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News and other information from Cook County

County adopts energy plan with modifications

Tue, 07/17/2012 - 11:57am

The Cook County Board of Commissioners has joined the City of Grand Marais in adopting an energy plan, but it didn’t come easy for the committee that has been working for months on the project. 
At the July 10, 2012 county board meeting, George Wilkes of the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) reminded the board that the energy committee formed under a grant with the county’s blessing had presented the plan in June, telling the board it had wide acceptance, and then Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. Member Services Director Joe Buttweiler spoke up with objections to the plan.  “It was a bit embarrassing,” he said.
Buttweiler’s name had been on the energy plan committee roster, and he had emailed concerns to CCLEP before they went before the board.  A face-to-face conversation didn’t happen, however.  “It turned out to be mostly a communication failure,” said Wilkes.  The committee met with Buttweiler and AECI Executive Director Jeanne Muntean and came to agreement on some wording changes.
The changes mostly involved acknowledging that an opinion survey of local residents was small and represented only a rough estimation of public opinion and changing some wording to say that local utility companies would be encouraged to “consider” rather than “adopt” policies encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy development.

The Youth Show to host call-in program on selfishness & youth

Tue, 07/17/2012 - 11:17am
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WTIP’s Youth Radio Project is hosting its first-ever call-in program and they need your participation! Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about how today’s young people are different than the generations before them. Some people say young folks today are spoiled, entitled or feel too “special.” Others say it’s not their fault. Tune in for a special call-in edition of The Youth Show this Thursday, July 19th at 5 p.m. In the second half-hour, they’ll be hosting a discussion on the youth of today. Do you think today’s young people are entitled? Spoiled? Something else? WTIP’s Youth Radio Project wants to know what you think! Call 387-1070 or 1-800-473-9847 during the program to
share your perspective. You can learn more about this Youth Radio Project effort by listening to last week's discussion.

You can also share your thoughts by e-mailing kelly@wtip.org, or posting on the Cook County Youth Radio Project Facebook page. Thanks!

Photo courtesy of Pfau via Flickr.

Weed pulling day at Pincushion -- July 18

Mon, 07/16/2012 - 12:44pm

Pincushion Mountain Overlook in Grand Marais is one of the most picturesque locations on the North Shore. Unfortunately, this beautiful place has become infested with an invasive plant called St. John’s Wort.  You can help remove these invasive plants during a public weed pull event on July 18 from 2 to 4 p.m.
St. John’s Wort is a perennial herb with several 1- to 3-foot-tall semi-woody stems containing clusters of yellow star-shaped flowers. This species prefers poor, sandy, dry soils with full sun and has been found on several rocky outcroppings in northeastern Minnesota.
Volunteers are needed to hand pull and bag St. John’s Wort and seed the area with a native wildflower mix, and are asked to bring work gloves (some will be provided).
To get to Pincushion Overlook from Highway 61 in Grand Marais, drive 2.5 miles north on the Gunflint Trail (Cook County 12), then east on the Scenic Overlook Road to parking. The event is sponsored by the Cook County Invasive Team. For more information contact Michael Lynch at (218) 387-3772.

New policy for public comments at county board meetings starts this Tuesday

Mon, 07/16/2012 - 12:42pm

Cook County Commissioner Sue Hakes wants members of the public to feel welcome at county board meetings, and she wants to hear what they have to say.  On Tuesday, July 10 the board adopted guidelines for the public comment period, held near the beginning of the meeting, after some discussion of what those guidelines would be.
At a previous meeting Commissioner Hakes had volunteered to draft wording for the guidelines.  She said she used the word “welcome” intentionally.  Her proposal addressed how long a speaker could speak and how long the comment period would last as well as how the board would respond to issues put before them.
The commissioners discussed the wording of the policy, including how much dialogue they wanted to allow between the public and the board during this portion of the meeting.  County Attorney Tim Scannell said the public comment period had been created to give the public opportunity to bring issues to the board that the board could put on its agenda for later discussion.  Lance Johnson of Lutsen suggested that a policy like this could have a “chilling effect” on people wanting to speak to the board.  “I think it runs counter to open and transparent proceedings,” he said.  “I think this is a bad idea and I think you should throw it out the window.”
“Lance, I think you have some good points there,” said Commissioner Fritz Sobanja.  He pointed out that citizens can contact their commissioners to express concerns as well.  “Give them a call to see how they can help you,” he said.  He stated that sometimes people come to county board meetings to make disparaging remarks about the commissioners during the public comment period, and then the newspaper puts it in the paper so they can “sell more papers.”

Change in election line-up

Mon, 07/16/2012 - 11:14am

The Commissioner District 2 race will not to go primary as candidate Kelly Swearingen has withdrawn from the race. Now running in District 2 are incumbent Fritz Sobanja and challenger Garry Gamble. The candidate forum scheduled for Tuesday, July 24 on WTIP radio has been cancelled until the general election in November.
There are still plans for a live candidate forum on WTIP for Commissioner District 4 on Thursday, July 26. Incumbent Jim Johnson has announced that he will not run for re-
election. Running for his seat are Gail Anderson, Rick Austin and 
Heidi Doo-Kirk.

WTIP’s Jay 
Andersen and Rhonda Silence of the Cook County News-Herald will share 
the questioning, with the public invited to call in or e-mail 
questions before or during the broadcast.
Tune in to WTIP at 90.7 Grand Marais; 90.1 Grand Portage; or 91.7 
Gunflint Trail on the night of the forums to hear from the candidates. 
Questions for candidates may be e-mailed in advance of the broadcast 
to the Cook County News-Herald at starnews@boreal.org.

Primary Election Forums on WTIP

Sun, 07/15/2012 - 11:13am

WTIP Community Radio will broadcast two primary election 
candidate forums live from the Grand Marais studios. WTIP’s Jay 
Andersen and Rhonda Silence of the Cook County News-Herald will share 
the questioning, with the public invited to call in or e-mail 
questions before or during the broadcasts on Tuesday, July 24 and 
Thursday, July 26 from 6 – 7 p.m. each night.
The first forum on July 24 will focus on candidates in Commissioner 
District 2. Incumbent Fritz Sobanja is running for re-election. He is 
being challenged by Garry Gamble and Kelly Swearingen.
The second forum is for candidates in Commissioner District 4. 
Incumbent Jim Johnson has announced that he will not run for re-
election. Running for his seat are Gail Anderson, Rick Austin and 
Heidi Doo-Kirk.
Tune in to WTIP at 90.7 Grand Marais; 90.1 Grand Portage; or 91.7 
Gunflint Trail on the night of the forums to hear from the candidates.
Questions for candidates may be e-mailed in advance of the broadcast 
to the Cook County News-Herald at starnews@boreal.org.