Leadership is on everyone's mind these days, as it usually is after a presidential election. If you're looking for an example of dedicated leadership, look no further than former Tofte Township Supervisor, Paul James.
Paul was a Supervisor for 17 years and for many of those years served as the Chair. Year after year, he was selected from among all the township residents at the annual community meeting to lead the discussion about the upcoming priorities for Tofte.
Paul's contributions are too numerous to list in full, but just a short list would be his important role in upgrading and professionalizing the fire department and rescue squad. He led the charge for the town to acquire ownership of the Birch Grove School building that now houses the Birch Grove Community School and the Birch Grove Community Center. He negotiated with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to design a highway reconstruction plan that best met the needs of the town. He guided the town through a comprehensive planning process and led the charge for affordable housing.
In addition to all of this, Paul has been active in Zoar Lutheran Church, served as a volunteer fireman and led the Timberwolves snowmobile club forever.
Paul also led by example and could often be found doing some of the many unglamorous chores that keep a community looking good and functioning smoothly.
In my mind, Paul represents the second generation of leadership since Tofte re-incorporated as a township in the late 1970s. When the older generation started to age out, there was some question about who would step up. Paul stepped into the gap and never missed a beat.
I know that Paul will be an inspiration for a new generation of township leaders and the entire West End joins me in offering our sincere thanks for the thousands of selfless hours that he has put in on our behalf.
Congratulations to Deb and Nan at Lockport Store in Lutsen for their glowing review on the national website, onlyinyourstate.com. The popular online magazine said, "…this little cafe is a can't-miss-it stop on any trip up north." It's nice to see the rest of the world discover the good food and cordial atmosphere that every West Ender has known about for years.
If you're looking for a place to celebrate Thanksgiving, remember the community Thanksgiving at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland on Thursday, November 24, from 2-5 pm. This dinner is open to everyone and is very much in the cooperative Finnish spirit that abounds in this neck of the woods. If you are located closer to Grand Marais, the Congregational Church up there offers the same deal - good food, good company, no sermon and absolutely everyone is welcome.
No matter where you are on Thanksgiving, remember to take a moment to be thankful that you live in the wonderful West End.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.