Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Wishes

I read this today and thought it was nice...

New Year Wishes
I wish you Health...
So you may enjoy each day in comfort.

I wish you the Love of friends and family...
And Peace within your heart.

I wish you the Beauty of nature...
That you may enjoy the work of God.

I wish you Wisdom to choose priorities...
For those things that really matter in life.

I wish you Generosity so you may share...
All good things that come to you.

I wish you Happiness and Joy...
And Blessings for the New Year.

I wish you the best of everything...
That you so well deserve.

Author Unknown

Friday, December 23, 2011

Employee Meeting, County Board Meeting and the Human Service Board Meeting

Cook County Employee Assistance Meeting re:  12/15/11 Courthouse Shooting
An all-employee group meeting was held in the Commissioner's Room from 8 am to just about 9 am.  Facilitated by the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Counselors, this meeting was well attended by county employees.  Information regarding the 12/15/11 shooting at the Courthouse was presented by Sheriff Mark Falk.  Information regarding Traumatic Stress and counseling services available was presented by EAP counselors and staff.  Information on additional mental health services was provided by Janet Simonen.

Around 9 am, employees broke into small groups facilitated by EAP counselors to talk about the incident, as well as give and receive support to/from co-workers.  While attendance and  participation was encouraged, these meetings were completely voluntary.

Employees (and community members) are encouraged to a) talk about the incident and share their feelings, and b) exercise.  Talking and exercising will aid the healing process.

For more information about the 12/15/11 incident, go to WTIP and listen to interviews with Sheriff Mark Falk and County Board Chair Jim Johnson.  

County Board Meeting
County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the December 20 County Board Meeting.  Also present were Janet Simonen and Braidy Powers.

Public Comment 
Jim Hall requested the County Board work with the Sheriff and the State to ensure the safety of jurors and others working in the judicial process.

Land Commissioner, Mary Black

As recommended by Mary Black, the County Board approved an abatement request from Property Owner Grant Merritt for the removal of value for land underneath Lost Lake.

Agreement to Initiate Superior National Forest and Cook County Land Exchange (Case #4552)
County Board approved the draft Agreement to Initiate the land exchange with the Forest Service for the county land within the BWCAW.  The draft is approved subject to review by Molly Hicken (or other attorney, i.e., Lake County attorney, as recommended by Molly Hicken).

Highway Department
Final payment to Edwin E. Thoreson, Inc. for CR 62 West (storm work in Creechville) was approved for $17,005.51 bringing the final cost of the project to $69,149.15.

Board Per Diem and Salary
The County Board set Cook County Commissioner per diems and salary for 2012 at the same rate as 2011; no increase.

Emergency Management Performance Grant
Cook County has been awarded an emergency management performance grant in the amount of $15,499; the board approved this grant as recommended by Jim Wiinanen

Fund Balances
At the request of the County Board, Braidy Powers provided a comparison of fund balances for all 87 counties in MN for 2008 and 2009.  Cook County is in the top 25% of all counties in unreserved fund balance as a percent of total current expenditures.

Safety Committee
Janet Simonen informed the Board that the Safety Committee will be providing a list of all activities in the year 2011.  The Board also approved a capital purchase request for an additional Lifepak 500, bio-certified AED defibrillator as budgeted.

The County Board also discussed the need to work with Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, the State and other entities to review the County's security equipment, procedures and policies.

One Percent Projects
A Worksession to discuss One Percent projects was cancelled for 12/20 and rescheduled for 10:30 to 12:30 on January 24 during the regular County Board meeting.

Cook County Emergency Operations Plan
The County Emergency Operations Plan was reviewed and approved by the County Board as presented by Jim Wiinanen.

Cook County Human Services Board Meeting
The Human Services Board Meeting was called to order by Chair Sue Hakes at 1:00 pm.  Others Board Members in attendance were Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson, Carla LaPointe, Fritz Sobanja.  Diane Fitzgerald was absent.

Committee Reports
Committee reports were given for meetings that occurred the past month.  Sue Futterer announced that Carla LaPointe will be the new chair for the Public Health & Human Services Advisory Committee.

Adults and Children with Disabilities
Social Worker, Linda Waterhouse, gave the Board a presentation on her work as the Case Manager for the Developmental Disabilities Program.  The target population served by this program is adults and children with a diagnosis of Mental Retardation or a related condition such as Autism, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy.

Waterhouse provided some background information noting that the US Congress passed the first Development Disabilities (DD) Act in 1974.  Minnesota followed this landmark legislation by committing to case management for persons with mental retardation or related conditions in 1977.  As case manager, Waterhouse works with the person and his/her family to identify their unique needs.  The case manager assists the person and his/her family with locating resources to meet their service and support needs and assures continuity of quality services and supports.

Currently there are 25 cases in Cook County ranging in age of persons from 4 to 83.  The focus is on Consumer Directed Community Support which enables the recipient to stay in the community and costs less to support.

Waterhouse was open about the work she finds rewarding, answered questions and was off to an appointment.

Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor Jan Parish presented the November 30, 2011 Finance Report.  And as a complement to the presentation from Linda Waterhouse, Parish explained the basics of waivered services for families developing Consumer Directed Community Support Program for Adults and Children with Developmental Disabilities.

Director's Report, Sue Futterer
Director Sue Futterer reported the following;
a) A Region 3 Redesign Meeting will be held on January 31 at IRRB in Eveleth, MN; the agenda is forthcoming.
b)  A purchase of service agreement between Cook County and Gregory A. Barnier & Associates is being completed.
c)  HDC has hired a mental health counselor, Dr. Webb, who will begin January 2, 2012.
d)  Cook and Carlton Counties will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Text4Life program for suicide prevention,

Purchase of Service Agreements
Several Purchase of Service Agreements for Cook County were approved by the Board including agreements with NS Hospital and Care Center, AEOA and the Women's Health Center of Duluth.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

County Board Meeting for December 13, 2011

County Board Chair Jim Johnson was absent.  Vice-Chair Jan Hall ran the meeting with Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobonja all present.  Also present were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.  County Attorney Tim Scannell was in Court.

Public Comment
(3) members of the Public addressed the County Board during the Public Comment period.  Judy Motschenbacher expressed concern about the Hospital Tax and who she might talk with about this concern. (Note:  The County Board does not have authority over the Hospital Tax.  Motschenbacher was encouraged to seek out members of the Hospital Board.)  Lloyd Speck expressed concerns about the County Budget including projected expenses at the Airport, hiring in the County Attorney's office, the need for a Communications Specialist, and the Road & Bridge fund.  Steve Carlson expressed his concern about taxes increasing to a point that he believes will prevent people from moving here and buying real estate.  Carlson proposed no increase to property taxes.

Broadband Commission
The County Board unanimously approved the appointment of Bob Pranis to the Broadband Commission as recommended and presented by Terry Meath on behalf of the Broadband Commission.

Highway Department
The County Board authorized the purchase of (1) AutoCAD Civil 3D license and (1) replacement Blackberry Mobile Phone.  And, the Board unanimously voted to support the passage of HR 2947 regarding the CSAH 8 right-of-way acquisition.

County Assessor/Land Commissioner
The County Board approved Assessor Mary Black's request to hire the County Examiner of Titles to prepare  a title insurance commitment on the County Lands within the Boundary Waters at an estimated cost of $50-60/parcel totaling $3000-3500.  The Board discussed with Black whether it was a requirement for the Examiner of Titles to conduct this work and whether or not any of the work might be done in-house as a way to reduce costs.  Ultimately, it was determined to move forward with the Examiner of Titles due to workload in the County Attorney's office and the short deadline to complete the work.

On behalf of the owners of the Best Western Motel downtown Grand Marais, County Assessor Mary Black requested Board action to change the property classification of the Best Western Motel from Commercial to Seasonal Resort for the 2011 assessment, taxes payable in 2012.   The estimated difference in taxes owed is $56,000 less for Seasonal Resort than it is for Commercial.  MN Statute 273.13 Classification of Property defines multiple requirements for a property to be classified as 4c including "real and personal property devoted to commercial temporary and seasonal residential occupancy for recreation purposes for not more than 250 days in the year preceding the year of assessment.  For purposes of this clause, property is devoted to a commercial purpose on a specific day if any portion of the property is used for residential occupancy and a fee is charged for residential occupancy."  The County Board voted 3-1 to approve this abatement with Hakes voting against.  Commissioner Hakes supported her NO vote by saying she saw no evidence that the the Best Western Motel was used for residential occupancy less than 250 days/year.

Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District
The Board voted unanimously to accept the Natural Resources Block Grant for the time period from 9/1/2011 to 6/30/2013 as presented by District Manager Kerrie Fabius.  The amount of this grant is $14,832.  There is an additional $5,000 allocation from the Wetland Conservations Act.

Water Plan Coordinator, Ilena Berg, informed the County Board of the Soil & Water Conservation District's concern regarding water quality impacts of the proposed project at Superior National Golf Course.  These concerns will also be shared with the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the Office of Planning & Zoning (OPZ).  

Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program
Although Jim Boyd is active in multiple public/government sponsored organizations, he was representing himself when he presented a Business Retention & Expansion Program developed at UMD.  Boyd and John Bennett, MN Extension Service, see the BR&E Program as a way to enable local businesses to expand and succeed.  Explaining that the BR&E Program is not a study, Boyd explained that such an endeavor would involve our community in a 12-18 month effort to demonstrate local support for local businesses and help solve immediate business concerns.  In the longer term, objectives would include building our own capacity to sustain business growth, and establish and implement a strategic plan for economic development.  Boyd believes the EDA needs to be involved, but that community involvement and a business leadership team outside of the EDA is necessary for success.

The County Board authorized payment of $68,647.91 to the City of Grand Marais for funding the Grand Marais swimming pool deficit for 2010.  The County Board has budgeted for 1/3 of the pool deficit up to a maximum of $75,000.

The County Board approved a motion made by Commissioner Hakes to reduce the proposed 2.75% increase in the levy by $59,847 and approve this as the final budget and levy.  This will reduce the levy increase to ~1.75% with the final percentage to be calculated by Braidy Powers.

One Percent Project Updates 
The Library Project is complete.  The project was completed under budget and on schedule.

The County Board has a Work Session scheduled to discuss One Percent Project on Tuesday, December 20.  (Note that due to the closing of the Courthouse on Friday 12/16 and Monday 12/19 this meeting is cancelled and will be rescheduled at a later date.)

Service of Prayer for Healing and Peace

As noted on the Boreal Community Calendar, Cook County Ministerium will host a Service of Prayer for Healing and Peace at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 18 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Notice of Meeting Changes at Courthouse

The Courthouse will be re-opened for business at 10 AM Tuesday, December 20. Below is a schedule of Tuesday meetings with some changes noted:

10:00 am          County Board Meeting in Commissioner's Room (no change)
 1:30  pm          Human Services Board Meeting  in Commissioner's Room
                        (note time change from 8:30 am)                                                                            

The County Board Work Session on One Percent Projects previously scheduled for 1:30 on December 20 is CANCELLED and will be rescheduled in 2012.

A meeting for all County Employees will be held in the Commissioner's Room at 8:00 am on Tuesday, December 20.  Representatives from Law Enforcement and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) will be present to provide support & assistance, information and answer questions.  

For general information in understanding traumatic stress that you or someone you care about may be experiencing, see Handout from the Human Development Center (HDC).  For more information about the Human Development Center go to the HDC Website.

As Sheriff Mark Falk stated in yesterday's press conference, "We are a resilient community, a strong community, with lots of good people and we will make it through this."  The Sheriff also asked us to keep our thoughts and prayers with the victims and their families.  

All for now. Peace.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Courthouse Shooting Information

A press conference was held today regarding yesterday's tragic shooting at the Cook County Courthouse.  Click HERE to listen to the report as posted on the WTIP website.

Click HERE for today's news releases from the Office of Communications, a Division of the Minnesota Department of Safety.

Periodic updates will also be provided on the Cook County website.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

County Board Meeting for November 22, 2011

County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the November 22 County Board Meeting.  Also present were Tim Scannell, Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
Stan Tull asked the County Board about its contractual relationship with Sirius Golf Advisors wondering if they were still under contract as a Consultant to the Board.

Pat Campanaro encouraged the County Board to seek outside funding for the Superior National Golf Course project and to hire local contractors whenever possible.

County Highway Department
The County Board approved the final payment to Edwin E. Thoreson, Inc. on project CP 10-02 Furnish Aggregate Stockpile, Class I.

Andrew Graupmann was selected from (5) applicants for the Engineering Technician vacated by Fran Johnson.  No local applications were received.

Cook County Historical Society
The County Board voted to support an application for grant funding for the Cook County Historical Society from the MN Lake Superior Coastal program for a Maritime Heritage Exhibit.  The CCHS, owned by the County, is an excellent site for this type of exhibit as it was once the lighthouse keeper's residence.

Office of Planning and Zoning
The Cook County Planning Commission held a Public Hearing on Wednesday, November 9, to take public comments on formulating recommendations for several proposed ordinance amendments.  Nobody from the public was in attendance at this Public Hearing, nor were any comments submitted before or after the Public Hearing. After much deliberation, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to forward the following recommendations.  At its November 22 regularly scheduled meeting, the County Board supported the recommendations of the Planning Commission:

Section 1.1 of the Subdivision Ordinance--Proposals for subdivision of property located within the jurisdictional limits of the City of Grand Marais (2 miles beyond Grand Marais City limits) are now exempt by Cook County from the requirements of the Cook County Subdivision Ordinance.

Section 9 of the Zoning Ordinance--The Planning Commission and the County Board felt it was too restrictive to require "Type I" septic system standards for non-conforming lots when the MN Rules Chapter 7080 allows for some more moderate design standards.  As such, the words "Type I" have been removed out of Section 9.03(A)(2) and 9.03(B)(2).  This modification will result in this one ordinance provision to be less restrictive than the state statute language.  The County Board approved this 4-1 with Jim Johnson dissenting.

Section 14 of the Zoning Ordinance--Language for Criteria for Decisions for Variances was tweaked only slightly per the recommendation of County Attorney Tim Scannell.  The changes were semantic in nature.

Potential Cook County Zoning Ordinance Amendment--A Public Hearing will be scheduled (most likely in December) and posted for proposed changes to Section 4.09(C)(1) and Section 4.17(C)(1)(c) related to Planned Unit Developments within the jurisdictional boundaries of the City of Grand Marais.

County Attorney
At the recommendation of County Attorney Tim Scannell, the County Board authorized the hiring of Attorney Jean Smith at 35 hours/week for the open Victim's Advocate/Paralegal position.  $32,000 of this position is funded by the State.

Maintenance Department
The Board accepted the resignation of Maintenance Department employee John Johnson.  A temporary replacement will be hired until a decision regarding how best to fill this position can be made.

1% Library Project
Library Director Linda Chappell and Library Board President David Quick updated the County Board on the Library Project budget line items for carpet replacement, relocation expenses and FFE (Furniture, Fixtures, Equipement).  Chappell and Quick also presented a list for FFE at a cost of $95,885.  The County Board approved these purchases up to $95,885 to be paid for with a) $50,000 allocated for FFE, b) $9,250 in a Restricted Capital Fund for carpet from the City/County, and c) Unused funds budgeted for the relocation of the Library.  It is good news that the relocation of the Library was significantly less than anticipated due to length of construction time and rents negotiated.

1% Community Center Project 
Commissioner Hakes reported that Tim Scannell, Braidy Powers, Commissioner Sobanja and she have done some preliminary exploration into potential 3rd party management for the proposed Community Center. An introductory telecon with Mark Hennessy representing the YMCA organization and Tom Wacholz of ORB Management was held to explore the possibility of working together.  A follow up meeting with YMCA personnel is being scheduled to discuss this further and to also include Diane Booth.  Other management options for the proposed new Community Center include the County and Community Education.

1% Superior National Golf Course Project
On Monday, November 14, the County Board met to discuss the Superior National Golf Course Project.  At this November 14th  meeting, the Board made a motion to allocate a total of $3.1 million of One Percent Local Sales Option Tax funding for Phase I of this Plan to improve Superior National Golf Course, contingent upon County Board review of the overall One Percent Funding plan. (Please note that Hakes and Hall voted NO on this motion.) The County Board has scheduled a meeting to discuss the overall One Percent Funding on Tuesday, December 20, from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.  As always, this meeting is open to the public.

Monday, November 21, 2011

2012 Truth in Taxation Information

Go to: for information regarding 2012 Truth in Taxation.

A Special Meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners will be held at the Courthouse on Monday, November 28, at 6 pm.  The Board will review the proposed 2012 Cook County budget and levy and the impact that they have on property taxes. This meeting is open to the public and citizens will be given an opportunity to provide input regarding the issues being discussed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

County Board Meeting for November 15, 2011

My Dad, Herb Hakes, passed away on November 15, so I was not in attendance at the November 15, 2011 County Board Meeting.  Minutes from this meeting will be published in the Cook County News Herald or may be obtained by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3602.

My Dad died on the same date as my Mom, just four years later.  His Memorial Service was held Saturday, November 19, in Aitkin.

My Dad was one of the good guys.  He was hardworking, honest & true, loving & kind, fair & firm, fun-loving, faithful, optimistic, trustworthy, responsible, thoughtful. He was a Believer.  He was my teacher and my "go-to" guy; I trusted him implicitly. Dad always had my best interest at heart.  He was forgiving, always giving me (and others) a second chance.  He believed in wiping the slate clean and fresh starts.

I miss Dad desperately.  I find comfort in knowing that the world is a better place because of my Dad.  And, I am a better person because of my him.  I am grateful for my Dad and thank God for him.

