Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

North Shore Forest Collaborative hosts meeting to discuss conifer forest restoration Wednesday at Gunflint Ranger District

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:37pm

Learn about the efforts to restore the conifer forest along the North Shore of Lake Superior and take an active role in making that restoration happen at two public meetings hosted by the North Shore Forest Collaborative (NSFC). Attendees will be able to review and discuss key goals and projects proposed by the Collaborative as well as learn how they can help accomplish those projects.

The first meeting is at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 in Grand Marais at the Gunflint Ranger District Office on Highway 61.  The second meeting is the next day, Jan. 29 in Two Harbors at the County Courthouse, Law Enforcement Conference Room. 

The mission of the North Shore Forest Collaborative (NSFC) is to revitalize and maintain a healthy and functioning ecosystem along the North Shore of Lake Superior with emphasis on restoring and maintaining native trees and associated forest communities.  The Collaborative was formed in 2011 and its members include natural resource professionals, nonprofits, local units of government and agencies, and perhaps most importantly, private landowners and interested citizens.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with both private and public landowners on restoration efforts. We believe the restoration effort will be contagious and spread throughout the North Shore as neighbors share information with each other, and work together on tree planting and other restoration activities.  These meetings are a good opportunity for landowners to learn how they can begin the restoration process and have a say in how they can help” said Duane Lula, coordinator for the NSFC.  

City to evaluate energy efficiency and use of space at City Hall

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:35pm

The Grand Marais City Council talked about ongoing efforts to make better use of the space in City Hall at the Wednesday, January 14 council meeting. The council accepted a bid from Building Performance Specialists to perform an energy and asset assessment at a cost not to exceed $6,120.

City Administrator Mike Roth said the analysis will incorporate more than just energy efficiency and will help determine “what is it really costing us to use this building?”

The result may be development of a long-range plan for the building or a recommendation to ultimately abandon it and relocate the city’s administrative offices.

**************

This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com

Varsity Knowledge Bowl team competing well

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:33pm

Knowledge Bowl competition continues—the Cook County High School varsity team is now competing. The team had its first competition at the beginning of January and the team of Jerod Spry, Sean MacDonell and Linnea Gesch came in 1st out of 23 teams and the team of Jenny Neuwirth, Libby Zafft and Marin Hay came in 8th place.

The next competition is on January 28 in Mountain Iron.

Congratulations and good luck to the Knowledge Bowl team! 

******************

This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com

Minnesota tightens walleye rules for 3 popular BWCAW lakes

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:15am
feedsetimg.jpeg

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Authorities are tightening walleye regulations for three lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area but loosening them for another popular northern Minnesota lake.

The Department of Natural Resources announced the changes Monday as part of special regulations for nearly three dozen waters statewide that take effect March 1.

For Saganaga, Sea Gull and Gull lakes in Cook County, walleyes must be at least 17 inches long and the bag limit will be three instead of six. The change is meant to protect small walleyes in those lakes, which all lie partly in the BWCAW.

Fish managers have been concerned for several years about low numbers of young walleye seen in these lakes, and the possibility that without some protection, those low numbers would result in even lower numbers of adult fish, with further reductions in spawning success. Effects of this regulation will be studied for the next 10 years, and will be reviewed with the public in 2024.

But the DNR will relax size restrictions to give anglers more chances to keep walleyes from Lake Winnibigoshish. The protected slot there will be 18 to 23 inches, compared with the previous 17- to-26 inch slot.

Changed and new special and experimental regulations will be posted at public accesses on affected lakes and become effective March 1

 

County begins search for new county administrator

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 1:52pm

Cook County Commissioners once again tackled the difficult question of how to proceed regarding a county administrator, turning to a consultant for assistance at the January 20 board meeting.

The board reviewed a potential job description for a new county administrator, one with fewer human resources (HR) duties. Auditor Braidy Powers explained that consultant David Unmacht of Springsted advised that typically county administrators are not involved in the day-to-day HR activities.

However, commissioners noted that HR needs must still be met and there was discussion of how to do that.

Commissioner Garry Gamble said he is comfortable hiring Springsted to assist in hiring an administrator. He said the biggest risk in not working with the consultant was not having the talented pool of applicants that Springsted has on file.

Commissioner Frank Moe asked how helpful Springsted had been in the previous hiring. Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said very helpful. She pointed out that there were 28 applicants in the last hiring process. Gamble noted that Unmacht was familiar with many candidates and gave recommendations that helped narrow the field.

Commissioners spent some time with Springsted’s Unmacht on the phone, asking what he thought it would cost the county to have him recruit, screen and assist with interviews. He said it could cost about $5,000, but would likely not go over $10,000. He said a typical search costs about $15,000.

Unmacht suggested the county make its decision one step at a time. He suggested hiring his firm to recruit county administrator applicants at an expense not to exceed $3,000. Unmacht said, “Then, when we have applicants, we can decide if you want to proceed.” 

Moe noted that one of the primary concerns he has heard from his east end constituents is spending—in particular spending on consultants.

Grand Marais City Council to accept grants for more work toward district heating project

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 1:49pm

On Wednesday, January 14, the new Grand Marais City Council voted to accept two grants of $50,000 each that will be used to fund the next steps of a proposed district heating project.

Arvis Thompson attended the meeting to express some concerns she had with the project and asked several questions, as did council members. Most of the questions centered on what kind of commitment (financial or otherwise) the city would be getting itself into once the funds are accepted, and the risk involved to the taxpayers.

Councilor Tim Kennedy, who is knowledgeable with the proposal through his work as the city’s liaison with the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP), said the portions of the project to be funded with the grants (which includes seeking customer contracts, bidding out expenses and seeking financing through state bonding or other sources) are necessary to make a determination of whether the city has a project.

Kennedy said, “We need to know if we have the customers out there to support paying for this proposal. If we do, then we move on.”

The timeline calls for signed contracts to be procured by mid-March.

City Administrator Mike Roth said that if there are any misgivings once the next phase gets under way the city can suspend it at any time.

***************

This local news is provided by Cook County News-Herald. Visit the community newspaper at www.cookcountynews-herald.com