November 26, 2015


ISD 2142 board approves $8 million refinancing, taxpayers to save a million


Taxpayers in the St. Louis County School District, ISD 2142, will see a big savings in their property taxes for the next 10 years. The board, at their regular meeting Monday at 5 p.m. in the Central Office in Virginia, heard the good news from Ehlers that the district was able to sell refinancing bonds for their Building Bonds and the sale gave them an interest rate of 2.13 percent. This will save taxpayers around $100,000 in interest costs each year for 10 years. The savings has to go to the taxpayers. The initial proposal estimated the interest rate would be 2.36 percent to pay off $8.2 million in the bonds that were paying interest over 5 percent. The savings had been estimated at 7 percent, but now will be 9 percent. There were eight bids, with Bairds getting the low bid. The motion to sell the bonds was unanimous.
Prior to the meeting, Curriculum, Technology and Assessment Director Kristi Berlin presided over a learning seminar for board members as they each received an iPad so the board can go paperless on some things. She found that high school students were more under control than the board members, though.
Supt. Steve Sallee reported that the negotiators had met with the teachers, but no agreement had been reached. A closed meeting for the board will be held Dec. 2 to go over strategy and then a study session will be held. Sallee also reported that Northeast Range would like to start a trap shooting club. The trap shooting would be off school grounds and he added that there are several trap shooting clubs in schools around the state. Other board members expressed interest for their school.
Business Manager Kim Johnson's monthly financial report showed cash on hand and investments for the end of October at $9,435,795.92, up from $8,755,980 at the beginning of the month.
The Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy 416 was formally approved.
South Ridge Principal Andrew Bernard reported that the Fall Family Fun Night was a big success. He also said the school had received a $1,800 check from the Rotary in Duluth. The school forest is getting good use, but the benches have been stolen. Enrollment has leveled off.
Cherry Principal Scott Hall reported that Veterans Day was special with a great program. The Honor Guard and Boy Scouts presented the Colors, and the Sixth Grade Choir and High School Band performed. Essays written by Cherry students were read. The Title I program in Cherry is starting back up since they are a Continuing Improvement School. A school used to have Free and Reduced students to get the federal money, but now being in the lower part of the test scores puts a school in the Title I program.
The board also had the first reading of Policy 427, Workload Limits for Certain Special Education Teachers; and also Policy 509, Enrollment of Non-resident Students.
The board next approved the expulsion of Student X1-16 for the remainder of the school year for violent and disruptive behavior in a school location causing harm to himself and posing a potential risk to others in the room.
A grievance by the Minnesota SLCT regarding mileage was settled and approved.
Teacher Rick Pierce received permission to take his Cherry School 8th and 9th graders on a field trip to Superior, Wis., to tour Fraser Shipyard.
The board approved the hiring of Trista Miller as a paraprofessional for Northeast Range, Cherie Seopa as a paraprofessional for Tower-Soudan, Nathan Clifford as a teachers aide for Tower-Soudan, and Robert Petke as a bus driver for South Ridge.
The resignation of assistant volleyball coach Casey Willard at Cherry was accepted.
The employment contracts for Mary Spang, Director of Health Services, and Alice Skaudis, Licensed School Nurse were approved.
Mary Fleetwood was hired as a Title I Special Education teacher.
The board next approved the hiring of the following coaches for 2015-2016:
Cherry School: Boys basketball - Bob Asuma, head coach; Jordan Christianson and Danni Grotberg (half stipend, subject to passing background check), assistant coaches; Girls Basketball - Tim Sauter, head coach; Heather Parenteau and Taylor Sauter (half stipend), assistant coaches.
Northeast Range: Girls Basketball - Paxton Goodsky, assistant coach; Melissa Schroeter, volunteer assistant coach.
South Ridge School: Girls Basketball - Lisa Johnson, head coach; Sam Battaglia, assistant coach.
The meeting adjourned at 6:35 p.m.

Cook City Council will return their 2016 salary

The November Cook City Council meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 19.
The City Council is returning their 2016 salary ($6,600) to the city and designating it to be used towards water rates. This isn't the first time the Cook City Council has done this. They feel it is a privilege and honor to serve the people of Cook and they recognize the burden the water rates put on businesses and homeowners. They have always recognized the fiscal responsibility of protecting the infrastructure improvements.
The Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) approved to consider for one year, a reduction in the agreed PILOT payment from the Cook HRA to the City of Cook from 10 percent to 5 percent. The PILOT payment is distributed to the county and school district so those entities will be contacted and the city attorney for review on the legalities of reducing and the affect to those respective entity budgets.
The city maintenance department will review a sign petition request of the tenants of the Pioneer and Homestead for a speed limit sign.
The Personnel Committee will prepare for the hiring of a Recreation Attendant by the proposed Community Center opening date (by the holiday school vacation season) and winter ice skating season.
Project approvals included:JPJ invoice - $772 - Residential Demolition, Project 15-169; JPJ invoice - $525 - Vermilion Motel, Project 14-969; KGM Contractors invoice - $48,557.69 - 2013 Street Improvement, Project 13-796 (Partial payment); KGM change order - $15,788.70 - 2013 Street Improvement, Project 13-796; CDBG Final Application for North River Street Bridge Project.
Under Library business, a Volunteer policy was adopted and new hours established for 2016 (Tuesday ­ Volunteer Day: 1- 4 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.).
Nancy Reing and Brooke Fischer will be Ambulance Service co-directors while Director Mankowski is away for the winter season.
The Liquor Store has hired Lois Pajari and Gwen Schrecengost as Liquor Store clerk/stockers.
Twenty-two deer were harvested during the recent bow hunt. The count included: 2 Adult Males; 2 Juvenile Males; 15 Female Adults; 3 Female Juveniles.
It was announced that Cook's Country Christmas will be held Friday, Dec. 4. The evening's events will include: Santa at the Comet Theater, and the Virgie Hegg Lights of Love Ceremony, plus other events.
The City will continue their involvement with CIRI (Central Iron Range Initiative ­ Brownsfield Redevelopment Program).

Handberg Road Expansion looking good, landscaping a marked improvement

The Crane Lake Water & Sanitary District board, at their regular meeting Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m., in the Crane Lake Chapel, which was held with Vice Chairman Bruce Beste chairing in the absence of Rob Scott, heard the good news that the Handberg Road Expansion was going well. The landscaping done so far is reported to be a marked improvement.
Jim Orton of Orton Construction is back on the job after recovering from medical problems. He plans to communicate with Sara Heger about the CAR on the Handberg Road. Electrical and control panel work needs to be done at the DNR lift station. The force main has been pressure tested and clean-up needs to be completed.
Orton presented four invoices for septic design work and permitting to St. Louis County for property owners interested in the District's Independent Septic Treatment Service (ISTS) Management System in the Eastern Service Area (ESA). The board moved to approve payment to Orton for the Niemeyer property as their application has been received. Lennart Ostberg, Nelson Road, wishes to upgrade, also.
A motion was made and passed to adopt Resolution 2015-08 Certifying Unpaid and Delinquent Charges of benefited property owners to the St. Louis County Auditor with taxes against each benefited property certified for collection as other taxes are collected.
The board also agreed to continue with the current rates and increase when necessary. The board agreed in 2014 to average user fees.
Advisory Representative John Connaker from the ESA reported that he had received compliments for the board on their ability to work together and with the public.
The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m.


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