Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Library Board budget approved by city of Grand Marais

Wed, 07/24/2013 - 6:58pm

Grand Marais Public Library Director Linda Chappell and Audrey Stattelman, president of the library board, presented the library’s 2014 budget proposal at the Wednesday, July 10, Grand Marais City Council meeting. The library budget first comes before council because both the city council and Cook County commissioners must approve it; under the terms of a joint operating agreement, each entity pays half of the library’s operating expenses.
As usual, said Stattelman, there are still a number of unknown factors that may influence the final budget, making projections a bit difficult. For example, the union contract, health insurance, public utilities costs and a propane contract are still awaiting finalization, she said. The 2014 budget also includes the cost of carpet cleaning, which should be done about every 18 months.
Chappell said the library has been seeing “hordes of people” who are enjoying the newly renovated building. There are some new services the library staff will concentrate on next year, said Chappell, such as an online magazine service, portable devices for public use, and an electronic book service offered through the Arrowhead Library System.
“People love the new services,” said Chappell. “But they don’t want to give up the old ones either.”
Despite the new offerings and plans for even more services, there is good news about the budget. Chappell said that, due mainly to a librarian’s retirement earlier this year, she anticipates a less than 1 percent increase in the 2014 budget. By comparison, the 2013 budget was an increase of 4.4 percent over the prior year.

Great Lakes Restoration funds slashed in House bill

Wed, 07/24/2013 - 6:17am

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A subcommittee in the U.S. House is proposing the steepest cut in spending on a far-reaching Great Lakes environmental cleanup program since it was established in 2009. The panel approved a bill yesterday that would spend just $60 million on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, nearly 80 percent less than the $285 million in this year's budget.

The vote came from the interior and environment subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. The panel establishes federal spending limits and it voted on 2014 appropriations for departments including the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reports the current $285 million spending level is already below the amount envisioned by White House and congressional leaders for the multi-year restoration program.

The bill cuts more than 80 percent of a revolving state loan fund used to help communities upgrade old sewer systems, going from $1.03 billion today to $250 million for fiscal year 2014.

Also the bill would give the Environmental Protection Agency a 34 percent cut over the currently enacted level.

The National Endowments for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be cut by nearly 49 percent.

The bill also contains special provisions for certain industries. One provision would alter rules for mining companies that would ensure the availability of clean up funds.

"Print Demo" and more offered at Grand Marais Art Colony through the summer

Tue, 07/23/2013 - 1:11pm

The Art Colony in Grand Marais is offering free weekly activities through Labor Day, such as “Print demo with Jerry Riach,” Thursdays July 25, Aug. 29 and Sept. 26 at 2 p.m.
Ever wonder what's an etching, a drypoint, a wood engraving, a woodcut? Curious how they're made?  What's a limited edition?  Here's your chance to find out in a short, concise presentation by an experienced printmaker.  See the equipment used in a professional, eco-friendly print studio.  Hear descriptions of the printing processes.  Learn what to look for when you look at a fine art print. 
Stop by 120 W. 3rd Ave., just two blocks up from the Java Moose and harbor, for any or all of these events.  Contact the Art Colony at (218) 387-2737 for more information.

Tofte tennis court issues discussed

Tue, 07/23/2013 - 1:09pm

Another issue with tennis courts in Cook County was discussed at the county commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, July 16 as well as the Tofte town meeting on Thursday, July 11.  The Birch Grove Community Center issue, where the new tennis court slopes away from the centerline, could have been avoided if the Cook County Tennis Association had been consulted, association member Rod Wannebo told the county board on July 16. 
Wannebo said he said he had provided Birch Grove tennis court architect Tim Meyer a manual on proper construction of tennis courts, which if followed would have precluded the court from sloping away from the centerline in both directions. 
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said that Meyer was proposing that the cost to fix the court be split among his firm (Meyer Group), Tofte Township, Cook County, ORB Management, and court designer Mateffy Engineering. 
At press time the town of Tofte had not yet made any decision on how to handle the flawed tennis court, but Tofte Supervisor Paul James told the Cook County News-Herald, “it might come down to talking to our attorney and to our constituents and see what they would like to do.  It looks like it might come down to litigation or arbitration, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
The Tofte town board meets again on Thursday, August 8 at 7 p.m. at the Tofte Town Hall.

Conservation groups pose four questions about sulfide mining

Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:47am

In the summer of 2012, a coalition of Minnesota conservation groups calling themselves Mining Truth started a public dialogue surrounding the proposed Polymet and Twin Metals mines near Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 

A year later, the campaign is entering its next phase, and the coalition is initiating a public debate over four questions they feel Governor Dayton and mining companies should be able to answer before allowing the mines to proceed. (Click here to hear an interview with Frank Moe of Conservation Minnesota and Aaron Klemz of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.)  

Those questions are:

1)   Will Minnesota’s water stay safe and clean?

2)   Are there safeguards in place for when things go wrong?

3)   Will the company leave the site clean and maintenance-free?

4)   Will Minnesota’s taxpayers be protected?

Mining Truth coalition members have stated that unless Governor Dayton and the mining companies are each able to demonstrate to the people of Minnesota that the answer to these four questions is an unqualified yes, the mines should not be allowed to move forward.

Mining Truth coalition members are currently meeting with Minnesotans around the state to encourage them to sign an online petition that will urge Governor Dayton to take these questions into account when it comes to deciding on the mining proposals.  

MN bear researcher gets no reprieve from governor

Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:47am

 ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota bear researcher remains under orders to remove radio collars from bears he's studying by the end of the month, but will be allowed to appeal.

Bear researcher Lynn Rogers sounded optimistic after a meeting with Governor Mark Dayton and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr on Monday.

But Landwehr said afterward he does not plan to lift his decision to rescind Rogers' permit to keep tracking collars on bears in the Ely area. He says there's usually no appeal from that kind of decision, but he has decided to let Rogers present his case to an administrative law judge.

The DNR says Rogers' hand-feeding of bears makes them too accustomed to humans. The agency also says Rogers has failed to publish his research.

Rogers denies both claims. He says his research is available to all at