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North Shore News Hour


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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:
Team Lutsen 2019 - The Lutsen Alpine team took 3rd in the season championship meet on March 3 - Photo by Silvi Duclos

Team Lutsen has great season finale at championships

The Lutsen Alpine team—Team Lutsen—is a group of young skiers, ranging in ages from six to 15 years old, who take part in the National Junior Ski Racing program.

The energetic team is coached by John Oberholtzer and Plamen Dimitrov. WTIP’s Rhonda Silence sat down with the coaches for a report on the season. Click below to hear that interview. 

Coach Dimitrov also shared the following report with WTIP Community Radio:

Lutsen Junior Alpine ski racers competed in all five regular season ski races this season. They earned multiple podium appearances in each race, within the various age groups.

The Championship race is the last race of the season, and brings another level of competition. In addition to the individual race and awards, this event includes a team competition, based on the performance of each racer.

This year’s Championship race was held Sunday, March 3 at Lutsen Mountains on the steep slopes of Koo-Koo.

Despite the cold weather 180 racers turned out, divided into several age groups, competing in one Giant Slalom and one Slalom run.  

Twenty-six of these racers were from Team Lutsen. Our racers had an excellent day, finishing in three 1st places, four 2nd places, along with a handful of top 10 finishes.

When the dust settled Team Lutsen took 3rd place, in a very close competition, just behind Team Mont Du Lac in 1st, and Team Mount Ski Gull, which came in 2nd.

It is worth noting these two teams have a larger number of racers, which makes the accomplishment by our Team Lutsen racers more impressive.

This race will not be possible without the help of Lutsen Mountains and over 30 parents and other volunteers.

Several seventh graders have participated in practices and raced with the Cook County High School team this season – Ray Dressely, Weston Heeren, Cy Oberholtzer, Andrew Hallberg, Elijah Blanck, Kalina Dimitrova and Alessandra Duclos.

It is good to see the continuation of their effort on the next level of competing, and to see them grow as racers and individuals.
I would like to add despite the long season, our racers have demonstrated resiliency, camaraderie, and sportsmanship, beyond what us coaches can teach.

For more information and photos of Team Lutsen, visit the team Facebook page. 


Josie Freeberg and Brandon Curtis talk about life as a mail carrier - Photo by Rhonda Silence

Carrying the mail on the North Shore

Many North Shore residents are celebrating a "good" snow year. Skiers and snowmobilers are reveling in the great trail conditions. However, the amount of snow we've received can be difficult for some. There are some northlanders who would be happy to never shovel another scoop of snow. 

And there are some jobs that are made more challenging by winter weather. We caught up with two of those folks, Josie Freeberg and Brandon Curtis, who are rural mail carriers. Here's their thoughts on delivering the mail on our snowy roads. 


Cook County Sheriff's Office lights - WTIP photo

A look at the Law Enforcement Log

Each week the Cook County Sheriff’s Office provides a brief report of calls made to the Cook County Law Enforcement Center in the past week. This week’s report provides details logged by law enforcement dispatchers from February 26 to March 3, 2019.

During that time, the Sheriff’s Office assisted other law enforcement agencies with a number of matters—the probation office with inmate testing; back up for a conservation officer; and booking an individual arrested by the Minnesota State Patrol.

On March 2, there was a report of theft, which Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen said is now under investigation. On March 3, the Sheriff’s Office arrested an individual for theft

A call reporting criminal sexual conduct on Feb. 27 was determined to be unfounded. No further information is available as this is a juvenile matter.

Sheriff Eliasen said a Feb. 28 call listed as “threats” was actually from a reporting party who was nervous because another party was in the same building and they have a “history.”

The Sheriff’s Office received some good news on Feb. 26 regarding a handgun that had been reported stolen. The party called to say the gun, which had been missing since 2016, had been found.

There was a call reporting the sound of shots in Grand Marais on March 1. The Sheriff’s Office said it was a private party shooting on private land.

Sheriff deputies handled a number of public assistance calls for a party running out of gas; two drivers requesting tows; a broken down snowmobile; help with changing a flat tire; and help in retrieving a purse left behind and locked in a building. Deputies also gave an intoxicated person at the casino a ride home.

A deputy was called to address a civil matter – a snowplowing issue between neighbors.

