Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Work on Gitchi Gami Bike Trail to resume soon

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 8:54am
Gitchi Gami Bicycle Trail work in Lutsen

With warmer weather comes more bike riding and also work on the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail, which has been slowly making its way up the North Shore.  On April 24, the county board approved a contract with the Arrowhead Regional Development Council (ARDC) to develop strategies for completion of the trail at a cost of $10,000. 
Development of the trail began in the mid-1990s, and a plan to guide its development was adopted in 1999.  About 25 miles have been constructed.  The longest section is from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Beaver Bay, a stretch of 14.6 miles. 
Cook County will provide 1/3 of a $5,000 match ($1,667) for a grant of $5,000 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Lake County and the Gitchi Gami Trail Association will provide the rest of the match.
A stretch of trail west of the Lutsen Ski Hill Road will be completed this summer.
The trail will eventually be 86 miles long and will extend from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.  According to Todd Campbell of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the trail will be completed from Two Harbors to the Lutsen Ski Hill Road by the end of the summer.

Lake Superior Magazine seeks "Best of the Lake" nominees

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 8:52am

For more than two decades, readers of Lake Superior Magazine have shared their favorite spots, sights, restaurants, lodgings and recreation for the Best of the Lake awards.
Nominations for local favorites should be sent to or by using the pull-out ballot in the April/May issue of the magazine, on newsstands now.
“We know how much our past winners have taken pride in earning their
Best of the Lake award,” says Editor Konnie LeMay. “We’re anxiously waiting to see who and what our winners are for this year.”
Many categories are new, including great outdoors entries like Best Shoreline, Best Strolling Beach, Best Place for a Day Outside and Best On-the-Water Experience. There are also categories for places to eat, to stay overnight and to shop for gifts and smoked fish. Winners will be announced in the August/September issue of Lake Superior Magazine. Each winner receives an award certificate and a special badge for the web.
Ballots for the Best of the Lake 2013 will be accepted through June 1.

Cook County accepting applications for rain garden

Wed, 05/08/2013 - 1:05pm

Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is now accepting rain garden applications from private and public landowners in the Lake Superior Basin in Cook County. With the help of Clean Water Land & Legacy Funds, Cook County SWCD has financial and technical assistance available to assist interested landowners in constructing a rain garden on their property.
For rain garden information and an application form, see or contact the Cook County SWCD office at (218) 387-3649. Applications are due by 4 p.m. May 24.

Tofte planning park cleanup day

Wed, 05/08/2013 - 1:03pm

At the April Tofte town meeting, Supervisor Jim King asked about setting a date for “Volunteer Spring Clean up Day” for the park and town hall grounds.
“The major projects seem to be cleaning up three slash piles and the deadfalls,” said King, noting that he would not be much help with his “arthritic shoulder.” King added, “Really, when you look around this room, we’re the only ones that come and help out anyway. Maybe we should hire a younger worker by the hour to do the job.”
“Last year John [Nelson] and I had a young guy help us in the park and we were amazed at how fast he was. He worked twice as fast as we did,” said volunteer Jerry Gervais.
The board decided to allow Gervais and King to find a younger person to work with them and pay that person by the hour to clean up the park.
There was a fair amount of discussion about what to do with the park pavilion.  Gervais and Jim King will work with architect Scott Berry to develop a plan to fix the base of the pavilion and in case the pavilion needs to be moved the township will request a variance from the county.
“If we move the building we will lose its existing footprint. And I think that with the views offered up and down the shore, that’s the best place for the pavilion,” said Gervais. King agreed, but Olsen said, “We have nothing to lose by asking for a variance. If we need it, we will have it, but it doesn’t mean we will have to use it.”
After some discussion the board agreed to apply for a variance but noted that the pavilion will probably stay right where it is after repairs have been made.
The next Tofte town meeting will be Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

Leading scientists back U.S. efforts to protect Bristol Bay salmon fishery

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 10:02am
EPA's Bristol Bay watershed assessment study area

On April 26, 2013, more than 300 leading scientists sent a letter to the White House expressing “deep concerns” about the prospect of large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed of Southwest Alaska, home to the world’s largest wild salmon runs. The action comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases for public comment a revised draft assessment on watershed impacts of what could be North America’s largest mine.  

(Click on A.M. Community Calendar link below to hear more about the proposed mine in an interview with Dr. David Chambers, a geophysicist with the Center for Science in Public Participation.)

The open-pit gold and copper operation, known as Pebble Mine, would likely cover an area larger than Manhattan, according to EPA. The proposal is backed by the world’s second-largest mining corporation, London-based Anglo American, and Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals. The project has drawn sharp criticism from the Bristol Bay Native Corp., nine regional tribes, the commercial fishing industry, sportsmen, and environmentalists who fear the massive mine could cause irreversible damage to the watershed. The state of Alaska and the mining industry have objected to EPA’s action to assesses the mine’s potential impact.

County continues discussion on hiring an administrator

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 2:24pm

The county may be looking for an administrator sometime in the months ahead.  On April 30, the county board met to discuss the possibility and agreed to move forward on formulating how that job might look. 
Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Sue Hakes said they have heard positive comments from constituents in regard to hiring an administrator.  Commissioner Hakes said she had heard from people both in support of and against the position in the past, but recently, people have been expressing only support.  “I haven’t heard anybody who says they don’t want one,” she said.  “Not one.”
They need to consider the position in the context of the size of this community, Commissioner Garry Gamble said, but they also need to consider “what’s on our plate” as a county.  He said he thinks the board needs an administrator so they “could focus on the bigger picture.”
The board discussed a desire to gather input from the public on whether an administrator should be hired.  Commissioner Martinson suggested that they create a job description that could be presented to the public and then revised before advertising for the position.  Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk suggested presenting two options for the public to consider.
The question of hiring an administrator came up when Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen announced earlier this year that she would be retiring in August. 
By a vote of 3-0, with Commissioner Hall absent and Commissioner Hakes unable to vote because she was in attendance only by speakerphone, the board passed a motion to pursue the possibility of hiring an administrator by developing a draft job description and seeking input from the public.  They passed another motion to request prices from personnel search firms that could help the county find candidates.