Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14 County Board Meeting: School Trust Land, Highway Department Facility, Gunflint Trail signs, Cook County Community YMCA

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 and Personnel Secretary/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Highway Department, David Betts, Russell Klegstad, Sam Muntean
The Board authorized the Highway Department to advertise for bids for Calcium Chloride, Winter Sand, and SGSD Summer Maintenance.

The County Board authorized the Highway Department to submit a request for Federal Surplus Equipment that is available for an administrative fee between 5 and 10 percent of the original purchase price.  Cook County will be requesting a roller compactor, 2004 Polaris Ranger UTV, 2004 Kuboto RTV 900 UTV, 2008 Kawasaki Prairie 360 ATV, Terex RL-4000 Generator Light Sets for a total cost of $9425 plus shipping.  This equipment will eliminate the need to rent this equipment.  There is no guarantee that Cook County will be selected to purchase this equipment.

County Engineer, David Betts, walked the County Board through the Highway Department's 2013-2017 Transportation Improvement Plan.  The 2013-2017 Plan consists of (8) projects for a total estimated constuction cost of $11,261,000.  District 3 Projects include:

1) Bituminous replacement on 5.9 miles of CSAH 7 between Highway 61 and CSAH 6, as well as replacement of several culverts.  The project cost is estimated at $2,800,000 plus engineering costs and will be paid for with CSAH funds.  Completion is expected in August 2013.

2)  Bituminous replacement on 2.5 miles of CSAH 7 from CSAH 6 to CSAH 15. Culverts need repair, drainage improvements are necessary.  Additionally, 0.6 miles of this roadway is in an urban section where catch basins need to be repaired, and damaged curb and gutter sections need to be replaced.  This work is planned for 2017.

3)  Chevron Signs at Curves and Intersection Lighting is planned for 2015 on CSAH 7 for 2015.  Informational meetings seeking public input on lighting will be planned with serious weight given to public opinion on the lighting.

A copy of the Transportation Improvement Plan is available from the Highway Department or by contacting Sue Hakes directly.

Jeff Oertel of Oertel Architects, Ltd, presented their "Cook County Highway Department: Condition Assessment and Needs Report" resulting from 18 months of assessment and study.  Oertel identified some significant problems in the existing facility including exhaust in work areas and storage.  The Report provided (4) Options ranging from ~$5M to $7,653,500.  Also in need of replacement and upgrading are the Hovland and Tofte Satellite Shops with estimated replacement costs of $569,200 and $544,200 respectively.  Commissioner Hakes asked about working with the City of Grand Marais on a joint facility to reduce expenses to both County and City taxpayers.  The Board agreed to discuss this further at the next Quarterly Highway Department meeting.

Exchange/Purchase of School Trust Fund Land in the BWCAW
Elizabeth Schleif, US Forest Service Realty Specialist, and Aaron VandeLinde, MN DNR School Trust Land Administrator, came before the County Board to give an update on the Exchange/Purchase of School Trust Lands in the BWCAW in Cook, Lake and St. Louis Counties.  Schlief and VandeLinde informed the Board that the Forest Service and the State of MN are working collaboratively to prepare a feasibility analysis of a formal proposal for an exchange of approximately 30,000 acres based on the recommendation of a working group established by the State Legislature.  This group was comprised of representatives from the US Forest Service, the State of MN, and interested stakeholders from environmental groups, timber industry, mining interest and local government units.  In addition, the Forest Service is actively seeking funds and opportunities to partner on the purchase of the portion of School Trust Lands that are not part of the State Land Exchange proposal.  State Legislation passed in 2012 authorizes the transfer of School Trust Lands in the BWCAW to the Federal Government for national forest system lands outside of the Wilderness through both purchase and exchange.

Commissioners Martinson and Hakes expressed frustration at not always being included in the NE MN Meetings with USFS, MN DNR, and other local government officials on this matter. The role of Cook County may be small, but it is important to Cook County and we are a stakeholder.  Both Schlief and VandeLinde agreed to include Cook County in future meetings.

Assessor/Land Commissioner
The Board approved an abatement application from Great River Energy as recommended by Assessor/Land Commissioner Betty Schultz.

Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ)
OPZ Director Tim Nelson presented the two bids received for performing septic inspections on McFarland, Greenwood and Tom Lakes.  Both bidders are qualified. The Board approved a motion to accept the low bid from Jeff Crosby and Tom Rouinsky of Lakehead Trucking in Duluth.  Crosby has worked for Cook County in this capacity in the past.  The work will be done this summer.

Cook County Community YMCA
Wade Cole of ORB Management, came before the County Board for to get formal approval for (3) project change orders:  lift, miscellaneous metals package, gyp board for the roof system.  The Board approved all (3) change orders.  The Board also approved the award for the low painting bid to Northern Paint & Drywall and $67,763 for the State Building Permit and Plan Review.

