Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Human Services and County Board Meetings of 2013

Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes and Board Members Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Carla LaPoint, Jerry Lilja, Bruce Martinson, and Fritz Sobanja were all in attendance at today's meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer, Jan Parish, Martina Mellang, and Janet Simonen.

Introductions of New PHHS Staff
Public Health and Human Services Director Sue Futterer was pleased to introduce several new employees at today's meeting including Sheila Wieben, Beth Faraone, Jared Scheel and Alison McIntyre.  All were welcomed by the Human Services Board.

Committee Reports
(for more details on any of these committees, contact the representatives identified below)
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency--Sue Hakes reported AEOA will meet tomorrow 12/19/12.
Arrowhead Health Alliance Joint Powers--Sue Hakes reported AHA did not meet ine December.
Arrowhead Regional Correction--Jan Hall reported ARC will meet this Friday.
Community Health Board--Jan Hall reported on the results of the County Top 10 Health Issues.
Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee--Jerry Lilja and Carla LaPointe reported the Advisory Committee has not met this month.
Health Care Planning Committee--Jim Johnson reported on Hospital budget, Ed Niemi retirement.
North Shore Collaborative--Sue Hakes reported on the (5) major goals of the NSC.

Health Care Access Transportation
Jan Parish gave an information report on Medical Assistance Access Transportation, explaining that this service is for persons eligible for Medical Assistance in need of transportation to medical facilities.  Parish reported that approximately 60 clients/year are provided approximately 20 rides/month. This is an important service provided to ensure access to medical care for those in need.  The County is reimbursed 100% for providing this service, volunteer drivers are paid 20 cents/mile.

November Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Accounting Supervisor Jan Parish gave an overview of the Budget through November 30, 2013.  Use of the PHHS Fund Balance is over the budget by ~$50,000.

Director's Report
Director Sue Futterer reported on the progress of Region 3 Redesign for Child Support services. A regional meeting of Human Service directors, County Administrators and Commissioners will be held January 29, 2013 at a location to be determined.

Futterer also reported on the "Top 10 County Health Issues" which were identified by a Community Health Assessment conducted in Carlton-Cook-Lake-St. Louis Counties.  The Top 3 Health Issues in each of these counties was the same with 1) Obesity, 2) Mental Health, and 3) Alcohol, Tobacco & Drug Use all of highest concern.

Futterer reported that she participated in a free service at the December Association of Minnesota Conference entitled "Insights Discovery Profile and the Service Value Wheel".  She enjoyed taking the assessment and the raising of self awareness.  Tools such as these could be useful tool for understanding others and improving teamwork.

I Am Adam Lanza's Mother article
Sue Hakes recommended the Board and the PHHS Staff read the article entitled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" which has spread like wildfire over social media in the days since the Newtown, CT school shooting.  A discussion followed that acknowledged that we are all Adam Lanza's neighbor, aunt, mother, teacher, sister, employers, social workers and friend.  As the Human Services Board and Human Services staff we are uniquely positioned to help those in need of mental health services, get those services.

Items for Board Action
The Board made a motion to accept 2012 donations in the amount of $5650 to be used to support those in need.

The Board raised the rate of pay for In Home Support contract workers to $16/hour.

County Board Meeting
County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for this last Board meeting in 2013.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Fritz Sobanja and Jim Johnson, December 19, 2012.
Commissioners and County employees bid farewell to Commissioners Jim Johnson and Commissioner Fritz Sobanja by celebrating with cake and coffee.  Both Sobanja and Johnson served for 8 years.

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

Wetlands Management Plan Committee
Planning & Zoning Director, Tim Nelson, and David Demmer came before the Board to request a motion to support the development of a Cook County Wetland Management Plan Committee for 2013.  The first goal of the committee will be to establish Cook County's highest priorities for wetland management.  If you are interested in participating on this committee, please contact David Demmer at 387-3634, or your commissioner, to learn more.

2013 Cook County Budget and Levy
The County Board approved the 2013 Budget and set the property tax levy for 2013 at 2%, a reduction from the preliminary levy set at 5.76%.

The Board approved the purchase of a dual band radio for the Search & Rescue Hall at a cost of ~$560 as recommended by Jim Wiinanen (Emergency Management) and Rowan Watkins (Radio/IT Technician).

The Board passed a motion for Cook County to enter in a contract to perform general demolition, concrete and excavation work on the Cook County Family YMCA, subject to review by the County Attorney's Office.  The Board also authorized purchasing concrete rebar now as it is anticipated these costs will go up in the coming weeks.

Personnel Committee 
The Board authorized (4) changes to job descriptions and grade levels as recommended by the Personnel Committee (Jan Hall, Bruce Martinson, Diane Booth, Sue Futterer, Brian Silence, Janet Simonen).  These jobs were in the IT and PHHS Departments.

Subordinate Governmental Service District for Tom Lake Area Roads
The Board discussed the pending Subordinate Governmental Service District for Tom Lake Area Roads which was approved November 13, 2012.  Some of the affected property owners have voiced opposition since the Public Hearing.  The Board discussed the process for citizens to follow if they want to reverse this decision.  For more information, the public is encouraged to contact Braidy Powers at 387-3646.  Go to MN Statute 375.B to read more about County Subordinate Service Districts.

One Percent Projects
Sue Hakes distributed the construction progress meeting notes reviewed and discussed at the weekly Construction Progress meetings held on the Cook County Family YMCA.  This information is available on the County Website.

County/USFS Land Exchange
The Commissioners expressed concern over the values proposed by the USFS for lands to be exchanged between the USFS and Cook County.  Commissioners Sobanja and Martinson, Assessor Betty Schulz and Highway Department personnel will be meeting with the USFS to discuss.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the formal meeting minutes for the December 19 meetings may be obtained by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3687 or by going to the County Website.  For a video of these meetings go to Boreal.TV.

Farewell to Fritz and Jim!

At the last County Board meeting of 2013, the Commissioners and County employees bid farewell to Commissioner Fritz Sobanja and Commissioner Jim Johnson.  Both Sobanja and Johnson served 8 years on the County Board. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

County Board Meeting December 11, 2012: EDA Budget, Courthouse Security, Board Statement

County Board Chair Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Johnson (8:45 a.m.), Martinson, and Sobanja were all present for the December 11 County Board meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Opening Statement
Board Chair Jan Hall read a statement on behalf of the County Board:

"The County Board is very aware of a complaint that has been made against our Cook County Attorney.  This complaint is being investigated by the proper authorities in an appropriate manner and no decisions or findings have yet been made.  Pursuant to MN Statues, County Commissioners have very limited authority over the other elected positions of County Attorney, Auditor, Recorder, and Sheriff, but will continue to monitor the situation.  We would like to express our deep concern for all the parties involved, as well as for our community during this difficult time."

Public Comment
Grand Marais resident and parent Jason Zimmer came before the County Board and asked the Board to request for the resignation of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell.  Commissioner-elect Garry Gamble gave an overview of his understanding of MN Statute 351.14.

Cook County Curling Club
Bill Parish requested the Board grant approval to install 4 cameras and televisions in the Community Center for curling club fans to witness curling activities.  Parish reported that the equipment will be paid for by the Curling Club and removed during the off-season.  The Board approved 4-0 (Johnson absent).

Highway Department
The Board approved a request to purchase a Gang Charger for charging Armer handheld radios at a cost of $645.39 plus shipping.  Highway Department Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad and Highway Engineer David Betts both said the ARMER radios are working extremely well.

The Board approved the purchase of (2) 5.0 horsepower two stage air compressors for the Hovland and Schroeder shops to air tires and run air tools at a cost just under $4,000.  This equipment will be purchased from the Highway Department reserve account.

Information Systems
As requested by the County Board at its November 20, 2012 meeting, County IT Director Danna McKenzie and Mike Hatlestad of WDIO came before the Board with a plan to work with Verizon Wireless in the construction of a new tower, transfer of equipment from the old tower, and demolition of the old tower.  In short, the Board approved the recommended plan to transfer ownership of the existing WDIO tower to the County for the cost of $1.  This will allow the County to collect lease revenues of approximately $2000/month between now and when the tower is demolished.  These revenues will help the County offset the cost of demolishing the tower which is estimated at roughly $30,000.  Verizon will build the new tower to be owned by the County, an investment which will be offset by rent abatement to Verizon.

As recommended by the Land Records Committee, the Board authorized using $6800 of funds from the Land Records Improvement Funds to improve and streamline the assessment of properties and contribute to a more data-driven decision process for the County Assessor's Office.  This request was supported by Danna MacKenzie and Assessor Betty Schultz.  It is important to note that the Lands Records Improvement funds are collected by the Recorder's Office by statute.

Abatement Request
The Board denied a property tax abatement request from Dennis Rysdahl for the AmericInn of Tofte, and determined that the property was taxed correctly.  Recently, the Department of Revenue reviewed the class of the AmericInn and confirmed the commercial class at which it is presently assessed.

