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West End News: November 28

Ellis "Bud" Tormondsen - photo by Terry Backlund.

WEN_20130228_Finalcut.mp34.11 MB

I am always sad when I hear that we’ve lost another member of “the greatest generation.”  Last week, World War II Marine Corps veteran Bud Tormondsen passed away. His parents were North Shore pioneers Chris and Metelda Tormondsen.  Bud was a popular and well-respected Tofte resident for his entire life. I know many people who made a point of stopping to visit Bud each time they traveled up and down the shore. 
Just before his death, the young Norwegian filmmakers who were working around the county recently discovered Bud.  They were particularly charmed by him and hoped to feature him in their film project about Norwegian Americans.  I’m afraid that his illness and death kept that from happening, at least in the depth that they were hoping for.
I join the whole community in offering condolences to Bud Tormondsen’s family and friends.
Cook County Higher Education is offering a three-day advanced welding course March 23 though March 25.  The instructor is Don Hammer, an amazingly skilled and experienced welder, artist and renaissance man.  I can vouch for Don’s teaching skills because I took his basic welding course a couple of years ago.  He was good at giving clear instruction and very encouraging, even to those who were among the welding-challenged, a group in which I was clearly a member.  When Don met with me at the end of the course to critique my project, he inspected it carefully, gave constructive criticism, and concluded by saying, “You did OK, but when you show this to people, please don’t tell them that you made it in my class.”  He was joking… I think.
Skilled welders are in great demand in today’s world. Contact Cook County Higher Education in Grand Marais at 387-3411 for more information.
Cindy Hansen and a friend from the Cities went for a snowshoe hike on Sawbill a few days ago and discovered a dead otter.  Otters keep holes open here and there along the lakeshore so they can get under the ice for feeding.  This otter was lying just a few yards from an access hole.  The snow was beaten down for about 15 feet all around the carcass.  Unfortunately, it had snowed that morning, so Cindy couldn’t tell what tracks were at the scene.  The ravens had been feeding for a little while, but the body was surprisingly intact.  Only the major organs had been removed.
I did some research and couldn’t find any mention among otter experts about otters killing each other, so we think it must have been a larger predator.  I figure that a wolf would have been inclined to eat the whole thing if it had the chance.  One local expert guessed that it might have been a bobcat or lynx.  He said that he has heard of the big cats waiting by the access holes to grab otters when they pop out.  In any case, it was an interesting find.  Nature isn’t always pretty, but it is always interesting.
A couple of quick reminders: First, remember that the bloodmobile will be at Zoar Church in Tofte in the afternoon of Monday, March 4.  Call Carla Mennson at 663-0179 look for the Duluth-based Memorial Blood Center online if you would like to donate.  Second, remember that AARP volunteer income tax preparers will be at Birch Grove Center every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. between now and tax day.