There are definitely some trade-offs to living in the West End. We get to live in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. We are
surrounded by compassionate and talented people. On the other hand, it seems like we'll never get broadband internet and when we have an emergency, help can be far away.
In modern times, we've been lucky and smart to develop systems that provide emergency services - police, fire and emergency medicine - in a timely manner. Locals can respond quickly to most populated parts of the West End and have the training to do what needs to be done to save property and life.
Hovland is in the same boat, if you will, and has developed similar fire and rescue systems at roughly the same time. In recent years though, Hovland has pioneered a new volunteer service called STOP. STOP stands for Safety Team Operational Patrol. Because so many of our most serious emergencies happen on or near Highway 61, the STOP volunteers have been trained to provide safety and control along the highway so everyone involved in the incident can avoid further injury.
The Hovland Fire Department is hosting a STOP training session soon to encourage the spread of the STOP program throughout Cook County. The one day training begins at 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 12th at the Hovland Town Hall. Lunch will be provided and a social barb-e-que is planned immediately after the training.
You don't need to have any prior emergency training to take the course - just a desire to help out your community and provide crucial aid to the heroes who are there for us in the worst moments of our lives. I strongly encourage you to call 218-475-2766 for more information. You can always call WTIP for information as well.
The concept of stewardship is a powerful notion if you think about it. Taking care of ourselves, our families, communities and the world we live in, is really the most profound function of our lives. We are all on this earth for only a short time and the reality is that we don't really own anything - it's just ours to take care of for awhile. My friend Hal Greenwood put it well a couple of years ago when he donated a valuable autographed baseball to a local charity. He said, "My stuff is just someone else's future stuff."
Some folks around the region are working on an exciting new stewardship project. It doesn't have a name yet, but they are forming an organization to coordinate volunteer efforts in and around the BWCA Wilderness and the Superior National Forest.
The idea of the new organization is to make it easy and painless for people to get their boots on the ground and hands on tools to help protect and improve the wild lands in our corner of the world. There are a lot of volunteers working in the woods now, but there is a lot more work to be done and many more people willing to do it. Having an umbrella organization will make it easier for the many agencies, clubs and groups to recruit, train, supervise and reward volunteers.
This new group does not plan to be an advocacy group but plans to help anyone who needs work done, including, but not limited to, the US Forest Service, Minnesota DNR, Cook County, snowmobile clubs, ski clubs, biking clubs, ATV clubs, hiking trail clubs, and other groups who operate in the forest.
This idea has been kicking around for awhile, but it has really caught on around the country, with dozens of similar groups having success all over the U.S. Right now the Superior Forest group is just a steering committee, but they hope to have the organization normalized and funded in the next year in time to put their first volunteers in the woods during the summer of 2015.
As a side benefit, the new organization should provide a few professional level jobs in the future, which, if I have anything to say about it, will be based in good old Cook County.
It's just another way that we can provide stewardship in the short time that we are blessed to live in the beautiful and interesting West End.