Highway 53: So much to keep what we have

MNDOT rendering of Highway 53 plan

MNDOT rendering of Highway 53 “1A” plan. PHOTO: Minnesota Department of Transportation

Iron Range news
Planning continues for the Highway 53 reroute project between Eveleth and Virginia, Minnesota.

For those just catching up, an iron mine is invoking a 50-year-old agreement that the state would move the highway when mining activity reached the ore reserves underneath. Highway 53, however, is one of the most important roads on the Iron Range. Moving it is neither easy nor affordable.

At this point, reading a recent John Myers report on the Highway 53 progress, I am blown away by the sheer scope of what needs to happen. It’s hard to see any way to avoid spending hundreds of millions of dollars. All to keep a highway we already have, so that an existing mine can stay open for a few more years.

I understand why we’d want to keep United Taconite open, but the language being bandied about makes one thing clear: It’s not if United Taconite shuts down, it’s when. We don’t want it to happen in the next few years, but it probably will happen anyway within a decade or so. We’ll be down to four or five mines on the Range fairly soon.

This is exactly the kind of conundrum that plagues the Iron Range these days. We have arrived at the moment in history when the region should be demonstrating independence from the single industry that prompted its settlement some 100 years ago. But lack of perspective and short term economic incentive makes this goal an afterthought at best. So we don’t invest in broadband internet on the local level because of the cost. We don’t invest in making our aging towns more beautiful because of the cost. But we’ll dive whole-hog into half a billion bucks to build a bridge to replace an existing functional Highway 53.

So why don’t we invest in high speed internet and community development? Well, we can’t now. We’ve got a highway to build, don’t you see! We could get another 10 years out of U-Tac!

Do you catch the circular logic here?

There’s really only one way to do this Highway 53 project in a way that is not soul-crushingly pointless: to build a route that fosters economic diversification. The bridge pictured in the MNDOT diagrams is visually stunning. The bridge (if it is a bridge) and the corresponding development must be done in a way that sends a message to future generations that people lived here, died here and sacrificed for a better future. Driving this bridge should inspire awe, and will require architectural and artistic influences. The new entrances to Virginia and Eveleth must follow suit.

Even that could be argued as a financial boondoggle, but it is a one-time opportunity to create an unforgettable welcome mat to a new Iron Range century. The worst case scenario here is that a vast amount of resources are spent on a project that gives the Iron Range just the bare minimum. Unfortunately that’s the most likely outcome, because that’s what we’ve gotten at every turn since the early 1980s: Churches in Morton buildings, architecture in a box.

Another reminder: the resources belong to the people. We must balance the value of those resources with the needs and best interests of society.


  1. Fred Schumacher says

    There’s no Oberstar, no earmarking, and the Highway Trust Fund is rapidly running out of money. I would not bet on federal funds to move 53. Four-laning from Britt to Cook may be the last we see of improvements to this road. http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/07/the-us-is-heading-over-the-transit-cliff/373773/

  2. Ranger47 says

    If your thinking dominated when the whole town of North Hibbing was relocated or the Scenic Hwy from Bovey to Taconite was moved to bypass Taconite…the Mesabi Range would still be pines, poplar, birch and lakes, and the ore that was mined producing 100’s of thousands of well educated legal citizens would still be in the ground…along with all those successful careers. But you along with the few folks living here would all be burning oil lamps for light, heating their saunas with wood, managing junkyards & singing kumbaya. Internet would be the last thing on your mind. That’d be cozy…

    • Leah Rogne says

      But the point is that Aaron isn’t writing at the beginning of an iron mining boom at this site but rather at the end. His article is predicated on the fact that hundreds of millions are to be spent on a quickly vanishing resource, not a resource that will last more than 100 years.

  3. Aaron, you answered your question in the beginning of your rhetoric article. Why is it happening? Because of the legal agreement between the state and the mine made 50 years ago. Do legal contracts lose validity just because some people don’t like them as time passes. Whining about this happening is like winning because the sky is cloudy when you think it should be sunny. The responsible and only thing the state can do is honor the contract or face legal action that would cost them in excess of what it would cost to just move the highway. It’s a mute point, why try to muddy the waters with arguments that have no bearing. Maybe you should have went to one of the numerous public information meetings they held to answer questions like these and hear concerns from people in the communities….

  4. I should have gone to the public hearings because I would have learned _______? Sure there’s a legal agreement. And I get the situation. But this is one of the most important infrastructure issues of our generation and I’ll not have us pushed around by the mine. We shouldn’t think like that. This fatalistic “Guess we better get in line and do what we’re told” attitude is killing the Iron Range and this is just one example. What are we getting? What’s in it for the people? Is it worth it? I’m never, ever going to apologize for asking those questions. Shame on anyone who doesn’t.

    • So legally binding contracts mean nothing to you? Or the fact that if the state didn’t honor the contract, it would in fact cost more money then if they moved the highway. If you would have done the responsible thing and educated yourself on the topic by going to said meetings or even perhaps doing some independent research you would know that to be truerl0

  5. Again, I’m aware of the situation. Legal contracts are legal, but the public interest is at stake. Those documents were drawn up in 1969 when I was NEGATIVE 10 YEARS OLD and now I’m watching my region sink its whole transportation kitty in ponying up to another generation’s folly. Pardon me if I make some noise. I love the inference that because we disagree that I must not have read about the topic. The cost differential is an issue I’d like to see explored, and if you read my post I don’t discount the idea that we will move the highway anyway. What I don’t want is a lame, pathetic low-end cookie cutter project with no soul that fails to beautify and enhance these two important towns. Is anyone talking about that? No, it’s all about protecting highway access for a handful of small businesses with aging baby boomer owners and making sure the mine carries on a few more years. That is the sort of thinking that is killing this region.

    • And I’d add that anytime a region is on the hook for $100-450 million to replace an otherwise functional highway we should look LONG AND HARD at ourselves. This is a gut check for the Range. Try looking from the outside in and think how you’d react if you were considering moving here or investing here. Is this region ready to diversify?

  6. So you are upset about the project and that all the transportation money is being thrown into it but since we have to do it, you want them to spend even more money that we don’t have to make sure that it looks pretty when it is all done? Just making sure I understand what you are saying here. If that is the case, that makes no sense at all…. And while we are at it, throwing businesses under the bus that have been staples in these communities for many many years and brought countless jobs and funds to the area. But according to your logic, who cares, they are old…. You clearly are a real compassionate person for the communities you live in. Oh wait you live in Itasca County. I applaud you for trying to be a voice for the Iron Range and I know in your heart you believe you are doing the right thing. Unfortunatley you are years too late on this one. Maybe you should have joined the argument when you could have made a difference.

  7. My friend, you miss my point entirely. In focusing on the details of the cost comparisons, buy-out options, engineering concerns, and road access, we miss the larger picture of how we are planning our communities for the real likelihood that mining employment will not increase significantly over the next 20 years. Even if the other projects go forward, they will only replace jobs lost when iron mines consolidate in the next decade. We’re even, still aging and still losing population. That is a losing scenario.

  8. I am too late. I was born too late to change this mess.

    And my family is from Eveleth. Don’t be laying that east side west side crap on me. That’s another thing setting us back to the Stone Age.

    • Being from Eveleth originally as you say, I find it disturbing that you are so quick to throw EJ and Mr. Aho under the bus so quickly as “aging baby boomers”. Apparently their businesses, which have nothing to do with mining, which as you already stated is doomed anyway, don’t matter to the Iron Range and aren’t worth trying to protect.

  9. I don’t think you give the people of the Iron Range credit. Take for instance the community of Hoyt Lakes. Two protects ready the break ground and start operations on an entirely new form of mining. One still mining the iron in our ground and the other mining a plethora of other resources. The hold up is the legislators down in St. Paul. The Mesabi Nugget project just boggles my mind. What is taking so long to get permits to mine a former mine? Also the addition of the wood processing plant that is on it’s way to that community. Anyway I digress. My point is that we have been looking forward and planning for a future. Fortunately what we have to offer in this area is the collection of natural resources, Unfortunatley, we have people who don’t live here and know nothing about our way of life or culture that are trying to interject how we should live and what we should do. The main thing killing the Iron Range are the people blocking any progress we try to make.

    • Elanne Palcich says

      Mesabi Nugget is already permitted and operating. However, it is operating under a variance from water quality standards because reverse osmosis pollution control equipment would be too costly and/or may not work properly.
      Google: Mesabi Nugget Delaware, LLC NPDES/SDS Permit No. MN0067687

  10. Ranger47 says

    “Legal contracts are legal, but…” – Aaron Brown

    It’s obvious Aaron is simply following his leader. Laws – legal agreements can and should be broken when things don’t go his way. “From recess appointments to warrantless cellphone searches to Obamacare, the White House lost big this term at SCOTUS. Obama has perpetrated more than 40 suspensions of laws”. – Times 7-2014

    It’s no wonder why an all-time low (26% of the population) think the country is headed in the right direction. Promoting lawlessness and acting lawlessly will do that to a society.

  11. jeber- I don’t give the people of the Iron Range credit? I’m trying to give them new points of view that don’t come from the same old characters who locked us into failed planning.

    You mistake my comments as being tied to specific people. Mr. Aho runs a fine pair of hotels (I don’t know who EJ is off the top of my head). But he wasn’t who I was talking about. My point was we can stretch ourselves backwards trying to appease the current generation of outspoken baby boomers and there is a reasonable chance that not all their businesses will survive the generational jump coming in the next 10-20 years. Nor will the mine. So why aren’t we approaching this project as a growth opportunity, a way to foster strategic new economic growth? Because it’s too expensive? As I’ve said, it’s going to be the most expensive thing we do for a generation one way or the other.

    As far as your other comments go, I’m very frustrated with the thinking that our problems are attributable to Twin Cities environmentalists. Frankly, that’s a pack of nonsense, a “boogie man” argument pushed by the likes of St. Louis County commissioners and big shots who want someone to blame if the rosy promises of new projects don’t pan out for some other reason. Polymet will give us 300 jobs and, hey, I’ll take that. But it ain’t going to bring back our population. We need to be smart about this. I’m reminded of the old tent show revival trick that if someone isn’t able to be “healed” by the touch of the preacher the problem was that somebody in the audience didn’t believe hard enough. It’s an old, old trick and I’m not falling for that. Most of the environmental movement is lucky to organize a social hour, much less a cogent, effective political maneuver. All the power is concentrated in the hands of longstanding Iron Range political brokers.

    And Bob — come on. Legal contracts are legal, but …. your beloved private companies, including 3M, wiggle out of them all the damn time when it suits their interests and you know that. Everything is negotiable. And spare me the Obama ranting today, I’m not in the mood.

  12. You talk like you think I’m some old timer baby boomer. I can assure you I am definitely not. As far as the politicians, isn’t that exactly what I said in my previous comment? If I wanted to be reminded of it, I would have re-read what I said. I don’t believe I once said anything about the environmentalists. They serve an important part of this whole process. A checks and balances if you will. And how exactly are the county commissioners anywhere to blame when it comes to permits from the state? Mines don’t employe nearly as many as the used to because of increased technology and hiring skilled contractors to do quite a bit of work. That is where the population has dropped off.

  13. Ranger47 says

    I understand Aaron that you’re in no mood for Obama. A record low number of citizens are in no mood for Him, worst president out of 12 in the past 69 years (Quinnipiac, 7/2/2014). However, he’s in a position to destroy the very fabric of our beloved country…and is. So we must speak out or the rocks will..

  14. Aaron you are obviously strong in your beliefs, as am I, which I respect. It would be foolish for either one of us to expect to change the other one’s mind. My goal today was only to open your horizon to the other side of the fence. A view point not argued is a wasted venture. Thank you for the debate. I wish you luck in your ventures!

    • Ditto, jeber. We wouldn’t be jawing if we didn’t have something important to jaw about. I think we’d find a lot in common in practice. Different perspectives are always good to see.

  15. Ranger47 says

    You pompously denigrate 3M. You say they broke contracts “when they felt like it”. You say they “wiggled” out of them, as if they’re criminals and don’t respect the rule of law. Name me one case…

    As you attempt to find this illegal act committed by 3M consider the following:

    3M ranked No. 5 on Booz & Company’s 2013 Global Innovation 1000 study’s survey ranking of the 10 most innovative companies.

    Among top consumer brands around the world, 3M ranked ninth overall in customer satisfaction in a 2013 survey conducted by ForeSee, a Michigan-based firm that measures customer experience with top brands.

    Scoring 84 out of 100, 3M ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction in the Technology & Electronics category, finishing ahead of companies such as Apple, Sony and Philips.

    For the third consecutive year, 3M was named a Thomson Reuters 2013 “Top 100 Global Innovator.”
    3M was recognized as one of America’s most community-minded companies in “The Civic 50,” an annual survey that identifies and recognizes companies for their commitment to improve the quality of life in the communities where they do business. The survey measures civic engagement programs of S&P 500 companies. 3M’s partnerships with organizations such as American Red Cross and United Way to deliver aid through its 3Mgives program were cited.

    3M made four of Fortune’s high-profile annual lists earning a spot on the magazine’s 2013 “Blue Ribbon Companies” list.

    3M ranked 21st on the “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, the highest position held by a medical equipment company.

    3M ranked No. 24 on research firm Universum’s list of “Top 100 M.B.A. Employers” for 2013. Partnering with more than 320 universities across the U.S., Universum surveyed 75,000+ undergraduate and M.B.A. students to create the 2013 U.S. Ideal Employer Rankings.

    3M also ranked No. 38 among the Top 100 Engineering Employers.

    3M was named among “The Top 20 Best Companies for Leadership” in a study conducted by global consulting firm The Hays Group. The list ranks companies for leadership around the world and examines how those companies nurture talent and foster innovation in their organizations. According to the study, the best companies for leadership are purposeful and strategic in developing, enabling and motivating leaders throughout the organization to do their best. 3M has been focused on building leadership capability across the company for decades and has a broad definition of leadership, including thought leadership, process leadership and project leadership, as well as people leadership.

    3M ranked No.13 in the 2013 study, and has appeared on the Top 20 Best Companies for Leadership list five times since the list’s inception in 2005. The 2013 survey included responses from nearly 18,000 individuals at more than 2,200 organizations worldwide.

    3M ranked No. 34 on CR Magazine’s list of “America’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens”. The list ranks companies in the Russell 1000 index based on publicly available information in seven categories: environment; climate change; employee relations; human rights; governance; finance; and philanthropy.

    3M came in at No. 7 in the “Brand Asia 2013” ranking based on a brand power survey conducted by Japanese consulting firm Nikkei BP. The survey evaluated 100 brands in 10 product categories.

    3M ranked No. 17 on Business Insider’s list of “50 Best Employers in America.” The business website ranked 2012 Fortune 500 companies using data collected by PayScale through employee surveys.

    3M employees reported high rates of relaxation (44%), flexibility (79%), satisfaction (77%), and meaningfulness (59%).

    3M’s median pay at $82,400 (after five years) is high compared to industry peers, according to Business Insider.

    3M employee benefits mentioned: standard medical, dental, and vision health benefits; life insurance and retirement; benefits to same-sex couples in domestic partnerships; child and elder care consulting services; smoking cessation program; stress management coaching; and an on-site pharmacy and medical clinic.

  16. Ranger47 says

    3M ranked No. 21 on Fortune magazine’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies” (No. 1 in the Medical Equipment category). According to the rankings, 3M is admired for being one of the world’s most innovative companies; for instituting a policy allowing technical employees to spend up to 15% of their time on projects of their choosing; and for aiming to have 30% of its $30 billion annual revenue come from products introduced in the last five years.

    IndustryWeek named 3M Aberdeen (Aberdeen, S.D.) as one of the “Best Plants of 2013” in an annual salute to North American manufacturing excellence. The following four 3M manufacturing facilities were named finalists in the competition: 3M Decatur Film (Decatur, Ala.), 3M Edumex (Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico), 3M Greenville Film (Greenville, S.C.) and 3M Knoxville (Knoxville, Iowa).
    For its philanthropy, volunteer engagement and community impact, 3M earned United Way Worldwide’s highest national honor: the 2013 United Way Spirit of American Award. 3M was recognized for setting the standard for improving educational outcomes and creating more sustainable communities.

    As a science and technology company, 3M’s focus is encouraging innovation through STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). In 2012, 3M donated $56.6M in cash and in-kind to education, health and human services, arts and the environment. Of the total, $26.6 million went toward education, including supporting teachers and schools through ingenuity grants for STEM-focused school supplies and providing products, such as Post-it® Notes and mobile projectors.

    3M raised $8.6 million for 135 communities nationwide through its 2011 “Every One Counts. Live United” United Way campaign. In addition, employees volunteered 200,000 total hours. Globally, 3M employees serve on United Way boards in 16 U.S. states, as well as Brazil, Chile and Colombia.

    Education programs supported by 3M reach more than 7.6 million young people each year. Programs include science fairs and Generation Next. More than 1,700 3M employees volunteer nationwide to support education, including 500 St. Paul-based employees.

    3M’s facility in Guin, Alabama was named one of Alabama’s 2013 Manufacturers of the Year.

    3M was honored with a Silver U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award for providing more than 10,000 volunteer hours to Junior Achievement. Jack Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, presented the award to 3M noting the company’s 64 years of Junior Achievement leadership and the countless hours of dedicated work from 3M employees who have significantly impacted the future leaders of business and communities.

    3M was the first corporation to be presented the “Excellence in Mentoring in America: Corporate Leadership” award by the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR), a champion for youth mentoring in the U.S. 3M was honored for its commitment to advance mentoring throughout the nation and, in particular, in Minnesota. In 2011 alone, 3M awarded $60.9 million to education and charitable organizations.3M’s investment and leadership support was critical in getting the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota off the ground. 3M provides resources and encourages employee engagement in a wide range of mentoring programs.

    3M’s manufacturing facility in Villach, Austria was recognized for its energy efficiency efforts by the Austrian Ministry of Life within the country’s climate protection initiative “klima:aktiv.” 3M’s winning project improved heat recovery in the thermal oxidizer process and delivers savings of €200,000, annually.

    The German Sustainability Award Foundation recognized 3M for its exemplary resource protection. In 2013, 3M is one of the top three organizations in the special category “Resource Efficiency”.

  17. Ranger47 says

    3M ranked No. 24 on Interbrand’s 2013 Best Global Green Brands list of companies. Brand consultancy firm Interbrand commended 3M for its sustainability goals and performance, for making sustainability central to all its business activities, and for the numerous awards it garnered in 2013, including the Sustained Excellence Award from the EPA. To make the list, companies must perform well in both sustainability performance and perception.

    3M India was honored with the “Best Corporate Sustainability Endeavor Award 2013” from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The award recognizes 3M’s efforts toward sustainable development in research and development, and in the Environment, Health and Safety regulatory function.

    3M was named one of the top 50 socially responsible companies in Canada by Macleans, a weekly current affairs magazine. Macleans and Sustainalytics, a sustainability analysis firm, selected recipients in 10 categories based on their performance across a range of environmental, social and governance indicators. 3M Canada was one of four companies honored in the industrial category and was recognized for its commitment to reduce volatile organic air emissions. The company has reduced its volatile organic air emissions by 95 percent since 1990 by developing solvent-free technologies and pollution-prevention programs, and through the use of pollution control equipment. Maclean’s also applauded 3M’s executive-driven sustainability strategy, which is set, approved and directed by the company’s CEO and direct reports.

    3M’s environmental initiatives were recognized with a “Big Tick” Responsible Business Award by the United Kingdom’s Business in the Community (BITC) organization.

    3M was among organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for their commitment to energy efficiency and leadership under the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge.
    For an industry-leading ninth consecutive year, 3M earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year-Sustained Excellence Award for its comprehensive worldwide energy conservation efforts. No other company has achieved this distinction for that many consecutive years or as many as nine times.

    3M received Xcel Energy’s 2013 Energy Efficiency Expo Award, which recognizes Minnesota businesses that participated in the utility company’s 2012 energy efficiency programs. Among seven companies awarded for choosing more efficient facility equipment and processes, 3M achieved gas savings of 1,794,010 therms–the highest gas savings by a commercial customer.

    For the second year, 3M was recognized as one of Canada’s “Top 100 Employers” by Mediacorp Canada, Inc., publisher of specialized employment information. The award recognizes employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional workplaces for their employees. 3M was among winners of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ according to executive search firm Waterstone Human Capital, which founded the program.

    For the second consecutive year, 3M was named the “Most Innovative Company in Brazil,” receiving the 2013 Best Innovator Award from business magazine Época and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. 3M Brazil also won in the “processes” category of innovation.

    3M Healthcare won the “Sterilization Services Company of the Year” award during the Frost & Sullivan’s India Healthcare Excellence Awards. The awards recognize innovative growth strategies and solutions adopted by top companies in the health care industry for 2012-13.

