Tuesday, April 24, 2012

County Board Meeting & Highway Department Worksession for April 24, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's County Board meeting which included a Worksession with the Highway Department.  Also present were Braidy Powers, Janet Simonen, David Betts, and Russ Klegstad.

Garry Gamble, representing the Citizen's For Cook County Group, presented their group principles, a list of requests for the Community Center Steering Committee, an informational sheet on Feasibility Studies and an example survey.

Molly Hoffman gave her opinion about the results of the SEER Analytical survey recently presented by the YMCA regarding Cook County demographics.

Superior Cycling Association
Tim Kennedy and Mark Spinler of the Superior Cycling Association gave a presentation of their group's plan for extending the mountain bike trail systems in Cook County.  The group hopes to build 30 miles of single track trail on Pincushion Mountain and Britton Peak.  Kennedy and Spinler asked the County Board to support a MN Legacy Grant proposal they intend to submit this Fall.  The County Board made a motion to support the grant.  And, while the County Board was very positive about existing and planned mountain bike trails, they were unable to give financial support for the project at this time.

Highway Department
The County Board approved a Cooperative Construction and Development Agreement between the County and Lutsen Mountains Corporation to share the costs for the CSAH 5 reconstruction project.  Total cost for the project is anticipated to be $662,222 with Lutsen Mountain Corporation cost sharing $135,322.

The County Board approved a request to trade a 2008 CAT 450E Backhoe/Loader for a 2011 CAT 430EIT Backhoe/Loader, plus the purchase of attachments and warranty.  The cost of the attachments and warranty is $17,023.  The larger 450E is too large and cumbersome for use on any of the Highway Department's roadway projects.  The 430EIT is more appropriately sized for the needs of the Highway Department.  The $17K is not in the 2012 budget, but will be paid for with the savings achieved by buying a used forklift instead of a new forklift.

As requested by Highway Engineer David Betts, the Board approved the purchase of office furniture for $3763 to replace a mismatch of poorly designed and improperly configured tables currently being used as a workstation.

Maintenance Department
Brian Silence recommended hiring Jackie Meyers to fill the open Custodian position.  Eight applications were received for the position.  The Board approved the hiring recommendation from Silence and Janet Simonen.

Land Commissioner/County Assessor
The Board approved a cleaning contract with Gloria Johnson for Leo and Clearwater Lake landings at the same terms as last year.

The Board approved a tax abatement in the amount of $528 for Great River Energy.  The abatement was necessary to correct a clerical error made in GRE's personal property.

Hovland Dock Property
The Board authorized $2236.59 for a survey to clear up a discrepancy found along the west line of the county property at the Hovland Dock.  A quiet title action was conducted in 2002, but quit claim deeds were never granted to the adjoining land owners.  Quitclaim deeds will be issued once the survey is complete.

Cook County Historical Society
Gene Erickson and Carrie McHugh, representing the Cook County Historical Society, requested $350,000 of One Percent Sales Tax funding to expand the History museum.  Commissioner Sobanja had concerns about the close proximity to Lake Superior of the proposed addition.  Commissioners Hakes and Johnson stated that because this project wasn't identified at the time the Referendum vote was taken, that the project would have to wait until there was resolution on the original projects proposed for One Percent funding and voter-approved.  The request was rejected unanimously by the board.

A Public Hearing was held to discuss Cook County Redistricting.  The proposed redistricting plan was approved by the Board.  No public input was received.

Planning & Zoning
The Board approved a capital purchase request from Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson for a 20 cubic yard capacity trailer with bins to replace the 20-year old trailer that has rusted out.  The cost of $18,550 is in the 2012 budget.

In March 2011, Walter and Nancy Sellman were issued an Interim Use Permit (IUP) for the use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on their Greenwood Lake property.  Conditions attached to the IUP stated that the property must conform to MN Rule 7080 and Cook County septic requirements.  This condition has not been met over a year later.  Several attempts at communication with the Sellmans went unanswered and ultimately a notice of the intention to revoke the permit was issued by the Office of Planning & Zoning.    Subsequently, the Sellman's completed a permit application and submitted the $150 processing fee.  The Planning Commission met and ultimately passed a motion that the Sellmans must install a Type 1 standard or Type 2 holding tank on their Greenwood Lake property before June 15, 2012 or the IUP shall be revoked.  The County Board supported the Planning Commission recommendation by 4-1 with Hakes opposed.

