Getting financing back in place is the most immediate goal for Essar Steel MN. Mitch Brunfelt, Essar Assistant General Counsel, briefed the Itasca County Regional Rail Authority Tuesday afternoon. Essar’s repayment agreement for the $66 Million dollars in state subsidies is in the hands of Essar Steel. The agreement needs to be approved by the global company then by Essar Steel Minnesota before it comes before the Itasca County Board. Itasca County still has $1.2 Million dollars that sits unallocated from the project. Brunfelt said there are only 5 or 6 workers on site.
Attendance Matters. That’s the word from Kim Geislinger of Ross Resources- tasked with truancy control in three area school districts in our area. Last night, Kim presented attendance records for the Greenway campus and commended Van Dyke Elementary for having the highest attendance percentage of all the Ross schools with 98.38 percent attendance. Parents were asked to remember to make doctor and dentist appointments after school hours and plan vacations around the school year.
Also last night, the school board of Independent School District 316 heard presentations on Community Education and spring testing.
The board recognized three retiring teachers, Kathy Miller with 22 years of experience, Laura Groom with 15 years and Carolyn Eck with 21 years.
A one vehicle accident on the west side of Grand Rapids injured an Ely resident Saturday night. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 31 year old Joseph Vejtasa was driving east on Highway 2nd lost control. A witness said he was driving at a high rate of speed. Vejtasa crossed through the west-bound traffic and entered the west-bound ditch and rolled the Pontiac Vibe. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance. He was injured in the accident but his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Independent School District 318 has spent six months updating its technology to keep up with our devices.
TJ Russell, Technology Coordinator, gave the board an update during last night’s school board meeting of Independent School District 318.
Technology, including ipods, chrome books, phones, printers, and video, is also key to keeping students safe with cameras, security doors, and working video cameras.
Also at last night’s meeting, student Jamie Jordan received a plaque and congratulations for receiving a $22,000 Horatio Alger National Scholarship, accepted the retirement of 8 teachers- with a total of 200 years teaching experience, and discussed the mental health issues students face.
State Senator Tom Saxhaug indicated his intention to file for reelection this week. Saxhaug has served in the Minnesota Senate since 2002.
He has served as Chairman of the State Department and Veterans Budget Division, a member of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, and a member of the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
Senator Saxhaug is a lifelong resident of Grand Rapids. He and his wife Nancy have been married for 45 years.
The city of Grand Rapids has a new police sergeant. Officer Andy Morgan was sworn in as Sergeant at last night’s city council meeting. Grand Rapids Police Chief Scott Johnson made the presentation.
Also at last night’s city council meeting, City Engineer Julie Kennedy gave the council an update on next summer’s construction progress. On June 5th, two days after the last day of school, the Grand Rapids city will begin reconstruction of 5th street. Progress will start near Ogles Marketplace foods and move east to 8th street.
The council also approved a feasibility study by the Grand Rapids Arts and Culture Commission to examine whether or not the community still desires and will use an events venue on the Mississippi River.
Two semi-train accidents were reported this week.
The first, in Grand Rapids, Wednesday afternoon, bent the semi in half, spilled the entire trailer of wood, but no one was injured. The semi was traveling southwest in the parking lot on the west side of UPM Blandin when a train backed into it, according to the Grand Rapids Police Department. The semi was crossing the tracks and did not see the train. A brakeman on the rear of the train did have to jump off to avoid the collision. The train, traveling about 9 miles an hour, struck the middle of the semi and pushed it about 30 to 40 feet. The trailer was a total loss. The driver was not identified.
The second semi-train accident occurred Wednesday in Mountain Iron. According to the St. Louis County sheriff’s Office, 67 year old James Saatela of Iron was driving the tractor trailer. Saatela had just completed an inspection and was pulling out of County State Aid Highway 7 as a train approached. The train sounded its horn and warning lights were flashing when Saatela began to cross the tracks. The truck was dragged several hundred feet. Saatela suffered minor injuries.
Facilities remain an issue for Independent School District 318. At last night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Bruce Thomas shared with the board that a study of maintenance costs of existing elementary schools was being prepared for the February meeting.
Board members attend a number of meetings each month. Some of the information shared between district board members included how to continue the facilities discussion with the public.
The board was presented an Award of Distinction by the Minnesota School Board Association.
The board welcomed 8 foreign exchange students to the district from Germany, Trinadad, Zimbabwe, and Japan.
The board accepted the resignation of Forest Lake Elementary School Principal Sherry Colter, who will move to the high school as a Special Education teacher.
Custodian Marvin Helbert submitted his retirement after 31 years.
The district’s annual Endowment dinner is scheduled for February 11th at the Timberlake Lodge. Tickets can be purchased from the district.
The Grand Rapids Police Department has a new Police Sergeant and a new Police Investigator. At last night’s city council meeting, Andy Morgan was named to the Sergeant’s position and Kevin Ott named as Investigator.
The city agreed to accept a matching grant of $140,000 for two new electric Zambonis for the IRA Civic Center, entered into a $50,000 a year contract with Ross Consulting Golf, and passed a pay adjustment for the mayor and city council. The last time the council received a raise was in 2009.
Thanks to On-Star and quick thinking police officers, a local resident recovered a stolen car in 20 minutes. A resident left his car running when he went into a convenience store. When he came out- he saw a man get into his car and drive away. Grand Rapids police were called. They notified outlying law agencies and On-Star. On-star located the vehicle in Deer River. Deer River Police, Itasca County Sheriff’s Deputies, and the State Patrol recovered the unoccupied vehicle. Grand Rapids Police Sergeant Jeff Carlson reminds residents that while it may be convenient to leave a vehicle running for a quick trip into the store, don’t. He says, “It takes a thief only seconds to slide behind the wheel and drive off”.