Around Cook County
When the Cook County Community YMCA pool heater went down two months ago and the pool couldn’t be properly heated for about a month, there were questions about who was responsible for the situation. With three entities—Cook County, School District 166 and the YMCA—involved it hasn’t always been clear who is responsible for the Y’s maintenance, especially when something breaks. That is why the parties met on March 24 to review three documents, the County/YMCA Management Agreement, the Shared Facilities Agreement signed in 2012 and the 2015 revised YMCA/School Joint Facility Use Agreement.
The Y building is owned by the county and is attached to the school. The school and the Y share facilities, especially the pool and gym, and agreed to a cost neutral agreement to maintain the facilities and grounds. Meanwhile the county has a separate agreement with the Duluth Area YMCA to manage the facility.
After a little more than a year in operation there have been some surprises for the Y, the biggest perhaps how many people have joined. It was projected that 300-500 people would become members but instead three times as many people—1,500—signed up.
School District 166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz said, “That’s a lot more cleanup than anyone planned for.”
County Maintenance Director Brian Silence said his department has been getting busier and busier with maintenance issues at the Y. And none of it was planned for in his 2014-2015 budget.
Superintendent Schwarz said, “The school’s maintenance staff likewise has run into a lot of extra work.”
There was discussion of who was responsible for grounds work, the HVAC system and more.
“James and the Giant Peach” opens at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts Friday, April 17. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Sue Hennessey of the Grand Marais Playhouse on North Shore Morning.
James and the Giant Peach performances at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts:
April 17 & 18 at 7 pm
April 19 at 2 pm
April 24 & 25 at 7 pm
April 26 at 2 pm
The 26th annual Cook County Emergency Services Conference will be held April 24-25 at various locations throughout Grand Marais, and now is the time to sign up.
• U.S. National Grid update and Emergency Trail Marker Program Implementation
by B.J. Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Management director. A snowmobiler gets injured on the trail and his friends call 911. “Where are you?” the dispatcher asks. The answer? “Somewhere on the North Shore Trail between Lutsen and Grand Marais.”
So begins the search to find the patient. A group of partners including Cook and Lake counties, DNR, USFS, SharedGeo, and local trail clubs are changing that with a consistent, nationally recognized emergency location marker system.
• ARMER update and hands-on radio training by Rowan Watkins, Cook County MIS, radio technician. Designed especially for those who do not use their radios every day. Great practical experience.
• 3ECHO Hostile Event Training (classroom) by Ron Robinson and Jonathan Bundt. The purpose of this course is to teach a new integrated practice to first responders in a hostile event situation.
• Compassion Fatigue and Building Resilience Workshop by Greg Nelson, licensed psychologist. Compassion Fatigue symptoms are normal displays of stress resulting from the care giving work emergency responders perform on a regular basis. While the symptoms are often disruptive, depressive and irritating, an awareness of the symptoms and their negative effect can lead to positive change and a new resiliency.
In January and February 2015, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources accepted comments from citizens on deer population goals across the northern part of the state. In Cook County, a public meeting was held on February 19 and comments were recorded on what should be done in the “Superior Uplands Arrowhead” region, block 1 of the proposal. Citizen Advisory Teams were established and surveys were conducted. The DNR now has advisory team recommendations and would like the public to once again weigh in on the final goals for deer populations in northeastern Minnesota.
Dave Ingebrigtsen, assistant wildlife manager, who works in the Grand Marais DNR office, encourages North Shore residents to give input to help the DNR make its decision for deer populations in this area. “Now is the time for people to get involved,” said Ingebrigtsen.
Cook County has two deer permit areas, No. 117 and No. 126. For deer permit area 117, which is primarily in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), the consensus of the advisory team was to leave things be, with no change in population.
Some of the reasons given were that deer were not historically found in this area, it is one area of the state not impacted by deer; this is primarily moose area; few people hunt in this area and those that do care more about a wilderness deer experience than higher deer density.
In deer permit area 126, the advisory team could not reach agreement. Ten team members preferred no change in population. Two team members wanted a population increase of 25 percent. One team member preferred a population increase of 50 percent and two team members abstained.
Seven team members expressed concern about vegetation, one stating, “Fencing trees is expensive” and another stating that deer population will come back up after a few mild winters, but vegetation recovery takes much longer.
At the March 10, 2015 meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA), the board reviewed the first draft of the Affordable Workforce Housing study being completed by Northspan for the EDA. Randy Lasky of Northspan gave the report over the phone, including information on the focus groups that were held as part of the study in October –November 2014. There were about 40 participants in five focus groups.
Lasky said this is the first time his company has focused on people in or in their mid-30s. In the focus groups, participants were asked what barriers they faced in finding affordable housing in Cook County. Answers ranged from lack of rental properties and high rent prices to limited housing options and high land and development prices and more. Zoning restrictions and wetlands were another concern, as well as the difficulty to obtain financing.
Lasky gave an update on the housing survey that had been conducted. He said 308 responses were received and he said there was a good breakout of ages of people who took the survey. “Overall, I think we got some very good information,” he said.
He also said, “For the most part, the survey bore out what the focus groups felt.”
The report is not yet complete, Lasky said, explaining that Northspan is reaching out to area employers. EDA Board Member Scott Harrison said this piece of the study is the “fourth leg of the chair.”
Lasky said Northspan is alsp looking at properties in the county that could be developed for housing. Lasky said he is putting together profiles of potential properties. He said, “Our next job is to whittle these [properties] down to the targeted properties that make the most sense,” he said.
Family and friends of Molly Thomas are hosting a special event; it’s a fundraiser to help Molly travel to Australia for the Down Under Sports Tournament. All are invited to the Grand Marais Art Colony Saturday April 18th for music, treats, a silent auction and more. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Molly and Leah Thomas on North Shore Morning.