Looking back at 2017: Ely Echo’s year in review

JANUARY

• A deal reached in 2016 unraveled and former zoning administrator Gregg Cramer sought his old job back.
• Gov. Mark Dayton’s $1.5 billion bonding proposal included two Ely projects - $1 million for the Prospectors Loop ATV Trail and $1.6 million to replace roofs at two buildings at Vermilion Community College.
• A “penny war” at Washington Elementary School raised nearly $4,000 for the new playground at the school.
• The Ely City Council gathered for the first time in 2017 and the newest member -Ryan Callen - was sworn in.
• City officials moved forward with a plan to sell the “Old Ford Garage” to developer John Ott.
• More than 60 area legislators signed a letter sent to the Obama Administration in protest of a decision that derailed the Twin Metals Minnesota copper-nickel mining project.
• St. Louis County Highway Department officials indicated that a bridge replacement project will close Highway 88 for 12 weeks in 2017, and another three weeks the following year.
• Speculation increased that U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan will enter the 2018 governor’s race.
• An opinion piece by an executive of Rapala lures, in opposition of the Twin Metals project, stirred unrest from mining supporters.
• The city of Ely received a $34,000 downtown beautification grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
• The Ely Echo was named official newspaper of the Ely School District and City of Ely.
• Ely’s high school boys basketball team upset Class AAA Hibbing 54-50.
• An Ely police officer will avoid jail time but lose his job after reaching a plea agreement in court. Jason Carlson admitted to an illegal sexual relationship with an underage girl.
• With the smokestack of the Pioneer Mine in the background, the Special Olympics torch was carried to the cauldron at Grand Ely Lodge for the opening ceremony of the Northland 300 ride.
• A 90-day public comment period began as federal officials sought input on a plan that would put mining development near Ely on a two-year timeout, with the possibility it be banned for as long as 20 years.
• The Minnesota Twins Winter Caravan came to Ely with players Hector Santiago and Eduardo Escobar, Mascot TC, radio voice Cory Provus and Twins legend Jack Morris.
• About 50 people gathered at Whiteside Park, aiming harsh words at the Trump Administration, and vowing vigilance.
• The St. Louis County Board tied on a resolution related to copper-nickel mining, prompting commissioner Tom Rukavina to propose splitting the county.
• A comprehensive planning process within the Ely School District began with a committee including school administrators, board members, staff and community members.
• The Ely Echo won a state newspaper award for its reporting on the controversial Twin Metals Minnesota project.
• An Itasca County jury awarded $28.6 million to a Marble woman who was paralyzed when an Ely school bus crashed into the car in which she was a passenger, but state laws limited the school district’s liability to $1.5 million, which will be paid by insurance.
• More than 900 people participated in the annual Fun Run snowmobile event, with the event wrapping up with a prize giveaway at Fortune Bay.

FEBRUARY
• The Ely Nordic Wolves won the state championship at Giants Ridge, toppling many much larger schools en route to the title. Ely also boasted the individual state champion - senior Erin Bianco.
• U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan angered some within the environmental community by taking action to reverse a decision that could curtail mining development near Ely. Protestors gathered outside Duluth’s Nolan office.
• The Great Nordic Beard Fest encompassed two nights and attracted dozens of participants and big crowds to the Boathouse Brewpub.
• The Ely Winter Festival got underway with numerous events including the annual snow sculpture symposium.
• Ely council members accepted the resignation of police officer Jason Carlson and authorized a severance package of $15,000, after Carlson pled guilty to a gross misdemeanor. Carlson was sentenced to two years probation
• Ely city officials put out the call for more assistance with the July 4 celebration.
• The Ely Utilities Commission advanced a proposal for slight water, sewer and electric rate increases. Projections show that utility bills would rise from $5 to $12 per month.
• State officials said that Ely’s aerial war on tree-killing gypsy months was a success.
• The prospects for a new playground at Washington Elementary School grew brighter when superintendent Kevin Abrahamson indicated that he’d recommend the district set aside $100,000 for the project, with $50,000 coming from this year’s budget and the remaining half in 2017-18.
•An Ely man died while in custody at the St. Louis County Jail in Virginia. Authorities identified the man as Jack Price, 50.
• Ely School Board members approved a revised 2016-17 budget that projects the district will take in about $392,000 more than it spends.
• An anti-mining group joined the federal government in defending a lawsuit brought by Twin Metals Minnesota.
• The latest round of hires at the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s Ely operation brought total employment to roughly 100 people.
• Mild weather forced the cancellation of this year’s WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race.
• The Ely-Winton Historical Society announced the addition of a sauna display to its museum.
