Around Cook County
There were a few finishing touches to be done on the newly
renovated Lutsen Town Hall, so Lutsen supervisors convened the
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 meeting one last time in town’s old meeting
space. Along with usual monthly business, the town board talked about
parking and considered rental prices and policies for the new town
It was noted that with more space for people, more space for vehicles
is needed. Treasurer John Groth said a citizen had asked if the ball
field fence could be removed and parking extended to the east. The
cost to extend the parking lot would be $21,000 for an area 80’x90.’
To add an additional space of 24’x50’ for overflow would be $27,000.
It was agreed to discuss this at the upcoming annual meeting, on March
Supervisor Ginny Storlie shared a draft rental policy, but said she
had heard from current users of the hall, asking if their rate could
stay the same. The board agreed to give the group that currently meets
at the hall the same rate for a year, to be reconsidered after that.
Otherwise, the town board is considering charging $50 for a group of
25-50 people or $100 for 51- 100 people.
The next town meeting will be held in the newly expanded town hall
space on February 19 at 7 p.m. Prior to the regular monthly meeting,
the town board will hold its annual board of audit at 5:30 p.m. and
then a budget meeting at 6 p.m.
On Wednesday, February 13, the Cook County
Senior Center was filled with excited representatives from area
nonprofits. It was time for twice-yearly distribution of profits from
the First & Second Thrift Store in Grand Marais, which is always a fun
event. Throughout the year, volunteers staff the thrift store and the
donation center, accumulating hours to be credited toward their
designated organization. No one is sure just what they’ve “earned”
until the numbers are tallied and announced at the gathering. It’s
always a pleasant surprise for the volunteers and the nonprofit
organizations to see just how much has been raised.
At the gathering this week, 25 different organizations received a
portion of the $20,044.75 made at the thrift store from July 1, 2012
to December 31, 2012. In all 68 volunteers worked a total of 1822.25
hours! The payout amount for this period was $11 per hour. The payout
varies depending on store profits and expenses, but since the store
opened in 2007, local nonprofits have received $$198,214.98.
First & Second is located in the Cobblestone building next to
Pumphouse Fitness. The store is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The warehouse for accepting donations of clean, lightly used items is
located on the south side of the garage behind the Cook County Senior
Center. The donation center is open Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m.
to 1 p.m.
If you are interested in volunteering at the thrift store and
raising some money for your favorite local nonprofit, contact Thrift
At their Feb. 12 meeting, county commissioners did not
disagree with the notion that the Assessor’s Office has a lot of work
to do or that keeping more detailed property records is a good idea,
but they weren’t ready at their February 12 county board meeting to
grant Assessor Betty Schultz’s request for a new position in the
The Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR) requires that counties
assess at least one-fifth of their properties – called a quintile –
each year so that all properties get assessed at least every five
years. The DOR is in the process of conducting a review of all
Minnesota assessor offices to gauge compliance.
Cook County has not been able to meet the quintile requirement for
years, and Assessor Schultz is trying to figure out how her department
is going to do it. She said the DOR has told her the county must be
in compliance within five years. “It’s a serious responsibility,” she
said. “Right now we cannot meet the requirements at the current level
In addition to increasing the number of assessments the department
will be doing each year, the county board has authorized Schultz to
gather more detailed information on all properties and implement a new
computer system to track that information.
The onsite assessment will involve measuring land elevations, views,
access, lakeshore footage, roadways, tillable soils, water, sewer, and
electric utilities, and buildings, including quality, condition, story
heights, open vault areas, age, decks and porches, differing uses
Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. A lawsuit to stop the Lake Superior region wolf hunts has been filed. There’s a new mining process being tested, Post Office woes in Duluth and a conversation with Rep. David Dill…all in this week’s news.
The North Shore Music Association invites the community to
the 2013 Local Musicians Showcase on Saturday, February 16 at 7:30
p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts in Grand Marais.
The showcase includes Samuel Black on piano; Jane Howard on piano;
Pederson & Cora, a folk duo; Kent Johnson, acoustic guitar; Swamp
Donkey, psychedelic soul-rock and Cook County's Most Wanted, eclectic
blues and rock.
Tickets are $10 adults, $5 for students 18 and under. The event is
general seating, for sale at door or www.tix.com (no fees!)
Whether to work out project reductions with the lowest
bidders on the next phase of the Cook County Family YMCA building or
to re-bid the work was still in question after a discussion by the
county board on February 12. Wade Cole of ORB Management brought the
pros and cons to the commissioners after a conference call the day
before with attorney Ken Donovan.
When the bids for the next phase came in, they brought the project
cost to $1.96 million over its $9.5 million maximum. The Community
Center Steering Committee then came up with a list of how the costs
could be contained.
Attorney Donavon said there could be a legal risk if the county did
not re-bid the project. Companies that were not the low bidders could
take issue with not being able to re-bid when the project was changed
In the conference call, the attorney told the county representatives
that the need to re-bid or not depends in large part on the extent of
material changes within the project. Although there is no clear
definition of when a material change is large enough in scope to
require a re-bid, Mr. Donovan indicated that a 20 percent scope change
is sometimes used as a general rule.
After discussing the items that could be changed to bring costs down,
the attorney stated that the risk to the county was ‘not terribly
high’ and any second low bidder would have the burden of proof of
showing that the county had not done its due diligence.
Re-bidding the work would put the project behind about six to eight
weeks, bringing its completion into 2014.
Costs could also increase because of “reimbursables,” extra costs