Companies with five or more employees working in Duluth will be mandated to provide earned sick and safe time to their workers starting in 2020 under a policy the City Council passed last week.

Full- and part-time workers will earn one hour of paid sick or safe time for every 50 hours worked, with the ability to accrue up to 64 hours a year and use a maximum of 40 hours a year.

The policy, which faced resistance from some in the business community as it was being developed, exempts certain categories of employees — such as seasonal workers, a significant sector of the city’s tourism economy.

After months of discussion and various iterations, council members approved the policy on a 7-1 vote, with one member absent.

Pam Louwagie


Retail fixture Norby’s is closing after 112 years

Norby’s Department Store, a family-owned fixture in downtown Detroit Lakes for more than a century, will close after a liquidation sale this week.

“We had a great run and did the best we could, for as long as we could, while staying true to our core values,” the family owners said in an announcement on the store’s Facebook page.

The store will hold a liquidation sale beginning Thursday, promising to go out “with a bang instead of a whimper.”

Brothers L.J. and G.J. Norby opened the Detroit Lakes store in 1906. The company later added stores in Fergus Falls, Willmar and St. Cloud. Those stores were all closed in the 1990s.

“For ourselves and our staff, this is very much like a death in the family,” the owners said.



New website promotes playing, working, living

Hoping to lure more people interested in building a life in the North Woods, the city of Ely is launching a website promoting the town as a place to settle.

The site,, features professionally produced videos promoting local entrepreneurs, businesses, schools and amenities comparable to those of larger towns.

“Elyites end their work day and within minutes can be on the water looking to catch the next lunker,” the home page boasts. “There is something magical when you discover Ely that is the place you want to call home.”

The creation and maintenance of the website is budgeted to cost $28,000, said City Clerk Harold Langowski.

The city used $21,000 in Blandin Foundation grant money; the rest of the funding includes in-kind donations from the city and other sources, he said.

“Too often contentious issues end up being what Ely is noted for,” Langowski said.

“If somebody wants to know what it’s like to live in Ely or wants to come up here and start a business or get a job, we thought this would be a good way for people to get that message.”

Pam Louwagie