Around Cook County
Local firefighters are on the scene in Hovland at a fire that was reported early this afternoon.
The fire scene is south of the intersection of Otter Lake Road, 9.5 miles up the Arrowhead Trail. Reports indicate the fire is in a pine plantation that was planted in 1936. The first report came from a passerby who stopped and called the fire in from the Hovland Post Office around 1pm.
The Cook Count Sheriff’s Dispatcher confirmed that Hovland and Colvill firefighters have been on the scene of the fire. State Department of Natural Resources firefighters are also there and the state incident command is in place.
The legislative session is over and District 6A Rep, David Dill has some reflections on what worked and didn’t. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Dill about the Vikings stadium, the Taconite Harbor power plant, voter ID and more.
At the end of the county board meeting on Tuesday, May 8, the county board met in closed session to discuss potential litigation between the City of Grand Marais and Burbach Aquatics regarding a contract the city signed with Burbach years ago for Burbach’s services should the city pursue rehabbing its municipal pool or building a new one. Upon the advice of its attorney, the city has refrained from any involvement with the county’s community center project because Burbach contends that the city is still bound to its contract with this project.
After that closed session, County Attorney Tim Scannell wrote in a letter to City Administrator Mike Roth:
On Tuesday, May 8, 2012, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed the following motions:
1. That Cook County needs the City of Grand Marais to participate in payment for costs of operation and maintenance of the planned new community center when the project goes forward.
2. That Cook County supports the City of Grand Marais’ Declaratory Judgment action against Burbach Aquatics and is willing to negotiate an offset of payments for costs of operation and maintenance of the community center to support the city’s lawsuit.”
This spring, the city council authorized City Attorney Chris Hood to seek a declaratory judgment from the court regarding the city’s contractual obligation to Burbach Aquatics.
One of the first orders of business at the Tuesday, May 8 meeting of the Cook County – Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) was action to end the employment of EDA Director Matt Geretschlaeger. The action was no surprise—at previous EDA meetings, the director alluded to the fact that he may be stepping down if his new enterprise—a zip line attraction adjacent to the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marais—became a reality.
EDA Board Member Mike Littfin brought up the topic, saying, “We have all had an inkling this was coming,” he said. “We all know Matt has been involved in a private business enterprise. To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest for our director, I recommend that we lay him off, effective 30 days from today.”
EDA Board Member Bruce Martinson asked if Geretschlaeger could remain on staff until after the next EDA meeting, June 12. His colleagues—Littfin, Mark Sandbo and Bob Spry agreed and a motion to that effect passed. EDA Board Members Hal Greenwood, Don Davison and Scott Harrison were absent.
Geretschlaeger was agreeable to that. He said, “I’ve appreciated the time I’ve worked with you over the years and I agree the board is taking appropriate action.”
A meeting of the EDA Personnel Committee was held Friday, May 11 to put together an advertisement for the EDA director position.
Burning restrictions will soon be lifted in several counties in northern Minnesota due to the green-up of fire fuels, which eases wildfire conditions, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
On May 16, burning restrictions will be lifted in Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Pennington, Polk, Roseau and St. Louis counties.
On May 21, burning restrictions will be lifted in Lake and Cook counties.
This will remove the spring seasonal open burning restrictions throughout the state.
At the Tuesday, May 8 county board meeting, Lutsen Fire Chief Paul Goettl requested a loan from the county to help the county complete expansion and renovation of its fire hall. “Lutsen has basically outgrown its fire hall,” he said. More people are attending meetings than in the past, and larger fire hall and town hall meeting space is needed.
The township plans to remove an old garage (which will be given to the Lutsen Trailblazers Snowmobile Club) and put up a new one in its place, attached to the current building. A new meeting room will allow about 180 people to be seated at tables. A larger clerk’s office and an emergency services office space will provide more secure storage space as well. The new garage will have six stalls instead of four, allowing all of the fire vehicles to be inside at once.
The estimated cost of the project is $577,000, and the township already has $227,000 in hand. Goettl asked commissioners for a 20-year loan of $350,000 at 1 percent interest per county policy.
Lutsen will soon be done paying off a previous county loan used to buy a fire vehicle; this has required payments of about $8,500 a year. The township has been setting aside $10,000 a year for a new building for about the last 10 years, Goettl said. These two amounts combined come close to the $19,395 a year that will be needed to pay the new loan to the county.
The board approved this loan unanimously as well.
The next Lutsen Town Meeting will be held at the town hall on Tuesday, May 15 at 7 p.m.