Around Cook County
Each year during Fisherman’s Picnic, School District 166 offers tours of the Grand Marais campus. Alumni and community members are invited to see the changes that have taken place over the years. This year, in addition to the campus tour, the school is giving the public the opportunity to learn more about the planning underway for the Cook County Community Center. Plans currently call for the community center/aquatics facility to be attached to the west wing of the Grand Marais school.
Tours will be offered at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, August 2 -3. Anyone wishing to join the tour is asked to meet at the main high school/middle school doors, the “Eagle” entrance.
People with questions about the community center process are invited to visit with steering committee members at the Jane Mianowski Conference Center(JMCC) from 2- 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. The JMCC is at the Community Education (old gym) entrance to the school.
Participants can take the tour or learn more about community center planning—or both.
Plans for the Cook County Family YMCA, as the new community center is currently being called, continue to move along. At the July 24 meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, consultant Wade Cole of ORB Management reported that last year’s expenditures totaled just under $500,000, leaving about $9 million for the rest of the project, which includes the building and amenities inside it as well as recreational amenities on county property adjacent to Cook County High School, such as a new ball field and hockey rink.
Commissioner Sue Hakes, on the Community Center Steering Committee, said they’ve been trying to cut expenses whenever possible. They scaled back on the roof system, so it won’t have a rounded roof to match the school gymnasium roof that will be incorporated into the new facility. Putting more money into the amenities inside the building was more important, she said.
The plan is now within the parameters of the budget, Cole said, so they can start the more detailed design process.
The project will require the removal of a silo and a concrete block building behind the school at a cost of $25,000-$30,000, Hakes said. Commissioner Fritz Sobanja said the agreement with the school to replace its west wing with the new community center should include a statement requiring the school to pay for the demolition if the community center project does not go forward.
An invitation for bids on the hockey rink is going out, and bids will be accepted until August 27. Cole said he anticipates seeing the completion of the community center by September 2013.
Obtaining enough biomass from the forests of Cook County would be possible if a biomass heating plant were built for the bulk of the public and commercial buildings in Grand Marais. This was the word at an update on a study funded by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for Cook County and Ely held July 10, 2012 at the U.S. Forest Service in Grand Marais.
Howard Hedstrom, president of Hedstrom Lumber of Grand Marais and on lumber industry boards at the state and national level, said the pulpwood industry—which manufactures paper—is on the decline, and new markets are needed for the wood in Cook County. If it isn’t harvested, it will rot and die. He said a lot of the big logs leaving the woods are hollow in the middle –all rotted out.
Dennis Becker of the University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources, one of the study’s researchers, had good news: new markets are looking for clean wood chips. He is expecting the logging industry to respond by re-tooling for this new market, and the equipment they will be using could also be used to supply biomass for a local biomass plant.
According to the study, when the cost of the system is spread out over 20 years, a district wood-chip-fueled heating plant for the public buildings along Fifth Street in Grand Marais, the North Shore Dairy and Laundromat, and the courthouse would cost less within the first year—including payments on the system and the price of the biomass fuel --than the current cost of fossil fuel. “The annual fuel costs savings are so substantial, in fact,” said Becker, “that it’s enough to cover the annual capital investment of a new heating system for the public buildings in the first year….”
Parents of high school athletes and athletes themselves are reminded to take care of participation fees and eligibility forms before the season starts on Monday Aug. 13.
ISD166 Athletic Director Pam Taylor will be in the athletic office Monday Aug. 6 thru Thursday Aug. 9 from 4 to 6 p.m. to collect forms and fees and answer any questions about participating in Cook County Athletics.
Lodging tax revenues for the sixth month of 2012 were up compared to June of last year county-wide. According to the latest report from the Cook County Auditor-Treasurer’s office, the year-to-date totals were up 3.8 percent across the board for reporting tourism organizations.
Lutsen-Tofte revenues were up 1.4 percent from last June. Grand Marais revenues were up 11.8 percent from this time last year. The Gunflint Trail revenues for June were up 6.2 percent.
The Auditor’s office emphasizes that not all businesses report taxes at the same time each year and revenues are an “apples-to-apples comparison.” That means only businesses which reported lodging tax revenues both in June of this year and last year are included in the monthly accounting.
A “Water Contact Not Recommended” advisory has been issued by the Minnesota Department of Health today for Kadunce Creek Beach.
The beach is located at Kadunce Creek picnic area north of Grand Marais, on the north-west side of the Kadunce Creek mouth.
Elevated E. coli bacteria levels identified from samples collected yesterday indicate the possible presence of fecal contamination. The beach is scheduled to be re-sampled later today.
Another elevated E. coli advisory has been issued for Agate Bay Beach in Two Harbors. It too is scheduled to be re-sampled today.