Around Cook County
The mood and voices in the room were clear on Thursday, March 6—Schroeder township residents were asking to keep their post office open eight hours a day.
But Deb Metzer, Deer River Postmaster, and Jeff Roberts, Blackduck’s Postmaster, were there to tell the 40 or so people on hand for the Thursday, March 6, 2014 evening meeting held at the Schroeder Town Hall that the decision had been made: Schroeder’s post office would drop from eight-hour service to four-hour service, and there was nothing they could do about it except decide what hours they would like to see the doors open for business.
Metzer made that announcement mid-way through the meeting and several people got up and left without saying a word.
“This process began a year and a half ago and there is no way to appeal this decision as far as I know,” Metzer said to Skip Lamb, who asked about an appeals process in light of Schroeder residents largely being kept in the dark about the plans to cutback the service.
“You could have found this online. It’s out there. Sorry you didn’t see it, but anything Congress does is online,” Metzer told Lamb.
The cutback in service was due to a lack of volume in mail and packages seen in Schroeder, said Metzer, saying upper management uses a formula that applies to all post offices nationwide in its decision process.
“It’s not just here or just in Minnesota where this is happening. Rural post offices are going to two-hour, four-hour or six-hour service when cuts need to be made,” Metzer said.
When Cook County assistant planning & zoning administrator Dave Demmer saw some paperwork come by his desk this winter indicating that the Grand Marais Park Board was considering improving and upgrading its public boat landing and the area around it, he thought it would be a perfect time for them to consider restoring some of the former wetlands in the park and he sent a letter suggesting his proposal.
Grand Marais Park Board manager Dave Tersteeg introduced Demmer to the park board at its March 4 meeting and Demmer explained his ideas in some detail.
Demmer talked about potential for coastal wetland restoration to take place when (and if) the city moves ahead to extend the small break wall at the public entrance and enlarge and improve the parking lot and the grounds in the area. The city is looking at partnering with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the work to extend the break wall and improve the current boat launching area.
“The opportunity may exist for the City of Grand Marais to restore coastal wetlands within the Recreation Park,” said Demmer, noting the project would fit with the Park’s master plan and the county’s goal to see wetlands restored whenever possible.
“Moreover, wetland restoration efforts may qualify for wetland credits that the city could sell as profit. This plan could be integrated into the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposal for the water access and include an interpretive boardwalk hiking trail through the coastal wetlands,” he said.
Demmer also said the park’s master plan recognizes and prioritizes, “the function of these coastal wetlands as a means of providing storm water retention and as a natural ‘filter’ to maintain and improve water quality.”
Over the next several weeks Verizon Wireless will be constructing a replacement tower in close proximity to WTIP’s main broadcast antenna above Grand Marais.
To assure the safety of the tower construction workers WTIP will be intermittently reducing our transmitter power -- significantly at times.
Coverage of our 90.7 signal we be reduced during these periods, and may also affect reception of our outlying transmitters in Grand Portage and the upper Gunflint Trail.
A bill declaring the federal Environmental Protection Agency null and void in Minnesota will not get a committee hearing this year.
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, said the bill, HF 3094, was introduced Monday partly in frustration over federal action that could negatively impact the Mesabi Nugget iron plant near Hoyt Lakes
Dill, a co-author on the bill, told WTIP News the bill won’t get a hearing in the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs, because it was introduced too late to meet the House’s self-imposed Friday deadline for bills to clear committees.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, was chief author of the bill. She said EPA standards regarding wood burning stoves was her motivation for introducing the bill. The new EPA standards would require wood stoves to burn cleaner emissions.
Dill said members of the Iron Range delegation decided to co-author the bill over frustration with the EPA’s recent decision to revoke a variance for Mesabi Nugget that allows the plant to release pollutants at levels otherwise above state standards. Dill told WTIP News yesterday, all three DFL Range members have now withdrawn their names from the bill.
The bill “is not going anywhere. But it is a little frustrating when the EPA does this stuff and doesn’t tell us,’’ Dill said.
Environmental groups sued to disallow the variance, and the EPA last week agreed to an out-of-court settlement to withdraw the variance. Mesabi Nugget has asked for a 30-day delay in the EPA’s action.
The county board denied a request from George Wilkes and Virginia Danfelt of the Cook County Local Energy Project for $4,000 to support a part-time coordinator. After the request on March 11 was denied, with only Commissioner Sue Hakes supporting the contribution, Hakes made a motion to contribute $2,000 instead. That motion also failed, with Hakes and Commissioner Jan Hall in favor of the lesser contribution.
The board, which did give CCLEP $4,000 last year, said the donation was not budgeted for and it wouldn’t be fair to other non-mandated organizations who have been instructed to plan for a 5 percent reduction.
Further investigation into the death of a female wolf that recently left Isle Royale National Park for the mainland determined a pellet gun was the cause of death.The wolf’s remains were discovered on the shore of Lake Superior on February 8. The animal had been radio collared at the Park for long-term study by researchers at Michigan Technological University.
Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said this year several ice bridges had formed allowing for what has historically been natural movement of wolves to and from the island in extremely cold winters.
Green said death was caused by a lightweight pellet that traveled between two ribs causing fatal damage. The wolf was not pregnant and has been returned to Michigan Tech for further research.