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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:
Fiber Art by Jo Wood

"Through our Hands" exhibit open now at Johnson Heritage Post

A new exhibit at the Johnson Heritage Post in downtown Grand Marais opened on Friday, June 22 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The Through Our Hands V show runs through July 16.

The show features the work of the North Shore Fiber Guild and includes all sorts of fiber pieces, ranging from items made with wool, silk, wood, and much more.

In addition to fiber art on display, some of the items are for sale. And many of the artists will be offering demonstrations throughout the time of the exhibit.

WTIP volunteer Gary Latz spoke with three members of the Fiber Guild about what to expect at the show.
 

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The Voyageur II in the Isle Royale Amygdaloid Channel - photo by Ryan Staley

A look at the ferry service from Grand Portage to Isle Royale

This week Isle Royale National Park issued a notice that the park is soliciting proposals for the award of a concession contract to provide ferry transportation service from Grand Portage, Minnesota to the park.  
 
The ferry must make the trip from Grand Portage across Lake Superior to Windigo, circumnavigate Isle Royale and make stops at several trailheads and paddling embarkation points, and provide a stop at Rock Harbor.  
 
The concession contract would be for a term of 10 years beginning in 2019. Proposals are due on September 25, 2018. Parties with questions may contact Christopher M. Amidon, supervisory park ranger, at (906) 487-7152
 
After receiving this news, WTIP reached out to the Grand Portage - Isle Royale Transportation Line which currently provides the ferry service to learn more. Rhonda Silence speaks with Don Szczech in this interview. 
 
 

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People had mixed emotions to President Trump's visit to Duluth. Photo by Joe Friedrichs

President Trump talks key state issues during Duluth visit

For those who attempted to voice their dislike of President Donald Trump during his rally June 20 in Duluth, the president told one to “go home to his mommy” and that the other “needs a haircut.”

Quick to dismiss the protestors, Trump repeated numerous times that he came close to collecting enough votes to win Minnesota during the 2016 presidential election.

And while there were thousands on the inside of the Amsoil Arena who cheered the president on during a rally Wednesday evening, there were also large crowds gathered in Duluth to protest Trump and his policies.

Without naming specific projects, Trump spoke about proposed copper-nickel mines in northeastern Minnesota.

Trump discussed mining in the Superior National Forest, but did not mention PolyMet or Twin Metals.

“We'll do it carefully and if it doesn't pass muster, maybe we don't do it at all,” he said. “But it's going to happen, I will tell you.”

In response to President Trump’s remarks on opening Superior National Forest to copper-nickel mines, the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters issues the following statement from Doug Niemela, National Campaign Manager:

“President Trump’s comments fly in the face of 70 percent of Minnesotans who are opposed to this dangerous type of mining near the priceless Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters poses an immediate threat to thousands of jobs across a wide variety of industries that rely on the Wilderness. It would irreparably damage the Boundary Waters and pollute some of the cleanest water in the world. Americans will lose its canoe country heritage forever.”

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs was at the Trump rally. Tune in for Daybreak at 7 a.m. and the North Shore News Hour at noon and 5 p.m. June 21 to hear a report of the scene in Duluth during the president’s visit.
 

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Some of the Stone Bridge Singers - Marcus Logan, Jon Vogel, Tanner Hendrickson, Brent Sorenson, Trevor Deschampe, Bob Vogel

Stone Bridge Singers preparing for cultural exchange at French Music Festival

The Stone Bridge Singers of Grand Portage have been offered a unique opportunity—they have been invited to take part in a music festival in France, the Musiques entre Pierres.

How did this traditional Ojibwe drum group from Grand Portage end up making this trek? Rhonda Silence met with the Stone Bridge Singers to learn more. 

Two events are planned to help the Stone Bridge Singers make this journey, first a Bingo on Thursday, June 21, at 6 p.m. at the Grand Portage Lodge Event Center. And then Thursday, July 5 at 5 pm. at the Grand Portage Community Center, there will be an event with Indian tacos and bucket raffles. 

For more information, contact Agatha at the Grand Portage Tribal Council office at 218-475-2800. 

 

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Bill Lataday and John Morrin shared a brief look at the history of treaties between American Indians and the U.S. government

County board hears history of 1854 Treaty and more

At a meeting of the Cook County Commissioners in May, Commissioner Robert “Bobby” Deschampe suggested holding a special meeting to share information on the 1854 Treaty and its impact on the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Band Chippewa.

His board colleagues said they would like to learn more about the history and the importance of the Treaty and a meeting was set. More than 50 community members turned out Tuesday, June 5, to hear a presentation by John Morrin of the Grand Portage Tribal Council and Willam “Bill” Latady, the Tribal historic preservation officer for the Boise Forte Heritage Museum.

In front of a large map of Indian territories in the 1800s, Morrin spoke of the interaction between the Ojibwe tribes and the United States government leading up to the Treaty of 1854, which ceded the Arrowhead region and created the Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Boise Forte reservations, or “homelands.”

He said elders accepted the treaty to end the conflict with the government, but because of language barriers—and different world views—they didn’t understand what it meant to cede the land. Morrin said the concept of owning land was foreign to the Ojibwe leaders, as the people were part of the land.