Gitchi Gami Trail Project
The Board approved a match of $1667 toward a $10,000 STAR Grant from the MN Lake Superior Coastal Program project to work toward finding an agreement to complete the Gitchi Gami Trail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais.  Partners in this project include MN DOT, the DNR, the Gitchi Gami Trail Association, Lake and Cook Counties.  Duane Lula, of the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, will be managing the project; Lula was present to make this request and answer questions.

Board Per Diem and Salary/Legal Newspaper
The Board set the 2013 per diems and salary for Cook County Commissioners at no change.  Commissioner Hakes requested that the Board review its policy on paying alternates to committees as a way to reduce costs.  

Thursday, January 3, at 2 pm was set as the deadline for qualified newspapers to submit proof of their qualifications and provide 2013 rates for publishing legal notices.  Contact Braidy Powers for more information.

Economic Development Authority (EDA)
EDA Board Chair Mark Sandbo and Nancy Grabko of Community Funding Solutions (CFS) and EDA Housing Administrator, came before the board to answer questions about the EDA Housing Program budget and performance. The County Board had several contract performance and financial related questions.  CFS has requested a $25,000 increase in pay.

Mark Sandbo and Mike Litfin also answered questions about the EDA Proposed Budget for 2013; two scenarios were offered by the EDA in the amounts of $188,000 (plus $60K bond payment from County) and $150,000 (plus $60K bond payment from County).  The difference between the two proposed budget scenarios is that one includes a full-time EDA Director at $60,000/year salary and the other includes a half-time Director at $30,000/year salary.

The County sets the Levy for the EDA, but the EDA Board is responsible for the budget and spending decisions.

In both 2013 Budget scenarios, the EDA has included:
a)  Additional ~$60,000 payment from the County to share with the City of Grand Marais the Cedar Grove Business Park annual bond payment of ~$120,000.  The County Board passed a resolution for this at its September 11, 2012 Board Meeting.
b)  $25,000 increase in pay for total of $62,000 paid to Community Funding Solutions for managing the EDA Housing Program.

The County Board will hold an additional Budget Meeting on Monday, December 17, from 10 am to Noon to finalize their 2013 Budget including the EDA Budget.

Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP)
George Wilkes of CCLEP came before the Board to request $4000 from the County to support a half-time position that pays $21,000 for a CCLEP Coordinator.  The balance of the salary would be shared by the City of Grand Marais ($2K), Lutheran Community Foundation ($2K), and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation ($13K).  The Board supported this request unanimously.  CCLEP has been involved in several energy efficiency projects that benefit the public including the 2010 Courthouse HVAC energy efficiency retrofit, the 2010 Grand Marais City building lighting retrofit, and support and advocacy for enhanced energy efficiency in both the Library expansion project and new Cook County Family YMCA design.

Courthouse Space Issues
For several reasons--including improving work efficiency and increased safety--the County Board formed a Space Subcommittee to review county space needs.   The Subcommittee has met with Department Heads to discuss space needs and possible space re-configurations at the Courthouse.  Commissioners Bruce Martinson and Sue Hakes presented the results of that work and the Board recommended moving forward with getting cost estimates for Phase I of the proposed reorganization.  In Phase I, (2) safe interview rooms will be created for use by Human Services and Probation in the area currently used as the Law Library.  Soil and Water will move from second floor to first floor into an area currently used by Planning & Zoning.  The Soil and Water Office on the 2nd floor will be divided to serve as the Law Library and as an office for a Social Worker.  No decisions were made regarding changes to the IT, Recorder, and Assessor Offices but will be reviewed in 2013.

County Attorney Office
The County Board passed a motion authorizing the County to contract for additional attorney services as needed by the County Attorney's Office, County Departments and the Board due to temporary increased workloads, subject to review by County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Board Chair Janice Hall.

Courthouse Security
The Board held a closed session to discuss county security issues and review the security recommendations made by the Courthouse Security Committee.  After the closed session, the meeting was re-opened and the Board passed a motion directing the Courthouse Security Committee to move forward on the following recommendations:

a.  Comprehensive Weapons Screening for building users
b.  Security Cameras
c.  Duress Buttons
d.  Enhanced Courtroom Security
e.  Safety Training for County employees
f.  Intercom/P.A. System
g.  Human Services/Probation Interview Room Enhancements

Tom Lake Area Subordinate Governmental Service District (SGSD)
Two property owners in the proposed Tom Lake Area SGSD came before the Board to express concerns about the costs and their opposition to it.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the Official Meeting Minutes for December 11, 2012 will be made available on the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602.  A video of this meeting is available at Boreal.TV

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Human Services and Cook County Board Meetings for November 20, 2012

Cook County Human Services Board
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes called the meeting to order.  Also present were Board members Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja, Jan Hall and Bruce Martinson.  Fritz Sobanja joined the meeting at 9:00 am.  Jim Johnson was absent.  Also present were Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, and Janet Simonen, Personnel Director/Board Secretary.

Committee Reports
Board Members reported on the various committees upon which they serve.  If you are interested in learning more about any of these Committees, please contact me or the County Representatives noted below:

Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency - Sue Hakes
Arrowhead Health Alliance - Sue Hakes
Arrowhead Regional Corrections - Jan Hall or Fritz Sobanja
Community Health Board - Jan Hall
Public Health & Human Services Advisory Board - Carla LaPointe or Jerry Lilja
Health Care Planning Committee - Jim Johnson or Bruce Martinson
North Shore Collaborative - Sue Hakes

Presentation:  Persons with Development Disabilities, Linda Waterhouse
Social Worker Linda Waterhouse gave the Board an excellent overview of her work as a Social Worker for adults and children with development disabilities.  This includes adults and children with developmental disabilities, Adult Mental Health with diagnosis major depression, and Children's Mental Health with diagnosis severe emotional disability.  Waterhouse serves clients in Cook County, as well as clients in Ramsey, Hennepin, and Becker counties with a goal to see out of county clients at least every 3 months.  

Currently Waterhouse serves 24 clients with needs varying from in-home support and respite care to living in a Care Center and out-of-home placement.  Fortunately, funding in this area allows a fair amount of discretion on the part of Cook County, which enables Waterhouse to better meet the specific needs of her diverse clientel.

Linda said she "loves doing this job" and has been doing it since 2001.  Thanks, Linda!

Director's Report
PHHS Director Sue Futterer and Income Maintenance Supervisor Jan Parish gave the monthly budget review with nothing extraordinary to report.

Futterer also gave an update on the Region 3 Redesign work being done in the area of Child Support.  At the last meeting, the directors were given a demo of Vidyo (like high-quality Skype) and of document management being done in Carver and Anoka Counties.

Futterer also reviewed the "Steering Committee on Performance and Outcome Reforms" Final Report to be delivered to Governor Dayton and the Legislature on January 15, 2013.  This work has been in progress since 2009 with the mandate to establish and review performance and outcomes standards for all essential human services based on the current level of resources available, and to develop appropriate reporting measures and a uniform accountability process for responding to a county's or services delivery authority's failure to make adequate progress on achieving performance measures.  

Futterer and Parish explained the evolving hiring needs for PHHS due to recent resignations of staff.  The Board approved hiring Sheila Wieben as an Eligibility Worker/Account Tech; they also supported moving Sandy Petty to a Lead Financial Worker position.

The Board approved the re-appointment of Frances Jarchow, Diane Pearson, and Patty Nordahl to the PHHS Advisory Committee for 3 year terms expiring on 12/30/2015.

County Board Meeting
Board Chair Janice Hall called the meeting to order.  Also present were Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja, County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.   Commissioner Johnson was absent.  

Communication Tower 
Danna MacKenzie came before the Board to with a request for the Board to sign contracts with Grand Portage and New Cingular Wireless for the leasing of land and the tower as requested by Grand Portage Tribal Council.  The Board approved this request.

MacKenzie also came before the Board with a request to authorize proceeding with negotiations with Buell Consulting/Verizon for the construction of a new communications tower at 333 Old Ski Hill Road.  Also present for this discussion was Mike Hatlestad, WDIO engineer.  WDIO owns the existing tower in this location, which has become obsolete and needs replacement. MacKenzie and Hatlestad will work together on details for transferring equipment, demolishing the existing tower and working with Verizon and report back to the County Board.

Superior National Golf Course
The Board approved a $225,000 operating loan for Superior National Golf Course for one year at 1% interest per the County Interagency Loan Policy.

The Board made a motion for Braidy Powers to work with bond counsel attorney Bob Toftey and Superior National Golf Course Manager Bob Fenwick to draft an agreement for the use of 1% sales tax to fund improvements at Superior National Golf Course.  The Board required that this agreement make funding subject to written commitment of $600,000 IRRB funding, and appropriate administrative language outlining the authorization process for funding the project.

