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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:
"The only real outdoor work going on around here is continued winter planning by the red squirrels..." (Robert Engberg/Flickr)

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: November 22

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Life in the north woods continues to fly by. Here we are rounding the last curve of November with the final segment of year 2013 and the holiday season barreling down on us once again.

After a brief serving of winter early in the month, the past week has seen the great northern express step back in wimpy favor of some gusty warmth from the south.  Our beautiful white decorations have succumbed to dripping ooze, slush and mud.  Guess we’ll have to start all over again when the old man of the north decides to show some courage.

Speaking of gloomy days in month 11 at this end of the Trail, we’ve had more than enough for many folks. Our daily conditions seem to be quite Seattle-like.

The gloom managed to hang over the territory so that we didn’t get much of a look at the full “freezing over” moon last weekend. So the drama of a full “man in the moon” gleaming down on our crystal white forest was pretty much a bust! Perhaps as we turn the corner into December, month 12 will favor us with a brighter opportunity.

Silence is golden throughout the neighborhood now that the installers of our soon-to-be fiber optic opportunity have called it a construction season. The last broadband worker here at Wildersmith said he believed we’d be up and buzzing sometime in the spring. I’ll be surprised if that happens with many connections yet to be completed.  I’d bet on maybe a year from now!

The only real outdoor work going on around here is continued winter planning by the red squirrels. The mini rodents have spent weeks cutting literally thousands of seed cluster fronds out of the white cedar tree tops.

Now they are in the business of collecting and stockpiling them in various locations about the yard. I’ve found three different caches that look like they have been raked up by some human, all neatly bunched in a heap. I know for sure there has been no such raking conducted by yours truly, so it’s their work!

I haven’t noticed this warehousing mode previously from the rodent gang. They surely have been doing it before, or perhaps have had some in-service workshop on new squirreling-away methodology.

Whatever the case, there seems to be enough in readiness to feed an army of the little red beings. Come to think of it, there IS an army of them, based on the declining level of my sunflower seed barrel.

I’m seeing little sign of deer activity in this neighborhood thus far. However, deer hunters tell of increasing movement into the area late in week one. The first few days of the firearms season apparently provided almost no sightings.

 It sure makes me wonder where they go during the summer when one sees few if any. Guess “they’re gone to meadows, every one.” Then again, how do they know when it’s time to come back? It sure would seem they might want to rethink the scheduled return until after the close of the shooting season, hmmmm…

With bare ground reappearing from the snow meltdown and plenty of natural feeding opportunities for the avian crowd, it is intriguing that the little winged folk are so excited to see me when I venture outside. 

Several chickadees and red breasted nuthatches have flocked to land on my head and/or hands looking for a seed handout. Maybe they find me less threatening than the blue jay bullies of the feed trough. Whatever their motive, it’s so energizing to be wanted!

Meanwhile a couple of those Minnesota chicken birds evoked a startled shock for yours truly a few days ago. They flushed from a late afternoon perch in an apple tree near the path to my upper storage building, momentarily scaring the devil out of me!

I don’t know who was surprised the most, but after my heart returned to normal beating it was something of a laugher.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the season of giving thanks around the northland!


 
Dave & Amy Freeman

West End News: November 21

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Lutsen native, Ailee Larson, is having a great year on the Saint Catherine’s University cross country running team.  Ailee placed eighth out of approximately 300 runners in last week’s Central Region meet, qualifying her for a trip to the NCAA nationals.
 
The national meet is scheduled for Saturday, November 23rd, in Hanover, Indiana.  Action starts at 10 am, Lutsen time, and will be broadcast live on the NCAA website.  Just go to www.ncaa.com to find the webstream.
 
Ailee is a 2011 graduate of Cook County High School where she was valedictorian.  Her parents are Mike and Jana Larson, of Lutsen.  Ailee was a standout athlete in Cook County, but really caught fire running cross country in Chile, where she was an exchange student last year. 
 
Ailee is among the best cross country runners ever to compete for Saint Kate’s, located in St. Paul.  She has been named athlete of the week three times this year and has awarded all MIAC honors.  She is a Spanish major, a resident advisor and has been on the Dean’s List since she transferred to St Kate’s as a freshman.
 
Ailee is famous for running barefoot, which a rarity in collegiate cross country running.  Her mom, Jana says that it is fun listening to the spectators around her comment on Ailee’s lack of footwear during races.
 
Dave and Amy Freeman are also residents of Lutsen, although they are rarely home.  They run Wilderness Classroom, a non-profit that helps schools connect to wilderness through technology.  Dave and Amy take marathon wilderness trips and connect in real time with schools using satellite communications. 
 
