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Boreal Community Media

March 26 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Mar 27, 2019 11:45AM ● By Editor

Media Release from Cook County MN - March 26, 2019

March 26 Board of Commissioners Meeting Highlights

Following are highlights and key priorities covered at the Tuesday, March 26 Board of Commissioners Meeting:

Additions/Adjustments to the Agenda

There were no additions or adjustments to the agenda.

Public Comment Period

  • Arvis Thompson wanted to thank Attorney Hicken for responding to her previous questions. Ms. Thompson asked the Board for clarification on why job descriptions reviews, and changes were on the agenda when the County just had a job reclassification study completed. Ms. Thompson would like to see that future job description reviews and changes be added to the agenda with a marked-up document showing exactly what changes were made.
  • Donna Lunke expressed gratitude to the Board for Thursday’s public hearing on the Jail project. Ms. Lunke stated that she did not feel that the County Administrator answered her questions regarding the cost benefit analysis of the project and was concerned that Administrator Cadwell had not shared any of the information with the Board. Ms. Lunke asked the Board what follow up procedures were in place when Administrator Cadwell did not deliver on information he previously stated he would.
  • Rae Piepho asked the Board to take a realistic look at the Jail project to determine what is really needed. Ms. Piepho asked the Board why no local contractors bid on the YMCA bathroom project and wanted to know if the project was advertised in the Duluth area.

Consent Agenda

All items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously:

        A.  Claims

        B.  Board Minutes

C. 2019 PC Replacement

D. Special Road Use Permit for Grand Marais Arts Festival

E. Advertisement for Summer Maintenance Bids

F. Advertisement for Bids, Aggregate Stockpile

G. Advertisement for Bids, Liquid Calcium Chloride

H. Kronos Billing Change

I. Mobile Devise Policy

J. Lake Superior Poplar River Water District Officer List

K. K9 Donations

L. Change to Commissioner Assignments

M. Agreement for Brush Disposal


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

  • Temporary Easement for Highway 61 Improvements. Requesting Board approval of temporary easement for Highway 61 property. The State provided the County with an appraisal and is offering $500 for a temporary easement of parcel 80-021-1315. The property is irregularly shaped and located at TH#61 and Gunflint Trail. The temporary easement would be used for construction space needed during the Highway 61 improvements and would be in effect until December 2022. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 
  • Airport Project Change Order. Requesting Board approval to authorize the Auditor/Treasurer to sign the change order and any other documents for the Beacon and Seaplane Ramp Replacement Project. It was discovered that the project required installation of a box to comply with electrical code. It also requires additional bituminous removal, crushed aggregate base course, hand placed rip rap and bituminous pavement patch. The cost of the change order is $7,783.37 based on the estimates. The costs are eligible for FAA and State funding and if approved by the Board, would cost the County 5% or lower. Motion made and carried unanimously.
  • Airport Grant for Equipment Purchase. Request Board approve by resolution of a $38,748.12 grant agreement with Minnesota Department of Transportation for the purchase of a pickup truck and snow plow. Request Board to authorize Board Chair and Auditor to execute the agreement to replace a 2004 Silverado pickup that currently has no value. The State will pay 75% of the total cost of $51,664.16 with the County cost being $12,916.04. Motion was made and carried unanimously.


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

  • Hovland Public Works Bid Award. Request Board approval to accept the bid for the Hovland Public Works project. The project and sitework can be completed with the funds available from the 2018A Capital Bond. Recommendations of the bid is as follows: Accept the bid from S&C Masonry for $1,182,000 with the following modifications: eliminate the industrial curtain rack and wash bay curtain (No. 6) for a savings of $26,000; stockpile soils onsite (No. 8) for a savings of $12,000; make additional contractor-negotiated changes for a savings of $40,000; and add a change order for septic work at a cost of $21,000. These modifications, combined with a 5% construction contingency, bring the revised contract total to $1,180,200. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 
  • County Assessor Appointment. Request Board to authorize the posting of the County Assessor vacancy. Todd Smith was conditionally appointed County Assessor in September 2016 and given two years to complete his Senior Assessors certification. Auditor/Treasurer Powers appointed Smith to fulfill the duties of Assessor for 90 days effective September 27, 2018. The Cook County board asked the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue for a 90-day extension of this appointment which was granted through March 26, 2019. Since Todd Smith did not get his credentials as a Senior Assessor within this time frame, the Minnesota Department of is requesting that Cook County take appropriate steps to fill this important position with a qualified candidate. The Department of Revenue granted another 90-day extension of the temporary appointment of Smith to allow the search to take place. Todd Smith has completed the paperwork and report needed for his credentials and is awaiting scoring of said paperwork. Mr. Smith has every confidence that he will receive his certification at which time he can officially apply for the County Assessor position. Motion made and carried unanimously.

Judy Hill, Human Resources Generalist, brought the following items to the Board for discussion:

  • Job Description Updates. Four job descriptions were brought to the Board for approval. Requesting to pull the job description for the System Administrator from consideration due to further changes to be made. This job description will be brought back to the Board for approval at the next meeting. The remaining three job descriptions for the Deputy Auditor/Treasurer/Bookkeeper, Community Center Assistant and Community Center/Extension Director all had minor changes to wording and responsibilities. Once the Board has approved the proposed job descriptions, a review of the scoring will be conducted and changed if necessary. The Personnel Committee has reviewed all job description changes and has recommended the Board approve the changes set forth. Motion was made and carried unanimously. 

Employee Concerns/Commissioner Concerns

  • Commissioner Storlie called for a discussion regarding Thursday’s Public Hearing about the proposed Jail project. Commissioners discussed the hearing and where to go from here. Unanimous decision was made to send the project back to the Core Committee for further review and recommendations. 
  • Commissioner Storlie brought concerns to the Board about the non-release of the Thye-Blatnik payment results. Commissioner Storlie is requesting that Cook County follow suit with Lake County and St. Louis County in writing a letter to the United States Forest Service regarding this matter and having said letter discussed at the next Board meeting.


  • Cook County Lodging Tax Comparison through Jan 31, 2019
  • Cook County Local Option Sales Tax Summary
  • Cook County Historical Society Agenda
  • Historical Society Board Facilities Plan

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.


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

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