• The International Falls Broncos broke up an upset bid by the Ely Timberwolves 8-2 in the Section 7A hockey playoffs. Ely finished 13-11 and had the program’s first winning season in 16 years.
• Ely’s eighth-grade boys basketball team won the championship at the Silver Bay Tournament.
• Several area residents, including a current and former county commissioner, filed suit against Gov. Mark Dayton, alleging he abused his authority when he took action to deny the renewal of state mineral leases for Twin Metals Minnesota.

MARCH
• A national media report suggested there may be a link between Twin Metals Minnesota and the Trump Administration. The president’s daughter Ivanka is renting a Washington home from a Chilean billionaire who owns Twin Metals.
• City council members heard that the Community Center building sustained significant water damage because of roof leaks. Insurance will cover the repairs.
• Over 300 guests and customers at Fortune Bay Resort and Casino were evacuated for more than two hours because of a propane leak.
• U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan announced that two Ely High School seniors were nominated for military service academies. They are Caroline Homer (West Point, Army) and Josh Heiman (West Point, Army).
• Morse Township residents approved a flat levy at their annual meeting. Bob Berrini was re-elected to the town board.
• In record time, Fall Lake residents concluded their annual meeting. It lasted only 10 minutes as the levy remained the same and Rod Gruba won another term on the town board.
• The Ely Area Cub Scouts held their annual Pinewood Derby and Wyatt Mattson won first place.
• Competing polls showed differing results about the extent of public support in northeastern Minnesota for proposed copper-nickel mining projects.
• Despite some bus trouble en route to the airport, the annual high school senior class trip to Washington, D.C., went on as planned. The delegation included 29 high school seniors. They toured the capitol and met with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan during the visit.
• The state of the Ely economy was a lightning rod as public debate yielded opposing viewpoints in Duluth, where the U.S. Forest Service convened a listening session on a proposal to withdraw more than 234,000 acres of federal land from mining activity.
• A snowmobile crash on Shagawa Lake claimed the life of Ely High School German teacher Christopher Yarger.
• The Vermilion Community College baseball team closed its season-opening trip to Florida with three straight wins, including a dominant outing by sophomore Louie Gerzin of Ely.
• Legal action brought by several area residents against Gov. Mark Dayton was put on hold over procedural and financial issues.
• About 40 cast and crew members were in Ely for the shooting of a movie called “Nobody’s Son,” which was written and directed by Tony Austin, a 1992 graduate of Babbitt High School.
• Cherry went on a 20-0 first-half run and cruised to a 64-36 victory over Ely in the opening round of the Section 7A girls basketball playoffs.
• Chisholm proved to be Ely’s nemesis yet again in boys basketball. The Bluestreaks won their third straight close matchup with the Wolves, eliminating them 62-49 in 7A boys basketball. Ely’s Carter Gaulke, Patrick Vanderbeek and Evan Omerza were named to the All-Arrowhead Conference Team.

APRIL
• April Fools’ Day spoofs in Ely included “news” that the Pioneer Mine would re-open, snowmobiles would be allowed in the BWCAW and that Ely is launching a Canoeber service for transportation in the wilderness.
• The sponsorship of an Ely event by a company opposed to copper-nickel mining resulted in controversy. At issue was Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s support of the Great American Canoe Festival.
• Mayor Chuck Novak logged many miles in Washington, D.C., lobbying lawmakers, aides and staffers of federal agencies in support of copper-nickel mining.
• The Ely Area Ambulance Service board gave 90-day notice to Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital that it would no longer contract with the hospital for ambulance personnel.
• Ely’s Erika Mattson was named to the All-Arrowhead Conference Team in girls basketball.
• Bob Berrini was elected chairman of the Morse Town Board, which also voted to support the Blandin Broadband Project to the tune of $2,500 by providing matching funds for a grant.
• Lake County Commissioner Pete Walsh visited with the Fall Lake board, addressing issues including the Lake Connections broadband project and road improvements.
• U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan were among the dignitaries on hand as groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Highway 169 improvement project. Construction began on the nearly $17 million project and longtime task force leaders Rudy Semeja and Bill Erzar were recognized for their efforts to advance the project.
• Former Duluth Mayor Don Ness was the keynote speaker at the Ely Chamber’s annual “Smile, You’re In Ely,” event. Tom Coombe was named winner of the Jackpine Bob Cary Community Service Award for his efforts in coordinating local baseball tournaments.
• Sato Travel inked a new five-year lease with the city to occupy the city-owned building in the Ely Business Park. The deal includes escalating rent increases.
• The Vermilion Ironwomen’s first win of the season was a dramatic one, as Desley Sabby’s three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh gave the community college softball team a 14-13 win over Northland.
• Senior Josh Heiman had three first-place finishes as Ely’s boys track team opened the season at the Chisholm Early Bird.