Dad died after a courageous struggle with Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Superior National Golf Course Special Meeting

A special meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners was held this morning to discuss the business plan that Sirius Golf Course Advisors prepared for the Superior National Golf Course in Lutsen.  County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present.  Other County Staff in attendance were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Discussion at this meeting surrounded the Superior National Golf Course Business Plan as presented by Sirius Golf Advisors.  John Waite of Sirius Golf Advisors and Golf Course Architect Jeff Brauer gave a basic overview of the Business Plan and proposed course layout for the "Best 18".  Others present were Bob Fenwick, Mike Litfin, Jim King, George Nelson and and a few members of the Public.

For a complete copy of this plan, contact County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers.  In the meantime, read on for a very brief summary of the proposed plan as I understand it today:

The Plan proposed is basically to  create a "World Class 18-Holes" resort quality course (currently there are 27 holes at Superior National).  The current layout for this "new" course involves part of all three current nine holes, plus two holes that are routed "up the river" on land owned by the ski resort (to be negotiated).

Phase I Construction will begin with renovation of the current River nine holes, an irrigation lake, and a new bridge which will become the "back nine" for the "World Class 18-Holes" course.  While the construction for this part is going on, golfers will be playing the Mountain and Canyon 9's as an 18-hole course.  Phase II work will include partial rebuilding of 4 holes, rebuilding 2 holes in place, building 3 new holes, and driving range.

The total estimated cost for this work to renovate the existing 27 holes to this "World Class 18-Holes" resort quality course is just under $6 million.  Sirius Golf Advisors, the EDA and SNGC Management are requesting that ~$3.1 million of this be funded with One Percent Local Sales Option Tax funds.  The balance would be funded through possible grants, bonding, and revenues.  Proponents of the Plan believe the total impact to the County will be $3.3 million per year.

After a lengthy discussion, the County Board passed 3-2 a motion to allocate a total of $3.1 million of One Percent Local Sales Option Tax funding for Phase I of this Plan, contingent upon County Board review of the overall One Percent Funding plan.

Voting YES to allocate $3.1M for Phase I as described above were Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja.  Voting NO were Sue Hakes and Jan Hall.

I voted against this plan for the following reasons:

1.  The Plan is too financially risky.  There is a lack of supporting evidence for the projected revenues, projected expenses and projected economic impact.  Golf is not a growing industry.

2.  The proposed Plan is an extreme deviation from what was presented to the Public at the time of the Referendum for the One Percent Tax.  Initially, there was a request to the County to pay off ~$400K in bond debt (not allowable under One Percent legislation).  At/near the time of the Referendum passing, the SNGC allocation from the County Board was $0.  Now the request is for $3.1 million.

3.  This plan does not include a commitment from any funding source other than the County.  When the County Board earmarked $1.8 million for improvements to SNGC it was based on the idea that there be a sound business plan and success in obtaining funding from other sources without incurring new debt.

I support reasonable improvements at Superior National Golf Course, but to date there is not a sound plan for moving forward.

Friday, November 11, 2011

County Board Meeting for November 8, 2011

I'm thrilled to report that Board Chair Jim Johnson was in attendance to chair our meeting.  Jim has been absent due to some health issues; it was wonderful to welcome Jim back.  Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja, as well as Braidy Powers, Tim Scannell and Janet Simonen were also in attendance.

Public Comment
Hal Greenwood presented the County Board with a proposal for renovation of the existing City of Grand Marais swimming pool.  The County does not own this pool and recommended Mr. Greenwood present this information to the City Council.

Cook County Highway Department
County Highway Engineer David Betts presented a draft "Subordinate Governmental Service District' described as a Private Roadway Maintenance Policy for Cook County.  The purpose of the SGSD is to provide a mechanism for residents and owners of private roadways to maintain their roads and spread the costs equitably.  The County Board authorized Betts to publish the policy and to send written copies to those neighborhoods that could potentially benefit from the policy.  Betts will also arrange meetings for public comment at the appropriate time.  Click here for a copy of the draft proposal (with my scribbles).

Other Highway Department business included 1) authorization of the final payment to Edwin E. Thoresen, Inc. for the Class I Aggregate Stockpile, 2) awarding Bud's Towing & Plowing the Voyageur's Point snowplowing contract, and 3) approving the contract to renew the agreement between the MN DOT and the County for Federal Participation in Construction.

Building Maintenance
The County Board authorized replacing the furnace in the Community Center at a cost of $2816 as presented by Maintenance Director Brian Silence.

The Board authorized the execution of certain documents to allow the refinancing of the courthouse/law enforcement debt.  Documents will be prepared by the Fryberger Law Firm and reviewed by the County Attorney prior to approval at bond closing.

Outdoor Ice and Warming House
Tim Meyer, Meyer Group Architects, presented the Board with his proposal for additional services related to a warming house for the Outdoor Ice.  Meyer Group is proposing a not-to-exceed fee of $5,000 plus a reimburseable expense of $750 for conceptual design services for a warming house.  Meyer Group will consider incorporating the warming house into the existing community center, as well as a stand alone structure.  Also being considered is the incorporation of a concession stand.

Border Security Bill
The County Board discussed the proposed legislation allowing the Secretary of Homeland Security jurisdiction over all Federal Land within 100 miles of the US Border.  The County Board has concerns about the potential for negative impact to the environment.  A letter expressing this concern to Senators Klobuchar and Franken and Representative Cravaack from the Cook County Board will be drafted by Commissioner Hakes for review at the next County Board meeting. There was general agreement among the Commissioners that while maintaining national security is critical the proposed bill was "overkill".

PUBLIC HEARING on Cook County Social Host Ordinance 
A Public Hearing was held on the proposed Cook County Social Host Ordinance. The City of Grand Marais is also working to adopt this Ordinance.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

County Board Meeting

County Chair Jim Johnson was absent from today's Board Meeting due to illness ( and Vice-Chair Jan Hall was absent as she was participating in the Heart of the Continent International Congress Event.  Commissioner Fritz Sobanja chaired the meeting in their absence. Commissioners Hakes and Martison were present, as were Janet Simonen, Braidy Powers, and Tim Scannell.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to address the County Board.

Cook County Housing Program
Nancy Grabko, Housing Administrator and Mike Litfin, EDA Board Chair, updated the Board on the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Small Cities Development Program.  The Cook County/Grand Marais EDA and the Lake County HRA will make a fourth joint application for additional housing rehabilitation funding and Grand Marais commercial rehab funding in the upcoming application cycle.  Pre-applications are due November 17, 2011.  If invited, final applications are due January 31, 2012.

Grabko also informed the Board that the Commercial Rehab Review Committee (Hal Greenwood-Chair, Vicki Wenz, Anna Hamilton) has recommended the EDA support the following (2) projects for rehabilitation: Cook County Senior Center and The Garage.

County State Aid Highway 8
At the request of Commissioner Hakes, County Engineer David Betts provided the County Board with cost information to apply Class I gravel to CSAH 8 to alleviate the problems of flat tires and potholes.  Betts calculated this cost to be between $113,000 and $147,000.  Hakes also asked Betts about crowning the road for possible relief from the problem.  Betts said material costs for this were also cost prohibitive.  Betts said the County Highway Department will continue to grade the road when possible to make it passable.  Winter snowpack should be better for driving conditions.  Betts estimates the road will be paved in mid-June 2012.

County/Federal Land Exchange
Two County Board Work Sessions have been scheduled to discuss the County's land exchange with the Federal government:  Nov. 4 at 8:30 am and Nov. 15 2-5 pm.  These meetings are likely to be held in the Commissioner's Room.  Watch for the official posting.

Hospital Sales Tax Funds
The Cook County North Shore Hospital requested funding from their 1994 1% Sales Tax Fund to purchase a Hematology Analyzer for $44,500.  This request was approved.

Airport Grant Resolution
The Board approved a resolution for a grant agreement with MN DOT for a runway extension benefit cost analysis and runway design in the amount of $309,510.

Grant Agreement with Arrowhead Electric Cooperative 
Arrowhead Electric Cooperative (AEC) has received funding from the USDA Rural Utilities Services under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build, operate and maintain an advanced, ultra-high-speed broadband network in Cook County.  The County Board approved the Grant Agreement between Arrowhead Electric Cooperative (AEC) and Cook County in the amount of $4,000,000 to ensure AEC will deliver high-capacity internet connectivity, video, telephone services and television  services to every home business and government agency that now receives electricity from Arrowhead Electric or from the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission. County funding for this grant is part of the One Percent Local Sales Option Tax being collected and passed by voter referendum in the Fall 2008.

EDA and Superior National Golf Course (SNGC)
EDA Bridge Loan--For the past several years, the EDA has borrowed and paid back ~$200K from the County for cash-flow during the winter months at Superior National Golf Course (SNGC).  This $200K loan for 2011 is currently in the proceses of being paid off in full and on time.  The County Board approved a new bridge loan for 2012 in the amount of $225K for 1-year at 1%.

SNGC Roof Repair and Equipment Purchase--The County Board approved a) roof replacement on the SNGC Clubhouse ($12,000), and b) the purchase of (5) Toro Mowers (~$183,000) as previously agreed to at the EDA/County Board Work Session on August 18, 2011.