Violence Prevention Funding Request
The County Board authorized a letter drafted by Commissioner Hakes from the County Board to Senator Tom Bakk and Representative David Dill asking them to continue funding so critically needed in Cook County for the Violence Prevention Center, Cook County Crime Victims Services and the Domestic Violence Advocate in Grand Portage.  

Hovland Playground
The County Board authorized up to $25,000 for a playground to be built in Hovland.  This will be funded by  Recreational Funding from the sale of tax forfeit land.

Cook County Family YMCA
The County Board authorized Bid Package 2 awards to low bidders for general demolition, footings and foundation, fire protection demolition, mechanical & electrical demolition and excavation in the amount of $949,786.  ORB will use best efforts through Value Engineering to reduce that amount by at least $70,000. 

Security Drill
A drill of the newly revised Cook County Lockdown policy will be conducted on Thursday, November 29th from 8:00 am to 9:00.  The building will be closed to business during that one hour time frame.

Meeting Minutes
A complete copy of meeting minutes for these meetings is available by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3602 or by going to the County's website.  A video of the entire County Board meeting is available by going to Boreal.TV.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

County Board Meeting Nov. 13: Tom Lake Subordinate Government Service District, Superior National Golf Course Funding, YMCA Management Agreement Signed

County Board Chair, Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to come before the county board.

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Staffing
Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, recommended the Board approve (2) hires in Human Services.  The Board approved hiring Jared Scheel and Beth Farone to replace staff that resigned; both will begin on December 1.

Assessor/Land Commissioner
Newly hired Assessor Betty Schultz came before the County Board today and was re-introduced.  Schultz expressed appreciation for being able to live in Cook County and promised always to advocate for Cook County.

The Board approved a tax abatement as presented by Schultz and based on information provided by the taxpayer, US Forest Service, and MN Department of Revenue for Sawbill Lake Campground.

Community Center/Extension 
The Board gave approval for the AEOA Office to be moved to the existing Community Center with accomodations made for classroom space and a separate office.  The ~$600 cost will be split evenly between AEOA and the County.

The Board authorized Diane Booth to proceed with the wetland mitigation process for the area designated for a new softball field planned to be built as part of the new Community Center outdoor area.  Booth will come back to the Board for approval before signing off for the purchase of wetland replacements.

In lieu of renovating the existing Community Center as a warming house, the Board approved (2) buildings to be erected on the existing Community Center grounds:  1) A 19' x 16' equipment building attached to the east end of the existing Community Center  to house the Zamboni, hoses, and snow blowing equipment for the outdoor ice rinks. 2) A 24' x 36' warming house to be built just north of the skating and hockey rinks.

The Cook County Amateur Hockey Association has offered to pay for both buildings at a cost of  $14,500 and $14,800 respectively.  The County Board agreed that up to $50,000 will be provided out of the $9.5 M One Percent funds to insulate, wire and finish the interior of these buildings.  ORB Management will oversee the building and finishing of these buildings.

Diane Booth and Pat Campanaro worked together to submit a grant request for the Local Government Innovation Awards hosted by the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Partnership with Incommons. The proposal, 1 + 1 + 1 + Y = Cook County Community Wellness,  features the partnership between the County, City, ISD166 and the YMCA to consolidate wellness services for Cook County.  If successful, $25,000 could be awarded to put toward the project. Winners will be determined by Minnesotans voting!  Be sure to cast your vote for this project!

Diane Booth asked the Board about submitting a grant to build a permeable pavement parking lot between the baseball field and the tennis courts.  The Board opted not to pursue this as even with grant support, this would add cost to the Cook County Family YMCA project.  Additionally, the gravel parking space planned is also permeable and easier to maintain/plow than permeable pavement.

Office of Planning and Zoning 
On behalf of the Ulland Brothers and Scott Harrison, Bill Lane requested an extension of the previously granted Interim Use Permit to use a 20-acre parcel of land at the intersection of TH61 and CSAH 5 to recycle and stockpile blast rock from the trail project.  The Board approved an extension to allow the stockpile to remain on site until it can be used in May/June 2013.

Approximately 15-20 property owners interested in learning more about establishing a Subordinate Governmental Service District (SGSD) for Irish Creek, Tom Lake and Powers Lake Road came to the Public Hearing regarding the matter.  Most were in strong favor of establishing the SGSD, 1-2 were not opposed, but wanted more information about costs.  After significant discussion, the Board passed a motion to move forward in the establishment of an SGDS for Irish Creek Road, Powers Lake Road, Tom Lake Road, Wilderness Trail and approximately 1100 feet of Brumbaugh Road from Tom Lake Road to the Tom Lake Boat Landing.  The Board also defined the District as all parcels, regardless of year round use, that abut the proposed roadways, as well as those parcels that directly access the roadways.  This will affect an estimated 69 property owners for the cost to be shared evenly.

Cook County Highway Department
County Engineer David Betts, supported by Supervisor Russell Klegstad and Accountant Lisa Sorlie, provided the Board with an overview of their 3rd Quarter Financial Statement and Revised 2013 Budget.  This information will be considered in finalizing the 2013 Budget.

The Board approved the Master Partnership Contract between the Department of Transportation and Cook County.  The Board also approved a Special Event Permit for the Grand Marais Christmas Parade to be held on November 23 from 5:00 to 5:30 pm.

Superior National Golf Course Project
EDA Director Mark Sandbo, Superior National Golf Course Manager Bob Fenwick, John Waite of Sirius Golf Advisors, and Golf Course Architect Jeffrey Brauer all came before the County Board to present a new proposal and financing plan for Superior National Golf Course.  Several members of the Public and West End Business Community were also present for the discussion.

John Waite overviewed the project, Bob Fenwick presented the financial plan:

                              County                       $3,100,000 ($344,000 already spent)
                              IRRB                                600,000 (not granted yet)
                              Revenue Bonds          1,100,000 (plus $400K payoff of bonds)
                              Developer                          60,000 (road construction)
                              TOTAL                         $4,860,000

After a fairly lengthy discussion, the Board passed a motion on a 3-2 vote (Hakes and Hall opposed) to authorize an additional $2,700,000 for this project.  Commissioner Hakes said she voted against it because a) it was a significantly different plan and dollar amount than the project put forward at the time the public voted for the One Percent Sales Tax Referendum, b) discomfort with taking on additional debt through bonding which was not a part of the original proposal. The revenue bonds to be sold could have a negative impact on taxpayers without any financial commitment behind them, c) the Project was unable to provide a 50% match from the local business community, IRRB and DEED as earlier assured by the Project, d) the current plan deviates greatly from the earlier recommendations by Sirius Golf Advisors to hire outside management for the course, e) concern about reality of revenue projections and number of rounds.  Commissioner Hakes said she would support a project at a lesser dollar amount and less risk to taxpayers, something closer to the project proposed at the time of the referendum.

Miscellaneous Issues
The Board voted to support (2) recommendations from the Revolving Loan Committee.  The first is to write off a loan with a past due balance and take possession of the powder coating equipment property.  The second is to restructure the terms of a loan from a local restaurant.

The Board moved to approve an "Agreement to Initiate" as presented by Patty Deshaw who works for the Forest Service and is managing the land exchange with the County.  This agreement allows each paty to enter lands of the other to prepare land value appraisals, surveys, inventories of wildlife and wetlands to determine values and merits of the exchange.  This agreement does not obligate either party to continue the land exchange.

In response to the County Board's interest in election judges, Braidy Powers provided eligibility and qualification requirements to become an election judge.

In response to a question from Commissioner Martinson, Braidy Powers reported that he anticipates receipt of the Property Appraisal for the Tip of the Trail property any day.

Cook County Family YMCA
The Board approved several final documents for the Cook County Family YMCA including the Purchase Agreement and all addenda, the Joint Powers Agreement with the City of Grand Marais and the YMCA Management Agreement.

Chris Francis, Executive Director of the Duluth YMCA, as well as the Duluth HR Director were present for today's signing of the YMCA Management Agreement with the County.  Francis expressed his enthusiasm and optimism for the Cook County Family YMCA.  Signing this agreement was a significant event for both the YMCA and the residents of Cook County.

Meeting Minutes
A video of today's meeting is available on Boreal.TV.  Official meeting minutes may be obtained by calling Janet Simonen at 218 387 3602 or by going to the County Website.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

County Board of Commissioners Special Meeting: Community Center Documents

Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissiners Sue Hakes, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present at today's County Board of Commissioner's Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Office of Planning & Zoning (OPZ)
The County Board authorized the purchase of (1) Bell Can Separator, (1) Miller Glass Breaker, and (1) Green Mobile Recycling Trailer for a total of $36,318. These items are in the 2012 and 2013 OPZ Budget.