• The ice went out on Shagawa Lake on April 14, with Jack Hautala winning the annual ice-out contest sponsored by the Ely Echo.
• Boasting wages more than four times that of the tourism industry, mining jobs remain “the cornerstone” of the regional economy in northeastern Minnesota, according to a study commissioned by a pro-mining organization.
• Plans were announced for the first Jake Forsman Memorial Car Show and Burnout Competition, to be held in October.
• Five newly-planted trees were snipped by vandals at the Ely Veterans Memorial, with damages assessed at $1,500.
• Barbara Soderberg was honored by Vermilion Community College with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
• Ely School Board members got their first look at architectural renderings, prepared for the Ely Regional Community Complex board, showing how a proposed recreation complex would fit on the west side of the school campus.
• Dozens of area businesses were featured in the annual Progress Edition published by the Ely Echo.
• A new round of bidding showed the challenges the Ely School District faced in solving its costly health insurance issues
• Prom night in Ely was festive, with dozens of couples taking part in the Grand March at the Washington Auditorium.

MAY
• Action taken by the city council could lead to stiff fines, perhaps as much as $300, for those caught illegally dumping trash in city containers.
• There was sticker shock in the Ely School District as bids showed that the premium for family insurance coverage at about $32,000, which given the district’s insurance cap would put the burden on employees at about $20,000 annually for premiums.
• More than half of Vermilion Community College’s 166-member graduating class took part in commencement ceremonies. Jim O’Meara, a 2013 VCC grad who now works as a deputy sheriff, gave the commencement address.
• Authorities are investigating a reported burglary at Veterans on the Lake Resort. Most of the resort’s tools as well as a chainsaw owned by Team Rubicon were taken.
• After a series of meetings, the Ely School District has a roadmap for the future with the drafting of a district mission statement and five general goals.
• Ely’s fourth and fifth graders put on “We Are Monsters,” a musical performed at Washington Auditorium.
• Ely council members nixed a request by Northern Grounds to add off-sale liquor purchases. Owners of other liquor stores in town had lobbied in opposition to the proposal.
• The U.S. Forest Service settled a lawsuit with a wilderness watchdog group over towboat use in the BWCAW. The deal requires a review of all commercial use in the wilderness.
• In a national interview, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described a life-changing experience as a youth when he paddled and carried canoes near Ely while on a visit to the Northern Tier Scout Base.
• Ely council members voted to put the Community Center building up for sale and listed the property with a real estate agent.
• The Ely Rotary Club honored Junior Rotarians Felipe Reis, Caroline Homer, Erin Bianco, Josh Heiman, Anna Urbas, Zach Dean, Cate DeRemee and Teddy Pierce.
• Graduation ceremonies took place at Ely Memorial High School with 37 seniors receiving their diplomas.
• A public forum organized by mining supporters broke little new ground but allowed many participants to voice their frustrations with current processes.
• Animal care is coming to Vermilion Community College with the launch of a veterinary technician degree program. A $450,000 grant from the IRRRB helped launch the initiative.
• Ely area loggers said they were upset by provisions related to biomass in a jobs-energy bill under consideration by the Minnesota Legislature.
• Ely is set to receive a $75,000 increase in local government aid, thanks to action by state legislators.
• Ely’s Dennis Westlin rode 3,380 miles on his bike to honor those he served with in Vietnam.
• Josh Heiman had three first-place finishes and the Ely boys track team won the Section 7A North Subsection championship.
• Ely’s high school baseball team hosted seven other teams in the fourth annual Veterans Memorial Showcase.
• Louie Gerzin, a sophomore at Vermilion Community College, won all-division and all-region honors in baseball.
• Losses to Silver Bay and South Ridge knocked Ely’s high school girls softball team out of the Section 7A tournament.
• Jordan Richards gave the address at the Memorial Day ceremony at the Ely cemetery.
• Vermilion Community College was listed as third-best two-year school in the state according to website bestcolleges.com.
• Elyite Dick Mobilia recorded a hole-in-one on the fourth hole at the Ely Golf Course.
• Josh Heiman and Erin Bianco were named Arrowhead Conference Athletes of the Year.

JUNE
• Ely’s high school baseball team completed a dramatic run through the Section 7A playoffs by defeating Deer River twice in the section finals at Duluth’s Wade Stadium. After a loss to South Ridge, the Wolves won five straight games to advance to state, where they fell to Legacy Christian Academy and Martin Luther-Truman.
• Part of Pioneer Road was closed to through traffic as city crews completed infrastructure work.
• The federal government sought the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Twin Metals over the process that could lead to a 20-year ban on mining on federal land in northeastern Minnesota.
