Relief and Gratitude About Referendum Results on Range

Updated: May 15, 2019 07:00 PM

A sign in a yard in Virginia said it all. "Thank You." It was made in both Blue Devil and Golden Bear colors. It seemed fitting, since those two districts will soon share one joint academy high school.


Voters gave the ok in all three towns on Tuesday. 

"My wife and I were just ecstatic. It was seriously long overdue," shared Gary Eilola, who owns TextilesPlus in Eveleth. He's a Virginia grad, and so his wife. But they've lived in Eveleth for 30 years now.

Katie Larson, from Virginia, agrees. "I think it's a really good move for the Range. I think it's awesome for the children. They'll be able to get a lot of classes that wouldn't have been available to them."

Over in Gilbert, this was a harder sell. They are going to lose their elementary school. But there will be two new elementary schools, one in Eveleth and one in Virginia.

Wendy Bontems, who owns Yo'r Mudders Place in Gilbert, said, "For me, it's OK. As for my grandchildren, they will have to be bussed farther. So I'm not liking that too much. But it will be fine."

This took a lot of effort by a lot of people to get this passed. And changed attitudes. "People realized now is the time to do it. The schools are close to being 100 years old. We had to do something for the kids," said Gordy Coldagelli, from Eveleth.

"Even if you voted no, I'm sure you'll come around and realize that, real estate taxes pay for good things. And this is a good thing. I always believe in paying things forward," Eilola added.

The districts are working on setting up design meetings this summer, and are looking to get community input. Funding from Iron Range Resources and the state will pay for a majority of the $178 million dollar project.

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