Dave and Amy have recently been nominated by National Geographic to be their Adventurers of the Year.   They just complete their “North American Odyssey”, a 11,500 mile trip around North America by kayak, canoe, dog sled and hiking.  More than 85,000 students followed their progress and completed multi-disciplinary lesson plans that Dave and Amy provide over the Internet.
 
There are ten nominees for the National Geographic Award and the winner will be based on voting by the public.  You can vote once a day at adventure.nationalgeographic.com.  You don’t have to register, give up your email address or sign up for anything.  Just go to the site and vote for Dave and Amy!
 
You can always call WTIP for the website addresses that have been mentioned in this report.
 
Victus Farm, in Silver Bay, is now open to the public.  Victus Farm is the closed loop fish and fresh vegetable operation that you can see from the highway in the Silver Bay Industrial Park just east of the stoplight.
 
The innovative system collects rainwater to use for rearing tilapia, a delicious and popular species of fish.  The wastewater from the fish is used to raise a variety of vegetable crops in an aquaponic green house.  The water is then exposed to algae, which restores the oxygen before the water is returned to the fish.  The algae can be used to make fish food or can be processed into biofuel.
 
The fish and vegetables are now available for sale to the general public every Saturday from 10 am until 1 pm.  Eating fresh fish during the winter isn’t much of a novelty here in the north country, but having garden fresh vegetable the year around is a real treat.
 
According to an anonymous source, many area lakes are good for ice skating right now.  The source wishes to remain anonymous so his wife won’t know that he has been skipping work to drive around and check lake conditions.  She doesn’t like him to skate alone, which is actually a pretty valid concern.
 
He reports that most lakes west of the Sawbill Trail are at least 5” thick and sporting black ice that is “smooth as a baby’s bottom.”  Sawbill Lake and lakes to the east have a light dusting of snow, but are quite skate-able.
 
As always, you skate on what some people call “wild ice” at you own risk.  You should check ice depths for yourself, carry ice picks for self-rescue and have warm, dry clothes at hand in case you do fall through.
 
I also recommend that you not skate alone, although I highly recommend ditching out on work to go skating.  Good lake skating is such a rare thrill that it should be seen as a universal holiday.  So, take the day off and go skate some wild ice!


 
CC North Shore Hospital & Care Center Administrator Kimber Wraalstad talks about the latest board meeting (jfcherry/Flickr)

BCBS updates, a certification survey and more discussed at recent hospital meeting

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The Cook County North Shore Hospital & Care Center recently held its regular board meeting. WTIP’s Gary Atwood spoke with Administrator Kimber Wraalstad on Friday’s Daybreak program about some of the highlights from the meeting.


 
M/V Wenonah approaches historic dock at Isle Royale - photo by Carah Thomas

Isle Royale planning process continues

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Isle Royale National Park is currently drafting a Cultural Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (CRMP/EIS) that will determine, among other things, the status of commercial fishing families and others with historic ties to the island.  
 
WTIP’s Ann Possis spoke with third generation Isle Royale family member Stuart Sivertson on North Shore Morning.  

(Click on audio mp3 above to hear the interview.)
 
-------------------------------------------------

 
In November 2013, Isle Royale National Park is holding public meetings to discuss the Cultural Resources Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (CRMP/EIS). The public meetings will be held in Houghton, Michigan, St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, and the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. The sessions will begin with a presentation about the plan and an introduction of draft alternative concepts. The presentation will be followed by an opportunity to discuss the alternative concepts and other ideas, issues, and concerns about the plan with the planning team. 
 
The public meeting schedule is as follows:
 
Public Meeting 1: Houghton, Michigan
Date:  November 12,  2013    
Location: Franklin Square Inn, 820 Shelden Avenue
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm (Presentation at 6:15 followed by open house)
 
Public Meeting 2: Chelsea, Michigan
Date:  November 14,  2013
Location: Chelsea Depot, 125 Jackson Street
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm (Presentation at 6:15 followed by open house)
 
Public Meeting 3: St. Paul, Minnesota
Date:  November 19,  2013    
Location: Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. 
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm (Presentation at 6:15 followed by open house)
 
Public Meeting 4: Duluth, Minnesota
Date:  November 20, 2013
Location: Great Lakes Aquarium, 353 Harbor Drive
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm (Presentation at 6:15 followed by open house)
 
 
The CRMP/EIS will address the general management, preservation, public use, and interpretation of cultural resources island-wide. The process is expected to take several years. The National Park Service formed an interdisciplinary planning team to produce the plan in consultation with the public, tribal and state governments, and other interested parties. 
 
