Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

County approves two Highway Department hires

Sat, 11/02/2013 - 12:13pm

The Highway Department had two Maintenance Worker II positions to fill this month.  By unanimous vote, the board authorized Highway Engineer David Betts to hire Jesse Backstrom to fill the Maintenance Worker II position vacated by Bill Bohnen.  In addition to that vacancy, Engineer Betts reported that Rick Motts, hired to replace Gary Blomberg when he retired last spring, had submitted his resignation and would be moving closer to family in Georgia.  

With another Maintenance Worker II position to fill, Engineer Betts said he pulled up the applicant list from last spring.  An interview team was comprised of District State Engineer Walter Leu, Engineer Betts, and Assistant Engineer Sam Muntean. Highway Department crewmembers Greg Thompson, Charlie Sawyer, and Dan Berglund also conducted a field test.

After explaining the process he had gone through to ensure fairness, Engineer Betts recommended hiring Norris Klegstad, son of Highway Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad.  Norris has been a “great” summer employee with the Highway Department, Betts said.  To not hire him because he is Russell Klegstad’s son, he said, would be “discriminatory.”  He said his job is to do what’s best for the department and there was no reason not hiring him would be best.  He said Russell would not be Norris’s supervisor.

The board authorized Betts to hire Norris Klegstad by a vote of 4-1, with Commissioner Bruce Martinson casting the no vote.

Weekend News Roundup for November 2

Sat, 11/02/2013 - 10:17am

Each week the WTIP news staff puts together a roundup of the news over the past five days. Critical minerals, Asian carp, the Sandpiper oil line and charges brought against the County Attorney…all in this week’s news.


Attached file

Two more chances to enjoy "Captain Louie Jr" at Grand Marais Playhouse

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 2:25pm


The community has greatly enjoyed the latest Grand Marais Playhouse production “Caption Louie Jr.”, a tale of imagination and friendship—and Halloween. The energetic and entertaining cast is ready to offer its final shows this weekend—Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Don’t miss this delightful spooky and silly musical adventure!

County Attorney Tim Scannell charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 3:23pm

Thomas B. Heffelfinger, the special prosecutor assigned to review the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation of County Attorney Tim Scannell, appeared at a press conference on the Cook County courthouse steps on Thursday, October 31. Joining Heffelfinger was Senior Special Agent Sue Burggraf of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a crowd of journalists from regional media outlets and about 50 citizens, anxious to hear whether or not Scannell would face charges related to his alleged romantic relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Heffelfinger announced that a special grand jury had been convened in St. Louis County with Judge Shaun Floerke presiding on October 21, 2013. On October 22, the grand jury issued an indictment and Scannell was notified of the grand jury’s decision on October 23.
Heffelfinger said that shortly before Thursday’s press conference, Scannell was charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 4th degree for events that allegedly took place August 1 and August 15, 2012. Heffelfinger said the charges were in regard to sexual contact with a person between the ages of 16 and 18 where the other person is more than 48 months older than the victim and in a position of authority.
Scannell, who has not been at work for more than a week and whose office voicemail states that he is on indefinite medical leave, was present at the Cook County courtroom for the indictment. Scannell’s father-in-law Attorney Richard Swanson is representing Scannell at this time, but Heffelfinger said Scannell’s representation after this point is unknown. 

County Board and Scannell issue statements regarding Grand Jury charges

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:42pm

After special prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger’s press conference Thursday announcing charges brought against County Attorney Tim Scannell, the County Commissioners issued a statement, as did Scannell.

“This statement is being issued on behalf of the Cook County Board of  Commissioners in response to the recent announcement by Special Prosecutor Tom Heffelfinger regarding the criminal charges filed against County Attorney Tim Scannell.

“Mr. Heffelfinger was appointed by Court Order, Special Prosecutor to assist the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The Cook County Board of Commissioners has not been involved in the investigation by Special Prosecutor Heffelfinger and has no control over it.

“By law, the Cook County Board of Commissioners has very limited authority over elected officials like the County Attorney. The Board does not have the authority to unilaterally reprimand, suspend, or remove an elected official. Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 351 sets forth the procedure that must be followed for a recall election of an elected official to take place when malfeasance or nonfeasance of an elected official is demonstrated.

“The Cook County Board of Commissioners will continue to proactively monitor the situation with the goal, to the fullest extent allowed by the law, of ensuring that the interests of all parties involved and the citizens of Cook County are protected. We encourage the community to remain patient and allow the legal process to work.”

On behalf of Tim Scannell, his attorney Richard Swanson issued the following statement:

“Tim Scannell and his family have been under extreme stress ever since the attempt on his life in December 2011, when he was shot multiple times and nearly died in the Cook County Courthouse.

Scannell charged with two felony counts

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 1:02pm
Crowd gathered at Cook County Courthouse to hear announcement from Special Prosecutor Thomas Heffelfinger

Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell has been charged with two counts of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges were announced today in Grand Marais by Special Cook County Prosecutor Thomas B. Heffelfinger.  (Click on link to WTIP below to hear the story.)

Here is a synopsis of the story:

Special Cook County Prosecutor Thomas B. Heffelfinger held a news conference in Grand Marais this morning on the steps of the county courthouse. He announced that charges have been brought against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell.
The counts are both criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree.

Fourth degree criminal sexual conduct is typically brought when a young victim was vulnerable, unable to or did not consent to the alleged sexual contact. The charges involve aggravated contact, however generally not physical harm. Minnesota statutes break criminal sexual conduct into five categories, with first degree the most severe and fifth degree the least.

Heffelfinger explained that two counts were brought and that Scannell had already made his first court appearance.
Two counts were charged because of two alleged contacts with the juvenile on separate occasions. Scannell made his first court appearance this morning.

After the morning court appearance, Scannell was released without bail, on his own recognizance with several conditions. His next court appearance is scheduled for the morning of November 12 in Grand Marais, at which time a plea may be entered.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conducted the investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. Appearing with Heffelfinger this morning was Sue Burgraff, special agent in charge of the Bemidji office responsible for supervision of the Duluth agents who conducted the investigation.