IRRRB to discuss new projects, public works

IRRRBYesterday we previewed the new school proposal that the Mountain Iron-Buhl school district will make to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board when it meets at 11 this morning.

That’s pretty interesting on its own, but there are a number of other potentially controversial or politically intriguing items on today’s agenda.

First, the board will consider funding for Giants Ridge, the popular ski hill and resort that has nonetheless been an unprofitable weight on IRRRB budgets for a generation.

A handful of business loans and economic development projects are in the offing. A Bovey-based business seeks $1.56 million to expand its hunting and fishing product line.

The Duluth News Tribune paid some attention to a $300,000 request by the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resource Research Institute to explore new minerals on the Range, including a titanium-iron ore compound that could be mined near Hoyt Lakes. It’s another reminder that whenever there’s trouble on the Iron Range, you can count on someone to propose digging a new hole.

The IRRRB will also reconsider a tabled item from its last meeting. Magentation,Inc., had sought a production tax rebate for capital investment in its Itasca County scram mining operations. But the request was pulled from the docket for reasons unclear and tabled. Now they’re going to try again. It’s not clear what’s going on here. We have little chance of finding out, as I expect all the conversations have already occurred.

Public works projects! Scads of projects from throughout the Taconite Tax Relief Area (the IRRRB’s jurisdiction, parts of the state deemed affected by Minnesota’s mining industry). None seem controversial, but these tend to be where lots of horse trading has gone on. Here’s a list from the IRRRB:




Project Description

Grant Award

City of Aitkin

Infrastructure for a new dental clinic


City of Aurora

Infrastructure for Maple Drive development


City of Chisholm

City hall upgrades and remodeling


City of Cook

Vermilion Boulevard infrastructure


City of Crosby

Infrastructure development


City of Ely

Infrastructure development


City of Gilbert

Site development for new facility


City of Grand Marais

New public works facility infrastructure


City of Grand Rapids

Infrastructure development


City of Hoyt Lakes

Wastewater facility improvements


City of Marble

Water line replacement


City of Taconite

Infrastructure improvements


City of Two Harbors

City campground infrastructure


City of Virginia

Infrastructure for new facility


City of Winton

City hall/community center infrastructure




The aforementioned Iron Range School Collaboration Fund will be considered. The MI-B school proposal is one half of the discussion. A proposal to bolster STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum at some western Mesabi schools is also on the table.

The IRRRB press release lists the items on the docket. Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune previewed the meeting last week.



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