Information Systems
The County Board authorized the purchase of (9) desktop PCs, (3) laptop/mobiles, and (3) monitors for a total of $10,200 as part of the County's annual PC maintenance schedule.  Machines being replaced are 5 years old and will be repositioned to lower-level tasks within the county network.

Veteran Services
The Board approved a County Veteran Services Office grant in the amount of $2,298 for the transportation of veterans needing access to medical facilities.

Election Judges
Six election judges were appointed by the Board as recommended by Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers. Each of them is an eligible Cook County voter and has completed certification training.

Construction Change Order
A change order in the amount of $13,602 was authorized to be paid to Crawford Excavating for a) additional jack hammering and removal of ledge rock at the hockey rink, and b) removal of unsuitable material and hauling in clean material.  It was noted that changes such as this are paid for from the construction reserve account.

Secure Rural Schools Funding
Secure Rural Schools Funding was reauthorized for FY 2012, for one year. Braidy Powers reported that instead of receiving 95% of the funding amount received in 2011, Cook County will be receiving only 72% of that amount.  This results in a reduction from an anticipated $602,000 to $435,000.  43% of this funding is allocated to the Highway Department.

Legal Documents for the Cook County Family YMCA
The County Board reviewed several documents that are being finalized for the Cook County Family YMCA project.  Attorney Baiers Heeren, Swanson and Heeren Law Firm, has been working on behalf of the County and was present to answer questions.

The Purchase Agreement between the County and ISD166 has been reviewed by the attorneys representing both the County and ISD166.  After a final review by the County Board, a motion was passed to approve the Purchase Agreement and authorize it be signed by Board Chair Janice Hall and Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers.

Heeren also presented the most current draft of the the Joint Powers Agreement between Cook County and the City of Grand Marais for sharing costs of the Cook County Family YMCA.  The City Council will be reviewing this document at its City Council Meeting on October 31.

Security Training
Janet Simonen reported that the Courthouse Security and Safety Committees are working to schedule a lock down drill at the Courthouse.  It is likely that the Courthouse will be closed for this event to allow an exercise to practice sweep the building and debriefing.  Janet Simonen will advise the plan and the date.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

County Board Meeting 10/23/12: Bonding, Budget, Tom Bakk & David Dill Visit

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Sue Hakes, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Jim Johnson was absent.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director Janet Simonen

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

Peace Scarf Gift
The County Board was given a very special gift today from the Scarves of Peace project.  In her gift letter, Founder Karen Lohn shared this, "The scarf was braided by many hands, using strands blessed with peaceful intentions, contributed by diverse peoples from six continents.  May you enjoy its beauty and unity of spirit, or regift to encircle another with warm wishes for peace and harmony."  The County Board was really touched by this gesture and is planning to hang the scarf in a place of prominence in the County Board Room.

Multi-tenant Wireless Tower in Schroeder
The County Board agreed with the recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve a Conditional Use Permit allowing Allete, Inc., MN Towers, and AT&T to erect a 195-foot, multi-tenant communication facility on property owned by Allete and adjacent to Highway 61 in Schroeder. The parcel is contained within the Heavy Industrial zone district.

Highway Department
The County Board approved a capital purchase request from Maintenance Supervisor for a wheel puller for $1795.50.  This tool will be used to remove rims in a secure manner.

Curling Club Lease Agreement
The County Board approved a lease agreement with the Cook County Curling Club for use of specified areas of the Cook County Community Center for Curling and related activities.  The lease  term begins October 15, 2012 and ends on March 31, 2013.   The Curling Club will pay $2500/month.

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, Miscellaneous Items
The County Board voted to approve a grant contract between the State of MN through its Commissioner of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for $1,727,437.50 for waterfront and low water sprinkler installation.  A match of $575,812.50 will be paid by the homeowners receiving the systems.

The County Board voted to accept an Emergency Management Performance Grant for 2012 in the amount of $15,481.00 as presented via Powers from Emergency Management Director Jim Wiinanen.

The Board gratefully accepted a donation to Search & Rescue from a Hovland resident for a successful rescue effort to find his wife.

The County Board approved several liquor license renewal applications, all subject to approval from the Sheriff, town board, liquor liability insurance, worker's compensation compliance, and compliance with local and state ordinances governing liquor licensing.  The Board also approved several cigarette applications for license renewal.

The Board Meeting was closed to discuss non-public health data of a county employee.

Sheriff Mark Falk, Law Enforcement
The County Board approved a request fro Sheriff Mark Falk to hire Chuck Anderson as a Deputy to begin work November 1, 2012.

ATV Ordinance Discussion
The County Board voted to schedule a Public Hearing for February 26, 2013 at 10:30 to consider making Cook County ATV Ordinance #54 permanent.  The current Ordinance is set to expire on July 1, 2013.  On 10/9/2012, Sheriff Falk reported from Law Enforcement, the DNR, and the Highway Department that there were no citations reported in 2011 and just one citation reported in 2012.

Emergency Management Handbook for Government Officials
Emergency Services Director, Jim Wiinanen, requested a worksession of the County Board to review the "Emergency Management Handbook for Government Officials".  The Board agreed this was a good idea and it will be scheduled for early 2013 to include the new commissioner(s).

One Percent Sales Tax Projects
Commissioner Hakes and Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers requested a Special Meeting of the County Board to discuss the legal contracts for the Community Center.  This Special Meeting will be held October 30 at 1:00 pm in the Commissioner's Room.

Capital Equipment Notes and Taxable Sales Tax Revenue Bonds
Vice President and Financial Advisor, Bruce Kimmel of Ehlers Financial presented a financial summary for the County to set two sales for November 27, 2012.

The first sale will be capital notes for the purchase of capital equipment for the purchase of capital equipment for public safety equipment, road construction and maintenance equipment, and for ARMER equipment in the amount of $2,175,000.

The second sale will be taxable general obligation sales tax revenue bonds in the amount of $9,660,000 for the construction of the Cook County Community Center to be managed by the YMCA as the Cook County Family YMCA.

Kimmel also presented the current "Sales Tax Project Spending and Financing Plan" for all of the One Percent Sales Tax Projects.  Current sales tax collections and interest rates are favorable.

(Lunch Break Noon to 1:00 PM)

Review of 2013 Cook County Preliminary Budget and Funding Requests
The Board discussed the 2013 Budget; the preliminary levy was set for 5.76% and the Board is working to reduce that to 2-3%.   The discussion resulted in some reduction of the levy due to increased revenues in Planning & Zoning and a projected reduction in the cost of the Taylor Lane road project.  Also considered were reductions/postponements of Highway Department capital equipment, proceeds from the sale of tax forfeit property, and use of the County's fund balance.

As part of their budget discussion, the Board also talked about the EDA's request of $200,000, an increase of ~$51,000 from their 2012 levy.  At yesterday's joint County/City/EDA Meeting the County expressed concerns about the EDA's lack of clear direction and planning.  The EDA agreed, noting that they are in a period of defining their goals & objectives and waiting for information and direction from the GO Cook County work currently underway to identify the needs of small business and non-profits throughout the County.  The County Board expressed concern about the requested increase in salary for Community Funding Solutions and the lack of having an EDA Director in place.

Discussion of County/State Issues with Senator Tom Bakk and Representative David Dill
The County Board welcomed Senator Bakk and Representative Dill to their meeting to discuss issues involving Cook County and the State Legislature.  Topics discussed included funding for Veteran's Services, the Violence Prevention Center and Victims Advocacy  Other issues discussed were Legacy Funding, Airport Runway Funding, elimination of Sales Tax for ARMER, costs of elections if Voter ID passes, Public Health and Human Services streamlining and equipment, and tax classifications of commercial businesses downtown Grand Marais.

It was good to get Cook County issues before these legislators.

Meeting Minutes
For a copy of meeting minutes from this meeting, call or email Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602 or janet.simonen@co.cook.mn.us.  You may also get a copy by going to the County Website.   You may also view the meeting in its entirety at Boreal.TV.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings on October 16, 2012

Human Services Board Meeting

Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes, along with Commissioners Jan Hall, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the 10/16/2012 Board Meeting.  Carla LaPointe and Jerry Lilja had excused absences.  Also present was Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, and Janet Simonen, Personnel Director.

Committee Reports
Arrowhead Regional Corrections--Comissioners Hall and Sobanja reported that Cook County will host the ARC Board on Friday, 10/19/12.
Community Health Board--Commissioner Hall reported that the Community Health Board will be conducting a local Community Health Assessment and Planning session in Cook County on 10/22/12.
Health Care Planning Committee--Commissioner Johnson reported that the Hospital is working on plans to improve their facility.  He also reported that a study has been funded to study mercury levels in Cook County, which are high.
North Shore Collaborative--At its last meeting, the NSC held a facilitated planning session to revisit its Mission, Goals and Structure.  At this meeting a Ways & Means Committee was formed. The Collaborative will continue to work to position itself for effectiveness.

