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St. Louis County board thanks state lawmakers for session successes

"We are very grateful to our local delegation and the entire legislature for funding provided to local jurisdictions. This was the largest increase to counties in decades, and it's coming at a much-needed time." -- St. Louis County Board Chair Patrick Boyle

Legendary St. Louis County Board Chair Patrick Boyle spoke at a press conference at the DECC in Duluth this afternoon, where community leaders representing St. Louis County, City of Duluth, DECC and Spirit Mountain officially thanked state lawmakers. Representatives from Duluth Public Schools were noticeably absent at today's major press event. Howie / Duluth Times

By Dana Kazel

The 2023 Minnesota legislative session has come to a close. While details in various large bills passed during the session's final weekend are still being calculated and analyzed, St. Louis County leaders are thanking lawmakers for the support they have shown for county legislative priorities.

Three key funding formulas will deliver nearly $9.4 million in additional state revenue to St. Louis County. Through the Omnibus Tax Bill, the State's investments specific to St. Louis County include:

. $4.1 million increase in County Program Aid (CPA) funding

. $1.7 million increase in Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding

. $3.4 million in one-time Public Safety Aid dollars

"We are very grateful to our local delegation and the entire legislature for funding provided to local jurisdictions. This was the largest increase to counties in decades, and it's coming at a much-needed time," said St. Louis County Board Chair Patrick Boyle. "Inflation is causing tremendous burden on our budget, and this additional funding will go a long way to help ease the burden on property taxpayers while also addressing critical programming and infrastructure needs."

DECC Executive Director Daniel Hartman spoke at today's press conference. Howie / Duluth Times

County leaders also praised the passage of $194 million funding for the NLX passenger rail connecting the Depot in Duluth to Minneapolis. This funding could leverage another $750 million federal funds for corridor upgrades and new rolling stock. Train service could begin as early as 2026 with four daily round trips.

"High speed rail will be transformative to our area, to the City of Duluth in particular. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Commissioner Keith Nelson, who added, "I know the late Congressman Jim Oberstar is smiling down upon us right now."

Other projects funded include:

. $2 million for PFAS pollution prevention at St. Louis County landfills

. $2.5 million for a mental health crisis center

. $6 million to complete the county's portion of the transportation plan for the new Rockridge School

. $1.2 million for three ATV trail systems in St. Louis County

Howie / Duluth Times

Many other pieces of state-wide legislation will also have particular benefit for St. Louis County including increased funding for Community Supervision, housing and shelter initiatives, Public Health and Emergency Preparedness, Transportation State Aid, Local Road Improvement Program, Bridge Bonding, and Border to Border Broadband.

"We've got pieces throughout St. Louis County that are going to make a real difference for the residents who need help filling gaps," said Commissioner Paul McDonald. "I'm just absolutely thrilled to have the number of successes we had. Hats off to our legislative contingent who diligently stood up for what our needs are, and to all my fellow commissioners who made repeated trips to St. Paul on behalf of our residents."

Destination Duluth co-founder Branden Robinson spoke at today's anniversary celebration. Howie / Duluth Times

Destination Duluth celebrates anniversary

Destination Duluth is celebrating its 10th Anniversary today – 10 years to the day it launched its popular Facebook page, followed by Instagram, the website and most recently on TikTok.

The purpose of the non-profit is to foster a connected, vibrant and growing city. With the core values of being intentional, positive and genuine; their mission is to create and curate content that inspires, educates and connects people to Duluth, showcasing its unique quality of place. The vision of Destination Duluth is to see people filled with a deep sense of belonging and identity with Duluth.

On May 23, 2013, at a launch party at Zeitgeist, about 40 photographers, writers and supporters – every content producer in attendance – pledged their support and contribution to the non-profit as it kicked off its Facebook Page.

From the moment the Facebook page went live in 2013, it grew rapidly by showcasing incredible northland images of sunrises, ships, the Lift Bridge, and more; hitting 1,000 followers within a week and continued growing by 100 Page Likes a day for the next year and a half, hitting 50,000 followers on its 500th day.

Today, the Destination Duluth Facebook and Instagram pages have over 260,000 followers. Most remarkably, in 2022 there were 100 million views of their content on Facebook and Instagram, averaging 250,000 impressions a day. In 2021, its social media engagement was ranked third in the country in the tourism category by Since its inception, the content has been seen over 600 million times according to Facebook analytics.

But aside from the number of views of its content, Destination Duluth’s social media has influenced its followers to visit and enjoy the attractions and events our area offers; and for some, even to move to Duluth.

In a 2018 survey of 1,050 Destination Duluth followers, 50% stated they had visited Duluth because of Destination Duluth’s influence. Fifty respondents stated they had moved or were in the process of moving because of what they saw on Destination Duluth’s social media.

In a 2022 survey of over 500 followers over 50% stated they were influenced to go to Canal Park (75%), Enger Tower (40%), Split Rock Lighthouse (55%), Glensheen (37%) or Ship watching (62%).

Many stated what they saw on Destination Duluth influenced them to go to events such as Bentleyville (46%), and events at the DECC or Bayfront Park (24%) and the Duluth Airshow (14%).

In 2023, Destination Duluth is on target to once again hit 100 million views of its content and is in the strategic planning phase for what’s next as more funding becomes available.

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Duluth Elections 2023

Candidate filings for City of Duluth and Duluth school board positions will continue through Tuesday, May 30. The following seats will be on the ballot in 2023 (including registered candidates listed alphabetically):

City of Duluth

Mayor — Jair Dosser (withdrawn), Emily Larson, Jesse Peterson, Roger Reinert, Robert David Schieve

Two City Councilors At-Large — Ashlie Castaldo, Lynn Marie Nephew, Miranda Pacheco, Shawn A. Sauela, Jenna Yeakle

City Council First District — Wendy Durrwachter, Timothy Meyer

City Council Third District —  Roz Randorf

City Council Fourth District — Nathaniel James Rankin, Tara Swenson, Salaam F. Witherspoon

City Council Fifth District — Janet Kennedy, Ginka Tarnowski

Duluth School Board

At-Large – Alanna Oswald, Stephanie Williams

District 2 —  Sarah Mikesell

District 3 – Matthew Moses