Northern Minnesota’s legislative linchpins

One of the prevailing trends during the Trump Administration is the ease with which we ignore other politicians or, really, political topics of any substance. For instance, two years ago I was the campaign manager for a DFL incumbent in a critical rural swing race in the Minnesota House of Representatives. We lost. Two years… Read More →

Bankruptcy petition mires Iron Range mine project

Creditors filed a petition last week to force Tom Clarke’s ERP Iron Ore into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Minnesota Power shut off electricity to the former Magnetation property. Clarke told the Duluth News Tribune that ERP would pay back most creditors this week and work out a solution to the impasse with Minnesota Power. ERP… Read More →

Former Itasca County Sheriff challenges Layman

Last week, retired Itasca County Sheriff and current Grand Rapids school board member Pat Medure, a Cohasset DFLer, announced he would run for State Representative in District 5B. He challenges incumbent State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset). District 5B covers western Itasca and northeastern Cass counties. Grand Rapids serves as its political and population center. This… Read More →

ERP Iron Ore finalizes purchase of Magnetation

Bankrupt Magnetation is officially under new ownership. State of Virginia-based ERP Iron Ore finalized a purchase agreement of Magnetation according to ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. WDIO reported the story earlier today. Magnetation, based in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is a scram mining and iron ore processing company. The company recycles iron ore from waste piles in Northern Minnesota and… Read More →

Format changes shake up Iron Range radio dial

Last August I shared news that Midwest Communications had purchased five new stations from Duluth-based Red Rock Radio. Wausau, Wisconsin-based Midwest owns more than 73 stations in seven states. Due to federal regulations, Midwest had to shed some of its other frequencies in Northern Minnesota to take over the new stations. On New Year’s Day, format… Read More →

Intriguing buyer seeks to acquire Magnetation assets

A year and a half after declaring bankruptcy, and nearly a year after fully idling its Iron Range scram mining operations, Magnetation might finally have a new owner. Company officials announced late Friday that ERP Iron Ore, LLC, a subsidiary of ERP Compliant Fuels, seeks to buy the idled Magnetation assets. A Dec. 15 bankruptcy court… Read More →

Strong Towns on the Iron Range

Since Monday, it’s been “Strong Towns” week on the Mesabi Iron Range. Chuck Marohn and his team have held special discussions about planning more durable, sustainable communities across the Iron Range. Readers here might be interested in a couple things I did in support of Chuck’s tour. I previewed the Strong Towns events in my Sunday column about… Read More →

Magnetation coming back, but Plant 1 in doubt

Like other Iron Range mining operations, Grand Rapids-based Magnetation was battered by the collapse in iron ore pricing and domestic steel demand last year. The homegrown Northern Minnesota company declared bankruptcy and lost ownership interest to a hedge fund amid financial restructuring. In 2014, Magnetation had four plants running, salvaging old mining waste from decades earlier and extracting… Read More →

On the Anzelc-Layman race in MN-5B

This week Republican Sandy Layman of Grand Rapids announced her candidacy for Minnesota House District 5B in Itasca and Cass counties. She will challenge incumbent State Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township), who last week announced his plans to seek a sixth term. Layman is the former commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board… Read More →

Golden opportunity for broadband on the Iron Range


Many people reading this have access to reliable high-speed internet access for less than $60 a month. You use this bountiful bandwidth to work from home, communicate with family, attend college, or help kids with homework. But for people who live in rural townships throughout the Iron Range this service isn’t available. They pay twice… Read More →