Child Support Report
Child Support Officer, Wendy Danielson, gave the HS Board an overview of the services she provides in the Child Support Program for Cook County.  In her job, Danielson helps parents establish paternity and financial child support for the parents with physical custody.  She currently has 218 open cases.

Danielson's work can get complex; she collaborates with county attorneys, human services staff, out-of-state child support agencies, private attorneys, magistrates, judges, court administration, state staff, law enforcement and probation.  And, her performance is closely measured in (5) categories:  1) paternity establishment, 2) support establishment, 3) current collections, 4) arrears collections, and 5) cost effectiveness (ratio of dollars spent to dollars collected).

Cook County's continued high performance is important to Danielson; she works closely with Sue Futterer to continue to maintain high scores.  Danielson says to achieve success in her job its important that she stay trained to keep up her expertise.

Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor, Jan Parish, augmented Wendy Danielson's report with some financial information about the Child Support Program.  She further explained the expenditures, revenues and incentive revenues in this program.

Parish also gave the Board an overview of the September 30, 2012 PHHS Budget. Generally speaking, the Department is on plan for this time of year.

Director's Report
PHHS Director, Sue Futterer, reported that several candidates have taken the tests necessary to apply for the open social worker and financial worker positions in PHHS.

Futterer was extremely pleased to share Governor Mark Dayton's recognition of Financial Workers and Case Aides and the important, complex work that they do.  An Official Proclamation signed by the Governor will be framed and hung in the PHHS Department.  This recognition was well deserved!

In other good news, Futterer reported that Minnesota will be receiving $1.2 Million for improvements to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) also known as Food Support.  Approximately 75% of this funding will be distributed to counties.  Click here if you need information about getting Food Support.

Sue Futterer gave the Board a high-level overview on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion and its impact to Minnesota and Cook County.

Futterer also announced the resignation of Social Worker Hilja Iverson which the Board accepted with regrets.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the 10/16/12 Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Winter Maintenance for Subordinate Government Service District Roads
The County Board approved snowplowing bids for Evergreen Road, Mile O'Pine Road, Voyageur's Point and West Rosebush Lane with all awards going to the low bidder.

A Public Hearing was held to consider making changes to the Cook County Fee Schedule for E911 signs and E911 sign posts.  The change to these fees was approved by the Board.

Exterior Courthouse Lighting
The Board authorized purchase and installation of (2) light poles along the north sidewalk at the Courthouse as presented by Maintenance Director Brian Silence at a cost of $4838.  These lights are being installed as a safety measure.

Proposed Wind Tower Ordinance Amendments
Office of Planning and Zoning Director, Tim Nelson, presented a copy of a proposed ordinance amendment to the wind tower portion of the Cook County Tower Facility Ordinance.  The proposed amendment addresses Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT).  The County Board voted to approve a Public Hearing for this matter to be held before the Planning Commission on November 14, 2012 at a time to be determined by the Planning Commission.

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, Miscellaneous Items
The Board accepted a donation of $55 to the Sherrif's Department and a power washer to Search & Rescue.  The donation was given in appreciation of Search & Rescue finding missing canoeists on Brule Lake.

Braidy Powers led the County Board through a 3rd Quarter Review of the General Fund Budget.  After adjustments for grants, the Net Actual Total is 63% of the Budgeted Total with 75% of the year completed.

The County Board set 10/23/12 from 1-3:00 to review the 2013 Budget as part of the regularly scheduled County Board Meeting.

One Percent Project Updates
Commissioner Hakes reported that legal documents between the County, City of Grand Marais, ISD166 and the YMCA are being finalized.

Other Meetings
Bruce Martinson reminded the Board of the Joint County and City of Grand Marais meeting with the EDA on Monday 10/22/12 at 3:00 pm at City Hall.

MN Senator Tom Bakk will be in attendance at the 10/23/12 Board Meeting.  The County Board identified several priority issues to discuss with Senator Bakk including:  Parks & Trails Legacy Funding, Cook County Airport runway extension safety issue, Veterans Services, Sales Tax on ARMER, costs associated with Voter ID if it passes, restoration to Violence Prevention funding.

Voter ID
The County Board voted unanimously to oppose the proposed Voter ID amendment.  This was a business decision made on the part of the County Board because of the unknown implementation costs.  The proposed Voter ID amendment language is vague and there is no clear understanding of how it will be implemented or what the costs will be.

Meeting Minutes
For complete minutes of the County Board Meetings contact Janet Simonen at 387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.  The meeting may also be viewed in its entirety at Boreal.TV.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Board Meeting 10/9/12: ATVs, Community Center Agreements, Courthouse Security

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the 10/9/12 County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Subordinate Service District Request
Tom Lake residents Steve Sopata and John Muhich came before the Board to request consideration for creation of a Subordinate Service District to snowplow on Irish Creek, Tom Lake and Powers Lake roads.  Sopata and Muhich reported an estimated 20 property owners have signed a petition in support of this request.  The County Board voted unanimously to schedule a Public Hearing on this matter.

Highway Department
The County board welcomed  recently hired Assistant County Engineer Sam Muntean after he was introduced by County Engineer David Betts.

The County Board voted to approve the final payment on project CP 12-02 Furnish Aggregate Stockpile, Class 1 and Class 5, to Edwin E. Thoreson in the amount of $31,622.13.  The overage of $7209.78 was due to slight variances in crushing totals at the various pits and to the crushing of 1,000 additional cubic yards for multiple maintenance projects.

The Board authorized a capital purchase of $2914.64 for office furniture for Assistant Engineer Sam Muntean.

Cook County Ordinance #54 Review
Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk presented the Annual Report from the Sheriff's Office, Highway Department, and DNR on ATV Use in Cook County.  Sheriff Falk reported that no citations were issued in 2011 and just one citation has been issued to date in 2012.  The Sheriff also noted that according to Cook County Conservation Officers, fewer wetland violations are occurring since the permission to ride ATVs on the shoulders of most County Roads was granted with this Ordinance.

Ordinance #54 shall expire of its own accord 3 years after the effective date of July 1, 2010, but the County Board could delete the expiration language from the Ordinance.  The Board agreed to put this discussion on the agenda for a future meeting, including the possibility of scheduling a Public Hearing.

Cook County All-Hazard Mitigation Plan
The Board authorized an Amendment to the County's All-Hazard Mitigation Plan as proposed by Emergency Manager Jim Wiinanen.   The changes in this amendment will allow Cook County to propose projects to include a community safe room, improved GIS capability for wildfire mitigation and response, protection of ground and surface water supplies, and burial of utilities lines and redundant communications infrastructure.

Snowplow Bids
The County Board moved to award the 2012-2013 winter season snow removal bid to low bidder Concrete Design and Landscaping as recommended by Maintenance Director Brian Silence.

County Auditor-Treasurer Business
The Board approved the Report of Unclaimed Property for a total of $198.71.

The Board passed a resolution to accept State of MN Agreement No. 02050 entitled "Grant Agreement for Airport Excluding Land Acquisition" for the Airport Runway Pavement Rehabilitation Program.

Cook County Revolving Loan Fund Requests
As recommended by the County Revolving Loan Committee, several requests for funding were approved with little need for discussion including:  LeAnn Zunker of 1010 Interiors ($5,000), Jennifer Stoltz of Cook County Coop ($75,000), Shawn Maravigli for lawn maintenance business ($10,650), and Charles Skinner of Lutsen Mountains Corp for snow making equipment ($25,000).

Represented by Tom Ryder, Charles Skinner of Lutsen Mountain Corp also requested $49,000 to purchase ~5-acres adjacent to the Lutsen Mountains parking lot from George Nelson.  This loan was approved with the assurance that this loan approval was not contingent upon, nor a demonstration of support for, the EDA to purchase 4-acres from Lutsen Mountain.

Matt Geretschlaeger presented a revised funding request for his company Superior Zip Line, LLC, to build a zip line operation on the Gunflint Trail. Geretschlaeger reduced the size of his originally proposed project by downsizing the building and reducing the total project request from $929,300 to $825,000.  He also reported that he was unable to retain bank financing.  As a result, Geretschlaeger is restructuring his finance plan in part by increasing his request from IRRB by $100,000 to $350,000.  The amount requested from the County Revolving Loan fund remains the same at $250,000 with security for this loan provided by land owned by Geretschlaeger.  This request was approved by the County Board on a 4-1 vote with Sue Hakes opposed.  Hakes felt the land proposed as security wasn't enough and that the business plan didn't support the debt.

Grand Marais Public Library 
Librarian Linda Chappell reported to the Board that the public is enjoying the new building and programs being offered in the expanded library space.  She also expressed the gratitude of the Library Board to the County for their help.

