Columnists

Fri
11
Mar

Anne…Here Goes Life…

Anne Swenson took a chance on hiring me at the Ely Echo back in 1978. I told her I would even take out the garbage... and she would recall when she took a photo of my nephew Brent Roberts and I picking up trash along the roadside earlier that year.
That was my real foot in the door. Heavenly Father has used many such circumstances to bring us together working 10 plus years on, 10 plus years off, and now 20 plus years on... and each week I wondered how long this would last as she downloaded my photos we’d have a little visit.

Fri
04
Mar

Rest easy, Anne. Your legacy carries on

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
Anne Swenson never cared about popularity contests, taking the easy way out or capitalizing on her gender to get ahead.
In fact, one of the statements from Anne that I’ll never forget, and one she repeated more than once during the decades I worked with her was this: “I don’t belong to women’s groups.”
Anne, who passed away Wednesday afternoon at the age of 85 and after emerging from a series of health problems that would have taken the strongest among us much earlier, wouldn’t have it any other way.
A trailblazer? Forget about that. She plowed through snow piles a mile high nearly five decades ago, when she purchased the Ely Echo.
Today, women own businesses, sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and serve in the U.S. Senate and one is just a heartbeat away from leading the nation.
That was unheard of nearly 50 years ago, when Anne became one of the only female business owners in town.

Sat
26
Feb

Lion versus lamb versus rain versus snow may be the back and forth weather battle this March

I was one of Jack Montgomery’s cub scouts back in the early 70’s. One meeting, he had all of us scouts line up and he gave us a sheet of paper to read. After I spoke the piece, he announced I passed the audition and would deliver the speech at the next pack meeting in the basement of the CC. That was the start of my interest in public speaking.
By the late 80s, I was working at KBJR TV drawing weather maps for legendary meteorologist Jack McKenna. Jack was a big fan of Ely and Winton. He had been a World War Two meteorologist who did forecasting for B-17 bomb groups. For many years after the war, he loved chatting with bomber crewman Tauno Maki of Winton about those days. Jack would also hobnob with Mayor Grahek during the sled dog races of the early 70’s.

Sun
20
Feb

Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Mary and I made a trip across the state to visit her parents in Perham. We doubled down by being able to watch granddaughter Kinlee race in a kids snowmobile circuit in Perham as well.
These kids, ages 4-14 were tough enough to be out in below zero temps and racing around a snow track complete with corners and hills.
Kinlee is only five but she has the one thing racers must have: no fear.
The races she was in featured 120 cc stock snowmobiles that can still move around the track pretty good with some allowed modifications.
Kinlee was having a hard time getting up a steep hill on the course and her dad Jacob had the solution on hand.
The rules allow you to either put a zip tie or a stronger spring on the throttle connection.
Jacob put the stiffer spring on first and the 120 suddenly sounded a lot faster. He even took it out around the pit area and it moved with him on it.
“Maybe that’s a little too fast,” he said.

Fri
11
Feb

Hook and Bullet Club

We have lucked out this winter with the snow conditions. My wife Mary and I decided to get back into snowmobiling and it looks like we picked the perfect year to do it.
Trail conditions have been great for each ride we’ve taken so far.
There was one trail, however, that wasn’t quite ready to be ridden on yet. There is a portage that connects Twin Lakes and the North Arm of Burntside Lake.
This isn’t on a main route but it’s a pretty ride through the woods. We saw tracks going that way and decided to give the trail a try.
We didn’t get far before we ran into Scott Olson who was finishing turning three sleds around.
“I have a hand saw but there’s too many trees down,” said Olson.
We moved our machines off the side of the trail so Olson and his family could pass.
Now it was our turn to go back from where we came. Both of our sleds are long tracks and there really wasn’t a lot of room to negotiate.

Fri
21
Jan

Busy Ely is Linda Fryer’s lasting legacy

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
Winter’s grip on the Ely area was extraordinarily clear last Saturday.
Snow was piled high and a step outside during the morning brought the greeting of subzero temperatures. Weather forecasts that morning proved to be accurate, with the coming days bringing both another onslaught of snow, followed by a return to the deep freeze and even a wind-chill warning or two.
A drive around town offered further evidence.
Covid and Omicron be damned, both locals and visitors were getting out and about. Frozen lakes were the destination for some as the trout opener ushered in the start of another local tradition.
Snowmobiles, and pickups or suburbans hauling snowmobiles, could be seen at gas stations.
People were also out and about in advance of youth basketball and hockey games, skiing on area trails, and those in Ely for dogsled excursions.

Fri
21
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

Our goal was to put on 150 miles over the weekend on snowmobiles.
With the amount of snow we have now, getting to ride in mid-January is a bonus and one to be taken advantage of.
Three sleds took off Saturday morning for our first ride of the year with me leading the way, my wife Mary next and daughter Megan the caboose.
We had decided that the first ride should be an easy one so we picked heading down the Taconite and going to Babbitt.
There was Saturday traffic on the trails, we counted over 40 sleds in roughly 45 mile round trip. Most were in groups of two to four.
After not riding for the past couple of winters, I had to quickly remember to hold up two fingers to let oncoming riders know how many sleds were behind me.
On top of that I had mounted radio communicators in my and Mary’s helmet so we could talk to each other while riding.
“Sledders coming,” I would say.
“Yup, thanks,” she would respond.

Fri
14
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club

Mary and I traveled south last weekend for two reasons. We went to Treasure Island for an ATV Minnesota meeting and then went to the Cities for a pair of high school hockey games.
The Legislative Summit is an annual event held to pitch policy and funding proposals. The Prospector ATV Club sent a couple of pitches up to bat.
The first was to change the law to allow ATVs on state highways that run through cities and towns. Ely isn’t the only place where you can’t drive your ATV on the main drag.
There are cities throughout the state where this is a problem and it’s one that can be fixed. This would help businesses located on those roads as well as people trying to get to them.
While fairly well received, the policy change wasn’t given a top rating, mainly because of the difficulty in getting it passed in St. Paul. Still, there’s hope.

Fri
07
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club

Do you feel like we were robbed of a holiday, specifically New Year’s? With the day off falling on a Saturday, many people didn’t get to enjoy a three day weekend.
Add in temperatures that were below zero during the day and colder than I want to know at night made the weekend feel like a lost cause. I huddled in my garage and got to work cleaning up for winter, a month late.
There were still plenty of deer hunting items to be put away, most of them had been tossed in the garage at the end of muzzleloader season.
Evan stopped over to visit at one point and we chatted about snowmobiling for awhile. Mary and I are getting back into the sport after taking two years off.
We have some great family memories of pulling into a gas station with five machines as our whole family would be out for a ride.
Those machines ended up with a lot of miles on them as we traversed around northeast Minnesota. I wouldn’t trade those days or those memories for anything.

Fri
31
Dec

Hook and Bullet Club

A phone call on Christmas Eve was a shocker. To find out Greg Mosher had suddenly passed away sent chills up my spine and tears down my cheeks. To lose someone who was 58 blew me away.
Greg Mosher was just a great guy. My good fortune was to be able to see him most mornings when I stopped at Blomberg’s on my way to work. Even if he was working in the back room he’d come out to chat and most of the time we talked about the Prospector ATV Club.
Greg was a great behind-the-scenes guy who helped to make a lot of things happen. He was a wiz on Facebook and was always posting things to the Prospector page from an upcoming ride to our club Christmas party. When I would fall behind on getting something done, there was Greg prompting me with friendly reminders.

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