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Boreal Community Media

February 26 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Feb 27, 2019 05:16PM ● By Editor

Media Release from Cook County - February 27, 2019

February 26, 2019 – Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, Feb 26 Board of Commissioners Meeting:

Additions/Adjustments to the Agenda

  • Resolution for a Federal Trail Equipment Grant


  • Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, Mayor of Grand Marais, read a proclamation from the City of Grand Maris declaring February 26 ‘Norman Deschampe Day’ in honor of the late Tribal Chairman of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Feb 26 was Chairman Deschampe’s birthday. 

Public Comment Period

  • A Arvis Thompson expressed concerns regarding the jail project and wanted to know how Cook County plans on handling mental health now that HCD has closed? Ms. Thompson has concerns that they will be housed in the jail facility. 
  • Pam Dorris expressed concerns regarding the jail project. Ms. Dorris believes that the County should purchase Hillhaven and convert it to a facility specifically for drug and alcohol individuals instead of housing them at the jail. She would like to see a secure hospital space instead of a Class III jail facility.
  • Ben Peters expressed concerns regarding the jail project. Mr. Peters believes that the needs assessment is incorrect and needs to be reevaluated due to the low daily population of Grand Marais.
  • Lloyd Speck expressed concerns regarding the jail project. Mr. Speck stated that the study contradicts the other reports done on the project and feels that the guiding principles are false.
  • Bob Mattson expressed concerns regarding the jail project and wanted to know why Cook County was going to build a Class III jail facility that in his opinion, it didn’t need.
  • Bruce Martinsen expressed concerns regarding the jail project. Mr. Martinsen stated the he believes that there is an assumption that the judge would sentence someone to the jail rather than send them elsewhere and that’s not the case. 
  • Gordon Salisbury expressed concerns regarding the jail project. He doesn’t believe that a Class III jail facility is appropriate for Cook County.
  • Brad Thompson expressed concerns regarding the jail project and feels the County is not being a good steward of the tax payers’ money. He stated that the County hasn’t proven with the documentation and studies provided that Cook County needs a new law enforcement center. 
  • Colton Thompson expressed concerns regarding Cook County’s spending and doesn’t believe that the County needs a County Administrator.

*A list of questions asked during the public comment period surrounding the proposed jail project was recorded, and the County is working to get answers which will be made available and discussed at the upcoming Public Information Session.  

Consent Agenda
All items on the Consent Agenda were approved unanimously: 

A.  Claims
B.  Firewise Grant Application

C. Final Payment on 2018 CAT Mini-Excavator

D. Resolution Authorizing Local Road Improvement Program Application


Sheriff’s Office

Ben Hallberg, Jail/Dispatch Administrator, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Lake County Public Health. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting approval of the MOU with Lake County for training services in 2019 to support Dispatch and Jail staff. The MOU will only be valid until the end of the year at which time other options for training services will be explored. Due to a recent retirement of the County’s former Public Health Nurse, med delivery training services were not able to be completed in-house for the current year and according the State regulations, these trainings are required for new staff as well as refresher trainings every three years for current staff. The MOU will be supported within the jail’s current budget. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • John McNamara, WOLD Architects & Engineers, presented an update on the proposed Public Safety Center/Jail project to the Board. The presentation included:
    • Project Goals/ Guiding Principles 
    • Past Study Outcomes/ Recommendations 
    • Space Programming 
    • Review Program & Design Options 
    • Next Steps

McNamara also stated that when looking at confirming the outlines for the study for a Class III facility, it must be taken into consideration that the facility will require specific guidelines be followed to the standards of the Department of Corrections. All options were explored for this project, including the viability of renovating vs. building a new law enforcement center. Six different jail projections were used to draw parallels and those figures where inflated by 15% at the direction of the Department of Corrections to account for future needs of the jail. This project is not only about the jail, but the space needed and necessary repairs at the law enforcement center itself. Wold’s preliminary schematic design recommendation include a dedicated space for an interview area for the Deputies and evidence processing. The evidence area currently is undersized for the amount of evidence that State law dictates law enforcement keep. The project would increase the garage area that is used for transporting inmates and would have a dedicated medical space. Although a mental health facility is not being built, it is required by the Department of Corrections for a Class III jail to have a dedicated medical space for inmate assessment and observation. The total currently proposed size of the facility is projected to be around 17,500 square feet. A public information session will be held on March 21, at 6 pm at the Courthouse to answer questions and address concerns. 

