Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

2013 was a productive, interesting and sometimes sad year for Cook County.  In the end, we have much to be grateful for!  Below is a quick recap of some of the major events of the past year!

-  Jan Hall was elected Board Chair.  New Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk and Garry Gamble were sworn in.  Sue Hakes was re-elected as Cook County Human Services Board Chair.

-  Our beloved Jim Johnson died on January 21.  As a past County Commissioner, Jim was an impactful community leader and friend to many.  He made Cook County a better place for all of us.

-  The Cook County Historical Society and the County Board worked together and received a grant to purchase the historically important Bally's Blacksmith Shop.

-  Pat Strand was hired as the Cook County Veteran's Service Officer.  Welcome Pat!  A heartfelt thank you also goes to Clarence "Clinker" Everson for his passion in serving Cook County vets.  Clinker will continue to serve veterans in Grand Portage.

-  Under the lead of Carlton County, Cook County PHHS collaborated with northeastern MN counties to provide the youth suicide prevention service TXT4LIFE.  TXT4LIFE was implemented throughout northeastern Minnesota; training was provided to students at ISD166.

-  After nearly a quarter century in public service, Janet Simonen resigned as the Personnel Director/County Board Secretary.  Janet's vacation of her role as defacto County Facilitator, led the Board to its decision to hire a County Administrator.

-  Emily Marshall was named Executive Director of the Cook County Community YMCA.  Emily became an integral part of the facility planning process.  Emily's enthusiasm led to successful programming, memberships and fundraising before the facility opened.

-  The County implemented the statewide ARMER radio system.  The ARMER backbone was paid for by the State.  The cost of ARMER radios and consoles was paid for by grant funding and bonding.

-  The County Board installed security equipment throughout the Courthouse including cameras, alarms, x-ray equipment.  New safety protocols were also established and practiced.

-  The GO COOK COUNTY team was successful in evaluating Cook County's economy, engaging the Public in meaningful discussion, and creating a strategic plan to improve life in Cook County.

-  The County Board issued a press release on October 31.

-  Members of the public were successful in getting the attention of the MN Department of Transportation regarding the negative consequences of the rumble strips installed on Highway 61.  As a result, MN Dot has taken action to remediate a portion of the noisy centerline rumble strips, but not all.  This issue remains.

-  Broadband service has been delivered to the Cook County Courthouse, ISD166 and the Hospital/Clinic.  Arrowhead Electric is worked hard throughout all of 2013 to bring service throughout the County in 2014.

-  The County is listening to the public regarding its Subsurface Septic Treatment System ordinance.  The County Board, Planning and Zoning Department, Planning Commission, MPCA and the public are collaborating to find SSTS solutions that are affordable and protect the environment.

-  Cook County IT Director, Danna MacKenzie, was appointed to Governor Dayton's newly created Office of Broadband Development.  Danna will be missed in Cook County, but it's always good to have a friend in the Governor's Office.

-  The County voted to support the Economic Development Authority's work with the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Authority (AEOA) to bring affordable rental housing to Grand Marais.

-  The County hired and welcomed Jay Kieft as its County Administrator.  Welcome Jay!

-  The County Board set the 2014 tax levy at 0 percent increase.

-  The newly built Cook County Community Center YMCA is scheduled to open January 3-4, 2014.  This facility is the result of a unique and amazing partnership between the public, Cook County, City of Grand Marais, ISD166 and the Duluth YMCA.  To date, memberships have exceeded expectations.

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Human Services and County Board Meetings: PHHS Staffing, Moving Matters, 0% Levy Increase and Welcome County Administrator Jay Kieft!

Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair, Sue Hakes, along with Board Members Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Jan Hall, Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja, and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's meeting.  Also present were County Administrator Jay Kieft, PHHS Director Sue Futterer, Fiscal Supervisor Jan Parish, Social Worker Supervisor Grace Bushard, Social Worker Jennifer Rue and Alison McIntyre Case Aid/Office Support.

Inpatient Treatment - Jennifer Rue, Social Worker
Jennifer Rue came before the Human Services Board to talk about her work in Inpatient Chemical Dependency Case Management.  The target population for this program is youth and adults struggling with chemical health requiring inpatient treatment.  Referrals for this program generally come from Probation or self-referrals. 

Rue noted that her caseload for this program has been increasing greatly.  At the beginning of 2013, one or two clients received in-patient treatment.  In November and December of this year, that number has increased to one or two per week.

Rue also shared the state-level initiative for treatment centers to focus on the dual diagnosis approach to chemical dependency treatment because so many people dealing with chemical dependency also deal with other physical, spiritual or mental health issues.  It is most effective to treat chemical dependency and other health issues at the same time as they are so interconnected.

Rue's work and the services she provides are clearly making a positive difference in the lives of individuals and families struggling with chemical dependency issues.   

November Financial Report - Jan Parish, Fiscal Supervisor
Jan Parish provide the November Financial Report, noting that the PHHS cash balance has grown to a healthier amount of $705,000.  Parish also provided information regarding the Consolidated Chemical Dependency Treatment fund used to cover inpatient chemical treatment costs for people without health insurance to cover these costs.

Parish provided the Board with a MN Department of Human Services quality assurance review on the Cook County Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Cook County's performance is fairly consistent with statewide performance.

Director's Report - Sue Futterer, Director
Sue Futterer gave the Board a Staffing Update and recommendations for filling open positions and the Board approved the following actions:
-  Alison McIntyre advanced from Office Support/Case Aid to Eligibility Specialist at 37.5 hours/week effective 12/30/13.  
- Talbrey Benson-Goupil was hired to fill the Office Support/Case Aid position at 37.5 hours/week.
-  An In Home Support Coordinator and MN Choices Certified Assessor position at 20 hours/week was authorized.

Futterer reported on the Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program progress toward moving to Electronic Health Records as required by the State to be in place on/before 1/1/2015.  Futterer explained that this is an expensive and an important decision, so much thought and study are going into the decision.

Futterer also reported that a Statement of Work for Child Support EDMS has been created and the Region 3 Redesign collaborative effort is moving forward.

Other Items for Board Action 
-  The 2014 MN Department of Health Assurance and Agreements for the Local Public Health Act Title V, MCH Block Grant and TANF Family Home Visiting was approved.
- The Board approved an agreement between Cook and Carlton Counties for the provision of Child Support Services for Cook County.  Under this agreement, Carlton PHHS will provide child support officers, enforcement aids, and child support programmatic supervision to Cook County for the 13 month period of 12/1/13 through 12/31/14.  
-  The Board authorized a contract for services between Cook County and Financial Worker Mark Wittrock, for Income Maintenance Services from January 29, 2014 through April 30, 2014.
-  The Board accepted donations in the amount of $8500 to PHHS.  These gifts were given by area churches, individuals and one organization.  These funds may be used at the discretion of PHHS to meet client needs when no other funding is available.
-  The Board authorized the appointment of Cecelia Bloomquist to replace Matt Webb on the PHHS Advisory Committee.

Committee Reports  
Garry Gamble reported that Arrowhead Regional Corrections continues to move forward with a 2-year remodel of NERC that is slated to be finished by 12/31/2015.

Jan Hall reported on the Community Health Board noting that the CHB is looking for an interim director to replace Julie Myrhe as the Director.

Bruce Martinson reported that Cook County Community YMCA Director, Emily Marshall, was present at the Health Care Planning Committee meeting last week to discuss the YMCA and ways to collaborate.

Jerry Lilja provided a briefing paper entitled "The State of Early Learning in Minnesota" from the Early Learning Council.  Patty Nordahl of Cook County's PHHS Advisory Committee, serves on the Governor's Early Learning Council.  

County Board Meeting
It was a pleasure to welcome County Administrator Jay Kieft to the Board Meeting today!

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were County Auditor Jay Kieft, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken, and Administrative Support Bev Wolke.  

Public Comment
Cook County News Herald reporter, Jane Howard, announced she has accepted a position with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe as a psychologist and is moving to Onamia.  The Board wished Howard well in her new venture.

USFS Land Exchange
The Board authorized an extension of the collection agreement between the USFS and Cook County for the current land exchange.  The purpose of this modification, as presented by Assessor/Land Commissioner Betty Schultz, is to extend the expiration date of the agreement to December 31, 2014 to allow additional time for completion of the appraisal of lands in the exchange.

Highway Department  
The Board approved (3) requests as presented by Highway Engineer David Betts:
-  With the assistance of Congressman Chip Cravaack, Cook County was able to obtain a release of the reversionary clause that had prohibited the purchase of land needed for construction on CSAH 8.  The County Board finalized this by approving the dedication of this easement and the $163,100 payment to the Cook County Airport.
-  Final inspection of the CSAH 8 Reconstruction Phase 2 has been performed and the work satisfactorily completed.  The Board accepted the project and authorized final payment in the amount of $62,764.88 to Ulland Brothers.
-  The 2014 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is scheduled for January 26-29.  The Board approved the permit application for this event.