• A grassroots effort has led to support for a proposed dog park in Ely, with a site yet-to-be-determined.
• The city of Ely was hit with two lawsuits, one related to a blight case and the other with the old Ely Theater building.
• U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan announced he would not be a candidate for governor in 2018 and would instead seek re-election to his seat in Congress.
• Ely’s Emma Terwilliger, Caroline Homer, Ryne Prigge and Erin Bianco teamed to win the four-by-800 relay at the Section 7A meet. They advanced to state at St. Paul.
• Josh Heiman placed fifth in the long jump. seventh in the 100-meter dash and eighth in the triple jump at the State Class A track meet. James Schwinghamer of Ely also qualified and took 11th in the 3,200 run.
• The proposed community recreation complex in Ely got a shot in the arm with the announcement of an anonymous $5 million donation for the project.
• Rescuers were sent into the BWCAW when three young males called for help after attempting to run a rapids in the Lake One and Lake Two areas.
• Premium relief was expected after Ely teachers switched to a new health insurance plan.
• Ely hosted a national taste test for “Plink” the popular Slovenian alcoholic beverage.
• The executive director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy came to Ely to cite opposition to the PolyMet copper mining project on issues ranging from land exchange valuation to financial assurance.
• U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan found allies on the opposite side of the political aisle in his bid to support copper-nickel mining projects. Three Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, joined Nolan on a tour of the Twin Metals site and the group vowed to fight efforts that would ban mining on federal land in northeastern Minnesota.
• A Great Horned Owl with a broken wing was captured and brought to a rehabilitation center by an Ely couple.
• The city of Ely took ownership of the abandoned Pastika’s Bookstore on Chapman Street and will sell the building.
• A 29-year-old man from Maplewood accidentally shot himself in the rear end in the BWCAW.
• Ely’s Gage Merhar hit for the cycle and drove in nine runs as the American Legion baseball team blasted Aurora 10-0 in five innings.
• Cassie Swanson of Ely was the winner of the Semi Pro Stock and Women’s Ovals at Brainerd.
• Ely School Board members gave superintendent Kevin Abrahamson a positive performance review and a new two-year contract.
• The Ely Golf Course was the target of apparent vandalism and items were taken from the course as well. Officials at the course arrived to discover that several flags were missing and that five of the course’s nine greens had been damaged.
• Range leaders kicked off a press conference where they announced a boycott of a July 18 public hearing in St. Paul on the controversial, proposed 20-year mining ban on over 234,000 acres of northeastern Minnesota public land.
• Iron Range officials, including Ely Mayor Chuck Novak, rallied in Virginia for the Twin Metals mining project and called on the U.S. Forest Service to hold a “listening session” on the exploratory lease issue in the Ely area.

JULY
• Thousands lined Ely’s streets for the annual July 4 parade, and many from the crowd filled Whiteside Park after the parade for an annual community gathering. Fireworks over Miners Lake closed out the celebration.
• Zup’s Food Market continued its tradition of July 4 parade giveaways by distributing hundreds of boxes of Stove Top Stuffing.
• The St. Louis County Rescue Squad was called into the BWCAW to rescue a camper who had suffered a broken leg.
• Harrison Hirsch of Vadnais Heights was the overall winner in the Four on the Fourth run around the Trezona Trail. The run and walk event attracted 246 participants.
• Legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan would make it easier to open the region’s first copper-nickel mine. He introduced a bill to force a land swap vital to the PolyMet project near Hoyt Lakes.
• The Ely Rotary Club signed on in support and will help advance plans to develop a dog park in Ely.
• Minnesota Public Radio came to Whiteside Park for a two-hour broadcast that addressed many issues including the community divide over copper-nickel mining.
• Hundreds of people turned out at Washington Auditorium for the annual Patriotic Choir concert.
• While Ely has yet to do so, neighboring Winton has taken advantage of new legislation permitting Sunday off-sale liquor licenses and allowed Sunday liquor sales in Winton.
• A Tuesday Group forum evoked passion over the mining debate as anti-mining activist Becky Rom was challenged on a statement, attributed to her in a national publication, that those opposed to mining would turn public opinion in Ely “one funeral at a time.”
• The Ely School District will contribute $10,000 in funds to help match a grant received by the city of Ely for a broadband study.
• Ely’s Legacy Toys expanded to a location in the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth.
• John Weidemann won the People’s Choice Award at the Ely Greenstone Artist’s Choice Gala at the Ely Heritage and Arts Center.
• Fall Lake residents spoke out at a town board meeting about needed improvements to the Cloquet Line.
• Various abuses prompted the city of Winton to close its recycling center. The city instead is offering to pick up recyclables from Winton homes.
• St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber of Hermantown came to Ely as he announced his bid for Congress in 2018. He is running as a Republican and hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.
