Tuesday, June 11, 2013

County Board Meeting for June 11, 2013: CCEVB Budget Report, Highway Department, Tip of the Trail, County Administrator Hiring Process

Board Chair Janice Hall, along with Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson, were all present for the June 11 County Board Meeting.  Also present were Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen.

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

Cook County Visitor's Bureau (CCVB)
Sally Nankivell, CCVB Executive Director, presented the CCVB Annual Events Budget for May 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014.  Total events income for this period is $494,705 and will be spent supporting a variety of events throughout the year and throughout Cook County.  Nankivell also presented a handout that summarizes the positive impact the CCVB has made by pooling County resources and working together.  Of particular interest is the fact that Cook County lodging tax revenues have out-performed Ely and CPI (Consumer Price Index) since the CCVB organized in 2010.

Commissioners Doo-Kirk and Hakes acknowledged Nankivell's resignation, thanked her for her work and wished her luck in her new position at the Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis.  Nankivell's last day is June 14, 2013.

Information Systems
Rowan Watkins, IT Radio Support Technician, requested Board approval for the Communication Facility Use Agreement from MN DOT to locate ARMER equipment on the county-owned communications tower located in Grand Portage.  The Board approved this request.

Assessor's Office
The Board approved a request from Assessor/Land Commissioner Betty Schultz to contribute a $625 fee required by the State to allow Cook County to "go live" to the State DOR with Certificate of Real Estate Value (CRV) data submission.  This fee will be paid out of the Land Records Improvement fund.

Auditor-Treasurer, Braidy Powers, Miscellaneous
Cook County has been awarded a $130,000 grant from the MN State Historical Society for the purpose of purchasing the Bally Blacksmith Shop.  Cook County will own the facility which will be managed by the Cook County Historical Society.  (Congratulations to the Cook County Historical Society for this success.)

Powers presented a letter from the State Demographer, as required by law, showing the annual population and household estimates for MN counties, cities and townships.  The estimates provided are subject to change and are not considered final until they are released to the MN DOR in July.

The Board reviewed and authorized changes to the Board of Commissioner Per Diem and Expense Policy as recommended by a sub-committee consisting of Powers, Doo-Kirk and Hakes.  The most significant changes to this Policy included:

1.  Paying a per diem to only one primary county representative per committee unless required otherwise by the Joint Powers Entity, the bylaws of the committee, or specific direction of the County Board.

2.  Limiting the per diems paid to alternates serving on a Board to 2 meetings per year or when attending in the absence of the primary representative.

Highway Department
The Board approved a special event permit application from Adam Harju on behalf of Lifetime Fitness for the Lutsen 99er Mountain Bike Race.

The Board approved awarding two projects to the low bidders:  a) Edwin E. Thorseon for the Blended Salt/Sand Stockpile at $27.39/cu. yd., and b) Enviro Tech Services for liquid calcium chloride at $0.905 per gallon.

The Board passed a motion  4-1 (Martinson opposed) to award the summer maintenance grading and gravel contracts to the low bidder, LaBoda Grading, for Evergreen Road, Mile O' Pine and Voyageur's Point.  LaBoda Grading was the only bid received on time.  A second bid was received from Mike Rose Excavating after the bid closing date and was not opened or considered.  No bids were received for West Rosebush Lane so bids will be re-solicited.

The Board authorized hiring Rick Motz as a Maintenance Worker 2 to replace the position vacated by Gary Blomberg starting immediately.

The Board approved a project for the installation of a second driver feedback sign on CSAH 7 east of Sawtooth Elementary between 1st and 3rd Avenues East.  Installing this sign is possible due to a grant awarded through the NE MN Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) with additional funding provided by the Center for Disease Control Community Transformation Grant.  (Congratulations and thanks to Kristin DeArruda Wharton and the Safe Routes to School Team.)

Highway Engineer David Betts notified the Board that the Tofte Fireworks will be conducted on JULY 5th instead of JULY 4th as originally requested.  This change was made so that residents and visitors can enjoy fireworks in Grand Marais on July 4th and in Tofte on July 5th.

The Board authorized a request to stock 1000 cu. yd. of gravel to be purchased at less than $6/cu. yd. while the Ulland Brothers crusher is still located at the Isak Hansen pit on the west end of the county.

Highway Engineer David Betts gave the Board an update on the CSAH 7 project which started last week.  Through value engineering, Betts was able to reduce the cost of the project by $260,000.  Betts said CSAH 7 will be closed to all but local traffic between the intersections with CR45 and CR44 for about a week at the end of June.  The alternate route will run west along CR45 and then south along CR44.

The Board accepted the resignation of Assistant Mechanic Scott Corwin and authorized the Highway Department to advertise for and hire an Assistant Mechanic.  Alternatives to hiring were considered and rejected.

County Veteran's Services Officer (VSO)
The Board authorized the hiring of Patricia Strand as the new County VSO, a position currently held by Clarence Everson.  Due to a change at the State VA, the current arrangement for Grand Portage and Cook County to share a single VSO is, unfortunately, no longer an option.  Everson will continue as the Grand Portage VSO and will also help to train Strand.  (Thank you Clink for the enthusiasm and good work you brought to the County VSO position in serving our Vets!)

Tip of the Trail Property
Cook County is holding a public land sale at 10 AM on Monday, June 24 for the Tip of the Trail Property on Saganaga Lake.  In preparation for this sale, Environmental Health Officer Mitch Everson inspected and concluded that there are three known septic systems on the property, all of which are failing.  The County made a motion authorizing the proper abandonment of these failing systems with a goal of completing this work prior to the public land sale.

Cook County Community YMCA
Commissioner Hakes reported that construction is moving forward at the Y with the completion date still projected for mid-December 2013.  The exterior of the building will be sprayed and cleaned this week which should minimize or eliminate the color variation.  A potential problem with the existing drain tile under the tennis courts has been discovered; options to correct are being considered.  Branch Director, Emily Marshall, has relocated to Grand Marais and is working full-time on the Y Budget, programming, memberships, marketing and staffing.  Stay tuned for the next scheduled tour of the construction site.

Arrowhead Transit Advisory Board
Commissioner Hakes reported on the Arrowhead Transit Advisory Meeting noting that ridership for the bus is down.  Hakes noted that a one-way fare from Grand Marais to Duluth is just $10.  She also said that the bus serves all ages and is not just "the Senior bus".  A social event to raise awareness about riding the bus is being planned for this summer.

County Administrator Hiring Process
The Board made a motion approving an "Agreement for Organizational Management Consulting Services" with Springsted Incorporated subject to review by the County Attorney's Office.  Springsted is being hired to provide professional services in the hiring of a County Administrator.

County Attorney's Office
The County Board discussed the recent action taken by County Attorney Tim Scannell to enter into a contract for professional services with Vernon D. Swanum and whether or not the County Board needed to approve this contract.  The Board had no issue with hiring additional attorney services--in fact the Board supported the decision--but was concerned about the integrity of the process and the lack of communication between Scannell and the Board.  No motions were made, but Braidy Powers will investigate whether the Board is statutorily required to approve the contract.

Meeting Minutes
A copy of the official meeting minutes will be made available at the Cook County website or by calling Janet Simonen at 218/387-3602.  The meeting may also be viewed in its entirety at Boreal.TV.