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Boreal Community Media

March 27 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Mar 27, 2018 07:05PM ● By Editor

March 27, 2018 – Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, March 27 Board of Commissioners Meeting:

Public Comment Period

Arvis Thompson appeared before the Board with two items:

  1. She indicated that she did not see the proposed Hovland Highway Shop project in the bonding process that was published in the paper and inquired as to if it is in the bond?
    1. The Hovland Highway Shop is included in the proposed bond. Program and budget estimates will be available to the board prior to bond issue. $845,000 is the current estimate for the project, which includes more than just the shell of a garage. 
  2. Lutsen Expansion Project – she is not in favor of the County having a partnership with a private business and discourages the County to give support for this endeavor.

Consent Agenda

All items on the consent agenda were approved.

A. Claims
B.  Cook County Board Minutes of March 13, 2018
C.  Approve hire of Fiscal Supervisor PHHS
D.  2018 USFS Grant
E.  2018 MN State Boat & Water Grant
F.  Liquor & Tobacco License Application Approvals
G.  Summer Maintenance for Special Service Tax Districts


County Attorney Items
The Government Data Practices overview was taken off the agenda, but will be presented at a later date.

Attorney Hicken brought forth a Subordination of Reverter Right for Hospital to refinance.  Authorization of execution of a subordination of the Cook County’s reversionary rights in the Hospital property to allow for new refinance of property in favor of the hospital. Motion was made and carried to approve for the hospital to refinance.  

County Assessor Todd Smith, brought three abatements to the Board on minor adjustments. The motion was made and carried to approved.   

Radio Communications & Tower Update
Rena Rogers, MIS Director and Rowan Watkins, Radio Communications Analyst gave an informational update on radio communications and current tower projects reiterating that the program vision is to minimize impacts and maximize services with the primary purpose of supporting public safety. The County has an operational responsibility to maintain this infrastructure and by intentional management can accomplish the goal of minimal impact through collocation – minimizing the need for new towers and generate revenue to meet operational and project costs. Highlights of the presentation included:

  • Tower Ordinance revision to manage cell service and FirstNet rollout along with FCC Rule Changes and minimize tower proliferation. Revision to current standard which is undergoing final review by County Attorney. A proposed revision will be submitted in the next cycle for the Planning Commission - public comment period will begin mid-April and go before Planning Commission in May.
  • Cell Service Projects – Current and Inquiries/potential future projects:
      • T-Mobile & Verizon at Lutsen, Hovland & GP Info – status & timeline
      • AT&T/FirstNet – Gunflint, Midtrail, Sawbill, Hovland, GP Info and Old Ski Hill Rd
      • All inquiries are collocation or equipment upgrade requests on existing towers either owned by the County or towers on County-owned property.
  • MNDOT Projects
  • Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDAs) along Highway 61
    • Three areas of concern for ARMER coverage along HWY 61 – Hovland, Covill, and Tofte/Schroder area have been identified which are beyond the scope what the State will build out.
    • Some site assessments have been completed to confirm BDAs are a feasible solution. Still gathering data on location and support structure requirements. It is confirmed they are feasible, but would likely require three small towers which are costly, but grant money available for them.
  • Operational Projects being incorporated into operational calendar include:
    • Contracts – existing tenants and new
    • Building Maintenance
    • Structural analysis/tower inspections which includes defensible space, safe working environment, and site security.
    • Operational calendar

911 Redundancy
After four years of working with the State’s Emergency Communication Network we are very near to a solution to the reoccurring 911 outages that occur when there is an issue with CenturyLink fiber anywhere between Grand Marais and Duluth. The State worked with NESC and CenturyLink on a fail-over agreement between the two providers which will provide redundancy in the event of a failure on either provider’s infrastructure. The construction has been completed and testing and configuration tuning will occur this week. Cook County is hopeful the project will be successfully completed by next week.

Buffer Ordinance Amendment
Tim Nelson, Land Services Director, asked the Board to accept the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission to adopt the proposed amendment to the Buffer Ordinance as presented. Motion was made and carried to approve.

Highway Maintenance Worker II Position
Krysten Foster, County Engineer asked with the Board to accept the resignation from the current employee in the Maintenance Worker II position with regrets, and requested approval to post the vacancy of this position. Motion was made and carried to approve.

Conditional Use Permit
Bill Lane, Zoning Administrator, brought forth a recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve the Gayle Brett request for a Conditional Use Permit, allowing the establishment of a vacation rental home in the LR-2 district in Lutsen. Motion was made and carried to approve.

MnDot and ARDC updates
Andy Hubley, ARDC Director, provided an overview of the Transportation Alternatives Program Fiscal Year 2022 project application for the Northeast Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership which includes Koochiching, Itasca, Aitkin, Carlton St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties. There were $2.8 million dollars of projects requested and $900,000 available to grant. City of Aitkin Trail extension, French River Wayside Rehabilitation and Fon du Lac SRTS Sidewalks projects were selected for funding.

John McDonald, MnDOT State Aid Engineer for District 1, gave an update on 2018 MnDOT projects and provided resources to review project plans out to 2025. He also reviewed funding sources available for Federal, State and local projects.

Public Health & Human Services (PHHS) Fiscal Officer Position
Judy Hill, Human Resource Generalist requested the Board approve posting the vacancy of the Fiscal Officer in the PHHS Department. The current Fiscal Officer was offered the Fiscal Supervisor position and accepted. Motion was made and carried to approve. 

Administrator Update

  • Jeff Cadwell, County Administrator, informed the Board that the Employee Handbook is in the process of being updated nearing a revised draft. Once updates are complete, it will be reviewed by the collective bargaining units (unions) for input, and a final updated Handbook will come to the County Board for approval. 
  • Working with Ehlers to develop a scope for all projects proposed in the Capital Improvement Plan for Board review.
  • Clarification on the Lutsen Mountain Expansion – no County monies are involved in this project. Lutsen is asking for a resolution of support from the County to go along with their application to the US Forest Service who would be the entity that would give the permission for the expansion.

Full details of Board Meetings are available through video footage, Agendas and Minutes at County Board Meetings are open to the public.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here