• The Indians beat the Cards 4-2 to win the Ely Little League championship. Iver Lepisto was the winning pitcher and had a three-run homer.
• A record 12-teams were in town for the Sir G’s/Ely Legion Midsummer Classic. Duluth Lakeview beat Fridley Gold for the title while Ely finished sixth.
• Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital has six new shareholders - all Jamnick grandkids. They raised money by selling lemonade and with some help from older family members.
• A $900,000 federal grant will be received by the Ely Behavioral Health Network to expand access to care and improve the quality of behavioral health care in the region.
• The Iron Range rose up for mining as hundreds turned out for a rally and public hearing in Virginia. Mining supporters dominated the hearing, which was called to take input on a possible 20-year mining ban on over 234,000 acres of federal land.
• Highway 1 was closed for a short time so a Life Link helicopter could land on the Kawishiwi Bridge to transport Jack Willis, 69, who was seriously injured in a fall at the Voyageur Outward Bound School. Willis would later pass away as the result of the injuries.
• Ely’s American Legion baseball team was eliminated from district play in a 13-inning loss to International Falls, at Nashwauk. Ely finished 11-11.
• The Ely VFW team was knocked out in two straight games in the district playoffs, held at Veterans Memorial Field.
• Participants at a community forum were divided over the prospect of placing a community recreation complex on school grounds.
• Emma Kari created the winning design for a pin that will be used for the 2018 Ely Winter Festival.
• New events at the Ely Farmers Market include introducing kids to produce, a dog-sitting service, vegetable races and contests for vendors.
• Ely’s Cassie Swanson and Kael Richards took home snowmobile watercross world championship trophies from events held at Grantsburg, Wisc.
• Erika Mattson of Ely won MVP honors at a regional high school girls softball all-star game.

AUGUST
• Ely council members went on record in opposition of a proposed withdrawal of more than 234,000 acres of federal land from mining activity.
• A house fire in Tower took the life of an 11-month-old boy who was apparently left home alone at the time of the fire. The victim was identified as Bentley Joe Lewis Koski. A Hibbing man, Jesse Lee Bonacci-Koski, was later charged with causing the death of his nephew.
• Ely’s most prominent developers are adding to their collection of downtown properties. Action by the city council set the stage for the city to sell the Pastika’s building to John and Tanner Ott.
• Ryan Quick, Cody Davis and Luke Olson were picked to represent Ely at a regional VFW baseball all-star game.
• A crash just outside of Ely sent a 72-year-old bicyclist to the hospital. Donald Ingerson was struck by a motorist on Highway 169.
• The Ely Chamber of Commerce launched a “Shop Ely” campaign, using social media and other efforts to spur local spending.
• The Internal Revenue Service held an auction to sell material seized from Wilderness Outfitters.
• Supporters of a proposed community recreation complex enlisted backup to bolster their sales pitch, calling on representatives of a facility in Grand Marais.
• Ely graduate Janelle Hakala combined her passion for meteorology and adventure into a gig with a government contractor and work at the South Pole.
• The rain stopped just in time for the 32nd annual Loony Day contest to go on as scheduled. Ben Tomlinson (adults), Atticus Richter (boys) and Lucy Dunn (girls) were crowned new champions. The contest attracted 20 participants and an audience of nearly 100 people.
• The Ely Area Veterans Memorial was dedicated Aug. 12, including remarks by State Rep. Rob Ecklund, Mayor Chuck Novak and a keynote address from Dave Merhar, whose Army career took him from West Point to the White House and overseas.
• Vermilion Community College celebrated the opening of its Timber Ridge Housing Complex. Bill Maki, president of the Northeast Higher Education District, greeted the audience that included State Sen. Tom Bakk as the school opened the 112-bed, $6.5 million complex.
• School board chairman Ray Marsnik floated the possibility of a public referendum on the proposal to locate a community recreation complex on the school campus.
• Journalists from 10 countries were in Ely for two days, staying in area homes, touring local attractions and taking part in a public roundtable discussion hosted and sponsored by the Ely Echo.
• Ely’s renovated VFW building, now home to Northern Grounds, was recognized with an award issued by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.
• The city of Ely added a $500 registration fee to register a “dangerous” dog.
• Ely area racers dominated the International Watercross Association watercross races on Fall Lake. Ian Van Vickle, Eric Mattila, Kael Richards, Nick Mattila and Kyle Lakner made up five of the six racers in the Semi Pro Open Finals.
• Vermilion Community College alumni Krystal Brodeen was named volleyball and women’s basketball coach at the school.
• Ely native Bill Smrekar was named to the athletic hall of fame at Cambridge-Isanti High School. Smrekar was the longtime hockey coach there.
