CHISHOLM — The U.S. Post Office in Chisholm will soon bear the name of Jim Oberstar.
The bill allowing for the renaming of the Chisholm facility in the late Congressman Oberstar’s memory has been signed by President Barack Obama into law. The bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Rep. Rick Nolan.
Oberstar passed away unexpectedly May 3, 2014, at age 79 in Maryland. Born in Chisholm, he was the longest-serving member of Congress in Minnesota history, having represented the people of northern Minnesota for 18 Congressional terms, or a total of 36 years. Elected to the House in 1974, Oberstar served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from the beginning of his congressional career until he left Congress in 2011.
Throughout his time in office, Oberstar championed support for Minnesota highways and was a driving force behind the creation of the National Scenic Byways Program. In 1989, he successfully pushed for a byways study by the Federal Highway Administration.
“A personal mentor and a devoted friend, he played a critical role in nearly every single piece of transportation legislation that was enacted into law during his tenure as a legislator,” wrote Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas and served with Oberstar on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to the Hibbing Daily Tribune following his passing. “Transportation programs, railways, highway, water infrastructure, the coast guard and maritime projects all have the imprint of Chairman Oberstar on them.”
Johnson described him as “a thoughtful policy maker whose impact on transportation and infrastructure issues reaches beyond the shores of our country.”
“Chairman Oberstar knew more about our nation’s infrastructure needs than any other legislator in Congress,” she added. “He personally assisted me and others in coming to understand the aviation, maritime, transportation and water-related needs of our great nation.”
The Chisholm post office will be renamed the “James L. Oberstar Memorial Post Office Building.”
“As a man of purpose and grit, Jim never stopped fighting for the people of northern Minnesota,” stated Sen. Klobuchar in a release. “Jim always remembered his roots while representing his district, from supporting critical transportation projects throughout the state to strengthening the safety of miners on the Iron Range. Now his hometown post office stands as a tribute to all he did to make his district and our nation a better place.”
Sen. Franken also talked about Oberstar’s dedication to the Eighth District.
“Our friend Jim Oberstar began his life in Chisholm, served the Eighth District for decades and accomplished so much to strengthen both Minnesota and the entire nation,” he stated. “We are all better off because of his service. I’m pleased to say that the post office in Chisholm is now a testament to Jim’s life and legacy.”
Nolan commented on Oberstar’s old-fashioned values and how naming his “hometown post office will serve as a wonderful tribute to his life for generations to come.”
“Jim liked to say he learned the most important things in life growing up in Chisholm — a love of ideas from his high school debating team, an appreciation for hard work from his parents and dedication to public service and getting things done from his first paper route,” he stated.
In January, both Range Regional Airport (RRA) in Hibbing and the Duluth International Airport announced plans to honor Oberstar.
The Duluth airport’s passenger terminal will be named after him, while Hibbing’s under-construction terminal will feature an educational display commemorating the longtime legislator’s efforts.
The Duluth terminal will be officially christened in an unveiling this year, and the display in the new RRA terminal will be installed once the project is completed in December 2015, according to the announcement.
In 2011, a Great Lakes freighter was rechristened in Oberstar’s honor, and a towboat also carries his name.
Additional federal legislative efforts to honor Oberstar have included moves to rename the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C., and portions of Interstate 35 and Minnesota 61 after him.