Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cook County Board Meeting for April 23: Blue Ribbon Award, CUPs, Personnel Decisions, Administrator/Coordinator Hiring Discussion

Vice Chair Bruce Martinson chaired today's County Board Meeting in Board Chair Jan Hall's absence due to illness.  Other Commissioners present were Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble and Sue Hakes.  Also in attendance were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

2013 Blue Ribbon Award
Public Health and Human Services Director, Sue Futterer, was pleased to announce that Cook County has been named as one of Minnesota counties to receive the 2013 Blue Ribbon Award.  The Blue Ribbon County/Tribe award recognizes counties and tribes that exemplify a strong commitment to child abuse and neglect prevention through collaborative efforts of public, non-profit, and community services and activities.  Collaborating partners in this work include: Cook County Public Health and Human Services, Grand Portage Social Services, Grand Portage Tribal Council, Violence Prevention Center, Law Enforcement, Victim/Witness Coordinator, County Attorney's Office.  (I sure hope I've not missed anybody, I'm going from memory which is always risky!).  A special thanks went out to Anna Sandstrom for writing the application although Ms. Sandstrom was modest in saying, "Winning this award was the result of the entire community working together, a truly collaborative effort."  The County Board gave this team a hearty congratulations and thanks!

Office of Planning and Zoning Conditional Use Permits and Interim Use Permit
The County Board approved (3) Conditional Use Permits (CUP) and (1) Interim Use Permit as follows:
-  A CUP was approved to establish a business in the Resort Commercial/Residential zone district on property adjacent to Cook County 5 (Ski Hill Road).  It is the intention of the property owner to establish a winery and brewery to enhance the existing tourist offerings in Cook County.
-  A CUP was approved on Big Bay Point for the homeowner to build an accessory structure in excess of 1000 square feet.  It is the intention of the property owner to build a workshop with a bedroom above.
-  A CUP was approved to allow an increase from 5-acres to 10-acres of active excavation in a gravel pit adjacent to Cook County 27 (Ball Club Road).
-  An Interim Use Permit was granted to allow the use of a mobile home for habitation in the Single Family Residential (R-1) zone district on property adjacent to Cook County 71 (Moose Valley Road).  This Interim Use Permit is granted for 2 years.

County Personnel Matters
The County Board approved comparable worth pay ratings to two previously approved positions:  Assessor's Technical Clerk and Human Services Case Aide.  These pay ratings were studied and recommended by the 2013 Personnel Committee:  Jan Hall, Bruce Martinson, Brian Silence, Betty Schultz, Sue Futterer and Janet Simonen.

The County Board approved the hiring of Jill Pederson as a Technical Clerk in the Assessor's Office.  Janet Simonen reported that 19 applications were received and 7 interviews were conducted.

The County Board discussed its next steps in the process to determine whether to hire a County Administrator, County Coordinator or Personnel Director to replace the retiring Janet Simonen.  The Board is holding a Special Meeting on April 30 to discuss this decision, most importantly what they are looking for in this leadership position.  Simonen retires on August 9.

MN DOT and Arrowhead Regional Development Commission Reps
Todd Campbell, MN DOT Highway 61 Corridor Engineer, came before the County Board to discuss the work plan and issues for Highway 61 as it impacts Cook County.  Also present for this discussion were Tim Goettl, Ginny Storlie and Skip Lamb from the west end.  Of particular note are the 14 mile Mill and Overlay project from CR 34 to 3 miles NE of the Cascade River, Culvert Replacement with single span bridge at Cut Face Creek, and Approach Work and Replacement at the Devil Track River.  Several County Road projects were also discussed including CSAH 4, CSAH 5, CSAH 12 as well as the Gitchi-Gami State Trail.  In addition to multiple questions from the County Board, Goettl, Storlie and Lamb asked several questions about parking at Cascade River, the bike trail, and safety issues near Birch Grove Community Center.  Campbell also reported that MN DOT will be installing a 16" wide rumble strip down the center of Highway 61 from Grand Marais to Grand Portage.

County Highway Department
The County Board authorized a Special Use Permit for the Classic Car Show to be held downtown Grand Marais on Saturday, June 15, 2013.  Mark your calendars; this is a fun event.

County Engineer David Betts informed the Board that Gary Blomberg is retiring effective May 3, 2013; the Board accepted this resignation with regrets.  Blomberg has been with the Highway Department full-time since July 1980 and will be missed.  The County Board authorized David Betts to advertise for a replacement in this position.

County Attorney's Office
County Attorney Tim Scannell requested authorization to purchase (3) IPads for use with Westlaw (on line legal research products) allowing County Attorney Office staff to use tablets in the courtroom and while out of the office.  As a matter of practice, Commissioner Hakes asked County Attorney Scannell if Information Technology Director Danna MacKenzie had reviewed this purchase for cost reasonableness and to ensure all security needs would be met. Scannell argued that there were no security issues and withdrew his request.

The Board approved a contract for Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) to serve as the project manager for developing strategies to complete the work necessary to complete the Gitchi Gami Trail.  This $10,000 planning project is a partnership between the DNR, ARDC, Lake and Cook Counties.  Cook County will pay 1/3 of the $5000 cost-share.

The County Board approved a final resolution to auction the TIP of the Trail property on Saganaga Lake.  This public sale will be conducted at 10:00 am on Monday, June 24 in the Courthouse.  The property will be sold to the highest bidder, but not at less than the appraised value of $350,000.

The County Board approved Jim Stortz as a qualified Wildfire Mitigation Grant Program vendor as recommended by the Firewise Committee.

Cook County Family YMCA
Commissioner Hakes suggested the County Board, Grand Marais City Council, ISD 166 School Board, and other County/City staff tour the Cook County Family YMCA construction site on May 10 at 8:30.  Hakes will work with Y Director Emily Marshall to schedule this tour.  Hakes also said Marshall will be conducting additional tours for the public and other interested parties as the project progresses, so stay tuned!

AEOA Grand Marais Rental Housing Project
Commissioner Hakes reported on the collaborative effort between Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) and the Cook County/Grand Marais EDA to work together to help meet the need for safe, decent, affordable rental units in the Grand Marais/Cook County Comunity.  AEOA will be present at the May 14 EDA Meeting to take some important first steps.

Veteran's Transit and Medical Access 
Commissioner Hakes reported on the most recent of several ARDC sponsored meetings she has been involved in with area Veteran's Service Officers, County Commissioners, AEOA, Tom Albright of Senator Franken's Office, Staff Member from Rick Nolan's office, MN DOT, and others with interest in improving access to medical care for Veteran's.  The problem is arguably twofold:  1)  lack of adequate transportation to medical facilities, and 2) lack of medical resources in rural MN. Next steps for this group include a meeting with VA personnel to explore the feasibility of a) waivers/fee-based services for Veteran's >50 miles from a primary care provider b) local support from medical personnel at one of the Northern MN CBOC facilities (Hibbing or Ely)  by coming to Silver Bay to offer primary care services on a regular basis (2x/month for example), c) securing Federal funds for transportation from Twin Ports to Minneapolis.  Cook County VSO Clarence Everson is also involved in these discussions to bring forward the needs of Cook County Veterans.

AEOA Planning Commitee
Commissioner Hakes was recently appointed the Chair of the newly revived Planning Committee for AEOA.  This Committee will help AEOA set strategic direction based on a recent needs study.

Arrowhead Counties Association
Commissioner Martinson reported on the most recent Arrowhead Counties Association meeting attended by Martinson and Hakes by giving a legislative report on PILT, NERCC funding, and ARMER sales tax exemption.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the official meeting minutes from this meeting will be made available on the Cook County website after they are approved or by calling Janet Simonen at 218 387 3602.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.