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North Shore News Hour

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  • Monday 12-1pm
  • Monday 5-6pm
  • Tuesday 12-1pm
  • Tuesday 5-6pm
  • Wednesday 12-1pm
  • Wednesday 5-6pm
  • Thursday 12-1pm
  • Thursday 5-6pm
  • Friday 12-1pm
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News

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:
Although the Northland is running out of places to push the snow, more could be headed our way Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 21-22

National Weather Service says more snow on the way

Another round of snow is likely heading into the northland, with the National Weather Service predicting 6 – 8 inches of snow in Cook County starting around 6 p.m. Monday night and continuing through 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22.

The heaviest snowfall is anticipated from midnight Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, so motorists should plan accordingly.

The weather service cautions drivers that roads may be slippery and adds the following advisory:

  • Clear snow and ice from windows and lights.
  • Brake early. Leave twice the amount of room for stopping.
  • Don’t use cruise control in wintry conditions.
  • Don’t cut in front of other vehicles.
  • Take it slow and delay travel, if feasible.

Photo by Rhonda Silence, WTIP


 
Dr. Martin Luther King addressing the Unitarian Universalist Association in Hollywood, Florida in May 1966

North Shore remembrances of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 21 is a special day in the United States. It is the day we come together to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
 
To recognize Dr. King’s impact on so many of us, WTIP shared a very special North Shore News Hour at noon and 5 p.m. on January 21. 
 
Host Rhonda Silence spoke with some local people to hear their thoughts about the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King’s legacy. 
 
We hear from one of WTIP’s longtime volunteers, Tyler Howell about the discrimination his family has faced. 
 
Rhonda talked with Dianne Anderson of Hovland about a church youth trip to hear Dr. King speak in 1961. 
 
Pastor Dale McIntire, of Cornerstone Community Church in Grand Marais, shared a child’s eye view of desegregation. 
 
WTIP board member and volunteer Mike Reeves reads some of Dr. King’s words for us. 
 
In addition, there is some music—poignant and powerful. 
 
Thank you to Tyler, Dianne, Pastor Dale, and Mike for participating. And thank you to all who work to keep Dr. King’s message alive today and every day. 
 
In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “The time is always right to do what is right.” 
Listen: 

 
A young snowmobiler practices under her watchful parent's guidance

Some safety reminders for area snowmobilers

In recent news from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, there were two incidents of a “missing” snowmobiler. WTIP followed up on those reports and learned the lost riders had become separated from a group of other snowmobilers. We asked Mary Manning, a local Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer for some advice on how to prevent that from happening.
CO Manning talked about trail etiquette and safety in this interview.

And she reminded snowmobilers who were born after Dec. 31, 1976, that they need to complete the DNR snowmobile safety course.

Manning said adults do not have to complete the field test as youths do, but can take the training on line. Click here for course information.

For more information about snowmobile safety—or any other outdoor recreational activity in our northwoods—contact CO Mary Manning at (218) 387-5285.
 

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Kelly Swearingen is a new Grand Marais city councilor

Councilor questions newspaper coverage

At the first meeting of each year, the Grand Marais City Council handles its usual annual organizational matters, such as appointment of Councilor Anton Moody to act as mayor if Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux was absent. The council set its mileage reimbursement rate at the IRS suggested level; and councilors selected all three local financial institutions to handle various city accounts.

All of those matters were handled with little discussion. That was not the case with selecting an official newspaper in which to post legal notices.

At the Cook County Commissioners’ meeting just the day before there had some discussion before selecting an official newspaper.

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell informed the commissioners that the rate of the one bidding newspaper—the Cook County News-Herald—was $9 per column inch of newsprint. Cadwell told the board that neighboring Lake County was being charged less than half that rate--$4.40 per column inch.

County Commissioners moved unanimously to adopt the Cook County News-Herald as its official newspaper, with one commissioner noting that the county has no other choice, as the News-Herald is the only publication registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office as an official newspaper.

Likewise the city council had discussion, but the concern was not regarding rates, but some of the News-Herald’s content.
Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux said the city is not required to designate an official newspaper. Administrator Mike Roth said the city already uses its own website, as well as other sources to distribute information to the public. He said whether or not the News-Herald was selected as the official newspaper, the city would continue to do so.

