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News and other information from Cook County

County Attorney Molly Hicken receives Meritorious Service Award

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 4:43pm

On December 3-5, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association (MCAA) held its 37th annual meeting at the Hilton Minneapolis. On Thursday, December 4, an awards banquet was held and Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken was named the 2014 recipient of the MCAA Meritorious Service Award.

The Meritorious Service Award honors an MCAA member show has demonstrated leadership in his or her office.

Hicken was recognized for her heroic actions during the courthouse shooting on December 15, 2011 and for her bravery in returning to work as assistant county attorney in the same office where the shooting occurred less than a week later.

It was noted that since that time Hicken has stepped up to fulfill obligations far beyond the designated responsibilities of the assistant county attorney, maintaining the entire criminal and juvenile caseloads, serving as legal advisor for department heads and the board of commissioners, and running the County Attorney’s Office in the absence of then-County Attorney Tim Scannell as he recovered from his near-fatal injuries and eventually was removed from office.

The MCAA program said, “It would be an understatement to say that Molly has weathered some challenging times in her role as assistant county attorney. However, because of her sheer determination, constant perseverance, and positive can-do attitude, she has come out on top.”

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This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~ www.cookcountynews-herald.com

County recognized for septic regulation implementation

Sun, 12/21/2014 - 4:42pm

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs bestows the Local Government Innovation Awards (LGIA) to recognize creative ways counties, cities, and schools are doing things differently and making Minnesota better. Cook County has earned Overall Honors for counties in the 2014 awards cycle for the county’s septic regulation implementation.

The winner in each of the four categories receives a professional video highlighting its work and a $5,000 grant from the Bush Foundation to continue local government innovation and redesign.

Cook County Planning Director Tim Nelson, whose department receives the award, said the first $500 of the $5,000 would be earmarked to host a class for contractors to receive training on how to install the new systems and to promote wise building practices.

Nelson said, “We are certainly grateful to all of the committee members who put in a lot of time and work into the project, and grateful to all of the citizen such as Kristin DeArruda-Wharton, Mark Adams and Margaret Watkins that were passionate and participated in the process as well,” Nelson said.

Attending the awards ceremony were Environmental Health Officer Mitch Everson, Kristin Wharton, Margaret Watkins and Mark Adams.   

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This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~ www.cookcountynews-herald.com

Weekend News Roundup for December 20

Sat, 12/20/2014 - 10:19am

Each week the WTIP news department puts together a roundup of the weeks top    news stories. Soil and Water gets a big grant, the Sandpiper oil line gets a law suit, and wolves and ice caves were also in the headlines …all this and more in the week’s news.

Program: 

Listen to the Story

New Ruling Classifies Minnesota Wolves As Threatened

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 7:46pm
feedsetimg.jpeg

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, effective immediately, Minnesotans can no longer legally kill a wolf except in the defense of human life.

A federal judge’s decision to immediately reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and
Michigan place the animals under protection of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wolves now revert to the federal protection status they had prior to being removed from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes
region in January 2012. That means wolves now are federally classified as threatened in Minnesota and endangered elsewhere in the Great Lakes region.

Only agents of the government are authorized to take wolves if depredation occurs.

(Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR)
 

As city levy deadline nears, council considers no increase

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 9:44am

With an end-of-the-year deadline to adopt a 2015 property tax levy looming, Grand Marais city councilors agreed Dec. 10 to leave the levy number unchanged from this year’s figure. If councilors follow up those sentiments with their official budget and levy resolution on Dec. 31, it will be the third year in a row taxpayers will be assessed a levy of $824,152.

Councilors had proposed setting the levy at $839,783–a 1.9 percent increase over this year–in September when the preliminary levy and budget were adopted. Since then, the numbers have been revised downward, resulting in a tentative $832,059 levy–a 0.96 percent increase–that came under scrutiny Dec. 10.

The proposed $8,000 reduction in the preliminary levy is the result of an anticipated increase in revenues from the Rec Park and campground.

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This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~ www.cookcountynews-herald.com

County sets levy with increase of 6.67 increase

Fri, 12/19/2014 - 9:43am

Exhausted, exasperated and looking ready to surrender, the county board did some last minute number crunching and cut the final 2015 levy to 6.67 percent at its Tuesday, December 16, 2014 meeting.

Voting for the levy of $6,516,740 were Commissioners Bruce Martinson, Jan Hall and Heidi Doo-Kirk. Voting against was Garry Gamble. Commissioner Sue Hakes was absent because she was out of town.

The board has wrestled and wrangled over the budget since it received requests totaling $7,808,997 in July, a 27.8 percent increase from the 2014 levy. Over the course of the last five months the board has pared that number by $1,292,257.

Still there were last minute cuts. They came mostly from nonprofit requests and totaled $20,000. The board cut $3,000 from Birch Grove School; $1,000 for Incredible Exchange; $5,000 from Higher Education; $10,000 from the Birch Grove Foundation; and $1,000 from Soil & Water.

Commissioner Gamble said he didn’t like the process the board used, feeling it picked “winners and losers” and advocated for a more fair way to divvy out taxpayer dollars and cautioned that the board should be more prudent with the dollars on hand.

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This local news is provided by the Cook County News-Herald ~ www.cookcountynews-herald.com