Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Conflict over county engineer reappointment

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 9:57am

Although the county board’s Tuesday, April 28 meeting agenda included “Discussion and possible action regarding County Engineer Appointment,” there was no discussion and very little action, much to the consternation of Commissioner Garry Gamble.

The first indication that there was conflict of some kind came in the public comment period at the start of the meeting. Often no citizens come forward to speak. At this meeting two county residents came forward in support of County Highway Engineer David Betts. In addition, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) District State Engineer Duane Hill was given the floor and he gave a glowing evaluation of Betts’s work with the MnDOT. Hill also read a letter of support for Betts from retired State Aid Engineer Walter Leu.

When it was time to discuss the county engineer reappointment, County Board Chair Heidi Doo-Kirk said in order to keep the county engineer working and authorized to sign necessary contracts, she had consulted County Attorney Molly Hicken about an extension of the highway engineer’s contract until May 5 so the county board could hold a special meeting to discuss the reappointment with Hicken present. Commissioner Doo-Kirk said the county attorney had advised that the county has the right to do so. Doo-Kirk introduced a resolution to do so and Commissioner Frank Moe quickly seconded.

Commissioner Gamble asked for discussion of the resolution and Commissioner Doo-Kirk denied his request, stating, “It’s at the advisement of our county attorney that we don’t have discussion…” Some heated discussion of the use of Robert’s Rules of Order followed.

The resolution to extend the county engineer’s contract ultimately passed, with Gamble opposed.

Aquatic invasive species workshop offered May 5 & June 13

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:37am

There will be several workshops on our region’s invasive species that will be offered by the Cook and Lake County Invasive Team. WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Laurel Wilson, Cook and Lake County Invasive Species Coordinator, on North Shore Morning. 


The Cook County Invastive Team (CCIT) will host an aquatic invasive species workshop from 5 to 6 pm on Tuesday, May 5, at the Cook County Community Center, with Marte Kitson of the Minnesota Sea Grant. Attendees will learn how to identify and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species that are threatening Minnesota water resources. More information is available from Laurel Wilson, CCIT coordinator, at 387-3772.

(Photo by D. Jude, Unversity of Michigan)


Tofte begins comprehensive town planning

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 4:23pm

Tofte citizens gathered on April 15 to consider what they want the former fishing village to look like in 20 years—should there be a business park? Clusters of affordable homes? Senior housing? Walking paths in addition to the Gitchi Gami Bicycle Trail?

These were just a few of the ideas discussed with Andy Hubley of the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) at a public meeting at the Birch Grove Center to discuss Tofte’s future.

Part of the process also included discussing future concerns, threats, and issues the township needed to avoid.

Besides looking to shape the future, Hubley said it was important for townships and towns to make comprehensive plans because granting organizations like the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) increasingly call for them to be included in grant applications.

Hubley will take the public comments and will develop a vision statement for the Tofte Comprehensive Plan. He will come back late May and another public meeting will be held for more input from residents. 


This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Apple growing workshop May 2 at Community Center

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 4:22pm

An apple growing workshop with Dr. Cindy Hale of the National Resources Research Institute (NRRI) will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 2 at the Cook County Community Center.

Dr. Hale and her family operate a small, organic, integrated tree fruit, poultry and hog farm. She is also spearheading the Heritage Orchard restoration efforts at the University of Minnesota-Duluth field experimental station.

Topics covered include intensive apple growing systems for dwarf apple trees and integrated pest management. Participants will also pot newly grafted apple trees.

There is a $10 fee to attend. Pre-register by calling the Extension office at (21) 387-3015.


This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at

Forest Service offers open house on wildfire management and fire awareness

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 2:39pm

The Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts will be offering an open house on wildfire management and fire awareness. WTIP volunteer Tracy Benson spoke with Patty Johnson of the US Forest Service on North Shore Morning. 

There will be presentations on Fire Safety and Awareness in three locations:
May 4 in Finland
May 11 at the Gunflint Ranger Station
May 12th at the Schaap Community Center on the Gunflint Trail

All meetings are from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.


"First Friday" monthly event begins May 1 in Grand Marais

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 1:29pm

“First Fridays” are a once-a-month block party event in downtown Grand Marais. WTIP volunteer Tracy Benson spoke with Jean Spry of the Grand Marais Retailers, and Suzanne Sherman of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce on North Shore Morning.