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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!


What's On:
Ore Boat on Lake Superior.  Photo by Travis Novitsky

Anishinaabe Way: Christine Stark

Christine Stark AW.mp311.03 MB
Christine Stark is a writer and researcher who contributed to the 2011 report, "Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in MN." She is currently working on a follow up report called "Gathering Our Stories: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women on the Duluth Ships," which focuses specifically on the Native American and First Nations women who are the victims of prostitution and sex trafficking on the Great Lakes. In this segment she discusses the historical factors that contribute to the victimization of Indigenous women and provides a perspective on what can be done to help the women and the communities heal from what she calls an "indescribable assault against Native people" within the context of regional and national history.

Sheriff Mark Falk

A steady month of bookings and transports

Sherriff_Mark_Falk_20140128.mp39.62 MB

Slick roads and a steady month of bookings and transports:  North Shore Morning host Mary Manning spoke with Cook County Sherriff Mark Falk.


Superior Cycling Association

Superior Cycling Association busy year round

SupCyclingAssoc_Harju_repack_20140127.mp38.79 MB

The Superior Cycling Association will hold their Annual Meeting on Tuesday, February 4th at 6:30 pm at the East Bay Suites in Grand Marais.  North Shore Morning host Ann Possis spoke with Adam Harju to learn more about warm weather racing and cold weather fat biking in this interview.


Grand Marais Senior Center

Individual Medicare counseling available

MedicareCounseling_Bottila_repack_20140123.mp37.64 MB

Marjorie Bottila is a Senior Outreach Specialist with the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging.   She'll be in at the Cook County Senior Center in Grand Marais, Wednesday January 29th.  Individual appointments for Medicare counseling can be scheduled through the Senior Center at 387-2660.  North Shore Morning host Marnie McMillan learns more in this interview.


PolyMet Mining proposed processing facility at the former LTV Steel Mining Co. plant near Hoyt Lakes, MN

Non-ferrous mining supporters, critics convene for Polymet's Duluth public meeting

Polymet Meeting Duluth_20140120.mp310.38 MB

A proposed open-pit copper mine near Hoyt Lakes has sparked an impassioned debate across northeastern Minnesota. Last week in Duluth, the DNR hosted the first public meeting about the supplemental draft of the project's environmental impact statement, a document that will play a major role in the permitting process.
Duluth Correspondent Phil Bencomo brings us this report.