The Sheriff’s Office received a copy of a trespass letter.

On Feb. 27, deputies were called to check the hazard of sand on the highway.

There were two calls reporting parking problems at the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino, one reporting an out-of-gas car blocking an intersection and the other left in a private parking lot for a week.

A call reported suspicious activity on Feb. 27, which led to an investigation of a juvenile. Two other suspicious activity calls came in, one from a homeowner who reported that things were moved around in a home. There were concerns that someone may have been inside. A final suspicious activity call ended up being a juvenile prank.

Deputies were asked to check the safety and well being of two individuals visiting the county, one on the Gunflint Trail; one in Grand Portage. Deputies also responded to a caller concerned about a person walking on the highway at 4 a.m.

There were a number of animal disturbance calls, most related to deer. There was an injured deer on Highway 61 on Feb. 26, then reports of dead deer on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28. There was a report of a car/deer crash on East Highway 61 on March 3.

The only non-deer-related animal call was a dog found by a deputy on March 2.

Dispatchers handled a call about a power outage in Grand Marais on Feb. 28.

A telephone scam was reported to law enforcement on March 1.  

There were five traffic stops, with four reprimands and one citation. There were 10 stops to check residences or businesses and five medical calls.

Dispatchers answered three crank or misdialed 9-1-1 calls.

If you need help from Cook County Law Enforcement, dial 9-1-1. For non-emergency calls, contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at 218-387-3030.

Lutsen has two citizens interested in the supervisor vacancy on the town board. Photos courtesy of the candidates

A contested race for Lutsen township supervisor

The official filing period to run for office on the local township boards closed in mid-January and township elections are coming up next week, March 12.

Lutsen is the only township that has a contested race for a supervisor seat. Incumbent Rae Piepho has filed for reelection and she is challenged by Carl Friesner.

Lutsen does not have a candidate for the treasurer seat, which has been filled by John Groth for over 14 years. WTIP reached out to Groth to ask if he would do an interview about his time on the town board and he said he would like to respectfully decline.

Groth said he was not running again for personal reasons and he added, “I hope my work and what I accomplished in service to Lutsen will speak for itself.”

Indeed, town clerk Sharon Hexum-Platzer tells WTIP that John will be “terribly missed.”

All of the West End townships are holding elections and annual meetings on Tuesday, March 12. Polls are open from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Lutsen and Schroeder townhalls and at Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte.

The annual meetings follow poll closure and all citizens are encouraged to attend.

Although there are no other contested town board races, WTIP reached out to all of the folks who will be on the township ballot. Click here to hear from the Tofte township.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with both of the Lutsen supervisor candidates. Click on their name below to hear those interviews.  

Sarah Somnis is running for reelection as supervisor on the Tofte Town Board - Photo courtesy of the candidate

Tofte voters to select supervisor and treasurer

The official filing period to run for office on the local township boards closed in mid-January and township elections are coming up next week, March 12.

WTIP has reached out to all of the candidates for town board seats to learn a little more about them.

In Tofte, Supervisor Sarah Somnis is running for reelection for a second term. She is unopposed.

Current Tofte treasurer is Dan Shirley, who did not file for reelection. Shirley, who owns and operates Sawbill Canoe Outfitters and serves on the School District 166 School Board, said he would like to give someone else the opportunity to serve.

However, since no one filed to be on the ballot for the treasurer seat, Shirley said he would be willing to serve is elected as a write-in candidate.

Here’s Rhonda Silence with the Tofte candidates. Click on their names below to hear their thoughts.


Sarah Somnis likes to help people find their style. Here's another sample of her work. Photo courtesy of Sparkle Services

Need some sparkle?

Sarah Somnis is a Tofte town supervisor and works for Cascade Maintenance Services. Within the maintenance service, there is a new division--Sparkle Services. Sarah heads up that department, offering all sorts of design service to commercial and private property owners. 

It's an interesting business name, so WTIP wanted to learn more. Here's Rhonda Silence with Sarah Somnis. 


A new section of Gitchi Gami Trail is under consideration for Lutsen - Image courtesy of ARDC

Planning in progress for Gitchi Gami State Trail in Lutsen

When complete, the Gitchi-Gami State Trail will be an 89-mile paved bicycle trail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais. It is being constructed in phases and so far almost 30 miles has been completed, so that means there is a lot to go.

