Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Severe Weather Awareness Week, April 21-25 is time to think about being prepared

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 11:22am

Even with snow still on the ground, Emergency Management officials are planning for spring ice, mud, floods, thunderstorms, tornados, and even wildfires.

April 21-25 is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and here are some things residents should think about:

 • Stay informed: Check out the Department of Public Safety weather page at Each day it will focus on a different subject such as weather warnings, lightning and hail, floods, tornados, etc.

• Make a kit: Build a basic survival kit for when the electricity fails. It should include food and water for three days, a radio and flashlight, first aid, and personal items like toilet paper. A smaller “grab and go” evacuation kit should contain emergency contact information, medications, spare eyewear and documentation of pets, medical information, insurance, etc.

• Have a plan: What if you’re delayed or stranded by severe weather, or need to leave your home due to a storm-related power failure? Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle? Do you know how to reach your friends and family, or where you could go for shelter? Do your friends know where to look for you?

More information is available at

Visit now, before the weather hits.


Grand Marais Park Board researches canopy or tent for Harbor Park events

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 11:21am

At the March Grand Marais Park Board meeting, Park Board Chair Walt Mianowski asked Tersteeg to investigate why a “tensile” tent structure was never built in in the Harbor Park as originally planned. Mianowski, a member of the Grand Marais Lions Club, said the Lions would use such a structure for events at the Fisherman’s Picnic if one were there to use.

 After looking into the matter, Tersteeg learned that there wasn’t enough money to erect a structure, but at least four anchor bolts were put in the ground and could be used to secure a tent.

“I did some checking and found a company, KD Kanopy, that sells tent awnings that might work,” Tersteeg said.

He passed out drawings and a picture of one of the tent covers (no walls, just a roof) that would cost a little over $5,000.

“I can’t speak for all of the Lions, but that looks like it would work for us,” Mianowski said.

“What do you think?” Mianowski asked another Lions Club member, Mike Carlson, who was attending the meeting.

“Yes, that looks good to me,” said Carlson.

Tersteeg said two people could put up the structure in 30 minutes. He also said that if it is purchased he would recommend taking it down after each usage to extend its life.

Park Board Member Reid Dusheck suggested that if the park purchased the tent awning they make it available to the public to rent. “That way we could get some return on our investment,” he said.

“Would that be possible?” Mianowski asked Tersteeg.

“It might be possible because the kit I looked at comes with  30-inch steel spikes and a pole. It comes with everything you would need to put it up.”

The board agreed with Dusheck to explore that option and Tersteeg will do further research into the matter of purchasing a tent awning for the park

Northern Sustainability Symposium to focus on where our food comes from

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 2:09pm

Where does your food come from? With a little skill, the answer can be your own yard!

Foods: Grown and Gathered is the focus of this year’s Northern Sustainability Symposium, May 1-4, at North House Folk School, which features a buffet of coursework, speakers and gatherings to explore how food, sustainable living and health are linked.

Featured speakers at this year’s event include straw bale gardening pioneer Joel Karsten, who will lead a workshop and give a presentation on this simple method of producing food featured in his popular book Straw Bale Gardens. Also participating is bee researcher Mike Goblirsch, permaculturist Chad Johnson, and a Modern Hunter Gatherer roundtable discussion with wild crafting instructor Eric Edgin and hunting and fishing instructor Shawn Perich.

Event coursework includes 17 courses ranging in length from a half day to 4.5 days. Course topics include bee keeping, alternative heating, apple grafting, micro housing, herbal healthcare, fermentation and more. Registration is required for coursework.

Programming during the event also features a screening of the film Beyond the Lightswitch, a walk-along energy audit and grid-tied solar systems presentation, and a wood-fired community pizza bake potluck. A complete schedule of events is available at the school’s website, or call (218) 387-9762 for more information.

City and union employees reach agreement on 2014-2015 contract

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 2:02pm

The city’s union employees have a new contract.

Grand Marais City Council approved the terms of a two-year deal at their April 9 meeting. Union members approved the contract the following morning.

Mayor Larry Carlson, who participated in the negotiation process, said he was confident the union would approve the tentative agreement councilors reviewed at their meeting. “We ultimately agreed to what they asked for at the last meeting,” he said.

The new contract is retroactive to the beginning of 2014 and remains in effect through the end of 2015. It grants the approximately 20 members of the local union a 1.5 percent pay increase each year and spells out some minor changes in employment policies.

Also, as in past years, council voted to award supervisors the same wage increase as that given to union members.

Resolution on golf course bond postponed

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 5:55am

The resolution to set a public hearing concerning bonding for the Superior National Golf Course renovation project was put on hold at Tuesday’s Cook County Board of Commissioners meeting. The postponement, which will allow further discussion and consideration of alternative funding methods, is due in part to a letter from Commissioner Sue Hakes.

Hakes was unable to attend the meeting, but had submitted a letter to Jay Kieft, county administrator, expressing her reservations regarding the $2.2 million bonding proposal.

The proposal as now written obtains the funds through a tax abatement general obligation bond rather than through the originally stated revenue bond backed by projected golf course revenues. Hakes cites this as a significant change which entails the assumption of considerable risk by county taxpayers.

While it is acknowledged that the general obligation bond offers a lower interest rate and a considerable savings over the 20-year term of the bond, this is only possible because the county, rather than the bond holder, assumes the greater risk.

With a tax abatement general obligation bond as proposed, the debt would be secured by abated property taxes on 58 properties expected to benefit from planned improvements at the golf course. If future course revenues are not sufficient to make debt payments, the county, through the abated tax revenues, would be liable.

In her letter, Hakes proposed two alternatives for consideration – reduce the scope of the renovation project to avoid the need for bonding, or secure the bonding debt with the existing 2% lodging tax from Lutsen/Schroeder/Tofte townships.

Ex-investment adviser pleads to securities fraud

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 3:40am

Michael Drilling of Grand Marais pleaded guilty in federal court on April 17 to one count of securities fraud. The 47-year-old investment adviser was charged with defrauding 13 investors of nearly $6 million.

Drilling was a seasonal employee at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters the summers of 2012 and 2013 and lived at the Tip-of-the-Trail property he purchased at a county auction in June of last year.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Rank told WTIP that Drilling admitted to creating a scheme to defraud his investment advisory clients through his company, Financial Advisory Partners LLC. Drilling defrauded clients by stealing over $5.6 million of their investment funds between January 2010 and November 2013.

While the names of the defrauded investors are not public information, the plea agreement does state one such investor was from Minnesota. The rest apparently were located throughout the country.

Prior to establishing his own investment firm in May 2009, Drilling had worked in the field since 1995. The Star Tribune reports defense attorney Allan Caplan said Drilling, formerly of Prior Lake, spent the money on himself and lost it in investments and at casinos. Rank said some of Drilling's victims lost their life savings.

According to the plea agreement, Drilling agreed to forfeit all real and personal property derived from proceeds traceable to the frauds. This could include a property in Sedona, Arizona as well as the Tip-of-the-Trail property.

Sentencing will likely take place this summer after a full investigation. Drilling faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, supervised release and up to $150,000 and restitution.