Around Cook County
For the last eight years, on the last Saturday of every month, the classic country band Portage has performed at the Cook County North Shore Care Center to the delight of care center residents, family members and friends and care center staff. This wonderful musical tradition has been recognized by Aging Services in Minnesota. Portage was presented with the Stars Among Us 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award at the annual Aging Services in Minnesota Institute at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis on February 6, 2013.
Portage was nominated for the award by Care Center Activities Director Kay Rosenthal, who explained that Portage has been performing for elders in Cook County and beyond for more than 10 years. “They have had a long standing gig at our Care Center the last Saturday of every month for the past eight years,” wrote Rosenthal, adding, “And they know how to fill the dance floor—our dining room—every time!”
Members of Portage are Jim Spry, Butch Deschampe, Arvid Dahl, Tom Hoy and Joe Peterson. Sue Maijala was a former drummer in previous years.
Portage will be back at the Care Center on February 23—the last Saturday of the month—once again to share their talents. Rosenthal said a special celebration is planned at 6:30 p.m. that day to congratulate Portage for being the 2013 Volunteers of the Year. They truly are “Stars Among Us!”
After its second calendar year of being collected, the Cook County 1 percent recreation and infrastructure sales tax showed an increase of 9.2 percent over revenue from the year before. In 2012, the tax brought in $1,234,919.33.
The 1 percent tax is funding numerous projects throughout the county, including the Grand Marais Public Library addition, recreational enhancements at Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte, the installation of broadband fiber optic infrastructure to everyone on the electrical grid, improvements at Superior National at Lutsen Golf Course, research regarding the feasibility of a biomass district heating plant in Grand Marais, and a new community center facility attached to Cook County High School along with outdoor recreational amenities on county property nearby.
The three Cook County lodging tax districts brought in $916,917.52 in 2012, an increase of 4.9 percent over the year before based on the businesses that had completed their reports when results were tabulated.
The Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association brought in $588,124.14, an increase of 3.1 percent over 2011. The Gunflint Trail Tourism Association brought in $110,058.06, an increase of 7.3 percent. The Grand Marais Area Tourism Association brought in $218,735.32, an increase of 9.1 percent.
Ely did not fare nearly as well. Its lodging tax revenue went from $260,540.75 in 2011 to $255,797.46 in 2012, a decrease of 1.8 percent.
The Poplar River Management Board (PRMB) continues to make progress on large-scale projects to reduce sediment from the lower segment of the Poplar River in Lutsen.
Ten contractors submitted bids for the next project, the Caribou Highlands Flowpath. According to PRMB President Tom Rider, the three lowest bidders were all very qualified companies. The contract went to Reuben Johnson & Sons of Superior, Wisconsin with a bid of $157,000.
The Caribou Highlands Flowpath project will involve the installation of erosion control measures along the strip of land between Caribou Highlands, which sits on a bluff, and the river. It will capture all the storm water originating on the Caribou Highlands property. The land directly adjacent to the river is owned by Lutsen Mountains and includes a ski trail and an access road.
“It’s a pretty important project due to the proximity of this resort to the river and the scale of land and storm water involved,” Rider said. The work will start this spring and is expected to be completed in June or July.
“We also have two other smaller conservation projects that will be carried out this summer – the Mystery Mountain Flowpath Project and the Lower Eagle Mountain Road Project,” said Rider. A request for bids will go out later this winter with construction to take place this summer.
At the February 4 bimonthly PRMB meeting, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reported on data trends regarding sediment levels in the Poplar River. Measurements gathered from 2009 to 2011 show a 35 percent reduction from previous levels. Rider said this reduction is expected to grow as completed projects mature on the landscape, such as the Ullr Tightline that was completed in 2012, and as additional projects are added, such as the ones to be completed this summer.
Lutsen, MN – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) provided updated data trends on sediment in the Poplar River to the Poplar River Management Board in February. MPCA has estimated that total suspended solid (sediment) loads have been reduced by about 35% since 2006.
The sediment loads from 2002 to 2006 was about 1,000 tons per year, while the average load for the years 2009 through 2011 was about 660 tons per year.
Tom Rider, President of the Poplar River Management Board said the report was good news. “We have worked since 2005 identifying the most significant sources of sediment and implementing best management practices and conservation projects.”
The MPCA analysis suggests continued decrease in sediment loading should be expected from projects implemented in 2012 and planned for 2013. This includes the Ullr Tightline project that was completed in November of 2012 with estimated sediment reductions of 90 tons/year.
The snow may be piled up all over Grand Marais, but that didn’t stop the Grand Marais Park Board from discussing plans for the Community Connections walkway into the Grand Marais Recreation Area at its February 5 meeting.
