Headline Making Stories in 2015

Northland Year in Review: Part 1

2015 has brought many ups and downs for Northlanders. From pipeline protests and mine layoffs, to cold case crimes being solved. Here are the first three months of the year. 

January

The year started off with protests as hundreds voiced concerns and support for Enbridge’s controversial Sandpiper Pipeline. Farmers were looking to protect their livelihood and environmentalists protecting the Great Lakes, but the pipeline also had its supporters. 

Then, a shock for the Duluth community. These were actions Duluth Mayor Don Ness called “beyond heinous.” Duluth Firefighter, 32-year-old Caleb Lofald, was charged with criminal sexual conduct, possessing child pornography and interfering with privacy. Evidence was obtained from both his Hermantown home and a Duluth fire station. Graphic pictures of a 4-month-old girl and 6-year-old boy changing were found. Lofald later pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. 

For the second time in history, the International Paralympic Skiing World Championship took place on U.S. soil. More than 230 athletes took on the challenge in Cable, Wisconsin. 

An Iowa pig farmer set his sights on a piece of land in Northern Wisconsin, but locals were worried about the millions of pounds of manure they said could pollute nearby Lake Superior. Some believed farmers would follow the law and bring economic development to Bayfield. 

February

February came in with a shocking discovery. Duluth Police solved the murder of Duluthian Carolyn Andrew. This was a case that had been left unsolved since 1981. She was last seen walking from her family’s upper Woodland home on the way to a bowling alley. She was found partially submerged with a gunshot wound to the head in Twin Ponds. Investigators used DNA evidence to identify Cecil Oliver as the killer. Oliver killed himself 7 years after Andrew’s death. 

What many had hoped would be the largest ice sculpture in the world came crashing down February 3 in Superior. Roger Hanson, the Ice Man, said the weather was to blame for the crash. The city of Superior had invested $30,000 in the project. 

Good news for Cirrus Aircraft! The company announced plans for a $10 million dollar expansion that would create more than 150 jobs. Cirrus saying at the time, they didn’t have enough space to keep up with customer demand. 

March

What started as an average Wednesday in early March at the Hermantown Area Resource Center quickly took a turn for the worse. A pipe bomb was found forcing students and staff to evacuate the building. Members of the 148th and Crow Wing County Bomb Squad detonated the device. 

The next day brough devastating news for Iron Rangers. U.S. Steel announced temporarily idling of their Keetac Plant in Keewatin. This is the city’s biggest employer and 412 employees were affected by its shut down. 

The end of the month brought even more bad news. Just three weeks after U.S. Steel announced 412 layoffs at its plant in Keewatin. The company announced it would also be idling production of its Minntac Plant in Mountain Iron in June. Originally, 680 employees were being laid off, but that number changed to only 400 after they negotiated with union members. 

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