• An architect engaged by the Ely Regional Community Complex board said there is ample room on the school campus to accommodate future growth as well as the proposed 50,000 square foot recreation facility.
• John Fossum, administrator at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, announced that he would retire in early-2018 after 20 years on the job.
• Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital threw a 60th birthday party at Whiteside Park, including the MEGA Body Exhibit and a health expo.
• State transportation officials indicated that the Highway 169 improvements between Soudan and Ely were proceeding ahead of schedule and within budget.
• Organizers said the 17th annual Boundary Waters Blues Festival had bigger crowds than in 2016, in part because of better weather.
• A “glow in the dark” night time golf event at the Ely Golf Course raised over $6,000 to purchase a Toro lawnmower for the course.
• The owner of Ely’s Mike Motors was killed in a motorcycle crash near Eveleth. The crash took the life of Don Hilligoss, 60.
• New sidewalks, planters and bike racks are some of the improvements that will result downtown after the city received a $34,000 IRRRB downtown beautification grant.

SEPTEMBER
• The school year opened in Ely with a jump in student enrollment. K-12 population was 596, up 14 from the previous year.
• Ely council members agreed to change the fire department’s equipment replacement schedule for the acquisition of a surplus chassis for a water pumper truck.
• State Auditor Rebecca Otto, one of several DFL candidates for governor, talked mining and more during an appearance before Ely’s Tuesday Group.
• Ely’s Jack Daniels band was revived after a 40-year hiatus. The group performed before over 100 people at band member Jerry Fink’s yard and later performed before a packed house at the Grand Ely Lodge.
• Nick Gardner of Stillwater and Ely’s Evelyn Bercher were the winners of the annual Trezona Run.
• The Harvest Moon Festival was held at Whiteside Park, as more than 100 arts and craft vendors sold their goods. The festival also included several entertainment acts, a food court and a beer garden.
• Gov. Mark Dayton was in Ely for one of several water quality meetings he convened across the state. Over 200 people turned out at the Grand Ely Lodge.
• During his Ely appearance, Dayton also reiterated his support for city bonding projects including a proposed trailhead and improvements to 17th Avenue East.
• Seven players from Ely won medals at a pickleball tournament held in Grand Rapids.
• The U.S. Forest Service announced plans to drop its BWCAW permit lottery system in 2018.
• A new school year brought a new grading system to Ely High School, including the addition of an A+ grade/
• For the second time in a year, a group of Ely area residents talked end-of-life issues with Minnesota Public Radio’s Cathy Wurzer. Wurzer hosted “The Reconvenings,” a forum held in the theater at Vermilion Community College.
• A proposed shift in how the local ambulance service is funded generated support in Ely and Fall Lake but opposition from Morse Township. At issue is a plan to move away from a per-person contribution and instead assess a charge on each real estate parcel.
• Leaders of the Ely Area Joint Powers board voiced skepticism about a proposal to build a community recreation complex on the Ely school campus.
• Ely swept the individual titles at its lone home cross country meet of the season. Luke Olson won the boys title and Ryne Prigge was first among the girls.
• Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital announced plans to convert to a new medical records system, a move that will better align records with clinic provider Essentia.
• The St. Louis County Board went on record in favor of a hybrid BWCAW land exchange bill.
• Overall turnout was up for the Ely Marathon and its associated races. Runners from 14 different states participated and the events had a total of 791 participants. Hunter Kingston of St. Paul won the 26.2-mile marathon in two hours, 59 minutes and one second.
• Carter Gaulke and Ryne Prigge were crowned Fall Homecoming royalty at Ely Memorial High School.
• Enrollment at Vermilion Community College jumped again, this time by 6.9 percent. It was the second-largest increase among 40 state colleges and universities and brought full-time enrollment on campus to 574 students.
• An Elyite was arrested and charged in New York and accused of stabbing another man in the face. Brian Padin, 25, faced numerous charges in connection with the incident in the village of Monticello, N.Y.
• Ely’s 19-game regular season winning streak ended in football with a loss at South Ridge.

OCTOBER
• U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) introduced the MINER Act, which would make it much more difficult to exclude federal land from mining activity.
• Ely council members voted 6-0 to make a change in the operation of public access television, selecting Todd Crego to replace Mike Jankovec.
• Officials in Ely doubled down their opposition to proposed wild rice regulations that, if enacted, could lead to massive utility rate hikes.
• Area leaders commissioned a pair of surveys to get business and residential input on demand for high-speed internet service in the region.
• Incredible Ely announced plans for a small business conference the following month at the Grand Ely Lodge.
