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Minnesota Power to Close Units 1 and 2 in Cohasset

Minnesota Power has confirmed it is closing Unit 1 and Unit 2 at the Boswell Energy Center in Cohasset. Allete President and CEO Alan Hodnik said in a press release issued yesterday, “the decision to retire units 1 and 2, though difficult for our employees and host communities, is consistent with Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy of diversifying its energy mix, reducing its carbon footprint and evolving away from smaller, older coal generators”.
Thirty employees are directly affected and the company said it is working to avoid layoffs through attrition and retirements.

By |October 20th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Minnesota Power to Close Units 1 and 2 in Cohasset|

Itasca County discusses E-Cig Indoor Ban

The Itasca County Board of Commissioners took no action yesterday after the county health department asked for a county ordinance banning electric cigarettes, or e-cigs, from all spaces included in the Indoor Clear Air Act.
Commissioner Terry Snyder said the board has spent countless hours encouraging job growth. “The last thing I want to do is create hurdle”.
Board Chair Rusty Eichorn said he thinks the board felt it was a little premature to take any action right now.

By |October 19th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Itasca County discusses E-Cig Indoor Ban|

Grand Rapids City Council Forum

The candidates for Grand Rapids City Council participated in a public forum and City Hall on Friday October 14th. The forum was jointly sponsored by the Grand Rapids Herald Review, ICTV, and KOZY/KMFY radio. Here is the full audio of the hour and a half forum.

Grand Rapids City Council Forum

By |October 14th, 2016|News, Newsroom|Comments Off on Grand Rapids City Council Forum|

Magnetation to Close Final Plant

A U.S. bankruptcy court Thursday approved a motion to terminate Magnetation LLC’s pellet purchase agreement with AK Steel, marking the end of Magnetation. A statement from Magnetation, LLC.

“Now, our focus shifts to safely shutting down the Pellet Plant and Plant 4 in order to preserve their value for a potential buyer of the plants,” said Magnetation President Matt Lehtinen in a statement. “We are grateful for the contributions of the hundreds and hundreds of people over the last five years on this pioneering effort. We are hopeful that a buyer of the plants will be secured so that all stakeholders can look forward to a better future.”

Magnetation filed for bankruptcy protection in May of 2015.

By |October 6th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Magnetation to Close Final Plant|

Grand Rapids Business Man Pleads Guilty

A Grand Rapids business man is expected to serve one year in jail and be placed on 10 year probation after being charged with one count controlled substance crime in the third degree. Sixty year old Steven Donald Storrs of Grand Rapids pleaded guilty as charged pursuant to a sentence agreement with the prosecutor. Storrs was arrested May 4th in Grand Rapids and about 42 grams of suspected methamphetamine were seized from his vehicle. Authorities were searching Storrs business, “The Hawg Pen”, when they saw Storrs driving near the business. A canine search indicated a controlled substance in the vehicle.

By |September 27th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Grand Rapids Business Man Pleads Guilty|

Burgler Enters Home on 3rd Avenue South East

One man is in jail on charges of second degree burglary and theft after entering a home on 3rd Avenue South East in Grand Rapids and changing the locks. Tuesday, an unknown man entered the home and changed the locks. A resident of the house, who was outside at the time, asked the intruder what he was doing. He told the resident that the landlord had asked him to change the locks and that’s what he was doing. When the adult homeowner got home, the family was locked out. They called police.
Grand Rapids Police entered the home through an open upstairs window. Officers found the intruder sitting on the couch in the living room. With guns drawn and after multiple commands for him to lie on the floor, he did so. The homeowners don’t have a landlord and do not know the intruder.
He’s being charged with second degree burglary and theft.

By |September 22nd, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Burgler Enters Home on 3rd Avenue South East|

Suspicious Person Impersonates GR PUC Employee

The Grand Rapids Public Utilities Commission is warning residents about a suspicious person. A resident on South East 3rd Avenue had some one come to her door yesterday wearing a blue jumpsuit with Public Utilities on the shirt. This man asked for a child named “Lila”. There was no child there by that name. The man then left in a small silver car. Utilities personnel do not wear jumpsuits. Grand Rapids Police would like to talk with this person. If you have any information, please call 326-3464. If you are suspicious of a Grand Rapids utility worker, you can call the PUC to verify his or her identity.

By |September 21st, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Suspicious Person Impersonates GR PUC Employee|

Itasca County Deputy Back on the Job

24-year Itasca County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Bliss is back on the job- after an administrative law judge found his termination was unjustified. According to WDIO-TV, the administrator ruled Deputy Bliss did violate two department rules, but that was NOT sufficient to require termination.”
The incident regarding Deputy Anna Cass, and Deputy Bliss was central to Bliss’ termination. Sheriff Vic Williams, according to court documents, terminated Bliss in December citing thirteen instances of misconduct.
Documents say the arbitrator characterized the testimonies of Sheriff Williams, Chief Deputy Denise Hirt, and Cass as “not credible” and said that the three gave accounts that conflicted with all other witnesses.
In at least one instance the arbitrator said he believed the sheriff wasn’t truthful and that it “colors all of his testimony.”
Through an attorney, the Sheriff’s office declined to comment, saying it was a personnel issue.

By |September 16th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Itasca County Deputy Back on the Job|

Grand Rapids Area Held Captive

Western Itasca County is being held captive- and its hurting businesses. Burlington Northern is the only rail road service serving western Itasca County- and the lack of competition is costing residents and businesses money. Matt Radzak, Renewable Fuels Coordinator at Minnesota Power, said Minnesota Power is looking at its options. During the “Polar Vortex” a few years ago, Minnesota Power had only a week’s worth of coal on hand, forcing it to purchase more expensive power. At the same time, Burlington Northern was too busy hauling coal to ship in coal. \
Minnesota Power, UPM Blandin, and Itasca County have already investing time and money in studies to determine whether the cost of putting in a rail line from Grand Rapids to Taconite- to meet a second carrier- is worth it. The entities involved are also still determining who would own the rail line if it is built.

By |September 13th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Grand Rapids Area Held Captive|

Magnetation Settles Overtime Pay

A federal judge has approved a $750,000 settlement agreement between Magnetation Executive Officers Larry and Matt Lehtinen and Magenetation employees who alleged that they were not paid in full for overtime. The payment is in addition to the $804,000 already paid for unpaid overtime.
A seldom-used provision of the federal overtime laws provides that corporate officers may be held personally liable for the corporation’s overtime violations if the officers played a direct role in establishing the corporation’s employment terms.
Magnetation has been in Bankruptcy since May of 2015.
According to the Operating Engineers Local 49 web site, a “global” bankruptcy settlement was approved that will potentially allow Magnetation to cease operations later this year and sell off its remaining assets. Magnetation’s initial bankruptcy filings in May 2015 listed liabilities in excess of $1 billion and assets worth less than half that amount.

By |September 9th, 2016|Blog, News|Comments Off on Magnetation Settles Overtime Pay|