Around Cook County
In August 2014 the Cook County Commissioners approved a request from the County Highway Department to construct an access road from a gravel pit near the airport to the Cook County Airport to be built and used by Northland Constructors during the runway extension project.
At that time, the highway department recommended approval with the condition that Northland Constructors, which was the successful bidder for the project, obtain all necessary permits. Highway Engineer David Betts and Assistant County Engineer Sam Muntean recommended approval because it would benefit the airport because trucks would not have to drive across the existing runway.
However, Airport Manger Rod Roy appeared before commissioners on Tuesday, November 25 to let them know the project would have to be rebid because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) had denied a permit necessary to construct the temporary road to the airport.
In a letter to the county, Darren Christopher of RS&H, the aviation firm working with Cook County on the runway extension, explained that the Corps of Engineers would not grant a permit to fill 750 square feet of wetland if there is an alternative haul route that can be used. Christopher said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) had also commented on the potential clearing of 0.60 acres. Because Cook County is a critical habitat for the Canadian lynx and the brown long-eared bat, USFWS indicated it would not “provide concurrence” for the clearing because an alternate route is available and should be utilized.
Roy said Northland Contractor’s bid of $1,468,200 was contingent on being able to use the haul road directly from the pit to the airport. Because the project had changed, the FAA requested that the project be rebid.
This year's Northwoods Fiber Guild Holiday Sale is Saturday, December 6th. WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Max Linehan and and Nina Simonowicz of the Guild on North Shore Morning.
Northwoods Fiber Guild Holiday Sale & Open House
Saturday, December 6, 2014 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Grand Marais Art Colony
120 3rd Ave. W.
Grand Marais, MN 55604
The county board spent several hours on Tuesday, November 25 going through proposed levy expenditures department-by-department, having lunch brought in—at their own expense—as they tried to reach consensus on county spending. The discussion will continue on Tuesday, December 2.
Commissioners have been working on the budget since June and at the end of September were looking at a staggering initial levy increase of 27.8 percent. On Monday, September 29 after 2½ hours of pouring over county budget information, commissioners agreed to set a maximum tax levy increase of 7 percent.
The board has been working with department heads and Auditor Braidy Powers since then to bring the levy numbers in line with that goal. At the November 25 meeting, Powers told the board that the proposed levy is now $6,536,740, which is 7 percent over the 2014 levy.
Powers explained some of the measures to get the levy in line with the 7 percent increase. He said $175,000 of funds that had been committed to other funds could be returned to the general fund, such as $93,750 earmarked as a deposit for the wildfire sprinkler grant and $20,000 from the county car replacement fund.
Powers had some good budget news for the board. The county had planned for a 5.2 percent increase in its health insurance. The increase will only be .6 percent, which will result in savings across all of the departments, for a total reduction of $58,103.
As commissioners prepared to tackle department budgets, Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk said she wanted to make sure that before any cuts were made to county employees, the county took a close look at donations to nonprofit organizations. Doo-Kirk noted that these entities do a lot of good in the community but said, “I hate to take away from our employees.”
With the help of the Red Cross, Americans can send holiday cards with season’s greetings and holiday wishes to military members and veterans who cannot be with their families this season.
This year, local Red Cross chapters are playing a major role in the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program. Card-making and signing events will be organized at the community level and the local Red Cross offices will distribute the completed cards to military instillations, medical facilities and veteran organizations in the U.S. The American National Red Cross will deliver cards to military members serving abroad.
“It just takes a moment to sign a card and share your appreciation for the sacrifices made by members of the military and veteran communities. In the Northland, we are especially in need of cards made specifically for veterans,” said Dan Williams, director for the American Red Cross serving northern Minnesota. “Start a new tradition with your family this holiday season – create holiday cards and share your thanks with our heroes."
To participate in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, mail or drop off cards at your local chapter: American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Program, 2524 Maple Grove Road, Duluth, MN 55811.
To ensure card delivery in time for the holidays, the local Red Cross office must receive cards no later than Friday, Dec. 5. Individuals are asked to refrain from sending letters, monetary donations, or any other inserts with the cards and from using glitter.
Yes, it will be chilly for the next couple of days, then slowly warm up to the 20’s by week’s end. But, not much snow. WTIPs Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson.
Each week the WTIP news department puts together a roundup of the weeks top news stories. A new route for an old pipeline, concern over a new invasive insect, a U of M asbestos study and coal powered power plants get back on line…all this and more in the week’s news.