Crime Victim/Witness Coordinator  
The Cook County Attorney's office has been functioning without the benefit of a Crime Victim/Witness Coordinator since approximately October 16 when Jeanne Smith began fulfilling the duties of Assistant Cook County Attorney due to County Attorney Tim Scannell's medical leave.  At the request of Molly Hicken, the Board approved filling a temporary, part-time position of Crime Victim/Witness Coordinator at 20 hours a week for the duration of Scannell's medical leave.  This position is paid entirely by a state grant at a wage of $13.774.

Emergency Management, Jim Wiinanen
At the request of  Emergency Manager, Jim Wiinanen, the Board approved the posting for a Firewise Coordinator to be hired from February 1 to December 21, 2014. SRS Title III and the CCWPP Twin Lake Grant will provide the funding for this position.

The Board also approved applying for a Community-specific Integrated Emergency Management Course to be conducted locally in FY2015 with instructional staff from the Emergency Management Institute at the National Emergency Training Center in Maryland. This training would be held in Grand Portage and include multiple jurisdictions including Grand Portage, Cook County, Neebing and Thunder Bay.  If successful, funding for this training will be allocated in 2014 from department training budgets.

The Board approved a motion to apply for a grant from the T.R.A.I.L.S. program of the Polaris Foundation to purchase emergency locator signs on the recreational trails in Cook County. 

Moving Matters 
Kristin DeArruda-Wharton came before the Board to explain the relationships between the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic wellness programs including Moving Matters, State Health Improvement Program (SHIP), Community Transformation Grant, Safe Routes to School and the Active Living Steering Committee.  DeArruda-Wharton shared that Moving Matters is a home-grown, county-wide project of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and many local partners working to create safe and accessible walking and biking routes for people of all ages and abilities.  Funding for Moving Matters is from a BCBS grant for planning which will include public involvement and facilitation from ARDC.

Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
Powers reported that the Secure Rural Schools Act was reauthorized for one more year.  The County approved Power's recommendation for allocating the funds with 85% to be divided equally for public schools and public roads.  Seven percent will be set aside for Title III County projects.

The Board approved making no change to Board per diems and salary.  The Board voted to increase the Commissioner's contribution to health insurance from $15 to $25/month (4-1 Hall opposed).

The Board approved a deadline of December 20, 2013 at 2 pm as the deadline for qualified newspapers to submit proof of qualifications and 2014 rates for publishing legal notices.

2014 Budget and Levy
The Board approved the 2014 Budget and set a tax levy of $6,104,890 which is a 0% increase.

Law Enforcement, Judy Sivertson
The Board authorized the purchase of wireless headsets at a cost of $1515 as presented by Judy Sivertson.  These headsets will enable dispatchers to dispatch while away from the desk conducting inmate cell checks, lobby business, and typing.  These headsets will be paid for from the 9-1-1- fund.

ARMER Radios, Rowan Watkins
Rowan Watkins and Danna MacKenzie of the County's IT Department, came before the Board with a request to purchase 70 ARMER mobile radios and 17 base stations.  All but 11 radios and 3 base stations will be funded by a grant.

Economic Development Authority
When asked for an update, Commissioner Doo-Kirk reported that the EDA has laid off 3 of 4 employees at Superior National Golf Course.  In addition, the EDA opted not to renew its contract with Community Funding Solutions (CFS).  These measures have been taken to address EDA budget issues.

Cook County Community YMCA
Wade Cole, ORB Management, gave the Board a construction and budget update for the YMCA project.  The Board authorized up to $16,000 to improve the lobby floor (3-2 Gamble and Hall opposed), $3200 for sun blocker 3M film for the pool windows (4-1 Gamble opposed), and $2250 for gym door mullions and door closers (4-1 Gamble opposed).  In addition, the Board authorized adding $10,000 to the contingency fund (4-1 Gamble opposed).

Everybody is invited to the YMCA's Grand Opening on Saturday, January 4!  Hope to see you there!  On Friday, January 3, there will be a celebration event for Charter Members! Check the Cook County Community YMCA website for membership information!  Join before the Grand Opening and become a Charter Member!

The Board assigned Commissioner Doo-Kirk to the County Safety Committee.  The Safety Committee is different from the Courthouse Security Committee, but the two collaborate on shared goals.

The Board approved Dyan Ebert to pursue reimbursement from the Minnesota Attorney General for prosecution services provide by Thomas Heffelfinger in the Tim Scannell case.

A public hearing on the MN Gypsy Moth program will be scheduled in January.  

Meeting Minutes
A copy of these meeting minutes will be posted after they are approved on the Cook County website.  A written copy may be obtained by contact the Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 387-3640.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Technology Woes!

My home computer is "crashing" so I'm limping along with my phone and a disabled laptop while I find a solution to the problem. As a result of this dilemma, I've been unable to post a blog update for the last two County Board meetings held November 12 and November 19. (This message is being posted from the Courthouse.) Please accept my apologies for this gap in posting! As always, you may contact me directly at susankayhakes@gmail.com or by calling 218 370 9833. You may also find meeting minutes of all County Board meetings by going to the Cook County website or by contact the Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 218 387 3640.

Friday, November 1, 2013

10/31/2013 Press Release

You may read yesterday's press release from the Cook County Board of Commissioners by going to the Cook County Website.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22 County Board Meeting: Senator Bakk and Representative David Dill visit Board

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board Meeting. Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken and Administrative Assistant Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
Mary Manning and Mark Adams came separately before the County Board as property owners on the Tower Road near Hovland.  They are both concerned about the condition of the Tower Road since Arrowhead Electric installed power and fiber. Arrowhead Electric agreed to restore the road to its pre-installation condition, but the work hasn't been completed and winter is coming.  It is the Board's understanding from Arrowhead Electric, that they have been waiting to do road repair until after the fiber was installed.  Fiber was installed early in October.  Board Chair Jan Hall asked Commissioner Hakes to follow up with Arrowhead to get a date on when this work will be done.

Highway Department 
The Board approved a special event permit application from the Greater Grand Marais Chamber of Commerce for the Grand Marais Christmas Parade to be held on November 29 from 5:00 to 5:30 pm.

The Board accepted, with regrets and appreciation for his service, the resignation of Maintenance Worker 2, Rick Motz.

The Board accepted the recommendation of Highway Engineer, David Betts, to hire Jesse Backstrom for the Maintenance Worker 2 positio vacated by Bill Bohnen.  In addition, the Board accepted the recommendation to hire Norris Klegstad to replace Rick Motz.  MNDot District 1 State Aid Engineer Walter Leu participated in the interviewing of these applicants.

The Board made awards for Winter Maintenance on Subordinate Governmental Service District Roads on Evergreen Road, Mile-O-Pine Road, Voyageur's Point, West Rosebush Lane, and Irish Creek Road.  These awards were based on low bid or sole bidder.

Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ)
The County Board authorized OPZ Director Tim Nelson to initiate the hiring process of a permanent year-round secretarial position at 35 hours per week.  This position is currently a temporary 40-hour per week job; temporary positions may only be held for a 6-month period.

The Board authorized two Interium Use Permits to allow the continued use of recreational vehicles for habitation:
1)  The first IUP was granted to Bob and Debbie Meyer for their property adjacent to Birch Lake.  This permit shall expire after 2 years or upon sale of the property to someone other than Gayle Quistad.
2)  The second IUP was granted to Barbara Wagman for her 20-acre parcel zoned FAR 1 on Lone Cedar Road.

The Office of Planning and Zoning is currently reviewing its Land Use Plan which will include a use plan for Recreational Vehicles.

WTIP Request
WTIP Director Deb Benedict came before the Board to request a letter confirming the County's intention to provide space and enter into a lease agreement for WTIP's new antenna to be installed on the tower being built just north of Grand Marais.  The County voted to support this request unanimously and acknowledged that WTIP is an important asset in Cook County.

YMCA Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FFE)
Cook County Community YMCA Director, Emily Marshall, came before the County Board with a request to purchase ~$7700 of equipment for the new YMCA:  pool table, volleyball posts and net, computers, fire wall equipment.  Purchases were made based on low bid except for the volleyball posts and net which was purchased to be compatible with the ISD166 volleyball equipment.  By purchasing good used equipment, Marshall was able to save approximately $15,000 on these items.  The Board authorized this request 4-1 (Gamble opposed).

Marshall then requested authorization to purchase ~$50,000 of equipment over the next few weeks with the approval of Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers if:  1) the purchase is based on low bid, and 2) the purchase is within the budget approved. Marshall has been acknowledged by each of the five County Commissioners for her good work in maximizing the FFE budget.  Marshall's request was authorized by the Board 4-1 (Gamble opposed).

Cook County Community YMCA
Construction of the YMCA is still on schedule for a December 2013 completion.  Go to the Cook County YMCA website for information about classes being held now, the Y Swim Team, making a donation, preliminary hours and more!

Northeastern Regional Corrections Center (NERCC)
The County Board passed resolutions supporting the NERCC Renovation and Improvement Project.  Cook County's financial responsibility in this $6,000,000 rehabilitation project is $81,600 to be paid in 2014.