Morrin also shared the historic struggle of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe through passage of the 1887 Dawes Act and 1889 Nelson Act.

After his thoughtful presentation, Morrin turned things over to Bill Latady who shared a more current look at Native American interaction with the U.S. government, including the passage of the 1990 Native American Grave Protection and Reparation Act (NAGPRA).
Lataday explained that NAGPRA established tribal ownership of cultural items discovered on federal lands

It also requires that if federal agencies plan activities on American Indian lands, those agencies must consult with tribal officials regarding possible historical artifacts on those lands.

And, he noted, historical value could include the various ways the land was used—for wild ricing or maple syrup production (sugar bush). That too, must be taken into consideration when activities such as mining and development are planned.

He noted that the 1990 passage of NAGPRA was significant. And although it has taken some time, Lataday said the federal government is starting to consult with tribes. He said change is coming—slowly. 

As Lataday wrapped up his talk, he said there was much more that could be covered. He said he taught four-day classes on Native American history and treaty rights in the past. 

After a round of applause for the speakers, there a brief question and answer session. An audience member thanked Commissioner Deschampe for arranging the presentation and asked what made him decide to do so.

Deschampe said the proposed expansion of the Lutsen Ski Hill brought the requirement that the Grand Portage Band be consulted during the US Forest Service permit process to light. And, he said, he didn’t think the public knew about that requirement.

Deschampe said it seemed to be a good time to offer information on the 1854 Treaty and other laws governing the Grand Portage Reservation and Ceded Territories.

The meeting ended and community members lingered to talk to Morrin and Lataday and to discuss the various historical treaties.

For information on the 1854 Treaty, which protects natural resources on tribal and ceded lands, read the 2017 report created by the 1854 Treaty Authority.

 


 
Ben Clagett, cross-country walker

Walking with purpose--across America

Colorado native Ben Clagett has seen a lot of America, up close. He has completed one cross-country walk and is now 65 days into his second. As he passed through Grand Marais, we invited him in to the WTIP studio to learn more about the reason behind these cross-country walks. 

Listeners can also learn more on Ben's website "Walk for 60."

Here's Rhonda Silence with more. 

 

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Viking Jack Haussner had an excellent season on hurdles - Photo by Hartley Acero

An exciting end to CCHS Track season

The Cook County High School Track team had a great season, with four of its members heading to section finals and one participant--Jack Haussner going to the state meet. Jack, a novice hurdler, had a fantastic finish to his season. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence sat down with Coach Chris Hegg to learm more about Jack's state competition and more. 

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Grand Portage Tribal Council election results

The General Election for the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribal Council was held today, June 12, and results are as follows:

For the Committee Person I seat, William “Bill” Myers won the seat, defeating incumbent Rob Hull with 53.82 percent of the vote over Hull’s 46.18 percent.

Incumbent John Morrin held on to his Committee Person II seat, earning 66.89 percent of the vote, defeating Mike Keyport with 33.11 percent of the vote.

Earning the most votes for secretary/treasurer of the Tribal Council was April McCormick, who received 59.93 percent of the vote. She defeated Bobby Deschampe who received 40.07.

The Grand Portage Tribal Council consists of a chairman, vice chairman, secretary/treasurer, and two committee members. All positions are four-year terms.

The Tribal Council is the governing body of Grand Portage. The enrolled members of the band elect the tribal council officers. The council oversees health care, social services, education, jobs, housing, public safety, and more.

The new council members will take office on July 9.
 


 
Arrowhead Board of Directors-Scott Harrison, Bob Nesheim, Stan Tull, Bill Huggins, Mike Littfin, Roger Opp, Rollie Adkins

Arrowhead Electric meets for election and information

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative held its 65th annual meeting today, Saturday, June 9 with a large turnout for both the pancake breakfast and the annual meeting.

After dining on pancakes cooked and served by the Cook County High School softball team, co-op members gathered in the Arrowhead Center for the Arts for the business meeting. Arrowhead board of directors Chair Scott Harrison welcomed the audience and said, “I hope you are well-nourished. Now we hope to give you some food for thought.”

John Brekke, vice president and chief power supply officer at Great River Energy (GRE), was the guest speaker. Great River Energy is the power provider for Arrowhead Cooperative. He said that GRE has a diverse portfolio of energy sources and he displayed a chart showing that GRE currently has the capacity to continue to distribute power to its 24 member cooperatives until 2032.

He gave a breakdown on where that electricity comes from and noted that GRE had met its state-mandated goals eight years ahead of time. That earned a round of applause from the audience.

And, Brekke said, GRE, at the direction of its member co-ops like Arrowhead, had voluntarily set a goal to receive 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030.

There was no mention of recently retired Manager Joe Pandy, who left the cooperative in May, several months short of a year at the co-op.

Acting Manager Jenny Kartes spoke, sharing financial information. She noted that Arrowhead is the smallest of all of the Great River Energy cooperatives, but handles a large, remote service territory. She said the co-op maintains 500 miles of electrical lines and 800 miles of telecom lines.

