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Sheldon Willis

Sheldon Willis

Grand Rapids Granted Safe Routes to School Money

Two Grand Rapids schools were awarded Safe Routes to Schools grants. The Robert J Elkington Middle School and Murphy Elementary School were awarded $261,000 for sidewalk improvements. The Safe Routes to School infrastructure grants will support schools and communities in building separate pedestrian and bicycle facilities, crossing enhancements and traffic measures that reduce speeds such as medians, crossing islands, speed humps and signage.

Since 2006, MnDOT has received SRTS applications requesting more than $100 million. Approximately $17 million in grants were awarded, illustrating the gap between current need and investment.

To narrow that gap, Gov. Mark Dayton is recommending a $2.5 million annual base increase for bike and pedestrian infrastructure as part of his transportation proposal for the 2015 legislative session.

“The state has an obvious need to increase access to safe options for walking and bicycling,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “Safe Routes to Schools is a proven program that keeps children safe as they walk or bike to and from school.”

Safe bicycle and pedestrian access has many benefits, including reducing congestion around schools, reducing school transportation costs, and providing an opportunity for physical activity, which decreases obesity, improves health and supports academic achievement.

More information about the Safe Routes to School grants is on the SRTS website.

By |March 13th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Grand Rapids Granted Safe Routes to School Money|

Keewatin Taconite Idled

US Steel, the parent company of Keewatin Taconite, announced Thursday that it will idle its Keewatin plant on May 13th. Workers were notified today. US Steel attributed the move to “challenging market conditions that reflect the cyclical nature of the industry”.
The temporary idling could affect up to 412 employees. Some may be kept on depending on maintenance and operational needs.

By |March 12th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Keewatin Taconite Idled|

Essar Steel is Hiring

The mild December was good news for Essar Steel. Mitch Brunfelt, Essar Minnesota Director of Government & Public Relations, gave the Itasca County Rail Authority an update on progress at the site.
Right now, equipment is being shipped. During May and June, there will be between 600 to 800 construction workers on site. That will continue through fall.
Essar’s goal, according to Brunfelt, is to be commissioning facilities through the end of the year and ramping up production capacity during 2016. He expects Essar to begin blasting for ore in July- so there is a stockpile of ore waiting when the facility is complete.
Essar is hiring. Visit Essar Minnesota’s web site and you can apply online. The Northeast job service is also funneling applicants to Essar.

By |March 11th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Essar Steel is Hiring|

Itasca County Sheriff’s Administrator on Leave

An administrative officer at the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office has been charged with two felonies for using department technology to listen in to a private conversation.
48 year old Anna Cass allegedly listened in to a private conversation between someone she supervises and another manager in an interview room at the sheriff’s department in November.
The investigation was conducted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and is being prosecuted by the Lake County Attorney’s Office.
Cass is on paid administrative leave as of Friday March 6th.

By |March 9th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Itasca County Sheriff’s Administrator on Leave|

Essar Proposes Legislation

Essar Steel has proposed legislation to our representatives in the Minnesota House that would give the company seven years to pay back its $67 million loan to the state of Minnesota and Itasca County taxpayers.
State Representative Tom Anzelc said the company is asking for the authority to “go in the direction of reduced iron ore pellets and/or steel- if market conditions are suitable”.
Problems Representative Anzelc has with the request include making sure taxpayers are protected and the ownership of the infrastructure.
Representative Anzelc said, at this time, he is not comfortable introducing the legislation. He says that may change if conditions improve.

By |March 6th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Essar Proposes Legislation|

Explore Minnesota Tourism Dollars

Two years ago, the Minnesota Legislature appropriated money for tourism advertising. This year, state Senator Tom Saxhaug is author of the Senate bill re-authorizing marketing money for Explore Minnesota. According to Explore Minnesota, leisure and hospitality in Minnesota generate $10 billion in gross sales annually and that more than $600 million is generate in state sales tax. Minnesota’s leisure and hospitality industry employs more than 235,000 workers.
The marketing bill came before Senator Dave Tomassoni’s Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Budget Division Committee this week. Senator Saxhaug said Terry Madsen (marketing for the city of St. Paul), Megan Christianson (of Visit Grand Rapids), and Doug Killian (marketing for the Mall of America) testified before the Environment, Economic Development, and Agriculture Budget Division Committee. Committee deadlines are still a few weeks away.

By |March 5th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Explore Minnesota Tourism Dollars|

ISD 318 Looks at Facilities

Space is still is an issue that won’t be going away anytime soon for ISD 318 schools. At last night’s Independent School District 318 school board meeting, Cohasset Elementary was the focus of the facilities update. The video found on the school districts website highlights the issue of space the district is facing in all elementary schools.
There is a special school board workshop this evening (Tuesday 3/3/15) from 4-8pm in the district board room, focusing on facilities and what the future is looking like for the buildings. The meeting is open to the community.
Also at last night’s meeting, Assistant Superintended Rochelle VanDenHeuvel gave a technology update. She told board members that the original 1 to 1 initiative plan is being altered to get all high school students iPads this fall.
The next regular ISD 318 school board meeting is March 16th at 7 o’clock.

By |March 3rd, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on ISD 318 Looks at Facilities|

Clinton Township Overdose

Six people over-dosed last weekend in Duluth. Another two cases were reported in Clinton Township on Monday. Duluth police issued a warning over the weekend that there the eight drug-related overdose cases in the previous 24 hours.
This one was fatal. A 42 year old woman died from the over-dose and a 60 year old man received medical treatment.
Police are concerned for opioid users and warn of the risk of using these drugs as their content and purity is often unknown and can cause overdose deaths.
The cases remain under investigation. One of the most popular and common opioid drugs is heroin.

By |March 3rd, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Clinton Township Overdose|

David Thrasher Guilty

A Bovey resident was found guilty yesterday of a controlled substance crime and obstructing the legal process. An Itasca County jury found 61 year old David Vincent Thrasher guilty as charged. The charges stem from a search warrant executed at a residence in Taconite June 26th. Law enforcement found 3.5 pounds of Spice (synthetic cannabinoids), Adderall pills, and methamphetamine residue.
Thrasher is being held in the Itasca County jail until his sentencing hearing April 7th.

By |February 27th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on David Thrasher Guilty|

Tradesmen and Women Needed- in 20 years

Not every student is a good fit for a four year college. If we intend to ramp up manufacturing and industry, we’ll need trained people to run the equipment. Over the next 20 years, northern Minnesota is going to be seriously lacking in qualified tradesmen. Roy Smith, of the Applied Learning Institute, told Greenway School Board members last night that there are and will be good paying jobs here in northern Minnesota. He said we just need to make sure we have enough skilled tradesmen to fill the available jobs.

ALI programs available in north eastern Minnesota include: Industrial Tech, Pre-engineering, Construction Trades, Medical Systems, and Healthcare. Classes are available through local high schools in northeastern Minnesota through MNscu and IRRRB.

By |February 26th, 2015|Blog, News|Comments Off on Tradesmen and Women Needed- in 20 years|