Congratulations to Rob Ecklund from International Falls who will be sworn in soon as our new state representative. State House District 3A is one of the largest legislative districts in the United States, extending from Grand Portage down to the outskirts of Duluth and back up to the western edge of Koochiching County, which is closer to North Dakota than it is to Grand Marais. Any representative from 3A would be challenged to have a presence everywhere in the District, but I'm confident Rob will make the effort and be a frequent visitor to the West End, which ironically, is in the far eastern end of his district.
I join the rest of the community in expressing shock and deep sadness on the tragic fatal shooting in Tofte. Violence can and does happen anywhere, but of course we all hope and pray that is won't happen in our little town. The last shooting that I can remember in the West End was in 1973 when Minnesota Highway Patrolman Don Ziesmer was shot to death during a routine traffic stop on Highway 61 in Tofte.
I am recording this in a hotel room in Washington, D.C. where fatal shootings are nearly a daily occurrence and the threat of a terrorist attack is a constant worry. Since my last visit to Washington in the mid-1990s, security has, of course, increased dramatically. I can't say if this is unusual, but everyday that I've been here the police have been racing around, shutting down city blocks and diverting traffic. Even the genial cop who used to direct traffic in front of one of the congressional office buildings has been replaced by a tense, alert and business-like officer in a flak jacket toting an automatic rifle. Traffic is, needless to say, very obedient when he blows his whistle.
The tight security just adds another level of bewildering urban culture shock for a woods bunny like me. Even in this era of smart phones, I have to check the location of the sun periodically to orient myself to the points of the compass or I will quickly get lost. One of my lobbying partners, who also lives in the woods, stopped to intently watch some small birds in a large hedge. A few moments later a policeman appeared at his elbow, drawn by his abnormal behavior.
I'm out here in our nation's capital lobbying Congress and government agencies on behalf of sustainable and sensible economic development in northeastern Minnesota. It's encouraging to be able to meet directly with members of Congress and the administration. Frankly though, it's a little discouraging to feel like such a tiny cog in an unimaginably humongous machine. Every little effort plays a part though, so it's important to keep trying. I will say while it's very fun to visit Washington, D.C., it's always great relief to arrive back in the West End.
Coincidentally, Congress actually passed a couple of pieces of bipartisan legislation while I've been here, which has members of Congress positively giddy with joy. Apparently, that almost never happens here.
The Cook County Local Energy Project has published a booklet called "Going Solar: A Cook County Guide." You can get more information by emailing email@example.com. Solar panels that produce hot water or electricity are now low enough in price that it pays for anyone to install them on their home, assuming they have access to sunshine. At this time of year, it feels like sunshine is in short supply, but in the long run, Cook County is an excellent place for solar systems.
Cook County Higher Education's semi-regular networking luncheon will feature the business case for social responsibility. Social responsibility for business is often defined as the triple bottom line: profits, customer and employee satisfaction, and care for the environment. Erick Block is an expert on this philosophy and will spell out why it benefits the business overall well beyond just making money. The luncheon is at the Higher Ed's North Shore Campus in Grand Marais on Thursday, December 17, from 11:30 until 1 pm. There is a modest charge and you should RSVP at 387-3411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, you can call WTIP if you missed that contact information.
Well, it's time to wrap this up and head back out into the urban jungle. As I dodge traffic and gawk at the national landmarks today, part of my mind will be, as always, in the beautiful West End.