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County Board hears about public health hazard

The Lake County Board of Commissioners heard from county attorney Russ Conrow about a property in the Finland area that has become a public health hazard during its meeting Tuesday in Two Harbors.

The resident of the property is currently incarcerated and at the time of the arrest, Conrow said law enforcement officials were forced to wear hazmat suits to enter the property for a weapons search. Conrow said a second search is necessary before the person is released and the search could cost the county from $6,000 to $15,000.

Since the property is a public health hazard, Conrow also said something needs to be done to clean the property and end the public health threat. Commissioners asked if the building would be torn down, but Conrow told them that information is unknown right now. A cleaning crew would have to go into the building and begin cleaning out the biological contaminants before making an assessment of its structural integrity.

Conrow was informing the board because the County Board also acts as the Lake County Public Health Board as well as because of the potential cost of cleaning the property. The county would put a lien on the property for the cost of the cleanup and the lien would follow the property if it was sold in the future.

Conrow also told the board that the Public Health Department is looking to establish a policy on when the county will intervene in similar cases and has looked at the policies of other counties in northern Minnesota, including St. Louis County.

Also at the meeting:

• The county granted easements to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on four properties because of trout streams located on the parcels. The properties, one on Highway 2 near Two Harbors, one in Castle Danger and two near Murphy Lake Road, were granted 75 foot easements on each bank of the streams so the DNR can: protect the riparian shoreline areas for fish habitat and shoreline stabilization; permit the development of fish habitat in the areas; and allow public fishing on the streams.

• The County Board also approved an on-sale and off-sale liquor license for the new restaurant in the historic Emily's building in Knife River, now known as Emily's Eatery on Knife River. Co-owner Alex Giuliani told the board they are putting the finishing touches on the new restaurant and are hoping to open in about two weeks.

• Finally, the board approved a new tobacco license for Lakeview Liquor in Castle Danger.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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