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

Range Officials with Congressman Stauber

Itasca Ski Hill

June 4, 2021:  SANDY TOWNSHIP is the newest member of RAMS as the board voted to join us last week.  RAMS continues to advocate for our rural townships in their efforts to expand rural broadband. Sandy Township was partnering with Wuori Township and Paul Bunyan Communications this past fall in applying for a Border to Border grant for broadband, that unfortunately was tagged in the RDOF auction and became ineligible for the state grant funds. RAMS continues to support efforts to find funding and ways to get broadband to communities that show a strong support for broadband.  THANKS again and welcome to RAMS.  

May 26, 2021: RAMS grows again with the addition of FRENCH TOWNSHIP (https://www.sidelake.org/township).  Chair Bill Schuster was key to the membership decision and our appreciation goes out to him and the full town board.  French Township is pursuing funds to complete a broadband expansion project within the township and RAMS fully supports those efforts.  Welcome to our team, and thanks for the support of RAMS. 

Executive Director gives notice of his retirement:
After 6 years of service, Steve Giorgi (me) has notified the board of directors of his plans to retire from RAMS.  This is not an easy decision or one that came without serious deliberation, however the decision has been made and if all goes as planned, June 30 will be my last day at the helm of this great regional organization.  My thanks to all of those who have served as members of the board for their selfless commitment of time and energy to address regional issues.  My appreciation for the members of the Range Legislative Delegation. It cannot be put into words as they do so, so much for our region without fanfare or recognition.  I can’t thank Lois enough for her time (she is also retiring) and skills that made the operations run smoothly and without question above board.
There is still much work to be done as the legislature is headed for an uncertain adjournment on May 17th.  Thanks to Gary Cerkvenik and Jeff Anderson for their efforts and guidance on everything legislative and politics in general.  RAMS will carry on with our endless mission to make our region stronger, more prosperous and a destination for generations to come.  Thanks again for allowing me to share this journey together.

NEWEST RAMS MEMBERS:
RAMS is pleased to announce two new members on the Corporate member side of our organization. Corporate members are businesses or organizations that typically provide services to our communities or schools. The addition of Adolfson & Peterson Construction http://www.a-p.com/  expands our growing list of companies that build new schools, provide engineering and consulting services and provides a wealth of knowledge and experience on the development of new structures.  Please consider contacting Adolfson & Peterson Construction if you are thinking of a new building in your community.

Our other newest member brings a different perspective to the table as they primarily represent the workers in our Taconite mines, our industrial maintenance shops, healthcare facilities and waivered service organizations.  United Steel Workers District 11 https://www.usw.org/districts/11 and the thousands of workers they represent are a welcomed addition to RAMS and we look forward to continue our advocacy work together with the leadership of the USW as we have done in the past.

 

Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition Launches Statewide Speed Test Initiative

If you live in the land of ten thousand lakes, your help is needed. The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition has launched a speed test initiative to collect much-needed data from everyone in the state so that lawmakers and stakeholders can better direct broadband expansion efforts now and in the future. Hop over to the speed test page and give them a hand.

…Read the article…

2021  Newest members of RAMS…  GEO Partners a software mapping company that has been doing some amazing work on broadband speed tests, as well as broadband project mapping; cost estimates; hybrid projects that include wireless and fiber has become the first new RAMS Corporate member of 2021.  Welcome

2020 NEW MEMBERS:  Bois Forte Tribal Nation is the latest member of RAMS Corporate members.  This is a historic occasion for our organization and we are excited to have Bois Forte on our ever growing list of Corporate members.  Carlton County joined RAMS as a Corporate member in July of this year also!
RAMS is excited to announce that Crane Lake Township has joined the ranks of RAMS pushing our public membership to the largest in the history of our organization!  The continued growth of RAMS just enhances and strengthens our voice across the region, at the Capitol and with our Federal delegation.  Also joining on the Corporate membership side is DSGW Architects a firm that works with many of our local communities and school districts on building projects across our regionAnyone interested in membership contact Steve at: sgiorgi@ramsmn.org 

DATELINE – Thursday, May 21, 2020   BROADBAND SPEED TEST – TAKE IT NOW!