A Conditional Use Permit was granted to the Lutsen Trail Breakers Snowmobile Club allowing placement of a recreational storage building in the FAR-3 zone district on 4.6 acres owned by Cook County.  Several conditions were attached to the CUP including the condition that "any lighting on the site shall be directed downward or otherwise positioned to minimize impacts to adjacent property owners and to preserve nighttime ambience."

A Use Permit was approved for the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club to maintain a base of operations on the Caribou Trail to maintain snowmobile trails.

Community Center Financial Projections
Duluth YMCA President/CEO Chris Francis presented the Board with the results of the SEER Analytical Study for Cook County.  He also presented the YMCA's best estimates for an operating budget.  This budget is subject to change as programming and building design is defined.  Current projections show an estimated annual loss between $175,000 and $192,000.  By comparison, the Grand Marais City pool looses approximately $225,000 annually.

Options for making up the annual deficit include fundraising, growth in membership, government subsidy or a combination of all three.

Lutsen Fire Hall Expansion
Lutsen Township is planning an expansion to its existing Fire Hall/Town Hall.  This expansion is projected to cost just under $600,000.  The township intends to ask the County for a $350,000 loan.  There appears to be willingness on the part of the County Board to make this loan; Braidy Powers will first prepare an overview of the balance and terms for all monies currently being loaned by the County to other entities.

Cross County Ski and Snowmobile Trail Assistance Programs
A motion was passed for Cook County to act as the legal sponsor for (2) trail grants:  cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Emergency Management Conference
Cook County's annual Emergency Services Conferences is being held April 27-28 at the Community Center.  All are welcome.

MN Power Foundation has given a $3000 grant for this conference.  Emergency Management Director Jim Wiinanen will send a formal thank you.

The Board authorized $6,000 for boreal.TV to videograph all regular and special Cook County Board meetings held at the Courthouse.  Meetings will be available on boreal.TV within 24 hours of occuring.  A DVD will also be provided to the library for viewing.

AT&T Tower on Gunflint Trail
The County Board unanimously approved an agreement between the County and AT&T for a new tower on the Gunflint Trail.  The new tower will be built on the same footprint as the current tower and paid for 100% by AT&T, but owned by Cook County.  AT&T will also remove all equipment from the current tower and reinstall on the new tower at the same heights.  In return, AT&T will use the tower at no charge for 25 years.  The new tower will be used for public safety communications, WTIP radio, and cell phone communications.

A worksession between the County Board and David Betts, Highway Engineer, and Russell Klegstad, Highway Department Supervisor.  The worksession began at approximately 2 pm and was adjourned at approximately 5:45 pm.  Topics discussed included the 10 year Equipment Replacement Schedule, road maintenance in the Special Tax Districts, Signage, Permitting Processes, Facilities and Roads.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Human Services Board & County Board Meetings for April 17, 2012

Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes, along with Board members Jim Johnson, Jerry Lilja, Carla LaPointe, Bruce Martinson, Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's Human Services Board meeting.  Jan Hall was absent.

Hakes called the meeting to order and the Agenda and Meeting Minutes for March 20, 2012 were approved.

Committee Reports
Sue Futterer and Sue Hakes were happy to report that Arrowhead Health Alliance was awarded a second Universal Home Visiting Grant, a federal program to serve pregnant or postpartum women.

Fritz Sobanja gave an overview of the Arrowhead Regional Corrections retreat that included short and long term strategic planning, as well as budget discussions.

Jim Johnson noted (2) upcoming trainings for the public:  "End of Life Ethics" on April 19 from 1-4 pm and "Pain in Palliative Care" on May 4 from 3-4:30.

Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program
Greg Barnier, LADC (Licensed Alcohol & Drug Counselor), and Lori Hommerding, ADC (Alcohol & Drug Counselor) gave an informative overview of the Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program services delivered by Cook County.  Clients are referred to this program many ways including through family, friends, probation, the clinic and the hospital.  Private insurance is billed for these services whenever possible.

