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State Senator Visits Silver Bay

On Thursday afternoon December 29th at 1 pm Minnesota State Senator Amy Klobuchar of the Democratic Party made an appearance at the Silver Bay City Hall in Lake County. Amy Klobuchar is the first woman elected to represent the State of Minnesota in the United States Senate. She has held this seat since 2007, re-elected in both 2012 and 2018. Before sitting on the State Senate she was a practicing attorney and served as the Hennepin County Attorney from 1999-2006.

The meeting was held at the city hall in Silver Bay with Mayor Wade LeBlanc in private chambers, was last minute, and was not open to the public. “Having a sitting senator come to your community is an honor,” says LeBlanc. Senator Klobuchar requested the meeting so that she could gather background information and ask questions about the effects of the recent mine shutdown that has affected the area. A few local residents that were previously employed at the mine were present in the meeting as well.

Cleveland-Cliffs is North America’s largest flat-rolled steel producer and supplier of iron ore pellets serving various industries. The company is embroiled in a royalty dispute with the Mesabi Trust, which owns the mineral rights where the iron ore is mined. Cliffs announced that they would be idling operations in both Babbit and the pellet plant along the shore of Lake Superior in Silver Bay back in May of 2022. This idle resulted in the layoff of about 410 of the 580 employees.

The economy, the mine shut down, and what it means for the area was discussed in the meeting that afternoon. “With the uncertainty of the mine being shut down, it’s hard. We figure it’s going to be opened back up. All indications say it’s going to be in the spring of 2023, but we still have to make it till then,” the Mayor of Silver Bay says. State Unemployment benefits for impacted workers expired in November 2022. “This is important. It affects us as a whole region. It affects every single business. When the state legislators go back in session we’ll see what happens,” LeBlanc comments.

In a recent press release, senator Klobuchar states, “Our country was built by miners and their hard work. Workers in Silver Bay want to do their jobs, but right now they’re facing an uncertain future. I’m working with local legislators to push for the extension of state un- employment benefits and want to see the mine reopened as soon as possible. I’ll continue to support the Silver Bay community through this challenging time.”

This shutdown and the repercussions could be detrimental to the area. “With everyone being on layoff and inflation the way it is, it’s tough. It’s a little different feel to this shutdown than ones in the past because the dollar doesn’t go nearly as far.”

A lot of people have taken temporary jobs. “That’s the ultimate worry we have. If they take another job somewhere else, and leave the community. We’ve got a lot of good, young families and people that have moved back to town and we just don’t want to lose them. The most important building in town is our school. We gotta keep that going for the kids and young people. We don’t want to see anybody leave,” says Mayor LeBlanc

Katee Rose
Katee Rose
Katee Rose grew up on the Great Lakes in upstate New York. She left home on a bicycle and embarked on a cross country trip to California following her graduation from college. This trip was the beginning of many more that eventually landed her in countries across Europe, Canada, Mexico and Central America. Learning the cultures, cuisines, history and traditions from the communities she’s spent time in around the world. Katee is passionate about community and social justice movements. As well as engaging with many forms of art and music. For the past 5 years she has called the North Shore home and has been enjoying homesteading a small slice of land in the Northwoods. She is involved in many community efforts around local food, building capacity for a more sustainable future and supporting the elders in the area.
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