Around Cook County
In August the Cook County Commissioners approved hiring a temporary contract person to fill a vacant position in the Assessor’s Office until a permanent employee could be hired. On Tuesday, November 25, Assessor Betty Schultz brought her recommendation for filling that position back to the board. Schultz asked commissioners for authorization to hire Jen Zender as a property assessor.
Schultz said Zender comes to the position with 15 plus years of real estate experience and has also worked in other office settings. Schultz said Zender is originally from Grand Marais and she is eager to begin work with the county.
Zender would start as a step 1 property assessor at $18 per hour.
This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~ www.cookcountynews-herald.com
Cook County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Treasurer Scott Harrison gave an update on construction at Superior National at Lutsen golf course (SNL) at the November 18 EDA meeting, reporting that Phase 1 is essentially complete, but there are a few things to be dealt with in the spring before work starts on Phase 2. He said it is believed that work on Phase 2 will begin in August. EDA Board Member Howard Hedstrom asked if it would be completed next year. Harrison said no.
Harrison distributed a handout on the source and use of funds for the SNL renovation as of October 31, 2014. He said income for 2014 was down $62,864 from 2013. Harrison said it was a really bad year but said some operational reductions helped “save” the golf course. He said the course made a number of reductions, such as $65,000 in payroll expenses; $24,000 in administration and general; and $13,160 in clubhouse expenses.
Harrison said the golf course was also reimbursed $21,029 from the Poplar River Water District pipeline project; $49,987 from 1 percent funds that were spent in 2012 at the county’s request; and $14,000 for the sale of 14 golf carts.
Harrison said after all that, the golf course had a “positive variance” of $22,152. Harrison said it was a “lousy year” but could have been worse.
As of October 31, 2014, the SNL balance sheet showed a balance of $66,708.74 in checking and $50,017 in savings. The balance sheet shows total fixed assets, consisting of golf course land, buildings and equipment, at $3,233,574.71.
Harrison reminded the board that SNL’s golf pro Greg Leland had submitted his resignation notice several months ago. Leland recommended hiring Logan Dahlke who had been hired as the assistant golf pro for the 2014 season.
Are our local schools becoming more centralized due to state and federal mandates? Do standardized tests help or hinder teachers and their students? What does creating the world’s best workforce really mean?
Join WTIP’s Jay Andersen on December 4 when we explore the big picture of education as well as how two of our schools apply all those rules and policies. ISD166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz and Great Expectations Charter School Administrator Peter James talk about responding to the challenges of local education.
You can join in the conversation by calling 387-1070 or sending an email to wtip@ boreal.org before or during the broadcast. They’re your kids, what do you want their education to be?
First Thursday Community Conversation – “Flexibility, Accountability and Creativity in Local Education.” 7 p.m. December 4. Only on WTIP North Shore Community Radio.
The November meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) ended with some lively debate over what the EDA should request as its levy for 2015.
EDA Board Member and County Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said the current levy amount proposed for the EDA is $162,320. Doo-Kirk said Auditor Braidy Powers asked her if that was the EDA’s final levy request.
Howard Hedstrom asked his EDA board colleagues, “Are we happy with that?”
EDA Chair Mark Sandbo emphatically said, “I’m not! We don’t get the full amount we are authorized to levy for. We have to work like dogs to get the EDA budget to balance.”
Doo-Kirk asked Sandbo if he wanted to ask for the full amount for which the EDA could levy, which is approximately $386,000 and, she said, which the county board would surely deny. Sandbo said no, but stressed that the EDA needs more. Doo-Kirk asked for suggestions.
Sandbo said the EDA needed to ask for enough to hire a director. EDA Treasurer Scott Harrison questioned whether that was necessary. He said the EDA has worked hard to obtain some “liquidity.” He said the EDA should invest in programming, to which Sandbo declared, “We don’t have a director! We can’t run this as a board. That doesn’t work.”
Sandbo noted that the EDA is still working to come to an agreement with KGM Contractors on environmental concerns raised during construction of Cedar Grove Business Park in 2006. He said that would likely have been resolved if the EDA had a director.
Harrison replied, “There are some who believe we have those problems because of the director we had.”
In August 2014 the Cook County Commissioners approved a request from the County Highway Department to construct an access road from a gravel pit near the airport to the Cook County Airport to be built and used by Northland Constructors during the runway extension project.
At that time, the highway department recommended approval with the condition that Northland Constructors, which was the successful bidder for the project, obtain all necessary permits. Highway Engineer David Betts and Assistant County Engineer Sam Muntean recommended approval because it would benefit the airport because trucks would not have to drive across the existing runway.
However, Airport Manger Rod Roy appeared before commissioners on Tuesday, November 25 to let them know the project would have to be rebid because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) had denied a permit necessary to construct the temporary road to the airport.
In a letter to the county, Darren Christopher of RS&H, the aviation firm working with Cook County on the runway extension, explained that the Corps of Engineers would not grant a permit to fill 750 square feet of wetland if there is an alternative haul route that can be used. Christopher said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) had also commented on the potential clearing of 0.60 acres. Because Cook County is a critical habitat for the Canadian lynx and the brown long-eared bat, USFWS indicated it would not “provide concurrence” for the clearing because an alternate route is available and should be utilized.
Roy said Northland Contractor’s bid of $1,468,200 was contingent on being able to use the haul road directly from the pit to the airport. Because the project had changed, the FAA requested that the project be rebid.
This year's Northwoods Fiber Guild Holiday Sale is Saturday, December 6th. WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Max Linehan and and Nina Simonowicz of the Guild on North Shore Morning.
Northwoods Fiber Guild Holiday Sale & Open House
Saturday, December 6, 2014 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Grand Marais Art Colony
120 3rd Ave. W.
Grand Marais, MN 55604