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News and other information from Cook County

Cook County Environmental Health offers free radon testing kits

Sun, 01/19/2014 - 10:54am

The Cook County Environmental Health Department is offering free radon testing kits.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that all homes be tested for radon. It’s the only way to know if your home has an elevated level of radon, which can cause lung cancer. Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils and can enter homes through cracks and openings in basement or foundation floors and walls.

To obtain a free test kit, visit the Cook County Planning and Zoning Department located on the main floor of the courthouse.

It is believed that every 25 minutes, one person in the U.S. dies from radon-related lung cancer. It is the largest environmental cancer risk and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable.

MDH estimates that one in three existing Minnesota homes have radon levels that pose a large health risk over many years of exposure. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and more than 21,000 deaths are attributed to radon each year.

Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes three to five days.

Grand Marais to reduce number of members serving on park board

Sat, 01/18/2014 - 12:03pm

At the Wednesday, January 8 meeting of the Grand Marais City Council, City Administrator Mike Roth recommended reducing the number of Grand Marais Park Board members from seven to five. Roth said the board hasn’t had seven members in a long time.

The city council agreed and voted to reduce membership from seven to five. An ordinance to make the change will be drawn up, with the first reading at council’s next meeting.

The park board is now comprised of new appointee James Dusheck, Walt Mianowski, Bill Lenz, Robin DuChien and Sally Berg. The terms of Tracy Benson and Paul Anderson expired at the end of 2013, and neither sought re-appointment.

Nominate an area business for Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Award

Sat, 01/18/2014 - 12:01pm

Celebrate entrepreneurial leadership and successes in the Twin Ports and Minnesota’s Northeast Region by recognizing entrepreneurs who have followed their dreams and taken on inordinate risks to forge ahead, meeting the challenges of today’s economic reality.

In its 22nd year of celebrating entrepreneurial excellence, the UMD Center for Economic Development has issued the call for nominations. A business may be nominated for an award by a customer, client, employee, vendor or a private citizen who wants to recognize a business owner. Business people and organizations from throughout the region are encouraged to participate in the nomination process by completing the online nomination form.

Award recipients will be announced at the 22nd Annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards Luncheon during the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Week on April 23 at the DECC.

To nominate a business visit Nominations deadline is Feb. 28.

Weekend News Roundup for January 18

Sat, 01/18/2014 - 11:02am

Each week the WTIP news staff puts together a roundup of the news over the past five days. A big turn out for a PolyMet informational meeting and a setback for shipping tar sands crude on Lake Superior…all in this week’s news.


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Hundreds pack PolyMet meeting at DECC

Fri, 01/17/2014 - 11:34am

Thursday night over 1500 people crowded into the DECC ballroom to hear presentations, and give input and ask questions about the proposed PolyMet copper mining operation at Hoyt Lakes.  WTIPs Jay Andersen spoke with Duluth News Tribune reporter John Myers who attended the meeting.

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Grand Marais considers changes to zoning ordinance to allow "light manufacturing and processing"

Fri, 01/17/2014 - 8:23am

In response to requests that the city of Grand Marais has received in recent months, both the planning commission and city council recommended last week that the Grand Marais zoning ordinance be amended to accommodate growing businesses.

At issue is a request to establish a microbrewery in the downtown C-1 district. There has been a similar past request, as well as a request for a coffee roasting business, but City Administrator Mike Roth noted that such “light manufacturing and processing” enterprises currently best fit in the Commercial-Industrial (C/I) zone with a conditional use permit. That means they’d be limited to the Cedar Grove Business Park, said Roth.

Councilor and planning commissioner Tim Kennedy pointed out that the proposed zoning change isn’t really a big one.

Kennedy said, “This is already occurring,” noting that the Beaver House makes and sells lures, the World’s Best Donuts makes and sells donuts, and the Gunflint Mercantile makes and sells fudge. “There are all kinds of things being made in town…this is nothing we haven’t already seen,” he said.

What the planning commission wants to ensure, Kennedy said, is that retail is the primary use of the property. Roth added that the ordinance already addresses concerns and sets limitations on things such as lights, noise, vibration, odors and landscaping. The city doesn’t really care, for instance, how many gallons of a beverage are sold or what percentage of space is dedicated for retail, but is more concerned with how the business fits in with the neighborhood, said Roth.