Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

Early voting by absentee ballot for the $10 million bond referendum being proposed by the Ely School District starts June 26, with August 11 as Election Day for the bond referendum. In order for our citizens to have the opportunity to be informed voters the District has complied information about the bond referendum, on our District website: or visit our Facebook page:
We are also holding public forums that at the present time are scheduled to be in a virtual format, using Facebook Live where the public can ask questions through a chat feature. You can go directly to our Ely Facebook Page (see link above) or our District website (see link above) to connect.
The public forums are scheduled for the following dates and times:
Monday, June 29 at 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.


Hook and Bullet Club

Searching for a sense of normal my wife and I found it twice this past weekend.
The first time was Friday night on Burtside Lake with Doug and Karen Luthanen. The four of us plus their lovable dog Rigby (remember the name) hopped on the pontoon boat and cruised the west end of the lake.
Doug grew up on Burntside and shared stories of his youth as we tooled along. He had a playlist of 200 songs for us to listen to and there wasn’t a clinker.
For those who don’t know, Doug is a bit of a Beatles fan. He taught a music class at the Folk School awhile back and the Beatles were the main chorus that night.
The pontoon replaces a runabout and it didn’t have a name yet. We agreed “Yellow Submarine” would be an apropos moniker.
There was a bit of nip in the air when we bucked the wind and then a heat wave that caused an outer layer to be removed when we headed into the sun.


When one of its own is in need, Ely rises up

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
For the majority of my half-century on this earth, and continuously since mid-1993, Ely has been home.
Both work and pleasure-related travel take me away often and there have been years with better than 35,000 miles spent on the road.
Few of the amenities that draw people here have any pull on me, and nights at a ballpark, arena, gymnasium and trips to Las Vegas or a vibrant, urban downtown trump anything resembling a trip to the lake or the woods.
Yet there’s something reassuring every time the Ely water tower comes into view on Highway 169. It’s home.
An event last week proved once again why that’s so.
It was around noon on the Echo’s deadline day last Thursday when Nick raced by my office and said something about a fire on West Chapman, which for 13 years was my neighborhood.
Curiosity called and the view once aside was both fascinating and horrific.


Two hours away, a different business reality

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
“I’ll need a table for four.”
For the first time since mid-March, those words came out of my mouth on a quiet yet sunny Memorial Day weekend afternoon in Superior, Wisc.
A milestone birthday, a shopping trip and the coronavirus made for an odd yet satisfying journey a couple weeks back.
If one would have asked me in February where I might celebrate a 50th birthday dinner, Grizzly’s in Superior wouldn’t have made the top-10.
Scratch that, it wouldn’t have made the top-100.
No disrespect to the franchise or the friendly staff at the business across the bridge from Duluth, but only the circumstances brought us there for dinner.
In a typical year, Hollee may have whisked me off to Minneapolis for a night at J.D. Hoyt’s or one of our other Twin Cities favorites.


Hot Rod was one of a kind

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
My friend Rod Skube never minced words.
“Hot Rod,” as he was known for years by many, was both quick-witted and acerbic, and never one to waste time in our conversations.
Often our phone dialogue would end abruptly, when another person on his nightly call list would dial in or he would simply decide it was time to contact the next friend or family member on his list.
“I gotta go,” he would often say. If he was less in a hurry than usual, he might add “tell Hollee I love her.”
The evening phone calls, which usually came twice or three times a week and started long before Hot Rod moved to Cloquet, were the evolution of a friendship that dated back more than 45 years.


Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

This has certainly been a school year unlike no other for our Ely School faculty, staff, students, their families and our community. The Distance Learning model of delivering education has been a significant change for all of us, presenting many challenges. I would like to thank students and their families for all they have done to make Distance Learning work in their homes.
While we have been navigating Distance Learning, our Ely School District has also been looking into the future on how to provide a 21st Century Learning environment for our students and community. On May 11, our Ely School Board decided to move forward with a $10 million bond referendum to raise funds that can help address the needs of our aging buildings, connect our buildings for safety and security, and provide new flexible learning spaces for 21st Century Learning. Election day for the referendum is August 11, and absentee balloting starts as early as June 26.


Miscellaneous Musings by FunGirlDi

Born and raised in Ely, I have always been extremely proud of my hometown. I graduated from Ely High School in 1979. I left in October 1979 for the Twin Cities and have been living in the ever-busy metropolis since.
Nothing is better than driving to Ely, coming around that last bend to see the beautiful water tower standing tall and greeting everyone who enters. Truly, there is nothing like coming back to what will always be home.
I am a third generation, 100% Slovenian and very proud of my heritage. My parents, John and Julia Chimzar Mavetz, married later in life (Mom was pushing 34 and Dad was 37).
At that time, they were written off as an old maid and a confirmed bachelor, respectively. Most of their friends had been married for years and a few were young grandparents.


Trout Whisperer - A bag limit

I was lying on the bank, to stay below the cool breeze, trying to stay warmer, and when the wind was not blowing, it would actually feel warm. Those warm moments, oh they felt so nice, but the wind would take my bobber out past the crappies, so I would have to sit up, then tuck my neck in my collar like a recently un-hibernating turtle, reel in, re-cast and then retreat.
I asked him, since I found a warm spot on the gray grasses from last year, if he would not mind just tossing my bobber back out since he was standing up anyway.
He said, you got any more of them Reese’s peanut butter cups, I said sure, I got a whole bag, he says, ok toss me one, and I will toss your bait back out.
And then my bobber started to slide slip surface and then into a dipping, I jumped up, caught a decent crappie, rebaited, cast back out, and retreated to the warm bank. The fish was fun, but I was more into the warm, and I think he knew it.


From the miscellaneous drawer

It’s lovely to live in the woods. Winter is my favorite time, even though four foot snow piles I wish were not are along the driveway, from plowing.
It’s marvelous to watch fox and deer wander and feed on the yellowish-green soon-to-be green grass.
What’s not lovely is the influx of eight-legged creatures who are faster than my foot or hand can assail them. Spiders are not welcome, nor are mice. Human visitors are welcome.
I’m spending less time at the office. The Echo crew: Nick, Tom, Lisa, Cam, Ann and Terri continue efficiently carrying on the work of delivering Ely area news. Guess that’s why we have more than twice as many subscribers in the area than any others.
* * *
The world as we have known it is changing. The classroom interaction of students at all levels is missing and schools and universities are empty.


Hook and Bullet Club

There’s a new dog in our lives. We’ve still got Morgan, our 14 year-old Yorkie, and Megan’s golden retrievers, Millie and Maverick. The new pup on the block is Hank, a black lab owned by Evan and Nella.
Being a puppy Hank kind of gets the run of the house, at least as much as Morgan will let him. Get too close to her at times and Hank will get a snarl and a good barking.
But puppies are resilient and Hank finds another toy or something else to gnaw on. He’s a big fan of Kleenex so the garbage can in the bathroom is now stored on top of a table.
Evan and I took Hank and the goldens out to the shack a couple weekends ago. All around our shack trees were harvested over the winter. It’s been 20 years since we bought Camp Cholesterol and we always knew this day would come.


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