Showing posts from March, 2023

The Long Way Home 3.24.2023

What a winter. The Sierra mountains in California and Nevada have seen snowfall that would cover a six story building. Ski resorts have had to close because the snow is up to the bottom of chairlifts.  Those of us on the North Shore had a second year of a whole lot of snow.  Complaining about the weather helps us cope, I suppose. In a couple months we can complain about the humidity, black flies, and tourists. But coping isn’t the same as changing things. We can’t change the weather. But we can do something to resolve another complaint. Twice a year, lives are disrupted, some like mine for several days, with the inconvenience and annoyance of Daylight Saving Time (DST), springing ahead and falling back. Prior to 1883 the USA had 144 different local times. This created a great deal of trouble for fledgling railroads trying to serve a growing nation. It was pretty hard to write and post departure and arrival schedules with any time consistency.  In November 1883, Canadian and US railroad

The Long Way Home 3.17.23

The manager of our office in Sioux Falls, SD, back when I was a corporate guy, used to say,, “Nothing stays the same except rocks.” Like rocks, the problems facing our country and our community seem unchanging. Food security, vulnerable infrastructure, and affordable housing among others seem permanent, and intractable. They’ve been around since well before I was born, seven decades ago, and I fear they will be around long after I’m gone. They are the rocks of ages.  There are countless nonprofits and government bureaucracies, federal, state and local, striving to address these problems, with varying degrees of success. It seems like a new group pops up every year. Addressing the food security issue, a new group called Cook County Food System Network held its kickoff meeting in Grand Marais this week (after the deadline for this paper). In its press release announcing the get together, the Network wrote that its aim is, “to connect organizations and engaged caring community members who

Two Harbors Brothers Start Clear Vue Power Washing to Serve North Shore

Jacob Keech and his brothers, Steven and Tyler, started Clear Vue Power Washing on a small scale last year. This Spring they are kicking it into gear and offering services to customers along the North Shore and on the Iron Range. Clear Vue cleans everything from driveways, sidewalks, and decks, to  windows, siding, and roof gutters. Its website proclaims, “Revitalizing Residential Exterior Surfaces Is Our Specialty.” Jacob, a graduate of Two Harbors High School, is a committed entrepreneur. In high school he thought about a military career and had several ideas for businesses he’d like to start. He is currently a dedicated member of the Minnesota National Guard.  A few years ago, he bought his first pressure washer and was fascinated by what it could do. “I’m always learning,” he said as he went on to explain that he went online to absorb as much information as he could about power washing. “I saw videos of concrete sidewalks and walls being cleaned, so I went outside and started to cl

Cook County EDA and Public Health And a “Year of Support for Local Childcare Providers”

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Cook County are joined together in a series of efforts intended to strengthen and expand local childcare systems for the county. Alison McIntyre, Director of PHHS, said, “The PHHS department is proud to be a partner in the ongoing collaborative efforts and infusion of new resources to support existing providers and expand access to care.” The two agencies received a $180,000 grant from Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to fund initiatives to support new and existing childcare providers. Specifically, the grant includes funding for five initiatives:     A recruitment campaign for childcare workers that includes hiring bonuses     Cover the time and cost of childcare providers to receive continuing education toward a Child Development Associate credential     Create a subsidized slot program for new or expanding child care businesses to offset costs until the busines

Health Care Foundation Announces initiative to Fund Training Opportunities for Providers

The North Shore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) announced its initiative intended to address a critical shortage of emergency responders/technicians, nurse aids, medical assistants and licensed practical nurses in Cook County.  Titled “Investing in Our Future Health Care Workforce Solutions,” it has the NSHCF investing in a state-of-the-art Trauma Manikin Simulator that will allow students to locally complete necessary medical training and certifications. The manikin has responsive vitals, the ability to bleed and release fluids and will communicate to the trainee through the operator. It is portable for use in exercises in remote parts of the county.  According to NSHCF, the sophisticated Trauma Manikin will improve hands-on skills training for those pursuing health careers and complements the EMT/EMR training curriculum developed by Jon Moe, Education Director at North Shore Health. The curriculum was recently approved by the Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board. “Sim

The Long Way Home 3.10.23

There once was a semi-retired freight peddler who worked part-time for our company in the Twin Cities. Bob Mencke spent most of his life selling freight transportation, when he wasn’t golfing. He also had a joke in answer to any joke you might tell him. “Steve,” he said, “There are really only ten jokes, and all jokes are variations of one of those ten.” As I’ve been reading more fiction, especially police procedurals and private eye adventures, I see they all are variations of the same story. Evil bad guys, usually quite wealthy, steal and kill with impunity until the imperfect detective finally brings them down. So I broke my promise and started a couple of non-fiction books. First was Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. A true story that I’d never heard before. The Osage Indians were displaced to a reservation in Oklahoma in the 1800s, to a land that unbeknownst to The White Father in Washington sat atop massive oil fields. In the 1