NERCC is operated by the Arrowhead Regional Correction Joint Powers with representation from St. Louis, Carlton, Lake, Cook and Koochiching counties.  The facility was built in the 1930's and currently includes a 150 bed minimum security male facility and a 3200 acre farm.  The NERCC facility has significant deferred maintenance, life safety, code issues and loss of functionality.  In addition, Carlton and St. Louis Counties have experienced significant overcrowding at their county jails.  This overcrowding has resulted in county inmates being transported and secured in other jails at considerable cost to counties.

PUBLIC HEARING--D.E.E.D. Small Cities Development Program
EDA Housing Director Nancy Grabko gave an update on the 2012 D.E.E.D. Small Cities Development Program in Cook County.  Grabko reported that 3 of 5 owner occupied rehabilitation projects are complete and 1 of 4 commercial rehabilitation projects is complete.  Grabko also reported that the Cook County/Grand Marais EDA will be making application to the 2014 D.E.E.D Small City Development Program for housing rehabilitation funding, commercial rehabilitation funding, and rental rehabilitation funding.

South Fowl Update
Cook County, in partnership with Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (ACMU), and Conservationists with Common Sense (CWCS) are interveners in the South Fowl Lake snowmobile trail litigation.  As interveners, these parties are working with Attorney David R. Oberstar of Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith & Frederick P.A. to file an answer to the amended Complaint in this case.  County Attorney Molly Hicken, Commissioner Hakes, ACMU and CWCS representatives are planning to meet with Oberstar to discuss their response.

County Administrator Contract
The County Board approved the Employment Agreement with Jay Kieft for the position of Cook County Administrator.  This agreement will be forwarded to Kieft for his signature.   

Senator Tom Bakk and Representative David Dill Visit to County Board
The County Board welcomed Senator Bakk and Representative Dill to Cook County. The Board then took advantage of their presence and discussed several county issues including Association of MN Counties District 1 Legislative Priorities 2014, Human Services Administrative Simplification for eligibility requirements, Centerline Rumble Strips on Highway 61 East, Cook County Airport Funding, Parks & Trails, Gitchee Gami Trail construction, dwindling moose population.  In addition, Commissioner Hakes raised the broader issue of rural Minnesota losing its influence to urban communities, which Bakk and Dill readily acknowledged as a growing problem. Hakes also thanked them both for their YES votes on same-sex marriage. Senator Bakk shared a story that his 80-year old grandmother called him after his same-sex marriage vote and told him she had never been prouder of him; it was quite touching.

Bakk encouraged the County Board to bring issues to him.  Representative Dill asked for more details about streamlining Human Services eligibility requirements which Commissioner Hakes agreed to provide.

Meeting Minutes
A complete copy of the minutes for this meeting will be made available on the Cook County website after they are formally approved.  A copy may also be obtained by calling the Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 218/387-3640.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 15, 2013 Human Services Board and Cook County Board of Commissioners

Meeting minutes for the October 15, 2013 Human Services Board and the Cook County Board of Commissioners may be read on-line (after they are approved) by going to the Cook County website.  You may also contact the Auditor-Treasurer's office at 218-387-3646 and request a copy be mailed to you.  And, for a video of this meeting in its entirety, go to http://boreal.tv.

Feel free to contact me directly at 218-387-2111 or susankayhakes@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or ideas impacting our County.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

County Board Meeting September 24, 2013

Please accept my apologies for not posting after the September 24, 2013 County Board meeting.  

County Board Meeting Minutes for this meeting will be made available on the Cook County website after they are approved by the Board.

Alternatively, you may obtain a copy by calling the Auditor-Treasurer's office at 218/387-3646.  A video of this meeting may be viewed in its entirety by going to http://boreal.tv/.

Cook County Board Meeting on October 8, 2013

County Board Chair Janice Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for the 10/8/2013 County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, and Administrative Specialist Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
The Commissioner's Room was filled with residents concerned about MnDOT's recent installation of Center Rumble Strips (CRS) on Highway 61 east of Grand Marais.  Deb Vannett read a letter she and her husband, James Vannett, composed in opposition to the CRS.  It appeared the Vannett letter reflected the views of those in attendance.  Several other residents spoke in opposition as well.  Overall concerns include:  noise pollution, hazardous debris from the CRS causing safety concern, negative impact on wildlife,  and proximity of CRS to homes.  The public comment was very respectful.

Cook County Community YMCA
Emily Marshall, Cook County YMCA Director, came before the Board for approval to purchase a server and switches for the new facility.  The Board approved this purchase based on low bid.

MnDOT District 1 Rumble Strips 
Duane Hill, MnDOT District 1 Engineer, along with Engineer Jim Miller and Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) Coordinator Holly Kostrzewski provided an update on the Center Rumble Strips (CRS) mitigation efforts and answered questions for the Board and for the Public.

Hill acknowledged the concerns of the public and said he had been communicating with several Cook County residents.  He also assured the Board and the public that MnDOT personnel, including Commissioner Charles Zelle, is aware of the problem.  Hill reported that MnDOT will be doing some mitigation work on the CRS before snow falls.  The first step will be a sound analysis to understand and measure the noise impact of the CRS; this will be done in October.  After this, MnDOT will work to find a contractor ready and able to modify the CRS to be less noisy.  This work will not preclude further mitigation from being done next year.

The County Board is advocating for MnDOT to address these issues.

Gitchi Gami Express Sled Dog Race
The Board approved a special event permit application for the Gitchi Gami Express Sled Dog Race to be held on January 4, 2014.  This race will begin at Mineral Center, follow the snowmobile trail system to Hungry Jack Lodge, Poplar Lake, Devil Track Lake and back to Grand Portage/Mineral Center.

Maintenance Director, Brian Silence, and Carin Gulstrand of E.R. Perry, presented samples of new directory signage for the Courthouse.  The Board authorized moving forward with this purchase in the amount of $3349.16.

Emergency Management
The Board authorized purchasing cellular communication enhancement equipment for the Search and Rescue Hall in Grand Marais.  The $918.14 cost for this equipment is in the Emergency Management capital expense budget.

Veteran's Services Grant
The 2013 State Legislature modified the structure of the CVSO grant program and funding increased based on a County's Veteran population.  Cook County will receive an additional $7500; funds must be spent by May 30, 2014.

Public Hearing for MN Small Cities Development
The County Board will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 10:00 am in the County Board Chambers of the Cook County Courthouse.  The purpose of this Public Hearing is to provide information and to receive public input and comments on Cook County's 2012 MN DEED Small City Development Program.

Office of Planning and Zoning
As recommended by the Planning Commission, the Board approved a Conditional Use Permit to the Town of Tofte, MN Tower Holdings and Verizon Wireless to erect a 190-foot, multi-tenant communication facility on property within the Town of Tofte.

As recommended by the Planning Commission, the Board approved a Conditional Use Permit to Mike Borman to construct an accessory structure in excess of 3000 square feet without a primary residence in the FAR-2 zone district.

As recommended by the Planning Commission, the Board approved an Interim Use Permit for Jon and Anne Holy for the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to Kemo Lake.

Law Enforcement, Sheriff Mark Falk
Sheriff Mark Falk informed the Board that a North Division of the Cook County Search and Rescue is being formalized on the Gunflint Trail.  The purpose of this volunteer division of the Cook County Sheriff's Office is to assist the sheriff in fulfilling duties as described in MN Statues 387.03.

As recommended by Sheriff Falk, the Board authorized (4-1 Gamble opposed) the purchase of a portable Multi Energy X-Ray Machine and Walk-through Metal Detector in the amount of $24,500. This X-ray Machine is being sold at a slight discount as it has been used once at the UN General Assembly in NYC September 2013.

Scheef Property Access
The Board appointed a small committee to study the issue regarding access to the John Scheef property.  Commissioners Doo-Kirk and Gamble were assigned. (Note:  Hakes is going to request replacing Gamble on this committee as the access issues are in District 3 and District 4.)  Amy Wilfarht presented a letter to the Board expressing her concerns about development of this property and the access issues.

Council on Aging Audit
The Board and County Attorney Tim Scannell discussed the possible development of a County Policy regarding audit requirements for grant recipients receiving $50,000 or more.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes for all County Board meetings are available by going to the Cook County website or by calling the Auditor's Office at 218-387-3646.  A video of this meeting in its entirety is available http://Boreal.TV.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sept. 17 Human Services and County Board Meetings: Burn Barrels, Airport Funding, Rumble Strips

Human Services Board
Human Services Board Chair, Sue Hakes, and Board Members Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Jan Hall, Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's Human Services Board Meeting.  Also present were Sue Futterer, Alison McIntyre, Jan Parish and Linda Waterhouse.

Child Care & Foster Care Licensing Responsibilities
Social Worker Linda Waterhouse gave an overview of the State Licensing Program/Services that she does for Adult Foster Care, Child Foster Care, Child Care, and Child Foster Home.  Current caseload in Cook County includes (3) pending relative child foster home applications, (2) adult foster care facilities, and (9) child care licenses.

An aging population, a mini "baby boom" in Cook County, and ever changing licensing and training requirements have resulted in an increase in the licensing workload.  This presents a challenge to Cook County's small agency with limited staff resources.

