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West End News: March 13

WEN_20140313_finalcut.mp35.76 MB

A lot of West End News was generated around the township annual meetings held in Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder this week.
In Lutsen, no one had filed for the township supervisor seat being vacated by the retiring Marland Hansen.  At the last minute, Andrew Beavers was encouraged to throw his hat in the ring by some of the Lutsen elders and he was elected as a write-in candidate.  He’s lived in Lutsen for 10 years while working as a manager at Lutsen Resort.  However, it’s been a busy week for Andrew, as he has just learned that he is leaving the resort to accept a staff position with North House Folk School in Grand Marais.
I think it’s wonderful that a bright and capable young person is willing to get involved in township government.  However, that doesn’t take anything away from the huge contribution made by retiring Supervisor Marland Hansen.  Marland has not only served with distinction, but has made a thousand other contributions to his community – too numerous to mention here.  Marland has been spending some time at the Mayo Clinic recently, but is now home and on the mend.  Be sure to wish him well when you see him.
In Tofte, Jeanne Larson won a hotly contested race for the supervisor position left vacant by the retiring DC Olsen. The margin of victory was razor thin with Judy Motschenbacher receiving 29 votes and Jeanne getting 31.  It was really a case of having two excellent candidates on the ballot.  This is reflected by the large turnout of 60 voters, which is the second highest voter count in the history of the town, as best as anyone can remember.
Judy Motschenbacher is another West Ender who has made huge contributions of her time and talent to the community and will continue to do so in a number of capacities.  I’m know the whole West End joins me in thanking her for all that she does.
DC Olsen has likewise been a stalwart in the West End since he returned after retiring from his first career.  Like his contemporary, Marland Hansen, DC grew up here and has quietly done so much for the town, that he is basically Tofte’s own George Bailey from “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Last, but not by any means least, Louise Trachta announced her retirement as the head of the Tofte Rescue Squad after 15 years of service.  Louise has built a professional crew of skilled first responders who donate a good chunk of their lives preparing to save our lives in that half hour between catastrophe and the arrival of the nearest ambulance.  It is not going to far at all to call her a hero.  Hers will certainly be big shoes to fill.
All three townships voted in favor of a special donation to the Birch Grove Community School to help them over a period of low enrollment.  The school is the heartbeat of the West End and the money spent will return to us many times over.  Having a strong school will encourage young families to live here, which will strengthen the school, and so on…
The Birch Grove Foundation also reported some exciting news at the town meetings.  They are talking to the new Cook County YMCA about offering significant programming and activities at the Birch Grove Community Center. Apparently, the Y has some equipment in storage, which they could bring to Birch Grove, as well as scheduling popular classes in the West End.  This is particularly exciting in light of the Birch Grove senior housing development that is coming soon.
In a virtual cascade of Birch Grove Community Center news, they have just received their first grant toward the erection of a large greenhouse that was donated last year.  They are also talking to the Grand Marais Library about a branch library at the Center.
Cook County Higher Education is offering a short course that may be of interest to West End residents.  It’s called Mental Health First Aid Training.  This groundbreaking 8-hour class helps people respond to mental health problems.  This is handy knowledge for anyone who works with the public, including hospitality professionals, public safety workers, social workers, employers, etc.
The class will be held at the North Shore Campus in Grand Marais Thursday, Mar 20.  Registration is required by Mar. 17 and there is a fee, but it has been reduced thanks to a grant from the North Shore Health Care Foundation.  Call Higher Ed at 387-3411 to get more information.
Now that the weather has finally moderated, the abundant snow has all the area trails in beautiful condition. As I travel the trails, the almost universal sign of bobcat and lynx is amazing. For about 30 years, starting back in the ‘70s, I didn’t see a cat track anywhere.  Now, I see them everywhere.  I’ve even taken to scanning the trees as I ski and snowmobile, thinking I might spot a big cat perched on a branch.  It is so great to have these fascinating creatures back in the woods.
During that really warm, sunny day last week, I spotted a cat track on the ski trail that was so large that I thought for a moment it might be from a cougar.  It turned out that it was just the sun working on a bobcat track - which is just as well.