July 2, 2015


Cook Hospital starts process for possible Nursing Home expansion

The Cook Nursing Home, which is licensed for 13 rooms, could undergo an expansion that would increase the total to 28 rooms, all single-patient, with the total new space coming to 16,000 square feet and costing around $7 million. The present 13 rooms are double occupancy except for one that has four patients. The Cook-Orr Healthcare District board, at their regular meeting last Tuesday in the hospital board room at 6 p.m., approved the next step to update and improve the Nursing Home. The hospital is applying for a grant that the last Minnesota Legislature approved which could bring $100,000 a year to help pay for the expansion. There will be no levy increase for this expansion.
The Nursing Home now has 13 rooms with 12 being double and one a four-patient room. The expansion would create all private rooms with two being rooms that could connect for a husband/wife suite. Administrator Teresa Debevec will start the process for the expansion by meeting with the architects and asking for RFPs (Request For Proposals) from construction management firms.
The board also approved propane bids for 2015-2017 with Edwards Oil and North Country Propane getting the bids at $.6829 a gallon.
The Credentialing Committee approved the appointments of Jeffrey Willis, DO (teleradiography), and Martin Dib, MD (St. Luke's Cardiology). They also approved the reappointments for 23 other teleradiologists.
Debevec informed the board that the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) now has an Advanced Trustee Certification Program and board members who have completed the program are now eligible for enrolling in the advanced program. This new, advanced program offers trustees guidance to ensure excellence, innovation and accountability in health care governance. Board members Mike Enzmann, Wendy Long, Marge Hyppa, Jolene Blake, Eric Pederson, Barb Johnson, Don Potter and Shirley Sanborn are currently certified.
For the month of May, the hospital had a loss of $85,414 in operations compared to a budgeted loss of $44,691. The year-to-date report for operations shows a loss of $440,684 compared to a budgeted loss of $302,129. With non-operating income added in, the hospital had a $21,865 profit against a budgeted profit of $66,310. The year-to-date profit with non-operating income added in was $196,934 compared to a budgeted profit of $252,870.

Cook City Council hears citizen concerns

By A.J. Shuster
Much of the short Cook City Council meeting of June 25 was taken up with the concerns of a citizen-business owner. He had questions and comments regarding city water costs, Main Street lighting, presence of county deputies, lack of new housing starts, Chamber of Commerce attendance, among others. The council responded to each issue, and said they welcome all reasoned conversations from the people they serve.
Peter Koskinen, representing Frandsen Bank, was on hand to answer any questions regarding a resolution which calls for a Public Hearing on a project for debt consolidation for Cook Area Health Services Inc. This is not a financial liability for the City, but government regulations require funds to go through the City. The resolution was passed, and the hearing will be held at City Hall on July 23 at 6 p.m.
The Vermilion Motel project will get under way when Mesabi Bituminous finishes its work. Jack Luecken received permission, contingent on license renewal and insurance coverage, to fence in the area behind the Old Muni to hold activities, such as bean bag toss games.
Visiting the council meeting were Rick and Betsy Clark, realtors from Tower. The council informally asked their view on housing in Cook, including the lack of many new housing starts. They shared that several homes, abandoned or foreclosed, have been recently purchased and remodeled. While Cook is not seeing the new home building projects that can be seen in Buhl (situated between two mines), there is also not the same rate as foreclosures.
In the Council Forum, thanks was expressed for the start of the Farmers Market, and the huge success of the Lions Club sale, as well as Friends of the Library's book sale. These activities also benefited other downtown businesses. Around Halloween there will be a "mini" Lions sale and Friends of the Library book sale. Northwoods Friends of the Arts is making a difference in the community, even with helping the Library Summer Reading Program.

Citizens appeal to County Board for review of decision on road

The St. Louis County Board held its June 23 meeting at the Tower Civic Center and heard presentations by several area citizens, including Sally Lammi, on a 10-mile stretch of road on Highway 715, between County Road 21 and State Highway 135. The road is known locally as Pike River Drive or the "Whiskey Road." At one point the County was considering rerouting that section, but decided that would be cost prohibitive. The action has become necessary to allow for expansion of mining operations in that area.
A petition has been signed and citizens are adamant about preserving the roadway. The headwaters of Pike River runs parallel to a portion of the road. The Board heard the arguments, both pro and con, but took no action since the item did not appear on the agenda.
Also appearing before the Board was Steven Lotz, a member of the Vermilion Lake Town Board, who asked that the County review the condition of County Road 26, especially in the Pike River area. That roadway had suffered heavy damage when it was used as a detour several years ago. Again, because the item was not on the agenda, the board took no action.
The Board gave unanimous approval to a contract with the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office for services beginning July 1, and the appointment of Angelique Quinn Strobl, MD, as the new St. Louis County Medical Examiner. After careful consideration, the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office and Dr. Strobl were determined to have the best business model to serve the County's needs. Their proposal includes the use of a team of on-site, on-call medical examiner investigators in order to maintain a local presence and ensure as rapid a response as possible to assist law enforcement, emergency responders and families.
Dr. Strobl is a certified forensic pathologist and is the chief medical examiner for Anoka County.
Dr. Thomas Uncini of Lakeland Pathology, PA, who has been serving as chief medical examiner since 1998, has indicated that he was no longer interested in serving in that capacity.
In other action last Tuesday, the Board approved a provision passed by the 2015 Minnesota Legislature that allows several Park Point (Duluth area) residents to buy 36 small, noncon-forming parcels of county-managed tax forfeited land directly adjacent to the property.

Orr's 'Fun Day at the Bay' Celebration this Friday has community hopping

A lot of communities will celebrate our country's birth this coming Saturday, on the 4th of July, but the City of Orr is ahead of all of them. They are having their celebration this Friday, July 3, and it is a fun-filled all-day event.
To start off, you can have a pancake breakfast at the Orr American Legion. This goes from 7 to 10 a.m. Then head up to the tennis courts, pay a small fee and walk or run the Orr 5K Walk/Run. Sign up is from 8 to 8:45 a.m. with the walk/run starting at 9 a.m. Kids can sign up for a free fun run at 10 a.m. and race at 10:15 a.m. This is a fun event, so don't worry if you can't run, or take too long walking. Have fun.
The Orr Community Library will be having a book sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with funds being used to expand the offerings of the community library.
Of course, there will be the usual craft fair in the Legion Building from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yeah, there will be baked goods for sale, too.
The highlight of the day is the kids' parade at noon for ages 12 and under. This parade will start at Lumber-Orr-Hardware and will be led by the Canadian Highlanders, a fixture in this event.
At 1 p.m., the Royalty Crowning and Parade Winners announcement will take place at the American Legion.
There will be live entertainment during the day, led by the "Beefeater Brothers."
There are many other events, including the Sawdust Dig at 5 p.m. where $300 in silver dollars will be hidden. At 6:30 p.m. the unique boat parade on Pelican Lake will take place.
If you want a thrill, at 7 p.m., there will be hot air balloon rides, courtesy of Re/Max Lake Country at the old Orr school. Donations will be accepted for the Orr Community Center Fund.
Ending the day will be a street dance featuring "Forty Below" at the Orr Muni and then the fabulous fireworks at dusk.
This patriotic event is put on by the Orr Chamber of Commerce and the Pelican Lake Resort Association.
Get a head start this Friday in Orr on your celebration of our country's 239th birthday.


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

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