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West End News: March 26

WEN_20150326.mp35.34 MB

Here is a good deal.  On Thursday, April 9th, a free visit to the dentist is available for all young people ages 18 months to 26 years old.  The free services include an exam, cleaning, x-rays, fluoride, and/or sealants. 
Call Grand Marais Family Dentistry at 387-2773 to schedule an appointment.  Cook County School District 166 is providing free transportation.  The dentist’s office can help you arrange transportation.
It’s kind of surprising, but good dental health is a major indicator for overall success in life.  If you think about it, bad dental health can not only be very expensive, but also can affect your ability to get or hold many jobs.  We’re lucky to have such a community-minded local dentistry practice.  Many thanks to them for making this great program possible.
As usual, there is a lot going on at Birch Grove School and Community Center in Tofte.
The Birch Grove Foundation that manages the Community Center is looking for people to join their board of directors.  It only requires a commitment of two years, with seven meetings held each year.  The Foundation is certainly important to our quality of life, so please consider serving if you have the time.  Call Caroline Wood at 663-7977 for more information.
Birch Grove Community School is still open for kindergarten and pre-school enrollments for next year.  They will roll out the red carpet for any prospective student and their families.  You can meet the teachers, sit in on classes or get a personal tour from the administrator.  If you talk to the parents of current students, you will hear a story of educational excellence.  Give Diane a call at 663-0170.
Community Education is offering piano lessons at Birch Grove to students of all ages.  The cost is reasonable and you can get set up on a schedule by contacting Sara Silence, Community Education Director at 663-0170.
The music culture in Cook County is amazing, so if you stick to your lessons, you can be playing for audiences in no time.  A recently released study concluded that learning and playing music is wonderful for brain development in children and also significantly reduces the risk of dementia in older people.
Last but not least, it is not too late to get help with your taxes at Birch Grove.  You can just pop in on any Thursday between 10 am and 3 pm between now and April 15th.  Trained volunteers will help you organize your paperwork and prepare your tax return for you.
It’s always interesting to follow the Minnesota Legislature at this time of year when the significant issues for the session start to bubble up to the top of the news. 
With a nearly $2 billion surplus at hand, the familiar arguments about whether to spend, save or send back are surfacing.  
After experiencing the Jesse checks back in the early 2000s, and the cut, cut, cut of the Pawlenty years, I’d like to think that Minnesotans have learned a thing or two.
It seems obvious to me that there is a well known phenomenon called the business cycle which has the economy sometimes doing well and sometimes doing not so well.  During the good times, tax revenues follow the economy up and during the not-so-good times tax revenues decline.
Common sense should dictate that the state could set aside some of the windfall in the good times to cover the inevitable shortfall in the lean times.  It also seems logical to increase needed investments in infrastructure and useful programs when the money is available, while holding enough in reserve to carry those investments during the down cycles.
This strategy has a side benefit of helping to even out the economic swings because, with money in the bank, so to speak, the state can bolster employment and efficiency during those periods when private industry is unable to invest.
As all voters are adults, it seems like the “just give it back” philosophy wouldn’t have much traction.  But, sometimes it seems like the body politic has a short memory.
Twice last week I joined with friends to ski down about 8 miles of the Temperance River in Tofte.  The recent thawing and refreezing phenomenon has turned the rivers and lakes in the West End into well-paved highways and parking lots.
The snow crust is so strong that I noticed moose tracks crossing the Temperance and the moose was staying right on top.  You know it’s a crusted snow when it can hold up a moose!
It’s pretty likely that travel conditions on the lakes and rivers will continue to be good for the next couple of weeks.  Of course, you must exercise caution and good judgment for any frozen water based activity.  But, if the conditions hold up, get out there and enjoy the long days, balmy breezes and fast travel, before it melts away.

(Photo by Nickie Dietz)