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North Shore News Hour

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  • Monday 12-1pm
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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:
A flightboard in action, courtesy of HydroFlight Sports of Minnesota

Flightboards coming to Devil Track Lake July 7-8

HydroFlight Sports of MN will be visiting Cook County in July, demonstrating flyboarding on Devil Track Lake. The company is partnering with Skyport Lodge to bring this unique experience to the northland on July 7-8. 

Just what is flyboarding? WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Jeremy Walker of HydroFlight Sports to learn more.
 

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The majority of the demolition work on the former Ogema Realty building was done from the back of the building on May 7

Former Ogema Realty building demolished

Downtown Grand Marais is seeing some changes again. The little building wedged between Java Moose coffee shop and the Harbor Inn motel, the former Ogema Realty building, is being demolished.

WTIP checked in with the building’s owner, David Berner, of Tampa, Florida, about the building and his plans once the demolition is complete.

Here’s WTIP’s Rhonda Silence with that interview.

Photos by Rhonda Silence, WTIP

Photo from Cook County Historical Society: An early image of the Ogema Realty building in 1931. This photo is not of the cinderblock building on Wisconsin Street which was torn down this week. It shows Van Johnson and his nephew Lloyd K. Johnson. 

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Spring brings wildfire concerns

At about 7:30 last night, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a party wondering if a burn permit had been issued for anyone in the Devil Track Lake area as they thought they smelled smoke.
 
There were no burn permits on file at the Sheriff’s Office, but a sheriff deputy patrolled the Devil Track South Shore Drive area to investigate. The deputy didn’t see any smoke or a fire.
 
However, just after 8 p.m., a call came in of a possible house fire. A homeowner on the south side of the lake could see a large fire, but couldn’t tell exactly where it was.
 
A deputy was again dispatched, along with the Maple Hill Fire Department, Grand Marais Fire Department, Cook County Ambulance and First Responders.
 
The deputy located the fire, which was a large brush pile. The fire departments and ambulance were cancelled.
 
The fire was at the property of Skyler Johnson of Grand Marais, who was monitoring the fire and standing by with a large piece of equipment.
 
Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Valerie Marasco says the brush pile was in a clearing surrounded by snowbanks left from plowing in the winter. The surrounding ground around the clearing was shaded enough to hold snow.
 
Johnson had a large dozer ready to push the pile over if it started getting out of control. Johnson also had a water tank nearby.
 
Marasco said Johnson was advised that there needs to be a blanket of three inches of snow in order to burn without a permit. Given that there was still snow on the ground surrounding the brush pile, she said the deputy reprimanded Johnson for burning without a permit.

****
On Tuesday afternoon, May 2, WTIP received a call from a Gunflint Trail resident who thought he smelled smoke. WTIP contacted the U.S. Forest Service and learned that they had also received a call about smoke in the Gunflint area.
 
The Forest Service said a fire crew is investigating with an engine. If needed, a Beaver airplane will do a flyover.

Cook County is currently rated as having moderate fire danger, which means fires could start easily and spread at a very fast rate.
 
Residents can find the latest burning restrictions on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
 
Burning restrictions do not apply to campfires; they are still allowed. However, extreme caution is advised. The 2007 Ham Lake wildfire, which burned 75,000 acres and approximately 138 structures, began with a small campfire.
 
The Forest Service noted that the smoke noticed in Cook County could be from a wildfire in western Minnesota, in Roseau County, where a 5,800-acre grass fire is burning.
 
Anyone who suspects a fire is asked to contact Cook County Law Enforcement dispatch at 218-387-3030 or 9-1-1. The law enforcement center will contact the appropriate agencies.
 


 
Emergency managers, past and present - Valerie Marasco, Jim Wiinanen and Nancy Koss

Emergency Management -- changes and an award

Each year at the Cook County Emergency Services Conference, the emergency services community honors some of its members. This year a special award was presented, the Career Achievement Award, which was given to Cook County’s former Emergency Management Director, Nancy Koss.

Koss now lives in Hermantown, but was invited to attend this year’s conference to accept the award, which was given in recognition of her 17 years as emergency management director.

After the current Emergency Management Director Valerie Marasco bestowed the honor, Koss expressed appreciation for the award and said she was pleased to see that the county has continued the conference and some of the other measures initiated during her tenure. She said, “I think you are headed in the right direction.”

After the conference, Koss agreed to sit down with WTIP’s Rhonda Silence to talk a little bit about emergency services and the changes she has seen.

For more information about the conference, or to learn how you could help our local emergency services, call Director Valerie Marasco at Cook County Emergency Management at 218-387-3059.

Pictured: Three of Cook County's Emergency Management Directors, (L-R) Valerie Mararsco, former director Jim Wiinanen, and former director Nancy Koss. Photo by Rhonda Silence

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Fire activity as part of the emergency services conference on April 28. All photos by Rob Wells

Fire training 'lights up' Grand Marais building

Every year for the last 27 years, members of the local emergency services have gathered for two days of training and networking during the Cook County Emergency Services Conference.

This year’s event included a variety of training opportunities, ranging from classroom studies to entering the frigid Lake Superior waters or a burning building.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in on the action at the live burn which took place right next door to the WTIP studio.

Audio is shared below. To view more pictures from the event, click the image on the left for a pop-up window to appear. 
 

