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Mesabi Nugget and Mining Resources plants idled for at least two years

ALSO: Meat snacks firm is hiring in Chandler; St. Cloud, Duluth get emergency-response teams; and more.

Mesabi Nugget iron plant and Mining Resources iron concentrate plant
Mesabi Nugget, LLC

Bad news from the mines: The Mesabi Nugget iron plant and Mining Resources iron concentrate plant will be idle for at least two years, the Duluth News Tribune reports.  The culprit is pig iron prices, which are low enough that it costs more to make iron nuggets than they’re worth. The two plants are near Aurora and near Chisholm, and about 200 workers are affected.

Not that this helps much, but Monogram Meat Snacks in Chandler is hiring 30 new workers, according to the Worthington Daily Globe. Monogram has a $12 million expansion project under way at its plant in Chandler, which is halfway between Pipestone and Fulda. It’s hosting career fairs this week in Marshall, Pipestone and Slayton.

Pitcher Zacharie Schaubhut was hit by a come-backer in a pick-up game at Bemidji High School on Sunday. The 15-year-old collapsed and later died, the Forum News Service reports. His grandfather, Steven Schaubhut of Bemidji, said the family is unsure what led to the boy’s death. Here’s the memorial posted on the Bemidji Youth Baseball’s Facebook page: “It is with a heavy heart that our Northern Heat family asks for prayers for the family & friends of Zacharie Schaubhut. May God’s love heal your sorrow & may His peace replace your heartache with warm and loving memories. Zach has gone to play at that big field in the sky. May the skies be blue, the grass be mowed & the umpires make the right calls. Until we meet again …”

Ever wonder what happens when one of those train cars or 18-wheelers carrying anhydrous ammonia or chlorine crashes and sends a deadly plume of unbreathable air over your city? Until now, you had to wait for an emergency response team from the Twin Cities, Marshall or Moorhead. But with the passage of the new transportation bill, money has been set aside to add teams in St. Cloud and Duluth, reports Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Daily Times. The $900,000 appropriated will be used for training and equipment, but most important it will increase the number of emergency responders from the five or six now qualified to a full team of between nine and 11, and will allow these responders to, well, respond anywhere in the state. 

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Kay Paulus of Brainerd has three children, and among them they are allergic to eggs, nuts, sunflower seeds, dairy, chickpeas, fish and apples. Sarah Nelson Katzenberger of the Brainerd Dispatch writes that health-care workers in the area are working to increase awareness of food allergies and the use of Epi-Pens, which carry a portable shot of epinephrine to be used in case of an allergic reaction. Paulus’ oldest son once accidentally ate eggs from a mislabeled product and “had welts all over his body and couldn’t stop coughing,” she said. The Epi-Pen saved his life. School district nurse Aimee Jambor estimates there are 80 students in Brainerd with severe allergies. “Every teacher at some point in their tenure will have a student in their classroom that needs an Epi-Pen,” she said. Dr. Minto Porter, an allergist with Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic in Brainerd, said 1 in 13 children will have a food allergy of some kind. “That’s essentially two in every classroom,” she said.

And if eggs and nuts don’t get you, ticks will. Marcia Ratliff of the Winona Daily News writes that it’s deer tick season again. The poppyseed-sized tick nymphs are most prevalent from mid-May to mid-July. They can spread Lyme disease as well as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Powassan disease, Ratliff writes. She adds helpfully that not every tick carries disease-causing bacteria. She reports that in 2014, 896 Lyme disease cases were reported in the state, along with 448 human anaplasmosis cases and 49 babesiosis cases. Derek Barkeim, owner of Seekers Wild, which teaches wilderness and survival skills, says the tick threat is a seasonal one and they are mostly gone by midsummer. “There’s tons of empirical evidence that shows the benefits of being outside,” he said. “It’s just like poison ivy or allergies. … you just kind of have to put it into perspective.”

