Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Volunteers at First & Second Thrift store earn money for local nonprofits

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 11:20pm

On Wednesday, February 13, the Cook County 
Senior Center was filled with excited representatives from area 
nonprofits. It was time for twice-yearly distribution of profits from 
the First & Second Thrift Store in Grand Marais, which is always a fun
event. Throughout the year, volunteers staff the thrift store and the 
donation center, accumulating hours to be credited toward their 
designated organization. No one is sure just what they’ve “earned” 
until the numbers are tallied and announced at the gathering.  It’s 
always a pleasant surprise for the volunteers and the nonprofit 
organizations to see just how much has been raised.
At the gathering this week, 25 different organizations received a 
portion of the $20,044.75 made at the thrift store from July 1, 2012 
to December 31, 2012. In all 68 volunteers worked a total of 1822.25 
hours! The payout amount for this period was $11 per hour. The payout 
varies depending on store profits and expenses, but since the store 
opened in 2007, local nonprofits have received $$198,214.98.
First & Second is located in the Cobblestone building next to 
Pumphouse Fitness. The store is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and 
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The warehouse for accepting donations of clean, lightly used items is 
located on the south side of the garage behind the Cook County Senior 
Center. The donation center is open Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. 
to 1 p.m.
  If you are interested in volunteering at the thrift store and 
raising some money for your favorite local nonprofit, contact Thrift 

Assessors office request for assistance still under consideration

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 11:17pm

At their Feb. 12 meeting, county commissioners did not 
disagree with the notion that the Assessor’s Office has a lot of work 
to do or that keeping more detailed property records is a good idea, 
but they weren’t ready at their February 12 county board meeting to 
grant Assessor Betty Schultz’s request for a new position in the 
department.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR) requires that counties 
assess at least one-fifth of their properties – called a quintile – 
each year so that all properties get assessed at least every five 
years.  The DOR is in the process of conducting a review of all 
Minnesota assessor offices to gauge compliance.
Cook County has not been able to meet the quintile requirement for 
years, and Assessor Schultz is trying to figure out how her department
is going to do it.  She said the DOR has told her the county must be 
in compliance within five years.  “It’s a serious responsibility,” she 
said.  “Right now we cannot meet the requirements at the current level 
of staffing.”
In addition to increasing the number of assessments the department 
will be doing each year, the county board has authorized Schultz to 
gather more detailed information on all properties and implement a new 
computer system to track that information.
The onsite assessment will involve measuring land elevations, views, 
access, lakeshore footage, roadways, tillable soils, water, sewer, and 
electric utilities, and buildings, including quality, condition, story 
heights, open vault areas, age, decks and porches, differing uses 

Weekend News Roundup for February 16

Sat, 02/16/2013 - 11:02am

Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. A lawsuit to stop the Lake Superior region wolf hunts has been filed. There’s a new mining process being tested, Post Office woes in Duluth and a conversation with Rep. David Dill…all in this week’s news.

Program: 

Attached file

Local Musicians Showcase at Arrowhead Center for the Arts Saturday

Fri, 02/15/2013 - 10:28am

The North Shore Music Association invites the community to 
the 2013 Local Musicians Showcase on Saturday, February 16 at 7:30 
p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts in Grand Marais.
The showcase includes Samuel Black on piano; Jane Howard on piano; 
Pederson & Cora, a folk duo; Kent Johnson, acoustic guitar; Swamp 
Donkey, psychedelic soul-rock and Cook County's Most Wanted, eclectic 
blues and rock.
Tickets are $10 adults, $5 for students 18 and under. The event is 
general seating, for sale at door or www.tix.com (no fees!)

County continues to consider ways to reduce costs at Cook County Family YMCA

Fri, 02/15/2013 - 10:27am

Whether to work out project reductions with the lowest 
bidders on the next phase of the Cook County Family YMCA building or 
to re-bid the work was still in question after a discussion by the 
county board on February 12. Wade Cole of ORB Management brought the
pros and cons to the commissioners after a conference call the day 
before with attorney Ken Donovan.
When the bids for the next phase came in, they brought the project 
cost to $1.96 million over its $9.5 million maximum.  The Community 
Center Steering Committee then came up with a list of how the costs 
could be contained.
Attorney Donavon said there could be a legal risk if the county did 
not re-bid the project. Companies that were not the low bidders could 
take issue with not being able to re-bid when the project was changed 
significantly.
In the conference call, the attorney told the county representatives 
that the need to re-bid or not depends in large part on the extent of 
material changes within the project. Although there is no clear 
definition of when a material change is large enough in scope to 
require a re-bid, Mr. Donovan indicated that a 20 percent scope change
is sometimes used as a general rule.
After discussing the items that could be changed to bring costs down, 
the attorney stated that the risk to the county was ‘not terribly 
high’ and any second low bidder would have the burden of proof of 
showing that the county had not done its due diligence.
Re-bidding the work would put the project behind about six to eight 
weeks, bringing its completion into 2014.
Costs could also increase because of “reimbursables,” extra costs 

PolyMet announces environmental improvements

Fri, 02/15/2013 - 6:56am

PolyMet Mining announced Thursday that it has accomplished “numerous improvements” in solving potential environmental problems at its proposed copper mine and processing plant near Hoyt Lakes.

The Vancouver-based company said the advancements will reduce environmental impacts of the project, help ready its long-delayed draft Environmental Impact Statement for release this coming summer and should help move the project along through permitting and toward construction.

Company officials say the latest advancements include reductions in sulfur dioxide, mercury and greenhouse gas emissions, groundwater seepage containment and all water discharged from the project will be treated using reverse osmosis.