The council ultimately passed a unanimous motion to approve the Cook County News-Herald as its official newspaper, but Councilor Kelly Swearingen added that she was frustrated with some of the publication’s content.

The Grand Marais City Council meets the second and last Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Grand Marais City Hall. 
 

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Valita Bockovich with some Haitian children

Grand Marais woman preparing for third Haitian trip

Cornerstone Community Church in Grand Marais has ties to a community in Haiti, where they help support a church and school. Community members have taken several trips to Haiti and one woman, Valita Bockovich is preparing for her third visit to the island nation. She will be in Haiti from Feb. 25 to March 8. 

Bockovich is hosting a spaghetti dinner and presentation on Haiti at 6:30 pm on Thursday, January 17 at the church, located at 1 Cedar Grove Lane in Grand Marais.

Anyone who would like more information is invited to contact Valita at 218-370-9226.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Valita about her previous visits and the upcoming trip.
 

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The JV Alpine team did extremely well at the KooKoo Invite. Weston Heeren took 1st and Andrew Hallberg took 3rd place.

Cook County/Silver Bay Alpine team hosts KooKoo Invite

The Cook County/Silver Bay Alpine ski team hosted the KooKoo Invite at Lutsen Mountains on Thursday, January 10. It was a challenging day of racing for the North Shore team.

Coach Charles Lamb said the top finisher for the girls’ team was Elsa Lunde, who earned a personal best and a standing in the top 10. She put together two solid runs to finish in 9th place.

The varsity boys’ team earned 2nd overall with Will Surbaugh claiming 2nd place and Cy Oberholtzer taking 6th.

The JV boys did extremely well, with Weston Heeren taking 1st  and Andrew Hallberg taking 3rd.

Coach Lamb said it was a poignant meet, the last for the Cook County seniors—Elsa Lunde, Reilly Wahlers, and Sela Backstrom.

The Vikings now have a bye week and then head to the CEC Invite at Mont du Lac Ski Hill on Thursday, January 24.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence learned more about the meet in this interview with Coach Charles Lamb.
 

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A look at the law enforcement log from the Cook County Sheriff's Office

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 Monday, January 7 to Sunday, January 13.
 
WTIP Community Radio asked for more details on a number of calls, such as a report of suspicious activity at the U.S. Port of Entry in Grand Portage on January 13. That call led to the arrest of a 20-year-old Duluth man who was charged with driving while intoxicated.
 
After putting his Chevy Silvarado pickup in the ditch on Devil Track Road, a 23-year-old Grand Marais man was also charged with DWI on January 13.
 
There were two calls from snowmobilers who had become separated from the group they were riding with, the first on January 9. That rider was in the Esther Lake area in Hovland. He was able to reach the Ontario Provincial Police, which in turn contacted the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
 
Cook County Search and Rescue was activated and after about an hour of searching for the individual, he was found stuck at the Esther Lake campground. Search and Rescue and Border Patrol officers were able to get him out to be reunited with his party.
 
A second snowmobiler called for help from the Cascade River Road in Grand Marais on January 13. The rider did not know where he was, but the law enforcement dispatcher was able to direct him to the nearest road, where he was picked up and taken back to the lodge where he was staying with his group. The snowmobile was left to be picked up later.
 
Animal disturbance calls included a call from a person concerned about an owl sitting on the ground. There was also a call about a missing—and then found—dog in Grand Marais.
 
The Sheriff’s Office handled a number of “public assist” calls. Two were to assist motorists who had gone in the ditch and the report says a deputy assisted with lights and a shovel.  Another public assist call came from a person needing a ride to the doctor’s office.
 
The law enforcement dispatchers also fielded 15 crank 9-1-1 calls during the week.
 
If you need help from Cook County Law Enforcement, dial 9-1-1. For non-emergency calls, contact the Cook County Sheriffs Office at 218-387-3030.
 


 
During the partial government shutdown, many federal offices are closed - Photo courtesy of Russell Davies, Flickr.com

Government shutdown impacts North Shore in many ways

The current partial government shutdown has slipped into the record books as the longest ever. On January 15, the federal government entered Day 25 of the standoff between President Donald Trump and legislators over immigration and a wall on the southern border.
 
Nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments have not been funded.
 
The Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the government's largest agencies, are the most notable exceptions and continue to operate since they were funded through Sept. 30.
 
The previous record for the longest shutdown occurred during President Bill Clinton's presidency. That one lasted from December 15, 1995, through January 6, 1996.
 
The current shutdown appears destined to last at least a few more days, with Democratic lawmakers rejecting President Donald Trump's demands to include $5.7 billion for a border wall in a spending bill.

The shutdown has furloughed 380,000 federal workers and forced an additional 420,000 to work without pay.

WTIP Community Radio has reached out to a number of people in the community to learn how the shutdown is impacting them. Unfortunately, most government employees are hesitant to speak out.

Even when government is functioning full-speed, there are public information specialists that communicate for employees. They are not available during this shutdown, leaving the public—and the employees in limbo.

WTIP is aware of many community members who are awaiting government assistance. Forest users who work with the U.S. Forest Service have seen trail planning projects halted.

Vegetative management planning is on hold. A January 19 ski tour of Gunflint Pines to inform the public of timber work proposed in that area will likely be cancelled.

Dealings with the U.S. Coast Guard are pending, such as relicensing for local boat captains.

The Department of State does not have full staff to process passports, so while citizens can request a passport, it will likely take much longer for it to be completed.

National Parks, like Grand Portage National Monument are shuttered and the wolf study taking place at Isle Royale National Park has been halted.

The Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program, commonly referred to as “food stamps,” will make January distributions early and is unsure if funding will be available for future months.

Scientists collecting weather data have been stymied by the shutdown’s reduction of staff at the National Weather Service.

There are countless other ways the citizens of the North Shore are affected by the partial government shutdown, but none more so than government employees and their spouses.

We spoke to the spouse of a government staffer who agreed to answer our questions on the condition of anonymity. Some of the answers were changed slightly to protect the person’s identity.

WTIP asked how the family was informed that they were being “furloughed” and we were told that workers were aware of the possibility of a partial shutdown before Dec. 22.

However, the family was also aware that shutdowns had been averted in the past through a last-minute vote.

Our government spouse said, “Given our political climate and how funding nowadays is usually done through continuing resolutions and stopgap measures rather than standard appropriations, the threat of a government shutdown is ever-present.” 

There has been minimal communication to government employees and none of them know how long this will drag on. So, we asked a tough question--how are you doing financially?

The person we spoke with said, “Luckily, we’re doing fine—for now.”

This family is a dual-income household and has some savings so they feel they have a buffer.

The furloughed worker can apply for unemployment through the State of Minnesota, which could help fill the gaps, though it is typically about half normal pay.
 
Then if back pay is approved by Congress, all of that unemployment is paid back to the state.
 
Again, we were told, “Overall, we're very lucky. We are aware of colleagues who are struggling a lot more.
 
“Most Americans live something close to paycheck-to-paycheck, and that includes a lot of federal workers. Many federal contractors are much worse off, since they're not federal employees and are missing paychecks with little hope of back pay.”
 
Finally, WTIP asked, What would you say to the politicians involved in this standoff? 
 
The reply: “What I find dispiriting is when politicians and pundits speak about federal workers as if they're bureaucratic parasites or callously dismiss the economic hardships of being forced to go long periods without pay.
 
“The U.S. government employs more workers than any private company in the U.S., and these workers do critical work to keep people safe, provide crucial research, uphold our laws, and protect places that are important to all of us.
 
“A paycheck is important, but my spouse works for the government because my spouse cares deeply about the mission of the agency.
 
“I know my spouse’s coworkers—scientists, technicians, and officers alike—feel the same way. Politicians that drum up antagonism towards the average Federal worker are disingenuously attacking dedicated, everyday Americans and their families who do important work across our nation.”
 

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The SplinterTones, pictured here at WTIP's Radio Waves, will be at the Hovland Town Hall on January 19

North Shore Music Association hosts SplinterTones in Hovland concert

The SplinterTones, which has been dubbed a "high-octane dance band with rousing rythmic grooves, vibrant harmonies and a colorful stage presence," will be appearing at the Hovland Town Hall on Saturday, January 19, from 7-10 p.m.

The event is hosted by the North Shore Music Association and WTIP's Jana Berka speaks with Music Association Director Kate Fitzgerald about how this dance came about, as well as what's ahead for the music association.

