Around Cook County
At the September meeting of the Tofte Town Board, supervisors set aside October 9 as Louise Trachta Day in Tofte. Trachta, in her last month as Tofte’s Search & Rescue volunteer leader, said she was honored to serve in the department for 15 years.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the organization and I wish them well. I’ve worked hard to make things go smoothly and I will work with my replacements to help them,” Trachta said.
Fire Chief Rich Nelson said, “I want to thank Louise for all of her help. When we were down to three First Responders and five firefighters she was one of the first to step up. She did anything asked of her. We are going to really miss her.”
Schroeder Fire Chief Phil Bonin and Kim Jahnke will team up to replace Trachta. “I think Phil’s just the guy I would have picked. He’s very knowledgeable. Kim came along and she has a lot of fire and desire in her. She wants to learn and is compassionate towards people. You’ll do fine, both of you,” Louise said.
Rose Thoreson has also taken over some of the paper work that Trachta has been doing in a job that gets busier and busier each year.
Trachta said her department received 32 calls from January 1 to September 4. Her search and rescue squad has now grown to 12 people, she said. “I’m really proud of all of our responders for their dedication and willingness to help out.”
Although there was a great deal of discussion the county board ultimately approved an interim use permit to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle (RV) for property owners Andrew Herman and Jane Powers on Bigsby Lake in Lutsen. The couple purchased their 24.33-acre property with approximately 50 feet of shoreline in 1999 and were granted a conditional use permit allowing the short-term use of a recreational vehicle in 2002. That permit expired in 2007 and the RV was on the property unpermitted until 2011 when a 3-year interim use permit was approved by the board of commissioners. At that time, in response to septic concerns, the applicants installed a holding tank on the parcel.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Bill Lane said that permit expired in May 2014, which is why the matter was back before the commissioners. Eleven notices were sent out to adjacent property owners. One reply was received and that was in favor of granting Herman and Powers another interim use permit. In the memo listing considerations for the Planning Commission, Lane wrote, “In the case of the Herman/Powers property, any impact on shared resources and adjoining properties is essentially non-existent. The property is well-maintained, a holding tank is in place, and the landscape is heavily vegetated with old, mixed-type forests and sight lines are extremely limited.”
On September 10, 2014, the planning commission—noting that it was unclear that there is a county requirement of only two years for an interim use permit and that the property was very remote and well-maintained—granted the permit for a period of five years.
The county board followed suit, but Commissioner Sue Hakes stressed that she did so reluctantly. She noted that allowing people the ability to live in an RV instead of building a home could erode the county’s tax base. “We need a plan, a process for RV use,” said Hakes.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and there will be a candlelight vigil this Thursday, October 9. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning spoke with Jodi Yuhassey of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais on North Shore Morning.
The Vigil will be held Thursday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Harbor Park. For more information, contact the Violence Prevention Center at 387-1262.
School District 166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz announced that local business owner and parent Chris Goettl has announced his interest in running as a write-in candidate for the school board in School District 166 District 3. The district consists of the western part of Grand Marais to the Pike Lake and Cascade area. No candidates had filed to run for the position which is up for election in November. The spot is currently held by Ann Sullivan who will not be seeking re-election due to residency requirements. Sullivan was appointed to replace Mary Sanders who retired from the board last year.
This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald
At the Tuesday, September 23 county board meeting, commissioners moved to accept a grant of $30,000 from the State of Minnesota to support the county’s crime victim witness coordinator position. That position has been vacant since Jeanne Monson was moved from that job to the position of assistant county attorney in October 2013.
After acceptance of the grant, acting County Attorney Molly Hicken requested authorization to hire Carla Hill to for 35 hours per week at $19.86 an hour. Hill would also serve as a paralegal for the county attorney’s office. Hicken said Hill’s extensive education as well as career experience make her qualified for the job. Hill’s starting date would be December 1, 2014.
Commissioner Garry Gamble noted that with 35 hours per week, the county was looking at approximately $40,000 for the position in the 2015 budget. He asked where the money over the grant of $30,000 would come from. Auditor Braidy Powers said the grant is lower than it has been in previous years.
Hicken said Monson had been paid at a higher rate, but acknowledged that her department may have to make up the difference in funding somewhere. Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk noted that the pay for the new hire will still be less than what was being paid.
The board voted unanimously to extend an employment offer to Carla Hill.
This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald
At the urging of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce, Grand Marais city councilors directed City Administrator Mike Roth to find out what it would cost to convert unused space in City Hall into more public restroom facilities at their meeting Sept. 24.
The discussion was prompted by a letter written to council by Chamber Director Jim Boyd after the Chamber’s board passed a motion at its September meeting to support “construction and maintenance of more public bathrooms in Grand Marais.”
The topic has been an ongoing issue over the years, particularly during events such as the North Shore Dragon Boat Festival and Fisherman’s Picnic.
Councilor Bill Lenz noted that the city had an opportunity to consider this now that the large section of City Hall now occupied by the Grand Marais Visitor’s Bureau will be vacated soon.
Mayor Larry Carlson said the creation of more public restrooms was on the city’s list of priorities, and agreed with Lenz that regardless of whether the city has the funds to pursue the project now, council can at least start the process by getting a quote and finding out what the cost is likely to be.
Concerns were raised about the expense of building bathrooms and City Administrator Mike Roth also said that coming up with an accurate estimate may itself be an expense.
Linda Kratt of the Cook County Visitors Bureau, whose agency is in the process of relocating into a renovated building (the former Gunflint Realty), encouraged the council to seek a quote on the work, noting that she paid only $500 for an estimate on her project. She said the bid was “spot-on.”
Kratt also spoke of the need for public restrooms, saying the waiting lines at existing stalls at City Hall on days such as July 4 are an “embarrassment” to the city. “We definitely need to do something,” she said.