• Leah Phifer, who has Ely family ties, announced her candidacy to challenge incumbent Rick Nolan for the Democratic endorsement in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Eighth District. Phifer is the daughter of 1977 Ely graduate Jackie Jensen Moen and the granddaughter of Jack Jensen and Sharon DeLeo.
• Home-school population numbers in the region jumped slightly to 19 students, but the totals remain far below of totals that were as high as 44 students eight years ago.
• Test scores released by the Ely School District showed that Ely students were performing at or above state averages in most subject areas.
• Former Elyite Michael Koppy, 67, prepared for a nearly 240-mile endurance race in Utah.
• Over 70 people attended a community meeting to address the future of the arts in Ely.
• Political fallout crossed party lines over comments made by two of the leading opponents of proposed area copper-nickel mining projects. Ely area residents Reid Carron and Becky Rom apologized over remarks attributed to them and reported by the New York Times. Carron called mining supporters “resentful” and said many “want somebody just to give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies.” Rom claimed that Ely council member Dan Forsman “drives to the mine in his truck, comes home to watch TV, and he doesn’t know (the BWCAW) exists.“
• Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held at Studio North to celebrate a grand re-opening and major investments to the business.
• Construction ended for the season and a bridge on Highway 88 opened early.
• An Ely property owner gained a temporary reprieve from the city council, which postponed action on a blight complaint. The city gave Brian Sherwood until Nov. 7 to rectify various issues.
• The Farmers Market moved indoors for the season, with bi-weekly sessions at the Grace Lutheran Church.
• After a banner regular season that included 19 victories, the most in at least two decades, Ely’s high school volleyball team was upset by Hill City in the opening round of the Section 7A playoffs.
• Ely’s high school football team finished 5-5, downing Bigfork in a Section 7 9-man quarterfinal but falling to Northwoods, the eventual section champion, in the section semifinals.
• Ryne Prigge, Luke Olson and James Schwinghamer all punched their tickets to state with solid showings at the Section 7A cross country meet. Prigge was the section runner-up in the girls race, while Olson was sixth and Schwinghamer 11th among the boys.
• On Senior Night, the Northeast Range/Ely girls swimmers dunked Chisholm 48-42.
• Opioids and drug enforcement were the hot topics at a drug forum held at Washington Auditorium.
• Gov. Mark Dayton remained opposed to the Twin Metals project, but he surprised some observers when he came out in favor of the PolyMet copper-nickel project proposed between Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes.
• About 500 people filled both sides of Chapman Street near City Hall for the first Jake Forsman Memorial Burnout Competition and Car Show.
• Fight for Mining Minnesota made its presence felt in Washington, D.C., as three members of the group, including former Ely Mayor Joe Baltich, lobbied members of Congress.
• Ely School Board members got an up-close look at several improvement projects on campus, including the installation of new windows in part of the Washington Elementary building.

NOVEMBER
• Jim Bensen, former president of Bemidji State University and a director for “Bemidji Leads,” challenged attendees at an Ely small business conference to adapt to a changing world and embrace the future. The conference was hosted by Incredible Ely and had about 75 participants.
• Stewart Mills, who lost close races to U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in both 2014 and 2016, announced he would not be a candidate for Congress in 2018.
• A draft report released by the Ely Regional Community Complex board showed that the group plans to raise $14.5 million for construction and an endowment to offset anticipated operating losses.
• Rape and gun charges were filed against Barney Lakner, 47, in connection with a June incident near Ely.
• The Ely High School fall production of “Footloose” was a hit, attracting several hundred people to a pair of performances. In lead roles were Blaise Lah, Erika Mattson, Jasiah Wigdahl and Emma Terwilliger.
• One of Ely’s newest police officers, Adam Borchert, is working as a resource officer two days per week in the Ely schools.
• Ely High School noted the 100th anniversary of World War I during a Veterans Day program at the high school gymnasium.
• A Delaware company with a long history of renovating and refurbishing buildings sought to add the Ely Community Center to its portfolio. City officials confirmed that they had received an offer from Princeton Commercial Holdings, which released plans to rehabilitate and repurpose the structure for events, offices and perhaps even retail sales.
• Seven Ely students took part in a high school choral festival in Superior, Wisc. They were Grace Erickson, Hannah Jankovec, Hannah Littler, Brandon Martin, Amelia Pluth, Caleb Rouse-Littler and Lily Sauls.
• The Ely School District announced plans to go high-tech with an upgraded website and eventual plans to make payments for fees and student lunch payable online.
• Despite frigid temperatures, Washington Elementary marked the completion of its new playground project with a Nov. 9 ceremony and ribbon-cutting.
• Ely High School junior Jacob Dayton isn’t a typical paddler. He’s back home after spending several months in Hawaii, where he was part of an outrigger canoe racing team.
