Around Cook County
Lodging tax revenues for the fifth month of 2012 were down for the most part compared to May of last year county-wide. According to the latest report from the Cook County Auditor-Treasurer’s office, the year-to-date totals were down 3/10ths percent across the board for reporting tourism organizations.
Lutsen-Tofte revenues were down 2.7 percent from last May. Grand Marais revenues however were up 9.5 percent from this time last year. The Gunflint Trail revenues for May were up 4.2 percent.
The Auditor’s office emphasizes that not all businesses report taxes at the same time each year and revenues are an “apples-to-apples comparison.” That means only businesses which reported lodging tax revenues both in May of this year and last year are included in the monthly accounting.
The county board has received suggestions for use of its building fund that far outweigh the money actually sitting in that fund. Commissioners spent part of the afternoon of June 19 discussing capital requests and future capital needs.
Maintenance Director Brian Silence described 16 projects that have been identified:
1. Radio tech office space.
2. Cooling system for Law Enforcement Center computer server room.
3. Bigger computer server room at the Law Enforcement Center.
4. Larger emergency operation center at the Law Enforcement Center.
5. Commissioners’ room audio system.
6. Information technology director’s office chair.
7. Consolidating information technology (IT) staff into one space.
8. Highway Department maintenance shops in Hovland and Tofte.
9. Highway Department main campus on County Road 7.
10. Public Health & Human Services “card swipes” for entry into the department.
11. Remodeling of the former law library space.
12. Lawn and grounds maintenance equipment storage.
13. Security improvements.
14. ARMER program.
15. Replacement of furnaces in current Community Center building.
16. Normal building maintenance in upcoming years, such as roof replacements.
“We’re going to run out of money in the building fund,” said Silence. He wanted to know how the county board was going to set priorities and how the building fund was going to be replenished. “We’re eating it up faster than we’re putting into it,” he said.
Sheriff Mark Falk said he doesn’t want to overspend, either. “I’m a taxpayer, too, just like everybody else,” he said.
“This is a lot to think about,” said Commissioner Jan Hall.
The Grand Marais Playhouse opens "Lethal Lecture," by Craig Sodaro, a Murder Mystery Dinner theater Thursday, June 28 at the Harbor Light Supper Club.
The cast includes Kevin Kager as Professor Hazelton Crandall; Gerry Grant as Mrs. Crandall; Sarah Stover as the professor’s assistant, Dr. Hillary Scheckle; Stefanie Mitchell as Diana Darling and Jackson Nickolay as Jackson Philips, a reporter. Tina Krauz plays Miss Peabody, who leads the lecture and then the investigation while waiting for the police to show up.
The show runs June 28 - July1 and July 5 - 8. Tickets, seat selection and dinner choices are available by calling the Harbor Light at (218) 387-1142. Reservations are required. The evening (or matinee on Sundays) includes a 3-course dinner of your choice of beef tenderloin, chicken breast w/champagne sauce or breaded walleye and desert during intermission of chocolate decadence cake or lemon-berry torte.
The show itself runs about an hour and enthusiastic audience members are needed to help figure out who-done-it! This comedy mystery will make for a delightful evening out.
Lake Superior: Fresh. Beautiful. Inspiring.
The world’s largest and cleanest freshwater lake has been described in many ways.
WTIP wants to know: What does Lake Superior mean to you?
We’re inviting the public to submit creative pieces that answer this question. It can be artwork, poetry, video, or anything that captures your perspective. We’ll display your work during our Lake Superior Film Festival on Lake Superior Day, July 15th. The film festival will be held at the Cook County Historical Society, 8 South Broadway Street in Grand Marais.
Please submit your creative piece(s) in person at WTIP, 1712 West Highway 61 in Grand Marais, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 9th. Please include your name, address, and return instructions.
Please call Deb at WTIP with any questions: 218-387-1070.
Grand Marais’ Fourth of July parade topped the city council’s June 13 agenda as Chamber of Commerce Director Bev Wolke appeared with the street and sidewalk permit application for the annual event.
However, unlike other years when the permit was approved with little fanfare and as a matter of routine, there was some discussion regarding a new policy instituted by the county that requires an additional application and payment of $100. City Administrator Mike Roth said the county could assess the fee because the downtown streets on which the parade travels are classified as County State Aid roads. However, it wasn’t clear why the county has only recently begun requiring a separate permit and fee for city- or privately-sponsored events.
“This is not reasonable, especially for nonprofits,” said Councilor Tim Kennedy.
Councilor Bill Lenz agreed, observing that it is the city that organizes the special events and sets up barricades to control traffic. When it was suggested that the fee is perhaps needed to offset the cost of assistance from sheriff’s deputies, Lenz pointed out that the city pays a yearly fee to the county for such services. “We should expect something for what we pay,” he said.
Wolke said the new process is “slightly more complicated and expensive,” and requires her to get three permits (rather than one from the city, for which there is no charge) for each event in the city such as parades and the car show. Furthermore, she said, the Chamber is not making any money on the special events.
The North Shore Dragon Boat Festival is “building boats” this year—not the wooden kind, but teams. The festival will be held July 27 – 29, 2012.
If you’ve never powered a dragon boat before and want to know what the excitement is all about, here’s your opportunity! Register as an individual paddler and we’ll put you together with like-minded folks to create a team. Plan on a Friday afternoon practice and at least two races on Saturday, with the possibility of being in the final heat to determine the division champions.
“Paddling for Community” has been our mission since 2004. This year each of our three founding nonprofits is focusing on programs that benefit the area’s young people:
• WTIP’s "Engaging Youth through Radio" project provides local youth with enhanced opportunities for self-exploration, self-expression, and community involvement by providing broadcast training to interested young people. This year’s festival will help fund our summer student intern and youth program producer.
• North Shore Health Care Foundation’s Oral Health Project aims to get Cook County’s children the dental care they need by providing free and financially assisted oral health care through a unique new local partnership among foundations, clinic, schools and dentist.
• North House Folk School serves local youth through school outreach programs that provide hands-on learning opportunities. Funds raised during the festival will be used to improve the classroom resources available for our elementary school outreach programs and our high school timber frame trade tech initiative.
Contact any of the organizations for more information on how to support this great cause.