June 10, 2021


A Long Awaited Evening

by Randy Swenson

A night of celebrations came to the North Woods gymnasium on Friday. Forty-two seniors finished a 13-year journey to celebrate becoming the 2021 graduating class.
A crowded gymnasium of family members and friends celebrated the first time in a long time that a crowd of hundreds could come together without masks and other pandemic restrictions. It did not seem to bother anyone that the day featured temps in the 90s, thus making for a warm auditorium.
Principal John Vukmanich got a laugh from the audience in his address when he said that upon his arrival to the school, and experiencing the heat, he immediately threw out one page of his address.
The program began when Cole Thiel welcomed the audience by reflecting upon the journey he and his classmates had made and became known as a "mischievous bunch." Cole will be leaving this summer to join the Navy.
A recurring theme of the evening was how well the senior class learned to adapt to the many changes placed upon them because of the pandemic.
Brynn Simpson, one of three students who graduated with High Honors, was selected to give the Student Address. She reflected on how the class had come together when the Cook and Orr schools consolidated, but after this night they will disperse with the knowledge of how much they have achieved.
The two other students who graduated with High Honors were Emily Fosso and Olivia Fultz.
A 2005 graduate of Cook High School and a North Woods science instructor, Joel Anderson, addressed the class. He spoke on the unpredictability of life and encouraged the class to keep on adapting. He cited a character from a 2001 movie who sported an awesome mullet, Joe Dirt, who in his humor gave some timely advice. Some of that advice was, "Life is a garden - dig it."
Always one of the most touching moments in a graduation ceremony is the presentation of flowers to parents. As the class song, "If This is the Last Time," was played, the seniors spread out through the crowd to give hugs and flowers to family members.
After the diplomas were awarded by school administrators, Zoe Kisch and Samuel Frazee gave the Closing Address. They shared how they became known as "That 6th grade class" with a talent for procrastination. Before closing out the evening, Kisch expressed thanksgiving to health care workers and teachers.

Grand Marshal is Jody Refsdal

by Robin Fisher

Thanks to COVID affecting our 2020 Timber Days Celebration, Ms. Jody Refsdal was our honorary Grand Marshal for 2020 and is our Grand Marshal for 2021. Jody is a very worthy candidate to carry the title for two years!
Jody's family settled in Cook when she was in eighth grade. Later her career with the Forest Service led her to leave Cook and go to D.C. in 1988. After 25 years in the Forest Service, she was looking at retirement. Then the tragic shooting happened in nearby Sandy Hook, Conn. Twenty 6- and 7-year-old children were killed in this rural school. Jody said this heartbreaking event made her think about her future course in life.
"I wanted to go back home to Cook. I needed to spend more time with my kids and grandkids. I wanted to be in a small community where I can help people and really make a difference."
Jody moved to Cook in 2013. Her first activity was to volunteer at the Cook School. "When I help the teachers do their paperwork, copying and such, they have more time to spend with the students." Jody also assists the students with their schoolwork.
"My niece Jenny (Refsdal) Panichi is one of the teachers I helped with last year's Distance Learning. I could help a lot by making up those learning packets."
Jody especially likes to help her grandsons, Carson and Buckley, with their schoolwork. Jody said,"I have to be real careful when I help Carson with third-grade math. The new methods of teaching are different than what I remember! I have to learn what the teacher wants as I don't want to confuse my grandson!"
Jody has a huge volunteer resume'. She is very active in the Cook Lions Club and is currently the treasurer. You will see Jody selling brats at the Brat Barn by Zup's. Those yellow vests mean the Lions are hard at work!
She also works at the Cook Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop, AEOA food distributions, and Ruby's Pantry. She also delivers Senior Meals, and is active in a women's circle at the Baptist Church. She is also a board member at the North Star Credit Union.
Jody is very successful at organizing roadside clean-ups in the Cook area. She has a big heart for helping in the community. She says, "We have to get kids involved at a young age so they grow up with a heart for helping others. They can learn that being part of a team feels so good. A group can accomplish so much. During highway litter clean-up, people drive by and give the workers a thumbs-up. That makes the volunteers feel really great!"
Jody's community service is already rubbing off on her grandson Carson. In August 2020, Carson was one of the youth featured in the Duluth News-Tribune. He received a $40 award from the Summer Work Outreach Project (SWOP) board for his weekly litter-cleaning project.
Jody also wants folks to notice how the Lions used to be primarily men doing community service. "Nowadays at the Lions meetings we have the Lions Pledge, the Lions Prayer, and the men help with the dishes! Today, women are highly valued members and accomplish a lot of service."
Jody has been in the Cook Lions since 2013 and works hard with the Lions kids branch - the LEOs. "During 5K events, the LEOs help pass out water and granola bars. Kids are an untapped source of community service."
Jody reminds everyone to check out the Lions Club Garage Sale on Saturday during Timber Days. The building where the Garage Sale will be held is at 6 First St. SE in Cook.
When you see her, please thank Jody for all of her community service!

City Council passes General Obligation Refunding Bond, saves City $197,181

The Cook City Council met last Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Community Center to meet with Clerk/Treasurer Theresa Martinson along with Jessica Green of Northland Securities. The only topic on the agenda was refinancing the City of Cook's General Obligation Sewer and Water Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2012A on July 8, 2021, and to pay costs associated with the issuance of the bonds.
The bonds will have been restructured to result in relatively level annual savings over the life of the bonds, which is similar to the original structure of the 2012A Bonds.
An interest rate of 1.99 percent will result in the city saving 9.319 percent or a total savings of $197,181. The final maturity of these bonds is Jan. 1, 2038, with an optional call date of Jan. 1, 2029.
The council, with all members present except Jody Bixby, and with Mayor Harold Johnston in attendance, unanimously approved the restructuring.
The short meeting adjourned at 4:12 p.m.


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