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News and other information from Cook County

County approves promotion of Deputy Ben Hallberg to chief deputy sheriff.

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 7:22pm

 On the recommendation of soon-to-be Interim Sheriff Leif Lunde, the Cook County Board approved the promotion of Benjamin Hallberg from deputy sheriff to chief deputy sheriff.

Lunde, who was chosen by Sheriff Mark Falk and the county commissioners to head the office upon Falk’s June 30 retirement, cited state statute when he appeared before the board June 17: “The sheriff of any county may appoint a chief deputy or first assistant with the approval of the county board.”

Hallberg has worked in the department since 2004, first as a dispatcher/jailer and then earning a peace officer’s license five years later when he began serving as a bailiff/transport officer. In 2011, Hallberg was promoted to deputy sheriff.

Lunde said, “Ben’s career with Cook County has been commendable. He has served in a variety of positions, giving him a deep understanding of the entire operation of the sheriff’s office.”  

Hallberg has also taken on a number of extra duties including coordination of the D.A.R.E. program, predatory offender registration enforcement and Search & Rescue, said Lunde.

Lunde’s letter of recommendation stated, “Ben’s employment record is stellar, with no disciplinary action ever taken against him I believe Ben is the best qualified deputy to fill the role of chief deputy.”

The board gave its unanimous support to Hallberg’s promotion, which becomes effective July 1 when Lunde assumes the position of sheriff.

The board also voted to give both Lunde and Hallberg pay increases corresponding to their new job titles and return rights to their former deputy sheriff positions in the event Lunde does not win election as sheriff in the fall.

Gunflint greening up -- it's time to tend the trees

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 7:20pm

The Ham Lake Fire started in May 2007, seven years ago.  It burned 76,000 acres in northeast Minnesota and western Ontario.  Since then, nearly 100,000 trees have been planted by volunteers at the annual Gunflint GreenUp events.

Now it is time to tend those trees by clipping away brush and hardwoods that are competing for sunlight and water.  One person armed with a pair of nippers can really make a difference to a conifer seedling that is overtopped by surrounding vegetation. 

The Forest Service, along with the Gunflint Trail Association and the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee, invite you to help keep these trees alive. Meet at the Trail’s End Campground boat landing at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 28, where the Forest Service will be clearing or “releasing” trees along the Seagull Nature Trail.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring lunch, gloves, and clippers or loppers. 

Volunteer planting of pine trees over the years, such as white, red and jack pine, has had a substantial impact on the Superior National Forest’s plan to increase long-lived conifers in this area while improving visual quality along the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway. 

Summer Performances Planned for the North Shore Community Swing Band

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 3:40pm

The North Shore Community Swing Band will be performing in the area this summer. WTIP's Mary Manning spoke with Kathy Bolstad about how the band has evolved in addition to future plans. 

Listen to the Story

Summer Naturalist Programs offered through the Superior National Forest

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 6:07pm

Cascade Lodge, Bluefin Bay, the Grand Marais Recreation Area… these are just a few locations where the Forest Service hosts programs to help you get to know your surroundings.  WTIP volunteer Mark Abrahamson talked to Steve Robertsen of the USDA Forest Service about the forest naturalist programs being offered this summer. 

More information is available on the Superior National Forest website and on their schedule of weekly events.  
 
 

Listen to the Story

Musical One-Man Show at the Grand Marais LIbrary on June 26

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 12:46pm

The Grand Marais Public Library will host a musical one-man show at 10:30 a.m. June 26.

The program will be presented by Jack Pearson, a storyteller and musician who uses his experience of imagination, spirit, folklore and history.  He will play songs on all types of instruments including guitar, fiddle, five-string banjo, mandolin, jaw harp, and an assortment of small percussion instruments including his one-and-only amplified toy box lid.

Pearson has been blending songs and stories professionally for over 30 years.  His recordings have won multiple Parents’ Choice awards as he brings a fun family experience of music and stories that focus on books and the love of reading.

Providing good variety and well-paced participation, Pearson will explain how reading opens the twin doors of information and imagination no matter age or interests.

For more information, contact the library at (218) 387-1140.

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This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald

 www.cookcountynews-herald.com

County considers more intersection lighting and wider shoulders on the lower Gunflint Trail

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 12:27pm

On Tuesday, June 10, 2014, Cook County Commissioners considered two requests from County Engineer David Betts, which he described as “a little controversial.”

First Betts asked to set an informal public hearing to discuss the possible installation of intersection lighting at county state aid highway intersections. Lighting would be installed at County Road 8 and County Road 12; County Road 7 and County Road 6; County Road 7 and County Road 45. Betts said “downcast cutoff lights” will be used to minimize the spread of the light.

The work, if approved, would be done in 2015.

The second topic Betts brought to the table was the possibility of installing a two foot wide paved shoulder on the Gunflint Trail from the Grand Marais water tower to the four corners intersection near Gunflint Hills Golf Course.

One caveat to the installation was that it would include rumble strips, said Betts.

Betts said the county received a grant from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) for 2015 for about $90,000 to pave the shoulders and include rumble strips on the shoulder, but said that the grant was written before all of the controversy erupted over rumble strips.

“As we have certainly seen by the letters in the paper, there’s a real lack of appetite for rumble strips,” said Betts.

Commissioner Garry Gamble said that the commissioners should have a public meeting about the project because they have committed to that process in a workshop held specifically to discuss highway department projects. He asked Betts what he recommended.

“My recommendation would be to turn back the rumble strip money. All we would gain is rumble strips. We wouldn’t gain any useable space,” said Betts, noting that a rumble strip would be two feet wide. “I don’t see a lot of benefit to this.”