Showing posts from January, 2024

Local Folks Honored 2024 Women’s March

The Women’s March “Bigger Than Roe” call to action was held on Saturday, January 20, across the country. Grand Marais was one of the official sister rallies for the work of the international organization Women’s March.  Despite double-digit windchills, a group of citizens showed up in downtown Grand Marais with signs, banners, and boundless energy to advocate for women’s rights.  Denny FitzPatrick, an organizer of the local event, said, “With the approaching 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are challenging politicians at all levels to support reproductive freedom and women’s rights, and we are beginning to galvanize voters for the 2024 elections.” He added, “We received lots of encouraging and supportive honking from passing cars.” Women’s March began on social media the day after the 2016 presidential election. Teresa Shook posted that the country needed a pro-woman march in reaction to the election result. Thousands of women signed up to march, and veteran activists and organizers

The Shore Thing Podcast Created to Share and Review Cook County News

News travels fast in Cook County. From events and happenings at the local schools, the hospital, the courthouse, the Gunflint Trail, and all corners of the county, there is a desire for those who live here to know what is happening. The dawn of social media, including local “community” pages specific to Cook County, has made sharing news and information about the region more widespread and engaging. It’s also muddied the water between facts and opinions. In 2024, Steve Fernlund and Joe Friedrichs, two longtime local members of the press, teamed up to create a platform for sharing news and information about Cook County. The platform is a podcast called The Shore Thing. Most episodes will be posted on and shared by Boreal Community Media. (Note: The views and opinions shared in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those held by Boreal Community Media.) “We saw there was an absence of in-depth analysis when it comes to important issues that impact Cook County and the people who live her

The Long Way Home 1.26.24 The Long Way Home 1.26.24 100% 11

My old friend and one-time cigar purveyor Anthony posted a meme on Facebook the other day. In the days when he sold cigars I knew that he and I shared an affinity for the philosophical. We share a love of books, too, and he now teaches college English. I tap a keyboard for slave wages and collect Social Security.  The meme was a picture of one of the daily traffic jams in this country with the statement, “You’re not stuck in traffic; you are traffic.”  Think about that. As a chronic user of Mr. Zuckerberg’s creation, I realize I’m not stuck in that noxious wasteland that is Facebook; I am that noxious wasteland.  I’m not despairing, just self-aware.  I avoid posting long-winded arguments about whatever issue has riled me or other citizens on community Facebook pages. I avoid arguments with the people who create verbose posts—the ones who repeat a lengthy argument repeatedly, answering everyone who dares to give a contrary position with the same argument they wrote previously.   Come on

Volunteers in Grand Marais Create a 52-week Food Shelf Challenge

Inspired by the work of her friend Jody Hepola for the Two Harbors Foodshelf program at the end of last year, Donna Lunke and her husband Orvis organized a 52--week Food Shelf Challenge to benefit the Grand Marais and Grand Portage food shelves in 2024.  “There’s a real need for the food shelf right now,” Orvis said.  In addition to increased demand from the community, the food shelves run short of certain items from their suppliers. Donna and Orvis undertook the project to help the local food shelves fill those shortfalls. Every week, Donna publishes a flyer on the community-oriented social media pages identifying the product needed for that week. The food shelf has a bin at Johnson’s and Gene’s Foods in Grand Marais to receive donations. Shoppers can buy one of the items needed and drop it in the bin by the door as they leave.  The first week was canned peaches. The second week, it was peanut butter. “This is a simple way to help address food insecurity in our area,” Donna said. “Eve

Media Company Focused on BWCAW and Quetico Opens in Grand Marais

Paddle & Portage(P&P), a media company offering a unique perspective on news, adventure, and storytelling from and about the Boundary Waters, commenced operations this month in Grand Marais.  It offers three ways to engage with its original and curated content: A monthly podcast about the Boundary Waters, a monthly digital magazine, and its website,  The podcast hosts are Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley. In 2017, they founded a podcast focused on the Boundary Waters for WTIP, the community radio station in Grand Marais.  The P&P platform allows for expanded storytelling, more voices from the community of paddlers, and the ability to travel deeper and capture more stories in the BWCA and Quetico. It will be accessible wherever you get your podcasts on the 10th of each month. The podcast has a sibling called Paddle and Portage Bonus Media for P&P members that offers a variety of additional content in audio form. Expect interviews with DNR, USFS

The Long Way Home 1.19.24

At dinner last night, our conversation turned to vacuum cleaners. The bohunk runs a vacuum cleaner at least once each day. We have dogs that bring in debris from outside, shed like strippers, and find their way onto furniture. Even the cat leaves some of his fur around. So, finding a proper, long-lasting, and reliable vacuum cleaner is a constant search for her and periodically a topic for dinner conversation with our son--one of the inheritors of her vacuuming predilection.  Since I’m the old man at the dinner table, I lead the conversation toward reminiscence with a “remember this” bit about the good old days. Sitting with the bohunk on one side and our adult son on the other, I looked to Becky and said, “Remember the Kirby vacuum we bought?”  We were much younger when that encounter happened—an upwardly mobile young couple with several young kids. The Kirby salesman back then came to your living room to demonstrate the rather incredible product and destroy any argument you may have

