Power plays go beyond hockey on the Mesabi Iron Range

This week the state hockey tournament takes place in St. Paul. This sporting spectacle doubles as a cultural celebration for the people of the North Star State. Once, the whole state bowed to the gods of hockey from our beloved blue collar Mesabi Iron Range. Today, however, the big suburban schools dominate the competition. The… Read More →

Layman, Bakk IRRRB reform bills get closer

Following up on my post earlier this week, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board met this week in St. Paul. Also this week, two Iron Range legislators, one Republican and one DFLer, moved toward each other with bills to reform the agency. In a contentious 5-4 vote, the board endorsed a plan to privatize Giant’s… Read More →

With slim 5-4 DFL majority, new look IRRRB to talk big issues Tuesday

The newly reorganized Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) will meet for the first time this year on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Minnesota Senate Building in St. Paul. What looms on the docket? No less than the future of the agency’s role in regional economic development and the Giant’s Ridge Ski Resort. The nine-person board… Read More →

New Highway 53 bridge on track for 2017 opening

Construction continues on the new Highways 53 and 135 bridges between Eveleth and Virginia. Drone cameras continue to document the process, giving us all a clear picture of the progress. When complete, the Highway 53 bridge will become the tallest bridge in Minnesota. The entire project is expected to cost $240 million. Thus, this easily represents… Read More →

Cliffs boasts big earnings, state support in Essar battle

Last week, Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Lourenco Goncalves announced that his company posted a $199 million profit in 2016. That reflects a positive swing of almost $1 billion from the dismal 2015 downturn of the American steel industry. It’s also basic math, as Cliffs finally has all its Minnesota mines up and running, filling orders… Read More →

Minnesota fifth largest source of U.S. minerals

Minnesota is the fifth largest producer of American mineral resources according to a recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey. The state remains the largest producer of iron ore in the country, but also produces many millions of dollars worth of industrial sand and stone.   From the Myers story: The USGS report reiterated what… Read More →

Former Range senator Tony Perpich dies

Last Saturday, former Iron Range State Sen. Tony Perpich (DFL-Eveleth) died in his Shoreview, Minn., home at the age of 84. He had battled heart disease. Perpich grew up part of a politically charged first generation Croatian immigrant family raised in the mining location of Carson Lake. With his brothers, he helped reshape Iron Range politics in the 1960s,… Read More →

Hwy 53 bridge work spans cold Iron Range winter

We woke up to 32 below in my western corner of the Mesabi Iron Range this morning. Unlike other parts of the country, that’s a matter of personal comfort. It would take even colder conditions to disrupt routine. Minnesotans may not like, but generally can handle such temperatures. After all, the vast majority work indoors, where… Read More →

Rural broadband grants reach far, but little in St. Louis Co.

This morning, the state of Minnesota unveiled its list of projects funded under the Border-to-Border Broadband rural internet expansion program. The grants total more than $34 million and will fund 42 projects throughout the state. Several Northern Minnesota projects made the list. Paul Bunyan Communication will continue its expansion in Itasca County, including new territory in Harris Township… Read More →

Oracle of Sax-Zim Bog warns of 2017 dangers

The beaver wears a pinstriped suit. That’s how I know things have changed in the swamp. This year’s visit to the Oracle of the Sax-Zim Bog will be unlike any before. Until now, my New Year’s journey to the Oracle had wound through the frozen marsh like the familiar bends of Stony Creek. The Oracle’s… Read More →