by April Scheinoha
Sometimes, Jim Counter runs into a younger person while attending church, shopping at Walmart or attending the fair with his wife, Marilyn. The person may say, “Hi, Jim.” Counter says, “Hi” and continues on his way.
Marilyn will inevitably ask, “Who’s that?” Counter doesn’t know, but it’s a safe bet that it’s one of the 2,000 students he has taught in firearms safety classes over the past 26 years. “There’s 2,000 of them, and one of me,” Counter said about his ability to remember them.
Either way, Counter made an impression on them, and they have him to thank for learning how to safely operate a firearm. The Thief River Falls resident will soon be honored for his many volunteer activities, including serving as a volunteer firearms safety instructor. He has been named a 2017 Pennington County Outstanding Senior. Counter and fellow honoree Elvera Cullen will be honored during the Senior Citizen Program at the 2017 Pennington County Fair. The program will be held Friday, July 14 at 1 p.m. in the Tri-Valley bus garage on the fairgrounds.
Counter didn’t believe it when his friend Dana Klos told him that he was one of the people being honored as an Outstanding Senior. “I was shocked,” said Counter. “When he first told me, I thought he was joking.”
Counter needed further confirmation from a Senior Citizen Program Committee member before he would believe that he was one of the honorees.
Much of Counter’s volunteer work centers on the Pennington County Sportsmen’s Club. It is through that organization that he serves as a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources youth firearms safety instructor. He also coordinates the classes, arranging times when students and the required number of instructors are available.
Counter also serves as the organization’s secretary-treasurer and assists with the Sportsmen’s Club’s youth fishing derby and August fun shoot.
The Sportsmen’s Club is Counter’s home away from home. He takes care of the 24-acre property three miles north of Thief River Falls. He also ensures its lawn mower, tractor and electronic gate are operational. Then there are those other necessary things at the Sportsmen’s Club – targets and target stands – that Counter ensures are accessible and available.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Counter enjoys wearing camouflage. He is also a member of the local chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. He assists with the annual banquet, which more than 300 people typically attend. In the past, he helped with the organization’s Hides for Habitat. An injury derailed his plans to help with the project this past year, but he is ready and willing to help soon.
Counter also finds time to volunteer at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church. He volunteers at the church’s Lenten fish frys. In the past, he delivered the meals. Now, he arranges the meal tickets by streets for the drivers. He’s well-suited to that job since he is a retired mail carrier.
That knowledge is also helpful when Counter delivers Falls Delivered Meals with several of his volunteer organizations.
Counter is also a member of American Legion Post 117 and the Knights of Columbus, both in Thief River Falls. He assists the latter organization with its tootsie roll drive and its annual fishing tournament.
“Jim has made himself available to help many organizations in our community complete their work and projects, and has been given the title as the ‘go to guy’ to many in the Thief River Falls area,” wrote Klos, who nominated Counter for the honor.
Counter is quick to point out that he isn’t the only volunteer assisting the many organizations in which he is involved.
Lest anyone is worried that Counter doesn’t do anything other than volunteer, he finds time to spend with his wife, Marilyn; two children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Counter can also be found shooting at the Thief River Falls Trap Club or making diamond willow canes. In typical Counter fashion, he donates the canes.