Licensing responsibility was transferred to Waterhouse within the last year and she notes that the work has changed since she did licensing about a decade ago. Waterhouse believes that one reason it is different is because of the growing challenges on families overall.

Board Chair Sue Hakes thanked Waterhouse for stepping up to take on this important work in addition to her responsibilities as a Social Worker.

August Financial Report
Jan Parish, Financial Services & Fiscal Supervisor, presented the August Financial Report noting that the fund balance is down ~$15K from last month.  Parish also noted that Out of Home placement costs will be increasing this quarter.

Parish explained that the Financial workers are extremely busy with their regular work and the additional training required for eDocs, MNSure, Child Care and MFIP. Some overtime will be required.

Parish happily reported that the Good Samaritan Fund was recently replenished with a $22K donation from Spirit of the Wilderness.

Director's Report
PHHS Director, Sue Futterer, reported that based on County input, the State has selected UCare to partner with the MN Department of Human Services to offer Health Care in Cook County.

Futterer continues to explore with Carlton County a way in which Cook and Carlton Counties can work together to staff the Child Support Program and Services for Cook County.  Carlton County is servicing Cook County cases on a temporary basis.

Futterer reported that (4) interviews were conducted to fill the open Case Aid position and that a decision would be forthcoming very soon.

Futterer reported that the Redesign Project for the Electronic Documents Management System (EDMS) for Child Support continues to move forward.

And, Futterer reminded the Board that enrollment for MNSure--a central health insurance marketplace for Minnesotans--begins in October 2013 with coverage beginning January 2014.

Items for Board Action
The Board approved hiring Andrea DeBoer as an Eligibility Specialist at 40 hours/week.  This new position will be reviewed after 2 years.

Jerry Lilja forwarded a motion made by the PHHS Advisory Committee to "recommend that there be no reductions t the proposed 2014 PHHS budget expenditures".  The County Board will consider this recommendation seriously when finalizing the 2014 Budget

Carla LaPointe forwarded a second motion made by the PHHS Advisory Committee to "recommend to initiate a No Burn Resolution as outlined from the MPCA and reviewed by the Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis Counties Community Health Board.  This issue will be added to the 9/24/13 County Board agenda for discussion and consideration.

The Board authorized the purchase of (3) Dell desktop PCs to be used for eDOCS EDMS system scanning for a net cost to the County of $1275.

Committee Reports
Committee Reports were made as identified below.  If you have questions or want more detail, please feel free to contact Human Services Board Chair, Sue Hakes, or the Board Member reporting:

Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency--Sue Hakes reported.
Public Health and Human Services Advisory--Carla LaPointe and Jerry Lilja reported.
Health Care Planning Committee--Bruce Martinson reported.
North Shore Collaborative--Sue Hakes reported.

Bill and Abstracts were approved and the meeting adjourned at 10:05 am.

County Board of Commissioners Meeting
County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's meeting.  Also present were County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, and Support Staff Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
No member of the Public came before the Board today.

Highway Department
The County Board approved a work order for the County to provide winter maintenance services for the Rollins Creek Road.  MNDot will pay the County $3000 for this service.

Moving Matters Kick-Off and Walking/Biking Tour
Kristin Dearruda-Wharton invited the County Board to join in the Moving Matters Kick-Off this Thursday, September 19 from 10 am to 6 pm on the Grand Marais Public Library Lawn.  Moving Matters is a county-wide project with the main goal of increasing walking and biking throughout Cook County by making our streets and roads safer and more accessible for walking and biking.  Jim Oberstar will be present to talk about active living and participate in a Walking/Biking Tour around town.  Fun for all ages!  Everybody is welcome!

Cook County Community YMCA
As requested by Y Director Emily Marshall, the Board approved the low bid purchase of a Door Access System for (3) doors in the new facility:  front entrance, back entrance, school entrance (4-1 with Gamble opposed).  Marshall also reported to the Board that she was successful in purchasing used exercise equipment from the Virginia YMCA at a savings estimated to be $20,000.

Wade Cole of ORB was present via SKYPE to discuss the need to add $70K to the contingency fund to cover construction costs for the Y project.  County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers restated the complexities of the project and the potential cost of delay.  After a lengthy discussion, the Board approved the request 3-2 (Gamble and Doo-Kirk) opposed.

Commissioner Concerns
-  Brian Silence reported on the need for new siding/repair on the Hovland Town Hall.
-  Commissioner Hakes raised the issue of clarifying the contract between Cook County and Boreal.TV.   Commissioners Hakes and Martinson, Tim Scannell and Braidy Powers will work to provide a draft contract for presentation to the parties.
-  Commissioners Martinson and Gamble presented their Staffing Analysis of several other counties to be discussed at a later County Board meeting.

Airport Funding
The County Board voted to support moving forward with the Airport runway extension design at a cost not to exceed $451,400 and subject to Board approval on the final contract and costs.  Funding for this project comes from Entitlement Funds ($300K) and Highway Department easement payment ($151,400).

Rumble Strips
As requested at last week's Board Meeting, resolution language regarding the Centerline Rumble Strips was prepared by Bob Carter.  The County Board passed the proposed resolution with just a minor addition:

The Cook County Board supports its citizens, who are opposed to the Centerline Rumble Strips (CRS) that have been placed on Highway 61 between Grand Marais and the border, in:

a)  Working toward a mutually agreeable solution between them, MnDOT and the County Board to substantially reduce or eliminate the negative consequences of the CRS.
b) addition to MnDOT District One Engineer Duane Hill meeting with the County Board on October 8, hosting a public meeting in the near future with MnDOT and stakeholders in Cook County to voice concerns, questions and suggested changes to the CRS.
c)  Requesting a moratorium on the installation of any CRS in Cook County without public meetings and input.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the final meeting minutes will be made available by contacting the Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 218/387-3640 or by going to the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013 County Board Meeting: Rumble Strips, Preliminary Levy, YMCA Update

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell (until the break), and Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
Colvill resident Bob Carter came before the County Board representing ~65 (and growing) concerned neighbors to express their concern over the recently installed center line rumble strips on Highway 61 from Grand Marais to Grand Portage. Carter summarized some of the concerns including:  safety, quality of life, property values, location of rumble strips, and effect on our Designated Scenic Highway.

Carter also asked the County Board to pass a resolution on the matter which the Board agreed to discuss at their September 17, 2013 Board Meeting.  Carter agreed to submit proposed language for Board consideration.

Carter was supported by several members of the public including Jeff Larson who echoed Carter's comments and added that MN Dot has not provided any evidence that center line rumble strips improve safety.

Carter, Larson and the others in attendance were well received by the County Board.

Last week, the County Board hand delivered a letter to MN Dot Commissioner Charles Zelle outlining Cook County's concerns and requesting MN Dot Officials conduct a Public Meeting in Cook County this Fall.  Today, the Board appointed Commissioner Martinson to be the County Board lead in resolving this issue for Cook County.

Cook County Community YMCA
Wade Cole, ORB Management, came before the Board to provide a construction update reporting that the project is still on track for completion in 2013.  The pool has been dug and is taking shape, locker rooms have been constructed and primed, the gymnasium and the Child Watch and Teen Center (former Jane Mianowski room) should be completed sometime in October.

Cole also gave the Board an update on the  Y Construction Budget.  At the County Board Meeting on July 9, 2013, Cole requested ~$140,000 be transferred from the Uncommitted One Percent Funds to the YMCA project, in part to cover the State of MN changing its ruling regarding permitting and a fee settlement payment to Meyer Group.  At the July 9 meeting, the Board transferred $67,764 of the funds requested.  Today, Cole asked for the remaining $70,000 as projected to complete the project.  A motion to transfer half ($35,000) failed 2-3 with Martinson and Hakes voting to approve.  The Board did not give ORB clear direction on how to proceed under these constraints.

County Highway Department
The Board accepted Maintenance Worker II Bill Bohnen's resignation with regret and authorized County Engineer David Betts to fill the position either from the pool of valid candidates from last Spring or by re-advertising.

The Board approved advertising and receiving bids for winter maintenance on (5) Subordinate Governmental Service Districts (SGSDs):  Evergreen Road, Voyageur's Point, Mile O' Pine Road, West Rosebush Lane and Irish Creek.

The Board approved the final pay request of $13,463.66 for the Junco River project.  Seventy nine percent of the project was paid for with regular CSAH State Aid funds; the balance was paid by bridge bond monies.

Betts reported that the County Road 7 project is nearly complete.  Guard rails, some shoulder work and a "bird bath" area are all part of the punch list for work to be completed.  Commissioner Hakes reported that she had several favorable comments regarding the project from District 3 residents.

Law Enforcement
As requested by Sheriff Mark Falk, the Board authorized signing and accepting (2) annual grants:  OHV Safety Enforcement Grant and Stone Garden Grant.

Firewise, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
-  A request to re-allocate SRS Title III funds was approved as recommended by the Firewise Committee.
- The Board approved an amendment to the Gunflint Trail Assessment Grant due to the DNR announcing an increase in payment from $10 to $15/assessment.
-  The Board approved a grant contract for fuel reduction in the Twin Lakes area.

