Construction is winding up at Birch Grove School and Community Center in Tofte. The new playground is mostly done, thanks to the efforts of many volunteers. The wood fired bread-baking oven is also nearly done, except for a few finishing touches. The warming house has a little way to go, but won’t be needed until the rink freezes. The way it’s felt lately around here, that could be next week, but more likely in early December.
All the Birch Grove projects will be celebrated at a grand opening on Saturday, September 29, starting at 2 p.m. There will be wood- fired pizza served along with the cutting of the ribbon. The Cook County Community Fund will be holding their board meeting at Birch Grove at the same time. The Community Fund has long been a generous supporter of Birch Grove, along with many other important community efforts. The Fund will be announcing their latest grant recipients at the celebration. Again – it starts at 2 p.m. and you can call Patty at 663-7977 if you have questions.
There will be another grand opening celebration in Tofte the same day, September 29, at 4 p.m., for the new single-track mountain bike trails at Britton Peak. Meet at the Sugarbush parking lot, two miles up the Sawbill Trail.
West End residents, remember that there are some interesting courses being offered soon by Cook County Higher Education. Mark Abrahamson will be leading a course in outdoor emergency care. This 100 hour course is offered through the National Ski Patrol and is a combination of online lecture and onsite skill training. The course begins on October 12 and takes place on Fridays and Saturdays. Classes will be held at the North Shore Campus and at Lutsen Mountains Ski Area.
Don Hammer will be teaching his excellent Basic Welding course. I took his course a couple of years ago and can personally vouch for Don’s skill as a welder and a teacher. I passed the course, but when Don was critiquing my finished project, he asked that when I showed it to people, I not mention that I made it in his class. I think he was kidding…
The Minnesota Office of Tourism has confirmed the feeling we’ve had here in Cook County that tourism business was up a little bit this year. Their research is showing that lodging is up 3 to 5 % statewide. Most of the other tourism related businesses are reporting a strong year as well. A couple of other positive indicators include increased visitor counts at the tourism information centers across the state and increased inquiries to the Office of Tourism. My own indicator of statewide tourism related to fishing is that the DNR ran out of fishing regulation booklets, that are handed out with each fishing license sold, about a month ago.
I’d like to add my condolences to the Pavelich and Burmachuk families for the tragic and untimely loss of the wonderful Kara Pavelich. Kara was a life-long resident of Tofte and Lutsen and had roots in the county that go back to the pioneer days. She made many contributions to the community, but a whole generation of West End residents of a certain age will always remember her as their talented, patient and lovely piano teacher. She will certainly be missed and remembered fondly by all who knew her.