Isle Royale's cultural resources reflect 4500 years of human endeavor and include: prehistoric mining and occupation sites, American Indian and Euro-American historic mining and fishery sites, lighthouses, shipwrecks, and historic resorts and summer homes. They demonstrate a complex interaction of people and the role they played in shaping the human and physical landscapes on Isle Royale. Presently, the National Park Service manages its cultural resources according to directives defined in the Park's General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EIS 1998) without specific guidance for a number of cultural resource themes and topics. The proposed Cultural Resources Management Plan and accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) seeks to define sustainable management practices for all significant cultural resources found on Isle Royale, including archeological sites, cultural landscapes, historic structures, ethnographic resources, and museum objects. 
 
The Notice of Intent (NOI) for the CRMP/EIS is posted as a separate document and on the following website:
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/03/15/2013-06001/notice-of-intent-to-prepare-a-cultural-resources-management-planenvironmental-impact-statement-for
 
Planning and legislation documents relevant to the CRMP are available on the main Isle Royale website at:
http://www.nps.gov/isro/parkmgmt/planning.htm

A newsletter providing information on the planning process, preliminary alternative concepts, draft park foundation document and a comment card for providing comments is available at Isle Royale headquarters and on the NPS planning website:
 

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ISROcrmp.

 You may submit your comments electronically only on the NPS planning website (http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ISROcrmp). Once on the website, click on “Open for Comment” in the left sidebar, and then select “CRMP Newsletter 2.” To submit a comment, select “Comment on Document” in the middle of the page or on the left sidebar.  If you are unable to access the website, please submit written comments by December 4, 2013, to:

National Park Service
Attention Brenda Todd, ISRO CRMP Project Manager
Denver Service Center, Planning Division
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 82225-0287Questions on the plan or public meetings can be directed to:

Liz Valencia: Chief of Interpretation and Cultural Resources
Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1895
906.487.7153
liz_valencia@nps.gov
 

Seth DePasqual: Cultural Resource Manager, NEPA Specialist
Isle Royale National Park
800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1895
906.487.7146 
seth_c_depasqual@nps.gov

 
Comment Period: 10/28/2013 - 12/04/2013
Comment on Document »
 
Topic Questions Instructions:
Please number your responses to match the corresponding questions. Comments should be submitted by December 4, 2013.
 
Topic Questions:
 
1. What do you like about the preliminary draft alternative concepts presented in this newsletter? Please describe anything you do not like about the concepts.
 
2. Is there one alternative concept that you prefer more than the others? If so, please say why.
 
3. Are there ideas or concepts we have missed or overlooked? Is there a different alternative concept you would like to see? If so, please describe it and explain why you believe it is important.
 
4. Are there specific resources or sites you would like to see preserved in each of the draft alternative concepts? If so, please say what they are and why they should be preserved.
 
5. Please share any additional comments or suggestions for park staff to consider as alternatives concepts are drafted.

 
Northern Lights (Charlie Stinchcomb/Flickr)

Northern Sky: Comet ISON & a packed morning sky in November

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Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

Over the next two weeks, you may want to take a closer look at the sky during the early morning hours. In this edition of Northern Sky, Deane explains why the next few weeks will be great for morning starwatchers, as well as where to find Comet ISON and why it will be in "perihelion."

Read this month's Starwatch column.


 
Singer/songwriter Martha Scanlon

West End News: November 14

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The annual lutefisk and ham dinner at Zoar Lutheran Church is in the record books for another year.  Chef Gary Hansen reported a successful event with attendance at about 130 people and 100 pounds of lutefisk consumed.  Gary had 175 pounds on hand, just in case, so if you’re looking for some lutefisk, give Gary a call.
 
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned good-natured complaints by the students at Birch Grove School about a certain lingering odor after the lutefisk dinner in the past.  Mel Lingwall, who taught at Birch Grove for many, many years, emailed me after he heard the story. 
 
Mel wrote that years ago he arrived at school early one morning and was alarmed by the strong smell of burning rubber.  He couldn’t see anything burning, but he immediately called Jim Schliep, who was in charge of maintenance at the time.  Jim hurried to the school where he and Mel spent the better part of an hour inspecting all the mechanical systems and searching for the source of the awful smell.  Only after they had inspected the entire school did they realize that the lutefisk was the source of the odor.
 
According to Gary Hansen, an acknowledged lutefisk expert, modern lutefisk doesn’t smell bad.  I can only guess that the lutefisk production process has somehow changed, or perhaps Gary has damaged his sense of smell during his long career as a lutefisk chef.
 
There is a lot going on in the West End on Friday, Nov. 22.  The Commercial Fishing Museum’s Storytelling event is happening at Lutsen Resort.  This popular event is now sold out, but if you didn’t get a ticket, you have two other choices for the evening.
 