Truth-in Taxation Meeting
The County Board set its Truth-In-Taxation Meeting for December 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm in the Commissioner's Room.  Sue Hakes notified the Board she would not be available on this date prior to Board approval for this date.  Hakes will participate by telephone.

2014 Proposed Budget and Levy
The County Board set the 2014 Proposed Levy at 2.9%.  The Final Budget and Levy, set in December 2013, can be reduced from 2.9%, but may not be larger than the Proposed Levy.  The Board scheduled a Budget Work Session for September 24, 2013 as part of the regularly scheduled Board Meeting.

Outdoor Drinking Fountain 
Commissioner Gamble presented information regarding the proposed outdoor drinking fountain to be installed near the tennis courts and baseball field.  The Board made a decision to NOT install the drinking fountain as a stand alone near the north tennis courts, but is still considering having it installed on an outside wall of the YMCA.  The Board also discussed accessibility issues to the fountain and between the Community Center and the YMCA.  Gamble will lead this effort, including obtaining quotes for this work.

Cook County Council on Aging
The Board received a corrected Balance Summary Report for the Cook County Council on Aging.  Commissioners Hall and Gamble will work with the Council on Aging Board to have an audit of their financial conducted on a routine basis.

A copy of the approved minutes for this meeting may be obtained by calling the Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 218/387-3640 or by going to the Cook County Website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed at Boreal.TV

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27 County Board Meeting: Broadband Building, SSTS Ordinance Public Hearing, County Administrator Hiring Process, Rumble Strips

County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present at today's meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Bev Wolke.

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

Broadband Building Lease
The County Board passed a motion approving a lease agreement with Northeastern Services Cooperative (NESC) allowing them to place a modular equipment building for the implementation of Broadband Services. The building will be constructed not-to-exceed 16' x 24' for the housing of transmitters and associated equipment for the sole purpose of a fiber optic switching station.  This switching station is a necessary component for providing broadband services to Grand Marais and surrounding area, Gunflint Trail, and the East End.   The Board moved to authorize the lease (4-1 Hakes opposed) with an amendment to require County approval for any sublease (to Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, for example). Commissioner Hakes advocated for no change to the contract, stating that subleases for the purposes of fiber optics switching would be beneficial to Cook County residents and continued negotiation only slows the progress for bringing broadband to the County beyond the West End.

Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ)
Upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the Board approved an Amendment to the Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) Loan Ordinance that would allow the exterior plumbing projects of hooking dwellings up to municipal wastewater treatment systems as eligible for participating in the loan program.

As requested by OPZ Director Tim Nelson, the Board scheduled a public hearing before the Planning Commission regarding the SSTS Ordinance Update for Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm in the County Commissioner's Room at the Cook County Courthouse.  A second Public Hearing was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm.  The Public is encouraged to attend**.  An updated SSTS Ordinance is due to the State on/before February 4, 2014.  A copy of the draft ordinance will be made available on the Office of Planning and Zoning web page or by calling 218/387-3630 and requesting one.

**Members of the Public are encouraged to attend and participate in these Public Hearings.  Over the past several weeks, I've been approached by members of the Public that want to participate but are concerned that in doing so, their existing sewage treatment systems will be flagged for inspection or as non-compliant. When I asked Tim Nelson to address this concern publicly he reassured the Board that this is not the case and that inspections will be triggered only by the normal processes already in place (permit request within shoreline or North Shore Management areas, permit request for an additional bedroom, scheduled inspection programs.)  He also noted that the OPZ does not have the resources to track sewage treatment systems beyond the already establishes procedures.

As recommended by Tim Nelson, the Board authorized filling the vacant Recycling Operator position from within by promoting Rick Sturm.  The Board also authorized Nelson to begin the process to fill the position vacated by Sturm.

Highway Department
The Board accepted the resignation of Highway Department Engineering Technician, Andrew Graupmann, with regrets and authorized Highway Engineer David Betts to begin the process of filling the vacated position.

The Board raised possible traffic concerns caused by the development of the Superior Zipline along the Gunflint Trail.  Betts is aware and will be tracking the situation as it progresses.

Commissioner Doo-Kirk reported she has received calls of concern from residents of District 4 regarding the recently installed rumble strips east of town on Highway 61.  Commissioner Martinson will raise the issue with MN DOT at a September 6 meeting and report back any/all options.  (It should be noted that the County Board sent MN DOT a letter opposing the rumble strips prior to their installation.)

Claims and 2014 Budget, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
- Claims were approved.

-  Braidy Powers continues to incorporate reductions, changes, and corrections into the 2014 Budget for County Board review and consideration.  The State of MN has imposed a property tax levy limit of ~3% with final calculations to be determined.  The County Board will set the preliminary levy on September 10.

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS)
Sue Futterer regrettably notified the Board of the resignation of Child Support Officer, Michael Garry.  The Board authorized Futterer to begin the process to fill this vacancy or explore collaborating with another county to provide this service. Over the past 6-12 months, several PHHS employees have resigned and moved to jobs within Cook County or NE Minnesota with higher pay.  The cost to recruit and retrain new employees is not insignificant, including the pressure to "get the job" done placed on remaining employees.

Cook County Community YMCA
The County Board authorized Y Director Emily Marshall to purchase gymnastics equipment for the new facility.  Marshall is coordinating with Diane Booth to begin gymnastics in the Community Center prior to the Y facility being opened.

The County Board authorized the purchase of cabling required for voice & data and sound & paging equipment in the Y facility.  The Board also authorized fiber optic cabling and a door access system compatible with the ISD166 system.

County Drinking Fountain 
Commissioner Gamble updated the Board on the Grand Marais PUC meeting he attended last week to discuss the installation of a drinking fountain near the tennis courts to be used by multiple outdoor athletic participants and spectators.  There are several issues to be worked out to ensure the drinking fountain is appropriate for its intended use and that costs are reasonable.  Gamble volunteered to take the lead on this project.

County Administrator Hiring Process 
David Unmacht, Springsted Group, led the Board in a discussion of the (9) candidates he recommended for further consideration as the Cook County Administrator, noting that (1) of those candidates has withdrawn his name.  The Board addded (3) candidates for further consideration.

Ultimately, the Board will winnow the list to 5-6 candidates to be interviewed.  From that list, 2-3 candidates will be selected for final consideration.  Department Heads and some members of the public will be asked for input on the final candidates.  It is anticipated that the first round of interviews will take place on Friday, September 13 in Cook County.

Overall, the Board is pleased with the quality and quantity of the candidates that responded.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the final meeting minutes may be obtained by going to the Cook County website or by calling the Auditor-Treasurer's office at 218/387-3640.  Or, you may view this meeting in its entirety by going to Boreal.TV

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

8/20/13 Human Services and County Board Meetings: GO Team Public Meetings, Capital Purchases, Board Process Training

Cook County Human Services Board
Board Chair Sue Hakes and Board Members Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Jan Hall, Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja and Bruce Martinson were all in attendance at today's Human Services Board meeting.  Also present were Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Sue Futterer, Income Maintenance & Fiscal Supervisor Jan Parish, and Case Aid/Office Support Allison McIntyre were also present.  Sue Futterer introduced Jennifer Friest, the recently hired Eligibility Worker.

Committee Reports
The following committee reports were given.  For further information and more detail, contact the County Board representative on that committee.

Arrowhead Health Alliance - Sue Hakes
Arrowhead Regional Corrections - Jan Hall and Garry Gamble
Community Health Board - Jan Hall
Health Care Planning Committee - Bruce Martinson

Wilderness Chemical Dependency Outpatient Treatment Program Update
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LACD), Greg Barnier, came before the Human Services Board to present the work being done in the Wilderness CD Outpatient Treatment Program by himself and Lori Hommerding, ADC.  Barnier provided statistics of the Cook County program participants compared to the State participants, it was interesting.  Barnier also answered questions about the primary substance of abuse (alcohol), as well as use of other drugs including marijuana, hashish, opiates, synthetics, methamphetamine, and heroin.  Over the past 5 years, the Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Program is seeing an increase in clients, as well as a steady increase of female clients.

Alcohol and drug addiction has been identified by the Community Health Board as a top concern for Cook County.  The work being done by the patients and staff in this program is truly making a difference in people's lives.

July Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor, Jan Parish gave the July Financial Report noting that the current fund balance is down to $662,305, but should be back to ~$800,000 by year end.

Director's Report, Sue Futterer
As requested by the County Board, Sue Futterer and Jan Parish provided a list of potential cuts should their budget be reduced by 5%.  The proposed cuts were painful to even consider as they negatively impact children, families and seniors.  In addition, cutting programs in mental health and home care is more likely to increase overall costs as opposed to reduce costs.  It is my personal recommendation and sincere hope that the County Board find the majority of the necessary budget cuts elsewhere.

Futterer presented the MN Department of Human Services Waiver Review Initiative. The primary goal of this Initiative is to assure compliance by lead agencies (Counties, Tribes, Managed Care Organizations) in the administration of Minnesota's Home and Community-Based Service programs.  Cook County's strengths included compliance with Federal and State requirements, case manager relationships with waiver participants and families, client-centered/friendly care and strong connections between other service providers.  Some corrective actions were required and have already been done by PHHS staff. Overall, the report was extremely favorable.

