Around Cook County
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Regulators have postponed voting on a plan for reducing haze over the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board was set to vote Tuesday on whether to send the plan to federal regulators. But the Star Tribune reports the plan was criticized by eight of the 12 organizations that testified, and one mining company said new the emissions limits might force it to cut production.
The board will take it up again next month. In the meantime, MPCA staffers will negotiate with Cliffs Natural Resources, which told the board its taconite plant in Hibbing would have trouble complying.
Environmental groups, as well as the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, say the plan won't cut haze enough.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will offer a limited bulls-only moose hunt next fall, and is closing two hunting zones in the Northeast because of a declining population.
The state's moose population has dropped by half in the past five years, and officials say the animal could be gone from the state in 20 years.
Researchers say the limited kill by hunters isn't the cause of the decline and closing the season won't stop the downward trend.
An aerial moose survey this winter showed a population of 4,230 in northeastern Minnesota, down 14 percent from last year. The population was 8,840 as recently as 2006.
DNR officials say if they stopped the season this year, it wouldn't stop the decline in the population. The bull-cow ratio is sufficient to ensure that all cows can be bred. Hunters killed only 53 moose last season and wolves do not appear to be responsible for long term herd decline. Just 11 collared moose were taken by wolves since 2002.
Officials say the majority of mortality appears to be related to disease and parasites.
Tuesday’s announcement means Minnesotans who want to hunt bull moose this fall can apply for 87 available licenses starting Monday, April 2.
Eleven of the of the 87 available permits will be offered first to hunters who were selected in last year's lottery but opted not to hunt because of hunting access issues caused by the Pagami Creek Fire.
The moose season will open Saturday, Sept. 29, and conclude Sunday, Oct. 14.
Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB)
Commissioner Tony Sertich is holding a series of 10 listening sessions
for the public across the agency’s service area this spring. Two of
the sessions are on the North Shore.
“As we plan our future investments, we want to gather input on how we
can better assist business, community, and workforce development in
northeastern Minnesota,” said Sertich.
These sessions are being hosted by the mayors, school superintendents,
and chamber of commerce leaders in the communities. Each listening
session will begin at 5:30 p.m. Sertich will speak for about 30
minutes, followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer period. Members
of the IRRRB Development Team also will be on hand during and after
the sessions to visit with businesses looking to expand.
The Cook County listening session will be held at the courthouse on
Wednesday, March 28.
In Lake County, the session will be held March 29 at the Law
Enforcement Center in the courthouse.
The results of a patient satisfaction survey taken at North
Shore Hospital in the fourth quarter of 2011 are in, and they show
responses close to state and national averages.
At the February hospital board meeting, Administrator Kimber Wraalstad
said that small rural facilities generally do better than large
hospitals. She said she believes this is “because you’re taking
care of your friends, family, and neighbors.”
Twenty patients out of the 68 admitted during the quarter returned
surveys, and 61 percent of the respondents were female. There were
interesting responses on how well doctors and nurses listen to
patients, on how well pain is controlled and so on.
On a scale of 0-10 with 0 being “worst possible” and 10 being
“best possible,” 85 percent of the respondents gave North Shore
Hospital a rating of 9 or 10. The state average is 71 percent,
Wraalstad said, and the national average is 68 percent.
As ice-out begins and waters warm, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is announcing seasonal closures that protect fish spawning areas.
Five waters in Cook County are closed to the taking of all fish during specified time periods.
The channel between Little Gunflint and Little North Lakes on the Minnesota-Ontario border is closed to fishing from April 1 to May 30.
The Cross River inlet to Gunflint Lake from the Gunflint Trail to Gunflint Lake is closed to fishing April 1 to May 25, as is the area from Sea Gull Lake through Gull Lake to Saganaga Lake north of the narrows.
The Saganaga Falls area on the Minnesota-Ontario border where the Granite River enters Sag Lake is closed to fishing April 1 to May 31, as is Northern Lights Rapids on the Malign River on the Ontario side of Sag Lake.
At the county board meeting on Tuesday, March 20, there was discussion about the price of security—and about the importance of peace of mind for employees at the Cook County courthouse. In light of the December 15, 2011 shootings, the county board agreed to hire consultant Steve Swenson, director of the Center for Judicial and Executive Security of St. Paul, to conduct an assessment of overall courthouse security and make recommendations regarding “strategic gaps” in security.
Since the shooting, all but the main west door of the courthouse have been locked, and security cameras have been mounted throughout the building. A security committee was formed and has recommended numerous initiatives to increase safety.
The assessment by Steve Swenson will examine not only the physical layout of the building but policies, procedures, and plans currently in place. The estimated $5,000 cost will include two visits: three days on the first visit to inspect the site and conduct interviews and two days on the second visit to go over findings and answer questions from county officials.
In the meantime, the county board authorized the installation of a bullet-resistant glass enclosure outside the county attorney’s office. The glass wall and door will be installed in the alcove outside the county attorney’s office just to the right of the doorway leading into the back of the courtroom. Visitors to this suite will get buzzed in by staff.
County Attorney Tim Scannell said this is what many other county attorney offices have in place. The employee office areas in the Public Health & Human Services Department have had a similar secure entrances for years.