Highway 53 bridge progress seen from the air

The Highway 53 bridge project between Eveleth and Virginia, Minnesota, continues to develop at a fast pace. Sure, the mine that required the major state highway to be rerouted, United Taconite, is still idled. And yes, this project involves snaking a new road around a man-made mountain, constructing the state’s tallest bridge across a mine pit,… Read More →

RAMS hires Dicklich as state lobbyist

The Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) hired former executive director Ron Dicklich as its state lobbyist this past week, according to Bill Hanna in the Mesabi Daily News. You might recall RAMS at the center of a controversy last spring when State. Sen. David Tomassoni was hired to succeed Dicklich as executive direct despite… Read More →

Feds OK environmental review on Highway 53 project

Federal regulators have approved the environmental review for the Highway 53 relocation project on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. The state seeks to move the existing road — a vital north-south artery for the whole region — to accommodate an old agreement with mining interests who wish to extract iron ore beneath the current road. The… Read More →

Highway 53 funding part of bonding bill deal

State leaders are announcing that a $373 million bonding bill will be part of the upcoming special legislative session, including $140 million in funding for the Highway 53 relocation/bridge project that fizzled out at the end of the regular session. From Patrick Condon in the Star Tribune: Dayton has yet to call a special session, which… Read More →

Timeless sound from Rich Mattson & the Northstars

When they performed in my Great Northern Radio Show in Ely last summer, I referred to Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling as “the First Couple of the Iron Range music scene.” The pair, based at Sparta Sound in a nearly abandoned mining location near Gilbert, is involved in so many projects and affiliated with so… Read More →

Local film festival to mark 10 years of ‘North Country’

The sixth annual first ever Duluth-Superior Film Festival opens today in downtown Duluth and runs through Sunday, June 7. Local films and those with a Minnesota connection will be screened for audiences at popular Duluth cultural sites including the Zinema Theater on Superior Street, Clyde Iron Works, The Red Star Lounge and Teatro Zuccone. The festival… Read More →

Iron Range musicians keep ghost town alive

It was a pleasant surprise to see a front page MinnPost feature on Rich Mattson and Germaine Gemberling of Sparta Sound over the weekend. This musical pair and their merry band are keeping the small mining location of Sparta alive with their church-turned-studio a stone’s throw from an active iron mine. From the Nov. 21… Read More →

Shared Iron Range high school plan falling apart

A major effort to build a shared high school for three Iron Range school districts is on the ropes after two of the three affected community school boards backed out of the plan in separate votes last night. Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school boards voted to end their involvement in the co-location of a new school… Read More →

East Range shared school plan having bumpy roll-out

One of the biggest stories on the Mesabi Iron Range this year has been the proposal to build a new co-located high school in Mountain Iron that would serve students in the Virginia, Eveleth-Gilbert and Mountain Iron-Buhl school districts. Jana Hollingsworth of the Duluth News Tribune penned a Sunday feature on the shared high school… Read More →

Iron Range officials fear dangers of Hwy 53 reroute

New problems arising from the much anticipated reroute of the Iron Range’s primary north-south highway might require more funding, officials now say. Highway 53 has to be rerouted between Virginia and Eveleth next year to accommodate mining by Cliffs Natural Resources at United Taconite. One version of the Hwy 53 reroute would dramatically reshape the… Read More →