To build Iron Range economic hopes we must keep working


The steam cloud pouring out of the stack at Keewatin Taconite once again guides my daily commute from the wilds of Itasca County into Hibbing. For nearly two years, the eastern sky bore only the unforgiving blaze of the sun. Now fluffy white billows remind that hundreds of miners are back at work. Unfortunately, KeeTac’s… Read More →

Study adds new fuel to mining vs. tourism debate

Iron Range newspapers and TV stations have given considerable air time to a study sponsored by a pro-mining group showing that while tourism provides more jobs in Northern Minnesota, mining, railroading and shipping provide far better paying jobs. From the Duluth News Tribune: The [Mining Minnesota] study found current iron ore mining and directly related… Read More →

Trump’s tricky American steel promise

What happens when the promise of political change meets the rocky cliffs of reality? Every president, every Congress, every legislature must weather this shift. History shows that all suffer at least some political fallout in the process. There’s a reason incumbent parties tend to lose seats in the midterms, and that presidential approval (usually) starts high… Read More →

GOP backs off federal land sale for now

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) withdrew his bill that would have allowed the government to sell federal lands for mining and other commercial use. Some had feared that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness might find its way on the list of lands that could be mined in the future. The U.S. edition of the Guardian reported… Read More →

From pipelines to mines, Trumpism on the march

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order clearing the way for the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects. Both projects were stalled under President Obama out of environmental concerns. Citing the jobs the projects would create and promising American-made steel in the construction process, Trump waved his order in front of… Read More →

Proposition 54, where are you?

Last Saturday, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party central committee voted down Proposition 54, a controversial resolution that would have placed the party in opposition to sulfide ore mining. Now, an aside. I earnestly considered whether or not to headline this post about a failed DFL resolution with pun that relates to a black-and-white TV comedy that aired before I was… Read More →

Help on the way for St. Louis County workers

County government is probably the most overlooked part of our democracy, and yet in Minnesota it’s the point of contact for the people who need the most help. This includes the messy work of law enforcement, child protection and family welfare, social services and the very apparatus of humane treatment of our citizens. When county government… Read More →

‘Today Show’ highlights BWCA, mining debate

The debate over copper/nickel mining in Northern Minnesota reached national news this morning. The weekend edition of NBC’s “Today Show” profiled Dave and Amy Freeman. This Ely and Grand Marais couple have been living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for more than 300 days. The Freemans started their year in the BWCA to… Read More →

Ely’s State Theater to relight iconic marquee

The towns of the Iron Range stretch along a 135 mile line, each at one time a shining beacon of what a bustling industrial city would look like if it were instead a network of small towns. Like the fortunes of a Rust Belt city, the small towns of the Iron Range have mostly suffered… Read More →

Loggers, classic cars and blueberries, oh my!

We now wind into the “flurry of activity before we realize the leaves are already changing” part of our Northern Minnesota summer. It’s hot and time moves fast. On the western Mesabi, Grand Rapids holds its annual Weekend of Wheels car show and swap meet, an event I always find preferable to the county fairs. My… Read More →