Around Cook County
At the Feb. 11 meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Wade Cole of ORB Management presented a “close-out letter” detailing the firm’s work on the Cook County Community YMCA project and a list of remaining issues that are being dealt with by contractors.
Items on the list include installation of window tinting film at the pool; adjustment or replacement of shower heads and arms; floor mat placement in the locker rooms; replacement of sauna lights; installation and certification of pool slide railings; adjustment of HVAC controls; and removal of brown streaks on the walls at the pool which Cole said are “a bit of a mystery.”
In addition, Cole said there is a problem with concrete flaking at the ice rink, which can only be solved after the dasher boards are removed, presumably in the spring.
The county board thanked Cole for all of his work and dedication to the project and voted to pay ORB $75,000 from the unallocated 1 percent funds to make up for a $32,253 shortage in the contingency fund and pay unbilled hours which date back to 2012.
The payment leaves just under $400,000 of uncommitted funds remaining from the $20 million total.
Architectural Resources Inc. (ARI) and the Meyer Group both made presentations to the ISD 166 school board on Feb. 6 regarding the expansion of the industrial arts shop and the school bus garage at the school board meeting on Feb 6. Both companies have extensive experience working on the North Shore. The cost for either company to oversee the projects will probably exceed $50,000.
In the end, the board unanimously agreed to pursue the project with ARI. ARI has done about 80 percent of its previous business with educational facilities and also employs its own engineer as well as architects. Meyer Group would have needed to subcontract the engineering portion of the work. Both companies also explained that although it is possible to have the project completed by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year it might be an aggressive goal to achieve.
The industrial arts expansion project is expected to cost about $750,000.
Every community offers opportunities and challenges. This Wednesday evening there’s a chance for West End folks to gather for discussion. North Shore Morning host Jana Berka learns more from director Patty Nordahl.
The Birch Grove Foundation and Tofte Township will host a "West End Community Conversation" on Wednesday, February 19, at Birch Grove Center. All are invited to share ideas and experiences about opportunities of and challenges to Cook County’s West End. A chili and salad dinner will be offered from 5:45 to 6:20 pm. The community conversation will take place from 6:30 to 9 pm. More information and reservations are available from Patty Nordahl at 663-7977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aerial moose survey results for 2014 show no significant change in Minnesota’s moose population even though more animals were seen than last year.
Results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial moose survey place the 2014 statewide moose population estimate at 4,350. The 2013 estimate was 2,760 but due to variability in the estimates, this year’s estimate does not represent a statistically significant change.
“The higher estimate this winter likely is related to ideal survey conditions rather than any actual increase in the population,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “This year’s heavy snows across northeastern Minnesota made it comparatively easy to spot dark-bodied moose against an unbroken background of white.”
Cornicelli said this year’s estimate is very close to the 2012 estimate of 4,230, which suggests that last year’s estimate may have under-counted the population.
That long-term trend shows Minnesota’s moose population is continuing a significant downward trend. Even with this year’s higher population estimate, the number of moose is about half of 2006’s estimate of 8,840.
No final decision about moose hunting will be made until after the DNR consults with the affected Chippewa bands in the 1854 Treaty ceded territory of northeastern Minnesota. The DNR suspended the season in 2013 because of last year’s low population estimate.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will hold a public meeting in the Cook County commissioners room on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. to get the public’s input on a proposed quarantine “for the restricted movement of certain articles at risk for spreading gypsy moths.”
For decades the MDA has been tracking and treating gypsy moths in Minnesota, but in 2013 a record 71,258 moths were captured, with 90 percent of those located in Cook and Lake County.
In an effort to slow the spread of the voracious little leaf-eating moths, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has proposed a quarantine on “regulated articles” for Cook and Lake.
Regulated articles include logs, pulpwood, bark and bark products; trees and woody shrubs with roots (nursery stock) and trees without roots (Christmas Trees), mobile homes and any other articles that may spread gypsy moths to non-infested areas.
All of these products would have to be inspected and certified before being shipped, and during certain times of the year sawmills would have to process wood bought from quarantine areas within five days.
According to Lucia Hunt, gypsy moth unit supervisor for the MDA, the quarantine is designed to limit the movement of high-risk materials but, at the same time, provide options for transferring products like logs pest-free without restricting the sales or purchase of these items.
“There are no restrictions on moving regulated articles within the quarantine area,” said Hunt.
A public meeting to discuss the future of the Birch Grove Community Center will held at Birch Grove on February 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Currently the building houses the Birch Grove Community School, a daycare center, the Saplings preschool program, kindergarten, senior programs and lunch, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, the Lake Superior Youth Hostel, and is a designated emergency shelter.
In the past Birch Grove has hosted exercise classes, karate classes, dance, and any number of businesses have rented space in the facility.
Outdoors there is skating rink, tennis, a wood fired pizza oven, a playground and a greenhouse for the public.
The town of Tofte owns the Birch Grove facility. Funding for all of these programs and activities is always an issue, so ideas to help along these lines will be appreciated, said Tofte Supervisor Paul James.
“We’re looking for people to come and give us their vision of what is important to them. What do they see for the future of Birch Grove? What is the best way to go forward? And we would like to enlist more volunteers, get more people involved,” said James.