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News and other information from Cook County

DNR seeking volunteers to monitor loons

Wed, 06/05/2013 - 8:58pm

Volunteers can help Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists discover the major cause of death of the common loon by collecting dead loon specimens for testing. This statewide study to find answers about loon mortality is being conducted by the DNR’s nongame wildlife program.
“Small studies have been conducted in the past, but they were limited to looking for high mercury concentrations,” said Kevin Woizschke, DNR nongame wildlife specialist and loon watcher coordinator. “This new statewide effort will help answer the big question of what kills our loons. Minnesota’s loon population is about 12,000 birds and the numbers appear stable, but there are still questions about loon mortality.” 
The nongame program is asking for help in collecting loons that recently died with no signs of decomposition or obvious predator trauma. Visibly rotten loons should not be collected.  To collect a specimen for testing, use disposable gloves to put the dead loon in a plastic bag. To reduce disease risk, try to avoid bare-handed contact when handling dead animals. If gloves are not available, turn a plastic shopping bag inside out and scoop up the specimen with the bag.  Place the specimen in a freezer as soon as possible. If a freezer is not available place the specimen in a cooler, surrounded by ice. It is important to deliver the specimen as soon as possible to a local DNR office.  All loons need to be labeled with the name of the county, lake, nearest town where it was found, along with person’s name, address and telephone number.
For more information or to locate the nearest DNR officer, call DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367.

Historical Society offering Saturday walking tours

Wed, 06/05/2013 - 4:32pm


The Cook County Historical Society is offering two guided walking tours of Grand Marais harbor through the summer.  

The tours were created by Harbor Friends, with funding from Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program, and adapted with permission by the Cook County Historical Society for use in their present programming.  

Two tours will be offered - a Lighthouse Point Guided Tour at 11:30 a.m., followed by a West Beach Guided Tour at 1:00 p.m.  More information from the Historical Society at 387-2883.
(Click on AM Community Calendar link below to hear an interview with tour guide Molly Hoffman)

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New segment of Gitchi-Gami State Trail opens

Wed, 06/05/2013 - 9:12am

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Gitchi-Gami Trail Association held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Silver Bay yesterday to celebrate the official opening of a new, 2.3-mile paved segment of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail on the North Shore of Lake Superior. 

From the Rukavina Arena in Silver Bay, the new trail segment runs south across Northshore Mining property and continues to the east end of West Road in Beaver Bay. Continuing south, bicyclists and other trail users can follow the gravel West Road for a half mile to connect with the longest paved section of the trail, the 14.6-mile segment from Beaver Bay to Gooseberry Falls State Park.

More than 28 miles of the trail are complete in six segments. The Lutsen Phase 1 segment, to be completed in 2013, will add another 1.1 paved miles to the trail.

When complete, the trail will extend 86 miles from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.

New principal selected for ISD 166

Tue, 06/04/2013 - 3:51pm

Twenty-seven community members and school representatives spent Saturday, May 18, 2013 interviewing five candidates out of a field of 16 for the Cook County High School 6th-12th grade principal position that is being reinstated next school year.  By Monday, May 20, ISD 166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz announced on the school’s facebook page that Adam Nelson, a social studies teacher at Red Wing High School, had been offered and conditionally accepted the job.
In a special meeting on Thursday, May 30, the board voted to hire Nelson on a one-year probationary contract at a salary of $78,000 plus benefits.  His duty year will be 210 days (the equivalent of 42 weeks) with up to 15 paid-time-off days for sickness and/or other approved uses.  He will be moving here with his wife and baby girl and will start working full-time in August.

Community input taken on concept of county administrator

Tue, 06/04/2013 - 3:50pm

About 20 people gathered at the Cook County Community Center on May 22, 2013 to talk about what a county administrator could contribute to Cook County government.
Community member Jim Boyd shared his thoughts on the matter, saying that while additional government doesn’t always save money, it improves both services and efficiencies.  “You get more bang for your buck,” he said.
You don’t have a school without a superintendent or a company without a CEO, Boyd said.  “Your staff deserves one boss and right now they have five,” he said to the four county commissioners at the meeting (Bruce Martinson, Garry Gamble, Heidi Doo-Kirk, and Sue Hakes).
Another community member, Myron Bursheim said he thought the county has done a great job with its resources, but he added that he thinks the county needs an advocate inside the courthouse.  Consultants aren’t necessarily looking out for the best interests of the county, he said.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said, “We need the right person, that’s for sure.”
He said one thing he was looking for was consistency in departmental reviews.  When commissioners each conducted employee reviews on different department heads several years ago, their reviews seemed really inconsistent, he said.
Community member Mike Carlson wondered how insulated a county administrator would be from public criticism.  Commissioner Gamble said people skills would be important for the person in this job.  “The primary role of an administrator, as I see it, is making people better,” he said.  “A person like that should be above the fray…because you’re not going to please everybody.”

Gogebic starts test drilling

Tue, 06/04/2013 - 8:32am

Exploratory drilling into the largest deposit of iron ore in North America could begin as soon as Saturday in northern Wisconsin’s Penokee Range.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, Gogebic Taconite filed a notice of intent to drill with the Department of Natural Resources in a letter dated Friday. Department of Natural Resources waste management director Ann Coakley said GTAC can start drilling five days after they get the notice, and they received the notice Monday.

Eight holes, one in Ashland County and seven in Iron County, will be drilled this month. Coakley said the DNR will keep an eye on the operation with unannounced spot-checks.

The bore holes will be 350 to 1,143 feet deep. The 2-inch holes will gather data on the layers of rock, the quality of the iron ore and the chemicals in the ore body.