For a quarter century, people coast to coast have submitted short essays for a chance to travel to New York Mills to debate a particular philosophical question in what has become known as the Great American Think-Off.

The 2017 question, which will be debated June 10 at the New York Mills school auditorium, is: “Has the 2016 election changed our perception of truth?”

To celebrate the milestone, the New York Mills Arts Retreat and Regional Cultural Center is hosting several weekend events, including a kickoff at the New York Mills Sculpture Park beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, a book launch at the cultural center beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and the debate at 7 p.m. at the school auditorium, with a reception afterward.

Tickets for the debate are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, $5 for students; they’re available online through Brown Paper Tickets.

Mark Brunswick

Grand Marais

North Shore bike trail expected to grow

A North Shore bike trail will grow by a few miles next year thanks to $3.1 million of state bonding money, a measure cheered by trail advocates. The funds, along with $1.7 million in federal dollars, will pay for construction next summer of 3½ miles of trail from Grand Marais south to the Cutface Creek Wayside.

Plans call for eventually building out the entire 89-mile stretch of the Gitchi-Gami Trail from Two Harbors to Grand Marais. So far, 29 miles of trail exist.

The state funds, along with $750,000 in federal money, will also help close a 1.1-mile gap in the trail in Tofte. Construction on the northern half of that gap will begin next summer. The southern half requires more planning.

The bonding bill included about $18 million for trail development statewide.

Matt McKinney


Corps to hold meetings on Mississippi dredging plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding two public meetings on a plan to remove and store more than 10 million cubic yards of dredged material from a stretch of the Mississippi River over the next 40 years.

The dredging is part of a long-term plan to maintain the river’s 9-foot navigation channel in Lower Pool 4, which extends from south of Wabasha to the southern end of Lake Pepin.

The meetings will be held June 6 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Community Hall, S105 N. Main St., Nelson, Wis., and June 15 at 7 p.m. at the Wabasha-Kellogg High School, 2113 Hiawatha Drive E., Wabasha.

The corps has extended the deadline to accept public comments on the plan through June 23. Questions and comments should be directed to Bob Edstrom, corps project manager, at, or the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attention: Project Management, 180 5th St. E., Suite 700, St. Paul, MN, 55101-1678.

Mark Brunswick