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The Long Way Home

I’m not a fan of anniversary celebrations, although the surprise celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary in 1998 was pretty special. So it is with sincere humility that I acknowledge the one year anniversary of The Long Way Home.

Last January I was honored to become a contributor to The Northshore Journal. It’s been fun writing stories about the people of Cook County and their activities and businesses.

Before we got too far into our relationship, I asked Christine, the esteemed publisher of this community newspaper, if she would allow me to contribute a weekly column called The Long Way Home.

I promised to put in some of the shorter stories about Cook County along with a cranky rant or two about the weather, fishing, spouses, local politics, or…

To her credit, she replied, “Bring it on.” She has been a loyal and encouraging supporter of my feeble efforts, despite some of the criticism my jottings inspired. One reader—a now former reader—sent her criticism last summer, both to Christine and me.

“I am appalled weekly at your lack of education, sense of entitlement and grand standing in print. You really are a textbook narcissist.

“You seem to imagine all of us are interested in your drivel about your own personal business.

“Many of us are not. You’re just not worldly or important enough to have entire columns in this tiny paper.”

Since there is some truth in this critique, I offered my resignation to Christine. Which she promptly refused. The larger volume of positive feedback from happier folks chalks up this disgruntled person as an anomaly.

So I’ve gone merrily on my way, weekly displaying my lack of education and grandstanding for the readers of this fine and not so-tiny publication. It reaches every mailbox for free in Lake and Cook Counties after all and is free online. Two things that other newspapers can’t claim.

Every couple of weeks I get an email or two about a column I’ve written from people who appreciated my drivel. I’ll sometimes run into a person in town who compliments me on the quality of the newspaper. The Northshore Journal is making a difference on the shore.

It’s been a true privilege having this forum each week. Your feedback, positive, negative, or neutral is appreciated. And if you have ideas for stories the paper should cover or topics you’d enjoy seeing me rant about, drop me an email.

Earlier this week the Cook County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and its offspring the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) announced they are discussing a merger of the two organizations.

The EDA was created in 1988 and it was instrumental in the formation of the HRA, created a bit more than a year ago.

The current Executive Director of the EDA is leaving the position which seems like a good opportunity to consolidate the leadership of the two organizations under one executive. The directors of each organization, appointed by the county board, have each met separately and approved exploring the merger. The EDA and HRA board members will meet jointly on Thursday, February 2 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Grand Marais City Council chambers.

Legal counsel for the two may find a compelling reason or three to avoid this merger. As a business person, it just makes sense to consolidate the leadership of two or more organizations that overlap in function and objectives. It is more cost effective and more accountable.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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