Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Final Polymet environmental impact study released

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 2:06pm

The final environmental review for Minnesota’s proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine says wastewater from the project would have to be treated indefinitely to prevent pollution, the Associated Press reports.

The 3,500-page document released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also says developers would have to put up money to make sure that all cleanup costs are covered after the mine closes. The exact amount and form of those financial assurances would be determined during any the permitting process.


In what is perhaps most noteworthy to residents in Cook County and the surrounding region, the document also says mine runoff would not reach the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Voyageurs National Park.


The release of the report by the DNR starts a 30-day public comment period. The agency will determine early next year whether the review is adequate. Then the company can start applying for permits.


PolyMet proposes to develop an open-pit mine and processing facilities for the extraction of copper, nickel and platinum elements, with an estimated 20-year lifespan for mine operations.


“The co-lead agencies have brought the highest level of rigor and objectivity to the NorthMet environmental review,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Our responsibility is to conduct a neutral evaluation based on information from the company, our own analysis, and the comments we receive. The process has been thoughtful, independent and thorough.”

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American Legion Auxiliary collecting winter clothing for homeless veterans

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:41am

Between now and Veterans Day, the American Legion Post 413 Auxiliary is once again collecting warm clothing for Help-A-Vet, a Minneapolis group formed to deal with the growing number of homeless veterans in the Twin Cities.

Auxiliary member Nancy Backlund, who learned that the shelter system in the Twin Cities is chronically short of beds and that many veterans end up sleeping outside, no matter how cold the weather, organized the inaugural clothing. The Auxiliary, whose mission is to serve our nation’s veterans wanted to do something to help.

Last year’s collection was very successful and the Auxiliary hopes to once again gather as much warm clothing and other supplies as possible.

The Help-A-Vet program began with donations of quilts to homeless veterans, but perhaps more important are donations of warm clothing and cold-weather gear. Help-A-Vet is seeking items such as winter boots and coats, socks, long johns, hooded sweatshirts, new men’s underwear, backpacks, travel-sized toiletries, backpacks and sleeping bags.

If you would like to help Post 413 Legion Auxiliary collect these necessary warm weather items, simply bring them to the American Legion lounge in Grand Marais. If you would like more information, please contact Nancy Backlund at (218) 387-1798.

If you would like to learn more about Help-A-Vet, visit

Hovland community turns out with concerns about proposed wayside rest

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 11:40am

About 50 people gathered at the Hovland Town Hall on Wednesday, October 28 to learn more about a proposal to develop a Highway 61 wayside rest near the historic Chicago Bay dock. The meeting lasted over two hours and gave Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) planners plenty to ponder.

Andy Hubley of ARDC said the project is being spearheaded by the North Shore Scenic Drive Council (NSSDC), which has received federal funding for wayside rests. Hubley said that doesn’t mean the council wants to construct a large rest area in Hovland like the ones at Beaver Bay or Tettegouche State Park. Hubley said after the meeting the planners would consider comments, make changes based on those comments and would then make a recommendation to the NSSDC. “They will decide whether or not to pursue the project,” said Hubley.

Hubley introduced Carlos “C.J.” Fernandez, the landscape architect who has been working on the plans for improvements at the Hovland dock area. Fernandez reiterated that the decision to proceed would be made by the NSSDC. He noted that it would take a long time for any project to be funded, and once funding is obtained, more public input is sought. Hubley added that because the county, not the NSSDC, owns the property, it would have the final say in any plan.

Fernandez shared pictures of two wayside rest areas that he had been involved with, the Father Baraga Cross park in Schroeder and the Tofte Town Park. He said there were similarities between those places—they too were stops on the steamship route along the North Shore. However, he said, nowhere else on the North Shore is there a dock of that era still above water. That is what makes the Hovland project so unique, said Fernandez.

Sen. Franken to introduce "stalking app" bill

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 8:30am

If you think you’re being stalked, followed or otherwise having your privacy intruded upon, you’re not paranoid -- you could be right. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Al Franken about “stalking apps.”


Reaction: Board chair and superintendent assess levy referendum failure

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:57am

Cook County voters on Tuesday rejected the ISD166 Operating Levy Referendum by 101 votes. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with board chair Jeanne Anderson and Superintendent Beth Schwarz about what comes next.


Arts and culture have strong economic impact on county

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 9:47am

It’s long been known that the arts and culture are important to Cook County. They enhance the quality of life, bring diverse communities together, and make the area a magnet for jobs and businesses. A new study was released yesterday to substantiate that claim.

The report issued by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Cook County Chamber of Commerce, Grand Marais Art Colony, North House Folk School, Sivertson Gallery and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts that shows that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a substantial industry in Cook County, generating over $4.6 million in total economic impact annually.

As the most comprehensive report ever done of the creative sector, Creative Minnesota is a new effort to fill the gaps in available information about Minnesota’s cultural field and to improve understanding of its importance to quality of life and economy.

Creative Minnesota: The Impact and Health of the Nonprofit Arts and Culture Sector found that 17 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Cook County support the equivalent of 127 full time jobs in the city, and that 78,000 people attend nonprofit arts and cultural events annually.

Although Cook County ranked 16th of the 17 local areas studied in size of population, the county ranked 7th in overall economic impact. Cook County ranked 3rd among the cities studied in this report, behind only Minneapolis and St. Paul, in per capita economic impact from the arts and culture, with a whopping $889 for every one of the county’s 5,176 residents.

Sheila Smith, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, said “the results for Cook County were a real eye-opener. I knew the arts were important to the area but the arts and culture footprint here is vastly out of proportion to the population. The arts are a core part of the county’s economy.”