Steve Giorgi
Executive Director
Phone: 218-780-8877
Email: SGiorgi@ramsmn.org

RAMS hearing 1940

Kawishiwi Falls - Ely MN photo by Adrian Koski 2016

Cuyuna

Moon over Queen City photo created by Matt Herberg

RAMS delegation with Senator Klobuchar

2016 Press conference on US Forest Service - Virginia, MN

DC delegation on land withdrawal 2017

Mayor Rick Cannata Wild RIce/Sulfate rally

New bridge at night photo by P Pluswick

Hwy 53 bridge Nov 2016 photo by F Luomanen

Pike Bay Marina Lake Vermilion

Tom Rukavina at rally prior to MPCA hearing at MCC

Ely Legislative Lunch

www.ramsmn.org

Range Association of Municipalities & Schools – RAMS
Summertime …news 

 A nice stringer of 18″ walleyes caught in Nungesser River.

MESABI METTALICS & RUMORS….
Rumors have been circulating non-stop about this project in Nashwauk.  Some of those rumors have been disparaging to RAMS claiming that our organization was interfering or impeding the possible pathway to completion of the mine project.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  RAMS as an organization has done nothing more than ask Governor Walz for a meeting to discuss the status of the project. The RAMS board of directors has not taken any position, but asked to be kept informed by going to the actual people who should know the facts on the mine project.  Unfortunately, Governor Walz has declined our invitation for a meeting, but has agreed to have his staff and members of the DNR continue to share information via conference calls with local elected officials, the Range delegation and RAMS as well as members of the WMMPB.

As an organization, RAMS also hosts meetings with the Iron Range Mayors.  This group of elected officials is independent of RAMS and has the ability to take positions on issues of local interest and is another means of communicating with the Governor and other high ranking officials.  In February, the mayors sent a letter to Governor Walz asking for a meeting to discuss this project.  The Range mayors also indicated to the Governor that they preferred Essar not be involved in the project and they did not want leases extended.  .

RAMS has been supportive of this mining project for well over a decade.  Ron Dicklich, former RAMS Director was one of the people originally involved in the development of the concept and marketing the project to area mining companies. RAMS recognizes the potential long term economic benefit of this mining project and the inclusion of “added value” HBI pellets and electric arc furnaces located on the Range.  Unfortunately, Essar Steele did us no favors with their management of the project, bankruptcy, change in ownership, delays, non-payment to contractors and broken promises time and time again.

Tom Clarke seemed to be our savior, and he turned out to be less than forthright with his promises and supposed finances.  Last November at a public meeting at the Nashwauk Township Hall, Gary Heasley promised major construction would begin in March with financing from Mercuria and that has turned out to be another broken promise.

Now Essar is back making surprise visits to the mine site and seeking extensions from the DNR on leases and permits.  As clearly stated by Jess Richards  (conference call on June 12) from the DNR,” Essar holds no leases or permits at the mine site.  Mesabi Metallics holds the contracts and that is who the state will deal with and the debarment of Essar is still before the Dept. of Administration”.

If anyone wants to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me or the president of RAMS, Pat Medure.  ONE RANGE –ONE VOICE = SUCCESS.

ENJOY THE 4TH OF JULY …LOOK FOR A RAMS LUNCH AND LEARN LATER IN JULY.

 

2019 NEWEST MEMBERS TO JOIN RAMS:

Balkan Township – Thanks to Peter Clevenstine
City of Eveleth – Thanks Mayor Bob Vlaisavljecich
City of Cook – Thanks Mayor Harold Johnston

The Range Association of Municipalities & Schools is always looking to add to the membership base.  The RAMS motto: “ONE RANGE – ONE VOICE” becomes even stronger with every new member.  Already in 2019, RAMS has been pleased to announce the addition of 3 new Corporate Members:
Colosimo, Patchin, Kearney & Brunfelt LTD. – Thanks Mitch Brunfelt
Komatsu Mining Corp.   – Thanks John Ward
ICS Consulting  – Thanks Jeff Schiltz

RAMS is grateful to the continued, growing support of our regional business community.  RAMS is grateful to these companies for their support and membership, and encourages your community, or business to consider becoming a member.  Contact Steve at:  sgiorg@ramsmn.org for more information.

Fostering economic development across Minnesota’s Iron Range

One Range… One Voice

Ensuring the voices of our Range cities, townships, and schools will be heard on the issues of economic enhancement and quality of life.

Serving Cities, Townships and Schools since 1939.

The Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) was created in 1939 by the joining together of the Range Civic Association and the Range Municipalities Committee to promote legislation beneficial to its membership.
The main function of RAMS is to monitor proposed State and Federal legislation and determine how it may affect Association member units of government. The Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) works closely with the Iron Range Delegation, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) , and area economic development entities to further community development and quality of life for all member units.


Charles Baribeau – Virginia City Council & RAMS Vice President

RAMS as an organization advocates for issues of regional importance, such as modifying the wild rice/sulfate standard to afford local municipalities an affordable treatment process based on science with proven results.  RAMS supports allowing mining exploration and submission of a mine plan that shall then be reviewed by the EPA, MPCA, DNR, and must meet or exceed environmental standards before being permitted.  This should apply to precious mineral mining not just iron ore mining.  RAMS also advocates and supports collaboration by school districts on the Range to truly enhance educational experiences and opportunities for generations of Rangers to provide them a pathway to successful and prosperous futures.