Making the trek

Magnetic North: Polar Bearing-up

Magnetic North_Finalcut_20140117.mp312.45 MB

Welcome back to Magnetic North, where Mother Nature showed her Mommy Dearest face to us through the holidays and beyond.
It came to be called the Polar Vortex. A bracing name for being held in the grip of incessant snowy days at temperatures well below zero. Bringing all the attendant woes along with it.
My little part of the world got off easy. At first.
The pre-Christmas snow dumped a skinny 18 inches on the farm. But since the wind blew for three days and nights, I shoveled and blew those 18 inches multiple times in order to carry grain, water and hay to my critters.
The path to the barn was the toughest.
Since the expanse of yard is wide open to the south, the direction of the lake effect snow and wind, the 300-foot-long path drifted over time and again. And although goats are one of the two domesticated creatures on earth who can go feral and survive nicely, thank you - the other being cats - I feel compelled to make that trek at least once daily with vittles for them.
Their hay is stored in one side of my two-car garage, right outside my back door. Last year it was stored in the barn, so when I sprained my ankle doing chores in February, I merely opened the door between the goat stable and hay storage area and told them: “You’re on your own!” A fine solution.
At first. Come summer, the once towering hay bales had been trampled to a thick floor, the barn loft and its contents invaded and strewn about.
But it wasn’t all bad.
I finally found the Fisher-Price castle and purple dragon my sweet husband had “put away” in the loft 10 years before the birth of my grandchildren - they are now 8 and 12. And the hay mat covering the barn floor gave the youth group from my church a dandy project last fall.
Then there was the Polar Vortex. I could be wrong, but it seemed as though we had snow for weeks, even during the plunge into the nether regions below zero. So much for “too cold to snow.”
And so much for Christmas day plans.
 A friend and I visited the Maple Hill cemetery that day with the intention of putting beautiful wreaths on our husbands’ resting places. (Why is it so icky to say the word “graves?”)
It was the first Christmas without them for both of us. So being with them in some way seemed quite fitting.
We brought snowshoes. Ladders would have really helped.
The one plowed road into the cemetery and past the little white Maple Hill Church over looking the harbor had 4-foot-high sides. Those walls of snow were hard-packed enough for me to wedge the toes of my snowshoes in and clamber up and over them. Only 10 or so feet to Paul’s grave marker. Ten or so feet in 23-oot-deep snow.
What was supposed to be a sweet story turned quickly into a contender for winner of World’s Funniest Videos.
Suffice it to say that I got my wreath on the metal rod sticking up over Paul’s plot.  And while doing it I had the very real sensation of far-off chuckling. What we do for love!
The week leading up to New Year’s Day found our county sinking farther and farther down into the minuses. Highs were laughably reported in minus double digits. Snowbirds cruelly telephoned to see if we were OK. Give me a break! We know why they called!
My troubles of 2014 began Jan. 1 when I turned into a new ‘ driveway to welcome them to the ‘hood with fresh-layed eggs and a stollen I’d baked. Into the ditch I went. Lucky for me they were home. And super nice. We got to know each other well as I waited for the tow truck. But by the time I pulled out of their driveway I’d already missed a New Year’s Day party so headed home to feed the critters.
That’s when I found I had no water.
No water. And four 5-gallon buckets to fill twice a day. Not to mention MY needs.
Ah, but all that snow, you say. My daughter in California told me that it was so lucky I had - by this time - several feet of snow I could harvest and melt for anything I needed.
I won’t repeat what I said to her. But fact is that a spaghetti pot full of snow melts down to just over an inch of water. And there is always “stuff” in that water.
Again, luck was on my side, though. The former owner of this place tapped an artesian spring, routed it into our lower level into a huge tile and blessed all future occupants with emergency water backup.
And so, in the 48 hours it took me to find the rogue pipe - the one to the outside spigot that SOMEONE had removed the pink fuzzy insulation from - I did just fine.
Until the sink drain plugged up.
Now city folks get snarly when a drain clogs. But up here, in winter, after a few cosmic ha-has and with a nifty grey-water line given to freezing, one goes right from irritated to panic.
At first.
Finding all other drains open and draining well, I grabbed the tools of my trade - drain opener poison and a 2-yard long plumber’s snake and went to work. The poison proved worthless, so to the snake.
And voila! With only a few easy twists in the drain, the snake opened the clog! I patted myself on the back and yodeled a victory cry.
Then I perceived a wet sensation around my slipped feet. Water, poison water, yet, was pooling on the floor.
Again, that chuckling somewhere around me came. And with it a reminder of what Paul always told me: “You’ll be fine. You can fix anything.”
Well, I tried. I got all the parts, spend lots of quality time on my back upside down, head in a place where garbage and other creepy stuff dwells - Josh Grobin in the background helped - to no avail. At last, I did what my mother always told me: “Get someone who knows what they’re doing!”
Meanwhile, the snow continued. The path to the barn drifted and, eventually, the drifts sucked the power going to the electric fence right into their greedy depths.
The goats, all five, stood OUTSIDE the fence looking over the drifts at me. I stood at the back deck, new bale of hay on the sled. And I did the only sane thing. I bleated at them. “Come and get it!”
Shocked, they looked at each other and didn’t move.
“Come to me...” I bleated....”Or else!”
And so they did. Their path was serpentine, not straight. But then, they’re goats. And for over a week now, even though snowing every day has ceased and the daytime highs are actually in the positive double digits, I continue to put the hay by the woodshed just a few feet from the back door and the goats come to me.
Why didn’t I think of this decades ago?
The real proof that our deep freeze has abated came in the way folks would say hello and goodbye then and now. “How ya doing” and “Have a good one” became “Man, this is really somethin’ isn’t it?“ and “Stay warm.”
And the snowbirds don’t call to gloat, I mean, commiserate, so often.
In all, there is a sort of smugness that descends on us after nature gives us a going over and we are still standing, water running, drains draining, critters surviving. A hilarity at a sunny day showing up all the dust and dog hair. A catch in the throat at the Day-Glo peach and rose sunset over the harbor.
We have been in the whirlpool, the vortex, the roller coaster on its way down thrall and thrill of winter. And don’t we just love it?

