Around Cook County
Cook County has a new Administrator, on the job for just three weeks. WTIPs Jay Andersen spoke with Jay Kieft (KEY-ft) about his new job
To take part in the Gichigami Express Sled Dog Race, the Grand Marais Art Colony is offering a special art contest. Stop by the Art Colony to participate in the Gichigami Express Coloring Contest Jan. 4-6, any time between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Just fill in the artist-rendered drawing of the sled dog race. Creativity counts! Winners will be chosen from three age brackets: 0-5, 6-12, and 13 and older. Each winner will receive a $10 gift card to the Art Colony, plus the glory of appearing on the Art Colony facebook page.
The Grand Marais Art Colony is located just two blocks up the hill from the Java Moose at 120 W. 3rd Ave.
For more information about the coloring contest or the Art Colony, call (218) 387-2737.
The effort to reshape the forest along Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior is advancing, now with the U.S. Forest Service moving to help conifers reclaim their historic dominance along the lake.
The Duluth News Tribune reports Superior National Forest officials are preparing an environmental assessment of the so-called North Shore Restoration Effort. It’s part of the larger North Shore Forest Collaborative that includes private landowners, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, and county and tribal forestry agencies.
The Forest Service has scheduled a public open house on their plans for Jan. 10 in Grand Marais.
The problem is apparent to anyone who has driven along Highway 61 over the past 25 years. Acres of dead and dying birch trees are replaced by a sea of grass, shrubs and deer. An estimated 600 square miles of forest along the lake — from the shore to the top of the ridge, stretching from Two Harbors to Pigeon River — have been affected by the change in forest cover.
Unlike inland forests, about 70 percent of the North Shore forest is owned by private landowners.
The Forest Service part of the effort will focus on using selective logging and reforestation to restore white spruce, white cedar and white pine on nearly 40,000 acres (62 square miles) of federal land in the area, mostly along the upper ridge along the North Shore.
Nancy Larson, Gunflint District Ranger, said that experts from the NRCS, DNR and consulting foresters will be available at the open house to answer landowner questions about restoration activities on private property.
If all the 2014 budget requests department heads submitted to the county board this summer were granted and the fund balance was not touched, the county tax levy could increase by 11 percent next year. That’s not going to happen, however. The board decided to cap any potential levy increase at 2.9 percent. On September 24, 2013, the board tried to whittle the budget down further to minimize dipping into the fund balance and increasing the levy.
One tool the board used was suggestions made by department heads when they were asked how they would reduce expenses by 5 percent if they were forced to do so. The board spent well over three hours going through specific cuts that could be made department by department, but they didn’t make it all the way through all the departments and decided to pick up the task at another budget work session.
The board discussed—but rejected—eliminating the telephone booth at the end of the Gunflint Trail or postponing equipment purchases for the county highway department,
They accepted a recommendation from Information Technology Director Danna MacKenzie who suggested a couple of different expense-cutting options including delaying equipment purchases. The board went with one of the suggestions, which will save $36,721.
The preliminary budget called for using $513,241 from the fund balance. Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he would like to use half that amount and keep the levy increase to half of 2.9 percent. Commissioner Garry Gamble said he wanted to eliminate any use of the fund balance and have no levy increase.
The Crossing Borders Studio Tour and Sale is going on now through Sunday, October 6. (Click on link to WTIP below to hear a feature story on this year's tour.)
The 2013 Crossing Borders Studio Tour features 23 artists in 8 locations between Duluth and the Canadian border, along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The tour is self-guided and runs from Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 6. Studios are open from 10 a.m .to 6 p.m. each day.
To learn more about the Crossing Borders Studio Tour, visit www.crossingbordersstudiotour.com.
The nice fall weather will continue for a couple more days, then rain and cooler weather will make it seem more like October usually feels. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Stewart.