From the miscellaneous drawer - Of journalists past

by Anne Swenson

It was difficult to believe the enthusiasm for the Ely Echo spouted by those friendly, knowledgeable faces in the 1980s. He came from a journalism background and his wife was an Ely girl who became an attorney and Realtor. They were a striking couple, articulate and vivacious.<BR><BR>"Slabs Slabodnik was my dad," Pidge told me when explaining why they come to Ely from the Twin Cities. "We have a place on White Iron."<BR><BR>Their love of visiting Ely during the summer conflicted with husband John Hodowanic's job as executive director of the World Press Institute. Summer is when the 10 world journalists arrive in St. Paul to spend four months learning about the United States.<BR><BR>The Echo and the Hodowanics combined our interests and the WPI-Ely connection began.<BR><BR>The first year the Echo held the public forum in the JFK Cafeteria and lunch was at Vertin's. There were two journalists who made a special impression on me. One was Marie O'Halloran from Ireland who reported on the religious conflicts there and the war-torn atmosphere. The other was Irina Lagunina, a Russian woman whose health seemed fragile but smoked because that is what Russian politicians do and it was the way to get close to them for answers.<BR><BR>Originally the WPI journalists stayed in motels when they were here. It wasn't too long before enough Ely people came forward and offered to host the journalists in homes. <BR><BR>One year a fellow from South Korea argued about the environmental need to set aside areas such as ours - from the Superior National Forest on northward. Although his speech patterns made him difficult to understand, on that issue he was clear and adamant throughout his stay. <BR><BR>A fellow from Sri Lanka had a different view. In poverty-stricken nations such as his, environmentalism was a luxury the country could not afford. The country accepted the garbage and refuse of richer countries and disposed of the waste from other lands.<BR><BR>Since the Ely visit comes early in the WPI stay in the U.S., the journalists have only had about a week to get acquainted with each other and learn about the customs of the group's individuals.<BR><BR>That was readily apparent one year when the group included a journalist from Israel and one from Jordan. Yaron Deckel was a reporter with the Voice of Israel in Tel-Aviv and Khaled Abu Aker was political correspondent and night editor at an Arabic publication, Al-Fajr in East Jerusalem. Their tempers flared during the Ely forum and it did not bode well for the rest of their four month stay. Amazingly, by the end of the tour the two had managed to see each other as individuals to be respected and even promised cooperation when each returned to his respective news bureau.<BR><BR>So treat yourself to something new. Treat yourself to a bigger view of this planet where we live. Get a peek into the families who live on the other side of the world at the 2006 Ely Echo Public Forum.<BR><BR>Do you need to be well read and knowledgeable about politics, culture and the history of other countries to attend?<BR><BR>No. You need only be curious about people and you'll find that so many of the things which concern you - family, jobs, safety and the future - are the same things which concern the world journalists visiting Ely this week.<BR><BR>Come for part of the session Friday at the Grand Ely Lodge, which starts at 8:30 a.m., or come for the day. I think you'll be surprised by what you find.<BR><BR>* * *<BR><BR>In the Ely Echo of August 6, 1975 serving on the State Legion Tournament committee were Dick Marsh, Matt Stukel, John Vogel, Ron Harri, Bernard Mauser, Joe Kastelic and John Perko. Ely's Legion team included: Peter Scheuer, Charles Perushek, Tony Thompson, Marty Mauser, Jim Grahek, Paul Vidmar, Frank Kuhar, Keith Rhein, Garry Nelson, Dick Maki, Mike Tezak, Larry Grahek, coaches Matt Stukel and George Marsnik with batboy/girl Greg Tulla and Sara Marsnik.<BR><BR>There was concern that the $50,000 per month federal subsidy of the city's tertiary plant would evaporate and residents would have to pay the toll for the project.<BR><BR>A year later, in the August 4, 1976 Ely Echo Nina Garni had won the Miss Ely title. Fred Dargontina had filed for a city council seat. The city hired two new patrolmen: Archie Manning and Jim Hoberg.<BR><BR>In Winton, Adele Novosel was directing the comedy "See How They Run" at 320 Main Street as part of Sawmill Days.<BR><BR>