Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

EPA Forms First Advisory Board On Great Lakes Issues

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 3:02pm

CHICAGO (May 31, 2012) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the creation of an advisory board to support federal agencies with the implementation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the updated Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

The new board, the federal government’s first advisory committee on Great Lakes issues, will provide advice and recommendations to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in her capacity as federal Interagency Task Force chair. EPA will consider candidates from a broad range of interests including environmental groups, businesses, agricultural groups, funders/foundations, environmental justice groups, youth groups, academia and state, local and tribal representatives as needed. Nominees will be solicited through a second Federal Register notice in the coming weeks. EPA anticipates that board will be established this summer.

"The health of the Great Lakes affects the health of millions of people. These waters also play a vital role in the historical, cultural, educational and economic progress of this region," said EPA Administrator and Task Force Chair Lisa P. Jackson. “As we work to set a new standard of care for these waters, it's important that we hear from experts and stakeholders who can strengthen our efforts. By providing insight from those who know these waters best, the Great Lakes Advisory Board will ensure the continued success of the work already underway, and help move us into the next phases of Great Lakes restoration and protection."

The Great Lakes provide more than 30 million Americans with drinking water and underpin a multi-billion dollar economy. In February 2009, President Obama proposed and Congress funded the GLRI, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.

The Interagency Task Force is made up of 16 federal agencies and departments. In 2010 they developed an action plan to implement the president’s historic initiative. It calls for aggressive efforts in five areas:

• Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot spot Areas of Concern.
• Combating invasive species.
• Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted runoff.
• Restoring wetlands and other habitats.
• Raising public awareness, tracking progress, and working with partners.

The plan also establishes annual benchmarks for success and progress. For more on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, see 

To view a copy of the Federal Register notice announcing EPA’s intent to establish the advisory board see

Lodging tax revenues for April are mixed

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 12:02pm

Lodging tax revenues for the fourth month of 2012 were down for the most part compared to April of last year county-wide. According to the latest report from the Cook County Auditor-Treasurer’s office, the year-to-date totals were down 2.8 percent across the board for reporting tourism organizations.

Lutsen-Tofte revenues were down 5.2 percent from last April.  Grand Marais revenues however were up 6.6 percent from this time last year. The Gunflint Trail revenues for April were up 4.6 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 April of this year and last year are included in the monthly accounting.

Sled Dogs to Saint Paul movie in the works

Thu, 05/31/2012 - 11:17am
Frank Moe

Back in March, local musher Frank Moe travelled to St. Paul by dogsled, a distance of 362 miles.  When he got there, Moe handed Governor Mark Dayton 13,000 petitions in opposition to copper/nickel/sulfide mining in Minnesota.

Moe spoke with WTIP volunteer Tracy Benson on the Wednesday, May 30th A.M. Community Calendar show about what’s been happening since the journey, and efforts to create a documentary about it - "Sled Dogs to Saint Paul: The Race for Clean Water."

(Click on the "AM Community Calendar" link below to hear the interview.)

Attached file
View more news from WTIP

Climb Theater to perform at Grand Marais Library June 1

Wed, 05/30/2012 - 10:04am

The Arrowhead Library System (ALS) invites you to a delightful performance of “Raven and Grandmother Mouse” by Climb Theater at Grand Marais Public Library, Friday, June 1, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
  “Raven and Grandmother Mouse” is a lively adaptation of the Pacific Northwest folktale about truth and hard work. Children will enjoy seeing the story of Raven, a crafty bird, who wastes away the gathering season dancing while Bear, Squirrel, Beaver and Mouse prepare for the coming winter.  Raven attempts to make up for his laziness by trying to trick Mouse into hosting a party for him to ensure he has food for the winter.  With a live performance and related activities, children 3 - 8 years old will love this program.
Climb Theater is a 2009 winner of The Sara Spencer Artistic Achievement Award
 from the American Alliance of Theatre and Education (AATE). The only other Minnesota theatre to be so honored was the Children's Theatre Company, which won the award in 1979.
Admission to the event is free thanks to sponsorship by the Arrowhead Library System and money from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Aquatic Invasive Species public info session set for June 6

Tue, 05/29/2012 - 12:47pm

A public information meeting to explore the potential impact of Aquatic Invasive Species on the Gunflint Trail region's lakes and fishing will be held at 4 PM, Wednesday, June 6 at the Hungry Jack Lodge.

Minnesota Sea Grant AIS Presentor Marte Kittson will discuss "The Variety and Scope of AIS Impacts for the Gunflint Region."

The meeting is open to the public and it is designed for regional lake and fishing partners who have an concerns and hopes about the control of AIS. The presentation will focus on the AIS in the region, how they are spread and the impact they can have over the long term.

Forrest Parson of Hungry Jack Lodge is providing supper for the participants to give them an opportunity to share stories and ideas. After the meal, Bill Middlefehldt of the Hungry Jack Lake Association and Kittson will lead the participants in a sharing of ideas and possible regional responses.  The meeting is expected to end at 6 PM.

The AIS session is sponsored by Minnesota Sea Grant, Hungry Jack Lodge and teh Hungry Jack Lake Owners Association. More specifics and information are avilable from Ilena Berg at Cook County Soil and Water, 387-3648 or via

County updates junk vehicle ordinance

Tue, 05/29/2012 - 8:17am

The practice of accumulating a car and truck graveyard between one’s 
house and the road may be going by the wayside in Cook County.  Although a junk 
vehicle ordinance has been in place since about 1989, it was never 
documented properly with the state.  On May 22, the county board re-
adopted the ordinance with one small change that could affect a few 
people in the county.
Previously, parking, storing, repairing, dismantling, demolishing, or 
abandoning a junk vehicle was prohibited in lakeshore residential and 
single family residential zoning districts with one exception:  a 
resident could take up to 60 days to repair one inoperable registered 
vehicle.  A junk vehicle included any motor vehicle or trailer 
suitable for use on public thoroughfares that was not in operable 
condition, was partially dismantled, was used for spare parts, or was 
kept for scrapping, dismantling, or salvage.
The change in language added the word “recreational vehicle” to the 
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he thought people should be given 
more than 60 days to repair inoperable vehicles.  Planning Director 
Tim Nelson said his department has only enforced situations in which 
the vehicles had been abandoned or were being used for storing junk.  
The level of staffing in his department limits enforcement, he said, 
so they prioritize what they enforce.  They believe they have been 
“reasonable” with enforcement over the last 20 years, he said, 
although some might think they should be less stringent and some might 
think they should be more stringent.