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Commissioner's Minutes - June 24, 2008



Grand Marais, Minnesota

June 24, 2008


The Board met in regular session this 24th day of June, 2008, at the Courthouse in Grand Marais, Minnesota.


The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. with the following members present: Commissioners Fenwick, Martinson, Johnson, and Sobanja.  Absent:  Commissioner Hall.


County Board Chair Martinson led the Commissioners in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Motion was made by Johnson, seconded by Sobanja, and carried to approve the agenda for the meeting as presented.



A. Center for Rural Affairs newsletter, June 2008.  Information.


B.  Letter from U.S. Forest Service, 6/13/08, re: Maple Hill Project.  Information.


C.  Letter from MN Dept of Human Services, 6/12/08, re: 2008 Mental Health Grant Awards.                  Information.


D.  MN Transportation Alliance Legislative Update, 6/17/08.  Information.


E.  Memo from North Shore Management Board, 6/13/08, re: 2008 Projects.  Information.


F. University of MN Center for Transportation Studies REPORT, June 2008.  Information.


G.  Materials for 6/12/08 NE MN Office of Job Training Elected Official Board meeting.                           Information.


H.  Materials for 6/19/08 Cook County Hospital District board meeting.  Information.


I.  Memo from County Attorney Tim Scannell, 6/11/08, re: MN Open Meeting Law.  Information.


J.  Cook County Board of Commissioner meeting minutes for 5/20/08.  Motion was made by                   Johnson, seconded by Sobanja, and carried to approve the County Board minutes as presented            with one correction.


K.  Cook County Soil & Water Conservation meeting minutes for 4/30/08.  Information.


L.  Materials for 6/20/08 meeting of Arrowhead Regional Corrections board.  Information.


Brian Silence, Maintenance Director, appeared before the Board.  Silence reported that he obtained quotes for the repair of the Courthouse roof.  Following discussion, motion was made by Sobanja, seconded by Johnson, and carried to have A.W. Kuettel and Sons, Inc., install a pre-finished metal cap flashing on the perimeter parapet well in the amount of $15,275.00, with money to come from the County Building Fund.


Tim Nelson, Planning Director, appeared before the Board.  Nelson presented a Conditional Use Permit request from Bill Sjoberg and B & B Greenwood Lake Properties to conduct gravel-mining operations near Thompson Lake. Nelson reported that the property is a twenty (20) acre parcel zoned Forest agricultural residential-2. Gravel mines are a conditional use in any zone district.  Commissioner Johnson expressed his concerns regarding work conducted on the site to date.  Following discussion, Commissioner Sobanja moved the adoption of the following resolution and upon seconding by Commissioner Fenwick was adopted by the following vote:  Ayes - Fenwick, Martinson, Sobanja.  Nays - Johnson.



                                              COOK COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

                                      RESOLUTION OF FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION

BE IT RESOLVED, that upon recommendation of the Cook County Planning Commission, and after public hearing duly held on June 11, 2008 the following CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT  is granted, subject to the noted conditions:

William Sjoberg, request for CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT to operate a gravel mine near Thompson Lake. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the County Auditor is directed to file a certified copy of this resolution with the County Recorder.


•1.      This permit is granted for a one-year period with the opportunity to renew for one-year periods after rehearing.

•2.      A minimum of 200-foot setback shall be maintained from Thompson Creek.  No gravel, soil or vegetation shall be removed from this setback area.

•3.      A minimum of 50-foot setback shall be maintained from all other property lines.

•4.      There will be no mining in the northeast corner of the property (on the north side of Thompson Creek).

•5.      No more than 5 acres shall be open for excavation at any given time.

•6.      Final grade of slopes shall range from 3:0 to 4:0 as recommended in Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.

•7.      The Restoration Plan recommended by Wayne Seidel will be adapted to this project by the applicants.

•8.      Operating slopes will be maintained at a 3:1 ration at the end of each operational day.

