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West End News: May 2


“Will the ice be out for the opening of fishing?” seems to be the question on everyone’s mind these days.  Predicting the ice-out date is notoriously difficult, but I’m going out on a limb to predict that, here in the West End, the ice will not be gone by May 11. I always predict ice-out for my birthday, May 5. In 57 years, I’ve only been right once and this year will not be my second successful guess.  I’m thinking a more realistic guess would be around May 15. Hope springs eternal, but it’s a telling fact that the skis are still on the porch.
It was fun to hear all the reminiscing about the early history of our beloved radio station, WTIP, during the 15th anniversary celebrations last week.  Maybe this was mentioned and I missed it, but I wanted to give a shout-out to my friend Paul Damberg, who was the development director at KUMD during the time that WTIP was starting up.  Paul really worked hard raising the money to get WTIP built and on the air. 
In the early days, WTIP used a lot of KUMD’s programming and the two stations had a tight relationship. Paul spent hundreds of hours going from business to business in Cook County, doing the hard work of raising money for something that didn’t even exist, except in some people’s imagination.  He was remarkably effective and wasn’t at all discouraged by numerous naysayers that he encountered.  Paul wasn’t motivated by self-interest.  He genuinely believed that WTIP would become a valuable community asset for Cook County, and boy, was he ever right.
Paul isn’t with KUMD anymore, but he still works in Cook County as the foundation director for the Human Development Center, which offers mental health services in Cook County.  So, I’d like to add Paul Damberg to the long list of people who were responsible for creating what has become, in my opinion, one of the best radio stations in the world.
Construction has begun on the new ski lift at Lutsen Mountains.  This is a brand new, state-of-the-art, high-speed lift that will whisk six people on each chair to the top of Moose Mountain.  It replaces the Caribou lift, for those that are familiar with the Lutsen ski runs. 
The old Caribou ski lift is being dismantled right now by Lutsen Mountains staff.  Soon, the construction crew from the Leitner Poma Company, the manufacturer of the new lift, will arrive to start their work.  Not a single part of the old lift will be used in the new construction.  Leitner Poma, one of only two ski lift manufacturers in the world, will provide turnkey construction to Lutsen Mountains, so we’ll all be able to enjoy additional runs on the mountain next winter.
I noticed an interesting nature phenomenon just outside my office window last week.  Just a few feet from where I sit, there is a bush where the chickadees sit in between trips to the bird feeder.  Their constant motion has become such a routine part of my peripheral vision that I immediately noticed when the motion stopped.  The chickadees were still in the bush, but they were sitting stock still for hours at a time.  Those were the days when the weather first warmed up, which must have triggered the behavior, but I wonder why they were suddenly so lethargic.  Were they just full of sunflower seeds now that they didn’t have to work so hard to stay warm? Or, was it the females slowed down by their developing eggs?  My best guess is that they were suffering, like me, from a bad case of spring fever.
(Photo by Carah Thomas)