North House Folk School Executive Director Greg Wright was on hand to discuss plans that timber frame designer and instructor Peter Henrikson had drawn up for a pedestrian bridge on the Community Connections walkway. The Community Connections project will lead pedestrians from the highway down into the northeast section of the park next to North House. Wright had designs for a covered bridge and an uncovered bridge.
Wright said North House never uses treated lumber and recommended that they use large tamarack beams from International Falls if the bridge were uncovered because tamarack is more resistant to rotting from moisture. A covered bridge would lengthen the life of the bridge because it would provide more protection from moisture.
“The covered is more expensive, but the covered is more beautiful,” said Bill Lenz.
The board talked about how a covered timber frame bridge would look and how it would affect views of the lake. “I don’t see it as an obstruction as much as an invitation,” said Sally Berg.
Park Manager Dave Tersteeg, who formerly worked in the landscaping field, said he sees the bridge as a piece of landscape furniture. Board Chair Walt Mianowski said it would blend in well with the architecture of the North House. Berg said it would enhance the area like an architectural feature in a Chinese garden.
You didn’t know it, but you have training your whole life. Anytime you told a Sven & Ole joke at home or school or to your dog, you were sharpening your skills. And now it’s time to show the world just how good you have become at delivering a punch line.
On February 20 the first world championship Sven & Ole joke-telling competition will be held at Sven & Oles pizzeria at 7 p.m. Competitors should get there a little bit before 7 p.m. to warm up their gums and loosen their tongues.
First prize is a $50 gift certificate and the right to call yourself a World Champion. A $25 gift certificate will be given to the contestant judged to have the best Scandinavian accent.
All participants will get a prize of some sort.
There is a strong rumor that two young Norwegian journalists will be on hand to take pictures and use some of the film for their interactive documentary project. At least that’s what Sven said. Ole couldn’t be reached because he was busy cutting lutefisk into heart shapes to give to Lena for Valentine’s Day.
Uffdah, won’t she be happy?
Have you been wishing for those one-of-a-kind cookies that
you can only purchase at a certain time of the year? Have you been
thinking of Thin Mints? Craving Caramel Delights? Longing for
Lemonades? Well, you are in luck because Cook County Girl Scouts have
cookies and they are selling!
Cook County Girl Scouts now offer direct sales, which means you don’t
have to order your cookies and wait weeks to get them. The cookies are
here in Cook County, so most of the time when you buy, you receive
your cookies immediately if they are in stock.
So find your favorite Girl Scout and buy cookies for yourself, your
relatives, and your friends. Cookies are a great way to say “Thank
you” or “I’m thinking of you!”
And whether you enjoy them all yourselves or whether you share, buying
cookies from a Girl Scout is more than just handing over money for a
treat. For the girls, selling cookies teaches goal setting, decision-
making, money management, people skills and business ethics. All
things essential to leadership, to success and to life.
For nearly 100 years, Girl Scouts have been selling cookies, earning
money to help support their troops’ activities and to contribute to
their communities. And Cook County Girl Scouts are happy to carry on
So, look for your favorite scout to buy some Peanut Butter Patties,
Thanks-A-Lots or, new this year, Mango Cremes.
There were a few finishing touches to be done on the newly
renovated Lutsen Town Hall, so Lutsen supervisors convened the
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 meeting one last time in town’s old meeting
space. Along with usual monthly business, the town board talked about
parking and considered rental prices and policies for the new town
It was noted that with more space for people, more space for vehicles
is needed. Treasurer John Groth said a citizen had asked if the ball
field fence could be removed and parking extended to the east. The
cost to extend the parking lot would be $21,000 for an area 80’x90.’
To add an additional space of 24’x50’ for overflow would be $27,000.
It was agreed to discuss this at the upcoming annual meeting, on March
Supervisor Ginny Storlie shared a draft rental policy, but said she
had heard from current users of the hall, asking if their rate could
stay the same. The board agreed to give the group that currently meets
at the hall the same rate for a year, to be reconsidered after that.
Otherwise, the town board is considering charging $50 for a group of
25-50 people or $100 for 51- 100 people.
The next town meeting will be held in the newly expanded town hall
space on February 19 at 7 p.m. Prior to the regular monthly meeting,
the town board will hold its annual board of audit at 5:30 p.m. and
then a budget meeting at 6 p.m.
On Wednesday, February 13, the Cook County
Senior Center was filled with excited representatives from area
nonprofits. It was time for twice-yearly distribution of profits from
the First & Second Thrift Store in Grand Marais, which is always a fun
event. Throughout the year, volunteers staff the thrift store and the
donation center, accumulating hours to be credited toward their
designated organization. No one is sure just what they’ve “earned”
until the numbers are tallied and announced at the gathering. It’s
always a pleasant surprise for the volunteers and the nonprofit
organizations to see just how much has been raised.
