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West End News: March 6

Tofte Town Hall
Tofte Town Hall

WEN_20140307_finalcut.mp37.31 MB

The annual meeting of the West End townships is coming up Tuesday, March 11.  Townships are the bedrock of local politics and the town meeting is a unique opportunity for citizens to be involved in government.  While a board of three elected supervisors governs each township, binding decisions can be made by a majority vote of the citizens attending the annual meeting.
While I encourage everyone to attend their township annual meeting, it seems like the Tofte Township will have the most activity this year.  Judy Motschenbacher has filed for the open supervisor seat in Tofte being vacated by the retiring DC Olsen.  I’ve seen posters indicating that Jeanne Larson is mounting a write-in campaign for the same seat.  Both women are deeply involved with the Birch Grove Center.  Judy is on the board of the Birch Grove Community School and Jeanne is on the board of the Birch Grove Foundation.
According to Skip Lamb, also a Birch Grove School Board member, the school will be asking Tofte for some temporary financial help to tide the school over a period of low enrollment.  In my opinion, this is money well spent.  Birch Grove Community School is critical to the economic and social health of Tofte.  Every indication is toward economic growth here in the West End and having an award-winning school is critical to continuing that trend.
The township elections run from 5 until 8 p.m. on the same day as the annual meetings, Tuesday, March 11.  The annual meetings begin at 8 p.m. The meetings are held at the Lutsen, Tofte, and Schroeder town halls.  The elections are held at the town halls in Lutsen and Schroeder, but Tofte’s polls are located at the Birch Grove Community Center.
The annual kindergarten round-up at Birch Grove Community School is also scheduled for Tuesday, March 11 from 8:30 a.m. until noon.  This is a fun day for preschoolers who may want to attend Birch Grove as kindergartners next year.  The kids can be dropped off or you can arrange for them to be picked up by the bus.  There will be a variety of fun and educational activities for the prospective students until 11:30, when the parents are invited to join their scholars for community lunch in the cafeteria.
I strongly urge all parents of preschoolers in Cook and Lake Counties to attend the kindergarten round-up to see first hand how Birch Grove can get your child started on a life-long educational journey. Birch Grove has everything you want in a school: small class size; dedicated and skillful teachers; lots of personal attention; deep involvement with the community; involved and supportive parents.  My two children who are Birch Grove alumni certainly built on their excellent early education to find success through college and beyond.   For more information or to register, call Diane at 663-0170. 
The deadline for commenting on the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Polymet Mine near Hoyt Lakes is Thursday, March 13.  The implications of this proposed mine are crucial to the West End because it lies in the Lake Superior watershed.
You can find all kinds of information online, both pro and con, including sample letters for input.  You can submit your input by email or though online forms, so it’s very convenient.
In my opinion, this type of mining is a non-starter for northeastern Minnesota.  While it is always certainly tempting to jump on the jobs bandwagon, the reality is that this kind of mining has been both an environmental and economic disaster everywhere that it has occurred.  I’ve said for years that northeastern Minnesota is to fresh water what Saudi Arabia is to oil.  To accept a high risk of pollution to our precious water resource in exchange for 20 years of jobs is just a bad deal.
But, whichever way you come down on this issue, I urge you to educate yourself and let your opinion be known to the Department of Natural Resources.  This is the most important issue affecting our lifestyle in this generation.