The Lake Superior Project / logo by Lauryl Loberg (Photo by Stephan Hoglund)

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 5

LSPTrafficking5_Finalcut_20140117.mp311.83 MB

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it is a crime that happens everywhere – even here in northeastern Minnesota. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, we present part five of a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.

Mesabi Miner

West End News: January 16

WEN_20140116_finalcut.mp36.44 MB

The 30th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is coming up January 24th through January 30th.  Tofte is a great place to be a spectator for this unique race that celebrates the history and culture of the North Shore.
The racers participating in the full 384 mile marathon race are required to rest of at least four hours at the Sawbill checkpoint, which is located on the Sawbill Trail six miles north of downtown Tofte.  The first teams should arrive there on Monday, January 27th at around 7 am. There should be teams at the checkpoint until about 2 that afternoon.
The Sawbill checkpoint has a fabulous atmosphere.  It’s right on the Temperance River and is doesn’t have any buildings, electricity or even cell service, so it’s a true wilderness experience.  It’s entirely possible to visit directly with the racers and their support teams around the bonfire there. 
Many years ago, when my daughter Clare was about five years old, she shyly approached the late Iditarod legend, Susan Butcher, at the checkpoint.  Susan was kind enough to really engage with Clare. She took her by the hand and introduced her to the dogs, one by one, telling Clare about each dog’s personality and racing history.  It was a highlight of Clare’s young life and we still have the picture posted that she drew when she got home that day, with each dog’s name laboriously labeled in her childish printing.
 The 112 mile mid-distance race has its exciting finish right in Tofte.  The winner should break the tape at about 8:30 on Monday morning, January 27th.  The last place finisher should cross the line around 1:30 that afternoon.
The awards banquet for the mid-distance race is being held at the Birch Grove Community Center, Monday evening starting at 6 pm and the community is welcome to attend.
Our wonderful local internet service, Boreal Access, has recently added a very fun feature to their website that allows West Enders to get real time information on the ships that are passing on Lake Superior.  The website displays a map, with the passing vessels showing up in their current location.  If you click on the ship icon, it brings up its name, a detailed description, photos, current speed, destination, with estimated time of arrival, what cargo it carries and where it came from most recently.  There are several other features, for the truly shipping obsessed.
It’s fun to track the ships as they pass, but in light of the recent reporting by WTIP’s Program Director Kelly Shoenfelder concerning human trafficking on great lakes vessels, I’ve started looking at the ships with a different eye.  I sincerely hope that her excellent reporting, along with the efforts by police and victim advocates, will lead to the permanent end of this sordid practice.
Speaking of Lake Superior, the water level in the big lake is back to nearly its average height, thanks to a relatively wet year.  According to the Lake Superior Board of Control, the lake level declined less this year than it normally does in the month of December.  It is now just one inch lower than the long-term average for the beginning of January and a full foot higher than it was at this time last year.  The lake level will continue to drop until spring runoff, which is normal. 
As predicted, snowmobile, cross-country ski, downhill ski and snowshoe trails are all in perfect trim at the moment, so now is the time to enjoy outdoor fun in the beautiful West End.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

{photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard}

Lake Superior in Winter

A Busy New Year at the Lake Superior Binational Forum

LSBinat_Radke_repack_20140116.mp310.29 MB

The Lake Superior Binational Forum is seeking nominations for environmental stewardship awards, holding a public meeting at Barker’s Island and lots more this year.  WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Lissa Radke of the Lake Superior Binational Forum on North Shore Morning.

{photo by Jrunde 1952 via Wikimedia Commons}


ice forming (photo from MODUS/NASA)

Ice bridge to Isle Royale? maybe this year

IsleRoyale_iceBridge_Peterson_2014Jan.mp37.81 MB

Dr. Rolf Peterson has been studying the predator-prey ecosystem on Isle Royale since the 1970s. WTIP’s Veronica Weadock spoke with him before he left for Isle Royale about the news that an ice bridge may form this year.