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St. Louis County Board backs scholarships for community colleges

St. Louis County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to spend $150,000 annually to create scholarships for local high school graduates to attend local two-year colleges.

The proposal, by Commissioner Tom Rukavina, dedicates some of the money the county earns from mineral royalties paid by mining companies.

The county earns mineral royalties when mining companies dig ore on county land. The county has earned between $900,000 and $1.4 million annually in recent years, although that could increase with current mine pit expansion plans.

That money has mostly gone into the general fund, although some has been dedicated to surveying land and paying for capital construction projects. Rukavina said the county should mimic the state which moves much of its mineral royalties to K-12 funding and University of Minnesota scholarships.

Anyone who graduates from a high school located within St. Louis County could be eligible. Details of who receives the 30 $5,000 scholarships offered each year would be hammered out by officials of the Minnesota State colleges within the county with campuses in Duluth, Hibbing, Virginia, Eveleth and Ely.

The state of Minnesota uses much of its mineral royalties for both K-12 funding and University of Minnesota scholarships.

Bars behind in property taxes get more time

Three bars in rural areas of St. Louis County that are behind in paying property taxes nearly lost their liquor licenses Tuesday, but one paid up and two others have been given more time.

The Black Bear Cafe in Vermilion Township has been given until Jan. 2 to pay up after a recent illness and death of an owner.

Border Guide Service Base Camp in Kabetogama Township was given until Dec. 19 to pay.

Owners of the Island Lake Inn in Gnesen Township paid their taxes owed before Tuesday's board meeting held in the Normanna Township hall.

The county requires that all property taxes be current or threatens to withdraw liquor licenses for establishments licensed to sell alcohol.

Stop lights coming to Jean Duluth-Glenwood intersection

County commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement with the city of Duluth to install stop lights at the often busy intersection where Snively Road/Jean Duluth Road crosses Glenwood Street.

City traffic engineers conducted a study and determined traffic flow at the intersection, which now has four-way stop signs and which can see backups during busy periods that stretch for blocks, easily meets the minimum required for stop lights as prescribed by state traffic codes.

The county will cover half of the $48,000 cost with the city paying the other half. Jean Duluth/Snively Road is also County Road 37.

Construction coming to upper Woodland Avenue

St. Louis County will move to acquire a little extra land along Woodland Avenue in Duluth, also known as County Road 9.

The county in 2019 will reconstruct a little more than a half mile of Woodland from Anoka Street to 20 feet west of Austin Street.

Public hearing set for L&M Radiator tax break

L&M Radiators' ongoing expansion would get a $350,000 tax abatement under a plan advancing with the county.

Commissioners on Tuesday set a public hearing for Jan. 23 for the $350,000 tax abatement promised to the hiring company that's undertaking an $18 million expansion expected to add 55 employees as it builds a new 100,000-square-foot manufacturing and office complex.

The new building will wrap around the existing 27,000-square-foot office and manufacturing building that will also be renovated, according to IRRRB staff.

The $18.23 million project will include $17.46 million in private investment from the company, a $250,000 grant from the Hibbing Economic Development Authority, $170,000 grant from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, a $350,000 IRRRB grant and the county tax break that allows for some of the project's future property taxes to be used for the development.