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West End News: January 12

Former West End resident, and Sawbill Outfitters employee, Shannon Grace-Anderson had a unique experience to kick off 2017. On New Year’s Day, she opened an email inviting her to an event with President Obama at the Blair House in Washington D.C. After some investigation, she discovered that it was not a scam and in fact she had been personally selected to attend an interview with the President by Vox journalists regarding the Affordable Care Act.

It all began with a thank you letter. Shannon grew up in Duluth, and, being a good Minnesotan whose parents raised her right, Shannon wrote President Obama to express her gratitude for his work. Shannon is a registered nurse who has dedicated her career to working at a community health clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. Before the Affordable Care Act, Shannon said that approximately 50% of patients at the clinic were uninsured. Today, only 14% of her patients are without insurance.

The clinic that Shannon works at is one of more than 1200 federally qualified community health clinics in this country. It just so happens that another of those clinics is located right here in Grand Marais, our very own Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. These clinics are local, non-profit care providers that provide our communities with access to high quality, comprehensive healthcare, regardless of financial ability to pay. Navigating access to healthcare and health insurance can feel overwhelming. We are very lucky to have such an outstanding clinic staffed and run by our friends and neighbors here in Cook County. If you need help figuring out health insurance, please give the clinic a call at 218-387-2330. They can and will help you.

Gunnar Frahm, son of West Ender Renee Frahm, is at it again. As if being a senior in high school, honor student, and Eagle Scout wasn’t enough, Gunnar is starting a band. Not just any band, though -- Gunnar is hoping to start the Silver Bay City Band. In his spare time, he has been attending the Northland Foundation’s Age to Age planning program. This program is designed to strengthen relationships among all ages and offer adults and young people the opportunity and resources to work together to benefit their communities.

When Gunnar got wind that the Silver Bay Vets home is planning to build a band shell, he saw his opportunity. The idea is to establish a community band of all ages that would get together once a month for fun, friendship, and of course, music. So dust off that old clarinet, put new strings on your banjo, and send Gunnar an email to let him know you’re interested. You can reach him at You can always call WTIP if you didn’t quite catch that.

The recent cold snap has given way to yet another fresh snowfall. Our closest neighbor here at Sawbill is Joan Beard, who had some poorly timed furnace issues this last week. She, her dog Lady, and her seven chickens stayed with us while things got sorted out at her place. Having never hosted chickens before, I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but we got them set up in our heated workshop for a couple of nights. Apparently the chickens felt quite at home nestled in between the table saw and the snowmobile, as they started laying eggs before long.

Between Joan, the chickens, and a steady stream of winter campers it’s been busy in these woods. The snowy conditions here in the West End are perfect for winter fun. Whether you’re a skier, snowshoer, snowmobiler, or dogsledder, be sure to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of the West End.

For WTIP, this is Clare Shirley with the West End News.