January 18, 2018

Greenwood to request county land for Vermilion Penguins Snowmobile Club maintenance facility

by Anthony Sikora

Greenwood Township will request the transfer of 10 acres of tax forfeited land from St. Louis County to the township as a site on which the Vermilion Penguins Snowmobile Club can build a new maintenance garage and storage building for the club's equipment. The Greenwood Town Board of supervisors decided to make the land request at its regular Tuesday, January 9 meeting.
Supervisor Mike Ralston told the board of supervisors that he has met with 4th district County Commissioner Tom Rukavina, as well as county personnel in the county land and mineral and planning and community development departments. Ralston explained that his research on the potential land transfer presented three options which the township can pursue in obtaining the land. The first option is to request the land by resolution and present the resolution to Rukavina who will carry the request to the county board for its approval. It is expected that the county will willingly convey the land to the township, at no cost, providing the township holds the land for a minimum 30 years. The township can then, in turn, lease the land to the Penguins. Another option which can be pursued is a direct lease of the land by Greenwood Township from St. Louis County. A third option would be for the township, or snowmobile club, to make a direct purchase of the land from the county.
"A soon as the township passes a resolution requesting the land, Tom Rukavina will carry it to the county board," Ralston said as he offered a resolution for the town board's consideration. Supervisor Paul Skubic expressed his support to have Greenwood request the land from the county and Ralston moved to adopt the resolution he drafted. Skubic supported the motion.
Town Board Chairman John Bassing voiced his concerns. He reported that he received a telephone call from St. Louis County Assessor Dave Sippola, who contacted him following reading a newspaper account about the township's interest in county land, to make sure the township understands that the land will generate property taxes. "I'm not committed to having the township pay taxes," Bassing said as he explained that he would rather wait until the township could better understand all the costs, including the scope of the building the Penguins hope to build, and the annual tax costs which will be incurred.
"Let's move forward on this," Supervisor Skubic encouraged, as he explained that this was just a "first step" and the township would have future opportunities to assure that the land transfer works for all parties before it is finalized.  The resolution to request county land, when the question was called, passed with a 4-1 vote with Bassing providing the dissenting vote.
In Other action, the Greenwood Board of Supervisors:
· Approved the December minutes, amended to reflect that the payment to Heisel Brothers, for plumbing work, was for services  provided over two months and did not surpass the $1,000 limit authorized for expenditures without board approval.
· Approved the Treasurer's report documenting 2017 year-end balances: Checking: $292,710.65; Long term Investments: $251,499.47; Savings: $226,698.26; totaling: $770,908.38
· Approved paying claims against the township in the amount of: $8,865.76
· Made a $100 donation to the Cook, Minn. public library
· Made a $100 donation to the W.C. Heiam Medical Foundation, Cook, Minn.
· Learned that work on the 2019 budget would commence next week
· Discussed budgeting for repairs to the town hall parking lot in the 2019 budget
· Approved meeting with the township attorney to clarify issues relating to a firefighter's employment with the township
· Emphasized the need to inventory all township and fire department equipment and supplies
· Set the Board of Audit to follow the February 13 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which will commence at 6:30 p.m.
· Accepted the retirement of Pete Makowski from the Greenwood Township Fire Department
· Appointed election judges for the 2018 township election to be held in March 
· Approved posting a sample ballot for the March 2018 township election rather than paying to publish in the newspaper
· Heard, and discussed at length,  a request, from Fire Chief Dave Fazio, to have the town board provide documentation which he can report to the Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota regarding the increase in service time for retired firefighter Scott Kregness.


