The following content was contributed by Cook County News Herald

Assessor's Office to hire temporary contract person to meet goals

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 10:30am

County Assessor Betty Schultz appeared before the county board on Tuesday, August 26 to request authorization to hire a contract person to fill the vacant property assessor position in the assessors’ office for up to eight weeks. Schultz said despite the vacancy, her office must still meet the state quintile requirements, which require a county to assess at least 1/5th of its parcels each year. Schultz said that means the office needs someone to fill in until advertising, interviews, hiring and the employment verification process is completed.

Schultz recommended contracting with Judy Shire, who has worked with the county in the past. Shire will work from her home. Schultz said Shire comes to the position with over 29 years of assessment experience and could “hit the ground running.”

Commissioner Garry Gamble asked how the proposed $6,510.72 to hire a contract employee compares to an actual employees’ wages. Schultz said the expense was about the same. In her written request, Schultz said meals and lodging for Shire would be provided by her.

Commissioners passed a unanimous motion to authorize hiring Judy Shire to temporarily fill the position, from September 1 to October 18. To Schultz, Commissioner Gamble quipped, “Thanks for being a B&B!”


This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald


Grand Marais Library offers cartooning workshop Sept. 4

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 11:45am

Cartoonist Bill Barnes will share his writing, drawing and publishing expertise with the Grand Marais Public Library and its visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 4.

Making comic strips might just be the most fun job in the world, and thanks to the Internet it's easier than ever to put your work in front of potential readers. In this two-hour program, veteran cartoonist Bill Barnes (Unshelved, Not Invented Here) will show you how to make comic strips, publish them on the web, and maybe make some money too.

The first hour, The Basics of Cartooning, is a fast and fun workshop for middle schoolers through adult, covering every step in creating a comic strip: creating memorable characters, writing dialog, lettering, pencilling, inking, and coloring. The second hour, The Technology and Business of Cartooning, is oriented towards mature teens and adults. Bill describes how he uses computers to create and publish comic strips to the Internet, and describes how he makes money doing it.

Join us for either or both hours to hone your skills, or just enjoy the journey of a published cartoonist. For more information contact the library at (218) 387-1140.

County schedules public hearing to consider tax abatement bonds for Superior National at Lutsen

Sun, 08/31/2014 - 11:08am

 The Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) appeared before the county board on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, asking the board to schedule a public hearing on the EDA’s proposal to have the county issue tax abatement bonds for $2 million to fund continued improvements at Superior National at Lutsen (SNL) golf course. The public hearing was scheduled to be held in the commissioners’ room on Tuesday, September 23 at 10 a.m.

EDA President Mark Sandbo gave a brief history of the funding for the golf course and reminded the county board that it had hired Consultant John Wait of Sirius Golf Advisors in 2011 to come up with a long-range plan for Superior National. “We’re in the middle of that reconstruction,” said Sandbo. “But the bonding for this project, we feel is important, to finish this project and bring it up to be one of the premier golf courses in the state.”

Howard Hedstrom, who was appointed to the EDA board in January, said, “I’m new to the EDA, but the EDA is not new to the golf course business.”

Hedstrom shared what he had learned in his brief tenure, that the EDA had created a plan for development of SNL with Golf Course Architect Jeff Brauer of Golfscapes. He said phase 1 of the improvements would be done in September 2014 and phase 2 is expected to be completed by mid-September 2015. Hedstrom said the EDA has been handling all the “mundane details” of the construction project.

Hedstrom said the EDA was surprised when it learned from its bonding firm Ehlers & Associates that it was going to be very expensive to seek traditional general obligation bonds. “We found out that if we go out for tax abatement bonds, we’d save $1.4 million over the term of the contract.”

Hedstrom asked the county board, “Why wouldn’t you want to save $1.4 million? It makes the chance for success for the project that much better.”

Hedstrom acknowledged that the county didn’t want to go for the tax abatement bonds, unless the Lutsen Tofte Tourism Association (LTTA) agreed to be the guarantor for bond payment. LTTA agreed, Hedstrom said, with the understanding that LTTA would manage the golf course. Hedstrom said such an agreement had been approved at the last EDA meeting, which was August 12.

“I’m comfortable with what we’ve put together. It looks like all the parties are on board. The next step is a public hearing to get the tax abatement bonds,” said Hedstrom.

