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West End News: February 27

Kjersti Vick
Kjersti Vick

WEN_20140227_finalcut.mp37.5 MB

 The next Birch Grove Community Lunch will be held on Tuesday, March 11th at 11:30 am. The members of the Birch Grove Community School Board will be there, so you can sit with them and talk about all things Birch Grove. The menu, created and cooked by Barb Merritt and Julie Aldinger, sounds scrumptious with chili, cornbread, fruit salad, scotcharoos, milk, water and coffee. If you plan to attend and aren't a regular, give Diane a call at 663-0170 or email

Almost everybody knows that Birch Grove Community School is a charter school. You may not know that all charter schools must have a sponsoring organization, known as an authorizer, that monitors it for financial, managerial and academic performance. Birch Grove's authorizer is Volunteers of America - Minnesota. Volunteers of America sponsors sixteen charter schools in Minnesota. For the last two school years, Birch Grove has posted the highest reading and math test scores among the V.O.A. charter schools in Minnesota. Congratulations to the teachers, administrators and especially the students at Birch Grove.

Cook County Higher Education is hosting a Workforce Training Outreach information and exploration session in the West End on Thursday, March 13th from 1 to 3 pm. Bluefin Bay is hosting the meeting in the Tofte Room which is in the building right behind guest services.

Anyone who owns, operates, or works for a business in the West End should attend this meeting. The good folks from Higher Ed will not only talk about what they can offer to businesses and their employees, but they'll be asking for suggestions about what types of instruction and certification would be useful.

Higher Ed can custom tailor training to the needs of businesses and employees. They can also help students enroll in online coursework that fits their schedule and resources. They can even arrange for training sessions that are located on-site at a particular business, if that is desired.

You are encouraged to bring your ideas and to think big. In this modern world that we live in, nobody needs to miss out on higher education. Cook County Higher Education is highly skilled at finding education solutions that work for each individual student. They also have access to significant scholarship dollars for students that need financial help.

There is nothing better for the health of a community than ongoing education. Everyone is welcome to the session, so even if you aren't interested in returning to school, you can bring your ideas for lifetime learning in the West End. To repeat, the session is on Thursday, March 13th from 1 to 3 in the Tofte Room at Bluefin Bay. It is free and open.

Congratulations to Lutsen native and life-long West End resident, Kjersti Vick, on her new job as the marketing coordinator for the Cook County Visitor's Bureau. Kjersti was literally born for this job, as I'm sure she absorbed a lot of marketing expertise at the dinner table from her father, Jim Vick, who has done the marketing and promotion for Lutsen Mountains Ski Area for many, many years. Kjersti will be moving over from the Grand Marais Art Colony, where she's been working in a similar position for several years.

Kjersti is passionate about all the recreational opportunities in Cook County and brings a wealth of local knowledge to her new job. She is also a creative artist, so it's hard to imagine a better person for the job.

Speaking of tourism, most operators in the West End are reporting a slow winter season due to the persistent cold temperatures we've been experiencing. It's ironic, of course, because we have the best snow conditions that we've seen in many years. Even the most hard-core locals have found it hard to get motivated for outdoor recreation during these extended cold snaps. I recently read that Florida is breaking all tourism records this winter. It's the flip side of the same coin, I guess.

Although it's impossible to control the weather, it seems like our tourism economy is back on much stronger footing as the country slowly pulls out of the recession. Here's hoping for a beautiful and balmy late winter, spring and summer.