Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

County considers restructuring personnel director/board secretary postition

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 9:13am

On March 18, the board had a work session to discuss the possibility of restructuring the personnel director/board secretary position when Janet Simonen retires in August.  They considered putting some of her duties into someone else’s job description and hiring a county coordinator or a county administrator in her place. 
A county coordinator or administrator could be a point person for information, oversee the county budget, implement board actions, and provide expertise to the board.  A county administrator would have authority over the other department heads, whereas a county coordinator would not.
The board will be inviting a representative of the Association of Minnesota Counties and a couple of county administrators to talk to them about how a county administrator could be useful.   They asked several department heads what they knew about these positions in other counties.
“I’ve heard some very positive things, and I’ve heard some not so positive things,” said Public Health & Human Services Director Sue Futterer.   “The right person can certainly make a difference.”
“The right person is the bottom line,” said Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson.
Information Systems Director Danna MacKenzie said having a decision-maker and point person could help the county get things done more efficiently and cost-effectively.  “We have an opportunity to change the way we do business to make it work better,” she said.

Co-op takes part in statewide campaign for food shelves

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 9:04am

The Cook County Whole Foods Co-op has joined a statewide campaign to help alleviate hunger.
In past years, Twin Cities area food co-ops have participated in the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign, a program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches that provides funds, food and educational materials to over 300 food shelves across the state.  Last year the collective members, shoppers and staff gave over $91,000/pounds of food to food shelves in our neighborhoods—the third-most successful corporate campaign in the state.
This year’s collaborative efforts have expanded to include 15 food co-ops throughout Minnesota, not just in the Twin Cities.  The Cook County Whole Foods Co-op in Grand Marais is among them.
This means that co-ops across the state will be running similar campaigns for their communities, and the food drive will make an even bigger impact on Minnesotans.
When we’re working together, all it takes is “rounding up” your grocery bill or adding a few dollars onto your total to make a real difference. Did you know that one dollar can feed a person for a day? Twenty dollars can feed a family of four for five days.  Just imagine the impact statewide when we all give a few dollars to those who are hungry.
Consider dropping off non-perishable food items or a monetary food shelf donation at the co-op in March.

No new wolves on Isle Royale

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 7:32am
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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Scientists say the gray wolves in Michigan's Isle Royale National Park are in growing danger of extinction and may have stopped reproducing.

A report given Monday to The Associated Press says scientists with Michigan Technological University saw no evidence that pups were born in the past year during their recent winter trip to the park. It's believed to be the first time since scientists began monitoring the wolves' reproduction in 1971 that no offspring were born.

The report also says only eight wolves remain on the island chain in Lake Superior. Just five years ago, there were 24. The report will be released publicly today.

Grand Marais gets new fire tender

Mon, 03/25/2013 - 10:14am

Grand Marais Fire Chief Ben Silence and lead firefighter Aaron Mielke visited city councilors at their March 13 meeting, and brought with them the fire department’s newest acquisition – a 2012 tender. A FEMA grant was used to pay 90 percent of the cost of the approximately $210,000 vehicle. The truck was manufactured by Stainless & Repair Inc. of Marshfield, Wis., holds 2,000 gallons of water and is equipped with a 750 gallon-per-minute pump. The tender replaces a 1984 converted milk truck, which was traded in.
Chief Silence lauded Mielke’s dedication and perseverance for completing the many grant forms, putting together the specs and attending meetings that led to the city’s successful grant application. “I give him much credit for his time and effort,” said Silence. “It was an excellent job.”
The tender joins a fleet that also includes a 2007 pumper, a 1978 50-foot ladder truck, a 1994 Ford support truck and a First Responders vehicle. The department, which includes firefighters and First Responders, is comprised of 22 members.

Computer classes at the Senior Center

Mon, 03/25/2013 - 10:14am

A free Basic Computer Class is being offered at the Cook County Senior Center in Grand Marais on Wednesday, March 27 from 12:30 - 3 p.m. If you don’t know anything about computers or are intimidated by them, this is the class for you. If you need some refreshing on using a computer, this class is for you. Pre-registration is requested and donations for the class are accepted.
There is high-speed internet, as well as computers for you to us at the Senior Center. Or if you prefer, you are welcome to bring your own laptop or tablet computer.
The Senior Center will also help provide additional training for folks with future questions.
For more information, stop in or call the Senior Center at 387-2660.