Barnier and Hommerding talked about trends in alcohol and drug use noting that an overwhelming percentage of their clients have problems with alcohol, although they may also use other drugs such as marijuana, IV meth, or prescription drugs.

The Human Services Board was very interested in this work and asked a lot of questions which Barnier and Hommerding answered clearly and patiently.  The Board expressed their appreciation for this program and also acknowledged the importance of this work as alcohol and drug addictions negatively impact all aspects of one's life.

March Financial Report
Jan Parish gave her monthly financial report for PHHS noting that their fund balance is down approximately $45K which is typical for this time of year.  This reduction in the fund balance was predicted at the end of 2011 and is not a surprise.

Director's Report
Director Sue Futterer reported on several areas:
a.  The Region 3 Income Maintenance Electronic Document Management project is moving forward about as expected with the Carlton Pilot site anticipated this Fall and all participating counties going live in early 2013.
b.  April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Anna Sandstrom helped to raise awareness of this by handing out blue ribbons.  Sandstrom also created the "Cook County Social Host Ordinance" brochure designed by the School Community Action Team (SCAT) and presented to the Board by Sue Futterer.  The Social Host Ordinance holds individuals (social hosts) criminally responsible for hosting or permitting an event or gathering on private or public property where persons under 21 years of age possess or consume alcohol, regardless of who supplied the alcohol.
c.  County Health Rankings have been compiled to be used along with other data for long range PHHS planning.  This is the first year Cook County has been ranked with other MN Counties.
d.  Futterer reported that an audit for Blue Plus Care Coordination will be conducted on May 9, 2012.  Last year's audit went well with one finding corrected.
e.  Futterer presented her Alternate Worksite Quarterly Report; there were no issues.

County Board Chair Jan Hall was absent so the meeting was called to order by Vice-Chair Bruce Martinson.  Also present were Commissioners Hakes, Johnson and Sobanja, Personnel Director Janet Simonen and County Auditor Braidy Powers.

Public Comment
Sam Parker, on behalf of the Citizens for Cook County Committee (Rick Austin, Garry Gamble, Evelyn Larsen, Judy Motschenbacher, Sam & Diane Parker, Lloyd Speck) submitted a letter to the County Board urging the Board to be wise stewards of the 1% funds and to conduct a survey regarding the Community Center project.

Recycling Center
The Board approved a request to purchase a new vertical bailer to replace the old bailer, which is no longer reliable.  This $11,794 purchase will be made in lieu of replacing the larger horizontal bailer at ~$57,000 to stay within the capital purchases budget for 2012.

Highway Department
The Board approved a Special Event Permit for the Ham Run Half Marathon scheduled for May 6.

The Board gave authorization to advertise for summer road maintenance on behalf of the Evergreen Road Association, Voyageur's Point Association, Mile-O-Pine Association and West Rosebush Lane Association.

The Board authorized awarding (2) road construction projects to the low bidder:  1) CSAH 5 Reconstruction will be awarded for $662, 222.25 to Ulland Brothers pending finalization of a cost-sharing agreement with Lutsen Mountains Corporation, and 2) CSAH 8 Devil Track Phase II will be awarded for $1,206,450 to Ulland Brothers.

ATV Club
A gambling permit authorizing the Cook County ATV Club to hold raffles on June 16th and also August 2-5 was approved.

Law Enforcement
The County Board, on the recommendation of Sheriff Falk and IT Director Danna MacKenzie, authorized the replacement of the current 9-1-1 system.  The current system was installed in 1999; support services for this system will be discontinued within the next year.  The new system will ensure Law Enforcement's ability to provide 9-1-1- service to citizens.  The cost of $199,027 includes a 5-year support services contract and will be paid for from the 9-1-1 fund specifically for this purpose.

The County Board approved the Cooperative Law Enforcement Annual Operating Plan and Financial Plan between the Sheriff's Office and the US Forest Service Superior National Forest.  $11,500 will be reimbursed by the USFS to the Sheriff's department for law enforcement patrol functions on the Superior National Forest.

