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By: Cook County Administrator James Joerke

COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA   September 11, 2021  (LSNewsOn August 24, 2021, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to create a Housing and Redevelopment Authority, or HRA. This marks a big leap forward in the county’s efforts to address its housing challenges.

An HRA is a statutory body whose purpose is to identify housing needs, develop plans for meeting those needs, securing funding for projects, and in some cases, overseeing the construction and managing the operation of housing developments. HRAs can access federal and state funding that would otherwise be unavailable to local governments or private developers. A board of directors oversees policy and plan development, hires staff, and approves expenditures. Under state statute, HRAs are special taxing districts that can be supported by a levy of up to 0.0185% of the estimated market value of the commercial and residential real estate within its boundaries. Any levy proposed by the HRA would need to be approved by the County Board of Commissioners. The City of Grand Marais has long had an HRA which had jurisdiction only within the city limits and had been inactive in recent years. The City has agreed to cede its HRA authority to the new county-wide entity.

So how will things proceed from here? The County is currently soliciting applications from Cook County residents who are interested in serving on the five-member HRA board. Applications are available on the County’s website at and will be accepted through close of business on Wednesday, September 22. Experience in housing, planning and development, public finance and/or serving on a board is desirable but not required. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of County and City of Grand Marais officials. On Tuesday, October 12, the review committee will recommend a set of candidates from which the County Board will appoint five people to serve on the HRA Board of Directors. The appointments must be certified by the County and registered with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

When it first convenes, the HRA Board will need to organize itself by creating and approving a set of bylaws and selecting a chair and other officers. It will then need to create and approve a job description for its executive director so that it can begin the recruitment process. This process could begin as early as November or December but likely would not be completed until January or February 2022. Once an executive director has been hired, (s)he will coordinate with the HRA Board and community partners to begin developing a community housing strategy.

It sounds simple, but the strategy is likely to be anything but simple because Cook County’s housing needs are diverse. Sure, there is a shortage of affordable workforce housing, but there is also a need for housing that will allow the county’s growing senior population and those with disabilities to live independently and thrive. There is a need for single-family homes as well as multi-family housing. A comprehensive housing strategy will need to include not just new housing, but a plan for maintaining and enhancing the county’s existing housing stock to make it more comfortable, efficient and affordable for those who already live here.

There are several ways in which the HRA can help Cook County move ahead in addressing its housing challenges. First, it can provide a point of contact for contractors and developers who have an interest in building housing here. As it builds relationships with the construction and development communities, the HRA will also be well positioned to secure federal and state grants and loans to support housing construction. It can also work with the County and City to examine ordinances and recommend amendments to enable higher densities, mixed-use developments and residential construction in places where it may not currently be allowed.

The Cook County HRA will only be as successful as its efforts to solicit meaningful input from the community as it undertakes the process of developing a housing strategy. Despite its small population, the county has a wealth of human capital and experience. Engaging the public in discussions about what kind of housing is needed, where it should go, and how best to pay for it will ensure that the housing strategy reflects the needs of those who live here and that new construction is undertaken in a way that is consistent with and enhances the character of this amazing place we call home.

I moved to Cook County just under a year ago, and in just the short time that I’ve been here, our challenges related to housing availability and affordability appear to have become more acute. Like many in the community, I wish there were a simple and expeditious solution to the problems we face. It’s important to remember that just as our housing problems did not develop overnight, they also will not be quickly solved. However, with the creation of the HRA, I believe we have gained a powerful new tool that will enable us to make major progress in the years ahead.

By: Cook County Administrator James Joerke

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Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west.  The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake,  Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles

Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Cook County include:
 Grand Marais     Lutsen Mountains
 Gunflint Trail      Superior Hiking Trail
 Grand Portage 

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Norm Foster’s LUNENBURG

Romantic Comedy Next Up at Magnus Theatre

Robert McKenzie 0 479 Article rating: No rating

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~  October 14, 2021  (LSNews)  This autumn, Magnus Theatre invites audiences to a summer weekend on the coast in Norm Foster’s LUNENBURG. This charming romantic comedy marks the fourteenth of Foster’s works produced at Magnus Theatre since the world premiere of BRAVADO in 1988.

