Listen Now
Pledge Now


West End News: March 5

WEN_20150305.mp34.31 MB

On Tuesday, Mar. 10, the townships of Schroeder, Tofte and Lutsen will hold their elections and annual meetings. 
Polls are open from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. In Schroeder and Lutsen the polls and annual meetings are held at their respective town halls. In Tofte, the voting and meeting are at the Birch Grove Community Center.
Township government is the closest to the people of all the branches of government. The annual meetings are designed to give residents a chance, before the next annual budget is done, to set the priorities of the town for the upcoming year. 
This year, Birch Grove Community School will be asking each township for a $20,000 contribution to keep the school alive and well. As a public, nonprofit charter school, Birch Grove does receive a per-student payment from the state, just like any other public school. However, a recent dip in enrollment has caused the fixed costs to exceed what the state provides. Basically, our award-winning little school is asking the property owners of the West End to tide them over until enrollment gets back to where it will pay the bills.
I believe that taxes should never be levied unless they can be justified for one of three reasons. First, if the investment of the taxes pays back more to the taxpayers than is invested, then it’s a no-brainer.  The second reason is to help people who genuinely can’t help themselves; we all need to chip in to relieve human suffering. The third reason is that sometimes it is just the right thing to do. In the case of Birch Grove Community School, their request for funding squarely fulfills all three of my categories. 
There is no better way to create a prosperous and happy community than investing in top-flight education. If we want to attract young families to the West End, we must have the school. It is the first thing that people look at when they move to a new area. The local school must be excellent and it must be stable. It is simply the right thing to do.
If the school, heaven forbid, would close, small children from the West End would be required to ride the bus for an unacceptable length of time to the next nearest schools. 
Last but not least, this is a very smart investment in the future. One of the main reasons the school enrollment is low is the lack of reasonably priced housing for young families. There is currently a strong and united movement to build entry-level housing in the West End. The new senior housing in Tofte will free up some good homes for young families too. It would be penny wise and pound foolish to not fund the schools just before affordable housing becomes available.
The cost of the request would only amount to around $20 to $40 per year for each homesteaded property, so this should not be a difficult decision.
The Birch Grove Community Center, trail clubs and other worthy local nonprofits will also be making requests at the annual township meetings.  They are also vitally important to the health of our communities and deserve our support.
On a lighter note, mark your calendar now for the super fun St. Urho’s Day celebration in Finland.  I can’t believe it, but this is the 40th anniversary of the day celebrating St. Urho’s miracle of chasing the grasshoppers out of Finland and saving the grape crop. Products made from grapes and also made from grains still are an important part of the celebration to this day.
The activities are too numerous to mention here, but the highlights include the Miss Helmi beauty and talent competition Friday, Mar. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m.  Then on Saturday it’s the big parade from noon to 1 in downtown Finland.  If you’ve never been, to say that the floats are creative is a major understatement.  Of course, there will be music, refreshments and mojakka at all times. 
As I always say: Be there or be square.