Speaking of things found outdoors, Josh Moniz of the Rochester Post-Bulletin tells the story of a man, Avery Rivera of Rochester, who faced his fears and went to battle against a great fish, a monster fish, a fish out of our communal nightmares. Rivera pulled a 70-pound, six-foot sturgeon out of the Mississippi River at the Great Alma Fishing Float. The sturgeon, caught on May 17, took an hour to reel in and broke at least one net; in fact, it took two nets – one for the front and one for the back – to lift the ugly fish onto the dock. Alma Fishing Float owner Jim Lodermeier said the sturgeon was one of the largest he has ever seen. Lake sturgeon is a protected species in that portion of the Mississippi, so Rivera, 20, had time for a quick snapshot of the fish before it was returned to the turbulent, roiling nightmare below.

The Fargo Forum crunched a few numbers and found that minorities are much more likely to face out-of-school suspension than whites. Minnesota as a whole saw a 20.4 percent decline in all out-of-school suspensions between the 2010-11 and 2013-14 school years, and those declines held for all races, according to data from the state Department of Education. However, suspension rates for black students in Minnesota was 24 incidents per 100 and 22.4 incidents per 100 for Native American students in 2013-14, nearly eight times the 3.3 incidents per 100 for white students. Shire Mohamed, who works with at-risk students in Moorhead, said the disproportion in suspensions is not due to racism but to ignorance. “The teachers that deal with these kids may not be able to understand the cultures and the backgrounds these kids are coming from, and they may not also be able to understand some of the situations they have been and some of the things that might explain the behaviors,” he said.

In Moorhead, there were 2.6 suspensions per 100 white students in 2013-14; black students had 4 incidents per 100 students and Native American students saw 14.5 incidents per 100 students in 2013-14. These numbers are all significantly decreased since the district started the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports system that teaches good academic and social behaviors, tracks incidents and rectifies problems. “It’s a national issue, and that’s why we have started talking about it in our district,” Superintendent Lynne Kovash said. “Is it cultural? Are there barriers we’re putting up? Those are the conversations we want to have.”

There’s another, unrelated part to this story: The byline is listed as “By hschm1” A Google search finds that hschm1 stands for “Homo sapiens clone hsCHM1 carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) gene, partial cds.” A Google search for CEA brings a Wikipedia entry that says it stands for “Carcinoembryonic antigen (which) describes a set of highly related glycoproteins involved in cell adhesion. CEA is normally produced in gastrointestinal tissue during fetal development, but the production stops before birth. Therefore CEA is usually present only at very low levels in the blood of healthy adults. However, the serum levels are raised in some types of cancer, which means that it can be used as a tumor marker in clinical tests.” What am I missing here?

Meanwhile, in more mundane matters, someone is burgling houses in Austin while the homeowners are asleep. The Austin Daily Herald reports that last Friday, officers responded to a burglary at about 5:30 a.m. at a home in the 300 block of Sixth St. Southwest. Police Chief Brian Krueger said someone entered the home during the night and took a yellow purse, an Xbox One, a pair of men’s pants and a wallet, and a set of car keys. The victims were asleep in their home when their items were taken.

A Forum reporter with the more conventional byline of Grace Lyden takes a Memorial Day story to answer the question “why does every college have a memorial union?” She starts by listing a few: “There’s Memorial Auditorium at Concordia College and memorial unions at both North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead, as well as at St. Cloud State, Bemidji State, and the universities of Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Arizona, to name a few.” She says the plethora of student union buildings came after World War II when colleges and universities were busting with students using the GI Bill and craving a place on campus to get a haircut, go bowling, read, or just hang out. They started dunning students a $5 activity fee and built student unions. Most of them were planned and built by veterans who were keen to remember those who didn’t get the chance to come back from the war and go to school, so they were named Memorial Union buildings. “Not all memorial unions are called that to honor veterans. MSUM’s Comstock Memorial Union honors the benefactor who donated the college’s original land. The Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota was named after a university president,” Lyden writes.