March 21, 2019

High temperatures, melting snow put Cook Hospital in overflowing water scare


Last Wednesday as the Cook community was basking in temper-atures in the high 30s, flooding became the new problem for many.
Cook Hospital Administrator Teresa Debevec reported that that evening Seth Ruuska, assistant plant manager, was called back to the hospital to deal with water seepage that was spilling into the main laundry clean linen room. One of the evening shift housekeepers had noticed the water and called him. Ruuska quickly discovered the storm drain outside the basement laundry area was full of water up to the egress window wells and spilling over at times. He went in search of submersible pumps that could be used in the hospital's utility tunnels. After arriving at the tunnel entrance he discovered, to his surprise, that there was a large pool of water inside. This is a real concern because of the heating components, fire suppression equipment and numerous electrical conduits that occupy that space and supply various parts of the building. After Ruuska called for additional help from the maintenance crew, they were able to discover that due to frozen storm drains, submersible pump failures and the heavy amount of ground water, the tunnels had flooded in a matter of hours.
They quickly brought in additional pumps pumping water into the sanitary sewer instead of the blocked-up storm drains. The hospital did not have the capacity to deal with the rising water, so additional help was called. The Orr Fire Dept. was the first to arrive and they were quickly followed by the Pike-Sandy Fire Dept. from Britt. After assessing the situation, the Orr Fire Dept. began pumping the swelling storm sewers to alleviate the rising waters inside and give the tunnel submersible pumps a place to put the rising water. After the Orr Fire Dept. gained some ground and the hospital maintenance crew had isolated the possible electrical risks, the Pike-Sandy crew brought in their portable water pump to get the water down to a reasonable and safe level. After pumping for more than an hour, the water level was down from 10 inches to a manageable two inches.
After all the fire departments headed home, the work continued through the night and into the next day. The City of Cook maintenance crew was steaming the storm drains trying to break the frozen deadlock, and the hospital maintenance staff was working quickly to make repairs to the failed submersible water pumps in the tunnel. For safety's sake, the hospital staff and the City of Cook worked together to keep a portable water pump running through the night to pump the still plugged storm drains until bigger equipment could arrive, which it did on Friday, and it finally broke the frozen deadlock in the area's storm drain.
Thanks to the volunteers to stop what could have been a real tragedy.
The warm weather caused a lot of flooding. The Cook Hospital Auxiliary's Thrift Shop was closed on Thursday due to water coming in from the parking lot.
Spring is coming and with it the melting snow and water.

Greenwood voters deny town board $250,000 levy: say $150,000 is plenty


Four or five Greenwood Township voters were ready the minute the levy question was presented to Greenwood Township voters at the March 12 Annual Meeting. The clearly organized group was ready and passed, following lengthy discussion, a $150,000 levy in response to the Greenwood Town Board of supervisors request for approval of a $250,000 levy.
The meeting began amicably with support from both sides of the room selecting Mike Indihar as moderator for the evening meeting. Carmen DeLuca, who was on the day's election ballot to retain his seat as a township supervisor made the nomination to hand Indihar the meeting gavel. His motion was supported by his challenger for his seat on the town board in the election, Dr. John Bassing. The 49 township voters present quickly voiced their unanimous support in selecting Indihar, who then called the meeting to order.
In spite of the congeniality at the onset of the meeting tensions were clearly evident on occasion. Greenwood remains a township where citizens are divided by vastly different views of what they expect of township government.
The township quickly accepted the agenda for the meeting and dispensed with the reading of the 2018 Annual Meeting minutes and gave unanimous support to their approval.
Township voters approved utilizing an abbreviated form of Roberts Rules of order to govern procedure of the meeting.
Greenwood Town Clerk Sue Drobac read the board of audit report noting that each account of the township was fully in balance at year end.
Township voters unanimous-ly waived reading of all receipts and disbursements.
Pam Rodgers reviewed the 2018 Treasurer's report as previously detailed in The Tower News and Mike Ralston presented a report detailing the need to adjust the 2019 budget upwards from the numbers set two years ago. "We have a need for reasonable budgeting and setting a realistic levy," Ralston said, "The levy we approve tonight will be collected two years down the road."
Rodgers demonstrated how the township would continue to slowly spend down its reserves from a projected 2019 year-end balance of $521,708, represent-ing 1.47 times expected annual expenses, to a 2022 projected ending reserve of $501,884, (1.45 times expected expenses) by keeping the levy at a flat-line $250,000. "This campaign ad, published in the Timberjay, was meant to mislead you as taxpayers," Rodgers said, holding up a sheet of newsprint.
"The township will be below the suggested balance," (1.5 X annual expense) if the township only sets the levy at $150,000, each year over four years, Rodgers explained.
Ralston said that the town board's goal is financial stability. To get the township to a point where the budget only experiences small cost of living increases and the levy does not fluctuate greatly from year to year.
 The question of the levy was given over to township voters. The rush to make a motion by the those wanting to keep the levy at $150,000 caused Moderator Indihar to seek a slight pause to determine where he was at on the agenda. He was immediately challenged by Jeff Maus who suggested that "game playing" would not be tolerated.
As soon as he determined that the township, as a whole, did not approve the budget he then called for a motion to set the levy. The budget is set by the town board which governs township finances. The levy is set by town voters.
Lee Peterson was immediate with his motion to set the levy at $150,000. Support was provided by Richard Leciejewski.
"It's more important this year to reduce again-we don't need that much in reserves," Maus said.
The town board maintained that continuing the levy at the current rate would reduce the reserves by another $100,000 to $424,000.
"I think we need a $200,000 levy," DeLuca said, proffering a middle ground for township residents to consider.
Bassing said that the township needed a capital expenditure plan and to further reduce its reserves.
"What's wrong with having rainy day funds?" Dave Wallin asked.
Healthy debate continued until the issue was discussed thoroughly. The vote of paper ballots was called and township residents polled 27 in favor of setting the levy at $150,000 and 22 stating a preference for establishing a different number with their vote against the motion. The motion passed and the 2020 levy was set.
In other action, the township voters:
· Set the 2020 Annual Meeting for the second Tuesday, after the first Monday, March 10, at 8:15 p.m., following the township election
· Narrowly approved, 20­25, entering into a new three-year commitment to increase the township's Tower Ambulance per capita contribution by 25 percent each year to a 2022 rate just under $30. These funds are specifically earmarked to replace the ambulances assuring that state-of-the-art equipment is ready for Lake Vermilion emergency health care patients
· Approved donating $250 to the Lakeview Cemetery Association in Tower following a request made by Pam Lundstrom
· Approved advising the town board to avail itself of as much training as it can
· Verbalized equal support for and against, returning Public Input to an early position on the agenda, instead of at the end as is current practice
· Verbalized equal support for and against making the Timberjay the official newspaper over determining the official newspaper by current practice of awarding the business to the lowest bidder
· Verbalized support for obtaining lists of volunteers to maintain the township campus over paying part time help to undertake those responsibilities
· Conducted lengthy debate, but made no determination on developing an irrigation well at the west end of the township campus.
Fire Department Year reviewed
Assistant Fire Chief Indihar reviewed the Greenwood Township Fire Department activities over 2018 for Chief Dave Fazio who was in St. Paul lobbying the Minnesota legislature for funding. Firefighters collectively spent 2,288 hours serving the township. Much of the time is spent in training, Indihar reported. Fire department members responded to 43 fire calls, 15 rescue events, 133 emergency medical calls, in addition to conducting 17 meetings and 13 drills and availing themselves of hours of outside training.
There are 22 firefighters and 11 emergency medical responders servicing Greenwood Township presently. The department placed a "snowbulance" snowmobile rescue ambulance unit into service in 2018 and made considerable upgrades in communications by acquiring used radios at favorable pricing, Indihar reported.

