House Representative Mike Sundin addressed the Carlton County Board of Commissioners at their May 25 meeting on legislative issues affecting the area directly this year. "It has been a learning experience," Sundin commented. "But, there are critical needs in my district in which progress is being made."
Bills enabling the city of Moose Lake to charge a small sales tax on local purchases and bonding help for the proposed new Moose Lake School are in the mix. Funding for the Big Lake Area Sanitary District is progressing. Text for Life, a suicide hotline for teens, is seeking state funding for a regional program. Dave Lee, director of Carlton County Health and Human Services, has been instrumental in this program's inception and success.
A new wheel-age tax, the ability of the counties to add an additional $20 per resident vehicle registration and fund local transportation needs, is being debated in St. Paul. Sundin reported that a group of citizens, businesses, and cities and townships are working on an upgrade to Highway 73 in western Carlton County. "It is necessary for public safety and continued economic well-being in that area," Rep. Sundin noted.
Walt Leu, engineer for the Department of Transportation (DOT) out of the Duluth region, reported on the 2013 DOT highway construction program for Carlton County which is approximately $30,000,000. Upgrading Interstate 35 from Esko to Proctor will cost $15,000,000. Almost $4,000,000 will be used to rehabilitate the four bridges at the Scanlon exchange on Interstate 35. Cable median barriers will be installed from County 4, the Mahtowa exit, south in 10 locations to Highway 70. Major work will occur on Highway 210 in the Jay Cooke Park area with 2012 flood damage to roadbed and installation of a new bridge. The Thomson bridge will receive major maintenance. Highway 33 will be redone down to Cloquet and Highway 73 will get an overlay down to Cromwell from Floodwood.
Liberty Tire Recycling has increased its rates for accepting Carlton County Transfer Station tires. Passenger car tires increased to $2.50 per tire, truck tires are $10 per tire, as examples. Michael Tardy started as Highway Engineer effective March 25.
A proposal from the county's Building Committee now has legs to run. DSGW Architects out of Duluth has been hired to form a building plan in which a number of departments would be moved from the Carlton Courthouse area to an expanded Transportation Building complex. A second floor is being studied and additions, which include expansion of the vehicle storage garage. Boldt Construction will provide figures for the project. A number of department heads are presenting their needs.
A sale of the old County License Building in Cloquet and plans for a new home for Soil and Water Conservation and Extension Services figure into the current discussion.
Pat Oman, director for Carlton County Economic Development, received approval for the Wright Senior Citizens to get a loan from the Economic Development Fund of $10,000 to tie in with an already approved $25,000 forgivable Small City Development loan for a building improvement. Energy and handicap accessibility upgrades will be realized.
Three Minnesota Investment Fund loans were approved to help cover flood losses of 2012. Brent's Heating and Cooling of Carlton got a loan for $106,702 with $53,351 forgiven in 10 years. Knife Island Campground of Scanlon is receiving a $121,149.79 loan from MIF with $60,574.90 forgiven in 10 years. Think N Play of Esko is receiving a $227,192.34 MIF loan with $113,596 forgiven in 10 years. Leslie Collier's Hairstyling of Barnum is receiving a $11,499.39 MIF loan with $5,749.70 forgiven after 10 years.