Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

County Chamber of Commerce gathering draws crowd

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 11:17am
Charles Skinner, one of the founding members of the new Chamber, addresses the audience.
More than 50 local business people and managers turned out for the launch of the new Cook County Chamber of Commerce  Tuesday, Feb. 12th at Sivertson Gallery in Grand Marais.
 
The Greater Grand Marais Chamber is handing the reins to leaders of the new countywide Chamber, which is in the late stages of organizing. Grand Marais Chamber President Kim Linnell and Director Bev Wolke wrote in the newsletter that, “A great new beginning is in effect for the Chamber of Commerce. After much discussion and hard work by many, we are pleased to inform you that there is a new and better Chamber awaiting you.
 
“This new Chamber will be the one voice that this county has so long been in need of. We believe this will help strengthen the county’s economic growth and development to help for a brighter future for all of us,” Linnell and Wolke wrote.
 
At the Feb. 12 Sivertson Gallery party, prospective members were briefed on new Chamber's countywide organizational efforts and its plans for future programming. Those plans include a “Cook County Day” at the Legislature this March at which Chamber members will seek to impress on legislators the importance of issues that matter greatly to Cook County businesses.
 
Speaking at the event was Jennifer Byers of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.  She spoke briefly about how the new county Chamber and the state Chamber will work together for the benefit of county businesses.
 
Also on hand were Chamber organizers Mark Sandbo, Jan Sivertson, Mike Prom, Bruce Kerfoot, Charles Skinner and Scott Harrison. 

Animal welfare groups launch wolf hunt lawsuit

Wed, 02/13/2013 - 8:17am
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday to restore federal protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region that were lifted last year.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the District of Columbia against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior. It says the decision to take wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan off the endangered list threatens the animals’ recovery throughout most of their historic range.

Hunters and trappers in Minnesota and Wisconsin killed 530 wolves combined during those states’ recently concluded seasons — 413 in Minnesota and 117 in Wisconsin. The Michigan Legislature voted in December to authorize wolf hunting, which could resume as early as this fall.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment on the lawsuit, but the agency took the wolves off the endangered list because the population had recovered and followed the law in doing so.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a statement saying that putting wolves back on the list would not be in the best interest of the animals or state residents.

Michigan is expected to make a decision on wolf hunting this spring. Officials say if a hunt is approved, it probably will be limited to parts of the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula where wolves have preyed on livestock and pets.

A spokesman for the Minnesota DNR declined to comment until officials could review the lawsuit.

Music group "Portage" honored for volunteerism

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 1:02pm
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St. Paul, Minn. (February 11, 2013) – Portage, a musical group from Grand Portage has been named the Aging Services of Minnesota 2013 District B Volunteer of the Year for their years of entertaining the residents at Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center. This special award is the highest honor recognizing the dedication and service of volunteers who support Minnesota seniors.
 
Portage was honored in February by Aging Services of Minnesota, a trade association for older adult services organizations in Minnesota.
 
Portage is a classic country music band that has been performing for the residents in and around Cook County for over 10 years. They have had a long standing gig at the care center the last Saturday of every month for 8 years – and they fill the dance floor every time.
 
“They play my favorite song, Heartache by the Number every time, just for me,” said resident Gert Scott
 
“The members of Portage are an inspiring example of what volunteers can accomplish in the lives of older adults,” said Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota. “Their dedication and talent have made a difference in the lives of so many.”
 
Volunteers like the members of Portage are the unsung heroes in Minnesota’s health care system. Their deep commitment, talent and contributions make it possible for older adult services organizations to extend the level of care and services to their residents, clients and communities.
 
For more information about the 2013 Aging Services of Minnesota Stars Among Us awards, visit our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/AgingServicesMN?feature=watch

Knowledge Bowl team heads to competition

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 12:14pm

On Wednesday, Jan 10, the Cook County senior high Knowledge Bowl team had its first meet, facing powerful competition from a number of teams who went to the State Knowledge Bowl meet last year—International Falls, Marshall, Duluth East, Hermantown, Denfeld and Proctor.
Cook County fielded two teams and both finished quite well, said Knowledge Bowl Coach April Wahlstrom.
Team 1 was Mara MacDonell, Ben Seaton, and Sarah Larsen, who came in first in points with 110.5 points.  The Cook County team was followed by IFalls with 108, Hermantown 105.
Team 2 was right behind with 104.5 in 4th place.  Team 2 includes Will Seaton, Sean MacDonell and Sterling Anderson. 
Coach Wahlstrom said the high-ranking finishes were all the more impressive because teams can have four individuals on a team. Cook County was missing its 11th grade students who were taking a final, so the students who competed were at a disadvantage. They still pulled off a top five finish.
“Things are on the up and up for Cook County,” said Coach Wahlstrom, “State is a goal again.”
Upcoming meets are Feb. 13 and March 6.  The tournament to determine State contenders is on March 20.

Grand Marais moves ahead with planning of public works facility

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 12:12pm

Grand Marais city councilors voted Jan. 30 to go ahead with the first step of a planned public works facility by approving a pre-design proposal from LHB, an engineering firm from Duluth. Under the terms of the $10,844 agreement, LHB will look at the city’s needs, such as function, size and furnishings. LHB will then provide a planning documents, a site recommendation, a preliminary project budget and schedule.
The city council is pursuing this because they feel another site is needed to allow the city to move its vehicles and equipment from the existing garages in the Rec Park along the shore of Lake Superior.
The city has already done some of its own investigation regarding a site for the facility, and there are three locations under consideration: a lot in the Cedar Grove Business Park; a city-owned site adjacent to the hospital on Fifth Avenue West; and the city’s defunct brush site on County Road 12 (the Gunflint Trail). Each site has yet to be evaluated and compared to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each. Some of the criteria to be used in the evaluation include capacity, future expansion opportunities, topography, accessibility, wetlands, visibility, neighborhood compatibility and land acquisition cost (if any).
City Administrator Mike Roth said the LHB proposal is the same one discussed by the city council last fall, and it has been reviewed with the appropriate department heads and met with their approval.

Minn. lawmakers push bill to hire more veterans

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 6:50am

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State lawmakers want to give Minnesota businesses tax credits for hiring veterans.

Apple Valley Republican Rep. Anna Wills and Sen. Chuck Wiger, a Maplewood Democrat, unveiled a bill Monday they say would lower the unemployment rate for veterans and boost Minnesota's economy.

Wills says 23 percent of veterans in Minnesota are unemployed — the third-highest rate in the nation.

Businesses would receive a $3,000 credit for hiring a disabled veteran, $1,500 for an unemployed veteran and $500 for hiring any veteran. The lawmakers hope that hiring more veterans would increase income tax revenues enough to cover the cost of the credits.

Gov. Mark Dayton floated a similar proposal last year. It was included in a large package of tax cuts that Dayton vetoed for other reasons.