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Chili cookoff draws support for West End fire department

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | November 8, 2023 12:00 AM

With so many activities going on in St. Regis and at the taverns in Saltese and DeBorgia last Saturday, West End Volunteer Department Fire Chief Frank Magee was very appreciative of the turnout for the second Chili Cookoff.

“We had more people attend and had nine contestants this year. And it sure looked like everyone was having a good time,” he said. “We had $100 for first place like we did last year — that went to Naomi Mesenbrink. For second place, the $50,000 Bar gave us a swag-bag full of Montana souvenirs from their gift shop that my wife, Louise, won. And Hydie Belzak placed third place winning a ribbon. The decisions were by five judges there for that purpose."

"Man, there was some really great chili!” Magee grinned.

The Black Diamond Ranch brought a tractor and a wagon for hayrides that pleased families. A raffle was held this year with donations from people and businesses who value what the West End fire department does for the community and by responding to accidents on I-90. 

Donations included a $100 gift certificate from Superior Meats and a $50 gift certificate from the Montana Bar in Saltese, a round of golf from Trestle Creek Golf Course, specialty chocolates and other yummies from the Montana Moxie Market, a handmade custom knife from Mark Parker, and a self-defense training course taught by Skip Hancock for up to six students. 

“We made $731 on the raffle and donations that day. People that didn’t win anything and even those that did gave money to help us out,” Magee disclosed.

One of the Chili Cookoff's purposes is to recruit more volunteer firefighters. 

“It’s a community gathering before winter kicks in,” Magee shared. “But we need help. We’re down to eight people now in the fire department and we could use a lot more. I have a grant we’re using to provide the volunteers with a stipend. The training and equipment are top-notch, which works as a springboard for anyone considering firefighting as a career."

Juliette Miller handles the community resource, matching up people who have needs with others in the west end that might be able to help. 

A disabled veteran neighbor needed someone to dig his water line up, repair it and then put it much deeper into the ground. Miller called Magee who said he knew nothing about plumbing but he’d take some guys from the fire department and handle it. 

They did, and then replaced this person’s wooden deck as the contractors never showed up in the summer leaving this person with no more options. 

“Just helping our neighbors,” said Magee not wanting any reimbursement for their efforts. 

At the awards and raffle ceremony, this person, who people know as "Speck," rolled up and gave Magee a check for $10,000 to be used for the volunteers. 

“The first thing I’m getting are good winter gloves for all of the guys with this money. They will use them on call outs and their own personal use, but these are important,” said a very grateful Magee. 

To learn more about becoming a volunteer, even in administration, with the WEVFD, call Frank Magee at 208-651-7700.

    Phyllis Stevens smiles after receiving a $100 gift card for Superior Meats. (Photo by Susan Charles)
 
 


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