Shannon's, Inc., of Hibbing, is the HVAC Contractor; Shannon's proposed engineering changes were reviewed and approved by the Design Group, Inc., also of Hibbing.  As a redsult, The Design Group, Inc. will be the HVAC engineer of record instead of Dunham. The Board approved this change based on the recommendation by ORB Management, JLG Architects and Shannon's Inc.

The floor plan that was agreed to by ISD166 for the new Community Center included (2) renovated locker rooms in the new facility.  When the floor plan changed to reduce costs, the plan was changed to repaint and refurbish the old Girl's Locker Room and NOT divide it into two separate locker rooms.  The 2nd Locker Room will be adjacent to the Elementary Gym.  The School Board passed a motion agreeing to this, but included the installation of a $6000 security door to be paid for by the County in the motion.

The renovation of the Elementary Gym locker room and the Security Door may not be paid for with 1% sales tax funds because they are not a part of the new facility and will be paid from the Building Fund. The County Board previously approved paying for the locker room (~$10K) but today voted 4-1 against paying for the Security Door. Commissioner Hakes was the sole vote in support.  Hakes explained that she supported financing the door as part of the redesign of the floor plan resulting in a savings of ~$80K and to maintain a positive working relationship with the School Board.  (UPDATE:  Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers called Commissioner Hakes after the meeting to inform her that upon investigation it was confirmed that the County Board had already passed a motion to pay for the Security Door from the Building Fund on March 19 and that the March 19 motion still stands.)

Commissioner Hakes reported that the Community Center Steering Committee recommended a name change from Cook County Family YMCA to Cook County Community YMCA. The Steering Committee recommended this change to reflect the entire Cook County Community.  The Board approved this change.  Hakes also reported that a Facebook Page for the Cook County Community YMCA will be  "owned" by the YMCA and managed by Emily Marshall, Branch Executive Director.  And, the County Board approved Commissioner Hakes to be the the County's representative on the Local Board for the Cook County Community YMCA.  Hakes said she was happy to fill this role, or step aside if another Board member wanted the position. The local Y Board will have a representative from the County, City and ISD166, as well as members of the Public.  Marshall is working on a Board Development Plan now.

Electric Easement and Power Relocation
Mike Roth, Grand Marais City Administrator, came before the Board to request an easement for relocating and going underground with the electrical service near the existing Community Center and tennis courts.  The current above ground lines are difficult to access.  The City, County, and Arrowhead Electric will share the cost with the County's portion being $2425.

Jim Wiinanen, Emergency Management Director 
The Board approved Jim Wiinanen's request to apply for a Hazard Mitigation Assistance Planning Grant.

Miscellaneous, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers
-  The Board approved the Letter from the Office of the State Auditor outlining the procedures, scope, objectives and management responsibilities for the 2012 audit to be performed by the State.

-  The Board approved (2) resolutions for Snowmobile Trails Assistance and Ski Trails Assistance in which the County agrees to act at the legal sponsor and fiscal agent.

-  The Board approved a contract with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters to provide maintenance, monitoring and permitting services at Sag Lake Parking Lots for the 2013 season.  The contract includes an increase in cost from $230/week to $250/week.

-  The Board approved a Revolving Loan Fund in the amount of $75,000 for Todd Miller for an addition to his rental property on 4th Avenue West in Grand Marais.

-  Cook County has agreed to share in the cost for critically needed capital improvements at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center (NERCC).  Financial responsibility is prorated between Carlton, Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis Counties.  Cook County's usage of NERCC represents 1.36%.

Cook County Administrator Hiring Process
Commissioners Garry Gamble and Bruce Martinson have taken the lead on the process to hire a County Administrator by gathering input from County Department Heads.  They have also scheduled a Public Information/Public Input meeting on May 22 at 7:00 pm at the Community Center.  Mark your calenders!

Historical Gunflint Trail Signage 
The Gunflint Historical Society, lead by John Schloot, has been working to restore the historical Gunflint Trail Signage located at the original entrance to the Trail. Cost to paint and repair the signs and concrete is estimated at $7500.  The Gunflint Historical Society has pledged $3500 while the Cook County Historical Society, City of Grand Marais and Cook County have all pledged $1500 for a total of $8000.  The work will be done this summer.

Cook County Board of Commissioner's Public Comment Period Review
Commissioner Gamble asked the Board to review the Pubic Comment Period Guidelines.  This issue will be added to the 5/21/2013 Board Meeting agenda for discussion.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes may be obtained by calling Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602 or by going to the Cook County website.  A video of this meeting in its entirety may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.