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 →

National TV Taco Night in Taconite?

It’s entirely possible I learned about “taconite,” the iron laden rock processed into pellets to make steel, before I grasped the notion of “taco night,” a night in which one eats tacos. And I’m probably not the only kid from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range who can say that. My family never served Mexican food and I… Read More →

Magnetation to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Last week we reported the financial woes of Magnetation, the scram mining and iron ore processing company based on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Their partner and chief customer AK Steel declined to continue putting money into the company and Magnetation began working with financial advisors to keep the company afloat. Rumors were grim, to… Read More →

Dire challenges ahead for Magnetation

The scram mining company Magnetation appears headed for a make or break moment in coming months after partner AK Steel said Tuesday it would not put any more money into the company. Right now Magnetation processes waste rock at old Mesabi Iron Range mine sites into iron pellets that feed AK Steel’s operations in Indiana…. Read More →

‘Global highway’ would reach Minnesota

The head of Russia’s railway system revealed an extraordinary plan this week that may one day involve the state of Minnesota. Vladimir Yakunin, a high ranking member of Vladimir Putin’s cabinet and widely seen as a potential successor to the Russian leader, is proposing a global highway that would start in London and traverse Europe and all… Read More →

Rock and a hard place, change coming to the Iron Range

Some of life’s biggest myths are that 30 years is a long time, that today doesn’t matter, and that anything is permanent. Here on Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, the lessons of change that come from digging out the ground beneath our very feet have been hard learned. But what’s learned is so easily forgotten after those paltry 30 years…. Read More →

Report: Evidence of discrimination at Greenway school

Earlier this week I wrote a piece about the need for empathy amid racial discord on the Iron Range, mentioning the story of Isaiah Gatimu, a former Greenway student who faced racially-motivated harassment and later took his own life. The Scenic Range News Forum obtained a copy of the report from the Minnesota Department of… Read More →

A schoolhouse divided will not stand

Last week, the Nashwauk-Keewatin School Board voted to dissolve its shared services agreement with the Greenway School District on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Days later Greenway also backed away from most elements of the partnership. This marks the end of an experiment exposing many hard truths about the future of school and community collaboration on the Iron Range…. Read More →

Essar claims financing; Magnetation rolls pellets

It’s been a big week of economic news on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Late last week, Magnetation LLC, announced it was producing taconite pellets at its Indiana processing plant using iron ore concentrate recovered from Itasca County pits. “This first production marks another significant milestone in Magnetation’s history,” said Larry Lehtinen, CEO of Magnetation…. Read More →