Area leaders meet up again
Local government representatives in Lake County once again made strides to work together at a meeting in Silver Bay Saturday.
"Having collaboration ... is phenomenal," said Phil Minkkinen, Lake Superior School District superintendent. "[We will] get more done working together than fighting separate battles."
"This is such a good step forward," said Joanne Johnson, Silver Bay city council member.
One of the items discussed at the meeting involved the Google project in Duluth. Two Harbors city council member Chris Swanson said if the project were to be implemented there, it could mean an economic boom for surrounding cities including Two Harbors and Silver Bay.
The company has said its goal is to provide Web technologies that aren't possible with today's Internet connections. The search company is seeking test markets to install fiber optic lines and will spend millions doing so.
"Duluth's economy impacts all of us," Swanson said. He said many people travel to Duluth for employment and said there is a possibility the project could expand to Lake County at some point.
Lake County is also working to bring fiber optic lines to Lake County homes. "Lake County has gotten ahead of this train," Swanson said. "Lake County's project is probably the first of its kind in the country."
The county project will not only include internet service but also high-speed wiring for televisions and phones. The fiber optics network is expected to be paid for by the operational revenue it generates. No long-term debt is expected if the project is successful.
Representatives from Beaver Bay said Federal Express, which is delivering 2010 U.S. Census packets, does not deliver to post office boxes, which is the only way Beaver Bay residents receive mail. Census forms that have been sent are overdue and workers are beginning to go door-to-door. Representatives want to make sure residents are counted, especially when it comes to redistricting political boundaries.
School board members and the superintendent discussed the operating levy vote with the committee.
"If we have to reduce costs we're going to cut positions and there will be teachers lost," Minkkinen said about what happens if the levy fails.
Silver Bay City Council member Dave Gustafson talked about the strict budget seniors are on and how the levy could affect them. An elderly woman he knew cut her blood pressure medication in half because she didn't have enough money to afford a full dose. He said she later died of a hemorrhage.
Representatives from Silver Bay discussed plans for an eco-industrial park at its business park and the Banks Boulevard reconstruction project, among other things.
The reconstruction project is needed, according to council members, because the infrastructure is wearing out. The high pressure main that runs along the street could be replaced and fixing the road while installing sidewalks and other amenities are part of the plans.
The city is also looking at the rehabilitation of housing in that area.
Mike Hoops, Silver Creek Township supervisor, said work continues on creating a subordinate service district. It would mean Silver Creek could create a collection area and treat its own sewage.
According to studies of sewer systems in the area, they are not in good condition, Hoops said.
An ordinance was once passed requiring a parcel of land to have a sewer system, plus an alternate site for an additional one, he said. Newer homes in the township have met the ordinance but older ones haven't due to lack of space, Hoops said.
County Commissioner Rich Sve talked about getting more trust from constituents and county employees.
"When we get elected, that doesn't make us department heads," said Brad Jones, county commissioner.
Commissioners also discussed cell coverage in the area. A new tower in Finland will go up this summer.
Two Harbors City Council member Mary Henjum Rosati discussed the new water tower project in Two Harbors.
Last week the council projected the cost of new water meters would fall under the $2.26 million loan for the water tower project. It will cost homeowners to have meters installed, which could start in 2011. The city is required by state statute to conserve water and the council expects water meters will help that cause.
She also discussed the electrical update the city has gone through that could make in more compatible with broadband.