Sunday, October 13, 2013

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.