ST. PAUL—A preliminary figure released by the state on Wednesday indicates Minnesota experienced its lowest number of roadway fatalities in 74 years in 2017. The 348 traffic deaths announced by the state is the lowest total since 1943 (274) and second-lowest since 1926 (326). In the neighboring states of North Dakota and South Dakota, traffic deaths stayed about the same as last year, but are also showing signs of dropping significantly.
DULUTH, Minn.—Bursting with horsepower to spare in what has been a banner season, the Great Lakes shipping industry slowed against its will in the past week. On Lake Superior offshore from Duluth, as many as nine freighters at a time have been anchored and at ease the past several days — mostly waiting turns to load iron ore pellets in the Twin Ports and Two Harbors. A rush to haul an estimated 1.5 million tons of iron ore pellets out of northern Minnesota in the last half-month of the shipping season stalled when arctic air enveloped the Midwest, sources said.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — The story of how this mill and hockey town became the epicenter of the pipeline abandonment debate starts at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church. Located less than a mile due north off U.S. Highway 2, the church sits on the edge of town with its back facing the west shore of McKinney Lake. With roots as a mission, the church was built in the early 1990s. White pines rise like an amphitheater around it.
DULUTH — The coming year almost promises to draw U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan into a battle for his political life. He's being targeted from all sides — both for his 8th District congressional seat, which is up for election in 2018, and his deepening support of mining expansion in northern Minnesota. But earlier this month, the 74-year-old congressman spoke with Forum News Service about a different, more personal topic. He was joined by his adult daughter Katherine Bensen in a conference call to discuss her incurable lung cancer.
AUTOMBA, Minn., — A rally in rural Carlton County on Monday, Dec. 11, drew a parade of protesters marching down the center of a county road — pastoral round hay bales on one side and a stockpile of pipe meant for the still-uncertain Line 3 replacement on the other. "It was peaceful," Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said of the protest, in which there were no arrests. "We had squads there to make sure the group was able to safely carry out their right to peaceably assemble, while also maintaining safety on the roadways for the motoring public."
CLOQUET, Minn. — Like how a rotund Kris Kringle squeezes through a chimney or his reindeer fly, the number of wreaths shipped each holiday season by the Stone Family Wreath Co. is a mystery. "It's in the thousands," said Bill Stone, with a twinkle of good humor while being proprietarily coy. Since 1997, three generations of Stones have operated the small business with a large reach.
CLOQUET, Minn. — The 1918 Cloquet fire remains the worst natural disaster on record in Minnesota history. Duluth News Tribune reports at the time detailed the loss of life and, in many cases, near-total devastation. The paper described "fiendish flames" and fire tornadoes, towns turned to ashes and bodies burnt to bone. There were lists in tiny typeface of the more than 450 dead and even more lists of those both missing or harbored at aid stations stretching from Moose Lake to Duluth and its surrounding areas.
While Rick Nolan legislates in Washington, D.C., as the current representative from Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, the race for the seat in the 2018 midterm election is swirling around him. Last week, Nolan, D-Crosby, voted to reject the Republican tax plan, calling it a "tax scam" aimed at helping the super-rich and big corporations.
Authorities continue to investigate the circumstances that led to a 24-year-old Duluth woman being found severely burned in the city's Fond du Lac neighborhood last Thursday. The Duluth Police Department was collecting "all the facts we can" about what happened to Jaclyn Arnold, it said in a news release Monday. "We do not believe the community is at risk at this time and will provide updates when they become available," the department reported. There has been an outpouring of community support for Arnold, who remains hospitalized in a Minneapolis-area burn unit.
DULUTH—Far out on the lake, a tug-barge can look like any of the other monster freight vessels that loll along the horizon. But as it closes in, finer points emerge. Two distinct names—one painted on the barge, one on back of the tug—and the sight of a tug tucked into the backside of the barge. "Most of the tug-barge combinations are converted from old ships," said 21-year Great Lakes pilot John Swartout, who guides foreign-flagged vessels to ports inland from the Atlantic Ocean.