The best piece of news I’ve heard in awhile is the announcement by Cook County Attorney, Molly Hicken, that drug court is coming to Cook County.
Drug court has been around in Minnesota since the mid-1990s and has been slowly expanding around the state since then. Drug courts are problem solving courts that bring together judges, prosecuters, defense attorneys, probation and law enforcement officers, social workers and addiction counselors to help non-violent offenders find restoration through recovery.
Not only do the drug courts help people turn around their lives, but numerous studies have carefully documented tremendous savings, both direct and indirect, for taxpayers. I am not the first to say it: drug court is not being soft on crime – it’s being smart on crime.
Kudos to County Attorney Hicken and the Cook County Board of Commissioners for establishing and supporting this important program here in Cook County. There are numerous ways that individuals and businesses can get involved in this program, so give Molly Hicken a call at her office in the courthouse if you would like to help out.
We can only hope that our national policy on addictive drugs can continue to move away from the clearly failed war on drugs toward the public health model that has enjoyed relative success in other countries.
There is still time to get your tickets for this year’s “Gala For The Grove,” Birch Grove Community School’s biggest annual fundraiser. The gala is a fun social event, even if it wasn’t held in support of the ultimate good cause: our children. This sixth annual “Gala For The Grove” is on Saturday, June 18th. You can reserve your tickets online this year at the Birch Grove School website or give Caroline a call at 663-0170.
Also coming up soon is the now famous Lutsen 99er mountain bike race. From humble beginnings in 2011, when just a handful of riders raced, the 99er has grown to one of the midwest’s premiere mountain bike races, with nearly 2,000 racers.
This year’s event ramps up on Friday, June 24th with check-in and a barbeque at Rosie’s Chalet at Lutsen Mountains Ski Area. Saturday is the big day with breakfast starting at the brisk hour of 5 am, followed by more check-ins and the race start at 7:30.
The term 99er refers, of course, to the distance – in miles – of the main race. A single day of racing at the famous Tour De France averages around 100 miles, but that is on paved roads. The 99er is a little bit on paved roads, but mostly on gravel roads, logging roads, single track bike trails and, frankly, muddy sloughs that have little in common with anything resembling a road.
There are races of 69, 39 and 19 miles for the mere mortals among us. There are also kids races, activities and fun for families, friends and fans.
The Lutsen 99er, co-sponsored by Visit Cook County and Lifetime Fitness, has grown into one of the biggest and best annual events in the little old West End. As I’ve been know to say, be there, or be square.
This week’s nature note is the arrival of the common nighthawks. Their graceful, acrobatic flights at twilight are strongly evocative of the beginning of summer. The common nighthawk is a medium sized bird that is a crepuscular, or nocturnal, member of the nightjar family. They are usually first noticed by their distinctive “peenting” call, before they are observed swooping and dodging over lakes and fields in pursuit of insects. They also seem fairly unafraid of humans, sometimes letting you approach within a couple feet before taking flight. This may also be a defense mechanism, because they are wonderfully camoflauged when they aren’t flying.
Back in the day, some of the old timers called them “goatsuckers” due to a myth that they drank milk from sleeping nanny goat, which led to their milk drying up or even going blind.
The Nighthawks’ cousin, the European Nightjar, has long inspired poets, including this line from George Meredith: “Lone on the fir-branch, his rattle-notes unvaried/Brooding o'er the gloom, spins the brown eve-jar.”
In any case, they are a creature that makes it more interesting to live in the mysterious and fascinating West End.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.