Two Harbors Community Radio Presents Cabin Fever Reliever

The seventh “Cabin Fever Reliever,” a celebration of local musical talent and community radio, will be held Sunday, March 12, 4:00 pm, at the Two Harbors High School auditorium. The community celebration will benefit radio station KTWH in Two Harbors. The two-hour program features nine performing acts and will be co-emceed by the one-man band Steve Solkela, and flutist and KTWH Beat Farm host Leslie Black. The show’s producer, Kim Leon, is a long-time volunteer working with KTWH. She and husband Jose Leon, who own and operate Two Harbors Media, came to Two Harbors in 2012. She began organizing this event in November. Kim is an on-air volunteer at the station and works to showcase highlights of the music and artists in the region.  Kim is excited to bring a live performance to the stage this year. “Due to the pandemic, Cabin Fever Reliever was not done live the last two years,” Kim said. Local crowd favorite, THUG (Two Harbors Ukulele Group), is the “one of a kind house band” for the pe

CCSD Education Foundation EATS Event Returns Next Week

After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-related lock-downs, the Cook County School District 166 Education Foundation fundraiser returns this month. EATS (Enriching Academics Through Sustenance) will be held Thursday, March 9 from 5 to 7 pm at the Cook County Middle/High School. The fundraising event for the Foundation features food samples from Cook County restaurants and food vendors. Guests may bid in the silent auction for a large variety of  items donated by local businesses and individuals. The North Shore Swing Band will provide the music for the event. Only 125 tickets will be sold at a price of $30 each, and they are on sale until March 6. They may be purchased at the Subway restaurant in Grand Marais and at the school offices in the Middle/High School building during normal school hours.  The nonprofit foundation was created to offer unique experiences for the district’s students through innovative instruction and co-curricular programs that are not funded by ISD 166 or other sou

Oddz & Endz Distributes $80,433 to Cook County Non-profits

Oddz and Endz, a Grand Marais non-profit store that is a re-seller of used household goods, furniture, and books, announced that is distributing over $80,000 of its profits this year to select community non-profits in Cook County. Oddz and Endz exists for three stated reasons: To keep reusable goods out of landfills To make these goods available to community members at reasonable prices To support a wide range of non-profits that serve its community by gifting a portion of the annual profits of the store. The store is staffed by volunteers from the community. Each volunteer’s hours on the job are banked during the year. At year-end, the banked hours are used to determine what percentage of annual profits a volunteer may direct to the non-profit of their choice.  In 2022, Oddz and Endz joined forces with Library Friends of Cook County. The store accepts donations of previously owned books. Library Friends volunteers curate and stock a diverse inventory of used fiction and non-fiction bo

The Long Way Home 03.03.2023

The announcement in mid-February that former President Jimmy Carter was beginning hospice care was sad, but hardly a surprise. At 98 years old, the longest lived of any president, this was to be expected. It got me remembering how my path and President Carter’s paths have crossed over the years. Initially, President Carter signed into law the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 and the Stagger’s Act, which began the deregulation of trucking and railroading and saw a rather meteoric rise in my professional life.  In those days I didn’t consider myself political, that would come in the aftermath of partial deregulation. I didn’t pay much attention to who the president was or even think too deeply how the legislation Mr. Jimmy signed was going to impact my life. Fast-forward to January 2006. My political godfather in Las Vegas, John Moran, had worked in the Carter Presidential campaign in 1976. John asked me to volunteer with the US Senate campaign of Jack Carter, the former president’s son who liv

Cook County Seeking Volunteers for Emergency Services Chaplain Program

 By Steve Fernlund The Cook County Sheriff’s office is seeking volunteers to serve on its Emergency Services Chaplain Program. Chaplains may be members of the clergy, but the program is open to others. Chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support when requested to first responders, their families, and the general public when those people have life-changing significant crisis experiences. Dep. Mike Running “We are often dealing with people on the worst day of their lives,” said Deputy Mike Running, the sheriff’s liaison to the program. “We are looking for people who really want to volunteer for emergency services,” he said.  Law enforcement and other emergency personnel deal with some pretty tough situations, from highway accidents to home fires and sudden injury or death. Whether local people, seasonal residents, or tourists, the EMS staff are busy when these situations happen. The chaplain serves as the liaison between first responders and the injured party along with their famil

Two Harbors Native Heather Wilde Publishes Memoir

Heather (Goette) Wilde, a 1993 graduate of Two Harbors High School, has just published a memoir titled Tumbled, A Memoir of Perseverance, Personal Growth & Magical Transformation available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle version. Wilde graduated high school thinking of a career in the business world. In college she decided to major in English and went on to a teaching career, eventually achieving a Masters Degree in Character Education. First teaching English at a small school in Isle, MN, she finished her teaching career in Superior, WI schools teaching GEDO, a program designed to accelerate students without enough credits to the point where they could graduate high school with their class. She left that teaching position in January of 2022 and began writing her memoir.  Wilde says that she realized that she started making her own life choices while still in high school and she admits that those weren’t always the best choices. Regarding her choice of a teaching career, initiall

The Long Way Home 2.24.2023

It’s almost March Madness. Some consider March madness to mean college basketball playoffs. I think there is something else, something more, to March madness.  Here in Cook County, March is the longest month of winter. Whether it comes in like a lion or comes in like a lamb, there seem to be many more overcast days than sunny ones. There tends to be too many snowstorms. And it seems like people are just a bit more angry than at any other time of the year. In my newspaper publishing days we printed a law enforcement report each week. It was a log of calls and reports from the responding deputies. Those reports were written by the officers, and back then they weren’t standardized like now. Some of them were laugh out loud funny. The reports had so much character that a morning radio show in the Twin Cities used to read them on the air, just for laughs. While there is no concrete evidence, it seemed to those of us in the newsroom that the reports from the cop shop could be a tad darker an