Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

City agrees to proceed with litigation regarding pool contract

Sat, 05/19/2012 - 7:15am

Grand Marais city councilors voted 4-1 May 9 to pursue 
litigation against the Wisconsin firm, Burbach Aquatics. The action, 
if successful, will allow the city to participate in ongoing efforts 
to construct a community center.
An action for declaratory judgment will be filed by Flaherty & Hood, 
the city’s legal counsel, seeking relief against Burbach Aquatics 
Inc. The firm has alleged that, based on a 2005 contract it signed 
with the city regarding possible repair or replacement of Grand 
Marais’ municipal swimming pool, a breach of contract will exist if 
the city takes part in construction of a new community center or any 
facility that includes an aquatics center, and does not utilize 
Burbach’s services. Because of those legal threats, the city has not 
taken part in any planning sessions regarding the community center.
The resolution not only states that the city disputes Burbach’s 
claims that any action means a breach of contract, but it affirms the
city’s “desire to support the Cook County community center’s 
future operations and maintenance…in an annual amount not to exceed 
the $156,000 average annual net operating loss the city incurs in 
operating and maintaining the city’s municipal swimming pool.”
It was that part of the resolution that caused some discussion. Mayor 
Larry Carlson said he was not comfortable including the $156,000 
figure in the resolution. He said, “This says we support construction 
of a community center, and I don’t. I’m not in support of this,” 
he said.
Councilor Tim Kennedy said the resolution is designed simply to move 

Forest Service to implement campfire restrictions in the BWCAW

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 5:57pm

In light of continued dry and windy conditions, the U.S. Forest Service will implement campfire restrictions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) on the Superior National Forest.

Beginning Saturday, May 19, 2012, campfires, charcoal or wood-burning camp stoves will be allowed only between 7 pm and midnight within the entire BWCAW. 

Use of gas and propane cook stoves is allowed at any time of day.

For details regarding current conditions on the Superior National Forest, please check with one of the Forest offices or visit the Forest web site at:

In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources administers fire restrictions for lands other than national forest system lands.  For information regarding State restrictions and policy, check the Minnesota Interagency Fire Information Site:

Fire officials add a few other reminders for campfires.
* Use only a designated fire ring.
* Don’t have a fire if it too windy or if high winds are predicted.
* Clear flammable materials from the area up to five feet from the fire.
* Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby.
* Stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire.
* Make sure fire is completely out, cold to the touch, before leaving it unattended.

Suppression continuing for Highway 1 fire at southern edge of Ely

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 12:01pm

 Highway 1 Fire Update

May 18, 2012

From the Minnesota Incident Command System

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Highway 1 Fire was started by a snapped power line that created multiple fires at approximately 1:30 pm on 5/17/12. It is being managed in two divisions and is on both sides of Highway 1 about a quarter mile south of Ely. The southeastern portion of Ely was evacuated along with residents along Highway 1. The Ely residents were allowed to return home by evening. Those residents along Highway 1 were escorted by the St. Louis County Sheriff to briefly access their property and get pets and needed supplies.

A Verizon cell phone tower and both Lake Country Power and MN Power had affected equipment which caused a loss of cell phone coverage and the local radio station, WELY, was unable to transmit.
No homes were damaged however three outbuildings were confirmed lost.

ACTIVITIES TODAY: Aultman’s Type 2 Team A assumed command of the Highway 1 fire as of 0600 on 5/18/12.

CLOSURES: A closure remains in place along Highway 1 from Ely to approximately the Ely Airport.

SAFETY: Notice to Airmen 05/003 heightened caution of aerial firefighting operations within 5 nautical miles of Ely Airport. Please stay clear.


CAUSE: Suspected downed power line

CURRENT SIZE: 216 acres

LOCATION: One quarter mile south of Ely along Highway 1

UNIFIED COMMAND: Forest Service, St. Louis County Sheriff, City of Ely Police and Fire Chiefs, Town of Morse Fire Chief

SMOKE CONDITIONS: South winds will blow smoke into Ely. Density will change throughout the day.

RESOURCES: Two helicopters and various other aircraft will be utilized. CL215s are available if needed. Fire fighters will be continuing suppression work throughout the fire area. Ely and Morse Township fire departments are assisting with structure protection.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: For additional information, please visit any of the following sites:

Cutworm egg masses showing up in our region

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 11:17am

The mystery of the yellow egg masses showing up on screens and windows throughout the area has been solved.

Cook County Extension Officer Diane Booth confirmed this morning that the eggs and tiny larvae probably belong to the variegated cutworm or Peridroma saucia (PERRY droma saw cee ya). People should remove the eggs from wherever they find them as soon as possible.

The Ashland Daily Press reports there also is a variegated cutworm invasion along the South Shore of Lake Superior and in northern Wisconsin. The worms will pupate into the adult form of cutworm moths.

The Daily Press says the current flight of cutworm moths that laid the eggs probably flew into our region from the South with the help of prevailing winds.

The best action to deal with the egg masses is to wash them off surfaces with pressure washers or garden hoses.

Emerald ash borer trapping under way

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 9:51am

Workers with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) ventured into the woods in April to hang thousands of traps across Minnesota in the hunt for emerald ash borer (EAB).
Approximately 6,500 purple detection traps will be placed throughout the state in the search for EAB. This is about 2,000 more traps than hung in 2011. The trap is a three-paneled purple prism placed in an ash tree. A lure inside the trap smells like a stressed ash tree to the beetle. Once EAB is drawn to the purple detection trap, a sticky layer on the outside of the trap holds the beetle until MDA’s trappers can return and check for the insect.
Preliminary estimates show 51 traps will be placed in Cook County.
The main purpose of the survey is to detect new areas of infestation that should be quarantined to prevent spread from the area. When an area becomes quarantined, it is illegal to move all hardwood firewood and ash wood out of the quarantine boundaries.
Traps will be placed in areas identified by a risk-based model developed by the United States Department of Agriculture. If required, EAB traps may be placed on private property. Citizens are asked not to disturb traps. “This trapping survey is one of the few options we have for detecting EAB,” said Geir Friisoe, MDA’s plant protection division director. “That’s why it is so important that the public leaves the traps as they are so we can collect accurate and useful results.”
The emerald ash borer is an insect that attacks and kills ash trees. The adults are small, iridescent green beetles that live outside of trees during the summer months. The larvae are grub or worm-like and live underneath the bark of ash trees. Trees are killed by the tunneling of the larvae under the tree's bark.

Aquatic invasive species program -- education course now required

Fri, 05/18/2012 - 9:47am

A slate of new laws designed to curb the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) was approved in a recent bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
A program requiring watercraft owners to place an AIS rules sticker on their boats is being discontinued and replaced with an online education program. Watercraft owners will no longer be required to place on their boats the rectangular, silver and black decals, which include a summary of the state’s AIS laws. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began distributing the decals earlier this year and will continue to give them to interested boat owners for informational purposes only.
A new law, which goes into effect 2015, will require anyone who transports watercraft or water-related equipment with a trailer to complete an online education course. After completing the course, the person will receive a decal that must be placed on their trailer, certifying they have taken the course. People taking the course can receive extra stickers if they own or use multiple trailers for watercraft or water-related equipment.