Futterer advised the Board of the impact to the In Home Support Program resulting from 245D Legislation.  Currently, the County provides training and insurance for In Home Support, as well as identifying clients in need of these services.

Futterer made the Board aware of the upcoming submission of the 2014-15 Biennial Service Agreement for the Minnesota Family Investment Program.

Futterer gave the Board an update on the Region 3 Redesign efforts for Child Support Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).

Board Action 
The Board approved a Purchase of Service Agreement between Cook County and AEOA for Home Delivered Meals (Meals on Wheels) through 2013.

The Board approved a Purchase of Service Agreement between Cook County and Hill Haven for Adult Foster Care through 2013.

The Board approved the PHHS abstracts and bills.

Cook County Board of Commissioners
County Board Chair Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, and Bev Wolke.

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

Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ)
The Board authorized the purchase of one used semi trailer for $4500 (to replace an older non DOT certified trailer) as requested by OPZ Director and Solid Waste Officer, Tim Nelson.  This capital purchase was planned and is in the 2013 Budget.

Information Systems
The Board authorized the purchase of (14) PCs and (3) laptops as part of the long term life cycle management for IT equipment.  The PCs being replaced are between 4-8 years old. Total cost of this purchase is $17,004.91; State pricing was used.

Building Maintenance
Maintenance Director Brian Silence requested new carpet for the Assessor's Office.  After the remodel, there are gaps in the carpeting.  The Board directed Silence to wait until he knows what other spaces may need new carpet/carpet repair and then get quotes.  No decision was made on carpet repair/replacement.

Miscellaneous, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
- The Board approved the Claims.
- Powers asked the Board about attendance at the December AMC Conference so that reservations may be made.  The Conference fills up fast.

Cook County Community YMCA
Local Y Director Emily Marshall came before the Board for approval to purchase the Analog Camera System and VoIP Phone System for the new Y facility.  These purchases are part of the approved $300,000 FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment) budget.  The Board approved these purchases (4-1 Gamble opposed) and discussed what the approval process for FF&E should be.

Wade Cole of ORB Management updated the Board on the progress being made in obtaining the contract, bond, contract drawings and material orders from KBB.  He also informed the Board on progress being made with KJohnson to resolve and repair problems with the ice rink slab.

Commissioner Hakes asked the County Board to participate in the upcoming Public Meetings held by the GO Cook County Team that has been working over the past year to find ways to improve the local economy.  Hakes reported that the centerpiece of the work has been around 100 personal interviews with local businesses, as well as an on line survey in which 400 county residents participated.  The next important step is obtaining Public feedback on the survey results and analysis. Meetings are scheduled as follows:

Wed 9/4 1:00 pm Schaap Community Center (Gunflint mid-trail Fire Hall)
Wed 9/4 7:00 pm St. John's Catholic Church in Grand Marais
Thur 9/5 1:00 pm Grand Portage Community Building in Grand Portage
Thur 9/5 7:00 pm Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte

ALL ARE WELCOME & ENCOURAGED TO PARTICIPATE in these meetings!  For more information go to:  www.gocookcounty.blogspot.com

County Board Process Training
In an effort to be more effective as a County Board Commissioner Hakes suggested the County Board seek training about Robert's Rules of Order, Public Hearings, Open Meeting Law, etc.  A motion was made and passed to ask County Attorney Tim Scannell to investigate getting some training from MCIT.

Tennis Courts
On behalf of the County Board, Commissioner Bruce Martinson sent a letter requesting the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) waive facility and hookup fees for water (and sewer if necessary) with the installation of a water fountain.  Although the water fountain will be located near the tennis courts, it may be used by any/all players and spectators of baseball, soccer, softball, etc.  Garry Gamble will represent the County at tomorrow's PUC meeting when the request will be discussed.

County Personnel Classification System
The MAT Team (County Department Heads) passed a unanimous motion at their August 12 meeting to recommend the County Board direct the new County Administrator to prioritize the research, review, and implementation of a new job classification system.  The County Board supports this.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the final meeting minutes may be obtained by contacting Auditor's Office at 218/387-3640 or by going to the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cook County News Herald Correction

In today's Cook County News Herald article entitled "County board moving closer to finding administrator", Reporter Jane Howard inaccurately reported my words and my intentions:

Howard reported "Commissioner Sue Hakes said she wanted to see all 36 resumes because she was curious and because she wanted the board to be able to throw out any applicants they might know and have disqualifying information about."

This is 180 degrees opposite of what I actually said:

I said "Personally, I'm going to weigh heavily on what you (David Unmacht) determine to be the top 11 or so that go into the matrix.  However, I'd like to see all 36 just on the outside chance that there is someone out there that one of us knows that doesn't, for some reason, make the cut and we have different information about that person."

Ms. Howard's rewording was exactly the opposite of what I said resulting in a gross mischaracterizing of my statement.  For accurate information about the County Board's discussion on any issue, view the video at Boreal.TV.

When any newspaper paraphrases something said in a public meeting--as opposed to quoting the speaker as indicated by quotation marks--please take it with the grain of salt and investigate further.

I appreciate greatly that 36 people took the time to apply for the job of Cook County Administrator. My actions at the Board meeting were to ensure that each and every one of those candidates gets every consideration they deserve and that nobody is overlooked.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

8/13/13 County Board Meeting: More Budgets, County Administrator Recruitment, Highway Department Annual Report

Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Doo-Kirk, Gamble, Hakes and Martinson were present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, and Bev Wolke.

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

Tennis Court (moved to earlier spot on the agenda)
During the County Budget Hearings last week, the County Board moved to hire Skadberg Masonry to build the sidewalk and access ramp along the east side of the North and South Tennis Courts. Skadberg Masonry quoted the lowest cost.  The Board also authorized Wade Cole, ORB Management, to solicit costs for installing a drinking fountain that had been purchased several years ago by the County, but never installed.  Wade Cole participated in today's meeting via Skype to discuss with the Board, the cost of that installation.  The Board unanimously authorized moving forward with the drinking fountain at an estimated cost of $1200 for installation, $1300 for PUC hookup.  The Board will request that the PUC waive the hookup fees.  The County will be responsible for the monthly charges.

Recycling Center
Planning Director Tim Nelson notified the Board that the Recycling Center Operator retired last week and requested the Board authorize posting the position.  With regrets, the County Board accepted the resignation of Jeff Sylvester and approved posting the position in-house.

Community Center Director, Diane Booth
The County Board approved the lease agreement between Cook County and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) for specified areas of the Cook County Community Center for AEOA Employment and Training activities.  The AEOA office has recently been relocated from its former location at ISD166 to the Community Center and is working out well for clients and AEOA Staff.

Private Land Exchange Request
The County Board denied a request from John Scheef to exchange 80-acres of property he owns (PID 53-118-4100) with County-owned property.

Budget Hearings continued
Sheriff Mark Falk and Emergency Manager Jim Wiinanen reviewed their 2014 Budget proposals with the County Board.  Falk and Wiinanen were unable to attend the Budget Hearings last week. The Board heard requests from other Department Heads and Community Groups on August 5-6, 2013.

The MN Legislature has capped the property tax levy for Counties to ~3%.  Current requests total an approximate 7.79% increase.  The Board requests that each Department Head demonstrate what a 5% cut in their expenses would look like and how they might increase their revenues.

The preliminary levy must be adopted by September 10.

Cook County Administrator Recruitment
David Unmacht, Springsted Group, met with the Board via Skype.  Unmacht reported that 36 applications have been received for the County Administrator position, noting that 21 of the applicants are from MN.  The candidate list will be reviewed and initially pared down to candidates with the most potential. From that list, the top candidates will be selected for interviews.  Unmacht and the Board are pleased with the strong response.  The Board is working to have Administrator begin work by November 1, 2013.

Personnel Committee
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioner Bruce Martinson reported on the recommendations of the Personnel Committee on which they serve.  They reported that several jobs in the Highway Department were rewritten with minor changes. Two job descriptions were rewritten due to reorganization of some duties within the Assessor Office and Public Health and Human Services.  And, the Personnel Committee recommended an upgraded job description for the Emergency Management Director.  All recommendations were discussed and approved by the County Board.

The Personnel Committee also recommended the methodology used by Cook County to rate its jobs be evaluated and upgraded accordingly so that all positions are accurately documented and fairly rated.

Bond Payments for the Cedar Grove Business Park
The County and the City are working on a written agreement regarding the Cedar Grove Business Park bond payments.  These payments are ~$120,000 annually to be split equally by the County and the City. Ultimately, this agreement will be signed by Cook County, the City of Grand Marais, and the EDA.

Arrowhead Regional Corrections (ARC) 
The Board moved to pay its $81,600 portion of the ARC Asset Preservation and Capital Improvement Projects in full and up front as opposed to making payments.