Chappell submitted landscaping bills totaling $9,395.06 which were approved for payment from the 1% tax as originally budgeted for the Library Project.  The County Board also approved the ~$53,600 remaining to finish the north wall and purchase furniture

Community Center Contracts
The County Board approved several documents related to the Community Center Project as presented by County Attorney Tim Scannell and Attorney Baiers Hereen:
a)  Draft Management Agreement between Cook County and the YMCA
b) Draft Joint Powers Agreement between the City and the County regarding cost-sharing for the facility
c) Draft Purchase Agreement with Contingencies for the West End of ISD166.

Each of these agreements has been agreed to in principal by the parties involved (Grand Marais City Council, ISD#166 School Board and Cook County Board of Commissioners) and are being routed for final changes and attorney reviews.

Arrowhead Health Alliance
The Board approved the Arrowhead Health Alliance 2nd Amended Joint Powers Agreement for Health Care Services to include St. Louis County in this alliance.

The County Board held a closed session with Steven Swenson of CJES to receive his Security Report and discuss Security Plans for Cook County.

The Board held a closed session to discuss non-public health data of a county employee.

Meeting Minutes
Official Meetings Minutes of the County Board may be obtained by calling Janet Simonen at 218-387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 25 County Board Meeting and County/School Negotiations

 County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the September 25 Board Meeting. Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Law Enforcement, Sheriff Mark Falk
At the request of Sheriff Falk, the Board passed a motion to approve the State of MN Communications Use Agreement with Cook County for use of antenna space on the Hovland Tower.  The State of MN wants to use the Hovland Tower as an ARMER site which will improve ARMER coverage as well as overall communications coverage in Hovland.  This improved communication is critically important to the Hovland Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders.  Mn/DOT will pay to install electric power from the Arrowhead Trail to the tower.  The County is working with Arrowhead Electric and property owners along the Tower Road to get easement agreements in place.

At the 10/9 County Board Meeting Sheriff Falk will present the annual report on ATV use as requested by the County Board per Cook County Ordinance #54 Class 1 ATV Use on County Roads.  Included in the report will be input from the Highway Department and the DNR. The Board will also discuss extension of the ordinance.

The Board approved the purchase of a Horn/Strobe with a blue lens for the Law Enforcement Center; this device will be tripped from the existing Duress system. The Board also approved the purchase and installation of a 3-ton air conditioning system for the server room at the Law Enforcement Center. Maintenance Director Brian Silence is working on these purchase and installations.

Highway Department
The FCC requires narrowband compliant radio communication effective January 1, 2013.  The Board authorized $103,658 plus tax and installation for the purchase of the required radios and base station units for the Highway Department.  State bid pricing shows Motorola to be the most competitively priced.

The Board approved a work order for the Highway Department to provide winter maintenance on the Rollins Creek Road for a lump sum of $3,000 to be paid by Mn/DOT.

The Board approved the hiring recommendation from Highway Engineer David Betts to fill the open Highway Department Clerk position.

Interim Use Permit
The Board approved an Interim Use Permit for Ulland Brothers as recommended by the Planning Commission allowing the stockpiling and crushing of gravel on property adjacent to Cook County Road 5, subject to restrictions on volume, crushing times and dates, noise and dust supression. Ulland Brothers was the successful bidder on completion of a 1.6 mile portion of the DNR Gitchi Gammi Trail Project connecting Cook County Road 34 and the Ski Hill Road.

Legacy Trails Grant Application for Mountain Bike Trail System
The Board passed a resolution in support of the grant application made to the MN DNR for the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program to complete the construction of a single-track mountain bike trail system in the Pincushion Rec Area and at the Britton Peak Trailhead.

Cook County Family YMCA
The County Board approved the name Cook County Family YMCA as the name of the Community Center to be built with 1 % Sales Tax Funding.

Wade Cole, ORB Management, provided the Board with the Project Payment Status of each of the 1% Sales Tax projects.  The Board discussed the funds spent to date, funds allocated and authorizations to be determined.

Commissioner Hakes updated the Board on the September 18 negotiations between representatives for the County (Hakes and F. Sobanja) and ISD166 (Leonard Sobanja, Jeanne Anderson, Beth Schwarz). The Board authorized $160,000 for the purchase of the west end of the ISD166 School Building including lease of the land.  The west end will be renovated for the Cook County Family YMCA.  The next negotiation is scheduled for later in the day September 25.

The Board approved the concrete bid for the Community Center skating rink in the amount of $117,590 to K. Johnson Construction.  This brings the total hard construction cost for Bid Package 1 (demolition of silo, concrete building, tunnel and construction of skating rink with lights) to $346,031.39, including the Value Engineering reduction from Becker Arena Products for $30,053.61. The Community Center Steering Committee and ORB Management worked with the Hockey Association to ensure the needs of hockey players and skaters are being met.

The Board approved applying for (2) grants being worked on by Jim Wiinanen in Emergency Services, Diane Booth Community Center, and Wade Cole of ORB Management.  Grants will be submitted for assistance in demolition of the extreme west end of the School and for building a safe room as part of the Cook County Family YMCA.

Wade Cole introduced Mark Kragenbring of ORB Management.  Kragenbring will be the Project Manager for the construction of the YMCA and explained the process for moving through the construction phase.  Weekly meetings will be held with a small team of representatives from the County, City of Grand Marais, ISD166, and the YMCA.  A process is being established to deal with the day-to-day business of construction as well as any problems that may arise.

The Board gave its approval to bid Phase II of the Cook County Family YMCA which will include demolition, some interior demolition and foundation work.  No construction awards will be granted until formal agreements are in place between the County and the YMCA, City of Grand Marais, and ISD166.

The County voted to support Dorie Carlson's Middle School class with $400 for a field trip to see homes affected by the Ham Lake fire, and learn about ways to reduce the risk of wildfires.  This was supported by the Firewise Program.

The Board approved Quit Claim Deeds to complete the survey work clearing up a small discrepancy along property owned by the County near the Hovland Dock.

The Board authorized Janet Simonen to extend an offer of employment to fill the County Assessor's position vacated by Mary Black.

Cook County and ISD166 Property Negotiations
In a meeting separate from the County Board meeting, Commissioners Fritz Sobanja and Sue Hakes met with School Board Members Leonard Sobanja and Jeanne Anderson and Superintendent Beth Schwarz.  Diane Booth, Community Center Director, was also in attendance on behalf of the County.  This team of negotiators reached consensus for the purchase of the west end of ISD166 and lease of the land underneath and to the southwesterly.  The terms of this agreement will need to be approved by both the School Board and the County Board.  The agreement made is as follows:

1.  Sale Price of building is $160,000.
2.  99-year land lease for $1/year.

These values are consistent with the appraisal done by Cole Appraisal for the County and John Vigen's review of that appraisal on behalf of the School Board.

3. Revenues from the DNR lease with ISD166 will be paid to the School until the DNR moves out of the building, even if ownership has transferred to the County.

4. The School will be responsible for heating and cleaning the DNR rented space throughout the length of the lease, even if ownership has transferred to the County.

5.  The School will use Health and Safety funds to remove asbestos flooring from the gymnasium.

Meeting Minutes
Complete meeting minutes of the County Board meeting are available by calling Janet Simonen at 387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.  Video of the County Board meeting is also available on Boreal.TV.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Human Services, County Board and City/County Negotiation Meetings on September 18, 2012

Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes along with Board Members Jim Johnson, Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's HS Board Meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer, Jan Parish, Grace Bushard, Anna Sandstrom and Janet Simonen.  Jan Hall joined the meeting 9:50.

Committee Reports
Report updates were provided by those serving on Arrowhead Health Alliance, Arrowhead Regional  Corrections, Community Health Board, Public Health & Human Services Advisory Committee and North Shore Collaborative.

Forensic Interviewing-Child Protection
Grace Bushard, Social Service Supervisor, gave the Board an overview on Forensic Interviewing of children.  Forensic interviews are used in situations where there is a child abuse report that is also criminal in nature.  This includes physical abuse where marks are left, reports resulting in egregious harm or reports of sexual abuse.  This type of interview is used very infrequently, but the interview technique is important in the protection of children.  Cook County has a multi-disciplinary team specially trained in this area to gather information that is non-leading  and does not cause harm to children.

Director's Report
Director Sue Futterer reported that PHHS will soon be short staffed due to (2) resignations and a planned leave.  Both open positions have been posted; the planned leave opening will be filled with a temporary employee.  The Human Services Board also voted to recommend advertising to fill an additional case aid worker position which the County Board ultimately approved.

Futterer reported that the Leadership Training she attended last week was excellent and very applicable to changes forthcoming in Human Service, such as the Affordable Care Act.  Futterer said the Board will be hearing more about what she learned as she begins to apply it.

Board Actions
The Board approved an agreement between Cook County PHHS and the Region III Adult Mental Health Initiative to begin a pilot program to provide Virtual Collaborative Consultation to the North Shore Hospital to stabilize patients with mental health needs if they come to ERs outside of regular weekday business hours.  Funding has been secured for this initiative.

