UPDATE: Layman won’t seek third term in State House

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) announced late Tuesday she would not seek another term in the legislature. The surprising news dropped just as the filing period closed, leaving the Republican slot blank if she removes her name from the ballot. “Anyone in public service knows there is a balance that needs to be struck between… Read More →

Even northern towns under curfew tonight after chaotic week in Minnesota

UPDATE June 1: A peaceful night passed on the Iron Range. Further review indicates that internet rumors prompted Range towns to set curfews. Efforts to organize peaceful protests in these towns became wildly misinterpreted. Original May 31: Today, peaceful demonstrations took place in towns across northern Minnesota, including Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Virginia. In… Read More →

Eveleth-Gilbert, Virginia voters approve school district consolidation

On Tuesday citizens in Eveleth, Gilbert and Virginia voted to approve the consolidation of two Mesabi Iron Range districts. More than 77 percent of Virginia district voters backed consolidation while almost 54 percent of Eveleth-Gilbert voters supported the move. Both districts needed to approve the measure for it to take effect. The new district will… Read More →

Talking Iron Range economy and COVID-19 on ‘Almanac’

I was a guest on Almanac Friday evening talking about COVID-19 and the economic downturn on the Mesabi Iron Range. Here’s the video: This was the first time I’ve done the show from the confines of MinnesotaBrown World Headquarters in Balsam Township. It was nice not to have to drive to St. Paul. I was… Read More →

Duluth attorney McEwen thumps Simonson for DFL State Senate endorsement

Jen McEwen, a Duluth attorney, won the Senate District 7 DFL endorsement today after party officials tabulated online balloting. She outpaced incumbent State Sen. Eric Simonson (DFL-Duluth) with more than 70 percent of the vote on the first ballot, a stunning margin for an endorsement challenge. Of 435 eligible delegates, 374 cast votes. “I am… Read More →

Minntac lays off 260 miners

Less than 24 hours after announcing that a Canadian steelmaker was buying a quarter share of Minntac, U.S. Steel announced 260 layoffs at the largest iron mine in the U.S. The layoffs provide a clearer picture of the tumultuous situation in the U.S. economy and North American steel markets. We now see that U.S. Steel… Read More →

Stelco poised to buy 25% of Minntac

During its quarterly earnings call today U.S. Steel announced that Canadian steelmaker Stelco holds the option to buy up to 25 percent of Minntac in Mountain Iron. The taconite plant is the largest in the United States and the “king” of Mesabi Iron Range mines. Stelco will pay $100 million for this option and then… Read More →

As economy shutters mines, reflection on 20 years of the same story

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is up today: “The mines will come back, many of the jobs won’t.” I reflect on an early career experience offering hollow words to a laid-off miner. Then I explore trends in mining and American industry in general. As world events and volatile markets flap their butterfly wings,… Read More →

Hibbing Taconite third Iron Range mine to shut down amid economic slide

Global steel giant ArcelorMittal will idle its Hibbing Taconite plant from May 3 through July 6 amid evaporating demand for iron ore in a growing economic recession. The move will furlough 650 employees. HibTac becomes the third Mesabi Iron Range mine to announce a shutdown during prime production season due to the sudden collapse of… Read More →

UPM-Blandin to temporarily idle Grand Rapids paper mill

The UPM-Blandin paper mill in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, will temporarily shut down. The idle is expected to last into May. WDIO reports that union officials believe it will be at least two weeks. Like the shutdowns of nearby iron mines, this shutdown is the result of lagging demand from the general slowdown in the world… Read More →