September 19, 2019

Bridge over Vermilion River to officially open Sept. 20

185-foot bridge connects multi-use trails, adds scenic new recreational opportunity

Sept. 10 - On Friday, Sept. 20, a new bridge spanning the Vermilion River will be officially opened, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by hundreds of trail-riding families from across Minnesota, during the annual convention of the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM). The multi-year project was led by the Voyageur Country ATV Club. Set in place last week, the 185-foot, single-span bridge connects new trail segments on both sides of the river, used by riders of ATVs and snowmobiles.
The $1.26 million project includes 16 miles of trail that connects Elephant Lake and Echo Lake. The project funding came from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and from ATV user fees.
"This is a project that has been four years from the initial vision to putting the bridge in place. It's made up of 80 tons of American steel and it's 14-feet wide. We were very pleased with local contractors, Bougalis and Sons, and Vic's Crane Service, who did a fantastic job of getting this bridge built in time," said Bruce Beste, a board member with the Voyageur Country ATV Club.
"This is an awesome project. I think it's a premier ATV trail project in the state of Minnesota. The first ride on Friday will be the first ride across the bridge," said Beste. "This provides numerous new trail connections and it's sure to be a place people stop when they're out riding in the Crane Lake area."
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, is a highlight of the three-day ATVAM convention, also called "Ride & Rally." Families riding ATVs, along with elected officials, tourism bureaus, and local, state and federal agencies, will gather on both sides of the river for the official opening.
The Ride & Rally also features 12 different trail rides in the area on Saturday, followed by a banquet and auction. For more information and a complete schedule of activities, go to the ATVAM website:
Organized in 2015 with 66 members, the Voyageur Country ATV Club now has a membership of over 700. It has been influential in opening a number of U.S. Forest Service roads and St. Louis County roads in the area to ATVs, connecting hundreds of miles of existing wooded trails. The club's mission is to provide safe, signed corridors for ATV riders, connect local communities, promote responsible riding, protect the environment and positively impact local tourism.
ATVAM is the state association representing 80 ATV clubs across Minnesota. Established in 1983, it serves the interests of ATV owners in Minnesota by advocating for ATV recreation, advancing the safe use of ATVs, building trails economically and environmentally sustainable, providing information, and participating in legislative and regulatory activities related to the use of all-terrain vehicles.

Groundbreaking for new Zup's Food Market coming soon, plans to open by start of fishing season


For residents of the Cook area, the construction of the new Zup's Food Market seems to be taking forever, but according to Jimmy Zupancich, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new store is coming up soon. In an interview on Monday, Jimmy said one of the reasons it has taken so long is the insurance company wouldn't allow them to clear the site until January. Zup's is almost ready for a groundbreaking ceremony and the start of construction, said Jimmy.
He said that all of the employees were going to go back, if possible, and their union will still be there. There was a meeting of the employees and management last Thursday to clear up things.
Jimmy Zupancich said they were paid fully for 10 months before the funding from the insurance company ran out. They are now on a six-month layoff status.
The Cook store was completely paid off in June of last year after which they could have been putting money aside for new construction. The fire last year put an end to that. One of the problems according to Jimmy Z. is they wanted to build a larger store, but then found construction costs had gone up four times since the original store was built. The new store is planned to be 17,000 to 18,000 square feet or about the size of the original store.
They plan to have the new store in operation by or before the start of fishing season next spring.
Jimmy Z. was very proud of the Cook employees of Zup's saying, "Cook employees are great people."
There have been a lot of rumors going around, most of them wrong.

Zup's Mini-Mart keeps going
In the meantime, the new Zup's Mini-Mart was put together by Matt Zupancich, former manager and also the new manager of Zup's. Thanks to some very loyal employees who are keeping the mini-mart going due to their love of the Cook area people, this store should give the local area a place to get most of their groceries, including meat, fruit and vegetables. Matt is to be commended for providing this service.


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