Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Author Mark Munger at Grand Marais Library Wednesday

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 11:31am

The Grand Marais Public Library is a great place to sit and 
enjoy a good book. On Wednesday, November 28, it will also be a great 
place to get to know an author. The public is invited to hear author 
and District Court Judge Mark Munger discuss his latest book , Laman’s
River: a mystery, at the library on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 
2:00 p.m.
Munger is a life-long resident of Minnesota; born in St. Paul, and 
raised in Duluth. After practicing trial law for nearly 20 years, he 
became a District Court Judge in 1998 and serves a four county region 
of Northeastern Minnesota.
His work has been published in Writer’s Journal and his essay Leaving 
Mayo was a finalist for the 2000 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Writing Award.
The setting for Munger’s ninth book stretches from the canoe country 
of our own back yard, to the Big Belt Mountains of Montana. Juvenile 
and Reference Librarian Patsy Ingebrigtsen  encourages everyone to 
take advantage of this opportunity. She said, “This is a free event 
you won’t want to miss.”

GES holds annual meeting, board elections

Tue, 11/27/2012 - 11:29am

Great Expectations School (GES) recently held its 10th 
Annual Meeting and reflected on the original vision for the school and 
how it is lived out on a daily basis.  For charter schools, the annual 
meeting is the chance for parents and school staff to meet with the 
school board and one another to elect new board members and officers, 
as well as provide input to the school’s direction.
GES is in its 10th year of operation, and many of the elements that 
were part of the initial charter school application remain guiding 
principles today, including an emphasis on social/emotional 
development of children, multi-age classrooms, integrated curriculum, 
a focus on the needs of individual students, empowered educators, 
involved parents, connections to community resources, and 
opportunities for relevant, hands-on learning.
The school’s enrollment picture continues to look positive, with just 
a few openings available for this year or next.  Still, there are no 
plans to expand beyond the current levels of classrooms or students.  
The school’s focus will be on getting better, not bigger.
The school also announced an initiative to help manage the cash flow 
challenges created by the State of Minnesota holdbacks through the 
creation of private loans.  This plan will provide investment returns 
for short-term loans from individuals who would like to support the 
school in this manner.  Details are available through the school office.
Elections were held and the GES board now consists of four parents, 
two educators, and three community members.  Board members are Sara 

Destination College at Higher Ed on Tuesday

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 11:09pm

Are you a parent interested in learning about getting your child get into college? How to navigate financial aid? Cook County Higher Education may be able to help. Consider attending a special evening of interactive discussion of the college learning process on Tuesday, November 27 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Higher Ed North Shore Campus.
Topics that will be covered include how to select and apply to colleges; how to prepare and plan for college; how to pay for college and more.
It is not too early start planning for your high school freshman and not too late for your high school senior!
For questions about Destination College, please contact Kirstin van den Berg at (218) 387-3411 or email

Community Center demolition bids accepted

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 12:21pm

Bids for demolition, excavation, and the foundation of the new community center to be built onto the west wing of the Cook County Schools complex came in over budget, but Project Manager Mark Kragenbring of ORB Management expects savings in some areas to more than make up for the overage.  The low bids were approved at the November 20 county board meeting.
Six bidders will be awarded contracts for selective demolition of the school’s west wing; mechanical, electrical, and fire suppression demolition; and excavation, footings and foundations.  The low bids totaled $949,786, $71,891 over the $877,895 budgeted. 
Kragenbring said considerable savings will result because the amount of rock that will need to be removed is less than was estimated in the budget, and the excavation contract will be reduced accordingly.  County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers said contractors can’t charge for work that doesn’t need to be done.
Kragenbring said the cost of furniture, fixtures, and equipment might come in less than the amount budgeted because they can use some things already in place, such as the basketball hoops in the old gym.  If necessary, he said, they could also put off installation of a slide at a cost of $100,000, although the pool would still have a spot ready for it. 
“My confidence in keeping within the budget is as high as it’s ever been,” said Kragenbring.  “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re getting things reasonably.”

New snow guns increase snow making efficiency at Lutsen Mountains

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 12:18pm

The purchase of 32 new SMI Pole Cat snow guns has doubled Lutsen’s fleet of high-efficiency guns, which use less electricity and water, but make more snow. These snowmaking machines are each equipped with their own mini weather stations, which measure temperature and humidity to automatically adjust the optimum mixture of air and water flow.
“Having twice as many high-efficiency snow machines will double the amount of snow we can make during November and early December when temperatures are often between 20 and 30 degrees,” said Mark Buckman, snowmaking manager at Lutsen.  “The fan guns make great snow in these conditions, and these automated guns optimize the output as the temperature drops, making the most out of every minute of operation.”
Skiers and snowboarders will benefit from Lutsen’s new snowmaking technology, said Tom Rider, co-President of Lutsen Mountains.  “We will recoup some of the cost through savings in energy and water consumption, but skiers will be the main beneficiaries as we expect better snow conditions and more runs open earlier,” Rider said.
“Combined with pump and pipe improvements planned for next year, we expect that our ability to be 100 percent open by mid-December will soon be the norm.  The goal is not to make more snow, but rather to reduce the time it takes to make snow—less time, less electricity, less water,”
There are several different types of snow guns, but they are all based on the same principle. After the guns break water into small particles, the particles are cooled as they move rapidly through cold air, become nucleated and form snow crystals.  In many ways, machine-made snow is actually more desirable than the natural stuff. Ten inches of natural snow, when it is packed, adds only about an inch to the snow base at a ski area, while 10 inches of machine-made snow adds about seven inches of base.

MPCA board to hear wild rice study update

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 7:10am

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency hears an update tomorrow on a major study on a water quality standard meant to protect wild rice.

Shannon Lotthammer, director of the agency's environmental analysis division, says the presentation will let the board know where things stand halfway into the two-year study, which the MPCA expects to complete late next year.

Minnesota's current standard limits sulfate discharges into waters that produce wild rice to 10 milligrams per liter. The rule has been in place since 1973 and it's based on research from the 1940s. Mining interests and wastewater treatment plant operators have sought to loosen the standard.

After the study is complete, the agency will decide whether the current standard needs to be changed in light of the new science.