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North Shore Weekend

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  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
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:
Snowmobile race

West End News: February 13

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One of the fun things about surfing the internet is stumbling across a random news story that hits home for one reason or another.  This morning, I was delighted to find a television news feature story about Jerry Gervais, better known as the Snowmobile Doctor of Tofte.  It ran a couple of weeks ago as part of the “On The Road with Jason Davis” series that the Twin Cities TV station KSTP has been doing for what seems like a hundred years.
 
The story highlighted Jerry’s success as a pioneer snowmobile racer in the early 1960s.  Jerry was a big part of the racing scene when it was just getting started.  His daring and skill quickly brought him to joining the Polaris Company racing team.  I remember what big news this was back in the day, and how Jerry, who went by the nickname “Red” in those days, was quite the local celebrity. 
 
I was about nine years old at that time and I remember a Tofte resident telling me, with a mixture of horror and pride, that Jerry sometimes went 60 miles per hour on his Skidoo.  When I expressed my desire to do 60 on a Skidoo myself, I was told that Jerry had just broken his leg while riding at high speed at the Tofte airport.  I think the word maniac may have been used.  It didn’t diminish my desire to race snowmobiles, just like Jerry.  Fortunately, I never had the opportunity, which kept my skeleton mostly intact.
 
Jason Davis also covered Jerry’s current skill as a snowmobile mechanic and his passion for vintage snowmobiles. He pointed out that Jerry’s shop is located in the middle of nowhere.  As proof, he noted that it was located just off the Sawbill Trail.  He did admit that the shop is located immediately adjacent to a major snowmobile trail.
 
Davis also mentioned that if you go to Jerry’s shop, you should plan a little extra time to hear Jerry tell a few stories.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent less than an hour in Jerry’s shop, even when I’ve just stopped by on a minor errand. 
 
You can see the story for yourself by going the KSTP website, or google “On the Road: Snowmobile Doctor.”
 
If you have a big dog and want to have some fun, you should attend the first annual “Best In Snow” Ski-joring race, scheduled for the first Saturday March at the George Washington Pines ski trail, just a few miles north of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail.  Ski-joring is basically harnessing your dog to pull you on cross-country skis. 
 
This event is being sponsored by Go Dog North Shore, which is a new non-profit organization based in Grand Marais that aims to promote healthy and active human and dog relationships on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior.  Plans include a 2-mile and 4-mile race, with a limit of one dog per skier and each race capped at 15 teams. If you don’t know how to ski-jor this would be a good way to see if it’s for you and your dog.
 
You can find details at godognorthshore.org, or contact WTIP for full contact information.
 
Last week, I mentioned my epic fall off the peak of my house.  I got a number of emails and comments about my inventing the new Olympic sport known as roof diving.  It got me to thinking about other West End winter sports that could be included in future winter Olympic Games.
 
One event could be Cold Weather Dog Walking.  This would be judged on the dog’s form and skill at walking while holding one or more freezing paws off the ground.  Points could be awarded for maintaining speed while walking with one, two, or at the pinnacle of skill, three paws in the air.  Extra points are awarded for successfully “taking care of business” with one or more paws off the ground.
 
Another sport could be competitive car starting.  Athletes would each be provided with a 1992 Toyota Camry with two hundred and thirty thousand miles on it and a four-year-old battery, cooled down to 32 degrees below zero.  Points would be awarded for the least time elapsed from leaving the house to pulling out of the driveway.  Style points would be added for combinations of starter fluid, gas pedal pumping and application of jumper cables. Needless to say, at the Olympic level, only batteries with the tiny little side-mounted terminals would be allowed.  Points would be deducted for failure to make a solid connection or having the jumper cables pop off just as you turn the key.  You are disqualified if you leave your choppers sitting on the air cleaner when you slam the hood.
 
The final new event could be that ultimate test of speed, agility and strength that we call roof shoveling.  Points would be awarded for speed and style, with extra points being added for the size of each block of snow pushed over the edge of a low pitch cabin roof.  The judges will want to see a few graceful roof diving moves, with points being added for the length and loudness of the scream and the gracefulness of the landing.  Veterans of this Olympic sport, like me, would delight the crowd with our perfect belly flop techniques.
 
This all gets me to thinking that the West End should submit a bid to host the 2022 winter games.
 
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 
 


 
Northern Sky looks at what's happening in our night sky this month (John 'K'/Flickr)

Northern Sky: February 10-24

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

In this edition of Northern Sky, Deane talks about the winter constellation, Taurus, and its orange star. 

Read this month's Starwatch column.


 
Here’s what the divot made by a radio commentator falling 22 feet looks like.

