Around Cook County
In Cook County Community YMCA news, seven local YMCA board members have been identified so far: Myron Bursheim, Hillary Freeman, Sue Hakes (representing the county), Jeanne Anderson (school), Beth Schwarz (school), Rusty Day (youth), and Matea Acero (youth). Marshall said they are trying to bring in board members representing diversity in age, sex, location in the county, skills, and organizations. When the board starts to meet, they will select several more members.
The federal government partial shut down shows no signs of easing, leaving much of the federal government closed, with lawmakers from both parties ominously suggesting that the partial shutdown might last for weeks.
The shut down affects the U.S. Forest Service and Tofte and Gunflint stations are closed. This will not affect BWCAW permits, since the self-permitting, no fee season started Oct. 1. Gravel and timber permits for Federal land, however will not be available.
Grand Portage National Monument and the heritage center are closed to visitors.
Only government personnel deemed as "essential" will be on the job for the duration of the shut down.
Airport security and air traffic controllers are working, so are border and customs employees.
The shut down affects only federal workers. State parks and offices remain open as usual.
If all the 2014 budget requests department heads submitted to the county board this summer were granted and the fund balance was not touched, the county tax levy could increase by 11 percent next year. That’s not going to happen, however. The board decided to cap any potential levy increase at 2.9 percent. On September 24, 2013, the board tried to whittle the budget down further to minimize dipping into the fund balance and increasing the levy.
One tool the board used was suggestions made by department heads when they were asked how they would reduce expenses by 5 percent if they were forced to do so. The board spent well over three hours going through specific cuts that could be made department by department, but they didn’t make it all the way through all the departments and decided to pick up the task at another budget work session.
The board discussed—but rejected—eliminating the telephone booth at the end of the Gunflint Trail or postponing equipment purchases for the county highway department,
They accepted a recommendation from Information Technology Director Danna MacKenzie who suggested a couple of different expense-cutting options including delaying equipment purchases. The board went with one of the suggestions, which will save $36,721.
The preliminary budget called for using $513,241 from the fund balance. Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he would like to use half that amount and keep the levy increase to half of 2.9 percent. Commissioner Garry Gamble said he wanted to eliminate any use of the fund balance and have no levy increase.
The Crossing Borders Studio Tour and Sale is going on now through Sunday, October 6. (Click on link to WTIP below to hear a feature story on this year's tour.)
The 2013 Crossing Borders Studio Tour features 23 artists in 8 locations between Duluth and the Canadian border, along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The tour is self-guided and runs from Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 6. Studios are open from 10 a.m .to 6 p.m. each day.
To learn more about the Crossing Borders Studio Tour, visit www.crossingbordersstudiotour.com.
The nice fall weather will continue for a couple more days, then rain and cooler weather will make it seem more like October usually feels. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Stewart.
Mark Quello of Grand Marais is well known to community members as the driver of “the bus.” He was recognized recently for 20 years of dedicated service with Arrowhead Transit. Quello starting driving for Arrowhead Transit on February 8, 1993.
Quello doesn’t normally attend the Cook County Transit Advisory Committee meeting, but comes in if needed. His supervisor Katy Keranen called him at the meeting on Wednesday, September 4 and Quello stopped work on his home improvement project to see what was needed. It turns out that nothing was needed, it was just time to recognize his hard work for Cook County.
Associate Director of Arrowhead Transit Joe Gentile presented Quello with a plaque in recognition of his dedicated service.
An honor well-deserved said Cook County Senior Center Director Bev Green. “Mark is just loved by all his people. He’s such a gentle driver and he is always willing to go the extra mile,” she said.
Arrowhead Transit covers all eight counties within the Arrowhead – the largest rural transportation service in the United States.
Arrowhead Transit serves Grand Marais and Cook County with scheduled bus services with Dial-A-Ride service work routes to Grand Portage and routes to Duluth. To see a ride schedule, visit www.arrowheadtransit.com and click on Grand Marais.
Or call Dial-A-Ride at (218) 370-1515. Dial-A-Ride services are provided Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1 - 4 p.m. Dial-A-Ride is also available on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Riders are asked to please call at least a half hour in advance to schedule a pick up time.