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No members of the public opted to come before the Board.

Highway Department
Highway Engineer David Betts reported a gravel purchase was made for $18,300.  The Board also approved the purchase of an AutoCAD Civil 3D license for the new assistant engineer.

Information Systems
Information Systems Director Danna MacKenzie introduced the newly hired IT/Radio Support Technician Rowan Watkins.  Watkins is working closely with Duane Ege and will ultimately replace him.  Welcome Rowan!

The Board approved the purchase of a Dell Precision T1650 workstation for the new Assistant Highway Engineer.  They also approved the purchase of 2 Toshiba Copiers.

The Board approved an IT Policy to standardize on copiers to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

The Board authorized MacKenzie to review and consider the request from Buell/Verizon to work with Cook County to build a new tower at the location of the WDIO tower. The Board appointed Sue Hakes to work with MacKenzie in this effort.

Miscellaneous Actions
At the request of Kerrie Fabius, SWCD District Manager, the Board approved and accepted the Natural Resources Block Grant for County SWCD programs.

The Board authorized $25,000 cost-share for the Legacy Trails Grant application for Cook County Mountain Bike Trail System.

The Truth in Taxation Meeting was set for Wednesday, December 12, at 6:00 p.m.

The County Board set the preliminary EDA Levy at $148,566 and not the $200,000+ requested.  The County Board will schedule a meeting with the EDA, City Council and County Board to hear the EDA's business plan and direction for 2013 as it relates to their budget request.

Power to the Tower
Cook County and the State of MN are working to bring power to the tower on the Tower Road in Hovland.  The easement needed for trenching the power has been surveyed and written easements have been drafted by Arrowhead Electric.  Property owners have been contacted and a sincere attempt has been made to address their concerns.  It is anticipated that easements will be granted and power will be installed this year.  Power to this tower is a critical piece of the ARMER system and will improve public safety.  Bringing power to this tower is also critical for Hovland Volunteer Fire Department communications and the HVFD is strongly advocating that it be done now.

Meeting of Cook County Board of Commissioners and Grand Marais City Council
The County Board and City Council met to negotiate a financial partnership for supporting the Cook County Family YMCA.  The discussion was positive and productive.  After 90 minutes of discussion, the parties came to the following agreement:

-  The City will share in any operating loss on a percentage split of 50%.  The City's participation will be capped at $100,000/year and excludes the cost of the existing community center and grounds operations.

-  An agreement similar to the existing Library agreement between the City and County will be negotiated to address future growth of the cap.

- The County will continue its committed level of support to the existing pool operating loss until the pool is closed or the community center opens.  The County pays 1/3 of the existing pool's operating loss up to $75,000/year.

- The County will pay 1/2 of the City's settlement costs with Burbach Aquatics and 1/2 of the demolition costs for the existing pool.

-  The City will pay 1/2 of the Cook County Family YMCA's personnel costs for the 6 months PRIOR to opening the facility.

-  The County and the City will each contribute $10,000/year to the facility's capital fund.

Meeting Minutes
Official meeting minutes will be made available on the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602.  A video of this meeting is available on Boreal.TV.

Monday, September 17, 2012

County Board Meeting for September 11, 2012

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, and Sobanja were all present for the Board Meeting.  Bruce Martinson was absent as he was participating in a State Tourism meeting.  Also present were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
No member of the public opted to come before the Board.

Clean Water Fund
The County Board approved a request from Ilena Berg, Water Plan Coordinator, and Tim Nelson, Office of Planning and Zoning Director, to apply for a Clean Water Fund Grant to inspect lake shore property septic systems on Tom, Greenwood and McFarland Lakes.  Commissioner Hakes expressed concern about not testing septic systems on Lake Superior;  Berg and Nelson said planning for testing on Lake Superior is underway.

Firewise Proposal
The Board approved an application submitted by the Cook County Firewise Committee for USDA Forest Service Secure Rural Schools funding to improve USFS 311 for evacuation, emergency access, etc.

Highway Department
County Highway Engineer David Betts, disagrees with the recent MN DOT review that found the Gunflint Trail to be culturally significant, precluding it from being changed using Federal funds.  Betts' concern is over safety.  Betts will present his recommendation for how best to proceed.

The Highway Department presented its 2011 Annual Report to the County Board.

The Board authorized the solicitation of proposals for winter maintenance for Subordinate Government Service Districts.

The Board also approved a contract for $16,458 with Environmental Troubleshooters for assisting and cleanup of a previously-identified petroleum leak on CSAH 5.  This cost to the County will be reimbursed by the MPCA Petrofund program and Lutsen Mountain Corporation.

The Board approved the hiring of an Assistant County Engineer to begin work on October 1, 2012.

Stonegarden Grant
At the request of Sheriff Mark Falk, the Board approved the 2011 Operation Stonegarden Grant with the State of MN for $87,983.  This grant funding is used to provide funding for local counties to assist the federal government in protecting our international borders. 50% of this funding must be used for overtime; the grant also allows funding of equipment that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.

The Board authorized the purchase of a Dell Power Edge server that will provide updated server capacity for the Law Enforcement CAD system.  This $4000 expenditure will be paid through the 9-1-1 Fund.

Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department (GTVFD)
Chris Steele and Michael Valentini of the GTVFD requested a loan of $200,000 to be paid back over 20 years at 1%.  The Board formally approved this request as tentatively approved in 2011.  Funding will be used to complete the Gunflint Trail Fire Hall expansion.

Cook County Biomass District Heating System
Paul Nelson, George Wilkes and Gary Atwood presented an application form for requesting funds from 1% county sales tax for a Cook County Biomass District Heating System project.  The project is divided into two stages.  Stage 1 ($112,000) is the development of a complete business feasibility study concurrent with informed and serious marketing efforts.  Stage 2 ($243,000) would include recommendations for implementation.  The Board approved Stage 1 and put in a placeholder for Stage 2, subject to the results of Stage 1.  The Board also discussed the potential need to reduce 1% funding from other projects to support this request.

Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers 
Braidy Powers brought several issues before the Board:
a.  The Board authorized a revision to the local sales tax agreement made by the Department of Revenue.
b.  A public hearing was scheduled for 10/16 at 10:30 am for changing fees regarding E911 signs.
c.  Congress just passed the one year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Act (SRSCA). The County Board passed the required resolutions for electing how to receive these payments.
d.  The Board reviewed the EDA Levy History from 1989 through 2012.
e.  The County Board passed a resolution authorizing MN Dot to administer the grant for airport improvement.  The Board also approved the Grant Agreement with the FAA for $1,799,491 in federal funds.
f.  The County Board set the Preliminary Budget and Levy at 5.76%.  The Final Levy, set in December 2012, cannot exceed this amount.  The Board will continue to work to reduce the levy further.

EDA Business Park Bond Payments
City Administrator Mike Roth and City Councilors Tim Kennedy and Bill Lenz came before the Board to say that the City of Grand Marais will be levying taxes to make the business park bond payment due and payable in 2013 for $118,287.50.  The City requested the County share in this burden 50/50.  The Board agreed, recognizing that the EDA is a joint effort between the City and the County.

Hotel/Resort Classification
On August 15th and 16th, County Assessor, Mary Black, and Larry Austin, Cook County's MN Department of Revenue Property Tax Compliance Officer reviewed lodging facilities in the county receiving (or wishing to receive) the preferred tax classification of 4(c).  The definition of 4(c) Resorts includes language that a property must offer recreational activities as listed in MN Statute 273.13 Subd. 25.M  Upon the audit and review of the properties, Mr. Austin and the Department of Revenue's recommendation is to change several properties classifications to commercial for the 2013 assessment, taxes payable 2014.

Tip of the Trail Property 
The Board authorized hiring John Vigen to do a real estate appraisal on the former Tip of the Trail property on Saganaga Lake.  As part of the appraisal, Vigen will help determine the property's highest and best use.

Public Health and Human Services
The Board accepted, with regrets, the resignations of Social Worker Kristine Swanson and Finance Worker Molly Wickwire.  The Board authorized advertising to fill these vacancies.

The County Board endorsed a letter written from the Lake County Board providing history and rationale as to why the Thye-Blatnik law found it an absolute necessity to partially compensate Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties for the permanent loss of tax base and our lost future economic viability all for the good of our entire nation.  The letter was sent to Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands, Committee on Natural Resources.

Meeting Minutes 
Final meeting minutes will be made available on the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 387-3602.  Video of this meeting is available on Boreal.TV.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August 28 County Board and Budget Meeting

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for the August 28, 2012 Board Meeting.  Also present was County Auditor Braidy Powers.

Public Comment
No member of the public addressed the County Board.

