working with the DNR on improvements to the boat launch area of the campground. The DNR sought and has been approved for approximately $2 million dollars in state bonding for the project which will include an expanded parking area, improved boat launch, and an addition to the inner break wall. The break wall improvements will convert the rubble wall to create a walkway. 
 
The council noted that this is a DNR project and the city has not contributed funds. Although the construction of the new public utilities building on West Highway 61 came about in part to allow space for the boat launch improvements. 
 
Tersteeg said bids had been let and the DNR should know the results soon. The plan for the work includes bringing in materials for the project before spring road restrictions begin. 

What's ahead for the city

The next Grand Marais City Council meeting will be Wednesday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m. In addition to discussion of Highway 61 sidewalk maintenance, the council will hear an update from the Creative Economy Coalition (CEC), the citizen group planning for artistic amenities along Highway 61. A review of the city administrator's job description is also on the agenda. The meeting can be viewed on the city's YouTube channel via a link on the city website

WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux about all of this and more. 

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Lifelink 3 Flight Paramedic Jason White - Submitted photo

Paramedic Jason White: from ambulance to medical helicopter

North Shore residents often hear and see emergency medical helicopters flying overhead, transporting critically ill or injured patients to Duluth hospitals. Those LifeLink 3 helicopters are staffed by flight paramedics. 
 
WTIP's Rhonda Silence checked in with Jason White, a Grand Marais man who recently joined the Lifelink 3 crew, to learn what that has been like. 
 
Here's their conversation. 

 

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Dappled Fern Fibers' Dorothy Broomall and Mary Ellen Ashcroft. Photo credit - Renee Kinworthy

A poetic beginning for Dappled Fern Fibers

WTIP likes to share news of local businesses -- new businesses, new owners, milestone achievements. Our latest offering is about
Dappled Fern Fibers, which is starting online with the goal of weaving the community together. 

Mary Ellen Ashcroft and Dorothy Broomall have launched their fiber-themed business with a website offering specialty yarns, patterns, and knit-along workshops. They plan to eventually open a store in a building, but for now, they are building community through their website. 

The women came up with the idea for their business while on a canoe trek this fall, as they paddled past the sun-dappled ferns onshore. It reminded them of a favorite poem that seems to turn up in serendipitous moments, Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins. 

We've shared the poem below, along with an interview with Mary Ellen and Dorothy. 
 

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
 Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
 Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
 Praise him.
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