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North Shore Weekend


  • Saturday 7-10am
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.



What's On:
Pinhole Camera (David / Flikr)

Northern Sky: October 18

NorthernSky_20141018.mp35.78 MB

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

A partial eclipse of the sun on the 23rd, the Capella multi star system, and Halloween.


Total Lunar Eclipse (David Boocock/Flikr)

Northern Sky: October 4

NorthernSky_20141004.mp35.4 MB

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

A total lunar eclipse on the morning of October 8th helps us see Uranus and more.



Northern Sky: September 20

NorthernSky_20140920.mp36.29 MB

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

The autumnal equinox, Jupiter in the morning, Mars in the evening (meeting his rival Antares); and another look at the summer triangle.


photo by David L Grinstead

Northern Sky: September 6

NorthernSky_20140906.mp36.93 MB

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

The last of three super moons on September 8, brighter and really round; Mars and Antares battle it out; and big news - a 3d map of our corner of the universe shows superclusters and watersheds.


West End News: September 4

WEN_20140904_finalcut.mp35.92 MB

A study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health has found that 10 percent of the babies in northeastern Minnesota have a higher level of mercury in their blood than is considered safe.
This is a very alarming statistic because, according to the National Institutes of Health, mercury poisoning in infants can cause permanent damage to the brain.
Mercury is introduced into the environment from a variety of sources, including coal burning power plants, fluorescent light bulbs, and even some food processing systems.
In response to finding mercury in the blood of our infants, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais is coordinating a study of women who are 16 to 50 years old and live in or near Cook County.
The study strives to interview and test at least 500 women. The interview lasts for an hour and is free and totally confidential. You will be asked about your fish eating habits and will have your blood tested for mercury. You will receive the results of the tests and will get information on how to get the positive health benefits of eating fish while avoiding exposure to mercury.
Better yet, all study participants who complete the process receive a $50 Visa gift card.
Registered nurse, Joyce Klees, is holding an enrollment event at the Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte Wednesday, Sept. 10 from 3 until 7 p.m.
If you can’t make the Birch Grove date, there is another all day enrollment opportunity at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Saturday, Sept. 13, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.
This is a very important study for the future health of our children and I strongly urge every eligible woman to participate.
At both events snacks and childcare will be provided.  Call the clinic at 218-387-2330 and ask for the FISH coordinator if you want more information.
On a lighter note, the semi-regular card-making get-together is scheduled for the Birch Grove Community Center on Sunday, Sept. 14 from 3 to 7:30 p.m.  There is a small charge and you are asked to bring a dish to share, potluck style, for dinner.
If you are new to card making, you can just show up and the veterans will share their supplies and expertise.  Just think about how satisfying it would be to have all your cards made for the year – and to have them be cool, handmade and thoughtful.
Call Penny at 475-2432 for more information. You can always contact Birch Grove or WTIP for information as well.
I thought the blueberry report would be history by this point in the season. However, Duluth’s most avid blueberry harvest team, Jim and Teresa Warren, managed to pick 25 quarts of sweet berries in the Sawbill area over the Labor Day weekend. 
They report that the bushes are still loaded and due to the cool, wet weather, the berries are unusually plump and sweet.
The Warrens admit to being obsessive about their picking habit, but I’m estimating that they have picked at least 30 gallons of blueberries this year.  You’ll recognize them if you see them because they are the people with blue stains on their clothes, hands and faces.  If they keep this up, they may start growing black fur and hibernating in the winter.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

Orion and Sirius (David Joly /Flikr)

Northern Sky: August 23

NorthernSky_20140823_finalcut.mp36.39 MB

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

Jupiter and the winter stars, Mars and Saturn, Bootes (the Herdsman) and one more supermoon.

Fullish Moon at Perigee (Greg Wilson / Flikr)

Northern Sky: August 9

NorthernSky_20140809.mp36.83 MB

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

A perigee moon, or super moon, on Aug 10th; Venus & Jupiter on th 17th and 18th; and the continuing story of the summer triangle, star #3 - Altair.

Red Squirrel (Bob MacInnes / Flikr)

