Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Septic ordinance task force to look at low-impact septic systems

Mon, 11/04/2013 - 9:57am

At the October 28 meeting, Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson told the county board that some gaps in the proposed septic ordinance had been identified during the two Cook County Planning Commission public hearings.  In a memo to the board, he had written that “a substantial amount of feedback” was given at the first hearing on September 25.

Nelson said there was concern about a gap in the ordinance provisions regarding the treatment of very low volume grey water waste and the composting of human waste.  Nelson said, “This gap in the rules doesn’t take into consideration low-impact lifestyle choices that are made by some here in Cook County.” 

Nelson said after the first hearing, Environmental Health Officer Mitch Everson created a design for a lower-impact grey water system that would be sensitive to the low-impact living scenarios experienced here and that also would remain in line with existing state standards.” 

The concerns expressed at the first hearing were passed along to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) staff members, who offered to meet with Planning & Zoning staff and some of the concerned citizens.  Out of those two meetings came a plan to create a local task force that would meet with MPCA staff to explore options for low-impact septic systems.

Last chance to see Captain Louie Jr. at Grand Marais Playhouse

Sun, 11/03/2013 - 10:01am

The community has greatly enjoyed the latest Grand Marais Playhouse production “Caption Louie Jr.”, a whimsical tale of imagination and friendship—and Halloween. The energetic and entertaining cast is ready to offer its final show today— Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Don’t miss this delightful spooky and silly musical adventure!

South Fowl snowmobile trail project still held up in court

Sun, 11/03/2013 - 9:33am

On September 17, 2013, the Cook County commissioners voted unanimously to continue to take part in the litigation surrounding the South Fowl Snowmobile Trail, along with Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS) of Ely and the Cook County-based Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (ACMU). The groups are considered “Friends of the Court” in support of the U.S. Forest Service decision to construct a 2.2-mile snowmobile trail between McFarland and South Fowl lakes in Hovland.

The lawsuit was launched against the U.S. Forest Service by the Izaak Walton League of America, Inc., Wilderness Watch of Missoula, Montana, Sierra Club Northstar Chapter and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness.

Izaak Walton League and the other plaintiffs oppose construction of the trail siting the 1978 Boundary Waters Act, stating that Section 4(b) of the Wilderness Act  “does not permit a federal agency responsible for protecting the wilderness character of an area to ignore its wilderness-preservation duties when authorizing activities just beyond the border of the area. Impacts to wilderness are not classified according to the location of the authorized activity.”

Rather, Izaak Walton League of America and other plaintiffs state that the Forest Service has a “duty to preserve the wilderness [that] is wholly independent of the source or location of that activity.”

County board approves $12,450 of contingency funds for Cook County Community YMCA gym floor

Sat, 11/02/2013 - 12:16pm

The county board voted October 28, 2013 to spend $12,450 of the Cook County Community YMCA construction contingency funds for a heavy-duty moisture seal for the new gym floor.

County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers told the board that in a meeting with the architects and ORB, the county’s owners’ rep, he was told that the moisture in the concrete, over 90 percent, was too high for wood flooring to be installed without a heavy-duty moisture barrier.  Because the bedrock is only four feet down, the architects were unsure whether the moisture content would ever get below 85 percent.  If it was not below that point and the recommended moisture seal was not installed, the flooring company, Anderson Ladd, would not honor its warranty. 

Unfortunately, there is no money in the construction budget to do this.

Auditor-Treasurer Powers said that with estimated future costs figured in, the contingency fund would be down to about $11,000 if the moisture barrier were installed. 

Commissioner Jan Hall said that the contractors knew that moisture problems existed in the old gym floor and that all floors need a moisture barrier.  She said the contractor was at fault for not anticipating the cost earlier. 

Commissioner Bruce Martinson commended ORB for catching the problem and not letting a cheaper barrier go down. 

Commissioner Sue Hakes said practically every renovation project involves change orders.

The board passed a motion to have the heavy-duty moisture barrier installed by a vote of 3-1, with Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk absent and Commissioner Gamble voting no.

County approves two Highway Department hires

Sat, 11/02/2013 - 12:13pm

The Highway Department had two Maintenance Worker II positions to fill this month.  By unanimous vote, the board authorized Highway Engineer David Betts to hire Jesse Backstrom to fill the Maintenance Worker II position vacated by Bill Bohnen.  In addition to that vacancy, Engineer Betts reported that Rick Motts, hired to replace Gary Blomberg when he retired last spring, had submitted his resignation and would be moving closer to family in Georgia.  

With another Maintenance Worker II position to fill, Engineer Betts said he pulled up the applicant list from last spring.  An interview team was comprised of District State Engineer Walter Leu, Engineer Betts, and Assistant Engineer Sam Muntean. Highway Department crewmembers Greg Thompson, Charlie Sawyer, and Dan Berglund also conducted a field test.

After explaining the process he had gone through to ensure fairness, Engineer Betts recommended hiring Norris Klegstad, son of Highway Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad.  Norris has been a “great” summer employee with the Highway Department, Betts said.  To not hire him because he is Russell Klegstad’s son, he said, would be “discriminatory.”  He said his job is to do what’s best for the department and there was no reason not hiring him would be best.  He said Russell would not be Norris’s supervisor.

The board authorized Betts to hire Norris Klegstad by a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Bruce Martinson casting the no vote.

Weekend News Roundup for November 2

Sat, 11/02/2013 - 10:17am

Each week the WTIP news staff puts together a roundup of the news over the past five days. Critical minerals, Asian carp, the Sandpiper oil line and charges brought against the County Attorney…all in this week’s news.


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