Around Cook County
As of Thursday, July 19, the Water Contact Not Recommended advisories issued this week for the Grand Marais Campground and Harbor Beaches have been lifted.
According to Cook County Soil and Water, sampling takes place weekly at 12 locations in Cook County, including the Grand Marais Harbor beaches, Chicago Bay boat launch in Hovland; Paradise Beach, Kadunce Creek, Durfee Creek in Colvill, Old Shore Road, Cutface Creek Wayside Rest; Temperance River State Park, Schroeder Town Park and Sugarloaf Cove Beach in Schroeder. Currently, there are no Water Contact Advisories in effect for Cook County.
For questions about safe water recreation or contact, visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s web site at www.MNBeaches.org.
School board establishes committee to negotiate school, county agreement on community center facilityTue, 07/17/2012 - 10:59am
The School District 166 School Board had two topics on its agenda for the special meeting on Tuesday, July 10. The first was to look at preliminary drawings and to talk to Architect Dan Miller about what a community center and aquatics facility connected to the west end of the Grand Marais campus would look like. The second was to decide who would negotiate with the county and the YMCA on the agreements that need to be settled before the project moves ahead.
During the meeting, school board members and Superintendent Beth Schwarz considered sketches on paper and digital floor layouts on a large projection screen simultaneously reviewed by Miller at his JLG Architects office in Alexandria. There were a couple of breaks as the school board put Miller on hold and left the Jane Mianowski Conference Room to look at the actual spaces being discussed.
There was heated discussion regarding the possible expansion of the Industrial Arts area. Miller said that idea had not been fully developed, but gave a “very rough” cost estimate of $180 per square foot for a 2,000-square foot space or approximately $360,000. “But that conversation needs to take place between the steering committee and the county,” said Miller.
Steering Committee Chair Paul Sporn was in the audience and he spoke up, “The steering committee has decided that Industrial Arts is not part of the community center project. A couple of us came up with the idea of working on the industrial arts area, but this is really a school issue.”
School Board Member Leonard Sobanja cursed and expressed his frustration at what he said was another delay to improvements to the industrial arts program.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners has joined the City of Grand Marais in adopting an energy plan, but it didn’t come easy for the committee that has been working for months on the project.
At the July 10, 2012 county board meeting, George Wilkes of the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) reminded the board that the energy committee formed under a grant with the county’s blessing had presented the plan in June, telling the board it had wide acceptance, and then Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. Member Services Director Joe Buttweiler spoke up with objections to the plan. “It was a bit embarrassing,” he said.
Buttweiler’s name had been on the energy plan committee roster, and he had emailed concerns to CCLEP before they went before the board. A face-to-face conversation didn’t happen, however. “It turned out to be mostly a communication failure,” said Wilkes. The committee met with Buttweiler and AECI Executive Director Jeanne Muntean and came to agreement on some wording changes.
The changes mostly involved acknowledging that an opinion survey of local residents was small and represented only a rough estimation of public opinion and changing some wording to say that local utility companies would be encouraged to “consider” rather than “adopt” policies encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy development.
WTIP’s Youth Radio Project is hosting its first-ever call-in program and they need your participation! Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about how today’s young people are different than the generations before them. Some people say young folks today are spoiled, entitled or feel too “special.” Others say it’s not their fault. Tune in for a special call-in edition of The Youth Show this Thursday, July 19th at 5 p.m. In the second half-hour, they’ll be hosting a discussion on the youth of today. Do you think today’s young people are entitled? Spoiled? Something else? WTIP’s Youth Radio Project wants to know what you think! Call 387-1070 or 1-800-473-9847 during the program to
share your perspective. You can learn more about this Youth Radio Project effort by listening to last week's discussion.
Photo courtesy of Pfau via Flickr.
Pincushion Mountain Overlook in Grand Marais is one of the most picturesque locations on the North Shore. Unfortunately, this beautiful place has become infested with an invasive plant called St. John’s Wort. You can help remove these invasive plants during a public weed pull event on July 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.
St. John’s Wort is a perennial herb with several 1- to 3-foot-tall semi-woody stems containing clusters of yellow star-shaped flowers. This species prefers poor, sandy, dry soils with full sun and has been found on several rocky outcroppings in northeastern Minnesota.
Volunteers are needed to hand pull and bag St. John’s Wort and seed the area with a native wildflower mix, and are asked to bring work gloves (some will be provided).
To get to Pincushion Overlook from Highway 61 in Grand Marais, drive 2.5 miles north on the Gunflint Trail (Cook County 12), then east on the Scenic Overlook Road to parking. The event is sponsored by the Cook County Invasive Team. For more information contact Michael Lynch at (218) 387-3772.
Cook County Commissioner Sue Hakes wants members of the public to feel welcome at county board meetings, and she wants to hear what they have to say. On Tuesday, July 10 the board adopted guidelines for the public comment period, held near the beginning of the meeting, after some discussion of what those guidelines would be.
At a previous meeting Commissioner Hakes had volunteered to draft wording for the guidelines. She said she used the word “welcome” intentionally. Her proposal addressed how long a speaker could speak and how long the comment period would last as well as how the board would respond to issues put before them.
The commissioners discussed the wording of the policy, including how much dialogue they wanted to allow between the public and the board during this portion of the meeting. County Attorney Tim Scannell said the public comment period had been created to give the public opportunity to bring issues to the board that the board could put on its agenda for later discussion. Lance Johnson of Lutsen suggested that a policy like this could have a “chilling effect” on people wanting to speak to the board. “I think it runs counter to open and transparent proceedings,” he said. “I think this is a bad idea and I think you should throw it out the window.”
“Lance, I think you have some good points there,” said Commissioner Fritz Sobanja. He pointed out that citizens can contact their commissioners to express concerns as well. “Give them a call to see how they can help you,” he said. He stated that sometimes people come to county board meetings to make disparaging remarks about the commissioners during the public comment period, and then the newspaper puts it in the paper so they can “sell more papers.”