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

Tom Rukavina – Iron Range Icon 

Tom Rukavina passed away on January 7, 2019 after a courageous battle with leukemia. Tom was maybe short in stature, but he will be remembered as a giant advocate for the Iron Range.  Tom seemingly knew everyone or their relatives, always found time to listen, discuss, perhaps even argue with his constituents but you knew he cared and you knew his loyalty to our region, our communities and the people of the Range.  Tom supported RAMS and appreciated the support RAMS provided for the region and we often found ourselves on the same stage, at the same rally fighting for the same causes. Tom was our closer at all of our events and he never let us down as he repeatedly found a historical reference, or use of a prop like a Zup’s grocery bag to make his point on the matter at hand.  Tom also took great pride in his family, his grandchildren and his heritage that included Italian and Croation geneology. He had a great sense of humor, civility and passion and will be remembered for years to come. I had the personal pleasure of hiring and working with his daughter Ida, so I always got a pass with Tom, even if we disagreed on an issue.  Tom, on behalf of RAMS and all the Range communities we represent, THANK YOU for all that you did, day in and day out a fighter to the end.  We love and will miss you.  Our love and support go out to Victor, Ida, Jean and Tom’s brother and sister and the Rukavina family.

2019 NEWEST MEMBERS TO JOIN RAMS:

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

2018 was another year of challenges for RAMS as an organization, and for the Range as a region. Much time and energy was spent trying to find a solution for the wild rice/sulfate standard issue that threatens the economic viability of our mining industry and local communities. While there was bi-partisan support in the legislature to find a meaningful solution, the Governor ultimately vetoed all options and left the problem for the next administration. Once again, this issue has been kicked down the road leaving the debate smoldering for another year,

2018 also left the Range and the region without any advancement in the expansion of rural, quality broadband, the economic engine for job diversification and growth in our region. The Minnesota Border to Border Broadband grant program was left unfunded after the paltry $15 million allocated by the legislature was vetoed in the 990 page omnibus tax bill by Governor Dayton. While Range communities have engaged in surveys, studies and conversations about broadband needs and possible expansion thanks to a Blandin – IRRRB grant program, without State, Federal and private funding, the expansion of rural broadband will remain an empty promise. RAMS and the MN Rural Broadband Coalition will lobby for $69 million in base funding for the Border to Border grant program during the 2019 session and have secured the support of Rep. Rob Ecklund as the chief author of the bill in the House. Sen Erik Simonson will be the lead author in the Senate and the Range delegation as a whole is a strong advocate for this funding request. One positive note, due to the diligence of an Iron Range broadband committee, a potential broadband project is being developed in conjunction with the NESC middle mile fiber as the backbone and CTC as the last mile provider…the City of Ely is also close to commencing a project to connect fiber to their downtown business core in 2019 …STAY TUNED!

2018 saw some positive developments for our region when the Trump administration lifted the 2 year moratorium on nearly a half million acres in the Rainy River Watershed. Finding no new evidence to conduct yet another environmental review, this action allowed for a renewed level of activity by multiple exploratory mining companies in the region. The Trump administration also approved the land exchange between PolyMet and the USFS that had lingered on far too long. Congressman Nolan succeeded in passing legislation on the land exchange that would void any legal recourse on the land exchange but to date the Senate has not been able to pass similar legislation despite the valiant efforts of both of our U.S. Senators. At the state level, both the DNR and the MPCA have issued the final permits required for the PolyMet project including the first ever permit to mine for a non-ferrous mining operation in the history of Minnesota mining.

2018 should also be remembered as the year two Iron Range rival communities joined together for serious discussions on joining forces to create a world class educational academy. Virginia and Eveleth/Gilbert school districts, led by two courageous and progressive leaders, Dr. Noel Schmidt and Jeff Carey, superintendents of those districts commenced conversations between their school boards and ultimately, their communities on the need for a real change in the delivery of education for future generations of Iron Rangers. These discussions should result in referendums held in both districts sometime in 2019 that could lead to a new campus, a new partnership, and a real enhancement in learning for generations to come. Congratulations to both districts and their communities for taking on this significant challenge for all the right reasons.

RAMS hosted numerous “Lunch & Learn” forums this past year brining our community leaders together to learn more about programs and opportunities available through DEED, MN HFA, or the PFA that can enhance the quality of life in their communities while minimizing the financial impact on local economies. The Northland Foundation took the lead in the region trying to address the child care shortage that is creating real concerns for employers on the Range. The IRRRB provided a grant that enabled a brave entrepreneur to open a new child care facility in Mt. Iron providing over 80 child care spots. Conversations on joint fire and ambulance services are taking place across the Range between multiple communities, and the Range mayors continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss best practices, how to share services and they remain committed to building a better future for their downtown corridors and communities.

I also have the pleasure of working with Range superintendents and appreciate hearing first hand of their tireless efforts to improve the educational opportunities for students across the region. Taking advantage of programs like EIP, (Education Innovation Partners) Joe Silko, and ALI (Applied Learning Initiative) Roy Smith, our Iron Range districts work hard to stay current and competitive with districts in larger and more affluent areas of the state. A number of districts are now working together via telepresence and other initiatives to provide a much more expansive curriculum to students than can be provided by individual districts on their own.

2019 is the 80th anniversary for RAMS as an organization. 80 years of challenges, up and downs, set-backs and victories. RAMS started in 1939 because of the threat imposed by the Oliver Mining Company to change the taxation of iron ore and the assessment of iron ore rich properties in our communities. RAMS and Fred Cina (the Godfather of RAMS) led the charge to approve the Taconite Tax amendment, RAMS sent a resolution to Congress in the ‘50’s in support of copper nickel and silver mining on the Range. RAMS has supported changes in how our schools are funded and successfully lobbied to secure $38 million dollars for capital improvements for our Iron Range schools. RAMS as an organization will remain engaged in the issues that impact our region. We will continue to march along with Jobs for Minnesotans and Nancy Norr, MinnesotaMining and Frank Ongaro, our friends in labor, trades, chambers and business as we make our voices and presence heard whether it be in St. Paul or Washington DC. Challenges will be ever present for our region our communities our schools, but for the past 80 years because of your steadfast support, RAMS has been a strong, recognized advocate for our region. 2019 will be a year of celebration and hopefully one filled with small victories for the Range. As the director I am confident that our board of directors, 24 dedicated and tireless public officials will continue working on your behalf, growing ever stronger – ONE RANGE – ONE VOICE, for another 80 years.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT, FOR YOUR ATTENDANCE AND FOR ALL THAT YOU DO AS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL, AS A BUSINESS, AS A SUPPORTING SPOUSE TO ALLOW US COLLECTIVELY TO WORK EACH AND EVERY DAY TO MAKE TOMORROW BETTER FOR OUR NEXT GENERATION.



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