SNGC Business Plan--John Waite of Sirius Golf Advisors (SGA) gave a brief summary of the September 2011 Superior National Golf Course Business Plan.  In this report, SGA feels the best option for sustained success for SNGC, and to maximize economic impact to the area would be to become a 36-hole resort quality course.  Achievement of this goal would be done in (3) phases:
         I.  Get 18 "world class" golf holes
        II.  Build a new clubhouse and cart storage facility
       III.  Renovate the remaining nine holes and add nine more holes to become a 36-hole resort facility.

At today's meeting, Waite, with the support of the EDA, recommended the County fund Phase I  to renovate/build 18 "world class" golf holes in its entirety at an estimated $3.2 Million from the One Percent Sales Tax money.  This recommendation was not received well by me for a variety of reasons. (Because I am careful to NOT speak for the other commissioners in my blog, I speak only for myself on this matter.  That is not to say that other commissioners did not also express concern about this).  I do not believe funding SNGC for $3M (or more) is what the Public had in mind when they passed the One Percent Sales Tax referendum.

Bond Resolutions 
The County Board approved (2) resolutions awarding the sale of
             I.  $1,420,000 for GO Capital Improvement Bonds resulting in ~$138,000 savings/4 years
            II.  $8,500,000 GO Obligation Sales Tax Revenue Bonds for One Percent Projects

Jim Johnson Coverage
For the next few weeks, Board Chair Jim Johnson will be unable to attend the various meetings for Committees he serves on.  While Johnson is out due to illness, other members of the County Board will attend Johnson's Committee Meetings for him.  When issues arise, constituents in Johnson's district are encouraged to contact another Commissioner while Johnson is recovering and temporarily unavailable.  We miss you, Jim!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Human Service Board and County Board Meetings for October 18!

Cook County Human Services Board
Chair Sue Hakes opened the meeting at 8:30 pm.  Board members present were Jan Hall, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja.  Jim Johnson, Diane Fitzgerald and Carla LaPointe were absent.  Also present were PHHS Director Sue Futterer,  Jan Parish, Jennifer Rue and Anna Sandstrom.

Committee Reports
No reports were given as none of the Committees met since the last Human Services Board meeting.

Adult Mental Health Case Management
Jennifer Rue gave the Board an informative presentation about her work as an Adult Mental Health Social Worker for Cook County.  The target population served by the Adult Mental Health program is adults that are diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness.  This program is voluntary and clients come to the County most often by referral through their therapist or doctor.  Others may be referred by family members, other members of the community, or may make the decision on their own.  

The goal of the Adult Mental Health program is to assist people in learning how to manage their mental illness to lead a full life.  Rue described it as being similar to managing a physical chronic illness such as diabetes.  Her role is to connect people with services and resources that are available that they may be unaware of or have no access to.

Rue's current active caseload is approximately 20 clients ranging in age from 22 to 84.  Approximately 1/3 of her clients receive services outside of Cook County, most of these are in Duluth.  She also attends to an average of 10-15 contacts per month for people in need, but for which a case is not opened.  Examples of this might include Cook County visitors that are in crisis or residents of Cook County that need help in securing house.

This work is important and needed.  According to national studies, adults diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illnesses are dying on average 25 years earlier than the general public, mostly due to lack of access or information to medical help.  In 2010, MN began an initiative at the state level to improve life expectancy of Minnesotans diagnosed with mental illness by 10 years within 10 years.

Jennifer Rue answered several questions from the Board about her work and the Adult Mental Health Initiative.  It became quite clear that she finds her work personally rewarding.

Financial Report--Jan Parish, Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor 
Jan Parish updated the Board on the budget noting that the Fund Balance is approximately $100,000 less than one year ago.  As County Tax funds and grants (PHER) are collected, the fund balance should increase.  In general, Parish is reasonably comfortable with the status of the budget expenditures and collections.

Parish complemented Jennifer Rue's presentation by explaining how the Adult Mental Health program is funded by the State of MN through grants and billing for services.

Director's Report--Sue Futterer
Sue Futterer reported that e-Docs has been selected as the vendor to supply management software for Region 3 Income Maintenance Redesign.  This decision was based after comparing e-Docs to another very qualified vendor.  Ultimately e-Docs was selected based on overall cost, compatibility, reliability, services provided, ability to expand, ease of use.

Futterer participated in the Fall MACSSA Conference held in St. Paul where she gave a presentation on the Region III work in Redesign.

Futterer reported that Public Health has been working with success to contain the spread of Pertusis (aka Whooping Cough) in Cook County.  Six cases have been reported in the County.

Futterer provided her 3rd Quarter AWS work report.  No problems were noted by either Futterer or the Board.

Items for Board Action
The Board adopted a resolution to adopt the Region III Adult Mental Health Initiative By-Laws.  The mission of the Region III Adult Mental Health Initiative is to improve the quality of life of all adults with mental illness through the development and enhancement of resources, support and services in Northeastern Minnesota.  Cook County is represented on this Board by Grace Buchard; Grand Portage is represented by Roxy Sherer.

The Board acted to accept the 2012-2013 County MFIP Biennial Service Agreement and the Vulnerable Children and Adults Act Service Plan.

County Board Meeting
County Board Chair Jim Johnson was absent from today's meeting, so Vice-Chair Jan Hall ran the meeting.  Commissioners present were Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja.  Also present for all/part of the meeting were Braidy Powers, Janet Simonen and Tim Scannell.

Vice-Chair Hall opened the meeting noting that she and Jim Johnson share their birthday today.  The County Board wished Jan a happy birthday and also sent their best birthday wishes to Jim Johnson in his absence.

Public Comment
No member of the Public opted to address the County Board at today's meeting.

County Sheriff Mark Falk
The County Board approved the DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Safety Grand for fiscal Year 2012 as requested by Sheriff Falk. This grant has been awarded to Cook County for $14,297.

County Highway Department--Highway Engineer David Betts
David Betts informed the Board that a bid from Winchester Higgins for snowplowing West Rosebush Lane was inadvertently missed when bids were considered and decided upon at the October 11 Board Meeting.  Betts requested that the Board amend their previous motion to award the West Rosebush Lane contract to Higgins based on his low bid.  No other changes were made to the other low bids approved.

Betts reported that County Road 8 was graded last week and that it is currently more passable.  Commissioner Hakes reported that she has still been receiving multiple complaints of flat tires on this 2.5 mile stretch of road under construction.  Hakes asked Betts if it made any sense to crown the road.  Betts said he would prepare a cost estimate for crowning the road or adding Class I gravel.

Auditor/Treasurer's Office--Braidy Powers
Braidy Powers presented the 2011 3rd Quarter County Budget for Board review.  After adjustments, the County is just slightly under budget year-to-date.

The County Board passed a resolution to support the Parks and Legacy Grant program, Regional Trail Grant program and Local Trail Connections program trail administrators and their grant applications.

One Percent Projects Overall
ORB Management provided the Board with an overview status of the One Percent Projects budgets and completion to date.

Community Center Project
ORB Management, supported by Meyer Group and JLG Architects, made a joint recommendation to the Board to locate the proposed Community Center in the NW Corner of the county-owned property at the corner of the Gunflint Trail and 4th Avenue West stating, "The team feels this is the best location considering the pros and cons related to site development cost, political issues and programming".

Discussion by the County Board ensued.  Ultimately the Board approved a motion to locate the proposed Community Center in the NW corner as recommended by the Design Team.  The Board also felt this location met the Board directive given last June to locate the building in the area that is least disruptive to existing recreation amenities.  Placing the building in the NW corner eliminates the need to relocate any of the existing amenities.

Deciding on a location for the building now allows for decision making about locating the outdoor ice, ball fields and other outdoor amenities.  The Board has expressed a will to expedite building outdoor ice for hockey, skating and broom ball in time for the 2012-2013 winter season.  A meeting with the Community Center ICE Committee, ORB and Meyer Group, and representatives from the Hockey Association and Curling will be meeting in the next week or two to discuss location of the outdoor ice and a warming facility.

Making a decision on the location of the Community Center Building does not change the "suspension" status for designing the Community Center building.  

Cook County Historical Society Application for 1% Funding
Historical Society Director Carrie McHugh, accompanied by Historical Society Board members Gene Erickson and Hal Greenwood presented their request for $350,000 of 1% funding to build an annex to the museum building located downtown Grand Marais.  The County Board expressed general support for the project, but explained that resolution of the (7) projects identified prior to the referendum vote would need to be made before additional projects could be added to the list.

A Board Worksession has been scheduled for November 15 to discuss the USFS/County Land Exchange.  The meeting will be held in the Commissioner's Room.