County Highway Department Work Session
Highway Engineer David Betts, Maintenance Supervisor Russell Klegstad, and Highway Department Accountant Lisa Sorlie presented the 2012 Annual Report for the Cook County Highway Department.  In addition, reports were given on the 2nd Quarter Financials for 2013, Maintenance Project updates and Construction Projects.  Betts reported that the right-hand downhill lane on the Gunflint Trail will be closed for approximately 3-4 weeks for blasting being done for the Superior Zip Line just north of Grand Marais.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes for this meeting may be obtained by contacting the County Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 218/387-3640 or by going to the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23 Cook County Board Meeting: Interim Use Permits, Wheelage Tax, Revolving Loan Fund

Today's County Board Meeting started a few minutes late due to a Fire Drill just before 8:30 am.

Board Chair Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board Meeting. Also in attendance were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Attorney Tim Scannell, Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen and Bev Wolke.  (Board Chair Jan Hall was not present for the Emergency Management portion of this meeting.)

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

Public Health and Human Services (PHHS)
Sue Futterer, PHHS Director, reported on the Eligibility Worker Hiring process; currently there are (2) openings.  The Board approved hiring Jennifer Friest (apologies for not being certain of the spelling) to replace Sandy Petty.  An offer was extended to a second candidate but was rejected as this person accepted a job in Lake County for ~$3/hour more than the Cook County wage offered.  Futterer promised to report back to the Board after reconsidering the options for filling this position.

Office of Planning and Zoning
Planning and Zoning Administrator, Bill Lane, came before the Board with (1) Rezoning Request and (3) Interim Use Permit (IUP) Requests:

a)  The Board authorized a request to rezone 6.16 acres near Hedstrom Lumber Mill from Light Industrial to Forest Agricultural/Residential.
b)  The Board authorized an IUP to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to the Camp 20 Road for two years.
c)  The Board authorized an IUP to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to Lake Superior, but only after reducing the Planning Commission's recommendation of 4 years to 2 years.  The vote was 4-1 with Doo-Kirk opposed.
d)  The Board authorized an IUP to allow the continued use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on property adjacent to County Road #8, after reducing the Planning Commission's recommendation of 3 years to 2 years.

Both the County Board and the Planning Commission have directed OPZ Director Tim Nelson to update Cook County's Land Use Guide from 1997.  Nelson is supportive of this request and has identified specific issues that need to be addressed including:  sled-dog kennels, long-term recreational vehicle use and vacation rentals.  The Board established a small steering committee to review the existing plan and evaluate possible methods for proceeding with this update. Commissioners Hall and Doo-Kirk will participate on this committee as the liaison to the OPZ and Board representative on the Planning Commission, respectively.   The process for updating the Land Use Plan must provide an open and inclusive venue for the Public to provide input.

The Board authorized hiring Wenck Associates to update the Cook County Solid Waste Management Plan in the amount of $22,300.  This Plan is overdue and as a result, $111,900 in SCORE Grant Funds are being withheld.  Once the updated Plan is submitted, these funds will be released in total.

Highway Department
The County Board authorized hiring Westley Higgins as an Assistant Mechanic to replace the position vacated by Scott Corwin.  Higgins will begin work on August 5.

The Board approved a special event permit application from the Superior Cycling Association for the Sawtooth Challenge Mountain Bike Race to be held on September 8, 2013.

The Board approved an extension to the USFS GLRI grant to combat invasive species in Cook County.  The original grant was approved in March 2011 and extended in February 2012.  This modification will expand the agreement from $100,000 to $172,501.  There is a 20% match and a December 31, 2014 deadline for spending these funds.

Proposed Wheelage Tax
The 2013 MN State Legislature amended MS 163.051 to allow for Counties to levy a wheelage tax on each motor vehicle kept in Cook County.  This annual wheelage tax per motor vehicle is limited to $10 until the end of 2017 when it may be increased to $20 per motor vehicle.

The Board passed a motion to NOT implement the wheelage tax requested by County Engineer David Betts, which was estimated to benefit Cook County in the amount of $52,780 to be used for "highway purposes".

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers
Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers brought several issues before the County Board for consideration:
A.  Claims for payment were approved.
B.  The Board approved a resolution accepting a State Grant for Airport Maintenance and Operation in the amount of $24,653.00.  This is the standard grant amount received by Cook County for over 20 years for basic operations at the airport.
C.  The Board voted 4-1 (Hakes opposed) to approve a $250,000 loan as recommended by the Cook County Revolving Loan Fund to Matt Geretschlaeger to fund Geretschlaeger's ZIP Line project at 689 Gunflint Trail just north of Grand Marais.  The City of Grand Marais has received an IRRRB Grant for $191,000 to bring Public Utilities to the site.  Geretschlaeger has also been approved for a $260,000 Small Business Administration Loan.  Hakes expressed concern that the Business Plan Financials do not justify the business venture as proposed.  Hakes also expressed her concern that the real estate collateral offered is not enough to make the risk to the County tolerable.
D.  The Board authorized purchasing a Fujitsu document scanner to replace the Recorder's Office scanner damaged during the last power outage at the Courthouse.  The cost of $5431 will be paid for using the Recorder's Equipment Fund.
E.  The Board approved an agreement to renew its election equipment maintenance agreement.
F-G.  The Board made a motion to approve the final Grant Agreement with the Cook County/Grand Marais Joint Economic Development Authority in Connection with the Superior National Golf Course Project.  The County has committed $3.1 million of One Percent Funds toward the renovation of the Superior National Golf Course.  The LTTA will provide $50,000 annually from 2013 through 2022 for Golf Course Marketing.  The balance of the project will be funded by bonding for $1.7 million.
H.  On June 25th, the EDA requested a 60 day loan of $300,000 for funding the Lake Superior water pipeline and golf course architectural services with the understanding that the IRRRB would reimburse the County within 60 days.  IRRRB reimbursement will not likely occur until late October so the Promissory Note was extended to a payment date of October 25, 2013.
I.  The Board authorized an amendment to its contract with JLG Architects to convert basing the design fees on 7.5% of the Cost of the Work to a fixed lump sum.  This amendment will streamline the accounting process and will limit the County's payment to JLG if existing project costs increase.
J.  The Board authorized a 120 day loan in the amount of $10,000 to the Superior Timber Wolves Sportman's Club in Tofte to pay for a bridge replacement on the Leveaux Trail just west of the Springdale Road in Tofte.

One Percent Projects
Braidy Powers reviewed the One Percent Funds by Project, showing the budget, $$ spent to date, and balances.

Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department
The Board appointed John Bottger and Fred Smith as Fire Relief Association Board members.

Emergency Management
The Board passed a motion to to proceed with cross border discussions leading to a Memorandum of Understanding between Cook County, Grand Portage, Neebing ON and Thunder Bay ON.

The Board passed a resolution to allocate SRS Title III money for specific uses including All Hazard Mitigation Plan duties and potentially establishing a Firewise Coordinator Position.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting Minutes will be made available by contacting Janet Simonen at 387-3687 or by going to the Cook County Website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety will be made available on Boreal.TV

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 16 Human Services and County Board Meetings: Staffing, NE MN Small Business Consultant, Tennis Courts, Event Permits

Cook County Human Services Board Meeting
Human Services Board Chair Sue Hakes and Board Members Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Carla LaPointe, Jerry Lilja and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's Human Services Board Meeting.  Also present were Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Sue Futterer, Fiscal Supervisor Jan Parish, Personnel Director Janet Simonen and Case Aide/Office Support Andrea DeBoer. Jan Hall was absent.

Committee Reports
Several Human Services Board members reported on the various committee meetings they have attended in the past month including:  Arrowhead Health Alliance Joint Powers (Sue Hakes), Arrowhead Regional Corrections (Garry Gamble), Public Health & Human Services (Jerry Lilja), North Shore Collaborative (Sue Hakes).  (For further information on any of these committee meetings, please contact me or the board member that attends.)

Child and Family Safety Review 
Social Services Supervisor, Grace Bushard, reported on the Cook and Lake Counties Minnesota Child Family Safety Review (CFSR).  The CFSR is a process to help achieve positive outcomes for children and families by monitoring state child welfare services.  The Cook County review period is from June 2012 to July 2013. The last review in Cook County was in 2007.  Bushard is extremely familiar with the process having been a peer reviewer in the past.

June Financial Report
Income Maintenance and Fiscal Supervisor, Jan Parish, reported on the PHHS Budget for June 2013 noting that the costs for Out Of Home Placements continue to be of concern for the budget.  Parish also said that PHHS Director and Staff will be using the 2013 Budget to prepare their 2014 Budget.

Director's Report
PHHS Director, Sue Futterer, Reported on several items:
-  Cook County Human Services was found to be in compliance after its 2013 Blue Plus Audit.  The audit produced some minor findings, but no recommendations or mandatory improvements were made or are required.  Futterer and Staff will work to improve based on the findings.
-  Cook County Wilderness Outpatient Program received a Facility Site Audit Review score of 98% and a Treatment Record Review score of 87% from OPTUM. OPTUM's Lead Quality Improvement Specialist congratulated Cook County for providing quality care and a safe environment for OPTUM members and families.
- All County Human Services Administrators throughout the State received a Memo from Chuck Johnson, Department of Health Deputy Commissioner, regarding implementation of a new county performance management system.  This transition time is difficult for Counties due to the many unknowns.
-  The TXT4LIFE Annual Progress Report for its first year, 2012, is packed full of information regarding TXT4LIFE, a program that originated in Carlton County and is intended to be in use across all MN Counties by 2015.  If you, or somebody you know, needs to talk, Text LIFE to 839863.
-  Staffing continues to be a challenge in the PHHS Department due to resignations, changes in processes from the State, and unknowns that are resulting from the Affodable Health Care Act.  Futterer and Staff continue to work to fill the gaps by shifting responsibilities and also replacement hires.
-  Director Futterer and Staff continue working diligently on their 2014 Budget.
-  Futterer gave the Board an update on Region 3 Redesign.

