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There is a paradox that exists in the West End of Cook County at this time of year. We are entering what is undoubtedly the busiest and most active part of the year, but there is very little local news. The people who live here are mostly just keeping their heads down and concentrating on work. As an old-timer in Tofte used to say, “You’ve got to make money while the hay shines.”
Speaking of Tofte old-timers, John Nelson and Dave Monson, who take care of the Tofte Cemetary, have recently done a careful inspection of all the graves there. They were looking for monuments that have, or are about to become, unreadable. They are encouraging families to have any deteriorating monuments replaced with more durable monuments for the sake of documenting local history into the distant future. John has found permanent markers that are very reasonable in price. He and Dave have found a handful of graves that can no longer be identified. If you are a Tofte old-timer who might know who is in the unmarked graves, give John or Dave a call. Historians rely heavily on grave markers, so it is important to keep them readable.
The woods are starting to get a little dry in the West End. We’ve only had a handful of light rains in the last three weeks and the rivers are starting to look low. Last week, we had a brief but intense rain shower that ended up recording twelve-one hundredths of an inch here at Sawbill. The same storm dropped three inches of rain in Grand Marais and flooded large parts of downtown. Even more amazing was the incredible five inches of rain that fell in the Poplar Lake area of the Gunflint Trail. Poplar Lake is only 12 air miles from Sawbill. While the Temperance and Cross rivers are looking very low, the Brule and Flute Reed rivers are running in full flood. There is no end to the entertainment that the weather provides in this corner of Minnesota.
The Cook County Community Fund is undertaking an interesting project. They are working on a directory of non-profit organizations that are based or work in Cook County. I was amazed to learn that they have identified 123 non-profits in Cook County and will likely identify a few more before they’re done. If I’d been asked, I would have probably guessed that there are around 50 non-profits in the county. A few of them are probably not active anymore, but at latest count 91 of them had agreed to be listed in the directory. The plan is to give a copy to every household in Cook County. They hope to have it done by September. I once heard that the combined budgets of all the non-profit organizations in the state is a larger number than the Minnesota state budget. I can’t confirm the truth of that assertion, but with the surprisingly large number of non-profits here in the least populous county in the state, it actually seems feasible.
Tofte native Dale Tormondsen will present a talk at the Cook County Museum at 8 South Broadway in Grand Marais on the history of commercial fishing. Dale is a licensed commercial fisherman and comes from a venerable north shore fishing family. He is a master teacher, having taught high school shop for many years and then serving as a principal and finally school superintentant before he retired. His last stint as a superintendent was right here at ISD 166 in Cook County. Talk is Thursday, Aug. 4 at 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Coffee and treats will be served.