#LSN_Arts  #LSNews_TBay 

Thunder Bay Venue the Apollo Facing Eviction

now is the time to stand up and fight for them 

Robert McKenzie 0 1232 Article rating: 5.0

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~  October 8, 20212 (LSNews)  The Apollo, a long-running venue in Thunder Bay, ON, is facing imminent closure and is seeking to raise money to save the space.

The campaign notes that the owners, mother Constantina Stathopoulos and daughter Sheila Stathopoulos, were victims of fraud in the 2000s. The two have also faced medical struggles: Sheila had stage 3 ovarian cancer and experiences daily chemotherapy fatigue, while Constantina has Alzheimer's.

#LSNews_TBay  #LSN_Econ #LSN_Arts 

Lake Superior below the seasonal long-term average first time since April 2014

Lake Michigan-Huron water levels have declined significantly

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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~  October 5, 2021 (LSNews)  Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron have both continued their seasonal declines in September. As a result of the drier than average conditions, water levels on Lake Superior have gone below the seasonal long-term average for the first time since April 2014. Lake Michigan-Huron water levels have declined significantly from the record-high levels observed in recent years, but water levels remain above the seasonal long-term average. Lake Superior outflows continue to be set in consideration of water levels upstream and downstream.

#LSN_Shipping  #LSN_ONNews #LSN_MMNews  #LSN_WiscNews #LSN_MiNews 

Wisconsin Gems For Fall Colors

Make Your Plans Today – Some Areas At Or Near Peak Colors

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NORTHERN, WISCONSIN  ~~  October 3, 2021  (LSNews)  Wisconsin is home to many scenic landscapes that showcase the delightful colors of nature in autumn. We're starting to see the leaves change colors, with some parts of the state already at or nearing peak colors.

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CBP Nets Nearly $230k in Undeclared Currency at Ambassador Bridge

Detroit, Michigan, United States, with Windsor, Ontario, Canada

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DETROIT, MICHIGAN   ~  September 29, 2021  (LSNews) Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations seized $200,000 in undeclared U.S. currency at the Canadian border early Tuesday morning.

The cash was discovered by officers during a series of outbound commercial vehicle inspections near the Ambassador Bridge port of entry. at Detroit, Michigan, United States, with Windsor, Ontario, Canada bridge

#LSN_PublicSafety  #LSN_HomelandSecurity 

TBSO Linda Penner wins Orchestras Canada’s 2021 Betty Webster Award

Robert McKenzie 0 1781 Article rating: No rating

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO   ~~   September 29, 2021  (LSNews)  Linda Penner is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2021.

Linda Penner was nominated by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. The award announcement, delivered by video, celebrates her long-time contributions to the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, the communities it serves, and the role she has played in sustaining the spirit and resilience of its musicians, staff, and volunteers.

#LSN_Arts  #LSNews_Tbay

Beacons of Hope exhibition opening at Concordia University-St. Paul

Solo exhibition by Anne Labovitz

Robert McKenzie 0 4571 Article rating: No rating

NORTHERN, MINNESOTA  ~~~~~~  September 16, 2021  (LSNews)  I am pleased to announce the opening of my latest exhibition, Beacons of Hope curated by Dr. Megan Arney Johnston at Concordia University-St. Paul.  The site-specific works center on the conceptual and gestural elements of hope.

Beacons of Hope opens Thursday, September 16th from 5-7pm with an artist talk at 5:30.  Please join me.  If you're unable to attend, the artist talk will be recorded and shared at a later date, and the works will be on view through October 13th.

#LSN_Art  #LSN_MNNews 

Lake Superior water levels have declined and have reached the seasonal long-term average

for the first time since April 2014

Robert McKenzie 0 3858 Article rating: 4.0

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~~  September 13, 2021 (LSNews)   As a result of the drier than average weather and water supply conditions, Lake Superior water levels have declined and have reached the seasonal long-term average for the first time since April 2014. Conditions have been wetter in the Lake Michigan-Huron basin and water levels are midway between the seasonal long-term average and the record high water levels that were observed last year. Lake Superior outflows continue to be set in consideration of water levels upstream and downstream.

#LSN_Shipping #LSN_MNNews #LSN_WiscNews #LSN_CircleTour 



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