Around Cook County
The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked "to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” Each year since its inception in 1952, the president has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Community members are answering the call on May 1 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on the Cook County courthouse steps.
One of the citizen organizers Rae Piepho said everyone is invited to come for the observance to take advantage of the Constitutional right to pray at this public gathering. Piepho said all are welcome to pray for our nation at the event dubbed "One Voice, United in Prayer."
For nearly 20 years, local non-profit ISP Boreal Access has been connecting people in Cook County to the internet and giving them daily news and events through its community-supported homepage. Now that Arrowhead Electric is bringing broadband connection to the county, Boreal's role in the community will change. Jack McDonnell speaks on how Boreal got started all those years ago, how it evolved over time, and what's coming up next.
Sharon Bloomquist, Arvis Thompson, and Lisa Bloomquist were at the Tuesday, April 8 Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting to explain their new venture, Oddz & Endz. Thompson said they represent a team of people who have formed a nonprofit organization to operate a “repurpose, reuse or recycle retail store.”
Thompson said, “We see ourselves as taking what people don’t need—furniture, lawn mowers, small appliances, etc.—and finding a home for these things.”
“We want to take that coffee table that looks like a rat trap and turn it into something you would like to see in your living room,” she said.
And similar to the 1st & 2nd Thrift Store, volunteers will do the work, earning money for a community nonprofit of their choosing.
Oddz & Endz will be housed in the former Howling Wolf Saloon (which has also been home to a bowling alley, Gunnar’s bar and restaurant, and most recently the temporary home of the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op.)
It is hoped that the building will also rent space for fledgling businesses to offer services and merchandise, as a business incubator of sorts, explained the group. Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux is spearheading that effort.
To open the doors, the group must be granted a conditional use permit. They are on the agenda of the Cook County Planning Commission on Wednesday, May 14 at 5 p.m. at the Cook County courthouse.
Rena Rogers, the county’s new information systems/communication director came before the county board on April 22, 2014 with three requests.
Rogers first asked the board to approve spending $899.10 to purchase an eLearning license. The contract will run one year and provide more than 3,000 online classes for IT staff.
Rogers said, “IT departments have an almost continuous need for training to keep pace with technology changes. The cost for a 3-5 day training class including travel expenses, for one individual can easily exceed $5,000,” Rogers said.
In addition to cost savings associated with staying at home, Rogers said she and her staff can learn at their own pace as well as receive training for new projects.
Second on her list was a request for $9,752.24 to purchase 10 workstations and two laptops at a cost of $2,649.58. This is a scheduled expenditure as work stations are replaced on a four-year schedule.
And last but not least, Rogers asked that a new central server room, co-located with the IT staff, be built at a cost of $31,943.42.
Rogers said benefits of this move include significantly enhancing the physical security of IT assets, increasing the operational efficiency by locating the equipment near the IT staff, and significantly improving environmental controls by limiting traffic in the server room which improves system reliability.
The project consists of converting a current supply room into an up-to-date server room.
Brian Silence, county maintenance director, presented estimates for the project with a total for construction of $11,395. The cost of replacing switches, panels and cables will cost $20,548.42.
The board approved Rogers’ three requests. Preconstruction on the server room will begin April 30, construction on May 10, and the project is scheduled for completion on June 30.
At the April 8 meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, former EDA board member, Commissioner Bruce Martinson told the board that he had continued following the affordable housing issue and he had an idea. Martinson said he would like to see another project like the 2002 Fredenberg Creek development in Schroeder.
The Fredenberg Creek development came about through a collaboration of the Schroder township which acted as developer; LTV Mining, which donated the land; and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) which provided money for infrastructure such as roads, septic and power. The township held a lottery for the developed lots and Martinson said seven of the eight lots now have homes for Schroeder residents.
“I’m looking at trying to repeat that,” Martinson told the EDA.
To discuss this, and other housing ideas further, Martinson said an an informational meeting on affordable housing and buildable lots will be held on Tuesday, April 29 at Lutsen Resort at 7 p.m.
An 11-mile stretch of Highway 61 located in Lutsen was included in the $1.1 billon 2014 Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) road and bridge construction bill recently passed by the legislature.
All told there will be 308 projects funded under the bill, 74 in the Twin Cities and 194 projects in Greater Minnesota with an additional 40 projects aimed at improving safety at railroad crossings, and making improvements to runways and terminals at regional airports.
Plans are to have the Lutsen section of Highway 61 resurfaced along with replacement and repair of Babineau Creek and Spruce Creek bridges, and culverts replaced where needed. The work is scheduled to last from May to October with lane closures controlled by signals or flaggers.
The cost of the project is $6,142,556.
“I thank the dedicated construction workers and engineers who are doing this important work, and urge Minnesotans to drive safely in construction zones,” said Governor Mark Dayton after signing the bill.