June 13, 2019


'We're Coming, We're Coming Back'


The headline statement for this story was uttered by Jimmy Zupancich last Friday in a telephone interview about the future of the Zup's Food Market rebuilding. The store was a mainstay for Cook and the area, but it burned down the night of Nov. 12, 2018. This was a major economic hit to the Cook area. Residents had to change their shopping routines, going to Pelican Bay in Orr, Zup's in Tower or to Virginia. This has affected local businesses and residents.
Matt Zupancich, one of the owners and the manager of the Cook store, said he wanted to rebuild it fast and had an early goal, but there were hangups. The Fire Marshal had to make a final report for the insurance companies and it gave a clear report on the fire. Then the City of Cook applied for a grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board of $350,000 for the infrastructure and this meant the IRRRB had to see the plans.
Then the Zupancich Board of Directors had to agree on the plans for a new store that would cost three times what the original store did due to rising construction costs. They wanted to virtually copy the new Babbitt store, but this all took time.
The grounds of the store were cleared and made ready for rebuilding as the community looked on, hopefully.
In the meantime, rumors were ripe in the area about what was going on, and most were false. News reports came out with false reports, too.
Well, Jimmy Zupancich was contacted at the Ely store last Friday and adamantly said, "We're coming, we're coming back." The board had approved the plans, and though the store may not be as large as they wanted, it will still be a big upgrade of the former store. The former store had insurance for a store built 20 years ago, but with the rise in construction costs they had to reduce the size a little. Jimmy noted they had made the final payment on the original store two months before it burned down.
Cook Mayor Harold Johnston informed this writer that the IRRR Board had given final approval for the $350,000 infrastructure grant at their meeting last Thursday night. This is a big help for the store, which at one time was estimated to cost $5 million plus.
The store is going to be rebuilt, but the board is waiting for the final blueprints to okay them. Jimmy Z. said they plan to have a groundbreaking this summer, but haven't set the date yet.
Hopefully, all the rumors that have been floating around town will fade away and when this new store is completed, it will be a monstrous addition to the Cook area.

Mental Health - We all have a stake in it!

Mental health is "health" every one of us needs to be aware of and take notice. There are many misconceptions surrounding mental health. One of the largest misnomers is that mental health and mental illness are one in the same thing. People often use these terms interchangeably, but these terms are not the same and mean different things.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines mental illness as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder which can vary in impact, ranging from no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment. Mental health refers to much more than mental illness. In fact, most who struggle with their mental health do not have a mental illness. The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." People who may suffer from a mental illness work very hard on their mental health to achieve the well-being that many others may take for granted.
It is "OK" when we find ourselves struggling with our own mental health. It is during these times of struggle that we often may need the most support. These supports may include reaching out to our informal support (e.g., family, friends), self-help (e.g., books, online resources), or receiving formal support (e.g., support groups, therapy, medication, etc). Just as one's physical health may improve or decline, our mental health may improve or decline as well. However, most people tend to find themselves much more willing to admit to difficulties they face in their physical health and tend to more often keep their mental health locked up tight. People often do things regularly that help manage their mental health, such as going for a walk, reading a book, having dinner with friends, and taking vacations. They know that if they don't do these things they find themselves feeling stressed, maybe more anxious or feeling down; people may tend to snap at others; these are all signs that our mental health needs more attention.
At best, the idea of normalizing mental health can be quite daunting. Each of us can work to make normalizing mental health happen. It starts with each one of us beginning to talk about mental health and treating mental health like any other issue that someone faces (e.g., heart conditions, diabetes, etc). We recognize that any one of us may struggle with our mental health at different times in our lives.
Mental Health Allies was recently formed in Cook to help address issues surrounding mental health and making it "OK" to talk about mental health. The Mental Health Allies is a group of various partner agencies, tribal partners, schools, and community members who have a passion to build a stronger community by identifying and providing access to resources, increase education of mental health, and promote community collaboration. This group meets the first Monday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Large Conference room at the Cook Hospital.
"What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation." ­ Glenn Close
Mental Health Allies

Prescribed fire decreases wildfire risk, improves habitat and enhances forest health across Superior National Forest

Conditions that nurture wildfires also can nurture prescribed fires. As of June 3, spring weather conditions have allowed crews to make significant progress implementing planned prescribed fire projects across the Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota. A total of more than 3,600 acres on approximately a dozen units have been treated so far with prescribed fire, including dead vegetation that had been piled for burning. This is good news for native plants and wildlife that depend on fire to create conditions for them to thrive, good for general forest health and regeneration, and good in terms of reduced wildfire hazards for people living near or visiting the Forest.
This large amount of prescribed fire work was accomplished by Superior National Forest personnel with the assistance of crews from Black Hills, Daniel Boone, Lolo, Chippewa, and Kootenai national forests, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Parks, along with Region 1 Smokejumpers, Midewin Interagency Hotshot Crew, and Pike Interagency Hotshot Crew. Operations involved crews on the ground and in boats on the water, with air support from airplanes and helicopters.
As favorable conditions continue, crews plan to complete additional prescribed fires and are also prepared to respond to wildfires.
Remember Smokey Bear's message -Everyone can play a role in reducing wildfire risks:
· Pay attention to current fire restrictions.
· Reduce fire risk around your home through fire wise practices.
· Follow Smokey Bear's rules for fire safety.
Additional details about the Forest fire and fuels management program is available on the Superior National Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/superior.
For updates regarding ongoing fire activity, go to the national INCIWEB site at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.
Prescription for a healthy forest - Prescribed fires are carefully planned, far in advance, with involvement from specialists in all of the resource programs on the Forest and designed to be implemented under specific conditions (prescription) to meet management objectives. Reducing dangerous fuel loads to reduce the risk of a quick-spreading large wildfire is often an objective for a prescribed fire. Prescribed fire is also a useful tool for preparing a site for regeneration of native vegetation, restoring certain forest types, and maintaining wildlife openings or other habitat enhancements.
Several considerations go into planning a prescribed fire, including fuel types, presence of sensitive plants or animals, proximity to homes and private lands, visitor use, fuel moisture, winds, relative humidity, and projected weather.
The prescribed season for implementing may be based on controlling certain invasive plants when their life history makes them vulnerable or avoiding the nesting period of a sensitive bird species. In our region, spring and fall are usually the seasons when conditions match the prescription for a particular prescribed fire unit, but sometimes management objectives indicate summer is the best timing for a prescribed fire.
Prescribed burns are conducted by trained, certified Forest Service personnel and take into consideration temperature, relative humidity, wind and other conditions. Superior National Forest managers intend to continue to pursue project planning and implementation approaches that expand collaboration with other land managers to increase efficiencies and effectiveness of prescribed fire and other vegetation treatments on the Forest.


Pick up this week's paper for more stories and pictures...

Timber Days makes Cook the place to be last weekend

Spring Art Expo Event: Annual Meeting NWFA and 'The Kalevala: The Voices of our Ancestors'

Letters to the Editor...