An extension of the runway at Cook County Airport has been in the works for several years. In August 2014 it appeared that the project would finally be getting off the ground, with work to be done by Northland Constructors. However the contractor’s bid was submitted with the assumption that a temporary access road could be built and used during construction. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) denied the permit necessary to construct the temporary road to the airport, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) recommended rebidding the project. On January 20, the county board reviewed the new bids and once again accepted the bid from Northland Constructors, the lowest bidder. The new estimate is $263,580 higher than the previous bid.
In November 2014, Darren Christopher of RS&H, the aviation firm working with Cook County on the runway extension, informed the county board that the Corps of Engineers would not grant a permit to fill 750 square feet of wetland if there is an alternative haul route that can be used. Christopher also said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) had commented on the potential clearing of 0.60 acres. Because Cook County is a critical habitat for the Canadian lynx and the brown long-eared bat, USFWS indicated it would not “provide concurrence” for the clearing because an alternate route is available and should be utilized.
Because of the Corps of Engineers’ denial, the board agreed to rebid the project, with the help of RS&H, which agreed not to charge the county any additional costs for the rebidding process. The latest requests for bids brought two submissions, from KGM Contractors with a bid of $1,873,294.50 and Northland Constructors with the lower bid of $1,731,780.
Cook County Information System (IS) Director Rena Rogers came before the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 27 with an informational update about two planned Allied Radio Matrix Emergency Response (ARMER) towers that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) plans to add in Cook County near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
One tower will be located approximately 3½ miles southeast of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters and one will be near Devilfish Lake near the end of the Arrowhead Trail. Both would be located on land owned by the county, said Rogers.
At issue, said Rogers is the suggested height of the towers. To provide best coverage, MnDOT is proposing that the towers be 330 feet tall. A taller tower allows more ARMER radios to receive and send messages from greater distances, said Rogers explaining that these new towers are part of a 12 tower system in Cook County designed by the state to meet its standards for public safety.
Any tower taller than 200 feet must be equipped with flashing red lights at night and white lights during the day so that airplane pilots can spot them. Lights from towers near the BWCAW could potentially be seen by campers in the wilderness, which could be a big issue for some campers/canoers.
The alternative is to build 180-foot tall towers, Rogers said, which do not require any lighting. But because of their lower height, the ability to transmit and receive radio signals by emergency workers would also be diminished.
“It really is the county’s decision to decide the height of the towers,” Rogers said. “Their [MnDOT’s)] recommendation is for coverage, but they are leaving it up to you to decide the height.”
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DATE: 01/31/2015 08:34am
On Feb. 14, treat yourself to some of the best guitar playing you'll hear in your lifetime: ADRIAN LEGG.
“A guitarist of astonishing virtuosity, his imagination and melodic invention seem unbounded” ~ Q magazine. “To say that Legg plays a good guitar is like saying Menuhin saws a fine fiddle” ~ Music Week. “Simply the best acoustic guitar player I've ever heard” ~ guitar icon Joe Satriani. "Technical brilliance paired with a troubadour’s tale-weaving skill” ~ The Boston Globe.
Listen to Adrian play:
ADRIAN LEGG - Arrowhead Center for the Arts - February 14 - 7:30 PM
$22 adults. *Sweetheart of a Special: one free youth ticket (18 & under) with each adult admission, at door only*. Additional youth tickets $10. Tickets for sale in advance (no fees) at http://arrowheadcenterforthearts.tix.com, and at door.
CONTACT: North Shore Music Association
DATE: 01/31/2015 06:58am
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, following a directive from the state legislature planned to implement a new aquatic invasive species training and trailer decal program in January. However, the numerous questions raised by anglers has led to postponement to determine the best way to educate watercraft users and to track whether boaters have taken the required training.
The DNR announced on January 28 that it would now wait while legislators consider changes to the program.
Under a law passed by the state legislature in 2012, anyone trailering a boat or water-related equipment such as docks and lifts in Minnesota is required to take aquatic invasive species training and display a decal on their trailer. The effective date is July 1, 2015.
“With the legislative interest in this educational program and ongoing discussions about possible changes, we are postponing the launch until we see if the legislature acts this session to modify the program,” said Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner.
The DNR—and most boaters—support the education that would be provided under this law, but recognizes there are some concerns with the way the law is currently written. For example, people transporting boats on trailers through Minnesota to another destination are required to take the course and display a decal even if they don’t put their boat in Minnesota waters.
Conscientious boaters logged on the DNR website on January 1 to take the training and were disappointed to find it was not yet available. The DNR announced that the training would be available at the end of January, frustrating boaters once again. However, since the training and decal are currently not required until July 1, the DNR reassures people that there will be time to see what happens legislatively and still take the course and receive decals.
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