October 2, 2014

Eyes of flying world on Cook Airport's 'Fly In'

The sun was bright, not a cloud in the sky on Sunday. It was a perfect day for the Cook Airport Friends of Aviation-sponsored "Fly In."
Norene and Roger Butalla, along with many other volunteers, had a delicious meal set up of sloppy joes, brats, hot dogs, potato chips and many, many bars. Thanks to McDonald's for their their famous orange drink. The Friends of Aviation also provided those attending with bottles of water and coffee.
Airplanes started arriving around 10:30 a.m., with Lee Anderson directing them in. Members of the Friends of Aviation, under the direction of Jack Schelde, kept things safe as they directed the airplanes to park. There were two local airplanes and 13 visitors who flew into Cook's beautiful airport.
Over 150 people, including many area residents, came out for a delicious meal and to view this airport, which is one of the top ones in the area, if not the best.
The Fly In lasted until 3 p.m. and promptly 15 minutes later the clouds arrived and the rain came down.
A big thanks to the Cook Lions, McDonald's, Zup's who donated the buns, Lee Anderson whose expertise in handling the airplanes flying in made this a very safe event, and all the other volunteers. The airport even sold a lot of gasoline to the visiting pilots.
The Friends of Aviation gave the pilots a chance to win $200 worth of gas. Luke Pretti drew the winning name and it was Bill Conger. By the way, Luke is Bill's grandson. Bill let the Friends use his hangar for this event and also gave some rides. Thanks!
The Cook airport is a beautiful place to be. Stop out and check it out. You might even see some airplanes landing or taking off. It has really grown.

New doctors, Holmes and Vidor, meet Cook-Orr Healthcare District Board

The Cook-Orr Healthcare District Board, at their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, were introduced to the two new doctors, Dr. Nicholas Vidor and Dr. Matthew Holmes. The two new doctors, who were raised in this area, talked about themselves and their connections to this area. They also spoke of what brought them to the Cook Hospital. They have already made an impact on the hospital and clinic.
Administrator Al Vogt spoke of a new compliance plan and the Employee Code of Conduct that all employees will be required to sign.
The great contribution that the Healthcare Auxiliary has made to the hospital was acknowledged by the Board. The Auxiliary was presented a plaque acknowledging their contributions.
CFO Kaylee Hoard presented the financial report for August. The Hospital showed an operating profit of $41,932 and a profit after non-operating revenue, such as the levy was added in, of $137,428. The budget called for a profit of $33,280. The year-to-date profit was $402,852 compared to a budget of $336,622. Last year's year-to-date profit was $276,971.
Assistant Administrator Teresa Debevec presented the summary findings of the community needs assessment. A planning session will be held to go over the report.
The board approved the credentials of Dr. Kyle Menzel, orthopedic surgeon working with Orthopedic Associates. He will be providing services at Cook every other week.
A resolution was approved allowing the board to apply for a Planning and Transition grant through the Minnesota Department of Health.
The board went into a closed session to discuss an old litigation still in process.
The meeting then adjourned.

Ruby's Pantry requests use of Community Center; Ambulance Department seeks new director

by A.J. Shuster

The Sept. 25 Cook City Council meeting began with three major discussions.
Ruby's Pantry has placed a request for use of the Community Center (Doug Johnson Park Recreation Building). Their concern is the old school has no heat for the upcoming winter months, besides no water or toilets. The Recreation Committee has three members concerned about damage with the forklift. Insurance is held by the City and by Ruby's Pantry. While the council expressed intent on the group using the center, there is currently no heat or toilets there. The next Ruby's Pantry is Oct. 9 and the next council meeting is Oct. 23, where progress on the building will be reported. Ruby's Pantry is willing to store and share use of their tables and 100 chairs, which would reduce future costs for the Recreation Committee.
Nicole Peterson of the ARDC shared a recently discovered opportunity through the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant program. In connection with the Comprehensive Plan of increased biking trails for a healthier community, she proposed applying for funds for a half-mile trail along Vermilion Drive from Vermilion Boulevard to County 115, with rest stop and kiosk. With land acquisition, wetland mitigation, relocation of utilities, engineering and construction. This was presented at a cost of approximately $600,000. The council expressed numerous concerns, and Peterson said these could be researched and addressed. The opportunity will also be available next year, so no action is needed any time soon.
Administrator Martinson reported for JPJ Engineer Jamnick on funding applications to two entities. Monies sought for next year's projects could be from St. Louis County's Community Development Block Grant and from the IRRRB, with proposed projects of North River Street bridge - top priority - and demolition of the old water plant. On the table are drainage issues, Americans with Disabilities Act needs, and sidewalks.
Approval was given for the grant agreement with the State on the airport's Master Plan. Crack sealing bids were rejected, and the process will resume next year.
The Ambulance Department received permission to search for a new director. Bids were accepted from Aune-Keister for siding at the Rec. Center. The Library art project is up; bylaws, computer use policy and fines are being developed, while copier and fax machine use charges have been raised. The Library is hosting an accordion performance at the Comet Theatre at 1 p.m. Oct. 22.
The council praised the number and dedication of recent First Responder recruits. As their training is completed, each is required to have an equipment bag which can run over $2,500. The hospital contributes $1,500 and a request was made for funds to help with pagers and radios. The council approved funds for one recruit, to be determined by lottery. It also raised the challenge to other townships in the hospital district to join them.

St. Louis County Board approves 2.9 percent maximum levy increase for 2015

The St. Louis County Board has set its maximum property tax levy at $116.6 million (specifically $116,631,195) for 2015, a 2.9 percent increase over last year. The levy increase of $3,286,982 helps fund debt service for key capital investments, including the renovation of the Government Services Center and needed upgrades to the Northeast Regional Corrections Center (NERCC); provides additional support for public safety initiatives such as the operational costs to support a medium-security area at NERCC; and preserves road and bridge investments and human services programming.
In St. Louis County, the levy ­ revenue collected from property taxes ­ makes up 36 percent of the budget. Each year, in establishing a preliminary levy, the Board must find balance between its goals for the services it wishes to provide, and the tax impact on citizens based on the cost of providing those services.
"This budget is both responsible and responsive," said Commissioner Keith Nelson who chairs the Board's Finance Committee. "Is it enough? Is it too much? Each year, we're required to make a judgment call to provide the services our communities expect, while respecting the tax impact on them."
The Board approved the levy during its meeting Sept. 23 in Babbitt. The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Chris Dahlberg opposed. State law requires counties to certify their maximum preliminary levy for the 2015 budget by the end of September.
The adoption of the final capital and operating budget will take place at the Dec. 16, Board meeting, at which point the county may reduce, but not increase, its levy. Prior to that vote, the County Board will host two public meetings specifically to gather public input on the levy and budget: on Dec. 4 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Virginia, and on Dec. 11 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth. Both meetings start at 7 p.m.
St. Louis County serves more than 200,000 residents spread across 7,000 square miles. To learn more, visit stlouiscountymn.gov.


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