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 →

State to fund Itasca County rural broadband proposal

Company officials just announced that Paul Bunyan Communication received a nearly $2 million grant from Minnesota’s Border to Broadband program to bring high speed internet to underserved regions. Their proposal would connect 1,250 households in rural Itasca County to better, more affordable internet options than currently available. My friend Tom Anzelc, fellow Balsam Township resident… Read More →