The agreement states that the EDA and LTTA have agreed to joint responsibility for the payment of the Tax Abatement Bonds. The agreement further reads: As a condition to LTTA agreeing to assume responsibility under the terms of the Bond Agreement, LTTA requires that it control the management of the Golf Course and the EDA has agreed to allow such management, according to the terms and conditions hereinafter set forth in this management agreement.

Commissioner Sue Hakes asked EDA Treasurer Scott Harrison to speak about that agreement. Harrison came forward to explain that under the agreement, LTTA will have what equals a year of golf course bond payments taken from its lodging tax collections and held in reserve. The reserve fund of lodging taxes will be used if net revenues of the golf course are not sufficient to pay the bond payment. Harrison noted that with the agreement the LTTA had made a commitment to accept a $2.8 million risk—to pay $140,000 per year for 20 years if necessary.

Commissioner Hakes asked if the Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder townships, which administrate the lodging taxes, were in agreement with use of the lodging taxes to cover the bonds. Harrison said the agreement had not yet been presented to the townships as the EDA wanted to first complete the agreement with LTTA and get the go-ahead from the county. Cook County Chamber Director Jim Boyd said that the agreement with the towns should be in place before the public hearing.

Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk, who sits on the EDA board, said, “With the declining appearance of the golf course, the golf course had made their $180,000 bond payment annually and we’re $40,000 less—and we’re going to have an improved golf course. We’re going in the right direction.”

Commissioner Garry Gamble noted that the county’s primary concern is seeing that the taxpayer is protected. He said, “…We can debate the nature of golf and different courses, resort courses versus municipal courses, in cities or outside of cities, but what it comes down to for me as a commissioner is not an issue of our tactical approach, it’s a financial one.”

Harrison pointed out that an additional condition of the agreement with LTTA is a commitment from the tourism entity to pay $50,000 toward marketing Superior National each year.

The $6 million golf course renovation project has received a $3.1 million from the county’s 1 percent local option sales tax and $600,000 from the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB).

The following content was contributed by WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Join the first 'Walking School Bus' of the school year: September 3

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:46pm

It's the start of the school year, and there are new signs posted around Grand Marais advising drivers to 'Slow Down and Smile - Kids on the Move,' in addition to a Walking School Bus. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning spoke with the Safe Routes to School coordinator, Maren Webb, on North Shore Morning. 

Walking School Buses are groups of people walking or biking to school together, organized by Cook County Safe Routes to School. The Walking School Buses (WSB) in Grand Marais meet in three locations:

  • West WSB leaves at 7:20 a.m. from 8th Ave. West & 2nd Street (passes Birchwood Apts on the way to school)
  • Central WSB leaves at 7:20 a.m. from the Courthouse Parking Lot.
  • East WSB leaves at 7:30 a.m. from 7th Ave. East & County Rd 7.

Each WSB stops at ISD 166 and GES on time for school to begin. If the student normally gets a ride to school, come in a little early to meet at one of the WSB locations and walk or bike to school with friends! Law enforcement and local community leaders will accompany each WSB. Volunteers are always needed; please contact Safe Routes to School Coordinator Maren at or 387-2330 if you are able to help or have questions.

While every day is a great day to walk or bike to school, every Wednesday this fall will be a Walking/Biking Wednesday! See the designated walking and biking to school routes on the updated Safe Routes to School Map. Other Walking School Buses this fall will be on October 8th and November 19th.
The Safe Routes to School group has been active in Cook County for several years. This year, a new visible addition in the community is the “Slow Down and Smile! Kids on the Move!” lawn signs (see attached photo) that are popping up around Grand Marais (and across Cook County and Grand Portage). 
For more information on routes, visit or contact Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Maren Webb, at 387-2330.

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Cook County YMCA Open House: September 2-7

Sun, 08/31/2014 - 2:10pm

The Cook County YMCA is hosting a Fall Open House, September 2nd through 7th – that’s Tuesday through Sunday.  North Shore Morning host Julie Carlson spoke with Branch Executive Director Emily Marshall and Membership Director Betsy Blaisdell.  Events include Blackout Volleyball, Tuesday September 2, 6-8pm; Pool Party, Wednesday September 3, 4-6pm; Family Block Party, Friday September 5, 3:30-6pm; and Outdoor Movie, Friday September 5, 8pm.  Events and admission are free.  
More information about the Fall Open House and Y programs at 387-3386 or online.


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Weekend News Roundup for August 30

Sat, 08/30/2014 - 10:12am

Each week the WTIP news department puts together a roundup of the weeks top news stories. Missing boaters found, a wolf advisory made for pet owners, more money for the Great Lakes…all this and more in this week’s news.


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