Papa Charlie’s at Lutsen Mountains is hosting the annual benefit for Birch Grove School, featuring a lasagna dinner, silent auction and live music.  Tickets are available at the door.
 
As if that isn’t enough for one night, there will be a fabulous house concert, featuring singer/songwriters Martha Scanlan and Amy Helm at the Cascade Loft Concert Series on the Cascade Beach Road between Lutsen and Grand Marais.
 
Both of these talented women have too many accomplishments to list here, but you may remember Scanlan’s songs from the hit movie “Cold Mountain.”  Amy Helm is American roots music royalty, because she is the daughter of Levon Helm, drummer for The Band. 
 
The Cascade Loft Concerts do not sell tickets in advance, but you must RSVP to save yourself a spot.  All you have to do is email cascadeloftconcerts@gmail.com to reserve a seat, get the address and learn the super secret handshake.  Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 7:45.
 
I was saddened to hear of Lloyd Scherer’s death at the age of 94.  Lloyd was a long-time Lutsen and Grand Marais resident.  I first met him when he had the contract with the Forest Service to pick up garbage at the Sawbill Lake campground, back in the early ‘60s. 
 
Lloyd was a gentle soul and a bit of a renaissance man.  Although he was best known for his beautiful artwork, Lloyd was also deeply knowledgeable about the natural world.  On my last hike with Lloyd, he was well into his 80s and I could barely keep up with both his hiking pace and his stream of observations on the complexity of the ecosystem that we were passing through.  Lloyd will be missed by his family, friends and the whole community.
 
Julie’s Variety and True Value Hardware Store in Silver Bay will be hosting Ladies’ Night on Monday, Nov. 25, starting at 6:30 p.m.  This fun event includes hors d’oeuvres, demonstrations, door prizes, discounts and a chance to knock off a bunch of holiday shopping in one fell swoop.  If you’ve been to Julie’s, you know it is much more than just a hardware store.  Space is limited, so call (218) 226-3803 to reserve a spot.
 
Ladies’ night at the hardware store reminds me of a story that Meg Tofte told me a long time ago.  At the time, Meg and her husband, Greg Tofte, had been married for 10 or 15 years.  Most people know that Greg is well-respected home building contractor and a Tofte native.  A few weeks before her birthday that year, Meg gently asked Greg if he would please, for once, not buy her birthday present at the hardware store.  They are still happily married, so I’m guessing that Greg took the hint.
 


 
November lake

November: prelude to winter in the woods

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Inching toward winter, there are many things in the natural world turning and changing. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with phenologist Chel Andersen about mid-November, in this edition of "North Woods Naturalist."


 
Whitefish

Whitefish: important fish in Lake Superior and our inland waters

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A staple for commercial and native fishermen over the years have been whitefish. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with phenologist Chel Andersen about whitefish in the big lake and inland waters, in this edition of "North Woods Naturalist."


 
Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church near Grand Marais, known locally as the “Chippewa City Church.”

Cook County Historical Society plans for the future

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The Cook County Historical Society has just completed a long-range planning project for the Society's four historic sites in and around Grand Marais.
 
There will be an open house at the museum in downtown Grand Marais on Saturday, November 16th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. to present the long range plans and seek volunteers to serve on task forces for each of the historic sites.

The sites include the Lighthouse Keeper's House (museum), Chippewa City Church, the Bally Blacksmith Shop, and the Replica Fish House and Fishing Tug "Neegee."

(Click on audio mp3 above to hear an interview with Carrie McHugh, Dick Gillyard, and Leah Thomas of the Cook County Historical Society.)
 
More information is available online at www.cookcountyhistory.org.  

(Photo by jonathunder via wikimedia commons)


 
Crowd gathered at Cook County Courthouse to hear Special Prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger. Photo by Carah Thomas

Change of venue granted in Scannell case

Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell appeared in court this morning in Grand Marais for a Rule 8 hearing, after being indicted on Thursday, October 31, on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The hearing comes several months after the Attorney was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
 
Attorney Joe Tamburino represented Scannell at the hearing. Tamburino asked for the next court date to occur sometime in January. 6th Judicial District Chief Judge Shaun Floerke presided over the hearing. Floerke denied the two previous motions by the defense, including a request to dismiss the indictment, as well as a request that no 6th district judges preside over the case.
 
The defense and prosecution requested a change of venue to Duluth at the hearing. The prosecution also asked the judge to continue the conditions of release, including no contact with witnesses about the case.
 
Floerke granted the change of venue and the prosecution’s request. The judge also stated that they would convene at a later date to determine the following court date, which will occur in January.