Around Cook County
Environmental groups rallied on Duluth’s Lake Superior waterfront Thursday morning, making public thousands of signatures calling for tougher scrutiny of proposed copper mining in Northeastern Minnesota.
The Duluth News Tribune reports Environment Minnesota had nearly 10,000 signatures of state residents opposing copper mining, while Water Legacy members said they have nearly 4,200 petitions calling on the federal Environmental Protection Agency to step in and “protect Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters” Canoe Area Wilderness.
Earlier this summer the group Sustainable Ely opened a new tourist center in Ely aimed at educating visitors to the potential problems of copper mining.
Several companies are eying copper, nickel, platinum and other valuable metals across the Arrowhead. PolyMet Minerals plans an open pit mine and processing center near Hoyt Lakes that will employ 350 people.
Twin Metals, has plans to build an underground copper-nickel mine southeast of Ely, just outside the BWCAW.
Mining supporters say the region’s expansion into copper mining will bolster employment and the copper can be mined and processed with no long-term environmental problems.
Opponents say the promise of jobs is being overstated and that the cyclical booms spurred by mining won’t be worth the potential environmental harm caused by the acidic runoff that often accompanies copper mining.
The 2012-2013 ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) year was full of fun and learning for local families with children ages birth to 5 years old. The program is made successful by the strong community involvement and volunteer efforts of community members as well as our ECFE staff members.
ECFE classes had numerous guest speakers featuring topics such as passenger safety, nutrition, gardening, stress management and post partum depression, as well as visiting a local hobby farm and the school’s book fairs.
Another outreach of the ECFE program is the Open Gym program which is held twice a week and allows families and childcare providers to gather their children in an open, safe environment to burn off some energy, develop their large motor skills and social skills. In our long and cold winters this is a benefit for many families.
In order to help keep Open Gym affordable for families the annual ECFE pancake breakfast will be held during Friday and Saturday of Fisherman’s Picnic. ECFE parents and staff will be serving all-you-can-eat pancakes, along with sausage, juice and coffee beginning at 7 a.m. at the Cook County Community Center on Aug. 2 and 3. Costs of the breakfast are $4 for kids 12 and under, $6 for adults. Proceeds from the fundraiser are used by the ECFE Advisory Council to help supplement Open Gym operating costs.
With a deadline looming, the county board wrestled on July 23, 2013 with an opportunity to authorize a new tax. The state has authorized counties to impose a wheelage tax of $10 a year for certain types of vehicles over the next four years and up to $20 a year starting in 2018.
The tax would apply to vehicles such as cars, pickups, busses, and commercial trucks but not to motorcycles, RVs, and semis. For a small fee, the state could collect the tax along with vehicle license renewals on behalf of the county. The revenue projected for Cook County would be approximately $52,780 a year and would help fund projects on county-owned roads. In order for the state to collect the tax in 2014, the county would need to give the state notice by August 1.
Cook County Highway Engineer David Betts recommended that the board authorize the tax.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he would rather see increased sales taxes or a levy increase, because this is a regressive tax that would have greater impact the lower a vehicle owner’s income was.
Commissioner Garry Gamble said he empathized with the Highway Department’s need for funding and pointed out that $10 a year amounted to just over 83 cents month. “The problem is, it’s nibble, nibble, nibble, nibble,” he said. “Cumulatively, it’s a problem. …We can’t just keep adding taxes.”
The Cook County Highway Department is slated to begin work on the Durfee Creek crossing on County Road 60 the week of August 5.
The scope of the project includes replacing the existing corrugated metal pipe with a bottomless aluminum arch set on concrete footings.
The project means closure of CR 60 at Durfee Creek for approximately four weeks. Travelers are advised to use alternate routes until work is complete.
American Legion Auxiliary, Post 413 invites Crazy Days shoppers to stop by the American Legion for the annual bake sale and pie social on Thursday, August 1 from 9 – 11 a.m. The bake sale supports auxiliary events such as the children’s Christmas carnival and veteran events like the Memorial Day luncheon. Come catch up with friends and family and enjoy a piece of pie and take home some goodies for later!
Some work just doesn’t seem to get done without outside help. On July 23, 2013, the county board authorized Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson to hire a consultant to update the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan at a cost not to exceed $22,300.
The state requires counties to update their plans every 10 years, but the last time Cook County submitted a plan was in 2001. Nelson said other projects involving the subdivision ordinance, the septic ordinance, and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan had left him unable to spend the time it would need to do this himself.
Wenck Associates Inc. of Fargo, North Dakota will work on updating the Solid Waste Management Plan, which will be paid out of the recycling budget.
The board also authorized Nelson to set up a committee to look at the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (also called the Land Use Guide Plan) to determine whether it needs to be updated and how an update could be accomplished. Commissioners Jan Hall and Heidi Doo-Kirk will sit on that committee. The plan was last updated in 1997.