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News and other information from Cook County

EDA hears Oddz & Endz proposal

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:29am

Sharon Bloomquist, Arvis Thompson, and Lisa Bloomquist were at the Tuesday, April 8 Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting to explain their new venture, Oddz & Endz. Thompson said they represent a team of people who have formed a nonprofit organization to operate a “repurpose, reuse or recycle retail store.”

Thompson said, “We see ourselves as taking what people don’t need—furniture, lawn mowers, small appliances, etc.—and finding a home for these things.”
“We want to take that coffee table that looks like a rat trap and turn it into something you would like to see in your living room,” she said.

And similar to the 1st & 2nd Thrift Store, volunteers will do the work, earning money for a community nonprofit of their choosing.

Oddz & Endz will be housed in the former Howling Wolf Saloon (which has also been home to a bowling alley, Gunnar’s bar and restaurant, and most recently the temporary home of the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op.)

It is hoped that the building will also rent space for fledgling businesses to offer services and merchandise, as a business incubator of sorts, explained the group. Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux is spearheading that effort.

To open the doors, the group must be granted a conditional use permit. They are on the agenda of the Cook County Planning Commission on Wednesday, May 14 at 5 p.m. at the Cook County courthouse.

County approves information systems requests

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:27am

Rena Rogers, the county’s new information systems/communication director came before the county board on April 22, 2014 with three requests.

Rogers first asked the board to approve spending $899.10 to purchase an eLearning license. The contract will run one year and provide more than 3,000 online classes for IT staff.

Rogers said, “IT departments have an almost continuous need for training to keep pace with technology changes. The cost for a 3-5 day training class including travel expenses, for one individual can easily exceed $5,000,” Rogers said.

In addition to cost savings associated with staying at home, Rogers said she and her staff can learn at their own pace as well as receive training for new projects.

Second on her list was a request for $9,752.24 to purchase 10 workstations and two laptops at a cost of $2,649.58. This is a scheduled expenditure as work stations are replaced on a four-year schedule.

And last but not least, Rogers asked that a new central server room, co-located with the IT staff, be built at a cost of $31,943.42.

Rogers said benefits of this move include significantly enhancing the physical security of IT assets, increasing the operational efficiency by locating the equipment near the IT staff, and significantly improving environmental controls by limiting traffic in the server room which improves system reliability.

The project consists of converting a current supply room into an up-to-date server room. 

Brian Silence, county maintenance director, presented estimates for the project with a total for construction of $11,395.  The cost of replacing switches, panels and cables will cost $20,548.42.

The board approved Rogers’ three requests. Preconstruction on the server room will begin April 30, construction on May 10, and the project is scheduled for completion on June 30.

Public invited to an information and strategy session on affordable housing April 29

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:46pm

At the April 8 meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, former EDA board member, Commissioner Bruce Martinson told the board that he had continued following the affordable housing issue and he had an idea. Martinson said he would like to see another project like the 2002 Fredenberg Creek development in Schroeder.

The Fredenberg Creek development came about through a collaboration of the Schroder township which acted as developer; LTV Mining, which donated the land; and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) which provided money for infrastructure such as roads, septic and power. The township held a lottery for the developed lots and Martinson said seven of the eight lots now have homes for Schroeder residents.

“I’m looking at trying to repeat that,” Martinson told the EDA.

To discuss this, and other housing ideas further, Martinson said an an informational meeting on affordable housing and buildable lots will be held on Tuesday, April 29 at Lutsen Resort at 7 p.m.

Highway 61 through Lutsen to be resurfaced this summer

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:44pm

An 11-mile stretch of Highway 61 located in Lutsen was included in the $1.1 billon 2014 Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) road and bridge construction bill recently passed by the legislature.

All told there will be 308 projects funded under the bill, 74 in the Twin Cities and 194 projects in Greater Minnesota with an additional 40 projects aimed at improving safety at railroad crossings, and making improvements to runways and terminals at regional airports.

Plans are to have the Lutsen section of Highway 61 resurfaced along with replacement and repair of Babineau Creek and Spruce Creek bridges, and culverts replaced where needed. The work is scheduled to last from May to October with lane closures controlled by signals or flaggers.

The cost of the project is $6,142,556.

“I thank the dedicated construction workers and engineers who are doing this important work, and urge Minnesotans to drive safely in construction zones,” said Governor Mark Dayton after signing the bill.

Brown Bag Lunch: Social Media for Nonprofits and Small Businesses, April 29

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 9:00am

The next Brown Bag Lunch presentation will be "Social Media for Nonprofits and Small Businesses."  WTIP North Shore Morning host Joe Detrick spoke with Molly Solberg, director of sales and marketing at Duluth Pack, about how nonprofits and small businesses can optimize their use of social media platforms.

The Social Media Brown Bag Lunch presentation will be on Tuesday, April 29th from 11am to 1pm at Higher Ed, 300 West 3rd Street, Grand Marais.  Please RSVP at 218-387-3411.

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May 3 Ham Run is on, rain or shine--or snow!

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 4:16pm

It's been a winter to remember on the Gunflint Trail this year – we've received record-breaking snowfall and it seems like it will never end. But whether there is snow in the ditches or a patch of ice on the road, the Ham Run will happen on Saturday, May 3.

The first thing you may have noticed about this year's Ham Run half-marathon is it is on a Saturday rather than a Sunday because a majority of past participants preferred a Saturday race over a Sunday race. Organizers listened and made the change.

Not in good enough shape to run the half-marathon this year? Then run, jog or walk the 5k.  The Gunflint Trail is always a great place to visit and combine that with getting some exercise in the great outdoors and you can't go wrong with participating in the Ham Run.

Also this year, the majority of the proceeds will go to the new Cook County YMCA, rather than to various local nonprofits.

To register, visit or call (218) 387-3386.