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John and Rose Schoot accepted the Dolly Johnson Friends of Emergency Services Award from Kelly Johnson Roberts

Honors for local emergency services community

Every year for the last 27 years, members of the local emergency services have gathered for two days of training, networking and celebrating during the Cook County Emergency Services Conference. This year’s event included a variety of training opportunities, ranging from classroom studies to entering the frigid Lake Superior waters or a burning building. The two days event finishes with dinner and a speaker, along with some awards for those who have made major contributions to emergency services.

One of the awards goes to someone who is not an emergency provider, but to someone who lends tremendous support to the emergency responders it the region. The award was first given in 2003 to award namesake, Dolly Johnson. Dolly was a dispatcher in the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and was a great friend to all emergency workers.

This year the award in her honor goes to a couple—John and Rose Schloot of Cross River Lodge on the Gunflint Trail.
The Schloots were recognized for their work in feeding the emergency workers in the region during several major events, such as the Ham Lake wildfire and a multi-day search for a missing man. The Schloots have also served up food for fundraisers, including the 10-year anniversary gathering commemorating the Ham Lake wildfire.

Emergency Management Director Valerie Marasco invited Dolly Johnson’s daughter, Kelly Roberts, up to present the award.
Marasco next presented the Cook County Emergency Provider of the Year Award to Keck Melby. Melby has been involved in Cook County emergency services for decades, as a member of the Hovland Volunteer Fire Department, a Cook County Ambulance crew member and as the developer of the traffic safety program known as the STOP program. Melby spent countless hours bringing the national STOP program to the community, tailoring it our rural road system and departments.

A third award was presented this year, the Career Achievement Award, which was given to Cook County’s former Emergency Management Director, Nancy Koss. Koss now lives in Hermantown, but was invited to attend this year’s conference to accept the award, which was given in recognition of her 17 years as emergency management director, during which time she oversaw the county department through a number of crisis situations, such as the 1995 Sag Corridor Fire, the July 1999 blowdown, the Alpine Lake fire of 2005, the Famine and Cavity Lake fires of 2006 and the devastating 75,851-acre Ham Lake fire.

And perhaps of most interest to many in attendance, Koss was the person who launched the comprehensive weekend of training for Cook and Lake counties, as well as Canada, that is now a fixture in the emergency services community.

Koss expressed appreciation for the award and said she was pleased to see that the county had continued the conference and some of the other measures initiated during her tenure. She said, “I think you are headed in the right direction.”

For more information about the conference, or to learn how you could help our local emergency services, call Director Valerie Marasco at Cook County Emergency Management at 218-387-3059.
 
 

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City Hall

Mayor talks about upcoming events in Grand Marais

Summer festival season is starting soon, with events as early as May 5. The Grand Marais City Council reviewed a number of requests for events at the April 25 council meeting. 

WTIP's Rhonda Silence speaks with Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux to learn more. 

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Jack Heiskari, Marine corps veteran, was on the latest Honor Flight

Marine Corps veteran Jack Heiskari on Honor Flight

The Honor Flight Northland, carrying about 100 veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, traveled from Duluth to Washington, D.C. and back on Saturday, April 16.

On board that flight was Orvis Lunke of Grand Marais, who along with his wife, Donna Lunke, volunteers with the Honor Flight program – Donna behind the scenes at the welcomes and send-offs for veterans; Orvis as a “guardian” accompanying veterans on the trek to the monuments in Washington, D.C. This is the eighth time that Orvis has served as a guardian for this special event.

Three Cook County veterans were on the latest Honor Flight, Mike Quaife of Grand Marais,  David Monson of Tofte and Jack Heiskari of Grand Marais.

WTIP's Rhonda Silence spoke with Jack Heiskari about the Honor Flight. 

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Mike Quaife during his days with the US Army

Speaking with Honor Flight veteran Mike Quaife

The Honor Flight Northland, carrying about 100 veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, traveled from Duluth to Washington, D.C. and back on Saturday, April 16.

On board that flight was Orvis Lunke of Grand Marais, who along with his wife, Donna Lunke, volunteers with the Honor Flight program – Donna behind the scenes at the welcomes and send-offs for veterans; Orvis as a “guardian” accompanying veterans on the trek to the monuments in Washington, D.C. This is the eighth time that Orvis has served as a guardian for this special event.

Three Cook County veterans were on the latest Honor Flight, Jack Heiskari and Mike Quaife of Grand Marais, and David Monson of Tofte. WTIP talked to each of them about their experience.

Here's Rhonda Silence with Mike Quaife.

Listen: 

 
Veteran David Monson in his military days

Veteran David Monson shares Honor Flight experience

The Honor Flight Northland, carrying about 100 veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, traveled from Duluth to Washington, D.C. and back on Saturday, April 16.

On board that flight was Orvis Lunke of Grand Marais, who along with his wife, Donna Lunke, volunteers with the Honor Flight program – Donna behind the scenes at the welcomes and send-offs for veterans; Orvis as a “guardian” accompanying veterans on the trek to the monuments in Washington, D.C. This is the eighth time that Orvis has served as a guardian for this special event.

Three Cook County veterans were on the latest Honor Flight, Jack Heiskari and Mike Quaife of Grand Marais, and David Monson of Tofte. WTIP talked to each of them about their experience. 

Here's Rhonda Silence with David Monson. 

Listen: