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West End News: February 12

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The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Cook and Lake counties are sponsoring a community conversation on water quality priorities for Lake Superior’s North Shore.  I guess that would be a conservation conversation.  Try saying that 10 times fast.
All joking aside, Minnesota’s North Shore is sitting on the most concentrated supply of clean, fresh water in the world.  Policies that affect the both the Lake Superior and Arctic watersheds are crucial for the future of our children and grandchildren. Fresh water is in short supply in most of the world, so we have to be very mindful and strategic about the fresh water treasure that is all around us.
The community conversation is being held at the Devil’s Track Landing Restaurant Monday, Feb. 23 starting at 5 p.m.  The program will include a brief background session, dinner and then the community conversation.  The whole thing winds up at 7:30 p.m.
RSVPs are appreciated, which you can do by visiting or call Ilena Berg at 387-3648.  As always, you can contact WTIP for that contact information.
Cook County Higher Education is holding a financial aid information night, designed to help you figure out how to pay for college. This is not just for high school seniors, but for anyone who would like access to higher education to improve their lot in life. 
In my opinion, college loans have been allowed to become a bit of scam over the last couple of decades.  Bad policy made student loans way too expensive and some unscrupulous operators offered bogus coursework in order to hook unsuspecting people into years of unnecessary debt and worry.
Lucky for us, Cook County Higher Education’s information is the real deal. In recent years, new federally guaranteed loans have become available with low interest rates and a payment schedule that is tailored to your income. Also, the good people at Higher Ed are experts at helping you find the right education path, that provides real benefit, and will guide you to success.
The financial aid information night is at the Higher Ed campus in Grand Marais Wednesday, Feb. 18 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  They will provide information, and are also willing to provide hands-on help with the various forms.  The session is free and open to all.  You can get more information by calling 387-3411 or online at  If you missed that contact info, you can always contact WTIP.
The bloodmobile will be back in Tofte at Zoar Lutheran Church Monday, March 2, from 2:30 to 6 p.m.  I will be there, along with many other community members, so stop by for some good chatting and complimentary snacks.  The process is quick and painless.  Filling the blood bank is very important for the health and security of our region, so please donate if you possibly can.  Call Carla at 663-0179 for make an appointment.
Lutsen’s own Jim Vick got a very complimentary mention on the statewide news website MinnPost.  The article was touting the music scene at Papa Charlie’s nightclub located at Lutsen Mountains Ski Area.  Jim Vick is the marketing manager for the ski area and does the music booking for Papa Charlie’s as one part of his job.
Journalist Jim Walsh said, “… there are still music lovers and listeners out there like Jim Vick, whose vision as booker/manager of Papa Charlie’s has made the chalet at the foot of Lutsen Mountain a model for all other clubs looking to create and cultivate a true listening scene.”
He was referring to the Monday and Wednesday night songwriter series that Papa Charlie’s has been hosting for the last several years.  The audience and staff are politely asked to refrain from conversation during the musical numbers, which creates a magical atmosphere where the music can be truly and deeply felt and appreciated.
This is part of a national movement of clubs and cafes that are known as “listening rooms” and allow musicians and music lovers to connect on a whole different level than the usual semi-chaotic bar scene.
Upcoming songwriter shows include Boston-based Meg Hutchinson, Low front man Alan Sparhawk, former Cook County resident and now big-time musician Barbara Jean, and the nationally popular Moors and McCumber. 
I know they are school nights, but it is worth the effort for locals and visitors alike to attend these marvelous shows. The music starts at 8 p.m. and is over at 10, so you can still get a good night’s sleep while catching some of the best songwriters and performers in America, right here in little old Lutsen.
For a full schedule of music in Cook County, go to or stay tuned to WTIP for frequent announcements of live music all over the county.
Last but not least, don’t forget the boot hockey tournament at Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte, Friday, Feb. 20 from 5 until 9 p.m.  The Minnesota Wild have nothing compared to the excitement generated by these local athletes as they vie to swat the volleyball into the net for another year of bragging rights here in the beautiful West End.

(Photo courtesy of Visit Cook County)