Zooming in on public meetings online

Like many of you I’ve become accustomed to attending meetings using video conferencing software. The COVID-19 pandemic demands no less. Entire segments of the economy and educational system have shifted to home-based work. Right now, all of my professional meetings take place on Zoom. I collaborate on a media project via Google Hangouts. Interviews. Civic… Read More →

Competitive legislative races slated across Northland

NOTE: This post appears in today’s Hibbing Daily Tribune as part of a news sharing arrangement. Generational change. A historically contentious presidential race. Not one, but two major parties devoted to legalizing marijuana. These factors and more will influence several interesting northern Minnesota legislative races that formed after last Tuesday’s filing deadline. Though the presidential… Read More →

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 →

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 →

Recycling a limited solution in disposable society

The attendant at the dump extended a pair of Inspector Gadget tongs into the recycling bins to retrieve contraband. His sworn enemy is styrofoam. “If I could un-invent anything on earth it would be styrofoam,” he told me this month. He also told me that the rules would be changing. Itasca County now must pay… Read More →

Five NE Minnesota colleges move toward merger

On Wednesday, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved plans to merge five community and technical colleges in Northeastern Minnesota. After a two-year planning period the board will vote again on whether to go through with it. The new college organization, if approved, would be in operation by Fall 2022. These five… Read More →

2020 race for MN legislature will pivot on northern SD5

When Republicans took control of both houses of the Minnesota legislature in 2016 they made hay off the massive swing that took place in the fifth state senate district. This northern district, which includes parts of Itasca, Cass, Hubbard and Beltrami counties, was previously represented by a DFL senator and two DFL representatives. After 2016,… Read More →

Dig Deep Live at Reif Center Tuesday

This Tuesday, Dec. 10, I’ll be part of our Dig Deep podcast live Community Conversations broadcast from the Ives Theater at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Our topic is “Strong Towns,” in honor of my podcast partner Chuck Marohn’s new book of the same name. The event is at 7 p.m. and is… Read More →

Change in the air; evidence on the highway

Most days you can sit by the window of the Subway restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minn., and watch pieces of wind turbines inch their way through the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. It’s quite an operation. State Patrol officers block the road. The driver must time the turn perfectly or run the risk of… Read More →