Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting: ATVs, Blacksmith Shop, YMCA

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, and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Superior Cycling Association
Adam Harju of the Superior Cycling Association came before the Board to request the County support the Federal Recreational Trails Program Grant application for extending mountain bike trails in Cook County.  The Board agreed unanimously to be the applicant for this grant and ultimately, the fiscal agent.  This project proposes to construct an extension of Cook County Mountain Bike "single track" trails by (2) miles at the Pincushion Recreation Area and (2) miles at the Britton Peak Trailhead for a total of (4) additional miles.

Cook County Historical Society (CCHS)
Cook County Historical Society Director Carrie McHugh and President Gene Erickson came before the County Board to request the County support the Historical Society (CCHS) in its quest to purchase Bally's Blacksmith Shop property for $130,000.  Specifically, they requested the County be the Purchaser of the Blacksmith Shop as recommended by the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) in order to be more successful in the pursuit of funding from the MHS.  The County Board authorized entering into a Purchase Agreement with the owners of the Blacksmith Shop for $130,000 with $2000 earnest money, subject to a Phase I Environmental test, successful financing by grant or fundraising, marketable title and County Attorney's Office review.  Time is of the essence in getting the Purchase Agreement in place as the grants are due March 15, 2013.

Schroeder Survey
Contracted County Surveyor Wayne Hensche came before the County Board to present the completed survey information, plat, costs and proposed assessments for the Schroeder Survey which was requested by private landowners and approved by both the Schroeder Town Board and Cook County Board.  The Board approved the plat and set the Public Hearing for March 12, 2013 at 10 am to assess the survey expense.  If you have questions or need information about this process, feel free to contact County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers at 387-3646.

Norpine Trail Association
The Board agreed to support a grant application to the MN DNR for the Federal Recreational Trail Program 2013 Equipment Grant Application.  The County agreed to act as fiscal agent should this grant be awarded to Cook County.  A 25% match is being provided by Cascade Lodge and Solbakken Resort.

ARMER Radio Update
Information Systems Director Danna MacKenzie and Rowan Watkins, Sheriff Mark Falk and Deputy Leif Lunde came before the County Board to provide an update on  Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response (ARMER) installation and use in Cook County.  Current and future users of ARMER in Cook County include Law Enforcement, Highway Department, Grand Portage, Fire Departments.  Indicators are good that Cook County will received partial funding from FEMA to help pay for radios for the volunteer fire departments.  A County-wide Radio Users email list is being compiled so that all users may be kept informed about radio issues both as the ARMER project is implemented and operating.

Highway Department
Assistant County Engineer, Sam Muntean, came before the Board to request authorization to solicit bids for the CSAH 7 Rehabilitation project; the Board approved this request. This project will be paid for using State Aid funds.  Muntean reported that the project is due to start in June 2013 and will take 10 weeks to complete. The type of work to be done includes culvert repairs and replacement, bituminous removal, bituminous surfacing, aggregate base, aggregate shouldering.  This work is slated for CSAH 7 between Highway 61 and CSAH 6.

PUBLIC HEARING on Cook County ATV Ordinance
A Public Hearing was held to consider removal of the ATV Ordinance expiration/sunset provision.  In addition, the Cook County Highway Engineer, David Betts, recommended the ATV Ordinance be changed to allow ATVs on the Gunflint Trail up to County Road 60.  In the audience were approximately 20 people.  Paul James spoke in favor of making the ATV Ordinance permanent.  John Bottger said he commended the ATV riders and hadn't seen any problems. The Board voted unanimously to make the Ordinance permanent, expand riding on the Gunflint Trail up to County Road 60, and make some administrative changes to better identify roads.

Veteran's Services
Commissioner Sue Hakes reported that both she and County Veteran's Service Officer (VSO) Clarence Everson attended a meeting sponsored by ARDC in Duluth last Friday.  The purpose of the meeting was to dialogue with other NE Minnesota County Commissioners and VSOs, ARDC Staff, MN Dot, MACV, and AEOA to identify common concerns for Veteran's living in rural MN.  Most of the discussion focused on providing Veterans with better access to medical care whether it be through improved transportation, expanding CBOC medical facilities in the area, or restoring fee-based medical services.  Hakes gave a short presentation about the recent FUTURES Workshop she attended at Camp Ripley to discuss Veteran's issues.  The group is eager to move forward on this work and next steps are being identified at the local, State and Federal levels.

Assessor's Office Staffing Request
Jan Hall led a discussion regarding the need for additional staffing in the Assessor's Office. The Board discussed several options including a) hiring a full-time employee, and b) hiring a year-round employee for 28 hours/week and training an existing County employee to fill in 1 day/week.  Hall recommended the subcommittee regroup with County Assessor Betty Schultz to discuss these options further.

Cook County Family YMCA Project
The County Board held a work session to discuss the Cook County Family YMCA.  Also present were Attorney Ken Donovan from Fryberger, Tim Scannell, Braidy Powers, Janet Simonen, Wade Cole and Mark Kragenbring from ORB and Dan Miller from JLG Architects.

Wade Cole gave an overview of the changes to the floor plan and cost/scope reductions as recommended to the County Board by the CCFY Steering Committee.  The Board approved the floor plan.  They also reviewed the Bid Items to determine what work, if any, should be re-bid.  After a lengthy discussion, the Board voted to re-bid (2) packages: Earthwork and Storefront. The remainder of the bids were approved to the low bidders contingent upon an acceptable contract which includes value engineering changes.

The CCFY Steering Committee passed a motion to "recommend that the County take any 1% funds unallocated to be held in reserve for the CCFY project and any outdoor county recreation projects as part of the Community Center project."  Hakes brought this recommendation before the Board but it was voted down 2-3 (Aye: Hakes and Martinson, Nay:  Doo-Kirk, Gamble, Hall).

Commissioner Hakes expressed her concern that the unallocated ~$500K of 1% funding be put in reserve until all existing 1% projects were completed and made this motion which passed unanimously. It was agreed that this reserve was not dedicated for any specific project.

Last note:  The Steering Committee is working extremely hard to plan for the inclusion of a water slide at the opening of the facility.  And, in response to community requests and feedback, they have re-prioritized bleachers in the gymnasium and will work hard to keep those in the plan.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the official Meeting Minutes will be made available on the County Website or by calling Janet Simonen at 387-3602.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.