The following content was contributed by Cook County News Herald

County begins search for new county administrator

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 1:52pm

Cook County Commissioners once again tackled the difficult question of how to proceed regarding a county administrator, turning to a consultant for assistance at the January 20 board meeting.

The board reviewed a potential job description for a new county administrator, one with fewer human resources (HR) duties. Auditor Braidy Powers explained that consultant David Unmacht of Springsted advised that typically county administrators are not involved in the day-to-day HR activities.

However, commissioners noted that HR needs must still be met and there was discussion of how to do that.

Commissioner Garry Gamble said he is comfortable hiring Springsted to assist in hiring an administrator. He said the biggest risk in not working with the consultant was not having the talented pool of applicants that Springsted has on file.

Commissioner Frank Moe asked how helpful Springsted had been in the previous hiring. Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said very helpful. She pointed out that there were 28 applicants in the last hiring process. Gamble noted that Unmacht was familiar with many candidates and gave recommendations that helped narrow the field.

Commissioners spent some time with Springsted’s Unmacht on the phone, asking what he thought it would cost the county to have him recruit, screen and assist with interviews. He said it could cost about $5,000, but would likely not go over $10,000. He said a typical search costs about $15,000.

Unmacht suggested the county make its decision one step at a time. He suggested hiring his firm to recruit county administrator applicants at an expense not to exceed $3,000. Unmacht said, “Then, when we have applicants, we can decide if you want to proceed.” 

Moe noted that one of the primary concerns he has heard from his east end constituents is spending—in particular spending on consultants.

Unmacht said he understood, but said he is “out there in the marketplace” and he believes the county would be getting good value for its money.

Commissioner Jan Sivertson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Ginny Storlie to hire Springsted to “tweak” the county administrator job description and to move ahead with the recruitment process at a cost not to exceed $3,000.

Moe voted no. “I’m not in favor of starting the process without knowing what we will ultimately be spending.”

His colleagues acknowledged his concern, but all voted in favor of proceeding with the consultant.


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Grand Marais City Council to accept grants for more work toward district heating project

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 1:49pm

On Wednesday, January 14, the new Grand Marais City Council voted to accept two grants of $50,000 each that will be used to fund the next steps of a proposed district heating project.

Arvis Thompson attended the meeting to express some concerns she had with the project and asked several questions, as did council members. Most of the questions centered on what kind of commitment (financial or otherwise) the city would be getting itself into once the funds are accepted, and the risk involved to the taxpayers.

Councilor Tim Kennedy, who is knowledgeable with the proposal through his work as the city’s liaison with the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP), said the portions of the project to be funded with the grants (which includes seeking customer contracts, bidding out expenses and seeking financing through state bonding or other sources) are necessary to make a determination of whether the city has a project.

Kennedy said, “We need to know if we have the customers out there to support paying for this proposal. If we do, then we move on.”

The timeline calls for signed contracts to be procured by mid-March.

City Administrator Mike Roth said that if there are any misgivings once the next phase gets under way the city can suspend it at any time.


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

The Playlist to record local bands at Papa Charlie's Jan. 27

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 8:17pm

The PlayList will visit Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen to record some of Cook County’s finest musicians on Jan. 27.

The public is invited to attend for a night of original tunes and be part of the live TV audience. The event begins at 8 p.m. with Eric Frost, followed by Pushing Chain at 9 p.m. and SplinterTones at 10 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

The bands will be featured in upcoming episodes of The PlayList, broadcast Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on PBS’s WDSE-TV in Duluth. Check the schedule at


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

The following content was contributed by WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Weekend News Roundup for January 24

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 10:30am

Each week the WTIP news department puts together a roundup of the weeks top    news stories. Lonnie Dupre conquers Denali, northern forests are changing and the hospital considers no more births…all this and more in the week’s news.


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North Shore Hospital to make OB decision by end of month

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 9:27am

The Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center board Thursday held a lengthy discussion regarding the continuation of elective deliveries and whether or not they should continue to offer this service.

The possibility of ceasing birthing services at the hospital has prompted a flurry of Facebook responses and public discussion pro and con.
Near the first of November last year the hospital received a report from their medical malpractice/professional liability insurer (Coverys) that stated they do not meet the standards of care for OB services.

According to hospital administrator Kimber Wraalstad, at issue is not about the quality of care provided but whether the hospital can meet the expected standards of care for elective obstetrical services in a hospital.
The Coverys report highlighted five different areas where improvement is recommended, but the deal breaker is providing OB services involving emergency cesarean sections.  

Wraalstad said the hospital does not have the OR, equipment, or staff to provide an emergency c-section. An operating room is on the drawing board for the hospital expansion plan, however the conservative cost estimate of providing the required trained nurses, anesthesia personnel, neonatal resuscitation team members, and obstetric attendants – not including the surgeon -- is $1 million dollars per year.

The Guidelines for Perinatal Care were established by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

According to its data, since 2002 through 2014 the hospital has averaged 9.5 deliveries per year, with as many as 15 and 17 deliveries during that time. Department of Health figures show Cook County averaged 46.6 deliveries over an 11 year period, with just over 20 percent performed in Grand Marais.

Wraalstad added that regardless of the decision of the board, the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and their doctors and employees will continue to provide pre- and postnatal care.  The hospital will provide emergency deliveries.  

There will be a public information meeting on the subject, Wednesday, January 28, at 6 p.m. in the hospital’s large classroom.  A special board meeting is scheduled for Friday, January 30 at 9 a.m. a.m. when a decision is anticipated. Any change in hospital policy would be effective on July 1.

Hospital administrator Kimber Wraalstad spoke with WTIP's Jay Andersen on "Daybreak" Friday, Jan. 23.


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Busy winter for the Grand Marais Playhouse

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 2:49pm

Winter is a busy season for the Grand Marais Playhouse. WTIP host Marnie McMillan spoke with Sue Hennessey about all the activity happening at the Playhouse on North Shore Morning.

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