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3 things to know about St. Louis County this week

Three things people should know in St. Louis County; new plows, child care grants, film production incentive.

An orange-yellow snow plow sits outside in the snow.
One of St. Louis County's newest snowplows sits outside the public works facility in Pike Lake. It includes three plow blades and other snow fighting equipment that can be detached, making the vehicles versatile for year-round use.
Contributed / St. Louis County
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Here are three things you need to know this week about happenings in St. Louis County.

New snow plows debut

St. Louis County Public Works showed off the 10 new snowplows added to its fleet last week. The plows include a variety of features that improve safety and efficiency, including: better lighting to help operators see and be seen; additional side and rear cameras to help give operators better views from inside the cab; an integrated wedge-shaped tank that allows the driver to dispense material without having to raise the box of the truck; and more capacity.

"These are a significant investment in safety for our citizens and our staff," said Chad Skelton, St. Louis County Public Works fleet and property manager. "We appreciate the County Board's commitment and support that makes it possible for us to maintain a quality fleet of vehicles to better serve the traveling public."

Three snowplows sit inside a garage.
Three of St. Louis County Public Works Snowplows are on display inside the Public Works garage in Pike Lake. Each will last approximately 12 years and cover more than 300,000 miles in that time.
Contributed / St. Louis County

By the numbers:

  • 12 years - the approximate life expectancy of each new plow.
  • 3,000 miles - that's how many miles of roads the county is responsible for clearing every year.
  • 120 plows - approximately how many snowplows maintain the county's roads
  • $335,000 - the price tag of each new fully accessorized vehicle
  • 41 feet and 21 tons - the span and weight of the new plows.
Past contests have yielded such clever names as “Ctrl Salt Delete” and “Snowbi Wan Kenobi,” or a nod to Minnesota native Prince with “The Truck Formerly Known As Plow.”

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County Board approves $750,000 child care funding

The St. Louis County Board approved the use of up to $750,000 of American Rescue Plan Act money for funding a child care program to be managed by the Northland Foundation. The money will be distributed to existing license childcare facilities and to new startup child care business providers over a two-year period. Data from June 2022 from First Children's Finance shows that St. Louis County needs 55% or 2,332 more slots to accommodate families with children ages 6 and younger.

The funds will be used to support priority projects, expand access to fingerprinting equipment for background checks, provide training programs, support the startup and expansion of new childcare slots. In addition, three designated projects will be supported by the funds in Floodwood, Virginia and Duluth.

Film incentive program likely to continue

Board members heard from over half a dozen individuals involved in the film industry Tuesday, Nov. 29, during the committee-of-the-whole meeting. All of them were there to support the county's $1 million film production incentive program's continuation. Executive producers, producers, directors and a few local professionals who have been trained thanks to film projects in the area expressed their support for the incentive.

"This has offered me a way to build a life here, working with a film studio," said Bianca Geisdorf, of Aurora. "I was looking at the Cities after I graduated but now the only place I want to be is here."

Geisdorf worked on a few film projects as a graphic design artist. As of Nov. 18, there have been 14 projects through the incentive program with estimated filming budgets totaling $9.4 million. Of this amount, approximately $4 million was estimated to be spent on productions in St. Louis County with 25% of these funds expected to be rebated.

Commissioners voted unanimously to support the incentive in the committee of the whole. It will go in front of them again at the next board meeting Dec. 13 in Duluth.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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