• Ely’s Veterans Affairs Clinic expanded its hours and presence in town. The facility opened three days per week instead of two, effective Nov. 20. It serves more than 450 area veterans.
• An Ely man with a long criminal history was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. Charged was David Nielsen, 34.
• Ely council members went on record in support of the MINER Act, legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer in support of copper-nickel mining projects such as Twin Metals Minnesota.
• A lawsuit filed by the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers raises environmental objections to Xcel Energy’s proposal to cancel biomass power purchase agreements at facilities in Hibbing, Virginia and Benson.
• Four finalists were set to be interviewed for the soon-to-be-vacant chief executive officer position at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital. Hospital officials engaged an executive search firm to winnow the field.
• Saying “no kid should die of cancer,” 11-year-old Robert Towley of Ely announced plans to hold a chili feed fundraiser to benefit St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Tenn.
• Ely sophomore Luke Olson earned all-state acclaim in cross country after a top-20 finish at the State Class A meet in Northfield.
• Thanksgiving weekend in Ely included the traditional Thanksgiving night downtown shopping as well as the annual Christmas parade and lighting of the city Christmas tree two nights later.
• County commissioner Tom Rukavina initiated an effort to set aside $150,000 a year for scholarships at area two-year schools, from proceeds collected from mining royalties.
• Plans for a community recreation complex got a jolt when supporters announced the acquisition of a $1 million matching grant to go with a $5 million contribution previously received for the project.
• U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer’s MINER Act passed the U.S. House on a 216-204 vote, with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan among those voting in favor.

DECEMBER
• Brian Lamppa announced his retirement as Ely’s head football coach. He steps down after guiding the Timberwolves to four state tournament berths including a pair of trips to the state 9-man semifinals. Cory Lassi, his defensive coordinator the last eight years, will take over as head coach.
• Ely’s polling place will remain at the Ely Senior Center in 2018. That was confirmed when a resolution to move voting to City Hall failed for lack of a second, then was revived and amended to list the Senior Center instead of City Hall.
• State Sen. Tom Bakk doused the hopes of Ely city officials, saying it’s doubtful that the state bonding bill would include funding to improve 17th Avenue East.
• Michael Coyle was hired as the new CEO of Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital. Coyle is set to come to Ely from Sisseton, S.D., where he was chief executive officer of Coteau des Prairies Healthcare System.
• At his final annual meeting, outgoing Ely hospital administrator John Fossum gave a farewell address to hospital shareholders and staff and reflected on his 20-year tenure in Ely.
• One of the area’s leading opponents of copper-nickel mining, Ely business owner Steve Piragis, declared that he’d continue to oppose the Twin Metals Minnesota project even if federal regulators conclude it would “meet or exceed” current environmental standards. That came during discussion at the annual legislative meeting sponsored by the Community Economic Development Joint Powers Board.
• Ely’s Carter Gaulke, Eli Conaway and Blaise Lah earned All-District honors in high school football, and Collen Seliskar gained honorable mention.
• A Lake County jury has cleared a Wisconsin man of rape charges in connection with a 2015 incident in Isabella. After more than two hours of deliberation, the jury found Derek Foster, 31, not guilty of felony first-degree and third-degree sexual conduct offenses.
• The Ely Regional Community Complex board withdrew its request to locate a 50,000 square foot recreation facility on the west side of the school campus, citing opposition from school administrators and some school board members.
• The ERCC decision came nine days after opponents of the recreation center proposal dominated testimony at a Dec. 11 school board meeting, when board members voted 4-2 to table the issue.
• The results of the Ely School District’s annual audit show that the district’s general fund took in about $700,000 more than it spent in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Undesignated reserve - the most consistent barometer used by school officials to gauge the district’s financial health - climbed by over $450,000 to $2,610,525.
• The Minnesota Twins announced plans to bring its winter caravan to town Jan. 25, 2018, with a visit to the International Wolf Center and a “Celebration Under The Stars” event that coincides with the start of the Northland 300 Snowmobile Fundraiser.
• After a series of previous three-star ratings, Ely climbed a level this year to four stars and is one of just five libraries in all of Minnesota to be named a “star library,” by the Library Journal Index of Public Service, a publication of the American Library Association.
• Ely council members signed a three-year deal with bargaining units that cover police chief John Lah-tonen, clerk-treasurer and operations director Harold Langowski, deputy clerk Casey Velcheff, librarian Rachel Heinrich and assistant treasurer Dan Smith. The deal calls for pay raises of 2.75, 2.75 and 2.5 percent.
• A bear had to be killed after it attacked two Ely men near McDougall Lake.
• Twin Metals Minnesota regained its mining exploration leases after the Trump Administration reversed an earlier edict by the Obama Administration.