Two more counties have jumped on the speed test project bandwagon as this data is critical for broadband expansion in rural areas of the state and especially identification of unserved, or underserved areas based on FCC guidelines.  Itasca and Koochiching County both agreed to begin conducting a crowdsourcing speed test project so that they will be prepared for possible rural broadband projects in their remote counties.  St. Louis County in partnership with RAMS led the way and the results have been fantastic to date.  Tests from cabin owners and more remote communities are vitally important and will be targeted in the weeks to come in all three counties.  RAMS is excited and proud to be a partner with these counties and will assist with the projects as long as necessary.  GO TO THE BROADBAND TAB to see the maps of these projects.

St. Louis, Itasca & Koochiching County in partnership with the Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) is pleased to announce the formal public kickoff of a crowdsourcing project covering all areas of those Counties.  This broadband speed testing initiative is being conducted by GEO Partners, LLC during a time when more people are at home per the Governor’s “Stay at Home” directive. This includes over 30,000 students (K-12) as well as parents required to work from home and thus should provide the most comprehensive, accurate accumulation of actual broadband speeds ever conducted in the County while demand on the system is highest.

The data collected via a one minute speed test can be conducted from any device connected to your broadband signal including cell phones and will result in statistically valid data and mapping. This data will then enable any locale in St. Louis, Itasca or Koochiching County to utilize the validated information for a broadband expansion project and seek grant funding from the FCC, USDA or Border to Border state program. We anticipate a higher than normal volume of participation, partially because of all the students who are struggling to stay connected to their E Learning while living in rural areas in the county.

RAMS, as an organization has been a strong advocate for broadband expansion across the region.  RAMS’ and St. Louis, Itasca and Koochiching County Commissioners recognize that high speed quality broadband is a critical utility to economic development, education, business and virtual healthcare.  RAMS is grateful to the partnership with St. Louis, Itasca & Koochiching County on this project and encourages everyone to TAKE THE TEST and SHARE THE LINK https://expressoptimizer.net/public/   TAKE IT NOW! Your participation is important and no personal information will be collected.

Newest members of RAMS – We are excited to announce the continued growth of RAMS with the addition of the Minnesota Building & Trades to our corporate membership group.  The Building & Trades have worked with RAMS and other cohorts promoting safe and environmentally regulated mining projects, pipeline replacement projects and Union jobs that provide livable wages and benefits.  Anyone interested in joining RAMS, email Steve at: sgiorgi@ramsmn.org.  Biwabik Township is also the newest public sector member of RAMS and continues the growth of RAMS with our area townships.  Walt Hautala a long time member of the RAMS board of directors, serves as the chair of the township supervisors.  WELCOME to RAMS.  Thank you for your support.

RAMS announces a new website dedicated to broadband. Information, news about projects in our region, topical information and more.  Click on the tab on the RAMS website (broadband) or connect directly via: http://broadband.ramsmn.org…Enjoy this one stop location for regional broadband info.

DEED Announces 2019 Border to Border Broadband Grant recipients:
https://mn.gov/deed/assets/2019-project-summaries_tcm1045-416356.docx

Range Association of Municipalities & Schools – RAMS
Winter is Upon Us…and other updates:

Peter Clevenstine and Governor Tim Walz

Good things are actually happening on the Range…Here’s a snapshot of my perspective as the RAMS director:

