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News and other information from Cook County

Moratorium on LED illuminated signs nixed by county board

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 3:33pm

When Paul Goettl, owner of Clearview General Store in Lutsen approached the Cook County Planning Commission at its January 2014 meeting with a request to amend his business’s 2007 conditional use permit (CUP) to modify his internally illuminated sign—with LED bulbs—Cook County Planning & Zoning Administrator Bill Lane raised the question of whether or not LED technology is addressed in the current county sign ordinance. That led to a planning commission decision that it should seek a moratorium on all LED illuminated signs for six months, to allow time to consider the question. However, the Planning Commission request met with denial at the county board meeting on Tuesday, February 25.

Goettl’s request was to make a change to the gas station sign on the east edge of the Clearview property, replacing the gas prices displayed below the large white Mobil sign. Goettl explained that the pricing section of the sign was damaged and not repairable. He said the existing base and poles and the upper Mobil sign would stay in place. The only thing to be changed is the lower section, which Goettl explained meant installing a new, more efficient, LED sign.

Goettl’s neighbors were contacted and there was no opposition.

After discussion of whether or not it could make a decision based on the existing sign ordinance and stressing that Goettl’s request was not denied, merely suspended, the Planning Commission passed a motion to impose a six-month moratorium temporarily prohibiting the issuance of conditional use permits for internally lit LED signs in Cook County. The purpose, the Planning Commission said, was to allow the sign ordinance committee to develop ordinance standards and language addressing the introduction of new technology into advertisement displays in Cook County.

UMD to offer "Adult Mental Health First Aid" at Cook County Higher Ed

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 3:32pm

The UMD Continuing Education Department is offering Adult Mental Health First Aid – a ground-breaking public education program that helps people understand and respond to signs of mental illness.  The training introduces participants to the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds an understanding of their impact, and gives an overview of the common treatments.

 This training is for any person who works with the public including. 

Adult Mental Health First Aid is an interactive eight-hour training program that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders. This training prepares members of the community to provide Mental Health First Aid to individuals experiencing a mental health problem. It is designed to help community members identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness. What you say, how you say it, and how well you listen can have a profound impact on those in need. 

The training will be offered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 20 at Higher Ed’s Grand Marais campus on West Third Street. There is a $115 fee. To register or for more information call (218) 726-8113.

MPCA postpones releasing wild rice recommendation

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:52pm

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has postponed its recommendation on whether changes are needed to the state's water quality standards for protecting wild rice from sulfates.

The agency gave no explanation for canceling last Thursday's scheduled release except to say it wasn't ready. MPCA spokesman Dave Verhasselt said the agency will provide an update when it can in the coming weeks.

The Chamber of Commerce has criticized the study on which the MPCA is basing its recommendations. The Chamber's analysis concludes that based on the MPCA's study, a sulfate standard is unnecessary.

But John Pastor, a University of Minnesota Duluth researcher who's one of the lead researchers, says the current 10 milligrams-per-liter standard or something close is about right. Pastor has been growing wild rice in stock tanks for several years. He says it’s not the sulfate itself that harms the plants. Rather, bacteria living in the oxygen-poor muck convert sulfate into sulfide, which scientists have long known interferes with plants’ respiration and nutrient uptake.

“We found there really is no threshold at which sulfide becomes toxic,” Pastor said.  “As soon as you add any, you get a decline in growth rate.”


Weekend News Roundup for February 28

Sat, 03/01/2014 - 11:09am

Each week the WTIP news team puts together a roundup of the week's news. Taconite pellets spill near Two Harbors, the EPA has invasive species money and the gypsy moth quarantine gets bad reviews from the county board. His and much more…all in this week’s news.


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Care Partners offers volunteer training in March

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 12:42pm

The gift of friendship can mean a lot for those on the journey of aging or serious illness—just someone to hear their stories, be with them or remind them of their significance.

Care Partners volunteers provide companionship in the client’s home, at the Care Center, or the hospital. Volunteers provide ongoing friendly visits, a compassionate presence at end-of-life, phone check-ins, or caregiver respite—each volunteer finds his own niche.

 Care Partners Companion Volunteer Training will be held March 3, 4 and 11 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. for those who want to provide friendly visits, respite care, or presence at end of life. Contact Care Partners at 387-3788,

Nominees sought for 11th Annual Environmental Stewardship Award

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 12:41pm

The Lake Superior Binational Forum is seeking nominations for its 11th Annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Program. This award honors extraordinary achievements in six categories in the U.S. and Canada.

Nominations can be made on behalf of a person, group, governmental agency or tribe. The deadline for all nominations is April 11, 2014.

The six categories for nominations include Youth, Adult Individual, Business, Industry, Municipality/Governmental Agency or Tribe/First Nations, and Organization. Members of the Lake Superior Binational Program review each nomination and select a winner in each of the six categories. Judges may also make Honorable Mention awards to suitable nominees.

A nomination form, awards guidelines, and past recipients can be found on the Binational Forum's web site at Awards will be presented to winners at a ceremony on Lake Superior Day on July 20.

The Lake Superior Binational Program represents a partnership of federal, state, provincial, and First Nations/tribal governments working together with citizens to ensure the protection of the Lake Superior basin ecosystem.

The Forum is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The U.S. Forum office is located at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland, Wis.

For more information call (715) 682-1489.