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Grand Marais City Council sets board appointments

Jan 12, 2018 06:45AM ● Published by Editor

By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - Friday, December 12, 2018

As usual for the first meeting of the year, Grand Marais city councilors spent most of their time on Wednesday, Jan. 10 deciding who would serve on the various boards and commissions that meet periodically and bring recommendations to council.

The first order of business, though, was picking up assignments that will be left open by councilor Dave Mills.

Mills and his family are moving outside of the city limits at the end of this month, and he will no longer be eligible to serve on the city council. Until a new councilor can be found to replace him, Mills’ vacancy will open spots on a variety of boards and committees he served on that temporarily must be filled.

Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith-DeCoux agreed to take Mills’ spot on the Public Utilities Board (which hears appeals of the PUC). Although the PUB rarely meets, it needs a city councilor liaison to conduct business when it does meet.

Councilor Tracy Benson agreed to take Mills’ spot on the Grand Marais Recreation Park Board, “On a temporary basis,” she said.

Arrowsmith- DeCoux also volunteered to fill Mills’ shoes on the Northland Food Project Board and the YMCA board.

With one opening on the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission (PUC) George Wilkes, who is a current member of the PUC, agreed to serve another three-year term.

Library board member Helen Muth, said Arrowsmith-DeCoux, also agreed to another term to fill the one opening on the library board. 

There is still an opening on the planning commission, and Arrowsmith–DeCoux said he was talking to some possible candidates. He also noted that quite a few positions were going to be opening in the next couple of years on a lot of boards and committees so there would need to be volunteers to step in and fill those roles.

Councilor Mills suggested the city use Facebook to try to recruit people when vacancies were going to occur. “It’s a great way to reach people,” he said.

Councilor Tim Kennedy said he appreciated and wished to thank all of the people who serve on the various boards on behalf of the city.

The Cook County News- Herald was designated the official newspaper, and all of the banking institutions in town were once again named depository of funds. Council adopted the 2018 IRS mileage rate of 54.5 cents per mile for the coming year, which is one cent higher than last year.

Arrowsmith-DeCoux asked city administrator Mike Roth if the city was required to pay the IRS mileage rate. Roth answered that the city could pay whatever it wanted to pay, but if it paid more than the IRS rate that extra money would be considered income and be taxable.

Finally, Kennedy was voted acting mayor, and as such will preside over council meetings and fulfill other duties as needed in the absence of the mayor. When asked how many times he had been selected acting mayor, Kennedy responded, “I think twelve. It’s a good gig.” 

In other city business:

. Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Jennifer Schulz, who lives in an owner occupied duplex in a zoned resort/commercial neighborhood. Schulz wants to rent out one unit for short-term (less than 30 days) stays. Councilor Mills said, “Let the record show a single tear drops from my eye because we are losing another single-family residence.” Schulz reminded him that she was a permanent resident living in the other unit. 

. In council reports Benson said it might be time to consider street assignments (even-odd days) for cars parked along the streets. She said it was hard for plows to do their jobs and dangerous for drivers coming down a slippery road that was narrowed because of cars parked on either side of the street. 

. Benson said she had been hearing “rumblings” about the work that will be done through town on Highway 61 in the summer of 2019. She suggested holding a meeting or getting information out to the public about the changes in the plan since it was first announced a year ago. She also said people didn’t seem to realize it was a state plan on a state highway with some suggested improvements offered by the city, and she added, the city should have done more throughout the process to stay more involved with the people and businesses that will be most affected by the work. 

Councilor Kennedy said until the plan is final it might not be a good idea to release it at this time. “What is released today might not be the same tomorrow,” he said, adding it certainly would have been helpful to stay in better contact with those that will be impacted the most by the work and changes to Highway 61. 

. Roth said he greatly appreciated the help the city received from Arrowhead Electric during the recent power outage. He praised Valerie Marasco, Cook County director of Emergency Management and Public Information, for her work in telling the community through Boreal what was going on through the whole process of finding the break and repairing the power line. 

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here

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