Iron Range parades, street dances and fireworks

As a young kid I marched in the Keewatin Fourth of July parade as a patriotic penguin, Donald Duck, and other flag-festooned creatures. As an older kid I remember piling into a car with my friends, touring Range towns for street dances and fireworks. Before cell phones we would often try to anticipate where we… Read More →

Busting trusts in the 21st Century

When Hibbing mayor Victor Power took the stage at a Minneapolis Labor Day rally in 1915, he lambasted the powerful steel trust for its abuses of working people. Every person in the sprawling crowd knew he was talking about U.S. Steel. Then the world’s largest corporation, the massive reach of U.S. Steel controlled the wages… Read More →

My thoughts on gun debate in Daily Yonder

Today, the rural American online magazine The Daily Yonder published a piece I wrote about guns. It’s more personal than political. This piece reflects what I think weighs at the heart of the gun rights/gun control debate. I know that many have tread over this controversial topic. My comments section stands ready to melt down… Read More →

IRRRB backs off plan for private trust

On Wednesday, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board agreed with Commissioner Mark Phillips that plans to create a private trust for a large agency fund aren’t ready yet. The agency will take the idea back to the drawing board. I wrote about the challenges of balancing the public interest with politics just yesterday. John… Read More →

Getting politics out of IRRRB? Not so easy

With another legislative session approaching, we see new attention paid to the ever changing Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). The IRRRB now finds itself enveloped in the recently renamed Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. Earlier this week, a southern Minnesota Republican raised concerns about the creation of a new trust… Read More →

Iron innovation most vital mining challenge for Mesabi Range

I know, there’s plenty we could talk about regarding controversial copper-nickel mining projects in Northern Minnesota. PolyMet has a draft permit to mine. Ely’s Twin Metals got a symbolic boost from the Trump Administration. Persistent and largely meaningless slap fights between mining advocates and skeptics color the pages of the local press. But the truth… Read More →

Happy New Year from Central Standard Time

Happy New Year’s Eve from the Central Standard Time Zone! New Year’s Eve is a great time to party, even if the shiny ball already dropped in Manhattan an hour before the *real* New Year. Hey, big networks. Chicago. Houston. Kansas City. Minneapolis. These cities aren’t chopped liver. Why don’t they get a New Year’s… Read More →

IRRRB boost for school project raises important issue

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is winding up its business for the year. As usual, the commissioner brings a number of projects to the docket. One provokes an important discussion about regional strategy regarding school consolidation. The IRRRB oversees a unique state agency, which is actually run by a commissioner appointed by the… Read More →

Iron Range newspaper profiles early ‘silence breakers’

On Sunday, the Mesabi Daily News featured a major story about the #metoo movement with a special tie to Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. Penned by editor Jerry Burnes and reporter Leah Ryan, “One of the First Silence Breakers” includes an interview with Lois Jensen, the original Eveleth Mines sexual harassment case plaintiff. This story is… Read More →

‘Cool view’ at the Iron Range’s new Highway 53 bridge

Though it’s been in use for a couple months now, I made my first trip to the other side of the Mesabi Iron Range to see the new Highway 53 bridge last week. An online contest gave this 1,000-foot-tall span the moniker “Taconite Sky Bridge.” (The legislature must act to make that official). What the… Read More →