Around Cook County
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
encourages homeowners to complete necessary open burning now, as
restrictions will take effect shortly after snowmelt occurs.
"Warm temperatures will continue to erode the snowpack in the next few
weeks," said Larry Himanga, DNR fire prevention coordinator. "This
will expose last year's leaves and other yard waste. The safest way to
dispose of this vegetation is to recycle or compost it."
Homeowners who choose to burn should do so under the safest
conditions, which is when snow is still on the ground. In addition, a
DNR burning permit is not required when there are three or more inches
of continuous snow cover. This cover drastically reduces the chance a
fire will escape and burn unintended areas. Check local city and
municipal regulations as many are more stringent.
Spring fire restrictions will soon take effect and will severely limit
open burning until summer green-up occurs. Traditionally, most
wildfires occur in April and May. More than 95 percent of these fires
are caused by human error. Due to the high fire incidence during this
period, the DNR initiates burning restrictions to coincide with this
annual "fire season."
The restrictions are weather dependent, but normally last from four to
six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.
Historically, spring fire restrictions dramatically decrease the
number and size of accidental fires.
By burning prior to snowmelt, homeowners can reduce the potential for
an escaped fire, which could endanger homes and property. And, if the
DNR or a fire department has to respond to an escaped fire, the
Balancing safety concerns with fiscal responsibility continues to be a contentious issue for the Cook County commissioners.
In March, the board approved the installation of security cameras, duress buttons, and an intercom system at all county buildings and a computerized keycard access system at the courthouse. The board postponed a decision on purchasing additional security equipment and hiring bailiffs to provide security at the courthouse as recommended by the Cook County Security Committee, which was commissioned after the December 2011 courthouse shooting.
The discussion continued on April 9, 2013 and resulted in several split votes after impassioned speeches by Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk and County Attorney Tim Scannell.
Sheriff Mark Falk, chair of the security committee, recommended to the county board either of two options—one for a full-time deputy to screen people entering the courthouse during court hours and during “any other highly charged events or high-risk events,” plus the equipment needed to screen them. The other recommendation was for two full-time deputies to screen people entering the courthouse during regular courthouse hours, plus the equipment needed to screen them.
The total cost to the county for each deputy, if they were entry-level, would be $60,000.
Commissioner Garry Gamble said, “It appears we are using more and more of the public’s money to protect ourselves from the public. We must ask ourselves, should we who serve the public, using the public’s money to do so, be entitled to everything we want or say we need when those we serve are not afforded the same option?”
On April 9, 2013, the county board spent about an hour and a half with its Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust attorney, Dyan Ebert, in a closed meeting.The county board agenda distributed last week said simply that the meeting was to be closed for “threatened litigation.”
Cook County News-Herald Associate Editor Jane Howard contacted Minnesota Newspaper Association attorney Mark Anfinson, who confirmed what the News-Herald believed, that the mere "threat" of litigation is not sufficient to close a public meeting. Anfinson said the threat must be effectively imminent or in some reasonably clear and tangible form, such as a demand letter from an attorney.
When Howard shared this information with the county’s attorney, Dyan Ebert, Ebert then issued the following statement: “The purpose of the closed session is to discuss the litigation that has been threatened against Cook County by Tim Scannell relating to the December 2011 shooting.
“The discussion will not be for purposes of general legal advice. The litigation has been threatened and appears imminent based on direct conversations that I, as well as some of the individual commissioners and other county employees have had with Mr. Scannell and his attorney, Baiers Heeren.
“The lawsuit has also been threatened in a demand letter that was sent to me at my request to provide the county with specific details regarding the claim and the basis for the lawsuit.”
Ebert said, “It is my belief that a closed session is necessary so that I can consult with the board in a private, confidential setting, and it will also provide the board with the opportunity to discuss the defense strategy and possible reconciliation or settlement options relating to the threatened lawsuit.”
The Cook County News-Herald continues to work to obtain a copy of the demand letter.
The presentation of "Ellie the Elephant" at the Grand Marais Public LIbrary has been cancelled due to inclement weather. The library hopes to reschedule this delightful original adaptation of the fable of the elephant and the blind men by Sarah Ruth Diener. The free performance is best for children pre-school through grade 3.
For more information call Patsy Ingebrigtsen at the library, 218-387-1140.
The Cook County Senior Center has planned another Grand Portage Lodge and Casino trip on “Lucky Tuesday,” April 16. Leave the Senior Center at 9:45 a.m. and play Bingo Bus on the way. Return to at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Transportation is free for those that board the bus at the senior center. In-town pickup is available for $1 fee. Call the Senior Center at (218) 387-2660 for more information.
Two public meetings scheduled for this evening regarding the Father Baraga Cross area and the Temperance River wayside rest have been postponed due to pending inclement weather. The meetings will now be held next Tuesday, April 16 at the Schroeder Town Hall.
At 4 p.m. the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission and citizens will meet to review plans for the Father Baraga Cross area.
At 7 p.m ARDC and citizen and local government representatives will consider design concepts for the Temperance River Wayside.
