June 30, 2016

St. Louis County Schools board approves preliminary deficit budget for next year

By GDA

ISD 2142 - the St. Louis County Schools board, at their regular meeting Monday at the District Office in Virginia, approved the preliminary budget for 2016-2017 which shows General Fund Income of $27,735,004 and Expenses of $28,894,012. With transfers in of $412,792, the preliminary budget showed a deficit of $2,105,817. One reason for the deficit is the projected increase in health insurance of $500,000. Supt. Steve Sallee felt they could cut that insurance deficit by around $100,000.
Business Manager Kim Johnson, who put the budget together, noted that they were very conservative on student enrollment and other items. She reported that they weren't sure what money they would get from the Minnesota Special Education Fund.
Adding in Building Fund, Food Service, etc. brings the income to $34,557,828 and expenses to $36,085,660 for a deficit of $3,334,195. Adding in the fund balance from others, makes the Revenue vs. Expenditures General Fund Unassigned a negative $1,134,591. The unaudited fund balance as of June 30, 2016, was $4,862,027.
Supt. Steve Sallee and Bus. Mgr. Johnson felt there would be further cuts. The board then approved the preliminary budget unanimously.
There were several visitors on hand who wanted to discuss the non-renewal of North Woods Volleyball Coach Tom Burnett's contract for 2016. The board took the renewal of his contract off the agenda at the last meeting.
Jess Blake thanked the board for not renewing Burnett's contract. He said he wanted the players to have a positive experience playing for North Woods.
Kandi Olson noted that last year's Grizzly volleyball team had an 18 and 9 record and noted that she has been an assistant volleyball coach. She told the board they should get both sides and talk to the coach and athletic director. She reported that the Minnesota State High School League has noted that parents complaining has become epidemic.
Nikki Vandervort, whose daughter was a captain for last year's team, said her daughter hated it. She felt Burnett didn't have the tools to capture the spirit.
Tom Beaudry spoke of a game at Chisholm at the end of the season where subs started and shorter players had to play the net. He thought they were put in a position to fail.
A motion by Nancy Glowaski to rescind the non-renewal failed due to lack of a second. Later on, Glowaski said she wouldn't have made that motion, but had read more on this topic from the superintendent.
Kim Jirik presented the annual Q Comp report.
Supt. Steve Sallee thanked Ed Dorman for taking on the policy project, saying, "He did a great job." The district is having trouble with their phone system and Sallee said they were looking to replace it. The heating system for NER was brought up with some questioning why ARI was getting the job. Sallee said they were getting proposals from five or six others.
Getting substitute teachers will be easier for principals and teachers as the district approved a contract with Teachers On Call. They will handle all of the paperwork and if a substitute is needed, a phone call to them should handle it. The district will be charged 26 percent extra for this of the pay the teachers who get $105 a day now get. The district won't have to have insurance on them for liability or workers comp. or Social Security. The board approved the contract.
The consent agenda was approved by all but Glowaski.
A change order for a window in the Northeast Range School in the amount of $9,176.86 was approved.
The board next approved Ferrellgas for propane for Cherry at $0.72 a gallon, Tower-Soudan at $0.899 a gallon, South Ridge at $0.68 a gallon and North Woods at $0.69 a gallon. North Country Propane got the bid for NER at $0.772 a gallon. EMC was awarded the bid for property/liability and auto insurance at a combined package of $145,263.
There are four board positions up for election: Orr, Babbitt-Embarrass, Cotton, and AlBrook, and filings will start Aug. 2 and close Aug. 16.
The resignation of South Ridge teacher Jeremy Digiovanni was accepted.
Cherry has a new principal. The board approved the hiring of Michael S. Johnson.
Michelle Phillips and Ruth Porter were hired for 1.0 FTE Special Ed. at North Woods, and Kathleen Meier for 0.47 FTE Special Ed. at Tower.
Candis Nihart was hired as site secretary for NER, Jay Parenteau as custodian for South Ridge, and Jessica Roy as bus driver for South Ridge.
Mark Fabish was hired as assistant boys basketball coach for NER and LeAnn Adkisson as assistant volleyball coach for Cherry.
Board Chair Chet Larson compli-mented Transportation Director Kay Cornelius for the job she has done.
The meeting adjourned at 6:06 p.m.


