January 24, 2019

Public input wanted as County updates multi-hazard mitigation plan

Tornadoes, flooding, wildfires, blizzards, straight-line winds, ice storms, and droughts are the kinds of natural disasters most likely to cause widespread economic loss and personal hardship in St. Louis County. Taking steps to minimize the damage from a natural disaster is key to the County's multi-hazard mitigation plan (MHMP); and as the County works to update the plan, it wants to hear from the public.
The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office - Emergency Management Division is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth ­ Geospatial Analysis Center (GAC) to update the County's plan. Also working on the update is a planning team of representatives from County departments, local municipalities, school districts, and other key stakeholders such as utility providers.
The St. Louis County multi-hazard mitigation plan covers St. Louis County, including the cities of Aurora, Babbitt, Biwabik, Brookston, Buhl, Chisholm, Cook, Duluth, Ely, Eveleth, Floodwood, Gilbert, Hermantown, Hibbing, Hoyt Lakes, Iron Junction, Kinney, Leonidas, McKinley, Meadowlands, Mountain Iron, Orr, Proctor, Rice Lake, Tower, Virginia and Winton. The St. Louis County MHMP also incorporates the concerns and needs of townships, school districts, and other stakeholders participating in the plan.
"Hazard mitigation planning is a central part of our emergency management program," said Dewey Johnson, St. Louis County Emergency Management coordinator. "Understanding the natural hazards that can cause serious impact to our communities and taking action to reduce or eliminate the impact of future disasters makes us more resilient. Hazard mitigation helps us to break the cycle of damage and repair caused by things like flooding, ice storms, and severe wind events that can damage property, stress economies, and threaten life safety in our county."
Examples of hazard mitigation include improvements to roads and culverts that experience repetitive flooding; construction of safe rooms at campgrounds, parks, mobile home parks or schools to protect lives in the event of tornadoes or severe wind events; burying power lines that may fail due to heavy snow, ice or wind storms; ensuring timely emergency communication to the public through warning sirens and mass notification systems, and conducting public awareness and education campaigns to help people to be prepared to take safe action before, during or following a hazard event. Some mitigation activities may be eligible for future FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant funding.
As part of the planning process, St. Louis County is seeking feedback from residents and businesses from across the County to incorporate into the plan:
· What are the natural hazards you feel pose the greatest risk to your community?
· Have you experienced a previous disaster event?
· What concerns do you have, and what sorts of mitigation actions or projects do you feel would help to reduce the damages of potential future events for your personal property, your community, or the County as a whole?
Comments, concerns or questions regarding natural disasters and potential mitigation actions to be included into the plan update process should be submitted to St. Louis County Emergency Management Coordinator Dewey Johnson at 218-726-2936 or johnsond@stlouiscountymn.gov.
There will be additional opportunities for public feedback throughout the update process. A draft of the plan will be posted on the County website for public review prior to submission of the plan to the State of Minnesota. Future news releases will be shared with the media to notify the public of these opportunities.
The Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000) requires counties to update their plan every five years in order to maintain eligibility for certain federal disaster assistance and hazard mitigation funding programs.

St. Louis County seeking public input through survey

Jan. 17 - Questions about quality of life in St. Louis County, customer service interactions with the County, preferences for communication and information services and what people think of the job the County is doing at providing a wide set of critical services ­ St. Louis County is seeking public input on these issues and others in a survey that will be mailed out within the next few days.
Information collected in the survey helps guide decisions on budgets and policy. For instance, based on the results of past surveys, put more focus on services in the areas of public safety and care for the vulnerable, redesigned its website, and made significant investments in its Gravel Road Improvement Program.
Approximately 2,100 County residents selected at random will receive a survey packet in the mail. Results of the survey, which are considered statistically valid, will be shared by early summer and will be taken into consideration by staff and commissioners as they work on the 2020 budget and long-range plans.
St. Louis County partnered with four other counties ­ Dakota, Olmsted, Scott and Washington ­ to produce the survey, which is being conducted by the National Research Center Inc. The County conducted similar surveys four other times, most recently in 2016.
Spread across more than 7,000 square miles, St. Louis County is the largest county east of the Mississippi River and is home to 200,000 people.
For more information about the County, its government or the 2019 Residential Survey, call (218) 726-2450 or visit stlouiscountymn.gov.

Family hosts Birthday Party Number 98 for Walter Walker!

by Robin Fisher

Four folks from Cook traveled to Farmington, Minn., to celebrate the 98th birthday of Walter Walker, a longtime resident of Wakeley Road in Owens Township. Walter turned 98 on Jan. 14, but the big bash at Trinity Care Center was held Saturday, Jan. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. Shirl and Dave Woods brought food to contribute to the delicious luncheon held in his honor.
Robin Fisher of Angora and Ann Fisher of Duluth also made the long trek south to celebrate this milestone.
The party was hosted by Walter's daughter Ida Clark and her husband, Larry. The Care Center had a nice party room to hold all the family members and visitors.
We were given a tour of the care facility and admired Walter's spacious room as well as the finch aviary and fishpond. Family and friends also enjoyed table games, with Walter presiding as the guest of honor.
Walter is well-known locally as a Pearl Harbor survivor. After he married Lorraine Stordal, he settled near Cook as a painter. This past summer Walter was unable to spend time at his rural Cook home and the neighbors missed seeing him there. But he greeted us in good spirits at his birthday party. He enjoyed a piece of cake with the American flag on it to celebrate his service to our country. We all look forward to attending birthday number 99 and beyond!


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