County Soil and Water Conservation (SWC)
Kerrie Fabius, SWC Director for Cook County, requested approval to apply for a Clean Water Fund Grant to construct two rain gardens on County property in the City of Grand Marais.  These rain gardens would capture rainfall runoff using natural-looking landscape features and avoid direct discharge of the polluted runoff into Lake Superior.

The location of the proposed rain gardens are at the tennis court and near the new community center.  Fabius is working collaboratively with Diane Booth, Cook County Extension, ORB Management, and the new Community Center Steering Committee to coordinate this effort.  Success in obtaining this grant funding is very helpful to the new Community Center project and much appreciated.

The Board passed this motion with the understanding that the gardens would not be built until completion of the hockey rink and parking near the tennis courts.

Airport Contract for Runway Repairn
Rod Roy, Grand Marais/Cook County Airport Agent, and John Barton gave the board an update on the progress for both the runway extension and runway rehabilitation projects.

Cook County Visitor's Bureau (CCVB)
Sally Nankivell, Executive Director of the CCVB, presented a summary financial report for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 that included events income and expense details.  She also presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2012-13 events budget for the CCVB.  The County Board approved the events budget.    Commissioner Hakes provided Nankivell with feedback Hakes has received to give more advertising support to outfitting and snowmobiling. The CCVB is funded through the lodging tax and some grants.

Sale of Tax Forfeited Land
At the County Board's request, Mary Black came before the Board to discuss the potential sale of tax forfeit land, including the Tip of the Trail property on Saganaga Lake.  The Board authorized Black to solicit proposals for an appraisal of the Tip of the Trail property which is currently zoned Lake Shore Residential (LSR), but to also request an opinion on the property's highest and best use.  The county currently has this property valued at $539,000.  In addition, Black is compiling a list of other tax forfeit land that could be sold.

New Community Center Project
Wade Cole, ORB Management, requested the Board approve an additional Statement of Work for engineering work.  After the initial engineering review, it seems worthy that the School and the Cook County Family YMCA will be able share some electrical and mechanical systems at a potentially significant cost savings. The Board approved the additional work not-to-exceed $21,000.

The school boilers are relatively new and have the capacity to serve the Cook Family YMCA in addition to the school.  Usage between the two buildings can be metered.  In addition, the ability to retrofit to a Biomass Heating system is also possible.

The Board also approved the low bids in Bid Package 1 for dasher boards (Becker Arena Products)  and excavation/site demolition (Crawford Excavating).  Just one bid was received for concrete and will be rebid.

Birch Grove Community Center
Bruce Martinson reported that the grade for the hockey rink at Birch Grove was not done properly and will need to be fixed.  Otherwise, the project is going well.

100th Anniversary of the Cook County Courthouse
Carrie McHugh, Cook County Historical Society Director, shared the plans for celebrating the Cook County Courthouse's 100th year on September 21.  At McHugh's request, the Board authorized $1500 for the celebration!  Mark your calendars for this community celebration to be held at the Courthouse!

Capital Equipment Request
The Board authorized $17,688 for Danna MacKenzie, IT Director, to purchase a new network copier/printer/scanner to replace the machines at the Highway Department.  This purchase is in the 2012 budget.

Thye Blatnik Funding
Commissioner Hakes brought forward a memo she received via email from Raul Grijalva, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Public Lands, and Forests, House Comittee on Natural Resources. In the memo, Congressman Grijalva is asking for information on Thye Blatnik funds received in Cook County and how they are spent.  There is concern among the County Board this funding could be reduced.

Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties all receive critical Thye Blatnik funding; Cook County received just over $2M in 2012.  Thye Blatnik funding provides revenue to counties to compensate for lost tax base in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Receipt of this funding is critical to Cook County.  Commissioners Martinson and Sobanja will work with Braidy Powers and St. Louis and Lake County commissioners to respond to Grijalva's request and explain the fairness and critical nature of this funding. This is important action to take.

County Employee Recognition Day
County employees were recognized for their  contributions in improving life in Cook County.  To celebrate, the commissioner's bought and served ice cream to all!  It was a nice break from the  routine and a great way for the County Board to thank employees for their work.

2013 Budget
The County Board held another discussion of the 2013 budget. Ways to cut spending and fund ARMER were key components of the discussion.  Commissioner Hakes offered several ideas for consideration to cut spending and increase revenue, but no decisions were made.

Also discussed was the EDA budget request for an additional ~$50,000, most of which would go to support the Housing Program work of Community Funding Solutions (CFS) owned and operated by Nancy Grabko.  To date, the County Board has been very supportive of the Housing Program.  However, the County Board is likely not going to fund the request for the increase in levy most significantly due to the lack of any kind of management plan or direction of the EDA.  The Board also expressed concern over an additional $2000/month being paid to CFS for a loosely defined purpose.

Meeting Minutes
Final meeting minutes of all County Board meetings are available by going to the County website or  by calling Janet Simonen at 218-387-3602.  You may also see the complete video of this meeting on Boreal.TV.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Human Services and County Board Meetings on August 21, 2012

Last week was a bit wild with lots of County business for me and I was unable to make my usual blog entry for the Human Services and County Board meetings.

As a reminder, you may view both meetings in their entirety at Boreal.tv.  County Board meeting minutes are available on the County website  or by calling Janet Simonen at 387-3602.

The County Board meets again this Tuesday, August 28, at 8:30 am.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

County Board Meeting August 14, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the August 14 County Board Meeting. Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Courthouse 100th Year Anniversary
Maintenance Director Brian Silence asked the Board for permission to bury a time capsule on the Courthouse grounds as part of the Cook County Courthouse 100th Year Anniversary Celebration.  The Cook County Historical Society is planning the event for September 21, 2012. Save the date; it  promises to be a fun day!  Stay tuned for details!

Grand Marais Apartments Rental Rehabilitation Grantan
Scott Zahorek, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, and Laurie Spry, President of the GM Apartments Board, asked the County Board to approve a resolution in support of applying for a funding grant to rehabilitate the GM Apartments and for AEOA to administer the grant if successful.  The Cook County EDA Housing Authority supports this application and work.

State-in-Lieu Payment
Braidy Powers reported that Cook County will be receiving virtually the same State-in-Lieu payment in 2012 as in 2011.  Powers anticipates a payment of $255,478 which will be distributed with a significant portion to be applied to property tax levy reduction as is mandated.

USFS SRS Title III Funding
The Board approved a contract for $35,000 to create spatial data used to capture emergency management information across the Country.  This is part of the County's overall plan for use of funds from the USFS Service Title III Rural School Program.  More specifically, this contract work is in support of developing Community Wildfire Protection Plans.

FEMA Grant Committment for Matching Funds
The Board approved a letter of committment for matching funds for the 2010 FEMA Sprinkler grant program.  The match will be provided by the property owners served.

Capital Notes
Braidy Powers provided a list of equipment needed by the Highway Department and Law Enforcement, including plow trucks and ARMER Communications equipment.  The Board discussed the possible use of capital notes for funding this equipment as an alternative to levying the cost in the 2013 budget.

Gunflint Trail Firewise Grant
The Board approved a Grant application to perform L2 assessments on all properties in the Gunflint Trail fire district; these properties were assessed in 2005-2007.  Firewise Committee Policy is to re-assess properties every 5 years.  All match for this grant is in-kind.

Assessor/Land Commissioner Recruitment
Per Janet Simonen, 9 applications were received for the Assessor position opening due to Mary Black's resignation.  (3) of the candidates will be interviewed.

One Percent Projects
An Open House to celebrate the addition on the Grand Marais Library is scheduled for Saturday, August 18 from 10 am to Noon at the Library, of course.  Everyone is welcome!

Bids are being solicited for an early Community Center work package that includes the hockey rink, and demolition of the School's Silo.  A joint meeting work session of the County Board, ISD166 Board, and City Council is scheduled for August 23 from 1:00 to 4:30 pm.

Sue Hakes gave the Board an overview of the MIRC projects coming to conclusion in Cook County noting the amazing progress that was made in enhancing the use and access of existing and future broadband services in Cook County.

Recorder Dusty Nelms was appointed to represent Cook County on the MCIS Board.

The Cook County Local Energy Project Energy Plan will be available on the Cook County website.

Sue Hakes requested Board meet to discuss Budget goals and Board agreed; the meeting was set for August 28 from 2-4:00 pm

The Board thanked USFS Gunflint District Ranger Dennis Neitzke for his service to Cook County and wished him well in his new position in Bismarck ND.  Commissioner Jim Johnson showed heartfelt thanks for the help Neitzke brought to the Gunflint Trail and his willingness to work closely with the County, Fire Department, Historical Society and residents.

Meeting Minutes
Official meeting minutes will be available after approval by going to the County website or by contacting Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602 or at janet.simonen@co.cook.mn.us.  You may also view the meeting in its entirety at Boreal.TV.