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West End News: August 16

Clear skies have led to happy visitors this week!   Photo by Carl Hansen.
Clear skies have led to happy visitors this week! Photo by Carl Hansen.

WEN_finalcut_20120816.mp35.29 MB

The train that is summer in Cook County is continuing to roll on down the tracks.  From my informal poll of business owners at the Cook County Visitors Bureau meeting last week, it sounds like business is booming for everyone.  Of course, the weather has been nearly ideal, and so far we’ve managed to avoid the drought that is plaguing most of the country. 
I was able to sneak out for a one night campout in the BWCA Wilderness with current and former West End residents Corey Belt, Andy Keith and John Oberholtzer.  I can see why the visitors are all happy right now.  The temperature was perfect, the bugs were non-existent, the scenery was sublime and, of course, the company was excellent.
The Oberholtzers, who live in Lutsen on Deeryard Lake, and a number of other West End residents, have been busy working as models for renowned photographer Layne Kennedy.  Layne, who is no stranger to Cook County, has been hired by the Cook County Visitors Bureau to provide photographs and video for a new, comprehensive web site that the CCVB has in the works.  The crew descended on Sawbill recently to shoot campfire scenes in the Sawbill Lake campground.  They chose to use the existing campsite of Kristin Lundgren, who worked at Sawbill with O.B. a number of years ago.  It was the usual chaotic West End scene with old friends reconnecting, marshmallows being roasted, camera shutters clicking, stories and jokes being told – with everything happening at once.  When darkness finally descended, the film crew rushed off because they had to be up before dawn the next morning to catch the sunrise at Paradise Beach.  Never a dull moment here in Cook County.
Attention all West End parents.  If you have pre-school or Kindergarten through 5th grade aged children, then mark you calendars for the Birch Grove Community School and Saplings Preschool “Dress to Play” Open House on Friday, August 24 from 4 to 7 p.m. and again on Saturday August 25 from 11 am until 2 p.m.  Fun activities will include bouncy house and maze inflatables in the gym, an outdoor water balloon battle, free hot dogs from the grill and cold beverages.
Oh, and by the way, it’s your chance to tour the beautiful school facilities and meet the friendly and competent staff.  You can also check out the brand new outside facilities including a new ice skating rink, warming house, tennis court, playground and pavilion.  Registration materials will be available both days.   You don’t have to be the parent of a prospective student to attend.  Everyone is welcome.  Just remember to come dressed to play!  You can call Diane Blanchette at 663-0170 or email her at if you have questions.
I see that the Cook County Historical Society is soliciting ideas and items to be placed in a time capsule commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Cook County Courthouse.  The items must fit through a 12” diameter opening and the interior dimensions of the capsule are 12” by 12” by 20”.  The Historical Society is specifically asking for items that represent the different parts of the county, so let’s try to get something meaningful in there from the West End.  Maybe a Lutsen Mountains lift ticket or bottle of pickled herring?  The possibilities are endless.  It’s always important to remember that current events are tomorrow’s history.  Submit your ideas by email: or by calling 387-2883.
I’ve been interested to see the effort of some folks in Two Harbors to start a low-power community radio station.  They’ve given it the working name of radio station KTWO. The Federal Communications Commission has changed some licensing rules resulting in the possibility of starting many more small, low powered radio stations.  The KTWO group is hoping to broadcast local meetings, sporting events, new, weather and local music.  Their early organizing meetings have drawn interest from Silver Bay and Finland as well.  With the new broadband technology on the horizon, it’s possible that they could even construct a cooperative service among all the communities in Lake County.  The possibilities are exciting and I wish them the best of luck.