Items for Board Actions
-  The Board authorized hiring a Temporary Eligibility Specialist during the transition and training of new staff at a cost estimated between $3-5,000 total and maximum of 6 months.
-  The Board authorized continuing the employment of Temporary Support Staff during the Financial Assistance Transition and EDMS Implementation.
-  The Board authorized Futterer to continue working with Carlton County for mentoring of new Cook County Eligibility workers.

Cook County Board of Commissioners
Vice-Chair Bruce Martinson, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, and Sue Hakes were all present for the July 16 County Board Meeting. Board Chair Janice Hall was absent.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen and Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
Pat Campanaro came before the County Board to let them know she has just been hired as a MN Small Business Development Center Consultant for Cook County through Cook County Higher Education and the UMD Center for Economic Development.  Campanaro will provide professional business consulting in Cook County for 15 hours/week at no cost to the small business owner.  Campanaro brings a wealth of business experience and enthusiasm to this position and is already working with several local businesses.  If you have questions about starting a new business or operating your existing business, do not hesitate to call Pat Campanaro for support.  You may reach her at: 218-387-3411 or pcampanaro@gmail.com.

Highway Department
The Board authorized (2) Event Permits:  a)  The 84th Annual Fisherman's Picnic Parade, and b)  The North Shore Dragon Boat Festival Parade.

Highway Engineer, David Betts, reported that he interviewed 3 candidates for the open Assistant Mechanic position.

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, Miscellaneous
-  Braidy Powers presented the Second Quarter 2013 Budget for Board review.  Expenditures are exactly 50% of the 2013 budget.
-  The Board approved a permit to hold a raffle at the Gunflint Firehouse #1 Community Center on August 8, 2013.
-  The County received $32,701.97 of Title III funds that may be used to carry out Firewise activities, reimburse the County for Search and Rescue and other emergency services performed on Federal Lands, and develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans.  The Firewise Committee has a recommendation for the use of these funds which will be presented for approval by Cook County Emergency Manager Jim Wiinanen at next week's Board Meeting.
-  The Board authorized the purchase of (2) Dell Gigabet Ethernet switches for $3900.  This purchase for network upgrades to support incoming fiber connections and new network storage units was planned for and included in the 2013 IT capital budget.
-  The Board approved contracting with Boreal.TV for $6000 to video all regularly scheduled County Board Meetings taking place in the Courthouse for the next year. This is the same rate as last year.

Grand Marais Tennis Courts
Wade Cole of ORB Management, presented site plans for drainage and accessibility on the east side of the county-owned tennis courts.  The estimated cost for this work is $15-25,000 and is not part of the One Percent Project.  Both ORB and JLG Architects are working on this project at no charge.  The Board authorized Cole to obtain quotes from local contractors for this work on/before August 5 for Board consideration.

Cook County Administrator Position Profile
The Board approved the final draft of the Cook County Administrator Position profile and authorized David Unmacht at Springsted to move forward with advertising for this position.

County Road 7 Construction Project
County Engineer David Betts reported that test strips for the new pavement on County Road 7 are being done near Highway 61 this week.  Pavement on County Road 7 will be done sometime next week, weather pending.  Betts reported that calcium chloride is down to minimize dust during this road construction.  If you have any questions or concerns about this project, contact Sue Hakes or David Betts.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the final meeting minutes for today's County Board meeting will be made available on the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 387-3602.  A video this meeting in its entirety may be seen on-line at Boreal.TV.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 9 County Board Meeting: Vacation Rentals, Cook County Family YMCA Rates, Tennis Courts

County Board Chair Jan Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were present at today's County Board meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen and Bev Wolke.

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

Highway Department, Highway Engineer David Betts
The County Board approved awarding the grading and gravel contract for West Rosebush Lane to LaBoda Grading, Inc.  LaBoda Grading was the sole bidder.

Highway Engineer, David Betts, and the County Board discussed recent legislative changes to 1) allow all 87 counties to levy, by board resolution, a $10 per vehicle wheelage tax, and 2) enact up to 1/2% sales tax for transportation by board action, without holding a referendum.  Should the County decide to  enact these changes, it would bring ~$53,000/year (wheelage tax) and ~$650,000/year (sales tax) to Cook County to be used to improve roads and bridges.  The County Board discussed the pros and cons to residents of Cook County for both of these possible taxes.  No decision was made at this meeting, but will be addressed again.

Office of Planning & Zoning, Director Tim Nelson
Tim Nelson asked the County Board to consider modifying Cook County "after the fact" (penalty) fees from the $300 fee applied in all cases.  Applying the same penalty fee in all cases isn't always reasonable making it difficult for the Planning Commission to impose it in certain cases.  Commissioners Hall and Doo-Kirk will work with Nelson to examine the issue and present some options.

The County Board discussed vacation rental homes and cabins that are not in compliance with State Licensing requirements.  It is important that the owners of these properties obtain a State License and pay State/Local taxes for 3 reasons:  1)  safety, 2) to create a level playing field with hotels, motels and resorts, and 3) State and Local tax collections.   The Board discussed a possible local ordinance, but no decisions were made.

Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
The Board authorized extending the Gunflint Trail Assessment Grant to August 15, 2014 as recommended by the Firewise Committee.  This extension is necessary due to the late spring.

The Board approved a reduction in the Revolving Loan interest rate for the Birch Terrace Supper Club from 4.9% to 3.12% as requested by Brian Larsen and recommended by the Revolving Loan Fund Committee.  This reduction in the interest rate is contingent upon Larsen meeting with a volunteer from the newly formed Cook County Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer from the Small Business Development Center in Duluth for business advice.

The Board approved a Satisfaction of Mortage for Fall River Holding, LLC, DBA Stone Harbor, as they paid off their revolving loan on 1/31/13.

Public Health and Human Services, Director Sue Futterer
The Board passed a motion supporting the recommendation of Cook County Public Health and Human Services approving UCare and Medica as managed care organizations providing managed health care services in Cook County for the recipients of Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.  The final decision will be made by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The Board authorized Sue Futterer, Director of PHHS, in consultation with County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, to make the determination when necessary to grant PHHS Staff permission to travel outside the State of Minnesota without further approval by the County Board.

Cook County Community YMCA
Cook County Community YMCA Branch Director, Emily Marshall, and Duluth Family YMCA Executive Director, Chris Francis came before the County Board to present their 2013 Budget.  Marshall also shared the rates for the Cook County Community YMCA as follows:

  • Under 18:  $15/month
  • Adult:  $42/month
  • 1 Parent Family:  $51/month
  • 2 Parent Family:  $61/month
  • Youth Day Pass:  $5
  • Adult Day Pass:  $10
  • Family Day Pass:  $20
  • $50 Initiation Fee
Marshall and Francis reminded the Board that financial assistance is available for those who need it.  It was also noted that some YMCA Programming will begin even before the facility is complete!
Wade Cole, ORB Management, came before the Board to advise them that the Construction Contingency Fund is down to $44,378.  After some discussion, the County Board authorized transferring $67,764 from the Uncommitted One Percent Funds to the Community Center Project.  Just under $500,000 remains in the Uncommitted One Percent Funds.  

Tennis Courts Walkway and Drainage
Construction of the road between the existing tennis courts and the Cook County Community YMCA (aka YMCA) exposed faulty drainage in the SE corner of the northern courts.  Per Wade Cole, this problem has been resolved by connecting the existing drain tile to the YMCA Building drain tile.

The issue of accessibility to both the north and south tennis courts has also been raised.  Per Wade Cole and Dan Miller, ORB and JLG will work (at no charge) to design and manage the installation of an accessible sidewalk connecting the north and south courts along the east side.  Drainage from the surface of the north courts will also be addressed. 

This work on the tennis courts is not part of the current YMCA construction project and per Braidy Powers could be paid from the County Rec Fund.  The Board authorized Cole and Miller to design the sidewalk and drainage system and determine associated costs for Board consideration on July 16.

Fire Evacuation/Fire Drill Instructions
Janet Simonen went over the Fire Evacuation and Fire Drill procedures with the County Board.  A Fire Drill is being planned in the near future.

Cook County Administrator Position
The County Board met via Skype with David Unmacht of Springsted.  The purpose of this meeting was to review and modify the Informational Sheet being created by Springsted to solicit applications for the newly created Cook County Administrator position.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the final meeting minutes may be obtained by going to the Cook County Website or by contacting Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602.  A video of this meeting in its entirety will be available on Boreal.TV.