Hibbing backs out of long planned Range sewer project

Last night the Hibbing City Council opted out of the Central Iron Range Sanitary Sewer District, leaving Chisholm, Buhl and other nearby townships on their own for a new sewer plant. Read the entire account from the Hibbing Daily Tribune. This project has been in the works a long time and I don’t quite know how I feel about this right now. Here is my initial gut reaction:

We on the Iron Range — officials, non officials, everyone — need to figure out how to make a long range plan on public services that crosses traditional government unit lines and then stick to it amid parochial criticism. There were problems with the governance structure of CIRSSD, but I didn’t see much effort to fix them. Who was doing the arm twisting? Why weren’t some of these problems anticipated in advance?

Frankly, the disappointing thing here is that everyone quoted in the story was hands off about the implications of all the wasted time, money and effort on this project. The local officials were concerned with their local issues, understandably. Rep. Tony Sertich was understandably focused on the logistics of the bill he and Sen. David Tomassoni had crafted in St. Paul. The local protesters of the project were understandably focused on the remaining mercury problem at the city’s existing sewer plant. It was all so understandable.

Great. Now what? Who’s in charge here? Nobody seems to have an eye on the big picture. That’s easy to ignore when the issue is a sewer plant that many townsfolk don’t want. But I’m just so damn tired of people on the Iron Range accepting change only when a budgetary gun is pointed at our heads.

Shared services and a regional plan is the only way the Iron Range can break the cycle of decline. This will require uncommon leadership from a large number of people across the Iron Range. Do we have what it takes to make our communities vibrant and competetive in these new times?


  1. Anonymous says

    Huzzah! That will show those Chisholmites what for after winning that basketball game back in ’52 (or whenever it was).

  2. Here’s my take on the sewer project. It never made sense to me to build a sewer line through an area filled with old underground mines, and through an area rumbled by Hib Tac’s blasting.
    It seems that the main impetus behind the sewer line was to then develop the highway corridor between Chisholm and Hibbing. Now that Hibbing has dropped out of the project, Hibbing officials want to use their money–not to clean up their mercury problem–but to further develop the Hibbing highway 169 corridor toward Kelly Lake.
    So exactly what is the “long range” plan for the “Range”?
    On a world basis, we are either at or beyond peak oil, which means that oil prices are going nowhere but up. We have no public transportation here on the Iron Range. How exactly are we going to define ourselves in the future–one big long highway strip, or vital small towns? How are people going to spend their transportation dollars? We need to work together–but for the benefit of people and community in the long run. We need more voices helping to decide that future.

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