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West End News: March 12

WEN_20150312.mp34.51 MB

The annual meetings of Schroeder, Lutsen and Tofte were lively and productive affairs a few nights ago.  A lot of stuff gets done at these meetings and all kinds of information is gathered.
The big news coming out of the meetings is that all three townships expressed financial support for Birch Grove Community School.  This gives the school the resources to have a secure future while we work toward growing enrollment over the next five years or so.
In the Tofte Township meeting that I attended, there were many passionate expressions of support for the school and the Birch Grove Community Center, which are housed in the same building.
Birch Grove School board member Skip Lamb, who refers to himself as the oldest member of the youngest school board in the state, asked me to pass along his thanks to the people of the West End for their continuing generous support of the school.  Skip wrote that when the children walk in the front door of Birch Grove every day it reminds us all the West End community supports education and its children are valued.  I would just add my personal “hear, hear!” to that.  It is certainly something we can all be proud of.
I was also highly interested in the progress report about the senior housing project that is happening in Tofte.  Tofte Township is building 12 two-bedroom homes with attached garages in the woods right behind the Birch Grove building.  The homes will be available for rental at the projected price of $950 per month.  The rent will include water, sewer, garbage pickup and mowing service.  Electricity and heat are extra.  The homes will be constructed to be very energy efficient, which will help a lot with those extra costs.
The homes will first be offered to West End residents over the age of 55.  If that initial offering doesn’t fill the homes right away, they will be offered to young working families.  Given the difficulty of finding housing here in the West End, these two populations should fill up the new homes pretty quickly.  It was made clear at the meeting that the new homes will not be available as vacation or second home rentals.
The same property behind Birch Grove has room for more development.  Once this first project is up and running, Tofte is eager to participate in the recent effort to build homes all over Cook County that can be afforded by working people.  These are exciting times!
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a minute to thank the amazing people who serve on their township boards, as well as those who belong to the fire and rescue volunteer departments.  They are too many to mention by name, but they are the heroes of our community.  The next time you see one of them in the grocery store or post office, please take a minute to express your thanks.
And before I leave the Tofte Township annual meeting for another year, I’d like to say how pleased I am to see young people showing up at the meetings and taking part in a meaningful way.  It’s natural for those of us in later years of life to worry about where the leadership will come from in the future.  At least for Tofte, I can confidently say that the future of Tofte was sitting in the room last Tuesday night and the future looks bright.
Speaking of young leadership, there is a fun and easy opportunity to make some small improvements to the West End in the upcoming “Great Place Race” returning for a second year after a successful roll out last spring.
The Great Place Race is looking for businesses and organizations to apply with a high impact, low cost idea to make a place great.  Mini-grants of up to $1000 per project will be awarded to fund your idea.
Applications are due before the end of March.  Applications are available online at or at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic front desk in Grand Marais.  If you have questions or just want to bounce an idea off someone, call Maren at 387-2330, extension 110.  As always you can get full contact information by calling WTIP.
As usual, there are too many fun things happening in the area to even keep track.  My advice is take some time to enjoy the longer days and get out to participate in some of the wonderful activities available at this busy time of year.  It’s what makes it a pleasure to live here in the beautiful West End.