Around Cook County
Cook County property taxpayers can expect some increases in their 2013 property taxes, but they won’t see an increase in the hospital levy. On December 20, 2012, the hospital board voted to keep it at $800,000 for another year.
“My hope had been to decrease it,” said North Shore Hospital & Care Center Administrator Kimber Wraalstad. Given financial projections for next year, she was not comfortable recommending that the levy be decreased but thought they could handle keeping it the same.
Board member Tom Spence pointed out that they expect to go to the taxpayers for a lot of money in facility renovations in the next several years. He said he wanted taxpayers to see that the hospital was trying to do the right thing with their money.
Administrator Wraalstad said she was disappointed to see a projected loss of $200,000 when working on the new year’s budget. The loss could be greater with potential federal funding cuts of over $200,000 and up to $400,000 that could go toward building renovation if the board decides to pursue it.
The hospital ended 2012 in the black for the first time since 2008. Wraalstad told the board it was due to a reduction in care center beds, a change in funding structure called Equitable Cost-Sharing for Publicly Owned Nursing Facilities, an increase in swing bed volume, the ability to do MRIs, and the addition of occupational therapy.
The Grand Marais city council’s last meeting of the year was also the shortest. Councilors met for about 10 minutes on Dec. 26 to put the final stamp of approval on the city’s 2013 budget and levy. As adopted, the levy for next year is $824,152.44, which is a 1.12 percent property tax levy increase.
The action concludes the lengthy budget process, which began in late summer with meetings between council and the city’s department heads. In September, council set a preliminary levy of $866,552.44, which would have represented a 6.3 percent increase over the prior year. City administrators worked since then to reduce that increase.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources is launching a moose research project in northeastern Minnesota to determine why the state's population of the animal is declining.
DNR officials will hold a St. Paul news conference today to unveil what they're calling a first-of-its-kind project. They'll employ GPS and other technology to help track the animals.
As of last March, Minnesota's moose population was estimated at 4,230 — a 14 percent decline from the previous year's estimate, and less than half what it was in 2006. Wildlife managers have said reasons could include parasites, diseases and warmer weather.
They have said hunting is not to blame, and the DNR allowed a short moose hunting season last fall. The agency has not yet revealed if it will allow a moose hunt this year.
Fifteen points by Kaitlynn Lynnell and 14 by Teresa Morrin led the Cook County Viking girls’ basketball team to a 51-47 victory last night at South Ridge.
The 4-6 Vikings host the Cromwell Cardinals at 4:45 PM, Friday (today). The boys’ team will tip off their game with Cromwell at 6:30.
Norman Moe and Dick Dorr will be on hand to bring you the play-by-play on WTIP starting around 4:30 with the pre-game discussion. The games also will be videostreamed on www.wtip.org and www.boreal.org.
Last night at South Ridge’s home court in Culver, the Vikings held a 26-25 halftime lead before being outscored by the Panthers 27-25 in the second. The first half margin gave Cook County what the Vikes needed to take the win.
Other scorers for Cook County were Breana Peterson with eight points while Lily Gruber Schulz and Essence Haines hit six each. Leah Utities rounded out the Viking scoring with two.
Leading the Panthers in double figures were Mikayla Olesiak with 18 and Krystal Karppinen with 10. Olesiak nailed three three-point baskets and Karppinen had two.
The School District 166 school board deliberated at length before deciding where to set the levy at its last meeting of the year on December 20. Any tax increases would be hard for residents, Deb White said to her colleagues on the school board.
As enrollment continues to decline over the next couple of years, Superintendent Beth Schwarz said, the district will need to continue reducing expenditures.
One bright note, according to outgoing school board member Terry Collins, is that the construction of a new community center on the west wing of the complex will save the school the cost of dealing with issues related to the age of that end of the building, and the wood chip silo was taken down at no cost to the school as part of the project.
Collins, who did not run for re-election and will be off the school board in January, recommended that in reducing spending, they avoid “veering wildly” from new initiatives –such as early childhood programming—before they’ve had a chance to mature.
The board had the option of adding $91 per student to the levy to help continue Q-comp projects. This amount, about $42,000, was included in the preliminary budget. Q-comp is a state-initiated program that brings money into the district for quality improvement measures such as bringing math activities into all areas of the curriculum to improve standardized test scores, which is the district’s focus this year.
The board voted unanimously to set the 2013 levy at $1,335,286, which includes the Q-comp allowance. The 2013 levy will be 7 percent more than school taxes payable in 2012.
Put your sneakers on and get ready to dance away your winter blues with a Zumba event that will raise money for two good causes. Local residents Kathy Bernier and Chris Angelo, a licensed Zumba instructor, have teamed up to host a Zumbathon the afternoon of January 5 in the Sawtooth Elementary School gym.
For a suggested donation of $10 per person, participants of all ages and experience levels will exercise to the grooves of Latin music as they follow the moves of Instructor Angelo as well as volunteer instructors Cassie Fortier of Thunder Bay, Rosemary Kosevich of Silver Bay, and Annie Otterblad of Two Harbors. The money raised will be given to support the Cook County Kids Plus program and the ALS Association (fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
The Zumba.com website calls Zumba an addictive, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Alberto “Beto” Perez invented Zumba accidentally.
The story is on the Zumba website: “As a fitness instructor in his native Cali, Colombia, Beto's life took an unexpected turn one fateful day in the mid-'90s when he darted off to teach an aerobics class and forgot his traditional aerobics music. He improvised using his own mix of music from tapes he had in his backpack (salsa and merengue music he grew up with). Spontaneously he created a new kind of dance-fitness, one that focused on letting the music move you (instead of counting reps over the music). Energy electrified the room; people couldn't stop smiling. His class loved it!”
Zumba is now taught in over 150 countries around the world, with variations including classes for kids, new and older exercisers, and those wanting to work on toning, do circuit training, or exercise in the water. Zumbathons are becoming a popular way to raise money for worthy causes.