Operations Manager John Twiest also spoke about maintaining lines, as well as of the benefits of the automatic metering system the cooperative is now using. He said the automatic metering not only helps the cooperative know when power outages happen, the voltage monitoring aspect shows where power lines need to be upgraded and/or replaced.

He also shared information on the co-op’s plan to replace old electric line transformers to eliminate those that contain PCBs, a chemical used in older transformers, which could contaminate the environment if the transformer topples.

Twiest also said the co-op is working to replace the lights that it is responsible around the county with more efficient, Night Sky compliant bulbs.

As operations manager, Twiest oversees the “integrated vegetation management program,” more commonly known as the right-of-way clearing program. He said Arrowhead recently hired a firm to inventory its power lines to give suggestions of what the co-op should be doing differently. The company advised Arrowhead to increase its clearing rotation from seven year to five years, so Arrowhead has decided to do more frequent right-of-way clearing.

The next area to see right-of-way clearing is the south side of Gunflint Lake to Clearwater Lake. During the question and answer period at the end of the meeting, a member asked why the Clearwater area was being singled out. Twiest replied that it was its turn in the rotation. He stressed that all powerlines would eventually be cleared and added that Arrowhead is not doing anything different than what they have done in the past.

Twiest said right-of-way clearing is necessary for the safety of line crews, to reduce the potential of a downed line causing a wildfire and for the reliability of power. He added that in place of trees and shrubs, the co-op hopes to see the planting of pollinator-friendly grasses and wildflowers.

Yusef Orest, the cooperative member services manager, gave an update on the various things that fall under member services, such as True North Broadband. He said True North “has come a long way in four years” and he said there are now 2,768 True North accounts—2,763 receive internet and 1,555 have phone service.

During the Q&A part of the meeting, a member asked if there were any way to get a telephone book with True North phone customers’ numbers Orest said that is actually a co-op project. He said an online version would be available first.

Orest shared information on the cooperative’s load management system and renewable energy initiatives.
Orest noted that GRE’s Brekke had shared a slide showing that utility companies are meeting the governmentally mandated emission goals. But other industries—transportation and construction—are lagging. He said Great River Energy and Arrowhead are working to help the transportation industry decrease its emission levels by working to accommodate electric vehicles (EVs). Orest said plans are under way to have charging stations for EVs at the Arrowhead office in Lutsen, at Clearview in Lutsen, at Grand Marais City Hall and at the Grand Portage Lodge.

When the floor was opened to questions, several members came up to the microphone to ask about long-term debt; the current presidential administration’s push to increase use of coal; placement of wind farms in the state; and why Arrowhead’s rates are so much higher than in the metro area.

Various staffers answered questions including the last one—why are Arrowhead’s rates higher? Acting Manager Jenny Kartes said it comes down to density. She said in a city the average customer per mile is 80. For Arrowhead, it’s just seven. Distance combined with difficult terrain and soils for construction and maintenance equal higher expenses, Kartes said.

Before the official meeting ended and door prizes were distributed, the election results were announced. In District 2, the Maple Hill/Colvill area, Bob Nesheim was elected to the board. Retaining his seat in District 4, the Rosebush/Devil Track area was Mike Littfin. And also retaining his seat in the Pike Lake/Cascade area was Stanley Tull.

For more information about Arrowhead Electric, visit their website or call 218-663-7239. Regular board meetings are held the last Thursday of each month at 9:00 a.m.
 

Photo: The Arrowhead Electric Board of Directors - President Scott Harrison, District 6; newly-elected District 2 board member Bob Nesheim; Stan Tull, re-elected to District 5; Bill Huggins, District 7; Mike Littfin, re-elected to District 4; Vice-President Roger Opp, District 1; Rollie Adkins, District 3.  Photo by Rhonda Silence

To see more photos from the annual meeting, click photo for slideshow.
 
Note: This story originally stated that GRE had a goal to generate 80 percent of its power through renewables by the year 2050.  However, Brekke was describing a section of the state’s  2007 Next Generation Energy Act, which pledged to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

 


 
Road work is under way now near the Beaver Bay bridge

Road work ahead on Highway 61

Road construction is under way in Highway 61 between Silver Bay and Beaver Bay, near the Beaver Bay bridge. Motorists will encounter single lane closures and a temporary traffic signal. It is anticipated that the work there will be done by late June, depending on weather conditions. 

More scheduled improvements  begin Monday, June 11 on Highway 61 in Two Harbors. Motorists will again encounter single lane closures in each direction controlled by flagging operations or a temporary signal. A 12-foot width restriction will be in place.

Work will occur just north of the town of Two Harbors and just south of the Silver Creek Tunnel, as six large culverts and several small culverts are replaced. Once the culvert work is done, MnDOT will be milling the road surface and repaving will follow.  Motorists should be prepared to stop are asked to use caution when driving through the work area.

Work will be ongoing in that section until the end of July. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportaion, benefits of the project include additional left turn lanes to improve traffic flow, improved signal functionality, and a smoother pavement surface.

For updated road condition information, call 511 or visit www.511mn.org.

Photo by Rhonda Silence, WTIP