•9.      Hours will be limited to Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

•10.  Vegetation shall be re-established upon termination of permit or completion of operation as specified in the restoration plan within one year.

•11.  No crushing, screening, washing or hot mix will be allowed at this site.

•12.  No petroleum products or other hazardous substances shall be stored on site except inside a building on a concrete floor.

•13.  Any additional recommendations by Wayne Seidel or Bill Lane will be incorporated into the Storm Water, Restoration, and Erosion and Sediment Control Plans.

•14.  Any required berms, water retention ponds, erosion control & storm water management measures are to be in place prior to the commencement of the gravel mining operations, which will be verified and approved by the County Storm Water Specialist.

Diane Booth, Cook County Community Center Manager, appeared before the Board.  Booth provided a report from Barr Engineering, giving an engineers opinion regarding the cost to complete the stormwater plan at the Community Center.  New estimated cost was $151,440.00.  Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers was presented and reported that there was sufficient money in the Park & Recreation Fund that could be used to fund this project, if desired.  Following discussion, motion was made by Sobanja, seconded by Fenwick, and carried to proceed with the stormwater plan for the Community Center by securing bids for said project. 


Jim Wiinanen, Emergency Management Director, appeared before the Board.  Wiinanen reported that the County staff was trying to secure emergency State as well as FEMA funds to pay for road repairs following the June 2008 flash flood event.  Wiinanen presented a disaster declaration resolution, and recommended that the County Board adopt it to facilitate this funding effort.  Commissioner Fenwick        moved the adoption of the following resolution and upon seconding by Commissioner Sobanja                  was adopted by unanimous yea vote of all members present:





WHEREAS, the County of Cook has sustained severe losses of major proportion, caused by the Flood Event which began on June 6, 2008; and


WHEREAS, Cook County is a public entity within the State of Minnesota; and


WHEREAS, the cost of recovery from this disaster is beyond the resources available within the county, and state and federal resources are necessary;


NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,  that the Board of County Commissioners, for and on behalf of the citizens of Cook County, request the Governor of the State of Minnesota to petition the President of the United States to declare the County of Cook, Minnesota, to be a major disaster area through appropriate channels.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this request is for:

•1.      The Public Assistance (Infrastructure Support) and Human Service Programs as offered through P.L. 93-288 and 106.390

•2.      The Hazard Mitigation Program, as offered through P.L. 93-288 and 106.390


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Cook County Emergency Management Director is authorized to coordinate the damage survey teams with local government, and assist in the administration of the disaster recovery process, as needed.


Commissioner Johnson moved the adoption of the following resolution and upon seconding by Commissioner Fenwick was adopted by unanimous yea vote of all members present:


                                                             RESOLUTION NO. 2008-54

BE IT RESOLVED, that the following claims totaling $ 35,479.21 having been audited and found to be true and correct claims against Cook County, are approved and the Auditor-Treasurer is hereby authorized to draw warrants in payment of said claims:

Revenue Fund

Bucks Hardware Hank                               125.32

Bucks Radio Shack                                       20.47

Cook County News Herald Inc                  178.25

Cook County Star                                       112.70

Dalco                                                             79.29

E R Perry Signs LLC                                    69.23

Fair Hills Inc                                               546.00

Fenwick/Robert                                          279.65

Fourth Meridian Land Surveys                   996.57

Fryberger Buchanna Smith L T               2,962.16

G & G Septic LLC                                     476.10

Galls Incorporated                                        30.96

Halberg/LeRoy                                           630.86

Holiday                                                       126.37

Johns Twin Ports Recycling                     1,194.92

Joynes Dept Store                                           4.57

Lane/William                                                 74.00

Mikes Holiday Grand Marais                       11.37

MN Alliance on Crime                                  65.00

MN Coalition for Battered Women              75.00

MN County Attorneys Assn                         32.62

N E H A                                                        95.00

Nelson Machine Products                           550.00

O'Phelan/Michael J                                  1,339.99

Pedersons Disposal                                     768.83

Pitney Bowes                                              800.35

Pomps Tire Service Inc                            1,076.20

Powers/Braidy                                              24.24

Quill Corp                                                1,054.96

Reliable Office Supplies                             190.56

Scannell/Timothy                                          27.85

Steves Sports & Auto                                 314.80

Stone/Clifford                                             259.23

Tire and Auto Lodge                                    33.00

Twin Ports Paper & Supply                          77.38

U S Records                                                694.11

Wiinanen/James                                          566.75

Xerox Corp                                                   49.86

Xerox Corp                                                 253.57

Road & Bridge Fund

Blomberg/Robert                                          49.00

S J Bautch Construction                        17,176.25


        Pineview Convenience                          94.00

Building Fund

Chucks Heating & Refrig                           293.62

Nosker Plumbing                                        340.00

Airport Fund

Bucks Hardware Hank                                 14.90

Duluth Paper & Specialties Co                     54.96

Grainger                                                        25.11

Pedersons Disposal                                       46.80

Soil & Water Conservation Fund

Beaster/Tristan                                            116.15

C D W Government Inc                             359.28

R M B Environmental Laboratory              338.35

Wiinenan/Rebecca                                      302.73      


Braidy Powers, Auditor-Treasurer, appeared before the Board with several issues.  Powers reported that the May 22, 2007 County Board minutes showed approval of a $5,000 county contribution from the Park & Rec Fund to the Sweetheart Bluff handicap access trail.  The request from Harbor Friends for this project was for $6,000.  To change the County contribution to $6,000, the Board should amend the May 22 motion.  Following discussion, motion was made by Fenwick, seconded by Johnson, and carried to clarify the May 22, 2007 County Board minutes to reflect that the County will contribute $6,000 toward the Sweetheart Bluff handicap access trail.


Powers and the Board reviewed the 2009 budget calendar and hearing dates.  No action was needed. 


Powers presented a capital purchase request from Sheriff Mark Falk for a new 2008 Yamaha Rhino fuel injected 700 class two ATV.  This ATV would be used for Search & Rescue as well as Law Enforcement purposes.  Cost of the purchase is $9,012 plus tax and accessories, which would be purchased using the 2007-2008 State of Minnesota Off Highway Vehicle Grant Funding.  Motion was made by Fenwick, seconded by Johnson, and carried to approve the ATV capital purchase request as presented.


Powers reported that the IRS maximum mileage reimbursement rate increased to $.585 cents per mile for the period July 1 through December 31, 2008.  No Board action was needed.


Scott Smith, local Attorney, appeared before the Board.  Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers and Smith reported that legal description for the County's 8-acre parcel located on the east end of the "airport land" is defective and will require a quiet title action to correct.  Smith and Powers also reported that the common boundary between the south line of the airport land and the north line of eleven (11) adjoining private parcels is ambiguous and results in potential and real gaps and overlaps between and among all of these properties.  To resolve those legal description issues and the gaps and overlaps, the common boundary line description must be reformed.  Smith and Powers suggested that this reformation be completed by exchanging quit claim deeds between the County and the individual property owners to permanently revise the legal descriptions.  They also recommended that a 66' right of way easement for Skyport Lane as a County Road be established.  They further recommended that the plat should include the proposed 5 lots that will be sold to the adjoining private property owners so that the substantial gap between the owners present lot lines and Skyport Lane can be closed.  The quiet title action as suggested must be completed before the plat application can be filed.  The Commissioners reviewed a memo from Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, suggesting that Attorney Scott Smith be hired to achieve the objectives regarding the airport land.  Following discussion, motion was made by Fenwick, seconded by Hall, and carried to hire Scott Smith to proceed with quiet title action regarding the airport lands "government lots 9 and 13" and to accomplish the other items as proposed by the County Attorney in his June 13, 2008 memo to the Cook County Board of Commissioners.


