Hibbing Tourist Senior Center deserves a break

In Austin, Minnesota, Hormel operates the world-famous SPAM Museum. Like Hibbing’s Hull Rust Mine View, there is no admission. They’re actually on their third museum, expanding in 2001 and again just two years ago. I’ve been there. If you want to know how random pork squeezings get turned into nebulous canned meat, they’ll tell you…. Read More →

Rise of the rural recreation economy

Here’s an idea. Go outside. That’s a good idea for anyone on a personal level. But going outside increasingly forms a rural economic recovery plan, too. On Sunday, I wrote about the challenges of a changing economy. In particular, the retail sector is shedding jobs amid consumer trends. This has an outsized impact on rural… Read More →

How position politics stymies our legislature

I’m going to explain why the Minnesota legislature ends in a flaming pile of tractor scrapings every year, but first you have to watch this vintage footage of a 1980s bicycle sprint. The first minute or so will suffice. Bicycle sprinting is a unique sport. The overall time doesn’t count. The only thing that matters… Read More →

Remembering my old neighbor Jack Lynch

During my blogging hiatus last week I received word that my old neighbor Jack Lynch passed away May 16 at the age of 83. Jack was a longtime reporter and editor for the Hibbing Daily Tribune, technically retired but still a fixture in the newspaper. Kelly Grinnsteiner, editor of the Tribune, wrote a lovely story about… Read More →

The dislocated workers we choose to ignore

NEWS FLASH: Officials today announced the shutdown of a major taconite mine on the Mesabi Iron Range. More than 700 workers will lose their jobs in the midst of an uncertain future for their industry. Here on the Iron Range, stories like this get our attention. We’ve been through them before. Everyone knows what to… Read More →

Money in politics is the ax, we are the wood

We stand miles of hard road from knowing who will be the next representative from Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District. Recent history predicts a tight race, both in the contested DFL primary and in the general election. We also know that it will be one of the most closely watched races in the country. Indeed, control… Read More →

Science warns that more cattails means more methane

Northern Minnesota is no stranger to cattails. These common reeds grow seed pods that look like corn dogs, but are, in fact, filled with downy fluff. (You only make that mistake once). In fact, during World War II Northern Minnesotans earned money harvesting cattails to replace cotton in pillows, furniture, life vests, seat cushions and… Read More →

Duluth, Hibbing ready for 2018 Dylan celebrations

This May 24, Bob Dylan turns 77. His twin hometowns of Duluth and Hibbing, Minnesota, prepare to celebrate with live music, tours and cultural activities. From May 19-27, the Duluth Dylan Festival brings something for fans of Dylan and the arts every day. The Hibbing Dylan Project also offers activities on May 19. Some of… Read More →

Remembering Ray Szmanda, the ‘Menards Guy’

Ray Szmanda, known to TV viewers of the Upper Midwest as “The Menards Guy,” died Sunday according to his son. He was 91. Growing up in the Duluth, Minnesota, TV market during the 1980s and ’90s meant watching this man sell home improvement tools and materials during nearly every local TV break. It wasn’t just… Read More →

New order unfolds in Minnesota’s 8th District

On Saturday, Republicans endorsed St. Louis County commissioner Pete Stauber for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth District. Unlike the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s 10-ballot non-endorsement last month, Stauber won his blessing in a single-ballot coronation. Stauber does not expect to face a meaningful primary challenge. His DFL opponents, on the other hand, face a potentially bruising four-candidate contest… Read More →