May 6, 2021


Cook Hospital receives $1,400,000 PPP Small Business Administration loan


Thanks to the Small Business Administration Payroll Protection Program that protects the work force during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cook Hospital received $1,400,000 from this program. In March of this year the hospital received forgiveness of this loan from the SBA after they verified the eligibility of the expenses. The $1,400,000 was thus recognized as revenue.
This good news was delivered to the Cook-Orr Healthcare District board at their regular meeting April 27 at 6 p.m. in the hospital board meeting room.
Administrator Teresa Debevec also was happy to report that they had received a nice compliment from an Emergency Room patient. The patient stated they felt so cared for and safe. They also stated that after reading the papers that were sent home with them, they liked seeing on the top where it says, "Our Specialty is You," and they said they smiled because that is very true.
Debevec reported that she is still having problems finding certified nursing assistants, environmental services, and a dietary manager.
Debevec will be working with the Rural Health Association on an upcoming Community Needs Assessment.
The Employee Health Insurance will be changing from Blue Cross to Medica beginning Jan. 1, 2022. The Cook Hospital is part of the Northeast Service Co-op and were notified of the change.
Credentialing reappointments were approved for 23 physicians. Some were emergency room, teleradiologists and the pathologist.
The 2020 audit was presented to the board by RSM.
For the month of March, income from operations totaled $1,280,576, compared to a budget of $1,260,422, raising the year-to-date income to $3,390,498, compared to a budget of $3,554,340. The hospital had a loss from operations of $46,448, compared to a budgeted loss of $88,512. The loss year-to-date rose to $492,058, compared to a budget of $449,115. When income from non-operations, which includes the levy and the PPP forgiven loan, were added in, the net profit was $1,584,717 and the year-to-date profit was $1,374,019, compared to a budgeted year-to-date loss of $62,346.

Graduation to be in person
County Schools to hold proms... no dancing, though


There will be a prom in the St. Louis County Schools this year, but no dancing. At the regular ISD 2142 board meeting held Tuesday, April 27, at the District Office in Virginia and online via Zoom, Supt. Reggie Engebritson reported that there will be a Grand March for the proms, but no dancing. Also, the graduation ceremonies this year will be held in person, but the number of those attending will be limited.
The good news is that students participating in outdoor sports won't have to wear masks. This practice is already in place. Engebritson also reported the district is planning for in-person classes next year.
After approving the Consent Agenda, the board approved hiring a full-time Social Worker to serve Northeast Range and Tower-Soudan starting next year.
The public can now attend school board meetings at the meeting site or via Zoom. Due to the pandemic and the need to comply with social distancing and meeting room capacity limits, members of the public who wish to attend board meetings in person are asked to contact Jeanne Sopp at or 218-749-8130, ext. 1105 prior to the meeting. Masks will be required in accordance with CDC guidelines.
The board next approved hiring Andrew Brunfelt as a 1.0 FTE long-term sub for North Woods in math effective April 26.
Support staff hired were Erin Devins of SR as a paraprofessional, Neiva Smith as a preschool teachers assistant for North Woods, and Jolene Wilson as a teacher aide/ISS monitor for North Woods.
There were 17 donations for banners for seniors at the Northeast Range School.
Sylvia Makela donated various golf items for the North Woods golf teams valued at $1,333.79. The money was collected from the many donations that people made to a GoFundMe account in memory of her late husband, Roger Makela.
Also hired were Amy Ulmer as a van driver for SR, Melissa Cappo as the accounts payable clerk in the District Office, Kimberly Jordan as the Director of Federal Programs for the district, Daniel Vanhorn as a sub custodian for T-S/NER, and Amiee Kaufmann of SR as a sub bus/van driver.
Coaching staff hired for 2020-2021 were Peter Schommer - baseball assistant coach, Brad Olesiak - head softball coach and Celia Olesiak - softball assistant coach for SR. For NER, Ethan Stachovich was hired as baseball assistant coach, Misty Roseth as softball head coach, and Rebecca Nelmark as softball assistant coach. Alli Sandberg was hired as softball assistant coach for NW.
The board accepted the resignation of Joani Bergstrom as MARSS coordinator for the district, the retirement of Bruce Warren as head custodian at NER, the retirement of Steve Palkovich as a bus driver for Cherry, the resignations of Amy Ulmer as a van driver for SR, Jordan Christianson as football assistant coach for Cherry, and Gerald Barry as football assistant coach at Cherry.
Title 1 Continuing Contract/Tenured Teachers placed on ULA were Kathy Meier-TS, Amy Nelson-NW, Mary Larson-TS and Nathan LeBeque-NW. This is usually an annual placement and most if not all are hired back after federal funds are approved.
A resolution was adopted for non-renewal of Tier 1 and Tier 2 teachers Rachael Grotberg, Jessica Cimermancic and Daniel Reing for Cherry, Nathan Anderson for NW, Ethan Stachovich for NER, and Sara Nichols for SR.
The board also placed 21 probationary teachers on non-renewal of their contracts.
Finally, NER bus driver Rick Pesola's request for an unpaid leave of absence through July 31 was approved.

Construction on Highways 1, 53 & 73 to resume May 5

Construction is expected to resume on Highways 1, 53, and 73 on May 5. This is the second year of work at this location in Itasca and St. Louis counties on Highway 1 from Highway 65 to Highway 53, Highway 73 from Highway 1 to Highway 53, and in St. Louis County on Highway 53 at the intersection of Highway 1 and County Road 115 (Ashawa Road).
Motorists can expect single lane closures on Highway 1 and Highway 73 during construction hours. Beginning May 5, Highway 1 in St. Louis County will be closed between County Road 5 and County Road 139. Traffic will be detoured on County Road 5, County Road 114 and County Road 139 for roadway repairs.
For more information, visit the project website:
Important reminders for motorists regarding work zone safety:
· Slow down when approaching every work zone, then navigate through with care and caution.
· Stay alert; work zones constantly change.
· Watch for workers and slow-moving equipment.
· Obey posted speed limits. Fine for a violation in a work zone is $300.
· Minimize distractions behind the wheel.
· Be patient; expect delays, especially during peak travel times.
For more information on projects in northeast Minnesota go to Facebook at and Twitter at @mndotnortheast. For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit


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

Friends of Aviation scholarship winner Levi Byram completes his solo pilot's license

'Pilgrim's Progress' adaptation by Baptist Church is nothing short of awesome

Letters to the Editor...