A comprehensive list of questions and answers and outstanding information needs was compiled and will be made available when complete, as well as addressed at the March 21 Public Information Session. Wold’s presentation is available in the Board Meeting Agenda/Materials online at


Rena Rogers, MIS Director, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Mediacom Lease - Old Ski Hill. Board approval requested for a 30-year land lease with Mediacom at an initial lease rate of $4,800 per year with an annual 3% increase over the prior year. This lease would be for six five-year terms. Mediacom no longer uses tower space, but has an equipment shelter that houses their equipment for local service. As a part of the lease agreement, Mediacom cleaned up old satellite dish equipment. Mediacom is a cable television provider that can also provide internet services for the city. The lease was included in the projected revenue for the 2019 budget. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • 2019 MIS Department update to the Board. Presentation provided a summary of the Department’s strategies and project results over the last four years. MIS completed a total of 95 projects in four and a half years to include network and server infrastructure, geographical information systems support and radio communication operational support. Looking forward into the near future, MIS’s mission is to provide technology solutions that enhance the delivery of County services.

Land Services
Tim Nelson, Land Services Director, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Review and Sign Natural Resources Block Grant (NRBG) Financial Reports.
  • Proposed Zoning Ordinance amendments. When the Minnesota State Legislature changed the law 10 years ago to enable counties to adopt provisions for administering Interim Use Permits, the ordinance was modified to reflect that change and amended our practice of renewing Conditional Use Permits to simply review the permits to ensure compliance with the imposed conditions. The provisions expressly addressed in the Special Criteria and Requirements section of the ordinance were inadvertently left out during that revision ten years ago, and now need to be amended to reflect the current law and long-standing practice. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • Appointments to Parks & Trails Commission. The Parks & Trails Commission has had an individual serving in the capacity of "At-Large" on the Commission since it was created, however this individual is willing to give up his seat to someone who can participate more frequently. His departure makes room for appointments to the At-Large and At-Large Alternate positions since neither of them are in District 2. There have been two applicants for the position; Adam Treeful and Randall Knudson. Both are qualified for the position. It was recommended the Board approve the appointment of Adam Treeful for the At-Large position and Randall Knudson for the At-Large Alternate position. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 
  • Federal Recreational Trail Grant. The 2016 Cook County Comprehensive Trails Plan identifies several key action items aimed at improving the experience and safety for trail users in Cook County. This project proposes to accomplish some of the top priority items from that plan including the implementation of standardized and consistent trail signs and the development of GIS data that meets identified mapping and navigational needs. The Federal Recreational Trails Program grant requires 25% matching funds. The grant request is for $54,737. In-kind volunteer labor totaling $5,000 accounts for a portion of these matching funds while the remaining $14,000 has been committed by the Tourism Association. Motion was made and carried unanimously.

Bill Lane, Zoning Administrator, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Home business Interim Use Permit for Jim Sannerud. The Cook County Planning Commission unanimously approved Mr. Sannerud's application for a home business operation adjacent to Cook County Road 48. The Interim Use Permit include construction of a business specific building for Mr. Sannerud’s Scandinavian furniture design operation. This would be an artisan-based small business operation of 2,700 square feet. The Planning Commission expressed no concerns and recommended approval for the permit. Motion was made and carried unanimously.  