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 25

Wildersmith_20140725.mp39.3 MB

            Summer has stepped up, though not with a vengeance, while I begin this week’s Gunflint scoop. Guess it’s about time as we’re headed into the last stanza of July.
            With the increased heat and bright sunshine walleyes are being driven into deeper, darker places so there’s likely to be some angler angst. Thus it’s “smallie” time, they’re fun too. In addition to whining from yours truly, the moose will also be headed into darker places too.  A little of this sultriness goes a long ways toward making one appreciate minus 40-something!
            Our rainy times have dwindled over the past seven with just a little over 1/2 inch claimed in the Wildersmith gauge. In fact, the last serious rain was just over 10 days ago.  That is, until the heavens were cracked open with some July fireworks early Tuesday morning.  Until then back country roads were starting to choke in dust, and green as things may be, the wilderness duff was getting crunchy in a hurry.
            The drier conditions of late have been a blessing to the construction crew, which is in the final stages of resurfacing a section of the Trail out this way. For those of us traversing this paradise pathway on regular basis, early trips on the new ribbon of blacktop are almost too much to believe. Thanks go out to the County Highway Department for administering and rapidly expediting a great improvement!
            As August creeps toward our horizon, summer seems right on cue. The perennial lupine crop is fading fast and is being replaced by a more favored native, fireweed. Meanwhile the bird’s foot trefoil has surged to front and center in place of hawkweeds and daisies to be next in line among non-native floral luminaries.
             I noticed the other day wild rose blooms along the Mile O Pine have grown into hips, although the fruit are far from mature. And, it is hard to fathom, but a few moose maples are already blushing with a faint tint of something other than green.
            All these natural happenings are signaling the coming of berry season. A couple ripe raspberries were plucked a few days ago with many in the final stages. A friend shared she got her first cup of early blues (berries) from her favorite patch, with oodles more just days away.  I can almost smell the aroma  of fruits of the forest pies wafting from cabin kitchens through the pines.
            Berry time will also favor a gang of north woods growlers who will be equally grateful. Bet those bears can hardly wait to get off their sunflower seeds and garbage compost menus of the past few months.
            I hesitate to get too enthused, but it seems as though the biting surge of insects has backed off somewhat. It could happen, that hearing of my opinion, a news release via the “moccasin telegraph” will summon a second or third generation of mosquitoes to prove me wrong.
            A bear paid another visit to our deck while the Smiths were away. Apparently, Pappa or Momma bear was miffed at there being no goodies. It took a swipe at my grilling ashes collection can and knocked the lid off.
            The woolly one must have got into the dusty stuff with both forefeet, and I suspect, also got a good snoot full before it tramped across the rain-soaked deck, leaving big gray footprints. The trail of paw reproductions led to the edge of the deck where the animal either fell off or managed an acrobatic dismount. Being a rather inconsiderate woodsman, it definitely left a trace.
            There’s three red squirrels who have adopted me as their guardian for the past couple months, in spite of my not stocking the usual feeders. In order to minimize inviting bears, I scatter three small patches of seed on the ground away from the house.
             These miniature rodents are so enthused each day when I come outside, I’m often met at the door and they run into my wood shop where the supply can is located, prancing around like kids at Christmas. They are worse than little puppies, under foot to the point where I have to almost boot them out the door to avoid stepping on one.
            The handouts allocated are quickly consumed, leaving no trace to bring in the bears. If any seed morsels are missed, their chipmunk cousins are soon on the scene, cleaning up any scraps.
            It would seem the squirrely creatures might be big as bears since the threesome are about to finish off a second 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds since the warm season commenced. It probably won’t be long before stashing for winter will get under way, if it hasn’t already.
            Paddling is a way of life in these parts. Last week the Gunflint Trail Canoes Races took center stage and this week it’s the Dragon Boat Festival down on the harbor. Come and enjoy the weekend festivities beginning on Friday evening with race competition starting Saturday morning. It’ll be a fun time, and will benefit three worthy county nonprofits: the North Shore Health Care Foundation, North House Folk School and “THE” community radio station.
            Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some time on the Gunflint!


West End News: July 24

WEN_20140724_finalcut.mp35.58 MB

As Cindy and I stood at our patio doors at 3:30 in the morning on Tuesday, I thought, “Here we go again.” 
The 100-foot-tall red and white pines in our backyard were bent halfway to the ground and the rain was whipped into a white, sideways froth filled with branches, leaves and needles flying by at 60 miles per hour.  Massive lightning bolts were creating a disorienting strobe effect, brilliantly lighting the landscape one second and plunging into cave-like blackness in the next.
As I was lost in a flashback to the catastrophic 1999 blow-down, Cindy’s voice brought me back to the present by announcing that someone was at the door. 
We opened the door to the bedraggled Bagnato family, Greg and Ellen, along with their young children, Mia and Taj.  Ellen was a Sawbill crew member 15 years ago and they were camping on the Sawbill Campground for the night before beginning a canoe trip.
As we hustled the bedraggled family into dry towels, they informed us that a tree had fallen on their tent, landing on Mia’s legs.  Although the tent is a total loss, x-rays at the emergency room in the morning revealed that Mia did not have any fractures, just large, colorful bruises to show for her frightening experience.
We ended up with nine large trees down in the campground, including some huge white and red pines.  Four of them fell within feet of people sleeping in tents. 
Mia’s bruises turned out to be the only injuries from the storm in the Sawbill area, and the blow-down didn’t materialize, but both were very close calls.
Weather disaster was already on my mind, as earlier in the day I had attended a workshop on climate change hosted by the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.  The University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University and Carleton College have teamed up to study how Minnesota’s North Shore can adapt to climate change.
The workshop was attended by representatives from government, non-profits, tourism business and academics.  The project will study how climate change will affect the North Shore and what strategies will help us deal with those changes as they come.
Ironically, one of the prime topics of conversation at workshop was increasing frequency of extreme weather, in the form of floods, droughts, wind storms, and wild variations in seasonal temperatures.  The examples are too numerous to ignore, including the ’99 blowdown, the Ham Lake and Pagami Creek fires, the Duluth flood, the record early ice-out in 2012 and the polar vortex last winter, just to name a few.
The climate change adaptation project will be active on the North Shore over the next year, interviewing stakeholders and collecting data of all kinds.  I applaud their efforts, but I also think we are far past the time for the world to come to grips with this important issue. 
I often hear the argument that our economy can’t afford to slow down climate change, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious, here on the West End, that we can’t afford not to deal with climate change.

Ollar Snevets' Headstone at Maple Hill Cemetary

Moments in Time: Ollor Snevets

MIT Ollar Snevets FINAL.mp39.49 MB

Noel Ollor Snevets was born on May 26, 1896 in Michigan.  He spent much of his adult life living in Cook County.  Ollor is somewhat legendary in these parts and there are countless stories to be told about his life here.  Doug Seim and Deb White bought land from Ollar back in the early 1980’s and got to know him towards the end of his life.  Here are just a few stories they shared with me during a recent visit.