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HomeCommunityLake County Board Hears From Lovin’ Lake County And Wolf Ridge

Lake County Board Hears From Lovin’ Lake County And Wolf Ridge

Janelle Jones, from Lovin’ Lake County, was on hand at last Tuesday’s Lake County Board meeting to share an overview of the organization’s work over the past year. Lovin’ Lake County is one of the primary economic driv­ers for the North Shore. Through their efforts, $1,669,000 tourist dollars flowed into the area in 2023. Jones stated that lodging rates for the year have added $41,740,000 to the local economy. In addition to promoting the many out­door and seasonal features of the area, Lovin’ Lake County has been instrumental in bringing the Tall Ships and Day Out With Thomas events to Lake County. Tourism is a proven necessity to help maintain our economy and lifestyle in Lake County. Board member Rick Goutermont made the comment that continuing to promote tourism and investing money in the work of Lo­vin’ Lake County is important as competition for tourist dollars with other regions of the state is strong. The Board approved the budget pro­posal by Lovin’ Lake County for 2024 in the amount of $1,840,500. Lovin’ Lake County can be accessed online at lovinlakecounty.com.

Peter Smerud, Executive Director of the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Fin­land, made an appearance to talk with the Board about legislation that will be coming up in Saint Paul to establish a statewide Outdoor School For All grant program. Wolf Ridge is one of five accredited outdoor schools recognized by the State of Minnesota. Wolf Ridge provides immersive, multi-day learning experiences that offer students environmental education and encourage a deeper appreciation and understanding of all aspects of what it means to be a steward of the outdoors. Activities include an­imal tracking, rock climbing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Smerud said that many children in Minnesota are losing their connection with the outdoors. This is a trend that is being seen across the United States. Only about 29% of children in Minnesota are currently likely to get an outdoor experience, according to Smerud. In Oregon, where the State has pushed outdoor education activities for many years, 80% of children get hands-on exposure to the outdoors. Smerud finished by saying that the push for this legislation has had the most bi-partisan support of any proposed legislation in the state in the past 25 years. Board members voiced support for efforts to increase outdoor experiences and will be reviewing the legislative package.

Jason DiPiazza, Lake County Highway Engi­neer, updated the Board on the Hawkhill Road Bridge over the Knife River. Repairs have been made to the bridge and it is now rated for 16 tons. However, the repairs are temporary and the Highway Department is looking at options for a permanent solution that will include either moving the road or replacing the bridge altogether. DiPiazza said that funding will be sought from the State’s Bridge Replacement Program and that the Department will continue to explore best options.

In other business, the Board approved the 2024 County Net Levy for $12,431,329. The next County Board meeting is scheduled for December 26th at 2:00 p.m.

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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