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West End News: November 8

Skim ice on Sawbill Lake.
Skim ice on Sawbill Lake.

WEN_20121108_Finalcut.mp34.35 MB

Congratulations to everyone involved in the recent elections. It isn’t very comfortable for most Minnesotans to put themselves out there in the public scrum.  My hat is off to anyone who decides to serve in elected office, regardless of political philosophy.  It’s popular to be cynical toward elected officials now days, but in reality they work very hard and take more abuse than they deserve.  Sometimes it’s two steps forward - one step back, but in the long run our democratic system gradually makes life better for everyone.

The annual Papa Charlie’s Birch Grove School benefit at Lutsen Mountains is Friday, Nov. 16.  This long-standing event is not only generously supported by Lutsen Mountains, but also the food and beverage suppliers and countless volunteers.  It begins at 4:30 p.m. and features a lasagna dinner, silent auction and dance music by the popular and talented local band, D’Merritt.  Diane Blanchett, administrator at Birch Grove, is still looking for donations for the silent auction.  Call her at 663-0170 or email at if you can help out.

One last reminder that the bloodmobile will be at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte from 2:30 until 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12.  There are still openings for appointments, so call Polly at 663-7398 to do your part.

Former Congressman Jim Oberstar will be in Grand Marais Wednesday, Nov. 14 as the keynote speaker for the Active Living Summit.  The summit is designed for business people, policymakers and community leaders to learn about how active living contributes to health and quality of life in our community.  Representative Oberstar served us in Congress from 1975 through 2011.  He was chair of the powerful Transportation Committee from 2007 through 2011.  Throughout his career in public service, he has been a strong advocate for cycling, hiking and other active pursuits.  He was instrumental in including funding for biking and hiking trails in the transportation budget.  His accomplishments on our behalf are too numerous to list here, but I will say that he is an amazing public speaker and a walking encyclopedia on transportation policy issues, among many other things.  Admission to the summit is free, but registration is required.  Contact Kristin Wharton at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais for registration or more information. I plan to attend and it sounds like a good time.

Sawbill Lake and many of the smaller area lakes formed skim ice on the night of Nov. 2.  The ice got a little thicker over the next few days, but now has melted off in the face of a warming trend.  Back in the old days, it was a pretty good bet that the ice would form during the first week of November.  The first time we paddled on Thanksgiving was in the late ‘80s and it was considered a big fluke.  Now, we can paddle on most Thanksgivings.  As always, I have my fingers crossed for a freeze-up that leaves smooth ice for skating.  It’s been quite a few years since we’ve had really perfect skating conditions, so I figure that we’re due.  Flying down the lakes on skates is not only a sublime experience in itself, but it’s a great excuse to cut out on work and have some pure fun.