Legislative Priorities
The Board discussed legislative priorities to be forwarded to both Arrowhead Counties Association and MN Rural Counties Caucus.  Priorities for Cook County include Budget issues such as restoring the Market Value Homestead Credit (MVHC), ensuring Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), and State funding for all mandated programs.  Transportation funding for rural MN was also considered a high priority.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

County Board Meeting

Chair Jim Johnson was absent today from the County Board meeting.  Vice-Chair Jan Hall ran the meeting.  Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were present.  Also in attendance were Braidy Powers, Janet Simonen and Tim Scannell.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to address the County Board at today's meeting.

Association of MN Counties (AMC)
The Cook County Board welcomed Jeff Spartz, Executive Director of the Association of MN Counties, to today's County Board Meeting.  Spartz views visiting the various counties throughout the State an important part of his job as Executive Director, stating that "it's where the work is done".  He encouraged the Commissioners to continue their participation in the work of AMC. 

Proposed Social Host Ordinance
After review and discussion, the County Board moved to start the process to allow adoption of a Social Host Ordinance for Cook County.  Among other things, a Social Host Ordinance makes it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place.  Both County Attorney Tim Scannell and County Sheriff Mark Falk are recommending the County and the City of Grand Marais adopt a Social Host Ordinance.  A Public Hearing is scheduled for 11:00 am on November 8, 2011.  A comprehensive educational component will be conducted with the adoption of this ordinance.

Economic Development Authority (EDA) Budget Request for 2012
EDA Director, Matt Geretschlaeger, along with several members of the EDA Board were present for a presentation of the 2012 EDA Budget Request.  The EDA is requesting the County levy $148,566 for the EDA which includes a 1/2 time Director Salary of $34,000 plus Employment Taxes and PERA.  The County Board questioned several of the line item expenses.  The County Board also asked about the efforts to sell lots in the Business Development Park.  No decision about this request was made but will be discussed as part of the overal 2012 County Budget. 

Nancy Grabko was also present at this meeting.  She gave a detailed overview of the success of the Cook County/Grand Marais EDA Housing Program for the past 3 years noting that the average return on investment for this program for every dollar spent is $8.40.  Grabko, within the EDA Budget, is requesting $20,000 to be used as matching funds for housing projects.  These funds would provide the required local support for multiple grant applications. 

Highway Department
The County Board approved a capital purchase request for a plasma cutter ($2738) and pallet racks ($5383) for the Highway Department.

The County Board also reported to County Engineer Dave Betts and Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad concerns raised by the public about County Road #8 including reports of flat tires.  Betts and Klegstad updated the Board on the status of the project, including the Class 5 gravel that has been put down.  Betts and Klegstad urged the Public to heed the speed limit signs for safety purposes and to reduce any damage to tires.

Bond Resolutions
Carolyn Drude of Ehler Financial Advisors was present to answer any questions regarding issuing bonds for  a) $1,420,000 for the "refinancing" of the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center to save an estimated $127,000 over 4.5 years, and b) $8,500,000 for Sales Tax Revenue Bonds for the proposed funding of One Percent Projects including the Library, Birch Grove Community Center, Broadband Grant to Arrowhead Electric, and the Community Center.   Both bond resolutions were adopted by the County Board.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Human Services Board, County Board Meeting and Biomass Work Session

Cook County Human Services Board Meeting
All members of the Cook County Human Services Board were present for today's meeting:  Chair Sue Hakes, Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson, Fritz Sobanja, Diane Fitzgerald and Carla LaPointe.  County staff present was Sue Futterer, Jan Parish, Anna Sandstrom and Janet Simonen.  Ric Schaefer, Arrowhead Health Alliance Director, was also present.

Committee Reports 
Board members reported on the various committees held this past month.  The common thread for all is the challenge of doing more (or at least the same) with less funding.  Commissioner Hall reported that Arrowhead Regional Corrections has labored to cut nearly $1M from its budget, a portion of which will benefit Cook County.  Hall also reported that ARC has received a 2-year grant from the US Department of Justice in the amount of $590,000.  Sue Hakes reported that the North Shore Collaborative heard a presentation from the Two Harbors Area Community Fund about the coming grant cycle.  The Two Harbors Area Community Fund has funded the LOTS reading program in the past.  And Jim Johnson noted with regrets that Darryl Smith is retiring and will really be missed.

Financial Report--Jan Parish, Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor
Jan Parish gave the monthly PHHS financial report; the budget is on track for 2011.  Jan also wrote and shared an interesting (and quite entertaining) anecdote about the changes she has observed and participated in during her 30 years of service in the Cook County Public Health and Human Services Department.

Director's Report--Sue Futterer
Sue Futterer reported that the fiscal case analysis for the Region 3 Redesign Income Maintenance Project is complete and currently being studied by the Human Service Directors in the Region.  They are also evaluating the responses from the (2) potential vendors for the Redesign Software to understand the benefits and trade offs of each system.

Futterer shared a Minnesota Department of Health publication entitled "The Human and Economic Cost of Alcohol Use in Minnesota" dated March 2011.  Highlighted in that report is the fact that the economic costs of alcohol use in Minnesota are an estimated 17 times greater than the $296 million in tax revenues collected from alcohol sales.

Futterer reported that the School Community Action Team  is focusing on the development of a "Social Host Ordinance".  A Social Host Ordinance is different from State laws that prohibit adults from providing alcohol to minors.  Instead, it makes it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place.

The Vulnerable Children and Adults Act is undergoing some legislative changes.  Funding for these service is declining and all indications are that it will continue to decline.

Lastly, Futterer reported that Hilja Iverson has been working on pre-evacuation planning in case it is needed for the Pagami Creek and/or other fires in Cook County.

Arrowhead Health Alliance (AHA) Report--Ric Schaefer, Director 
The Board welcomed Ric Schaefer to its meeting.  Ric was present to give an overview of the Arrowhead Health Alliance.  AHA is a multi-county health and human services joint powers entity between (4) counties:  Cook, Lake, Carlton, Koochiching.  The vision of AHA is to serve all of NE Minnesota with integrated pubic health care and human services that are efficient, accessible and affordable.  Since its inception AHA has successfully obtained funding for and delivered several programs including a $375,000 HRSA grant for Universal Home Visiting for pregnant or postpartum women and their families.  AHA is working to expand its programs to provide services to a greater population base.

Board Actions
The Board formalized (and welcomed) the appointment of Patty Nordahl to the PHHS Advisory Committee to complete the three-year term ending 12/31/12 of the previous Birch Grove Foundation Director. 

County Board Meeting
Chair Jim Johnson and all members of the County Board--Hakes, Hall, Martinson, Sobanja--were present for today's meeting.  County Staff present included Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the Public opted to address the County Board.

Pagami Creek Fire Update
Members of the Northern Rockies Type I National Incident Team gave the County Board an update on the Pagami Creek Fire burning in Lake County.  Approximately 23% of the fire has been contained; it has not crossed into Cook County.  It is anticipated that the fire will be under control by Monday, September 26, weather pending.  To date $3.3 million has been spent on this fire and two firefighters have been injured.

Maintenance Department--Brian Silence, Director
Representing the Colvill Community Hall Committee, Sharon Bloomquist joined Brian Silence in a request for new tables and chairs for the Colvill Community Hall.  The County Board authorized up to $4000 for this purchase.  Bloomquist and Silence agreed to comparison shop and reduce the costs if possible.  Funding will come from the unorganized township budget.

The County Board authorized Brian Silence to have the walkway on the North side of the Courthouse repaired.

County Assessor--Mary Black
Mary Black gave the Commissioners an overview of the current Cook County Taxation Abatement Policy.  Jim Johnson will work with Black to determine whether or not changes are warranted or recommended.

County Engineer--David Betts
Dave Betts notified the Board that Fran Johnson will be retiring effective November 1, 2011.  The Board accepted Johnson's resignation with regret and appreciation for his service.  The Board authorized Betts to begin the process of filling the position that will be vacated.

The County Board authorized Betts to advertise for snow plowing bids on the Evergreen Road, Voyageur's point, Mile-O-Pine Road, and West Rosebush Lane.

The County Board authorized the Highway Department to enter into a contract for geotechnical borings and evaluations as part of the Highway Department facilities Study and Master Plan.  The estimated cost is $3500.

Law Enforcement--County Sheriff Mark Falk
Communications leases between the County and the US Forest Service have been updated for both Gunflint Trail and Mid-trail.  Facilities include under these leases include radio communications towers and equipment shelters.  Both leases will expire one minute after midnight on 12/31/2030.

Auditor-Treasurer--Braidy Powers
28 annual renewal applications for Liquor Licenses were approved by the County Board.  All are subject to applicable approvals from the County Attorney, Sheriff, Town Board, liquor liability and worker's compensation compliance, state and local ordinances, etc.

The Board approved amendments to the Travel Policy as recommended by Braidy Powers to ensure consistency within the Policy as it relates to advances and reimbursements for travel expenses.

The Public Meeting on the 2012 County Budget and Levy (formerly known as Truth in Taxation Meeting) has been set for Monday, November 28.  This meeting must  be held after 6 pm.

One Percent Projects
ORB Management provided an update to the Master Schedule for all 1% Projects.  This schedule has been determined by the County Board and is used as a tool for program tracking and prioritization of projects.  ORB updates this schedule regularly and reports to the County Board the 3rd Tueday of each month.