CN Upgrading Rail Yard at Two Harbors

People have noticed ongoing construction at the taconite staging terminal of CN Railway in Two Harbors. CN is making improvements to its Two Harbors operation. According to Kevin Donahue, State and Local Affairs manager for the railroad,” The project at Two Harbors includes grading, drainage, track bed construction and installation of 3800’ of track.” He added, "Private vehicle access will be maintained with a grade separation structure. This project is planned for completion in the summer of 2024.” CN Railway, then called Canadian National, was formed by the Canadian government in 1918. As rail transportation deregulation took place starting in 1980, the government of Canada turned the railroad over to private ownership with a public stock offering in 1995, and its name was officially changed to CN. CN acquired and took over operations of the Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range Railroad (DM&IR) and the taconite loading facility in Two Harbors on May 10, 2024. The DM&IR had a

North Shore Federal Credit Union Ends Successful December Hunger Hero Drive

The Hunger Hero fundraising effort of the members and employees of North Shore Federal Credit Union (NSFCU) last December was a huge success, according to Audrey Nelson,  Marketing Coordinator for the credit union that has served members on the North Shore since 1957, “Our December Hunger Hero campaign was a huge success—we donated $14,000 to our local food shelves,” Audrey said. The Hunger Hero program was started by NSFCU in 2016. It includes three monthly campaigns: one in March, another in July, and one in December. From Left to Right: Samantha LaBoda, Carrie Ernest, Tanner Paulseth, Jennifer VanHouse, Kendall Beck, and Cassie Ernest, NSFCU President Each branch office coordinates outreach for the program, promoting it to members and non-members. Donors may opt for a one-time donation or elect a recurring monthly contribution.  “NSFCU donated a total of $36,562 to Lake, Cook, and St. Louis County food shelves in 2023,” Audrey said.  “That brings us to $311,069 total donated from th

The Long Way Home 1.12.24

Growing old is a real pain in the posterior. But with the right attitude, a little laughter gets you through the worst days. I’ve written before about some of the times the Bohunk and I have “misheard” things and the resulting confusion that arises. If I were genuinely ambitious, I’d write each down and publish a book. Instead, I get a few laughs, and they fade into memory, like whatever I had for breakfast today. The Bohunk and I are “baby boomers.” Raised long before cell phones, we jumped on the cutting edge as those blasted devices became indispensable to life.  My first cell phone was a handset on top of a battery case that was the size of a small cement block. My company bought it so we could “stay in touch” while out beating the bushes for business. Cell service then was even spottier than it is now on the Gunflint Trail.  In a short time, car phones became popular. Mounted on the drive train hump, they weren’t hands-free, and you couldn’t take them into the restaurant with you.

Community Activism Continues at North Shore Health Board Meeting

Still energized by the termination of Emergency Room Doctor Bruce Dahlman, a group of taxpayers, patients, and visitors was formed to try and collaborate with the existing NSH board.  The group arose after some of its leadership withdrew a petition calling for the board to terminate hospital CEO Kimber Wralstad. The petition had more than 700 signers earlier this month when the hospital board called a “closed-door” meeting to discuss possible legal action for a defamation claim. The board did not indicate in the meeting notice what specific actions it felt were defamatory, but petition organizers felt intimidated and withdrew the petition.  Following that withdrawal, its organizers formed a non-profit group called Concerned Citizens for Cook County Healthcare (CCCCH).  A representative of CCCCH, Rowena Claxton, addressed the hospital board during the public comment section of its meeting on December 21.  In her statement, Claxton said, “Our group is made up primarily of Cook County res

The Long Way Home 1.5.2024

Headline writers in all media often come across as condescending twits. They don’t always mean to, but they appear condescending in their haste to be clever and eye-catching. I know this is true because, in my role at this fine publication, I write headlines for my stories. It takes a condescending twit to know one. The day after Christmas, I saw this headline on an article posted by Minnesota Public Radio, and I thought, “Well, that’s condescending.”   MPR Headline: "Along the North Shore, sleepy Silver Bay embraces development to put itself 'on the map'" Collins Online Dictionary states, “A sleepy place is quiet and does not have much activity or excitement.” The article appeared in MPR’s “Business and Economy” section. It explained the realities facing the city, built by a mining company decades ago to make little taconite pellets out of big rocks and ship them out over Lake Superior.  Even before the mill shutdowns of recent years, the city fathers and mothers of

The Long Way Home 12.29.23

I’m not sure if it’s possible to be more or less reflective than I’ve been in the past. But for some reason, this year of turmoil, at home and abroad, has me thinking more deeply about what the coming year brings. The coming year will have some dark times. I could wallow in fear and uncertainty, but I’m not sure Mama built me that way. My mom was a “stay-at-home” parent when we were young, only becoming a school lunch lady when I graduated into junior high. Nothing embarrasses a pubescent, four-eyed geek more than having Mom in the school lunchroom. It was even worse having all the other lunch ladies chirp, “Hi Stevie,” as I picked up my pizza burgers or hamburger gravy. I felt profound empathy for my peers in the geek world. (Apparently, the word “geek” originated over 500 years ago in Germany to describe a fool or simpleton--Guilty). Mom did pass on other things besides a profound angst about school lunchrooms. Thanks to her genetics, I was blessed with dark brown eyes, prominent che