Celebrate your library in April as the Grand Marais Public Library kicks off National Library Week on Friday, April 12 with the Duluth Playhouse presentation of Ellie the Elephant at 3:30 p.m., an original adaptation of the fable of the elephant and the blind men by Sarah Ruth Diener. The free performance is best for children pre-school through grade 3.
For more information call Patsy Ingebrigtsen at the library, 218-387-1140.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Swiss firm has pledged to invest $80 million in PolyMet Mining's plans for a copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.
The investment by Swiss commodities giant Glencore AG includes $20 million in bridge loans and $60 million in equity. The Star Tribune reports the investment is expected to be finalized in June, pending regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Canada.
The investment would allow PolyMet to complete the lengthy environmental review and permitting process that has already been six years in the making at a cost of $50 million to date. Environmental permits and state regulatory approvals are required before mill work and mine construction can begin.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it will delay plans to cut Saturday mail delivery because Congress isn't allowing the change.
The Postal Service said in February that it planned to cut back in August to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages, as a way to hold down losses.
But a statement today from agency's Board of Governors notes that Congress has passed a spending bill that continues the longtime prohibition against reducing delivery days.
As a result, the board says it believes that Congress “has left it with no choice but to delay implementation” of the five-day-a-week plan.
Applications for Minnesota bear hunting licenses are available through May 3, the Department of Natural of Resources (DNR) has announced.
A total of 3,750 licenses are available in 11 permit areas. The number of available licenses for 2013 is about 35 percent fewer than the 6,000 licenses available in 2012. The 2012 bear harvest was 2,604. That was a 22 percent increase from 2011, despite 15 percent fewer bear quota licenses being available. The increase in harvest for 2012 was largely due to poorer fall food conditions, making bears more attracted to hunters’ baits.
The DNR’s goal with the lower license quotas is to allow for a gradual increase in the current bear population. The DNR monitors the bear population using a modeling technique based on ages of harvested bears, supplemented periodically by total population estimates based on mark-recapture data. Bear ages are determined from tooth samples that hunters are required to submit.
Notification to successful lottery winners will be made in mid- to late May. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available to any eligible persons starting at noon Aug. 7.
Application for a bear license can be made at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center in St. Paul, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by phone at 888-665-4236. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. There is a $4 application fee.
Complete information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.
Snow in April? Well, according to Weather Service records, one of the biggest snow storms happened on April 5, 1933. That’s when 28 inches fell on the old Pigeon River Bridge crossing here in Cook County. That still stands as the state record for a 24 hour snowfall in April. Two Harbors measured 17 inches in one day during that same storm.
Don’t miss the 3rd annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend featuring artist Jim Ohlschmidt April 12 - 13 at Bluefin Bay Resort in Tofte, MN.
Friday, April 12 - Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt will play a couple of informal sets beginning at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 13 - Fingerstyle Guitar Workshops:
• 10:00 a.m. - Gordon Thorne will present “Fundamentals of the Form - Getting Started”
• 11:00 a.m. - Jim Ohlschmidt will present “John Hurt's Country Blue Guitar”
• lunch break
• 1:30 p.m. - Jim Ohlschmidt will present “Nashville Thumbstyle: a look at players such as Merle Travis, Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins”
The workshop fee is $50 for all workshops and lunch. To register contact Gordon - email@example.com - or call 218-353-7308
Saturday, April 13 – Evening concert:
• 7:30 pm - Evening Concert featuring Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt.
The concert tickets are $15, available at the door or can be reserved by calling Bluefin @ 218- 663-6200 or Gordon @ 218-353-7308
All proceeds benefit WTIP!
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) nongame wildlife program is recruiting volunteers for a frog and toad calling survey to help track the health of the state’s 14 species. This effort is part of the nationwide North American amphibian monitoring program.
"Without the dedication of generous volunteers, this project would not be possible,” said Heidi Cyr, frog and toad survey volunteer coordinator. “Many frog and toad species are indicators of habitat quality and provide valuable information on the condition of Minnesota’s wetlands. The volunteers’ reports also help us track the health of the state’s frog and toad populations.”
New volunteers are provided with a kit that includes a CD containing calls of Minnesota’s frog and toad species, a poster of Minnesota’s frogs and toads, a map of a pre-defined route in an area of their choice, and directions on how to run the route. A vehicle is required to travel between stops.
A lawyer who twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota has been appointed as special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges are warranted against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell for his relationship with a teenage girl.
The Duluth News Tribune reports former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger, a 35-year lawyer working in private practice in Minneapolis, has been appointed special prosecutor to review the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation of Scannell.
Scannell, who was shot and seriously wounded in December 2011 by a sex offender he had just prosecuted, was ordered by the court last December to stay away from the minor girl.
According to the BCA’s petition to appoint a special prosecutor to the case, the bureau has conducted an investigation of Scannell’s relationship with the girl and is ready to submit the case to a prosecuting attorney to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
The BCA investigator assigned to the case contacted six county attorneys about their willingness to review the investigation for potential charges. All of the county attorneys declined. Hence, Heffelfinger was appointed to act as special prosecutor and perform all duties of the county attorney in relation to the Scannell case.
All the wet snow and there’s still more in the forecast. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist Mike Stewart about this slow spring.