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Energy efficiency brings rebate to Cook County Community YMCA

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 11:23am

Local government officials were pleased to accept a payment of $12,737.50 in utility rebates from the Grand Marais Public Utility Commission on August 11. Keith Butcher, the energy service specialist for the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), which provides power for the city of Grand Marais, explained that the rebate was made because of energy efficient equipment choices made by Cook County during the planning and construction phases of the Cook County Community YMCA.

Butcher said, “The county’s investment in energy efficient equipment will save them over 300,000 kWhs of electricity annually.”

Butcher said the rebates are for the YMCA’s efforts focused on highly efficient air-conditioning units, lighting (high bay linear fluorescents, CFLs and LEDs), and the significant use of occupancy sensors throughout the building to ensure that lights are off when not needed. 

Additionally, Cook County is working with Grand Marais Public Utilities to quantify the savings from the installation of variable speed drives on the swimming pool and water slide pumps.  Upon completion of the data collection, it is expected the Cook County will receive additional funds.  “This is yet another example of how Grand Marais Public Utilities works with their customers to use energy wisely,” said Butcher.

To learn how you can participate in any of the Grand Marais Public Utility programs, visit or call Keith Butcher, Grand Marais’ SMMPA Energy Representative, at 507-990-5907.



This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald


'Back to School' Open House and Orientation August 27

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:51am

The Cook County School District is hosting a "Back to School Open House/Orientation" on Wednesday, August 27th from 3:30pm - 6:30pm.  WTIP volunteer Sherrie Lindskog spoke with Melissa Dressley of the Cook County PTA on North Shore Morning about this event, and the school's ongoing need for volunteers.
The open house will have tables available for non-profit community organizations that provide services or support to youth and/or families to host.  Such organizations can have brochures, flyers, etc. available for parents and students.  This is also an opportunity for students and parents to meet their teachers.

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Helping with hunger in Cook County

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:58am

Cook County Public Health and Human Services is addressing the issue of hunger in Cook County.
WTIP volunteer Randy Eastlund spoke with Alison McIntyre, “Eligibility Specialist” with the Income Maintenance Department,
and ‘case aide’ Sara Hadley.

More information about assistance programs
at 387-3620.

411 W 2nd Street Grand Marais, MN  55604

Resources available to help individuals and families
in Cook County:

  • Food shelf
  • Food Support
  • Backpack program
  • Elderly Nutrition Program
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Senior Center
  • Free and Reduced Meals at the schools

(Photo by I-5 Design and Manufacture)



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An Invitation to Afternoon Tea, September 3

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 8:03am

You can RSVP for Afternoon Tea:  the event celebrates and supports Cook County Higher Education.  North Shore Morning host Randy Eastlund spoke with Paula Sundet Wolf of Cook County Higher Education on North Shore Morning.
Cook County Higher Education is hosting the 2nd annual Afternoon Tea Party at Naniboujou Lodge on September 3rd from 2:15 to 5:00 pm.  Dr. Karen I. Halbersleben will present the keynote address, “God Save the Queens:” Learning from the Six Women who have Ruled England since 1066. Six women have been crowned Queen Regnant of England since 1066, ruling for a combined 198 years of turmoil and triumph.  Guests will learn about each of the six-- two Marys, two Elizabeths, Anne, and Victoria--and about the unique challenges they faced, the choices they made, and the mark they left on their nation.  Dr. Halbersleben will consider how their gender influenced their years on the throne and seek to understand what is unique about a nation that sings with pride "God Save the Queen."
Schedule of Events
2:15 Silent Auction
3:30 Program Welcome: Paula Sundet Wolf, Executive Director of Cook County Higher Education
3:45 Key Note Speaker: Karen I. Halbersleben presents “God Save the Queens”
4:45 Final wrap up
5:00 Program concludes
Reservations requested by August 27th.
Proceeds from this event go towards the CCHE Endowment Fund.
More information online at or by phone Monday through Thursday at 387-3411.


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Permit for beer garden for Unplugged at North House approved

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 10:03am

The Grand Marais City Council reviewed a request defined as a “gray area” at their August 13 meeting. The council considered an application from the North House Folk School to operate a beer tent “Under the Big Top” during the school’s Unplugged event Sept. 11-13. The North House and its lakeside campus are situated on city property.

According to the application, terms of the temporary on-sale liquor license will be similar to those security precautions (wrist bands and ID checks) required of other organizations for similar events, such as the beer tent at the American Legion during Fisherman’s Picnic and an outdoor beer and wine tent which was allowed in Harbor Park during the Dragon Boat Festival. Organizers of those events were required by the city to place fencing around the area in addition to the use of wrist bands and other forms of ID to restrict access and ensure minors were not being served.

Mayor Larry Carlson said he had no problems with the request, but was concerned about children being allowed in and out of the tent, and wanted to be sure North House is held to the same beer tent standards as everybody else. “I see nothing about fencing in this application…and I don’t want to be arbitrary,” he said.

Councilor Tim Kennedy agreed and said that there has to be some kind of control “to keep people from wandering off with beer.”

There was nobody present from the North House to elaborate on the brief application, but Roth explained that the city has no ordinance or formal guidelines for issuance of the temporary liquor licenses. “The rules are whatever you’re comfortable with,” he said.

School District 166 considers levy options

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 10:00am

The voter approved property tax levy that was accepted in the fall of 2011 is set to expire December 2015. Cathy Erickson of the Arrowhead Regional Consortium spoke at the August 7, 2014 school board meeting to explain what levy options are available to the board. The levy generates approximately $430,000 in annual revenue for the school district.

Due to a change in the way the state allows and calculates school levies the original $650 per resident pupil unit has been modified to the figure of $861 adjusted pupil units which is based solely on the number of students attending Cook County Public Schools. With the legislative changes the board would be allowed to levy as much as $724 per adjusted pupil unit without voter approval. This would generate just over $9,100 in additional revenue.

Another factor in the decision is that Cook County schools receive no equalization aid from the state. Equalization payments are based on a formula of all taxable properties except seasonal, recreational properties in a district and the number of students. Since property values are high in Cook County and the number of students low, ISD 166 is one of two schools in Minnesota that does not qualify for the additional aid. Erickson indicated that part of the reasoning behind the formula is that if you are serving fewer students you should have to spend less than larger schools.

Board member Ed Bolstad stated that he had heard that Cook County has the lowest property tax rate in the state. Erickson clarified that the tax rate percentage is lower because of the higher property values. Another option being considered is to ask voters to approve an increase over and above the $724.

One dynamic being considered by the board is that it did vote to approve an additional property tax levy specifically for the improvements to the parking lot at the last meeting. The board pondered whether it should wait on asking voters to approve even more.