Courthouse Security
The Board approved a $5,000 contract with CJES, Steve Swenson, to perform a Security Assessment for the Courthouse.  The Board also requested that Sheriff Falk and County Attorney Tim Scannell solicit a proposal from CJES for assessing the Highway Department, Community Center, Recycle Center outlining any specific benefits (price reduction) that could be offered to ISD166 and the Clinic/Hospital/Care Center.

The Board authorized Brian Silence to secure a written bid and begin work on the office relocation for Guardian ad litem Wendy Hansen to Court Administration.

National Crime Victims' Rights Week
The Board supported Jeanne Smith's request to raise awareness for National Crime Victim's Rights Week (April 22-28, 2012) by hosting a display in the courthouse lobby.  This year's theme is, "Extending the Vision: Reaching Every Victim" which includes the message, "Find Your Voice".  Smith is the Crime Victim/Witness Coordinator for Cook County.

Park and Trail Legacy Funding in Greater Minnesota
Sue Hakes attended the MN Rural Counties Caucus this week where it was requested that rural counties support a resolution to eliminate a 25% local match requirement and $500,000 per project cap on non-metro Legacy funding.  Greater MN is not getting its fair share of this funding with 43% of the funding exclusive to metro parks, 43% exclusive to the DNR, leaving only 14% remaining for the 80 non-metro counties.  In addition, metro parks were allowed to compete for that remaining 14% and was awarded 20%.  The County Board will support this resolution once the suggested language is received from MRCC.

Boreal.TV is a pending 501c3 non-profit community information service providing access to video of local life and community events throughout Cook County through traditional television over local cable and online through http://boreal.TV.  Sue Hakes delivered a draft proposal on behalf of Boreal.TV for $6,000 to provide the necessary video equipment and videographer to record all regular and special Cook County Board meetings held at the Courthouse.  The Board received this proposal favorably and added it to the agenda for April 24 Board meeting.

A Worksession to discuss the Community Center was held and chaired by Vice-Chair Bruce Martinson in Jan Hall's absence.  Invited to the discussion with the County Board were Steering Committee Chair Paul Sporn, ORB President Tom Wacholz, Duluth YMCA CEO Chris Francis, School Superintendent Beth Schwarz, Auditor Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, and several members of Community Center Steering Committee.  At this worksession, the County Board passed a motion to authorize ORB to move forward with the community center design on the west wing of the school including, among other things, the cost to mitigate the building.  The Board also passed a motion authorizing County Attorney Tim Scannell to begin conversations with ISD166 and the YMCA regarding possible lease and operations negotiations.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

County Board Meeting for April 10, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Hakes, Johnson, Martinson and Sobanja were all present for the County Board Meeting on April 10, 2012.  Also present were Braidy Powers and Janet Simonen.

Public Comment
Garry Gamble, representing the Citizens for Cook County Committee, presented the County Board with a letter encouraging wise stewardship of One Percent funds.  In addition, the group requested that the County Board ask for public input whenever authorizing spending beyond the 2012 budget.

Highway Department
The County Board approved several requests made by County Engineer David Betts:
1) The Board approved a $595 capital purchase request for a Distance Measuring Instrument.
2) The Board accepted the final roadway easements for the CSAH 8 Phase I reconstruction project.
3)  So that completion of CSAH 8 is not delayed any further, the Board issued a Temporary Permit to construct CSAH 8 while relief of the reversionary clause for the airport parcel is being sought.  Congressman Chip Cravaack has sponsored House Bill HR 2947 which is expected to pass a floor vote in the next few weeks.  Senators Klobuchar and Franken are sponsoring Senate Bill 1987 currently in the Senate Agriculture Committee.
4)  The Board approved an exchange with Norman County of $1M Federal Aid funds in return for $1M State Aid funds.  Norman County needs Federal funds to complete one of their projects.  The exchange is also beneficial to Cook County in that it allows us to delay the CSAH 12 project to 2014 as well as relieve us of time consuming and costly Federal contract requirements.
5)  The Board authorized advertising for proposals for Calcium Chloride and Aggregate Stockpile.

Information Systems
The Board authorized $28,460 to replace the primary mid-rage computer system that runs all of the tax, assessment, accounting and payroll systems for the County. Replacement of this system is normally every 3-5 years; this system is nearly 6 years old.  Replacement of this system is planned within the IT capital reserve fund.

