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News and other information from Cook County

Deadline for comments on MPCA wild rice rules is Dec. 18

Wed, 12/16/2015 - 11:29am

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is considering making some changes to its rules governing wild rice waters, and is seeking public comment on those proposals.

The first change would be in its calculation used to determine what is a safe limit for sulfate in a specific body of water.

Secondly, MPCA is seeking to establish criteria used to determine which surface waters will be designated as wild rice sites, and third, MPCA will provide a list of wild rice waters where the sulfate standard will be applied.

From 2011 to 2013, MPCA monitored 112 Minnesota lakes, wetlands, streams, and rivers those results demonstrated that where there was a high concentration of sulfide in sediment there was less wild rice. Sulfide does not contaminate rice that is gathered for food, but does limit the plant’s ability to grow and produce a harvest.

According to its report, “MPCA has determined that sulfate is not directly toxic to wild rice, but sulfate in surface water can be converted into potentially toxic levels in sulfide in the sediment in which wild rice is rooted.”

To calculate what a level is in a given body of water, MPCA will measure sulfate levels in water based on concentrations of sulfide in sediment, sediment iron, and sediment organic compound.

A second criteria will establish a minimum threshold for what constitutes a wild rice body of water. MPCA is proposing to use a minimum stem count for lakes and wetlands of 8,000 stems per water body, and 800 stems per mile for rivers and streams.

The third element seeks to establish a new wild rice class that shows how water will be defined as “wild rice waters,” and where the equation sulfate standard will apply. 

Schools offer holiday programs

Tue, 12/15/2015 - 3:47pm

 If you are looking for something to get you in the Christmas spirit, consider attending a winter program at a local school. Today, December 15 at 7 p.m., the Cook County School 6-12th grade Band will be performing in concert in the high school gym. There will be a Holiday CD and bake sale as well as a gift card raffle. Admission is $2, donations accepted.

On Wednesday, December 16, Cook County Schools is hosting the kindergarten through third grade winter program at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

Also on Wednesday, December 16, the Birch Grove Community School is sharing an all-school performance of “Santa & Elfis.” There will be shows at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Cookies and refreshments will be available for the available for the evening performance.

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This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com

Arrowhead Transit updates riders on dial-a-ride and holiday hours

Tue, 12/15/2015 - 3:32pm

The Arrowhead Transit hours of operation for the Grand Marais telephone dispatcher (and the dial-a-ride) are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Riders on Arrowhead Transit are encouraged to schedule their rides in advance – when you know when you will need a ride, call and make your reservation at (800) 862-0175, option 8. 

Also note that the Arrowhead Transit bus to Duluth for the fourth Thursday of the month will not be running on Dec. 24 as Christmas Eve and Christmas are holidays for the bus drivers.

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This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com

Birch Grove and Bluefin Grille host Senior Lunch Dec. 16

Mon, 12/14/2015 - 12:34pm

The Birch Grove Community Center Senior Christmas lunch will be held on Dec 16, 2015 at noon at Bluefin Grille. Birch Grove Community Center program manager Brenda Melin expressed appreciation to Bluefin Grille, “which is so gracious and kind in assisting us with this event.”

Attendees are asked to call 218-663-7977 or to stop in at Birch Grove Community Center to make a reservation for Christmas lunch.

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This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com

School District 166 looks at budget reductions

Mon, 12/14/2015 - 12:33pm

A December 3, 2015 special meeting of the Cook County Schools/ISD 166 school board focused primarily on the administrative structure of the school, but the school board also discussed possible reductions that could be made to rebuild the school’s fund balance to be used for unanticipated expenses. Regarding the administrative restructuring, Board Member Terry Collins said that a goal to keep in mind would be to decrease administrative costs by at least $100,000. Savings must be found in light of the failure to pass the ISD 166 levy increase referendum.

Other larger items that were talked about to find savings were:

* Discontinuing funding the Arrowhead Center for the Arts (ACA) and eliminating the ACA manager. A savings of $75,000 and $19,800 per year.

* Reducing capital expenditures to necessary maintenance only. $100,000 per year.

* Decreasing custodial staff. $48,000 per year.

* Eliminating health and physical education for grades nine through 12. $105,000 per year.

* Moving grades two and five to one section each. $58,000 and $50,000 per year.

* Suspending athletics. $150,000 less $40,000 in annual revenues.

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This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com

Snow on the way, and here to stay

Mon, 12/14/2015 - 11:59am
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Snow is back in the forecast, and this time it’s going to stick around. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson about snow before Christmas.

Listen: