Don Ness, the second-youngest mayor in Duluth’s history, walked away from the job last week after two terms, months after he announced he would not run for a third term — despite approval ratings of 91 percent.

His many fans were surprised last fall when some local union members banned him from the Duluth union hall (Ness said it was based on a misunderstanding), but they soon repaired relations and the ban was rescinded.

The Ness era was remembered and celebrated at a free, open-to-all farewell party last month hosted by Ness that featured local musicians.

Ness, who turned 42 Saturday, told the Star Tribune that “it’s been a real honor to go to work every day and try to make Duluth a better place.” For his next move, Ness said he and his wife will stay in Duluth and launch a small business, Hillside Ventures.

Ness was succeeded as mayor by Emily Larson.

Matt McKinney @_mattmckinney


Cleanup sites

State grants awarded for pollution cleanup

More than a dozen redevelopment projects around the state will share $6.2 million in pollution cleanup funding from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

In its announcement Friday, DEED predicted that the funding will help create or retain 2,322 jobs.

The projects range from cleaning up fuel contamination at an old lumberyard near Target Field to $903,636 the state will steer to Moorhead to convert a former rail yard into the 42-unit Honey Badger Apartments.

Other outstate grants include $142,045 to Owatonna to convert a former foundry and machine shop into a 36-unit mixed-use apartment building, which will include housing for the homeless. Virginia was awarded $107,370 to clean up a former industrial site for redevelopment into a car dealership that will create an estimated 20 new jobs.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks



Warm, rainy December wipes out ski hill’s season

A warm and rainy December doomed the ski season at Coffee Mill Ski & Snowboard Resort, an 11-run ski area carved out of the hills overlooking the Mississippi River Valley. Golfers were swinging clubs on an adjacent course in December, the month when the ski hill usually opens with man-made snow, said Coffee Mill general manager Rob Sill.

Even if it gets cold this month, it’s too late in the season to recoup costs, he said. The 28-acre ski hill would lose up to $50,000 if it opened now, having missed the holiday season, the board said in a letter posted on the resort’s website.

“We just ran out of days,” said Sill.

Coffee Mill season pass holders can ski free at Welch Village this year, he added, thanks to a decision by Welch Village’s management.

Matt McKinney @_mattmckinney