To help close a gap of more than $6 million that yawned open over the summer, the artsy shipping city on Lake Superior had considered selling its prized Tiffany stained-glass window depicting Longfellow’s American Indian character Minnehaha, a one-of-a-kind work donated by a civic group more than 100 years ago. And some even pushed forward with plans to sell valuable beachfront property along the lake.
Ten years ago Duluth landed in the New York Times over a controversial sign in a campaign office window. Scott Cameron, a combat-wounded Vietnam War vet, made a sign tallying the dead and wounded in the Iraq war. While volunteering for Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Steve Kelley, Cameron placed the sign in the campaign office window, next to a U.S. Army recruiting office. The seven recruiters working there, six of whom had served in Iraq, found the sign disheartening and wanted it removed. Cameron said he did not wish to prevent recruits from signing up for the Army, but only wanted to honor those who made sacrifices.
Ten years ago today the New York Times ran a story titled “The Next Retirement Time Bomb,” which focused heavily on Duluth. The story opened by noting Duluth’s estimated unfunded healthcare liability in 2002 was $178 million. It concluded by stating the figure had ballooned to $280 million in 2005. Worse yet, though not mentioned by the NYT, the liability was projected to hit $417 million by 2015.
Where does Duluth stand one decade later? A state auditor’s report released last summer shows the liability has dropped to an estimated $129 million.
“The support of city staff, city unions, city councilors, community leaders and the Minnesota Supreme Court were critical to this success,” Duluth Mayor Don Ness said in a June news release. “But the foundation of the effort was a core group of five citizen volunteers serving on a task force (created when I was on the city council) that provided a 15-point road map to solving what was thought to be an unsolvable problem. That volunteer effort is the basis for the significant $288-million reduction in our liability today.”
Mr. Roberts Restaurant and Resort in Pengilly will be featured in this Sunday’s edition of the New York Times. Duluth-based writer Robert Lillegard reviews the “surprising new flavors” chef Sarah Master has brought to the lakeside eatery. The article was published online today:
The story of Sister Lisa Maurer, who serves as a football coach at the College of St. Scholastica, is featured today in the New York Times. Maurer is a Benedictine nun with St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, which shares a campus with the College of St. Scholastica. She joined the ranks of the coaching crew this fall, after spending years as one of the Saints’ biggest fans. Maurer will be on the sidelines Saturday as the Saints take on Saint John’s University in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs in Collegeville.
In a series for the New York Times, Damien Cave and Todd Heisler travel up Interstate 35, from Laredo, Tex., to Duluth, chronicling how the middle of America is being changed by immigration. They spend day 37 in Duluth.
“Welcome to the Sax-Zim Bog,” said our guide, Steve Weston. “Tonight we’ll be going through the towns of Sax and Zim, population nothing.” Moments later we drove by a snow-dusted, abandoned trailer, the front door hanging off one hinge. This was downtown Sax. Zim, a few miles to the north, wasn’t much more. Both are remnants of failed attempts to farm the bog that date back to the early 20th century. Now they are ghost towns surrounded by 200 square miles of wetlands.