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News and other information from Cook County

Weekend News Roundup for March 22

Sat, 03/22/2014 - 9:10am

Each week the WTIP news team puts together a roundup of the week's news. A dead wolf, oil pipeline hearing and fuss over the EPA: this and much more…all in this week’s news.


Attached file

National Park says Isle Royale wolf killed by pellet gun

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 3:23pm

The National Park Service has issued results of the necropsy performed on the Isle Royale wolf that was found dead in Grand Portage in February. Veterinarians in Colorado determined that the wolf died after being shot with a pellet gun.

National Park Service Chief Veterinarian Margaret Wild said, “If the pellet had hit just a half inch to the left or right, the outcome may have been less significant.”

Isle Royale Superintendent Phyllis Green noted that interaction between wolves and humans is rare, but can be a problem, especially if homeowner’s pets are being threatened.  If the wolf or wolves can’t be scared away, the National Park Service recommends that people contact their local Department of Natural Resources and make sure to obtain proper permits or permission in dealing with a nuisance animal before taking aggressive action.

Green said, “No matter how collared wolves die, citizens who inform local authorities of their location help us gain knowledge that may help us manage wolf/human interactions in the future.”

She added, “The citizens who let us know where this wolf died have helped us obtain the final chapter for this wolf, and we thank them.”

Biomass district heating not feasible without state bonding support

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 3:22pm

The city’s financial consultant told Grand Marais City Council on March 12 that although there was some interest shown by prospective financial backers contacted about a proposed $10 million biomass district heating project, the undertaking isn’t feasible without state bonding bill support.

Nick Anhut of Ehlers Inc. presented the findings of a report requested by the city council in January.

Anhut said that five of the nine firms his company contacted indicated an interest in financing the project, but noted that underwriting details would need to be worked out; the other four firms indicated that the project was either too small or too specialized for them to underwrite and market to investors.

He said it was clear that state bonding bill support is vital to the project’s feasibility, because financing providers will execute bond issues only when they know all other funding sources are in place.

City Councilor Tim Kennedy, who has been working on the heating plant proposal with the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP), agreed that it was imperative for the city to secure some type of grant or a place on the governor’s priority list for the project to succeed. But he noted that local legislators David Dill and Tom Bakk have said they wouldn’t support the plan until the details were in place. Kennedy called it a “chicken or egg” situation.

In a related matter, the city council supported by a 4-1 vote a request made by George Wilkes of CCLEP to help fund a part-time CCLEP coordinator at a cost of $2,000, the same amount the city contributed last year. Mayor Larry Carlson cast the lone dissenting vote.

Theater Sports at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts Friday

Thu, 03/20/2014 - 9:53am

What sports season comes between basketball and baseball? Theater sports! This Friday, March 21, seniors will compete on stage at 7 p.m. in the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. You’ll want to get a seat early for this ever-popular event, now in its ninth season. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.

The competition can get a little crazy, but for a great cause:  the College Literature class’s annual spring theater trip to the Twin Cities. This year we’ll see both Rain and Othello.

Coached by Michael McHugh, Theater Sports is improvisational theater with a competitive sports angle. In a typical match, two teams challenge each other, react to a surprise command, and count on the audience to judge them. In addition to suggesting wacky scenes for the teams to enact, a few brave audience members may wish to take the stage and compete also!

 Theater Sports teams include Thomas Anderson, Jessica Berg-Collman, Joe Borud, Anna Carman, Joey Chmelik, Sarah Deschampe, Cy Fortunato, Jonny Jacobsen, Charlie Lawler, Megan Lehto, Shannon O’Phelan, Breana Peterson, Melanie Stoddard, Abby Sutton, and Seth Warren.

Hours to be reduced at Schroeder Post Office

Thu, 03/20/2014 - 9:46am

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.

Grand Marais Park Board considers coastal wetlands restoration

Thu, 03/20/2014 - 9:44am

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.”