Eventually, the Gitchi-Gami Trail will go through the township of Lutsen and to learn more about that, WTIP's Rhonda Silence caught up with Lutsen Supervisor Andrew Beavers. 

More information on the trail planning for Lutsen can also be found on the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission website. 


Grand Marais City Hall

Grand Marais sets priorities, considers redevelopment of city hall

The Grand Marais City Council held its last February meeting on Wednesday, February 27 and tackled a full agenda.

The council considered proposals from the Minnesota Department of Transportation for land acquistion for the upcoming Highway 61 road reconstruction through the city. The council passed motions to accept the right-of-way acquisition offers for two of three parcels. Councilors had questions on the remaining site and will follow up on that.

Grand Marais Fire Department Chief Ben Silence and Assistant Chief Aaron Mielke were at the council meeting to answer questions about the new operations manual for the volunteer fire department. The council approved the changes, which formalize much of the work the firefighters are already doing. Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux said the adoption of the manual could mean a reduction on city property owner's home insurance. The mayor gave kudos to the fire department for the work they do.

The city and fire department officials also talked about the current and future condition of fire hydrants in the city. The importance of clearing snow from fire hydrants was stressed.

The fire department is also working with the city public works department to flush fire hydrants this spring. It could mean some disruption to water service for Grand Marais PUC customers, but it needs to be done periodically to keep fire hydrants in good working order.

The council shared information on the work session held to set city priorities, which the mayor shared on his blog 
as follows:
1. City code update and enforcement - Review, update, create enforcement strategy
2. Update city/county agreements - Start conversations to renegotiate and update agreements
3. Redevelop city hall/liquor store site - Explore all options of development, including private development, considering cost and ongoing impact to the community
4. Highway 61 - Advocate for community needs before and during construction. Work with MnDOT to establish maintenance agreements
5. Housing - Evaluate city programs/regulations and potential changes to address housing. Identify a strategy to invest in housing
6. Capital Improvement Plan - Continue to maintain a capital improvement plan to fund upcoming, scheduled projects and to begin planning for upcoming projects that are not yet scheduled.

The council had some discussion of priority number 2 – the possible redevelopment of the city hall/liquor store building. The council agreed to issue a request for proposals for development of the building. The mayor stressed that the building is not for sale at this time. He said the city wants to gather ideas for future use of the site.

The city also made its selection to fill the vacancy on the Grand Marais Planning Commission. Two citizens expressed interest – Michael McHugh and Phil Oswald. The council said both candidates would be great additions to the commission, but ultimately selected McHugh for the seat. Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux asked Oswald to put his name in for the next vacancy that arises.

The council also asked interested citizens to consider applying for a vacancy on the Grand Marais Park Board.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with the mayor after the meeting to learn more about all of these topics.


The Trout Derby on West Bearskin yielded some very nice sized trout on Saturday - Photo courtesy of Cook County RidgeRiders

Great fishing at Cook County Ridge Riders Trout Derby

Despite cold temps and high winds, the Cook County Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club had a great turnout for their annual Trout Derby on Saturday, March 2, held this year at West Bearskin Lake.

Samantha Wallner of the Ridge Riders said about 70 people came out – some to fish; some to enjoy lunch and some just to see friends and enjoy snowmobiling in the area.

Fishing was decent for the derby. Brandon Marxen took first place with an 11 lb trout.  Robin Bue was 2nd with a trout weighing 9 lbs 9 oz.  Barry Pederson was 3rd with an 8 lb 11 oz trout and Kevin Sheils was 4th with 7 lb trout.  Jimmy Wallner was 5th with a 6 lb 14 oz trout. There were a number of other fish caught, all around 3 pounds.

The Ridge Riders report that a good time was had by all.

James Zimmer, a CCHS graduate and retiree from the U.S. Army is now working at Cook County Public Health - Photo Rhonda Silence

James Zimmer: From the Army to the North Shore

James Zimmer, a 1998 Cook County High School graduate, recently moved back to Grand Marais after 20 years in the U.S. Army. He had an interesting military career and earned his Master’s degree in social work while serving.

WTIP invited James to come talk to us about his experiences. Here’s Rhonda Silence with more.