Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

County considers audits for entities receiving non-mandated funds

Sat, 11/30/2013 - 10:58am

The Cook County Board of Commissioners discussed the possibility of enacting a policy that would require entities receiving more than $50,000 in non-mandated funds from the county in a year to be audited.  The decision was prompted by concerns brought to the board regarding financial decisions made by the Cook County Senior Center.

The board discussed whether they could require audits from some grant recipients and not others.  “It if is selective, then it might be perceived as being unfair,” Commissioner Garry Gamble said.  Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers said the county could legally require audits on a case-by-case basis.

Commissioner Gamble said the Senior Center was concerned about the cost of an audit.  Commissioner Bruce Martinson said numerous agencies receiving less than $50,000 from the county do an audit already.

Commissioner Sue Hakes said being fair and consistent is important, but so is holding agencies they fund accountable.  She indicated that transparency is vital.

Auditor-Treasurer Powers and Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken will draft a motion regarding requiring audits that the board will consider at a future meeting.  The board has yet to decide when the policy would go into effect.

Annual Holiday Craft & Consultant Sale at Cook County Community Center Saturday --- Shop local!

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 10:25am

Don’t forget to stop and shop at the Annual Holiday Craft Sale and Consultants Open House at the Cook County Community Center and 4H Log Cabin at 317 W 5th Street in Grand Marais on Saturday, Nov. 30, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Girl Scouts will be selling poinsettias. Many new local crafters will have beautiful items for sale. Representatives from AVON, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple and Tupperware will have their latest products available.

Red Kettle campaign starts in Cook County

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 10:24am

A local holiday tradition begins on the Friday after Thanksgiving—the annual (and only) effort to raise funds for meeting needs in Cook County by the Salvation Army.  This effort can only succeed with the help of many bell-ringers (or music providers) who attend the Red Kettles in the main grocery stores of Grand Marais and Tofte weekdays and Saturdays until Christmas Eve day.  Thanks to those Red Kettle attendees, generous donors gave more than $9,000 during the 2012 campaign.

Locally the Salvation Army is represented by a service unit of community members who follow the Army’s mission “. . . to meet human needs . . . without discrimination.”  A large portion of the local budget is allocated to emergency needs as food, heating, and shelter.  Other important but non-emergency needs like clothing items, school supplies, and toiletries are also provided.
If you feel you can join in this endeavor, contact Red Kettle campaign coordinator Mary Sanders by phone (387-1729 or 370-1303) or email her (  Either she or her assistant Tina Krauz will gladly answer any of your questions and schedule you for a kettle shift—an hour of your choice or more time if you are able.  The importance of your role attending a kettle can’t be overestimated—donations are directly proportional to the number of attendant hours.  We will need several attendees to fill the void left by highly valued attendant, Richard Buch who “entered God’s Kingdom on August 28, 2013.”  

County continues budget talks, looks at law enforcement costs

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 10:22am

As the county board prepares to finalize its 2014 budget, commissioners continue to try to whittle expenses down.  On November 26, 2013, Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk defended his request for another dispatcher/jailer position in 2014.

When he applied for a job as a City of Grand Marais police officer in 1989, the job entailed 20 hours of law enforcement and 20 hours working in the municipal liquor store.  Things have changed a lot since then.

Amity Goettl went back to being one of the dispatcher/jailers after being the administrative assistant for a while, Sheriff Falk said.  As the administrative assistant, she had been spending about half of her time maintaining the computer-aided dispatch system and is still spending that much time on it along with her dispatcher/jailer duties.

“Dispatch is changing so much,” Falk said.  “It’s a very busy position when they’re dispatching and jailing.”  The inmate population has been extraordinarily high this year as well.

The department is in short supply of bailiffs and transport officers as well.  Sheriff Falk said he had to do a transport himself on a recent court day. 

“I believe this is necessary,” Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said of the request. 

“It’s tax dollars that pay for government, and we want to be sensitive to that,” Commissioner Garry Gamble said.  He asked the sheriff how the needs could be met as cost-effectively as possible.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Cook County News-Herald

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 11:21am

On this Thanksgiving, the Cook County News-Herald would like to say thank you to the wonderful North Shore community that has supported the local newspaper for over 125 years. We couldn’t do it without you.

We wish all of readers and contributors a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving!

"Operation Family Christmas" working to make Christmas merrier for all

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 11:19am

In its second year, Operation Family Christmas will again collect and distribute gifts to families that may not be able to buy gifts for the holiday.

The organizers will place collection boxes this Friday, November 22, at Mike’s Holiday, Johnson’s Grocery Store, Java Moose, Buck’s Hardware, Joynes Ben Franklin, Grand Marais SuperAmerica and the Cook County Community Center. There will also be a collection box at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, local headquarters for Operation Family Christmas.

They are looking for donations of new, unwrapped gifts for kids up to 18 years old.

Andrea Everson, one of the organizers said, “This is all confidential. No one knows who is getting presents.”

Parents (or legal guardians) can pick up applications at the Cook County Law Enforcement Center or at the Violence Prevention Center or through Anna Sandstrom at School District 166.

The boxes will be collected on December 16 and gifts distributed on December 21. 

Last year 46 kids in the county received presents they would not have gotten if not for people donating to Operation Family Christmas.

Everson said, “We’re organized better this year. We have had more time for planning. We don’t want anyone to be forgotten.”