ORB reported on the Library project.  Nearly 40% of the total project costs have been paid out on the project.  The project is on schedule and budget.  Bi-weekly site visits have been scheduled beginning tomorrow, September 21.  Sue Hakes will be in attendace at that walk-thru.

ORB also reported on the Birch Grove Community Center.  Phase I of this project was completed in mid-August and under budget.  Meyer Group was selected by the Tofte Town Board to develop the master plan for this project and to work with ORB to complete the planning a design of the warming house and skating rink.  As of September, 8% of the 1% funds allocated to this project have been spent.  ORB will continue to work with Tofte to prioritize the proposed projects for the Community Center to stay within the budget.

2012 Budget
The County Board supported a request from Commissioner Hakes to continue meeting on the 2012 budget to decrease spending, lower costs, and  increase revenues.  The next budget meeting has been set for 9:30 am on Friday October 7 in the Commissioner's Room at the Courthouse. 

Biomass Work Session
Representatives from the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP), Dovetail Partners, the University of Minnesota and Local Project Coordinator Gary Atwood met with the County Board to present their report, "Forest Biomass Heating and Electricity in Cook County, MN".  This report presents the results of the first phase of a two-phase study that explores the options, opportunities and implications of using forest biomass as an energy source for the heating of homes, business and public buildings in Cook County.

Phase I of the study focuses on (3) things:  1) the availability of biomass for energy production; 2) the technologies and system configurations which may be suited to the range of potential applications around Cook County; and 3) a financial evaluation of these systems relative to fossil fuel alternatives.  Phase II of this study will provide the basis for determining which options presented in the report, if any, are a good idea for Cook County.  Public input and Community involvement will be a part of this evaluation.

A copy of this report will be posted on both the CCLEP and Dovetail Partners websites as early as September 21.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cook County Board of Commissioner's Meeting

County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
Lance Johnson addressed the County Board during the Public Comment period expressing his concerns about 1% funding being spent on the Community Center and Superior National Golf Course, ORB Management, and the City of Grand Marais contract with Burbach Aquatics.

Fire Update
Melissa Groves of the USFS gave the County Board an update on the fires in both Lake and Cook Counties.  She also informed the Board that a Type II Firefighting Team will be on standby in Grand Marais beginning today.  Information about these fires may be found  at:  Information may also be found on the Boreal Homepage, the WTIP North Shore Community Radio Homepage, or on the dial at 90.7 FM.

Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
The Board authorized a request from Kerrie Fabius, District SWCD Manager, to support the submission of a Clean Water Fund Grant to upgrade 4 County boat landings (McFarland Lake, Clearwater Lake, (2) on Saganaga Lake).  The Board approved up to $15,000 to be used as a match for this effort.  Funding will come from the Forest Access Road Fund.  Fabius will also explore opportunities in the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage funding.

County Attorney's Office
The County Board accepted, with regrets, the resignation of Victim Witness Coordinator Susan Maijala.  The Board also authorized County Attorney Tim Scannell and Personnel Director Janet Simonen to create a job description to expand the position of Victim Witness Coordinator to 35 hours/week by combining it with a ~1/2 time Paralegal position.

PUBLIC HEARING on Intent to Issue Capital Improvement Bonds
A Public Hearing was held to provide an opportunity for the public to express their views concerning (i) the County's Capital Improvement Plan for the years 2011 through 2015; and (ii) the County's intent to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,450,000.  No member of the Public spoke at this Public Hearing and the Board passed a Resolution to accept the plan and to state their intention to issue such bonds.  By issuing these Capital Improvement Bonds, the County expects to obtain total savings of approximately $122,445 and eliminate the need for a debt service reserve fund.

Schroeder Township Survey
The County Board authorized a Professional Service Agreement for a Survey in Township 58N Range 5W with Wayne Hensche, Registered Land Surveyor.  The cost of the survey will be up to $57,000 with the work to be completed by July 30, 2012.

Hospital Sales Tax Request
Cook County Hospital requested reimbursement of $9659 from the Hospital Sales Tax funds to pay for their 1/2 of the installation of their new facility sign.  There is $359,000 remaining in the Hospital Sales Tax Fund to be used to fund capital requests.  The County Board approved this request.

Revolving Loan Fund
The County Board approved a Revolving Loan Fund Request for the owners of the Crooked Spoon Restaurant in the amount of $66,800 as recommended by the Revolving Loan Fund. 

Preliminary Budget and Levy
The County Board adopted its 2012 Preliminary County Budget and Levy at an increase not-to-exceed 2.75%.  In a series of Budget Meetings, the County Board has worked diligently with its Department Heads to increase revenue and cut spending without serious interruption to services. To date the Board has identified over $300,000 in adjustments that will reduce the Levy increase.  This work will continue with the Final Budget and Levy to be set in late December.

Abatement Application
The Board approved an Abatement Request from Peggy Lundy for the Cliffdweller Motel by a vote of 4-1 (Commissioner Hakes opposed).  The Property Owner requested changing the classification to Ma and Pa Resort from Commercial for assessment 2011/taxes payable 2012.  Deadline for submitting this application was January 15, 2011.

Secure Rural Schools Funding 
The County Board determined its allocations for Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Funding and will notify the Forest Service of the following:  Title I (85%), Title II (8%), Title III (7%).  As noted in a National Association of Counties Press Release dated February 16, 2111,

"The Secure Rural Schools Act was passed in 1999 to replace lost revenues to counties and schools because of dramatically reduced timber harvests on federal lands. Since its passage, funding from Secure Rural Schools has allowed counties to continue to provide vitally important public services such as health care, search and rescue operations and maintenance of roads and bridge. 

The impact of Secure Rural Schools goes beyond counties and schools. It helps protect vulnerable national forests through enhancement projects and wildfire protection efforts and provides thousands of jobs in the 41states that receive funding under the legislation."

Office of Planning and Zoning
After a long discussion, the County Board voted 4-1 (Commissioner Johnson opposed) to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Dennis LaBoda to establish a dog kennel operation within the Forest/Agriculture Residential (FAR-2) zone district.  The Board approved the CUP as recommended by the County Planning Commission with one additional condition that the dog kennel shall not be less than 500 feet from an existing residence of an adjoining property owner."

Fire Information for Lake and Cook Counties

Two meetings have been scheduled to provide updates regarding the Fire situation in Lake and Cook Counties:

                Tuesday, Sept. 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the U.S. Forest Service Conference Room in Grand Marais;
                Wednesday, Sept. 14th at 11:00 a.m. in the Poplar Lake Fire Hall on the Gunflint Trail.

Information regarding these public meetings is also being disseminated via Boreal at and WTIP at or at 90.7 FM.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More on Budgets and the County Board Meeting

2012 County Budget Hearings
Monday was another full day of Budget Hearings by the County Board.  A follow-up meeting with the County Department Heads is scheduled for September 12.

County Board Meeting
County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were Braidy Powers, Tim Scannell and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the Public opted to address the County Board.

Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department
Chris Steele and  Michael Valentini of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department (GTVFD) presented the GTVFD proposal for expanding their (3) fire halls:  Poplar Lake, Gunflint and Seagull.  The proposal includes the addition of a bathroom at Gunflint, storage at Poplar Lake and creation of a Command Post at both Poplar Lake and Seagull.  The total cost for this work is estimated to be $550,000 to be paid by raising $50,000 in donations, finding $100,000 in grants and a loan from the County.  The County Board authorized a $220,000 loan for 20 years at 1% to the GTVFD to be paid back by increasing the levy in that Fire District.  Steele and Valentini said their project has the support of all Lake Associations in the District, Law Enforcement and the Forest Service.

Grand Marais-Cook County Airport Commission
The County Board voted unanimously to update and renew the Operation Service Provider Agreement (OSP), Fixed-Base Operator (FBO) Agreement, Airport Administrator Agreement, and Airport Commission By-Laws as recommended by the Airport Commission.

Highway Department
County Engineer David Betts and Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad asked the County Board for approval to proceed with a surplus equipment auction.  The Board approved this request and also a request to replace a broken 3" pump.

Betts also gave a status report on the CSAH 8 road construction project.  Originally, this project was ahead of schedule, in part due to the State Shutdown and the availability of the Contractor.  Now, due to high demand for the asphalt plant after the State Shutdown, the project is being delayed.  CSAH 8 will be prepped and ready for asphalt pavement when it becomes available.  The road will have Class 5 gravel laid down.

Law Enforcement
The County Board approved a lease for the County to continue its use of the Devilfish Tower Site.  Cook County currently has one antenna on this tower and a small building on the site to house a repeater.  This lease is pre-dated to July 1, 2009 and terminates on June 30, 2019 for an annual lease fee of $500.

The County Board also approved a request from Sheriff Falk to support the submission of a $1M grant application to FEMA under the Assistance to Firefighter's Grant (AFG) to offset countywide costs for the migration to the ARMER system.