Governor Tim Walz has been traveling across the state to see first hand what some of the state requested bonding projects are so he has a better understanding of their importance and need when it comes time for him to submit a list of projects for the legislature in 2020.  One of his visit included the Iron Range, where he stopped at the DNR Core Library in Hibbing.  The library is filled to capacity and has requested funding for an additional building that would enable the DNR to continue to collect, catalog and store the precious core samples from across the state.  The Governor also checked out the DNR runway at the Hibbing airport where it was obvious how sorely the runway needs to be replaced to assure the safety of our DNR pilots who fight fires and provide rescue services from this location.  This is the first time a Governor has conducted such a “bonding” tour and RAMS is happy he chose to do so.  With $5.3 BILLION in bonding project requests already submitted, it will be a challenging session for the Governor and our Range delegation as they try to secure funding for those most needed projects.
The Virginia and Eveleth/Gilbert school districts continue the hard work of consolidating the two neighboring school districts into one that will include the construction of a new high school in the Midway area, along with a new elementary building in Eveleth behind Progress Park and a new one at the Roosevelt High School site in Virginia.  Joint power agreements have been signed by both boards and a new advisory board is working regularly to deal with a myriad of issues facing the districts.  Public surveys and meeting were held to help develop a new name and mascot for the District and a public announcement is scheduled to take place at the first hockey game between the two districts.  Land acquisition is ongoing, a draft concept of the high school campus is soon to be revealed and in 2020 formal action to consolidate will take place.  This is an amazing development for the Iron Range and has spurred discussions between other school districts in the area as collaboration and cooperation continues to blossom in our region.

In Grand Rapids construction of two new elementary buildings is underway and may open next September for the students.  The Mesabi East school held a grand opening of their athletic complext including turf football, baseball, soccer fields, now all located next to the school. The Ely school districts has conducted surveys of the community to gauge their support for improvements to the district buildings that may include a new gymnasium as well as an enclosed passageway between the buildings and other needed upgrades.

PolyMet wins another case as the courts dismiss mulitple lawsuits over the project including the land exchange and rules for mining permits.  A case still left to resolves involves the water quality permit and dam safety permit.  PolyMet remains confident that they will prevail in these cases and hopes to make an announcement on financing for the project in the near future.

Twin Metals hopes to soon submit a “Mine plan of operation” to state and federal environmental agencies as they continue to finalize their mine plan.  Recently Twin Metals decided to use the “dry stacking” method rather than a more common dyke and damn tailing basin as dry stacking has long been considered a much safer yet more expensive system for disposal of tailings.

No new developments to report on the Mesabi Metallics (Essar) project in Nashwauk.  The requirement to have completed the pellet plant by Dec 31, 2019 looms ahead with no chance for completion.  This will allow the DNR to consider withdrawing the leases for the state lands currently leased to Mesabi Metallics.  Another concern is the deadline of January 20, 2020 when Mesabi Metallics has to pay $12 million in royalties to the state.  RAMS continues to maintain dialog with the DNR and the Governor’s staff on this project that is so important to everyone in the region.

IMPORTANT DATE TO REMEMBER – DECEMBER 19TH
RAMS ANNUAL MEETING AND DINNER @ the Mt Iron Community Center.

Nomination forms have been sent out – deadline is Dec 10th to return the form as we have 12 vacancies again this year.  Elections are held at the annual meeting.

To RSVP contact Lois at: rams@ramsmn.org

GOOD LUCK AND SAFE HUNTING IF YOU GO OUT!!

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.


Grand Rapids Schools

 Pat Medure – Board Director ISD # 318 – RAMS President

For eighty years RAMS has been working to promote legislation that is beneficial to our area and its membership.  We are “One Range, One Voice”.  The RAMS Board of Directors, are elected and appointed officials from cities, townships and school districts from across the Iron Range.  We monitor current and proposed state and federal legislation that may affect our quality of life.

Our Executive Director, Steve Giorgi has been working with our local communities to expand and enhance broadband access across the Iron Range. With the expansion of broadband across the Range, RAMS Board of Directors understand this will create economic opportunities for our area and enhance the quality of life we so enjoy!