Pro-mining group, leader suing Dayton

by Tom Coombe of The Ely Echo

For the second time in a year, Gov. Mark Dayton is facing legal action from some of the region's strongest supporters of copper-nickel mining.
The executive director of Ely-based Up North Jobs as well as the group itself have filed suit against Gov. Mark Dayton, alleging the state's chief executive violated state law in 2016 when he issued an executive order that blocked Twin Metals Minnesota from accessing state lands for mineral development.
Plaintiffs also say that Dayton "intentionally interfered" with leasehold interests of Twin Metals Minnesota as well as Franconia, and that his actions conflicted with state law directing economic returns associated with school trust lands.
The suit brought by Up North Jobs and executive director Gerald Tyler, an Ely area resident, also seeks an injunction against Dayton's directive to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, in order to allow mineral exploration to continue as legal proceedings continue.
Filed Dec. 17, the action is similar in many respects to a suit brought, and later dropped, by Tyler and several others in early 2017. When the suit was pulled, Tyler indicated that he and other plaintiffs, including current St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina and former commissioner Mike Forsman, did not have the money to proceed with legal action.
Neither Rukavina nor Forsman are listed individually as plaintiffs in the most recent legal action, which was filed by Joe Leoni of Virginia's Trenti Law Firm.
The suit stems from highly-publicized and controversial actions taken by Dayton in March 2016. That's when he directed the DNR "to not authorize or enter into any new access agreements or lease agreements for mining operations, test drilling or exploration" in the Rainy River Watershed of the Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
At the time, Dayton took clear aim at the project proposed near Ely by Twin Metals Minnesota, calling it "fanciful" and alleging it would lead to environmental damage and harm Ely's economy.
Up North Jobs argues that it has legal standing in the case because Dayton's action "deprived plaintiff members of employment and economic activity." The plaintiffs also say they were harmed because they have direct interest in the development and productive use of school trust lands.
The plaintiffs claim that "given the interconnected nature of the mineral deposits, the directive by Gov. Dayton in denying access to state lands impairs members of the mining community to develop these mineral rights to the fullest potential, prevents plaintiffs the economic development and job growth its members depend on, denies plaintiffs the opportunity to pursue its core mission and denies the recipients of the Permanent School Trust Fund and of tax forfeited lands the ability to maximize their gains."
Also at issue is Dayton's action to contact federal officials and urge the rejection of long-held federal mineral leases. Those leases, which had been routinely renewed, were pulled by the Obama Administration but restored in late 2017 via a directive by the Trump Administration.


Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation announces loan repayment for service awards, bringing dentists to rural Minnesota communities

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, in collaboration with the Minnesota Dental Foundation, has named Christopher Steffenson, DDS, and Michael Talberg, DDS, as the 2017 recipients of the Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists Loan Repayment for Service program, which brings dental professionals to rural Minnesota communities. Dr. Steffenson will practice in Walker, while Dr. Talberg will practice in Cook.
The Dedicated to Minnesota Dentists program aims to improve access to care for underserved communities in rural Minnesota by reducing student loan debt in exchange for the dentist's service in an underserved community. The average student loan debt of graduating dentists exceeds $250,000, which is a barrier to new dentists practicing in Greater Minnesota.
Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation allocated $2 million to fund up to 10 program participants. Each participant is eligible for up to $200,000 in loan repayment in exchange for five years of service to their community and are required to serve public program patients.
Of Minnesota's 87 counties, more than 50 are considered dental health professional shortage areas (HPSA) by the federal government. People who live in dental HPSA areas often have difficulties finding dentists near their home, which can decrease oral health.
Dr. Christopher Steffenson, a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, will work at the Pederson Bilben Family Dental in Walker.
"This investment from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation will allow me to provide dental treatment practices to people in Walker and surrounding communities," said Dr. Steffenson. "I hope to be part of the solution of providing accessible dental care to people who need it most."
Dr. Michael Talberg, also a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, will serve patients at Scenic Rivers Health Services in Cook.
"This loan repayment for service program means so much to me both professionally and personally. It is helping me live my dream of providing oral health care services to people in my community without the worry of student loans," said Talberg.
Since 2014, eight Minnesota dentists have received $200,000 in loan repayment for service in exchange for five-year commitments to their community. Recipients work in the cities of Benson, Cook, Deerwood, Ely, International Falls, Mora, Ogema, Walker and Warroad. For more, visit: dedicatedmndentists.org.

Minnesota Dental Foundation
The Minnesota Dental Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public foundation whose vision is to eliminate unmet oral health needs in Minnesota by initiating and supporting outreach programs that provide dental services to underserved populations and communities; encouraging and supporting volunteerism within the profession; and promoting careers in dentistry, especially in underserved areas.

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation:
In 2009, Delta Dental of Minnesota's parent sold a company and used 100 percent of the proceeds to establish and fund Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota's mission of improving the health of Minnesotans through oral health. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation works to expand access to dental care for Minnesota's underserved populations across the state by primarily investing in programs and organizations that provide dental care to people in need. Since 2011, the foundation has invested more than $25 million in grants that provide care and promote oral health.


 

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