The County Board has authorized ~$174,000 for Aerial Imagery (pictometry) of Cook County.  This imagery will be paid mostly with funds from the Highway Department, Assessor's Office, Planning & Zoning, Law Enforcement, Title III funding.  The benefits to the County and taxpaying public are numerous and supported by private surveyors Sam Parker and Wayne Hensche.

Planning & Zoning
The Board approved paying for "Land Use" Legal Workshop for the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustment.  The training will be held locally to save the expense of multiple travelers.

The Board approved the initiation of the public hearing process for adoption of an amendment into the Cook County Subdivision Ordinance.  The proposed language for this amendment is as follows:

Section 4.4 Administrative Subdivision Procedure
E.  After approval of the application, the applicant must file the necessary deed(s) and documents with the Cook County Recorder within 90 days to complete the subdivision process.  New administrative subdivision approved lots do not become legal lots of record until the deeds creating said lots are filed with the County Recorder.  If the deed(s) are not recorded for the new lot(s) prior to an ordinance revision that makes any of the lot(s) approved through this process nonconforming, your application approval will be null and void, and a new application will have to be processed in accordance with any new ordinance requirements.

Tim Nelson provided the 2012 Waste Electronics Collection Dates as follows:

Grand Marais-Cook County Recycling Center

Saturday, May 19                             9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday, August 25                        9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Tofte-Tofte Transfer Station

Saturday, June 9                              9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Saturday, October 6                         9:00 am to 1:00 pm

A Public Hearing was held on the proposed Redistricting Plan for Cook County.  No member of the Pubic opted to address the County Board.  Changes are proposed for Districts 1, 2, 3 & 4.  No change is proposed to District 5.  Redistricting changes proposed do not trigger elections that are not already scheduled for Fall 2012 which include District 4 (Jim Johnson) and District 2 (Fritz Sobanja).

Superior National Golf Course
The Board voted to authorize ~$47,000 in reimbursement to Superior National Golf Course for pre-design and site evaluation of the Superior National Golf Course. The EDA and SNGC Management is working to design and fund a 3-year project to totally renovate 18 holes (River and Canyon Nines) and upgrade the clubhouse facilities for a total cost of $5.9 Million.  The total funding package for this project has not been identified or committed.

A Public Hearing was held to provide information and receive public input and comments on Cook County's submission of a MN Small Cities Application to the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development. This application will request funds for owner occupied housing rehabilitation and commercial rehabilitation.  No member of the Public opted to address the County Board.

EDA Housing Administrator, Nancy Grabko
The County Board approved a request to loan $16,500 to assist with rehabilitation of the Senior Center Building.  Originally, this request came before the Revolving Loan Fund, but it did not fit the statutory requirements of an RLF loan.

The County Board approved up to $64,000 in Cook County Revolving Loan Funds in support of the (4) projects proposed in the 2012 Small City Development application for Grand Marais downtown business district Commercial Rehabilitation Projects.

Arrowhead Library System Merger
At the request of Jim Weikum, Executive Director of the Arrowhead Library System, the County Board passed a resolution approving a contract agreement for the merger of the North Country Library Cooperative with the Arrowhead Library System.  Formal approval of the merger will rest with the Commissioner of the MN Department of Education.  Linda Chappell, Director of the  Grand Marais Library, supports this change.

Schroeder Township Fire Truck
The Board approved an $80,000 interest free loan to Schroeder Township for the purchase of a fire truck.

Auditor-Treasurer Requests
A.  The Board approved a contract for Voyageur Canoe Outfitters to operate the Sag Lake parking lots for the 2012 season.  No change in compensation was made from last year.
B.  The Board approved the Public Notice to begin the 45 day comment period for the use of ~$27,000 of 2011 Title III funds for the County's pictometry project.
C.  The Board approved a reimbursement to the Cook County North Shore Hospital of $174,276.43 from the 1994 Local 1% Sales Tax fund for the purchase of a digital mammography system.
D.  The Board approved recommended revisions to the Revolving Loan Fund Guidelines; the changes were essentially housekeeping revisions to updte the guidelines to current approved practices.

Meeting Minutes
Copies of the County Board meeting minutes from April 10, 2012 will be available on the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602 after they have been typed and approved.