DULUTH, MN – It was a big year for the Northland. Several stories grabbed national attention, while others continued to dominate our regional headlines.
Here are the top 10 stories of 2018 as chosen by the KBJR 6 newsroom:
10: William A. Irvin on the Move
For the first time in 30 years, we watched the William A. Irvin set sail in mid-September.
With help from dozens of crew members working overnight.. the 610-foot ship made her way from the Minnesota Slip in Canal Park over to the Fraser Shipyards in Superior.
The move was all to help clear the slip of sediment and other contamination. Now that that work is done, we expect to see the Irvin back in her usual spot sometime next summer.
9: Super Bowl in Minnesota
It may not have been the vikings year, but it certainly was Minnesota’s year, as the Twin Cities played host to Super Bowl 52.
We watched the Philadelphia Eagles claim the NFL championship over the New England Patriots.
An exciting week of events not only for sports fans, but Minnesota businesses too which brought in big profits from the tens of thousands of visitors.
8: Team Shuster Wins Gold
Our local boys made a big name for themselves on the international stage this year.
We watched Team Shuster win gold at the Winter Olympic games in South Korea.
It was an impressive feat for this curling squad from Minnesota.
7: Minnesota Midterm Elections in the National Spotlight
The national spotlight was on Minnesota and Wisconsin in the high-stakes 2018 midterm elections.
President Donald Trump touched down in Duluth in June where he threw his support behind now Republican Congressman-elect Pete Stauber.
The president’s trip to Duluth was followed up by a visit from Vice President Mike Pence in August.
6: Police Protective Gear Proposal
A proposal to purchase personal protective gear by Duluth Police sparked community backlash and conversation.
After several rounds of forums, city meetings and public input the proposal went before the city council for a vote.
That City Council meeting was interrupted by protesters…
The purchase was approved in a 6 to 2 vote.
5: PolyMet Permit Approval
The proposed PolyMet Copper Nickel project moved closer to reality after receiving critical permits from the state in 2018.
Among them: the permit to mine, and the air and water quality permit.
Now the project awaits a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Several lawsuits also hang in the balance.
4: Duluth Lakewalk Pummeled by Storms
The Duluth Lakewalk was pummeled by not one, but two strong storms.
Both storms caused upwards of $27 million in damage between Brighton Beach and Canal Park.
Efforts to repair parts of the Lakewalk are underway.
3: Jayme Closs Disappearance
The disappearance of Jayme Closs and the murder of the 13-year old’s parents left a small Wisconsin community in shock.
In the weeks and months following the Closs’s disappearance, thousands of strangers from near and far volunteered to comb rural roads and woods for any signs of the teen.
Thousands of tips have poured in to authorities with few with clues about what happened on October 15.
A $50,000 reward remains on the table for information leading to the teen’s whereabouts.
2: Grain Elevator Fire
Superior firefighters battled a large grain elevator fire, the city’s second largest blaze in 2018.
Firefighters say a spark from a salvage machine caused the fire at the historic Globe Elevator.
The flames caused about $4 million in damage.
No one was hurt.
1: Husky Refinery Explosion
The city’s largest fire happened on April 26 when the Husky oil refinery explosion sent shrapnel into a tank of asphalt.
The explosion forced an evacuation of much of Superior, injured dozens of people, and lead to $83 thousand dollars in OSHA fines.
It also led to questions from the community and city, state and federal leaders about the dangers of a hydrogen fluoride tank housed at the refinery, just 150 feet from the asphalt tank.
The explosion caused 20 million dollars in damage.
Officials estimate the refinery won’t be running again until 2020.