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News and other information from Cook County

County Highway Department conducts sale of surplus equipment

Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:02pm

The Cook County commissioners have authorized the Highway Department to sell 14 pieces of equipment, including three pickups, three plow trucks, a loader, a forklift, and some pickup tool boxes.  Maintenance Supervisor Klegstad said he thought they could get $150,000-160,000 for it, and the money would be used to purchase equipment in the future.
The equipment will be put out for bid on the state’s Fleet & Surplus Services website.  Highway Accountant Lisa Sorlie said they have the right to refuse a sale if the bid isn’t high enough. 
Klegstad said they have a minimum price set for a 2009 plow truck.  He said they expect to get $70,000 for it, whereas they expect only $20,000-27,000 for the 2000 and 2003 plow trucks.  When asked why there were getting rid of such a new vehicle, he said it gets 1 m.p.g. when plowing, whereas the other plows get 5-6 m.p.g.  Repairs on the truck have already totaled what they paid for the truck, he said.  “It’s a very nice truck,” he said, however.  He said it is much more modern than the others.  It has been used as a spare, but Klegstad said it would be more valuable if they sold it.

Fire restrictions lifted

Thu, 08/29/2013 - 9:49am

After the rain in Cook County last night, the U.S. Forest Service has lifted the fire restrictions that were to go into effect at 12:01 this morning. Campfires are now permitted.

 

Be on the lookout for Japanese knotweed

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 1:51pm

Invasive Species Coordinator Angelique Edgerton of the Cook County Invasive Team has confirmed the presence of Japanese knotweed in the county. A day after the Duluth News Tribune published an article about Japanese knotweed, Edgerton said she was contacted by a resident who thought she had some knotweed on her County Road 8 property.
“I went up to her place and found the plant, and sure enough, it is Japanese knotweed,” Edgerton said. “I think we have more of this around than we might realize, and I think people should be aware of the risks associated with some of these plants that may be growing in their yards.”
This plant is not regulated in Minnesota, but is invasive and can spread and quickly colonize riparian areas. It can spread by seed, rhizome, or shoot fragments, and its roots and shoots can break through asphalt and concrete.
The County Road 8 reporting was the first in the county, said Edgerton. “It is in St. Louis and Lake counties, but prior to this was not officially known in Cook County,” she added.
According to Edgerton, Japanese knotweed is a shrub-like perennial herbaceous plant that has smooth, hollow stems that grow annually to be over 10 feet tall. The plant identified in Cook County was about 10 feet in height. The roots can grow down to about 9 feet, one of the factors making this plant challenging to remove. The leaves are alternate, broad, and oval, and are quite large – around 6 inches long by 4 inches wide. It flowers in late summer (it has not flowered here yet this year) and produces green-white blossoms that grow in clusters. It reproduces by seed, root rhizome growth, and shoot or root fragment.

School District 166 invites parents and students to Back to School Orientation Thursday

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 1:50pm

Parents and children are invited to School District166’s Back to School Orientation on Thursday, August 29.  The event will be open from 3:30-7:30 p.m.
Over the summer the school has undergone many transitions. School offices have moved, new classrooms created, new paint graces the walls, new lockers have replaced old lockers, and of course the work on the Cook County Community YMCA goes on as well.
All kindergarten through 12th grade teachers will be on hand and in their classrooms to answer questions. The grade school and middle/high school offices will be open for making payments, getting forms and staff will be available to answer questions.
A panel of administrators will give a preview of the coming year and be on hand to answer questions at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts (ACA) from 4 p.m.-4:40 p.m.
A meeting for middle and high school parents will be held in the ACA from 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 5:45 p.m. to 6:52 p.m. students and parents can follow the student’s seven-period schedule by participating in seven-minute classes with three-minute breaks. Classroom teachers will provide overviews of their class’ curriculum, expectations, and hopes for the year.
Shake those summer blues and come out to the orientation. School begins the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, September 3.
Get ready for fun, because school is coming quicker than you think!

County 1 percent sales tax for recreation and infrastructure is up

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 1:49pm

The Cook County 1 percent local option sales tax for recreation and infrastructure continues to bring in more each year since it was started.  In the first six months of 2011, it brought in $433,206.98.  In the first six months of 2011, it brought in $474,637.62.  In the first six months of this year, it brought in $523,814.42, a 10.4 percent increase over the first half of last year.
Cook County’s lodging tax saw a 9.3 percent increase in the first six months of 2013 over the first six months of last year.  Different areas of the county are faring differently, however.
The Gunflint Trail Tourism Association saw a year-to-date decrease of 1.2 percent from last year, but the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association saw a year-to-date increase of 3.6 percent and the Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association saw a year-to-date increase of 12.7 percent.

As holiday weekend approaches, fire danger increases

Wed, 08/28/2013 - 11:32am

Drier weather means increased fire danger and the Labor Day holiday calls for increased vigilance. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Tofte-Gunflint fire officer Patty Johnson about current small fires and impending fire restrictions.

Check out the pdf file above to see a map of the Knife Lake fire.

Attached file
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