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West End News: June 21

Duluth flooding - AP Photo - Andrew Krueger
Duluth flooding - AP Photo - Andrew Krueger

WEN_finalcut_20120621.mp33.67 MB

It was the talk of the town this week when the communications out of the county were cut due to the extraordinary flooding in Duluth. It is almost breathtaking when the landlines, cell service and internet all go down at once. A couple of years ago, when the same thing happened, a plan was hatched to bring in a separate connection from the Iron Range, so we would have a backup. I know that the alternate connection is under construction, but apparently not finished yet.

It is probably healthy for us in the long run to realize how dependent we’ve become on the worldwide communications network. The economy comes screeching to a halt when cable gets cut. Our dependency grows by the day, including this humble report, which is usually recorded in my car (cars make surprisingly good little recording studios) and then emailed to the station.

We will probably continue to deepen our dependency on communication networks as broadband connections are rolled out in the relatively near future. Construction on the broadband network in Cook County is underway again. Miles of red tape are being cut and there is reason to believe that we may see at least part of the system lit up by the end of the year.

There is a lot of news out of the Birch Grove Center in Tofte this week. The Neighborhood Revitalization program is moving ahead for the West End. It provides grants in the form of deferrable loans for energy improvements like insulation, new doors and windows, furnaces, water heaters and so on. Owner occupied and rental housing can qualify if family income is between 40 thousand and 80 thousand dollars per year. The grants are first come, first served. You can contact Patty Nordahl at Birch Grove, 663-7977 for details and contact info.

Last call for vendors interested in working the Tofte 4th of July. Again, call Patty at 663-7977 if you are interested.

There are still a few spots available for the Hobbits project, which is class to learn how to build a wood fired outdoor oven running at Birch Grove Center from September 9th – 13th. There is a tuition cost for the class, but the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation is offering generous scholarships, so don’t let cost stop you if you are interested.

The West End was saddened by the passing of two longtime community members this week. Marion McKeever from Schroeder passed away at the age of 92 and Bud Nelson formerly from Tofte and more recently from the Gunflint Trail passed away at the age of 79. Both were active, long time business owners who contributed in many ways to their community. My thoughts and condolences go out to their many friends and family.