TOWER- The newest member of the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center board brings a careerʼs-worth of experience in education, historical society management, and researching the history of the Iron …
TOWER- The newest member of the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center board brings a careerʼs-worth of experience in education, historical society management, and researching the history of the Iron Range.
Pam Brunfelt retired from teaching history at Vermilion Community College a little over a year ago. Since then, she has been working to finish her research about the importance of Iron Range steel for the World War II effort.
“If I live long enough, this will turn into a book,” she said, “otherwise I will leave my research to the Iron Range Research Center.”
Brunfelt spoke at the Tower-Soudan Historical Society’s annual meeting a couple of years ago about her research, which has shown that 70 percent of the iron ore used in the production of military equipment for World War II came from the Iron Range.
Now Brunfelt’s love of history and education will help the LVCC as it moves into a new phase, creating ongoing community cultural, history, and arts programming to take place at the still-under- construction cultural center on Tower’s Main Street.
LVCC Board Chair Mary Batinich is excited to have Brunfelt on the board, noting she adds a wealth of knowledge and experience as the board looks to start offering programs in the building.
“The city of Tower needs this project,” said Brunfelt. “It has a lot of potential for lifelong learning opportunities. I like that.”
Brunfelt said she is hoping that she will get the opportunity to be part of the learning effort and has ideas for classes she would like to teach.
The board has sponsored over 40 educational programs in the past few years, using alternative locations. But the group’s goal is to use the LVCC for both locally-organized and other regional events, such as hosting musical performances during the Northern Lights Music Festival.
The building, which includes the 125-plus-year-old historic St. Mary’s Church along with newly constructed lobby, gallery and lower level spaces, will feature spaces for lectures, concerts, art classes, community meetings, and more. An elevator will make the building handicap-accessible.
While the focus of the board to date has been on fundraising for the construction project, Brunfelt said her role on the board will be to focus on the educational and historical aspects of the center.
“I have a different perspective than others on the board,” she said, noting that in addition to her background in teaching, she has many years of experience working for and managing non-profits.
Brunfelt grew up in Britt, and said she always wanted to teach at a community college. Her time at VCC gave her the opportunity to both teach and do research on the history of the range.
“VCC is a great place,” she said. “There are wonderful people there and the students are there because they want to be there. They are on a specific journey.”
Brunfelt said she couldn’t choose what her favorite class to teach was.
“It depended on what I was teaching,” she said. “I loved teaching all of them.”
The board will soon be announcing the start of the final phase of the building’s exterior renovations, including finishing the roof.
The LVCC board had to cancel its annual Midsummer Fundraiser this year, “Songs of Norway,” which will be rescheduled at a later date. The group has been working hard to raise other private donations to fund the project.
Once the exterior renovations are finished, the building’s interior will still need to be completed.
Other board members include Linda Haugen, Mary Batinich, Don Erickson, Elaine McGillivray, Ryan Bajan, James Martilla, Sue Ellis, and Sharon Legg.