PUBLIC HEARING to consider changes to the Cook County Fee Schedule
No member of the Public spoke at this Public Hearing and the County Board approved the proposed changes to the Cook County Fee Schedule in Public Health and Human Services and Environmental Health.  Most of the changes were slight reductions.

Community Center Ice
The County Board approved a request to purchase Synthetic Ice up to $65,000 using 1% Local Option Sales Tax funds from the Community Center project, subject to a) trial and approval of a sample of this ice by the Cook County Hockey Association, and b) modification to the original Community Center 1% Local Options Sales Tax request.

The Cook County Amatuer Hockey Association and the Community Center Board of Trustees also requested the County Board commit to constructing outdoor ice beginning no later than July 1,  2012.  The County Board could not commit to this without a specific plan for the ice; concerns about identifying a location were also expressed.  Clearly, however, the County Board is supportive of expediting this process as is reasonable and requested the Hockey Association and Community Center Board of Trustees come forward with a proposal for consideration.

The County Board also reviewed a proposed Lease Agreement between the existing Community Center and the Cook County Curling Club for a period of 5 1/2 months and a fee of $13,750.  The Board agreed to the lease agreement in general principal, suggested a few minor changes, and asked County Attorney Tim Scannell to review the contract.

Recycling Center Vehicle
Brian Silence and Tim Nelson requested authorization to purchase a used vehicle for the Recycling Center.  The County Board authorized this purchase 4-1 with Commissioner Hakes voting no.  Hakes expressed the need to understand the vehicle purchasing policy and confidence that the current policy is the most cost effective.

HOME Consortium Advisory Committee
Sue Hakes asked the County Board to consider appointing Nancy Grabko to the open housing advocate seat on the HOME Consortium Advisory Committee.  The Board agreed Grabko would fit the position well and asked Hakes to get a letter of application/interest from Grabko for formal consideration.

One Percent Project Updates
The Board briefly discussed the Superior National Golf Course project noting that $1.8M of the 1% Local Option Sales Tax was set aside for this project at last week's Joint County/EDA Work Session, subject to an acceptable Business Plan.  Commissioner Hakes stated that while she appreciated the high bar that the SNGC and EDA had set for themselves to find funding to renovate the golf course and clubhouse, that she would not support any SNGC proposal that required an increase to the levy, bonding, or other new debt.  Hakes reminded the Board that the EDA has outstanding debt of ~$1.6M for the Cedar Grove Business Park that is currently the burden of the City of Grand Marais.  Overall, the Board shared the concerns expressed by Hakes.

Power It Down Day
Cook County received a friendly, informal memo from the USFS encouraging the County to join with the USFS in "Power It Down Day".  The memo asks each of us to turn off our computer, monitor, printer, coffee pot, scanner, copier, plotter and personal appliances when leaving work on Friday.  This one simple act helps to cut greenhouse gas emissions from building energy consumption and purchased electricity.

City/County Work Session on Community Center
The County Board and the City Council met to discuss possible options for the City to participate in the Cook County Community Center project.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Budgets, Human Services and the County Board

2012 County Budget 
The County Board, along with the Auditors Office and Department Heads, is working hard on the 2012 Budget.  Last Monday and a portion of Tuesday, the County Board held Budget Hearings.  These hearings will be completed on August 22.  A follow-up meeting with the Department Heads is scheduled for September 12.  Click here for the complete 2012 Budget Calendar.  These meetings are open to the Public.

Cook County Human Services Board
Human Services Board Chair, Sue Hakes, along with Board members Diane Fitzgerald, Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Carla LaPointe, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the monthly Human Services Board meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer, Jan Parish, Pat Strand, Anna Jorgenson and Janet Simonen.
Long Term Care and Waivered Services
Pat Strand, Eligibility Worker and Case Aide, gave an overview of her work.  Strand works to provide Long Term Care (LTC) and Waivered Services for the elderly, blind and disabled with the goal of keeping people in their homes as opposed to going to a Care Center facility.  Currently there are 34 cases of LTC and Waivered Services and 59 cases of other Medical Assistance and Food Support cases.  Strand believes that with recent legislative changes, as well as County demographics and the overall economy, that this caseload will most likely continue to increase.

Strand is the Long Term Care expert in the Human Services Department; her work has been appreciated in Cook County for 23 years.

July 2011 Financial Report
Fiscal and Income Maintenance Supervisor Jan Parish presented the July 2011 Finances.  Parish noted that the Cash Balance for the department is down slightly most likely due to the delay in funding caused by the State shutdown.  She also noted that the budget is on plan for the current year.

Director's Report
Human Services Director Sue Futterer presented some interesting information she gathered about the impacts and cost benefits of Home Visitation Programs. Currently in Cook County, pregnant or post-partum women and their families are being served by a Universal Home Visiting Grant awarded to Arrowhead Health Alliance.  Studies show that programs similar to this have multiple benefits including a significant financial payback.

Futterer updated the Board on the Region 3 Income Maintenance Redesign Project and requested the Board consider funding this project from the General Fund.  The Board will take this into consideration as part of setting the overall budget.

Futterer distributed (2) very useful documents for Board information:  2011 Legislative Session:  Summary of Laws and 2011 Legislative Session Summary:  Local Public Health Association of Minnesota.

Board Actions   
The Board approved an amendment to the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) Agreement between Cook County and Sawtooth Mountain Clinic for bridging funds in the amount of $9,036.  The Board also approved a Purchase of Service Agreement between Cook County and Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) for supported work activities for MFIP Clients in the amount of $2,985.

County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Chair Jim Johnson and all Commissioners (Hakes, Hall,  Martinson, Sobanja) were present for today's regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.

Public Comment
No member of the Public opted to address the County Board at today's meeting.

Poplar River Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (AUAR)
The Board voted to re-adopt the Lower Poplar River Alternative Urban Area-wide Review (AUAR) along with its mitigation plan for another five year period.  This action includes incorporation by reference of two more recent water shed studies.

Highway Department--5th Avenue West Ditch Reconstruction
The County Board awarded the 5th Avenue West Ditch Reconstruction project to low bidder Edwin E. Thoreson for $53,337.81.  This project is slated to begin within a week and should be complete by mid-September.

Otis Creek Crossing CSAH 16
County Engineer David Betts provided the County Board with his assessment of the issues and potential solutions for the Otis Creek/CSAH 16 storm flooding.  Betts asked the Board to authorize a ditching project at the intersection of CSAH 16 and CR 69 to help alleviate the problem.  Because of the potential impact to private property owners, Commissioner Hall requested the neighbors be informed and solicited for input before moving forward.

Betts also recommended that work be continued to reconstruct the Otis Creek crossing at CSAH 16.  However, he recommended that this crossing NOT be reconstructed prior to the reconstructing the Stonegate Road and TH 61 Crossings. A letter has been sent to MnDOT.  A second letter will be drafted and sent to the Stonegate Homeowners Association.

Lastly, Betts noted that there are insufficient grant funds and Highway Department personnel available to do the ditching or construct this crossing and that State-Aid monies would need to expended which could put other projects in the Five Year Plan in potential jeopardy.

Sawtooth Mountain Bike Challenge
The County Board approved a special permit for the 2011 Sawtooth Challenge Mountain Bike Race scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, August 27.

One Percent Local Option Sales Tax Projects
The Board approved a request to enter into an agreement with DSGW for interior design of the circulation and reference desks, as well as the work flow for the Library Expansion.  It is anticipated that this space will be built by local cabinet makers.

A Master Schedule of the One Percent Sales Projects has been created and reviewed by the County Board.  This Master Schedule identifies financial placeholders or projected costs and % of completion for (5) projects:  Cook County Community Center $11M, Library Addition $1.49M, Birch Grove Community Center $700K, Superior National Golf Course $1.8M, Broadband $4M.  The County Board and ORB Management also discussed criteria for prioritizing the projects.  Certainly any project needs to comply with the Legislation that was passed.  The Board also discussed the importance of giving priority to the projects that were identified when the public voted on the tax.

The County Board discussed the pros and cons of  (3) possible locations for the Community Center.  They also explored the possibility of locating the facility adjacent to ISD166.  There has not been a recent dialogue between the County and the School Board regarding this option, so the County Board will draft a letter to the School Board inviting them to explore this possibility further at the next Joint City/County/School/Tribe meeting already scheduled for August 25 at 4 pm in the City Council Chambers.

A work session to discuss the County Biomass Feasibility has been scheduled for September 20, 2011 at 1 pm.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

County Board Meeting

County Board Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes, Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's regularly scheduled Board Meeting.  Also present were Braidy Powers, Tim Scannell and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the Public opted to speak during the Public Comment period.

Maintenance Department
The Board authorized Maintenance Supervisor Brian Silence to enter into an agreement for $4800 with the Jamar Company to conduct an extensive investigation of the tie-in to the original building and gutter eave of that building.  This investigation and subsequent repair will be done to prevent water intrusion.

