Around Cook County
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Construction work on Highway 61 will detour traffic for about a week starting today.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the detour between Little Marais and Illgen City will add about 10 minutes to travel time. The highway is scheduled to reopen Friday afternoon, just ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The contractor is flattening hills and widening shoulders on about five miles of Highway 61. MnDOT engineer Dan Erickson says it's a heavily traveled road, so the extra space will benefit motorists who have to pull over in emergencies.
MnDOT has spent more than $115 million in recent years on the scenic highway. Next summer, drivers will face a detour for about three weeks.
At the county board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13, Consultant David Unmacht of Springstead Group told the board that 36 people have applied for Cook County’s new county administrator position.
Unmacht said he knows 11 of the applicants. Another 10 live in Minnesota and the rest are from across the Midwest and beyond. At first glance, Unmacht said, he could see that at least four or five were “solid” applicants.
Unmacht will create a matrix to evaluate and compare applicants and with input from commissioners will sent out a set of screening questions to 7-11 of the highest ranking applicants. From there, he will narrow the list down to 3-5 people to invite to a first interview and will call them before that interview.
Unmacht said they could do first interviews soon after Labor Day and second interviews shortly after that, leading to a decision by the end of September. After the first interviews, finalists will be selected and their references will be checked. If the whole board interviews the final set of candidates, their names would be available to the public.
Unmacht is making the applications available to the board, and the board will decide on August 27 which candidates will be invited to a first interview.
The county board is trying not to let Cook County Community YMCA costs get out of hand. On August 20, 2013, a motion by Commissioner Sue Hakes authorizing Branch Executive Director Emily Marshall to spend up to $300,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E)‑—the amount budgeted—as long as individual purchases were within 10 percent of the amount budgeted failed for lack of a second.
Commissioner Hakes said authorizing the purchases would streamline the project. Marshall had created a list that included everything from a volleyball net for the pool, budgeted at $30, to mats and play structures for young children, budgeted at $6,100. The FF&E budget also included things like fitness equipment, garbage and recycling bins, and computers for the offices.
Items that the school will no longer need, such as some strength training equipment, will not need to be purchased. Some items on the list will be coming out of another part of the project budget. These include three “suit spinners” (for drying swimsuits) estimated at $4,000, exterior signs estimated at $15,000 and lobby furniture quoted at $3,940.
Marshall told the Cook County News-Herald that if people have items in good condition that they would like to donate, such as a pool table, they would be appreciated. They are also hoping to find grant funding. She told the county board she would be talking to Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator Jerry Hiniker about the possibility of finding a grant to fund a bike rack, which is not in the budget.
Commissioner Hakes said Marshall was doing a good job looking for good prices and trying to find things that could be purchased secondhand.
Governor Mark Dayton recently appointed Tofte resident Jim King to the Minnesota Lake Superior Coastal Program (MLSCP).
King, a Tofte Township supervisor, joins Cook County resident Keck Melby on the 15-person council which was set up to make recommendations to the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on grant priorities, projects to receive grant funding, and the program’s annual administrative budget.
Membership is made up of three Governor appointed representatives from Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis County as well three at-large members.
Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program offers annual grants for projects that address coastal issues in five basic interest areas including: coastal habitat protection and restoration; public access, historic preservation, community and natural resource planning and coastal education and training.
Funds for these grants come from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), and Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
Grant applicants include local municipalities, townships, and counties within the coastal boundary, as well as tribal governments, colleges, and coastal community schools, joint powers boards, sanitary sewer boards and nonprofit organizations.
Two films will be presented at WaterLegacy movie night Aug. 24 at Betsy Bowen’s What’s Upstairs Grand Marais studio. The public is invited to come for one or both films. There is no charge, and popcorn and soft drinks will be served.
WaterLegacy is a citizens’ group formed in response to concerns about the first nonferrous (sulfide) mine proposed in Minnesota. They work to protect water quality and stand up for environmental justice.
At 6 p.m., Sled Dogs to St. Paul (43 minutes), a locally-produced film that follows the dogsled run of former State Rep. Frank Moe, as he mushed his team of 10 sled dogs from Grand Marais to the Capitol in St. Paul will be shown. Moe carried nearly 13,000 Internet petition signatures opposing sulfide mining.
As they follow Moe’s journey, the filmmakers take a closer look at nonferrous mining through the lens of many people who have a stake in the proposed expansion of mining in northeastern Minnesota. Those interviewed include business owners, property owners, legislators, wild ricers, tribal officials, community activists and many of the people who helped Moe along the way. It’s a fast-paced, artfully presented examination of local economics, environmental activism, corporate might, Minnesota’s mining legacy and the role that clean water resources play in the future health and wealth of the state.
Remember to watch what kinds of plastics you bring to the Cook County Recycling Center – Cook County has stopped accepting mixed plastics after its plastic recyclables broker stopped accepting mixed plastics about a month ago. Several large bundles of mixed plastics are sitting outside the Recycling Center waiting for a place to go.
Cook County Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson, in charge of waste management and recycling, said that Cook and Lake counties were two of the last counties to accept mixed plastics, which contain plastics numbered all the way from 1 to 7. Cook County is now accepting only Nos. 1 (polyethylene terephthalate or “PET”) and 2 (high-density polyethylene or “HDPE”).
The good news is that Nos. 1 and 2 account for 80 percent of the plastics Cook County citizens have been bringing to the Recycling Center.
Nelson said, “Numbers 1 and 2 plastics are typically all of the beverage and liquid containers, including soda and juice bottles, milk jugs and the heavier-duty laundry and bleach jugs,” Nelson said. “The easiest way to identify what number any particular container may be is to look for the number inside of the ‘chasing arrows’ triangle recycling symbol on the package.” This is usually on the outside bottom of the container.