 

Message From Director

Great stuff happening on the Range

Far too often, Rangers are faced with a struggling economy, depressed populations and little to no good news. Well for a change the Range is bubbling with positives, exciting developments, jobs and even nice summer weather. Starting with some great accomplishments in a somewhat dull legislative session, the Range, thanks to our great bi-partisan delegation, brought home some very impactful legislative gains for our Region.
MUNICIPAL TACONITE TAX CHANGE:
This change that RAMS has made a priority for the past three sessions, was passed and will result in the elimination of the deduction in the formula, provide for an increase of over $450,000.00 next year for our communities and will see increases in the formula via a portion of the escalator clause being applied for years to come. While the net gain for some communities will be minimal, it is a much better formula than previously and gains are always better than reductions in the annual payment.
LGA – Local Government Aid Increase:
Governor Walz made this a priority of his campaign and thanks to the hard work of our DFL led House majority and bi-partisan support in the Senate, LGA payments will trend back to the level cities were accustomed to prior to the massive cuts by former Governor Pawlenty. LGA is critical to our rural communities that do not have a large industrial or business tax base. Included in the LGA legislation was a bonus for the city of Virginia thanks to Rep. Dave Lislegard and Senator Tomassoni, the city will receive a one-time payment of $5.4 million in 2021. This payment will reimburse the city for the expense of moving their utilities across the new “Tom Rukavina” bridge on highway 53.
While legislative gains also included funding for multiple trails systems across the region, it also included a million dollars for the new mine exhibit in Chisholm, $40 million for Border to Border broadband grant program, funding for the city of Floodwood’s pond system rebuild, money for the Silver Bay recreation camp site and numerous other beneficial allotments.
EDUCATION ON THE MOVE ACROSS THE RANGE:
The Iron Range is starting to see things never before imagined with our local school districts. Thanks to the courageous and bold leadership exhibited by Dr. Noel Schmidt (Virginia ISD 706) and Jeff Carey (Eveleth-Gilbert Schools) three communities came together, worked through the myriad of issues and passed a referendum for $181 million dollars that will result in the construction of a brand new high school campus in the Midway area as well as two new elementary buildings– one in Virginia and one in Eveleth. The boards are currently in discussions about consolidating the two districts and working with consultants, architects, community groups and staff to finalize a design, secure the land for the campus and develop the learning academy curriculum for the new school. RAMS is excited for the communities and the endless possibilities for the students who will be introduced to an entirely new way of learning and preparing for life after school.
Grand Rapids ISD 318:
More new schools will be going up on the west end of the Range with two new elementary buildings being constructed for the Grand Rapids school district. This $72 million dollar project will again provide a modern more student friendly learning campus for years to come on the west Range. The district and the city are also working to secure funding to enhance their community ice arena to include a new child care facility, learning spaces and other recreational activities. Grand Rapids is also in need of a new superintendent after being notified this summer that Joni Olson was retiring.
Iron Range School Collaboration:
A number of school leaders and districts have pooled their collective talents and are offering a variety of summer camps for students in grades 5 – 8. Outdoor activities, artistic learning, STEM or STEAM offerings and other unique classes are being made available at multiple sites and transportation of being offered to assure students are able to attend. Grant funding from the Department of IRRR helped make the program possible and our Range delegation will continue to work to secure funding from the State in the next legislative session.
Hibbing School District:
The Hibbing school district made a decision this spring to offer a Learning academy curriculum starting this Fall. They expect up to 150 high school students to participate in this new learning opportunity where they will be exposed to working with local businesses, internships, hands on learning experiences and other new opportunities. Hibbing is also looking to replace Superintendent Brad Johnson who announced his retirement from the District in May.
Broadband Expansion:
The Legislature agreed upon $40 million in funding for the State Border to Border Grant Program for the next two years. This will once again open up opportunities for rural communities to take advantage of the 50/50 grant funding program and expand high speed broadband in unserved or underserved areas of the state, many that are found in the TAA. Cherry Township working with CTC and the Northeast Service Cooperative has submitted an application for a Federal grant that would provide fiber to the home for over 400 sites in the Cherry Township area. Meanwhile the city of Ely also working with CTC is preparing to connect fiber to the downtown business corridor this summer and will consider expanding to homeowners in the near future. The SideLake area northwest of Hibbing is bringing in fiber thanks to a project with Paul Bunyan. Thanks to the Dept. of IRRR and the Range Delegation acting as the board of directors for including broadband funding in their infrastructure grant budget for 2020. This will not enable progressive communities from applying for funding for broadband projects just as they would for a sewer line repair.
Yes, there are still many challenges facing our community leaders on the Iron Range, but because of our “never say die” attitudes and willingness to work hard for what we need most, positive changes are happening all across the region. As we say at RAMS, “ONE RANGE – ONE VOICE” equals more strength, I hope the growth of RAMS has shown the power we have when we all pull together.



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