West End News: February 6

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There is great news from the Section 7 High School Alpine ski meet that ran on Tuesday at Giant’s Ridge.  West Ender Will Lamb, who has deep roots in Schroeder, placed seventh overall in a field of 120 skiers.  This earns Will, a 15-year-old freshman, his second consecutive trip to the state meet at Giants Ridge on Feb. 12.  Last year, he went to state when the team placed highly enough to go as a group. 
 
This year, neither the boys’ nor girls’ team placed high enough to qualify for state.  However both teams are very young and did extremely well in a competitive field.  The girls were sixth out of 18 teams and the boys were fifth out of 20.
 
Seventh-grader Riley Wahlers, from Grand Marais, also qualified for state, finishing an incredible 11th overall out of 114 of the region’s best skiers.
 
Coach Charles Lamb reports that he has many young skiers who are improving fast, which bodes well for the future.  There can be no doubt that the Junior Ski Team program sponsored by Lutsen Mountains Ski Area is working well to develop top-notch high school skiers.  It’s wonderful to have such a world class facility here in the West End and even better that they offer such generous support to local kids.
 
Speaking of local kids, I urge everyone to attend the community conversation get-together at the Birch Grove Community Center Wednesday, Feb. 19. This is a fun brainstorming session to identify the opportunities and challenges for the future of the whole West End community. Anyone with an interest, or ideas about the community center and how it can enhance our quality of life, should attend.
 
The event kicks off with a community meal at 5:45 p.m., followed by a structured discussion.  The goal is to identify and prioritize the three- to five-year goals of the Birch Grove Community Center.  RSVPs are encouraged.  Call 663-7977 or email bgf@boreal.org.
 
As of Feb. 5, the Canadian Ice Service has declared that Lake Superior is officially frozen over.  This is a relatively rare phenomenon, happening only about once every 20 years on average.  The last official freeze over was in 1997, although 2003 came very close.
 
I well remember the ice-box year of 1982, when the big lake not only froze over, but developed a swath of smooth ice, safe for skating, from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. On the night of the February full moon that year, nearly every resident of the West End was out skating. It was a peak moment in West End history. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be smooth on such a large scale this year.
 
I am particularly happy to be able to report the West End News this week, because by all rights I should be either be in an intensive care ward or attending my own funeral. 
 
Last Wednesday, I fell off the peak of my roof, plunging 22 feet straight down on to rock-hard frozen ground. 
 
I was up there to clear a frozen sewer vent, which is something that a lot of West End residents have been doing lately.  To access my roof, I climb the latticed radio tower that is bolted to the high peak of my two-story home. At the peak, there is a steep eave about 18” wide that I have to step over to reach the much flatter main roof area.  When I committed my weight in that first step, the snow on the eve broke loose and avalanched down and off.  I wasn’t too worried because I still was holding the tower with both hands and my other foot.  Unfortunately, the physics of the avalanche took a large chunk of dense snow off the flat part of the roof with it, including my foot that was buried within it. The huge mass of the moving snow plucked my hands off the tower like you would pluck a mosquito off your arm.  Meanwhile, the foot that was still on the tower became momentarily wedged in the latticework and in the blink of an eye, I was spun around and launched into mid air 22 feet above the unforgiving earth.
 
I’m here to tell you that good old gravity accelerates a falling object frighteningly quickly.  It’s one thing to observe an object dropping from the heights – and quite another thing to be the object.
 
I’ve often wondered what would pass through my mind if I were facing sure death with only a few seconds to ponder my fate. Would my life flash before my eyes? Would I think of my children, spouse, family or beloved friends? Would I feel regret or fear? Well, now I know. I had one thought and one thought only as the ground rushed toward me. Calmly and without fear, I thought to myself, “This is really going to hurt.” – and it did.
 
As it turned out, I was incredibly lucky to land a perfect belly flop on absolutely flat ground that was covered by 25 inches of soft snow.  Thanks to the cold weather, I was wearing multiple layers of thick clothing. That combination saved my life. I had the wind thoroughly knocked out of me, but once I recovered from that, I had only a moderately sore shoulder and foot to show for my adventure.
 
The experience definitely did change my outlook on life. I was stupid, then lucky, and that’s a combo that you don’t get to repeat too many times in one life.  After the fall, you can be sure that I’ve thought often about my children, spouse, family and beloved friends. And I am so grateful to say…for WTIP, this Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 
 
 
 


 
Ore Boat on Lake Superior.  Photo by Travis Novitsky

Anishinaabe Way: Christine Stark

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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.

 
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

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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

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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

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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.


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

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 4

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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 four of a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


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

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 3

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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 three a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.


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

LSProject: Trafficking & Lake Superior Part 2

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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 two a five-part look at the issue of sex trafficking on Lake Superior and in its surrounding area.