At the gathering this week, 25 different organizations received a
portion of the $20,044.75 made at the thrift store from July 1, 2012
to December 31, 2012. In all 68 volunteers worked a total of 1822.25
hours! The payout amount for this period was $11 per hour. The payout
varies depending on store profits and expenses, but since the store
opened in 2007, local nonprofits have received $$198,214.98.
First & Second is located in the Cobblestone building next to
Pumphouse Fitness. The store is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The warehouse for accepting donations of clean, lightly used items is
located on the south side of the garage behind the Cook County Senior
Center. The donation center is open Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m.
to 1 p.m.
If you are interested in volunteering at the thrift store and
raising some money for your favorite local nonprofit, contact Thrift
At their Feb. 12 meeting, county commissioners did not
disagree with the notion that the Assessor’s Office has a lot of work
to do or that keeping more detailed property records is a good idea,
but they weren’t ready at their February 12 county board meeting to
grant Assessor Betty Schultz’s request for a new position in the
The Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR) requires that counties
assess at least one-fifth of their properties – called a quintile –
each year so that all properties get assessed at least every five
years. The DOR is in the process of conducting a review of all
Minnesota assessor offices to gauge compliance.
Cook County has not been able to meet the quintile requirement for
years, and Assessor Schultz is trying to figure out how her department
is going to do it. She said the DOR has told her the county must be
in compliance within five years. “It’s a serious responsibility,” she
said. “Right now we cannot meet the requirements at the current level
In addition to increasing the number of assessments the department
will be doing each year, the county board has authorized Schultz to
gather more detailed information on all properties and implement a new
computer system to track that information.
The onsite assessment will involve measuring land elevations, views,
access, lakeshore footage, roadways, tillable soils, water, sewer, and
electric utilities, and buildings, including quality, condition, story
heights, open vault areas, age, decks and porches, differing uses
Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. A lawsuit to stop the Lake Superior region wolf hunts has been filed. There’s a new mining process being tested, Post Office woes in Duluth and a conversation with Rep. David Dill…all in this week’s news.
The North Shore Music Association invites the community to
the 2013 Local Musicians Showcase on Saturday, February 16 at 7:30
p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts in Grand Marais.
The showcase includes Samuel Black on piano; Jane Howard on piano;
Pederson & Cora, a folk duo; Kent Johnson, acoustic guitar; Swamp
Donkey, psychedelic soul-rock and Cook County's Most Wanted, eclectic
blues and rock.
Tickets are $10 adults, $5 for students 18 and under. The event is
general seating, for sale at door or www.tix.com (no fees!)
Whether to work out project reductions with the lowest
bidders on the next phase of the Cook County Family YMCA building or
to re-bid the work was still in question after a discussion by the
county board on February 12. Wade Cole of ORB Management brought the
pros and cons to the commissioners after a conference call the day
before with attorney Ken Donovan.
When the bids for the next phase came in, they brought the project
cost to $1.96 million over its $9.5 million maximum. The Community
Center Steering Committee then came up with a list of how the costs
could be contained.
Attorney Donavon said there could be a legal risk if the county did
not re-bid the project. Companies that were not the low bidders could
take issue with not being able to re-bid when the project was changed
In the conference call, the attorney told the county representatives
that the need to re-bid or not depends in large part on the extent of
material changes within the project. Although there is no clear
definition of when a material change is large enough in scope to
require a re-bid, Mr. Donovan indicated that a 20 percent scope change
is sometimes used as a general rule.
After discussing the items that could be changed to bring costs down,
the attorney stated that the risk to the county was ‘not terribly
high’ and any second low bidder would have the burden of proof of
showing that the county had not done its due diligence.
Re-bidding the work would put the project behind about six to eight
weeks, bringing its completion into 2014.
Costs could also increase because of “reimbursables,” extra costs
PolyMet Mining announced Thursday that it has accomplished “numerous improvements” in solving potential environmental problems at its proposed copper mine and processing plant near Hoyt Lakes.
The Vancouver-based company said the advancements will reduce environmental impacts of the project, help ready its long-delayed draft Environmental Impact Statement for release this coming summer and should help move the project along through permitting and toward construction.
Company officials say the latest advancements include reductions in sulfur dioxide, mercury and greenhouse gas emissions, groundwater seepage containment and all water discharged from the project will be treated using reverse osmosis.
The North Shore Care Center is delighted to offer a special evening of music with The Sivertones tonight, February 14, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Sivertones will bring their eclectic mix of blues and jazz to the Care Center in a Valentine’s Day celebration.
Additional live music in February will be presented by the award-winning Portage band, Al Fuller, Susan Scherer, Myron Bursheim, and Harris Mills. The Care Center has become a venue for great music over the years. We thank everyone who contributes to the music and dancing scene—especially during these winter months to beat “cabin fever.”
For more information about activity programs or volunteer opportunities, please contact the Activity Department at 218.387.3518 or visit: www.nshorehospital.com.