Here's their conversation. 

Listen: 

 
CityHall.jpg

City focuses discussion on Highway 61 reconstruction plans

The Grand Marais City Council met on Wednesday, January 9 and like other local government boards, spent the beginning of the meeting on annual organizational matters.

The council had to select one of its members to serve as acting mayor in the absence of Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux. Tim Kennedy has served as acting mayor in the past and said it was only necessary to do so a few times in the past four years. The council asked Anton Moody to fulfill that role for 2019 and he agreed. A unanimous motion passed to appoint him as acting mayor.

The council approved citizen appointments to several boards—Bev Green to the Cook County/Grand Marais/Economic Development Authority; Judie Johnson to the Library Board; and Jennifer Stoltz to the Park Board. All of those citizens were incumbents.

A new person was appointed to the Public Utilities Commission, Melissa Brown.

And the city still has a vacancy on the Planning Commission. Anyone interested in serving on the planning commission can pick up an application at City Hall or call 218-387-1848 for more information.

The council spent most of Wednesday’s meeting talking about something that wasn’t on the agenda, the Highway 61 redesign through Grand Marais—despite the fact that the council had spent the afternoon in a meeting with MnDOT and the Highway 61 on that subject.

Councilor Tim Kennedy started the discussion, asking his colleagues if they should pass a motion supporting the design plan developed by the Creative Economy Collaborative (CEC). That led to over an hour of debate over various merits of the plan and the planning process.

Councilor Kelly Swearingen reiterated what she said at an earlier meeting, that it seems as if the plan could be cut back in some areas. She likened it to a “really nice evening gown” and asked if the city could be satisfied with that, or did it need a “really sparkly evening gown.”

She expressed concern that the city was overdesigning in the desire to get its money’s worth out of the project. As an example she pointed to a proposed “landing” with concrete seating at Third Street and Third Avenue, in front of the Grand Marais Family Dental Office. She asked if that could be removed and just left as a grassy area, possibly with a bench. She also said a seating area in front of the pharmacy building wasn’t necessary.

New Councilor Craig Schulte said he still has reservations for the proposed lane width. He suggested that the council take a measuring tape to the road and measure the distance for trucks to pass through if cars are parked on either side. He said he would like to see the lane width revisited.

Schulte also said that he and a number of other business owners are concerned about the right-of-way acquisition process. He said after an initial contact, business owners have heard nothing from MnDOT regarding how much road right-of-way MnDOT needed, during construction and permanently.

Schulte and Councilor Anton Moody both expressed concern about trucks making deliveries near Harbor House and Angry Trout. These large vehicles are now able to park on the shoulder area, something that would not be possible when the redesign is complete. City Administrator Mike Roth said a strategy has been put in place for that area. He added that the trucks parking in that manner now are doing so illegally.

After more than an hour of discussion, Swearingen moved to approve the design plan if the Third Street and Third Avenue landing was reduced to a green space and park bench. Councilor Moody seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Regarding the business owner concerns that Councilor Schulte spoke about, Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux said he would like the names of those individuals so he could talk to them. He said although right-of-way acquisition is not the city’s responsibility, he would like to advocate for the business owners with MnDOT to try to get some answers.

The meeting wrapped up with councilor reports and during his, Moody noted the amount of snow the city had received. He asked the conversation about parking off the street or odd/even day parking could continue.

Administrator Mike Roth said the county is working on that and should be at the next council meeting with a draft ordinance. Roth said because it would take some time to work out the details of ticketing and towing, it is unlikely the ordinance could be enacted this year.

Moody also asked about letters that went out to property owners about parking RVs on streets. He said he had heard from a neighbor who parked his RV next to his house, not exactly behind his house.  The neighbor wondered if that was in compliance with the ordinance.

Administrator Roth said people with questions should contact city hall. Again, that number is 218-387-1848.
Councilor Kelly Swearingen gave a brief report on Gunflint Hills Golf Course. She said six people have applied for the golf course superintendent position.

Swearingen also pointed out that the recent snows had buried many fire hydrants in the city. Roth said the city crew is working to get everything cleared. He said the problem is that there is only one Bobcat with a snowblower, so it takes time to get all around the city.

Listen: