Around Cook County
Celebrate your library in April as the Grand Marais Public Library kicks off National Library Week on Friday, April 12 with the Duluth Playhouse presentation of Ellie the Elephant at 3:30 p.m., an original adaptation of the fable of the elephant and the blind men by Sarah Ruth Diener. The free performance is best for children pre-school through grade 3.
For more information call Patsy Ingebrigtsen at the library, 218-387-1140.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Swiss firm has pledged to invest $80 million in PolyMet Mining's plans for a copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.
The investment by Swiss commodities giant Glencore AG includes $20 million in bridge loans and $60 million in equity. The Star Tribune reports the investment is expected to be finalized in June, pending regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Canada.
The investment would allow PolyMet to complete the lengthy environmental review and permitting process that has already been six years in the making at a cost of $50 million to date. Environmental permits and state regulatory approvals are required before mill work and mine construction can begin.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it will delay plans to cut Saturday mail delivery because Congress isn't allowing the change.
The Postal Service said in February that it planned to cut back in August to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages, as a way to hold down losses.
But a statement today from agency's Board of Governors notes that Congress has passed a spending bill that continues the longtime prohibition against reducing delivery days.
As a result, the board says it believes that Congress “has left it with no choice but to delay implementation” of the five-day-a-week plan.
Applications for Minnesota bear hunting licenses are available through May 3, the Department of Natural of Resources (DNR) has announced.
A total of 3,750 licenses are available in 11 permit areas. The number of available licenses for 2013 is about 35 percent fewer than the 6,000 licenses available in 2012. The 2012 bear harvest was 2,604. That was a 22 percent increase from 2011, despite 15 percent fewer bear quota licenses being available. The increase in harvest for 2012 was largely due to poorer fall food conditions, making bears more attracted to hunters’ baits.
The DNR’s goal with the lower license quotas is to allow for a gradual increase in the current bear population. The DNR monitors the bear population using a modeling technique based on ages of harvested bears, supplemented periodically by total population estimates based on mark-recapture data. Bear ages are determined from tooth samples that hunters are required to submit.
Notification to successful lottery winners will be made in mid- to late May. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available to any eligible persons starting at noon Aug. 7.
Application for a bear license can be made at any DNR license agent, the DNR License Center in St. Paul, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or by phone at 888-665-4236. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. There is a $4 application fee.
Complete information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.
Snow in April? Well, according to Weather Service records, one of the biggest snow storms happened on April 5, 1933. That’s when 28 inches fell on the old Pigeon River Bridge crossing here in Cook County. That still stands as the state record for a 24 hour snowfall in April. Two Harbors measured 17 inches in one day during that same storm.
Don’t miss the 3rd annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend featuring artist Jim Ohlschmidt April 12 - 13 at Bluefin Bay Resort in Tofte, MN.
Friday, April 12 - Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt will play a couple of informal sets beginning at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 13 - Fingerstyle Guitar Workshops:
• 10:00 a.m. - Gordon Thorne will present “Fundamentals of the Form - Getting Started”
• 11:00 a.m. - Jim Ohlschmidt will present “John Hurt's Country Blue Guitar”
• lunch break
• 1:30 p.m. - Jim Ohlschmidt will present “Nashville Thumbstyle: a look at players such as Merle Travis, Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins”
The workshop fee is $50 for all workshops and lunch. To register contact Gordon - email@example.com - or call 218-353-7308
Saturday, April 13 – Evening concert:
• 7:30 pm - Evening Concert featuring Gordon Thorne & Jim Ohlschmidt.
The concert tickets are $15, available at the door or can be reserved by calling Bluefin @ 218- 663-6200 or Gordon @ 218-353-7308
All proceeds benefit WTIP!
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) nongame wildlife program is recruiting volunteers for a frog and toad calling survey to help track the health of the state’s 14 species. This effort is part of the nationwide North American amphibian monitoring program.
"Without the dedication of generous volunteers, this project would not be possible,” said Heidi Cyr, frog and toad survey volunteer coordinator. “Many frog and toad species are indicators of habitat quality and provide valuable information on the condition of Minnesota’s wetlands. The volunteers’ reports also help us track the health of the state’s frog and toad populations.”
New volunteers are provided with a kit that includes a CD containing calls of Minnesota’s frog and toad species, a poster of Minnesota’s frogs and toads, a map of a pre-defined route in an area of their choice, and directions on how to run the route. A vehicle is required to travel between stops.
A lawyer who twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota has been appointed as special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges are warranted against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell for his relationship with a teenage girl.
The Duluth News Tribune reports former U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger, a 35-year lawyer working in private practice in Minneapolis, has been appointed special prosecutor to review the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation of Scannell.
Scannell, who was shot and seriously wounded in December 2011 by a sex offender he had just prosecuted, was ordered by the court last December to stay away from the minor girl.
According to the BCA’s petition to appoint a special prosecutor to the case, the bureau has conducted an investigation of Scannell’s relationship with the girl and is ready to submit the case to a prosecuting attorney to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
The BCA investigator assigned to the case contacted six county attorneys about their willingness to review the investigation for potential charges. All of the county attorneys declined. Hence, Heffelfinger was appointed to act as special prosecutor and perform all duties of the county attorney in relation to the Scannell case.
All the wet snow and there’s still more in the forecast. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with meteorologist Mike Stewart about this slow spring.
At the Tofte annual meeting on Tuesday, March 12, Supervisor Paul James said a design consultant is working with Temperance River State Park officials and the Minnesota Department of Transportation on increasing safety at the Temperance River wayside rest. The design they are working on would help prevent pedestrians from crossing the highway in so many places. An open house to discuss the plans will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at the Schroeder town hall. James said travelers want wayside rests that they can access directly off the road.
Town Clerk Barb Gervais volunteered to work with the park and cemetery committee on restoring or replacing the pavilion in the town park. She said she would like to see a timber frame structure put up and would be willing to apply for grants to get the necessary funding. The group talked about how the structure could be built to shelter people from the cold and how lighting could discourage vandalism.
The monthly birthday party at the North Shore Care Center will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 10 to honor Lorraine Duininck, Earl Anderson, and Delores McLean. Cake and ice cream will be served at 3:00 p.m. along with piano classics performed by Doug Sanders.
There are volunteer opportunities for all ages at the North Shore Care Center. For more information about the activity calendar or volunteer programs, please contact the Activity Dept. at 218-387-3518 or visit our website www.nshorehospital.com.
If you are interested in learning about water monitoring and using some great equipment, an opportunity is available – Cook County Soil & Water is still in need of water monitors. Volunteers are needed to fill in as substitutes and to possibly be responsible for one water body for a season. The season runs from May-September.A mandatory training will be held Tuesday, April 16 from 9 to 11:45 a.m., rain or shine. If you are interested in learning more and attending the training, contact Ilena Berg at 218-287-3648 or firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday, April 10.
On March 28, Paul Nelson and George Wilkes of the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) met with the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to discuss the possibility of the PUC being the fiscal agent for a biomass district heating plant grant of $200,000-$250,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The grant requires a significant amount of work to have been done already. Nelson said the biomass district heating project CCEP has been pursuing on behalf of the city of Grand Marais appears to be tailor-made for this grant, with all of the required background work already completed.
The PUC has agreed to be the owner of the proposed plant if it proves to be feasible. CCLEP has been working through a series of steps to determine the project’s feasibility, but for this grant, a fiscal agent with a more significant financial history, such as the PUC, is required.
CCLEP has retained the services of FVB Energy Inc., which has estimated that a biomass plant, underground infrastructure, and hookups to the first customers would cost about $9 million.
Grand Marais Public Utilities (PUC) customers have undoubtedly noticed a new format to their monthly bills. The new format was recommended by the city’s energy cooperative, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) with the hope that a new feature comparing energy use with other customers will inspire people to reduce their use of energy.
The new format shows residential customers how their own energy use compares with that of people with homes of similar size, age, and heat sources. Grand Marais has been divided up into numerous groupings.
According to the SMMPA website, “The Household Energy Comparison is aimed at giving you a better understanding of your electric consumption and provides additional ways to use energy wisely. Similar programs across Minnesota have found that customers save an average of 1.5 percent on their monthly electric bills.
The Cook County High School Industrial Arts Trust Fund doesn’t have a fancy name and the one who inspired it won’t let it be named after him, but it is in place and awaiting support from the community.
Last November, the ISD 166 school board decided to establish a fund to promote the industrial arts program and gave Leonard Sobanja, a long-time advocate of vocational education, the discretion to determine how it would be used.
Sobanja is a retired ISD 166 teacher, principal, and school board member. At the March 21 school board meeting, he thanked the board for motivating him to develop the Industrial Arts Trust Fund.
In a letter to the board, Sobanja wrote that he had given the fund’s guidelines a lot of thought. He decided the fund should be used not for scholarships but for building the CCHS Industrial Arts Department.
The guidelines state, “The fund is dedicated to help build and furnish the space needed to meet the requirements of an up-to-date industrial arts facility that will allow students to experience the techniques needed in today’s labor market.”
The fund is open to donations from the community and funds raised will be placed in the school’s trust fund so they can enjoy the interest raised by that fund. Expenditures must be approved by a committee comprised of the superintendent, a school board member who advocates for technical education, the CCHS industrial arts teacher, the school counselor, and any teachers who have vocational education certificates.
Sobanja said he would like to see the fund grow and pointed out that new machinery is needed.
Hands-on learning is vital, Sobanja said.
The board unanimously passed a motion formally establishing the CCHS Industrial Arts Trust Fund.