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Nolan meets with officials and vows continued support to the Arrowhead

Congressman Rick Nolan shares a laugh with county commissioners Peter Walsh and Rick Goutermont. Photo: Tammy Francois1 / 2
Two Harbors City Councilors Cathy Erickson, Robin Glaser, Jerry Norberg and Mayor Randy Bolen pose with Congressman Rick Nolan. Photo by Tammy Francois2 / 2

During a visit to the Arrowhead that included stops at local cafes on the North Shore, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan took a ride around town with Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen and later met with a group of city and county officials, law enforcement, representatives of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and former Mayor Dave Battaglia in an informal gathering at City Hall.

Bolen showed Nolan the site for the proposed marina and safe harbor project in an effort to secure the congressman's support. After the tour, Nolan enthusiastically lauded the city's efforts to develop the waterfront, the county's broadband project and the near-completion of the new visitor center at Tettegouche State Park by the DNR.

"Having represented hundreds of communities over the years, the communities that grow are the result of a few individuals who want to see growth and prosperity. They did what they had to do to get it," said Nolan.

"I love the idea of the marina and safe harbor you have here", he said, adding that the area is known for three things -- timber, taconite and tourism -- and that the marina is sure to draw visitors. Nolan pledged his efforts to garner support in Washington.

"I'll be shameless fighting for projects in the 8th District. Look for projects that you think will be beneficial to your community and together we'll push," he said. "Count me in."

County Commissioner Rick Sve asked Nolan about the expected 9 percent cut to payment in lieu of tax (PILT) funds -- money paid annually to Lake, Cook and St. Louis counties to compensate for lands taken off the tax base by the federal government.

"There will be cuts," said Nolan, but he said he's hoping that objections from constituents will result in Congress' review of the effects of broad indiscriminate cuts.

"To say we're going to cut back on PILT is a violation of a compact. You have to honor those commitments. When more members (of Congress) get out and talk to people, I'm hoping for a reconsideration of this thing."

"You see room to make cuts to reduce spending going forward, but not across the board?" asked Sve.

"Exactly," said Nolan, who also emphasized and cautioned that there is hard work ahead to negotiate changes in cuts. He said the Republican majority in the House has departed from a process that used to allow for amendments to bills and debate over pending legislation.

"Everything used to come up from committee and now everything is coming from the top down under closed rule, so no amendments (to bills) are allowed."

"Why?" asked Bolen.

"Because the majority makes the rules," answered Nolan, "but I think that's improving. Of all major legislation that's come forward, all has been passed by Democrats with the support of 50-100 Republicans

It's the beginning of bi-partisanship in a convoluted sort of way."

The meeting also included conversations about the brewing tensions with North Korea, impending and needed improvements to Minnesota's roads and bridges and the possibility of connecting the trails in Two Harbors to the larger trail system to draw more visitors to the area.

"People ask me why I do this and I tell them 'yes, I want to see perfect peace, social and economic justice, disarmament, but in the meantime there are little things that can get done. I love to work on little projects and get things done," said Nolan and he again pledged his support for city and county projects.

"That's what your office brings to Northern Minnesota," said Sve, "a get-things-done approach and we appreciate it."