Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Biomass Energy Options report released

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 1:05pm

Dovetail Partners, which has been working with the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) over the last couple of years to study the feasibility of biomass energy projects in Cook County, has published a report on its findings.  The study also included biomass feasibility in the city of Ely.
The study investigated biomass energy options, impacts and trade-offs for the two communities.
The final report, Community-Driven Biomass Energy Opportunities: A Northern Minnesota Case Study, describes the interest of the two communities in using timber harvest residuals, sub-merchantable timber, and waste wood to heat homes, businesses, and government buildings in either stand-alone or district energy systems.
The case studies provide insight into developing and implementing bioenergy facilities and address the topics of wood supply, technological options, financial feasibility, emissions, environmental impacts, and supply chain opportunities and hurdles. Several alternatives were investigated that can aid other communities interested in bioenergy facilities.
Project funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and the USFS Wood Education and Resource Center. The Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

Check out airport plans at Fall Color Fly-In and Open House at Cook County Airport

Wed, 09/25/2013 - 1:21pm

The Grand Marais/Cook County Airport Commission continues its effort to extend the existing airport runway 4,200 feet to 5,000 feet. The airport commission appears to have satisfied state and federal environmental and cost-benefit requirements and can proceed to project design.
A key reason the airport commission has pursued the runway expansion for many years is that the existing runway is too short to support state and federal fire-fighting aircraft. As a consequence, aircraft fighting forest fires in Cook County, such as during the 2007 Ham Lake fire must operate from airports much more distant from the blaze.  This reduces their ability to quickly suppress an emerging fire or contain a large blaze.
A 5,000-foot runway, Airport Manager Rodney Roy explained, is an FAA standard that allows larger aircraft to accelerate to takeoff speed and still safely stop if necessary, before running out of runway.
Numerous state and federal agencies, along with the Cook County Chamber of Commerce and Cook County health-care agencies and others, have provided strong support for the runway extension.
To raise community awareness of the airport’s role and explain the runway extension project, the Grand Marais/Cook County Airport Commission and the Cook County Chamber jointly are planning a “Fall Color Fly-In and Open House” at the airport on Sept. 28. More information on that event will be announced shortly.

Gitchigami Express Sled Dog Race gearing up for second event--volunteers wanted

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 12:31pm

With one organizational meeting under their belts, the committee in charge of setting up and running the 2014 Gitchigami Express Sled Dog race is excited and looking for more volunteer help and sponsors as it proceeds with the second running of what could be called an impromptu (but very successful) inaugural race.
“Last year we had 18 mushers, and this year we are limiting the field to 30,” said one of the organizers, Jack Stone of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply, who added, “And it doesn’t look like we will have any trouble filling up. We have had mushers from all over, including from Alaska, inquiring about this year’s race.”
The 2014 event will be held January 4-6, and start in Grand Portage and run to somewhere mid-Gunflint Trail before teams finish either at Devil Track Lake or in Grand Marais.
“A lot of where we start and finish will be dependent upon snow conditions,” Stone said.
Underwriting the race is the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Stone said working with the band has been a blessing.
“I can’t say enough about how good Tribal Chairman Norman Deschampe and the Tribal Council have been to us,” said Stone.
Currently the committee is looking for someone to fill the volunteer race coordinator position. “That’s one or our biggest needs right now,” Stone said, adding, “but we need many more volunteers to help put this race on, so if you want to help out, please contact me at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply or contact me through our Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race Facebook page.”

DNR to auction confiscated hunting and fishing equipment in Zimmerman, MN

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 12:30pm

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold a public auction of its inventory of confiscated hunting and fishing equipment Sept. 28 at the Hiller Auction Barn in Zimmerman. Hiller Auction is located 2 miles east of the Highway 169 and the County Road 4 intersection in Zimmerman.
Inspection of items runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27 and at 8 a.m. Saturday. The auction starts at 10 a.m.
Items for sale include firearms, bows, tree stands, fishing rods and reels, tip ups, traps, trail cameras, spotlights, ground blinds and a hand ice auger. There are more than 200 firearms and 40 bows available. Once auction begins there will not be access to the firearms.
In addition, there are 200 hunting and fishing items including deer antlers (sold in lots), an ATV, a jet ski, snowmobiles and a boat/motor/trailer combination. A complete inventory list will be posted on the Hiller Auction website at
All property will be sold “as is,” and all sales will be final. Payment may be by credit card or check to Hiller Auction. Items cannot be returned once purchased.
Hiller Auction will conduct a background check of bidders on site before releasing the gun(s). Following the approved background check, buyers can take possession of their property immediately. Buyers may bring their own cases or there will be cases available for purchase to transport firearms.
Proceeds from the auction will be deposited in the Game and Fish Fund. Revenues from the fund are dedicated to fish and wildlife management in the state. All proceeds from vehicles sold at the DNR auction as a result of a Driving While Impaired (DWI) related offense go into the DWI forfeiture account.
For more information, contact Hiller Auction at 763-856-2453 or 800-889-3458.

DNR to offer state lands at public auction

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 10:35am

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will have 23 parcels of land in northeastern Minnesota for sale at a public auction scheduled for Friday, Oct. 25.

The sale will include parcels in Cook, Itasca, Lake, and St. Louis counties, some of which are lakeshore lots.

The three parcels in Cook County include 4.29 acres and 600 feet of shoreline on Loon Lake, eight acres and 1,200 feet of shoreline on Devil Track Lake and 40 acres northwest of Hovland on Lost Lake Rd.

The auction starts at noon with registration at 11:30 a.m. at the Lake County Law Enforcement Center in Two Harbors.

Interested buyers are encouraged to visit the DNR’s land sale information page prior to attending the sale.

AEOA offers Business Energy Retrofit Program

Tue, 09/24/2013 - 9:02am


The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) is currently taking applications for grants through the IRRRB Business Energy Retrofit (BER) program.  (Click on link to WTIP below  to hear an interview with Barbara Ackerson of AEOA.)

These grants will cover one third of energy retrofit costs, up to a maximum of $20,000, with the other two thirds coming from utility rebates, owner match, other energy funds or low interest loans. The savings realized from these investments will allow those local business owners to retain existing jobs as well as create new economic opportunities for their business with an improved bottom line. The work provided through local contractors and materials purchased from local suppliers will also retain local jobs as well as create additional new economic opportunities.