Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

Grand Marais Playhouse seeking "Church Basement Ladies"

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 10:11am

The Grand Marais Playhouse will be holding auditions for the musical Church Basement Ladies on Monday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.  The cast includes five women and one man and an organist. Rehearsals will be Sunday evenings through April then alternately Monday - Thursday with Moon Over Buffalo through May and June. This year the Playhouse will rotate the musical with the comedy from July 18 - August 11.
Scripts for upcoming plays are available at the Grand Marais Public Library for short term check-out. A CD of the musical is also available.

County okays partnership to purchase Bill Bally Blacksmith Shop building

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 10:10am

After a great deal of discussion over the past two weeks regarding potential liability issues, the county board agreed on March 12, 2013 to enter into a partnership with the Cook County Historical Society for the purchase of the Bill Bally Blacksmith Shop.  The historical society needed a fiscal partner in order to apply for a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society that would fund the purchase. 
A review of the property was conducted by an environmental consulting firm after the board expressed concerns about potential liability for any environmental contaminants that might be found on the property.  Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson said that as long as the property is not altered, nothing would trigger further investigation.
The board passed two motions:  one to enter into a purchase agreement with the historical society and the seller, the estate of Karen Holte, and the other to enter into a management agreement with the Cook County Historical Society, with the understanding that the county will transfer ownership of the property to the historical society after five years when the partnership requirements of the grant have been fulfilled.
The sellers will be removing the waste oil containers currently on the property and will have the well inside the blacksmith shop capped.
The closing date will be August 1, 2014 or before, which gives the historical society time to procure the hoped-for grant.

4th Annual Easter Egg Fundraiser for Cook County KIDS March 30

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 8:47am
The 4th Annual Easter Egg Fundraiser for Cook County KIDS is happening this Saturday, March 30 at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais from 9:00 a.m. to noon.  There will be indoor ice skating, an outdoor Easter Egg Hunt, visits & photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny, brunch, cake decorating contest and silent auction, raffle with prizes over $600, a PEEP eating contest, kids activities and much more! Cost is $5 for a child or $10 per family.
This is an annual fundraiser held by Cook County KIDS PLUS to support youth activities in Cook County. Together with Cook County Community Education and Extension, KIDS PLUS supports After School Adventures for youth, leadership training for middle school youth, opportunities for youth to learn beginning job skills through the Incredible Exchange and Incredible Internship programs, and underwrites a Summer KIDS Camp and other enrichment programs. All funds raised will stay in the community to support local youth activities in Cook County.
Interested in entering the cake decorating contest? Drop off decorated cakes at the Cook County Community Center on Friday, March 29 or early Saturday morning before 9:00 a.m. for judging.  All cakes donated are entered into a silent auction. The cake receiving the highest bid will win first place with second and third place awarded according to the funds raised. Winners will receive a free 2013 Cook County KIDS Plus coupon book that is good for discounts at participating businesses.
Cakes or other goodies are also needed for the cake walk. Folks are encouraged to drop their donations off any time before 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 30.

Thunder Bay shipping season starts

Wed, 03/27/2013 - 7:22am

The 2013 Port of Thunder Bay shipping season is officially underway.

The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal reports the occasion was marked yesterday with a traditional top hat ceremony at the port authority’s headquarters.

Capt. Douglas Parsons of the John B. Aird, the first ship to arrive in Thunder Bay’s port this season, was presented with the top hat.

The top hat ceremony dates back to the creation of the city’s harbour commission in 1953.  It’s a beaver hat, a symbol of the fur trade.

Diabetes Alert Day: March 26

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 1:32pm
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The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) estimates that about 80,000 adults in Minnesota may have diabetes without knowing it. 
Given the seriousness of the disease, MDH is encouraging Minnesotans this Diabetes Alert Day, Tuesday, March 26, to ask themselves whether they are at risk for diabetes and to take steps to improve their health.
The percentage of adults in Minnesota who are living with diabetes nearly doubled between 1994 and 2010 and these numbers under-represent the true number of people living with the condition. About 290,000 adults in Minnesota, or 7.3 percent, say they have been told by their health care team they have diabetes.
National data show that only 75 percent of adults with diabetes know that they have the disease. Given Minnesota’s population, about 80,000 Minnesotans might have the disease without being aware of it.  
“Given the alarming increase of diabetes, we are encouraging Minnesotans to use this day to think about whether they or someone they love might have diabetes or prediabetes and not even know about it,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Diabetes is a very treatable disease and it is important that everyone with diabetes takes steps to get their blood sugar under control and lead a healthier life.”
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and often does not have symptoms. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being older, and for women, having had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy, and having prediabetes. People of color and American Indians also have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

County considers restructuring personnel director/board secretary postition

Tue, 03/26/2013 - 9:13am

On March 18, the board had a work session to discuss the possibility of restructuring the personnel director/board secretary position when Janet Simonen retires in August.  They considered putting some of her duties into someone else’s job description and hiring a county coordinator or a county administrator in her place. 
A county coordinator or administrator could be a point person for information, oversee the county budget, implement board actions, and provide expertise to the board.  A county administrator would have authority over the other department heads, whereas a county coordinator would not.
The board will be inviting a representative of the Association of Minnesota Counties and a couple of county administrators to talk to them about how a county administrator could be useful.   They asked several department heads what they knew about these positions in other counties.
“I’ve heard some very positive things, and I’ve heard some not so positive things,” said Public Health & Human Services Director Sue Futterer.   “The right person can certainly make a difference.”
“The right person is the bottom line,” said Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson.
Information Systems Director Danna MacKenzie said having a decision-maker and point person could help the county get things done more efficiently and cost-effectively.  “We have an opportunity to change the way we do business to make it work better,” she said.