Around Cook County
Grand Marais city councilors have set April 11 as the day on which a public hearing will be held to consider an annexation request which, if approved, may pave the way for a very interesting project – the construction of a zip line near the city’s west entrance.
The site in question is a 5-acre parcel at 1800 W. Highway 61 (near the Grand Marais Inn, formerly Tomteboda) which is currently zoned R-1. To accommodate the zip line, the owners are asking that the zone district be changed to R/C (Recreation-Commercial). And because the parcel lies outside of the city limits, it would have to be annexed in order for the city to change the zoning.
City Administrator Mike Roth explained at council’s Feb. 29 meeting that a public hearing regarding the annexation has to be held after all adjacent owners and the county have been given 30 days notice. Council then has to vote approval of the proposed annexation and notify the state, which must grant final approval.
It was decided that council’s April 11 meeting was the soonest the public hearing could be scheduled without holding a special meeting.
Upon completion of the annexation and rezoning, HRH Highway 61 and Matt Geretschlaeger are proposing to construct two 1,000-foot-long side-by-side zip lines, which will start from a six-story launch tower and have a 15-story descent.
It is hoped the enterprise, which is touted as the first high-speed zip line in Minnesota, will be up and running this summer. The design and construction of the project on the currently vacant lot will be done by Geronimo Construction of Biwabik.
According to the application submitted by Geretschlaeger, the project will require a minimum of 16 new employees, which may expand to 24 as the market develops.
More than 1 million people residing in more than 400,000 households in Minnesota rely on private wells as their source of drinking water. While wells can provide high quality drinking water, state health officials observe that most wells are rarely tested on a regular basis for things that can make consumers of the well water sick, such as bacteria, arsenic, or nitrate.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) estimates that at any given time, as many as 25 percent of private wells in Minnesota have detectable levels of total coliform bacteria, an indication that surface contamination has entered the well or water system.
National Groundwater Awareness Week was established more than two decades ago to bring attention to the important role that groundwater plays in the health and well-being of people. Properly maintaining wells that tap into groundwater is critical for protecting personal health and the health of the resource. This year’s observance, March 11-17, is a good time for well owners to put “Test Well” on their “to-do” list, say state well management specialists.
MDH recommends that private wells be tested once a year for total coliform bacteria, an indicator of bacterial contamination. Testing for nitrate is recommended every two to three years – more often if nitrate has been detected previously in the well or if an infant under the age of six months will be consuming the water. I n addition, MDH recommends that every well be tested for arsenic at least once.
Getting wells tested is a relatively simple process. The local county health department may provide or arrange for testing services. Commercial (or private) laboratories providing water testing services are usually listed in the Yellow Pages under “Laboratories – Testing.” The laboratory will provide directions for collecting and submitting water samples for testing. The costs for analysis are usually in the range of $20 to $40 per test, depending on what is tested. More information on well testing can be found at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/test.html.
People with questions about well water contaminants – or other well related issues – can obtain advice from MDH, local health departments, or local MDH-licensed well contractors. Well specialists are available to answer questions at MDH district offices in Bemidji (218-308-2100), Duluth (218-723-4642), Fergus Falls (218-332-5150), Marshall (507-537-7151), Rochester (507-206-2700), St. Cloud (320-223-7300), and the Twin Cities (651-201-4600).
Photo by Martin Cathrae via Flickr
The West End Townships of Lutsen, Tofte, and Schroeder held their annual meetings and elections last night. In Lutsen, 118 votes were cast. Ginny Storlie was elected to fill the Supervisor seat vacated by Diane Parker. Parker stepped down after two 3-year terms. Storlie won over Alta McQuatters and write-in candidate Larry McNeally. Two candidates were vying for the Town Clerk position in Lutsen. Coming out on top was Sylvia Duclose, winning over Gail Thompson.
In Tofte, 17 votes were cast. Incumbent Township Supervisor Paul James was re-elected along with Town Clerk Barb Gervais. The races were uncontested.
And in Schroeder, 36 votes were cast. Deb Johnson was elected to fill the seat vacated by Ross Wilson, and Doug Schwecke is the new Town Clerk – taking over from longtime clerk Carol Tveekrem. Tveekrem served 13 years as Schroeder Town Clerk and was honored during the meeting for her service to the Township.
The Cook County Community Center Steering Committee met with
Chris Francis, CEO of the Duluth Area YMCA, on February 29. The
steering committee has been investigating the possibility of the YMCA
operating a community center facility built and owned by the county.
YMCAs are 501(c)(3)s independently owned and operated in each
community. There are almost 1,000 YMCAs operating at about 3,000
different branches. The Duluth Y is one of the 300 biggest, with
about 7,500 members and annual revenue of about $5½ million.
The cost of membership in a YMCA is lower than the cost of operating,
Francis said. Because of this, fundraising is ongoing to help pay for
programming and to help fund those in need. Members often get a
discounted fee at Ys other than the one they belong to, and nonmembers
can pay a daily rate to use YMCA facilities such as pools.
An endowment of about a million dollars would be needed to get started
and a foundation would need to be established, Francis said., adding,
“There’s just all kinds of potential opportunities we could look at.”
Not many new YMCAs are created nowadays. Most new facilities are
branches attached to already established Ys, and this is what the
Duluth Area Y would expect if it became involved in building a program
in Cook County. Local YMCAs pay dues to be part of the national
The monthly birthday party will be celebrated on Wednesday,
March 14 to honor Gertrude Scott, Dorothy Mottl and Audrey Haring.
Cake and ice cream will be served at 2:30 p.m. with piano music
performed by Doug Sanders. Some students from the After School Lounge
Program will join us for bingo after the party, too.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who continue to work at the Care
Center during the winter months. The daily activities and special
music really make a difference. For more information about activity
programs or volunteer opportunities, contact the Activity Department
at (218) 387-3518 or go to the www.nshorehospital.com.
Once again, science, religion and politics have become entwined in a thorny public policy debate. This time it’s about wolves.
Specifically, a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature to authorize a hunting season on wolves. The State Senate has approved it, and the Assembly is set to consider the bill today. A similar hunting bill is currently being considered by Minnesota legislators.
Though supported by hunters and politicians on both sides of the aisle, wildlife biologists have a number of criticisms and suggestions about the bill involving how, when and how many wolves should be killed.
However, The New York Times reports the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Game Commission, which represents 11 tribes of the Ojibwe in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, opposes the hunt on the basis of religious principle and tradition.
In written testimony presented to both legislative houses, James Zorn, the executive administrator of the commission, said, “In the Anishinaabe creation story we are taught that (wolf) is a brother to Original man. The health and survival of the Anishinaabe people is tied to that of (wolf).” For that reason the tribes are opposed to a public hunt.
Court settlements on treaty rights mean that the tribes must be consulted about decisions like the wolf hunt. The Indian Fish and Game Commission says they were not.
Joe Rose Sr., a professor emeritus of Native American studies at Northland College in Ashland, Wis., and an elder of the Bad River Band, put it this way: “We see the wolf as a predictor of our future. And what happens to wolf happens to Anishinaabe. Whether other people see it or not, the same will happen to them.”