Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Revised ISD166 School Calendar is WTIP’s First Thursday topic

Wed, 05/02/2012 - 5:16am

The ISD166 school board has voted to try a different calendar for the 2012-13 school year. Cook County Schools – and consequently students at Great Expectations – will experience longer days, a number of four-day weeks and some combined additional vacation times. The administration says the move saves money and improves instruction.

If you have kids in school, what do you think?
Join Jay Andersen with WTIP’s First Thursday Community Conversation on May 3 for “Hybridizing the School Year.”

Each month we choose a topic for discussion, invite guests into the studio and invite you to join in the conversation. This month our guests include Superintendent Beth Schwarz, Great Expectation’s Administrator Peter James, teacher and union representative Mitch Door and you. Join the conversation by calling 387-1070 or 800-473-9847. Our email address is

 “Hybridizing the School Year” -- First Thursday Community Conversation, 6 to 7 p.m. May 3rd. Only on WTIP North Shore Community Radio.

County denies new 1 percent sales tax requests

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 3:21pm

With $1.7 million of the county’s growing 1 percent 
recreation and infrastructure sales tax revenue still uncommitted, new 
groups are coming forward with requests for the county board.  On 
April 24, two groups were sent away empty-handed after the board 
refused to make any promises for the balance of the $20 million (plus 
the cost of bonding) that can be collected in coming years.

Cook County Mountain Bike System
Tim Kennedy and Mark Spinler of the Superior Cycling Association asked 
two things of the board:  to make an application for funding from 
Minnesota’s Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program on behalf of the 
association and to consider using 1 percent funds for a 25 percent 
match on a grant of up to $500,000.  This would amount to $125,000 or 
6¼ percent of the $20 million.
Tim Kennedy told the board that areas in the region that have invested 
in single-track mountain bike trail systems are seeing significant 
increases in visitors, and those visitors tend to be prosperous.  He 
cited statistics showing the average mountain biker’s household 
income to be $94,000.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he could support committing $50,000 
of 1 percent funding for the project. “It would have been nice to 
designate it from the start,” he said.
However, such a motion was not made. The county board passed a motion 
supporting the association in an application for Legacy funds but made 
no commitment of funds.

Mandatory training for Lake Service Providers May 3

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 3:17pm

Lake Service Providers are required by law to attend Aquatic 
Invasive Species (AIS) training and obtain the permit prior to working 
in waters of the state.  For their convenience, a training session is 
scheduled in Grand Marais on May 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 
Cook County Community Center. Lake Service Providers should act now 
and be sure to attend the training session and obtain a permit before 
performing work this spring.
  Irrigation contractors who install/remove lake pump equipment and 
pond aeration equipment are considered Lake Service Providers - along 
with those who install/remove other water-related equipment (docks, 
boats, etc.) that is capable of containing or transporting Aquatic 
Invasive Species (AIS), aquatic plants, or water from Minnesota lakes, 
streams and rivers.
  State laws passed in 2011 aim to help prevent the spread of AIS 
between waters in the state.  They also require service providers to 
apply for a permit, pay the $50 application fee, attend training in 
person and pass a test. Upon completion of all mentioned tasks a 
permit will be issued to the service provider.
  Through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural 
Resources (DNR), Minnesota Waters is conducting statewide trainings 
for businesses that install and remove water recreation equipment. The 
training sessions provide the information needed to understand and 
pass the required test. In addition, service providers are taught how 
to integrate AIS prevention strategies into their business.
Information about the service provider training and permitting can be 

Lodging tax revenues for March are mixed

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 11:16am

Lodging tax revenues for the third month of 2012 were relatively steady compared to March of last year county-wide. According to the latest report from the Cook County Auditor-Treasurer’s office, the year-to-date totals however, were down 4.4 percent across the board for reporting tourism organizations.

Lutsen-Tofte revenues were down 6.2 percent from last March and an improvement over February.  Grand Marais revenues were up 3.4 percent from this time last year. The Gunflint Trail revenues for March were up 1.3 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 March of this year and last year are included in the monthly accounting.

Mining meeting scheduled in Duluth

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 6:30am

People with questions on proposed copper mining in Northeastern Minnesota may be able to get answers Wednesday night at Concordia Lutheran Church in Duluth.

The event includes some of the biggest players in the mining debate, including Brad Moore, a vice president for PolyMet Mining. Co.; state Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul; Larry Kramka, director of the Lands and Minerals Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; and Scott Strand, executive director of Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

The Duluth McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America is sponsoring the event, which was moved to the larger church when the group’s usual meeting site, Hartley Nature Center, appeared too small to handle the expected crowd.

Wine/cheese/chocolate tasting party at North House to benefit Whole Foods Co-op

Mon, 04/30/2012 - 10:12am

Ernie Ashcroft will host a wine/cheese/chocolate tasting party from 7 to 9 p.m. May 9 at the North House Folk School. Proceeds from the ticket sales go to the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op Building Expansion Fund.
Participants will be guided through a wide range of red wines, paired with delicious organic cheeses and fair trade chocolates. Learn from fellow tasters, and make new friends who share your interest in wine, all the while supporting the Co-op Expansion Building Fund.
Advance tickets are $45 each and may be purchased at Cook County Whole Foods Co-op during normal business hours. Tickets may be purchased the evening of the event at $55 each. Participants must be 21 or older to attend the event.