Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

City and union nearing agreement on position for former lifeguard

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 12:43pm

A long-running dispute between the city of Grand Marais and its labor union came a step closer to resolution May 14 when city councilors approved a memorandum of understanding and a grievance settlement that will allow former head lifeguard Charles Christiansen to resume his employment with the city – albeit in a different position.

However, the actions do not necessarily mean an end to the sometimes-contentious situation – union members still have to approve the agreements in an as-yet unscheduled meeting.

Christiansen, who worked for the city for 20 years before being laid off when the municipal swimming pool was closed in January, invoked his union right to continue employment with the city in another position. Since then, the city and representatives of AFSCME Local 66 have been talking back and forth about possible solutions, including Christiansen’s right to bump another employee with less seniority, award him a vacant position, or create a new job tailored to his abilities.

It was the latter option that council decided on.

The memorandum of understanding spells out the duties and job description of a property maintenance laborer, and adds that position to the streets department. The union approved the terms of the new job only the night before council’s approval. Councilor Bill Lenz, who was a member of the city’s negotiating team, said the job was created with Christiansen in mind. “It’s an area in which we can use someone 12 months of the year,” he said. “It just made sense.”

Mayor Larry Carlson said the union was not interested in such a position a month or two ago, but members have since changed their thinking. At council’s prior meeting, union representatives appeared before council to ask that Christiansen be given the vacant parks facilities manager.

Plants and pancakes at Great Expectations School Saturday

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 9:37am

Are you looking to stock up on locally grown annuals, perennials, vegetables, and herbs for your garden this year?

It is likely Great Expectations School (GES) has what you are looking for! The annual greenhouse sale and pancake breakfast will be on Saturday, May 17 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the school, on the corner of the new Gunflint Trail and East Fifth Street.

Some of the annuals offered for sale are ageratum, alyssum, aster, bacopa, bee balm, begonia, coleus, cosmos and geranium.

In the herb category, there are basil, chives, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint and oregano. There are also vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes and cauliflower.

Also available are perennials such as blazing stars, carpet bugle, columbine, delphinium and hollyhock.

For more information contact the school at (218) 387-9322.

Survey: Child Care Needs in Cook County

Fri, 05/16/2014 - 9:13am

WTIP volunteer Mark Abrahamson spoke with Kristin Blomberg from Public Health and Human Services and Emily Marshall from the YMCA on North Shore Morning.  

Cook County Public Health and Human Services and the Cook County YMCA are collaborating on identifying child care needs and solutions.
Everyone is welcome to give input through a survey; the survey deadline is June 15th.  

And registration is open for an infant & todler summer child care program.  More information from the Y at 387-3386.



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Scarlet Rivera and Gene LaFond to celebrate Bob Dylan's birthday at GunFlint Tavern

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 9:11pm


Bob Dylan’s birthday is May 24, and what better way to celebrate it then to come and listen to one of his former band mates play music at the GunFlint Tavern on that blessed date.

Scarlet Rivera became famous playing violin in Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Thunder” caravan in the early 1970s. She played on 10 songs on Dylan’s iconic “Desire” album and then, after a couple of years, began performing on her own.

Still playing with as much skill and passion as ever, Rivera joins Twin Cities singer/songwriter Gene LaFond on May 24 at the GunFlint Tavern to help celebrate Minnesota’s favorite son’s birthday.

Gene LaFond grew up in the Twin Cities and was in high school during the big folk boom of the late fifties and early sixties. In that time there were beatnik hangouts and coffee houses seemingly everywhere in this northern area. LaFond and his friends would often go listen to a young Bob Dylan at a place called The Ten O'clock Scholar, a coffeehouse near the University of Minnesota.

LaFond eventually met Dylan, through their mutual friend, Larry Kegan. LaFond and Kegan followed Dylan on his “Rolling Thunder Review” days and became friends with Dylan’s musician friends, such as Ramblin' Jack Elliott, G. E. Smith, Neil and Pegi Young and Scarlet Rivera.

Rivera is something of a rock legend herself. A classically trained violinist who grew up in Chicago, she left college after a year and half and moved to New York, falling in love with the gypsy lifestyle. She even changed her name from Donna Shea to Scarlet Rivera.

Local Music Project: Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 2:35pm

This edition of the Local Music Project features long time Minnesota music makers Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling.  Rich and Germaine reside in Sparta, Minnesota where Rich runs his recording studio Sparta Sound.  The duo performs together throughout the region regularly including frequent visits to Cook County.  

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Additional streetlight considered for South Broadway in Grand Marais

Wed, 05/14/2014 - 6:18pm

Bruce Block of Sydney’s Frozen Custard asked the city council on Wednesday, April 30, what it would take to get a street light installed near his business on South Broadway. Block said there is a need for a light there due to the amount of pedestrian traffic in the area, and said he’d consider putting up a light himself but it would look better if the light was of the same style as existing poles.

City Administrator Mike Roth said there is no policy for where the city decides to put street lights. Roth said, “It’s “whatever council says.”

Roth was asked to research if it’s possible to add another light to the system, and if so, what the cost would be.