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North Shore News Hour


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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:
Gunflint Hills golf course

Gunflint Hills golf course in flux

There was a full house during the public comment period at the city council meeting on Wednesday, June 27. About 20 people were there and seven people spoke, sometimes passionately in defense of Gunflint Hills Golf Course Superintendent Mike Kunshier, upon his retirement, stating that they felt he had been underappreciated in his role at the golf course for 27 years.

Kunshier submitted his resignation last October and had agreed to stay on through this golf season, to help train a replacement. However, last week he submitted a letter of resignation, effective July 10.

Kunshier spoke and then a number of golfers, praised Kunshier and took the city to task for not completing a job assessment for his job for many years and for not recognizing the work he has done at Gunflint Hills. Several said he has treated the golf course as his own. Golfers appealed to the council to do whatever they can to keep him on staff through the season.

One supporter even offered to make a donation to cover the expense of keeping Kunshier on staff, perhaps as a consultant.

Golfers were also concerned about rumors that the city was considering closing Gunflint Hills altogether, something Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux responded to immediately, stating there was no plan to close the course.

Although golfers said they were glad to hear that, they were still concerned about how the golf course would function without Kunshier on board. They urged the council to develop some sort of transitional plan which includes keeping Kunshier involved for the rest of the season.

Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux thanked all of the golfers for speaking up and letting the community know about the value of Gunflint Hills. He thanked them for being informed on the matter, especially the understanding that the golf course is not a money making enterprise for the city.

He then attempted to answer some questions, noting first that whether Kunshier stays on as superintendent or not, is not up to the city, as it was Kunshier who submitted his retirement earlier than planned.

Arrowsmith DeCoux said when the city learned that Kunshier was unhappy with the fact that other city managerial positions had been evaluated—and that others had received an increase in pay—the city attempted to find a solution.

As the conversation wrapped up,  golfers thanked the city for looking for ways to keep the Gunflint Hills Golf Course viable, but  several stressed the importance of keeping the current superintendent on staff.

The matter came up later in the meeting, during council reports with councilors Anton Moody, Johnathon Steckelberg and Kelly Swearingen expressing surprise at this turn of events. Councilor Tim Kennedy was absent.

Swearingen said she shared the dismay of the citizens who questioned why the golf course superintendent had gone so long without a job description update. She said that needs to change.

In the short-term, the council is faced with the problem of filling the golf course superintendent vacancy. The mayor agreed to reach out to Kunshier once again.

And city administrator Mike Roth said it is now back to the drawing board with the applicants for the position, as the council agreed it will take a special skill set to take over golf course operations without the training from the current superintendent.

The matter will be on the next city council meeting, scheduled for what is now Mike Kunshier’s last day as golf course superintendent, July 10.


The former Tomteboda Motel site is slated for demolition and cleanup soon

City accepts bid for clean up for former Tomteboda Resort site

The Grand Marais City Council met Wednesday, June 27 and one agenda item was the decision on whether or not to wait for grant funds for the demolition and clean up of the former Tomteboda Motel site on the western end of Grand Marais.

The discussion began with City Administrator Mike Roth recommending acceptance of a low bid for the work from Veit, at a cost of $92,000, which is $34,584 less than the other bid received.

Roth asked councilors if they would like to wait to have Veit begin the demolition, as the city could apply for grant funding from Iron Range Resources for cleanup. However, the city won't know if it received the funding until the end of July, so clean up would be delayed until later this summer. 

The council debated and ultimately decided to proceed. Councilors noted that this is an eyesore for visitors entering the city.
Councilors also expressed concern about someone being hurt at the site, which is now somewhat hazardous. It was noted that the city could be financially responsible if someone was injured there.

Councilor Kelly Swearingen said although she is a “finance person,” she feels the potential savings is not worth the risk.
The council directed Roth to ask Veit to proceed with clean up of the site as soon as possible.

In other business, the city reviewed a contract with Energy Concepts, Inc. as the contractor to install a photovoltaic (solar) power system at the city’s new public works building. The proposal for the work is $139,818.
After discussion of the payback for the work, there was a consensus that this is important to the city for more than any savings the city would receive.

The council also approved two of three requests from American Legion Post 413 for temporary liquor licenses at events this summer.

The first approved is for a beer garden in Boulder Park over the 4th of July holiday. The beer garden will be operated by Grandma Ray’s and manager Justin Bystrom was at the council meeting. He explained a fenced beer garden would be set up at Boulder Park on July 4-7.

Another temporary liquor license was approved for July 26-28 in Bear Tree Park for the North Shore Music Collaborative’s “Star of the North” concert.  That event will also be coordinated by Grandma Ray’s.

The American Legion had also requested permission to also set up a beer garden at Boulder Park during the August Fisherman’s Picnic, but Bystrom said the organization wants to see how successful the July 4th event is first. He said he may return to the council later if the Legion and Grandma Ray’s opt to proceed.

The council accepted the Grand Marais Park Board recommendation to hire Brandy Erickson to work as a seasonal staffer at the front desk at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground.

Wyatt and Andy on their 125-mile crossing of the Florida straights. At times they encountered 8-10 feet waves.

Andy Cochrane kayaks from Cuba to Key West

Andy Cochrane, a Cook County High School graduate, is a freelance writer and photographer. He has been living life "on the road" and on the water. He recently joined a group of men who kayaked from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. 

Rhonda Silence visited with Andy to learn about this kayak adventure and about what's next. 

Click on photo to see more of the Cuba to Key West adventure. All photos by Johnie Gall. 



Dr. Kristine Woerheide with one of her more unusual patients

Ely's Dr. Kristine has local ties

Many students from Cook County schools have gone on to great adventures and interesting careers. One such graduate is Kristine Woerheide, who is now a veterinarian at the Ely Veterinarian Clinic. 

Rhonda Silence caught up with Kristine to talk a bit about what it takes to become a veterinarian and what she's been up to. 


Lutsen citizens gather at the town hall for meetings on the third Tuesday of each month

Lutsen gets fire and rescue, field reports

The monthly Lutsen township meeting was on Tuesday, June 19. The township supervisors heard an update from Lutsen Fire and Rescue, about 4th of July plans, about upgrades to the Lutsen ball field and more. 

WTIP's North Shore Morning host Bob Pajeski learns more from Andrew Beavers of the Lutsen Township.  


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.


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. 


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.


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. 



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.