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News and other information from Cook County

Lake Co. votes down ballot issues

Thu, 11/08/2012 - 7:00am

On Tuesday Lake County voters voted down two measures having to do with construction of a $15 million heat and electricity producing public utility project. One of the measures would have issued general obligation bonds to pay for the project. That measure would have increased local property taxes.

Silver Bay voters elected Joanne Johnson as their new Mayor. She defeated incumbent Scott Johnson by 33 votes. In Two Harbors incumbent Mayor Randy Bolen handily won re-election.

Here in Grand Marais voters returned Mayor Larry “Bear” Carlson to office. Garry Gamble is the new District 2 County Commissioner replacing incumbent Fritz Sobanja. Heidi Doo-Kirk won the District 4 commissioner seat over Rick Austin.

Documentary film "Sled Dogs to Saint Paul: The Race for Clean Water" premiers Friday

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 4:47pm
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"Sled Dogs to Saint Paul: The Race for Clean Water," a documentary film created by local filmmakers Kelly Schoenfelder and Patrick Knight, will premiere with two showings at 6:30 and 8 PM, Friday, November 9, at Betsy Bowen’s What’s Upstairs in Grand Marais.  The film documents the dogsled run of Cook County musher and former Minnesota State Rep. Frank Moe and his 10 sled dogs as they traveled from Grand Marais to St. Paul carrying about 13,000 petition signatures opposing non-ferrous mining in northeast Minnesota. The event is free and open to the public. Betsy Bowen's What's Upstairs is located at 301 First Ave. West in Grand Marais.

 

(Click on the link below to hear an interview with the filmmakers and musher Frank Moe.)

 

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Two new county commissioners elected

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 12:37pm

Although the results were in quite early for the presidential race, it was the wee hours of the morning before Cook County residents heard the results of several local races. .

In the Cook County commissioner’s race, incumbent Fritz Sobanja was defeated by challenger Garry Gamble in District 2. In Commissioner District 4, Heidi Doo-Kirk was elected over Rick Austin.
In the city of Grand Marais, incumbent Mayor Larry “Bear” Carlson was reelected, defeating challenger Adam Harju. Uncontested city council members Tim Kennedy and Jan Sivertson were re-elected. There were 13 write-in votes for city council.
In another race with a challenger, North Shore Hospital Board Member Kay Olson was reelected, defeating challenger Lynn Parish.
Neither school board candidate faced an opponent and Ed Bolstad was elected to District 2 and Lorrinda “Sissy” Lunde was elected to District 4.
Cook County voters followed the national trend and reelected President Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney.

Cook County voters overwhelmingly chose U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar over challenger Kurt Bills. Senator Tom Bakk won reelection in Minnesota Senate District 3 and Representative David Dill was reelected to his District 3A seat.
In the 8th District race, challenger Rick Nolan beat Representative Chip Cravaack.
Cook County voters followed the statewide trend and voted down both the Voter ID and Marriage amendments. 

Cook County had a great turnout at the polls, with 87 percent of registered voters.  Precinct turnouts ranged from 80 percent in Grand Marais East and West to a high of 93 percent in the Gunflint and Maple Hill precincts. 


No rate increases for Grand Marais PUC customers

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 12:08pm

In October, Grand Marais City Administrator Mike Roth presented the Grand Marais Public Utility Commission his budget recommendations for 2013.  He recommended no rate increases and reported that capital improvements funds are healthy.
Helping keep costs down was the fact that the city has not replaced Steve DuChien in the Public Utilities Department after his retirement.  Roth said he would like to see how it goes being down one member of the crew.
No large water infrastructure projects are being planned for the next five years, Roth said, but money is being set aside for a new public works facility that would be used for utility staff headquarters, storage, and working on equipment.
Roth told the PUC board that the wastewater treatment plant is one of the city’s biggest customers.  Its September electric bill was about $6,000.
The sewer fund has about $1 million and the plant is healthy, Roth reported.  The city has not always had healthy fund balances, Commissioner Tim Kennedy said.  “It’s a good position to be in.”
Roth concurred, saying that five years ago, the Utilities Department had no reserve fund.  They could pay cash for projects at this point, but borrowing money is really cheap right now, he said.
Water revenues for 2013 are expected to exceed expenses by $39,385.  Sewer revenues are expected to exceed expenses by $93,790, and electric revenues are expected to exceed expenses by $109,000.
Factors influencing the positive budget figures include reducing staff by not replacing DuChien, refinancing bonds at lower interest rates this year, and Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), the city’s electric cooperative, not increasing its rates for 2013.  SMMPA does expect rates to go up 7 percent over the next three years, however.
The commissioners approved the proposed budget on October 24.

Empty Bowls offers delicious soup in beautiful bowls for a good cause

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 12:05pm

Every month over 100 families in our community experience hunger, for this reason, annually, the Grand Marais Art Colony organizes the Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction, an art-full fundraiser for the Food Shelf. The community is invited to Empty Bowls at the First Congregational Church at 300 West 2nd Street on Thursday, November 8.
There are two seatings—lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and dinner from 5 – 7 p.m. With 18 local restaurants and businesses donating 50 gallons of homemade soups with all the fixings homemade bread, juice, butter and coffee it is assured to be a delicious event. Among the choices are Chicken Wild Rice, Fish Chowder, various stews and chilies, exotic vegetarian/gluten-free soups and more—a little something for everyone!
Over 500 ceramic bowls have been made by potters, community members and youths. The beautiful bowls will be filled with delicious soup made by local restaurants.  Bowls will be refreshed every hour so all attendees will be able to choose a wonderfully unique bowl.
The silent auction with an amazing array of items, including many great gift cards to local businesses and some particularly lovely bowls, will run from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. sharp.
Organizers are looking for a few more volunteers to help with the event on Wed, Nov. 7 between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for set-up and Thursday, Nov. 8 between 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
In 2011, Empty Bowls raised $6,200 which covers about two months of food shelf operating costs. As food prices continue to fluctuate and the need increases, this event continues to be an important part of the food shelf’s sustainability.
For more details about the Empty Bowls event visit: www.grandmaraisartcolony.org/event.cfm?eid=24 or contact the Grand Marais Art Colony at (218) 387-2737 or by e-mail to arts@boreal.org.

Cook County reports high voter turnout

Wed, 11/07/2012 - 10:18am

With many Cook County precincts turning out in the high 80 and 90 percentages, registered voters came out in droves to cast their ballots in all precincts.  They gave President Barack Obama a wide margin of victory over challenger Mitt Romney.

District 2 voters favored Garry Gamble over incumbent Fritz Sobanja for county commissioner, and elected Heidi Doo-Kirk to fill the District 4 position over Rick Austin.

Grand Marais voters returned Mayor Larry "Bear" Carlson to office over Adam Harju.  Uncontested city council members Tim Kennedy and Jan Sivertson were re-elected.

Cook County voters overwhelmingly chose U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar over challenger Kurt Bills and returned Senator Tom Bakk and Representative David Dill to their District 3 and 3A jobs.

In the 8th District race, challenger Rick Nolan beat Representative Chip Cravaack.

Local voters voted down both the Voter ID and Marriage amendments.  Uncontested ISD166 school board candidates Ed Bolstad and "Sissy" Lunde won without competition.  In the only contested hospital board race, Kay Olson won over Lynn Parish.

Cook County had 3,841 voters show up at the polls for a turn-out of 87% of registered voters.  Precinct turnouts ranged from 80 percent in Grand Marais East and West to a high of 93 percent in the Gunflint and Maple Hill precincts.