Alex Montcalm, left, Sage Mankus and Brieann Theisen walk down a street in Brooklyn, Minn., on Feb. 27. Brookyln's proximity to the Hibbing Taconite mine means iron ore stockpiles sit on the edge of town.
As he was sworn into the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2001, Tony Sertich's thoughts were on the district he was newly elected to represent.
LTV Steel, one of the largest employers in the northern Minnesota, officially closed the gates to its iron-processing plant in Hoyt Lakes that day and laid off about 1,400 employees. The company said the plant couldn't produce taconite pellets cheaply enough.
"One day, these mining jobs are going to go away," Sertich, now commissioner of Minnesota's Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, said. "Probably not in my lifetime, but they ...