Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snowfall Around the State Impacts County's Agenda

Snowfalls from Minneapolis to Alexandria impacted the County Board Agenda for today's scheduled Board Meeting, Public Hearing and Monthly Worksession.  Snowed in and unable to travel safely to Grand Marais were Tom Wacholz and Rob Barse of ORB Management, Contract Surveyor Wayne Hensche, and MCIT Representatives Robyn Sykes and Jennifer Wolf. 

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

North House Folk School (NHFS)
Greg Wright, Director of NHFS, gave a very positive overview of the state of North House Folk School.  Highlights of Wright's report included notice that this year marks the 10th Unplugged Music Festival and will include NPR's featured music radio show Mountain Stage.  Wright also reported on the MN Lake Superior Coastal Program Grant with the City of Grand Marais, their "Raise the Roof" project and finally a financial overview of 2009 thru 2011.

Mush for a Cure Special Event Permit
The County Board approved a Special Event Permit for the Mush for a Cure Fun Run fundraiser to find a cure for breast cancer.  The Board agreed to waive the fees for this event scheduled for March 11-12, 2011 on the Gunflint Trail.

Patrol Vehicle Replacement 
The Board approved the Sheriff's request to purchase and replace two patrol vehicles.  The Sheriff's Department will purchase (2) 2011 Ford Crown Victoria police package vehicles from Elk River Ford as they have the state bid for these automobiles. 

Lease Agreement for Eagle Mountain Tower
The County Board tabled a request from the Sheriff's Department to renew Lease Agreement No. 9623 for an additional 5 years from April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2016.  The Board had several questions regarding this lease and how it fits into the overall needs of the County for communications and towers.  Because Sheriff Falk was absent from today's meeting and unable to answer our questions, we tabled the discussion until the next Board Meeting.

Town of Tofte Rock Stockpile
The Board approved a Conditional Use Permit to temporarily stockpile approximately 40,000 cubic yards of blasted rock at the abandoned Tofte Cook County Airport.  This approval is an amendment to a CUP originally granted for 30,000 cubic yards.  No additional material will be transported to this site.

Poplar River AUAR 2011 Update
Tim Nelson, Planning Director/Solid Waste Officer, notified the Board that the Poplar River AUAR will need to be considered in 2011 and that options include letting it lapse, revising or renewing the agreement.  The Board directed Nelson to get input from the Poplar River Management Board and Soil & Water Department before making any decisions.

Solid Waste Management Plan
Tim Nelson also reported that the 10 year plan for Solid Waste Managment is due in 2011.  This report will be developed in-house and will consider, among other issues, recycling, hazardous waste, electronic waste, and waste transfer.

PUBLIC HEARING for Judge Magney Plat
A Public Hearing to assess the costs for the Judge Magney plat was held.  (3) members of the Public expressed concerns about the allocation of costs to property owners, stressing a need for fairness.  Due to bad weather, County Contract Surveyor Wayne Hensche was unable to attend today's Public Hearing, so the Hearing will be continued at 11:00 am on March 15, 2011. 

Gitchee Gami Bike Trail
Kevin Johnson and Joe Russell of MN DNR Parks and Trails updated the County Board on the engineering design, construction and funding of the Gitchee Gami Bike Trail that runs along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  (2) small segments of the Trail are planned for construction in the summer of 2011 in Schroeder and Lutsen.  The 8 mile stretch of Trail west of Grand Marais to Cascade River State Park is currently in the Planning Phase. 

Community Center Update
ORB Management was unable to participate in today's Board Meeting as they were snowbound in Alexandria.  As Chair of the Steering Committee, I presented the list of Steering Committee Members for County Board approval.  And, in ORB's absence I reported on the recent progress of the Committee noting that we are deep into the Design Phase and the decision-making process for programming to be included in the new Community Center facility.  ORB will be updating the County Board, ISD 166, the City of Grand Marais, and the Grand Portage Tribal Council at their Joint CCST Meeting at 4 pm on Thursday, February 24 in the Commissioner's Room.  As always, the Public is welcome at these meetings.

Citizen Appointments  
The Board unanimously approved the appointments of Johnathen Smith to the Cook County Planning Commission and Keck Melby to the Governor's Council on MN Coastal Program.

County Board Worksession on Issues Regarding public Meetings and the Open Meeting Law
The County Board Worksession for February was postponed because Robyn Sykes and Jennifer Wolf of MN Counties Intergovernmental Trust were unable to get to Grand Marais due to the snowstorm in Minneapolis.  This meeting will be rescheduled at a later time.