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A bright 2014-15 is predicted for taconite

ALSO: Group says rural Minnesota is losing influence; Minnesota River board dissolves; St. Cloud to rejuvenate Lincoln statue; and more.

A slight dip in taconite production looks to be brief.

John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune writes that the future of taconite is bright for the next couple of years. A slight dip in production looks to be brief. Bob Wagstrom, who tracks taconite production for the Minnesota Department of Revenue, said “most of the difference was spurred by a million-ton drop in production at Cliffs Natural Resources’ Northshore Mining, which idled two production lines for most of 2013 after losing a customer. Some of that loss was buffered by an increase at U.S. Steel’s Minntac plant in Mountain Iron, Wagstrom said, and by continued increasing production by Magnetation, which has several small plants that recover usable ore from old mine waste sites. Northshore officials already have announced that they will restart their idled lines in 2014, boosting production. And Wagstrom said that with continued incremental increases by Magnetation and Mesabi Nugget — the state’s first iron nugget plant near Hoyt Lakes — taxable production could total about 40 million tons in 2014, a level not seen since 2000.” The story adds: “If Essar and Magnetation produce in 2015 as expected, and other plants remain near capacity, it would put Minnesota production potentially above 47 million tons per year, a level not seen since 1981.”

Two rural organizers say rural Minnesota needs to get organized, writes Kevin Sweeney of the New Ulm Journal. Brad Finstad, who runs the Center for Rural Policy and Development (CRPD), and Tom Horner, who runs Horner Strategies, gave a talk to the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce last week and said a study they commissioned found that as the Metro and larger regional cities grow, leaders take the issues of rural Minnesota less seriously. Finstad pointed out that rural Minnesota is “fractured by its own interests. Southern Minnesota corn and soybean farmers don’t have many common interests with northern Minnesotans who depend on timber or mining for their livelihood. This weakens the voice of rural Minnesota even more. … Horner said discussions of what will happen with the state’s billion-dollar surplus is another example. Repealing the sales tax on farm equipment repairs will have an immediate impact on rural Minnesota, he said, ‘but everything else is related to the metro area.’ There are plenty of things that could be fixed for rural Minnesota, he said,” including how property taxes are determined. Finstad said rural communities have to talk to each other. “When was the last time the soybean growers met with loggers? There are a lot of people hollering at the same time, but no one can hear what they’re saying.”

The Minnesota River Board voted last week to disband itself after 20 years of trying to clean up the Minnesota River, writes Tom Cherveny of the West Central Tribune. The Minnesota River Board was established in 1995 to coordinate basin-wide cleanup efforts between citizens, soil and water conservation districts, and non-governmental agencies. John Schueller, board chairman and a Redwood County commissioner, said they wanted to be like the Red River Basin Commission, which has taxing authority that allows it take on large-scale projects and leverage additional state and federal funds. But the Minnesota River Board has relied from its start on appropriations by the state and the membership dues of participating counties. Membership fell from 36 dues-paying members originally — 36 of the 37 counties contributed — to 18 today. State appropriations have ended. 

Amid all the talk about sexually abusive priests, this is where the rubber hits the road: Specific priests in specific parishes on specific dates. After the Diocese of Winona released the names of 14 priests accused of sexually abusing minors, Sarah Stultz of the Albert Lea Tribune was able to drill down to the four priests who served in that Southern Minnesota area: “two former Albert Lea priests, one who served in New Richland and another in Wells. … All four of the local priests served in the 1950s and ’60s. They are the following:

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• “Thomas P. Adamson, now 80, who served a stint at St. Theodore Catholic Church in Albert Lea in the 1960s, faces a civil lawsuit in Ramsey County over allegations of sexual abuse. (He) served at the St. Theodore Catholic Church parish in 1967 and 1968, at which time he was also chaplain of Lea College, an institution of higher learning on the west side of Albert Lea that shut down in 1973. He was removed from the ministry in 1984 and lives in Rochester;

• “William D. Curtis served at the St. Theodore parish starting in August 1968, where he served until receiving a new assignment at St. Teresa in Mapleton in January 1976. (His) ministerial privileges were suspended in July 1990. He died in April 2001 at the age of 81;

• “Ferdinand L. Kaiser, ordained in 1937, served at the All Saints parish in New Richland starting Dec. 3, 1952, until he received a new assignment in April 1967 in Iosco. He voluntarily resigned in March 1968 and died in January 1973 at the age of 62;

• “Leland J. Smith, 86, served at the St. Casimir parish in Wells, which includes both a church and a school, starting in August 1960. After a three-year stint, he was reassigned to Avoca and Lake Wilson. His ministerial privileges were indefinitely suspended in 1994. Laicization, or the process of permanently removing his ministerial privileges, is pending. He resides in Winona.” 

The others on the Winona list are interesting as well. Stultz lists them in the same article.

St. Cloud’s first statue, a 1918 copper statue of President Lincoln, is in bad shape and has a lousy venue just outside of an apartment complex. The city hopes to fix that by hiring a statue refurbisher to buff up the Great Emancipator, and then move the statue closer to the Mississippi riverfront and a new set of trails, writes Kari Petrie of the St. Cloud Daily Times. The project will cost $30,000 and will be paid for with local option sales tax and possibly some money from grants. The sculpture was commissioned by Mayor Peter Seberger in 1916 and made by the W.H. Mullins Co. in 1918.