Starting to look a lot like Spring

Mon, 03/25/2013 - 10:02am

Spring maybe delayed on the East coast, but it’s coming along nicely here on the North Shore. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist Mike Stewart about warming weather.

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Incredible Exchange opportunities for youths now

Sun, 03/24/2013 - 11:45am

Applications will be accepted from March 18 through April 18
for the Incredible Exchange summer sessions.
The goals of these programs are to promote youth volunteerism in our
community and increase the potential to create a positive relationship
between youth and adults. In exchange for volunteering, youth earn
credit to participate in a recreational or cultural activity of their
choice, promoting constructive use of free time.
Youth learn new skills and practice being responsible while having
fun. The Incredible Exchange is for ages 11-14, the Incredible
Internship is for ages 15-18. Contact Community Education at (218)
387-2000 for more details.
These programs are sponsored by the Cook County commissioners,
Community Education, Cook County Extension and Kids Plus.
 

Planning for 4th of July celebration starts now

Sun, 03/24/2013 - 11:40am

All three West End townships—Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder—met
on Tuesday, March 12 and the subject of fireworks at the West End
Fourth of July celebration met with differing levels of support.
In Lutsen, meeting moderator Henry Welch called attention to a letter
from the Town of Tofte requesting a $1,500 donation to support the
West End July 4th celebration held at the Tofte Town Park. The request
is an increase from the 2012 donation of $1,000 and the Tofte letter
explained that it sought an increase to help cover the cost of
additional music for the celebration.
Paul Goettl asked if there was a breakdown of how much goes toward the
fireworks and how much goes to the band. “Are we paying the whole
thing?” he asked.
Diane Blanchette and Patty Nordahl, who were involved with planning
the celebration in their roles at Birch Grove, said businesses donate
to the Birch Grove Foundation and the foundation contributes as well.
Blanchette said she was not certain, but she believed the band cost
about $3,000 last year. The fireworks were quite a bit more,
Blanchette said.
Goettl said it would have been nice if someone from Tofte had given
the town more information. He moved to table the decision on the
donation request until the township’s continuation of its annual
meeting in August.
The motion passed by the Lutsen citizens present with two nay votes
At the Schroeder annual meeting, citizens were concerned that if all
donation requests were granted the township would be over budget. A
motion was debated, then passed to grant the request for a donation to
fireworks, but for $1,000, not $1,500.
In Tofte there was no debate over the amount the township will

Weekend News Roundup for March 23

Sat, 03/23/2013 - 9:32am

Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. Shipping season started this week, WTIP had some big winners in Associated Press competition, also we’re a healthy county with broadband coming up by the end of summer…all in this week’s news.

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Summer conservation apprentice opportunity at Cook County

Fri, 03/22/2013 - 7:32pm

A summer apprenticeship position for a young adult, age 18-25, is 
available at the Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District 
(SWCD) through Conservation Corps Minnesota. Apprentices spend their 
summer working alongside natural resource professionals. The goal is 
to train and mentor future conservation professionals by providing 
apprenticeship service opportunities to Soil and Water Conservation 
Districts.
Apprentices will serve as AmeriCorps members and will receive a 
monthly living stipend and an education award of $1,468 to use towards 
qualifying education and student loan expenses. The member will serve 
from May 20 through August 23.
The SWCD has been chosen as one of several placement sites throughout 
the state. The program is funded through the MN Environment and 
Natural Resource Trust Fund and LCCMR.
Applications are required and available online at www.conservationcorps.org/apply
. The application deadline is March 29, 2013. For more information, 
please contact the SWCD at (218) 387-3649 or Conservation Corps 
Minnesota at (651) 209-9900.
 

