Around Cook County

News and other information from Cook County

County continues discussion on hiring an administrator

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 3:24pm

The county may be looking for an administrator sometime in the months ahead.  On April 30, the county board met to discuss the possibility and agreed to move forward on formulating how that job might look. 
Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Sue Hakes said they have heard positive comments from constituents in regard to hiring an administrator.  Commissioner Hakes said she had heard from people both in support of and against the position in the past, but recently, people have been expressing only support.  “I haven’t heard anybody who says they don’t want one,” she said.  “Not one.”
They need to consider the position in the context of the size of this community, Commissioner Garry Gamble said, but they also need to consider “what’s on our plate” as a county.  He said he thinks the board needs an administrator so they “could focus on the bigger picture.”
The board discussed a desire to gather input from the public on whether an administrator should be hired.  Commissioner Martinson suggested that they create a job description that could be presented to the public and then revised before advertising for the position.  Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk suggested presenting two options for the public to consider.
The question of hiring an administrator came up when Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen announced earlier this year that she would be retiring in August. 
By a vote of 3-0, with Commissioner Hall absent and Commissioner Hakes unable to vote because she was in attendance only by speakerphone, the board passed a motion to pursue the possibility of hiring an administrator by developing a draft job description and seeking input from the public.  They passed another motion to request prices from personnel search firms that could help the county find candidates.

Parents encouraged to enroll their children in ATV safety training

Mon, 05/06/2013 - 3:06pm

The Cook County ATV Club reminds parents that an ATV Safety Training course is available in May for students, ages 12 - 15. Sign up now for a safe summer!
The course is part independent study and part field test. When students sign up, they will receive a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) CD to study for the written test and field test. ATVs and helmets are provided for the field test.
A review and the written test will be conducted on Wednesday, May 16 at 3:15 – 5:15 p.m. in Cook County High School room 110. After successfully passing the test, students participate in a Field Test on Saturday, May 18 at 8 a.m. at the old Grand Marais airport site (by Devil Track Landing).
There is a $10 fee, payable to Community Education for the class. The Cook County ATV Club provides scholarships to any youths who cannot afford the course fee. All of the students who successfully complete the ATV safety training will also be treated to a pizza party with the DNR and volunteer instructors and will receive an ATV club t-shirt.
Safety Instructor Dick Parker, an ATV Club member, encouraged parents to have their kids take this course. “Statistics show that 47% of all persons involved in ATV accidents are in their teens, 10-19 years old. The major cause of accidents is rollovers and hitting fixed objects. Speed is frequently the cause," said Parker. "That's why it is so important to catch kids when they are young to teach them about safe and ethical riding."
“Just because you don’t own an ATV doesn’t mean your kid doesn’t need the training,” said Safety Instructor Chuck Silence. “There are more ATVs in the state than snowmobiles—you want them to be prepared to ride just in case they have the chance at a neighbor or friend’s house.”

DNR advises checking status of campgrounds and boat ramps

Sun, 05/05/2013 - 11:42am

Before venturing out to campgrounds, trails and public water accesses, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) advises people to check online or call ahead to avoid surprises.

“Winter weather is always a challenge to public water access,” said Nancy Stewart, DNR public access program coordinator. “Because of the late ice out this year, DNR crews have been unable to inspect and repair launch ramps or put the docks in at the DNR-operated public water access sites. We will get them ready as soon as possible, but we are at the mercy of Mother Nature right now.”

Meanwhile, at Minnesota state parks the cold weather has kept water shut off and RV dump stations closed at many campgrounds.

“Winter conditions persist at Gooseberry Falls State Park and many other parks around the Northland,” said Park Manager Audrey Butts. “We’ve had some folks arrive with camping reservations without knowing in advance what to expect – which has been unplowed roads and a foot of snow in their site.”

Cook County Senior Center hosts presentation on assisted living

Sat, 05/04/2013 - 10:42am

Spectrum Health, the parent company of the Carefree assisted living facility in Silver Bay, is exploring the possibility of building a new facility here in Grand Marais. Spectrum and Carefree representatives will be holding an informational meeting at the Cook County Senior Center at 12:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 7. This will be an open meeting and everyone interested, is welcomed and encouraged to attend.
The Cook County Senior Center took a tour of the Carefree Living facility in Silver Bay and found that it is very new and comfortable with many different living and level of care options. Some of the options are: single rooms, double rooms for couples, memory care and short-term care. Short-term care is great for people who for some reason may be unable to stay home alone for short periods. They can stay at the Carefree facility for around $100 per day, which includes meals. Other services available for residents include: dressing, bathing, medication, laundry, and transferring assistance.
If you would care to join the Senior Center for lunch at the Senior Center prior to the meeting, please call in your reservation by 9:30 a.m. that day.
Spectrum Health, the parent company of the Carefree assisted living facility in Silver Bay, is exploring the possibility of building a new facility here in Grand Marais. Spectrum and Carefree representatives will be holding an informational meeting at the Cook County Senior Center at 12:45 p.m., Tuesday, May 7. This will be an open meeting and everyone interested, is welcomed and encouraged to attend.

Weekend News Roundup for May 4

Sat, 05/04/2013 - 10:17am

Each weekend WTIP news produces a round up of the news stories they’ve been following this week. The stalemate between Blue Cross and North Shore Hospital is working its way to a resolution. Great Lakes shipping is being affected by lack of dredging. No surprise, fishing is big business and worker minimum wage levels are on track to increase.…all in this week’s news.


Attached file

Hospital-Blue Cross stalemate moves toward resolve

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 6:28am

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota has altered its plans to change its payment methodology.  Lori Nelson, Blue Cross Vice President, contacted Cook County North Shore Hospital administrator Kimber Wraalstad yesterday. Wraalstad told WTIP the adjustments will apply to all rural critical access hospitals.

Blue Cross had originally scheduled major payment changes to smaller hospitals on May 1. Implementation of the new system has now been moved to January 1. Individual hospitals have negotiated contracts with Blue Cross for how they are reimbursed and at what rates. The insurer had proposed major changes to those contracts.

Wraalstad said Blue Cross will assist hospitals in obtaining the 3M Grouper software and pay for ½ of the software costs for one year. The softwear provides a coding mechanism hospitals use to bill Blue Cross for reimbursements. The Minnesota Hospital Association maintained the May 1 change over was too soon to accommodate adopting the complex coding system.

In addition, Wraalstad said “Blue Cross will develop some type of process or ‘safety net’ for critical access hospitals with insufficient operating margins to cover the cost of Blue Cross commercial members.”
She added at this time, neither Blue Cross nor the hospital will be proceeding with termination as an Institutional Service Provider. Wraalstad had received a service termination letter from Blue Cross late last week.

On Monday, the Department of Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger and Attorney General Lori Swanson, met individually with Blue Cross executives to discuss the issue.

Wraalstad said, “We are appreciative that Michael Guyette, Blue Cross CEO, and his Executive Management team are willing to participate in negotiations so that the community members and visitors to Cook County will continue to have access to services at Cook County North Shore Hospital and Care Center.”