Taconite Harbor Energy Center receives Patriot Award

Mike Ross of Lutsen, an instrument/lab/environmental specialist at the Minnesota Power Taconite Harbor Energy Center, is also a retired U.S. Army Sergeant First Class. His last deployment with the U.S. Army Reserves was far from the North Shore in the desert of Afghanistan. He was away from his job in Schroeder from August 2010 to October 2011. On Wednesday, April 4, Ross expressed his appreciation to the co-workers who supported him and his family while he was away.
At the start of a safety meeting, Ross presented Taconite Harbor Managing Superintendent Dave Rannetsberger with a certificate from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ross said the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve division supports National Guard and reserve troops, working to protect the rights of soldiers, in matters such as job retention and employment. He said the organization also recognizes the companies that treat their military employees well. And, he said, Minnesota Power is such a company. Minnesota Power CEO Al Hodnik was also on hand for the presentation.
The “Patriotic Employer” award was presented to David Rannetsberger and Minnesota Power. The award was inscribed, “For contributing to national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force.”
Ross said thank you to Rannetsberger and the rest of the 47-employees at Taconite Harbor for their support. “This is for all of you,” he said.
Ross also presented Rannetsberger with a triangle-folded flag in an attractive wooden display case. He explained that the flag had flown over his base, Camp Dwyer. “The flag was in honor of Minnesota Power and Taconite Harbor. It was flown for you guys,” said Ross.
Rannetsberger gave Ross a heartfelt handshake and said, “I’m honored for you to nominate us for this award. You are the one who should be receiving an award.”
Taconite Harbor employees did make a presentation to Ross, a Bronze Star recipient, when he returned home safely to the North Shore. His co-workers pooled their money and purchased a special commemorative rifle, with military insignias. Ross said it was a beautiful gift. Asked if it made him cry, the retired soldier said, “No, but I was speechless and that hardly ever happens.”
He added, “I was surprised by the gift, but not that they did it.”