We also monitor the local mining issues that are so important to our area, which has been part of our life on the Range for the past 135 years.  Whether it be iron ore mining, taconite mining, or the future copper nickel mining, we understand the importance of mining and RAMS will continue to be a player to promote mining in a safe and friendly environmental way.

From East to West, North to South RAMS is “One Range  –  One Voice”.  We are all in this together.

 

Message From Director

First off, I have to apologize for not updating this section of our website more often.  No good excuses other than my technical expertise with Word Press, is less than I need to be comfortable making some adjustments to the website as often as I should.  Please forgive.

By now you are all aware of the adjournment of the MN State Legislature without accomplishing their elected task…passing a budget (tax bill) for the biennium.  Divided legislature is supposed to be the favored arrangement to assure that one party rule cannot do terrible things to us innocent residents. In our case, it has not resulted in open dialog and compromise when and where necessary to achieve the ultimate goal, a finished product by May 17th.  Oh well as Minnesotans, we have become accustomed to “special sessions” to achieve success.  In this case the looming June 30 deadline that will result in a shut down of state operated services including state parks is the big hammer awaiting our legislators upon their return to St. Paul either June 14th or the 17th.

Hanging in the balance is funding for education, a resolution on the taxation of unemployment benefits, eviction of delinquent renters and homeowners, the Governor’s Emergency Powers, $15 million in LLCMR grant funding for projects in the TAA, a bonding bill, an energy bill and California auto emissions standards and oh yeah, police reform.  Let’s hope the behind closed doors leadership conversations have resulted in some solutions that can be approved by the full legislature whenever the special session takes place.

RAMS has been providing information and links to resources for America Rescue Plan funds that will be forthcoming soon.  Each and every community will be receiving on average $105 per resident. The funding is split into two equal payments, one coming soon and the other estimated to come 12 months later.  There are other large pots of money available for communities to pursue and RAMS hosted an informational Zoom meeting with Nick Dragisich of BakerTilly to help communities learn more about those funding opportunities. RAMS also recently shared links to the Congressionally Directed Spending (formerly called “earmarks”) that our Congressional delegation will have access to and hopefully will direct to some of our worthy projects in our region of the state.

As you hopefully have heard, I have announced my decision to retire from RAMS and try out the leisurely lifestyle for the first time in my life.  I honestly can say, I never regretted reporting to work for RAMS.  It has been a challenging and rewarding experience that enabled me to work with so many compassionate local elected officials, school administrators, state representatives and so many others.  I could never thank each and everyone who made a difference in our efforts to make the Range a more vibrant, growing and more prosperous region of the state.

The work is not done, and never will be, the challenges are many and ever growing and changing and that is what makes this position worthwhile.  Can we help see PolyMet start construction and dig the first shovel of precious minerals from the Duluth Complex?  Will Twin Metals one of the most advanced underground mines in North America get a chance to succeed?  Can the state and area mining companies figure out a solution to the former Butler Mine site and access the richest body of iron ore left in the State and also build an HBI plant right here on the Range?  Will we find a reasonable solution to the wild rice/sulfate debate that enables our communities to survive as well as our taconite mining industry while providing a long-term pathway for sustainable wild rice growth?  Will rural St Louis County, Aitkin County and Itasca County see the expansion and deployment of high quality, high speed broadband withing the next decade?  The pathway to our future is filled with potholes and dangerous curves, but as a region we have shown time and time again that we are a resilient, perhaps bull-headed region of people who are unwilling to abandon this region of clean freshwater lakes, abundant forests and the minerals that are needed to build this country.

I am confident that the RAMS Board of Directors will hire a very capable and spirited new director to lead RAMS into the next decade and beyond. Someone who will continue to work to bring consensus to our local leaders, to provide the platform to express our positions and bring people together to share the strength of “ONE RANGE – ONE VOICE” as has been done for the past 82 years.  I thank all of you who I have met, worked with maybe helped during my time with RAMS.  You all have made this such a pleasure for me to have experienced.  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Sincerely

Steve Giorgi



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