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News and other information from Cook County

Former County Board Secretary Simonen to return to county on as-needed basis

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 12:53pm

With the passing of Cook County Administrator Jay Kieft, the county board decided on Tuesday, December 16 to hire former County Board Secretary and Human Resource Manager Janet Simonen for a period of no more than six months while a search is conducted to find a replacement for Kieft.

Simonen will work on as on-needed basis and be paid an hourly rate reflective of a D61 Step 15 pay rate—the same classification and step she received before her retirement—said Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers who has had some discussion with Simonen about the possibility of her coming back to help the county board.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~

Grand Portage men participate in emergency response invasive species training

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 12:51pm

Two members of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s emergency response crew traveled to San Francisco Bay in California to participate in testing new rapid response tools for combatting invasive species.

The trials are being conducted on the California Maritime Academy training ship Golden Bear, a U.S. Coast Guard ballast treatment system test facility. The trials will provide efficacy results of a portable ballast water treatment system (BWTS) that is designed to reduce live aquatic invasive species in ballast tanks.

Ballast water discharges from ships (water used for ship stability in the absence of cargo) are a primary pathway for introduction of invasive species. U.S. federal regulations require installation of permanent BWTS, but full compliance for all ships entering U.S. waters will take years to complete. The mobile BWTS being tested in California could serve as an interim solution and into the future as a contingency measure to address mechanical failures. Such failures are likely since new treatment technologies are operating in difficult operating environments on a wide variety of ships

The Grand Portage Band has worked cooperatively with the National Park Service since 2008, first in planning for response to the threat of the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and most recently providing a crew to support rapid response ballast treatment trials in California.

While the two Grand Portage emergency crewmembers, Cory Hahn and Chris Skildum, have deployed to many natural disasters together, this trip is focused on preventing a disaster in the future, rather than responding to a current emergency.

Hahn commented, “I saw this as both a learning opportunity and a chance to help band members protect an important resource—their fisheries. Last time we were in California was fighting fires, so this is a welcome change of pace.”

Cook County approves levy increase for Economic Development Authority

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 12:50pm

Small Business Development Center Representative Pat Campanaro and Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) Chair Mark Sandbo came before the county board on Tuesday, December 16, requesting approval of an EDA operational levy of $163,550, an increase of $13,550 over 2014.

Campanaro said the additional money would be used to hire an administrative assistant at $30,000 per year and would be put towards the EDA’s housing program, which aims to find ways to make more affordable housing available in the county.

Commissioner Garry Gamble said he supported the EDA but asked the EDA to look for ways to partner with other entities in an effort to not only save money but to learn to work together and form stronger bonds within the community. He suggested the county grant $70,000 of the $163,550 request.

“Excuse me,” said Campanaro. “Did I hear you say that you supported the EDA? Then why are suggesting this cutback?”

Sandbo pointed out that the EDA board has transformed and operated in an efficient and wise manner the last couple of years. He said he understood why the board was reluctant to give money to them based on their history, but the current board should be supported.

Commissioner Doo-Kirk made a motion of support with Martinson and Hall voting with her while Gamble voted against the request.


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~

Tettegouche offers introductory ice fishing program: December 27

Tue, 12/23/2014 - 10:22am

Ice fishing, anyone?  There’s an introductory program this Saturday at Tettegouche State Park.  WTIP host Mark Abrahamson spoke with naturalist Kurt Mead on North Shore Morning. 

No fishing license is needed to participate in the Saturday program. 


Tettegouche State Park will be offering a free Intro to Ice Fishing program on December 27th , from 9 to 4. Whether you are new to the sport or would just like to fish for northerns on one of the most beautiful lakes in the state, take the almost two mile hike back in to rustic Mic Mac Lake and join the fun. The old Tettegouche Camp Lodge will be warmed up and hot beverages will be available all day long. Cribbage boards will be waiting for you to play a quick game while you have a cup of coffee.

Bring equipment if you've got it or loaner equipment will be waiting for you when you arrive. Kids get to make a simple yet effective tip-up that they can take home!

Call the Tettegouche State Park naturalist at 218 353.8809 for more information or on the Tettegouche website.

(Photo by Tim T. on Flickr)

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Drippy weather to bring us up to Christmas

Mon, 12/22/2014 - 10:29am

Warm air over the snow pack results in fog, mist and maybe a little accumulation between now and Christmas. WTIPs Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist Carol Christenson.

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County Attorney Molly Hicken receives Meritorious Service Award

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 5:43pm

On December 3-5, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association (MCAA) held its 37th annual meeting at the Hilton Minneapolis. On Thursday, December 4, an awards banquet was held and Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken was named the 2014 recipient of the MCAA Meritorious Service Award.

The Meritorious Service Award honors an MCAA member show has demonstrated leadership in his or her office.

Hicken was recognized for her heroic actions during the courthouse shooting on December 15, 2011 and for her bravery in returning to work as assistant county attorney in the same office where the shooting occurred less than a week later.

It was noted that since that time Hicken has stepped up to fulfill obligations far beyond the designated responsibilities of the assistant county attorney, maintaining the entire criminal and juvenile caseloads, serving as legal advisor for department heads and the board of commissioners, and running the County Attorney’s Office in the absence of then-County Attorney Tim Scannell as he recovered from his near-fatal injuries and eventually was removed from office.

The MCAA program said, “It would be an understatement to say that Molly has weathered some challenging times in her role as assistant county attorney. However, because of her sheer determination, constant perseverance, and positive can-do attitude, she has come out on top.”


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~