Planning for 4th of July celebration starts now

All three West End townships—Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder—met
on Tuesday, March 12 and the subject of fireworks at the West End
Fourth of July celebration met with differing levels of support.
In Lutsen, meeting moderator Henry Welch called attention to a letter
from the Town of Tofte requesting a $1,500 donation to support the
West End July 4th celebration held at the Tofte Town Park. The request
is an increase from the 2012 donation of $1,000 and the Tofte letter
explained that it sought an increase to help cover the cost of
additional music for the celebration.
Paul Goettl asked if there was a breakdown of how much goes toward the
fireworks and how much goes to the band. “Are we paying the whole
thing?” he asked.
Diane Blanchette and Patty Nordahl, who were involved with planning
the celebration in their roles at Birch Grove, said businesses donate
to the Birch Grove Foundation and the foundation contributes as well.
Blanchette said she was not certain, but she believed the band cost
about $3,000 last year. The fireworks were quite a bit more,
Blanchette said.
Goettl said it would have been nice if someone from Tofte had given
the town more information. He moved to table the decision on the
donation request until the township’s continuation of its annual
meeting in August.
The motion passed by the Lutsen citizens present with two nay votes
At the Schroeder annual meeting, citizens were concerned that if all
donation requests were granted the township would be over budget. A
motion was debated, then passed to grant the request for a donation to
fireworks, but for $1,000, not $1,500.
In Tofte there was no debate over the amount the township will
contribute to fireworks. Supervisor Paul James said Tofte’s Fourth of
July celebration went really well last year, despite confusion with
the Birch Grove Foundation and Birch Grove Community School, which
organized the event for the first time, over who was responsible for
what, including costs. Visitors consider this a great event, he said,
and it serves as the biggest fundraiser of the year for numerous local
nonprofits.
Jerry Gervais said he would like to see volunteers organize the event
rather than paying the Birch Grove foundation and school. Jim King
pointed out that finding volunteers is difficult and said that a lot
of Tofte’s volunteers were probably right there in the room.
Regarding the confusion in organizing last year’s Fourth of July
celebration, James said, “We sailed the ship, we found out we had a
couple of leaky holes, and we fixed them. We’ll do a better job next
year.”
The group decided to form a committee to plan the next Fourth of July
celebration. A planning meeting has been scheduled for Monday, April 1 at 5 p.m. Anyone with ideas or suggestions is encouraged to attend. If you are interested in helping in some way but cannot make the meeting, contact Barb Gervais at (218) 370-0763.