Perseverance pays off. That's how Iron Range leaders feel about work they've done with congressional leaders on two major projects.
One is the new public safety facility in Chisholm. The other is a new water treatment plant to serve the East Range communities of Hoyt Lakes, Aurora, and Biwabik.
Senator Amy Klobuchar was an advocate for this Congressionally Directed Spending, also known as earmarks. She spent time on the Range, speaking about these efforts.
"The building we're in, the Chisholm Fire Hall, was built in 1908. Do you know who was president in 1908? Teddy Roosevelt," she said. "I channeled Jim Oberstar when I was working on these projects." She's also known about the aging fire hall for years, having visited multiple times.
Local leaders are very grateful for the support. Chisholm's mayor John Champa said, "We were looking at the budget at the end of 2021, and just praying that the $3.5 million was going to come through. It really made all the difference. We can only borrow so much," he said.
Police Chief Vern Manner said that a new building will bring a renewed sense of pride. "It's been time for a long time. It's actually going to be built, and it feels good for public safety, fire, and EMS in Chisholm," he said. The police station is attached to the fire hall.
The other project is a collaboration between several communities, and that's what helped get them $2.5 million in funding for the $24.4 million dollar overall cost for the water plant.
Mayor Doug Gregor, of Aurora, said, "It's a phased approach, and will include Biwabik and Hoyt Lakes. We are very grateful for the support from our Congressional leaders."
They know that getting funding for smaller towns can be difficult.
And neighboring mayor Jim Weikum, from Biwabik, added, "We are proud that the communities of the East Range work to do this as a collaborative."
Klobuchar added that Senator Smith and Representative Pete Stauber also worked on this funding.
The hope is to start both of the projects later this year.