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West End News: November 5

I’m delighted to announce the return of my daughter and her husband, Clare and Dan Shirley, to Sawbill this week.  Clare and Dan have been living in Missoula, Montana for the last six years.  They will be buying and managing Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, allowing Cindy and I to shed the responsibilities of ownership and revert to being simple employees.
Clare was born and raised in the West End, while Dan spent his formative years in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  They met in college at the University of Montana.  They’re looking forward to taking the helm at the business, as well as getting involved in community life.
Cindy and I are looking forward to discovering what goes on in the world outside of Sawbill in the summertime!  We’re thrilled, of course, that Clare and Dan have chosen to join the West End Community.
Clare and Dan are the family’s third generation to own Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, taking over in the 60th year since their grandparents, Frank and Mary Alice Hansen, started the business in 1957.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since the infamous sinking of the Emund Fitzgerald.  Back in 1975, I was a young television photographer at Channel 6 in Duluth.  I flew out to Sault Saint Marie in a small plane, in the pre-dawn darkness, just a few hours after the Fitzgerald was reported missing.  At first light, I shot footage of a lifeboat, chunks of wreckage and a small oil slick boiling to the lake surface.  It was the first definitive confirmation that the Fitz had actually sunk.  We landed in the Sault and interviewed coast guard and company officials in a very sad and somber Coast Guard command center.  Then and now, my head and heart keep circling back to those 29 sailors who lost their lives and the many loved ones that they left behind. 
Slit Rock Lighthouse will be holding their annual commemoration of the disaster on Tuesday, November 10th.  At 4:30 pm, the names of the 29 will be read out, accompanied by the tolling of a ship’s bell.  At the end of this powerful ceremony, the lighthouse beacon will be lit and the lighthouse opened for touring.  This is the only day of the year when the public is allowed to climb the tower and see the beacon lit and revolving.
The Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland is sponsoring a Community Dinner on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th, from 2 until 5 pm.  The Friends of Finland will provide turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Diners can bring side dishes and desserts, if they would like to share.  All are invited to arrive early to help with the cooking and set-up.  If you plan to attend, give a call at 218-353-0300 so the food quantities can be planned.
The FISH Project, which is public health study on fish consumption by women in their childbearing years, has reached its goal of engaging 500 women.  Well, they actually enrolled 499 women, but close enough.  Two of the study’s sponsors, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and the Grand Portage Health Service, are holding two follow up events to celebrate the success of the community-wide effort. The first is at North House Folk School on Tuesday, November 17th and the second at the Grand Portage log community building on Wednesday, November 18th.  Both events run from 5:30 until 7:30, with the presentation starting at around 6:15.  The events will include time for chatting and delicious food, including smoked fish.  You can call either clinic for more details.
It was interesting to hear about the economic impact of the arts in Cook County at the recent annual gala sponsored by Visit Cook County and the Chamber of Commerce.  It is the kind of data that falls into the category of what I call, “Well duh!”  But that said, it is important to see the actual hard numbers, so we resist the temptation to take what we have for granted.  Of course, the greatest values of artistic expression in a community are the intangible qualities of joy, curiosity, satisfaction and intellectual stimulation that art provides.  Art is a powerful force for good on many levels. 
It is just one of the reasons that we all choose to live here in the wonderful West End.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.