Congressman Peterson Headlines Pilot Project Kickoff
It was a welcomed event. The kickoff ceremony for the new pilot project up at the NW angle. About 60 attended the ceremony in which ceremonial working Ipads were presented to resort owners who were part of the initial soft launch of the pilot project. In addition to Congressman Collin Peterson, key decision makers from Customs and Border Protection, staff from Senators Klobuchar and Franken’s office, county leadership, resort owners and guests attended.
Up until this project came about, when someone who had touched land in Canada wanted to enter the U.S. up at the NW Angle, which is a daily occurrence for tourists and residents alike, they had to travel all the way to the nearest OARS (Outlying Area Reporting Station) phone which is at Young’s Bay. For those who were staying at island resorts, this often meant an extra 16 mile round trip journey just to check in.
Now that Lake of the Woods was chosen as a pilot project, those who need to check in with U.S. Customs can now go to any participating resort and check in on an IPad. A traveler simply enters basic info into the IPad and requests a video conference with a Customs officer. The officer will ask a few questions and determine if you are cleared to legally enter the U.S. and send you on you way.
We had the opportunity to check in with the new system at Jerry’s Restaurant adjacent to Young’s Bay Resort and the process, for being new software, went well.
Jerry’s Bar and Restaurant set the tone with a wonderful lunch with a goodwill offering with proceeds going to the Angle Inlet School. Joe Henry, Executive Director of Lake of the Woods Tourism emceed the event and reminded folks about how this new way to check in utilizing technology will avert accidents and inconvenience allowing well meaning travelers to check in right at their resort. “This is a win-win scenario for both tourism and CBP,” explained Henry. “Each organization has an important job to do and this new pilot offers both organizations a nice solution.”
Collin Peterson told stories about the NW Angle that entertained the crowd. The congressman has a long history around Lake of the Woods and understands our area well. He mentioned it isn’t always easy to get things done in government and how this is a great example of working together for success.
County Commissioner Ed Arnesen talked about the area really needing something new and how this will benefit those who come to this area of Lake of the Woods County.
Michelle James, Director of Field Operations from the Seattle Field Office for Customs and Border Protection also discussed how it is time to utilize technologies to overcome issues as faced up at the NW Angle by well meaning travelers wanting to check in to U.S. Customs. She also commented about the great job everyone has done so far in getting the pilot project up and running.
Local CBP officials, including the leader of the U.S. Customs station in Warroad, Jared Olafson, have worked hard, have been great in communications and very reasonable in working through this transition to the new Ipad and software. We appreciate everyone who has been involved and will continue to be involved in this project.
The Ipads are phase one of this pilot project. Phase two will allow travelers to load the software program on their smartphones. Phase three will be replacing the outdated OARS phones located at Jim’s Corner, Young’s Bay and Carlson’s Landing with new Ipad kioks.
After the ceremony, a number of distinguished guests thought they would take the opportunity to take a boat tour and do some fishing amongst the famous islands of Lake of the Woods. The Walleye Capital of the World did not disappoint. Numerous walleyes, saugers and perch were caught in about 90 minutes.
After the fish fry, the group boated to Flag Island Resort for a delicious fish fry. The meal started out with their famous walleye fritters with honey mustard as a dip for appetizer followed by fresh fried walleye, french fries and baked beans. After a quick meal, the group went to their cars or in Collin’s case, his plane and continued to home.
Monday up at the NW Angle was a very special Monday and the efforts of many to pull this off are greatly appreciated!
To learn more about Lake of the Woods, check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism website.
To find a guide, charter boat or lodging, check out our lodging page.