    The German Sustainability Award Foundation recognized 3M for its exemplary resource protection. In 2013, 3M is one of the top three organizations in the special category “Resource Efficiency”.
    3M was named “The Most Admired Company in Chile” by Diario Financiero, a Chilean financial newspaper, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. 3M ranked high is categories including business strategy, financial results,

  18. Ranger47 says

    3M was recognized by the Great Place to Work Institute as one of the top 10 “Best Small Workplaces” in Ireland. 3M Ireland placed sixth in the category for companies that employ 20-100 people. Eligibility for the award is based on a “culture audit” detailing employment policies, as well as a survey of employees measuring the level of trust, pride, and camaraderie they experience within the organization. 3M Ireland has consistently climbed higher in the list each year since 2010, and this year marks its first among the top ten.

    3M Gulf was named a “Superbrand” in the United Arab Emirates for 2013.

    Popular Science named 3M™ Enhanced Combat Helmets among the “100 Best Innovations of 2013” for making our world safer and more efficient. Made by Ceradyne Inc., a 3M company, the Enhanced Combat Helmets provide unparalleled ballistic and fragmentation protection over today’s standard-issued helmets.

    3M™ LED Advanced Light received the Advanced Manufacturing Award at the Minnesota High Tech Association’s (MHTA) 2013 Tekne Awards. The 3M LED Advanced Light advances lighting technology by using light-emitting diodes (LED). Developed with 3M™ Multilayer Optical Film, adhesives and heat management technologies, the bulb provides energy efficiency and long-term cost savings over an impressive 25-year product lifespan.

    3M captured three 2013“New Product of the Year” awards from Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

    3M™ Molecular Detection System won a bronze Stevie® award for Best New Product (Health and Pharmaceuticals) in the 2013 International Business Awards.

    3M Cogent MiY-Touch Indoor Touch-screen Biometric Access Control Reader bested more than 80 other products to win the Judge’s Choice Award at the Security Industry Association’s 2013 New Product Showcase.

    3M Global Design Lab: BWBR Architects of St. Paul, Minn. and 3M were recognized for interior design excellence.

    Two 3M technologies received prestigious honors from the Edison Awards, a program conducted by Edison Universe to celebrate game-changing new products and services from around the world.

    3M™ LED Advanced Light received a Gold Edison Award in the Lighting category while the 3M™ Molecular Detection System earned a Silver Edison Award within the Diagnostic/Analytic Systems category.

    3M paid $9.38 in taxes in 2013
    3M spent $1.715 billion on research and development in 2013
    3M spent $1.665 billion in new capital investments in 2013 and $6.522 billion over the past 5 years.
    3M employed 34,719 people in the United States last year, over 15,000 of those in Minnesota.
    3M and the 3M Foundation donated $60.2 million in cash and products to educational and charitable institutions around the world.

    …..and the first time you’ve ever mentioned 3M on your blog you state “3M wiggles out of them (contracts) all the damn time when it suits their interests”. You’re a political blowhard Aaron..

    • Well, Bob, looks like I found the dragon’s one weakness. To quote another Bob, how does it feel? That’s exactly how I feel when you condescend and denigrate my character after every post that hints at politics. Words do matter. And hey, I actually don’t have a problem with 3M, I just wanted to piss you off. Do you notice that I’m willing to admit that?

  19. John Ramos says

    3M blows.

  20. Ranger47 says

    My response as Bob a 3M ambassador – An insincere critic of a sincere company never wins.
    My response as Bob the individual – Indeed, in a 1965 the other Bob was questioned if he was being too hard on people with lyrics such as “How does it feel”, etc. When asked – “Do you do this because you want to change their lives, or do you want to point out to them the error of their ways?” The other Bob’s answer – “I want to needle them”. Some Bob’s are just gifted communicators..

  21. GrewUpRanger says

    I see the different sides of this……I really do……but if there is a “side” to take, I have to agree with Mr. Brown. I left the range over 30 years ago, but I do still consider it my “homeland.” Sometimes, even without knowing the details, you get a clearer picture from the outside. I see an Iron Range which has pretty much given up. I see so many once proud facilities and buildings decayed because nobody has maintained them. I see old buildings neglected, and then demolished and replaced with tin pole buildings. I understand financial resources are not what they once were. I get that. It’s the reason I had to leave in the first place, although I always thought I would move back some day. I think it goes deeper than money. I think the Range has been beaten into submission by changing fortunes, and by the mining companies. I think the Range is clinging to whatever scraps are left, for fear of offending the mining companies. The pride is gone. I see it everywhere when I come up here to visit relatives. I don’t come up here as often anymore because frankly, I find it depressing. I know I’m not the only one.

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