Tuesday, February 14, 2012

County Board Meeting on February 14, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Hakes, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Commissioner Jim Johnson was absent due to health issues.  Also in attendance were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

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

Highway Department
The County Board unanimously approved the purchase of one CAT 930H front end loader at a cost of $160,194.93 (plus extended warranty).  The Board also approved (3-1 with Martinson opposed) the purchase of two Mack GU713 tandem axle dump trucks with dump truck boxes with plows, wings, sanders and underbellies at costs of $232,038 and $228,811 (plus extended warranties).  The purchase of this equipment is in accordance with the Highway Department Equipment Replacement plan and were approved in the 2012 budget.

The County Board approved a proposal from Mn/DOT for the County to provide winter maintenance services for old T.H. 61 aka Rollins Creek Road.  This agreement will be in effect through May 2012 and the County will be paid $3000 for this service.

Invasive Species 
The Board approved a modification to a US Forest Service Grant to combat invasive species in Cook County.  The modification will extend the existing agreement by $41,837 with a September 30, 2014 deadline for spending these funds.  The required 20% match for this grant will be provided by in-kind volunteer work.

At the request of Michael Lynch, USFS Cook County Invasive Team Coordinator, the Board approved a request to support a grant application to the MN DNR for the creation and installation of invasive species boot brush signs at trailheads in Northeastern MN.

Dennis, Neitzke, USFS Gunflint District Ranger
District Ranger Dennis Neitzke provided the County Board with a brief update on current USFS issues:
a)  The Secure Rural Schools Act (SRSA) ended in 2011.  Re-authorization of this funding is anticipated for 2012, but at a reduced amount.  Last year Cook County received $550,000 in SRSA funding which is shared with ISD166.
b)  Dryness resulting from lack of snow this season is cause for concern.  The USFS is keeping a close watch on fire conditions and will react if necessary.  Neitzke informed the Board that a fire ban can generally be enacted within a single day, but that reaching all campers in the wilderness often requires up to 4 days.  The USFS encourages campers to use common sense in the woods and to not build fires when conditions change to hot, dry and windy.
c)  The land exchange between the USFS and Cook County is moving forward.  The lands proposed for the exchange have been identified.  The feasibility study is underway and the environmental assessment is forthcoming.
d) Dennis Neitzke's decision on the South Fowl snowmobile trail (aka Tilbury Trail) was appealed, so this snowmobile route is not open.  The Forest Service has contracted with a sound analysis expert from the National Park Service to examine the sound testing and sound modeling that was conducted by the USFS.
e)  Forest Restoration efforts are on-going.

Cook County Tower at Gunflint Magnetic Site
Sheriff Falk, along with District Ranger Dennis Neitzke, informed the Board that the Special Use Authorization for the Gunflint Magnetic tower site has been amended to include replacement of an existing 180 foot self-supporting communications tower with a new 195 foot self supporting communications tower; it will not be guyed or lighted.  This tower will be built by AT&T and owned by Cook County on Forest Service land.  Per the agreement with the Forest Service, a ~$4000 annual fee will be charged once cell phone service is provided.  

Office of Planning & Zoning
As recommended by the Planning Commission, the County Board approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to modify property lines for Lot 3, Block 6 within Superior National Golf Properties at Lutsen to incorporate a white pine on the subject property.  No change to the acreage of the lot or the open space in the Open Space Subdivision will result from this action.

A Conditional Use Permit to operate a Bed and Breakfast in Tofte within the Single Family Residential (R-1) zone district was approved with just 1 change from the recommendation from the Planning Commission.  In response to concerns from the neighbors regarding lighting, a condition to install shading on the existing lighting was added to the permit.

Nancy Grabko, Cook County/Grand Marais EDA Housing Coordinator
The Board approved (2) resolutions as requested by Nancy Grabko:
a)  to submit an application for funding under the DEED Small Cities Development program, and
b)  to submit an application for funding under the NE Minnesota HOME Consortium program.
These programs would play an integral part of Cook County's ability to assist income qualifying residents in need of home rehabilitation.  Grabko also outlined changes to the application and scoring  processes.

Grabko also reminded the Board of the collaborative work between the EDA, AEOA and the Duluth HRA in helping qualifying residents obtain Section 8 Rental housing Assistance.  For information on help paying the rent, contact the EDA Housing Program at 218-387-3067 or email Nancy Grabko at dngrabko@means.net.

Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club
Sharon Hexum-Platzer and Scott Platzer, VP and Administrator of the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club respectively, came before the Board to ask for support in the relocation of a 25' x 40' building from behind the Lutsen Town Hall to a piece of County Land located on the Caribou Trail and adjacent to the Lutsen snowmobile trail.  The Club is applying for a MN DNR grant to pay the relocation and remodeling costs associated with this move.  As the property owner, the County Board agreed to write a letter of support for this grant, as well as move forward with negotiation of a lease agreement and the Conditional User Permitting process.

The County Board will act as the Fiscal Agent for MN Snowmobile Trail Assistance Program grant funds on behalf of the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club, Cook County Snowmobile Club, and Superior Timber Wolves Sportsmen Club.

Redistricting Overview
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers informed the Board of the Redistricting Process that occurs with population changes resulting from the Census taken every 10 years.  The Redistricting deadline for the County is May 1, 2012, but cannot occur until the City of Grand Marais completes its redistricting which is due to be complete by April 3, 2012.  In preparation for this, the County Board passed a resolution regarding Redistricting Principles that states:   Each commissioner district will be composed, as nearly as possible, of compact, contiguous territory of equal population and bounded entirely by precinct boundaries.  Powers explained the formulas used in determining population changes.

Gambling Permit 
The Board approved a permit for the Gunflint Lake Property Owners to conduct a raffle at Gunflint Lodge on July 18, 2012.

Boundary Waters Advisory Committee Trail Grant
The Board approved a resolution to act as Fiscal Agent for the Federal Recreational Trails Program on behalf of the Boundary Waters Advisory Committee.

Budget Review
Braidy Powers reviewed the 2011 General Fund actual vs. budgeted expenses.  At the end of 2011, the County Budget came in at 99.7% of the General Fund plan. Powers also reviewed the Cook County investments.

Government Corners
The County Board authorized an additional $1,000 to fund Wayne Hensche for obtaining information showing government survey corners along the Grade area. Cook County Recorder Dusty Nelms has identified this information as vital in surveying lands correctly in Cook County.

Community Center Project
Commissioner Hakes gave an overview of the Community Center Steering Committee Meeting held last week.

Cook County Security Committee
Commissioner Hakes, supported by Commissioner Hall and Janet Simonen, gave an overview of the Courthouse Security Meeting held last week.  Janet Simonen updated the Board on the agenda for the County Employee Meeting to be held from 8-10 AM on Thursday, February 16.  The Courthouse will be closed for regular business during this time.

Water Advisory Committee Appointments
The County Board approved the appointments of Gary Macicjewski (2nd term) and Don Lease (1st term) to the Water Advisory Committee as presented by Illena Berg, Water Plan Coordinator.