Shae Kosmalski, County Highway Engineer, appeared before the Board with several issues.  Kosmalski requested permission to advertise for three professional service contracts to assist in repairing roads following the June 6th flash flood event.  One contract would be for gravel crushing, one would be for professional services regarding the Gunflint Trail reconstruction, and one would be for reconstruction on County Road 13 and a culvert on County Road 6, in addition to the Kimball Creek Bridge reconstruction.  The Kimball Creek Bridge will be funding through Bridge Bonding money and the remaining contracts will be funded from the one million dollars received in State Aid Disaster Relief Funds.  Motion was made by Sobanja, seconded by Fenwick, and carried to advertise for said contracts as presented. 


Commissioner Fenwick noted he attended a broadband high speed Internet meeting on June 25, 2008.  Commissioners Johnson and Martinson attended a June 23, 2008 "After Action" review meeting regarding the June flash flood.


Richard Swanson, Cook County Examiner of Titles, appeared before the Board to discuss property titles issues regarding the County-owned land on Saganaga lake.  Swanson reviewed title issues that surround the conveyance of the Sag Landing property as well as the remnant County forfeited parcel formally owned by the Blankenberg family. Formal easements for private property owners who access their parcels across the Saganaga property were never formally established or recorded.  Swanson would like to proceed to draft a petition and execute a declaration of easement to resolve property title issues and easements in this area.  Motion was made by Johnson, seconded by Fenwick, and carried to execute a declaration of easement and proceed with petitions regarding the Sag Landing and Blankenberg County tax forfeited parcels as presented.


Commissioner Fenwick provided an update of recent State Legislative action, particularly regarding establishment of levy limits for County government.  Fenwick reported that the Association of Minnesota Counties has drafted a response regarding this issue.


Commissioner Martinson provided a status report regarding recent Grand Marais/Cook County Economic Development Authority activities.  Martinson discussed the selling of lots in the Cedar Park Business Development area, the purchase of the Baptist Church for low income rental purposes, and  the Northern Communities Land Trust affordable housing project.  No action was needed.


At 11:40 a.m. a motion was made by Johnson, seconded by Sobanja, and carried to close the regular meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners to discuss pending litigation with a former Cook County employee.  Present at the closed meeting were Commissioners Fenwick, Johnson, Martinson, and Sobanja, in addition to Assistant County Attorney Molly Hicken, Personnel Director Janet Simonen, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, County Sheriff Mark Falk, and Dyan Ebert and Jerry Conway, Attorneys from the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust.


At 12:25 p.m. a motion was made by Fenwick, seconded by Sobanja, and carried to end the closed session and reopen the regular meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The County Board meeting was recessed to 1:00 p.m.


At 1:00 p.m. a joint meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and Grand Marais City Council was held in the City Hall Council Chambers in Grand Marais, MN.  Present were Commissioners Fenwick, Johnson, Martinson, and Sobanja.  Absent was Commissioner Hall.  Present from the City Council were Mayor Evelyn Larsen and City Council members Bill Lenz, Ed Bolstad, Kay Costello, and Tim Kennedy, as well as Grand Marais City Administrator Michael Roth. 


The City Council and County Commissioners discussed the proposed 1% sales tax extension, what projects could be proposed, how a referendum could be conducted, and how the City and County could work towards a joint vision. No formal action was taken.


Cook County Commissioner Robert Fenwick reported that community members were working on a proposed feasibility study to see if broadband high speed Internet could be brought to Cook County.  Members of the group believe that establishment of this infrastructure would be an Economic Development stimulus to the area, as it would allow private individuals to work from home. 



The City Council and County Commissioners agreed to hold another joint meeting on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 1:00 p.m. in the Cook County Courthouse.


There being no further business, motion was made and carried to adjourn.








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