Iron Range 4th of July returns with gusto in 2021

Today I present one of my favorite annual features at MinnesotaBrown: the annual Fourth of July weekend lineup of Iron Range regional parades, street dances and fireworks displays. I’ve only been posting my newspaper columns this year as I finish my book. But I just had to come out of my book-writing cave to put… Read More →

The world changed and it’s not changing back

The iron mines run hot. Houses sell fast. Cars and trucks fly off the dealership lots, to the point where some customers must wait to buy one at all. Anyone raised amid the booms and busts of the Mesabi Iron Range would recognize this as a boom. And yet, dissatisfaction oozes from local dialogue. The… Read More →

Competitive legislative races slated across Northland

NOTE: This post appears in today’s Hibbing Daily Tribune as part of a news sharing arrangement. Generational change. A historically contentious presidential race. Not one, but two major parties devoted to legalizing marijuana. These factors and more will influence several interesting northern Minnesota legislative races that formed after last Tuesday’s filing deadline. Though the presidential… Read More →

With final permit, PolyMet project enters ‘prove it’ stage

Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the last required federal permit for PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. With this permit, the company now enters the next phase of its development: proving that it has the capital and ability to execute its mine plan. Local news and Northern Minnesota social media… Read More →

Iron Range DFL legislative primary pits Lislegard against Hainey

With so many races in the 2018 Minnesota primary, I’ve not spent much time analyzing the only legislative primary on the Mesabi Iron Range. It’s an interesting contest that will test some of my earlier theories about Iron Range politics in a new more volatile electoral environment. DFLers in House District 6B head to the… Read More →

Northern Lights brings Barber of Seville to Iron Range

Each summer the Northern Lights Music Festival brings a fully staged classical opera to stages across Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. This summer, festival founder Veda Zupancic and her company bring Rossini’s Italian comic opera “The Barber of Seville.” The festival also backs chamber orchestra, instrumental trios and kids programming across the region. Events kick off… Read More →

Summer 2018 brings color to Range communities

I drive through Nashwauk, Minnesota, most days. It’s a nice little town, but a little worn down. That’s not unusual for the cities of the western Mesabi Iron Range. These boom towns bloomed in a white pine wilderness a century ago, each at the mouth of a specific iron mine. Now that mining is more… Read More →

Open legislative seat spurs Iron Range DFL primary

We sense many disturbances in the 2018 Iron Range political force. (Apologies. It is May the Fourth after all). Setting aside the roaming Death Star of Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race, the Mesabi Iron Range also stumbled into an open legislative seat in District 6B. Current State Rep. Jason Metsa is running for the aforementioned… Read More →

L.L. Bean ‘Bootmobile’ headed to the Iron Range

Growing up in the rural environs just off the Mesabi iron formation, I became accustomed to the machinations of the bookmobile. Well, now Iron Range residents can expect a new arrival: the Bootmobile. L.L. Bean, purveyor of fine boots and outdoor clothing and accessories, turned a pickup truck into a giant boot. Now they tour… Read More →

Remembering Bill Ojala, radical conscience of the Iron Range

Bill Ojala, a former Iron Range legislator and later gadfly social justice activist, died last Saturday at the age of 92. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune penned a good obituary (“‘A true son of the Iron Range’: Lawyer, politician Bill Ojala dies at 92“) in yesterday’s paper. Ojala, descended from Finnish-American immigrants on… Read More →