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Patrick Knight hired as first Grand Marais communications director

Apr 06, 2018 08:59AM ● By Editor

By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - Friday, April 6, 2018

Patrick Knight The camera never wobbled when the announcement came, which was pretty amazing.

At the end of the March 28 Grand Marais City Council meeting, Mayor Jay Arrowsmith- DeCoux announced Patrick Knight had been selected from 16 candidates to become the first communications director for the city.

When he made the pronouncement, Arrowsmith-DeCoux looked right into the camera, which was held by Knight, and said, “Congratulations, Patrick!”

Knight, who has long filmed city council meetings and county board meetings through his Good Measures Media Company, will begin his new job on Monday, April 9. .Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) director Staci Drouillard and Grand Marais Climate Action Coordinator Shane Steele came before the council with an update.

Steele was hired after the city passed a Youth Climate Inheritance Resolution in February 2017. He is in the process of coordinating the city’s efforts to create a Climate Action Plan (CAP).

The goal of the CAP is to reduce the city’s existing carbon emissions while improving energy efficiency.

Drouillard gave an overview of CCLEP’s work in helping to form the local energy plan, its work to promote solar, biomass, and wind energy, as well as CCLE’s home energy audits centered around making homes more energy efficient.

In forming CAP, Drouillard cited the Great Plain Institute that authored a Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GGI) for the City of Grand Marais. The report, using data from 2013, details where energy is being used in the city emissions and focused on commercial and residential building efficiency as well as transportation emissions.

Looked at in the GGI was the potential for the city to use wind, solar and biomass energy to reach some of its goals.

Through CAP the city of Grand Marais hopes to become a net-zero emissions city by 2040, Steele said. Additionally, he said, six or seven goals will be outlined in sectors where improvements can be made. They include transportation, renewable energy, waste, building energy, etc.

To reach these objectives, Steele will work with an action team of community members, local experts, business owners, city employees and local youth. This group will use Greensteps 29 best practices for cities, as well as research gathered by CCLEP and the Energy Plan to help Grand Marais become more energy efficient and carbon neutral. 

Because time is of the essence, the Action Team will meet this April and use the Wedge Tool—a program that uses the city’s energy usage and emissions data to project how certain effective strategies will be at reducing emissions—to set goals. Once the goals are set, they will be presented to the county board and CCLEP to see if the county wants to join in the CAP.

Strategies and action items will be on the docket for discussion in June, and by September 2018, a plan will be prepared for the city council and presented in October. .Ilena Hansel, district manager for the Cook County Soil and Water District, asked if the city would like to develop a stormwater protection team to help facilitate implementation of the Lake Superior North One Watershed One Plan which was approved by Lake and Cook counties and both of the county’s Soil and Water Districts in May 2017.

The One Plan identifies watershed areas that need to be addressed over the next 10 years. The goal is to form ways to protect and restore area streams, lakes, wetlands groundwater and natural resource communities located in the watershed.

Hansel said by participating in the North Shore Stormwater Protection Team the city would have the opportunity to learn how to protect better and restore natural resources along the North Shore and how to play a better role in preserving these resources for generations to come. She presented council with a survey she asked them to do that will, “help us understand local partner interest, needs, and availability.” 

Council passed a resolution approving the Minnesota Department of Transportation layout for the 2019 Highway 61 improvements from 8th Avenue West to the Gunflint Trail within the city limits.

MnDOT will perform pavement preservation, pavement reconstruction, curb and gutter, drainage improvements, sidewalk, and trail construction as the roadwork progresses through the town. 

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