Tim Nelson, Land Service Director, and Amanda Weberg, AIS Coordinator, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) delegation agreement renewal. Request Board approval of renewal of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) delegation agreement allowing Cook County AIS to hire, train, schedule and supervise DNR authorized watercraft inspectors. This agreement expires every three years. This agreement enhances the capacity to prevent the spread of AIS by enabling local government entities to perform inspections and manage access to water resources. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 

Auditor Report

Braidy Powers, Auditor/Treasurer, brought the following items to the Board for action:

  • Sugarbush Trail Association Recreational Equipment Loan. Request for Board approval of a five-year $30,000 loan to Sugarbush Trail Association for grooming equipment. The Association maintains over 40 miles of cross-country ski trails and utilizes a pisten bully to maintain these trails. The old pisten bully was purchased used in 2003 from Bluefin Resorts and is no longer operational. The cost of a newer used piston bully is estimated to be $180,000. Sugarbush has raised all but $30,000 for this and is requesting loan. There have been no defaults of County loans to other local organizations, fire departments, recreation clubs and other non-profits, therefore it was recommended to approve the loan. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 
  • Addition to the agenda for Federal Recreational Program Grant. The due date for this grant is Feb 28. It will allow the North Shore Ski and Run club to purchase a snowmobile and other equipment that will replace aging and outdated equipment. The purchase of the new equipment will improve trail maintenance and would require no County funds. The total sum of $14,078 will be covered by the grant. Motion was made and carried unanimously.
  • Permit for gambling. Request Board approve resolution to hold a raffle by the Gunflint Mail Run. This is a one-day event on Oct 31, to be held at the Trail Center Lodge. The $5 fee has been received and all requirements have been met by the organization. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 
  • Amend 2019 budget. This amendment is to correct the Airport Budgeted revenue and expense with no levy change and to amend the Sales Tax Revenue Bond due to a recalculation of expected results with no levy change. The amended includes lowering the Equipment Bond Levy based upon the results of a required arbitrage analysis by $87,872 and offsetting the reduction by increasing the Capital Improvement Project Bond Levy by $87,872. By increasing the Capital Improvement Project Bond Levy in 2019, you will reduce the effect of the required increase for that levy in 2020. Motion was made and carried unanimously.

Administrator Update

Jeff Cadwell, County Administrator, brought the following items to the Board for discussion:

  • Discussion of the Financial Management Plan and the Space Needs Assessment provided by WOLD. The Financial plan accommodates future capital needs by maintaining a balance of investment and planning for future projects. The County retired a capital bond in 2017 and allowed the savings to be used for operations instead of maintaining capital capacity. The County will be retiring additional debt in 2020 and cannot afford to ignore future capital needs while budgeting. Whether the Board continues with the jail project or not, consideration for future capital needs need to be included in the budget.
  • Approval to hire Social Worker I candidate. The Board approved the positing of a Social Worker I position to fill vacancy. Interviews were conducted, and scoring completed. The top candidate was Olivia Bonander, a former employee and Social Worker of Cook County. Request Board approval to re-hire Ms. Bonander for the Social Worker I position. Motion was made and carried unanimously.

Employee Concerns/Commissioner Concerns

  • Commissioner Doo-Kirk reported that she attended the Futures meeting which included a crisis management presentation and completed another FEMA training. The Commissioner stated that there is not fair and equal distribution to the Committees and requested that the Commissioner’s review the committee list in March in order to distribute them evenly and assure commissioner attendance. 
  • Commissioner Mills will be attending the AMC Leadership Summit and is interested in attending the Association of Minnesota Coutnies Roundtable Conference. The Board discussed the importance of the Commissioners attending the AMC Conference and agreed the Commissioner Mills should attend the event.
  • Commissioner Bursheim wanted to express recognition and gratefulness to the public works, public safety and rescue staff for all their work during this difficult winter.
  • Meetings to Note. The Joint Powers Board meeting will be held Thursday, Feb 28 hosted by ISD 166 Cook County School.


  • Cook County 1% Local Option Sales Tax Summary
  • Cook County Historical Society Agenda

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

Contact: Jeff Cadwell, Cook County Administrator, 218-387-3687 or [email protected]

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