Community health coverage program focus of March 26 Business Luncheon

Fri, 03/22/2013 - 7:30pm

Two representatives from HealthShare, a Duluth-based 
“community health coverage program,” will explain what HealthShare 
offers Cook County's small businesses and their employees at Higher
Education's March Business Networking Luncheon. The luncheon will 
begin at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 27, at Higher Ed's North Shore 
Campus. The program will conclude by 1 p.m. Cost is $15.
HealthShare executive director Jenny Peterson and business services 
representative Wyn Mathews will explain how the program works and how 
it collaborates with health care organizations and the communities it 
serves. Several Cook County employers already have signed on with 
HealthShare. HealthShare is unique in Minnesota and one of only a 
handful of similar organizations nationwide. It  provides coverage to 
the uninsured – including many part-time employees – who work for 
small businesses that cannot afford health benefits.
HealthShare costs employers and employees about $60 each per month, 
with the remainder financed by Generations Health Care Initiatives, a 
foundation in Duluth; St. Luke's; Essentia Health; Northland 
Foundation; Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation; and others. In past years, 
the program has received significant federal and state grants to 
sustain the program. A key feature of HealthShare is its strong 
emphasis on behavior change to promote health and wellness.
To register for the program (formerly known as the Women’s Business 
Networking Luncheon), call (218) 387-3411 or email jboyd@northshorecampus.org
  by noon on March 25.
 

Hospital faces sequestration and insurance cuts

Fri, 03/22/2013 - 9:17am

The Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center is facing a couple of $200,000 income reductions. One from the federal government and one from an insurance provider. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with hospital administrator Kimber Wraalstad in this extended interview.

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Dan and Lee Ross works on display at the Art Colony March 22-April 7

Thu, 03/21/2013 - 9:43am

Local artists Dan and Lee Ross, nationally recognized stone and clay sculptors, spent two weeks in January at the Grand Marais Art Colony exploring an unfamiliar media – printmaking. This opportunity led the Rosses in new directions, challenging them to redefine their artistic language through ink, paper and the printing press.
The result is a collection of original prints entitled “Entry Points” which will be on display at the Art Colony from March 22-April 7 in the Founder’s Hall. The public is invited to attend the Opening Reception and Artist Lecture at 5 p.m. Friday, March 22. The artists will also be available on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to speak with exhibit visitors.
Dan and Lee's paths crossed in 1972 as students at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Subsequently a collaboration began that continues to this day. They work side by side from initial design to the finished piece. Their work ranges from small hand-held clay pieces to large scale commissions carved out of granite. Moving to Hovland in 1991 had a dramatic impact on their work. New forms and shapes evolved after they observed how tumultuous storms and shifting ice sheets rearrange their boulder strewn shoreline.
This is the second Artist-in-Residence at the Grand Marais Art Colony. In the 2012 inaugural residence, visual artist Hazel Belvo spent two weeks developing a large scale body of paintings which she shared with the community through open studios and public lectures. For generations, the Art Colony has been a nurturing sanctuary for the creative spirit - welcoming artists of all skill levels and backgrounds into the artistic community of the North Shore. The Artist-in-Residence program provides established artist(s) with access to our studio spaces to expand and explore their creativity. For more information see www.grandmaraisartcolony.org or call (218) 387-2737.

Debate over donations at Schroeder annual meeting

Thu, 03/21/2013 - 9:39am

A rather heated discussion ensued at the Schroeder Township annual meeting on Tuesday, March 12, when donation requests totaling $21,000 came up. It was noted that could push the projected 2013 budget almost $4,000 higher then revenues, which concerned some citizens.
Donations requested were: Schroeder Area Historical Society asked for $10,000, Birch Grove Foundation requested $3,500, Birch Grove Community School $5,000, Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center $1,000 and the Town of Tofte asked for $1,500 for the July 4th fireworks and music.
After much discussion, a motion was made to not fund the $1,000 request to Sugarloaf and to donate $1,000 (not $1,500) to Tofte for fireworks and then to reduce all the other requests by 10 percent. This passed with a majority of support by the voters and the budget requests granted were $17,650 instead of $21,000.

Cook is healthiest NE county

Thu, 03/21/2013 - 4:53am

Northeastern Minnesota’s most-rural county is also the region’s healthiest.

The Duluth News Tribune reports Cook County ranks among the top 30 in the state in the two major areas evaluated in the fourth annual County Health Rankings, released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Out of 87 counties, Cook County ranked 29th in “health outcomes” — up from 42nd last year. The health outcomes category considers premature deaths, low birth weight and similar data.

Cook County ranked 23rd in “health factors,” which includes a wide array of measures ranging from adult obesity to sexually transmitted infections to the violent crime rate.

St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties have ranked relatively low in all four years of the County Health rankings.

Although Cook County falls well below some of the counties in the suburban Twin Cities and most of those in southeastern Minnesota, it stands out in the region. St. Louis County ranked 72nd in health outcomes and 59th in health factors; Lake County ranked 83rd in health outcomes but 28th in health factors; and Carlton County ranked 81st in health outcomes and 36th in health factors.