Iron Range state hockey hopes skate with Greenway

The Minnesota State High School boys class “A” hockey tournament begins today, always a cultural touchstone in this part of the world. Living in the Iron Range region of Northern Minnesota means dwelling among fever dreams of this state competition. Men and women are driven mad by title hopes, and sometimes spend a lifetime rueing… Read More →

In corporate welfare gone wrong, the end never comes

After 17 years of failure and broken promises, you’d think Excelsior Energy would just go away. But the largest Iron Range economic development failure in history isn’t done rubbing our noses in the grift.

Just nine miles remain on ‘Cross-Range Expressway’

I’ve told this story before, but my grandfather served on the Keewatin City Council in the 1960s. One of the most important pieces of city business at the time was largely out of his control. The state of Minnesota decided to rebuild Highway 169 as a four-lane highway, bypassing the city of Keewatin and many… Read More →

Road deconstruction season in northern Minnesota

People seem testy this summer. Is it the news? The local economy? Or is it because our drive to work has become infested with dump trucks and the oily smell of steaming asphalt. It’s road construction season. Nothing unusual there. In Northern Minnesota, summer stands as the only time for street, road and highway work…. Read More →

West Range Itasca County race takes shape

Last week I reported a vacancy on the Itasca County Board after Mark Mandich resigned his District 5 seat on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Two candidates emerged over the past few days. Ben DeNucci Nashwauk Mayor Ben DeNucci said he was running for the Itasca County Board. DeNucci owns a bar in Nashwauk and… Read More →

Road construction blitz mars Iron Range travel

Just as spring turns to summer, and summer gently fades to fall, so too will road crews hustle hard when the temperatures drop. The old joke goes, “Minnesota only has two seasons, winter and road construction.” Since road construction is limited by weather, the end of the season is often a mad dash against time…. Read More →

Magnetation coming back, but Plant 1 in doubt

Like other Iron Range mining operations, Grand Rapids-based Magnetation was battered by the collapse in iron ore pricing and domestic steel demand last year. The homegrown Northern Minnesota company declared bankruptcy and lost ownership interest to a hedge fund amid financial restructuring. In 2014, Magnetation had four plants running, salvaging old mining waste from decades earlier and extracting… Read More →

On the Anzelc-Layman race in MN-5B

This week Republican Sandy Layman of Grand Rapids announced her candidacy for Minnesota House District 5B in Itasca and Cass counties. She will challenge incumbent State Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township), who last week announced his plans to seek a sixth term. Layman is the former commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board… Read More →

Golden opportunity for broadband on the Iron Range


Many people reading this have access to reliable high-speed internet access for less than $60 a month. You use this bountiful bandwidth to work from home, communicate with family, attend college, or help kids with homework. But for people who live in rural townships throughout the Iron Range this service isn’t available. They pay twice… Read More →

Iron Range recovery requires connection to bigger world

Another winter day turns white in the woods of Northern Minnesota. Snow to shovel yet. Over in the sleepy mining towns, some excitement. Last night, the city of Virginia opted not to ask the group holding clothing-optional parties at the Coates Hotel to just go away. Lots of debate. 4-3 vote. “We need to bring… Read More →