Around Cook County
The impending retirement of Cook County Personnel Director and County Board Secretary Janet Simonen has propelled the county board into considering the possibility of creating an administrative position that could oversee all departments within the county.
On April 15, 2013, the board and department heads held a special meeting to talk with three county administrators – Timothy Houle of Crow Wing County (pop. 62,500) and Brian Bensen of Sherburne County (pop. 88,499) in person and Trish Klein of Itasca County (pop. 42,763) on speakerphone.
Timothy Houle of Crow Wing County said an administrative position will be successful if the administrator is perceived as taking the staff and board where they want to go, He recommended that the board have an annual retreat where they set goals.
There were questions of whether a board retreat would be open to the public. The administrators said, “You’ve got to get comfortable doing this stuff in a fishbowl. You’ve got to get comfortable living, working, and breathing in this fishbowl.”
Commissioner Jan Hall said theyneed to look at whether they can afford to have an administrator.
To which Trish Klein said, they need to look at whether they can afford not to. She said that in two years, she has probably saved Itasca County 20 years worth of her salary because they started going out for bids on jobs.
Cook County is similar to a corporation with a $17 million-a-year budget, said Timothy Houle of Crow Wing County and there’s no way a business of that size would not have some sort of chief executive officer. He stated that more and more counties are moving toward hiring administrators or coordinators.
The county board approved three requests that had been approved by the Revolving Loan Fund Committee on April 15. The first was a loan of $48,000 to Randy Sjogren for improvements to the mini-golf course in Grand Marais, which he has purchased.
The name of the business will be Putt ‘n Pets, and it will include domestic animals such as goats, chickens, and pheasants for viewing. Improvements include seating areas, more food offerings, improved landscape, and lighted balls, holes, and clubs for evening use.
The second loan was for $16,000 to David Rak and Don Bertolini to supplement a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development grant of $38,500 for the Mangy Moose Motel. The $56,000 project will include new windows, sidewalks, railings, lighting, interior insulation, energy efficient heat pumps and water heater, and handicap accessible bathrooms. The beauty salon building will be upgraded as well.
The third loan was for $17,000 to Bruce Block for a $51,000 addition to Sydney’s Frozen Custard & Pizzeria. The extra space will include an interior seating area and additional deck space. The interior seating will allow the business to sell beer and wine.
After these loans, the Revolving Loan Fund balance will be $99,869.
Winter on the Gunflint Trail has been reminiscent of the Energizer Bunny—it keeps going and going and going. With ice still on the lakes and snow on the ground it's hard to believe the Ham Run half-marathon is right around the corner but it is. Are you ready?
For those who aren't ready for the half-marathon, there is the chance to run or walk the 5k Fun Run. And for the kids, there is the Little Runts Run. One of the Ham Run Half Marathon organizers, Sue Prom invites the community. “We'd love to see you on the ‘Trail Less Traveled’ on May 5th, snow, rain or shine,” she said.
Prom reminds potential runners that supporting the Ham Run supports many of the non-profits in Cook County. “The awesome volunteers at the event earn a little something for their non-profit organization,” she said.
In past years, the Ham Run has donated to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department, Boundary Waters Amateur Radio Club, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and many other organizations.
“It's a great community event and we need your participation to keep it going,” said Prom.
For more information about the route along the beautiful Gunflint Trail and to register, visit the race website at www.hamrunhalfmarathon.com.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received 18 comments on the proposed 16-mile ATV trail in the Grand Portage State Forest during a public comment period from January 21 to February 25, 2013. Fifteen were in support of the trail, two expressed concerns about the trail, and one was simply a question.
A DNR grant of $3,000 to Cook County will help fund the completion of the trail.
While the trail was proposed by the Cook County ATV Club with support from the county, it will be available for many other uses, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.
The trail will use existing DNR forest system roads, minimum maintenance roads, and forest access routes in the Tom Lake Area of Hovland, including the Boyd Road, Irish Creek Road, and Tom Lake Road.
Members of the club will do most of the ongoing maintenance of the trail, with up to 90 percent of the costs eligible for reimbursement through the Minnesota Trail Assistance (grant-in-aid) program. The DNR obtains the funds it uses for ATV trails from ATV users themselves.
According to a summary of public comments, “Increasing participation in outdoor recreation activities is consistent with the DNR’s strategic objective to ‘connect people to the outdoors,’ which includes motorized recreation.”
One comment expressed a concern that if the trail were mapped for ATV use, more users from the Twin Cities would come to the area. The DNR acknowledged that mapping it as an ATV trail may attract more ATVers.
The weather has warmed up and the snow is melting, but rain and cooler weather lies ahead this week. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Gohde about moving into May.
It was a long time coming, but North Shore rivers finally are breaking out of their icy restraints and once again are putting on a show.
The Duluth News Tribune credits the recent stretch of warm weather in an otherwise late-arriving spring.
The ice went out on the Gooseberry River over the weekend. Up the shore at Tettegouche State Park, the Baptism River above and below High Falls still sported significant amounts of ice on Sunday morning, but the river’s swift current was slowly eroding it away.
This year’s ice-out on the North Shore is more than a month later than last spring, when record high temperatures had rivers open and running high in March.
The National Weather Service reported Sunday that a snowpack of 18 to 24 inches remains in place in the higher elevations of the North Shore, which should continue to melt — and keep river levels high — this week.