West End News June 23

Sawbill gets some much needed rain
Sawbill gets some much needed rain

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As I write, we are experiencing a classic cold and windy three-day June rain. I’m aware that people of a certain age seem to remember the weather being more severe in their childhood and I’m sure I’m as guilty as anyone. But I remember many more of these cold, three-day June rains when I was a kid. Dick Raiken, who owned Sawbill Lodge and was a fountain of information about life in the Northwoods, used to say that when the wind switched to the northeast we were in for three days of cold rain – no more and no less. He also counseled that the walleyes would stop biting completely as soon as the barometer started down and would start biting as soon as it started back up again. Like many of the things Dick said, I’ve always found this to be true. People like to complain about the cold and rain, but after seeing the forest fires that result from dry weather, I feel like the cold, hard rains are a refreshing treat.

Cook County Higher Education is holding a “Let’s Be Friends Event” on Thursday, June 23rd at 7 PM at the North Shore Campus at 300 West 3rd Street in Grand Marais. Since it started Higher Ed has helped over 300 people obtain college degrees or college level certificates. Many, many others have received continuing education credits, high school AP credits, attended workshops or just improved their skills. All of this provided right here in little old Cook County. In addition, more than 90% if people who have begun course work at High Ed have successfully finished their course work and obtained the degree that they were pursuing. This success rate is higher than most traditional colleges and universities and is much higher than other distance learning programs. This is, of course a testament to the fine work done by the staff of Cook County Higher Education. They take a deep interest in each student and make sure they have both the physical and moral support that they need to reach their goals.

The looming state shut down is bringing us a lot of phone calls here at Sawbill. Most people are worried that the BWCA Wilderness or the National Forest campgrounds around the area will be closed. It is nice to be able to reassure people that these are all federally managed facilities and will be unaffected by a state shutdown. I am presuming that that our outstanding local conservation officers will remain on the job, as they are state police and critical to maintaining public safety. One thing I hadn’t thought of was that fishing licenses cannot be sold during a shutdown. This will be a major inconvenience for visitors who travel from other states and aren’t aware of the issue. We will, of course, be notifying all our reserved customers and urging them to buy a license right away. Minnesotans can do this easily at any bait shop or outdoor store. Out of state people can buy a license online at the Minnesota DNR website. I expect that the private and National Forest campgrounds will get very crowded if the state parks close on July 1, especially with the Fourth of July creating a three-day weekend this year. Hopefully, the legislature will come to its senses and forge a fair compromise to avert this costly and unnecessary government shutdown. In this time of already high unemployment, the last thing we want to do is throw thousands of people out of work.

On a more cheerful note, the Birch Grove Foundation in Tofte is looking for two community non-profits to manage two children’s events at the Tofte Fourth of July event. The Balloon Battle Kids Game and the Bouncy Castle both need volunteer management and can be used to raise funds for the non-profit that steps up. You can call the Birch Grove Foundation at 663-7977 or email bgf@boreal.org if you are interested.

Happy summer everyone.

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