Council hears DNR presentation on the possibility of a river access boat landing in Cook

by A.J. Shuster

One of the items up for discussion at the June 23 Cook City Council meeting was the possibility of a river access boat landing. Brad Dekker of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources presented the option and discussed the process. The nearest river access is at Linden Grove, 17 waterway miles downstream. The next closest is at Littlefork. If the City is interested, the DNR would research possible sites and do the work, including adding the Cook site to their map of access points. The City would be responsible for the supplies needed (dock materials, etc.). Maintenance director Buddy Ranta has used both of the sites and had valuable input. Other questions by the council included whether it could be a canoes-only site and whether the City would be held liable for injuries or damaged property. The canoes-only issue would be the City's choice, the DNR would not make that decision. Dekker shared that State tort liability law says that free recreational sites do not have liability (use at your own risk). The council showed favorability to this, not only for local citizenry, but for visitors and for another draw to the community. A vote will come later.
John Jamnick has been collaborating with the Cook Care Center on what can be shared with City funds on infrastructure, such as milling, paving and curbing. Mutual funding does not add up to some of the original plans, with a savings of about $21,000.
Over $18,000 was saved in the Vermilion Hotel project as Tom Musech took the landscaping on himself. This facilitated the payback of the grant.
The Heiam Foundation was granted a temporary liquor license for their Aug. 20 fundraising event. This year it will be held at the newly-completed community center.
Last Chance Liquor will have a position open for a manager to replace Deb Lindgren who will give time to train the hiree. Ernie Seppala is retiring from head of the airport. Jim Prepodnik will replace Ernie, and Mike Christensen will take Jim's position. While Karen Hollanitsch is gone for the summer, Jody Bixby will fill in for her on the Personnel Committee.
Tammy Palmer shared that the Recreation Committee wants to name the facility. They are down to three options. The council supported "Cook Community Center," and its legal address is 510 Gopher Drive. John Jamnick revealed that the desired blacktop of the parking lot would cost $66,000, not including any sidewalks. Palmer said the Committee and Friends of the Park will figure out where to find those funds. The public and townships have given so much already, that it would be wrong to continue seeking funds from them.
Councilor Elizabeth Storm told of the logo contest for the Lake Vermilion Trail. Four judges oversaw 22 entries. Out of the five finalists, the winner was Sue Wolfe.
Approval was given for the 2016 Election Absentee Ballot Board, and for election judges.
Praise was given to Don and Buddy for how nice everything looked for Timber Days. Encouragement was given to remember Wednesday evening Music in the Park and the Saturday Farmers' Market (28 vendors).


Luke's 1st Annual Antique Tractor & Joker Show highlights Orr's 3rd of July Celebration

The annual 3rd of July Celebration at Orr is growing every year. This year a new feature has been added: the 1st Annual Antique Tractor & Joker Show which will be held at the boat landing. To reserve space, call Nels or Luke at 218-757-0191. Registration and parking will take place from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
But wait, there will be more. The pancake breakfast at the Orr American Legion goes from 7 to 10 a.m. The craft fair in the American Legion Post goes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Of course, the very popular 5K Walk/Run will start near the tennis courts. Registration starts at 8 a.m. There will also be a Kids' Free Fun Run at 10:15.
The Beefeater Brothers will be playing at the Legion from 1 to 4 p.m. A new event this year is the Bean Bag Tournament at 3 p.m.
The big event is the Children's Parade starting at noon for ages 0 to 12. The Canadian Highlanders will be back again. And, of course, there will be many food booths starting at 11 a.m.
The special feature that only Orr has is the Boat Parade on Pelican Lake at 6:30 p.m. There are some crazy and patriotic boats out there.
Fireworks will be going off at dusk over Orr Bay, thanks to the Pelican Lake Resort Association.
The complete schedule was in this week's North Country Free Press.


 

Pick up this week's paper for more stories and pictures...

Lake Vermilion Trail logo contest winner announced

Council reviews audit report, approves proposal for new water meters

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