Around Cook County
It's beginning to look like Christmas as businesses in downtown Grand Marais start decking the halls for the Grand Marais Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade. The parade to be held on Friday, November 23 will have the theme "Oh Ole Night," a celebration of Grand Marais' Scandinavian heritage.
The event kicks off with the parade at 5 p.m. There will also be an UFF DA! Christmas Sweater Contest--bring out that old favorite and show it off! After the parade there will be visits with Santa, and cookies and apple cider at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply.
Cash prizes will be given for Best Scandinavian Theme, Cutest Kids or Animals, and Best Holiday Spirit. And of course, the most UFF Da sweater also takes honors.
Will it be fun? You bet! And it's a great way to start your holiday season.
Commissioner Martinson reported that the new asphalt tennis court at the Birch Grove Community Center was designed improperly.
Cook County Tennis Association board member Rod Wannebo explained that U.S. Tennis Association standards allow tennis courts to be sloped on a plane but do not allow slopes between the net and the baseline. The court at Birch Grove slopes down from the net to both baselines.
The previous Birch Grove court, built many years ago, “was built completely wrong because nobody would listen to our advice,” Wannebo said. This time, he provided the architectural firm, The Meyers Group, with a book on proper tennis court design. At the event celebrating the completion of the outdoor improvements at Birch Grove, Wannebo noticed something was wrong with the court.
According to Wannebo, Tim Meyers of The Meyers Group argued that they were “just building a recreational court.” Wannebo said, “There is no such terminology in the tennis world.
“…We think this is a ridiculous expenditure of county money to build such a court,” Wannebo said. “I just don’t understand how an architectural firm could design such a court. …When you hire a designer to design something, he ought to follow the specifications.”
Both Commissioner Martinson and Tofte Township Supervisor Alan “D.C.” Olsen have talked to ORB, hired to oversee the project, and ORB has talked to The Myers Group. Martinson said ORB would be coming up with a plan of action.
“That’s why architects have E&O [error and omission] insurance,” said Commissioner Jim Johnson.
Most of the funding for the new outdoor amenities at Birch Grove came from the county’s 1 percent recreation and infrastructure sales tax.
The Superior National Forest announced that Nancy S. Larson will be the new district ranger for the Gunflint Ranger District in Grand Marais.
Larson – who starts her new job Dec. 3 -- will oversee management of the 173,000 acres of the Forest in Cook County. She served most recently the Chippewa National Forest, Cass Lake area.
Prior to that, she served for nearly five years in the Cook area as LaCroix District Ranger also in the Superior National Forest.
Larson’s career in public service spans 26 years with nearly 23 of them working for the U.S. Forest Service on forests from West Virginia to California.
Larson earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich.
She has worked in a variety of resource positions with the Forest Service including soil scientist, recreation and wilderness program manager, forest partnership coordinator, planner, deputy district ranger and district ranger.
Cliffs Natural Resources temporarily will idle two of its four Northshore Mining production lines, meaning 125 workers temporarily will lose their jobs. According to the Duluth News-Tribune, the company made the announcement Monday morning.
According to Cliffs’ spokeswoman Sandy Karnowski, the lines affect Northshore’s mine in Babbitt and plant in Silver Bay and are being idled due to poor market conditions. Karnowski said both sites may reopen if market conditions improve,
Cliffs will also temporarily shut down its Empire Mine in Michigan sometime during April or May, which will see 500 employees lose their jobs. The shutdown will last through the summer.
The affected employees will receive supplemental unemployment pay and benefits based on the length of time they’ve worked for Cliffs.
On November 13, the county board committed $3.1 million of the county’s 1 percent recreation and infrastructure sales tax revenue that it had previously agreed to reserve for the golf course.
The project had been downsized from over $6 million to $4.5 million. The difference between the county’s funding and the rest of the cost is expected to be made up with revenue bonds and up to $600,000 from the Iron Range Resource and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB).
Consultant John Wait of Sirius Golf Advisors reminded commissioners that the purpose of building Superior National was to draw tourists to Cook County. “Golfers come for the golf but stay because of the beauty,” he said. Superior National benefits the county in the form of sales tax, property tax, and lodging tax, he said.
Superior National is one of the most spectacular locations of any golf course in the country, Wait said. If you took away the scenery, however, you would have a “very, very average golf course” that is substandard in some ways, he said.
Not enough money has been invested in either marketing or maintenance in recent years, Wait said, and the cart paths, tees, irrigation system, greens, and sand traps are all in serious need of repair. The course is nearing a “death spiral,” he said, and unless they upgrade it in addition to repairing it, he expects it to start running at deficits of $150,000 a year.
The overhaul of the golf course will take three years and will include the addition of four acres of land that will be acquired from Lutsen Mountains. During that time, the most popular holes will remain open while new ones, just as exciting, according to Wait, will be built.
Commissioner Sue Hakes said they had been told that the course should be either 18 or 36 holes but not 27 holes as is being planned now and that it should be managed by an outside firm.
At the November 13 meeting of the Cook County – Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting, EDA Housing Coordinator Nancy Grabko gave the board an update, announcing two of the businesses who would be receiving commercial rehab assistance.
Receiving commercial rehab assistance will be Mangy Moose Motel, which will use the money for energy efficiency upgrades and handicap accessibility for the motel and the beauty salon housed on its grounds. The second business to receive assistance will be the Gunflint Tavern - Fireweed Brewery which applied for assistance to become more energy efficient and for help with signage.
Grabko told the EDA board that two more businesses would be receiving commercial rehab assistance, but she could not make that announcement yet, as those business owners had not been contacted.