Incumbents re-elected in Greenwood Township
In last Tuesday's election in Greenwood Township, 303 ballots were cast. Of that total, 95 were cast absentee or during early voting.
For the Supervisor Position 4 seat for a three-year term, incumbent Carmen DeLuca received 169 votes and Dr. John Bassing got 134 votes.
Pam Rodgers received 167 votes in her bid for re-election to the two-year term of treasurer, and Carol Maus received 136 votes.
Holdover officials are Mike Ralston, Larry Tahija, Paul Skubic and Byron Beihoffer, supervisors, and Sue Drobac, clerk.

Who Killed the Count?
Mystery Theater event at the Cook Library tries to solve this riddle...

by Robin Fisher

The inquiry was held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Cook Public Library. The audience and 10 unusual suspects had a half-hour of fancy hors d'oeuvres for a meet n' greet period. The 10 suspects had all attended a party for famous book characters. After the party, the Count of Monte Cristo was found dead and nobody seemed to know what happened. The inquiry was held to shed light on the truth of the murder. The audience (jury) could ask questions of the suspects and try to get clues to the truth of the matter. When the suspects were interviewed by the judge and lawyer, they may or may not be telling the truth!
Anne Shirley ("Anne of Green Gables") was played by Margaret Jarka. Nobody could believe this wholesome, red-haired girl would ever be involved in a murder!
Aslan, the Lion king from "The Chronicles of Narnia" was played by Cooper Antikainen. The poor lion had a bum leg from a collapsing pile of books at the party.
Atticus Finch (from "To Kill a Mockingbird") was acted out by Kohan Briggs.
Harry Potter's friend Hermione Granger was played by Emily Trip. Since the Count stole her wand, it might be hard for this slight young woman to kill anyone!
The scary "Godfather," Vito Corleone, was played by Grant Phillips. You don't mess with this guy and he is no stranger to murder!
Little Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins from "Lord of the Rings," was played by Steven Sopoci. He was a restless fellow who wouldn't part with his ring.
Zoe Trip made a beautiful Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind."
Anna Trip was the very shy Liesel Meminger from "The Book Thief."
Miss Havisham was hard to miss since she sang very loudly. From "Great Expectations," Elizabeth Storm did a great crazy lady!
Old, retired Judge Wargrave was suspicious of everybody and not above suspicion himself! Played by Josh Olson, from the book "And Then There were None," he did not seem inclined to trust anybody, since human nature is so fickle!
During the interviews, somebody let slip that there might have been a duel over a ring after the big party. Bilbo would never part with his ring, but the Count insisted on fighting for it as Bilbo would never sell it. Suspicion fell on Bilbo Baggins, but in the end his duel "second," Atticus Finch, actually killed the Count in a sword fight. Now the innocent book characters can go on their way while Atticus Finch must pay for his crime!
It was noted that the weather outside the library was just like the white witch's permanent winter of Narnia.


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

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Letters to the Editor...