The Board also authorized Silence to purchase 9 personal task lights  at a cost of $335 each to be installed on the Commissioner's table.  These lights are being installed so that overhead compact florescent lights may be turned off in the presence of people with sensitivity to such  lighting.  The new lights consume minimal energy.

Information Systems (IS)
Congratulations to Information Systems Director Danna MacKenzie for being selected as a 2011-2012 Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  MacKenzie was selected from a large number of robust applicants to develop core leadership competencies necessary to inspire, organize and work effectively to advance the public good.  The County Board was pleased to authorize MacKenzie to use $1000 from the IS Department training budget for years 2011 and 2012 to pay ~1/3 of the program fees.

As noted in the Policy Fellows Program Overview, a vibrant community benefits everyone and MacKenzie's participation in this program will certainly benefit Cook County.  "Citizens who take part in public affairs must turn from the private interests to take a look at something other than themselves." Alexis de Tocqueville.    

Ehlers and Associates
The County Board passed a resolution calling for public hearings on a capital improvement plan and the intent to use capital improvement bonds.  More simply stated, the County would like to refinance their debt for the Cook County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center.  By refinancing, the County is likely to save an estimated $122,000 in interest costs.

On another note, Bruce Kimmel of Ehlers and Associates presented an overall bond timing and master cashflow scenario for all one percent sales tax projects.  In this scenario, the County will likely issue bonds for $8,500,000 this Fall.  Interest rates are very attractive and anticipated to remain low.

PUBLIC HEARING to survey Sections 7-8-9-17-19, T58N, R5W in Schroeder Township
A pubic hearing was held on this matter.  No objections from the public were raised and the process will move forward.  A citizen petition tallied 67% in favor of this corner restoration survey.

Cook County Historical Society (CCHS)
Carrie McHugh, Cook County Historical Society Museum Director, gave a wonderful mid-year overview of the work the Cook County Historical Society has completed, is working on, or has plans for.  Of particular note is the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Exhibit which included a two-room exhibit, digitization of photos and oral histories, as well as an on-line component.  And, the CCHS is hopeful they will be successful in their request for a grant from the LLoyd K. Johnson foundation to fund conservation of the Grand Marais Lighthouse Lens to be received on long-term loan from the Coast Guard, perhaps as early as this Fall.

The CCHS requested the County Board continue their annual grant for their important work.

Vacating County Road 79
The Board authorized a resolution to begin the process to vacate County Road 79, formerly a section of Old Highway 61.  Recent Mn/DOT Highway 61 road construction in Lutsen created a new access to property owners using CR 79 so it is no longer needed.

Permits and Licenses
The County Board approved a raffle on August 13 at the Midtrail Firehall as requested by the Mid Trail Home Owners Association.  The Board also approved a temporary on-sale liquor license for a single day (9/22/11) as requested by the Schroeder Area Historical Society for the an event at the Cross River Heritage Center.

Superior National Golf Course
The County Board reviewed a proposal from Sirius Golf Advisors to conduct a business and marketing plan for Superior National Golf Course.  Sirius also proposed a consulting contract to provide assistance in executing the business plan.  The County Board agreed that it needs a Work Session with the EDA to determine a) direction and mission of SNGC, b) roles & responsibilities of the County, the EDA and SNGC Staff, and c) funding.  The County Board also asked EDA Liaison Bruce Martinson to recommend that the EDA/SNGC Staff immediately implement the no-cost or low-cost suggestions already given by Sirius Golf Advisors to improve operations at SNGC this year.  It is anticipated that the County/EDA Work Session will be held Thursday, August 18th at 7 pm in the Commissioner's Room.

Highway 61 Otis Creek Crossing
Highway Engineer Dave Betts drafted a letter to Mn/DOT requesting that Mn/DOT replace the TH61 box culvert over Otis Creek.  This request is being made to handle any increase in flow that would result from increasing the size of the CSAH 16 culvert as desired.  The existing drainage structure is undersized; excess runoff is impacting local residents and needs to be corrected.  The Board authorized Betts' letter.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Broadband Resolution Passed at County Board Meeting

Today was a very full and productive day at the Courthouse.  The County Board met from 8:30 AM until approximately 4:30 PM today (less a lunch break).  Following is a summary of the day.

County Chair Jim Johnson and Commissioners Hakes,  Hall, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's regularly scheduled Board Meeting which included an evaluation presentation on Superior National Golf Course (SNGC) from Sirius Golf Advisors.

Open Forum
Richard Olson and Shawn Perich requested the County work with Hovland property owners to resolve flooding issues caused by the undersized culvert where Otis Creek crosses the Arrowhead Trail.  Otis Creek has overtopped the Arrowhead culvert five times over the past six years causing damage to private property.  County Engineer Dave Betts is aware of the problem and will prepare a plan to resolve this issue for presentation at the 8/16/11 County Board meeting.

Highway Department
County Engineer David Betts asked the Board to assign (2) Commissioners to the Facility Study Committee to assess the work on the Highway Department Master Site Plan being led by Oertel Architects. Commissioners Martinson and Sobanja will join the Committee of Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad, Maintenance Department Head Brian Silence, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Highway Department Accountant Anne Zellner.

Moose Habitat Collaborative Support Letter
Land Commissioner Mary Black requested the Board write a letter of support for the MN Moose Habitat Collaborative application for Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council funds to restore moose habitat in NE Minnesota.  The Board voted unanimously to join the MN Deer Hunters Association, Nature Conservancy, USFS, MN DNR, 1854 Authority, Grand Portage and Fon du Lac Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lake and St. Louis Counties by providing a letter of support.

Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ)
As recommended by the Planning Commission, the Board unanimously approved a zone change from Lakeshore Residential to Resort Commercial/Residential on property adjacent to Gunflint Lake and owned by John Schloot, dba Cross River Properties.

The Board denied a request for a Conditional User Permit to allow placement of a single family residence on a property owned by Joseph Sanders within the General Commercial zone district.  This request was denied for non-compliance with other zoning requirements 4-1 with Commissioner Sobanja dissenting.

The Board unanimously approved a request from Arrowhead Electric Cooperative for an Interim Use Permit to allow the temporary storage of fiber optic cable on property within the Lutsen Town Center Single Family Residential District.

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Request for 1% Funds
Arrowhead Electric Cooperative (AEC) came before the County Board to request $4 million of 1% Local Option Sales Tax funding for their Broadband Project.  AEC has been awarded a combination grant and loan of $16 million through the federal Rural Utility Service for purposes of installing broadband technology throughout Cook County by making high speed internet available to all customers served by Arrowhead Electric and the Grand Marais Public Utilities Commission.  AEC is incurring at least $5.4 million in debt to undertake and complete the Broadband Project.  AEC needs an additional $4 million to ensure that the system is adequately robust, redundant, and long lasting.  The Board approved this request unanimously.

Capital Purchase Request
The Board authorized IS Director Danna MacKenzie to purchase (3) Dell computers as part of the IS Department's regularly planned rotation and maintenance plan as budgeted.

Community Center Project Update
Tom Wacholz of ORB Management informed the Board that sample collections (drilling) at the various Community Center site options will begin tomorrow, July 27.  The Board voted unanimously to add samples to be collected from the potential school site option.

ISD166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz updated the County Board on the School Board's two-part motion indicating the School District's willingness to consider a proposal that would attach the Community Center to the School District.  Advocates for attaching the Community Center to the School envision this to be at no-cost to ISD166 and should reduce annual operations and maintenance costs for the District.

The County Board discussed possible options to allow the City of Grand Marais to participate in the Cook County Community Center project.  Ultimately the Board passed a motion to suspend further Community Center design activities and expenses until the matter of the City's participation is resolved.  The contracts with ORB Management for Community Center Contract Management and Meyer Group for Community Center design will be suspended with the exception of the current site evaluation process.  The County will invite the City Council to a joint County/City work session on 8/23/11 to discuss the matter further.

Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers asked the Board to approve a Public Hearing for Miscellaneous Fees.  The Hearing will be scheduled for 10 AM on August 23.  Powers also asked the Board to approve an extension to the Tait Lake Firewise Grant, which was approved.

Evaluation of Superior National Golf Course (SNGC) in Lutsen 
Sirius Golf Advisors President John Waite and Golf Course Architect Jeff Brauer presented their draft Evaluation of SNGC to the County Board and several members of the Public, including members of the EDA.  The final report will be available in approximately 2 weeks; no significant changes are anticipated.  An Executive Summary of the ~175 page document was also provided.

Overall response to the study and the presentation was very positive and well-received.  The County Board, as well as others in attendance asked clarifying questions of Waite and Brauer.  The report noted the original SNGC mission to spur economic development in the area and to bring more tourists into the area.  So, at this point, the most important question to be asked is whether or not the original mission statement for Superior National Golf Course is still valid.  Answering this question is critical to how the County Board and the EDA should move forward.  Sirius Golf Advisors offered (3) different scenarios for consideration, each requiring a different amount of funding.  The EDA and SNGC staff will explore possible funding sources in addition to their anticipated request for 1% Local Option Sales Tax funds.