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County board briefs

Marathon matters to be resolved

With the expansion of the North Shore Inline Marathon has come grumbles from some local business owners.

0 Talk about it

Highway 61 closes down during the inline marathon, which takes place in September between Two Harbors and Duluth. In recent years, organizers have added a half-marathon run, 10-kilometer run and a roller ski race.

Last year, due to later start times, heavy winds that slowed skaters and the increased number of events, parts of Highway 61 didn’t reopen until 1 p.m. Lake County commissioners and race organizers got an earful from businesses lining the route about the late clearing time, so this year solutions are being explored.

Skeeter Moore, the marathon’s executive director, was at the April 22 board of commissioners meeting in Lake County to lay out the new plan of action.

“We have to have better communication,” Moore told the board.

He said that his group will be better organized in the fall, removing barricades more quickly and opening the highway after racers have passed each checkpoint. He also said they will have strict cut-off times for slower racers and they’ll plan to have everyone out of Lake County by 11 a.m.

Moore said he’s spoken directly to many business owners along the route and reported that both sides are working together, not against one another. He assured the commissioners that the marathon would be worth the effort and a benefit to local communities.

“It’s a great way to bring people to town,” Moore said.

There are around 3,000 total participants annually in all of the events.

ORIX agreement a done deal

The board officially signed the settlement agreement between ORIX Public Finance and Lake County.

The commissioners hammered out the agreement in early March but had to wait for lawyers to review the documents and finalize the details before it could be signed.

“We’re ending this on recommendation of our attorneys,” Commissioner Rich Sve said. “That door is closed.”

According to meeting minutes published online, the county has spent about $200,000 defending itself in the broadband-related lawsuit, which alleged that the county owed Texas-based investment firm ORIX $5 million in damages after backing out of a bond purchase agreement.

In the settlement, the county has agreed to pay $15,000 to ORIX, but without admitting liability. Agreeing to the settlement allows the county to end a two-year legal battle with the company and avoid taking the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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