Around Cook County
Every year at this time, the county board considers its options for the upcoming budget year. The county board has been meeting with all department heads, something that consists of meetings spread out over several weeks.
The county will be facing many challenges, including health insurance increasing 9.9 percent, and property/casualty and worker’s compensation insurance will each increase about 6.5 percent.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue determines the county levy limit, which they should have done by September 1, so commissioners will learn what can be levied at the next county board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers told the board at the August 27 meeting, “We’re very strong overall,” in regard to its fund balance and financial position going into the next budget year in 2014.
This past weekend’s beautiful weather could come at a price. It’ll turn wet for the next couple of days, even the possibility of some hazardous weather. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist Mike Stewart about rainy days ahead.
Good things come in threes! This year North House Folk School is celebrating three days of craft and three nights of music at Unplugged XII, Sept 12-15 in Grand Marais. For the third year in a row, the folks from West Virginia’s Mountain Stage Radio Show will be welcomed to campus.
For the last two years Mountain Stage Radio has been a dynamic addition to the Unplugged event. The radio show records two live shows on Thursday and Friday nights, which are broadcast nationally during the following year. Thanks to the support of the Cook County Visitor’s Bureau guests can again enjoy three inspiring nights of music.
Thursday and Friday nights feature 25- to 35-minute sets from each of the performers with a grand finale “everybody on stage” song to close the evening. By contrast, the classic Unplugged concert on Saturday night employs a more informal “songwriter in the round” format in which performers take turns sharing stories, music and bantering on stage.
Unplugged concert performers this year include Tom Paxton, The Pines, BoDeans, Dead Man Winter, Jill Sobule & Julia Sweeney, Jonathan Brown featuring Andrew Walesch, Lori McKenna, Matraca Berg and Jon Vezner. There are three opportunities to take music coursework with performers during the event: Jonathan Brown will host a half-day fingerstyle guitar workshop, Larry Groce offers a half-day listening session, and Tom Paxton, Matraca Berg and Jon Vezner are collaborating to offer a two-day songwriting workshop.
Out of School Adventures, a free program that runs Mondays through Fridays from 3:35-5:15 p.m. for students in grades 1-8, starts Sept. 9.
A one-time registration is required; the September calendar and registration information was sent home with first- through fifth-grade students during the first week of school. A current calendar and registration information can also be found on the Community Education website.at http://www.cookcountyschools.org/se3bin/clientgenie.cgi .
Participants meet in front of the school (eagle doors), then go to the planned activity at 3:45 p.m. Activities are mostly for first- through fifth-graders but older students are welcome to join. Activities include a variety of indoor, outdoor and community related activities.
Middle school students are also welcome and could be helpful with activities, homework help or just enjoy a fun and safe place to be after school. The program will be based out of the Community Center Log Cabin this fall but will be transitioning to a new space soon.
Contact Melissa Wickwire at 387-2000 with questions.
The program is sponsored by Community Education, Cook County Extension, Kids Plus and Cook County Community YMCA.
Linda Jurek Kratt, recently hired to serve as the Cook County Visitors Bureau (CCVB) executive director, may be familiar to North Shore residents and visitors. It may be because she grew up in Grand Marais, graduating from Cook County High School in 1978. She still has a lot of friends here, but Kratt may seem familiar because her career has made her a well-known figure in the region’s tourism industry.
Kratt comes to the CCVB after six very successful years as the director of business retention and events with the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. If you think you may have seen her on Duluth television, you very well may have. She often represented the chamber on programs related to business in Duluth. She hosted the popular “Forum” series, which invited stakeholders in the economy of Duluth to discuss the important issues of the day. And she hosted events for up to 1,100 people.
Before working at the Duluth Chamber, she worked at Miller-Dwan Medical Center for 17 years, the last five years as the development specialist for the highly successful Miller-Dwan Foundation.
Although her work at Miller-Dwan kept her busy, Kratt found time to venture into business development. She was involved in the start-up of Diamond Willow Assisted Living, partnering with a family member and eventually selling her shares in the company. She is still involved in a family-run 80-site campground and resort on Island Lake outside of Duluth.
Kratt sees those business ventures as assets in her new role as CCVB executive director. “I’m not just looking at the marketing and tourism side of things. I can relate to the concerns of business owners as well,” she said.
The Cook County North Shore Hospital & Care Center board continues to pursue the possibility of remodeling and upgrading the facility. On August 22, 2013, Administrator Kimber Wraalstad told the board about a study that showed that finances had improved for critical access hospitals after undergoing facility upgrades. Revenue outpaced interest and depreciation, the number of staff per patient decreased, and quality outcomes were higher.
Wraalstad said she had been soliciting input and suggestions from department heads regarding the proposed remodeling of the hospital and care center.
Wraalstad showed the board a slide of the general floor plan she was proposing. It had a central entrance for visitors, outpatients, and emergency room patients facing the original hospital parking lot between the hospital and the care center. It also included an operating room and the infrastructure necessary to provide chemotherapy.
Some services, such as cataract surgery, could be offered quarterly, Wraalstad said. A general surgeon had called her, offering to work at the hospital part-time, she said, but she could not take him up on his offer because the present facility does not have a required scrub room next to what could be an operating room.
Board member Tom Spence said the proposed floor plan, which makes use of the current building footprint while also including an addition, looked “chopped up” like the facility is already. He said he thinks they are dealing with “a dinosaur.” He suggested that an architect be employed to start them in the right direction.