St. Louis County Board approves agreement to make energy efficiency financing available

Business and property owners interested in making energy efficient improvements to their buildings now have a more affordable way to do so, following a vote by the St. Louis County Board. The County is now participating in the Property-Assessed Clean Energy program, a financing tool to help property owners with the initial costs of installing renewable energy technology.

PACE provides project financing to businesses, farms, multi-family housing and nonprofits in St. Louis County. The financing then can be repaid as a separate item on property tax assessments for a set period. In this way, PACE eliminates the burden of upfront costs by providing low-cost, long-term financing.

“St. Louis County continues to look for ways to assist our business community,” said County Board Chair Frank Jewell. “This program can help reduce operating expenses for them by helping them make energy-saving improvements to their buildings.”

Examples of potential building improvements that can be financed with PACE are solar arrays, HVAC upgrades, LED lighting, condensing boilers, digital controls, insulation, variable-frequency drive motors, building automation systems, and other water and energy conservation measures.

PACE financing is different than a traditional loan and helps building owners overcome several barriers to making energy-related building improvements. There are no upfront costs and there is less of a reliance on credit. Also, unlike a loan, when a transfer of ownership of the property takes place, the PACE assessment obligation stays with the property, not the property owner. In addition, PACE assessments can generally be repaid over longer terms than a bank might allow.

The St. Louis County Board unanimously approved a joint powers agreement with the Saint Paul Port Authority authorizing the new PACE program. The Saint Paul Port Authority provides the PACE funding and administers all aspects of the program. St. Louis County places the assessment on the property, collects payments each year, and passes money back to the Port Authority.

More information about the PACE program is available on the County’s website or at
cleanenergyresourceteams.org/pace.

Construction to temporarily close portion of Highway 7

Work to resurface seven miles of County State Aid Highway 7 begins Monday, and for the first two weeks of the project, the road will be closed to through traffic between Swan Lake Road (CSAH 47) in Alborn to CSAH 133 east of Meadowlands.

The entire reclaim and overlay project is expected to last through August. Beyond the initial work done during the first two weeks, the duration of the project can progress with lane closures. The road will be open, but motorists should expect delays.

During the closure, or to avoid the construction zone, motorists should use Highway 53 as a detour. Drivers are reminded to slow down and stay alert whenever traveling in or near a construction zone.

The project is estimated to cost $2.1 million, and is paid for by a combination of federal funds and Transportation Sales Tax revenue. Northland Constructors of Duluth is the contractor.

Take it to the Box program allows for safe disposal of unused medicine

This Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a day intended to promote the safe disposal of unused prescription drugs while raising awareness of the potential for misuse and abuse when medications are left sitting in medicine cabinets and closet shelves.

In St. Louis County, residents can safely turn in expired or unneeded medicine year-round at 12 different locations county-wide through the Take it the Box program, managed in cooperation with area law enforcement by the County’s Environmental Services Department or the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.

Locations managed by WLSSD include the Public Safety Building in Duluth, the West Duluth Police Substation, the Hermantown Police Department and the Proctor Police Department. Locations managed by St. Louis County include the Babbitt Police Department, Chisholm Police Department, Ely City Hall, Eveleth Police Department, Floodwood City Hall, Gilbert Police Department and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Offices in Hibbing and Virginia. All locations accept medications Monday through Friday during regular office hours.

“It used to be that we wanted people to discard their medications properly to prevent environmental contamination and accidental poisonings,” said Mark St. Lawrence, Environmental Services Director. “Those are certainly still concerns, but the growing problem is prescription medications – especially opioid painkillers – being stolen and used by others. So we encourage people to get rid of their unused medicine at one of our safe and convenient locations.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the non-medical use of prescription drugs is now the second most common form of drug abuse in America. Meanwhile, medications flushed down the drain have been linked to adverse effects in fish and other aquatic wildlife.

All medication drop-offs are confidential. Medicines should be left in original containers whenever possible and sealed in a clear plastic bag. The patient’s name can be crossed out. The name of the medication should be written on the bag if it’s not identifiable from the container. All medicine should be kept out of reach of children while being stored or transferred.

Items not accepted include needles and syringes, thermometers and medications from businesses.

The eight Take it to the Box drop off sites managed by St. Louis County collected 1,243 pounds of pharmaceutical waste in 2016, a nearly 10 percent increase compared to the 1,136 pounds collected in 2015. All medications collected are transported by the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and incinerated at a facility in Polk County.

To learn more about proper disposal of unused medications in your area, drop off location addresses and hours of operation, visit stlouiscountymn.gov/environmentalservices or wlssd.com.

Deputies and corrections officers sworn in, other staff recognized

Seven new St. Louis County Deputy Sheriffs will take an oath to serve and officially be sworn in at 11 a.m. today in a ceremony at the Public Safety Building in Duluth.

Also being sworn in or recognized will be new corrections officers, court security staff, 911 emergency communications specialists, clerical staff and chaplains who have joined the Sheriff’s Office since January 2016. Recent promotions and awards for outstanding service also will be recognized.

The new deputies include Amber Campbell, Sean Clark, Derrick Deutsch, Cody Dillinger, Joshua Etter, James Gordon and Matthew Miranda. The deputies started working for the County last October and recently completed their initial field training.

The role and work of law enforcement and public safety is becoming more complicated and difficult than ever before, so I’m pleased to welcome these talented new professionals to the Sheriff’s Office, and am confident in the work they will do to serve our citizens,” said Sheriff Ross Litman. “It’s a team effort and these individuals have proven they are up for the challenge.”

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for all law enforcement activity in the unincorporated areas of St. Louis County, as well as several cities. Sheriff’s deputies operate out of regional offices in Duluth, Virginia and Hibbing, with additional stations in Ely and Mountain Iron.